End Your Year Intentionally

A good friend of mine – THANKS JEN! – sent me this article! I loved the writing prompts and decided to turn it into a blog post!

Wrap up your year with these 10 questions. Reflect on your personal growth, acknowledge your mistakes, and savor your success!

1. What makes this year unforgettable?

This one is pretty obvious, the diagnosis of my father’s lung cancer, his 129 day battle, and his death on June 2nd has impacted me more than anything in my entire life.

Read more on that here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/category/a-fatherless-daughter/

2. What did you enjoy doing this year?

I really enjoy listening to podcasts. I used to rot my brain watching shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Keeping Up with the Kardashians over and over again but now I invest that time in podcasts growing and learning. I listen to podcasts in the car, doing dishes, doing laundry, anywhere and every where I am listening to podcasts or books!

Here’s a post I did on podcasting for newbies: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/intro-to-podcasts/

3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?

While I’m grateful for so many people in my life, 2019 is the year I met my son Gannon. He is such a joy in our lives.

4. What’s your biggest win this year?

I’ve made so much progress on my mental health and learning to love myself. My anxiety is well managed. My body dysmorphia is at an all time low.

Read more on that here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/living-with-body-dysmorphic-disorder/

5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year? 

Dave Ramsey. Everything and anything Dave Ramsey. We’ve paid off close to $20,000 of debt since April 1st. We’ve completely changed the way we view and handle money.

Read more on that here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/financial-tips-friday/

and here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/financial-friday-week-two/

6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?

Speaking of my son Gannon, he’s had some major health issues throughout the year. I spent quite a bit of time worrying about him.

He’s doing well now. He has to have a minor procedure coming up in February. He still struggles with tummy troubles but it isn’t interfering with his everyday life and well being.

You can read more on that here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/gannon-joseph-friedman/

and here: http://www.thepinkshoelaces.com/gannons-big-day/

7. What was your biggest regret and why?

I wish I wouldn’t have binged so much when I was pregnant with Gannon. I so used the excuse “I’m pregnant! I can eat anything I want!” I’m paying for it now carrying around these extra 8 lbs of stubborn weight.

Also, I wish I would have started blogging sooner. I really enjoy it and I’m bringing in an income just three months after launching thepinkshoelaces.com

8. What’s one thing that changed about yourself?

I care so much less of what other people think of me and my life. Their opinion of me is none of my business. I think once you go through something like I went through this past year you realize what and who really matter.

9. What surprised you the most this year?

My ability to stick with things. I’ve always been very “whimmy.” I start and stop and start and stop hobbies all the time. So far I’ve stuck with budgeting and taking control of my money and paying off debt for a solid nine months. I’ve stuck with this blog for three months now. I’m about to jump into training for a half marathon. I can trust myself to set a goal, create a plan, and stick with it even when things get hard.

10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?

Hang in there. You’re going to lose so much but gain so much more. I wouldn’t trade the person I am today for the person I was one year ago for anything. It’s going to suck. Embrace the suck.

Pick a question and post your response in the comments below!

Talkin’ Bout Mah Best Frand

Do you guys remember….

When my best friend Regan caught the bouquet….

Well…she came over the other night…

And had some big news to share…

Her and her boyfriend Garrett…



Regan and I have been best friends since 7th/8th grade.

She moved in across the road from me…

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We spent our proms together…

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We were in plays together…

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Music Man
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Romeo and Juliet
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Cheaper by the Dozen

We did photo shoots too…

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She talked me into cheerleading my senior year…

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We graduated together…

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Went Black Friday shopping together…

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We saw Taylor Swift in concert TWICE!

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Her siblings are like my siblings…

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My family knows her, her family knows me….

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She’s the perfect wedding date while Garrett and Craig are too busy talking farming…

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She makes me try new things…

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She is Gannon’s Godmother…

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And one of Carver’s best buds…

One of the most naturally beautiful ladies I’ve met in my life…

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And I could not be happier for her.

(and you too Garrett)

Stay tuned for more wedding news!

Friedman Family Christmas: Part One – Christmas Eve

Whew. What a whirlwind. I’m writing this post Thursday night. The boys were sent to bed early on account of no napping. We just had a few visitors (who had some really exciting news but more on that later) and it is just Craig and I on the couch.

Christmas week is over. I head back to work tomorrow (today) to work the weekend. I’m exhausted. The house is finally coming back together after the monstrous influx of new toys and games. Craig and I have spent the week together but it feels like we haven’t seen each other at all from all the running we’ve been doing.

I worked Christmas Eve Eve overnight so I hit the ground running after work. I braved the crowds at Walmart which was a lofty task even for 7 am. I got a ton of groceries and finished up some last minute gifts.

Then it was off to the meat locker. I LOVE meat. I feel like I get the best variety, quality, and prices if I go straight to the locker. I go to Polasheks locker in Protivin Iowa about every other month and buy about $100 of meat. They have amazing brats, brat patties, venison, sausage etc. I get prime rib if we are feeding extra fancy. So I decided to gift that to Craig’s parents and grandparents this year. I got all of this meat for $127 straight from the building it was “processed” in. Doesn’t get closer to the farm than that! Each family got a Walmart reusable bag full of meat. It was a hit!

I got home and ran around the house like a crazy woman while mom had the boys. I had so much to get done and even though I hadn’t slept yet, I needed to get stuff done! By the time Craig got home, we loaded up the boys and were off.

Oh, and we stopped to play with mom’s new puppy Rosie 🙂

Then we headed to Craig’s parents house about an hour away on Christmas Eve. I again had to stop at Theisens and do some more shopping/returns on the way. I got about 15 minutes of sleep in the car.

We usually do soup – more specifically oyster soup – at Craig’s parents. It was delicious.

Then it was time to open presents:

The boys were absolutely SPOILED!
Carver got LOTS of farming toys!
Carver got a memory game that we ended up playing! Craig’s sister Kelly kicked our butts! It was fun!
Craig’s Grandma Dee Dee is so funny – she is so strong she can do all kinds of funny tricks! She does this one every year “just to make sure she still can!”

We headed back home around 7 because we STILL had more to do to get ready for Christmas the next day.

We were all “match match” or “same same” as Carver calls it! Buffalo plaid is LIFE! Carver told me I was wearing a Christmas hat 🙂

That’s all I have for now friends! I’ll give you the recap of Christmas Day TOMORROW! Check back at 5:30 am. It’s just too much for one post and I think Craig and I are headed to bed.

A 50th Anniversary Celebration!

Craig’s Grandparents were married on December 27th, 1969. They are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year!

I told Delores I would be in charge of the guest book. I have a friend who makes really cool signs/home decor and she totally nailed it! This was exactly what I was look for! She even provided the perfect pens for everyone to sign in!

Carver thought it was pretty cool too!

Gannon had a ton of fun! He ate so good, especially the cake, and here he is sitting with his Great-Great Grandpa Clem! In the second picture he’s chilling with his Great Great Grandpa Clem and his Great Grandma Delores!

AND obviously that worse him out…

Here is Merle and Delores with their three children Terry, Dan and Debbie. Debbie is on the far right and she is Craig’s mom.

Here they are with all of their children and their spouses, grandchildren, and great grand children!

The weather was GREAT and the food was excellent! they had the reception in the same place they had their wedding reception too! I used to work at the venue bussing tables and bar tending for weddings all throughout junior high and high school.

We were all pooped by the time we got home and I had to work so we all took a nap and that was fabulous!

Anyway, that’s all I have for today! Be sure to check out tomorrow morning’s blog post too!

Last Christmas…

I can’t help but reminisce on last Christmas. Dad was still here.

The anniversary of his lung cancer diagnosis is only a month away now. I’ve been just dreading it. I don’t know why.

We didn’t even know he was sick. In all of these pictures there’s a 4 inch tumor sitting in his right lung just festering. On bad days it hurts to look at old pictures before he was diagnosed with lung cancer. If only I could scream at myself through time and tell him to get to the doctor maybe he would still be here.

Christmas day was usually pretty low key for the Kramer family.

It was always just me and Karl and mom and dad until Craig came along and now Gannon and Carver. Most of the older kids had Christmas with their other side of the family so us four/five made our own traditions.

Dad would always go do chores until he came home around 9 or 10. I was such a selfish child looking back – when I was little I would beg Dad to get up super early so he could be done with chores earlier so he could come in and we could open gifts. How selfish begging him to go out EARLIER THAN 5:30 AM on a holiday just so I could have the gifts he worked so hard to buy. Ugh.

Anyway, we always play board games on Christmas. Usually Karl challenges mom and dad and Craig in chess followed by drinking Mogen David and playing The Farming Game. We graze on ham all day and pickled herring.

Last Christmas Dad was here. Ruby was here. My cousin Jody was unknowingly spending her last Christmas with her family. Our world has been turned upside down since last Christmas.

Look around the room at Christmas. Please don’t take the people who are there for granted. They might not be there next Christmas.

Man, what a downer of a blog post. Sorry. I can’t help but feel his absence. I’m so thankful for pictures. He hated pictures but I’m so thankful I took them anyway. Here are a few from last Christmas:

Look at the way Carver looks at my Dad.
Looks like Carver doesn’t approve of that chess move.
We couldn’t tell who was more excited about putting the combine together.
One happy (spoiled) farmer!
Jesus’s Birthday Cake

I hope you all are enjoying your Christmas with your family. I’ll let you know how ours goes in next week’s recap. Be sure to check back tomorrow for a new blog post!

Family Photos and Christmas Cards

Every year at Christmas we get family pictures taken. (and by every year I mean we’ve done it for two years now)

We have several extremely talented photographers in our area but one of our favorites offers “mini sessions” around Christmas time – just a quick half hour session – you get about 25 images out of a 30 minute session in her studio for $125. We love it!

Here are a few of my favorites from last year:

So this year I was so excited to book again! Here’s how they turned out:

YAY! I know what you’re thinking! Those are GREAT pictures but you guys, the photo shoot was a STRUGGLE!

Gannon was still recovering from ear infection and has never had pictures before so he was VERY confused by the entire thing and many of the outtakes look like this:

The struggle was so real. It was so bad Craig and I are sincerely concerned about his hearing – we were making all kinds of noises and sounds trying to get him to look at us or perk up – nothing. It is a miracle we got the pictures we did.

And then about 30 seconds after this picture was taken…

Gannon toppled over and bonked his head on the floor. At first I thought it was just a bump…until his mouth started bleeding! …all over his sweatshirt. I still hadn’t got a picture of the boys together yet. Carver threw a HOLY FIT and refused to hold or touch Gannon whatsoever. So we came up with this:

(note the extra padding/fluff to prevent further injuries)

So I think she edited the blood out of that picture but needless to say, the photo shoot was not going well at this point. The blood was too much so we decided to change his shirt to see if that would help.

As you can see, the fall really broke his spirit so we decided to give it one more shot at a group photo before we called it a day:

Which wasn’t bad but Carver is actually doing his best to get out of the picture and Gannon…well Gannon was so over it at this point. We sincerely apologized to the photographer – who was so cool by the way. It was a CRAZY photo session to say the least! My goodness! But I got the pictures I wanted for our Christmas Card:

And the backside reads:

2019 was a year for the books and not in a great way. On January 24th my father was diagnosed with lung cancer which claimed his life on June 2nd. We not only lost a father and “Papa Moo” (as Carver calls him) but a dear friend. Our favorite nights were spent playing cards with my parents or going to their house for supper. We miss him dearly. What a cruddy was to start off a Christmas card but his absence has taken up much of our thoughts since he passed away 7 months ago.

In August, Craig accepted a position at Achen Farms as row crop manager of about 2,500 acres – the same farm my dad has worked for the last 28 years. Craig thoroughly enjoys his new job as a farmer and we love having a connection to the farm I grew up on especially after Dad passed away.

In other news and on a more positive note, Gannon Joseph Friedman was born on February 25th weighing in at 8 lbs 11 ounces. My water broke the morning after a huge blizzard snow storm and we had to call in a few favors to get plowed out in time to get us to the hospital. Gannon is the calm to our storm and the sweetness to our sour year. He had some medical issues and was hospitalized for 6 days when he was only a month old. We are pleased that many of those issues have resolved. He is starting to pull himself up, crawl everywhere, and now walking won’t be too far away.

Carver turned three in September and is all the way farm boy. Everything is tractors and tools and combines. Carver loves to get into trouble and that has landed him in the ER needing stitches or staples twice this Summer. Forget terrible twos, Carver is all the way a three year old – or a “threenager” as I lovingly call him. He loves being a big brother and sibling rivalry hasn’t been too much of an issue (yet)!

AS for me I’ve continued my career as an ER nurse. I love teaching nursing students through NICC although it made for an extremely busy Fall with Craig in the combine, working my full time ER job and teaching clinicals September – November. I’m following in my mom’s footsteps and launched my own blog ThePinkShoelaces.com which Would be a great way to keep up with our family throughout the year. We sincerely wish you and your family health and happiness in the new year.

Shout out to Alacia Adrienne Photography for doing a wonderful job each year!