Summer Plans

Monday, May 22, 2017

Last year, I posted about how I was going to plan my summer with my kids so none of us went crazy. I stole the idea from my friend Lisa, and she didn't steer me wrong.  That past post has more details, but here's a quick sum:

This whole thing takes about ten minutes.  I start by brainstorming a bucket list of the activities we'd like to do, with input from Brad and the kids.  I also brainstorm a list of potential weekly themes.

Then I print out my summer calendar (just from my Mac), divvy up the themes, then plan some field trips that match the weekly theme, as well as some Saturday activities for our family that also match up.

Additionally, I also think about how I want to spend our days.  Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays will be devoted to more at-home stuff including "Mommy School," going to our local parks and library, and our afternoon lessons (soccer, gymnastics, swim, art), and Tuesday/Thursdays will be our adventure days!  I wrote a little schedule up for me, as well as a list for what "Mommy School" can entail, including mini-lessons that relate to the weekly themes.  With all of this sketched out, I feel like our summer will be more productive, fun, and interesting!

Here are our themes for this year:
San Francisco

Last thing: this is designed to be flexible.  Last year, I probably stuck to my plans about 60-80% of the time.  So my calendar served its purpose, in my mind!  We do better with a structure, but we also do well with some built-in wiggle room.  Each day, we can still mix in some ways to get outside, go exploring, and have some educational fun alongside of LOTS of free play for the kids.  Because what is summer without some lazy days and lots of popsicles?

Need some more ideas?  Other moms are sharing their summer plans with their kids.  You can sign up to participate in similar series on Kiana and Madeline's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Alexis at Witt Family Happenings // Erica at Good Job Momma

Celeste Davis: Owning Our Struggles

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

"Something I’ve really internalized is that it’s never to late to create the kind of life that you want, or to uncreate the life you’re not cool with . . . It’s never too late to enjoy your life, it’s never to late to feel like you have more control over something, even if it’s just as simple as changing the way you think about it."

By the age of 19, Celeste had already abandoned her modeling career and experienced the ending her first marriage.  After these low-lows, Celeste decided that instead of wallowing in her sorrows, she wanted to pick up her life, own her struggles, and move onward and upward.  And she did just that.

Celeste shares how owning her struggles helped her find the strength to forgive her ex AND herself through grace, and move forward to finding a new man who helped her learn to trust again.  This strength also pushed her through the hard times her life still brought, including her husband's battles with mental health and her own fight with postpartum depression.

Celeste's surprise cure to her depression?  She joined a beauty pageant.  (No one was more shocked about this move than herself!) You'll love hearing about how the pageant helped her regain her confidence, changed the way she viewed herself, and formed lifelong friendships, but it also taught her the great importance of finding something that was just for her and that provided that self-care she learned was necessary to being the woman she wants to be.

You'll also love to hear how Celeste found natural childbirth helped empower her, what helped her get through two back-to-back miscarriages, what she does for self-care, and the power of good girlfriends.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Celeste's Instagram
Podcast Episode with Matt Davis (Celeste's husband)
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Do Something Highlight: Shan'tel's Article and Blog
More on Do Something
Past Podcast mentioned with Matt Davis
More Podcasts

Jessica Dahlquist: Shifting Thinking towards Greater Fulfillment

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

“Realizing that I am in control of the life I want to live, really allowed me to be the happiest I can be because I’m doing the things that I truly LOVE in life.”

Jessica Dahlquist is the brains behind the Extraordinary Moms Podcast (which I can't recommend enough), but this is her first time being on the other side of the interview.  She does not disappoint!

Jessica talks about how her own transition to motherhood manifested an internal voice she didn't like, one riddled with anxiety and self-criticism.  With a lot of work, she learned the power of altering her expectations on herself and letting go of what others think.   Once she shifted the internal narrative behind her work as a mother and beyond, it changed everything and led to a greater happiness.

Whether or not you are a parent, Jessica teaches that once you've shifted your mentality to "I should . . ." to "I choose . . . " your life might look the same, but it will feel completely different.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Jessica's Podcast, Facebook, and Instagram
Free Audiobook through Audible! (Affiliate link)
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Do Something Highlight: Shan'tel's Article and Blog
More on Do Something
Past Podcast mentioned with Matt Davis
More Podcasts

My New Love for Dresses

Monday, May 8, 2017

Something weird is happening to me: I am loving dresses.

I've never been a huge dress gal.  I've had a few, but I've always favored jeans and t-shirts on weekdays and skirts/blouses for Sundays.  But the past few years, I've gradually collected more and more dresses and now that is what I primarily reach for on Sundays.  (Also, I'm wearing dresses on weekdays when it's HOT around here, because we don't have air conditioning. This is very new for me and making me so much happier, and (literally) cooler!)

For my casual dresses, I tend to do the opposite of form-fitting.  I like things as loose as possible.  But some Sundays, I reach for something like this dress from Harper and Bay--a dress that's a little more form-fitting, still comfy, but classic too.  And the color is a fun departure for me as well!

(Side note about this dress: Learn from me and never shop at 2 AM while you're nursing your baby . .   . I bought it (along with two others--face palm!) when the company was on Kickstarter and looking for dresses that I could nurse in, as my baby was a few months old.  This dress isn't being sold now, and I paid about half what it ended up going for.  To be honest, I'd love it a TON if the fabric hadn't immediately piled under that necklace, which I wore with it my first time. The fabric on this dress tended to get marked up easily.  Because of that, I've only worn it a few times since I basically have to style it the exact same each time.  I'm sure they've fixed things like that by now and I am tempted by a lot of the newer dresses. I still love this dress, though!  And I'd size up if you're thinking about the baseball dresses.  My Mediums fit like smalls.)   

You'll be seeing me wear a lot of dresses the next few hot months, and I'll be sure to share the good ones when I do!  I'm also going to make some because even those online boutique ones (where the same dresses are on different sites) are pricey and not well-made.  Looks like I made myself a goal!

Other ladies are sharing their Sunday outfits as of late--so check them out below!  And if you'd like to participate in this series, sign up either on Madeline or Kiana's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Alexis at Witt Family Happenings // Rachel at Tutus and Heels

Kayti Oldham || Finding Joy in the Real "You"

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Kayti Oldham is your best gal who always manages to bring the fun, willingly shares all her makeup knowledge, and makes you feel like a million bucks.

But Kayti's gifts don't start and end with her makeup artistry.  In today's podcast, we learn more about her past with the performing arts, how she learned from a young age to follow her passions, and how putting on red lipstick not only helped her through terrible post partum depression, but inspired her passion for makeup that led her to mission today.

And that mission?  To inspire women to love the face, body, soul they were gifted, encapsulated in Kayti's urging, "Be YOU!"

Kayti shares all this, and more including how her opinion can't be bought, what she has learned from her struggles with acne, how coming from a broken home inspired the tradition of laughter in her own, and so much more.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Kayti's Blog, Consultations, and Instagram
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
Lisa's Podcast Episode
More Podcasts
More on Do Something

Short Getaway to the Lone Star State

Monday, May 1, 2017

A lot of people were surprised that my husband and I's first vacation together in almost five years was to Texas.  I was just as surprised that they thought that was weird.  Texas is awesome!

I've been wanting to visit Texas for years and years, especially Austin, which draws me in because it's a small-big city full of weirdoes, hippies, and good food.

Before I share a mountain of photos, I just want to give a little shout out to getaways.  My parents have gone on annual vacations sans kids for as long as I can remember.  They've done big trips, but mostly small ones--where they drive around and hike a bunch.  A trip for me and Brad was long overdue--we put it off over and over.  Spending money on something like this is exceptionally difficult for Brad, so it took a bit of convincing.  But I made my case, including some good ticket prices and an affordable airbnb I discovered!  So once I bought the tickets and reserved the place there was no turning back!  By the time we were getting ready to go, I was freaking out over leaving our kids for five days, especially our youngest who is VERY very attached to me.  (He doesn't even make it one minute in nursery.)

But once we were in Texas and hearing about the kids having fun (thanks to our great babysitters and my parents, for splitting it up!), then we had a blast.  Brad and I learned that we're going to be jusssst fine when the kids leave in about 30 years.... As long as we keep cultivating our relationship, that is!  We decided at the end of this trip that it is going to be a top priority from now on for us to go on a little trip each year, even if that means we just drive two towns away for a day or so.  Our marriage is better for it, our kids are better for it, and that's the whole point.

So if you're thinking about going, worrying over the expense, or the kids--just do it.  We did this whole trip on a dime, and it was worth every hard-earned cent.

Now, on to some photos from our trip!  This isn't going to be a travelogue.  All I did was look on Pinterest a few days before we left and made a short list of things we could check out while in Austin, and we mostly planned as we went.  Our time in Dallas was to focus on our friends, so we didn't plan anything for there.

I LOVE Austin's skyline!

We got to our airbnb in the late afternoon on Thursday (in the Congress neighborhood!), but we still managed to walk 8 miles in a few hours, exploring murals, eating some truck food, and walking all over downtown.  We had the best donut of our lives (Gourdough's), only to try it again that night with much anticipation and then have the worst donut of our lives (it was like they dumped out a jar of syrup one the whole thing).

We mostly explored our hearts away!  Thank goodness for Smart phones--there wasn't much need to plan that far in advanced.  We didn't even know about the city bikes until we got there, and we ended up renting them our second day--that was a game changer!  (We didn't rent a car until our third day for our drive up to Dallas, which was a great money-saver.  We were really glad we hadn't rented one until then.)
Brad is wondering why on earth this mural is famous.  
We made it to the capitol at dusk.  SO gorgeous.  And giant.  Texas does things right.

The next day, we rode our bikes around the outdoor parks, explored the capitol, went all over UT's campus, ate Torchy's twice (tacos!), had ice cream from Amy's twice, and made it home by 7 PM, we were so wiped.  13 miles walked that day, and I don't know how many miles we biked!

I'm going for "tourist chic" here.

I bought this hat the first morning we were there, even though Brad was embarrassed I have to tuck my ears in.  Sorry, Brad--but, I'm not sorry.

The next morning, we drove all over Austin and beyond to see where the Friday Night Lights homes were filmed--Tim Riggin's, Coach's, and Matt's.  Then we went to the field and Brad jumped over the fence.  (All of those photos are on Brad's phone, and I'm too lazy to get them.)

On to Waco!  We didn't map out where to go exactly ahead of time, so we drove mostly around Woodway and ogled at giant houses.  (Also, got the best sandwiches of our lives there!  Not kidding.)  After we went to the Silos on one of the most crowded days of the year (still worth it, and I bought earrings!), we tried to see houses in Waco but we could only find neighborhoods that were literally on the wrong side of the tracks, and looked it.  We also saw Baylor University!  So pretty there!  Then we drove the rest of the way north of Dallas and hung out with our friends, the Fujikawas for a few days.

The Fujikawas are always the best hosts--we've stayed with them at each home they've lived the past ten years (except two--they've moved a lot!), including Italy!  They are handling their three-kids-under-two-years like champs and we SO enjoyed cuddling their babies and playing with their toddler.  We had too much fun and didn't take out our cameras at all, until the last few hours when we went to the JFK museum downtown, a gift shop, and then hit up The Shake Shack before flying home.

Texas, I love you.  Thank you for being worth the wait!

Things I Want to Remember, Round 7

Friday, April 28, 2017

Here's the latest round of things I want to remember about my kids!

* This girl has been such a trooper the past month.  After our spring break in Utah, she really struggled getting back in the swing of school.  So I took another week off for her, which was mostly spent going to little dr. appointments.  She's back to school this week and doing well!
* Bella has had so many tummy problems throughout her life, on top of other things.  We did dairy, soy, and nut free while she was an infant, but gradually re-introduced those things and she seemed to be fine.  But we're thinking that gluten is a problem for her so we tried a gluten-free diet.  Despite a really sad episode over a blueberry muffin she couldn't eat, she was so good about asking if things were gluten-free!  And sadly, we had a dr. tell us she actually has to eat gluten for two months before a certain test, so we're back on it.  But at least we know she can handle it!

*RG celebrated his 4th birthday on Monday!  He was definitely crazy throughout the day, but he rallied at night for his requested strawberry cake and presents.  He was so, so happy with the attention and kept saying, "Mom, I'm so lucky I'm turning 4!"
*He'll give me kisses right on the lips one day, and the next say, "I don't like kisses."  He cracks me up.
*RG is starting to really be sweet to his little brother.  But it's usually with him still bopping Bean on the head as much as he can; still, it's a huge improvement and I'm proud of him for taking his big brother responsibility more seriously.
*It's so interesting what RG is afraid of: some bugs, the dark, heights, and other things.  He's a pretty active kid and stereotypical boy in many ways, but he gets really scared over those things.

*I love how tightly this kid insists on holding my hand and that he still likes me to be right by him as much as possible.  I'll take it!
*Bean is starting to be an independent toddler too though, and has been getting very frustrated when we can't understand what he wants, or when his siblings won't let him be.  He's so sweet though, that we all can handle the growling/screeching fairly well.  It's just a phase!
*He is looking like SUCH a big boy lately.  His clothes are already looking too small for him and he's gotten so tall.  I love his almond eyes and his sweet lips.  He's a little engineer and loves building things and taking things apart.  He loves to study what's happening around him, including how I clip him in to things.  Bean can already do those things himself!

Technology: How to Use It, Not Abuse It

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How do you want your loved ones to remember you?  Your face illuminated by the light of a screen?

Of course not.  None of us do.

But we are ALL guilty of letting our devices distract us from what is most important.  If you've struggled from time to time with balancing your technology use, if you often feel sad, jealous, lonely, or apathetic, and if your devices are acting more as a task master than a tool, then it's time to refocus.

In today's podcast, two guests (Kim Christenson and Jamie Cook) and I share how to recognize when your technology use is out of control, and how to turn it back into a tool for your good.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Kim Christenson's referenced blogpost,  Instagram, and Podcast interview
Jamie Cook's Instagram and Podcast interview
Meg Mile's Instagram and past About Progress Podcast interview
Irresistible Podcast on Fresh Air
Irresistible Book
Simon Sinek's interview on Millennial and Internet Addiction
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts

Me Time

Monday, April 24, 2017

When I became a mother almost six years ago, I quickly learned that I give best and feel happiest when I have taken a little time for myself.

When I just had my first baby, that meant I would read a lot during nap time and go on runs with my daughter in the running stroller.  Since adding two more children, we are busier than ever--but, I hear it gets even busier!  (This stressed me out if I think about it for more than 10 seconds . . . )

During this phase of my mothering, here are my favorite ways to incorporate some "Me Time" so I am recharged and ready to take on the next potty accident and mop up another cup of spilled milk without crying myself:

 1) Exercise: I'm sure most people can say what a release exercise is, and I'm no different. I've always run with my kids, but this past year I learned that I prefer getting my exercise done before they get up for the day.  It was becoming more stressful to fit in my time to workout, due to all the logistics as well as the constant interruptions.  (I know people love the gym daycare, but I am too cheap and paranoid for that.)

I am not a morning person by nature.  But I have slowly trained myself to wake up between 5:20-30 AM most days, or even 6:15 when I sleep in.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I've started to wake up right before my alarm goes off.  (Not every day, but this is still major for me!)

Now I can't run as much, so I've stepped up my strength training and my exercise classes.  I still jog 1-2 times a week outside with two of the kids in tow, but only when I've had a really late the night before.

This isn't going to become a fitness blog, but working out the literally the ONLY time I have to myself.  I love to think, listen to podcasts, watch HGTV, or even cry during a hard spin class because it's so cathartic.  Thank goodness it's dark in there!

PS: I NEVER owned actual "workout clothes," until after my last baby.  I told myself that I deserved some legitimate clothes that pushed me to get going.  It's made such a big difference in both my motivation and my confidence.  Fabletics will always have my heart. SUCH great pieces at very affordable prices. (No one is paying me to say this, I love them that much! However, that link does give me points which I always seem to forget to use . . . )

2) Listen to Podcasts/Audio Books: Even when my kids are around and I'm slaving away doing the house chores, if I can pop in my earbuds and listen to a good podcast or book, then I'm tricking myself into some "me time."  Same goes with watching shows while organizing things around my computer--which is in the corner of my kitchen!

3) Passion Projects: We all need to get out some creativity.  If you don't think you're creative, please believe me--you are!  We all have something that we can pursue that acts as an outlet too.  What's mine?  This blog and my podcast.  They require the hours of a part-time job, pay me nothing, but they give me something tangible to show for those days where all the kids did was whine, fight, and disobey.  And these passion projects are not life-or-death either, so they can also be happily ignored if everyone is having a bad day OR such a good day that blogposts and podcasts can wait.  My family's (and my own!) well-being comes ahead of these, but when I can produce things while they're sleeping or doing quiet time, then it makes a difference to my psyche and the kids get a happier mom, too.

What about you?  How do you sneak in some "me time," regardless of your family's situation?

Other moms are sharing too!  Please check them out below.  And if you'd like to participate in the next series, sign up on Madeline or Kiana's blogs.

Kiana at Glitter&Donuts // Madeline at CaseyLand
Rachel at Tutus and Heels // Rose at Babies & Bluejeans
Melissa at The Frolics of Mama Llama // Britt at My Little Sunshine

Amy Nash || Daring to Try

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

“I think that it’s so important to make that effort to try and not to worry so much about the result . . . The real satisfaction comes in the effort, not the outcome.”

You know my "Do Something" campaign, where I encourage people to try things that scare them?  That is Amy Nash's entire life story.

This woman has done so many incredible things that required courage and testing her limits: she has traveled around the world (including with kids!), graduated from law school, worked at a big firm, learned photography, and started a blog that will make you drool.

She's also had to deal with five failed adoptions among other though times that taught her to rely on her connections--family and friends--and power through with her optimism in tact.

Amy's sense of adventure has acted as the foundation for her life--and the foundation of her family--while her go-getter attitude has been coupled with a conscientious choice that what matters more than the destination is the path that got you there.

You can listen to this podcast below, or on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Pocketcasts, Googleplay, or search for "About Progress" wherever you get your podcasts.  If you like the show, please subscribe!!

Show Notes:
Amy's blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest
Monica's Facebook and Instagram
Contact Monica
More Podcasts
More on Do Something

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