Monday Motivation

“Imagine your life is perfect in every respect; what would it look like?” – Brian Tracey

This is a question that I ask my therapy clients all the time; if you woke up tomorrow and everything was perfect what would be different? What would have changed? What’s your answer?

What is one thing that you can do today that will bring you closer to your perfect life?

 

 

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Vegan Blueberry and Peach Hand Pies

We had a family gathering over the weekend and I was asked to bring a dessert to share. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you might relate to me in that you take every dish-to-pass event as a challenge to prove to omnivores how delicious your plant-based food really can be. I’ve never gotten any bad feedback on my baked goods (except one unfortunate turmeric energy ball experiment….), but I still always feel like the pressure is turned up when I’m asked to bring something homemade.

I guess I might have a competitive streak in me.

Seeing as it’s August and there are lots of wonderful fruits and veggies in season, I really wanted to make something that incorporated some locally grown produce. I perused the internet a bit for inspiration, but nothing really sounded good to my pregnant self (this baby girl is picky). So I decided to just go to our local farmer’s market and see what I could find.

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I ended up finding some gorgeous peaches and blueberries and snatched up a whole bunch of them.

Initially I thought that I would make one big pie, but who doesn’t love individual-sized treats that you can eat with your hands? So I upped my game and decided to make hand pies instead.

For the pie crust, you can use your favorite pie crust recipe or even a frozen pie crust if you find one that suits your dietary preferences (and taste buds).
I like the coconut oil pie crust recipe from Minimalist Baker.

After making the crust, I washed and chopped up all of my fruit and combined it in a big mixing bowl. Isn’t it pretty?

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Baking was a little more difficult than usual, because my sweet boy wasn’t feeling so hot on Saturday and wanted to be glued to my hip the entire time. But we improvised and made it work – and I can now say that I can make hand pies with one hand while balancing a toddler on my hip! Add that to my resume.

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Isn’t he cute?

With the fruit, I added some raw sugar, flour, vanilla, and a squeeze of lemon juice. My pies weren’t terribly sweet since I didn’t want to overpower the natural sweetness of the fruit, but you could certainly add more sugar if you like really sweet pie.

When the fruit filling is prepared, I rolled out my pie crust and cut it into hand pie-sized pieces. You can cut them in squares, circles, or dinosaur shapes. I went for uneven squares because toddler on the my hip and it’s hard to cut things with one hand. Whatever you do, you want to make sure that you have matching sets of two pieces so that you can put them together.

Next, scoop the filling onto one piece of the dough. I put a generous spoonful on each piece, so a little more than a tablespoon of filling. You can make them as small or plump as you like, just as long as you can close them!

Place the matching piece on top of the bottom crust and filling. Use your fingers to crimp the edges together and go over it again with a fork to make sure they’re really stuck 😉 Using a paring knife, slice a couple of slits for the steam to escape.

Results should look something like this.

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Prepare your vegan “egg” wash by whisking non-dairy milk and maple syrup together. Brush egg wash over the pies and sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar.

Place your pies on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, turning the trays after 10 minutes to bake the edges evenly.

Allow the pies to cool for a few minutes because they taste better if you haven’t burnt the roof of your mouth 😉 Enjoy!

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Vegan Blueberry and Peach Hand Pies

Makes 10-12 individual pies

What You Need

Pie Ingredients
4 pie crusts (freshly made or frozen)
4 medium-sized peaches
2 cups of fresh blueberries
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Juice of one medium-sized lemon

Topping

2 tablespoons non-dairy milk of choice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3-4 tablespoons raw turbinado sugar

Instructions

1. Preheat your oven – Preheat your oven to 400◦ F
2. Prepare your pie crust – Prepare your favorite pie crust according to recipe instructions. If using a pre-made crust, allow the crust to warm up to room temperature.
3. Prepare the fruit – Chop the peaches into approximately 1/2 inch cubes. Mix peach cubes and blueberries together in a large mixing bowl.
4. Prepare fruit filling – Add flour, sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice to the fruit mixture. Stir to combine all ingredients.
5. Cut pie crust – Roll out the dough and layer one crust on top of another. Slice crust into shape you desire for your pies, cutting 10-12 sets of 2 pieces. Carefully remove the top layer from the bottom and set aside.
6. Assemble pies – Spoon approximately 1 1/2 tablespoons of filling into each bottom piece of crust. Carefully place the matching top piece over the filling. Crimp edges together and seal them with a fork. Using a paring knife, cut 2-3 slits for steam to escape.
7. Prepare “egg” wash – Whisk together non-dairy milk with maple syrup.
8. Put toppings on pies – Brush the pies with “egg” wash. Sprinkle with raw turbinado sugar.
9. Bake – Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper. Gently place pies on baking sheet. Bake pies for 20 minutes, turning the baking sheets after 10 minutes.
10. Enjoy – After removing from the oven, allow the pies to cool for at least 10 minutes and then enjoy!

Monday Motivation

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“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing” – Walt Disney

A quote from the man who created one of the happiest places on earth, so he must know what he’s talking about, right?!

I like this quote because I have talked about/thought about/pretended to prepare for starting a blog and an Etsy business for so long, but there has always been something that got in my way. It wasn’t until recently that I bit the bullet and just dove in! And you know what? Getting started wasn’t anywhere near as hard as worrying about getting started.

What are you thinking or talking about doing that you haven’t done yet?
What do you need to push yourself to take the plunge?

Ten Steps to Improve Your Mood Today

In my work as a therapist, I often implement a style of therapy called Behavioral Activation Therapy. The Behavioral Activation Model, in short, says that difficult life events, such as trauma, loss, daily hassles in life, or a biological predisposition to depression, leads to people experiencing low levels of positive reinforcement in their lives. Likewise, the behaviors that people often utilize to cope with their negative feelings, while possibly helpful short-term, do not provide a high enough level of positive reinforcement and are not beneficial long-term. For example, when you feel down or depressed, you might not have any motivation to get out of bed. There might even be a day or two where you just stay in bed and watch Netflix. While I’m not going to lie and tell you I don’t have days here and there where I just wish that I could spend the day in bed watching Netflix, it’s also pretty obvious that it’s not going to fix your bad mood, depression, grief and loss, etc.

Basically, negative behaviors (or seemingly neutral behaviors) lead to increased or sustained depression. Positive behaviors lead to positive reinforcement, which leads to a positive mood.
So what the behavioral activation model does instead is help the person identify small steps that they could take in addressing their personal struggle and attaining some positive reinforcement.

Think baby steps.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Because behavioral activation is something that you can use in your everyday life in any area that you want to manifest change. It starts with one simple question: What is one thing that I can do differently today?
Make a list! I prefer writing things down to have a visual reminder, but a mental list will work to… you just have to stick to it!

To get you started, here is a list of 10 smalls things that you can do – starting today – to begin to change your environment and reinforce change.

1. Journal – write down your thoughts and feelings, positive or negative.

2. Go for a walk, jog, run, bike ride – move. Get the blood flowing again and release some endorphins.

3. Grab a cup of coffee – make a pot at home and sit somewhere peaceful to drink it slowly, or call up a friend and go to a local coffee shop to sit and talk as you enjoy a latte.

4. Visit a park – spend some time out in nature. Take in your surroundings. Breathe.

5. Try a grounding exercise – this is super simple and can be done anywhere. Pause. Be aware of your 5 senses. Describe them. What is it that you taste right now? What are you hearing? What can you feel underneath your hands? On other parts of your body? Are there any distinct smells that you notice? What do you see? Look a little deeper than you are used to… are there things right in front of you that you usually miss? This activity only takes a moment or two, but it helps us come gently direct our focus back to the present.

6. Cook something new – expand your tastes by trying something you’ve been meaning to make but haven’t had the time for. If you’re at a loss, try one of the recipes on my site 😉

7. Find something beautiful and photograph it. Try to get pictures from multiple angles. Be ever aware of the beauty in the world that hides right in front of our eyes.

8. Reconnect with an old friend or family member – perhaps you had a falling out with a friend and you have always regretted it. Maybe you feel guilty because you never call your grandma. CALL. Talk to someone and build up your human connections.

9. Create something. Maybe you love to paint, knit, or you are secretly incredibly gifted at hand lettering. Or maybe not! Find a tutorial on Pinterest and make something that brings beauty to your environment.

10. Go to a concert, an open mic night, or a museum. Observe what others have created or are creating. Let yourself marvel at the new things that you experience.

What might you add to this list to personalize it? What struggles are you currently facing that you feel this approach might be helpful for?

Disclaimer: Not all approaches will be appropriate or helpful for everyone. This post is not meant to be used in place of working with a mental health practitioner, but is simply a tool for self-growth. Please consult your doctor or a mental health professional if you are experiencing symptoms of depression, grief, loss, anxiety, or are having thoughts of hurting yourself or someone else.
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Essentials for Baby Number Two

I’ve found that there are big differences between my first and second pregnancy. Not so much in terms of excitement and keeping track of how many weeks along I am (I’m 27 weeks and 1 day and I told you that without looking at my pregnancy tracker) like everyone told me, but in terms of preparation.

In some ways I feel like I’m more prepared for this baby. I mean, I’ve already kept one alive this long, right? I’ve figured out breastfeeding, introduced table foods, dealt with (read: still dealing with) sleep issues, been to the emergency room, and planned a first birthday party, so I feel like I have some sort of a grasp on how to get through the first year with a new baby.

But I haven’t done any of those things with a toddler in tow. That’s a whole other can of worms.

And what do I even really need to buy for a second baby?

Yes, I have lots of the baby items that I had from when Ransom was born, but some of them need to be replaced, there were some things we wanted but couldn’t afford when he was born (thanks, grad school budget), and there are new baby products or products that would be helpful when trying to juggle two littles instead of just one.

So, I’ve been researching like a mad scientist and came up with this list of essentials (and some-so-essential-but-they’re-really-cute) for a second baby. Take a look and let me know what you would add!

Baby Trend EZ Flex-Loc Car seat

A new car seat. Did you know that car seats expire? Safety standards change over time and wear and tear on the car seat can reduce the protection it provides for your baby. Most car seats expire somewhere between five and nine years from the date that they were manufactured. While Ransom is only two and a half, we got his car seat from a cousin so the seat was a little older than that, and we have since passed it on to one of my siblings who had a baby. So, a new car seat for baby girl is definitely a must! This one has good safety ratings, a reasonable price tag, and fits the double stroller that I want…

Baby Trend Car Seat Base

An extra car seat base. It was definitely worth spending a little extra money last time around to have an extra base for the hubby’s car. Winters in Buffalo are cold and those extra minutes to switch the car seat base from car to car seem like an eternity.

Baby Trend Sit N’ Stand Double Stroller

I love that this stroller has the look of some of the more expensive, designer strollers, but for a fraction of the price! And with the great reviews and the ability to turn it into a sit n’ stand stroller on the days when Ransom wants to walk but just needs to grab a quick ride from time to time, I don’t think I can go wrong with this stroller!

Britax Back Seat Mirror

I’ll be honest, we definitely just lost the back seat mirrors that we had before. But still, they weren’t super great in terms of the quality, and they didn’t really stay put, so it’s probably better to replace them. Britax gets a thumbs up from me for just about everything.

The Ellie Diaper Bag

I loooooove this bag! It’s made with vegan leather, so it looks beautiful and it’s cruelty free! Plus the leather makes for easy clean up for the inevitable spills and messes. With all the pockets and compartments, it’s bound to have plenty of space for baby items and toddler snacks.

Ergobaby 360 All Carry Positions Award-Winning Cool Mesh Ergonomic Baby Carrier, Carbon Grey

Okay, so this one I actually already have from when Ransom was little, but I wouldn’t feel right making a baby essentials list without including the Ergobaby! Ransom practically lived in the Ergobaby when he was tiny and I actually used it to carry him until I got pregnant with baby girl and couldn’t manage the extra weight. I can only imagine how much I’ll use my Ergobaby with this little one now that I’ve got a toddler to chase around!

Lalabu Soothe Shirt

A baby-wearing shirt. This is one of those items that I really, really, really wanted when Ransom was born but it just wasn’t in the budget. Perfect for skin-to-skin contact when big brother needs some attention too, and great for when baby girl is too tiny for the Ergobaby but I need to have my hands free.

Baby Milestone Blanket

I’m just gonna go ahead and call this one an essential item. I have to track her age so why not do it with an adorable blanket?! Love the sweet pattern on this milestone blanket.

Wooden Baby Play Gym

I love the simple design of this play gym. Perfect paired with a blanket or a Gathre mat and folds up easily, so you don’t have a million baby toys monopolizing your living space.

Gathre Changing Mat

Gathre changing mat. I still have my changing mat from when Ransom was itty bitty, but it’s definitely reached the end of it’s life and needs replacing. The Gathre mats are durable, beautiful, and easy to clean! Plus, they can double as a place for baby to play under the play gym listed above 😉

DockATot Deluxe+ Dock (Pristine White) – The All in One Baby Lounger, Portable Crib and Bassinet – Perfect for Co Sleeping – Breathable & Hypoallergenic – Suitable from 0-8 months (Pristine White)

I don’t know how I missed these when Ransom was born, but I need one for this baby. They are supposedly the magic sleepy dust item for babies. They’re made of breathable material for safety and they snuggle baby down just like they’re being cradled in your arms. And most of the time she will actually be cradled in my arms, but I haven’t had great luck with babies and sleep thus far so I could use a couple of extra tricks up my sleeve.

Crane Drop Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier – White

Because everyone stays healthier and happier when I keep my house feeling like a rain forest instead of the ice tundra that it actually is.

Burt’s Bees Baby – Set of 3 Bee Essentials Solid Burp Cloths, 100% Organic Cotton, Heather Grey

I do still have burp cloths from when Ransom was little, but you really can’t have too many of them. And I feel like baby girl deserves a couple of fresh ones to ruin herself.

Comotomo 5 oz and 8 oz Baby Bottles, 4 Pack (Green)

I’m planning on breastfeeding, but bottles are necessary for when I’m at work or the husband and I get to sneak out for a rare date night. These bottles are very similar to a human breast, making it easier for baby to switch back and forth between bottle and boob.

The UMMY: BPA-free 100% Natural Rubber Pacifier with Round Nipple, 0-3 Months

Ransom never really took a pacifier, but he also never really slept, so…..
I’m going to give it another go with this girl, even if it’s just at night. I like these pacifiers because they’re made from 100% natural rubber and they’re one solid piece so I don’t have to worry about any bits breaking off in her mouth.

Loved By Sophia Claire Pacifier Clips

To hold the aforementioned pacifiers. I love the sweet, simple design of these clips.

Loved By Sophia Claire Headbands

One of the things I’m most excited about with having a little girl is all the cute little accessories! I can’t get enough of these sweet little headbands by Loved By Sophia Claire. New mommies can get a free pacifier clip with their first order.

Some other items that you might need:

Crib – we’ll be using the one that we got for Ransom, but if your first little is still occupying that you might need a second.

Changing Table – we found that we usually ended up changing Ransom on a changing mat on the floor so we’re skipping this one.

New breast pump – I’m actually replacing mine as well, but having it covered through the insurance company.

Obviously tons of diapers and wipes. Unless you’re a badass and you’re cloth diapering, in which case more power to you and you probably already have all the old diapers from your last baby.

Baby clothes – there will probably be a lot of individual differences here depending on your personal style, gender of your babies, etc. I’m personally planning on reusing some of Ransom’s clothes but spicing up baby girl’s wardrobe with some frilly, girly stuff. Pairing Ransom’s old Nirvana t-shirts with new frilly tutus and that sort of thing.

What would you add to this list?

To view my complete baby list – or to create your own – check out:
Babylist.com

Babylist is an online registry that allows you to create one comprehensive list from all the stores you love (even Etsy!), so you don’t have the hassle of making registries at a bunch of different stores and you can compare prices so you know you’re getting the best deal. Even if you’re not registering for a shower, it’s a great way to keep track of the items that you need and check them off as you purchase them.

I hope this list is helpful in your planning!

XO,
Rebecca

Protein-Filled Vegan Snacks for Pregnancy

I’m almost through my second trimester and the pregnancy HANGRY is really starting to hit full force. I go from my normal, nice(ish) self to snappy, headachey, and ready to eat your freaking face in a matter of about 5 seconds. And without any warning (my poor husband).
So what do you eat when you and your growing babe are suddenly famished?? Protein, of course! But where do you get your protein if you’re vegan? It’s actually really easy! Here are some quick and easy snacks that pack a punch of protein to keep you and baby satisfied and growing strong.

Roasted Chickpeas

This recipe is from This Grandma is Fun. Chickpeas are loaded with protein (39 grams in a cup!). With just a little olive oil and seasonings, you can munch on these all day without a second thought!

White Bean and Artichoke Basil Toasts

From A Pinch of Yum. I’m a total sucker for anything with spinach and artichoke. This recipe also calls for fresh basil, which happens to be growing in my garden right now. Yummmm!

Chocolate Chia Protein Pudding

From Running on Real Food
Super easy, super healthy, super delicious.

Black Bean Chocolate Protein Balls

From Emilie Eats. These protein balls have beans AND almond (or peanut) butter, so they are jam packed with protein! Eat up!

Four Ingredient Flourless Brownies

From The Big Man’s World. These brownies are vegan, paleo, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free.

Healthy Baked Oatmeal Cups

From She Likes Food. There are six different variations on this recipes, so you won’t get bored. I’m planning on making a whole bunch of them and stashing them in the freezer so I have snacks for me and the little man when baby girl gets here.

High Protein Black Bean and Lime Dip

From Hurry the Food Up. This dip is super quick to make (like, 10 minutes or less) and is deliciously good for you.

Protein Breakfast Bars

From Wallflower Kitchen. Breakfast bars aren’t just for breakfast, guys. Grab one of these any time you’re feeling a little hangry.

Salted Lime Popcorn

From My Sequined Life. Life a margarita but crunchy and you can have it while you’re preggers.

Salt and Vinegar Roasted Edamame

From Emilie Eats. Because I’d be lying if I said that I don’t drool over salt and vinegar potato chips, and these satisfy that craving and are 1000xs better for you.

Red Lentil Granola Bars

From FANNEtastic Food. In case you were getting tired of all the black beans on this list, this recipe switches it up and uses red lentils. These granola bars are yummy and packed with amazingly healthy ingredients.

Chocolate and Black Bean Smoothie
From (Never) Homemaker. No picture, but this smoothie is easy and delicious.

Black Raspberry Chip Protein Nice Cream

From Beaming Banana. Ice Cream with protein?! Sign me up! This recipe calls for SunWarrior Protein Powder, but you could substitute with your favorite vegan protein powder. Switch up the frozen fruit to create lots of different flavors.

Mashed Chickpea Salad


From the Glowing Fridge. Perfect for when you’re craving something fresh and fast.

Avocado and Banana Smoothie

From PopSugar. This smoothie contains honey, so if you’re a strict vegan you can swap it out for a little agave nectar or maple syrup, or omit it entirely.

Apple Oat Protein Muffins

Another from Running on Real Food because her stuff is delish. This little muffins are also gluten-free. I like to make a bunch and throw them in the freezer so I always have a quick snack on hand.

Avocado Toast with White Beans

From Abbey’s Kitchen. No vegan snack list would be complete without an avocado toast, right? It’s so trendy right now. This one combines avocado and white beans for extra protein and is topped with delicious homemade roasted tomatoes.

Cauliflower Hashbrown Patties

From Healthier Steps. My son loves the Trader Joe’s hashbrown patties, but let’s be real – they’re basically french fries for breakfast. This recipe is a healthier, more protein-filled spin on the classic hashbrown patties.

Endurance Crackers with Hummus

From Oh She Glows. These crackers are not only vegan, they’re gluten-free, nut-free, sugar-free, and oil-free. Oh, and guilt-free! Serve with hummus for a protein-filled snack for you and baby.

Israeli-Style Extra-Smooth Hummus

From Serious Eats. Have you ever read the ingredients label on store bought hummus? They’re often filled with cheap oils, preservatives, and other nasties that your body doesn’t need. But hummus is a staple in our house, so what to do? Make your own! It’s cheap, fast, and reaaaaaaally easy!

Edamame-Ginger Dip

From Eating Well. This dip is like hummus sprinkled with Asian flavors. So, so yummy, and so, so protein-packed. Try it with rice crackers or carrot sticks.

Avocado Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

From A Cookie Named Desire. I know, another smoothie but this one seriously tastes like a milkshake and it’s soooo healthy for you.

Baked Vegan Buffalo Cauliflower Dip

From Veggies Don’t Bite. Baby girl has been craving buffalo and ranch EVERYTHING this pregnancy. Or maybe it’s just me, but whatever…. I need all the buffalo and ranch. This recipe has the yummy buffalo flavor with none of the guilt and all of the protein. Everyone wins!

Soft and Chewy Protein Granola Bars

From Running with Spoons. Nice and simple granola bars. These remind me of the store bought granola bars but so much healthier. This is another recipe that you can double or triple so you have extras on hand for when you need a quick snack.

Rainbow Hummus Rolls

From Hello Nutritarian. These rolls make a perfect quick snack, or could be made into a meal by adding a side. Try it with the veggies in the original recipe or switch it up for different flavor combinations.

Eight Healthy Changes You Can Make Today

Let me see a show of hands of everyone who’s ever made a new year’s resolution? A bunch of you, right? How many of you stuck with the resolution all year (you don’t have to raise your hand).

If your goals didn’t stick, turns out you’re not alone: only about 8% of people actually achieve their new year’s resolutions. So does that mean that you should just throw in the towel and break out a bag of doritos? Nope! By setting small, quickly attainable goals instead of major life-overhaul resolutions, you’re able to stick with your goals and see quick results. Keeping in mind that health is a continual process, not a final destination, here are eight small things that you can start doing TODAY to get yourself on track towards your health goals. What would you add to this list to personalize it to your goals?

  1. Drink More Water. I know, it’s super basic, but I know that I get busy and forget to drink enough water alllllll the time. Aim for 9 glasses a day if you’re a woman and 13 if you’re a man. Drinking enough water not only helps to keep you hydrated, it helps to flush out toxins from your body, boosts your immune system and your energy, and helps with your complexion. So chug!
  2. Walk more. Or just move more in general. Get a fitness tracker and set a step goal every day. I usually aim for 10-15,000 steps a day. Make a game of it! Challenge a friend to see who can get the most steps. Moving every day not only helps with weight loss and management, but hello? It puts you in a better mood too!
  3. Take the stairs. I work on the 7th floor of my office building a few days a week and I’ve created a ‘No Elevator’ rule for myself. That means I’m hauling my pregnant booty up 7 flights of stairs several times a day. And if I can do that, you can do it too. Tone those legs and buns!
  4. Eat a piece of fruit and a veggie with every meal. Fill up on the nutrient-dense good stuff! The more fruits and veggies you consume, the more your body will learn to crave them and when the munchies hit, you’ll be more likely to reach for veggies and hummus than chips and dip. Perfect practice makes perfect!
  5. Take Time to Reflect. Carve out some time each day for intentional reflection. That could mean journalling, reading something that manifests spiritual growth, or simply sitting in silence and doing breath work. Even 15 minutes a day creates the potential for great personal growth!
  6. Laugh Often. Laughter is good for your soul… and your heart, your blood pressure, your hormonal levels, and your abs. So find a reason to laugh every day. Surround yourself with people who make you smile and laugh as much as possible. Watch silly youtube videos. Go to a comedy show. Talk with a toddler (Ransom always makes me laugh with his crazy stories).
  7. Get Outside. Spending time outdoors is a natural antidepressant, plus you’ll probably be moving around and getting extra steps in while you’re out there. Take a walk on your lunch break, go kayaking, or run around the backyard or the park with your kiddos. The hubby and I love to load up Ransom in the Ergobaby and walk down the road to our neighbor’s horse farm so Ransom can see the animals. Have fun and try to be in the moment, recognizing whatever unique sights and smells strike you along the way.
  8. Get a Good Night’s Sleep. Your body needs around 7-9 hours of sleep a night, and without that your physical and mental health take a major downwards spiral. If sleep is a problem for you, start by practicing good sleep hygiene. That means going to bed at the same time every night (approximately), turning off screens an hour before you want to fall asleep (no scrolling through Facebook or Netflix binging), and creating a relaxing bedtime routine, like a warm shower and reading a book, or sipping on a hot cup of herbal tea.