Fall Semester Goals

Fall Semester Goals | Beth Gets Brave

It’s official – I’m a college student. The semester starts today. I was up at 2 am, looking through all of the online info that my professors uploaded. And wondering what I got myself into. Anyways. That’s a post for another day.

I’m a goal-maker. But I will also be the first to tell you that I rarely follow through with those goals. I can type out a list of a hundred things I want to accomplish, and that list will just sit in my files forever, completely forgotten the moment I hit save.

I am actively working on that issue right now, by setting small, easily accomplished goals and checking them off. I’m approaching college in the same way – setting long-range goals and breaking them into smaller goals so I’ll have success. I’ll be re-working these goals later on and doing a mid-semester check-in.

Here are my goals for the next five months:

  • my kids – they are my first priority. Making sure they are happy, well-fed and well-taken care of is top of my list. My going back to school will be a big change for us all – mom will have homework and papers to write – but I’m hoping that when the big kids see mom doing homework they will put up less of a fight (we’ll see).
  • get at least Bs in all my classes – This is aiming kind of low, but it has been a long time since I’ve had to write for credit. The thought of having to format papers with some sort of style (AP? See? I don’t even know!) is a little daunting. I’m also taking a creative writing class so I’ll have to write some poetry for grades! Didn’t really think that thought when I registered for that class.
  • use my planner all the time – I have an academic year InkWell Press Planner that I’m using for school this semester. I went through it a few weeks ago, adding in days off and college activities listed in the school’s calendar. I might color code classes and assignments, but I don’t know if I have the patience for that. It’s why bullet journaling never worked out for me.
  • follow workout/morning/evening/self-care/house cleaning routines – I need to make some charts to hang up around the house to make it easy for us all to remember exactly what our jobs are. I’ll be using a cleaning calendar from Clean Mama (used it in the past with success) and I’ll be sharing my other routines later.
  • set up Google calendar with my class info – I use the calendar on my phone all the time. If a reminder doesn’t pop up on it, I probably won’t do whatever I’m supposed to do. I do have these calendars color-coded!
  • blog about my experiences – I plan on writing about college from the perspective of a single mom. We’ll see how consistent I can be.
  • make one friend at school and make time to get together outside of school – This is going to be tough, considering I don’t really like talking to people. It does help to know that I won’t be the oldest person in my classes or the only one with kids.
  • work hard – Succeeding in college, being the best mom I can be and adulting all at the same time will be tough. But I’ve made it through 100% of my hardest days, so I know I can do this.

Fall Semester Goals | Beth Gets Brave

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5 Tips to Become a Morning Person

5 Tips tp Become a Morning Person | Beth Gets Brave

I’ve never been much of a morning person. But with three kids, mornings come too soon. I’ve been getting up before they do, though it’s tough some days. I can get some things done before launching into Mom-Mode. Every good morning starts with a good night.


I used to stay up late – reading, watching Netflix, scrolling through my phone. These days, I try to be asleep by 10:30 at the latest. More often than not, I am asleep by 10. I’ve been using the Bedtime option in my phone’s alarm clock app to track my sleep, but it’s hit or miss. (For instance, last night, it said I only slept three hours. Not quite. And sometimes, it doesn’t work at all.) If you have any good sleep app recommendations let me know!


Making lists and setting out our clothes are two ways I prepare for the next day. I also make sure all the electronics get charged.


It’s tempting to hit the snooze and sleep for nine more minutes, but once I’m awake, it’s hard for me to fall back to sleep. You can keep your alarm on the other side of the room, or trust yourself to get up when it goes off.


The Moana soundtrack is my current favorite – and bonus for me – it motivates my kids too! Or listen to a podcast!


I’ve been getting in the habit of working out right away, using workouts I find on Pinterest. It’s not much, but it gets me moving and wakes me up. Plus, I don’t have to dread working out later – it’s already done! Then I shower and get ready for the day. Since I have psoriasis, taking care of my skin is more important than ever. Right now, I have several spots on my face I am trying to control. Face wash, toner and a good moisturizer help for now. After all that, I sit at the counter in the kitchen (my “office”) and get to work on the list of things I made the night before.


This is one I don’t do often. My stomach usually can’t handle food before noon, so I drink a bunch of water. When I could eat breakfast, I liked English muffins with peanut butter, bacon and orange juice. I always take my vitamins though (Vitamin D, B12 and Vitamin C, along with a multivitamin).

What can you do to have an easier morning?

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Biggest Sister, Littlest Sister

Beth Hardinger Blog

Avery spent last week with Gramma at Bible School, so it was just these two home with me. They rarely get along, but without Avery, they have to find a way to play together (Thank you, Daniel Tiger, for all of your awesome songs…)

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It’s not very often Lauren gets to help Hannah with things, so she had fun actually playing the big sister role. Hannah couldn’t get up on a rock, so Lauren lifted her up. She couldn’t push the button on the fountain and drink at the same time, so Lauren helped out with that too.

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We got up early, had donuts from Cub and went to a park we rarely visit. It was empty, since it was 8am, so the kids had fun just running around and playing.

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And this shoveling contraption? Hannah couldn’t quite figure it out. So Lauren told her to sit on the seat with her and helped her shovel sand.

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It makes me happy to see them like this, even though as soon as they got in the car, they started fighting again. At least I know they love each other!

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How I Set Myself Up For Writing Success

Finding sufficient time to write – as a single mom and full-time student – can be challenging at best. I am often forced to get creative with my time and space. I don’t have an office, or even a desk, so having a laptop is beneficial, since it’s small and portable, as opposed to a desktop computer. I’ve thought about just getting a desktop setup but I would need the room for a desk big enough to hold a monitor, tower, keyboard and mouse. I would be chained to the desk anytime I wanted to write.

In order for me to have a successful writing session, I do a few things.

  • I look ahead in the calendar – when will my kids be gone? What do we have going on at certain times in the day? When I figure these times out, I put a note in my planner to write on those days.
  • This sounds obvious, but I make sure my devices are charged, especially my laptop, since it only holds a charge for about 15 minutes.
  • I make a short list of things I need to write (one of my many WIPs, or a blog post) and how many I want to write.
  • Once I have time blocked out (usually an hour at a time), I sit down with some ice water and peanut butter m&ms.
  • I use the timer app on my phone to keep me on task.
  • Sometimes, if I’m writing to hit a word count, I will use the NaNoWriMo Word Sprints function. (Pro tip: if you click the DARE ME button under the timer, it gives you prompts to use for your story!)

Camp NaNoWriMo has come and gone. I ended it a few days early, hitting my word count of 10,000 words around July 25th. I lowered my word count from 30,000 to 10,000 because it just wasn’t a realistic number with everything going on in my life right now. November will be here before you know it, so I’ll try again then (except my word goal will be 50,000!)

My new habit will be writing at least 500 words every day. I found a few great articles to help give you some inspiration! Jeff Goins has a 31-day challenge (not sure if it’s still going on – I never received the daily prompts – but still useful advice!) Are you a morning person (or do you want to be?) Here’s a post about getting up early to write 500 words. And also a post about what writing 500 words a day can do for you.

Get writing!!

How I Set Myself Up For Writing Success | Beth Gets Brave


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Favorite Summer Netflix Picks

Favorite Summer Netflix Picks | Beth Hardinger Blog

Let’s face it – we can’t spend every single day at the park or the lake. We all need a break sometimes. Or it’s just way too hot and humid to be outside, or a summer storm rolls in. Whatever the reason, my kids and I have our go-to Netflix shows and movies to watch when we stay in.

Avery (8)

  • Dolphin Tale
  • Magic School Bus Series
  • Any Disney/Pixar Movie
  • Pete’s Dragon
  • Care Bears (that show has really changed since I watched it in the 80s!)

Lauren (10)

  • Sofia The First (she will be so excited when Elena of Avalor and Doc McStuffins come to Netflix!)
  • Tarzan (the good one, with Phil Collins and ‘N SYNC doing the music)
  • My Little Pony
  • Littlest Pet Shop

Hannah (3)

  • Moana
  • Zootopia
  • Hotel Transylvania 2
  • Anything her sisters are watching

The Mom (30-something)

  • Parenthood the series
  • Supernatural (currently working my through Season 1 again)
  • Parks & Rec – hands down my all-time favorite show
  • Grace & Frankie
  • Being Human (US version)

On My To-Watch List

  • The Originals – I have only seen the first season and I didn’t really pay attention
  • The Ranch
  • The Last Kingdom
  • Anne With An “E” – I’m having a really hard time with this one, because I LOVE the original so much

What do you like watching in the summer? Have any recommendations for us? 

Favorite Summer Netflix Picks | Beth Hardinger Blog

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When You’re In A Bad Mood

When You're in a Bad Mood | Beth Gets Brave

It’s hard, day in and day out, doing the same things. Feeling the same feelings. Fighting the same battles. I used to have a really tough time getting out this hole – deep, dark, bottomless but I’ve learned some tips to make my bad days seem…not so bad.


It’s obviously the healthiest beverage choice and the cheapest. I keep a 64oz container of water in the fridge, ready to go when I need it. Staying hydrated is important anyway – but this is the best choice when you are grumpy. Caffeine makes me jittery and hurts my stomach, which doesn’t do anything to improve my mood, no matter how good it may taste at the time.


I am grateful for so much in my life. My kids. My family. My friends (it still makes me smile, writing friends. I spent many years alone.) After all that’s happened, I look back on how far I’ve come – and my kids – and remember that God used that experience to shape me into what I am now – and what I have yet to become. Sit down and make a list of everything you are grateful for today.


Listening to some music usually helps me feel better. I use Spotify and have certain playlists I go to when I’m feeling icky. My current favorites are the Moana soundtrack (especially Shiny) and my Christian radio playlist. Unfinished by Mandisa and Hard Love by NeedToBreathe are some really motivating ones!


I hate exercise. I hate being outside. I hate being sweaty. But there’s something about moving, burning calories, that makes me feel so much better when I’m done. My current go-to is walking, but I’ve been thinking about trying yoga – I know my kids would love it – and the benefits are endless. Do you have any tips, YouTube channels or advice on how to get started with yoga, especially as someone who is not flexible at all?


Sometimes, I make a simple to-do list, adding things like: eat breakfast, wash the dishes, take a shower. When life gets crappy, seeing even routine things crossed off a physical list can be powerful.


Write it all out. Get it down on paper, or type it out on your computer or phone. It can help you sort through what’s making you so grumpy. It’s like venting to a friend. Or…


Reach out to a trusted friend or family member. Most of the time, they will be more than willing to listen and they may even have some suggestions. Bonus points if they meet with you in person. Sometimes, when you feel crappy, you don’t want to be alone.


Find something you genuinely love to do. For me, it’s taking photos of my kids, writing YA paranormal fiction and reading through the Harry Potter series.

When all else fails, lounge on the couch and binge-watch some Parks & Rec or Supernatural. Sometimes, you just need to feel crappy for a little while. Just don’t let it go on too long!


When You're in a Bad Mood | Beth Gets Brave

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5 Tips For Staying Healthy in College

Tips For Staying Healthy in College | Beth Gets Brave

The semester started for me last Monday. Between the issues going on in my personal life and figuring out how to manage college and homework and kids and life and bills…I consumed an obscene amount of Mountain Dew. I also tend to skip meals when my kids are gone, because I don’t have anyone around asking for snack after snack. (And if we’re really being honest, I don’t eat because of anxiety.)

Drink water

This seems obvious. It’s also something I don’t do as much as I should. I mean, I have a 64oz bottle sitting on my counter, I always forget to grab it and fill it up. I don’t really like flavored waters or anything like that, but if you do, there are so many combinations you can try!

Walk as much as possible

This won’t be an issue on the days I have to go to class. Parking spots are hard to come by in the mornings, so I just park in any spot – and it always happens to be really far away from the main doors. I also try to head out on the trail by the lake when the kids are gone. It makes things easier when I get ready as I get the kids packed up and just head out the door when they do. (I’ll be honest – sometimes I’d rather go back to bed!)

Make healthy lunch and snack choices

This is another area where I fail. I am super picky when it comes to food, and it seems that as I get older and the anxiety gets its hooks in deeper, my stomach just can’t handle much anymore. I am learning (painfully) what I can eat and what I can’t. Sadly, coffee doesn’t make the cut, unless it’s decaf and who wants to drink that?! I mostly live off of cheese and Pretzel Fish (Pepperidge Farm Goldfish pretzels).

As I was sitting in class last week (I had skipped breakfast because of anxiety), I took a few minutes to write down some snack ideas to being with me each week. I’ve really been into almonds lately, and I like those dark chocolate covered pretzels you can get at Costco.

Try not to skip breakfast

English muffins with peanut butter and a glass of orange juice are my go-to breakfast. Sometimes some slices of pineapple or whatever fruit I have in the fridge for the kids. It’s easier for me to eat breakfast when my kids are home – I pop some English muffins in the toaster while making Lauren’s waffles.

Get to bed early

I aim for 10 pm. I usually can’t sleep the whole night so at 4 am, I get up and try to do some homework. I read somewhere that 4-6am is when your brain works the best. I’ll have to try it for a few weeks to see if really works!

Bonus tip: Have a morning routine

I wrote about this last week! You can read about it here. I will eventually have to tweak it when the kids start school in a few weeks and we get a more permanent schedule.

Do you have any tips or tricks on how to stay healthy while you are going to school?

Tips For Staying Healthy in College | Beth Gets Brave

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Summer Book Club | Kids Edition

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

Samson The Piranha Who Went to Dinner | Beth Hardinger Blog

Summer Book Club | Kids Edition

This week, Avery chose a book about a piranha. Samson: The Piranha Who Went to Dinner by Tadgh Bentley. Avery’s almost 8, and enjoys chapter books (shorter ones – she hasn’t quite moved into Harry Potter territory yet), but this wasn’t a chapter book. I try to have them pick out their own books, for the most part, even if the books seem a little too easy – or a little too hard.

Samson is beautifully illustrated. He’s definitely the cutest piranha I’ve ever seen! Samson the “foodie” piranha loves to explore, unlike the other piranhas. He wanted more than just the same old thing, day after day, especially food. Samson learned that some new, fancy restaurants were opening nearby, so he ventured out to try them.

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

The best things about the book are the phrases the other fish say to Samson. A few of Avery’s favorites were: “Salty mother of mackerel!”, “Scaly Neptune’s crabcakes!”, and “For the love of smoky sea bass!”

Basically, the story is about always being yourself – being you is okay. Samson learns that if the world doesn’t have what you want – a fancy restaurant with yummy food – you do what you have to do to get what you want. You don’t have to hide what you are.

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

I found a cute activity to do along with the book! We will be trying this soon! All three of my kids loved this book!

Summer Book Club | Beth Hardinger Blog

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7 Reasons Why I Write Fiction

7 Reasons Why I Write | Beth Gets Brave

I’ve been writing since I was a little kid. I went from writing about the future (how I thought my life was going to go, who I was going to marry, etc) to writing paranormal YA (young adult) fiction. Yes, I realize I am 31, but I find it’s easier to write about a teenager falling in love with a supernatural being than writing about a grown woman. I may never publish anything that I write, if I finish anything at all. But I need to write.

  • it lets me escape my own reality for awhile
  • I love going back and re-reading what I’ve written, and get mad when it ends too soon (because I never finish anything…)
  • it gives me something to do in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep
  • it’s fun (most of the time)
  • I love doing NaNoWriMo (November) and Camp NaNoWriMo (April & July), even though I’ve never hit the 50,000 goal…yet…
  • it gives me a chance to improve my writing, because I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not that great with grammar and following all the rules
  • I get to meet some pretty awesome writers on Twitter and Instagram. And next year, I’ll join a Camp NaNoWriMo cabin for even more support

I hope to finish at least a short story, and post it online somewhere. I hear Wattpad is a good place for new writers, especially for fan fiction (which I also write).


7 Reasons Why I Write | Beth Gets Brave

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