• Summer Time

     

    Before I had a kiddo, summer time always felt a little discombobulated.   The “normal” routine disrupted by children not in school, vacations, and friends wanting to escape the Austin, TX heat.  But now that I have a 3 year old who just spent her first year at “school,” the summer time vibe is chaotic.  I’m learning that summer time is a constant scheduling jigsaw puzzle. Between swim lessons, summer camps, babysitters, later evening bedtimes, trips and work, I’m living in a state of reaction.  And my little one is only 3!  Please tell me you can relate?

     

    Oh, the dreamer in me dreams how nice it would be to check out for the summer and rotate between mountain and beach houses – then reality sets in. I don’t own either!

     

    So now I’m simply (although easier said than done some days) embracing summer one day at a time. Trying to slow down and enjoy the chaos knowing this too shall pass. That I will look back with a smile, remembering that this was the summer Landrie really learned to swim. This was the summer she got to meet Mickey Mouse with her cousins in Disneyworld. This was the summer she discovered her love of lemon sorbet. This was the summer, I learned to settle into the craziness and let go.

     

  • The Greatest Adventure

    My little one is 3 today. Three years she’s been on this earth. Three years I have been a mom.  I remember being told when she was born, “The days are long, BUT the years are short.”  True dat!

    Not exactly sure when you transition from saying “Toddler” to “Preschooler”. Heck, I was just getting used to saying “Toddler” instead of “Baby”.  Maybe it’s when they stop toddling around and run everywhere? If that’s the case, than “Preschooler” it is.

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    A few “What I’ve Learned So Far On This Mommy-Hood Journey ” :

    • Clothes on a child with “clean” stains is better than no clothes on a child.
    • Clothes on mom with “clean” stains is better than no clothes on mom.
    • Arriving is the cake. Being on time is the icing.
    • Plans evolve around nap and bed time.
    • The car seat cover is difficult to wash – way too many straps to remove.
    • The importance of grace for myself and others. It is okay that my car smells like pee.
    • Replying to a non-work text within a week is the new normal.
    • When in doubt, play and laugh.
    • Dry shampoo is essential.
    • The only thing constant is change.
    • A glass of wine makes everything better.
    • They grow up way too fast.
    • I will rest when I’m dead.
    • It’s the greatest adventure yet.

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  • Learning how to Learn

    After having a baby and being north of 40 years old, I just assumed that my brain could only handle so much information. That forgetfulness was part of growing older and I was too old to learn/remember something new.  The only learning and remembering going on in my household was from my toddler. (Know who the fastest learners are?  You guessed it — young children)

    “LIVE AS IF YOU WERE TO DIE TOMORROW. LEARN AS IF YOU WERE TO LIVE FOREVER.” ―MAHATMA GANDHI

    The past few months, I’ve been learning how to learn.  Something I realized, I never learned to-do — learn how to learn.

    After listening to this podcast – Meta Learning, Speed Reading, & How to Learn Faster with Jim Kwik, I was intrigued that my belief that I lacked memory due to age was a myth and the notion that I could still learn how to learn was sprouted.

    Unfortunately, our smart phones have made us less brain-dependent and more technology dependent.  Before smart phones, I actually had to remember phone numbers or directions. Now I just have to remember the person’s name I’m wanting to call or text and pray their number is saved in my phone.  And directions, the most my memory has to stretch is to remember the address to type it into WAZE and hope that my phone is charged.

    I’ve learned that we lose what we don’t use.  If you want to increase your learning power, you must start exercising that brain “muscle”.

    As a result of the podcast, I signed up for Kwik’s FREE 3-part online training system which eventually led me to signing up and completing the 12 week Kwik Masterclass.  

    A learning acronym from Kwik that resonates is M.O.M.

    M – Motivation — Why do you want to learn something? Learning is state dependent.

    O – Observation — Be present. Pay attention

    M – Mechanics —  Learn techniques to learn. Find best practices. Such as: the location method – LOCI, alpha numeric system & association

    Now, I certainly don’t have all the methods mastered that Kwik teaches in his course. I will probably repeat sections of it again. Sometimes, repetition IS a part of the learning game.

    What I like is that it lite a fire in my brain. It challenged me during the course and is challenging me now to get out of my comfort zone —  to start using my brain.  I’m finding that my brain is complacent and relies more then it should on my ‘stupid’…smart…phone.

    What I learned and hope is an encouragement is that learning IS remembering.  Memory is a verb, not a noun.  One’s memory is not fixed. Your brain can hold as much information in it as you want and believe it can hold. Just ask my little girl.

    – Jim Kwik

    “If you fight for your limitations, you get to keep them.” ― Jim Kwik

    It requires intention, curiosity (observe a 2 year old), imagination (listen to a 2 year old), stomping the ANTS (automatic negative thoughts) as well as applying new learning techniques. Oh and you are never too old to learn.

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  • Do rewards and praise do more harm than good?

    Being that my once sweet little baby has turned into an opinionated helper/ wannabe self-sufficient toddler, I found myself struggling with the everyday tasks and best ways to handle them.  Then I discovered a bit of a mind-shifting podcast “Your Parenting Mojo” by Jen Lumanlan. It features research-based ideas to help kids thrive.  Parenting is very humbling. It consistently challenges my old beliefs. It challenges how I naturally want to react to toddler behavior —  pleasant or unpleasant.

    The first year of Landrie’s life could be summed up as the year of survival — for both me and her — not much “parenting” going on.  Knowing I would soon need to “parent,” I tried to equip myself with as many foundation parenting tools in the toolbox as possible. Like –Listen: Five Tools to Meet Your Everyday Parenting ChallengesNo-Drama Discipline and How to Talk so Little Kids Will Listen — a survival guide to life with children ages 2-7.  (Audible is my BFF!)

    My primary takeaway from these books is that discipline can occur without having to punish. It is all about finding ways to connect with your child.  Discipline is meant for redirecting and teaching while punishment is to inflict/produce pain. Funny, when I examined my beliefs on those two words, I had confused them as meaning the same thing. I thought you needed to have some type of punishment (ie. time out) in order to produce discipline.  Tantrums, tensions and tears are part the growing up process.  You are only fooling yourself as a parent if you think the three T’s are avoidable.  This is a new, exciting world to explore and discover that comes with lots of emotions. These emotions need to be experienced and boundaries need to be pushed. Heck, even as an adult, I too have my tantrums, experience tension and shed many tears.

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    SO okay, when the time came for discipline, I was somewhat armed with a few redirecting, “holding the limit” & connecting tools to begin handling misbehavior.  With all my focusing on the misbehavior tools, I neglected paying much attention to tools for the “good” behavior.  I found myself starting to say to Landrie — “if you do this, then you can have that” when she wasn’t doing something I wanted her to-do.  At first it was nice —  when she wasn’t doing something I wanted her to do, I would dangle a reward and she’d snapped into a most compliant child.  But then I listened to Lumanlan’s podcast 009: Do you punish your child with rewards? Yikes! I was convicted that what I was starting to implement with the “do this and get that”  or the “good job” was just as harmful as a punishment and really wasn’t effective long-term.  Actually, what I was doing was manipulating the situation.  I was wanting to be in control. I wanted to have things done MY way without considering why Landrie wasn’t doing what was asked of her.  The 23 minute podcast referenced Alfie Kohn’s book — Punished by Rewards which left me wanting to learn more about the research behind this strategy of no rewards and what to-do instead.

    Kohn writes about how rewards are ineffective and can be harmful in the workplace, schools and parenting — all very fascinating. I was most interested in the parenting sections.  He demonstrates, through research, that the moment a child is given a reward for a behavior, their focus moves to the next reward instead of the behavior they are being rewarded for.  Apparently, we’ve been duped into thinking that we can motivate our children long-term with rewards.  The carrot on the stick or the treat for rolling over are hurting us more then helping us.  Motivation, creativity and curiosity come from within — and the minute that one attaches a reward for a “good” behavior — ie: sitting quietly, practicing the piano, doing your homework — then that reward shuts down the traits we are diligently trying to instill — motivation, independence, kindness, generosity, creativity and curiosity.

    A strategy that relies on punishment or consequences prompts a child to wonder, “What am I suppose to do, and what will happen to me if I don’t do it?” A strategy based on rewards leads the child to ask, “What am I supposed to do, and what will I get for doing it?”.  — Alfie Kohn

    As parents we often feel the need to say something for good behavior — “Good Job!” or “Good Sharing!”. When really it’s okay to be quiet.  I’ll say it again — it’s okay to be quiet. We don’t always have to acknowledge and praise everything our children do.  Kohn says  what we are really doing is creating  “Praise Junkies.” Instead, what you can do is say what you saw (I like how you drew the nose on that face) or ask more questions (What part of your drawing do you like the best?).  For more examples on what to say instead of “Good Job,”  Parent Coach – Nicole Schwarz has a list of 50 ways to say good job without saying good job.

    This is not easy!! I, too, am learning as I go. The struggle is real. Most school mornings, I really want to say, “If you get in the car now, then I will give you a sticker.” Followed up with a “Good Job!” after she gets in her car seat. Instead I’m reminded of Punished by Rewards and say, “Please get in the car, we need to get going. Otherwise, you will be late to school.” —  and herding my toddler out the door.  BUT, guess what?, I’m learning as I strive to show her unconditional love and respect— she gets in the car.

    “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” — Maya Angelou

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  • Loss and Hope

    It has been almost a year since I wrote anything on this site. Last year, I was excited about all this site could and would be – then life happened. 2018 has been a deflating year.  We were excited to learn last December that we were pregnant with our 2nd child,  but then bad news hit us in January that we miscarried.  

     “Miscarried? I don’t understand? Are you sure Doctor? I’m super healthy, how can this be?”

    Even at 39 years old, I had no problems getting pregnant with Landrie or staying pregnant. Probably, like most women, I never imagined that I would have a miscarriage. I remember thinking I’m going to rock this pregnancy.  Oh, how life doesn’t always go as you plan.

    My body didn’t naturally miscarry  and I ended up having a D & C in February.  The loss — the loss of losing a child that you never got to meet. The loss of all the future experiences you never got to have. The anger and questioning of why me? 

    Certainly, lightening doesn’t strike twice? We figured after my body recovered, we’d try again for a 2nd child.  July we were cautiously optimistic when the pee stick read “pregnant”.  Because of the previous miscarriage, we were at the OBGYN office at week 6 to make sure everything was on track.  The 6 week appointment was promising, but a little too early to tell. They suggested I come back the next week. The 7 week ultrasound found a heartbeat. Not a strong one, but a heartbeat. The OBGYN thought that the heartbeat was slow because it was recently formed and suggested I come back again the following week. The 8 week ultrasound delivered bad news  — still a heartbeat, but weak and no growth since the last ultrasound.  I was told this pregnancy was not viable.

    “What? No, no this is not suppose to happen! I already had a miscarriage — why don’t I get to have another baby??”

    I immediately called a friend of mine that I knew had gone to a fertility specialist.  She suggested a few fertility doctors to see.  Still being pregnant but it not being viable, I scheduled an appointment with one of the fertility doctors.  Gideon and I were in with the fertility specialist that following week.  She was great and went over different options for us.  However, she said we must take care of the current situation – pregnant but not viable. She did another ultrasound and confirmed that there was no longer a heartbeat. From there she explained a procedure called MUA (Manual Uterine Aspirator) — less invasive then a D&C. We could do this in her office and she would send the tissue off for genetic testing.  I was back in her office the next week for a MUA.  As she was doing the procedure, I remember her asking me how I was doing — and my response was I am sad.

    “Why Lord? Why allow me to get pregnant to just take another baby away from me?  — feels like a cruel joke.”  —  For I know the plans that I have for you, declares the Lord plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope — Jeremiah 29:11

    The genetic testing reveled triosmy 16 .   It’s the most common trisomy leading to miscarriage. Probably what happened with my first miscarriage.  Doesn’t make me feel any better. 

    I know miscarriage is common —  1 in 5 pregnancies end in a miscarriage. Doesn’t make me feel any better. 

    My eggs are 42 years old. Reality is setting in that my window to have another biological child has closed.  I never worried before about my age and being able to have a child.  In retrospect, I guess I should have been.  We did look into IVF — the odds aren’t in our favor & honestly, I don’t think I have the emotional strength to endure it. 

    So now, I just sit. Sit in the loss. Sit in the anger. Sit in the sadness. Sit in the knowing I have two babies waiting for me in Heaven. Sit in the gratefulness of having a healthy child.  And sit with the Lord  — I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. — Psalm 130:5

  • Camel Milk

    Yep, you read correctly — Camel Milk!  When my little turned one, I decided to introduce camel milk to her.  I’m not a milk drinker (lactose intolerant).  I knew regular cow’s milk wasn’t going to work for us.  My mom says I was a colicky baby and had to remove cow’s milk from my diet. A perfect example of unhappy stomach means unhappy little.

    That leads me to the introduction of camel milk.  A main draw was that camel milk is considered hypoallergenic.  Similar to human milk and unlike cow, sheep & goat’s milk, it doesn’t contain any β-lactoglobulin (whey protein) . β-lactoglobulin tends to be the main cause for milk allergies in individuals.  In a preliminary study, camel milk was shown an option for those who are lactose intolerant to cow milk.  Those individuals were able to digest camel milk with little to no side effects. I can concur, when I drink camel milk, I don’t have the same bloating, gassy reactions that I do after consuming cow milk.

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    Camel milk is nutritionally packed. It’s high in amounts of anti-bacterial, anti-viral substances such as lactoferrin, immunoglobulins and lysozyme; Translation: the good guys that help defend against infections.  It’s also packed with nutrients such as potassium, magnesium, copper, sodium, zinc, iron, B vitamins, and three times the amount of vitamin C of other milks. For more information on the nutritional value, click here .

    Amazingly, there are claims that camel milk is healing for those diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  One double-blinded study found that after 2 weeks of consecutive camel milk consumption, significant changes were detected.  Another mother reports the dramatic changes she witnessed in her ASD son after consuming the “miracle” milk.  There are also studies showing it to have favorable effects on diabetes.

    At the least, I figured, I couldn’t go wrong with trying it out.  I approached it as being the same trial and error as most things with a little.  After much research, it seemed to be the best route with minimal downside.  I started with a lightly pasteurized version and later transitioned to the raw variety.

    Where to buy Camel Milk? Online is the only way for most. If you have or know of a camel farm close to Austin, Tx, would you please inform me about it?  One thing to mention, it is a bit pricey.  Since camels have long pregnancies and their gestation periods can last 12-15 months (and I thought 10 months was long!), it takes longer to produce a lactating camel.  Then they only lactate for about a year with their calf.  In addition, there are not that many camel farms in the US — most are Amish Farmers, but not all.  Hmmm — maybe a new venture for me?

    Here are the places I have ordered from:

    • desertfarms.com — They source from numerous camel farmers throughout the US.  They offer lightly pasteurized, raw, frozen or fresh.
    • camelmilkassociation.org —  Amish turned Mennonite family in Michigan. They have the best customer service —  someone even answered the phone when I called on a Saturday morning with an ordering question.  In order to purchase camel milk from them, you have to become a member, which is $25 and includes a lifetime membership. They offer fresh or frozen as well as glass bottles.

    From my 9 months’ observation of daily (3- 4oz) camel milk for my little, she seems to be doing positively well on this milk.   If you are looking for an alternative to cow’s milk, I suggest you try camel milk.

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    In the Christmas spirit, one must wonder if the three “wise” men also drank camel milk.  

     

  • A girl and her dog

    I didn’t grow up with dogs. I didn’t even know I really liked dogs until my mid-twenties and 1st marriage. My husband at the time came with a golden retriever. Then, we adopted a female chocolate lab puppy that I named Gucci (my one and only Gucci item).  Unfortunately, I lost both dogs in the divorce. To this day, if I think of Gucci (whom I assume is probably in doggie heaven by now), I smile picturing my ex hunting with the boys and chocolate lab yelling, “Gucci!”. It’s the little laughs in life.

    About a year without a dog, I decided it was time to adopt one. I knew I wanted to “rescue” a dog, but wasn’t up for the pound or a puppy.  I was afraid if I went to the local shelter, I would end up with a dozen dogs. Too difficult to pick one dog out of many needy ones.  I also knew I couldn’t handle a puppy by myself.  (LAUGHING! —  looking back, I thought a puppy was too difficult? That was obviously before I had a baby).  I decided on a golden retriever rescue organization called Gold Ribbon Rescue.  I filled out my application, conducted the home interview, and was approved…then waited.  Months later, I finally got a call saying they had a perfect match for me.  They had an approximately 1-year-old male, underweight, tested positive for heartworms, golden retriever that had been picked up around a dumpster in an area South of Austin.   His foster family appropriately named him Jett — a fitting name for a dog that would jet out the door if left open.

    Jett 2016

     

    The first few weeks with Jett I remember thinking this is hard. How am I supposed to take care of a dog (all by myself), especially with heartworms?? —  Once again, laughing!  After surviving the first year as a new mom, taking care of Jett was a breeze.

    Fast forward 10 years — remarried with a baby and Jett. Not only did my life change, but Jett became a big brother at the ripe old age of 10 (or in human years – 70?!?).  Other moms whose starter children were four-legged would often say to me just wait — your four-legged child gets neglected when baby arrives.  Oh, Poor Jett — the first 6 months of Landrie’s life, I barely remember him being around.   Don’t worry, he survived — but so true, they do take a back seat to the new little in the house.

    landrie and Jett

    Landrie loves her Jett.  Her first words were “Dog” and “Jett”. (Yep, I’m still working on “MOMMY” –sigh.)  When Landrie wakes up in the mornings, she eagerly yells “JETT!” and waits for him to arrive at her crib. Landrie seems to think you need to yell when you say his name. (Wonder where she gets that from?)

    It’s amazing how gentle, sweet, and patient Jett is with her — she is the only “baby” he’s ever been around.  Jett puts up with her laying, hugging, and sitting on him all day long. Granted, he’s loving the fact that he gets to clean up Landrie’s food messes that end up on the floor and take advantage of the numerous stroller walks.  Not all bad for the old dog.

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    What an amazing playmate and big brother Jett has become to Landrie.  Although, the start of this journey began with just Jett and me — I couldn’t have picked a better dog for my little girl.

  • The Perfect Toddler Park Outfit

    One of Landrie’s favorite things to do is be outside — especially at our local park.  Her go-to attire tends to be anything Hanna Andersson. We love that you can mix and match most of the shirts and leggings. In this unpredictable Texas weather, a baseball cap is a must for protection from the sun as well as a jacket if it turns cold. Oldsoles shoes  is an Australian company who’s philosophy is style, comfort and protection for growing feet. Lastly, a Pura water bottle — stainless steel, no plastic!

    landrie outfit w jacket

    Baseball cap. target | Pura Water Bottle. amazon | Rocket Shirt. hannaandersson | Polka Dot Leggings. hannaandersson | Old Soles Shoes. zappos | Burt’s Bee Jacket. amazon

  • Healthy Pumpkin Muffins

    The holidays are approaching ever so fast. That means it’s time to bring out the pumpkin recipes. Here’s a recipe I have tweaked to make a healthy alternative to the standard sugar, vegetable oil laden ones — Landrie approved!

    landrie eatingmuffinPicMonkey Image

    landrie enjoying her pumpkin muffin

    What you need: 

    12 cup muffin pan

    Parchment paper liners — I use these, click here*

    16 oz organic pumpkin – I like this one, click here*

    4 eggs

    1/4 cup honey

    1/4 cup coconut oil*melted (tip — while the oven is preheating, place your coconut oil in an oven safe cup in the oven – this allows it to melt without having to use a microwave or the stove)

    1/2 cup coconut flour*

    1/4 tsp of clove, nutmeg & cinnamon

    1/2 tsp vanilla

    1/4 tsp salt

    1/4 tsp baking soda

    4-5 scoops of Vital Protein Collagen Peptides —  click here*

    What to-do:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Mix all ingredients. I prefer to mix the “wet” ingredients first, then add the “dry” ingredients.  Scoop mixture into each lined muffin cup.

    Bake for 25 minutes.

    Enjoy!

    (because there are no preservatives, best to store muffins in the fridge after they have cooled)

    *THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS. YOU CAN SEE MY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT ON THE ABOUT PAGE, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

     

  • Mommy’s Meditation

    Who’s not busy? Selling real estate, raising a little one, being married, maintaining friendships, tackling the never-ending to do list, just plain living — require time and energy.  Some days I feel like I can do it– other days, it feels like I am failing at it all.  A common thread I find with the outcome of my days, is how I start them.

    That brings me to meditation — what’s the big deal?

    An interesting Harvard meditation study reveled that after 8 weeks of a daily (on average 27 minutes), mindfulness meditation program, there were significant positive changes in the brain regions associated with memory, sense of self, empathy and stress.  This study proves utilizing MRI technology that the brain’s gray matter is literally rebuilt for the better in a short 8 weeks (to read more on this study, click here).

    From the Bible, Apostle Paul writes, “Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). Joshua back in 1400-1370BC, emphasizes that we are to meditate on God’s law day and night (Joshua 1:8).

    Well if Harvard and more importantly, God, are telling me my life will be better if I meditate, then I figured I’d better check this out.

    A few years ago — pre-baby– I decided I really wanted to learn how to formally meditate.  If you know me, then you know, I’m a take action gal.  So, I signed up for an online meditation course == zivaMind (to learn more about the course, click here*). For 8 days, I would wake up to a new email video from the instructor, Emily Fletcher.  It was prefect and easy to follow.  That was all fine and dandy and fairly easy to implement PRE-BABY – heck, I would sometimes meditate 2x in a day (I know, crazy right? Who has that time???)  Then baby arrived and if I closed my eyes for a few minutes, I was going to fall sleep — not meditate.

    Needless to say, in this season of life, my mindfulness meditation practice or quiet time (lol, quiet time with a toddler?!?) has changed.  Some days, it’s a minute of gratitude while I’m finally going to the bathroom or a Hail Mary prayer for the Lord to get me through the day.  Every once in a while, I catch a lucky break in the morning and wake up before the house – then I can actually sit for at least 10 minutes with eyes closed, breath, calm my mind followed by prayer, a short devotional and journal writing.

    landrie journal 1

    The point is, as I continue to grow up (which I think takes a lifetime), I’m learning (perhaps with the help of the rebuilt gray brain matter from meditation:)?)  that my years, my weeks, my days are actually my choice, maybe not always the circumstances but the mindfulness and how I handle the circumstances.  I get to choose my attitude. I get to choose to be grateful even when I don’t feel like it. I get to choose what kind of spouse, parent, friend, person I want to be. No mater if I get 1 minute or 20 minutes of meditation or quiet time in the mornings.

    Not sure where to start? Here are a few tools to help you get your day off to a good start:

    1. Check out the zivaMind (click here*) online course. If you can find the time, it really is a great course (only 8 days!) for the busy person that wants to learn how to formally mediate.
    2.  Journal — Just starting out? Try The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day*.  This one has motivational quotes and a structure on what to write daily (am and pm) all within 5 minutes.  Another favorite of mine (pictured with Landrie) is a basic, blank lined journal*. I typically use this journal as my prayer journal or write what I’m struggling with or what successes I may have had — just a few sentences an entry.  Seems to help to get it out of my head and on paper. Try it, it’s very powerful!
    3. Pick up a devotional — hardcopy or download it to your phone. A few of my favorites —  Jesus Calling* , My Utmost for His Highest* and Morning and Evenings – Charles Spurgeon* are great short reads.  (I’ve read many devotionals while on the toilet – TMI???)
    4. If all the above sound overwhelming — then just breath!  Wake up tomorrow, take 3 mindful breathes in and out through your NOSE . (Fascinating podcast with Patrick McKeown known as King of Oxygen – click here– on the importance of breathing in and out through your nose, not your mouth.)

    Already have a mindfulness meditation practice or quiet time? Please do share what works for you.

     

    *THIS POST INCLUDES AFFILIATE LINKS. YOU CAN SEE MY DISCLOSURE STATEMENT ON THE ABOUT PAGE, THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

     

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