Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Above the clouds

I'm siting here on the airplane, 30,000 feet up on the air, getting farther away from my city, and it's got me thinking. 

Why do I spend so much time wanting a break, when the minute I arrived in the security line, I feel lonely?

What?! Are you crazy, Nora? You finally get away from the kids-- and to be alone with girlfriends for the first time in probably ten years, and you're missing them already? 

I guess so. Call me crazy, but when your life starts embedding in your children's lives more deeply with each passing year, I finally get what all those weepy-eyed college mothers are crying about.

When my kids were super little, I loved getting away. There was the time Travis and I ran away for three days to the Mexican beaches and I was so fed up with a one and a half and three year old, all I did for the whole car ride down there was eat almost an ENTIRE bag of Sunchips. Not fed up obviously, just delirious and hungry-- a bad combination when standing in a gas station. 

Now that they are (almost) out of toddlerhood, and with the advent of school years upon me, I am more tied in than I ever thought.

This is when it is time to detox. I'm not saying to run away from your children maliciously. Or to neglect your duties or ignore your children's physical or emotional needs. I just agree with many other smarter old school mothers: I have to take care of myself.

This is a concept discussed with much more eloquence by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her book Gift from the Sea. She writes how important it is to create creative and emotional space for ourselves as women, because we get tied up in being caregivers.

I think we all need time, extended time, away from those we love as caregivers. It will honestly take me several days to detox from mom and wife mode and the distracting thoughts about dishwashers needing to be unloaded or to find that missing pacifier. I have to choose to distance myself, not by disconnecting or stop caring, but by getting away from the essential, well known belief women all have that it's all up to me.

When we get away, we know that no vegetables will be eaten, the floors won't be clean, the laundry bins will overflow and something WILL get lost or broken.

But in our love to be central to our households, we can sometime forget the freedom found in letting go. 

It would have happened anyways: the laundry and cleaning will never cease. Food will spoil in the dark recesses of the fridge to the best of us. Tears will be shed anyways.

We're important but also important as an individual. Caring about yourself, specifically, your own soul, mind and body isn't wrong. It's a good thing for both you and the ones you are entrusting to others.

I feel this way every morning I put a little sweet kindergartner on the bus. I have to 'entrust their souls to God while doing good'.

A great speaker at our church said it well:  faith is believing in character as much as capabilities. On a deeper level, I have to trust other caretakers that they are reliable in character as well as capabilities.

We would like to think that the kids will really miss us (most likely our spouses will after they spend a weekend or afternoon fending for it on their own), but we will probably miss them more. It is good for children to learn that the universe does not revolve around Mom either. Dads can really use the time alone, without us disturbing their mojo with interjections and 'that's not the way we usually do it' commentary. 

So, here's from the flight deck: fasten your safety belts and take off-- take off for an hour: don't worry about your kids or think about how if you're not there present with them, that you are disappointing them. For full-time moms as well as full-time working moms this helps us survive as well as spend our emotional energy wisely. Taking time off also helps us to recharge our capacity for helping them through life and crazy heart emotions. Getting away helps us use other parts of our brains, including strategic and creative centers.

Friends, when was the last time you got away?? I'm just going to try not to text my husband reminders of a million details this weekend for starters :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

To a real friend...

Do you have THAT wonderful friend? Mine is the kind that would make me Pinterest worthy lunches just because. She loves my kids almost more than I do. She always answers the phone in a crisis moment. And she is a smokin' hot wife to her husband that puts my love language to shame. Put it this way: she inspires me.

It's her 30th birthday and I am off flying off this weekend to celebrate. I'm so excited!

First of all, she's totally worth it. And, second, o. my. goodness. I am leaving my family behind for five whole days! Yes, it's another beach vacation (which, if you've been paying attention, is like the seventh beach trip this year) but more so, it's about quality time with some awesome women.

Do you have THAT friend? What makes elevates a normal friend to that upper status? All I know is that I sure learn alot from her-- she's the kind that tells me I'm crazy, or overreacting, or both. The truth is we all need someone like that in our life. Someone that can see us from the outside (not inside a family) and tell us the bracing, unabashed truth.

I think it's what is called fellowship.

Have you found that? Do you seek it out?

True fellowship sure takes a lot of work and it isn't for the faint of heart, because it involves lots of driving back and forth, late nights, lots of money, talking on the phone again to talk about that one thing over and over again, rescuing them from their own children, loving sacrificially, and letting them borrow your clothes (or their husband borrowing your husband's clothes-- shhh! don't tell them we did that!) along with a million cups of coffee and other, shall we say, sustaining beverages.

So, this is a homage to my friend. I never knew that someone could be closer than a sister. She proved me wrong, and I am so grateful, because I am so much of a better person. I am so excited to not even pretend to be a skinny as her (lucky!) and do what we do best: enjoy good food, drink calorie-laden mochas and keep on talking.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

If they put it on Amazon...

It must be real.

My (third) child has arrived. My friend just told me she preordered it. She should get a prize or something for being the first one to order it, right??

You can see it here, too.

It is our book: The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Outside-the-Box Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home.

It's due out sometime this spring officially, February 1, but, if you're crazy, like she and probably my Mom are, you can pre-order it here:

Friday, September 06, 2013

Competition, Bylaws and Negotiation: How Business Principles Apply To School Lunches

As you know, my daughter just entered Kindergarten this week. As a mom, and as a dietitian, I worry about her: not just her emotional well-being, and her fears, but her physical health too. Thus enters the lunch competition.

Their are a million blog posts out there about packing healthy lunches for your kids. Just like most mommy topics, plenty of amazing ideas can instantly trigger the 'm-sending-my-kid-with-Cheetos-shame and subsequent guilt.

Here's the truth: stop feeling guilty. It's not too late to make a plan and gain some ground.

But here's a more important truth: you have limitations and so do your kids. Maybe, your five year old won't eat organic sunbutter (here) or doesn't like nitrate free lunch meat (here again). Not to mention that not everyone has the time or energy to create gorgeous, organic bento box and flower shaped cutout fruit bowls.

I am blogging this in real time. My kids ate eggs for breakfast, but Kate just refused to drink a honey sweetened fruit smoothie. Blast. She's getting dehydrated at school and, ahem, you moms know what that means for their bowels. 

Challenges. They're real. Especially when it comes to kids and healthy foods. They're picky, they're forgetful, their distracted, and then, to top it all off you are competing with the cafeteria, aka the magical kitchen where they can get pizza, nuggets and everything else theywould  rather eat anyways.

Sure, K will eat salad and broccoli, where G will have none of it, but the comparison between my lunch and that lunch in the cafeteria is just a world of difference in their minds. Moms, they just plain want that other choice more.

Here's some tips: 

1. Let them choose some of what they want for lunch. Getting them involved will create buy-in, that thing every mom should know: marketing strategies must be applied to children so they want the food.

2. Create ground rules. Don't be manipulated by school-aged children. Just like you don't give them the option of brushing their teeth, enforce some healthy guidelines for that child and stick to your by laws aka drinking water instead of soda.

3. Bend the rules occasionally. The worst thing we can do for our children is to create a black and white world that doesn't exist in the real world. Live (yourself included) in the 80/20. Do the right thing 80% of the time so you can break out of the box 20% of the time. This is called negotiation, a very powerful tool when you wield the power, not them.

Last night we were having a crisis of grand proportion at the dinner table. K was crying hysterically that her enchilada filling (usually her favorite meal) was falling out of the tortilla. And G was crying because he wasn't hungry and refused to eat any more than one bite of both that and the side of cantaloupe  Wow. A new low. So, after we had our requisite two bites, I pulled Kate aside and told her Here, eat this piece of chocolate, and that I told her extra snuggle hugs and a piece of chocolate fix most problems. Boom. World crisis averted. Break the rules sometimes, moms, and get over it if they don't eat all the right food groups yet. Persistence will eventually win them over from the dark, I mean, junk side.

Finally, just give yourself a pat on the back for surviving the first week of school lunches and have a piece of chocolate.


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

First first.

The first first of many. We put Kate on the bus a few minutes ago for her first day of kindergarten. Although it is exciting to start a new adventure together, it is really hard to say goodbye. I was totally surprised by the tears that leaked out of the corners of my eyes as I smiled and waved.  She was very excited for the last few weeks, but a couple of nights ago, I think the reality sunk in for her too. She was going to be gone all day. All day. This isn't camp, or vacation bible school, but this is leaving her home life for something much bigger and much longer. She's usually a brave girl, not afraid of new people or places or experiences. But I could tell, for us both, that we were sad to leave each other. The bond that we've spent five years making is stretched with new distance. She has spent the time looking at the world through my eyes and now she will have new experiences that I will only see through her beautiful, blue eyes. I love you girl.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013


That's what Grant called them until a few days ago. So sad that he is losing his baby talk and exchanging all words ending in "-nie" for words like "memoirs" (The Pooh Movie). Sniff.

It is our practice run week for school. K is in camp, going to a "Hop into Kindergarten" week every morning, so that we can practice getting ready and out the door for real school. Its the third day and she said to me this morning, "Mom, I don't really want to go away from you."

Double sniff.

That what you call a "muffin morning". When we woke up, it was low 60's outside too, so it really was a perfect cooler morning to try these muffins and heat up the kitchen with the warm smell of bananas, spices and oats.

 Here's a gluten-free recipe for you to try: Banana Oat Spice Muffins.

Banana Oat Spice Muffins.

1.5 cups gluten free flour (trader joes)
1.5 cups quick steel cut oats, whirred in the food processor for 2 minutes
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fine sea salt

1 1/3 cups brown sugar
1/3 cup oil
2 eggs
1.5 rip bananas

1/4 cup buttermilk (I used kefir :)
Salted, shelled sunflower seeds (opt) for garnish

In a stand mixer bowl, beat wet ingredients (except buttermilk) until thoroughly combined, about 2 minutes, until bananas are broken down evenly into other ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flours and other dry ingredients. 

Add dry ingredients all at once to the wet ingredients, mix on low speeds, then add buttermilk, until ingredients are just combined.

Let stand for one hour or overnight in the refrigerator.

Scoop into standard muffin tins. Sprinkle with seeds if desired.
Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on edges and firm to touch on top.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to school

I am trying to get prepared for a very busy fall. We head to our (last) beach trip the week after next and then it's back to school. Since I have a kindergartner and a preschooler this year, I have to make take-and-go lunches for the first time since I was in highschool.

One food challenge is new to me: the "nut-free" dilemma. Fortunately, with my background as a dietitian, I have some experience with this topic. That doesn't mean that it is easy to apply. Especially when you add two peanut-butter addicts to the mix.

When I asked K why she likes peanut butter so much, she said, "Because it's thick. It's salty. And it's crunchy.And it makes me feel good."

Enough said.

It's all this guy's fault: meet D, the man who eats peanut butter every day. I think my dad put a genetic code into our bodies to love the stuff. It might be a little thick to run like blood through our bodies, but with the amounts that my collective family eats, it might as well.

Alas, this causes a slight problem for school aged children in my household. Fortunately, for K, she can have nuts in her lunch, just not in her snack. Here's a list of lunch ideas I came up with to post on my fridge  (note: K doesn't like most cheese, so that creates additional obvious eliminations) so that I know what to do on coming morning rush moments...

Friday, July 19, 2013


Is there anything too hard for The Lord? Genesis 18

Recently, there was this moment where I panicked. It was like someone plucked a string deep, down and low. It sent old feelings vibrating through me like the twang of an off-key string. Discouragement and thoughts started to surface like, "Are we really going to make it?"

With our move to the East Coast, we live in an area with a very different vibe from Maricopa County, Arizona. There's a lot of pressure to be something, to get somewhere, to have some nice things. Sure, those pressures would be there inside of us even if we were not surrounded by Capitol fervor. But I think Washingtonians define success a little differently. In our book, we call it the pressure to be "The". 

The Political.
The Lady.
And for me, and my husband, we find ourselves easily slipping into the pressure to be "The Young Couple." We so want to be doing great things for The Lord and to be able to live generous, fruitful lives.

And we have setbacks. Needs arise. People you care to help. And so, "The" plan, changes. It's easy to sit comfortably in ease and splendor, with great confidence, when life is going according to plan. Life has another soundtrack, though. It has one hit wonders, happy jingles and symphonic moments, sure, but it also has a lot of dissonance and chaos. What we need to hear most in those moments is the promise that nothing is too hard for The Lord. 

Did you catch the title of the post? Hard is also wonderful. In other translations, the general sense of this phrase can also mean Is anything too wonderful for The Lord?

Do you feel up against the odds? Feel left out? Like you will never catch up?  It's the moments when the toys all over the floor again ten minutes after you've cleaned them up, and someone decided it was a great idea to try crushing Cheezits into the carpet, and you have to make dinner from scratch again to save money, that you have to give yourself a pep talk,

I am doing something worth it.
Nothing is too hard.
Underneath are the everlasting arms.
He is making me strong.

It is lie that all the time we have to be "The" woman: a modern superwoman. Admitting weakness is hard, but it can also be wonderful. Let's try and look to the most important "The": our Lord and Savior. We can start by moving away from the hurt, pain or fear towards hearing His voice and putting Him first in our thoughts, emotions and actions.


Monday, July 08, 2013


My sister passed this along to me this morning. I am pretty impatient when it comes to waiting for my plans (or dreams) to come true.

Hoping this encourages you this morning.

Vision And Reality

Utmost for His Highest
July 6, 2013
And the parched ground shall become a pool. — Isaiah 35:7
We always have visions, before a thing is made real. When we realize that although the vision is real, it is not real in us, then is the time that Satan comes in with his temptations, and we are apt to say it is no use to go on. Instead of the vision becoming real, there has come the valley of humiliation.
"Life is not as idle ore,
But iron dug from central gloom,
And batter’d by the shocks of doom
To shape and use."

God gives us the vision, then He takes us down to the valley to batter us into the shape of the vision, and it is in the valley that so many of us faint and give way. Every vision will be made real if we will have patience. Think of the enormous leisure of God! He is never in a hurry. We are always in such a frantic hurry. In the light of the glory of the vision we go forth to do things, but the vision is not real in us yet; and God has to take us into the valley, and put us through fires and floods to batter us into shape, until we get to the place where He can trust us with the veritable reality. Ever since we had the vision God has been at work, getting us into the shape of the ideal, and over and over again we escape from His hand and try to batter ourselves into our own shape.
The vision is not a castle in the air, but a vision of what God wants you to be. Let Him put you on His wheel and whirl you as He likes, and as sure as God is God and you are you, you will turn out exactly in accordance with the vision. Don’t lose heart in the process. If you have ever had the vision of God, you may try as you like to be satisfied on a lower level, but God will never let you.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Gaining and Losing

Have you ever stepped on the scale and wondered, "O MY GOODNESS! How did I just gain like five pound in a week?" We all worry about it, but especially with vacation season here, we've worried our way up until the moment we leave about how we are going to look in our bathing suit, only to worry about what the scale says about us when we get back.

Here's the rock bottom truth: We all gain weight. We all lose weight, too.
Let's not forget that a number is never finite. That means that the number that you see on the scale after the beach or the trip is not always reflective of how you ate a whole bag of Sunchips in the car on the way to the beach (done that) and had a huge handful of M&M's until the bag was empty (oops, me too).

First of all, travel always disrupts our gut and our fluid status. That means that the traveling part slows our bowels down, and then all the sitting causes us to retain fluid. Then, we eat all sorts of "treats" which are usually higher in fat and sugar-- whether it's the soda on the beach or the glass of wine at night, not to mention all the extra snacks and desserts. 

I  am always shocked when I get back on the scale after vacation. But I have to tell myself. Do. not. panic. I don't need to diet. I need to get back to what is called "mindful eating". Small weight changes or fluctuations in weight do not need to set us off on a crash diet. Most of us just need to return to our healthier habits and normal physical activities, ones that do not include lounging around like a slug in the sun slurping up every calorie laden beverage in sight...

After listening to a great webinar about mindful eating, I really liked how the speaker made her principles easy to remember and full of sound, non-panicky, wisdom:

1) Eat with INTENTION.

2) Eat with ATTENTION.

After thinking about it for a few minutes, I usually know exactly what I need to do to get back on track. First, I start choosing my food very carefully if I'm up a few pounds. Or, if I've been really busy and I've been on survival mode, I pay more attention to what foods taste like, chewing more slowly and carefully, sitting down for meals, and paying more attention to the food I'm used to inhaling. Both strategies work to manage that weight as we gain and lose in the natural flow of life.

How are you doing managing your ups and downs? Any strategies you find really helpful? I'd love to hear them!


Monday, July 01, 2013

Lean In and Watch.

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.
Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
Psalm 5:1-3
I remember reading Psalm 1 as a child, memorizing the words as I rode in the backseat on the way to school with Jon Ward and his brothers. As I grew up, I would read it again, and then skim over the next 22 Psalms until I got to Psalm 23. I just didn't understand what all that groaning and crying was about.

Now I get it what those Psalms about pain were saying in between those two bookends of Christian prose. Life has a way of educating you about pain quickly.

Have you ever waited for something that you really wanted? Do you ever long for that thing to change? Are you on the edge of your soul, desperate for it to happen?

I am. As a wife and a mother, I am not only want things for myself, but there are those around me I am praying for that God would answer as well.  Another translation for that phrase "prepare a sacrifice for you and watch" i s "direct our prayer to you." In the HCSB Study Bible, it says, "at daybreak I plead my case to You and watch expectantly." 

When I really want something I don't have (and I am not just talking about wanting this beautiful new couch), I have to remind myself of two truths:

First, God listens.
Second, I must lean in and watch expectantly.

I know that Cheryl Sandberg says that women need to lean in more to their careers and stop opting out too soon. I would say the same is true for our faith as women. God wants us to remember that He hears our needs, our groanings too deep for words, as well as our wants. It's not wrong to be ambitious and want things. We just have to ask and then be willing to watch.

I too have to keep my eyes open while I watch. I have to watch for small moments of gentleness in my daughter, and then praise her for it, and not forget it in the moments when she is wild and crazy. I have to watch for the sweetness in our marriage, and thank my husband for his love. I have to watch for "God-sightings" (as my kids are learning in VBS this week) in my career as I desire to work again.

We have to watch. Sometimes, we get so fixed and focused on the mundane, the minutiae of life, that we forget to prepare, pray and then watch with our eyes opened. I pray God will give you the eyes to see His love at work.

Friday, June 28, 2013


Recently I was asked about detoxing especially after a major surgery. Here's my advice for anyone trying to detox their body of unwanted toxins, or in this case, after strong pain medications.

"A diet focused on probiotic containing foods, fruits and vegetables is always safe, effective way to help your body take a break from harder to digest foods. 

Start by drinking 60 oz of water every day, then include two servings of probiotic containing foods like kombucha, kefir and yogurt. Try eating vegan as much as possible (if so desired, adding clean and lean meats) and increasing healthy fat intake from avocado and extra virgin olive oil (or equally clean fats.) 

Really, the most benefit is derived from LOTS of greens, not just in salads or raw but sautéed or in smoothies or juicing. You can't go wrong with it unless you are on blood thinners. Other foods like cabbage, celery, many asian vegetables would be beneficial as well for detoxifying the liver. These foods have also high amounts of fiber which can help relieve the constipation related to higher doses of pain medication. They are rich in iron, calcium as well as B vitamins.

Adding in lots of spices such as cinnamon and fresh ginger to your food choices as well as lemon or grapefruit into your drinks can really 'flush' your body with anti-inflammatory antioxidants and reduce stiffness or muscle soreness.

Lastly I highly recommend yoga or therapeutic stretching (if your doctor okays it) to get all that muscle stiffness associated with surgery or stress out of your body. I did that this spring when I was trying to recover from writing our book and needed to rejuvenate my system. 

As always consult with a dietitian or doctor to confirm what would be best for your body.

As always, choose to do something worth it--even if its just cutting back on sugar and eating two vegetables for dinner, you will still be making strides towards a healthier, stronger body.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The 2nd time I fell in love...

A blogger I love to read asked if it was normal to feel sentimental about loving your first baby as you prepare for the second.


Not that I'm not totally in love with my little guy, and his sweet golden curls, but the first moment I saw her, I knew I would love her as fiercely as I ever could.

Where did this fierce and beautiful creature come from? She is, as her name implies, 'each of the two'-- a powerful combination of two firstborn children all wrapped up into one empathetic, curious, creative, people-loving powerhouse.
Five years ago today (on a equally hot day) in Phoenix, I met her. We kept it a surprise but, o, how had I wished for a girl! And now that I know her a little better I am even more excited to see what kind of woman she becomes.

Happy Birthday dear girl-- who else would I make a five layered, strawberry blueberry rainbow cake for but you?

Pantry basics

There are those moments we all have, when we open up the fridge door or the cupboard and we just stare.

No, the Pioneer Woman is not in your back field, and Ina Garten has not invited you over for dinner. It's just you and the fridge and the pantry. You need an edible meal and fast. 

So what do you do, when you haven't planned a thing and you are looking at a bunch of random ingredients and the kids are screaming and you're about to fall over from hunger yourself? This is when you need a secret weapon. And no, it is not take-out {although I do recommend saving a good two of those on speed dial for those nights when cooking would equal more yelling than eating.} 

You need a good pantry.

Here's a new handout I posted on Pinterest
to show you what I keep around on hand in my pantry and fridge to solve the dinner crisis hour.

What am I making this week?

 Roasted Organic Chicken Drumsticks with Steamed Cauliflower and Garlic Sautéed Rainbow Chard
 Steak Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Homemade Buttermilk Ranch (leftovers from party)
 Tomato and Garlic Shrimp over Linguine (Kate's birthday) and Salad
 Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and Avocado Sandwiches and Sliced Watermelon
 Thai Quinoa Salad with Peanut Dressing
 Beef and Black Bean Tacos with Salsa

See! I don't make complicated dinners and I don't have a huge pantry. We just try to incorporate at least two vegetable servings into every dinner and mix in kid friendly food nights with more adventurous nights as well.

Happy pantry digging! Cleaning out your pantry is a great way to restart your diet into a healthier path.

Monday, June 24, 2013

"I'm Hungry"

If you're kids are like mine, they are hungry. "I'm hungry, Mom," or "Mommy, I need a 'nack," and "I'm starving." My friend and I always say that the sunshine makes them grow. Summer heat is here and the fridge cannot stay open any longer or my precious butter will melt. 

But what to feed them?  I'm with you. I definitely don't have it figured out. So, take this as a {public} brainstorming session. And don't think I came up with all of these myself; intelligence is often found in copying smarter people than yourself.

First of all, some education. You don't need as many calories as a kid does. What?!? You might be confused, but by weight little kids need more calories than adults. Basic nutrition science has determined that little kids need more calories and protein than adults, because they are physically adding mass to their body every minute until they are eighteen to twenty-two. Which would explain why they want to eat every. single. minute. of. the. day.

Let's start with MORE. My philosophy is that we all need to see nutrition through the MORE googles, not the LESS goggle. If adults don't take this approach, then the kids will imitate the bad habits, including negative attitudes about food.

What should you eat more?
More vegetables.
More nuts.
More seeds.
More dairy.
More vegetarian.

The science is there. Study after study after study show us that we should eat more of these foods, yet we continue to offer, buy and shop for prepared foods for our children. Now, don't get me wrong, I feed my children the occasional Cheezits. I don't want them growing up with a neurosis because their mother is a dietitian. And I want to help them learn to be inwardly motivated to be healthy.

Take the peanut-butter and Nutella phenomenon at my house as a case study. When I moved from Arizona to Virginia, I couldn't make and take my spring batch of strawberry jam. So we got a little overly attached to Nutella and peanut butter sandwiches all winter long. 

The other day my daughter comes to me and say, "O, Mom, I have such a tummy ache. I ate too much peanut butter and chocolate, and now my body hurts." I told her it was her fault for scooping out and eating a 1/2 cup of each of them as a snack and told her that too much of a good thing is just too much. 

So we parents, and I'm including myself in this, need to manage our children's appetites. Not that we deny them when they are hungry or thirsty, but, we should be teaching them which foods are better choices. Don't buy it if you don't want them to eat too much of it. Neither should we keep 90% snack foods in our pantries and then expect them to choose the withered apple in the fridge. 

We have to be more strategic. I always tell my friends and clients that we don't let our children choose whether or not they brush their teeth, so neither should we make healthy foods optional.

Here's a list of some snacks we keep around and I try to encourage:

Hope you pull out a snack out of the back of your pantry, sit down and enjoy a summer snack with your kids!


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Beautiful garden

It was great and magical...until I got a royal case of poison ivy. Fun. Or not.
But seriously, after visiting around in Arlington, Virginia, I now know that I have a lot to be grateful to have such a great home in a great neighborhood with great neighbors.
And this garden reminds me daily how much The Lord provides for his children. Really, truly, he loves us and wants to do us good. He knew to provide me with this jungle of a garden to bring order to that reminds me of how much He knew I would need this project now that I am not working.
So, I will go ahead and get back to ripping more vines out (albeit with some Technu, ie poison ivy control lotion) and bewares of hoses dragged through the garden...

Saturday, April 27, 2013

One. Chocolate. Chip. At. A. Time : Breaking down the myths of "healthy"

So yesterday, I asked the question, "Is a chocolate cookie really healthy?"

Coffee, chocolate and cookies are my treats of choice; and since, in my new bible study group, all the ladies are really into "paleo" cookies, I thought this detox week would be a good chance to try a change to my cookie recipe.Since I've been trying to stay true to my plan all this week, I knew, for me, I was going to need a go-to treat.

Welcome the recipe search. Paleo, raw, vegan, healthy, nourishing...all those word not usually attached to a chocolate chocolate chip cookie.But I found one I liked the shape of out of the 1.78 million results.

For me, it is easy to wade through the crap and find a good recipe. But I realized that the average person must be so overwhelmed. Not only are their so many recipes, there are so many choices when we are trying to be "healthy". That's not even answering the question "Should I eat cookies at all?"

This is where I think we should all start, not just "Should I be eating paleo or vegan?" or "Should I be eating raw or low-carb?" With the million options out there, we should be #doingsomethingworthit !!

For me, because I knew my stress levels were out of control, I slowed down. I did yoga every day. I ate more vegetarian foods this week since I was so achy. I drank lots of infused waters and cut back on my refined sugars. I drank green smoothies.

So my cookies followed suit.

I used dates and honey and maple syrup instead of refined sugar. I didn't use flour, but substituted the almond dregs from my almond milk experiment. I put in dark chocolate chips and used cocoa powder. I used coconut oil instead of butter.

Is it raw? Is it vegan? Is it full of enzymes? Is it organic? Is it paleo? I'm not sure.

But I didn't something worth it for my body. I baked a pretty darn good dark chocolate chip cookie. That I liked. That I could eat one of every afternoon. That I felt good eating.

Is that where you start when you think of cookies? I hope so, because the fueled my health kick this week and motivated me as a sweet reward. Let's get off the merry-go-round of comparison. Do something that is worth it to you and that honors your body and choices.

What kinds of food and health choices do you feel are worth it?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Just a Cookie

The chocolate cookie.

Is it a nemesis to you? What does it represent to you?

To me, it represent health. Health???

So, so, SO many times people ask me about eating healthy and here I am, saying a cookie can be healthy.

This solitary treat is not just a delicious mouthful, but a gateway to understanding balancing nutrition needs a world that is full of contradictory information.

As a dietitian, I believe in chocolate cookies, just as I believe in treats, desserts, bread, and carbs. I even put sugar *gasp* in my coffee. every. morning.

Except this week. After finishing writing the book with Carolyn, my body has been shot. The stress of a cross-country move, long days, late nights, holidays, and the deadline all spring STILL haven't gotten out of my system. Every time I went on a run, my body ached. Even my feet wouldn't stop aching.

I thought, "Am I just getting old? Is this 33? Am I really this out of shape?" For a person who had been pretty consistent with exercise all her life, I didn't recognize my body. Immediately after we finished the book, I went on a week long calorie restricting, exercise intense "plan" to get ready for my vacation.

Fail. It didn't work. In fact, it backfired.

And here I am on a truly healthy week eating a cookie. Why?

Because sometime those kinds of plan don't work. So this week, I want to explain why a cookie can be a good thing.

Monday, April 01, 2013


It was a lovely time at my mothers. My favorite part was hearing my grandmother talk about marriage and the choices she made as a wife and mother and medical professional. Totally precious and well-earned experience offering wonderful advice.
Here's me and the family
 And here's Mr. Bowtie. How cute is that?
Did you have a good Easter?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


I was telling the children this past week that the egg is a symbol of two things (that I know of ): to remember the stone in front of Jesus' tomb and how it was rolled away, and that the egg is a sign of new life.

As we celebrate Easter, I remember several crucial moments in my life where my faith has been renewed during this time of year. I always try and remember those moments in my walk with the Lord, like the year that I sat in the Easter service plagued by doubts and the gospel choir sang "He lives!" and I believed it again.

Easter is a story of renewal, but for me, that exists inside of the normal cycle of doubt and faith. In my walk with the Lord, I inevitably experience both. As I was reading the children in the Jesus Storybook Bible, I was reminded that after Jesus rose from the dead He stayed with the disciples to reassure them.
"This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead."(John 21:14 ESV)
Jesus appeared to his disciples, both men and women, after his resurrection many times so that they would be reassured. Jesus knew that they would doubt even in their faith.We too need reassurance. We don't believe as easily as we should. We feel alone, or unloved, or we wander from belief into doubt. John reminds us that we too can have reassurance:
"Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29 ESV)
... these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God and that by believing you may have life in his name.(John 20:31 ESV) 
Easter is a time to remember the power of reassurance, and then renew our faith in Him. He died once for all, but He doesn't just come back once. He comes to reassure us, not just once, not even three times, but over and over again. He visits our hearts continually through the Holy Spirit, just as He visited with the disciples repeatedly to remind us that we should believe.
" And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6 ESV)
If we are to believe, we must continue to seek Him. Mary Magdalene was rewarded that day she went to the tomb, because even though she believed Him to be dead, she was still drawn to seek Him where he lay.

That verb "seek" isn't past tense. It isn't like the finality of death. If our faith needs to continue to grow, so that our doubts receed, we need to keep seeking Him. During Easter I hope you find this renewal of faith, reader. By continual seeking, our faith can find renewal again and again in the resurrection and life of Jesus.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Mommy Training

Who knew potty training would be so faith building?!?

This year has been filled with ups and down, highs and lows, and generally a lot of emotions.

My children have struggled with the move and adjustments. This morning we saw the red sun coming up over the edge of the East while we dropped Travis off at the bus stop; and Kate said to me, "Mom, I miss the sun. I miss that in Arizona."

Grant especially has had a hard time adjusting to everything new. His mood swings and his tantrums have been very challenging. On top of all those two and almost three year-old emotions, his whole environment has changed.

For a mom, just surviving the two and three year-old rollercoaster can be, well, like wrestling an untamed bear.
I could also say a few, not so choice, words about how it makes me feel about having another baby, but we'll leave that for another day.

With the gloom of winter settled in and the post-holiday glitz purged out, we have only everyday life.

When Grant told me he wanted underpants on Monday morning, I for groaned. So I dragged us all to 'Targie' and we started the potty training.

It worked.

By last night, Tuesday dinner time, he was telling me he had to go. By bedtime he totally got it, screaming hat he wanted me to change his 'diapie', even though it wasn't wet, he just didn't like the possibility of being wet.
And even though he wasnt dry when he woke up, we've made it to the potty this morning every time.

Now before you hate me, because, believe me, I have heard how hard boys can be to potty train, remember my past year. And my daughter was not easy to train (and they always say girls are earlier and easier to train?!)

This is a gift, a little present (excuse the pun) just for me.

Psalm 59:10 'My God in his steadfast love will meet me'

You have to cut me some slack because for the first time in a long time I have not worked. So, I am learning the daily routine of being a full-time stay-at-home mom thing. It is a really big adjustment.

Some mornings I wake up and cringe at the work ahead of me. Training and teaching children, on top of managing the household, is no wimpy job. I have been struggling to hold onto to truth about who I am and what my purpose is.

In those moments, The struggle is thats it is harder for me to remember that God wants me to be happy, not just get the work done or merely survive until naptime.

So God gave me a little sign, a reminder that He is listening to my moments of weariness, and my struggle to adjust myself and my children, and that he is paying attention to my enemies, both inward and outward-- He wants me to know that He will meet me: verse 10b
'God will let me look in triumph in my enemies'

This time He met me with my little guy, on the potty.
It was an easy victory.

Can I believe again that I too can triumph over other things, like my anger or frustrations, that it can be that easy too?!

What do you wish would be easy?!?