Traditions

As our little family has grown from just the two of us to a crew of four, each year we have picked up traditions we look forward to every Christmas. Here are a few of them:

FUN

Christmas Tree Hunting / After years of getting our tree at Home Depot, last year we found the sweetest little family-run tree lot in Pacific Beach, and we are hooked. They serve hot chocolate and give you a free tree stand if you promise to come back the next year.

Christmas Lights / There is a street block in our neighborhood where every single house is decked to the max with lights and decorations. What began as one of our very first dates years ago, has become a tradition every single December. We get a hot drink to sip and enjoy all the spectacular displays.

FOOD

Saltine Toffee / Our go-to holiday treat I make for friends, family, and neighbors.

Green Chili Sausage Bake / The Mr requests this family dish for Christmas morning every year (here’s a recipe similar to the one we follow).

Nutella Bread Pudding / I found this recipe last year, and it is AMAZING. Just like the dish above, it can be assembled the day before and popped in the oven on Christmas morning. We fry up some bacon on the side, add mimosas and coffee, and we’re sufficiently stuffed!

MEANING

Advent Calendar / Now that we have little ones who can start to grasp the meaning behind why we’re celebrating, we’re on the lookout for a meaningful Advent activity (apart from our typical chocolate calendar, which we love).

Devotional / We just got this Christmas devotional and it’s been a wonderful way to start each day, remembering to stay grounded and present in this season’s purpose.

Do you have any favorite traditions?

 

 

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Mindful: Rest

For years we knew that making our Sundays an official day of rest, with no set plans or to-dos, was important to us as a couple and something we should strive for. But for some reason we could never get into a groove (Should we go to church? Work on house projects? Run errands? Do nothing?).

And then, we had kids. While having children certainly makes life busier and more chaotic in many ways (whew), it also slows certain parts of life down. Sleeping schedules and limited stamina of little ones forces you to stay home more (which, being a home body, is perfectly fine with me!). And so over time, our Sundays have naturally become an intentional day of rest. We go to a morning service at our church (which we found earlier this year and finally feel settled into), and apart from that we make no plans – anything that must get done is taken care of during the rest of the week. We take naps, read books, enjoy each other’s company. In the evening we might walk down to the park for a picnic (complete with wine), or stay home for a movie.

These days, rather than facing a weekend of infinite to-dos and social plans, where “rest” may come in fits and starts (if at all), it is so comforting to know that whatever the week brings, on Sunday, there will be rest and no obligations. It has truly been good for our family’s hearts and wellbeing, and I highly recommend it. I think it will be especially important to hold tight to our Sunday habits now that the Christmas season is in full swing. What more important time of year to take the time to rest, remember, and enjoy!

Late Fall Wardrobe Staples

Since having little ones, long shopping excursions are a thing of the past, so about twice a year I scour the internet for a few seasonal items. Yes, it is a pain to shlep to the post office to make all those returns, but in the long run I end up finding exactly what I need, and don’t get sidetracked by anything that might tempt me from store windows. :)

Capsule wardrobes are really appealing to me, and although I don’t strictly adhere to one, I naturally lean toward an edited closet. As I’ve gotten older and my daily life has become simpler (i.e., no need for several weeks’ worth of work attire), my style has become laser focused: relaxed but polished, urban but comfortable. Here are a few favorite cooler-weather items I’ve added to my wardrobe this season:

Utility jacket / It took me a bit of trial and error to find the perfect utility jacket. This one is so comfy but still has structure, and is light enough to layer over a sweater. I’ve already gotten so much use of it!

Crew neck sweater / Target does it again. This sweater looks and feels more expensive than it is, and it’s been the perfect fall basic.

Detailed leggings / While these technically cross over into athleisure, they are so unbelievably soft I can’t care. The ruched detail on the side makes them a bit fancier (and they’re currently on sale!).

Black booties / These flats add polish and structure to any outfit, but are still functional enough to run after toddlers.

Everyday necklace / I’ve never been a jewelry person, but I love this tiny, minimal necklace for every day. (Tip: whenever purchasing inexpensive pieces, I always look for “gold-filled” over “gold-plated” – they keep their shine.)

Tomorrow we are driving 13 hours (!) to spend Thanksgiving with the Mr’s family. I hope you have a very happy holiday week, and find lots to be thankful for. xo

Mindful: Eating

Above: where we start our day, every day.

The holiday season is the perfect time to assess my relationship to eating. While I try hard to feed myself and my family whole and healthy food, I rarely think very deeply about the actual process of eating while I’m doing it. It can be such a mechanical, necessary task that I forget to experience the pleasure of enjoying food beyond its functional purpose. On the flip side, I also have an insatiable sweet tooth, which often sabotages mindful eating – I can never have just one bite (and Lord help me, it’s baked goods season!).

A few things I’m focusing on to eat more mindfully this time of year:

Pause and ask. From the last bites of sandwich I finish even though I’m full, to the random bites on my toddler’s abandoned plate, I often automatically consume something just because it’s there. Then I wonder where that afternoon energy slump or blah feeling in my stomach came from. Just pausing for a moment to make a conscious choice about what I’m about to put in my mouth (i.e., Will this cold mac and cheese actually taste good or nourish me? Probably not.) is the most helpful eating habit I’ve come across (although remembering to do it is half the battle! haha).

Resist the lie of scarcity. When faced with so many comforting and nostalgic food choices of the season (PSLs! Casseroles! Pie!), I’m aware of my goofy, subconscious belief that I have to eat all of them, all at once, and all at the same time before it all disappears forever. When I stop and remember that there will always be another opportunity to eat this or that, I can decide if I actually want what’s being offered, and then enjoy a small serving or pass until next time.

Taste it. God could have easily created us to be sustained only on water and air; instead he blessed us with food that nourishes and satisfies us on so many levels. Most meals, whether from forgetfulness or necessity, I rush through each bite without taking time to experience the smells, tastes, and textures. This season I want to enjoy and be thankful for each bite.

Be with those I love. Sharing food with loved ones is a sacred practice, and I miss out on precious moments with my family when I eat hurriedly over the sink. I’m challenging myself to sit down with my boys during breakfast, and ask my husband thoughtful questions during dinner. And when we’re seated around a family table for holiday meals, I want to take a deep breath and be present with those I love.

If you have any more tips for mindful eating this season, I’d love to hear!

Mindfulness

Above: our daily dumping ground just inside our front door. Can you tell we love neutrals? (haha)

In the busyness of day-to-day life, I’ve observed that I find more meaning, rest, and joy if I approach the most important people and things with thoughtfulness and intention. This is a learned skill I am still wobbly at. It can be shockingly easy to go through our days, letting them happen to us, can’t it? Staying home with little ones, who require so much of me mentally and physically, sometimes I find myself dazed at the end of the day, wondering where all those minutes and hours went.

This season of the year, with all the holidays, travel, activity and loved ones, it can be extra challenging to find time and space among the noise to truly enjoy what we value most: family, health, food, celebration, rest. Over the next few weeks, I’ll share some thoughts re: how I (imperfectly) strive for more mindful daily living. (Disclaimer: I’m actually writing this series as a reminder for myself – to stop for a moment and thankfully experience the life I’ve been given and savor this beautiful time of year).

Here’s a peek at the topics: Eating / Rest / Marriage / Parenting / Technology

Enjoy! xo

 

 

 

A Few Favorites

Happy Friday! Here are a few favorites from the last few weeks –

Just got these new sheets (shown in the photo above, with a favorite morning read) and have really enjoyed them!

Overnight oats have been our quick breakfast go-to lately, and I really want to try this version next.

I’m not a huge DIY girl, but this pretty fall wreath looks simple enough that I might give it a try!

If you’re a mom/homemaker and are looking for a new podcast to dive into, I recently found this one and love it!

An old favorite book I picked up from our shelf the other day. Do you re-read old books over and over?

20 easy things you can do to improve your life (numbers 11 and 18 are two of my go-tos, and I need to get better at 14). Which will you try?

Have a great weekend!

Fall Bucket List

In southern California, “fall” is a very loose term. A few trees turn golden in our neighborhood (including one the Mr planted in our back yard last year), and the air takes on a barely perceptible crisp feeling… and that’s enough to get me excited about enjoying the new “season.” :) To make the most of it, here are a few things we are looking forward to this fall:

Baking. I’ve never been much of a baker, but there’s something about this time of year that makes me want to put something warm and heavenly-smelling (and easy) in the oven. A couple of my favorites are Trader Joe’s beer bread and coffee cake.

Apple picking. This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and now that we have little ones who would enjoy it it’s the perfect time. Julian is famous for it’s apple picking (and apple pie!), so we’re planning a day trip soon.

Decorating. My favorite, simple go-to for fall decorating is mini white pumpkins. We don’t have a mantel or a lot of shelves in our main living space, so the round tray on the dining table is my fall decorating spot. I throw in a pumpkin candle, and I’m done!

Beach bonfires. These are fun year-round, but much more cozy when it’s actually cool out!

Visit the library. Since the boys are only 2 and 3, we have yet to experience back-to-school season. But the older they get the more they seem to enjoy reading, so I’m excited to take them and check out their first round of library books.

Cozy drinks (of course). We make most of our coffee at home, so buying coffee out is a treat for us. I’ve been dreaming of a PSL (half the flavor shots – anyone else think they’re wayyy too sweet?) and can’t wait to indulge in one (and this cocktail).

Happy Fall! How will you be enjoying the season?

Adventuring

Last week (in the spirit of adventure) we spent a couple nights camping up at San Onofre State Beach. Here are a few photos if you’d like to see!

Our friends and their two little girls joined us as well (that’s their “shaka shack” on the left :) and our camper van on the right), so the kids ran and played and reveled in the sand and dirt. Our campsite sat right on the ocean, but still had a barrier of smooth beach rocks that kept the little ones out of the water.

When we wanted some beach time, we did a quick walk down a little path so the kids could splash in the waves and the guys could surf. I forgot to pack my wetsuit (such as it is when packing for little ones – I remembered everything else!), and my swimsuit was less than surf friendly, so I wasn’t able to join this time.

At night, we left the van doors open while we slept, and it was heaven listening to the waves crashing just outside all night. Coffee in the morning tasted so glorious. I did most of the food prep beforehand, which made feeding everyone a lot simpler.

On the second night, we opted to try out one of the camp’s little beach bungalows (below). It was so cute and cozy, but we really missed our campsite. Next time we’ll save our money and just stay on the beach!

Another sweet family adventure for the books. Thanks for taking a look! xo

Adventure

Last summer, the Mr gave me a surfboard (above) for my birthday, hoping that we could share one of his favorite pastimes. He had taken me surfing a handful of times over the years, but having my own board got me so excited to really learn. After a few slightly terrifying episodes getting tossed by waves (I’m a total wimp in the ocean), he thought it might be best to downgrade me to a less advanced board – this year’s birthday gift.

Years ago, I think part of my motivation to learn to surf came from the desire to be viewed as a tough girl, who could hang with the guys and fearlessly conquer the ocean (although if I’m completely honest, I’m more of a bask-in-the-sun-while-enjoying-my-book-type of person). But now my intention stems from wanting to spend time with my sons as they grow, doing something they might end up loving as much as their dad.

I love that my husband is always dreaming up ways to get our little family out of the house and into adventure. In this season of life, “adventure” looks like a night of beach camping, juggling pack-n-plays and sand toys, and making sure we have enough ice to keep the milk cold. One day when the boys are older, adventure might mean road trips up the West Coast, or surf trips to South America. And when those adventures come, I want to be out there in the water with them – talking about life and getting to know them in a deeper way – instead of sitting on the beach with a book.

We should still have a couple more warm-ish months this year, so I’m excited to get out in the water and keep trying. And as I’m getting tossed by waves, I’ll picture my sweet sons in the water next to me. Wish me luck! xo

Working from home

Kathryn_1

As long as I can remember, I knew I wanted to stay home with my children, if at all possible. When I got pregnant with our oldest son Augie, I could feel a shift in my heart that pulled me toward home life. I loved my job as a video editor, but also felt burnt out from a few years of intense work seasons. The Mr and I overhauled our spending so that we could get by on one income, and decided I would stay home full-time with the baby. I loved being able to watch him grow everyday, and spending our simple and quiet days together.

Once Augie was about 10 months old (and finding I was pregnant with our second), I felt a pull back into the professional and creative world. Since then, I’ve worked some hours here and there – mostly video editing and a little writing – which (very thankfully) I can do from home. It allows me to structure my days around my kids, while also staying connected to people I love working with and projects I feel passionate about.

As of now, 80% of what I accomplish is done while the boys are sleeping. I do my best not to work while they are awake so I can stay present with them (which can be challenging, but so worth it). On the days I do work, once the boys are napping, I typically eat a quick lunch and head up to my workspace in our bedroom. I like going to a designated “working” spot, as opposed to my laptop that lives on our dining room table. It helps me feel a bit more removed from daily life, and more creative and focused. It also helps if I’m showered and dressed in “real” clothes (as opposed to my sweaty athleisure ensemble from the morning)!

I typically don’t work in the evening hours, since the Mr and I really treasure our time together once the flurry of bedtime is over and the kids are in bed around 8pm. We get to talk, check in with each other over a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and catch up on any shows we might be watching. I also function and feel my personal best when I close the screens at the end of the day, and take time to unwind physically and mentally.

I’m very thankful for this season in life – that I can watch my little ones grow everyday, while also having a little time to engage my creativity and collaborate with other adult-type people. :) And I’ve found that my limited work schedule has actually forced me to manage my time more effectively over the years. These days, I can get way more done in 2 hours than I ever did when I worked a full day in an actual office.

If you work from home, how do you get the most out of your day?

Photo above c. 2013 from my pre-motherhood days.