Goals: A Review of 2014

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January is coming and I’m excitedly planning for 2015. But sometimes the excitement about shiny new goals for next year makes us forgot about the success (or failure) of goals we set and met during the last year.

Isn’t that a shame?

I spend all year working towards benchmarks and goals just to forget about them as soon as December rolls around, when I start making new ones for January.

It’s so motivating for me, though, to look at past goals – both those that have been successfully met and those that I missed. Learning from the things that went right and wrong help me to create a more effective plan for the New Year.

So what were goal-setting successes for you last year? What were the failures?

My goal setting for 2014 varied from my traditional system, since I knew we were having Miles during the summer. I knew that just the experience of becoming a mother and settling into a new routine as a family of three would come with plenty of new challenges, so I didn’t set a lot of goals outside of that. Beyond that, we had a cross-country move, adjustments to make as Mark became a student again, and on and on and on. I knew that a lot of goals beyond sanity maintenance were probably not feasible.

However, during 2014, I did meet one really big goal that I’ve been working towards for a long time. 2014 was the first year that I made a sustainable self-employed income. This is a huge benchmark for me. I’ve been working towards this goal (essentially, in fits and starts) since I graduated from college 7.5 years ago.

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you’ve probably heard me mention my freelance work at one time or another. I don’t often specifically talk about it here because it has never been terribly related to the topics of this blog. My blog is primarily a creative outlet and a means for me to stay inspired and motivated.

But I want to share this professional benchmark here for two reasons. First of all, it’s thrilling to meet a goal that I’ve worked towards for so long. Secondly, it inspires me to set other big goals. Meeting one big goal makes me realize that those big dreams that are hazy off in the distance are totally achievable. They might take a couple of years – or 7 – to achieve. But they can be reached.

So make 2015 the year of big goals! Maybe set some goals that are impossible to meet in just one year – and then start working towards them. What will they be? Or maybe you reached a similar big goal in 2014? Tell me about it!

Conversations About Joy – With Emily

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On Monday mornings around here, we have been chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

I’ve so enjoyed every one of these interviews on joy and am grateful to all of the inspiring women I know who were willing to share their thoughts with me. For the last post in the series, I decided to sit down with the questions myself.

Are you naturally a joyful person?

Yes. I’ve never been a particularly melancholy or pessimistic person (emotions which, to me, seem to represent the opposite end of the spectrum). I enjoy life so much more when I – and the people around me – are genuinely happy and content and I’m so utterly miserable when I’m miserable. Sometimes I feel like one of those rolly Russian dolls who perpetually bob upwards – I feel like my natural state is just sort of “up”. Don’t get me wrong – I have my bad days and weeks too. But it seems like life is just too short to not rejoice in what we’ve been given.

What brings you the most joy?

My new baby and husband – no question. Watching Miles grow and adventuring through life with such an encouraging, energetic husband bring me deep joy. By extension, I get joy from spending time with our larger families as well. We are blessed to be so supported and loved on both sides. I’m very blessed to also legitimately enjoy the work that I do each day (and am equally blessed to be able to do it from home, just a few feet away from my little guy!).

What is something “little” that brings you the most joy?

My morning cup of coffee; a year ago, I would have said “A good book”, but now it’s really the chance to read 3 pages of a book uninterrupted; a few minutes of alone time to catch up on memory-keeping; an unexpected phone-call from a friend; a four-hour stretch of sleep at night – these are all good things!

In what ways do you struggle with joy? 

I have discovered that I have a tendency to ride the emotions of those around me a bit. So, if a co-worker or family member is upset or discontent, it makes me upset or discontent. This can be healthy and empathetic to a point, but allowing myself to be constantly dependent on the positive emotions of others can be exhausting and a pretty fruitless exercise (which is probably why, a few years ago, when I was in a pretty unhappy job situation, I was SO unhappy).

Now that I’m married and a mommy, I’m also realizing that it’s unfair to let my emotional state be regulated by others because, by extension, then Miles and Mark get to bear the brunt of my unhappiness. So I’m learning to find a balance between being empathetic while not letting others drag me down.

Additionally, Mark and I have intentionally chosen to live in some situations in the last few years that are slightly less than ideal. During our first year of marriage, we were in a very transitional time so, to save money and energy, we rented out our upstairs bedrooms to three young professional guys (sharing a kitchen, a laundry room, a living area, etc. with them!). Now we live in a tiny, fairly old apartment because – again – we’re in a transitional time and don’t really need a lot of extra space. Sometimes this is frustrating because I’m pretty picky about cleanliness and neatness, love to live in pretty, light, modern spaces, and enjoy hosting frequently (something that is challenging when you can only fit three adults around the table).

The first few months in our little three-window apartment with an infant were especially challenging! It seemed like everyone else in the world was decorating their cute modern chic nurseries while we were just trying to figure out how to squeeze a couch into our tiny living room. But the exercise of choosing joy (and some days it legitimately feels like a workout!) in less-than-ideal situations has been such a good experience and I feel like Mark and I have a host of good stories that we would have missed out on had we made decisions to live in easier settings.

How are you pursuing joy right now?

I’m working to remember that joy is a choice that I make. I’m not at the mercy of other people or my surroundings – I’m responsible for my joy. Approaching the pursuit of joy as a challenge has been helpful – for instance, I’ve challenged myself to make our tiny (less than super attractive) apartment as cute and cozy as I possibly can despite some of the obstacles (monotone beige walls, brown carpet, and on and on and on) and to work to share our space as opportunities to host arise even when I can’t pull off an impressive event.

What is the key to a joyful day for you?

A morning cup of good coffee, a few minutes chatting with Mark on the couch before we go about our day, a productive work-day, and a night during which Miles sleeps. Sometimes all of these things happen on the same day. On the days when they don’t, I focus on remembering all of the blessings that surround me.

Now it’s your turn! Share your experiences with pursuing joy in the comments below.

Read the other conversations in this series with RachelErinKatyStephanie, and Audrey.

Friday Links

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Happy Friday!

Am I the only one who feels like December is racing by? Christmas will be here so soon! I’m excited, but I’m also trying to savor the month and the festivities as they occur (without feeling too panicky about all of my “to-dos”!).

I’m hoping that this weekend gives us a little bit of family down-time before the whirlwind of family visits. We are so excited to take time away from work and school and enjoy time with both sides of our family soon. Christmas for us is going to involve a lot of traveling  and I’m so looking forward to it! (The holidays will also include Mark’s first flight with Miles. I’m not nervous about flying with Miles anymore, thanks to a reliable system, but I am relieved to have some adult company on our flight for the first time!).

Here’s some reading suggestions for your down-time this weekend!

I love shopping at Target and I’m not ashamed of it, even if it does make me qualify for the term “basic”. (via Christianity Today)

This list of 35 career goals was great. How many have you achieved? (via Mashable via Cap Hill Style)

Have you heard about the My One Word project? I already know what I want for myself for 2015. (via My One Word)

Tonight, I have a cookie-exchange party. I might make these Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies. They look so tasty! (via Martha Stewart)

Some helpful tips for reconnecting with old friends during the holidays. (via LifeHacker)

Do you subscribe to paper magazines (as opposed to digital)? As passionate as I am about digital media, I still love my print media! Here’s an interesting podcast about the future of print magazines. (via DesigneSponge)

How do you feel about regular date-nights? Do you have “date night goals”? Mark and I are terribly lazy about this, both firmly believing that a shared carton of ice-cream and a Netflix binge constitute an acceptable and happy date. (This habit has its roots in our pre-baby days). But this article made me think that perhaps we should set our sights a little higher a few times a year. (via Coffee + Crumbs)

I adore Williams & Sonoma, but this Hater’s Guide will make you laugh so hard that you may cry. (via The Concourse)

What are you reading this weekend? Share in the comments!

Conversations About Joy – With Audrey

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On Monday mornings around here, we are chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

Audrey is a fellow blogger whom I met during our mutual time in D.C. Audrey has some amazing stories about her two years in Spain and a fabulous sense of fashion and style. She also has a sweet daughter E. Audrey and her husband are raising their little girl bilingually (Spanish + English!), a project that was the inspiration for Audrey’s fascinating blog Espanolita. I love reading Audrey’s posts and feel a special bond with her since our babies are just a few months apart. Naturally, I was thrilled when Audrey agreed to share her thoughts on joy here.

Are you a naturally joyful person?

My middle name is Rejoice. Seriously. My name is Audrey Rejoice Kratovil. I admit I am not a naturally joyful person. But I am taking steps to becoming more joyful! 

Honestly, I lean towards pessimism, worry, and “worst-case-scenario.” For example, my husband tells me he’ll be home for dinner by 6:30pm. It’s 6:47, and he still hasn’t walked in the door. My mind starts racing, “Oh, my God, what if he’s been in a freak bike accident and has died? That means I’ll have to go back to work and put our daughter in day care. Do I move in with my parents or my sister-in-law??” Cue stomach cramps. Sixty seconds later, he walks in the door. Note to self: need to work on joy.

While some describe joy as a deep state of being, steadfast among the currents of stressful circumstances, rooted in a Higher Being outside of themselves, others use it interchangeably with happy. I find myself with one foot on either end of the spectrum. To me, joy can mean being happy (i.e., no effort needed). But, sometimes it requires you to make a choice and take action to rejoice.

What brings you the most joy?

Right now, my eleven-month-old daughter, E., brings me the most joy. I don’t care if it’s cliché-sounding because it’s true. For the first time I understand how loving and serving another person can bring you joy. And, yes, this despite months of interrupted sleep and weird hormonal changes to my body. I sneak into her bedroom Every. Single. Night. to stare at her asleep. I lay my hand on her tiny warm fingers and just want to melt into the floor.

What is something “little” that brings you the most joy?

I’m happy when I’ve slept eight hours straight, and I’m thrilled when I make a major vintage find at a thrift store. I’m in heaven while savoring jamón Serrano from Spain. I enter a state of near nirvana when I open the shoe section of the Anthropologie catalogue. But, with those things, I don’t have to try. I’m just happy. They are not cause to rejoice. (See my thoughts to questions four, five, and six for how I’m learning to rejoice.)

In what ways do you struggle with joy? Obstacles?

Obstacles to joy: me. Let me explain.

If I wait for happy thoughts, moments, and feelings to come to me, I am often left empty-handed – as the mother of an infant, when was the last time I slept for eight hours? The minute I look at the price tag on any pair of Anthropologie shoes I feel depressed: I don’t have $250 for a pair of heels. Plus, those ten minutes I spend savoring a plate of jamón Serrano will come and go.

Are shoes and food and sleep and thrift stores bad? Of course not! But if I expect those things every day in order to be joyful I am relying on my circumstances to bring me joy. And that kind of joy just won’t last.

What is the key to a joyful day for you?

As I mentioned in question #1, sometimes choice and action are part of being joyful and bringing joy to others. Here are some guidelines that I have found helpful to being joyful each day.

1. Get out – I learned this quickly after having a baby. For some reason, I feel more confident and happy if I daily schedule at least one activity outside of the four walls to my apartment. I put on my make up, brush my hair, and E. and I take to the streets. One day this might mean a trip to the library. Another day it’s a tour of the grocery store. Other days it’s a morning play date. Whatever the day, whatever the weather, I am intentional and we get out of the house. This simple choice results in a major boost of joy.

2. Meditate – I confess that as  “doer,” a “mover and a shaker,” this is hard for me. But, I benefit enormously from pausing from my hectic mommy life to sit quietly, (usually during nap time) reading and meditating.I am a Christian, so meditating for me means reading a passage from the Bible and talking through it verse by verse, followed by prayer. (Check out this book on Mindfulness. I read it and completed the exercise. Amazing stuff!)

3. Serve others – There is truly something unique about the joy that comes from serving others. It’s different from the joy I feel when I find a 1950s fur coat at a thrift store.

While I may not have been blessed with enough money to buy all the shoes in the “Anthroplogie” catalogue or the luxury of sleeping eight hours a night, I have been given the gift of time (I’m currently a stay-at-home mom with a baby who loves to go places). So, that has led me to join my church’s meal team. While E. naps, I whip up some lasagna, or bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies. When she wakes up, we trek across town to make home visits. These visits – often to families I don’t know – have brought me much joy because I have witnessed how something free (my time), together with something tasty (food), with a side of cute baby, bring laughter, sometimes tears, and a hearty conversation that no three-inch heels could ever.

4. Be thankful – I believe we are what we allow our minds to dwell on. And, the more time we spend acknowledging what we have and giving thanks for it, the more joy we cultivate in our hearts and minds. Again, this requires a choice. Although this principle crosses all cultures and religions, I would like to share a quote from the Christian tradition on being thankful. I hope you find it helpful, whatever your walk of life, as you pursue joy:

“…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Okay, Audrey, so how can I practically “think about such things?” Well, if you’re like me, you are quicker to remember what you don’t have over what you do. A few helpful ways to remember the abundant goodness in you life: journal your thoughts; write them out on post-its and stick them to the bathroom mirror; recite what you’re thankful for as you slip under the covers at night.  I think you’ll find that your thankfulness will end in rejoicing.

 Thanks, Audrey!

Read the other conversations in this series with RachelErin, Katy, and Stephanie.

5 Months: A Snapshot

 

 

 

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Our little guy is 5 months old (as of Thursday)! Every day bring something new with Miles at this adorable stage. It’s so much fun to watch him discover new things every day.

Also, let me tell you – that terrible beast called 4-Month Sleep Regression is real. Last month was rocky between the hours of 1:00 am and 6:00 am around this house, but we all managed to survive and I’m so grateful that night-time sleeping is back to long rhythms again.

Here’s a quick snapshot of Miles at 5 months:

Loves: His toes! Miles spends hours every day looking at and playing with his toes. When I take his socks off and play with his feet, he laughs so hard he practically chokes. He also loves his binky (paci, pacifier, whatever), his stuffed animal friends, rides in Mommy’s front-pack, tickles, and conversations with Daddy.

Tries: To put everything in his mouth. Also, he tries to give big wet sloppy kisses now.

Learning: To listen to and interact with books. Watching him learn to enjoy reading time has been so much fun!  Miles is also learning to sit up – we aren’t quite there and normally spend a nice chunk of the day tipping over into pillows on Mommy’s bed.

Laughs At: The nursery rhyme “This Little Piggy” and “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”.  Seriously. He loses it every time. He also laughs when he sees himself in the mirror. It’s so cute!

Dislikes: Tummy-time is less unpleasant than it used to be, but still not his favorite.

Excited for: Baby’s first Christmas! Miles loves looking at the twinkle lights outside and at our tree. I know he’s too little to really enjoy much, but it’s so fun to see how amazed he is at the pretty lights and colors.

Miles is such a gift and it’s such a joy to watch him grow. Tell me though – what was your baby like at 5 months? Prepare me!

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Links for Your Tuesday

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Did everyone have a restful holiday weekend? Because of the holiday, I moved the next interview in the “Joy” series to next week. Look for it on Monday!

We are a little behind around here. According to the world of Instagram and Facebook, we are the only family who has NOT yet set up our tree. Whoops. Still catching my breath from our trek up to Dallas and back, but I’m looking forward to making some cocoa, turning on Christmas music, and decorating our little apartment to celebrate Christmas (Baby’s first!) later this week.

I am, however, almost done with our Christmas cards. This is the first year we’ve sent any out (I just couldn’t muster the nerve to send out a card last year…”Hi, here we are in your mailbox. The two of us. Again. Even though we were here on a save-the-date and again on an invitation just a few months ago.” It seemed repetitive.)  I am so excited about this year’s cards though and can’t wait to share them!

Here’s a few links for your week just because. Happy Tuesday!

The secret to looking magical at your holiday parties. {The New York Times}

Looking for a new podcast series? These chatty conversations about business and motherhood are great. (Elise Joy)

I’m torn – which of these scrumptious holiday cookies do I make first?? (Bon Appetit)

Check out this gorgeous quilt. (Red Red Completely Red)

Still looking for an Advent series? We are reading this devotional together this December. (She Reads Truth)

Here’s a fun memory-keeping project for December. (Ali Edwards)

A few new craft blogs have made it onto my reading list lately. What are your favorites? (Saturday Morning Vintage)

 

 

5 More Tips for Flying with an Infant

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Last week I shared 5 tips for flying with an infant. Here are five more. What did I miss? Share your tips for holiday traveling with a baby in the comments!

6. Pack carefully.

Careful, organized packing is probably the most essential step to flying with a young baby. Here is what I pack for Baby to ensure a stress-free flight:

  1. One full extra outfit (onesie and pants or pjs) for Baby, along with an extra onesie/bodysuit.
  2. 1 extra diaper for every hour you’ll be traveling, plus 2. (So if you leave your house at 8:00 am and plan to arrive at 2:00, bring 8 diapers. Layovers or cancelled flights become a lot less fun quickly if you run out of diapers and airports aren’t known for their abundance of baby supplies (why is this?). 
  3. Pacifiers. If you’re baby takes one, bring them. Again, pack several. 
  4. Changing pad. Those rubber, washable, foldable changing pads are lifesavers.
  5. 2 blankets. (Airplanes are grimy places. The likelihood of one blanket making it through the airport disaster free is slim.
  6. Bottles. Even if your baby nurses, it can be a lifesaver to have a bottle on hand during travel. Security guidelines normally ask you to show the bottles at security. If they are over 3 ounces, they test the liquid (without touching the milk). I just normally try to bring a couple of small bottles instead of one big one to avoid the hassle of the testing.
  7. Any diaper ointment.
  8. A few small wet baby washcloths in a Ziplock. 
  9. An empty large Ziplock to hold dirty washcloths, dirty clothes, diapers, etc.

(You can also download a printable version of this list.)

Airline guidelines allow traveling infants an extra bag of their own. However, unless you’re traveling with another adult, this can be it’s own disaster. I normally bring only my small cross-body bag with my wallet and other essentials, my Ergo, and one bag – packed as lightly as possible-  for both of us. That way, I can put Baby into the Ergo and then I only have one bag to carry.

When I pack for myself, I bring as little as possible. A sweater, some makeup, my wallet. I’ve quit bringing a book (!!) because the likelihood of me actually reading while traveling alone with Miles is just none. Zero. Nada. I am normally working so I do normally pack my computer, but a tablet is less bulky. I also always bring my phone charger.

7. Put important documents like IDs and credit cards in an accessible place. 

Nothing makes me more frantic than losing my ID right before I go through security. Before you get to the airport, pull out your ID, boarding pass or check-in information, credit card, and a little bit of cash and tuck it in some secure, external pocket. Once you are through security, re-pack your ID but leave your card and cash and boarding pass in an external (secure) pocket that you can access with one hand.

8. Dress comfortably.

I hate dressing for travel like I just woke up at summer camp. On the other hand, traveling with a baby makes comfortable clothing even more important. My go-to travel outfit is a pair of skinny jeans, flat shoes, and comfortable, cool top. If the weather makes traveling without a coat questionable, bring a light coat that can easily fold into your bag.

8. Dress Baby comfortably. 

I always put Miles in something that covers his legs and feet and normally something short-sleeved. Depending on your baby, this will vary. Miles tends to be warm-blooded and gets very irritable if he has too many layers on, but I don’t like his legs and feet to be exposed to all of the griminess of the airport and security. Also, having something comfy covering his legs makes the Ergo a little more comfortable for long periods.

9. Avoid hot liquids.

This is one of my pet peeves. Sane, level-headed, regularly decent parents forget that they have an infant strapped to them and don’t have a second thought about purchasing a tall cup of scalding liquid from the airport Starbucks. Liquid burns can be deadly for small babies. Infant skin burns much more quickly than adult skin. Burns are also much more likely to happen if you have a wiggly baby and are moving them around between the carseat and the carrier or baby wrap. Please do your baby and yourself a favor and purchase your coffee and tea iced during travel.

10. Be a Tiger Mama.

This one can be hard for me because I hate to be mean or grouchy. But you DO NOT have to let random strangers touch your baby. And they will try. I normally don’t mind people reaching for his sock-covered toes as much as I mind them reaching for his face. Figure out what  you mind and don’t mind and draw the line. If someone is trying to touch your baby and it makes you uncomfortable, say so. Stand by with something along the lines of “Sorry! I’m a pretty cautious mother and he has a sensitive immune system (which is true of all babies!). I appreciate your kindness but please avoid touching him.” Will it be awkward? Possibly. But that’s ok. There are lots of germs in airports and you never know what someone is carrying. It’s ok to be protective of your young baby. (On the other hand, if you’re not a super protective mommy and don’t mind if the occasional well-intentioned person reaches out to pat your baby, that’s ok too.)

 

 

Conversations About Joy – with Stephanie

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On Monday mornings around here, we are chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

Stephanie is a D.C. area wedding and events planner and the blogger behind Seeking Joy. As I’ve grown to know Stephanie (through mutual friends and subsequently through following her blog), I’ve learned that we share an excitement for the little details in life – the cups of coffee, the colors, the vases of flowers. Stephanie is courageously carving out time around her day job to pursue her dream – an event and wedding planning business – and I’m so impressed by the dedication and long hours she is willing to commit to pursue her dream. I was excited to include an interview with her in this series.

 
1.Are you naturally a joyful person?
I am definitely a naturally joyful person, for which I’m grateful! Happiness and joy have both always come quite naturally to me, and I’m known for having a (generally!) positive, joyful attitude.
 
2.What brings you the most joy?
Oh goodness, I could name so, so many things, people, experiences, and activities that bring me joy! I’ll try to limit myself here, but quality, genuine relationships with those I love bring me so much joy. Life in general brings me joy – from fresh flowers to traveling to stunning sunsets to a great book to laughter to front porches to faith to weddings. Being surrounded by the ones I love the most is definitely up there! I’m eternally grateful for the amazing relationships that I have with my family and friends, and I simply adore being with them & just soaking up time together (preferably with good food, drinks, and conversation!).
 
3.What is something “little” that regularly brings you joy?
I love when people recognize the little things that bring them joy, such as those little moments or little things really contribute to your overall outlook. Being continually grateful and thankful for the big and little things that bring you joy is absolutely crucial! Some little things that repeatedly bring me joy are practicing calligraphy and handwritten notes, acts of kindness, fresh flowers, celebrating holidays, reading books I can’t put down, Chick-fil-a, planning weddings for others, dinner parties, great conversations. I could definitely write hundreds of little things that bring me joy (I practice I love doing anyway!), but those are some favorites at the moment.

 

4. What is currently your greatest obstacle to joy?

I think my greatest obstacle joy is when I feel like I’m in a hurry or in a rush. I don’t take the time to treat others quite as kindly, I walk too quickly by things or people, and I feel too frenzied to stop and appreciate the little things. Living in Washington, DC – a very fast-paced city – and commuting every day has given me time to try to work on this obstacle and to practice patience and kindness (in turn, attempting to bring joy into my life) in the hustle and bustle of life. I hate when I feel like I’ve been rude, curt, or blind to others. I often feel like there’s not enough time to do everything that I want to do in a day (working full time, running a side wedding planning business, blogging, time with the Lord, exercise, seeing friends, and all of the other commitments and activities going on!), and I’m trying not to let my hurry diminish my joy – or the joy or anyone around me.

 

5.How are you pursuing joy right now?

Over the last several years, I’ve been quite passionate about the subject of joy and ways to cultivate joy and a joyful attitude in my life! I’ve long been intentional about big and little ways to increase joy and an attitude of thanksgiving in every facet of my life, and I love talking about this subject! Gratitude and joy go hand in hand, I firmly believe. One of my favorite ways to actively pursue joy is to keep a gratitude journal. Every single night for the last several years, I have written down things that I am thankful for.

I try to list 5-15 big and little things each and every day (which definitely adds up over the years!). Reflecting on those things that I’m grateful for brings so much joy into my life. Taking the time to reflect back on your day, turn the mundane things in praise, recognize all of the blessings in your life, and to stop and be truly grateful for the life that you have been given is paramount to living a life filled with joy.

6.What is the key to a joyful day?

The key to a joyful day is to look for opportunities to see the good in others, to seek out ways in which you can spread joy to everyone you come into contact with, and to be grateful and filled with joy for your life and everything that makes up your day. There is no better way to feel happiness yourself than to spread happiness to others – strangers, coworkers, family, friends, everyone! It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture or an expensive gift by any means. The little things and the little details are often the best and most meaningful.

Send those handwritten birthday cards! Don’t forget major life events! Show up on time! Send little texts to tell people how thankful you are for them! Think of how you can serve others selflessly – and you will also be filled with joy. Filling your life with people who bring you joy, being deeply grateful for the blessings in your day & thanking the Lord for them, attempting to lift others up, recognizing little ways to lift up your attitude are all keys to making your day more joyful. And if you are a joyful person, I hope it’s contagious to those around you!

 

Thanks, Stephanie!

Read the other conversations in this series with Rachel, Erin, and Katy.

5 Tips for Flying with an Infant

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On our last flight, some well-intentioned elderly traveller cooed “Oh, your son is so cute! Is this his first flight?” No, as a matter of fact, it’s his third. Or his tenth, depending on how you count layovers.

At the ripe old age of four months, Miles has already done an inordinate amount of traveling. On my first flight with him, I was terrified. What if he cries on the plane? Will he cry on the plane? What if I have to run to my gate? What if our flight is cancelled and I’m stuck in an airport? What if I drop him during turbulence?

Now, we are a bit more experienced and I find traveling through airports with him to border on pleasant. Mark and I both love to travel and family is spread far and wide, so I’m sure we’ll continue to learn as he gets older. But here are a few suggestions for traveling with very young infants.

1. Travel with your stroller.

I will never fly again without my stroller and carseat if I can help it. I only took my front-pack with me through security on our first flight and regretted it. Even content babies can grow restless in a wrap or front-pack after several hours and leaving your stroller behind leaves you with few options.

Kudos to the airlines on this point. Most of the airlines allow parents flying with an “infant in lap” to gate-check a stroller (and attached carseat) and to board with an extra bag. I have never used the extra bag allowance (more on this in a minute) but traveling with the stroller is a life-saver. Even a small baby gets heavy after three hours in a large airport! Taking my stroller through security makes traveling more pleasant for both me and Baby. He gets to wiggle around and stretch and look around while I have the freedom to juggle our stuff and navigate terminals without carrying everything and everyone.

2. Travel with your front-pack.

Always carry a front-pack or wrap with you. If, for some reason, the airline refuses to let you take your stroller through security or doesn’t return it to you at the gate (or it gets damaged!), you have a back-up. Also, Miles seems to fall asleep (sometimes) better in a front-pack than in a stroller. Having another option for a fussy baby in an airport is always nice! There’s one other key reason for carrying your front-pack, so on to #3…

3. Put Baby in the front-pack before boarding the plane.

This is my go-to system now:

  1. Travel through airport with Baby in stroller.
  2. When boarding is announced, put Baby into front-pack.
  3. Un-assemble travel system and fold stroller at the gate.
  4. Board plane with Baby in the front-pack.
  5. To depart, reverse the process.

This system has eased a number of issues I was experiencing. For one thing, it’s hard to juggle a baby, a bag, and a front-pack! Putting Miles into the front-pack meant that I had two less loose items to worry about as I boarded. Secondly, Miles is more secure (and safer!) when I board with him attached to me.*

4. Either nurse or provide a pacifier or bottle during take-off or landing (if Baby is awake). 

Some kind mothers gave me this tip during our first flight. It has worked flawlessly. The sucking that babies do during nursing or holding a pacifier helps to equalize their ear pressure. I try to time nursing so that Miles can eat while we’re taking off and landing, but I also keep pacifiers on hand as a backup. A bottle has worked just fine also.

My only caveat is this: if your baby is sleeping, don’t wake him up. If he or she is asleep and starts to rouse or look uncomfortable, try to provide the pacifier, but don’t rouse a sleeping baby at the beginning of a flight simply to try to get him to eat or suck on a paci.

5. Maintain a calm, positive attitude. 

I have had almost entirely good experiences (minus the one detailed below) with airport staff and fellow passengers. I really do feel that I’m able to set a good tone for my interactions with security, airport counter staff, and other passengers at the beginning of the interaction by smiling, staying calm, and maintaing a light-hearted attitude. Moving efficiently, but avoiding stressful rushing is key to getting through security without a crisis. Don’t panic if there is a holdup (security, for instance, generally asks to inspect my bottles of breastmilk, which takes a few extra minutes.). Also, your baby will be calmer if you keep your cool. They can sense stress!

I had originally intended to include all of my tips for traveling with an infant in a single post, but it was getting quite lengthy, so I’ll include the rest of my tips, along with a handy printable packing guide, in part 2 next week!

 

*The last time I flew, I had one issue with this. Miles will consistently fall asleep in his pack almost immediately, so I like to leave him in there as long as he’ll sleep (which might be the entire flight). But on our last American Airlines flight, the flight attendant asked me to unbuckle my front pack. He said that “those things” (meaning the front pack) “weren’t approved for take-off and landing”. I hope the look on my face fully conveyed my disapproval at doing anything to disturb a soundly sleeping four-month-old. I simply unbuckled the strap around my neck and did my best not to jostle Miles and the attendant seemed satisfied. 

But has anyone else had issues holding Baby in a wrap or a front-pack during a flight? The was the only time an attendant has said anything to me about it, so I doubt it’s an airline or FAA policy. I feel like he’s safer inside my pack during take-off and landing because he’s secure if turbulence occurs. Any experiences with this out there?

 

 

Conversations About Joy – With Katy

 11-17-14

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On Monday mornings around here, we are chatting about joy. Grab a cup of coffee and join in the conversation!

Katy is another friend from D.C. and a fellow blogger as well. Katy’s blogging at Dave and Katy is so refreshing – I love reading her posts about hospitality, decorating, and goal-setting. Randomly, Katy and I also both lived in Jackson, Mississippi for a few years long before we met (she lived in a little house that sits right across from my freshman year dorm!) and we have several mutual friends and acquaintances. Katy is alway full of enthusiasm and wise insight and I was thrilled that she was willing to participate in this project.

1. Are you naturally a joyful person?

I wouldn’t describe myself as naturally joyful. I view joy as more than happiness or bliss – it is having a steady contentment and trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness even in the worst of situations.   I am sometimes happy, sometimes unhappy – but finding joy in all circumstances is far more difficult – and far more unnatural because it means I have to give up control! Joy is often a choice and I have failed at living joyfully just as many times as I have succeeded.  However, the longer I live, the more I have seen the Lord’s goodness in my life and the more joyful (and trusting) I become.

In a smaller sense, I think I am fairly good at finding daily joys. I am always going to have bad days, but even the worst days can be made a little bit brighter by a good book, good conversation, yummy meal or glass of wine.

2. What brings you the most joy?

I feel joy when I am in close communion with the Lord and am trusting His plan over mine. Particularly, I find joy in remembering His faithfulness in times past or watching Him answer prayers.

Additionally, I am a people person, and I love quality time with others. But as much as I love people, I also find joy in having a little time each week to myself. Choosing joy is easier when I have not over-committed myself and feel well rested.

3. What is something “little” that regularly brings you joy?

Little things that bring me daily joy include good conversations, a glass of chardonnay, quality time with my husband, time spent outdoors, girls nights, Christmas lights and a seat on the metro (boring but true).

4. What is currently your greatest obstacle to joy?

I have 3 main obstacles:

  • Lack of Trust and Anxiety. My main obstacle to joy is worrying – joy means being content even when I don’t know the plan or like the circumstances which means giving up control – and we all like feeling in control (or at least I do!)
  • Having a misconceived perception of what joy is. I used to think that being joyful meant I was happy, so I would feel like a failure for not always feeling happy in hard times. But learning to choose joy and contentment during all circumstances has been freeing . . . I can feel upset or disappointed but still choose to be content and joyful!
  • Doing too much! Is it just me?? Or do we all grow weary when we over-commit?

5. How are you pursuing joy right now? 

  • Remembering the Lord’s past faithfulness. One of my obstacles to joy is not trusting that the Lord has my best interest at heart, so when I am struggling with joy, trust or hope, I remind myself of the many times He has been faithful. This keeps me joyful . . . and hopeful!
  • Gratefulness. Focusing on my many blessings keeps me joyful by reminding me what God has given me instead of focusing on areas of my life that may feel lacking. Also, when focusing on blessings that I have and others don’t have, gratefulness motivates me to think of others instead of myself — and focusing outward generally promotes joy over self pity.
  • Turning worries into prayers. Another obstacle to joy for me is anxiety, so when I start to worry, I try to stop my mind from spouting off a list of worries and instead turn those worries into prayers.
  • Going to bed early when needed!  (Or remembering that I get a new day tomorrow!) A few years ago, I really honed in on Lamentations 3:22-23 that reminds us that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning, so when life throws a stressful or hard day my way and I am struggling to remain joyful, I remind myself to survive the day and get to bed as soon as I can so I can wake up and receive my new mercies!
  • Finding little daily joys. You can’t control everything about life, but you can choose to do something every day that brings you a little happiness — read a good book, eat a piece of chocolate, go for a run, order takeout, call a friend, etc! Make sure your days have at least one bright moment!
  • Not over-committing! Sounds simple enough, but this one is so hard for me! I am still working on this area! I feel happier and more joyful if my schedule is not too jam-packed.

6. What is the key to a joyful day for you?

Joy is often a choice, but there are ways to make that choice easier. My key to a joyful day is to remain in close relationship with my Savior and others and make sure my body and soul find rest – whether that means time at the gym, time reconnecting with my husband, reading, watching my favorite TV show or an taking an early bed time.  Part of finding rest is taking time to enjoy the daily mercies and gifts I’ve received!

Thanks, Katy!

If you haven’t already, read about the first conversation in this series with Rachel or the second with Erin.