It’s a…

 
Algert James Kuqo

Born June 29, 2015

7lbs, 7 oz and 20 in long.

We are blessed! 

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You are…

I’ve been thinking a lot today about how our decisions in life are driven by our strengths and our weaknesses. It seems to me that much of what we do in life can be traced back to our feelings.

Specifically, I am amazed at our not so good choices in life due to our inability to see the truth about who we are as individuals.

I was talking with my husband about how our society feels it not only acceptable but also slightly necessary to make up for what is (or isn’t) inside of each of us, with what can be “fixed” on the outside. I’m in awe at social media and how we all are given the opportunity everyday to show up and be honest about ourselves or to show up and flaunt the “stuff” that has nothing to do with who we really are. Think manicures, fake eyelashes, perfectly filtered selfies and the oh so deceitful pictures of peoples children behaving just perfectly.

The truth of the matter is that we are all broken, hurting and small humans. We are afraid to tell the truth about who we are, what we are passionate about in life and how we fall asleep each night knowing the truth of this scary and daunting world. It is much easier to slather on the makeup and hair product, wear cute shoes, polish our nails and portray a perfect life than it is to actually work on our lives being better. And for the most part, we fool most of those around us.

Until the our reality starts showing to the world that is…

And our deception about who we are, to both ourselves and the world engulfs us to the point in which the truth has to be told.

Is it worth it? Is the pretending, the deceiving, the hiding and the faking it all really worth it? Because at the end of the day, those who are watching, observing and possibly even judging, well their lives go on without skipping a beat. But for us, the you and me… when we come out of hiding, when we start telling the truth to ourselves, well… we are often left alone to pick up the pieces of the mess that we have created.

The nail polish doesn’t matter and the fake eye lashed are thrown in the trash, we are left with those feelings that drove us to make our selves up and into someone we feel better about showing the world. More often then not, we are left feeling a little bit more empty and lacking then before we started this process of pretending and hiding.

I want to stop… and I want you to stop too. I want us to fess up to the beautiful mess that we and our lives are and embrace the truth about what makes us hurt, happy and scared. I want us to all be honest, to be fulfilled by the truth of our lives and to be empowered that we are not doing this alone.

So today, I have nothing for you in terms of food, recipes or health information. Instead, I have for you a bit of truth…

You Are Enough

You are enough for God, you are enough for yourself, for your family, and even friends. You are not perfect, but no one is asking you to be. You are not the prettiest, smartest or funniest but the truth of the matter is that no one is. You, WE… are a flawed humans who has so much to give to this world by just simply waking up and being brutally honest and truthfully us today, as well as everyday.

I pray that today, what matters isn’t how many calories you eat, how well you work out, what your instagram feed looks like or what someone has to say about you. Instead, I hope and pray that today you understand just how “enough” you are because of the individual you have been created to be.

Summer Recipe Round Up

Happy Summer….. In two days that is!

I absolutely love summer.  Between the warm weather, opportunities to be around friends and family more, and the bright long days, I truly do thrive this time of year. The only downfall to summer is the amazing food that seems to be every where we turn in ridiculous amounts. Can I get an “Amen” here? Since I am a big believer in moderation, I don’t think we need to make a harsh commitment such as a “No Sugar Summer” just to stay healthy this time of year. Instead, I think it’s best that we all eat healthy foods as much as possible so that when treas and snacks are available, we can eat them (proper portion sizes anyone) without feeling guilty and/or sick.

I thought that the best way to do this would be to round up some of the healthiest, yummiest and most summer-like recipes here at The Kitchen Revolution so that we can all have them at our disposal for our summer.

SRR

chicken fajita salad

Chicken Fajita Salad

Coconut Water

Fruit Infused Coconut Water

 

Healthy Fried Chicken

 Healthy “Fried” Chicken

 

Med Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Burgers

Mediterranean Quinoa Burgers

Pesto Chicken Complete

Pesto Chicken Salad

Smoothie Recipes

Smoothie Recipes

 

Strawberry Slush Recipe

Strawberry Slushie

 

sweet potato fries

Sweet Potato Fries

Twisted Sangria

Twisted Sangria

I hope that we can all enjoy this summer and all of the fun that comes with it! And please share with all of us some of your favorite summer recipes. If you have any recipes that you would like to have me make over into something a bit healthier, let me know in the comments below and I’ll be happy to give it my best shot!

Reader Question: Sleep Solutions

Reader Question: I am looking for some ideas on how to fall asleep more naturally. As of late, my routine has consisted of  either taking something such as unisom or drinking some wine. It seems that I have now made a mess of the situation as I cannot get to sleep without doing one of these tings.

Sleep Solutions

I am so thankful that this question was asked… this reader is not alone, in fact I have found that my husband and myself are unfortunately in the same boat. Although I can blame my sleep issues on pregnancy, most of us cannot and my ship is quickly sailing away on blaming my sleep issues on hormonal imbalances.

Sleep issues can be the result (symptom) of many health issues. Everything from hormonal problems to Circadium Rhythm issues can keep us as mammals from falling asleep and staying asleep at night. Unfortunately, in the great U.S. of A. sleep problems are almost expected let alone considered normal. However, as the rate of disease and illness continues to rise amongst us all (as stated here by Harvard Med), many people are starting to get concerned that not getting enough sleep is actually causing them to suffer in life.

Below is a round up of some of the easiest ways you (and I) can improve our overall sleep which will only improve our health and lives for the better!

1. Turn down the lights – So many of us are checking our phones or turning off the T.V. just seconds before asking our bodies to shut down for the evening. This may seem to be more productive for us, but it is in fact severely causing our bodies to be confused and stressed.  Our bodies were created to have this amazing tool hard wired within us called a Circadian Rhythm and it should be working WITH our bodies to adjust to light and sound in a way that helps our bodies ease into and out of sleeping. It is almost as if we have a natural alarm clock built into our brains. So whats the problem then? When we over stimulate our bodies (with light and sound) during times that is not natural, it changes the way our body functions, specifically it’s Circadian Rhythm. The best way to allow your Circadian Rhythm to work it’s magic is to turn down lights and sound for about an hour or so before going to bed. Taking time to read or go for a walk are both great ways help your C.R. work to the best of it’s ability. Another tip would be to switch out the bed side lights in your bedroom with these wonderful lights.

2. Balance your sugar, eat some fat – Although not sex hormones, hormone production plays a crucial role in our sleep. The best was to provide the ideal environment for these hormones to be produced is by giving your body all the tools necessary to do so. By eating healthy fats such as avocado, coconut oil or eggs, your body will be ready and willing to get busy making all the necessary hormones for you to fall asleep. In terms of staying asleep, avoiding sugar is key to keeping your blood sugar balanced so that there are no spikes and/or dips while you sleep. This will also help you wake up better in the morning. In fact, if I eat sugar before going to bed, I tend to wake up with a headache.

3. Pop the right pills – Despite all of our efforts, sometimes we need a bit more assistance to fall asleep. When these seasons of life do occur, it’s important to be taking the right supplements/pills. The best way to supplement your sleep is with Melatonin and/or Valerian Root. Melatonin is a hormone (like the ones we talked about aboce) that regulates your Circadian Rhythm (also talked about above). This supplement is a great starting point for someone who is committed to changing their sleep issues in a natural ways. Valerian Root is a natural anti-anxiety supplement that often helps people “turn off their minds” so that they can fall asleep. Of course, check with your doctor before starting any supplements.

4. Stay Hydrated – I’ve written before about the importance of drinking enough water here. I wish I could stress to you just how important it is to be properly hydrating your body. Water intake plays a huge role in hormone production and as we have stated, hormones really rule your sleep. Without enough water, your body can’t properly make hormones. When your body isn’t making the proper hormones, your Circadian Rhythm is disrupted. When your Circadian Rhythm is disrupted, your can’t fall asleep and stay asleep. See how it all works together?

I highly recommend that anyone who wants use these natural sleep solutions to change their health really commit to giving your body a good 2 or 3 weeks to show signs of improvement. I know that taking sleeping pills offers much faster results, however they also wreak havoc on your body in more ways than you know. It is also important when making changes such as these that you take note of all the big AND little things you notice taking place. This may be waking up without a mild headache, only waking up 1x a night rather than 4 or even the amount of time it takes you to get to sleep.

 

Do you have a hard time falling or staying asleep?

If so, what are your go-to ways to help combat your sleep problems?

Cloth Diapering “UnBoxing”

If you haven’t noticed, it doesn’t take much to convince me to change my lifestyle when there are promises of health, happiness and financial ease. It is for these reasons that my husband and I have decided to cloth diaper ourlittle peanut.

A little over 2 years ago, my brother and sister-in-law told their friends and family that they were going to cloth diaper their little girl. Well, she isn’t the 6 pounder that she once was and although some of their parenting decisions fell to the way side (which happens with all parents), cloth diapering didn’t.

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Before I got married and moved out of state, I had the privilege of watching that sweet little girl a few days a week. Not only did I fall madly in love with her right off the get go, but I also fell in love with cloth diapering. When it was time to figure out all the details of our own cloth diapering experience, to my wonderful sister-in-law I went with many questions in hand and on my mind.

After much discussion, my husband and I decided to go with the Kawaii Baby Brand diapers and although we have yet to use them on our little one, I thought I would fill you in on the process so far.

Attachment 1(4)

Reasons why we choose Kawaii Baby Cloth Diapers…

1. My sister in law has a mix f Kawaii Baby, Charlie Banana and Bum Genius diapers. The Kawaii Baby held up just as well if not better these last 2 years as the others. However, Kawaii Baby was much, MUCH cheaper than the others.

2. Kawaii Baby Diapers come in many different varieties. Some are velcro while others are snap, some diapers are micro-fleece, some are suede, some are considered to be ‘green’ diapers and other are double lined. All of these options give me the ability to try things out so that if I decide to buy more or replace some of mine I could do so after trying out and perhaps picking a favorite.

3. Kawaii Diapers can be used from 8lbs and up. Although I am wishing, and hoping, and praying for a little thing that just slides out of me, genetics suggest otherwise. My mom had 8lb babies and so did my mother-in-law. Although we did stock up on a few  days worth of disposables (hello merconium), Kawaii Baby diapers ultimately give me the option to start cloth diapering close to immediately which saves us even more money.

4. Kawaii Diapers come with 1 cover per 2 inserts… this means that I am getting many more inserts than covers and ultimately when it comes time that my baby could turn into a heavy wetter, I will have extras and won’t be caught in the ‘there aren’t enough covers washed’ debacle.

The Process Itself

The process started with us visiting the Kawaii Baby website here. We went with a combo pack that included 24 cloth diapers for only $129.90. This is where people usually say how this is a lot of money for so few diapers… however it must be understood that we never have to buy diapers again, even if we have more children. This means that each diaper comes out to be about $6 and considering they will all be used about once every other day (at least at first), you can see how just in the first month alone they will cost just pennies (less than 50 cents actually).

As stated above, the combo pack also offered us a variety of diapers which gives us the chance to develop a preference for future buys if we choose to. After selecting the combo pack, things we are easy as ordering something off of any website. We put in our payment information and the diapers were delivered in what seemed like no time at all.

Once we got the diapers, I took them all out of their individual packaging and separated inserts from covers. I washed all the inserts as well as dried them in our machine, while I only machine washed the covers and hung them up to dry on our balcony.

2015-06-03 07.07.30

Inserts that are washed, dried and ready to be dirtied!

Attachment 1(5)

Covers drying on our balcony.

After everything was dry, I went ahead and put the inserts back into the covers and stocked my draw full of diapers that are ready to be used. I took the extra inserts and just simply put them to the side knowing that if not immediately, a time will come when I am very thankful I can double up my kiddo’s diaper so that we can all sleep a little longer between diaper changes.

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A happy and stocked drawer of Kawaii Baby Diapers.

Only time will tell how our Kawaii Baby Diapers experience goes. I am expecting many ups and downs but truly believe that in the long run both my husband and I will be very happy with our decision to cloth diaper, especially with Kawaii Diapers. I recently came upon a facebook group that has been very helpful in teaching me more ins and outs of cloth diapering. I highly recommend checking the group out, they are called Fluff Love & CD Science and their link is imbedded.

Do you cloth diaper?

If so, feel free to comment below on your experience as well as leave any tips, tricks or advice for my husband and myself as I am sure we will need it 😉

False Alarm

Well friends… I thought by now I would be introducing you all to some really cool people who are going to be guest posting here while I am on a little “maternity leave”. In fact, last Wednesday my husband and I were positive that I was in labor. Why you ask… oh because you know I was having contractions every 4 minutes for a solid 8 hours!

We were so sure that I was in labor that we called my mom and she hopped in the car and drove to us (D.C. area) from Michigan. About 4 hours before she got here, EVERYTHING stopped! I was pretty devastated and so sad that I had my mom drive through the night, put way to many miles on her car, spend money on gas and then of course use her vacation time just so that we could sit around and guess if I was peeing myself or if my water was leaking. Sadly, it was the first of the two.

  

I’ve been in talk with a wonderful Doula friend who has been beyond wonderful with talking me through this process. She has shed some serious light on this whole “false labor” thing and between her, my mom, my Midwife and Doctor, and my husband… well I’m totally confident that I have the best birth team around.

Everyone says that the baby will come when the baby wants to come. I have learned that, well that my friend could not be more of a true statement. This makes sending my mom home (which happened Sunday – major sad face) pretty dog-gone difficult! I decided Sunday morning that my best bet was to head on over to the hospital and do the very thing I feared… getting “checked”! We found out that I have definitely made progress and although the baby can come at anytime, there is no scientific reason to think that the baby coming today is any more likely than s/he coming in a week. We figured that with this information we could send my mom home and that ultimately she could get back to work and save vacation time so that she can come back out here when it’s the real deal!

Can I just tell you all that having a team of people to help me make these decisions is by far the greatest thing ever! Going to the hospital to get checked stirred up so many emotions in me… I feared that I would be looked at as “stupid” for not knowing when things are real, that I would disappoint my husband or mom for not “delivering” – figuratively and literally, and let’s not even talk about the idea that I would get to the hospital to only get hooked up to a million machines. Non of those things happened, and I honestly believe it is because the people that my husband and I have asked to be apart of this journey have invested in us in the same way we have invested in them.

This whole experience… this false labor thing has taught me to be so thankful for the team that is going to be a part of this baby coming into this world, it has taught me to trust myself, both physically and mentally, and it has also taught me that I can have the birth that I want for myself and this baby. I feel very confident that by the grace of God, I can do this whole have a baby thing and that the experience will be full of people who love and want the best for me and my baby.

So there is a silver lining to false labor friends… there is also a silver lining to things not going the way we expected or hoped for them to go. Hard things have yet again come my way, just as they have before and just as they will again, and it all has, is, will work out!

I have had cramping, cervical pain, contractions and back spasms pretty regularly since Wednesday… so maybe the next time you come here there will be a really cute picture of a baby, maybe not. Either way, I look forward to meeting the little monkey that is currently having a dance party inside of me and I’ll definitely be focusing on enjoying the rest of this pregnancy in the mean time.

 

Did you have any “false labor” with your kids?

What are some of the things that helped you get through the last few weeks of pregnancy?

Essential Oils

Did you know that the largest organ in your body is actually not in your body? It’s the truth… your skin is the largest organ of your body and it may possibly take the most harsh treatment of all our organs.

From the air we live in, the products we put on our bodies and the food and drink we consume, our skin has to go to work to protect us from toxins, absorb nutrients and still look pretty while doing this massive job.

This realization has recently sent me on a journey to clean up the mess that I have put in front of my skin in the form of ‘it’s daily job’.  It started off with me receiving (from my husband) the Young Living Essential Oil started kit for my birthday.  It comes with these great oils…

2015-06-03 07.04.24

This kit includes StressAway, Joy, Purification, Peppermint, Thieves, Lemon, Frankincense, Tea Tree PanAway, Citrus Fresh and Lavender.

Next up, I started the oh so popular process of ‘googling’ my life away to find recipes for a few ways to reduce my chemical intake all the while still participating in my usual lifestyle.

Here is what resulted…

Essential Oils

I found the recipes as follows…

Thieves CleanerStretch Mark CreamAnti Wrinkle Eye Cream

The recipes were followed almost exactly with the exception of the oils that I didn’t have. The great thing about these oils and recipes is that they are still extremely beneficial even if I didn’t use them all. I am just shy of 38 weeks pregnant and do not yet have a stretch mark, so for that reason alone I will keep using this recipe.

Now I completely understand that I may just be genetically blessed, however this body butter/cream is extremely nourishing, all the while not sticky or to heavy. The eye cream has been turned into my overall face cream and to be completely honest I have gotten rid of my face wash as I now just simply use this cream to remove my make up, rinse my face with warm water and then apply this all over my face. I promise you that my skin has NEVER looked better, and it definitely has never felt better.

The thieves cleaner is used all over my house… in my bathtub (because I soak there almost daily), on my counter tops and even to clean windows. I love that my baby will come into this world breathing in just a few less toxins than s/he would have months ago. Also, just a little info… thieves cleaner is anti-bacterial, anti-viral AND anti-fungal. Talk about a win!

I love that I get to truly change my life when I step into my kitchen and re-evaluate my lifestyle. Making these products is quite fun for me and I also find them to be extremely successful in doing their jobs. Add both of these ‘pros’ to the fact that I know I am giving my skin a break from enduring the tough life it has and I couldn’t be happier with these recent lifestyle changes.

Do you use Essential Oils?

If so, what are your favorite ways to use them?

Maybe you don’t make your own recipes, but perhaps you use specific and healthier options… what do you use?

South Mountain Creamery

I love the health and nutrition movement that is taking place in this country. It is amazing to me the power of our dollar as American’s and our ability to more or less vote for what we want in life with it. I personally feel empowered on a daily basis when I see the media exposing truth about what we eat and I think most of you do too.

Baby Steps Big Results

One of my favorite things about this movement that is taking place is that although some practice it in an “all or nothing” way, this doesn’t have to be our realty. Instead, you and I can make small changes over, and over, and over again to change our life and health in a sustainable and impactful way.

One way in which I have changed the way we do things around our house in the past few months is by buying SOME of our food from a local farmer. This has actually been a 2-step process for my husband and myself so I thought I would share it with you today.

About 3 months ago, I started to buy all of our dairy products only from Trader Joe’s and would pick up only organic and grass-fed versions of these products. Before doing this I rearranged our budget a bit and made a few adjustments so that doing so would NOT increase our weekly grocery budget. In all honesty, I had to play around with it for a few weeks but sure enough, everything balanced out perfectly within just a matter of 2 or3 trips to the grocery stores.

Once this change way underway, I decided it was time to take things a step further. After much “googling” and some facebook page questioning, I found a local farmer who would provide all of the products I was looking for for just about the same price as what I was buying them for from Trader Joe’s. You may ask why I find this to be important and I completely understand the possible confusion that I am causing…

Why do I need to buy organic and grass-fed products from a local farmer when I can get then for just about the same price at a store near by?

A few reasons actually… I love that my husband and I are effecting our local economy in a positive way. I love that at any point I can take a drive to the farm from which my food comes from to see how the animals and their products are treated. Finally, I love that my food isn’t sitting on a truck traveling from farm to warehouse, and then from warehouse to store only to sit around a bit longer on a shelf until I decide to go buy it. In other words… this small change gives us cleaner, more responsible and local food all within our budget!

So let’s get to the details… how does this whole local farm food thing work?

Well, my husband and I signed up through this website…

South Mountain Creamery

SMC

{Image from SMC website}

There was a sign up fee however this is the current promotion taking place…

FEES

{Image from SMC website}

This means that our first order, and part of our second was paid for in advance.

Every Monday (based on our delivery date) we have to place our order by 11:59 p.m. to have our products at our doorstep Wednesday morning. Yes, you read that right… this company delivers RIGHT TO OUR DOOR!!!

This week we purchased eggs, milk, butter and some beef. When I went to check out, I noticed that chocolate milk was on sale for only $1.99. I couldn’t resist so that went into our shopping cart as well!

SMC Delivery

Doesn’t everything look exciting and delicious!

If you are in the PA, VA, WV, MD or DC area there is a really great chance the South Mountain Creamery will delivery to your door too! So head on over to their website or give the a call to see if you can join in on the SMC fun. If you aren’t in the area, I highly recommend that you start considering researching a local farm you can buy some of your food from. Maybe you can’t do it year round, or perhaps you can only buy a few products… that’s OK, because baby steps really do add up to big results for our health, economy and environment!

So… do you buy any of your food from a local farm?

Do you have organic or grass-fed preferences in your diet?

What has your journey been concerning switching over to local or organic food?

We Are Ready!

As of yesterday, I am 37 weeks pregnant. About month ago, I was informed via an ultrasound that the baby is measuring at least 1 week ahead, last Wednesday I was told that now both myself and the baby are measuring 2 weeks ahead. In other words, this baby can come any day now!

Can I just say that as a first time mom, this makes me feel a bit anxious… not because I am scared but instead because I keep going over this list in my head of things that need to be ready for this baby. In all reality, all this baby needs is to eat, sleep and poop. But you know, we live in America and there is this store called Buy Buy Baby and it is really good at making you feel like you are illy prepared to bring a child into the world unless you buy everything in that place.

The truth however is that our sweet little baby doesn’t even get his or her own room! Ha… yeah, because we live in an apartment that is a whopping 550sq feet, so space isn’t exactly something of excess around here. I wanted to share with you all some updates on this pregnancy as well as show off the little spaces we have created around our apartment to welcome this little peanut into our lives… so here we go!

  

Hello Belly!!! Also, please note the giant cup of ice and then continue reading 😉

Weight Gain: 23lbs… I had lost 20 in the beginning of this pregnancy so technically I am only up 3lbs. This is very deceiving as most people think, oh wow how nice but let’s all remember that you can only lose 20lbs if you have 20lbs to lose.

Gender: We still don’t know! Call us crazy but we have loved not knowing for a few reasons. One of which is the fact that we do live in such a tiny place, not knowing what we are having has seriously prohibited us and our family members from shopping like crazy.

Food Cravings: Anything salty, cold or sour. I could live off of roasted broccoli, am eating ice like crazy and would be totally ok if my house has a family size bag of Cool Ranch Dorito’s in it at all times. I am still drinking my Shakeology just about everyday so that I know if nothing else the baby and I are getting all of our vitamins, minerals and other nutrients in.

Food Aversions: Everything… just kidding. All meat, touching it literally makes me vomit. I cannot stand to be around take out or fast food. I could pretty much just be a vegetarian at this point… possibly even a vegan. I guess I just kind of hate food for now.

Mood Lately: I am the biggest baby in the world when I am tired lately. Now granted, I go 3 or 4 nights any more with less than 3 hours of sleep so maybe this is expected but I hate how irritated I get over little things as well as how grumpy I am when I am driving in the car. I swear I wasn’t like this before and my heart aches for my dear, sweet, loving husband.

Pregnancy Complaints:I think my brain is missing. A common mistake I make is doing an entire load of laundry without putting the clothes in or attempting to say something to my husband but not being able to. I have literally resorted to just saying key words followed by “and other words”. He has learned to accept this as our reality and I just walk away to do/get what ever it is I am trying to communicate to him.

Pregnancy Loves: Feeling the baby move… especially at night when my husband reads and talks to this little guy or girl. In fact, I make Al put the baby to sleep every night. Call me crazy but I swear that this baby does not settle down until Al talks to him or her and tells s/he to go to sleep and let me rest. I imagine this isn’t nearly the craziest thing we will do as parents so I’m just going with it.

Here are a few pictures of baby “stuff” around our place. As I mentioned above, we do not know the gender despite the blue room. When I registered for our wedding shower about a year ago, I went with blues, whites and creams for our bedroom and since the babies crib is with us in our room,it only seemed appropriate to go with the color scheme that already existed.

Baby Stuff A

The bouncer and bassinet are in our living room while the dresser/changing table is technically in our dining room. We will obviously be filling those frames with pictures of our little one and the draws will be filled with cloth diapers and lots of comfy jammies I am sure.

Baby Stuff B

My wonderful parents bought us our crib and that chair was a gift from my husband. He actually bought it for me before we were married. I am expecting many night time feedings to happen there! Also, the sweet teddy bear was a gift from my husband as well back before we were even engaged.

Al and I cannot wait to meet our little buddy and we cannot wait to introduce him or her to the world. I know this post has absolutely nothing to do with food, nutrition or health so thanks for sticking around and letting me gush with you for a bit about all the cute things taking place inside and outside of my big baby belly.