What I Learned This Summer

I was dreading the summer. I love my children, but the thought of being home with them 24/7 did not sound appealing. In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it sounded like straight-up torture. Weeks leading up to school getting out, I took some time to ponder “A Plan”. I thought, The only way I’m going to get through the summer is if I get these kids to behave better.

Just a few months ago, I felt out of control as a parent. I was yelling at my kids way more than I wanted to and I felt completely and utterly depleted by the end of every day. I was losing my ever-loving mind and I could barely hold a conversation with my husband when he got home from work because I was D O N E. I knew I showered my kids with an exorbitant (and sometimes embarrassing) amount of love, and I knew I was saying at least some of the “right” things, but I was constantly nagging and yelling at them to get their act together. I felt like a failure of a mom because I couldn’t get them to do what I wanted them to do without yelling. While I was consistent about following through with consequences, I was left feeling exhausted by all the back-and-forth banter and arguing:

Me: “That’s it! Time out. Go to your room.”

Kid: “But, I’ll be good now. I promise.”

Me: “It’s too late. If you would have made a better choice the first time, you wouldn’t have a Time Out.”

Kid: But! *whines, throws something against the wall, cries, whines, screams, cries*

Me: Stop whining and go to your room. Go!”

Kid: *more whining*

Me: I SAID NOW!! NOW GO!!!” *carries Kid upstairs*

Kid: *slams door, screams*

Me: *cries tears of exhaustion and disappointment*

Repeat everyday, multiple times a day. Does this sound familiar to anyone else?

One day I had enough! I vowed to use the summer to change my Big Kids’ behavior. I thought that if they learned to behave better then I wouldn’t have to yell so much.

I confided in (and cried to) a friend about my struggles. She shared with me she just finished reading a book and was implementing a new discipline technique. It was supposed to lead to calmer parenting. Through a lot of prayer and realizing what I was doing wasn’t working for our family, I figured I’d give the book a try. Reading the reviews made me excited and hopeful for the future: “I highly recommend this book to any parent who is spending more time yelling at or nagging… It’s such a relief to not feel like I’m constantly yelling at someone!” Yes! Ugh! The nagging!

After devouring the book in two days, I sat the kids down and explained things were going to be different and here’s what’s going to happen. They seemed receptive and accepting. The first few days went off without a hitch. A couple tantrums and Time Outs from The Mid Kid, but zero yelling or nagging on my part. Then a week passed and I thought, Wow–I haven’t yelled OR nagged at my kids in a week! Then two weeks passed, then a month. I can’t believe it, I told my husband.

When people would ask me how my summer was going, I surprised myself by saying, “Actually, it’s been quite pleasant! The girls have only had one week of camp each–so I thought we’d be going crazy by now–but they’ve been so well-behaved!”

I was shocked. I actually have enough energy at the end of the day to read an entire chapter of Harry Potter with them, enough energy to have a substantial conversation with my husband, and enough “space” in my heart to just breathe and be.

For six out of the eight weeks of summer thus far, I have not yelled at my kids ONE TIME. Yes, you read that correctly.

Flash forward to Week 7 and…. Yes, in all honesty, there’s been some yelling (but no nagging). I chalk it up to the fact that my husband has been working 15-hour days, six days a week and we are melting away because we have NO air conditioning in our Southern California home. Then the baby got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease so that was absolute madness. Oh, and he ate dog shit. Literally. That was fun… There has been more TV-watching these last two weeks than there was the entire summer put together. But that’s The End of Summer, right? It’s eating me up alive. (Who hasn’t It eaten up?!) I don’t think there’s any book that could save a parent from The End of Summer…

My point is, I was dreading summer because I thought I wasn’t going to be able to handle the chaos. I didn’t want to spend the entire summer yelling at my kids; I wanted to actually enjoy them and have fun being their mom. But I was looking at it all the wrong way. I was focused on changing their behavior. I set out trying to transform my kids, but instead it was me who was transformed.

I learned to regulate my behavior and reactions; because yelling and nagging my children doesn’t work. It doesn’t leave anyone feeling good. Being controlled, quiet and calm is way more effective. I learned that I set the tone in our household; if I yell, my kids are going to yell, too. Our summer wasn’t a happy one because we went on extravagant excursions and getaways (we didn’t); it was happy because I was a calmer and more patient parent.



#CampKindfulness Ideas

As promised, here’s a list of “Acts of Kindness.” I could create a whole list, but I love this one from “Coffee Cups and Crayons” so I am sharing it instead. This one is *geared* towards kids, but really it’s for to anyone, young or old!

Remember, #CampKindfulness is not about doing E V E R Y T H I N G on the list, or doing it perfectly… or even every single day. It’s about finding moments to be intentional with your kindness, thinking about how you (and your kids) can serve and do kind things for others throughout your day.

100 Acts of Kindness for Kids

New to #CampKindfulness and wondering what it is? Start here.

What are some ideas you’re excited to try this summer?


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



“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.


* * *

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!




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…

// // //


Life Lately… in Bullet Points… With Pictures

* Tomorrow is my little kiddies’ dance recital! I’m super excited for them. They’re the cutest bunch of three & four year-olds ever and I can’t wait to see them on The Big Stage in their sparkly pink Tu-tu’s.

* Speaking of Tu-tu’s, Emmy is obsessed with {my childhood book} All Tu-Tu’s Should Be Pink. We pretty much have to read it every night, or else I hear an incessant “tu-tu, tu-tu, tu-tu!!”

* Oh did I mention I have to dance tomorrow? Yep. For the teacher number. It’ll be my first time reeaally dancing since sophomore year of college…. more than six years ago! eeep!!

* My hubby’s boards are next T h u r s d a y ! ! I can’t believe he only has one more year of med school before our send address will read, “Dr. and Mrs.” weird.

* Little Miss Em has gotten herself a little attitude here lately. Where ever did she get it, baffles me? 

{okay, okay... she’s a mini-me…} 

* When you ask Emmy “Who do you love?” 95% of the time she’ll say “Mommy,” but I love it even more when she says, “My Daddy” <3

 {smitten over this pic, with our nephew peeking out}

 * Got out of my car to snap this… Who ever did this is flippin’ awesome in my book.

 * Apple.Cinnamon.Spice Belgium Waffles. (sub 1 cup water for applesauce + 1/8 ground cinnamon + 1/8 ground nutmeg) The.Best.Ever.

 * My motto… & art work

* I may or may not be slightly obsessed with anchors here lately… Navy wife, much? {again, my art work}

 * Found a new favorite drink: “Margorilla”… Frozen Margarita + Orange Sherbert = Amazingness

 * Got to cuddle with this most precious little love, Pippa. She made my uterus jump for joy.

* Had a colonoscopy on Wednesday. {TMI?} That was fun. No, really. BEST. SLEEP. EVER!!! Not gonna lie, it was kind of a mother’s dream. The ‘best sleep’ part–not the scope up my a…

any way…

* B and I will be celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary in less than two weeks! & by celebrating, I mean watching him study for The Boards.

* Waking up by or before 6am every day, has changed my life. For reals.

* Indy turned 3 last Friday, but was on my naughty list since he nipped at Emmy. Granted, she stuck her hand in his face when he was eating… but still! From now on the dog’s food bowl goes away while Emmy is awake. {Learned my lesson}

* Emmy is doing so!much!better! in the Kids’ Zone at the gym. I haven’t been called out of Pilates in a while 😉

* I found an old journal from when I was ten years-old, where I had made a list of future baby girl and boy names {puhleease, you know you did it, too} & guess what name was on both lists… Blake! Coincidence? I think not!

* We’ve lived in our (rental) house for over a year now, and I still haven’t hung up all the picture frames.

* I gave myself a hair trim cut… saved $40. bazzzinga!

* I’ve already picked (and started planning) the theme for Emmy’s 2nd birthday. Hint: It’s one of her favorite books. Hint Hint: It’s on my Pinterest

* My life is complete now that So You Think You Can Dance is back on.


So what’s been going on in your life lately??!



Be Strong, Be Strengthened, Strengthen Each Other

“A strong woman works out to keep her body in shape…
a woman of strength joins other women to keep her soul in shape…
A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything…
a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear…
A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her…
a woman of strength gives the best of her to everyone…
A strong woman makes mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
a woman of strength learns from life’s mistakes to create a stronger tomorrow…
A strong woman walks sure footedly…
a woman of strength knows her community will catch her when she falls…
A strong woman wears the look of confidence on her face…
a woman of strength wears dignity and poise…
A strong woman has faith that she is strong enough for the journey…
a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey that she will become strong…
Women are charged to be strong…
women of strength are charged to strengthen each other…”

adapted by Rabbi Rick Sherwin
from a selection by Ruth Carter-Bourdon

Acts of Kindness.

Via video monitor, I laughed to myself as I spied on watched Emmalyn hang her stuffed Mickey Mouse over the crib, as if she were reenacting Michael Jackson holding his newborn son, Blanket, over a balcony. After tempting Mickey’s fate, she laid down with her mousey friend, Eskimo-kissing his soft black nose. Awww, I thought to myself. I secretly watched my little one continue this *ritual* three more times, before finally nestling down.

It’s funny watching Emmy on the video monitor. She has no idea I’m doing it. I’ve caught her numerous times, sitting up, holding her Baby (Glow Worm), patting her back and saying: “Aww, hi baby, hi.” It makes my heart smile, witnessing such a sweet gesture from a young toddler. For all she knows, she’s completely by herself in her crib. She’s not trying to get my attention, or show off for anyone. She’s hugging and rocking her Baby out of the kindness of her own heart. 

It got me thinking about the acts of kindness others do. Or don’t do.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” {1 John 3:18}

It amazes me that people can stand idly by while a young mom (aka, me) is struggling to hold open a door for a stroller with a funky wheel, while simultaneously shushing a toddler fussing for Cheerios that a certain someone left in the car. Really, Katie? Really? Rookie mistake.

But I digress.

What kind of people don’t offer a lending hand? A hand that God gave them. To do good deeds. That means for others. It amazed me that a waiting room full of people didn’t flinch at the sight of a struggling Me. Four of which were already standing up. Two of which literally just walked in through the same door. Sheesh!

Do they not know that God is watching them on His own *video monitor*?  




for the first time, i’m participating in [just write] @ the extraordinary ordinary.

I’m Blank Because….

{FYI: This post was inspired by Ashley at Little Miss Momma.}
I’m weird because…
I break out into random dance.
I quote New Girl at least twice a week.
I love the smell of Emmy’s tootsies. 
I have an obsession with clearing out Emmy’s nose.
I love brushing my teeth.
My feet have to be covered when I sleep.
I don’t like Oreos.
I watch Secret Life of the American Teenager.
I have a specific way I have to sleep with my pillows.
I’m obsessed with my poodle pup.
I don’t mind getting shots or blood drawn.
If my hair is up, I have to have makeup on.
I’ve never eaten a Big Mac or Whopper. Never.
I’m a bad friend because…
I frequently forget to respond &/or hit ‘send’ to text messages.
I can’t commit to plans.
I sometimes use my daughter as an escape-route.
I’m a good friend because…
I pray for my friends everyday.
I would drop anything for them or their offspring.
I send random “I miss you” text messages.
I always lend a listening ear.
I send birthday cards.
I send ‘just because’ cards.
I hold their hair back when they’ve had one too many.
I’m sad because…
I don’t get to see people I love as often as I want.
I’ve lost touch with friends.
I threw out my high school journal.
I don’t always finish what I start.
We’ll be moving faaarr away from our family in less than a year.
I don’t take enough pictures/videos of my family.
I’m happy because…
God has blessed me!
Emmy’s hair is finally growing.
I get my yoga on.
My girl tells me she loves me.
I’m surrounded by people who care.
I see the greater good in things.
I’m a mommy.
We live close to both sets of parents.
I’m awesome because…
I’m ME.
I have a new-found outlook on life.
I go with the flow.
I’m a positive person.
I am capable of so much.
I’m excited for…
My little preschoolers’ dance recital next month.
Family vacation.
Black tea in the mornings.
‘Me’ time in the mornings.
Morning wake-ups with my little bambino.
Wednesdays’ back-to-back Pilates & yoga.
Couch cuddles with my hubby.
so what about you??