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Mommy stuff, Yoga

Look what happens when my toddler decides to do yoga with me while I’m videotaping it!

Tatum was preoccupied in another room playing, and I was settling in to do some at-home yoga. I decided I would work on practicing my own flow, and that I would record a video of it. I have been thinking about doing a Holy Yoga Advent calendar, and I wasn’t sure if I would add flows or postures for daily challenges. So I wanted to see if I could do a flow in under five minutes that could be repeated. Also, I thought it would be a great opportunity to do a critique of my cues, tone of voice, etc. as I prepare for my trauma-sensitive practicum.

I was about halfway in when Tatum, who LOVES yoga on most days, came wandering in the room. Usually she’ll get a “mat,” um a blanket or towel, and do a down dog or a bridge posture and move on. What transpired on this day, however, was too precious not to share! Here are a few of my favorite screenshots! My family was in stitches, so I hope it brings you joy, too. Please pardon the nudity. She’s a toddler, and it’s their preferred state of being.

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As I cued to lift the left arm high to the sky, she followed suit in her own special way. (We barely knows shapes and colors so left and right is not in her practice!) I didn’t realize until after I watched the video that she was in fact actually following the verbal cue. This is the heart of yoga…doing what you hear not what you see. Evidence I need to work on my cue perhaps!

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Next, that left arm slides along the mat under the right. Clearly she’s now copying what she sees, and that can often get a young yogi into trouble.

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To open the heart, I cued the option of bringing that right hand around to the hip crease. Tatum found her own heart opener. Frankly, it looks far more relaxing.

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As usual, the attention span of a young yogi, especially for postures outside her practice, can become quite short. To keep moving her body, she created this burrito posture. It should only be attempted if your mat is wide enough to wrap around your body. Otherwise, get a blanket, roll yourself up like a burrito and breathe. This is yoga. And it’s why I love yoga so very much!

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Just be careful not to attempt burrito posture when sharing your mat as you may injure your workout partner. Thankfully she doesn’t weigh enough to pull the mat out from under me…yet!

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This is the exact moment Miss Tatum discovered she was being filmed. Unlike a normal yoga class, this was a delightful discovery for her.

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So she ran up to the camera to see herself more clearly. (Pardon the yogurt face. She’s not as fond at cleaning up after she eats, and some days, it’s not a battle I care to have. This is why I do yoga.)

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She decided to go to the back of the mat and make a run for the camera. This is a cardio interval much like a HIIT, high intensity interval training, class. We can do this sort of workout in yoga, too, but it rarely involves actual running. Thank goodness!

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We ended the class in a relaxing version of child’s pose. If you aren’t familiar with it, this version involves an actual child walking and climbing on your back. Much like the popular goat yoga, toddler yoga has many joyful and soothing benefits. Really, it does. I promise.

 

Faith, Finances, Mommy stuff, Wellness

Don’t just dream it…DO IT!

I’ve been blogging and “Facebooking” about dreaming and goal setting for years. I’m addicted to it. Truly.

Because it works!

I used to just “make a resolution.” But you know how that story goes…

Last year I found a system for setting up goals in several areas of life. I had some great success with it. But after linking arms with my friend Lisa, we combined our ideas and ditched what doesn’t work to present a program with the best tips, tricks and tools for making your dreams become a reality.

We are excited to share with you what we’ve learned and get creative during this fun session. You can click on the Eventbrite link below the flier to register now!

vision casting flier

Eventbrite - Victory Vision-casting

Faith, Mommy stuff

Better watch out: Love doesn’t require goodness

I giggled as I pulled up behind a very festive car this week with three Christmas-themed stickers on the back. Two emphatically demanded keeping “Christ in Christmas,” while a very jolly looking Santa warned that “You better be good.”

For goodness sake, we probably OUGHT to be good.

But because we cannot possibly be, God sent Jesus. The ultimate atonement for our sins — past, present and future — Jesus gives us hope that even when we try out best and can’t be good, we still represent goodness.

Little did I know several days ago when I recognized the immediate irony of the two juxtaposed messages that it would speak to the depths of my heart on Christmas.

Without divulging too many details, we had the most awful Christmas morning ever. Sure, we could have “Fakebooked” something that made it looked picture perfect. But emotions were high after our gift opening, and Dan and I did something unheard of. We left with the baby and went to church alone.

Once I was out of the house to get distance, time, and clarity to breathe, the message of goodness could seep into my every pore. The fact that Jesus came to die for my personal redemption meant that even a day was not lost. It could be redeemed.

We drove. We reflected. I cried.

A homeless woman with a sign was at an intersection. I dug in my person but could only find a single dollar.

She handed me a homemade ornament that I tried not to take. I could tell it had a message on it, and I — like always — assumed someone else needed it more than me. So prideful.

But when I tried to turn it away, she insisted and said, “My hands are clean.”

That statement about broke my heart and sent me into a new wave of waterworks.

I flipped over the ornament to find this message: “You are loved and adored by Jesus! May He bless u w/His truth, Joy, Peace and Hope!”

IMG_3594We wandered into an unexpected church — a place where we wouldn’t be asked questions about why half our family was missing, a place where I could cry if I wanted without stares.

The messages affirmed what I’d read on my homemade ornament…that a baby Jesus didn’t come for those in power, or wealth or position. He came for the lowly, the broken. He came for me.

We knew the imperfection of our morning was indicative of the entire Christmas story. We knew it didn’t matter who was at fault, because we were. And truly, there was enough blame to go around to everyone, except Tatum, of course! It wasn’t about pointing fingers. It was about forgiveness and grace.

So is Christmas. A love so great.

We went back to see if the homeless woman wanted to join us for dinner. She was gone.

Like the Christmas stickers, an ironic juxtaposition. I thought I would minister to her, but she showed me more about the love of Jesus on a rainy street corner on Christmas morning.

We arrived home eager to slather grace all over our children, assuming they would be locked in their rooms. They weren’t.

They extended grace to us. A clean house. A very amazing, special breakfast waiting on the table. A day redeemed. Relationships restored. The message of Christmas came alive in our home. What seemed like the worst Christmas ever became the absolute best.

Faith, Mommy stuff

The pain that comes with loving

My heart is so heavy right now.

The weight in my chest is making it hard for me to sleep some nights. I wake up thinking, “I can’t do it, God! I don’t think I can do it.”

In less than three weeks, I leave for Sierra Leone for a two-week mission trip with my oldest daughter. I’m thrilled for us. I’m beyond excited to see my friends who live there. I’m giddy about being part of women’s ministry and sharing the Gospel with girls and women. I am filled with an expectation for the amazing things God will do…for them, for me, for my daughter.
But I can’t mask the sadness. I cannot explain to Tatum — my 17-month-old who is my 24/7 buddy —  what’s happening. She doesn’t know I’ll be leaving soon and not returning in the morning or after a weekend. What if she cries and wants nothing to do with me when I return, as she did the first time I left for the weekend?

My heart is incredibly burdened. So I do human things….

Perhaps if I kiss her more now I’ll miss her less?

Maybe extra snuggles?

IMG_3491Can I make her giggle again today? All day? If I hear her giggling all day, I will surely feel less sad.

Will she let me hold her more today than yesterday?

I want to sit and smell her baby smell, cradle her in my arms and never let her go. I actually FEEL the impending pain of being separated from her in the quiet moments when I rock her before bedtime.

Maybe you understand or can empathize that horrible gut-wrenching feeling of being apart from your loved one. I will miss the others, too. I can barely sleep without my husband Dan next to me. And my “baby boy,” whose snuggles are becoming rare as his interest in his mom is being traded up for something better — junior high girls. He has his first “girlfriend.” And I wonder…will he be interested in a hug from me at all by the time I return?

It didn’t help when I got on Facebook and learned that today has been five years since Dan was sick — really sick, near death sick with pneumonia and sepsis.

What if something like that happens when I am away? I know how quickly health can become fragile. What a terrifying thought!

Have I told him how much I value him? Does he know I love him? What if he doesn’t know? What if something happens to one of us?

Why did I ever consider going in the first place?

Sometimes when I am honest with myself, I truly wonder.

And then God reminds me.

Love is…giving when you feel like taking. Love is…sacrifice. Love is…pain.

What, Lord? I mean, excuse me? Please, explain.

Remember when I sent my only Son to suffer a life of human condition? And if that weren’t enough, to be flogged, beaten, crushed, stabbed and suffer a miserable death on a cross? I love Him so much. But I did it because I love you, precious one. Even when you sin. Even when you’ve turned your back on me. Even when you’ve cursed me. Even when you’ve taken everything I’ve given you for granted. That’s how much I love you. I want to spend eternity with you, so I made a way. A way that came with sacrifice and pain. 

I suppose I cannot hug Tatum and Dan and Ryker enough, try as I might. There are not enough kisses in the world to express my love.

But God gives me another way — an unexpected, slightly painful sacrificial way to love. It may not be what I would choose, but in obedience, I go. I know. I’ve been. I understand. True love lays down his life. True love picks up a cross. 

No matter how many times I have done it, it hasn’t become second nature for me. It still is not easy. I think, maybe it’s because of the baby. Maybe my faith would be stronger if I wasn’t leaving her behind. But maybe she’s another way that God is building my faith. And the faith of those who are watching, my family.

I don’t know what your cross is. It might not be a two-week mission trip, but it doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without sacrifice and palpable pain. We are all missionaries when we pick up our crosses. It doesn’t look or feel like love sometimes. It is questioned by the world. Why would anyone do such a thing? Whatever your “thing” is, dear friend, I understand. I feel your pain. I know it’s hard.

But the joy that comes from obedience cannot be matched. I stand with you in sorrow and celebration for the cross you are picking up today.

Matthew 16:24-26
Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

 

Mommy stuff, Wellness

Why we won’t give wheat to our baby

The world has changed a lot since I had my first baby almost 14 years ago.

Back then, wheat was good for you. In fact, we’re still riding this “whole wheat” craze that was stirred up by — none other than — the wheat industry. It’s not a lot different than the “no-fat” and “low-fat” craze that is now being identified as a diversion tactic by the sugar industry.

It’s no coincidence that when I switched to the “dietary advice” to go from white, processed products to whole-grain breads and noodles, my weight swelled and my health became increasingly poor. So poor, in fact, that migraines, digestive issues and chronic pain became my norm. I exercised more and tried all kinds of dieting but seemed to get more puffy, tired and sick.

My health began to shift as I adopted a gluten-free lifestyle. I was still holding onto a lot of toxins (I may still be!), but between my adoption of no wheat and my lifestyle of nutritional cleansing, I’m no longer suffering from constant headaches, discomfort and digestive problems.

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When I had a baby, it became obvious to me that I would not allow her to eat wheat. It’s not just because of gluten either.

Here’s what prompted my decision:

  1. Babies produce very little amylase, the enzyme necessary for digesting grains. When a baby’s digestive system can’t absorb the food, the food will eat on all the bacteria in the gut, including the good bacteria, leading your child to become more susceptible to allergies, asthma, eczema and all kinds of autoimmune disorders. This will eventually lead to “leaky gut syndrome,” where toxins spill out into the body and cells and create neurological symptoms. Read more about this topic HERE. Also, the very bacteria that help break down and digest wheat are being destroyed by pesticides. Wheat is a difficult food on your digestive system, which houses your immune system.
  2.  Modern wheat has been tampered with to the point that celiac disease and gluten sensitivies are on the rise. This is a controversial subject, but the facts remain. I rejected my own potential to be gluten intolerant based on my faith. God made wheat. People in the Bible ate bread. Why on earth would this be a problem for me to eat? Well, wheat has a history of hybridization. In the last 50 plus years, it has been altered so that yields will increase, to resist disease and pests and to improve other processing methods in mills and bakeries. Want to know more? Click HERE. Wheat isn’t the same, and that’s why it’s becoming a problem for a lot of people.
  3. Wheat is sprayed with high numbers of pesticides. What does pesticide have in common with homicide and suicide? “Cide” means DEATH. Proponents of pesticides  will tell you the death is to pests and weeds and has no effect on humans. But there’s a relatively new practice to spray wheat with Roundup just before harvest. It increases yields, which is good news to the farmer who’s taking it to sell. Of course, it’s bad news for anyone who cares about the inherent dangers of pesticides. Pesticides are known or probable carcinogens (depending on the type), suspected hormone disruptors, neurotoxins, developmental/reproductive toxins and honeybee toxins. Wheat is killing us slowly, and dietitians are still recommending “whole wheat diets” to a largely unsuspecting audience that is experiencing more autoimmune disease, cancer, neurological disorders and obesity.  This website is a wonderful resource for not only seeing what toxicities have been tested and found in wheat but in all kinds of food. Click HERE to find out what’s in your food!

For all these reasons, I would never give wheat to a baby. I may never give my daughter wheat, but I’m certainly not ready to introduce it in her diet at her young age as she develops her own immunity and has a pure gut with lots of good bacteria. As she gets older, we may consider sprouted grains or organic wheat, but for now, I’m not only content in my decision, I want to make sure other moms understand before they make their own decision that they have a right to factual information.

 

Mommy stuff, Uncategorized

I’m proud of you, stranger SAHM

Dear stranger SAHM Mom,

What I mean is not a that you’re stranger, just that you are a stranger. I don’t know you. But I know about you. You do amazing feats like:

  • Change about 3,000 diapers a year for two-three or more years. If you use cloth diapers like me, you also spray or clean out the poo and wash 2-4 loads of diapers and reassemble them every week, too.
  • Get screamed out for 11,000 or so hours a year, and depending on the general temperament of your little one, perhaps double or quadruple that amount.
  •  Hold a child for the majority of the day while she’s teething, sick or generally not herself.
  • Prepare and cook meals, grocery shop, pay bills, clean house, chauffeur children, do laundry, volunteer and perhaps work from home….all in the midst of caring for the basic needs of your child or children.

But what you more than likely don’t do is get a congratulatory note. Or a pat on the back. Or an offer for reprieve. Or a compliment. You don’t earn “employee of the month” or have the esteem of your colleagues.

In fact, more than likely your peers think you’re crazy. Or stupid, especially if you have a degree and you could be earning a sizable income. Some might have told you they think you’re crazy or stupid or both. Some think it but are holding their tongues.

Insure.com estimates the average mom spends 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year taking care of her children, plus serving as a chauffeur, cook, nurse, homework helper, accountant, and private detective (necessary to find out what the kids are up to, of course) for a total of $65,283.81. Another similar index, created by Salary.com last year, estimated the value of a stay-at-home mom is actually $118,905.

Crazy, stupid woman who’s doing this for nothing, I ADORE you. Only recently have I begun to earn an income working from home, but I’ve been you for many of my 14 mothering years. Working for nothing. Despite a master’s degree. Despite the lack of accolades. Despite a big white space in my resume where my awards and accomplishments used to be listed year after year and they suddenly just stopped.

You don’t do it for the honors. You could care less about the recognition. In fact, you do it in spite of the negative — and sometimes toxic — environment that tries to belittle you for this choice.

I see you. I know it’s not always easy. I know the days can be long. The diaper changing and potty training can be exhausting. The crabby attitudes can wear you down like a chisel. It’s not the high road or the easy road. I know you weighed the options. I know you invested in your life and your children with GREAT SACRIFICE.

You know there is no major recognition on this side of heaven (save for your grateful spouse), and you do it anyway. For that, I adore you. I’m cheering you on, and if I could, I’d slap a certificate on your wall and your resume.

But someone would probably get peanut butter on it. So just know I’m so proud of you!

Mommy stuff

Breastfeeding is ALWAYS a battle, especially when the ta-tas are on tour

This is my baby girl. My third one. When it comes to nursing, she’s done well. But I’m not writing about her so much as I’m writing about me. I’m selfish that way.

Breastfeeding is something I’m passionate about, but it has not come easy for me. In fact, I have a love-hate relationship with it. There. I said it. The pro-nursing mommies can gasp in disgust. It’s this unspoken rule that breastfeeding is best, so it must be loved by all moms all the time. Nothing could be more untrue.

On a side note, typically I like to write victory posts with happily-ever-after type resolutions. This is not one of them. This is not like my regular writing. Because I’m not sure where I’m going from here. I may continue nursing. I may not. It may be the battle of my life if I attempt to close Tatum’s milk shop right now. My health may well depend on it, so I can cleanse and address my energy level, discomfort and toxins that are wreaking me. But I’m not sure what I’m going to do, so maybe writing this will help me sort through my options in my own head.

Here’s the thing. I hate boobies. Mine have always been lumpy. (It’s a genetic thing.) So as much as I’d like to do self breast exams for my own health, I have a really, really hard time doing it. I don’t like the feel of breast tissue. I don’t like mine touched in any kind of harsh way, which basically means bumping into me. Heck, a heavy hug can be a bit uncomfortable for my ta-tas, in all honesty.

I had NO IDEA how hard breastfeeding was going to be. Luckily for me, my boobs and babies had no idea how stubborn I could be. My stubborn nature won out, but not without a hard fight or two with each experience.

My firstborn was the most challenging. Hours after her birth, she was whisked off to the NICU where the nurses shoved a bottle in her mouth upon her arrival. She had a curled lip and trouble latching, and I had production issues. I ordered supplements from out of the country, pumped a dozen times a day (even on my commute to work), ate oatmeal every morning and did everything I could to produce milk for my baby girl….all for about 4 ounces of milk — TOTAL. Yep. I was a crazed momma. Obviously, baby one was fed a mixture of my milk and formula and weaned herself at 1.

My son was a champion nurser. Though I recall sitting in my living room staring at my bleeding nipple, crying to the lactation nurse on the phone and telling her I was over it. I. just. couldn’t. do. it. another. day. He was only six days old. Much like the phrase “I just can’t do it” in the midst of pushing baby No. 1, eventually she had to come out and I’d stick by my stubborn promise to nurse baby No. 2. By 10 days old, we were over the hump. We made it to a year with absolutely no supplemental formula needed. We did have a small bout of mastitis, which was easily treated.

This time around it had been 11 years. My memory was foggy. I thought it would be easy. Breastfeeding is, by the way, never easy. At least not in the beginning. That doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. It’s just amazing that anyone at all every makes it through the first two weeks. Any mom who does deserves A LOT of praise. It’s hard. Really, really hard. When you see a nursing mom, congratulate her. Honor her. That took so much. When you see a formula-feeding mom, congratulate her. Honor her. You have no idea what she might have sacrificed or what her reasons were that she chose (or was forced to choose) bottles over breast.

Anyhoo, back to me.

To look at this gorgeous photo, you’d think it was smooth sailing. It wasn’t. I latched her on wrong the first time she nursed and paid for it the next two days. Thankfully there were no major meltdowns right away. But a few weeks in, there was an awful diaper rash and a white tongue. It was yeast. All my pumped milk had to be dumped, and we both had to be treated.

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Aw. This sweet, sweet girl. She liked her middle-of-the-night feedings until about 9 months old. But she never nursed in excess. She just ate and was off to more important feats.

Meanwhile, a lot of my health issues were creeping back in the form of subtle symptoms and emotional baggage. Endometriosis pain returned when she was about six months old, and eventually it was accompanied by insomnia, fatigue and depression. It used to be the story of my life.

I’ve prayed about this and had conversations with friends about this. My husband and I have talked at length about this. I know my health and my ability to mother all of my children well will be so much better if I could just cleanse again, but I can’t cleanse if I’m nursing. So, am I the good mom who keeps giving her daughter breast milk as long as possible, even if it means dealing with excruciating pain and related mental health issues? Or do I stop so I can address the other issues that are probably making me less patient, zapping my energy and setting me up to be reactive and snarky because of the pain and lack of sleep?

As the date of our vacation approached, it occurred to me that the very thought of packing, making and cleaning bottles was MORE stressful for me than nursing. So that became my benchmark. Just. Make. It. To. August 7. Or maybe she’d lose interest even sooner. Just like Tatum’s siblings did.

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Here she is again. She’s so cute. She used to nurse normally like this. I can’t share a photo with you today, because she sticks her butt in the air and is constantly moving her whole body all over the place. It’s impossible to discreetly nurse her in public. lol!

This is where the story takes a turn. My girl who never lingered at the breast is suddenly very compelled to search out the boobies at any time she feels like it. Right when I had her down to three feedings a day, she learned to lift my shirt and help herself to the buffet of momma’s milk.

And if I try to push my shirt down from her tiny, white-fisted grasp, she belts out a holler of protest in her best high-pitched voice. Yep. Her first fit. Over my boobs.

That’s where we’re at…a showdown to see who will get the boobies first.

I have my hopes….still. That after our vacation, I can give her a few bottles and wean her. Maybe. Or, maybe not. Perhaps she’ll be the one to outlast me. Here’s the crazy part, I know I’ll never nurse another baby again. As much as I want to focus on my health so I can be a better mommy to all three of my children, I hate that this chapter is coming to an end. It will end.

And even though part of me wants it to end now, I’ll cry. I’ll pout. And I’ll throw my big momma fit. For now, though, me and the boobies are on tour. Tatum — I am sure — is flaunting them on our trip out east every chance she gets.