Ideally Realistic Holiday Review

With three children now, still working somewhat, attempting to recover good health, attempting to somewhat keep up with a healthy diet while combating serious nursing difficulties over the past few weeks my real life has been in pretty stark contrast to my ideal life. Looking back over the Holidays makes me giggle a little. Cuz laughing at myself is a healthy, sanity saving skill I learned a while back.

Our ideal tree, the one that we created hand made ornaments for out of natural and or reusable supplies while having fun with the kids making memories as we made the ornaments was supposed to look something like the one pictured below.


In real life, aka as reality our tree looked like a hobo’s collection of ornaments exploded upon it, barely snagging the branches in places and hanging in grouped clusters in others. It’s what happens when kids decorate a tree. Not to mention the bottom half the tree was adorned with everything deemed unbreakable while anything remotely breakable was assigned to the upper half. That is what happens when reality includes a tall toddler man cub loose on the premises. Reality tree also had both white lights and colored lights…mixed…which seemed like it must be breaking some cardinal tree decorating rule somewhere.  In my sleep deprived state state at the time I ended up comforting myself by making it a life metaphor for how beautiful messy, mixed up, rule breaking, lives can be. After all some of my favorite photos by favorite photographers are ones in which all the ‘rules’ are broken. Never-mind they are tastefully and strategically broken…not strung together in tangled chaos because 2/3rds of the strings of lights mysteriously refused to work this year.

Oh and what about the tree topper you may be wondering? What tree topper? That’s right. Our tree had no topper this year. Was going to get one and then never got my act together to buy one or make one.


Our kids thought it was the most beautiful tree ever. And made so many happy memories working on it. My theory is that charlie brown homely trees make kids happier than beautifully and artistically themed for optimal aesthetic pleasure trees do.

In an ideal world, we were going to make 7 different kinds of gourmet cookies in large batches, from scratch with all natural ingredients spread out over several days. Once they were all completed they would be divided up into beautifully arranged cookie gift platters and given to relatives, neighbors and friends. It was going to look something like what is pictured below.


Reality was that one single type of cookie was made in one large batch. It took all evening with my little helpers fully engaged to bake sheets and sheets of cookies while the little ones took turns helping with the decorating icing bags and naturally dyed sugar sprinkles. That single solitary type of cookie ended up looking like this after they were decorated and left for the icing to firm up on cooling wracks…Picture taken just prior to the previously mentioned bear cub toddler helping himself to them by shoving a chair over to the area to gain access.


Returned to the kitchen to find the icing scraped off of half of them and about a third of them crumbled into a pile of crumbs. Yup. That was memory making reality. Our cookie gift baskets were stocked with Trader Joe’s cookies instead. Bless them for both having a wonderful holiday variety along with lots of gluten free options as well and fairly wholesome ingredient listings. It hurt my perfectionistic, bakers heart to the core but it got the job done.

Ideally we were going to spend the days leading up to Christmas doing all sorts of fun, Advent themed projects while carefully packing gifts for the many family members we planned to see on our long anticipated trip down to my home state of GA. It was going to be organized, neat and tidy, personalized and done on time because I had a plan.

Reality was our wee baby boy got sick. Very sick. The trip was cancelled while we waited hour by hour to see if we would have to take him to the ER. He took a drastic turn for the better the day after we were supposed to leave and we decided to go after all. We packed in a mad, slapdash manner. All order out the window. Barely grabbing enough supplies to throw together basic gifts for the family without all the personalized notes and special touches that were planned.

Almost all of the ‘ideals’ and plans my over achieving self could come up with went up in flames this year. Reality came along and tore them to bits, trompled all over them and ground them into oblivion for good measure. While nothing that came out of my holiday was Pinterest worthy…it was perfect. Beautifully sweet. Peaceful. Surrounded by loving people. My sweet little immediate family and lots of extended family from all sides. Overwhelmed by generosity to us and our kids. Delicious food. And an older generation that we may not see again earth-side meeting our youngest. Tears of happiness were shed more than once.

Granny Roberts and Doodles IMG_5791 IMG_5808 IMG_5821 IMG_5741

I wouldn’t trade one minute of what the Reality of our Christmas Holiday was for any of what my ideal plans were. Ok, I take that back. Maybe for the cookies. Those were going to be some incredible cookies. Ah well. There is always next year! =D

Hope the Holiday Reality you experienced was every bit as wonderful as the one we were blessed to have.


Our kids are pretty hilarious. At least we think so. I don’t normally share their stories on my blog and typically they get posted in snippets on facebook. Have decided to dedicate some blog space to the funny, crazy, exasperating or amusing stuff our kids fill our lives with.

Tis only fair. They firmly believe in tattling on each other or us to the world at large. Plus one day I’ll want accessible documentation that they really did do all the things I vaguely remember them doing.

As a point of reference, Doodles is 5 goin’ on 6 and Cman is 15 months old.

Doodles is on a bathroom privacy kick. For herself of course, as parents we still don’t qualify as requiring privacy in the bathroom. Heh. She’s starting to grasp the concept of knocking first but it still evades her in times of crisis. Crisis being defined as a stubbed toe, hang nail, feedback on a meal or an announcement of how she happens to be feeling at the moment.

This afternoon she’s in the bathroom with the door shut humming a tune from Dumbo while she brushes her hair for the umpteenth time. C knocks at the door. Doodles says “Who is it?” C knocks again triggering a full on sisterly lecture: “Is it my brother Caleb??? CALEB! You know that girls need their private time! You can’t just interrupt a girl in the bathroom like that! What could you possibly need? You are wearing a diaper so if you need to pee just goahead and pee already and if you need to poop I know Mom will change you and I just played with you and right now it’s my PRIVATE TIME brushing my hair and maybe my teeth so just *leave*”

C knocks again and smooshes his nose against the crack in the door and croons “Hi dere” in a sweet baby voice.

Cman Standing at a door

Cman Standing at a door

Insert long pause from inside the inner fortress of a girls private sanctum before the response in a choked up emotional voice…

“Ohmygoodness. You just said Hi to me. That is *so sweet* of you! (opens door) Ok you can watch me brush my hair I guess.”

C with a huge grin trundles straight into the bathroom lugging his truck. He all but gave her a high five. Totally a triumphant moment for him.

The master button pusher just got played by a 15 month old. I enjoyed it for all of 30 seconds before it dawned on me that now I have *two* of them fully capable of master level button pushing.

I’m officially in trouble x2.

Learning What Not to Be

Seems like everything related to the world of being a Mom is complex, complicated, fraught with controversy at every turn and chock full of freely expressed personal opinions. Not to mention the black and white “this is universally wrong” and “these things are universally good” camps.

It can be exhausting. As if just the straight up survival of pregnancy, kids, work and life wasn’t tiring enough. It’s important though so we keep slogging through information, keep digging down to the next layer of reserves and keep searching for any small improvements over where we are.

Lately I’ve been trying to come to grips with what being a Good Mom means to me. And, subsequently, to my kids. I grew up in and run around in a lot of homeschool circles. Along with a lot of very conservative Christian crowds where the definitions and teachings of what constitutes the high and holy calling of being a wife and mother can get pretty close to 100% martyrdom with calls to lay down your life, your sleep, your right to self, and any number of other ‘selfish’ things. Conversely I’ve seen a lot of women who just flat out don’t “get” why their life priorities, bodies or anything else should have to change to accomodate children. Children should simply arrive into their lives with as little discomfort as possible, be scheduled into submission as soon as possible and life inconveniences caused by said children is to be resented to the fullest.

Either end of this spectrum has me squirming in discomfort. It seems increasingly difficult to choose my own path of what constitutes me being a good Mom to our kids. Sometimes my priorities shift on a day to day basis and other times I feel comfortable making a plan and holding the course for weeks to months at a time with only the most minor of tweaks. I am still a very long way from figuring out what I should be…but, I do feel as though I’ve gotten a lot closer to what I should not be.

Our kids need a Mom who is their Mom. As unique as they are. And, if you’ve met my kids you know that is preeeeety far down the scale from normal or average. I should not be like any other Mom who is following a life plan that reads more like a personality profile dictated by a Preacher, Teacher, Politician, Psychologist or the opinionated neighbor down the street.

I should not be guilted into a deferential facade when socializing around parents who’s parenting philosophies differ sharply from my own. Even if they freely express disparaging comments about the very parenting techniques I am choosing to use.

I should never ever be ashamed or embarrassed by our children. Motivated to work harder on problem areas? Sure. Pray they don’t catch some awful disease from the bugger they just consumed out of their nose? Absolutely. But that is a whole lot different than smarting under the shame of a child who has failed behavioral expectations by being ::shock:: a child. Even a precociously brilliant social un conformist of a child.

I should not let my world revolve around our children to the point of my entire being and identity is swallowed up by who and what they are. Or what they are eating. Or pooping. Or saying. Or wearing. Mommyhood may be what takes up the vast majority of my mental, physical reserves and time these days but it should not be what primarily defines me as a human being. My husband married a woman who was not a living incubator, doubling as a milk cow or a drill sergeant attempting to structure a daily routine and work around offspring. He deserves to see a glimpse of the pre-child woman he married every so often and amazingly enough, kids deserve to see that Mom is a whole lot more than *just* Mom. Keeping that woman with interests and conversational abilities beyond what the 2 yo managed to flush down the toilet today alive may mean cutting corners off the idealistic self imposed perfect Mom profile we all keep in the back of our minds to flog ourselves with occasionally. We all know we can’t live up to the Perfect Mom Profile and it’s very existence is merely a tool by which to torture ourselves with yet we hang onto some customized version of it anyway. I should not model self torture to our children.

I should never ever pretend to be perfect. Our kids are gonna fail. Are going to make mistakes. I’m definitely going to fail them and fail myself. A harder lesson than achieving life success is learning how to accept that life is hard. Life is messy. Life contains mistakes. Sometimes a lot of them. Personal responsibility, learning how to apologize and work to make wrongs right are far more valuable lessons than learning how to build a good image.

I should not rescue them from life. Every instinct of my mother-bear nature wants to help them up the ladder at the playground. Wants to intervene when the bully kid walks up and fires off an insult while evaluating if my kid is their next favorite target. Wants to hide them away from the ugliness that rears it’s head in even the most innocent places of the world around us. Wants to pretend that childhood is all lemondrops, rainbows, unicorns, magic and marshmallows (hfcs free of course). There is a time and place for appropriate parental involvement and presence to be made known. But our kids deserve the chance to see if they can figure out how to balance on their own before being swooped down on by RescueMom. If they can come up with a way to deal with the bully and turn them into a friend. To identify and express outrage against the injustices of this world as only the mind of a child can.

And perhaps most important of all? I should not be afraid. Of being different. Of being the same. Of failing. Of getting old. Of being tired. Of not getting enough done. Of doing too much. Of pushing too hard. Of being too lenient. Of being a Mom. Even if childrearing is by far the scariest thing I’ve ever done. It’s Ok though. One day I’ll actually go skydiving and then childrearing won’t seem scary at all.

I’m off to kiss our sleeping kids. Sweet rosy cheeks tucked away in bed with unruly blonde hair spilling all over the place. I should not allow my heart to actually burst with love and adoration as I gaze at them. On second thought, maybe I can just let that one slide. Just this once.


Better than Nothing

Waaaay back when I first started blogging about traditional foods and healthier lifestyles I wrote what has been one of my most popular posts. Good, Better and Best options with our food choices. In hindsight I think it’s one of the most popular posts not because it’s well written but because people desperately need options. Compromise has become a necessity.

We are asked on a frequent basis “But if I can’t find or access xyz food what do I do?” or “If I can’t afford this or that supplement or food item?What then? What then indeed.

I don’t know about you but I prefer a world with black and white. Nice simple and easy choices. You know, like whole foods are best. Always buy whole foods. Ahhh. That seems simple! I can do that! Only buy whole foods. But then you learn about soil depletion and the effects of fertilizers, pesticides and fungicides and think oh no, whole foods aren’t good enough. They need to be all natural or ORGANIC whole foods. Taking the hit to the budget is worth it. You just tighten up elsewhere. Then you learn about the varieties of whole foods chosen and (gasp) genetically modified to withstand transportation  and decide that locally produced, heirloom variety whole foods are the way to go. As you dive deeper and deeper into the world of nutrition the lists of Thou Shalt Not Eat and Thou Shalt Not Source becomes ever longer.

Along with the Eat Nots and Source Nots there also pop up the Prepare Nots with all the different ways whole foods will actually deplete nutrient reserves when prepared improperly. It’s enough to make one want to give up on the whole thing and go get a full meal off the McDonalds Dollar Menu. Except you do vaguely remember how it sits like a rock for hours afterwards and you’d have to resort to downing one of those expensive digestive enzyme pills just to feel human again. Not to mention that article you saw float by your newsfeed a few days about about the McDonalds recall of their apple slices. And if they have to recall apples who can risk a hamburger there?? So instead you sneak a bar of chocolate and try not to think about the fact that it has sugar in it and that Fair Trade is a meaningless term so the poor people you thought were being treated fairly actually are still getting paid a pittance and the whole world of packaging and labels is just one big scam. Then you remember that according to that one MLM company nobody actually sells TRULY raw chocolate but them, everybody else is just lying.

Speaking of scams. Those darn free range eggs you scrounged up the extra money to buy?? Turns out they have soy. Oh yes. GMO Soy. Which means all the hormone free meat you go out of your way to buy might as well have had hormones because you now know how bad GMO soy feed is and how much estrogen gets dumped in the eggs. Those beautiful gorgeous orange yolked eggs. You gaze at the package feeling a little sick but most of all disappointed.

Sometimes it feels like we just can’t win for losing in the nutritious and safe food battle.

Doodlebug helping to pinch traditional Czech homemade cookies with jam for Christmas treats

Doodlebug helping to pinch traditional Czech homemade cookies with jam for Christmas treats

It would be one thing if all of this was for us. Us as in adults. But it isn’t. We are slogging through the information wars for our kids. We are sourcing for their health. For their nutrition. In my experience only as our health directly affects our children (ie nutrition in the womb) or our ability to have children do we REALLY get dead serious about the whole nutrition thing. That or a life threatening illness. That tends to do the trick too. It is impossible not to care or to walk away from what is learned and to let go of “ideals” when it involves the next generation. And the parent guilt sets in. Especially if you know now what could have saved your first or second borns a lot of health grief and you see the difference in your next child. Or if you are a parent looking back at your kids lives wishing you had known then what you know now about nutrition.

The little peach tree in the back yard where we buried our tiny Kaitlyn Anne

The little peach tree in the back yard where we buried our tiny Kaitlyn Anne

It’s a guilt laden world. And there are those on all sides who like to add to the guilt because it helps to pad their bottom line and profit margins. There are even the ones who are not guilt-mongers for baser reasons like profits but actually are deeply concerned and well meaning. I typically fall into the later category. It can be incredibly difficult to take good and life changing information about food and use it to live a freer, healthier lifestyle vs. a life of bondage to food legalities. You can’t unlearn what you know. And with knowledge comes responsibility. And with responsibility the weight of an extra burden in our already crazy lives.

There is an art to negotiation. Successful negotiations are all about knowing what is truly important to both parties and what things are optional. As you learn the list of what is crucial may rapidly change. My list looks very different today than it looked 3 years ago. In the process of negotiating the terms of life between current knowledge base, current resources, and currently available options it is important to have narrowed down what is MOST important. What things do you feel comfortable compromising on? How big of a compromise? Below is a sample of my current list. I have mine divided up into Required (the items I don’t want to compromise on) and Allow (the items I’m willing to compromise on due to budget restrictions and or availability)

  • Eggs: Free Range Required, Non GMO Soy Required. Humane Treatment required. Allow GMO Free grain. Allow non organic.
  • Beef: Grassfed Required. Antibiotic and Hormone Free Required. Humane Treatment Required. Allow to be finished on grains for up to a week before processing. Locally sourced and processed required (Locally = same state) Allow grains used to be GMO/non organic.
  • Fruit: Organic/All natural/Sustainably farmed preferred. In season preferred. Transitional crops allowed. Minimally sprayed allowed.

It has been really helpful for me to actually get what the most important things are to me written out in a systematic way. The list can be as detailed as you wish it to be. I would recommend updating it every couple of months if you are on a fast track of learning and trying to make changes for your family. At a minimum the list should be updated about once a year. It can be as basic and simple as the following.

  • No Margarine or veggie oil spreads. Only butter. No Butter with flavorings or colors added.
  • Read all labels of everything before purchasing. No MSG or HFCS.

Start somewhere. Anywhere. Despite all the nutritional information conflicts it is worth it to make your move somewhere. The worst thing you can possibly do is throw up your hands in despair over not ever being able to get it all done, it all bought and prepared “right” and just decide to do nothing at all. SOMETHING is always better than nothing. A trick I learned a while back that seems to work wonders for me is to always “one up” whatever the convenient temptation is at the moment. If it’s the difference between running to the store to buy them out of Snickers or making a homemade batch of brownies with nutritious ingredients by all means make the brownies. Then you can congratulate yourself on how healthy it is that you used raw sugar and avoided all the horrible ingredients in the average candy bar. It’s the better choice. Maybe one day life will work out to where we can all always have the best. But until then it would save a world of frustration if we could just give ourselves the freedom to do the next best thing. The freedom to compromise.

Food prepared with love, care and attention to details is the best food. Always. Even if it is GMO Sweet corn on the grill. If we lose sight of the purpose of our pursuit of good food, lose sight of our relationship with our children and the generation of kids we want to help then it renders the food battles pointless. Keep the joy in the process. Keep the kids involved. Teach them to enjoy the process of food in all it’s complexities. That it’s about ever so much more than learning how to use the presets on the microwave.

Doodlebug helping to make bread at 2 years old

Doodlebug helping to make bread at 2 years old

Some of us have, and continue to deal with serious health issues. Our luxury and margins that we can compromise with is not nearly as extensive as those who do not have very specific health issues they are treating with what I like to call “Food Therapy” or nutritional healing. When food is being used as medicine it’s a much more strict and less enjoyable proposition. But even with the strict nutritional healing protocols joy can be found in the process. Food can still be made to taste good.

My kids and I had eggs for lunch today with gorgeous deep orange yolks from free range chickens. Chickens fed Soy feed. We enjoyed every last bite. We also ate raw cheese melted on those eggs from cows fed organic feed. Soy again. We ate every late bite of that raw cheese. And we were grateful for it. Grateful to be able to have and afford raw cheese. Grateful to be able to have and afford egg yolks so obviously full of rich nutrients from chickens that had the freedom to run around and eat bugs all day. We are so grateful for our less than ideal, less than perfect lunch. It was amazing. It was a lunch rich in compromise and nutritional value.

Have you learned the art of negotiation in the food info wars? What is the compromise that bothers you most?

Got Vision?

I married a really wise man. Before we got married we talked. A lot. Long distance relationships are good like that. You are forced to fill the air time with words that would otherwise be taken up in silence or giddy chit chat just soaking in each others presence in person. Not to say those in person local relationships are inferior on the communication front (to be honest I still feel a twinge of jealousy over how easy the whole in person romantic experience must be) but I know for us the states separating us were instrumental in us having good premarital communication.

Steve and I

Steve and I

So this wise guy I was gonna marry asked a lot of questions. He wanted to know if our visions, or our goals for a future life together were compatible. If I even had a vision for the future. We made a lot of plans and outlined a lot of goals together.

7 years down the line the details of those plans and goals have changed a LOT. The core of our “vision” has remained the same however. This past week someone asked me about this crazy dream we have of developing a natural themed community-neighborhood. We have a lot of unorthodox plans and dreams. But it’s fueled by the overreaching vision and goals we had all those years ago.

We wanted to raise a healthy family in both body, minds and emotions.

We want to teach our children to be strong, to be leaders and how to serve others and the world at large with kindness.

We want to leave whatever patches of this earth that come into our possession better than we found it.

We want to encourage and help others as we are able to.

Out of these simple heart desires the driving force behind a supplement company was born. The two homes we have lived in in our marriage have housed a lot of folks at all different stages in life. We put a lot of time and effort into learning about health and how to live our lives more sustainably and responsibly. We spent a lot of time with our children. We adapt almost every area of our lives to incorporate our children.

Steve and the Doodlebug: A tiny Bee Keeper in Training

Steve and the Doodlebug: A tiny Bee Keeper in Training

We love to dream. We’ve learned that it’s Ok to dream big. We’ve learned it’s Ok to make mistakes along the way trying to learn how to make those dreams a reality. We’ve made big mistakes along the way. We’ve learned, we’ve adapted, we’ve tweaked. We’ve had to pay and are still paying for some of those mistakes. The whole process of mistakes = learning new and important lessons is something we’ve come to embrace as a part of life. The College of Life has been expensive for us and the certifications not as respected as Harvards but we are grateful for them anyway.

One of the dream-goals we are working towards right now is the purchase of a piece of property large enough that it can be subdivided and a community developed. It’s a logistical nightmare and there are probably a 100 ways we can think of right off the bat for it to easily go wrong. But we’ve learned that some of the best things in life come with a very high probability for failure. We were told when we partnered in the launch of that it was a foolish idea. It was destined to fail. There were a thousand reasons NOT to start that business. We counted the cost and decided to do it anyway. It’s been a headache, it’s dominated the majority of our married lives but for every frustrated  and even tearful moment it’s taken from our lives it’s given that and more back. It’s allowed us to work together as a couple in our own home. It’s allowed our children to be more active parts of our lives. It’s been the vehicle to allow us to become physically healthier. It’s been the source and means of good to what now number in the hundreds of peoples lives. We would never have done it, never have stepped out and taken the risk of a brand new business if we had not been willing to dream, hope big and act on the vision we wanted for our family.

One thing we have learned that a dream is just a dream if it is never brought into the realm and responsibility of real life. We are working to bring our current big dreams into the realm of our reality in a lot of small ways. The first and most obvious are financial. It just makes sense to gain financial freedom so that is the front receiving the bulk of our efforts right now. The other is trying to learn as much as we can about how to properly and effectively manage a property. How one goes about doing sustainable and natural animal care and raising. How to garden efficiently and effectively. About 98% of this knowledge is purely head knowledge and hypothetical at this point in our lives. So, we are hacking away at that percentage ratio to get it much lower by the time a financial breakthrough can be obtained. We are going to get a small chicken tractor and start raising some chicks. This year if we are still on this property we are going to build a key hole garden to test it against more traditional raised beds and some of Ruth Stout’s gardening techniques. We plan on identifying and learning about the types of trees on our wooded hill. Steve is managing his bee-hive organically without the use of antibiotics and chemicals that most bee keepers use and is learning what it would take to manage multiple hives. All of this real life practical small scale knowledge will help lower our real life experience ignorance for a bigger property with bigger logistics if that ever comes to fruition. In the meantime our lives are the better for the knowledge and experience we are gaining.

Steve teaching a friend how to work the bees with the hive in our backyard

Steve teaching a friend how to work the bees with the hive in our backyard

So what is the vision for your family?  Do you have big dreams? What are you doing to make those dreams and goals a reality? Do you include your kids in the dreaming big process?


Our eldest is a very emotional child. Very emotional. And exceedingly uninhibited in how she expresses her emotions. While part of me envies her complete freedom of expression another part cringes at her complete obliviousness to the repercussions the expression of her emotions can have on people around her. When she was very young she would throw hysterical fits and be completely overtaken by the strength of her emotions, usually negative ones. Feelings of anger, out-rage, hurt etc. Frustrations with imperfections in herself and her life would send her spiraling out of control.

As an individual who hates conflict it’s been interesting for me to observe how many individuals who have very strong self expression tend to feel a lot better after verbally exploding and venting their feelings. They are like whew! Got that off my chest! Now you know how upset I am and how awful you are so now I can be Ok with you again. Meanwhile the people around them may still feel shell shocked and traumatized by the vehemence, harshness and meanness of how the feelings were expressed.

So here is me. Someone who struggles deeply with expressing emotions as I feel them with this child who is a veritable volcano of emotions set to erupt at regular intervals. We could not be more opposite in basic personality types. I am often in awe of her strength and ability to express exactly what she feels. Her freedom of self expression is something that I want her to always have.



Emotions are emotions. They don’t change the facts of a situation or the rightness and wrongness of things. They are absolutely authentic and I view the right to our own feelings (and especially a child’s right to their own emotions) as one of the most basic of human freedoms. But this spewing of emotions has left me at a loss as a parent nevertheless. How do you train a child who regularly erupts with harsh and abusive words based out of how strongly she feels things without taking away her right to feel that way? How do you validate the freedom to have those emotions and the right to express that strength and level of feeling while not causing hurt and damaged relationships to others? And, the most challenging of all, if adults struggle so deeply with these concepts how on earth do you break it down for a young child? My every instinct is that if healthier communication avenues can possibly be established the younger the better. In theory young dogs are easier to teach than it is to break old dogs of bad habits. The canine example has held true of what I have experienced in my own human life as well.

This past week we had something of a breakthrough for both of us. The concept has made a big enough difference I feel like it’s worth sharing. It came out of me observing how the minute an adult is perceived to be losing control of themselves in a conversation they instantly lose the credibility they desperately need, the validation they crave. Things like crying inappropriately, raising their voice, blaming others for everything about a situation while taking no responsibility for their own actions = an instant loss of respect for whatever it is they are attempting to convey. What they are desperately trying to express, the authenticity and strength of what they are feeling gets lost in the shuffle because the vehicle or method of communication they are defaulting to actually hides the all important point of what they need expressed.

Our daughter stood before me last week with huge tears rolling down her flushed face. Her blue eyes an especially intense blue like they get when she’s thoroughly riled. Through hiccuping sobs she yelled at the top of her voice “I hate this family. I hate lunches. I hate you cooking me lunches. You are a horrible Mom…” Anybody looking at her face could see the the deep hurt plastered over it. She FELT deeply insulted, hurt and even betrayed. So hurt she felt like she had to lash out as the only way to handle the intensity of what she was feeling.




This scene might have been warranted if it had been over some large life event. Some horribly traumatic new household rule being imposed. Or some awful food be dictated to be eaten. The fact that all that emotion was over me frying her eggs and flipping them in a way she was not used to did not negate how deeply she felt about what was to me a very stupid and insignificant issue. Frustration rose within me. How many times did I have to correct and train her before it would CLICK with her that it is NOT Ok to verbally lash out with abusive words when she was upset and angry?? To observe her in that moment it would be easy to assume she had never been corrected or trained to behave appropriately. There was no indication that kindness to others has been a central part of all of the training she has received in her 5 years of life. When would she develop an ounce of self control and decide to exert it I wondered for the 100th time.

I sat there looking at her trying to figure out a new way to approach this old problem. She paused expectantly with lip quivering and caught her breath between sobs waiting to find out what the repercussions of her  hateful outburst would be this time. Resignedly I thought “At least she knows there will be repercussions. I guess all that training hasn’t been totally for naught” Observing her straight back, fiercely determined face, shoulders back and seeing how tall she has gotten the thought slipped through my mind “She’s so tall. So strong. She needs the truth” Deciding to allow myself to communicate the emotional vulnerability I was feeling as a result of her verbal assault I swallowed the lump that had suddenly appeared in my throat. Taking her hand I said softly “I know you are upset. I hear you yelling. I am trying to hear what you are saying. When you yell and say hateful and mean things to me though I can’t hear your important message anymore. I can’t hear what you feel. All I can see and hear is the meanness and unkindness you are showing to me. I love you. If you are upset I want to hear about it but I can’t hear the important message you have when you scream and yell. You are strong and what you feel is strong. If what you feel is strong then you don’t have to yell it. You say it with confidence and strength and the words will stand strong without yelling.”

She blinked and tried to process what I said. A fresh round of tears started down her face and she said “I don’t know how to have strong words” “Yes you do”, I replied. “If you feel it strongly then your words will be strong. Say what you need to say with strength and confidence like this!” and throwing my own shoulders back and holding my head high I said in confident clear tones “I do not like my eggs fixed that way. Can you please fix them another way?” Scrunching up her nose doubtfully she surveyed me skeptically. Shrugging she gave it a try. Shoulders back she said in loud and confident tones “Mama I hate those eggs. I want them with cheese and not Pepper.” She stopped and eyed me for a reaction the curiosity clear on her face wondering if something that simple would do the trick. “I am really sorry I messed your eggs up. I can feed these to your little brother and make you some new ones. Would that make you feel better?” Still looking somewhat skeptical she responded “I really do HATE those eggs you made” in clear bold tones. “I’m sorry you hate these eggs and I’m sorry you got so upset about the eggs” I replied. Heaving a sigh of relief she responded “Yeah, me too. Being upset over eggs is very hard.”

Since the egg episode we’ve had occasion to deal with more outbursts. She got hold of some foods this week that caused a regression into behaviors we hoped to have left behind permanently when she was two. When her outbursts are triggered by food reactions this new method has not worked at all. Nothing to date has worked except clearing it out of her system and waiting for her body to be able to normalize. However the normal episodes of outbursts have had a very positive response to the concept of strong words being able to stand strong on their own when boldly and confidently expressed. If she launches into one of her verbal assaults punctuated with volume and tears I put a finger to my lips as a visual cue and say “I can’t hear the important strong words you have to say and the strong way you feel about them. Be bold and confident in how you talk to me if you feel it is important” Occasionally I have to remind her “If what you have to say is strong enough to have tears and yelling then it’s strong enough for you to be bold and confident about” Standing at attention she clearly and assertively states her case. Without tears. Without hurled insults and hurt verbal tongue lashings. It’s been an amazing thing to see and a breakthrough for her to get more respect and more validation for her point of view than she would ever have gotten with a fit.

It is my hope that in the coming years she will continue to gain confidence and communication skills for her strong emotions and feelings. The world needs more strong women who are not afraid of their feelings. Who have the confidence to express themselves without fear. Who are sensitive enough to the wrongs in the world to react and fight to get them changed. Who can be bold in their emotions knowing they are an asset instead of a weakness. Who are wise enough to draw others to their cause and not alienate them as they communicate the intensity of the need. It is my prayer that our daughter grows to be one of these strong and fierce women. She’s been given a special passion in life, an ability to care for details that do not matter to most. It’s a gift, one that I hope she is able to embrace and not despise.

If anybody reading this has a strongly emotional child with a will power of steel please know that I have an incredible amount of respect for the work it is to train children like this. I don’t in any way mean to minimize the difficulties and challenges that come with the parenting territory of children with all sorts of personalities but intend to simply tip my hat in respect to the specific challenges that face the parents of these super strong, super sensitive, super expressive children. Be their cheerleader. Love ’em and for goodness sakes don’t try to break them. Chances are they’ll break you in the process and even if they don’t, breaking them means the world loses a powerful asset. Those wills of steel will bring positive change and strong leadership where more compliant personalities will bend.

Teach them kindness, teach them compassion. They’ll learn both the best from seeing you demonstrate patience and love to them when they least deserve it. The flip side of hyper sensitive and observant kids with build in strong sense of justice is that they are acutely aware of when they are undeserving of affirmation or appreciation. Undeserving of a hug. And undeserving of patience. As tempting as it might be to feel put upon by these little demanding individuals being plunked into our lives it’s actually quite the honor to get to parent them. At least that’s how I am choosing to feel about it. 😀 Otherwise I’d be shipping a certain child off to Siberia one of these rough days.

Self Expression

Self Expression

Summer Garden Veggie Baby-food

Carrot N Squash Squished Delight

  • 1 cup of medium to small diced garden fresh carrots
  • 2 small squash or 1 medium to large yellow (or other heirloom variety) Can substitute or add Zucchini
  • 1 Cup Bone Broth (Might need a few tablespoons extra)
  • Real Mineral Rich Sea Salt
  • Optional: Yolk of 1 Free Range Egg
  • Optional: Small pinch of freeze dried ground grass-fed liver
  • Optional: Pinch of powdered beef gelatin

Chop carrots and squash up while broth is brought to a slow simmer. Add them to the broth and bring to a boil. Stir frequently until veggies are very tender and soft. Using an immersion blender OR a food processor puree veggies and bone broth until smooth and creamy. Add extra bone broth if consistency is too thick. Add egg yolk, powdered liver and beef gelatin if desired. Add salt to taste erring on the side of lightly salting since infants tastebuds are more sensitive then adults.

Recipe can be doubled and tripled if desired. Allow to cool and then freeze in ice cub trays. Can be thawed for meals on the go later!

Special Cautions: It is very important to safely source eggs if you are going to use them with an infant. It is highly controversial giving egg yolks to an infant because traditionally they known to provoke allergic reactions. This is partly why it is so important to use ONLY free range eggs that have not been fed grains. Often times the reaction to egg yolks is not to the egg yolks themselves but to the grains (GMO soy or corn) that have been fed to the hens.

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Happy Tin Tin baby!

Vaccinations Article in WAPF Wise Traditions Summer 2012

As anybody who has been reading my blog for any time knows the subject of vaccines is something I feel strongly about. Not so much that parents should follow any one side over the other but that education, careful thought and informed decisions be made. It takes effort and time. But what part of parenting doesn’t?

When I can I like to share studies, articles and resources that come across my path that other parents might find interesting or informative. One of the best sourced articles I’ve come across in a while was published in the most recent copy of Wise Traditions. Since it won’t be available in digital form for quite a while on the WAPF website I’m going to type it up in it’s entirety here. Please pardon any typos. Transcription work was never a strong point. 😛

Further preface this with the disclaimer that this is *not* an unbiased article. It’s on the anti-vaccine side but some of the points made are quite valid in my opinion. Especially as it pertains to safer protocols in the manufacturing of vaccines. Also, at the time this goes live on my blog the source links have not been vetted for accuracy or made live yet. When I have time I’ll go back and test/make the links live. They are included for those who wish to check them out for themselves though.

Vaccinations: The Ongoing Debate by Leslie Manookian

Vaccinations, what a topic! They rank right up there with politics and religion as things not to discuss around the Thanksgiving table. Vaccinations are sure to elicit emotional responses from most people, though generally these responses are based largely on belief and lore rather than facts and hard science. It is easy to understand why the subject is so charged given that all parents would want to protect their children. And of course all people, even those who aren’t parents, want to believe there is a way to protect themselves from the dangers of life, which makes it easier for vaccine makers and policy makers to spread fear and sell products that promise a safer existence.

But do we really understand all there is to know about vaccines? Are those who ask questions about vaccines really fringe lunatics or are they perhaps more informed than the masses and using this information and their intelligence, combined with a healthy diet, to choose another path to health? In this heated debate, it is imperative that we parse fact from fiction so that we can all make genuinely well-informed decisions about our health and well-being.

My film, The Greater Good does just that. The Greater Good weaves together the stories of families whose lives have been forever changed by vaccination with the perspectives of doctors and scientists from around the world. Our tagline for the film is “If you think you know everything about vaccines…think again.” The film shares different perspectives on vaccinations to help the viewer understand what we know and what we don’t know about vaccine science, and shows that parents who ask questions about vaccines or forgo them for their children are not crazy or ill-informed. The film also shows that vaccines may be responsible for the epidemic of chronic illness that plagues our planet today.

So let’s address the facts of what we do and don’t know about vaccines today as we begin to reconsider this controversial topic.


CDC Photo of Infant Vaccine

CDC Photo of Infant Vaccine

How many vaccines do kids get today? A child receiving all the recommended vaccines and boosters today receives:

  • Twenty-six doses of nine vaccines by the first birthday
  • Forty-eight doses of fourteen vaccines by age six
  • A total of seventy doses of sixteen vaccines by age eighteen

This is almost three times the recommended number of shots recommended by the CDC in 1983.

  • Eleven doses of four vaccines by the first birthday
  • Twenty-two doses of seven vaccines by age six
  • A total of twenty-three doses of eight vaccines by age eighteen


Is vaccine safety just an issue for new parents? No. The DCD is now recommending a flue shot every year from cradle to grave as well as many adult booster shots for childhood diseases and new vaccines such as shingles. The pharmaceutical industry has an estimated two hundred vaccines in development for use in many population groups, not just children.


Are vaccines safe? A large, long-term clinical study comparing the medium or long-term health outcomes of vaccinated and unvaccinated groups of people has never been done. Moreover, while vaccines are often given simultaneously, with as many as ten vaccines given in one visit, safety studies do not evaluate the safety of simultaneous shots. Nor have the different ingredients of human infant vaccines taken individually or in combination been evaluated in large, long-term clinical studies. Until these studies are done, it is not possible to fully answer this question.


What kinds of risks am I taking if I vaccinate my child?

Like all pharmaceutical products, vaccines carry risks. The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 signed by President Ronald Reagan, acknowledged that vaccines can cause injury or death. It sets up a trust fund for resolving vaccine injury and death claims and provides compensation to those found to be injured by vaccines.

Recent research has shown neurological damage including motor function deficits, cognitive impairment, and behavioral changes in mice given the aluminum in vaccines.(2) Research has also shown impaired immune function and auto-immune disease in humans following administration of these same compounds. (3,4) Despite these findings, large scientific gaps remain, until those gaps are filled, the overall safety of vaccines is difficult to assess.


How often do adverse vaccine reactions occur?

A large, long-term clinical study comparing the health outcomes of vaccinated versus unvaccinated patients has never been done therefore this question is difficult to assess. In addition most vaccine trials last only a few weeks so many reactions may be unknown. Furthermore, the U.S. has a system called the vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS) to monitor vaccine reactions. VAERS is a passive reporting system and the CDC states that underreporting “is one of the main limitations of passive curveillance systems, including VAERS. the term underreporting refers to the fact that VAERS receives reports for only a small fraction of actual adverse events.” (5)


Doctors often say that reactions such as swelling, soreness, tenderness and a lump at the injection site, fever, fussiness, tiredness, and vomiting after vaccination are normal and nothing to worry about. Is this true?

While most of these reactions may seem benign on the surface, it is not known for certain what causes these reactions and whether they reflect some deeper problem. In The Greater Good, Dr. Lawrence Plevsky states that no studies exist to determine what happens to the body’s systems and tissues when a vaccine is given. In the making of the film and while conducting screenings, we have come across many parents who said their child had these “normal” reactions after a round of vaccines but never was quite the same again and went on to develop a learning disability, allergies ADHD, or another type of chronic disease.


Are all the ingredients in vaccines safe? The truth is that vaccine ingredients have not been tested for safety in doses given to human infants either singularly or in combination for c0-toxicity. The list of ingredients in vaccines includes but is not limited to: mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, cells from aborted fetuses, cells from monkey kidneys chicken embryos, viruses, antibiotics, yeast, polysorbate 80 and detergents.(6) While the amount of mercury has been reduced in most vaccines, it is still used in the manufacturing process and trace amounts (less than 1 mcg) still exist after filtering. (7) MOreover, most flu vaccines still contained 25 mcg of mercury.(8)

Mercury is a well-known neurotoxin and is particularly damaging to the brain of a developing fetus or child. (9) Formaldehyde has been classified as a known human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.(10)


Adjuvants are substances added to vaccines to stimulate an immune response because without adjuvants, the vaccines do not work. Aluminum is the adjuvant most commonly used in vaccines. In their study, “Aluminum Vaccine Adjuvants: Are they Safe?” published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, Lucija Tomljenovic and Christopher Shaw write: “Aluminum is an experimentally demonstrated neurotoxin and the most commonly used vaccine adjuvant. Despite almost eighty years of widespread use of aluminum adjuvants, medical science’s understanding about their mechanism of action is still remarkably poor…Experimental research, however, clearly shows that aluminum adjuvants have a potential to induce serious immunological disorders in humans. In particular, aluminum in adjuvant form carries a risk for autoimmunity, long-term brain inflammation and associated neurological complications and may thus have profound and widespread adverse health consequences.”(11)


Are vaccines properly studies for safety and effectiveness:

Vaccine studies often last just a few weeks and focus on efficacy, namely whether the vaccine being studies stimulates the “desired” inmune response in the blood. The pharmaceutical company developing the vaccine conducts the studies and then submits them to the FDA for approval for licensure.

Most seriously, the study is allowed to use another vaccine or a liquid containing an adjuvant such as aluminum as the placebo. (12) This way the vaccine producer can say that the vaccines cause no more adverse reactions than a placebo.

The complete vaccine schedule has not been studies for safety nor have all the various possible combinations of vaccines that might be administered on a single day.


Do doctors know all there is to know about vaccines and their safety?

Doctors are taught that vaccines are safe and effective; they are not taught how vaccines are studied, the components of vaccines, or the gaps in research. Doctors are taught that decades of clinical use in vaccines have demonstrated their safety and that vaccine side effects are rare, but there are no large, long-term clinical trials comparing the health and well being of those vaccinated to those unvaccinated to back up these assumptions.


Aren’t vaccines safer than getting the disease?

This is a very difficult question to assess, as we don’t know the long-term health outcomes of the vaccine schedule. Given that we only have a passive surveillance system to determine adverse reactions, we don’t know the true numbers of reactions that occur. Many disease vaccinated against today were considered fairly benign in past decades (flu, chicken pox, pumps, rubella) or quite rare (Hepatitis A and B, meningitis).

This does not mean that all disease are rare or benign, but rather explains the difficulty in maing a statement assessing the relative risk when the true health outcomes and reactions are as yet unknown.


Are vaccines responsible for the low levels of mortality we see from infectious diseases in the developed world?

According to a study by Bernard Guyer and others, published in Pediatrics in December of 2000 ,”nearly 90 percent of the decline in infectious disease mortality among U.S. children occurred before 1940, when few antibiotics or vaccines were available.” What happened? According to the authors: “State and local health departments implemented these public health measures including water treatment, food safety, organized solid waste disposal, and public education about hygienic practices.”(10)


Do vaccines cause chronic illness?

There are studies linking vaccines to chronic cognitive dysfunction, behavioral changes, motor function impairment, eczema, learning disabilities, arthritic, asthma and more. (2-4, 14-18)


Do vaccines cause autism?

While vaccine authorities assert there is no science linking mercury or vaccines to autism, there is in fact peer-reviewed scientific evidence connecting both to autism. A study by Gallagher and Goodman found that boys who received the birth dose of Hepatitis B containing mercury were nearly three times more likely to receive an autism diagnosis than those that did not receive the vaccine. They went on to study the three doses of Hepatitis B and found that the boys who received the whole series were nearly nine times more likely to require special education services than boys who did not. (14,17)

A recent study bo Tomljenovic and Shaw connected the rising incidence of autism to the use of aluminum in vaccines. (19)

Helen Ratajczak, PhD, a former senior scientist at a drug company, conducted a review of all the available autism research since autism was first described in 1943; her results were published in the Journal of Immunotoxicology. When interviewed after publication and asked whether the science on autism shows any relationship between vaccines and autism she said: “The data show that when more vaccines were given, and were given at earlier ages, the incidence and prevalence of autism increased. There are many aspects of vaccines that cause autism.” (20)

But hasn’t science proved there is not link between mercury and autism? A review by Catherine DeSoto, PhD, of all the impirical research available on the mercury-autism link found that the body of research actually shows a link between mercury and autism by more than a 3-1 margin. Her findings are in stark contrast to government claims that there is no scientific link. (21)


Are vaccines mandatory?

The fact is that all states have excemptions for vaccines: medication, religious or philosophical. Some states have only medical exemptions, some have medical and religious and some have all three types. The difficulty of obtaining exemptions differs from state to state. Visit our website to explore the laws in your state: 


What recourse does one have after vaccination damage?

If you or your child suffers a vaccine injury, you must apply to the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Compensation Program for damages. The program manages a trust fund that pays damages to those injured by a vaccine and is funded through a seventy-five-cent tax levied on every vaccine given in America. To date, the program has paid out more than two billion dollars and has about three billion dollars in reserves.

If you are denied compensation or are un-happy with the award, you are not allowed to sue the doctor, nurse, government or vaccine manufacturer. On Februrary 22, 2011, the Supreme Court ruled that Americans have no resource in civil course even if the vaccine manufacturer could have made a safer vaccine. (22)


Won’t disease come back if we stop vaccinating?

The fact is that disease incidence is a very complex issue determined by many variables such as general health and a robust immune system due to proper nutrition; and public health measures such as sewage management and drinking water systems. (13)

Moreover, disease outbreaks regularly occur in fully vaccinated populations so vaccination may not be as effective a preventative as generally believed . (23) Given these facts, it is difficult to make any statements about what patterns disease might take if vaccination rates declined.


The coming few years will be critical for the issue of vaccine safety, and I hope you will get involved. I was thrilled to bring my film The Greater Good to WAPF’s national conference last fall, and to hear from so many chapters that the film has been a valuable discussion starter. If your chapter hasn’t screened the film yet, plase visit our website for detailsa nd resources to help you do that, including a discussion and facilitation guide, tips for hosting a screening, a FAQ, links to stuies and resources mentioned in the film and much more available at

One particularly important policy issue emerging in the coming months is the protection of state level exemptions to vaccines for philosophical, religious and medical reasons. It is important that all fifty states give families the right to all three of these exemptions. Coalitions are forming across the country to educate their communities about the complex issue of vaccine safety. These groups include natural health practitioners, families, midwives, doulas, nurses, teachers, elected leaders and vaccine safety advocates of all stripes.

A vital link in that emerging group is the WAPF community. I encourage you to reach out to groups in your community and learn what is happening in your state. Collaborating on a screening is a great way to get started. I believe that together we can create a world where:

  • Vaccines can be made safer
  • Doctors and parents are educated about adverse reaction to vaccines, so that these reactions may be treated appropriately, thereby reducing long-term impact.
  • Parents have the information they need to make informed choices about vaccines.
  • Schools and doctors respect and value parents’ rights to choose how they keep their families healthy;
  • Families feel safe to make their own choices regarding their families’ health and well being without fear of expulsion from school or exclusion from their communities
  • Scientists are free to pursue research into vaccine safety without fear of jeopardizing their income or career prospects
  • All fifty states uphold family’s rights to exemption from vaccination for religious, philosophical or medical reasons.
  • The top priority is health and wellness, and all vaccines go through vigorous due diligence process for safety.

I hope you will visit our website and consider bringing the film to your chapter and to those you love. You can stream the film, buy a DVD or share either as a gift. Consider hosting an event yourself, or make a donation to our engagement campaign online to help us bring the film to families, healthcare practitioners and policymakers nationalwide so they too can “think again” about vaccine safety issues.

Most importantly I hope you will tell friends about the film, and continue to learn more yourself.


  2. Petrik M.S. Shaw C.A., et al. Aluminum Adjuvant Lined to Gulf War Illness Induces Motor Neuron Death in Mice. NeuroMolecular Medicine 2007: 9: 83-100.
  3. Shoefeld Y., Agmon-Levin N., “ASIA”-Autoimmune/Inflammatory syndrome induced by adjuvants JAutoimmun 2011; 36:4-8
  4. Couette M, Boisse MF. Maison P, et al. Long-term persistence of vaccine-derived aluminum hydroxide is associated with chronic cognitive dysfunction. J Inorg Biochem 2009; 103: 1571-1578
  11. Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA, Aluminum vaccine adjuvants: are they safe? Curr Med Chem. 2011: 18(17):2630-7
  12. Jacobson RM, Ovsyannikova IG, Poland GA. Testing vaccines in pediatric research subjects Vaccine. 2009 May 26;27 (25-26):3291-4
  13. Guyer B, etal. Annual Sumary of Vital Statistics: Trends in the Health of Americans During the 20th Century. Pediatrics, Dec. 2000; 108(6): 1307-1317
  14. Gallagher CM, Goodman MS, Hepatitis B triple series vaccine and developmental disability in US children aged 1-9 years. Tox & Environ Chemistry 2008; 90(5): 997-1008
  15. Hawson CP, et al. Chronic Arthritis after Rubella Vaccination. Institute of Medicine, Clin Infect Dis. 1992 Aug; 15(2):307-12
  16. McDonald, K et al. Delay in diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus vaccination is associated with a reduced risk of childhood asthma, J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2008; 121 (3); 626-631.
  17. Gallagher CM, Goodman MS, Hepatitis V Vaccination of Male Neonates and Autism Diagnosis NHIS 1997-2002. J Toxicol Environ Health 2005; 115 (4): 737-744
  18. Enriquez R, et al. The relationship between vaccine refusal and self-report of atopic disease in children. J Allergy Clin Immunol 2005; 115:(4): 737-744
  19. Tomljenovic L, Shaw CA, Do aluminum vaccine adjuvants contribute to the risking prevalence of autism: Journal of Inorganic Biochemistry, 2011; Nov; 105(11): 1489-99
  21. DeSoto C and Hitlan R. Sorting out the spinning of autism: heavy metals and the question of incidence. Acta Neurobiol Exp 2010, 70: 165-176
  23. Plotkin, S and Oenstein, W, Vaccines, 3rd edition. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company,1998.409-441 and 508-531.

Happy 5th to our Firstborn!

Our sweet girl is 5 years old.

That kind of stuns me. As much as I’ve looked forward to this stage it still seems surreal that we’ve actually gotten here! Our busy little Doodlebug is growing up into such a unique and complex person.

She’s irrepressible. Says exactly what is on her mind. Even if nobody wants to hear it. Like “I’m going to go POO POOO!” in public. Loudly. On purpose. Or “You are NOT my Mom. MY Mom would let me do what I want to do” as was hollered at me a few days ago. The kind, sweet and grateful things pour out of her with the same level of enthusiasm as the negative or rude. A couple of weeks ago she asked to pray and it was one of the most candid conversations with God I’ve ever heard.

She’s kind. Sensitive. In-tune and out of tune all at the same time. Brilliantly insightful in so many areas. She’s a one woman noise making machine from whistling, humming, tapping, she finds some way to generate noise pretty much every waking moment. Unless she’s involved in a particularly epic project of the creative variety. Then it gets quiet. And I still freak out not knowing what disaster I’m going to walk in on.

She’s brilliant. She’s stubborn. She’s a perfectionist. She’s dramatic. She’s adorable. She’s dictatorial. She’s enthusiastic. She’s bossy. She’s compassionate. She’s too cute for her own good. She often loves the unlovable. She’s the best and the worst all rolled up into one incredible little package of girl-hood.

I have often wondered if maybe the reason she made it when all the other babies didn’t…before my health was getting helped and before my problems had been adequately diagnosed…if maybe, just maybe it was partly because she was just too stubborn to give in and let go. If sheer force of will even as a super tiny baby could will survival she would be the one to possess that level of tenacity.

It’s been an adventure unlike any other being her parent. Appreciate her more and more with each passing year and can’t thank God enough for allowing us to be part of her life in some small way. One day, just around the corner I’m going to get to watch her go turn the world on end. Or at least some corner of it. The ability to leave an impact and compel change is already a singular strength, especially for such a young kid.

We love her more than worlds can express. To paraphrase the words of one of my favorite people, Gianna Jesson, “She’s God’s girl. You just don’t mess with God’s girl” Can’t wait to see what path God takes this unique little creature on in the coming years.

For now we are gonna enjoy her pre-world-conquering days. Laugh. Read books. Play. Tickle. Talk about big stuff. Important stuff. Silly stuff. Eat good food. Learn lots. Practice stuff. And bury her in lots and lots of love.

Happy Birthday Noelle. We love you more than the stars in the sky.Image


It was my intention when I left TN to do a lot of blogging on Maui. After all, I’d be on a family vacation with tons of time on my hands and well rested, right??? Well, we have had time but I haven’t been well rested. Turns out a 5 hr. time change throws kids systems for a loop. It has been a wonderful trip though and we have gotten to do a lot of really amazing things and create great family memories. Scratch that: It’s likely our kids will forget most of this trip, Caleb certainly will and Noelle may only remember bits and pieces. That’s Ok. I took lots of pictures and Steve has a memory like a steel trap. We’ll be able to remind them what a great time we all had for years to come.

This place is truly beautiful. So beautiful it keeps taking my breath away.

Our favorite Beach: Kam1

Our favorite Beach: Kam1

I’ll be posting more pictures from our trip in coming days.

It’s late. As usual. Seems to be the only time I actually make time for blogging. Late at night when I’m really too tired. Tomorrow we leave to go camping ‘inland’ for a couple of days into the more jungle like areas of Maui. I expect we’ll have a whole ‘nother pile of images and adventures by the time we get back.

This past week we went to one of the coolest little towns in Maui. Paia had this really earthy, hippy, naturalesque vibe to it that made this crunchy Mama happy. I could have gotten lost in it’s eccentric health food store named Mana Foods with the tiny aisles and incredible selections crammed in every square inch of the place. And really, who couldn’t love a store with an entire WALL dedicated to chocolate?? With what the locals refer to as ‘righteous’ prices Mana gives the other Health Food Stores on Maui a healthy dose of competitive price points.

We struck out on foot with Caleb in the Ergo and just ambled here and there all over town. In one of the art galleries I found myself unexpectedly blinking back tears. Sometimes it hits me when I least expect it, in the most unlikely of places. Just these reminders of our lost babies and at the same time it reminds me of my friends who are still hoping and trying.

In this art gallery were a series of three sculptures all featuring children with butterflies. The first was a baby with a butterfly on his shoulder. Something about him made me think of our oh so tiny Kaitlyn Anne we lost after Noelle was born and before Caleb.

Baby and Butterfly Sculpture

Baby and Butterfly Sculpture

Then there were the baby-hands reaching up to catch a butterfly. The first babies we lost, the ones we never named, the ones that happened so early it seemed like they were barely there before they were gone…somehow this sculpture made me think of them.

Baby Hands reaching for Butterfly

Baby Hands reaching for Butterfly

And then, just as we were leaving Doodles pointed out the third sculpture I had somehow missed on our way in and asked me to take her picture with it. With a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes I agreed. Yes, here was the reminder of the twins. The twins that would have been Noelle’s older siblings. Putting on her fake camera smile face she came up beside the statue and put her hand in his for the picture. A tear spilled over and down down my cheek as I snapped it and said “Perfect Doodles! That was a sweet picture. Thanks for thinking of it” Thank goodness for auto-focus or that one would have been a blurry mess.

Doodles and the Boy chasing the Butterfly

Doodles and the Boy chasing the Butterfly

What touched me about these images in a very visceral and powerful way was even though each one of them reminded me of a loss they were each so entwined with hope at the same time. The last one especially. In motion. Moving forward. Reaching for the butterfly. Gentle in the motion so as not to scare it away. Amazement as the fingertips brush the delicate and beautiful creature.

The struggle with infertility and miscarriages can kill Hope. It can squish the desire to live life right out of a person. It can fuel envy, deep desire and yes, actual lusts for a child. Sometimes Hope is the last thing one feels walking that path. And just when it seems Hope is there it seems to flit away again. The faster we lunge for it, the tighter we cling when we have it, the faster it seems to disappear.  I would encourage any of my friends reading this who are heart-sore and journey weary to just stop for a moment. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes and let it all go. Stop the brain from churning, from planning, from anxious circles. Allow yourself to just rest for a moment of stillness and in that moment gently reach out and see if you can brush fingers with Hope again. Hope is a lot like those butterflies. It comes to us when we are in moments of stillness and quiet and flits just out of reach when we chase it.

My fleeting moments of hope were realized in two of the cutest children a woman could ever long for. Two children that I can hold and kiss and not just blow kisses into the wind to. My prayer is that the hopes of my friends are satisfied and fulfilled as only God can.  Love and hugs from me. And if you can’t hope, if you are too exhausted, too tired, too fragile, too hurt… I’ll Hope and pray for you. Message me or comment and I’ll add you to the list of women I pray for daily.

Me, Noelle and Caleb in Maui

Me, Noelle and Caleb in Maui