Why I’m Such a Crystal Paine Fan Girl

******Disclosure: This post does contain affiliate links. When you purchase through these links, I will be paid advertising fees. All opinions are my own.*******

When I started my blog, in 2008, I was only in it to provide news of our family to my husband while he was in Iraq for 15 months straight. Blogs provide the perfect spot for photos, stories, and videos, without bombarding your Facebook friends with such a vast amount of footage!

It wasn’t until 2013 that I decided to set the blog to public and go for it.  I was already spending about 7 hours/week on my blog, might as well make a little money off of it, right?

The thing about blogging is that it’s one of those jobs that did not exist yet when I was in high school, or even in college. You couldn’t major in blogging.

Once you begin to blog for profit, you need skills, or people who have skills, in the realm of writing, computers, marketing, and design. That’s an elephant-size amount of skills to learn! And I still have a long way to go!

Learning the ins and outs of blogging, without spending much money at all, has led me to a few inspiring bloggers.

The one who I have learned the ABSOLUTE MOST from is Crystal Paine of Money Saving Mom and YourBloggingMentor.com. That’s the perfect name for that website because she is literally my blogging mentor.

Allow me to introduce you to my favorite blogging celebrity: Crystal Paine

My Fan-Girl Confession…

Now, first of all, I have to admit to you that I have never actually met Crystal Paine. I’ve seen about 15 or 30 of her videos (YouTube & Facebook), so I feel like I know her…..the celebrity effect….but in reality she only knows me as yet another obscure little blogger who emails her a lot….

Yes, I admit it. I have emailed her about 20 times over the past few years. Yeah. In fact, I’ve emailed her so much that recently I am getting replies from her people rather than from Crystal herself…

I know. You may be shaking your head at me right now and thinking this sounds awfully stalker-like. I promise I’m not a stalker.  I prefer the term “fan-girl”.

Hello, my name is April, and I am a Crystal Paine fan girl.

I subscribe to two or three of her newsletters, I’ve taken about 4 different online courses that she’s taught, I follow her on ALL of her social medias, AND I’ve read several of her books.

One time, I even got to be on her website. You can see that here: Making Over Your Morning as a Night Owl.

WHY I’m such a Crystal Paine fan girl

You see, in a world where no one teaches you how to be a blogger in school, you have to go hunting down that information for yourself. Crystal has proven to be an excellent resource this past year, as I have attempted to take my blog to the next level.

I love how her blogging products offer practical, actionable advice.

But even before I sought to learn from Crystal as a blogger, I was already an occasional reader of her website, Money Saving Mom. I enjoyed her videos because she pours her personality and work into them.

The biggest reason I am such a fan is that she seems to possess all of the exact skills that I struggle to acquire, and she teaches her strategies in a fun, easily accessible way that I can truly relate to.

Plus, we have so much in common! She’s a writer, a mom of kids similar in age to my own, a Christian, and she strives to live a healthy lifestyle.

My Favorite Crystal Paine Books and Classes

She has so many more than just these. These few are the ones I benefitted the most from because of who I am as a person and where I was in life at the time. I’m also super-stoked to read Say Good-bye to Survival Mode and listen to her FREE WEBINAR about that!

By the way, huge deal alert: Say Good-bye to Survival Mode is only 99 CENTS for Kindle for a limited time!!!

 

Crystal wrote a book about living a disciplined life! I scooped that up in a heartbeat!! Having a plan and a schedule is this huge struggle for me. It’s something I have to work hard at and learn from people like Crystal.

My default is to wake up, tell everyone to leave me alone while I drink my coffee, get the boys ready for school, then tackle my day with little to no plan at all.

Yes, I know. A failure to plan is a plan to fail…yada yada yada. We are trying, okay. There are four growing boys here. It is a j-o-b!

I cannot explain to you how hard I struggle to keep all the balls I juggle up in the air!!

All the kids….the house cleaning….the cooking…MOPS leadership….volunteering at school…teaching Sunday school…..and oh yeah!! The blog!!!

Can I get an amen here? Are there any of you who are just in this ultra-busy phase of life? Sometimes I just want to shut it all down and say, “Nope. From now on, I enforce rules and cook dinner. That’s it.”

That’s why I love Crystal’s books. She is juggling so many of the same things I am, but she brings time-management and discipline skills to the table that I KNOW I can learn from.

Alan is a fan too!

 
When Alan and I got serious about getting out of debt (car payments) back in 2009, we bought the book, The Money Saving Mom’s Budget. I found it quite helpful, and not only that. It was actually realistic!

But my favorite Crystal Paine moment was this….

Our Family’s Major Life-Changing Routine Inspired by Crystal!!!

Do you remember when Alan took over the laundry at our house? That was because of a YouTube video of Crystal’s that I watched where she talked about the strategic ways she and her husband divide up the work of managing their household.

I know. You want the YouTube link so you can show it to your husband too, but I have no idea which video it was!! I’m so sorry! It might have actually been part of her blogging class a while back that is no longer for sale…

I told Alan about it, in a very light, kind way, and I asked him what thing he’d like to make his responsibility. In a perfect world, we’d have a maid and maybe not have this problem, but in reality we can’t afford one right now.

I said something like, “Hey, honey. You know how sometimes I’m bad about not planning through everything? It occurred to me that I’ve never actually asked you what you would like your chore to be at the house. You do a lot, but nothing is like divided up and assigned to you except trash and the lawn. We need to have very specific jobs assigned to all 6 of us in the family to make this work.”

At first, Alan was very deer-in-the-headlights. He apologized, and we agreed that ALL the jobs can’t be mine alone now that there are four children. It’s not possible.

My husband’s decision

Alan thought about it long and hard, and he chose laundry, which was perfect because my doctor had just told me a few weeks ago that I did not need to be carrying baskets of laundry due to my low back and hip arthritis.

Spending less time on laundry was life-changing for me!! Plus, Alan usually does a better job of keeping up with it than I ever did.

Thank you so much for that, Crystal and Alan!!!

My Work Mentor

I enrolled in a one-time blogging course she did last fall where I learned the importance of doing Facebook Lives, which turned out to be an amazing way to grow my Facebook following.

Then this year Crystal opened up a whole new website for bloggers. If you blog, you have to check it out: YourBloggingMentor.com

When Crystal launched the “5 Days to a Successful Blog Launch” course a couple of months ago, I decided to read it. I didn’t think I needed it since my blog was obviously “launched” a long time ago, but eh, why not?

Oh, y’all!! I could write an ENTIRE POST on all the things I learned from this simple little 5 day course.

Spoiler alert: Some of the 5 days have way more practical ideas than you can implement in only a day. I have this huge list that I made from Day 5’s assignments that is going to take me all of September to get through.

So don’t let this fool you. It is not just for blog babies.

If you need to improve your blog traffic, take this course whether you already have a blog or are just starting one.

Link to Blogging University: Blogging University

 

Ya’ll!! I can’t tell you how much I have learned!! But this article has run long, so I’m going to save all of that information. Look for a future post in September, dedicated solely to how much I’ve changed my blog since taking this simple, inexpensive 5 Day Blog Launch Course!!

More good news!

I noticed that she is currently running a special FREE webinar for beginning bloggers, and I could not recommend that highly enough. Here’s the link if you’d like to try it out.

Now I’m just holding my breath and waiting for the intermediate course. You know she will probably do one before the year’s over!

So what about you? Are you a member of my Unofficial Crystal Paine Fan Club?? Do you read MoneySavingMom.com?? Which of her books would you like to read? Leave a comment below to let me know I’m not alone in my fan-girl-ness!

 

 


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My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

**This post does contain affiliate links, which means that when you purchase through links on this page, April collects advertising fees from Amazon.**

 

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

Was I always a little flaky? I don’t know. For years, I could get away with being very loosy-goosy with my planning because I was a stay-at-home mom of preschoolers. We moved all the time too, so by the time people developed expectations of me, we were off and away to the next town.

Over the years, I have slipped into a routine of planning as little as I can get away with planning. I’ll procrastinate decisions until they are made for me. Yep. Guilty of that. Sometimes I get this fear of commitment. If I sign up for things, I’m going to have to figure out how to actually accomplish those things with toddlers in tow.

And I never knew when my husband would be here or not be here, so making plans felt like shooting darts– real darts–in a room full of people, blindfolded.

No thanks.

So friends, that is how I became the version of April you have today.

April, are you going to the yada yada yada meeting?

**Total deer in the headlights**

Ummmm. Uhhhhhh.  Umm, yeah, you know, I might…

(Inside my head I’m thinking……IF all 4 kids are well, IF Alan is in town, IF I have energy left that day…..IF I am not supposed to actually be at Dan’s tee-ball game or some Army function that I can’t remember the exact dates for…..If, If, If…..)

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

I love to rock me some babies. Go away, world, until I finish this.

 

Actually, for the past 11 years those were all perfectly good reasons to be flaky, indecisive, unprepared, uncommitted, and unsure. Did I shut the world out a little bit? Yes, yes, I definitely did.

In fact, I had to google the word “twerking” not too long ago. I’m so out of touch with pop culture, and I kept hearing that word. All I can say to that one is ew, girl! Ew. Somebody get that poor girl a sweater and some capri pants.

But things keep popping up on our calendars, and I’ve re-entered the world of work with my blog. I actually HAVE to FORCE myself to plan and be less free-spirited, more grown-up like.

You people who have a plan amaze me, and I mean that in a good way. You totally have my respect.

You know when you are going on vacation. You’ve actually committed to specific dates, and you probably even know how you are gong to pay for that.

You have a budget.

You know when people’s birthdays are, and you plan for that accordingly.

You keep some sort of planner or calendar.

 My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan
About that….Y’all! I have purchased TWO different “planners” this year. They are both mostly blank. I have a calendar hanging in my kitchen too, which makes 3 planners, really. All I’ve written on that one is what the kids are doing for lunch and when their dentist appointments are.

I even downloaded an editorial calendar plug-in to try and start planning my blog posts. (It’s actually extremely helpful, fellow bloggers, check it out. It’s called “editorial calendar.”)

Only I’m so anti-structured in my thinking, I can rarely bring myself to write about what I’m ‘scheduled’ to write about.

I also have 2 different e-books I’ve written half of, and now they are just sitting on my hard-drive taking up space. My hard drive is so full, my computer has actually stopped letting me download or upload new things.

And suddenly I find myself wanting to change.

See, I bought all those planners. That’s the first step. I WANT to do the right thing and be all responsible again. I always was one-half responsible and one-half not at all, even back in high school and college. I used to make myself plans and stick to them, sort of. Well, I used to make plans. Maybe I never did really stick to them. I almost always turn in everything on time, actually, but I live in fear of signing up for extra things.

So I decided to pray about this today.

And this was my answer:  If you can plan out each day by making a list and crossing things off, then you can apply that same strategy to weeks. Then apply it to months. Then do that for years. Do it at the start of each week, each month, and each year, just like you are doing now for days.

Huh. Brilliant. Maybe even doable?

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

My planning tends to never go past the day that I’m on. This is the typical extent of my planning.

 

What I do now for each day is this. After I have safely delivered all of my children to school, I come home and have a little time for Bible study and prayer. You have to pour inspiration in to yourself if you expect to pour any out, right?

I close with prayer, and I ask God to help me make my to-do list for that day. I write the list out on the wipe-off board in the kitchen. Then I mentally prioritize the things that HAVE to get done.

That’s why I usually cook supper in the morning, by 12:00, because I know everyone HAS to eat, and I don’t want that task hanging over my head. Also, I have no energy left at 5:00pm.

I see no reason why this method for planning each day could not be applied to my weeks, months, and years, with one of the 3 planners I’ve purchased laying open on my lap.

My Brilliant Plan for How to Plan

And don’t even say that I should use my phone as my planner. I can’t do it. This falls under scatter-brained people problems. The minute I open my phone to use the calendar or some other useful, productive app, I immediately forget what I was doing and end up reading Instagram or my email or something.

So watch out, world! I now have a plan for how to plan!!!! Who knows? Maybe next week I will make a budget, a meal plan, or catch up on my 2,809 emails…….nahhhhh…

Please share your best planning tips in the comment section! We would love to hear more ideas! Thanks, y’all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Persistence: My Word for 2017

Persistence: My word for 2017

Daniel’s persistence is paying off in basketball skills. That same principle pays off in other areas of life too. Look at his feet in the picture! This shot doesn’t look like it went in, but he took about 200 more shots, and many of them did go in.

The Christmas presents have all been opened, the grandparents have all been visited, the cousins have been played with, and the tree…..well, the tree is still up. It’s pretty. I’m reluctant to take it down.

And today is New Year’s Eve. Time to pick a goal, a resolution, a plan!!! Or as my adorable little boys say, “It’s time for our New Year’s revolution!” That makes me smile every time.

Persistence: My word for 2017

I may not have daughters, but I have adorable nieces.

So did you set goals? I have goals in mind, but this year I’m focusing more on this word: persistence.

For me, that’s about persisting in what I know is the right thing to do, even when I’m not seeing immediate results. I’m often guilty of throwing in the towel when results aren’t as big and quick as I want them to be. I get bored with a thing and move on to another. That’s not a highly productive way to live.

Persistence: My word for 2017

Fishing takes persistence too. The boys enjoyed fishing this Christmas, but they didn’t catch anything this time.

I want to be more persistent:

 

Persistence: My word for 2017

one of my boy’s Bible journal tabs

-With Bible reading and prayer

I have found this to be most effective when done in the morning, and mornings are rough when you are raising children. One thing I am working on is getting up earlier to get this done before the morning rush, but when I fail to get up early, Bible time has to move to 8am, and that’s okay. Late is better than not at all.

-As a wife

The hardest part for me sometimes is just being “nice.” Bahhhh. Niceness. But niceness is extremely important in a marriage, in any relationship. I want to be right more than I want to be nice. I actually need to stop being so persistent about being right!

Persistence: My word for 2017

-As a mom

The hardest part for me is sticking with a plan. I’ll assign chores, and I’ll make sure everyone’s dong their assigned chores for about a week, and then I start to slide, especially about the “kitchen helper” chore. They need to do it. It’s good for them. I need to persist in making sure they are there to help me with dinner and not be lazy by doing it myself.

Yes, sometimes simply doing it yourself is actually the lazy way out. Training a tot to do a job is much more work than just handling it for them.

I need persistence with discipline too. It’s such a drag, but the kids are so much more pleasant to be around when you do it consistently instead of hit and miss.

-As a blogger

There should be a schedule. Posts should come out like clock work instead of so very mixed bag. I know there should be a schedule. I can’t promise a schedule, but I will make one. I can’t promise to stick to it, because I am a scatter-brained, free-spirited mom of four.

-As a writer

I’m hoping to enroll JD in part-time pre-school a couple of days per week. This will help me get more writing done, and I can start going to the dentist again.

-With my health

I’m using a Fitbit Charge II to help me get into better patterns this year, and I’m loving it.

Persistence: My word for 2017

-With my house

I’m good about getting dinner cooked each night, and Alan has now taken over the laundry. That goes a long way. However, I need to be more persistent about spending an hour or two  each day cleaning house. Yes, in our phase of life it requires that.

 

So who’s ready for 2017? What would you like to accomplish this year? Do you have a word? Our pastor gave us a list on Christmas day of words we could pick from. It was a helpful list. I lost that list, and I can’t remember them all. Persistence was on there. I think it had several fruits of the spirit, so I will do my best to re-construct the list:

Words to Focus on for 2017:

faith

hope

love

faith

persistence

joy

peace

goodness

self-control

kindness

Persistence: My word for 2017

Us with Alan’s side of the family

Persistence: My word for 2017

This is us with Alan’s mother’s side of the family. It was a fun Christmas.

Happy New Year’s! I hope it’s a happy one! I’d love to hear about your goals.

Did you blog about your goals? Link up below. We’d love to read it!



 

 

 

 

 

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