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Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

Inviting You Into My (Blessed) Mess

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I’m inviting you into my (blessed) mess.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

Let’s get REAL.

I don’t mean real as in real food. I don’t mean real as in natural health. I mean real and as in honest, real life with all of it’s mess and chaos.

Like my sweet, little girl that has turned into a threenager over night. Or my son that has returned to daily stomach aches. Reality.

If you follow my blog you may have noticed that it’s been pretty quiet around here lately. No fun, kid-friendly recipes. No meal plans. Silence.

Well, life has been messy. Literally one big mess. Let me show you what I mean.

My house.

This is the current status of our school room. As you can imagine, not much schooling is happening here. Don’t worry, we’re still doing plenty of school work. It has just moved to the living room and dining room.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

And this…this is my kitchen floor. My children have decided it’s a place to throw whatever they like. I can barely walk through without tripping on shoes (even though the kitchen is right next to the mud room…where shoes belong).

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

This is my daughter’s craft area – that has been very unsupervised for a while now apparently. I keep telling myself I’m letting her be creative.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

The Living Room…

Now we come to the living room. A messy coffee table is not that abnormal, right? This one is unique in that it’s been my table, my desk, my everything for the last two months. I’ve been parked on the couch with severe “morning” sickness.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

Yes, all of this mess has been for one very good reason. God has blessed us with another miracle!! Next April we will welcome baby four into our family.

I am so grateful for all of the people that brought meals and helped take care of my kids. I am thankful for my family giving me grace in the midst of this chaos.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

True humility.

Sometimes it’s in this chaos that God has to humble us too. You know I’m a big fan of real food and nourishing your body. I’m the lady that eats stir fry, roasted veggies and avocado for breakfast (normally). I’ve been gluten free for years. I avoid all things processed. And yet for the last two months I’ve lived on cereal, frozen pizza and canned ravioli. It’s hard to even say that out loud.

I’ve had to give myself grace and just eat whatever I could keep down. Any attempt of fruit and vegetables was met with a trip to the bathroom (or if that was too far I always had a bucket by my side). I couldn’t even think about meat without gagging. I tried every natural remedy out there. None of them made any impact. I have even been on anti-nausea medication. But I still was barely functional. Carbs and cheese. That’s about all I’ve been eating for months.

I managed to only lose one pound during the first trimester. So I call that a win. And I am rejoicing that I am finally starting to feel a little better and able to eat some real food again. I can keep squash, beef and Brussels sprouts down! What a blessing.

As much as I love a natural lifestyle, there are times when life gets messy and you have to just let go. Real food is great. But so is being real. This is our reality right now.

My time on the couch has taught me a few lessons.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

Being sick is lonely!

I was still with my kids every day. I still talked with my husband every day. But it was different. Until a few days ago I couldn’t sit at the table to eat a meal. I felt like an outsider to my own family meal times. Most of the time my husband had to put the kids to bed (something I usually do). I missed out on those precious bedtime chats. I even missed taking care of my house. I just had to sit back and watch life happen. And watch the mess pile higher and higher.

Mess = Stress

I’ve realized just how much the mess in our house is the source of a lot of stress. For the whole family. Just a few days ago my oldest asked me, “Why am I so angry all the time lately?” I told her we all are..because our house is so chaotic.

The first item on my to-do list when I’ve regained my strength and energy is organizing and de-cluttering. I recently read an article about highly sensitive people. And it really resonated with me. I feel so much more peaceful when my house is simple. I honestly don’t even like many decorations on the walls. Having kids with sensory processing disorder I know it will help them as well.

I’m ready to do away with the nightly meltdowns about picking up toys because my kids don’t even know where to put anything. I’m ready for a clean, clear space to do our school work so my kids can truly focus. I’m ready for a play area that encourages my kids to read and explore without overwhelming them with options.

I’ll have to take it one room at a time. But I’ll get there. Simplify is the plan. More peace in our house is the goal.

I know life will be messy again when the new baby arrives. In the mean time I’m hoping to eliminate a lot of the mess in the house.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

Kids are capable.

I’ve also learned how much my kids are capable of doing. How much they can work together and learn from each other. My oldest has been my backup teacher and mother lately. And she’s so good at it!! I think the kids listen to her better than they listen to me. She even took care of me when I was at my worst, making me food and helping around the house.

It’s a mess.

Real life is messy and chaotic at times. But it’s also full of joy and lessons learned. I’m thankful for our mess. I’m thankful for a little more energy to deal with the mess.

And most of all I’m thankful for my whole family, including our newest member on the way!!

All glory and honor go to God for this miracle. He is the author and creator of life. And we praise Him for his goodness to our family.

Sometimes life can get a bit chaotic. Today I'm inviting you into my (blessed) mess. Come see what life has been like lately.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

On The Fence About Homeschooling? This Will Change Your Mind.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

When it comes to homeschooling I’m a complete novice. I’ve only been doing it with one of my children since August. That’s a whopping four months.

Needless to say I still have a LOT to learn. We are still figuring out routines, learning styles, what curriculum we enjoy, etc. And in just a couple weeks we’ll add a whole new dimension to the mix as my five-year old joins us.

It Wasn’t Always My Dream.

Growing up I had preconceived notions about homeschooling…or should I say homeschoolers. So when I had my own kids it was not something I even thought about at first.

As my oldest approached school age it did cross my mind. But not enough to actively pursue homeschooling. And my husband didn’t want to either.

It wasn’t until this past summer as my daughter was preparing for third grade when we all reached our limit on trying to push her through the day, every day – barking commands, getting angry, having her in tears, always telling her to go. When all she wanted to do was stay home and pursue her passions.

The Lord laid it on my heart that we needed to switch directions and start homeschooling.

The decision did not come without a lot of fear and anxiety. I asked every homeschooling friend I knew for advice on curriculum, what to do, where to start. One of the best pieces of advice I got was to just relax.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

But it wasn’t until I happened to hear from Kelly Crawford, a homeschooling mom of ten(!!), that I confronted my fears. And had them all put to rest.

I read her book “Think Outside The Classroom: A Practical Approach To Relaxed Homeschooling” in about two days. It would have been one if I had that much free time to read. I did not want to put it down. It helps that it’s an easy read!

I felt like she was speaking right to me, addressing every concern I had. It gave me a new sense of peace and excitement about the journey ahead.

What I didn’t expect was the conviction it gave me about how amazing homeschooling really is. It changed my whole perspective on how I raise my kids and my purpose as a mother.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

What Is Education?

Kelly starts by addressing what education actually is. I had never even thought about it. I grew up going to public schools. Everyone learns the same stuff. Everyone goes to elementary, junior high and high school. Then you try to figure out what you’re supposed to do with your life.

But that’s not what I want for my kids. I want them learning right now what they want to do and be. More importantly I want them developing their God-given talents and learning how God can use them.

Lifestyle Change.

Next Kelly talks about learning as a lifestyle as opposed to something you do five days a week inside a brick building.

I found myself nodding and smiling at every point she made.

  • Yes, I want my kids outside, exploring, learning about nature and life.
  • Yes, I want my kids to have time to ask questions and search for the answers without bells telling them it is time to move on.
  • Yes, I want my kids to have time alone to think and wonder and listen.
  • Yes, I want my kids to always be in conversation with me about the world around them.

Top Priority.

More important than any of those? Teaching the fear of the Lord. I want God to be number one in my children’s lives. Making that the priority in our house is so important.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

We have daily Bible times and talk about how we can put God’s Word into action. I always make sure all of the kids are awake and available to participate in devotions.

It has really changed my mindset knowing that my role is to help my children discover who God has created them to be.

It’s not my job to tell them what subjects should interest them. Instead I need to help open doors for them and give them the education to develop their talents.

Education Vs. Learning.

Even at eight years old my daughter already had ingrained in her head that school was about getting answers right and doing things perfectly. We’ve spent the first four months of homeschooling trying to undo that.

Education is about learning. That means understanding concepts and how to use them. It means knowing how to find the answers to your questions. It means enjoying the learning process and not working towards a grade. Getting an answer wrong is not a bad thing. It’s just a way of telling you there is more learning to be done.

Communicate And Contribute.

One of our focuses has also been on effective communication. Growing up I was painfully shy. I still am!! I want so badly to be able to speak in front of others and share my knowledge..but my lack of communication skills stops me from doing it. Now I am actively seeking opportunities for my kids to speak, perform, write, etc. It is one of the best skills they can learn.

I also love how Kelly focuses on teaching kids to be productive. Just because you are young does not mean you can’t be responsible and contribute. My kids help around the house. My five-year old already has such a great work ethic. He is willing to lend a hand any time. And I’m sure we will continue to cultivate that gift.

Even though my daughter is only eight she is constantly begging me to help her start her own business. She has a lot of ideas! And we will put some of them into action over the next few years. I wouldn’t be surprised if she is running a successful business by the time she’s twelve.

The Top Two Questions.

I can’t write about homeschooling without mentioning everyone’s biggest questions:

  1. How will they be ready for the real world?
  2. How will they learn to socialize?

Don’t worry. I had those questions too! Kelly does a great job answering them. Here are some of her thoughts on preparing kids for the real world.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

I was really worried about the social aspect. I’m such a homebody by nature. But the homeschooling community here is amazing! In just four months I’ve started developing deeper friendships with other moms than I did in four years of my daughter going to school. And she is already making some great friends.

What really makes me excited is she is even meeting friends from families just like ours – real food, natural living, etc. My daughter is so excited to have friends that really get her and don’t think her lifestyle is weird.

Plus we have more time to socialize. I consider it one more part of our lifestyle of learning to get together with friends.

Pure Joy.

You have no idea the joy I have experienced seeing my daughter’s frustrations dissipate. To see her spend three hours getting lost in a good book in the afternoon instead of walking off the bus exhausted just before dinner time. To see her and her little brother explore and imagine outside for hours on end instead of looking longingly out the window while she does repetitive worksheets. I have been blessed to witness first hand her curiosity and gifts blossom.

And even better – our relationship as mother and daughter has been restored. There had been a disconnect for years. But now we have time to talk. She shares her dreams and her fears with me. We love to spend time together. It is such a blessing.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

Did I Help?

I could talk for hours on homeschooling and how much I love it. But I’ll stop here. I’ve already given you a lot to think about (hopefully it was helpful!). If you are on the fence about homeschooling I encourage you to talk to someone experienced and read Kelly’s book.

Honestly, I wish I could just copy the whole book here for you to read! It’s that good. Obviously I can’t. But I’ll do the next best thing. Kelly is graciously giving away a copy of her book to one of my readers.

This book is for those considering homeschooling, those just starting the journey or even for those with years of experience that need a new approach or a renewed purpose.

Every time I talk to someone that says they are considering homeschooling I want to give them this book. Now I get to!

Enter below for your chance to win.

Then tell me your thoughts! Are you considering homeschooling? What is holding you back?

Want to hear more from Kelly? She blogs at Generation Cedar!! Check it out.

As God called our family to homeschooling my husband and I both had preconceived ideas and fears. But as the journey started this one thing helped turn it around.

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In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

My Messy House Sanity Saver

Do you ever just want to escape the chaos of the messes and clutter in your house? I sure do! But I’ve found my messy house sanity saver that doesn’t require me to clean all day long.

This messy house sanity saver only takes minutes but could have a huge impact on the whole family.

My house is messy.

My house is dirty.

In other words, I’m a mom to three little people that can scatter toys, food and dirt across every square inch of floor in a matter of minutes.

Is there a bare counter top in sight? Not for long! They’ll find it and fill it.

Can you handle it?

Most days I’m ok with the mess. I know this is a phase.  And I am fully embracing it! I am in no rush whatsoever for this phase of life to be over. It is amazingly beautiful and fun.

But sometimes the clutter just gets to me. When I can barely find a space on the kitchen counter to prepare dinner I lose it. When I look around and all I see is stuff on every surface.

Then I go from not caring to wanting to throw out every toy and scrub every floor. I’m sure my kids are not really fond of those days.

My happy place.

I had to find a solution to this problem. I had to find balance, a happy middle ground. I’m busy. I really can’t keep my house organized and clean at all times. I just can’t. Plain and simple.

I also don’t want to be a drill sergeant that never lets my kids make messes and have fun.

I recently discovered the answer to my problem.

My messy house sanity saver is my dining room table.

Say what? A table?

Yes, a table.

Our dining room is in the middle of the house. You walk through it no matter where you are going.

This messy house sanity saver only takes minutes but could have a huge impact on the whole family.

I have found that if I keep my dining room table cleared I feel so much better about how the rest of the house looks. I have my one space that is clutter free and clean. It is calming and inviting.

It is also the place that my family gathers. So it is both central to the house and central to our family. We always eat meals together. And always at the dining room table.

If there is random stuff on the table while we eat it gets in the way of our precious time together.

If there are books sitting on the table I might as well not even try to talk to my oldest. If there are toys my little one wants to play.

By keeping my dining room table clean I am creating a space that encourages fellowship and closeness. It’s the center of the house where my family comes together to share our joys and sorrows of the day. It’s where we gather for nourishing food and real conversation.

Even if the rest of the house has been turned upside down during the day I do my best to keep my dining room table neat. As soon as a meal is done I clear the table and wipe it clean. My kids know that the table is not a storage area for toys, homework, crafts, etc.

You can set your stuff on the floor. I don’t care. Just don’t put it on my table!

Sure there are times when the clutter creeps in. And I can simultaneously feel my stress build. Then the entire house feels chaotic.

So to preserve my sanity (and keep my children safe…) I take the extra two minutes after a meal or any time during the day to clear the table.

Do you have a central location in your house? What would happen if you made a point to keep it clean?

My messy house sanity saver got bumped up a notch with FREE cleaning products.

An added bonus.

One other benefit of this messy house trick is that it inspires me to keep other areas clean. I see how much peace I feel when standing in the dining room. Then I try to take five minutes here and there to straighten up other areas.

Or I take ten minutes to deep clean a spot that hasn’t been touched in a while. I can spare ten minutes instead of looking at social media.

What better way to clean than with FREE quality cleaning products!

Grove Collaborative is offering the Mrs. Meyer’s Everyday Luxury Set from today until May 1, 2016. There is a limited number of sets so be sure to grab yours quickly!

The Luxury Set for new customers includes:

  • Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
  • Mrs. Meyer’s soy candle
  • Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponges
  • Free shipping

Existing GC customers will receive a free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap. We love the hand soap! My kids get so excited when we try new scents. So far Apple is the winner. But there are plenty more to try.

What do you ALWAYS keep clean? What’s your thing that you can’t leave messy?

Find a focal point in your house whether it’s the dining room, the kitchen or even by the television. Make a point to keep it neat and clean and see everyone more at peace.

Then get some FREE cleaning products to inspire you even more. Let your kids join in. Make it a family project to bring calm to your chaos.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

How To Organize Your Pantry For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety

Start the new year with some organization! Here are my top pantry organization tips for allergy safety.

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

There’s no way around it. Living with food allergies is a challenge.

What’s worse? When you have multiple family members with different allergies!

If I combine all of my kids’ allergies we are pretty much allergic to everything. That is not an exaggeration. Our allergies even include foods like rice, potatoes, apples and chicken.

It goes without saying that I have to be very organized to keep everyone safe. Especially my toddler that will put anything she finds in her mouth.

Whether you have one child allergic to one food or a host of allergies spanning the whole family these tips will help you stay organized and keep everyone safe.

Even if you don’t have any allergies these tips will help you keep your pantry organized and easy for kids and baby-sitters to navigate.

Head over to Super Healthy Kids where I’m sharing my tips on keeping your pantry, fridge and freezer organized and everyone safe this year.

Pantry Organization Tips For Allergy Safety | Just Take A Bite

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

The Best Christmas Gift

I was challenged by Stonyfield to write about the best Christmas gift I ever received. After thirty five celebrations it’s hard to settle on just one! Mine comes in a small package.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

When it comes to gifts the most significant ones for me always seem to revolve around babies.

Lately I hear a song on the radio a lot called “A Baby Changes Everything.” Every time I hear it I pause and reflect.

The most important birth was that of Christ Jesus. Long ago in a stable in Bethlehem. That baby sure changed everything! What an amazing gift that God sent to us. He is the reason I am even writing this post. There is no Christmas without the birth of our savior.

I received another “baby” when I was five years old. It was a birthday present. My first Cabbage Patch Kid. It was all I wanted.

Every store was selling out as soon as the dolls arrived. Finally one day just before my birthday a store nearby got a few. My mom called to ask…there were ten in stock.

By the time we got there only five were left!

It took me all of ten seconds to choose the one I wanted. She had a little tuft of blonde hair and a pacifier. She was mine. I named her Caroline Rebecca. I never wanted to let her go.

From that moment on I knew (even at five years old) that all I really wanted to do when I got older was be a mom.

I took her with me wherever I went. I played with dolls any chance I got. I pretended to nurse her, feed her, change her. She was my world.

Fast forward about twenty years. Happily married. Ready to start a family and have the children I have been wanting for so many years.

But it would not be that easy. In 2006 we started our long, lonely walk through the world of infertility.  The one thing I had dreamed about since I was five years old seemed like just that, a dream. I didn’t know if it would become a reality.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

But in 2007 God gave us our first miraculous gift after various fertility treatments.

I found out I was pregnant in August and my daughter was born in April of 2008.

We started the journey again in 2009. After five emotionally and physically draining rounds of IVF we found out in September of 2010 that I was pregnant. My son was born in May of 2011.

Two precious gifts.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Yet I knew my family was not complete. I had dreamed since I was five years old of having a big family. I always wanted four children.

In 2013 we did our last round of IVF. Unfortunately it ended in a miscarriage. My dreams were crushed.

But after 6 months of hard work, a lot of physical challenges and healing and days and nights of prayer we got our best Christmas gift.

In December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. We got to share the good news with our children and extended family as a special Christmas surprise. My oldest was the first to find out. Her reaction at only five years old was priceless (as you can see in the photo at the top).

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

In August of 2014 my daughter was born. She has changed my life in so many ways. She has brought me down a path of healing. A baby was the only motivation strong enough to get healthy. She has taught me what it means to truly sacrifice as I have had to give up a lot to keep her nourished and thriving over the last sixteen months – food, time with friends, outings with my family, travel. None of it was as important as taking care of my little miracle.

She has taught me about contentment and true joy.

Johanna means “God is Gracious.” He is indeed. And she reminds me every time I get her out of her crib and she gives me a big hug, every time she runs over, hops in my lap and snuggles, every time she comes up behind me and gives me kisses on my back, every time she laughs so hard she almost falls over.

A baby really does change everything. A baby (all of them) has been the best Christmas gift I ever received.

The Best Christmas Gift | Just Take A Bite

Whether or not there are any more precious gifts in my future I don’t know. Whether or not my childhood dream of a large family is part of God’s plan I don’t know. That is in God’s hands. His plans and his timing are perfect. I just know that the miracles He has entrusted to me so far have truly changed my life.

It is said that good things come in small packages. I wholeheartedly agree. From a tiny little baby in Bethlehem to the precious little ones sleeping upstairs as I write this. God has been gracious and changed my life through the miracle of a baby. It is the by far the best Christmas gift ever.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

My Pre-Baby House Makeover

house makeoverBack in March I posted my 2014 goals.  One of them was to simplify and de-clutter.  I was slowly getting my energy back after a very long stretch of “morning” sickness.

I started doing little things here and there.  Gradually I was able to tackle projects that took 2-3 hours (that’s what nap time is for, right?).

After three months I think I’ve achieved my goal.  Is there still more to be done?  Absolutely (please don’t look in the “craft” room in our basement).  But I have gotten all of the bedrooms organized.  I moved all of my son’s things to my daughter’s room.  I set up the nursery (including baby clothes, cloth diapers, etc.)  I cleaned the office.  I reorganized my daughter’s craft center and our living room.  I got rid of some old stuff.

I also actually cleaned instead of just organizing.  This is very helpful for all of the allergy sufferers in the house.

Was it a lot of work?  You bet!  Was it worth it?  Totally.

Now I just have to keep up with things.  When I see a mess it only takes a few minutes to get things back in order.  I don’t feel overwhelmed with the clutter.

I actually can clean and dust now without feeling like I have a million things to move out of the way first.

One of the best parts is that my children love the change.  When they don’t have too many toys out at once they play so nicely together and really use their imaginations.  It’s so fun to watch.

We also now have room to set up the baby gear.

In the end it was a lot of work.  But it is so worth it.  Even if you only work for 15 minutes a day it can make an impact.  De-cluttering the house has made life far less stressful.  Plus I’m teaching my kids how to take care of their things and put them where they belong…now that they actually have a place for everything.

I’m not perfect.  Neither is my house.  There is always more to be done.  But I’m excited about the change.  Here are some before and after pictures.  I think they speak for themselves.  I didn’t remember to take all of the before pictures.  But the after pictures are still great.

Is your house or your stuff feeling overwhelming?  Taking just a few minutes a day to de-clutter will make a big difference. 

bedroom collage
A clean bedroom.
breakfast nook collage
We can eat at the breakfast nook again.
craft center collage
My kids LOVE the setup of their craft center. They use it every day.
nursery collage
The nursery closet is ready for baby’s stuff.
office collage
I can see my desk again.

 I feel calmer just looking at the after pictures!  I didn’t even take pictures of some of the big rooms like the kitchen and living room.  Organizing the house was a big task.  But I’m glad it’s done.  Now my goal is to just maintain and not let things get as bad as they were.  If I can do the hard work while pregnant I should be able to maintain when my body is fully functional again.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

My Goals of the Year – 2014

Now that March is underway it is time to think about my 2014 goals!  It only took 2 1/2 months.  This year I’m focusing on simplifying life and getting back to the basics.  I want to make room and time for people and relationships.

One thing that stood out as I was making my goals was that I didn’t even really think about food or diet in terms of my own health.  That is a big sign of healing.  I don’t have a special diet.  I eat nutrient-rich food.  I eat what my body likes/what makes me feel good.  I eat enough to support my body and my baby.  It’s nice to not have a laundry list of diet do’s and don’ts as part of my goals this year.

~~~~~~~~~~~2014 GOALS~~~~~~~~~~~

DSC_9783

1. Get back to the basics with nutrition.

I first learned about real food about four years ago.  I took the time to really understand what nutrition meant and how to feed my family.  Over the years with my own health struggles, dietary restrictions for my kids (for allergies) and times of doing what you can just to get by (during things like miscarriage and early pregnancy) I have lost sight of that a little bit.

Sometimes I’m even amazed when I look back through my old posts.  I posted a lot of good information!  So it’s time to get back to the basics of nutrition.  I never strayed too far.  But I know I can do better with getting some of the junk out of our house.  As I get my energy back I also hope to get my passion and drive back for making real, homemade food that is nourishing for my family.

This will include simple steps like adding egg yolks, coconut oil, gelatin and bone broth to foods whenever I can.  I may also re-post some old articles to help myself get back on track.

I’m not going to be extreme.  I know there has to be balance.  I also know I’m human and can only do so much.  But I’m also ready to put in the effort to make sure my family is nourished.

As part of this I may start re-reading Nourishing Traditions.  It has such a wealth of knowledge.

Once I am feeling better I will also do a one week challenge with my kids to see how they do with absolutely no packaged food.  They don’t eat much as it is.  But over the last few months we’ve had to go with convenience sometimes because it was all I could manage.  We need to break the habit and get back to real food.

This is not about restriction.  This is not about a special diet.  This does not mean we can’t enjoy other food when we are out or with friends.  This is about sticking to real, nourishing foods the majority of the time and especially at home.  It’s easy to lose sight of that in our culture.  I want to be sure my kids know what true health means.

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2. Simplify and de-clutter my house and my life.

One of the biggest sources of stress for our whole family is the clutter and mess in the house.  With me being only able to do the minimum around the house for the last three months it has gotten even worse.  It’s time to finally do something about it.

When I used to think about cleaning what came to mind was organizing and making things look neat.   I didn’t care about dust bunnies in the corner or mold spots on the ceiling as long as things were in order.

But now that my daughter has been diagnosed with severe dust and mold allergies, cleaning has a whole new meaning.  I’m starting to notice every little spec of dirt in our house.  I’m realizing just how dirty it is!

So my cleaning goal is two-fold.  I want to get things organized and get rid of things we don’t use/don’t need.  I also want to do a thorough cleaning of the whole house.  I want my daughter and my husband to be able to breathe better and feel better at home.

The cleaning will be better for our health.  The neatness will make everyone happier.  It will create more peace.  There will also be a place for everything…which means clean up will be much easier.

This will also free up a lot of time (especially mine!).  Instead of spending half of my day just trying to stay on top of the mess, I’ll have more time for my family and for doing other things.  By bed time everyone will be much happier and calmer.

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3. Make relationships a priority.

I probably want this or even write it as a goal every year.  It is one of my biggest struggles.  I am an introvert by nature (extreme introvert and painfully shy).  So making friends is very difficult.  Add to that severe OCD, feelings of isolation from infertility,  anxiety…you get the picture.  For most of my life I’ve just gone the easy route.  I avoid deep friendships.  I keep everything surface level.  I don’t let anyone in.  I try to hide all the things I don’t like about myself.  But it’t not a good way to live.  It’s also not a good example for my children.

I did have some very close friends when I was younger.  But life changes as you get older.  I’ve also had deep friendships that have caused a lot of hurt.  After that it was hard to open up to anyone again.

Over the years I have realized that having close friends is one of the biggest things missing in my life.  I have a wonderful husband and a great family (both my family and my in-laws).  I am thankful for a couple friends that I keep in touch with regularly via email.

But this year I want to build lasting friendships.  I want to put in the effort, let others into my life and drop my guard.  It will not be easy.  But I think it’s worth the effort.

In addition to making friends, I wan to make sure that my relationship with my husband is a priority.  This is especially critical before baby #3 arrives.  Since our children are almost six and three, now is a good time to go on dates and spend time together.

I also want to make sure my kids get plenty of attention before the baby comes.  I will try to continue our monthly mommy/daughter dates.  I will also try to do special things for my son.  Finally we will make the most of our summer and do lots of fun things, like going to the beach, playgrounds, etc.

Life will be very different in September with a new baby and my big girl in school all day.  So we are going to enjoy our family of four for the summer.

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4. Work on myself.

This year I want to really think about how my actions impact my children (and others around me).  I want to be a good example to my kids.  This includes things like facing my fears, making friends and trusting God.

My daughter already struggles with anxiety, just like I did when I was little.  I need to teach her how to handle anxiety and how to let it go.  I have to do this through the way I handle my own anxiety.

I will have two big adjustments later this year.  I will be adjusting to life with three children.  I will also be adjusting to my daughter being in school all day.  I plan to prepare myself mentally for these changes.

My yearly goals would not be complete without talking about my health.  Thankfully this year there isn’t too much to think about.  My main focus is to keep my thyroid levels and medication well-monitored, both during and after pregnancy.

I need to focus on eating enough quality food, getting moderate exercise and getting plenty of sleep.  Yes, good health really is that simple.

Finally, I want to take more time to read.  I don’t do it very often these days.  But I have a lot of books that have been sitting on my desk for a long time.  I also have a lot of Kindle books.  So I am going to read more and watch TV less.  I just got a few new books last week as an early birthday present.  I’ve already finished one of them!

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5. Focus on my writing.

My writing has taken a back seat for the last few months.  After my miscarriage I lost my focus and energy. I had to really concentrate on my health.  Then when I had bad morning sickness I simply could not sit at the computer to write.

Now that I’m starting to feel better I’m finally getting my desire to write back!  It feels great.  Although my kids don’t like to give me time to do it.

I switched my site from Blogger to WordPress earlier this year.  But being so sick I didn’t have time to do anything else with it.  I want to learn more about WP and update the look of my site.

I want to write about a variety of topics.  I will still post recipes.  I will also be writing about health issues.

I will continue to learn about photography and work on my skills.

I am also hoping to start doing some giveaways this year!

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6. Word for the year – LOVE.

Last year I started focusing on a word for the year.  It was acceptance.  Last year was definitely a year of acceptance.  It took a while to figure out a word for this year.  But it turns out I didn’t really have to figure it out.  During the first two months of this year God has bombarded me with the word LOVE.

My daily email devotions started in January with “40 Days of Love.”  At church we did a series called “How’s It Growing” where we talked about spiritual disciplines…the final and most important being love.

For Valentine’s Day this year my daughter made all of her cards.  We found a pack of cheap bracelets for her to use for the girls in her class.  They each got two.  At the end there were two bracelets left that I told her she could keep for herself.  Instead she kept one and gave one to me in my card.  Like a good mother I put it on…and it’s been on ever since!  It’s just a little, plastic red bracelet.  But it reminds me daily to love.

There have been plenty of other signs of love as well.

So this year I am focusing on love.  I want to give love.  I want to be loved.

I have been reminded constantly this year already about how much God loves me.  It’s incomprehensible.  But it is so comforting.  Even when I’m worried or anxious or not so happy with myself…God still loves me unconditionally.

I want to show this same love to others.  I want to show my husband and my kids unconditional love.

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This year I hope to work hard to make life simpler and make room for building relationships and setting a good example to my children.  It all comes down to simplify and love.  I’m excited to see what God has in store for us this year.

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.

Soaked Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars

I LOVE blueberry pie.  And we’ve been eating quite a bit of it lately.  But I don’t always have time to make a full pie when the craving hits.

So I came up with blueberry pie bars!  They are easy to make.  And easier to eat than a piece of pie.  A great snack or breakfast.  They have all the flavors of a pie without the effort of making a pie.

These bars are soaked, gluten free, egg free, nut free, corn free and can be dairy free.  Very allergen friendly and easy on the tummy.
There is no way to replace a real blueberry pie.  But these blueberry pie bars come pretty close.
Soaked Gluten Free Blueberry Pie Bars
makes 16 bars
1 1/2 cups amaranth flour*
1/2 cup tapioca flour*
1/4 cup coconut flour*
1/3 cup coconut oil* (melted)
1/3 cup water + lemon juice (1 Tbsp.)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. organic cane sugar, sucanat or coconut sugar*
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. sea salt*
1 tsp. cream of tartar (optional – it helps bind things together)
1/2 cup honey
3/4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. organic cane sugar, sucanat or coconut sugar
1 Tbsp. butter or coconut oil
1 Tbsp. tapioca flour
Combine the flours, coconut oil and lemon water.  Cover and let sit 7-24 hours.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8″ or 9″ square baking dish.
Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, soda, salt, cream of tartar and honey to the soaked flour.  Mix well with a hand or stand mixer until combined (this can take a little work – make sure it is well mixed and will stick together when pinched with your fingers).
Press the dough into the prepared pan.  Pour the blueberries on top and gently press them part way into the dough.
Combine the cinnamon, sugar, butter and tapioca flour.  Sprinkle over the blueberries.
Bake 25 – 30 minutes, until golden and baked through.  Allow to cool completely before cutting into squares.
These will hold up better in the refrigerator.  Store in a sealed container.

*These are affiliate links.  It will not change the cost for you if you buy through the link, but I will get a small commission.  It helps me earn a small amount to keep putting in the time and effort to do what I do 🙂

In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. It will not change the cost of any products or services for you.