Weekend Reads 1/12

Happy Weekend! Do you have anything fun planned? Will it be a low-key weekend at home or one out and about?

I’m looking forward to some newborn snuggles with our newest nephew and some rowdy fun with his two big sisters and cousins (my girls :). The weather has finally warmed up. Yay! Although, it’s drizzly. But I don’t mind because that’s perfect for hot tea (which I am enjoying right now) and a movie (any suggestions?).

Brance will be in next weekend. We’re counting the days!!

Here are some interesting links I discovered this week… Continue reading

Salmon Salad Recipe

Salmon salad is one of my favorite lunches (who am I kidding… snack, dinner, appetizer!) to whip up any time of year.

It’s easy, delicious, filling and everyone in my family will eat it—no complaints. So that’s a win in my books! And it’s just as good the next day in the refrigerator after a little stir.

It pairs well with crackers, bread, or even sliced vegetable. My kids love it with cucumber.

Ingredients:

2 cans of boneless salmon (6 oz each)

1 celery stalk diced

1/4 cup minced onion

1 large pickle diced

1-2 tbsp reduced sugar dried cranberries

1/3 cup mayonnaise (just mayo is my favorite)

Directions:

Stir it all together until well combined. Serve this salmon salad with your favorite bread, cracker, or raw vegetables. And enjoy!!

xoxo,

Lauren

Thoughts on kids and tech

I feel like it is a challenging time to raise kids. How about you?

I am sure every generation has probably thought the same thing, ha.

But, with the advent of smartphones and tablets, raising our kids to be smart about technology—both being able to use it and not suffer harm—is tough waters to navigate.

I realize this can be a contentious topic. We can have strong, differing opinions. And I think that is ok! After all, we’re all trying our best to figure it out—often long before all the research and facts are out there for us to consider.

What got me to thinking about tech and our kids today was this article in USA Today.

As a parent I have struggled to find balance when it comes to tech and my children. What kinds of tech should I give them access to and at what age? How frequent and for what duration? What kinds of parental controls do I set? These are questions Brance and I come back to again and again.

I’m so curious? What are your thoughts on kids and tech? How are you navigating these tricky waters in your family? While circumstances may be different from family to family, I feel like we can learn a lot from each other!

Warmly,

Lauren

P.S. Make sure you sign up to get my fee e-book to discover what you can do to feel your best!

Update

How are you!? Are you in part of the country that was slammed with frigid temperatures the last week? Brrr. I couldn’t believe how cold it got here in Charlotte—all the way down to 11 degrees! That makes sense in Boston. But Charlotte!?

Most of our serious winter gear is still in storage because I didn’t think we would need it. So we have been layering and staying warm the best we can. Thank goodness the forecast is predicting warmer days right around the corner.

Oh, by the way, we’ve moved! I’m not sure I mentioned this on the blog yet. Because it’s been complicated—unclear to even us—and I wasn’t sure how to explain what’s going on. It’s been a challenge as we’ve interacted with family and friends…

“Brance and I are separated,” I found myself saying to a girlfriend over the phone recently.

As the words hit my ears, I realized it came out all wrong.

“Uhh, we are living separately for a while. Oh, but not separated permanently or headed towards divorce or anything like that,” I quickly corrected myself.

Brance is wrapping up work in Boston while the girls and I stay with my parents down South. Our land lord substantially increased our rent last fall and we felt this was the best step. But it hasn’t been an easy step.

I feel very blessed to have loving family take us in. They have been so great—emptying closets and drawers and rearranging their schedules to make room for us and our things. But being separated from Brance for the better part of 3 months has given me an incredible appreciation for that man and all he is to the girls and me. Life is sad without him.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not walking around moping or anything. This single parenting thing is serious work. But when I do have a moment of quiet reflection, I realize my life would be very empty without him.

Like so many things in life, we’re uncertain how long this will last. Two more months or four? We’re just not sure. But in the meantime we’re getting really good at sharing life through texts, emails, and FaceTime.

As of now, we think we’ll ultimately settle in the Charlotte area. You know: find work, buy a house, and all four of us be together again! But we’re not entirely certain (of everything but the all four of us)! The girls and I may or may not temporarily be back in Boston. We may find work elsewhere and that would mean living elsewhere too. It’s definitely complicated and we’re praying for direction!

I’ve missed this space and look forward to sharing with you in the New Year! Do any of you have something exciting planned for 2018?

With love,

Lauren

Give the gift that gives back

In a recent study, Facebook discovered that those who passively consume their newsfeed are more miserable than those who interact with others—especially with comments.

Surprised? I’m not the least bit surprised!

Here’s why…

Because, *most* (I realize it is not all) people who comment on FB are saying nice things and lifting people up.

I believe with all my heart that it comes down to the following principle…

Blessed are those who bless others.

I try to do this—to bless others with my words and actions, in social media and all of life. Now, I admit, I do not do this perfectly. I’m human and I have messed up big-time in the past.

BUT, in recent years, I have prayerfully attempted to be very intentional about using my words for good. And I have found that as I encourage and lift up others, I rarely, if ever, feel miserable or jealous! And when I do, it’s because I have grown slack in this area.

When we lift up and bless and encourage people around us, we lift up ourselves. Every single time.

It’s impossible to feel jealous and miserable when we want good for others, when we cheer others on, when we use our words and actions to bless.

And if the person doesn’t respond or appreciate our kindness? It’s OKAY!! It really, truly is.

It’s always, always better to be a person who blesses others—even when they won’t or can’t (for whatever reason) reciprocate or appreciate kindness. I know it can sting a bit in the moment. But in the long-run, it’s so much better for YOUR heart and soul to let their behavior GO and continue to bless others. It’s healing, even, to do so.

Because, when we are stingy with our words and actions, we become miserable and jealous. Ironically, when we withhold them from others and cling to them for ourselves, we actually end up with LESS. Less joy and peace and contentment.

INSTEAD, when we choose to pour out our words and deeds to bless others (even those who don’t “deserve” our kindness), they are multiplied and poured down  onto our OWN heads as well. Not only is the other person blessed, but we are filled to the brim with joy and peace and contentment. It becomes the gift that gives back.

And that’s something that can’t be manufactured or wrapped in a box.

Wishing you a VERY Merry Christmas,
Lauren

P.S. This is not a principle I came up with on my own. My own natural inclination is to think about myself and only be kind to those who are kind to me. It’s something I have learned and applied from studying the Bible and through prayer.

P.P.S. If you don’t have your own copy of the Bible and would like one, I’d love to give one to you. Just leave a comment below!

4 things to keep SAD away

SADIt’s here! The darkest day of the year! Most people aren’t celebrating it. But let’s! Because it only gets brighter each day from here on out, right? And we’re that much closer to glorious spring.

Unfotunately, today also marks a time of year when many people struggle with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

It affects millions of people a year. And if you happen to be female, like me, you are more likely to be affected. Although, there are plenty of guys who struggle with it as well.

I’ll never forget experiencing SAD the first winter I lived in Boston six years ago. It hit me like a ton of bricks. We had a toddler and baby at the time. I remember feeling like I could hardly get off the couch, much less accomplish the long list of things I needed to each day.

Brance and I decided to research what I could do naturally to help first. If how I felt didn’t improve in a reasonable amount of time, I planned to visit my doctor.

Thankfully, once I began to make changes, things almost immediately improved for me!!

Here are four simple things I did (and continue to do) to keep SAD away.

1. Supplement with Vitamin D3 (3,000- 4,000 IU daily).

I do this in the summer as well, usually taking a little less because I’m getting some D3 naturally through sun exposure. (Although, word to the wise, sunscreen will block your ability to absorb D3)

2. Spend 20-30 minutes outside every day.

I even did this during the coldest months while living in Boston!! I’d bundle up in a down coat and many days wear snow boots too, ha. It’s so important to be exposed to natural light and especially in the morning, if possible.

3. Exercise for 15-30 minutes a day.

I have been so, so good to do this for the last six years… until 2 months ago. Ugh. We moved and I have been balancing a lot. I want to get back to this, though. Because it really does help!

4. Supplement with Magnesium (200-400 mg) or soak in Epsom salts (to naturally absorb Magnesium).

I swear by this. I have struggled with anxiety for years. And when I finally added this to my regimen (Vitamin D3 supplementation helps a lot as well), the anxiety completely disappeared. In my book, anxiety and depression are evil twins of the same mother. They often accompany one another.

I hope these 4 things help you enjoy this darker time of year more!

SAD can become a serious condition. If it has for you, I would recommend seeking medical help.

Blessings,

Lauren

 

4 Homemade Beautiful Kid-friendly Ornaments

www.wholefully.com

The girls and I have plans to make ornaments twice this December. Once with another homeschool family and once with their AHG troop.

So I scoured the web looking for ones that are cute AND can be made mostly without grownup help. Because isn’t it a lot more fun for kids if they make it all on their own!?

I hate that so many of the actual cute homemade ornaments out there basically require grown-up assembly from start to finish—with hot glue guns or sewing or cutting with a knife etc.

And I didn’t want to compromise in the cuteness department. You know, opting for something that would look chintzy or fall apart before Christmas.

So, here are four I found that are adorable and can actually be made by kids. (Some of them do require some grownup prep and/or a few adaptations to be totally kid friendly.)

www.wholefully.com

I found these cinnamon ornaments on Wholefully. Aren’t they great?!

We had friends give us something similar as a Christmas present two years ago. The girls loved them, they smelled delicious (ahhh…cinnamon is heavenly), plus they’re much prettier than the traditional salt dough ornaments I made as a child. Don’t you think? A win all the way around in my book.

www.thediymommy.com

Continue reading

2 Things that make me forget I have UC

Probiotics help Ulcerative ColitisI feel incredibly blessed to feel SO WELL these days— completely normal and like my “old self”. And with little (1/2 a dose) and very safe medication to boot! No steroids or other meds with awful side-effects or visits to the hospital. Not even a SINGLE symptom at all!

I was diagnosed with UC (Ulcerative Colitis) a couple of years ago and it made my life much more difficult. I felt miserable and was afraid to go anywhere. Ugh. Anyone who has this autoimmune disease will know what I am talking about.

Not only do you suffer with the common symptoms associated with UC, though. Which are bad enough. Anytime you’re dealing with autoimmunity there is a host of “random” symptoms that can plague the sufferer too. Recurring fevers, joint pain, fatigue, flu-like symptoms etc. are all common.

But, pinch me!! I feel so fortunate that I found something that REALLY WORKS to help me feel so well with this disease.  It’s too good not to share with my dear readers and for you not to share with those you love. It’s just THAT good and easy!

While UC is chronic and here to stay, I stumbled across this simple regimen that in recent months has made me often forget I even have UC at all. Crazy, right!?! I feel that AMAZING.

The two things I do are… Continue reading

Plaid and the power of words

Power of words Power of words

Power of words
Above are my awkward attempts at taking a selfie, ha.

On my first day of highschool I wore plaid.

It seems like an odd thing to remember, right? I couldn’t tell you what I wore on the first day of any other school year. But because of what happened to me—or more specifically what was said to me—I remember my outfit from that day all this time later.

During lunchtime an upper class-man made a mean comment about my plaid shirt and my appearance. Silly really. What did it matter what this girl thought about my clothes or how I looked? But my 13 year-old self went home crushed from her unkind words and paranoid about my appearance.

Obviously I recovered from this little incident. I still wear plaid, as documented above ;). And over time, I’ve learned to Continue reading