Think Before You Speak.

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I’ve experienced a series of what you could call, unfortunate events.

Yesterday at the grocery store, a stranger told me I was so big that “this baby better get out soon because he’s going to mess up my hips”.

This past weekend, a stranger at a restaurant asked me if I was “sad that I’m having another boy and not a girl”. They said this in front of my entire family, including my two sons.

Then at Everett’s baseball game, a stranger told me a story about her friend who had six boys while trying for a girl, only to have her husband leave her and have a baby girl with another woman. “I’m sure that won’t happen to you,” she said.

Are you flabbergasted? I still am. Like I said, these are some unfortunate events.

Add this to the collection of others who feel the need to walk up to me, ask about my baby’s due date and gender, and proceed to tell me their horror pregnancy stories. Their emergency stories. Their near-death labor and delivery experiences. I don’t know why people do this, but they do indeed do it. They feel the openness and comfort level to talk, talk TALK to pregnant women. They wouldn’t do this to a stranger on the subway. I don’t think.

My response over the weekend was anger. “People should NOT speak to pregnant women!”, I told Stevie. “We aren’t dogs! Don’t come up and try to pet us and then say foolish things!” I contemplated not going out in public anymore, just to avoid any other triggering situations. Should women in their third trimester be subject to people’s verbal opinions on how they look?

Since the weekend has passed, I’ve had more time to think about it and I think I have actually learned a personally valuable lesson from all this.

I can learn from the hurtful things that people say to me. Because I am human, too, and just like my parents used to tell me when I was a little girl, I need to learn to THINK before I SPEAK.

Even though I was the target of these comments (or rather, my belly), the truth is that I don’t always think before I speak to someone, and as a result I could hurt someone’s feelings by carelessly remarking on something I don’t need to have an opinion on.

There is a reason pregnant women don’t want to tell people their chosen baby name, the baby’s gender, OR their due date. They don’t need to hear commentary from a stranger who isn’t invested in this baby. They don’t need to hear insensitive remarks. I didn’t need that over the weekend, as I felt puffier than ever and really, really tired.

This is such a lovely community of friends here, so I don’t share this because I feel attacked here. The opposite in fact. But I think we could all use the reminder (myself included) to do as our mothers told us when we were little, and THINK before we SPEAK. You never know how your own random words can seriously rattle someone, even if you walk away and don’t think a thing of it. That pregnant, hormonal woman (who knows exactly how big she looks, by the way), is most likely dealing with her own insecurities, fears and anticipation (as well as an array of discomforts!) and doesn’t need a strangers’ input/commentary.

If you see a pregnant woman and are desperate to say something to them because you just REALLY can’t help yourself, there are two appropriate things you can say:

1. How are you feeling?
2. You look wonderful!

That’s all! There is no need for you to follow up with your own stories or input. Because without even realizing it, that woman is definitely reading between the lines of what you’ve already said (pregnancy hormones make us extra sensitive!!!), so those few words are more than enough.

I share this today so that we can all be more aware and sensitive to those around us. Our words are powerful, they hold weight and they can make a difference in someone’s day. Today is a great day to brighten someone’s day with your powerful, KIND words!

P.S. - Just so you know, after that women’s comments at the grocery store, I stumbled upon an enormous, beautiful pre-lit Christmas wreath in the store, and I BOUGHT IT. So don’t feel bad for me - Costco seems to always have my back.

The Boys Right Now.

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Everett. Four and a half going on seventeen. Right now you are so much fun I can hardly stand it. I keep telling you to stop growing up and you keep telling me you’re going to keep doing it.

You love playing Candyland, we play it at least 3 times a day. Your favorite card is the ice cream floats, because you love ice cream AND because it bumps you so close to the finish line. Which you remind me of, every time.

Lately you have been telling me, “I’ll love you forever mommy and I’ll never stop loving you”. And you are also saying, “I love you 100”. There are really no words to describe how it feels when you tell me these things. I LOVE YOU FOREVER 100 TOO!!!

You are continuously working on your worksheets from school, even when we are at home and not talking about school work. You’re getting so good at your name that now you are practicing writing Daxton’s name and it makes me so happy when you are so proud of your work.

You are eating so good these days, my love, and GOSH is it a relief after the journey we’ve had. I am so proud of you for eating your broccoli, even if we do douse it with an extreme dose of parmesan cheese.

And you are so helpful with your brother, letting him know when his behavior warrants a discipline. I’m sure he appreciates it, but not as much as I do. You are going to make a great daddy with all this practice you’re getting these days!

You are so thoughtful, asking the best questions. Questions that make me ask myself questions! Like, “Mom, what is prison? How do you get there?” Omg.

You run so fast, Everett. I cannot wait to see where those legs take you.

We are reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe right now before bedtime, and you keep saying you want the witch to win, which makes me giggle. I can’t wait for you to figure out that she’s really the bad guy.

You refuse to nap, so we are in that stage where you are having “rest time” and somehow finding ways to get out of it. You are quite the negotiator! But seriously - I miss the days when you napped.

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Daxton.

My two-year old. You big, beautiful burly babe. You have gotten so snuggly with me lately, which is really making my life. I don’t care what else is happening in the world when I’m snuggling with you - it’s just that good!

You are speaking so well, repeating everything you hear your brother say. It makes my heart soar to hear you say, “I wuv you, Ev-wett” when we put you boys to bed at night. And you say “Thank you, mama” about 10 times a day which makes all of my insides smile. You make me SO happy.

And watching you and Everett play together is exactly what I dreamed and hoped it would be all those months when I was pregnant with you and imagining the brotherhood you two would share.

Your hair is so, so soft. I hope it stays that way forever.

You are experiencing a good dose of the 2’s right now, so discipline is happening around the clock. I hope you will understand in the future that it’s all for your good and because we love you.

You also have decided to follow in your brother’s footsteps when it comes to his repulsion of most foods. Thankfully he has grown out of that, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed (and trying to stress less) that you will soon grow out of it, too.

Speaking of, you still call snacks “Thuhhhhh” and as much as I want you to start saying it the right way, a bigger part of me DOESN’T. Because when you ask for a “thuhhh” I can’t help but laugh.

You are easy going, fun to be with, and you make everyone around you smile because of your smile. Even your teachers want to keep you! You bless me every single day. Although I’m pretty certain I’m going to have to stop carrying you around places because, BOY, you are growing like a weed.

Both of you boys, stop growing! And at the same time, keep doing it, because with each incremental bit of growth comes an unexpected amount of fun and I feel like we are all just in a really good groove these days. You two have made my life full, so full. I am overwhelmed with gratitude. I love you both forever!

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

Exercise Power Hour!

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The weather around here has been whack. It warmed up about a month ago, and then the temperatures decided to plummet back into the 30's like a big fat April Fools trick. It's almost Easter and I fear my grass shall never been green again.

So even though it's been stupid cold (sorry, my New England friends, but seriously, people live in the South to be able to enjoy spring temperatures when it's actually spring, which it is now, so I have no idea what's going on) - but, we've been going outside anyway. Every day after the boys wake up from their afternoon nap, sometime in the 4 o'clock hour, we high tail it outside and move our bodies. I've started calling this exercise power hour, because even though it's not exactly enjoyable temperatures (and my flowers haven't bloomed so there's no yard decor going on), it's still so important to move and play and get some fresh air. For their sanity and mine - cabin fever has gotten real around here these last few weeks and we all need the sunshine, even if it is still bathed in winter's chilly breath.

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I decided to start giving Everett some exercise pointers. I taught him how to do squats, lunges, push ups and planks. And since he loves to run, we sprint in between these sets and really get our blood pumping. And it's been SO much fun! Daxton just toddles around and watches us, but I actually picked him up the other day and squatted with him for extra weight and GOOD LORD. I could only do 3. That kid is hoss.

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My activewear was sent to me by Yandy.com and I chatted about the line over on 5 Minutes for Mom. Check out the post I wrote about why moms should never apologize for living in their activewear! Because for real you guys. It's my mom uniform.

Happy Friday to you, friends! xx

Lets talk about our pits.

Thanks to Earth Mama Organics for sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.

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Resurrect the word "Natural"!
I've been on a journey to find the perfect, natural deodorant. And when I say natural, I mean it in the purest sense of the word - natural. It's very confusing these days because "natural" is slapped on the front of any and every product as a sales tactic and I'll bet most people have become jaded to that word. Is it so much to ask for a truly natural deodorant that is free of chemicals, especially aluminum and artificial fragrances and other toxic fillers? Unfortunately these ingredients are sneakily added into products we use every day.  Don't believe me?

No #Fword
I dare you to pull out your current deodorant and take a look at the ingredient list. What do you see? A bunch of terms you can't pronounce? I'll bet you see the term "fragrance". It might say "artificial fragrance", "natural fragrance", "botanical fragrance" or "nature-identical fragrance", but it all means the same thing. Fragrance (aka "parfum") is often an ingredient in deodorant and an umbrella term that is used to hide the presence of thousands of chemicals - from parabens to phthalates to artificial preservatives like formaldehyde - say WHAT?! It's true. When the term is used, there's no way to know which chemicals are masquerading beneath that phrase. There is no further disclosure. My hope is that you don't see this word "fragrance" in your deodorant ingredient list, because to be blunt,  it's basically the F-word.

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My Conviction.
My grandmother lost her life to lymphoma, a cancer that is rooted in the lymphatic system of the body. Lymph nodes are located throughout the body, with a cluster of them residing in the armpit region. Your lymph nodes are linked to the blood stream - do you hear what I'm saying here? I take it very seriously what I put on my body, but especially what I put in this part of my body, because I really wish I had my grandmother in my life today. It's not even a myth that chemicals lurk within our everyday lifestyle products and are linked to traumatic cancers and diseases. It's time to take responsibility for what we put on our bodies, friends! I want to be healthy, strong and AWESOME for when my grandchildren have their own littles. It's why I eat healthy. It's why I work out. It's why I care about the ingredients in my mascara and my moisturizer. And it's why I'm critical of what kind of deodorant I put on my body. I'm sure it's the heart of every mother to be present and healthy for their families. I've realized as a mama that the choices I make today (even the seemingly small ones like the kind of deodorant I swipe on) can make a significant impact on my future.

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What's a girl to do?
This brings to me Earth Mama Organics' new line of deodorants. They are FREE of everything we discussed above, including propylene glycol, artificial fragrance, parabens and aluminum. They are specially formulated for all the phases of motherhood - pregnancy, breastfeeding and sensitive skin. Hallelujah. And there is even the option to purchase a mini kit of all 4, which I especially like, because they're super easy to toss into my purse and take on the go. I'll be honest, as with most natural deodorants, these are most effective if they're applied more than once a day, so I like to keep at least one mini with me in my purse, diaper bag and gym bag. When I reapply my lipstick or gloss after lunch, I do a quick swipe of my deodorant, too! The set contains Calming Lavender, Bright Citrus, GingerAid (my personal favorite) and Natural Non-Scented.

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Organic = Happy Mama.
Not only are these deodorants free of all the garbage fillers and "the F-word" we talked about above, they are also certified organic with a fully-disclosed ingredient list. It's actually many extra steps and added cost to any company that goes through the process to become "certified organic", but I sure appreciate when I see this label on the products I purchase. Because let's just be real - I want to smell good. And I want to put good stuff on my body. End of story.

Many of you know that I've been in the process of transitioning my beauty routine over from conventional products to natural and organic ones. I am thrilled that so many companies, like Earth Mama Organics, are committed to creating products that are safe and nurturing, especially with focus on the different seasons of motherhood. We mamas have enough to think about - what we put on our pits shouldn't be rocket science.

Shop the Deodorants: