Prom Prep 2018; Picking a Dress

     As early as it may sound, prom season is upon us.  Although my school’s prom isn’t until late April, the “promposals” began as early as mid-February here and several of my friends ordered their dresses before Christmas break!  Today I’m beginning what will be a short series on the blog throughout the spring leading up to my own prom; “Prom Prep.”  As I prepare for my first prom, I’m going to be sharing my tips for dress shopping, hairstyle choosing, jewelry selecting, etc. in this series and taking you along on what I’m sure will be one of the most stressful and fun parts of my junior year.  I hope y’all love this series!  This first installment is all about picking the perfect dress, enjoy!

My Experience

     Despite eyeing prom dresses since my babysitters showed me photos of theirs when I was in elementary school, finding the right dress was pretty difficult for me.  I guess it’s kind of like how you see a million things you want all year but can never think of anything to ask for when Christmas rolls around.  I had a vague idea of what I wanted at the beginning of junior year; something elegant but trendy (the last thing I want is for my future children to look at my prom photos the way I look at my mom’s with the ginormous ruffled flowers on her shoulder), simple but pretty (big, sparkly dresses aren’t very popular where I live, the girls typically stick to long gowns with simple details and minimal flare), $250 or less, long, and preferably grey or blush pink.  I was pretty openminded to all necklines as long as the dress had some type of straps.

     By fall I had come to the conclusion that my pale, pinkish skin tone was too close to blush pink to pull off a dress in the hue and narrowed my searches down to grey.  I also originally thought my fairly flat chested self would be able to pull off a plunging neckline, but big eyes from my stepmother upon showing her a moderately low v-neck dress turned me the other way.

     In January, I was looking for something grey yet eye catching, but was having practically no luck.  After shopping for a sweater on ASOS, I thought I’d give their bridesmaids dresses section a shot.  I ended up finding a $103 pretty one shoulder number in a blush pink color called “mink” that appeared to have more of a greyish undertone, meaning it had potential to not make me look naked (that obviously wouldn’t be good).  I ordered it in two sizes (which I highly recommend doing if you’re ordering online!) and one of them fit just right.  I’ve decided on this one and I’m so excited about it!  See the dress below and shop it here.

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Where to Shop Online

     If you’re having trouble finding a prom dress due to lack of stores near you, definitely consider some online options!  I didn’t even go into a store and still found a great dress at an awesome price point!  I ultimately decided ASOS would be a good place to purchase my dress because the sweater I got there proved to be good quality (therefore it’s a reliable retailer) and I knew from conversations that most of the reasonably priced, large selection websites like Lulu’s and PromGirl would be the first websites everyone at my school would go to in search of their own prom dress.  If your school isn’t as Lulu’s obsessed (personally I just didn’t want a dress with such a large risk of being on someone else at prom), definitely check their website out, there are a ton of adorable prom dresses at really good price points!  PromGirl, Red Dress Boutique, Show Me Your MuMu, and Nordstrom Rack are also great online options!  If you have a higher budget, BCBG Max Azria and Free People also sell some beautiful gowns.  I’ve pictured and linked a few of my favorite prom dresses below!

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1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

My Tips

  1. Have some ideas of what you want, but don’t hold yourself to your vision if you find something completely different that you really like. – Having a few color ideas can be really helpful when filtering website searches filled with tens of pages of prom dresses.  That being said, I thought I would definitely end up with a grey dress this year, and had I stuck to that I wouldn’t have found the dress that I now have and love so much!
  2. If you’re ordering your dress online, order it in multiple sizes and make sure you can return it. – Ordering my dress in two sizes in the first place was definitely one of the smartest decisions I’ve made so far in the prom process.  Ordering two sizes at once not only prevented me from having to return a dress and blindly choose another size, but also allowed me to compare the pros and cons of each size.  One of my dresses wouldn’t zip up the last inch, while the other might hang a little lower on the strapless side.  I know the last thing you want is to send one dress back just to find that its replacement is hardly different (or inducing the opposite problem) from the one you had before.
  3. Keep the type of dresses people in your area wear in mind. – While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with standing out, personally (as I’m sure holds true for plenty of you too I’m sure), walking into prom in a bedazzled dress unlike the simple jewel-toned frocks of my peers is one of the last things I want to happen.  Even if this is your first year going to prom (I know at my school only juniors and seniors/the dates of juniors and seniors are allowed to attend), look through some the past prom Instagram posts of upperclassmen or recent graduates from your school so you have an idea of what people in your area typically wear to prom.  Length, fluffiness, and sparkle are all likely to be factors your student body has a pretty clear stance on and you should investigate!
  4. Don’t shop where all your friends are shopping! – If it seems like everyone is getting their prom dress from a certain store or website, purchasing a dress at the popular location drastically increases your chances of showing up to prom in the same dress as everyone else.  This might not sound like the worst thing to you, but to me it sounds like a breeding ground for comparison (both in my head and by my peers) and the last thing I want to do on this fun night is feel like I don’t look as good in my dress as someone else does.

Thanks for reading!  I hope this post helps you in your prom dress shopping!  Stay tuned for more prom related posts in the next few weeks!

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Progress Update on My Goals for The 2017-2018 School Year

     At the beginning of the school year, I wrote a blog post about my goals fro the 2017-2018 school year.  I began the year with attempting to keep an optimistic mindset, despite hearing the common opinion “junior year is the hardest” about a million times.  Today I’m sharing a progress update to show y’all how I’m doing and hold myself accountable for the areas in which I’ve been slacking, that way I feel more motivated to get to work when I begin second semester on Monday!  If you’re interested in reading the original goals post from September you can find it here!  If you have yet to create goals for your school year, it’s not too late!  You’re more than welcome to use today’s post as inspiration for your own goals for second semester.  The original goals are in italics under their categories and my post-first semester responses regarding my progress follow each one in plain print.  Enjoy!

Academic Goals

  1. Complete the school year with all A’s and B’s. – So far I’ve had all A’s and two B’s!  My two B’s at the end of first semester were both within two points of being A’s, which are better number grades than my B’s sophomore year!
  2. Be somewhat successful in A.P. Environmental Science (Science isn’t really my best subject.  It’s not that I’m really bad at it, I just typically don’t perform as well in that subject as I do in my other classes). – My final grade in A.P. Environmental Science for first semester was an 88, which still isn’t quite as high as I’d like it to be, but it’s honestly higher than I expected it to be!  My second quarter grade was actually an A, but unfortunately my first quarter grade was an 87 and my midterm exam wasn’t quite high enough to bring my average up to an A.
  3. Get a 100 on a test. – I have yet to get a 100 on a test, but I’ve had several A’s and even had a 99 on an essay!
  4. Make 4’s and 5’s on my three A.P. exams at the end of the year. – I haven’t taken the official A.P. exams yet, so I’m unable to gauge my success in this goal so far.  However, I finished the semester with two A’s and one B in my A.P. classes!

Athletic Goals

  1. Attend as many preseason lacrosse practices as possible. – I attended all of the preseason lacrosse practices and conditioning workouts offered!
  2. Work out more. – I’m not even going to lie, I’ve done very little to work out outside of lacrosse conditioning and preseason practices.  However, I’ve worked out a few times since the new year began and I plan on becoming more active in 2018!
  3. Play more in lacrosse games than I did last year. – The lacrosse season hasn’t begun yet so I’m currently unable to gauge my success in this goal.
  4. Make the varsity lacrosse team again. – The lacrosse season hasn’t begun yet so I’m currently unable to gauge my success in this goal.
  5. Score a goal during a varsity lacrosse game. – The lacrosse season hasn’t begun yet so I’m currently unable to gauge my success in this goal.

Spiritual Goals

  1. Make lots of new middle school friends as a WyldLife leader. – Check!  I’ve loved leading WyldLife thus far and have made a ton of middle school friends!
  2. Go to YoungLife club every week that I possibly can. – I haven’t missed a YoungLife club yet!  Am I really surprised by this though?  Nah.
  3. Feel refreshed after fall weekend at Windy Gap (a YoungLife camp in North Carolina). – This one was easy.  I loved every second of fall weekend at Windy Gap (read my Windy Gap travel diary here), as I always do, and I can’t wait to return next fall!
  4. Read the Bible daily. – I hate to admit this but I really didn’t do a good job of keeping up with my Bible reading during first semester.  However, this semester is off to a promising start as I’ve read at least a chapter everyday since January 1st!  I definitely plan on making this goal last through second semester.
  5. Pray more often. – I’ve begun praying constantly.  I talk to God all the time now and I think it has improved several areas of my life.
  6. Use my devotional daily. – I haven’t been using my devotional daily, but I hope to start doing that once second semester begins (here’s to getting up earlier and having extra time before school).
  7. Go to winter weekend with WyldLife campers as a leader. – Winter weekend hasn’t happened yet, but I’m hoping to earn a spot leading in a cabin in February!
  8. Apply for YoungLife camp summer work crew. – I have yet to apply for YoungLife camp summer work crew, but I have been in discussion with my YoungLife leaders about doing so and they’re going to guide me through the process this semester!

Social Goals

  1. Make five new friends (or at least acquaintances). – Thanks to my chatty A.P. U.S. History class and lovely yearbook staff members this goal has been accomplished and surpassed!
  2. Do something really fun one weekend with a friend(s). – I attended Music Midtown (read the recap post here) in September with a couple of my friends and we had so much fun.  I will also be traveling to Charleston with a couple close friends in a couple weeks for a girls weekend to celebrate one of my best friends’ birthday!

Blog Goals

  1. Post at least twice a week every week. – With the exception of two weeks, I have kept this goal up pretty well!  I always posted at least once each week, but there were those two weeks that I just felt overwhelmed by writing another post along with my schoolwork and extracurriculars.
  2. Reach 20,000 total site views for 2017. – This goal was reached and surpassed, thanks to you all!
  3. Collaborate with a big brand. – Since the beginning of the school year I’ve collaborated with several small brands and spent another semester as a Jadelynn Brooke high school ambassador, but have yet to collaborate with another big brand.
  4. Host at least three giveaways. – So far I’ve already hosted two giveaways over on my Instagram, so I’d say this goal is going pretty well!  Stay tuned for another exciting giveaway coming soon!

Thanks for reading!  Here’s to accomplishing more goals in second semester.

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5 Essentials for a Smooth School Year

     As a junior in high school, I think I’ve finally found a few things that help me not only get through the school year, but get through it successfully.  In today’s Back to School post, I’m sharing five essentials for a smooth school year!  These are items I practically live by during the school year and would definitely recommend to anyone looking to become more organized or productive this year.  This is the eighth blog post in my Back to School series this year, so be sure to check out the rest here if you like what you read.  Enjoy!

#1: A Planner

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     Planners have been absolute lifesavers for me.  I’m currently using my fifth one and I love it so so much.  I use my agenda to jot down homework assignments, remind myself of due dates, schedule blog posts, make plans to hang out with friends, mark volunteering dates, and more.  I actually wrote a whole post on how I organize my agenda, read it here!  I used to use Lilly Pulitzer agendas, which are amazing, but I now use a Kate Spade agenda simply because I currently like the simple design better than Lilly’s brightly printed pages.  I’ve also heard really good things about the Day Designer agendas, which help you map out basically every hour of your day.

#2: A Quizlet Account

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     I would have failed tons of vocabulary quizzes and Spanish tests had I not discovered the Quizlet program as a seventh grader!  This free website and app allows you to create digital flashcards (complete with pictures and diagrams) and offers a variety of ways to study the terms and definitions.  My personal favorite method of quickly memorizing vocabulary words is to create a Quizlet set and play “Write.”  I also love how this website has its own app, so if you’re on a car trip, waiting for a friend, eating a snack, or doing literally anything else with a smart phone in your hand you can study!  I still love old fashioned flash cards, but you can’t lose a term in a Quizlet set like you can accidentally lose one flash card.  Sign up for Quizlet here!

#3: A Homework Folder

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     Up until this year I refused to keep paper assignments anywhere aside from the respective class’ binder.  This method required me to go home with a completely full backpack and an armful of books and binders everyday, and I was tired of it.  This year I decided to try out a magnetic closure envelope folder and I’ve loved keeping all of my homework in it!  It’s super convenient and since it’s so thin it easily fits into the laptop sleeve in my backpack along with my laptop.  Mine is a really pretty rose gold folder from Office Depot and I was unable to find it online, but I found a similar folder in a neat iridescent white color on Office Depot’s website!  Find it here.

#4: Highlighters

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     I was never much of a highlighter type of gal (mostly because I often end up highlighting half the page) until this school year.  My AP U.S. History teacher constantly assigns readings to highlight for homework and I’ve found that searching for the important pieces of a reading to highlight as you skim the text is a much more productive method of getting through a reading assignment than being bored and thinking about something else as you read every last word (what I used to do).  My favorite highlighters are nothing fancy, just the bigger Sharpie chisel tip highlighters.  Find them online here!

#5: Sticky Notes

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     Sticky notes are something I rarely used for anything besides doodling until I got to high school but boy have they been helpful since!  I use sticky notes to stick on my wall to remind myself of assignments (then I take sticky notes off the wall as I finish each task, super motivating!), to stick on my mirror to remind me to bring things to school, to stick on textbook pages so I remember the information is important, and the list goes on.  You’re probably well aware that the Post-it brand makes a variety of sticky note shapes and sizes, you can find my favorite options pictured and linked above!  I love the little flags for marking pages in my agenda and AP workbooks, the regular size for sticking memos around my room, and the 3in x 3in squares for writing notes in my novels for AP Language!

Thanks for reading!  I know most of these items are things you might already use, but hopefully this post has given you ideas on different ways to use them for more productivity!

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25 Motivational Quotes for the School Year

    Until the end of September, Tuesdays are Back to School post days, so I bet you can’t guess what today’s post is (haha)!  If you’ve missed any of my other Back to School posts this year (I’ve already written six excluding this one), you can find them all, as well as my Back to School posts from previous years, here!  Today’s post is a list I’ve compiled of twenty-five motivational quotes that I take to heart and think will inspire you this school year!  I’ve wanted to write a post like this for quite some time and I’m so glad I finally got around to it.  Enjoy!

1. “She believed she could, so she did.” – R.S. Grey

2. “One day or day one. You decide.” – Unknown

3. “She remembered who she was and the game changed.” – Lalah Delia

4. “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.” – Jennifer Lee

5. “Mistakes are proof that you are trying.” – Unknown

6. “Everything is hard before it’s easy.” – J.W. Von Goethe

7. “Fortune favors the bold.” – Virgil

8. “Reach for the moon.  Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Les Brown

9. “Don’t call it a dream, call it a plan.” – Unknown

10. “Remember, the moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you claim the power to change anything in your life.” – Hal Elrod

11. “Whatever you are, be a good one.” – William Makepeace Thackeray

12. “Good things come to those who hustle.” – Unknown

13. “Opportunities don’t always just happen, you have to create them.” – Chinese Proverb

14. “She turned her can’ts into cans and her dreams into plans.” – Kobi Yamada

15. “If you stumble, make it part of the dance.” – Unknown

16. “Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.” – Michael Jordan

17. “Sometimes you just have to take the leap and build your wings on the way down.” – Kobi Yamada

18. “When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better.  You accept criticism and listen.” – Jennifer Lee

19. “Stop watering dead flowers, give life to new blooms.” – Unknown

20. “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.” – Theodore Roosevelt

21. “Work hard in silence.  Let your success be the noise.” – Frank Ocean

22. “Life is always rocky when you’re a gem.” – Unknown

23. “Love the life you have while you create the life of your dreams.  Don’t think you have to choose one over the other.” – Hal Elrod

24. “Follow your dreams.  They know the way.” – Kobi Yamada

25. “You didn’t wake up today to be mediocre.” – Unknown

Thanks for reading!  I hope you stay inspired this school year!

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My Goals for the 2017-2018 School Year

     Happy Tuesday!  Today, as I have been every Tuesday since the beginning of August, I’m sharing another Back to School post!  If you haven’t read my other Back to School posts, you can read them all, from this year and years’ past, here!  This post is all about my goals for this school year, my junior year of high school; academically, athletically, spiritually, socially, and for my blog.  I personally find making goals to be very beneficial because even if they aren’t accomplished, they give me something to work towards.  Posting them here will somewhat hold me accountable for them, so I’ll try to share my progress after first semester and at the end of the school year!  I hope reading my goals will inspire you to come up with a few for yourself.  Enjoy!

Academic Goals

  1. Complete the school year with all A’s and B’s.
  2. Be somewhat successful in A.P. Environmental Science (Science isn’t really my best subject.  It’s not that I’m really bad at it, I just typically don’t perform as well in that subject as I do in my other classes).
  3. Get a 100 on a test.
  4. Make 4’s and 5’s on my three A.P. exams at the end of the year.

Athletic Goals

  1. Attend as many preseason lacrosse practices as possible.
  2. Work out more.
  3. Play more in lacrosse games than I did last year.
  4. Make the varsity lacrosse team again.
  5. Score a goal during a varsity lacrosse game.

Spiritual Goals

  1. Make lots of new middle school friends as a WyldLife leader.
  2. Go to YoungLife club every week that I possibly can.
  3. Feel refreshed after fall weekend at Windy Gap (a YoungLife camp in North Carolina).
  4. Read the Bible daily.
  5. Pray more often.
  6. Use my devotional daily.
  7. Go to winter weekend with WyldLife campers as a leader.
  8. Apply for YoungLife camp summer work crew.

Social Goals

  1. Make five new friends (or at least acquaintances).
  2. Do something really fun one weekend with a friend(s).

Blog Goals

  1. Post at least twice a week every week.
  2. Reach 20,000 total site views for 2017.
  3. Collaborate with a big brand.
  4. Host at least three giveaways.

Thanks for reading!  If my post inspires you to write your own blog post about your goals for the school year, I’d love it if you’d link my blog so I’ll get notified and can go check it out!

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My High School Survival Guide

     It seemed like every time I did a livestream (follow my Instagram here) this summer I’d get a request to write a blog post along the lines of “How to Overcome Fears Going into High School” or “How to Make Friends in High School.”  So, today that’s exactly what I’m doing!  I guess you could say this post is sort of a survival guide for the beginning of high school.  If you’re a freshman in high school or just a high school student in general, I think this post might help you out a little!  I know I was all kinds of scared starting my freshman year of high school (I was nervous starting my junior year too though, who am I kidding), and I want to do everything I can to help prevent you from feeling the same way.  I’ve divided the post into a few general topics that I felt should be touched on.  If you’re interested in reading my other Back to School posts, find them all here!  I’m posting a new Back to School post every Tuesday through the end of September, so be sure to come back next Tuesday for another.  Without further adieu, let’s get started!

Balancing School and Social Life

     I was really stressed going into high school that my classes would all be insanely hard.  I’m not going to lie, some of them are, but freshman year wasn’t especially difficult and it’s a really good transition year from middle school to high school.  Work hard freshman year because it won’t be that easy to make that good of grades later on (hear me now, believe me later).  However, don’t drown yourself in your studies.  Like I said, it’ll be harder to make good grades later, so take advantage of the free time you still have and participate in all the high school events you can.  Freshman year I was in the choir, helped build my class’ homecoming float (our town has a parade and each class has a themed float constructed by that class), went to a ton of our home football games, participated in a few school clubs, was involved in YoungLife, supported my friends in their sport’s events, and played lacrosse all while keeping As and Bs.  Juggling extracurriculars with academics can be challenging at times, but if you love everything you’re participating in it’s so worth it!

Making Friends

     If your school system is like mine, there are a few middle schools that feed into the high school you’re going to.  I was lucky in that the middle school I attended was the largest of the three that fed into my high school, but I still had several kids I didn’t recognize in each of my classes.  The easiest way to make friends is to be friendly.  I know it sounds dumb, but smiling at people in the halls and when you make eye contact in class, complimenting peers on their clothes, hair, and/or makeup, and being willing to lend a pencil to your classmate will make you appear a lot more approachable.  If you seem more approachable, you don’t always have to be the one approaching, which is nice if you’re not incredibly outgoing.  However, if you are pretty outgoing, you could be the one approaching too!  Sit down next to someone quiet that you don’t know and spark up a conversation.  Maybe tell them about how you just fell down the stairs on the way to class or spent five minutes trying to get your locker open.  Making people laugh and admitting your embarrassing stories upfront like that serves as an awesome ice breaker and keeps you from being presented as “perfect” and therefore less approachable.

Safe, Fun, and Legal Hangouts

     Hopefully your freshman year is like mine and you aren’t confronted with any risky circumstances just yet.  My favorite ways to hangout with my friends, old and new, include going out to dinner, spending a Saturday afternoon downtown, having them over to spend the night, and meeting up after school at a restaurant like Panera to review for a big test we both have to take.  All of those activities could be done as a pair or as a group!  There’s a group of girls in my grade that went out to dinner before every home football game (I was invited to tag along once) then carpooled to the game together and I think that’s such a fun idea!  As high school goes on you most likely will be presented with some tough situations, but surrounding yourself with people you want to be like will usually keep you in a good place.  If you aren’t interested in participating in drinking, drug use, etc. and surround yourself with like-minded people, you most likely won’t face any situations in which you feel pressured to do so.  If you’re a Christian and have YoungLife in your community I definitely recommend you go (I know I talk about YoungLife all the time, but I seriously can’t emphasize it enough).  Not only is club itself super fun, but the college-age leaders often go to football games, high school lunches, etc. and as you form relationships with them they’ll be there for you if you ever feel excluded because of your moral limits (if you’re interested in hearing more about why I love YoungLife so much you can read my post about it here!).

Dating

     I certainly wouldn’t call myself very experienced in this topic, but I did have a boyfriend for a few months during my freshman year.  My biggest piece of advice for dating in high school is to keep it in perspective.  Yes, I know the idea of going on dates and having someone to receive VSCO-worthy texts from (you know exactly what I’m talking about) may sound enticing, but not dating in high school isn’t the end of the world.  I’ve always kind of wanted to be in a relationship deep down, but within the past few months I’ve decided I don’t really need it.  I have a handful of nice friends that I love to spend time with, I have a full plate with my AP course load, blog, job, YoungLife, numerous clubs, and lacrosse, and I am loved by a God far more permanent and capable of loving deeply than any boy in high school.  Not to mention, high school relationships lasting past freshman year of college are incredibly rare, so I don’t feel like I’m really missing out on much.  If you do end up dating, please remember that you deserve their utmost respect and you don’t owe them a thing.  Again, this is high school, and your forever shouldn’t be based on what you’re willing to do right now.  I’m not trying to make dating sound bad, I have a few friends that are in very happy relationships, but I have twice as many who aren’t and are just as happy.

Thanks for reading!  If you found this post helpful, you might also want to check out the “My Advice For High School Freshmen” post that I wrote last year, linked here!

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