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Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

Going All In This Year

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year…I’m going all in.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

2016 was quite a year. There were so many amazing things that happened (I wrote about it here).

That doesn’t mean 2017 will be a let down. Far from it! I have some fun goals for this year. More importantly, God has good plans for me.

Fun Things Ahead.

Here are a few of the things I want to accomplish this year:

  1. Write a new book! I already have the topic. I just need to find time to make it happen. You’ll be the first to know when it’s ready.
  2. Settle into a home school routine. We’re starting fresh this year now that my son is home too. So we’ll be seeing what does and doesn’t work, figuring out the best layout for our classroom and finding some fun ways to learn.
  3. Have fewer doctor appointments. I am thankful that lately this hasn’t been too much of an issue. My daughter is now going to the orthodontist only once every six weeks. And we’re still deciding if she needs to continue with the functional neurologist. Aside from that it’s just regular check ups or a trip to the ped if a child is really sick. My goal is no allergist appointments this year!!
  4. Get the house totally unpacked and settled. I’m amazed at how much we accomplished in three weeks here. We’re down to odds and ends boxes left to unpack. We’re still adding a few decor items.
  5. Adjust to farm life. I think come spring it will hit me a little more that we live on a farm. We’ll be cleaning the barn, starting a garden and hopefully getting chickens. Maybe a few bunnies too. Then reality will sink in!
  6. Make new friends. It’s my priority this year to make sure my kids have plenty of interaction with friends even though we home school. Plus we want to meet the people that live around us and develop new friendships when we find a new home church. It’s exciting and scary for this shy introvert!
  7. Spend more time together as a family. Now that we don’t have cable, we’re not as busy and we home school my prayer is that we have a lot more family time. We’re already trying to figure out where to go on vacation! I’m including in this extended family too – just yesterday I talked on the phone with my dad for a while. He broke his knee cap and had surgery a few days ago. I don’t live near by so I can’t really help much, but I can talk to him!
  8. Make sleep a priority. I probably say this every year. But I really mean it. I know it is the missing piece to my health puzzle. Now that my toddler has been sleeping through the night regularly for a month I am amazed at how much better I feel. I need to allow myself to sleep in sometimes and go to bed early sometimes. To-do lists can wait. I kicked this off yesterday with a nice Sunday afternoon nap. And going to bed early!

Setting My Sights High.

Probably my biggest goal is to finally slam the door shut on my anxiety and OCD that I’ve battled for years. I have made huge progress on them over the past ten years. But I’m ready to say goodbye completely.

This is only possible by the grace of God. Last year he laid it on my heart to be fearless. And that is my goal heading into 2017 as well. Following God’s path is not always easy, but it leads to blessing beyond measure.

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

My Words This Year.

Every year I pick a word for the year to focus on (or should I say God picks a word for me). This year I have two:

FEARLESS

HUMBLE

Last year I felt lots of change coming. This year feels like it will be calmer. But still big. I anticipate more time just being still and quiet instead of constantly on the go. I look forward to the blessings and surprises God has in store for myself and for my family. And I pray that I will approach everything fearlessly and with humility.

Lest I question this choice, my sister-in-law bought me a “Be Fearless.” sign for Christmas and just yesterday after I had just finished writing this post my toddler was walking around saying “humble, humble, humble…”. Sometimes God speaks loud and clear!

This year I’m going all in. I pray God will guide me through the challenges and the joys that lie ahead.

Do you have any goals for this year? I’d love to hear about them!!

Every year I take steps towards breaking the chains of anxiety and OCD. Every year I learn more about myself and grow closer to God. This year...I'm going all in.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I Never Thought It Would End Like This

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Wow!

Sometimes that’s all I can say. Wow!

When I look back on this past year I’m completely amazed and astounded.

I started the year feeling very uncertain. About the only thing that was certain was that God had some big changes in store. I didn’t know what or when or how. I just knew something was coming. And that God’s only requirement of me was that I be fearless and follow his leading (I wrote about it in my New Year’s goals last year!).

So I did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Personal Development.

Here we are at the end of 2016. And what a year God had planned for us! I never thought it would end like this. Here’s a look back.

In February I started working as a virtual assistant for Kitchen Stewardship. It has been a great experience, and I have learned so much!

In March I self-published my very first book! Even in the midst of daily feeding struggles with my youngest God gave me the energy and insight to put our story and experience to paper. I love using it to help others.

You can check out my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” here.

The House Hunt Begins.

We also put an offer on a house in March. But after inspections we backed out. Back to the drawing board.

In April we put an offer on another house. We were outbid. A few days later we put an offer on yet another house. This time things went smoothly. We just had to wait for closing.

After a couple months of waiting we finally got a closing date…only to be informed that the sellers had backed out. With our basement filling with boxes we were back to square one again.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Homeschooling!!

The summer brought some pretty big changes as well. We decided to take a leap of faith and start homeschooling our oldest. God laid it on our hearts that it is what she needs. We kicked off the school year mid-August and have loved it! She also started working with a functional neurologist during the summer.

We put a bid on a fourth house in August. But our offer was declined.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

The Farm.

In early September we finally found the dream house God had planned for us (did you know  you can try as you may to be in control but God’s plans and timing always win?). Our offer was accepted right away, and the whole process went smoothly.

Bye Bye Allergies?

In September we also received a huge surprise when after 6 months of carrying around an epi-pen and months and months of stomach aches all of my son’s allergy tests turned up negative. Not a single reaction! Since then the stomach aches have vanished, and we have slowly been introducing more and more foods. And so far he is tolerating all of them! Even foods he has had to avoid for years.

Not to be outdone, my toddler has been adding foods to her diet as well!! It’s a slower process for her. But we are so thankful for an expanded diet, including dairy in small amounts! She is now sleeping well, eating well and growing well. God is so good.

For me the new foods mean I can cook one meal for the entire family again a lot of the time. What a blessing.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Crazy Christmas.

The year may have started with uncertainty and a large amount of faith. But it is ending with gratitude and joy beyond measure.

December 10 we moved into our dream farm in a snow storm. It certainly is not the ideal time of year to move. And the weather was not in our favor. We are so thankful friends and family live near by to help us!

The following Monday I started homeschooling my son.

A week later we had all of my husband’s family here for Christmas. Then we celebrated as a family and with my extended family.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Gratitude.

When I think about it all that comes to mind is I never thought it would end like this. This year has been filled with ups and downs. But we are ending the year so grateful and full of joy.

I’m rounding out the year with Christmas baking with my kids. We were just a *tiny bit* busy before Christmas unpacking. It has been so nice to finally have a week to relax and reflect on the year coming to a close.

We’ve loved using some new gadgets like the set of knives my daughter got for Christmas. And the cool Silpat and Levoon measuring spoons I received in conjunction with Stonyfield. All three of my kids had to take turns trying the measuring spoons with a little leveler built right in!

Giving.

I’m also ending the year with thoughts of giving. I have been so richly blessed this year. I was given the opportunity from Stonyfield Yogurt to Pay It Forward to someone in need.

My husband and I decided to add to the Stonyfield gift card so we could buy a farm for someone else!

As a family we decided to purchase a farm team through WorldRenew. It includes a goat, a duck, a sheep, a chicken, a pig and a calf. We pray this will give hope and a brighter future to a family in need.

Something For You.

There are two more great things I don’t want you to miss as you end the year.

  1. Starting today the Kids Cook Real Food course is available again! Try it first with the knife skills lessons. If your kids are anything like mine they’ll be hooked!

Grab your knife skills videos here!

2. Today and tomorrow only the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle is back!! If you are interested in getting your health back on track in the new year this is the way to do it. So many resources all in one place. Plus tons of physical bonuses too.

Grab your UHLB here!

As an extra bonus you’ll be able to snag another bundle about essential oils! Check it out.

Finally, I leave you with some pictures from the farm and our first Christmas here.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

What’s Next?

I don’t know what God has planned for us next year. But I do know I will start it fearlessly!! Following God’s plans brings blessings beyond measure.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year.

I hope you take the time to reflect on your year and all you have to be thankful for. I never thought it would end like this. But I’m so glad it did.

I started the year with dreams and fears. But I certainly never thought it would end like this!

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.

(Edited June 5, 2021 – I just wrapped up our fifth year of homeschooling four kids! It is still a joy and a blessing!)

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.

When Homeschooling Isn’t Your Choice

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.

Homeschooling as a 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 of Homeschooling

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 Versus 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.

Kids Can Communicate And Contribute at Home

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 for Homeschoolers

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 from Home Education

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 Answer your Homeschooling Questions?

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. 

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!

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.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m Slowing Down…

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

I’m slowing down.

Whether I want to or not. I am. My mind is. My body is.

Here’s the problem.

Life is not.

In fact life is going in the complete opposite direction.

I have three very active children that seem to keep growing…don’t they know they’re supposed to stay little forever?

With those growing kids come more and more activities like soccer, t-ball, piano, church activities, time with friends, etc. As each child starts the activities multiply.

Full Time Work.

Then there is work. I work from home. I started my blog shortly after my oldest was born as a hobby. But it has grown into more than just a hobby. I have to work on it daily. And it’s a LOT of work. But now instead of just my own blog I help with someone else’s blog and write for several other blogs and magazines. Those hours add up very quickly. And none of them include child care.

I also started home schooling this year. Which I absolutely love and can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. But it does take work. I have to be more organized and I don’t have as much free time during the week.

Did I mention we are moving to a 10 acre farm by the end of the year? That means we’re in the process of packing and cleaning right now. Soon we’ll be selling our house and then doing the big move…during the holidays. Yeah, it’ll be busy.

No Big Deal?

This all sounds like normal stuff. Most people can handle it.

But I’m struggling.

It’s not something I like to admit. But I am.

I am the kind of person that likes to say yes to everything and everyone. I also don’t like to ask for help. Those two traits don’t go so well together.

I also don’t have any help aside from my husband. We don’t have close family in town. If life is feeling crazy and hectic I just have to deal with it. I can’t call Grandma to take the kids for a few hours so I can catch my breath. Instead I get a few minutes of nap time to scroll through Facebook or Pinterest before jumping back in.

What Happened?

The thing is I used to be able to handle more busyness. So what happened?

I didn’t listen to my body.

I wasn’t honest about my struggles. I never accepted help. I never asked for help. Not even from my husband!

I’ve had a lot of really big stressors in my life over the last fifteen years. Bigger than I realized. And they took a toll. Major colon surgery. Years of infertility and treatments. Years of anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder and working with a psychologist.

I thought I was over a lot of the major stuff after that. So I didn’t even realize until just now how stressful the last three years have been.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Three Years Of Worry.

In mid 2013 I went through my last (7th!!) round of IVF…which ended in a miscarriage. The miscarriage lasted over a month. And my adrenals and thyroid went haywire. My whole body was swelling. I was gaining weight every week. Things were out of whack. I was trying hard to make huge lifestyle changes.

And just when I was making some progress I got pregnant with my miracle baby…the thing I had been working towards.

I was so happy, and the pregnancy went smoothly.

But it caused me a lot of anxiety. I worried about the health of the baby every day. But I just dealt with it. As I did my adrenals continued to suffer.

Wait, It Gets Worse?

After my daughter was born things were good for a bit. Then she had multiple severe vaccine reactions. And I spent the next year and a half fighting for her life. I don’t think I’ve ever felt more alone than I did during that time. I worried about her and cried about it almost daily.

Her malnutrition and fighting to keep her nourished through nursing impacted me so much that even now, at 2 years old, every time I nurse her I have heart palpitations. Even though she only nurses a couple times a day and is a great eater. It’s my body’s natural response…worrying she won’t get enough.

To add to the stress of the last three years we’ve dealt with health issues for my other two children. It started as allergies and general gut health and has now turned into neurological issues.

As I’m typing this I’m still trying to unwind from a morning of my five year old constantly screaming at me and responding to everything I say with an extreme negative. Sometimes to the point where he shuts himself in the closet and screams over and over that he wants to kill himself.

It’s exhausting, disheartening and just overwhelming at times. All I can do is keep praying.

Allergies.

It is also a lot of work to cook for my family. With so many varying allergies I always have to cook multiple meals and make just about everything from scratch…even if I don’t have time.

There is no such thing as ordering pizza or going out to eat when I just don’t have the energy. Or even pouring a bowl of cereal when I can’t even think about breakfast.

It is a huge responsibility on my shoulders. If I don’t do it my kids can’t eat.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Waiting For Our Dream.

Over the last year we have had some huge ups and downs in our house search too. We have had multiple offers accepted but then things not work out for one reason or another. It’s been very emotional and at times has felt very similar to our infertility journey. We are praying this house is really the one and we can move past this by year’s end.

Deeper Thoughts.

When I was growing up my mom dealt with anxiety and depression. At about the same age as I am right now she had a nervous breakdown and was in in-patient care at a mental health facility and was on lots of medication. We got to visit her once in a while and had to have my grandparents help take care of us. I was in third grade. My little brother was in kindergarten. Right now my daughter is in third grade and my son is in kindergarten. Yeah, it really makes me think about how things could go if something doesn’t change. I don’t want that to happen to my kids.

I’ve also always thought I’d have four kids (just like my family growing up…girl, boy, girl, boy. Right now we’ve got girl, boy, girl). From the time I was five all I wanted to do was be a mom…and have four kids. There were times during my infertility journey I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all. But I still held on to that dream of having four kids.

Now here I am with three kids…and the desire is still there, stronger than ever. But I also know my body is not healthy enough right now for another baby. And I’m not getting any younger. And life isn’t getting any easier. It weighs heavily on my mind almost daily. Though I try my best to remember that God’s plans and timing are perfect. We’ll see what the future holds.

Taking Its Toll.

Through the last few years of pregnancy and breastfeeding and stress my body has become extremely depleted. Which really doesn’t do good things for you, trust me.

Over the last few months I’ve started having more and more heart palpitations (which freak me out). I have started to gain weight in my abdomen over the last nine months (something I’ve never dealt with).

I thought maybe my thyroid was getting worse. I had my levels checked…perfect. I still tried increasing my medication just to be sure. No luck. If anything it made me feel worse.

So I did a 24 hour saliva cortisol test. It’s really not bad. My levels are in the normal range most of the day. But I think they are working very hard to stay there.

My adrenals are really being taxed on a daily basis.

Adrenal Health.

So I’ve been doing some research on adrenals. A few of the things that always come up:

  1. Get more sleep and go to bed by 10 pm.
  2. Don’t skip breakfast and eat a good balance of protein and carbs.
  3. Reduce stress.

I always thought sleep was my biggest problem.

But I don’t really think it is. I go to bed at 10 every night. I have for many years. I’m not a night owl. And although I am an early riser I get about 7 hours of sleep a night. So I could improve, but it’s not horrible.

I never skip breakfast. I am ready to eat the minute I get out of bed. I’ve been that way for many, many years. And I eat a big breakfast.

I also don’t skimp on calories throughout the day. So I’m not restricting in any way when it comes to quantity…a huge bonus for adrenal health and your metabolism.

Oddly enough the things that are a hindrance to most people are the things I’ve been doing right for years.

Sleep and morning routines are great. It’s the rest of the day I have to figure out.

It comes down to two things – stress and a limited diet (due to a nursing toddler with allergies).

So…

So now what? I can’t just stop life. Can I?

Well, not exactly. But I can make some changes.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

My body is getting older and slowing down. Life is getting busier. I’m ready to switch that around.

So I’m making a few goals for myself. And if I share them with you it will help me stick to them.

Maybe you want to join me?

These are goals for my myself as an individual and for my family.

  1. Lay down during the day for 5 – 15 minutes. Resting isn’t always enough. Physically laying down can really help recharge your body.
  2. Eat a snack in the afternoon to help with blood sugar regulation (I can’t wait to learn more about this in the Fix Your Blood Sugar course!!)
  3. Eat less before bed to give my body time to rest and truly recharge at night instead of working on digestion.
  4. Change my exercise routine. Try more T-Tapp and yoga and do less cardio.
  5. Sleep in on the weekends (this is a HARD one for me…but I am really going to try)
  6. Take time off from work (another really hard one…I love sharing my stories and my food with you…but it’s a lot of work…I may be MIA here and there over the next few months/years…it’s because I’m heeding my own advice). Keep the weekends more open for family time.
  7. Use our move to get the house organized and more functional for us so we spend less time with chaos and cleaning.
  8. Start using some hormone-supporting essential oils (still researching these a bit).
  9. Start the big kids on some herbs that help with calming their nervous system and a cleanse to get rid of parasites.
  10. Continue to have my oldest work with the functional neurologist to also improve the nervous system. And possibly have my son start as well.
  11. Take time for my marriage and connecting with my husband (it’s been over 2 years since we’ve been on a date due to the above situations…I think it’s about time!!)
  12. When my toddler is done nursing I can add a few more to this list – hormone level testing and another hair tissue mineral analysis to see where I’m at. Then go from there with flooding my body with the nutrients it needs.
  13. Read as many of the books and take as many of the courses in the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle as I can. After I download them I’ve got them for life. So I can take my time. But for once I am going to make the time. There is just such a wealth of knowledge contained in the bundle. It may take me a few years to get through it all. But I really hope to. I’m starting with the Perfect Periods course and the Heal Your Gut Summit. Then I think I’ll switch over to some of the books on kids’ health. Maybe I’ll even include it in our home school curriculum and read it with my kids!!

Life Is Still Crazy.

I know the next two months are still going to be pretty stressful with moving. But I know that up front and am going to take measures to deal with it as best as I can.

I also know that there is much more to the root issue than adrenals. I’ve got to work on hormone balancing and overall gut health.

Sometimes you tell yourself to just keep going. But sometimes you can't. I can't. I'm slowing down. It's time to listen to my body and take action.

Then once we get settled I’m ready to start a new lifestyle.

One that includes home schooling all of my kids, starting a farm and watching them learn about raising animals, getting away from the busy pace of life and just slowing down. Having that goal in mind keeps me going.

If I can remember I hope to do an update on this in a year. I love to look back and see how much has changed. See where God has led me and how He has directed my path.

God’s Plans.

Even this post was not one I had planned to write at all. I just sat down in front of the computer and started typing. Really. I wanted to share a piece of me with you today. And that is one last goal. To do more of that moving forward.

At the start of this year God really laid it on my heart that this would be a year of huge change. I had no idea what. But I knew stuff was coming. He also told me to be fearless. And I am trying my hardest (though it is REALLY hard for this natural worrier). So far He has been true his intentions. If you had told me at the start of the year I’d be nursing a healthy toddler, home schooling my oldest and getting ready to move to a 10 acre farm I would have said you were crazy. But God is good.

I feel more changes still to come.

Including even more change in focus in my writing. I’m not even sure what that means. But I trust God does. And He’ll guide me.

Do you have any goals you’d like to share? Did any of this resonate with you? I’d love to hear about it!!

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Does a Negative Allergy Test Put You In The Clear?

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Allergy tests are great for pinpointing food reactions. All three of my kids have had multiple rounds of testing done.

Sometimes the test confirms a suspicion I have about a trigger food. Sometimes it helps me figure out a random allergy that I never would have guessed.

Not Always Accurate

But allergy tests are not 100% accurate. An IgE skin prick allergy test only checks for a reaction to the protein in the food. You could have a strong reaction to the sugar in a food (lactose intolerance is a great example) and test negative for an allergy.

An IgE blood test is even less accurate. It checks for antibodies in the blood to a specific food. It can help confirm a diagnosis after a skin prick test is positive. But it is not a very good diagnostic alone.

Food Sensitivities

IgG blood tests are a bit controversial. Some say they are great for detecting food “sensitivities”…actually called latent allergies. Others say this test can give different results every time. You could draw blood three times in the same day and get varying results.

I have done an IgG blood test for myself before. I had mixed feelings about its accuracy. So I’ve never done it for my kids.

All this to say that allergy tests absolutely have their place. And they are quite helpful for diagnosing allergies that range anywhere from mild to severe and life-threatening.

But just because an allergy test is negative does not mean you can throw caution to the wind and eat whatever you want.

My Son

My son has been dealing with various degrees of allergies for many years. It started from birth with some reflux. Then at age two he developed bad eczema on his legs. Thus started our journey with allergy testing and food elimination.

Every time he is tested a slew of foods shows up. We cut them out, work on healing for a while and retest. 

But every time this has happened things have gotten a little more challenging. For example, rice showed up on his first allergy test. We cut it out. Six months later when he was retested the rice allergy was gone. Yet three years later he still can not eat rice without noticeable reactions.

Making Progress

In spite of some foods still causing problems we were making progress narrowing his list of reactive foods. Then in early 2016 after the onset of stomach aches and an inability to eat much he was retested.

To our shock he had a back full of welts. We were given a prescription for an epi-pen. And he was diagnosed with potentially anaphylactic allergies to nuts, dairy and a few other foods.

Wait, what happened over the last year that made his allergies go from mild and healing to life threatening??

Even though we didn’t have an answer to that question we moved forward, removing the necessary foods, always carrying an epi-pen, doing our best to keep him safe.

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Not Fixxed

He had some reprieve for a bit. We were so happy to see him get an appetite back and really start growing.

But before too long he started having a lot of stomach aches again. Gradually they started to become more frequent. They prevented him from sleeping. They stopped him from eating well.

More Testing

It was back to the drawing board. We started by going to the pediatrician. We did a CBC and metabolic panel. We did urine and stool tests. All normal.

So it was back to the allergist for another round of testing, fearing another laundry list of foods to avoid.

And we got a huge shock!

Every single skin prick was negative. Not even a tiny bit of reaction. So we did the blood test. Again, all negative.

Nuts, dairy, wheat…everything…negative.

Food reactions are common and sometimes hard to pinpoint. Allergy testing can be helpful. But what happens if you get a negative allergy test? Does it put you in the clear?

Although it was good news I was more confused than ever! The allergist (a new one) said his old test was likely inaccurate because foods were tested at the same time as airborne/environmental allergies.

Now what?

Do I just throw out his allergy list and let him eat whatever he wants? Do I trust the tests?

My husband and I both see glaring evidence of food reactions.

Digging Deeper

Well, I did what I do best. I observed, experimented and researched.

The thing is food reactions are a sign of a deeper issue.

Just because an allergy test is negative does NOT mean you can eat a particular food.

This is something I am very passionate about and believe so many parents could benefit from.

Behavior, digestion, skin, emotions…they are all impacted by the food you eat. Even healthy, nourishing food can create a negative reaction.

Case in point – my whole family (you can read more about it in my book Why Won’t My Child Eat?!).

Experimenting

We gradually let my son try a few foods he’d been avoiding. His stomach aches increased in frequency. His mood declined. He started wetting the bed. He developed bad breath.

Then we let him try some goat’s milk. Wow.

The result was horrific meltdowns, almost as if he was a psychiatric patient. Anything and everything caused him to scream, cry, hit himself and berate himself. It’s a parent’s nightmare.

No amount of comforting him and trying to talk through his feelings helped. If his big sister wouldn’t play with him – meltdown. If I told him I was reading a book his little sister picked out before the book he picked out – meltdown. If he wasn’t crazy about some of the food on his plate – meltdown.

This list could go on and on.

After some charcoal and a few days off of dairy he returned to a more stable state.

Sadly it’s not just dairy that does this to him. There are quite a few foods, all with varying degrees of reactions.

I could also go through our entire family listing foods and reactions. Yet we all test negative for food allergies.

So now what?

What do you do if allergy tests are negative but food reactions are present?

You get help from others who have been there. You find doctors and practitioners who are willing to dig deeper and find a cure instead of simply avoiding certain foods.

Why Won't My Child Eat?!

Healthy Kids

In my book I teach you how to observe your child and not just accept the poor behavior. Find a root cause and fix it. Say goodbye to picky eating and temper tantrums.

Beyond Allergy Testing

If allergy testing isn’t giving you answers, here are some other conditions to consider.

  1. Overall gut dysfunction/leaky gut.
  2. Parasites – they are more common than you think. They tend to really act up around a full moon, so if your child is worse during that time it is something to consider.
  3. Slow metabolism.
  4. Thyroid disorders.
  5. Lack of sleep
  6. Mineral imbalance/nutritional deficiency

And here are some potential treatments.

  1. GAPS diet (Gut And Psychology Syndrome)
  2. Parasite cleanse
  3. Probiotics
  4. Digestive Enzymes
  5. Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis

 

You can also treat food reactions from a more neurological and physical perspective. This includes:

  1. Functional neurology
  2. Chiropractic care
  3. Craniosacral therapy
  4. Osteopathic manipulation therapy
  5. Energy healing
  6. Muscle response testing

Baby Steps

I don’t have all of the answers for you. We are still in the trenches with my son’s reactions, trying to find the correct path forward. 

I know we will keep digging until we find the problem and the solution. We will restore my son to full health. We will find health for our whole family!

A negative allergy test does not give you free reign on food.

You have to dig a little deeper. It’s more work, but so worth it! In the end you will be able to eat more of the nutritious food your body needs.

Have you or your children been tested for allergies? Was it helpful or confusing?

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

Simple Health Tips For Sleep-Deprived Moms

When you’re caring for little ones it’s hard to make time to care for yourself. Here are some simple health tips for sleep-deprived moms to keep you going.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

The early days of motherhood are filled with joy, wonder and lots of snuggles. But they are also filled with sleepless nights, round-the-clock feedings, gassy tummies and lots of diaper changes.

Could you say that again? I was nodding off.

Being a mother of young children is exhausting to say the least. They require all of your attention and energy.

But that doesn’t mean you have to put your health and well-being on the back burner. Whether you just gave birth or you’re still nursing an energetic toddler there are some simple strategies any mom can use to stay healthy during this tiring phase.

You don’t need to add to your to-do list, buy special equipment or see an assortment of doctors. Follow these five simple health tips to keep yourself healthy and better able to care for your precious child. Plus I’ve got a bonus tip for those with older kids!

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

1. Do not diet.

It’s tempting. You want to fit into your pre-pregnancy clothes. You want to get back in shape. But dieting is not the way to maintain your health. In fact, quite the opposite is true. When you have an infant or toddler, especially if you are breastfeeding, it is critical that you consume sufficient calories every day.

Your body needs energy to recover from pregnancy and birth (calories = energy!). You also need all around nourishment, including a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. There is no way to get what you need if you are cutting calories.

Dieting will also slow your metabolism, making you feel even more tired. Make sure you are eating plenty of food to meet your body’s needs. There is no set number of calories, but most women should consume a minimum of 2,000 calories a day just to maintain normal bodily functions. Increase that if you are breastfeeding or even mildly active.

2. Move your body gently.

Exercise is good. There’s no doubt about it. But what is better is movement. And during the infant stage your body does not need extra stress in the form of strenuous exercise. Instead try gentle movement throughout your day.

This can mean taking baby for an easy walk outside, doing a short yoga session or simply playing with your kids.

The goal postpartum is to allow your body time to recover. Recovery does not happen during periods of stress, which includes hard workouts. Save the marathon training and ab sculpting for when your kids are older.

One exercise routine you should include is core strengthening that is safe for diastasis recti to support your back and internal organs.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

3. Get some sleep.

You may be laughing at this suggestion. It sounds simple yet impossible when you have a little one. But it is often overlooked. Make sleep a priority. During sleep is when the body works on reparation and healing.

Nap when the baby naps. Go to bed by 10:00 pm. Ask for help so you can rest.

You will feel better and recover faster.

4. Make your food count.

A calorie is not a calorie. You need to make your food count with a good balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat. Most moms in this phase are dealing with poor adrenal health. This means adequate carbohydrates and starch are essential. Carbohydrates can be anything from bananas and sweet potatoes to white rice and sourdough bread. Whatever works for your body. But no low carb diets.

Most of your food should be nutrient dense and give your body important vitamins and minerals. Some easy power packed additions to your diet include:

Your vitamin and mineral stores will be replenished by eating enough nutrient-dense calories every day. This will also help with milk supply and energy.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

5. Stay home.

One of the biggest mistakes moms make is trying to get back to their normal routine as soon as baby arrives. This does not allow your body enough time to recover.

It’s ok to stay home and decline invites or even say no to visitors. Focus on your kids and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t jump back into the rushed pace of life. It doesn’t matter if your neighbor has five kids and a new activity planned every day. Take the time to enjoy this short phase of life and not add extra stress.

Simplify meals, schedules and to-do lists. You and your children will be happier. When you are rested and recovered you’ll have fun being out and about. But when you are exhausted and undernourished it’s ok to just stay home and rest.

The infant and toddler stages are hard and tiring. Take care of yourself. Nourish yourself. Remove stress. Enjoy your little ones before you blink and they are not so little.

Follow some simple health tips to go from sleep-deprived mom to energetic mom.

Let the kids help!

If you have more than one child a great way to not feel so stressed is to get everyone involved in the day-to-day duties. That includes cooking!

The Kids Cook Real Food eCourse has open enrollment next week. My kids LOVE the course. They have learned so much (and so have I!!). You can get a little taste of it with these FREE knife skills videos.
A sleep deprived mom can improve her health with simple changes that will have a positive impact on the whole family. Make the time to take care of yourself and invest in your kids by teaching them responsibilities too.

What have you done today to care for yourself?

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.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

New Year’s Goals Everyone Should Have

Don’t get caught up in the January frenzy of diets and grand resolutions. I’m sharing some New Year’s goals everyone should have that won’t leave you stressed and burned out by February.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

I’ve been making goals for myself every year for quite some time. At first they were so lengthy and detailed because my life was a mess and there was so much to work on.

Every year I scale back as I get healthier and can take more time to just enjoy life.

This year I decided to change things up again and create goals not just for myself. Instead I came up with new year’s goals everyone should have!

My goals do not include dieting, reaching a number on the scale or trying to be more crafty. Those are fine if that is what you like to do.

But for most people they just leave you burned out and feeling defeated and stressed by February.

Here are my New Year’s goals everyone should have.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Get more rest.

This can mean sleep or just down time. Either way, we are all overworked and overstressed. Take a day off each week or aim to get to bed earlier a few nights a week. Rest and sleep are so critical for good health.

No restrictions or diets.

Make this the year to stop following the latest food trend (i.e. paleo, primal, GAPS, Whole30, HTM, low carb, high fiber, low fat, Atkins, etc.) and start listening to your body. Nobody can tell you what to eat to feel your best. Only you can figure that out.

Really pay attention to hunger signals and nutritional needs. This changes with each season of your life and even day to day. No prescribed diet can tell you if your body needs some extra protein or starch today.

Listen to your body and make choices each day based on how you are feeling and what your body needs. Restricting (whether particular foods or calories) whether it’s for a few months or just a few weeks or even days will have an impact on your metabolic health. Each time you restrict you are creating more work for yourself down the road to get your metabolism back to full strength.

If you need help with knowing what your body really needs I highly recommend HTMA.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Move your body.

Notice that I did not say exercise. Try to move your body more each day. Movement incorporated throughout the day is more effective than sitting all day and then jogging for thirty minutes.

If you have a desk job get up every hour and take a little walk. Or keep pedals at your desk and pedal while you work. If it works for your job a treadmill desk is very effective for moving while you work (and is on my wish list!).

Strenuous exercise is just that – stress. And any stress on your body will have an impact. So don’t strain yourself and force yourself to work out. Just add movement to your whole day. A moving body is a healthy body.

Also move according to your health and ability. If you are nursing a little one or recovering from adrenal fatigue now is not the time to push yourself. Simply working around your house and taking a slow walk is sufficient movement without burdening your body.

I tend to sit a lot during the day whether I’m writing or playing on the floor with the kids or driving kids here and there. But I notice that on days where I put away laundry or grocery shop and have more movement all morning I feel so much better. I am not forcing myself to jog five miles. Just moving.

Yoga, walking and weight lifting are all great ways to move your body.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Strive to nourish your body every day.

Pick one thing you can do each day to add nourishment to your body. Try adding one food like liver, egg yolks, probiotics, sardines, gelatin or broth each day.

Make sure you are getting a good balance of protein, carbohydrates (including starch, not just sugar) and fat that works for your body and your current health status. Figure out your metabolic type and pay attention to how different ratios of macronutrients make you feel. Then aim to get the right balance each day.

For me, that means a lot of carb/starch right now. Being a sleep deprived mom that is still nursing a 16 month old full time and being a slow oxidizer I need a LOT of starch in my diet. So my meal may look unbalanced to you since I’ll have two or three big slices of sourdough bread that make up half my meal. But if I don’t eat that way I feel rotten and cold all day and have no energy. I do balance that with lots of vegetables, pastured meats and healthy fats for all of my vitamins and minerals.

Give your body the balance and the nourishment it needs each day.

Make time for yourself and for others.

This year make people a priority. Whether that means self care or setting aside the to-do list to play with your kids or making time to connect with your spouse. People are what matter. Build relationships. Cherish them.

Extend grace to yourself and others.

We live in a very critical society. We judge others. We are bombarded with ideas of what you should or shouldn’t look like in the media. Pinterest images make us feel like we should be whipping up a new craft each day.

Let’s stop the criticism and instead show love. We all want to feel accepted and loved. So start by loving yourself and extending that grace to those around you. You can’t control how other people behave but you can be a light to others.

This also means being vulnerable. Stop hiding behind masks. Be real. Nobody is perfect. We all have flaws. And we’d all be a lot happier if we let those flaws show, accepted help where we are lacking and helped others with our strengths.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Take time for reading God’s Word, prayer and listening.

I go in phases with making devotional time a priority. But every time I do I am amazed at how I see God at work and feel so much more at peace.

But the thing I haven’t always done is taken the time to really listen. Read your Bible and pray. Then just be silent. You can’t hear God if you don’t listen! I encourage you to slow down and keep eyes and ears open to hear God throughout the day.

Make time for fun.

There is so much pain and trouble in the world. It is important to take time to do fun things and see the good and beauty around. Go on dates with your kids. Have a family game night. Go for a walk in the woods with your spouse. Read a good book. Try something you’ve never done before. Life is often very serious. Make time for fun.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Take joy in the little things each day.

Don’t get so busy that you miss out on the little things each day – your child’s smile, a special note from your child, a beautiful sunrise, a refrigerator  filled with food, drawers full of clean laundry, running water. There are so many things to be thankful for.

This year we could all complain less and find more joy each day.

Put down the phone!

I try my best to keep my use of electronics to a minimum when I’m not working. But I’m sure I could do even better. Put down the phone or tablet or whatever is in your hand to be able to follow through on the other goals – making relationships a priority, finding joy, having fun, listening to God.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want my kids’ memory of me to be with a phone in my hand staring at a screen instead of playing with them.

Let’s put that phone down and talk to people face to face.

It’s all about balance.

After writing all of these goals I realized I made quite a list! Which is kind of the opposite of my intention. But they are all great. Pick the ones you like or maybe just one and see if it helps you feel better in 2016.

It all boils down to balance in all areas of life. Slow down, focus on gentle movement, take time for rest, eat balanced meals without extremes or restrictions, enjoy life, pursue passions, take time for others and for God.

New Year's Goals Everyone Should Have | Just Take A Bite

Pick your word.

In addition to goals, every year I choose a word to focus on. Something God lays on my heart. Last year was GRATITUDE. The year before was LOVE. And before that ACCEPTANCE.

This year I am choosing to focus on PATIENCE. There are so many things I want to do and accomplish. There are so many things to try to squeeze in each day. I usually feel so overwhelmed by all of the need-to-dos and want-to-dos in my head.

I am working on patience and trusting in God’s plans and timing. I pray he will develop my passion for his purpose. And that I will be more patient with my children. I don’t usually enjoy a season of waiting. But I feel like that’s where I’m at right now in so many aspects of my life. So I’m going to be patient. I know God has big things planned for me when this time of waiting is over. But he has work to do on me yet while I wait.

Try picking your own word this year. What would it be?

Personal goals.

I do have a few personal goals this year. I am writing my first book and my goal is to finish it. It is something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS. But wasn’t sure exactly what to focus on. Now I know. And I’m excited (be on the lookout!).

I also want to focus on healing for my kids. They each have a ways to go to be at full health.

Finally, I want to work on my character. I want this to be the year with no more shouting and being vulnerable and letting people see the real me.

There it is. My list of New Year’s goals everyone should have. Plus a few personal goals (notice that I kept that list short so I can actually do it!).

What are your goals this year? I’d love to hear them!

This post is linked to Savoring Saturdays.

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

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.