Wednesday, December 26

Silent Night


Silent night, holy night
All is calm, all is bright
'Round yon virgin Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace.

- Silent Night by Franz Gruber


     I hope you've had a beautiful Christmas! These photos are probably my most prized possessions in the entire world at this moment.haha! It was just such an unexpected turn of events that led to us being able to do this with the kids, and they were just in heaven all dressed up and proudly posing in their roles for the Nativity scene for us as we took these. 
     I don't share very often about my religious beliefs as a personal preference, but here's a bit of background: I was raised in a Christian household where we were taught to not write letters to Santa and think about the gifts we would be getting, etc, but instead about how we could help others and serve around Christmas, as the Savior did. Part of my late husband Martin and my efforts of having a Christ-centered Christmas was to spend our Decembers delivering pieces of the nativity scene in secret to other families with our few little babies in tow, taking treats and sending out cards to loved ones, performing daily good deeds and random acts of kindness for strangers and the community, etc, and we always read through the chapters in The Bible about the birth of Jesus Christ. The last time we did it before he passed away the kids were 4, 3, 2, 1, (and Evie was half-baked.haha) so while we put in a good effort to act it out, we really looked forward to the years when our children would be old enough to dress up in little homemade costumes and really play the parts to get into the spirit of the season like so many other families love to do. 

     Well this year we finally got to do it like that, and I know Marty was proud:) It was sweeter than I ever thought it could be, and having these photos to remember it mean so much to be! Long story short, I mentioned the above story to a dear friend and expressed regret that I'd not been able to do it yet. She encouraged me to not only make it happen this year but to reach out to another mutual friend of ours who puts on a big nativity production on her property every year, and ask to borrow her stable! Because I mean, isn't it the coolest?! And Evie's face in this next one especially. haha

     All in all, the kids started cheering and jumping up and down when I told them we were going to dress them up and that they were going to get to be in a real stable with a manger and hay and everything, and their excitement was palpable as we got ready quickly and tried to get through everything before it was too dark to see. It was such a wonderful experience for us that we'll remember always, and I just can't get over how darn adorable they are:)

      For the record, that's Evie and Alice as little humble shepherds on the left, John was pretty excited that he was a shoe-in for Joseph, Lydia is the beautiful wise-woman on the right, Ellie wanted to be an angel with a flowy white dress, and Sophie jumped at the chance to be Mary and hold the 'baby Jesus', which -fun fact- is a baby doll named Benjamin my parents gave to me when I was about 5 years old.

     Anyways, thank you so much for being here and for reading this through, and I hope you've enjoyed this post as well as all the other posts lately! I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts more and more, and once again I just hope that you have some peace and stillness in your heart this season and happiness in your home!

     Merry Christmas,

Tuesday, December 25

We wish you a merry christmas

May the simple joys of Christmas warm your heart, fill your home, and last a lifetime. ♡

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Wearing: My dress is from The Shine Project by Ashley Lamieux - Richard's suit and shoes are from Mr Mac, John's suit is from Macy's, all of the girls dresses and the kids shoes are from Target, and yes I'm wearing my converse:)

     We've been spending our Christmas with some of my family making lots of soups and treats, playing outside, singing hymns, gifting throughout the day, coloring, nail painting, hair braiding, and overall just feeling so calm and at peace. No really! haha It's been a beautiful day here, and we've also been able to celebrate little Alice a bit reaching her 10 month mark! We can hardly believe she's so grown up already, but then again, all the kids are growing and changing so much don't you think?!

     Well, I hope you've  have a fun rest of your week planned, and that you've been able to spend a little time either with your favorite people or doing your favorite activity, or eating your favorite things!

     From our whole family, we love and SO appreciate and wish the very best for every single one of you!

Friday, December 21

Cold weather days call for fun Family Activities

No comments:

     Today's post is a fun one and a pretty quick read, and it includes a 
kinda fascinating experiment that the kids and I did together!
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     Thanks so much for being here! For those that don't know, I'm 27-years-old and my 6 kiddies are 8, 7, 6, 5, 3, and 8 months. Life is always moving fast and a little upside-down and backward too for sure, but every day that I'm faced with new hurdles to get over, I am also hitting milestones with my gang that I treasure so much, so it all evens out! That being said, there are so many things we use every day that can either make our mothering easier or harder depending on how well they work for us. I've been through a whole lot of products in my years as a mom of 6 and I love sharing my favorites with you guys, so I'm happy to be partnering with Pampers Pure again (as a die-hard fan and member of the #puretribe) to show why they rock in a fun little experiment by the kids!

          First, a little back-story:
     For the last year or so, the older girls have been asking to do everything with me all day long, and it's truly been SO sweet. There are days when I need quiet and time to focus for sure, but I love teaching them and learning from them simultaneously, and when they ask questions that I don't know the answer to, it's really fun to figure it out together as a team. This is one of the bitter-sweet milestones; having them really talk about growing up and chasing dreams and having families

     Today's post comes from a conversation the other day when I was teaching Ellie about diaper changing. She asked why we use only Pampers Pure diapers and wipes over all the other kinds of diapers. I explained to her that they were extra soft and made with simple and pure materials that were gentle on the baby's bums, and that they didn't have lots of potentially dangerous ingredients. I also talked about blowouts and how other diapers don't protect as well from leaking, and how the Pampers Pure diapers absorb really well. She asked why anyone would want to put the other 'bad' diapers on their kid's bums instead of using Pampers, and I had to laugh a little at such a cute question. I had to just explain how we all do the best we can as parents with the information we have, which is why we love to talk about good things as often as we can! 

     There was a lot more to our conversation, but in the end, we were excited to try a fun experiment of sorts on a couple diapers with all the other kids who wanted to participate too, and I'm excited to share how it went down!

      Setting it up:
- We started out by getting a diaper from another popular company in the 'clean' category in the same size as Evie is wearing in Pampers.
- We filled two identical cups with water and used a little blue food coloring to help us better watch what happened.
- We took the two diapers (one from Pampers Pure and one from the other company) and opened them up next to each other, being careful to treat them the same.

     Now for the fun part:
While John and Lydia help the two diapers open, Ellie and Sophie slowly poured the blue water onto both of the diapers at the same rate, and then I stepped in after a minute or two to do the last step! Placing a folded paper towel over both diapers, I pressed my hands down (pretty hard actually) onto both diapers equally for a few seconds, and that was it!

     Our whole family crowded around the table to see what had happened, and I was actually surprised at exactly how much more the Pampers diaper had locked away. As soon as I started pressing on them, the competing diaper immediately soaked the paper towel (you can see my very blue handprint on the left diaper above), while the Pampers diaper on the right barely let out a couple drops! You can see the indents of my hands from the pressure, and yet, almost no blue at all:)

     "WE WON!" John shouted jumping off his chair, and we all laughed.
Each kiddo wanted to take a turn pressing on the paper towels to see if the results would change, and then Sophie pointed out that while the competing diaper was very blue, that there was a kind of white layer inside the Pampers diaper over top the blue water that would seem to protect the baby's bum better than the other one. I also thought it was really neat that while the Pampers diaper didn't seem to swell more than a very slight amount after absorbing the water, the other diaper had swelled up to nearly tripled it's height, even with the water that the paper towels had taken out!

     All in all, we really did 'win' by choosing Pampers Pure with no compromising! hahaha 

     The kids are making lists of other little inside activities and experiments that they want to do together, and I'd love to hear your thoughts not only on the little test (and/or if you use and love Pampers Pure), but what other activities you love doing this time of year with or without your family? Thanks in advance!


Monday, December 17

14 tricks to keep you motivated and productive


 My list of simple ideas for things to add to your morning routine and incorporate throughout your 
day to keep you feeling productive and motivated until your head hits the pillow at night.

WEARING:  Sweatshirt  ||  Jeans  ||  Alice’s Onesie

This post was sponsored by Nature’s Way. Thank you for supporting the
companies that partner with The Freckled Fox blog and make it possible!

Thank you for being here!
      Something that I’ve always struggled with in the past was finding the drive within to keep myself motivated. These days I certainly still have times when I can feel the heavy weight of issues or stress and I just have to let go of my expectations of getting anything done(which is totally okay and healthy sometimes), I do wonder myself how I get so much done in a day with all the obstacles I work around.haha 
      One of the most asked questions I see on my blog and social media are variations of “How do you do it all!?” oftentimes paired with: “and with 6 kids and your grief journey and owning your own business?!” Now while this is extremely flattering and generous, I also am always left feeling both partially sad and excited to hear and read these questions. 

      I feel sad immediately because I know this person asking me is comparing a few clean photos of my family life to her every-day struggle and hustle and wondering what she’s doing wrong. She’s thinking that I actually DO have it all together (which hasn’t really been accurate since right before my late husband was diagnosed with Cancer), and that so many other moms/women do too while she struggles. She’s wondering if she’ll ever feel like she has control of her life any more and if any of it is worth it. She’s disappointed that she can’t seem to accomplish anything beyond keeping her kids alive every day and wondering if that’s okay. 

      Those are reasons I feel sad, but then as I said I also feel excitement, and also gratitude when I read these different women's words, because I have the opportunity to set the record straight for them...for her. I’m picturing someone in particular right now:) I get to take that moment of her frustration and self-doubt and build her up a bit, and it makes me so happy. I get to tell her that we are so much more alike than she may realize. ALL OF US. That we both undoubtedly have large heaps of laundry piled in our rooms and dishes spilling out of the sink onto the counter, etc. I get to tell her that she is so loved and so powerful and beautiful and good. I get tell her that nobody has it all together, and then I usually end up sharing a few things that I’ve picked up over the years through trial and error that really do make a massive difference. They help me keep energized and productive and they keep me feeling motivated throughout the day, and I’m so excited to be sharing my favorites with you today!!

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Disclaimer: all of these tricks are things that I’ve learned through trial and error over the last 15 years or so, and they have worked massively 
well for me, that being said they are by no means meant to be a one-size-fits-all solution to productivity. Just keep in mind that while I believe these 
are general and can apply to most situations to those reading, everyone is different and will have differing preferences. Etc. Thank you!
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14 Tricks to Help Keep You Motivated and Productive

Number 1: 
Focus on today, and only today.
Living with intention is something that I’ve worked hard at over the last year especially, and to me it is mainly about living on purpose. Focusing on the present moment, being aware of what is around us, of the season of life that we are in, and taking responsibility for our life and our choices. A big part of that as well is living in the moment, being aware of the moment that we are in. If our minds are in the past or the future, we are not truly able to live and achieve and succeed in the present. Does that make sense? If your main goal is to plow through your checklist efficiently and have the energy and clarity of mind to do it, the first thing you have to do is to create tunnel vision for today, so to speak:) Try to put any past worries or issues out of your mind, and don’t let yourself get distracted by trying to plan or purchase or schedule for the future. Today is all we have! Make friends with the day and enjoy it as much as you can.

Number 2: 
When you’re waking up, don’t hit the snooze button.
Don’t do it. As I tried to cover in my disclaimer, everyone is different for sure, but, I’ve talked to SO many people who have had the same experience that I have had where my one or two snooze allowances that I set for myself always turn into 4-5, and then I’m running late! Running late sets a tone for the rest of your day, and you’ll be so much less effective if you’re stressed and anxious and trying to play catch-up. Not to mention how poorly it can affect your mood, how you interact with other people, how you speak to yourself, and so on. Just simply set your alarm to a little before you need to sit up and get going so you have a minute to wake up your senses. Before you go to sleep you should make your peace with how much or how little sleep you’re going to get that night (for whatever reason) and let yourself sleep till you need/want to get up.

Number 3: 
List your goals and be your own cheerleader (aka manifestation and affirmations)
I’ve learned from experience that if I want to have the most productive day possible, then I need to take a minute to plan my day realistically and list my most important goals. I like making a cup of herbal tea or hot chocolate and sitting down once the older kids are off at school and the house is quieter, and I pull out my journal. Not only do I write out a checklist of to-dos, but I also use this opportunity to write down some things that I’m proud of and list some affirmations for myself. Little bits of encouragement can go such a long way, and those things may serve as your inner voice all day long instead of worries about failure to achieve.

Number 4: 
Give your body and mind some extra love and support 
Ever since training for my fitness competition (I competed in NPC after Lydia was born, about 5 years ago) and getting used to taking vitamins on a regular basis, I feel SUCH a difference in the way my brain and body function when I forget to take them. I don’t take quite as many now as I used to, but a few that I never leave out of my daily routine are some favorites from Nature’s Way. My best friend is the Ginkgold Max for mental sharpness, which helps me SO much with concentration and focus and with staying on task.* It also protects against free radicals and helps support memory and healthy blood circulation.* 
I also really love the results I get from taking  Ashwagandha, also from Nature’s Way. It’s really an incredibly beneficial herb that has all sorts of benefits for overall wellness, but primarily it’s classified as an “adaptogen” meaning that it can help reduce and manage stress, and it’s made such a big difference for me in a lot of ways! I recommend it to everyone.
Number 5: 
Drink drink drink...water:)
I’m gonna take a little guess that you reading this right now don’t always drink your minimum 8 glasses of water every day...because I know I don’t most of the time! I believe most of us live daily in early to mid stages of dehydration without really knowing it. There are so many symptoms of dehydration that we deal with so frequently that we think of as just a normal part of adult life, symptoms like fatigue and headaches, dry skin and mouth, dizziness and lightheadedness, being overly tired or sleepy, low blood pressure, lethargy, lack of motivation, nausea, etc.  and we don’t go to water as a solution immediately. During my bikini competition (granted it was when I was exercising 5-6 days a week), I drank about one ounce per pound that I weighed. So weighing roughly between 130-145lbs I was shooting for about a gallon of water a day, and I have never felt more clear headed and naturally energized in my whole life! I LOVE the way my body and mind feel when I’m drinking seemingly excessive amounts of water.haha There is such a stronger clarity to everything I see and hear, and, so start drinking more water right now because you deserve it:)

Number 6: 
Ground and center yourself. 
This is another part of my morning routine that is a game changer for me emotionally and mentally, but I never ever just jump out of bed if I can help it. I take a minute to take some deep breaths as I move to the side of my bed and sit up tall and straight before standing up. At that moment I stop and close my eyes, taking 3-5 long deep breaths as I spread my toes and flatten my feet on the floor. This is my way of grounding’ my body and my spirit, which is telling myself that I am safe and secure and that I can thrive today.  

Number 7: 
Stretch throughout the day.
My nightly and morning yoga routines are basically just stretching flows, following where it hurts so good to stretch my muscles and test my balance.haha And while you don’t have to have a nightly and morning routine (although I can’t recommend it enough!) You’d benefit from even a minimum of five quiet minutes of stretching. It feels good because it’s loosening your muscles and relieving muscle fatigue and stiffness that may have come from work or chores where you’ve been sitting long hours(editing photos and videos) or hunching over (dishes and laundry). Stretching for at least five minutes has also been proven to quickly relieve stress and anxiety, to improve your overall posture, to improve flexibility and agility while preventing injury, and it contributes to you feeling happier and more positive overall! Can’t beat that:)

Number 8: 
Listen to something inspirational.
Over the last few years, I’ve had to avoid music somewhat as a motivation tool since music has had a funny way of pulling me into certain pools of thought and in turn slowing me down with distractions. My solution was to listen to lighthearted shows while I worked like ‘The Office’ and ‘Parks and Rec’ while I worked, which helped my brain focus on only a few things instead of running wild. I also got into podcasts and audiobooks soon after, and there are so many awesome choices if you just google a bit! Some of my favorite inspirational authors right now are Brene Brown, Rachel Hollis, Anthony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, Eckhart Tolle, Glennon Doyle Melton, and Marie Kondo. A few favorite motivational podcasts are by Jenna Kutcher, Oprah Super Soul conversations, the Rise Podcast, Marvelous Moms, Women with Fire, and Rich Roll.

Number 9: 
Don’t keep your phone on your person.
This came about by accident (I started wearing yoga pants all the time and mine don’t have pockets :/ ), and then by my own butterfingers (accidentally dropping my phone or having it fall out of my stupidly shallow girl pockets), but I started just leaving my phone on the counter or table where it could charge and then I found myself wandering around the house doing chores and I’d most-often forget about it! I started to see such a steep incline in my general productivity when I didn’t have my phone in my pocket constantly buzzing with notifications and calls, etc, and my focus was broken SO much less from my current task.

Number 10: 
Make an over-the-top-detailed To-Do list... on paper.
Some people are list people and some just aren’t, so don’t feel badly if this doesn’t make sense to you, but for me and others like me, there is nothing so satisfying and motivating as when we get to scratch a line through or put a checkmark beside an actual task on an actual list, it’s the best isn’t it? I love lists and I love accomplishing things so I can cross them off those lists, but I could go hours doing things and still not get to scratch out one item. Here’s what I started doing that helped me SO much. I would check in with my list every hour or so (on a busy day) and even if I hadn’t gotten anything that I’d hoped I could get done, I would fill in things that took up my time anyways, and then cross them right off! No joke, I would come back to my list in the afternoon and had gotten maybe two things done that were written on it, so I started writing out the necessary things that had taken up my time, and all my discouragement just flew out the window. Sure, I hadn’t gotten that post finished or that call made, but I’d fed the baby and done 12 loads of laundry and talked to my mother, etc, which were all important for different reasons. Give it a try and see how you feel:)

Number 11: 
Take an exercise break.
This doesn’t have to be two hours hitting the weights with the meatheads at the gym, but any sort of physical activity that’ll bring up your heart rate for at even 20 minutes will help you reset and recharge you like you wouldn’t believe. Although I can’t deny the big differences I feel from a good hour and a half with weights or on the climbing wall, most of the time lately it’s just a walk in the neighborhood with the little girls and Diesel on a leash or a little jog in the garage on the treadmill. I don’t need to go into detail about the overall benefits of exercise breaks in general, but even if just for the happy endorphins alone, this is one of the best tricks!

Number 12: 
Flip on a motivational playlist.
You know the music I’m talking about. Not the stuff that makes you all lovesick or mopey, not the stuff that is screaming so loud that you ear-drums are pounding through your head and shaking up your brains, but any and every song that when it comes on makes you think things like ‘I can totally do this!’ ‘you’re so lucky to have what you have’ Today is going to be a great day.’ or how about ‘I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar!’ that’s a good one.haha You know, those songs that make you dance around a little and break out the embarrassing moves you only do at home. Those kinds of songs can shoot right through our souls and effect our minds in a really intense way. Choose wisely!

Number 13: 
Eat something healthy (aka fruits and vegetables, whole foods, etc)
This one really doesn’t need an explanation I’m sure, but I will say that most everyone reading this will probably agree that when you eat garbage, you feel like garbage, right? haha So if you’re on a mission to feel as energized and productive as possible, eating something loaded with nutrients and minerals, vitamins, etc, is going to help you do that while downing a 2 liter of dr pepper with a pint of ice cream and the rest of that pack of Oreos is going to halt you in your tracks. Moderation is all things, and in the end you know your body, but bottom line- go for some greens:)

Number 14: 
Breath, Trust, Relax, and Smile.
This list really hasn’t been in any order of importance or effectiveness necessarily, but I DO know this one needed to be at the end. Because yes, some days I feel like a powerhouse superwoman that can take on the world, but those days aren’t the majority even now, and it’s taken so much work and effort and tears and crazy determination to get to the point where I have any of those days at all. I’ve spent weeks and months at a time where I felt like a failure every single day, and I guess my point is that at the end of the day, please don’t beat yourself up for what you didn’t do, and look at what you DID do. Remember that failure is proof you’re trying, and that anyone who is successful at anything started out right where you are. They learned what didn’t work before learning what DID, so let your failures motivate you towards your goal by remembering that you’re simply eliminating paths that don’t work for you. Allow yourself time to take a break and de-stress when you feel overwhelmed or need to recharge. Even just a change of scenery and taking a little time for some deep breaths can help bring a fresh new perspective and valuable enlightenment. 

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     Well I have lots more I want to share on this topic, but I’d better wrap this up for today! If you want to have a ‘Part 2’ at some point just let me know:) All in all I really don’t have it all figured out, I don’t ‘have it all together’either, but I do feel that I’ve learned a heck of a lot in my life, and I love passing it on! So I hope that you feel encouraged a little bit and excited to take some or all of these tricks and REALLY use them to help motivate yourself, because I promise that you will see such a difference in what you’re able to accomplish! 
     So, never underestimate the impact that a few words of encouragement could mean to someone(and to yourself) and share a few of these tips (or the whole post!) as ways that they can start right now to get a little more out of their day! I hope you know how much I appreciate you being here and how much support it brings, and I hope you feel a bit more empowered to take on the day without fear or stress about all your to-do’s. Now I would truly would love to hear your thoughts on which word or two makes SUCH a difference to hear others say to you right now? 

        What is your favorite trick in here that you’re either just considering or already use in your daily life? Comment below!


*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.