Only in Texas: guns and parenting

The night before Sunday’s devastating church massacre, I learned a parenting lesson that I never would have thought to seek out on my own.

I was sitting around a dinner table with parent friends whose kids are a few years older, chatting about the ins and outs of slumber parties, when the subject of weapons in the home came up. I’m so grateful the conversation landed on this topic because it never would have occurred to my oblivious California-bred self that one of the pre-screening questions for playdates or slumber parties, at least in my neck of the woods, needs to address whether there are weapons in the home.

And not just that question; it’s a good start, but it can’t stand alone. Instead, it’s a conversation that needs to be primed and carefully managed to make sure you feel comfortable sending your kids to another home, and to also make sure potential guests are comfortable in your home. Here’s what I learned:

“Do you have guns?” can be interpreted lots of ways

This sounds so crazy to me, but people will answer “No” to the question “Do you have guns” because they don’t have, for example,  a gun case with 50 rifles, or they don’t consider themselves collectors or hobbyists. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have a handgun in their bedside table or another gun in their truck for hunting. Instead of saying, “Do you have guns?” ask “Do you have weapons in your home?” The question is (hopefully) broad enough to remind them of the various types of weapons that may be stored somewhere on their property.

Start the conversation yourself.

Asking about guns in someone’s home can be a potential landmine, especially in a region where people have strong opinions about their arms and their rights. The consensus around the table was to bring it up yourself, by offering something like:

“Would so and so like to come over for a playdate? So that you know, we do have guns in our home that are unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage.”

Of course that’s a simplified script, but by proactively offering the information yourself, it opens to door to ask in return without putting the other family on guard.

If you don’t have weapons in the home, my friends recommended not saying “we have no weapons,” but instead starting the conversation by saying, “How do you store your guns?” That way, you don’t risk making gun owners feel judged, or that you might not green light a playdate if their answer is different from yours. Of course, non-gun-owners can just say, “Oh, we don’t have any.”

Don’t ask “Are they stored safely?”

Instead, ask, “How are they stored?” The definition of safely stored varies, from “oh, we just keep the one in our bedside table, it’s loaded, but that drawer is so hard to open, no kid will succeed,” all the way to, “we keep guns unloaded and locked in a safe in the garage, and ammunition in  a separate, locked safe with a different password.”

Terrifying set of questions to ask, isn’t it? I admit I was completely in the dark before this weekend about just how fraught and necessary this conversation is for potential playdates.

The next morning, it felt so timely, in the worst possible way. Sunday’s massacre was horrifying, with the chilling bonus of being just down the road from us. And most horrifying of all is just how routine this kind of news is beginning to feel, from the initial reports of a mass casualty event, to the predictability of how it will be interpreted and spun by our leaders and media. We can fill in the blanks of the narrative with just with a few variables: what color was the shooter’s skin? What color and religion were his victims?

From there, the story just falls into place, and we begin screaming at each other over semantics—what kind of gun was used, whether it was legally obtained, whether he’s a terrorist, whether it was mental health to blame, whether the good guys with guns stepped in fast enough, whether now is the right time to address policy changes. Those deeply felt arguments, shouted into the algorithmic void, are just as rote as the mass shootings that keep happening, again and again.

I find the conversations happening online mortifying. How easily our leaders regurgitate the same anodyne statements that do nothing to help and nothing to prevent. How adeptly the reactionary public contorts a tragedy to support its own world views. How quickly we spread memes and misinformation to blame, vilify, retrench.

What kind of sick culture uses a community losing nearly 10% of its population as a catalyst for more violence against our neighbors?

Why can’t we all concede that we have a problem with gun violence in America? That acknowledgment does not invalidate your strongly held beliefs on gun ownership or gun control or masculinity or mental health or immigration or hate crimes or politics or anything else, other than that we have a gun violence problem in America.

You can remain pro-2nd Amendment and still recognize that this epidemic of tragedies is surely not what our Founding Fathers intended.

You can be pro gun control and still engage in pragmatic and productive conversations about how to stem this tide of violence.

Let’s stop spewing bile from our firmly established trenches. Our lives depend on it.

What kind of investments are you making?

The other day, as I was innocently typing out a post, I found myself defaulting to this tired language:

“I’ve reduced the amount of time I invest in typical beauty routines, like blowdrying my hair and putting on makeup”

Invest. Hundreds of underpaid copywriters have leaned on that default word choice in thousands of throwaway pieces, I’m sure. What a particularly capitalist flavor of condescension to women. It’s a pretty poor investment that brings you clogged pores and split ends instead of wealth or power.

I suspect that that word was embedded into my subconscious 20-some years ago by seventeen magazine. I have visceral memories of feeling initiated into a mystery the first time I ran my fingers over those pages. Each one radiated glossy seduction: eat just 2/3 of a Reese’s peanut butter cup (25 calories!) and you’ll earn the thighs that allow you to wear these jean cut-offs. Wear those shorts and you’ll be invited to join the popular girls’ lunch table. Use Night Replenishing Core Activating Anti-Wrinkle Rejuvenating Matte Day Cream with Light-Refracting Mineral Crystals in Honey Nectar, twice daily and your crush will finally ask you to prom.

Oh, what happy returns.

Surely this language is an anachronism, a hanger-on from back when we taught girls that their worth was measured by how they looked.

Or.

Well.

Sometimes it feels like the fatigue of “this still? really?” comes up and smacks you in the ass. Or is it grab – no, no, let’s not go there.

Let’s talk instead about radical prioritization. I’m winnowing, but I’m no Marie Kondo. I can’t just give up every tchotchke and 10-year-old skirt from Forever21 like it doesn’t matter to my life. My garage still guards one giant box of personalized sweatshirts from my childhood dance studio, and another of notes I wrote to my bestie in 8th grade science class.

Kari: if you’re reading this, THE SUN IS GOING TO EAT YOU. (What is happening ☝️is that the sun is slowly expanding and will someday absorb the earth.)

Compounding this imminent solar threat is that I feel always at a loss for time. Always torn in many parts. No matter where I am, I should be somewhere else, doing something else, ticking something else off that godforsaken to-do list.

I’m not minimizing material things so much as I am removing rituals that are burdensome and not, in fact, necessary to my success as a female human. This practice dovetails nicely with my dawning realization that while I have survived a particular set of cultural attitudes about women with only minor hangups and occasional flareups of rage, I cannot abide by my daughter being raised to associate the sisyphean task of pancaking and then removing twenty finely differentiated products, daily or twice daily, with the word investment.

I’m saying no to all the things and it feels so good. It feels like an opening up of possibility. Advancement through negation. Freedom and fortune. Fortune through freedom.

This is a very long winded way of saying that I’m not wearing makeup, I’m not blowdrying my hair, I’m living the capsule lifestyle, and I am considering chucking my razors, but someone recently told me that smooth, glistening skin is THE beauty trend this season, and I took the quiz on page 54 and learned that my legs are my best feature, sooo …

Why you should be jealous of me

In the last few months, I’ve basically stopped wearing makeup. It was a gradual decline into naked face; first I’d just skip the mascara because omg taking off mascara after a long day is the worst possible chore (yes, I’m super lazy. So what?), then I realized skipping eyeliner was a really good idea and then it was just some blush and foundation and now … maybe concealer, maybe on the worst of the worst mornings after the worst of the worst nights.

My progression into the natural look has unfortunately resulted in some serious self-side-eye on particular mornings. Sometimes it’s WOAH, haggard, up in here. You can tell I have a baby who doesn’t sleep and that self care is way, way down the priority list, right behind cleaning crusted spaghetti puree off the parts of my upper arms I can’t see and scavenging stray Cheerios for my own dinner.

This is my hyperlocal source for crusted spaghetti.

Jealous yet?

Let me give you some more fodder: my ace in the hole.

I have family on Maui. 

BOOM. There it is. I see your jealousy.

Pretty cool, right? Also, there’s a family reunion every summer that is TOTALLY REQUIRED.

Every year my husband makes some noise about how far away it is and how that flight with a baby will be really tough and I convince him we should really, actually, 100% go. You know, FOR THE FAMILY. (Hi, family, I love you. XOXO).

So, now that you’re seething in jealousy, let me get back to my story about my non-glamorous no-makeup look.  I had a little come to jesus moment about skincare, partly due to some blunt comments from an aesthetician and partly due to the escalating puffiness I have to witness in my bathroom mirror every single day. 

Ahhhhh. Why did nobody tell me that “having it all” included so many dark circles and bloodshot corneas?

So, I took matters into my own hands. Or, rather, someone reached out at just the right moment when I was READY. Ready to make a change.

Specifically, the founder of FRÉ Skincare, a line for women who sweat, reached out, and (disclosure, they are now a Fit Approach client, but that does not change this story one bit), and I said, YES, please send me all the things that will save my skin, it needs all the help it can get. But not if it’s too complicated, because half the time I wash my hair I put conditioner on first because I can’t tell the bottles apart. #TrueStory.

So, they kindly agreed to help a sister out and sent me the whole kit and caboodle, and I diligently set aside my lazy tendencies and put the product to the test.

In Maui (see, it’s all coming together. I promise). Well, I actually started using it here in Austin, and put it through the wringer with suffocating swamp humidity during the Athlete Inside challenge, which made me do more burpees than any human should ever have to do. (Thank you, Ben Zorn, I love to hate burpees).

Then I took it to Maui and tested the sweat- and water-resistant properties in the pool, ocean, and sun. (full story, plus tropical photos, here).

I’ve been using it for a month now, and the bottom line: I have way fewer reasons to side-eye myself in the mornings now. I am actually comfortable going out makeup-free, and not just because I’m lazy, but because my skin actually looks nicer on its own than it does with makeup. There is a legitimate, empirical reduction in redness and dryness and puffiness. It was also serious sun protection (it was the only SPF I used on my face in Hawaii, and look, ma, no sunburn!).

I feel like a whole new woman. I do not catch glimpses of myself in mirrors out in public and shudder or think, ugh, you really should work on *that*.

So, now, you can be jealous of me for not feeling like a train wreck when I leave the house every morning.

Also, and probably more relevant to you, dear reader, is that the line is anti-aging, sweat- and water-resistant, and doesn’t drip into your eyes and viciously burn them while you’re innocently running or laying on the beach. It’s good. It’s real good.

Lastly, if you want to give it a go yourself, FRÉ was kind enough to share a discount code for you. Use code SUMMERSWEAT for 15% off. You’re welcome.

Disclosure: Like I said, FRÉ is a Fit Approach client. The ranting, opinions, and jealousy-inspiring traits in this post are 100% mine. 🙂 

Oh, and, speaking of discount codes that expire on Friday, join us for the EMPOWER Race & Yoga weekend, won’t you? SWEAT gets you 40% off. Yes, FORTY PERCENT. There’s a virtual option, too.

 

 

Skip the hassle, eat more sushi

I try to lead a pretty healthy lifestyle: to eat well, exercise, all the good stuff. But one area where I typically fall short is in seeing the doctor. I try to avoid it as much as possible, entirely because of all the hoops you have to jump through in order to spend 5 minutes with her: parking, waiting rooms, sitting on hold to make the appointment in the first place … I mean, what a drag.

So you can bet my on-demand, delivery-loving self was 100% on board with trying out Everlywell, which basically eliminates all the rigamarole associated with getting labs done. No scheduling a doctor’s appointment to get a lab order. No finding a lab close to you. No traveling however far and finding and paying for parking and waiting in some drab waiting room for 30 seconds of action. No waiting to hear from your doctor about your results. No traffic or parking or waiting rooms or online scheduling or clipboards full of cramped forms to fill out. YESSS.

I tried out the DHA test for breastfeeding mothers, because Mac’s brain development is (shocker) really important to me. So is eating sushi, so I could only see getting good news from this test: I was either giving Mac enough DHA for optimal brain development, or I needed to eat more sushi. (Or both, I mean, why not?)

The test shows up so perfectly packaged, with super simple, clear instructions. I took this test in my pajamas, without having to load the whole kit & caboodle & toddler into the car.

The breastmilk test requires just a few drops of milk. I had packed away my pump over two months ago, and I wasn’t about to bring it back out—I’m retired—but luckily a simple manual expression did the trick. I waited till Mac got the pipes flowing, then expressed a few drops into the smallest glass I had, which happened to be a wineglass. #partytime

What I didn’t anticipate was just how upset Mac would get by those few drops getting rerouted from her belly. She let me know just how unhappy about it she was. But after I’d used the pipette to drop my milk onto the little sample card, I gave it to her to play with and there was once again peace in the kingdom.

She also got to play with the cute little bandaid container included. Since my test required no blood, those went straight into the diaper bag for future emergencies. (Thanks, Everlywell!).

From there, you just pack up in the included envelope, slap on the included shipping label, and drop it in the mailbox. It literally couldn’t be easier.

Five days later, my results were in my inbox. I loved getting to see easy-to-understand charts instead of a cursory phone call from the doctor’s office with a bare bones “everything was normal” summary of results.

Unfortunately, everything was not normal… my DHA levels are below recommended.  🙁

I guess that means more sushi… or, since I’m currently in Hawaii, more poke.

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Besides guzzling more fish, I’m taking my results to my next doctor’s appointment so I can make an action plan and make sure I am fueling Mac’s brain every way I can.

Want to be the boss of your health, from home, in pajamas? Cool. You can try this DHA test for 15% off with the code ALYSE15.

Or, if you’re not breastfeeding, Everlywell has a whole other suite of at-home tests, including food sensitivity, metabolism, sleep, fertility, and so much more. You can save 10%  on any (or all!) of those with the code FitApp10.

At-home testing is the way to go, for real. Who doesn’t love delivery??

This post was sponsored by Everlywell via the Sweat Pink community. All opinions are my own, and I so appreciate your support of the brands who support me and Sweat Pink?

The swiss army knife of dresses

You know what’s really hard? Getting dressed in the morning. First world problems, I know.

But for reals. If I could save myself half of the time I spend staring at my closet loathing everything in it and whining about why I can’t wear that shirt or this pair of pants, I would have enough time to feed the hungry. Or, at the very least, unpack my suitcase.

What is happening here? WHY?

I’ve also spent an inordinate amount of time plotting a uniform strategy like this one, without actually executing.

What I have done is pay attention to the things I reach for all the time, to try to focus future shopping efforts in more productive directions. I have curated a collection of notes for myself like “stop buying spaghetti straps!” and “find more t-shirts that drape like my striped one.”

You know, super useful suggestions when you’re faced with a mall—or worse, an internet—full of options.

Sometimes the universe steps in to help a sister out, though, and that’s just what happened with this dress. This dress is my everything. If I had to pare down my closet to one item, it would be this dress.

I wore it to the children’s museum in Palm Springs, and, since these photos were taken, everywhere else.

Let me share some of the many benefits of the dress:

  • It’s a basic that you can dress up or down. Add jewelry and heels, and go out to dinner. Add flips flops and sunscreen and go to the beach. Boots and a jean jacket for about town. Etc, etc.
  • It’s super soft and comfy.
  • It packs well – I crammed it unceremoniously into the suitcase pictured above and was able to pull it out and wear it with no muss and no fuss. Oh, and no wrinkles, either.

  • The skirt is cut generously enough that you can squat, bend, twist, and run, without flashing your companions. See?

  • The neckline is slightly more conservative than I usually wear, BUT, it enables the bending / squatting / twisting features.

  • Speaking of necklines, it’s surprisingly breastfeeding friendly. It doesn’t look like it—but I tried in a pinch, and succeeded.
  • No fussy care directions. Wash cold, line dry, which is what I do for all my clothes anyway. Easy peasy.
Driver’s ed starts so young these days. Weep.

Get the dress here. I’m wearing size M in black, and it fits true to size. Also, save 15% off everything at prAna, including this dress, and these perfect lounge pants, with the code: S4P17AMB

This post is sponsored by prAna, but they more than earned this rave review. Opinions are my own. Thanks for supporting the brands who support the sweat pink community!