Making Whole Foods Easier

Easy Whole Foods at Home

We’re almost two years into our Whole Foods and Paleo food lifestyle, and it’s easy to now take it for granted and feel like it’s “easy” but the reality is that it took the better part of a year for me to really find my groove, favorite recipes, and where to cut corners vs. where to buy convenience. I wanted to share a few tips that can really help you start down the Whole Food path without feeling so incredibly overwhelmed.

Firstly, if you don’t have any food sensitivities, or allergies, don’t cut out entire food groups. There are lots of ways to enjoy dairy, gluten, and even some sugar. The key is making them the smaller, more moderate, part of your plate instead of the be all end all. There is nothing inherently wrong with having bread with your soup, or a stellar sandwich. It’s more about being aware of your go-to  meals and what makes up the bulk of their nutrition. When I think back on our go-to meals three years ago they all lean heavily on gluten and dairy to make it filling (lasagna, pizza, burritos, pasta dishes, that was about it…) but all of those meals can easily have a few ingredients swapped to make them easier to digest.

{affiliate links are included in this post for your convenience}

Know How to Swap:

Lasagna Noodles –> Eggplant, squash ribbons, or gluten free pasta (I buy this brand, I like that I don’thave to boil it first).

Pizza Crust –> I’ve had hit or miss success with cauliflower crust, but I love cornmeal crusts (lots of easy options, and Trader Joe’s also has an easy flatbread one), but the best I’ve found is doing them on eggplant rounds, or pizza toppings on spaghetti squash (TO DIE FOR).

Burritos –> We eat burrito bowls at least once a week, just toss all the regular suspects on top of greens or with a side of chips for kiddos. My girls like everything deconstructed anyhow, so a big pile of beans, cauliflower rice, and grated raw milk cheddar is a perfect meal for them. Add in guacamole and salsa and I’m set.

Pasta –> Obviously you can just substitute for gluten free pasta (there are also chickpea and lentil varieties that pack a huge protein count) but we have our whole family gobbling up spiralized zucchini, sweet potato, squash, and carrot ribbons with pasta sauce, or pesto. It’s SO good. I buy mine already cut at Whole Foods, but really want to get the spiralizer attachment for my kitchen aid mixer.

Those are just our families typical, but if you have any allergies and want help navigating swaps, I LOVE that kinda thing (there are SO many ways to fake eggs in baking! I could talk about it… for way too long). So just ask me in the comments here on or FB.

Easy Whole Foods

Know When to buy Convenience, when to homemake it.

For me it doesn’t always come down to cost, though that does play in, but often what will save me the most energy/time/stress.The number one convenience purchases I make are for my kids. Dried fruit, the new gluten free PB&J bars from Trader Joe’s, and gluten free bread (Franz from Costco is the closes to white bread we’ve found and the girlies love it).  That means that while homemade dressing is super easy, buying store bought keeps me going back to salads again and again. I like Primal Kitchens Mayo as a base for dressings a ton, I can just mix it with sirracha or balsamic (tastes like a steak fries dip!) and it’s creamy and perfect (or as a base for Dump Ranch!). I also love their greek and honey mustard dressings, and Charlie often uses those to pack work lunches.

I also often buy the little nut butters to keep in my purse, RxBars, and all the sparkling water to drink… all the time.

Meal Prep… simply. Meal prepping can be an olympic sport, when I have the energy I do it BIG. Whole meals into the freezer, everything cut and washed and ready, breakfasts and quiche all portioned out, and proteins pre cooked, beans sprouted, and homemade nut butter done. That only happens every few months, hah. But my baseline meal prep is pretty doable in about an hour after  my grocery trip. Key: do it right after shopping, it’s easy to feel motivated before you’ve even put your groceries away. Everything is at it’s most fresh, and you end up having a meal prepped to eat right afterwards too, so it’s easy to feel like you will be doing it anyhow.

  1. Chop: I cut up my daily eating veggies (carrots, celery, easy kiddo grazable ones), zucchini, onions, peppers, and some potatoes. That sets me up for easy soup starters, or snack plates, hash’s for breakfast, or just grab n’ go snacks.
  2. Hard Boil Eggs (we use our Instant Pot to do it… and the shells pop off like magic)
  3. Soak and Cook beans (I use my Instant Pot for this too, I soak my beans overnight and then cook for about 30min!)
  4. Salsa Chicken (IP again, haha, I make two packages worth of chicken, with two jars of store bought salsa, and cook for 22 min and then shred for easy protein)
  5. Double batch Lentil/Bean/Chicken soup, one batch of soup can be a few days off lunches for Charlie and I, or dinner and next day lunch for prep night.
  6. Nut’ Ola, this gets put on everything. Salads, chia pudding, yogurt, with milk, easy quick protein!

That boils down to: Eat what feels good in body and heart, know how to swap when your meals get to heavy, buy it store-bought if it’s going to save your sanity, and do a veggie heavy meal prep to make it easier to reach for whole foods all week long. All so super doable, but hard to get the ball rolling. What works best for me is to start with one goal (meal prep is going to give you the best pay off!) and work on making that a part of your families routine. Despite no longer being on a Whole30, it’s so a part of our routine that my grocery shopping, meal prepping, and eating reflect these months and months of whole food eating, it’s been amazing to let go of the rules and realize that I still reach for great things, and am finding that I actually do have a lot more self control and self love than I was giving myself credit for.

I hope these tips can help your family! Again, if you have any other questions or want help trouble shooting a sensitivity, reach out in the comments! My dream job is to work at a natural grocer and just chat weird food aversions/allergies All.Day.Long.

Hiking With Kids

Summer in the PNW is a gift, a gorgeous bright and sunny daily gift. I am a city girl, through and through, but getting up early to make it to the mountains, fills me up in a way that libraries and coffee shops can’t. It’s not my everyday, but, when it is my day, I can feel my grin spread and the sun soak in extra deep. Wake up-2

Our girls love the outdoors, love to splash and play, stack rocks, spot animals, and of course… enjoy trail snacks. But, it hasn’t always been easy to get them excited about what essentially boils down to a walk in the woods with no real destination except wherever we decide to end. We have been slow growing a love of hiking and camping, and this last trip was a hallelujah chorus of “We made it!” “They LOVE it!” As we scrambled the trail, Ever shrieked about the river, the flowers, the wild blue berries and how “this was the best day of my life!” they even made it through the hour+ mountain drive without complaint and ending it saying “whoa! That only felt like 12 seconds!”

None of this has been by accident and I wanted to share my Top Ten Tips for hiking with kids! I’ll also share the details of where these pictures are from – it was a great end of summer hike with our girls, and perfect for their ages and ability levels!

One: Food. Pack food that is not just filling, but favorites. We have some food that we *only* enjoy while hiking. I call it “currency food”, or, food that acts as currency when I want the girls to be really pumped about something  {cough cough: mother of the year} and for us that is Maple RxBars and Juice Boxes. I only really pack those, for them, when we are going to be on a long haul adventure, and they love both so much that it really adds to the excitement of the trip. Here we have all the food, for all of us, for the day. The containers with the orange rims are plain greek yogurt with mango (for the girls), I add frozen mango and that with an icepack keeps the yogurt fresh and cold. We also have granola (grain free and not) with chocolate chips as a hot commodity treat, and lots of fresh fruit. The growler is full of extra water (we keep that in the car) and then we pack water bottles in our packs.

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2. Plan to stop. We know that if a drive is an hour or more, we need to plan to stop. Instead of not planning that, and being annoyed when (about 30 min in) the kids are restless and ready to run around or use the restroom, we plan on it. We hype it up, and we budget for it. Most of our favorite spots are up near/on Mt. Baker and there is an awesome coffee shop/bakery about half way up that has great breakfast burritos and tons of gluten free options (so long as you get there before it’s late!). We make a stop there, The Wake n’ Bakery, nearly every hike and camping trip. For about $10 the girls can each get a treat and we can snag come coffee before we get back on the road.

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3. Know how to entertain your kids, but also leave space for quiet and boredom. We don’t do screens in the car, but we have loaded their favorite music onto old phones and added a few of their favorite pod casts (Sparkle Stories) to choose from too. That, combined with a stack of books, coloring supplies, and some cheap $5 headphones from Target, has made for really enjoyable drives for all of us. Charlie and I can put on a podcast to listen to, and the girls are each listening to their favorite artists in the back (Colbie Caillat for Noele, and Laurie Berkshire for Ever! Can you see the age difference there ;)). Having music to choose from that suits their individual needs has made the world of difference for us!

4. Packing Smart. We used to pack EVERYTHING and then I felt fed up and erred on the NOTHING side of things… neither worked well. Everything left me cranky (laundry, laundry, laundry) and nothing left us leaving quick. We’ve now struck a good balance. We wear layers to wherever we’re going, and pack spare underwear and socks for everyone. I pack a ‘car bag’ of warm clothes, because you never know what the weather on top of a mountain will be like in comparison to what is was in our front yard. Here is the basics of what we pack and actually hike with: extra socks and underwear for each person, one good towel (can be used as a picnic spot, or to dry off), one water bottle per person, bandaids, food (as you saw above) with an icepack, tweezers, flashlight (just in case!), and one carrier (sometimes tula, sometimes our hiking back pack for longer trips since it can be loaded with a back pack of stuff too).

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5. Pick your hike well. Don’t attempt that seven mile hike, with a huge elevation gain, because you want a great hike! Pick the lazy two miler and feel successful at the end. When I dropped the idea that hiking was my workout, I gained such a better experience with my family. One day they’ll be out hiking me on treacherous loops, but for now it’s all about positive experiences! We choose low elevation gain, under four miles, for now. This hike was just a bit more than four miles and it was the perfect amount of challenge, but still left us wearing Ever for a good 1/3 of the hike. But we all ended feeling successful, sweaty, and tired.

6. Lower your expectations. Similar to five, we don’t go into any hike thinking that we “have” to make it to the intended destination, and when your only expectation is that you give it a quick try, then you will almost always leave with your expectations exceeded. Nearly every hike the girls shock me with their tireless desire to keep seeing more, but every once in awhile we have a day where they are just not into it. Instead of letting that color the whole day, my mood, and end in me feeling like “this will never happen!” (I can be a bit hyperbolic when things don’t go my way). I have learned that having just the expectation that we all get out of the car, see something beautiful, and enjoy it only till it’s not longer enjoyable. It’s helped considerably. I also can’t stress enough how much having a good attitude to meet your child with when they are melty and done… it will not only create a better bond, but it will often lead to a quicker recovery and a little more hiking.

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7. Let the kids lead the way and the pace. This is, admittedly, the hardest tip for me to follow. My girls are speedy when they’re speedy and molasses when they’re not. They stop to take off shoes (say yes to this! It’s SO good for brain development and their little bodies!), climb in the river, pee in the lake, watch a bee, ask umpteen questions about mountain lions… GO WITH IT. These stops, rests, breaks, runs, frolics… this is where their brains are growing memories and associations. One of my big hopes with hiking is to give my girls great memories (not ones of me telling them to go faster, not stop, keep your shoes on!) but ones of exploring river rocks with their sister, finding frogs on leaves with their Papa, and snuggling tight with me to ask if dinosaurs really would have loved living here. It feels laborious, but it’s always worth following their pace.

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8. Know your goals: if your goal is a speed/distance/view, then leave the kiddos with a babysitter and haul it on the trail (also, I want to do that… SO BADLY, but an all day baby sitter? That’s hard to find). I try to remind myself of my goals  of connecting, growing, and muscle creating (each hike, we make it a little further with less complaint!). Take time to take breaks, give a piggy back ride, and really hear your child. If they are done, be done. It’s better to turn back early than to have an exhausted kiddo trying to make it back on a rocky trail.

9. Know what you’re doing for dinner. This sounds strange, but after a day of hiking with children, no matter how successful it was, you will all be beat and hungry. Have a dinner plan. Maybe it’s something you tossed in the crock pot, or a stop at your favorite spot on the way home (ours was easy homemade GF pizza’s on store bought crust). It seems strange, but seriously, it’s so worth having this small thing in your back pocket already.

IMG_944510. Talk about it. Talk it up. Talk it through. Those three fragments make up the majority of my parenting. On the drive home from everything (playdates, school, restaurants, museums, hikes, camping trips, vacations, family visits… everything) take some time to ask open ended questions and wait to hear the answers. And be sure you give your answers too. What did you enjoy, what was hard, what was the most exciting thing you saw, what was the weirdest, what was beautiful, what was surprising? Did you feel nervous, excited, scared? Comfortable? On and on, this can help you figure out what kind of hikes (or trips or visits or kids or adults) your kiddo loves and works with best, the more you know your kids, the more they know you, and the more you can plan really successful and exciting trips together.

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The hike from these pictures is a beautiful one up in the Heather Meadows area of Mt.Baker. It was a combo of Bagley Lakes (we stopped at the second lake, to swim!) and then back via the Chain Lakes trail (a nice loop!). It was perfect with  confident 4 and 6 year olds, but would be a little sketchy with a new walker or independent three year old. It would also be perfect for a carrier baby. The water gets deep quick in the lake so it takes kiddos with some impulse control, and good balance on some scrambley rock parts.  This picture is from just down the hill at Picture Lake, the girls were thrilled to see it because this is the lake we come up and sled on in the winter! It was a little scary, and a big mind warp to imagine it frozen solid and how we sled on it (along with half the population of Bellingham!) and hike all around the bowl.

Also, one last tip. (bonus! 11!) Make the trip fun for you too. Part of why we chose this hike is that Charlie and I both wanted to jump into this lake! It is a bucket list item and I knew it would make the trip feel like even more of a memory and treat for Charlie and I too. And we both did it, and it felt amazing! One of my big goals is to model adventure. I want my girls to see me conquering fears, jumping in, and participating. It’s really hard for me, mentally, to get over this idea that I am more of an “observer” than a participant. But it’s really important to me, and to who I want to be, that I make the leap into participating and modeling for them and that I can jump in, be brave, and do things that scare me. This trip was a big one for us all.

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{nothing in this post is sponsored, no links here are affiliate, all just some spaces and information I wanted to pass on. }

back to, what?

Back to school is on my mind… with notebooks and corduroys on sale in every store I am realizing that the days are getting shorter and it’s time to start thinking about some routine again. It still feels strange to not be ‘going to school’ in the traditional way, I never (ever) envisioned us homeschooling, but year two, and here we go.

Being homeschoolers gives us a little bit of wiggle room with the dates on “back to school”. The district we live in starts this week (in august!) and I’m still clinging tight to all day beach days, my swim suit, and driving towards water whenever I get the chance. But, fall is coming and as much as right now is heat waves and water days, the rain and grey will be back in a blink, and we’re slowly readying our brains.

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Last year I went through all the hullaballoo of creating a homeschool space (with desks!), and then uncreating that space because it got zero use. Our schooling was in the car, on the go, at the kitchen table, around the computer, at the ocean, on vacation, and late at night when all of Noele’s brain was firing and sleep was… far.

This year, I’m letting Back To School creep in slowly. I’ve seen as the girls paw back out their workbooks, and begin to talk about their school friends and teachers (we attend a Parent Partnership Program through our public school that is AWESOME and provides free supplemental classes). I’m already seeing that this year will be very different.

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Ever is taking a far more active roll in school, we’re all sitting down and they’re excitedly doing math work while Charlie and I cook dinner.

This year I’m going to try and implement a *bit* more of a schedule to our learning, and hopefully that means a little more space for me to feel like I am getting a break and time to work on my own endeavors (like, this blog! Want to work together? email me!). I’ve never been a schedule follower, but my girls crave it and I can see how beneficial it would be. This year I feel ready to fill our planner up a bit, and get our educational ball rolling in new ways.

We have a science center membership (uh, did you know that you can get an annual membership to the Seattle Science Center for $19 if you qualify for ANY state assistance (even insurance!)?). And we’re gonna break it in. This is the year of math and science.

I’m still working on what kind of curriculum vs. unit learning we are going to be focusing on, but I plan to share more if there is interest. {let me know in the comments here or on FB} and about what worked for us and didn’t for last year’s Kindy experience.

(I have a post rattling in my head about being the most reluctant homeschooler… ever. But I can’t quite get it all pinned down, without feeling a bit like a jerk. )

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Needless to say, my heart is with the sun but my head is beginning to look for orange leaves and long sleeves.

Working out, with kids everywhere.

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I remember when I was 20, working out was just on my list. I’d go to classes at this building and that and then end my day watching ANTM or The Pickup Artist (anyone know these shows? My love of terrible TV has been around forever) on the treadmill at my University’s gorgeous rec center. It was another class to attend, box to check, and it wasn’t Herculean to get there.

Now, working out, with two kids always with me, is. . . not like that. It’s getting easier to squeeze in as they grow up, understand what I mean when I ask for “some space”, and have a long enough attention span to play and self entertain for a good block of time while I workout at home. But, it’s still hit or miss. It’s still easy to be frustrated with them. Their ability to hurt themselves, fall off something, or become desperately hungry RIGHT when my warm up has ended… uncanny.

Lately I’ve been working hard to shift my focus. Here are a few tips that have helped, infinitely.

  1. Let them join in, lower the expectation.

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I’ve changed my view from “okay, I’m going to do this 32 minute video!” to; alright… I am putting this on, and will finish it eventually. Often, that means 32minutes, but also fairly often, that means 65min with all the interruptions for books read, babies on my back during plank, snacks needed, back doors that are too sticky to open without help, a dog losing its mind, the cat puking, a spilled bag of sunflower seeds… you get it. I get done what I can get done, and don’t expect it to be as quick as the video promises. Instead of feeling like that is “less” of a workout, I reframe that it’s more. It’s just a new interval training; Mom/push-ups/Momming/dead lift/ mom/craft/potty/plank… I mean, this has to be doing positives for my heart rate!

2. Strike when the iron’s hot!

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When the kids are entertained and happy, playing or sleeping, or watching a TV show. . . GO! Ignore the mess around you, the dishes in the sink, and just get done whatever makes you feel best. For me, often that means that yoga gets prioritized. If the moment strikes again, then I’ll often lift weights or do HIIT, but yoga calms my brain. So if that 20min window seems to open up (or, thank you Octonauts, I create it) I take it. Guiltlessly, and without regard to the mess around me.

And, finally, 3.

Anything can be a workout with kids around. I’ve stopped feeling like it doesn’t “count” unless I’m in my sports bra, tracking my distance, or lifting a barbell. I’ve remembered that races with energetic six year old legs, monkey bars, hikes from the beach with ALL the stuff you need for  a day in the sun (You know what I mean; cooler, beach blanket, floaties, life vests, back pack of clothes and swim suits, and on and on and on…), walking with that preschooler on your back, and 85 trips to and from the car with the groceries… These ‘count’ too. These are what make my Lifestyle a healthy one, not how long I can hold a plank. This is the functional fitness that helps me to keep up with my wild ones at the spray park, and those muscles that can heft a 6 year old in and out of a grocery cart? THOSE count.

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My workouts have taken a shift over the past 7 years, they look a little weird now and different than what I see in Nike ad’s and all across my IG, but I’ll take it. It’s working for my body and, most importantly, my brain. It’s also for my little people, who are watching my every move.

There will be years for me to attend the classes I want, the yoga retreats I dream of, and the gym of my dreams. But, for me, this isn’t the year. So transitioning my brain to what my reality is, and allowing that to be not just enough, but GOOD, has been so helpful.

I was inspired to write this post after receiving the prompt #weirdworkout by Prana in conjunction with Sweat Pink. The idea of a weird workout stumped me initially, this is all very normal to me. But, stepping back I realized, my normal (and likely yours too), is a little weird. That doesn’t make it any less functional, life giving, and important. If you want to share your #weirdworkout and join in on the Giveaway for $300 to Prana and a two month supply of Organic Fuel  with Organic Vally and Prana you can check it out here. There are lots of ways to engage and up your chances!

 

 

 

The sun, the sand, the hauling.

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The end of this summer has been full of day trips, mountain adventures, and driving to new places. The girls’ familiarity with “quiet, Siri is telling me where to turn!” has grown exponentially the past few weeks. We had a slow start to summer as all the adventures felt overwhelming. Packing, food, life vests, hikes with small children, bed time worries, on and on… I let the anticipation of it going wrong eat me up and keep us home. But I tore the bandaid off and it’s been awesome. Now I’m sending out messages to friends with cabins, researching camp grounds, and wishing I’d packed this all into the earlier months, but don’t care much because Summer is rolling and the heat is here and we’re READY.

The magic of their ages is hitting me so hard. They are competent and strong hikers with legs to match their dreams. We can climb without carriers, they can pack their own little packs, and their zeal for sleeping outside is unmatched. They aren’t quite babies anymore, and that’s beginning to show up in our adventures in ways I couldn’t hardly let myself dream in the years before. If this summer, at 4 and 6, we are rife with day trips and few mile hikes met with smiles and conking out hard in the car… I can’t fathom what 7 and 5 will bring next year. I’m already starting to plan.

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School in our district starts in a couple weeks. But I have a feeling our school will look a lot like rock identifying, bird watching, and swimming ‘lessons’ in every body of water we can find until the weather turns. These girls have given me a gift in this life, in ways I can’t put accurately, they’re always allowing me to learn as I teach and teaching me with unending grace for my failings. I can’t hardly stand that I waited so long to just get OUT here, but now that we are, we are.

Each time we get where it’s wet enough or high enough, our family reconnects. The phones go away, the dishes aren’t present, the projects invisible, and all that is there is us. It’s hard to harp on a messy room when you can’t see it, impossible to stay angry at a husband who is pulling you up out of a river that took a hold of you. Hand holding over slippery rocks, wild adventures up strong streams, and rock collecting, on top of shell collecting, on top of agate hunting. I hear them clearer over the river, Charlie holds them closer near the cliffs and we all go quiet at the stars.

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Pacific Northwest Is Best isn’t just a slogan, it’s heart true. On our drives we are inundated with green and mountains, tree’s and rivers, and on our hikes up it’s wild flowers and berries, chipmunks and the tiniest grey mouse the girls had ever seen. It’s a dream to live here. I never want to leave.

I’ve always wondered why I don’t have Wanderlust… I think it’s because I’ve found my place. It’s all the high’s and valleys, beaches and rivers, trees and bright skies that are all within an hour from my cozy neighborhood. We have adventure and home all in one breath.

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ebb and flow(ing) all over the place

I am deeply sensitive and emotional, my mood affects my heart and my heart changes my mood in the most high and low ways. I’ve often wished to be different. To be unaffected and capable of just setting routines, schedules, and goals and not live so swayed by heartache, the news, a photo on Facebook, a harsh word from a friend, a squabble with Charlie, all of it.

The longer I live as a highly sensitive person the more I learn. Lately, the more I see that I can harness those highs and lows and emotions in ways that feel connective and full, and work for me. The less self-conciously I can feel my feelings, the brighter I feel and the more I have to give.

My heart is a naturally inclined to give, my answer nearly always swinging to not just a ‘yes’ but an emphatic and encouraging “of course!” and the same goes for my demeanor. While most of the people I surround myself with would claim that they have intense “resting bitch face” to the rest of the world, I stand out as a resting “hey! Come chat with me!” and I’m done thinking that’s wrong, or weird. I’m fully ready to know that… it’s just me! I am always wanting to hear someone’s story, and want to listen. Even if it is with a kid on my hip, another in the cart, and you’re ready to tell me all about your allergy heartaches after seeing all the raw nuts in my cart.

I am taking the ebb and flow of my feelings and using them. I am deeply rooted into loving giving. My knowledge, my experiences, my answers. I’m spending hours a week  (via snapchat, instagram, Facebook, and email) answering questions about online workouts, weight lifting, birthing, breast feeding, cultural appropriation and how we can grow in awareness. Answering questions about no-poo hair care, oil pulling, supplements, gentle parenting, marriage after betrayal, marriage after the ‘honeymoon’ phase ends, and on and on. I’m in the space of wanting to give, and put it out there.

I have been a user of social media forever, my blog dates back to my first years of college and sharing recipes for nachos (yes, seriously). I am a sharer, and lover of connecting people to each other. The only constant in my life is that I am always, inadvertently often, working on building communities. Always.

Since leaving the Mama network in the capable hands of Moms who had the right love to give, I’ve gone on to create a large network for Whole30, an active network for currently W30ing people, and a thriving group for fitness and encouraging each other without selling/product pushing. I can’t help myself. {also, if you’d like links to any of those groups, let me know in the comments here or on FB and I’ll add them}

All this to say, I’m not great at cultivating a niche, my heart is all over the place. I will continue on this space to overshare about weird natural skin and hair care, whatever strange super food is giving my heart and body a boost, my woes about time management and routine setting, body positivity, body positive fitness, and all that I am struggling with in joining that world and community. I want to share about the big goals I have for myself and the ways I am aching to reach them, and here and there about my parenting and my children. They’re my first and world, but as the internet explodes with growth daily I feel more and more hesitant to share them in a space where they will some day soon share themselves, and want to paint their own pictures. So they will always play into my writing, because they are everything. And where 99% of my time is. But know that the reason this space is quieter and quieter about parenting is because it is done with thought, not because I don’t have words just bubbling out and up and over about parenting in this phase (my heart aches to blog it, but they aren’t just my stories…).

I’m applying and pitching my heart out lately, I’m working to create some sponsored content I care and believe in, as a means of growing this blog into one that can help our family start to achieve some big dreams. Some unspeakable goals. And some fun. I hope that you’ll stick with me though this, as I muddle through figuring it out. And, mostly, I welcome and really really appreciate any feedback about what/how I am doing here. I want this space to function as a journal, because my heart needs it. But I also want it to work for someone reading, what information do you want? What are you looking for? And how can I help give that more freely?

Thanks for muddling through with me. And, shamelessly, if you ever want to work collaboratively, email me. I would always love and welcome the opportunity to talk through ideas.

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This photo is from a day we spent at a beach, alone. I snapped some photos that I’ve held tight to for a couple months now. They are traditionally ‘unflattering’ and highlight parts of myself that I’ve been wholly conditioned to hide. But, soon, I’m going to blog about the importance of normalizing bodies of all shapes being fit, and will get brave with them. But, for today, this easy to digest one that I am proud of. I’ve worked so hard to make headstand possible and create enough strength to hold it, so now I pop it up everywhere! Now to cross my fingers and begin a draft sharing some much more raw images. . .

30.

Waking up with a plan. A small routine. Knowing my legs can carry me far. Feeling my muscle tighten when I bend into a Sun Salutation. I trust the floor to hold me up and my shoulders to propel me forwards. I can kick up, and in, and hold, a headstand. I am confident in my curvy frame that shakes around as I tighten everything and focus hard in an effort to breath, and not fall.

Looking at them and feeling calm in their chaos. Love for them in the screaming. And deeper grace for their freak outs. I feel less frantic, more sure, and even surer still that the storms will end and the calm lapping water of them falling into me will resume as quickly at the tempests rage.

As parenting changes and gets harder and different and easier and new, I am trying to fall in deep and embrace it. Knowing that now, even more than before, I’m tending the hearts of eventual adults. And the deep arms of someone who will unconditionally listen, hear your subtext, and wait for between the lines to be spoken; even when it takes a long time. Those actions are life changers. Gifts my parents gave me and now I have the capacity to give to my girls, a cycle I want to continue and continue forever.

Not every day do I feel like an anchor. There are days I’m the trash bag that shouldn’t be in the ocean, being beaten by the waves and then flying away whenever the storm allows me to (often, to the bathroom to stand and cry and think “what can I do??? how can I do this??”). But the deeper their needs and hearts and desires grow it seems the more my days of feeling like a beacon and sure spot, grow too. It reminds me of the baby days, as they got rolling I felt so out of my depth and like the impossibility of meeting these immediate needs was crushing, and then days and months and years when by and I met the needs without thinking and filled cups and held them to my breast without thought, without ache or complaint, it became more and more my state. I feel that with this stage, not yet do I feel confident, but I’m nearly swimming.

I turned 30 a few weeks ago. I’ve never felt like I’m old. Rather, I’ve identified as a ‘young mom’ for about seven years. In the end of that title, I am finding a little pause… age. I am no longer a young Mom in the sense that I am young. And I am no longer a young mom in that my baby is not young. I am just, a Mom. The Mom, in my home. Mom.

I’m in a unique position of always having the framework surrounding me that I am *young*. My siblings are all around a decade+ older than me, so being the baby by a long shot has always aged me up. I felt comfortable (enough) in conversations with people much older than me, for as long as I can remember. When I finally had a friend group my age (college) that quickly shifted as I got pregnant young and made friends with other mamas, my peer number jumped up to about 30 while I was still 23, and ever since then I’ve always been the youngest of my friends too (nearly always).

Mama is slowly fading as it’s replaced by “Mom! Can you help with with this?”. Young Mom is gone. Peer group’s no longer care about age, I’m not even sure the ages of most of my friends, I know they range from around 23-44, but I doubt you could even guess whose on what end.

At 30 I feel more sure of my body than ever before. I feel surer still of what makes it tick and run and work it’s best, and more grace for the times I don’t choose that. I feel confident in knowing that I’m not someone who needs best friends, and treasure alone time and time with my family above basically all else. I feel calmer about time passing and more confident that I can absolutely have it all, just not all at once.

It isn’t all happening gracefully. I tantrum and cry about what I want right now, and cannot have. I wail about my need for more support, and more time with my love. I see the things coming that I crave and sob for the things ending that I love.

But, here at newly minted 30. I feel different. And glad. But not old. I feel more than ever that ages are fairly irrelevant. I’m a baby, so young, to so many. And ancient and “your 30?!” to so many others. But to me, I’m glad. To my girls, I’m Mom. And to Charlie, I’m his best friend.

30, thus far, is just fine.

 

Putting Together our Puzzle

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Often it can feel like all or nothing… parenting, working out, eating whole foods, all of it. I’m eating whole30 and meal prepping, or I’m making eggs and cobbling together snack plates full of chips and too much peanut butter for my kids. I’m reading, on the floor playing, making it to all the extracurriculars, and homeschooling like a boss…. or, it’s too much netflix, me lost in my book, or Facebook, and telling them “sure, in a minute!”. And more often than not I vacillate greatly between these. Working out five days a week, or days on top of days off in a row, lethargy, and a bad mood I can’t quit.

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I’ve found it harder and harder to find that balance of my needs, their needs, and my body’s needs. Summertime seems like it wouldn’t be that different for a homeschooling family, but it is. The schedule gone, the friends home from school, the pressure to soak up the sun on the days it’s here (PNW sun guilt is REAL), and the desire to be a really involved Mom who does fun stuff! often! I’ve been letting it eat me up a bit.

As I made it to several of the end of school year parties and activities, I found my neglect of my needs becoming acute, the workouts getting sparse, and the sugar abundant. I also found that as I fell out of balance there, I fell out everywhere, and so did my family. I was taking the girls places, but I wasn’t present. I was pushing them off, even at the beach in the sun. I was retreating from all of our needs.

Last week I attended a monthly Moon Tea (women circle) that I am lucky enough to be a part of, and in it I talked about  my fears with blogging, and IG, and really embracing how much I love it and want to work in social media and marketing (eek, putting that out there!). I got to let myself go inward a bit about how strange it feels to be so vulnerable in a public space, and how much I love it, even if it feels judged or strange, or that others can’t understand it. Since getting that all stirred up in my heart, and affirmed by lovely people, I’ve been in a new space about this balance.

Watching myself struggle and fall, and able to begin to pick up and put in line my priorities. What felt like needs in opposition is now starting to look like pieces to a puzzle of a Whole Family.

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Hiking and ice-cream, beach days and saying no to that activity in favor of a workout is okay. Whole30 foods, and missed workouts in favor of a longer snuggly bed time is okay. Telling my girls that I need this hour to do yoga and they can play or read is also okay. Asking them, directly, “what do you need?” is important. Following through is more important. Asking myself “What do I need? Now? Tomorrow? In a year?” and stepping towards each motion, is paramount.

Starting today, we are all holding our pieces and putting them into our family space, with equality and respect for each of these desires and needs we all have. Today that looks like hours spent coloring, hard conversations about life and current events (in age appropriate words), and me investing deeply in them and then in myself by quieting the noise with yoga.

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This post is rambly. And strange. And all about where my heart is at right now, and how I am finding peace and balance in the imperfect, and reflecting on how ridiculously and thankfully easy and light these needs are.

I want to fully acknowledge that I have an intense privilege to get to examine all of this. I live in a dream world where I am allowed and able to ask myself these questions, shift my perspective, and enjoy these years so fully. I know that many (most) others, don’t get this privilege, and I strive to be doing what I can to hear, see, love, and give to the communities who don’t have the same ease that I get.

Our family has so much to give, and we are giving it out everywhere we can, and brainstorming better ways to do and give and love more. But I’m starting here, at home. Raising kids so overfull of love that my hope is that they know and learn to listen to and pour that love out on everyone, anyone, those who need it most.

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4 forever.

It’s weird to feel loss over babies never conceived. It’s strange and selfish feeling. We decided, two years ago, to be done. We made that decision permanent.

Nearly every night we talk about it, and we squeeze hands with excitement about our growing family and passing phases, the girls newest endeavors and how what just passed has now passed forever. It feels so right.

I look into the back seat as Charlie drives, his hand on my thigh, Nolie’s eyes wide out the window looking at each mountain and hill as it blurs by and Ev’s still chubby hands thumbing a book, and I feel so full to the brim with our family.

They cuddle together to read, they cooperatively work to build their cities and hospitals and camping trips and doll houses, they are made to fit each other. Complimenting and contrasting in every perfect way, the light and shadow each flip flopping in their role as they play and love and chat seamlessly. A large piece of our decision was their total contentment in each others arms and hearts and lives. There was no lack, to need, nothing missing. Our puzzle of four fit perfectly.

But there are quiet nights. Where my brain wanders and finds that old secret PinBoard full of pictures I saved for the baby we tried for before we decided we were done. The bump pictures, the nursery, the old posts of my own recalling the magic of those months. The nights where I relive the excitement through a friends announcement or a commercial. And the ache, the forever ache of a mama, I think, is there.

Sometimes I just say it to Charlie, often at night, more often as we drive, always after a friend tells us about their impending baby. “I’ll never have another.”

It’s not said with sorrow exactly, but not with joy either. Peace, maybe. Calm, almost. Just with surety.

It’s strange to decide. It’s uncommon to make that choice before we hit 30. And it’s strange to some to do that after “only” having two.

I don’t doubt our decision, or regret it.

But, I’ll never have another baby. And that weight is so big tonight. 1093843_10100584074008060_2006042849_o-1

{back when my Nolie nursed, and Ev was a little babe.}

 

Narcissistic wanderings. Typical blog fodder.

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It’s as I’m sitting over my cold coffee googling “what do I do next?” that the tears start to fall. I’m a feeler, crier, a thinker and also a do-er. But? I’m an odd combo as I am also not a go-getter in any way. I have time, energy, ideas, and heart but zero drive.

So I’m sitting with windows open that span from our local technical college, a nearby University program for nutrition, pintrest homeschool projects, and a Facebook. And my kids are going on hour three of playing cooperatively, well, happily, imaginatively, and   most of all; Independently.

I’m whining to my husband about it and he says “Soak that up! It’s a sign of what a great job you’ve done!” and I’m crying “no! It’s my freaking pink slip!”

What next?

I have a lot of interests. I love writing but am finding more and more that my skills are zero when you apply any kind of deadline or topic umbrella. I am highly interested in fitness and nutrition but don’t know how/why I would ever want to charge people for that information. I would love to talk to people about food options/ideas/solutions all day, but I can’t fathom having the drive or oomph to turn that into a career.  I am decidedly UNentrepreneurial,  to a fault. But? I also don’t want to pour everything I have back out into something again and just end of taking time/energy way from my family (like I did before with the Mama Network) and end up only sinking money in.

This is a blog post that is exactly what blogs are about. Narcissism and verbal vomit wandering. But, here I am, looking busy on paper (homeschooling Mom of two managing a home and feeding my family whole/homemade foods seventy billion times a day, helping with a homeschool co-op, kid watching regularly, and logging endless hours nursing my now oldish baby) but with these moments that need some kind of filling.

Is anyone else there? It seems like an odd spot. Every post about Stay At Home Motherhood seems rife with how much endless work it is, not with how much odd left over space there is. Confusing space that could be easily filled with the menial (there are dishes in the sink and projects begging to be finishes) tasks. But those tasks are low on the list to me lately and my brain space needs are creeping higher. Being home is hard in many ways, but strange in ten times more. I am here with this hour(four hours?) of time but could be called away in 30 seconds to catch puke into my hands or clean stickers off the mirror. I am sitting calm and meditative for 20minutes, or could be talking my two through a sibling dispute for the umpteenth time because ‘in our home we talk’ through everything (again and again and again).

I also feel in between because I don’t want to leave this job. I have found myself, joy, and meaning in being a SAHM. I am finding my footing as a homeschooler and really sinking into that community more. When I am ‘on’ it feels like everything. I don’t feel buried by the dishes and laundry, I feel like I’ve found the ability to let stuff slide when we need to but to buckle down when we must. It’s just in these moments. The weird ones between needs. My brain is missing learning.

School? I don’t know.

And this post has no tie up. No lyrical beauty. No bow. It’s just… in between wandering.