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Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Some New Baby Faves

Hi friends!

I wanted to do a quick post about some of my favorite baby items as we quickly approach our due date with baby #4!  It's been a fun (HOT) summer, but we are loving having the kiddos back in school and on a routine.  Everybody thrives on it!  Here are some tried and true things we've used with all our babies and plan to continue with this precious one.  Check them out:

Best baby tub for newborns!  Hangs to dry, folds up for travel, and makes baths a breeze.

We actually have these in every bedroom of our house and two traveling ones so we never have to be without them!
We've been using these diapers for 7 years and love them!

The first time you cut your baby's nails can be scary.  These are the best ones I've found, and we probably have 6 pairs scattered all around the house. Everyone uses them!

It's the middle of the night, you're tired, its dark, and you can't remember how to swaddle and you don't want loud velcro waking up your baby.  Enter, the Woombie.  I'm obsessed with this swaddle, and we have several ready for this baby!

I mean, it's cute.  It's functional.  What more do you need?

We have these leftover from when Isaac was born.  They are adorable and just get softer with age.  I don't mess around with fancy nursing covers when I'm about and about.  I just tie a not in one of these and throw it over me and babe.  Easy, soft, lightweight, and multi-purpose.

I spent money on fancier glass bottles, but these are our favorites.  They're cheap, we use them daily, and our toddler has dropped them on multiple occasions, and we've never had one crack.

I'm not a huge baby-wearer (I thought I would be--maybe it's because my babies are all huge), but this is a wonderful, easy carrier for the first couple of months!
SO much better than the bulb syringe they'll give you at the hospital.  It seems gross, but the snot never gets near your mouth (ha!), and it works amazingly well.  Pair with some baby saline.

This may not seem like a baby item, but it's magical.  Dinner ready in 15 minutes?  Yes please! 

We actually just received this for baby #4, and I'm excited to have a place to lay him as a newborn that isn't a crib or swing.  Great to have in the living room for those early days. 

All natural pacis that our first son LOVED.  Audrey loved her wubbanub, and Isaac hardly took a paci.  So find your baby's thing, but we loved this because of the material! 

We are in love with all things Young Living for baby!  The seedlings line of baby care products, and all the oils for all the things!  Click the link above to join my team and get signed up as a wholesale member of Young Living, where you can get 24% off of all your purchases!

Check out the mom bag I designed with Fashionable last year!  It's called the Alem Utility Bag and comes in lots of colors, including this BEAUTIFUL new burgundy!

I hope this helped give you some fun ideas! 


Thursday, May 11, 2017

All The Things

Nashville, TN.

Friendsssssssss! How are you? It has been such a lovely spring season for our family, and I want to tell you all about it.

In April we played our last show of the year. I don't think I've ever played my last show of the year in the spring! It was so much fun gathering the band and team one last time before baby comes in September. We joined a beautiful choir and string section in Brandon, FL for a concert reminiscent of our Carnegie Hall show last year, and really it was just perfect. Here are our sad faces because we're so sad it's over (Left to right is Cornelius (bass), Travis (drums), Brandon (guitar and spaceship sounds), me, Nathan (lead guitar), Danny (lights), Joe (sound), Dave (road manager extraordinaire); Luke (keys) and Samantha (BGVs) are sadly missing from this picture):

We also found out a couple of weeks ago that we're having another BOY!!! Ahhh, it so exciting to be adding to our family, and I know that Isaac and this little guy are going to be best buds. Can't wait.

School is almost out, which means pool time, beach time, popsicles every day, and just all the glorious things that come with no schedules! I haven't had a summer this free in years, and we plan to soak it up. Yes and amen! 

Having time off the road means writing more songs, writing more blogs, cooking more meals, and diving into other passions (around all the pool/sprinkler/popsicle time). One of the things I'm super passionate about but haven't shared a ton about is essential oils. They have been so priceless in our lives. I can't tell you what a gift it is as a mom to have a way to support my kiddos naturally. They know what to do when they feel something is off--they pray first and then go straight to their oils! :)

I'm passionate about getting these little bottles of goodness into as many homes as possible because they have made such a difference for us. To support our bodies, clean our homes, pamper our skin, and cook our food all without the use of "yuckies?" Sign me up. Hopefully you're already following me on instagram at @francescamusic, but I've also created a new account for all things wellness, oils, and everyday mom life, and I'd love for you to follow me there too! It's @honeycomb_essentials, and I promise we're going to have a LOT of fun!

So keep following me here, there, and everywhere, and I can't wait to see what God does this summer!


P.S. Do you use essential oils already? What are your faves?

P.P.S. Want to learn more about oils and about the amazing team I get to be a part of that you can join?? Leave your email in the comments, or DM me on instagram, and I'll send some info your way! You can also click here to sign up. xo!

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Life in the Rearview

Nashville, TN.

Hey friends!  It’s been long time since we’ve caught up.  How are you?  2016 was a nice, slow year for our family.  I only played about 35 shows, we welcomed Isaac James to our family, we brought home a puppy named Sadie, and my husband discovered a love for cooking (score)!  I also guested on a live record with Bethel Music (releases in April), toured with Bethel in October, won some crazy fun awards, dipped my toe in the designing world with my Fashionable collab, played Carnegie Hall, started conversations about finally writing a book (a lifelong dream), and watched my kindergartner play basketball, learn to write in cursive, and lose his first two teeth.  It’s been lovely.It looks like 2017 is shaping up to be nice and chill too, if you count a 6-week west coast tour and making a new album chill.  :)

I’m excited for all the Lord is doing in our family, in our hearts, and in the new music that’s being written for album #4.  I believe much good is to come this year, and I’m thanking the Lord for it in advance!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, and I promise to be back soon.


Monday, November 7, 2016

My "Alem Utility/Mom Bag" from FASHIONABLE is finally here!!!

Redding, CA

It’s finally here!  I’ve been so excited about this project, and today is finally the day I can share it with all of you! 

Last winter, I was very pregnant with Isaac and searching for the perfect diaper bag.  I tell you—it didn’t exist.  I wanted something made of leather but not too structured or “glam.”  It needed to have pockets and be big enough to fit all the things, not just a large tote.  I sat in the car thinking about what it could look like and who I could partner with, and it hit me!  I’ve been a fan of FASHIONABLE from the start, so I called up my friend Marisa (marketing director at FASHIONABLE) and pitched her the idea of a bag specifically designed for moms that could double as a utility bag for everyone else.  We sat in design meetings comparing the size of our baby bumps and together came up with what I think is one of the most beautiful, versatile bags I’ve ever carried. 

I really wanted the bag to work for my everyday life through multiple seasons.  So many diaper bags are so “season-specific.”  If you don’t have an infant, the features of the bag won’t work for you.  What about moms of toddlers?  Or moms of older kids?  Hey, what about moms who work or go to school and don’t want to have multiple bags they’re constantly switching between?  I can take this bag to the park filled with snacks and diapers in the morning and throw in my laptop and water bottle for an afternoon songwriting session or meeting at the label.  It works beautifully in both settings.  Some things that were important to me in the design were: it had to work as a cross body AND a shoulder bag, had to have a zipper, absolutely had to have an outside pocket for my phone and keys, and it needed to be lined with multiple pockets.  Y’all, it does not disappoint!  It’s absolutely beautiful, and I feel so put together carrying it.  My friends who aren’t moms (or have older kids) all want one, and I think you may too! :) 

Beyond all of those things, I love that this bag provided a job of dignity and sustainable income for a mom across the ocean.  Our beautiful bag is named after Alem, one of the heroic women FASHIONABLE works with, who is now ABLE to have a better life for her family because of her job.  I hope you love it as much as I do!!


P.S. Purchase the Alem Utility Bag here!


Thursday, August 11, 2016

My Favorite Workout

Y'all. I’ve been MIA for waaaaay too long, but having a baby and taking 6 months off for the first time in my life is a pretty good excuse, right? Isaac is 4.5 months and the sweetest addition to our family. His birth was beautiful, and I'll be posting about it soon (Lord willing)! :)

I’m really hoping to get into a regular posting schedule, and I couldn’t be more excited to kick things off with a feature on one of the most inspiring women I know. Suzanne Bowen is not only a fitness icon, she’s a wife, homeschool mama, business owner, and Jesus-follower who makes getting in shape something to look forward to. Seriously. I’ve never been more excited to work out than I am with Barre Amped. I was a ballet dancer through childhood and planned to make it my career until some back issues turned me in another direction. Finding a workout that makes me feel like I could still kill a ballet class makes me infinitely happy! 

But its better to let her explain who she is and what she does, so on to the interview! 

1) How did you come to own your own business?

After I left New York City as a Lotte Berk Method Instructor, the United States’ original barre technique, I moved to Franklin, TN, to be near family, and I opened a small fitness studio with the help of my parents. I was in my late 20s. Then, I met my now husband, Levi, through one of my clients, and we hit it off immediately. In order to get married and travel overseas with him, I had to close my fledgling first studio. After traveling, we moved back to Franklin, had our first baby, and then, when she was almost a year old, I got back into exercise via teaching classes and starring in an Abs DVD called 10 Minute Solution: Blast off Belly Fat.

I was teaching exercise in a local gym and all of my barre training influenced my workouts. I started out with four women and by the end of my “boot camp” I had a packed out class of 30 women. They would do barre exercises holding on to spin bikes! They were hooked. No one at that time, outside major mass markets, knew what barre workouts were. Now you see barre workouts are the trendiest, and most effective workouts for women because they are feminine, yet challenging. They are very good for helping counter stress levels. And they work!

After a few years, I decided it was time to open my own studio in Franklin. Within a year, I had women from all over the country writing to ask if I would train them to teach barre. I started our certification business which took off like wildfire. I also started streaming barre workouts through my website. Six years later, I am streaming barre in my private studio and our teacher training business has not slowed down. My husband left his construction business because we are full time in exercise. I have a great partner in him. We have a blast!

2) What is the most rewarding part of what you do?

The most rewarding part of what I do is speaking into women’s lives in terms of self image. I walked out of tremendous self hatred and self doubt having huge issues with body image all through my 20s. It became apparent to me when I was in NYC teaching women of all ages, ethnicities, and backgrounds that this epidemic of self hatred was very real. I knew I wasn’t alone. I would listen to women after class tell me how much they hated their thighs or how much they wished they could look like me (or not like themselves) and I woke up to the very real war that is waged on women as they look in the mirror. At the time I was teaching barre classes in NYC, I wasn’t a believer. It was through that war with myself and the depression I felt over my shortcomings and all that I wasn’t, that one day, I cried out to Jesus that if He were real, to please help me. I felt instant peace and warmth come over me. It was through that self hatred that I met the God of my dreams, the Father I always hoped was there but thought was too good to be true. And for that struggle, I am grateful because it led me to Jesus, my savior who gave me peace which passes all understanding. 

Though my freedom from body image distortion wasn’t immediately healed and I had to (and still have to) walk away from the lies of perfectionism and the traps of the enemy, I am definitely much better. I have embraced aging and I have hope that there is more to my life and my existence than my outer shell. I like to say, “I am much more than my thighs!” 

Because of my very real struggle with severe dysmorphia in my past, I am able to speak truth to the women who work out with me. Through my workouts, I get to remind them of their worth. I get emails often from women thanking me for helping them stop believing the lies that they must look a certain way in order to be loved, valued, or accepted. And though I work very hard and often need a break, those emails keep me going because women need to know they are more than what the fitness, fashion, and beauty industries sell them.

I also have to say that I love teaching exercise with good form and I love hearing testimonials of fat loss, flexibility gains, de-stressing, increased strength, and feelings of general well being. When you realize that exercise is not punishment and doesn’t have to include running bleachers or flipping tires, but can instead be life giving and energizing and enjoyable, it’s a win for me! We need to enjoy what we do and it needs to be sustainable. To hear people love my workouts is hugely rewarding!

3) How do you walk the tightrope that is working motherhood? I try to avoid the word balance, because it’s never perfectly balanced for me, and I know that questions can feel flippant sometimes. But how does it work for your family on a typical day?

You are so right in avoiding the word balance! Sometimes it feels like survival! Haha! We homeschool our children, and in Florida where we live, there are yearly evaluations and tremendous pressure. We get up in the mornings and after breakfast we do our school. Then, Levi and I come up to the office and work for the afternoon. At night we always try to have dinner together. It’s really that simple. We have a rebounder in our living room that the kids jump on and we often walk, hike, bike, and stay active. But I admit, I do not have it altogether and I have a legal pad with me to make to do lists all the time! It can be so stressful sometimes because the children are literally with us nonstop. I try my best to live in the moment, though, because I see how fast time really does fly. 

4) What is your advice to women who want to get in shape but are afraid of getting over the hurdle of just starting?

Start walking if the weather is right. Just put on some shoes and walk outside if you can. Notice how walking makes you feel better. It doesn’t have to be far. Then, think about what kind of exercise you might like. Is it dancing? Could it be a Zumba class or DVD? Do you like strength training? Find a good strength class that has beginner options. Or are you curious about barre? Women love it! They feel challenged but feminine and the results are generally amazing. 

Sign up for classes or streaming memberships that show a love for “real women” and who have group support (online or in person). For my website, we have a Facebook group for streaming members from around the world and we always have challenges going on. Women get to check in with accomplishments, questions, and concerns. There is always someone there to listen, offer advice, or celebrate. It’s been amazing to see such a virtual sisterhood! Group classes or private group training can be amazing for helping women feel secure and part of a team while offering hands on corrections to make sure they are getting the most out of the workouts. And, for those who have the means, personal training is great. However, I am a huge fan of groups because of the support and cost effectiveness. 

Always choose something that is non-punishing and that you look forward to. We have got to understand that exercise is a gift and not something to dread. We need to be kind to our bodies so that we can age well, feel alive, and feel youthful, no matter our age.

5) What is the SBF (or Suzanne Bowen Fitness) theme song? 

The song I have posted in my group more than any other one is Free to Be Me by FB! My favorite line is “Perfection is my enemy.” It’s really great to see so many women from different areas trending on the identity track. God created us uniquely and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. There is no one “youer than you” and Free to Be Me is my favorite anthem for my SBFFs. :) ***I promise I didn't pay her to say that! :)***

Wow. One of my favorite things she said was, "always choose something that is non-punishing and that you look forward to. We have got to understand that exercise is a gift and not something to dread. We need to be kind to our bodies so that we can age well, feel alive, and feel youthful, no matter our age." This is exactly how I feel about Suzanne's workouts.  They make me feel good about myself, not like I'm striving to have the "perfect body" (which doesn't exist, by the way) or fit into a particular swimsuit. She's a real women who cares for her body and works hard to make it strong, and she makes me feel like I can too. 

Are you interested in trying her workouts? There are several options: DVDs, local classes, or (my favorite option as someone who is on the road) streaming. All are available here. You can get 24/7 streaming access to over 200 workouts for FREE for two days (no credit card required), and you'll also get access to custom workout plans, an online community of support, and the SBF Food Guide which includes recipes, shopping lists, food journal and more!  Let me know in the comments if you try it and what you think! 

Here is where you can find Suzanne on the web:



Wednesday, December 9, 2015

I'm Baaaack! (And a Gift Guide for the Kids)

Nashville, TN. 

I'm back, y'all! It's been quite a year, and I can't believe it's already December. Phew! Just when I started to feel like a human again after a summer of morning sickness, our fall tour started, and I haven't really had a chance to come up for air yet. We're in the middle of our Christmas tour now, and I'm taking my last day at home until the 21st to work on some *online* Christmas shopping. I thought it would be fun to do a little post on some of the things we might be getting our kids this year in case you're stumped.

Last year we adopted the "Want, Need, Wear, Read" philosophy of gift-giving for our kids, and it was such a success! We really want them to have a healthy view of Christmas, and part of that is not going overboard with gifts, and focusing on others. We are doing a toy purge when I get home from tour to give to some local charities, and each of the kids packed a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child this year for the first time. They LOVED it, and I loved seeing their eyes light up at the joy of giving. 

Here are ten gift ideas for the kiddos on your list this Christmas:

Bata & Batuta is Filipino for "cute little kid." How sweet is that? This husband and wife-run company has a mission to share the power of play with children in need. They focus on orphans, kids who are sick, and those living in poverty. So for every toy purchased, one is donated to a child in need. How sweet is that? I love the idea that my dollar is not just going toward bringing my child joy, but that it's also helping a child somewhere in the world who needs to feel loved. 

My son has been able to spell his name for a long time. He's convinced that "E" is his letter. So when I saw this brilliant personalized book, I knew it was the perfect gift for his "Read" present. Basically, you choose whether the book is for a boy or girl and then enter your child's name. A one of a kind book is instantly created for your child. The premise is that your child has lost his or her name and has to go on a magical adventure to find it, along the way meeting creatures who give them letters. At the very end of the book, they find their name. You can preview the whole thing before buying, and it's just pretty darn cute. I can't wait to read this with Eli this year! 

3) Wood Fox Rattle, $14

These organic, eco-friendly rattles would make sweet gifts for the babies in your life. With a nice smooth surface, soothing sound, and a fun shape perfect for teething, I think baby boy Goodwin is going to need one when he makes his appearance in March! Each rattle is made in Seattle by Manzanita Kids and is finished with a homemade organic jojoba oil/beeswax polish. 

I grew up listening to these on cassette, and they hold the most wonderful memories for me. I bought my kids the CD about God's Love last year, and they've memorized most of the Scripture songs. I will hear my 3-year-old walking around the house singing, "this is love, not that we loved God, but He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins!" No sweeter way to get the Word of God into our kids hearts than through music. I plan to buy this whole set as a family gift under the tree this year. 

Eli is learning to read and has really taken an interest in sounding out words and rhyming.  I can't wait to see what he learns while playing with this wonderful little set! 

6) Wooden Tea Set, $47.50

We're not getting this for Audrey this year because she has plenty of tea set items, but she loves tea parties so much, and this is such a fantastic set for the little girl in your life! It's got so many great pieces and is made by a small etsy artisan. Perfect for pretend play and hours of tea parties!

You all know I love Wildly Co, so I couldn't leave them off the list for this Christmas! I love that this hoodie is cozy, neutral, and soft, and like all Wildly's clothes, it's ethically made in the USA. It also comes in navy and would look equally cute on a girl as a boy. Kids don't need a hoodie? How about this adorable Mint Swing Top or Charcoal Sport Pants

Waldorf dolls are a huge investment and one I'm not sure I'm ready to make yet for my 3-year-old, but with a new baby coming in March, it might be something we get her for her birthday in July. The beauty of the weighted doll is that its made with organic millet (a grain), lavender, and wool--all natural materials that are easy to care for and good for the environment. The concept of the weighted doll is that it feels life-like in your arms, and it teaches little ones how to correctly hold a baby. Pair that with scent of lavender mixed in with the millet and the soft velour outfit, and you've got yourself one cuddly baby doll that can also be passed down as an heirloom. Love it!

9) Wikki Stix, $22.15

These are addictively fun to play and craft with.  My kids love them and yours will too! There are smaller sets for less money if you don't want to commit to such huge box.

10) Alphabet Puzzle, $19.50 

I love this puzzle. It's all wooden and the colors are adorable. It's on Audrey's wish list this year!

Have a beautiful Christmas, and enjoy the season with the ones you love!

- Francesca