Five Good Things #3

IMG_4394Good Morning!

Welcome to the third installment of my new series for 2017, where I share five good things from the week to end it on a good note.

This week was uneventful in a good way. I’m looking forward to working from my couch today and having friends over tonight for a low key night in. It’s been a good week, but I am definitely still ready for the weekend!

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1. My favorite parts of our days lately have been our evening routine. Buel eats dinner while we settle in and then one of us puts him to bed while the other cooks dinner. We inevitably end up having a dance party during dinner or before bed and we crack up. It’s been fun to find new playlists and this one by Emily Ley is a winner. I also love watching her family dance parties on Instagram and everything she posts- it’s inspiring!

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2. We are going strong with Whole 30! Thank goodness I excel at planning and prep because it’s saved us the past two weeks and made it somewhat easy. I’m writing up a post for next week on how we’re feeling, but for now I will say things are going really well and we’re seeing and feeling major changes. Our favorite meal this week was Skinnytaste’s recipe for Crock Pot Picadillo- so good, easy and filling! We served it over cauliflower rice and were huge fans.

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3. Let me introduce you to my obsession of the week- the Making Oprah podcast on WBEZ! I am seriously hooked on it. With my career background in selling television advertising for years and my obsession with personal development I find it so fascinating with how Oprah got her start and what she thinks of her career now looking back.

4. When it comes to personal development, I’ve learned over the past few years that you can never really get rid of your flaws. One of my key flaws is that I run late all the time, particularly in the morning for work. I’m lucky that my office is flexible and I always make up the time, but I have felt serious guilt about it in the past. These days I realize how much I need my morning routine and try not to rush through my time with Buel and my morning workout. However, this week I was early twice (only 15 minutes, let’s not get crazy) and it did make the start to the day even better. I’m not sure if I’ll focus on making this a habit, but it was refreshing.

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5. Last but not least, I stumbled up the “Weeknight Dinners” series by Lois Bielefeld this week and I find it absolutely fascinating. The series is just as it sounds- photographs of families eating dinner. There’s something so compelling about them and I could not stop studying all of the little details, even though it felt somewhat creepy. Maybe that’s the appeal?

What is ONE good thing from your week?

Working Motherhood: One Year Later

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One year ago today, I walked into back into my office to make my return from maternity leave. Thankfully, it was the first day my company moved into their new headquarters so everyone was a bit discombobulated. It made it slightly easier to deal with the awkward, crazy way I was feeling inside. Everything was the same, but I was a different person.

Now that I have a full year of working motherhood under my belt, I can honestly say that it feels like my new normal. So much so that I had to dig deep to remember how I was feeling last year at this time. I’ve realized the past few weeks that despite the fact that I felt like a completely different person when I returned to work, after time I’ve adapted and become an even better version of my previous self.

That’s not to say that in the beginning I did not struggle. It may have been my insecurity, but when I first returned to work it felt like I was not being taken as seriously. I was the new mom and I had to pass the test that I still lived up to my previous expectations before I was taken seriously. For Rich I feel it was the opposite and he was given more respect at work when he became a Dad. It was an interesting effect, but after proving myself both as a Mom and in the workplace I am confident that becoming a Mom has made me a better employee. Yes there are days when my lives bleed together and everyday I may take time from either in order to pull both jobs off, but in the end my job gets done- well.

As a working Mom I’ve found that remembering the example I’m setting for my son is the best motivation to work hard on the job. I was prepared to feel guilty and some days I feel the ping of guilt as I’m going about my day, but in my gut I know that continuing to pursue my career is the best choice for myself and for my family.

But, I do feel guilty. I often feel guilty that I drop Buel off early to daycare so that I can fit in my morning workout. I feel guilty when I forget items or paperwork to turn into his teachers. I feel guilty that I do not make all of his food from scratch and worry that we rush through our routines. I could go on, but I have learned to remind myself that worrying about these things is what makes me a good Mom. It’s never enough because I want to be the absolute best for my son and that’s how much I love him.

I’ve learned that the guilt I feel is no different than any other Mom’s guilt- we all feel it. There’s times that I felt guilty because I do not do “enough” as a Mom but we all feel this way. I have Mom friends in a variety of scenarios and pretty much that only thing that we all have in common is that we all have guilt to some extent that we could be doing things better. It’s called love.

Over the past year I’ve learned that preparation and flexibility are the keys to survival. I spent a lot of time over the past year focused on our routines and figuring out the best ways to manage our time. Every evening I pack our bags like we’re going on vacation, lay out our clothes and make sure meals are planned and ready to go. I constantly check our family calendar and my personal to-do list to keep our household running smoothly. I plan out my time meticulous and it allows me to fit in every priority in my week. It’s a lot of work but keeping us organized keeps us prepared for the daily challenges that will inevitably come our way.

As a Mom I’ve learned that it’s absolutely vital to make time for myself. No matter the situation, in order to be a good Mom you must have a full tank. It’s like the say, you must put on your own oxygen mask before tending to others. So I make time for myself every week. I get my errands done during my work from home day on Friday so that weekend nap times are my time to myself. I get manicures every two weeks on lunch. I work out in the mornings so I can get ready in peace. And when I need a break I have no qualms about asking for help.

One year later I wouldn’t consider myself a working Mom. I’m just myself. I’ve adapted and grown and now have a new role.  And even though I felt completely different when I returned to work a year ago now the many aspects of my day are just who I am.

 

How We Manage Our Shared Calendar & To Do Lists

How We Manage Our Family Calendar

Lately I’ve been getting a lot of requests to share how we manage our schedule as two full-time working parents. After over four years of marriage and one year of parenthood, we’ve found a way to manage our family calendar in an easy, collaborative and stress-free way.

One day, Rich and I decided we were sick of him having to call me to check my planner to make plans. With his work schedule being all over the place and Buel going between daycare and his grandparents we decided that there had to be a better way. So we went digital.

Family Calendar

We went with Google Calendar since it was easy to sync with our phones and email. I liked the option to add multiple calendars and set up one for myself, Rich, Buel, Penny and our family. Now we all have our only color coded schedule that makes it easy to see what we all have going on. And yes, our Dog needs her own calendar because she goes to the doctor, daycare and gets monthly medicine.

Having a shared calendar helps us to map out our week and communicate our priorities. Since Rich’s work schedule varies, he puts any exceptions on the calendar so I know if I’ll be flying solo at night. On the same vein, I can add any work events to the calendar so he knows when he’s scheduling if he needs to be home.

Basically, it allows us to divide and conquer as parents and allows us to manage our busy work schedules and still fit in work out, social plans, dates and time to ourselves. We also share Buel’s calendar with his Grandpa so he can plan ahead and it’s been working very well!

Google Keep

When it comes to our shared to-do list, we recently found a much better way than the piece of paper that always seemed to get lost. We’ve been using Google Keep where we’ll keep a weekly list that we both have access to at any time. And the best part? It syncs with our calendar so that we can set reminders!

This system is not mind blowing, but it’s working extremely well for us. It’s allowed us to streamline our communication so that we spent much less time discussing the logistics of our day and more time enjoying each other’s company, which is the best reward!

How do you manage your family calendar? 

Five Good Things #2

Bloodline Living RoomGood Morning!

Welcome to my new series for 2017, Five Good Things! This series is a Friday check-in that will combine my recent “Things I’m Enjoying Lately” posts and my old “Take Time Tuesday Posts” plus allow me to check in with a “life” post every week. In short, this post is where I would like to share five good things from the week to end it on a good note.

I’m happy to report that it was a great week! Everything was easy and smooth and our household ran like clockwork. It wasn’t the most exciting week in the world, but it was a nice change of pace and it felt awesome to find peace in our routines.

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1. Rich and I tend to watch TV together only a few times per week and when we do we struggle to find shows we both love. A few of my coworkers recommended Bloodline on Netflix and we’ve both gotten into it. I highly recommenced it if you’re looking for something to watch as a couple! Also, if you have any suggestions send them my way.

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2. Another thing we’re doing as a couple this week? Whole 30! We are going strong and on day seven today. It’s been really interesting to see how we feel all week and all of my meal planning skills have paid off. I debated if I’ll be blogging about our experience, but I’m thinking if there’s interest I’ll share at the mid-way point and our thoughts at the end. Thoughts?

My favorite Whole30 find so far has been the Plantain Chips at Trader Joe’s. They are a great alternative to regular chips and SO good with Guacamole. Yum!

3. When it comes to eating this way, we’re feeling great and this has definitely inspired us to make some changes in how we eat. I survived eating out on Tuesday, but it’s been extremely hard overall when it comes to eating out. That’s ok though, since we were planning on slowing down this month. One way around it we’ve found is having friends to our house for dinner. We have two dinners at our house on the calendar this month which we’re looking forward to. It’s been fun to host at our newly remodeled house!

Mom and Buel

4. One change in our family this week was Buel’s transition from the infant to the toddler room at school! It was pretty much a non-event and he did awesome. I think it’ll be great for him, as he is a super active kid and was getting a little bored hanging around the little babies.

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5. Lastly, I bought a plane ticket for a girls’ trip next month! I am going to Northern Michigan with my High School friends next month and thanks to some forgotten airline miles my flight was only $11.00. It’ll be a low key trip and I am so looking forward to having lots of time to catch up. We are all scattered across the country and typically see each other around holidays or at weddings or funerals (unfortunately) so it’ll be nice to have time just for US.

Now your turn! Tell me ONE good thing from your week!

How We Transitioned From Bottles & Easy Toddler Food Ideas

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Good Morning!

For my first Mom Talk post of the year, I am sharing how we transitioned away from bottles to milk and some of the convenience foods that help us get through busy days.

So first things first, let’s talk about moving away from bottles. This was something that intimidated me at first and despite lots of google researching and asking my tribe of mom friends, no one seemed to have the same answer. So, like every other transition, I went with my gut and did what felt best. [Read more…]

Why I Stopped Writing To Do Lists

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Good Morning!

I’m excited to continue my Work Life and Mom Life series in 2017 and look forward to continuing to share my story as a working Mom. If there are any topics you’re interested in hearing more about, please send the ideas my way!

I spent a lot of time in 2016 building out routines that work for me and my family. As the year ended, I couldn’t help but feel that I finally found the balance I’ve been looking for the past several years. Ironically, I have more on my plate than ever and I think finding this balance was because I had to. Nevertheless, the next few weeks I’ll be sharing some things that have been working for me. (no pun intended…)

Today I’m sharing the main thing that has helped me be more mindful with my time at work the past few months. I’ve made a considerate effort to keep my work within the 9-5 hours over that past year and consequentially I’m getting more done in less time. This has forced me to have systems in place that allow me to get stuff done and this is one of them.

It may surprise you, but I stopped writing to-do lists and started doing this instead. [Read more…]

Five Good Things

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Good Morning!

Phew, what a week! My work days were non-stop and we were running on very little sleep due to my teething toddler. Honestly, every day felt hard but I managed to find time for myself and time for Rich so overall the week ended up being a good one.

I am starting something new for 2017, Five Good Things! This series will be a Friday check-in that will combine my recent “Things I’m Enjoying Lately” posts and my old “Take Time Tuesday Posts” plus allow me to check in with a “life” post every week. In short, this post is where I would like to share five good things from the week to end it on a good note.

1. As much as I love the holiday season, it feels great to be back into our every day routines. As I wrote about on Monday, we put a lot of effort into our routines in 2016 and now that our house remodel is done we’ve been able to fall back into them. Things just feel easier!

Fridays are my work from home days and I typically use them as my day to do laundry and run errands during lunch to leave my weekend open. Last night Rich and I got ahead of laundry and tomorrow we’re grocery shopping as a family, so that’s two less things on my plate today!

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2. Last year Rich and I started a three year line-a-day journal together and I’m proud to say that we made it the entire year filling it out! Often we would have to catch up on several days at a time, but overall it was nice to spend a little time together each day. Now that we’re onto year two it’s been fun to look back on our previous answers.

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3. I’m back in a reading kick for the new year and have been reading for 15-30 minutes before bed. Currently I’m reading The Look of Love by Sarah Jio and absolutely loving it. It’s a cute story about a Seattle florist who can “see” love. It’s been a fun read and extra enjoyable after my recent trip to Pike Place Market in Seattle.

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4. After reading about Midnight Outburst in an article, I Amazon Primed it for our New Year’s Eve party and it was so much fine! Our friends were describing it as a dirty version of Family Feud. We had a blast playing and I can’t wait to play it again.

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5. Lastly, Rich and I are starting Whole 30 tomorrow! I’m a little nervous and somewhat apprehensive since I made a lot of progress not dieting in 2016, however I’m excited to be able to support my husband and do the challenge out of solidarity. I am looking forward to cleaning up our diet and eating in better moderation after we finish the program, hopefully seeing my skin clear up, improved allergies and more energy. I know it’s going to hard, but we can do anything for 30 days- right!? (but seriously, if you’ve done it- send tips my way!)

This weekend is going to be a low key one for us. We’re going out to pizza for my brother-in-law’s Birthday tonight as our last hooray. Tomorrow Rich is off work and we have plans for Crossfit and grocery shopping. Sunday we’re hoping to make it to church in the morning  and I scheduled a massage for myself in the afternoon. Other than that, I see a lot of lounging and hopefully sleep in our future. It should be a good, relaxing weekend!

Now your turn! Tell me ONE good thing from your week!

Finding Contentment in Routine

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Good Morning!

First of all, thank you so much for the love and support in the comments on Monday’s post. It was a hard one to write, but once it was out there I felt so much better. It was what I needed to do to move on from 2016 and focus on the year ahead.

Now that the year is here I’m feeling much more motivated that I was initially. It feels good to be back our usual routines and I’m feeling really proud of all the work that I put into making our day to day run like a well oiled machine in 2016.

For now, I have no plans to set any big goals in 2017. Instead, I’m focusing on the intention of contentment and would like to hold myself accountable throughout the year. I’m not sure if this will mean setting goals monthly, but for now this feels right.

So for January, my goal is to focus on finding contentment in our routines. One of the main reasons I wanted to set and follow routines in 2016 was to make our day to day easier so that we could slow down and enjoy the little moments. It took a lot of work to get to the place that we’re in, but now that we are in them our routines do make things a lot easier, our life calmer and overall they make me happier.

In the past I think that I used this blog to myself accountable to goals that I was working towards, but what about appreciating what I already have? This month my goal is to ease back into our routines, take note of them and document them on here so that I can reference what’s working in the future when I find myself in need of figuring out what works.

What are your goals for January? Do you thrive on routines in your life?

Letting Go of 2016 and Setting Intentions for 2017

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For the past several years, I’ve started the New Year feeling motivated. I set big, lofty goals and set out to achieve them. I worked my butt off and when I achieved my goal I would set a new one. It lead to a lot of chasing, a lot of pushing and a lot of work. This year I’m feeling different.

At the beginning of 2016 I set the theme of  “focusing on what matters” in an attempt to simplify my life. But of course, because as soon as you try to plan and control your life, I was reminded that life never goes according to plan and 2016 became the year of CHANGE.

Looking back I think that setting these focuses for my life was God’s way of preparing me for what was to come. I needed a reminder of my foundation before my life was completely turned upside down.

On February 25th, 2016 my life was forever changed. My usual morning phone call to my Dad was unanswered and in my gut I knew something was wrong. I called and I called and text and emailed with no response. Within less than an hour with help of family and friends it was confirmed what I already knew in my heart, my Dad was gone. He had suffered a heart attack peacefully at home and went quickly and poetically after helping shovel his neighbor’s snow.

Losing him unexpectedly forced me to quickly accept what had happened. I had the unfortunate advantage of already losing my Mom so this time things hit me hard and quickly. There was no denial, just gut-wrenching pain and quick acceptance. I found peace in our last conversation about finally feeling comfortable as a working Mom, him telling me how proud he was of me and him getting to see a picture of Buel that day. “He’s getting so big” was the last thing my Dad said to me.

The months that followed by Dad’s passing were a blur. I kept myself busy with managing my parents’ estate and my organizational skills became crucial. In four months I closed out every single bill, selling the company that my Dad started when he was in his early twenties and sold my childhood home.

At the same time, amazing things happened for our family. I do not see this as a coincidence but more so a reminder that things in life happen for a reason. A month following my Dad’s passing we finally got approval for our short sale after eleven months of waiting, quickly put our condo on the market and sold it within 24 hours. And from there, our life went into overdrive.

The second half of 2016 was one where I stretched myself further than I ever thought I could. I became determined to make my life exactly what I wanted it with my priorities clearer than they had ever been before. The last six months of the year were all about pushing, striving and working.

As the year ended we finally were able to slow down and I spent the month reflecting on what had happened. I struggled with constant, all encompassing feeling of guilt from what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time. We had the life worked so hard was achieved but it came at a cost and nothing felt quite right.

It’s a weird feeling to struggle with happiness while grieving. To some extent it feels wrong but a part of me always remember that my parents would be proud of me. This constant back-and-forth is something I need to let go of before I’m able to move on.

So, as we start the new year I am letting go of 2016. I’ve accepted every part of the year, both good and bad and I’m ready to move on.

seek-kathleen-clipper-day-8-web-version-716x1024In 2017 my intention is contentment. My goal is to find peace in every situation and accept that the positive can still exist despite the negative. I want to find ease in our every day routines, let go of my need for perfection and embrace the messiness. I want to slow down and enjoy the little moments with my son. I want to nourish my body and continue to take care of myself, encourage my husband to do the same and foster my friendships. And most of all, I want to practice gratitude and shift my focus from the negative that will inevitably exist no matter how hard I push, plan or focus. I’m ready to let go and just be content.

What are you letting go of from 2016? What are your intentions in 2017?

 

 

2016 in Review

 

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Good Morning!

When I look back on 2016, I’m positive that I’ll always be in shock with how much happened in twelve short months. 2016 was one of the most exhausting, challenging, overwhelming and heartbreaking years of my life. It was also beautiful, rewarding and brought as much good into my life as bad.  Looking back I’m grateful for each and every experience.
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