Take Charge of the Internet Once and For All

Im so excited to finally be allowed to share this with you all that I just might burst. Its been the hardest secret I have EVER been asked to keep. When the incredible folks at Circle approached me to tell me about what they had created, the potential was obvious and my expectations were pretty high. Yet when I actually got my device and set it up? Expectations were so far surpassed you guys.

I am so incredibly honored to get to tell you guys about the one device I firmly believe EVERYONE who uses the internet should have in their home.

 

 

Now that you’ve seen a little taste of what Circle can do, let me tell you a bit about why I’m so head over heels in love with this tiny little device.

MULTIPLE USERS ACROSS ALL DEVICES: Circle is unlike any internet management tool I’ve seen, because rather than installing an app or program on a single device, Circle sets up an easy to use system for our entire home. Every single device that interacts with our home wifi connection is identified by our Circle, and each member of our family has a unique user profile that has its own customized settings.

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Although the most obvious applications for Circle appear to be in the area of parental controls, don’t let that fool you! This device has something for EVERYONE. Whether you’re single, married, childless, or parenting a variety of ages, Circle provides a variety of tools for more intentional use of internet enabled devices. It can shed light on online habits that may have gone unnoticed, it can promote a new sense of intimacy in a marriage invaded by screens, it can even foster conversations with loved ones about how we use the internet and where it can take us in the future. Circle ultimately gives you what you make of it, no matter where you are in life.

TIME LIMITS: You can use Circle to easily set daily time limits for a family member on any app or category you want. You can also customize how much time your kids spend on each platform and even set a total online time for the day. The time limits are easy to adjust, and when a limit is reached that user and I both receive a notification, so I’m always in the loop and in the know. This sets up a great opportunity for my family to communicate regularly about our habits online so we know where to tweak and adjust these limits as we go.

FILTER CONTENT:  Circle has 4 preset age levels (Pre-K; Kid; Teen; Adult,) but it allows for further customization by platform, app, and category. I love that I can fine tune exactly what each member of my family sees online.

PAUSE THE INTERNET:  You read that right – the internet now comes with a pause button. With the push of a button I’m able to pause the internet on the fly, whether its family dinner time, date night with the hubby, or simply time to unplug and get to work around the house. The internet doesn’t have the power in my family anymore – I do!

SET BEDTIME:  With Circle, both our kids and their devices share the same bedtimes. I don’t have to collect devices from my kiddos or hide them every evening to ensure a good nights sleep. Their devices now disconnect automatically each evening and reconnect at a set time each day.

BLOCK ADS: Circle can block ads for any user or device. Ad Blocking was of huge importance to me for my impressionable kiddos, so this is a major plus.

STINKER PROOF: I have a genius and a stinker in my house, so I was concerned that either (or both) of them would find a way to circumvent the device. Luckily the folks at Circle are one step ahead of my little brood of schemers. Circle remains active even when unplugged and has no off button; the only way to adjust or change Circle’s filtering and time management settings is through the iOS app, which is password protected and can only be downloaded on a single smartphone.

DISCOVER INSIGHTS:  This is easily the MOST important feature of Circle. Circle tracks and displays an amazing panel of insights that show me things like the total time each user spends online, where they spend it, and the top 5 sites each user visits most. I can see when my kids get filtered and exactly what they were attempting to access when it happened. I can track my own personal web habits and make sure I’m practicing what I preach and setting healthy examples for my family. Most importantly, the insights panel provides a jumping off point for important conversations within our family about how we use the internet and what we choose to do with our devices.

B8-7ZDNY6gNffocV2ESrxRrDRPVIBg8VjJLkGGFY3aYRISK-PROOF INDEPENDENCE: Thanks to Circle, I have been able to grant a new level of independence to my children in regards to electronic devices. This tiny little unit has been the key that unlocked my ultimate dream: children who are learning to manage their own online behaviors and screen time habits without requiring my constant interference or supervision. Tablets, computers, streaming devices… none of them hold any fear for me any longer as a parent. They have simply become tools to grant my kids access to learn about the world, gain valuable skills in the technology age, further their education from home, and communicate with friends and relatives who aren’t close by. My children are thrilled to experience their new found independence, and I’m thrilled to foster their sense of personal responsibility for their own habits online. It’s a parenting win-win.

ONE-TIME COST WITHOUT A SUBSCRIPTION: Unlike many of the alternatives who market internet management or parental controls, circle is a one time cost and not a subscription based service. And considering all Circle does? It’s really affordable! Circle is available for purchase for just $99.

Have your attention? I hope so! You can get more information about what the device can do, see answers to all sorts of questions, and even order your own Circle at www.meetcircle.com. It’s time to harness the power of the internet for good and live intentionally in a whole new way.

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TELLING ME WHAT MOST EXCITES YOU ABOUT CIRCLE, OR ASKING A QUESTION ABOUT THE DEVICE, AND YOU’LL BE ENTERED TO WIN A JOY PACKAGE OF SOME OF MY FAVORITE TREATS AND GOODIES!

Winner will be selected by random.org on Wednesday, November 18th.

How I Lost 50 Pounds in Only Six Months

How I Lost 50Lbs A year ago I was the heaviest I had been my whole life. At 5’9″ tall, I was 212 pounds and was wearing a women’s size 1x or an extra-extra-large. I was constantly fatigued, my chronic pain issues were becoming more and more inflamed, and I was so frustrated with the way clothes fit that I was beginning to lose any sense of what my personal style really was anymore. As my confidence suffered, so did my marriage, and it was difficult to want to go to social occasions when I knew I was going to face the inevitable parade of trying on 20 uncomfortable and poorly fitting outfit ideas before ultimately settling back into one of the 4 or so comfortable pieces I had relegated to myself almost daily. I was finally unhappy about it enough to be ready for change. In 6 short months I was able to shed 50lbs, bringing me to 162 lbs and a women’s size 8 on top, 10 on the bottom, or a size medium. The transformation has been a dramatic one, with the weight loss visible not just in my body but in my face as well. It changed the entire way I look, but more importantly it changed the way I feel. Not only was I able to lose the weight, but in the past 6 months I have been able to successfully keep it off, fluctuating  in a range of only 5-7 lbs through different seasons and changes in activity and diet. Amazingly, none of this weight loss was from working out, as when I was losing this weight I was going through various health issues and wasn’t cleared for physical activity any more strenuous than regular walking or occasional hiking with my boys – so nothing with a caloric burn to really bring about significant weight loss. This means ANYONE can lose weight, even if you’re facing physical handicaps that keep you from strenuous exercise. So how did I do it? Three main components made up my plan.

 

1. Kick Preservatives to the Curb: Eat Whole Foods Instead

ProduceI actually began my dietary changes not to lose weight but to help with various health issues I was experiencing. Rather than count calories, I was intentionally limiting the amount of processed foods and preservatives I allowed into my diet. In fact, I wasn’t tracking calories in much of a meaningful way for most of my weight loss journey. My focus was on eliminating the amount of chemicals making their way into my body. I learned quickly that the battle was best fought once at the grocery store, rather than over and over at home. This meant trying to keep my shopping trips to the outer walls of the grocery store as much as possible, and avoid purchases from the aisles in the middle. We kept tons of easy to snack on produce, especially berries and cuties oranges, to make up for the sugary treats I had become rather addicted to. Salty snack cravings were satisfied with choices like lightly salted almonds, or specially chosen tortilla chips or baked pretzels from a trusted whole foods provider like Trader Joe’s. I had to change the way I looked at what constituted a typical meal, since I wasn’t always able to cook meals from scratch but still didn’t want to fall back on processed convenience food. I actually ate many a lunch that looked almost exactly how I would feed my young kids: a few pieces of a preservative-free lunch meat (like turkey or nitrate-free salami,) a few nibs of cheese, a handful of pretzel crisps, a large carrot, and a selection of fresh fruit. I ate regularly, I never excluded any major food groups, and I never let myself go hungry. And sure, I would occasionally cheat, especially if eating a meal out with friends, but my goals were less about following a perfect program and more about creating a different lifestyle in how we approached food overall.

2. Find Ways to Actively Treat Yourself: Too Much Restriction Leads to Cheating & Quitting

Trader Joes ChocolateOf all the times I’ve managed to lose weight in the past, the process has been full of starts and restarts, and usually the pounds I lost came back within months – and it would bring some of its friends. This time I wasn’t so much focused on losing weight as on overall health, so I was allowing myself treats more than on any previous diet attempt. As the weight continued to slide off, and all throughout the past 6 months of maintaining my new size, treating myself has remained an important way to KEEP with these healthy changes. I’ve found from experience that the more I try to stick to super restrictive plans that require you to cut out entire food groups or eliminate all sugars or fats, the more Im tempted to cheat;and the more I cheat, the more quickly I convince myself I’m going to fail and quit the diet entirely. By allowing myself treats (like these amazing 100 calorie chocolate bard from Trader Joe’s,) I wouldn’t feel like I was on a diet, and my attention would be less focused on what I “couldn’t” have and more on the incredible changes I was seeing and feeling in my body.

 

 

3. MY SECRET WEAPON: Essential Oils Were the Ultimate Game Changer

Essential Oils for Weightloss

Now some of you may have read this far and thought to yourselves, “this isn’t really anything new to me – eat healthier and dont worry too hard about it… been there, done that.” For you folks in particular, I’m about to share my secret weapon that changed my health and diet in ways I honestly thought fell under the heading of internet scam or too good to be true. And in the spirit of honesty, when my friend first started telling me about essential oils from Young Living and all they could do for my health, I thought, “Yeah, sure… and Dr. Oz has the magic kale smoothie cure for cancer right?” At the time though, my health was in a pretty nasty way, and after trying so many things that simply weren’t working, I was desperate enough to give it a try. When my starter kit first arrived, I would classify myself as a “hopeful skeptic.” I certainly didn’t expect the oils to live up to the hype, but I was desperately hoping they would help even a little. And man, did those little bottles exceed all of my hopes. Within a month we were successfully using oils to help everything from insomnia to viral infections to chronic pain to acne that had plagued me since my teenage years. It was at this point that I heard about a trio of oils recommended for helping in weight loss. According to the experts, an empty capsule taken each day filled with a mixture of lemon, peppermint, and grapefruit oils could help with weight loss in incredible ways. Peppermint would aid in digestive function, lemon would help detox and balance the system, and grapefruit would drastically curb sugar cravings and help speed metabolism. Since I had already seen such wonderful results with other uses for the oils, I decided to give the oils for weight loss a try – and within 6 months I was 50 lbs lighter. When taking the oils I could feel a noticeable difference in my energy levels, in how quickly I felt full at meals (my portion sizes were dramatically reduced,) in how regular I was, and most noticeably in how much less I craved sugar. At one point I even went off the capsules for 10 days to see if it was just placebo effect, and by the end of the 10 days I was swearing up and down I would never stop taking them again. When a sugar craving hits especially hard (::cough:: PMS much? ::cough::) I put a little grapefruit oil directly on my skin like eau de toilette or diffuse it into the air, and the craving is noticeably eased. Thanks to my amazing mason jar tumbler and glass straw from The Mason Bar Company, I have also been able to add various citrus oils too my water intake each day. Lemon, Grapefruit, and Tangerine have become my favorite oils to drink, and just a few drops make keeping up my water intake super easy and delicious, while also providing the health benefits of the oils themselves.
(*It’s super important to point out that citrus oils should never ever ever be consumed in plastic of any kind, as they can eat at the plastics over time and can pull toxic chemicals from the plastic into your water. Only drink citrus oils from glass or stainless steel products. I cant recommend the glass tumbler and glass straw I’ve shown here highly enough!)
(**It’s even more important to point out that not all essential oils are safe to ingest. In fact MOST essential oils are absolutely NOT. Please research all essential oils before you purchase or ingest. I did a lot of research before decided on oils for my family, and the only brand I can SAFELY recommend for these uses is Young Living, especially because of their Seed to Seal process.)

I’m so grateful for the way these oils have affected my health and my weight loss journey, that I’ve decided to give away a 24 oz tumbler with my favorite mint lid and a glass straw (generously given by our friends at The Mason Bar Company,) as well as a full sized bottle of grapefruit, tangerine, and lemon! Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Winner will be selected by Random.org. Contest will close at 12:00am on 4/1. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Break Out the Champagne

champagnetoast
It’s here! It’s finally here!

And that means it’s time to announce the winners of my 7 days of giveaways! Congratulations to the following winners, as selected by random.org:

  • Grocery Pad – Renata Kreider
  • Black and White Journal – Lauren Nicole Photography (@lnsphoto)
  • $5 to Starbucks  – Susie Coldren (@SUSI3_CoLDR3N)
  • Moms’ Night Out Book – Tawni Klarke
  • Blue Floral Stationary Pack – Emily Boyd (@emilyruth221)
  • Clipboard Set – Bonnie Galindo (@busibee311)
  • Pink Stationary Pack – Kristin Wilson (@graceandserendipity)

Winners should email thejoyparade@gmail.com with the subject line GIVEAWAY WINNER in order to claim your prizes. Congratulations!

But that’s not all folks.What would a blog launch be without a super sized giveaway? I have put together a prize package for one lucky winner that is sure to brighten your day.

Here’s the skinny:

The-Joy-Parade-Giveaway

Like what you see? Enter below and I’ll announce the big winner next week on the blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway