August Goals

Aug Goals, Goal Setting | the Maypop

I love this vintage storybook cover for Mary Ware’s Promised Land. Find it on Etsy, at ReVintageLannie’s shop.

July recap and August goals

I know that some of you love summer, but I’m not one of those people. Call me crazy (or just 7 + months pregnant), but I am ready for shorter days, cooler nights, and for football season. Fall can’t get here soon enough for me. It’s so hot and humid here in Charleston, that I feel stifled physically and mentally too. With the exception of a few successes, July was a bust for me, and I’m going to chalk it up to the summer blues.

Successes –

1.We had a fun visit from Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf. And, I took advantage of this “Christmas in July” sale.

2. I checked off two items on my home to do list: I hung my plates and the fireplace is painted. You can see the plates here, and I promise to share the fireplace soon.

3. The boys’ room is coming together too: cornices are hung, sconces are up, existing artwork is up, and I found a dresser this week (technically August, I know). I’m working on a post about the boys’ room, but I did share a couple of sneak peeks on Instagram (@mrsmaypop).

For August, I’m not planning to set any new goals. My goal is to simply tackle the remaining July goals. My parents are keeping the boys for me for a few days, so I’m hoping to tackle several things while they’re gone. Wish me luck!


Here’s to getting back up on that horse and to trying again!


What are you working on this month? I’m linking up with The Tiny Twig and look forward to checking out the other bloggers who’ve shared their goals too. Let’s keep each other motivated!


share or save

Elf on the Shelf Gets His Own Door

One of my goals this year has been to keep Christmas all year. Mostly, I set this intention with the idea that “random acts of kindness” would happen more often, that we would give more generously, help more often, and forgive more easily, in the way that we all do “because it’s Christmas”. It was the essence of the Christmas spirit that I was (and am still) hoping to capture all year long.

Many of my own childhood memories of Christmas are wrapped up in the magic and fun of the season. My parents always made a really big deal of Santa and of encouraging us to Believe. For example, I have a distinct memory of my Dad calling my brother and me to the front door one Christmas Eve. “Hurry,” he said. “Look! See that flashing red light? It’s Rudolph, flying across the sky! Listen. Can you hear Santa’s sleigh bells?” Another time, I remember Santa Claus calling us on the phone at home to make sure we were being good. I can remember asking him about Rudolph and Mrs. Claus. My Dad has continued that tradition, making certain Santa Claus calls my own little boys.

So, in addition to keeping the Christmas spirit all year, it was (and is) important for me to capture some of the magic and fun of the season too. And friends, that’s just what we did Sunday night.

Our little Elf of the Shelf, Seymour, made an impromptu mid-year return visit. The boys quickly and excitedly spotted him perched on top of the table on Daddy’s Yeti.

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


After carefully removing him from the cooler with kitchen tongs (so as not to touch him), the boys were excited to see that Seymour had delivered a treasure of CapriSuns and popsicles. I let the kids drink and eat this stuff at parties, but I have never bought either for the house. So trust me, this was an exciting moment and very in line with Christmas magic and fun. (Plus CapriSuns were $.79/box at Publix this week!)

Elf on the Shelf | Christmas in July | the Maypop


Then, the kids immediately noticed the new door. Harrison, ever sharp, immediately knew that “Seymour had built his own door!”

Elf on the Shelf Door | Christmas in July | the Maypop


With this post from Modern Mrs. Darcy as my inspiration, I picked up two of these little MDF doors at Michaels for under $3/each. They measure ten inches tall; the perfect Elf size.

Unfinished MDF Craft Door for Elf on the Shelf, from Michaels | the Maypop

I painted them white to match the trim in our house (which clearly also needs to be repainted. And, I’d like to paint our walls something other than this manila envelope shade the builder chose, but we’re digressing deeply into not-in-the-Christmas-spirit territory.).

Back to the Elf doors – I then added an old large faux-pearl stud earring to each door for doorknobs. Eric pre-drilled tiny holes in the doors for the earring studs, and then we used super glue to attach the earrings. I’d planned to paint the doorknobs too, but I didn’t mind the pearl color once they were attached. Using 3M strips, we hung one door inside and the other door on the outside of the house. I don’t like that you can see the little 3M tabs, though, so I may end up cutting these off and just chance a little peeling paint when we remove them.

Here’s another shot of Seymour, our Elf on the Shelf, with his door. I think he likes it.


Elf on the Shelf Door | the Maypop

He even came back this morning! This time we found him indulging in a little frozen treat of his own. (Cue Olaf with “What Frozen Things Do in Summer”).

Elf on the Shelf Ideas |Christmas in July |the Maypop

My boys have been so excited to have Seymour return, especially unexpectedly and out of season. Magic and fun are in the air around here, for sure, and that’s really what I wanted. I hope they look back and remember these sweet summer days.

Friends, bring your elves back too! Let’s make the rest of July as magical and fun as Christmastime. Tag me on Instagram (@mrsmaypop) or post a link to your blog in the comments. Facebook is great, but it is harder to look back on it for inspiration. And, that’s what I want – to inspire and to be inspired by you.

So, please help me make this post an amazing resource by sharing your Elf on the Shelf ideas in the comments. I will do a round up of Seymour’s visit at the end of the month and link back here too.

Merry Christmas, in July!

PS – When I asked Eric to get in the attic to get our elf, he admitted that he was so relieved to see my labels and said finding him was a snap. He thought it was ridiculous when I was labeling each box at the end of the season, and he didn’t hesitate to roll his eyes at every label. My OCD feels so redeemed!

June recap and July goals

With all of yesterday’s fun festivities, it’s taken me a couple of days longer to recap my #StartFreshJune and to post my July goals than I’d planned. As awkward as sharing this stuff online is for me, it’s also been incredible source of motivation and feeling of accountability. So, here we go.


June Recap

#StartFreshJune. I’m so glad that I was inspired by Lara Casey to “hit the reset button”, if you will. Here’s what I was able to accomplish this past month.

1. Get up early. My main goal for this month was to get up earlier, and I nailed it! I’m rising two hours earlier on average, and I’m so proud of myself for fighting the urge to sleep in.

2. Improve my fitness. I was consistently in the gym this month, 2-3 days per week.

3. Read. I read quite a bit, but I didn’t log my books as I’d planned, and I still didn’t tackle a classic.

4. Make this house a home. We got the boys’ rooms painted, and most of the furniture and linens in place. We also put toy storage in the closet.

5. Financial. We paid off the credit card!

6. Keep (the spirit of) Christmas all year. Eric and I agreed not to do any Mother’s Day/Father’s Day gifts this year, so his Father’s Day was low key. But, I still wanted to do something to show him how much we love and appreciate him. On a whim, I gave him a new t-shirt as a surcee when he returned from a work trip. And, I surprised my own dad with his favorite meal – fried pork chops, fried potatoes, great northern beans, and cornbread – when he visited this month.

What didn’t happen? Well, we’re still not back to church. I didn’t finish the volunteer training I’d planned to complete. I struggled with my usual day planner and planning system. I put together a new binder and am looking for a new day planner, in fact. And, I’m questioning whether a true schedule would be better for us, especially for Harrison, after all. Nothing was curated – no recipes written or blogged about; no pictures printed. And, I’m still not blogging as frequently as I’d like.

Overall, #StartFreshJune was a great month. I’m excited about July!

July Goals | the Maypop

July goals

For July, these are my goals (same categories as I started the year with; just new action items).

1. Get up early. Interestingly, my usual little late sleepers have sensed me getting up earlier and have followed suit. So, even though I got up earlier this month than before, I still didn’t have the quiet time I was hoping for. For July, I want to work on getting up even earlier, on getting them to sleep a little later, and on creating a morning ritual. My plan is to use Hal Higdon’s The Miracle Morning as a guide. If you missed my post on books that will inspire you to get up earlier, check it out here.

2. I’m still hoping we can make it back to church regularly.

3. Fitness. This month, my goal is to try a spinning class.

4. Read. I am determined to tackle a classic this month. Determined. Any suggestions? I’ve attempted Pride and Prejudice and Brideshead Revisited and couldn’t get into either one. Should I pick one of them back up or try something else?

5. Make this house a home. This month, I aim to complete at least two items on my home to do list and work towards completing the boys’ room. Specifically in their room, I want to:

  • hang the curtains and cornices.
  • put up the existing artwork and wall sconces that we already have.
  • find a dresser.
  • install a ceiling fan. It’s so hot in this room that a ceiling fun is a must. I’m on the hunt for something that’s attractive, but this is proving to be a more difficult quest than I’d imagined, especially on a budget. Why can’t ceiling fans be pretty? Send any suggestions my way – think little boys’ room, somewhat traditional in style.

6. Financial. File our 2013 taxes. Don’t judge; I don’t have any excuse for why we filed an extension. April 15 just snuck up on us.

7. Plan daily. I’m a wonderful list maker. I have list after list of things I’d like to accomplish. And, for the most part, these lists serve me well. For July, I think I can be even more efficient by listing and focusing on three Most Important Tasks for the day.

8. Curate. This month I simply want to handwrite the family recipes that I’ve posted so far and print and frame two pictures.

9. Blog regularly. Again, I let a lack of perfect pictures, not a lack of ideas, keep me from blogging more regularly. So, I’m hoping to blog more frequently and take and post more bad pictures. :)

10. Keep (the spirit of) Christmas all year. I have some fun ideas for a little Christmas in July. I’m thinking Seymour, our elf, may even make a midyear appearance.

I’m off to a great start already; here are a couple of sneak peaks…

sneak peek mantel | the Maypop

Sneak peek boys room | the Maypop

What are you working on this month? I’m linking up with The Tiny Twig and look forward to checking out the other bloggers who’ve shared their goals too. Let’s keep each other motivated!


How to get up early: books that inspire

I’ll spend some time tomorrow recapping my #StartFreshJune and talking about my goals for July, but tonight, I wanted to talk about my main goal for this past month: getting up earlier. As you know, I chose to focus on this habit and made it my number one goal for the month of June. And, I accomplished it! On average, I’m rising about two hours earlier than I was the month before. Success!

I wish I could say that this were a goal I’d tackled and accomplished head on in June, but the truth is it’s taken me months to even scratch the surface on this habit.

I’m a bookworm and naturally inquisitive. So, when something piques my interest, such as rising earlier, it’s simply in my nature to research it further. As part of working towards establishing this new habit, I’ve read several things that I’ve found inspirational, and I thought I’d round up the best of them, along with a few key personal takeaways, in case you need a little motivation too.

How to Get Up Early | the Maypop

1. Steve Pavlina’s blog series on How to Become on Early Riser

I feel like this is probably the first thing that I stumbled across, and I’ve reread this series several times.

Key takeaway from Steve:

Going to bed early isn’t necessarily the key to getting up early. Steve writes, “the solution was to go to bed when I’m sleepy (and only when I’m sleepy) and get up with an alarm clock at a fixed time (7 days per week). So I always get up at the same time (in my case 5am), but I go to bed at different times every night.”

This was helpful for me. Some nights, I’m exhausted and ready for bed just after I tuck in the boys. Most of the time, though, I relish the evening hours when the kids are asleep. This is the time that I can get caught up on chores or projects or simply browse the web. I enjoy not being a slave to a bedtime but rather going to bed when I’m tired. I’m sure this is not true for everyone, and I know that many of you will need to go to bed by a certain time in order to even have a hope of getting up. To an extent, that’s true for me too; I do need a minimum amount of sleep in order to function. But, I’ve found that I don’t need the same amount of sleep every night in order to be productive the next day. Sometimes, I can get by on six hours; other nights, I’m still tired after ten.


Maximize Your Mornings Free eBook







2Maximize Your Mornings: Take Control of Your Day Before It Starts, Kat Lee

Next up is Kat Lee’s eBook. I’ve mentioned in other posts how helpful I’ve found her Inspired to Action podcasts to be. If you want to be a better mom, Kat’s blog is the place to start. I first found her blog when I started researching getting up earlier.

Key takeaway: Kat talks about “waking up FOR my children instead of TO my children“. This resonated with me so deeply. It is my mantra many mornings when I just want to crawl back under the covers.

Of the things that I read, this is probably the most practical. It’s truly a guidebook for starting your day with prayer, exercise, and a plan. There is little fluff here; it is a short but powerful read, with real tips for rising earlier and with intention.



3. What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast: A Short Guide to Making Over Your Mornings–and Life, Laura Vanderkam

The former sales executive in me especially loved this book. I devoured the statistics and the research, and I loved the stories of other highly successful people.

Key takeaways: This one is a bit harder to sum up, but Laura presents the idea of a “morning ritual”, saying that “successful people turn high-value tasks into morning rituals” and that “the best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation.”

Laura’s ideas are more complex that just the how or why to get up early. This is where I want to head next – creating a morning ritual. Now that I’ve mastered simply getting up, I want to work on crafting the right events for this stage in my life, my own “morning ritual,” if you will. I’m focusing on her ideas that these are activities that “don’t have to happen” and that “require internal motivation”.

For me this means I need to work on filling my morning with something other than unloading the dishwasher. I do love starting the day with an empty dishwasher. I love keeping the sink clean all day and just being able to put the dirty dishes in as we go. While gratifying, this activity is hardly requires internal motivation (arguable, some days) and is not exactly “high-value” or “success” building.


4. The Miracle Morning, Hal Elrod

Last, I want to talk about Hal Elrod’s, The Miracle Morning.

Key takeaway: While Laura introduces the idea of a morning ritual and talks about the morning rituals of other successful people, it is Hal who really lays out a plan for a purposeful morning routine. Like Kat’s book, The Miracle Morning is a practical guide, but it is much more than that. I don’t have one key takeaway; the entire book is so helpful. In fact, I would say it is the most helpful personal development book I’ve read, and I’ve read a lot of personal development books.

I can’t put my finger on what makes this book special. He does not necessarily introduce a new concept; Laura and Kat and many others have written about the importance of an intentional morning routine. Maybe it’s his process for personal morning development, or maybe it’s that he has such a compelling personal story. Regardless, Hal’s approach to creating an empowering morning routine is the advice that I found most helpful of everything I read.

I mentioned that as a next step, I want to work towards creating a meaningful morning routine. Hal’s book will be my go-to for how to do this. I plan to reread it and imagine I will reference it almost daily the next month (or months).


Fellow goal setters and early risers – what books have you found inspirational? I look forward to reading your suggestions!


Affiliate links used.


Start Fresh in June: Goals Update Part 2

As part of my plan to #StartFreshJune, I spent yesterday talking about my number one goal this year and my main focus this month: getting up early. But, I do want to also revisit the rest of my 2014 goals, so let’s take a look at those too.

2. Have date nights.

I’m eliminating this one from the “goals” list. Hear me out…Eric and I talked about this together, and we both agree that “date night” is just not a priority for us right now. I’m honestly surprised that we both came to this conclusion, and I could spend a lot of time on the how and why, but the bottom line is that we are enjoying this season in life when our children are little; we are tired; and, there are things other than baby sitters and nice dinners that we would rather spend our money on right now. This is not to say that our relationship is not a priority or that time together is not a priority. We’ve just decided that making “date night” a goal is not the approach for keeping our marriage strong right now. I’ll talk more about what is working for us in this season in a later post.

3. Find a new church home and attend regularly.

We started out strong early in the year, but we’ve lost steam in the last month or so. Mostly, the kids have been sick, and that’s kept us at home. I’m looking forward to getting back to church and back on track with this goal.

4. Achieve higher levels of fitness.

I broke this one out into two areas: physical and mental. I’ve been successful in both areas with regular trips to the gym, regular walks, and with taking mental breaks for myself. For June, I’m working on more specific action steps and also on doing a better job of logging my progress, especially with regards to my physical fitness. I’ll share those in a future post too.

5. Read more books.

I’ve read a few books this year, but they are not the classics I’d planned to tackle. And, to be honest, other than the two most recent books I’ve read, I’m having a hard time remembering what else I completed. As with my physical fitness goals, for my June reading goals, I’d like to set more specific action steps and also log the books I’ve read.

6. Make this new house a home.

I started out strong in the dining room, but then I hit a wall (no pun intended). I’m just lacking a solid vision for this room. So, as part of my “start fresh in June”, I’m picking a different room to focus on. I’m hoping the fresh start and clean slate will help me get excited and inspired again.

7. Financial goals. 

These goals are shifting with another baby on the way. I still have hopes of paying off the credit card and of not incurring any new debt at Christmas, but we no longer think it makes sense to put extra towards the student loans. Instead, we’ll focus more on putting extra money in savings to cover any unplanned expenses related to the new baby.

8. Set up a schedule. 

I’m revising this one. Instead of setting up a schedule, my new goal is to continue to set aside time to plan each day. Starting each day with intention and a plan has made all the difference for me. My new planner has also really helped. I’ll spend more time on this in a future post too.

9. Curate

I’ve done a great job of blogging about our family recipes, but I haven’t started on the photos.  As with several of the other goals, I’m setting up action steps here. Specifically, for June, I want to (1) write the recipes that I’ve blogged on recipe cards and place them in my own recipe box. And, (2) I want to make a specific plan this month for tackling our gazillion digital photos.

10. Blog regularly.

This one is a work in progress. I have a million post ideas; I just need to focus on execution. And, perfection is the enemy of progress for me in this category. For June, I’d like to post at least 3 times a week, despite a lack of perfect photos or perfectly staged parties or perfectly decorated rooms.

11. Keep Christmas all year.

This one has been harder than I thought. But, I’m still as excited as ever. And, I have a few “Christmas” posts that I planed. So, I’m starting fresh here too, after losing a little momentum. Again, I need action steps.

And, that’s where I am so far. I simplified a few areas, like date nights and finances. I shifted my focus in others, like a daily plan instead of a daily schedule. And, I’ve realized with nearly all of my goals that setting more specific action steps and logging my progress will be crucial to my success. I’m working on those action steps behind the scenes; some were too personal to share, and I’m still hammering others out.

What about you? Are you excited to start fresh in June too?

Start Fresh in June: Goals update part 1

Motivational quote | your excuse or your story | the Maypop

I recently came across the story of basketball talent Isaiah Austin. My own struggles pale in comparison to losing my sight; in fact, I’m not even attempting to draw a correlation between us. But, what I am is inspired. Isaiah’s mom told him of losing his sight, “You can make it your excuse, or you can make it your story.” These powerful words are moving me forward this month.


It’s Monday, and as promised, I’m back to (finally) revisit my goals. This post quickly became lengthy, so I’m going to break it up into a few smaller posts this week. This process – of actually reviewing my goals – has been much harder than I expected. It’s hard to admit that I have not been as mindful or as disciplined or as dedicated as I had aspired. It’s even harder to own up to it publicly. But, I appreciate the candor of so many of you fellow bloggers and readers who’ve shared your goals online with me. You’ve been an inspiration to me. And, while I believe I’m far from being an inspiration (yet), I hope that those of you who are working on your goals will at least find in me a kindred spirit, someone to identify with, or someone to grow together with.

Let’s start at the top…

1. Get up early.

Status: Not yet accomplished. I set out to make this my number one goal in 2014, but I haven’t really tackled this one. You see, I am tired. I am pregnant. And, I have two small children, one of whom wakes early. These have all been my excuses. And, while they are legitimate, and while I would even advise other mothers to rest as much and as often as possible, sleeping in (relatively speaking) just isn’t working for me. I crave some quiet time alone to plan my day, and I want to have a more intentional start in the mornings.

I see this as a cornerstone goal; if I could set this habit into place, then I think other healthy habits would naturally fall out of this. 

The other challenge for me has been over-thinking and over-planning how to achieve this goal. I’ve read lots of helpful books and blogs, and listened to a number of podcasts on this topic, all in hopes of getting up earlier. I’ve tried to get in bed earlier, tried to shut Pinterest down sooner, with the idea that better sleep would help me rise before the boys. These things are true; what I’ve read and listened to has been incredibly motivational. And, less screen time at night and an earlier bedtime would help me get a better night’s rest, which in turn, would help me get up earlier. But, the bottom line is I’m still not getting up.

So, my plan for June is to just do it. Just get up. Just put one foot in front of the other, despite being tired or not having gotten a full eight hours of sleep. My hope is that by just getting up, some of the other things will resolve themselves. I will find the time to squeeze in a nap or I will be too tired to be tempted by the late-night siren song of Pinterest.

I’m going to log my wake up times in my planner, and I’m going to log if I woke up before the boys on my own or if they woke me up. As a side note, I think logging my progress will be a key to success in achieving my goals in general. It seems simple, almost a no-brainer, but it’s admittedly not something I’ve done so far. Moving forward, starting fresh, I will track my progress. So, today’s log in my planner reads, “6:45, Whitt woke me up”. Normally, I would have nursed Whitt in an attempt to lure him back in bed for another hour of snuggles or cuddles. But, today, I got up. It wasn’t perfect, but it was progress. And, I’m  happy with that for day 1.

Here’s to starting fresh in June. I’ll meet you back here with more updates. In the meantime, please tell me how you’re tracking towards your 2014 goals or if you’re starting fresh too. I’d love to hear from you.



2014 Goals: Start Fresh in June


In a brief and brazen moment, shared my 2014 goals with you in this post. Since then, I’ve continued to be mindful of them personally, but I haven’t been brave enough to revisit them publicly on the blog as I promised.

In fact, if I’m being really honest, this is the first time I’ve actually taken the time to sit down and re-read them myself.

And, as I read over them now, I realize that I’ve been even less mindful than I thought. There are a few core goals I’ve kept in mind, like working out regularly, but I’ve honestly forgotten about some of the others, such as regular date nights.

Lara Casey is a huge source of motivation and inspiration for me. Last month, she wrote about starting fresh in May (#StartFreshMay). When I read her post, I loved the idea, but I felt pretty on track at the time…or maybe I just wasn’t ready to fully commit to restarting.

Either way, rereading my goals tonight has made me realize I seriously need a restart. So, I’m starting fresh this month. Anyone else want to join me in Starting Fresh in June?

#StartFreshJune inspired by Lara Casey

I’m printing my goals (for the first time, shamefully) and spending time with them this weekend. I’m plan to:

Review what’s working.

Refine what’s not working.

Redefine what matters most.

I’ll meet you back here on Monday with an updated list. I promise this time.

PS – Publicly sharing my goals is way out of my comfort zone. I’m insecure and terrified at the same time. Just needed to admit that.

Update: I ended up breaking up my June goals into two posts. Here is a link to Part 1 and another to Part 2.

And, I’m linking up with Hayley at The Tiny Twig.

The Tiny Twig