How to Raise a Reader

tips-teach-children-to-love-reading

I just LOVE to read.  I was your typical nerdy kid with, like, 1 friend in my young life but 8000 books on my shelf.  Books brought me so much excitement, curiosity, joy, pain and anticipation.  All these big grown-up feels that I just couldn’t get from my 9-year-old life in the burbs of Michigan.

I pretty much expected that my own kids would grow up with a love of reading…until I became a parent in this netflix-youtube-facebook-instagram generation and it hit me: WHY would any kid want to read today when they’ve got the entire world of entertainment at their fingertips??

[Read more…]

A Day Around Town: East Valley Phoenix

Recently several friends have asked for eatery recommendations and things to do in my neck of the woods, so I’m sharing my favorite ways to kick it outside of my house (even though staying home with a passel of crazy little minions is my jam).

Phoenix is a great place to live!  We have lots of great sports teams (including Spring training for the Chicago Cubs), great weather (er, minus the heatwave in June-August), an amazing food scene and beautiful mountains and desert landscape.

The east valley (Mesa, Gilbert, Tempe and Chandler) is my favorite, though, because it’s where I live!  If you’re local or planning a visit, I hope this gives you some ideas.

FOOD

chelsea kitchen

Chelsea’s Kitchen – This is one of my favorite date night restaurants.  With a really simple but flavorful menu, I’m always thrilled with whatever I choose.  There’s usually a wait on weekends and other peak times, but the salted chocolate chip cookies they offer to those waiting for a table makes it well worth it!

[Read more…]

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

View More: http://redpoppyphoto.pass.us/kathi-payne-extended-family

I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas jam packed with family, traditions, cozy pjs and hopefully an excited child (or 7) since they make Christmas so much more fun!  I’ve been dying to show you all our family pictures we took on Thanksgiving and now that our Christmas cards are out, here they are!  

[Read more…]

Sisters Trip to Sedona + tips for getting a baby to sleep in a hotel room!

 

aaIMG_3300

My amazing sister-in-law Xan and her family will soon be leaving Arizona and moving across the country.  She invited all her sisters and SIL’s to a quick trip to Sedona as a last hurrah before she moves away.  We just got back and had THE best time!

[Read more…]

Marilyn’s Birth Story

 

Marylin 1

My chubby baby Marilyn turns 5 MONTHS tomorrow and in order to keep myself from totally melting down into a puddle of hormonal-overweight-newish-mom-tears, I figure it’s time to post about her birth story.

[Read more…]

Baby Marilyn Newborn Photos

My neighbor and friend Lindsey is an amazing photographer.  She knows how to capture the perfect moments and masters light like a pro.  Um, maybe that’s cause she IS a pro.  She took these newborn pictures of our sweet Marilyn June and I’m in love.  Hope you enjoy!

 

P.S. If you’re in the Phoenix area, check out Lindsey’s website!

IMG_3948ed  [Read more…]

5 Keys to a Happy Mom

 

IMG_4087ed

 

I’m gonna take a quick moment to state the obvious: Motherhood is HARD.  If you are a mother or you had a mother or you know a mother, you certainly know what I’m talking about.

And while the rewards of being Mom can be amazing (sticky hugs and super-smart kids and seeing your genes in miniature), sometimes they just aren’t enough.  Sometimes, you wake up with dread in the pit of your stomach and nothing seems to make up for all the spills and fights and disasters and loneliness.

IMG_2990

When I first decided to be a full-time stay-at-home mom, it was a scary huge adjustment for me.  I always knew that I wanted to have kids but I also always expected to have an advanced degree, a part time job or some other “useful” outlet for my time and energy.  I knew the value of motherhood but couldn’t see myself deriving ALL my personal value from wiping stinky bums and making endless tuna fish sandwiches.

The decision to stay home full-time was a long and personal journey for me (as it is for any mom) and it was full of bumps and adjustments.  But now that I’m in my 10th(!) year of staying home full time with my kids (of which there are now 6 adorable, homeschooled ragamuffins), I have learned some amazing tools for dealing with the occasional emotional slump and ensuring that I wake up happy and excited to greet every single day (alright, almost every day).

Every mom will have different tactics she uses to keep her mom-bucket full, but here are my top 5.

casual-one-piece-spring-outfit

1.  Take care of yourself. 
I know, I know: gone are the days of the weekly pedicure or the 45 minute blow-out or sometimes even the daily shower.  But how you feel about yourself speaks volumes about how you’ll feel (and treat) your home and family.  Decide what makes you feel good and commit to doing it.

I personally have to shower and get dressed every day.  I don’t always wash my hair or shave or all those other niceties, but if I don’t shower, my motivation for just about anything else is gone and I feel like crap all day.

Also, exercise REEEALLLY helps me.  I know sometimes it’s only a pipe dream (like if you have a nursing baby younger than 6 months) but getting up just a half hour early to take a jog or do a YouTube yoga video makes me 110% more productive and energetic all day long.

tips-for-parents-kids-love-reading

2.  Take care of your cleaning peeves, let go of the rest.
Take a minute and think of the messes or issues that REALLY bother you in a home.  Taking care of these in your own home might be so second nature to you that you’ll need to think of someone else’s home.  Do you despise filthy carpets?  Loathe crumbs on the counter?  Get super grossed out by dirty toilets?

Obviously we all prefer a clean, meticulous home, but if you are super stressed and busy beyond belief and have 5 minutes to take care of something, what would it be?  My top three are laundry on the floor (can’t stand it!), walking on crumbs (blech) and piles of toys everywhere.  Dirty dishes and bathroom sinks (while gross and eventually need to be cleaned) are less important to me.

The recognition of these stress triggers helps me to better manage my time.  I deal with the most annoying things first and, when I run out of time, I let the rest go.  This is hard, especially when people come to your house and you feel guilty or judged for having a mess.  In the end, your peace and happiness are more important than what the neighbors think.  There will come a time when you have all day to clean the house again.  And that is precisely when you will wish you had cute little kids running around to distract you from it 🙂

aaIMG_0645

3.  Make something beautiful
It took me several years to really understand this one and make it work for me, but when I did, it made all the difference in the world.  I recently did a presentation on creativity for a class I took with other homeschool moms.  I talked about how women are natural creators (we make people!) and that we are drawn to beauty.  I believe that it is part of our human nature to seek out and create things that please the senses.

It’s often hard for us to think past the visual arts in this sense (painting, design or crafting) but ALL of our senses appreciate beauty.  Instrumental music and song, delicious food, home repairs or décor, even fitness or fashion apply here.  Improving ourselves through any creative means will lift our spirits, give us a sense of purpose and fill our lives with appreciation for all of the beautiful things around us.  Read more rambling about the importance of creativity here!

I have found a passion in home decorating, sewing (obviously) and other crafts.  This can be as simple as hanging a picture on my wall.  But after a day of changing diapers that are just gonna get pooped in or feeding mouths that will be hungry in 20 minutes, anything I can do that stays done, is like a breath of fresh air!

roomies-NY-trip

Some spectactularly fabulous college roommates of mine gather together from all over the country about once every 18 months or so to eat, talk, laugh uproariously and generally revel in each other’s amazing company.  I HIGHLY recommend this!


4.  Spend time with friends
Women are unique in our need for interaction from the same gender.  We need friendships with other women unlike men need guy friends.  I don’t know why this is, but it’s a fact (according to me).  When we isolate ourselves, either purposely or accidentally, we lose the ability to see ourselves from an outside perspective.

Give yourself 15 minutes with a few close friends and you will feel happier, more optimistic, less alone and more prepared to face the stress of everyday life (*not a scientific study, it just works!).  If you’re short on close friends, go find some.  I guarantee there are dozens of other mothers (and non-mothers!) in your town who need camaraderie and support just like you.

It helps to look in places where you might find someone with similar interests (the kid section of the library, the step class at the YMCA, church, etc.) but don’t count someone out just because you don’t see much in common up front.  Some amazing friendships can blossom in unlikely places (think church-going conservative housewife and tattooed, single gym rat).  If you feel like life is getting you down, schedule a girls’ night.  Chances are good that you’re not the only one who needs it.

Wiscombe Family-0016

5.  Look at your kids
Have you ever found yourself, harried and overwhelmed at the end of the day, and realize that you haven’t even really looked your kids in the eye?  Maybe everyone woke up late and you forgot you had to carpool and someone threw up and there were 3 poop accidents.  Regardless of the reasons, I sometimes forget that my “job” includes caring for people.  Little people who love me and look up to me and just want to please me.

Sometimes, if I look into those little eyes, I can see past the 27th glass of spilled lemonade and realize that this kid just wants me to love them and tell them it’s OK.  Life is hard and scary and Mom is the ONLY person (besides Dad) who loves them unconditionally.  You are their entire world and they need you to acknowledge them and help them through the rough patches.  All the messes in the world won’t mean a darn thing to a mom who regularly gives her kids the attention and acceptance they need.

This is not a step intended to invoke guilt for ignoring your kids when you need 5 minutes alone in the bathroom (for the love of all that is holy… just FIVE minutes!!).  It’s simply a reminder that we can be tempted to see a child as a task instead of a sweet little person.

**As a final note, let me say that real (clinical and chemical) depression exists.  It often happens to mothers because of fluctuating birth hormones and then sticks around.  If, after doing everything you can to feel good about yourself, you just can’t seem to feel happy, please see a doctor.  There is great courage and nobility in recognizing that you need help to get your life back.  Don’t waste a single second of this precious time with your babies; seek for help and then reach out to others who might be struggling in the same way.  I thank the heavens that we live in a time of good therapists and miraculous medication.  We deserve to be happy!

Good luck, mamas!  The work you do is not only good, it is the best there is.

If you still doubt yourself, watch this.  Warning: may cause tears.

 

A decade of lovin’

photo 2
Luke’s mom let us borrow her convertible VW bug for our weekend away.  Yesssss.
On May 8th Luke and I celebrated 10 years of marriage!  That seems to be simultaneously a ludicrously long amount of time and barely the blink of an eye.  Part of me wonders how the heck I became my mother who now measures time in 10 year increments instead of weeks or months and the other part of me can hardly remember back to when I was a clueless single person desperate for a date with a decent guy.  Wow, flashback!  Dating is brutal.
I talked Luke into going back to San Diego, where we were married, for a quick weekend away and it was THE best.  Remember back when you had no responsibilities and could just lounge around eating and sleeping in and frolicking time away??  Yeah, me neither…but it’s awesome!
photo 1
Here we are, our marriage just minutes old.  Man, we had no idea what was about to hit us.  But we’ve loved every bit of it!
photo 2
Of course we had to take some pictures in front of the same temple, 10 years later.  Not much the worse for wear, eh?  Luke’s missing some hair and my rear end ain’t as tight as it used to be, but all things considering, not bad at all.
photo 1
I sure do love the San Diego temple.  Don’t ask me why we got married here when both of our families live in Arizona.  It was just the first of many times when my sweet husband bowed to my unreasonable whim, with no questions asked.  I sure love him!  And his willingness to bow to my whims. 
photo 1
We rode bikes around Coronado island which is the cutest, most picturesque island I’ve ever been to.  And the houses are all gorgeous!
photo 1 (2)The Hotel Del, where Marilyn Monroe filmed “Some Like It Hot”.

photo 2 (2)

Spent some time on the perfect beach at the Hotel Del Coronado where we spent our wedding night.  Bless Luke’s heart, he even called to see if we could afford to stay there again on this trip (we couldn’t).  Ah well, maybe in another 10 years.
photo 1 (3)
photo 2 (3)
Also, Extraordinary Desserts.  Um, yeeeeah. 
Sad story: I left the rest of that ganache covered cheesecake (the lightest, fluffiest cheesecake you’ve ever tasted!) in the hotel fridge and realized it as we pulled out of town.  We (er, Luke) decided not to go back for it and if I told you I don’t think about that cheesecake sitting abandoned in that mini bar on a regular basis, I’d be lying.
photo 3
I always told myself I wanted to fit back into my wedding dress on my 10 year anniversary and, SUCCESS!  Granted, there was a bit of sucking in involved and this was taken before the previously mentioned dessert episode, but I’m calling it a win.
In all seriousness, I consider myself one of the amazingly lucky ones who found an incredible guy who’s happy working all day to support his little big family.  After work he comes home to grubby fingers wanting piggy back rides and to dish duty and the bedtime routine, but he does it all with pleasure and a laugh.  I’m so grateful for him every. single. day.