Saturday, September 6, 2014

And Just Like That Perspective Changes

Right around the time that my husband got back to the hospital to bring #3 and I home, our friend (who was also our next door neighbor) lost his life in a freak bicycle accident. We didn't learn until a few hours later at dinner, when my husband had a chance to call a mutual friend of theirs back.

Shock and disbelief. What? Wait. What?? Tears.

I can tell you that almost a month later, I still can't really believe it.

He was a truly great guy. He and his wife came from Lithuania. They were already living here when my husband (boyfriend at the time) bought this lot and started building the house. They had their second boy not long after our house was finished and my husband moved in. When we were married and had our first and then our second (boys too) my husband took them over at only a couple days old to show them off and then have a celebratory beer. And so it was planned again this time, only this time it never happened.

They are old world. We loved how they never ate out or ordered in because they remained true to their roots and didn't "get" this American food thing. Their boys, now teenagers, are full of old school behaviors and respect. They've done such a great job with them. It just breaks my heart that they have to finish growing up without him.

Every time I look out the front or the back, I'm reminded that he's gone and it just doesn't make sense. Still. He was only 42. He was full of life. Had no debt, had his house paid off...we looked up to him, my husband especially, even though he was only a few years older than us. He was a great example of how to live....and that really hit us since his passing.

We're just good ways. Our perspective, particularly on priorities, has definitely changed. Those things we used to think were important, wow, they just AREN'T. I have so many interests, so many things I want to do. And I was always looking for how to squeeze them in to my days. I still have all the same interests but I don't have a need to squeeze them in. My husband and my boys are all that I feel the need and desire to focus on. It has made my days much happier, let me tell you. I spent the greater part of the last three years feeling pretty conflicted a lot of the time. Trying and trying and trying to find the balance. I will get to all those interests again some day but I don't feel any pressure or rush like I did before. When I'm not nursing #3 seemingly all day, I will decide which interest will be my mental outlet....because I'm no dummy �� three boys...yes I will make sure to get a break.  

Speaking of the boys, our neighbor's passing timed with our son's birth seems to have made for some double whammy in terms of a real change in perspective and priorities. His death kind of opened the door for us to live again, or live more...and then a new tiny life in the house on top of it. Lots of newness in here. Plus even if I didn't have the "revelation" per se to want to put everything else aside, it kind of seems like I would have no choice anyway. I mean he will be a month old tomorrow. I still have some phone calls to return. And who knows what else seemingly super simple tasks to do. I think I even have texts to reply to. It doesn't get much more simple of a task than that and yet I haven't had a chance. 

I hate how things like this tend to fade. Remember the whole tone of the nation after 9/11? So united. We looked at life differently. We slowed down. Who's still living every day with those lenses? Some people I'm sure. Who knows if this will fade. Life tends to do that but it definitely feels like there's been a fundamental change that isn't going anywhere. 

I invite you to slow down and live every day like someone left the gate open! Hee! LOVE this pic!

Friday, September 5, 2014

My VBAC Baby (Thanks Squishy Bubba!)

Wow. It was just about everything I envisioned for the birth of my first child, except this was my third. As they say, "third time is a charm". Basically this time my body got to do what it was designed to do and all on its own timetable.

No measurable fluid at 41 weeks meant induction with my first, breech meant a Cesarean with my second. Our third was head down and doing great...a VBAC was planned and looking like a reality! I was 1-2cm and 25% at my 40 week appointment and 3.5cm and 50% at my 41 week....those two practice labors (A.K.A. "False labors") that I had in the middle of the night for a few hours in the past week were doing just what they were meant to!

Even though the majority of people in my life were practically beside themselves that the baby "still wasn't here", things were moving along at the exact right pace for my body and the I tuned them all out and continued to let my body do what it was designed to do on the schedule that God and the baby had all worked out. (After a bit of internal work on fears of repeat or new complications no doubt, thanks again Erin!) I got a massage the day before he arrived, just to put me over the edge of relaxation.

And that it did.

My water broke at 4am the next morning. This time we didn't have to rush to the hospital because the baby was head down, yay! New territory again! I chatted with the midwife on call and got back in bed to rest as much as I could before show time. Contractions began about a half hour later and by 7ish they were starting to increase in intensity. Another chat with the midwife on call with contractions around 6-7 minutes apart, led me to a quick shower to make sure things didn't slow down. slowing down or lessened intensity. What an amazing thing it was this time to basically decide when we would head to the hospital!

After getting checked in and monitored for a bit the most amazing midwife in all the land set me free and we walked together for about an hour. We went back to the room and monitored the baby for a few minutes and then walked around for another hour. Things were definitely moving right along. my midwife said I was starting to stop for a contraction at lesser door increments. Once I was stopping at about every other door we moved back to the room. I had several contractions on the birthing ball and then we moved to the tub. Our amazing doula arrived by this point and became my rock as I essentially transitioned in the tub. I also began to feel the urge to push in the tub, which I managed to breathe through a few times (hello Hypnobirthing!) but then it became far too strong of an urge. Baby had gone from -1 station to 2 in the tub so it was time to move to the bed (VBAC = no water birth). I hear I pushed for 10-15 minutes. That was um, a home run compared to the 3 hours I pushed with my first. I felt the head this time....I reached down and caught the baby this time and put him right on my chest. I delivered the placenta with no complications this time. I mean, it was just what I wanted, to very simply have a baby and that was it!

Everything went basically exactly as I had envisioned when I was pregnant with my FIRST. Yep, third time is a charm! No drugs to induce, no general anesthesia after for a D&C, no spinal for a cesarean, no whatever else drugs in my veins. NADDA! It was a dimly lit, essential oil diffusing, relaxing music, drugless, amazing birth. Transition was hard, pushing was hard. They were over so fast and then he was here, our THIRD boy! Haha! My OB popped his head in to say contratulations which was exactly the way I wanted to see his face. I love him but I didn't want him at the birth because then that meant there was a need for his talents.

I even felt fantastic afterwards; a little tired but not utterly exhausted like after my first, not sore and anxiety-ridden from drugs leaving my system with my second. Easiest birth and recovery ever...thanks little bubba!

(I didn't paint this; just love it)

If anyone in the Chicagoland area is looking for a fantastic OB/midwife practice, who happens to have amazing VBAC numbers then I highly recommend OMG Women's Healthcare in Hinsdale, IL. Love those peeps!


Friday, July 18, 2014

Get to Know Kale (Includes 3 recipes!)

I didn't grow up eating kale. I think we only started eating it, and regularly at that, about 2 1/2 years ago. It is one of the best things you can put in your body and your growing kids' bodies if you have any of those. I'm going to share a couple kale recipes at the end of this post that both my kids enjoy mucho, one of which is a raw kale salad.

Before I share a few ways to get this amazing plant in your body, I want to just touch on some of the benefits. I say "real food heals" A LOT because, well- it does. But when I think of a healing real food to start with I very often think of kale first. Eat kale on a regular basis and get an idea of how food fits into the epigenetics of your life!

Check out the top 10 benefits of kale:

1) High in fiber One cup of kale has 5 grams of fiber which makes it great for aiding in digestion and elimination. It’s also filled with just so many nutrients and vitamins like folate and magnesium (not to mention those listed below!)
2) High in iron Kale has more iron than beef, per calorie. Iron is essential for the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, the transport of  oxygen to various parts of the body, as well as cell growth, proper liver function and more.
3) High in Vitamin K Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and blood clotting. Increased levels of vitamin K have been shown to help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease as well.
4) Full of antioxidants Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
5) Great anti-inflammatory food One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
6) Great for cardiovascular support Kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
7) High in Vitamin A Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
8) High in Vitamin C This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.
9) High in calcium Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. If you are in the "cow's milk is for baby cows" camp or the "pasteurizing of dairy screwed dairy up" camp and you avoid dairy/milk then this is quite a nice way to get some calcium!
10) Great detox food  Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

Now let's talk recipes! I haven't shared my kale chip recipe yet so it will debut below and then I have a link to my most favorite kale salad recipe that came from a torn out page of a magazine that my mom brought me two summers ago. I just had some today because I had been typing up this post and thinking about the salad...and I had to get some in my belly!
Kale Chips
  • 1 bunch kale
  • grapeseed oil
  • garlic powder
  • turmeric
  • spirulina
  • sea salt or Himalayan salt
 If you don't like recipes without exact measurements then you'll not like this one! :P
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Remove kale from stem and tear it up placing in bowl
  3. Pour grape seed oil on it (if I HAD to guess an amount I would say about 1/8 c??)
  4. Massage into Kale
  5. Sprinkle garlic powder, spirulina and turmeric on kale and do some more massaging
  6. Line 1-2 (depends on how big your kale bunch is) baking sheets with parchment paper
  7. Spread kale on to sheets then sprinkle with sea salt or Himalayan salt
  8. Bake for 15-20 mins
Super Tasty and Fresh Kale Salad
I actually shared this recipe at my old blog and it can be found HERE. I have noticed that sometimes the dressing if "off" and I think it just depends on how big the fruits are and how big the kale bunch is. I never measure anything...sorry!
I think my favorite thing about this salad is the dressing. It's just so simple and fresh! The juices from the fruits end up mixing with the olive oil, the juice from the tomato and the salt and it just makes it one of the tastiest "salad dressings" I've ever had. My 4 and 2 year old even gobble it up...that's like the biggest win of ALL wins! Raw kale salad in their bellies? YES PLEASE!!
Here's a pic from today's salad that I'm sad is gone now, haha! I spy tomato, green onion and is that BACON? Yes, yes it is!

Green Smoothie
  • small bunch kale
  • small bunch spinach
  • 1-2 green apples
  • 1 banana
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 6-8 ice cubes
  • pinch spirulina
I have made this in a regular blender and a Vitamix. If you don't have a Viatmix you'll need to chop up the apple a bit
Blend it all up and drink it :P

Have I ever mentioned that my favorite color is green? I mean LOOK at it!

What are your favorite ways to eat kale?

If you'd like to grow your own kale no matter what size yard you have, grab a Kale Grow Bag Set from Gardenuity! The Kale will ship separately as live plants and they will be ready to harvest shortly after planting. Then you can reuse the grow bag next year or use it to plant herbs for indoors over the winter. Win win! Go get your kale on peeps!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Crap Free Cleaning Supply Sale!

What the heck is crap free cleaning you say? Well you know cleaning without the chemicals.... Cleaning supplies that are just about as basic as you can get, silver embedded cloths and water. The super crazy absorbent cloths draw/pick up EVERYTHING and the silver destroys it. The end. 

I use the kitchen cloths, Basic Household Kit and the Mop system the most, by far. These have made cleaning so much easier.....and more thorough. I was pretty sad to find out that even my beloved vinegar doesn't clean as well as these cloths. That's a tough pill to swallow for a gal like me. BUT I have moved on and made my peace :P Mostly because now the house doesn't smell like vinegar AND it's more clean. 

Kitchen cloth (comes in more colors):

Household Package (enviro cloth, window/polishing cloth, dust mitt....cleans 90% of your house):

Mop System (no more buckets!! Just need to wet the blue mop cloth!):

I have a 4 and 2 year old and don't need to worry about them getting their hands on even my "natural cleaners" because this stuff just uses water! Wahooooo!

Peruse the products here:

***From now until July 24, 2014 I am offering a special discount to anyone who wants to order anything! Please message me at for more information (can't post the discount here, but it's quite nice I assure you!).***

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Betterfingers Recipe

I originally made these from Chocolate Covered Katie's recipe. I tweaked it when I made them and kind of ate them all. Ok most of them. They were for the boys' homemade, crap-free Easter baskets. These were my favorite of all the things I made.

  • 1/4 cup pure grade b maple syrup 
  • 1 tbsp organic molasses (regular, or blackstrap for bars high in iron)
  • 3 1/2 tbsp evaporated cane juice or maple syrup
  • 1 cup organic peanut butter, crunchy or creamy (Almond or cashew butter will work; but the flavor just won’t be as close to that of the popular candy bar we are "recreating" here.)
  • 1 1/2 cups organic gluten free flake cereal
  • 1/8 tsp salt 
  • optional topping: Enjoy Life chocolate chips 
1) Combine first three ingredients in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil on medium heat. 
2) Boil about a minute, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. 
3) Add the peanut butter and salt, and stir until it makes a paste. 
4) Add the cereal and stir very well to coat, partially crushing the cereal flakes as you stir. 
5) Make sure the flakes are very evenly coated. 
6) Press into an 8×8 pan—either lined with wax or parchment paper, or greased very well—and freeze until completely hardened. (Cut into bars while only somewhat frozen, or thaw the block a little before cutting.) 
7) If you wish to cover in chocolate you can cover them at any time—either pre-cutting or post-cutting. 
Simply melt the chocolate chips over low heat. Sometimes I add in about a 1/4c of cocoa butter because yum.
8) Then spread over the bars, refreeze.
9) Store in the freezer for optimum “snap.” 

Makes 12-16 “betterfinger” bars.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Powerful Parsley

It's ironic that the sprig of parsley used to decorate so many plates at restaurants is often the most nutritious thing on the plate...and it's usually tossed aside and left behind. Do they even decorate with those anymore? Am I dating myself? We don't eat out much anymore so I'm not sure!
Parsley comes in the curly leaf and flat leaf variety. It's is one of, if not the best, carotenoids that nature provides. It also contains phytonutrients and flavonoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, apiole, rutin and apigenin, which are know for their anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory capabilities.
It is also rich in chlorophyll, a phenomenal compound that happens to have a striking similar molecular structure to human blood (hemoglobin), which it helps build. This often under appreciated herb is also high in vitamin A, B, C, and K, folate and iron. It also has high beneficial levels of those minerals that today's processed food is just about always lacking, like calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, vanadium, and zinc.
This little wonder leaf has a whole list of health benefits. Here are just a few:
  • When consumed regularly the vitamin C in parsley helps prevent hardening of the arteries/atherosclerosis. It also helps protect against common inflammatory problems like RA and osteoarthritis. Vitamin C is an excellent immune booster and parsley contains more of that than even oranges.
  • Parsley is a great detoxifier and it happens to help with bad breath which can be an indication of a toxic colon. It has a diuretic effect which helps prevent kidney stones and urinary tract problems plus helps remove the toxins from the body through urination.
  • This herb can particularly help with the female monthly cycle. Snacking on parsley the days before menstruation can help increase urination and eliminating excess fluid that cause bloat or water retention.
  • The high concentration of anti-oxidants in parsley helps neutralize carcinogens by reducing free-radicals and free-radical damage.
  • Folate in parsley is an excellent nutrient for cardiovascular health. It acts by helping protect blood vessels and reducing the risks of heart attack, via conversion of potentially dangerous homocysteine into harmless molecules. 
There's SO much more!

Here's a few tips for consuming this herb.
  • When cooking pasta, flavor the water with chopped parsley. The phytonutrients released into the boiling water get absorbed into your pasta just like the sea salt you add.
  • Taking parsley in juice form (along with other juices) will give you the most nutritious bang for your buck.
  • When garlic and parsley are eaten together they provide a synergistic boost to the immune system, aid digestion, and function as a natural antibiotic, antiviral and antifungal. Garlic and parsley pair well together so get creative with your cooking!
For an easy peasy way to grow your own pesticide free, non-GMO parsley to use at your leisure, check out these super attractive parsley "grow boxes" from Gardenuity!
We like to eat parsley in our salad, or in a salad dressing made with a little lemon, tahini, sea salt and garlic!
Parsley juice is extremely potent so it shouldn't be taken by itself, and usually no more than 1 oz every day. When you are making your wonderfully tasty green juices, add the parsley in instead of having a shot alone. If you have never done a detox then you will want to take extra caution when drinking this juice. Pregnant and nursing women should avoid taking this very potent juice.
Parsley may be high in oxalic acid, so it should not be consumed by individuals who have kidney stones. Avoid mixing with it other high calcium food, because when oxalic acid is combined with calcium it becomes inorganic.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A "Hands Free Mama" Book Review...mostly

The end of January was the beginning of a personal growth journey for me. I spaced myself from Facebook and I worked on getting organized. I also bought the book Hands Free Mama by Rachel Stafford. I started reading it some time in February and two nights ago I finished it. 

She recommends doing one chapter a week and really digging in to the challenges within each chapter. I did some combination of that and reading several chapters at once because life that's why. There would have been a time when I would have been bothered by the fact that I wasn't reading it "right", which says a lot to me because it's just a book; there ARE no rules to reading books. I realized as I read this book though that it would not be the only time I read it. I wonder how many times I will read it before my first child starts school and how many times before my last starts school...before they finish school.... It will become a tattered looking and well-loved book.

I can't recommend this book enough, honestly, but with that recommendation is another to not read it only once. If you are a mom in the Facebook age then odds are you know the draw that website has. Especially if you are a stay at home mom. Interacting on FB sometimes becomes the way we got to socialize with adults that day....if we let it be the way we socialize with adults that day. Cell phones still make calls. Neighbors still live next door. 

This book is not a quick fix, which is WHY she recommends reading it slowly and really diving in and doing the work. And this is why I will be re-reading it however many times. This first time through, certain things jumped out at me and spoke right to my soul. The next time I read it I fully expect other things to speak more clearly to me. We can only handle so much information at once, we can only change so much. There was also a time when I would have stressed out about the fact that after reading the book once I wasn't completely changed or that I didn't remember everything I read. Good gravy woman....and I used to wonder why I don't feel like my normal fun goofy self the past two years. I think too much and don't "just be" enough; that's basically why. 

I literally praise God for helping me in that area, especially the past couple weeks. God's helping hand, Rachel's book and a program of study with an amazingly gifted coach has brought me to a place where I have found "the old me"! It feels so.good! Yesterday, I had the best day I have had, physically and mentally, in longer than I care to admit. And we didn't go anywhere special, we didn't do anything special...I didn't receive any special or exciting news (in fact if anything I received some kind of crappy news). It was a run of the mill day at home with my two little guys and it was one of my favorite days in a really long time. 

I had no personally placed and uneccesary weights on my shoulders. I just let go and let be. I stopped thinking about my time table and relished the perfect timing of God. We ate yummy banana pancakes with strawberries then went outside for 2 hours and enjoyed the energy and healing of the sun, listened to the birds, got wide eyed and looked all around when we heard a plane then get even more excited when we saw it and we waved, we played with the water table and got very wet, we came in and ate lunch then played with a train set and laughed and "beed silly", we looked at books and yes we even watched TV, "Mickey Ouse Bubhouse" is one great show you know!

Those are the days I want more of and will have more of! I will still have days where I feel like I didn't hit the mark but I'm human so I'm allowing myself grace on those days, at those times, instead of just beating myself up like a big huge bully. I have embraced this journey and look forward to learning more each time I read the book and each time I repeat the program with my coach ("tanks coach!" Cool Running, anyone?). 

I started writing this post not long after I woke up and had to stop and center myself and tap into "that place". It's a place where if my kids wake up before this is done, it's no big deal. A place where I check to see what weights I have on my shoulders right now and if they actually need to be there before I get out of bed. A place where, after the basic needs are met a.k.a I'm sure that the mom me can take a breather, the kid me comes out to play. It's a place where I remember life doesn't have to be so serious and there's really not nearly as much as I thought that NEEDS to be done aside from keeping my kids alive (have you met our 'Dozer??), filling our bellies and being there for them while they still want me to be there. I started clearing the day of most of things that I thought I needed to do and replaced it with observing each of my children throughout the day. Moments of active was like I had new eyes. From features on their face to the way they interacted to the way they solved a problem...on and on. If you ever found yourself to be a "people watcher" and haven't watched your littles with the same curious observance you really should give that a whirl!

So here we are with June right around the corner. Back at the end of January when I started my "personal growth" journey I had a goal of being "mostly" balanced by the end of the year because I anticipated that if I really did this, it would take some time and practice. I was just going to say that I feel like I'm "on track" for the most part...but then that implies that there's some specific point to be at at a specific time. Humbug. That's old me thinking. See? No quick fix. A lot of stopping to be aware what's going on, aware of what thoughts are being entertained...and then a big part is not judging whatever is discovered. Just more observance, more awareness and then a choice. Life changing I tell ya! Therefore instead of saying I feel on track, I will say that I just feel good about where I'm at on the journey. I know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be and I will stay where I'm supposed to be as long as I'm being honest with myself and "doing the work". 

It's been a great year! Even with some pretty low lows on the Rachel says, "the truth can hurt, but the truth heals." Amen sister! And I thank you again, Rachel, from the bottom of my overflowing heart! (P.S. My oldest, who just turned 4 about a month ago, embraced before bed "talk time" instantly! He LOVES it! And oh my, so do I.)

Anyone who hasn't read the book yet, I highly recommend that you do. And I also highly recommend buying it, reading, and re-reading it until it falls apart. You can also check out her amazing blog here: