Wednesday, October 3

My word for October

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           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.

     xoxoxo

Monday, September 17

A Yellowstone Sunrise

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     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,

Saturday, September 1

Kicking off September - I need you!

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          Hey loves!

   I really hope that you enjoyed some beautiful weather today and that your September is off to a good start:)

     We wrapped up our first week of school yesterday and everything is starting to run more smoothly at home already. It was a pretty fantastic Summer, the 'best ever' as the kids had been saying with every new trip and activity we introduced.haha Thinking back over the last couple of years and how incredibly hard and complex our last few Summers have been, this year is really the first one that the kids will remember doing Summery type things! I mean the last few months have been full of so many firsts for them, for me as a mother, and Richard too of course. Going camping for the first time, teaching them how to make their first-ever sand castles, visiting their first amusement park, using the heck out of the scooters we got them all for Christmas last year, our first time in a camper trailer, first homemade ice cream, and so much more.

      I already miss the older three and as I said it's only the first week, but they're so excited about seeing their friends again and meeting their new teachers, and now it's time to open my email up again and to dust off my keyboard haha, and I'm just feeling really stoked for Richard and me to get back into a more steady and organized rhythm with home and with our work.

     And this is where YOU come in!!

     I shared on my Instagram recently that I put together my first ever reader survey for you guys, and if you can take a quick minute or two to fill it out (if you haven't already), that would help me help you so much moving forward! I've been working on tons of new and awesome projects and content for you guys, and your answers to the few simple questions will help me put them out in the best order and to also help me narrow down my overflowing list of ideas:)


     Thank you in advance for those of you who take the time to fill it out, and for the thousands of you that have already, I've LOVED reading your thoughts! I really have the greatest community here on my corner of the internet. Truly.

     Talk soon!

Sunday, August 26

15 TIPS FOR MORE POSITIVE PARENTING

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     Hey loves! Over the years I have spent a lot of time forming posts that answer as many questions as I can while sharing my thoughts on topics that I'm really passionate about. Today's post is about probably my biggest passion and goal in life, and that's raising truly happy kids. 

    We parents go to extreme lengths to achieve our parenting goals in ensuring the best for our children. We want them to have the most love, the best care, great health, awesome friends,  and a happy home. We want to make sure that what we're putting on their body's is the safest and most gentle, and that overall what we're putting in their bodies is the most nutritious and healthy diet that we can manage... most of the time:) So I’m really excited to be partnering with Pampers today to introduce their #puregoals movement! As I'm sure you know I am a proud member of the Pure Tribe, and moving exclusively to the new Pampers Pure collection when Alice was born accomplished a major mom goal of wanting cleaner, gentler diapers for my little ladies.

     So the following are some of our favorite and most fruitful ‘parenting techniques’ if you will, as well as my #puregoals story about how long and hard I've worked to educate myself in more positive parenting. Just a few little tips and tricks that have been successful in my years as a mom of now six little ones:)
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PLEASE NOTE: Just in case we’ve forgotten, this is one mom's opinion based on her own personal experiences and by no means does this post contain blanket statements that are meant for every family in every circumstance on every continent in the world. These are simply ideas that have worked well with all of our children and that I'm happy to share. Thank you!


Before I get to the list I’d like to share a little background as to where and how I formed my parenting style in the first place: Ever since I was young I remember looking ahead towards being married and having children someday. I really loved watching other parents in action and quietly observe how they talked to their children, how they listened to them, how they discipline them, what they let them get away with, how they showed love to them, etc. I read all the books and watched all the movies, I picked all the brains and googled every variation of the questions I had, but the best lessons still came from observing.

      Throughout our whole marriage, my late husband Martin and I kept continuously moving together along the path of discovering what kinds of parents we wanted to be. We knew that nothing was guaranteed and that there was no one size fits all approach to raising kids. We also knew above all that well-behaved children didn’t just happen by accident, and that if we wanted to achieve the kind of family and home life that we hoped for that we would need to be as firm and consistent as possible, that we’d have to work hard and love harder, and most importantly we had to stay close to God and to each other. 

     It was wonderful and very important to see that Richard shared my same ideas and approaches to parenting (with many great ideas of his own), and these days with six young kids in the house, we continue to learn and grow as we teach them and they teach us. Communication with Richard is essential in making sure we’re on the same page in our exchanges with the children, with each child’s progression and behavior, as well as the attention they are or aren’t receiving. We spend most of our time together every day and night going over instances where cute questions were asked by John or the kind compliment Sophie gave to a cashier, how we can best approach Evie’s sassy attitude or the mature topics that Ellie is hearing about during recess.

  
   All in all, there are so many many different approaches to raising children, and as always it's up to us as parents to take in all we can and then choose for ourselves what's best for our families. So, here is a list of 15 things we do in our house that I'm happy to share, and I hope that even if some of them may not work for your child that they get you thinking of new positive ideas of your own:) 

15 Tips for more positive parenting

      1. Show your unconditional love. You might think it's obvious that you love your children, but it might not be so obvious to them, especially if they've been having an extra hard time staying on your good side. I've tried to always get down on their level at least once a day, look them in the eyes so I'm sure they're listening and focused, and remind them that I love them always and forever, no matter what. With the older girls too I will sometimes list off a bunch of things that I do every day to make sure they're happy and healthy, and it's all because I love them. They get this cute little wide-eyed expression. It's great:) I believe that spending quality time is the greatest way to show love to your children, and that is best achieved by putting your phone away, telling them stories, playing games, reading books, building with blocks or by asking them about themselves. It proves to them how much you care and will greatly strengthen your emotional bond.
  
      2. Explain why you're upset. Almost every single time I'm angry at my kids, it doesn't really have to do with them at all. Usually, it's just frustration with how behind I am, or how badly something didn't work out, or a culmination of things. The point is, when I find myself getting impatient or exasperated with my little guys, I stop and explain. It usually goes something like "You guys I'm sorry that I'm getting mad, it's not because of you, I'm just really tired and a little sad, and so I'm just not going to talk much, okay?" and understanding brings clarity and helps them to relax, and me as well.  This is also a wonderful tool because they see through my example how someone can talk about their emotions and encourages them to feel that our space is one where they can share those kinds of things openly. 
      
      3. Think about their point of view. There are many times when something that one of the kiddos does cause me to reflect, and I try to put myself in their shoes for a minute. I try to think back to when I was little and what I was doing at their age. I like to ask some obvious questions and let them walk me through things that I may already know happened. Then I have them tell me why it was wrong or good or exciting or disappoinging, what they could have done differently, and how I can help them in similar situations in the future. If they need time to think about some part of what we talked about I may have them go sit on their own for a few minutes, but I always have them come back to me so we can go over things again. 
      
      4. Never give negative labels. From the very beginning of my family I never let myself say anything to my kids like "you're being so bad" or "you're wrong" or "you're mean". Instead, I remind them that they are a good girl or boy no matter what, and say instead something like "but that was a very bad choice you made", or "that was a mean thing to do" etc. I never want them hearing my voice in their heads giving them those absolutely wrong labels. I really believe they become what we say they are, and that the way we speak to our children becomes their inner voice.

      5. Get down to their level. Just like when giving praise, when you're disciplining your child or explaining why their behavior was not okay, I really believe that you'll be more successful if (instead of towering over them in what I'm sure is a scary and menacing way) you kneel down so your eyes meet theirs. Try to really listen to them and work things out together. Let them share their frustrations and doubts and fears, and your communication will only improve.

      6. Teach them the value of work. We decided that we were never going to give our children an allowance or a reward for doing nothing We have chores that we do around the house just because we all need to pitch in, and we have family cleaning days with dancing to fun music and eating treats, but there is also a list of extra things they can do if they want to earn money. The littles have been much less entitled because they have an expectation of earning things, and this has helped our family run more smoothly. 

      7. Teach them what to do with money. This kind of goes along with number six, but when they do earn money I like to go over their choices of how to save or spend or donate to charity, and what that means as they get older. We have little containers with different slots for different purposes, which makes it easy for them to keep the amounts separate. I left my parents house not knowing how to write a check, so I love how much they'll know as they grow by teaching them responsible money management from an early age. Plus they just love collecting all of their little shiny coins. 

      8. Help them be strong and resilient. Like most of these tips this one is a very personal choice, but in our house, we don't do band-aids unless there is blood or broken skin. Whenever one of our kids pinch a finger or bump their elbow, instead of swooping them up and frantically yelling if they're okay, I simply help them to their feet as I calmly check for damage and then I'll usually say "wow, you're such a tough girl!" and they smile and say "yeah! I'm tough!"  From the time they could walk and talk I would look at them in happy astonishment and say how tough they were, and they get so proud. Fostering this habit has meant that most of the time when they get hurt now they get excited to tell me how tough they are without even being prompted, and it's pretty rad:) I really believe that failing and falling is a crucial part of child development and preparing them for adulthood, but I also love that no matter how tough they get, that I'll be there to support them when they need me.

      9. Teach them confidence. Several of my kiddos have been bullied since starting school, and since I've been on the receiving end of that most of my life, I have enough experience to remind them that the cruel and hurtful things people say have nothing to do with them personally (especially if the bully doesn't even know them), but that it has everything to do with hard things that the bully is going through and that they're simply projecting. Explain to your kids how sometimes when someone is dealing with lots of anger or jealousy, that they think attempting to make others feel as badly as they do will help them feel better about themselves. So, instead of letting the bullies upset them, I like to teach my older kids that they can show compassion and try to help them, or if that doesn't work to simply avoid and ignore them.

      10. Say no more often. It might sound harsh, but saying yes to everything your child asks for or wants to do teaches them entitlement and ingrains this expectancy in their minds for instant gratification. In addition, once you've set a boundary or a rule, it's best if you stick to it! Don't set a rule one day and then let them break it the next because you're too tired to enforce. As soon as you start changing rules for convenience sake, how can you expect them to not test the limits with every expectation?

      11. Say yes more often. Sometimes I find myself leaning too much towards the last step and saying no to many things that I could easily and conveniently say yes to just because I'm distracted or hurrying, etc, so every time I realize I'm falling into that rut I focus on saying yes more, especially when it's a simple request. It's all about balance. 

      12. Show your kids more gratitude. I ask my kiddos to run things around the house for me often or to complete a little task as I'm sure we all do, but my favorite part of these errands is giving them a cheerful 'thank you Sophie!' when they're done and watching their face light up with pride. The more encouragement and praise you give them the more they'll want to help, and the better your relationship will be:) Positive parenting takes a lot more work and brain power, but it's so worth it. It's easy to remember to react and stop the bad behavior when it's happening, but I work hard every day at also remembering to recognize and praise their good deeds and choices.

      13. Ignore the naughty child. Ever since I was little I heard my parents using the phrase 'attention at any cost is still attention' meaning obviously that when your child wants more time with you they'll go as far as to misbehave simply to force you to focus on them. To combat this tactic, when one of the kids starts to act up simply because they're bored or want attention, I like having them sit alone for a few minutes while I play a little more with the other children who were sitting quietly, etc. I congratulate the other kids on their good behavior within earshot of the naughty child so they can learn that being good is much more fun and rewarding. 

      14. Show an increase of love. This goes right along with the last one, but always after I've had to scold one of the kids for a bad choice or have sent them to a time-out, I always wrap up with hugs and kisses and telling them how much I love them. I remind them that we have rules to keep them safe and happy because we love them and that we only get upset at times because we care so much. 

      15. Be the best example you can be. I know that a parent is a child's first role model, but as they grow they will start to watch and learn much from other adults and friends as well. It's up to you from the very beginning to show them the kind of person they can be by your actions and your words, how you treat others and how you treat yourself so that they can spot the difference between good influences and bad as they grow.

     Well so I've shared my own #puregoals story and some of my tips, and now I want to hear your story! Tell us about some of the lengths you've gone to ensure the best for your kiddos, and if you share it on social media don't forget to use the hashtag so you can join the movement! 

     Thank you so much for reading, and I would really appreciate any thoughts you may have on your favorite tip.  We are always looking for ways to improve and have a happier home:)

        Have a great rest of your week!