A Healthier Option

Everywhere you look in the grocery stores are items that SAY they are better for you… and it’s not hard to look on the Internet to find countless articles telling you all the million ways that those items are NOT REALLY better for you.  How you eat it is up to you.  It’s up to your personal health issues, and up to your finances.  And honestly, you could be on your deathbed and super wealthy and choose to eat crap.  Because if that’s what you want, then it’s not crap at all.  What we chose to put into our bodies is what we chose to put into our bodies. So many moms today argue and bicker about what is healthy and what’s not for their kids.  They criticize other moms for the choices they make for their families, when they’ve never walked for even a second in her shoes.  Personally, I find myself a little offended when folks tell me what I should and shouldn’t eat, and what I should and shouldn’t feed to my kids, and it puts me on the defense…

But then I sit here and I think about my health and the problems our family faces (not all in one body, thankfully!): Rheumatoid Arthritis, Migraines, Lactose Intolerance, Skin Allergies, Asthma, and Seasonal Allergies.  Mostly all in relation directly to inflammation of some sort. And isn’t this becoming more and more common in America today?  The more processed and chemical based that our foods become, the more our health declines.  Granted, some of our issues have been around for years and are only just now being properly diagnosed.  But it is a proven fact that Autism is on the rise.  Heart disease is claiming lives left and right.  And why?  Because of what we put into our bodies.

Back when I was first diagnosed with RA, I read a book called The Inflammation Syndrome: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis, Diabetes, Allergies, and Asthma by Jack Challam (that’s an affiliate link -thank you for participating!), and my eyes were opened for the first time to all of the junk I was putting in my body.  I started cutting out night shade veggies (which I need to do again because for folks with RA, night shades are a PROVEN problem – for a complete list of night shade veggies, and to learn more about them, click here.), and I started cutting gluten, but didn’t dive wholeheartedly into either one.  Because, you see, I love my night shades.  I really do.  We eat bell peppers around here practically every day.  And, well, gluten and I have a not-so-secret love affair going.  I’m in love with breads and pastas.  Bring on the carbs!

However, after having our kids and looking to set forth a healthier living diet plan, I decided to dive into gluten free living – for myself, not for the whole family.  And man!  Is it ever expensive!?!?!  And I also noticed that while it’s super easy to find a bazillion gluten free desserts that are really tasty, I started eating more desserts than I was eating before, and I didn’t lose any weight at all… didn’t ease any pressure on my joints at all either… because I was just filling my body with a different kind of crap.  Gluten free crap.

So this week I decided to dive wholeheartedly into a new kind of living.  Yup, after just a couple weeks I gave up the gluten free “fad.” (I call it a fad because that’s what it was for me – I am not saying that all people who live a gluten free lifestyle are living a fad!  Don’t read that wrong!)  But what I’ve started this week is far from a fad.  It truly will be a lifestyle change.  And here’s why.  Because I’m going to focus on putting REAL FOOD into our bodies.  I’ve heard of the Real Food revolution in the past and honestly thought we were living that.  Until I started reading labels.  Seriously ya’ll, it’s hard to find time to read labels when you’re in the grocery store with a toddler and a newborn – I KNOW – but do it.  Just once.  Or, for an even more eye opening time, during nap one day, take two minutes and go pick up 5-10 items in your pantry and read the labels on the things that you eat most often.  Stop reading that item when you get to the first word in the ingredients that you don’t know how to pronounce.  Yeah… I’m good at sounding stuff out… but man.  That was an eye opener.  Also look to see how many fillers like various types of grain are in the ingredients list of random items that you didn’t even realize grain was in.  Also an eye opener.

It’s cheaper to grow modified corn.  It’s cheaper to process modified corn.  It’s cheaper to buy products with modified corn.  And that’s what I’ve been doing.  But that is changing.  If we consume corn, I want it to be the yummy, sweet, juicy kind that I cut right off the cob myself in the summertime after cooking it on the grill.  I don’t want to read about it on the label of some food in my pantry.  But that’s MY CHOICE.  It doesn’t have to be yours.

If it has more than 5 ingredients total, it might not be a good choice for my family.  If it has ingredients that I can’t read, then it might not be a good choice for my family.  If it has GMO corn in it, it might not be a good choice for my family.  OR, it might be one of those three or all of the above, and I might buy it anyway because I feel it’s justified.  And that’s ok – because it’s my choice.  It’s your choice.  But on a whole, I’m stepping out and making a plan to feed my family REAL FOOD.  I want to know what’s in it.  When I started making that choice and reading labels, I was amazed how many things that were real foods that were already naturally gluten free for me, and also dairy free for the kids.

Know the bodies in your family.  Know what nutrients will help and what will hurt, and what things might affect the medical conditions that you’re dealing with on a daily basis.  Be educated.  Take the time to do the research.  And then make an educated choice.  No-one should be telling you not to buy Twinkies and ice cream.  (I personally love Twinkies and ice cream… even together in the same bowl!)  No-one but you can make the choice for or against ANY food.

But, if you’d like to slowly start looking for healthier options, try reading the ingredients on your breakfast, and start there.  I found this blog post with information about making my own oatmeal packets.  I read it, and decided what things I wanted to put in and leave out, and had a fabulous breakfast this morning that I feel satisfied with, and enjoyed.  I did mine different than hers, but her information had me educated at the store and able to make a good decision for my own needs based on my own budget, and I definitely look forward to breakfast for lots of mornings to come!  Here’s what I put in mine, in case you want an additional set of ideas on top of what she has:

homemade oatmeal packets

 

Brown sugar (abt 2 Tbsp), Cinnamon (abt a tsp), Kosher salt (a pinch), Old Fashioned Gluten Free Rolled Oats (1/3 cup), Natural Coconut Flakes (abt 1 1/2 Tbsp), dried blueberries (abt 1 tsp), and a dried cranberry/pomegranate mix (abt 1 tsp).  Then to cook, I dumped all that in a bowl, drizzled raw local honey on top, added 1 cup of coconut milk and stirred.  I cooked that in the microwave for 3 minutes, stirred, and then let it stand for about 5 minutes (maybe longer b/c I went and threw on some clothes and put my hair up).  It turned out AWESOME.  The perfect hot breakfast for me.  Might not be perfect for you, but I hope that IF YOU WANT to find healthier options, that you will search for them, and that you will find success.

Real Life

I sometimes feel like I’m the only person feeling what I’m feeling, but I KNOW that’s not true, so I plan to make this post “sticky” – so that this is the post that someone reads first when stumbling across my blog.  Because I want you to know what real life is like around here.  I have said before that Pinterest is for people with lots of time, an only child (or no kids at all), and a live-in maid.  I still believe that.  Because many of the picture perfect projects, hairstyles, and fashion ideas on Pinterest are impossible for someone like me.  And while I know that I am a unique individual, and I KNOW noone has my exact set of circumstances, I know moms.  Lots of them.  And I see the competitions and the pain, and I KNOW the feeling.  Ya know, that one that says “If I don’t do what that mom is doing with her kids, with my own, then I’m not as good as she is.”

THAT COULDN’T BE A BIGGER LIE.

I read this post from The Artful Parent a while back, and it made me really sit up and take notice.  We all (even our idols) have someone that we idolize and want to be just like.  I would love to be like Jean Van’t Hul.  I would love to be willing to let my kids get paint all over themselves to end up with a fabulous piece of art when they are done.  I was even so proud of myself when I bought sponges and cut them into shapes for Becca to stamp on paper with finger paints.  Have we done it yet?  No.  BUT THAT’S OK.

You see, you might look through my blog, or any other mom’s blog, and see things that you want to do with your kids, that you can easily do in just a couple minutes and work great for your family.  Or, you might look through with different eyes and see all the things you AREN’T doing with your kids, and begin to feel guilty.  PLEASE DON’T!

As moms, we have these things called “Mommy Wars” – Do you cloth diaper or use disposable?  Do you breast feed or formula feed?  Pacifier or not?  Circumcision or not?  Baby wearing or stroller using?  Regular baby food or homemade?  Fast food or organic at home?  Homeschool or public school?  Private Christian or Montessori?  TV or not?  Sleepovers with friends or not?  Homework before play or after?  All these issues are put in front of us on an almost DAILY basis, and we are often made to feel that OUR WAY is WRONG.  Because who ever we are talking to or reading about firmly believes that they are right.  AND THEY ARE.

What?  They are right?  YES.  They are perfectly right.  They know exactly what their family needs.  The problem comes in because our mind then wants to take that information and say that we are wrong.  And thats where you ARE wrong.  Because they ARE right.  They know what’s right for them, but you are wrong to thing that what you do in your home is wrong.  Lots of negatives.  Lots of positives.  Let me break it down more clearly for you:

Your real life is your real life.
And it’s exactly what
your family needs it to be.

Their real life is their real life.
And it’s exactly what
their family needs it to be.

You are you, she is she.  There’s no way around it.  Somehow we as moms have to break out of this lock that seems to be on our brains that says that we are not “good enough” if we don’t do what others do.  Honey, noone else has your kids, your husband, your house, your personality, your physical abilities or lack their of.  Noone else is you.  SO STOP COMPARING YOURSELF!

I started recording the activities I’m doing with Becca on more of a regular basis because I’m prone to forget, and I don’t want to.  I want to remember her cute little replies, the fun stuff we’ve done, and all that, so I can share it with her when she’s older.  And so that I can replicate some of these fun things when little brother comes along in a couple years.  I DO NOT BLOG TO UPSET ANYONE.  I DO NOT BLOG TO PUT ANYONE DOWN.  I DO NOT BLOG TO MAKE YOU FEEL BAD ABOUT YOURSELF OR YOUR PARENTING ABILITIES.

And now, here’s the hardest truth of all – I DO NOT BLOG TO PUT MYSELF DOWN WHEN I HAVE A BAD DAY.  Because you see, despite all the other moms out there that can make us feel bad about ourselves, it’s our own mind that is our worst enemy.  Days like I had yesterday are miserable because my own mind plays tricks on me and tells me I can do better and that I’m being a bad mom – I’m not living up to the standards I have set for myself.

But I’ve never lived yesterday before, and I’ll never live it again (THANK GOD!).  I won’t ever wake up with exactly the same issues on my mind, or have exactly the same tasks to complete.  The kids will never be that exact age again.  Because yesterday was a singular event.  And the fact that it didn’t go real well… well, that’s just life.  It’s ok that we were way off of our nap schedule.  It’s ok that I felt like crap.  It’s ok that I forgot several things I was supposed to do until well after they should have been done.  It’s ok that Becca didn’t have a fun new activity to do after nap.  It’s ok that the only pictures I took of the kids were at the church yesterday morning while we did stuff for MOPS.  It’s ok that Grayson’s morning nap was finally taken when he simply couldn’t stay awake anymore and fell asleep in the bouncy chair.

IMG_8366Seriously… isn’t he adorable?

It’s ok that I fed Becca a crappy meal from Whataburger in the car because our timing was so far off that anything else just wasn’t gonna happen.  It’s ok that when I went to bed the sink was still full of dishes because after I unloaded and loaded the dishwasher I just couldn’t stand and hand wash the leftovers.  It’s ok that there’s laundry piled high in our room because I just couldn’t bear to stand and hang it up before bed.

Because despite all the negative feelings I had TOWARD MYSELF because my brain was telling me I wasn’t living up to my standards, GOOD THINGS DID HAPPEN YESTERDAY!  The MOPS closet at the church is cleaned out and organized, and moms were able to do that because I watched their children.  Becca was sweet and caring and played well with her friends.  We snuggled under the blanket on the couch and watched Super Why together after nap time, and I was once again amazed at how her reading abilities are growing.  And yesterday’s biggest victory – she went pee pee in the potty at bedtime!!

Ladies, Mommies, PLEASE.  Please don’t read the posts on this blog and feel guilty.  Please know that I’m happy to share these ideas with folks who have the desire and ability to make them work in their own families, but these are NOT meant to hurt anyone.  They are not meant to make you put yourself down.  Heck, I know how hard life is.  I have Rheumatoid Arthritis.  I have two kids.  I work from home several hours a day.  I have more plates spinning than should even be possible – causing my head to spin on quite a regular basis.  I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO BE BUSY.  I KNOW WHAT IT IS TO FEEL CRAZY.  Please know that real life DOES happen around here.  We do not live in a bubble of perfection.  We are FAR from it.

You are not alone.  You are not an island.  If the activities here are helpful, then read them.  If they aren’t, then please, don’t compare yourself to me.  You aren’t me, and God didn’t make you to be.  Find your happy place.  Find the place where you are content to be the woman and wife and mommy that God created YOU to be.  Because you are the only one He created to be exactly like you.  And you are the only one that can be you to your husband and your kids.  Be the YOU that God created you to be, and be PROUD of that person!

The Truth That (almost) No One Is Telling You About Sea World

I stood there today, with tears in my eyes.  The injustice and what’s being done about it was just too much emotion for this mom of two to handle.  What I was witnessing was just shocking.  A killer whale being abused?  A dolphin being mishandled?  Nope.  I saw kids.  And adults.  Unable to walk, some even unable to move their arms and legs at all – skiing.  On the water.  It wasn’t some crazy stunt I witnessed out on the lake at Sea World today.  No, it was something more amazing than that.  And it was something that very few people will take the time to write a blog about.  And that’s why I AM taking the time.  Because the world needs to know THIS truth – of the amazing things that are being done for paraplegics and quadriplegics here in San Antonio.  The kids and I watched as boat after boat went out with three skiers safely attached behind – two highly trained, experienced performers, and one dreamer finally seeing their dream become a reality.

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I even got to speak to the mother of one of the skiers.  He’s 35 and has not walked in his life.  Ever.  Bound to a wheelchair, she said he lives for this day – and has participated in the program the past six years!  Six years!  How did I not know this program existed?!?!  She said that there will be six different sessions this week – two specifically held for military wounded warriors.  It’s so amazing that folks can exhaust so much energy talking about horrible injustices to animals that were done twenty and thirty years ago, but noone is talking about the injustice so many humans are born with (or are caused in war-time situations or other catastrophic events)… and what Sea World is doing to make their lives a little more enjoyable!  I don’t care what anyone says, I am a PROUD annual pass holder to Sea World San Antonio, and will continue to be for many years to come.

Independence Day

Yesterday was a day from hell. In epic proportions. Altho I know, looking back, that it could have gone MUCH worse. So I’m thankful it didn’t. Very thankful. God does know my limits.

The day began waking up as usual, to Lil Bear making noises in his crib, only to realize he’d slept an hour later than I planned… And he was supposed to be my alarm clock. Lesson learned: Babies don’t make good alarm clocks. (Ya’ll will note that I’ve received this lesson before -recently- but apparently, I’m a slow learner.)

Got up and dressed and packed before he was in a full frenzy, so that was nice. Proceeded to feed him and the normal 25-min feed took over 45. Lesson learned: It’s time to switch to medium flow nipples.

Ran around like a crazy person getting everything ready to go, got Becca up and ready and then continued to run around like a crazy person getting everything ready, around a toddler who woke up on the wrong side of the bed. Lesson learned: Don’t get Becca out of her room until the literal last minute and take her straight to the car.

Got to the parade and found a FABULOUS parking spot (kudos to Cody for suggesting we go way early!) and then found a FABULOUS spot to sit in the shade. Great tree, lots of space for Boo to run and play in the grass…. Except she just wanted to sit in Mommy’s lap. While I’m trying to feed brother. Which we didn’t figure out until she had already been misbehaving for 25+ minutes and was almost to a boiling point. I’m tellin you what- jealousy is an ugly thing, ya’ll. she proceeded to fuss and just generally be ugly and get in trouble until the parade was over – an hour and a half later. Lesson learned: When heading to a parade with two small children, bring supplies not only for the baby to have a nine-wipe blow-out emergency (thankfully I didn’t learn this lesson the hard way- I was prepared), but also brace yourself and gear up by taking an extra dose of patience before you get out of the car. You’re gonna need it.

Went home, got the dogs, and hit the road. Becca slept for a while- until right before we pulled in at Sonic abt 20 mins down the road. Of course their credit card machine was down, and they were the only thing there we wanted, with no other options along the way (seriously ya’ll- why are there ZERO eating establishments along highway 90/10 in San Antonio except right by Lackland/Kelly?). So we went to a gas station and Cody went in and got cash so we could eat Sonic. The whole time Lil Bear is fussing and Boo is saying “I hungry” and “Go see Mamie Pappy now please Mommy.” (At least she said please, right?) By the time we got back to Sonic, ordered, and our food FINALLY came, the poor girl who brought it out started reading the list of what we ordered… Cody was done waiting. He just clipped out “yeah, all that stuff is ours. Thank you.” She looked somewhat offended that he didn’t let her read off the ginormous list of “mayo” this and “large tots” that. She has no idea at her all of maybe 19 years old what it’s like to be a parent of a toddler. Especially one who is hungry. Wait for a while, sister. Kids are gonna rock your little world. Lesson learned: Always have more than $20 cash on you so that your “I hungry” in the backseat can be fed on the first stop at Sonic instead of needing an atm. Or maybe buy hers with the cash you do have and THEN hit the atm…. Hmmm there’s a thought.

Fast forward to Bucees. We got gas and I took Becca in for a new diaper and she did super awesome. Held my hand the whole time and was really sweet. SCORE! Got her back in the car, took him in, changed him, and got back to the car to feed him but he was just too knocked out to eat. Stuck the bottle in the cooler and hit the road- this time with me driving so Cody could rest. Lesson learned: There is no such thing as REST on a road trip with two kids.

Unbeknownst (sp?) to us, just a few miles down the highway, a parking lot was waiting. A literal parking lot. Zero movement. And our first car wreck of the day. Thank the Lord it wasn’t us. (Ever- I’ll cut that suspense for ya right now. Saw four car wrecks, none of them us. Praise God! I told you- He knows my limits.) So as we’re discussing what to do, this bigger-than-life, I’m-a-Texas-boy, white truck drives past me on the shoulder. And proceeds to do what I had mostly jokingly mentioned as an option- goes up to the on-ramp and drives the wrong way down it to get off the highway. Cody scrambles on the map app, and the next thing you know, we are on a super-backwoods road in the middle of Texas just rollin’ along. Waiting to vome across some old dudes playin a banjo and a fiddle… Until we weren’t rolling. Bc the highway trafic had seeped over to the backroads… And after seeing three more wrecks, sitting in stop-n-go traffic for forever, and totally losing my patience with little Miss my-attention-span-is-shorter-than-my-age (seriously ya’ll… Less than two minutes before a meltdown wanting something new and we finally gave her my phone…until it got thrown in the floor…) we finally hit the road that would take us North, and we were able to fly. Until it started pouring BUCKETS of rain. It was what my Grandpa used to call a “toad strangler.” Lesson learned: if you think traffic will clear up, it probably will – just when the sky doesn’t.

At some point before we got on the road headed North, Lil Bear got a rumbly in his tumbly… And Cody began earning his “Dad of the Century” badge. Yup. Crawled over the center median to sit in the middle between the two kids to feed him. And entertain Becca. For what would turn into the next TWO hours. (Seriously ya’ll- the drive is normally abt 3.25 hrs… Took almost 5.5) Lesson learned: Never take a long road trip without Cody. Ever. Because noone else (including Mommy) is willing to crawl over the center console to sit with two unhappy children. Noone.

Dad. Of. The. Century!!!!

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About thirty minutes from his parent’s house, Becca finally gave in and fell asleep. Kinda wish we had driven around a little so she’d sleep longer, but once her lil friends arrived and she had two older boys to play with, she was super happy. Lesson learned (again): The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… This girl has a thing for older men. Must keep an eye on her in a few years!

All in all, the evening ended really well with lots of fun and fun with friends and lots of laughter. Becca went to bed super easy, and after I washed bottles and watched fireworks for a while, I went up to take a shower. That’s when everything negative from the day got washed away. And I didn’t even get a shower. Because Becca was awake. Sitting (or maybe even standing) in bed, talking to her brother. She was telling him about Super Why and super letters and said “Bubba, I can spell red. R-E- Red. Can you spell Blue? (Long long pause) Blue triangle. Shapes and colors Baby Grayson. We watch the shapes and colors movie on tv. Upstairs family room. Watch Lil Einsteins downstairs. Rocket red. I spell red with super letters. Red square. Do you want a square or a triangle? Triangle. Ok. Which you want a circle or a rectangle? Circle. Ok.” This conversation went on for a good ten minutes, and I’m not sure how long it had already been going on. (I spared you the typeos of actually how she pronounced all the words- Cody will thank me for that.) But that sweet time of her teaching her brother (she counted to 15 for him and back from 5, too, and mentioned Peg and the cat – from Peg plus Cat on PBS) made me smile and warmed my heart. It washed away the negative and just made me so happy. Yes, there were lots of lessons learned yesterday, but perhaps the greatest lesson was this: Our girl is independent. She is happiest on her own. And I’m independent too. I’m happiest when she is content so that we can co-exist without conflict. But sometimes we aren’t independent, and that’s ok too. Because just like I need her sweet snuggles, she needs mine. Sometimes it may mean I need to put brother down and just hold her like she never wanted to be held at his age.

This country reached its independence through bloodshed. And through teamwork. Hopefully by Cody and I working together as a team, we can avoid bloodshed from our kids in those moments where they decide to test us. And one day when they truly can be independent, I hope and pray they become a woman and man who love the Lord, and I also hope that they someday have a road trip with their kids that pushes them to their limit. For in our weakness, He is strong. I’m so thankful for that. And for the encouraging music that got me through the last 30-45 mins of the drive before Becca fell asleep. He knew what I needed. And He provided. So thankful that He always does. God bless our family, God bless Texas, and God bless America.

A sweet moment at the parade

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Word to the Wise…

1) To the International tourist from somewhere in SouthEast Asia: Welcome to San Antonio. Welcome to Sea World. There are two nice folks at EVERY security table who are gonna want to check your bags and look through every pocket to ensure the safety of all park guests. Since there are two at each table, that means there are TWO lines in front of each table. I’m not cutting in front of you. I’m standing BESIDE you- to follow the people in front of me who have one tiny bag and no kids. I feel sorry for the folks behind you and your entourage of five non-English speaking children and your wife and mother. Have fun today, but be prepared to stand in lines with people you don’t understand.

2) To the billboard designer of all those wonderful billboards going up around town reminding folks to not litter: Thank you for your interest in keeping our city clean. I appreciate that. However, as a member of the tiny minority population of white, non-Spanish-speaking folks here in San Antonio, Tejas, I find it odd that all of these billboards are in Spanish. Granted, the majority of our residents speak Spanish… But isn’t that somewhat racist to think that a Spanish speaking person is the only person who might litter? Hmmm Isn’t it also odd since the vast majority of the citizens of this country speak English? Hmmm…

3) To the mom of the cute little three year old boy in the blue swimsuit yesterday: Lighten up. You don’t need to apologize for every time your child gets close to mine while waiting to watch the Sesame Street show. They are kids. They dance around to music and occasionally bump into each other. So he bumped into me? Big deal. He looked at me, said “sawy” and moved over. You didn’t need to scream at him. I know being a mom isn’t easy. Perhaps you had a day yesterday with him like I’ve had with mine today. But lighten up. He was there to see Elmo and have fun, not to get screamed at. Focus on the positives, mommy. You have a handsome little boy who appologized on his own for bumping me. I’d say that even if you don’t feel like you are, you’re doing something right.

4) To the creators of Tommee Tippee anti-colic bottles: You are geniouses and I LOVE your product! Best bottles we’ve used. Hands down. Don’t need to say any more! You rock. Don’t change a THING.

5) To the little girl upstairs who figured out how to unlock her bedroom door: Mommy and Daddy love you very much and we want you to be safe. It’s important that you stay in your room 0when you’re supposed to be in your room so that we know where you are and that nothing can hurt you. Therefore Daddy turned your lock to the outside of the door. You may not be happy to have lost the freedom to open your door whenever you choose, but that’s how the cookie crumbles. You may have won the battle at naptime today, but we have now won the war. Goodnight sweet one. Rest easy knowing you are safe. We will.

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