Perspective by Kate Brightbill

 photo via Disney

photo via Disney

Last night we let the girls watch The Queen of Katwe. Have you seen it? It's a beautiful story about a girl in Uganda who lives a life of poverty in a slum, but is given hope in her future through her masterful ability to play the game of chess. 

We are living an average middle class American life in one of the most affluent cities in the world. Our children use phrases like "should we Uber or Lyft?" (probably Lyft, given Uber's current PR snafu), and "daddy, make sure you get the brown eggs that are 'organic farm fresh'" (anyone else see the specials on standard eggs and make the same switch??), and "Mommy, I have a tummy ache, can we get some chia seed juice?" Bottom line: we live in a bubble of beautiful views, weird tech lingo and attempts at nutritious lifestyle, while also shamefully paying $5 for a scoop of (incredible) insta-hyped ice cream in a cone. Welcome to San Francisco, friends. 

We are raising children who live in this bubble, children who have not yet seen the world, and it's something I wish I could show them firsthand, but it's not yet the right time.

Before having children, I felt in my heart that someday I would be bringing my five-year-old to African villages and teaching them about life and struggle and hope through people who lived it and are living it. I would definitely be cultivating a desire and passion in my future children by physically taking them on trips to do what we can help all people. Twelve years later, I have not even returned to Africa or Haiti on my own, let alone with our entire family.

Good intentions only go so far, so we show them the Queen of Katwe to give a glimpse into a child's life that is so different from their own.

The struggle for Brian and me, as I'm certain can be relatable for many middle-class-American families is: how do we create a childhood for our children that is full of beautiful moments and memories, giving them everything we can to become set for success and smiles... while simultaneously teaching them to CARE for the world as much as they care for themselves. To care for people, care about stories of others- whether good or bad- to care that there are motherless children and with a monthly allowance, we actually have the privilege of helping those children? To teach them that the world does not actually revolve around them-- and that them complaining of wanting Indian takeout rather than the Thai takeout is the epitome of ungratefulness?

Well. 

After watching the Queen of Katwe with our children to teach them perspective, it is me who learned the lesson... AGAIN. The lessons I so badly want to teach my children begin with me. I wake more mornings than I'd like to admit, groaning about peeling my sleepy self out of my soft covers when my beautiful healthy toddler yells "mama up?, daddy up? mama? mama?" Bleary eyed, I walk to his room and pick him up. My dear son has all his needs filled and his health intact. He knows his next meal will come at the right time and that he has clean water or milk at his disposal. If I think beyond my sleepiness, I am beyond grateful to God for all of these things we have been given. 

Should this not be sufficient in giving me a heart full of overflowing thankfulness and wanting to give back to others? How then do I find myself becoming a bear when I realize that I have run out of coffee filters and need to walk three blocks with three children to the coffee shop to purchase a cup without blinking at the price until I can replace said filters? 

There you have it. An attitude of ungratefulness in me is something that is passed down without ever noticing. A chat about how thankful I am for coffee at all is the better option, and it was my reality today, after my dose of perspective last night.

Tomorrow I will undoubtedly forget again... and the tomorrows after that, I will forget again. My children will notice and do the same.

But some days I will remember to cultivate hearts of thankfulness and teach our children to care for others right in front of us, and around the world. And some days I will teach the right things at the right times. 

And I pray that's what sticks.

xx

Prynt Love by Kate Brightbill

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There is a lot of technology out there for pictures: photo book apps, print apps, etc., but none of them has been quite as simple for me as the Prynt case and app. I've thought to myself so many times about how I should really go and make a quick photo book using one of the photo book apps with pictures from this or that trip, or memory. It just isn't as easy as pressing a PRINT icon and having my photo just come right out from my Prynt case in the comfort of a chair in my living room...

I got my first Prynt case last Mother's Day and it was a gift I kept using and using... but I upgraded my phone last fall and never ordered the adaptor for my new phone, so it sat unused for months. Prynt offered to send the new version to me, and I happily accepted. I've missed the ability to print photos and tape them to the wall and keep them updated around the house!! 

The app is user-friendly in every way. It's become even simpler to use this time around-- just plug your phone into the case, turn it on and open the Prynt application, and take a picture + a video (you can edit the picture in the app if you want! I find that I like to make mine extra bright because they print in slightly darker, more saturated colors), then hit the Prynt icon and your picture come right out of the machine. I LOVE IT. I've used the prints in the cutest spread over the girls' dresser in their room... just got some washi tape and taped them right up there. The girls love having their friends' faces and good memories to see every day. 

Last year, I made a video to show how to use the Prynt case specifically, so if you're interested in some extra info on it, click HERE to see my post. ;) 

Prynts are perfect for end-of-year cards or small memory books for teachers (the simplest and VERY meaningful gift!!), for recaps of vacations this summer, and for every-day entertainment. My kids literally hover around the Prynt to watch the magic after taking a picture, which is so much like the good ol' days. 

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Brian was kind enough to take a pic from behind the scenes. Here's what we crazies look like when I take a shot of them by a random wall in the city. Mostly they're dancing and Jack is looking like "my sisters are crazy but I love it anyway." 

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They crack me up so much!! The verbals were: me, "wait for it, wait for it, wait for it... voila!!" and them: "let me see, let me see!!" and Jack making noise and waving his hands because he can tell they're excited and he wants to get in on everyyyything. 

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One last thing: do you see the key at the bottom right of the images? THAT, my friends, is a video. Using the Prynt App, you can scan the pictures and see the cute little videos behind them! This works best if you want to send a little card over to a friend-- record a video of your kiddos telling their friends happy birthday or hello, we miss you!, and have the ability for them to watch the message from their app! So cute!

And there you have it! So much fun in one little machine. Makes me so happy to have all the fun back in my hands ready for summer break... Thanks so much Prynt! xoxo

Maybe they won't need therapy? by Kate Brightbill

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Last week, Brian found an old blog post that I wrote on a family blog when I used to do that sort of thing. He told the girls to listen as he read something he found that day... and when he had finished, we had two little girls beaming in pride. 

"Who wrote that???" they said, "Is that about us?"

He told them it was their mommy that wrote it, and they looked at me with wide eyes and smiles, then Sophie said "Ohh Jack, when you're a big boy, I think mommy will probably write something like that about YOU too!" Both girls hugged me tightly and kissed me and told me they loved it.

The writing was nothing phenomenal or special, and I had no idea that their hearts would be so full from something so simple. I've been writing during their naps and bedtimes since they were born-- some years more than others-- and I realize that they have had no idea, really. They have seen me with a computer occasionally typing, but I just say "girls, I have a little work to do while you play," and they don't really ask questions about it. 

I have often wondered if children of bloggers will need some special kind of therapy when they are grown. We are the first generation of parents inclined to create sites to remember the small details of our children's lives. Kids have SO much time in front of cameras, and parents like me share musings about their childhood on websites... It has made me cautious about how much I share (frankly, not much), and how many pictures I take (frankly, way too many).

I've had moments of mom-guilt while typing (and subsequently deleting) blog posts reflecting on the small and big details of days I thought were special. "These moments don't need to be typed. They were just enjoyed and let that be enough," I tell myself. Less is more, right? People must think I'm the chronic over-sharer. Ugh, I should stop writing. I should simply step away and be vague and skip the sharing-the-heart posting. Maybe "they" are right. 

But there is something inside of me that wants to keep writing. Something that tells me that maybe- just maybe- my children will be... dare I say... thankful  rather than resentful? Thankful for the reflections, thankful for the words? Maybe they will actually appreciate that I share the memories, and their mama's perspective while living those moments. Maybe when they are living similar moments in their future, they will find my words a comfort. Maybe they will understand how deeply I love them through the words typed on a screen.

So I will write. I will write for me, and I will write for them. Here or there, in the quieter spaces where no one else reads, I can write my heart.

xo

Managing Crazy Kid-Hair by Kate Brightbill

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Post is sponsored by SoCozy. All opinions are my own.

I was pregnant for the first time nine years ago, which is a thought that completely blows my mind. When they say time flies, "they" aren't kidding. I was pregnant and deep in the baby product research phase... checking ratings on any and everything that would touch my precious firstborn's skin. As I researched, I realized that the basic baby shampoos often have pretty harsh ingredients, but said products at the time were the best for helping with cradle cap and eczema. It almost couldn't be helped. After Sophie was born, I switched from brand to brand, and never quite found the winning product. When Maggie came along, I tried out the Honest products... I liked their diapers far and above all others, but their shampoo just didn't quite get the job done. The flakiness remained on Maggie's baby scalp far longer than I would like, but I couldn't go back to non-toxic once I knew the ingredients, even if I knew they would be more effective, so I kept it coming to the house.

When I was first introduced to SoCozy, it was a new product on the market. The smell in itself was enough to keep me interested... then there was the fact that it wasn't simply shampoo and conditioner for children... it was non-toxic shampoo and conditioner. They also have lice spray (keep the lice OUT of my home, yes please!), they have styling gels in different holds for all the baby and children's hair textures. They even have products specifically devoted to swim hair. The key to SoCozy: it actually works. It cured the flakiness and keeps hair fresh. We've used everything SoCozy offers except the curls line (my children have the straightest hair!), and now we're using... 

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The sensitive line! YES, SoCozy launched a sensitive line that I so wish I had when Maggie was a baby. The line is called SoCozy Hush, and offers shampoo & conditioner (it's a 2-in-1), a de-tangler, a scalp serum, and a styling foam. 

I am legit excited about the shampoo/conditioner (something only a mother would say). The top of the product cap twists, I give a little squeeze to get the product out, then I use the soft brush at the top of the bottle to gently scrub the shampoo/conditioner on Jacks head. It has worked wonders for getting all that baby cradle cap finally pulled off the surface of his scalp!!! He loves the gentle movement on his head and doesn't try to pull away when I'm brushing. It's a game changer, friends. 

The other standout is the styling foam. I admit that I am THAT mom who uses styling products on my children, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Here's the thing: when I don't, my kids look like they haven't brushed their hair in weeks. Literally, the strings of flyaway hair lay directly in front of their eyes and they won't even notice enough to push it behind their ears! The styling cream keeps those strands away from their eyes and gives a little volume to the overall hair, and it does wonders for all three of my cuties. 

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We like keeping Jack's hair thick and full, not too short and not too long. The front of his hair tends to get in his eyes and the back of his hair tends to stick up straight without any product, so it has been a daily routine to run some product through his hair to keep it tame. The girls get the treatment when I'm feeling less of that before school rush. I used it a lot this week when we were heading to the beach and I knew the wind would be unruly and their manes totally out of hand. Very effective, as usual. The de-tangler is amazing post-bath to get the knots out of their tresses. 

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Target is now carrying the SoCozy Hush line, which makes me so happy. All the best in a store with furniture, food, and mops... there's no reason to make an extra trip anywhere else. Most SoCozy products are with other hair product aisle, but the hush line is placed in the baby aisle, so be sure you're heading to the right department when you shop, OR, just get them online!

I rarely accept sponsored posts on the blog, because I don't want to be the push-the-products site, but this post IS sponsored by SoCozy. I was introduced to SoCozy products about three years ago through blogging, and I've been using them on my children since. It feels natural (and thoroughly beneficial to me AND you) to be able to discuss something I love already in a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. There's a disclaimer for ya.

Balancing Activities {& Tea Collection Giveaway!} by Kate Brightbill

  Activewear c/o  Tea Collection

Activewear c/o Tea Collection

Ahhh, spring and all the activities it brings.

Before my kids were in school, I decided I would not EVER be the family that over-schedules. Why do so many things when kids just really want to be kids and play creatively and freely?

My opinion about activities has adjusted through the years. The truth is: kids can really thrive when they take classes, and I am happy to be able to have them pursuing passions and learning new things in a class form. Also, in our case, THEY LOVE IT. 

We discussed so many options for the spring activity list as a family, and then Brian and I had to really talk through it all... 

  • How active is active enough?
  • How active is too active?
  • How many classes should I have my kids be taking?
  • Do I let them pick or do I decide for them?
  • Are these even the right choices?

I don't know the answer to the last question, but we feel good so far.

For us, swimming is the essential... the no-brainer... the safety-first activity. Brian and I want water-proficient kids... not just kids who can paddle mostly without sinking, but kids who can swim laps easily. We're there with Sophie (she's just fine-tuning her stroke form), and Maggie has improved dramatically, but we're keeping them in for a bit longer. We don't want to mess with water hazards and we're near pools and beaches as much as possible during the summer.

All year we put a ton of mileage on swimwear. I'm so glad Tea Collection launches swimwear early in the year. We're at lessons every week, and my kiddos needed some good updates to their swimwear (particularly Maggie, who had a great growth spurt since last summer and was constantly tugging on her suits during class!) We've found some of our favorite suits for class or for the beach, year after year at Tea Collection. Maggie loves one-pieces and Sophie loves tankinis, so we ordered this and this to start the spring summer season (and plan to order THIS for additional beach-day sun protection!).

-- keep reading for a giveaway at the bottom of the post to win any of these!

  Side note: THE PHOTOGRAPHY!! I'm loving the new  Tea Catalog  with all these gorgeous images!!

Side note: THE PHOTOGRAPHY!! I'm loving the new Tea Catalog with all these gorgeous images!!

Sea Fan Rash Guard . Callala Bay Halter

Noosa Swim TrunksEsperance Rash Guard . Snapper Rocks Swim Trunks

Bloomin' One Piece . Curl Curl Baby One Piece . Tallow Beach Swim Trunks

We want our girls to also to do a sport regularly. Neither of them particularly liked soccer (Maggie wanted to bail on every game halfway through), but the Steph Curry/KD Warriors madness around here gets them into basketball, so we signed them right up. Maggie is a little young, so we may just wait a year (she can't reach the basket with the ball and that can be discouraging for her), but Sophie is into it! She's doing her footwork, dribbling, and shooting skills every week, but her favorite part of practice is the competitive sprint time. She LOVES winning the races (and has been telling me that her oversized pants were what were holding her back, haaaa). 

Both girls had a number one activity choice and it was dance. Hiphop, to be specific. We found a class that they can take together twice a week after school. THEY LOVE IT.

They also started getting particular about what they wear those days of the week. "No jeans today, mommy! I need to be able to dance!!" 

The other day, we got a box in the mail with pieces from Tea Collection's new active wear for girls. My girls went nuts. I mean, they love any packages that come in the mail, but this one was like an urgent, "I need to try these outfits right now!" kind of excitement.

Sophie got active leggings and a tank, (which is exactly what she's been wanting and asking me to get for her!), and as soon the box arrived she changed into her clothes and took off sprinting down our SF hallway. "I'm faster mom!! I'll be able to win when we race this week!! And can I please also wear this to school so I can dance better after school?" Yes, and yes, (and looks like we may need to place another order so I don't have to be washing these three times per week)! 

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Maggie changed into her joggers and tee (with a koala on it!!) and started dancing right away, as she does. "These are PERFECT" (I wish you could hear the way she pronounces the word 'perfect.' It is my favorite). 

The joggers really are perfect. They're ideal for transitioning from a cute school outfit to one that moves easily while she practices her hiphop moves. She named the koala on her shirt Rainbow, and has worn it multiple times already this week. 

So much good activewear on the site, so I'm giving you a peek below:

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We're obviously excited about the active wear and that we now have a go-to spot to find athletic gear that fits and breathes as the kids move.

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I always read blogs and have the nagging question about sizing, so here's what I'll give you: As a sizing reference, Sophie generally wears size 5's in jeans, size 7's in leggings, and these we got in size 6 and they fit perfectly. She's tiny in weight and average in height, according to the pediatrician's charts. Some activewear falls as she runs (which drives her nuts because it messes with her running speed! ha!), but these stay up on her waist easily. Her top is a size 7, and fits great, though she also could have definitely worked with a size 6 for a more fitted look. Hoodies are perfectly true to size.

Maggie's sizing is more true to her age-- she's truly average height, exactly 50%, and slightly below average weight at her checkups. Her joggers run slightly big. We got a size 5 and she usually does 4/5 in jeans-- these were on the looser side, but we just folded the waist down once and they look exactly right and stay in place (no bunching. I would tell you if there was). I love it that they're slightly big in this case because it'll keep her wearing them longer, but if you're between sizes looking for an exact fit, I'd recommend sizing down.  

-----GIVEAWAY TIME:

So how can you get in on these goods? Enter my giveaway! I'm giving away your choice of either a Play Set <for boys, girls, baby boys, or baby girls, and there are swim sets as options!> OR your choice of four pieces of the new activewear line. Here's how to enter:

  1. Follow me on Instagram. (one entry)
  2. Follow Tea Collection on Instagram. (one entry)
  3. Comment below OR on my Tea Instagram post (coming soon) to let me know your favorite piece(s) from the Australia Spring/Summer line at teacollection.com. (one entry)

MOST IMPORTANTLY: let me know how many entries I owe you for the follows either below in the comment section OR on my Instagram post. So simple, yes? Happy Monday!

Giveaway ends Sunday, Feb. 5 at 11:59PST and will be announced on this blog post and IG Monday Feb. 6 at noon PST. Check back to see if you've won! If on IG, I'll be sure to tag you. 18 or older only. Not affiliated with IG. Thank you to Tea Collection for collaborating. All opinions are my own.  

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Mini Boden to the Rescue {book writing & giveaway!} by Kate Brightbill

A couple things happened this week at just the same time... the kiddos received a REALLY fun package from Mini Boden, and my at-home-try-on glasses arrived (because the last pair of glasses I ordered was from 2008, and it's time!!). 

Boden's spring line just so happens to have the most adorable adventure / superhero / to-the-rescue theme... and the girls just so happened to love trying my glasses to pretend they were in disguise. (They also appreciated having solidarity with Jack, because he recently got his own real pair!). 

The Boden outfits plus the glasses gave gave us an idea: we will write a mystery book! The story is inspired by their cute Boden clothes, and they are the detectives trying to solve the mystery in their book, using glasses as their disguises.

 Copyright 2017

Copyright 2017

The girls BLEW ME AWAY. We haven't finished our story yet (it may take a month, to be honest!!), but it has been so much fun to brainstorm and write and illustrate together!! Sophie is in charge of the story, and I am her editor. Maggie is in charge of illustrations, and Sophie and I are her assistants.

The story stems from a concept on Maggie's new sweater: a picture of a kitty ... saying WOOF! We decided that just like the picture, the culprit is a dog disguised as a kitty so he can sneak ingredients from the ice cream shop.

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So our story's setting begins in the shop (inspired by Powder shaved snow, which we got this weekend and WILL get again!): 

 Sneak Peek: Copyright 2017 ;)

Sneak Peek: Copyright 2017 ;)

We're drafting the whole story together, and then we'll do a final copy. We're loving the project. We have so much SF inspiration to pull from, so we're using it! I'm enjoying watching the skills they are learning at school applied in their storytelling. :) Kids are just amazing and are far more capable than I give them credit for.

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StyleSmaller // #minibodentotherescue
StyleSmaller #minibodentotherescue

Here's a little info on the outfits we put together from Boden, and in case you'd like to shop them for yourselves, be sure to use our 15% off coupon: 2E9T on any full-priced items, and also includes free shipping and returns on items over $49 (expires 1/29/17).

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StyleSmaller + Boden // #miniboden #stylesmaller

Sunglasses . Lucinda Jacket . Vintage Dress . Leather Boots

I also promised a giveaway, and it's a good one!!! 

We've teamed up with a few of our favorite blogs to celebrate the new Mini Boden line and to host this fun giveaway. Be sure to visit their sites for more cute styles and heroic fun. The Chirping Moms have a DIY cardboard rescue boat and superhero accessories. To go along with the accessories, Lay Baby Lay and Hello Baby Brown have DIY superhero capes. Hello Happiness visited local heroes to say thank you, and I Love You More Than Carrots has a yummy rescue themed snack and hero masks. Seven Graces is sharing why her kids are her heroes. For more spring style inspiration, visit Jordan & Co, Fancy Ashley, and Walking in Memphis in Heels

#minibodentotherescue 

*Product was provided in exchange for post. All opinions are our own.