Making Paleo Easy

We are coming to a close on our Whole30 challenge.  We’ve made it the whole month with only a few minor cheat days.  The biggest take away I have thus far is that I don’t want to quit!  I imagine we will be less strict with it but I feel better, enjoy eating more and find it much easier to shop and cook with a Paleo lifestyle.  The kids have also been eating better and trying new things–can’t really beat that.

The hardest thing has been breakfast.  While I love eggs and bacon, I don’t want to cook it every morning.  I miss drinking my coffee while the kids got their cereal instead of trying to get a cup of coffee down while they fuss at me to cook for them. The easiest way to get around this is to have some easy things in the fridge for them to eat like yogurt,  cheese, ham slices, mix up a fast smoothie with frozen fruit, nuts are a good starter, dates are amazing… Ah, now I can enjoy that cup of coffee in peace!

Here’s some things I’ve discovered cooking Paleo over the last few weeks:

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Your blender is your friend.  Use it.  Daily.

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You can put almost anything into a smoothie.  And even the kids won’t know about all the delicious nutrition in there. (We’re talking spinach, apples, frozen fruit, almond butter, beets, squash… ) We lovingly call many of our smoothies “mud.”  My children love to drink mud.

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Smoothies are probably the fastest Paleo lunch or breakfast to throw together when you are out of ideas.  Throw an entire salad and some nut butter in there and you have all the nutrition you possibly could need.

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Almost any vegetable can be mixed with almost any meat and it will look and taste delicious–experiment with any combination. I dare you.

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Miss things like tacos?

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Make it into a salad.

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You can sauté just about anything.  Start with coconut oil, spices, garlic, peppers, etc..

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Fry (this is canned tuna)

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Serve with some sort of vegetable side and you have a super quick and scrumptious meal.

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Basically anything that sounds delicious, is delicious.  (This is sweet potatoes, apples and walnuts sautéed in coconut oil. Mmmm.)

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Broil those veggies–it’s fast and delicious.

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Kids actually do like vegetables!  Who would have thought!

Have fun!

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Dance Stretches 1

Stretching is so so good for you.  Before I dance, I always stretch–it warms up the muscles and gets you focused on the next part of class.

A very beginner ballet stretch is to stretch the feet to prepare for pointing the toes.  Here’s how to do it: (How do you like my little bunheads?)

BS toe stretchFirst sit up tall on your sits bones, legs outstretched. Point your toes up to the sky, flexing toward your torso until you feel a good stretch.  Then point your toes forward trying to touch the floor with your toes. Make sure your knees remain on the floor and you back stays straight.  Do 10 reps holding each stretch for 10-20 seconds.

Keeping Self

Parenting is hard.  Oh it is so so hard.  Maybe it’s adulthood in general but I don’t know adulthood without parenthood, so I can’t speak to that.  I spent my entire 20’s trying to figure out how to raise children.  At first, I tried really hard to keep parts of myself while attempting to raise my children but over the years that seems to have faded.  And I don’t think it is supposed to.  Somehow, I think it is really important to keep things about yourself that mean something to you–that keep you ticking.  In the chaos that is parenthood, it is easy to lose site of it though.

I’ll be thirty this year.  When I was younger, I really looked forward to getting into my 30s.  The 20s were hard.  Really hard. And I experienced a lot of judgement for being a young 20-something mother.  I thought maybe once I’d turn 30, everything would get easier.  I’d get accepted into the right social networks and I’d feel better about myself.  I’d be accepted as a member of society instead of feeling like an outsider.  But instead, I’m realizing that I’ll miss my 20s.  There was hope then… I was still young and still had things to look forward to–or so I thought.  What I’ve been realizing  lately is that I don’t know what they are anymore.

We have a photo stream screen saver on our TV and I don’t recognize myself.  I can still see ‘me’ in our wedding pictures but beyond that, I really don’t look like myself anymore.  I was so caught up in child raising that I gave up everything of myself.  I gave up my makeup, my hair, my clothes, my dancing, my passions, my schooling, my musical instruments, my decorating, just about anything that made me a strong individual was lost. What’s strange is I really don’t know how it happened.  The stress, the changes of having children, moving, dealing with adulthood just overtook me.  And instead of demanding I keep parts of my self, I gave into the roller coaster of life–I didn’t demand it stop for a few minutes so I could get off.   So I could connect with myself and not get swept away.  And now, only now, am I realizing how wrong it was. How very very important it is to keep bits of yourself despite the way life changes you.  Now, when I need a break, when I start burning out, I have nothing to fall back on.  Nothing to remember who I am–as an individual.  It scares me.  If I have the time to take care of my appearance, I don’t have any makeup to put on and I don’t even remember how to style my hair.  I don’t remember how to dance–it was my life and I find it strange muscle memory isn’t stronger–the idea of taking a class feels embarrassing.  I am so unpracticed at the piano or any of the other instruments that I used to play,  it’s a challenge to get any satisfaction out of sitting down and playing for 10 minutes.

See, there has to be something–even just one thing that we as parents need to keep all our own.  That the distraction of children and life can’t take from us.  To remember our true being.  I hope to develop something in the future to grasp onto.  Something to bring peace back into my soul.  My escape for when times are rough.  Maybe it will be blogging.  I don’t know.  But I think as life goes on, I grieve the ‘me’ that used to be.  As I’m sure all do at some point.

As a youth, I never believed all the older members of society saying how hard life was.  I was optimistic to a fault and believed life was fairies and butterflies.  There are still moments of glory and beauty. Thankfully my family is the one who shares those moments with me.  But it is hard.  And it’s ok to realize that, accept it, grieve your losses and move on.  It doesn’t mean you aren’t happy in your current circumstances, it doesn’t mean you don’t love your family, it just means you are taking one more step toward personal growth.

Versatile Blogger

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I was very surprised and excited to log onto my blog yesterday and find that Kelly, from the very entertaining Free Little Words  blog, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger award.  Thank you, Kelly!  What a fun game, too!

Here’s how this works:

  • Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  • Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  • Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  • Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  • Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

Here’s the 15 blogs I have selected:

1. The Homestead at Spring Creek

2.  Velo Mom

3.  Allison Slater Tate

4.  The Thinking Mother 

5.  Handmade Homeschool 

6.  Love Life With Kids

7.  Wonder in the Woods

8.  Sara Sweetless

9.  Barn Raisin

10. Our Homeschool Journey 

11.  This Crunchy Life Blog 

12. A Homeschool Mom

13. Mummyshymz

14. So Here’s Us

15. My Thoughts on a Page

Here’s those 7 things about me:

1.  I’m addicted to the sun and warmth–in fact I live for it.

2.  I  struggled with parenting until I became inundated with parental duties thanks to child #3 (now I’m truly in love with my daily life)

3.  I am passionate about dance, choreography and music.

4.  I’m a wanna be hippie that belongs in a commune somewhere…. probably on a beach….. barefoot.

5.  I love artistic photography with a passion.

6.  Despite blogging a lot about parenting, homeschooling, and homemaking, I really love food blogging the most.

7. I have a dream of traveling the world with my husband and kids.

So there it is!  Have fun ya’ll!  I love reading all your blogs!

“Those Days” And How To Overcome

Every mother has “one of those days.”  I make a significant effort to not talk about them.  Positive thinking…super mom complex….denial… call it what you will but it rarely makes things better to dwell on the worst.  But…..today is “one of those days” and I’d love to share with you things I’ve learned to “deal.”

Baby number 3 is a fuss bucket–she’s oh so cute and sweet but she fusses incessantly. As in, hubby and I haven’t slept for a year, the kids are so used to her crying they don’t even look her way anymore, my arms are constantly full of baby–but not just sweet snuggly baby able to be put in a front back….no… that would be ok… we’re talking wiggly, unsatisfiable, back arching beastly kinda baby.   This is the kid that brought me to tears because I just wanted to fold the laundry without her screaming or without using one hand (the other being full of baby). And today she has been oh so difficult.  The funny thing is, if I were to give you a list of how my day went, it wouldn’t seems so bad.  Things like taking an entire nap time to make Paleo chocolate crepes that didn’t work so well instead of cleaning and doing laundry.  Things like cutting my own hair because life has been too busy to make it to a salon.  Things like trying to rock the baby to sleep while still dripping wet wrapped in a towel after attempting a shower only to have her refuse the milk and the nap…

It doesn’t seem that bad… but sometimes we as moms (and dads… and siblings….) get tired, get stressed, get burned out even if we are trying to stay positive.

In the past, this sort of day would have gotten me down for weeks.  You see, the biggest pressure I experience is giving into the pressure and judgement of society.  The age old stay at home mom question of “what did you do all day.”  It has to look like I did something with my day or I go into panic mode.  The kitchen is a mess, the laundry is behind, the beds are unmade, the kids watched TV (it’s a Birthday–no school), there is food and toys spread all over the floor and here I am taking deep breathes writing a blog post.

Since when is holding a baby “not enough?”

I’ll tell you when.  When we stopped being a community.  When we stopped being a village.  When we stopped supporting each other.  When women stopped making bread together while caring for their children.  We each started living in our homes as single families and no one else knows what’s going on in your days.  No one knows when you are struggling or when you are thriving.  Your worth is based on what can be seen–not necessarily on what is important.  I am a stay at home mom, not a stay at home maid, not a stay at home secretary, not a stay at home chef, not a stay at home nanny. I am a mom.  So on days like this, if the laundry is 10 loads behind and the dishes are everywhere it is because I was holding a baby and telling her I love her even though she is screaming.  It is because I tried a new recipe for my son’s birthday.  It is because I tried to comb my toddler’s hair.  It doesn’t mean I’m not working, it doesn’t mean I am lazy.  It means I am working despite being stressed out emotionally.  It means I’m still doing my job even though my own selfish desires are calling to me (like wanting to get dressed or pee).  It’s because I understand how short this time is going to be.  Soon the dishes will always be done and laundry will always be folded but there won’t be a baby in my arms.  There will be a grown woman in her place.  And I’m going to miss kissing her little head–even if she is crying while I do.

But knowing these things doesn’t always help–let’s be real.  I’ve been through babyhood three times already–I know how hard it is and how easy it is to get burned out.

So here’s some tips I’ve come up with to help myself:

  • -Mantras are amazing.  They work. I say repetitive things to myself like “this will pass,” “I love my life/family/child,” “this is worth it,” “I can do this.”  It doesn’t matter if you really believe it at the time.  Pick something that works for you and repeat it over and over until you do believe it.  Or at least until it distracts you enough to get through the difficult moment.
  • -Smile in spite of your situation.  Studies have been done to show smiling actually can boots your mood.
  • -Instead of getting angry laugh at the situation–there have been many times when I’ve been close to tears and realized how silly my children were being and laughed.  It was surprising to me how it made everything a little easier.
  • -It’s also ok to cry.  Crying is better than anger.  If the baby won’t stop screaming, put her/him in a safe place and cry. It’s ok–it’s hard to keep up the good attitude all the time and kids are much more forgiving of tears than harsh words.
  • -Stretch.  Take a second to do your favorite yoga pose.
  • -If the kids are in a good place for you to take a break, work out.  And work out hard.  I can still remember the first time I “worked out my frustration.”  I was swimming laps and I was so frustrated with my kids.  They’d been little beasts for days and I remember taking all my anger and frustration out on the water–one aggressive stroke after the other.  I felt amazing afterwards!
  • -Deep breathe.  When we are upset, we tend to breath shallowly or even hyperventilate without even realizing it.  Stop and even go as far as to practice your labor breathing.  We did Hypnobirthing with our last child and it has made me a better parent to practice the meditations and deep breathing exercises.
  • -Know that it is ok to let the baby cry, the kids watch tv, the toddler run around the house naked for a while if you need to get alone.  Do your hair, get dressed nicely, do something to feel better about yourself–even if it’s five minutes.
  • -Ask for help.  In our society, there isn’t a lot of people around just waiting to be asked but if you have a friend or if your husband is home, just ask for help.  You are super mom–you don’t have to prove that to anyone.  But you do need a break now and then–even superwoman needs a glass of wine and a hot bath!
  • -Leave the house (with your kids).  I am really good at this when it is not perpetual winter–like right now.  It is a lot harder to be angry and down when you are smiling at people as you walk down the street with rays of sunshine warming your soul.  Just get your kids and leave.  Leave in the middle of the tantrum, leave in the middle of the crying, get those kids and get some sun and some exercise.
  • -Be forgiving of yourself.  It’s ok to struggle.  You are the caretaker of people–of souls.  This is not an easy job.  Learn, forgive and move on more enlightened when you make a mistake.
  • -Be happy.  Find things everyday to rejoice about.  It helps it really does.  Even if it’s one simple thing.  Dwell on it. Be thankful for it.
  • -Always know that you as a mother are loved.  You are love–you made more love for the world.  Love yourself and love them.  It’s all going to be ok.

Why Paleo?

Why are we trying out the Paleo Diet?  Mostly for my son and I.  I have recently been diagnosed with hashimoto’s thyroiditis which is an autoimmune thyroid disorder.  My doctors originally thought I had post-partum thyroiditis but the last specialist truly believes, based on my history, that it is hashimoto’s thyroiditis–a life long disorder.  I am regulating my thyroid using hormones but I still go through “episodes” that cause joint pain, extreme exhaustion, muscle weakness, mental fogginess, severe depression, etc.  Apparently, any time you mess with the thyroid (good or bad), it takes a while for symptoms to get better.  It has been years of going through cyclical “spells.”   I have been interested in the Paleo diet but wasn’t sure I really wanted to try it until I read several testimonial from other autoimmune sufferers–specifically those with hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  I was so excited to read that their symptoms were greatly relieved by  changing their eating habits, and I’m willing to give it a try.

The other reason I want to try to the Paleo challenge, is my son.  He’s on the autism spectrum and I have read over and over again that autism symptoms can be relieved by gluten free eating.  He has always been an incredibly picky eater and has craved white, salty, over-processed carbs.  This diet will be a challenge for him to comply to but I’m hoping once we make the change, he will feel much better and will be more cognitive as a result.

The premise of the diet makes sense to me–our society is full of over processed foods with way too many ingredients.  As I attempt to simplify our lives in other ways, it only makes sense for us to simplify our diet–eating whole foods in their pure forms.

I have never been a fan of “fad diets” and I’ve never really believed that a particular way of eating can change your life.  I have, however, been attempting to become more crunchy and have struggled with how to do that with our meals.  I’d love to be feeding my family truly healthy meals–I spend every evening cooking meals for my family so they might as well be good for you!  Anyway, the Paleo diet seems like a promising way to possibly help us feel better and eat healthier.  It’s worth the try! And coming from a skeptic, I will share my honest opinions as we go through the process.

Butterfly Craft

It’s craft time up in here!  I love craft time.  I try to use limited instructions and I love seeing what my kids create.  Today we made butterflies.

To make these you’ll need tissue paper, scissors, paints, brushes, markers, clothes pins, pipe cleaners and glue sticks.
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You can either paint the clothes pin:

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Or use markers:

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Next, cut your tissue paper in half:

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Then in half again:

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Then, fold the tissue paper squares in the middle of the square as you would  a fan:

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Now, stuff the middle of the tissue paper “fan” into the “mouth” of the clothes pin (this is where you could use a little glue to hold the wings in place):

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Then add the pipe cleaner and wrap it around for antenna:

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Make an entire kaleidoscope of butterflies!IMG_4957

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So fun to play with!

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Happy Spring crafting!!