Favorites from 2017.

I didn't think it would be proper to dive into new content without taking a good look at what 2017 really was. 2017 was the most emotionally stretching year of my life! I can't believe it's already over, because it flewwwwww by. Like, hi and bye, 2017. I think having two little ones rocking my world has caused the social media mama prophesy to be fulfilled - "the days are long but the years are short." That phrase perfectly encapsulates how I feel about 2017. Perfectly.

I'm taking this week to share some of my reflections here on the blog. Want to take a walk down memory lane with me?


My Favorite Moments!

1. Bringing Daxton home from the hospital.
I know that this technically happened at the end of December 2016, but whew, the Christmas holiday was marked by c-section recovery and caring for a newborn, so it definitely melted into January (and February and March and April...) It was intense, but he was so, so worth every hard moment. I will never forget looking over my hospital bed and staring into his little lucite baby bed, sleeping so serenely. So big and so serene, my little sweetheart. I still get choked up when I think back to those first few weeks.

2. 10-year Anniversary with Stevie!
Stevie and I celebrated our 10-year wedding anniversary on June 23! We had THE BEST TIME ever at Bacchinalea, this ridiculous restaurant in Atlanta that I have always wanted to try. It is a total tasting experience, and for someone who cooks a lot, I felt like I had such a deep appreciation for how special this meal was. I could never cook up something that fancy! It was kind of an epic experience, and he gave me a beautiful piece of jewelry and I just felt like such a grown up woman. 10 years with this man! TEN YEARS. I love him more than ever. Marriage is the craziest experience. No wait, having kids is. Okay, THEY BOTH ARE.

3. Disney World!
I can't say enough great and grand things about this trip - I just wanna re-live it over and over again! We sooooo got bit by the Disney bug!
See more from our Disney trip here and here.

4. My 30th Birthday!
I lovvvvved getting to celebrate my 30th with my favorite girls! I felt really loved that they all took the time out of their busy lives to spend 24 hours with me - it's a big deal in this stage of life! And I always loved getting away to Serenbe because it's just mega lovely and inspiring and I always come away from the place feeling refreshed.

5. Tea time with my Mom & Sis!
I have a weird obsession with high tea. Please let me try all the high teas everywhere! Tea time at the St. Regis Atlanta with my mom and sis is something I will always treasure. I just love the whole experience and I wish it was "a thing" to do tea on the regular. Those Brits. They really know how to party. TEA PARTY.
See more from our tea party here.



Least Favorite Moments
(to keep things real)

My Least Favorite Moments of 2017:
1. Recovering from the c-section.
It took longer than I could have ever imagined. It took longer than anyone I've ever heard of. The pain was with me throughout almost the entire year. And still, if my kids jump on me while we play on my bed and accidentally land on my stomach, my gut wrenches in pain. I've seen my doctor about it and it is healing, but the whole c-section healing experiences was incredibly sluggish and unexpectedly AWFUL. I have a new appreciation for medical doctors and what they do - I probably wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that c-section. So as awful as it was, I am here and my baby boy is here! Bless God.
More about recovery here and here and here.

2. My experience with postpartum anxiety.
I've talked about it here, and I won't harp on it too much now. But it's a black hole and it requires lots of communication and tools to overcome it. I'm grateful for the people in my life who continue to check in with me to support me - it's been a long road! But life is too short to live with anxiety - if you battle with it, let this be the year that you seek help! Sidenote - getting help for this was probably my best decision of 2017, truly.
More about postpartum anxiety here.

3. Getting Slapped in the Face by my Son.
It was either get bangs or a tattoo, because I needed something to look different. So I got bangs! And when I went to pick Everett up from school, he FREAKED. He slapped my head and said, "Get them off, get them off!" Then he melted on the floor into a panic and silenced the entire school with his precious self. I have to say, one of my least favorite moments of the year. P.S. He likes them now. He even told me he wants to get bangs :)



Favorite Travels!

Favorite Travel of 2017:
1. Disney World!!!
We had such a complete blast at Disney and I never ever want to forget the look on my kids' faces as they met characters and experienced the magic. And the meal plan - no cooking for a week! SIGN ME UP AGAIN.
More about this trip here! (Don't forget to scroll and see Dax's face when we meet characters - priceless.)

2. New York City at Christmas!
It was kind of stupidly cold, but it was absolute magic from start to finish. I got to see so many dear friends, I got to take my boys on amazing adventures all over my favorite city, and I got to feel what it would be like to have kids in that city. I've wondered ever since we moved away. Plus, we didn't lose a week of Daddy time just before Christmas, since Stevie needed to be up there for work. This trip was an unexpected and gleeful surprise! Plus, I SAW THE FONZ.
More about this trip here!

3. Beach trip with friends!
We had our first beach getaway with our buds Elliot & Lena and Elizabeth & Garrett this year. It might seem weird that we've never really done a friend vacation, but we realized we usually travel alone or with our extended family! We haven't done a lot of friend travel so our time in Perdito Key with our friends and their kiddos was so much fun and weirdly NOT stressful at all.
More from this trip.

4. Visiting my BFF in Mobile!
After spending a year talking about it, we finally made our way out to Mobile, Alabama to see my girl Natalie and her husband in their element. They run a Chick-fil-A business there, and it was so much fun seeing their life and getting time with her on her turf. I miss my friendships so much, because it seems be the thing that I have the least time for, day-to-day in this season of life. Do any of you mamas feel that way? But when I get friend time, I savor it so!!
More from our time in Mobile.

4. Family Vaycays.
We did our annual trek down to the beach in Florida with Stevie's family, and it was just so low-key and wonderful. I love this trip every year and really look forward to it as a time to rest together as a family. We also did an adults-only trip to Asheville in the fall - and I CANNOT WAIT to go back. The Biltmore is mesmerizing. And just last week we spent time with my side of the family in the Blue Ridge mountains! I am so grateful for that time, because it's not often that I get to see my two sister at the same time! So so special. It makes me want to plan more intentional sister trips in 2018!
More from our Beach trip here.


2017 Goals Accomplished.

Because it's good to celebrate, even the small things.

Personal Goals Met.
1. Date Nights!
Stevie and I have tried to be better about going on regular dates this year, and there are a lot of them that I remember and cherish. Once we went out to dinner in our sweats, and I loved how we were so under-dressed compared to everyone else in the restaurant. We didn't care, we were child-free and comfy and it was awesome! And another time, about 2 months after Daxton was born, we went out and it was pouring rain, so we stayed in the restaurant for like 4 hours! We did dinner and dessert and 2 cups of coffee and kept talking until the rain lightened up - I will always remember that one, too. And of course, our coin jar date night! We laughed so hard that night. This is something I want to continue in the new year - having regular date nights, even if we just stay home in our jammies!

2. Getting help for anxiety.
Like I mentioned above, I struggled hard during the first half of the year with postpartum anxiety. It manifested in lots of ways and I was having trouble coping with simple, simple tasks. I am so glad that I got help early on  - it was super humbling having to get on medication, getting babysitters so I could go to counseling sessions, asking my mom to come over for extended amounts of time while Stevie was on the road for work, etc.  It was hard to admit that I had needs that I couldn't get met on my own. But looking back, that challenge is also my biggest victory of 2017. It took time to overcome that one, and I still have moments that tempt me to go back down that road of stress and worry, but I've learned over the course of this year what my triggers are and I am empowered with more tools to help quench a panic attach before it fully develops. It's been a mega victory and I am so grateful to feel better!
More about getting help with anxiety here.

3. Keeping my kids alive.
I'm just being real - this counts as an accomplishment right?? It was an intense year, learning how to care for my two boys simultaneously was like WHOA. And I was stressed! But they are alive and happy most of the time, so I count that as a win.

4. Investing in myself.
It was hard to keep a routine this year. It just was. But I did carve out time to get myself to the gym or Pure Barre about twice a week, which was a HUGE accomplishment for me. I also continued to create content here on the blog, which I love so much, and I continued getting educated on essential oils, which was something I was drawn more and more to as I learned about how to overcome anxiety. These things, exercise and creativity, are two major outlets for me, and I am so grateful that Stevie is all for me doing them. He's honestly my biggest fan and I wouldn't have been able to keep up this blog this year without his help - his taking the kids, his helping me time manage, his encouragement to get a babysitter so I could go to the gym while he worked. Truly, without his support, I would be a shell of a woman!

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Work Goals Accomplished!

Work Goals Met.
1. Keeping this blog going!
It's hard to understand the behind-the-scenes of what it takes to keep this blog going, but it's a goooood bit of work. Writing, editing, photographing, editing some more, pitching, accounting, advertising - it's a lot! I love it, and I will continue to blog as long as it makes sense for me and my family. It's been an amazing outlet for me creatively, but it's also allowed me to connect with brands that I love and share about them with you, people that I love! And like I mentioned, if it wasn't for the support of my family (thanks Stevie & Mom!), I don't think I would have been able to keep my head above water this year, let alone keep investing time here. I'm so grateful that this space is still such a special outlet!

2. Blog & Instagram Collaborations!
I love the opportunity this blog allows me, to work with brands whose products I love and use anyway. And it's allowed me to get introduced to new brands and find new things I love, so it's always a creative and discovery process for me. This year I had some interesting learning curves in terms of working with brands (like, the good, the bad and the ugly), but it's also probably the most fun I've ever had in terms of collaborations, including working with companies like Banana Republic (multiple times! Such a dream come true!), Ergobaby (another dream come true!), Earth Mama Organics, Workman Publishing, OXO, Pinkblush, Little Barn Apothecary, Mama & Little, Lucky Palmtree and more! And others on Instagram, like Halo Top, Dietz & Watson & Kroger. It's been so much fun! I can't wait for what this year has in store :)

3. Writing for 5 Minutes for Mom.
I love this blog for so many reasons, and one of them is the opportunity it gives me to write for others! I have loved connecting with Susan over at 5 Minutes for Mom and writing posts for their site! Those ladies are the sweetest and have given me the chance to write about some really amazing products. If you're interested in checking some out, just type "Kristen Hale" in the search bar.
Visit 5 Minutes for Mom.

4. Launching My doTERRA Business!
This amazing company made such an impact on my life in 2017. If you would have told me a year ago that I would eventually join doTERRA and sell the products, I would have laughed so hard at you. And told you I didn't have the time for that. Life is funny that way. You guys, I AM LOVING IT. I am still figuring out how to manage my time - doing mom life, maintaining and growing this blog and doing doTERRA, but I am feeling more fulfilled than I have in years so I'm going to keep honing in on how to do all these things well. These oils are so precious and I just want to get them in as many people's hands as possible so they can see the difference it can make in their own life. So yeah, you could say I'm pretty amped. SO AMPED. Let me know if you want more information about doTERRA, I'd love to share more with you!
P.S. - Shameless plug - My personal doTERRA site here.

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And there you have it, friends! A recap of 2017, some of the best (and some of the worst :) Thanks for hanging out with me here in this little corner of the internet world - it means more than you will ever know! Tomorrow's post is on your favorite blog posts of 2017 (and mine!)

xx Kristen

Tools & Sources for Getting Organized in 2016.

Friends! How is January going for you thus far? I have to admit, I am doing a fair amount of oscillating between being super organized and productive to being super tired and blah.  The up-and-down emotions might be due to Whole30, so we will see how things shake out over the next few weeks. But I did want to share a few planning tools that have really helped me shape some new discipline in my life. Sometimes you need to be outfitted to accomplish more, right?

My Day Planner.
I am a bit planner obsessed, and every January I am on the hunt for the PERFECT planner. Which seems to be a bit like a unicorn - something all the chic, superpower wonder women have but something I can't seem to get my hands on. I can never find the perfect planner with just the right amount of white space and just the right size. It might sound crazy to some of you, but I just have this need to write out my daily plan. I tried using my iPhone two years ago and it was TERRIBLE. So many missed appointments and I never felt like I knew what was going on. So when I heard the raving reviews about The Simplified Planner on In Honor of Design I had to know more. I compared it to a lot of similar planners on the market, and went for the splurge. It feels a little crazy to drop this much dough on a planner, but I had some birthday cash, so I went for it. You guys, I bought this gem in October (remember when I was feeling all kinds of inspired and disciplined?) This planner has been sitting on my shelf, staring down at me for 3 months, just waiting for its moment to be used. And I am LOVING it so far. It's truly my favorite day planning book. And if that makes me seem like an old lady... well, that's probably about right.

You Need A Budget.
I've talked about this before, but this app has truly become a game changer for us. When it comes to our personal finances, Stevie and I want to grow in our diligence, discipline, and ultimately, our generosity. This app, You Need A Budget (also called YNAB) is the way we sync all our income and spending, so we can see every transaction. I know that a lot of tools do this (such as Mint, which we previously used), but YNAB requires you to punch in every transaction you make. This seemed daunting to me at first, but I've actually grown to love it. Mint was too user-intuitive for me, because I never even had to lift a finger and everything was automated. Which means I just never paid attention and never really knew where we were at with our spending. With YNAB, I am required to go in the app several times a day and punch in my receipt to see where I'm at with all my budgeted categories. I really can't say enough rave things about this app - I just love it! And if you check out the site, it gives you tutorials and and a free 34-day trial!

Excel & Google Docs.
I would be lost without my lists. I use excel workbooks to keep all my writing work organized, both for the blog and freelancing - pieces I'm working on, pieces I've completed, jobs I've been paid for (and haven't been paid for yet!), pitches I've written, editors I've reached out to, brands who have reached out to me - everything! Because it's way too hard to remember all of that and try to sift through email months later. Keeping copious lists is the way that I stay on top of things and make sure I don't miss a deadline or forget to reach back out to someone. I use Google Docs and Google Sheets the same way, and I love sharing these docs with others if I have a project going. Stevie & I even keep a doc of all the home sprucing we want to do - decor ideas, furniture we want to invest in, work that needs to be done on the house. It feels good to mark a big "X" next to those items as we complete them. I even share a Christmas List Google Doc every year with my family, where we can all write what we want Santa to bring us (and then we can all purchase accordingly!) Seriously. Docs are the best. I'm sure tons of you guys use them, too, so it's not a totally bright idea - except that it is.

There are so many awesome blog posts around the web right now about how to get organized in the new year. I love January because it's the opportunity to assess everything and strategize on how to do things better. How to streamline and be more efficient and all that good stuff. I am feeling a spazzy amount of inspiration for 2016 (seriously, Stevie is confused by my vigor) and I wanted to share a few posts that have me feeling really motivated. People are so creative, you guys. I love gleaning from others' research.

Emily's Ley Preparing for a Big Year

The Private Life of A Girl 11 Productive Things You Can Do During the Holidays

Camille Styles 16 Quotes to Help You Conquer 2016

Darling 4 Resolutions to Help You Find Your Spark in 2016

DesignSponge Work-Life Balance as a Creative Entrepreneur

I hope some of these tools and sources help you get inspired for YOUR year! Happy planning to you! xox

Hello January!

Well, 2015. There you are.

I hope you are all staying warm and doing oh so swell. I hope your holidays were every bit as indulgent and satisfying as you imagined they would be. I took a bit of time off from social media and this blog after the holidays. I wanted to refocus, spend quality time with my family, catch up on some seriously needed sleep, and simplify all the clutter that has been stacking up like dusty old books in my brain. Perfect timing, too, since I spent the 10 days after Christmas fighting off a nasty virus and just sleeping. And then sleeping some more. I have about a year's worth of sleep to catch up on. Whew. We are slowly getting there!

I have really relished the quiet and rest that this month has ushered in. It seems like everything slows down in January. It's not too fun being outside. The dark cover of evening envelopes the day all too soon. There is a stack of literature that I'd like to be reading, and yet somehow Netflix wins out every time I reach for a book (we have really gotten into The West Wing. It's sort of delicious. And hilariously outdated.) January is an old friend with a minty-fresh feeling. It's the time for dreaming again. Planning. Goal making. Resolutions. Budgeting. Sometimes all of these things can feel overwhelming, I'll admit. But going through the motions and putting a bit of discipline into these tasks can really help solidify that refreshing, refocused mindset, which has been super helpful for this gal who has been living in a bit of a fog for the past 6 months or so. How has January been for you?

Here are a few pics showcasing how we vegged out enjoyed the last little bits of 2014.

// Skewed amount of daddy & baby pictures in relation to mommy & baby pictures. Which is fine by me :) Clearly, Stevie keeps putting all kinds of athletic equipment in our child's hands. And then photographing it. Womp womp. Note the adorable "Marry Me?" photo - found that on a walking trail one day! So sweet! I hope she said yes, whoever she is. //

As for 2015...

I'll be back tomorrow with some resolution snippets. Don't worry. I've set the bar hilariously low for myself this year. I've decided to set myself up to be a WINNER in 2015, which sort of means that my list of "resolutions" are, well, not super resolution-y. Ha. All you new moms know what I'm talking about (as in, a walk to the mailbox crosses off two to-do's on the list: making it out of the house AND exercising).

Let's kick it, 2015. Happy to be back!