Camp Kindfulness

My goal for the summer is to worry less about academics, and focus more on making this world a better place—starting with the little people in my home! I hope to create simple, but meaningful activities to teach my children the importance of intentionally being kind and serving others.

The idea is to make the activities as low-key and stress-free as possible (i.e., bring soup to a sick neighbor, donate old dish towels to the Humane Society, bring sunscreen to the lifeguards at the pool…)

The point is to teach my kids that small acts of being purposefully kind can make a big difference!

What’s “kindfulness” you ask? It’s “a daily practice using volunteering, intentional acts of kindness, and gratitude to bring awareness to the impact you make on others and the positive mental state created by serving others.” (created by Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm)

The Five Pillars of Kindfulness are: volunteering, intentional acts of kindness, connection, reflection and inspiration.

1. No stress. This is not meant to be “one more thing” you *have* to mark off your checklist this summer. Do as much or as little as you can and what works for your family. It’s not meant to be “perfect”. We’re all learning  & growing here! Even one day of consciously being kind is better than no days at all.

2. Make it age appropriate. But there’s no limit on age. You can teach a one year-old to give a hug or clean up blocks. A 100 year-old can spread wisdom to others. Try to incorporate mindfulness and self-awareness activities whenever you see opportunities throughout your day.

3. Do your best to casually instill mindful habits. For instance, for my family that may look like reading one page in the book “Breathe Like a Bear,” teaching my kids to notice their breath and calm their bodies when they feel frustrated. Again, the point is to make it simple and doable, and not become overwhelmed with doing it Perfectly.

4. Spread the good! Tag me on Instagram @katievanbrunt with the hashtag: #CampKindfulness so I can see the progress (not perfection!) you’re creating.

 

Next post… Ideas to do for Camp Kindfulness

 

Loyally, Katie

 

Resources:

“Kindfulness” by Ajahn Brahm

“It’s Not Mindfulness Without Kindness”

“Breathe Like a Bear” book

“The Conscious Parent” book

“Sitting Still Like a Frog” book

Morning Routine for the Modern Mom

 

Recently I posted a little tidbit about how I fit in “Me” time with three small children, and a husband that works (mostly insane) hours. As promised, here is a more detailed version of how I map out my mornings.

(Dark pic because the sun isn’t even up yet!)

5:15am – Alarm goes off. Hit (gasp!) Snooze. But I thought the key to having a successful morning routine is NOT hitting Snooze? Well, I use it as a timer (and also as a safety net so I don’t fall back asleep because that honestly sometimes happens.) During my nine minutes of snooze, I meditate by I placing one hand over my heart and my other hand over my belly. I clear away all the mind-chatter and feel my heartbeat and breath. I say a Hail Mary and The Our Father. Then, I review my day like a movie reel. I don’t set expectations, but rather imagine myself going through the motions of what I want to accomplish, and with the attitude I wish to have throughout the day. For example, I imagine speaking calmly to my children when (I can guarantee) they will be as slow as sloths getting into the car. I also imagine myself doing tasks I hope not to forget like laying the class snack by the front door. (It helps!)

 

5:24am – Alarm goes off again. (And I contemplate hitting snooze again.) I get out of bed, take my medicine, wash my face, and get dressed. Getting dressed has been one of the hardest things to train myself to do… and I’m still working on it! It’s hard because I don’t think my brain is awake enough to decide what to wear. But deciding to put *something* on (like workout clothes, 99% of the time) is better than staying in my pajamas.

 

5:35am – I throw in a load of laundry (“A load a day keeps the mountain away”). This little life hack has helped tremendously.

I also take this quiet time to practice mindfulness. I’m learning to be aware of the sounds and noises and other senses around me… the sound of the water hitting the washing machine, the rush of cold air when I open the windows, the sound of the cars’ tires rolling on the pavement, the sounds (and sometimes smells) of the sea lions, the feeling of my fingers touching knobs and handles, the sound of the cricket stuck under our refrigerator (how is he still alive?!)

Next, I start a pot of coffee. (I love my French press.) But before that, I always drink warm lemon water with local honey. It’s a gentle way to wake up my body, and the local honey helps with my allergies. Then, I sit down and get busy with my Bible. I read one chapter a day (sometimes two if I’m having an exceptionally smooth morning.) Right now I am reading Proverbs, mainly because I personally feel like it needs less brain power in the morning to navigate (as compared to other chapters in the Bible).

Then, I “Prayer Journal”. (I wrote about my prayer process here.) I like to write down my prayers because it holds me more accountable to be truthful, as well as navigate my weaknesses and come up with a plan on how to be a better version of myself. I also imagine my kids one day reading through my prayer journal and apologizing for driving me crazy. Kidding. Kinda. But I do imagine them reminiscing over some lovely memories and realizing that whatever they go through in life, their feelings are normal.

After that, I “mind dump”. I quickly jot down whatever comes to mind that I need or want to do. (i.e., “diapers at Costco”, “dog food”, “send thank-you note”, “phone bill”, “babysitter for Friday”, etc.) If I wake up with too much *stuff* in my brain, I’ll mind dump first-thing in the morning to prevent it from becoming too much of a distraction. I also take this opportunity to review my agenda for the day, and 1. Make sure I know the correct date, and 2. Know exactly what I’m suppose to be doing for the day.

 

6 or 6:15am – I cook and eat breakfast. Usually I eat some sort of egg dish (I love my egg sandwich maker) or avocado toast, with fruit, and drink my HOT coffee. I used to cook these elaborate Whole30 and paleo meals, but it got to be too time consuming–with a lot of cleanup.

(Side note: If anyone has quick and easy paleo breakfasts, send them my way!)

 

6:30am – Switch over the laundry and wake up the kids.

(Another side note: Lately, Alexander has been waking up around the six o’clock hour so he usually gets to share a yummy breakfast with me.)

* * *

So there you have it! My morning course of action.

Am I tired of waking up at 5:15am? Do I wish I could sleep in? Yes and Yes. I almost always dread waking up that early, but historically speaking, my day is awful if I don’t.

One day, while staring at the darkened ceiling, I asked myself, “How did you feel when you hit Snooze yesterday?” Terrible. Short-fused and flustered.

Then I asked myself, “How did you feel when you used to wake up early?” Accomplished. Refreshed. Patient.

Sooo… Self, “Which do you want to feel?!” Obviously the latter!

Even when I try to “cheat” on the weekends and claim an extra forty-five minutes or hour of sleep (because, y’know, it’s the freakin’ weekend!), it throws everything off. So for now, this is the path I’m taking.

Do my kids sometimes wake up before 6:30am? Yes. Do I always get to do every single thing in my routine? No. If that happens, I just write, “To be continued…” in my prayer journal and get back to it later in the day when I can.

Is my routine a surefire way to have a perfect morning? Heck no! But it definitely makes for a BETTER morning. The important thing is that I’m trying my best and doing something to help me be the best version of myself.

* * *

How do you feel about morning routines? What is yours like?

Loyally, Katie

P.S. This morning routine was not created over night. I prayed for a long time for God to help me stop yelling at my kids in the morning, and taking them to school in house slippers because I was so flustered and flighty. I hope this post inspires you to make your own changes (that best fit you and your family) to make your mornings more peaceful.

 

How I Thrived While My Husband Worked Nights

My husband’s job of being a physician in Residency is very demanding. This month, he had to work two weeks of “nights”. He would go in for his shift around 5pm and get home around 7am. He has worked nights numerous times and each time I felt like I was going to lose my dang mind! Therefore, when I saw “Nights” listed in his future schedule, I thought, What can I do to not just SURVIVE, but actually THRIVE?

Based on personal experience (both good and bad) I constructed the following tips, tricks, and habits:

Wake up early for “me” time

I set my alarm for 5:15am. I mediated for nine minutes (that’s the length of my snooze button) then got dressed. I went downstairs and drank warm lemon water with honey to gently wake my body, and started a pot of coffee. Meanwhile, I read a chapter in the Bible and prayed/journaled. Next I cooked and ate breakfast with… get this–HOT coffee. Like, actual HOT coffee. I didn’t even know that existed in real life?! All of this took about an hour–just in time for my kids to wake up at 6:30. By getting myself entirely ready before my kids woke up, I felt armored to conquer the day.

{I plan on writing a post on this topic more thoroughly because it really has been life changing.}

Pre-made meals

Cooking for someone who wasn’t living my same “normal” hours was really difficult. By purchasing pre-made meals (from Costco), my husband could eat what he felt like when he felt like it, and I didn’t feel obligated to constantly have something prepared for him.

Paper plates

You may be saying, But this is such a waste! Yes, I know. I struggle with this tip, because while it’s super helpful and easy, it’s also bad for the environment. However! Did you know you can compost paper products? By eliminating the chore of constant dishes for the past two weeks, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Do laundry every day

I had the kids put their dirty clothes in the washing machine the night before (I actually do this all the time as our normal routine) and in the morning I added mine and started the wash. As They say, “A load a day keeps the mountain away.” I switched the load from the washer to the dryer before I took the kids to school and by the time I got back… Ta Da!… I had clean clothes! During our nighttime routine I helped the kids put their clothes away.

Stick to a predictable/tight schedule (that includes doing nothing)

At the start of the week I wrote things down in my calendar that were absolute MUSTS (i.e. school pick-up/drop-off, after school activities, appointments, etc.). Then I looked at our “free time”. It was important to me that I had no obligations to other people. It just seemed too stressful to try and make commitments when I wasn’t sure what my state of sanity was going to be. I’m glad I left free time for my children to play outside in the afternoons and burn some energy. It made for a *smoother* bed time.

Breakfast for dinner

Trying to keep my normal cooking routine was too much pressure in the past, especially since my husband wasn’t eating dinner with us. I didn’t want the stress of trying to get my kids to eat things they weren’t thrilled to eat; and since my husband doesn’t particularly care for breakfast for dinner, I figured these past two weeks were the perfect time to do it.

Get a babysitter

Handing over parental responsibilities to another qualified human being for a few hours a week allowed me to take a break and recharge.

Have a Fun Day!

My husband had one day in between his two-week night rotation so we took advantage of our time together and went away to the beach for one night/day. It was a last-minute decision and I’m glad we did it because it gave us all the much needed quality time we were yearning for as a family.

“Season of Sacrifice”

There were times where even though I was doing all of the above, I still felt overwhelmed. (Obviously completely normal!) If I felt those feelings rising, I stopped, took a deep breath, and remembered that it was just a “Season of Sacrifice” and “This Too Shall Pass”. I thought, It’ll be over before I know it and will be a distant memory.

I DID IT!

* * *

If your spouse is going to be away for a period of time, or is working an opposite schedule, I hope these tips will help ease that exhausting time. You can do it!

 

Loyally,

Katie

My Dearest Alexander Blake, On Your First Birthday

I know I’m suppose to be grateful you’ve been blessed a year older–and I am–but I can’t help but cling on to this fleeting time with you as an infant.

I want to remember… 
How your brown eyes greet mine every morning when there’s not yet light peering through the curtain… 
How you scrunch your little nose because you know it will make me laugh… 
How your sweet little voice sounds, right before you fall asleep…
How your tiny fingers grasp my thumb as you nurse and stare at me with wonder… 
At first I thought you were looking at me for guidance, but now I believe it is me that is finding answers through you. 
You have taught me… 
That, despite my best efforts, time doesn’t slow down so I need to live in the moment… 
That snuggling on the sofa is more important than making sure dinner is on the table on time… 
That listening to birds chirp is more important than waiting for a phone to chime… 
That reading “one more book” is more important than folding “one more basket” of laundry.

Son, I will be there for you with a bandage when you fall off your skateboard, and I will be there with an emotional bandage when you go through your first break-up. I’ll be waiting by the door to pick you up from your first day of school, and I’ll be waiting by the door when you come home late for curfew. I’ll stand by you when you embarrass me with an epic meltdown in the middle of the store, and I’ll stand by you to embarrass you with hugs and kisses in public until the day I die.
Although I wish I could keep you little forever, I look forward to the memories we will make in the years to come. I vow never to take my time with you for granted, and to be grateful for each and every moment I share with you.
Time is fleeting, but my love for you never will be.
I love you, Bubbe! 
Forever, 
Your Mommy 
Photo Cred: Salina B. Photography
Never Grow Up Shirt: Lainey Kay Creations

Give This Up For Lent


This year for Lent, give up…

1. Busyness

     Our society wears Busyness as a badge of honor, but that was never God’s intent. When you find yourself feeling like you have to “keep up,” STOP and slow down. Release any distractions (i.e., television, social media, comparison, etc.) and Be Present. Take a bath, meditate for five minutes, journal, or sit outside and let the sun shine on your face. Be mindful of ways to rest and recharge, and “Be still and know”.
2. Selfishness
   Treat others the way you want to be treated. Stay away from gossip and slander, and find compassion and empathy. Jesus laid down His life for us. Think about how you can put others before yourself.
3. Worry
     Let go of fear, anxiety, and self-doubt. Give them up to the Lord. He will take care of you. Pour gratitude and thankfulness into your soul, for you were fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. 
4. Negativity
     Look for ways to turn negative thoughts into positive and hopeful ones. When you’re having a bad day, think, “What is going right–right NOW?” Instead of discouraging and polluting words, find hope and positivity. 
5. Soul-Suckers
     Acknowledge draining emotions such as comparison, anger, judgement, bitterness, and resentment, but then release them and replace them with forgiveness. Forgive yourself and others. Your heart and soul will thank you.
Dear Lord, for this Lenten season, help me let go of my old habits and embrace a new life so that I may go out into the world and speak Your truth. 

loyally,
katie

PPD: 7 Years Later


It has been seven years since I was hospitalized for Postpartum Depression. There are so many thoughts swirling in my head about that time in my life. It still boggles my mind that I was ever admitted to a psychiatric inpatient hospital. I said it then, and it has stayed true seven years later: Postpartum Depression was paradoxically the best and worst thing to ever happen to me. It was certainly the scariest time in my life, but it has also taught me more Truths about myself than I ever dared to know. Going through PPD has opened doors to my soul I never deemed possible.


Postpartum depression taught me how to manage my stress and anxiety. I wasn’t even aware I had childhood anxiety until I dove into numerous hours of therapy. I sometimes imagine what my life would be like now had I not gone through what I did, and I cringe at the thought. I cringe because I envision myself utterly uptight. I know I would still be sweating the small stuff and suffering from panic attacks. But mostly, I know I would be missing out on LIFE. I would be stuck in “playing it safe” and always reaching for the Easy Button. Now, let me not be mistaken… it’s not that I don’t experience insecurities and difficulties like everyone else, but I’m not paralyzed or plagued by them anymore. 


Postpartum depression has guided me towards a more grateful heart. It has helped me see the gratitude in any situation. Is it hard to do this all the time? Yes, of course; I’m only human (with three kids!) But the amount of therapy I’ve experienced has helped me implement this practice into my daily life. I believe this will always be a work in progress, but “practice makes progress” not perfection. 

Most importantly, PPD led me to Catholicism. I haven’t shared with many people the story of my “Awakening”, but it happened during my stay in the hospital. The priest who married my husband and me, visited and performed the sacrament of “Anointing of the Sick” (something most people receive on their death bed). It was in that moment that I felt The Holy Spirit envelop me with His love and say, “It’s okay. I am here. I will never leave you.” It is bringing me to tears just writing these words and revisiting that precious moment. I used to repeatedly ask myself, “Why me?” Why did I *get* PPD? But going through what I did was suppose to happen to me. It was GOD’S WILL, and I believe that with my whole heart.

Even though life is seriously crazy, demanding, messy, and chaotic with an elementary school-aged child, preschooler, and infant at home, I’m much happier and confident with who I am NOW, than I ever was before. 

And I have Postpartum Depression to thank for that.

loyally (& always learning),
katie

31 in 31

On December 20th, I turn 31. Here are my “Life Resolutions” for my thirty-first year:


1. Watch less TV

2. Rekindle an old friendship

3. Leave the kids behind and “get away” with my husband

4. Read literature at least four days a week

5. Fail and be okay with it 

6. Go to confession

7. Learn Mindfulness and practice solitude

8. Say “yes” more to my kids

9. Say “yes” more to my husband

10. Adopt a “do it now” mentality, instead of leaving it for later and letting “things” pile up

11. Purge often. Whether it be stuff, ideas, or toxic relationships

12. Re-learn how to do a handstand. And hold it!

13. Let my hair grow long again

14. Get a piece of writing published

15. Go to therapy

16. Move forward with my children’s book

17. Yell less.

18. Pray the Rosary once a week

19. Treat other people the way I want to be treated

20. Be more active outside

21. Step out of my comfort zone more often

22. Stop comparing myself to others

23. Create and stick to a budget

24. Take advantage of sight-seeing on the West Coast

25. Make more art

26. “Unplug” one day each month

27. Take a class and learn something new

28. Hit “snooze” less

29. Smile and acknowledge strangers

30. Be more informed about current events

31. Love myself unconditionally. No excuses

loyally,
katie

What Mom {Really} Wants This Christmas

Wondering what that special Boss Lady of your family REALLY wants for Christmas this year? It’s real simple:



1. To pee in peace.

2. To roam the aisles of Target, Home Goods, & TJ Maxx. Alone. With no budget.

3. To not have to put ONE.MORE.KID. in his carseat. 

4. A clean kitchen. Or better yet–a personal maid!

5. A massage. Preferably at a spa. Under a cabana on a tropical island.

6. To not have to wipe any butts.

7. To sit in Starbucks alone. Drinking a (gasp!) HOT coffee, whilst reading a book not about parenting.

8. To not have to make any decisions.

9. A gourmet chef. (Who specializes in chocolatey treats)

10. A silent night.

Please, Santa? I’ve been a good girl all year. (Except for those times I yelled at my kids…)

Clear, Smooth, & Moisturized

I often get asked what my daily face regimen is like so I thought I’d write a little post about it. I am nearly obsessed with keeping my face as clear, smooth, and moisturized as possible. It’s a pet peeve of mine for anyone to touch my face. And while the thought of wrinkles does pester in the back of my mind like any other 30-something-year-old, I am more concerned about sun damage, cleanliness, and whether or not a product contains harmful toxins and chemicals. 


*Please note, this is not a sponsored post. (But wouldn’t that have been nice?!)

A product I have used for a few years now is the Makeup Removal Cloth by Norwex.  I refuse to use anything else, as this cloth does not contain soap or other harsh cleansers. Since using this cloth, my face does not break out. You just wet the cloth and wipe your face. I swear to you it removes even eyeliner and mascara. Then, just wash the cloth in your washing machine as often as you want (I do it every week) and reuse! Incredible, right?

(I even had a random bout of eczema on my hand, but after using the Body Cloth for three days it disappeared and never returned!)

Next, I use a toner. Honestly, I have been skipping this step for the past few years because I haven’t found a toner I like, as most of them leave my skin feeling filmy. That was until I was recently introduced to Modere’s toner. Why use a toner? Because it helps remove any traces of dirt or grim your regular makeup remover may have missed. I believe it’s a vital part of skin care.

But what’s best about it is that I’m not using harsh chemicals on my face. I know this is true because Modere is an EWG Verified Member. EWG (Environmental Working Group) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that “empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment”. To be “verified” the products must score in the “green” zone, they cannot contain any ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns, they must disclose all ingredients used on the label, they must follow the European Union’s labeling requirements/guidelines, among other standards.

Basically, they use all their smartness to do the research, and people like me get to reap the benefits. It takes the guesswork out of knowing which products are good or bad for me. I downloaded the app onto my phone and while I’m shopping I can scan almost anything to see how it scores by their standard. I used to research products I brought into my home and it can be so daunting and confusing! Now, I just look it up on EWG.

I am currently still using Rodan and Field’s Hydration Serum, night cream, and eye cream, and I like it, but I’d love to try Modere’s Dual Action Eye Gel and Wrinkle Guard next!
For years I have been using TRESemme shampoo and conditioner, but a hair stylist said it was leaving my hair with a waxy film. I gave Modere’s hair products a try, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I was actually thoroughly impressed and surprised with how great my hair felt immediately after showering, and also after styling: smooth and silky, without a waxy or greasy feeling! I was gifted a Body Bar and can tell you I’m just as equally satisfied. It has a very gentle exfoliant and my skin is so smooth; I rarely use lotion after showering. 

Two other products I own are the Hand Wash and Fresh Space (air freshening spray). I like using them in my home because they don’t contain controversial chemicals!

However, my MOST FAVORITE product I use every single day is Modere’s Antioxidant Gel. I cannot rave about it enough, actually. The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is wipe my face with Norwex’s Makeup Removal Cloth, then apply the Antioxidant Gel. From the moment I put it on my face for the first time, I fell in love! It was like running a silk scarf across my face. I kid you not.

Some other products I hope to try soon are Modere’s Skin Veil, and Body Butter. I bet my kids would like the Body Butter because it has a sweet fragrance of caramel, cotton candy, and sugary fig. Yum!

Oh! I almost forgot! I use Modere’s toothpaste, too. The first time I tried it I thought, “I don’t know about this–it doesn’t seem strong enough.” But I don’t have any complaints. I actually accidentally used Crest the other day and thought it was way too sweet tasting! I’m sticking with Modere. 

To top off my daily routine, I always floss! 😉

So there you have it. A pretty simple routine, I’d say.

And just in case anyone is interested in the Modere products I mentioned above, you can use my Referral Code: 597875 and receive $10 off your first purchase. 

I’d love to hear what your routine is like, and what products you love!

loyally,
katie

Thank you, New Bern

It’s been nearly five months since we uprooted my little family of five from the picturesque small-town of New Bern, North Carolina to sunny Southern California. And while I have never loved a place more climatically perfect, I have been feeling awfully nostalgic about the people I had to leave behind. The truth is, I could never put into words just how magical these people were to me, but I do have some words of gratitude to share:

Thank you for that time you babysat my kids so I could unpack my house.

Thank you for that time you came over for “Pizza, PJs, & Puffy Eyes” when our husbands deployed.

Thank you for that time we exchanged numbers for a play date.

Thank you for that time you drove over just to dispose of a dead bird on my porch because I. Just. Couldn’t. Deal.

Thank you for letting me borrow your husband (on more than one occasion) to hang picture frames and change light bulbs.

Thank you for that time you convinced me to join MOPS.

Thank you for all the dinners. And wine. And coffee. And chocolate.

Thank you for that time you drove me to the ER and watched my kids when I sliced my finger open.

Thank you for that time you let me cry and prayed over me when I missed my husband over Christmas.

Thank you for that time you stood by my side when I was Baptized.

Thank you for all the after-church family sushi dates.

Thank you for that time you helped me get through kindergarten.

Thank you for all the carpool line texts.

Thank you for all the Snapchats to brighten my day.

Thank you for that time you threw me a baby shower.

Thank you for that time you took my kids so I could nap.

Thank you for that time you took care of my kids while I had another baby.

Thank you for that time you helped me organize and prep my house to move.

Thank you for all the times you loved on my kids like they were your own.

Thank you for ALL. THE. TIMES. you told me we’d be friends no matter the distance…

// // //

loyally,
katie