Making Memories – It’s the Thought that Counts

With summer coming on like a freight train, I’m already in planning mode. Summer offers the opportunity to slow down and maybe inject something special into our normal routine. I want my kids to look back on fond memories of their childhood, but sometimes I put too much pressure on myself to provide meaningful experiences.

Don't let your own expectations get in the way of making authentic memories with your family.

When I was 9 or 10, my best friend and I went to see Tiffany in concert with our dads. If you don’t remember Tiffany, just imagine Miley Cyrus before she got weird, add some big hair and acid-washed denim, and you’ve got the idea. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the performance.

I remember my mom taking the time to crimp our hair before the show.

I remember my dad being willing to go to a concert he most certainly didn’t enjoy just so that I could have the experience.

My memory isn’t of the concert itself, but of the gestures that made it special.

Letting go of The Self-Imposed Standard

We are so saturated by social media, it’s easy to believe there’s no point in doing something if it can’t live up to the standard we’ve envisioned. We’re drowning in inspiration and surrounded by the creativity of others. It’s wonderful and exhausting at the same time.

Every time we host a holiday meal, I have ideas about how I’ll set our table. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with gathering inspiration from Pinterest, home decor blogs and magazines. Trust me, I looove Pinterest. The problem arises when my 9 year old daughter wants to make the place cards.

I have two options at this point. I can embrace her creativity and include her in the fun of hosting OR I can shut her down in favor of an option that will probably be more blog-worthy. My husband once wisely said, “Someday she’s not going to be living in our house and you can decorate however you want, but for now, let her be involved while she still wants to be.” Boom. Mic drop.

The truth is that more likely than not, there will come a time when my industrious little creator might not have any interest in helping make our table look special. Why would I want to hold her back rather than savor this time? I can’t think of a single person in my life who would criticize my table because of handmade place cards.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t Instagram or blog your beautiful table setting. I mean, that would be ridiculously hypocritical. But don’t let the real moments of joy and beauty pass you by because of an unnecessary (or even unattainable) standard.

Recognizing the Kairos Moments

In her well-known essay “Don’t Carpe Diem,” author Glennon Doyle Melton writes the following, “Kairos is God’s time. It’s time outside of time. It’s metaphysical time. Kairos is those magical moments in which time stands still. I have a few of those moments each day, and I cherish them… And at the end of the day, I don’t remember exactly what my kairos moments were, but I remember I had them. And that makes the pain of the daily parenting climb worth it.”

A few years back, my husband got some free tickets to an Angels game. We were so excited to take our kids to a baseball game and share the experience with them. I’m sure the game was fun, but what I really remember is my son letting loose the most horrendous diaper explosion ever on our way into the parking lot. No, cleaning him up was not a magical kairos type of moment. But laughing with my husband about the situation on the way home definitely was!

Seeing the pride on my daughter’s face as she directs our guests to look for their names on her carefully hand-drawn place cards… definitely a kairos moment.

As I plan out the fun things I want to do with our kiddos this summer, I want to be careful to reign in my own expectations. Instead of worrying about mapping out memories, I want to make time for the story to unfold on its own. After all, the most memorable moments of my life weren’t carefully orchestrated, but they happened anyway.

 

{Linking up to Thoughtful Thursdays, Salt & Light}

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10 Goals for 2017

I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that the holidays are over. But, I also love the feeling of possibility that the new year brings! I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few weeks about what I hope to accomplish in 2017. I used to come up with resolutions, but I’ve found that isn’t very useful. Instead of just a wish or a hope to improve in some way, I like having a list of tangible, measurable goals.

Setting measurable goals is a great way to start off the new year. What do you hope to achieve in 2017?

I broke down my list into categories to make it easier to track my progress: Personal, Family, Home and Blog. I decided to limit my list to ten goals. Too many goals can feel overwhelming and gives me less chance of success. Too few can make each goal seem overly important. So ten is my number.

Personal

1. Lose another 10 lbs. As of right now, I weigh 7 lbs less than I did this time last year. At one point, I was down 9 lbs, but… the holidays. I credit some of my weight loss to more exercise and making better food choices like (mostly) cutting out soda. The bulk of my weight loss happened during and after my first round of the Whole30 in October. I plan to do another round soon, but for now I’m continuing to incorporate many Whole30 habits into my diet, while not sticking to all the rules.

2. Read 18 books. I love reading. I enjoy all different genres and so appreciate good book recommendations. I also love sharing them like I did here, here and here. One of my most valuable resources for a steady stream of good reading material is Anne Bogel who authors the blog Modern Mrs. Darcy and hosts the podcast What Should I Read Next. I’m using her 2017 Reading Challenge to map out the books I really hope to read this year instead of just flying by the seat of my pants. I’ll be posting my full list on Thursday!

Family

3. Plan date night once a month. I’m a lucky girl. I have a wonderful husband, and we both do our best to make our relationship a priority. Between work and kids and just life in general, it can easily get lost in the shuffle if we don’t pay attention. Making time for one another in spite of being tired or busy is extremely important. I want to make sure that we get out on our own at least once a month.

4. Create a homework schedule that works for both kids. With one in kindergarten and one in third grade, the homework is still pretty minimal. However, the habits we instill now set the tone for the future when the work load increases. As the official manager of their schedules, it’s my job to make sure they learn good habits. Setting up consistent times for homework not only lays a foundation for the future, but also helps me feel more relaxed, knowing I won’t need to worry if everyone’s work is done.

Home

5. Control the clutter. If I had a dime for every item in our house that isn’t in the best spot it could be, I’d be one rich chick! We bring so much STUFF into our home. It’s hard to know what to do with it all so I find myself doing a lot of shuffling. I move things from one place to another, but how much more peace would we all feel in our home if instead of just shuffling, we were actually organized?!? I’m not 100% sure how to measure the progress on this one yet.

6. Finish our patio. When we moved into our house two years ago, we completely overhauled the back yard. While the landscaping is beautiful, the patio area still needs some fine tuning. Last summer we added a seating area, sheltered “temporarily” with an easy-up, which was still out there until two weeks ago when all the rain we’ve been getting thrashed it and we had to take it down before it collapsed on our new furniture. I want our patio ready for summer so we can really enjoy our beautiful back yard this year.

7. Update the master bedroom. Isn’t it funny how often this is the last room to get finished in a new house? Ours isn’t a complete disaster, but it could use some attention for sure. We put in new floors and painted before we moved in. We have a relatively new bed and a new area rug beneath it. The furniture isn’t really working and this room often becomes a dumping ground when we’re trying to keep the rest of the house clean for company. I’ve got lots of ideas on how to make it the haven that it should be.

Blog

8. Consistently post twice a week. I’ve done better with this in the past few months aside from the last two weeks, but consistency is the key word. I tend to go strong for a while and then lose my focus and the posts  begin to dwindle. I’m working hard to get ahead on the calendar this year so that when I’m busy or need a break, the blog doesn’t get completely neglected.

9. Develop a plan for social media. This is another goal I have for my little creative space that involves that magic word: consistency. Since I can be a very inconsistent blogger, it’s hard to gain the momentum I need to sustain a higher number of visitors. Posting regularly and using social media to my advantage are important if I want to amp up my blog traffic. I need to figure out how to utilize schedulers to create a consistent presence on my various social media channels to help keep people interested. Maintaining readers will help me towards one more goal I have for 2017.

10. Reach 10k monthly page views. 10,000 page views might seem like a small amount, but to me it would be a big deal! My highest month so far was about 3500 views. By posting quality content on a regular basis and promoting it properly, I’m hoping to keep readers interested and increase my overall traffic. I love being able to share my ideas and inspiration from others here on Sweeter Still. I’m thankful for those who continue to support me, and I have some big ideas for 2017.

Studies show that sharing goals or intentions with others is a big step towards success. It’s easy to forget about your plans or ignore your lack of progress when no one else knows. Having some accountability goes a long way in helping you achieve what you set out to do. Thanks for letting me share my plans with you. Posting them is a little scary, but also very motivating! Don’t forget to come back on Thursday to see what I’m planning to read this year!

What are your goals for 2017?

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10 Days of Advent: Days Nine & Ten

Merry Christmas! You can check out all the previous Advent activities here. The holiday season has been a lot of fun for our family. We have some great activities planned with friends and family for the days leading up to Christmas.

Go Caroling

“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” You may not be a fan of Buddy the Elf, but you can’t beat singing carols to bring out the Christmas spirit. One of our wonderful neighbors planned a progressive dinner to celebrate the season in the neighborhood. We went to the homes of five different families and caroled a little in between. One of the neighbor dads is in a band and helped lead all our little merry-makers in song. The kids absolutely loved it and the neighbors enjoyed hearing our joyful little singers.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

Read the original Christmas story

Amidst all the excitement over presents and Santa, we don’t want to forget the reason we’re celebrating. By reading the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth, it brings the focus back to the miracle of Christmas. We’ve spent the past month immersed in festivity. Now it’s important to remember that Jesus is the true gift. When we go back to the original story, we rekindle the joy of knowing that there’s more to this season than drinking hot chocolate and admiring twinkle lights. Take time to remember why we celebrate at all and what a wonderful gift that is for us.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

I hope you had a truly magical Advent season!

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10 Days of Advent: Day Eight

It’s day eight of my ten days of Advent series and Christmas is practically here! If you’ve missed any of the previous posts, you can check them out here. As the countdown winds down, family is starting to arrive and there’s less to check off of your to-do list (hopefully.) Take the opportunity to spend extra time with visitors and have some fun with a family game night.

More and more, pop culture is making games out to be something that require a screen. While those can certainly be fun, to me, it doesn’t compare to an old-school game played with a group. Scattegories, Catch Phrase and plain old Charades are a blast with a good group. Not only is it fun, but it’s a great way to keep guests entertained. There are plenty of options that can be played when multiple age groups are involved. Hedbanz is one of our personal favorites to play when our youngest is included.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate Christmas as a family with a fun family game night.

Enjoy some time together with a few fun games and some delicious treats! It’s a great way to celebrate the coming of Christmas and the gift of family and friends.

*This post contains affiliate links. See my full disclosure statement here.

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10 Days of Advent: Day Six

It’s day six of our 10 Days of Advent series! I caught a nasty cold and have been less than productive the past two days. Today’s post will be short and sweet. One of the best parts of the holiday season is all the fun things we get to do as a family. We try to mix in plenty of festivity without feeling like we’re just busy all the time.

Relax with your family with a favorite Christmas movie

Sometimes it’s really nice to slow down and relax as a family. Instead of being out with all the crowds, take a night to appreciate being at home. Warm up some hot chocolate, curl up on the couch, and watch one your favorite family Christmas movies. If you need some suggestions, check out this post for some of our faves. Don’t worry about all the stuff you’ve yet to do. Snuggle with your little ones and enjoy some downtime.

Bring the message of Advent home this holiday season. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas as a family.

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