Visiting Silver Mountain in Kellogg, ID

A little while back on our month long RV adventure with my hubby, 3.5 year old and 3 big doggies we were driving along happily across the country. We had just explored Couer d’Allene in Idaho and passing through the Silver Valley on our way to Missoula, Montana. We had NO plans to stop but a belt in our motor snapped and we broke down on the side of the highway in the 10 mile stretch with NO cell phone reception. We waved at people for a long while and then 6 hours later a state trooper came over and sent a tow truck our way. Woot Woot! He kindly towed us 15 miles down the freeway to a small town called Kellogg where we promptly set up our beds in our RV and went to sleep. They said it would be about a day and we would be on our way…well that one day turned into 5 and it was the perfect break to our fast track way of roadtripping. So what does one do in the Silver Valley:

1. Mountain Bike the Idaho/Montana State Line on the Route of Hiawatha

2. Huckleberry picking off of Exit 0…hike about 2 miles uphill and there are troves of huckleberries (tastes like a tart blueberry and sweet blackberry put together. Tip: Beware of bears, they like huckleberries as much as humans. If you do not feel like picking huckleberries trying all things huckleberry is a must. Some of my favorites include the milkshake, ice cream, wine, sweet cream pancakes, lemonade, licorice and jam. Yummy!

3. Check out the longest Gondola Ride in North America with a 3,400 elevation gain at Silver Mountain Resort. We happened to go on a Friday night and enjoyed a BBQ and live music. Tickets are $18 per adult and free for kids 3 and under. Tickets may be used several times in a day. Dogs and mountain bikes are welcome. Also there is a bouncy house, play structure and hiking trails at the top. Bonus: If you choose to stay at the resort you also get free tickets to the indoor water park on location

4. Visit the Crystal Gem Mine Tour at the edge of town. It was very cool to learn some history of the Silver Valley. How they mined in the 1800-early 1900s. See quartz veins and gold patches. Awesome! Bonus we were taught how to properly gold pan at the end of the tour. They also add in some fun stones for kids to mine for.

5. Antique shop in Wallace

From HLN: Mom Talk: Are you a slave to social media?

From HLN.com
“You’re stopped at a red light and all of a sudden you feel your hand creeping toward your phone. You wonder if anyone liked the Instagram picture you posted five minutes ago? Or maybe someone responded to your Facebook status about which cell phone to buy?

A group of mom bloggers sat down to discuss their attempts to limit social media in their children’s lives and their own — and, well it hasn’t been easy.
One mom admitted to checking her phone the second she wakes up. Another mom feels the urge to respond to e-mails immediately.

Let us know if you’re doing anything to limit your time in front of screens!
This is part of HLN’s coverage of the Mom 2.0 Summit and Iris Awards, a conference and awards show that recognizes excellence in parent blogging. The events were held last week in Atlanta.”

Kids In The House Voices: Beauty Is…

At a recent conference I attended, Dove posed an interesting question…how do you define what #BeautyIs? This seems like a simple enough question and then I tried to answer it. I struggled with it for a moment, so I thought that since pictures are worth a thousand words, I could define it with a picture. Nope! I could not find just one picture that defines beauty in my life. Beauty is having a picture of my mom where she is smiling and for a minute forgets that she is in one of the last stages of Parkinson’s Disease. Beauty is a video of my 3 year old laughing uncontrollably about something simple and silly. Beauty is the triumph I feel after climbing what seemed like an insurmountable mountain with my husband and then staring at the most amazing view of nature around us. There just isn’t one way to capture beauty in a photo. I thought to myself, I could put together a picture collage but that was not the assignment. Was it possible to define what “beauty is” in words?

Over the last 3.5 years, since having had my son, I have struggled with feeling beautiful. Losing 60 pounds of baby weight has felt nearly impossible at times. I have tried everything to make me feel better on the outside while still trying to lose the everlasting muffin top. Getting dressed every day (which is a personal meltdown activity) is stressful and confidence shattering, I mask my face with make-up in hopes that I will feel better about myself. Truth is, all I have is a well concealed face with a self-esteem that is in pieces. The muffin top that flops over my jeans is a constant reminder that I don’t feel confident in my own skin. On top of that, I don’t feel healthy. I know the longer I have the extra weight the harder it will be to lose. The muffin top is a reminder of how frustrated I am with myself for not being my pre-pregnancy size years ago. Let me clarify that it is not so much the size and the extra weight I am carrying in my mid section. I have had every blood test, done every exercise video from Zumba to Jillian Michaels to Insanity. They all help me goal in being heart healthy but none have solved the belly fat issue.

Ultimately, there just isn’t a lot you can do for yourself when all you see in the mirror every day is imperfections. It is so easy to focus on the flaws. The muffin top, the bags under my eyes, the stretch marks, the scars. Every time you pass a window and see your reflection you cringe. You only post the photos on Instagram and Facebook that are taken at the right angle and decently flattering of your face only. I  am sad now looking at the first 2.5 years of my son’s life because I am missing from so many pictures because I did not like being in the pictures because of the way I look. I neglected to think outside of myself to my husband that constantly tells me I look beautiful and a son that thinks the same. Over time I have learned that they are not telling me these things to be nice but because they truly believe it. It’s me who does not believe I deserve to be told I am beautiful because I feel that bad about my body.

So in the past 6 months, I have come to realize that it is entirely up to me to shift my exercise and eating habits in order to lose the weight. The days that I don’t feel like exercising, I have to. The stressful days I feel like indulging in comfort food, I shouldn’t. It is the shift in my choices that have helped my drop the last 10 pounds of “baby weight” or my weight.Losing the weight is a snowball effect because the more weight I lose the better I will feel about myself which will increase my confidence and ability to see the beauty within myself. Through this thought process, I finally realized that I had defined what beauty is to me:

Beauty is:

  1. The sounds of genuine laughter from my 3 year old
  2. Being in the moment with family and friends.
  3. Most importantly, beauty is being comfortable in your own skin

The first two ideas are pretty straight forward, but being comfortable in my own skin has been quite the undertaking for me especially the last few years. Before I had a kid, I always thought that losing weight post baby would be easy. You breastfeed and the weight literally melts off. With my formerly high metabolism, in no time I would look like my pre-pregnancy self. You eat right, work out and have pretty good genes…and BAM that would be the recipe for post partum weighloss success. I could not have been more wrong, well at least for me. During my pregnancy, I gained 60 pounds somehow. No, I was not indulging one craving after another. I think it had something to due with being on bed rest for 10 weeks and getting my appendix out as well as having an emergency c-section. After giving birth to my little man, maybe 15 pounds came off. I recall sweating off the next 10; however, 3 months later I still looked 6 months pregnant with 35 pounds of weight to come off. Over the last 3+years, I have explored every option of losing the baby weight. I am a fairly active person who watches what they eat for the most part but the weight was not budging. Every day I felt my self esteem go down a notch. I did not feel comfortable in this new body. None of my clothes fit but I could not let go of what I used to look like. Getting dressed everyday was a disaster and could send me into a tailspin. It was so frustrating to see friends of mine post their “hot” bodies post birth. I was happy for them but so green with envy. I tried every supplement (Garcinia Cambogia, Rasberry Ketones, Yacon syrup, etc), juicing diet and still nothing. I was so uncomfortable in my own body that going to the gym was difficult. Everything was difficult. I did feel beautiful and I could not feel comfortable in my own skin. Some how, some way I managed to start running and revisiting my weight workout from my Miss California days coupled with a vegetarian diet (no dairy, no gluten) that was portion oriented. And within a couple months, every last pound is gone. Do I look like my pre baby self? No. Will my stomach ever be flat again? No, but a couple pairs Spanx might be my new best friend. Do I feel more confident? Yes. Do I feel healthy? Yes. Do I feel comfortable in my own skin? Yes. So if you ask me what #BeautyIs today, I would be able to answer you. To me, #BeautyIs feeling healthy, comfortable and confident in your own skin which allows you to radiate from the inside out. Thank you Dove for making campaigns that remind me of what is important in life.

 

Kids In the House Post: Pressure to have the Perfect Life Part 1

IMG_1414Why is there so much pressure to be perfect as women? Why is there so much emphasis on having the perfect body, makeup, outfit, job, home, spouse and/or child? Do we put this pressure on ourselves? Where does the pressure come from?

Even though I question and try to fight the pressure to “perfect” in so many facets of my own life,  with social media it feels nearly impossible to escape it. It seems that every where I look, I am inundated with what the perfect body, home, marriage and child looks like. Shouldn’t I be more concerned with living a healthy lifestyle, having a roof over my family’s head, a spouse that is my best friend and having a well-balanced child?

I have come to the realization 3.5 years after having my child that I will never have the body I did pre-baby. Although I have finally lost all the “baby weight,” my belly has loose skin, stretch marks galore and war wounds from having an appendectomy while pregnant and then an emergency c-section. Over the past few years I have come to embrace my belly’s imperfections as rites of passage into motherhood, but that does not stop me from having an internal meltdown every time I see a news piece or tabloid showing how another celebrity mom’s body bounced back 6 weeks after birth looking hotter than ever (it’s true they all look pretty amazing). I always wonder if celebrities deal with what seems like the norm in my mommy world of having loose belly skin, stretch marks and other scars from pregnancy? Do they have confidence issues with their bodies post baby? Difficulty adjusting to parenthood? It seems that the every day moms that I encounter have similar experiences of life after baby.  Some of the most popular topics include sleepless nights, problems nursing, colic, difficulty getting back into exercising, cooking fresh meals and did I mention sleep??? There isn’t enough concealer in the world to cover up the bags I acquired after my son was born. No, not everything post birth is difficult and negative. There are not enough words in the world to describe the love a parent will feel toward his/her child after they are born. It is a love like no other. I feel blessed every day to be able to experience it. Back to the topic at hand, I will admit that I have been a little (or a lot) green with envy of my girlfriends’ whose bodies have bounced fairly quickly a few short months after giving birth…I am genuinely happy for them yet simultaneously bummed it didn’t happen to me. Some people have told me that I need to embrace my new body, I just can’t and I am glad that I didn’t. 3.5 years later and I am back in most of my old clothes and it feels good. The road back to my pre-pregnancy weight has been a long and difficult one, but the most rewarding. I am proud of myself for changing my eating habits and sticking to an exercise regime that is conducive to being with my son full-time. I know how hard I have worked and  know that I am setting a good example for my son. I will never take for granted again being able to get dressed without a meltdown and not avoiding being in pictures because I didn’t feel comfortable with how I looked. So now I am looking to you to help me answer some questions that still remain…Becoming a parent is hard enough with sleep deprivation and adjusting to parenthood, so why do we feel pressured to have the picture perfect life on our social media outlets? Is there a way to portray a more accurate snap shot into our lives without becoming a negative nancy when we are laden with a string of unfortunate days with our kids and life events? How can we as parents instill confidence in our youth who are inundated with images of the “perfect” body and life? How can we set a better example of how a confident adult acts, eats and lives like on a daily basis? It is truly up to us as parents to create every day ideals and norms that create healthy and well-balanced youth. Youth who embrace their differences. Youth who define personal perfection by being happy, eating healthy, exercising and being authentic to themselves.

How do you instill confidence and individuality in your own children? How you teach them to love their differences? How do you set examples in your own life? Can’t wait to hear all your suggestions!

Dot Complicated Post: Move Over, #TBT…#TGT is here

Dot Complicated

Move Over, #TBT…#TGT is here

Lately, I have been looking forward to Thursday more than most other days in the week. You might be wondering why…well there are a couple reasons. Yes it is Fridayʼs Eve, but more importantly it is #tbt or “throw back Thursday,” a day that so many friends from elementary school, high school and college put up some really funny memories. Every time I visit my parents, I run to my old bedroom and search through all of the photo albums to scan for #tbt. Every week is nostalgic and puts a smile on my face.

So this week, I started to type in #T into twitter and the first hashtag that popped was #ThighGapThursday. What??? I was speechless. This must be a viral hoax much like #BikiniBridge. After some research online, #ThighGapTursday is not a hoax but a day in which people celebrate “thigh gaps.” So what exactly defines a “thigh gap?” According to Wikipedia, it is a space between the inner thighs when standing upright with both knees touching. This phenomena started in 2012 after the Victoria Secret Fashion Show, in which several models has pronounced thigh gaps and a new body ideal was born.

With summer quickly approaching, girls are pinning their #thinspiration or #thinspo boards full of bikini bridges & thigh gap diets, exercises and “thin” inspirations. So is the thigh gap natural? Attainable? The answer is yes to both. Ok, let me clarify. Yes, a very very very small percentage of women naturally have a thigh gap due to the shape of their pelvis, body structure and muscle mass. For the majority of us, the thigh gap is a fleeting thought because it is simply unattainable; however, with social media at our fingertips we are are constantly inundated with ads, photos of models and friends with this unattainable ideal which now feels like the norm. This norm has us pinning unhealthy body images of protruding hipbones that make our bikini bottoms have bridges and ways to attain a thigh gap to name a few. In the olden days we would see airbrushed ads on billboards or magazines so it would take years to create a new norm but now we see hundreds of images all day long on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, so a “new” norm can be born and viral within in hours.

Screen Shot 2014-03-25 at 4.19.56 PM

I wonder how we, as women and mothers, can change this competition for “perfection.” How can we empower young girls to begin loving who they are without feeling the need to “fix” themselves. How do we teach our next generation to embrace their differences?

According to the National Eating Disorder Awareness organization, 40-60% of girls 6-12 are concerned about their weight or becoming fat. This statistic breaks my heart. This is an age where girls should be focusing on having fun and being carefree. How can we use our social media outlets to reverse this movement? Will campaigns like Miss Representationʼs #NotBuyingItʼs and Doveʼs #RealBeauty movement encourage our generation and the next generations to embrace our natural variations and cause us to focus on building inner confidence? Time will tell.

In the mean time, I know that I can do my part today by focusing on eating healthy, working out in moderation, learning to love my body and not embracing unhealthy ideals. I can actively make the decision to not “like” ideals that do not promote healthy lifestyles for women. Are you with me?

Posted on 3/25/2014

veena_headshotWritten by Veena Goel Crownholm

Veena Goel Crownholm is a UCLA grad and former Miss California. Prior to having her son, she worked in the non-profit field doing special events and program development as well as working as a Program Officer for the Thomas J. Long Foundation. In 2010, after she had her son, she began her career as a Lifestyle Contributor both online and on-air, as well as motivational speaking. She enjoys DIY projects, Thrift Store/Flea Market hunting, Camping and Hiking. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, son and 3 puppies. For more information on Veena please visit www.VeenaGoelCrownholm.com or follow her at: www.TiarastoBabies.com or on twitter @TiarastoBabies

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