Birthday Girl + 30 Things About Me

Photography by Gabi Wells

stock flowers |merricksart.com

Outfit Details:

White Maxi Dress | Studded Gladiator Sandals | Initials Necklace 

Today is my birthday and I turn thirty!! I’ve been anticipating this birthday for so many years and it’s nuts that it’s finally here! I’m not the kind of person who really stresses about getting older, and I’m really excited to be at this stage in my life.

I thought it would be fun to share 30 little answers about me from some of your questions from my reader survey I sent out earlier this year so you can get to know me personally a little better.

white maxi | merricksart.com
white zappos maxi dress | merricksart.com
white fit and flare midi dress | merricksart.com
ruffled neckline maxi dress | merricksart.com
gorgeous stock flowers | merricksart.com
white floor length dress
walking through the fields with flowers | merricksart.com
merricksart colorful stock flowers
studded gladiator sandals | merricksart.com

If you have any other questions, leave a comment! Here we go.

1. Where were you born?

I was born in Wisconsin and lived there until I was four. After that we moved to Las Vegas and I lived there until I graduated high school and moved away for college.

2. Have you always been into fashion?

I was never into fashion growing up, and we still laugh about how grungy I was for many years of my life, ahem, high school.

3. What did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was little, I don’t remember having a specific idea of a future job. I knew I wanted to be a mom, but I don’t think I had a specific career picked out. When I became involved in art in high school and college, I decided on that career path, but then sewing and fashion snuck in and took me in a completely different direction. But if you’d asked me this six or seven years ago, I would have for sure said I wanted to be a painter.

4. What is your favorite color?

Honestly I always struggle with this question. Right now I’d probably say blush or gray 🙂

5. What was your childhood like?

This is an interesting question I’ve gotten a lot of times! I grew up in a family of five kids — one older sister, one younger sister, and two younger brothers. My littlest brother passed away from brain cancer when I was 12, so a lot of my memories are of just the four of us. My mom homeschooled us until we went into high school, so I spent a lot of my childhood at home with my siblings. We had a low key home, and although my siblings and I were involved in a some things like piano, dance, gymnastics, soccer, and ice skating over the years, our home felt really simple and happy. Also my mom read to us a lot. A lot of what I do with my boys is modeled after my childhood, but I don’t ever plan to homeschool them (I get that question a lot too!)

6. Do you want to have more kids?

I get this question so often, and yes! We’d love to have one more baby. I love the idea of four kids, and although it took some convincing to get my husband on board, he’s finally good with four and we hope it happens!

7. What do you do to keep your hair healthy?

I get questions about my hair all the time, and honestly my hair has not always been good. A few years ago I was at my wit’s end about it, and started investing in better hair products. I shared my favorite shampoo in this post, and having a high quality shampoo has made all the difference. Also I only get it cut and colored about every nine months, and I almost always let it air dry.

8. What’s your favorite food?

It totally depends on the day, but I really love tacos. And chocolate chip cookies. And a really good steak.

9. Least favorite food?

I’m not a picky eater at all, but I cannot stand olives. Any variety, by themselves or mixed into things. They’re all disgusting. That’s basically the only thing I absolutely won’t eat.

10. Are you allergic to anything?

Yes! I’m allergic to sugar cubes, of all random things. Well, actually I’m allergic to the edible “glue” that holds them together. It’s also the same as gel capped meds, cause I’m allergic to those too. But the allergy was first discovered during a school project making pyramids with sugar cubes.

11. What is your dream vacation?

My husband and I both love to travel, and have a huge list of places we want to go. But there are so many destinations so close to us in Southern California, so we’re working our way through those. Those little weekend getaways to somewhere close by are perfect for young families! But one day I really want to go on an African Safari, and I want to see a lot more of Europe. Also my husband went to China last year and now I’m dying to go there. So many places, so little time!

12. Have you ever been to Europe?

Yes! I lived in London for a semester during college (which was amazing), and then I traveled to Amsterdam a few years ago for work (also amazing – I shared posts about it here, here, here, and here)! There’s so much more I want to see!

13. If you had a work/kid free day, what would you do?

Nap. Sleep. Rest. Lay on the floor. I’m tired.

14. If you’re going to the zoo, what are you looking to see?

I really had to think about this question! Probably the cats. I love watching lions, tigers, jaguars, etc. Also I really like giraffes and elephants. But actually my kids kind of hate the zoo so we never go!

15. Are you an introvert or extrovert?

I actually don’t really know. I feel like I’m a total mix — is that possible? Could I be an introverted extrovert? I really need friends and outside interaction, but I don’t need it every day, and I don’t like large quantities. I do best in smaller groups, like 15 people and under. More than that and I feel stressed. Which am I?

16. Where did your name come from?

I asked my mom the story once when I was in college because I get this question a lot. And now I can’t remember the specifics, but I think it was the last name of someone in one of my dad’s medical books when he was in dental school. Also it means “Strong Ruler” or “Ruler of the Sea.” If my mom tells me a different story after she reads this post, I’ll share the right answer 😉 But my parents loved last names for first names, and my siblings all of those — Janssen, Landen, Crawford, and Shepard.

17. How did you and your husband meet?

I shared the story of that in this post right here!

18. What is your favorite part about having a blog or being a blogger?

Probably the best part for me is having a creative outlet. I’m so grateful for a place that gives me a reason to sew, write, take pictures, and share ideas. It’s so good for my mind and my soul to do those things — without them I’d probably go insane! And an equally as good part is the community. I’ve met the most amazing women, both bloggers and readers. So thank you for being part of my community!

19. Why did we move to California?

My husband’s job moved us out here. He previously worked in Salt Lake City, and then got a promotion that moved him to Long Beach. We decided to live in Huntington Beach and lived there for four years until we bought our new house inland a few miles!

20. Do we plan to live in California forever?

We don’t know! My husband’s job could potentially move us somewhere else at some point, but we would love to stay here if we could. I never understood the appeal of California, and couldn’t ever figure out why everyone wanted to move here or why people came and never left. I lived here about 2 weeks before I got it. Yep, it’s worth every penny we spend on inflated housing prices

21. How do you manage my time?

This is one of my most frequently asked questions. That is the most difficult thing as a working mom, and I’ve found that the more things I add to my plate, the more necessary it is to outsource things. That allows me to spend the maximum non-work time with my family. The biggest helps are my babysitter who comes three times a week for a couple hours, and my house cleaners who come twice a month.

Also I’m a total night owl, but I find that I do not do my best work late at night — specifically computer work, because I do pretty well sewing at night. So I try to get all my computer work done during my work/babysitter hours, so at night I don’t need to use as much focused brain power when I’m feeling tired.

As far as my schedule, I have an editorial calendar that I always keep updated with upcoming blog content so I can keep track and plan ahead. It’s always booked out about two weeks, even though things usually get moved around as dates move closer. I also have a standing weekly appointment with my photographer, so I have to plan ahead to be prepared for each of those (and it also means I only have to wash and do my hair one day a week!! ;))

22.  What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

I’ve struggle with cooking lately. I liked to do it, but I find myself struggling to fit it in every night. So we do a lot of “free choice,” as the boys call it. Philip has cold cereal, I have veggies and eggs, B has a pb&j, Fos has a bagel, and San has whatever we can scrounge up.

I like to make Sunday dinner and always make an effort then. But for weeknights, we’ll do breakfast burritos, crockpot tacos, french dip sandwiches, or something else quick and easy.

23. What is your favorite thing to do with your kids?

Read! As I mentioned above, my mom read aloud to us a lot growing up. It was one of my favorite things we did together, and I love doing it with my boys. I’m not a big “play” mom — I rarely sit down to do LEGO’s with them or play make believe. I leave that for them to do together. But reading and playing games is so fun for me. We currently love to play card games together, and I’m reading Wonder to them each night, and we’re loving it. I think that’s a huge help in parenting — focus and spend time on the things you enjoy, and you’ll enjoy parenting so much more. It’s made all the difference for me!

24. How did I learn to sew?

My mom and both of my grandmothers are seamstresses, so it was important to my mom that we learned this skill. I started sewing lessons when I was twelve, and took them for about two years until I went into high school and things got too busy. After my first baby was born, I was staying home with him and had a lot of spare time, so my mom gave me her old sewing machine and I started learning again. I knew most of the basics from my sewing lessons, but I spent a lot of time practicing and studying my own clothes to learn how to construction real clothing, so most of my sewing skills are completely self taught through trial and error and a lot of ripped out seams.

25. What was your biggest challenge as a first time mom?

The thing I struggled with the most was feeling isolated. With nap schedules and the demands of a baby, I was stuck inside the house by myself a lot of the time. I didn’t realize how much I needed friends and a community until I forced myself to start a little playgroup with some neighborhood friends and realized how great it was to have that companionship. It’s so important to have mom friends who are going through the same things as you, and feeling the same things as you!

26. What is your guilty (sugary) pleasure?

Frozen chocolate chips. And not just any chocolate chips…these chocolate chips. They’re the best in the entire world. Also I’d choose a really good cookie over pretty much any other dessert any day.

27. How do you have energy with three boys and being a WAHM?

I inherited a lot of things from my dad, and one of them is being a bit of an energizer bunny. I can run off of very little sleep and be fully functional. I don’t drink caffeine because I’m afraid I’d rely on it, and after one energy drink a few years ago I was so buzzed and jittery that I never wanted to do it again. So I just trust my body and let it do its thing.

Also I’ve found that the more sleep I get, the more my body wants it and then I’m overly exhausted, so I just stay pretty consistent with a smaller amount of sleep (5-7 hours a night) and I’m good.

Oh, and 20 minute power naps are the best thing ever. I don’t always remember to do them, but when I do they’re amazing. I set my timer for 25 minutes so I have a few minutes to fall asleep, and then force myself to wake up no matter what when the alarm goes off. I’m a little groggy when I wake up, but in a few minutes I feel 100x better.

28. What are you most proud of?

The obvious answer is my three beautiful boys. They’re my life and my happiness. I love my business and I love creating content and clothing, but when things get hectic or stressful with work I always turn to my family. Spending time with them drives all my worries away. It’s cheesy, but it’s so true. I’m so proud to be their mama, and to be able to raise them with my wonderful Philip.

29. What’s your favorite book?

Truthfully, I have very little time to read for myself. I used to listen to audiobooks while I sewed, but now I listen to church talks. So besides reading to my kids, I haven’t read a book for myself in a long time. BUT I read a few of Kate Morton’s books a few years ago and loved them. So clever and such incredible unexpected twists at the end. The Secret Keeper was my very favorite. I also love everything by Malcolm Gladwell — his books are so interesting! Oh, and I’m a true Harry Potter fan for life. I cannot wait to read them to my boys in a few years!

30. What do you do to stay happy? Do you ever feel lonely?

I wrote a post a long time ago about some advice that my mom gave me when I got married. She told me that if I wanted to be happy, I needed to make my own sunshine. As a kid, there are so many people working to make your life happy and fun, but as an adult you don’t have that. So if you want your life to have those happy fun things, you need to make it happen.

I think all of us fall into a comparison rut with social media — I certainly do! But if I’m ever feeling down on myself or lonely, which I do sometimes, I force myself to do something about it. I schedule a date night with my husband, or I unplug for the night and just spent uninterrupted time with my family. Or I text my friends and set up a girls night. Or do a group text to catch up with a bunch of friends at once. One of my favorite things to do is throw dinner parties with my girlfriends (which I just did for my birthday this week), and everyone loves an invite to a party and a chance to dress up and hang out with friends.

Don’t rely on other people to make your life happy — you are in charge of your happiness, so make the effort to make your life happy! And chances are if you’re feeling lonely, other people are too, so be the one to help make everyone feel a little happier!

. . . . . .

I hope you enjoyed reading through those questions! And if you have any additional questions, leave a comment!

ALSO, don’t forget — tomorrow the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale opens to the public! I’ve been sharing my favorites of the sale over the past week here and sharing sizing and fit info here.

Tomorrow I’ll be giving away a few gift cards on instagram in the early morning, so make sure you’re following along so you have a chance to win and have a few extra spending dollars to pick up something for the sale!

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