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

North Carolina Goodbyes & California Vibes

So we did A Thing: We moved across the country…. to California! I can’t believe we did it, but we did. It wasn’t easy–that’s for sure; and it’s not over yet! It has been stressful, both physically and emotionally.


This adventure in our life has been Crazy with a capital C. There’s so much I want to say and yet, for weeks now, every time I try to sit down {‘try’ being the operative word because A) I own three needy little humans, and B) because I’m sleep deprived} I just can’t seem to put into words all of my emotions. Like the fact that I’ve been wanting to write a “love letter” of sorts to my friends in North Carolina, but I keep pressing the delete button because I don’t feel like my words emulate just how much they mean to me.

Moving with the military is bittersweet. Getting to live in different locations, climates, and houses is both fun and exciting, for many reasons. If we weren’t forced to purge our stuff every two years, I’m slightly afraid we’d be submitted to be on the TV show, Hoarders! The hardest part about moving every two years in having to leave behind some wonderful people. There’s no other way to say it, except for: “It sucks!” But I truly believe it is “better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.” I wouldn’t be the person I am today without every single one of my friends from past moves. And that helps ease the sting a bit…

Making new friends can be tough, so when you meet people you really connect with, it can be very difficult to leave them. But what’s even more devastating than leaving your own friends, is watching your kids leave their best friends.

There have been some rough days, watching my girls (especially Emmalyn) feel sad over leaving her friends. When she says things like, “I wish we didn’t have to keep moving houses. I wish we could just buy a house and stay with our family forever,” it breaks my heart! But she continues to show me just how strong and resilient she is, and it puts a smile on my face whenever she FaceTimes, SnapChats, or Marco Polos her friends.

I’m sure going to miss our quiet and quaint little Nicholas Sparks town, and all the people in it! But as Winnie the Pooh once said, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” That chubby little cubby is a wise one.

The logistics of sending your entire life across the country is quite tedious. It took months of preparation, starting with my aunt helping me organize and purge a lot of our stuff. I don’t know what I would have done without her help! I am 100% positive all of her hard work (and a dash of mine) is going to pay off WHEN we move in to our new house.

Oh, that’s right… we left North Carolina on May 22, and still haven’t moved in to our house. We have stayed in three different hotels and are now in a vacation rental condo (for another three weeks!!!) At least we can see the Pacific Ocean from our window…

Some days I feel like I’m losing my damn mind, y’all! One Friday, I went the entire day thinking it was Thursday. Now, people do this a lot of the time, but usually snap out of it within a few hours (or at least by the end of the day). Well, NOPE, not me. I woke up Saturday morning believing it was Friday. I looked over at my still sleeping husband and was worried his alarm didn’t go off for work. I asked him, “Do you have to go to work today?” and was elated when he answered, “No,” believing he had a surprise weekday off! Later that morning I got a phone call from the massage place asking if I wanted to reschedule since it was 10:05 and my appointment was for 10:00. I confidently said, “My massage is for tomorrow.” The lady on the phone apologized and said she would see me then. When I got off the phone Blake asked, “What about church?” I was all like, “What do you mean? Tomorrow is Saturday.” He said, “No it’s not. Today is Saturday.” Then I continued to argue with him over it. Seriously, folks, I am losing it!

Living out of one container of toys and books, and living off of ten outfits is difficult, to say the least. The girls have been fighting a lot more because they’re on top of one another 24/7, sharing every inch of this condo. Fortunately, Emmalyn will be going to musical theatre camp this week, giving the girls a break from one another. 

We have definitely made a lot of happy memories amidst the chaos, though. We’ve gone to the zoo, the beach, Balboa Park, lots of different playgrounds, hiking, outlet shopping, and swimming. We’ve also met some wonderfully kind families, welcoming us to this beautiful new town (and watching my kids so I can go to the grocery store in peace and pick up everything on my list because I can actually hear myself think!).

I joined the good ‘ole YMCA, and have taken Barre and Yoga, which has been super helpful for my psyche. Pinteresting paint colors and loft beds have also distracted me from being “homeless” this past month.

Knowing that “This Too Shall Pass”, helps me get through the OMG-I’m-Going-To-Sell-My-Kids-To-The-Circus moments.

Normalcy is right around the corner–I can feel it!

loyally,
katie

Moving In & Moving Forward

The last five weeks have been a total whirlwind! Let’s recap in bullet points, shall we?

  • We packed up our house, sent our stuff to storage, and said goodbye to Florida for the first time ever.
  • I drove by myself with both girls, across the state, only to have Emmalyn projectile vomit all over herself. Exorcist style. Yup. That was fun. Needless to say, we lost a very loyal car seat that day.
  • This mama traded in her beloved SUV for her dream car: A Minivan.
  • Note: The above car purchase was not due to the vomiting 😉
  • We vacationed in Hilton Head Island, and added an extra night because, well, we deserved it!
  • Because our house wasn’t ready yet, but The Hubs had to report to his next duty station, we parked ourselves in a little bungalow for three weeks. We lived out of two suitcases and a duffel bag of toys. Lord only knows how we did it! All I have to say is, thank goodness for Netflix!
  • Emmalyn went to Vacation Bible School for the first time and loved it. Surprisingly enough, the Catholic church camp dug back into their Old Testament roots and she learned about Judaism, much to my parents and my amusement.
  • Blake and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary! My in-laws happened to be in town so we actually got to go out to dinner sans kiddos.
  • We FINALLY got to move into our new house! Have you ever rented a home “sight unseen”? Welp, we just did! You can imagine our nerves the first time we set foot in our new place! But we quickly breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that God was with us, and we made the right decision.
  • We had quite a scare when we thought the movers lost an entire crate of our stuff, including our desktop computer with My Life on it! 
  • I signed Emmalyn up for Pre-Kindergarten. Holy goodness gracious! I can’t believe it!
  • Unpacking with two littles in quite interesting. And s l o w. And requires a lot of patience.
  • Thank goodness for an amazing sister-in-law, who will unpack your e n t i r e kitchen and you don’t have to worry about a thing. I seriously don’t know what I would have done without her! Oh, I know: I’d still be standing in the middle, wondering where all my shit goes.
  • Also, Military Wives are the bomb dot com. No joke. Those ladies step up and make you feel like you’re right at home. They take your kids and feed them while you unpack, and they pour you a glass of wine and tell you deployment will suck, but you’ll be all right.

…and breathe!

So what have I learned? 

I’ve learned that all you need is family by your side. I’ve learned that adventures are fun, but settling down is necessary, too. And I’ve learned that it’s actually quite possible to survive on two suitcases and one duffel bag of toys for a family of four. 

So why the eff am I unpacking a gazillion boxes?!?!!

loyally,
katie

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Life Lately

To say that life has been crazy around these parts lately, would be an understatement. So much has been happening, that I don’t even know where to begin.

No, I’m not pregnant.

But my baby did turn ONE YEAR OLD!

I cannot believe it. It’s silly to think that we may or may not have once been disappointed when we found out she was a girl. We had our hearts and hopes set on having a boy. But now? I cannot imagine life without her. Not! One! Single! Bit! Every piece of Adelaide was meant to be in our lives. It has been a blessing from God to watch her grow over the past year. And I cannot believe that we are still going strong on our one-boob nursing journey! It’s incredible to think that I have kept a small human alive with one single boob!

(Okay, I’ll change the subject…)

I have loved watching Emmalyn step up as Big Sister. Although, I must admit, it’s quite exhausting shouting, “Put her down!” and “Stop licking your sister!” ump-teen times a day!

At four-and-a-half, Emmalyn lives up to her “in-utero” nickname of Diva Muffin. That girl has more sass than Liberace had sequins! She keeps me on my toes–that’s for sure. But she’s also quite entertaining, with her endless imagination, and her love for making up songs and dances.

Probably the biggest news in our neck of the woods is that WE ARE MOVING! This Florida Girl is spreading her wings and seeing what else the great U.S. of A. has to offer! Blake and I have moved three times in our five years of marriage, but this is the first time either of us has moved out of Florida. I’m very excited, but tremendously sad to be leaving my friends here.

Blake and I have spent many nights pondering if we’re doing the right thing. It seriously breaks my heart, taking Emmy away from her sweet little friends. She has made some of the most amazing friendships at such a young age. But then I think about how some of my closest friends live in New York, Louisiana, and Florida. We may not see each other in person as often as we’d wish, but when we do, it’s like we never skipped a beat. And with the amazingly crazy invention of FaceTime, we’re only a click away.

Here’s to continuing our adventures!

loyally,
katie

Instagram: @katievanbrunt
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I Challenge You

ATTENTION: If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the latter statement. It applies to a couple different situations in my life.

The first one being: I like friends who challenge me to become a better person. I don’t want superficial friendships, where my conversations are merely floating on the surface. I want to sink deeper. I don’t want friends who only tell me things like, “That’s a cute outfit.” Sure, it’s nice to be complimented, and I’m not asking my friends to stop being sincere in that sense, but I want more.

If you are my friend, whether old or new, I want you to challenge me. I want you to help me be a better person. I love having conversations with people where I stop to say, “Wow! That’s so interesting… I never thought of it that way before… Thank you for teaching me that… Thank you for sharing your knowledge with me… What a gift…”

I have come to realize that sometimes I may come across as–I dunno–strong? (…overpowering, maybe??) in conversations, but that’s because I like to challenge my friends, too. Not in a Ichallengeyoutoadeathmatch sort of way, but in a I challenge you to be a better YOU sort of way.

(I’m sorry I’m not sorry.)

I’ve also come to realize that some people just aren’t ready to be challenged and make life changes; and try as you may, there’s just nothing you can do about it. Man, this really saddens me. When I see people slipping down a path that is dark and scary, I become anxious, and my passion rises.

I have been in a dark place. I know that you don’t initially think it’s a dark place, because you can only see one step in front of you. But then things start to unravel. And that’s when it’s harder to get out.

It’s like running in the mud. On the surface you see a shallow puddle and think, “This will be easy to cross. I don’t need any help.” But as soon as your feet hit the mud, you start sinking. You realize that it is a lot harder than you ever could have imagined, and you wish you would have come prepared. You wish you had a plan. You wish you had a support-system in place. You wish you had the right equipment and gear to help you through the tough spots.

Are you going through a rough time in your life? Do you want to know why things aren’t getting better? It’s because you are not making changes in your life. You’re only planning to get through a puddle, while you should be preparing for a mud run.

Yes, it is hard to make changes. There’s no doubt about that. But if you want to have a better quality of life, you have to take the first step. It’s scary. I know. I know... But I promise you it’s worth it. I cross my heart to you that it’s so worth it.

I challenge you to make the changes you need.

loyally,
katie

What is something you want to change in the near future? Do you know what changes you need to make to get there? Do you have a support system in place?

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Evolving into a Better Person

I recently asked myself: Am I evolving into a better person each day?

I hope so!

I try to learn from my mistakes and faults and to not make the same ones the following day. As a mother, there are many examples I could pull from. There are times when a phrase or remark slips out of my mouth at the speed of lightning in reaction to something Emmalyn does and I instantly regret it. For instance, just the other day she wouldn’t eat her lunch and in a sudden fit, knocked over a glass of milk, soaking my shirt and pants. Without even thinking for one second, I yelled, “Look at what you just did!” 

Immediately, I regretted my reaction and choice of words. Have you ever felt this way? It made me feel about as big as a dung beetle. I was ashamed of my choice of words, but there was no taking them back, so I just continued to clean up the mess, cursing myself all the while. Obviously the day went on as it normally does: a small tantrum here and there, with lots of smiles and giggles filling in the gaps of typical three year-old frustrations.

Then at the end of the day, before I closed my eyes for the night, I replayed the milk-spilling scenario over in my head. I cringed (and still do) at the person I witnessed myself being; but then, I re-envisioned the scenario with me reacting and responding in a way I could be proud of. Revisiting and re-visualizing the scene helped me prepare for future similar situations to occur. And I know three year-olds are notorious repeat-offenders so I will have plenty of opportunities to exercise my new reaction and response–one I will feel better and unashamed about.

Now I know I’m evolving into a better person!

loyally,
katie

So tell me, how are you evolving into a better person each day?

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Sleep is my Favorite

I love to sleep. There’s no question about that. The only thing I’m dreading about having a newborn in the house again is the lack of sleep I’ll be getting.
One thing I was so blessed with Emmalyn was that she was sleeping through the night at four months old. [Please don’t throw things at me!] I had it ingrained in my head that I needed to “sleep train” my baby to make our lives easier. Honestly, our personal version of “sleep training” Emmy really worked. For us, at least. I would put Emmy down to sleep while she was still awake, and to this day I still believe that was one of the best things we could have done. She’s always been such a good sleeper–walking to her crib/toddler bed and going to sleep on her own.
That is, until now. Or rather, a few months ago.
When we moved this past July, we had a couple of smooth weeks of sleep, where Emmy would crawl into her bed on her own after we read, sang, and said prayers. Then once new things started popping up in her life–like school & dance class, she started putting up a fight over going to bed.
& by “fight” I mean, kicking & screaming & hitting…
It was miserable.
For e v e r y o n e.
We tried a couple of different sleep training “styles” (if you will). 
The first we tried was to lay (or is it lie??) in bed with her for several nights…
…then sit on her bed for a few nights… 
…then sit on a chair in the middle of her room for the next several nights… 
…then on a chair outside her door. 
The point was to eventually not be in her room at all. We didn’t want to get in the habit of lying in bed with her because either the hubs or I would fall asleep, then wake up who-knows-when and miss half (if not all) of our evening together. Not to mention I always felt so groggy after falling asleep in her bed.

This really seemed like it would work, but alas, she just kept getting out of her bed. Some nights she would put up a fight, and others she would simply be a little Miss Chatty Cathy.

I swore I could get the whole “Super Nanny” technique to work for us. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s where you put the child to bed and say, “goodnight and I love you,” then, if & when the child gets out of bed, you don’t say a word, but put him/her back into bed. You may have to do this 20-200 times a night, but with each day it’s suppose to be less and less, until at last they don’t get out of bed at all. I’m telling you I tried this–and I was s o o o o patient and consistent (for well over a month!), but it just didn’t work for us. There are days when I’m still in denial over it not working for us. I was seriously such a firm believer that this was the way to go to get Emmalyn to sleep.
By the time Emmalyn would finally wear herself out and hit the hay, it would be after 10pm!! We would be at this whole bedtime torture thing for over two hours! Not okay.

When you know something isn’t working for your family, you have to take a step back and reevaluate the situation.
So what did we end up doing?

Well, through a lot of prayer & reading, I felt in my heart that it was okay to scratch the whole “sleep training” theory and just.be.mommy.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that Emmalyn is only three–although she talks like she’s seven, and often acts that old, too. Sometimes I just need to cut her a break and treat her like she’s three years-old.
Therefore, our current bedtime routine, starting around 6:30-7pm, is:
1. Bath, brush teeth, pajamas

2. Sit on rocking chair in family room with a dim light & “Relaxation” Pandora

3. Review our letter flash cards

4. Read three books

5. Turn out the lights, but keep the music on

6. Say our prayers

7. Sing lullabies

8. Rock her until she falls asleep
Typically, she will fall asleep within thirty minutes or less (around 8-8:30pm). On a “bad” night, which is pretty rare these days, it can take her closer to an hour. I make it clear to her from the beginning that she either has to rock with mommy or lie in bed (by herself). Of course there are days when she wants to get down and go back and forth between her bed and the rocking chair, but those days are getting fewer and farther between. No matter what though, I stay consistent and don’t let her walk all over me by changing the “rules” on me. This sometimes means being patient while she throws a few tears around until she gets the picture that mommy means business. 
One great piece of advice I got from a family member is to make sure Emmalyn is waking up at the same time every morning. On the two days she goes to school I wake her up around 6:45am, but if I were to let her sleep in on all the other days, she would stay in bed until 8:00am. [again, don’t throw things at me!] I’ll admit, I got spoiled with her sleeping in because it meant this momma could sleep in, too; and it’s been such a luxury to me while being pregnant. However, this inconsistent wake-up made for a really mixed-up bed time because one day she was tired enough to fall asleep at 8:00, but then the next she was nowhere near tired until closer to 10pm! Since waking her up at 6:45 every day (although not every Sunday), our bedtime routine has been so much smoother and more predictible–just how I like it! I also make sure to wake her up from her nap no later than 3:30pm, whether she falls asleep at 1:30 or 2:30. If she sleeps past 3:30, her bedtime is pushed back… causing wifey-hubby-time to be pushed back… no bueno
At first I battled with if this was the “right” way to go about getting her to sleep, since it seemed like we were heading in the opposite direction, but then I realized that this is what works for us. For our family.  I’m tired of reading the judgmental posts I see on Pinterest and mommy blogs that say: “This is what you MUST do to get your child to sleep!” What works for some may not work for another. I think about how my daughter will never be this little again; & one day she’s not going to want to cuddle with me anymore. [tear]

Even if I’ve had a super stressful and frustrating day, rocking my little girl brings me back to reality and puts me in a happy place. I hold her in peaceful silence, thanking God for my beautiful angel. And that’s all right.

loyally,

katie

So what’s your bedtime routine like for your little one(s)? Have you ever had to change your “original” plan and try something new? How did it work out?

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Emmalyn’s 1st Day of School!

“I can do anything.” –Madeline

That’s the mantra I went in with today as I dropped Emmalyn off at her first day of school. (so maybe we watched Madeline a bazillion three times yesterday while it was raining) I just can’t believe my little girl started school already! & I can’t believe I’m old enough to actually have a little girl starting school.

Granted, she’s only there for an hour and a half today–but still!

For this first week, the children only go for a limited amount of time to get them acclimated to the classroom. Next week, Emmy will go two days a week, for four and a half hours at a time.

Seriously, this whole time leading up to her going to school I’ve had My Brave Face on, and truly I believed it. But, y’all, when I drove away from her school this morning, it hit me!

Hard.

I cried painful sobs all the way home.

& it wasn’t even because she was crying, because she wasn’t.

I think the depth of the whole situation took me by surprise. My little girl is growing up. Sounds terribly cliche, I know… but it’s true. She baffles me everyday with her ever-growing conversations and stories, her kindness (we’ll leave out the part about her ever-growing temper), and her sense of wonder and curiosity.

You might wonder why, as a stay-at-home-mom I’d be sending my child to school? Why not soak up every.single.moment? Well, to be honest, we were getting bored with one another. It’s not like we didn’t go out and explore almost everyday (and with other kids) but I could tell that I wasn’t giving my daughter enough at home. She needed something else. 

And I’m okay with that. Not an ounce of guilt. 

She’s insanely curious and always getting into things. When we moved to our new town, we literally went “school shopping” until we found what we thought was the perfect fit for Emmalyn. This school focuses more on the child’s freedom to explore, discover, and select their own work. They empower independence through asking questions, puzzles, and focus on learning without having to be “spoon-fed” by the teacher. This is something we felt was important for Emmalyn based on her personality. 


This whole summer I’ve been extremely excited for her new adventure! Practically every day we talked about her “First Day of School”, and Emmy would always ask, “You’ll come with me?”

Well, umm… not exactly. I feared she would cry and protest on her first day considering how attached she is to me, but Nope! She was a champ! I was so proud to see her walk confidently into her classroom with her head held high. I think that’s the pivotal moment that sent me over the edge into Cry Town… Seeing my little love take on such a brave task.

So how did she do?!

She was super! Which bring me to my next Madeline mantra: “I’d rather be super everything than super nothing.” She came out of that classroom with the world at her fingertips. Smiling. Accomplished. Happy. Ready to do it again!

And Mommy was relieved! …and glad to have my baby back! 

& what made it all the more sweeter was having Daddy surprise us at pick-up. Icing on the cake to the Best First Day of School!

The first thing Emmalyn told us about her day was that she made new friends.

Can I get an Awwwww???

I’m so proud of my little love and can’t wait to see what she does next!

loyally,
katie 

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My Moving Tips.

So it’s been well over a month since we have moved, and if I had it all to do over there are a few things I would do differently!

#1 PACK TOILET PAPER

Self explanatory, don’t ‘ya think?? I actually had a box filled with essentials (toilet paper, wipes, etc., but didn’t know which box it was in!) Fortunately for us, the tenants before us left a couple of rolls behind. I texted her a “thank you” and she said she has moved enough times to learn her lesson!

#2 DRINK COFFEE

Life works so much better with a cup of coffee. Honestly, I don’t think of myself as a coffee drinker. Maybe once a month–if that–I would drive thru Starbucks for a Frap, but while we ate breakfast with my in-laws at their hotel, I figured I’d give it a go. Let me tell you, I was wayyyy more productive than I normally am, and it felt so good. The ONE morning I didn’t drink coffee, our landlord commented on how tired a looked. Coffee it is.

#3 BE ON THE SAME PAGE AS YOUR HUSBAND

Sooooo super important!! There were a few discrepancies that threw us for a curve ball… i.e., where furniture was going… where the TV remote was… & others that I have probably blocked from my mind. Next time, we will come together well in advance, and map out a plan!

#4 LET YOUR INNER OCD/TYPE A PERSONALITY OUT!

I’m a natural Type A girl, but I vowed to myself that I would go with the flow for this move. But this was not the time to be all loosey-goosey. My husband kept saying, “Why didn’t you make a list? I figured you would make a list. You always make lists.” & I was all like, “Because I was trying to be relaxed!” Lesson learned.

#5 HAVE A ‘DO NOT PACK’ BOX 

& pack it up in the car BEFORE the movers arrive. I had a DO NOT PACK box clearly labeled, but it still got packed in the moving truck. It had all of our important bank information/checks in it! Yipes! Fortunately, it was delivered with nothing missing. Thank goodness! On the day that the movers came, we were scrambling to grab stuff so they didn’t pack it up. These guys were fast, let me tell you!

They even packed Emmy’s “port-a-potty” with PEE IN IT! Yes! You read that right. Our sitter had taken Emmy to the park for a bit, then came back for lunch. She put the potty in the bathroom, and before she could even tell us it was in there, the movers had wrapped it and placed it in a box! I’m sure glad we found which box it was in otherwise it would have made for an interesting unpacking!

#6 HAVE A BABY & PUPPY SITTER

Thankfully my parents kept Indy out of our feet, and our sitter took Emmalyn out of the house while the movers packed us up. We couldn’t have had such a smooth move without my in-laws entertaining Emmalyn in our new city. They took her to the zoo, the beach, a museum. I got so much accomplished without her around. (No offense Emmy!) 

#7 HAVE YOUR MOTHER-IN-LAW UNPACK YOUR KITCHEN

This was amazing! A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I couldn’t be more grateful!

// // //
Having the Military set up our moving service was an absolute dream! They seriously spoiled us. I wouldn’t do it any other way!
loyally,
katie