(better late than never, right?!)

Fact: Mickey Mouse has to be sick of us by now. Who even goes to Disneyland 3 times in 2 years? I’ll tell you who: spoiled children and their stressed out parents.

We have a 5-year-old with a “good girl” chart and once she earns 10 stickers, she fills a row and she gets a reward. We initially let her choose whatever she wanted, which turned out to be 100% toys. On Mother’s Day this year she brought me home a special paper that said her favorite thing to do together was to go look at toys, sooo ever since we’ve let her choose experiences vs things. I guess we’re getting carried away with going places instead of buying toys, because we keep finding ourselves in this themepark! But forever memories are made amongst these characters and some of our favorite scenery is along these beaches. And you can’t put a price on your kid fighting Darth Vader. For real.

Little guy can’t fight the force just yet, but he stayed perfectly content watching. We will probably take him back in the fall, as a big 4 year old. We’ll do prettymuch anything for these big brown eyes.

Also, Darth is legit scary when he’s 7′ tall and he’s, in the flesh, deep mask breathing into your face. I freaked slightly while the boys protected me observed and Addison just obliviously smiled for the picture. I hope I’m never in real danger with this group. 😉 Our matching mermaid leggings are a little more compatible with Disney than sci-fi, but they’re still my favorite part of this picture. 🙂 Mine are under $8 and Addison’s are under $10! We also hit the neighboring ride Autopia and Buzz’s Astroblasters ride about 6 times. I expected myself to earn more points by ride 7.. nope.


This happy girl just rode Thunder Mountain Railroad + the Matterhorn at least 5x each (and still wanted more). Picky doesn’t even begin to describe her when it comes to clothing, but this shirt completed one of her favorite Disneyland outfits. I got Breckin’s sweet little Flounder shirt, by special request, here. We also did some serious hat shopping. 😉


Space Mountain was closed while we were there this trip (I know!), so we soaked up the characters and shows with our Star-Wars-obsessed 5 year old and Toy Story-loving 3 year old. One of the cutest memories we walked away with: mini Jesse + pint-sized Woody meeting Jesse! Purely by accident, we walked up as the last family in line to take pictures with Jesse. This is one of those moments where we were just a little bit less stupid for spending $$ on 3-day park tix. The kids were in twinning Toy Story heaven.


If you do nothing else inside the walls of the happiest place on earth, do the parades! They are legitimately impressive + the kids jump around wide-eyed, full of pure joy (which is probably why my pictures are blurry).


Here are a few more costume changes + famous faces. Why they wanted Batman/Batgirl costumes in Disney, I will never know.


Now, onto beachin’! Life is always next-level good at the beach. We accomplished nothing but time together + tan lines. Long Beach was our last excursion before changing and catching our ride back to rainy (but sometimes beautiful) Seattle.


Just good times.. Cali never disappoints. Now take me back to the beach! 😉


1. Drink More Tea

Black and Green Tea have a combination of an amino acid called L-theanine and caffeine that stimulate the brain and give us a shot of energy without causing that nervous, jittery feeling that coffee often gives. L-theanine also helps produce dopamine and serotonin which give us that feel-good feeling.


2. Exercise

You’re probably already on number 3, because we have all heard this one before. But remember, even if we don’t feel the need to lose weight or get fit, exercise still makes us happier. When you exercise, you feel better. I could link to 417 different resources on this subject, but you can just take my word for it. And you’re already onto number 3, so you won’t read them anyway. 😉


break a sweat

3. Surround Yourself with Happy People

Have you ever heard that you are the sum of the 4 people you hang out with most? When you have the option (like outside of working next to Dwight Schrute from 9am-5pm), choose people who see the good in others and in life. They will help you to also have a better and more positive outlook.

“I never smile if I can help it. Showing one’s teeth is a submission signal in primates. When someone smiles at me, all I see is a chimpanzee begging for it’s life.” – Dwight



4. Take Time to Self-Reflect

Quiet time is everything. Autumn Calabrese and yoga just go together for me, because I love/require peaceful workouts full of stretching. If you think yoga is about as exciting as watching the grass grow, I’d love to hear what works for you! Maybe it’s your devotional in the morning or your drive time in the car. Something about even a short dose of relaxation let’s your mind think clearly and process those ideas. Self-reflection gives us time to sort out all the life that happens.


5. Adopt a “Bounce Back” Mentality

In other words, when you fall down, get back up. Negative thinking leads to belief in your inabilities. Take a minute, let yourself feel the bad, then bounce back. Never setup house and live there. Positive thinking trains the brain to follow that lead.

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” Japanese Proverb


6. Take Time to be Selfish

I’m a full-time mom who’s screaming underwater half the time. My selfish looks more like choosing to shower before making everyone breakfast with an occasional pedicure, massage or craft thrown into my day. I also enjoy writing, so you’re currently reading how selfishness manifests itself there. 🙂 Mom or not, chasing a passion that brings happiness doesn’t always translate into dollars. Specifically, enough dollars to evoke some level of comfort. This is why people often answer the what-do-you-do question with, “Well, I’m a receptionist, but I love to write” or “I’m a waitress, but I love acting.” If your reality comes up just a little short of “loving” what you do, find that passion and never stop pursuing it, even if super part-time. Fulfillment translates to happiness.

time for yourself

7. Spend Less Time on Social Media

If you’re alive in 2016, social media is a must for marketing any business. It can also be a great means of keeping in touch with people you care about. That being said..

..sometimes we just need to get off it.

It can easily lead to distraction and more importantly, it’s not really living. It’s our lives the way we wish they truly looked and nothing more than a highlight reel.. a distortion of reality. Remember that. Take some time to unplug and focus on the world in front of you, not the world as it exists on a screen.


8. Rid Yourself of Clutter

Clutter actually affects our mood and our self-esteem, so less is more! Purge some belongings, make your bed, organize/pickup a room or clean out your car. You’ll feel a weight off for no tangible reason. Simple.


9. Don’t Overanalyze Things

Don’t get overly caught up in number 4. Don’t waste your energy on the past. Life is meant to be explored, not used to beat ourselves over the face with. Mistakes allow us to learn and grow and then… move on. And if life has taught me one thing, it’s to give people the benefit of the doubt. Phyllis is not a snob, she just has a resting bitch face. (I don’t know anyone named Phyllis). 😉



10. Get Enough Sleep

There is actually a study that shows that sleep deprivation affects the amygdala less than it affects the hippocampus, meaning that people who get less sleep are able to have no problems remembering sad memories, but have a tough time recalling happy memories. Also, by the time you hit your 30’s, your no-sleep starts to show. Get a full 8 hours of rest. You’ll be sharper and more productive.


There are two things about myself that I know for sure: I’m a creative spirit and I’m an old soul. I often don’t know how I feel or what I think until I write it out. Putting words down on a page has always helped me capture and organize my racecar thoughts. If doing this publicly also poses some entertainment for you, so be it. At least on the internet I can’t hear the silence of nobody laughing at my jokes. 😉 Having two insanely active kids rules most of my time. My kids are my joy and my kids are my life, but I know these days of superheroes and petty tantrums will expire (I’ve been told by liars that these days flee quickly) and I will be left to my own thoughts and my own time again. My goal is to maintain a functional brain through this child tornado and still be available to conversate at an adult level once I can crawl back out of my underground safe house. I’d like to think there’s a sea of mom’s out there that share my same goals. Avoid loss of sanity. Maintain ability to speak.

It’s amazing how goals change, isn’t it? My goals in my early 20’s were simple; I dreamed them up and I executed them. I worked a corporate job at Microsoft and moved on to a more creative job doing hair extensions out of a lavish building in a ritzy area. I just used the word “ritzy.” Is my age showing? Anyway, something about being married to a dazzling source of encouragement pushed me to leap quickly and confidently. I also enjoyed my time as an aerospace engineer. That’s not true. But, doing part-time hair and having a blonde butterball toddler was a great balance. It didn’t live long, though. Enter baby #2.

I never understood how someone’s screaming child could be their greatest joy until I had some of my own. My babies are a joyful mess. The same dirty-with-chocolate-because-they-broke-into-mommy-and-daddy’s-chocolate-stash-AGAIN faces that I want to darn near ship across the Pacific are the faces that light me up. They drain me and they charge me. There are days I could snap them in half, and yet, I’d never let anyone harm a hair on their sweet bouncy heads. Am I making sense? And why do I feel like I’m yelling?

As my 30’s welcomed me in, they immediately taught me that dumb things (like dressing up to go to the grocery store, having copious amounts of Facebook friends, fitting in and wrinkles) don’t actually matter. There are things that aren’t worth the energy I just spent typing out this sentence. I’ve always felt like a bit of an old soul and the collision of that with my current decade has been a little blissful. My ever-changing mind (and by changing, I really mean shrinking) feels like it has commonsensically grown into those metaphorical shoes that were always a little too big on me.

Next time I find myself losing my train of thought mid-conversation because I’m watching my children throw dirt in the faces of strangers, I will reread this to remind myself there is joy lost in there somewhere. And maybe hum a little Frank Sinatra. 😉


Welcome to my virtual happy place.


KatchMoments Photography