Thoughts On Protecting My Children Online


Yesterday Luke was asking all sorts of questions about his "baby Wes" and we started to talk about how Luke was once a little, tiny baby. Tiny enough to fit in my belly! His face lit up and his eyes began to twinkle.

"Do you want to see pictures of yourself when you were a baby and in mommy's belly?" I asked him.

"YEAH!!!" he replied.

So, he sat in my lap and we scrolled through all of my old blog entries—all the way from having a baby bump, to the eensy-weensy newborn pictures, to the first time he started walking. In that moment, I realized I have captured so many incredible moments and firsts I would have otherwise brushed to the side in my mind, where they would collect cobwebs and become hazy memories. I am so grateful I have kept this blog and put the time and energy it takes to photograph all the moments and write out all the feelings.

However, there is a darker side to putting your life out there on the internet. Lately, so many of my blogging friends who are mothers have had their children's photos stolen and used for creepy, fake role-play accounts. And who knows what other hellish ways those photos are being warped and inappropriately used. I cannot even begin to let my mind go there.

But, all of this has me seriously contemplating where I stand on blasting photos of Luke and Wes onto the internet. I find so much joy in sharing our life—the tender and sweet times, and the frustrating, I-want-to-rip-my-hair out times. I love being able to be a voice for issues to which many mothers and women deeply feel and relate, but may be too afraid to say on their own.

Where do I draw the line? When do I pull the plug?

These are questions I ask myself every day. I have thought a grip load about how I can share those personal feelings and moment as a mother, but keep Luke and Wesley's life a little more secure and private. This is after all a mom blog, and obviously I am a mother because of them, but I feel like there is a way to keep the focus more about how I feel about this stage of motherhood, versus it being all about the boys' lives.

Am I making any sense? I feel like this is such a sticky subject of debate. There is the whole side of, "the world is full of ugliness and cruelty, and you shouldn't shelter yourself and your children because of it—share your life if that's what makes you happy and realize life needs to continue on and don't let the junk get to you." And then there is the opposing side of, "the world is too open now and it is your number one priority to make sure your children are not out there AT ALL if you care about them—you are a crap parent if you disagree."

You picking up what I am putting down here? I am so torn. Like I said, I love sharing our life, but the more these gross things happen the more inclined I am to put a halt on that aspect of it. There was a wonderful article written here about how to share your life while keeping your kid's protection in mind, and I really like the points that were made. I am trying to put them into practice and be more mindful of what types of pictures I post to Instagram and here on the blog. I absolutely refuse to post photos of them anymore where they are solely in their diaper or underwear, or without a shirt. I am trying to focus more on taking photos which only partially show their faces if they are the only one in the picture, and I really try to make it a point to be in the pictures with them if we are all smiling and looking at the camera. (Apparently those are less targeted?)

Either way, I care about their safety. I don't want them growing up with some weird complex or hating me for putting their lives out for the world to see without their permission. I am not going to stop blogging or make any hard and fast declarations about never posting another picture of my boys again. But I am going to be more careful about specific things I say about them and be more thoughtful of the pictures I do post of them. I feel good about that in my heart and know it is the right thing to do for our family.

So, I am curious about your thoughts on this. Are you a mom? Do you have nieces and nephews who are out there? How do you feel about children's pictures being shared on social media, even if it is just a private account? I am really interested to know the different viewpoints on this matter, so don't hold anything back! Let's talk about this. It's something that needs to be discussed!

Also, thank you for coming back here to read my blog again and again. I truly do cherish the friendships I have made with you and I love the happy side of this online community. There is much goodness to be shared! Thanks for supporting that. Lots of love and hugs to you, and you, and you!

5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas


5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas

Eating healthy and delicious food is hard when you are first starting off. I feel like I am constantly searching for recipes that are low-calorie, packed with flavor and filling. Yes, filling is the thing I struggle with most. It is probably because I am retraining my stomach and brain on proper portion sizes (I can eat almost an entire pizza by myself) and that takes awhile! Anyway, I thought I'd share five of the meals I currently have on rotation, and bonus! They are quick to make! Like, 20 minutes and under quick, which is also an important thing for me.

1. Avocado Egg Toast. This is one of my breakfast staples. It comes in at about 250 calories with a slice of whole wheat toast, 1/4 of sliced avocado and one fried egg. Best way to start off the day, and it is really pretty to look at. (Because we all like a good Instagram food pic! Ha.)

5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas

2. Grilled Chicken with Quinoa and Asparagus. This is absolutely delicious for dinner after a workout, or I even eat it for lunch if I went for a long run in the morning. Grill 1/2 cup of chicken, mix in some grape tomatoes and one tablespoon of feta cheese into your cooked quinoa, and serve it up with grilled asparagus. So many robust flavors! This meal has about 400 calories, and it keeps me satisfied and energized for hours.

5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas

3. Fresh Shrimp Spring Rolls. Okay, this might be my favorite thing on the whole planet to eat for lunch. I learned how to make these when I was 19 while working at a Thai restaurant, and I am telling you they changed my world. You take two rice papers, lightly soak them and then gently overlay them like a Venn diagram. In the middle where the rice papers overlap, place a good chunk of lettuce, sprouts, basil, shredded carrots, and about 4-5 pieces of large shrimp. Starting from the top, roll the rice paper like a burrito making sure you pull it tightly over the stuffing. Serve it with some sweet chili sauce and bam! You are in heaven. Best thing? You are totally full after eating two of these AND they are only 200 calories. For the both of them! Touchdown!

5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas

4. Pesto Shrimp Pasta. I would also like to note this is equally as wonderful with grilled chicken, which is cheaper and most likely on hand. This is my default dinner when I don't feel like cooking up something extravagant (which is 98.3% of the time). Cook 1/4 cup of penne or rotini pasta, thaw out 1/4 cup of shrimp, and mix it all together with 2 tablespoons of pre-made pesto from Costco. Or if you are a superhero, you can mix it in with fresh homemade pesto, but I don't have the time for that or the desire. Although I do like the idea of it freshly made. (Baby steps, Abbey, baby steps!) This is literally one of the most impressive thing you can make in under 15 minutes. I highly recommend. Oh, and the calories for this whippersnapper of a meal weigh in at 275 with shrimp and 325 with 1/2 cup of grilled chicken. Nice!

5 Quick, Low-Calorie Meal Ideas

5. Quinoa Veggie Salad with Naan and Hummus. This is what I eat when I am doing a refrigerator dump and have no energy left to make food because Kayla's resistance training has sucked the life (and hopefully fat) out of me. I like to cook a huge batch of quinoa for the week so I can add it into my meals for a healthy, gluten-free grain. All this requires is 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa, any medley of random vegetables in your refrigerator (I have tomatoes, avocado, and mushrooms in mine) and 1 tablespoon of feta cheese to give it some bite. I eat it with a slice of mini naan with a spread of 1 tablespoon of hummus. I think this makes for a light and satisfying lunch, and the calories are about 400. This meal is extra tasty with my infused detox water recipes.

I hope these are helpful if you are looking for new clean eating ideas. I am on week three of my Bikini Body Guide workouts, and I am already noticing a significant difference in my body. My stomach isn't as poochy and everything is starting to tighten up. Obviously, I still indulge in donuts and pizza once and awhile, but within reason now (as compared to every other day before I started this whole fitness journey). I still don't believe in depriving myself and like to reward myself with treats, but eating healthy is a huge staple in getting the fit body I want. And I am proud of myself for sticking with it!

The Man Behind The Lens: Sergey Demko of Happy Medley


I am so excited to introduce you to the Man Behind the Lens this month! Meet Sergey Demko, the master photographer behind Anna's style blog, Happy Medley. Sergey works as a registered nurse, has a dry sense of humor with lots of sarcasm, loves his coffee in a very specific way (i.e. has to be ground by hand and pressed with manual french press), great at detailed and scrupulous work, and completes Anna as a foodie. 

Anna has the cutest bump and is an awesome source of inspiration for maternity style. We can all thank Sergey for that! ;) Let's hear what his two cents are on this whole fashion blogging world. (FYI, I laughed the entire time when I read through it.)

How long have you been the man behind the lens?

Since the beginning of the blog, which is almost three years

How do you feel about your role as the outfit photographer?
I want to support my wife in her venture, although I'm not always thrilled to do it. I'm glad to help her with something she likes to do.

What goes through your mind when Anna asks you to take a picture of her outfit?

I would say it depends on the outfit. Most outfits are stylish in my eyes but others I do not understand and ask her a couple of times if she's sure about the outfit. (Like the outfits with rain boots. Those are not fashionable at all, I think.)

How many photos do you generally have to take?

 At least twenty or more.

What's the most ridiculous thing Anna has asked you to photograph? 

High heels and short sleeves when it's snowing outside.

Is Anna bossy, or do you have a specific system down when taking photos?

I do what I'm told, generally.

What time of day do you usually take pictures?

In the afternoon, depending on the season.

When Anna asks you to take the pictures are you: 
a. happy and willing 
b. begrudgingly doing it because you don't want to deal with the consequences of saying no 
c. indifferent 
d. none of the above 
e. no comment

f. all of the above, depending on the day. Sometimes she asks me at the wrong time and I do not want to do it, but there are more times when I think she looks gorgeous and want to take pictures.

How would you describe Anna's sense of style?

I would say her style is classy, reserved and modest.

Do you have any other input or thoughts you would like to add?

Oh we are done? I gotta go.

Aren't they the cutest? Thanks, Sergey for fitting us style blogging womenfolk into your busy schedule yet once again ;) And be sure to find Anna at her blog, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest!