Travel Diary : Our Western Kansas Road Trip

If you’ve been following my online adventures for the past few years, you’ve heard of our annual trips to Western Kansas for dance camp. They are magic, you guys. I’ve written about them quite a bit, but this time around I wanted to share what it’s really like. I decided to attempt to capture some of our trip on film, and put together a little Travel Diary with some of our adventures. We are so grateful to kick off our summer every year spending time with old friends and indulging in the slower pace of life in the country.

But most of all, this video is a little love letter to my in-laws, who invite us in to their quiet home every year for a week and let us take over their lives! The last part of the video is my favorite, because it truly shows how lucky we are to be a part of this family. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins…this kind of closeness and joy is exactly what I always wished for my children, and I could not be more thankful that it is their reality.

Song Credit: Found A Heart by Emily Hearn (used with permission)

Making Marriage Beautiful

Making Marriage Beautiful

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to receive the book “Making Marriage Beautiful” by Dorothy Greco, at what felt like a perfect time in my life. After 11 years of marriage, my husband and I are in a wonderful place, but we have both committed to actively working on our marriage on a daily basis. Many of the issues we’ve struggled with as a couple have come from lack of communication, and, honestly, a lack of hard work. When you have young kids, two businesses, a dog who gets into the trash EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and a cat who keeps tearing up the new carpet, it can be hard to prioritize time to grow your relationship. But in the last few years, as our kids have grown and we’ve finally found a reliable, long-term babysitter (no, you can’t have her name, I’m never letting her go!), we have worked to make date nights a weekly occurrence. We try to find a quiet five minutes to talk everyday…which I know sounds nuts, but even that small amount of time can provide a huge connection, and avoid confusion over silly issues and arguments.

Making Marriage Beautiful

Making Marriage Beautiful is a perfect addition to this prioritization in our marriage, because the number one focus throughout is in order to make a marriage work, you have to be willing to GROW. Another word for grow that seems scary…CHANGE. One of the biggest myths about marriage seems to be that the person who marry will stay frozen in time as that exact person forever. And we know that’s just not true! As we gain life experience, we change our opinions and our feelings. This can cause a lot of confusion and anger when it’s not addressed. Making Marriage Beautiful covers this head-on, and talks about the hard stuff we like to sweep under the rug. We all come into marriage (or any relationship) with a set of pre-existing assumptions. For example, maybe your family ate dinner together every night while your spouse’s family ate separately. And now you get upset when he’s not home for dinner with the family…but that’s just not a priority for him, so he is annoyed that you are upset. Making Marriage Beautiful talks about these types of conflicts, and how we can work through them (because, honestly, we can’t really avoid them) to make our relationships even stronger.

Spoiler Alert: It’s all about communication!

To get your own copy of Making Marriage Beautiful, click here!

SPONSORSHIP DISCLOSURE: This item was provided to me by the publisher, but all ideas and words included in this blog post are my own.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

Snow Days and Chasing Slow

Lucy in the Snow 2017

The last few weeks have been short ones around here. We got back to a somewhat normal schedule after the holidays, just to be slammed with more days off of school for the kids than I can count.

Just kidding, I’ve counted. Twice.

Basically with the combination of national holidays and inservice/teacher learning days, we have four-day school weeks from now until mid-February. Which, let’s face it, isn’t ideal. Not only does this make my work schedule difficult, it is hard on the kids as well! It’s almost impossible for any of us to get into a groove when our schedule is all over the place.

When I’m faced with these types of working mom problems, I tend to get extremely over-stressed and anxious. I find myself making lists in my head of everything I won’t be able to do because I won’t have the time. I torture myself by looking at the social media feeds of my competitors and colleagues, seeing all their perfectly lit images and the work they have been doing, and instead of cheering them on, I feel resentful. I worry that I’m falling behind, yet again, and that I’ll never get ahead of the game. I decide that I’m destined to fail, resign myself to my bed with some fuzzy socks, ratty PJs and Netflix. Why bother even trying, right?

WRONG. Because I don’t have to live fast in order to find success, and the whole idea of hustle equating happiness just doesn’t resonate for me anymore. When my kids have a day off school, I enjoy being with them. I like stepping away from the computer and being present as we throw snowballs at each others heads or read books. I don’t feel lazy when I’m in my PJs with them until 11 a.m. I feel happy. Joyful, even!

Tate in the Snow 2017

So why I am I torturing myself? When they were babies and I worked out of the home full time, I felt guilty for missing all these moments. When I started my own business and they were in preschool, I felt guilty because I couldn’t work as much as I wanted to. Now I’m feeling guilty when they have days off elementary school. I keep waiting for the next phase of life, when things slow down, but I’m starting to think that’s NEVER gonna happen. There will always be something pulling me in one direction while another is pushing me the opposite way.

This year I am planning to focus more on being present, but also on listening to my inner self when it comes to my schedule and work. I am finding doubling down on hustle when it comes to work isn’t always resulting in success. Instead, when I focus on doing what feels right in all facets of my life (working, creating, mothering, reading, meditating, eating chocolate, whatever) the success seems to follow. Recently I was fortunate enough to be asked to read the new, beautiful book Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which really speaks to this topic. Erin chronicles her journey from a fast life, to a slow life and back again…and her conclusions aren’t what I expected. Instead of being a book about slowing down your life, this book was more about the question of why do we believe we have to have any particular sort of life for it to be a happy one? I related so much to her journey, and it made me think twice about my goals. Do I want a fast life? Do I want to be a minimalist? Do I want to disconnect from the internet and live in a yurt? Do I want to move to New York City and take my kids to school on the subway? Do I want neither? Both?

Chasing Slow

Do I have to decide?

Maybe we can just be balancing along the middle…sometimes wanting to throw out everything we own because the clutter is strangling us and other times buying a shirt on sale just because it looked cute online. Who knows? But for now, I can only be where I am. And I am a mom of two kids who are growing into grown-ups faster than I can fathom, so if they have a day off school, I’m probably needed on the front lines of the snowball fight. Afterward, when they are sipping on hot cocoa and fighting over marshmallows, I’ll likely sneak away for a little editing session or to answer a few emails. I’m not perfect, but luckily, no one is.

Lucy in the Snow 2017

If you’re looking for more info on this topic, the podcast “The Lively Show” is an amazing listen. I recommend starting with this episode!

Farm Sunset October 2016

October at the Farm

Autumn is like an extended marathon around here. As the leaves start to change and the weather cools off a bit, our schedules and lives go into overdrive. Work and school and deadlines and sports and events and choir practice and class parties and all of the things start to meld together into one giant pile of “things to do.” Don’t get me wrong, I love fall. It’s by far my favorite season, but sometimes the pace can be a little much.

Farm October 2016

Farm October 2016

So when we had an unexpected open weekend, a part of me wanted to stay in my PJs all day and never leave my house. But the other side (the louder side) was craving clean air and open skies…so I packed up the kids and we headed to the family farm for the weekend. My mother-in-law, who doesn’t usually get visits from us to the farm this time of year, was so excited to have the kids there a few days before Halloween. She organized the cutest activities, from a Halloween scavenger hunt to bobbing for apples and an egg toss.

Farm October 2016

Farm October 2016

The grandparents had evening plans, so the kids and I ended up hanging out together and picking veggies from the garden they helped plant earlier this year. At dusk I somehow convinced them to go on a long walk around the property, and we were rewarded with the most gorgeous sunset! Kansas, I think I like you.

Farm October 2016

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

A (Sort of) Harry Potter Halloween 2016!

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Halloween 2016 is in the books, and even though it wasn’t as epic as last year, it was still a pretty fun night full of candy, fun, candy, friends…and candy! Last year Halloween was on a Saturday, our street had a block party AND our Kansas City Royals were in the playoffs, so everyone had TV screens out in front of their homes watching the game and cheering while the kids went door-to-door. We stayed up late and got to sleep in the next morning, which helped a bit with the inevitable sugar crash. Also, since the big day was on a Saturday, school parties were held earlier in the week, which helped the whole day to be less overwhelming.

Halloween 2016

This year was definitely much more mellow, since it was a Monday night, but the kids are still calling it “the best Halloween ever” so I think that counts as a success. Now, the sugar crash and having to wake them up for school this morning was decidedly less fun than last year. I feel like I need to send all the teachers a spa gift certificate for what they must’ve gone through today!

Ron Weasley Halloween 2016

Last year we did a pretty awesome family costume, and the plan was to do a Harry Potter theme this year. However, we ran into a snag when Lucy decided she couldn’t be her favorite character (Ginny Weasley) because in the end (spoiler alert for all you weirdos that haven’t read Harry Potter yet!) Ginny marries Harry…and if Tate was going to be Harry, Lucy just COULDN’T be Ginny! Gross! But we thought it would be a bit weird if we went as Harry Potter characters without Harry Potter…so Lucy decided to skip out on the family costume and instead dress up as a “cat person” which is something she made up. Apparently it’s half person, half cat, and she explained this to every adult who dared to say, “Aw, and you’re a kitty this Halloween!” No, she is a CAT PERSON. Totally different.

Cat Person Halloween 2016

Trent dressed up as Luigi from Mario Brothers for his work Halloween, which of course meant he had to shave his beard into an insane mustache. It was hilarious, but when he left the mustache for his evening costume change, he ended up looking like the creepiest Ron Weasley I’d even seen! The photo of the three of us cracks me up, because I think this is exactly how Hermione would feel about Ron with an insane mustache.

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Harry Potter Halloween 2016

Now, if you need me, I’ll be off stealing mini Twix bars from my kids’ candy stash! Happy Halloween!

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