10 Things I’m Loving Lately

10 Things I’m Loving Lately

 

  1. Southern Savers

Y’all. Guess who can’t make sense of numbers and therefore is super bad at budgeting?! Yep. This girl. But then I discovered two things that help me stay on budget dramatically, and one is this website. LITERALLY it’s every manufacturer AND specific store coupon compiled in one spot – you can print off any coupon and use whenever. (I saved $7 on just 3 items at Target yesterday!)

  1. Paying with cash

I believe Dave Ramsey says to do this…keep all your money in separate envelopes and pay using cash – not card – so you have an idea of how much you’re spending, and if what you’re buying is really worth it to you! I only use this method with my spending budget for the month, and it’s been a game changer.

  1. Hershey’s nuggets

Because the nuggets give you more chocolate per bite than the kisses. And sometimes you just need more chocolate.

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image via amazon.com

  1. Half & Half Coffee and Half & Half Tea

If you make your coffee half caffeinated and half decaf, then you can have more cups per day! Because why wouldn’t you want that?

Sweet tea was always a little too sweet for me, but un-sweet tea was too boring, and so when I heard my mom order a “half sweet half un-sweet tea,” I tried it, and it’s now my favorite drink. Especially in the summer.

  1. Beth Moore’s bible study – A Woman’s Heart: God’s Dwelling Place

The Old Testament can feel like wading through pudding at times. Beth takes Genesis and Exodus and points out the story God is weaving specifically for us as women through these pages. Highly recommend.

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image via lifeway.com

  1. My critique group!

I don’t know how anyone gets published or even finishes a book without a critique group. If you’re a writer….find one! I promise, it’s not scary. Literally, just google critique groups in your city. I bet you’ll find one.

  1. Hoka tennis shoes

Y’all. The people at Big Peach running recommended these shoes to me since I’d had surgery. I don’t know why I ever wore ANYTHING ELSE even before surgery! These shoes make me feel like I’m running on clouds. Or marshmallows. Or both. They range anywhere from $100-130, and they’re worth every penny.

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image via hokaoneone.com

  1. Crockpot Barbeque Chicken

Michael and I make this recipe at least twice a month. It’s ridiculously easy and way too yummy. Make some coleslaw, buy some fresh slider buns, and you’re good to go.

  1. Jergens Daily Moisturizer

I used to only use this on my legs, but I’ve seen the light!! I was just in a wedding with a pale gray dress (lovely color!) but I didn’t want to blend in with the dress and look, like, see-through or something. I used Jergens all over my arms and neck area, and it looked super natural and gave me a “healthy glow” 😉 with no streaks. It was a win, and a lot cheaper than a spray tan.

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image via jergens.com

  1. Making the bed

For me, this is revolutionary. And somehow it makes the whole house feel cleaner!

 

Have a great week, and blessings to you,

 

Robyn

just as friends

“Hey, so I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner with me.” Michael’s voice on the phone sounded excited and rushed and I was fairly confident he was pacing whatever room he was in.

I, on the other hand, was paralyzed in shock and bewilderment on my bed in the sorority house.

It was our sophomore year in college.

“Who is it?” one of my roommates whispered, probably after seeing my face revert to an awkward shade of tomato.

I answered Michael. “Um, sure! Dinner is good,” I blurted haphazardly into the phone, trying to sound normal.

But I didn’t feel normal. I felt like I just agreed to go on a date with a boy – and boys, to be sure, were currently on my “no” list. I’d written off dating entirely after my senior year of high school, and I’d held pretty steadily to that standard up to this point.

But at least, I figured, this boy seemed like a nice one.

Last year, he’d agreed to carry my large, mysterious trash bag full of something out to my car at the start of Spring Break. The trash bag exploded in the parking lot, resulting in an avalanche of stuffed animals. (They travel with me. Don’t pretend you don’t also have a teddy bear or something. I just happen to have a million.)

Michael had laughed then, and asked me if they had names. (Of course they did.) Unhesitatingly, he’d picked them all up and brushed them off, cars whizzing past.

In that parking lot moment, I had decided Michael was nice. And comfortable to be around. Even if he was a boy.

“Great!” Now, on the phone, I could hear the smile in his voice after I agreed to dinner.

I panicked. My mouth got dry. Then I turned to my roommates. “It’s Michael,” I finally whispered.

One raised her eyebrows and smiled. The other silently squealed.

But I didn’t. I was trying not to faint or hide under my covers.

“So, what’s your favorite place to eat dinner around here?”

“…Moes.”

I was sophisticated.

“Erm,” he chuckled. “I like Moes, too, but how about somewhere nicer?”

I blanched. My mouth had lost the ability to speak without croaking, but somehow we settled on a place called Transmetropolitan in downtown Athens. A pizza place.

It ended up being a great date, I was surprised to admit.

We ate pizza and pasta, then went back to his apartment to watch Chronicles of Narnia while wolfing down Junior Mints.

I made sure to sit on the edge of the couch the whole time, on the entirely opposite side from Michael. I was practically perched on the arm rest like an awkward parrot. He didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he didn’t seem to notice. He was actually ENJOYING himself.

Why is he so calm? I wondered. We’re on a date. A DATE. (!!!!!!)

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college babies

After he dropped me off with that big, goofy grin I’d later come to fall in love with, I answered my roommates’ questions about the evening.

“It was a great date,” I admitted. “He even bought me junior mints because he didn’t have any chocolate at his apartment.” This was a big plus for me. Because chocolate.

 

“But…” I continued explaining, my brow furrowed in bewilderment. “I just don’t think it’s the right time. I don’t know why. I don’t want to be any more than friends right now.”

I prayed about it a lot in the days that followed, and I felt certain about my decision not to date him. I couldn’t explain why. It just wasn’t the right time.

And when I told all this to Michael, he shrugged his shoulders with a small smile. “Welp. If you prayed about it, then I can’t argue with The Lord!”

He said this good-naturedly as a joke, but there was tangible disappointment in his voice. I wanted to jump into a nearby bush and stay there a while. But I was also relieved, because boys, in my 20 year-old opinion, made things too complicated.

I wasn’t ready for it.

A few weeks later, I got another call. “Hey!” Michael’s voice.

My stomach dropped.

“Hey,” I croaked. Hadn’t I totally disappointed him? Why was he still talking to me?

“So, I was wondering. Would you come to my fraternity date nights with me? You know, just as friends.”

“Um. Just as friends?”

“Yep. I had such a great time with you, I’d really like to hang out with you as friends.”

Okay. But just as friends!”

If someone were to tally the number of times I repeated the phrase “just as friends” in the year that followed, well, we’d have a lot of tallies.

And so I went on his Christian fraternity’s date nights. Over and over and over.

And every time, I double-checked: “Just as friends.”

He’d agree every time. And every time, we had fun.

But I was stubborn. Like a donkey, or something.

Fast forward to that summer. We both signed up to work at a Christian sports camp in Colorado, literally by coincidence. Neither of us knew the other had signed up or had been hired.

But I quickly figured it out when we showed up at training together.

I was set to shovel snow away from the buildings (we were living at 9,000 feet above sea level), and Michael ambled up next to me and started helping.

“You don’t need to help. I’ve got this,” I said forcefully.

He wasn’t deterred. “Well, I want to help you!”

Gosh, I thought. This guy! Do I need to say “just as friends” again?

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still college babies

But somewhere deep in the pit of my stomach, I was glad he was there next to me. I was a little homesick.

And so we shoveled.

He worked the first half of summer, and I spent the first half of summer at home in Georgia.

When the last half of summer rolled around, I flew out to Colorado in a pit of nerves. Being away from home wasn’t natural for me. I was scared. But I was also excited. I could tell I was right there in the exciting, albeit painful stage of truly growing up.

I arrived at camp.

Then I saw Michael. And I stared. And stared. And stared.

He was really…handsome. And, dare I think it? REALLY ATTRACTIVE.

He politely greeted me with a friendly hug. “You’ll love it here,” he assured me. “Best summer of my life.”

How is he so confident? I feel like I’m going to pee in my pants. And who are all those girls looking at him and smiling at him? Don’t they know he likes me?

 

Does he like me, still?

He went home, and I worked at camp. It was hard and awesome. I grew more than I think I’ve ever grown in the span of six weeks.

But still, by the end of the term, I couldn’t stop thinking about that goofy-grinning boy. Goofy-grinning man, more like it.

I couldn’t fall asleep without thinking about him, and I couldn’t talk without talking about him. (Sorry, Jaime.)

But by the time I got home, I was utterly confused.

God, I prayed. I like this boy. I do. And I’ve been telling him ‘no’ for over a year now. I’m sorry I’m so all over the place, but, if this is something You want for us, could You do something about it?

I wasn’t about to call Michael myself and profess my love because, honestly, couldn’t he get mad about that? Say something like, “Well it TOOK you long enough. Sorry. Too late.”

So I didn’t call.

Instead, he did.

The day after I prayed for our maybe-relationship, Michael texted me. “Want to go on a walk?”

Yes.

And we went.

Three months later I decided I wanted to marry the man.

And I don’t think we’ve ever said the phrase “just as friends” ever again.

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UGA graduation

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when I said YES!

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happy campers 🙂

the thing about hope

What are you hoping for right now, dear heart?

What are you praying for?

Please don’t stop.

Don’t stop believing the best.

Don’t let fear bully you into shrinking back from your hope.

And this is not the “prosperity gospel.”

This is the freedom-giving, life-breathing, hope-multiplying command from our Savior, our Hope Anchor.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things…so now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:7,13 emphasis mine).

My knee has been injured for over a year. 

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After months of trying-procedures-and-them-not-working, after all the money poured into this part of my body that was preventing me from even just playing hopscotch with my favorite littles, I finally had knee surgery to fix the problem.

After surgery, I was afraid to hope for a bright outcome. My fearful knee-jerk reaction (see what I did there?!) was to wait for the other shoe to drop and…my doctor – my doctortotally called me out on it.

“Robyn,” he said.

“Yes?” I squeaked. (His authoritative, tough-love presence makes me talk in squeaks for some reason. Maybe that’s why he always leaves the room laughing.)

“You HAVE to get out of your own head. You know, worrying can actually hinder healing. It’s proven. You’ve got to believe me when I say This. Is. Working.”

My doctor even knows! Medical practices even know the truth that God has already so lovingly clued us in on:

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones,” (Proverbs 17:22).

Why do we accept worry and cynicism as normal? Why? When the Author of our very own hearts has given us a better, life-breathing way?

For me, it’s simply fear. Fear of the unknown, I suppose.

But by God’s grace, I will not be bullied by fear anymore.

No.

And it’s true: I don’t know the outcome of what my knee will look like a year from now. A month from now. Tomorrow.

I don’t know.

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But faith hopes for the things not seen and I know my God has told me, “Pray to Me honestly. Tell Me the desires of your heart. After all, I know them already. Don’t hide from Me.”

Father, I want to run again. I want to skip and hop and bound down the stairs, Lord. It’s what I want. I want to be hopeful and unashamed. Please heal my knee. Please fill me with Your hope and Your peace and Your Perfect Love, which casts out all my fear.

And suddenly, Jehovah Shalom comforts and quiets and yet at the same time, makes my heart fill with hope like a deer prancing upon the heights (Ps 18:33).

I don’t know what my knee will look like tomorrow. I’m not saying the lie that you can “Just picture it and it will happen!” Because that’s a big, fat lie.

But God tells us, He commands us, to hope. Not because we always get everything we want, but because hope is truly the language, the thought-pattern, the heart medicine from the Lover of our hearts Himself that balms over fear, transforming it into trust.

I will choose a cheerful heart: the heart that stares uncertainty in the face and says “My God is able. My God is Healer. And He loves me. I will not be afraid. I am in His hands.”

“Now may the God of hope fill [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him, so that [we] may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13).

Grace, peace, and hope you, beloved hearts,

Robyn

[work-from-homers] & [stay-at-home-moms]: wins, losses, and the ever-present question of how long is it socially acceptable to stay in one’s pajamas?!

Hey there! Lots of you know that working for yourself OR working from home OR being a stay-at-home mama is [[ a w e s o m e ]].

It will also, given enough time, drive you to having full-on convos with the cat. Or with the TV. During your lunch break. Because the judges CLEARLY “chopped” the wrong chef, and so it’s up to you to explain that to the screen with a mouth full of Cheetos.

(Oh, that’s just me? Oh….cool.)

Anyhoo, let’s just cut to the chase. I’ve divided today’s diary into 3 parts: wins, losses, and pajamas.

I’ll start with wins.

Working for Myself: Wins

  1. PAJAMA TIME PAJAMA TIME PAJAMA TIME!!! (!!!)
  2. The ability to take breaks without people staring at me because I’m walking in place while watching re-runs of Downton Abbey just to rack up points on my fitbit.
  3. Picking my hours. If I have an errand or appointment, I can do some work at a different time and it’s totes no bigimg_0246
  4. I just flat-out love my job. I get to spend ALL DAY with characters I love. It’s the best. I feel like I have adventures all day without even leaving the desk…did I mention I’m a cat lady?
  5. Working at the library has become one of my FAVORITE THINGS. BOOKS ON BOOKS ON BOOKS.
  6. …it’s 3:21 p.m. and it’s STILL PAJAMA TIME!!!!!!!! People of the world!!! It’s 5:00 somewhere and this girl is STILL IN HER PAJAMAS!!! #winning

Working for Myself: Losses

  1. Why am I still in my pajamas? Is this socially acceptable? It’s so comfy…but seriously. Is this normal?” [commence going back-and-forth in my head while staring at my clothes, thus wasting an entire break when I could have been walking in step with Lady Mary.]
  2. Extroverted me needs people. All the people. Please?!! People?!! Hello? Bueller?
  3. Picking my hours…sometimes it’s actually really hard to stop working and turn it off when the day is over.
  4. Writer’s Block.SWHW-1000.jpg
  5. Tucker tears up the furniture when I’m not giving him enough attention. But he also tears up the furniture when I do give him attention, so maybe that one doesn’t count.
  6. When I actually forget to take breaks…and then at the end of the day I’m drained.

Working for Myself: Pajamas

People!!! When on earth are we supposed to change out of our pajamas?!!! This is the most important question of the year. Feel free to tell me your answer. I might listen. Unless you tell me to put on normal people clothes. In which case I won’t listen. And I’ll go buy more pajamas. 😉

 

Blessings and a productive day to you,

Robyn

Politics are tiring. Instead, here are 5 of my favorite things lately!

Favorites Lately

  1. Coffeemate *Limited Edition* Marshmallow Hot Cocoa creamer = #winning.

Basically, it’s a lot like a mocha flavor, but more subtle and light and…fluffy…like a marshmallow! coffee-mate

  1. Essie “Ladylike” nail polish. After PT one day I convinced my dad to take me to the drug store (Rite Aid seems to have the best polish selection, I’ve noticed), so I could get a new fall color. I wanted something neutral-ish, but lavender-ish, and also feminine. Enter Essie Ladylike! It’s my new favorite nail color. (buy here)
  1. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies…

…made the way you made those easy pumpkin muffins! It’s SO EASY.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (or Muffins!)

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Mix 1 box of Spice Cake mix with 1 can of pumpkin.
  • Fold in chocolate chips (I mean, you don’t have to, but why wouldn’t you?)
  • Fill muffin tins ¾ full OR…
  • …drop in 1½ inch balls of dough on a cookie sheet and BAKE AS COOKIES!!
  • Eyeball the oven time. It took my cookies about 8 minutes.

This is the same beloved muffin recipe lots of us use, but made instead as cookies! Perfect to take to a party or tailgate.

  1. Home Depot décor (and crazy beautiful succulents!!)

Michael and I went to Home Depot to get pumpkins. (We were late to the pumpkin game, thanks to my surgery adventure, so we figured the pumpkin patches would be picked over.) And not only did Home Depot have pumpkins, but they also had great fall decorations, pretty mums, and an AWESOME assortment of succulents.

So…we went to Home Depot for a pumpkin, and I came home with a UGA pot full of cute succulents for my office 🙂

  1. S’more Feet Warmers…I don’t even think I need to elaborate. Why shouldn’t EVERY household in America have s’more feet warmers? They plug into your laptop or desktop while you work. And warm your toes. And they even SMILE AT YOU.

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No matter who wins the election this year, just remember. The real winner is those of us with fuzzy s’mores warming our feet. (Buy here)

Blessings and lots of chocolate and warm fuzzies to you,

Robyn

guest blog: heather nelsen [[embracing the days with your littles]]

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I literally couldn’t be more excited to introduce you to Heather Nelsen. I met Heather years ago through one of my favorite high school teachers, whose son was dating Heather (and is now married to her 🙂 ). My teacher would rave about Heather and her sweetness – and show our class slideshows of her engagement pictures (which were completely every high school girl’s DREAM) – and so of course I thought Heather was the COOLEST.

And, turns out, she is! She totally is.

All my mama friends, Heather is right there with you! She has some sweet words of encouragement for you, and an awesome blog to check out.

Hop on over to her blog and read about my Top 5 Favorite Books, too!

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Hey there! I’m Heather Nelsen and I write over at Notes from the Nelsens. A big thanks to Robyn for letting me share her space today!



In the picture above you’ll see my husband, Matt, who I swooped up in high school, our two kids, Ryan (2) and Natalie (8 months), who have made our lives so much richer, and our dog, Tally, who we refer to as the first born because we made the mistake of treating him like a child before we had real children. 😉



Travel, food, family, and faith are just a few of the things you’ll find me writing about over at my blog, so feel free to stop by, and say hello when you do!

 

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I don’t know how many of you read the post that went viral on Facebook a few months ago called How a Stranger’s Comment Changed the Way I Parent (you can read the entire post here), but just in case you missed it, I’ll give you a brief synopsis:

 

A younger couple with two small kids was spending the day at the beach when a storm started to roll in, so they quickly started gathering their things to head home for the day. 

 

If you are a parent with small kids and have ever attempted a trip to the beach, you know there are a LOT of things. And because there are a lot of things, gathering those things plus the kids makes for an interesting/challenging game of how much can you juggle before everyone/everything falls over. 😉 

 

So as they started the walk from their spot in the sand to head home for the day, the mom overhead an older man turn to his wife and fondly say, “Those were the days, weren’t they?”

 

Gah, it made me choke up the first time I read it and still makes me choke up as I type it out today.

 

We are living “the days.” Right here and now. We are smack dab in the middle of them.

 

Matt and I like to say that these days are a good kind of crazy. Because they are definitely crazy! But they are OH SO GOOD too.

 

In fact, we moved into a new house just a few weeks ago, so our crazy got REAL crazy for a stretch and is just now starting to settle back into our new normal

 

For various reasons, since moving into the new house, nap times have been a little off and haven’t been coordinating well (as in they haven’t been asleep at the same time for long), so I haven’t felt like I’ve had much time to get things done around the house during they day, let alone have any down time.

 

So early last week, Matt surprised me with text about mid-afternoon saying that he was going to come home early and wanted to give me some time while he took the kids to the park. GLORY!!

 

Let me be clear… I love, love, love getting to be home with my kiddos and would not trade it for anything in the world, but I also recognize that during this stage of life, time alone during waking hours is a rare and beautiful and sometimes needed thing, so I excitedly accepted his offer and started thinking about what I would do with this whole hour of time. 

 

After much thought, I decided that a bath with a glass of wine and a food magazine was exactly what this mama was in the mood for that day. And for the next few hours, that was what I envisioned come 5 o’clock.

 

Matt is honestly great about being home when he says, but on this particular day, he got a phone call from a client that had to handled immediately and texted to say he was so sorry but that he would be home later than he originally planned.

 

So at 5:45 when he got home, he swooped up Ryan, Natalie, and Tally and set off for a little neighborhood walk/bike ride for Ryan.

 

As soon as everyone was out of the house, I raced up the stairs (totally skipping the wine- no time to waste!), filled up the bath, and got my magazine and favorite candle ready for my relaxation time. Ahhhhh.

 

Literally, as I was stepping into the tub, I heard crying from downstairs. Matt, Ryan, Natalie, and Tally soon appeared in the bathroom with a tearful little Ryan asking for mama and saying he took a little fall on his bike (before they even made it off the driveway, poor guy!). I asked him what would make it better, and he excitedly said getting in the bath with mommy would make it better.

 

Matt looked at me with a sweet look like, “I’m sorry!” And I looked back with a look that said, “You tried!”

 

As much as I was looking forward to that little stretch of time, I knew that the window of my little buddy wanting his mama when he’s hurt and being able to crawl in the tub with me is such a short one.

 

There will be many days in my future (okay, maybe far away future, but still) 😉 where I’ll be able to sit in the tub and peacefully read an entire magazine… and in those moments, I may even think back to the years when our kids were little and would ask to crawl in with me. And I’ll probably miss them a lot.

 

So I will keep perspective during these crazy, good days, and remember what that sweet man said to his wife when he was watching the young couple with their small kids on the beach,

 

“Those were the days, weren’t they?”

 

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Thanks again, Robyn, for having me today!

 

~Heather

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Recovery Diary: my knee is the size of my head, but at least I’ve watched 37 episodes of Saved by the Bell

It’s two weeks post-op! Whoop, whoop!

So I was thinking…what can I write my diary about this week? I haven’t done anything but watch Kelly and Zack go to prom and then break up and then go to prom again. (Not that I’m complaining about this.)

So…here it is!

Recovery Diary of my Saturday (a.k.a – confirmation that your weekend WAS way cooler than somebody’s 😉 )

9:00 a.m. Yay! Time to get out of bed! I love Saturdays!

9:15 a.m. But I don’t want to move. Moving is hard. Plus, I can totally watch Zack and Kelly from this very spot…

9:16 a.m. …But I can’t watch the Pioneer Woman from this spot. Darn it. Okay. I’ll move.

10:00 a.m. I’m on the couch!! I’m on the couch!! Whoop, whoop!

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turns out, classic mixed veggies are the best ice pack. who knew?

1:00 p.m. I just watched three straight hours of TV! I’m winning!

1:01 p.m. No, that’s totally not true. I am literally going crazy. If I do not get out of this house right now I will never watch Saved by the Bell ever again. And I mean it!

Just kidding. Yes I will. I will always watch Saved by the Bell.

1:15 p.m. Hubby and I go on what we call “a crutch.” This is like a walk, but it’s more of a…crutch-type hobble to a pair of trees and back. It’s a grand, epic adventure, I tell you.

1:20 p.m. The trees! They’re so beautiful and red and totally worth getting off the couch for! And the air is crisp and I love the wreath on that person’s door and as annoying as recovery is…I can’t think of a better time to recover than in October. It’s the most beautiful recovery time I can imagine.

1:25 p.m. Time for physical therapy exercises. I love these. And today I’m extra excited because I bent my knee farther than 90 degrees while sitting!!! I’M WINNING! I pat myself on the back. Literally.

1:45-6:00 p.m. Couch time. Thankfully, I love Narnia. C.S. Lewis, you are brilliant and I thank you for the world you created in these books.

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6:30 p.m. Extroverted me is going crazy. “I need people,” I tell Hubby.

Hubby loads me in the car to see the people.

Hubby also calls one of his people to ride with us. This person is also on crutches! We load 4 crutches in the car to go see our people. I like having another crutch buddy!

7:00 p.m. MY PEOPLE!!!! MY PEOPLE!!! SOCIAL INTERACTION!!!! AND….WHAT’S THAT? YOU HAVE PUMPKIN BREAD AND S’MORES?!!!!! WINNING. MY PEOPLE WIN.

9:30 p.m. We can’t stay long with the people, because my leg still needs to be elevated at pretty much…well, all the time…until the swelling goes down. But at least I saw my people. And a crackling fire pit. And sugary treats.

Recovery in October. It really is the best. You know. Instead of like, January.

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the “crutch mobile”

10:00 p.m. Time for Zack and Kelly. This is the episode where Jesse and Slater get stuck in the boiler room while everybody else is at prom. But it’s okay! Because this is also where they realize they actually love each other. (But duh. I could have told them this fact about 15 episodes ago.)

Jesse and Slater. Gosh. You guys.

You’re the best.

Now I just need Kelly and Zack to get back together.

I wonder if Saved by the Bell “College Years” is on Netflix, too…

…hmm…that will be my project for tomorrow!

#winning.

*Side note: all my people who have brought me food, visited with me, driven me places, and sent me funny cat pictures…YOU ARE LITERALLY THE BEST. Love you guys!!