Where do you buy your clothes?

I have about 4 places that I go back to over and over and always love what I find. Maurice’s, Anthropology, Altr’d State, and Stitch Fix. I have been doing Stitch Fix for nearly 5 years now and I just love it. We live in Montana so we don’t have many stores to choose from but Stitch Fix makes it easy to find specifics that I am looking for. I have loved Maurice’s since college and I find plenty of cute things there that hold up nicely to the job of motherhood. I originally started shopping at Anthropology and Altr’d State this last year while at The Mall of America when I would go out to MN for my Mayo Clinic trips. Anthropology can be pricey so I stick with classic pieces that are neutral and can be worn over and over and not go out of style. Altr’d State is “Lexi” in a store. All the florals, all the feminine, all the leopard and lace. I have yet to go in and not walk out with a bag of new treasures.

Do you have a cleaning routine or schedule?

Yes and no. Because I live my life with a chronic illness and many physical limitations, I have cleaners come do cleaning for me twice a month. Outside of that, I have taught my kiddos how to clean and we all work together. We do a nightly “tidy up” for 20 minutes and we can usually get the entire main floor looking nice in those 20 minutes. I have a very favorite book called “The House That Cleans Itself”. Check it out and you will see what I mean. It really helped me look at my home in areas and how to make each area functional so that we don’t end up with clutter and piles and such everywhere.

How do you budget?

Oh boy, finances. Tricky subject. In 2009 Clint and I were introduced to the Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It was very hard at first and it took us about 6 months to get adjusted, but after that we were in a good routine. We both agreed that our priority was to be debt free, including our home. In 2012 we were able to make the last payment on our home loan and we never plan to go back in to debt again. There are so many things that I could say about this. We had to be very disciplined and keep our eye on the prize. We avoided Target, we found cheap ways to have date night, and bough nearly all of our baby items used or on sale. I will be sure to write a post or two detailing more about how I make our specific budget for all the basics.

How do you talk to your kids about Chronic Illness?

For my kids, it has been part of their everyday life. At first, it was hard because we didn’t know that me being “sick” would be long term. Once we got more answers about my diagnosis, it was important that we told them about how I need extra rest, what I can and cannot do, and my medical treatments. My girls are old enough to come with me every Saturday to my weekend infusion and they see that it is not scary and doesn’t hurt me. Harrison is still a bit young but my “limitations” are just normal to him and we have adjusted our lifestyle as an entire family. And all 3 of my kiddos LOVE helping me and spending time with me in my room.

Was going to the Mayo Clinic worth it?

Yes, yes, enthusiastically YES! You can read more about my trips and experiences in my posts, but yes. All of the trips were very hard, painful, and expensive. The information that we learned and the treatments that were offered have made a HUGE difference in my life. The doctors there are phenomenal and even the support staff made me feel at ease and reassured. Email me if you have more specific questions, I would love to offer my help and advice.

What is your favorite lipstick?

Favorite lip stain is the Younique “Sucker Punched” lip stain. Favorite everyday lipstick is Dior “Rialto” cream lipstick. My favorite long wear lipstick is Maybaline 14 hour in color “Please Stay Plum”. I have one of each those at my vanity, in my purse, in my van, and in my work bag.

What is your favorite nail polish?

I have the best combo that I use over and over. I use OPI nail envy base coat, OPI or Essie color and the Essie Gel topcoat. I can get 7-10 days out of a manicure using these polishes. Using a 100% acetone remover is important as a first step to remove the oils from your nails.

What are your favorite shows for a sick day?

Gilmore Girls on repeat over here! I just love the quick wit and banter. My girls love to watch 19 kids and counting (they are too young to know about the controversy) and American Ninja warrior. Weekly, I love to watch Dancing With The Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, and Counting On. And my favorite “guilty tv” is The Bachelor.

How do you plan ahead for the holidays?

I always have to be really ahead of schedule for the holidays just so I don’t burn myself out or work my way to bed rest. I am all about the lists. I have lists in my dsayplanner (in the back notes section) for each holiday. I make lists in my phone as well. I write out what we will serve for the holiday meals, which gifts to buy, what needs to be ordered, and what prep work can be done ahead of time. Then about 4 weeks before, I start my shopping slowly and doing the gifts. I ask for LOTS of help.

Any tips for traveling with young kids?

Yes, my advice is always “the more you do it, the easier and easier it gets”. Don’t fear taking trips with your kids just because it will have extra challenges. Traveling with kids can be really fun and full of laughs. They get the hang of how to keep themselves busy and you learn to keep your focus on the trip and not be distracted. Sleep will be less and it will be exhausting at first. But it gets easier and more fun. I like to pack each toddler a small bag with snacks, stickers, a notebook and pencil, and a small toy. Other than that we just talk and talk and talk and explore.

When and Why did you start blogging?

I started my blog as a small personal project in 2011. And oh my!, the times have changed. I originally started Joyful Momma’s Kitchen as a little project to keep all of our family recipes in one place where my sisters and family could find them. Blogging was totally new to me and I didn’t follow any blogs so I was completely in the dark. I used Blogger to create my site and took pictures on my cell phone with ZERO natural light or food styling…..the food did not look appetizing. In 2012 my blog took off thanks to Pinterest and from there I learned all about food photography and blogging. Now I have branched out and I also run joyfulmomma.com where I can write about and share more than just food. It’s been such a fun hobby and it’s turned in to a way for me to have extra income as well.

How does your blog make money?

I will have posts written about this soon, but currently the only monetizing I do on my blog is through ads. I have ads placed on my websites that bring me income based on views that I get on my blog. Its not a “click” type situation. I get paid even if nobody clicks on the ads. There are many other opportunities for monetizing (making money) such as affiliate marketing (sharing about products) and sponsored posts (writing about products from a company that pays per post). So much of advertising is by “word of mouth” and companies know that so they want to reach their customers from that angle. I know I personally like to buy things when I know that others use them and recommend them as well. I will never post any products that I do not personally use and like.

What is the best vacation you have ever taken?

By far, Disney World. We have been 3 times and each time it has been amazing. We stay at one of the resorts connected to the parks so we can easily go back to our room for naps and such. I hope to go many more times. I have never taken a beach vacation but that is also on my “dream list”.

What kind of dog is Grant?

Grant is a Giant Schnoodle. Doesn’t that sound like a Dr. Suess name? He is Giant Schnauzer, Standard Poodle cross. We LOVE him. Zero shedding, no drooling, and very smart. And I just love how big he is.

How did you meet your husband?

Oh, I could write our entire love story….but that would just be too much for one paragraph! We met in college at a university ministry group called Cru (Campus Crusade For Christ). We were acquaintances for a year and then we started emailing each other (before the time of Facebook) and chatting on MSN messenger (now I am aging myself). We fell in love from a distance while he traveled the world. He moved home to Montana, and in less than a year we were married. He’s just wonderful and I am so thankful for him.