Meet a #Mother - Alexandra Kuykendall + A GIVEAWAY!!

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Please introduce yourself and tell us about your family.

My friends call me Alex, so please feel free. My husband and I are raising our four daughters in the shadows of downtown Denver. We're not right in the skyscrapers, but two neighborhoods away from them. I spend my days driving kids to three different schools, staring at the mountain of clean clothes in my laundry room, and trying to catch up on my writing assignments. My second book, Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What's Right in Front of Me, just released in May. Last year I started The Open Door Sisterhood with my friend Krista Gilbert. We want to encourage women to walk through the doors God has opened for them.

What are three daily things you can’t live without?

Coffee. With cream of course. (Really I can't start my day without it. Did I mention four children?) My minivan. I drive lots of people lots of places. It's not the coolest car in town, but it's the most functional. My laptop. I'm a "writer" which is a special way of saying I need my computer so I can check Facebook and Instagram under the cover of writing.

If you could go back and visit yourself the year you became a mom, what would you tell yourself? What kind of encouragement or wisdom do you wish you had at that time?

There is so, so much I would say. "First- chill. Just chill. It's going to be okay and all of those feelings that tell you otherwise are called hormones. You'll have them for a while with nursing and all, so get used to the emotional ups and downs." I had a nurse tell me about a week after I got home from the hospital with my first baby that the same hormone that produces breast milk produces tears. I have NO idea if this is true, but it sure was helpful when I heard it (I was kind of nonstop crying) so I tell people that nugget of wisdom all of the time. I would also say, "Your husband is not the enemy. It might feel like it. You might resent his glamorous life of sleeping through the baby's cries and not noticing the smell of the soiled diapers and absence of leaky boobs. But this will be his first baby too and he is even more clueless than you are." I can see all of that now, but sometimes I just wanted to pinch him in the middle of the night so he'd wake up.

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What is something you strive to be intentional about? As a mother, how do you accomplish that in your day-to-day?

I try to help my kids see where they are naturally talented. I know everyone is unique and part of our job as parents is to highlight to our kids where their strengths lie. We all love a genuine compliment, my children are no different. So I try to compliment my girls when I see them doing something well. When the results are a little iffy (as in the birdhouse is falling apart or the cartwheel looks more like a somersault), I can compliment the risk taking or effort or creative thinking involved. I don't reserve my praise for performance. My children aren't awesome at everything all of the time so I don't pretend like they are. I am however able to find a place to say "good job" in every situation. "You worked hard." "You paid attention to detail." "You tried something new." can also be genuine compliments that show my children I'm truly paying attention to them. So I guess being intentional in pointing out what my girls are doing well and doing the work of noticing.

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What does your daily routine look like? Is there any one thing that you check off your list that makes your day a success?

Well I have school year and summer routines. Are you ready for this? During the school year I get up with my middle schooler, take her to school before most others are up, come home get everyone else ready for school, drop off two girls at elementary school and one at preschool, get some work done or have a meeting or go to Bible study at my church, pick my youngest up from preschool, let her watch some TV while I work some more, pick my middle schooler up from school, drop her off at home, pick my elementary girls up from school, take them home. And then if it's soccer season take one or more to soccer practice, come home and hope I had the forethought to shop, and even some days prep, for dinner, get everyone to bed later than I should and done. There is lots of attempted work squeezed into moments along the way. At bedtime, at soccer practice in my car, early mornings are when I can do a little bit of work. And summer, well it's all up in the air. As far as daily success, I always do better if I get up before everyone else. It allows me a few minutes of quiet with my coffee and some prayers to thank God for the gift of a day he has offered.

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What has been your best #mothermoment?

Oh this is hard. I'm sure I don't have a "best" moment. I have many favorite ones though. A very special day in the last year was the day Denver celebrated the Broncos winning the Super Bowl with a parade. This sounds so weird for me to say because I'm not even a football fan. I don't own a Broncos t-shirt. But it was a perfect family day. It was the week after the game, snow on the ground but blue skies and sun, Denver weather at its best. It felt like the whole city took the day off and kids were excused from school. We took the bus downtown in all of our blue and orange with everyone else equally dressed in the ridiculous and we had a big party. Over a million people big. And in the crowds of people twenty deep on the sidewalk we ran into some of our closest friends. After the parade went by us we walked to a restaurant and had lunch on the rooftop totally enjoying playing hookie. I just kept smiling knowing my kids would remember this as a unique day that stood out in the fog of childhood memories that blend together. No big mothering feat here. Except to remember the best memories are when we stop and do something out of the ordinary.

What was the worst? How did you handle it?

I also could say so many things here. Ahh, so many. Again I'll stick with the recent. Let's just say I've offered my children many opportunities to extend grace my way and accept my apology. I lose my patience. I yell. I don't act like the designated adult in the home with my own little tantrums I throw. I'd like to say these are all behaviors in my past that I'm done with, but with some regularity my imperfections come screaming back on the scene. Literally. My voice can get loud. So I ask for forgiveness quickly and often. If the thought comes to mind that maybe I should I apologize, I should. So I do. I want my children to learn that asking for forgiveness is not a shameful thing, it's the right thing. It's part of relationships, healthy ones at least. And by offering them opportunities to forgive, I'm teaching them a life skill that will serve them well.

What is your mother motto?

Do what only you can do.

If you had a day to yourself how would you spend it and why?

I would work. More specifically I would write. There is something about blocks of uninterrupted thinking time that helps the creative process. I don't get those too often. So that would feel like a treat of a day for me. No guilt? With my computer, some quiet and coffee all day? Yes please.

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If you could share one thing with our community of mothers, what would it be?

Give yourself the freedom to change your mind. We often make decisions based on our values, so we hold on to them with a vigor. When the truth is that same decision might not be the best a few years down the road. I've changed my mind about almost every major mothering decision. And then changed it again. My marriage and my faith are my non-negotiables. But even those don't look like they did 14 years ago when I became a mom. Thank God. And I really mean it. He has worked in those areas. Circumstances change. We change. We are happier, healthier people when we allow ourselves the freedom to grow and adapt to the life right in front of us. And when we allow ourselves the freedom to change our minds we have much healthier friendships with other moms. Because we are recognizing there is more than one right way to do things and we extend that freedom to others. And I promise, I'm not kidding here, there is really more than one way to be a great mom.

THANK YOU SO MUCH, ALEX! We are so honored to have you on the blog this week to learn and grow from you and double, tripe scoop honored to have you as our June giveaway sponsor because holy moly mommas this book IS SO DARN GOOD!!! You won't be able to put it DOWN!

Head over to Instagram NOW to enter the giveaway! One book for one lucky momma - Good luck!