3 Ways To Raise Happy Kids

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Before starting college, I had some ideas about what I’d like to study, but it wasn’t until a couple years in that I found what I wanted to commit to: marriage and family studies.  I knew that what I was learning could be applied to both my current and my future relationships, especially my future family.  Growing up, I would say that I was generally a happy kid.  I got along with my parents, I had good friends, did well in school, was involved in extracurricular activities and active in church.  But if you had asked me then how I became that way–happy–I don’t know that I would have been able to nail it down.  However, through my coursework, and now through practical application (aka parenting), I’ve seen three ways parents can raise happy kids: building connections, setting limits and encouraging independence.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

So often, I hear parents joke around that they wish their kids came with a manual.  I’ve even said the same thing myself, especially when going through a challenging period of time.  And while each child is different, I know that a combination of connecting, limits and autonomy will help my kids develop into happy, healthy kids.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Building Connections
Shortly after becoming pregnant with each of my kids, I felt a connection to them.  My husband on the other hand, didn’t feel connected to them until they were born.  But regardless of when you first feel connected to your kids, it’s important to recognize that each child has an innate need to feel connected, which causes them to feel loved.  For example, my daughter has never been much of a snuggler.  Even now, she’ll sit next to me or my husband when we are watching a show or reading a book, but she’s never wanted to really connect that way for longer than a few minutes.  But, one on one time and words of encouragement and affirmation go a long way for her.  She literally lights up. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

On the other hand, my son is a big cuddle bug.  He was more that way even as a baby and now loves to snuggle and hug and sit on our laps.  Additionally, if you can get him talking or telling a story, he loves to feel listened to.  When each child feels connected in the way that means the most to them, they feel loved.  If you’re not sure how your child feels love, I highly recommend the book The Five Love Languages for Children by Gary Chapman.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Setting Limits
A strong parent-child connection is important because it builds the foundation for lovingly correcting our kids (aka discipline).  When we set limits, or rules, for our children we are teaching them self-control and establishing socially acceptable behavior.  Right now, my daughter is struggling to remember that her first instinct when things don’t go her way should not be to hit.  We are working with her to help her understand that there are other ways she can express her frustration, but that being physical is not acceptable.  We are teaching her that she needs to think before she acts and to think about how others will feel if she hits them (the golden rule).  As parents, it’s our role to be an example, follow through and maintain a strong connection with each of our kids.  They will (hopefully) recognize that the rules are there because we love them and want them to be happy.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Encouraging Independence
Kids seem to have a built-in program for using some variation of the phrase “I want to do it by myself!”.  As they grow and learn more about their abilities, they want to test the limits we’ve put in place.  While this can be extremely frustrating as a parent, it’s helpful to recognize that their desire for autonomy (independence) is actually very useful as it will prepare them for future real-world responsibilities, as well as teaching about choice and accountability.  Obviously, we have to allow some degree of independence otherwise our children wouldn’t learn how to do anything for themselves.  My kids are still fairly young, but I try my best to allow them the ability to choose wherever possible and within reason.  For example, I will tell them what the weather will be like for the day and then allow them to choose their clothes.  I ask them what kind of fruit or vegetable they’d like with their lunch (giving them options).  Doing this helps my kids feel like I trust them to make their own decisions and gives them confidence in themselves.  In addition, I have to make sure that when there is an unwanted consequence to a choice they made, that they take responsibility for it and learn from it.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Parenting is hard work.  I was just telling my husband the other night, “It’s so hard to feel like I always have to be on top of everything all the time!  There is so much to remember and so many things I need to teach them and it can be so exhausting.”  But the moments of joy–when your child puts into practice a concept you’ve been working on or they do they right thing even when they think no one is watching or they start on their chores without being asked or a hug for no reason–really do make this whole parenting thing so rewarding. 

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

As anyone who has been around kids can tell you, every kid comes with their own unique personality.  I love finding fun shirts for my kids to wear and graphic tees are some of their favorites.  When I saw these shirts from Cents of Style, I knew I had to grab a couple of them.  For my daughter, I chose the “Boys are EW”, although the “I believe in Pink” would have been perfect for her too.  My son is one of those funny, sweet, charming little boys and I got him a “Word to your Mother” shirt.  (I’m sure my husband will teach him all the words to Vanilla Ice’s song one day.)  My kids love their new shirts and I’m sure they’ll be wearing them for the rest of the summer.

Sometimes I wish my kids came with a manual on how to raise them!  But thankfully these tried and true principles for ways to raise a happy kid are there as a guideline.

Do your kids love wearing graphic tees?  If so, this weekend is the perfect time to snag some for Cents of Style’s Fashion Friday deal.  All their kids graphic tees are 50% off their lowest marked price, with clearance styles starting at less than $5!  Sizes range from 6 months all the way up to Youth XL (14/16) so there is something fun for all ages.  So go to Cents of Style, check out their kids shirts and then use the code KIDSTORY at checkout to take advantage of this deal, plus you’ll get free shipping!  This deal runs from 6/16-6/18

Have you seen these principles help you raise happy kids?

7 Tips for Hiking with Kids

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

This last week we went hiking as part of our Memorial Day activities.  We live close to the mountains and there are a lot of canyons and hiking trails to choose from, so we are always finding fun new places to explore.  My kids especially love hiking and it is one of mine and my husband’s favorite activities as well so we do a lot of it.  With this being the case, I’ve learned a few tips along the way that have helped make hiking a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

This post is sponsored by Nuby.  All opinions are 100% my own.  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on one and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

It’s Not A Race
As we were walking along the trail with our kids this last week, they inevitably got side-tracked by different things: climbing on rocks, a flower, a stick.  My initial reaction was along the lines of: “C’mon, let’s go!” but then I realized that the point of the hike wasn’t about making it to our destination as much as it was about spending time together doing something we enjoy.  So if you go into your hike expecting that it will take longer, you can cut down on frustration at the so-called interruptions that are going to happen.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Bring Backpacks
This one has been a lifesaver for us when we go hiking.  I bought each of my kids a small backpack that we pack whenever we go on a hike.  Included in their packs is water and a couple of snacks to eat along the way.  They love having their own backpacks and I think it also helps them feel big and gives them a little bit more autonomy.  Even if your child says they will just carry their water or snacks in their hands or pockets, have them bring the pack because almost without fail they will want you to carry it for them or it will be put down and forgotten.  Here are a few good backpack options I found: HERE, HERE and HERE.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Create Teaching Moments
At one point in our hike, we stopped for a little snack break and the thought occurred to me to talk to my kids about littering.  I asked my daughter what we should do if we are out somewhere and there isn’t a garbage can for us to put the wrappers or plastic bottles in.  She replied that we should put it back in our backpacks and then throw it away later.  Then we talked about why that was important (keep trails clean, showing respect, etc).  It was a really simple lesson and one of those things that makes a bigger impact when we are actually out in nature rather than trying to explain it at some other time.  A few other teaching moments you could incorporate into your hike could be talking about plants and animals in the area, how rivers/streams are made, bring a nature journal and collecting leaves/flowers.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Research the Hike
Anytime we go on a hike, I make sure to find some basic information about it: Does it have bathrooms at the trailhead or along the way?  How long is the hike?  Difficulty level?  Directions or landmarks for finding the trail?  Best time of year for hiking?  Stroller or wagon friendly?  The list goes on and what you want to know will obviously depend on your own family.  I recently found a really helpful website called AllTrails.com, where you can search by state and it will come up with a list of hikes and a helpful description of what you’ll find.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Sunscreen, Wipes, Hand Sanitizer
Even if you put sunscreen on before you start the hike, odds are that you’ll need it again at some point before you get back to your car.  There are plenty of travel size containers of sunscreen that there really isn’t an excuse not to bring some.  Also, nature is dirty and kids seem to gravitate towards dirt so having something to wipe their hands off with is a good idea.  Just grab a travel size package of baby wipes and throw them in your bag.  And lastly, grab a small bottle of hand sanitizer to disinfect everyone’s hands with before eating or after playing in the water (if your hiking to a waterfall or by a stream).

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Flip-Flops/Water Shoes/Extra Socks
I don’t know about you, but after a long hike, all I want to do is take my shoes and socks off and let my feet breathe.  A lot of times, we will go out and get some food or stop by a store after our hike and it’s nice to have the extra pair of shoes to change into.  Depending on the hike, we will bring water shoes so we can wade around in the water and cool off, plus they protect our feet from sharp rocks and give us traction.  Along with this, consider bringing an extra pair of socks.  The shoes I use when we go hiking double as water shoes, but I hate wearing them without socks, so I like to bring an extra pair that I can change into before we start back.  Same goes for your kids.  Throw the flip flops or water shoes or socks into their backpack and let them carry it.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate
And last, but not least, bring lots and lots of WATER.  This is one of those things that you absolutely do not want to skimp on.  Who cares if you have to stop along the trail 10 times so your child can relieve themselves?  It’s much better than the alternative.  Whether you’re hiking when it’s cloudy and cooler or hot and sunny, you need to keep yourself and your family hydrated and cool.  Little kids can overheat pretty easily so stopping and reminding everyone to get a good drink is essential.  Throw some ice cubes into everyone’s bottle or cup or even freeze the whole water bottle for a refreshing and cool drink for your entire (or at least most) of your hike.

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

Hiking with kids doesn't have to be a hard thing if you follow these 7 simple tips!

We brought our kids’ Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens with us on our hike and they were perfect.  The plastic is made of durable tritan from Eastman and the push top could be pushed down and covered by a plastic latch so it stayed clean.  The 12-oz size was perfect for our kids and how much they normally drink.  You can find these cups in store at Target and Babies R’ Us.  (Shop the water canteens online HERE.

(For my local Utah friends, the hike in these pictures is Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove.)

What tips and tricks have you found helpful when you go hiking with your family?

And now, I’ve got a fun giveaway that you can enter to win four (4) of these Nuby Thirsty Kids Reflex water canteens for your kids!  See below to find out how to enter!

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My Stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

A little less than two months ago, my husband sent me a message that he’d been invited to go to a training event in Orlando.  Jokingly I replied, “Can I come?”  His response: “I can ask.”  As it turned out, I could come and the minute I heard ‘yes’, I was searching online for the best flights, calling family members to ask if they could watch our kids and dreaming of sunny Florida.  (I’m a planner, remember?)  Midway through the day I asked my husband if he knew the name of the hotel they were putting everyone up at: “Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort“.  Um, what?!  That’s right my friends.  We were going to be staying at a WDW hotel and I was doing a happy dance in my living room.

This post is sponsored by the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort.  All opinions are 100% my own.

When I first pulled up to the hotel, it was nighttime and everything was lit up.  The hotel has 11 floors and has huge swan statues on the top of each wing of the hotel.  With the lights shining on the swans as well as the beautiful fountain out front, I knew I was in for a treat.  Walking into the lobby, it is bright and welcoming.  You can see straight through to the other end of the building where it opens out onto the grounds.  When I first was looking at the hotel’s website, I realized that the hotel is actually two hotels on the same property: the Swan and the Dolphin.  They share many of the amenities, such as the pools and other entertainment, but each one has different restaurants and dining options to offer.

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

For the first two nights, I stayed in the west wing of the hotel in a grand deluxe king room.  It turns out that we were originally booked into a queen room, but we were able to switch to a king room that also happened to be wheelchair accessible so the bathroom was bigger and there wasn’t a sofa.  Our room had a balcony that looked out onto the grounds behind the hotel (facing the back of the Dolphin).  I had a great view of the little lake (Crescent Lake) and one of the pools and there were lots of palm trees close by as well.  The room was clean and bright, with a desk, TV and a mini fridge that included two complimentary waters (great for drinking and refilling at the parks!).

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

Our third night, we changed rooms and stayed in the east wing of the hotel.  Our view wasn’t as nice in terms of being able to see the grounds, however, we were able to look down into the courtyard area and it was a little more shaded.  We stayed in another grand deluxe king room that was almost identical to our first room but the bathroom was smaller and it had a sofa.

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

Each morning for breakfast, we headed down to the Java Bar.  We don’t drink coffee, but there were really good muffins and pain au chocolat (chocolate croissants) as well as fresh fruit, cereal, bottled smoothies and a few other basic breakfast items.  It was located towards the back of the hotel near the exit to the grounds and the water taxi, which made it really convenient to grab something and get on our way.  The only other place we ate at on the Swan hotel property was The Garden Grove Restaurant for a character dining experience, which I’ll be posting about later this week.  For now, suffice it to say that it was amazing!

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

The grounds of the hotel are absolutely beautiful.  When you walk out the back doors of the Swan, directly in front of you is a large walkway that leads to the Dolphin.  It is open in the middle with flowers and palm trees and flanked on either side with a covered walkway.  The walkway spans a portion of Crescent Lake where a water taxi comes by every 20 minutes or so to take you to either Epcot or Hollywood Studios.  On one side of the property are three different pools: two lap pools and one larger grotto pool with a waterfall and water slide.  There are also a few hammocks near the pools and on the beach.  We relaxed on the hammocks a couple of different times and it was soooo nice.  On the beach, they had a playground for kids and two or three volleyball courts, along with some loungers.

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

On the opposite side of the pools was a bridge over the waterway and a path that led to Hollywood Studios or the Boardwalk.  Unfortunately, we didn’t get to explore the boardwalk but we took the walking path to and from Hollywood Studios a couple of times and it was about a 12 minute walk.  I loved the option to walk or take the water taxi, especially at night when the park had closed and everyone was trying to get back to their hotel.

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

An overview of the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Buena Vista, FL

One amenity that I found extremely helpful at the Swan was the option to have the hotel hold our luggage for us.  Because we had to change rooms for our third night, we didn’t have a place to put our luggage while we were at Hollywood Studios.  So in between when we had to check out at 11:00am and when we could check back into our new room later that afternoon, they held our stuff for us until our new check in.

All in all, our stay at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort was amazing.  Their proximity to the parks, especially Hollywood Studios and Epcot, made its location ideal.  The rooms were large and welcoming.  We loved the grounds and their list of amenities and services made our stay comfortable and hassle-free.  I would absolutely recommend this hotel for both families and couples.
 
If you are going to be traveling to Florida to visit any of their Disney theme parks or Universal Studios, definitely consider looking into the Swan and Dolphin to see if it’s the right fit for your family.

The Best App for Organizing Kids Artwork and Schoolwork

Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

When I was in 9th grade, my mom brought out a box of my old school papers, pictures I had drawn as a young child, lists of my first words and favorite foods to eat at different ages and so on.  She apologetically told me that she’d tried to keep as much as she could but couldn’t hold onto everything and hoped I was okay with what she’d held onto.  I opened a box and it was like a walk down memory lane, except I didn’t have memories of everything in the box.  I tried to organize everything by age and then school year but my mom couldn’t remember all the dates and could only give me approximate time frames.  If I was lucky, I found a year or even a full date written on the back.  All those pictures and school assignments are now in a scrapbook of mine that I started on shortly after receiving this box of memories and I continued to add to it as the years progressed.  Now I have kids of my own and I find myself wanting to keep every single picture they draw or art project they make, but let’s be real: there is no way I can physically hold onto everything.  So what’s the solution?  I’ll tell you: it’s called Keepy.

I received a subscription from Keepy to try it out and share my experience with you.  As always, all opinions are 100% mine.  This post contains affiliate links.


What is Keepy?

Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

Keepy is an app you can download onto your phone (or other iOS or Kindle device) that is basically a way to keep track of all your kids art projects, drawings and even schoolwork.  By creating an account for each child, you can easily organize each picture or video you take.  You can then invite family or friends to view the pictures/videos you save and they are the only ones who have access it to.  No more group texts every time you want to show off how creative or smart your child is–just save the picture and anyone on your list will get an email about the new Keepy you’ve saved and they can view it on their own time frame.  (You can also choose to send it to a specific person rather than everyone.)  Another awesome thing about Keepy is that you can add descriptions, crop, rotate and even add video of your child talking about the project, drawing, artwork or schoolwork.

My Experience with Keepy

I have to tell you that I was so excited to learn about this app.  I had already started taking pictures of my daughter’s preschool crafts that she brought home last year and tried to organize them into a folder in another app, but it was annoying and time consuming, plus I didn’t think everyone I was friends with would care about seeing them.  I continued taking pictures, hoping to find another solution.  When I was approached about trying out Keepy, my answer was a huge “YES!”  I actually had this pile of papers in my kitchen that I’d been meaning to take pictures of so I grabbed that and got started.

Setting up the app was really easy.  I downloaded it from the Google Play Store and right off the bat, I received prompts on how to set everything up.  (I have an Android but it’s also available for iOS and Kindle.)  As part of my collaboration with Keepy, they provided me with an unlimited account which meant that I could download and save as many pictures as I want in a month for up to a year, at which point I would need to either renew or continue with a monthly or basic (free) account.  I set up accounts for both of my kids and started adding “fans” which are the people I want to share my Keepys with.  (If I want to add my husband to the account as a parent, he can also add photos or videos to the account!)

Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

Then I took pictures of each item I wanted to save, cropped and rotated them (if needed), wrote a description about the project and saved it under the right kid.  A few days after downloading the app, my daughter brought me a picture she’d drawn and started telling me a story about it.  After she was done I told her I wanted to record her telling the story again, so I grabbed my phone, took a picture of her drawing, and recorded a video of her talking about the picture.  (They have it set up so that it uses the forward facing camera and kids can see themselves talk.)  It was a really fun and cute way to save that little memory and there’s no way I could have captured that simply in words in a description of the picture.

Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

Each time I take pictures on my phone, I receive a prompt from the app asking if I want to organize the photos.  This is great because I have the best of intentions of saving pictures in the right place, but forget so the reminder is really helpful.  I can always go back and edit the description or add a video which means I have flexibility and don’t have to do everything right then.

Another great feature of Keepy is that you can save videos as well as pictures.  You can organize everything into different folders, tag which child(ren) are in it and share it the same way you do with pictures!  Seriously, I’ve been blown away at how versatile and robust this app is!

So far, I’ve loved using this app and it’s ease of use, flexibility and range of features have been a huge motivator for me to continue using it.  I did have a couple of questions as I started using the app and when I emailed their support, they got back to me really quickly which I greatly appreciated.  They were helpful and my issues were resolved quickly and efficiently.

Learn more about the best app for organizing and managing your kids artwork and schoolwork

Now What?

So you’ve decided you want to get a handle on managing and organizing your kids artwork and schoolwork.  Good for you! *wink*  Click on this link HERE to download it on your phone (or other iOS or Kindle device).  You can try out a basic account with no strings attached and see how you like it.  Each account has a password you can set up so you can access the app from different devices.

With a basic account, you can upload up to 5 photos/videos per month.  If you want to do more than that, you can upgrade to a monthly account for $2.99/mo, or a yearly account for $9.99/yr.  Both will give you the ability to upload unlimited photos/videos.

If you want to have something more tangible to give as a gift (Mother’s Day or Father’s day anyone?) or keep at home, you do have the option to print out an 8×8 photobook of your Keepys.

I hope my experience with Keepy has motivated you to check it out, use it and feel like you can still keep your child’s memories without feeling like you have to keep every. single. paper. *wink*

What feature of Keepy appeals most to you?

4 Ways To Style A Floral Skirt

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Before I had kids, I dressed up a lot more.  I wore heels and my skirts and dresses had less spandex in them.  There were days I’d wake up and think, “I’ll wear a skirt/dress today, just for fun!”  Fast forward to today and my daily wardrobe consists of jeans and a t-shirt with a cardigan thrown over the top with flats (nothing wrong with that).  Because when I’m chasing two kids around, running errands, playing on the ground or in the yard, I need to feel like what I’m wearing can keep up with my lifestyle.  At the same time, I want to look and feel put together and what I wear often affects how I feel.

I received this skirt in exchange for my review and promotion but all thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.  This post also contains affiliate links.

Think about it: you know you’re going to be spending a lazy day at home and what do you put on?  Comfy bottoms and a t-shirt.  Going out with your friends or spouse?  Clothes that you love and look good in.  Running errands?  Definitely some flats or tennis shoes.  I’ll be totally honest: most days I don’t feel like getting all the way put together with my make up on and hair done.  I’m happy if I got to take a shower before the kids start making messes or trying to fix their own breakfast (which usually results in the aforementioned messes).  But the days where I put on something that feels a little bit nicer also lifts my mood and makes me feel better about myself.  One of the those “somethings” that I put on? A floral skirt.

I like to get the most use out of my clothes as possible which means that I love pieces that are transitional or that I can wear year round.  Floral skirts are one of those pieces and they are quickly becoming a favorite of mine.  With the variety of patterns and colors available, it’s just a matter of finding one that fits your style (and lifestyle).

Today I want to share 4 ways you can style a floral skirt.  My hope is that you will be inspired to look in your closet and refresh your wardrobe as we move into a new season.  With the exception of this skirt, I had everything else already in my closet.  I didn’t buy any accessories, shoes or tops to go with it.  Each outfit is one I could easily wear and move around in while taking care of my children, which for me is key, since I have them with me most of the time.

So scroll through the pictures below and see if anything jumps out at you.  I’ve included looks you can wear to the office, meetings, church, date night, running errands or even a day at the park with your kids.

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!
Find the tutorial for my Mama Bear shirt HERE

Floral skirts are a fun and versatile way to brighten up your wardrobe.  See 4 different ways to style a floral skirt by clicking the link!
See the tutorial for my Mama Bear shirt HERE

Did you find something you love?  The style of skirt I got is called the Ashlyn Floral Pencil Skirt in blue (also comes in black).  I love the way it fits because it allows me to move in it and it doesn’t ride up at all!  This particular skirt has a little bit of spandex in it and is made of a thicker scuba-like material.  I am 5’9″ and wear a size 5 so I got the Medium to give me a little more length.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect floral skirt (or just love buying more of them), you have to check out the amazing sale that Cents of Style is running this weekend as part of their Fashion Friday!  They have over 10 patterns to choose from and each one is only $19.95 plus free shipping with the code: FLORALSTORY.  This deal runs from today, 2/17/17 thru 2/19/17.  To take advantage of this deal, click HERE to go straight to the Fashion Friday deal page and see all the skirts you can choose from.

I also want to give a shout out to my friend Kendra from Kendra Leigh Photography and Video for the fun pictures in this post.  If you haven’t already, check out her guest post from Wednesday about using natural light in photography and enter the giveaway to win a spot in her Snap Happy photography class!

What is your favorite way to style a floral skirt?

4 Ways To Keep Moving Forward

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.

Last week, I posted about the campaign I got involved in called “I Am Amazing Because…”  The purpose and goal of this campaign is to promote confidence and positivity by recognizing the talents and abilities and characteristics of those around us that we find amazing and unique and then telling them.  We, as individuals, should be included in this recognition and often I think we forget or downplay what is amazing about ourselves.  When I shared my post last week, I wrote that one of the qualities in myself that I find amazing is my ability to keep moving forward.

I received this shirt in exchange for my review and promotion but all thoughts and opinions are 100% mine.

As I’ve gotten older and reflected on who I am as a person, I’ve realized that when I’m not growing in some area of my life, or I’m not working towards a goal or purpose, I start to get grumpy and restless.  When life starts getting too routine or I notice myself getting complacent, that’s my internal nudge to make a change.

Growing up, my situation at home presented some challenges.  I found myself placed in circumstances that were not of my choosing, nor did I have a way to remove them from my life.  But one thing that kept me going, quite literally, was the knowledge that I could keep moving forward in different areas of my life.  At some point I knew that things had to get better. That what things I did have control over, I could make the best of them and focus on that.

This post contains affiliate links, which if you click on them and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.
Photo Credit: Kendra Leigh Photography & Video

There is a quote that says, “If you’re not moving forward, you are moving backward.”  In today’s world, it is impossible to stand still.  So what stops us from moving forward?

  • Fear
  • Uncertainty
  • Past Mistakes
  • Unclear Goals
  • Allowing Yesterday to Define Today
  • Unrealistic Expectations

You could probably add to this list, but that’s not what I want you to focus on.  What I want you to take away from this post today is how to keep moving forward.

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.

Recognize Progress
Sometimes we aren’t necessarily faced with being unable to move forward, but rather that we don’t feel we’re moving forward fast enough.  We have a goal in mind and we’re just not reaching it as quickly as we’d like.  This can turn into frustration, disappointment or any number of negative emotions.  Those emotions can cause us to lose focus which can slow us down even more.  It’s important to recognize progress, no matter how small it is.  Each step forward is a step towards your goal.  Each step is essential to our growth and progress as a person, not only in our quest to accomplish something.

Ask for Help and Support
Having a network of people to rely on when things get hard is a great tool to help you keep moving forward.  Your network might include your family, friends, coworkers, neighbors or even a support group.  The people I ask for support from varies depending on what my goal is or the challenge I’m facing. We must surround ourselves with people who want to see us succeed and will help us along the way, especially when we stumble, fall or want to give up.  

Adopt a Mantra
By definition, a mantra is simply a statement or slogan that is repeated frequently.  I’ve seen a lot of posts from people who have chosen a word or phrase that embodies what they want to focus on for the day/week/month/quarter/year.  You could have a different mantra for different aspects of your life, or have the same one that encompasses all aspects of your life.  You can change your mantra if you feel it isn’t working for you.  There are no rules when it comes to mantras.  You simply choose one and then make that your focus and the thing that brings you back when you start veering off course.

Speak Positively About Yourself
I’ve talked about this concept of positivity and self care a few different times, such as here and here, but that’s because it’s so important!  We can be our own worst critic or our greatest cheerleader.  In order to continue moving forward in life, we have to believe that we can.  When fear or uncertainty tries to push it’s way in between the cracks, we have to push it back out and remind ourselves that we can do this!  If you find this idea difficult, another way to approach it is to think about those who depend on you and how what you do affects them.  For me, that’s my kids and my husband.  If I speak badly about myself, what does that teach my children?  How are they going to start talking about themselves?  If I tell my husband that I don’t know why he married me, or list off all the things I’m horrible at, is that going to help grow and nurture our relationship?  Your life has an impact on other people whether you want it to or not, so why not make it a positive one?

In order to progress in life, we have to keep moving forward.  Learn 4 ways to help you stay positive and on the path to your goals.
Photo Credit: Kendra Leigh Photography & Video

In an effort to encourage this attitude of positivity, Cents of Style is running a deal on all of their inspirational t-shirts.  I chose “Keep Moving Forward”, but if that doesn’t quite resonate with you, check out their selection.  You can find 30+ options to choose from and maybe you’ll find the one that hits home for you.

To take advantage of this deal, click HERE to view all the t-shirts.  Select the one you want and at checkout, enter the code INSPIRE17 and it will take 50% off the lowest marked price plus get FREE SHIPPING!  This sale will run from 1/20/17 thru 1/22/17.  Don’t miss out on this awesome deal and use it to buy something that will inspire you, make you smile and help your day be a little brighter.

I encourage you to keep moving forward.  Whether that means leaps and bounds or inch by inch, keep moving.  Keep growing.  I know you can do this.  Because you can do hard things.

Midway Ice Castles {plus a GIVEAWAY!}

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

I’ll be totally honest: winter is definitely not my favorite time of the year in terms of the weather.  I get super jealous of those of you who live in places where it’s warmer in the winter and always wish I could just hop on a plane and visit for a weekend and soak up some vitamin D.  I didn’t include ‘sunshine’ as part of my blog’s name for nothing! *wink*  That being said, there are some things about winter that I do enjoy because there isn’t any other time of year to experience it (at least not where I live).  One of these things are the Ice Castles in Midway, UT.

I received complimentary tickets to visit the Ice Castles but all opinions are 100% my own.

Ice castles.  Doesn’t that sound like something directly out of Frozen?  Even if you’re not a fan of the movie, I promise that these ice castles are breathtakingly beautiful and almost seem otherworldly.  The castles are formed using icicles that have been grown by a crew and are slowly added to the structure and replaced throughout the event.  By the time the structure is complete, the walls are 10 feet thick and about 20 feet high in some places!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The guy who created the Ice Castles concept is actually from my home town so most years they have an event here in Utah.  However, they’ve slowly expanded over the years and are currently in Midway, UT; Lincoln, NH; Stillwater, MN; Wisconsin Dells, WI and Edmonton, AB (Canada).  So if you live near any of these places, be sure to visit because this is truly an amazing and fun family experience you will not want to miss!

My family and I visited the Ice Castles last year in Midway and our kids loved it!  We knew we wanted to go again this year so I signed up for their email list so I could get notices about when it would be open.  When it did, we got tickets right away because they tend to sell out quick!  We decided to go this last weekend as a family and invited my brother-in-law, his wife and their two kids to come with us.  My kids love spending time with their cousins!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

When you first walk into the Ice Castles through a somewhat narrow (but tall) tunnel, it literally makes you stop and just take a look around.  It is nothing like you’ve ever seen before.  The walls are so high and the ice is a beautiful blue color.  If you look up through any of the tunnels, you will see hundreds of icicles above you.  (Don’t worry, they won’t fall!)  We went in the middle of the day.  The sun was shining and it was surprisingly warm, which was great because then our kids could enjoy the time there.  But they are also open until later on at night and if you go then, they have brightly colored lights that are inside the ice walls!

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

My kids’ favorite areas were the fountains, kid-sized ice slides and the ice benches.  They also have an ice slide for bigger kids and adults, but be aware that they don’t allow lap riders or doubles.  My brother-in-law’s family went down the slide but our kids were too little.  It looked like so much fun and everyone who rode it had a smile on their face.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

As far as what to wear and bring, I definitely recommend dressing your kids in snow pants, boots and gloves at the very least.  The ground is uneven due to the ice and snow and came up to my ankles in some places.  You won’t want to bring any strollers or wheelchairs because of this.  I saw some families with small children bring sleds to pull their kids around on which I thought was a great idea.  Also make sure to bring a camera because the opportunities for pictures are plentiful.  There are so many little alcoves and tunnels and towers to take pictures of and in front of that you’ll be sorry if you miss it.  I’d be cautious about bringing any super nice cameras though (refer to the comment about uneven ground).

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

If you’ve wanted to visit the Ice Castles, but haven’t been sure it’s worth the drive, take my word for it that you and your family will love it.  You can check out ticket prices, hours, directions and more on their official website by clicking HERE.

Also, I’m super excited to be able to do a giveaway for 4 tickets to visit the Midway Ice Castles courtesy of the Ice Castles!  These tickets will cover the entire cost of 4 tickets no matter the price, day or time you go.  Please note that this giveaway is for the Ice Castles in Midway, Utah so please enter only if you  are able to use them at this location.

The Ice Castles in Midway, UT are breathtaking and absolutely incredible to see in person!  Read more about how to plan your visit.

To enter:

  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Pinterest (required)
  • Visit Sunshine & Munchkins page on Facebook (required)
  • Follow Sunshine & Munchkins on Instagram (extra entry)
  • Leave a blog comment below (extra entry)

The giveaway will be open from today, January 4, 2017 to Tuesday, January 10, 2017 at 12am MST.  The winner will be announced on Facebook on Wednesday, January 11.  Good luck!

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