Walking path

Best Life Lessons of 2017

There’s nothing I like more than embracing growth and looking back and thinking “man, I’m glad I have moved past that part of life”. I love how everything evolves when you stay open to learning.

Every step leads to the next, and I am grateful for all of the lessons of life. Instead of writing down resolutions this year, I want to look back on what was learned in 2017.

The first one is my favorite.

1. It’s Okay to Walk Away

It’s okay to walk away from good, or maybe even prestigious things. Doing so freed me up to make way for the great. Sometimes we get used to thinking of ourselves in a certain light or we get in a rhythm of things that make sense.

But sometimes those things are self-imposed distractions. We know we’ll get by being busy with something that fits, even though we know we could be doing something with a higher purpose.

Walking path

Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

I walked away from travel writing altogether and lightened my freelance writing workload considerably. I was over-committed and stressed out and distracted when I was with my family. The joy of the work I was doing was no longer there, so I stepped back.

My pocket book was lighter, but the quality of life shot up. I used some of the extra time to volunteer at my sons’ schools one day a week, and it made me so happy. It’s okay to walk away.

2. Taking Control of Your Health Matters

My health took a toll since I was working so much, and I knew my lazy diet had a big effect on my anxiety and down moods.

I made the time to take better care of myself. I prayed for will power and a taste for foods that come more naturally to the Earth and I did Whole30 in August. No exercise, just big changes in nutrition.

It was a challenge, but it made a huge difference. I lost weight, but the true victory is in what it did for my overall mindset, moods and confidence (without which, #3 would not have happened).

To date, I’m still eating a whole foods diet most of the time with a net weight loss of 16 pounds and down 2 sizes.

3. It’s Okay to Dream as a Parent

This year found me at Business Boutique again, the lady business conference in Nashville, TN.

I went last year with a vision to expand on writing, which I did. But this year I went with a new idea and pushed through to file for an official tax id and business name.

Moms can dream. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

In the thick of raising a young family I’m tempted to say “I’ll do this when the kids are grown, when we have more money, when when when…” But I want to get going now.

It feels slow as molasses some days, but by golly I feel alive when I dream and take the steps to get there. I am working with a business coach and slowly laying out the foundation, bit by bit. More on this soon!

4. You Should Teach What You Know

I have been through a lot in this life, we all have. And what I keep finding is that there is always someone else you can help with your hard-earned life experience.

The pains of my childhood gave me the drive to provide a functional and safe home for my kids to grow up in. Not a perfect household mind you, because that isn’t real. But one that is stable, efficient and carefree for a child to grow up in? That’s my bag, baby.

I learned so much through hard financial times. In those trials by fire, I learned about contentment, budgeting, mindful parenting and wanting to set my kids up to win at life through basic life skills.

There will be more on this in the very near future, so be sure and keep an eye on the RealHonestMom Facebook Page. (In the meantime, I’m available to work with people one-on-one in those areas on a consulting basis.)

5. It’s Okay to Be a Kid Again

Sometimes we get so busy being serious adults we forget to have fun. I can be a downright stick in the mud, but we splurged on front row Guns n Roses tickets on a school night and I danced and sang and for a few hours like it was 1990 all over again.

Axl Rose, Guns n Roses Concert in Nashville, TN

You know where you are??! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

Say what you will, but my inner teenager goes nuts for hair bands. I don’t care how old and round we all might get, GNR will always be my love language.

You’re in the jungle baby! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

I’m not sure what the exact mission was that night, but it was accomplished.

I also went indoor skydiving with my son in Pigeon Forge over the summer to liven things up a bit!

6. Nothing Beats Family and Ride-or-Die Friends

On a once-in-a-lifetime cheap round-trip plane ticket opportunity, I met one of my life’s dearest friends in Laughlin, NV for our December birthdays. (Laughlin is like mini Las Vegas with far less chaos and a retiree clientele. It was perfect.)

She gave me the surprise of my life when she revealed she flew my mom in to join us. Our moms have been old friends since before we were born and it was a blast of a time just being unapologetically us with old jokes and new memories.

Lifelong friends times two. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

And a few weeks later, I made the annual trek to KS with the fam and we and got to spend special time with our extended family for Christmas. I didn’t open my laptop once.

Giant UNO game playing cards

A bit of a handful. Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

Some favorite moments: playing Giant UNO and the gag gift exchange game for adults. I ended up with an awesome Christmas Vacation snow globe. (affiliate links)

Shitter's Full rv snow globe

Shitter’s Full! Photo: RealHonestMom Blog

7. You Have to Run Your Own Race

It’s so easy to get caught up in the comparison trap. I do it, we all do it. Despite the blessings right in front of our faces we always seem to find greener grass elsewhere.

The key is recognizing it and knowing when to wave the white flag. I started feeling competitive with others in my industry on top of being so busy, and it’s simply not worth the stress.

You run your own race, and you have the power to put your foot down and say “no more”.

8. Be Mindful of Your Environment

Mindset is hard enough without shouting voices and noise. It’s important to curate your environment and remove unhealthy messages or people. The Unfollow feature on Facebook has been helping us love people from afar since 2014. Use it.

Doing so does not make you a snowflake, it makes you smart and you will not miss the noise. There are a lot of distractions that take us away from what we want, so take care of yourself here.

♥♥♥

Stepping back and slowing down this year to truly see what was right in front of me paid off in droves. Not financially, but in quality of life. I have less in my pocket at the moment, but I’m more content than ever.

There are still things I want to achieve, but I got out of an unhealthy hamster wheel. I don’t regret stepping back in 2017 at all. Not one little bit.

I will step forward in 2018 with joy, impact and service leading the charge. Stay tuned!

Hanes Christmas Giveaway Dec 2017

Christmas is Here, Better Get Comfortable

I love working with companies that help me live a better life. Comfort is everything! This is a sponsored post with Hanes®.

Christmas Traditions

On Christmas Eve, my brother, sister and I would get dressed in our pajamas, slip on tennis shoes and load up into the car with our parents. We would all pick out a candy bar and a drink from the small town gas station for a special treat.

We would get all sugared up before bedtime, tune the radio to Christmas music and drive around town to see all of the Christmas decorations.

We laughed and enjoyed each other, and I’m sure my parents benefited from us being corralled in the car instead of running our usual figure 8’s all over the house. Our parents allowed a little more crazy in the car on these nights, and those nights were the best.

© Sensay

(Read more: The Magic of Pajamas and Christmas Lights)

I do the same thing with my kids now and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Christmas Morning

To me, there’s nothing better than sipping on hot coffee on the couch in a warm house with wrapping paper all over the floor and happy squealing kids… while adults get to work assembling toys and wrestling other treasures free from toy packaging.

Warm and cozy is my jam, so I make sure to have leisure clothes ready so I can relax and be myself while spending time with family when we’re home for the holidays in my small hometown.

Comfort is king at home and on the road, so I’m a Hanes® girl. Fat pants, big sweatshirts, leggings, workout socks, comfy shirts, you name it.

Hanes Christmas Giveaway Dec 2017

I’d love you give you the gift of comfort too. I’m teaming up with Hanes® again for a Christmas Comfort giveaway!

Hanes® Christmas Comfort Giveaway includes:

2 Favorite Hanes X-Temp Styles

$50 VISA Gift Card

◊◊◊

Enter the giveaway here and check out all of the comfortable selections from Hanes® for the whole family right now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends 12/20/17 at 11:59 EST.

We are heavy into the Christmas planning stage. Please remember to build in healthy breaks and self care. You’re worth it!

May the force be with us, may the coffee be strong, and may we all be stronger than the toy manufacturer’s packaging this year! 🙂

Cley nativity scene made my kids

The Greatest Christmas Decorations of All

We just put up our Christmas tree, and wow did it bring back some memories.

Our tree looks pretty, and I like pretty things to a degree. But what makes the tree beautiful are the things that really aren’t very pretty on their own.

But the memories they represent ensures that I proudly display them every year, and what sends love and gratitude bursting out of my chest.

My favorite part

I love spending time with my family putting up the tree and laying out our favorite items. But my favorite part of Christmas decorating is opening my box of keepsakes and gently unwrapping my homely little treasures from the tissue paper that cradles them in the box.

I always let out a quiet “awww” as I reveal each one.

My very favorite decorations aren’t very pretty, but they are priceless. They each represent the passage of time and different little memories.

These are a few of my favorite things

Like these salt dough hand print ornaments that I made with the kids when they were 6 and 1. I was so tired then, but I wanted to do something special with the kids.

salt dough handprint ornaments

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The little wooden toy soldier my oldest made in first grade.

wooden soldier ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The Baby’s First Christmas rattle ornament that my sister-in-law bought the year my oldest was born. Amen for the wooden keepsake box that keeps it safe every year.

baby's first christmas rattle ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

A clear glass ornament with sand and pretty shells that I bought on a weekend girls trip to California with my best friend a few years ago.

huntington beach christmas ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The big breakable Merry Christmas ornament my husband ran in and bought for me after I admired it in my little hometown flower shop before we were married. The lid broke one year and has been glued back together.

big ornament keepsake

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The “Jesus” wood slice ornament given to the members of my sweet mom’s group at church, so we would remember the reason for the season. And keep our eyes on the prize, if you will.

Jesus wood slice ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The sweet little angel ornament given to me by a sweet friend.

fabric angel ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

My little one’s hand print ornament from preschool.

hand print ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The popsicle stick picture frame that I made in school.

preschool ornament

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

The little nativity set my little one made at the preschool church nursery, flanked by two clay angels that I made when I was little.

Cley nativity scene made my kids

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

My mom kept the angels and this (I’ll go ahead and use the word) ugly Santa on a String that I made in kindergarten. Hey, I could write my name at least.

ugly santa on a string

Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

It’s been through a lot.

My mom kept and proudly displayed our homely school projects every year at Christmas. We used to groan when we would see them, but she has since passed them on to us as adults and they hold a lot of meaning to me now.

♥♥♥

The keepsakes generate that warm special feeling of Christmas. They sit in the storage box next to multiple strings of lights that may or may not work from year to year, and other glittery, shiny standby bulb ornaments.

Every time I open the box, I take a deep breath and choose to celebrate the growth, relationships and people the keepsakes represent. The ones who are still here, those that sadly aren’t, and the ships that have sailed. The decorations remind me of the important little things mixed into the big picture, and how life is so full of them. And how much they matter.

They aren’t perfect. But to me, that makes them the greatest Christmas decorations of all.

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A lumpy, mishapen patched up pie crust before baking

You Can Learn a Lot from an Ugly Pie Crust

“Can I help you with the pie mommy? Please?”

“I WANT TO HELP!!!!”

Two young boys bound into the kitchen on a Thanksgiving morning.

My first response was an internal sigh. It’s so much easier and faster if I just do it, especially when it comes to a finicky pie crust. But I thought, hey why not. It was the point of the morning where they start to tire of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and I like teaching them new things.

I made the pie crust the day before and it was chilling in the fridge so I laid it on the counter. They helped me measure the flour and cinnamon and they snacked on the apple slices and dipped their wet fingers in the sugar to sample.

Kids helping to bake a pie in the kitchen

My eager kitchen helpers. Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

Cooking with kids

It’s cooking with kids…but then again it’s cooking with kids, you know? A wise woman once told me to let kids make messes in the kitchen when they’re young, and though it goes against every fiber in my being sometimes, I oblige within reason. It does clean and they enjoy it.

We were all crop dusted with flour by the time I explained how we would divide the dough in half and make a top and bottom crust. They took turns sprinkling flour on the counter and rolling with the rolling pin.

They really enjoyed the process and laughed at the “argh!” style noise I made when I used too much pressure with the rolling pin and a part of the crust rolled off. The granulated sugar crunched underneath my shoes on the hardwood floor.

Even though I use a very forgiving and pliable pie crust recipe, this is our final product before oven time:

A lumpy, mishapen patched up pie crust before baking

Made with love. Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

Not my best work, and it required several patch jobs that they helped with, but they were so proud of the pie we made.

I of course threw in a comment about how this just goes to show that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover because it was going to taste AMAZING no matter what it looked like.

And it did. It really, truly did. It was the best pie I have ever had. Ever.

Lumpy, patched up baked pie crust

Baked with love. Photo: Audra Rogers, RealHonestMom Blog

You can learn a lot from an ugly pie crust

I think it’s so important to make sure kids know that mistakes are okay. It’s important to try new things, and maybe even expect that it won’t be perfect the first time. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning and growing.

It was baked with love, laughs, sweet memories and an honest effort, which is always welcome here.

I put a lot of effort into making a nice meal for the day, but in the end, the pie was the best part of all.

I spent sweet time teaching my sons how to make an apple pie with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the background, and Christmas music on the radio. I will always remember that, and I think they will too.

I was incredibly thankful for our little family Thanksgiving. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Thank you, ugly pie crust.

♥♥♥

Mom’s Dream

My 2 favorite passions: teaching kids basic life skills in the home and using my gifts of video and writing to explain things in a loving way.

I am going to combine the two to try something new in the new year. I am currently in the thick of creating the content to launch soon, and I’d love your support!

Even if you aren’t my target customer, you can help by spreading the word when the time comes.

I will still write on this blog, because it’s my first love that has saved me in countless ways.

I’ve had this idea burning in my soul for quite a while now, and it’s go time.

I am currently available on a consulting basis in the ways of the home in the meantime. I asked my sons to give me a few testimonials and they did!

You can see those, check my availability and schedule an appointment here. And stay tuned! ♥

children dressed in vintage costumes in the 1970's

Throwback to a Vintage Halloween

My mother is a saint. She gets texts like this from me on the regular, and she always delivers.

“Do you have that old picture of me in the library in my Woody Woodpecker costume?

-Oh my goodness, I don’t remember it. I can look in the trunk.

It might have been a newspaper clipping. It was in the story well in the library and I was sitting next to Michael Wayne.”

Michael’s last name isn’t Wayne but I knew if I said it like that she’d know right away I was talking about one of my all-time best childhood friends.

Seriously, how great were 70’s Halloween costumes?

They were total fire hazard suits and the molded plastic masks were sure to cut your face by the end of the night, but were they not the greatest? I enjoyed them in the 70’s and the 80’s.

children dressed in vintage costumes in the 1970's

Photo: L. Hudson and RealHonestMomBlog

I couldn’t wait to be Woody Woodpecker and my mom came through. Michael Wayne was the Hulk, I believe. (Some things never go out of style)

My mom is standing at the top of the picture (dark hair) holding my little sister, who is now 39 years old. I was hit with a wave of nostalgia as I saw this picture of the story well in the library where I spent a great deal of time as a kid. I remember the librarian reading stories and moving around characters on the felt board at the front of the room.

nostalgic halloween costumes

Photo: L. Hudson and RealHonestMomBlog

It also took me back to old school trick-or-treating in our small town.

It was back before safety was much of a priority, but it was the best.

Our parents would load us all up in the car (seat belts, schmeet belts), drop us off at the end of the street and we would run up and down the block with our cousins and friends searching out the good stuff.

vintage halloween costumes

We would run down the block with our masks flipped up on top of our heads just before ringing the doorbell. Then it was masks-down and a big, breathy “trick or treat!” in unison.

Then we would flip the masks back up on top of our heads and race to the next house, oblivious to the larger-than-life high school kids throwing eggs at each other at the town square and t.p.’ing houses and trees.

vintage woody woodpecker halloween costume

Photo: Ebay

Okay, well maybe not oblivious exactly, but we definitely had bigger priorities.

The weather mattered even less than the time on the clock, and we would stay out until we scoured every block and found every porch line shining bright.

We would get home and dump our bounties in close, yet territorial piles and count out the loot.

Mom would check for needles in the apples and popcorn balls. Not that it mattered, she would end up eating those herself because well, you know. Not at the top of the kid list, really.

I try to keep trick-or-treating with my own kids as close to what I got to experience growing up.

As much as you can today, anyway. We hit several streets full blast with breathy trick-or-treats. I walk closely with them, but I enjoy dressing up just as much as they do.

 

Some things never die.

Except fire hazard suits, thin plastic-molded masks, eggs and t.p.

Another 1970’s gem from the trunk (treasure chest):

A picture of my preschool class in 1979.

Photo: L. Hudson and RealHonestMomBlog

I’m on the upper right.

My mom loves to tell the story about how my grandma dressed me for school that day. The clothes were too small and if you look closely, my belly is hanging out the front of my shirt. Amen for pilgrim hats and a sweet friend in the middle row!

Not that it wouldn’t be awesome for me to see now. It’s still a classic memory.

Take. the. pictures.

Looking back on times like these ensure that I’m taking all of the pictures and videos I can of my kids now. One day I will be the mom at the top of the picture holding the baby that has long since grown up.

What are some of your favorite nostalgic Halloween memories?