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Letting go of Fear: A 33 Year Journey Comes to an End

Life isn’t always what it seems. Today I’m sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

If you don’t know much about my story you may think my life looks well planned. I am happily married. I have four kids, two boys and two girls, all about three years apart. And almost ten years to the day between my oldest and youngest. Picture perfect, right?

Yes, it’s true that I am a major planner, But I can assure you that God did all the planning when it came to building my family.

As I approached Simon’s birth I realized just how monumental it was. His birth carried with it 33 years of dreams, desires and hopes…and struggles, doubts and fear. And in that one moment when he arrived a weight I’ve carried with me for so long was lifted.

Today I want to share the journey with you. Though I admit I debated about whether or not to. Do I want to relive it? Or just forget it and move on? These thoughts and emotions have been swirling around in my head for the last couple months. Hopefully I can get them written and fully let go. And maybe it will give hope to someone else. So here we go!Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

When it All Began.

It started on my fifth birthday. The only thing I wanted was a Cabbage Patch Doll. But they were sold out everywhere. Finally my mom heard a store near us had just gotten ten more. We rushed over. By the time we got there only five were left. It took me all of two seconds to pick the one I wanted. A girl with a tuft of blonde hair and a paci. I named her Caroline Rebecca.

And from that moment I knew that more than anything I wanted to be a mom.

But more specifically I knew deep down I wanted four kids – two boys, two girls. How I knew this at such a young age, I don’t know. I think it was a seed God planted in me. A seed of hope that has kept me going through a lot of struggles. No matter how hard I tried over the years to shake it (and believe me, I tried! I prayed and prayed for God to take it away.), I knew my life would not feel complete without four children.

I spent a large portion of my childhood playing with dolls. Not Barbies. Babies. I pretended to nurse them, dress them, feed them. They went wherever I went. I was playing dolls well into junior high!

The teenage Years.

Fast forward to puberty. When the fear first set in. From my first menstrual cycle at age 14 I knew something wasn’t “normal” about me. I only had a period once or twice a year. I was too scared to talk to anyone about it. I lied about it at doctor visits. I thought my body was broken…for good. And the fear that I would never have the family I dreamed of set in.

I started an obsession with health (which sort of led me to where I am now). It was an unhealthy obsession then (and would be for many years to come). I actually knew nothing about health. In my mind there was only one factor. Skinny meant healthy. So I became fat phobic – the popular dietary misinformation of the day. I could live on fruity candy and fat free ice cream and call it healthy.

This is also when my obsessive compulsive disorder began (though I wouldn’t understand it/identify it for another 15 years). My eating became so restricted. My weight dropped like crazy. I was less “normal” than ever. But I didn’t care because I was skinny.

This continued all through high school. I was underweight, scared of food and so undernourished.

Coming to a Head in College.

Then I went off to college. All of my obsessive behaviors combined with my extreme shyness created a lot of anxiety. And it was hard to make friends or let anyone get to know me.

I was playing soccer and taking honors classes. My days were so busy I hardly had time to make friends even if I wanted to.

By the grace of God there was some positive change by my junior year. My soccer career came to an end…which made it possible for me to start a relationship with the man that would one day become my husband. We were both electrical engineering majors, which allowed us to spend a lot of time together.

I had no idea at the time, but I was gradually re-feeding my body (you can read more about that in this book). My weight had gone up enough to be in a healthy range. And I was eating more nutrients (though still low fat and plenty of processed food). For the first time in my life I started having regular cycles! I finally felt normal. I got excited every month when it showed up. My body was working!!

On the flip side my OCD and digestive problems were progressively getting worse (I didn’t understand how food impacted mood at the time). And getting harder to hide.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

A BIG Mistake.

One year after graduation Justin and I got married. A few months before the wedding I made a bad decision that would impact my health for many years to come…I started birth control pills. It was just what you do when you get married. I never thought twice about it, I never questioned what negative effects they could have. Or that it might not be how God wanted me to live. Trying to be in control instead of giving that to Him.

I now understand how harmful birth control is. And will teach my daughters so they don’t make the same mistake.

At first it was great. Having everything work like clockwork. I had no idea they messed up your hormones and that the period was just a withdrawl bleed, not an actual period.

Gradually I started to feel the impact. At the start of each new pack I would get so sick I would vomit, My anxiety and OCD were out of control. I was having panic attacks.

My digestive problems continued to get worse as well. I had constant painful colon spasms, I was constantly searching for solutions, I tried all sorts of dietary changes. None of them worked. They just made my anxiety about food worse.

I finally got to the point I couldn’t handle things and started working with a psychologist, I spent the next ten years working with her,

Time For our Family.

In early 2006 my husband and I started talking about having kids. The thing I had been waiting for since I was five. I stopped taking birth control…and the long journey through infertility began. I waited six months with no sign of my cycles returning naturally. Those three years on birth control had destroyed my health both physically and mentally.

During those three years I also underwent a host of tests to help my digestive problems, But every time the doctor would tell me everything was normal. After years of searching for answers I finally self-diagnosed my problem. At 26 years old I had a rectal prolapse. I met with a colon surgeon who confirmed it and ran more tests, In September 2006 I had surgery to correct it.

I was out of work for two months. It was a long, slow recovery. Something I don’t care to ever repeat.

Treatment Begins.

My first day back at work post surgery was also the day of my first visit with the endocrinologist. We started with three rounds of clomid – which my body did not respond to. Next we moved on to IUI. It was during this process that we learned we had both male and female infertility, As each month came and went with no luck my fear of not having the family I dreamed of really surfaced. I wondered if I’d ever be a mom at all.

The endo told us our only option was IVF. He didn’t give any health suggestions, No dietary advice, Just medical procedures. So began our journey through the lonely, painful, expensive world of IVF.

Of course my body never likes to follow the norm. The doctor diagnosed me with polyfollicular ovaries – not PCOS. But I could never find any information about it. He said he rarely had patients like me.

I didn’t respond as well as hoped to the procedure because of my condition. I produced tons of eggs…but most of them were not mature enough to be useful. So after the egg retrieval I hyperstimulated, In other words all of the empty egg sacs filled with fluid, which then filled my abdominal cavity. It’s painful. It makes you feel sick. It can damage your ovaries, And it makes you unable to transfer any fertilized eggs back. We had to freeze everything and give my body time to recover.

Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!
What hyperstimulation looks like – a belly full of fluid.

We waited another month to move on. Just when it was getting too hard to hope we received great news – our first IVF transfer worked! I was pregnant. I gave birth to our first child, a daughter, in 2008.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

Let’s Try Again.

In the fall of 2009 we decided to start trying for another baby. I weaned my daughter just weeks before returning to the endocrinologist to start the next round of treatment. In other words I didn’t give my body any time to recover or restore nutrients. We did another IVF transfer. Unfortunately it didn’t work. And it used up what fertilized eggs we had frozen.

So back to square one. We started right up with a new round of IVF stimulation. It was around this time that I first learned about real food and started making dietary changes.

As before I hyperstimulated and had to recover before doing transfers. We went on to use up all of our fertilized eggs with three frozen transfers…all of which were unsuccessful. The third one was dragged out a bit, but ended up being a chemical pregnancy. I felt so broken and alone (I wrote about it here). Those fears were taking over. Would I ever have more children?

After a couple months off we started yet another round of IVF. Again I hyperstimulated. The worst it had ever been. I was so sick and had to do transfusions to help my fluids balance. But finally we got to our sixth frozen transfer. Praise the Lord it worked! I gave birth to our first son in 2011. During that pregnancy I started the GAPS diet to try to help with my digestive problems. Unfortunately it made my OCD go out of control. It also made my food sensitivities worse in the long run.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

Baby #3??

In May of 2013 we headed back to the doctor, hopeful we would at least have one more child. We still had fertilized eggs in the freezer. Just as I was starting the hormone meds we got a letter that my endo was retiring immediately due to health problems. Panic. I’m already starting a round of treatment…now what?

Thankfully we have another great endo in town that was taking on all of my old doctor’s patients. And he was able to squeeze us in yet for this cycle. This was it. We had to use up all of our freezer supply for this transfer. The two week wait was eternal. I felt all of the usual symptoms. But the hormone shots do that to you.

Finally I got the pregnancy test results – positive!!! I was so beyond happy. It worked. We would have three kids. I would have to settle for that. And we would be done with fertility treatments.

But a week later I started to bleed. I went to the doctor for an ultrasound – inconclusive. No heart beat. But it could be too early. I had my hormone levels checked – they weren’t rising. I went for a final ultrasound to confirm it was a blighted ovum.

Dreams shattered. Fears in control.

Letting God Take Control.

Now what? Justin and I both knew we couldn’t do another round of IVF. My body couldn’t handle any more. And we had already spent so much money on it.

But this was when God really changed my life. Through this heartbreak he brought so much healing. You can read all the details HERE and HERE. When I tell people our first two children were conceived via IVF and our second two were natural I always get the same comment – “Your body just started working again! It figured out how to do it.” No. NOT AT ALL. There was a LOT of work that went into the healing process. And it was HARD work. So hard. But in December of 2013 I found out I was pregnant. Our second daughter was born in 2014.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

You would think that would put an end to my fears. But it didn’t. Her first two years of life were riddled with fear. From vaccine reactions to tongue ties to so many allergies I was worried she’d starve to death. She didn’t gain any weight for a year. We could hardly leave the house. It consumed me. By God’s grace we made it through. She is now thriving.

Yet through those years of struggles with her I thought daily about having another baby. It weighed heavily on me. I didn’t know if my husband would be willing to try again. I didn’t know if my body would work again. A lot of unknowns. A lot of giving it over to God on a daily basis.

Baby #4??

I weaned my daughter in early 2017 in order to start working on my health. To my complete amazement my body started cycling on its own about six weeks later. That alone gave me hope. That had never happened before. My body was working!! Nothing was regular. But I charted my cycles. On August 14, 2107 I found out I was pregnant with our final miracle baby.

I had a deep rooted fear in the back of my mind the whole pregnancy. All of the “what-ifs” played out over and over. I had experienced enough heartbreak and witnessed others go through heartbreak. What made me think I would get a happy ending? I had waited 33 long years for this. I was so close, but not there yet.

And I felt like I didn’t deserve it. That somehow it would all be whisked away just before I got there. I was so caught up in Satan’s lies that I couldn’t see God’s love.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

I could hardly even enjoy my pregnancy during the last six weeks. Satan was working hard to make sure my fears were front and center everywhere I looked. Every song I heard. Every picture I saw. It all seemed to point to something bad happening.

But over the past couple years my focus has been “Be Fearless.” God brought me this phrase. It’s hanging in my kitchen. I see it daily. And I have to give my fears over to God daily, sometimes hourly. Living fearlessly isn’t always easy. But it is living according to God’s Word.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

On April 23, 2018 we welcomed our fourth miracle baby to the family. Precious little Simon Arie. He has completed our family and once again shown me just how real God’s love is. Everything went smoothly. He is healthy and growing well. All those fears were for nothing. There is a song on the radio often these days called “Fear is a Liar.” I love listening to it. But I often replace the word fear with Satan. They are the same. I’m done listening to Satan’s lies. I will continue to Be Fearless.

Moving On.

It’s actually been hard to write this post because at just a few weeks postpartum I’ve already left it behind. I should have started writing it while I was still pregnant! This will always be my story. But I’m so ready to move forward without this 33 year fear controlling me. 

There are still challenges ahead. We’re working through nursing/food reaction issues with this little guy (of course – that’s just the way things are for us). I’m a mom. I will always be concerned about about my kids’ health and safety. There are still traces of the OCD that I’m working through and hope to get rid of through God’s power.

But I won’t have to carry the daily burden of whether or not we’ll have more children. A weight has been lifted that I can’t even describe. It was a part of me for so long. It almost feels like I’m leaving a piece of me behind.Life isn't always what it seems. Today I'm sharing my 33 year journey through fear and infertility. Through it all God is good!

I still have one more big milestone ahead. When I eventually wean our youngest. I will close the chapter of my life where I share my body with another person. When that time comes I’ll be ready to focus on fully nourishing myself and restoring my health. But thankfully I’ve got a while. I’m not quite ready for that yet. Breastfeeding is one of my favorite things about having babies. I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.

I never for one second take for granted these precious miracles God has entrusted to me. And although the journey was long and difficult I am thankful for all I have learned along the way. Each child has brought me so much healing. They have already given me more than I could ask for. I pray that I can be the mom they need and teach them well as they grow. Teach them how to love, how to take care of their bodies and how to live in God’s love without fear.

I am anxious to see what God has planned for the next chapter of my life as this one comes to an end. One thing I know is that I don’t have to be afraid of it.

Do We Really Have a Food Supply Issue?

There are so many Americans that go hungry every day. Logic says we must have a food shortage. But do we really have a food supply issue? Maybe not.There are so many Americans that go hungry every day. Logic says we must have a food shortage. But do we really have a food supply issue? Maybe not.

It seems in our country the solution to hunger is to plant more corn and soy. Spoiler alert…it’s NOT the correct answer. Unless your goal at the same time is a continued decline in health and well-being and in increase in the need for pharmaceuticals. Not to mention the elimination of small farms.

By now you know that is the opposite of my mission. I want to do all I can to support local farmers, encourage everyone to eat real food and to really make a difference in the health of the generations to come.

Guess what? There is a lot more that could be done to achieve this goal. And it doesn’t involve more fields of GMO corn.

Where are the Eggs Going?

I am blessed to have a good friend that shares my passion. And who also isn’t afraid to speak up when she sees a way to make a change. Trisha is kindly sharing a letter she wrote to small grocery store concerning food waste. I hope it helps open your eyes to the real problem of hunger. It’s not that we have a foods supply issue. It’s a food waste issue.

“Dear local grocery store,
 
468.
 
Four hundred and sixty eight. 
 
Try to remember that number while you read this letter. 
 
The last weekend of January, I stopped at a local grocery store in Valparaiso, Indiana (Strack and Van Til #8750). I was in town visiting family, and between the two families, there are 5 children. During our stay we ran out of eggs so I decided to stop at the grocery store to purchase some, due to the fact that it was only a couple minutes from where we were staying. As I approached the egg section, I noticed there was an employee taking eggs off the shelf and placing them into boxes. I asked what he was doing with the eggs, and the employee told me that they were being removed because their sell by date was that day, or the day before. In total there were 39 dozen eggs, 16 of which had that day’s date on them. Now where I’m from our grocery stores will markdown items that have reached their sell by date, on that date. I expressed interest to the employee that I would purchase all of them with today’s date on them, after he marked them down. He told me that they were not allowed to mark them down because they had that day’s date on them. I asked if I was able to talk with the store manager, and as I asked, the store manager came around the corner. I stopped him and explained the situation as stated above. He told me that the store policy is that if the item has today’s date on it, and it hasn’t sold, that you can’t mark it down because it is then “past” the sell by date. 

What would happen to the eggs then?

They’d donate them……. right?
 
Wrong. They would all be thrown away. There are so many Americans that go hungry every day. Logic says we must have a food shortage. But do we really have a food supply issue? Maybe not.
I questioned why they don’t donate them to a local food pantry. He said because the store didn’t want to be sued or held liable if anyone got sick from eating them. I wondered, as a store manager, and a local business, how does throwing away perfectly fine products not bother him. After being in the industry for over 20 years, he said he is, and I quote, “immune to it”.
 
How sad is that?! I can’t even begin to imagine how much food he has seen thrown away in the last 20+ years. In any other business, if an employee saw perfectly good product being thrown away, they would be congratulated for bringing it to someone’s attention. But somehow in the food industry, across the board, it’s “ok” and “acceptable”. I’m sure most people would be shocked to know how much perfectly good food really gets thrown away. But it happens behind closed doors, so no one talks about it. As a mother and a human being, that makes me sad. As someone who grew up in a family of 6 who relied on food pantries to feed us, it is maddening. 
 
Remember the number 468? On that day, at that store, they threw away 468 eggs. That could have been a breakfast for 468 adults and children in that community. (There are 950,720 food insecure people in Indiana.) I realize too, that those eggs were only the tip of the food waste iceberg. What about the produce department? Bakery? Dairy? Meat? This was ONE item, at ONE store, in ONE city, on ONE day.
 
To put that into prospective, In 2016, there were 38,441 supermarkets in the United States, and the average number of items (SKU’s) carried at one store….38,911. How many of those 38,911 items are thrown away every day?
 
Makes you sit back and think “There’s got to be a better way.” Well there is; the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Law. It protects businesses and nonprofits that donate food in good faith, from being held liable if someone got sick. The sad thing about it is that it was signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996! 22 years later and we still haven’t made any progress on getting perfectly edible food to the people who need it most. I feel grocery stores, and other businesses alike, are still hiding behind the belief that they can’t donate food because they don’t want to be sued. 
 
So why do they continue to do it? Why doesn’t anyone hold them accountable? Wouldn’t it be easier to donate it then pay the garbage company to haul all that excess “trash” away? When you think of food waste from a grocery store, you just think of the actual food. What about the packaging that item was in? What if the eggs they were throwing away were the ones in the plastic cartons? All that plastic not being recycled. That type of plastic would take around 450 YEARS to decompose. I don’t know about you, but I won’t be around then. The sad thing, that egg carton will be.
 
This isn’t the part where I start telling you the same statistics that you’ve already heard…. “40% of food produced is thrown away”, “41 MILLION Americans struggle with food insecurity and 1 in 6 of those are children”, so on and so on. I do, however, want to share some other statics with you. 3/10 of a mile from this store’s location is Thomas Jefferson Elementary School. A school where 57% of the students that attend there receive reduced or free lunches. Over half the school?! When these students are not at school are they eating? Do they know where their next meal is going to come from? Maybe their family relies on a food pantry. Wondering if there’s one close by? It just so happens Hilltop Food Pantry is 2.4 miles from this same location. Their website states “accepts perishable and non-perishable food items.” I don’t think that any grocery store would be hard pressed to find an employee at any of their locations who would be more then happy to drop off items at a food pantry versus throwing it in a dumpster. Maybe this pantry would be over the moon excited to work out something with your company, to get the unsold food to their pantry. Want a pantry that picks up? Feeding America website states that they have free pick up from any location in the United States. Doesn’t get any easier then that! 
 
I could keep going, but I’m not sure I want to, especially if this falls on deaf ears. Since having 3 children of my own, I’ve tried to instill in them, how to always do the right thing. Like standing up for what you believe, and that they can be the good they want to see in the world. I will add that I enjoyed shopping at your store. It was clean, well laid out, and the employees I encountered were nice and genuinely seemed like great people. 
 
Upon exiting the store, I noticed some signs you have on the wall with your company’s Values, Principles, Vision, and Mission statements. I made sure to read them before I left and there were a couple sentences that stood out to me. Part of your Principles states, “We are dedicated to the supporting organization and events that enhance the quality of life in the communities we serve by being good partners, neighbors and friends.” And part of your Values states, “We love what we do and will continue to look for new and exciting ways to better serve our customers and communities.” If these two sentences are true, I want to challenge you:

Be a leader, not a follower!

Be the difference that could change your community forever. I’ve seen on your website that you have, so to say, “put your money (and customer’s money) where your mouth is” by donating money to local organizations. But I’d love to see a change at your store, and every other grocery store. Start putting your unsold food into the mouths of the hungry in your neighborhoods. Who knows, by donating this food you could be helping one of your employees? A friend? Or maybe someone in your family? 
 

‘Unless someone like you, cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.’ 

Dr. Seuss”There are so many Americans that go hungry every day. Logic says we must have a food shortage. But do we really have a food supply issue? Maybe not.

Now What?

Let’s stop pretending this doesn’t happen every single day. Talk to your local grocery store. Find out what they are doing to support the community or if there is a way you can help facilitate change. Get the food where it needs to go – in the hands and mouths of the hungry. Find a local food pantry and volunteer.
 
As a family that works hard to grow our own food and share with others it breaks my heart to think of someone just throwing it away. There is no reason for that.
 
I truly believe we don’t have a food supply issue in America. I do believe we have a food waste issue. And it needs to change!

How to Prevent Picky Eaters from the Start

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It’s no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I’m going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Picky Eaters.

It’s something all parents struggle with at some point. But did you know that shouldn’t be the norm? Really. Picky eating is a symptom. Not a condition. It’s the whole purpose of my blog – to help deal with picky eaters and get kids to just take a bite!

How to Handle Picky Eaters

Trust me. I’ve dealt with every kind of eating struggle you can imagine…and come out on the other side. I dealt with the root cause. Which got rid of the picky eating symptom. But it wasn’t easy!

I have ways of dealing with picky eaters in my book “Why Won’t My Child Eat?!” But today I’m sharing a little secret with you. The best way to prevent picky eaters is right from the start. From the first taste of solid food. Actually even from the time baby is in your womb and breastfeeding!

If you are pregnant, make sure you eat a wide variety of nutrient dense whole foods. Baby does taste what you’re eating! Then when baby is breastfeeding continue a nutritious diet. Your milk will change flavor based on what you eat and give your little one a taste for real food.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Prevent Picky Eaters from the First Bite

Then comes the really important step – introducing solids. You can’t wait for it with your first child. You kind of get annoyed with it by your second child. But eventually you get to or you have to (however you look at it). And what you feed your baby can create or prevent picky eaters.

I’m a huge fan of letting baby lead when it comes to solids. But that doesn’t mean a food free-for-all. It just means I offer a variety of nutrient dense food and let baby decide what and how much to eat. In general I offer baby what the rest of the family is eating. Here are my basic guidelines.

  • No added sweeteners
  • No food coloring or artificial ingredients
  • Lots of healthy fats
  • Let baby chew
  • Offer variety – a mix of fruits, veggies, proteins and fats
  • Stick to a gluten free or grain free diet for at least the first year

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Some of my favorite first foods include:

  • avocado chunks or lightly mashed
  • banana chunks or lightly mashed
  • ripe pear chunks
  • egg  yolk lightly fried in butter, coconut oil, tallow or lard or hard boiled egg yolk
  • whole milk yogurt
  • ripe mango chunks
  • beef or chicken liver
  • peas
  • sardines
  • roasted chicken
  • ground beef

Keep in mind baby is not born with an affinity towards sugar and brightly colored foods. If you skip those baby will not feel dissatisfied. On the contrary, you will be giving baby one of the best gifts ever! The gift of a taste for real, whole foods.

If you do need a few tricks to get the healthy habits going check out Think Baby.

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Help With Feeding Baby Made Simple

I’m thankful there are good companies like Stonyfield Yogurt and Once Upon a Farm that have the same philosophy on feeding little ones. Companies that combine the need for simple, yet nourishing foods.

Stonyfield’s YoBaby banana mango yogurt is made with whole milk and has NO added sweeteners! As a mom of soon-to-be four kids (in less than two weeks!!) I’ve been waiting a while for this. An infant does not need sugar added to their yogurt. Honestly. They will eat it plain. Or you can mix in some fruit if you like.In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

We recently tried the banana mango YoBaby yogurt. Even my 10 year old loved it! I’ve even been eating it. Here is some other cool info straight from Stonyfield.

  1. Yobaby is the #1 pediatrician recommended yogurt for babies and kids 6 months to 2 years.
  2. Stonyfield YoBaby was the first yogurt made especially for babies.
  3. Yobaby now contains the probiotic culture BB12. In addition to live active cultures, Stretococcus Thermophilus, Lactobacillus Bulgaricus, Lactobacillus Acidophilus, Bifidus, Lactobacillus Casei, and Lactobacillus Rhamnosus, YoBaby® yogurt now contains the probiotic Bifidobacterium animalis lactis BB-12® that has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle. BB-12® is a registered trademark of Chr. Hansen.
  4. Our texture is thick and creamy. It is thicker and isn’t as runny as other organic baby yogurts. This helps with less mess for moms while feeding AND especially for babies/toddlers that are starting to self-feed.
  5. We use PLA cups (meaning, made from plants!) because we heard from moms that they were concerned with polystyrene packaging – PLUS plant-based packaging has a lower carbon footprint.

In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

Don’t Forget the Fat!

We have been eating Stonyfield yogurt for many years. But Once Upon a Farm is new to us. I was pleasantly surprised by the quality and flavor of the ingredients!

Just real, whole foods. A variety of fruits, veggies, seeds and healthy fats. Exactly what little brains and bodies need. And as a mom of kids with a variety of allergies I was happy to see there are flavors each of my kids can enjoy.

According to Once Upon a Farm, “We use High Pressure Processing (HPP) to keep our food as close to the farm as it gets. HPP is a revolutionary technology in food, the kind that those unrefrigerated brands don’t use. It allows us to keep the flavors, aromas, colors, textures and nutrients of the food intact, leading to optimal taste and palate development in infants.”In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

One of my favorite qualities of Once Upon a Farm pouches is how the ingredients are combined.

“We synergistically combine ingredients to create optimal absorption and bioavailability of nutrients. Most baby foods are devoid of fats, especially high quality ones. At Once Upon a Farm, each recipe contains a healthy fat for stable energy levels, nutrient absorption and optimal brain development.”

That is so important to me! Kids need plenty of healthy fats for absorption and brain development!!

I know these are for little ones, but I’d happily serve them to kids of any age…or eat them myself! My kids wanted to eat them all in one day.

Skip the Sugar!

If you skip the sugar from the start your kids will not crave it and be dependent on it as they get older. They will enjoy foods in their natural state. My kids describe their vegetables as sweet! Yes, with a palate free of sugar they can enjoy sugar snap peas and carrots fresh from the garden and consider them a treat.

We do have the occasional sweet here, like homemade graham crackers or homemade ice cream. But those are not part of our daily diet. And they are not given to the little ones. Plus when I make them at home I can keep the sugar content down even in my baked goods!In our culture kids are bombarded with brightly colored food and overly sweet treats on a daily basis. It's no wonder their taste buds are skewed! I'm going to share how to prevent picky eaters from the start.

You can start this process at any age. You are never too old to learn to enjoy real food.

But the best strategy is to teach your kids about whole foods from birth. Skip the sugar in first foods to teach kids how to enjoy foods in their natural state and prevent picky eaters.

I am working with Stonyfield Yogurt and Once Upon a Farm for this post. All opinions are my own.I have not been paid to post a positive review.

When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

My Essential Baby Items for a Natural Home

When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don’t need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

As a mom of three kids plus one on the way I can say I’ve gone through a lot of baby gear. With our first we had everything (who doesn’t, right?). Swing, exersaucer, bouncy seat, Bumbo, jogging stroller, play mat,…the list goes on and on. Our house was loaded with baby items.

By the time my second was born I realized I didn’t need so much. I knew holding him was much better than setting him in some contraption all the time. They aren’t good for the spine and development anyway. Plus he hated being strapped into ANYTHING. So all of those toys were pointless. All I needed was a blanket for the floor and a carrier so he could be with me the rest of the time.

With my third I used even less. And now that I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of number four I know that there is very little you actually need for a baby. And it helps keep your house from getting so cluttered! So I’ve come up with a list of my essential baby items for a natural-minded mama. Yes, every baby needs a place to sleep (whether that’s by your side or in a crib) and clothes. But beyond that these are my favorites (and some are on my current wish list!!).

My Essential Baby ItemsWhen you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Soft Structured Carrier

I have used a carrier with all of my kids. It is probably my most used baby item. I carry them from birth until at least 2 1/2. But it has taken me until baby four to figure out which one I really like! With my first child there weren’t too many options. I just went with what was in the store – Baby Bjorn. Now I know they aren’t designed that well and put baby in a poor position.

Thankfully when she was around one I got a new soft structured carrier – a BabyHawk. I have used it with all three kids! And I really do love it. It’s been my favorite up to this point. It keeps baby’s legs in the M position, which is best for the spine.

With my son I also got a Moby (wrap style carrier). It worked very well for him because he loved being really close to me at all times. Though my daughters did not like it. It was not roomy enough.

After years of carrying my kids I’m actually deciding to get a new one this time! I love the comfort of my BabyHawk. BUT I hate the long straps. I’m so sick of tying my BabyHawk and my Moby. I feel like I’m always dragging long strings when putting them on.

So my final choice and top pick is a soft structured carrier with buckles. I also want a hood for when baby naps or to be able to nurse discretely while out and about.

There are quite a few great brands of SSCs out there. You just have to try some on and see what fits you best. Some great examples are Ergo, Boba, Tula, and Lillebaby. I have my eye on the Boba this time around. And can’t wait to start using it!! No more annoying straps. Just a quick clip and done.When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Cloth Diapers

We did not start using cloth diapers until my second child was born. I wish we had done it with my first! We have saved so much money by using cloth diapers. Plus it’s just so much better for baby’s skin.

There is an up front investment and a learning curve. Do you want all-in-one, pocket or covers? Growing up there was only one way to cloth diaper. But now there are so many choices! And they are so cute too. But once you have a good stock you don’t have to worry about running out of diapers. No weekly purchases.

We chose to use pocket diapers and have been very happy with them. The brands we use are Fuzzibunz and Bum Genius. Though there are so many others! Cleaning is easy with a diaper sprayer attached to the toilet. And we have accumulated enough diapers that we only have to wash them every three to four days.

I love that we are doing our part to help the environment by not filling landfills with so many disposable diapers.

I know cloth diapering doesn’t work for everyone. But I truly think it’s far easier than most people realize.

Now that we are expecting baby four a few of our original diapers are wearing out. The elastic in the legs is not so stretchy. So we’ve had to replace a few. But it’s still a very, very small cost in comparison to disposables.When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Nursing Tanks and Tops

If you are planning to breastfeed nursing tanks are a MUST. I live in them when my babies are little. They make nursing so much easier.

With my first I went super cheap and just got a few from Target. They worked. But they weren’t the best fitting.

With my second I wised up and got some quality nursing tanks (I used Bravado). They are so nice and fit so well I can actually wear them alone as a tank top when I’m out and about (which is great with spring/summer babies!). After using them with two kids they are getting a bit stretched out. So I need to buy replacements. But almost daily wear of them for about four years combined is pretty good.

On top of nursing tanks there are now many options for nursing apparel. This was not a thing when I first had kids. I’m excited this time around to buy shirts that allow easy access for nursing…while still looking cute (here is an example of one I like)! I love that more and more efforts are being made to encourage breastfeeding and make it easier to do so in public.

Muslin Swaddle

When my third child was born my sister-in-law gave me a nice, muslin swaddle blanket. My first thought was, “look, another blanket to add to the pile.” But it quickly became a favorite! At three years old my daughter still sleeps with it!

I love how light and breathable these blankets are. They make awesome nursing covers because they are large and lightweight. Plus they are so soft. You can use it to cover a car seat or protect baby from the sun in a stroller. They are great for toddlers that want to snuggle too.

It would seem that I don’t need another muslin swaddle this time since we have one. But I don’t think my toddler is willing to give it up. So it’s one more item on my wish list for this baby. This is the one I want!When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Car Seat

It may seem pretty obvious that you need a car seat for a baby. Unless you don’t plan to ever drive anywhere. I add this here as something to consider. We used the same infant car seat for our first three children. I have sort of a love-hate relationship with infant seats.

Yes, you need one. Yes, it’s handy to be able to strap baby in while you are in the house and carry them into your destination.

BUT – it disturbs me seeing people leave their baby in a car seat for so long! I’m not judging. I did it too with my first. But now I can’t stand it. My kids are only in their car seat when in the car. Other than that there is no reason to keep them in. Why keep my baby strapped in a seat when I can take them out?

My oldest had a somewhat flat head as an infant. And keeping her in a car seat (and other things like a baby swing) too long and too often contributed.

For this baby we had to make a choice. Buy a new infant seat (our old one is very expired) and then buy a new booster after that. Or go for an all-in-one? We decided to get a Graco 4-in-1 seat. It will last from birth until ten years of age. And I don’t have to worry about breaking my back carrying an infant seat. Something to consider when you are expecting a baby.

Non-toxic Toys

When it comes to toys you really don’t need many…at all. A baby can be overstimulated very easily. Instead of buying all the toys with flashing lights and music, stick to a handful of simple, non-toxic toys.

Something to chew and something to shake. Maybe a mirror. Baby really wants to see your face and your surroundings. Wearing baby, talking to him or her and spending some time working on motor skills is sufficient.

The great thing about only having a handful of baby toys is that you can spend a little extra to get high quality and they won’t overtake your house. As your baby gets older look into Montessori style toys to encourage creativity and learning.When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Books

It’s no secret that reading to your child is one of the best things you can do for them. One item we have an abundance of in our house is books! We read a lot. I always say you can never have too many books. It is one of the best tools for learning. It also encourages lots of time together and good communication.

Even at just a few months old my oldest would sit and listen to book after book after book. She ended up teaching herself to read at the age of four and is still our bookworm.

My son was a child that had to move. It took longer for him to be able to sit through books and to pick up reading. But it was still well worth the effort.

All of my children were pretty early talkers. I truly believe that all of our time reading together was a huge factor.

They all ask me to read to them the instant I sit down these days. And we go to the library every couple weeks to restock our book supply. It’s rare that we come home with fewer than thirty books.

Non-Toxic Bedding

This is one that a lot of parents don’t really think about. But your baby’s bed and bedding is so important. Babies sleep…a lot. Which means they spend a lot of time on a mattress of some kind. Which kind you use can have an impact on your child’s health. Many are made with chemicals that are dangerous to inhale. And some people even say it could be the cause of some cases of SIDS (which is why back sleeping helps…less direct contact with/inhalation of the mattress).

We are in the process of replacing all of our mattresses. We just started with our toddler. She got a new mattress from My Green Mattress. They aren’t cheap…but they are worth the investment!

In our family we are also very conscious of environmental allergies (since my husband and all of my kids have them!). Everyone in our house has a dust mite cover on their mattress and pillow. The baby should be no exception.

EMF-Blocking Blanket

The final thing on my essential baby item list is an EMF-blocking blanket. Yes, another blanket. This one is unique.

EMF (electromagnetic frequency) may be something new to you. It’s a topic I have researched some, but not nearly enough. But definitely enough to know that we don’t know the full impact they have on us. This post from Wellness Mama is a great read if you want to learn more.

Sadly EMFs are all around us these days with the use of cell phones, laptops, wireless devices, smart meters and just about anything that uses electricity.

I am very intentional about not allowing wireless devices like phones and tablets to touch my children (or myself!) aside from our hands. The effect of EMFs is proportionate to distance. The farther away you are the less impact they have. I don’t put my cell phone in my pants pocket, in a stroller or in a pocket of my carrier. I turn off the WiFi on my phone when I don’t need it.

We limit anything electronic in the bedrooms. I do still use a monitor, but try my best to keep it across the room from baby and not right by my head.

That being said, there are EMF-blocking blankets to use over baby when you are sitting at your computer with them or using your cell phone by them. It’s just one more step to protect that precious little baby of yours. This is not something I’ve used in the past, but it is another item on my wish list!When you are preparing for a baby there are so many gizmos and gadgets to choose from! You don't need most of them. Here are my essential baby items for a natural home.

Is That All?

As you can see my list of essential baby items is quite small. I wish I had been able to read this list before my first was born. It would have saved a lot of money and countless hours dealing with an overabundance of toys. Who knows, maybe it would have helped my oldest with her sensory processing disorder! She sure had more than enough stimulation.

A baby needs sleep, nourishment and to be close to mom and dad (both physically and in communication). That’s really it.

If you are expecting a baby (be it your first or fifth) or know someone who is, use this list as a guide to what is really essential and worthwhile buying for baby.

What would be on your natural baby essential items list?

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!

Why We Are Eating Gluten-Free (and Why You Might want To As Well!)

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten-free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!The question I get most often related to our diet and lifestyle is why we eat gluten-free. The answer I give depends on my audience. If it’s someone I barely know I usually just say allergies to avoid a long discussion.

But the real answer goes much deeper. Especially since technically none of us does have a wheat/gluten IgE allergy!

Why Are We Eating Gluten-Free?

It all started in 2010 when I was pregnant with my son and did the GAPS diet (not something I would do again, by the way). At that point I was eating completely grain-free. That was when I first started learning about the potential harm grains can cause to the body.

After coming off of the GAPS diet (very underweight and exhausted…that picture is only one month postpartum while doing GAPS) I switched to sourdough made with rye and wheat. Which I LOVE (and miss!). We ate that for a while. Though I learned pretty quickly that wheat that wasn’t properly prepared did not agree with me.

But it wasn’t until my oldest was close to five years old that we really made the switch to a gluten-free diet. It wasn’t because she was having hives or rashes or another type of allergic reaction.Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!

We went gluten-free because of the neurological impact gluten has on her. In other words, it makes her totally crazy.

We struggle enough with her focus and accomplishing simple daily tasks (in spite of her being the smartest kid I’ve ever met). We’ve worked with a speech therapist, occupational therapist, psychologist, functional neurologist and orthodontist to help with reflex integration, focus, oral SPD and mouth breathing.

But the thing that has made the biggest impact on her health is diet. Specifically staying away from gluten.

Does a Gluten-Free Diet Work?

There have been periods where we tried switching back. Sometimes just an exception here or there. Sometimes for longer stretches.

Without fail every time produces the same results. She is non-functional. Sometimes I have to feed her. We can’t expect much from her. It pains me as a mother to see her like this. So even though she is my child with “no food allergies,” she has the strongest reaction to gluten.

How Gluten Impacts Our Family

Around the same time I discovered how gluten was impacting my daughter, I learned just how important a gluten-free diet is for thyroid health. As someone that has dealt with hypothyroidism for many years that is a big deal!

In 2013, while still struggling with infertility, I made the switch to natural desiccated thyroid AND made the choice to be strict gluten-free. Those were two of the best things I ever did for my own health. And they are large reasons why we have our miracle baby #3 (who isn’t a baby anymore) and miracle baby #4 (who I can barely call a baby now)!!

When my oldest son was first tested for food allergies wheat was on the list. So it was a no-brainer to keep him gluten-free. And considering all of my youngest’s struggles with food reactions and trying to heal her gut and whole body from vaccine reactions, I made the choice to keep her gluten-free as well.

I have done a lot of research on eating gluten-free. I’ve gone back and forth on the idea over the years. But in the end we have remained gluten-free. My largest reason has been simply observing how it impacts my family and my desire to keep them healthy.

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!Should Everyone Eat a Gluten-Free Diet?

Maybe. Maybe not. That is still a debatable topic. But there is a lot of research out there that shows how gluten can damage the gut and lead to a host of health problems. According to Gluten Free Society:

Gluten causes neurochemical changes in the production of neurotransmitters (chemicals that allow the nervous system to communicate). Examples include: serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, epinephrine, and histamine. Gluten is also a neurotoxin that has been shown to damage nerve tissue. This is the reason so many with neurological disease (autism, migraine headaches, ADD, bipolar, schizophrenia, neuropathy, epilepsy, etc.) do well on a gluten free diet.

Which makes total sense to me seeing how my daughter responds to it! It impacts the entire nervous system.

Is a Grain-Free Diet Healthy?

You can go a step farther and say that all grains are bad. Diets like primal, paleo, AIP, keto,GAPS, etc. exclude all grains. But I personally don’t think that’s necessary unless you are working on healing an autoimmune condition. And even then it should be temporary.

I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum – sprouting and grinding my own wheat to make homemade baked goods and being completely grain-free. I have found for us that it’s best to strike balance in the middle using gluten-free grains. I don’t feel well when I eat totally grain-free. My body NEEDS some starch in the form of grains (this is a bio-individual thing you have to figure out for yourself – for me starchy veggies don’t work). Kids need plenty of carbohydrates to balance protein and fat and have energy. So I don’t restrict gluten-free grains for my kids.

I recently watched the Broken Brain docu-series. One of the doctors said he believes every single person should eat gluten-free, as it can lead to holes in the digestive tract (a.k.a. leaky gut). The amount of damage it does to each individual varies. The hard part is that the reaction can come hours or days later. So it is very difficult to pinpoint the culprit. And it can manifest is so many ways (think headaches, stomach aches, constipation, fatigue, foggy thinking, dry skin, hair loss, bad breath, poor growth, osteoporosis…the list goes on and on).

The only way to really know if  you feel better without gluten is to take it out for at least a month and assess. If you add it back in do your symptoms return?

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!Is Einkorn A Healthy Alternative?

There may be one exception to the rule. I have heard great things about einkorn flour – an ancient variety of wheat. I have friends that react to gluten, but seem to do fine with einkorn. This is largely due to how modern wheat is sprayed and processed.

This is a grain I have not used much personally. I have baked with it a couple times. But not enough to really experiment and see how we all handle it. Getting gluten out of your system completely can take a while. So I’m always hesitant to introduce any, knowing that if it goes poorly we’re starting back at square one.

Maybe some day after more healing (and when mom isn’t nursing and exhausted) I will try sourdough einkorn and see how it goes. Then I can really see if it’s the gluten itself or the modern grains contributing to our health problems.

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!Long-Term Gluten-Free Diet

We are still working through allergies and eczema for my son. We are still working on neurological issues with my oldest. And my youngest is finally making great progress with eating and growth. I’m not about to rock the boat and introduce something new right now.

A gluten-free diet has made a world of difference for our family’s health, both physically and mentally. It has even helped me heal from years of struggling with infertility, anxiety and OCD. That is why we eat gluten-free. Not because we read a book about it. Not because it worked for someone else. Because we have seen the benefits first hand. It has helped my kids feel better. And it has really helped manage my hypothyroidism.

Once you get started it’s not difficult to cook and bake gluten-free. There are so many alternatives readily available now. Then again it’s not always easy when you are away from home. But it’s worth the effort.

Have You Ever Considered A Gluten Free Diet?

If you have a child that is a really picky eater, has eczema, struggles with ADD/ADHD, has ASD, is emotionally unstable (anxiety, tantrums, etc.) or has any other nagging condition you can’t seem to figure out, you should consider a gluten-free diet. It’s a simple change that doesn’t require doctor visits and doesn’t cost anything. You never know. It could be a life changer!

I’m not going to go as far as to say that everyone should eat gluten-free. I’m not a doctor. But I do think a lot of people could benefit from it.

Have you ever wondered why so many people are eating gluten free these days? I may not have all the answers, but I can share why we do!How to Start a Gluten-Free Diet

When we first started eating gluten-free I took baby steps. I didn’t buy any strange, new foods. I just cooked meals that were naturally gluten-free. I made dishes with rice, potatoes, corn, etc. I just avoided our meals that use wheat for a few weeks.

Once I saw how well it was going I started to venture into gluten-free baking and experimenting with wheat alternatives. If you want to give it a shot I’ve got hundreds of gluten-free recipes on the blog.

Curious what we eat every day? Follow me on Facebook or Instagram where I share most of our meals.

I know the idea of eating gluten-free may sound overwhelming. But it’s not. Once you get started you’ll see just how easy it is. And you might be surprised by the health changes you observe!

Are you ready for the challenge? I encourage you to try a gluten free diet for three weeks and see how you feel. I’d love to hear about it too!!

Many people use the Theory of Herd Immunity as a reason to mandate vaccines. So exactly what is herd immunity? And does it really exist? Let's find out!

What is Herd Immunity…and Does it Exist?

Many people use the Theory of Herd Immunity as a reason to mandate vaccines. So exactly what is herd immunity? And does it really exist? Let’s find out!Many people use the Theory of Herd Immunity as a reason to mandate vaccines. So exactly what is herd immunity? And does it really exist? Let's find out!

Before I begin I want to state that this post does not deal with vaccine safety. It is not pro or anti vaccines. It is simply discussing vaccine efficacy and the theory of herd immunity.

Vaccinating vs. not vaccinating is a very personal choice – a choice every parent should have.

Vaccination is a medical procedure and the government should never be allowed to make that decision for us. If our freedom to choose whether or not to vaccinate is taken away or prohibits us from education or a career, then we no longer live in a democracy, in the land of the free. We live in a dictatorship.

I am passionate about children’s health. And parents should be able to make decisions in the best interest of their children’s health. Always. This includes making decisions about vaccines.

People have different beliefs on safety, religion, morality, etc. The right to choose must be maintained.

But some people feel it’s ok to take away that individual right “for the good of the group.” The theory used to back up this claim is called the Herd Immunity Theory.

Note the word theory.

The theory of Herd Immunity is not a proven fact. And it’s NOT a valid reason to mandate vaccination.

So just what is a theory?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a theory is: “an ideal or hypothetical set of facts, principles, or circumstances” or “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.”

A theory is not proven. It is hypothetical. It is a possible solution given to explain things.

What is the Herd Immunity Theory?

According to vaccines.gov:

When a critical portion of a community is immunized against a contagious disease, most members of the community are protected against that disease because there is little opportunity for an outbreak. Even those who are not eligible for certain vaccines—such as infants, pregnant women, or immunocompromised individuals—get some protection because the spread of contagious disease is contained. This is known as “community immunity.”The principle of community immunity applies to control of a variety of contagious diseases, including influenza, measles, mumps, rotavirus, and pneumococcal disease.

In simpler terms – if enough people are vaccinated, the disease can no longer spread.

The theory of Herd Immunity seems like it makes sense. It is a “plausible general principle.” But let’s take a closer look.

Join me over at Kitchen Stewardship where I’m digging in deep to find out more about the this idea of herd immunity. Check it out HERE.

NOTE: Please read the full article before making any comments.

Real foodies love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. But don't forget about the little ones. Here are my top picks for little foodie gifts.

My Top Picks for Little Foodie Gifts

Real foodies love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. But don’t forget about the little ones. Here are my top picks for little foodie gifts.

Real foodies love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. But don't forget about the little ones. Here are my top picks for little foodie gifts.

If you want your kids to grow up knowing about real food, you have to teach them. What better way than with some Christmas gifts that promote real food and natural health?!

My kids love all things related to food – cooking food, eating food, learning about food and nutrition. So it’s no surprise that my gift list for little foodies isn’t that different than my list for adults. Just a little more age appropriate.

My kids have or want everything on this list. So it really is little foodie approved!

Desiccaated Liver

Now you might think I’ve really lost it. I put liver at the top of my gift list and now on my kids’ gift list! I really truly believe it is that important. Although my kids would not want a jar wrapped up under the tree, they do understand how nutritious it is and request to add it all sorts of foods.

Soon I’ll be sharing my son’s secret taco seasoning recipe – which includes lots of desiccated liver. My youngest likes to put liver on her salads.

While this may not be a stocking stuffer, using liver in your cooking will give your kids the gift of good health. And it doesn’t get much better than that.

You can always get an extra 10% off using my code TAKE10. I already stocked up for the year. Merry Christmas to all my kiddos! Grab yours HERE.

Kids Cook Real Food eCourse

Making nutritious food for your kids is a wonderful gift. The next best thing…teaching them to cook good food! It’s the gift that won’t take up space and will benefit them for a lifetime.

My six year old loves to cook dinner with me. By the time he is college age he’ll practically be a chef. I keep saying he is going to make an amazing husband someday.

My girls beg to help in the kitchen too. That’s why we’ve been doing the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse for two years now! Even as early as age two kids can learn to use knives, proper measuring skills and how to follow a recipe.

This really is a gift for you too. Wouldn’t you love for your kids to be able to get up in the morning and make breakfast? With the KCRF eCourse they will!

Grab a spot today in the Kids Cook Real Food course! This is a great gift for Grandpa and Grandma to get the kids.

Kitchen Tools

If you teach your kids to cook…they’re going to want some kitchen tools. Trust me on this one. My kids LOVE having their own set of measuring spoons and cups, knives and other little gadgets like crinkle cutters.

This can be a great way to encourage a child that is hesitant to help in the kitchen. It also teaches your child responsibility by needing to take care of their own equipment.

Last year my oldest got a set of knives for Christmas. Now every time she helps with chopping she HAS to use her knives. Maybe this year I’ll get a set for my son. Yes, a six-year old can safely use sharp knives! They learn how in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse.

Chef Coat/Hat/Apron

Of course when your kids start working in the kitchen with their new skills and new tools they will have to look the part. Last winter my oldest and I made super cute aprons for each child. They grab them whenever they help me cook. Or even just to set the table. My son likes to fill the pockets with silverware and pretend he works at a restaurant.

This year I think we might go a step up and get the older kids chef coats (like these)! My daughter wants to be a baker some day. And my son really loves to cook. They will be thrilled to look like a real baker and chef with the proper attire.

Again, it’s one more way to encourage kids to learn about food, nutrition and how to cook. It’s a win for everyone.

Cookbooks

My oldest is an avid reader. She has been since she was a few months old. I could read book after book to her when she was literally three months old. It was crazy.

Now at age nine she still devours books. One of her favorite things to read is a cookbook! It’s actually a great way to teach younger kids to read too. Get one with lots of pictures to help those younger readers (and for those that just love to see good food). Then you can look through it together or they can read on their own.

Choose some recipes to make together. Or for older kids challenge them to try a new recipe on their own for dinner some time!

Here are a few good ones:

Nourishing Meals

The Nourishing Traditions Cookbook For Children

The Nourishing Homestead

Real foodies love cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. But don't forget about the little ones. Here are my top picks for little foodie gifts.

Nutrition Books

I may be getting a bit nerdy here. But this is how important nutrition is to me. I really want my kids to understand why we eat the way we do. I want them to understand how to care for animals, how to grow our own food and how it helps our bodies. Not to mention how we eat is important for taking care of God’s holy temple.

This year for science we chose to study human anatomy and physiology. My kids LOVE it! They beg to do science every day. We just finished learning about the digestive system and are now learning about nutrition. Perfect! This is the curriculum we are using.

I know not everyone homeschools. But that doesn’t mean you can’t study nutrition! Find age appropriate books (or even “study” some cookbooks) and make time to read them often.

We love these books about eating the rainbow that are simple yet show what each color of the rainbow does for our bodies.

We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

Play Kitchen

Hands down the toy all of my kids play with the most is our play kitchen and food/dishes. We started with just a small bucket of play food when my oldest was about two. It has evolved now into a full bin of dishes and food. They make elaborate feasts and love to play restaurant.

This is the kitchen my youngest just got for her birthday. It is the perfect size for little hands. And all of this pretend play helps develop a love for working with food.

The sets that allow kids to practice cutting are great leads into real kitchen skills!

Mini Trampoline

Little foodies need to focus on health in addition to real food. A mini trampoline (like this one) is a great way to get out energy. But more than that it is wonderful for the lymphatic system. Every bounce or tap helps drain the lymph nodes.

When I did Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis for my girls one of the action items on their plan was to rebound for ten minutes every day! Kids think it’s fun. But it’s more than that. It is so good for them!

Crunchy Balm

Last on my list is another repeat from my real foodie gift list. Crunchy Balm. My son uses it daily when his legs get itchy. I love the quality ingredients (tallow and essential oils) and how well it works.

This year I think I’m getting my oldest some of the Crunchy Organics lip balm. She’s at the age where she is interested in “beauty products.” But there are very few products that I will let her use because I am picky about ingredients. I totally trust this lip balm. It’s on my list too! I ran out of my last one. It’s the only thing that keeps my lips from cracking in the winter.

And for the older crowd Crunchy Organics has deodorant too! Another product that requires careful consideration due to potential harmful ingredients. There are a few different scents so it works well for boys or girls! I think this will be another stocking stuffer for my oldest.

Time to Shop!

It’s so fun to shop for little foodies! I love encouraging my kids to understand where their food comes from and why it’s important. Let’s raise a new generation of good stewards, taking care of God’s creation. Start small with some fun Christmas gifts!

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.

We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

How Much Do Your Kids Know About Their Food?

We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question…how much do your kids know about their food?We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

We have a little joke in our house about corn.

Whenever I serve corn with a meal my husband asks, “Why did you make two vegetables?” – referring to the corn and whatever vegetable I’m serving. To which the kids quickly reply, “Corn is NOT a vegetable, Daddy! It’s a grain!”

The sad thing is that far too many people don’t actually know that. My husband and I both grew up thinking that corn was a vegetable (now he says it just to tease the kids). It may be laughable at our table, but the reality is so many kids are so disconnected from where their food comes from that they don’t even know that corn is a grain. Or that an egg is not dairy (it comes from a chicken, not a cow!).

Kids today see food that comes in boxes and bags without any idea of its origin.We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

How Will They Learn?

We are blessed to live in the country, raise our own animals and grow our own produce. Every day is a lesson in agriculture for my kids! (Though I am curious if some of the neighbors that have large corn fields know they are growing grains??)

But not everyone has that opportunity. That is why I am thankful for resources like the book Where Does a Rainbow Grow? by Kathryn Kemp Guylay. In it she uses bright colors and easy-to-read text to explain to kids where their food comes from and what to eat to stay healthy.

Real Colors!

As a family we made a decision over five years ago to cut out food dyes 100%.

No exceptions. It has made a world of difference in the neurological health of our children. So when I opened this book and the first page talks about avoiding fake colors I was hooked.

My kids love to look at the pages with brightly colored produce. They also like to answer the questions and try to name every fruit and vegetable.We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

Ever since reading Guylay’s first book Give it a Go, Eat a Rainbow my kids and I have enjoyed pointing out how many colors we eat each day. Just the other day when I put some spinach on my son’s plate he asked, “What is green good for?” It makes me so happy to know at six years old he is already learning how his food impacts his health. Green is great for bones and teeth!

Try Something New

Seeing all of the pictures has reminded me that, although we eat a wide variety of and a large quantity of produce, we still have plenty of foods we haven’t tried. Maybe we’ll grab a few new items the next time we go to the store and experiment with them.

Where Does a Rainbow Grow? would make a great addition to a home school curriculum. Or it would be a wonderful gift to share with your child’s classroom.

I firmly believe that the more knowledge we have about our food, the better choices we make and the healthier we become.

Let’s raise a generation of kids that understand where their food comes from and how they can use food to feel good. Reading Where Does a Rainbow Grow? Is a great place to start!We live in a world where food comes in boxes and bags. Which leads to the question...how much do your kids know about their food?

If you want to get your kids more involved with their food and learn how to cook check out the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse.

I was compensated for my time to review this book; however I was not paid to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

Simple Steps Towards Mom Self-Care plus a Quick Vegetable Dip Recipe

Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

I’ve been mom-wired for as long as I can remember. I wanted to play with dolls all day every day from the time I was very little. I dreamed about nursing babies instead of being a princess. I loved to make food for my siblings and their friends and would even clean up after them. I was always willing to help around the house. I would just sit in the kitchen and watch my mom bake because it fascinated me.

Real Mom Life

I can’t say a whole lot has changed since then. I now have three kids of my own. I still love to cook for them and take care of them. It’s fun to dress them in cute clothes and do fun activities with them.

My writing is much the same. It focuses on feeding kids nourishing food and working through picky eating and allergies. All of my recipes have to be kid-approved. I even wrote two books about feeding kids (check them out here)!

Putting Mom Last?

You may have noticed that one thing has been left out of all of this…myself. Yes, I am just like so many other moms. I put myself at the bottom of my to-do list.

As I write this post I’m starting day seven of my husband being out of town. With a house and farm to care for, three kids to feed and tend to, lots of activities and home schooling I bet you can imagine how much time is left to think about myself (next to none).Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

Mom Life Rocks!

I don’t say any of this to take pity on myself. It’s actually quite the opposite! I love my life. I wouldn’t change it for the world. But sometimes (ok, almost all the time) I forget that mom needs care too.

Over the last few months I have finally made it my goal to really focus on my health and making nourishing food a priority (i.e. sardines, liver and spinach for breakfast!!). It has been amazing to see my health continue to improve (even after 2 1/2 years of breastfeeding on a very restricted diet that left me worn out and depleted). I actually feel better now than I ever have. It’s a good thing since my life requires a lot of energy!

How Body Shape Fluctuates After Childbirth

Along with the  health changes have come changes in my body shape. For a while now I’ve been in a constant state of exhaustion and adrenal fatigue. This leads to skinny legs and booty with weight in the belly. Plus you lose muscle. For this once fit and active woman it was strange…but eventually became my normal. My husband and I even joked that I seemed to loose more booty and gain more belly with each child (now I know that is from being so run down)!

But as my health has been reversing back to balanced hormones and fully rested my weight is shifting back to the places it should be. I have a figure again! And now my clothes don’t fit (especially pants!).Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

What’s the Problem?

Yet one thing I still never do for myself is buy new clothes. Although it sounds trivial, when you’re wearing old yoga pants and ten year old t-shirts with holes in the armpits every day, it really doesn’t make you feel so great about how you look. It impacts your self esteem. And your kids notice. But it’s about all I have that fits.

You can imagine my excitement when I had the opportunity to partner with Stonyfield Yogurt and prAna again. I’ve worked with them in the past to help me figure out my style and learn to embrace bold. This time I combined both my love of simplicity and my need for bold colors with this royal blue dress. It fits perfectly with prAna’s celebration of #TheWholeYou. This dress is ALL me.

From the moment I pulled it out of the box I knew it would be one of my favorite pieces of clothing. Sometimes I get caught up in budgets and kids’ needs and forget that I have needs to. I am always willing to go without. I forget that a few simple pieces of clothing that actually fit and make me feel good can make a world of difference in my attitude and my confidence.Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

How to Make Time for Self Care

I want to encourage you to do something today to take care of yourself. Whether it be taking a walk alone, meeting a friend for coffee and having uninterrupted adult conversations, finishing that book that’s been half read for months, taking a yoga class, going on a date with your spouse or buying a new outfit that really makes you feel good.

Moms often forget that they have needs too. I don’t know about you, but I need a reminder once in a while (or maybe all the time) to not always put myself last. A happy, healthy mom is better able to care for her family and help create a happy, healthy home.Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

Mom Wardrobe Inspiration

I’ve got TWO ways to take mom off the bottom of the to-do list today.

First, check out prAna and buy yourself something nice. Seriously, their clothes are AMAZING. So comfortable and good quality. If you’re like me that is so important since I don’t buy new clothes often. It has to last. Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

Easy Homemade Vegetable Dip

Second I’ve got a yummy treat for you (though you can share if you want – my kids sure love it…there I go again, handing over my food to my kids). I LOVE vegetables. I always have. But I like raw veggies even more with dip. You can make this super simple dip in about sixty seconds. Jazz up your veggies with something delicious and do your body a favor with nourishing foods. It’s a win-win.

All those great vitamins in vegetables need fat for absorption. So Stonyfield full fat Greek yogurt makes the perfect base. Add some seasoning and you’ve got a great snack or addition to your lunch.Do you make mom self-care a priority or do you put yourself at the bottom of the to-do list? Here are simple steps to make mom matter!

60 Second Veggie Dip
Serves 4
A quick and nutritious veggie dip using Greek yogurt.
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Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Stonyfield whole milk Greek yogurt
  2. 1/8 tsp. unrefined sea salt
  3. 1/4 - 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  4. 1/4 tsp. onion salt
  5. 3/4 tsp. dried dill weed
  6. (optional: 1/2 tsp. desiccated liver)
  7. (optional: 1/4 tsp. turmeric)
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients. Add more garlic or onion if desired.
  2. Store in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Notes
  1. You can substitute sour cream for the yogurt
  2. This is great as a vegetable dip, chip dip or topping for tacos or nachos.
Just Take A Bite https://justtakeabite.com/

What are you doing today for some mom self-care? I’d love to hear how you make time for yourself! I have a lot to learn.

I am working with Stonyfield Yogurt and prAna on this post. I have been compensated for my time commitment but all opinions are my own.