A Morning Stroll in the Boston Public Garden.

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We spent the weekend in Boston two weeks ago for Stevie's 5-year class reunion at HBS, and man, was it wonderful being back in Beantown. Living in Cambridge was a really special session in our chapter book, with memories that we often re-visit when we are telling stories, and I honestly can't believe that it's been 5 years since we moved. Until I remember that there are two children in my life now that weren't around back in our cold-weather Boston days. #wakeupcall

It was a whirlwind weekend being back on that immaculate campus seeing friends, and we both kept remarking to each other how normal it felt to be back, and how it felt like absolutely no time had passed. We were back to our old stomping grounds, having dinner with classmates, attending lectures and talking about dreams for the future. Truthfully, it felt like NO TIME HAD PASSED. Isn't that so strange?! A few pics below of our weekend.

 This view of the Charles River never gets old.

This view of the Charles River never gets old.

 The dogwoods were in full bloom and were more perfect than I've ever seen before anywhere!

The dogwoods were in full bloom and were more perfect than I've ever seen before anywhere!

 We were frolicking around without kids and it was WILD. Like, I wasn't holding 5 sippy cups and snacks in my bag. I was holding  lipstick.  What is this life.

We were frolicking around without kids and it was WILD. Like, I wasn't holding 5 sippy cups and snacks in my bag. I was holding lipstick. What is this life.

 The rhododendrons were in full bloom, too! Mental note - I need to plant some of these in my yard.

The rhododendrons were in full bloom, too! Mental note - I need to plant some of these in my yard.

 I used Rent the Runway for a few of the reunion events and was pleasantly surprised! Will definitely be using that service again soon!

I used Rent the Runway for a few of the reunion events and was pleasantly surprised! Will definitely be using that service again soon!

 Our view from up high. It was 55 degrees one morning when we woke up! with it being 90+ back in Atlanta, I wasn't mad about wearing a few layers.

Our view from up high. It was 55 degrees one morning when we woke up! with it being 90+ back in Atlanta, I wasn't mad about wearing a few layers.

 The block made me think for a mere moment that we were in London ;)

The block made me think for a mere moment that we were in London ;)

 Had to.

Had to.

 Some of our BFFs from our time in Boston! It was the best to catch up.

Some of our BFFs from our time in Boston! It was the best to catch up.

On the final morning, Stevie and I had a bit of time before our flight so we trekked from our Copley Square hotel to THE cutest little coffee shop Thinking Cup, where we grabbed some to-go breakfast sandwiches and coffee and headed to the loveliest of Boston's parks, The Boston Common.

America's oldest park featuring trees planted from all over the world (an homage to the immigrant nation that we are), this park is very dear to my heart and always the perfect place to stroll, especially in good weather. The manicuring, the flowers, and the swans - its truly the perfect romantic setting for a movie. Mental note - pitch this location for a movie.

Anyway, we strolled. Whilst chomping down some breakfast sandwiches and taking photos of ducks for the boys (because, Make Way for Ducklings). And we took way too much time doing all this slow wandering and ended up having to haul it to make our flight on time. Which we did! But it was a little close.

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Since we actually had time to talk without being interrupted on this particular morning, we spent our time in the Garden dreaming about the future. I don't know if anyone else does this, but when I travel I often find myself dreaming about what life would be like to live in that particular location. I wonder about where the good schools are, what people do with their kids for fun on the weekends, where the local cool places are to eat. In cities like this I wonder how people get around (train everywhere? Walk everywhere? Or still need a car?), how they function with 8 months of winter (yikes, bowl a lot??), and how different the life must be from my Atlanta suburb. Since we actually lived here years ago, the dreaming this time around got really specific, and Stevie and I couldn't help but talk about what it would be like to move back to Boston for a few years. There is just something so characteristic about New England, it will always take up some special space in our hearts.

But before we knew it, we were buckling our seat belts while we listened to the Delta safety information, and we were SO glad to be reunited with our boys just a few short hours after this morning in the Garden.

p.s. - that time I was gigantically pregnant in the Boston Public Garden.

Lessons From My Father.

I put together a little series over on my Instagram Stories about advice and stories from fathers, answered by women who I love and admire. Check out the series here!

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1. Traits I've Inherited From My Dad:

My Dad and I both relish the opportunity to be goofy and make people laugh. And we love to laugh at each other.

I love to write music and sing, so growing up my Dad and I spent a lot of time doing that together. He plays guitar and sings and led all the music at our church growing up, so he gave me lots of opportunity to join him and explore music with him.

Also, perhaps most importantly(?) - LORD OF THE RINGS. We live and breathe and rhetoric of Tolkien's brilliance and it's fine guys. We're fine. We're not obsessed or anything weird like that.

2. Best Advice I Learned From My Dad:

My Dad has always pointed me to the bible, no matter what situation I am going through. He has encouraged me for my entire life to continue reading the bible and find wisdom its teachings. After his years of exploring and studying so many religions, and after having his own spiritual experience which brought him to Jesus, he always points to the bible - "It's all in there, everything you need."

He also taught me to celebrate big - "Go big or go home!". It's probably the Italian in him, but he loves to eat, drink and be merry and he encouraged us to all live large and enjoy the moments life gives. My Dad knows how to have a good time! Which I just really appreciate.


2. What Dad Taught Me About Marriage:


Be quick to apologize. My Dad told me (and showed me), that if he was wrong about something, he would quickly admit he was wrong and immediately apologize. This is hard for me to do, especially in the heat of a disagreement, but when I am feeling really stubborn about something, I remember that my Dad would apologize if it were him. And that little bit of knowledge helps (sometimes).


3. What Dad Taught Me About Parenting:


Be a firm disciplinarian. My Dad was hard on me when it came to discipline, and he needed to be! I wasn't the best listener! He used to take everything away from me when I got in trouble - not just the usual "You're grounded, no TV!", but everything. No phone calls, no books, no dream journal - I had to sit in my room and stare at the wall. It's kind of funny to think about now but at the time I hateddd being grounded.

But now that I'm a parent, I get why it mattered. And I hold a firm line with my boys and believe strongly that if you discipline your children, you will enjoy being with them. If you don't discipline them, then they will be maniacs and you will never want to take them anywhere.

Also, he taught me that bribing works.


5. How Dad Gave Me A Head Start:

When I was a sophomore in high school I was dealing with frustration and unhappiness at my school. Even though I was a super involved student (cheerleading, chorus, theater), I was feeling overwhelmed in my classes (especially in math) and felt like I was falling through the cracks of my mega-big highschool. My parents didn't know what to do or what I needed, but they knew something had to change.

My Dad (and my Mom!) were always so for me and so they did all the research and ended up getting me into a smaller private school, where I attended my last two years of high school. I needed that change, and the school I graduated from was the perfect place for me. I was so happy there, I felt valued and had so much support and resources (especially with the math and science classes that were challenging for me). My parents didn't just make me "suck it up and wait it out" at my other school - my Dad did everything in his power to help me along and I know it was an expensive choice to make. I am so grateful to him because I can't imagine my life without that wonderful school and the experience I had there.


6. Dad One-Liners That Still Pop Up In My Head:

Oh, there are so many! Probably the one that frequently pops up in my head is, "Think before you speak, Kristen!" Growing up I never stopped talking, and I would say the most ridiculous things a lot - I was basically born with no filter. My parents would constantly be telling me to think about what I was going to say before I said it - not everything that popped into my head needed to be vocalized. And gosh, they were right. This is one that I still hear in my mind all.the.time. And I'm super grateful for it. And now I find myself telling Everett the same exact thing!


7. How Dad Showed Me Value Growing Up:

My Dad worked really hard to provide for me and my sisters. I was a really active kid and involved in every activity under the sun - I went to cheerleading camp every summer, was tutored in math during the school year, was constantly auditioning and performing in plays and chorus and had private gymnastics lessons for years to keep up my skills for the teams I competed with. Looking back now, I can't imagine how incredibly expensive I was! And my Dad had his own business so it was all on him to provide for us. He worked very very hard and never once complained that having three daughters was legit pricey! All that being said, he supported all of my interests and made me feel like all of those things were important and mattered. 


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Happy Fathers Day to you, Dad! I love you with all my heart and I am so grateful for all the life lessons you passed along to me. You're a good man and I have utmost respect for you AND - I like hanging out with you. xx

Make a Difference with Eye Heart World (+ a Giveaway!)

Today I want to talk to you about a tremendously important subject matter. My dear friend Natalie volunteers at Eye Heart World, an organization that works to overcome domestic human trafficking. I want to share about what they are doing and how you can be empowered to make a tangible difference, too. And I want to offer you a giveaway in partnership with Eye Heart World! See more about the giveaway at the bottom of this post. 

I hope you will read this post until the end and take a moment to check out the amazing initiatives put forth by Eye Heart World. So many of you lent your support during our Christmastime City of Refuge hygiene kit campaign and we saw our goal for that drive exceeded! My hope is that we can all join our efforts once again and lend our resources to this incredible initiative.


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Each and every one of us has probably heard the staggering statistics about sex trafficking. It's referred to as "modern day slavery", yet most of us drive to and from Target and Chick-fil-A everyday without seeing people working in the fields along the highway. It's tough to conjure up the reality of how these modern day slaves live and breathe and exist.

But they do exist.

What is it?

The truth is, this form of slavery takes place closer to home than I thought. It's not just happening in the far-stretching regions of Eastern Europe - it's an illegal activity that's been reported in every state in the U.S. If you're unfamiliar with what exactly it is, human trafficking is transaction of buying and selling people for sexual exploitation. Usually these people being sold are children, recruited into a system of forced prostitution between the ages of 12-14. 70% of these underaged victims have been or are still a part of the foster care system. The average price of a transaction is $90 for a service, and the child performing the service is sold up to a dozen times per night.

It's a horror.

Awareness, Prevention, Aftercare.

Eye Heart World is an organization out of Wisconsin and Alabama that is passionate about making a difference. My dear friend Natalie volunteers with the organization and reached out to me about all the work they are doing to make a change. I am so proud of her heart and efforts and I feel honored to share about the initiatives of Awareness, Prevention and Aftercare that Eye Heart World is doing to champion the epidemic of trafficking.

Awareness is provided through targeted training to health care providers, social service providers, and public servants, teaching them what to look for and how to respond when they encounter a victim, while also providing the community with awareness resources.

Prevention is done through The Heart Tour, a one-day event engaging young girls who are at risk for trafficking. Each event provides targeted education, tips for staying safe and focuses on affirming an individual’s worth and value. Through partnerships with youth mentorship programs, each attendee is sponsored to attend the event and receives the guidance necessary to become strong women in their communities.

Aftercare is provided at The Rose Home in Green Bay, Wisconsin and The Rose Center in Mobile, Alabama. These centers provide drop-in and residential aftercare by offering on-going individual and group therapy, life skills courses and workforce preparation. These centers serve as a bridge between the life of trafficking and the long-term care needed to live an empowered life.


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How to Make a Difference?

When people like you and me hear the statistics, it's easy to feel small and unable to do something to actually help the situation. I'm just a mom that works from home everyday - how can I possible help? Eye Heart World has a way for people like you and me to give and shop to make a difference. They offer a small product line that funds a part of the overall operating budget to make the Awareness, Prevention and Aftercare initiatives happen. And each of the products is stamped with the Eye Heart World logo and the "Carry The Cause" slogan leather patch, as well as the signature orange rose medallion.

If you feel so inclined, even a small donation makes an impact. And stocking up on gifts from the shop is a great way to support the cause and continue to spread the word about how others can make an impact, too.

or


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Carrying the Harriet Tote

Eye Heart World sent me this Harriet Tote to photograph and share about. Named after Harriet Tubman, this cream tote bag is made of durable-quality canvas here in the U.S. Perfect for practically any activity, I've used this tote for everything from grocery shopping to hitting the gym to picnicking in the park. It's super versatile and durable enough to withstand a weighty amount of wear and tear. Inside the tote, four lines of printed text serve as a reminder of the impact of the purchase made every time you pick it up. You can learn more about the story of this bag here. The impact of this purchase sponsors aftercare resources for a victim of trafficking on her journey to healing and independent living. I'm giving away one of these incredible Harriet totes over here on my Instagram, hop over for your chance to win one for yourself!
 

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Thanks for reading this post and checking out the work of Eye Heart World!


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.