Sunday, September 30, 2018

Our sweet girl turned 7 this month!!! We celebrated with twirls and girls and teacups and cupcakes (sugar and gluten free oh boy hahaha!) This was ALL her idea - I promise - not her former ballerina moms idea. She had such a sweet time!

Just like any good birthday party day - our day started with chaos lol. Couldn't find her other ballet shoe (which is weird because my house is REALLY organized 😇 JK)

Princess girl waiting for her guests!

Dug up my old point shoes and used them as decor! Perfect haha!

My mother in law made these adorable little tea pot boxes with her Cricut! 

We began with a tea cup gift exchange and then the girls used those teacups for the tea party luncheon 

We had a special REAL ballerina guest come and teach the girls ballet moves and a dance - TOO precious


Somehow Luke got in this picture 😅

Juliana's new diet is fructose free - and they would prefer that means all forms of sugar and sugar alcohol. So that leaves us with some stevia and dextrose. They were topped with whipped cream!


Happy Birthday to our precious and beautiful girl. She continues to grow and learn even with the curve balls thrown her way. I can't wait to see what God has in store for her life. While we continue to beg that it would be one with less physical pain, we know God will be faithful to her even in that. Love you Juliana 💞

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Wednesday, July 18, 2018


Welcome to my blog, where I post 3 times a year and can't figure out to change my picture so it looks like I have 2 little kids still 😌 This is my life these days. It's a good thing to be busy living life that you don't have time to write about it but I do miss blogging. Although the audience of people that listen to the blog posts I write in my head every day are very impacted hahaha.

The reason those sayings and videos on facebook about the days being slow but the years so so short are so accurate is because that's exactly how it feels in this stage. Like you're always a little bit dizzy from the amount of needs placed upon you. When several very little people depend on you for everything it can leave you feeling like a wrung out sponge yet there are so many moments during the day I wanna cry "freeze!!!" because the snuggles, the adorable conversations and their complete adoration for me is something I wish I could bottle up and never forget. Jeremy and I were talking about how in this stage of parenting the needs are so physical. They need us to care for their physical needs during the entire day (even the basics of wiping and eating) but I know the years are coming where that will transition to very emotional/spiritual/psychological needs and I'm not sure that will be any easier. I may want to cry "take me back to when you needed me to wipe your nose!"

As a mom it can be incredibly overwhelming to be the caretaker for so many littles that have oh so many needs. A friend of mine recommended a blogger who has titled her series "Overwhelmed by my blessings" I still need to check it out, but I already resonate with the title. It can feel wrong to be frustrated, overwhelmed or resentful towards little people you so desperately love and wanted. Then I think the guilt sets in about how we "should" be feeling about motherhood and comments like "You're gonna miss this/You've got your hands full (yes thanks I KNOW, as one of my kids pulls my shirt down and the other drops their drink)".

I personally think there is a huge problem we have in our culture and era and it's what I believe is one of the biggest causes of moms feeling depressed, anxious and overwhelmed. I think of the saying we like to throw out there in our hashtags #ittakesavillage and as much as I have experienced that from time to time (for example when my fellow mom friends boost me up through our group text or my friends come over and help me fold laundry!) But I think we so badly want that saying to be a truer reality than it is. Because the reality is that unlike many decades before us we are more isolated and alone in our large houses with no true village right there to help. I've visited villages in several countries and there's always so many things that strike me. The pace of life is slower. Much much slower. No running to dance, soccer, art, and other activities. The kids grow up running to and from the different huts and or mud houses and learn more basic life skills like collecting things, maintaining fires and playing games. I'm not saying that the amazing skills and opportunities our kids have to experience where we live is a bad thing, it's a wonderful and I've personally benefited from it. But I do think it can quickly become a prison we feel stuck in.

But the biggest difference to me is the communal living.

The village depends on each other and the families are in such close contact I can see how the older lady in one home can easily step over to help the younger mom. By no means is village life something I'm trying to say in perfect or glamorous haha I love my home and after a couple hours without heat or ac I'm pretty much a wimp. BUT we live further apart from people not only physically but emotionally than what was normal in previous times and I do believe it's taking it's toll on us. We don't depend on our neighbors or live in community with them. More often than not we are chordal and kind but pretty much keep our distance out of privacy. I feel it necessary to note that I have seen pockets of this kind of communal living currently in places here and it looks awesome! But I honestly think for the majority of Americans we live so isolated in our houses with our 1,2,3 or whatever kids and could even go the whole day without talking to another adult. How can that not be depressing?! We don't live with our extended families like many cultures still do to this day. Caring and being with our older parents or grandparents.

We may value privacy and boundaries more than we value community and relationships.

My husband is currently overseas in a middle eastern country and he said he loves that EVERY person he has met has a stack of cushions in their house ready in case someone is traveling through or a friend needs to stay the night. This post may be all over the place from motherhood to community but I think the 2 are so interwoven. I do think that all the younger moms like myself long for those of a generation or two up from us to help guide us in this. This phase of life IS heavy. And having others there to come alongside and walk with you in invaluable. I think it's why social media is such a big thing for moms (well everyone actually) but it makes one feel connected to the outside world when confined in your own home - whether it's sick kids, naps times, homeschooling, the list goes on. But now we've got moms - myself included - with heads in their phones because we are so desperate for community but I'm not sure we can articulate that that is what we are seeking when we are on our phones, yet it's not the best source of community we can get.

The times when I've felt this communal living my heart is SO FULL. The load is so much lighter when carried with you. I don't really have a solution to the way our culture/era and model of a nuclear family is since most of us aren't going to move close by to our friends and do life together because we really do value our space and privacy. Yet we need to figure out how to be ok breaking the social norms and live the hard parts of life with people and being ok asking others to come into our space during the mundane tasks. To end this with a nice positive - this week when my kids were sick my friend came over within an hour of me telling her what was going on. She knew I couldn't leave the house and brought broth, meds and a hug. This is what we are craving! God made us to live in community with others and our hearts feel so seen and heard when we live that out.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Juliana Medical Update

It's been a while since I did an update about Juliana. I think about blogging about her more, but I'm often met with my weariness in writing out this situation that continues on. She's 6.5......which means it's been 5 years since I first noticed something was not right in the "hiccups" she had. The first several years held so many medical tests and medications it felt like we lived at the doctor. As options ran out the appointments also slowed down. While I'm grateful for her sake we don't go as often, it's a sad feeling to know we've hit the end of the line. At this point, no one has any more ideas or options for her and yet her bad spasms remain. 😒We met with a neurosurgeon at UCSF last month to talk about a much more invasive option. It's called a VNS device, commonly used in children and adults with epilepsy. The device is surgically placed in the chest with chords going up into the neck.

It is activated when someone is having a seizure to stop it the seizure - the device can often even detect what the heart does before seizures and stop them before they even begin. Think of it like a room of chaotic kids and then the teacher claps their hands. It kind of *claps* everything back into order and typically stops the seizure. Since she doesn't have seizures, and they don't know what her body is doing, we went into the appointment pretty skeptical. No real surprise the neurosurgeon (rabbit trail...........haha never in all the appointments have a met a doctor so well dressed haha! nicest suit, shoes and watch I've probably ever seen......chaaaaaching. jk. kinda) anyways, he was all for it. He told us he does dozens of these a year and considers them very "low risk".........however he said himself that he's a brain surgeon so everything seems less stressful than that. The doctor who came in before him was very hesitant about the idea. They said they've never seen something like what Juliana's body is doing so it's basically like flipping a coin and hoping it works. After a couple days praying about it we just don't feel like it's the best option for her right now. The device is risky to remove so if it doesn't work we are looking at two possible surgeries that have no guaranteed benefit.

 On the polar opposite side of implanting a VNS device, we've been beginning the process of working with a doctor similar to a functional doctor. We shipped off an at home testing kit that included her blood, hair and saliva. Collecting that one drop of blog from her finger, you would have thought I was cutting her arm off. We all made it out alive 😌. They will check a variety of things that is too confusing to type out. We aren't sure what will come out of that but maybe something that can help.

These past few weeks have unfortunately been really bad for her which is probably why I am blogging about it. Where often we get 4 days between spasms she's been having them 2 days apart then for a solid 2 days they are going. sigh. It's hard that as she grows she's able to tell us the pain they cause and how she wants them to stop. Before she was talking so well she couldn't express that so there was a thought that maybe they didn't bother her so much. We are really careful to not make it into a big deal. Kinda like "awe man sorry those hiccups hurt! They will be gone soon I'm sure" -- hopefully I hide the anxiety they still give me watching her spasm like that. She's also going to have to grow knowing this is something that we pray about and yet the Lord is allowing this to happen in her life - I pray that we can lead her through that well as it's exactly what I've had to go through for the last 5 years! There's a lot the Lord is still teaching me about this ongoing burden that I'll share soon.

Her EOE (esophagus disease) remains the same and we take scopes regularly to check the inflammation level. She's only Gluten and Dairy free right now and it's made life much much easier for mama!!

❥Encouraging things about our sweet Juliana❥
She's growing bigger and taller!
Her speech has improved so so much. She's been working with the same therapist for 3 years and she's been working with her Apraxia so well. 
She's doing so well in school :) Writing and reading!
She's in swim lesson and ballet and loves both! 
She's the BEST big sister around and loves her brothers :) We are so lucky to have this lil lady in our family. 

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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

My Love for the Enneagram

At our work we have engaged with many "personality tests" over the years to help our people with their own personal growth and awareness as well as aiding team dynamics and effectiveness overseas. We've seen that these can help us and them, not by putting people in a box but seeing where their strengths and giftings are and setting them up for the most success to use those. I am a big fan of personality tests, and while I agree that they can sometimes put people in boxes (especially when people use comments like "of COURSE you would do that, you're an xyz type!") but I do believe that overall they can be so helpful in getting insight as to tendencies we have in responses to situations.

Our newest fav and by far the one that I believe is going to be the most popular and effective is called the Enneagram. The Enneagram divides it's types into 9 numbers each with ways that that type typically behaves when healthy, stressed or in conflict. There are books about the enneagram (I've heard amazing reviews about this one ). And probably my favorite - PODCASTS. My favorite right now is the Typology podcast ( Click here ). I have been getting more and more obsessed with podcasts lately. I think it's because I never have time to read -- I mean.....I wish I could say I was ever a reader but I wasn't.....the TV is just too good 😅 insert that Jim Gaffigan clip about the radio wishing it could be a TV here hahaha :). And now when there is book I actually WANT to read the only time to read that book is at night and I fall asleep on the first page. So PODCASTS have become my new bff. I can turn one on while I am unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, driving, etc. I LOVE them. But what I love about Typology is that the host often interviews panels of people with a variety of responses to their type on the enneagram and it helps the listener figure out if there are traits they identify with or don't. I'm listening and it's crazy to hear a panel of people talking like they were in my own head!

I can't recommend the Enneagram test enough - it's $12 and SO worth it!! I know there are free versions of the enneagram and even an App but I personally like the Rheti the best it's 144 questions so leave yourself enough time. This is not a paid ad I promise haha. It has helped us so much especially in the last few months as J and I have been able to dive deeper into our own and each others. It just gives you some awareness for yourself and others and the different ways we tend to go through experiences. It can help you put the pieces of the puzzle in place for your own head as well for the way you're feeling or why you can't seem to move on from a situation or even the decisions you tend to make in parenting or relationships - basically it's just helpful for LIFE :)

Go take it! Click on Buy a code for the RHETI test) OPEN ME

You'll get results that look something like this and I highly recommend printing them out and reading through the material it's well done.

Also for more fun, a sweet friend shared with me that Sleeping At Last created a song for each enneagram type - some amazing stuff here

Here's a preview of one of their amazing songs ↟ about type 2.

I want to share more about them along with my own type in a future post!

Enjoy Friends!

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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The last couple weeks I’ve been on a little social media break - cliche I know - BUT I was encouraged as some of my other friends were doing this and it’s one of those things you always think “of course I’m not addicted to my phone or social media or whatever” but until you try it’s hard to know. 

This was really good for me for a lot of reasons - realizing that it sucked me in was something I just needed to be honest about. 10 Min is nothing when scrolling (yet I coudln't seem to finish my bible study *insert that questioning face emoji haha*). I also wanted to be aware of my mindset after being on social media, was it more positive or lifted up or brought down and discouraged. I think about when we grew up and there was just no access to EVERYONE'S life like there is now. We knew what our friends and family had going on, but not how Cindy the friend from high school’s party went last week. I think there's obviously positives to that, it connects us to people from all over but it also gives our minds a influx of info that we probably don't always need. And of course.........we can be anything we want on social media which I do believe is part of it's appeal to us. We can present ourselves however we want yet only those who are walking through life with us know if those things hold true.

Before I sound like I’m on a high horse of ANY kind let me just say, it was pretty eye opening how often I would reach for my phone when waiting or bored for even a second -- or even more honestly not only when bored but when feeling overwhelmed or anxious. There is nothing about our phones or social media that is inherently bad, but I do think we need to pay attention to what, how and when we use them. I even had to delete the Facebook and Instagram app off my phone. 

As with anything, I think there as so many parts of social media I adore. Pictures and baby videos from those I love, connections with people around the world, and being able to gather people together for causes or prayers. I think especially if you are a stay at home mom those things can help you feel connected to the outside world haha. But I also know I have given social media too little credit for it's addictive nature. Realizing that we can have sweet family moments, fun vacations or special outings without everyone knowing and --- gasp haha -- it was wonderful! We remember them and have those memories. 

I don't intend to block social media or never go back but having a little break like that brings so many things to the surface that I think (for me!) were important to discover. I actually did have more time for reading, cleaning or being outside which is again embarrassing cause it shows how much time I was allowing for scrolling. I'm hoping that I can reengage with a much healthier and appropriate view of social media because those baby pictures are too hard to resist!

***this is written as my own personal experience with social media and in no way is meant to be applied to everyone***

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The GAPS diet

I've recently embarked on something called the "Gaps" diet. It would take pages to describe the intricacies that make this diet unique so I'll leave you with a link. It was created by a neurologist to help treat her autistic son through nourishing soups and easy to digest foods. This diet is not for weight loss purposes but is rather a healing protocol that puts your body through a very intention process to begin healing many many issues including digestive disorder (extreme or minor), leaky gut, skin conditions behavioral issues, and so on. The base is homemade stock/broth made from well sources animals. With that stock you make soups with easily digestible veggies and boiled meats and graduallllllllly add foods in over the course of several weeks or months depending on your body.

Someday I will write out my health journey but it's hard to write that out so publicly! I have been wanting to do this diet for years after seeing the success of many I know going through it. My brother went through the entire program (which is a 1-2 year process) and had amazing results - I won't share his health story for him lol. Timing hasn't worked out until now because I was either pregnant or breastfeeding and can't be done during those times. I knew after the holidays was a good time to embark especially while it's still winter and soup is actually appealing. 

However, after all the waiting the idea of starting this was daunting to say the least. As the primary cook of my family I knew it was going to be hard to cook meals for them and then eat my soup. I began on January 8th which makes today day 13. WHOOOOO! This diet is broken up in stages, beginning with the most limited and ever so slowly moving forward to the "Full Gaps" diet which is similar to SCD/paleo diets. I spent several weeks reading the GAPS book as well as many guide gooks and cook books to make the process easier. The biggest trick for me was making almost everything before hand. This is has been crucial to my success in not slipping because when I'm tired and done from the day I can grab one bag of soup from the freezer. I expected stage 1 to be difficult, but this whole process has been even harder than imagined for me personally. There is something called "die off" which is essentially when all the bacteria/pathogens in your gut that live off of sugars/grains/etc begin to die because they aren't being fed they can produce flu like symptoms or worse. For me it was a couple days of living in the bathroom :/ tmi.

Since stage 1 is already incredibly limited to broth, meats boiled in broth and very very cooked vegetables, I was so bummed when my body wasn't tolerating the vegetables very well and that left just broth and meat. Don't worry, this stage is not meant to be long as it's not healthy to live on broth and meat alone - but it's necessary for a time in order to get that healing process going. It's giving your digestive system a huge break from having to break down foods and gives a great platform to rebuilding a broken wall. When I moved onto stage 2 soft boiled eggs tasted like heaven and I was eating so many a day lol!

Broths at work :) :) 

How am I feeling? To be honest, not good........yet. I'm holding out though. I'm praying it's just taking my body time to get rid of all the toxins and begin that healing process. I was sure the hardest part of the diet was going to be eating soup for breakfast, lunch and dinner ---- but it's by far been how sick I've been and felt. I lost 10 lbs in 10 days - this where I need that one teeth face emoji.

I believe wholly in this diet though and I am making adjustment with probiotics and such to hopefully get there. I can't believe I haven't slipped up, not one grain of rice not one crumb of bread!!!! My addiction to sugar was so so strong. I was positive this was going to be hard. The thing that keeps me from cheating is that then all those days were for nothing. It's not the kind of diet you can cheat on because any amount of the allergens keep those bacteria alive in the gut and they don't die off.

My plan was to blog my way through this intro diet but I've felt so crummy I've been taking care of the basic tasks of feeding my family and keeping my home somewhat orderly. With homeschool and work and doctors appointments thrown in there it's a good thing I'm allowed tea with a tiny bit of honey cause that is what keeps my blood sugar up!!!

Day 1 Breakfast!

Die off feeeeeels :( 

Just broth and meats :( 

Eggs - oh the joy!

Saving dishes - right out of the pot. 

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Saturday, January 6, 2018


A title I never thought I would write yet here I am! (Also a semi-controversial topic which I almost always stay away from writing about haha.)

As I begin the second half of our school year I've been able to reflect on the past few months of this adventure called homeschooling.
My daughter began kindergarten in the fall and we planned to have her return to the public school down the road where she attended TK the previous year. She seemed to like it and I certainly enjoyed the time with 2 kids instead of 3! She was struggling with a variety of issues but I never assumed those had any correlation to school or that environment -- and still don't make that assumption.

As last summer started I began to mentally think through the idea of jumping on the homeschool train. To back up, this was not the "plan" my husband and I thought would be best for our family. Even though we were BOTH homeschooled by amazing parents growing up and received amazing educations, we felt it was best to have our kids attend public school for several reasons. We really wanted to be out in our community and connected to those living around us. We also wanted our kids to be able to bring Jesus to the world along with us and not separate ourselves out into safe little bubbles. And then there was the reason I hate to even admit but it was that homeschooling just wasn't something that interested me. I don't have any formal teaching education and I was excited to use that time while my kids would be at school to work alongside my hubs at our job, grocery shop, clean, etc.

Before I go any further I want to be so so clear -  where you choose to have your children receive their education is an incredibly personal decision. It's only one that can be made by parents for each child. If there's something I dislike as much as mom shaming (well maybe not more but it's up there) is school shaming. I have witnessed both -- the notion that homeschool is the best and only way and you basically don't care about your kids if you choose public school. And the opposite - those that homeschool are taking their kids away from opportunities and resources and community to be schooled by a parent who's not qualified. Even as I write this post I'm like "oh man I don't want anyone feeling like what I chose for my kids means that they should be making the same choice", or that even my reasons for choosing to school my children at home apply to anyone else.

SO......All these things were going round and round my head over the summer (Yes, as in this last summer, weeks before school started back up). I felt my daughter was slipping through some cracks at her current school (again, no shame, they are a terrific school!). I was bummed that apparently kindergarten has changed from what it was when I was 6. Homework, sight words, writing, etc are now the norm (and she was in TK!). I remember lots of coloring, alphabet learning and art work when I was in kindergarten -- but now that's for preschoolers. It hit home for me one day when she came home from school and said "Today was the BEST day! We went outside for a walk!" ............which is so sweet but I was thinking ahhhhhhh you should be outside walking and running not sitting in a classroom for 6 hours every day. She just seemed to need more/different. At the time I was incredibly certain I could not provide that lol. I won't even mention some of the very basic things I have had to google (how have I forgotten so much since College??) So just to clear any assumptions that I am just super awesome and therefore would rock homeschooling. Wrong.

But even though I was feeling completely under qualified to provide "perfect" schooling for my child, I did feel that I had enough knowledge and support to give it a go. Plus, I kept saying, "it's kindergarten! Basically I can't fail this even if we do colors and alphabet all year". What is truly amazing to me is that I began this process with her in mind. I wasn't someone who ever wanted to homeschool. The idea of being at home the majority of my day teaching my most challenging child new concepts was daunting. So what's crazy, is how much I've loved it. I've fallen in love with going at our own pace because this means I get to go slower on things she has more difficulty with and allow her to be "ahead" in areas where she excels. It's so easy to customize for each child. We have a life that involves traveling overseas and I love the flexibility of taking our work with us and learning about the world and other cultures as we go. So many of the issues she was having last year have lessened or gone away completely. Of course that could be a mix of things but I do wonder if a classroom of 28 kids was just too much for her. I love that we have so many amazing resources as homeschooling families now and she can be involved in classes that I could never offer at home and we can incorporate the arts (music, dance, art classes) into our school day instead of working them around the edges. I love that our day starts with the Bible - and that she can color her way through the stories. I love that my kids are learning together alongside one another and that when it all feels overwhelming we get to take a break and get outside and find cool leaves or flowers. I could go on but this time that I thought would be so so hard has been such a surprising gift to me.

Are there days where it feels like too much and I'm failing? YUP! When my toddler is throwing a tantrum at my feet and my 4 year old wants to be involved in e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g while I'm trying to teach math can make me feel like how will I do this when I am schooling more than one child! But just like with parenting, if I had jumped straight to 3 kids I would have a nervous breakdown haha. You start with one and take it day by day.

yes my youngest is standing on a folding chair :$

I think the common fear in new (and maybe experienced) home schooling parents is the fear that we aren't doing "enough". Are they behind in a certain subject? Are they writing enough? Are we doing enough variety? The concerns are endless and I am learning to let those go, within reason, and follow the laid out path we have. I think you also have to know yourself and as with anything be wise in your choices of input and resources. If I listen to too many podcasts, read too many articles, or compare to what others are doing it's easy to begin feeling bogged down and aimless. Honestly, I asked those around me I trusted for good curriculum, checked them out and went for it. I knew if I spent hours reading about different ones I would have a hard time knowing what to do. Everyone has a different teaching style and approach and that's the beauty! 

This has been our journey with public and private school this last year. Clearly by my years and years of experience homeschooling have given me the ability to write about it hahahaahahahaha. But I do stand by whatever is best for your family and the things you have going on in life to do only that.

Public school? Awesome! Private? Awesome! Homeschool? Awesome! No one likes to feel insecure about the choices they make for their kids because (unless you're not like me :/ ) most of us are already in some way concerned that we are doing "well" or "enough". Let's encourage each other and spur one another one to do good things! I'm exciting to blog my way through these fun years of schooling and the many ups and downs they come with.

Snack time :) 

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