Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Someone Who Gets It

About once a month, I meet with an amazing female mentor who is a few steps ahead of me in life. In the midst of her daily activities as a wife and mother, I can't express how thankful I am for this time with her and the fact that she makes time for me. We spend a few hours catching up, praying, and going through a book together. We have very similar personalities, so it's sort of like talking to an future, wiser version of me. Usually tea and or baked goods of some sort are involved, a necessity of course.  Our book of choice? For Women Only, by Shaunti Feldhahn.

If you haven't read it, you should. No matter if you're engaged, you've been married 5 years, or you've been married 55 years, this book has things to share about men from a Biblical perspective. You can get both the book and the corresponding work book on Amazon for fairly cheap. I've been completely intrigued to find out more about why men are the way they are, what they are really thinking, and how their perspective on topics including everything from communication to romance differ from ours.  For Women Only

For the men, there is also a version called For Men Only. Feldhahn and her husband both contributed to this version. My parents bought a copy of each book for Aaron and I during our first year of marriage. His is still sitting on his side table in our bedroom, but I know he will eventually find his way to it as he seeks to understand me in my "finer" moments. I've yet to sneak a peek, but I will probably read some of it soon to see what secrets it shares about women's inner lives. For Men Only

I am so thankful that I reached out to ask about mentoring.  It is refreshing to talk with someone else who has been through what I'm going through and more, someone who has the knowledge to guide me as a woman of faith. Being vulnerable, open, and honest with someone else who shares your outlook on life is really freeing. Though I love my husband dearly and talk openly about anything and everything with him, sometimes we just need another woman who will understand. It's typically best to choose someone who isn't a family member, simply because it allows for unbiased perspective and complete openness about any and all life issues. If you're blessed (like I am) to have wonderful women in your family who are already mentors of sorts, you get the bonus of gaining another one! No matter what stage of life you're in, I highly recommend finding someone a step ahead of you to walk alongside. It will likely blossom into a beautiful friendship. I love it.


Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Fight to Be Fit

A few months ago, Aaron and I decided to work on getting a bit more fit, mainly in preparation for our trip to Cancun over Christmas Break (see more about that here). I've always loved exercising, mostly because it allows for the perfect combination of competitiveness and stress relief. I've consistently relied on it for these reasons, as well as to allow me to eat whatever I wanted. Essentially, I worked out so that I could eat what I wanted, not in order to truly lose weight. I've always believed that it wasn't worth starving myself to weigh a few pounds less, and I still stick to that.

Being fit was pretty effortless in high school. I played softball, basketball, and ran track for my high school, so I had a two hour practice built into my day and I always pushed myself. College was a bit of another story. Though I was a dedicated Mizzou Rec visitor who attended Tiger X classes and played every intramural sport, I still wasn't getting the same amount of exercise that I had in the past. That being said, I probably didn't need to be eating as much as I was. Scratch that, I definitely didn't need to be eating as much as I was. What can I say, college dining halls, pokey sticks from Gumby's, and dessert at every meal in my sorority house can kind of catch up to you. Not to mention what a few stressful calculus tests (back when I thought I would teach Math!), living without a roommate, and going through the majority of college without a boyfriend can do to you. That's a story for another day though. As most kids usually do (except for those lucky eternally skinny ones), I packed on some pounds.

I was never huge, but I didn't feel super good about myself. It was something that brought me shame and frustration, and caused my self-esteem to drop. Even though I was running at least two or three miles every day, and never missed a work out, I felt like my body was just staying the same. I felt like nothing I did made a difference, and it made me want to give up or just eat a bunch because it didn't matter anyways. Only when Aaron popped the question a few years later (in November of 2012) did I decide it was time for a change. I started lifting weights again, and changing up my work out regimen. It's all about change. I was able to drop about 6 pounds or so and what I felt like was a few inches before we walked down the aisle!

Anyways, rather than pack on a few pounds once we tied the knot, I continued to get motivated to do a little better. I wanted to feel fit and eat healthier, so that my body would hold up and I could enjoy a long life without health issues. Last year I started doing after school workouts with my friends at school so that I wasn't working out solo. This helped me stay motivated without having to create my own workouts. Exercising with friends while unwinding from the school day has really been a blessing.

Over Thanksgiving Break, the local 9Round boxing club was running a special. Aaron and I did a two week free trial last summer, and a new club had just opened literally two minutes away from our house, so we decided to splurge and join for 6 months. I. Love. It. I go every day except Sundays, when they're closed. You get in, get out, and get fit while sweating a ton and feeling a difference. Plus you get to punch things- so there's that. No class times and a planned workout that changes daily (and is fun) really makes me feel like I'm getting the challenge that I want without having to go out of my way. Each round is easy enough to follow, but intellectually stimulating enough to distract my brain from how hard I'm working. And we do things I would NEVER make myself do if I worked out on my own. (Did I mention I'm incredibly competitive? See Round 5 below).

I've tried Title Boxing too, but I like the 30 minute workout here better, and I feel like it's just as hard. The first visit is always free, and they have locations all around Kansas City, so hit me up if you want to come workout with me!

With the help of 9 Round's workouts and a visit from the flu on the day after Christmas, I've dropped another 5 pounds or so since the end of November. More importantly, I feel a difference in the way my clothes fit, and I feel better about myself.  Beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes, and I totally splurge on yummy food without holding onto dreams of dropping to my high school size, but I do like the way that healthy feels. Fitness is something you have to fight for and truly make a priority in the busy world we live in, but I believe it is good for me physically, emotionally, and mentally. It's a fight worth fighting.

Our health and weight are not something to be ashamed of, or hide, but rather something to support and build up each other in. Are you struggling with these same issues? Contact me here, or comment below and I'd love to talk more about it and pray for you. If you'd like to get newsletters twice a month, sign up here. I hope you'll stick around and explore more, and connect with me on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks so much for stopping by!

I'm linking up with A Fresh Start.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Eating Out: The Thrifty Way

I'm going to give myself a little pat on the back here: I have successfully cooked dinner for 4 weeknights in a row! (More on my freezer meals later.) I know, I know, not that big of an accomplish, right? But for a working woman who cooks only for two, it can be quite tempting (and sometimes even less expensive if you know where to eat and what time of night) to go out to eat.

Some of our favorites are Applebee's and 54th Street. Seriously, we should probably buy stock in these places. If you can wait until after 9 to eat, and if you can split a meal, you can both eat for $9 or less plus tip. Obviously it's a little harder if you have kids, but you can still take advantage of these deals on a date night. If you're like us, and you like to eat out, you CAN do it without breaking the bank!

54th Street
"Half-Price" Apps After 9

You have to purchase a drink, then you can get any appetizer for $4.99.
Want to make the most of your money? Get the super nachos. You can split it and order one drink (to qualify for the $4.99 app price.
If you get the Front Flip app, you can save even more money. You can win anything from a free drink to a free entree, and the servers are really good about letting you use the deals even during half-price app time.

Aaron and I can both get a full meal out of the super nachos, and we usually have leftovers. You can get guacamole and sour cream, multiple meats, and we love it with the original Gringo drip (instead of the cheese sauce).

Total Price with generous tip: $13

Half Price Appetizers After 9, No Drink Required

You can really go cheap at Applebee's. All of their appetizers are a full 50% off, so you can each get a  meal for $3-4. We like to get a couple and share. For the best meal options, go for the Chicken Quesadillas (which you can order even if they aren't shown on the menu) or the Buffalo Wings. The cheeseburger sliders are also good, and come with fries. Drink water!

They used to have Applebee's Perks with $5 off any meal, so Aaron and I were literally eating for $2 plus a tip, but they have stopped sending those coupons. Sad day. Feel like splurging? Get the $1 brownie bite for a sweet end to your meal :)

Total Price with generous tip: $12

We love the "splurge" of going out to eat when it costs us less than $15. We're enjoying the freedom in this time of our lives to take advantage of these meal deals whenever. Happy Eating!


Monday, January 19, 2015

Fabulous, Nearly-Free Cancun

For the past three New Year's Eves, we have traveled with one of our very favorite couples. Two years ago, we were all on a 22 person trip to an awesome Christian conference for 18-25 year olds called Passion. Last year, we traveled to New Orleans. And this year, we went to Cancun!

Adventures with friends are the best, especially when you get along so well with them, well enough to spend 6 nights straight sharing hotel rooms :)

Our vacation in Cancun was glorious. It was 82, sunny, relaxing, and, seriously, almost free! How so? The secret is making your money work for you (and making sure that you pay off your bills!).

Step One: Southwest Travel Card
This card is awesome. Basically, when you sign up for the card and meet the initial spending by purchasing items you would already be purchasing, you get a reward bonus of 50,000 points. These points can be put towards any Southwest flights. Points for flights range depending on your destination, but we have BOTH been able to fly to Cancun and back, Vegas and back, and one other small trip (to be determined) all on points. By the way, Southwest now flies to Cancun, Cabo San Lucas, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Aruba, and Jamaica!

In addition to the sign on bonus, you earn points for every dollar you spend on your card. Two thousand dollars in bills, food, and gas this month? You just earned 2,000 more points towards a flight! Also, you get 6,000 bonus points on the anniversary of your card date. All of these points make the $89 annual fee pay for itself and then some. We have saved over $1,000 in flights this year alone. The rapid rewards program (and this card) are awesome! For more on the card, check out this post. If you want a referral to the card, feel free to email me at or comment below and I will send you the link.

Step Two:Hyatt Card
Hyatt has a sign up deal similar to the Southwest Card. They operate on a points system as well, but the best thing about this card is that once you meet your spending requirements then you win two free "reward nights". These are redeemable ANYWHERE in the world. (And you get a free night every year for being a card member.) Seriously. We got the most bang for our buck by staying at the Hyatt Zilara. 

We used some of our rewards nights, coupled with our friend's reward night to earn four FREE nights at this amazing all-inclusive. Which means we didn't pay a dime for food, drinks, or hotel stay for four nights at this four and a half star resort. Talk about luxury for less! They also have all-inclusives in Jamaica and Cabo San Lucas where you could do the same deal if you didn't want to go to Cancun.

All that's left to pay for was the transfer from the airport to the hotel and back, which we found for $55 total for all four of us. It really made things stress free. If you want to explore more of downtown Cancun, it's easy to do by foot, or you can pay under $1 in pesos to hop on the city bus. We did some tipping as well for the awesome staff.

If you have friends that you don't mind sharing a hotel room with, then get your rewards nights, share them, and head off on a lengthy, fabulous, almost free vacation!


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

It Took Me Long Enough

Hi. I'm Kelsie. Most of you probably know that, but I've always felt that meeting without introductions was awkward. So now we're covered. I'm so glad you're here, just in time for me to share a little about how the blog began. Grab a comfy seat, something yummy to sip on, and stay for a while. I hope you're check out more of the blog as I share my heart, and know that you're always valued and welcome here!

I'm a high school English teacher with a big heart for my kids. This is my faculty photo from this year (lucky number 4). If you'd like a copy, I probably still have one, since every year I give one to my mom and then have nothing to do with the rest of them. I'm also a wife, an avid traveler, and lover of Jesus. Here's more about me.

At least once a year, my students blog. All of them. I teach everything from the highest gifted class to the lowest sophomore class. And they all blog. So naturally, you'd assume I've been blogging for decades. And your assumption would be wrong.

Before Currently, Kelsie launched in January of 2015, I had never blogged before. I've always wanted to. I love writing and sharing my ideas with others. I love to talk- to the point where sometimes I get really excited and people can't get a word in. It's not intentional; I just love to interact with people. Blogging is perfect for me, because I can write all I want, but then edit and tweak without ever sticking my foot in my mouth. Then people can choose to "listen" by reading, or not. And no hard feelings. Plus it offers the beginnings of beautiful, honest conversation as comments and community begin to build. And these things are incredibly important to me!

After a sweet friend of mine decided to start a blog, my desire to start one of my own finally crept back into my life and drove me to the point of actually doing it. So here I am. Here you are.

I can't begin to tell you how many nights I lay awake in bed thinking about what to call this blog. As an English teacher, words are crazy important to me, and I was not going to throw down just any old title without giving it a little thought. After many notes and google trips to the thesaurus, I landed on "Perfectly Imperfect". I loved the way that I could tie in my ideas to this theme, and wrap it all up in what was most important to me- my faith. But then I found out that this was already a blog about home decor and refinishing......bummer. Well-played, Shaunna West, well-played.

So it was back to the drawing board. I was forced to do more self-reflection, which brought me to this: This world is constantly moving and changing, and every stage of life is so precious. Through the midst of so much adjustment, I have to remind myself that change can be good, while also enjoying the place I'm at right now. Thus the title of this blog: Currently, Kelsie. Not Tomorrow, Kelsie, not Yesterday, Kelsie. Currently. After a few months, I came up with a tagline that I liked as well, which is: Love fiercely. Learn Fearlessly. Live Fully. Check out the meaning behind these words here. I've also got a huge heart for vulnerable conversation and feeling united in shared stories and experiences, which is what you will find in the moments tab.

 So here I am now, sharing my own stories and suggestions about life, love, and living it up in all my (current) favorite parts of this crazy, ever-changing world. I'll hope you'll check out Currently, Kelsie and spend some time sharing your heart and story with all of us. Thanks for coming along on this journey with me! I'm so glad to have you!