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Newsletter No. 11: Hello, July!
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Adventure Is A Family Value 

My family will log about 2,800 miles in the car together this month. In a few days we’ll drive from our home in Northern California to Bend, Oregon, to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday with a whole gaggle of longtime friends from all over the West Coast. Two weeks after that, we’ll roadtrip our way out to Glenwood Springs, Colorado to camp with my husband’s side of the family for a week. It’s a lot of miles—and hours—with energetic four and six-year-old boys in the backseat, and it’s already taken a lot of work just to get this far. Taking the time off work, coordinating dates and logistics with our travel companions, negotiating summer camp schedules, finding dog sitters and house sitters, planning for camp meals and anticipating gear and packing needs—all this and we haven’t even hit the road yet.

Are we having fun yet?
 
Sometimes, having fun as a parent can take an awful lot of work. I’d by lying if I said my excitement about seeing friends and spending time unplugged outside isn’t tempered by a wee bit of dread over how much work packing will be and how many fights I’ll have to break up in the car. But I’m convinced it will be worth it. Parenting is hard work no matter where you are, and my kids are probably going to find something to fight about even if we never leave the comfort of our own neighborhood all summer long. So we might as well have an adventure.
 
Often, it seems, circumstances that require more work to create yield new opportunities for discovery. My kids will get to play with the kids of the maid of honor from my wedding on our trip to Bend, which only happens about once a year. We’ll all get to experience Colorado’s famous summer afternoon thunderstorms on our weeklong camping trip, which will probably be my kids’ most intimate look at thunderbolts in the sky. Those relationships, those experiences with nature—they can change us. They can open our eyes and our minds, creating a new kind of joy. A new kind of fun.
 
I am committed to having fun. As a parent, as a wife, as the same old me that I’ve always been but can be hard to find sometimes. It takes more work now. I am often putting the fun of my kids ahead of my own these days—I will spend hours assembling road trip snack and car activities and fun camp gear for them, likely taking 30 seconds to toss a book and a pair of headphones into my purse on our way out the door—but I refuse to give up. I believe that adventure is a family value, and I intend to teach that one by way of example.
 
See you on the road,
Anna Q.
Coffee + Crumbs Writer
 
P.S. We’ve somehow made it six years into parenting without ever letting our kids have phones or tablets in the car. Anyone have any family-friendly audio book or podcast recommendations? I’ll take all the help I can get (please see: 2,800 miles). Shoot your recs to me at hello@annaquinlan.net. Carry on, road warriors!

C+C Faves
 
"With every cup I share with you, I am less afraid of smoldering from the inside, of finding my dreams charred to ash." The essence of marriage is captured beautifully in this piece from Mothers Always Write.

Bathing suit shopping is widely regarded as the actual worst, but the search for the perfect pair of shorts has to be a close second. Allow us to save you two hours in a dressing room with some of our favorite picks: Katie digs this Target pair, while Ashlee has these from Anthro. Jenn ordered this pair for its flattering length, and Anna Q. rocks this elastic waistband pair when she's not running around in her favorite cutoffs. Pregnant or postpartum? April has you covered.  

Ashlee's still coming off her Whole30 high, but is starting to embrace sweets (albeit healthier ones) again. Recommended: these super easy gluten-free, paleo banana muffins and these gluten free/dairy free chocolate chip cookies.

This piece from NPR takes a fascinating look at breastfeeding in different cultures. Spoiler alert: they found out it's hard for mommas everywhere.

"Yum, this dinner is delicious." "Here, let me help you with those bags." "You were right; I DO need a jacket today." We giggled at these lines (and more) in Things Moms Never Hear From Their Kids.

Here are 12 empowering books to add to your daughters' book shelves.

A face sunscreen for every skin type? Yes, please. Plus that brush applicator just makes us feel fancy.

Books on our (collective) nightstands this month: The Invention of Wings, Talking as Fast as I Can, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage.

Summers are for saying yes.

Wearing this dress, this tank and these sandals on repeat, all. summer. long.

We're blaming our crunchy Santa Barbara C+Cers for getting us all hooked on Native natural deodorant

If you just added a baby to your family or have a kid starting kindergarten or you're facing another type of transition, these words from Erin Loechner are for you.

"When the world is ugly, sometimes the best thing you can do is make something beautiful in response." Lest you ever think we don't struggle with doubt and insecurity, Ashlee got real honest this week about faith, writing, and the superpowers of Dr. Pepper chapstick. 

Little Luxury: Mix equal parts of this $7 self-tanner with your regular lotion so it looks like you actually get to lounge in the sun when you go to the pool. (ha ha, right?)
Sarah's Drink of the Summer // Summer Long Sangria
April's Life Hack: Traveling Tips and Tricks
This month we will be all over the map—quite literally. Here are the places you may bump into a Coffee+Crumbs writer in the wild. Because vacationing with kids is nothing if not WILD.

Jenn is driving solo with both her kids for six hours from Nashville to Columbus, Ohio.

Callie, a solo-drive-with-kids pro, is traveling four hours north from Ann Arbor to Charlevoix, Michigan.

Anna Q will leave Sacramento for Bend, Oregon (a 6 hour drive) and Redstone, Colorado (a 14—14!!!) hour drive.

Wave hi to Anna J in her Sprinter Camper Van as she and her family make their way from Santa Barbara to Bend and Portland, Oregon followed by a camping trip back through California.

Melanie is headed from Atlanta to Washington D.C. where she can catch up with Sonya who is saving her travels until August.

All of these anticipated hours in the car call for some game changing product recs. Here are a few C+C tried and true travel life savers:

For snacking, we love these snack dispensers for minimizing mess and lollipops for their child-quieting powers.

For entertainment, you can't beat an old-fashioned notepad and pen. Pipe cleaners are also a hit (Callie has her girls shape the alphabet with them), and everyone loves an Etch a Sketch

For your destination, this travel booster is great for littles and disposable bibs are a must. And this travel potty seat snaps easily onto any regular toilet, or it can be used a stand-alone potty if you're miles from the nearest rest stop. (Not that anyone's kid would need to go to the bathroom then.)

Needless to say, after the twentieth "are we there yet?" we'll all be living vicariously through Ashlee as she vacations KID-FREE in Nicaragua with her husband to celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary.

Happy trails, C+C sisters!
Coffee Break Q&A with C+C Writer Callie Feyen
Kids: Hadley (10), Harper (8)

Job: I'm an At-Risk Literacy Specialist, and I'm a writer

How do you take your coffee? 
Hot—Black; Iced—with half and half

What do you love most about the season of motherhood you are in?
I love the conversations Hadley, Harper, and I have. I love that I can say, "Oh, yes, that happened to me when I was your age." Not that I have any answers, but I love that I can walk them through life with stories. I also love that we can go on bike rides together, or go on vacations or day trips without worrying about getting home for naptime.

Your family in one word:
Fantastic

If you could tell your pre-mom self one thing, what would it be? 
Calm the hell down. You'll figure it out.

What do you hope for your kids?
I hope my kids learn how to do things scared. I never ever want them to say, "I'd like to try this but I'm afraid." That would be a tragedy.

Lipgloss or mascara?
Lipgloss. I'm sort of bragging, but people think I wear fake eyelashes. My eyelashes are the best part of my face.

What is one thing motherhood has taught you about yourself?
How strong I actually am. I had no idea!
Monthly Meditation:

"I don't want my kids safe and comfortable. I want them BRAVE. I don't want to be the reason my kids choose safety over courage. I hope I never hear them say, 'Mom will freak out,' or 'My parents will never agree to this.' May my fear not bind their purpose here. Scared moms raise scared kids. Brave moms raise brave kids." —Jen Hatmaker

Sonya's Bike Safety Tips
 
It’s summer and my kids love to ride around the block and beg to ride to the pool almost every day. Bike riding is wonderful exercise and gives the kids such a sense of independence (even when we’re all riding together). But as a trauma nurse and mom to four, you can bet your water bottles that we take bike safety seriously in this family. Here are a few tips:
 
Wear a helmet! Every time. Use CPSC-approved helmets, follow the directions for proper fit, and model helmet-wearing for your child. Here’s a great visual for how to properly fit a helmet and here is a helmet safety resource from the CDC. (Brain injuries are a big deal—always wear a helmet!)
 
Before each ride, check that the bike is in working order. Think ABCs: Air in tires. Brakes working. Chain in place.
 
Ride the right sized bike. None of this “growing into” a bike the way we did. A child should be able to easily touch the ground while straddling the bar in front of the seat.
 
Practice! Before hitting the open road, kids should be proficient at starting and stopping, riding straight, signaling, and looking over their shoulders without swerving out of control. Parks, small church parking lots during the week, and school playgrounds are great for this.
 
Young children should ride on sidewalks. But when your kids are ready, bikes are vehicles and follow the rules of the road. That means stopping at all stop signs and using hand signals. “Ride Right” is an easy mnemonic to teach your kids (ride as far right as possible and with traffic, not against it.)  
 
Make sure they know basic hand signals.

Teach your kids to look Left/Right/Left before starting from a stop.
 
“Be Safe, Be Seen.” Wear bright colored clothing, ride during the day in good weather, and use reflectors.
 
For more, check out this video on bike safety from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

We are $764 short of our goal, can you help?

Last fall we introduced “Mother to Mother: A Coffee + Crumbs Care Collective”- an initiative to serve mothers around the globe, starting with a specific group of mothers in Guatemala City that Ashlee and Melanie got to meet last year.

We are looking to fund two projects to partner with the mamas at Puerta de Esperanza CarePoint through Children's HopeChest. You can read more about them here, but the focus is on training and empowerment. This is not a hand out, this is a hand up to fellow women.

Our heart behind the initiative is that every mother deserves the love and support of a community. We're grateful that you're a part of ours, and invite you to join us in paying that forward.

Contribute to the Mother to Mother program here.

Ashlee's July Playlist
 
I'm rarely alone in my car these days, so when I am, it feels like a treat. This is my go to I'm-alone-in-the-car-so-I'm-gonna-roll-the-windows-down-and-sing-real-loud playlist. I discovered Delta Rae last year and got a tiny bit obsessed with them ("My Whole Life Long" and "If I Loved You" are on constant repeat). They're touring this summer, if concerts are your thing! 
What Lesley's Listening To
(Podcast recs from our podcast host!)
  • Conservatives and liberals will find this interview with Glenn Beck both fascinating and encouraging. "To create the world we want our children to inhabit, we all need to be ready to let others surprise us, to offer forgiveness, and to ask hard questions of our own part in this moment.” Check out Krista Tippet’s On Being.
     
  • Sorta Awesome Podcast does it again. Slow clap, loud clap for their episode called The Truth About Anxiety, Part 2
     
  • Thank you to one of our podcast listeners, Katherine B, for recommending the Dad Tired Podcast  Ladies, if your husband needs a faith based podcast to encourage him, we give this one a big thumbs up. (Secret: some of the episodes may just help you better understand your guy!) 
We'll see you right back here in your inbox the first Saturday in August. Have a friend who would love our newsletter? She can sign up here. Until next time!

Love, 
Coffee + Crumbs
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