Friday, October 31, 2014

My Stressful Joy

Many of us may think that families are (or should be) free from stress, that the home should be a haven of peace and tranquility.  I strive to make my home a peaceful pace but most days it's far from that.  A certain amount of family stress is inevitable.  It is how a family handles and copes with stress that is truly important.

Each day, my children cause me to feel a "stressful joy."  Here are the definitions for stress and joy.
Stress: a state of mental or emotional strain resulting from very demanding circumstances.
Joy: a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
Those two definitions combined is exactly how I would describe motherhood.

My kids are one of the most important things to me.  Their personalities are so different.  Each one of them brings me joy and stress in different ways.

It took us a long time to get pregnant with my first son, Lincoln.  After trying for a year, I went to the doctor and found out I have PCOS and endometriosis.  I had to have laparoscopy to remove a polyp in my uterus and to remove the endometriosis.  I took Clomid for four months and finally got pregnant.  You can probably understand how trying to get pregnant caused lots of stress.  You can also probably imagine the joy I felt when I finally did get pregnant.
Lincoln has been a joy since the day he was born.  He is outgoing, friendly, smart, and so much fun!  He has such a cute sense of humor and loves to play sports.  He loves his mama but is for sure a daddy's boy.  Lincoln's a good boy but I can think of three things that cause a bit of stress.  He loves to sneak out of bed, he still pees the bed, and he's not the best at entertaining himself.  He bugs me 24-7 to play with a friend.  These are tiny stresses that aren't too hard for me to deal with, but still add to the other stresses as a mom.
Cannon and Bennett
Photo by Kelly Willard
Before trying to get pregnant again, I had a blood test that showed I still needed Clomid.  I ended up getting pregnant with twins the first month I took Clomid.  Since they were born, my twins have caused me the most stress of all my kids.  Not because there are two them.  They just have demanding personalities and cry when they don't get their way.  They are mess makers, they are picky eaters, they have speech delays, they are so loud, and they love to run away from me wherever we go.  Though I must say that they are getting easier as they get older.
Cannon was born 14 minutes before Bennett.  Cannon is my little smarty pants.  He loves anything that has to do with learning.  He loves letters and numbers and can already read.  He wishes he could go to preschool everyday.  Cannon loves to laugh, play with friends, and be outside.  He is full of energy and can't sit still for two seconds.  He's my most destructive child.  He is always jumping around and ends up breaking something at least once a week.  He sometimes will break or rip things on purpose.  He's not trying to be naughty, he just doesn't think before he acts.  He also has issues that cause stress that aren't his fault.  He has asthma and allergies.  He's allergic to peanuts, soy, eggs, bees, grass and dogs.    Even though he causes me a bit of stress,  I love my little energetic guy!
Bennett is my little buddy.  He is a mama's boy and loves to give me hugs and kisses.  He's my best helper when we clean up toys.  He's very independent loves to do things by himself like getting dressed, buckling his seat belt, etc.  Some days he's my easiest child and some days he's the hardest.  He can play easily by himself and doesn't need me to entertain him.  He loves to do puzzles and pretend with his toys.  He's hard because he cries at least 15 times a day.  He gets upset by little things: if cereal falls off his spoon, if he gets a drop of water on his shirt, if his hands get too messy, or if someone messes with his toys when he's playing alone.  He's always been a particular child.  I actually had him tested for autism when he was three by the school district.  I was worried he had autism because he wasn't speaking, he loved to line up toys, he loved playing alone, he had temper tantrums, he would get really attached to objects (hats, bowls, cups), and he was a really picky eater.  The test showed he had mild PDD-NOS.  One point different on the test and he would have been considered "normal."  The people giving the test told me that this wasn't a diagnosis because it wasn't done by a doctor and he would need lots more testing.  They told me not to worry much about the test because he was so young and could grow out of his autistic-like behaviors.  Even though they told me not to worry, of course I did worry and stress over it.  It's been 1 1/2 years since he's been tested and he has improved so much.  His speech is almost caught up, he doesn't line up objects, he plays more with others, he shares, and he handles change.  Since he's getting better as he gets older I'm not stressed about it too much right now.  I love his personality and he makes me smile everyday!
My little Huddy Buddy!  I was really surprised when I ended up pregnant with Hudson when we weren't even trying.  I guess my body figured out how to ovulate.  Hudson wants to be just like his older brothers and they adore him.  He bypassed baby toys and has always wanted to play with whatever his brothers are playing with.  He is so fun, likes to help me, and he is my best eater.  This boy makes me smile several times a day.  He of course is two and stress just comes with the territory.  He is potty training, he doesn't think he needs naps, he always wants his way, he doesn't like to share, and he wants to do things by himself but gets frustrated when he's not able to do it.  He's not a terrible two year old, just a typical one.  His personality is so cute and I just love him to death.
My maiden name is Treasure and I have always wanted a girl named Treasure.  I finally got my little girl!  She is such a great baby and loves to laugh.  Her brothers entertain her all day.  I want her to stay a baby forever but at the same time I love watching her grow.  She is so sweet and innocent but babies can of course cause stress.  She wakes up in the night, needs lots of attention, adds lots of clothes to the laundry, and can make it hard to go places.  Even though she sometimes makes me tired, the joy this little girl brings is worth even ten times more stress than she causes me.  I can't even express how much I love her!

As you can see, I know how stressful children can be.  I try to view stress as a temporary challenge that can and be coped with and controlled.  Here are a few strategies that can make motherhood less stressful that have helped me.

1.  Make lists and be realistic about time frames.
2.  Don't compare yourself to other moms.
3.  Don't feel like you need to get it all done.  There will always be projects in process.
4.  Don't expect your house to be super clean.
5.  If you can afford it, buy services or goods that will give you more time.
6.  Give yourself credit for small tasks accomplished.
7.  Select commitments carefully and learn to say no.
8.  Limit time on the internet.
9.  Acknowledge the blessings in the midst of burdens.
10. Recognize and take time to enjoy moments of joy and fun.

Sometimes as moms we expect too much out of ourselves and that can cause added stress.  When my kids are grown up and have moved away I hope that they will have great memories of their childhood and know that they were loved.  Being a mom can be stressful but the joy that comes with it makes it SO worth it.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Bring on Snuggles

There are days where the only thing I want to see is the smiles of my children and to know that they are truly happy, even if the only thing that they want is chicken nuggets in the shape of a dinosaur.  I’m sure that these moments will not be orchestrated with perfect timing to happen all at once, but I will take them when they come.


When Jayden was born in September of 2006 I was barely 27.  I was living with my parents and working full-time when I brought him home from the hospital.   His biological father and I co-parented but a majority of the responsibility fell onto me.  Motherhood was new to me and was quite hard at times.   

Having a simple smile from my half-Peruvian, brown-eyed boy melted my heart every time and there was nothing I would not do for him.  We relied on each other for much of our needs.  He is a Mama’s boy and we have a strong and unique bond that has lasted for eight years now. 
Jayden is a 2nd grader and loves to read books about science facts and wants to be a ‘Scientist of the Universe’ as he puts it.  He is fascinated with nature and how mechanical things work.  I’m glad that the spark of curiosity is there and I’m more than willing to feed it. 

Ribs, sausage, bacon, steak, and chicken hearts are a few of the things that satisfy his appetite as a carnivore.  My belief is that his Peruvian heritage has shaped this boy’s pallet. Nothing wrong with that, just hope to be able to get a vegetable in there somewhere.  


My second child is Eli and he surely has a unique and special story, so I will try to make this as short as possible, so please bear with me.  In September of 2008, right after Jayden turned 2, I married John.  After two months of escalating verbal, physical, and sexual abuse I was able to leave this man with Jayden in tow and another child on the way.  With a protective order in place the harassment continued another 4 to 5 months, I knew that this unborn child needed to be protected from his biological father. 

In June of 2009, I placed Eli into the arms of his adoptive parents.  This was the hardest decision I have ever made in my life, but it was the right choice for all involved.  We have a semi-open adoption which includes emails with pictures and two visits a year, which happen around his birthday and Christmas. 

Having raised Jayden then placing Eli was especially difficult because I knew what I was missing.  I knew that I’d never hold him again as mine.  He has my red hair, freckles, and baby blue eyes, so seeing him grow up through pictures and occasional visits was heartbreaking.   I still have my moments of grief, but I know that he is happy and loved; it doesn’t make the pain go away, but it makes it more bearable.

When Tony and I married in May of 2011, I became the step-mother of Tyson. He was just shy of 3 years-old at the time and is now 6.   He was named Tyson because being born at 29 weeks gestation he literally fought for his life.  After four brain surgeries for Hydrocephalus, three months in Primary Children’s Medical Center, two worried parents, and one surgery to remove half of his colon he was finally able to come home. Whew!

Tyson is loud and loves to be heard and acknowledged.  He is a slow eater because he likes to talk, move around, announce his bodily functions, and negotiate how much to eat.  He loves sugar, juice, sugar, candy, chocolate, sugar, and cookies…..did I mention SUGAR? 

Being a premie also delayed his social skills and learning abilities, which is why he is attending Kindergarten for a second school year.   Completing homework is now much easier now that he wants to learn and focus more.   

Tyson is a great brother and loves to have someone to play with.  Jayden and Tyson are growing up and trying to find a good balance of sibling rivalry and their own individuality.   I love it when they can play great together and laugh, it sure makes my heart happy. 

The Bun in the Oven

After I had Eli, my body started having several health concerns, especially in the reproductive arena.   I began to have several large ovarian cysts that had to be removed with surgery, and eventually one of my ovaries was removed.  During one of these surgeries I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.   So the thought of more children didn’t seem possible, so Tony and I became used to the idea that we were done having children, but God had a different plan in mind for us.  Just after a year of being married, we had the prompting that there was another one waiting for us. 

For two years we worked with my doctor and tried many different methods, hormone balancing acts, and procedures that the vision of conceiving was growing dimmer.  Finally in August we found out that we were pregnant.  Such an amazing feeling of excitement, relief, and joy! I am currently 15 weeks pregnant and couldn’t be more exhausted!  Just ask my husband.  We are due at the beginning of April and we are crossing our fingers for a little girl.   

With each child in my life that calls me mom, or birth mom, I find that the most sacred and intimate times I share, or have shared, with them are snuggle times.   These are the moments that I cherish and look forward to having more of, even when they’re 12 and need a hug.   This is what being a mother is all about, nothing but me and this child making eye contact and smiling at each other, sometimes giggling and making funny faces.  From our example as a mother, these moments teach our children to love one another.  There is nothing more important than love.  Once a child knows and understands that, they can do anything. 

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The book that every parent needs for healthy kids

Once upon a time I was a Wendy's drive thru addict.  The fact that I know that it's called "THRU" and not "THROUGH" shows that I've driven up to a window plenty in my days...with kids in tow.

I remember the good old days of dinosaur chick nuggets and fish sticks.  I was doing the best I knew how but I wish I knew what I know now.  Nutrition is SO vital for growing brains and developing bodies and I really had no clue.

But one book changed it all for me.

The Healthiest Kid in the Neighborhood by the Sears family is hands down the best book I've ever read for transforming the health of your children (and yourself).  He opened my eyes to not only the simplest of concepts but made me quite an expert at the same time.

Watch the video here to allow me to tell you more about it.

This really is the most fantastic recipe which literally changed my family's life.  Make one blender full and nourish your entire crew!  This is the very same recipe that I started out in my earliest days as a total newbie and launched me in a new trajectory that would lead to where I am today.  A certified holistic health coach and essential oils educator.  My life's passion is health.   Old me would have never guessed in a million years that this is where I'd be.

Enjoy greater health for your family!

Order the book for yourself HERE.

Variation of Dr Sears recipe that transformed the health of not only my kids but EVERYONE in the family:

Lily's version of Dr Bill's School-Ade smoothie ( I have tweaked it to my personal preference)

(Makes 8 cups - enough for the WHOLE family)

1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (or add in a probiotic liquid supplement -gut and brain health!)
3 cups milk (I prefer a plant milk like almond or coconut and feel free to sub for water to save $$)
1 cup fresh spinach (This is how you secretly feed your kids a salad at breakfast!)
1-2 servings of JuicePlus Complete protein or other vegan protein powder
1 cup frozen blueberries (antioxidant power!)
1/2 cup frozen fruit blend (Costco bags in bulk)
2 tbsp coconut oil or flaxseed oil
2 Tbsp nut butter (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 avocado

Blend in a high powered blender until smooth. As liquid as needed for preferred texture.  I have learned from years of experience that this recipe is extremely flexible.  Don't stress over getting this exactly precise.  I NEVER measure and play around with it all the time. :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Love Your Boobs

Most of you know October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and to most women it's a month to bring more awareness to breast cancer, to remind women to get their mammograms regularly, to celebrate those who've survived, and remember those who've lost their lives to breast cancer. But this month isn't just about that. It's about reminding women to embrace ourselves and recognize what makes us beautiful, unique, and what defines us as women. My friend Courtney from the eclectic lifestyle blog Fry Sauce & Grits started a movement called LOVE YOUR BOOBS, LOVE YOURSELF. Courtney is a bra fitter, bra educator, blogger, and is passionate about women issues. She created a video where she interviewed a group of women and asked them questions about their relationship with their breasts, how they've experienced breast shame, how they feel the media depicts breasts, and how we as women can come to love and accept and love our breasts.
"I find that most women have a hate relationship with their breasts and that makes me really sad. They're either small, large, lopsided, saggy, or too wide, and it made me realize that we need to stop this breast and body shaming because our bodies are beautiful and powerful," Courtney said. "I hope to inspire women with this Love Your Boobs, Love Yourself video that to completely love ourselves as women, we need to love and accept our boobs. There's a direct relationship between our self image of and the relationship we have with our breasts. Breasts don't define us but they are definitely a part of us. I want to bring awareness that this dysfunctional relationship we as women have with our breasts and with our bodies are directly stemmed from what the media portrays to be what is perfect and the ideal of beauty. I want to push the message that we aren't defined by our breast size and how we as women are defined by something greater."

Courtney from Love Your Boobs, Love Yourself
Love Your Boobs, Love Yourself Quote

Me along with a group of other blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and yes breast sizes have decided to come together and to love ourselves and our breasts! You can join in this movement too by sharing a picture of yourself and type what you love about your breasts and what defines you as a woman! You don't need a blog either! Just tag your photo with #LoveYourBoobsLoveYourself on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and search the hashtag to see who else has joined in. I have a group of blogging women from different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities, ages, shapes and yes breast sizes have decided to come together and to love ourselves and our breasts! You can join in this movement too by sharing a picture of yourself and type what you love about your breasts and what defines you as a woman! So go ahead and watch the video, it will truly inspire you to stop breast shaming and start loving your breasts and yourself more!

There are certain times in your life that you watch loved ones go through trials and you think to yourself "man they are amazing."  This is so true for me.  As a teenager I watched my aunt battle breast cancer.  It was difficult to say the least.  I remember going to her house and helping clean and silently crying because of the pain she was in.  That floor of hers was mopped with my tears more than once.  To this day I think about all of the pain, suffering, surgeries, struggles, and heart breaks she has dealt with and it brings me to tears.  My aunt is my hero in many ways and has taught me a very valuable lesson about my boobs.  I am so pleased to have her share her story with you.  It's not something that she does often so I am SO grateful she's willing to open up and share.

This is the face of a survivor.  Not one time, but twice!

I was 39 when I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. I had been having regular cycles all my life and suddenly a change occurred which went on for a couple of months. I first thought it was a pregnancy, but after several negative tests I just figured I would now be irregular. One morning as I was showering I had a distinct impression to do a breast exam. Upon doing so I found an ever so small lump. I had surgery two days later and the one centimeter tumor was removed with a lumpectomy, however tests showed it had spread to the sentinel lymph nodes, which were the ones the cancer was draining too. Those were then removed, as well as hope of not having to endure chemo. 

I then went to a clinic meeting which consisted of all the doctors I would need to see. The battle strategy was laid out before me by each doctor and a dose dense chemo was recommended as this was more aggressive than other chemo treatments and would combat the Her2neu positive cancer, a fast growing aggressive type of cancer. I chose not to use the oncologist that came to the clinic because he wanted me to join a study where there would be a 50% chance I would get Herceptin, the new drug that targeted Her2nu cells. I was determined to get that drug so I sought out a doctor who would prescribe it and not put me in the study, as the results of that study were becoming very conclusive that it did work. The study was later dropped and Herceptin is a regular treatment for her2nu positive cancer now. 

Chemo then followed every two weeks for 8 treatments. I spent most of those weeks looking and feeling very ill. After chemo I had radiation for several weeks and then Herceptin, given through the port, every three weeks for 1 year. I also took tamoxifen for 5 years to block the estrogen that was feeding the tumor. No doctors could ever confirm the irregular cycle I was having was in any way related to cancer, I believe it was divine intervention as was the distinct impression to do an exam that day. 

The cancer was found to have gone to the sentinel lymph nodes and was just beginning to go farther. In other words it was caught just in time as to not have a “sustain life” diagnosis. During this time I had much needed encouragement and help from family and friends, which included meals on chemo day, flowers once a month from neighbors, sisters, a niece and a mother who helped clean, a father who drove my boys to lessons and sports, a cousin who shared information as she had been through a similar situation, a sister who went with me to surgeries, and wonderful support and love from my husband and boys who were there for all of it and picked up any slack they could. I appreciated all the love and support and could not have gotten through the treatments without it. 

Four years and 7 months after my first diagnosis I was at my regularly scheduled mammogram when they told me again that it showed signs of breast cancer in the same breast. This time it might only be calcifications which would mean pre-cancer. I was devastated again, but knew I was lucky to have it in the breast only, as a primary tumor, that this time, was not her2neu positive (Herceptin worked; glad I fought to get that). I now wanted to be more radical and elected to have a bilateral mastectomy with implant reconstruction. I was done taking risks with keeping any breast tissue. This reconstruction ultimately failed as the radiated skin just became more and more tight leaving me with a hard baseball type breast. I had a second reconstruction called microsurgical GAP flap, which used tissue from my back side and reconnected blood vessels making it living tissue. This result is much more natural and although a more difficult recovery, well worth the results. 

Reconstruction is a personal choice, I feel more confident having done it, but others I know are fine not to go down the path. A hysterectomy with oophorectomy was my next step as I was trying to rid my body of estrogen that the cancer was feeding from. I was also prescribed an aromatase inhibitor for 5 years which further blocked estrogen in post-surgical menopausal women. Because of the chemo and medications I now have osteoporosis; however I think is a great tradeoff for life. Medications have side effects but so does no medication when it is required. 

I am now 5 years from my second breast cancer diagnosis. My doctor considers 10 years a cure so I am half way there. Knowing what I know what would I do differently? 

1. I would have the mastectomy on the first go. Radical saves lives!
2. I would have had yearly mammograms after first getting a dense breast letter from radiology.
3. I would never go to a diagnostic mammogram alone. 
4. I would never have implant reconstruction on a radiated breast. 
5. I would never miss a month of a self-exam because it can happen to you. 
6. I would always follow distinct impressions with action. 
7. If I were a person who had never had breast cancer or a family history of it, I would never, never, never miss a mammogram.

Cancer is no respecter of persons or boobs.

Below are other brave and beautiful women who are sharing their stories of breast shame, breast love, what they've learned from their breasts, what they mean to them, and how we as women we can learn to love our breasts and ourselves more! So don't stop here. Get clicking around, its a blog hop! I hope as you click around (and YES pin these different posts!) you will feel the importance of women loving themselves, the empowering effect sharing each of our voices will inspire others in some way. 1. Feel Great in 8 2. Life in My Heels 4. Diary of a Brown Eyed Girl 5. Utah Mom Connection 6. Lionesses at the Gate 7. Ashlee Marie 8. Tara Made It 9. Dreaming About Someday 10. MOMentity 11. Dana Ohlsen Photography 12. Lucky Blogs 13. A Ruffled Life 14. Laura's Crafty Life 15. Fry Sauce & Grits 16. Allred Design Are you ready to share your story? Make sure to tag your picture with the hashtag #LoveYourBoobsLoveYourself and @courtney_frysauceandgrits to participate in this powerful movement to inspire women to completely love themselves!
Love Your Boobs, Love Yourself Movement from

Thursday, October 16, 2014

When I Grow Up

When I was a young girl I remember being asked a question over and over.  I'm sure you heard it as well and possibly even say it to children around you now.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

Many of my friends answered with big elaborate occupations that sounded extremely impressive. My answer was always one thing...
                                                        ..... a mom.

And without fail I would often get another question "Well, do you want to be anything else?"

"Nope" would be my reply.  I wanted to be a mom like my mom was.

Now fast forward... to the age of 16.  I had horrible self worth and believed that I was trash so I often allowed others and myself to treat me as such.  I had a boyfriend who promised me the world and professed his desire to spend the rest of his life with me.  We had sex and SURPRISE I got pregnant!

I was shocked, horrified, scared, ashamed, guilty, and even a bit excited.  I had skipped a grade in school so I was about to graduate High School and turn 17 when I was four months along.  I made plans to marry my boyfriend and dreamt of raising my wonderful baby!

But then the worried feelings started to creep in... and my eyes started to open. Truth poured in and I didn't like it one bit.

I started to consider another option to marriage or single parenting.  I tried to dismiss the thoughts often but in that option was a ray of hope... unfortunately that hope was also surrounded by pain and fear and the requirement to sacrifice the very thing I loved most.  My child.

Through several very spiritual experiences and well-thought out considerations, I decided adoption would be whats best for my son and myself.  I wanted him to have more than I could provide...or my boyfriend.  It was very important to me that my child had both a mother and father who were prepared for him and would also love him very much.

After 5 1/2 challenging months after birth, my son finally made his way to his parents.  It was the most excruciating and heart-breaking experience of my life yet it also came with such love and peace and gratitude for bringing such an incredible little person into this world.

I did not have contact with him for 18 years but last year I was blessed to be able to reconnect.  We have an amazing relationship and I'm continually shocked to see how much we have in common through genetics.  He is amazing and I love him so much!

I married at 18 and didn't have my next child for ansother 5 1/2 years.  I had a son and I completely fell in love with him!  There were strange moments where I would be hit with intense grief because of lost time with my first born but luckily the sweetness of holding my new baby would help me through those times. He is now 14 years old and towers over me!  I call him "Tallboy" (think of Princess Bride ... "Farmboy") and I constantly ask him to "fetch" items high in my cupboard.  He always helps me willingly and joyfully.  It's a beautiful gift he has.

Next I had a daughter, who is now 12.  She has been such a delight in my life.  I used to always say I could raise a dozen more kids at the same time if they had her temperament (well... until this last new teenager phase - whew!  Hang on to your hat with teenagers!) But she is cheerful, kind, creative, and a wonderful help to her younger siblings.

A year after I had my daughter, I went through a divorce.  Divorce can be one of the MOST shattering things to your life.  It was so painful and I felt broken and lost.  I quickly dated someone I knew from Jr High and got married.

Looking back, I probably should have waited to heal myself before entering a new marriage.  There were many difficulties trying to combine me and 2 littles with a man who had been living alone for awhile.

But I am glad I made the choice I did.  I have been married for 11 years and although there have been many challenges, I am continually amazed and grateful for my husband's determination to work on our marriage and family.  I feel very loved.

We have had 3 other children... a 9 year boy named Duke (who looks just like his dad and I LOVE it!).  He is a mellow kid but also has the funniest personality ever!  We share the same humor and he constantly makes me laugh.  He is also a cuddler, a brilliant lego builder, and a very kind-hearted child who cannot stand to see human cruelty of any kind.

Next, came our 7 year old daughter named Lillia.  She was BORN for the stage!  No kidding!  Her voice projection, constant singing, dancing, acting, and inventing new ways to entertain are part of every moment of every day. When she talks her eyes light up and she shines with passion for life.  She is also a little romantic and always loves to hear about love stories.

Last, but certainly not least is my youngest daughter, Vivian.  She is 19 months old.  I was totally shocked and a bit traumatized thinking I was going to enter the world of babies again, but once she came into this world, all my worries melted away. She has been the best little gift to our family and she brings so much joy into our home.  She LOVES taking selfies with my iPhone.

Although I had always wanted to be a mom, it is not always easy. At first, I threw myself into parenting and completely lost myself.  Then there have also been times I work too much.  So I am always learning the delicate balance of motherhood.

I can be an awesome mom, and a not-so-awesome mom.  Sometimes I lose my temper, say swear words, get tired, feed them cereal for dinner. But I learn from my mistakes, love them more, say sorry, and keep on trying to do better and better each day.  

I am grateful for many other mothers that are a beautiful example to me.  
I feel love and support for women who have experienced loss or infertility and they teach me many things.  
I'm grateful for my son's mother because without her struggles with infertility she wouldn't have been looking for my son and I wouldn't have the beautiful relationship I have with her now.  
I'm also very grateful for the women who do not have children but who serve in various mothering roles (teachers, friends, neighbors, aunts, you name it!).  

Having children is different for all... and many don't have the easy road to having them.  But hopefully, even if you didn't answer "mom" when asked what you wanted to be when you grew up, I hope that you are able to call yourself it now - no matter the circumstances around it.  I believe the definition of "mother" should extend to include any female who shows unconditional love to a child or nurtures others.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Treatless Halloween

Food Allergies are a big deal in our house.  Jaxson is allergic to dairy, soy, coconut, peanuts and is on a mostly gluten free and dye free diet as well.  What does that mean for holidays?  It means it's a battle!  

For the last few years we have had a "Treat Troll".  While the boys are out trick-or-treating the troll comes and brings toys and presents to the house.  The only thing is we have to leave the treats on the door step for the toys from the troll to appear (a little smoke and mirrors goes a long way with kids).  We put this picture on our door so when the kids get back from trick-or-treating they know the troll came. The go inside find their toys and then hurry and check the porch to see if the troll snatched their candy. 

This has worked in the past.  However it's been a struggle to not get the boys to eat the candy WHILE we are trick-or-treating. It can be very heart breaking for a mother to watch her child want something and time after time have to tell them no.

We all have that 'mom instinct'. A thought or feeling where we know that something isn't right even though we have no real concrete proof. This feeling came almost 2 years ago with my little Stanley. He was having a hard time talking, would lay on the floor screaming, bang his head until there were bruises and just be angry or trying to hit everyone. I took him to our pediatrician and was told "That's just what 2 year olds do. He'll grow out of it sometime. Just make sure there is nothing around him that can hurt him when here's having his fit." I knew that's there was more to it than that. From there I started looking into food allergies and a good friend told me that it looked like he had an allergy to red dye. What?!?! Who has an allergy to food coloring? I'd heard of gluten, dairy, peanut and shell fish allergies. But what has red dye in it...EVERYTHING! We went to our cupboard and fridge and had to throw away most of out food. We changed the things that we normally purchased at the grocery store and what foods we use to cook with. 

Here are just a few things that contain red dye (aka caramel color): 
-ice cream 
-Mac and cheese 
-most fruit snacks 
-most fruit juices 
-beef bouillon 
-bacon bits 
-BBQ sauce 
-all sodas that aren't clear 
-salad dressings 

Can you see how this is not a fun allergy to have? I figured I'd try it for a few weeks and let her know that it didn't work...boy was I wrong! We noticed a HUGE difference after only 2 days. He started talking in full sentences, he stopped banging his head on things, he was happy and wanted to play with his brother again and he stopped hitting and screaming. Wow! I had my normal 2 year old again! Yes he still had tantrums, what toddler doesn't, but he had more control and could process things better. We have been off of all red dye for almost 2 years now and life is so much better.

We still have bad days because red dye can be found in so many foods and a lot of people don't read labels before giving my kids food. But for the most part we have our diets figured out. The hardest times are birthday parties, Halloween and extended family get togethers. I am constantly filling my purse with dye free snacks for the little guys to eat so that when we are out and about they aren't left out from eating a yummy treat. Please remember food allergies when you are purchasing you Halloween or other holiday treats. Little ones love stickers and pencils as much as any other treat!

We are not alone in this battle. In 2012, 5.6% or 4.1 million children reported food allergies. source  That is means that there are at least 4.1 million parents who have to struggle with candy on holidays.  The Teal Pumpkin Project is a great resource to help those children who have food allergies have as much fun as those who don't.  We are challenging all of you to participate.  We will!  We will be posting pictures of our teal pumpkins in the coming weeks.
Please use the links to print signs and posters.  Share them on your social media.  Bringing awareness is half the battle.

Teal Pumpkin Sign Printable

Teal Pumpkin Flyer Printable

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I love us!

I say this all the time to my little family. I LOVE US! I love us because I have so much to be grateful for. I love that we can all be together, do silly things, have fun, be an eternal family.

Two years after being married, my husband and I decided to take a leap and go off all forms of birth control. It actually went more like "Hey dude, I don't want to be on this stuff anymore; are you ok with that?" And after talking it out for a while, he decided it was the right thing to do. I spent those first two years, being unbalanced, hormonal, emotional; three things that I had never been before in my life. So when I went off the birth control, it wasn't really a surprise that I felt instantly better. But a few months into "trying" and nothing was happening. We started seeing doctors. I started getting blood tests, and we learned that I had a few problems. I have PCOS and Endometriosis. So we saw more doctors and had more tests and started the road of infertility. 

After five years of infertility, I was exhausted. I was tired of surgeries, blood tests, medication, waiting for hours in doctors offices. I was ready to make a change. We started talking about adoption, and for a while it didn't feel right. There was never that moment of "We need to do this." Until one day, I made a decision to start the process on my own. I was going to start the home study process, until I stopped myself to pray about if this was the right thing to do. I was one word into my silent prayer when I got a huge "WAIT!" I was devastated. I didn't want to wait anymore. Hadn't I been waiting long enough? Well I waited. And it was maybe two months later when I got a call from a friend saying that her sister was pregnant
and was thinking about placing her child for adoption and were we interested. After a quick conversation about it with my husband, we decided to go for it. We sent a quick and dirty letter and photos to our friend. To make a long story short, we were chosen, and only a month later we were holding our little boy and taking him home with us. 

And now three years later, here we are. We have a gorgeous, fun-loving, crazy, friendly, sweet little boy who keeps us stocked up on too-tight hugs, eskimo kisses, and snuggles. I know that our family isn't complete yet, and we are working on it. Hopefully one day soon I will be able to write a post about that. But no matter what happens, I will always love us. I know that I am lucky and blessed. 

But I also know that all of this is and always will be hard work. Keeping a family together and happy and fed and fully dressed takes a lot of work. It is a work that I love doing (ok maybe not the cooking part, but I have an awesome husband who does that.) Adoption takes a lot of work. There are a lot of people who deserve to be a part of our family, and we have worked hard to make that all work, and let's be honest, sometimes it doesn't work that well. I know that I will spend my life working hard for my family, but I also know that there are innumerable blessings because of that hard work. And that is why I love this quote by Harold B. Lee, "The most important work you will ever do, will be within the walls of your own home." 

You can download and print out your own copy of this by clicking on the link below. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Jump Start on Christmas

So Christmas is one of those Holidays that I procrastinate.  I mean black friday is usually the day I START Christmas shopping.  This year I'm trying not to be that way.  I'm buying a little bit here and a little bit there. Here's to hoping the Shaw household isn't last minute this year.

To help you not procrastinate too we joined with the amazing ladies of 9 other blogs.  Together we are giving away $500!  Yes $500!!!  How exciting is that.  We will choose ONE winner and that winner will get to choose either $500 in PayPal Cash or a $500 Amazon GiftCard. Once the winner is contacted, they will have 24 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be chosen.  What better way to bring a community of women together than a Christmas cash give away!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Creativity Art Studio

 I love mommy and son date nights.  It's a great time to laugh, have fun and bond with the little ones in my life.  This week's date night was with my 6 yr old, Liam, at Creativity Art Studio in Orem.
When we got there they gave us a 3x3 tile and showed us all of the fun colors that we could paint them with.  They explained about the "3 coat rule" meaning that one coat meant you could still see brush strokes and it would be a very light color and 3 coats would mean a darker more finished look.  After that Liam grabbed his smock, his pain colors and went to town painting his tile.
His first masterpiece he told me was a pattern but then he found his true inspiration and decided to start over.  We ended up with matching BYU tiles that he is so excited to use.
A big thanks to Katie at Earning Our Stripes for hosting the mother & kids date night.  She shared the studios cute story about how they came to be.  The owner was out of work and knew how much his little girl loved art.  So he decided to open up Creativity Art Studio to share his daughters love of art with everyone.  
They now offer Art Instruction classes, host birthday parties and have an after school Kids Club.  There's a little something for everyone!  As we were leaving Liam said "Mom, we have to come back and bring dad.  He would love it!".  Well, that says it all...they have won over my little guys heart through their love of art also.