Best Reads Of 2016

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In 2016 I set a goal to read 60 books. I figured at 1-3 books per week it was totally doable.  I forgot the fact that I read somewhat fast. I completed 197% of my goal. That’s 118 books. Nearly double my goal. Oops!

Here are some of my best reads of 2016 in no particular order

Best Reads of 2016 by Aduke Schulist

Joe Pickett Series by C.J. Box

I judge books by their covers and when I picked up the third book in the Joe Pickett series by C.J. Box, I was intrigued. Joe Pickett is a game warden who lives in Wyoming with his family. This series follows him as he investigates different crimes that have been committed in his area. I ended up getting hooked on this series and read every single one that I could get my hands on. I hear there is a new one and I can’t wait to read it.

The Call by Peadar O’Guilin

When it is your turn to be called, will you be ready? Nessa, the protagonist of The Call trains along with her classmates for the inevitable; to be called. She only has 3 minutes to save her life and herself from the Sidhe. Will she survive? I can picture this book being made into a movie. I passed it onto Kaia when I was done, and he loved it.

The Nice Girl Syndrome by Beverly Engel

I tend to be a pushover, so this book spoke to me and what I wish to become. While I haven’t been in an abusive romantic relationship, I have been emotionally and mentally abused and I feel like I am constantly being manipulated. This book helped me find out why and learn more about myself in the process. I definitely learned some tips on how to stand up for myself.

The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brook

The Bunker Diary is another one I passed onto Kaia when completed. I have never been one to read the ending before I get there, and this book made me want to. Instead, I read non-stop and finished it in one-sitting. It was addicting! I was not expecting the ending. It’s one that you must read yourself.

13 Hours by Mitchell Zuckoff

Want to know what really happened during the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack? Read this book! The inside knowledge and details given from those who were there answer so many questions surrounding the attack.

Five by Ursula Archer

This book has a treasure hunt with a twist. When a lady is found murdered with coordinates tattooed on her feet, Detective Beatrice Kaspary begins a mad rush trying to find all the body parts to complete the “cache” and find the killer. I liked that Five contained geocaching, but it was a little gruesome.

This completes my best reads of 2016. As you can see, I have a pretty eclectic taste in books. Have you read any from this list?

What were some of your favorite books from 2016? 

Health, Heartbreak, and Weight Management Clinic

I would give anything to be fat again. You know, as fat as I once was when I thought I was fat. I’d love to be that fat again. I’ve been thinking about my weight a lot lately and I’ve gained a LOT of it in the past 5 years. I am the heaviest I have ever been and it doesn’t feel good.

I used to think this was fat
I used to think this was fat.

I don’t have many clothes that fit me. And by fit, I mean wearable in general. I literally have 3 pairs of jeans that will button and a handful of shirts that fit. None of my clothes are flattering, but I refuse to buy “fat” clothes.

I keep telling myself that once I get down a few sizes I will buy myself some new clothes, but so far that hasn’t happened. I don’t feel great about myself, but I don’t feel completely unattractive either. What I do feel is unhealthy. And that concerns me.

Health

Not only am I concerned about my own health, I am concerned about my children’s health too. My daughter recently had some lab work done and the results were not what I expected. Her fasting labs indicated out of control diabetes, but a more recent check showed everything to be just fine. While we try to figure out exactly what is going on and why such big discrepancies, we started seeing a weight management clinic.

Weight Management Clinic at Arkansas Children's Hospital

I feel like this is the equivalent to fat camp. Just how overweight do you have to be to get sent to a weight management clinic? For my daughter it is 42 pounds. With a birth weight of only 1 pound and 9 ounces, many would find this alarming. Her doctor has been monitoring her since birth and we have discussed her weight and other markers previously. Her doctor told me that because of her low birth weight, her body was probably shocked and thus holding onto every bit of weight it can.

Heartbreak…

That brings me to the heartbreak part of this post. I’ve always made it a point to tell my children positive things about themselves. I know firsthand how devastating comments can be, especially regarding your physical appearance and things that can’t be changed within 10 seconds.

We’ve discussed healthy habits and what we need to do to be healthy, but we have never actually discussed losing weight. I never want to make my kids feel like they aren’t good enough or that they are flawed in any way. I tell them they are perfect exactly how they are.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made.

It breaks my heart that I have to tell my daughter that she has to change. I know that she understands it is to be healthy, but the mom part of me feels like I am telling my daughter she isn’t good enough as she is. And it isn’t even her fault. I feel like I have failed as a parent. But, she isn’t going to be making the changes alone. The weight management clinic will help our whole family.

Weight Management Clinic

So, this weight management clinic hosts kids with all sorts of issues ranging from obesity to diabetes to metabolic concerns. The kids go for the length of a program which lasts 6 or more visits depending on the needs of the kids. Aybra is expected to go for 6 visits, but it all depends on her future lab work and how well she does in the program.

We had our first visit this week where we met with a doctor and talked about some of our concerns. They wanted me to start restricting her calories, so I’ve begun tracking what she eats which has lead me to tracking my own. I don’t know about y’all but I always do better when I track what I eat. We will meet with a nutritionist at the next visit and discuss things like portion control and the five food groups. (Yeah, I’m not kidding!)

While I’m thankful that clinics like this exist to help, I almost feel like I am being treated as if I’m uneducated or just letting her sit around eating Cheetos and drinking Coke all day. I feel like asking for help with my concerns leads me to being treated like a bad parent at times.

Do you know how many overweight children have parents who have NEVER asked for help?

I know that we don’t always make the healthiest of choices and I know that there are things we need to change, but with the help of this weight management clinic, we will get to where we need to be to get healthy together, because it really is all about getting healthy. And while I wish for myself to no longer be as fat as I am now, I wish to be as fat as I once was.

What is your favorite way to track calories? 

Four Favorites

Four Favorites

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Happy Saturday! The last time I shared some of my favorite things was this Fall, and considering we are heading into Spring, it is time for some updated favorites.

Four of My Favorites by Aduke Schulist

Photography
This is my obsession right now! I must take ALL the photos! I’ve always loved photography, but as I am venturing into business mode with it, my love has ramped up. I finally feel like I am mastering things that took me years to begin learning. I’m slowly upgrading and adding to my equipment, so that makes it even more fun! One thing I’m doing is learning editing via Lightroom and it’s only $9.99 a month! Y’all I notice a HUGE difference in the quality of my edits using Lightroom. (Affiliate link below) (Check me out on Facebook at Aduke Schulist Photography)

Aduke Schulist Photography Favorites

YouTube Speed Cleaning
Seriously guys, this is just too much fun. I found speed cleaning videos and gotta admit my first thought was “Weird!” but now, I can’t get enough. I love watching other people clean their house. I love seeing the messes get turned into happiness, and it’s great motivation for me to clean my own house up.

Canadian Reality TV
I’m not even sure how this favorite started, but I have been binge watching Canadian Reality TV shows on Netflix lately. I imagine the obsession here started from a simple Netflix recommendation. (Side note: Why do people act surprised when they get caught trying to smuggle something across the border?)

Webinars & Workshops
My first experiences with these related to school, so I was never in a hurry to willingly sign myself up for some, but thanks to Facebook ads, I’ve been getting lots of opportunities to learn more about subjects that interest me, like blogging and photography.

What are some of your favorite things right now? 

What Are You Adopting? (And other questions answered)

What are you adopting?

Do you want to know what is worse than being a single mother and announcing you are pregnant accidentally?

Announcing you are intentionally bringing a child into your single-parent family.

I recently announced our intentions to adopt. While, I knew it would be met with some strong opinions, I wasn’t prepared for some of the things that were being said.

 

First of all, no negative opinions have changed our decision to adopt. We are still adopting. I think one thing people misunderstood is the timeline. I mentioned the timeline could be anywhere from four months to four years and said a lot had to happen between now and then, and while some things have already fallen into place (hello, new van!), there are still some big hurdles to overcome. So that brings me to the first question.

Adoption FAQ

 

What are you adopting? Are you adopting an animal?
I didn’t really think I would have to clarify, but this has been the number one question we have gotten. A human! We are adopting a human. It stings every time I have to answer that yes, I, a single mother am in fact adopting a child. It makes me feel like they are questioning my abilities or choice as a single mother to adopt.

While I understand that some may not feel qualified to adopt for various reasons, I have already went over all of these myself and it has been a well thought out decision. I fully know what has to be done and what I am getting myself into and I am ready for it all. I think out of all of the questions, this one has been the hardest. (Side note: Do people really make a big deal out of announcing their intentions to adopt a puppy/kitten?)

When are we adopting? 
We have started the process and are contacting different agencies regarding the requirements and whatnot. The actual adoption and bringing a child into the home will take months, if not years. As mentioned, there is still a lot that I have to do first.

Are you adopting internationally or domestically?
We are aiming to adopt domestically, but if international adoption is possible then I would love to explore that route more. I have already fallen in love with some international children that need homes (like yesterday) but I currently do not meet all of the qualifications to adopt internationally.

What ethnicity/race are you adopting?
No clue. There is one little boy we are extremely interested in that is an entirely different race than either myself or any of my children, but honestly, he will probably have a forever home by the time we are approved and ready. I certainly don’t want to wish him to remain homeless until then. We are open to any race or ethnicity.

What age are you adopting? And are you looking for a specific gender?
There is also no preference for gender or age (to an extent). We are open to male or female. The age is a little tricky as Aybra has mentioned she would like to be the youngest, but understands that if I had another child biologically that wouldn’t happen. Kaia wants to be the oldest too and I am willing to agree there for a few reasons, but also because of the age difference between myself and a child older than Kaia.

Why did you announce when you aren’t ready yet?
Good question! I wanted to blog and vlog our journey so I had to announce our intentions early. Also, I am including my other children in the entire process. There is no way they could have kept this a secret. I wanted to announce it before they spilled the beans.

Are you open to adopting a child with special needs?
Yes! In fact, that is our preference. I’m not really sure I am qualified to adopt a “normal” child. All of my children had/have special needs and that is what I am good at.

Will the child keep their birth given name?
This one really depends on the age of a child. Either way, I would want to include their given name somehow.

Do you have any questions about our decision to adopt? Let me know in the comments. 

 

How Do I Do It? Financially? #SingleMom #Budget

How Do I Do It? Financially?

As a single mother, I’m not sure when people say “How do you do it?” if they mean emotionally, physically, or financially, so I’ve decided to turn this question into a series.

Financially speaking, this is how I do it.

 

Buy Used & Sell Used
The majority of things we buy are used. If I have exhausted all options and can’t find something used, then I will buy it new. The key to this is knowing what things cost and refusing to pay more. If I know that I can buy something for $5, then I won’t pay $10 for that item. Additionally, I save all of the kids’ outgrown clothes and sell them at a consignment store.

Make a Menu and Stick to it
Before you grocery shop, see what you have on hand and what you can make a meal out of. Then, make a menu including the items you have available. You don’t have to have tacos on Tuesday if you would rather have that roast you had planned for Thursday. Feel free to switch days and meals around, but stick to what you planned. The less you are in the grocery store, the less you will spend on impulse buys. It also helps to know what days you should prepare easy meals for. If you know it is going to be a busy day, then you don’t want to plan a labor intensive meal which could cause you to end up in the drive-thru ultimately spending more money.

Cheap Entertainment
While I do sometimes dream of extravagant vacations and taking my kids out of state to do fun things, I don’t feel like they are lacking in the entertainment area. As a family, we attend free festivals, see dollar movies, and skate on the cheap-skate days. Most places like zoos and museums offer reduced admission during non-peak hours or seasons. Take advantage of these offers. We have gone to the zoo on $1 day a few times, or used can food as admission into some museums.   

Barter
If you know you have a service to offer, see what bartering can get you. Maybe you can watch your neighbor’s kids twice a month in exchange for them cutting your grass. Or maybe you don’t have a garden but have chickens that lay eggs. If you have a creative talent, offer that as a barter. Never pay for something that you could get with a barter.

Sell Your Talent
If you are good at something, there is no reason you shouldn’t be making money for it. If you know how to play an instrument, consider giving lessons a couple days a week. Know how to paint? Sell some of your artwork. Don’t beat yourself up thinking your talent isn’t valuable. More people than you may realize will find value in your talent.

Be Patient
My kids are just like any other YouTube watching, game playing kid out there. As soon as they see a YouTuber playing a new game, they want it. A little patience pays off though. Don’t purchase the game (or whatever it may be) right away. Instead, wait a few months and the price will drastically drop or they will lose interest in it. Just think about it, how many times have you bought something your kids wanted, only to find it abandoned a few weeks later? Your kids may not have the newest thing, but they will be okay.

What are some of your budget tips to help single moms (and those on a single income) do it financially?