How to Ensure that Open Enrollment Works for You

Thank you Dignity Health for sponsoring this post. Enroll in humankindness.

If you’re anything like me, you tend to shy away from thinking about or dealing with insurance and healthcare. It can be confusing and overwhelming! As the main caretaker of my children, it is a necessity that I know what my children’s health provider options are and which plan I should be going with. Terms like open enrollment, premium, and deductible can make your head spin! With a little bit of insight, though, you can see that Open Enrollment is a great time to make your family’s quality of life better.

Over 22% of people said that they spent less than an hour on selecting their healthcare plan and providers! 65% of millennials said that they wish they would have spent more time making their selections. Don’t be in that boat – get informed and make educated decisions.

For the most part, I think that I was pretty prepared to be a mother. I’m the oldest child in my family and the oldest of all of my cousins. I have always loved babies and grew up babysitting to make extra money. I had my CPR certification, First Aid binder, crayons and activities for the kids, and treats for when they were good. I read all of the Dr. Sears and What to Expect books. In my almost 8 years of being a mother, not much has been a surprise when it comes to parenting.

The one thing I didn’t plan for? How much time would be spent at doctor’s offices! I can’t tell you new mothers how many appointments you will have throughout your pregnancy and how many babies have. They have check-ups and vaccinations every few weeks. And that’s when they’re healthy! Plan for their first illnesses, unexpected febrile seizures (so scary), and first tumbles resulting in broken bones to be on your way to the doctor’s office. We’ve been fortunate in that Lola, at 6 years old, was our first broken bone in the family. The joys of being a mother: one child getting a cast and the other throwing a tantrum on the floor! There’s another thing to look for – a doctor’s office with a clean floor :)

All of this to say, it is crucial that you choose a doctor that you love! You will be spending so much time talking with their office on the phone, waiting in the waiting room, and taking your children in for check-ups. Most Californians don’t prioritize their doctors when choosing their insurance plan. Meaning that they choose a plan, and then look for a doctor in that network. I would recommend finding a doctor that you like, and then seeing which insurance plan they work with.

For me, the best way to find a good doctor is to ask other parents who they use. During open enrollment is your time to find the insurance plan and doctors that work best for your entire family. For us personally, we like the Health Savings Plan route. We have a separate debit card that is loaded with our pre-tax dollars to use strictly for medical expenses. I pay our family’s copays at doctor appointments, prescriptions, and chiropractic adjustments with that card. It helps us keep track of medical expenses and I like having it separate from everything else.

I would ask trusted friends for recommendations if you are looking for new medical providers. Then you have a better chance of finding one you like. Sometimes people like different things, and you may end up switching after a few visits. For this reason, I like going to a practice where there are multiple doctors. That way, you can schedule your appointments with the one you get along with best. For us, trial and error has given us the experience to know that we like the Health Savings Plan for our insurance plan. Find what works for you, then make your selections during Open Enrollment to ensure a happy, healthy year for your whole family.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Start a Lifetime of Healthy Habits with Nature Made® Vitamins at Target

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.Nature Made - karainthekitchen.comDo any of you remember those giant, orange vitamin C vitamins we had as kids? My mom said that her mom gave them to her, so she gave them to us, and now I give them to my kids! I am so grateful for the healthy habit of taking my vitamins daily thanks to my mom. Every morning before school, we would take a multivitamin and that giant orange vitamin C vitamin.

We have tried different vitamins with our daughters over the years. They are definitely fans of gummy vitamins! Where were those when I was a kid? I’m glad for them now because I was able to take prenatal vitamins in gummy form during my first trimester. There was no way I could stomach the giant horse pills during that queasy time!

We found the Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamins very easily in our Target store. They have a snazzy new red lid (fitting) and were on the top shelf with other vitamins in the KIDS FIRST® line.nature-made-karainthekitchen-com-3Now that the kids are back to school, the germs are back in full force as well. You can see Ada’s blisters on her hands from doing the monkey bars every day at recess! Volunteering in Kindergarten classes shows you really quickly who has been taught to cover their cough at home. No wonder my mom, a Kindergarten teacher, has such a strong immune system ;) I want my girls to be as healthy as possible when they come in contact with those germs, so I make sure they take their multivitamins every day. In the one month that we’ve been back to school, each daughter has caught a bug and gotten over it in record time. I think it’s because they take their vitamins!nature-made-karainthekitchen-com-2I like that with Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamins, each child only has to take one vitamin per day. They are more concentrated so they don’t have to eat two. My girls like the all natural flavors of orange, cherry, and mixed berry. No artificial dyes, either! To get 10% off your Nature Made® KIDS FIRST® Multivitamins at Target and enter to win a $50 Target gift card, click here!

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Living Well with Nature Made Vitamins

This post was sponsored by Nature Made® as a part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.Nature Made Vitamins-1Every stage of life is different. Our goals change from year to year based on what is going on in our lives. Obviously, my health and wellness goals this year have been different than in past years. At this time last year, I was busy training and getting ready for the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon! I know some women continue running throughout their entire pregnancies, but I can’t do it past the middle of the second trimester. I miss it so much! I get jealous when I see people out running or Matt goes for a run. For now, it’s walking, prenatal yoga, swimming, and the elliptical. Unfortunately I had to give up the stationary bike because I was riding it like a kid that had outgrown a tricycle, due to the big baby bump in the way! Hopefully at the time of this year’s half marathon, I will be getting ready to welcome baby girl number three into our family :) Nature Made Vitamins-1-2This year’s wellness goals have been all about staying healthy throughout my pregnancy and growing a strong baby girl. So far, so good! Today begins the 30 day countdown to June’s due date. She will be here next month!! I started out my pregnancy like all of the others, completely nauseous and unable to keep anything down. So I took chewable sour gummy vitamins when I could. Then, once the nausea finally passed, I had to switch to swallowable vitamins because the gummies reminded me of being sick and made me gag. Nature Made Vitamins-1-3Off to Walmart to get some Prenatal Vitamins from Nature Made. I grabbed some Fish Oil for Matt, too, and love that they have a burp-less variety! That’s what has kept me away from Fish Oil in the past, the yucky aftershocks throughout the day. He has been taking them and says they live up to their burp-less promise. The Prenatal Vitamins have been excellent and easy to swallow thanks to the gel coating. I am grateful for a vitamin I can easily take to help keep my baby and I healthy and strong! New moms: even after baby is born, you should continue to take your Prenatal Vitamins. Especially if you’re nursing! Baby will get those good nutrients and you will feel better, too. Nature Made at WalmartTo help you with your health and wellness goals, Nature Made has a microsite here where you can sign up to receive Nature Made Daily Boosts…little things that you can do to help your overall wellness. Enter for a chance to win 1 of 20 $50 Walmart gift cards below!
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*I-C will randomly select 20 winners from all program entries and will handle fulfillment of the winning prizes.

Here’s to Nature Made helping you achieve your health and wellness goals this year, whichever stage of life you are in!

Santa Barbara Wine Country Half 2015 Recap

I was SO excited to run the Santa Barbara Wine Country Half Marathon for the second time this year! Find my first recap here, and 6 reasons you should run it here.

The best part was that it was Matt’s very first half marathon! It was so fun to run it with him. I told him he would be hooked after running it and he is. He said, “We have to run this every year!”

The only problem was that I hurt my back. We moved on May 1st and all of the packing, bending, lifting, and cleaning, led to me throwing out my lower back when I picked up Lola on Tuesday. Went to my chiropractor and told him, “So, I’m running a half marathon this Saturday…” and he’s like, “You mean you hope you’re running! As long as you don’t lift a box or a daughter the wrong way again!” So needless to say, I was in pain the whole race but still ran it. Much slower than I’d hoped to (2:50), but we finished together!

Packet pickup was in Solvang at the Expo on Friday. We saw the finish line all set up and couldn’t wait to cross it the next morning!

I tried on the most comfortable shoes: Newtons. They were so bouncy and maybe when my current shoes wear out I’ll get a pair of them :)

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Alaska Airlines was a sponsor and did free name engraving on luggage tags for everyone. We also entered to win a trip…still crossing my fingers!

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I LOVE the shirts this year! Super soft and light. And how cute is the race bib? They took one of my grapes in exchange for my shirt. The timing chip was built into the back of it; read: no clunky chip to tie to your shoe! Technology is awesome.

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Race morning! Kandie drove us (THANK YOU!!) and we were there bright and early, ready to run! Check out Destination Races’ sweet new start structure:

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The overcast weather could not have been more perfect for running! Matt was mad that he even bothered bringing his sunglasses. Mine were so light that I didn’t mind them on my head the whole time.

The course did not disappoint! The gorgeous vineyards, lavender fields, beautiful homes, rolling hills…

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Then ending with the finish line in Solvang. Look at the windmill in our finish pic that Kandie took!

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At the finish line where my mom met us with the girls! They were happy to wear our medals until they got too heavy…a good problem to have ;)

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We got to the VIP area after being measured for our SOLS (more on those later!), and the food tasted incredible! The sun came out just as we finished the race, it was perfect.

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Bottom line: I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Hopefully on a weekend where I haven’t moved the week before :) Thank you, Destination Races, for putting on such a great event right in my back yard!

I was provided with two discounted race entries. As always, all opinions are 100% mine! 

Becoming a Mother with a Special Nurse

With Mother’s Day approaching, it has me reflecting on the time when I first became a mother. It was December 2009, and I was 9 days overdue. I was incredibly anxious to meet my daughter!

I worked with Dignity Health and SocialMoms on this post to pay tribute to the incredible nurses who helped me become a mother in honor of #NursesWeek.

I will never forget getting to French Hospital and meeting my wonderful nurses. I was throwing up because of the pain, and they were holding my hair back and wiping my mouth for me. They were so sweet and accommodating!

I have always had a hard time with needles, but not for the reason you might think. They don’t scare me at all – I just have slippery, hard-to-find veins. I’ve been poked so many times and had giant bruises from a needle going straight through my vein before. So I always warn nurses that I don’t do well when it comes to IVs and such. My nurse, Claudia, was perfect. She calmed my fears and said that we would find a nice vein and that she’d never missed before. She was asking me about what we were naming the baby, where we were from, and before I knew it – the IV was in! Magic I tell you :) She also made sure that I had all of the red Jell-O I wanted!

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Here is the direct quote from my labor story: “My nurse, Claudia, was INCREDIBLE! She bent over backwards to make sure that my family and I were comfortable. She was such a sweet, calming, funny, perfect person to have around. Love that woman.”

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I remember my mom coming to meet us at the hospital. I was laboring and they had the whole labor & delivery wing nice and quiet with dimmed lights. My mom said that Claudia greeted her warmly and asked in a hushed tone who she was here for. When she said my name, Claudia gently led her to my room and made sure she, Matt, and I had everything we needed. It was all such a peaceful experience thanks to her and the other nurses! I remember telling my doctor that I never wanted to leave Hotel French ;)

For such a life-changing event of becoming a mother, I am forever grateful that I was surrounded by such loving, kind, and considerate nurses. They made the labor, surgery, nursing, and recovery the most memorable and wonderful experience in a situation that can be overwhelming and uncertain. Thank you, nurses.

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Which nurses have touched your life and made an impact on you?

Check out the posts being shared on the @DignityHealth Twitter feed, Facebook page, and  @Hellohumankindness Instagram.

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Dignity Health blogging program. As always, the opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

Latest & Greatest

My hair was getting pretty 90s…bangs were so long that I had to keep curling them bigger and bigger!

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So I got a haircut :)

Before & after:

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I love it! Doesn’t take as long to dry and style.

Shaking it off to send pics to my sister:

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I applied to be a member of the Disney Parks Moms Panel for the first time this year! I was so honored to make it to Round 2 on my first shot among thousands of applicants.

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Here is the video I made for my application. They said “have fun” and I did! It worked out perfectly that we were at Disneyland!

So I got the email yesterday that I didn’t make it to Round 3 :( It was sad, but I also knew that I was competing with tons of Disney fanatics for one of only TWO spots for Disneyland. One of the current panelists lives in the UP House in Utah! So, yeah.

I went for a run to push the sadness away and get some endorphins flowing. 3 miles & felt better afterward.

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I signed up for the Holiday Sweat Challenge!! It starts on the 24th and goes through January. I did it because I felt gross after all of the Halloween candy and want some help with staying healthier through the holidays. I’m known to eat cookies for lunch if that’s what I’m baking, so I’m excited to have meal ideas, workout plans, and community to be accountable to. Matt’s going to do it with me too. You should join (click the pic below) and tell them I sent you! I get entered to win a prize if you do :)

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Hope you’re doing well! What’s new with you?

fitmob!

This is a sponsored post and I was compensated for my time. As always, all opinions are 100% mine. 

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What is fitmob you ask?

Let me share!

– trainer-led group workouts in various neighborhoods in the Bay Area

– workouts vary from dance, yoga, cardio, and strength training

– you pay weekly to workout and are never penalized for inactivity

– the more you work out, the less you pay each week

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fitmob is now offering MobTribes!

A MobTribe is a group of 2-6 people that get the benefit of a personal trainer without the expensive price tag (it’s $34 per session – but if you invite friends, you all only pay $29).

MobTribes receive nutrition coaching, personal attention, off day workouts, & training.

The Tribe trains together 2 times a week in a six week program focused on getting results!

If you would like to join, go here: https://www.fitmob.com/tribes

Choose a location, time, day, and fitness level.

fitmob will then match you up with a Tribe (or you can make one with your own friends). Your trainer will then email you with info to get you ready for your first session!

Doesn’t that sound fun? I love working out with friends. I always push myself harder when I know I’m being held accountable.

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fitmob is hosting the giveaway below for a $25 Athleta gift card! Good luck – they have the cutest workout apparel :)

If you enter the giveaway, you may be contacted by fitmob by email.
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New

Lots of new things have been happening around here! For starters, my first born started Preschool!! I can’t believe it. She was so ready and is thriving. Check out her sparkly new Hello Kitty shoes! We live in flip flops so that was a big deal. The second I pick her up, the socks and shoes come off!

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Her teacher told me that she is well-mannered, well-behaved, and eager to learn. Music to a mother’s ears :)

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When we first walked into the classroom, Ada went straight for the paints. She put on the smock and got to it! I told her I was going to leave and she said, “Okay, bye Mommy.” all the while focused on her masterpiece. I said, “Hey! Gimme a kiss!” so she did. She didn’t cry, I didn’t cry. Lola cried because she wanted to stay!

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I whispered in her ear that we had a smoothie date and the tears disappeared. Lola is loving the one-on-one time with Mommy and so am I :)

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Ada has made friends and this little girl is the daughter of one of my friends! They’re adorable together.

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I love volunteering in the class. Ada puts her little hand on my arm during snack time and looks back at me with a smile while I’m there :)

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Another new thing is the blog redesign! I am thrilled with it!! I wanted to convey in my header that I cover Food, Home & Family, Travel, and Running & Fitness. Danielle nailed it. The font and blues make me SO happy! She was easy to work with and extremely patient with my picky requests, not to mention incredibly reasonable for her work! She works with Mary on WordPress installs and she was fabulous as well, answering emails within minutes and fixing any requests quickly. If you’re looking for someone for a redesign, check them out!

The last new thing is that we finally joined a gym again!! We are loving it!

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It’s The Little Things That Make Your Child Extraordinary!

It’s all about the little moments when you are raising young children. It may sound cheesy, but I live for the little things! There’s nothing better after a long, exhausting day than to hear your sweet child say, “You’re my best Mommy.” Those moments always make me re-center and focus on the big picture. People say that the days are long but the years are short…even if it doesn’t feel like it when you’re down in the trenches. I added that last part ;)

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Stanford Children’s Health wants you to focus on the little things that make your child extraordinary. You can make a video showcasing what makes the children in your life special! Here is the video I made for Ada & Lola. I totally cried the first time I watched it!

Your kid is extraordinary. Show them how much you enjoy every moment together by creating a special video of your own!

With Ada, it’s our talks. She is growing up and understanding so much more. I love the questions she asks and watching the wheels turn as she comprehends what she’s learning! The other night she was afraid of the “Bad Kermit” with the mole from the latest Muppets movie. She wasn’t falling asleep and I told her that movies aren’t real. She thought that if there were real humans in the movie it was real, and if it was a cartoon movie it was made up! Makes sense, right? After I told her about scripts, actors, and cameras, she went right to sleep. I love watching her learn!

With Lola, it’s picking her up from Nursery at the end of church. I try to sneak in and watch her, usually curled up on someone’s lap reading books. Then I kneel down and say her name until she hears me. When she does, she jumps up and yells, “MOMMY!!!!” and comes running full force to give me a huge hug (that’s why I kneel down, so I don’t get pushed over in my heels). It’s the best!

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For my Bay Area friends, Stanford Children’s Health doctors can be reached within 10 miles of most homes in the San Francisco Bay Area. They are the largest Bay Area healthcare provider with an exclusive focus on children and expectant women. Stanford Children’s Health and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford has been the top-ranked children’s hospital in Northern California for over a decade!!
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Les Mills The Project – Immersive Fitness

I’ve heard of Les Mills workouts before, but this is something totally new! The Project is Immersive Fitness, using screens in a special studio surrounding you to make you feel like you are in a movie!! An instructor leads you through movements to combat and outrun the bad guys :) Here’s a teaser video:

Doesn’t that look fun? Would you take these classes if they were offered at your gym?

I love taking group classes. This would be such a blast! It kind of reminds me of those bike or treadmill programs that make you feel like you’re outside instead of in a gym.

I hope that The Project Immersive Fitness comes to my little town! There are plans for a 2015 tour that will have pop-up workout centers for all to try the latest and greatest in group fitness!

Check out The Project on Instagram & follow here: http://instagram.com/thepr0ject

The next level of fitness is here. IMMERSIVE FITNESS™ surrounds participants with cinema quality video content projected onto screens of a purpose-built studio.  Exercise moves synchronize perfectly with music and graphics, creating a truly immersive fitness experience. Learn more!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Les Mills. The opinions and text are all mine.