In the Space of Five Minutes

Zara is so very busy right now.  Her attention span is gradually lengthening by seconds, but it still feels like a blip before she moves on to the next thing.  Just in the last few weeks she’s started playing pretend play and it’s so much fun to watch!  She feeds her baby cheerios before eating them herself, brushes her hair, rocks her, and then dumps her unceremoniously over the crib rail for a nap before coming out to find me with many gestures and frantic “be be, be be, be be’s” until I figure out she needs her baby from the crib.

This favorite “be be” was a yard sale find I picked up years ago.  Zara completely ignored it until I replaced it’s tattered clothes with this little outfit I sewed from scraps of her own.  She suddenly wanted to carry it around for a few weeks.  But as the summer progressed, the doll was often left behind.  I bought her a new doll and stroller, just in time for school to start in hopes that it would help her transition.  She had no patience for the box or the checkout line and we had to get the baby out as soon as we got to the van.  For two days, she played with almost nothing but the new baby.  Then suddenly, it got dropped into the toy box and she won’t touch it.  But, the old baby is suddenly just fabulous again.  She plays and plays with it and even wants to sleep with it.

One day after she woke from her nap, I gave her the baby and followed her with my camera for a few minutes.  Seriously, probably five.  It is completely possible to have a million facial expressions (all positively adorable to your mom), pretend to blow your nose, pretend to bathe your baby with the same tissue, and then trot to the bedroom.  There you will laboriously crawl onto the rocking chair then figure out you need baby so you get back off and then find it impossible to get on.  So you crawl back on but don’t have baby at which point Mom will hand you the baby.  But then in 3.2 seconds you’ll throw the baby on the floor and start the process over.  After one minute and 45 seconds it’s time to throw the baby in the crib.  After all, her hair have been brushed, she’s been rocked and you just remembered there are books to read.

Oh, Zara.

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(I think I need to do something else.)doll clothes to match (11 of 56)

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(Are your clothes clean?)
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(I need a brush for her hair. Let me go get one.)doll clothes to match (22 of 56)

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( I really think you just need a nap.)doll clothes to match (30 of 56)

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(I guess I’ll just play with the brush.  No. Wait.  I need my baby back.)doll clothes to match (40 of 56)

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The end of summer

It’s September 1st and almost ninety degrees.  I can’t even tell you how happy this makes me!  Summer fu-lew by in a whoosh.  It happens every year and every year I’m convinced it was thee shortest summer ever.  This one was just wrong because it didn’t act like summer.  I mean temperatures in the seventies when you should be sweltering does not count as summer.  That’s Spring extended.

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Then in June, about the time it wanted to get warm, I spiked a fever of 103.6 and curled up in bed with muscle cramps and hip pain that put me in a near fetal position.  Four days later I was still sweating copiously then chilling and my chest felt tight and like I couldn’t breathe freely.  No one wants to get the flu in the summertime, but this time it would have been nice to have it be the flu.  After a negative flu swab, ruling out a septic hip and pneumonia with x rays, the logical conclusion was Lyme.  I started antibiotics and the fever broke within hours.

The next day David went five hours out of town for a custody hearing.  While he was gone the doctor called to say that my white count was down to 2 and I needed to go to the ER for repeat labs to make sure they didn’t miss something that would send me into septic shock.  You know my love relationship with the local ER. 😉  I waited until David got home then we sat in the ER for FOUR HOURS to see the same NP we saw with Adam.  It’s nice they’d already checked my blood pressure earlier.  She poo pooed the whole thing and said I probably had the flu.  My white count was nearing 4 and I was out of the crisis zone which was all I needed to know.

Three weeks later after shooting spasms in my hands and feet, visual disturbances, heart palpitations, crazy, crazy, crazy exhaustion all.the.time, and headaches my lyme and mono test came back positive.  Apparently illnesses come buy one get one free around here. Two days after the doxycycline ended, the weird symptoms began to abate.  The tiredness, not so much. It was work just to function.

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Then miraculously, a week before we started school, I switched my vitamin to morning instead of evening and instantly I was sleeping better at night and feeling energetic again during the day.  I have no idea if it was coincidence or a combination thing but it literally happened overnight.  I literally breathe gratefulness every single day for how wonderful I feel.  It feels like an enormous, gigantic, out of proportion gift from God.  After not feeling well for so long, then getting so much better on Plexus, it felt like a huge kick in the gut to feel so rotten again. I know that it’s easy to make almost a god out of feeling well.  Like it’s our right or something.  I don’t ever want to get to that place; but I also believe that God created our bodies to function well and He longs for us to know wholeness.  I can’t wait to get to heaven where we will know such perfect wholeness in our body, soul and spirit!! But for now, I am just so, so, SO grateful to be able to care well for my family and the people around me!

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It’s been hard to understand why our family has been so plagued by such weird maladies ever since we moved here.  Sometimes I wonder if that is the way satan is attempting to tear down our family as David moves forward in the frontlines at helping families be restored to wholeness.  But the theme of God’s incredible answers blows me away.  The fact that Adam has no residual damage from his terrible break, Zara’s clear MRI, Adam’s strange mark in his nail, and now the fact that I am feeling well so soon after diagnosis gives me courage to face the smaller things.  Liam was diagnosed with Lyme about a week before I was. He’s still dealing with pain in his feet and sometimes knee pain. Will you pray with us about that?  He dragged on and on with fatigue and stomachaches and headaches that seem to be clearing up.  His eyes sparkle again.  But his feet still hurt him a lot.  I’m praying for complete healing for him, too.

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Anyhow, back to the summer that got away from us.

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I don’t know how your family does summer, but it feels like ours goes into it full tilt every time.  I always dream of lazy summer days ………… and parts of them are lazy.  We make the most of our non-school days by sleeping in, working and playing late, and cramming as many fun things in as possible.  I think it may be impossible to actually do summer lazily when you live far enough North that summer is short.  So my philosophy is to live it to the hilt!

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We started summer activities early.  David and I shot a wedding in Virginia Beach in April.  The air temperatures were in the seventies!  The boys headed straight for the water never mind that the water temperature was in the FIFTIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I love these pictures and the intensity in their faces and body posture! You can tell they are both magnetized by the water and desperately trying to avoid feeling like an icicle. :)

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My parents met us at the beach and took us to the aquarium on Friday and then showed the kids the greatest time on Saturday while we were at the wedding.  The whole weekend just felt like this enormous gift! Getting to do what I love with the person I love most in all the world, the time at the aquarium with my parents, warm sunshine in April, and the kids getting to spend time with their grandparents.

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There were a few treasured days at the lake or back at the Middle Ford or at Indian Rocks.  There was the fun of introducing Zara to the fun of water.

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There was the fun of hosting family and friends here for the weekend and trips out of town to visit others.

This year was especially special because we got to do an extended weekend with both our immediate families.  Family is important in both of our families and our parent’s generation is still having family reunions.  But I love that we got to do something more than just a day with our smaller, more immediate families.

My family came to visit us in Maryland in July.  We had so much fun and proved that it is very possible to have more than 20 people in our house … at least in the summer time when you can overflow outside. :)  The weather was finally hot for the first time this summer which was such an answer to prayer.  I wanted so badly to take them to the lake because it’s one of our favorite spots.  I love the beauty of the sand, mountains and water and I love, love to watch children having fun together.  Combine the two and it’s almost too much to absorb.  But it was so cool I didn’t know if we’d even enjoy going.  Well, it turned hot just in time.  Going to the lake was the best imaginable thing to do.  Much as I adore watching the children having such a great time, my favorite time was late Saturday night when Christy, Beth, Mom and I got to sit on our front porch with coffee, blackberries, and shortbread.  We are rarely all together and it was so special to be able to sit and talk uninterrupted.

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In late August, David’s family did a long weekend at this cabin in Garrett County.  While we get together for holidays and other times, we rarely stay together for an extended period because most everyone lives in the same community.   It was one of those weekends that should be described in superlatives.  The best food.  Amazing weather.  Wonderful hours to relax and talk. Kids having so much fun together swimming and playing ball.  Four hours in the hot tub with my sisters in law talking life until the wee hours of the morning.  I could do that weekend all over again.

And then there were the little moments.  The moments that feel so much a part of life that you almost forget to realize how wonderful they are.  Like lazy breakfasts because we weren’t on a time schedule.

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Or reading in the hammock in the morning while the front porch was cool.

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Or popsicles.

This spring the boys took a huge liking to soccer.  Liam bought a soccer ball in town one day and the fun continued even when it was hot outside.

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This was the summer of a baby girl morphing into a toddler.

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The summer of beautiful memories intertwined with tears.  Of grace covering inadequacy.  Of children growing.  Of laughing. Living. Loving.  Much as I’d like to hang onto it and pretend that winter is not lurking around the corner just waiting to pounce …. I want so much to love the present.  To live gratefully for the beautiful and embrace the rest graciously.

Thoughts on Motherhood

Today David and the boys headed out on a three day river trip.  Other Moms get pretty excited when I tell them this.

“What are you going to do for three days?”

“I am jealous of you with a long quiet stretch of time alone.  Wow, all the things I would do.”

I kind of snicker and wonder whether it’s worth explaining.

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For one, I still have a seventeen month old at home.  Make that a seventeen month old who needs very little sleep and started trying very hard to boycott her one nap of the day this past weekend.  She is also entirely too accustomed to watching her brothers play and turns into a rather bored, whiny, clingy version of her normally happy self if they are both out of the house simultaneously.

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Two, “three days on the river” means that I helped them get packed the morning of day one.  Because we were out of town over the weekend they didn’t get to work ahead at getting ready and so it was noon instead of morning when we headed out.  Since they can’t shuttle their vehicle, I drove with them to their take out destination and then took them to their put in spot.  The water levels are very low so they switched plans this morning and canoed a larger river which meant significantly more driving time.

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But Zara and I did get to do a bit of shopping this evening before we got groceries and it was so much fun to actually walk through the shoe aisles for the first time in a very long while.

We also stopped for Mexican food. I could make it sound like the beginning of a fabulous tradition of mother / daughter time; but the truth is I spontaneously decided I was willing to pay someone else to clean the rice up from under the table.

I found it so interesting to see two other Mom / daughter combos in the same room.  One of them was a mother to a forty year old.  The other looked like a ten year old daughter.  The first set was there before we arrived and sat in the booth behind us.  I heard very little of the words they said aside from, “Well in your relationship with him ….” but they were obviously discussing heavy stuff.  I could almost feel the stress just from the tone of their conversation and the way their voices stayed intense and at the same pitch.  It seemed they were trying hard to find solutions to big problems.

The mom with the ten year old daughter arrived when we were about halfway through our meal.  They both looked liked they’d just showered and the girl sported a cute ponytail.  She crossed her feet adorably while she ate.  They ate quickly, but with questions and short answers.  Mom seemed present instead of preoccupied.  Long before we were done, they finished up and left.

It made me remember the days soon after Zara was born when I would rock her in the living room, trying to decide whether she needed to burp or had tummy ache or just needed to sleep.  I remember the pockets of light from the lamps and feeling so intensely protective and in love with this tiny, new child of ours.  And in those hours, I remember often thinking of how many generations of mamas have mothered their children.  How my Mom rocked me and my grandma rocked her and her mama before her all the way back to some mama who rocked her baby on the ocean voyage to America and before that how her mama rocked her somewhere in Switzerland or Germany.

For generations Moms have been cuddling newborns and trying to learn “hungry” cries from “I’m tired” cries as opposed to “my tummy hurts” cries.  They’ve bathed babies and swaddled them and fed them and felt floods of indescribable emotion as that baby snuggled into their chest and fell asleep.  They’ve wrestled with two year olds who had melt downs in the meat aisle and worried through the night as fevers spiked higher.  They’ve cheered the first bike ride without training wheels and listened to 1,604,923 stories and answered double that many questions.  But they’ve listened to more than just the questions.  They’ve listened to hearts and watched actions and noticed when three day canoe trips are kind of exciting and kind of not because the only life jacket that fits is the one your mom found at a yard sale and it’s purple and that’s just about enough to ruin the entire trip.

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Tonight I saw again what I realized sometime after Adam was born.  Once you’re a mom, you’re always a mom.  Whether your daughter is seventeen months or ten or forty-three, you’re still going to be taking her out for Mexican and listening to her heart.  And whether your boys are out blacksmithing over the fire in your yard or out canoeing the river, they’re still at the forefront of your mind.  You’re still going to wonder if their sleeping bag is warm enough when the night temperatures drop to the sixties and it rains even if there isn’t a thing you can do if it’s not.

It made me realize that that their are stages of motherhood, but there is no graduation.  Our meals tonight were so different.   From long discussion, to focused questions and answers, to me simply focusing on trying to get food into a moving target — there we all were in the same room.  Same relationship. Different chapters of our lives.  I was pretty sure I had the best of the three worlds because I was the only Mom who got forty-seven kisses during dinner.  I wonder if those other Moms would have said the same thing …  that they’re in the best stage of their lives?  I can hardly ever remember wishing to be in a different stage with the boys (ok, I lied.  I’m pretty sure I always want to fast forward the spitting out baby food stage).  I hope I always feel that way.

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Here we are.  Another generation of Moms loving their kids.  Trying to find answers to the same life questions applied in 2015.  Loving. Living. Worrying. Praying. Teaching. And someday, learning to let go.  Our journey is new, but it is an old, old path.  Maybe it will give us courage to remember we are not alone.

WFMW: Children’s Books about Sex

If you’ve been looking for a resource to help you teach your children about sex, these books are fabulous! I am often leery of books because they either have round about language or talk about it in awkward ways (we’re pretty direct with our children), but these begin with stories and end up with dialogue for older kids that isn’t cheesy at all.  I love that they are written from a christian and scientific perspective.  They teach correct anatomy early on and are scientifically correct.  But, they are so much more because they teach about the broader, beautiful concepts of gender and sexuality and the way God designed sex to be such a beautiful thing that glorifies and honors Him!  I love how Biblically based they are.

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They have age recommendations, but as you know, kids mature at their own speed so yours may be ready earlier or later based on their own time table.  I’m sure they are available in bookstores somewhere, but I found them on Amazon.  I’m pretty sure Amazon was created for moms who can’t make a million stops in town. :)

If you’ve read these or found other books you love on this subject, I’d love to hear about them!

WFMW: Vaccinations

It’s been awhile since I did a Works For Me Wednesday post.  Now it’s nap time on a not-so-crazy day and I thought it would be fun to do one again.  Did your hackles go up when you read the title? Just smooth them back down again, take a deep breath, and b l o w it out.  There.  I’m not going into theory.  I’m not going to argue.  And you know what? I’d rather you wouldn’t either.  I’m a bit of a middle of the road person on this one and for all I know, my views could still be evolving.  Goodness knows I’ve changed gears a lot in these eleven years of being a mom.

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As you know, we’ve had a lot of food allergy issues in our family.  I don’t know the cause, but I’m on a mission to increase our health and decrease our toxicity level.  I have an aunt with six grown children.  The first four were vaccinated on schedule and had lots of digestive issues.  The last two she didn’t vaccinate until they were six and there were no digestive issues.  Is this proof of cause and effect? Not necessarily, but it did make me curious whether our family has a particular sensitivity?

There are so many things that can contribute to an unhealthy digestive system … even simple things like tylenol and ibuprofen or antibiotics.  It feels as though there is often a snowball effect.  I am only one mom with three kids and an opinion, not an expert studying scientifically reviewed studies.  But for our family, it felt as though minimizing antibiotics and tylenol, and insecticides and vaccinations and increasing healthy foods and probiotics could be a good start.  I still wanted to vaccinate, but on a slightly less intense schedule.  When Zara was born I looked around a bit and decided on this one.  I’m sharing in case you are looking for one, too.

Happy, healthy Wednesday!

It’s that Plexus Talk Again

If you’re one of those super healthy people with a stainless steel immune system who never suffers from high blood pressure, blood sugar issues, low energy, eczema, allergies, anxiety, depression, or autoimmune disorders, we’ll chat another day. :)  Because, yep, I’m going to talk about Plexus again.

I know that some of you have questions because some of you are brave enough to email me and I bet the rest of you want answers as much as they do. :) So I thought we’d just pretend we get to have coffee together and I’ll try to explain some of it the best I can. If I don’t get to your question, you can leave it in the comments section or email me personally. Seriously. I don’t mind.

I keep hearing about Plexus. How does it help?

Plexus Slim is a natural, plant-based product that helps to control your blood sugar. So many of us are suffering from dips and spikes that leave us feeling irritable at best and in pain at worst.  We’ve known sugar is a problem for a long time.  I’ve watched in denial for years, listening as a friend went off sugar and stopped having knee pain.  Listening again as my cousin put her daughter on a low glycemic index diet for absence seizures and watched her daughter go medicine AND seizure free. I mean, even Adam started talking to me about sugar when he started reading National Geographic.  So much for maintaining denial in this household.

The long answer: Plexus Slim is a drink mix that was originally designed to help people with diabetes regulate their blood sugar.  When it was being tested, they noticed that all the subjects also lost weight and had significant improvements in other areas of health.  Plexus Slim also supported lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and weight loss! Plexus Slim contains all natural plant extracts mixed with stevia for sweetness, pomegranate extract for flavor, and beet extract for color.  I love that happy pink color!

Here is a quick breakdown of the proprietary blend of ingredients:

Chlorogenic Acid is an antioxidant which inhibits glycogenisis (the way your body breaks down glycogen into glucose, or blood sugar). This encourages your body to get its energy from fat cells.

Garcinia Cambogia is a fruit extract.  It is thought to stop the creation of of an enzyme called citrate lyase.  Citrate lyase converts extra carbs to fats, something most of us don’t want happening in our bodies.

Alpha-Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant naturally produced in the body to turn glucose into energy.  In several studies, it appears to help lower blood sugar levels.  It’s ability to help kill free radicals may help people with diabetic peripheral neuropathy or those who have pain, burning, itching, tingling and numbness from nerve damage.

But how does that help someone with all these different illnesses?  

Great question.  Sugar acts like an inflammatory agent in our bodies.  It’s also important to know that insulin is like the master hormone in our bodies and other hormones respond in relation to insulin.  So when our blood sugar stays stable, our bodies can run much more smoothly.  This equates less inflammation (good news for those with pain and auto immune disorders).  And the stable sugar / insulin levels allow other hormones to fall into line.

Scientists are finding out that our gut does so much more than only digest our pizza.  In fact, they are discovering that 90-95% of our serotonin is created in our gut! Doesn’t this make so much sense for why people with Plexus are discovering they don’t need their antidepressants anymore?!!! Healthy gut = healthy brain!

Why would I want to take Plexus Slim?

: to help lower your blood pressure

: to help stabilize your blood sugar whether you are diabetic or prediabetic

: to help support your thyroid

: to help with adrenal fatigue

: to help you sleep better

: to help with anxiety

: to help you lose weight

: to help with depression

: to give you energy during the day

: to help lower your blood cholesterol

Recently a testimonial popped up about someone’s vision improving! Did you know your vision can fluctuate with your blood sugar? I didn’t either until I went for a laser evaluation and my vision was actually fine! I was having trouble because I no longer needed my glasses (thank you, pregnancy)! “Unless it’s just because of your blood sugar,” the doctor cautioned as I was ready to waltz out the door!

The BioCleanse is chock full of magnesium. Most of us are deficient in magnesium thanks to our modern diets.  Even with a diet rich in vegetables we’re probably deficient because our soil isn’t sustained the way it used to be.  Magnesium has been linked to helping with inflammation and especially with helping to reduce blood pressure. But did you also know it can help to stabilize blood sugars? Or help with asthma?

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The ProBio has five powerful probiotics, digestive enzymes, and grapeseed extract which work to reduce yeast in your body and help digestion.  Remember that healthy gut = healthy brain connection from above? Cha ching! This and the X factor have been the star players in Liam’s healing from food allergies! You can read more of our story here.

These three products are often known as the triplex because of the powerful way they work in tandem.  Slim maintains your blood sugar so the yeast can’t get so happy, happy, happy.  ProBio roots out yeast (did you know it actually roots into your gut lining? The nerve!) and BioCleanse flushes it out of your system.  I like the Fab Four which includes the X Factor.

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Does it work?

YES! Does it ever! The stories that keep coming in are flat out amazing!  Lyme patients, people with high blood pressure, diabetics, people with high cholesterol, children with attention / hyperactivity disorders, people with seasonal allergies, people with dietary allergies.  The list goes on and on.  My favorite stories are the ones linked with lab results and especially the ones where patients have their doctors calling them and saying, “I think I want to take this, too!”  Here is a recent story from Rachel Weaver, author of Be Your Own Doctor.  Honestly, this one just blew me out of the water! We saw end stage kidney failure patients in the CCU where I worked and it always felt like such a sad, hopeless story.

Rachel says, “After only 5 weeks on Tri-plex, block and x-factor, I am thrilled.

This is saying a lot because I drag my feet on MMM things and stuff like this. I like herbs and simple things but I was feeling rotten.

I am in end stage kidney failure, refusing dialysis and going natural, determined to heal my kidneys if it could be done. I have gained kidney function from 12% to 15% but was beginning to slide backwards.

Because of the toxicity of my body- kidneys not doing their job, I had begun to have serious yeast problems, brain fog, extreme weakness and well, lots of other problems. I was asking the Lord for answers – if there were any for me. Enter- PLEXUS.

For me the results have been astounding.

Immediate blood sugar stablization

Brain fog lifted

Smiling and singing again

Enough energy to get off the couch and walk- even a mile, when I could barely walk to the end of our short driveway before collapsing.

But to top it off- 4 weeks into it I took my monthly blood work and my kidney function had gone from 15% – 18.5%. Folks, this has not happened before and I can hardly wait to take my test this month and see if it has gone farther.

At any rate- I will be helping some of my children and friends with this product and hoping that they see the changes I am seeing.”

I couldn’t be happier for her!!

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What should I take?
This is best answered individually!  I’d love to talk with you about what might work best for you!

It’s called Plexus Slim. Will I lose weight?

Maybe.  Natural products are not allowed to make any claims for healing.  About the only thing they are allowed to market is weight loss, hence the name.  It was first designed for diabetics and when so many other good results started happening, they wanted to share it with more people because they wanted others to experience wellness.  Slim helps to reduce the vicious sugar craving so if it helps you to make healthier options, then yes, you will probably lose weight! And if underlying health issues are keeping you from losing weight (even the ones you don’t know about), you will probably lose weight as your body heals.  But it is also true that people who have been very underweight took the triplex and actually gained weight because their body was healthier!  Many people do lose weight, yes, but the bigger answer is, Plexus will help you toward health.  People often lose inches before they lose pounds and I’m living proof that cellulite shrinks, even at thirty-seven. 😉

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I also love the X Factor vitamin because it contains aloe.  I love aloe for digestive health! It’s thought to make your gut lining slippery for less leaky gut which in turn means fewer undigested food particles enter your blood stream for fewer allergic reactions.  According to the Mayo Clinic, aloe is helpful for psoriasis and there are very preliminary findings that it may help with lung cancer.   The chewable version is a nice children’s vitamin but doesn’t include aloe so I opened the capsules into yogurt for Liam until he started swallowing pills.

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The Body Cream is one of my new favorites.  I’ve used a few over the counter facial moisturizers as well as one from Mary Kay and Amway and liked them all for different reasons.  But I’m loving the Body Cream because I know I’m not putting any harmful chemicals on my skin and one of my biggest sun spots is starting to fade! We also used it after our first day at the lake when Liam and Zara came home from the lake with mild sunburns in spite of repeat applications of SPF 30 and 50 thanks to his doxycycline and her super fair skin.  The redness went away so quickly and they never peeled or even complained of it hurting! I also used it on Adam when he got into poison ivy. Two applications later he wasn’t even scratching! David and the boys are working on taking off our old decking.  Adam was trying to take off one of the top rails, missed, and hit himself in the forehead instead! He had a HUGE goose egg instantly.  I put body cream on it after a few minutes of ice.  That night it was half the size! I put another application on and it disappeared completely by morning!

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I want this for me, too! How do I get it?

It’s so easy! You can order a product retail if you just want to try it.  Or if you sign up as a preferred customer, you will get a small discount on the products and Plexus will automatically ship the products to you every month! You don’t even need to remember to order!

Better yet, you can sign up to be an ambassador and order at the wholesale price plus get a wonderful business opportunity! I’d love to coach you through this if you are interested!  Normally the cost to sign up is $34.95 but this weekend it is half price!!!  Now is your time!

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Want to talk? Email me at smilesbymiles[at]gmail[dot]com

Want to order? Right here!

Miracles Still Happen

We are absolutely thrilled.

Zara sailed through her MRI with no adverse results to the general anesthesia or the contrast dye.

But even better? Her MRI was completely clear!

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Some days I still can hardly believe it.  Her reflexes are completely symmetrical and aside from some low muscle tone issues, she’s checking out completely on target.

They really have no answers for what exactly was going on or why it happened.  In their minds it was simply stereotypies (pronounced “stare ee ot u peez”) which is a muscular movement that looks like a seizure but isn’t.  It sounds like one of those ambiguous syndrome type terms doctors use when they have no idea what is going on but they can’t find anything specific.  😉  At any rate, kids usually grow out of them and they are completely benign.  They have no idea what causes them or what makes them eventually go away.

Maybe it’s true.

But I still wonder.  Would stereotypies have caused a child to stop rolling? And even more, would they have caused a child to start fisting with her left hand so much so that she would crawl into a room, plop that fisted hand in her lap and play with the other?  Would they have made her weak on her left side and caused increased reflexes on that side?  Would they have made her need to learn that her left side is there when she was learning to walk or playing with her hands when she previously had no issues?

We’ll never know.  But I think she had more than stereotypies going on and God healed her.  Then again, I’m just the mom with a boatload of faith; not the one with the neurology degree.

It really doesn’t matter.  Because either way, we get to stop worrying about what’s going on inside her little cranium!

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No matter what happened, I knew I would still know God is good.  We had a lot of dialogue going on, He and I, in the days leading up to Zara’s last checkup.  So many questions. So many emotions to give to Him.  Today I am overflowing with so much thankfulness for this miraculous gift of health He has given our baby girl!

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I would also like to give a huge shout out to the team at Johns Hopkins for the incredible treatment we received from the day I first called them to the day they said we could follow up with her pediatrician.  The hospital is absolutely eNORmous, but we were always treated with the utmost courtesy and respect from people who showed us which direction to go (and often took us part or all of the way there) to neurologists who called or emailed us directly.  I loved that at her follow ups the neurologist herself was the person to come out to the waiting room to get us.  It felt so personable to see doctors come out and greet their patients and chat with them for a minute.  I also loved that anesthesia let me go with Zara while they put her to sleep.  Zara was super stressed the day of her MRI (she has white coat syndrome all the way by now). Not only did anesthesia offer to premedicate her, she insisted the nurse let me administer the medication rather than make Zara even more upset.  And then they let me walk her back to the room and hold her while they put her to sleep.  A quick kiss and I was out the door so they could intubate her.  Only a few minutes and I’m sure Zara wouldn’t have remembered them forever but I know she would have been TERRIFIED to be taken from me and I would have cried my eyes out to watch it happen.  I love that modern medicine has made such enormous strides toward finding cures for so many things; and I am equally happy that medical practitioners have made such enormous strides in taking care of patients and family’s emotional needs.  Johns Hopkins, you are pretty amazing!

Moments of Perfection in the Middle of an Imperfect World

Do you ever have those moments where you just want to make the world stop rotating on it’s axis because everything feels so perfect?  Life is so short and moments like that are so fleeting you barely dare to blink so you don’t miss them.

Mar 15 (159 of 190)

I’ve been trying to learn to savor without grasping.

To look forward to without becoming entitled.

But mostly, I’m still learning how to be more intentional.  To listen to the whippoorwill (why, oh why can’t they mate all summer so I can listen to them?). To watch the curtains blow in the breeze.  To see the light change from the glow of morning to bright noon and back to pink in the evening.  To smell stinky baby feet when I take off Zara’s shoes and socks and listen to her erupt in giggles, crinkle up her nose and beg for more.  To see beyond the noise and dirt and see the sheer happiness of boys creating enormous tunnels and hills and roads in the garden.

Mar 15 (183 of 190)

It feels way too easy to get caught up in my own little rotation.  Laundry. Cook. Clean. Pack suitcases. Repeat.  Traveling pretty much every week for 2 and half months will do that to you. (I’m quite sure the next time someone asks if I’m a stay at home Mom I’m going to change that to Mobile Mom.)  But life doesn’t have to control us, even when a planned full of fun schedule gets overloaded thanks to a totaled van, insurance calls, car shopping, and doctor visits.  Sometimes we need to be a little less rigid and a little more like this.

We’ve had so many perfect moments this Spring.  So many, many things to be grateful for.

Things like friends who come hang out with us for a weekend.  Seriously, who gets to hang out with out of town friends on their birthday?

Mar 15 (125 of 190)

These girls have been such a gift of friendship for so many years! No matter how long we’ve been apart, it feels like minutes because our hearts beat so much the same.  Fun, funny, and passionate about living life the way Jesus wants them to live …. oh, how I love them.

Things like clear answered prayers and renters for our house in Virginia after nearly two months of silence and an empty house and wondering if we were reading God wrong.  We feel so, so blessed that not only have we been given renters again, both times we’ve been given such amazing renters.  People with integrity and who care well for our home while we are away.  David and I had fun doing some work around the house to get it ready and the boys had a blast playing with cousins again.

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[Don’t you just want to squeeze them??]

There were three beautiful weddings to photograph, an evening at the river taking family pictures with David’s family, and a relaxing day with my Mom while David testified at a custody hearing.

There were hours and hours of planning, cooking, prayers and creating decor for staff retreat and the goosebump way specific prayers were answered that weekend.  I may or may not have been emotionally spent by the time the weekend was over.  We loved every minute of getting ready and felt strongly that God would work powerfully through that time.  Sometimes I think my faith is getting stronger until I am blown away by the way He answers and I realize I didn’t fully believe or I wouldn’t have been surprised.  I am learning more and more how incredibly powerful prayer is.

There were birthdays celebrated and milestones reached.

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fire truck cake (1 of 1)

AND there was the first regular cake for Liam in SIX YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Seriously, people.  Plexus works!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Liam has been on the Plexus probiotic and the X factor (a multivitamin with aloe which is so helpful for digestive issues) for three months and he is able to tolerate sooooooo many more foods.  We were gone for three days while David represented camp at a homeschool convention and I did not pack one single food item for Liam!!!!! (Do you have any idea how much easier it is to go away for a weekend when you don’t have to think through and pack food?)  While I wouldn’t want him eating large portions of gluten three meals a day every day for days on end, I rarely limit his intake on anything except for peanut because we’re not touching that until an allergist says it’s safe.  There are no more “my tummy hurts,” and no more emotional meltdowns because he doesn’t feel well.  And best of all, I love to see the look in his eyes when he says “May I eat this?” and I know I can say sure because he’s going to be fine!!!  I am so excited to see his gut getting so much stronger and healthier!! (You can read more of our Plexus story here or go here to buy products for yourself. Or if you want to talk more, I’d love to chat! You can email me at smilesbymiles[at]gmail[dot]com.)

There have been so many good moments, yes.  But it’s almost summer.  And somehow, I have a feeling the best is yet to come.  What happiness has been happening in your life recently? I’d love to hear some “sunshine thoughts” as my friend calls them. :)

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Zara’s Visit with Neurology

Zara’s appointments last week went well.  I warned the EEG tech that it likely wasn’t going to be pretty.  He sized her up and said with a smile, “We are not making history today.  I’ve been doing this for twenty-eight years and I’ve only had one person I couldn’t scan.  An adult-sized twelve year old who threw an absolute fit and it was the dad who gave up, not me.” :)  Zara cried, of course, but more in a resigned kind of wailing than angry screaming and flailing.  He let me hold her and sing to her which helped … maybe me more than her, who knows. And then we sat on the bed and tried very hard to keep her holding still for thirty minutes.  Have you ever done that with a thirteen month old? They move a lot.

Mar 15 (64 of 190)

Her EEG was clear, thankfully.

But still we got no answers.  They can’t tell us she’s having seizures, but they also can’t tell us she isn’t.  Her neurologist felt like it was time to go ahead with the MRI and put the order in saying it often takes two weeks to get it rolling because of the general anesthesia required.

We walked out not knowing what to think.  It’s an odd feeling to have no definite answers.  Less than a week later radiology called to set up her appointment and took me off guard.  I thought we had another week to muddle, you know.

Her doctor is so incredibly patient with us and answered all my questions on the phone yet again.

Mar 15 (71 of 190)

The short version is that Zara’s fisting has tipped the scales on the risk benefit ratio and it’s time to move forward.  She’s pulling her thumb inside her left fist more than she did even two months ago and while “there is probably no behavior that is absolutely never benign in certain cases, this type of fisting is typically associated with neurologic damage.” There are three possible causes.  Something similar to a stroke while she was in utero or at birth or shortly after. A small portion of her brain that didn’t develop completely.  In either of those cases, we wouldn’t necessarily need intervention, but we’d know causation and could take care of things as they arise.  The third possibility is a slow growing brain tumor.  They feel it’s unlikely since often tumors are associated with spikey baseline changes on EEG, but it is the cause they feel needs to be ruled out completely.

I’m relieved, knowing we’re about to get a definitive answer; and, of course, hoping desperately for a completely clear MRI.  I’m also carrying a knot in the bottom of my stomach at the thought of general anesthesia and contrast dye in our baby who already sports so many food allergies and pops hives every few days. But more than that, the niggling little what if desperately tries to make himself at home in my mind.

They say that worry only robs today of it’s joy and it’s true.  But I’m also discovering that a tiny bit of fear can heighten one’s awareness of joy.  We don’t know tomorrow, but the not knowing makes me so much more aware of the miracle of today.

Today there are baby feet pattering across the floor, noisy beggings for cookies, small arms wrapped tightly around my neck, eyelashes drifting shut.

Mar 15 (181 of 190)

In reality, no one is guaranteed tomorrow; but we’ve all been given today.  And today? Today is perfect even in all it’s messy crumbs on the floor glory.  Today is perfect because God gave it.  I think He wants us to live freely and fully, not in spite of the questions or in denial of the questions, but in the very question itself.  So here’s to embracing life with all it’s question marks … to tears when it’s frightening, to spontaneous laughter, to deep love and fierce hugs …. here’s to the reality of life and the supernatural presence of God.

WFMW: Vanilla Crumb Pie

Ever find out last minute you’ve got guests coming for dinner and the store is too far away for you to conveniently get there in time and cook dinner?

Well, tada, here’s a dessert you’re almost guaranteed to have ingredients for already in stock.  Unless you’re a couple of steps healthier than I am and you’ve eliminated corn syrup from your diet completely. 😉  This is my aunt Katy’s fabulous recipe.  It always turns out, even if you aren’t experienced at making pies.  And, oh, is it ever fabulous with a cup of coffee.

For the filling:

1/2 c. brown sugar

1/4 c. dark Karo

1/4 c. light Karo

2 T. flour (heaping)

1 tsp. vanilla

1 egg

1 c. water

For the crumbs:

1/4 c. white sugar

1/4 c. brown sugar

1 c. flour

1/2 t. soda

1/4 c. butter

Cook until thick.  Let cool.  Pour into an unbaked pie crust.  Top with crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Mar 15 (30 of 190)

I didn’t realize this was such an old-fashioned recipe until recently when everyone started talking about how their grandma used to make it.  But it makes perfect sense because all the ingredients are things people would have kept in their pantry years ago.  It may be old-fashioned, but it’s still a crowd pleaser!