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.

The Midnight Tempest.

It blew through last night. The screaming, angry, thrashing, waves crashing down on my bed in violent ear pounding screams. Night time can be so dark. When you hear ‘no’, even gently, for so long, eventually it stirs up the waters until they begin to hit the shores of smoothed motherhood with harsher and harsher abandon. We’ve never night weaned. Ever has naturally lessened the frequency of her nursing, but her ferocity of love for this connection has never dried. And as it has ramped up and up the past few nights, I knew it was time for me to begin to say “not right now, in a  bit” a bit more. And the storm has been brewing.

Coupled with a cold, and the day of chocolate before this… I knew I was tempting fate.

Her feelings are enormous, and familiar, and mine, and begin with a small cry that swells into a yell and a wave that crashes onto me. Again and again. Into the walls and pounds on the doors and hurts and grows and recedes and comes back, again, this time taller.

Ever is the ocean and I am the moon, my heart and words pulling her huge emotions into the shore again and her heart crashing into my beaches looking for soft landing. Finding it, and the arms smoothed by her weight, every time.

And as my heart rises and her tide recedes she melts into softness and ripples and deep breaths. The undercurrent gone. The crashing waves, calm. And my arms melted around her the way the sand melts around your feet as the water pulls back again. One. So connected. Both our tears dry and kisses wet.

Ever is my ocean, deeper than I can fathom and brighter and more buoyant than my heart can hold. I am her moon, consistent and ever rising and falling and pulling her into me and allowing her back out to grow. We depend on each other, connected and confused, and always knowing the parts that are most important. Even if we can’t grasp each others expanse or need, we can always pull back to the other. We always nestle into each other. We always ware each other smooth till the kisses come back and the calm returns and the stars rise and we are there again. Known again.

This girl is my tempest. My teacher. The exclamation point to our family. IMG_6537

(bitter)sweet 6

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She was my cozy, cozy, baby. She and I logged endless hours of rocking and nursing, cuddling and bouncing. Those first two years she rarely left the Ergo. As she grew it was obvious what an incredible gift she was. She played, she imagined, babbled, and chatted. She included whoever was near her, her arms outstretched to the world to know everything there was and to welcome it in.

As she grew up her hands just reached out further. Knowledge, curiosity, questions, and ability grow, grow, growing. Her words and vocabulary sky high, her gentleness and love unending, and her ability to include her sister, enjoy her deeply, and play without ceasing… was beyond anything I ever knew.

At around 4.5 she weaned, but her snuggling never left. She cuddled and chose to start sleeping in our bed around that time. She found connection wherever possible and whenever needed. She has always known her needs, asked for them to be met, and generously met others without hesitation.

Nolie is magic.

Knowing her is a gift, my closest friends will all agree. She’s different.

At five she was textbook exuberance! Newfound kid-hood was exploding and with it was so much joy. New experiences. New confidence. And it was all so beautiful and exciting. I rejoiced with her as she found her footing in dance classes, and drop off playdates. As she sounded out words and and wrote first poems. Her songs unending as life opera spilled from her lips whenever she began to imagine deeply. She and her sister grew from siblings to best friends. Paramount to each others’ play, worlds, and imaginary worlds alike. She grew up, a little.

And now six. It’s all still there. The light behind her eyes, the hands outstretched, the unapologetic curiosity, quick grin and the brain that never stops. But there are new shadows. She’s aging, she’s on the cusp, she’s emotional, and deep. Her feelings growing more complex by the day. Her need for me changing. Her world exploding as she sees that there are doors, and experiences, worlds outside of her own. How she needs me is deepening in many ways but becoming lighter and lighter in the most tangible ways. I don’t often carry  her. I don’t often buckle her in. I don’t always make her food. I don’t hold her to sleep often. I don’t get up with her. I don’t nurse her. I don’t give my body to her.

I give my head. Her questions still run the gamut of “why is air invisible?” but now also are more …thoughtful “why do some kids not like me?” or “why are adults mean to kids sometimes?” “are there homeless babies?” “how can we give away more?”…. it’s changing.

She’s emerging. She might be an introvert? Craving time alone, all alone, to just stare into space “and day dream” and recharge. She is asserting herself. She’s choosing her friends, activities, everything with strength. When kids say “let’s not tell our Moms” she easily turns it around and suggests a new game. She’s so incredibly strong in heart. Her bravery deepening and her compass always pointing true North.

I read this post on Humans of New York today… and it summed up everything that’s been hitting me so hard. “…there is an unexpected sadness to getting your life back. Like you’re getting laid of slowly from an equally grueling but joy filled job…”

I often find myself with an hour here and there, where I am untouched and unneeded. Hours where the only sound is two little voices narrating amazing play. And I should use it, feel freedom, all the rest… but I feel sadness. Deep, deep, mourning for the years that are past.

Oh Noele Grace, you made me a Mama, you took my heart and cracked it wide open for me to learn to love and embrace. You did it all. You saved my life. I would live your baby years over again and again and again till my arms couldn’t carry you. You’ve been nothing but a gift my girl. And I am excited, but slow embracing, this new you. 6 is so little. So, so little. And so big. Slow down, my baby. Slow down.

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New Year, current me.

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{resolution one: be more of a babe. And let Tiffany Burke take a billion photos forever}

For ten months of last year I was a new me.I was me with layers of growth and learning and grace packed onto of layers of self doubt, and hate, and guilt. I was a me full of depth, the oceans deep of past and present and growth into one, Me. I wasn’t the mantra of “New year; New me” I was living This Year, This me. And it was so empowering.

I spent the time finding and cultivating a community of health seekers and people who don’t scoff at selfies, laugh at progress and food photos, and who are also all steadily walking towards the same goal of freedom, health, and deep self love. Wether in big strides, small stutters or crawling along, I found some people.

I dropped off the path in late November, and allowed myself to indulge. It wasn’t in (just) sweets, and breads, and eggnog (those things were fine. Hard on my body and skin, but fine and delicious, and by in large very worth it). What i really gave into, indulged in, were my deeper layers of guilt. Of self deprecation. Of “what’s the point anyway.” and in that I lost some growth. It’s not just body. It’s heart and brain that I found so much freedom in last year. It was going to bed each night feeling confident and calm in my head about my choices for the day. It was growing muscles and strength and skills. It was headstands, deadlifts, and plank times. It was self love regardless of scale, acceptance of my shape, it was growth in my marriage and confidence. It was all of it. It was a new me, because the growth and layers on top of my foundation were all so shiny. But I chose to indulge in the old ways of hurting myself.

And I want to say it was pointless. I want to say it was stupid. And I want to believe that it was more proof that I can’t do it.

But that is a deep lie.

And these past six days I have began to rebuild the familiar growth. It comes so much quicker now. I am waking up and choosing health with each meal, love with each thought, and caring for my insides. Not just my gut. But my brain. Towards the end of October I had really begun to delve into the power of positive thinking, it seems to cliche and trite, but it works. Repeating true, positive thoughts. Again and again. Taking each negative thought captive and casting it off. I’m back to it.

Because I refused to let eight weeks of indulging in harm to mean a new year full of self hate. Instead I started early. I woke up today, New Years Day, ready and full of compassion for my practice, my heart, and myself.

My intentions for the new year:

To live cliche. Because I am just that person. I love them. I’m cheesy as all get out. I want to do all the joy filled cliche’ out there. I want to live Actions Speak Louder than Words, I want to Dance Like No One is Watching, Any Friend of Yours is a Friend of Mine, As Beautiful as the Day is Long, Every Cloud has a Silver Lining, Laughter is the Best Medicine, and on and on and on… I love em’ all and plan to embrace what a cliche I really am. Proudly.

To end the year stronger than I started it. Simply that. Not slimmer, not smaller sized, maybe even larger. But stronger. That can mean in heart, or mind. That can mean in biceps and glutes. Stronger.

To be more like my girls. They give freely, love heartily, and trust with open palms.

 

Happy 2016. It’s a hot coffee, family growing up, muscles getting stronger, body being more loved, kinda year. It’s a long baths, try new things, read more books, be read to, kiss deeply, and hug tight, kinda year.

New year, same me, who I love so much.




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Other resolution. Be more like those two. So themselves. So six. So three. So fun.

Traditions.

When Nolie was really little I felt this huge need and pressure to create traditions. But I tried and tried and nothing stuck, felt right, or really worked. I can now see, looking back, that’s because we didn’t really know our family all that well yet. We were still figuring it all out (and still are, big time), we had lots of needs (need to nurse often, or snack all the time, need to sleep right.now., need to get a diaper changed, need to rear face, etc.) and those made traditions (that are often far away, car filled, late at night, long term, include waiting or lines, and often not super baby friendly…) hard. But as we are finding our groove with a, still so young, growing up family we are slowly finding that traditions are gaining, and so much fun!

But, we’ve had one (seriously, other than sweet potato cheesecake on Thanksgiving… I think this is it) long standing, forever tradition. And that’s the pumpkin patch! And over documenting! And donuts! And I love it.

This was year six. And goodness, look at how  much changes in six years.

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One not quite one year old, two exhausted parents wondering “are we doing this right???” and now … two big ol’ kiddos and two exhausted parents thinking “I think we might be doing this right!” And, whoa, that feels so good. Not that I don’t have days of intense doubt, but it’s pretty amazing to be coming into the time where we can see some of the results of our parenting (especially in Nolie!) and feel like “yes! This path, the one of endless talking and relating and loving and gentleness and not punishment… it’s working!” and I just want to go and hug those two parents from six years ago and say “hold her! nurse her! she’s great! you’re great!”

I obviously took a million pictures and I love them all. So here are a few… this is our family scrap book!

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This is the first year that both of the girls were fully into the family photos! Neither put up a fight, both giggled and smiled and picked apples and asked if they could get the donuts after this (of course!). We figured the donuts were a pretty good incentive to get through the sappy mom and dad moments 😉
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This was our first visit where Nolie was interested in taking some of the photos. She snapped a ton and has a pretty great eye! I love her pictures best because you can see that none of us are uncomfortable around her. All the kisses, grins, and loves are so authentic. So, thanks Nolie!
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Almost 6 suits Nolie. She’s just amazing. And made for a pretty perfect big kid baby holder for her sweet and tiny 10 week old buddy, Birdie.12087948_10101489502896310_1486973605987359779_o

She’s still all nut though. 12108722_10101489504458180_542569339146138902_n

Donut, that is. 12065479_10101489503839420_5553754914229578542_n

Ever Harbor Joy is 3.5 and a spunk. Wild, overflowing, huge emotions, slow growing empathy, and mindblowingly sweet. Her favorite things are to fly! and run! (she can run two miles! what?!) 12132537_10101489502716670_1168160652183001784_o

 

This was the last year this pumpkin patch will be open, but I know that our tradition will live on and next year we will be scoping out a new spot. But an apple orchard is required!

I saw the rain.

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This past weekend we had the chance to get away. To head out to summer camp in the cool fall near the rainforest. We experienced rain so loud it drowned out any loud night thoughts. We paddled quick to shore in the canoe as the sky opened up and we filled from the bottom up. And that’s exactly what I was needing. Filling me, from empty to the top.

Ever, exhausted and played out each evening, fell asleep on her own little mat, without nursing, each night. She came home, and the trend has continued. A season, chapter, a nurse, is ending (maybe). And it’s beautiful on it’s own. No hint of bittersweet. Purely sweet to see her pride in herself “I just have a nurse when I need you. But right now. I lay in my own bed and go to sleep. Night!” Allowing her to self wean (and night wean) has been one of the best parenting decisions I have made. To stop making it a problem “how much am I up at night?!” “she’s soooo old!” “when will I sleep through the night? How long can I endure this??” and instead to just live in each of these nights, knowing that while they feel so long, they end, and regret is heartbreaking and not worth it. It’s brought a huge relief and lightness to our nursing relationship. And it’s so beautiful. I hope we continue on for a long time (and I have very little doubt that we will) but it’s a beautiful feeling to know that if it ended today I would know that I’d given everything in my heart to make it positive and gentle. {Don’t mistake this for meaning that we haven’t ebbed and flowed and that I haven’t had my days of wishing we were done. Or wishing I slept all night, each night. But instead of that we have come into a season that is beautiful and easy in nursing. Our attachment is so secure, and not leaving all those nights grew that, even if I had wished at the time that I could go out in the evenings. I am so thankful I chose not to.And that I am so grateful to be able to see that it’s a relationship, and we’re in that cozy space of it working so well, for both of us.}

We’re a bit more than a month into our homeschool adventure and it has been more exciting, harder, more time intensive, stressful, and right than I ever could have imagined. I thought it wouldn’t be much harder than my SAHM gig has been thus far, because… really, it’s just kindergarten. But I wholly underestimated the weight of being the “teacher” and the job of getting us to “school” (she does a supplementary school program for a few classes a week, that Ev and I stick around for as well) three days a week. It’s still all very much in the air, and I feel as though I’m juggling six needs… balls…. events… curriculum… teachers all at once. But the one sure thing is that every time I watch Nolie in her classes, or see her at the table working through math problems I’ve spent time teaching her… I feel calm. Each time I am still with her and ask her about how she’s feeling about school, I feel so secure. This choice is certainly not the easiest on me, and is an enormous transition. But it’s the absolute best choice for her. And that’s really all I can give. Each year, each day, each child… making the choices to the best of my ability (we plan to reassess and decide each year, with each girl, what the best choice for them is). I see my main job as being her primary advocate. And while I am struggling through this I also feel better than I ever have about advocating for her education and needs. And that seems to always outweigh the doubts or overwhelm.

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With all the new stress and workload and change Charlie has been my constant. An unending fount of encouragement, and a space to vent my every (lots) frustration without letting that flow out (too much ) onto the girls. Two of the biggest lessons I’ve learned so far about homeschooling are to 1. Learn self care. Because your breaks will be few and far between, and the reality of being “on” all the time is intense. Self care is a non-negotiable for your own heart and health, and for the health of your family. and 2. It would be fully impossible for me if I didn’t have a support person to hear me out, all the time. Charlie helps me sit and write my plan for the week, or cut me slack when there is no plan, and really doesn’t need to be. He is there so say “yes! you are capable of this!” and also there to say “no, that’s way too much! Just call it a movie night and cuddle in.”

Back to that number one. Self Care. I’ve been using yoga and whole eating as my means of caring for myself inside and out. I finished up a fourth round of whole30 a few weeks back, and am on day one of a whole10 today to kinda reset my body after lots of amazing  and indulgent camping food. I’ve all but quit my high intensity workouts and running for this season (well, running here and there. But just for pleasure) and am choosing yoga because I can do it in short bursts here and there, at home so easily, and at this time… I just need the calm. And I need the awareness of how beautiful and strong and capable my body can be. And the constant growth of yoga is the type of pay off and accomplishment I am craving right now.

I made a little bit of time this past weekend for a little workout (stairs/squats/pushups) but also made time to stretch out each morning. And it felt so good.

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My writing is feeling so clunky. But my words are overflowing. I’m so thankful to have a space to put some thoughts, memories, and my heart out there. I’d also love any homeschooling resources you are loving. Any great FB groups? Blogs? Any inspiring, real, and not super overwhelming spots I could be looking for ideas? I’m at the very beginning of this journey, and I am looking forward to sharing more about it in the coming months. Any other homeschooling parents out there? solidarity and coffee to you!

update?

It’s been… a month and a half?

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I don’t know why. The girls are busy, amazing, and teaching me daily. But they are also aging and with that I’m putting less of them out “there” and keeping it close in here. My heart.

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Whole30’s are still going. I finished up my third round and feel like I have found my balance of fun/food/fuel/indulgence/dedication.

Mothers Day was… amazing. Charlie knocked it out of the park with a very fancy staycation with the girls. We are all high on the love, hot cocoa, king size bed, and soaker tub.

 

And that’s about it.  I guess I am just feeling a bit like a new woman and this is feeling a bit like an old blog. Not sure where I’ll go from here. The parenting stuff is still big, consuming, and a new constant conversation full of love/empathy/fighting/researching/struggling/banding together with Charlie, but it’s all so specific to our girls’ stages that it seems like it might be strange to put into a blog.  And the food stuff is changing me. In enormous and love filled ways. But I also know that it’s weird to put all the body/food/workout selfies out there any more than I already do… so? I don’t know. I guess I am just needing to sit in this in between. I know God has some big plans coming for me. But right now I am in the stripping away phase. Dropping online responsibilities, writing work, much of anything, in favor of just hunkering into my girls. And our home. And Charlie. But something is coming. I can feel that.

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SAHM Dairy, Chapter one, the end?

ever deskI got pregnant in my final year of college. As I walked for my graduation, in cap and giant gown, my little 4mo bump hid out underneath. I treasured that my first baby  walked with me; I didn’t feel ‘too young’ or like my future was gone. I knew, without a doubt, that I would stay home with this baby. It was important to both Charlie and I that I was home with our kiddos while they were small. But the expiration on that has always been hazy.

A few years.

Once they’re school aged.

After they wean.

Or…. wait? when?

And now I’m quickly approaching those end pages of the “small” years. As Nolie readies herself for some kindy experience (ps. jury is still out on what that’ll look like. But balls are in courts and wheels are turning in different spots, and all the prayers for wisdom are appreciated) in the fall, and Ev whets her feet in preschool this spring, I can see the end pages of this first chapter of motherhood.

When mama life was fresh, dim, and lonely, a friend and I started a local “mama network” and it became my anchor in the ever blustery storm of parenthood. Where I reached out for advice, support, and tangible help. It was the spot that, as my sea legs grew, I could feel that mastery as I offered up latch suggestions, and breast feeding help, how to exercise with a baby in tow, and what exactly “baby led weaning” looked like. It has been my first click when I sit at the computer and my greatest comfort during the stages that feel deep and unending with my sleepless wonders. And, most of all, it’s where I’ve met my nearest and dearest friends. The ones that even if facebook, and the internet collapsed, I’d have them. We’d be making weird meals, sharing husband stories, and pouring strong coffee while bouncing each others babies. They are my village and without the Mama Network, I never would have found them.

But the story of my time as an administrator there are also rapidly fluttering pages, coming to an end at some point.

In April I will step into having two days a week with a solid chunk of time (three hours!) of kidless time. I’ve known this was coming for a few months and have been struggling and buoying through ideas of what I “should” do with my new found time, and the time I have daily as the girls now play/read/entertain themselves so often, and the time that is eventually coming as school becomes a reality. The “shoulds” are great and suffocating: work, money making, volunteer work, something “worthwhile” ….

But the closer (gulp, just a few weeks!) I get to this chunk of break time I get the less sure I feel of … anything. And the only thing that seems sure is that I am excited to have a few months, at least, of time to just deeply focus in on my girls without distraction, during this amazing phase where they are no longer babies and are engaged and engaging in the most fantastic ways.

Charlie has encouraged me to just write. Sit. Sleep. Eat cake and watch Netflix. Take the break that our brand of parenting doesn’t allow for the first five years. It feels negligent and indulgent. And possibly just right.

Nolie and Ever think that I should “take rests. by yourself.”

And I am starting to see that maybe the rest of my family has it right. And that there is some deep rest, reflection, and, hopefully then, action, coming soon. But for now, I am aching to slow these last pages down, read each word slowly, and savor these, still small, characters that I get to enjoy all day, every day.

 

Whole30 Family Results.

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I’m sitting here feeling like I’ve found the golden key and simultaneously like I know nothing and am at the very beginning again… The whole30 is it’s own beast, and one that has me back to studs in my heart trying to discern what tastes good/what feels good/what “feel good” means/and where the heck I got the idea that donuts once a week was “fun” or felt good or was good for me or my kids.

Somewhere around day 5: The girls were begging for noodles (a very frequent meal around here :/) and  I whipped them up a bowl of noodles with pasture butter and fresh parm (good stuff! right?) and as Nolie was shoveling spoonful after spoonful into her mouth, and I was feeling satisfied to see her finally eating a meal that day, she started to squirm. “My belly hurts. It hurts but I don’t want to stop eating. I want to feel fuller.”

oh. uh. what?

I know that feeling. It’s exactly what I feel when I eat bread (homemade or franz, bakery or store-bought…) like I just want to keep eating, even though my stomach hurts, I don’t feel “full” I just feel… not done? It’s the same feeling that motivates me to eat a whole Sourdough Boule from Trader Joe’s (with Brie, yum) and then bemoan(or just moan) my choice for the next few hours while I sit on the couch feeling overfull and underfed.

I don’t know when or how my five year old got to that… but I do know that it’s because of what I was putting out there. Of my weird notions about what she “would like” or “could eat” or “she’d NEVER like that”. Because, the thing is, Nolie is an AWESOME eater. But the foods she likes take effort (on my part). She loves roasted vegetables (Primarily beets!) and dark meat on  a whole roasted chicken, and buttery quinoa, steamed broccoli… like, she would eat those foods for every meal. But that meal? Hours of time. Prep. Money. Energy. Workworkwork. So? Noodles became my go-do to get them full during the day.

It wasn’t till we started this whole30 (a modified elimination diet, but not at all a legit one, as it’s all self led/instagram led 😉 and not persribed by a doctor or naturopath) and began to eliminated grains/dairy/sugar from our home that I noticed how worth it the work was, and how I could prep ahead and be ready to feed my family well.

We’ve started prepping meals… roasting chicken, roasting veggies, sautéing greens, baking eggs, having all the protein/greens/fats/fruits on hand and closer to us than a bowl of pasta. And the proximity? It’s working. There are plenty of meals that on days 1-15 the girls just saw/wouldn’t touch and would request something else (our go-to’s if you aren’t a fan of dinner are apple/PB, turkey/ham and nuts, yogurt and honey. I’m always willing to serve something easy to the kids if they aren’t a fan of dinner and I would never remove an entire food group from a kiddo unless it was obvious that they had an allergy). But the most amazing this has been happening… as these foods are on our table more and more, as restaurants are becoming a distant memory (sob sob!), those foods are becoming more and more normal to the girls and, without pressure, they are trying and loving them!

The effects on Nolie are less obvious, an expanded pallet, easier time falling asleep, and a general level of energy/calm instead of high highs and low lows.

But  on Ever? It’s been crazy. She’s 2.75 and has always had big feelings. But recently her emotions had been getting huge and scary and seemed to be out of her own control. I reached out to friends, Facebook networks, books, and kept coming up pretty blank. “developmentally normal” or maybe sensory related? She would, seemingly without a trigger, just completely lose it. Her eyes would go glossy, she’d scream as loud as she could, pinch/hit herself, pull her hair, throw herself on the ground… it was awful, heartbreaking, and impossible to help her till she just, eventually, came down. She was having one or two a day, most days, and we were just weathering them while I clung to the hope that this developmental stage would pass.

Then we started the whole30, the girls weren’t on it 100% at all, but their consumption of gluten/dairy became HUGELY reduced. Their consumption off highly processed sugars (donuts…oops? every week. oops?) was drastically cut back, and the fruit/veggie consumption sky rocketed. And one week in… It dawned on me that Ever hadn’t had a single freak out. I brushed it off and assumed it was a fluke. But the days kept going by, the meltdowns were small and normal and not at all near the caliber they had been, and she began to sleep at night. We are now about two months into having a gluten/dairy free home (for the most part) and the two times that we’ve let her have a big amount of gluten… she’s had a huge and heartbreaking meltdown. So, now, we are limiting gluten in a big way.

I am pretty shocked by this. I have never been an advocate for putting kids of elimination diets unless there is a VERY good reason. But I am beyond thankful that this happened so naturally, and that it’s been by and large easy to keep out of our diet and home.

We have no intentions of going back to gluten or dairy with any kind of regularity, and so far the girls don’t mind at all. It’s amazing what having healthy option on the table, meal after meal after meal after meal, can do for a kiddo pallet. They didn’t want/try/like things the first, second, third, or even fourth, but often times the 5th time they saw it, they would try it! Or the 10th time, they would like it! Slow and steady, and healthy. I am in shock and so thankful!

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