I Am Amazing Because…

Wow, can you believe we are already into the second week of the new year?  Christmas seems like a distant memory and school is back in swing for many kids (mine included).  If you’re anything like me, you consider the new year a time for new beginnings.  A time to start doing something we want to or stop doing something we don’t want or like.  We make goals to change something about ourselves.  To improve.  We make plans to travel, visit family or friends or try something new.  While this is all fine and well, it can get kind of overwhelming if we let ourselves get too caught up in the ‘new year, new you’ slogan that seems to permeate this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong: I am definitely a goal-oriented person and I’ve made several goals for myself this year.  Maybe you’ve done the same thing.  But when was the last time you took a step back and thought about all the things you like about yourself?  The things you’re good at.  Accomplishments that might seem small to someone else but are huge for you.  I think sometimes I get so focused on making changes or improving myself that I forget about the things that make me special.  Everyone wants to be unique and loved for who they are, myself included.  And as I mentioned above, there is nothing wrong with wanting to be better.  But are we afraid of telling other people what makes us amazing?  Do we downplay our strengths or talents or abilities so we don’t appear to be boastful or “better” than someone else?

A fellow blogger friend of mine, Natashia from Canary Jane, has started a campaign to help us each recognize how amazing we are within ourselves and to see the unique qualities in those around us.  Myself and the other bloggers participating want to share a message of love and confidence.  We need more positivity and less shaming in the world and I feel like this is especially true when it comes to social media.  I love this message and hope we can all get on board and share it with others.

To help get things started, I want to share with you some things that I think are amazing about myself:

I am patient.  My thoughts and opinions have value.  I don’t let hard things keep me down and have the ability to keep moving forward.  I love to learn.  I have a strong body that allows me to play with my kids and exercise.  I plan meals for my family and budget our money so we are able to live well and save money.  I teach my children how to love themselves and those around them.  I am a good wife to my husband.  I recognize that I am not perfect and I do my best to not let that tear me down and just keep trying to do better than the day before.   And that is just a little bit about me and why I am amazing.

As you begin your new year, I challenge you to think about what makes you amazing.  Write it down.  Hang it on your bathroom mirror.  Put it on a note card next to your bed.  (Natashia has a couple of simple printables for you on her blog.)  On the days when you are feeling down or like you can’t do anything right, take a look at what makes you amazing.  If you feel so inclined, you can share what makes you amazing by using the hashtag #IAMAMAZINGBECAUSE.  I wish you the best as you begin this new year!

Top 10 Posts of 2016

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

Happy 2017!  Can I just say that I am so glad 2016 is over?  I know people say that you can always start fresh at the beginning of each day but there is just something that feels so tangible about a new year and what it represents. 

With that being said, I had a lot of great things that happened in 2016.  One of my favorites was my blog re-launch back in October.  Sunshine & Munchkins got a whole new look thanks to my friend Audrey from Miss Audrey Sue Designs.  Seriously, she is incredible.  I also celebrated my one year blogiversary, which was pretty exciting.  I’m looking forward to another year of blogging and hopefully providing you with some fun content that is useful and uplifting.  At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to my 2017 reader survey where you can share your thoughts and give me some feedback.  I would be so grateful if you took it!

And now, I get to share with you the top 10 posts of 2016! (You can read the original post by clicking on the title.)

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year.  I love the changing leaves and the cooler weather.  I had the opportunity to work with At Home stores and do a blog hop with some amazingly talented ladies.  I like to decorate my home, but I definitely wouldn’t call myself a professional, so I was thrilled with the feedback I got and all the kind comments.  You can see how I decorated my home (specifically the front porch and living room) by clicking HERE or on the title above.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

It’s been over a year since my family and I first visited Disneyland and we are all itching to go back again.  (Fingers crossed we get to go this fall!)  I’d been to Disneyland before but this was the first time I was the one planning the trip.  As much research as I did, there were still some things I wish I’d known and will definitely be applying the next time we go.  (As a side note, Disneyland On Any Budget by Jessica Sanders from The Happiest Blog on Earth is a great resource that I wish I’d known about but only recently found.)

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

You know how there are times when you happen upon a company that you didn’t know about at the time but just love the more you learn about them and buy their products?  That’s exactly how I feel about NeeSee’s Dresses.  Being tall, I have a hard time finding dresses that are long enough, but that is never a problem with NeeSee’s.  They carry the most beautiful dresses, as well as other clothing and accessories.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

This is such a fun and simple project!  I first used mod podge about 8 years ago and have been hooked ever since.  These notebooks are so inexpensive to make and can be used for so many different things: to-do lists, goal tracking, notes, passing notes/letters between parent and child, gifts, etc.  And they are so easy to personalize because the options for scrapbook paper are endless!

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

Another great Disneyland post that was popular last year.  No matter who you are, waiting in a long line can be frustrating, especially at a place like Disneyland!  I share some simple but easy and effective ways to keep your kids busy while waiting in line at Disneyland or any other theme park you visit.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

I was thinking back one night on my wedding and the different advice I received.  I remembered one bit of advice given lovingly by an older relative and in my head I thought: That is the worst advice I’ve ever heard!  And that is how this post was born.  Find out what it was and what I tell couples instead.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

I love my crock pot.  In fact, I have three of them and I use all of them, sometimes all at once!  My favorite meals are those that taste like they took forever to make but are easy.  This crock pot pork roast is perfect for both weeknight and weekend dinners, plus it’s less expensive than beef roasts.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

This recipe is actually my second most pinned post from my blog!  It is easy, flavorful and so moist.  I love making it any night of the week and my family literally devours it.  Any leftovers are quickly eaten the next day heated up or sliced cold and eaten on top of a salad.  Trust me, you need this recipe in your life.

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

I’ve mentioned before how much I love my Silhouette Cameo machine.  I use it all the time for craft projects, home decor, scrapbooking, card making, etc.  It’s so versatile!  Earlier this year, I purchased a starter kit for heat transfer vinyl and decided to try making a shirt for myself.  This post is for those who are new to heat transfer vinyl and want a very thorough step-by-step tutorial on how to use flocked heat transfer vinyl.  (I also did a tutorial on how to use smooth heat transfer vinyl, which you can find HERE.)  Also, this is the most pinned post from my blog and was even picked up and repinned by the official Silhouette Pinterest page!

And the #1 post from 2016….

Find out what my top 10 most popular posts were for 2016!  You might be surprised what #1 is.

I’ll be totally honest, I was shocked when I was running my numbers for this post and this is the one that came out on top.  It was included in at least one round up that I know of, which is partially why I think it picked up so much traction.  But also, it’s an awesome post!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year, but it can be a little tiring, especially for little people who need to be distracted while the food is being prepared.  This post originally went up in November 2015 and for the last couple of years, I’ve just printed off a bunch of these pictures and taken them with me wherever we were going with some crayons and colored pencils.  Some of the adults, myself included, even grabbed a copy and got in touch with their inner child. *wink*  It’s been fun to see how my kids coloring has improved over the last couple of years and I always keep one or two from the year in my Book of Thanks to look back on.

So there you have it: 10 posts from 2016 that were the most popular to you–my readers!  And I just want to stay thank you again for your support of me and my blog.  I enjoy writing and sharing my posts but it makes it so much more meaningful to me knowing that you read it and (hopefully) get something out of it. *wink*

And here is the link to the reader survey I mentioned at the beginning of this post.  Your responses are valuable to me and I would be so grateful if you took it.  Thank you so much and I wish you the best in this new year!

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

Mid-Year New Years Resolutions Check-Up

6 months into 2016.  The time has been absolutely flying for me, especially now that we are into summer and have so many activities going on.  When I was looking at my plans for my posts this week, I couldn’t believe that it was already time to review my new years resolutions and evaluate my progress.

And I have to say that sharing my goals and progress with you every three months has been interesting.  Part of me really likes the accountability, but the other part of me feels like I’m letting you down when I don’t accomplish my goals or work on them like I know I should (even though they are all personal goals).

So without further adieu, here’s my progress:
Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: Being charitable is such a hard thing to measure, especially without sounding like I’m tooting my own horn.  However, I can say that there have been some wonderful opportunities to serve others and give of myself over the last few months that I am grateful for.  When I have an attitude of charity and a willingness to give of my time or talents, I feel better about life.
Room for Improvement: There is always room for improvement in this area.  I hope that I can work towards keeping other people’s needs in my mind and look for ways to serve them.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: As mentioned in my last review, I started attending a weekly dance class last fall and have been going each week.  Recently the class ended and won’t resume until the fall.  I have felt very proud of myself for going, even on nights when I didn’t want to or had a million other things to do.  When I dance, I feel better physically, mentally and emotionally.
Room for Improvement: Since the class ended, I haven’t been attending any other fitness classes or established a routine for myself at home.  However, I’ve been out on walk with my kids, gone hiking, played in the yard, etc.  So I feel that while I could do more, I’m not doing too bad.

Challenge yourself, change yourself.

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: My one-on-one time with my daughter has increased a little since she finished preschool, but my one-on-one time with my son has decreased a little because we used to do things together while big sister was at preschool.
Room for Improvement: This summer, I’m trying to plan activities better with my kids and husband so we can each have time together to build our relationships.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: Sadly, I don’t think I’ve made any progress on this since last time I wrote.  I was getting into a routine with my days and nights, but got a little thrown off and just haven’t picked it back up.
Room for Improvement: Lots of room to improve here!  I know I need to do this, but sometimes other things take over and this gets pushed to the back burner.  I know myself and if I can establish a routine and incorporate this, I will be better at it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: I’ve been working on this one more.  Mostly it’s been by stopping and taking time to give my kids a hug and say “I love you” or “thank you for {fill in the blank}”.  I’ve noticed that my daughter absolutely flourishes under compliments and her overall behavior and attitude improves when she is receiving them regularly.
Room for Improvement: I think there is always room to grow in this area.  The key is just being aware of others and telling them how I feel in the moment.  Thinking a kind thought and saying it right away.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: With the coming of spring and summer, this has been easier for me.  I am not someone who does well with cloudy, rainy/snowy, cold weather.  I love the sunshine and warmth.  Even my husband says I’m a happier person in the warm months.  I’ve had some bad days of course, but I feel so much lighter when I have a positive, happy attitude about life, even when it’s not going exactly how I’d like.
Room for Improvement: Definitely.  On days when I’m feeling sad or frustrated, I seem to have a harder time shaking it off than I used to as a kid/teenager/young adult.  Sometimes I want to feel frustrated or mad, but all this does is make me impatient and unhappy.  I want to snap out of my funks easier and I know I can do it because I’ve done it before.

How are you doing on your goals?  Do you feel good about the progress you’ve made, no matter how small?  Have you made new goals partway through this year?  I’d love to hear about how you’re doing!

New Years Resolutions Check Up

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Can you believe we are already three months into the new year?  Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day and Easter have all come and gone.  Spring is here.  Time seems to go by more quickly every year and sometimes I just want to yell for it to STOP !  Do you feel the same?

At the end of last year, I shared some of the goals I had set for myself for this coming year.  Then, at the beginning of the year, I gave some tips for improving success in reaching those goals.  Now that we are 3 months into the new year, I wanted to do a little check up on how those goals are going for me.  Maybe it will help you reflect on your own goals as well.

Goal: Be more charitable
Progress: This goal isn’t as easy to show progress on.  I feel like I’ve had situations or even days where I’m able to view people with more love and charity.  But I also know there are times when charity hasn’t been a part of my reaction to someone or something.
Room for Improvement: In my original post, I shared a quote that inspired me to make this a more consistent part of my life.  The very end says, “Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  To improve on this goal, I need to remember this overarching statement and not get too caught up in specifics.  If you are expecting the best of someone, your perspective will change too.

Goal: Exercise regularly
Progress: Starting in the fall of last year, I started going to a weekly dance class.  I’ve continued going to this class on a weekly basis, but haven’t increased my exercise.
Room for Improvement: So technically, I am exercising regularly, but I feel like I could increase my exercise to at least a couple of times a week.  This should be a little easier to do now that the weather is improving and I can go on more walks with my kids around the neighborhood.

New Years Resolutions Check Up

Goal: Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family
Progress: I don’t feel much progress has been made on this goal.  I do get one-on-one time with each member of my family, but it’s usually doing things that have to be done, such as reading lessons with my daughter, running errands with my son or folding laundry with my husband.  They aren’t things that necessarily build our relationship.
Room for Improvement: When I originally made this goal, it was with the intent to set up specific activities with each person that would help us grow closer.  I think in order to make this work better, I need to plan out a time each week to do something with each person, even if it’s just painting fingernails and toenails with my daughter.

Goal: Keep up on my personal journal writing
Progress: I didn’t start working on this goal until recently.  I’ve been trying to be realistic about how often I can actually write in my journal.  I found a cute, new journal and set it next to my bed so that I can write a summary of how the day went.
Room for Improvement: I started out strong, but have slowly tapered off.  I think to make this work better, I will need to create an evening routine that allows enough time to reflect on the day and write about it.

Goal: Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often
Progress: This is another hard one to qualify, but I think it’s safe to say that there is always room for improvement in this area.
Room for Improvement: In order to incorporate this more into my life and way of being, I need to be specific about what I love and appreciate about a person.  I can tell my daughter thank you for putting away her clothes without being asked.  I can tell my son that I love when he shares his toys.  I can tell my husband thank you for doing the dishes every night.

Goal: Choose happiness
Progress: Due to some difficult things I’ve been dealing with over the last few months, this particular goal has been a real challenge for me.  I’ve had some very sad days.  The kind of days that finding the desire to be happy can only be reached with real effort.
Room for Improvement: Because of some of the things I’ve been facing, I almost feel afraid to be too happy sometimes.  However, I am going to renew my goal to choose happiness because there is always something good to be seen.

How are you doing on your new years resolutions?

Choose Happiness

Happy 2016!  How did you ring in the new year?  I’ll be honest, I was in bed well before midnight so I was sleeping and trying to finish getting over this dang cold that’s taken over my life for the last couple of weeks.

It might sound cliche, but I truly love the idea of new beginnings.  Have you ever had a day that seemed to be going all wrong, only to make a conscious decision to “start over”?  Or going to bed grumpy and waking up to see the sun shining and you have a smile on your face before you get out of bed?  I love knowing that while I might not have control over how everything in my day goes, that I do have control over how I react to it.  And isn’t that half the battle?

Earlier this week I talked about a few of my new goals for the year, but I thought of one more that I wanted to mention: choose to be happy.  This goal stems from the memory of a time during junior high when my life at home was challenging due to circumstances out of my control.  Rather than focus on the negative, I made a valiant effort every day to see the good in the bad.  It didn’t change my circumstances, but it made them easier to deal with.  I came to be known as someone who (almost) always had a smile on her face and could help others see the good in things.

As I’ve gotten older and life has moved forward, I find that there are days I tend to get caught up in “the thick of thin things”: small irritations turn into big problems and it seems hard to find the positive when I’m already having a tough day.  But I want to make a bigger effort to catch myself when this happens and try harder to choose to be happy.  I want to create a new beginning for myself, no matter what time of day it is or how rough the day before was.

Life is hard.  But it becomes so much harder when we don’t choose to be happy.  So regardless of what other new goals you’ve set for yourself this year, I hope you’ll join me in the effort to choose happiness. You won’t regret it.

My New Years Resolutions

2015 is coming to a close and we’ll be celebrating a new year in less than 48 hours.  Crazy!  It’s hard to believe how much can happen in a year’s time and yet feel like it went entirely too fast and you didn’t get to do all the things you would have liked.  Time definitely speeds up as you get older and life gets busier.

Here are a few things that happened in my life during 2015:

  • My daughter turned 3.
  • My son turned 1.
  • We finished our basement.
  • My husband quit his job and started a new one.
  • My husband graduated with his MBA.
  • We went to Disneyland.
  • I started this blog.

Along with the new year comes the opportunity to start fresh.  Obviously, this could be done at any time of year, but it seems most common for people to take a step back and evaluate the current year and create new hopes, dreams and goals for the new one ahead.  I include myself as one of these people and I get excited to think of new ways to grow and stretch myself in various aspects of my life.  I think there are basically two types of goals: the kind with a foreseeable end (ie. train to run a marathon) and the kind that are more long-term (ie. be more forgiving).  Both types are necessary if you are serious about improving yourself.

My brother-in-law is a comedian/motivational speaker and he’s always throwing this out there in regards to goals: “I don’t like to set goals.  I like to create a lifestyle.” Keeping this thought in mind, I’ve been doing some thinking about the goals/lifestyle changes I want to set this year and wanted to share a few of them with you.

Be more charitable  I was inspired to set this as a goal, and essentially adopt it as a lifestyle, when I read this quote:

“Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.” – Marvin J. Ashton, 1992
Exercise regularly  Isn’t this a goal most people set for the new year?  Regardless, it’s one I’m setting for myself.

Spend more one-on-one time with each member of my family  I want to make sure that even though I see my family every day, that I make the time to do specific activities with them where we can play and talk and create memories to grow and strengthen our relationship.  This might include going out for ice cream or bowling with my daughter, playing a game in the backyard with my son or doing a planned activity with my husband (at home or out on the town).

Keep up on my personal journal writing  I love going back and reading about past events, feelings and experiences.  They make me laugh.  They make me cry.  They help me see where I’ve grown and the lessons I’ve learned.  This is a goal I have to set for myself every year.  Some years I do better than others, but I’m always glad when I take the time to do it.
Tell family and friends that I love and appreciate them more often  I’ve never met anyone, myself included, who doesn’t like to be told that they are loved, appreciated and that they matter.  It can be hard to remember to do because it’s so easy to take those we love and the things they do for us for granted.
While these aren’t all the goals I’m setting for myself this year,  I think it’s important to share our goals with other people so we remember them and so we are held accountable to them.
What are your goals for the new year?