The Emerald Girl

casual. classic. curious.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

About the head and the heart

(I always try to never use all or nothing statements so here we go. Why do I feel the need to always use a disclaimer?)

You know the question: do you usually follow your heart or follow your head. Your heart usually representing your feelings and your head representing logic. Heart is most often implying love but in the case of this blog it encompasses all feelings. When I answer this question, I'm quick to respond head. Really, when I think about all the tiny decisions I make throughout the day, not just decisions to act but decisions to react, decisions to have a certain attitude, decisions to not decide - a lot them are ruled by feelings. Do I feel like it? Do I feel good? Do I feel annoyed? The thing that I'm becoming more aware of lately is that if I'm always waiting to feel good or right whether it be mentally, physically or emotionally then I'm going to be in the wrong a lot. Let's face it, as I'm getting older and working on improving my health I'm usually not feeling great in one or more of those categories (physical, mental, emotional).

Maybe you can relate: when I'm not feeling great then I don't necessarily want to do anything. I don't want to fold the laundry, I don't want to pick-up the house, I don't want to spend time with my kids, I don't want to work, I don't want to be friendly and the list goes on.

It's easier said than done but we shouldn't be basing much on how we feel. Feelings are fickle. They change with the wind. Feelings can lead us away from truth and reality. I force myself to take care of household responsibilities even when I don't feel like it. I'm learning to say 'sorry' even when I don't feel sorry. As I learned in the movie The Irishman, saying sorry from the will is good even if you don't feel sorry. I think it's a practice to put your body into the right motion and sometimes the heart will follow and sometimes it won't but either way you do the right thing. If you mess up and wish you would have acted differently when you weren't feeling good (physically, mentally or emotionally), don't fret, you will surely have another opportunity very soon.

I often think of my body as a vessel for God to use which helps me to push myself in situations where I don't feel like it. Again, I could come back to the household chores example but, also, socially. Do I feel comfortable offering that man I just saw digging in the garbage my leftover food? Nope, definitely not, I don't enjoy walking up to perfect strangers and speaking but sometimes I will and I most definitely rely on a strength greater than myself. Do I enjoy helping friends/family when it's in imposition? It's not something I jump at (don't hate me, guys!) but I'm learning to relish the opportunity to serve others. We don't always get chances to help people in everyday life and I'm glad to be in a place right now where I can say yes more easily. Do I want to say sorry to someone when I feel totally justified in my words and actions? That's a big N-O. Just ask my husband (sorry, babe). Once more, putting your feet in the right direction can bring your feelings into alignment, at least in my experience (immediate or delayed).

Edited to add: This morning I realized that this post could be totally misconstrued so I need to say a few more things. I am mostly referencing bad attitude feelings, laziness, less than desirable physical state (not out right sick), etc. 100% we also need to honor and respect our feelings in many, many situations.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Leaf peeping on the Skagit River

Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography
Skagit rvier drone photography

A few weeks ago, I had the great pleasure of driving along the Cascade Loop up to Diablo Lake. The purpose of the drive was to peep some leaves and the trip did not disappoint. It was breathtaking. Being surrounded by that much nature has the most relaxing effect. On the way down the mountain from Diablo Lake we stopped along the Skagit River to play around with the drone and take some shots of the beautiful river. The water in the North Cascades is such a beautiful color compared to the brown, murky colored water in the Seattle area.

A day trip was just what we needed. A total reset after the start of the school year. A day trip is just like a mini vacation. Your mind takes a break and goes somewhere new and exciting and it was a great experience for the four of us. The kids were absolutely perfect and here's my tips for how to make road trips fun: keep excitedly talking about what we're seeing out the windows, bring skittles, bring peanut M&Ms, car toys like Guess Who, crayons and paper, plenty of snacks and make stops along the way to get out and move around.

We recently took another day trip around Mt. Rainer and had great success bringing the kids along again. I'll be sharing more photos from that drive soon!

Monday, October 28, 2019

About the best pumpkin patch

Acorn Pumpkins at Gordon Skagit Farms
Pumpkin picking at Gordon Skagit Farms
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Pumpkin Patch display in Mt. Vernon
Fall dahlias
Pumpkin Farm
Growing up my family always purchased pumpkins from the big containers at the grocery stores. There's nothing wrong with that, in fact, I'd say we were all quite happy and didn't think a thing about it. However, my husband spent most of his adolescence in the farm town of Snohomish about 30 miles north of Seattle so his experience involved pumpkins straight from the patch and he shared this tradition with me which I now insist on every year. The patch is where it's at!

Every year, I take pictures of the kids dawned in adorable fall outfits exploring the pumpkin patch and they are some of my favorites. What I loved especially loved about Gordon Skagit Farms is the variety of types and sizes. I had never seen some of these types of pumpkins before in my life! The farm's pumpkin displays were truly one of a kind and really added to the experience. We had to drive quite a bit further north than we normally do but it was well worth it! It's about 60 miles north of the city.

I'm not sure if this is true, I could Bing it, but I'll save that for another day (and perhaps post) but I think seeing things that are pleasant to the eye really add to one's overall experience and leaves that person feeling better just by being prettier.

We extended this trip with some fall leaf peeping along the Cascade Loop. This was an amazing day trip that I will share photos from soon!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

How to Organize Your Kid's Art

File Folder to organize kids art
An alternate title for this post is: How to throw away your kid's art. If you have children then this post is for you because no doubt, if they're school aged, they bring home so much paper that you no longer wonder about who fills the world's recycling plants. Since my first child started school, he's come home with so much paper - art and schoolwork as well. It can feel extremely tempting to keep everything; after all, it's all just so adorable and you can't believe how much your tiny human is learning and growing and expressing himself. However, these moments are best soaked up and remembered in the present. I definitely encourage you to keep a few things throughout the year. At most I've maybe kept 10 items per kid per year. No one will care more about your kid's paperwork than you do in that exact moment that you see it for the very first time. I imagine, I'll look at their paperwork a dozen more times throughout my life and I'll think back fondly. Saving all the schoolwork won't stop the clock from moving forward and won't keep your precious little people little forever. The only thing it will do is take up space in your house and mind. So recycle away, my friends! Look at it, savor it and toss it.

Part of getting organized and staying organized means clearing the clutter so once that step is out of the way, you can begin to get the paperwork in order. I highly recommend a filing folder container where you can hang file folders. As you can see from the photo above, I've labeled each hanging folder with the kid's name and grade (I plan on each child having their own container but for now it's all in one). I then collected the small amount of papers I had saved in various places throughout my home and placed them neatly (had to fold some of them to fit) into this container. It gives me peace of mind knowing the things I want to keep are safe and easy to locate. It's also easier for me to enjoy looking through the container because I know where everything is and I know how old my kid was when he made whatever it is I want to look at. I have a shared folder for little things I've saved that they drew or "made" before they were school aged. There's not much in that category because a lot of toddler "art" from preschool is mostly made by an adult and the kid just adds a couple little things so I don't feel like I need to save that (cute as it may be).

Sunday, October 20, 2019

About Halloween books for kids

I'm a sucker for books and especially holiday children's books. In our house we have a basket in the main room which has a rotating selection of books depending on the holiday or season. At the end of each holiday, I actually pack the books away so that they stay nice and are exciting when they come back out again the next year. Every year it's fun to add a couple new books to the mix. Since my kids are still what I would consider little, I haven't wanted to add any books that could potentially cause bad dreams so we've stuck to the sweet side of this season and strayed away from anything having to do with ghosts or super creepy characters. Celebrating each holiday with kids is made all the more special when you have traditions that can be excitedly anticipated and relied on. One day I hope to be able to read these books to my grandkids!

Are there any really good Halloween or Fall books that I'm missing? Let me know if you have any good recommendations!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

About savoring time with my kids

This is the last school year with my little girl at home. Next year, she'll be off to kindergarten and our life will look completely different. Next year will bring a lot of big changes. Most of which, I feel like I'm waiting for. I see them on the horizon; I want to prepare for them as much as possible; Because I know they're coming, I kind of just want to get there. So how do I thrive in this period that feels like just a lot of waiting? Waiting for things to change, waiting for things to begin.

It's so funny how much I want to just get there, to the change, while simultaneously wanting to savor this last year with my baby girl at home. Just me and her. It's even funnier how much I've wished to be through these hard years with babies, just surviving, but now that they're almost all gone I'm missing them and have begun to deeply understand how fleeting childhood is.

All I want to do is gobble up these years where the kids love all the cute, fun little kid things. The sweet holiday decorations, the days of making simple art, the darling clothes, the days when I can still pick out what they wear, the constant demand for cuddles at the end of the day, the hundreds of times they get out of bed to tell me something or give me a hug, just their sweet, sweet nature.

It seems like I could forego the good changes the future holds just to stay in these little years forever. Such is everything in my life. I get so focused on the end result that I forget to savor the moments in between. A trait I've loathed about myself for at least the past decade. Though I've been learning to savor small things: like family vacations to Palm Springs and warm summer days. Perhaps through learning to savor the small things, I can savor this seemingly long school year knowing I'll never have another year like this because we can't turn back time.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Fall Chex Mix

Fall Chex Mix Recipe
Chocolate Chex Cereal
Reese's Puffs
Pretzel Sticks
Brach's Autumn Mix
Nestle Chocolate Chips
Nestle Butterscotch Chips
Yogurt Covered Pretzels

Pour all ingredients into bowl, mix and voila! You can really add or subtract whatever ingredients you desire but I suggest a good mix of sweet, salty and chocolate. I was quite surprised at how addictive this mix was. Snackers beware of this highly addictive chex mix. We enjoyed this over the weekend and then I sent the rest with Matt to share with his work. After all, my mom always said, "share the fat"!

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Am I doing my best?

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim on denim in the sunflower field

Thomas Family Farm Sunflower Festival
Denim style in sunflower field | The Emerald Girl
Thomas Family Farm - Sunflower Field - The Emerald Girl Blog
Is my best really the best? Can I honestly consider "my best" the best if I'm not always continuing to learn how to do better?

Maya Angelou once said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better". I'd like to take that one step further to say that you should always be seeking to know better. We humans don't come equipped with all the knowledge we need - unfortunately. ;)

When a friend in my mom group said she was reading a book about whether or not people in general are doing the best they possibly can do, right off the bat, I thought yes. At least, I thought I was. Not necessarily everyone else. I'm a pusher, a dreamer, a goal maker, someone with aspirations. Of course, I'm trying my absolute best most of the time. However, as this idea has simmered in my mind over the last year, I've realized another key to doing one's best is prioritizing the things that really require your absolute best because we really cannot do it all well. Being intentional takes much energy so I am learning that I need to prioritize what I really, really want to spend my energy on if I want to do my best.

If I could pick one priority it would be my family. Included with family is raising kids among other things but for the sake of keeping this post short, I'll stick to one example. Earlier this year Matt and I attended a Biblical Parenting Principles and Practical Help class and it was then that I realized that if I wanted to raise God loving humans who are well prepared in all situations it was going to require so much more than I was doing. While I often sit and simmer in frustration wondering what my purpose in life is, I can be sure raising my kids is part of it and stepping up to do that well is my calling (at least one of my callings).

What does parenting well look like? Wouldn't we all like to know?!
While I cannot answer this question, I can share some things I know I need to focus on to do my best and to keep doing better.

  1. Take care of my body through proper nutrition, exercise and sleep. These are not my strong points and yet weigh heavily on my ability to do anything at my best, especially parenting.
  2. Learn more, be more informed. For example, I've recently started reading the book, "Tending the Heart of Virtue - How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination. This is opening my eyes to the lofty task of parents "to be mentors to our children in the moral life". (Guroian 4) Along with that it has made me realize that I need to keep pursuing how to cultivate my kids hearts at home because I don't know all the many things that could enrich this experience for us all.
  3. Spend quality time with my kids. This seems rather obvious but for any parents reading this, then you know, there's a hundred other things that I could be doing that seem more important than sitting down and playing with my kids - a hundred - but if sitting on the couch and reading one book makes my kids feel loved and feel valuable as well as teach them to be generous with their time in relationships, then the laundry can wait. (Granted, I don't think the laundry should wait all week, there is value in teaching kids to be good stewards of our home, but balance).
A person can really only do one thing well at a time so while I'd also love to dive deeper into creating a non-toxic home environment, write more and grow my blog, take photos for a magazine shoot, etc., I'm working on family first and that's the best I can do (for now).

***All photos taken at the Thomas Family Farm 1st Annual Sunflower Festival. Denim inspired outfit: top (j.crew), jeans (madewell), boots (hunter), bracelet (kiel james Patrick).

Thursday, September 19, 2019

On blogging more

They say that to have a successful blog, one needs to be quite targeted and niched down. I can see how that's true. After all, I don't stick around other people's accounts unless it's clear what I'm getting from that person. I can't be targeted. My brain is not targeted and my blog writing has always been and will always be an outpouring of the hundreds of things floating around in my head all day. I can't promise that you'll always get life tips or humorous personal anecdotes or pretty pictures. According to experts, the only people who will be interested in my type of blog, are people who already know and like me. My own mother doesn't read what I write though so I don't know what that says.

Being as it's my birthday month, I was going to write about what great gifts to the world all of us virgos are, thinking we're a rare treat but, I just looked it up, the reality is that it seems virgo may be one of the most common zodiac types. If that's true, I have many questions on why the world isn't operating in tip-top condition. We are ordered, detailed, methodical, logical, easy going... the list of wonderful attributes goes on. It all comes down to, well, just about every other thing that makes us who we are. I guess what's logical to me may not be what is most logical to someone else however, as  a true virgo, I would question whether or not that person really is logical. :oP

All of this to say, I plan on writing more. Developing my writing voice and technique more. I want to share a lot more organizational tips and tricks. I've always related to Marie Kondo. I was that weird child who would stay up late cleaning and organizing my things because it gave and continues to give me immense satisfaction to create structure and order. Maybe that's just a shy, introverted, virgo thing? I'll also continue to create pretty photos, most of which involve flowers. Lastly, I'll try to break through the fear of sharing. It would be nice, if something I write about makes any of you readers think about something, leave a comment, start a conversation.

Monday, September 9, 2019

About having hard conversations

You know all those things that feel confrontational so you just never address them? Ya, those things. If being an adult means you can handle what feels like hard convos, then I seriously suck. (For another post but this is why I don't feel like an adult, I thought adults had stuff figured out and under control - hint: just an illusion). However, I recently did have a hard conversation and I'll fill you in on the secret to what finally gave me the courage to speak up.

A person, who shall remain anonymous, was unknowingly driving me absolutely insane. I want to emphasize the word "unknowingly". The better side of me knew that this person did not know how they were effecting me although after days that turned into weeks of them continuing in the unbearable behavior, I had fabricated an entire story in my head about how and why this person was trying to ruin my life. I couldn't take it. I wanted to run away.

I either had to run away and never return or I had to face it head on. Instead of letting the false story of how this person wanted to drive me crazy so that I would leave continue on any more, I told myself a new story. A story that sounded more rationale and level headed. The story of me leaving. If I left, that person who was unknowingly driving me insane would ask me one question. That question was: why didn't you just tell me so I could stop? That's when I knew, I had to confront this person. Confront is really too harsh of a word. I mean people annoy other people all the time or do things without thinking all the time and with no ill intentions and we, the human race, should be able to talk to each other about things. Is there a lesser word for confront?

So I did. I was nervous. My eyes looked down. But I did it! The person I was speaking with was so receptive to what I was saying and had no clue and was glad that I told them.

The lesson is to give people the benefit of the doubt. First imagine they are just as reasonable as you and how you would respond if you were them. That can give you the courage you need to proceed because we shouldn't be running away from our problems. We're supposed to learn how to deal with one another with love and grace. Now I have a tiny bit more confidence in myself and can lean back on this experience in the future when I need to.

***Curious minds: this is not about any of my friends or family members***

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Of blooms and bursts of color

Summer always ends in a burst of deep colors and an explosion of blooms as the final encore. The bright deep colors blend perfectly with rich autumn hues as the leaves turn into brilliant shades of red, orange and yellow. The beginning of fall is my favorite season of all but it's only well received when the slow, warm days of summer become one too many and the anticipation of cozy nights, pumpkins everywhere and sweater weather hits the horizon.

This styled shoot is especially rewarding for me because I know it wasn't easy to do. I haven't been working much as make many compromises in order to be home more with my kids. One of these compromises means I haven't bought any new clothing type article for myself since the beginning of February. In this ultra-consumerism culture we live in, that is a hard feat. The only thing I bought for this project was the blooms and this may have been the only bunch I bought for myself all summer (another compromise). I had envisioned these flowers against an all white ensemble so that the colors would really pop. Then to set the bistro table, I didn't know what to do. I felt creatively stumped and was beginning to feel upset that I would just never be the photographer that I wanted to be because I don't have the resources to have perfect props and the perfect eye for styling. It may not seem like much but if you've ever attempted any sort of styling, you know it can be challenging to pull in the right details that tell the right story. I remembered something I noticed about one of my favorite styling duos (Kiel James Patrick and his wife Sarah Vickers), more is more! More details, give more to the story and create more feelings. My story says: hello, perfect summer evening, pull up a chair, grab a cold fruity drink and read a book amidst these beautiful blooms. It screams leisure and that is exactly what summer should scream. And this is exactly how my summer felt (more about that in another post).

Being forced to use only what you have really will push you creatively. At least it did for me with this styled shoot and, in my opinion, this has been my best styled set yet!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Favorite Things: Taylor Swift

There are not many bands or musical artists that I really know well. I'd fail any Jeopardy category that needed names of songs or artists even though I love listening to music. However, there is a small handful of artists who I know and have followed their careers through the years. Taylor Swift is one of those people. In the beginning, she was a girl that I hated to love but I've since had a complete 180. Taylor's career is inspiring and listening to her music motivates me to keep going creatively. She's a boss, headstrong and talented. I've compiled a list of my favorite songs into one easy to listen to Spotify playlist for your listening enjoyment. What're your fav Taylor songs? Sound off in the comments below!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Stop calling women crazy

Are women really crazy
This post is inspired by a single comment in this podcast and the most annoying song on the planet.

There's a stereotype, the crazy girlfriend, that crazy girl, etc. It's one of my biggest annoyances. I don't know when this started or why anyone ever thought it was warranted to call someone crazy. The idea is clearly rooted in a lack of empathy or compassion. It is destructive, divisive, demeaning and devaluing. That last, devalue, is a big one. I think calling a woman/wife/girlfriend/friend/co-worker/whatever crazy is meant to devalue that person and therefore negate anything they say or do. Cause if you can say that person is crazy, then nothing that person says will carry much value.

The dictionary defines crazy as mentally deranged, especially as manifested in a wild or aggressive way. This is an extreme word. A crazy person is that person you see walking down the street yelling profanities while hitting and kicking. A crazy person is not a female (or male but since this is about the stereotype will stick with female) who is expressing a thought, opinion or feeling that another person does not agree with or understand.

Words become thoughts and thoughts become words. They shape the entire essence of who you think someone is. So if you tell your significant other (or whoever) that they are crazy or tell your friends that chick is cuckoo just because you didn't like or understand what they were saying, it discredits them, like a scarlet letter, unfairly. Calling someone crazy is the easy way out. Putting yourself in someone else's shoes, trying to understand what motivates and moves them, that's the hard stuff. It's hard to understand people who think differently than our own mind does. Hopefully the point of relationships isn't to "win" but rather to show love and to better ourselves (PS this usually means doing the thing that's hard).

Monday, March 25, 2019

How I keep my wardrobe fresh

Spring Style
Spring Style
Spring Style
Switch over closet
Switch over closet
A few years ago, I started switching over my closet for clothes that were out of season until the next year. Living in the Pacific Northwest this is mostly not necessary since I can wear pretty much all of my clothes all year long but I would tire of looking at all of the same items every day. This is not a new concept at all

It all started with the end of winter one year. I was so sick and tired of the dark colors and festive patterns that I wanted to give everything away and start afresh. This seemed wasteful so I decided instead to pack them away and I could decide how I felt about them when the cold season returned. I wanted my closet to reflect my mood and my mood is often affected by the changing seasons. That Spring and Summer I so enjoyed the light and airy feeling in my closet! By the time Fall returned, I switched over my closet again and took out the packed away cold weather clothing and was excited to have shades of maroon, long sleeves and clothing I hadn't seen in 6 months - it all felt new again! This pattern has continued every 6 months now for a couple of years and each time I am surprised and delighted by my old favorite clothing items return to my closet. This alone has greatly reduced the amount of time and money I spend buying new clothes each season which has allowed me to purchase a few choice, quality items at higher price points since I am not needing to buy a great quantity.

Here are a few tips for how I decided which items to switch over in my wardrobe for Spring:
1) Check for color (darker colors are not as enticing to wear in the warm, brighter days)
2) Check for pattern (winter plaids don't need to see daylight savings time)
3) Check for weight (this is a no brainer, see ya next year heavy sweaters)

And there you have it! Switch over you closet to keep it feeling fresh and new all year round.

Do you have any tips for keeping your wardrobe fresh?

Shirt: J.Crew (old but I've seen this come back several years in a row so it could return) | Pants: Madewell (tall length) | Sunglasses: Anthropologie (old) | Camera: Instax Mini 9

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Sunday, March 17, 2019

How to really relax in Palm Springs

Being a snowbird in palm springs
If you're like me and you spend far too much time perusing photos on Instagram then you've no doubt seen a slew of trendy photos from Palm Springs. Bold, bright and colorful desert. From the Moorten Botanical Garden to mid-century architecture to uber trendy hotels, you've likely thought that looks like your next vacation destination. I want to tune you in to a little secret: that's just Palm Springs, the real joy of the desert is relaxing country club style under the sun in the shade of a palm tree next to a beautifully landscaped golf course.

The first time I visited Palm Desert it was 1998 and my family visited every year after that. What Florida is to New Englanders, the Southern California desert is to Pacific North Westerners. Sure it's fun to do and see some trendy things in Palm Springs but it's more fun to simply get away from it all. The desert is surrounded by mountains for hiking and exploring - just make sure to bring plenty of water. I remember being totally dehydrated hiking in direct sunlight one year and had to go back early. Of course there's cute shopping and tasty restaurants but, really, what destination doesn't boast that? Between lounging poolside, snapping photos of my favorite scenery and eating at the Tommy Bahama restaurant (#basic), I could easily spend my entire trip daydreaming about never ever leaving.

February's weather has been rather a miss the last couple of years and so it is a fickle friend. The bleak mid-winter is often the best time to leave the PNW but it can be a little disappointing to visit with only 60 degree weather. If you're not tied down to your child's school break schedule, March would be a perfect. Once you get into April, temperatures are easily in the 90-100 range. Personally, I'm good with that but it can be a little overwhelming when you're not used to it.

Below are some pics from my family vacation circa 1999 hiking in Coachella Valley and one of a view from the patio at my parents old home in Palm Desert.
palm desert sunset
Add caption

Saturday, March 9, 2019

How I use OneNote to organize my life

There are many programs out there but I've been using OneNote for the last three years. I used to have a physical notebook with dividers and would put all of the pertinent information in there. In fact, I held onto that method long after most organized people had started using digital tools for this type of stuff. Now that I am using OneNote, I realize this makes way more sense. It's environmentally friendly, available on the go and has virtually endless numbers of pages. I recommend having OneNote on any device that you use regularly.

I have a tab to organize our family. This tab houses our family mission statement, rules, monthly family meeting notes, family traditions, weekly meal plan and monthly budget amongst other things. It's a general overview. One thing I need to add to this tab is emergency information.

Next, there's a tab called "Cookbook". This is a modern day recipe box. It's organized into basic categories such as breakfast, lunch, dinner, etc. I only save recipes for meals that I actually make or that I believe I will actually make. This is not a Pinterest board free for all. Being able to use this list easily for weekly meal planning is essential and I don't want it to be overwhelming or burdensome. Since cooking is not my forte I have to pull out my phone when it's my turn to make a meal. Pro tip: keep auto-lock turned off so that you don't have to constantly log back in when the screen turns off. It is so handy and super easy to train yourself to physically turn the phone off when you're done using it.

Right after that is a tab called "Grocery Shopping List". This is the section that I really want to make work. The idea is that my husband and I can add items to the list together or individually and then whoever goes grocery shopping can pull out their phone to view the list and make shopping that much easier. Admittedly, we don't use this section very much at all. For one, my preferred method of grocery shopping is online and, for two, we just don't tend to be that structured about grocery shopping.

Other sections in my Notebook include: travel (each vacation can have its own tab), the kid's school, a tab for me, a tab for my husband (these are just sections for notes on whatever we want) and a tab for my blog (this is where I first write out a potential post before publishing to the blog).

While it may be tempting to just dump any and all information into your OneNote, DON’T! Too much is a bad thing. Get in the habit of deleting things. OneNote for organizing your life is not meant to literally house your entire life from now until death. Unless you plan on creating a new notebook for each year, this isn't a memory book. This is a tool to make managing your family and home easier and more streamlined. It's also helped me to declutter my inbox. For example, since the travel tab has a section for each vacation, I copy and paste flight, rental and other confirmations here and delete from my inbox. It's unnecessary to have this information in two places and it's much easier to have it all together in one location (OneNote) especially if you're married since you can both access it.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes! I'd love to hear about other home/life organization tips people are using.

Updated 09-19-19: This post was originally about OneNote 2016 which Microsoft will be discontinuing supporting for in 2020 sometime. I do not recommend Windows10 OneNote. The functionality is beyond poor, the ease of use is dismal. I am so disappointed when I absolutely loved the 2016 version of this app!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Why I'm not Sharing my Kids on Social Media

It's happened on more than one occasion. I'm out and about when I see a child that I recognize instantly and feel like I know even though I have never met them in real life. It's funny to me; seeing social media running around in the flesh. However, it also troubles me. The idea that someone who I don't really know could possibly feel like they know my kids because they've seen my kids over and over and over again on some social media platform concerns me for their safety. Not only that but the kids don't understand the internet or social media and it feels like an invasion of their privacy. Almost like a version of The Truman Show. People they don't know knowing them. As a parent it is my duty to keep my kids safe and part of how I practice that is being the mediator between them and the world of people.

Typically, I'm not one to judge. It's the parents decision on whether or not they share their kids lives to the public but there is definitely a level of awareness that should be practiced. If one has thousands of followers on Instagram, one should not be posting private details about where their child goes to school, what sports teams their kids play on, etc. It is naïve to think that no one with ill intentions is following. It shows a lack of good judgement

This does not apply to people who limit their followers to only those they really know and have private accounts. Perhaps, obvious.

That is it. Short, sweet and straight to the point.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A Weekend Adventure to the Mountains

Snowy Gold Creek Pond Snoqualmie Pass Cascade Mountains
Snowy Gold Creek Pond Snoqualmie Pass Cascade Mountains
Snowy Gold Creek Pond Snoqualmie Pass Cascade Mountains
Snowy Gold Creek Pond Snoqualmie Pass Cascade Mountains
It's important to find something that excites you and do it. At least sometimes or every once in while. My adrenaline was pumping as we drove up to Snoqualmie Pass this last weekend to fly the drone over the snow covered trees. Maybe this wouldn't be exciting for you. That's OK. It reminded me of what I consider the most exciting experience of my life. I know I've shared this before but it was the time Matt & I randomly decided to drive down to San Francisco spur of the moment for a long weekend. I just like that. I like going places and I like spur of the moment decisions to do something different and unexpected.

The aerial pictures above are obviously shot with the drone and the others are with my iPhone. I'm extremely drawn to the first shot. All those people in groups with their brightly colored coats is pleasing to the eye and the imagination. This is a huge statement but it just might be one of my most favorite photos I've ever taken which is funny because at first glance I passed over it. "There's people in that shot making it messy", I thought.

One final note, I've been experimenting using this new photo editing app, Filmborn. All of the above photos were editing with a preset from the Filmborn app. There's something so beautiful and ethereal almost about film but I really am more drawn to sharp, clear, bright, loud colors in my editing which feels like a complete contrast to the soft film like appearance. Half of me is beautiful and half of me is just left of that. 😂

Sunday, January 13, 2019

On Lowering my Sugar Consumption

It is so trendy to talk about eating less sugar which is so annoying but also, it shouldn't be annoying at all. I should love when good things are trending but this is just so cliché and there's nothing I can do about that except share my own experience.

The story is actually much bigger and longer but for purposes of this blog post, I will condense and be as direct as I can possibly be. I have a major sweet tooth. Those that know me, know that I do enjoy something sweet approximately once per hour. To cut the long story short, I believe that the high sugar consumption is one of the leading causes of my poor health. After kind of lowering my gluten and dairy intake, that helped me to cut the crap during the day. By crap, I mean cookies, candies, brownies, cakes, etc. Now, I'm only eating something sweet at night and other than my current addiction to the Lemon Perfection frozen custard by Snoqualmie Ice Cream, it's usually just an Outshine Fruit Popsicle. This, I think, has greatly resolved the inflammation in my body. Either that or I'm just on my longest streak of not being sick in the last 3 months. See, I have been sick more days than not since Fall started and now, at the time of this writing, I have not been sick for around 12 days. It's actually a miracle, so thank you to those have been praying for me!

Who knows - it may have nothing to do with my sugar intake at all but it's definitely not hurting me to not eat so much sugar and, ultimately, I know it's better for my body. I actually feel like I don't want to eat much sugar during the day because I'm so paranoid of getting sick again. The cravings are still there but I fight them off by eating Fritos, RX Bars or apples with almond butter.

This year I am focusing on feeling better through more movement and less sugar consumption because if things continue on the same trajectory, then I seriously don't want to continue on. And I want to continue on, so things are changing. I want to have the energy to care for my family, to care for my job and to care for my dreams.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

On Becoming a Mom

This week one of my oldest friends had a baby. Old as in I’ve known her the longest. Not old as in age. It’s got me thinking a lot about the time when I had a baby. And what a horrible experience having my first baby was. Because I’ve never written about it, I’m gonna give it a go and tell you three tips I would tell my myself when I was becoming a mom.

I’m not talking about labor and delivery. That is no fun no matter how you dice it or slice it. I am talking about the days, weeks and months postpartum. Whenever I describe to people how I felt after I had my first baby, I say it is like when you’re watching a movie and a bomb goes off and suddenly all you hear is this ringing noise and everything is sort of slowmo and you look around and everyone else is moving but you’re just sitting there with your ears ringing, feeling confused, frightened and bewildered. Along with that delightful bag of goodies your body is doing things that you had no idea it was going to do (because you refused to read or look at any materials regarding what was going to happen to you). If you’re already a mom or perhaps in the medical field then you know what I’m talking about.

Along with the aforementioned goodie bag of feelings, I had really extreme mama bear anxiety or baby blues. Whatever those hormones are that attack you after you give birth, I felt very protective over Jack and did not want most people near him. The list of people who I felt safe and comfortable with was limited to three. Anyone not on that list who held him sent me into such a panic I would just cry uncontrollably (alone in my room hiding); even the thought of people holding my baby who weren’t on the list would send me into tears for hours and hours and hours. I didn't want people coming over but they just kept coming and no one, **cough, cough, my husband**, would say no to people. PS Matt, I really do love you.

This leads me to…
Tip # 1: Honor your feelings throughout your pregnancy but especially during postpartum. Trust that they will subside in the right timing. Do not put someone else’s feelings and desires above yours and get your spouse on board with this.

Something that makes me laugh now is the fact that I refused to buy a baby carrier car seat because I wasn’t going to be some “mom”. Talk about denial. The first time Matt and I took the baby out of the house to a favorite coffee shop and we had to carry this tiny two week old baby around is when I realized why people get baby carriers. You need to be able to use your hands. Along with this real life comedy, I was super embarrassed to push a stroller! Literally, rolling on the floor laughing now. I also used to tell people that I was going to have the baby call me "Jen" because, again, with the mom thing. (Yes, this was a planned pregnancy, in case you're wondering). All of this points to the fact that becoming a mom is totally transformative and truly changes your identity from the very core.


Tip #2: You need a baby carrier and it's totally normal for a mom to be pushing a stroller. Literally no one is looking at you thinking anything at all.

The experience with my second baby was something quite different. And thank God for that! I was already a mom so there were no feelings of insecurity about who I was haunting my every move. (Well, actually, I'm still painfully insecure but in terms of being a mom, baby #2 wasn't told to call me "Jen"). The first three months with Morgan were tremendously more enjoyable. Again, with the whacky postpartum hormones, I missed her so much when she slept, I actually felt happy when she woke me up in the middle of the night. I feel I must stress that this only lasted the first 3 months not for her entire babyhood. I relaxed on the super strict schedule we had kept with baby #1. We would actually hold her to sleep and let her sleep on us while watching TV in the evening (just during the first three months or as my sister calls it, the 4th trimester, mind you).


Tip #3: If you find a baby sleep site or book and feel that is imperative you follow the schedule to a T or else the whole world might fall apart -- it's not true. It is such a sweet experience to hold a sleeping baby and something I wish I had experienced with my first. Strict adherence to the rules is not the only method to yield positive results.