An Auto Ramble

Somewhere in October or early November our family seems to get hit with an exploring itch.  When Spring comes, we head out to enjoy our favorite places.  Summer arrives with a plethora of outdoor activities.  But October? October sends chilling winds that remind us of how much easier it will be to stay inside with a baby and a cold-blooded mom and suddenly we’re itching to explore somewhere new before the year is over.

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Most times we think of hiking.  For being so far back in the mountains, our immediate area of Maryland is surprisingly void of great family hikes.  We toyed with the idea of driving over an hour to try one of the hikes on our “to do while living in Maryland” list, but it was a little late in the afternoon to pull it off.  The leaves were pretty much at peak and David and I thought it would be fun to drive around Green Ridge State Forest to enjoy the color.  I was pretty sure the boys wouldn’t share our enthusiasm at sitting in the van for a few hours so we sent them outside to play hard for thirty minutes while we fixed little snack bags of popcorn, chocolate truffles, pumpkin lattes and a hot tea for Liam.

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It worked perfectly.  Zara immediately conked out in her car seat and the boys were enthralled with their snack.

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The leaves were the prettiest I’ve seen since we moved here!

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We drove to Point Lookout, a fantastic view of the Potomac River valley and the horseshoe curve of the river itself.  This article describes more of the history of the overlook including the fact that George Washington used to own the land.  In fact, this part of the river was known as George Washington’s Horseshoe Bend.  It was also used as a lookout by union soldiers during the Civil War.  I always find it easier to imagine history happening here because of how remote it is.  Some of those winding roads are paved now, but it only takes a little imagination to think about what it might have been like for Mr. Cresap trying to build a road through those mountains to make it easier to get from Fort Cumberland to Fort Frederick.  I can’t imagine how hard and how isolated their lives must have been back then, trying to eek out an existence on poor soil.

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Just a bit further down the road is the Carroll chimney, the only part remaining of an 1836 steam powered sawmill. The boys disappeared while I was getting Zara out of the van.  I rarely worry about them when we are out and about around here, because there is seriously never anyone around.  It is the most amazing thing how you can drive around most of the afternoon and spot maybe one vehicle.  By the time I got to the chimney, David was casually waiting on me and the boys were nowhere in sight.  I asked where they were and he acted completely nonchalant.  It was the oddest thing. There was nowhere for them to be and I couldn’t believe they’d just wandered out of sight that quickly.  Neither is it like David to let them.  I called.  No answer.  I couldn’t figure out why David wasn’t more worried and suddenly I got desperate.  Just like that he grinned and said, “alright guys, come out.”

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I heard giggles and saw legs emerging from the chimney.  Seriously.  They love nothing more than to get me all worried about them!  Funny boys.

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The sun was dropping fast and the temperature was dropping even faster.  We were trying to make it to one more overlook and instead got thoroughly lost! It took us nearly two hours to drive home as we blindly followed our GPS hoping to get back out of the confusing forest.    It’s all part of exploring, you know!

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Last year around this same time we hiked Lovers Leap.

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We were a little disappointed because the hike was pretty short and very easy. We were looking for the “break into a sweat, hope you brought a snack” kind of hike.  But the view from the top was stupendous!  It’s the kind of thing where you know it’s going to be great, but then you get there and it almost takes your breath away!

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The wind tends to be really strong at the top … we read this little fact before hiking, but didn’t think it could be that bad.   They meant it.  The wind was so strong and the drop off so steep that it felt a little unsafe to have small children up there.  That day it felt like it could throw Liam off balance.  Not a good scenario when you’re at the top of a precipice!  We’ve opted out of taking guests with families, but the easy hike, great view, and name make it seem like a fun place to hang out as a couple with a blanket and a picnic basket!  I’ve heard there is great bird-watching there, too, especially when the birds are migrating.

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Do you have a  favorite way to explore the world with your family? I’d love to hear about it!

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WFMW: Norwex

Remember that post I did about my favorite cleaning products way back here?  Well, I have a new favorite.  When so many people came out of the woodwork to vouch yes for Norwex I decided to give it a try.  I ordered the enviro cloth and the window cloth online and I was hooked!  Seriously. This house has old windows that are impossible to clean.  No matter what I did they kept that streaky, old, cloudy look.  Now?  Let me tell you.  I whizz over them and they are sparkling clean!  Well, when I whizz over them they are.  There is a toddler in my house.  More often than not there are adorable hand prints and not so adorable pretzel smears on them.

I was getting ready for my family to come when Lindsey, the boy’s piano teacher, noticed me swiping down windows.  She looked in disbelief and said, “I want one of those for my house.”

Now I had a party and I want half the stuff in the book!  The funny thing is, I figured out I’ve been cleaning my windows wrong and it still worked. 😉 I can’t wait to try it the way it’s supposed to be done to see if I’m even happier.  I was using the enviro cloth really wet and then using the window cloth damp.  Literally, all I did was wipe.  I didn’t worry about water droplets left behind and as long as I didn’t clean it when the sun was shining on it, I had no trouble.  Now I’m hearing you usually leave the window cloth dry.  I’m anxious to try it but I might stick with my way since it works.  Having a damp cloth makes for less resistance which translates into less stress for my grouchy shoulder muscle.  I like being able to clean all the windows in the house without suffering for two days afterward.

I love that I don’t have to carry around paper towels and windex and a trash bag and that I don’t go through a roll of paper towels every time I do a thorough inside and out job!  Want to try them for yourself?  You can order them here.  My first recommendation is the basic package.  You can literally clean most things in your house with just this!  I’ve only been using mine for windows.  At the party I learned that people use the enviro cloth for anything from dusting to cleaning bathrooms to getting mechanic grease out of carpets. Yes, you heard right.  Just the cloth and water!!  How’s that for a simple cleaning routine?

If you’re lucky, you might even get help! If not with the scrubbing, at least with the fingerprinting.

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My party is still open until October 31st so if you order before then you can use Michelle Beachy for your host.  After October 31st, just skip the host name.

Happy scrubbing!

A Season of Change

There is something so cozy about those first gray days of autumn.  Much as I love summer and dread winter, I’m so grateful the colorful whirl of summer doesn’t drop off into the drab silence of winter in a grinding halt.  Autumn is such a nice transition.  I love the vibrant colors, digging out cozy sweaters, and eating comfort food.

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Most of all, I love the way life feels slower, even if it isn’t.  Spring feels so energizing and will forever be my favorite.  But there is something about autumn that feels as though the entire world is doing something restful … kind of the equivalent of a walk at sunset.  I love to watch leaves drift to the ground, the goldenrod waving in the wind, steam rising from mugs of hot tea.

I wish life would slow down a little bit, too.  It’s hard to imagine that some day we’re going to be in the autumnal season of life and feel like our days are long and slow.  Some day I’ll be up until 1:00 because of insomnia, not because I can’t get enough done in the daytime.  We’re living in summer right now with all it’s color and noise and activity.

As though life with three kids and homeschooling weren’t crazy enough on it’s own, David and I are signed up to to do a life counseling course this fall and winter.  David has been wanting to go ever since we moved here to help him with the work he is doing at camp.  I’ve been balking.  Mostly because I couldn’t figure out what to do with the kids and partially because I wasn’t sure how in the world I was going to read through the required reading during the school year. By the time I get to the end of the day my brain is fried, not ready to dig into complex thought patterns.  And thirdly, I was scared.  I’ve been to counseling before … not often but enough to know that you either resonate with the counselor or you don’t.  This is more of a group work thing and I’ve got a few fears about that, too.  But my one main fear was what would happen to me afterward.  While I’ve worked through a lot of the shattered pieces of my past, I don’t know what will happen if I need to revisit them.  I’ve learned to know God in incredible, life-giving, foundational ways in the last five years.  I would like to believe that the truths that have replaced the lies I believed are strong enough to let me talk about pain without becoming undone, but I don’t know that.  I want to learn more truth … but I don’t know about doing it in the middle of a school year when there is not time for phsyical, mental, and emotional rest.

Meanwhile, I’ve started on the daunting book list and the reading is phenomenal!  I have three books to read before the middle of November and I’ve been plugging away at the first for over a month.  I’m telling you, this is a problem.  I sit down to read and promptly fall asleep.  It’s not the kind of reading you can do when the kids are catapulting in the living room and you barely notice they’re saying they’re hungry because it’s captivating.  But it is, oh, so good.  My first book is, Cry of the Soul, by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman III.  Incredible book about emotions and how instead of calling them good or bad, we should let them guide us to the hard questions we’re really trying to ask.

Thoughts like these really resonated with me:

Because I want to eliminate struggle: “Therefore, don’t assume that resolving your turbulent emotions is the key to meeting God.  …. The absence of tumult, more than its presence, is an enemy of the soul.  God meets you in your weakness, not in your strength.  He comforts those who mourn, not those who live above desperation.  He reveals Himself more often in darkness than in the happy moments of life.”

Because I have had types of pain where this is true: “Another way to dull the intensity of our inward groaning is by attempting to avoid our emotions.  For many, strong feelings are an infrequent, foreign experience.  Their inner life is characterized by an inner coolness, bordering on indifference.  Unfortunately, this is often mistaken for trust.  In many circles passionate emotions are discouraged as unspiritual.  You are considered godly if you can handle difficult trials with a detached and apparently unruffled confidence.

“But this conclusion is wrong.  There are times when lack of emotion is simply the by-product of hardness and arrogance.  The Scriptures reveal that this absence of feelings is often a refusal to face the sorrow of life and the hunger for heaven; it is not a mark of maturity, but rather the boast of evil.”

And on page 24, “Emotions open the door to asking hard questions: Does life make sense? Is there any real purpose to my pain? Why must every relationship end? Is God good?  If we are to understand ourselves honestly — and, more importantly, know God — we must listen to our emotions.”

Emotions are really like a window to our soul.  They reflect the drives, passions and gods of our soul.  They are an invitation to see deep into our heart and repent of unholy motivation if we choose to think about the why behind the emotion that surfaced instead of only dealing with the emotion itself.  I was surprised, when I tried this the next time I felt crazy indignation rise up inside of me.  It’s so true.  So many times when we feel anger, it’s not even so much at the situation itself, but about something bigger.  Is life fair? Is God fair? Is God going to work things out for good in my life?

I’m excited about reading the rest of the list … assuming I can stay awake to do it!


“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.”– C.S. Lewis

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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(Are your clothes clean?)
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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!