4 Things We're Doing to Raise Healthy Kids

4.30.2015
I think all mothers have the health of their children at the top of their priority list.  I know I do!  I think about it daily as I prepare meals, turn off the television, and apply sunscreen.  I try to encourage my children to eat nutritious foods and lead a healthy lifestyle so that they can grow up to be big and strong and capable--just like their dad--because I want them to enjoy life to its fullest measure.  So here, in honor of the #chobanikids project, I'm sharing a few ideas of what our family does to create a healthy lifestyle for our children.

 
1.  Serve only milk or water.  No juice.

At our house, juice is reserved for sickies or toddlers with constipation issues.  The way I see it, juice is extra empty calories.  My children are much better off getting those vitamins straight from the food source itself.  We eat plenty of apples, bananas, grapes, and frozen berries!  The boys' pediatrician actually applauded me when I told him the boys only drink milk or water.  It's better for their teeth.  It's better for their weight.

Which leads me to...

2.  Serve healthy snacks.

Yes, I have totally been the one handing out fruit snacks like candy on Halloween, but I do keep healthy snacks on hand and insist the kids eat those to help tide them over to the next meal.  Some of our favorite quick things to eat are string cheese and air popped popcorn.  Sometimes I'll even whip up something special like a frozen banana smothered in peanut butter and a little nutella.  The boys know they can open the fridge to grab an apple or Chobani kids' strawberry yogurt and I'll always say 'yes'.  Did you know that Chobani offers yogurt pouches with fruits AND vegetables?  My kids love, love, love greek yogurt and I love that it is loaded with protein because it helps keep those bottomless bellies full.


 3.  Encourage Outdoor Play and Exploration
   
We are very fortunate here in Idaho to have so much space and wilderness to play in and explore right in our backyard!  Admittedly, I'm a sunshine addict; my happiness is tied to being outdoors.  (Vitamin D, baby!)  I'm trying to pass along that same love for outdoor adventure to my little boys by going on frequent mini hikes, picnics, spending afternoons at the park, and teaching them to ride bikes in the driveway.  An active lifestyle is what it's all about! 

I think it is especially important to let boys roam free and explore, to get dirty and sweaty, but most importantly, to push their limits.  How high can he climb?  How far can he throw?  What happens if...?  While watching my children play, I often find myself asking what the consequence of their actions might be.  Most of the time it's pretty harmless: he might hurt his toe or fall in the water.  And so I let it happen.  A small scrape or leaving sopping wet will leave a much bigger impression on his mind than my harping to 'be careful!'.  After all, I probably won't be there to swoop in to the rescue a few years from now.  It's best that he learn his limits while the consequences are small.  These little boys of mine are learning about the world around them and building confidence in their abilities at the same time.

4.  Sleep

After playing so hard outside, my kids need sleep!  (And I need a rest too.)  Nap time and bed time are top priorities in our home.  When one of our boys doesn't get enough sleep, he becomes deaf to our parenting and very whiny.  Everyone is happiest when we all get enough sleep.  Indeed, we have a regular bedtime routine which consists of pajamas, teeth, family prayer, and a story.  I think the story is my favorite part of putting the boys to bed.  We get to cuddle up together and I know their little minds are being stimulated in one of the best ways possible.  All around healthy!

*****

Please share!  What healthy habits does your family have?


We spent an afternoon picnicking in the South Hills.  It was a beautiful day for picking dandelions and hefting throwing rocks into the creek.  I'm looking forward to many more perfect afternoons like this all Spring and Summer.  These outings with my family just make me glow with happiness from the inside out.

How We Partied for Jed's 5th Birthday

4.27.2015

With all that's been going on personally and emotionally, I am grateful for the chance I got to put all my efforts and energy into celebrating the life of this awesome kid who made me a mother.  A worthy distraction indeed, and a reminder of just how blessed I truly am.

We began Jed's 5th birthday celebration a couple of days early.  On Thursday afternoon, Bron, Levi, and I loaded into the truck and picked Jed up from the bus stop.  We simply told Jed we were going into town for a special birthday surprise.  Boy, was he bursting with excited anticipation... until Levi told Jed that we hadn't packed Jed's bike into the truck with the rest.  Then Jed got all worried!  Little stinker.  Once we pulled into the bike shop however, it wasn't long before Jed was all happy smiles again.  He was getting a brand new bike for his birthday!!!

The boys settled on a black and blue 20" Trek.  It still makes me do a double-take to see my little boy on something so big, but he rides the bike with confidence.  Plus, he is much faster with those big wheels!  Needless to say, Jed is head-over-heels in love. 

^^All smiles after his first test ride.^^
^^Anxiously watching as the store owner replaced the original tubes with slime to prevent flats.^^
^^Admiring the new purchase in the back of the truck.^^

Then we headed to the park for a family pizza picnic and bike ride.  Not five minutes after arrival, Jed was testing out his new wheels on the grass when he suddenly turned and went careening head first into the ditch with a foot of water.  Jed did his first endo!  I thought for sure we were going home, but Jed insisted on climbing back on his new bike.  Jed wasn't going to let a little 'ol crash get the best of him!  I helped Jed climb into a pair of too small but dry pants from the truck and he rode until his legs gave out.  He was so excited and determined!  That's my boy.  Bron and I had a ton of fun just watching him and trying to keep up.  What an awesome family night out!    

^^Taking on the big grassy hill!^^

Saturday was Jed's big day: officially five years old!  His party started at 1PM and he could hardly stand the wait.  We invited three of our favorite family friends over for burgers, games, presents, and cake.  The day was overcast and a little rainy, but we partied hard anyway.  The kids were all so busy playing and we grown-ups were enjoying the conversation so much that no one left till dinnertime.  It was an absolute party success. 


Jed insisted on having a "rocket cake".  I have no idea where the idea came from, but it's what he wanted, so it's what the birthday boy got.  (Thanks to Pinterest!  Haha.)  I've decided that I need to do one of two things: stick with frosting simple round and square cakes or take a cake decorating class.  Oh well.  Jed thought it was the bomb and that's all that really matters!

^^Eating lunch!^^
^^Game time!  We played the classic Pin the Tail on the Donkey.  Then each child received a candy necklace.  Total hit.  I love how easy little kids are to please!^^

Happy Five Years, Jed!  We love you so much and are proud of the smart, happy, silly, sensitive, and brave boy you've become.  We couldn't be happier to have you in our lives. 

A Whole Handful: Five Years Old

4.25.2015

Dear Jed,

You are turning five years old today!  I remember thinking shortly after you were born about the year 2015--about how I'd be turning thirty and you would be turning five.  And holy moly, here it is already!  Where does the time go?

The other night you had your dad and I reminiscing about the day you were born and telling you stories all about when you were a baby.  You just laughed and giggled.  In the thick of it, I thought those sticky toddler days would last forever.  And now I suddenly realize that those days have slipped through my fingers like sand.  I wish I could stay the hands of time.  You see, your fingers aren't so sticky anymore (you wash your hands all by yourself!) and the messes I clean up are fewer and further between (you can clean your room by yourself!).  You're growing up right before my eyes, Jed, becoming smarter and more independent by the minute.  And while that fact makes me a bit nostalgic and misty-eyed, I'm also very proud of the little boy you've become.

Jed, one of my favorite characteristics about you is how sweet and sensitive you are.  You are concerned about the feelings of those around you, often asking me if I'm sad or mad or happy.  You give the best hugs and pray for the sweetest things--like asking Heavenly Father to surprise Mommy with a new baby someday.  Oh, it makes my heart ache and swell simultaneously!  You cried when I told you that the baby inside my tummy died.  Big crocodile tears.  I scooped you into my lap and we talked about it together, ultimately deciding that there was still hope and that everything would be all right.  Jed, you have a big big heart with lots of big big feelings.  I pray you see that as a strength and not a weakness as you grow older because the world needs more men with caring hearts.  (Just like your dad.)

Happiness seems to seep from your pores. Jed, you make me laugh every day.  You are so silly and clever!  Oh boy, do you have a sense of humor.  You and Levi get to laughing so hard I think you might fall out of your chairs!  Lately, you've been going on and on about 'knock knock' jokes, making up your own on the fly.  "Chicken who?"  "Chicken broccoli!"  Hahahaha!  And "Shoe who?" "Shoe in the box!"  I don't get it, but I can't get enough of your smile.  You are my sunshine.  

I am so proud of you, Jed.  You are adventurous and brave.  Cautious by nature, you are willing to try to do things that you are scared to do.  For instance, last week as we were on a hike with some older friends, the boys began jumping from rock to rock over a small crevice.  You were nervous, but you wanted to jump it too--all by yourself.  And you did it!  Just last Thursday we surprised you by letting you pick out a brand new bike.  Not even five minutes at the park, you were thrilled that you could actually ride your bike on the grass before you went careening head first into a ditch with a foot of water.  You did your first endo!  I thought that would be the end of our time at the park, but you insisted on climbing back on your bike.  Excited and determined, you weren't going to let a little ol' crash get the best of you!  I hope you hang on to that tenacity because it will gain you many successes throughout your life.

One little letter cannot possibly sum up you, your personality, or your many strengths.   Honestly, words come up short in trying to describe how proud I am of you or how deeply I love you, Jed.  Instead, I hope you feel it.  I hope you intuitively know how unique and capable and special you are.  I hope your heart knows you are loved unconditionally. 

Happy 5th Birthday, Jed!  May all your little childhood wishes come true!

Love,
Mom

 5 Months Old: Cool Dude Jed

Rough Week: When One of My Worst Fears Became Reality

4.21.2015
I hesitate to share this narrative publicly, but this is our family's journal.  I'm not writing this for attention or sympathy.  This is a story that is near and dear to my heart that I don't want completely forgotten... because it happened.  A baby happened.  Maybe one day this will all be nothing but a sad memory instead of the open and bleeding wound it is now.  And maybe someday I'll be able to look back and see God's hand in all of this.  But for now, I need to write it out on paper; it helps me to process, to leave events behind and move peacefully forward.


Let's start at the very beginning...

As many of you may know, I had been aching to add another baby to our family.  Month followed month without any luck.  No baby.  Finally, a full year after Bron and I began "trying," I threw in the towel and gave the whole business up: if it happened it happened.  I signed up for a big bike race and started making other plans. 

Miraculously, four weeks or so later, I was late.  One day late.  Two days late.  Three days late.  It was March 2nd.  I was so nervous to take that little test that my hands were shaking.  I set the pregnancy test on the counter; I couldn't look at it.  I'd already endured too many negative results over the last year.  So I took out the trash instead.  When I came back, two of the loveliest pink lines were staring back at me.  I couldn't believe it.  I was finally pregnant!  I fell to my knees in happy tears.

No joke, that positive test sat on the counter for two full weeks.  I just couldn't believe that it was finally for real!  I'd glance at it every time I was in the bathroom.  Yup, pregnant.  I couldn't help grinning from ear to ear.  I was so thrilled that over the coming weeks I let family and many of my close friends in on our exciting little secret: a baby due the first week of November!

Then April 15th began one of the roughest weeks of my life.

Last Wednesday afternoon my stomach started to feel awful.  Fortunately, Bron arrived home from his Montana trip early and was able to help me put the boys to bed.  I spent the rest of the night puking up every last shred of food from my stomach.  It was miserable.  I sat on the couch Thursday recovering.  I pounded the Gatorade trying to rehydrate myself--myself and my baby.  Come to find out, there was a nasty flu bug making its way around our neighborhood.

Friday I was feeling much better and we packed the car to spend the weekend at Grandma and Grandpa Nelson's.  We celebrated all the April birthdays with a delicious dutch oven cookout and the grandkids got to go on a belated Easter egg hunt!  Soon after arrival, however, Merri Sue ushered me into the house when she noticed some spotting in my yellow pants as I squatted down to talk to my niece.  My emotions came swooping in like a tidal wave.  I couldn't help the hot tears.  Was I miscarrying?  I wasn't entirely sure.  Maybe I was just spotting.  Either way, it felt scary.  Merri Sue helped me pull myself together enough to join the family outside.

It was killer hearing all those genuinely enthusiastic congratulatory phrases, the questions about how I'd been feeling and when the baby was due.  I answered as quickly as possible; I didn't really want to talk about it.  "There might not be a baby," I pushed the thought aside.

Next morning, more blood.  I instinctively knew: I was miscarrying my baby.

At that very moment I wanted nothing more than to curl up inside the warm embrace of my husband's arms.  I crawled back into bed beside Bron and sobbed.  I just sobbed.  The pain of disappointment hurt so, so bad.  All those hopes and dreams and plans suddenly erased.  A life no more.

Not sure what to do, I called my doctor's office.  The doctor on call reassured me that spotting was normal and that they'd see me Monday morning to check for a heartbeat.  Hope!  But for some reason I still couldn't help my eyes from welling up in tears.  I couldn't talk about it--even think about it--without crying.  Bron felt so, so bad.  The thought of a miscarriage hurt him too, but more so, he hurt for me.  He wanted to fix it, to make it better, but there simply wasn't (and isn't) anything he could do but be the supportive rock I needed him to be.  

Monday finally rolled around.  I would have been 11 weeks along.  Bron took the day off of work to accompany me to the doctor's office and we dropped the little boys off with a good friend.  The doctor reassured me that the bleeding could have been a result of my stomach bug.  She checked for a heartbeat.  None.  I went back for an ultrasound.  As soon as the screen came alive I knew something was wrong; I didn't see a fluttering peanut anywhere.  But there, unmoving in the corner, measuring around 6 weeks gestation was my tiny baby.  The technician checked in several different ways: no heartbeat.

It was official: I had miscarried my baby.

I was surprised that the hot tears didn't begin anew.  I think deep down inside I knew there would be no heartbeat.  One of my worst fears had just become my reality.  It wasn't as scary as I'd imagined it would be though.  The knowledge just felt... heavy.  Bron squeezed my hand as we listened to the doctor explain a few things.  I saw his eyes well with tears.  It hurt.  We hurt.

Now we wait for my body to do the rest.  It's not over.  My stomach is still swollen with fluids and inside lies my tiny unborn baby bean.  I feel anxious about going through "mini labor" and dispelling everything my body has worked so hard to maintain these last months.  (Can't I keep this baby?)  But I'm also ready to put this all behind me, to heal, to try again.

I have felt nothing but an outpouring of love from family and friends.  The love and tears I've felt in my behalf has been overwhelming.  I appreciate every call, every text.  A hug goes a long way.  So do flowers and brownies.  And those women who say they've been there, who know exactly how I feel--it's strangely comforting.  They all had more children.  There's hope for me too.

I'm not sure what I'm supposed to learn from this experience, but I am learning a lot, especially about compassion and what it feels like to be on the receiving end.  It's humbling.  If anything, I now have more empathy for women whose hardships cut much deeper. 

But still, the tears come and go.  I'll be fine one minute but the next my eyes are watery and red.  I'm sure it will be quite a while before I can talk about this without crying.  But that's okay because it means I loved this baby.  And I wonder.  I wonder if my little bean had a spirit.  Will I meet that spirit again in this life... or the next?  I'm grieving and it's normal.  Life will go on.  I know everything will be okay.  I still have so much to be grateful for and happy about.  This is just one of those unfair situations in life that just plain sucks.

^^I ordered these sweet sunny moccs just especially for my baby I was so excited about.  They arrived the day I had the ultrasound that confirmed I'd miscarried.  Of course.  Cruel irony.^^

Monthly Photography Challenge: Water

4.20.2015

Scenes like this evoke a lot of Idaho pride in me.  It's hard to describe how lucky I feel that this is my view, my backyard.  Idahome forever.

*****

See more water photos from our blog circle here:    
     

Thoughts on How I'm Managing the To-Do List and What Love has to do with It

4.14.2015

There are two things that make me feel like I'm rocking this gigue as a stay-at-home-mom:

1. Spending quality time with my kids
2. Keeping a clean house

It's a travesty that the two parts of my job naturally work against one another.  Most days I feel like I'm drowning in responsibility: so much to get done, so many places to be.  And though I have a very yellow personality--I have a very happy go-lucky attitude--I'm also part red--I thrive on organization and routine.

I noticed a little while ago that I started equating my sense of productivity and worth by how much I accomplished in a day.  "See!  I folded four loads of laundry, mopped the kitchen floor, made the bed, took out the trash, called about that thing, AND took the kids to the park."  Honestly, I was exhausting myself.  And life wasn't much fun; it was stressful.  I started lamenting about how I didn't get to that one thing that was on my "list" that day.  I deemed myself a failure because I didn't have time to scrub the toilet or I forgot to call the dentist to make an appointment.

It was so silly!  My kids love me just the way I am.  And Bron knows I always try my best and that's plenty good enough for him.  I simply wasn't being enough for me.

That's when I remembered my mom's advice when I brought home Levi: "Keep your expectations low."  And then my Grandpa's instruction came to mind, "Get the important things done first in the day.  The rest can wait till tomorrow.  And some things, you'll never get to." 

The hard truth is that our lives are defined by ordinary everyday actions and moments: taking the time to pray, reacting with kindness instead of harshness, practicing an instrument, etc.  Small consistent efforts like exercising 20 minutes every day can reap huge benefits in just a few weeks!

I resolved then and there to make my to-do list shorter, to minimize distractions that waste my time (ahem, social media), to "roll with the punches" and not stress over un-done tasks.  After all, it can usually be done tomorrow.  All I really have is today; I should make it count.

And that's where I had a personal light bulb suddenly illuminate.  Making my day count means working towards my personal goals, but more importantly, making sure my family knows that I love them.

Que The Five Love Languages: Receiving Gifts, Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, and Quality Time. 

Bron thrives on physical touch and quality time.  I could go into much greater detail about how I show Bron love, but the bottom line is that over the course of our marriage I have learned that I need to stop what I'm doing to really listen to him: to stop editing pictures in the evening so that we can cuddle, to forgo the sink of dishes to just be with him.  (And for you moms of young children out there you know that can be a sacrifice!  There are often fleeting windows of opportunity: The kids are fed, they're happy.  Hurry!  Fill the dishwasher before someone poops his pants!)

The epiphany is that when I take the time and effort to fill Bron's "tank",  my list of responsibilities still get done--one way or another.  Sometimes a chore is pushed off till the next day, but most of the time, most of the time Bron jumps in to help me.  Occasionally, he even cleans the entire kitchen himself--which speaks to my "acts of service" heart!

He feels loved.  I feel loved.  It's a win-win.

So the age-old advice about putting marriage first and everything else falling into place is really true!  I just wish it hadn't taken me nearly eight years to put this all together myself.  Good gracious, I married an amazing man.  And I am a lucky mother to two of the world's sweetest and wildest boys.  I am determined to devote my whole heart to these three boys of mine.  I want them to know without a shadow of a doubt that I love them and I want to show them every day.

Everything else will get done in between.

 ^^The little boys' first real kite flying experience a couple of weeks ago.  The excitement and grins were totally worth the $12 spent a hundred times over.^^