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Sarah Bell
Sarah Bell


01Dec 2017

The Best Gifts a Mom Can Give Her Kids This Christmas

We love to go to the beach during the colder months. There are no crowds. The streets are virtually empty, which means it is also quiet. We ride bikes up and down all the side streets without worrying about sharing the road. The sand is cold between your toes. Building sandcastles while wearing long sleeves and drinking piping hot coffee is something you need to experience at least once.


A couple of years ago we were strolling along the mostly empty shore when a very tall, very skinny kid dressed in red Spandex and a clown-like nose approached us, running. He was panting and wildly brandishing his camera. He asked if we could take a picture with him for a scavenger hunt. His youth group was hosting a Halloween costume party complete with a scavenger hunt. His friends giggled as he posed with a random family on the beach. I couldn’t let him get away without asking what his costume was supposed to be?!

The boys got a huge kick out of this bizarre spectacle. In case you’re wondering…Elmo. Skinny Elmo? But, Elmo. Gotta give him credit for originality. I sure hope he won the scavenger hunt.


Recording these memories has become the highlight of our travels! Even my little boys are on the lookout during our adventures for unusual sights or events that are worthy of making our “101” lists. Kids are great at this exercise! They see and hear things you don’t. It is a refreshing vantage point to view your shared experiences. It helps us all stay present and enjoy the moment while spending time together.

Because the trip home is usually not as much fun as the departure, we save this activity for the return trip. It’s amazing...the boys get so excited on the last night of our trip anticipating creating our list the next day.

If you find it difficult to get your list going, press on. Once you get past the basics, the obvious events, and get to #64 or so, you will be surprised at all the particulars you begin to remember. Don’t let yourselves off the hook with, “Ate dinner at Stinky’s Fish Camp.” Look for the details that make the excursion your own. Maybe your son laughed so hard, he spewed water on his brother while eating dinner at Stinky’s Fish Camp. That makes a much better “fish tale”!


We don’t let ourselves off the hook with “went to the beach.” Oh, no. That is far too ordinary to make our “101”!  We are looking for the details that make our excursion our own.  Like the time we visited a precious little gourmet shop in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It was a “do not touch” store with high shelves of delicate glass containers filled with goodness, and the boys were on their best behavior. There were overflowing trays of products to sample.

I rarely sample anything. Something about being left out all day + other people’s germs + the OCD in me. But, there was this honey. Lavender honey. It was a creamy yellow opaque color wrapped in the most beautifully minimalist packaging with a dainty little logo. I couldn’t resist. I grabbed a tasting spoon and savored the smooth texture and the way it coated the inside of my mouth. As I was placing the used spoon in the basket, I realized that I had grabbed a used spoon to taste?! OH MY GOSH. My worst nightmare. Really. I thought I would gag. On the spot. My sweet children…who only want the best for their mother…laughed so hard when I told them what I had done. They cackled until they cried. My husband took the opportunity to poke fun and tell random strangers for months afterward in conversation. This. This made it to our list.


We would likely forget these little details if we did not write them down. (I want to forget the honey incident!) My husband and I started this tradition shortly after we were married in 1999. I was a big scrapbooker then. When I had tons of time and no children. We have lists from all our jaunts. Even if we took a day trip, we would come up with 101 note-worthy events!


So get to it! Make those memories and write them down. You’ll be so glad you did.



24Nov 2017

One Step You Should Take to Keep Stress in Check This Holiday Season

Are you stuck in the middle of an endless to-do list now that houseguests have come and gone and it's time to get back into a routine? Are you frustrated by your messy house? Or a busy schedule? You have so much to do you have no idea of where to start? There are lots of ways to get started...break big projects into smaller chunks, make separate lists based on where you will complete the task (home, work, computer), but sometimes you want a quick and dirty solution to regain some focus and organization. A mental break to get that motivation going. I am going to share with you my secret stealth get-moving weapon. I l love this zero-brain-power-required method you can use to knock out a list in under an hour. You will feel immediate relief!

My Three Steps to Knock Out Your To-Do List


1. Make a list of 10 jobs which will provide instant satisfaction – all jobs must be completed in 10 minutes or less. Things like picking up toys for 10 minutes, sorting the laundry for 10 minutes, loading the dishwasher – you get the idea. Just a few quick items that will give you some breathing room and see instant progress.  


2. Write them down on separate pieces of paper...that’s the purpose of your cute worksheet you can download! If you’re really motivated by the fun factor, fold them and place them in a jar.


3. Choose your first task and set a timer. Ready, set...GO! Your goal is to beat your own time.


As soon as the first item is completed or the timer sounds, STOP! Return to your list and select another task.

You can set aside an hour each week to work on these little chores or just in short bursts whenever you feel stuck. You could also make a goal to complete one task from your jar every time you walk by. Not only will you get a lot accomplished, you will get the momentum ball rolling and break out of your rut. Gamifying your routine chores just mixes it up a little...allows you to use a different part of your brain. It’s like taking a new route to work. You see things you’ve never seen before because you’re more aware of your surroundings.



01Nov 2017

The Secret to Fitting Everything in Your Schedule

Are you overwhelmed from juggling your schedule? With work demands, family schedules, and keeping your household running fitting everything in your schedule can be challenging to say the least.

The secret to fitting it all in? Scheduling. Everything. Quality time with your children. Date Nights with your husband. Time to work toward your goals. Exercise. EV-E-RY-THING.

Even fun. It sounds counterintuitive. It sounds boring. But, if you want to make the most of your time, you need to ensure it makes your calendar. 

Schedule seasonal highlights. 

Instead of, “this year, we need to buy a watermelon at the farmer’s market,”  Calendar it instead, July 3: buy watermelon to cut on the 4th. Really…do it now. It doesn’t matter it’s almost a year away.

It  could be picking apples in the fall for you. Or sipping a pumpkin spice  latte. It could be hiking your favorite trail in the spring. It could be visiting local  gardens when everything is in bloom. It’s the things that you think would be nice  one day, but you never actually take the 1 minute to calendar the events.

The alternative is spending your Saturdays cleaning house and making a trip to the market. There are  simple ways to squeeze in your chores during the workweek to preserve your  days off for fun activities. Think about it like this: Would your Saturday schedule change if this were your last weekend on earth? Of course it would! Even if you  approached your day as if it were the last day before your bestie moved far  away, I’m sure you would ditch the household chores for a girls’ night out.

Yes,  it’s a little more effort to plan, but the psychological benefits are well worth the extra effort. We are so good at putting off the future. That’s why making gigantic goals often fails. We can’t see far enough into the future inching along. It’s like losing weight. Yes, every calorie counts. But it takes cutting or burning thousands  of calories to lose just one pound. We have to “trick” ourselves into celebrating  those intermediary victories. Such a dramatic change in perspective inspires you  to finally take advantage of the opportunities available. Funny thing about us strange human types, the thing we think we can’t have we want more.

Want to learn exactly how to schedule your priorities? Click here to download my free guide.


01Nov 2017

How To Make Time For What Matters This Holiday Season

01Nov 2017

What to Buy for the Person Who Already Has Everything

October 2014 screen shot

A a local theater or
A bundle of love letters to be opened each month of the year
A charitable gift to an organization that would be meaningful to the recipient
Have friends and family recount a favorite memory (with photos if available), compile into photobook
Private lessons. A golf lesson with a pro, introductory guitar lesson, painting class, a class at a local community college.


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