a simple reminder in an ikea bathroom

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

I took the kids to ikea to get a basket for our fiddle leaf. The trash bag that it had been sitting in for over a month was becoming way too part of the room decor, so it had to go. 

Of course, I left ikea basket-less.

What was supposed to be a super quick "in and out" trip ended up taking almost three hours, and it ended up being a much needed afternoon.

The big kids played in the play place, Oscar and I somehow navigated the maze which is ikea several times, and we decided to throw nap time out the window.

After finishing lunch, we stayed so the kids could do a little art project. We didn't rush, we took our time. 

As I corralled the kids into the restroom to wash their hands off, I looked in the mirror and snapped this shot really quick. I was reminded of how lucky I am that I get to be their mama. I always wake up grateful to call them mine, of course, but I don't often think about how lucky I am, too. 

All the little when I see Oscar's tiny toes when he's napping and think, "Wow, I made those."

A simple reminder was just what I needed...even if it was in the middle of an ikea bathroom.

Three Powerful Thoughts That Help Me Bring the Love at Home

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Over a year now, I started talking and learning from a life coach. And to say that it changed my life would be a total understatement. I learned how powerful our brains are, and how we can change our thoughts about every single thing that comes our way...if we choose it.

One of the areas that I have done the most "thought work" in have been thoughts about bringing peace and love back into my home and in my own head. A couple years ago I wrote a post about being okay with not being the world's best mom. Since then, I still feel the same...only now, I truly believe I AM the best mom for my kids!

Does that mean I'm perfect? Heck no! I don't expect perfection out of my myself, nor do I expect it from anyone else! (And can I tell you...knowing that I don't have to be perfect is such a relief.)

Do I make mistakes? Yup, every day.

Do I have moments where I think, "Shoot. I really wish I would've handled that better?" Absolutely.

Do I feel like I still have a lot of room for growth? Yes! And instead of overwhelming me, that makes me excited! I'm excited to see what I have to learn!

So, in those moments where I'm not feeling like I'm being "Best Mom to Sofia, Pato, and Oscar," I look through my "toolkit" of thoughts, to help me go back to the mom I want to be. I thought I would share three of the most powerful ones I use in hopes that maybe just one of these thoughts would be a good fit for you. And feel free to use them myself!

"There's a better way."

I use this one a LOT. When I start feeling my voice getting a little louder or a little sterner. When I can almost hear how loud the lack of love in my words are. When I am at this point, I take a deep breath, and remind myself that I can teach, and explain, and listen, and express my thoughts without turning up the volume or using sharpness in my tone.

"I know how it feels _______."

Now that I think of it, I use this one a lot, too! (Trust me, I am using these thoughts I'm sharing with you on a DAILY basis!) I like using this one because I find it easy to use with any age, and with any person I encounter. Let me give you some examples of how I use this phrase.

Oscar is crying because his older siblings are going somewhere and he has to stay home. I might approach him and say, "I know you're sad. I know how it feels to have friends that I love spending time with. I know how it feels to feel left out. And I know how it feels to not understand why things happen the way the do." So, instead of telling him to just stop crying because they'll be back soon, I try to find a way to empathize with him.

Someone is mad because they want to wear a shirt, but you tell them they can't because it's in the wash. Besides taking looooong deep breaths and trying to block out the feet stomping, I might say, "I know how it feels to feel disappointed. I know how it feels to have a favorite shirt that you feel so good in! I know how it feels to be looking forward to something, and then feel let down."

"Am I being the Karim I want to be?" 

Obviously, you would insert your own name, and this one is more of a question than a simple thought. But, this one always helps me re-center when I don't feel emotionally steady. If the answer is "no," then I try to think of one simple way I can go back to who I want to be. I might think, "No, I want to be a Karim that listens." Or, "I want to be a Karim that is a safe place for others to share their feelings." Or, "I want to be a Karim that sees the best in others."

At the end of the day, it takes work to use these thoughts and get back to a place mentally where I'm not feeling frustrated or angry or annoyed at others in my home. I like to think I'm getting much better at using my thought toolkit, but I can also admit there are times that I seem to be tossing that toolkit out the front door and drop kicking it over the fence.

So, when I do...when I do yell or do get mad and do respond in a way I wish I hadn't...I just acknowledge it. I acknowledge that I did it, and then I remind myself that I'm not perfect. And then I do the most powerful thing of all- I forgive myself, move on, and tell myself I can try again right NOW.

And giving people the chance and the grace to try again is what bringing the love back home is all about.

5 Tips For Getting Your Meal Looking Insta-Worthy

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

If there's one thing I love, it's FOOD! If there's another thing I love, it's taking pictures! So, it seems only natural that I get so much joy from taking pictures of what we are eating. And because breakfast foods happen to be my kids' favorite, these are especially fun to dress up. But, lets me honest, these tips can be applied to any meal or snack. So, today I'm sharing FIVE tips for getting your meal looking Insta-worthy.

1. Pick something you feel comfortable making. Whether you're making eggs Benedict for the hundredth time or your millionth bowl of cereal, it helps when you're taking pictures of something that actually looks good, and doesn't look over or under cooked.

2. I always make tableware a big part of the picture. Which probably explains all the plates and glasses I've collected over the years. I like to mix and match them and, and my kids always think the meal is more exciting when I bring out the "fun" plates. I also like to collect pretty placemats and napkins.

3. As a personal preference, I LOVE to add COLOR! To add pops of color, I'll often use fruit in breakfast or brunch pictures. Berries are PERFECT. I usually will add them to the plate, and have some on the side as well. (Not only does it look better visually, but also, my kids love fruit and it almost always gets finished up.) Sauces, vegetables, and even cut up herbs or spices are another easy way to add color and textures. But, perhaps my most favorite way to add color, is throwing a vase with some fresh flowers right in the picture. 

4. I love the look of a meal that looks like you're just about to eat together. So, this usually means more than one setting. What I do is have at least two plates "ready-made" with the food already prepared to eat including all the toppings and sides. Also, to give a feel of a close family setting, one trick I use is placing all the items closer than you would typically set a table to eat. I tend to "crowd" the places together, and fill in the empty space.

5. This one is less of a picture tip but more of a "you probably have hungry people waiting" tip! I always try to get these shots BEFORE I say, "Food's ready!!" Because let me tell you, telling little ones to keep their hands off the food while you're trying to take pictures is rough on everyone. Plus, everything moves a little faster without someone asking, "Can I eat it yet? Can I eat it yet?" 

Hope some of these tips are helpful to you! And tag me in your pictures so I can see!

In case you were wondering....

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

This is what we have all looked like at some point for half of January and the beginning of February. 

We can't seem to catch a break!

Hopefully we are all getting our sicknesses out of our system and will have a super healthy rest of the year...fingers crossed??

Tea for Three at the Grand American

A couple months ago, Chris took Pato to Dallas for a couple days, which meant I was left with one little girl who was a little sad about being left behind. "I'm jealous, Mom," she said. Instead of telling her all the reasons why she shouldn't be or asking her to just try to be happy for her brother, I let her just feel sad and jealous. I am always grateful when my kids can tell me how they feel, and also when they can recognize their feelings.

Anyhow, I did want to ease things a bit by planning some fun things to do while the boys were gone. Because, hello! I can be a cool mom, right?! Well, it all worked out perfectly because Sof ended up not having school on the Friday they were gone, so I decided we would try something I've been dying to take Sof to for forever: Afternoon Tea at the Grand American Hotel. So, I took her and her little bestie for an afternoon of girls time.

Their excitement began the second we pulled up to the hotel (free valet voucher with Afternoon Tea!) and our their doors were opened by the friendliest valets. I'm pretty sure they felt like royalty when the doorman held open the hotel doors for them and welcomed us to the hotel. The girls gave each other a look and immediately I knew it was going to be a memorable afternoon.

I knew they would have a good time, but honestly had no idea just how much they would love it. The whole entire time, their faces would like up with excitement and more treats would come out. "Are those for us?!" 

Once we were stuffed with sandwiches, scones, and more treats, we took a little walk around the hotel to check out the beautiful window displays.

It was seriously the best afternoon together, and I think I had just as much fun as they did. 

Sunday Cuddles

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

I've come to the conclusion that when it comes to church, once in a while, it's okay to be late because you spent a little too much time cuddling in bed while talking about trains.

And because of waffles. I'm okay walking in a bit late because of waffles. 
Because the day will come when we won't be cuddling in bed talking trains anymore, and I won't have hungry little ones coming to the table begging for waffles. Someday I'll be cooking waffles for two, and we will have a lot more leftovers. (Okay, so I suppose there is a silver lining to it.)

Family Pictures Made Easy with JCPenney's Peyton & Parker

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

 With the holiday season, comes the tradition of taking family pictures! Cute pictures where everyone looks like a million bucks and everyone is perfectly happy, right? When you think of taking family pictures, does the thought make you excited, or does it make you cringe a little? Does picking out outfits make you want to run for the hills screaming and make you seriously consider hiring someone to just photoshop your family's faces on other "perfectly" pictured families? Let me tell you, I've seriously considered the latter. 

But, having had quite a good number of family shoots under our belts, I feel like we have found a few ways to make things run more smoothly, and be something we look forward to instead of dread! (Yes, it's possible!)

- Set the scene. Have an idea of where you want to take pictures before you actually do so! If you will be taking pictures outdoors, visit the location so you know what sorts of things you will have to deal with. Whether it be the weather, or the foliage, etc.-- just know what you're going into. If you're taking pictures indoors, feel free to tidy up a bit. The focus should be on your family, not the socks on the floor! (Or*cough cough* the basket of laundry that's been waiting to be folded in the corner!)

- Take some test shots to make sure that's where you want to shoot. Here, I snapped a picture of Sofia to make sure the lighting was okay and the colors looked good on camera. And speaking of light...

- Light is everything when it comes to taking pictures! Shoot in nice natural light that isn't too bright. I happen to know that our room gets great soft light in the morning, so this was one reason we chose to shoot our family pictures right in our home. Plus, I loved the idea of taking pictures of our family in the places where we are most comfortable and most ourselves.

- Set your expectations low if you have young kids! One of the most important lessons I've learned about photographing kids, and especially taking family pictures, is that children aren't robots--they usually might do what you want (if you're lucky) but be ready for some giggles, silly faces, and lots of wiggles. Go with it!

- Don't think you'll get the perfect picture on the first try! Or second. Or third. Or maybe tenth! When finally getting "the" shot we loved best, we actually had already taken about a dozen self timer photos. And you know what was the best part? Oscar decided to hug me at the last minute. So that moment felt very real and very genuine. And very cute!

For our pictures, we got some help from JCPenney and their new lifestyle line, Peyton & Parker. This affordable collection offers perfect pieces that coodinate so well, and there's something for each member of the family. While coordinating pieces can't force your kids to cooperate, they do make it easier for getting picture ready. 

Shop our outfits and home items!

This post was sponsored by JCPenney. All opinions and tips, however, are my own. 

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