If you’re on social media, you’ve seen it: a single piece of furniture, surrounded by shiny white walls, with nothing else in the room but a perfectly placed lamp and fur throw—free of clutter and distractions. This phenomenon taking over your news feed is what some people refer to as “minimalism.” When put into tiny little pictures sprinkled across your screen, it looks attainable, even simple. That’s what I thought anyway, and I couldn’t have been more wrong.


Before I share my minimalism journey, I suppose I should start from what I consider to be the reason I’ve gotten myself into this situation. I was in eighth grade and out with my parents, when we ran into my best friend’s mom. After a bit of small talk, she said, “So did you hear what our daughters have been scheming?” Fear filled my eyes. What was she going to say? 



Things Moms Love (But Kids Hate)

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Written by Erin Pagel

As a mom or having been a child, you are likely familiar with things kids love but moms hate (I’m looking at you, Play-Doh). Moms also encounter things that they love and kids hate. Do any on this list resonate with you?


There are moms who love to shop till they drop. It’s a scavenger hunt for that perfect item to make the trip a success. They love it. Not kids. If you’ve taken a preteen shopping for anything other than athletic socks, you may agree. Between the eye rolling and sighs of discontent, there is little actual shopping done, and it is far from fun (for anyone).



Awkward Moments We Must Choose to Embrace

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Written by Amy Brase

Backrubs are my love language. Flowers are nice. Letters are sweet. Help with the dishes is glorious. But the key to my heart? The secret to my swoon? A good old-fashioned shoulder rub from my hubby. Add a foot rub, and it’s an extra special night. If a little head massage comes into play? Melt! 

Men, roll your eyes and groan if you must, but you have got to trust me on this one. Women, you know it’s true. A massage without expectations? Tenderness just because? Priceless. 

Maybe it’s the comfort level. There’s no one who knows me as well as my man, and there’s nowhere as comfy as our own living room. Or maybe my aching body just needs the attention. After all, hundreds of research studies boast of the health benefits of massage. Or maybe, I just sort of like to be pampered. 



Hugs are Important for your Health and Someone Else

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Written by LuAnn Buechler

"We need 4 hugs a day for survival, 8 hugs a day for maintenance, 12 hugs a day for change, 16 hugs a day for transformation." – Jack Canfield, Author, "Chicken Soup for the Soul"

There is scientific evidence that a hug a day can save your life. “Scientists are increasingly interested in the possibility that positive emotions can be good for your health. Support from a partner, even in a hug from a loved one, can have beneficial effects on heart health,” Dr. Manny Alvarez wrote for Fox News. Hugs may (or may not) be your norm with friends and family, but everyone could use a hug from time to time. 


Everyone I meet knows that I am a hugger, more so now than ever. For the last three years, I have been wearing a pin that says iHug™. It is an experiment to see how people react. Some look at it like it is promoting some type of technology. You can see the wheels turning in their mind…iPad, iPod, iHug? As they say it to themselves, it hits them, and they will throw out their arms with a big “I hug too” for a warm embrace. In other cases, it is a warning to people that I am coming in for a hug. If you wish to avoid it, you’ll need to stop me. 



Top Secret: Fears of a Homeschool Mom

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Written by Amy Brase

It was in the school supply aisle at Target that reality struck. The rest of the civilization had gone back to school that morning, and after five years of our own beautiful experience in a public school, we had made the inexplicable decision to homeschool. 


“Stick close to the cart!” I commanded my three kids. “If anyone talks to you, smile sweetly and act super polite!” I wasn’t even sure we were allowed to be out in public as the rest of the world’s children were tucked away in classrooms. Our first day was still a week away, but the panic, as we teetered on the edge of the unknown, had already set in. 



Online Dating: Who, Me?

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Written by Danielle Teal

Are you online dating? Yes, I’m asking if you are online dating. I know what you’re thinking: There are a lot of creeps out there. So, no one really wants to admit to doing it. 

The reality is people have been searching all over the world for a love connection on different mediums for decades. According to Lee (2016), finding love many moons ago existed through personal ads and even further back in history, lonely shepherds would carve works of art into tree bark to communicate their longing for human contact. It was inevitable that through the creation of internet, online dating would become one of the most popular attractions (literally) to browse on the internet. Match.com capitalized on the interest and debuted their site in 1995.  



Heigh-Ho! Heigh-Ho! To Disney World We Go

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Written by Amy Brase

It’s confession time. For my husband’s 40th birthday, our family went to Disney World. For my 40th birthday, we went again. While your mind wrestles with the weirdness of adults choosing a Disney park over an all-inclusive beach vacation, I’ll also confess that we had already visited both Disney World and Disneyland.


There are people who DON’T think Disney World is the happiest place on earth. Some of them don’t even think it’s happy. In fact, some have zero desire or intent on taking their children to meet Cinderella and ride Dumbo the Flying Elephant.

Understandably, there are many people who can’t afford a Disney vacation. But, it’s the ones who can and choose not to that intrigue me. What’s not to love about roller coasters, fireworks, musicals and sunshine? It’s the ultimate, harmonious family experience at a place that smells like cinnamon.


Author-Amy0BraseI’ve hit a new low as I beg my kids to let me smell their chocolate. It’s a stark contrast from my old life—the one before I embarked on a strict diet to manage Crohn’s Disease more naturally. And I’ve discovered the million dollar secret to weight loss: stop eating sugar and wheat.


I used to think people with food allergies had some sort of extra-strength survival skills and a crazy amount of self-control. The first time I witnessed a friend politely decline dairy at a meal, I wanted to cry for her. As the gluten-free crowd grew, I experienced sincere, deep sadness for them. Because there’s just no pizza crust that compares to one stretched from glorious wheat. I remember meeting a lady in a yoga class who said she couldn’t tolerate any amount of sugar. I wondered if she would ever be happy again. 



To Dream, Perchance to Sleep

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Written by CJ Fosdick

Sleep is a necessity, not a luxury.  Doctors suggest today’s adult requires seven and a half to eight and half hours (a night). Teenagers need nine hours, and infants need 16 hours of sleep to operate efficiently. By those standards, I’m an “inefficient machine.”


As a toddler, I was not big on napping…or lingering in my crib. Once, the story goes, my babysitter was asleep when my folks returned home to find their baby crawling around with a butcher knife. This earned me the nickname, Butchie.  

Once I learned to read, I had a bedtime ritual that took a bite out of sleeping hours. By the time I hit the teens, I was an avid reader and a determined night owl. When I did fall asleep, however, it was deep. A 5 a.m. fire alarm at the bank on our block failed to rouse me, as did my alarm clock and my shrieking mother when I overslept on school days. Skipping breakfast, I would run to the bus stop, praying the buses were also running late. The last morning bell would be ringing as I raced up three flights of stairs in my high school, threw my jacket on the floor outside my homeroom and sauntered casually to my seat, red-faced and breathless.

Fortunately, I worked on the weekly school paper and "journalists" had privileges. I could sign out on the blackboard, pretending to interview someone, then take my time to run a brush through wind-swept hair.  



People Say the Darndest Things

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Written by By Pam Whitfield

My ankle required major surgery last spring. I lay on my sofa in a cast for six weeks. As soon as the cast came off and the doctor said the word “rehab,” I gathered up my kids and flew to the Carolinas to visit my kin. At that point, I just needed some good ole southern lovin’ up. 

I was pleasantly surprised by how well Delta accommodated disabled passengers. And the flight from Rochester to Atlanta was filled with Southerners—the real Deep South kind. “Awww, darling, just look at you,” and “Bless yore little heart,” followed me all the way to my seat—in the bulkhead row. Several men fought for the privilege of taking my crutches up front to the steward.


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