Get To Know Me + My Personal Reading Challenge

Get To Know Me + My Personal Reading Challenge

Hey guys! It’s me again. But who exactly is the “me” here? I know some of you are new, so I first wanted to say THANK YOU all for reading my blog and following me on this journey through life. I also wanted to reintroduce myself and tell you some fun facts about me before I move onto My Personal Reading Challenge.

Aduke Schulist - Photography at Riverside Park Searcy Arkansas Aduke Schulist at Riverside Park Searcy Arkansas Aduke Schulist Photography at Searcy Arkansas

  • I am Courtney AKA Aduke – the girl behind the blog.
  • I am 32 years old, never married, and live in Central Arkansas.
  • I have 3 children and all of them were born early. I homeschool them.
  • I joined the Mormon church when I was 22 years old.
  • I dream of climbing Mt. Everest and running a 100 mile race – but I haven’t ran much lately due to health problems.
  • I love playing PC games with my kids like Minecraft and Diablo.
  • I love all things girly and glamorous even though I am super casual and will go days at a time without even wearing makeup.
  • I have been a vlogger* for over 4 years and STILL get nervous in front of the camera. *my vlog channel. 
  • I studied Criminal Justice in college and have never used my degree. I am a semi-pro photographer and a full-time content creator.

Now that you know a little more about me, I’d love to learn something new about you. Share something interesting about you in the comments.

Personal Reading Challenge

My Personal Reading Challenge for 2018 by Aduke Schulist - Arkansas Life and Beauty blogger

Moving along, I wanted to discuss my reading challenge for this year. I have participated in reading challenges the past few years and it has helped me find new authors and genres that I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise.

This year I’m doing it a little different. In the past the reading challenges have been long lists containing books to read like a book with a blue cover, a self-help book, a book published in the current year, etc. There’s only 5 things on my list this year:

1. Don’t Finish Bad Books

I am always expecting a bad book to get better and other find myself finishing bad books. This year, if a book sucks I’m letting myself put it away and move on to something that I enjoy more.

2. Find a New Favorite Author

I finished 21 books in January and think I am on to a new favorite author already.

3. Read a New Series

I tend to shy away from series. With that said, I read  CJ Box’s Joe Picket series and really liked it. Dare I say I think I want to read a sci-fi series.

4. Read More about My Hobbies and Career

I read for pleasure and reading to learn things just feels school-ish to me. I usually read short articles online when I want to learn something about either of these. I think there is so much information to be had in book form though, so I want to read more for educational purposes.

5. Read a Classic

We all have our favorites. Classics aren’t one of mine. Because of this, there are so many classics that I have never read. I’d like to read a classic or two or three this year.

Do you set reading goals or participate in reading challenges?
What is something fun/interesting about you?

How Do I Do It? Physically? #singlemom #strength

How Do I Do It? Physically?

If you are a single mom then you have probably been told how “strong” you are. I don’t think they are referencing physical strength here, but let me tell you, it takes a physically strong mama to raise children by herself.

And I don’t mean able to bench press your weight strong, I mean, pushing your body past the limits strong.

You go to bed late.

You wake up early.

And in between, you hardly get a chance to rest.

From housework to school work, to YOUR work, there’s so much to do.

This is part two of a three part series “How Do I Do It?” You can see part one How do I do it financially? here.

How do I do it Physically - Single Mom Answers by Aduke Schulist

Find a Support System

I’m blessed to have family close by that my children love spending time with. It isn’t uncommon at all for Losh to wake up in the morning wanting to go to Pa’s house. His Pa is happy to take him and spend time with him, freeing up some of my day.

Losh and his Pa - spending time together

If you don’t have family near by, turn to friends, or even ask your local college for baby sitter recommendations.

Leave Messes

As much as I hate to, I often leave messes for a later time. Seriously, that sink of dishes really is going to be there later. And, a little laundry pile never hurt. I’m not saying leave your entire house a mess, but it’s okay to take a shower instead of doing dishes. Don’t feel like your house has to be spotless.


This one often goes along with cleaning for me. There’s no way I’m going to clean an area my children are playing in. Instead, I focus on the area that is not going to get messy again soon.

Other tasks are prioritized and the most important one is done first. This way, I don’t feel guilty when I choose to watch Netflix instead of doing those dishes.


You need your sleep just as much as you need to stay up late getting things done. And I totally understand, I am a night owl too, but if I know I have something important the next day, then I make sure I get my sleep the night before.

When I can, I nap. I waited so many years for my kids to be old enough to not destroy the house – or each other – while I napped and now I take advantage of it. I once knew a mother who would leave her young child in a playpen so she should get some rest. At first I thought the idea sounded totally ridiculous, but when my kids got to that stage, I totally understood.

Energize Yourself

Find something that energizes you whether that’s coffee or exercise. As a Mormon, I struggle with giving up coffee. I do good for so long, but then exhaustion hits and I find myself pulling through that drive-thru anxiously waiting for the barista to hand me my iced caramel latte with non-fat milk.

Iced Caramel Latte with Non-fat Milk by Mountain Mudd in Searcy Arkansas

For some, energy may come from a long bubble bath, or reading a good book. Find what makes you energized and embrace it.

Have a Positive Attitude

Ever hear somebody say they “couldn’t handle” what you do or that they aren’t “strong enough” to handle it? Yeah. It annoys me too. It somehow implies that what we do isn’t desirable. I’ve never met a single mother who told me that she wasn’t strong enough or couldn’t handle her role as a single mom. There’s no test seeing how strong you are.

Once you are thrown into this club, you just do it.

The secret isn’t about being physically strong enough, it’s about your attitude. Having a positive attitude really defines you as a single mother. Sure, you could be bitter and hate life, but that doesn’t teach your children anything.

Even on your darkest days shine bright by Aduke Schulist

What are some ways that you have helped support a single mom?

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.


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.


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?