Healthy Kid-Friendly Kitchen Swaps

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Do you guys struggle with feeding your kids healthy as much as I do??  With each new addition to our family, the stress level at mealtime increases and my desire to make a big elaborate meal (that 87% of my children won’t eat) DEcreases.  So instead, I stock my house full of healthy-ish packaged staples so that we always have something easy to fall back on.

I want to feed my kids healthy, whole foods but I also want to stay sane!!  And cooking everything from scratch is just not always an option.

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Below are a few of my favorite family-friendly healthy kitchen products and a few other tips to get whole foods on the table quickly.  I hope they help your mealtime rush!

  1.   Know what ingredients to watch out for.  It’s amazing what kind of preservatives and garbage you’ll find in packaged foods: from pancake and cake mixes to processed meats and cheeses.  It’d be impossible for me to list all the bad stuff out there but I generally go by the rule of trying to only purchase items with 5 ingredients or fewer.  We do our best to avoid hydrogenated fats and oils of any kind (did you know this is in Cool Whip??), High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS), monosodium glutamate (MSG…shockingly still in lots of stuff!), nitrites and nitrates (in bacon and lunch meats) and added sugar.  
  2. Pick 3-4 favorite from-scratch recipes for each meal and store them in a book.  Always keep your kitchen stocked with ingredients for these favorites.  Some of our breakfast favorites include this waffle recipethis GF muffin recipe and this granola recipe.  Cereal has been hard for us to kick (and we still sometimes splurge) but it’s really just processed wheat and sugar for breakfast and I know I feel like crap when I eat it!  Yes, it takes a little extra time to make meals from scratch.  Yes, sometimes I just wanna dump milk in a mix or pop in some frozen burritos…but with a little planning ahead, it’s easy to whip these out and store them for future meals (homemade pancakes, waffles, burritos and muffins all freeze wonderfully!).  And I rest easy at night knowing exactly what I’m putting in my little ones’ bodies.  

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3.  Stock your kitchen with whole-food staples like the ones in the picture above!  This post is not sponsored in any way, these are just some of my favorites:  

*pure maple syrup from Costco: yes it’s expensive, but I’ve taught my kids to only use a small amount and it’s better than the HFCS-laden big brand syrups
*unsweetened Greek yogurt: I realize that kids love yogurt but the stereotypical kid yogurts are chock full of dyes and sugars…some have more than 20 grams!!  We prefer to buy unsweetened and then add some berries or honey.
*natural peanut butter: most pb’s have hydrogenated oils added, simply so you don’t have to stir them.  No thanks!  It took us some experimenting to find a brand we love but this “Adams” brand from WinCo comes in creamy and crunchy and is delicious!
*whole wheat bread with no sugar: I buy ours at the Alpine Valley factory near our house but they sell this bread at our local Costco as well.  Once I tried to buy bread at our local big grocery store, and I couldn’t find a SINGLE loaf without added sugar in it plus a billion other ingredients.  Alpine Valley uses honey and only about 5 ingredients.  And it’s super good!
*Natural applesauce: my kids eat this stuff like candy!  We like this Motts variety with no added sugar.

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4.  Cut out most prepackaged snacks.  I feel a little bad for our babysitters when they peek in our pantry looking for a treat cause we ain’t got nothing: no chips, no cookies, no crackers, nada.  We weren’t always this way but over the years, I’ve figured out 2 things:
1.  my kids don’t eat real food if snacks are available.  Having fishy crackers or granola bars available is a surefire way to make sure my kids won’t eat lunch.
2.  When packaged snacks aren’t available, my kids will snack on fruits and veggies.  Seriously!  I always keep a bowl of fruit out on the counter and when they’re hungry between meals, that’s where I send them.  My kids also love carrots and cucumbers and sometimes baby bell peppers with hummus.

**If you gradually make it a goal to stop buying these, you’ll be surprised how quickly you don’t miss them!  And I’m always happy when my kids are hungry at mealtime.  If you have snacks that you yourself can’t live without, hide them!  Maybe you’ll break some bad habits too!

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5.  Take a little extra time at the store one day and find 4 or 5 prepackaged meals (or easy to prepare ideas) that fit the tips above.  I love to have a couple frozen options that I know are relatively healthy and will rescue me on nights when there’s no time for real dinner.   Some of my favorites are:

*frozen bean & cheese burritos from Costco with no preservatives (sorry, I can’t remember the brand!)
*using frozen pita bread to make quick pizzas with bottled sauce and mozzarella cheese
*leftover frozen waffles (just stick them in the toaster!)
*rotisserie chicken with yummy french bread and good cheeses
*blending up a quick soup with roasted veggies (butternut squash & cauliflower are favorites)
*whipping up some tacos with leftover meat and veggies.

It takes a little preparation and ingenuity but eating whole, unprocessed foods tastes so much better, it’s totally worth it!

Lest this post makes you all think we’re perfect over here…right now we’ve got Lucky Charms, nutrigrain bars and fruit snacks hanging around (what happens when dad does the shopping) but we try to make that kind of junk an occasional treat.  I use my best judgement when buying packaged foods for my family and just do the best that I can.  I think that we moms often get freaked about all the stuff we’re not doing right, that we forget about how far we’ve come!  The trick is just to improve, a little at a time.  Good luck, mamas!

 

Easy Date Night Look

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Does anyone else do regular date nights and look forward to them all week??  Homeschooling means that the the kids and I are all together, ALL THE TIME…which is both awesome and overwhelming sometimes.  A couple hours away with Luke doing something fun and adult-y is the BEST.

And getting dressed for date night is one of my favorite parts!  For me, a tried and true look is nicer jeans, heels or wedges and a fancy top.  It’s just dressy enough to go to a nice restaurant but casual enough to see a movie or go bowling, etc.

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Black jeans are always a good choice and I’m loving this ruffled top I found on sale!  It’s a silky polyester and I’m a huge fan of any feminine take on an animal print.  Other great options for this combo would be a peplum top, lace blouse or silky button down.  Pretty much any top & shoes I’d wear to church, paired with denim instead of a skirt.  Easy!

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Last of all, I almost always bring a purse too small to fit diapers – ha!  After all, I certainly can’t use a cute clutch with 7 children in tow…this white one is the perfect summer choice!

Do you have any other favorite date night outfit ideas??

Top (mine no longer available), other super cute dressy tops HERE and HERE

Black denim (or this premium denim with a great fit!)

Wedges

Clutch (mine not available online, Similar and HERE)

5 Minute Shower Workout

 

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In a perfect world, I’m up at 5am to go for a 12 mile run, after which I shower, do a full face of makeup, put on a super stylish outfit, read scriptures and pray and meditate and am ready and waiting in the kitchen at 7am with a freshly baked batch of healthy muffins for the kids and hubs.

In reality, most days my soggy-bottomed babes are in my bed at 8:30am, climbing all over my sleep-deprived face and prying my eyelids open asking if they can have leftover ice cream for breakfast.  I’m really hoping this scenario sounds familiar to at least some of you!

Because of this, I’ve taken to doing a couple quick exercises in the bathroom before I shower.  Sometimes it’s just a few push-ups on the floor and sometimes it’s a whole routine…but it makes me sweat and helps me feel a tiny bit better for staying up too late with Netflix and the sewing machine.  I hope this quick workout helps you get moving on those sorts of days!

**Note: Obviously these could be dangerous if done in a wet and slippery shower…make sure the floor is dry and do them before turning on the water! Can you imagine a worse nightmare than having a firetruck full of hot paramedics come rescue you naked in the shower because you slipped doing squats??  Ha!

Download and print the printable HERE!  Laminate it and stick it right in your shower to make things easy.

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Ladder Sit:  I love doing this exercise over my shower seat (I stop just short of sitting down completely) but you can do it even if your shower doesn’t have a seat…just try to get your quads almost at a 90 degree angle.  I aim for 8-10 reps.

  1.  Squat a few inches down from standing and hold for 3 seconds (1)
  2. Lower yourself another few inches and hold for 5 seconds (2)
  3. Lower your bottom again and hold for 7 seconds (3)
  4. Squat a bit more until you’re almost sitting on your seat and count to 9 seconds (4)
  5. Now repeat going back up!  Raise your bum back to step (3) and hold for 7 seconds, step (2) and hold for 5, then step (1) and hold for 3.

Stand up completely and repeat!

vertical-pushups-instructionsVertical Push-Ups:  The trick to making these work is the angle of your body compared to the wall.  You want to stand far enough back that gravity offers some resistance, but the first few reps should be fairly easy.  I stay on the balls of my feet, and hold my hands pressed together on the wall with my thumbs and index fingers forming a diamond shape. Aim for 10-15 reps.

1.  With arms held straight, gradually bend your elbows directly out to the side of you and lower your face to the wall.
2.  Get your face as close to the wall as you can, then push yourself back into an incline with your elbows straight.  Be sure to tighten your core and bum during this exercise.  You should feel it in your chest and triceps!

plie-releve-instructionsPlié Relevé: (pronounced pl-ee-ay rele-vay) This is one of my favorite fitness hacks from my ballet days.  Be sure to keep your toes pointed out to the sides, your bum tucked under and your spine tall and straight.  Aim for 15 reps.

1.  Standing with your feet about 10 inches apart, raise yourself up onto the balls of your feet, tightening all your leg and butt muscles.
2.  Squat down, with your heels still raised, as low as you can go.  I like to keep one hand on the shower door, but the less you can hold onto, the better the workout!
3.  Lower your heels (still in the squat position), and raise back up to a stand.
**You can actually perform this exercise in any order.  Sometimes I go right to step 3 from step 1 or do the plié before the relevé.  Your choice!

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Tricep Dips: This a pretty standard exercise that you’ve probably seen before.  My only caution is, you might want to skip it if you have weak wrists.  This can also be done on a (closed!) toilet.  Try to do 8-10 reps.

1.  With your back facing the shower seat, rest the palms of your hands on the edge of the seat and extend your legs out in front of you.  Be sure to keep your legs straight so that they don’t take up the slack when your arms get tired!
2.  Slowly lower your bottom down towards the floor, bending your elbows straight out behind you.  Try to get your triceps to form a 90 degree angle with your forearms.  Slowly lift yourself back up and repeat.
** If you haven’t done these in a while, they can be pretty difficult when first starting out!  But keep it up and you’ll get better really quickly!

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Leg Extensions: Another ballet-inspired move!  Keep your standing leg really firm and tight and your hips square, facing the wall.  Aim for 10-12 reps each leg.

1.  Facing the wall, and holding onto it for support, lift yourself onto the balls of your feet and extend one leg behind you, with your bum and hamstring flexed and your knee bent.
2.  Extend your bent leg farther back behind you until your knee is straight; hold for 3-5 seconds.
3.  Bring your leg back towards the wall in front of you, with the knee bent and facing forward.
4.  Repeat!  Don’t forget to switch to the other leg when you’re done.

That’s it!  If this was easy for you, then repeat it from the beginning and try to do the entire circuit 3 or 4 times.  Depending on how many children are banging down your bathroom door at this point, you may or may not make it.

Lastly, have a little fun and GET DOWN.  (Don’t forget to get the cheat sheet here!)

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Patriotic Tripoli Trousers (New Pattern!)

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Hey all!  I’m finally releasing my first women’s pattern to the public today! The Tripoli Trousers had previously only been available through the Sew What Club but today you can get your own copy!  Hurray!

I seriously love these pants sooooo much.  They are figure-hugging but flattering and best of all, they are seriously a breeze to make.  If you’ve never sewn pants before, don’t be afraid!  The trick is to make a muslin beforehand…if you can sew a facing and install buttonholes, you can make these!

I kept dreaming about a red pair after making my denim ones so when I found this lightweight stretch denim at Joann’s, it was like a match made in heaven.  Enjoy these billions of pictures of my butt, and get your copy of the pattern HERE!  It’ll be on sale for just $8 through Sunday night!

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All the sizing charts, materials list and other details are over on my craftsy page.  I hope you love this pattern as much as I do!

The VBAC: Making An Informed Decision

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Hey all!  I’m excited to be back with another post in my series on birth!  I’ve previously written about epidurals and c-sections and today, we’re talking about VBACS.

The term “VBAC” stands for “Vaginal Birth After Cesarean” and as the rate of c-sections continues to climb in many countries, so does talk of VBACS.  Moms everywhere are asking things like, “Is a VBAC safe?”  “Is it necessary or desirable?”  “Am I eligible to have a vaginal birth after a c-section?” and “What are the risks?”

I hope this post can answer some of those questions and inspire anyone with a history of a cesarean to become more informed and ready to face future births!

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As discussed in my C-section post, we know that cesareans are an unnatural birth outcome and present risks to both baby and mother.  That being said, just because you’ve had a c-section before (or even multiple!) does NOT mean you necessarily have to have a repeat surgery in the future.  I remember grieving after Liam’s birth because I knew I wanted a large family, yet I couldn’t envision putting my body through 4 or more cesareans.  Luckily, I found some great resources regarding VBACS and have been able to find supportive providers who allowed me to try for the births I had hoped for.  I’ve since delivered 6 babies vaginally after that initial cesarean with no complications.

If it is a safe option for you, there’s a good chance you can have one!

While my cesarean was unexpected, emergent and traumatic, I understand that not all c-sections end up that way.  Some are planned, peaceful and wonderful experiences.  If you were lucky enough to have one of these, you might be wondering why anyone would choose a vaginal birth over a planned cesarean.  Barring any life-threatening need for a cesarean , vaginal births are desirable for a number of reasons:

  1.  No surgical risks such as blood loss, side effects from anesthesia, adhesions (cases where the scar tissue attaches itself to other organs), blood clots, extended recovery time, etc.
  2. Less traumatic on mother and baby: c-section babies often have fluid in their lungs, trouble breathing and other complications.
  3. If labor is allowed to begin naturally at the end of pregnancy, there’s no risk of accidentally delivering a pre-term baby.  The bodies of both mother and baby work in tandem to signal when baby is ready to be born; it’s not usually wise to forcefully extract a baby before labor begins.
  4. Lower medical costs and shorter hospital stay!IMG_4069

On the flip-side, some of you with previously negative c-section experiences might be wondering why anyone would WANT to undergo another surgery.  Your doctor might choose to surgically deliver your baby if your first cesarean was due to (or your current pregnancy includes):

  1. Eclampsia
  2. Serious medical problems with mother or baby
  3. Poorly positioned placenta or unusual bleeding
  4. Any other life-threatening emergency

As discussed in the c-section post, some less clear-cut reasons for an additional surgery include a baby estimated to be larger than usual, a breech baby or a mother with a small pelvis.  These DO NOT always necessitate an automatic cesarean.  Do some research, get a second (or third!) opinion, pray/meditate, and follow your gut to make the best decision for you and your baby.

There can be risks associate with a VBAC as well.  The most dangerous (and one you’ll probably hear about most often) is the risk of uterine rupture.  The strain on a uterine scar during labor can sometimes cause it to reopen, and this usually has very serious results for mom and/or baby.  Luckily however, uterine rupture is very rare and occurs in right around .5% of laboring women who have had a previous cesearean (check out this great article for more details).

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There are TONS of amazing resources online regarding VBACS and how to decide whether one is right for you.  The VBAC Education Project is a great place to start.  The International Cesearean Awareness Network (ICAN) is another great place to learn more.  It’s difficult to even scratch the surface of all the great information these websites hold – be sure to check them out!

Lastly, I wanted to touch on the subject of homebirths and VBACS.  While there are still restrictions in many states regarding the ability to give birth at home after a cesarean, other states have now lifted bans and allow certified, licensed midwives to assist women attempting a VBAC in their home.  Three of my births occurred at home (all 3 technically considered VBACS) and I’m so grateful for these experiences!  I researched and prayed and listened and we decided that this choice would be the safest and the most peaceful for me and each of these babies.

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I believe that each woman is the most qualified to make these crucial decisions regarding the birth of her baby.  Regardless of what your birthing choices look like, it’s important to remember that you HAVE choices!  It can be both scary and empowering to face such important decisions, but they are the first of many you’ll need to make for your baby throughout his or her life.

You can do it!!

If you have any other questions about VBACS or want to hear more about my experiences, feel free to email me!  (whiskem {at} gmail {dot} com) I love talking birth and encouraging women to make informed decisions.

 

**Note: As I am not a medical professional, nothing in this post should be considered medical advice.  Please consult a qualified OB or midwife for more information about VBACS and to decide if it is the right option for you.

White Jeans + Loving your body

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I’m loving all the white trends popping up everywhere this summer! Dresses, flowy tops, skirts, denim, shoes…it’s all so light and airy-looking!  

Now, let’s just pretend for a second that there’s no logistical problem for mothers of small children to wear white (ha!) and instead, talk about the other issue many women have with wearing white: the fear of looking bigger.

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Facts are facts: darker colors are more slimming than whites or pastels.  But take it from a girl who has been self-conscious of her thighs for about 2 decades and hear me out…

 Nobody cares but you!!  

We all deal with our own personal body image demons and that’s a topic for a whole other post (or series!), but when it comes to fashion, I choose to embrace clothes that reflect my style, make me feel amazing and fit in with my lifestyle.  Unlike the insecure teenager I once was, I no longer have the time or inclination to sit around worrying about whether or not my butt looks big in the pants I’m in.

Don’t get me wrong – there are certain styles that don’t flatter me and I stay away from those simply because they don’t make me feel as comfortable as my favorites.  But when it comes to everything else, I’m jumping in with both feet.  

So, ladies…go get yourself something white and beautiful (arm yourself with an awesome stain remover) and flaunt your stuff!

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I’m loving these 3 looks with my favorite white jeans (I added the distressing) and have worn them with just about every top in my closet!  

So let’s hear it…what article of clothing could you see yourself rocking in white??

Infinite A-line Hack: Ruffled Top

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Is everyone ready for another Infinite A-line pattern hack?  I really do use this pattern as a base for any and all woven tops and dresses for my girls.  It makes things so easy!

This little ruffled number came about after I goofed up a romper I was working on, but I think I like how this turned out even better.

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First, I cut out the ruffled bodice (View D), sleeve ruffles and bodice lining.  I went with size 12 mo and even though this one fits pretty well, next time I’ll go up to 18 mo so that it’s a little easier to get on.

I sewed the bodice all together, following the instructions for View D through step 14 on page 14 (ending with the bodice roll technique).  I also added the keyhole opening as instructed on page 16.  Then I basted the raw edges of the bodice hem together and set it aside.

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Next, I measured the circumference of the bodice opening (mine was about 22″). For the waistband, I cut out a strip of contrasting fabric measuring the number I just measured (22″ for me) + 3/4″ for seam allowances x about 3″ wide.  So mine was 3″ x about 23″.  I stitched the short ends of the band together to create a big loop, pressed and finished the seam allowance, then stitched it to the bottom of the bodice, all the way around.

I finished up by creating the ruffle.  My ruffle piece was 4.5″ wide x about 50″ long.  If you cut your ruffle about double the length of your waistband, then that’ll give you a nice gather.  I sewed the short ends together again to form a loop, and then hemmed one long end.

The fabric I used was a slippery rayon, so I folded the raw edge under 1/8″ and stitched it down.  Then I folded it under another 1/8″ and stitched it down again.  This keeps unwieldy fabrics in place better than just pressing a double hem and trying to stitch it all in one go.

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Lastly, I gathered the top raw edge of the ruffle until it fit the circumference of the waistband, pinned it in place and basted it to the band.  Once I made sure all the gathers looked nice, I stitched the two together and serged the raw edges and one billion random threads coming out everywhere.  (WORST part of gathering, amiright?)

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And that’s it!  A super quick and simple hack.  Did I mention Mimi loves it?  She kept playing with the ruffle all day!  And her chubby little unsteady walk gives me all the heart eyes.  New walkers are the cutest when they’re off exploring their little world!

If you still don’t have a copy of the Infinite A-line Pattern, you can get it HERE. And if you want to see all the hacks I’ve created with it so far, click HERE!

(This floral fabric I bought from Indiesew ages ago, as well as the flowy coral from Joann Fabrics.  Making headway on that stash!)

 

A Child in Pain

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I want to tell you a story about our oldest child, Liam and an incredibly hard trial he had to go through.

Last year he began experiencing some terrible stomach pain (coupled with vomiting) for several months and even though now things are much, MUCH better, it took me a long time to gain some wisdom from that experience.  It was really painful to watch as his mom, but we’ve learned a lot from it and I’m finally ready to share it so that hopefully we might be able to help someone else!

Liam’s gastrointestinal troubles actually began years and years ago…probably as an infant.  He was the most colicky baby of all of our children, and it wasn’t just because he was our first and we didn’t know better!  Everyone mentioned how fussy he was and that it took a quasi-miracle to calm him down.

Fast forward several years and Liam began complaining of occasional stomach upset and sometimes vomiting for no apparent reason.  He’d just go into the bathroom, throw up and then come out and announce, “I just threw up, Mom!”  We attributed it to simply a sensitive stomach at the time and even though we brought it up to the pediatrician a couple times,  no doctor ever had any helpful suggestions and it wasn’t bad enough (yet) to warrant additional research.

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Then last year, right after Marilyn was born (about May 2015), Liam began experiencing INTENSE, daily abdominal pain.  It seemed to almost come out of nowhere and it was so bad, some days all he could do was roll up in a ball and lie on the couch.  It was heartbreaking for us as his parents to see him this way and nothing we did seemed to help.  We took him off dairy for a while, then gluten, then some other random stuff.  Then we started wondering if maybe it was stress, or constipation or anxiety over having a new baby in the house.

The climax came after a month or two when he was in so much pain one night he was literally screaming and begging us to help him.  It scared the living daylights out of me, so we took him to the nearest pediatric ER.  They poked and prodded and did scans; then declared him constipated and sent us home.  My momma heart just KNEW this couldn’t be it!

So then we began taking him to doctors.  First our regular pediatrician, then a gastroenterologist, then another GI, then a naturopath, then a psychologist…you get the idea.  And they ran test after test: bloodwork, urinalysis, MRI, tests for Celiac and Crohn’s, colonoscopy and endoscopy all without conclusive results: everything looked normal.  It was an exhausting, frustrating and expensive several months.

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All while this was going on, something in the back of my head kept hinting to me that his diet needed to change.  I’ve always worked hard to feed my kids fairly healthy whole foods, but Liam has always been my pickiest eater.  If it was his choice, he’d survive on cheese crisps and pizza for the rest of his life.  What surprised me most about the doctors that we went to up to this point, was that not a single one of them (barring the naturopath) questioned his diet or suggested he change it.  I thought it quite strange that when they saw an otherwise asymptomatic, healthy kid with stomach pain, they didn’t start wondering if maybe it was something he was eating.

The last straw came when we visited yet another GI, at a pediatric hospital who came very highly recommended to us.  At the end of this visit, the doctor suggested that we start pain management therapy and techniques.  In other words, he was essentially saying, “We have no idea what’s going on and can’t help your son.  He will suffer with this indefinitely and we can only put him on pain meds and hope he learns to cope.”  I left that office almost in tears…how was I supposed to explain to my 10-year-old that he would have to deal with this pain, without a solution, for…EVER??

I refused to believe it.  I had already promised him that we would find a solution no matter what, and I planned on keeping that promise, goshdangit!  It was at this point that we saw the naturopath who, even though they couldn’t offer much in the way of answers, did start him on some holistic supplements that actually helped.  If Liam took them regularly, the pain could mostly be held at bay.  I also then emailed a friend of mine who I knew to be very passionate and knowledgeable about nutrition (including gut-healing diets) and whose husband was also an MD.  She explained some things she thought might be going on with Liam and then recommended we see her husband.

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It turned out that not only is her husband a traditional family practitioner, he also specializes in integrative medicine (or a more holistic medical approach).   He listened to our whole story, looked up and learned about the supplements that had been helping Liam and then FINALLY gave us some real answers!  I won’t bore you with all the details  but in short, he said Liam’s GI tract was damaged and needed some healing.  He also suggested we start the FODMAP diet and recommended a few other things to change as well.

You guys – once we really committed to this diet (because it took a few tries and some tears before Liam was committed to eliminating ice cream and wheat!) the pain DISAPPEARED.  Seriously, it was a true miracle.  It really wasn’t until about March of this year (NINE months after the beginning of his pain!) that he turned to me and said, “Mom- my stomach doesn’t hurt anymore!”   We were so happy!  After almost a year of tears, prayers, blessings and pleading to take this pain away, it was finally gone.

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I learned a couple of valuable lessons during this time period:

  1.  When my loved ones are suffering, and there’s nothing I can do, I’m often tempted to get angry.  It upsets me and it upsets my children to see me this way.  During this last year, I learned a lot about Christ’s perfect love and His commandment to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
  2. A mother’s job is HARD and suffering alongside your child is the hardest part of all.  If your child is in pain, he needs you at the top of your game.  Take care of yourself and find an empathetic friend to talk to.
  3. The solution to most health problems is DIET.  If our bodies are in pain or not functioning properly, we owe it to ourselves to research and discover which foods will heal us.  Our food supply has a lot of problems with it today, so going back to basic, unprocessed whole foods is always a great place to start.
  4. A mother’s intuition is rarely wrong.  I think it’s a special connection we moms have with God’s spirit, telling us how to best care for our children.  If we have a problem and need a solution, sometimes we just need the courage to listen to that little voice inside.  I believe it will always lead us to where we should go!

    Good luck raising those amazing little humans, mamas!

The Crazy Caftan

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I’m loving all the latest dress trends this season: lace (everywhere!), lots of white, tropical prints and gauzy fabrics, and best of all: loose silhouettes and floral prints!

This caftan is a fabulous example…it’s wide and flowy and super forgiving.  I’m a huge fan of shirtdress-style caftans (like this one) but many are simply a large rectangle with sleeves.  They all have the signature boxy shape, hit about mid-calf and many have slits up the sides.  In fact, I’ve been seeing lots of caftans with high slits being worn over shorts or even pants.  LOVE that!

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I call this number my Crazy Cat-Lady Caftan.  It’s an insane print and a muu-muu style…but it has such fabulous potential!  I wore it two ways here, to show how you can make it work in all its loose-y, comfy glory (think ’70’s hippy-chic), but also showed how a belt and some flashy heels can take it up a notch.

I’m generally more girly than hippy so I love the belted version but the freedom to eat whatever I want is sure making the non-belted look seem mighty appealing.  I really do wear this to run (fancy) errands around town, as well as to church.

(BTW- I highly recommend traipsing through the desert in shiny silver heels.  Totally normal.  Do you not do this regularly?  Also, there were lots of holes in the ground that I was certain were from rattlesnakes but Luke says they’re just made by ground squirrels.  Likely story.)

 

Caftan (H&M in stores only) | Hat | Clogs

SO, tell me – would you try the caftan trend??  If so, how would you style it?

Week 12…and GIVEAWAY!

Well, we made it to week 12!  This is the start of our last week on the 12 Week Tone Up and it’s been SO good for me!  I hope some of you following along have seen healthy changes from all these tips.

Sometimes it’s just the small little changes that make all the difference in living a healthy lifestyle.  Like swapping out processed meats and produce with fresh ones, getting enough sleep and avoiding sweets.  For our last week, the challenge is to research restaurant choices!

WEEK 12

Research Restaurant Choices

 

In a perfect world, McDonald’s would not exist (except maybe as punishment for criminals), restaurants would all serve healthy delicious whole foods and the weather would always be a balmy 78 degrees.  Sorry to disappoint, but in today’s world there are a LOT of really, REALLY crappy food options out there.  Even worse, these restaurants get away with touting that something is “healthy” simply because it has processed chicken in it instead of beef.  Do your research and be familiar with your really healthy restaurant choices.

 

Let’s face it: we’re going to eat out.  We live in too fast-paced a world to be able to cook every meal from scratch.  The least we can do for ourselves is know which dining establishment won’t tattoo our chromosomes (there’s your ‘80’s movie reference) and give our grandchildren cancer.  I’m always shocked when I find out how many calories are in my favorite fast food items.  But it’s not just about calories either.  Find out what restaurants use evil trans-fat laden oils, super processed meats and add sugar to everything.  Check out this website for some ideas!  (Although it’s a great article, I obviously disagree with their McDonald’s pick.  I don’t care if they offer apples with their kids’ meals!  Don’t feed your kid those chicken nuggets!!)  It’s so helpful to have some choices in your back pocket for those crazy days when only fast food will do.

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Now, on to the fun stuff…it’s time for our giveaway!  I have really come to love exercising over the years so I’m giving away a couple of my favorite things that help make exercise not only bearable but enjoyable!  

1.  A Hydroflask water bottle – this thing is amazing!  I’ve left cold water in mine for over 6 hours, in a car parked in the Phoenix summer sun (and car temps here can reach 150!) and I come out to water that is STILL cold.  It’s incredible!

2.  A box of Kind nut bars – I LOVE these!  My favorite go-to snack for after workouts or to stash in my purse.  They are made mostly with nuts and fruits, and always have less than 5g of sugar per bar.  Plus this chocolate flavor is delicious.

3.  Bluetooth headphones – this style headphone is seriously the only kind to stay in my ear when I run.  Plus, a bluetooth hookup makes it less likely you’ll trip on a cord and embarrass yourself at the gym 🙂

4.  Runners Waist Pack – sort of like a streamlined fanny pack, these things are a game-changer!  I stash my phone, credit card, key and any other necessities in it every time I go running…and it works great for the gym too.  Don’t know how I survived so long without it!

 

 To enter, head on over to THIS POST on the Whisk ‘Em Facebook page.  And good luck!!