Park City summer must-dos

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I love the old west, artsy feel of Park City.

It makes the perfect fresh-air getaway for my little family’s annual staycation.

I lived in Park City for a short time as a teenager, in a 100-year-old former miner’s boarding house on old Main Street (Daly Avenue). Although I’m pretty sure it was haunted, I loved hiking in my backyard to the old abandoned cars and houses that lay there and scaring myself with my friends at the old abandoned mine up the road.

Although I don’t particularly want to sleep in that old house again, we do love passing it by every time we go up there, then returning to our cozy room at the Mountainside Marriott. I highly recommend it for families. They have so many fun activities for families every day and the pools, kid-friendly hot tubs and proximity to  the Park City Mountain Resort (Alpine slides, etc.) If you hit it during the off-season and/or have a hook-up through Marriott’s vacation club, it’s a killer deal.

Here are some things we like to eat and do (but mostly eat) while in Park City. Please add your own so I can hit them up next year!

To do: 

Hiking: We love the trails right by the Mountainside. We usually take the kids on the Armstrong trail. You can also ride a lift up to the top of the mountain and hike down on one of the trails.

Mirror Lake: The pretty drive alone is worth it. You’re likely to pass some cowboys herding their freerange cattle, which is fun. The leaves are breathtaking during fall, and the lake is peaceful and beautiful.

Guardsman Pass: This gorgeous intersection of mountains provides a great viewing spot and also has some hiking trails. If you hit in in the fall, take my advice and follow the signs to Midway for one of the most breathtaking leaves shows you’ll ever see.

Park City Mountain Resort: The alpine slides, alpine coaster and other activities the Mountain Resort has to offer are a must when you’re in PC. The prices are a tad steep, but it’s worth it.

Main Street: Check out the old territorial jail, stroll through some amazing art galleries and grab a gourmet sucker or gelato from La Niche.

Farmers markets: Park Silly is a huge, fun market that happens every Sunday throughout the summer and fall. Not tons of produce, but lots of fun local artisans. If you’re looking for produce, hit up the farmer’s market at the Canyon’s Resort. I bought some of the best peaches and raspberries I’ve ever eaten there!

Ghost Tours: As I mentioned above, I’m not too thrilled about the whole ghost thing and don’t tend to seek those guys out because I’m a scaredy cat and I like to sleep at night. But for those of you who like a good supernatural thrill, I’ve heard the Park City ghost tours are pretty legit. Have fun with that.

The white barn: The McPolin Farm is a famous  landmark in Park city because of its history and because it’s just plain stunning. Take some time to walk around it and snap some photos. You won’t regret it.

Outlets: I always come away with great finds at amazing prices at Old Navy and Gap (especially for the kids) and at Ann Taylor Loft.

 

To eat: 

Windy Ridge Cafe & Bakery: I went there with my mom and some girlfriends for the first time this trip and it I’ll definitely be making it a regular thing. I got a turkey avocado sandwich and kale salad, but my friend’s artisan mac and cheese looked pretty amazing.

We took the kids back to the bakery on our way out of town and the chocolate croissants were amazing! Heads up: Don’t get the bran muffin unless you love raisins. Which I do not. If you ask me, warm, soft raisins absolutely ruin a perfectly good muffin.

Java Cow ice cream: I’ve been going to this place for years and it never disappoints. Anyone who knows me knows I am an ice cream snob, and this place definitely meets my expectations. They have tons of flavors, including classics done right, like mint chocolate chip, and more unique ones, like honey lavender (my favorite). My husband got a malt with a vanilla-based caramel flavor and it was heav.en.ly.

Flanagan’s on Main: I have an obsession with Ireland, and this Irish pub and restaurant is serves authentic Irish fare and plays Irish music, so yeah.

High West Distillery: My brother, who owns his own restaurant (Sweet Lake Biscuits and Limeade) knows how to spot a good restaurant like nobody’s business. I’m so glad he recommended this one to me. It’s unique, yummy, and has the feel of an old west saloon with a modern twist.

Vinto Pizzeria: This cool little spot at the end of Main Street has delicious wood-fired pizza and gelato. Perfect for a date night, but kid-friendly enough to bring the little guys too.

Davanza’s: This is our go-to for thin crust pizza to-go. Go-to to-go. That was fun to write.

Other places on my list to try: Silver Star Cafe, Maxwell’s, and the Glitretind at Stein Eriksen.

If you try any of these spots, let me know what you think!

 

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Books are better: 6 ways to encourage kids to choose books over technology

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“If children enjoy reading, they will be more apt to continue to read as teenagers and as adults,” says Joella Peterson, children’s services manager at Provo City Library. (Photos courtesy of @heatheranncreates)

 

With all of the fun games and apps available to kids today, its no surprise reading often takes a backseat.

But according to research by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), “Reading is the single most important skill necessary for a happy, productive and successful life. A child that is an excellent reader is a confident child, has a high level of self esteem and is able to easily make the transition from learning to read to reading to learn.”

But how do busy moms like me encourage their children to read more and cut back on watching television or playing on the iPad less?

I went to Joella Peterson, children’s services manager at Provo City Library, for answers.

“Reading is a fundamental skill for life,” Peterson said. “The best way to prepare children for adult life is to give them the keys to be successful, and one of those keys is reading. If children enjoy reading, they will be more apt to continue to read as teenagers and as adults.”

Here are Peterson’s tips for encouraging young children to read:

1. Let kids pick their own reading material.

“If a parent forces a kid to read something they are not interested in, they are not going to want to read for fun and will always find something else to do,” Peterson said.

2. Have a variety of book options available.

Peterson suggests checking out a selection of books from your local library for your children to choose from. “That way, if children feel inclined to read, they will have options that will fit the mood they are in at that precise moment,” Peterson said.

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3. Let kids read in the format they enjoy.

If traditional books aren’t grabbing your children’s interest, try playing an audio book in the car while you run errands.

“Many times, kids that don’t seem interested in reading will get hooked on reading by listening to audio books,” Peterson said.

If your child is a visual learner, Peterson suggests giving graphic novels a shot.

4. Read by example.

“Be an example and make time to read yourself — especially in front of your kids,” Peterson said. “If kids never see their parents reading for fun, they won’t think reading is that important. If you only read after your children go to bed, they won’t see that reading is a priority to you. Perhaps they see your priorities as your iPhone, iPad or TV shows. But if you make reading a priority, kids will see that it is an important choice for them as well.”

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5. Make reading a positive experience for your baby.

“For very young kiddos, reading can mean gnawing on a book or banging a board book on the ground. Don’t force little ones to sit absolutely still to read as you turn the pages. Let them love the experience of holding books, eating books, and playing with books. When they they lose interest, let them put the book down and come back to it later.”

6. Subscribe to a book box service. 

A book box subscription, like Utah Valley-based LitJoy Crate, for example, is a fun way to encourage an early love for reading. Each box is catered to your child’s developmental level and comes with a new-release book and 2-3 book-related items to make reading fun.

7. Take advantage of your local library.

Story time, literacy programs, reading lists, personalized reading recommendations and reward-based reading challenges are just a few free programs your local library might offer.

For Provo Library’s events calendar (including an upcoming celebration of comics and graphic novels), click here.

To win a book box from LitJoy Crate and a free book of your choice from Weller Book Works, enter the giveaway on my Instagram account, @talkwordytome_.

I wrote this for utahvalley360.com. See the original article here

Traveling with the Bucket List Family: A Q&A with world-traveling mom Jessica Gee

The Bucket List Family kicked off their world-traveling expedition one year ago with a trip around the Pacific Ocean. Now, they're taking in the sites of Europe.
The Gee family sold everything and set out to travel the world on Aug. 21, 2015. Their 6-month travel plans turned into a year of adventure-filled family fun, and there are no plans to put a stop to it yet. (Photo courtesy Jessica Gee)

 

For most people, traveling the world is just something to dream about or put off until after retirement. But for Jessica (30) and Garrett Gee (25), it’s a here-and-now reality, even with their two young children (Dorothy, 3, and Manilla, 1).

The Gees were students at Brigham Young University when Garrett sold his mobile scanning app to Snapchat in 2014 for $54 million. That’s when the Gees decided to invest their earnings, sell everything from their Provo apartment and travel the world with their two little kids.

Since they embarked on their journey one year ago, they’ve taken 61 flights and have visited 28 countries (and counting).

But there’s more on the Gee’s bucket list than hitting up some cool beaches and swimming with whales.

The Gee family sold everything and set out to travel the world on Aug. 21, 2015. Their 6-month travel plans turned into a year of adventure-filled family fun, and there are no plans to put a stop to it yet.
The Bucket List Family kicked off their world-traveling expedition with a trip around the Pacific Ocean. Now, they’re in Europe.

When the Gees were blessed with their newfound wealth and set out on their adventure, they knew they wanted to do something to give back. So, they’ve found ways to serve in every country they’ve visited.

They’ve volunteered at orphanages, they’ve donated anonymously to people in need, they’ve gifted LASIK surgeries, and they’ve surprised families with bucket list trips of their own.

Now, the Gees are raising money to build a school in India in order to fight human trafficking. (Click here for more information.)

We got to ask Jessica some questions about life behind the scenes of her traveling adventure.

What’s been your favorite moment traveling moment?

That’s a hard one. My very favorite moments are when my children are playing with kids from other cultures. When we’ve visited schools or orphanages, I’m so happy to see my kids playing with other children of completely different races, religions, languages, backgrounds and cultures. But they love it. I love seeing kids playing, dancing and laughing together without words.   

We’ve also been lucky to have some pretty epic moments with wildlife around the world. We’ve dove with the humpbacks, watched giant leatherback turtles lay their eggs and held baby koalas.

Of the places you’ve traveled together, which place do you most want to go back to?

I’m dying to move back to New Zealand. I’m working on convincing my husband that it should be where we put down our roots. We will see!

When you got married, is this where you saw yourselves down the road?

We’ve been married for 7 1/2 years. While we have always loved travel, we had never ever thought about traveling the world full-time. This very much evolved from our situation after my husband finished school and had sold his company. I never would’ve believed you if you told me that when I turned 30, I’d be traveling the world for a year NON-STOP. It’s super crazy to look back on this last year. Honestly, I’m proud of myself for doing something so adventurous and out-of-the-box.

Jessica and Garrett gather for a photo at the historic Hluboká Castle in the Czech Republic.
Jessica and Garrett gather for a photo at the historic Hluboká Castle in the Czech Republic.

Have you both always had the travel bug?

Garrett grew up traveling the world with his mom, who is a travel journalist. My family’s favorite destination was Walt Disney World.  

What are your next travel plans and goals?

We will be in Europe the rest of the year. We hope to continue to experience new cultures, learn new skills and serve people all over.

How long do you intend to travel before “settling down?” Any idea where you want to end up?

That is the question! We have the rest of 2016 scheduled, and a few stops for 2017. I imagine we’ll try to find somewhere to put down some roots and then continue to travel as much as possible, even after the kids start school.  

The Gees set out to travel the world with the goals to grow closer as a family, serve others, to find happiness with less, and to become more open-minded and open-hearted (just to name a few).
The Gees set out to travel the world with the goals to grow closer as a family, serve others, to find happiness with less, and to become more open-minded and open-hearted (just to name a few).

What has this experience done for your marriage and for your children?

When we started this, it was pretty much a family vacation. Now it’s sort of a family business. We always try to remind ourselves that our marriage and family are most important. I feel so incredibly blessed that Garrett has been able to spend so much time with us. Most young dads don’t get to spend 24/7 with their kids.  

What has been the most challenging thing about your this experience?

The most challenging part for me has been missing that sense of community you get from having a permanent home. I miss having a group of girlfriends, I miss being a member of a ward and I miss being around my extended family.  

Thailand, Australia, Fiji, Tonga, St. Kitts, Vienna and Italy are just a few of the 28 countries the Gees have explored as a family.

What would you go back and tell yourself when you were embarking on this journey?

Good question. I’d tell myself to enjoy every second. To really soak in each and every stop. We travel so much so quickly that we often don’t have time to reflect a ton on each spot. I’m glad that we have done such a great job of documenting our travels on social media. Those videos and pictures of our travels are priceless.  

You can follow Jessica and her family as they travel around the world at thebucketlistfamily.com, on Instagram and on YouTube.

Dream Big Series: Emily Nelson of High Fitness (and a giveaway!)

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Emily Nelson, co-founder of High Fitness

 

I got in contact with Emily when High Fitness was just a baby. I had heard the buzz about this new workout and was impressed that a local mom had started it (with her friend, Amber). I featured High Fitness as part of an article I did for UtahValley360.com about the latest workout crazes, and talked to Emily about getting an instructor at the gym where I teach, Cahoots Fitness.

When I tried High Fitness for the first time, I was literally smiling from ear to ear the entire time because it was so fun and energizing. I was instantly addicted. I have been going to High Fitness for two years. It helped me stay fit during my last pregnancy and I still credit it for breaking my water and putting me into early labor.

I finally met Emily face-to-face at an event earlier this year and developed an instant girl crush on her and her vivacious personality.

I admire this beautiful girl and her go-getter attitude.

 

Quick facts about Emily:

Family: Emily is the youngest of five. She and her husband, Hank, have two little girls, Blakely (6) and Andi (2).

Hometown: Bountiful, UT. She moved back five years ago after a three-year stint in Canada.

 

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What are three interesting things/quirks about you?

I hate chewed gum. Can’t look at it or even smell others chewing it. I would rather have someone hand me a booger than a piece of chewed gum.

I graduated from BYU in Broadcast journalism. People think I don’t use my degree, but in reality I feel like I use it everyday when I go to teach I am in front of people and performing and putting on a presentation!

I bite my nails. I know it is the worst habit in the world and gross, but I can’t stop!

 

What’s your favorite dessert?

A chocolate Dunford cake donut. Or a frosting sugar cookie!

 

What’s your favorite book? 

The Selection Series.

 

What’s your favorite place to shop?

Lululemon has my heart and I spend way too much money on and time in their clothes, but if I am shopping for real clothes (what are those again?) I love the style of Madewell. I tend to hover around the sale rack, though.

 

What is you favorite and least-favorite part of motherhood?

My favorite part of motherhood is the unconditional love of a child. I love that they think you hung the moon even when you are messing things up big time. I love going on adventures and being busy, and taking my littles around with me as extra best friends is such a bonus.

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My least favorite thing about motherhood are the battles that bring out the
worst in me. My oldest has some sensory issues and cries and fights me with her hair and clothes on a daily basis. It is so hard and it pushes me to my breaking point and brings out my worst, but we are working on ways to make it better for us all.

 

What’s your favorite way to relax after a hard day?

After I teach late classes at night, I like to come home to a quiet house, take a shower and watch Netflix by myself. Sometimes, I like to clean and make sure everything is in order because that calms me (as long as I am alone with no one to mess it up behind me).

 

Describe how “High Fitness” came to be.

My friend Amber and I stayed in contact after I moved back to the states from Canada. We both taught a ton of different fitness formats and would swap ideas and routines. Amber started talking to me about starting our own class that featured the things that we felt were the best parts of a group fitness class but that appealed to the masses more than other classes.

When she first approached me, I literally had just had a baby and panicked about getting out of my comfort zone. But within 6 months, neither of us could deny it was the right path for us. We knew people wanted something more. There were hardcore classes out there like bootcamps that challenged the body, but you kind of dreaded them or they weren’t entertaining. There were millions of dance fitness formats out there that provided fun but complex routines that sometimes intimidated people and took away from the workout because you could barely follow along. We wanted to create a class that was both intense and fun. A class where in one hour, you could work your whole body, push yourself out of your comfort zone and see results, but most importantly have fun and leave with a smile on your face. So, we created the format of HIGH Fitness with its cardio and toning tracks and never looked back.

 

HIGH SCHOOL 4How did you come up with the name “High Fitness?”

I give that credit to Amber—she says the idea came to her out of the sky like a lightening bolt.

 

How do you come up with all of your routines?

Amber and I are very different and have different backgrounds, but when we work together, magic happens. She sends me an idea, I send back tweaks, then we go back and forth until it is perfect. Since we live in different countries, it can be hard and take longer. We love when we get the rare chance to choreograph routines in-person.

 

 

Why do you think it’s important for women to take time to exercise, even when other demands (including kids) get in the way?

Group fitness is my happy place. There is just something about a group of women who are facing different things coming together for different reasons, sweating together, laughing together and leaving as a better version of themselves.

When we take time out of our day to get those endorphins from exercise, we leave as better moms, spouses and friends. As moms, I think we need some sort of outlet or hobby. Why not make it something that helps you be healthier and where you meet other like-minded people along the way? I have made some of my best friends through my classes and I cherish those relationships.

 

What have been the biggest obstacles you’ve faced while creating High Fitness?

I think the biggest obstacle we have faced has been when people we considered good friends became naysayers to what we were doing. It really messes with your head. But then we look at the love and support from so many people and hear stories from people whose lives have been changed because of HIGH fitness and it makes it all worth it.

High Fitness 0138Another obstacle has been balancing motherhood and starting a business. It has kicked my butt. There’s a lot of mom-guilt associated with running a business and balancing mommy duties. Working to find that balance and do what I feel is right for me and my family has been rough. But I’ve realized that it is my family, and although it may be different from others, we have found what works for us.

 

“Working to find that balance and do what I feel is right for me and my family has been rough. But I’ve realized that it is my family, and although it may be different from others, we have found what works for us.”

 

What have you learned about going into business with a close friend?

We were told going in to this to never go into business with a friend—especially 50/50. But we are two years into this, and I am happy to say that although we’ve faced some hard things, our friendship is stronger than ever. We are more like sisters than friends now.

 

Having the exact same vision and goal for HIGH fitness from the beginning has been crucial for us. When others try and sway us or give us their input, Amber and I are always right on the same page with things.

 

We have also played by the rule of thumb that whoever is more convicted about something is who we go with. Whether it is a move in a routine, dealing with an instructor or a hard business call, it has always proved to work best for us.

 

I also think the fact that we are so different helps us tremendously. We are yin and yang—so different—but we fit perfectly together. We hate being apart in different countries but it has allowed us to be our own person and grow this business in the way that works for us.

 

What advice would you give other women who have dreams in their head but have yet to make them a reality?

 

If you have the passion behind something, go for it. You have to truly believe in what you are doing or the hard times can outweigh the good. Also, make sure you have the support of your spouse and your family, because they will be the ones to keep you going when you are hesitant about what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. Dream big and go for it. You may have a little to lose, but you have a lot more to gain.

 

“Dream big and go for it. You may have a little to lose, but you have a lot more to gain.”

 

What are your future hopes for High Fitness?

My hope for HIGH fitness is that it will continue to grow to many more areas. But I also hope that as it grows it doesn’t lose what we have created, and that is the community feeling you get when you attend a HIGH class. It is more than a workout. We had a goal of 500 instructors in 2016 and we are well on our way to that. Next stop, 10,000!

View More: http://loriromneyphotography.pass.us/highfitnessWhen we started this journey, we thought we were just starting a new workout class that people would like. We hoped it would help them get in better shape, or even to fall in love with fitness. What we never expected, and I still cry every time we hear these, are the stories of women overcoming postpartum depression, or younger girls feeling like being strong and healthy is better than being skinny, or my 70-year-old client telling me she hasn’t taken her migraine meds since starting HIGH.

These stories are what keep us going on a daily basis. When I ask myself, “why did I start this? It is so much work!” I get an email from an instructor about how teaching has changed her life, or a comment from a participant about coming out of depression, and it is all worth it and keeps us going to make it a better company.

GIVEAWAY:

Emily is giving away a High Fitness tank and hat as well as a punch pass to her classes ($100 total value!) Head to my Instagram account (@talkwordytome_) to enter. But while you’re here, leave a comment for an extra entry! 

 

View More: http://loriromneyphotography.pass.us/highfitness

Making goals

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I’m a goal-making junkie.

Always have been.

As I send my first child off to all-day school and my second child to preschool, this fall feels like a season of change. I want to take advantage of our new day-to-day schedules and build in some new habits and ways of doing things.

I started my goal-making process like this.

First, I thought about the changes I’d like to see in myself and the way my family functions. Some of the things that came to mind were being less distracted by technology, putting more effort into making my marriage more fun and fulfilling, deepening my bonds with my children, growing closer to God, and more actively practicing gratitude and mindfulness.

Then, I thought about three specific things that would bring those changes about. Here’s what I ended up with:

Technology 

  1. Phones off by 9:30 p.m. My husband and I made this a ground rule awhile ago, but ever since I started this little website of mine a few months ago, I’ve loosened up on it. When we do stick to it, I notice a big difference. That hands-free time opens the door to more communication with my spouse, less anxious thoughts at night (which is when I’m most susceptible to them) and an easier time winding down for sleep. Also, it frees up time for our favorite Netflix shows. Hey-o! Cuddling on the couch and watching something together is way more connecting than zeroing in on our own little worlds in the palms of our hands.
  2. Instagram regulation. Hi. I’m Kim, and I’m addicted to Instagram. I feel better already. Now that I’m more active on social media, I feel the need for more discipline too. Without it, I’m on and off Instagram countless times a day. Even if it’s only a few minutes here and there, it adds up more quickly than I realize. It makes me a little sick to think of how many hours I’ve wasted scrolling through pictures with nothing substantial to show. So, I’m limiting myself to three intentional Instagram time slots a day: One in the morning before the day starts, one in the afternoon when the kids are sleeping/having quiet time, and one more after the kids have gone to bed.  The day-checks are shorter (10-15 minutes) and night is longer (30-40 minutes). I may have to break out a timer to keep me on track with these ones.
  3. Social Media mini-fasts. Although a year-long sabbatical sounds nice, that isn’t realistic for me right now. Instead, I take one day a week where I log out of social media for the entire day and evening. We take a lot of little trips as a family, so I also pick a couple of those trips where I’m totally Instagram-free. (I delete the app off my phone. It might sound crazy, but that’s how I’ve gotta do it!)

Kids 

  1. Use my words. I’m always telling my kids to use their words to express themselves instead of yelling or whining. Words have a huge impact on the way we act and feel. They also have so much power over the way we make our children feel and how they view themselves. I’ve felt a strong impression lately that I need to focus more on the words I speak and the way I say them. It’s fitting, because I launched my “Talk Wordy to Me” brand and my tagline “using words to uplift and inspire.” I need to live up to that.
  2. Practice reacting in love, not anger. Being a mom has unveiled a little anger problem in me. I was all sorts of patient before I became a mom. It’s a slow process, but I’m learning that I can control my reactions. Not without a lot of discipline and effort, though. Thinking of patience as a skill I need to practice and not master instantly, just like learning a new language or instrument, helps me be gentler on myself and keep working at it instead of just accepting it as a permanent weakness. I’m not expecting to be the picture of patience, here. Just to react in love more times than I react “Trunchbowl-style,” as I’ve said before.
  3. Monday Mommy Adventures. When I dedicate uninterrupted time to my kids every day where I’m fully focused on them and making them happy, it dissolves a lot of mom-guilt. Also, I notice better behavior in my kids when they have that quality time with me. So every Monday, after my oldest gets home from early-day at school, I’m going to have something planned that the kids can look forward to. It will not be anything fancy. Sometimes we’ll go to the park. Sometimes I’ll read them a new book or play a new game with them. The important thing here is that I am making a concerted effort to have fun with them.

Spirituality

Even if you aren’t part of a religion, I think it’s important to actively do things to keep in touch with your own spirituality and to bring you closer to your source of inspiration and guidance. I’m a Christian, (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and I’ve noticed that my relationship with God is like anything else—it gets stale and regresses if I don’t make an effort to deepen it.

In this busy stage of my life, I’ll admit I’ve been feeling a bit indifferent and unmotivated to make that effort. But when I’m being lazy in that area of my life, I notice a stark drop in the peace and happiness I feel. I notice less perspective and clarity, less personal guidance. For me, these are the three things I need to recommit to:

  1. Daily gospel study. 
  2. Temple attendance. 
  3. Prayer. (Personal prayers morning and night, family prayer and couples prayer before bed.)

Marriage

  1. Kiss more. It’s like the prayer of marriage. Keeps you close and the channels of communication open. Hallelujah.
  2. Plan a reconnection retreat. This one was Clay’s idea, and I’m giddy about it. Our little babe is still going strong with nursing, but come Spring, I wont be a milk factory anymore. We’re going to escape (kid-free!) to somewhere remote, and our phones are not invited. Our only goal will be to have deep conversations and quality time together to strengthen our bond and reconnect with what our relationship was like pre-kids. Two weeks after I had my first baby, I interviewed a couple who won the happiest couple award in the magazine I wrote for. The couple shared a piece of advice I’ve never forgotten since: “As you have children, don’t put your marriage on the back-burner. Because when they’re gone, your relationship will be too.” I don’t want to be the couple that has nothing in common or doesn’t enjoy each others company anymore once the kids are out of the house. Now, where should we go on our retreat?
  3. Again with the words. I feel like I can tell my husband anything. But that doesn’t mean I should. I mean things like, “You’re washing that laundry wrong.” or “You put the wrong outfit on the baby.” You get the idea. Nitpick this, nitpick that. I’m going to focus on all the things he does for our family (hello, he did the laundry!) and get over the minor details that the control freak referee in me likes to blow her whistle at. Instead, I want to offer more words of affirmation and gratitude. I feel like that will go a long way to create deeper feelings of love and companionship.

Mental wellness

  1. Cultivate gratitude. I love the practical tips to cultivating gratitude I got when I interviewed a psychologist for this article. I’m going to put one of them to use and at our family dinners every night. We are each going to share 3 “Gs” from our day: Something good, something not good, and something we’re grateful for. I hope that by starting this habit now, we will help keep the lines of communication open as our kids get older and harder to squeeze information out of.
  2. Meditate. One of the most helpful things I’ve learned about managing that little anger problem I mentioned before (and this also works wonders for anxiety) is to take time to meditate. It doesn’t have to be anything hippy-dippy or abnormal. For me, it’s just carving out even three minutes of uninterrupted alone-time when I am not doing anything but relaxing. Not worrying, not doing something “productive.” Just laying or sitting somewhere peaceful and pondering. We spend so much time plugged in to something. I think it’s important to make room for silence.

I have other goals that fall under the friendship, fall cleaning, and health categories, and I’d be happy to share those with you upon request. But for now, I think I’ll leave it at this.

I would really love to hear some of the goals you’re working on and I welcome any suggestions for improvement in the areas I mentioned here.

 

Have kids, will date: 7 creative date ideas to keep your post-kids marriage alive

While our children have brought so much joy and fulfillment into our lives, getting out on dates takes a lot more effort and planning than it used to. (Taylor Ann Photography)
While our children have brought so much joy and fulfillment into our lives, getting out on dates takes a lot more effort and planning than it used to. (Taylor Ann Photography)

 

My husband and I were married for three and a half years before kids came into the picture. While our children have brought so much joy and fulfillment into our lives, getting out on dates takes a lot more effort and planning than it used to.

But getting out on those dates has also become crucial to the health of our relationship. Without quality one-on-one time together, my husband and I start to feel like we’re merely roommates or referees instead of partners in a romantic relationship.

So, we’ve learned to get more creative with our definition of a date. Here are some ways to protect your one-on-one time:

1. Opt for a day-date.

Getting out on a Saturday morning can be a refreshing change from the go-to dinner and movie date night. Once in awhile, my husband and I hire a sitter or drop the kids off with a family member then go on a hike, try a new brunch spot and run some kid-free errands.

2. Rent a hotel room for the day.

If an overnight trip away from the kids isn’t realistic right now, consider renting a room for the day. Get into your comfy clothes, rent movies, stock up on treats and reminisce about what life was like before kids. You’ll feel like newlyweds again!

3. Have a night in.

Put the kids to bed early and soak in some one-on-one time at home. Put your phones and computers away, skip the dishes and straightening-up, and plop down on the couch with your favorite snacks. Have some uninterrupted talking time, then end with a movie or TV show you both love. We won’t judge if you’re still in bed by 10.

4. Do a mini-date.

On Saturdays or after my husband gets home from work on a weekday, we like to drop our kids off with a neighbor or have one come over to our place while the two of us escape for an hour. We run, walk, ride bikes or rollerblade through our neighborhood. Then we return the favor for our neighbor. We all get our exercise-endorphins going and have some quality conversation with our spouses. It’s a win-win!

5. Set up a standing date night

Whether it’s every week or once a month, set up a date night with a babysitter or family member you can count on. For my husband and I, knowing we have that one-on-one time to look forward to helps us get through the rough patches of parenthood.

6. Try new things together.

Studies show increased enjoyment and happiness when couples try new things together. Check our our calendar of local activities and pick something you and your spouse have never done. You just might find your new favorite tradition.

7. Work in a work-day date.

Once in awhile I have to do some work near my husband’s office, so we meet at our favorite smoothie shop to talk for half an hour or so. Our mid-day date might be brief, but those little snippets of quality time add up and help us remember to make our marriage top priority.

What are some of your favorite dates to go on with your spouse? 

I wrote this article for Utah Valley 360. See the original article here.

Giving up on mom-perfection

Can we all agree that being a good mom doesn’t have a specific look? Like the thrift store jeans in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” motherhood looks a little different on all of us.
Can we all agree that being a good mom doesn’t have a specific look? Like the thrift store jeans in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” motherhood looks a little different on all of us.

 

I wanted to be that mom. You know the one. She makes homemade fruit snacks. Her kids are always sporting the trendiest clothes and the cutest hairstyles. She sews skirts and headbands. She’s heavily involved in her kids’ classrooms. She throws extravagant, themed birthday parties. She bakes fresh bread for everyone who moves into the neighborhood. She’s the “Yes girl!” You can always count on her to take on any and every project she’s asked to do. She spends blissful hours of one-on-one time with her children every day doing crafts, laughing and bonding. Her kids are never glued to a TV or an iPad. Drive-throughs and sugar? Not for her kids! Bribery and yelling? Not on her watch!

I was ready to ace the motherhood test.

Then I had kids. Reality set in. I made those homemade fruit snacks once, and they were disgusting. Not to mention time-consuming. I threw an extravagant, themed party for my oldest daughter’s first birthday, complete with custom invitations. Now, I’m lucky if I send out more than a last-minute text invite to a birthday get-together at the playground. I once sewed a couple of very imperfect skirts and headbands for my daughter, then ditched my sewing machine (and the swearing it induced).

Now that a second and third child have joined our family, my motherhood looks less like Martha-Stewart-perfection and more like sheer, messy survival.

Our dinners are basic, and my husband cooks them as often as I do. The kids dress themselves, and its not always pretty. I’ve been on time to church maybe twice since my baby was born a year ago. I’ve had to say no to a lot of things, and I’ve had to put myself in a lot of time-outs. I’m certainly not above bribery and I don’t have a heart attack when grandma gives the kids a bag of candy or we grab a drive-through cheeseburger.

Why do we moms sometimes feel like imperfect is synonymous with failure? Imperfect is not failure. Imperfect is real.

But I often still feel that mom-perfection pressure. I feel it when I see moms on social media who seem to have it all together. I feel it when I’m wearing my unwashed hair in a bun and run into the mom at Target who’s all done up (and so are her kids). I feel it when instead of being with my kids all day, I have to hire a babysitter and leave the house to get some work done (or just take a break for everyone’s safety and sanity).

I feel it when I compare myself to the mom who shows up to church on time with her well-mannered, bathed and beautified children as I perpetually show up twenty minutes late, my kids looking a little rough around the edges as we do the walk of shame to the metal chairs at the back of the congregation. I feel it when I have to throw our healthy dinner menu and my mom-perfection pride out the window and let my husband cook waffles for dinner.

Wanting to cook great family dinners, delivering treats to neighbors and doing crafts with kids are not the problem. The problem is feeling like I have to do all of those things all the time, and feeling inferior to the mom who does.

But you know what? The deeper I get into this parenting thing, the more I realize that behind every mom who seems to have it together, there’s a mom who is tired, just like I am. A mom who loses it with her kids from time-to-time. A mom who orders pizza instead of cooking on a busy night. A mom who is perfectly imperfect, just like me.

Why do we moms sometimes feel like imperfect is synonymous with failure?

Imperfect is not failure. Imperfect is real.

Let’s face it. When it comes to this motherhood thing, we’re all just winging it.

We’re all just trying to raise happy, kind kids the best way we know how. And we’re doing what we need to do to keep ourselves sane while we’re at it. If that means you need to hire a babysitter from time to time to work or even just to have a break from mom life? Go for it, sister. If you’re not into making from-scratch dinners for your family every night and opt for takeout instead? Nothing wrong with that. If you love throwing all-out birthday parties for your kids, power to you. Send me an invite.

But can we all agree that being a good mom doesn’t have a specific look? Like the thrift store jeans in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” motherhood looks a little different on all of us.

So let’s make a truce in this weird war of mom-perfection. Instead of playing the comparison game, let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt and do what we can to help and encourage each other.

I wrote this for UtahValley360.com. Click here to see the original article.

 

 

My fave home workouts

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My home workouts started with this Jane Fonda aerobics video (the singing at 25 minutes is the best) and this Kathy Ireland abs video. Gems, I tell you.

Although I miss the sweatbands and super high-cut leotards with legwarmers, there are so many amazing workout DVDs and YouTube videos that can help you get a workout that rivals your gym class.

Here are my top picks. Let me know if I’m missing any of your faves!

Yoga + Pilates:

Tara Stiles

Yoga with Adriene (she is hilarious and makes yoga so fun and accessible)

Sarah Beth Yoga (also great for pre- and postnatal)

Rodney Yee (super chill yoga)

Baron Baptiste (for power yoga)

Cosmic Kids Yoga (kids yoga)

The Balanced Life (Pilates)

Beach Body PiYo (I teach PiYo, and the at-home version is just as good as the classes! PiYo is so good for core strength, flexibility and total body toning)

Abs + Glutes: 

Blogilates

Cosmo Body

Cardio + Strength: 

Popsugar Fitness

Jillian Michaels Killer Buns + Thighs, 6 week six-pack, 30 Day Shred

 

 

My workout playlists

Good music = good workout.
Good music = a good workout.

 

I think having great music is SO important when you’re working out.

Because of that, I spend a lot of time curating my playlists for the classes I teach.

I often get compliments on the music I use for class, so I thought I’d share it with you!

Here are the Spotify playlists I’ve created for my classes:

Abs and Glutes

Yoga

I’m always looking for more great music for my classes, so please share some songs you like sweating (or yoga-ing) to right now.

To see more of my playlists (non-annoying kid music included), find me on Spotify. I’m klauren29. But I’m not 29 anymore. Just in case you were wondering. Happy sweating!

xo

Kim

Bend over backwards: 7 yoga tips for beginners

I wrote this for The Daily Herald. Read the original article here.

Instead of missing out on the many benefits yoga can offer to the mind and body, the Daily Herald got some tips from Brittany Andrews, owner of The Yoga Underground alternative yoga studio in Provo. Andrews discovered yoga when she was 15 years old and recovering from knee surgery. She continued practicing yoga for its physical benefits while she pursued cycling and triathlons, but she has stuck with yoga because of its mental, emotional and spiritual benefits.

“Yoga is the most organic, integrated practice that uses mind, body and spirit that I have yet to discover,” Andrews said. “I wanted to share my philosophy and love of yoga with the community, so I opened a studio about a year and a half ago. I like finding teachers who share my philosophy of yoga — that it should be sweaty, lighthearted, fun, upbeat, and a journey of strength-building and self-discovery.”

Here are seven tips to get you started on the right foot in yoga:

1. Be open-minded: When it comes to yoga, Andrews says first impressions aren’t everything. “Don’t judge yoga after one class,” Andrews said. “Give your body and mind several classes to adjust to the movements, feelings and poses, and I promise you’ll love it!”

2. Dress for the occasion: Yoga clothing is synonymous with comfortable clothing. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be so many people walking around in their yoga pants long after they’ve said their namastes. Andrews says the only dress code for yoga is comfortable, breathable exercise clothes.

3. Don’t be shy: Andrews encourages yoga students to give everything in class a try, but don’t be afraid to sit back and watch after you’ve given it a shot. “Look at the amazing things others can do as motivation rather than discouragement,” Andrews said.

4. Listen to your body: “Be careful and know your body and its limitations, but at the same time trust your own strength,” Andrews said. There is a simpler version of many things in yoga, so you can ask your instructor for the modified version or simply do what feels good to you.

5. Food for thought: Don’t go to yoga on a full stomach. Drink water only if needed throughout the class, and your body will need lots of water, protein and vegetables afterward, Andrews said.

6. Strike a pose: You’re enjoying Child’s Pose during yoga class and suddenly everyone around you is in a position you thought was only for contortionists. Not to worry. They got there with a lot of practice, and you can, too. “The key to challenging poses is practice, practice, practice,” Andrews says. She says to believe in the quote, “Practice and all is coming,” by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the father of Ashtanga Yoga. There are also plenty of how-to yoga videos on YouTube and other websites to help you perfect those poses.

7. Don’t sweat it: If you aren’t keeping up in class, just relax and remember yoga is all about progressing in your own way and in your own time. You won’t find a more laid back group of people than those who practice yoga. “I believe that yoga should make you smile,” Andrews said. “It should make you stronger inside and out, and it should make you sweat and breathe and stretch, all while listening to really fantastic music.”

If you’re ready to hit the mat, there are plenty of yoga studios and gyms that offer yoga classes around the valley. The Yoga Underground, for example, is at 78 W. Center St. in Provo. It often has free classes (usually the first Monday of every month), which are posted on The Yoga Underground Facebook page.