Ready to Hustle?

Back in January I joined the 30 Day Hustle. It’s a group of hard workers who are being intentional about working on their dreams – no matter what they are.

Each month new folks are invited to join. Are you ready to get to work? Sign up at Jon Acuff’s blog.

It’s an awesome group of hustlers who are there to encourage you on your journey.

Seriously, do it.


I am Proud

So this post is going to be a little weird. But I need to write it for me.

I am proud of the things I have been accomplishing.

I hesitate to say that. I don’t want to sound arrogant or like I am bragging. But all too often, I don’t take even one second to be proud of the things I do. It’s a vicious, defeatist attitude that steals the joy from every moment. “You can’t be proud.” It says. “You’re being a jerk if you say that.” “You’re not really that great anyway.” “Look at all these things you don’t do well.” It is really easy for me to get down on myself and doubt my roles as a mom and wife and friend. And I genuinely believe that Satan uses those doubts to keep me from becoming the person I should be.

So, I’d like to share a few things because I am proud of the changes I’ve been making.

I am proud that I can take the boys almost anywhere and they are really well behaved. Not perfect of course, but really good. And I have learned through trial and error a bunch of ways to make our outings go so smoothly.

I am proud that I have been teaching myself to cook. Over the last few months the quality and taste of my homemade meals has increased dramatically. I’m sure Damien appreciates that!

I am proud that over the last year I have actually blogged pretty consistently.

I am proud that I haven’t bit my nails since January. (Silly, but 29 years in the making!)

Thank you for allowing me to stop and be proud of myself for a few moments. Each positive change comes with baby steps. And failure before success. And during success.

The one major area I struggle with staying consistent in is spending time in Bible study. I had been doing really well and now I have lost focus. So time to restart and be proud of the changes I will make.


Stirring Up Trouble

I have to admit I like to stir the pot. (Shocker I know.)

I like to argue and I like to be challenged. I often learn new things and new perspectives when people join in the conversation.

But I want to apologize. I don’t mean to offend anyone and I’m not trying to be insensitive.

I hope you have a great day!


Sugar Detox Wrap Up

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So we did it. 21 Days with no sugar and very limited carbs. It’s been a little over a week since we finished up, so I thought I’d share my findings.

It was actually much easier than I thought. It turns out if I have a real plan (a book to follow), and someone to do it with me and hold me accountable, I’m pretty good at following a set of yes and no rules. The biggest challenge was actually all of the fruit the boys ate. Not being able to eat a blueberry or a slice of orange or even lick my fingers after slowly feeding it to the Little One was pretty tough.

Here’s a breakdown of my ‘results.’

  • I still feel like I crave something after meals. This has pretty much always been a dessert or snack or something sweet. 29 years of habit can’t be broken in 21 days. BUT I don’t feel like that something has to be sweet. That is a huge win!
  • I do still want, desire, crave sweets in general. I like ice cream and cake. I’ve indulged in a few treats out and they aren’t as good as they used to be. However; I have to fight the habit to have something every day or I will just fall right back into my old habits.
  • I like things I didn’t before. Green apples are actually pretty good. Sauerkraut makes a great topping for sandwiches. Almond butter is actually good instead of the sad alternative topeanut butter. My palate has definitely changed.
  • Paleo/grain free/sweetener free desserts are actually a decent substitution – if you find the right ones.
  • Coconut butter is a legitimate dessert.
  • In the first 4 days, I lost the 5 holiday pounds I had gained.
  • I noticed a distinct difference in how bloated I looked and felt.
  • I don’t crave bread at all. Just ice cream 🙂
  • I feel empowered that I actually am capable of cutting something out that I thought I couldn’t.
  • I improved ten fold in the kitchen.
  • Green smoothies are the bomb. (Spinach, almond milk, frozen banana slices, almond butter, coconut milk)

So what do we do now?

Well, we definitely aren’t going to be sugar/grain free forever. We have been working on our eating anyway so this was a nice boost.

  • We don’t feel the need to buy bread anymore and even the boys don’t need to have sandwiches. Romaine hearts are a perfect substitution.
  • The green smoothies are sticking around. Especially since both boys love them!
  • We are all more adventurous eaters. Even Little C has tried more new foods in the last few weeks than at any other time in his little life.
  • We are going to try to follow a paleo diet for the most part. (Except cheese and milk mostly)
  • Instead of trying/worrying about organic veggies, we are going to be better about the meats we buy. If only we had room for a chest freezer! I’m learning that the advantage of better sourced meats is way more than the veggies. And since we don’t have the budget to do both, we are going to switch gears slightly.
  • We are working to incorporate more veggies! I’ve realized our biggest hurdle is just not knowing how to prepare them. So my recipe goal is now to focus on good veggie recipes. (Broccoli and brussel sprouts last night were a huge success! A 2.5 year old that likes broccoli and a 15 month old that eats brussel sprouts? Awesome!)
  • We currently have our first ever batch of kombucha and of sauerkraut fermenting away. We’ll see how that goes.
  • I hope to keep sugary and carb heavy foods out of the house. Then I only have to avoid them while out and about.

If you are looking for something to help you reset your taste buds, give you a general starting point for a new way of eating, or just to challenge you to cut out sugar, I would highly recommend it. Diane Sanfilippo actually has full meal plans, but I like to do it my way (shocking, I know). I am much better at just having the list of foods I can and can’t eat and making my own meals. I did use many of her recipes, and I genuinely liked every one I tried. The desserts aren’t quite that, but they worked really well while we couldn’t have any sugar and I may make a few of them again.


Night Weaning Update

Three days in a row. Three whole days!!! I have gotten to sleep uninterrupted for three entire nights!

When we finally decided to night wean Big C the results were just as dramatic. And I’m thrilled that night weaning has been magic for Little One too.

Nights 1-3 Little C woke up every three to four hours. He really didn’t complain too much and we were able to get him to sleep in 10-20 minutes. He has woken up at 5/5:30 pretty much his entire life so instead of trying to stretch that to six we just decided that to be the time I could feed him.

Nights 4-6 he did even better. He only woke up once before 5:30 and technically didn’t complain much but he had a really hard time falling back to sleep. It took us about an hour each night to get him back to sleep. Really, we just finally got too frustrated. He would be asleep, we would get back in bed and about 1.5 minutes later he would be up again. Finally, we were too slow to go back in there since he was barely complaining anyway. And what do you know? He fell asleep all by himself! That was a little sleep practice thrown in. It’s actually one of the things we’re trying to help Big C with so I’m so glad the little one is doing it already.

Nights 7-9 he was perfect! He slept from 7am – 5:30am with no wake ups. At 5:30, I fed him and he went back to sleep for about an hour. We’ve been waking up at 5:30 without going back to sleep for months. And that was when he woke up every two hours. So 6:30 is amazing. And I actually kind of like being up in the morning when I’ve had some solid rest.

One kid down and the other is in progress. The big one’s a whole other story, but he does sleep ‘through’ the night so I’m feeling amazing.

Here’s the story of the first night with Little C.

If you want to read about night weaning with Big C, start here.


Budget Friendly Green Tips for the Home

I love to research, I love to teach and since I write a blog, I obviously love to share.

Here are my top tips for being budget friendly and trying to be a little green. These are some of the things we actually do. Which means they are cheap, easy, and they work. Because we don’t have time for anything else.

1. Making our own deodorant.

Coconut oil + essential oils + cornstarch (arrowroot powder) and baking soda. I do leave out almost all of the baking soda because it really irritates my armpits. It doesn’t bother Damien at all. He loves tea tree and peppermint in his and I use only lavender since peppermint oil can reduce my milk supply. It is not an antiperspirant, but the deodorant works great. And Damien loves it. Which means it must really work.

2. ‘Make’ our own foaming hand soap.

We buy Dr. Bronner’s soap in the big bottles and mix it with equal parts water and a little bit of olive oil (to keep the pump working smoothly) and it works great. I’ve heard of adding tea tree, but that would take more effort on my part. We just reuse a foaming pump from one of the store green brands after we finished it.

3. Cloth diapering.

I know it’s not for everyone, and my intimidation factor with starting was super high, but after 2.5 years, it has been so worth it! We’ve spent well under $1000 to diaper two kids. And once you get started, it’s not nearly as big of a deal as you thought. Just a little time spent learning about it and how to properly do the laundry will save you thousands of dollars PER KID!

4. Cutting out processed foods, especially snack foods like granola bars.

I’ve always been under the impression that eating super healthy has to be more expensive. While it is definitely true that fruits and veggies are costly (especially if you buy organic), I have noticed a drop in our grocery budget when I stopped buying things like granola bars. They are often not very healthy at all and the cost adds up quickly. Same with junk food snacks like cookies, chips, and ice cream. They are often very expensive and it’s easy for me to overindulge. If I buy apples, they may cost a little more, but I’ll go through them more slowly.

5. Breastfeed.

Well, the obvious answer here is it’s free! And it’s the exact formula God made. You can’t really go wrong with that.

6. White Vinegar

This stuff is amazing! It’s the best toilet bowl cleaner I’ve ever used, it removes soap scum like nobody’s business and it removes hard water buildup on things like faucets. They should empty the cleaning aisles and just stock vinegar. Seriously. And to combat the lovely aroma, just save citrus peels in a mason jar, fill with vinegar, let it sit for a few weeks and voila! citrusy vinegar. It also works great as a laundry stain remover and just a general counter/table cleaner.

7. Make our own soda water (and not drink soda).

We finally(!!) made ourselves give up soda. It took a while, but we grew to like just plain soda (carbonated) water. Once we knew we liked it long term, we wanted to stop buying the bottles from the store since it can actually be more expensive than soda if you’re not careful! I researched the SodaStream and each liter would only cost $0.25. Since we were paying double that, and sometimes more, we grabbed a machine on Craigslist with two of the CO2 cartridges which saved us even more. We have been using it for a few months now and it’s awesome. It not only works great, but we get to use our better tasting filtered water and it is so convenient to never really run out. We can always just make more in a few seconds. If you like soda water or even want sodas without high fructose corn syrup, I would totally recommend the SodaStream.

I’m looking to add more things to my hippie green list, but we add things in slowly. We do use natural products in the shower, but have not gone the no-poo super cheap way yet. I plan on trying it out in the coming months. Right now we use shampoo and conditioner from the Honest Company thanks to special coupons and other discounts. Another thing I’m hoping to try is oil cleansing for our face and trying activated charcoal for teeth whitening. I would also love to try un-paper towels in the kitchen.


Sugar Detox

Food is a tricky thing.

We have been trying to eat better for months now. We have made great progress in some areas and are still working in others.

We try to eat mostly real food and have cut out most processed foods.
We try to cut back on carbs and refined sugars like breads and pastas.
We have mostly adopted a Paleo eating style although we have not cut out whole milk, cheese or yogurt (except for Little One).
We have switched out the oils we use for either coconut oil or real butter.
We have stopped drinking soda of any kind and swapped it for just plain carbonated water.
We use organic foods when we can, but focus primarily on the foods the boys eat.
I routinely try to eat foods I didn’t use to like and I’m beginning to like more and more of them.
We are trying to learn how to cook more at home.
We are both still completely addicted to sugar and carbs. (I actually mean ADDICTED. I can’t quit without some help.)
We still struggle with eating out because of its speed and convenience.
I know the last one flies in the face of our other eating habits.
We want to raise our boys to have a healthy relationship with food and to enjoy healthy foods.

So… starting tomorrow, Monday, January 6th, we (Damien and I) are going to begin a 21 Day Sugar Detox. I’m excited and nervous. We definitely need this, but it’s going to be tough. Especially since we’ll have things we can’t eat in the house for the boys. And Damien has access to amazing yummy treats almost every day at work. But we can do anything for 21 days. 3 weeks is nothing!


Night Weaning Round 2

So we’ve been working on getting the little one to sleep better for months now. It’s been a series of baby steps. Some forward, some backward, but last night we had a huge success!

Little C went from 9:30 – 5am without any milk!!! And he slept until 7:15.

We’ve been doing so many different things, here are some of our victories:

-We taught him to fall asleep without being attached to me.

It took a night of extreme patience, but it worked wonders. I intentionally detached him before he fell asleep and then I rocked him, patted his back, held him, sang to him, set him down and finally laid down on the ground and let him crawl, squirm, and scream on me until he finally fell asleep on top of me – 45 minutes later. Since then he has gone to sleep in between 5 and 10 minutes with very little fussing or complaining.

-I limited his night feeding’s length.

He was nursing a million times a night and I knew he didn’t need it. And since he could fall asleep on his own, I have been intentionally cutting the night feedings short. It didn’t seem to add much time between feedings, but I knew it would be helpful as we continued.

-We cut out dairy from his diet.

Since we have stopped giving him dairy, he falls asleep faster, stays asleep longer and eats more real food during the day. This has been the biggest improvement in sleep we’ve had. It’s only been a few days, but he actually went 3 or 4 hours at night.

And……

-We officially night weaned him between 11pm and 6am.

He fell asleep around 7:30pm, woke up at 9:30 (I fed him like normal) and then did not wake up again until midnight. I did not feed him. Instead I picked him up and sang to him and just hugged him. At first he was pretty mad, but he fell asleep in about 10 minutes. I was happily stunned and went back to bed. He woke again around 2 am (I’m not sure since Damien took this one) and Damien got him back to sleep in about 10 minutes as well. Another wake up at 4:30 and 5am went pretty smoothly. But at 5:30, Damien pointed out that he had actually gone from 9:30-5:30 without any milk so I fed him as much as he wanted. He went back to sleep until 7:15!!!

Here is our journey from the first time around. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

And here is a link to Dr. Jay Gordon’s page about night weaning. It has been so successful for both boys, I would highly recommend it. We still have more nights of adjustment ahead of us, but I am so impressed with how Little One did. I was hoping it would go well since we had already been ‘messing’ with him at night, but I didn’t dare hope for how well it went last night. I’ll update again after we have some more milk free nights under our belt.


30 Days of Hustle… Times Infinity

I already shared how I worked with a health coach for 6 months last year. It was awesome. The greatest thing I learned was how important it is to make goals and follow through. I loved that she helped me make 1, 3 and 6 month goals. It was even cooler when I could check things off that I had accomplished.

Since I stopped working with her in August, I haven’t been as intentional about my goals. I’ve still been working on things that I care about, but not with as much intensity or purpose. And I haven’t succeeded in completing as many either. So for New Years, I’m going to re-evaluate my goals, make sure they are specific and work hard to make sure they happen.

Another influence over the past year has been Jon Acuff. His book Start and his blog Stuff Christians Like are inspiring and hilarious and often exactly what I need. He just started a group called 30 Days of Hustle. It’s closed for now, but in 30 days it will open back up for anyone to join and then it’ll start over for another 30 days. The purpose is to encourage each other to hustle. Dreams and goals and resolutions come true with hard work. I want to work smarter AND harder. That’s how I’ll make a change.

In 2013, I am proud of a few of the things I accomplished:
– I lost 30 lbs and have kept it off
– I have continued to exercise several times a week
– We have cut out almost all processed food
– I actually enjoy running!
– I ran a sub 30 minute 5k (3.1 miles)
– I ran 9 miles – the furthest I’ve ever run at one time
– I’ve been fairly consistent about blogging – which I really enjoy
– We’ve been married 10 years!
– I am actively working on yelling less and loving more – part of the Orange Rhino Challenge
– Made an effort to cook more at home and I’m starting to enjoy cooking

During 2014, I’m looking to work on some of the following:
– Become intentional about spending time studying God’s word.
– Kicking my sugar addiction by completing the 21 Day Sugar Detox
– Create habits that help keep things cleaner/less cluttered around the house
– Train for and complete my first half marathon (April 26th!!!)
– Complete the Rosetta Stone Spanish program that we already own
– Be connected to my electronic devices less – especially when the boys are around/awake
– Spend quality time with the boys each day. Even if it’s just a few minutes at a time.
– Become even more comfortable in the kitchen and learn how to make good food!
– Continue being active and exercising at least 3x a week

I plan to focus on one thing each 30 days and build them into habits that I can continue. I’ll probably add more things that I would like to work on, but this is my starting point. At the very least, I’ll have 12 new things accomplished this year. What are you working on? Do you have someone to cheer you on? Small steps will lead to a big change if you follow through!


No Dairy for Little One

So, I feel a little silly. How could I not have noticed?

This week we figured out that Little C has an issue with dairy. I don’t know if it’s an allergy or a sensitivity or what, but since we intentionally cut it out, he’s had the first ‘normal’ poop of his life. And he seems way happier. And I think he’s sleeping better. And all of that makes me feel at least a little terrible that we didn’t figure it out way sooner.

He has always been a weird eater. We delayed foods until almost 8 months (thanks to a cross country move) and so he never was a fan of purees. We gave him bits and pieces of anything we could think of and he’d take some, but most of the time he wouldn’t even put it in his mouth. For awhile he’d eat some baby food, but he demanded that he hold the spoon. Which we let him do, but it did not exactly lead to him consuming much. Through it all, the one food he managed to actually get in his mouth pretty well and he consistently liked from day to day was yogurt.

Since he is still primarily breastfed and barely eats much, I was never too concerned that his poop remained pretty runny. (Sorry, but what else are we parents supposed to talk about?) In the last few months I have been thinking more and more that he should be having more solid poop, but I was not concerned about it. Until this past two weeks.

While we were visiting family in AZ, Little One ate more yogurt than he previously had at any one time. And he had several servings a day. I figured – Hey! He’s eating – but man, was that a problem. His poop turned completely white and he went several times a day. I’m not a huge worrier, but when we googled it things like liver/bile duct blockage and Celiac’s disease and other fun things came up. I also saw that it could be from drinking too much milk. I figured he didn’t really drink milk. And then I remembered the yogurt.

Since then we have cut out all dairy for him and he is doing so much better! I can’t believe it took us this long to figure it out, but I’m also so thankful to know now. I think he was having belly/gas issues and that seems to be better. He’s going more regularly and it’s solid and I’m hoping he’ll sleep a little better. We had a great night, but then we’ve been traveling so only time will tell. And someday we’ll actually night wean him. And I’ll tell you all about it.