Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Mom, I'm Hungry": Nature Box

This post is sponsored by NatureBox which provides healthy snacks for cool people, including us (we made the cool mark by a tiny smidge).
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If taking your kids on an outing was a Survivor challenge (sometimes it kind of is), there's one thing you can't forget to bring. Not diapers--you can tape some cloth together if you have to (listen, I've been there). It's not a stroller. They're just going to try and climb out of it anyway. It's snacks. Because you have about T-minus-two-minutes before "Mom, I'm hungry" escalates into something nobody wants to see if you can't find something edible when hunger strikes. And gum doesn't count--I've tried that too.

This might be why having good and tasty snacks on hand makes me feel like the most amazing mom in the world. Forgot to sign the homework folder, found a six-week-old milk-encrusted cup under the crib and laundry's going on a two week back-up, but--Wait! I have snacks!  Best. Mom. Ever.

Having good snacks on hand seems like an easy task, but sometimes grocery store aisles overwhelm me, and my ADD kicks in right when I hit the produce aisle. So many foods, I sometimes forget everything I ever knew about what to buy.

Which is why I love me some NatureBox. No standing in the produce aisle, wondering what aisle to hit next. You pick your snacks with just a few clicks...(here comes the best part)...from home.

NatureBox is a subscription service that allows you to discover creative healthy snacks on a monthly basis, conveniently delivered right to your doorstep. You get to choose what snacks are included in your box each month so you can branch out and try new things or stick with your favorites (big island pineapple rings, big island pineapple rings, big island pineapple rings!). And the best part? NatureBox snacks are made from wholesome ingredients and abide by strict quality standards: no high fructose corn syrup, no partially hydrogenated oils, no trans fat and no artificial sweeteners, colors or flavors--and your monthly box ships free in the U.S. You can also limit your snack search with nutrition filters (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, etc.).

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So imagine how amazing I felt last week when, preparing for our little road trip, I got to announce to Heidi, "Listen--I got the snacks covered." And yes, I said it braggy, because it's not often I'm feeling all Best Mom Ever. I had healthy snacks for crying out loud.

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Big hits were whole wheat raspberry figgy bars...

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...and, for me, Kung Pao Pretzels. I was actually glad they were spicy so that when the kids asked for some, I didn't feel guilty to tell them they were just for me.

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The most loved snack this time around though was the big island pineapple rings. When we got down to the last two rings, I knew one of the kids was going to want them, so I had to chant "selfless mom, selfless mom, selfless mom" to keep me from eating them.

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And because NatureBox specializes in all kinds of awesome, they've extended their awesomeness to you with two treats.

One, a giveaway: Enter the giveaway by clicking here to browse NatureBox snacks and then leave a comment on this post with the snacks you'd like to try. Easy. TWO giveaway winners will be selected to win 1 six-month subscription to NatureBox (ARV: $120). Terms and conditions of giveway can be found here.

And two, a special offer. Receive a free sample box of some of NatureBox's most loved snacks when you sign up for NatureBox here.

What goes good with some midnight NatureBox snacks? Seven Brides for Seven Brothers followed by a marathon of Gilmore Girls, that's what. You're welcome.

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Happy Snacking.

Thank you NatureBox for sponsoring this post, and thank you readers for checking out the businesses we love that help make keeping this blog up a little easier.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Short Beach Sermon

If you'll turn in your Bibles with me please to the second chapter of Beach and read with me starting with the first verse.

The beach is where I dump my feels. The gulf is forgiving and accepting and hungry for feelings, so it waits for me and I come--watching the kids chase seagulls and sandpipers and search for shells, but feeding my feelings to the tide while I do. On really feely weeks, there's so much to pour out that I need to open my arms wide, pull my head back, close my eyes and slowly breathe in the salty air, exhaling love--the achy kind that sometimes mutates into fear and anxiety. Sometimes I imagine this process Harry Potter style, and I picture pulling my feelings out in long glowing strands and dropping them into the gulf pensieve where they swirl around and dissolve. Sometimes there's nothing to breathe out but peace and gratitude, and on those days the gulf generously throws them back to me, like a boomerang.

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On the beach, I am small.

In biology--my college major (I mean one of my *cough*triple minors*cough*)--I remember learning about why cells are so small, an important element in the surface-area-to-mass-ratio that allows them to survive. Cells must constantly react with their surrounding environment to stay alive, and the most productive, strong survivor cells are the small ones but with the greatest surface area--the ones with the big feelers that project out into the world to soak it up.

All that feely stuff isn't just a bunch of wayward emotions or fluff. It's science. Be a feely survivor cell. Stay small but stretch your feelings out as far as they can go to soak up as much of the world as you can.

Other life lessons you can find at the beach:

Play. Don't be so serious. 

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(His name is Heck, by the way.)

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Don't walk in someone else's footprints. Make your own. 

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Ignore the pooping birds. Don't feed them.

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Smile a lot. 

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Look for pretty things and take time to check them out.

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Try new hairstyles. Something you haven't tried might be your favorite thing, and you don't even know it yet.

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Get your feet wet. Don't wait for the water to be the perfect temperature before you swim. Get in there. 

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Bring supportive friends. It's more fun that way. We rely on the Buddy System on the beach. And in life.

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Dance expressively. Feel the movement. Make it yours.

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Meditate. Try yoga.

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Let people know you love them.

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Amen and Selah.

Happy, happy Hump Day!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Book for the Baby: MyPublisher

This post is sponsored by MyPublisher, giving the baby of our family a fighting chance in the baby book competition. 

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One birthday down and another around the bend with our Valentine baby's second year celebration coming up. For Lainey, a two year celebration meant sixteen albums of printed photos, three scrapbooks and a fully-detailed tooth chart on the shelf. I was also a first time parent who boiled pacifiers when they fell on the floor and organized the baby clothes drawers every three weeks. Let's just say, sadly for Dash, I'm a little behind.

I believe in photo memories though--and not just ones that sit in folders on our computer or fill a feed on social media. I love walking through homes that are dripping with photo stories--albums sitting on coffee tables, memories framed on walls, polaroids taped to the refrigerator. It says These Are the People We Love. It says That Vacation Was Unforgettable. It says I Love Being Your Mama. I believe in making efforts to preserve these memories maybe a little more passionately for Dash because I know his printed memories take the slack for a busier family/more kids/less time.

This year, thanks to MyPublisher, I was able to easily combine all of our favorite moments from Dash's second year into this stunning photo book. I've looked through it maybe twenty times already since it arrived.

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I miss this baby.

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My favorite thing about MyPublisher is that it offers users so many ways to customize their book. Their program is incredibly user-friendly. You upload your images, choose page layouts and drag and drop your photos where you want them. While MyPublisher offers many options for adding text, I chose a simple "just photos" layout and love the simple yet powerful result. I used several 1-photo/full bleed layouts as well as some white framing, giving the entire book a professional cohesive look. And the best part? I finished and ordered the entire book in less than an hour (hint: compile all of your photos into one folder first).

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Unlike many competitors, MyPublisher prints, manufactures and ships every product it sells--with no out-sourcing--and believes that controlling its printing and manufacturing enables it to deliver consistently superior quality and service.

Page thickness, paper quality, color vibrancy--it's all so beautiful and has withstood lots of tiny investigating hands.

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I also wanted a book bound with lay-flat pages and love that MyPublisher offers that option.

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They also offer several options for covers and cases. We chose a foldover paper jacket.

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MyPublisher stands behind the quality of their work and guarantees every product against any defects in manufacturing, one hundred percent.

Have a baby of the family who needs some memory love? MyPublisher is giving away a $250 photo book credit to one reader. Check out MyPublisher's site, poke around for some inspiration and then leave a comment sharing what you'd like to turn into a book. Your daughter's first year? That last amazing vacation you took? Childhood memories for a surprise anniversary gift for your parents? Or maybe just your favorite motherhood moments thus far on your journey--so that at the end of the hardest days, you can pour some hot tea and find a quiet place to sit down with a book of your most beautiful moments. The gift of perspective.

 a Rafflecopter giveaway.

And for those who don't win, readers will receive 50% off MyPublisher orders over $100.00 and 25% off orders over $50.00 when you create your books here.

Our new book has already been in the hands of all the kids. I've found Lainey and Nella pointing to favorite photos of their brother, cracking up over how little and funny and cute he is; and I love reminiscing over all of those stories with Dash in my lap. Look at you! You are so loved. 

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He might keep us on our toes, but at least those crazy moments are preserved in a beautiful way--this gorgeous book that now sits on our coffee table. Because nobody puts Baby in a corner.

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Thank you, MyPublisher, for sponsoring this post and thank you readers for checking out some of the businesses we love that help make maintaining this blog a little easier. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

A Rainbow Party

I've decided that my kids' birthday parties is the middle circle of the Venn Diagram of my loves, the place where everything intersects--color, celebration, pretty things, motherhood, music, friends, family, introspection and a deep love for my children. That middle circle is like a family reunion in my head--a day when all the grown-up kids and their grown-up differences return home to sit around the table and realize they're connected and bound by love.

Yesterday, I was thrilled again to feel the circles intersect as we celebrated with friends and color and music and rainbows, all lassoed up into that middle place by our love for Nella.

A peek at our rainbow party for our colorful girl:

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Hosted at our community's incredible House of Gaia

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Nella's rainbow dress from Berit's Lilla

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Rainbow toe love.

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My friend Kathy made Nella's rainbow cake, simple yet stunning on the outside...

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Edible sugar rainbow butterflies from Amazon.

...and a complete party on the inside.

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This is Miss Lulu. She's mesmerizing to watch. She's like Mary Poppins except instead of magic, she uses kindness, and she weaves these valuable lessons of self worth, loving each other and using our creative gifts to make the world a more beautiful place into every activity she initiates.

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The rainbow toes. I can't even.

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We were hoping there was a gay pride parade somewhere near us yesterday afternoon because we were decked out and ready to go and could have killed two celebration birds with one stone.

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The kids took turns bouncing in the middle of a stretched piece of fabric. Nella was hesitant to do it, but I put her in anyway and promised her it would be fun. We bounced her up and down and through the entire experience, she never quit doing two things: holding my hand and smiling. (Thank you to my friend Andrea for the picture)

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The kids huddled together for a "rainstorm,"...

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...hid under "the sun" while happy dragons danced around them...

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...and lined up together to sleep under a rainbow.

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My dad made these beautiful rainbow ribbon wands for each of the girls.

It was magic.

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Party bags enhanced with a stack of free paint swatches...

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...and rainbow goodies tucked inside.

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Rainbow favor bag goodies:  rainbow putty (1 doz), rainbow crayon (25 pack), rainbow star lollipops (1 doz), rainbow folding fan (1 doz), rainbow punch balloon (1 doz), rainbow glitter temporary tattoos (72-pack), rainbow candy dots and lipgloss (Michael's)

And a big thank you to my friend Kim (Nella's favorite barrettes) who made all the little girls rainbow barrettes to take home.

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I didn't know this photo was taken until I found it on my camera late last night. Nella didn't want to lay under the rainbow with her friends unless I went with her. So I did, and there we were--her a little apprehensive, me a lot assuring. Surrounded by our friends but glued together--calm, quiet and feeling the moment...all under a thin veil of rainbow. Which pretty much sums up everything.

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Thankful for parties and babies and color and cake--and opportunities to stand in the inner circle where everything collides to make perfect sense.