Writing

Pre-Kid Kait

At the beginning of this month I, like millions of others, set about making some resolutions. As I wrote down things I wanted to do more in general (or less in general) a picture started taking shape.

  • Write more often. Privately. Publicly. Getting it down on paper or screen.
  • Play the guitar more often (and learn to play the ukelele better).
  • Do yoga everyday (so far I’ve only had a few days where I did absolutely nothing…most days I at least do a few things to wake up or with the kids).
  • Continue to get my body into better shape (hey, 20 pounds lighter than last year–this is one resolution I’m just continuing to keep!) so I can keep up with these munchkins. And climb mountains. And rock climb. And kayak. And snorkel. And maybe try surfing again when we get to a beach this year.
  • Have more adventures. More camping. More exploring. More time outside.

The things I was wanting to do more of weren’t new things, per say. They were things I did more of before the advent of those smallish people in my life.

I love personality quizzes. Florence Littauer, Gary Smalley, Myers-Briggs, Enneagram, colors, gems…I love ’em all! What I like is when there’s a question you’re having a hard time deciding between, is that many of them suggest to think about what you were like as a child. (Hopefully) before you had to make any hard life choices or have any do-what-you-have-to-do-to-survive experiences.

As a kid I was down for adventures. Somehow I managed to talk my parents into letting me go to Florida and Venezuela as a 12 year old (had my 13th birthday there) for 5 weeks!

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This is the morning I left for Florida/Venezuela…my dad was thrilled

When I was 6 or 7 I read in a kids magazine that leopards were being hunted for their fur, so naturally I made a sign and sat in my driveway protesting the killing of leopards to whoever drove by…our cul-de-sac. I always had some new idea, some place I wanted to go…I read Into Thin Air when I was eleven and fantasized about climbing Everest. I realize now my childhood dream to be a missionary was really more about getting to travel than anything more noble.

I wrote. A lot. Stories, poems, thoughts, lists…before the commonplace of the computer screen I wrote on lined paper and stapled it together to make books. Getting something typed up was a laborious effort and I treasured the printed results–with wite-out and ball point pen markups over the type.

In high school and college I really got the travel bug with repeat trips to Romania, all over the UK, Ireland, Italy, and lots of US trips thrown in there. Throw in a week-long backpacking trek in the Grand Canyon, kayaking in Mexico, and learning to rock climb and subsequently practice yoga and there was no turning back.

In the crush of people outside Buckingham Palace during the Changing of the Guard

And if you followed along in 2008, I wrote Your Morning Cup. Little happenings to keep connected to family and friends, but also a journal in some sorts…sort of like this 😉

So in the past few years, I’ve found my primary personality trait–the red, choleric, lion, ruby, ENTP-A, however you want to classify it–has stayed the same. But removed from the things I love doing, that I feel are what make me ME, my secondary traits shifted from sanguine (blue, fun, otter, sapphire) to melancholy (green, planner, beaver, emerald). I had three kids in five years–I was/am in survival mode. We moved across the country, bought a house, started new jobs, started other new jobs, lost a job, started another new job. I’ve been homeschooling for two years full-time (4 years part-time). I run a business with a whole new group of lifelong friends. We started a Life Group. To say we’re busy is an understatement!

But as the months tick by…you know, where I’m not nursing every few hours, only one is in diapers full-time, Matt’s job is secure, and my business is beginning to take on a life of it’s own…I’m finding I might have some breathing room for the things I love. Littles now will get their own ukuleles if I pull out my guitar (rather than insist on playing mine). I can leave my laptop on the counter and write in spurts between snacks and potty help and playtime. They enjoy doing yoga with me, and we unroll 3 yoga mats on a regular basis to wake our bodies up or quiet them down before bed. They all really enjoy the child watch at our YMCA so I get to exercise AND shower (how awesome is that?). And now that we’re on the precipice of leaving bottles and cribs behind and naps are a bit more flexible, it’s getting that much easier to load up Big Brutus (as the girls have dubbed him) and explore.

There’s hope! Not that these little years have been bad by any means! Don’t misread that! They’ve just been hard. It’s hard to feel like the shower you take at 2 in the morning counts as “me time.” It’s maddening to hear the words “itsy bitsy spidah?!” repeated 11, 837 times. There’s a lot of estrogen in this house, and to a tomboy like me it’s a lot to process (there’s no crying in baseball!). Trying to find time to connect with my soulmate while not doing the some of the things that originally connected us (being in the great outdoors…love you Oklahoma but we’ve been incredibly spoiled by California and Washington…) has been a challenge (thank God we’re both foodies!). These have been beautiful, sweet, stretching years. But now we’re able to come up for a little air and reevaluate things.

And so I sat back and looked at my New Years Resolutions, and realized that–for a lot of it–I was aiming to get back to Pre-Kid Kait. Just modified. Pre-Kid Kait 2.0, or Post-Kid Kait who’s going to be more awesome than ever. Lately I’ve been re-taking a few personality tests and that sanguine, fun, otter trait is once again secondary. And I hope that whatever passions my kids exhibit now and in the near future–that I nurture those passions like my parents did with me. I still have the Life Magazine book titled “The Greatest Adventures of All Time” that my parents put in my stocking for Christmas in 2000, because to me it was validation that those instincts in me–to adventure, explore, seek out–were good. Were worth pursuing.

And so, in a roundabout way I guess this really is about my kids (isn’t everything?). That me reconnecting with the things that resonate with my core will help me encourage those passions I see budding in my kids. That they, like me, will be able to grow up secure in the knowledge that God placed certain desires in them, and I’m there to help them in any way I can. And because they will emulate what they see, I want them to see a woman who does what she loves–and (surprise!) she can do it as a mama if she wants. Those are New Years Resolutions worth pursuing.

My mom used to tell me, “If you want to be a ditch digger, I’ll buy you the best shovel.”

Here’s to using my shovel.

Adventures, Family culture

Zoo Day(s)

It’s times like this weekend I’m reminded how very blessed I am to be a mama to three such unique and wonderful girls.

Tatum is becoming more independent and adventurous. She used to worry about running to the mailbox while I stood at the open door watching her. Yesterday I asked her to grab the picnic blanket from the stroller while we were sitting in the elephant presentation area (I could see her the whole time and it wasn’t more than 25 feet away), but whereas before it would have taken a lot of reassurance that I could see her the whole time and it was ok, she chirped, “Sure!” and hopped down, ran to grab it, and came back waving at the zoo employee who was showing people to their seats. Sometimes I have to remind her I don’t need an additional parent, but then she’s a great help to me at the same time. She and Tatum play together a LOT, and she has a special place for Bennett–helping her out and trying to carry her around (she’s 30 pounds!) She’s learning so fast–reading things we haven’t even touched in phonics! She is THE big sister, and enjoys that role.

Kenna has become very much a mama’s girl the past couple of weeks. Maybe it’s a phase, because my once “jump first, think later” wild one now has a meltdown if I leave her sight. Heaven forbid I run an errand without her. That’s ok, I think this phase might be fleeting so I’ll take it. She is learning to play with Bennett, and it’s becoming more common to hear them squealing with laughter together. She is very much about HER space, though. HER shelves. HER bed. HER toys. I get it, it’s got to be hard to have a big sister who gets a loft bed and shelf far above the reaches of the baby, and here you have to put up with the meddling on the ground floor. She is ridiculously adorable. When I took her hair down from these buns she looked in the mirror and giggled, “Mama, my hair is wiggly!” It’s a good thing she’s so cute, so that when she calls from her bed at 11 pm that she has to go potty, and afterwards pipes “Pank you!” as she skips to bed your heart skips with her.

My Bennett Rae–Bennie Boo at the moment (her nicknames change a lot).  She is also going through an attached-to-mama-at-the-hip phase. This morning when Matt asked if she wanted eggs she said yes so he cooked them up, but when it came time to leave my lap to eat she wouldn’t have any of it. She loves to be sung “Bye-o Bye-o Baby” and if I don’t sing it she will–and pat me with her chubby little hands. She is obsessed with Roy and Peek (the cat) and pretty much any animal. She fell in love with a full page picture of a bison in a Backpacker magazine, and I accidentally said “buffalo” first and then corrected it to “bison.” Well, BUFF-a-whoa it is and she loves them. Today we got to see them up close and personal at the zoo, and I bought a hat with the outline of a bison on it…it’s now an ongoing war between me saying “bison” and Matt saying “buffalo” and so far he’s winning. Bennie is fiercely independent, want to do everything her sissies do, and is a world of toddler contradictions wrapped up in ridiculous cheeks and cuteness.

These girls, they are more challenging and stretching than I could have ever imagined. More exhausting and repeating (oh my gosh, the repeating) than I could have anticipated. But more fun and adorable than I know what to do with.

We headed to the zoo on the first warmer day all week–I’m all about there being no bad weather only bad clothing, but when it feels like it’s below zero we just don’t have the gear to play outside long in that. So all week we were only outside in short spurts and then headed inside to warm ourselves by the fire. So walking around outside for hours felt glorious.
We finally saw the elephant presentation, too! We’ve been coming to the zoo since Tatum was a baby and have never made it to one! I love elephants, and so do the girls…so imagine my surprise when they were far more interested in snack time and asking when we could walk through the big cat forest than actually watching the elephants 10 feet in front of them. After asking repeatedly “Anyone want to get a picture with the elephants?” I gave up and got one of myself, because I could have sat there and watched them all day!The Oklahoma Zoo (and Edmond in general) have a ton of bronze statues throughout, and the girls always love climbing on them if they’re not too hot. Tatum hopped right up on the goose but Kenna…well…she was a little fearful after I put her up there.

My middle girl also seems to be a bit sensitive to smells–note the nose holding? Yeah, she did that a lot. Here we’re just looking at a caracal–a type of cat–not exactly stinky monkeys.

Last stop was the children’s area petting zoo. Fun fact–the goats are all named after towns in Oklahoma! This is Dewey, and we learned he is a glory hog, like to be up on the bench, and if you sit down he thinks he’s a lap goat and will snuggle right on up to you! I didn’t quite catch it, but he and Tatum were definitely having a snuggle fest!

And of course my animal-lover Bennie was in heaven. She thinks every animal is like her Roy and she can just get in their face and love on them, lay on their side, and basically OWN them. Even our outside cat, Peek, lets her treat him like this…yeah we might have to work on that. Thankfully these goats and sheep were pretty used to crazy toddlers and took it in stride.

Matt got home that afternoon from a trip to Portland, and brought the girls a board game book–with dice attached! They played a few rounds together for a fun family night.

The next day we wanted to get outside as a family and debated where to go…but sorry for the newsflash but Oklahoma in January is…brown. Every park or lake we talked about going to just didn’t seem worth the trip…so we headed back to the zoo! I have to say, watching your kids get really excited about an animal is pretty darn fun. Bennett loved the owls, the house mouse, the weasel that was running around like he had a touch of OCD, and of course the bison (BUFF-a-whoa!).

Tatum and Kenna got an up close view of a rattlesnake who was checking them out….

He followed their fingers and they played a game to see who he would follow the most.

Note Kenna’s nose holding…

And we got to look at the fur of a black bear up close as he hibernated. Bennett refuses to look at the camera…

It was so nice to be outside in the warm sunshine and cool wind, and even though there was a toddler meltdown on the way home it was totally worth it.

We may not be traveling just yet, but we have made it a priority to have more family adventures… Even if that’s just a trip to the local zoo.

Wellness

Staying Well This Winter

I can’t take it y’all. Seeing so many people go down for the count this winter! It is brutal out there, but thankfully we’ve got this beautiful thing called the immune system that can help defend us from all the yuck!

I’ve spent the last 10 years on a journey trying to figure out my personal health, and find the healthiest ways to live for my family and I…and I thought I’d share a few of the main things with you over on my public Cultivating Abundant Life Facebook page. Click here to access the event–the main portion is the video but I’ve included some links, graphics, and my outline as well.

Here’s to a Winter of Wellness!

Adventures, Family culture

A Quiet Morning

My mom and grandma took all three girls to play today…and I’m sitting in a perfectly quiet house drinking a cup of coffee that is actually hot. Pinch me.

What do I start with?

Devotions which should normally take 15 minutes but usually stretch into 2 hours with all the interruptions and tears and “Mama–look-s” and three kids who suddenly act like they’re in the middle of the Sahara and if they don’t get a drink of water right NOW they’re liable to faint? Or do I tackle my desk–a standing desk I built and one of two places in the main living area Bennett can’t reach (yet) so everything gets dumped there? Or get some oily work done–sending samples to people I love, getting my January newsletter written (oops), or setting up a Boot Camp for people ready to make an income? Fold the 2 loads of laundry waiting? Shower?

The choices are overwhelming, so I read a chapter of The More of Less by Joshua Becker.

It’s a book on minimalism, but before you scoff at the idea of 3 kids having 3 toys and Matt and I pared down to a toothbrush and yoga mat, listen to his definition:

Minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we value and the removal of anything that distracts us from them.

I like that. I can do that. My definition of minimalism will differ from yours.

As I start this process of going through our home, I am figuring out what to get rid of now, what to get rid of once we sell our home (adios couch), what to put in storage, what to move to my parent’s house, and what to take on the road. That’s a lot of lists! And what feels like not a lot of time! The good news is, these are all self-imposed deadlines.

So I guess I’ll stop my rambling here and start where Becker suggests. Making a list of why I want to minimize our possessions, and what goals I want to accomplish. Drink a fresh cup of coffee. And tackle this desk. And probably shower. Good plan.

Do you practice a minimalist lifestyle? What resources have you found helpful?

Adventures, Family culture

Meet Brutus

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We would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family – Brutus. He’s a big guy who is key to our 2018 adventures – Road-tripping, trailer-hauling, off-roading… We are prepared for anything!

To get more specific, he’s a 2012 Ford Expedition EL 4WD with the Heavy Duty Tow Package…and we lucked out and it has a brand new engine in it with a warranty–woot woot! Honestly, I’m crushin’ on this car. If you knew me between 2003-2015 you knew I had a ’97 4Runner named Max that I loved. This feels like Max grew up…and doubled his cylinders! I’m not sure I can ever go back…

This month SOON we are planning on putting our house up for sale, moving in temporarily with my parents, and traveling the country teaching people how to live healthier lives with essential oils and looking for the next place for our Palmer Pack. Yep, 3 kids ages 6, 3, and at the moment 22 months old. Driving, working, homeschooling…I’m sure it’ll be a breeze, right? *insert heavy sarcasm*

After taking our camping trip in October, it was like Kenna came to the realization that all of the pictures and videos she sees of other places…are REAL places. A common phrase I hear is, “Mama, we go there?” Yep, baby, we’re going. This is her current bathroom reading material…

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So… Who wants us to visit their hometown?! (and yes we know we are crazy… We are OK with that 🤪)#PalmerPackAdventures 

Family culture, Parenting-thing, Uncategorized

Mamahood is…

Mamahood is knowing exactly how to hand your four-year-old a banana so she doesn’t see the tiny blemish.

Mamahood is not leaving your house all day except to check the mail but by the end of the day your feet hurt.

Mamahood is using your toddler’s bottle of milk from the fridge for cream in your coffee.


Mamahood is not being able to stop your toddler from going fishing in the dog bowl with her bath toys because you’re pumping and don’t want milk to get everywhere.

Mamahood is weighing 13 different contributing factors when your kid asks if they can play with play-doh. Factors include the distance between meals, their level of energy, their level of rascaliness (I’m sure that’s a word), how clean the house is, and whether or not you were planning on vacuuming the second time that day.

Mamahood is bouncing your baby until your biceps are sore praying they’ll nod off, and then missing their snuggles when they’re asleep. 


Mamahood is deciding what’s for dinner based on how much energy you have for cleanup.

Mamahood is throwing impromptu dance parties just because it’s Wednesday. 

Mamahood is perfecting your band-aid rule book. 

Mamahood is letting them play in the backyard paddling pool and deciding they are clean enough for bed.


Mamahood is wearing nine different shirts in a day when your baby is on a spit up spree.

Mamahood is having your eyes water every time your baby laughs because it’s so beautiful you can’t take it. 

Mamahood is eyeballing the bench at the gym trying to decide if it is wide enough to nap on. 

Mamahood is working so so hard to ensure enough boredom for them to be creative.

Mamahood is magic kisses and hugs that heal the hurt. 

Family culture, Parenting-thing

Shaping Our Family Culture 

Lately I’ve been listening to the audio book Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. In it, they talk about sitting down with your spouse and deciding what kind of family culture you want to have. Just like any goals in life, they advocate if you don’t set the goals for what you want your family to look like, ten years from now you may find yourself just trudging through and find you never did any of those things with your family you wanted to do.

So when Matt and I went on our date night a few weeks ago, we talked about it.

Clarkson and Mae write, “Plan what kind of family you want to be. Determine for yourself what you hope to be the outcome for your family. What legacies do you want to leave for your children?”

We talked about teaching our girls to love Jesus and be loving to everyone they meet, and have servant’s hearts. To show hospitality, and be dependable.

Adventure, and being outside are important to us. We want them to experience different places and ways people live and gorgeous scenery.

We want them to be immersed in culture–we want them to be well read, able to carry on intelligent conversation, love music, and value a wide range of art and aesthetics. We enjoy cooking and good food, and want them to appreciate a perfectly cooked steak well as a pbj.

We want to teach them to be comfortable and themselves in any situation–whether camping in the backwoods or hanging out with friends or dining at a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars or attending a Presidential inauguration.

We want our home and our family to be FUN, that our girls feel like home is the best place in the world.

We want them to value experience over possessions. To be lifelong learners. To be kind and generous.

These are a few of the things we talked about. Yes, you might be thinking well DUH, doesn’t everyone want that for their kids? and yes, maybe there are a lot of overlapping themes. But the point is we sat down, talked about it, wrote it down, and started to come up with action plans on how to incorporate each of these things into our family culture.

We’ve made it a point to try to sit down to dinner together–which is a lot easier now that Matt is done with his MBA! We try…but it isn’t always successful…

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This is Kenna giving me her rice noodles. And dropping them on the floor.

And this is Tatum making letters and shapes out of the noodles. I guess I should be happy she’s learning?

The girls started off sitting together on the bench. Then they fought over raisins and when Tatum tried to get off the bench she somehow fell over and all I saw were two feet flying in the air. Matt and I hadn’t even sat down yet when she was asking to be excused. Neither girl ate much, the baby was fussy, and Tatum was grumpy but we slogged through.

Last weekend we bought dollar water guns and a kiddie pool and had a water fight in the front yard, then washed the car while the baby slept. Fun definitely got checked that day!

On Saturday it was Oklahoma Free Fishing day where you didn’t need a fishing license, so Matt took Tatum to Lake Arcadia and they had a daddy daughter date learning to cast and reel. They spotted a beach that looked fun, so yesterday (Sunday) we loaded everyone up after nap, grabbed dinner and went to the lake. Kenna had quite the ensemble…

Matt was a very happy daddy…

This picture is a bit deceiving as when I went to nurse Bennett she had a complete meltdown for about 10 minutes…until I put her in the sling and she passed out! She spent most of her time in there with me while Matt wrangled the big girls.

We’ve been making a concentrated effort to develop our family culture. There’s been tears and bad attitudes and things that didn’t seem but be a success, but we’re committed to doing them.

So I thought I’d share our efforts to develop what “The Palmers” look like. This month, before it gets too hot, I’ve been pushing for an overnight camping trip. With three kids 4 and under? Crazy? Maybe. But Tatum did inform me yesterday, “I am an expert at peeing behind trees” so at least we have that going for us!

If you’re a mama, I highly recommend the book Desperate. I’ve been taking my time going through it…usually while grocery shopping at night after the girls are in bed or while walking around the track at the Y. If you’ve never tried Audible, your first book is free and if you give me your email I’m happy to send this one to you!

So I’m curious–what do you want your family to look like ten years from now?