28 Things About Me Because I’m Almost 28

A while back when I asked you all for blog post topics, a few of you suggested I write a 20 things about me post, so I figured since my birthday is next week… and I’m turning 28…here’s 28 things about me you may or may not have wanted to know.

28 things about me

1. Fall is my favorite season. Ever. There is no debate.

2. My first cup of chai was from a street vendor in Kolkata, India. It was glorious. Nothing has compared to it since.

3. Speaking of India, I spent the last 4 days of my trip in the hospital. It was awful.

India hospitalization.

4. I don’t drink coffee. Unless it’s in a chicky mocha coffee type drink.

5. I’ve lived all over the US, but consider myself an East Coaster through and through. New Jersey and New England have always been home.

6. I’m the second born of 5. Three brothers, one sister.

7. Everyone in my family writes. And we’re all pretty good at it. Dad’s blog. Chris’ blog. Zachary’s Blog.

8. I was homeschooled most of middle and high school. Long story short, I was the girl everyone liked to pick on. It sucked. Luckily my parents were totally cool with homeschooling me and letting me graduate a year early. I went away to college 6 weeks after I turned 17.

9. Crocheting is my jam.

10. I have identical scars on both of my knees from falling on hot asphalt on two different occasions when I was 2 years old.

11. When Zach and I met for the first time, he was looking for another girl and I had another guy’s arm on my shoulder.

12. My first name is not Kristen.

13. I’m obsessed with scarves of all kinds. Head scarves, neck scarfs, fuzzy scarves, summer scarfs…I heart scarves.

14. The first time I tried a cucumber was at Zach’s house when I was a sophomore in college.

15. My dad refused to acknowledge Zach’s existence for the first 6 months we were together. Zach tried so hard. It was hilarious.

16. I’m 5’2.

17. Daisies.

18. Buffalo flavored everything always. (I had a bowl of roasted buffalo cauliflower for lunch yesterday.)

19. I bought Zach an offensively cheap wedding band because we were sure he would lose it immediately. He’s still got that ring on his finger.

20. I turn the bathroom light on when I have to use it in the middle of the night. My influence roommates kindly let me know that one should use the bathroom in the dark, but apparently their husbands have never left the seat up resulting in their tailbone’s demise at 2am.

21. I totaled my first car (a Buick LeSabre) two months after I got my license.

22. I had my first glass of wine this summer.

23. I gained almost 60 pounds when I was pregnant with Jonah.

24. This is Zach and I right after we made things official. I shaved his head. Everyone called me Delilah.

Firstly Official  25. My favorite color is mustard yellow.

26. I play piano and sing. ish.

27. The Walking Dead. The Office. New Girl. Call the Midwife. Shark Tank.

28. This is not Emery sitting on a bike. It’s me (and my older brother) circa 1988.

not emery.

 

And there you have it, friends. Now you know 28 more things about me. 28. I’m not sure how I feel about that number yet, but I don’t have to embrace it until Tuesday, so I’ll just embrace my last few days of being 27. #oldwoman Thanks for reading. Thanks for commenting. Thanks for supporting my family. Thanks for making this past year so amazing. Can’t wait to see what year 28 has for me!

Fight the Flu Season Naturally

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Zarbee’s Naturals. I received a product and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

I used to silently chuckle at people who believed in the power of plants and naturally supporting our body. I called these people hippies and thought eating organic and the whole homeopathic scene was a luxury and not something that was a legitimate and reliable option for the every day folk among us. And then I met Zach’s mom and she made me a believer. My first homeopathic experience was with a bottle of chasteberry syrup that I used to put in my orange juice every morning to help treat my ovarian cysts. I won’t go into that story right now, but the point is, I became a devout believer in the plants the good Lord gave us and have been on that journey away from traditional medicine ever since.

It’s getting colder and people are getting sick. It happens. But preventing illness is easier than treating it and I think we can all agree that we could be a little more intentional about our health and the health of our babies. So let’s talk immune support. We don’t do the flu shot around here. We do vaccinate our kids (surely you didn’t miss that facebook thread! yeesh.), but we’ve never been comfortable with that particular shot, so we just don’t do it. Which means we have to be extra intentional with our kids when the germs start spreading and people start getting sick. So how do we avoid the shot and the doctor’s office?

Natural ways to fight flu season

More protein, less red meat, and tons of veggies and fruit. What we put into our bodies absolutely affects our health and that’s even more true for children. Stay away from sugary foods and empty carbs like white bread, white spaghetti, waffles, chips, etc. Trade out the white carbs for whole wheat or multi grain.

Rest. I know. That’s probably laughable to most of you, but it really is important to keeping your immune system functioning and working well. Don’t let your little ones stay up past their bed time or skip naps. I know you can’t force your kids to sleep, but you can encourage rest and quiet time. Do whatever you need to do to make sure their little bodies get a break during the day and enough hours of sleep at night.

Essential Oils. I recently jumped on the Young Living bandwagon and we’ve been diffusing Thieves non.stop. It makes the whole place smell like Christmas and it kills airborne bacteria. I try to drink a cup of thieves tea (so good) at least once a week and I might even share with the boys if they’re lucky. Now that I’m noticing more sniffles and coughing when we’re out and about, I’ll be putting a little Thieves and coconut oil on the bottoms of their feet at night. It’s a natural immune booster and it’s just amazing. Feel free to e-mail me if you have any questions or would like to try some Thieves magic out for yourself!

Supplement. Zach and I have Vitamin C pills that we try to remember to take to give our immune systems a little boost. A little vitamin D never hurt anyone either, especially if you live in a climate where the sun disappears until April. For the kids, we’ve been using a delicious little bottle of Zarbee’s. It took a little convincing to get Jonah to try it out, but now he asks for it every day. He calls it orange candy juice? I don’t know. I just let it happen. We don’t use it everyday (per the instructions), just on high germ action days — grocery store trips, story time at the library, Sunday mornings before going to hang out with all the snotty kids at church… Zarbee’s tastes ah-maze-ing and it’s actually kind of a miracle that Jonah takes it willingly. He thinks everything in a bottle is medicine, and Zarbee’s is definitely not, nor does it taste even remotely like medicine. (If you think your toddler or older child won’t take anything liquid, they also sell gummy vitamins that are just as deceptively delicious.)

Zarbee’s is full of all the good vitamins, all natural, no dyes, and the baby immune support is safe for baby’s as young as 2 months old. We didn’t vaccinate Emery until he was almost a year, and he’s had one ear infection his entire 16 months of life. So. Take that as you will.

Here’s what you’re looking for when you hit up the store to help boost those immune systems under your care :

Zarbee's Immune Support

Uh oh. You just got a sneak peak at my ladder Christmas tree. SHH. That’s for another awesome post coming to you in December. Don’t tell the others.

Huge thanks to Zarbee’s for sponsoring this post and creating a product that I’m proud to blog about! Now tell me what ways you help prevent the flu from coming into your home? Do you take a more natural route?

*edited to add : I’m not a medical professional, nor am I offering medical advice. This is simply what my family does and what works for us, and if it helps you too, that’s great. Always check with a doctor before making any decisions about yours or your child’s health.*

Ecumenical Friendships

Growing up in the charismatic church, we learned a little bit about the Catholic faith and how our denomination and church came to be. Whether intentionally or not, what was taught to us about the Catholic church was quite simplistic. We were taught this generalized view of the church and of what the Catholic people were like and to be honest, I pitied them. These poor Catholics were so caught up in their religion and their practices that they would never be able to experience the freedom that comes from a real relationship with Christ. I’m embarrassed to even acknowledge that I’d prayed for some of my Catholic acquaintances to be freed from the bondage of religion so they could truly know Christ.

Sigh.

There have been a few relationships over the years that have shown me the folly of my protestant ways, but none more gracefully and lovingly than my friendship with these ladies I’m about to introduce you to. Over the next few weeks, every Wednesday will be dedicated to breaking down the walls that have been built between the Catholic and Protestant church. Each person will answer the same few questions and we’ll all get to know each other’s faith a little deeper. Read through to the bottom of the post to find out how you can participate in this movement!

ECUMENICAL FRIENDSHIPS (1)

First up is my beautiful friend, Cassie Kent. She blogs over at Kent Heartstrings and she’s pretty much the bees knees. She’s a party animal and has more energy than anyone I have ever met in my entire life. She’s crazy and I love her.  Craziness featured below :

Kristen & Cassie || Ecumenical Friendships

How did you come to your faith?

I learned my faith first from my parents. They brought me up in the Church, I received faith formation and all the catholic sacraments. But I would say I made my faith my own in high school. I went to Protestant school and was asked a lot of questions about my Catholic faith and I realized I did really know all the answers, so for the first time I actually searched for truth, discovered my faith for myself and really loved it! It became mine and I wanted to live it out even more.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced with your faith?

I would say the biggest challenge I have faced with my faith is not becoming complacent, mediocre or lukewarm in my faith. It’s very easy to become comfortable, especially in the Catholic faith where the tradition and routine of the mass can tend to lend itself to being redundant (even though it shouldn’t!), so people settle into their routines and do not stretch themselves in their faith. I do not want to be complacent I want to strive to Love God better, serve Him more fervently and always be discerning in seeking His will for me in my life.

What does Ecumenical Friendships mean to you?

Ecumenical Friendships, to me, means building bridges instead of burning them. Celebrating the commonalities and embracing the differences that exists in our faiths. It is a very powerful thing to stand side by side with your brother or sister in faith and fight the battle ultimately we are all on. We are all on God’s team, the enemy is satan- not each other. We can make a greater stance again the evil one if we unite together against him, instead of focus on the idiosyncrasies they lie between us.

Did you have any incorrect perceptions about what the Protestant church was like? What were they and who helped you see things differently?

I think the greatest incorrect perception I had of the Protestant faith is that it is shallow. Protestants are only practicing their faith because it makes them feel good, they only go to church because the music sounds good, or they only go to church because the pastor was once a famous person now turned pastor or its a “trendy thing”.

The good friends I made in high school who were truly living out their faith and seeking Jesus, brought me to realize this perception is not true. They had a real deep understanding of Christ and had many powerful experiences of Jesus impacting their life.

So many people have flipped this perception on its head. Billy Graham, um hello?!! Kristen and Christie too my bloggy buddies, wow what strong women of faith, seriously they are so very inspiring!

Why do you think cross-denominational friendships are important?

I think they important because it keep us honest. They can challenge us and our faith, keeping us on our toes and always reflective of the truth in our lives. They give me a real reason to ponder the truth in my faith, and gives me the opportunity to dive into it deeper, or if something is unsettling really bring it to light, ask questions and seek answers until I am satisfied. Again, I do not want to be complacent, I want o be stretched and challenged in my faith and I believe great well formed and good intentioned cross denominational friendships can do that!

If you could break down one stereo type about your church, what would it be?

Wow. What one to choose, I feel like the Catholic Church seems to be so greatly misunderstood. I will choose our devotion to Mary. No she is not more important that Jesus, no we do not worship her. We love her. We adore her, because she deserves it and well, If we are truly looking to Jesus as an example to live as a Christian, he LOVED, respected and adored his mother, so we should only follow suit. Also, she was human, like fully, and so she is a great example of how to live our life completely devoted and given to Christ. The “yes” she gave to God to bring Christ to the world was epic! Jesus would not exits unless Mary let God work through her. So as a Catholic, she is kinda a big deal, but again…she is not God.

If you could share one thing that you’ve learned about Protestants with other Catholics what would you say?

I would share with other Catholics that we have a great amount to learn from Protestant faiths on how to make our faith personal. How to really grow in a relationship with Jesus and make him real in our lives, because after all he was made a man that we might know him and in turn love him. I feel we have a lot to grow in ways to that bring us closer to the person of Christ. I love and respect the intimate relationships many Protestants have with our Lord and I believe it’s an essential part of really making our faith mean something and growing in it. I want to know him, I want to love him more, I want to learn.

Cassie

Cassie is a stay at home mom, that never seems to really be at home. She is married to her college sweetheart and they have two kiddos in San Diego, California. She loves getting crafty and being real and writes over at Kent Heartstrings.

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Do you want to be a part of the Ecumenical Friendships movement? Here are a few ways to participate :

.Share your photos and stories of friendship and faith on instagram using the hashtag #ecumenicalfriendships. We’ll pick a few stories to feature every month.

.Email your answers to these 7 questions to kristen.lavalley@gmail.com with a short bio and a headshot and I’ll feature you in an upcoming Ecumenical Friendships blog post

.Answer the questions yourself or have a friend answer them and post on your blog. Send me the link and I’ll share it in next week’s post.

What Would A Mom Wear || Maternity Capsule Wardrobe

So I was pretty surprised to see how many of you were into the capsule wardrobe idea! I don’t really know why that surprised me since I know that the majority of you are into basically the same things I am and we’re pretty much the same people so obviously duh. I wasn’t planning on blogging through my capsule wardrobing process, but since you’re into it, I will! (If you have no idea what the hec I’m talking about, see this previous post.)

maternity capsule wardrobe graphic

So since I’m mighty pregnant, all my style and closet posts will me of the maternity sort. But the cool thing is that the capsule wardrobe is about creating a basic closet and getting rid of all the things you don’t need and don’t wear. You can take the principle that I’m learning to build my maternity style and apply them to your non pregnant selves.

And here we go.

One of the requirements of a simplified closet is that you have a few basic pieces that you can pull together in any assortment to make a put together outfit. The striped tee is a good basic to have in any wardrobe because it looks good on almost anyone and can be dressed up, dressed down, and paired with any number of “completer” pieces. This jacket is my go-to completer piece, but a cardigan would work just as well, which you can kind of see peeking out underneath my jacket. I call these photos the “oh look a penny!” shots.

maternity capsule wardrobe Maternity capsule wardrobe

My jeggings are my life right now because I just can’t find maternity jeans that work for me. I’m gonna hit up the Old Navy outlet soon to see if I can find some jeans with an underbelly band. Full panel maternity pants do not work for me, or really anybody, as I found out from your facebook comments last week. I mean, really, who do they make maternity jeans for? If petite women and curvy women both complain about the same thing, maybe the formula needs fixin, eh?

Another capsule wardrobe standard is to have an array of accessories to liven up your outfit. I’m not an accessory person, but scarves are everything. If you saw my scarf collection, you’d be in awe, but no, I don’t have nearly enough and my birthday is the 25th so I’m just saying.

I don’t want to talk about my shoes. They’re falling apart and I need new ones, but that’s real life right there.

And in true What Would a Mom Wear fashion–I stepped out of my comfort zone TWICE for this outfit and these photos. One : I’m wearing lipstick. This never happens. Two : I’m rockin the curly hair. Did you know my hair is super thick and curly? Well. It is. I don’t normally wear it curly when it’s short, but I also don’t feel like straightening my hair everyday, so this is me embracing what the good lawd gave me and trying to make it work for me. And I have to say, I don’t hate it.

Here is proof that I actually do look at the camera sometimes, but I feel really awkward about taking photos of myself and I don’t know how to act in front of the camera, so I apologize if you feel the awkward seeping from the corners of these pixels. Also don’t mind the blatant use of the remote control shutter release. I’m in love with it, but I don’t know how to use it subtly yet. If you’re a person who regularly takes style photos for your blog (Christina, I’m lookin at you!) please leave me all the advice, k?

maternity capsule wardrobe

Jacket : Rue 21
Shirt : Ross [maternity]
Scarf : thrifted
Jeggings : walmart
Shoes : Old Navy

Find the Sacred in the Mundane

The past year has been a pretty interesting journey for the LaValleys, and in that journey, our faith has been challenged a bit. For me, I tried to chalk it up to be busy as a mom and not “having time” to sit and pray and read and develop my relationship with Christ. But that was a cop out. When I say “I don’t have time”, I’m really saying, “I’m not going to prioritize that.” I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with life, bitter towards anything I thought was “over spiritual” and the more I felt that conviction of needing to put Jesus back on the throne, the more I pushed it away and internalized my anger.

It took a while for me to realize that I was angry with God. And let me just say–it’s totally ok to be angry with God. Scripture is full of people who were real with God about their emotions and their anger and God didn’t smite them down. Quite the opposite, actually. Jonah is named after one of those “got real with God” characters. The problem isn’t the anger, it’s failing to acknowledge it. My anger with God wasn’t unwarranted or inappropriate, but by refusing to acknowledge it and deal with it, it was causing a rift in my spiritual life.

When I finally sat down and faced my frustrations and my lack of faith and had my “Seriously, God? Get it together!” moment, I decided to take some actionable steps to prioritize my relationship with Christ. Who I am as a mother and a wife suffers when my priorities are out of wack and I’m done being a frustrated victim of my life. But finding quiet time to pray and read Scripture doesn’t come easy to me. And then when I scroll through my instagram feed and see photos and read captions of these women (who seem to have it together far more than I do) with their Bibles out and their cups full of probably still warm coffee and their hearts are full of inspiring truth and wisdom from Scripture, I’m just like, “HOW? HOW DO YOU DO THIS?” Even if I manage to actually sit down and open up the Bible, I’m just reading it. I’m not journaling, I’m not praying, I’m simply reading. I don’t  have the brain space to actually apply that Scripture to my life in that moment, much less come up with a compelling word of encouragement for the masses.

So if you ever see me post a photo on instagram that looks like this :

You can rest assured that what is actually going on is a lot of this :

   
And if I have an inspiring word of encouragement for the masses, it’s most likely something that I wrote down weeks or months ago when I sat down to process what I’d been reading and praying about. I’m determined to be more intentional about my relationship with Christ, and that includes not comparing my walk with someone else’s and on top that, not putting myself up on a pedestal to speak life and hope to moms everywhere. I feel like most of the time, when people do that, they end up just making others feel inferior in their spirituality and I’m not about that life.

I’m struggling to maintain a prayer a life while swimming through Cheerios and Ninja Turtles and round ligament pain and running a business. Sometimes I don’t open the Bible for days. Ok. That’s a lie. Sometimes I don’t open the Bible for weeks. But I’m learning that I have to give up the idea that there will ever be a perfect time to get alone and do my thing. Sometimes, my quiet time isn’t quiet at all and is smack dab in the middle of Jonah and Emery’s sword fights or snack time or bath time. Maybe that’s the way it should be. Maybe, once you become a mom, your spiritual life isn’t “yours” anymore. Maybe we need to give up the idea that we need to be alone, or focused, or that it needs to be quiet. Our kids need to see us prioritize their faith so that they can learn to prioritize their own.

So the only encouragement I have for the masses today is this : find the sacred in the mundane. Let go of the idea that to be intentional with your faith you have to be totally engrossed, “getting something out of it”, journaling, applying it to your life immediately and that you have to stand up and walk away changed every time. The Bible breathes life always. Don’t wait for the perfect time to open it up, because that perfect time will never come. Be intentional with your faith by finding moments and making the most of those moments. The rest will come later.

Find the Sacred In the Mundane