5 Tips to Grow Closer to your Partner and Feel More Known


(photo by Tiffany Burke)

Charlie and I have been together for 12 years, and married 8. That seems like a blink when I imagine the long haul of decades ahead of us, but the reality is that we’ve lasted longer than many marriages and seem to be on the right trajectory as we are only falling more in love, like, and ridiculous ‘HOW DID I GET MY FAVORITE PERSON FOREVER?!?!’ each day. Or, most days. . .

The ups and downs are there, of course, and as such I wanted to share a few tips that help us to stay more up than down and keep us moving forward in our respect, understanding, and mutual love.

  1. Ask for what you need. This feels obvious, but it’s a lesson we’re both still learning. I’ll give a little example; Charlie works a really physical job and is someone with an incredibly fast metabolism, so he needs to eat. . . a lot. Whenever he would get home from work (after bike commuting too) he would be famished! He would be irritable, shaky, and short tempered. But still, we plugged along, me annoyed that he wasn’t immediately helpful to our household, and him HanGry (it’s real). This past week he started texting me a bit before he left saying “would you mind making me something so I can eat it when I get home?” and I did. It wasn’t a ton of extra work (the kids ask for what they need, food, all.the.time. I can whip up one more apple and PB!).  I liked that I wasn’t being expected to anticipate his every need (this is an important note, I could have just seen that he needed this and done it, but I hadn’t, because I’m up to my ears in peoples’ needs.) and that he didn’t have any expectation that I do this. But, he knows that if he asks me for something, if I can, I will. If I can’t, I won’t. This little change made a huge effect on our week! Looking back I wish I would have just said “hey, do you want me to have a snack ready for you?”  and opened that door of communication. Alternately, I’m really glad this was of his own accord, asserting a need he had, and asking for help. That’s so healthy!
  2.  Make a point of asking them about their day, in detail. This one is huge for me. It’s like my kid’s. Noele will go through two hours of classes and if I just say “so, how were your classes!?” I can want to hear it all, but she only answers the immediate question, so I get about 15 seconds of review from 120 minutes away. The same is true for Charlie and I. If he says “how was your day?” I’m likely to respond with the generalities. But if he asks me “How did you feel during that playdate with so-and-so?” or “did you get time to write about that thing we talked about yesterday?” or “I know we left that conversation unfinished last night when Ever came into bed, are you doing alright?” He asks me questions that show he knows me, thinks about me, and wants to know me more. I work to ask him the same, not just “how was work?” but about specific meetings, jobs, tasks, and things that I know are on his mind. This is one of those ones that grows the more you do it, the more you understand each other, the more there is to ask and know. It’s a snowball effect, and the end game is a far deeper empathy and love for your partner as you gain a bigger understanding of their heart and a better picture of their life through their eyes.
  3. Know not only their love language, but your own. Ask for that love. I read and loved The Love Language Book about ten years ago and it was so important. But, then I read it again to figure out not just how to love Charlie, but how to ask for love. The gist is that your spouse might have Physical Touch as their love language and be hugging you, offering to rub your back, hold your hand in the store, and you may just think “UGH, get off of me. Just please do the dishes, and play with the kids, mow the lawn, and take something off my plate!” but they feel like they’re giving you so much love. But if you’re love language is Acts of Service (all those things I just listed!) you won’t feel love from all their touch. It can be so hard! Charlie and I have very different love languages, and it means that you have to choose to give love in a way that might not be wholly natural to you. For example, one of my love languages is acts of service. I feel so, so, so loved when I come out from putting the girls to bed and the kitchen is clean. Like, SO loved. Consequently, Charlie does just that; Every Single Night. The other day we were cleaning up and then I went to read for awhile and when I came back he had rearranged the office… REARRANGING IS MY HEART SONG… I nearly cried! It meant a cleaner space, and he did it on his own! I couldn’t have felt more loved. Knowing my love language, and being able to really recognize the ways Charlie is loving me through it, make me appreciate him even more. I followed my own advice, above, and told him what that love language was and asked for him to help me out. It works! And now it’s become easier and easier and to show each other love in the ways we really need.
  4. Hear Them. This goes along with all the rest, asking all these questions, showing love how they need, but the piece that is often missing is hearing them, compassionately. If you listen slowly, empathetically, and with unabashed care, you’ll hear more of them and not just your frustration. Try to hear subtext. Frustration is often underwritten with fear, or sadness, or worry. Try to hear that, and ask boldly about it. If your partner is angry at work, try to hear what the fear might be and ask them about it. The more you have out in the open about those big and small worries and feelings, the more they can diffuse or be helped. Be a safe space.
  5. This one is really important. And one that can be really hard. But possibly the most important. Call out unhealthy behavior. This can mean gas lighting, manipulation, violent communication, ect. All of those sound like really big words, and when they’re chronic, they are. But all of us fail in these ways from time to time, but it’s paramount to not let this style of communication and treatment become normal in relationship. You, and your partner, are worth compassion, non-violent communication, and empathy.

Employing all of these is a lifetime work. We’re constantly checking in with one another to make sure that heart and needs are being met. I can say, with total assurance, the more we do these things, the easier and brighter our love becomes.


Also, there are affiliate links (the book!) in this post, clicking them helps me pay to keep this blog up and running. Thanks!

You Are a Badass, a book review, from a Love/Hate reader.


I’m a former self-help book hater. I don’t know why, they fit my sunny I LOVE IT ALL! view to a T. But I never found one that seemed to be helpful, about something I cared about,  or felt like I needed help with. The first deviation from this was when I read It Starts With Food. It’s basically a science-heavy self help book about diet/food relationships. I hated it, but, it changed my life in really amazing ways.

You Are a Badass worked out about the same. I had heard all the buzz, was curious about it, sure I would think it was hokey, but picked it up anyhow.

What I Hated: I didn’t want to start with what I didn’t like about the book, but I think it’s so glaring and important that it deserves a big caveat. This book says a lot of big and hard and inspiring things about changing your life, you capability in that, and how it’s basically all there for the taking. This leaves out the enormous reality of privilege (many many things are easily there for me, a white middle class woman, that aren’t there for others. That’s important to point out) and experiences where all the positive thinking in the world won’t pull you out. It also leaves very little room for anyone who isn’t neurotypical, or who has any sort of disabilities. The book also talks in generalities about people who have a big dose of privilege, are not chemically depressed, and who don’t have any disabilities. My other beef with the book is her tone. This was the same issue I had with Melissa Hartwig’s writing. The “tough love” and super abrasive tone are lost on me, and coming into a book about a theme I have at least a base level of understanding about and being written to like I am an idiot is a complete turn off.

But. . . it’s testament to how much I love that content, that I was fully capable of reading past the tone, and getting a lot out of the information in the book.

What I Loved: So much. When the book isn’t abrasive, it’s conversational, and feels like a therapist who is actually giving you exercises and tools instead of just telling you all the ways you’re screwed up. It’s rife with journaling ideas, walked through step by step, and so much empowerment. This book is a self-help book for those who either hate self-help books or have already read a million and nothing has changed. She makes it all very easy to follow, feel accessible, and somehow manages to weasel the words “the source energy” into your daily lexicon! I mean, I find myself saying to Charlie (to rolled eyes sometimes) “I manifested this! Heyo for source energy!”

I also loved that there is a LOT of room for religion and faith in this book.  . . or not. The author is a Christian and likes to call God “Source Energy” but is quick to admit that you could say anything you want for this; The Universe, Love, Magic, Source Energy, whatever! It’s faith. Faith in what you can do, and have, but can’t see.

I loved that this book introduced topics that I didn’t realize I was so uncomfortable with, but needed to face my discomfort in order to change and grow out of. Old thought patterns that I believe have been keeping me from really going after so many of my goals. It also had a big effect on how I talk to my girls about these things. What do I say to them about money, their dreams, what they are capable of, ect.

It was a head scratcher in all the best ways. I found that I couldn’t read much more than a chapter without needing to sit and just think, or write, or read it again.

How it Changed Me: In hokey ways I’m almost embarrassed to write, but want to share anyhow. It gave me new goals, and a fire to know that those goals are within my reach. I am writing down my goals, saying them outloud, and making plans for them to be true… soon. The book has made me really rethink my ideas and feelings on money. Like, really really rethink them. Previously I’ve  never had a savings goal that was anything beyond “what we need” nothing extravagant, because that felt like it was prideful or gross. Now? I’m making some big money goals, and am really (really) excited about what I can do with that extra money. I’m dreaming of being able to expand the Giving Tree in huge ways, dreaming of one day being able to afford to really help our homeless community more than the $20 I can give to the guy I always see outside the mall. There are people out there making enormous amounts of money and doing terrible things with it. I want to be the opposite. I want to see how much I can make to see how much I can give.

I’ve restarted my meditation practice. I’ve had it, lost it, had it, lost it and am starting it up again. The benefits of meditation are proven far and wide beyond what this book talks about, and I know them intimately. I’ve upped my game and found ways to really make mediation work for me and how my mind rolls, and I’m excited about it! I plan to share some tips that have worked for me, soon!

Now What: I read it again. I do the journal entries a bit more in depth. And I really, really, step into the things I know I am capable of. It feels so bizarre, and hokey, and maybe a little strange. But I can look back on my life and see how much The Universe  (or God, but I actually really like “The Universe” as a name for God even more, but that’s another post!), is for me so many times where I thought “how will this work?!” and it did. In exactly the most perfect way.

Adriene, of Yoga With Adriene (my favorite online yoga!), has a mantra that goes “The Universe is for you, and so is everyone else!” and I LOVE that, the idea that we can all be on one team, pushing each other on to succeed in the ways our hearts are most designed to! I am embracing that mantra, along with my other favorite one “Yes, please!” and setting goals, small and big, writing them everywhere, and moving forward.

I am expecting big things from myself, not just as a Mama (but as that too!), but as a teacher of my kids, as a partner, and as a writer!


Also, there are affiliate links (the books!) in this post, clicking them helps me pay to keep this blog up and running. Thanks!

Life lately. A taste of our homeschool.

I’ve hesitated to share much about our homeschooling. For… many reasons. One that I am still a little nervous when I so publicly proclaim We.Are.Homeschoolers. Secondly, I am such a new homeschooler that a all I can offer is what we are doing, and has worked so far, but ‘so far’ is only a year and a half. We’re babies in this! I realized my hesitation was keeping me from documenting a time that is important, will be deep and heart pulling to look back on (one of the main reasons I love to blog! my baby book! for better or worse.), and? I feel like we’re doing a pretty awesome job!


Life lately has been full, rich, and really fun. Ages 4 and 6 (nearly 7…what?) are magic feeling. They’re old enough to really communicate and have intense and deep conversations with, but their big love of play and unabashed enjoyment of imaginary adventures is very much intact. It’s amazing to be in a world beyond baby; no naps! They can understand waiting/delayed gratifications/the beginnings of empathy! (!!)



We’ve been adventuring around, playing hard, spending hours upon hours reading and dancing, story telling, and reading aloud (these past two weeks we read The Magicians Nephew and The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe). My homeschool curriculum for this year is a lot of reading, and talking, reading, and talking some more. Their ability to synthesize and grow in reading comprehension has grown exponentially since adding reading aloud to our days.

Our classes at the school program we utilize are fun and engaging, and we all adore school. N is in school for two hours, three days a week and then we spend at least another hour playing on the playground with all her buddies. Running around zooming about as witches, or playground games that are still around 25 years later (Grounders! Hot Lava!), and really deepening her friendships and social skills. My big concern, the most asked about ‘homeschooler problem’, was “will she have enough social outlet? will she develop social skills?”… that is now throughly laughable. We turn down social activities time and time (and time) again in favor of “we need a home day!”. At school she is in a classroom of her peers, and after that hour she’s playing and running, wrestling, and pretending with a wide age range of kiddos on the playground for hours.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that there isn’t a division of age in the same way that there is in a typical classroom. Children are expected to be capable of (or learn to quickly with the help of parents) playing and communicating, sharing and watching out for, the toddlers on the playground just as much as the tweens! The same goes for their adult interactions. They are as likely to be chatting with their Mom, beloved teacher, or a peer’s grandparent who is there with a friend for the day.  Seeing the older homeschool kids in our community (around 13/14) help babies out on the slide and then go on to talk about new apps they like with their peers, and then join right in showing the primary kiddos how to really use the pogo stick is incredible! Everyone works and plays together. I value that so deeply, as that is a far more accurate representation of life after k-12. I’m rarely just with my peers, need to have the social skills to talk to many ages, and love seeing how my girls are learning to enjoy and engage with a big range of people.


Once we got through the first month of getting back into the groove, things have felt better and better. We still don’t really have ‘a groove’, we’re changing what works for each of our subjects each week sometimes. I’m seeing N meet goals and blow the “norms” out of the water, and feeling really excited by her. Some of the best activities we’ve adopted into our homeschool routine are; Tea Time (every day, but once a week it includes cooking and baking together). Recipe writing, coming up with the idea and writing their own recipes, or transcribing recipes from the internet. And bathtub science experiments (bonus! clean tub at the end!). I am planning on sharing a bit more about each of those weekly adventures, soon!


(Goldie Blox= Engineering)

We’re only in year two of homeschooling, but I feel like I am much calmer than last year, but still not quite sure what I’m doing. The best advice I can give to a brand new homeschooling family, is if you are reading a lot, talking a lot, and listening more, you’re doing just fine.

It’s been quite an adventure for us, and one I am so thankful to be on.


Making time for Play! The importance of play, especially during the school year.


The school year is now in full swing, October is here, and we are embracing the routines and lunch making, teacher e-mails, and extra tired kiddos. School work in the evenings, and soccer games on the weekends, time is scheduled richly and it’s easy to begin to live in the routine, to feel like you are just keeping up. The past few weekends we’ve made a point of clearing a day in the schedule to Just. Play.

For our family that can take two different paths, it can mean a day fully at home. Unplugging from social media and our phones in favor of time spent on the floor, really listening, and making up as many ridiculous voices for our new Lego Friends as we can. The second option is to get outside! I’ve written before about how much more easily our family connects when we leave our four walls, school work, to-do list, and projects behind, in favor of nature.


The benefits of play have been researched and proven time and time again, play gives our children better language, more social skills, changes and grows the prefrontal cortex and helps to wire the brain’s executive control center (that plays a critical role in regulating emotions, plan making, and problem solving). Play, according to Sergio Pelis (a researcher at the University of Lethbridge) “Play… Is what prepares a young brain for life, love, and even schoolwork.”

Filling our children up with some great food, and the chance for free play and big adventure on the weekends has nothing but benefits to us, and them!


10 Way to Encourage Play, and Connection!

  1. Pick a place you all want to visit. In this post I’m sharing images from two different adventures. One, a local Pumpkin Patch, that provided us with all sorts of easy play options, right there. Another, a beautiful beach near our home, that left more for us to explore, hike, play, and let the kids lead the way with imaginative play. (Ever play baby coyotes looking for their mama on a real cliff? That will get your heart pumping!)
  2. Say Yes! When we were packing up for Rosario Beach, my daughter was set on bringing her baby doll/its diaper bag. I wanted to say no, encourage her to play out in nature, and make sure that she was sticking with my view of “play” (hiking! rock stacking and identifying!). Instead, I said “sure!” and we all had so much fun hearing all about the babies adventures in the tall grass, her imagination going wild as she played all the ways the baby was enjoying “seeing the world for the first time!”. It allowed her an easy way to access play in a  familiar way, in a new spot, and gave us all a prop that helped us easily drop into her play world.
  3. Pack extra food and clothes! We’ve had many (many) outings thwarted by an over hungry kid. So now we pack a bunch of snacks, extra water, and a spare outfit for everyone, everytime. We partnered with CLIF Kids and packed CLIF Kid Zbar’s on these adventures. CLIF Kid is dedicated to reclaiming play all year long.  And are encouraging boys and girls everywhere to get back outside, push their boundaries, and feed their adventures. These bars were perfect for the way our girls play on the go. They rarely want to sit down to eat, so having something that goes with them on their adventures means they get to keep going, but not have the crash at the end once their bodies assert their hunger over their excitement. I also keep extra clothes in the car – you never know when wading into an October ocean may happen, or a happy hour spent digging in red dirt will occur. Having back up food and clothes may feel like over preparation with school aged kids and a close by location, but they can be a life saver and an adventure extender time and time again.
  4. Be quiet. Kids will lead your play. They are natural born players! The more we, as parents, can just be quiet and follow along, the more you can all find easy ways to connect together. Even when that means quite a lot of silence, trust that, in that quiet, kiddo brains are going and going strong. Pay attention and let there be some silence and then the play will just happen.



  1. Get down on their level! We learn this when they are toddlers, but often lose it when they begin to creep up to waist height. It’s still important. Getting down to their level, looking them in the eye, and engaging with what they are saying (even if it’s super out there and weird!), will serve to connect you deeper and open more trust between you two.
  2. Put away your phone. This one is hard. And obvious. And hard again. Dedicating two hours to putting your phone fully away can do amazing things for your play, your relationships, and our attention spans. The longer I go without my phone (I am so attached to it. . . ) when we are out adventuring, the more I notice/feel/enjoy and the better and more natural my play beings to be (this is true at home too!).
  3. Remember how much you enjoyed play. 70% of Mom’s played outside when they were kids, 31% of their kids play outside today. For me, it’s easier to prioritize play, adventure, and engaging in places for play (Soccer fields! Play grounds! Beaches! Hikes! Parks! Your own front stoop or yard!) when I remember my own experiences playing, I remember spending hours a day combing the green-belt behind my best friend’s house, coming home, covered in mud, hungry and grinning from a day of active play! Wanting to give my kid’s those experiences helps keep me planning trips, and creating engaging situations where they can play.
  4. Know your limitations, play accordingly. Do you struggle to get playing? Go somewhere that really sets you up for success. The pumpkin patch had a place to launch pumpkins, pet baby animals, ride ponies, and play in a big pen of shucked corn kernels. Going somewhere that had activities already set up can make it really easy to engage in play with your kid, even if you haven’t exercised those play muscles in long time. A couple of adventures like that and you will possess better knowledge of how your kid likes to play and how you can easily connect with them in that play.
  5. Ask your kid what they want to do. This seems obvious, but sometimes as parents we forget to check in as we schedule and schedule. It can be as easy as a few options “Hey, are you wanting to head to a stormy beach or the mountains to play?” or, if you aren’t a PNW mountains/beach lover with those close at hand, you can ask, “what kind of space for play do you like?” (local park, or a new park you haven’t been to, a trail, the new kids museum, or something else that you haven’t heard of and they want to check out! Be open to their suggestions.). With google at our finger tips we have so  many ways to find play all around us.
  6. PLAY! Obviously, to play,  you have to play. Allow space for silly, excited, loud, ridiculous, what might feel embarrassing. It’s worth it! You can do it! Shake off your grown up’ness and really play! Maybe the only way you know how is to sing the hokey pokey, well… sing it loud and proud and get wiggling. Or maybe you’re more comfortable behind a ball – bring a soccer ball to kick around, or a frisbee to toss. The more you are into it, the more likely it is your kids will be too.


Packing our girls up for adventure means packing snacks I know they will eat. My girls are CLIF Kid Zbar obsessed, and are especially into the Goblin Chocolate and Iced Lemon Cookie flavors. The bars are packed with nutrients for active kiddos, are organic, non-GMO, are the right size for their little bodies, and have no high fructose corn syrup or artificial flavors (or synthetic preservatives). My kids aren’t big eaters when there is fun to be had, so having flavors that they really want (lemon and chocolate!) is paramount to actually getting something with some fuel and energy into their bodies. Finding a snack that can compete with a petting zoo, rock cliff, and a  train ride? YES PLEASE.



To see more fun examples of play, and be for sure reminded of your own kid adventures, check out this video from CLIF Kid!



I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

5 Tips for Making Grey Days your Best Days.


Washington is well known for it’s rain. The  locals camps seem to fall in two spaces;  “yes! Grey rain! I’ll cuddle in and be productive today!” and “OMG ANOTHER DAY OF RAIN TURN IT OFF.”

Here are a few ways I embrace being the former, and try to cultivate that grey=productive mentality that so many PNWers have learned to harness

Play! I’ve found a few ways that seem to really work, are speedy, and turn my mood around a bit. First, reading silly books out loud to the girls, it gets us all giggling and embracing the cozy of the day. Second, playing with my hair. Trying a new braid, style, whatever, is a quick way to make me feel better inside/outside and shake off the morning gloom of a dark home. Finally, dress up….are you feeling low? Look at that outfit Ever put together! That’s not even dress up, that’s what she wore to school. I adore her.


Brave it, and get outside a minute! Even just a few big deep breaths on the porch. That wet, cold air is SO good for bodies and hearts. We bundle up in jackets and puddle stomp. PNW means no umbrellas. Feeling the rain for just a minute (not a sopping wet walk unless you’re hardcore… I am, my favorite time for a run is in the pouring rain) can help you turn your mood around. It also gets you the maximum light and reminds you that it’s still bright outside even if the grey is dimming your home.

Music. This is the time to cue up your favorite Spotify or Pandora stations and let it be loud. I’ve got “Me Too Radio”, “Indie Holiday”, and “Friendsgiving” on shuffle. It’s keeping our home ultra PNW cozy.

Embrace it. Be reflective. Write, journal, cry, sing, let the grey treat your eyes like an onion and be deep in it. I have to give myself those days to feel extra tender, and live in it, instead of only trying to shake it off. Use and harness those extra sensitive feelings to propel any sort of creative work you want to do. Even if it’s just coloring and drawing with kids, doodle hard, write deep, and let those rainy days be real for you. I know that all sounds very ‘woo woo’ but there is huge power and change in allowing yourself to Feel What you are Feeling, While you are Feeling it. Don’t push it off with food, or TV, or distraction. Allow it to be there.


Cook. Bake. Turn on the oven. Rainy days are days for oatmeal cookies, curated snack plates, and whole roasted chicken. If you are going to be stuck inside, and home all day, use it to your advantage with a meal that fills your hours and your home with fall smells, and guarantees a dinner around the table together.

When I let the grey be ok, I get stuff done, and feel more like myself. If I give into the rhetoric that rain is the worst and grey days are sad. Then I am sad, bummed, and lamenting things I can’t get done. Instead I let my PNW shine bright, and embrace the extra coffee, early evenings, and warm house from a hot stove.

A gift guide for the atypical; A dad who doesn’t fit the end cap ideas.


Charlie has a lot of likes, so he is (in theory) a relatively easy person to buy for. Except, he doesn’t fit many of the go-to gift guides for Dad’s. He doesn’t drink, doesn’t love coffee, doesn’t play sports, and isn’t into hunting/fishing. SO, often times the store gift rounders for “Dad!” are rife with junky tools (obviously, he wouldn’t want those!), beer centered gifts, or sports paraphernalia. SO, I wanted to put together a little gift guide for those of us with people in our lives whose likes are a little different than the norm.

A Gift Guide for the Woodworking, Rock Climbing, Puzzle Loving, Science Enjoying, Clothes Liking, Hiking, VARIED LIKES BECAUSE PEOPLE, Individual In Your Life.

Or, you know, something like that. 

{affiliate links included}

Currently we all share a kid sized, monkey adorned, chalk bag, when we climb. Updating to this would make his day, and likely his climbs better since his hand could actually fit into the bag, hah.










Charlie loves solving puzzles, our perplexus ball is a constant hit for him and Noele (a budding puzzle lover!). But these wooden puzzles are gorgeous, and would look as good on his desk as they would be fun.










This one might be specific to Charlie, but maybe you also have a person in your life who works away the wee hours of the morning in a cold space. I have my eye on this mounted heater, it seems like it would work well for his small space but still put off quite a bit of heat. I’m looking at this one and the one at Costco that looks a bit like a fan but is a heater!










Charlie is a coat lover. But he over heats quickly so I want to get him a fleece that he could unzip and easily take off, but that will keep him warm when we hike and go on all our weekend adventures and cool weather camp-outs. I have a major affinity for Patagonia brand and this coat, but in blue, would be so perfect.











Ok, funny Math T-Shirts are his jam. This one, or this one, or this one… all of them. He could easily have a closet full of math puns and a be a happy man.

I also have on my list an amazing water bottle for him. This is almost laughable because of how often he used to lose water bottles, but I have high hopes that if he had a great one, that actually kept everything cold and amazing, he would keep it with him! I also have these on my own wish list too…. so maybe this is a selfish one, hmmmm.






I’ll also probably pack his stocking with some new socks, a fun homemade beard oil (I’ll share my recipe!), and some homemade peanut butter cups. We are trying to do about a 3/4 homemade Christmas (we used to do 100% but… I can’t seem to make Legos and American Girl dolls… dang kiddos). So I’ll have a nice long list of homemade things I am making for him, the whole family, and myself (am I the only Mom who makes herself gifts??). I’ll share that in the coming weeks!

Dear Mama of a School Aged Child, October is here.

img_1708I know we thought we would hit this age and magically it would be easier. We wouldn’t be as sleep deprived, our kids would communicate and tell us when they needed to pee and eat and to hold them when they’re sad. Bedtime wouldn’t be (so) laborious, and the idea of waiting would make some sense. We wait, so diligently, for the empathy teaching and emotion coaching to pay off in these kids who know their hearts and minds, tell us their feelings. Thinking all of that would make it feel easier.  

I thought that around year five of parenting, we would have a clue. That I’d feel tougher when they cry, or that it wouldn’t sting and hurt and awake the Mama bear any time they weren’t included in the playground game. But here I sit in the gym at school with my kids running wild, all of us Mamas with our hands over full, and looking at each other with our big kids and our little kids and our ‘wtf are we doing for lunch’ faces thinking “do you have it together? Does she have it together? I don’t have it together.”  because we’re all still a little adrift. A lot adrift.

I thought when I hit 30 we’d have it financially figured out. My kids would be in sports, theatre, clubs and the like. I thought we would be a two car family who was keeping up. I didn’t anticipate having to carefully plan every meal to fit the budget, pick and choose the extra curriculars only as they fit with our odd jobs’ incomes and random selling of stuff we purge.

We looked forward to age 30 the way I used to look at age 16. So old. So grown. So mature. So ready. When I was 9 I remember praying with every fiber of my heart to just have God give me a vision of what I would look like at 16. Would I be as pretty as my sister? Would I have a boyfriend? I’d drive, and eat fast food with friends at lunch, I would be mature, and cool, and smart, and attend every football game. Then, at 25 with two babies, I dreamed of  30. Then my kids will be in school, I’ll be having all the time in the world. I’ll pursue my dreams, and feel so fulfilled. I’ll have written a book and be a success. I’ll have gotten my ‘body back’ and be hotter than before. “God, please, please, show me how hot and amazing I am at 30!”

Now at 30 we carousel our children from activity, to class, and lead them all because it’s cheaper. All the Mama’s, exchanging glances over these heads that almost reach our chins, still without a clue as the kids ask us hard questions that stop us in our tracks. Questions that make me rethink my beliefs, daily.

The homeschool Moms, all huddled with our snacks, and bags, curriculum overflowing, and doubts tumbling out as we reassure ourselves that we can stop anytime, and that this is just going till they’re done. We’re in deep. We’ve created classrooms at home, and overscheduled to the point of exhaustion just to be sure we never succumb to the stereotype that our kids aren’t socialized.

The Mom’s with kids in school fretting over how their child is faring, being treated, adjusting, and; are they missing us? Waking early, rushing to drop off, fearing they haven’t packed them enough or enticing enough lunches.  They are rushing off to jobs and meetings, expectations that they have their head in the game, and not be balancing the anxiety of The First Day of School. Or they are dropping off and going home. The home feeling changed, a first born gone and subsequent kids adrift and in need of extra attention, playmates, work for you. Or an empty home. The weight of all that you ‘should’ do with this time pulling in every direction. Productivity is your assignment and report card to your family. “You were home alone all day? What did you do?” as culture signs you up for mimosas, brunches, a new exercise regime, and a spotless home. When really, all that would serve your heart, is a long break after years of serving.

We’re all there. Packing lunches, fretting over our children’s futures. They no longer can’t tell us how they feel, but they often choose not to. It feels harder, and bigger, than when they cried and we bounced them to sleep. It feels like the tool box is empty and all we have are open hands, faces, and not enough time.

I see you and hear you, Elementary Mom. The new normal and eventual balance will swing into place. As we watch our children make these transitions, we can follow their lead. Break down when needed, fall into the arms of the person or people who love us most, and trust our own growth. Or, see where change needs to happen and adopt it with resilience as the routines shift. We aren’t alone.

The months tick on, September leaves us behind (thank God), and Fall hits it’s full stride just as we do to. Children who now know the routine, Mom’s who are shaking out and into their new roles.

Mostly, I remember, that the tool box is still full. Big kids still need rocked. School aged kids  still want to lay in bed together and snuggle in deeper. Weekends mean more to us, time means more to us. October is here, and the sigh of relief that September has passed is palpable. Fall has arrived, and so will we, as motherhood keeps on moving on.


Cold and Sore Throat Buster!

I have always relied on tea during any kind of illness. Hot tea is a healer for my throat. This recipe takes that up a notch and is a great way to help ease a sore and thick (do you know what I mean?) throat ache.


{affiliate links included in this post}

On Saturday night I could feel that I was getting nasally and coming down with a cold. I wanted so desperately to get out and adventure on Sunday AM so I whipped this up and got some extra sleep, I made another cup Sunday morning and we had the best, brightest day. It’s easy to put together! The Marine Collagen from Vital Proteins is incredibly helpful, and boosts healing time, in my experience, but mostly brings really instant relief. But if you don’t have collagen (peptides would work too!) on hand, this tea on it’s own is pretty potent and helpful!

Collagen Healing Tea:

One Cup herbal tea, already steeped ( I like good earth, it’s super inexpensive and sweet and spicy and a strong enough flavor to hold it’s own with all these other ingredients)

Half one lemon


One Scoop Collagen ( Marine or Peptides)

One tsp raw honey

Stir all together very well

One heaping TBS Coconut oil, DO NOT STIR

Float the coconut oil on top of your tea, allow it to melt and tea to cool to drinkable (but still quite warm) and drink it down relatively quickly. The oil will coat your throat, the ACV will help to kill bacteria, the collagen will boost your immunity and begin healing you, the lemon, honey, and tea are soothing and a perfect vehicle. 


I drink this in the morning to help my body get moving and to keep my immunity high during this season, but it’s an amazing remedy for cold/flu symptoms. The bugs are pretty nasty this time of year and with back to school I am finding myself mixing this up a few times a week. If you cut the lemon a bit and up the honey this is also a great drink for sick kiddos, and helps you get a little protein into them as well.


Thank goodness I chugged that down… because look at what I might have missed? We spent the day adventuring at Rosario Beach and I can’t wait to share more about it!

Know Thyself, getting to know myself.


The older I get the more I realize how much control I really do have in this moment. I am not at the whim of my monsters, I am in control of them. Because they are me. Those thoughts, are mine. Those words and cruel intentions, mine too. The desire to lash out, say awful things to my husband, bury myself in my bed with my phone and distraction layered with indulgence, pretending it’s ‘self care’ is me. All me.  When inspiration runs dry I find myself shutting down. The sure indicators that I am choosing to sit in an empty well are my next actions: I run to Facebook, Netflix, Snapchat, or any distraction that allows me to imbibe without giving.

I allow the negative thoughts to grow larger and larger in my head until they loom like monsters who rule the space and my positive thinking and strong little voice are sobbing in a corner, fearing the next actions.

When my well is dry, inspiration gone, I am in a scary spot. Extra prickly. Depleted and looking for self care, confused.

So when I feel that familiar ‘rug pulled out from under me’ feeling that accompanies heartache, hurt feelings, and inspiration gone… I have two options.

Let myself fall fully. Heartache wide out there, tears streaming, kicking my feet in embarrassment and frustration at my own incapability to shake it off. Or stand slowly back up, and gather my tools. (I don’t always choose wisely, and I’m learning that that’s also ok.)

It’s taken 30 years to know my tools well. To be able to distinguish the self-care bandages, from the self indulgence bleeding out. Sometimes I tend to the latter. I feel unliked, embarrassed, or made fun of and instead of moving out of that I sit and think through all the reasons they are likely right, that I am a silly narcissist oversharing on the internet and that the way I love to parent is over the top and I need to cut some apron strings… or something. I do this with chocolate, internet, bitterness and TV. Nothing lends itself to feeling worse-better than hate-reading IG and overeating ice-cream. I know it’s indulgence and not healing because I end it feeling more depleted than before.

My self care tools look different than before. I would have listed them differently than I do now. My self care now… right this minute: Writing my heart out, in ways that leave me exposed, to the sound track of The Magic School Bus.

My self care is a hot bath and no media, allowing myself the space to cry about things no one else would, judgment free. My self care is the workout I’ve put off. It takes my brain somewhere else for 45 minutes and leaves me with space for new thoughts, loving thoughts, at the end. Self care can look like chocolate and a perfect view, but most of the time is looks like Getting Stuff Done, and spending that ‘self care time’ reminding myself that I am capable, and worthy, even if I am over sensitive and empathetic to a fault.

I’ve started to embrace that what a calm brain looks like for me, won’t be the same as someone else, and that’s ok. Even if it’s something that gets poked fun at. An organized, curated home, calms me. A clean kitchen and home cooked meal fills me up. Playing deeply with the girls gives me love and satisfaction that no cup of wine ever did. I have tried for quite a while to push those off as ‘not self care’ because they still Serve someone else. Lately I realize, my self care, and my serving, are often inextricable. Ridiculous or not, that’s written into my code pretty deeply.

Charlie and I made a pact in our marriage to always “Strive to Out Serve” (FYI: this only works if you are both into it, duh). It’s given to us hugely. It’s changed perspectives, kept our home in a way that calms us both, and leads us both to asking “what do you need, now?” on a regular basis. It’s been scoffed at as ridiculous, but 8 years in, it’s still pulling us closer to each other every day. It’s self care, for me, to serve in a way that builds up my confidence. My confidence in my parenting, my marriage, myself. When those things bloom, so do I.

I in no way have this figured out. Earlier this week, tending to my over-sensitive wounds looked like skipping a workout, eating an enormous fro-yo, and crying to cheesy early 2000’s music (Save tonight, fight the break of dawn!) while I spewed all my jumbled thoughts to my BFF (Charlie). Today I woke up ready to pick up true self love.

Waking early to write, hot coffee, employing Ms.Frizzle as my babysitter, and putting my heart out onto page in the way that moves me forward, even if it doesn’t make sense to everyone.

I think my life mantra for year 30 is a simple one. Know Thyself. 


Embracing Healthy Bacteria, Inside and Out. {how-to home brew kombucha}

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HealthySkinSolutions #CollectiveBias

Embracing heatlhy bacteria

It’s well known about me that self care = beverages. I never have a bath without at least four different drinks (typically coffee, lacroix, kombucha, and water) and either a book or Netflix. I remember the first time I tried home-brewed kombucha, I nearly spit it out! It was five years ago, at a baby shower, and a friend’s Mom brought strawberry kombucha to share. I thought it would be soda like, sweet, and I was shocked! I sipped it politely while she sang its praises to me and the seed was planted, but I wasn’t ready to water it.


Years down the line my midwife talked to me (postpartum) about the digestion benefits, and begrudgingly I snagged a bottle. I started easy with extra sweet flavors, like mango and guava, but quickly felt the benefits of its healthy bacteria and probiotics in my body and energy and moved on to the harder stuff.


The bacteria in Kombucha is what helps your digestive system to restore its balance, flora, and health. I’ve long held the belief that what our bodies do naturally, is best. I was really excited to find this skin care brand, Mother Dirt, that embodies the same belief. Bacteria are a natural part of our bodies’ ecosystem. By ‘cleaning’ with harsh soap we end up more dried out and still seeking healthy skin. Mother Dirt products help your skin to maintain the balanced microbiome of your skin, naturally. I tried out the Shampoo, Face Wash and AO+ Mist. After being no-poo for years, this shampoo is the perfect choice for me, for those times (like after swimming in a chlorinated pool!) that I do need a shampoo. 


The effect is an improvement in the look and feel, for me, it leaves my skin feeling soft  instead of tight and dry, the typical effect of soap. I’m a big fan of ‘less is more’ and love that Mother Dirt promotes ditching the endless lotions, soaps, and creams we are sold as a means of stripping/hydrating/repeating this process to our skin, and instead offers up an easy solution that works for your whole body. Not only that, but it works with your body’s natural bacteria, and with an aim to balance and free you up from feeling like you need a ton of products just to feel like your skin is at its best and healthiest.

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Kombucha has moved into the forefront of grocery stores, and hipster lips in the past few years. It’s risen from “com-boo-what?” to eleventy hundred options of flavors at our local shops and full on Kombucha Cafes! My love for it runs deep, but my pocket book doesn’t run quite as deep. So, about a year ago, we started experimenting with brewing our own kombucha, and the results were easy and amazing.


The benefits aren’t just fizzy drinks that aren’t sugar laden, extra cool points, and an abundance of glass bottles. Kombucha is incredibly beneficial to your body. It is a fermented tea, and rich in bacteria and probiotics. It can help with gut health imbalances, aid in digestion, boost energy, and fight inflammation and joint pain.


Making your own kombucha is pretty easy, especially once you get brewing! The hardest part is finding a scoby, but even that has gotten easier and easier with the increase in kombucha popularity. You can grow your own at home, or even buy a kit. The easiest way is to ask a friend who already brews (you probably know someone!) and ask for “a baby starter”. The scoby grows a new layer with each ferment, so it’s as easy as peeling a layer off your “mama” and passing on a “baby” (sounds so bizarre!). Most people who brew have an abundance of scoby babies and just keep them in a jar on the counter (also known as a Scoby Hotel) and would be happy to pass one on.


To get started brewing you will need:

A large glass container with a spigot (easiest for continuous brew, because you can easily siphon off what you want at the end of each ferment). I use a huge container (three gallons) but a one gallon one is plenty large enough to start with.


A tight-weave towel to put over the top of your jar. It’s important it’s tight-weave so no fruit flies/bugs can get in, but that you don’t seal it – it needs air!


Black Tea (you can experiment with green, white, or a mix. I suggest starting with the traditional black first to get the hang of it!) in bags or loose leaf. This batch I just used the inexpensive black English breakfast from Trader Joe’s.

Cane sugar (this doesn’t make it a sugary drink, it’s what your scoby “eats” to ferment the tea!)

Brewing Your Own Kombucha

  1. Bring 1/2 gallon of water to a boil.
  2. Add in 8 tea bags (or 1/4 cup loose leaf tea – be sure to use a strainer!)
  3. Let steep 30 min
  4. Stir in two cups of cane sugar
  5. Once all sugar is dissolved slowly add in 1.5 gallons cool water
  6. Pour entire sweet tea mixture into sanitized (cleaned with *warm water and vinegar* not soap, soap will kill a scoby. You want all that healthy bacteria!) jar for brewing.
  7. Wait for all of it to come to room temperature; hot tea will kill your scoby.
  8. Add your scoby. You want to have clean hands, and handle it minimally. It may sink, but will eventually (hours can pass before it does sometimes) make its way to the top of your tea.
  9. Cover your brew with a tight weave towel and a rubber band to hold it in place well.
  10. Give your kombucha some time, in a hot environment the fermentation process could be as fast as three days, if it’s cooler or drafty it may take as long as two weeks. It should lose most sweetness, begin to fizz a bit, and have a little bit of a vinegar taste and smell. I begin tasting around day six here in Washington.

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Once your kombucha is brewed you can either enjoy it straight away or you can do what is called a “second ferment”. It’s another way to flavor your kombucha and ensure that it gets a bit more bubbly. Adding in fruit puree’s, fruit juices, or whole fruit will add extra flavor. My favorites are melon (with the honeydew juice from trader joe’s) and blueberry mint! If you choose to do this, pour your brewed kombucha into a flip top or any sealed jar with its flavoring, allow it to ferment on the counter for 3 days, and then pop it in the fridge! It’s all ready for you to enjoy.


If you have any questions about Mother Dirt or about Kombucha brewing, please reach out to me here or on Facebook or Instagram. I would love to chat more about it! To shop for Mother Dirt products go here, and use the coupon code CBAUTUMN25 to take 25% off your order (for new customers!).