The title of my first book.

I rarely read books. When I do, they are typically memoir or biographical non-fiction types. Most of the ones I have picked up recently have been very easy, finish in a 4-hour plane ride, reads. As I read them, I find myself thinking, “oh I could totally write a book.” But then I also think, “I am clearly not a celebrity with an interesting “how I got here” life. I’m not a parenting expert. I’m not any kind of subject-matter expert when it comes to marketing. What the hell would I even write a book about!?”

And while that’s totally true, I still recently found myself thinking of theoretical book pitches.

Title: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – Mostly Average Accounts of the World’s OKAYest Mom.
Book Type: Parenting
Synopsis: This one seems like the easiest and most obvious. A collection of short stories, mostly previously published here on this blog:

With other stories about how I’ll never be a Pinterest-worthy mom:

  • We celebrate National Donut Day! … a day late. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I remembered to take photos on the first day of school! … a day late. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • I set up the annual Advent Activity calendar on December First! … but instead of in the morning when they wake up, it’s after they get home from school. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

________________________

 

Title: Fake it till you make it.
Book Type: career
Synopsis: Nothing really that original. A collection of advice I’ve been given or seen on the internet, followed by stories of how I’ve applied them in my career and how they have helped (or hindered) my career.

  • Shift your language – Appreciation instead of apologies. “I appreciate your patience.” vs. “So sorry I am late.
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Unless you work in an office and your goal is to be a stripper. Maybe don’t do that.
  • A woman’s place – isn’t in the house or senate or kitchen or resistance. It’s wherever the hell she wants it to be.
  • Defining success – Success can look like different things to different people. Identify what it looks like to you. Are you there yet? If not, keep working at it. If you are, does it feel like success? If yes, awesome and good for you! If not, that’s ok. Redefine, make changes and keep working.

________________________

Title: Only 3 Minutes Late
Book Type: General self-help
Synopsis: Tips for creating work-life balance. Some tips may include:

  • Meal planning: a guide
  • A well-timed growl-yell can really help “motivate” (AKA: scare) your kids into getting out the door in a more expeditious manner.
  • How to say no.
  • Don’t marry someone that’s lazy/thinks that you doing the majority of the housework while maintaining a career is just something that women should do.
  • Go to your kids’ school family luncheons. And take work calls on the drive. Then sit in the car in the parking lot of the school while the call warps up. Then show up to the luncheon 3 minutes late.

________________________

Title: I don’t math well.
Book Type: Parenting/advice
Synopsis: Tips on parenting your academically gifted child.
Excerpt: Your kid has been identified as academically gifted! Neat! Mine has been too. But, me? I’m nowhere near as smart as her. Contained within this book are tried and true tips for parenting your gifted child. Let’s get started.

  1. Active listening – this will make you look less stupid while your kid is talking about what they learned in math that day and you’re silently trying to figure out what the hell they are even saying.
  2. Honesty – it’s always the best policy. “I have no idea what you are talking about.” or “I didn’t even learn that stuff when I was in college, so …” And also? They already know you have no idea what they’re talking about, so there’s no use in trying to pretend.
  3. Respond – “Ask your dad.” “Ask Siri.” and “Google it.” tend to be my go-to’s.
  4.    …

Actually, that’s it. The rest of the book would be blank. Good luck!

________________________

Welp, there are 4 different potential books I could knock out in my spare time. Now, where do I sign my literary agent!?

New Year’s Resolutions from the World’s OKAYest Mom

It’s about this time of year that my social media feeds start filling with “choosing your word” for the year and “thinking big” and “making goals” etc. etc. I’ve never been one for making resolutions, but this year, I figured why the heck not?

1– Limit my coffee to a half a pot a day. Unless I’m super tired. Or unless I have a headache. Or unless work is really busy. Or unless we have a lot going on.

2– Keep up on the girls’ reading logs – Having the one that can actually read, read books to the one that can’t – it counts, right? Two-fer!

3– Send PB&J in school lunches twice a week max – alternatives could include cold hot dogs, waffles & sausage, and leftover mac-n-cheese.

4– Exercise every day. 5 days a week. 3 days a week. Well… more often than I am now. Which is nothing.

5– Cherise every moment! Unless the kids are fighting. Or unless I’m tired. Or unless I’m stressed out.

6– Yell less. Unless the kids are fighting. Or unless I’m stressed out. Or unless we are running late. Or unless the kids aren’t listening.

7– Sleep more. Who am I kidding? That’s one I never have a problem with!

Cheers to a year that’s happy and healthy and to sticking to those resolutions!

Probably.

Maybe.

Cheers nonetheless!

On hard work and helping others

Dear Rylee,

There are times, as a parent, that you can’t help but stop and realize how proud of your kids you are. As you grow up, I seem to have these little moments with you more and more.

Some of my favorite time spent with you is when it’s just the two of us in the car. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does our conversations are some I hope I never forget.

I don’t think either of us realized that our seemingly casual conversation in early November about would morph into a full-family community service project. But I am so glad it did.

We were talking about our upcoming Advent Activity tradition. You were asking me what kind of activities we would have this year. As we talked about the activities we always have on there – getting the Christmas tree, decorating the house, etc. – we also talked about the service-oriented projects I try to include. Like the S.A.N.T.A. project and the community food bank. You mentioned that you wished you, Reese, and Linc could have more than $10 each to spend for each activity so you could buy more food and better toys.

Somewhere in there, I made a suggestion of figuring out how to turn that $60 into more. And that’s how the wreath-making fundraiser was born. You said, “what if we make some extra wreaths and sell them?

I guess you figured since we make Christmas wreaths the day after Thanksgiving anyway, what was a few more? I made a quick post on Facebook that night and started getting comments.

We spent the entire weekend clipping greens, wrapping wreath rings, making bows. For the first time you got to yield the hot glue gun and you styled and decorated nearly every wreath completely by yourself. Reese helped out here and there – she had fun learning to use the nippers. And your brother was just excited to play outside for hours on end.

You didn’t complain once about being tired or bored or cold. All in all, we made 22 wreaths, 3 candy canes, and 7 swags – earning $500 to be used for buying toys and food for our little town!

Actually, I just lied. You did complain. About my choice Christmas music. :)

Your brother and sister may still be a too young yet to truly grasp the magnitude of what your idea meant for our community, but I know you understood. And I think that’s what drove you to work as hard as you did.

I hope you never forget how excited you were every time a new order came in for a wreath. How excited you were to add up how much money you’d earned. How diligently you added up everything that was placed in the cart to ensure you didn’t spend too much. How you beamed with pride every time you told someone about your project. How kids at your school stopped and stared when we made the deliveries to the school. And most importantly, how hard you worked to fulfill those orders.

So back to those moments that make a parent stop in their tracks? This whole project was one of those moments for me. I am so, so proud of you, Kid.

You have always had heart for helping others and I hope that never changes. I can’t wait to see the positive changes you make in this world, my girl. You are going to move mountains.

xoxo,
Mom

2017 Family Recap

Nothing like including a direct link on your Christmas card to get your butt in gear to freshen up this crusty corner of the internet that you can’t seem to bring yourself to let go of.

If you’re new here, thanks to the back side of our Christmas card, Hi! and Welcome! Don’t expect too much. What was once a thriving (self-sustaining even!) blog about our family life has been pushed further and further to the farthest back burner as more children have been grown inside my belly, birthed, then continued to grow outside of my belly. It’s like with each additional family member, time has exponentially sped up and there’s barely enough hours in the day to make sure all the kids are fed and showered, let alone time for updating this blog. Funny how that happens, hey?

If you’ve been around these parts before, Hi, again! Don’t expect too much. I would love to say that my new year resolution for 2018 will be to start writing again, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Basically, it comes down to this: I truly enjoyed creating last year’s “holiday letter” so I wanted to do it again.

Continuing with the theme of time flying by, what the heck happened to 2017!? When trying to come up with snippets and highlights to share for our recap, I had to scroll through the pictures on my iphone by date just to make sure I had the year right.

Probably the most exciting thing that happened this year was our road trip. This summer, the five of us loaded up in the truck and hit the road for College Station, Texas! We went because my work is based there. For me, it was nice to spend more time than a rushed 4-day trip that happens every few months. For Andy and the kids, it was like any other summer break day at home, just with a swimming pool at our rental! Along the way, we hit the Hoover Dam and Grand Canyon. We snuck in plenty of fun while we were there too, including spending our last weekend with my boss and his family and some of their friends on one of the family ranches. We did a little of everything “Texas” – hunting, hiking and exploring, fishing in the pond, swimming in the same pond, shooting, relaxing on the front porch. It was the perfect end to our trip. The kids were real troopers with the long days (and nights) in the truck. Overall we were gone for three weeks, and while we all enjoyed our adventure, we were happy to get home.

Seemingly less exciting than a 4,000-ish round trip adventure, but a just as important milestone in our house happened in March. We got chickens! Real, live, egg-laying chickens. This has been a long time coming. Just ask Andy’s buddy Keith, who helped Andy unload the chicken coop his shop class built what… 4 years ago now? It’s been a back-burner project for a long time, and it was really exciting for us to get it done! We started off with 3 pullets (not chicks, but not full grown hens), assuming at least one of them would die and it’d be an easy way to “work out the kinks.” We now have 7 hens and they’ve all been named, much to my initial dismay – they’re not pets! I insisted. – Yes, I know all their names, but I usually just refer to them as “the ladies.” I’m pretty sure I love them more than the kids do now.

Rylee is now 9 and in the 4th grade. She is still very into American Ninja Warrior. So much so that back in April she was asked if she would want to give a speech at an event all about celebrating what makes them unique. She agreed and in front of an audience of about 100 people she spoke about her dream to be on American Ninja Warrior someday. I recorded the speech and shared it on the ANWNation facebook page and they turned it into a blog post on their website! Rylee was so excited about that. THEN! Her ANW hero Jessie Graff tweeted about Rylee by name and shared the link. Rylee was over the moon. In July Rylee got to meet and train with her ANW hero at the local ninja gym’s grand opening. There’s no safe doorway or wall in our house anymore. Everything has turned into something she can train on. Outside of her ninja training, Ry continues to work hard and do well in school, she’s decided her sports focus will be soccer and basketball, and she’s really into helping make dinner lately. And she’s at the point where it is actually helpful! I’d use this space to say something about wanting time to stop and for her to stop growing up, but I’ll be honest, I kind of love it! The person she is growing into is just plain awesome.

Reese turned 5 in July and this has been a year of big milestones for her! She started kindergarten this fall, she finally gets to ride the bus, she finally got to play soccer, she lost her first (and second!) tooth, and she got her first “real haircut” at a salon. She wanted it cut “all the way to her head” but ended up deciding on just so her hair touches her shoulders. The short, sassy style matches her personality perfectly. At her Pre-K graduation ceremony, Reese was in charge of carrying in the American flag, asking the crowd to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance, holding the flag during the pledge, then concluding it with a loud “you may be seated.” She took her job very seriously and when Andy and I asked her about being chosen, Reese informed us that is was because she was “responsible enough and loud enough.” We got a good laugh about that last part because that’s our girl! Outside of all the big things that seemed to happen for Reese this year, she’s also following in her sister’s footsteps and loves American Ninja Warrior! She has figured out how to “spider jump” up the door jam to the pull-up bar and is now working on those pull-ups!

I gotta say, I really love that we have two strong and confident ladies on our hands!

Lincoln is 3 as of October and certainly coming into his own. He still gets along great with his sisters (most of the time), but let’s just say that things can … escalate quickly. I joke that he’s a curmudgeon old man in a three-year-old’s body. He likes things just so and he’s not a big fan of when those things change. Case in point: he graduated from a crib to a big-boy bed over the summer! However, six months later he still talks about his crib and how he wishes he still had it. We are also officially a diaper-free household! BIG KID LAND IS THE BEST! These days he really enjoys playing with his train set and anything that resembles a tractor, dump truck, front loader, or skid steer. He also spends a lot of time with his red little tikes car flipped over in the middle of the living room “fixing it.” He is still very much a mama’s boy (I’m certainly not complaining!), but he loves working out in the garage with Andy and spent many hours out there this summer “building stuff.”

Speaking of building stuff, it seems like that’s all Andy doe these days! He certainly keeps busy around the property with projects – my home office was in the works until a windstorm destroyed our pole barn last April. The set off an entire chain reaction of projects that left Andy very busy outside. He demo-ed the pole barn, salvaged everything he could and cleared out the rest. From what he saved, he’s built us a carport off the side of our house, an awning off the front of the brick house, and even repurposed some of the metal roofing to be the ceiling in my office. He’s also been working on the site prep for the new pole barn to go up. That included having 16 dump trucks of gravel brought in! This September kicked off Andy’s 14th year of teaching. He has been very busy at work helping to build their CTE programs, and even assisting in designing and team-teaching an Ag-intensives class. So far for that class alone, he has taught 2-week long units on concrete work, framing, welding, and basic car maintenance. In addition to that class, he is also teaching middle and high school PE, shop, and a construction math class. He’s having a lot of fun this year. But probably the most exciting thing that happened over the last year for Andy was his back. After living with constant pain over the last 10 years, seeing a specialist and multiple physical therapists to no avail, he blew it out (again) back in February. Despite that being a really terrible, painful, and hard thing, it’s really been amazing. He started with a new physical therapist, and after 5 months of pretty intense therapy, Andy’s back is back to what it was before he ever hurt it 10 years ago. He can run again! He can do more than a few hours of work before being in serious pain! He can sleep again! Did I mention he can run again!? As cliché as it sounds, it’s really changed his (and our) life.

As for me, life consists of working and, well, everything else you’ve already read! I still love what I’m doing and consider to be working my dream job. I try to have some fun here and there. I was able to help Andy quite a bit with the carport project, I’ve helped with the office project, I went to Chicago for a girls’ weekend. Beyond that, I’m just trying to keep practice schedules straight and to remember to have the girls keep those damn reading logs up-to-date and turned in.

Every year seems to get better and better and we can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store!

Sending you wishes filled with love and laughter this holiday season!

xoxo,
Katherine, Andy, Rylee, Reese, and Lincoln

2017 Advent Activity Calendar

Year 6 of the Advent Activity calendar kicks off this week! My goal this year is to actually have it up and ready for when the kids wake up the morning of December 1. Fingers crossed.

I’m still having fun putting it together and the kids are still having fun doing all the activities. If you look at last year’s list, there are a number of repeats, but we’ve got some new ones worked in there as well!

For an added bonus of fun, I will be gone for work the 3rd-7th. I made those activities ones that Rylee can easily manage with her brother and sister and I will make sure I have everything prepped before I leave.

Here’s what we have on the calendar this year:

December 1: Deck the halls!
December 2: Do you wanna build a snowman? – Decorate bedroom doors like snowmen.
December 3: Trim a tree! – decorate a little felt tree that came in a kit from the dollar store.
December 4: Reindeer Games – Play pin the nose on the reindeer.
December 5: Gingerbread Dice Game
December 6: Make clothes-pin trees
December 7: Read Christmas books by the fire with hot cocoa
December 8: Go shopping for the local food pantry. – This year thanks to our wreath-selling fundraiser, the kids have over $200 to buy food with!
December 9: SANTA project shopping – SANTA stands for Sharing Among Neighbors Toy Appeal – another local community project. Again, thanks to our wreath-selling fundraiser, the kids have over $200 to shop with!
December 10: Go see “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” at the local Children’s Theater.
December 11: Make TP roll snowmen.
December 12: Melt Snowflakes – remember those little plastic beads you melted with an iron when you were younger? Those.
December 13: Go see Santa. Back-up: whatever holiday-themed activity book(s) I can find in the Dollar Spot at Target.
December 14: Preschool Christmas program!
December 15: Go get a Christmas tree!
December 16: Painting party
December 17: Decorate the Christmas tree
December 18: Wrap Teacher gifts
December 19: December 20: Eat snowman pancakes
December 21: Family baking day
December 22: Family Christmas movie night!
December 23: Snowman bowling – use the TP roll snowmen as the pins and the hallway as the bowling alley.
December 24: Write a letter or draw a picture for Santa
December 25: Time to celebrate!