Adventuring, Parenting, Reading, Summer

Summer planning.

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I am, by very nature, a planner.  I love thinking about the future, whether near or far, and I love checklists.  I also love really good quality pens and paper (see links to shop my faves at the bottom).  So planning my summer in bullet journal form was a natural exercise.  Summer for me seems to be a natural time to re-evaluate, re-assess, and set “resolutions” of a sort.  My body functions much better in the longer, brighter, warmer days of summer than it does in the shorter, darker, frigid days of winter.  A sunnier sky gives me much more motivation to do, achieve, and be better in general.  The older I get, the more I’m realizing this about myself.  So I’m planning to take full advantage of all the vitamin d days the next few months have to offer me!

My goals for this summer have to do with myself as an individual, as a wife, as a mother, and also as a small business owner.   Setting these longer range goals and then breaking them down into how my days will look each week is helpful to keep myself on track (a method known as “reverse engineering” to some.

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First up is my plan for health and exercise.  The husband and I keep joking that this is our “summer of skinny,” but in all reality our whole family could use a health reboot.  We love to cook, so it’s not like we’ve been eating out like crazy or eating a ton of artificial nonsense, but it becomes so easy to cook comfort food (i.e. carbs) rather than inherently healthful foods.  Our plan is to do a Whole30 and figure out which foods are causing some of the bloating, reactions, and allergies that have been plaguing our family and then plan accordingly from there to get everyone feeling their best.   I recently found Daily Harvest smoothies and they have made this goal of eating health but more accessible.  Blending up a quick smoothie for breakfast or even for a snack in their ready to go containers is super easy, especially with re-usable smoothie straws (like these Hummingbird Glass Straws that have become my new favorite – shop here:  Hummingbird Glass Straws Clear Bent 9″ x 9.5 mm Made With Pride In The USA – Perfect Reusable Straw For Smoothies, Tea, Juice, Water, Essential Oils – 4 Pack With Cleaning Brush).  Along with this goes drinking a lot of water, which seems like a no brainer but can be one of the harder things to squeeze into a day.

Along with that goes setting an alarm and getting out of bed in the morning.  Getting up early does help me be a mentally healthier human.  As an introvert I crave time alone to recharge and getting up really early in the morning is the only time I can find to actually be by myself.  I’m shockingly turning into a morning person!  But that time also allows me to get my family’s day set up for success.  The days I get up before 6:00 I’m able to do some personal reading, get a plan set for everyone’s day, prep what I need to for food, snacks, etc., and get myself ready before I need to get everyone else ready.  Some days the body needs a good lie-in, but most days I find a generally more efficient, happier day all around when I’m up with the sun.

Summer reading plans are happening for everyone in our family.  I started writing about it here but it turned into far too long of a discussion on reading, so look for another blog post on that coming up asap.  We always have a reading plan in place (we sort of homeschool – more on that another time – so there is always a booklist of some sort to be found) but summer is more about expanding and challenging our own reading lives.

Next up are work goals.  As working moms can understand, especially moms that work from home or own their own small business, the daily tasks can pile up until they become almost overwhelming.  As a planner, I am naturally thinking about my longer range business goals and planning how I need to get all that done, but oftentimes toddlers and cleaning the house and running errands and getting the big kids to baseball games get in the way of getting everything I need to accomplished.  Hence, a daily work plan and goals for my summer days.  Social media and blogging goals go along with that, and I have them built in so as to not spend an inordinate amount of time on those things.  It’s always too easy to get sucked into instagram and pinterest, no matter how much I tell myself I won’t do it!

And finally, but not definitely NOT least, are the summer fun goals!  The boys and I decided we would make at least twice monthly play dates with friends and they each wrote their own summer bucket list.  We’re trying to check off at least one bucket list item per week, if not more.

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We also have some family goals related to getting away and spending good quality time with each other outside of the daily grind.  Some of these are longer trips, but others are just taking a day off and going to the beach, the zoo, or to a local farmer’s market or concert together.  The husband and I are also planning some overnight getaways to nearby cities. Fun should always be part of the goals!

Clearly I love planning and summer is such a fun time for that.  What are some of your family’s summer goals and plans?



Adventuring, Photography, Toddler Fashion

Spring colors galore.

img_8026If there’s one thing that the deep dark Chicagoland winters bring, it’s gorgeous spring colors.  Penny and I ventured out to Cantigny Park on a bright spring day to try and capture some of the amazing blooms that appear almost overnight this time of year.  The entire place smelled of spring and made both of us want to prance around.  Ok, maybe just Penny.  I followed from afar and snapped the prancing.

She has taken to galloping around lately rather than walking.  I’m not sure if she’s pretending to be a horse or some other animal, but she is in full on imagination mode.


And when we can find tree branches that are low enough for her to climb and pretend to be like her brothers, the more the better!  Adventure is a high priority for us.  We have too many days filled with the “have to’s” and “ought to’s” that we all have to make time for prancing and meandering and exploring and climbing and adventuring.  Life is the best on those days.  Full of free spirits and sunshine.

And Penny loves to bring her friends.  Elsa is a special friend and her presence almost always results in spontaneous “Let it Go” serenades in the tiny little toddler voice with only maybe a quarter of the words actually present.  But a lot of dramatic arm movements, to be sure.

The other thing we never leave the house without it our Twist Shake Baby cups.  They never leak or spill and are big enough to keep this thirsty babe hydrated on all of our adventures.  The sippies are especially great because I add frozen fruit to keep it cool and give the water some flavor and the fruit mixer keeps the fruit on the bottom instead of clogging the spout.


In these photos, Penny is wearing a bow from Erinn and Lou, a romper from Rhett Tucker One of a Kind, moccasins from Amuse Leather Co.

Her Elsa doll is from Dandelion Attic.

Parenting, Reading, Toddler Fashion

Meet Mardi.

When you get a new book in the mail, what’s the first thing you do?  Wait, that’s a stupid question.

The obvious choice is to rip that box open and tear in right away!  Especially when it’s a book about a puppy.  Meet Mardi, by Linda Dembo, is a sweet story about how a puppy comes to meet her family, taking some adventures along the way.  Penny adores puppies in all shapes and sizes and she was absolutely enthralled with this story!  You can see it in her expressions as she flips through the pages.  Whenever she’s into something these days, she taps at the picture a bunch of times as she says the name of the person or thing.  Mawwwwww-di has been heard a LOT in this house lately!

Giving Mardi kisses.

I also love that the story ends with a “life lesson” that Mardi has learned.  At this point, Penny is a smidge young to be internalizing the moral of the story, but that’s the beautiful thing about story.   Toddlers love reading the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over….but with all that repetition the story and its morals sink in deep over time.  And this one is great.  Sometimes life is uncomfortable and change can be no fun, but then great things can come of it!  Part of raising strong kids is sprinkling these truths into their lives on a regular basis.  Exposure to hard lessons through books makes the lessons a little easier to stomach when they present themselves in “real” life.

Find out how to get your own copy of Meet Mardi here.  And while you’re at the website check out some of the fun games they have for Mardi fans!




In these images, Penny is wearing a bow by Huxen and Co. [ use PENNY15 to save ], a top by Little Harts and Arrows, and shorts by Freckled and Co.


Kid dates.

Dating your kid.  I don’t remember this ever being a concept when I was younger.  Occasionally, either my mom or my dad would take me out somewhere without my sister.  We’d go shopping maybe, or to grab a bite to eat between errands or after a sports event, but rarely with the intention of just being or talking together.


In our current parenting culture, intentionality is a buzzword.  Every word we speak to our kids, every activity we plan, every book we read to them, every game we play, the rules we set, all pre-planned and thought through to make the most of the moment.  That can be very, very good.  Intentionality does breed purpose, productivity,  consistency, and a predictable household where the child knows what is expected.  That expectation is really important because children build their internal “rules” about life as they develop from what they experience.  If affection is giving broadly, consistently, and without contingency, kids are going to grow up knowing they are loved despite the occasionally necessary punishment.  That’s where kid dates come in.

Leaving things to chance often results in misspent time, hurt feelings, and lack of communication.  Being intentional in reality does mean planning and forethought, but it doesn’t have to be hard.  Plan to have dates with your kid, one on one, somewhere that they want to go.

That means actually writing it down in your calendar beforehand.

I just started bullet journaling, which is a whole other story, but I write down (and add it to my phone calendar) when I’m going to take my kids out.  With my oldest, who is 8, we often go to the library and work together.  Starbucks is a necessary stop on the way there.  We find a quiet corner, sometimes working, sometimes chatting, sometimes reading together.  The middle kid, who is 7, loves to go shopping with me.  It doesn’t matter what we’re buying or who we’re buying it for.  Target, Costco, the mall, the grocery store, whatever.  We catch up on which kid has the coolest nerf weapons and what he did at soccer practice the day before and why he thinks he needs yet another pair of shoes (it doesn’t take much convincing on my end). The baby girl pretty much loves any time she gets to spend with me and since she’s too young at this point for full conversations, we usually trek out with the camera to find fabulous new spots, like this coffee shop in our neighborhood that serves purple sweet potato donuts covered in chopped coconut.  Dream.

I try to take each of them out at least once a month.  Sometimes life is busy and it’s a 20 minute date.  Sometimes we are way more flexible and can swing an hour or more out together on a Sunday afternoon.  The point is not in the amount of time.  The point is making my kids individually feel important, heard, looked at, and considered.

I love this concept because my love language is quality time.  I never feel more special than when my husband plans a date for me and tells me to mark the time off in my calendar to be spent just with him.  I think my kids feel the same way.  They may not have the same love language, but I know that all kids love getting one on one time with mom (and dad).  And when kids feel loved, they’re so much more receptive to all the other “intentionality” that you want to throw at them (for me that’s those little lectures that get sprinkled in about why we have certain values, why we treat people certain ways, why it’s important to do homework, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.).



It’s hard to start a new habit.  But can I encourage you?  I promise it’s easier than it sounds.  And if you start small it’s extra easy.  Plus…donuts can be involved.  And that’s never a bad thing.


In these photos, Penny is wearing… a leotard from Leotudes (use code PENNYSTUDE to save),  suspender bloomers from Peace Love Snugs (use code PENNY15 to save), socks from Ten Wittle Piggies, shoes from Duchess and Fox, and our Anna doll is from Dandelion Attic (use code PENNY15 to save).


By way of introductions…


Hi. I’m new here.  So are you, it seems, and introductions are in order.  I’m Sarah.  I am and have been a lot of things in my thirty odd years on this planet.  The impetus for this blog in particular, though, is my being a mother to a daughter.  The youngest of my three children, Penny, arrived about a year and a half ago and was, shockingly, a girl.  Having already birthed two boys, I was convinced that the third would be alike in gender.  But the pronouncement from the ultra-sound tech that our youngest child was, in fact, of my ilk, sort of rocked my world.  It was an almost immediate impression of, wow, I now have to be THE example for this tiny person.

I come from a family of only daughters and had parents who always told me I could do all of the things.  Girl power was not overt but definitely present.  However, when I thought about raising my own girl, so many questions without answers went swirling through my brain.  How do I make sure she’s confident without being bossy (or another not so nice word for that…)?  How do I promote beauty without fixation?  How do I share my goals and desires while also respecting hers?  How do I encourage her to try all the things and help her not be afraid to fail?

See, raising girls is different than raising boys.  No less important to be sure, but as a woman who was once a girl, I’ve experienced all the negatives that can come from being my gender and I want to help my daughter avoid as many of those as possible.  My dreams for her include embracing her brains before her beauty, but still exploring her style and looking amazing; stretching her wings so far to achieve the big dreams, but also being realistic about her strengths and giftings; being vulnerable with herself to feel the big feelings, but not be overwhelmed by them; not letting herself fall into the trap of defining her world by a man, but still loving the men in her world well; caring for herself so that she doesn’t forget herself in care of others, but making serving others a priority too.  This is the dichotomy of being a girl, right?  And especially a girl who has all the big dreams and big goals for all the things.

So being confronted with raising a girl and having a bent towards wanting to express myself through both words and pictures, I decided to share some of myself and my journey as a mother here.  Essentially, how to raise a beautiful girl who is not just a pretty girl, but ever so much more.  Thanks for joining me in the journey.



In these images, Penny and I are wearing Mommy and Me Sweetheart sets from Hen House Apparel.  You can save 20% using code PENNY20.  Penny is also wearing a bow from Prairie Blooms Boutique.