5 Must-Haves In My Summer Bag (+ 5 kiddo add-ons!)

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It's the first day of summer over here, and we are celebrating! We've already had a handful of days over at the pool, but since both of my boys are out of their preschool program for the summer, today makes it feel truly official.

I wanted to share a few essentials that I keep stocked in my summer bag - the contents don't change much whether we head to the pool, the park or the zoo. I even keep a stocked kit of most of these in our golf cart, since we hit the town via the cart paths almost daily in the summertime.


1. Sunscreen.
This summer I'm trying out Coola for myself and Bare Republic for my kids. I am always on the hunt for non-toxic sunscreen that doesn't turn my skin completely white, so I will make sure to report back if I love these versions.

2. Lip Balm.
Lately I am loving this 3-pack of lip balms from DoTERRA. Obviously I'm a big fan of my stellar essential oil brand, and they have a slew of lifestyle products that I have really gotten on board with. This pack is one of them - one for me, one for Stevie and one for Everett (because he begged for his own and I'm a softie.)

3. Water!
I've been a bad girl lately about drinking water - I need to make a goal for myself and just chug it each day! I go in spurts with doing this well and thennnnn not really. But I do love drinking out of stainless steel - my friend Becca got me this amazing water bottle and I love it so much that I got them for everyone in my family. I am also a water hybrid weirdo - I am obsessed with sparkling water, coconut water, adding essential oils to my water, and Spindrift (sparkling water with real fruit added in - no "natural flavors" garbage!) So even though I have trouble hitting my plain-water quota, I'm still getting there. Technically.

4. Hat. Hat. Hat.
I am in a baseball cap 4 days a week, minimum. Mom life my friends. I found this darling hat over on my friend Sarah's instagram and gosh, aren't they the cutest? Might need to add this one into my summer mix.

5. Sunglasses.
Some day I will graduate to big girl sunglasses. But these days my sunglasses are just a pawn in my children's games and they really can't be trusted with Karen Walker sunnies. So I am always rocking a $12 pair from Target! I absolutely love this pair and this pair, although I admit, over at RAW Bronzing studio they have some incredible looking Quay glasses that I'm feeling temped toward ;)

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Things that I add to my bag for my kids (because let's face it, my bag is really dictated by their needs #momwhipped):

1. Diapers and Wipes.
If you're in this phase of life - yeah. You need them everywhere and all the time. And especially when its super inconvenient - that's always when we need diapers! I like to throw diapers and wipes in a large zip-top bag to keep the wipes from "sweating" all over things in the rest of my bag.

2. Non-perishable snacks.
When you're on the go, you've got to be able to pull out some yummy snacks! We love Annie's Cheddar Bunnies, raisin packets & dried cranberry packets, Kale chips, and apple sauce pouches. When I have a mini cooler to take for a day's outing, I will also throw in some string cheese, Cutie clementines peeled and pulled apart,

3. Band-aids.
Because for some reason, we tend to need them more in the summer? Must be all that running to fetch popsicles. These Oh Joy bandaids are beyond cute, but not really for my boys, so Everett loves these Dory ones! In fact he's been known to ask for a band aid even when he doesn't need one...

5. Bug Spray.
In Georgia, the mosquitoes have the power and might of small birds. And we have to protect ourselves accordingly. I have been using this Terrashield oil to make my own bug spray bottle and it's worked beautifully so far! It's a blend of essential oils that repels insects and it's basically become my best friend, because I have the blood type that allllll the bug like a taste of. Gross. PS it also comes in a Bug Spray form, I just haven't tried it yet.


 Bathing Suit c/o  Yandy  - top  here , bottoms  here

Bathing Suit c/o Yandy - top here, bottoms here

I'd love to hear what you keep stocked in your bag for summer adventures! Is there anything I should be adding into my mix? Would love to hear from you! Happy "official" summer break to you, friends!

P.S. - I shared more about keeping my skin glowing yet super protected this summer HERE.

"Mommy, You Were Really Strong."

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This morning Everett was in the bathroom while I was getting ready. While I was getting dressed, he noticed my C-section scar and, once again, asked me about it. I never want to hide the truth from him, but I always try to explain the emergency c-section I had with Daxton in a way that a 3-year-old can grasp.

E: "Mommy, did it hurt when Daxton got stuck inside of you and the doctor had to cut him out?"

Such a good question from such a little boy. Deep breath.

Me: "Well, the doctor gave me medicine that made me go to sleep, so I didn't feel it when she cut Daxton out."

E: "What did she use? Scissors?"

Again - such good question! I hated answering this one but I just feel like the truth is always best. I chose my words sparingly.

Me: "She didn't use scissors. She used a special knife that doctors use for mommies."

He was so pensive - I could tell he was really thinking about this.

And then he said the thing that made me crumble to the ground.

E: "Mommy, you were really strong to have Daxton like that."

Knees. Hit. Floor.

I held him for a long time. And cried.

Okay, it wasn't that long, but it felt long. I was immediately brought back to a moment when I was in labor with his brother, on my knees, bent over in exhaustion, the moment I realized that something wasn't working right. My 23-hour labor wasn't going anywhere. My baby was stuck.

This memory is so strong. I can still see the white tiles on the floor of my hospital room, I can still feel the too-cold air conditioning blowing and see the dim overhead light and hear the Johnnyswim album playing. I can still smell the Lavender oil that was diffusing - we finished the bottle during this labor. It was such a long time. I remember thinking, that was a new bottle.

The problem with a c-section isn't that it saves lives - because it does, indeed save lives. The problem comes and keeps coming long after the surgery is over, and that's the stigma.

It's unfortunate, but it's still true; those of us who have had c-sections wrestle with shades of shame. Sometimes getting a c-section can feel like a cop-out - like "the weaker" option. It feels like all those natural-minded homeopaths are pitying you when they hear your birth story. And I'm one of those people! I long to do things in the most natural way possible - unfortunately this time, it just wasn't possible.

I've battled with these lies over and over again. Sometimes I'm victorious and I don't give them the time of day. But sometimes, especially when I look down and see my scar, I feel a sense of regret - I certainly wish I could have given birth to Everett's little brother the way I was able to give birth to him.

So once again, finding myself on my knees on a cold hard floor, I hugged my son and rocked him over and over. I didn't mean to be so emotional, but something about hearing those words come out of my toddler sons' mouth was equally wrecking and healing.

I was strong. I was strong.


I need to remember moment like this one, because just like many of you, my healing from the c-section has been ongoing in an emotional and physical sense. This was another moment in my process that felt significantly healing to my heart. If you are still processing your birth experience, no matter how you gave birth to your child - I want to remind you with the same sentiment, full of a child's innocence and absolute conviction - you were really strong to give birth like that.

P.S. - My birth story with Daxton.

P.P.S. - Photo from a few years ago, playing on the floor of my living room with Everett.

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DIY Cousin Relay Races!

This post is sponsored by Taste Nirvana. All opinions are my own.

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The weather has finally turned warm for good here in Georgia! We decided to celebrate this happy occasion in a big way by throwing together a little relay race for my boys and all their cousins. Or at least, the ones that live nearby! It was so much fun getting these kids together and introducing Everett to the concept of relays! Daxton, too, except he mostly toddled around and stared in awe at all his big cousins. It was hilarious and chaotic and exhilarating and all the kids went home exhausted (#momwin). And as a result, now I fear I've introduced the notion of competitive play that cannot be undone. Everett keeps asking how fast he is, over and over again...

I found a few relays online and I thought it would be fun to share! A series of relay races could make such a stupendous playtime activity, birthday party, or even summer holiday celebration! And the best part is that you probably have most of the supplies you need in your garage. A big shout out goes out to my sis-in-law Lauren - she came up with the idea to host a relay race and I just took the baton and ran with it ( ohhh see what I did there? I might be a mom but I can rock some Dad jokes.)

You probably know how to put on a relay race (anyone else having middle school flashbacks or is that just me...?), but in case you need a refresher, the premise is that you have at least two teams with an even number of players working together to complete a series of circuits. The team to finish first wins! I picked up some practice jerseys for the kids to wear and used cones to mark the starting and finish line for each team, but you could get away without using them! The fun of these relays is you can really use your imagination - the sillier the better in my book!


Relays:

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1. Egg Walk

Place a hard boiled egg on a spoon and walk (or run!) as quickly as possible to the finish line cone, walk around it and head back to your team as quickly as you came! *We actually used some wooden eggs that were leftover from an Easter project and they required no clean up!
Supplies Used: These wooden eggs and spoons

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2. Golf Ball Waiter

Place a golf ball on a frisbee (flipped over, so the golf ball stays within the lip but moves freely). Using only one hand, balance the frisbee like a waiter and run to the end of the relay and back again. Then tag the next person on your team - the race is finished when each person on your team has gone!
Supplies: Golf balls, frisbees

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3. Bat Spin

Position a bat at the end of the relay (I mark this spot with a cone). Run to the bat, put your forehead on the top, and spin around three times. Leaving the bat, run back to your team and tag the next person in!
Supplies Used: Bat (any kind will work, but shorter ones will work best for children - we also used a child-sized golf club which worked just fine.)

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Other Relays:

4. Kangaroo Hop
Place a bouncy ball in between your legs and hop to the finish line cone, and then hop back to your team mates!
Supplies: Bouncy Ball x2
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5. Zig Zag Race
Place 10 cones in a zig zag formation. Run in between the cones until the end, then run back through the cones on the way back to the team.
Supplies: 20 cones, like these
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6. 3-Legged Race
The classic relay! Tie the leg of one team member to the leg of another and work together to get to the end of the relay and back again.
Supplies: 2 bandanas (or other tying apparatus!)
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7. Wheelbarrow Race
This two-person race requires one person to "walk" with their hands on the ground while the other person directs the human wheelbarrow by steering their legs (example here)
Supplies: none! (Other than brute strength)

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After the relay race, the kids refreshed and re-hydrated with coconut water, care of Taste Nirvana. Since I've partnered up with them this month, Taste Nirvana sent us some petite 10 oz. cans of the premium Coco Real coconut water beverage for the kids to enjoy as a post-relay treat. I'm a big fan of coconut water because it is loaded with potassium and electrolytes, making it the ideal post-workout recovery drink. This goes for everyone - adults and children! (Don't worry - there was enough coconut water for all the moms and dads to stay hydrated, too.) While I've been a coconut water drinker for years, I can truly say that Taste Nirvana tastes fresher than anything I've tried off of the grocery store shelf (I shared more about the yummy taste here.) All the cousins loved having such a special "grown-up" treat when they were finished with all that hard work, and after they devoured their coconut water they took to blowing bubbles and playing on the play ground.

Is it just me, or is this summer already shaping up to be the best ever?!

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My sweet god-daughter with two handfuls! One for now, one for later - gIrl after my own heart. ;)

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I can't get over Everett's genuinely precious smile. And of course, there is his brother, trailing just behind him and watching every move! Watching these two as siblings makes my mama heart soar.

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Lauren!!! She is full of all the good ideas, you guys.

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He's like, "I know how to blow bubbles mom."

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Aren't they the cutest in their little jerseys?

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My niece blowing her bubbles with that darling bow! I sent everyone home with bubbles because it just felt like the right way to welcome the season. Summer, you can come on over and stay a lonnnnng while!

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Sweet Daxton. His hands fumbled to hold his own can by himself, and although most of his coconut water ended up hydrating the grass, he was still super proud of being one of the big kids. I just love him to pieces.


Taste for Yourself!

Taste Nirvana is offering $6 off an Amazon order of the Original Real Coco coconut water, the Coco Pulp coconut water and the Coco Aloe coconut water using the coupon found here (the promo is automatically applied at check out). This code is good through 6/30 so make sure to snag some at this discount while you can! Even though I love the Aloe version and the Pulp version, my favorite is still the Original Real Coco because I honestly can't get past the fresh, honey taste. This is a stellar beverage to have on-hand to keep hydrated for all the outdoor activities that are looming on our summer calendar! Many thanks to Taste Nirvana for sponsoring this post; you can shop their yummy beverages here.

Happy Friday to you, friends! xx


6 Kids Books We Are Loving Right Now.

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Today I'm sharing a few children's books we've had on rotation lately! I absolutely love reading. You wouldn't know it in my current stage of life, because I feel like I don't have enough time for reading, even though I know it's on me to make more time for it. I've been doing a little better lately - I just finished reading Pride & Prejudice again and man, there's almost nothing better than that story. But I digress.

My mom told me when I was a little girl that she loved reading Nancy Drew books growing up. That really inspired me and I started reading the series, too, and that's what truly made me fall in love with reading. Such classic stories! I know my boys aren't old enough yet for those kinds of books but I truly believe that a love for stories and reading starts at this stage with focus from the parents - taking time to read to them every single night is one of our favorite family routines. I hope that my kids love reading as much as I do - it's helped me form my words and ability to communicate and understand so much of the world. It's helped me fall in love with writing! I hope that they find that same love for literature, as well. Everett is almost 4 years old and Daxton is almost 17 months old, and these are the books we've been reading lately with both of them.

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1. Polar Bear Polar Bear, What do You Hear? - sound book
Daxton loves this book! He cracks me up the way he tries to make the sounds of the animals (he basically makes the same sound over and over and it's so funny). He's at the perfect age for all the Eric Carl books and this one is nice because it's a little larger than this one and this one (which are also so great!), and it also has the fun sound buttons for each animal! Also, this is a great price point for a gift!

2. Little Blue Truck's Springtime
Gosh, we are such fans of this Little Blue Truck Series (the original and Christmas version are so great!), and I was amped when I saw this one in stores. It's actually much less expensive to purchase here. I put this in Daxton's Easter basket this year and I have to say, the illustrations are ah-mazing. Like, so so beautiful. This book makes me happy to read, and Dax loves all the lift-flap options on each page. Less words, more colors, which is really perfect for his stage. Although Everett has been swiping this out of Dax's room and asking me to read it to him the past few nights... so it really makes all of us happy over here!

3. Winne the Pooh: Original Edition
We started reading Everett this series of "chapter books" a few months ago as part of his bedtime routine and he absolutely loves it! He feels so grown up, getting to read a big book, and he helps me fold over the pages when we stop for the night (I know - some of you might think that's a terrible habit, but I've been doing it basically my entire life and old habits die hard. And also, it's kind of fun teaching my son how to read books the way I did when I was young...) These sweet stories about the whole Hundred Acre wood gang are so classic and darling and funny, they are seriously still relevant to today! Except for the one part when Christopher Robin carries around a gun and shoots a balloon out of the sky. That probably wouldn't fly in this day and age of children's literature... but still! Such sweet stories. We are actually re-reading the first book again because Everett loves it so much. We still need to rent the movie, now that we've read the books. This is another set that makes such a beautiful gift - even a baby shower gift! These books are really pretty in person and you almost want to display them.

4. Little Excavator
Oh, boy books! We have exhausted our copies of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, so this book came along with a fresh take on the construction process and Everett loves it! I don't know what it is about boys and big trucks, but it is such a thing.

5. In New York
I've passed on my love for NYC to my sons, and Everett absolutely loves everything about that city! We have a few books about New York, and this one is his absolute favorite. It's not too detailed, but the illustrations are beautiful and we end up stopping a lot because he has so many questions. I should probably do a better job of having books about our own home town city (someone leave me a comment if you have any Atlanta-specific favorite kids books!), but this one is such a crowd pleaser and most nights he asks to read at least a page or two of this beloved read. And of course, this leads to him asking all the time when we are "going back to New York to stay in a hotel".

6. Dragons Love Tacos
Gosh, is there anyone who doesn't love this book? We usually tell this one in a Boston accent (I have no idea why??) and even though we got it years ago, it's seemed to resurface in popularity over the past few weeks in our house and we've been reading it a lot again. It's seriously so funny and the expressions on the characters faces are just priceless. Great for boys or girls! And taco lovers.