the new new year

"Don't you love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address." - You've Got Mail

Ah, the start of fall and a new school year. Here in Florida, it doesn't feel anything like fall, nor will it for a long time. In fact, temps are in the 90s, humidity is hovering between 90 and 100%, and it feels like over 100 degrees during the day. Perfect beach weather - not great for loading small children into car seats. But I digress.

I love a new school year for the feeling of newness it brings, and a renewed commitment to routine and order. Listen, I adore summer as much as the next gal, but with two small kids in the house who thrive on routine, I am actually relieved to be back on a schedule. I can't help but feel like the start of school is like the second coming of the New Year, because new routines are being set, and with them the opportunity to improve.

My One Word Theme for 2016 is Prepare - I'm dedicating myself to being on time (it's not in my nature - I have to work at it!), planning my week ahead of time, packing and laying out clothes the night before, and getting up before my kids. All of this is an effort not to rush, not to be urgent all the time. It's really been working for me to keep my mind focused on an idea, rather than striving for 5-10 different written goals. I find that "preparing" fascilitates good habits, like Bible reading, exercise, writing, and cleaning.

With the NEW New Year - the beginning of school, I want to add a One Word Theme to focus on during the months of August through May (the duration of our school year), and that is consistency. A little bit every day, with the focus on every day. I have to say - it will be hard work to change this about myself. I often feel like I need large chunks of time to dedicate to something, or I can't do it at all. But that leaves me procrastinating until I have more time, and that almost never happens.

I see this helping me in a few areas:

• Bible Study - getting up early to read 2 or 3 chapters - nothing huge. Usually ends of being 20 minutes of reading.
• Writing - I made a commitment to myself to write more consistently, so as soon as I'm done with my Bible reading, I get to pour myself a cup of coffee and write until Teddy wakes up. It actually feels like a treat, since I pair it with my coffee and some quiet time. (Pippa might be up by this time, but she gets to watch her TV show)
• Fitness - I am so done with feeling self conscious about my stomach, due to separated abs from my last pregnancy. I'm working a little bit each day on healing exercises, but also on walking 2 miles a day (or more) pushing the double stroller and holding the dog's leash. I've already noticed improvement in the area from a week's worth of short, but consistent, workouts.
• My business - we're kicking off a 90 day game plan, and I'm committed to helping serve those who said they are ready for a change in their health and their income. This is hard to balance with being home with my kids and teaching, but per the advice of a mentor, I'm getting organized, and making sure I do one thing for my business each day, no matter how small.
• Correcting papers - I have to say, I have often left a stack of papers because I felt like if I didn't have  time to correct all of them, then I wouldn't even start. No more this year! A little bit at a time will prevent the overwhelm.
• Reading - 10 pages each day before falling asleep.

But the beauty of it is that there are no goals I can "fail." It's a mindset of designing my days and weeks to faithfully fulfill my roles and use my gifts. I find there is a feeling of satisfaction in being consistent - I feel responsible and dependable, and that is empowering. It's also liberating to not have a specific goal, deadline, or number to hit. "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." So says Aristotle.

Do you renew your goals around the start of school or in fall? I would love to hear them!


a mother's spiritual life

I thought I was finally going to have the chance to pay attention to a sermon. My husband had taken our squirming and active 13-month-old son out to the narthex to crawl around, and I relaxed as I back into the pew with a sigh of contentment. To only care for my 3-year-old during church felt like a vacation. She would quietly color, or even lean her head against my chest as we took in the Lord's words.

Somehow, I found myself minutes later carrying a disgruntled preschooler out of church as she sobbed, "I want Daddy! I want Daddy!" while employing the 'boneless' technique that children in her age category are so fond of. I sighed, this time with exasperation, wondering when the day would come that I would hear and comprehend an entire sermon.

* * *

It's 6:35 a.m., and the coffee is brewed. I had cleaned the house the night before, prepped everything for the day, and was ready to settle in with my mug of organic coffee and the Concordia Study Bible I had ordered from Amazon only a few days earlier. I was ready to dig into God's Word, and really connect with my Heavenly Father's will for my life.

It's 6:36 a.m. and somehow through the closed door and the white noise machine, the 3-year-old has heard me take a sip of coffee, and realized that life was going on without her - she must arise and seize the day!

I sighed in resignation, realizing that as happy as I was to see my daughter, give her a good morning hug, and set her up with breakfast, I would have to put my own spiritual needs on hold once again. After all, if you give a preschooler breakfast, she'll want some milk to go with it. And the dishwasher will need to be unloaded to get the correct Princess Sofia cup. And she'll want to share a shake with me, causing the baby to wake up from the noise of the blender. And thus the day will begin, with the bustle of cutting up food, wiping little faces, setting up and cleaning up toys, laundry, getting kids dressed, changing diapers, and loading kids into carseats.

* * *

Mothers of young children - really, parents of young children - as a rule don't have tons of personal time. And each phase and season is so short-lived, that as soon as you figure out a time you can fit in some Bible reading, the children's schedules completely change. It truly is a challenge to fit in the time to study scripture, pray, or even read a devotional book. But every time I start apologizing to God, thinking, 'You understand, right God? You know how tough it is for me to read peacefully for 5 minutes. You know how I'm showing my kids how to sit and listen during church, putting my spiritual life on hold for the sake of theirs? You know all this. You gave me these beautiful blessings. You understand. I'll come back...I promise..." he whispers back with his gentle admonition, "Emily, Emily. You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."

And somehow, instead of making me feel guilty for putting Him last, the reminder comforts me and pulls me closer to Him. I remember that when I am in his Word, when I am praying continually, and when the books and music I am consuming point me to Him, the job of caring for little ones is more joyful. It's easier to see that my cup is overflowing with blessings. I have his Words at the front of my mind when I need more patience, a rest, or a friend.

So where does a busy mom of young kids find that time with her Savior? It's different for each person, and it changes frequently as children grow and change. Some tricks I have found helpful:

• I figure out what time my kids wake up each day, and set my alarm for a full hour ahead of that. Factoring in hitting snooze, making coffee, splashing water on my face, etc. etc., it leaves just enough time for about 3 chapters of the Bible. Now if your kids wake up in the 5 a.m. hour, this may not be the strategy for you!

• I may find a time when one kid is napping and the other is playing quietly to sneak in some Bible time. This may not be dependable, as some days the older one plays quietly, and other days she needs more of my attention. Some days the baby naps, others not so much. Some days we have to get out of the house earlier, so I need to use that time to shower or pack bags.

• I read my Bible right before bed. This takes discipline not to fall asleep on the couch or let my other work get in the way - after all, after the kids go to bed is the only time I truly have to get work done!

• I listen to hymns or praise music during a walk or driving time.

• I listen to a devotional podcast during a walk or driving time.

• I realize that my prayers don't have to be formal or 30 minutes long. I try to keep an "open dialogue" going with God throughout the day.

• I pray right when I wake up - giving thanks for 3 things, and asking God to bless my day, for his will to be done in my life.

• Online devotionals like Proverbs 31 Ministries and Time of Grace are excellent resources for quick devotions.

• Listen to the Bible on audio while you get ready for the day, or while you fold laundry or do dishes. I use the free YouVersion app.

• Read a kid's Bible story or devotion with your children. They may have no idea what you're talking about right now, but little by little they're learning! And you get a refresher on Bible stories and a reminder to be an example for them.

• Solidarity! Find other Christian mothers to have a weekly Bible study with, or simply to hold you accountable via text, Facebook, Voxer, or whatever other form of communication you choose.

So it's not always the picture-perfect Pinterest Bible Study I dream of. I don't always get to sit in a comfy chair with an adorable throw blanket draped over my lap with a steaming cup of coffee while I discover God's truths for my life. Sometimes I'm trying to hear Nehemiah's struggle to rebuild the wall over the sound of my preschooler whining or as my son shouts, "Ball. Doggie. DOGGIE." But nothing worthwhile is easy, and I know God is working through these small moments. After all, he is the one thing needed.



Pippa: Mommy, can I have a piggy back ride?
Emily: Sure. *struggles to carry child for more than 10 steps* Wow, you're really growing so big!
Pippa: The food is working!

My sister Molly sits down with a bowl of cereal.
Pippa: Can I have a bite of cereal?
Molly: Sure. But first, what's the magic word?
Pippa: Abracadabra?

Pippa searches for her doll. 
Pippa: Where's Baby Princess Kitty Cat?
Emily: I think she's in your room.
Pippa: What? That's impossible!

Pippa walks in on me getting ready for a night out.
Pippa: Mommy! Look at you! You look so fancy!

Pippa and I snuggle in bed. Pippa leans over, feels my forehead looking concerned.
Pippa: Wow. You're really sweaty.

Emily: So, what do you want to play next?
Pippa: Let's play blocks!
Emily: Meh. I don't know if I feel like doing that.
Pippa: Mommy you have to. It's family time.

Pippa stares intently at female Target worker with short hair.
In my head: Please don't say it. Please don't say it. Please d-
Pippa, loudly: Mommy is that a boy or a girl? I think that's a boy worker.

Pippa: I think I'm feeling a little sickies.
Emily: You are? Are you ok?
Pippa: I just need a little something to make me feel better. Maybe I can have a little bit of a t.v. show?


summer in wisconsin

One of the hardest parts about living in Florida is being so far away from our families. On the flip side, one of the best parts about living away from family is how special each visit home is. We get to spend so much quality time with our people, just condensed into a week or two instead of scattered haphazardly throughout the year.

This year we spent three weeks visiting family in Wisconsin, and it was a busy three weeks! We got to relax and enjoy staycations in rented houses with both sides of the family, hit up some favorite spots in Milwaukee, and celebrate some birthdays and anniversaries with family. I'm normally a pretty laid back traveler, but I'll be honest. I was straight up worried about how our kids would sleep. At home Teddy sleeps from 7 p.m. until 7:30 a.m. Pippa takes forever to actually go to bed, but once she's sleeping, she sleeps through the night. Unfortunately for us, they are not used to being in a room with other people, and tend to take turns waking the other one up when they are confined to a small space.

Thanks to very accommodating family members and creative sleeping solutions, they kids actually slept fairly well throughout our time away from home. Pippa definitely had many late nights and early mornings, and was fairly crabby due to lack of sleep by the end of the trip, but other than that, it was such a relief that they slept as well as they did.

Some highlights of the trip included:

• s'mores by the campfire
• celebrating Teddy's first birthday with both sides of the family
• having free babysitting so we could celebrate our sixth anniversary with our traditional drinks on a patio
• a Spike Ball and Corn Hole tournament with my family
• volleyball, yard games, and Mafia with Justin's family
• my 10 year high school reunion
• the simple things like cooking dinner while being together as a family, taking walks, and watching the aunts, uncles, and grandparents bond with my babes
• the 18 hour drive back that took like 22 hours (KIDDING)

I am so grateful for the time to be able to see our families. It was really cool to see Pippa playing with her cousins, and I really look forward to watching their friendship grow over the years. Now, without further adieu, only a small percentage of the hundreds of photos I snapped on our trip:

Our 6th Anniversary

Teddy's First Birthday
family pictures

Best. Trip. Ever! See you again soon, Dairyland!

ode to sundresses

In my high school philosophy class, our culminating project was to create a utopian society. It was an incredible exercise in recognizing what each student truly valued. One thing I remember about my utopia was that each person wore matching cloaks - comfortable, shapeless, and plain. Thinking back on it, I believe I decided on the cloaks not because I dislike fashion, but because I figured it was one less thing people would have to decide on each day. One less choice people would have to make. One less thing they would have to spend money on. 

Well sundresses kind of solve that problem, don't they? A sundress is an outfit unto itself. A sundress is comfortable, and eliminates choices. Just throw one on, maybe add a pair of earrings or a bracelet if you're feeling fancy, and out the door you go. Not to mention it's a bit more fun to wear than a shapeless cloak. 

Anyway, we're back from our vacation in Wisconsin! After visiting family for three amazing weeks, we are happy to be back in a routine - especially with the little ones! We thought we were getting a break from the Florida heat by escaping to the midwest, but a heatwave followed us, and I was sure glad I packed my sundresses! There were quite a few days during our trip where we had a mix of events going on; some as low key as meeting someone for lunch, while others were more special, like a first birthday party! A casual dress made the perfect outfit to look appropriately dressed for whatever was going on that day. After all, they're comfortable, even in the heat of the day, but still look polished and put together. And I would almost always be overdressed than underdressed! 

I actually borrowed this dress from my younger sister while I was home, but liked it so much that I think I'll be investing in a chambray dress myself soon! They're so versatile! And since I'm all about that minimalist wardrobe, versatile is right up my alley.
The dress Pippa is wearing is from H&M kids, and I'm thinking about buying a few more. At $4.99, they really are a steal, plus they have such fun prints for little girls! H&M kids is seriously a hidden gem of affordable children's clothes. (And I'm not getting paid to say this - H&M has no idea who I am...I just recently discovered their kids' clothes and am in love!) 

Bracelet is the Rainforest Wrap from my friend Karen's Trades of Hope website! Its a company that empowers women around the world out of poverty - accessories with a purpose! Check out her Facebook Page for more info.
Peace, love, and sundresses!



theodore's first year

Teddy's first week of life
The week before Teddy's first birthday

Theodore Scott 
you are one today!

My second baby. We spent so much time praying for you. Waiting for you. And as cliche as it sounds, we can't remember what life was like before you. From the moment you bulldozed your way into this world, all 8 lb 10 oz of you, you filled our hearts with joy. We were no less excited to watch you learn to roll over, sit up, eat food, crawl, talk, and pull yourself up than were with your big sister. You light up every room you enter!

Your first year was full of ups and downs. You did not want to be set down for your first 6 months, and our backs and arms suffered for it. (You weren't exactly a small baby). You nursed like a champ for 3 months, but we struggled to get you enough milk by the time you were 6 months, resulting in several trips to the nutritionist. (Perhaps a sign of how you can never get enough food?) After adding formula and solids, you were back to your fat happy self. And Slowly but surely, you grew into the most laid back baby. Once you could sit up by yourself and see what was going on around you, you because content to watch your big sister and play by yourself. When you started crawling, you became so excited to explore. You're all smiles all the time, unless your food is gone. Then your shrieks of indignation reach the ends of the earth. And that's the thing, Teddy Bear. You never cry! You're either happy as can be, or you're screaming at the top of your lungs. No in between.

You adore your big sister, and the feeling is mostly mutual. Except when you play with any toy ever. Even if it's yours, she insists she was playing with it. You already tease her by pulling her hair or getting in between her and her tv show. And don't even get me started on your love for doggies! Your eyes get wide, and you whisper over and over "doggie. doggie. doggie." each time you see one. And you can spot them from a mile away! You love tickles from Daddy and snuggles with Mommy. If anyone wants to hold you, you give them a fair shot! No stranger danger for you! As long as you can't see me, you're happy to hang out with whomever will have you.

At 1, your language is already exploding, and I can't wait to continue to watch your personality develop. I can't imagine a different fourth member of our family. God designed you just for us! We're so grateful we get to be your parents.
Happy First Birthday, Teddy Bear!

Theodore Scott

you are:

laid back
a foodie

you're awesome because you:

never stop eating
scream when the food is gone
say "mama, dada, Pippa, uh-oh!, ball!, doggie, 
Maggie, Gan-Gan, all done, night-night, hi, hola"
climb all over Pablo
whisper "doggie" in reverence whenever you see one
are obsessed with playing ball
seriously never stop playing ball
sleep from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m.
roar like a lion, and make elephant and monkey noises
steal my chocolate shakes
give open mouth kisses
laugh at people's jokes
have a grin that lights up a room - and you use it often!
always have your tongue sticking out
love swimming
adore your big sister and already try to bug her

favorite foods:
banana, cheese, Cheerios, and toast

Teddy, Tedward, Teddy Bear, Theodorable


fitness photo challenge

I'm really excited to share the July Fitness Photo Challenge: Light 'Em Up, Firecracker! My friend Heidi and I thought it would be fun to share our progress as we work toward our health goals through a series of photo prompts. Each day, post your picture to Instagram (or Facebook!) and use the hashtag #shakeandshine. There are no rules! Just be creative and have fun! I'll be posting my pictures here each Friday this month. Can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with!

* * *
It's a beautiful long weekend for many of us! Happy Independence Day (a few days early)! If you're looking for some good reads this holiday weekend as you relax with a cup of coffee, here are my favorites from around the web:

I love Christy Wright's take on self care.

If you're working on a second language with your child, try these apps.

Made me laugh.

For anyone thinking about starting a blog!

Working on making my local bucket list after reading this.

* * *

In other news, I posted this on my Facebook Page, but I would like to share it here, too!

Life Goals: Get paid for eating healthy, looking good, and hanging out with friends. 
It seems far fetched, but it's starting to become a reality for me. When I had my daughter 3 years ago, I decided to stay home with her, but struggled to help make ends meet for our family. When I decided I was sick of cobbling together part time jobs on nights and weekends, I dove head-first into an opportunity to partner with a health and wellness company and earn and income from home. 
am a trained and certified Spanish teacher, so I used the teaching skills I acquired and applied them to my business - teaching others how to take something that feels difficult (getting healthy) and simplifying it. I researched social media best practices, paid for courses, and through trial and error learned how to grow my business from home, while fulfilling a need for a creative outlet and a need for a tribe & community. 
I'm looking to fill a few more spots in my summer coaching calls, to pass on what I've learned in the past two years. I would love to partner with you if you...
+ love learning new things
+ are motivated and coachable
+ have a heart for helping others
+ have an interest in health and fitness
If any of this resonates with you, fill out this application and leave a comment below:
Let's change some lives together - starting with yours!

Have a wonderful Fourth of July weekend! 


friday favorites #5

Happy Friday, y'all! I haven't done a Friday Favorites post in awhile, but it just felt right this week. We've been busy, but still enjoying the freedom that summer brings. I'm getting better at getting out of the house with the kids in the morning, and being more productive during down time. Here are some of the things we've been loving so far this summer!

Library story time

Library story time satisfies all my criteria for a good outing where I'm outnumbered by the kids. It's free, it's educational, we're in a contained space, and the kids are entertained. This week's theme was outer space, and Pippa hasn't stopped talking about rocket ships, la luna (the moon), and the librarians who went all out and dressed up in space suits. And don't forget the thrill of picking out a new stack of books to take home afterward! I chose All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, and I'm loving it so far! Added bonus: library story time is where I have met all my mom friends in the area besides church and school!


Audio Books

While we're on this topic, I also want to bring up audio books for in the car. I used to borrow audio books for my commute to and from work and almost hoped for traffic so I could listen to more of the book! I just discovered that our library has an audio book section for kids. The closest thing I could find to a preschool-age appropriate book was the Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park. Pippa is actually listening to the story, but I don't like how many times Junie B. says "stupid" and "shut up." You know, the "s words." So I'm on the hunt for something a 3 year old would like listening to in the car. Ideas?

Summer Schedules

It took us awhile to get into a groove this summer. We're both teachers who have "off" during the summer months, but we're still at school all the time lesson planning, helping with summer activities, attending meetings, and getting ready for the upcoming school year.  What's worked for us so far is switching off days to go get planning done away from the kids, which leaves the other parent at home with 2 small children. Summer in Florida is like winter in the midwest in that you're stuck inside a lot of the time due to extremely warm weather. Especially with a baby, we try to limit outdoor time in the heat of the day. That means lots of downtime inside the house. Which means there's always the temptation to turn on the tv or just be lazy.

But that didn't turn out well for the kids or us, so we've been working on staying disciplined in a routine. Waking up early to work out, turn off the tv during the day, and coming up with activities and outings to keep all of us busy. It's been just the perfect mix of structure and relaxation, and we're loving it so far!

Avocado Smoothies

I made both kids a green smoothie for lunch yesterday, and ended up drinking most of it myself because it was that good! 1 frozen banana, 1 cup almond milk, 1/2 avocado, 1 handful of spinach, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It was so creamy! Justin even tasted it and said it tasted like a banana bread smoothie...I call that a win!

Splash Pad

We tried our first splash pad this past weekend with the kids. Pippa was apprehensive at first, because the water can be a little aggressive, but she ended up loving it! It was so fun to watch her shriek as she dashed through the cascading water. I would definitely go back to the splash park we chose, because there was a playground nearby that was little kid friendly, and it was right on the beach as well! There were clean restrooms, and they even had a private family bathroom that was large enough to change the kids for the ride home. It ended up being the perfect day out. I can't wait to try out the other splash parks in the area!

Have a great weekend everyone!


ideas for staying healthy as a busy mom

Ladies. Mamas. We're notorious for putting everyone else's needs before our own. It feels self-sacrificial and noble in the moment, but often ends up backfiring because we're exhausted, dehydrated, and cranky. You've heard the old sayings: happy wife, happy life and if mama's not happy, nobody's happy. And let me tell you, they aren't just jokes dads make at weddings. We truly set the tone in our homes with our behavior and attitude and mood. I learned this the hard way when my toddler kept asking "Mama, are you happy, sad, or mad?" Talk about a wake-up call to adjust my mood!

So much of my mood depends on my spiritual life. If I'm in God's Word on a daily basis, talking to Him through prayer, and trusting in him to provide, I'm a happier person. This is priority número uno (and also a blog post topic for next week).

It's also very evident to me that if I'm not taking care of my body, my mood suffers as well. Who among us has not stood in tears over a pile of clothes we've discarded on the floor because they just don't fit the way we want them to? Then there's the 3 p.m. slump where your kids are tugging at your sleeves to come play mommy! and it's all you can do to peel yourself off the couch. Mentally you feel disappointed and angry because you know you could be doing better, but you're frustrated because you just can't seem to fit it into your day. Physically you're drained, crabby, and spread too thin. Tell me that doesn't affect those around you!

So what's a busy mom to do? Believe me, I have lived and completely understand every excuse in the book. Your kids wake up at the crack of dawn, so there's no way you can work out first thing in the morning. Your small 2nd floor apartment isn't conducive to a fitness routine. You can't afford healthy food. Healthy food takes too long to prepare. You don't have time to exercise or meal plan. I know, I know. I totally get it.

But I'll tell you what I used to tell my volleyball players. If it's important to you, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse. So let me give you some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Remember, I'm not a certified fitness expert or nutrition expert - just a mom who has a passion for health and wellness, and who is speaking from her own experience.

Ideas to Stay Healthy as a Busy Mom:

Working Out

• Set the alarm for an hour before your children get up if they have a consistent waking time that isn't 5 a.m. Go for a jog, take the dog for a walk, look up circuits on Pinterest, or buy a workout DVD.

• Find an affordable gym membership with a reliable daycare and use it guilt-free. Preferably one with classes so you can meet other women with the same interests. It's more fun with a community, and they will hold you accountable.

• Work out after the kids go to bed. Presumably your husband is home by this time, and you can leave the house to run, go to the gym, or lock yourself somewhere to avoid interruption.

• Work out with your children in the room. My daughter used to love doing the Jillian Michael's Cardio Kickboxing dvd with me. Find ways to involve them, like Mommy and Me yoga videos or show them how to do the exercises you're doing.

• Take the whole family for a long walk.

• Whatever workout you decide to do, write it on the calendar at the beginning of the week. Make it a non-negotiable. Set the appointment for yourself and you'll be far more likely to do it.


• Meal plan on the weekend with your husband. Write down every ingredient you need from the store, and stick to the list. My affordable and healthy meals are not original by any means. Whole wheat pasta and meat sauce made with ground turkey and chopped up veggies. Burrito bowls with chicken, quinoa, veggies, salsa, and greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Turkey burgers. Baked potatoes. Chicken, rice, and a vegetable.

• Try a smoothie or shake for one meal. You can jam pack fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, just be careful of the sugar content (Don't use fruit juice as a base...water is best!) Plus there are so many add-in options to up the nutrition factor: coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, flax seed, chia seeds, and protein powder to name a few. I do 1 or 2 meal replacement shakes each day, because they're the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and protein you need each meal, full of vitamins and minerals, and super convenient.

• Carry your water bottle with you wherever you go. Have one in each room of the house. Set a timer every 30 minutes and you and your kids can chug water. Drink all the water.

• Stash healthy snacks in your purse. My students used to make fun of me because I was always eating apple slices like a little kid. But it's a fruit I know I like, no mess, and it's easy to transport. Clementines, bananas, baby carrots, and almonds are other great options.

• Serve vegetables first at lunch and dinner. This is as much for me as it is for my children. I don't always remember to do this, but when I do the kids gobble up their broccoli or salad. If they have the option of crackers vs. broccoli, I think we all know what's going to win. I can't blame them. I would also choose the crackers.

• Don't buy chips or cookies or junk food. Just don't keep them in the house at all. If you want a dessert, bake some cookies or banana bread. If you have kids who "need" snacks, lead by example and show them healthier options. Listen, I'm human. I give my kids Goldfish or Annie's Cheddar Bunnies just like the next gal. But I also know that if Sun Chips are in the house, that bag is going to be gone by sun down. Bad example for the kids, junk for hangover for mama. Plus, now you have more money to put toward expensive produce (why are there never coupons for health food?)

• I'm not perfect with this, and still follow the 80/20 rule (80% of the time we eat healthy, 20% we enjoy whatever we want), but try to listen to how your body feels after eating certain foods. I always feel parched and tired after eating salty foods like chips or crackers. I feel sluggish after eating sugar cereal. I have found that thinking about how a food will make me feel immediately is an easier way to say no to junk food than thinking "Oh, that might cause me to gain a pound or two if I keep doing this every night."


• Set an alarm for bedtime. 10:00 p.m. hits, my iPhone alarm rings, and I start the bedtime routine.

• Surround yourself with people who will support you. There are so many people who feel guilty about their own habits, so they'll try to tear you down subtly. An eye roll here, a sarcastic remark there. No bueno.

• Remember you're setting a great example for your kids about how to take care of the one body they are given. Not just to look and feel good, but because we are good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

* * *

Check out the products I use to stay healthy here or shoot me an email at emilymaureen13@gmail.com for more info!


you're in there somewhere

Today was magical.

Today the stars aligned and fate was on my side. While the baby took his morning nap, the toddler played quietly in her room. I was showered. The chores were done. The house was relatively clean. The coffee maker was still on. So I did the unthinkable.

I snuck out to the screened in porch with a hot cup of coffee and an obscenely long fiction book. Not even a personal development book. A fiction book, written for pure pleasure. I even put my feet up, because hey! I didn't even need to be in a three-point athletic stance ready to intercept a toy thrown at my son's head. 

I explored France and Germany through the pages of that book. My mind drifted to far-off places, and a spirit of adventure replaced the usual survival mode. 

This was significant because just the night before I had been thinking about how I was so glad to be in my own bed, surrounded by my own people, and that I wouldn't even want to be exploring a foreign country even if the opportunity presented itself. This thought came with a twinge of sadness, because my entire career choice was based on my love of travel, culture, and foreign language. These things became part of my identity, to the point where I felt lost if I didn't have any international travel to look forward to. 

I clung to this part of myself even after having my first child. She just turned 3, and she's been to England, France, and Mexico. But ever since having a second child to love and care for, that part of me has felt like it's fading. My days are filled with cutting up bananas, searching for a burp cloth, changing the laundry, and giving my toddler 2 acceptable choices in order to avoid meltdowns. My nights are made up of witching hour, chaotic dinners, baths, stories, and trying to get the 3 year old to stay in her bed. There is no free time to daydream of sipping wine while watching the sun set over a plaza. Looking up deals on international flights no longer gets to claim a spot in my day. The books that used to lure me to new destinations have a bookmark stuck in page 58 until I have to return it to the library. 

But you know what? That adventurous person is still in there. I still long for adventure, and travel, and artfully crafted stories, and conversations in a foreign language. I still have a lot of ancient ruins to see, and a lot of wine to sip in plazas. I have a lot of new friends to make in other countries, and a lot of crazy stories to live. 

So it felt like magic to sip coffee on a patio and read about far off places, to feel the familiar longing for a place I've never been. I felt youthful. I felt hopeful. And I felt like me. 

The early years of motherhood are incredible and incredibly tough. They are all consuming and eternal and a whirlwind. They are physically exhausting, mentally draining. They cause me to see the world through fresh eyes full of wonder, but also to want to drop kick Caillou because his voice is so. whiney. I sometimes get sad that I don't have a ton of free time to do the things that give me life, like reading, studying languages, and traveling. But then I remind myself that there's no room for that in a spirit of thankfulness. 

The old me is in there somewhere. Right now my life is dedicated to growing kick-ass (great? good? at least civil?) human beings, growing a business that will allow me the resources and time freedom to travel in the future, and teaching middle school kids a language and culture that will open up the world for them, both literally and figuratively. But the old me still peeks out every now and then. Like when a certain song pops up on my iTunes and I can't help but salsa with my 10 month old. Or when a picture on my TimeHop transports me to that hilarious night in another country. Or when a good book causes me to daydream about driving to the airport and buying a one-way ticket to anywhere. Oh yes. She's still in there. She's waiting patiently, biding her time. And when her time comes, you will see her picture on your social media page holding up a glass of crisp white wine in a sun-soaked plaza and saying Salud!

Tomorrow, though, I'll be raising a cup of lukewarm coffee as my three-year-old rams her tricycle into my shin. Cheers!


summer activities for kids

There is no moment equal to a teacher on her first day of summer break. The world is her oyster! She twirls like Maria from the Sound of Music as she considers the copious amounts of time for doing projects around the house, for organizing her children's clothes, for reading a book lazily on the porch. There will be leisurely morning coffees and exciting day trips with the children.

And then, like a carriage turning back into a pumpkin, 3 p.m. on the first day of summer hits. It feels like 105 degrees Fahrenheit outside. The children don't seem to understand "quiet reading time." Every time a pile of laundry is folded by an adult, it is quickly unfolded by a toddler and hidden in a diaspora of clean clothes around the house, like a cruel game of hide and seek. There are Cheerios everywhere, and when will the dog stop barking at that squirrel? The wheels are falling off quickly, and it's only Day 1.

It's time for a summer activity brainstorm sesh.

Below are all of the ideas I have come up with so far to get out of the house with a 3 and almost-1 year old. Please feel free to join in the discussion with your ideas and experience!

1. The Library

Our library is a sanctuary for children. There is an amazing little room for kids to play and learn, a fantastic selection of children's books in English AND Spanish, and endless book choices for the adults as well. Once a week there is a wonderful library story time class, where we love to shake our sillies out. We will be spending lot of time here, I have a feeling.

2. Splash Pads

I remember seeing one in a nearby city last summer, but I was freshly recovering from a C-Section and figuring out how to be a mom of 2, so we didn't get a chance to try it. I can definitely see us going on tour and trying every splash pad in a 30 mile radius.

3. The Beach

Heading to the beach with a 3 and an almost-1-year-old who can't walk yet is not for the faint of heart. It is guaranteed one of them will consume magnificent amounts of sand, and the other will want to go play in the waves. A person cannot be in 2 places at once, so a battle will ensue. Then there's the hauling, lugging, and packing of gear. Again, not for the faint of heart. BUT if done with friends, definitely worth it.

4. Parks

During summer in Florida, trips to the park must be strategically planned. It's important to head out early in the day to avoid the heat and humidity that come with the midday sun. But, if it gets too hot, there's always ice cream or fro yo afterward, so...#worthit

5. Ice cream

Speaking of the delicious frozen treat, I think it deserves its own number. Maybe we'll search for the best ice cream in our county. Someone's gotta do it. I'm willing to take one for the team.

6. Day Trips

We live within driving distance of some incredible destinations. Orlando, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and Daytona are all under 2 hours away. For a bit more of a drive we can discover Savannah, GA, Miami, or the Gulf Coast of Florida. This will take planning, and obviously cost some $$$, but might be worthwhile to get out of the house and be tourists in our own area.

7. The Movies

This would have to be done when one of us parents can take the baby, but I think it would be such a treat to take our three-year-old to the movie theater for the first time ever! Now, maybe that's just me wanting and excuse for some popcorn with extremely high-calorie fake butter, but I can see it being an awesome experience together!

That's all I've got so far! Would love to hear suggestions for free or cheap outings from other, more experienced parents. And...go!


working from home: what you need to know

I’m willing to bet that if you logged onto Facebook right now, you would be able to find at least a handful of friends or acquaintances with a home based business. You’ve attended their parties and supported their businesses. Maybe you’ve even gotten annoyed by it - why does everyone want to sell me something?

Everyone has - and is entitled to - their own opinion on the subject, but the fact of the matter is that with technology like smart phones and computers in every home, home based businesses are on the rise. Stay-at-home-parents have found a way to contribute to their family income. College students are paying off their student loans before they graduate. Successful 9-5ers have a passive second stream of income. You’ve seen so many acquaintances start their own venture, but so far you have just watched from the sidelines. Maybe you’re scared of being that person at family gatherings that no one wants to talk to. Maybe you’re nervous about alienating friends or getting blocked on Facebook. Maybe you’re not a people person, or you’re an introvert, and you just can’t see yourself being successful. Maybe you’ve worked retail, and you hate pressuring people to buy something.

If any of those concerns or objections spoke to you, then you and I have something in common. The potential to make a significant income from home is tempting, but you’re not willing to betray who you are or ruin relationships in the process. I get it. I’m the same way. And yet something inside me could not let go of the idea that maybe - just maybe- I could do it too. So objections in hand, I approached the most successful person I knew in the business and grilled her. How do you keep relationships intact? How do you balance work and family time when you work where you live and live where you work? Are you actually earning any money?

One phrase our company repeats over and over is this: We educate. You decide. We support.

Because in order to make an informed decision, each person needs the facts. They need to hear from people that have done it, and are doing it. Not just negative reviews online or anecdotes from friends who didn’t put in the work and didn’t see the results they wanted. Each person needs to block out the noise of opinions from other people so they can hear what this business is really about, then through careful thought and prayer make the best decision for themselves and their family. 

So this is me, busting through the noise to give you the facts and to share my story. I’m an introvert. I used to work retail and HATED sales. I think relationships are one of the most important things we have on this earth. I want everyone to feel comfortable around me. I don’t like to ruffle feathers. But I’m doing the thing. I’m experiencing success. And if you’re like me and are wondering if you can do it, too, take a listen to this story, then make your decision. You won’t regret being more informed! 

Click the link immediately below to hear my story, and the stories of 2 other normal, God-fearning, hard-working women who are experiencing success. If something in this recording speaks to you, reach out and email me! Let’s chat further to see if this could be a blessing for you and your family.

Listen here
Contact me at emilymaureen13@gmail.com 


philippa's third birthday

Happy Third Birthday, Phillipa Florence! It's been a crazy year of changes for you. Shortly after turning 2 you moved from Minnesota to Florida and got a baby brother! You started school for the first time, moved to a big girl bed, got potty trained, and moved to yet another house. You handled it all so well, like I knew you would. Sure, there were tantrums and tears, but we knew we'd figure it out together. You always keep us laughing with your big words, jokes, silly songs, and funny faces.

 I can't believe how strong and independent you're becoming! I see so much of your dad in you - in your sense of humor, and in how sociable you are. You make friends with anyone and everyone wherever you go. I pray you keep your adventurous spirit and zest for life as you grow older. It's what makes you Pippa! Keep letting that light shine! Happy birthday, and here's to another year or growth, change, fun, and laughter. Love you!

And now, here's a glimpse into Pippa's third birthday celebration:

Philippa Florence

you have traveled to:

North Carolina
South Carolina
South Dakota
Iceland (a layover...but still)

you have lived in 5 apartments/houses
in Minnesota and Florida

you're awesome because you:

can count in English and Spanish
can say the Lord's Prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and your bedtime prayers
love to put on shows and performances for us
beg for the windows down when we drive
love to read and be read to
are an amazing big sister to Teddy
sing Jesus Loves Me in English and Spanish
play your Little People by yourself for hours
love brushing your teeth with the Disney Magic Timer app
are excited to learn and use Spanish words
use words like "enormous" and "unsanitary"
are Mommy's helper and Daddy's little girl
love to eat green peppers, any type of fruit, and salad
smother your Pablo with hugs, kisses, and snuggles - whether he wants it or not
pet any dog you come in contact with
know how to bargain for more cookies, chocolate chips, and Lucky Charms
handled 5 huge life changes like a champ (new brother, new house, new state, big girl bed, potty training)

favorite foods:
cheese, any kind of berries, green peppers, salad with croutons, pasta, cookies, cereal, shakes (batidos)

favorite songs:
Jesus Loves Me / Cristo Me Ama
Let It Go (Frozen)
Cheerleader (Omi)
I'll Make a Man Out of You (Mulan)
Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Songs

favorite shows/movies:
Little Einsteins
Dora the Explorer
Mickey Mouse Club House
Daniel Tiger

I posted this interview on my Facebook page, but here is an interview with Pippa about her favorite things. I  plan to do this with her each year to see how she grows and changes:


currently °5

making || to-do lists  
cooking || the same 3 meals every. single. week. 
drinking || organic coffee with a sea salt caramel chocolate melted inside. Decadent.  
reading || "The Girl Code" by Cara Alwill Leyba 
wanting || an entire day to take care of nagging tasks (clearing space on my computer and phone, correcting papers, and unpacking all the boxes in our garage). 
listening || to my Audio Bible app
learning || that doing little things you don't feel like doing makes a big difference
trying || to make a flower crown for Pippa's third birthday.  
remembering || this time last year when we were packing to move to Florida
watching || my babies turn into people. Simultaneously bursting with pride and weeping with nostalgia. 
deciding || to make this summer productive and relaxing. It can be done! 
wishing || for a trip to South America. (This will be an awesome trip when we're done having kids and they're a little older!) 
planning || Pippa's third birthday and Teddy's first birthday 
enjoying || simple pleasures: sunshine, palm trees, hot coffee, a comfy bed, sandal tan lines...
wondering || if I can just abandon my Yahoo email address altogether...or...should I tell people?
needing || a trim and highlights. For what is summer without the blondest hair possible? And why do I always have a know of hair at the nape of my neck?
wearing || sundresses and flowy tanks - summer is here people! 
noticing || a look of quiet desperation in other teachers' eyes. We're almost there, guys! We can do it! 
smelling || sweaty baby hair. The best. 
buying || a kitchen table soon, hopefully? We're eating at a card table on the lanai. 
feeling || optimistic about the future. 


a balanced approached to nutrition and a giveaway!

These days we're flooded with information about health and nutrition, and it can be tough to figure out how to apply it to our daily lives. I know I need to eat balanced and health meals, get protein, fiber, healthy fats, and carbs, and limit added sugars, but what does that look like when I'm preparing dinner for my family? What does that look like when I'm wandering the aisles of the grocery store?

Counting calories or macros, keeping a food journal, and cutting out certain foods all feel restrictive to me, and like too much work. This is not to say that they don't work - they all certainly do! But each individual is different. If I can't even remember my dad's birthday each year (sorry Dad!), I'm certainly not going to remember to write down every bite of food, or enter it in a calorie counting app. I'm someone who doesn't handle details well, so these techniques might work for a more detail-oriented person.

But as for me, if you tell me I can't have baked goods, I'll end up eating a whole box of donut holes from Dunkin Donuts. If you tell me to write down everything I eat, I'll find ways to "sneak" food and justify why I don't have to write it down.

That's why I love my nutrition program. It's not restrictive, and it fits right into my lifestyle. I was already making smoothies every day, so it seemed natural to substitute one of the shakes. And as a part time SAHM, part time working mom, I don't love spending time in the kitchen preparing my own lunch. Knowing our whole family is getting great nutrition, even if we don't happen to meet our quota for fruits and veggies every day, truly puts my mind at easy. I know at least one of our meals every day is perfectly balanced and clean!

I talked in this post about why I love the cleansing portion of the program, so I won't talk more about it now, but I do want to say that the fat burning chocolates are one of my favorite parts of the program. These little pieces of heaven are Belgian-style and formulated at a low temperature with the purest of chocolate, green tea, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to curb cravings and give you a brain boost! (This is why it's perfect for a cleanse day! Instead of feeling deprived and craving junk food, you're feeding your brain and curbing those cravings!) In addition to a cleanse support tool, it's awesome to eat 30 minutes before a meal to help control portion sizes, since your brain will be partially satisfied before sitting down to eat. (Learn more about the science here).

Anyway, I love these chocolates so much that I just have to share them! I'm giving away a box of these fat-burning chocolates to one lucky winner. It's a $53 dollar value, and you can choose from 4 flavors: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, mint chocolate, and sea salt caramel. Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below for a chance to win! Contest goes through Wednesday, May 4. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway