10 Things That Make Me Happy

I was tagged by Kristal at Lattes and Little Hugs to do this challenge – what a great idea to “force” me to make a gratitude list.

While I was working on this post, I actually came up with so many things that make me happy, I think I will have a few installments of this topic!  I hope it inspires you to create your own list, or to focus a little on self care, or to recognize happiness in your every day where it is maybe hiding.

In no particular order:

10 Things That Make Me Happy

1 – Sunny Mornings

I don’t realize how much I miss sunny mornings until spring comes each year.  I like to get up earlier than my kids and spend my quiet morning time alone on the patio.  I’m a serious introvert, you guys!  Even if the kids are with me, it’s so lovely to feel some sunshine on my face and look out over my backyard while I do a little work.

sunny patio book and mug

2- Snuggles!

I’ll be honest – I don’t really know what my love language is.  But baby snuggles (toddler snuggles, if they’ll let me!) are a surefire way to melt my snarky, crusty exterior.  I’m lucky that I’ve been able to borrow babies from sisters-in-law (and co-author Deb!) for many years, and you bet I try to snitch snuggles from my boys whenever they can be caught.  Some of my favorite moments of motherhood have been holding my littles close while they fall asleep – either while we were nursing, or when they were transitioning to a new bed or a new room.  Right now I’m getting to lie with my 1 1/2 year old while he gets used to having a big boy bed (a floor bed) which means I get to listen to a singing giraffe while smashed on a crib mattress with a sweaty little boy.  Best moments of my day!

author holding a baby

3 – A neat, tidy, clean home.

If you’ve never noticed, I’m quite the fan of Marie Kondo.  I’ve decluttered my entire household three times, and am itching to do it again.  It is so relaxing to have no clutter, so satisfying to look around and see no housework to be done.  I read a quote once somewhere (let me know in the comments if you can find it, because I no longer can!) that everyone should sit for an hour alone, each day, in the best room.  In my current home, I finally feel that all my rooms are “the best room” and enjoy spending time in them.

a clean playroom

4 – Coffee

Now, I realize there is coffee all over my website,  my other social media… it’s in the URL… but that’s because honestly, it is one of the greatest simple joys in my life.  I have some kind of soul-connection to coffee.  The smell of it, the flavor of it, the feel of a warm mug in my hands.  Somehow, I am more myself when I’m holding a cup of coffee.  Morning, afternoon, it really doesn’t matter when the coffee is happening.  While I was pregnant I even condescended to drink decaf because I missed it so much!

cup of coffee in a coffee shop

5 – A good book

I’ve been a bookworm since I was 3.  My mother had a limit at naptime – she would only read me ten books.  TEN BOOKS.  It hasn’t stopped since – I read voraciously throughout gradeschool, until in 8th grade my teacher was finding me classical literature to read because I’d devoured everything in the school library.  I was a Literature major in college (an education major, but my subject area is Communicative Arts and Literature) and in one semester took both Victorian Lit and World Literature at once – that’s two novels (and accompanying papers) a week.   If you combine #4 and #5 into one, you get my favorite hangouts: bookstores with coffee in them.  This was my favorite haunt in college, and the place in that town I miss the most (Hi, Jerry!)  When I sat down to make goals for this year, reading every day was the first that popped into my head, and I’ve been loving spending more time on my favorite hobby.

antique copy of scarlet letter

6 – A freshly-made bed

Fluffy pillows.  Crisp white sheets.  Soft blankets.  A light lavender scent.  That might seem like some kind of styled photograph nonsense, but that’s actually my Saturday night!  I find it the best way to relax, like a self-care ritual disguised as housekeeping.  I get in there with a #5 and #4, and spend a couple hours to myself.  It’s like the adult version of a fort.

white bed linens, with book

7 – Simple vacations

I wrote a post this winter about a vacation both of us blog authors (and hubbies) went on, and how to replicate the feelings at home.  My favorite kinds of vacations involve limited planning and limited “must-dos” when I get there.  Going to a place I’ve never been, with my family or friends, and just exploring what’s there, napping and eating and lingering as we feel like it.  I always come back from these kinds of trips really refreshed!

simple vacation, fireplace

8 – Leisurely walks with my family

In case somehow this is not clear yet, I do not exercise.  (Is there a tag for listing things that make you supremely unhappy?)  But I do love walking with my family, more like wandering, really.  We pop the kids in the stroller and they’re contained and entertained.  Most of the time, they’re even quiet.  I don’t even take toys along for them – I never have taken toys on walks or in the car – and as a result they’ve learned to appreciate nature, point out various landmarks around town, talk to each other, notice toads and sticks and flowers.  Meanwhile, my husband and I can actually TALK to each other (whaaaat?!?) and get a little sunshine refreshment.  Even during the school year, the kids and I take a walk every single day (barring actual blizzard conditions).  It takes a long time to bundle everybody up for winter walks, but we all three go a little berserk if we don’t get outside.  I sometimes put an earbud in one ear and listen to some music, or bring a travel mug with my morning tea in it.  Zen.

family on a walk

9 – Big, curly hair

On me, on other people, I’m indiscriminate.  I think because this is what grows out of my own head, I feel an automatic solidarity with anybody else with giant hair.  I automatically assume upon seeing them that they’re creative and pleasant and witty.  Maybe that’s not true, but only good can come of assuming the best about humanity, right?  As for myself, the bigger and curlier my hair is on a given day, the better I feel.  This is a paradigm that comes along with the hair, but I truly can’t imagine having flatter hair!  I feel like I need that giant mess up there to make more space for my personality, snark, volume.  Like the wild flowerchild inside of me needs to be visible to the world.

 

10 – Camp BASIC

I know this is super specific, but it’s about authenticity here.  Camp is absolutely my favorite place to be on earth, and I am 100% the most happy that week of my life.  It is so spiritually filling, and also personally uplifting as I am literally in the woods with most of my dearest friends.  We pack an entire year of loving each other, sharing our stories, singing Father Abraham, and adventures into one short week.  I don’t know who I was before I went there the first time.  I don’t know what on earth I was doing with my life.  (No exaggeration.)  I love it SO MUCH that I’m actually on the board of directors.  (Translation: I love it so much I sit through lots of phone calls.  I hate phone calls!)

camp basic campers and counselors

There’s my (first) list!  What makes you happiest in the world? Feel free to leave a comment, or consider yourself tagged and do this challenge on your own blog!  (Please link me as tagging you, if you do!)

Tagging: Shell at https://thesunmama.com/ !  Go check her out!

 

2017 Goals / Resolutions : A Midyear Review

This is the first year I really sat down and made “New Year’s Resolutions” – really just goals – and wrote them down and am following up on them.

I’ve always had goals.  My style of making goals has always been a little daydream-esque – I have an idea of how I want my life to be, a mental image if you will, and I try to chase it.  For example, I picture myself having coffee on my patio every morning as the sun comes up.  I picture myself reading every day.  I can imagine the mountain of craft projects I could complete.  In my mind, I’m a pie-baking, barefoot, laundry-hanging stay-at-home-mom with a bunch of children running loose in the backyard.  And throughout the year I’ll think about those daydreams, that “ideal life” I have so firmly in my (very visual, introverted, ADD) mind.

But let’s be real: that’s never actually gotten real results.  I’m too scatterbrained for that to work, and I have too many dreams and ambitions.  Already at 30, I’m 100% sure that I have too many wonderful daydreams to ever accomplish them all.

So this year, inspired by some fellow momma bloggers and vloggers, I actually sat down for an afternoon and wrote down some goals and resolutions.  I pared down the 234098256 ideas running around in my brain and tried to be reasonable about what I could accomplish.  I know it’s really important for goals to be tangible, time sensitive, and specifice, so I made a particular point to try to mold my zany mental images that way.

I came up with goals in each area of my life – homemaking, family, self-growth, blogging, and YouTube.

In each category, I tried to make no more than 4 or 5 goals.  That totals out to a lot, but such is my life!

Overall, ******** spoiler alert ********* I think I’m doing okay.  About half successful.

More details in the latest video:

 

How are you doing on your goals this year, if you set some?

Have one in particular that’s exciting you?  Frustrating  you?  Let’s chat in the comments!

A Positive Spin: Being a Superhero

Please read the following  quotes with a snarky, irritated tone of voice.

mom tossing child - they're not lazy, you're just a superhero

“I can’t exactly do this by myself!”

This was my husband, trying to take a messy bib off a potty-training toddler who was running away down the hallway.

Are you kidding?  It’s one kid, and a bib.  Seriously.

This was my husband giving two little boys a bath.

Then why do you do extra-curriculars until long after dinner, and expect me to bathe both kids myself?

This was my husband trying to get both boys dressed for church on Sunday morning.

You realize I do this every single morning every week while you’re working, right?

This was my husband trying to make waffles with both boys in the kitchen.

How do you think you have dinner to eat every day, Mister?

“I’m tired, y’know?”

Same husband, explaining why he’s watching TV instead of helping me clean up to host a party of his coworkers.

TV makes you less tired?   How handy.

Falling asleep reading the boys their bedtime stories, which inevitably makes them screech and whine that he’s not “reading it nice.”

Not an excuse to poop out on your kids!

Sending me to do the grocery shopping by myself at 9 pm.

I am so tired I could fall down.  What gives you the right?!

 

These “cries of desperation” make me so ANGRY.  They reek of self-centeredness, weakness, lame excuses.  It feels like I carry the brunt of the parenting, and when my husband needs to do one minor task he can’t handle it.  I mother the boys solo for 10-12 hours per day, but still need to help him do it for 2 more hours in the evenings?!  As though a yogurt-covered bib is the most difficult possible scenario with two boys under 4.

Then, my perspective shifted dramatically.  (Do you ever feel like the Lord just smacks you upside the head with an attitude adjustment?  That’s what happened.)

I was in the middle of a mighty internal struggle, trying to hold back my biting words (the comments in italics.)  For a blunt, opinionated woman like myself, this struggle is a lot like plugging holes in a dam with my fingers.  I usually fail.  But this time, I had a revelation.

My husband floundering in these mundane tasks doesn’t mean he is being wimpy or trying to pass off his parenting onto me.  It actually means I’m a superhero.

That I possess an important set of skills, a talent at putting out proverbial fires, can juggle an inordinate amount of crises at once.  That my super-intelligent, creative, patient, 2nd-grade-teacher husband is flattened by fatigue and mess and multiple toddlers, and I am not.

The fact that I can do this full-time parenting gig all day every day and still stay awake through storytime, not get yogurt on the carpet, remember the groceries late at night,  throw parties, and have neatly dressed little boys is a testament to my strengths, not his weaknesses.

We stay-at-home moms and dads, we professional parents, are superheros.  We can accomplish what many others cannot.  We’ve been called to have an enormous mental fortitude, determination, and patience, and continuously pour from what we have been given into others.

I’m really glad my attitude has shifted about this BEFORE we add more little humans to this family

So the next time you hear your partner say, “I can’t do this by myself!” or “Could you just help me?!” or “I’m too tired!” I suggest choosing to hear “You’re a superhero!” instead.

 

 

YouTube Giveaway! ft. Eventide Creations Wi

Hey blog readers!

I just wanted to pass along a giveaway opportunity that is going on my YouTube channel!

A fellow momma makes some wonderful embossed coffee mugs, and I’m giving one away on my channel to celebrate our 50 subscribers!  (Which is actually now 65 subscribers…)

!!! I HAVE EXTENDED THE LENGTH OF THE GIVEAWAY FOR AN ADDITIONAL WEEK!  NOW ENDING SUNDAY, 6/18/17!!!

Best of luck!

Let Go of Mom Guilt: Learn About Your Personality Type with Personality Hacker

Personality type quizzes and profiles have always missed the mark, for me.

Until this one.                                  (Affiliate links, but content is free excluding final link.)

sitting woman silhouette - Text: Let Go of Mom Guilt Learn About Your Personality Type

In a nutshell, your “personality type” is an outline of your dominant personal qualities, the way you tend to best think, feel, work, and interact with others.  The most esteemed version of this is probably the Myers-Briggs system – the one that assigns you four letters like INSF or ENTP, etc.  For more information on that, check here.

I stumbled upon a company called Personality Hacker and took their free personality test.  The results of this, the thorough explanation of personality types and ways to work with your personality to enhance your daily life, were life-changing.

Not exaggerating.

I’ve found out, from these resources, that I’m an INTP.  This type is blunt and honest, sometimes considered rude, and very intellectual (sometimes to a fault – spending a lot of time inside their own head musing over what they’ve learned and are working on.)  You can read more about INTPs here.

How on earth does this help with mom guilt?

Let me transcribe some daily thoughts of a real mom.  (Myself.)

“Should I call ______ to get together for a playdate?  I know she wanted to, but I really don’t feel like socializing.”

“_______ gave me a strange look while we were talking at the library.  Was I rude?  I was trying to be helpful.  How can I get people to realize I’m just being helpful?!”

“I just sat down to do paperwork for an hour… how is there no paperwork done?  I feel so guilty and unproductive.”

These are forms of mom guilt.  Trying to fit in socially with other moms and failing, trying to nurture and reach out but feeling misunderstood, struggling with being “productive enough” or doing “real work” enough hours out of the day.

The wealth of information that Personality Hacker’s website provided me about my personality type showed me that most of these kinds of struggles are directly flowing from my personality type.  It has given me license to stop fighting my daydreams, my idealism, my introversion, and my bluntness.  To stop feeling guilty about how my time is spent, where my mind wanders, and policing every syllable that comes out of my mouth.

The old me was completely convinced that these situations were results of not trying hard enough. Failing to be self-disciplined.  Being a mean person.  Not being “mom-like” enough.  Being disorganized.

All of my life,  I have been told that if I just tried harder, I could be more organized, productive, tactful, focused, social, patient, etc.  That I could have more friends, more time, more contentment if only I did things “the way everybody else does.”  And I believed this.

But an actually accurate personality typing has shown me a different truth.  The way I am, the kind of mom and woman and friend I am, is a personality type.  Others like me exist.  I’m not “doing it wrong,” I’m just doing it my own way.  I don’t actually need to try harder, socialize more, change the way I truly am inside.  It’s fine to INTP all over the place.  There are lots of great positives to this personality type, and so many free resources at Personality Hacker to help me enhance what I’d like to enhance.

What’s the catch?

No catch!  While these are affiliate links, the resources I have linked until now are all free.  I really used all of these pages myself, to learn more about my personality type and how it relates to others.  I followed links throughout the website to additional (free) content.  I’ve even joined a Facebook Group associated with Personality Hacker to participate in educated discussions about navigating the world as our true personality types.

I found Personality Hacker all on my own, used it for my own purposes, and felt compelled to share in this blog post.  Only after I began writing it did I reach out to Personality Hacker to let them know I was doing a write-up, and they surprised me with an affiliate program.  (That’s how we do here on Mostly Caffeinated – we’re never ever ever going to clickbait you, sell you stuff, or write just for affiliate purposes!)

Check out the free resources.  Learn about yourself, and how your version of motherhood / adulthood is perfectly valid.  It’s very freeing!

If you find you want to learn more, dive deeper, etc. there are paid programs you can join (webinars, downloadable resources, etc.)  including some on family and marriage.

 

What’s your personality type?  How does it play out in your home life for good?  What would you like to work on?

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

Why We Chose Adoption from Foster Care

I feel like we’re a bit of a minority in the adoption community.

We have our own biological children.  We could probably have more any time.

We are only 30.

We work with kids and teens every day (we’re educators.)

So why did we decide to adopt from foster care?

Our "Why" - Adoption from Foster Care

Let’s begin at the beginning, eh?

I’m adopted.  Now, I was adopted privately, as an infant, to parents who were almost 40 with infertility struggles.  So not really the same.  But at about 8 years old, I suddenly realized that adoption was a thing any adult could do, and I knew I wanted to adopt children.  I didn’t even know at that time if I wanted to marry or have biological children, but I was 100% committed to the idea of adopting some.

I chose adoption because my life was forever changed.

Fast forward to the ripe old age of 18, right before high school graduation.  My (now) husband and I are in my childhood living room, having a very sincere discussion about our future.  In this conversation, we established that we were going to marry each other, acquire a dog, and I came out of left field with, “You know I’m going to adopt some kids, right?”  To which he replied, wisely, “Okay, sure.”  Followed by, “And you know, if there’s several there, they’re all coming home with me, right?”  “That’s extreme, but yes, I know that.”

We chose adoption together.  It was foundational to our marriage.

So adoption has been in my heart for 20 years, and was put fully on the table right in our discussion of marriage.

5 years into marriage, we happened to have a baby.  And then another one.  And we talked about adoption this way: “When we have saved up the money, say around 40, we’ll be able to adopt those kids.”  It was never an “if,” always a “when.”

Then the story takes a sharp turn.  I made a friend in college to whom I am indebted for other reasons, but he and his wife added 3 children to their family from foster care.  We get together socially with this family, we love their kids, heard about their experience, enjoyed knowing a family who was adopting, but thought no more of it.  One day, we were involved in a conversation on Facebook with some other mothers, discussing how some of us thought someday adoption might be affordable for our families, when my friend uttered these fateful words:

“What we did was free.”

Free.

I had no idea.

I dove immediately into research, contacting, discussing with my husband.  It was a matter of a month before we were attending our first of many meetings and seminars and filling out paperwork.  And just 6 months later, we are only waiting on the office work at the agency before we will be approved for placements.

We chose adoption from foster care because we could afford to help children sooner.

As educators, there have been many incidents where we work closely with neglected or abused children, and wish we could take them home with us.  We want to change our students’ lives for the better, and some of these students need clean clothes and consistent adults and a hug before we can worry about their academic skills.  Of course, it isn’t legal to snatch up your students and take them home with you!

We chose adoption from foster care in order to help children on a more basic level than we can do at work.

I know everybody who chooses to adopt comes from their own set of experiences and desires, and I can’t claim to understand any other parents’ motivations.  For our family, our desire to adopt had nothing to do with nurturing an infant – we are very blessed to already have begun our family with two infants born to us biologically.  Because of this, we couldn’t think of any reason why we needed to undertake private adoption, or infant adoption.  We love being around older children and aren’t fearful of the speed bumps that come with adolescence or having a transracial family.  In fact, I find myself quite excited to jump into parenting an older child.

We chose to adopt from foster care because we, personally, are impartial about age or ethnicity.

If some of these reasons resonate with you, check out foster-to-adopt programs for your state!

Share your adoption stories or blog links below! 

mostly caffeinated mom why we chose adoption from foster care parent and child

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

5 Ways KonMari Minimalism Improves My Life

I can’t claim to be an expert minimalist.  I don’t count my possessions, I can’t fit everything I own in a backpack, I don’t have a spartan tiny home.

But goodness, do I have less stuff than I used to.  I aspire to minimalism.

I applied the KonMari method to my entire home when pregnant with my second baby.  Call it extreme nesting if you will.

I did it again as we were packing up that house to move.

And I’m doing it again right now in my new home (how did this stuff even get MOVED here?!)

It is the best homemaking decision I’ve ever made, and here’s why:

birch trees. Text: Minimalism Changed My Life

1 – Minimalism forces me to think deeply about purchases and gifts

Before I buy anything for my husband or kids, I think seriously about whether it is amazing and going to be used frequently.  This results in usually buying one joint large gift for Christmas – and this last year we skipped in entirely.  We went on a 2-day vacation with our dear friends instead, and it was so much better than a gift!For our children, we follow the 4 gifts principle – something to wear, something to read, something fun, and something they need.  (Clothing, a book, a toy/game/ticket to somewhere, new sheets, dishes, etc.)  Since they have grown up this way, they don’t expect anything more lavish.  My 3 1/2 year old still gets excited when we put his “new” sheets on his bed, and talks about how he opened them on Christmas.

2 – I am more motivated to finish the laundry and the dishes.

I only have enough sippy cups and coffee mugs for two days.  I also only have enough kid dishes, good knives, and pans for two days, so if I’m feeling unmotivated I can only possibly let the dishes go for a day before we run out of necessary items.  (Sippy Cups and Coffee Mugs would make a great blog name – feel free to borrow that one!)Likewise, we have pared down our wardrobes to the point where I can’t skip laundry.  Maybe this doesn’t happen to everyone, but before KonMari I could skip laundry indefinitely.  I had SO. MANY. CLOTHES. that it didn’t matter if I washed them or not, the closet just kept giving!  Now, my boys only have 6 pair of pants, so I have to wash them.  I use a capsule wardrobe, so I actually wear every piece in my closet and need to wash them to have options for the next week.

3 – Broken items rarely bother me

Fact: Kids break things.  Little Known Fact: My husband, somehow, breaks even more things.This used to bother me immensely, but the process of decluttering and reducing my possessions has definitely changed my mindset about material possessions.  Minimalism functions under the theory that possessions are not important, period.  Because of this, I’m not going to get upset at a person who accidentally ruins one.  I actually say, “Well, there’s one more thing I don’t have to own!”  It helps me let go of even one more item – it has been decided for me by being broken.

4 – Less guilt

This is a problem I didn’t even realize I had until I became familiar with the KonMari method of minimalism.  I had no idea how much guilt I was inviting into my daily life by keeping possessions around that I didn’t love.

“I should really be using that, _____ gave it to me.”

“Forgot I had that.  What a waste of money!”

“I need to go find _____ and set it out so _____ thinks I’m using it.”

“I should dust.  Haven’t touched that shelf of things in months.”

“Here’s the box of ugly things I have to keep around.”

“Let’s sort the Christmas ornaments: Ones we like, ones we can get rid of, ones we don’t like but can’t get rid of.”

“I need to find a place to put _____ where nobody will really see it.”

These are true.  Not exaggerated.  I actually had to think these thoughts routinely about possessions in my home.

I heard it so many times, but didn’t truly believe it until I decluttered objectively: The people you’ve loved don’t cease to exist just because you get rid of “things.”  I didn’t need to keep around heirlooms, gifts, greeting cards, what-have-you from deceased or faraway relatives simply to remember them by.  I’m not going to forget them!  I do have some heirlooms and gifts that I really, truly love and use almost everyday.  I enjoy that those particular items happen to have come from people close to me.  Beyond that, I’ve learned to let go.  And now I don’t have to hear those guilty thoughts inside my head anymore. (Katie from The Decluttering Queen wrote a great post about “keepsakes!“)

The same goes for money spent  You already “wasted” the money.  Having the items staring at you all the time isn’t going to help the situation – it’s just going to make you feel bad daily, instead of once by decluttering the item.

5 – Ease of cleaning, dressing, packing, etc.

Less clutter on surfaces = easier to wipe or dust.
Fewer toys = even if the kids empty out the whole playroom, it’s not that much to pick up.
Capsule wardrobe = just count outfits to pack.  Everything goes together, everything fits, everything feels good to wear.

And this is why I continually look to minimize our home even more.  It has brought such a relaxed, peaceful mindset about possessions and really helped me curb my attachment to them.  There is so much more mental space and time in a day to work at things that truly matter, because I’m not devoting time to shuffling items around (physically or mentally!) picking out clothes, avoiding housekeeping, lingering over decisions about keeping or storing.

What benefits are you hoping to see from your minimalism journey?

What positive experiences have you already had along the way?