Be strong. Protect the Weak. Love Everyone. ™

A small few...

kristi hayesComment
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Sometimes we think we won’t make a difference because we aren’t a big enough group, company or business. We doubt ourselves and we wonder if anyone is even listening. We wonder if we aren’t growing fast enough, if anyone is walking beside us or if our goals are even worth talking about.

Margaret Meads quote impacted me this week and gave me courage. I found inspiration to keep trucking along, to keep writing, being a voice and talking about what matters. The passions that have been placed on my heart are there for a reason. Mead reminded me of that.

I think many times we let the BIG be the destroyer of the IMPORTANT. We see the giant movements and great big influencers and assume that the journey to BIG wasn’t a struggle. We forget everybody starts somewhere and it’s not at 40,000 instagram followers. We forget that small groups of people doing enormous amounts of work were committed and steadfast. They kept on keeping on to make whatever it is they were passionate about start to change the world.

Every great influencing moment in time started with someone’s passion and dream, and a few committed people who believed wholeheartedly in something. It didn’t matter how big or great they became, they were in it for the mission and for each other.

What is it in your life you are passionate and committed to, that needs your voice, your efforts? What is discouraging you from knowing your passions matters?

I will be putting this quote where I can see it daily. Because I want to remember that every great movement in history started with a few committed individuals who believed in something greater than themselves.

Styling hoodies all the ways!

kristi hayesComment

Not sure you have seen the fashion blogs lately, but it seems like the hoodie and zip-up hoodie are the fall fashion piece for this year. And you can wear it a few different ways based on your personality. Yay, for us, because we love something comfy, but don’t always want to look like we just stepped out of bed.

Why not be comfy and stylish at the same time.

Here are our favorite ways to style our new zip up hoodie.

We have paired our hoodie and shirts with some of our favorite pieces from Evereve, one of our favorite stores for women and especially moms. Nothing like a store that cares.

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Pair our favorite pair of joggers with a hoodie and throw some fun sneakers on or chucks. Perfect look for grabbing your kids from carpool line or running errands. Comfy and cute is this look.

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If you want to dress it up a bit, throw on some jeans, and some great slides. Layer with a jean jacket or vest.

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Edge it up or dress it up, with a cool leather moto jacket, our be strong capsleeve tank, and some heels.

What’s your favorite way to wear your hoodie!

The Three things I will tell my kids every year before school starts....

back to schoolkristi hayesComment
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As school starts, we as parents want to prepare our kiddos for their school year the best we possibly can. So we get the new stainless steel bento lunch boxes and new backpacks, we spend WAY too many hours getting school supplies, unless your school gives you the opportunity to give them some cash and they will get them for you...which may cost more, but let's be honest I would give up my right arm, just to have someone else get school supplies. So the day before school we have all the "healthy" lunches made, the new outfit laid out with matching socks and shoes, and their school supplies in their backpacks, alarms are set, so when they wake up they are prepared. And all those are important, but I also want to prepare my kids for what lies ahead in their relationships at school, the heart stuff, so we talk about 3 simple things before school starts. Let me fill you in on what prompted these 3 things. 

You see a couple of years ago, my son was having a hard time on the playground with a friend. He would come home crying, with his feelings hurt, and really needed some help navigating the situation. At the time, it was in the middle of the school year. And REMEMBER when lunch box-making at the first of the school year was all Bento boxes filled with fresh, organic apples and carrots and all the things healthy? And, we prepared sweet little notes that were sure to change our children’s lives when they read it with all their friends at the lunch table?

Well, this was the middle of the year and those things were out the door. I was happy if they got some stale Cheez-Its and a water, and notes in lunch boxes were 3 months long gone.

I remember asking my husband if he could take over lunch making duties and asked him to write a sweet note in Holden’s lunchbox since I had mom guilt for missing those for the past few-ish months.

So he did...and the LUNCH BOX note he wrote:

He wrote the simple phrase:

BE STRONG

PROTECT THE WEAK

LOVE EVERYONE

 

That’s it. Not some long-winded mission and motto for Holden. Just that simple phrase to tuck in his heart as he was dealing with some playground heartbreak. Three simple phrases, that changed our heart and our life.

This note has been all around the country. We have since made it our family mission and now a formed a company to spread this message to the world. It started with some t-shirts for friends but has now evolved into a budding business that not only prints some pretty cool shirts, but has also driven our passion to help other families join with us to live this message out in tangible ways.

To wear this message is one thing, but to be empowered to live it out is certainly another.

So every year we talk about that simple phrase:

BE STRONG

 

PROTECT THE WEAK

 

LOVE EVERYONE

And I ask my 4th grader, "what does this look like lived out in your school, soccer field, lunch room, recess?" And we talk about each one. Sometimes we even roll play what he would say to someone sitting alone, or how he would notice someone who may need a friendly face. He is a little more of a quiet soul. So the way he might live out these three things will be quite different then how my first grader does it. 

And then I ask my first grader, how can you use your strength to love others this year? How can you be strong for someone else. She is a justice seeker and not afraid to be vocal about it. Last year there were multiple times she would vocally stand up for another. So we talk about that again this year. I ask her what concerns her, does she have any fears? What makes loving others easy or hard?

It's not a long, drawn out conversation, but it is something I want to prepare them for in advance. I want to prepare them to live this message out, in their personality, in their own ways.  But I want to set them up for success by discussing it with them. 

What if thousands of kids showed up at their schools with the same message in their lunchboxes, in their hearts, and were empowered to live it out? What if parents modeled this on a daily basis?

What would our schools and communities look like?

 

  • Would lonely kids find joy in a friend who reached out to them?

  • Would kids who are bullied find solace in the comforting words of a peer, who stood up for them?

  • Would teachers look forward to coming into their classroom because their students were full of compassion and respect?

  • Would kids excel in their studies because others were cheering them on, instead of tearing them down?

  • Would parents be able to share their hopes and failures with one another without judgement?

You fill in the blank___________.

Let’s dream big for our kiddos. Because one little note written on a napkin might just change somebody's word. 




 

 



 

 

 

BACK TO SCHOOL DREAMS

kids, back to schoolkristi hayesComment

The school year comes back at us fast and furious. The summer seems to go by in an instant, and we start to already miss what used to be the lazy mornings and absence of homework. But at the same time, we crave the routine and are ready with all that is in us to get those kids out of our house.

The weeks before school starts, always feels a little bit schizophrenic to me.

I want the routine, but I don't want the routine.

I want the kids home, but I also want them OUT of my house for the day.

I want the vacations and the pool days, but I don't want the mounds of laundry and moldy pool bags.

I love the loud house and laughter,  but I also crave hours of peace to get work done without being interrupted by "bubby hurt my feelings."

Even though I have radar jam of all the things I need to do, to get my kids somewhat prepared for school, (supplies, pants that aren't capris for my son, new lunchboxes that aren't full of last year's molded strawberries, preparing my mind for early wake-up calls and the constant, "what do you want for breakfast conversations.")

My dreams for my kids are always the same when school starts. Our conversations are still the same.

We reiterate our

BE STRONG

PROTECT THE WEAK

LOVE EVERYONE mission.

We remind them what that means, and we ask them how will it look at their school this year?

How can they live that message out? What does that look like on the playground or in the lunchroom? Are their EYES wide open? Are they letting their LIGHT'S SHINE?

Wouldn't this year be amazing if thousands of

kids SHOWED up at school with the same

message on their shirts?

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But they didn't just wear the message they were EMPOWERED to LIVE that message out. With EYES wide open, and LIGHTS shining bright? 

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What would our schools look like this year?

Would lonely kids find joy in friendship?

Would kids, who are verbally abused at home, find solace in the comforting words of a peer?

Would teachers look forward to coming into their classroom because their students were full of compassion and respect?

Would kids excel in their studies, because others were cheering them on?

You fill in the blank___________.

It's not about a shirt, it's about action. 

They start with wearing it, and then they live it out. 

 

(*All Kid's shirts are 15% OFF JULY 26th and 27th with coupon code: BACKTOSCHOOL)

 

 

 

 

SOCIAL MEDIA, THE GOOD, BAD, AND UGLY

kristi hayesComment
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Let’s talk social media...
You know on the other side of those shiny, sparkly pictures presenting life amazing and picture perfect, is probably a woman just like you. Who thrives at some of life, but who struggles with body image, and purpose in life, and being enough in the eyes of all her people, (family, employees, friends, volunteers, and the list goes on and on and on.) 

And on the outside you may see polished, or what looks like she has it all together, but in her insides she feels like she’s failing at the exact same thing you feel like you are failing at. 

PERSPECTIVE. It changes everything. When social media can make us feel like a failure because someone may be fitter, healthier, more successful, awesomer (not a word, but seemed appropriate), I guarantee they are struggling with the same feelings you are feeling. 

Social media can be a place of great encouragement but also can be a place of comparing and judgement, which serves no one. 

Let’s make it a place where we affirm, celebrate, and encourage. Where we show up for one another. Where we leave criticism of ourself or others at the door. Instead of comparing we cheer. We look at our journey as ours and theirs as their own. Knowing our purpose is just as great but may look different. We come along side someone and tell them the way they feel like they are failing, is not what we see at all. We see a woman who is trying her best and thriving in her journey. 

Y’all sometimes we just have to tell people how we see them, so they can see how God sees them. 
 

CHALLENGE THIS WEEK:
Tell 3️⃣people what you see in them. 
✅If you see someone parenting well, tell them, cause I guarantee they don’t feel awesome at it. 
✅ if you see someone being kind to someone. Tell them it inspires them. 
✅call a friend and name off the things you see them trying their hardest at. 

Let’s be cheerleaders for one another. Let’s be their eyes when they can’t see themselves. 

WHOS IN?!
 

The Summer of YES!

kristi hayesComment
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It’s the summer of YES.

Let me explain, I have two kiddos, both like to play with me, but my little girl in particular wants me to do all the things with her LOTS! 

Quite honestly it can pain me to sit on the floor and just play, or read, or color, my brain is going 100 Miles a minute and I have so many other things that “seem” more pressing. So more often than not, I say “not right now, “hoping she either forgets or moves on. Because something on my to do list hasn’t been checked off. Sometimes it makes me feel horrible after the fact, and sometimes I don’t even notice sadly, which makes me even feel worse. 

She asks me for help with things that I know she can do on her own, but just wants me close. Because time spent is her love language, it’s also mine. The other day she was about to ask me for help with something and she stopped mid sentence and said, “never mind.” Because she was anticipating for me to say, “you can do it sis.”

Although I want to foster independence in her and confidence to do all the things, and learn to play by herself. BUT sometimes she just wants mom to pay attention. 

So this summer is a YES summer, as many times as I can say YES to play, reading, looking in their eyes, choosing to be with them first, I’m going too. 

Because like every mom who has older kiddos, there will be a day they don’t ask to be with me. 

It doesn’t come natural for me to say YES, but I really want to. 

Here are some twinning outfits for you and your little. Because they won't stay little forever. 

Mama's tank

Daughter tank:

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Their pain/Our pain

kristi hayesComment
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This simple lunchbox note message has been on my heart this week. It’s on my heart most weeks, but as I read the paper this week, it seemed like tragedy was coming off the page. The suicide of Kate Spade, someone who looks like they have it all, has impacted me. 

I was over 30 when I got my first Kate Spade bag. I had to choose between a practical black one or this colorful turquoise one. You obviously know which one I picked.

It made me feel whimsy, playful, spunky, full of confidence. Every time I passed a Kate Spade store, I always had to go inside. It brought me so much joy to see all the bright colors, the fun, playful displays. The confidence it gave me to mix polka dots with stripes, and step out in bright colors, when others may be wearing all black.

You never know the battle those are fighting on the inside, even when their outside looks full of sparkle. 

Maybe it has hit me hard because we just never know what is going on in a person’s heart and soul on the inside. Maybe it has hit me hard because I know families who have dealt with similar situations, a son, a father taking their own lives, because they felt there was nowhere else to turn. Or maybe because it feels surreal that I am carrying my Kate Spade bag right now.  

That despair that another person could be feeling like this breaks me, and it should break all of us. Every suicide, every pain, every story, whether it be ours or someone else’s should break us, because we all belong to one another. Our pain is someone else’s pain, their story is ours.

Our little company’s message from a simple lunch box note makes me so passionate to get the word out in times like this. Because it’s something I believe our people, your people, all of us need to embrace more than ever. I wouldn’t work like I do to spread this message, if  I didn’t think it was so important to our people’s lives and their future.

BE STRONG-

To be strong we have to admit our weakness. That’s what REAL strength is about. Sharing our weakness with someone, sharing our brokenness, letting others know we are hurting.

PROTECT THE WEAK-

It’s showing up for others even when it’s inconvenient, it’s recognizing hurt and asking. It’s getting in the trenches with the broken.

LOVE EVERYONE-

It’s laying down our wants and needs for others. Helping others be strong when they can’t on their own, protecting them when they need some covering. Love covers all.

If you are struggling, call someone, tell someone. You are not alone! We all belong to one another. You are so very valuable and extremely loved by your Creator

Because we are a small business we have the opportunity to give to those things that tug our hearts. 10% of our Bag Sales for this summer launch will go to Celebrate Recovery, which focuses in helping those struggling with suicide, addiction, recovery from a broken path.

 

 

 

 

How Adoption Taught Me to Be.Strong 

kristi hayes2 Comments
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How Adoption Taught Me to Be.Strong

By Adrian Collins

I used to think strength was defined by moms who did it all without breaking a sweat. Moms who managed a household of babies, preschoolers and teenagers with airbrushed makeup and beach-wave tousled hair. Moms who made fluffy, homemade gluten-free pancakes and still found the energy to hit the gym every day. Moms who drove around in a crumb-free, vacuumed car.

I used to think strength meant having an advantage over another; something that made me stand out in a crowd by way of a particular talent or skillset. But years later, after making an adoption plan for my birth daughter, having three biological sons and adopting another, I now believe strength has less to do with my overall abilities, and more to do with three characteristics: Sacrifice, Courage and Authenticity.

Sacrifice —“A surrender of something for the sake of something else”

I learned sacrifice was a outpouring of strength as I swaddled my infant daughter one last time before she was permanently placed in the arms of her adoptive family. In those final moments, I thought my heart might shatter. It took every ounce of strength I could muster to give up my dreams of becoming a mom, for the best interest of my child.

I learned I was pregnant during my junior year of college. Holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand, I recoiled in fear and shame. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn for help. I held several leadership positions at the Christian university I attended, was a straight-A student and was in a committed relationship. Like many girls my age, I’d strived for perfection in every facet of life. An unplanned pregnancy was not part of my meticulously planned life.

When I announced the news to my parents, they were silent and stunned. Finally, my mom said, “Have you considered adoption?” Her question stung at first. I’d always wanted to be a mom and couldn’t imagine putting my own child into the arms of another. But the word “adoption” lingered.

Afraid of being released from my leadership positions, I grabbed a baggy t-shirt, a pair of leggings and an old sweatshirt that I wrapped around my waist to cover my growing baby bump. I’d hide my pregnancy for five long months, the entire Spring semester. Whenever I felt my unborn child stirring in my womb, I’d cradle my belly and whisper, “I love you little one,” and dreamed about life as mom. Over time, those dreams faded and instead morphed into heavy tears with the realization that I wasn’t prepared to be a parent. At the time, I wasn’t capable of giving my baby everything she deserved. In the end, my boyfriend and I made the heart wrenching decision to move forward with an adoption plan.

Leaving the hospital without my baby girl was the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. In the end, I laid aside my own dreams so that my little girl could have the chance to achieve hers. Through adoption I learned that sometimes the right decision, is also the most painful one.

Moms are the most sacrificial creatures on the planet. We sacrifice our time, our energy and finances to enhance the lives of our children. We put our dreams on hold for the sake of our little ones. At times, we may not feel rewarded for our sacrifice. We may even feel invisible. But know this—you are doing an amazing work in the lives of your children. Every tear you wipe, every hard conversation you have, every dream you help come true makes a lasting impression on the heart of your child.

Courage—“a moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand fear or difficulty”

It took courage I didn’t know I had to drive away from the hospital without my baby and head back to college to finish my degree. It took courage to step foot on campus amongst narrowed eyes of judgement and gossip talk that stripped my confidence on a daily basis. It took courage to forge ahead without my daughter, and trust that she was in God’s hands. It took courage to persevere when all I wanted to do was crumble in a heap.

There were times that I didn’t want to be courageous at all. Soon, I’d learn that courage can take us to places we’d never imagine.

A few months after I graduated from college, I married my high-school sweetheart, the father of my birth daughter, in a winter ceremony as snowflakes fell outside the church. Over the years, we had three boys and I cherished being a mom to each one of them.  Because of my adoption experience, I wanted to invest in the lives of other birth mothers and support them through the adoption process. I met one-on-one with young women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy and listened as they shared their heart and shed tears over their difficult circumstance. At the heart of every one of their stories was one similar theme—an amazing love for their unborn child.

During one of these meetings, my life was altered forever. I was asked by one of the birth mothers to adopt her baby boy.

I pondered her offer, searching for the right response. I could’ve told her I needed more time, maybe months, to think about it before I could get back to her. I could’ve laughed in her face and told her she’d picked the wrong person for the job. I could’ve announced I wasn’t up for the task. But when I looked into her longing eyes, full of want for a loving home for her unborn child, I found the courage to simply say, “Yes.”

Saying “yes” didn’t come without fears. When I agreed to adopt, I dwelt on all the things that could go wrong. I wondered, How will I handle raising four boys? What if I didn’t bond with my newly adopted child? What if I wasn’t good enough as a mom? When left alone with my fears, I trembled with doubt. But love and courage swallowed up those fears. As I held my newly adopted son in my arms, I learned to set aside my fears and embrace the journey ahead.

Moms, it takes courage to forge ahead when we are at our weakest. It takes courage to continue along your journey of motherhood, especially when it feels messy, chaotic or isolating. Every season of parenting comes with great joys and sorrows. Embrace new experiences that weren’t part of your original plan. And when the time is right, take what knowledge you’ve gained to help another through their journey.

Authenticity—“True to one’s own personality, spirit, or character”

Currently, I’m managing a house of preteen and teenage boys, none of which are fully trained to put down the toilet seat or pick up their underwear from the floor. I homeschool, but still cringe at their penmanship and spelling skills. I strive to maintain a healthy relationship between my adopted son and his birth mom. I’ve reconnected with my birth daughter and am blessed by her presence in my life.

While I’ve embraced the changing dynamics in our household, it hasn’t been without challenges. I spent countless years sprinting from one child to the next trying to manage their differing needs with flawless ease. By the end of most days, I’d find myself frazzled and locked in my bathroom, using a hand towel to soak up my tears of perceived failure. I wanted my house to look perfect, my kids to be happy and my life to appear stress-free. Eventually, I learned to dissolve my perfectionist attitudes and create a new mantra—my kids need an authentic mom to lead them into a healthy adulthood. I began to wonder what message I was sending to my five children by trying to make everything in their lives appear perfect. How would my children ever learn to accept the imperfections in themselves and others, when I couldn’t accept my own?

Learning to accept my imperfections as a mother is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s difficult to stare at my flaws day after day, with every one of my kids, and still find the strength to parent every day. Maybe I won’t ever be the Gilmore Girls-esque mom and know the right thing to say in every difficult situation. Maybe I’m not the always attentive adoptive mom. I can’t erase my kids’ struggles or hardships. I can only be my best authentic self, and use my God-given personality and experiences to guide my children to become their authentic selves.

To all the moms everywhere—you are valued, loved and cherished beyond measure.

 

 

 

 

The letter I would have written to myself as a new mom.....

kristi hayesComment
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Dear new mom trying to get her pre-baby-body-back and figuring out all the things, 

If I could have had someone tell me a few things after I had Holden, our first child it would have made things a lot easier for me. I think if someone would have said, "Hey, just to let you know, after you have your kid, you will not have your flat stomach back, you will most definitely look 6-months pregnant for awhile. People will ask you when you are due, even as you carry your newborn in a sling on your chest. It's ridiculous, but don't be offended. (I mean, it's ok to be a little offended…)

And hey, your 9 months of your pregnancy diet being EVERYTHING cheese will not go away the second that baby comes out. (I am talking EVERYTHING cheese. Like the orange baseball-game-concession-stand cheese.)

Nacho cheese

Mac and cheese

The more orange and fake the better.  

You will be out of shape, and you will cry every time you dare to put on pre-pregnancy jeans, if you can even remember where you put them.

You will feel overwhelmed and defeated most days.

Most days you will be happy to get a shower before you have to rush to breastfeed for the 100,930 time. You will clean up projectile spit-up multiple times, and when you finally rock the never-sleeping-baby to sleep, the DOOR BELL will RING! (Because the mailman or UPS guy, or Amazon Fresh delivery will never EVER see the cute little stork sign that says: "BABY IS SLEEPING!")

I remember having two little ones under the age of 3. Those were some of my hardest days to date. I felt alone and overwhelmed. I did not feel productive and was irritated most days.  I was basically in survival mode. I then remember the desperation of wanting to be back to my "old self."

I literally stared at my awesome pre-preggers jeans in my closet, wishing them to jump over my post-baby-thighs each day.

Provoking them: "Come on you can do it" I would say to myself, maybe if I just wiggle on the ground for a bit. “I must have just washed and dried these on high 9 months ago, and they shrunk.”

But it didn't happen.

I would think TODAY IS THE DAY, but today was NOT the day, for many months, even years. So I teetered in between un-buttoning regular pants and having them sit half-way on my buttocks with a long shirt covering them, or wearing maternity pants with an elastic waistband. And the summer is worse. Oh, the SUMMER! That is a post all in itself.

But lo and behind one day like a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE, the jeans jumped over my thighs. And one day I packed away my maternity clothes, and one day I felt kind of normal. But it took a lot longer then I had expected because I had no idea what I was doing. And that is just the physical part that plays into the big bag of emotions we now have going on. Thank you crazy hormones.

As I look back, here are some things I would tell my post-pregnancy frazzled self:

Dear Kristi,

1. EMBRACE THE SUCK

Some days will just suck. (I tell my kids not to say this word, but do has mommy says, not as mommy does).

You will have all intention of getting in your workout, which really just means walking up the stairs a couple of times before you have lost your breath. You will be discouraged, because your post-baby body will look, feel, and act, way DIFFERENT for awhile. Embrace the Suck, don't let it defeat you before you even start!

2. IT'S GOING TO BE OK

It will be ok. You will get through this, it is just a season. And once you are over it, you may have another baby, but you will know what to expect. It is just a season. It is just a season. This phrase gets me through most of them. Seasons come and go. Remember this is not forever. Your kids will be old enough to buckle their own seatbelt, and put their own clothes on, and take their own baths, and you will do a hallelujah dance. 

3. EXPECT INTERRUPTIONS

Yes, by the grace of God your baby and toddler might be on the same nap schedule for the day, and you are in heaven, because you have 30 minutes to get some exercise in, or read a book, or do something for you, but right when you are about to turn the workout DVD on, or get your weights set up, you hear the supposed-to-be-sleeping baby wailing in the monitor! Don't give up...Adapt and Overcome. Do some squats with the baby in your arms, make funny faces while you are doing push-ups, to make them laugh. It might not look like what you had planned, but it is something.

4. FIND HELP (this should probably be #1)

Whether it is someone who can watch the kids for 30 minutes a day, so you can stay sane,  a workout group who is going through the same thing, a friend who will sit in the hard with you, or a therapist to help with depression, find HELP. Don't sit in isolation, because I guarantee there is a mom right down the street feeling helpless and lonely just like you do. Get your strollers and walk together, be TOGETHER, make the hard call to a friend for the number of a counselor, do what you need to get you WHOLE.

5. DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT COMPARE

"Comparison is the thief of joy."

Do not compare yourself to any mom. You are all shaped and formed different, you will all bounce back differently. Just when you think you are doing well, you will walk by your friend who gave birth yesterday and she might be rocking a bikini. Tell her she looks great, and walk on by.

Do not stare, and do not COMPARE. Yes, there will be some body types, that will be able to strut down a runway 2 weeks after birth. They are the exception. Be happy for them and don't give it another thought. And don't talk about them…

6. YOU ARE THE BEST MOM FOR YOUR KIDS, PERIOD.

Trust your gut. Don’t ask a million other’s opinions. Because everyone will make you second guess yourself. You know your child’s needs and what best works for him. Don’t compare your parenting skills to someone else’s, they have different kids. They do organic baby food, awesome, you don’t, awesome. They homeschool, great, you send your kids to public school, great. You know your kid’s and the older they get the more you need to REMEMBER THIS!

7. START SMALL

Don't have in your head you will eat 1600 clean calories, work out 7 days a week, and will have post baby body back in 2 weeks.  (I remember feeling so frustrated because my expectations were absurd. I thought I would hop back on a bike the next week, sprint up hills again, like a 9lb baby didn't just come out of the exact place I would be sitting on a bike.)

Celebrate small wins everyday.

You took a shower- WIN

Eating a healthy snack, WIN

Kids didn't die today, WIN

8. REMEMBER

Above all, remember who you are and how awesome you are. You just birthed a baby for goodness sake. Your hips are out of place, you just ripped open your abdominals, (google C-Section if you want to be totally grossed out,) your hormones are whack. You have lots going on. Give yourself grace upon grace. With some work and patience your body will come back, maybe not the same, but who cares, it is just a body. Being healthy mentally and physically is most important.  Be patient, give yourself a break, kiss your babies and try to look at those stretch marks and extra skin as something to be proud of. Your body might not ever look exactly the same. But I promise with hard work, patience, and small choices daily, you will be surprised just how great you can feel.

P.S. These will be some of the hardest days of your life. It is super overwhelming. Go shut yourself in the bathroom and get out that cry! The hard sobbing, snotty one...then take a deep breath, look in the mirror and say I am the best mom I can be, dig deep, be patient, do the hard, and watch you surprise yourself.

Love, 

Me

I would love to know any thoughts you had after having a baby....what did you struggle or not struggle with. Guarantee most of us all have the same thoughts. You are never alone. 

DON'T FORGET to get all your favorite moms their favorite presents. Please get your order in before May 1st. SHOP HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHOWING UP FOR OTHERS

kristi hayesComment
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One thing we strive to do as a company is live out our mission:
 

BE STRONG
PROTECT THE WEAK
LOVE EVERYONE


Our favorite thing is doing this with community. We want to give you the opportunity to join us in serving the Homeless youth of Denver. Sox Place is a drop-in shelter in Denver that provides food and a safe place during the day to Denver's youth and young adults. They also provide employment in their screen printing shop.

THIS IS WHERE WE GET ALL OF OUR APPAREL PRINTED.

There are a few items on their wish list for their kids, something we know our community cares about. Many of these kids are sleeping on the streets. When I hear their stories I am amazed how many of them have even survived the trauma they have been through. 

Here are some items they are in need of:
1. Sleeping bags
2. Backpacks
3. Flash lights


We wanted to make it easy.

We have provided links to these items on AMAZON.  

All you have to do is click on the items above and it will lead you to an amazon link. pick an item or two, buy, and ship here: 

Sox Place address: 
2017 Lawrence St, Denver, CO 80205

 

Thank you in advance for your servant's heart. And showing up for others. 

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Loving our kids well..when sometimes we don't have a clue.

kristi hayesComment
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(Remembering a few years ago...I find myself on this same journey many days.)

To tell you the truth momming does not come naturally to me. It’s something I have felt guilty about in the past, that others do it so much better than me. That it's supposed to be natural and effortless, something I should feel like I was born to be. It’s something I have to work at…something I have to be intentional about. Other things come easier.

I am not downplaying being a mom for one second. I wouldn’t change it for the whole wide world. But I would be lying if I didn't tell you it isn’t hard, exhausting, and self -sacrificing on so many levels, and that’s probably why it it may feel hard for me. We all want to preface it with, it’s so worth it, but dang it is hard. 

But this week I caught little glimpses of why it’s so worth it, being a mom to these two. The way they love, care, and stick up for one another is all I need to see. The way they still make each other laugh after hours together in the car, the way they have their own private jokes, and the way they cheer each other on is priceless to me. I love seeing how they are being strong for one another, protecting each other, and loving one another in their actions. 

It could be as simple as Holden making a nutella sandwich first for his sister before he makes one for himself, or sis bringing down Holden’s favorite blanket without him asking, just because she knows he needs it.

This week we went to McDonalds playground. Some mean girls decided to stake out the playground apparently. We didn’t realize McDonalds had playground gangs. 
I guess the little girls said, they were going to take away Carter Mae’s doll that she had in her hands, because they were the boss of her. 

Holden sitting right beside her says, “you could never take it away from her, she’s too strong.” 
 

The little girl said, "I am stronger, look at me I can climb this pole.” (she starts to climb the pole, but doesn’t get far).

Holden: "Well, my sister can climb a rope all the way to the roof, so….”

Grant and I watched this take place and we watched our son protect his sister without being asked. We watched his sister beam with confidence and pride because her favorite person was telling others she was strong.

It was one of those weeks, I just really melted into my role as mom, even though that word encompasses so much.

I think I just wanted to let other moms know who are in the throws of young mommy hood that it’s ok to feel exhausted, tired, and even like you weren’t made to do this thing. The little years are not for the faint of heart.

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There will be days when you feel like you GOT IT, and days you have no idea why you were asked to be these kids mom, because you most certainly will screw them up.

Other things may come easier to you and you may compare yourself to others. You probably haven’t slept very well, and you probably forgot what “YOU” were before kiddos. 

And although those days come and go, sometimes it feels like you are in a season forever, there will be glimpses and experiences that you sit back and just can’t believe you get to watch these little ones come into their own, and it starts to mean something, it starts to mean everything and you soak it in and, breathe deep and, think I'm doing ok...

Recently I did a FACEBOOK LIVE on loving our kids well. I asked lots of people about what this meant to them. To watch this https://www.facebook.com/bestrongstory/videos/544046459303868/

We talk about:

LOVE LANGUAGES
QUALITY TIME
HOW TO LET GO
ROUTINE
GIVING OURSELVES GRACE

 

We would love to hear your thoughts and advice, and the moments that make you sit back, and say, "everything is going to be ok!"

BE STRONG....

kristi hayesComment
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Be strong... it’s a great phrase. People tell us this all the time, when we feel weak or need a little extra umph in our step. 

But what does it really mean? Does it mean we can’t ever show weakness or even feel it? Does it mean we have to put on our tough face when circumstances are awful and out of our control and all we want to do is break down?

Be strong... it’s a phrase we used with our son a few years ago when he wasn’t being treated great by a friend. It was to tell him, you are gonna have days you feel really weak, scrawny. Unfair things are coming at ya, but be strong. Be strong in who you are, don’t let anyone tell you, you are different then the beautiful soul God made you. 

Circumstances will make you feel weak, and buddy it’s ok to show weakness, but deep down, you are strong, capable, because that’s who God made you, and he’s there every step of the way with you. 

Hey friend, today you may feel weak, and that’s so ok, you don’t need to fake strength. Tell those around you what’s going on, so they can remind you how very strong you are and be your strength until you remember. 

Get BE STRONG BRACELET HERE

I feel strong....

kristi hayesComment
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Today is International Women's Day. A day to celebrate each other well. This week I asked women what made them feel strong. Many of the answers brought me to tears. When I asked girls ages 6- 14 year old their answers, they could give them to me quickly and succinctly. Some said, "When I am a leader." Others said, "When I help others or when I work hard for something." Today we will be shining a light on women and their answers through our instagram stories as well as on Facebook.

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But one thing that intrigued me was how much longer it took for grown women to answer the question. Many had to really process.  It took them a longer time to get back to me, some even said it was easier to list what made them feel weak instead.

I am not sure what happens from our young age to when we grow older. If we lose our sense of what makes us feel strong or  gives us strength, if we are afraid to announce it to the world, for fear of critique. Or maybe the world has made us feel weak and not ENOUGH, because it is always saying we have to be MORE.

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Last week I had a group of women in my living room. We are planning an event for young teenage moms for Mother's Day with a local non-profit, called Hope House. As we were discussing what we would like to do that day, it became very clear to me that each woman present could run their own thing, and many do. They all were go-getters, type A-ish personalities.  Everyone had an opinion and wasn't afraid to voice it.

But as I sat back and watched I noticed something different about these ladies. Instead of anyone feeling jealous, or comparing, or even struggling to be heard, all of these ladies celebrated each others' gifts. They let each person share their gifts and incredible talents. No one was afraid to say what was their strength or what they could contribute. It was pretty spectacular to be part of this. Many times leaving a meeting like that, with so many of the same leader personalities would feel discouraging. People would feel stepped on, or that they couldn't get their opinion across. But that was  not the case here.

It was magical to see everyone know their strengths, voice them, AND then come together for the common good to serve others.

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It's amazing what can happen when we find people who are brave, compassionate, organized, leaders, go-getters, challengers, inspirers and saddle up beside those people; never comparing our gifts to theirs, but learning and leading together;always appreciating each one's strengths and letting each other shine.

What makes you feel strong?

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EYES WIDE, LIGHTS SHINE

kristi hayesComment
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The Florida Shooting rocked me last week, as it should all of us. I am so sad for the families who have lost their babies and loved ones. It’s something so awful and incomprehensible. 

But my heart also is so broken for this kid who thought it was ok to take the lives of his fellow classmates. Why? What on earth would cause someone to snap like this?

I don’t know why anyone would do something so horrible. It’s unfathomable. It angers me, but it also breaks me for the kid who ruined all these lives, their dreams, their legacy. 
Somewhere, whether it be mental illness, rage, anger, loneliness, something broke him. 

The word advocate keeps coming to my mind. And how just one person, one advocate, one extra, who spots someone hurting and step-ups beside them could maybe make a difference. I don’t know if it would have here. I don’t know what his life was like. 

But I’ve seen just one, change another’s world just by entering in when their life seems unbearable, not worth living. The one steps in, sees this hurt, enters in, and changes everything. 

This is why I tell my kids EYES WIDE, LIGHTS SHINE. Every single day!

Eyes wide to the kids pain who may not show it but whose hearts are literally breaking inside. 

I believe we have to train ourselves to see this kind of pain, we have to look for it, like really look for it, we have to ask God to give us his eyes. The ones that see ALL the turmoil and sadness, and then I believe we have to act. We have to saddle up beside those who are hurting, be their advocate even when it is super uncomfortable and when it takes sacrifice. . 

It just takes one. One person who advocates for the life of another. 

Let’s be people (speaking to myself) who are not so busy with life that we miss the ones hurting. That we might actually pursue those who are broken, damaged, who seem to far gone. 

 Let us be the one.

Eyes Wide, Light Shine. 

CELEBRATE AND SADDLE UP

kristi hayesComment
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CELEBRATE AND SADDLE UP.

Last week we talked about parenting. How to love our kiddos well. And as I talk to other moms about “momming,” there is a certain theme that shows up. We talk about the ever present mom-guilt, but the glaring topic that seeps inside of us, whether we voice it or not, is that nasty thing called comparison. The thing that steals ALL the joy from what we are really doing well. The time we show up to our kids Valentine’s party and we are so proud of ourselves for actually getting them their cheap, sponge bob square pants cardboard cards on time. Like the actual day before they are due, when you realize every other mom in your kids preschool class has done a full fledge goodie bag with homemade treats specialized to each student’s dietary needs. (not really, but kind of).

If we are honest that would throw us right off our game. The joy that we felt when we got our kids cards on time, sat with them and laughed while watching them try to write their friends names in their best pre-writing penmanship, flies out the door. Because all we can think about is how our kid are the only one who didn’t bring a full  gluten-free gift basket to his classmates.

Why? Why do we do this to ourselves? Why does someone else’s awesome make us feel not awesome? Inadequate?
 

I love the quote, "YOU DO YOU!"


Seriously, you do what you are capable of, what you love to do, what brings you joy. Not what stresses you out, not what you feel like you HAVE to do to compete or feel worth as a woman, a  mom.

When I had my kids, I had only heard about the drama of mom-relationships. I wanted no part. I hadn’t had drama in a relationship since  junior high and I wasn’t about to start now. So I avoided others mom like the plague. I would drop off my kid and run to the car, no coffee dates, no play dates, nada.

When Holden went to first grade, I changed my tune. I thought if I meet mom’s who are killing it in the “Mom game,” instead of that making me feel inadequate, I am going to celebrate them and saddle up beside them.

Meaning, I am going to tell them they are doing an awesome job, and then do life with them, ask them to help me with what I am not gifted at, or my personality suits, and do it together. Those who are super organized moms could totally intimidate me, because I am not that. I am going to forget my kids’ field trips and permission slips. But if I celebrate and saddle up to that mom that has all the things planned, they help keep me organized too.

We trade talents. I help decorate for a class party or carpool their kids somewhere, and they promise to text me when a permission slip is due. We help each other, we do life together, and let me tell you, it is so much more fun that way.

All of us have different things we bring to the table. Most likely the mom that you envy or think has it all together, had the same fight that you did with their kid that morning. They may have even cried like you did, when you dropped them off, they just may have bigger sunglasses and an ability to smile through the pain.

Let’s be a company of women who celebrates and saddles up.

Can you imagine the difference we could make in each other’s lives, if we were all telling each other how very worthy we are?

SERIES: LOVE EVERYONE (LOVE YOUR SPOUSE)

kristi hayesComment
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Love everyone, thats our theme right now. The last line of our tag line. Love can be so many things. People talk about the romantic kind, the kind that makes a great movie, the one that gives us butterflies and every looks at and says ahhhh.

But who talks about the every day struggle bus love?

The love that endures sickness and stress?

The love that shows up for the other when they can't show up for themselves?

 The love that doesn't look romantic, but is more secure and a picture of true love then any lovey dovey movie will ever have. 

This week I experienced this type of love. We threw a party for my in-laws 50th anniversary. That in itself is a pretty awesome love story. But looking into their story the last 7 years has shown a picture of love that most people don't experience. You see my father-in-law has Lewy body Dementia. Which means he suffers from Dementia and Parkinsons disease. This disease is horrible to watch. To see a man who was full of wit, brilliance of mind, sense of humor, be stripped of himself, is horrible. 

 The love that my mother in law has provided for him, is probably not what she imagined when she said her vows. Through sickness and in health. I will love you forever, no matter what. She demonstrates the NO MATTER WHAT everyday. 

Their love story isn't the one that makes the beautiful cover of a book or movie. It's not the butterflies and romance. It is the hard, gritty, showing up day in and day out to care for someone who can't care for themselves. It is putting aside all of your dreams and desires to care physically and emotionally for someone else. 

You know when someone who is really in love says, "I couldn't live without you." He literally could not live without her. She is his air, his world. She cleans him, cooks, keeps him safe, comforts him. She is apart of him and he apart of her. He can't express himself anymore, but I saw glimpses this weekend. Him holding her hand, smiling, that knowing look. I saw glimpses of his old self. The self that loved her so well. 

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I want the romantic, butterfly, can't live without you love. But I want THIS LOVE most. I want the hard, gritty, show-up each day, even when it can feel unbearable love the most.

Grant and I met on an airplane. We have been married 15 years, but it's funny, we say, sometimes that we are just getting to know each other. We are very different, so we are always learning ways to love each other well. Saying you are  sorry,offering  forgiveness,having  patience, are all things that make a marriage work, and ones I need to work on more.

Here are some things that have kept us loving one another:

1. KNOW EACH OTHERS LOVE LANGUAGE:

Find your spouses here:  Mine is time spent and affirmation and touch. I am basically all of them! (poor Grant), Grant’s is acts of service. So if I have his clothes laundered, or lunch prepared for him in advance, he is feeling loved. But if he did laundry for me, I could care less. WE tend to love our spouses the way we like to be loved. So when we first got married I would give him all the affirmation and he would clean the house. But because those weren't OUR love languages, it didn't work! Now he knows I would rather cuddle on the couch then him do laundry. And I know he would rather have his dry cleaning picked up, then a note that tells him how much he means to me:)

 

2. DATE NIGHT

Each week we plan a date night. It's usually on Tuesdays so we can get a babysitter or switch with a friend. Do we need  date night every week, probably not, but there are some weeks, we really need to touch base with each other and share our hearts, and some weeks it's just good to be together. With both of our busy schedules it is one of those things that is preventative. Because my love language is TIME SPENT, just having the date night makes me feel special.

 

3. ASK SIMPLE QUESTIONS

 

  •     How did I love you well this week?
  •     How can I pursue you well this coming week, or pray for you?
  •    What does your schedule look like?

These questions can take 5 minutes or 5 hours! Usually it's just a check-in. But knowing what the other has planned for the week gives us the opportunity to give each other so much more grace.  If Grant communicates to me that he is stressed at work, then I am much more of a grace giver when he is home late. I knew in advance. And he knows when I have a  huge launch week coming up, the house will look like a bomb went off. It’s not because I didn't want to pick up, but because I had other things going on.

 

4. GET AWAY TOGETHER:
 

I know this might seem hard for some, but whatever you have to do, bribe your parents to watch your kids, get away for a few nights WITHOUT kids. Sleep in, enjoy each other, have no responsibilities. Each year we get away with our best friends, we check in with our marriages, we ask super hard questions, and we always come back more motivated to work on us.

 

 

5. PRAY TOGETHER: 

Each night we pray together. I am not talking about getting on our knees and praying for hours. I am talking about before bed, Grant prays for us. It's simple and sweet, but has been our thing for 15 years and one of my most special times of the day.

 

6. SAY I LOVE YOU BEFORE YOU GET OFF THE PHONE EVERY TIME.

 

Loving your spouse is a journey, none of us have it down, we do it better some seasons than others. But don't let the mundane and the crazy hassle of life overcome your relationship. Because if you aren't careful you will look and say, what happened? Be proactive instead of reactive.

 

***We would love to hear how you love your spouse well.***

 

LOVING OTHERS, INCLUDES LOVING OURSELVES

kristi hayes2 Comments
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We are focusing on our tag line "LOVE EVERYONE." If you missed our Facebook live you can watch on replay. I tag team with my friend and Chef Gwen Klebba, about how we can love ourselves well, which in turn help us fill our tanks, so we can pour all that goodness on others.  You can watch here. 
 

Sometimes we are so depleted at the end of the day taking care of everyone else, that we don't make time to take care of us. And in the long run it causes burn out, and causes us not to love others well around us. I know you have heard it a million times, but loving ourselves well, helps us love others well. If we have a negative look at ourselves it is easier to carry that same attitude onto others. 

Here are a few ways we love ourselves so we can prep to LOVE EVERYONE.

1. SPEND TIME IN THE MORNING BY YOURSELF. I pray, read, meditate, drink a big cup of coffee and hot water with lemon. I sit with my cat on my lap, light a candle and spend the morning quietly.

2. EXERCISE. I can't say this enough. As a former trainer I know what exercise does to our bodies but also our hearts and minds. Besides all the amazing health benefits, living longer, less risk of disease, mentally and emotionally it can truly save us. When we know that we are doing all we can to take care of ourselves, it gives us confidence. It doesn't mean our bodies change over night, but it helps us EMBRACE the beautiful bodies we have. 

3. FEED YOUR BODY WITH GOOD THINGS- So I know it's important to eat healthy, but planning and prepping DOES NOT come naturally to me. I asked a friend to help, and this is what we go over in our FB LIVE. We went to Costco, and then washed, and cut veggies, browned and grilled meats, and made bags for lunches and dinners all week. I am loving myself by putting good things in my and my family's body. 

4. DO SOMETHING YOU LOVE EACH WEEK. Something that feeds your soul. Read a good book, paint, write, hiking, watching a good movie. Whatever it is, do it, make time for it. It will replenish you. I like to have one day a week, I stay in my joggers all day, read the paper, read books, cuddle with my kids while we watch football. A NOTHING DAY.

5. ACCEPT YOURSELF AND GIVE YOURSELF GRACE. Stop attacking your looks, your quirks. Embrace those babies. Many of you have literally birthed babies, and your body might look different, embrace that your body did something miraculous. Get rid of the social or magazines that tell you different or make you feel less than. Stop following those who make you feel like you have to be perfect. Set up sticky notes on your mirror to help you remember you are a masterpiece. Remind yourself daily and remind someone else they are too. 

 

We would love to hear some ways you LOVE YOURSELF WELL. Because when we remember we are God's masterpiece and we truly live that out, we will view others as God's masterpiece and extend that same grace and love to them. 

 

 

 

OUR PHRASE FOR 2018-BUILD ON BEHALF

kristi hayesComment
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No one ever said I had good editing skills. I like to do a word for the year, and wrap my goals around this word. But this year, I just couldn't make it one word. It has become a phrase. I just love words and their meanings too much. 

Our Phrase:

Build on Behalf. 

We want our business to grown on behalf of others. The more we BUILD and grow our little company the more jobs we can give the homeless we work with to screen print our apparel and make our home goods pieces. 

The more we BUILD relationships with others, the more we truly get to live out our mission:

BE STRONG

PROTECT THE WEAK

LOVE EVERYONE

The more we BUILD partnerships with others, the more we can give back to organizations who are like-minded.

We want to make be strong story a uniting company, one that speaks and represents those who may not be heard.  

We want to be on behalf of another

in the interest of others. 

Will you join us?

Comment below your phrase or word for 2018, how can we come alongside you?

Goaling out 2018 (How we do it)

kristi hayesComment
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Yes, we know its January 9th, and everyone is all up in their goals. It is something I look forward to every year. I love the clean slate, the fact you can dream with others, and see what you can accomplish after you work really hard. Here are some ways we tackled goals this year.  

 
1. Review last year, write things you were grateful for. What went great and what didn’t. 

2. Word or phrase that encompasses our goals

3. Set goals in different areas:
Spiritual
Mental
Physical
Relationships
Business/work

4. Use some good tools to help. I really like Lara Casey's Power sheets. And the Day Designer for a planner. 

5. Plan a day to do a vision board. Cut out magazine clippings, put it somewhere as a daily reminder of your goals. 


Have fun, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Hold things loosely, so if things change you don’t freak!

Grab a quiet place with a good cup of coffee, and start letting the ideas flow, remember they don't have to be perfect. Write everything down and then start to categorize. Don't be afraid to be messy.

 

What are some of your goals for this year???