Peaks of the Week

I'm posting my Peaks post a little later than I wanted this week, but only because I have been so much busier than normal! This week was one of errands, laundry catch up, cooking, and birthday fun. Hudson turns three years old today, and when I asked him a month ago if he would like me to throw him a big party or if he'd rather go do something, he responded very surely, "I wanna go on the train to the cupcake store." Translation: he wants to take the train to Seaport Village in San Diego where we walked the beach and went to a famous cupcake shop and rode a carousel (best day ever). I was thrilled with his choice, since I'm not really in a party-throwing phase of life with the baby and everything. So tomorrow we will be enjoying a train ride and cupcakes and carousel rides.

But for now let's get to the peaks of this week.

1. This week was my second week of hardcore clean, paleo eating. I got the low-carb flu, which was awful, but I got over it in a couple days by upping my healthy fat intake, and now that I'm over that initial hump, I've been feeling amazing. On Saturday, Brian and I disagreed on something and made a bet about who was right, and whoever won could get a small non-paleo treat. I won (always) and chose to enjoy a crisp Coke from McDonald's. I got my hands on that Coke and took a big gulp didn't even taste good to me! It was surreal. I ended up letting the kids have some then throwing it away. I guess my taste is changing from the clean eating, which is a really big deal for me, considering how I used to eat!

2. Hudson's hair is now long enough for a mun (man bun). I can't even handle it!

3. Our cat, Pepper had kittens a few weeks ago, and they're starting to get playful and bigger and more adorable! It's such a sweet little treat to have them in the house all the time, watch them play, and see the kids enjoying their cuteness so much.

Pepper is enjoying motherhood, but she has her moments...

[excuse my sister's screeching laugh]

4. I have really committed to running, and I've been reading tons of information about how to do it right, how to avoid injury (I got shin splints a couple weeks ago and it sucked), and how important a good shoe is. Brian took me to The Running Center this week, where they analyzed my gait via slow-mo video recording, and I got the perfect shoe for the way my feet land when I run. It's like landing on air when I run, I love them! I also went for my first run at dusk instead of early morning, and it was a totally different experience. I loved ending the day like that.

5. We had a small birthday dinner for family at our house on Saturday night to celebrate our little Buggy. Brian is a grill master, so we did burgers (wrapped in butter lettuce for me and Brian), sweet potato fries, and watermelon salad. I decided I was due for a sweet treat, so instead of baking a normal cake and passing on having a slice, I tried making a chocolate paleo cake. I was pretty sure it wasn't going to turn out very good because of how clean paleo ingredients are, but this cake was moist, sweet, covered in chocolate ganache, and delicious! You can find the recipe here.

This week was a good, busy one for me! What were the peaks of your week??

Stylish Jeans for Your Mom Body + How to Wear Mid-Rise Jeans

As you may already know, Emmett is six months old, so my body is still in that weird post-partum stage where my old clothes don't fit. Plus, the fact that he was my fourth child means the saggy belly and love handles are more of a problem than they have been after past pregnancies. If you're one of those moms who goes back to her newlywed weight right after having a baby or is in a size smaller than 6 right now, walk away...

If you're curvy, flabby, freshly post-partum, or look like you're smuggling throw pillows in your current jeans, stick around. This post is for you.

First of all, I'm not afraid to say my size. I'm not short (5' 7") and I'm super curvy (baby got back over here). I wear a size 12 jean right now, and just went down from a 14, thanks to this girl. I've got post-baby belly goin' on and am slowly getting healthier, but it's a long process after housing four tiny humans.

Normally, I hate being dressed, jeans are uncomfortable, and I really only put on an outfit when I have to, then get into my sweats as soon as I get home.

That being said, I went to Old Navy to look for jeans, even though I had recently tried out all their styles and none of them worked for me. I had gotten an email about their new "boyfriend" line, and I have had great luck with boyfriend jeans from Gap in the past.

I love these jeans. Seriously, I live in them now.

They are the only pair of jeans that I stay in all day. I don't feel like I need to get into my sweats when I get home or when I need to clean or do my usual housework thing. I even kept them on as I snuggled in for a nap with the baby yesterday! (that's when I realized these jeans deserve a blog post)

These jeans are stretchy but not skinny and clingy, they are super flattering, come in a variety of washes, are medium-rise to hide belly squish, but not too tight that they squeeze the crap out of you when you sit. A major mommy bingo- that's all I can say. I have tried on a lot of jeans since Emmett was born, including boyfriend jeans from Target (which I settled for and bought, but now never wear), and Old Navy just takes the cake with these ones.

If you've been looking for the perfect pair of jeans and you've got curves, get yourself to the dressing room, my friend! I think you'll love these.

They come in straight leg (these are the ones I bought), skinny, distressed, and even maternity.

I used to shy away from mid-rise pants because they make your butt look longer than it is, and let's face it... that's what mom jeans do.

But! There is a way to wear jeans that are made to flatter your mom body without looking like you're rockin' mom jeans. Follow these rules and you're good.

If you want to play it safe, choose a dark wash. When most people think of "mom jeans" they're thinking light wash and butt-widening. A dark wash is flattering and safe for most booties. When I'm shopping for jeans, the thing I ask myself is "Do these jeans take off a good ten pounds?" The answer should always be yes for you to spend money on jeans.

If you do choose a light wash, choose carefully. Light wash jeans are back in style in a big way. I myself have a pair of light wash boyfriend jeans. You can pull it off if you love the look of them, you just have to be careful. Go with a distressed look. Nobody's thinking "mom" when there are strategically-placed rips in your jeans.

Style them well. The key to steering clear of mom jean territory lies in how you style them. My favorite thing for my body type, is to pair my jeans with a loose, flowy top that hits at my hip in the front, and is longer in the back. Doing this distracts from the hips and butt, flatters me, and evens out my silhouette.

Dress them up. Since I'm breastfeeding, dresses haven't been a practical option for awhile. If where I'm going calls for a little dressing up (church, date night, a baby shower) I pair my jeans with a simple pump, and a button-up cuff-sleeve top. Sometimes I'll even just wear one of my boyfriend tees and a statement necklace to dress it up. You don't have to be a fashion icon or have loads of money to have options in your closet and look great!

Or dress them down. For normal days spent running errands or meeting friends at the park, I put on a boyfriend tee with my jeans and some cute tennies. Target has loads of cute and cheap tennis shoes in different colors and prints that you can add to your basics. They're comfy too! Right now, since I spent my budget for post-partum clothes and I don't want to get anything else until I lose weight, you can find me in my jeans, a boyfriend tee, and cute tennies pretty much on the daily. Gotta keep it simple when life is this crazy!

Old Navy has an entire "boyfriend" line now that includes shirts, sandals, and tank tops. The tank tops were a no-go for me, but I loved the tees so much I bought one in every color to get me through this post-baby stage! Choose your budget, know your body type, and get a few staple pieces. You'll get through this awkward phase of getting dressed soon, and there's no reason you can't still feel great in the meantime!

This is not a sponsored post for Old Navy. This is just a PSA for my fellow mamas, a passing along of helpful information from me to you. If you have any mom-style or beauty questions, or something that's always been hard for you to find, try, or figure out, shoot me a comment or an email!

Peaks of the Week

On Sunday night my stomach started to churn a little, and I woke up at 4am Monday super sick. I've been feeling queasy off and on the whole week thanks to this stupid stomach bug, but I think yesterday was the end of it. I basically drank my body weight in Gatorade and nibbled on crackers all week. Even so, it had its peaks!

1. Mother's Day! I woke up Sunday morning to a homemade pancake breakfast, a freshly ground bag of Pike's Place roast [my faaaaavorite!], and the mug I've had my eye on for a long time. So sweet!

2. We were only 15 minutes late to church this week. That's a record since we hit four kids. Holla! [Emmett was sleeping in his car seat]

3. I got my kitchen cleaned [even the floors this time!] and I rearranged a few things. Always makes me feel refreshed. I also put my new succulents from the farmers market in my new cement pots. See the baby one by the straws? All the heart eyes!

4. I am down to ONE pump of syrup in my iced coffee. O N E! Normally, I'd only be drinking it with a small splash of half + half, but with Emmett's sensitivity to dairy, I've had to opt for pumps of flavored syrup, and I am down from 3 pumps. Woo! I am drinking my coffee at home pretty much black- just a tiny splash of lactose-free creamer. I'm pretty proud of myself for cutting out the crazy amounts of sugar that I was pouring into my daily cuppa. Small victories can make a big difference!

5. Being sick most of the week sucked, but it did mean lots of snuggling with this little chubs, which is a peak for sure!

6. Being sick also meant binge-watching a new series on Netflix. I browsed for awhile searching for something new to dive into and landed on Hart of Dixie. I didn't think I would like it, and while I did find some of the acting a little cheesy, it was just what I needed to distract me from all the stomach churning that was going on. I heard they just canceled the show though after five seasons though so... shoot.

I hope you all had a great week and have an even better one coming to you! Feel free to share the peaks of your week in the comments :)

How to Stop Checking Your Phone All the Time

"Time is what we want most, but we use worst."
-William Penn

We live in a day that a post with this title is completely necessary, and although that is sad to me, I've been a part of the problem myself.

I've been on both ends- sitting with a friend who is checking her phone while I'm awkwardly waiting for her to put it down and engage in conversation with me, and being the one who realizes it's been a minute since I checked my phone and trying to fight the urge while being in the middle of real life.

Either way, the addiction to technology in today's society makes me kind of wish I was born in a different era. I recently realized I was completely addicted to my iPhone. I kept not noticing my kids talking to me, standing in one spot of the house scrolling through social media apps, and anxiously awaiting the next time I could grab my phone and check how many Instagram alerts I had. Sad reality. Something needed to change.

This is my one and only life! This is my only shot at raising these kids God entrusted me with. Every day matters and has the potential to become a memory permanently imprinted on the minds of my littles. Do I really want those memories to include me staring down at my phone? No freakin' way. I knew I was going to have to face the facts and be hard on myself, to bring purpose to this area of my life, so I set some ground rules.

When you're struggling with something, when something has become an idol in your life, you are commanded by God to put it in its place. This isn't some silly issue that is okay because everyone struggles with it. You are called to be holy, set apart, and so am I.

And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God...

Exodus 20:1-3

Here are some rules to help break the cycle of checking your phone all the time that have helped me forget about it and get on with real life.

Assign your phone to one location. I think one of the main reasons our smart phones are so addicting is because they take what used to be stationary (the internet on a computer) and make it mobile, accessible anywhere and everywhere, with the touch of a button. That's tempting for sure! But just because technology offers us so much doesn't mean we have to take it. I chose the little chest of drawers in my entryway, because it's out of the main rooms I spend my days in (kitchen and living room) but near enough that I can hear it if Brian is calling. I do allow myself to bring my phone with me to my bedroom when I nurse the baby to sleep, which means I've got about twenty minutes to browse Instagram and respond to text messages several times a day. That's when I'm on my phone, otherwise, it's pretty much just sitting in the entryway.

Delete the Facebook app from your smart phone. Almost any time I checked my text messages or used my phone to call someone, I'd see the little blue Facebook icon I would always click on it without even thinking! Why do we really need the Facebook app on our phones? Do we really need to be able to see what our high school girlfriend is doing for lunch at a moment's notice? No. Facebook is one thing that can be browsed during downtime on the computer, or on your phone's browser. No need for an app to give us constant easy access.

Turn off all notifications. I have turned off all the notifications on my phone except for calls and texts. Having the screen light up with app notifications is only distracting and harmful to the purpose of my days. Plus, when I do take a minute to check my phone, all I see are missed texts and calls, and I can get back to people who matter most without the distraction of a distant relative's comment on my photo. If someone isn't important enough in your life to have your phone number, they shouldn't be able to get a hold of you any time via social media alerts on your phone. Wasted time.

Choose carefully who you spend time responding to. I feel like one of the biggest problems with texting, as helpful as it can be, is that everyone feels like they can get a hold of you at any time, and they expect you to respond, quickly. I have four kids, so I'd think people would get it when I don't respond for several hours, but I have gotten a few texts saying things like "hello?! are you ignoring me? are my texts coming through? answer me!" Seriously? Who are you to feel entitled to me dropping everything and answering your text message in the middle of raising tiny humans and managing a home? It can wait, and it will wait. I don't want this to sound unkind, but I feel we should be very choosy with who we respond to with texting. Think about it... if someone that isn't in your immediate relationship circle (your family, your husband, your closest friend) is sending you text messages, and you respond right away, you just gave them your time. You took time away from your family, your kids, your job, whatever it is you do all day, and you gave it to them. You also set a precedent, letting them know they can text you anytime and get a response. This same principle goes for the topic you're texting about. Choose wisely how you spend your time!

"Ordinary people think merely of spending time. Great people think of using it."

Author Unknown

Maybe this sounds ridiculous to you, and if so I'd say that's a good thing because maybe you don't have a smart phone addiction! Maybe you don't have a smart phone but you're on the computer all the time? Most of us have been addicted to technology in one way or another, and do have a problem and need crazy rules to put the phones down, keep them down, and live life. Set some rules and be strict with yourself. Don't let something as meaningless as Facebook rob you of precious time.

"Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much can be done if we are always doing."

Thomas Jefferson

Velvet Crumb Cake

Last week, I mentioned on my Instagram that my mom and I came across a box of my great grandmother's recipe cards. We had such a nice time reading her handwriting and talking about all the yummy things she used to bake. I knew we had to make at least some of the recipes, and I had the thought of sharing the results on the blog with you all. We set a time once a week for my mom to come over and bake with me, and we chose enough baking recipes to last the rest of this year! Some of the recipes were weird, like... how will this taste good kind of weird... but that just made us want to try them more! We had our first baking session on Friday and the result was deeeeeeliiiiishhhh.
Bessie's Velvet Crumb Cake 

1 1/3 cup Bisquick
3/4 cup sugar
2 tbsp shortening
1 egg
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla


3 tbsp soft butter
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
2 tbsp cream
1/2 cup coconut or nuts (we used 1/2 cup crushed walnuts, then sprinkled coconut shavings on top as well)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour small square baking dish.
Mix bisquick and sugar together. Add shortening, egg, and only 1/4 cup of the milk. Beat hard for one minute.
Gradually stir in the rest of the milk (1/2 cup) and vanilla extract. Beat for 30 seconds.
Bake for 35-40 minutes.


Mix all ingredients together. Spread on baked cake and put under broiler for 3-5 minutes until bubbly and brown.

For the Mom Who Feels Like A Failure, On Mother's Day

I've felt how you do before, friend. You're tired, burnt out, defeated, unsure how you're going to get out of this rut. Maybe you find yourself yelling way more than you'd like to admit. Maybe you just aren't really joyful in your role as Mom right now. Maybe you're surviving rather than thriving, and you can't see a light at the end of this lonely tunnel.

I know.

We go through seasons, and I will surely find myself in a darker place again one day, but right now I'm writing this for you from the other side, from the light you hope is there but can't see. I have come through the pit of depression and been through the drudge of the mundane. There was a time when it seemed like every step I took was wrong, every time I chose joy and tried to be the good mom, the happy mom, I would make mistake after mistake after mistake. I just wanted the days to pass by so that I could sleep, so that I could see my husband and hear the quiet of nighttime. Mother's Day came, and I didn't feel very worthy of being celebrated. It didn't seem right to spend a whole day celebrating what I was doing. I didn't feel any purpose in my motherhood. To be honest, most days I felt like all I was doing right was making my kids some food and making sure they stayed alive. Bare. Minimum. 

Let me tell you something, friend. The reason you feel so tired and defeated is because of what you are giving of yourself for your family- and that deserves honoring.

You are serving your family.
You are loving your kids unconditionally as only a mom can do.
You are the heart of your home.

And whether you feel like you're at your best or not doesn't matter. You're here, you're trying.

You need to believe that there is grace for you, that God can bridge the gaps caused by your humanity. You need to believe that you deserve to be fussed over, to be served breakfast, to be given sweet handmade trinkets and cards, to be taken to lunch and hugged and kissed. You deserve celebration just as much as the mom who is in her best season of motherhood. You deserve to have a day dedicated to what you do... don't rob yourself of that. Let this Mother's Day bring you joy, be a deep breath for you, and remind you why you do what you do. Your weariness makes perfect sense, and this day is well-deserved. Let go of the shame in your life and embrace the love waiting for you today.

Happy Mother's Day, sweet mama. Today is for you.

Peaks of the Week [and a giveaway!]

I have been wanting to make my blog more about my life and my family for a long time, but because of the way I have used it in the past, I wasn't sure how to transition without frustrating my followers. I even started another blog separately, but it is so difficult to run two blogs with four kids! I have finally decided that this is my blog, and if I want it to be a place where I share my heart and what God has been showing me, beauty and style tips, and what my family has been up to, then I can! Hearing positive feedback from you all about it helped a lot too, so thank you!

I decided to start a weekly series that will be a recap of the positive parts of each week, giving me the opportunity to share what's going on with us, be more personal, and focus on the good parts of my week. The other day on my Facebook page, I took a vote on what this weekly series should be called. "Peaks of the Week" won by a landslide, and since it was a suggestion made by my best friend, I loved it too, so here it is! Pssst... there's a giveaway at the end of this post that you're gonna want to enter ;)

Peaks of the Week

1. I've been wanting to try one of those super bright, almost fluorescent-looking lip colors. I keep seeing them on Pinterest and admiring them, but I was afraid to try something so bold. I turned 28 last month and vowed to try more things that scare me, so I hit the Revlon section and picked up a bright fuschia color. I love it! I'll definitely wear it more often.

2. Brian's normal schedule is 10:30am- 8:00pm, but he usually leaves at 7:00 to get overtime. One morning this week, he stayed home until he had to leave, and we spent the extra time taking a family walk. I recently got back into running, so I did my routine with my Couch to 5K app while everyone else walked behind me, then we went to the park by our house and the kids played. It was so nice to have Brian home with us for the start of our day!

3. My mom found a box of my great grandmother's recipe cards. It was such a neat experience going through them, seeing her handwriting, and all the yummy baked treats she used to make. My mom remembered eating most of them! We had the idea to choose the ones that looked best and bake one each week together, so we made our first one this morning, and will be sharing the recipes here on the blog as we go.

 4. On Monday I was feeling really stressed. Our plans to move out of state have come to a standstill, and everything is up in the air. We are in waiting and dying to know what's coming next and what God wants for our family. Monday is Brian's last day off each week, so I was stressing about having to start over and do a whole week again because I just wasn't feeling rejuvenated. We made a split decision, got in the car, and headed to the beach. It was so nice to walk next to the ocean, breathe deep, and just be for a little bit. It totally refreshed my spirit, and made me think that I don't ever want to live away from the beach.

5. I love checking the mail and getting goodies! I received some cloth napkins from my sweet friend, Elisha's Etsy shop. On a particularly rough day, I put the kids down for their naps and had Bella spend quiet time in her room while I made myself lunch. I decided to christen my new cloth napkins and make myself feel special, and set up a cute little spot to eat at my dining room table. 

I love these napkins! I decided to give away a set of four from Elisha's Handmade Nest in the pattern shown above, because these will make a summer BBQ or family dinner so much sweeter. Elisha is also offering my readers a 15% off coupon code! Just enter "purposefulhousewife" at checkout. Enter below for your chance to win and upgrade your spring and summer time table :)

What were the peaks of your week?

Minimalism + Motherhood: A Day in the Life of No TV and Less Toys

Photo from my Instagram.

After last week's post about how we're giving our kids a 1970's childhood, I received some questions about what our typical day looks like. With no TV on most days, and very little toys in the house, my kids have had to get creative, which is exactly what Brian and I want them to do. We feel strongly about not catering to or entertaining our kids on a daily basis, and want them to have loads of free time for imaginative and creative play. Bringing a minimalist sort of lifestyle into our home has proven to have so many benefits. Our kids' bond is stronger and closer, I have less of a burden to keep them busy throughout our days at home, I have seen their imaginations blossom, and a spirit of gratitude is being cultivated.

TV used to be sort of a crutch for me as a mom, and it was just a background noise that was on pretty much all the time. My kids weren't even watching it, I found myself constantly irritable and frustrated because the house was never peaceful. Once I decided to shut it off, it was an adjustment for all of us, but things got better. We got better as a family. I started playing quiet music in the house while we went about our days and the atmosphere was just so much more peaceful and productive. I was a much calmer, happier mom, too.

Now that you have a short summary of why we are raising our kids this way, I think an hourly outline of our typical day will answer most questions. Keep in mind that this is how our typical days at home are spent. I normally run errands one day a week, occasionally I'll spend one day out of the house, and we have Sundays and Mondays as our weekends with Brian home. We are not currently homeschooling Bella- she goes to school on the "PM schedule" for kindergarten, which is 10:00-1:45 every day of the week.

5:30-6:30AM Emmett's morning feeding. I'm still half-asleep.
6:45-7:00 I get out of bed, make my coffee, Brian's Bulletproof coffee, and spend a little time reading a devotional. The kids are usually awake, but they know not to come out of their rooms until 8:00, so they're usually playing quietly in the boys' room. Brian is normally getting dressed for his day while I put his lunch together and drink my coffee. Three times a week I go for a 25 minute run.
8:00 Kids come out of their rooms and I serve them breakfast. Brian is leaving for work by now if he didn't leave earlier. I make my breakfast smoothie, and clean up the kitchen.
8:30 Kids get dressed. If they're dressed and put together, I feel on top of my day, even if I look horrid.
9:00 Send kids outside to play. I start the laundry, get dressed (most days this is just a little powder and deodorant), and feed Emmett his breakfast solids.
10:00 Bella goes to school.
10:30 Kids get a small snack, then play (train tracks, wooden blocks, Legos, or puzzle) while I nurse the baby down for his morning nap and do some housework. We always have music playing and the windows open :)
12:00 Lunch time. We eat together, then everybody helps clean up and we do something together (walk to the park, or we'll eat our lunch outside picnic-style and linger for an hour or so while the kids climb the tree or run around). I might finish some chores, and I feed the baby.
1:45 Pick up Bella.
2:00 Nap time/quiet time. This involves everybody, no matter how old. I cannot be a happy mom for my kids without a little break in the middle of my long days! Bella will color or play quietly in her room, every once in awhile I let her watch a movie and rest on the couch, both boys take an actual nap, and I'll nurse the baby down, then either nap with him or catch up on housework if needed. Sometimes I just veg out with a book or an episode of Grey's or New Girl. This is my time, an oasis for me in the middle of the mundane. I do whatever will make me feel refreshed or caught up.
4:00-4:30 Kids wake up and have a small snack. Then they get a choice: play outside or have some constructive/creative play time. They'll go out back on the swing set, or make up a scenario to play in the living room (usually they're animals in the jungle or something silly like that), or they all do arts/crafts together, or they build a fort and bring a bunch of books into it...whatever they decide, they almost always choose to play together, and they always keep themselves very entertained. I am normally nursing the baby or folding laundry.
5:00 I start dinner.
5:30 Dinner time. Everyone helps set the table, Bella normally helps me prepare the meal, and everyone cleans up the kitchen/table afterward. I try to eat with the kids whenever possible, but most of the time I'm sitting with them and feeding Emmett his solids.
6:30 Baths, get ready for bed, nightly pick up. The kids pick up whatever is out of place- toys, blankets, books, trash, sippy cups- and they pick up their rooms.
7:30 Bedtime. Bella is usually allowed 30 minutes of quiet time with her light on before she's required to actually go to sleep. Sometimes I'll talk with her for a little bit or read to her extra.
8:00 I wrap up any of my chores that were left undone (usually just putting laundry away) and this is when I do my blogging. Sometimes I'm just brain dead and will veg out until Brian gets home, which is normally around 9:30. We are normally asleep by 10:30-11.

I hope this helps and inspires you and isn't a totally useless post, ha! One thing I keep hearing is that other moms don't think their kids can play on their own like mine do, or they think my kids are just different and they can't get rid of TV or purge the toys. Yes you can! We used to have the TV on all the time, and our kids' rooms were constantly a disaster- full of crap and toys everywhere- but the kids were constantly bored! Once we turned the TV off and got rid of the noise and the junk, it took a little bit, but our kids transformed, and so did our days. You can do it!

If I left anything out or if you have any more questions, please feel free to leave me a comment! I'll always get back to you :)

3 Things To Do After A Hard Day of Motherhood

You know the feeling. Your legs ache, your feet hurt, your head is clouded, all you want is to climb into bed, and you haven't even started dinner yet. I've been there so many times, and since I have a husband who works extra hours so that I can stay home with our little tribe, I don't get any relief until the kids are in bed.

But you know what? This is my one and only chance at life. This is where God has placed me, and I am called to serve in this season with a joyful spirit. And so are you. 

"Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name." Hebrews 13:15 (emphasis mine)

So, friend, together we are going to learn how to praise God in the middle of an old battle we feel like we're always losing. I'm sharing with you the things that refresh me at the end of a long day, when I know I have to start all over again after just a handful of short hours of sleep.

1. Put the kids to bed early. I feel like so many moms think this is somehow not okay? You're the mom, lady! If you've had it and you can't handle the final hour or two of a hard day, put the kids to bed! They need to listen to you. They don't have to physically go to sleep, but they can be in their beds with a book or a quiet toy until they do. Use this precious extra time to put headphones in and listen to a relaxing song, take a bubble bath, light some candles and read a book, veg out on your favorite Netflix series... whatever you need. You'll be a better mom tomorrow if you take time for yourself tonight.

2. Do one helpful thing for tomorrow's you. Don't get the whole house in order before you finally hit the pillow, just do one helpful thing that will make your morning routine a little easier. Give yourself a break and just pick one daunting task, like the dishes, and make it as pleasant as you can (headphones in, an encouraging podcast on). When it's done, stop. You're finished for today, mama. Go rest.

3. Text a friend. There's something about feeling the camaraderie of motherhood that makes the hard days bearable. Text the friend that gets you, that gets life, that gets the throes of motherhood and tell her about your day or just how you're feeling. Let her encourage you, just listen to you, or make you giggle, whatever her way is of loving on you. Know you're not alone.

Motherhood isn't for the faint of heart. It's okay to have days when you just don't know if you can take another minute of it- you're a human being! But don't just sit in the trenches crying, take care of yourself. You can't keep giving to your husband and kids if your well is all dried up.

How We Are Giving Our Kids a 70's Childhood in Technology-Obsessed 2015

This post isn't meant to make anyone feel like a bad parent. Neither is it meant to shine a spotlight on me or make me look wiser than the rest of the world, because I couldn't be farther from that. Let me be clear that what I want this post to do is open eyes and hearts. I want it to set parents free. I want it to set kids free. I want it to make people think, take a step back, reevaluate. I wrote this post to share what we are doing that has brought incredible beauty into our children's lives. Maybe this post won't do anything for you. Maybe it won't stir anything in you or it just won't resonate with you. That's okay. We only need to change what we feel convicted about by the gentle leading of the Spirit. But if, as you're reading this or when you reach the end, those self-shaming thoughts start to creep in, promise me something. Promise me you'll throw them away. You don't have to feel guilty, you don't have to feel like you're a bad mom, you just need to get up and do something, go be better than you were before you clicked this link. 

"I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better." -Maya Angelou

My husband and I are young, twenty-eight to be exact, and we have four kids. We grew up in the 90's, so you may be wondering what I'm doing writing a post about raising kids like kids were raised in the 1970's. I guess I wouldn't know exactly what that would look like, but there's a point to the title I chose for this post. The point is that in the 1970's, kids were being raised to play, to get dirty outside, to entertain themselves, to use their imaginations. They weren't sitting on a bench at a park on an iPad, or looking up YouTube videos on a computer while the rest of the family eats. Sure, a 70's kid watched some TV, and of course there were some parents who let them watch as much as they'd like. But technology wasn't behind every single part of their day; technology wasn't the center of their world. Technology hadn't taken over childhood yet. Now, in 2015, it has.

That thing I said about kids at the park on their iPads? Really happened. I've seen moms at the park checking on their older kid because they're watching a movie on the car DVD player while their siblings play. I've seen epic meltdowns caused by a mom saying "give me my phone back". Vitamin D deficiencies are worse than ever. Everyone has one. Adults with vitamin D deficiencies I can understand- we work, we stay inside cooking and folding laundry... not everyone gets outside with their kids and plays- but children with vitamin D deficiencies hurts my heart. They're not even getting twenty minutes of sunshine a day?! What is happening?

I feel like I could write a book on all that's wrong with the typical childhood of today, but I'll stop there and get to the point of this post.

Brian and I decided a long time ago that we weren't going to go with the flow when it comes to raising our kids. We decided we want to raise grateful, competent, confident, imaginative, healthy, creative human beings, and that allowing them to be technology-obsessed would be the enemy to our goals. Here's what we're doing:

We keep our kids' technology use at a minimum. When I say minimum, I mean like, the bare minimum. We own a tablet, but I don't think our kids even know we have it. We have a television in our living room, but it's called a living room for a reason. We do life in that room, and the TV is on [maybe] a few times a week. On the days when motherhood has worn my patience down to nothing, and the baby is teething and dinner needs to be started, yes, I turn on Netflix. But TV in our house is not a daily thing for the kids, it isn't their favorite thing to do or even something they ask for often. It's just there for when we want to have a family movie night, I need a little help sneaking a shower in or getting dinner on the table. It's an extra in our house, not the most-used item or main event. 

Our kids spend 75-80% of their day outside. We don't own land [yet] or have a huge backyard. Our backyard actually kinda sucks, to be frank. It's mostly dirt and weeds, but Brian built a play restaurant and there's a swing set and slide, and in the summer time we get a plastic pool. Our kids use their imaginations and will spend hours in the yard playing made-up games and acting out stories together. The weather doesn't phase us much, as we live in Southern California, but if it's cold, I bundle them up, if it's hot, they wear very little, and they are still told to "go play" and they do it.

We don't entertain our kids. Brian and I don't cultivate a need to be entertained in our house. The kids are always playing together, and they figure it out themselves because we expect them to. We don't take them somewhere fun every day, we don't buy them lots of toys or games, we don't have friends over all the time. As a matter of fact, we've taken on a minimalist lifestyle and have gotten rid of nearly all their toys, keeping only constructive play items (blocks, wooden trains and tracks) and books. Kids are experts at imagination and play. If you give them items that don't require either of those things, you're not giving them a gift at all, but rather robbing them of something beautiful and fulfilling. You're also instilling a "gimme gimme" attitude in them and setting yourself up for some rough teenage years.

We give our kids responsibilities and expect them to follow through. I believe that not requiring kids to help out around the house does damage. It makes them bad spouses, lazy coworkers, poor students, superficial human beings, and hollow additions to society. When I hear things like "I want their childhood to be fun, so I don't make them do chores" I want to scream! Our children are given to us by God so that we can raise them up in the way they should go, and train them to be good people with strong work ethics, humble attitudes, and servant hearts. That won't happen without work. Our kids have to pick up after themselves, take care of the pets, make their beds, set and clear the table after meals, use their manners, and help with cooking and laundry among other things, and they're required to do it on their own. Obviously, that takes teaching and guiding them into those habits, which we happily do for them.

We are role models for our kids. The saying goes "Do as I say, not as I do", but we all know that doesn't really work with raising kids! Brian and I want our kids to see us living out what we're teaching them, and that is so hard sometimes! When it comes to technology, it's way too easy to get sucked in, especially when Brian's job is all about technology and I'm a blogger with a love for social media. We have to have boundaries, or we'll just be hypocrites, and our kids will see that. During the week, when Brian is working and I'm at home with the kids, I have my phone time in the morning. I drink my coffee and talk to my friends about their days and check my email, then I put my phone down. For the rest of the day, I only answer my texts if I've got a free second- waiting for water to boil, before I start folding a load of laundry, using the restroom- or if Brian's personal text message sound goes off. I have my off days, but for the most part I really try to abide by this. People don't need to be able to get a hold of me at the drop of a hat, whenever and wherever, despite what's going on in my day. I make it a point to look up and answer if one of my kid's needs me while I'm on my phone. I want them to know that technology is great, but it doesn't deserve a spot at the top of our priority lists. I spend about 40-50% of my day playing with my kids. I have set times for writing. I love Instagram, but I have set times for that too, and I pre-schedule my Facebook page's posts more often than not in order to avoid constantly being on my phone or laptop.

We fill our weekends with quality time and adventures, not TV. Brian is off Sundays and Mondays, with one work-free Saturday per month [which gives us the gift of a three-day weekend every four weeks]. Since his days at work are much longer than most people's, we make sure our weekends are awesome. This is usually when we get out and do fun day trips and things like that. We are together, we're a family, and we are making memories. Sometimes this looks like hanging around the house resting, because our week was particularly exhausting. Sometimes it looks like a train trip to the beach or a long drive just to try a world-famous cupcake. The point is, technology is left behind and we are spending quality time together, talking, laughing, sharing stories, each of us 100% focused on each other, living in the moment.

Brian says that technology should be treated like sugar- it's a nice treat and fine in moderation, but that's it. I wholeheartedly agree.

Are you overwhelmed? Inspired? Disagreeing with me? Have a question?
Tell me in the comments. Just be sure to stay within the guidelines for commenting here on my blog. Thank you!

Note: I'm working on some related posts to continue talking about this on my blog. I'd love to write about how you can get started; how you can go from being tech-obsessed to giving your kids a playful, free childhood.  I'd also like to write a post about what our typical day without technology looks like, and how I fill 12+ hours without flipping on the TV. If you have any questions you'd like answered, please ask me in the comments, and I'll do my best to answer it in a future post!

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