Why I’m Such a Crystal Paine Fan Girl

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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!












Making Over My Morning…Like a Night Owl

Make Over Your Morning Like a Night Owl!

I’ve mentioned before that I signed up for the Make Over Your Morning Course by Crystal Paine, of MoneySavingMom.com.

I can’t tell you how many of my friends have asked me how that’s going! And some of you mentioned the same misgivings that I felt:
“I saw the part about her waking up at 5:45am, and decided that is not for me.”

I love that I have friends that I can relate to.

I have friends that are morning people too, and I’m always trying to get into their heads and figure out HOW they do it!

I asked one of my high energy friends this question– How do you get up so early?

She said, “Oh, I just love getting up early in the morning.”


I figured she must have a great deal of self-discipline to make herself go to bed early enough to be able to get up before 6 every morning, so I forged on with my cross-examination:

“But how early do you have to go to bed to be able to handle waking up that early?”

And that’s the part where she admitted that she goes to bed around midnight but just doesn’t need that much sleep.

Which confirms it. She (and many others of you) is not human at all, but instead she is a super-human and must be of an entirely different species.

And that’s okay!

My body works completely differently from hers, and you know what?

That’s okay too!

Why should I begrudge her the gift of needing little sleep? Why should I beat myself up over my need for at least 8 hours/night? I am finished feeling ashamed that at 7 am, I often look like this:

make over your morning like a night owl

6:45 am

I get up between 7 and 7:15 these days, but that is not always the case. Right now, Alan is in graduate school, so he keeps later hours than our norm. I’m one of these people who has to stay awake until everyone goes to bed. I can’t help it. I do. Since Alan stays up later right now, I do too.

I’ve tried to build myself schedules that did not allow for my sleep needs. Last year, I thought that in order to be a successful home school mom and blogger, I needed to wake up every morning at 6 am.

And I turned into heavy-eyelids-unhappy-snappy Mommy. No, thank you. I couldn’t even finish my day. I’d spend from 2 to 4 every afternoon just sort of laying on my bed and staring into space the whole first nine weeks of last school year!

Gradually, I realized that if I want to be a good mom, I need to sleep until 7.

Now, I have good news about the Make Over Your Morning course.

One change that she does not say that you have to make, and believe me, I refuse to do it, is getting up earlier.

Some people may genuinely need to wake up earlier, so you may feel lead that way, but that’s not what the course is all about.

So far, I’m only on day 7. It’s been more about reminding you to prioritize your time in order to be more productive, setting ACHIEVABLE goals for yourself, and having good morning and evening routines.

I love the videos of the Make Over Your Morning the most. It’s like listening to a motivational speaker everyday. I particularly loved this You Tube video, which is also referenced in the course:

It’s called “Dispelling the myth that I do it all”. No one does ‘it all’!

Some of you have asked if I made any changes from the series.

Yes! It has been a great reminder about setting attainable goals and breaking those goals into small tasks, but those were things I already KNEW to do. I just wasn’t necessarily doing it.

Here are changes I am making:

1. Spending less time on Facebook. Most of you already know that I spend too much time on there. I was able to cut back by NOT putting the Facebook app or log in on my new phone. I only check Facebook when I’m on my computer now.

So don’t think that I don’t like what you’re posting! It’s just that I’m reading FB a lot less!

I used to enjoy FB, so I spent way too much time on there, but lately it’s been full of extreme political stuff. And all that Planned Parenthood mess? Oh my gosh. That makes me want to throw up. I know the public needs to know about it, but I just can’t read it. I’ve had too many babies to be able to think about it.

2. Setting home school prep goals. I’m knocking them out a little at a time.

3. Getting up earlier plays no part in that!

4. I set a hard “Nap time is blog time rule.” So, at this moment, it’s 1:20, and I haven’t even finished cleaning up lunch, but JD and Dan are asleep, so THIS is the ONLY good blog time.

Also, there are a few advantages to being a night owl that doesn’t wake up at 6!

make over your morning like a night owl

See how wide awake I look at 8pm? (Truthfully, I don’t look that happy every night, but this was our anniversary!)

It’s not unusual to find me at 9:30 pm, scrubbing carpet stains out and vacuuming, something a morning person probably couldn’t do. Have you ever cleaned carpet stains out while the kids are still awake? It’s impossible. They track dirt on top of the wet carpet, making it worse!

I have the energy to clean the kitchen up before going to bed. Many people can’t do that!

I can stay up late making lesson plans without falling asleep. I’m not sleepy, even at 10pm!

We all just have to work within the framework of who we are. No need to try to be somebody else, right?

I can’t wait to finish this series. If you’d like to join me, here’s the link to the Make Over Your Morning site. Just click on the picture below:

Click on this affiliate link to learn more about this course or to sign up.

Be sure to follow my blog on Facebook, and we night owls can encourage each other!

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Getting Organized in 2014


I’ve written gobs of blog posts since January 1, 2014, but I’m really bad about never going back and letting you know how that all turned out.  This is my goal for tonight:  lots of updates!!

Update #1:  The Great Clean Out

inspired by reading Money Saving Mom‘s book:

Buy it. Read it. You’re welcome. No, you can’t borrow mine. I read a chapter, set it down for a month, read the next chapter….I’m on chapter 5. You will want your own copy. ; )

It’s sort of an odd time to suddenly be all about organizing my house:  we are moving in JUNE.  However, we are drowning in TMS–too much stuff–so I have been plugging away at “The Great Clean Out”.  I decided to combine it with “Getting Organized in 2014”, one of my goals for the year.  I’ve been a rubbermaid boxing, label makin’ fool.

Okay, really I’ve only managed to organize three rooms and a few closets, but I’m going to whip out that “4 small boys” excuse again.  It works well for me.  Progress is progress.  Go me.

Here are my Organization tips:

1.  stackable boxes.  There’s nothing worse than avalanches of stuff. You know, like a giant pile of purses that falls on your head if you move the wrong way.  It looks bad.  It creates confusion, and it just doesn’t work.  Put all that same junk in stackable boxes, and suddenly BOOM, you look–and are indeed–organized.

2.  Label it!  If it’s in the box, it needs to be on the label.  “Office stuff” is not a label.  A proper label should read:  “paper clips, folders, notebooks, paper”.  You get the idea.  Specify!!!!

3.  Toss, toss, toss!!!!  If you don’t remember the last time you used it, you don’t need it.  If you’re keeping it for that day, two years from now, when you will most certainly need it, but you don’t need it now–chances are you won’t know where it is then, so unless it’s extremely expensive–toss it.  Even if it is costly, it may not work anymore by the time you finally need it.  You get the idea.  Go watch that t.v. show Hoarders for some inspiration.  This could be you!

I am almost done with our coat closet:



Sometimes I find myself with literally only 20 minutes before I have to leave the house, and that’s when I work in mini-projects like this.  All you need is 10 minutes to organize one drawer–one shelf–one cabinet.  You get the idea.  But first, go to your favorite “everything” store (Target), and get some of these awesome clear, square boxes.

Update #2:  Keeping Dan Busy


Remember all the hilarious Dan photos?  Dan covered in pudding, Dan and the powder- bedroom- blizzard, Dan and the baby cereal, etc. etc.???  I’m constantly on a mission to keep this little booger busy.  My friend Patti gave us these Knex blocks for him.  HIGHLY RECOMMEND.  Check out the house he built.  After I took this photo, he stuck a propeller on top of it all and called it a helicopter.  Then it flew away with Daniel, and I’m not sure where it is now.


He has been much better lately.  Your birthday gifts to him also have helped him to stay busy.  THANK YOU!  He is obsessed with airplanes.


Update #3

We have snow everywhere, every week or so.  The good news is that it melts more quickly now.  The bad news is black snow:  GROSS.  Alabama friends, you would die.  Piles of plowed snow everywhere, and the street pollution turns them black.  Makes you wonder about what we’re breathing.


It’s a thing of wonder and beauty when it’s freshly fallen.  I will never really dislike snow.  It’s just that I don’t want to be cold anymore.

snowshots14 snowtrampoline14 snowtrees14 snowyard14


Last update:  #4  My Friday night dilemma from my last post

We ended up dividing up the kiddos.  Alan took Joshua and Dan to the buffet dinner.  I stayed home with Caleb and John David, which has actually been an extremely relaxing evening for me.

See, I kept JD out and about all day.  We volunteered at the school–don’t worry, we made and sorted copies and didn’t disrupt any classes.  Then we went to lunch with my friend Margret. JD ATE QUESADILLAS!!!  I was so proud!

All that, plus three hours of stroller riding to get the boys from school and an hour and a half at the park left JD wiped out. He was completely sleep deprived, so he went to bed at 6pm.  Yes, I will have to be up with him a little tonight to pay for that, but oh well.

Right now it’s just Caleb and me–oh the glory–the two people who love to sit here and play computer the most, and that is exactly what we are doing.   I love you, Caleb!!!!

newborncalebCaleb and me, 6 years ago