My Thoughts on the Postpartum Body and my Fave Workout App.

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So I’m not one of those girls who has a baby, sneezes twice, and immediately loses all the baby weight. My body lovvvves the extra lbs it earned in my pregnancies, and always wants to hold on for dear life to those cherished extras (called love handles for a reason, ladies.)

I’ve truly accepted that I'm never going to look the same as I did before having babies. And I don’t want to or need to. I’m proud that I was able to carry these rather giant babies inside of me, and even though I wince a bit when I see the stretch marks on my belly, the extra skin, the cellulite, ALL THE THINGS, I am trying to re-train how I think about it, because those marks are all part of the precious map my body has journeyed in this season of parenthood. I'm not supposed to look like I'm 18 anymore. And I'm good with that.

All that being said, I am doing my best to keep up with my boys (because they are freakishly strong for being so young), and I do care about how I look (sue me, but I do), so I’ve been working working working on losing the baby weight. I still have a few stubborn lbs that are hanging on for dear life and sure, I could probably starve them off but gosh, that's just not interesting to me. Question for the universe- is it called baby weight if it’s been more than a year? DON’T ANSWER THAT.

This summer I have been disciplined without being particularly militant in my consistency (because there were mojitos to drink and pools to be purveyed), but I have prioritized getting myself to the gym at least 2-3x per week and taking care of this body of mine. It’s up to me to take care of this temple - not my husband, not my kids, not my friends. It’s my job to take care of me so I can live long and prosper and hang out with my great great grandkids when I’ve got good, deep wrinkles and quarters to fill their pockets with. I'm going to be such a weirdo fun granny, can't wait.

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But I'll be honest. I can't always get to the gym. And exercising with my kids is hard. I still do it, because that just life when you're a mom - you have to figure out ways to make it work. So maybe it's not the best work out of my life when I take them on a jog with me (we have to stop A LOT - because they want to run, pick up pebbles, play with bugs, etc.) but it's better than not trying at all. And that's where I'm at. I try my best. However, I've also been using and loving the Sweat app because it’s reminded me of all the exercises that I should *know* to do, but never seem to remember when I’m at the gym on my own. I've done the BBG program and I am currently re-doing it because I want to get stronger and more consistent with it before I move on to the next program (which is BBG Power and it looks hard!) And by the way, this isn’t sponsored or anything, I’m just letting you know that this program has been one of the main things that has really helped me develop a discipline and see ever so small, but present, results. And no one can take that victory away!

If you’re in a similar life stage as me, with little people gathered round your ankles at any given time of the day, I’m just letting you know that you’re not alone! And what works for me, may not work for you at all, but keep trying things that make you happy, that propels you forward, that makes you proud of what you’re working toward! You are so beautiful, and all your intention and effort matters. Because someone has to dole out the quarters 75 years from now. And with a little luck and a lot of hard work and positivity, that’s gonna be ME.

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Outfit Details:
Look 1: Yandy Sports Bra c/o (similar), Yandy Leggings c/o, Nike Flex Sneakers

Look 2: Yandy Tank c/o, Yandy Leggings c/o, Nike Flex Sneakers


I'd love to hear from you mamas - what workouts have worked for you in your postpartum journey?

DIY Essential Oil Bug Spray.

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It's that time of year - when the mosquitoes love to FEAST in the sunset glow. I love spending time outside with my boys, but we do seem to have some enemies out there with us, especially right around twilight. My poor little Daxton boy seems to be anointed with my blood type and we get especially bitten up in the summer months if we forget to apply bug spray. I really hate conventional bug spray because most are loaded with toxic ingredients and with our skin being like a sponge, I just can't in good conscience put that garbage on my children. But I have a great, easy bug spray DIY that I've been using since last summer which is completely natural, non-toxic and safe for kiddos - and it works! My boys have gotten used to having this sprayed on as soon as we get outside, and I do re-spray if we've been outside for more than an hour. This DIY is based on DoTERRA's pest-repellent oil blend, TerraShield which is so awesome and smells much, much better than regular bug spray. So it's a win-win! So without further adieu, enjoy this essential oil DIY!

Supplies:
- 2 oz. glass bottle (I got my ombre bottle here)
- Quinn's Witch Hazel
- DoTERRA TerraShield oil blend

Method:
1. Measure out 1/3 cup of water and pour it into the 2 oz. bottle.
2. Add 25 drops of Terrashield essential oil to the glass bottle.
3. Top off the bottle with Quinn's unscented witch hazel (this should be between 1/3 - 1/2 cup).
4. Shake bottle to distribute and voila, you're ready to say, "Shoo mosquitoes!"

Notes:
-  I prefer to use unscented Witch Hazel so that the only scent is from the oil itself.
- When making any kind of blend with essential oils, you want to make sure that you are using a glass contained. Plastic or other material can "pull" on the essential oils and release toxins, etc. into the mixture, whereas glass, aluminum and stainless steel don't have that effect with the EO's.
- I like to make several of these bug spray mixtures and keep on in the car, one in the stroller, one at home, and anywhere else you would find yourself reaching for bug spray! Like the Boy Scouts say, always be prepared!

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Interested in learning more about DoTERRA essential oils? I would love to share more about why I love them, how I use them, and how you can get some in your home, too! You can shop for them here, or leave a comment and I can invite you to one of my online classes where you can learn more! xx

Why I'm Taking a Weekly Social Media Sabbath.

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Two weeks ago Stevie and I attended his 5-year class reunion at HBS. We absolutely LOVED our time living in Boston (I can't believe it's been 5 years since we left!) and we had a mondo blast reuniting with so many dear friends over the course of the weekend. While we were there, we had the pleasure of attending a lecture about parenting in the digital age by Dr. Michael Rich (aka "the mediatrician"), and it was incredibly enlightening. I shared a quick Instagram Story snap about this and so many of you reached out and ask for me to share what I learned. So without further adieu, here are some of my takeaways, since many of you are parents like me, and navigating all the media access can sometimes feel like a minefield.


The Dilemma:

We have all heard some kind of scary statistics about raising our children in the digital age. Every generation of parenting has had it's challenges and opportunities, and this is one of ours. The use of smart phones, iPads, Kindles, computers and TV by both parents and children is at an all-time high - we are the first generation with this unlimited access to media and technology and we use it ALL.DAY.LONG. It's an incredible advantage and gift, but it can also be destructive and debilitating in our parenting game. Have you ever been scrolling on your phone while you push your kid on the swing? Have you ever sat down to a meal with your family and your phone is right there, on the table with you? I don't bring this up to make you feel bad - I'm guilty of all these scenarios! Attending this lecture was incredibly convicting to me and Stevie and we came away from this with a newfound sense of "we need to do better."


Detriments of Parenting in the Digital Age:

 

  • Less sit-down family meals. Because we're all busy, right? But if we DO all sit down together, where are the screens? Is the TV on, is your smart phone nearby or even in your hand?
     
  • Increased "babysitting" by handing children a device while parents do other things (cook, clean, get ready, eat, work, etc.)
     
  • Increased teen access to "the dark side" of the web, including pornography and cyber-bullying. 42% of 10-17 year-olds have ended up on porn sites and 42% of 4th-8th graders have been victims of cyber-bullying.
     
  • Heavy users of media showed (heavy users > 16 hours per day, light users < 3 hours per day), showed an increase in poor grades, getting into more trouble and low personal contentment.
     
  • Increase in media-related disorders, including procrastination, apathy, disconnect with others.


What We Can Do:

Some of these stats and information can feel really heavy. But there is hope! As we tweak our approach to media access for ourselves and with our kids, it can actually be an awesome tool for everyone. Here are a few of tactics to consider:

1. Consider taking a Smart Phone Sabbath.
This is my favorite because we can do this now! You can do this once a week or for a set period of time every day. I know lots of people who incorporate a "phone break" into their schedule everyday. I've been doing my best to put my phone away during meal times, at night after the kids go to bed and also staying off social media entirely on Sundays. I will still use my phone here and there on Sundays, but I only use it for that purpose - a phone! Usually to call my mom because my kids adore her. But taking this break from media has been super refreshing and doesn't feel like punishment! I am appreciative for this boundary of discipline for myself and I highly recommend it for anyone.

2. Bring back boredom!
The best ideas come when our minds can empty out and wander a bit. I have found this in my own self - if I am constantly filling the voids in my day by scrolling on social media, I can end up feeling fried and mindless at the end of the day. And this is true for kids, too! Instead of allowing excessive TV, video games, and other screen time to fill their breaks in the day, letting them get bored can actually be good for them! And yes, they will whine and cry a bit, but who else remembers being bored as a kid? A little bit of boredom is good for them and doesn't make us bad parents!

3. Use Media WITH your kids.
This was one of the strongest recommendations that Dr. Rich shared. He stressed the importance of engaging with your children while they use media, and making sure it's not a solitary experience. If your child loves a video game, play it with them! If they have a certain show that they love, snuggle up on the couch and watch it together. It's important to form these bonds and show them you value what they value. This also gives us as parents the opportunity to teach them boundaries with that particular media and ask them questions about what they learned.

4. Have a sit-down meal with your family every single day. WITHOUT DEVICES.
This was another recommendation that was convicting. With Stevie's work commute and travel schedule, during the week it's nearly impossible for all of us to have a sit-down family meal together. On the weekends our little family is inseparable but the weekly schedule is tough. But since we've made it more of a priority, we are starting to have them a few times a week during the week days, which is a huge deal and I'm already seeing the positive impact on my boys, which makes me so very happy.


I didn't come away from this lecture feeling badly about how much my kids use media. I actually felt a personal conviction of how much they must see me using media, and therefore will probably continue to place value on it because I do. And gosh, that's such a heavy responsibility. I just want to do the right things by my kids and it first starts with me. So I am working on incorporating some of these tactics and I hope they are helpful to you as you navigate this journey for your family, as well!

This is an enormous subject matter and I am merely sharing the briefest of takeaways from this lecture. Thankfully, Dr. Michael Rich has an entire site dedicated to "Ask the Mediatrician", with tons of resources, articles and even an opportunity to ask him specific questions about parenting in the digital age.

Tell me, do you feel like you could take a social media sabbath or digital sabbath? What would that look like for you? I'm interested in hearing from you, friends! xx

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