Tuesday, May 29, 2012

creature of change

you know how some people are creatures of habit?  they like to have a set schedule that they follow everyday.  they find the most efficient way to do something and then continue to do it that exact way EVERY time.  they order the same thing at restaurants.  they put their keys in the same place when they walk in the door.  they find something they love doing and then do it forever.

i am not a creature of habit.  
never have been.  never will be.

all of my days look different {i hope this isn't completely scarring my children for life}.  
i never run the same route in my neighborhood {thankfully it's big and has a golf course so there are lots of options}.  
i rarely cook the same meal twice {i know this is ridiculous and creates way more work for me but i can't stop trying new things...and pinterest is not helping matters}.
i don't ever buy movies because i would rather watch something i've never seen before {clearly my children are not of this mindset since 'how to train your dragon' has been viewed 50 times in our house}.
i have at least a dozen projects going on in my house right now {i'm so good at starting things...it's the finishing that gets me}.
and finally...to completely prove my point...
i never know where my keys are.

there is so much value to being a creature of habit.  thankfully for our family - my husband has some of that in him {just watch him the next time he pops his trunk to load or unload at the golf course...everything has it's place and it's set order for putting it there...even down to the perfectly bunny-ear tied golf shoes...and he always knows where his keys are}.  it's endearing...really.

but...i, on the other hand, really get excited about anything 'new' and 'different'.  i have a list a mile long of skills i'd like to learn, places i'd like to go, people i'd like to meet, and recipes i'd like to try.  i think it has to do with creativity and being able to step outside of the box.  but i also have to be careful that it does NOT have something to do with running away.

here's what i mean...
there was once a time in my life that whenever i felt like i had royally messed something up i would feel the need to leave it behind as fast as i could and start all over again.  i applied this to small things {like a painting project gone wrong} and big things {like my marriage}.  if i didn't return a friend's call within a couple of months i cut ties...figured i had failed as a friend and they probably didn't want to have anything to do with me anyway...it would be easier to move forward than to look back and try to fix something that seemed damaged.  i could not give myself permission to mess something up and then try to go back and make it right.  my garage {and sadly, my life} are full of half-finished projects that i abandoned when i faced my own failure in creating something good...something worth keeping.  

as i type those words i shudder...
half-finished projects abandoned
failure to create something good out of something damaged
what if my God took this posture with me?  what if he looked at the life he created in me and saw all the broken places and rather than walk through the grueling and tedious process of picking up the pieces and putting them back together he just left me behind?  i shudder.
during that time in my life i was really just a prideful coward.  i am so thankful my God is not.  he is a God of order {like my husband} but he is also a God of redemption and of grace...and going into those places gets messy.  my God is not afraid to get messy.  the work he has done in my life is proof of that.  and he has taught me that my love of change and 'new things' can be applied in the messy places of life...that's where he's led me...to take my gifts and use them in the dark and dirty trenches that people find themselves in every day.  

for a while i thought that my constant desire for new things was dysfunctional and weird.  i've learned that i am partly dysfunctional and weird but being a 'creature of change' is not entirely a bad thing.  {as long as i can avoid the running away part.}   

twelve years ago when i asked jesus to take my life and make it about Him, and not me, he gave me the very first of many verses that he has so lovingly crafted for specific seasons of my life {have you noticed him doing that for you too...giving you the words you need...when you need them?}

at that time in my life i needed to know that he had made me new.  i wasn't the one that was bringing newness into my life by starting another project or walking away from something gone wrong.  he brought the new.  and he brought it right in the middle of the mess.  he taught me that projects {and people} don't have to be abandoned when they don't turn out perfectly.  newness can come right in the midst of dirty, ugly, and broken.  and when newness comes at a time like that the end result is so much more beautiful than anything we could have ever created on our own.

and you know what's so incredibly cool?  i read in the bible that our spirits are being renewed every day.  and our God is so faithful that his mercies are new every morning.  and perhaps one of my favorite promises of all {recorded by the prophet isaiah}...

our God is a God who embraces change...he is the God of 'new' and i'm so thankful he created me to share that trait with him.  his ever-flowing rivers wash over this dry heart of mine and make it new...every day.

sorry about the long post...can you tell that i have been itching to do some 'real' writing lately?

how about you - creature of change or creature of habit?  and how are you making that work for you?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

the one who made me a mama

'three' is over and done...so much i'm glad to be past, yet more i want to hold onto.  
{one year ago today}
the traces of baby in that face are gone now...replaced with a girl.  and so we step into 'four' wide-eyed and ready to see where this year will take us.
lucy...the child i cut my teeth on.  i sometimes fear the scars she has to prove it.  the cutting…the puncturing of her heart as i parented her inadequately…through trial and error…taking my first shot at this thing called motherhood.  the one whose arrival marked the moment i officially became a parent…in whose sweet face i finally began to face much of my own deep-rooted sin.  i battled the anger at myself because of what i saw...reflections of the rough places within me.  there were moments it seeped out to her.  i pray she will forget those...remembering instead all the times i cherished her...stood in awe of her presence in my life.  the child who i set out to teach, but who instead has taught me…who has shed LIGHT in dark corners of my heart. 

when i named my children the meaning of their names were important to me.   i wanted to bless them in the naming.  i thought perhaps i was speaking something into their lives…giving them some bit of goodness that they would carry and share with the world around them.  i didn’t know all the ways that their names would bless me…would define the ways that they shaped my own life.  
lucy - shining light into the darkest corners of my heart...the difficulty and freedom in what was found there.  oliver - who arrived in the midst of my difficult discoveries bringing peace to my battered and bruised spirit…the hard-fought healing that they have brought into this world for me. 
and so today i celebrate my girl.  to know her is to love her…truly.  let me tell you why…
she loves dressing like a princess and digging in the dirt.  
she is a songwriter.
she has started this lovely habit of humming sweetly to herself when she is nervous or upset.  
she makes her little brother laugh.  
her spirit has a wildness that i could never tame {and so i'm learning to embrace it...direct it...}.   
she is a story-teller.  
she occasionally allows me the rare privilege of curling her up in my arms.  
her memory is like a steel trap.  
she asks me every night when I tuck her in if we can play and laugh together {this = laying down next to each other making silly faces and giving eskimo kisses}.  
she loves people.  
she does dramatic reenactments of movie scenes all by herself {and occasionally with her brother debuting in a role such as 'donkey' from shrek}.
her prayers are full of thanksgiving and concern for others.
she makes friends within 60 seconds of meeting someone on the playground.  
she likes drinking water.  
she believes.
she pronounces her ‘L’s like ‘Y's so she calls herself ‘yucy’.  
she has an imagination that can take you anywhere.  
she's a rhyming rockstar that could put ice cube to shame.  
her eyes say a million things that words could never express...and invite me to dive into their depths whenever i catch their gaze. 

{my lucy...my light}
:: happy birthday to my girl ::

what do you love about lucy?

God :: i pray a blessing of kindness over lucy.  i pray that over this year she would learn to resist the temptation to repay evil for evil and instead treat others with kindness and compassion {1 thessalonians 5:15}.   tie this virtue around her neck {psalm 3:3}.  may she sense the depth of the rich and undeserved kindness you offer her and hold those same gifts out to others {ephesians 1:7}.  i pray that she would find that same kindness in me...lavished on her.

Monday, May 14, 2012

our rainy day rundown {and how to get your kids to eat healthy!}

before i entertain you with our rainy day shenanigans i wanted to reveal a little secret that i alluded to on a post last week.  here's how i've been getting my kids to eat healthier...

they don't have a choice

ok...that is partly true BUT...i know that as they grow up they will have a choice as to what they put into their bodies so rather than tying them to a chair and forcing wheat grass down their throat or 'sneaking' spinach into their smoothies i am choosing to
be completely honest
{there's a novel idea, huh?}
here's what that looks like...
oliver:  mommy, can i have fruit snacks {or marshmallows or dora yogurt or whatever other gross, artificial, over-processed junk i was feeding them a month ago}?  
me:  no buddy.  we don't have any fruit snacks.  mommy is learning all about the foods that are good for us and the foods that are not good for us.  fruit snacks don't help you grow and get stronger.  let's find something that is yummy and healthy.  how about a banana?
oliver:  will it make me strong like daddy.
me: yep buddy...it sure will.
oliver: ok mommy.

{see how easy that was?  now watch how i switch things up a bit for the other one.}

lucy:  mommy are there carrots in this sauce?
me:  yes honey there are.  remember your body loves carrots and they make you grow even taller.  and remember how you love rapunzel's hair?
lucy:  will the carrots make my hair grow like rapunzel's?!?!
me:  you bet babe!  i can already see those curls getting longer and more beautiful!
lucy:  can i have some more mommy?

ok...i will admit it's not always that easy but i am being completely honest when i say that my kids have bought into our new way of eating WAY better than i ever dreamed they would.  i made a decision that this was what we were going to do because i believe it is best for our family.  i let the kids know about it.  i am educating them as i educate myself.  and they are totally into it.  i'm serious.  we 100% do have conversations like the ones i just mentioned on a daily basis.  we also have instances {like last night with the minuscule piece of broccoli that was on lucy's plate} when someone makes a gagging sound.  that's ok.  they don't have to like everything right now...this is a process.  

there are certain things that motivate my kids.  for oliver...he wants to be strong and able to smack a golf ball like his daddy.  for lucy...it's all about the rapunzel hair.  and for both of them...positive reinforcement and feeling like that are a part of something mommy is doing goes a loooong way.  figure out what motivates your kids and work it!

here's what healthy eating looks like in our house on this rainy day...
chocolate pudding face!

licking that bowl clean!

who knew a delicious dessert could be this healthy?!
i found our healthy chocolate pudding recipe HERE {don't be scared of the avocados and dates...it is seriously so yummy!}.  i did use dark chocolate for mine.

i was also feeling inspired by one of my birthday gifts - a tortilla press from my mom {don't you love it when people support you in your healthy eating habits?!}.  so i followed the easiest recipe ever and made homemade corn tortillas.  this is so simple and something the kids can actually help with {you can use a rolling pin or your hands if you don't have a tortilla press}.  you can find all of these recipes and more on my healthy home pinboard.

i sauteed some leftover squash, zucchini, black beans and onion for mine.  spread a little bit of TJ's spicy bean dip on my hot tortilla.  tossed on the veggies and topped it off with a little dab of sour cream...delicious!

all this healthy eating provided us with plenty of energy to try of first 'practice' day of homeschooling {it was a success...more to come on that!}...

and of course run around pretending to be superheros and princesses. 

{yes...oliver is wearing a sparkly purple cape and an apron...but he's still tough}

we even had time to put together our summer book list.  i printed out these sheets with the pictures of the books so that they kids can help find them when we go to the library.  
what have you been up to this rainy day {or sunny one...depending on where you might be}?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

every quiet place needs a wild

happy mother's day from one happy mama to another...

in a world of potty-training and lunchbox-packing, this book captures so beautifully the sacredness of the mother-child relationship.  it reminds me just how much we breathe life into one another...

Friday, May 11, 2012

friday faves :: birthday surprise!

i kid you not...just as i was about to hit 'publish' on yesterday's post about how husbands can 'adore' their wives, my own precious husband walked in the door and told me to pack a bag.  a bag?  you mean like a lunch bag for the kids?  or a grocery bag for this weekend's food drive?  or are you referring to the bag filled with a poopy pull-up that's hanging on the garage door...sorry...meant to take that out to the garbage.

no...he meant an overnight bag filled with whatever i would need for him to whisk me away for the night.
somebody...pinch me...am i dreaming?

i would like to say that i was immediately excited but my first thoughts went something like this...who is watching the kids?  how am i going to clean up this mess of a house in 15 minutes before they get here?  do i have food to leave for their dinner and breakfast?  when is the last time i washed those sheets on the guest room bed?  can you even get to the guest room bed with all the junk i've been piling in there?

wait...i'm going away with my husband for the night??  he's got someone to take care of the kids??  who cares about the rest...let's go!!
i can not express to you what a gift this was to have a fun little getaway that required NO planning on my part.  all i had to do was pack my bag, hop in the car and enjoy myself...amazing.  

and not to make all you other guys look bad...but he already has mother's day brunch plans for us too...yeah - he's good.
{it was actually cool enough for breakfast by the fire this morning!}
i don't have a lot of pictures from this trip because my main objective was to relax and have a good time but you can check out my previous post about one of our favorite bed and breakfasts - kilburnie, the inn at craig farm or visit their website.  it is super convenient for anyone who lives in the charlotte area...and worth the drive {or flight} for anyone else!

joey's birthday is coming up in a few months...so i better get busy coming up with a special gift for him...got any ideas?  hmmm...maybe another trip to kilburnie.  what's the best birthday gift you've ever been given?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

what your wife really wants for mother's day

i'm going to keep today's post brief and unedited because it's my birthday and...well...quite honestly...i have better things to do.  {like take a nap or watch an old episode of 'brothers and sisters' or some other self-indulgent thing that i won't feel guilty doing}

this one is mainly for the guys.  and since i know there are not a lot of guys who actually read my blog...ladies - feel free to pass it along...

mother's day is only 3 days away...if this is the first you're hearing about it...well...that's sad.  but at least it's not too late to prevent this from happening...

if you're wondering what in the world your wife may want for mother's day let me spell it out for you...it's really pretty simple...


that's right.  your wife...the mother of your children...the one who does some unbelievable combination of the following things every day for your family - laundry, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, bill-paying, teaching, nurturing, biting her tongue, shopping for groceries, landscaping, praying, hoping, agonizing, forgiving, worrying, dreaming, planning...
that amazing woman would absolutely love for one day of the year to feel absolutely and completely adored.  

i'm not talking 'appreciated' {you should be doing that all the time}...i'm talking about you making her feel like when she walks in the room time stops for you and you gaze upon her with love and respect and awe as if she were the most important creature God ever created.
 {and ladies...on a side note...keep in mind that being adored requires you being adorable so make sure you consider that the next time you are about to lose it on one of your family members...i'm saying this for myself}

there are so many ways to generate this feeling for your wife.  i hope i'm not insulting your intelligence by laying it out a few specifics...i just want to make sure this mother's day is a success for you {and her!}.  so here are 3 ways that you can adore your wife this mother's day...
{1}  buy a card {or better yet - make your own} and rather than just signing your name, write down at least 5 things she does as a mother that you absolutely love.

{2} plan something...anything!  if other moms are anything like me - planning is our life.  every day is filled with decision after decision about what we will eat for dinner or what the kids will wear to school or what is the best way to get a dried up piece of a gummy vitamin off the leather couch or what gazillion things we need to pack up before walking out of the door...it's exhausting really.  
what a gift to have one day when you have things planned for you and your brain can actually take a rest. {note: wives - if your husband is so kind as to do this...be THANKFUL.  and don't question the plans he's made or how he is executing them. if you do - he may never plan anything again.}

{3} give her some time alone.  i'm serious.  yes... i know mother's day is all about celebrating the mothering that we do all year long.  i love being a mom...really...i do.  but the truth is - there is rarely a time that i can actually go to the bathroom without someone barging in to see 'what are you doing mommy?'  and sometimes i don't think i recognize my own thoughts because i haven't been able to hear them for days at a time.  alone time is rare when you're a mom.  and anything that is rare is precious.  being given permission to be alone is a precious gift...even if it's only for one hour.

so pick one or two...or do them all if you are an over-achiever!  and here's the cool thing...even if she already read this post and forwarded it on to you...it doesn't matter!  we don't care where you got the idea from.  we just appreciate your effort.  it doesn't have to be something original {but you may get bonus points for that!}.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

above all

have you ever done something and then later felt this heavy, hard, cold stone of regret hanging from your neck for having done it?

i felt that way this morning.  

i posted something on facebook in response to the debate over the marriage amendment that was just passed in north carolina.  
{btw - if you want to see the actual amendment click here.  it is surprisingly difficult to find it on-line.  i had to dig through all kinds of articles and commentaries about the bill before i could find the real thing.}  

my intention was not to stir up trouble or create division with my post but that's what seems to have happened.  i have my own personal convictions about the amendment and whether or not it should have passed but honestly i can see both sides of it.  maybe that makes me wishy-washy or someone who doesn't stand strong in her beliefs...but it's the truth.  

i will plant my feet in the ground and withstand stones thrown in my face to declare my belief in jesus as the lord and savior of my life...but there is grayness in other issues.  and i definitely don't claim to be a political scholar.  

the 'unsettled' feeling i had about all of this really wasn't so much about the fact that the law passed as it was about people's response {and in some cases...attacks} to those on the other side of the fence from them.

fox news published an article titled effect of nc gay marriage amendment unclear.

and i guess that's true...the effects are unclear.  the effects of any of our decisions are unclear. every day of my life i make decisions to the best of my ability and the outcome is sometimes great and other times disastrous.  but my God...who exists outside of space and time...knows every one of the these decisions before they are made.  he knows what they will lead to...good and bad.  and if we offer up our lives...and every decision they involve...he promises to weave together the ones filled with hope and the ones filled with regret to create something beautiful...something complete and redeemed.

today was 'muffins for mommies' day at my kids' preschool.  i got to sit down with each of them and have breakfast in their classrooms.  
i was presented with precious gifts.  i was hugged and kissed and had a poem recited to me.  i felt so loved.  
despite all the times we've disagreed.  despite all my shortcomings.  despite all my failures...i felt completely loved.  i want to love others that way too.

and so i make a public apology if i created any more division or hurt this morning and i pray that God's grace would replace dissension and hostility with harmony as we keep trying...to put on love...above all.

above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. ~ colossians 3:14

Monday, May 7, 2012

a tough day at the office

the tiny {yet very much anger-filled} words that i heard as i closed the door to his room were - 'you are NOT very nice.'  what i wanted to do was fling the door back open and yell - 'you think THAT'S not nice?  i'll SHOW you not nice!'
i kept walking down the hall instead.  kept walking down the stairs and right over to the barstool at my kitchen counter where i knew i would find some truth words.  something to stop the racing of my mind...the pulsing of my blood.
i let the satiny ribbon laid inside lead me to the page.  the wisdom of a gifted prophet, a disciple who knew what it meant to be loved, and a man with a blindingly beautiful story were all wrapped up for me in these words...

   do not long for the absence of problems in your life.  that is an unrealistic goal, since in this world you will have trouble.  you have an eternity of problem-free living reserved for you in heaven.  rejoice in that inheritance, which no one can take away from you.
   begin each day asking me to equip you for whatever difficulties you will encounter.  the best equipping is my living presence, my hand that never lets go of yours.  take a light-hearted view of trouble, seeing it as a challenge that you and i together can handle.  remember that i am on your side, and i have overcome the world.  

i spent my morning traipsing up and down stairs to time-out and back, doling out consequences for disobedience and then offering forgiveness, chasing a naked 3 year old around the front yard, and cleaning up food that had been flung across my kitchen.  

now they nap.  and i might just take one myself.

i don't have much energy left after a morning like that.  just like with any job...there are days when you have to put in extra effort and work overtime as a mama.  you don't get paid 'time and a half' you just get tired.

today has been one of those days.  it's been hard work.  it's been a heavy weight on this weary body but then...there it is...
a light-hearted view.

i know where to go when the weight is more than i can bear alone.  i trade my weakness for his strength.  my burdens for his gentle yoke.  my unkind thoughts for his life-giving words.
and suddenly it's like i just took a week's vacation without even leaving my house...and i'm ready to get back to work.
{and it's a good thing...cause they will be up in a couple of hours!}
now for that nap...

Friday, May 4, 2012

friday faves :: health food finds

if you've been keeping up around here you know that i am a girl on a mission...a mission to change the way my family eats.  i have been so encouraged by many of you who have the same pursuit.

i have much that i want to share with you but i am trying to pace myself.  i apologize that my last post was soooo long.  {you know how i get when i'm excited about something}

today i simply want to pass along some of my favorite new health food finds and a couple of new recipes that we are loving.

first, the food finds...
:: COCONUT OIL :: i have been reading a lot about the benefit of using coconut oil.  i decided to give it a try...so glad i did!  depending on the temperature in your kitchen your coconut oil may be in liquid or solid form when you grab it out of the cupboard.  either one is fine.  if you are baking with it i recommend making sure it is liquified {which you can easily do by measuring the correct amount into a microwave-dish and nuking it for several seconds}.  at this point i am not switching completely to coconut oil but i am using it in many dishes.
:: ALMOND BUTTER :: i have tried almond butter in the past but never bought any.  it is so yummy and the kids love it {especially on a ww pita with a little of uncle robert's honey}
:: CRUNCHMASTER CRACKERS :: these are yummy and healthy.  i picked mine up from earthfare.  i have been making a snack mix for the kids that includes - 
- these crackers
- raisins
- nuts {either pistachios or walnuts...my kids love both...i'm sure you could use almonds too}
that's it!  super easy and...they gobble it up!
:: BARLEY GRASS POWDER :: considered a 'superfood' and really easy to sneak into smoothies.  {see our new smoothie concoction below}  i ordered a big package of it from vitacost {along with some other goodies}.  if you are looking for an on-line retailer for health foods vitacost is a great place to start.  if you connect to vitacost via THIS LINK it will earn you {and me} $10 off our orders!  use my email - elizabeth.h.maxon@gmail.com - as the referrer.

and, finally, a few of our favorite recipes from this week...
{i used mostly organic ingredients...except for the bananas}

:: berry-butter smoothie ::
note: this makes enough for our family of 4
1 cup almond milk {plain}
1 cup apple juice
2-3 bananas
1 1/2 cups frozen berries {we used blueberries and strawberries...if you want to use fresh berries just add a few cubes of ice to the blender with them}
3/4 cup peanut butter or almond butter
{optional} 1-2 tablespoons barley grass powder
{optional} a handful of spinach
~toss it all in the blender and...well...blend!
{keep in mind that the 2 optional ingredients don't change the yummy flavor of the smoothie...so if you have them on hand...toss 'em in!}

:: quinoa-millet breakfast bowl ::
{don't be afraid of these words like i was!  
quinoa and millet are sooo easy to cook with and super healthy!}
place the following in a pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until water is absorbed...
1 cup quinoa
1 cup millet
4 cups water
dash of salt
you can keep this grain mixture in the fridge for a few days.  pull it out and add any of the following when you are ready for a yummy, healthy breakfast...
~fresh fruit {we like diced bananas} or dried fruit {like cranberries or raisins}
~nuts {we like walnuts}
~honey or maple syrup {we like both!}
~chia seeds 
~splash of milk {we love it with almond milk}
kid version and grown-up version
joey and i both really liked starting our day off with this one.  oliver devoured his too.  lucy, on the other hand, wasn't crazy about it.  i think it had something to do with the consistency.  luckily i had a good alternative for her.  lisa from 100 days of real food recommends corn puffs {as seen above} with milk and fruit as a simple and healthy breakfast option.  lucy loooooves that...so we were good.

:: super easy veggie tacos ::
kids version - only beans & cheese in taco with avocado on the side
grown-up version with a side of fresh organic raspberries {which are on sale at harris teeter right now}
{this is a variation of another suggested meal from 100 days}
chop up the following...
~orange or red pepper
~squash and/or zucchini
...saute' in coconut oil {or whatever you have on hand} for a few minutes
meanwhile - 
heat up frozen corn tortillas in a warm skillet {this is another of my favorite finds...you can get them in the freezer section at earthfare}
shred a cup of monterey jack cheese
and slice an avocado.
add a can of black beans {or another type of beans that you like} to the veggie mixture for the last minute or so of cooking.
spoon veggie mixture into tortilla, top with cheese and avocado and fold in half.  you're done!  enjoy!

more meals and a summary of our weekly eating {including total cost} coming soon!  in the meantime...please share your favorite healthy meals with us.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

happy home habits

note:  if you are currently in 'survival mode' {i.e. your life seems completely unmanageable like it is spinning out of control}...well...first of all - i am terribly sorry.  i have been there.  secondly, don't feel overwhelmed when you read the following post.  if i had read something like this a year ago i would have burst out crying knowing that i could never implement something this intense.  {it's not intense but when you're in survival mode these things seem a bit more daunting.}  by all means - read on.  and when you are finished just bookmark the page for a later date when you are in better spirits.  and in the meantime - you could read this.  on the other hand...if the season is right for you...i'd love to have you join me in this journey...
a few days ago my 2 1/2 year old asked for fruit snacks.  instantly my almost 4 year old responded, 'that's not a healthy choice buddy.'  
i'm serious.  
i'm not making that up.  
there was a half-full giant box of fruit snacks in our pantry, staring them in the face, and she somehow managed to get him to walk away and eat sliced apples with her instead.  amazing.

we are less than a week into our attempts at healthier eating habits.  and here's the deal...most people who know me would say that our family does eat pretty healthy food compared to a lot of families.  but i've stopped comparing to other families and started to focus completely on what is best for mine.  

it all started with my applesauce revolution and several hours of research.  i decided that we would try to cut out processed foods and eat whole foods instead.  i want to actually know what i am consuming.  a frozen pizza isn't just bread, tomatoes, and cheese...check the ingredients.  even seemingly harmless restaurants like panera and chick-fil-a {2 of my faves} have a few surprises when you start reading labels.  don't get me wrong...i'm not saying that i will NEVER eat at these places again.  i'm just saying that i want to educate myself on what i am actually putting in my mouth {and my kids' mouths} so that i can make sure the bulk of our diet is health food...not junk food.  and 'junk food' is being redefined for me.

please don't slap me for saying this but...
there is a down side to having a good metabolism
all my life i have been able to eat anything i want without it affecting my weight.  i have stayed within 3 pounds of the same weight since high school {minus that time i was carrying a baby in my belly}.  i know that some of you now hate me.  you are thinking that i should count myself fortunate not to have 'weight issues'...and i do.  but...skinny doesn't equal healthy.  
last year i was 'treating' myself to a gigantor sweet tea and fries from mcdonald's at least once a week.  i'm not kidding.  isn't that terrible?  that was part of the 'survival mode' i mentioned earlier.  anyway...that's not the only bad eating habit i've had or that i have exposed my children too {cringe cringe}.  

i've always enjoyed eating healthy foods but too often i have fallen into choosing convenience over what's really good for my body.  i started to feel the effects.  while my waistline stayed the same, internally the junk food was wreaking havoc on me.  i started experiencing terrible headaches {which i've never had before}, the constant urge to take a nap, and an overall sense of irritability.  at first i thought i had a brain tumor {i know...a little dramatic} but then a friend suggested that i cut out caffeine.  i did.  {and i still don't drink caffeine}  within 2 weeks my headaches stopped.  along with cutting caffeine i started to implement a few more healthy practices like drinking more water and reducing my sugar intake {major sacrifice for me and my sweet tooth...i used to have dessert after every meal...including breakfast!}.  i felt better and better.

so after taking a few baby steps toward a healthier lifestyle...i'm ready to go all in!  it's easy to get overwhelmed when you start to realize that probably around 75% of what is sold in the grocery store is 'junk' but i've decided that i will make one healthy choice at a time and keep moving forward. 

ok...before i give you a peek into what's going on around here let me say this...some of these practices we are implementing are not convenient.  yes - tossing your processed foods into your cart at the store and then into your kids' lunchboxes at home is way easier than actually making some of these things and finding a clean reusable container to put them in.  for me...it's worth the effort.  the way i see it - we are making a sacrifice both ways...we are either sacrificing our time our our family's health.  as a working mom of 2 whose husband is out of town a lot...i think it's totally doable and actually fun.  and because i'm eating healthier i have more energy to actually do this stuff!  but as you begin...be patient...with yourself and the process.

so...here's what we are doing so far...
:: replacing store-bought applesauce with homemade {we eat a lot of applesauce!}
:: replacing store-bought bread with homemade {or a yummy loaf from great harvest}.  i dusted off my bread machine about a month ago and have been making a delicious whole wheat flaxseed sandwich bread pretty regularly...a bread machine makes it so easy!

:: planning healthy meals a week at a time with the help of some awesome resources like 100 days of real food {all you have to do is 'like' her facebook page and you can download meal plans and other helpful resources!}
:: ridding our pantry of processed foods and replacing them with fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and items that include 5 ingredients or less.

:: eating at home more than we eat out

this is just the beginning of our healthy eating.  and the healthy eating is just the beginning of our new family initiative that i am calling happy home habits.  {i haven't told the rest of the family about this yet but i'm sure they will be on board...especially since i'm the captain of this ship}  more to come on all of that...

in the next day or two i will be posting about how i am getting my kids buy-in on this as well as the specific meal plan we are using this week.  before you know it we'll have your little ones choosing apples over fruit snacks too!

so...i'm wondering...
what are your healthy eating habits?
what are the biggest challenges to eating healthy?
let's encourage one another on this journey!