Summer Sanity: Grocery Adventuring

Hi friends! If you’re just now joining us, this is my third installment of the Summer Sanity series. If you want a list of ideas of things to do with your kiddos, Pinterest is full of long lists; most of which overwhelm me mostly because I can’t see how that idea would really mesh with me, my kids, our schedule, and what’s accessible to us. Hence this series!

I’m not seeking to give you a summer check list here. My goal is to give you an IDEA that you run away with. I talked about chores in my first post, which maybe inspired you to start a new daily routine with your kids of picking toys up before dinner. Or maybe you went all out with a sticker chart and end of the month pizza party when your kid filled up his chart. I didn’t say to do that- but maybe the idea of introducing chores to your kids sparked another idea in you that works for YALL. That’s the goal here: to light matches and stoke fires.

I remember once reading one of the above mentioned checklists when my first born was still an infant, and we were in the throws of nap-strikes mid-summer. I got to the suggestion of “visit a farmer’s market” and rolled my eyes.

“Yeah right. In the summer? By myself? In the heat? What if my baby blows her diaper out inside the Moby wrap while I’m out there where there is no restroom let alone a changing table? Puh-lease. No.”

And I closed that window like it was hot and opted for playing in the baby pool on our deck instead.

However, visiting a market is actually my third summer sanity suggestion, and if you live in the thick Southern heat like me, you’ll appreciate where my suggestion differs from the stereotypical outdoor farmer’s market setting.

My suggestion: visit a grocery store (ideally one with AC) that you don’t usually go to. Maybe one that you NEVER go to, but you’ve been to before, so you know where the bathrooms are (necessary if you’re going to be out and about with your toddler).

AND, have one item that you need to purchase there that is not from the produce section.

A gallon of milk.

A box of pasta noodles.

A loaf of bread.

Load your kiddos however suits you best, in a cart, in your baby wrap, on their leash (no judgement), and begin to explore. Walk through the produce section, which is normally near the entrance, first. If you remember that you could really use a head of lettuce, let your toddler help choose one. Walk up and down the aisles and talk about what you see with your kids, making your way into the neighboring section, and eventually to wherever that item is that you do actually need. But, have fun along the way. Linger where you can. If they’ve got cheese samples set out, let your kids enjoy one. If the baker is chatty, let your kids answer his questions and practice good manners / conversational skills.

My kids have loved our special grocery adventures. We usually use online grocery pick up, so they rarely go into the grocery store, and when they do, it’s always the same one that’s closest to our home. So, on those special occasions when we “pop into” a new grocery store, everything is really different to them. It’s like you can see the synapses forming between the neurons as their eyes take in new sights and their noses new smells. Meanwhile, the motions of going through a grocery market are still familiar and safe.

I remember when I was a little girl the rare occasions when my mom would take us to this GIANT grocery store that was a bit of a drive from our house. It was sort of the Whole Foods of our area, only twice as big as any Whole Foods I’ve ever been in. I never did anything different than what I normally did when we would go there, just walk next to my mom while she pushed the cart and did the shopping, but the experience was far from usual: the huge fish laid out on piles of ice, the lobsters swimming in tanks, the rows and rows of fresh fruits, including tropical fruits that I didn’t recognize, every single kind of nut, each in a giant see through container that seemed to reach the ceiling, ALL of the cheeses…

In every way it was a productive field trip: mom got whatever groceries she needed, and our five senses were engaged.

In essence, that is exactly what my suggestion to you is: take a productive field trip to a grocery store you rarely frequent.

As you know if you follow me on Insta, we’ve been out of town for awhile, and yesterday my kids were in a funk from being out of their routine and home and schedule, so we went to Trader Joe’s in the morning (their very first visit since we don’t have one in Arkansas). They had the best time just seeing things that were packaged and displayed differently, walking around, and getting little samples of lemonade. I had a couple things I knew I wanted to get, which honestly I probably could have gotten at the Publix just down the street. Even though the Trader Joe’s was much further away, I knew the experience would be different than what my kids are used to, so we opted for the little adventure over convenience. And everyone was glad we did.

I’ve got more summer sanity suggestions coming your way, so stay tuned.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Summer Sanity: Kids and “Chores”

Welcome to the first post in my Summer Sanity Series. My hope is that these posts help you get out of ruts with your kids this summer. I know sometimes all I need is an idea, not necessarily a plan, to work with. What works for one family, or what even worked for the families my husband and I grew up in, isn’t going to necessarily work for mine, but that doesn’t mean the whole idea has to be dismissed. So, take my ideas in this series as just that, ideas.

Question: What is the one thing most kids have during the summer that they don’t have during the school year? Answer: More time on their hands. Many a parent is faced with the question, “How do I fill all this time????” Hence, the reason for this series, and I have startling news… We don’t have to fill all the time with outings and activities and vacations and playdates. Summer is a great opportunity to take advantage of that extra time by instilling some good habits into our kids. Cue, chores.

Now I’ve heard many, many a parent say, “Let kids be kids!” That’s cute, and has merit, when it comes to imagining they’re riding a flying unicorn across the ocean wearing a tutu and a superhero mask, but that doesn’t mean all they should do is play. Play is important, do not misread this. But so is responsibility. I believe if you want to launch responsible adults into society one day, you need to first raise responsible kids. Chores are a fantastic way to get started.

“But, Lindz, my kid is literally two years old. Aren’t chores extreme at this point?”

A chore chart with stickers is definitely a bit much for a two year old. And chores should always be developmentally appropriate.

So, let’s get practical. What can a toddler do? And how should you frame it?

Again, you’re going to need to determine what’s appropriate for YOUR kid, but mine have started helping out around the house with these chores at age 2…

  1. Picking up toys and putting them away (invest in bins, chests, and baskets for toys that your kid can easily access).
  2. Putting their dirty clothes into the laundry hamper.
  3. Cleaning up small spills with a towel or picking up food that’s thrown during meal/snack time.
  4. Walking around with a hand vacuum to help vacuum while you use the big vacuum.
  5. Putting sorted laundry away, like towels. (We have a drawer for washcloths in the kids’ bathroom that they can easily reach, and we have a drawer for kitchen towels in our kitchen. It’s accessible so even our two year old can get a towel whenever he needs one, AND he can put clean towels away when it’s laundry sorting time.)
  6. Bringing you used cups / plates / bowls from the table when meals are over. (I also have my kids carry their sippy cups and shoes out of the car when we get home.)
  7. Pushing the start button on the washer / dryer / and dishwasher. (Side note to parents of older kids… If your child can operate a smartphone, they can operate a dishwasher. If your child is tall enough to load/unload the washing machine, your child is old enough to be doing their own laundry.)

My three year old does these chores in addition to what the two year old does…

  1. Unloading safe items from the dishwasher. (She doesn’t unload anything that has to be put into an upper cabinet, is very heavy like my glass mixing bowl, or is sharp, like a vegetable peeler.)
  2. Sorting socks.
  3. Putting her laundry away. (We have all of her clothes, aside from dresses and jackets which are hung, in drawers that she can open and close on her own. So, she usually puts all of those clothes away by herself when we’re folding laundry.)
  4. Wiping the table down after meals. (My three year old LOVES this job. She loves using my H2O at Home chiffonettes to clean, so this is play for her.)
  5. Drying pots / pans with a dish towel.

We also don’t call any of the above listed activities “chores.” It’s just stuff we do and helping out with it is just being a part of the family team. Everyone pitches in.

My husband does a great job of leading by example on this “team approach” as well, so when dinner is over, EVERYONE clears the table together. When it’s time to pick up toys before bath time, EVERYONE picks up toys. We also frequently call ourselves a team. In fact, we’re TEAM WARFORD. And we give each other high fives when we finish something together.

Summer is a great time to get your kids in the habit of helping out around the house. Make it fun. Turn on music and sing together while you sort and put away clothes (there was music playing when Little Miss was picking up those playing card in the above picture, hence the silly, happy face). If your kids are older, they may really enjoy a chore chart and incentives for completing it. (Suggestion: No video games today until you finish your chores.) You may want to include daily chores and weekly chores depending on how old they are. Or shoot, you may even have one big summer chore or project that you want completed before they go back to school, like tackling a closet or the garage or painting something. ; )

Remember what I said at the beginning of this post, take these ideas as IDEAS. This is your little spring board. Spring off of it and do what works for you and your family. But, when it comes to “chores” and helping out around the house, let me leave you with this…

Do not deprive your children of the opportunity to contribute to your family by helping out around the house. The sense of accomplishment and responsibility that comes with tackling simple, and not so simple, chores positively develops your child’s self-esteem. Begin empowering them as soon as you can. Why not start this summer?

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Travel Diaries: San Antonio Re-cap

Pardon the water spots on the mirror.

Hey friends! So, summer showed up! (insert laughing emoji) This dress was my momiform last summer, and I wasn’t disappointed at all when I found it while pulling out all of our summer clothes last week before we took a long weekend trip to San Antonio.

We had the sweetest time there visiting with our family and celebrating my great-grandmother who turned 100 this past Sunday.

We decided to try a couple new things this trip; one being we stayed at a VRBO instead of hotel. My parents generously rented a house for them, our little crew, and my two siblings to stay in (so 6 adults total + 2 toddlers) just around the corner from my grandparents’ (where all of the festivities would be). David and I are completely sold on using VRBO or Air BNB for long weekends going forward- no more hotels. Having a fenced in back yard to stick the kids in was such a blessing (for all affected parties) after our 9 hour car ride. Plus we didn’t have to worry about kids waking up at all hours of the night or coming back to the hotel for naps right when house keeping was in the middle of changing bed sheets.

We also explored the San Antonio Aquarium, which was something none of us had ever done before. It was a great little spot for toddlers since they have so many hands-on exhibits. I would highly recommend it IF you have an hour that you need to fill, and you don’t really want to be outside. I was able to get a Groupon for our tickets, which significantly reduced the price, so check them out before you buy tickets, and don’t plan on spending a whole day there (it only takes 1-2 hours to experience everything) or go on a Friday like we did (aka field trip day aka lots of little crowds).

The kids have talked about the exhibits with the birds and alpacas since we got home as well as a fiesty little tortoise who almost crawled out of his exhibit.

But what’s been really special is all the talking they’ve done about their cousins and family members who they got to spend time with while we were at my great-grandma’s birthday party. My brother (pictured above) mentioned how special, and rare, it was to have a day where everyone (except for two family members who were down with a stomach bug) could come together and genuinely enjoy each others company for an entire day. Not to mention how rare it is to celebrate someone becoming 100 years old!

On our drive home, I kept thinking about his comment. The truth is family gatherings with toddlers are a little overwhelming for us right now. We enjoy seeing family and being with them, but we’re never able to 100% focus on a conversation or even stay the whole time. We usually have to skip out for a bit for naps and most places aren’t 100% toddler proof. (Am I the only one who is terrified someone is going to give my two year old a grape while I’m not looking?) And you’re going to have toddler meltdowns at some point on a trip, so odds are one could very well go down right smack dab in the middle of the family gathering.

So, I wanted to encourage the other mamas (and dads) who know the feeling. I know you’re out there, because many of my friends fall into our boat too. “Is it really even worth it?” is a question I hear posed a lot when it comes to bringing toddlers to social gatherings.

We’re super privileged to have family who GETS IT. Aunts and uncles and cousins who help, grandparents who say when we have to leave early, “It’s ok! Go. Take care of your family.” But that still doesn’t remove all the overwhelmingness that manages to creep in before and during the gathering.

My dad encouraged me a couple months ago to tackle social gatherings (and trips in general) with a man-to-man offensive strategy. I take one kid; David takes another. Sometimes, we have to switch, and sometimes we have to tag another family member to cover for us for a minute. But, we’re still on the same team with the same goal. We usually remind each other what the goal is too before we walk into the gathering. (e.g. We’re here to celebrate Mammaw.) It helps me stay focused and not get so overwhelmed, AND it helps limit directing our frustrations towards each other.

We’re not perfect parents. We don’t have this parenting thing down pat, but this strategy (along with respectful communication) did help a lot at my great-grandma’s birthday party, and we plan to use it from now on while we’re in this stage of life with littles who need so much of our attention.

Some social situations aren’t going to be conducive with toddlers. They’re just not, and it’s 100% ok to skip out. But other things, like great-grandma’s 100th birthday party, are non-negotiable. We’re going to be there no matter what, and I’m grateful for a new tool in the toolbox to limit my anxiety while we’re there. That way, when it’s over, my kids aren’t the only one with fond memories of the occasion.

Do you have a strategy you implement in large social gatherings with your little kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay


ThirdLove Review

This is kind of weird writing a post like this, on a blog like this, but here’s the thing… my heart for this place when I started out on this Ave&Jay journey was to encourage and reach women in whatever stage of life they’re in. And no matter how old or young, a woman’s body image almost always needs some encouragement.

The other day my husband snapped a pic of me making a green tea latte, and when I looked at the pictures, I realized how bad off my body image situation was. I looked at the pictures he’d taken and immediately deleted all of them. There’s more than a dozen extra pounds on me right now, my abs are no where near as flat as they should be, and my thighs are making the thought of white pants after Easter unappealing. But, when I looked at that picture what actually stood out first to me was the situation I had my girls in: another sports bra. A cheap one. It was offering some support, yes, but that was the only positive thing going for it, and it didn’t make up for all the bad it was doing for my appearance.

I made a comment to my mom shortly thereafter about how I only had one “real bra,” which I had been measured for and purchased in my first trimester of pregnancy with my now 3.5 year old. So since then I’d carried to full-term and nursed, for at least a 1yr each, two babies. My body was a yo-yo: pregnant (gain 50lbs), nurse for a year (loose 50 lbs), pregnant (gain 50 lbs), nurse for a year (loose 30 lbs), and here we are almost a year after THAT.

My mother, learning of my situation, insisted, as only a mother can, that I go and buy myself a new bra.

But how? But when? But where would I go with two toddlers in toe??? To be measured by someone who probably doesn’t even know what they’re doing? To spend MORE MONEY on something??? … No. Not going to happen.

Cue ThirdLove. I’d filled out their questionnaire 9 months ago, but since I rarely ever wore the one real bra I had, I didn’t really know how to answer the questions. So I just guessed and assumed the best answer. I knew when the results came that I definitely wasn’t the size they suggested. So, I closed my laptop and made do.

This time around I was prepared with that old bra in hand and answered honestly. No guessing. No, “well, if I answer this way then…” Nope. Just straight up answers. When the results came in, I knew they were right.

I ordered the style of bra ThirdLove suggested for me in the size they suggested, and when the box came in the mail, I looked like a school girl on Christmas morning getting her first pair of pierced earrings.

When I put that bra on, I didn’t want to take it off! It fit better than any other bra I’d ever put on in my entire life. I put a t-shirt on over it and smiled BIG. I looked MUCH better than I had in that picture my hubby had taken. I immediately went to my t-shirt drawer that houses all the old bras in it, dug around for them, and threw them out. Then I ordered another style on the “you might like” list in a different color.

It came in, but after a day of trying to break it in, it still didn’t feel right. I couldn’t believe it when that evening a ThirdLove stylist texted me to see how I was liking my purchases. A few texts back and forth, she had a free exchange all set up for me and a pre-paid return label in my email’s inbox. Y’all, that’s service!!

I’m in the skincare/glamour business, and I’ve seen the power a positive body image gives a woman when she finally finds a foundation that matches or a skincare line that clears up her acne. Well, the same is true for a well-fitting, form-flattering bra!

As I started gushing to a few of my girlfriends about my new discovery with ThirdLove, I found out I wasn’t alone. Almost every other woman I talked to was living in one or two “regular,” ill-fitting bras or mostly poorly supportive sports bras.

So, that’s why I’m sharing my discovery here on a blog that’s about transparent, faith-filled living in every season.

Transparent: Uh, if you don’t know me that well, I was appropriately given a the gag award of “The Nun” during my sorority days. I am the epitome of modest. Showing you pictures of bras I purchased is nearly making me hyperventilate.

Faith-filled: No. But, I will use this section to say, our identity should not be placed in our body image. Our joy should not come from what we look like. Those two things are in and from Jesus. Identity and joy are different than finding yourself being frustrated with not being able to find a comfortable bra that does what your boobs need it to do. So, don’t read this post the wrong way. If you have a great-fitting comfortable bra that you can wear under whatever outfit it is you’d like to wear to church on Sunday, out to dinner Saturday night, all day at work during the week, and while you walk the dog, congratulations! Most of us don’t.

Every Season: Absolutely. No matter what season of life a woman is in, she’s balancing it all: every relationship from marriage to motherhood to best friends to coworkers to family members to her Maker, jobs (she’s most likely got multiple sources of income), finances and budgets (do you know how much time it takes to coupon?), some semblance of self-care, physical fitness (heart disease is real y’all; get your cardio in), etc. Every woman can use every bit of encouragement to take the few minutes it took me with ThirdLove to not only get myself into a comfortable bra, but one that does what it should, and helps me feel better about my appearance on top of that.

So, if you’re in the “I need a new bra” camp, Hi, you’re not alone. Go check these people out. I’m fairly confident they’ll help you find the best one for you.

PS They donate bras to homeless women so they can have this basic necessity met too. Seriously, check ’em out. They’re pretty cool.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Her name is Shame, part 2

If you missed part 1, you can catch up HERE.

And now, part 2. If you’re a Christian reading this, and you choose to continue reading, you may want to do what my dear friend Beth Hollingshead says, “Take your feelings and put ’em in your purse and zip it up real tight.”

The truth is Christians say the worst things to people with depression. And I know because I’ve said them.

I will never forget one day standing in the driveway with a loved one of mine. No one knew she was struggling with depression, and I was the one to witness the first signs of it, there that afternoon. I saw a person who was strong, in every kind of way, a leader in her church, a woman who loved Jesus and served and knew him. And, I, in my naivety said, “It’s going to be ok. You know God’s got it.” And that’s when she began to tear up. A person I’d never once seen get emotional, was about to start crying right in front of me.

Years later, the same kinds of words were spoken over me, and although they were meant to be encouraging, they only made me feel even more foregone.

I’ve explained depression to others as the feeling of drowning- that’s how it is for me. So, in my dark season, I felt like a buoy in an ocean. I knew I wouldn’t sink because I was a buoy, but I also knew I was in a storm, and it had been storming for a long time, and the waves had yet to cease crashing over me. When people make comments to a Christian who is in a place like this, it feels like an enormous weight is pressing down on you and pushes you, the buoy, under the water. It’s a physical struggle to force yourself back up, and when you do get back up, it’s still storming.

Common comments in regards to postpartum depression are…

“Have you tried praying about it?”

“Maybe you should trying joining a small group?”

“Children are a blessing from the Lord. Think about how many women would do anything to have what you have.”

One day I turned on our television to watch an HGTV show and finally eat my lunch while my kids napped, and the TV was turned onto God TV. Yes, for those of you who do not know, there is a channel called God TV. And yes, we try to always leave it on God TV so that way when I turn the TV on to queue up a recorded episode of Daniel Tiger, there aren’t half-dressed women stroking a bare chested soccer player in a cologne commercial on the big screen in front of them. Fragrance commercials drive me batty. But, I digress…

I turned on the TV and was hitting all the buttons on my remote to find one of my recorded HGTV shows, and while I was navigating to it, a female speaker was talking in front of a congregation. I never caught her name, and I’m sure she’s a very nice person, and I’m sure she didn’t mean for what she said to shame anyone, but when she said what she said, my buoy was plunged 20 feet under water.

Basically, what she said was that she believed our society would be a lot less medicated if we were living with the joy the Holy Spirit fills us with.

So what I heard was, “This journey of postpartum depression I’m walking through is my fault. I did something wrong or I am doing something wrong in my relationship with Christ, because obviously, because I take anti-depressant medication, I’m not filled with that joy she’s talking about- I’m filled with depression.”

Christians, please understand something, it is possible to be filled with the Holy Spirit and have depression at the same time. I have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit working through me to do SUPER NATURAL things. He is in me. There are men and women I know, personally, who walk with Jesus, who spend daily time in the Word with Him, who serve Him in numerous ways, who too were struck with this, severely.

So, when you make comments like those above, even though you mean for them to be encouraging, they often bring shame upon the person you’re speaking to.

Are your feelings still in your purse? Put them back if you just took them out.

Shame is sneaky. The Enemy uses shame to bind. So, it’s no surprise to see how the Enemy of course would use the words that [often] well-intentioned, caring Believers offer to their friends and family when they see how they are hurting. HOPE is being extended, but the Enemy translates it to Shame.

Again, I’ve been that Christian who has said something well-intentioned, something that was TRUE, but it was still the wrong thing to say to a person with depression.

So, “What do you say?” the Christians are wondering, because Christians, it’s true… God is in control, of course we should pray about it; we should pray about everything. Yes, a small group is a great idea, but you know what, you can’t always join one right when you need to. And many church’s small group schedules take breaks, so what are they going to do when it’s the middle of summer and you tell them to go join a small group? And for the love of EVERYTHING, do not tell a woman who has postpartum depression that children are a blessing from the Lord and that other women would do anything to have what she has. Yes, this is true true true, but believe me when I say it will offer her absolutely no encouragement- all she will feel is shame.

So, “What do you say?”

I’m not a licensed counselor or therapist. So, all I’m going to share here are the statements that helped me…

“It’s going to be ok. It’s going to get better. You’re not alone in this.”

“You are not alone. In fact, _________ dealt with this too. I’m sure she’d love to talk with you if you wanted to.”

“What can I do to help? You’re not alone in this.”

Those statements loose Shame’s grip.

I fear that there are so many Christian women sitting in their houses, sobbing on the floor, feeling like they’re 20 feet under water, who are only hearing the Shame statements from the other Christians in their life. People who love these women, who love Jesus, and of course would never, ever want to make that woman feel worse! Yet, I fear this is happening far more than anyone realizes. Because I was that woman. And I am forever grateful for the Christians who said the right things to me- because there were Christians who said the wrong things too. But, the Christians who said the right things, including, in my case, going to talk to my doctor, God used to pull me up to the surface of the water. To give me air. To give me strength to stay afloat.

Shame has lost her grip on me. So, sweet sister, who read this whole thing that’s walking through depression right now, I’ve been there too. You’re not alone in this. It’s going to be ok, and it’s going to get better.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

Kristina: An Empath’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Yes… We are here again. The Holidays… (said in my best Eeyore voice) With Christmas quickly approaching, so is the anxiety for your friendly neighborhood empath. What is this ’empath’ you speak of? Well friend, let me break it down for you before we dive in to my own personal survival techniques.

Most of the time, people consider empaths to have this unnatural, almost paranormal, “sixth sense” that allows them to sense and physically feel the emotions around them. For me, this category also includes your introverts, quiet folk, peacekeepers, shy ones, and the Meyers-Briggs INFJs, so this is really for anyone who falls under those labels. We simply have more empathy in our souls than most, and that makes us painfully aware of our surroundings. In other words, you will not find us throwing elbows at your local big box store for a cheap television on Black Friday. I shudder at the thought.

So, that sounds pretty harsh, right? The one time of year when emotions are running at their highest, a little family drama is inevitable, and we are destined to feel every single eye-roll at the depths of our soul. Never fear, my friends. We will survive, and here’s a few tips to keep your tinsel from getting tangled.

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1. Avoid guilt-tripping yourself.

Let’s just start off with a big one… Say it with me friends, “I cannot please everyone!” I am from a family with several divorces and remarriages. I have never seen this as a hinderance, but more of, “I just have more people to love me!” And it’s true, but the problem is that I had to teach myself that it is not possible to attend every single family gathering. It is not your fault that time travel hasn’t been invented yet…probably. Do your best to focus on the gathering you have chosen. There’s no use in feeling guilty the entire time you’re at one party because you will likely subconsciously distance yourself from the people you chose to be with. That’s no fun for anyone!

2. Book, but don’t overbook.

Going along with the last tip, you really do need to schedule your holidays to avoid the anxiety that goes along with being pulled from all directions. Decide. Make it known. Stick to it! If you volunteer to bring or make something, plan ahead of time and choose something simple. My husband and I planned the menu for our Thanksgiving dinner a week ahead of time. We ordered our groceries via Walmart Grocery Pick-up* and had them loaded into our car by an employee the Sunday before. It was truly a life saver!

3. Master the art of smalltalk.

Total cringe. Being an empath has made me so incredibly aware of things like awkwardness, mistakes, embarrassment, silence, tension… Trust me. If it’s uncomfortable, I’ll feel it. You really have two options when it comes to smalltalk when you’re not good at it and your BFF isn’t available. One, stick to the most extroverted people in the room. While the conversation can be a little overwhelming, you won’t have to do much talking. Just listen and be present. Now, if for some reason the extroverted people are engaged in a conversation or activity you don’t want to be a part of and you’re stuck with awkward, quiet cousin Bob, remember that there’s a good chance he feels the same way you do. Instead of focusing on how YOU feel, try making it your goal to make Bob feel more comfortable. Ask questions. People love to talk about their hobbies. Find out what they are and become genuinely interested in learning more. Even if something might not sound cool to you, it might mean the world to cousin Bob and this is the quickest way to give people the opportunity to open up. If cousin Bob’s quietness isn’t wavering, it’s ok embrace it in silence. Somehow our society has decided that silence is awkward. Personally, I am a firm believer that can be beautiful too. It all depends on your perception!

4. Don’t be afraid to step away for a moment.

I am the QUEEN of sneaking off for a moment at holiday gatherings. My head will often become a jumbled mess, and I can’t even speak if I don’t take a breather from a crowd. I have learned over the years that this is totally fine because it’s what my mental health requires. While the family is playing a crazy party game that sounds like pure torture to your quiet soul, go grab a slice of Mema’s semi-famous coconut creme pie, bundle up if it’s cold, and head to the porch for a few moments. Take a walk. Lock yourself in the bathroom if you have to (guilty), but one way or another, give yourself a few moments of peace. Your brain will thank you later.

5. Do something for YOU!

If you don’t take away anything else from this post, please consider this most… People will tell you the holidays are about family right? While I do agree, I also believe that the holidays are also about love, appreciation, and peace. You deserve all of these things, even if it’s coming from yourself. For real… Treat yourself! Have a favorite menu item that you decided not to make because you’re afraid no one else likes it? So what?! Make it anyway. You might be surprised at who might like it, and remember that even if it is a bust with your friends and family, you get to take home all the leftovers! Feel as though you have nothing to wear? Find a new-to-you outfit. Even if you don’t feel like you have the money to purchase something brand new, check out your local thrift stores for a deal, or ask a friend if you can borrow something fun! Still dreading gathering because you know you’ll be drained afterwards? Set aside some time to do an activity you love that very same day, even it means you need to leave a little early.

Friends, if you’ve paid attention, you’ve probably noticed that there’s really one common trait amongst all my tips. Focus on controlling your thoughts and actions instead of focusing on how you feel. Emotions are a wonderful thing, but sometimes they can get the best of us. Especially for those of us who not only feel our own feelings, but the feelings of others as well. The holidays are absolutely the most emotional time of the year, and our environment can truly be overwhelming. I hope that I was able to give you a few tips to help you survive the chaos, but if not, please don’t be afraid to open up to a friend about your concerns. Remember, you deserve love, appreciation, and peace, and I hope you are able to not only survive, but thrive this holiday season!

xoxo, 

Kristina

*Note: This post is not sponsored but by clicking “Walmart Grocery Pick-Up” in the text above, my friends and family can save $10 on their first pick-up order of $50 or more (pre-tax)! Walmart does all the in-store shopping. It’s so easy! You place your order online, pull up to a specially marked parking spot after scheduling a time for pick-up, and an associate will load the groceries your vehicle! How awesome is that?!

Kindness

I bought this shirt as an impulse buy one day while looking for a daddy-shark t-shirt for my husband (inside family joke). I’m not sure why this burgundy v-neck was included in my search results, but there it was on my screen displaying back to me a phrase I say over and over again to our kids every day, “Be kind.”

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It’s kind of baffling to me how easy it is to be kind, and yet I see this phrase plastered as a reminder everywhere I look these days- on t-shirts, on social media newsfeeds, on hand-painted signs at craft and decor stores. But why do we need the reminder when it’s so easy to be kind?

Sadly, I think it’s because so many people are not kind. One time I joined a public group on Facebook for moms who use a specific kind of baby wearing carrier thing. The group’s purpose was described as a resource for people who use that baby carrier- a place where you could post questions, including pictures of yourself with it on, and your baby in it, for tips on how to adjust all the straps the right way so you’d be wearing it correctly. Well, I quickly understood why a facebook support group existed for this baby carrier, because it was incredibly confusing to get on right. So after my husband and I watched a few videos on YouTube and still hadn’t figured it out, I posted a selfie with me wearing it with my son in it along with a caption that went something like this, “I know I don’t have this on right, but I can’t figure it out. Can someone please advise?”

The comments almost brought me to tears; they were so mean. I couldn’t believe people would respond that way to a person asking for help, especially in a place where those questions were encouraged. Shoot, the entire purpose for the group was for women like me to post exactly that kind of question/picture.

It was a wake up call. It took me a couple hours after I’d deleted the post and left the group to realize what I was experiencing wasn’t out of the ordinary. It’s comments like the ones made about my selfie that warrant the plastering of “be kind” everywhere.

But still, I just kept thinking to myself, “It just isn’t hard to be kind.”

And when it comes to our words, sometimes being kind is just being quiet.

Sometimes it’s hard to be quiet. And social media lets us shout anything through our fingertips with a captive audience 24 hours a day, so “sharing” and “transparency” are constantly encouraged if you’re connected at all to that world.

Other times it’s hard to find the right words. Especially when you don’t agree with someone, or they’ve offended you in some way. However, there is a way to disagree and confront another person in a kind and respectful way. If kindness and respect are not what are bubbling up from inside of you, you may want to wait to use words in that moment. (Something I’ve definitely had to work on at times.)

It’s really easy to be kind to others, but I fear it just isn’t our nature. I have a little song I sing with the kids that my mom made up that we apply a fruit of the spirit to when we sing it depending on which fruit applies best during that situation. Our top three are kindness, patience, and self control.

Kindness, kindess

Jesus gives us kindness.

Kindness, kindness,

Jesus gives us kindness

Through the Holy Spirit.

When I sing this with the kids, it diffuses whatever situation we’re currently finding ourselves in. (I find singing when I get mad or they’re mad is SO helpful!) It also reinforces which choice they should be making, so in regards to kindness, it would be whatever the kind choice is in that situation. And, most importantly, it reminds me how badly we need the Holy Spirit to work in our hearts and refine that sin-nature we all have into character that reflects Jesus.

If you’re currently finding yourself in a place where kindness is not being shown to you, I just want you you to know that I prayed for you before I published this post. I know how much that hurts when someone isn’t kind to you, whether it’s through social media or directly to your face or behind your back. Remember that there is Someone who wants kindness for you in this broken, self-centered world. Keep giving it, living it, and letting the Holy Spirit grow it in you. Hugging you.

Until next time,

❤ Lindsay

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