Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Sugar, Sugar Go Away...


I work in the natural health industry and I’m a big believer in keeping things as natural as possible, but the reality of the situation is that society makes it really hard. For one, I don’t want my kids to have added sugar in their diets. Do you know how hard it is to avoid added sugar? And do you know how uneducated the general public is on how harmful sugar is? I’d be rich if I had a nickel for every time someone said to me, “A little bit won’t hurt them.” True, but it’s not a little bit when EVERYONE UNDER THE SUN wants to give my kids a “little bit” of sugar.

The thing is I take this mom role pretty seriously. It’s up to me to teach my kids how to be healthy. Our society equates sugary treats with happiness, which isn’t what I want to teach my girls – in a nation with declining health and an upswing in obesity and disease, I don’t think this mindset is working for anyone, really. Sugar goes hand in hand with dyes, processed foods, ugh…the list goes on, but that’s a whole different blog post altogether.
 
I want my girls to equate health with happiness. It’s kind of a predicament, because I feel like people take it personally when I tell them that I don’t want my kids to eat the treats they’re offering, like they slaved over the M&M’s they picked up at the Piggly Wiggly or something.
 
We all know that the sugar cycles never end. Birthday cake, Halloween candy, Thanksgiving gluttony, Christmas cookies, Valentine’s treats, Easter candy…and just when the holidays take a bit of a break, parade season starts. CANDY is EVERYWHERE. And this mom says, “NO.” I know that when I say no, people are judging me. I know that because they flat out say things to me, putting me on the spot and making me uncomfortable, when really, I’m doing what I believe is right for my kids.

And I give in to the peer pressure. Sometimes I let the girls have stuff just so I don’t have to hear the comments. And then I feel bad afterward, because I’m going against what I believe is best for my kids.

And sometimes, when I do stand my ground, someone makes me feel ok about it.

This past weekend we were at a birthday party for our nephew, Connor. While it may sound like I’m a Nazi when it comes to treats, I do let them have things for special occasions – especially homemade stuff. So cake made by Grandma Hoerth is the perfect occasional treat in my opinion. (This is the “little bit” of sugar I can get on board with.) Anyway, Connor and Justin’s sister Josie had picked up some toys and stuff for the girls to play with when they came over, which was really sweet. One of the Easter toys had jelly beans in it and Josie asked me, “Can the girls have these jelly beans?” To which I said, “No.” Josie replied, “Ok,” dumped the jelly beans, and gave the toy back to Elin.

Josie probably had no idea how good she made me feel in that moment. I felt like she respected the way I want to feed the girls, and didn’t make a big deal out of it at all. She didn’t say anything about my poor deprived children and she didn’t act like I was personally insulting her. Josie, thank you. You probably didn’t think it was a big deal, but it meant a lot to me! Of course, after dinner I let the girls have some cake – I mean, you’d be absolutely crazy to deny anyone Grandma Hoerth’s carrot cake. Damn.  

Ok, so this is just how Justin and I are choosing to raise our kids. And sadly, it’s not easy. We love certain treats ourselves, and the french toast we started making on the weekends is something we need to stop pronto… Anyway, I’m not judging anyone who gives their kids ice cream or candy or anything else. We all have our own beliefs, and most parents are doing the very best they can all of the time. We all do our best, and it's important to respect each other's decisions in how we choose to raise our kids. I'm hoping that I can teach my kids about good eating now, before they go to school and start getting all kinds of influences I have no control over.

I'm probably thinking of all of this with Easter baskets on the horizon. The girls are getting sunglasses, beach towels and a copy of Frozen, for the record. :)

Update: I wrote this post yesterday, and got a lot of feedback actually. It's always nice to know you're not alone. I started Googling around and found this article that I could also totally relate to. My kids aren't school age, but plenty of my friends' kids are. Check it out if you have time. It's great!

Why is Everyone Always Giving My Kids Junk Food?


 


 

 

 

Monday, April 7, 2014

Letters to Jamie: Remember You Can Say No


Jamie! Ok, so I know you know how excited I am that you’re having a baby. Before I had the girls I was so into everyone's baby advice...then, not so much. But I wanted to take some time to tell you things that I've found helpful since becoming a mom. Here's the first thing: it's ok to say no. 

Also, in those days following baby’s birth, as you adjust to your new life, remember that everything is normal. And nothing seems that way.

Babies are the single best blessing in this world. Hormones are not. They can wreak some serious havoc on what should be a really wonderful time. You lived in Chicago when I had the twins, so you didn’t get to witness my crazy hormonal rollercoaster, but you did get to see me after Tess joined us! And I was quite a site, wasn’t I? Oh my goodness, the first month of my maternity leave was the biggest sob fest ever. I was so in love with my blessings – that it left me in tears. I cried when Justin went to work in the morning. I cried when the girls woke up. I cried when someone asked me how I was. I cried when Mom stopped by. I cried when you stopped by. I cried when Justin got home. I cried myself to sleep and sometimes I would have a nice little wake up cry, too. Sure doesn’t sound normal, does it? But it was. It is. And after about two weeks, the crying let up considerably. After FIVE weeks, (I know that sounds like forever in this scenario), I had my first day with no tears. And it just got better after that.

I think everyone gets the baby blues to some degree. Mild, if they’re lucky, intense, if they’re not, or if they’re like me – crying fests peppered throughout pretty normal, happy days. (I hope you don’t get the blues at all!) But there are so many good things and blessings that come with babies that people forget about those times. You will, too. Tess’s birth is still so fresh for me that I remember how I felt those few months ago, but to be honest, the harshness of that hormonal rollercoaster is fading, too.

So listen – people will want to visit you during that time. The time when you are feeling like a hormonal, blubbering mess of crap. The time when you are wearing eyeliner from two days ago – when you felt like doing something nice for yourself, and eyeliner was all you had time for – and your sweat pants smell like spoiled milk. Because people love babies and they don’t remember their own case of the blues (which is a blessing), or they are the lucky people who “never felt that way”, or they simply think you want company. Maybe you will. I never wanted company that quickly after birth. I was too busy crying or loving on my kids or just trying to get accustomed to our new normal.

Here’s the thing: if people want to “stop in”, you can say yes, or you can say no. You don’t need to give any kind of explanation if you’re feeling it’s a “no” kind of day. Whether they’re coworkers, friends or even family (yes, even your awesome, sometimes overbearing big sister) – you can say no. Most people, if they are kind people, will understand. Also, babies are totally awesome, but they are pretty boring as newborns. People will get more out of a visit when the baby actually has his or her eyes open.  

Here’s my advice, though. There’s one person you can always let come over – Mom. You know how you can be so sick and unshowered and just horrible looking/smelling/feeling, and Mom will smile at you like you’re the most beautiful thing she’s ever seen? Or how you can just be a terrible, selfish, crabby person for a little while, and she will let you and never hold it against you? Or how, when you are engulfed in one of those sobbing-gasping-for-breath moments, mascara-stained tears running down your face, she lets you cry it out? She will do all of that and then some when she comes over…and you - looking at your own baby who may have cried every hour on the hour, leaving you exhausted and frustrated but filling up your heart at the same time - will finally understand where she’s coming from.

PS - You will have moments, too, where you just want to be alone, with your new baby, and Mom will get that, too. She’s cool like that.

Motherhood is the best thing to ever happen to me. I love my girls more than I ever thought possible. I can't wait for you to experience that love for yourself!! Love ya, Jamie Lou!
 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Where'd My Babies Go?





To my Twins:

They said it would happen. You'd grow up before my eyes, and yes, I see it now. I'm in the midst of it. You used to be babies, helpless little blobs with flailing hands and feet who needed our attention every moment of everyday, and now you're real, functioning little humans. And it's true what they say - even though the days have been long, I feel like I blinked and you got bigger in an instant. You can dress yourselves, brush your teeth, even run your own bath (and yes, I learned my lesson about not allowing you in the bathroom anymore alone after that one.) You drink your morning "coffee" like little grown-ups. It's so freaking cute. You know what would be awesome, though? If you started using your potty chair for what it's actually for - instead of somewhere to just sit with your leggings around your ankles and have one-on-one conversation time with Mom.

I do have to say - it must be pretty cool to have a twin. People used to say, "It must be so nice - they entertain each other!" Ummm, no. You didn't entertain each other for the first two years, which made parenting you guys TONS of work. But now, as you've gotten bigger, you are finally interested in each other. You have a constant companion, a built-in playdate every hour of the day.

You play together, you crack each other up, you help each other, you look out for each other. If Anna asks me for a snack and I hand her a banana, you bet she'll ask for one to bring to Elin, too. If Anna sleeps longer than Elin, Elin is constantly asking me when Anna will wake up. You love each other. At other times, you drive each other crazy. You steal toys from each other, yelling, "Mine, mine, MINE!" and though we teach you NOT to say that, I can understand that with a twin, it must feel like NOTHING is ever truly YOURS. But those are the breaks of twindom - I think the benefits of being a twin outweigh the negatives, by far.  

Watching you interact with each other as you grow makes me feel privvy to a special kind of relationship I've never known. People ask if you have a secret "twin" language, and I have to say no, BUT you do understand each other's incoherent babbling perfectly which is amazing in itself. Oftentimes, if I can't understand what one of you is saying, your twin will step in and explain it to me.

When you two were born, it didn't seem possible that I could ever feel any more love than in those first few moments of meeting you. But as you two continue to grow and change, my love for you is growing and changing, too. It's true what they say about a mother's love - there's nothing like it. And like every mom ever, I wish I could slow down time a little bit, and enjoy these sweet days that much longer. (But again, if you would actually use your potty chair, it would make everything that much better.)

I love you, ladies. Always, forever, more than you can imagine.
Xoxo,
Mama

 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best Kind of News!

Well, Tess, you better suck up this "baby of the family" thing for the next six months.

It is with GREAT excitement (like that crazy Tom Cruise jumping on the couch excitement) that I announce there will be a new baby in the family! And no, this one's not living with us.

My baby sister is having a baby! (If you could see me, you'd see a smile from ear to ear. Seriously, I totally have that pregnant auntie glow.)

I couldn't be happier. Congratulations Jamie and Todd Olsen! Love, hugs and prayers to you both! This auntie can't wait to get her hands on that baby...especially since I know he or she isn't coming home with me! :)



Jamie and Todd have been extra cautious about sharing this news due to Jamie's Type I diabetes. (Type 1 is the more serious, insulin-dependent diabetes, not to be confused with Type II, which can often be controlled with healthier eating/lifestyle habits.) So Jamie has her work cut out for her. Pregnancy is already tough on your body, but add in a pancreas that doesn't work on its own and there are a ton more levels involved. She's automatically classified as "high risk" and in addition to the normal OB appointments and ultrasounds, she also has to meet with her endocrinologist and dietitians regularly.

Jamie's pancreas decided to check out on her when she was eight-years-old, but she's always been so strong and on top of her health. I knew she was nervous about a pregnancy, but I also knew she'd do great, and she is! Despite the last few months of morning/all-day nausea and serious fatigue, she is doing awesome keeping her blood sugars under control, which is great, as they have a direct impact on the development of the baby. Jamie, you are AMAZING!!!

Todd and Jamie, love you both; so happy to share your wonderful news!




Thursday, March 6, 2014

Good Boy, Mama!

Alternative Title: The Best Moments of My Day

There are two times of day that have quickly become my favorites - sunrise, which is when the girls always seem to wake up (maybe I should invest in some room-darkening shades) and bedtime, when the girls are finally, after what is often an exhausting day, tucked safely into bed.

Kind of funny that the two moments that make me equally happy are when they are waking up (so I get to hang out with my girls - yay!!) and when they are going to sleep (so I get a break from my girls - yay!!)

Of course, the in-between time is full of wonderful little moments, as well.

Like lately, Anna's favorite thing to say is, "I'll help you, Mom!" I mean, is this a mom's dream, or what?

"I'm going to make breakfast," I say each morning.

"I'll help you, Mom!" She starts pushing her chair toward the stove to help.

"I need to change the laundry over," I'll announce.

"I'll help you, Mom!" She follows me and empties the dryer lint into the trash. She wants to help so much I had to teach her to do something. Justin also has her folding clothes.

"Tess needs a bath," I'll say every ten days. I mean every two days. Or somewhere in between. (Don't judge me, I'm busy.)

"I'll help you, Mom!" She grabs one of Tess's diapers to bring up to the bathroom. She really does this. And when it's time for her and Elin to get a bath, she grabs their diapers on her way upstairs, too.

Or the moments, lately, where Elin asks me to "play puppy".

Here is where I admit to the cyber world that I crawl around on my hands and knees and pant like a dog at least once a day when my daughter asks me to. She loves when I pretend I’m a puppy, and I love when she's happy, so yes, this is one of those things you never realize you’re signing up for when you become a parent, but you do it anyway. Because it’s simple and silly and it makes your kids smile.

And it cracks me up because Elin bends down, pats her legs, looks at me with a big smile and says, “C’mere boy! Good boy, mama! C’mere boy!”

I thought of correcting her that I’m a “girl” puppy, but I'm not a puppy at all, so really, where do you draw the line?

And then, there are the moments with Baby Tess, who is not so little anymore. She's growing by leaps and bounds! She's recently "found her voice" and is making for some very loud, screechy moments many times throughout the day. Sometimes it sounds quite terrible, but when we look at her, she's got a huge smile.


Who am I kidding? I love every moment.


(PS - After I posted yesterday, I had quite a few people reach out to me via comments, emails, FB messages and I wanted to say thank you! Thank you for the support, suggestions and opinions. I appreciate all of them!)




Wednesday, March 5, 2014

This One's About God

So….God.

I’m a believer. I was raised to believe, so I already had that foundation, but I’ve also, seriously, felt the true presence of God on two separate occasions in my life. Like, I felt Him so deeply that a feeling I’d never known stirred deep inside of me. It was honestly frightening to some degree, but it came with such an overwhelming feeling of peace, and comfort that I wasn’t alone, that I’ve longed for it again in certain instances.

The first time I ever felt it I was with my friend Luke, from high school. If he’s reading this, I’m sure this is news to him! We lost a very dear friend, Dan, our freshman year in college and it was very, very tough for a lot of us to deal with. A few months after Dan died, Luke and I were driving down a street in our hometown and we started talking about Dan. We both started crying so Luke pulled over and we got out and sat on the curb. (Do you remember this, Luke?) I remember sitting there, talking about Dan. Talking about life, death, friends, love. I remember crying. And then I remember, sitting on the curb of Jordan Rd, right where it became “country” at the time – it doesn’t become “country” at all anymore – and suddenly, I felt God. The only way I can describe the way I felt, really, is that for a fleeting moment, I was engulfed in an overwhelming feeling of peace. An unexplainable absolute feeling that things were the way they were supposed to be, even though in our reality, we felt completely the opposite. That feeling didn’t do much to ease my grief, but it did wonders in accepting the existence of a Higher Power.

The second time I felt God, I was in the bathroom at our old house, sitting on the floor in tears, holding what was probably my 20th negative pregnancy test. I don’t need to go into the details of the despair of infertility here, but I’ll just say that I was feeling beaten down. Like I had lost. Like I was being punished. I was so confused, so angry, so sad, so jealous. It was certainly one of the very lowest times in my life. And suddenly…that feeling. That all-encompassing peace that things were the way they were supposed to be. Now, those words don’t offer anyone in difficult situations much comfort, but that’s how I knew it was something much more meaningful. Because the wave of feeling that came over me felt good. At one of the worst points of my life, I had a fleeting moment where I knew, in my heart, that things would be alright.

I don’t know, it’s hard to explain.

The point is, I’m a believer. For many reasons, not just the two listed above. But I’m a believer who doesn’t jive so well with the church. I remember growing up at church, and while it offered a certain security based on routine and tradition, it lacked a lot of what I now know that God is. Love, compassion, generosity, kindness, hope, faith. Honestly, when I think of my experience with church, I think of people being nice, but never really knowing them. I think of going through the motions, of the way you’re “supposed” to believe. I think of a Pastor and Sunday School teachers who were very kind, but that droned on about stories and things that I just couldn’t relate to, no matter how hard I tried.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful that my parents raised us in the church. My parents are incredible people, and everything they have ever done for us has been motivated by their love. I know they were doing what they believed in and I will always respect that. And there were certainly things I liked about church. I thrive on routine to this day, so I took comfort knowing that every Sunday morning we’d be at church and Sunday School. I loved singing in the choir. I don’t have the voice of an angel, but I’ve got heart when I sing, don’t I, Justin? Ha! And the memories I have of church on Christmas Eve can’t be matched. They used to decorate with larger-than-life, floor-to-cathedral-ceiling evergreens, wrapped in white lights and decorated with rich burgundy ribbons. We’d sing Silent Night by candlelight and Christmas truly came alive for me in those moments.

Of course, church is made up of humans, and man oh man, are we flawed.  Believers and non-believers, alike. One of the lessons I learned as I was growing up is that a lot of those people who are droning on about how to live like Jesus and follow the Bible, aren’t exactly practicing what they preach. There is so much judgement out there. (Thank you internet, for opening my eyes to even more.) Judgement - the thing that we believers are supposed to leave to God. I don’t like politics and I really don’t like when my name, as a Christian, gets dragged through the mud by extremists on either side – but especially on the far right. I try never to get political, but I do have one thing to say in light of some of the ridiculous headlines lately (Arizona, I'm talking to you.) If you think any human doesn’t deserve equal rights, please, please, please don’t declare it in the name of Christianity. All people should be loved and treated fairly – I’m pretty sure that’s what Jesus would say, anyway.

Now, I'm far from perfect. I judge, too. I think it's in our nature and in our culture and it's hard not to judge sometimes. But I'm a work in progress, and I'm doing my best to become a better person every day of my life.

Ok, I’m getting so far off track here. My brain is a crazy place. Before I really start ranting, I’m going to quit. But I wanted to ask for advice. Because I want to raise my girls with faith. I want to teach them about an all-loving God, about a Higher Power that will bless them a million times over throughout this life. I want them to believe in miracles. I want them to know that when they feel like they’re at the end of their rope, there is always a loving source from which they can draw more strength, more hope, more anything. I want them to learn how vital it is to believe in something, and that it's so important to respect the beliefs of others. And I want to raise them to be good, loving, open-minded, kind, truthful people. Is that so much to ask?

So I am looking for creative ways to do that. Anyone out there that doesn’t do church, but teaches their children about God? I’m open to all and any ideas.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Play a Latte!

Ok, so as the Polar Vortex CONTINUES to crush us here in the Midwest (physically, mentally, emotionally), my kids are starting to climb the walls (Elin literally pushes off the heat registers and grabs for light switches, creating her own little climbing wall.) They beg to go outside, but as I heard a meteorologist say on the radio yesterday, it's dangerously cold out there. Like it has been for a record 45 days or something this winter.

So when we "go out" this winter, we literally need somewhere to "go in". If you have kids and live in the area, you know that it's slim pickings for indoor play facilities.

Enter Play a Latte.

Play a Latte is an indoor play land for the kids (think McDonald's minus the greasy smell that clings to your coat for days) with coffee drinks and bakery treats for mom and dad. The owner is Danielle Bartolazzi - who happens to be the wife of our builder, Dirk. We met the Bartolazzi's last March when Ben Bartolazzi sold our house in about 72 hours. So about one year ago, we'd never heard the name Bartolazzi, and since then, we just keep meeting more and more of them. It's a huge clan! They're good people.

Play a Latte doesn't officially open until this Monday, but Gretchen and I had a play date scheduled there today for Adi's birthday that Danielle and Dirk said we could come in for. Poor Adi got sick and Gretchen had to cancel, but I had been talking up the slide for the past week and needed to get the girls there - for their sanity and my own!

So I spent the morning feeding, changing, grooming and dressing three little girls, then piled them into the car so they could go burn off some energy at Play a Latte. I just met Danielle today, and she was so sweet. We kind of busted in on the middle of their coffee drink training, but they graciously welcomed the girls and I in with smiles and a delicious latte.

Bottom line, the girls loved it. However, for all the slide (or "schlide", as Elin likes to call it) talk, they were glued to the sandbox for pretty much the whole two hours we were there.


Have you heard of this kinetic sand stuff? Pretty cool. It looks like sand, and feels like sand, but it's not really sand. And it's A LOT less messy than real sand, too. I couldn't get the girls away from it!

I highly recommend checking this place out with your kiddos!

A couple of things to keep in mind:
  • The play area is for kids age 6 and under.
  • No shoes are allowed in the play area, but socks are required. They do have socks for sale if you find your child without some.
  • The cost is $4.25 per child, $3 for crawlers.
  • In addition to a full menu of coffee drinks, there were cupcakes, cake pops, turnovers and other pastries and treats for sale.  
Justin stopped by toward the end of our visit, and we had to drag Elin and Anna out of the place in tears - which is pretty much the equivalent of two thumbs up from these toddlers. On the way home they kept whining, "More schlide, more schlide..." You know, the slide they didn't even go down. I can definitely say we'll be returning for another play date soon!

Thanks for the hospitality, Bartolazzi's! Best wishes with this new endeavor!