Thursday, November 29

My top 10 tips for the best sleep ever

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 My go-to relaxation routine to help me achieve the best sleep ever, and a few alternate suggestions to help personalize it just for you!

Items Pictured: sportsbra  || shorts || yoga wheel || headphones || yoga mat

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Thanks for being here today!
With how crazy life can get, you guys have been asking for a long time how I manage to do all that I manage to do, and how I get enough sleep to do it. But through all the ups and downs with my sleeping routines and schedules over the summer, I wanted to make sure that I had found the perfect fool-proof nightly routine for the best quality of sleep before passing it onto you guys, and here it finally is.   

    I’m going to break these tips down to make them as simple as possible
because I can always go into more details down the road if needed. I do want to remind you briefly however that I've had more than enough craziness in my life during the last 10 years to ensure I never have a solid nights sleep again.haha So if these things can work for me than they're pretty likely to help you too!
I mean the obvious chaos that is our life from having 6 little ones between the ages of 8 and 8 months old, being a full-time mommy and also taking care of my late husband Martin during his cancer battle, working as the breadwinner (mostly through the night) during all that time, struggling emotional etc since then, and lastly I think just the pressures of the work I do online and the time spent trying to work/life balance can be so overwhelming.

There have been years where I couldn't rationalize sleep when I knew how behind I was, and my poor brain and body have been and still are constantly exhausted and overwrought, but that doesn’t stop me from always having to keep going and going all the time. The difference these days though is that I’ve been slowly working at implementing the perfect nightly routine until I’ve perfected it, and it’s completely turned my life around through getting proper rest. Sleep is probably number 1 in importance for our overall health and wellbeing, and a good night's sleep can make or break you, it really can. So quit messing around and let's get on with it!

    Here are my 10 best tips for the BEST SLEEP EVER.

       #1: Begin your wind-down with stretching/yoga and easy meditation.
Settle down for a bit of stillness and meditation, and some yoga/stretches. This is my absolute favorite part of the day. This is the first signal to my brain that I’m winding down. I love going onto the back porch as much as I can, but it’s been hit or miss with the weather lately. The leaves blowing around me though and Luna the cat joining me always make it a little more fun.haha
    I get some calm music playing and then just move slowly and flow with how my body tells me to. I twist a little this way and that, trying new positions from memory,  taking deep breaths and focusing on the here and now, on the movements of my body, on the strength I feel. This is the moment that you start to push out all of the garbage that tried to camp out in your brain today. All the negativity, all the frustrations and failures and burned soups and forgotten car keys. I push it all away as I concentrate on where my body touches the mat and imagine all that junk leaving me with each exhale. As I said, it’s become an essential part of my wind down and I like to drag it out when possible, but it doesn’t have to take more than a couple minutes if you’re strapped for time!

       #2: Clear your mind.
While I’m in the middle of my stretching I like to keep a pad nearby so I can start emptying my mind as I go. This is essential to write down any important things that come to mind in order to be able to push them out of my mind while I’m trying to clear it, and not worry about forgetting them. I just keep a little running bullet list, and I’ve found that when I don’t take the time for this that my mind will keep reminding me of them long after the lights go out, and I’ll be paranoid about forgetting until the lights have to come back on again so I can write it down. Trust me, get it out of the way as soon as you can.haha

       #3: Hydrate and ensure a deep sleep.
Next, I like to drink a little warm herbal tea (especially in the fall and winter) or a big glass of water and I take my evening medications along with my favorite herbal product to support restful sleep called Silent Night. It’s by Nature’s Way, and after years of trying different things to help me sleep better, I really love that this has such a calming and almost smooth way of slowing the world down and just helping you relax and prepare you for a solid night's sleep.

       #4: Tidy up and put away.
Next, I move onto ‘buttoning up the house’ a bit. This is a fun term that my late husband Martin started using early in our marriage and it just stuck. I’m not talking about anything too OCD, but just putting away any last perishables on the counters, starting the dishwasher, making sure the kids lunches are ready for the next day, locking the doors, arming the alarm system, turning off the basement lights, blowing out any candles, checking on the kids one last time and tucking them in, etc. It’s a simple ritual, but effective and smart as well. It’s a really important (but often overlooked) part of helping your mind relax for sleep.

       #5: Plan for the next day.
Once moving into the bedroom we usually end up talking about the kids and funny things they said or did that day, ways we can improve and teach differently, activities we want to take them on and such while we change and brush our teeth, etc. Sometimes we watch a little of a favorite show together (though we’re trying to cut that out altogether eventually). We also look at our calendars a bit and compare notes about doctors visits, hair appointments, school performances, etc, just to get on the same page, and it really sets us up for success the next day.

       #6: Hair and skincare regimen.
This is more part of my nightly routine then something that really helps to promote deeper sleep, but I do feel much better when I lay down to sleep with a fresh clean face and my hair up in a loose bun. I can share more detail about what I use and such in a later post if you’d like, but taking the steps to wash my face with warm water and maybe doing a facemask or something always seems to help me feel more calm and relaxed. Maybe it’s just another little step towards being intentional and taking care of myself that helps me feel better in general, like my life is my own and isn’t being controlled by my hectic schedule, etc.

       #7: Turn off your screens.
I know this is a bit of an eye-roller for a lot of us, especially when we work on our phones and computers throughout the day, but not only does it help especially from the aspect of turning off our ‘work’ brains, but the quick delivery of information that comes from scrolling social media and such and the lights all serve to stimulate our senses so much and make it that much harder to quiet everything down enough to sleep well. If you like to play games on your phone to wind down after a busy day, you need to take into account that you’ll probably need to do a few more things to calm your brain and relax before you’ll be able to have a solid nights sleep.

       #8: Set up your bed and the room.
If you’re someone that can’t sleep in total silence, make sure you have a fan going or something that can create a little white noise. If there’s a weird clicking sound from upstairs, go get it figured out before trying to sleep. Make sure you have all the pillows you need:) If it’s too warm then open a window. If it’s too cold than toss on another blanket and put on some warm socks. If you know you get to sleep in a bit the next day, maybe cover the window with a dark blanket to help keep the sun from waking you up too early. See where I’m going with this? Haha Again these might seem like simple things, but they go a long way towards helping you have a really restful productive nights sleep.

       #9: Practice a little body love.
Something I’ve been doing for years as often as I can before bed is to put on some body lotion. It started when I first got pregnant with my oldest Eleanor. I started rubbing stretch mark cream on my belly every night before sleeping, and not only was it good for my skin, but something about the circular motions while massaging it in was really relaxing. These days I love rubbing some onto my legs and arms, my feet, what I can reach of my back, and my stomach still:) I know it has made a huge difference in the health of my skin and my circulation.

       #10: Read a book to drift off.
Have you ever started reading a book and ended up falling asleep and waking up with the book on your chest? (or your face, true Reading is such a great tool for helping you clear your mind in a simple and educational and almost hypnotic way. Even if you’re not into reading because it’s too boring or whatever, keeping this practice will just make you fall asleep all the faster.haha

In conclusion,
I'm not a morning person and never really have been, but these tips help make whatever sleep I can manage really count! I LOVE my sleep and it is valuable and rare, and how I sleep dictates so much about my day and my mood, and how refreshed and alert I feel, my appetite, and subsequently how productive and happy I feel throughout the day.

What is something that you love doing to help you wind down and/or sleep better? Leave a comment and let us know!

Wednesday, November 14

Little Miss 5-year-old

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wearing: Lydia's whole outfit is from Target kids, and my dress is from Bohme
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She had her birthday last week on the 6th, but the treats and gifts and special little family activities kept going for the rest of the week or so like they normally do, and she certainly deserved it!

I tell ya, I never knew that I could feel so much joy from simply watching another person experience it, but it's my greatest gift as a parent I think, and my heart was so happy seeing Lydia's excitement as she enjoyed every big and little thing we did to celebrate her and her big day.


     I never want to forget the shy smiles you always give and your little giggle that is almost too perfect to be real. The day you were born was a day I'll never forget. Even though you already had 3 older siblings, it felt like a fresh new beginning to for me as well to hold you in my arms and imagine who you would become as I watched you grow. My heart is forever coated in an extra layer of happiness because you are mine.

     You're the only baby I've ever had who has used the pouting lip, and you do it so well! haha It's hard to keep a straight face when I'm trying to explain or teach something very serious to you when you've made a mistake, but oh how I love teaching you and being taught by you. Yes, you teach ME! We do have our little struggles here and there, but no matter how sneaky you may be sometimes, you always have a pure and bright heart through it all, and everything in my life is sweeter because you are my daughter.

     You are precious in every way, you are a little ray of sunshine no matter the weather, and you are a wonderful little and big sister to your siblings. You're blessed to have your daddy in heaven watching over you, and a bonus daddy here at home who guides and protects you and loves you so so much.

     I can't wait to watch you this next year and see where you go, and I hope you'll let me hold your hand through it all. <3 and="" back="" darlin="" i="" little="" love="" moon="" nbsp="" p="" the="" to="" you="">
                    Love Mama

Wednesday, October 3

My word for October


           Happy October loves!!

     I'm just gonna come right out and say that I've had a few more rough days than usual lately, but thanks to a big day of R&R mingled with some family rock climbing and dessert pizza and singing together, I'm feeling pretty peaceful and inspired:) So this seemed like a great evening to share a few thoughts with you guys about something that's really been great for me this year in hopes of inspiring you to do the same!

     Around the start of December last year I started seeing so many people sharing their 'word of the year' choice for 2018 that they were going to focus on, and I loved that idea of having a theme of sorts! The problem was that when I started putting together my own list of favorites, I couldn't decide on just one. So I saved my list in a draft, and instead I've chosen one for each month on the first day of that month, and it's been such a great way to really keep focused on my word and the 'why' behind each one.

     Here's the list of words that I've been choosing from each month:
     I haven't been sharing my words so far, but I want to share my word for October, and it is: REACH

Influenced greatly for sure by the rock climbing I've been doing nearly every day the last week or so since we bought the family membership. The metaphors for life right now in climbing have been so good for me mentally and spiritually, emotionally, not to mention physically (my arms are killing me.haha), and watching the kids excel at it too is so incredibly rewarding to watch!

     I want to go into it more about our new family obsession sometime soon, but I just love every part of the climbing process from planning out the route from the ground, then as you take steps up the wall and shift your weight and change directions, etc. When you feel all your muscles kicking in to help you stay on course, and when your next hold is just out of reach and you know you may fall if you take the leap, but no matter how hard it gets, you keep going up towards your goal. And at our gym there's an actual hold that says FINISH on it, which is so satisfying to grab and know you did it!

     Anyways, I need all the help I can get lately in convincing myself to just take that leap and reach for the hard things even though I may fall. I need to plan better to help increase my chances for success, but the real progress happens only when I actually start moving towards my goals. I want to keep trying for bigger and better things, but I also need to be okay stopping and taking a rest so my muscles don't give out completely and I have to start over. 

     So! If you feel inspired to choose your own word for October whether it's on my list or not I'd really really love to hear what you choose and why, so please share in the comments!! I wait till the first day of the new month to choose my word because it needs to speak to me based on where my head and heart are right in the moment. And if you do choose a word, I encourage you to print it or write it down and stick it on your mirror or fridge or bedside lamp (or all three), anywhere where you'll see it frequently and be reminded to get back on track with your focus and keep at it. Just promise to let it be something that inspires and encourages you through whatever may come this month.


Monday, September 17

A Yellowstone Sunrise


     Hey there fam:) It's been a long while since I've woken up to watch a sunrise, but even though I can't remember specifics of the last time I do only have good memories and feelings associated with them. This particular morning was a special one. We were boondocking (living in campers without electrical or water hookups) outside of Yellowstone National Park, camped high up on a hill above a beautiful valley and a bright blue lake. Richard and I had been woken up by something outside the trailer, and after about 20 minutes or so of talking softly to each other (so as to not wake up any babies), I pointed out that it was starting to get lighter outside and suggested we go out to watch the sunrise. Richard volunteered to build a fire, and we began pulling on layers as quickly as we could so we wouldn't miss it. 

     Besides my pants, I had on a tank top and a t-shirt as well as a long-sleeved shirt and a sweatshirt but was still shivering. Richard gave me one of his beanies to wear and also helped me put on his hooded sweatshirt and one of his coats too. I couldn't believe how cold it was outside when we left the trailer! There were little patches of snow here and there on the ground, and I felt the cold air hit me in the eyes and they started to water. It was still so beautiful though. The smell of the air was pure and clean, and the whole sky was glowing.

     Richard set to work bringing logs around from behind the trailers and soon had a warm fire going for us to sit by, meanwhile I walked around a bit taking these photos while Deisel bounded around happily in the tall grass and kept bringing me sticks to play fetch with. The sky started as a soft greyish blue with the morning haze, but as we watched the tiniest slivers of yellow and then orange began rising up over the edge of the hills by the water. I used to love to watch the sunset a lot when I was younger, often with my older sister. We'd climb out the bedroom window together and sit precariously on the slanted shingles talking about boys or friends or ideas as it grew darker. This was different though, the sunrise meant a new day was dawning, a fresh start, a bright beginning, and I realized that I liked the symbolism of the sunrise better than the ending of the day, even if it meant I was getting close to bedtime.haha

     We'd come to visit Yellowstone for the first time after receiving the unexpected news that the kids had a 5 day break from school. We had some new friends staying with us that live in their RV full time (The Elmers, you can find them on YouTube and Instagram!), and so we all decided to hit the road together with their Rv and our Camper trailer and play it by ear! It was fully in the spirit of the kinds of trips that our summer had consisted of, and so we felt right in our element again.

     The whole area was beautiful and rugged, but the park itself had a sanctuary type feel about it. We loved our daily visits exploring, taking the walking paths around the guisers and pools and trying to spot as much wildlife as we could. And then in the evenings, we enjoyed so many great talks and different games back at the campsite, with the kids running around playing 'Harry Potter' and lost boys while we cooked dinner by the fire and passed out hot chocolate. Those late-night talks with Matt and Molly Elmer are some of the best memories from the whole summer, and the things they shared with us about their family and their adventures have already had a lasting impact on us. 

     Here's to good friends and spontaneous little camping trips, and bison spottings, and hot chocolate:)
Can you remember the last time you got up to watch a sunset? or stopped to enjoy one for a minute or two?

Take care,