Big Stuff is Happening

Oh my. This Fall has felt heavy with decisions to make and new ventures to plan. It has been busy, but busy is really not the right word to describe it all. It’s the meaning and weight behind it all that has made it feel all-encompassing. And, truly, it is only good and exciting stuff! No tragedy or trauma. And woven throughout it all, our daily lives have been quite sweet and almost…normal. Still, I had a hard time finding the energy to bring our stories to this space. I hope to regain momentum for this in the coming weeks, as our lives begin their drastic change. Documenting the change and sharing our experience with loved ones seems like it will be a comforting practice during this time. But, no more dancing around it all, here’s what’s been brewing…

  • I have been dedicating a good chunk of time to launching my business: Sweet Water Offering. I have been seeing many bodywork clients, as well as a few health coaching clients. I even taught a local class this Fall – a series on taking processed sugar out of your diet. It was a new challenge, but one I’ve found fun and invigorating. I’ve also been working on my website and strategizing for an online presence with my friend and business partner Katie Palmer. Here’s our site, if you haven’t seen it, yet: http://sweetwateroffering.com/.
  • We’ve been adjusting to TWO kids in school. They’ve both had a great year, but it’s been a new form of juggling for us to keep their school routines on track and organized and to make time for hearing about their experiences and helping them cope with new struggles (like organization at school and interpersonal situations). So far, I actually really enjoy having school-aged children, but it is a different experience than being a mom to littles. Also, Simeon has been adjusting to being an only child for 7 hours each day. He doesn’t like it very much. He likes having other kids around and usually goes in search of friends in out building!
  • Josh and I did a very intensive “anti-racism training” this Fall. It was a great experience that will surely effect our future approach to life and community. We were given a lot to think about and take to heart, as well as the opportunity to move forward in new ways.
  • Finally, most of our energy the Fall was directed toward our hopes of starting a new Christian community in Little Rock, Arkansas. We are covenant members of Reba Place here in Evanston, which means that we share our money and decision-making in common with our community. We committed to be here “until God calls us elsewhere,” with the understanding that we felt called to start a community someday. Well, “someday” is here! And, we have discerned a plan and received an unfathomable gift of support and sending in a unanimous vote from the 50 or so other covenant members. A large part of that discernment was deciding to buy a house in Little Rock that seems right for hospitality and is in the neighborhood we selected through prayer and conversation and meeting neighbors and walking around. Our community here is helping us to make this happen in a unique and creative way – just the sort of thing they are best at. And we are deeply grateful.
  • SO, recent weeks have been spent making an offer on a house, making plans for renovations, and setting up a transition plan for our family over the coming months. We plan to move at the end of January. There are a million other things I could say about the process and the unknowns and the hopes and the dreams and the people who are dreaming with us. But, this is enough for now.

Really, it all just feel so epic I have a hard time putting it into words: a new business doing things that I love, a chance to live near my family again for the first time since summer breaks in college, a location to call home, the promise of new community and new manifestation of God’s work in the world. The sadness and brokenness of the world swirls around us constantly, and I know it is bigger than I can fathom. Still, I feel a peace that we are walking on the path God has laid before us. And, in this moment, I feel excited about offering the simple gifts we have to others. Please pray for our family during this time. We know that excitement will give way to long days and lost routine and hard work and missing friends and wishing for familiar things. Recently, Jedidiah said that he wished he had more real adventure in his life. So, we’re all trying to look at this as a real adventure. Pray that we would be able to remember that perspective on the hard days.

 

And one more epic thing…I got my long hair cut off!Photo on 2014-10-16 at 07.59 #3

Summer 2014 Catch Up – Part 10 of 10 HOORAY!!!!

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I have been marinating on the idea of starting a holistic health business for a few years now. I get excited about bringing together my life experience, training, interests, and skills to help people to find natural ways of healing. I’ve been busy working on blog posts, a website, additional training, and networking to get this this going. Midsummer, I received a loan from our community to proceed with these plans. Soon, I’ll have a lot more to share with you! If you’re interested in being one of the first people to hear all about it, you can register here to be notified when things are up and running:   (And, feel free to share with others who might be interested!)

Click Here to Sign Up!

Simeon These Days

Our little Simeon is so much fun these days! He toddles around with his little elbows pulled back and his arms pulled up. He babbles on and answers questions in full-on babble conversations. He can say quite a few words and make animal sounds. He loves to dance every time he hears music…and sometimes when he doesn’t. He just calls out “dan! dan!” (his word for dance) and starts bouncing up and down. He loves to explore new places (especially other people’s homes), but he likes to come and “check in” with momma every few minutes, too. He is learning new skills – stacking and knocking down, stomping one foot, putting items in containers – new things all the time! And, he’s just plain hilarious!! I could sit and watch him all day. I love seeing him interact with the world around him. It’s almost as though I can see his brain working and understanding new things.

Today, at the grocery store, Lilia showed him a doll, and he said the word “baby” for the first time. It was perfectly clear. Since then, he’s said “baby” several more times. Later in the day, I had him in the carrier and was picking up around the house some. I picked up one of Lilia’s dolls to put away, and Simeon got excited and wanted to hold it. Then, he hugged the baby and fell asleep. When I laid him down a few minutes later, he stirred until I handed him the doll again. Here are few pictures of these sweet moments…

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And, here’s a picture of Simeon enjoying his two favorite foods: liver and bone marrow. No joke.

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And one more sweet one of Simeon cuddling with “Yi-yah” and “Dawdo”…

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Meaningful Work

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Over the past few years, I’ve been learning to do Thai Bodywork. I attended classes, completed many practice hours, and performed several final massages on instructors, until I was approved to practice. In September, I received my official certification!

I’ve been starting off a little slow on the business side, but now I’m feeling geared up to give this aspect of my life more time and space. I wanted to wait until our baby boy was a year old, and here we are! So, Josh helped me to take some photos and put together a website: http://namwaanthaibodywork.com/. He also helped me to put together a facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/NamwaanThaiBodywork.

Thai bodywork is a unique art – there is pressure and motion and stretching and active participation. I love doing this kind of work. I like the puzzle of hearing people’s pain issues and then finding ways to help relieve the pain and tension in their bodies. I love that I get to work face to face and one on one with people in a way that connects the physical, spiritual, and emotional. I feel rejuvenated after each session, not drained or bored. I’m so thankful that I get to do this amazing work as a job!

Over the past few years, my interest in natural health and healing has grown and grown. The pursuit of the bodywork training has been part of that journey. I have also become particularly interested in the area of food as medicine. I am insatiable for learning as much as I can about food, systems in the body, and chronic illness. I am already working on a plan to expand my natural health business to include health coaching and perhaps functional diagnostic nutrition, a field in functional medicine. I am praying and reading and hoping with everything in my being that God will bring things together and open up this path for me.

I have also enjoyed attending a few births. I have another coming up in February. But, as I have examined the possibility of being a doula or midwife, I have not felt a further leading in that direction. I rejoice to accompany friends during the births of their children, but I have reservations about making this my work during this tender phase of parenting young children. Birth work is unpredictable, and steals me away for long periods of time. Josh and I are open to more of this when our children are older. Some say midwives in the past were often grandmothers, as that stage gave them more freedom to be gone for long hours and the wisdom to assist younger women after having gone through the childbearing experiences themselves.

Meaningful work is hard to come by. And, I realize not everyone gets the privilege of finding it. I am daring to dream a bit here. It is not what I would have expected to do with m life at 18 or even 25, but this path feels congruent with the person God made me to be and with how I see the world as a follower of Jesus. I hope to be able to use the skills I learn to gift the downtrodden and lonely and heavy burdened, as well.

Will you pray with me as I take these first steps down a new road?

What We’re “Into” These Days

Jedidiah has always been a kid who gets really “into” something for awhile, be it trains or dinosaurs or ninjas. I thought it would be fun to take a little inventory of what each person in our family is “into” right now…I think it’ll give you a little glimpse into everyday life around here.

We’ll start with Jedidiah, since he’s the original inspiration for this post…

  • Beyblades – Jedidiah learned about these modern spinning tops from friends at school. Thanks to Christmas money from Memaw, he finally got a few of his own…
  • P1000812 P1000813 P1000814Legos – he can now follow the directions and build complicated sets with little or no help. I’m so impressed with this skill!
  • Dragons.
  • Slight the Fox – this is a series of chapter books Jedidiah has dictated to me and I have written. The main character is a skinny fox that Jedidiah thinks of as very much like himself.
  • Pokemon – Jedidiah is very newly excited about Pokemon and excited about the Pokemon gift he got for Christmas from Uncle Jason!
  • Rainbow loom.

And now, what Lilia is into…

  • Drawing and coloring – she is amazing. AMAZING. She draws fantastic pictures, colors carefully in the lines and in the appropriate colors. I never taught her these things, she just naturally likes them. She makes me heartwarming “MOM and LILIA” drawings multiple times a day. I love it.
  • Cooking – Lilia can make real food – fruit salads, dessert balls, hot chocolate, oatmeal, nachos. She’s even made up her own recipes for cookies and they’ve turned out pretty good. She thinks of all the ingredients that are important, and she rarely misses one. She says things like, “Sweet things always need a little salt, too!” She loves to contribute to potlucks. She got a new cookbook for Christmas, and she is more inspired than ever. She made a milkshake yesterday and said, “This is the best smoothie I’ve ever had!” Poor child, she’d never had a milkshake before…
  • Legos. (Thanks to Memaw, she now has some of her own.)

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  • Dolls -particularly her new bath baby.
  • Puzzles – she’s suddenly super-good at them. Blows me away.
  • Typing on the computer.
  • Strawberry shortcake.

 

Simeon is “into” some simpler things…

  • Forks – Simeons LOVES forks. He would prefer to eat with one in each hand. He will steal yours, if you let him get close enough. He will not let anyone feed him. At all. And, he would rather not eat anything if he does not have a fork. If you take one away (like when it’s time to get down from the high chair), be prepared for much crying…
  • Writing utensils (pens, crayons, markers) – You thought he cried a lot over that fork? Just wait until you try taking away a marker…red face, shaking, a complete broken heart. Simeon LOVES to color, but he still also loves to eat the utensil he was coloring with. It’s difficult to navigate. Lilia got him a little magnadoodle for Christmas, and that’s a pretty good compromise.
  • Dancing.
  • Saying “bye bye” anytime he or anyone else puts a coat on.
  • His siblings – he now calls their names when he wakes up in the morning: “Yi-yah!! Diah!!”

 

Josh is into…

  • Playing his mandolin.
  • Reading about community.
  • Remodeling the furniture store where he works.
  • Photography.

And, Candace…

  • Hot water with lemon.
  • Bone broth.
  • Simple handicrafts.
  • Reading, watching, listening to everything she can about health and healing through traditional food.
  • Soaking up the sweetness of a chubby baby, a feisty little girl, and a creative first grader.

 

It’s a good life.

 

July Book Review: The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby & Child Care by Sally Fallon and Thomas Cowan

The Nourishing Traditions Book of Baby and Childcare is a comprehensive handbook dealing with nutrition and baby care. The book begins by lining out a thorough diet for men and women to take on long before trying to conceive a baby. Fallon and Cowan make a case for the many health problems our standard American diet has caused in our children. They proceed to line out each important nutrient and to recommend the best sources for each vitamin and mineral. Most of these sources are animal products, including butter, cream, liver, and meat. Fallon and Cowan are very critical of the disadvantages of a vegan or vegetarian diet.
These nutrition themes run throughout the book and will be familiar to those that have read other books by Fallon. The daily baby care sections of the book take a more moderate turn. The book does not espouse one parenting philosophy but recommends finding a middle-of-the-road compromise that fits well with your own needs and personality. Fallon and Cowan even part with La Leche advice, asserting that sometimes breastfeeding may not be the best route or may not work out. They recommend a traditional foods homemade formula that echos the themes of the nutrition advice that they outlined earlier. Of course, they remain advocates for breastfeeding, especially if the mother is eating a traditional diet rich in fat, trace minerals, and fermented foods.
The authors give traditional foods recommendations and recipes for feeding infants and children. Again, they emphasize the importance of fat, vitamin A, trace minerals, and protein in every aspect of development – brain, bone, muscle, attention, etc. They suggest that feeding our children well will alleviate many of the issues that parents and children now face.
Fallon and Cowan end the book with some revolutionary ideas about illness and healing. In addition to providing some homeopathic and herbal remedies, they shed light on the meaning of illness and suggest a necessary paradigm shift in the way we approach healing.
Like any book, I cannot say that I fully agree with all that Fallon and Cowan purport. But, that is not the point, anyway. I think this is an amazing book because it opens the mind and the heart to a whole new way of seeing health and development. I could not stop reading this book. In fact, I stayed up until 4 am one night caught up in the excitement of it’s pages. I have spent the time since reading it making changes in my diet and in my children’s diets. I have made traditional baby foods for Simeon, and he loves them. I have been taking joy in eating simple, whole foods like butter, cream, and bone broth. And, I feel more full of energy than I’ve ever felt. I feel like my body is getting nutrients it was starving for. And, I’ve LOST weight.
If you read this book, be prepared to feel bothered or even offended at times. Be prepared to open your mind to the OPPOSITE of what you’ve always thought. And, in the end, I can’t say you won’t have a laundry list of things you didn’t agree with, but you might also open up to something new and helpful. Honestly, I think this book may be pointing out the crux of the problem with modern health. If you don’t read this book (maybe you don’t have kids and it doesn’t apply to you), I recommend looking into some of Fallon’s other books.

Seven Months

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My baby is growing up, and I’m in denial. I just wish he could stay a little baby forever! He has been the sweetest, happiest baby I could imagine. In fact, sometimes he is so sweet and happy that I get absorbed in the rest of life and almost forget about him! He generally sleeps really well, he is content playing by himself, and he has three other family members in our home who love and entertain him. When he wakes up bright and early, Jedidiah usually wakes around the same time. They play together in the living room, and I often go back to sleep.

But this morning, Simeon woke up bright and chatty at 4 am…quite a bit before his big brother usually wakes up. So, I got a special hour with babbly, smiley Simmy. I LOVED the one on one time, getting to kiss and cuddle all those amazing rolls of chub and listen to all the precious new baby sounds. I almost felt sad in that moment that he has been such a good sleeper – nothing bonds people like middle of the night time. I actually thanked God for the early weeks of Simeon’s life when his fussiness and gassiness gained him lots of one on one attention.

As I interacted with this almost-eight-month old baby this morning, I noticed how much he has changed and grown. He is big and healthy and strong and full of life! He is days away from crawling. He is affectionate and loves playing sweet little baby games. He seems like he’s been around for awhile now, like I know him. I was able to tell him stories about himself, like I do with the big kids. And, when he turned the corner to sleepiness again, I noticed every little sign. I relished the moment that he rolled his chubby self toward me, rubbed his eyes, and cuddled close to me to fall asleep. And, as I’ve done for nearly eight months now, I cupped my hand over his brow, and he nestled his face into my hand and let sleep overtake him.

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In general, Simeon remains a happy, giggly guy. But, he’s been a little fussy the past few days. I’m contributing this partly to the hot weather we’ve been having (the first hot weather of Simeon’s whole life!) and to his frustration about not quite being able to crawl, yet. He may also be working on more teeth or just feeling a little mommy-clinginess. When he’s fussy, he’s happiest to be wrapped up in the mei tai and to join me as I wash dishes or pick up the house.

Simeon is our first baby who LOVES to eat! (I just read a book that I’ll review soon about feeding babies. This book convinced me that the reason my other two kids did not like food was that I started with the wrong foods.) Making baby food has been a good way for me to connect with Simeon. He  gets really excited about each new dish I present to him. He loves bone broth, liver pate, blended veggie soup, mashed sweet potato, mashed banana, avocado, soft-boiled egg yolk, and homemade plain yogurt. Last night I made him bone marrow custard, so he’ll get to try that today! I am convinced that these traditional and nourishing foods are a great start for our baby boy, and he’s joining in the fun with enthusiasm!

Simeon continues to be a social baby, with eyes especially for his daddy and siblings. He seems really smart to me, like he understands a lot and communicates well. I think he may be an early talker. He continues to “use the potty” a couple of times each day. When he’s excited about something, he bounces up and down with a giant smile on his face. He hasn’t quite hit the separation anxiety phase, and I’m praying he can hold off until after our trip to visit grandparents in August.

As I say every time, this sweet boy is a joy & gift to our family! He absolutely melts my heart.

Sim Seven Months

Grain-Free Peanut Butter Waffles

These are high protein, grain free, dairy free, and kid-friendly! We made them this morning, and I’m declaring it my new favorite waffle recipe. Enjoy!

  • 1 banana (mashed)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • butter/oil for greasing the waffle iron

Use a hand-held or stand mixer to beat the peanut butter until a little fluffy. Then, add each ingredient in order, scraping the sides of the bowl as you go. Heat your waffle iron, then brush it with melted butter, and make waffles according to the directions on your waffle iron.

They freeze well – then, just reheat in the toaster or toaster oven!

June Book Review: Cooked by Michael Pollan

Josh gave me the book Cooked by Michael Pollan for Mothers Day. I have loved everything I have read by Michael Pollan, but this book may have been my favorite. He has a way of taking very simple, fact-focused subject matter and making it mesmerizing. I mean, the entire first section of this book was about how barbecue is made, and somehow it was a page-turner!

The premise of the book is that cooking may be of central importance in many different realms of our lives: health, connecting with people, changing the American food system, faith, and re-connecting with creation. Pollan writes that, at some point, he realized that many of the questions he had been asking himself for years ended up having the same answer: Cook. These included questions about how to improve his families health, how to connect with his teenage son, how an ordinary person can help reform the food system, how to achieve a greater degree of self-sufficiency in our dependent culture, and how to connect to the natural world and understand our role in it.

Pollan uses the four classical elements (fire, water, air, and earth) to organize the content of the book. The first section chronicles the history of cooking meat over a fire and, in particular, whole hog barbecue. The water section describes the historical advancement of cooking in a pot with liquid (often water or broth). The air section is a thrilling and mouth-watering story of bread-baking (I unfortunately read this section while taking a break from wheat – it was quite torturous to read about artisan bread during this time.) The final section was about fermentation, and was quite illuminating about the make-up of our bodies and the microflora that call us home.

The “earth” section on fermentation was the part that has changed my perspective on food and life. I have been a proponent of good bacteria and eating live culture foods for awhile now, but this greatly expanded my understanding and inspired me to try some new ventures. I was especially taken with Sister Noella, the cheese-making and microbiologist nun.

I highly recommend this book, and I highly recommend cooking!! The book also includes one recipe for each element. I especially look forward to trying the bread recipe…

It’s Flu Season! My Formula for Warding Off Illness…

Over the last few years, we have started being diligent in taking vitamins and giving our children vitamins and food supplements regularly. Josh and I both believe that it’s made a real difference. I was especially intense in my methods in the final weeks of pregnancy and in the first weeks of little Simeon’s life. Praise God, all our efforts seem to be paying off at this point. Though sickness feels as though it’s swirling around us, as neighbors report colds and stomach bugs and the dreaded flu, we have (so far) avoided most of it.

Anyway, I thought it would be fun to share the list of things that our family does to prevent illness and to fight off a cold at it’s beginning. I’d love to hear what you do, too!

  • Vitamin C. My mom started this habit for me years ago. When there was any hint of illness going around or in our house, my mom made sure we were taking our vitamin C. If we actually  came down with something, she’d have us take it every hour! Josh and I take a capsule (1000 mg) and the kids take a chewable (500 mg). We often use Emergen-C, too. 
  • Probiotics. Capsules for Josh and I and chewables for the kids…during pregnancy I took a much stronger version. I also drink Bragg’s apple cider vinegar mixed with water for the additional probiotic value. And, we try to include probiotic foods in our diet regularly.
  • Fish Oil. The kids take a liquid with a little orange essence. They actually love it and never complain about it. I take a fermented cod liver oil that actually isn’t so bad.
  • Whole Food Supplement. We have taken various brands over the years. This year we’ve been trying Juice Plus. Josh and I have been taking the adult version, and the kids have been taking the chewables.
  • Homemade Chicken Stock. I believe in this old remedy. We make our own stock regularly. You can learn more about that here: Nourished Kitchen.
  • Massage. It’s kinda quirky, but I have seen a big difference from massaging the sub-occipital muscles and the anterior neck muscles (especially the sternocleidomastoid and the scalenes). I really have no theory to back this up; I just think it helps!

These are the main things that we do. Of course, we also have favorite teas and herbal supplements for specific issues, and we try to limit the spread of germs from person to person and stay hydrated. And, we often take vitamin D if we think we are getting sick. But, honestly, I think that these six that I listed might just make most of the difference. Here’s hoping for more health in 2013!