What’s your favorite way to relax?

I always find myself more relaxed, happy and less stressed when I am outside enjoying nature or exercising. Exercise has always been a big part of my life but more recently when the kids have started school I’ve rediscovered my love of hiking and walking trails. We live in the perfect city for hiking, Chino Hills has over 40+ miles of trails! It’s an especially beautiful place in the early spring when the wildflowers bloom. The last few winters have brought enough rain that the drought finally ended (although I think it’s back). There is beauty in all parts of the world and our earth is pretty amazing.

 

7 Tips to Happiness

With all the craziness, stress and heartbreak the world can sometimes bring, I try to focus on the positives and see the glass half full. The key word in that sentence is ‘try’ because there are times when it’s definitely ok not to be ok. If I’m feeling sad, frustrated or going through a hard time (hello, year of Covid-19), I like to allow myself to feel all the emotions before trying to solve them. And sometimes, there is no end solution, but baby steps in a positive direction. Here are 7 things I’ve found to help make me happier:

7 Tips to happiness

click to download: 7 Tips to happiness

Buy 1, Give 1

It’s that time of year where temperatures start to dip in most of the country, except Southern California where in Chino Hills it was like 85 degrees today! I’m kicking off the annual Buy 1, Give 1 where the purchase of a hand-knit infinity scarf provides another hand-knit scarf donated to a homeless of refugee shelter. In the past I’ve chosen homeless shelters in Utah and Virginia and a refugee shelter in Texas. This year, we are planning on visiting Dave’s family in Salt Lake City so I will probably give the donations to the Road Home again.

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

Scarves are a wool blend and come in basically any color! They are $31, you can purchase here in my Etsy shop or you can always contact me.

Thank you so much for your support!

buy 1 give 1 infinity scarves charity homeless refugee shelters

Teaching with the Tooth Fairy

On Brent’s (and my) birthday earlier this year, we went to dinner at our favorite Thai restaurant in Chino Hills. Halfway through the meal, Brent said he felt something weird in his mouth — his first tooth fell out! After searching the table and scrounging around on the floor, we realized he had swallowed the tooth! Definitely made for a memorable first lost tooth!

I came across this article with a few interesting suggestions for teaching about dental care for young kids and the Tooth Fairy. We’ve thought about using other tooth fairy gifts instead of money, but the kids are also at the age where they’re still think $1 is a lot of money! We’ve also considered buying an inexpensive tooth brushing timer for the kids, similar to one I had growing up.

“It’s important to teach children the importance of dental hygiene at an early age. Children should begin brushing as soon as their first tooth appears, and healthy habits of cleaning teeth for two minutes twice a day will help children to have better oral (and overall) health. However, it’s hard to effectively communicate the risks of gum disease, and the harm caused by decay, especially when children are young and dental health problems seem so far away.

Enter the tooth fairy, one of our favorite childhood legends. Not only is she a fun story to tell your children; she’s also an excellent opportunity to teach kids to value dental health and be diligent in their own personal habits.

No one is completely sure where the story of the tooth fairy came from. You’ll mostly only hear stories about her in Canada and the U.S. dating back to the early 1900’s. However, long before that we see stories in Northern Europe of children getting rewarded for their lost baby teeth, either by parents or by little mice that serve much the same function as the tooth fairy. In any case, the tooth fairy is a captivating character, and can be a great motivator and teacher. Here are 4 ideas to help you utilize the story of the tooth fairy in order to get your children excited about dental health.

1: Leave something besides cash

Most children expect to see a small pile of change under their pillow, after leaving their lost baby tooth there the night before for an exchange with the tooth fairy. However, have you ever thought about providing something besides change, or something in addition? Consider what the tooth fairy would like to share with your child in order to encourage them in their task of perfect dental health. It might be a brand new toothbrush, or a fun new flavor of paste.

2: Offer better payments for cavity-free teeth

The average price of baby teeth has gone up significantly in the past decade, and a report from Visa recently announced that the average payment hovers around $3.00. However, have you ever considered varying the amount that the tooth fairy pays for teeth according to the quality of those teeth? If a child gets $5 for each pristine, cavity-free tooth, versus under a dollar for one with a filling, they’ll be much more motivated to keep as many teeth as possible free of decay. After all… you already paid a good amount for those teeth with fillings in them, didn’t you?

3: Make it personal

A personal touch from the tooth fairy can give kids a special boost. Encourage a more personal-feeling connection with this pixie, and she’ll soon become a powerful motivator next time you’re trying to get your children to brush their teeth before bed. “What would the tooth fairy say?!” is a lot more effective when your children already feel like the tooth fairy is personally vested in their dental health.

So, in that vein, consider leaving a little note along with the change, wherein the tooth fairy thanks your child for their beautiful baby tooth, and encourages them to keep up the good work. This link has some other fun ideas for adding a little something special to the tooth fairy exchange.

4: Start the narrative early

Kids don’t start to lose their teeth until about 6 years old. However, they should be caring for their teeth long before then. In fact, the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children visit a pediatric dentist by age 1, or when they get their first tooth. So, you should consider starting the story of the tooth fairy early, in order to build some hype. Make the most of fun opportunities for your children to meet the tooth fairy (for example, at the local library or at your pediatric dentist’s office) and to learn more about her. Check out books that tell her story, and encourage your child to write a letter, or draw a picture for the tooth fairy when she comes to pick up a tooth. As a bonus, these little letters are wonderful mementos as your children grow.”  

Quick teeth whitening with Carbon Coco

carbon coco teeth whitening

I’ve been using this 100% natural teeth whitener, Carbon Coco. It’s a charcoal whitening powder that you brush on followed by a charcoal toothpaste (which is black in color but mint flavored). This product is easy to use, doesn’t require a lot of time (the same amount of time it normally takes to brush your teeth) and it has great results! I also like that it’s a natural product, not tested on animals, free shipping and the provide great customer service.

How to Use:

Wet a soft-bristled toothbrush (the kit comes with one or you can use your own as long as it’s soft-bristled)

Dip wet toothbrush into charcoal powder. Brush your teeth like you normally would. NOTE: your teeth will look black, don’t be shocked! Your spit will also be black.  Also, since it’s a powder it’s a little messy. I brush over my sink to catch any loose powder. It doesn’t stain sinks/counter tops but can be a little messy.

Brush for 3 minutes. Rinse off brush and rinse mouth.

Apply charcoal activated toothpaste on brush. Brush for 3 minutes. Rinse.

Results: 

It took about 8 weeks of consistent use to see results for me. I’ve used other at home teeth whitening products in the past and had a great experience with Carbon Coco mostly because it’s super easy and fast to use.Carbon Coco natural charcoal teeth whitening

carbon coco teeth whitening

black charcoal powder ^ 

carbon coco teeth whitening

Exercise apparel – Senita

There are a few brands of athletic apparel I usually stick to because I’ve found they fit me well and are of high quality. Every now and then I’ll try a new or not super popular brand. I recently bought a pair of leggings from Senita. The style is called “Ellie” and they were $36, so a great price compared to other brands. For the quality, they are actually a steal! The material is super soft and stretchy. The rise on this style is a medium high and doesn’t slip or fold at all. The pants hold their shape without being too tight. The material seems durable and this style comes in a few different colors (gray, plum, black and the navy that I bought). I also like that this particular style is a 7/8 pant which is perfect for a short female such as myself 😉

One of their selling points is there are two large pockets on the sides. I didn’t think this feature would be a tipping point or anything for me, but I really like the pocket! I don’t exercise with my phone on me but it’s still super convenient for my phone when we go on walks or if I’m running errands after the gym. I am extremely pleased with my purchase and will definitely be using this brand again.senita athletics ellie leggingssenita athletics ellie leggings

senita athletics ellie leggings

Patience, persistence and perspiration

“Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success”

(Napolean Hill)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote, especially starting off a new year. 2017 was a pretty great year for our family. We felt settled in a good routine with Brent’s school stuff, sports, church, work, etc. We had a lot of fun here locally in LA area (lots beach, baseball, new restaurants, Disneyland, etc) and road-tripped a few times up to Vegas and Utah. 2017 was also the first year I’ve been completely healthy since Tessa was born! That pregnancy was particularly hard and it’s been nice to finally see progress and the ability to regain muscle. Since her birth, I’ve had numerous injuries – hamstring, achilles, knee, back – and persistence has been key for me. During the weeks I wasn’t able to fully exercise, I was still at the gym rehabbing, stretching and strengthening and it’s finally starting to have good results. I’m not nearly where I’d like to be but I’m happy with the journey so far. Last year I also started playing soccer again with two different teams (a women’s team and a coed team) which is my main motivation for working out. I wouldn’t consider myself a natural at anything. I was never a natural soccer player or had any particular talent at the piano. These are two things I worked at all growing up and continue to practice and love today. (Thanks, Mom, for forcing me to practice the piano all those years!)

Looking forward, I am grateful to be done with 2017 as all years come with the positive and some negatives. I’m counting down the days to a week long trip to England next month and to enjoying more days at home with the kids. It’s bittersweet that they have to grow up. I know the days are numbered when I’ll have so much time with them, to watch them discover things for the first time and just to genuinely enjoy their company.

Trying a triathlon

This past weekend, Dave and I did our first sprint triathlon! Before the kids were born, we used to love riding our bikes together, running and exercising together. While we didn’t really get to train together (to be honest, neither of us trained very well in general ha, ha!) it was so fun to be able to do the race together! Dave was nice enough to stay with me the whole time and it was just refreshing to be outside together, enjoying the sunrise and peace.

The race was a reverse triathlon – run (5K), bike (12 miles), swim (150 yards) – in Apple Valley which is a small town a little over an hour north of Chino Hills. The course was everything we could’ve hope for – very flat and the swim was in a pool (as opposed to an ocean or lake which I wouldn’t have liked) and was very warm and clean. The race was through Apple Valley city and was very well organized.

The weather was perfect that morning and my parents were kind enough to come up Friday night and spend the night here to watch the kids during the race and take Brent to his t-ball game. Both Dave and I liked the reverse tri with the swim at the end, we would definitely do this race again!

 apple valley reverse sprint triathlon

apple valley reverse sprint triathlon apple valley reverse sprint triathlonapple valley reverse sprint triathlon

5 Ways to Keep Your Family Healthy

The last segment in this health series focuses on family health. Growing up, my family always had a rule to take your shoes off when entering in the house. We’ve also kept this tradition and it definitely keeps the house cleaner with less dirt and germs entering the living space.

keeping your family healthy

There are so many reasons why we moms want to keep our family as healthy as possible, not least because our kids are a pain to look after when they get ill and the man-flu our partners complain of is unbearable to live with. That alone is reason enough to go above and beyond the call of duty and make sure that we are doing all we can in the healthy family stakes.

Water Not Food

Overeating a is a big issue at the moment, a pandemic that has certainly taken America by storm. So, the next time your kid says they are hungry, instead of reaching for a snack packed full of E-numbers, given them a glass of water instead. The reason you should do this is thirst and hunger can be really hard to differentiate, meaning your kids could actually be thirsty instead of hungry. Of course, your kids may complain because they don’t like water, in which case you should spruce it up a bit with some sliced fruit and tell them to enjoy.

Always Wash Hands

Pretty much every type of cold, flu or viral bacteria is spread through hand-to-hand contact, which is exactly why you should encourage your kids to get their scrub on. It is just the most effective way to protect your family from catching all those things that are out there. Get into the habit of your kids cleaning their hands every time they come into the house. That, or start having antibacterial hand wash dotted about your home.

Doctor On-Call

Going to the doctor every time your partner gets the man-flu (and claims it is life threatening) or your kids say their tummy hurts is a tiring process. Booking an appointment, getting into the car, sitting in a waiting room full of people with contagious flu’s, and all that sort of stuff is time-consuming. That is why you should join the 21st century and sign up to 365 Doc. You can get a doctor’s opinion from anywhere using your phone and not have to suffer any waiting times or run the risk of catching the actual flu when nothing was wrong in the first place. Oh, the irony.

No Shoes Policy

Wearing shoes around your house is a surefire way to encourage the spread of germs. Think about it. You’ve been wearing your shoes outside, stomping around in pesticides, germs, toxins, allergens and whatever else, and now you’re stomping them into the floor of your home. We read one statistic that said the sole of each shoe contains over 400,000 bacteria. So, yeah, take them off at the door and leave them there. Simple.

Stretch As A Family

Why not add a little stretching into your morning routine. Wake up, come down stairs, pop the kettle on, and then have a little stretch together while you wait. You don’t need to go overboard and start learning a thousand different yoga poses. Just a reaching up into the air and then trying to touch your toes a few times over will be enough to get your circulation going, and that will keep your immune system running high.

How to Get Better Posture

The second post in this series of health collaborations is about posture. Good posture is not only good for your body’s alignment but can also enhance your self confidence. My biggest key to better posture that is also mentioned later in this post is core and abdominal strength. Some of my favorite core exercises here.

Posture is more important than many people think. With correct posture, you are likely to live longer, have far less trouble with aches and pains in old age, and even  – some studies suggest – live a happier life. But poor posture seems to be almost something of an epidemic at the moment. If you are concerned that your posture is not quite as good as it could be, you will be glad to know that there are a number of steps you can take to improve it. Many of these are relatively simple and straightforward, and yet can make a huge difference to how you live your life.

Developing A Mindfulness Of Body

One of the most important changes you can possibly make is to start to be a little more mindful of what your body is actually doing from moment to moment. Many people go through their daily lives not really paying close attention to their bodies. This inattentiveness can lead on to many problems, and bad posture is just one of them. The more aware you are of what your back is actually doing, the better equipped you will be to keep it – literally – on the straight and narrow.

There are certain times in the day when it is particularly beneficial to practise this. When you are sitting, particularly at a desk, try to remain aware of how your back is arched. Similarly, when you are walking you can use that time to simply pay attention to how you hold yourself. This simple act of drawing attention to your body is only the first step, but it is one of the most vital, and even just doing that is likely to make a difference at first.

Giving Yourself The Gift Of Sleep

Sleep is a hugely important health concern as it is, but it is especially relevant when it comes to trying to improve your posture. Many people often completely overlook the importance of their sleeping position and comfortability, but it is vital if you are truly serious about keeping your posture strong and healthy. Fortunately, there is plenty that you can do to improve your quality of sleep.

First, take a look at how comfortable – or not – your bed is. If it is not comfortable, it is more likely that you will shift around as you sleep, and this in itself can often be a cause of poor posture. Similarly, if you are sleeping on a mattress which is either too hard or too soft,  your posture will suffer – and besides, you will be causing harm to your back in the long run anyway. You should aim for a mattress which supports you, but does not envelop you. This plush beds mattress review gives an example of the kind of mattress which offers a good level of support. Remember that your pillows are important too – memory foam is a healthy option here, and you should endeavor to support your neck a little too.

It’s not just the bed itself however. If you are not sleeping as soundly as you could, you might be causing harm to your back, and making your posture in waking life much worse. Therefore, it is also important to carry out any other essential tasks aimed at improving your quality of sleep. This could mean working to get the temperature just right, choosing calming colors for your decor, and limiting the amount of caffeine you have in your diet. It all helps.

Training Your Body

Many people who want to improve their posture will carry out the things mentioned above first and foremost, without too much hassle. But many fewer people will ever look to training their body more generally. However, the better in shape you stay, the more chance you have of retaining a decent posture throughout your life. Training is vital – but what kind of training is best for this specific aim? The answer might surprise you.

Most of all, you need to make sure that you are working to stabilize your core. There are many specific workouts you can do to achieve this. The single leg extension, for example, can be particularly beneficial. In this exercise, you lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat, and your hands behind your head. Then it is a case of pulling your navel in and up towards your spine. Done right and repeatedly, this can improve your core hugely. That, in turn, means that your core muscles will find it easier to hold your body upright, therefore improving your posture naturally.

With a little concentration and some basic changes, you can improve your posture easily and quickly. Doing so will automatically lead to a better way of life, and this is something that anyone should consider doing.