AJ – Part 3

We found something on your ultrasound, your Midwife and Doctor will go over it with you in the exam room. Please wait here while I go speak to them… I will be right back.

That’s how the beginning of my 23 week appointment went while pregnant with A.J., and it only got worse for a few weeks. The ultrasound tech found a birth defect on our little guys ultrasound in the form of “2 Vessel Cord”. We were told at that appointment that most babies umbilical cord has 2 veins and 1 artery in it. The artery is what supplies baby with blood (and nutrients) from it’s mom, while the veins act as the garbage men, carrying toxins away from the baby. With only 1 vein in A.J.’s umbilical cord, we were placed on “watch” and needed monthly and eventually bi-monthly ultrasounds to watch A.J. grow. What would happen if he wasn’t properly growing you ask? Preterm induction, because although he had a birth defect, in only existed in my womb which means once he was out of me, he would be able to grow just fine.

We went home from that appointment relieved and believing that everything would be just fine.

However, that evening when I was getting ready to leave for a bible study I was a part of, we got a phone call from the head of midwifery at our hospital who had a few more concerns. After she and our doctor took a second look at the ultrasound, they started to get concerned about the babies kidneys and heart, and brain. We were informed that we needed to make a few appointments at National Children’s Hospital to have some more testing done and potentially some genetic counseling.

Confused and needing to talk to my husband, I told the midwife that I would call them back. Since we had just let the appointment a few hours before and were told that everything would be just fine, I was at a loss as to why we were now being told a different story.

After talking to my husband (and staying home that evening), we called the midwife back and spoke with her together.She told us that the ultrasound was picking up soft markers for Down Syndrome and that it was best to have more testing done. My husband and I decided, with our midwife that rather then rush down to Children’s right away, we would wait for our next appointment AND ultrasound and then make the necessary appointments in these soft markers had not gone away.

Our thought process was this… nothing could change our mind about our baby and the love we had for him. For us, the option of abortion was not actually an option and therefore they couldn’t give us any information that was time sensitive. Considering that anything new information they could give us was not anything that would “fix” any “problems” in the womb, we also didn’t feel as though it would help us make any decisions differently than we already were.

So we waited… we also cried a bit, prayed a lot and did something we shouldn’t have done, we “googled”.

One month later, we were back at the doctors office and I was convinced that nothing was wrong with our baby. I had a whole slue of theories about why this was all happening… every hear about milking someone for their insurance, or a testimony that will bring you to your knees, or that sometimes technology and medical advances are to good to be true and pick up things that aren’t really there? Anyways, the ultrasound came back the same as before, and we were following through on our part (with much hesitation mind you) calling and making appointments for more testing and genetic counseling.

We went to the appointment and everything I said about options and information remained the same. The chances of our baby having Down Syndrome, Hydrocephalus, Kidney or Heart problems all remained the same and the final verdict was that we wouldn’t know anything for sure until this little guy was born.

So the ultrasounds continued. A.J.’s growth was watch until I was 34 weeks when it was confirmed that he was actually surpassing all of the markers they look for in terms of organ development. At this point, 11 weeks later, they told me to go home, relax and enjoy the rest of my pregnancy.

Little side note here… I threw up until I was 22 weeks pregnant and then cried my eyes out between weeks 23 and 34 because of birth defect fears. The idea of going home, relaxing and enjoying this pregnancy was literally something I couldn’t comprehend.

Spoiler alert… A.J. was born without any issues at all. His heart rate didn’t even drop once during labor, but I’ll get to that later.

My son is by far one of the strongest and most self motivated babies I have ever seen. If you don’t believe me you can watch the video on my phone that I have of him rolling over at 2 weeks. If that doesn’t do it for you, then talk to the hospital staff who were amazed at his ability to hold his own head up an hour after he was born. Or maybe you should just watch him nurse, that is an experience that says nothing but self-motivated and strong.

I wanted to share this part of our story with all of you because sometimes science is wrong, most of the time pregnancy is hard n some way or another and all the time God is in control. I wasn’t told these things prior to being pregnant and I think it’s important to hear.

Our boy is perfect and we thank God for that multiple times a day.

Pop back in next week to hear all about A.J.’s birth story and how it only (sarcasm) took him 50 hours to make his way into this world.

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Body, Soul and Spirit

While I am taking some time to enjoy being a new mom, I asked a few friends to step in and share with you a little bit about their journey when it comes to their health. I am so excited for you to hear about all of the different ways women are taking control of their health and thriving in our not so healthy world.

Today’s guest is a wonderful friend of mine by the name of Ashli. Ashli and I have known each other for quite a few years, and it was actually through this blog and a bit of a health issue of hers that we reconnected about 2 years ago. Ashli has been a huge encouragement to me and I am so thankful for her genuine and warm heart. I am blown away by Ashli on a regular basis; her positivity, energy (she had 3 boys in about 18 months) and thoughtfulness are just a few reasons as to why I love our phone calls and conversations via text.

Ashli’s story is a bit unique in that it is so much more about physical health, but that is why I knew you all needed to hear/read it! So thank you again Ashli for stepping in today on my behalf and I hope you all enjoy her story!

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Stresses of Life

First off, I want to thank Leah for asking me to be a guest on her blog. She’s doing some great things on here and I enjoy learning from each of her posts. It’s an honor to be a part of it. I’m so thankful for her genuine friendship. I’m praying this new season of motherhood will be full of joy! It’s an adventure!

I wanted to share a little bit about what health means to me and our family. I know to each family this can look a little different. Our house is a busy one with three little boys, 4 years old and then three year old twins. There’s never a dull moment, but I wouldn’t change it for the world! My husband had done a lot of research about organic food and natural living even before we had kids, but it was after our first son was born that we really started shifting our choices. I still remember being in the kitchen one evening and I felt God speak to my heart. He told me that it was time to start making some changes. That I was the one preparing the meals for my family and they should be real, living and organic foods. From that moment, the journey began. It has certainly been a journey and it was NOT an overnight process! It was gradual. Our grocery trips began to look a little different as I began to learn about the differences between conventional and organic foods.

When our son was about 9 months old we found out we were pregnant again and at our 20 week ultrasound we found out we were having identical twin boys! Oh my! You can imagine the joy… and shock! The twins were born when our oldest son was 16 months, it was a crazy busy season! Shortly after they were born I was not feeling “right” and began the elimination diet, finding out that gluten was not agreeing with me. I’ve since cut gluten out and it’s been almost 3 years. That forced me to eat even cleaner and research even more on our family’s clean eating journey. Has it been perfect, nope, but it’s been great and we are constantly learning. My husband and I love supporting local farmers (yay, for summer farmers markets!) and we’ve also implemented essential oils into our journey. We love to support companies with integrity and so, Young Living Essential Oils have been such a blessing for us! Whether if someone is fighting a sickness or allergies or we just need a good nights sleep (and what mama doesn’t want that!) or I need a healthy cleaner, they’ve been fabulous. I’ve also started an adrenal fatigue program with some natural supplements. All of these changes through the last few years have been a wonderful journey as we try to take care of these temples God has given us.

Which leads me to what’s really been on my heart for this post. One thing that I constantly have to keep in check is that although it’s so important for us to take care of our physical body, how much more important is it that we keep our spirit and soul well fed? We are made up of spirit, soul and body. How often do we drink our green smoothie, prepare our free range eggs and bacon each morning and yet forget the Bread of Life? The God of the Bible that created you, that would move Heaven and Earth to know you, love you, change you, and use you for all He created you to be. I think too often we focus on our spiritual life less than we should (no condemnation for those in Christ! I’m speaking to myself here too!). We wonder why we still don’t “feel” as good as we think we should. I know for myself, if I am carrying the weight of life and letting things stress me out instead of giving them to Jesus, my gut will feel the same as if I ate gluten. It’s amazing that when we carry the stresses of life around (when we are not meant to) it can affect our physical bodies in a negative way. True joy, rest, peace and strength come from Jesus alone. No matter how well we take care of our physical body, I’ve learned that without Him, it will never be all we need. I desire to have more and more of Him shining through me daily, but that can only happen if I am feeding my spirit through God’s Word and being in His presence. Just like we invest in our physical health through organic and living foods, we need to be spending time with Jesus to be equipped, empowered and changed to be all He’s called us to be as His children and to know Him more. This will bring complete health to our bodies and true life. I have to constantly keep my heart in check that although healthy choices are important for me and my family, He is still my Sustainer. So as busy moms, how can we do this? It’s hard to get up at 5am when your little one may have been up a few times that night or if your kids get up really early (like mine!) and you stumble to the kitchen just to get your coffee! How do we sit in God’s presence, read His Word and pray and listen to make sure we are feeding our spirit daily? There are no rules, I believe God will lead you for what will work best for you. I have a close friend that when her kids were little, she used to have her time with God after they went to bed at night. I love mornings so I try to have my quiet time in the morning, but it does not always work out that way and I have to adjust it to later that day! Either way, investing in spending time with your Father, with always be worth it! Keep feeding your spirit, listen to worship music through your day (your kids will love it too!), talk with God and be listening to hear from Him as well. Every day He will lead you and guide you as you put Him first in your journey to complete health!

1 Timothy 4:8 (NIV)

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

About Ashli

 

  • I was a gymnast & cheerleader growing up. The last time I did a somersault I got so dizzy and almost fell over! Funny how things change after babies!
  • I actually really like green smoothies
  • My husband and I love watching worship sets together

Bee Pollen

Mommy Brain – it has hit me hard! Like tried to charge my phone with my breast pump cord hard. And then there was the forget how to walk and strain my foot in two places “mommy moment”. That one I do NOT recommend… it left me on crutches for a few days and let me tell you, taking care of a newborn while on crutches is not an easy task.

Thankfully, some of my mommy brain moments are paying off in a few strange ways. Take that time I ordered local unfiltered honey from our local farm only to receive this at my front door…

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My husband and I got a good laugh out of this one. After a little ‘googling’ however, I found out that this mistake is actually a bit of a ‘win’ for me. Let me share with you all…

Bee Pollen

bee-pollen

What is Bee Pollen?

– Bee Pollen is what is left over from the bee’s after they pollinate the plant and take what is necessary back to the hive to make honey. Bee Pollen is found in every hive by the Bee Keeper. Some choose to collect and keep it while others choose to discard it.
What are the benefits of taking Bee Pollen?

– Bee Pollen is unique in that it is one of the ONLY natural substances that has every vitamin, mineral and amino acids in it. In other words, it’s the perfect and natural daily vitamin. Because it is natural, it is allergen free from things such as dairy, soy and wheat as well as sets off the perfect chain of reactions/event within your body for all of the nutritional properties to be absorbed and properly processed by your body. In short, Bee Pollen is very easy on your body to use for good.
How do I take Bee Pollen?

– Just like you may have a reaction to a bee stinging you or to eating honey, there is a slight chance that you could also have a reaction from Bee Pollen. For this reason, it is advised to start off by only taking 1 granule with food at first. Everyday, you can increase this amount by 1 or 2 granules per day with a meal, for a week. If you do not have a reaction, it is then safe to take 1/2 teaspoon of Bee Pollen granules 2x a day for one week. At this point you can switch over to taking 1 teaspoon 1x a day. Since I am breastfeeding, I did exactly this. Myself and my son are fine to be using Bee Pollen which I am very thankful for.
Is Bee Pollen safe for children, pregnant or nursing women to take?

– Depending on the source you are getting your information from, this answer will change. As I said, I followed exactly the above advise and had not adverse reactions. I did check with my son’s Pediatrician, whom is a bit more holistic minded and he was fine with use trying this out. Check with your doctor as well as your child’s before starting anything that changes you over all health.
Where can I read more about Bee Pollen?

Dr. Mercola write quite a bit about this topic here and here. Ten quick reasons to take Bee Pollen can be found here. And for anyone looking  to see research based information on the subject, you can do so here.
Where can I buy Bee Pollen at?

It is best to buy Bee Pollen from your local farmer, as this ensures safer consumption. However a few other places to check out are Thrive Market and Amazon. Another option would be to go to a local health foods store and ask if they carry this product.

 

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Would you even consider using Bee Pollen as a health supplement?

Maybe you already have used it, if so how did you like it?

Ice Cream, Yoga and Moderation

While I am taking some time to enjoy being a new mom, I asked a few friends to step in and share with you a little bit about their journey when it comes to their health. I am so excited for you to hear about all of the different ways women are taking control of their health and thriving in our not so healthy world.

Blog world… meet Alyssa! This sweet young woman is a relative of one of my relatives and she is taking the fitness world by storm in some very cool and different ways! Aside from being young, beautiful and full of energy, she is also a genuine and funny lady who has quite a bit to teach us all.

The reason Alyssa popped into my head when considering who to ask to “guest blog” is the simply fact that this girl goes after healthy living in ways that most of us don’t. She isn’t a marathon runner (that I know of) or a paleo diet follower… instead Alyssa’s social media feeds are full of pictures of her enjoying her life in ways that speak so much to health, fitness and happiness.

I don’t know about you but I want my life to speak of those things. So please pretend you are sitting across from Alyssa as you read this post because I promise you we can all learn from her journey to health and happiness.

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Moderation

What does HEALTH mean to me?

Ice cream…

That is the first thought that came to my mind when Leah asked me to write a guest blog on “What Health Means to Me”. ​Ice cream… Y​ou might be thinking that ice cream and health don’t quite go hand in hand. Or maybe you’ve already shut your computer as you make a b­line towards the nearest Baskin Robbins. Stick with me, allow me to explain myself…

I love ice cream. You could call me an ice cream connoisseur. I love it. I love it after a long bike ride, with friends, on Sunday afternoons, close to midnight, smack dab in the middle of the week… You get the picture. I can specifically remember a time that I was teaching a yoga class and from the very beginning of the class to the end, all I could think about was Erma’s flavor of the week (it’s an amazing frozen custard place in the city that I live). It’s very much a love/hate relationship though. I often fight the urge to feel guilty for enjoying my delicious cup of frozen custard directly afterwards… If not during. This is a push and pull that I have felt for a very long time. Let me tell you a bit about my background, and then we will get to the reason I am talking about ice cream in a health blog.

I spent most of my childhood in gyms. I competed as an artistic gymnast for 12 years. It was a very strenuous sport to say the least. The workouts were very demanding and with the amount of time I was required to dedicate to the sport, I learned from a very young age that you should only ever do anything a​ll out.​I would practice on the bars until my hands would bleed, and then I would just keep going. I threw up after e​very single​cardio conditioning drill we did. It was expected of me. As I grew up, and injury eventually caused me to step away from the sport forever, this mentality bled through into most other aspects of my life…

As a 14 year old, I decided I was done eating meat. I wanted to be as healthy as possible, so this was my first step. I thought this would help me to make healthier decisions, or to learn better eating habits. For me, it wasn’t an option to just cut down on my meat intake, or to choose a lean, grilled chicken breast over a hamburger… I had to go a​ll out.​I kept this up for 7 years. In 2013, I felt the need to step it up even further. I went vegan for 6 months. Many people choose to eat vegan and they love it, that’s great! I didn’t. I wasn’t happy. I didn’t feel fulfilled. I was searching for something, and I thought the change of diet would help me find it. It didn’t. I was eating only organic, whole, vegan foods and didn’t feel whole.

This is where “What Health Means to Me” comes in. You can eat all of the whole foods you want, and still not be whole. You can drink all of the kombucha (I LOVE a good batch of kombucha), do all of the workouts, eat at that o​ne vegan restaurant e​very time you go out to dinner… And still not be content. Still not be healthy. Still not be whole. Health is more than hitting your ideal weight. Health is more than eating the right food or doing the right workouts. What does being “healthy” mean if you’re not holistically healthy? Physically healthy, emotionally healthy, mentally healthy, spiritually healthy. I realized that I was leading a very“healthy” lifestyle, but I wasn’t truly whole. I have had to come to a realization (and it’s definitely a process that I have to continually work through), that to maintain a holistically healthy lifestyle, the key is:

Moderation in Everything

This is something that I have written all over my apartment. I have reminders all over. I need to be constantly reminded. We all do. Nobody is perfect. We all enjoy a scoop of ice cream here and there, and if you don’t, I’m very sorry. You’re missing out. Here’s the thing, we need to live life in a healthy way, but life is meant to be l​ived​and e​njoyed.​What good is a any of our eating, working out, or anything for that matter if we don’t e​njoy it?​If we don’t feel whole?

Is this permission to go and buy a half gallon of Cookies and Cream and kill it by yourself? No. I mean, if you really want to, I guess go ahead, but I wouldn’t suggest it… But there’s no harm in a scoop once a week. See where I’m going with this? Moderation. A game changer for me was doing a 21 day food challenge, and as part of it, I had to eat a couple of squares of dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) every single day. This taught me that I can have these things that I enjoy, even every day, in moderation, and the world doesn’t end. That was huge for me.

Mentally, emotionally, and spiritually this motto applies also. Yoga has been a big help for me personally, but it is extremely important to remember that you don’t have to run a half marathon to get a good workout in, no matter what you choose to do.

If there is one thing that I can encourage you to do, it is to find a balance to your life. Whether it be food, working out, busy schedules, spirituality, emotional health, or whatever it might be. Find balance. Practice moderation, and grab a little bit of ice cream. I promise you’ll feel more healthy for doing it.

About Alyssa:

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  • I am a registered yoga teacher through Yahweh Yoga and Yoga Alliance.
  • I love organizing everything!
  • Cooking in the kitchen with my Husband is a joy in my life.

 

AJ -Part 2

Part 2 of the “behind the seens” of AJ making his way into this world and our lives is most definitely my experience with hyperemesis… Which didn’t ease up for me until about week 22/23 of this pregnancy. I had written about previously so I wanted to share with you all about it again. 

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I’m Pregnant! This baby was a bit of a surprise baby and has yet to stop surprising his or her mom and dad.
Quick recap… I pretty much hate food. And as a bit of a foodie, this has been almost life changing. I have no apatite, can only name about 5 things that I eat on a regular basis without throwing up/getting heartburn/ having indigestion, you get the picture. This pregnancy has sent me to the hospital a few times for dehydration and malnutrition and my lower back feels like it is on fire. All of this joy has actually resulted in me losing weight rather than gaining but don’t be fooled, I look like I’ve been eating a few to many burgers and this belly of mine is quite firm! I’m currently waiting for the whole “butterflies and rainbows” feelings to kick in over being pregnant but my expectations are officially low. I keep hearing from people that I should be feeling this baby move now any day, but I just cant wrap my mind around this happening. I feel like I’ll just mistake movement for the precursor to a bowel movement…. sorry baby :-/
My husband and I are over the moon with the fact that we get our own little, teeny, tiny human come June. We have so many plans to smother this baby in kisses, love and joy and are very aware of the fact that in 16 years we will have a live in hater on our hands. These last 6 months have smacked us in the face with the reality that our plans almost always fail us and we are learning to surrender to this thing called life!
All in all, I expect this baby to continue being the little firecracker he or she is and I can’t wait to meet this little world changer.
Now, with saying all of that… I wanted to write to all of you and tell you of a few of my secrets.
In the last 16ish weeks, I have learned a few tips and tricks that I whole heartedly believe will be your best friend if you happen to be pregnant (with nausea, vomiting, etc.), suffering through the flu, or having gallbladder attacks. Now, I will warn you that this list isn’t the healthiest (non-organic and full of chemicals) way of doing life, but my doctor and I figured this out together and are convinced it will keep me out of the hospital and enjoying life on some level.
Pregnancy Tips & Tricks
Shakeology – This stuff is like magic! It’s slightly expensive magic, but has literally changed my health. The first time I went into the hospital during this pregnancy I was dehydrated AND malnourished. The last time I went into the hospital I was ONLY dehydrated. The only difference I had made to my life (which at that time consisted of throwing up daily and not being able to eat anything), was drinking half of one of these shakes a day. I didn’t do anything fancy to them, just put the powder in the blender with some milk. When I tell you that half of a shake gave me and my baby every bit of nutrient (other than water) that we needed for that day, I mean it. I am now receiving these shakes every month in the mail and that won’t be changing. My husband (the one who brings in the $) and I are convinced that these shakes changed my and our babies health and I promise you they are worth EVERY pretty penny.
Gatorade – When my husband realized how sneaky I was being with Gatorade, I think he got a bit concerned. You see, when I was home in Michigan over Christmas and the New Year, I could tell I was getting dehydrated. Even though I am throwing up less (Praise the sweet, sweet Lord JESUS), food and water still are not appealing to me and they definitely do not feel good inside of me. The result is my husband tricking me into eating and drinking by offering me back-rubs, control of Netflix at night and other totally old people married things in exchange of me eating small portions of food and drinking water. So back to Michigan, one day I could tell where things were leading based on my severely dry mouth and cracking lips and I asked my kind and selfless husband to go get me some Gatorade. He did and I am eternally grateful. I’m not to sure why I didn’t think of this sooner, but between the sugar and electrolytes, I can tell that a Gatorade a day is seriously keeping the IV’s away.
Peppermint Tums – Remember how I said food and water doesn’t feel good inside of me… well Peppermint Tums sprinkle fairy dust on my intestines and make everything feel good not bad! And that’s why I got the giant container of them. Enough said, right?!
Gummy Prenatal Vitamins – My doctor isn’t concerned about prenatal vitamins for me. She says that hundreds of years ago women had babies without vitamins but with about 100 more diseases around them. Pretty much, if they could do it, so can I! But then about 10 people a week ask me if I’m taking prenatal vitamins and it kind of freaks me out when I tell them no and they look at me with that same exact look that they all give me. You know, the one that says “awwwww, you’re already a bad mom before you’re even a mom”. It’s not good. So I figured out that if AFTER drinking my Shakeology, I take these gummy vitamins I can keep them down. And them I experience this thing called sanity. It’s really nice.
Pretty much, I am now getting my essentials covered. Do I cook? Nope, food is gross. Am I enjoying eating dinner? Nope, like I said, food is gross! Do I feel like myself? Heck no! In fact, I expect to never feel like myself again… this baby is a firecracker and I am expecting to deliver him or her uber late on July 3rd, Why you ask? Because July 4th would just be way to good, but July 3rd is just enough to steel away from all of his or her family members the ability to celebrate this country’s birthday. Instead my child will probably grow up thinking that all of America celebrates his or her birthday with fireworks every year.
Clearly this baby is a firecracker because his or her momma is one too, my husband pointed that out this morning but we will just ignore him for saying such utter ridiculous things!
Now, if you look at this list of things and think to yourself, “wow that’s a lot chemical ridden and processed junk to be putting into a body everyday”, well you you are probably right. But I don’t care right now. But since you do, here are some ideas of how to do the same thing I am, but in a more natural way.
Get the vegan Shakeology and use it with almond or coconut milk.

Instead of drinking Gatorade, drink coconut water. Beware though that when pregnancy drinking thick things may be the worst idea in the world.

Rather than eating tums, use magnesium flakes in your bath water, mix it with water and rub in on your skin like lotion or mix it with water and drink it. Again, I don’t recommend this is water is difficult to drink or you are experiencing dry skin. But hey, give it a try!

Just don’t take prenatal vitamins… maybe you are way stronger than I am feeling mentally right now and I’ll tell you, GOOD FOR YOU! Rock that confidence!

If you are pregnant and going through a rough patch, I am seriously so sorry. This has been very hard on me emotionally at times, and I will definitely be sharing that soon in hopes of encouraging someone the way someone encouraged me about 5 weeks ago. I completely underestimated the changes that take place during pregnancy, not just physically but emotionally, mentally and spiritually and if you are currently in the fire, I promise it gets better. No matter how hard today may be, remember that you are one of the lucky people who get to bring a life into this world even if your day doesn’t seem very joyful or lucky.
16 week bbMy 16 Week Baby Bump
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** I am now such a believer in Shakeology, that I am signed up under the company Beachbody to sell it. From a nutritional point of view, I cannot tell you enough about Shakeology, but if you have any questions, feel free to contact me or leave them below in the comments and I will be happy to chat with you about this wonderful and healthy product.**

You Are Wonderful

While I am taking some time to enjoy being a new mom, I asked a few friends to step in and share with you a little bit about their journey when it comes to their health. I am so excited for you to hear about all of the different ways women are taking control of their health and thriving in our not so healthy world.

Today’s guest is a wonderful friend of mine by the name of Denise. I actually met Denise ultimately via essential oils but have formed a wonderful friendship with her simply due to both of our desires to live healthier lifestyles. Denise has a heart for people that truly is rare and she has actually started a blog recently. Denise won’t say this so I will for her, she is also thriving in the world of essential oils and an incredibly knowledgeable women concerning them.

Amazingly though, she is using essential oils to not just help others heal but to also spread of message of hope and strength to women literally around the world.

So please read Denise’s story knowing that each of her words come from a place of love and that her true heart is to simply encourage you. And Denise… thank you for being such a wonderful woman in a world needing just that!

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People Need You

Well hi lovely friends. When Leah asked me to write about why health is so important to me, I knew immediately what I wanted to share today. Knowing Leah and her inspirational posts that take over my Instagram had me thinking about her sweet soul, had me thinking about YOU!

Yesterday I stood in front of a beautiful group of people, talking briefly about my health journey with essential oils and where God was leading my business. Following my brief talk, my dear friend stood up and talked about Human Trafficking. There are hardly words. We made oil blends to give to survivors, we sold fair trade items, we educated, we laughed, cried, and prayed.

Tonight, I am on my couch, writing to you with a runny nose. My first head cold in forever and I am overwhelmed. I move out of my house with three children in a few days and I am exhausted to the bones at times. Why? I can tell you. I forgot. I forgot to take 10 minutes and rest in the grass with my children, clearing my mind from packing. I forgot to take the time to put on my oils and to make a salad instead of order pizza. And now, it is crunch time, and I feel lousy.

You see the past year of my life; God has revealed huge plans for my little family. He has put passions on our hearts that are carrying us across the country so that people can come to know Hope and Love. And this is where YOU come in. Why health matters. We live in a time where being a health nut might mean you are just being part of the fad, trying to be cool, fit in with the “green” people. But that has nothing to do with it. Taking care of your health is because you are meant for great things. Take charge of your health. Not because it is cool. Not because it will help you fit in the blog world. It is because you need the energy. You need the focus. Why? – I can’t say it enough – because you are meant for great things. You are meant to be part in changing people’s lives for the better, and when we are sitting on the couch, feeling lousy, tired, foggy, we miss out on so many opportunities that are knocking.

When I ate Whole foods for 30 days I felt fantastic. For the first time in a while I wanted to run races with my little children and play silly on the floor with them and when they cuddled up close to me in the middle of the night, my body felt so much more clean to have so many feet touching me. I was way less anxious.

In the past few weeks of stress, I have let it go, and I feel lousy. So I sit here. Drinking my honey tea and deciding it is time to remember what it felt like when I took care of myself. I don’t really have time for a head cold when I am moving in three days with three children. So here I am, encouraging you.

Taking care of your health isn’t just about you. It is about the people around you. People need you because you are wonderful and meant for great things. So start today, no matter how small. some of you may be struggling with chronic and difficult health issues, and you are my heroes and your bravery changes lives. And for those of you that have areas of your health that you can take control of, even if it is hard, I encourage you to take that hard and brave step – because I promise it will lead to something better.

About Denise:

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  • My husband and I and our three children are in the process of moving across the country. I am at a two month pit stop living at my parents, apart from my husband four days a week. I’m sleeping in a room with all three of the little ones so I’m learning to pretend to be Mary Poppins and Ferline Maria to make bedtime less stressful.
  • I have moved 15 times and been to 17 countries so I have never totally felt any place was my home. Home is wherever my little family is. But Africa – that place is just awesome!
  • I come up with more ideas in a day then I could accomplish in a lifetime. My solid husband keeps me functioning. For real I would be lost without him.

Buying Organic Guide

Guide to Buying Organic

Mention organic food to the average American and one word will come up… EXPENSIVE!

I would love to say that this isn’t the truth, but it is. Being a newlywed and a pregnant lady who isn’t working has put my husband and myself on a budget that we weren’t quite planning on being at this stage in life. Learning to buy our gorceries while sticking to our beliefs about things such as local food, GMO’s, organic and clean eating has most definitely been a learning experience for me. I have shared with you all here some of my “tips and tricks” on meal planning as well as how we use local foods to feed our bodies and finances here. But at the end of the day, there aren’t to many ways to get around the fact that organic meat and produce cost more than conventional.

I’ve learned one simply trick to cut down on the cost of our organic produce and it is as simple as this… if it has a peel, buy it conventionally.

Now of course, if you can afford to buy all organic, that is wonderful and I most definitely encourage it… however if you can’t, well, take heart! You see, if something has a peel (think bananas or cucumbers), then the peel can be thoroughly washed and then removed. Although research shows that pesticides can seep through the skin or peel of a piece of produce, some of them can be removed by simply washing and removing the skin/peel.

Like I said, ideally we would all be eating organic food, however I would much rather be using my money to buy organic broccoli and strawberries considering their porous nature. Since these foods cannot have their pesticides washed away and removed so easily, it is much more impactful to make sure that these are the foods that are being focused on when buying organic.

Where it all began…

He is here! Our bundle of joy has arrived and is changing our world by the second. Although I am currently taking some time away from my computer, I wanted to share with you guys (in the next dew posts) about everything that took place behind the scenes of this pregnancy.

It all started in Mexico, specifically on our honeymoon. You know the one we took in which we literally got hit by a hurricane. Ok, so maybe this is a bit missleading… we didn’t actually conceive our precious baby in Mexico but something else VERY substantial happened on that trip.

Let me back track for a moment and tell you that I grew up with a very large and loving family… I spent most of my childhood growing up with my cousins, aunts, uncle and grandparents. We spent holidays together, went to school with one another, stood up in each others weddings and considered each other our best friends. The cornerstone to our brood was most definitely my grandfather. There literally is not a single person on this earth who could utter a sour word about this man. He was hard working, loyal, kind and loving. As a young girl, I would go over my grandparents and we (the cousins) would fight to sit on his lap, brush his hair and look with amazement at his massive hands, or mits as many called them, to see if there was anything that he couldn’t hold. There wasn’t… he could hold babies, softballs, large piles of candy and so much more in his hands with such ease.

We loved out grandfather and knew how lucky we were to have him. We also knew how much he loved us which was what made him passing away in 2005 so difficult for all of my family members. We trully mourned the loss of our dear grandfather, but in the same moment knew we were the luckiest people in the world to have him for as long as we did.

I remember after he passed away hearing my siblings and cousins speak about the dreams they had in which my grandfather would show up, say things to them that they needed to hear, hug them when they needed it most and just be for a moment the grandpa he was for us here on earth. For years, I lived with envy over the fact that I never dreamt about him. I wanted to, I wanted to have that moment or that memory of him being in my life for a moment. But it just didn’t happen.

Fast forward to me being engaged, and I had a dream about my grandpa. It only lasted about 30 seconds and my grandpa just simply thanked me for living with and spending my life with my grandma, his wife. I shared with much joy the dream that I had with my mom and life went on.

12 months later or so, the night before the big hurricane in Mexico and another dream came about. This dream was sooooooo long, it was detailed, involved so many people and I woke up feeling as if it was real and not a dream. I know many people talk about having dreams like this, but unless you have one, unless you have truly considered that for a few moments you were actually transported into some other world in which life exists in ways you never imagined, well unless you’ve been there you just don’t “get” this feeling I’m talking about.

Anyways, this long and detailed dream shook me in a very good way. It gave me great peace about this storm we kept hearing about and I shared with joy this dream to my husband. The thing about this dream though, was that in it, my grandfather was holding this sweet little boy, maybe 9 months old or so, and was telling me that it was my little boy. He had the sweetest eyes, soft light brown wavy hair, the most perfect kissable lips and sat with such ease in the lap of his great-grandfather. All was right in their and my world and as I awoke from the dream I beamed with joy.

Now here is the funny thing about this dream… when I told my husband about it, I referred to this little boy as the little one we would some day adopt. You see, my husband and I didn’t plan on having children for at least 1.5/2 years and the larger desire of our heart was to adopt a few children.

Oh the plans the big guy upstairs had for our life… Fast forward about 6 weeks later and their I was standing in the isle of CVS picking through pregnancy tests. Truth be told, we didn’t just buy one, but we bought FIVE pregnancy tests. My husband insisted (because we were actually trying to not have a baby) that we buy different brands and styles because he refused to put all of our hope in just one test/brand/style.

Twenty minutes later, as well as all five tests, and the reality was setting in that we were very much so on our way to becoming parents. And as quickly as those tests showed those very dark two lines, that dream I had in Mexico came flooding back. 

From that moment on, I was convinced that I was having a perfect little boy and that he was in the care of my amazing grandfather until he arrived here on earth.

And within weeks, the commuting started! But that is for next time… Next Friday in fact!

Eat To Live

While I am taking some time to enjoy being a new mom, I asked a few friends to step in and share with you a little bit about their journey when it comes to their health. I am so excited for you to hear about all of the different ways women are taking control of their health and thriving in our not so healthy world.

Today I would like you to meet Lisa. I have known her for many, many years and she truly is a wonderful and beautiful woman inside and out. About a year ago I started noticing her post on pinterest some vegan articles, recipes and blog posts. Because she didn’t fill her facebook news feed with stories of how she was transitioning into become a vegetarian and now vegan, I had no idea she was making such a huge change in her diet. When I was thinking of women to ask to guest blog, this was the real reason why I chose her. It is obvious that the changes she has made in her lifestyle and diet are genuinely for her and nothing else.

So please sit back, sip on something delicious and hear all about Lisa and her wonderful journey to better health. I know that I have learned so much from her whether or not she even realizes it and I’m positive you will too!

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Eat To Live

My Journey to (mostly) vegan-ness Hello!! I am super excited that Leah has asked me to share a bit of my personal journey with you! Like most Americans, I used to live off meat and dairy with little fruit or veggies in my day. Eating a big salad, covered with ranch and cheese was my idea of healthy! Though I have always valued home cooking and vowed I would provide this for my family, it wasn’t always as healthy as it could be. Not as bad as a box but no where near the goodness of clean eating.

Over the past couple years, my thinking about food has radically changed. I’ve always been interested in healthy foods, but it wasn’t until I started having some minor health issues that I decided to take some action. After having a baby and going from a full time job to working part time from my home, I had packed on 50 extra pounds that I just couldn’t drop. A couple years later, I started experiencing random heart palpitations that lasted for several months (Yes, I did see a doctor). My blood pressure had always been good, but high blood pressure does run in my family so that was another concern of mine. With the extra weight and now some health concerns, this was the incentive I needed to get serious and really start caring about what I put in my body as well as what I fed my family.

On the recommendation of my sister, I picked up the book “Eat to Live” by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I won’t get into much detail about his plan, but he coined the term “Nutritarian”, which in his words is a “diet which is a way of eating that bases food choices on maximizing the micronutrients per calorie” (https://www.drfuhrman.com). To me, he is a wealth of knowledge and I highly recommend picking up this book. I was so interested in the facts and statistics he shared, that I could not put it down! It literally transformed my way of thinking. He believes that a whole food plant based diet eliminating virtually all animal products and greatly reducing the amount of oil we use, is the healthiest way of eating. His plan really worked for me and amazingly, after I started consuming plants and eliminated animal products, the heart palpitations went away! In addition, my skin started to glow, I had more energy than had in years, and I dropped 35 pounds within a few months! On this journey, I realized that for me, a mostly vegan, plant based whole food lifestyle suits me best. In my opinion, it is the healthiest way of eating and I find it inspiring and challenging to come up with creative ways of cooking foods that aren’t typical in the Standard American Diet. Although I have personal convictions about animal treatment in the food industry, this way of eating is strictly based on personal choice when it comes to my health and not for any other reason. With that being said, I do still prepare animal based foods for my family (from responsible sources), but through my journey, my family has started eating much healthier as well as including many raw and cooked veggies and fruits.

Thank you for taking time to read my story. My hope is that other regular, every-day women like me who struggle with similar issues might be inspired to take steps to better health! You deserve it and so does your family!! You may have to re-train your brain and your taste buds, but believe me, once you start eating fresh living plant based food, you will start to crave it!!

About Lisa:

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  • I’m left handed.
  • I’m a Michigan native, born and raised but living in Tampa fl.
  • My favorite food: Give me grape leaves, hummus, falafel and fattoush salad and i am the happiest girl in the world!