Monday, December 15, 2014

Love Wildly

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Love Wildly in Kansas City.
 
Here is the first thing I learned. Sometimes you don't realize how much you needed something until you have it.
 
The fellowship with these incredible women. The friendship. The vulnerability. The love. I needed it all and I didn't even know it.
 
When Barrett died, I built up walls. Strong concrete walls. These walls have held my emotions for two years. I cried so much after he died, that I started the process of constructing these walls. I constructed them with shame, fear, loss, and pain and then I held them together with guilt.
 
Those are powerful building tools if you allow them to be, and that's just what I had done.
 
And along with those walls came shame. Because there were times that I wanted to show emotion, but those walls held them in tightly, and I was ashamed that I looked fine when inside I was screaming. I was ashamed that I was sad on the inside at times but on the outside I seemed unaffected.
 
And the guilt. Oh the guilt. There is so much of it.
 
I feel guilty so often because I feel like I don't love my son enough because I don't get to show my love for him in the same ways as my daughters. Even though I love him with all of my heart. His sister was conceived before his due date and I battle the sentiment of "if he were here she wouldn't be". I know that's probably true, but please don't tell me. I love my rainbow girl more than I could ever put into words. She is more than my daughter. She is my proof that good endings exist when my view of the world was shattered. She was my hope when all I longed for was to give up. When I was fighting the stormy waves searching for shore, she was the light Jesus shone to lead me back. She taught me the true significance of the rainbow.
 
But I hate the sentiment that I traded my son for my daughter. That I traded pain for hope. That I traded the storm for the calm. I didn't. I wasn't given a choice. There was no trade. My son was given, then he was taken. My daughter was allowed to stay. The sentiment of a trade throws guilt over my shoulders that is so heavy I feel like Wiley Coyote when an anvil falls on his head. It's heavy, it hits quickly, and I can't stop it.
 
I feel guilty that I get so caught up in life sometimes that I don't speak his name as often as I would like to. I feel guilty that life gets so busy that I don't visit his grave as often as I would like. Guilt comes knocking at my door, and it comes carrying a bag of shame to tell me that I am not worthy of being Barrett's mother; that I am not worthy of the precious gift I was given.
 
And I harbored all of this guilt and shame for two years. This weekend wasn't a fairy godmother's wand. They didn't just disappear. But this weekend gave the tools and power to say "You're wrong. I am worthy of this gift".  
 
I don't usually struggle with words, but trying to put what this weekend was into a simple blog post is an impossible task. I do hope to give you a taste of it.
 
The group of women who attended this event are extraordinary. Along with all of the ones who wanted to be there but weren't able to for different reasons. I hope to meet each of you one day as well.
 
This weekend I found some healing that I didn't know I needed. As I took the time to allow myself to be vulnerable to feelings and emotions, I discovered that when Cathleen came along, I put my healing on hold in order to survive the emotions of the pregnancy after loss. I spent all of my energy going through the motions so I didn't just collapse.
 
So this weekend I was able to walk back to that. I took some of that spent up energy and put it back towards walking my healing journey as a bereaved mother. I don't need to go through the motions; but I do need to allow myself to heal.
 
You don't ever "get over" (what does that even mean?) losing a child, but I was still stuck in my grief stage of 4 months after his death. While on the outside I may have appeared to heal, I haven't. I was simply hiding behind those walls of shame and fear and pain and guilt.
 
This weekend they came down. And I cried for the first time since shortly after Barrett died.
 
Who knew that crying could be so scary? But it was. I was petrified. I was more scared of that than revealing any other part of myself. I was scared of feeling again.
 
But feeling isn't always bad. When you block off the feelings of hurt, and pain, and grief, you block off the wonderful feelings of love, and friendship, and healing as well.
 
This weekend, while I was surrounded by these extraordinary women, I was surrounded by so much more.
 
I was surrounded by beauty. Each of them carries their beauty in their own unique way, both inside and out, and that is an incredible thing.
 
I was surrounded by courage. These women shared themselves with me, with each other. They shared things, that maybe they had never shared before. They shared their stories, their hopes, their fears, their joy, their pain, their precious babies, and themselves. There was the courage of the women who knew they needed help in their journey, and they reached out for it. They pushed aside the feelings of "I'm not worthy of their help" and "I'm not worthy of their love" and let someone love them. The courage was overwhelming.
 
I was surrounded by strength. Even when they don't feel strong, it is there. The group of women at Love Wildly have buried their children. Some have buried their future children. We have all buried our dreams, our hopes, and a huge part of our hearts and ourselves with those precious lost lives.
 
I was surrounded by love. Love Wildly wasn't just the name of the event. There was so much love that you couldn't help but feel it. Love for each other, love for our babies, and the hardest one--love for ourselves.
 
Along with the love, came support. Inspiring support. There were times I was overcome with emotions as I would turn and see mothers having a one on one moment. To realize that one, in all of the busyness, noticed that the other needed a helping hand in that moment; a hug, a cry, a friend. And they pushed aside any possible fears of rejection or "What do I say" and they acted.
 
It isn't all sunshine all the time. Fear and pain also made their presence known because they become a part of you after losing a child. But the truth that "that's ok" was there too.
 
It was a weekend I will never forget. And I love that. I don't want to forget. I want to carry the truths from the weekend with me always. I want to carry these ladies with me always.
 
Their friendship is a true treasure; a blessing.
 
Love Wildly ladies. You are loved. You are worthy of that love.
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Attitude of Apathy

I posted last week about how I have been apathetic towards my diet for my entire life until recently; and not only my diet, but my family's diet. I've spent decades consuming junk, and until recently, my family did as well, and didn't really think much of it. I was never raised to question these things--I always thought..."they couldn't sell it if it isn't safe, right?".
 
I wondered why I never questioned things before. And not just our diet, but other products around our home. And I really didn't until I had a horrible allergic reaction to Degree deodorant (so, thanks Degree for having something in your fragrances--that they don't have to list the ingredients of by the way--that I am very allergic to) that started me on my journey of researching ingredients and questioning them all. Also, because these companies are not required to list what goes into their "fragrances", I still have no clue what it is I am so allergic to.
 
So it started with deodorant and morphed into a lifestyle. I realized that I never questioned things before because the harm they cause isn't instant. The effects are long term so they're not as noticeable. Because the deodorant had an instant effect, it sprung me into action. I'm sad that it took something like that happening. I wish that long before now I had taken the time to think about what I put in and on my body and my family as well. I wish that long before now I had had the desire to better care for the bodies God has blessed my family with.
 
In saying all of that, I think that our attitude of apathy stems from the fact that we don't see immediate results from how these products affect us. And because we don't see immediate harm and they are quick and convenient for our fast paced, way too busy culture, we don't care. It's also a learned attitude. In the local culture in which I reside, my attitude towards health is not the norm; thankfully I am blessed with a few like minded friends, but most think I am a hippy. But I'll be a healthy "hippy" and know that I did the best I can to care for the body God blessed me with.
 
It's convicting for me as a Christian. I've spent years trashing my body with unhealthy products all for the sake of speed and convenience. And because I was too lazy to take the time to care.
 
I hear people say, they don't have time to eat healthy. My husband and I both work full time. We have two living children and a non profit we run in memory of our still born son. We have a house full of our personal animals and foster animals. I run a small WAHM business as well. I've always believed that if you are truly passionate about something you will MAKE time for it (that belief is one that convicts me a lot on my Christian walk). So I have made time for my family's health.
 
And, I can't believe I am saying this, but in the process I have learned to truly enjoy cooking; but not store bought foods--I like taking good locally grown, organic foods, and turning them into meals that my family enjoys. Now, that's not as easy as it sounds. My five year old has become very picky because she's just always eaten popular processed foods like the rest of us, and after two decades of it, I am learning to like some veggies myself. My eyes have been opened to the art of cooking and I'm really enjoying it. (And canning. Everyone on my Christmas list should expect canned foods-ha!). I enjoy the challenge of trying something new and finding a way to serve it so that even my five year old will eat it. So far, so good. (Cate is easy since she was a young baby when we started making our changes.)
 
I say all of this to challenge yourself to look at the products you use on a daily basis; the foods you consume, the lotions you put on your skin (your largest organ that absorbs those lotions), the deodorant you use, the products you clean your home with, and decide if you are fine with it (I'm sure many will be) or if you want to change something. And if you choose change, I hope you will stick with me on this journey as I share some of the changes we are making and how we are doing them. I would love to hear your ideas as well.

 
 
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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October 15th

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. October 15th is set aside as a special day of remembrance. I find it hard to put into words exactly what this day means to so many people.
 
As the parents of a baby born still, we remember him every day. As do the siblings and grandparents of all of these babies. We will always remember because we always grieve. We will always grieve because we will always love.
 
Today, we ask you to remember them with us. I know it's hard. I know it's sad. It's something we carry with us daily. But just this one day out of 365, we ask you to walk beside us. To be a reminder that you acknowledge that our babies lived; that their lives matter. Say their names today. Do a random act of kindness in memory of one of these precious lives.
 
 
Participate in the Wave of Light. Light a candle at 7 pm your local time in memory of one of these precious lives. Even if you haven't been affected by Pregnancy or Infant Loss, just remember with us.
 
I thought this could never happen to me. I was blissfully unaware of PAIL day two years and two months ago. I was unaware that 1 in 4 pregnancies will result in miscarriage, stillbirth, or infant loss, and I certainly didn't think that I would be that 1 in 4.
 
 Let their parents know you remember their babies with them. Tell them. It will help them. We aren't asking you to share our pain of losing a child, but we are asking you to share in our joy of being their parents.
 
 
"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention their child because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died -- you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift. " - Elizabeth Edwards
 
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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm an Addict

Yes, I am an addict. I am addicted to sugar. I came to this conclusion pretty recently.
 
I heard something that said sugar was as addictive as alcohol or tobacco. No, that can't be right. I could quit anytime I want. I would never become addicted to something like alcohol or tobacco. That's damaging to your health.
 
But, the truth is, it is just as addictive, and in the amounts that the average American consumes, it is damaging to your health.
 
I'm not one to believe in big time conspiracy theories, and I don't classify all the sugar in American foods as any type of conspiracy theory. It is, however, in large part, a business strategy. Because sugar is addictive, if you enjoy their sugar filled product, you will most likely be a repeat customer. (Think Coca-Colas, juice boxes for your kids, etc)
 
Guys. It's even in our bread. Unnatural amounts. Curiosity overwhelmed me and I walked to my cabinet and pulled out that 100% whole grain supposedly good for you name brand bread from my cabinet. The third ingredient? HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. Why? I make homemade bread from three ingredients (organic): unbleached flour, active dry yeast, and water. That's it. It tastes better, it's better for you, and it's a heck of a lot cheaper. Oh, and it's easy. It's not an art form.
 
My curiosity wasn't satisfied so I ventured through the rest of my kitchen and I STRUGGLED to find anything that didn't have high fructose corn syrup or insane amounts of sugar. (By the way...fat free =/= sugar free, and you know what your body turns all that excess sugar into that it doesn't know what to do with? FAT). Other than the newer foods I have been buying since we began our household eating habits revamp, almost everything had large amounts of sugar.
 
So I thought, I'm giving it up. No more. Harder. Than. I. Thought.
 
I went cold turkey on my Sprite addiction. No more. 10 teaspoons of sugar in ONE drink. I've managed that ok. But by lunch of the first day I was already eyeballing a candy bar and a Sprite. I resisted, but it was TOUGH. My mind wanted that sugar it is so used to.
 
I've always heard it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I hope that when I check back in with you in a few weeks, we will all be in the habit of eating locally grown, organic foods. I can say that I already feel much better. I have more energy and my body just feels better.
 
So, this post is my confession. I'm addicted to sugar. I'm counting on you to hold me accountable as I drop the unhealthy amounts (not altogether, just the outrageous amounts) of sugar that are contained in processed foods and drinks.
 
I'm taking charge of my health and my family's health. I refuse to continue a path of apathy with our health. We only have one life and one body--take care of it!
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Friday, October 3, 2014

Salcura Natural Skin Therapy {Giveaway}

8aa2d355-968e-436b-8c29-fdc733967db7_zps2b5d107c (2) Did you know that October is Eczema Awareness Month? We want to get the word out and also let people know that Salcura Natural Skin Therapy can help soothe your skin irrations. Check out my review HERE. You can learn more about eczema awareness month HERE on The Coupon Chronicles and HERE on Pettie Pages. fb_cover_2014_EAM-spread-the-word   Salcura Natural Skin Therapy has even more products to help soothe difficult-to-treat skin conditions. Besides eczema they have a section on their site to learn more about the conditions and what products may be able to help. Now for the giveaway Salcura Natural Skin Therapy is giving the winner a $100 gift certificate to their site. You will be able to get everything you need to take care of your family!
This giveaway is hosted by:
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Awesome co-hosts are
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A Special Thanks to All The Promoting Blogs
alwaysblabbing, Barbara’s Beat, Blogger Nicole, Bloggin With NiNi, Chronically Content, Deliciously Savvy, Desafio In The City, Devastatingly Beautiful Life, Dividing by Zero, Giveaway Moxie, Heart of a Philanthropist (HoaP), Here We Go Again..Ready, Jen's Blog of Random Thoughts, Joan's 5 Star Reviews, Kathy's Kontests, Krazy Kat Freebies, Luker Family Tales, Mama Banana's Adventures, MarksvilleandMe, mom are we there yet, Mommabears Book Blog, Mommy Makes Time, Moms... Check nyo, My Fab Fit Forties, PaulaMS' Giveaways, Reviews, & Freebies, SaraLee's Deals Steals & Giveaways, Tales From A Southern Mom, Tays Two Cents, The Coupon Chronicles, The Minister's Wife Stamps and Saves, Voguish Mommy, Savory Savings, Grateful Giveaways, SaraLee's Deals Steals & Giveaways, Cassandra M's Place, Heartbeats~ Soul Stains, and stellar manic mom, beck valley books, Missy's Product Reviews, My Startlight Blessings, Finding Sanity In Our Crazy Life, Davids DIY, Lisa-Queen of Random, From Thought to Blog, Pettie Pages, Ramblings of Mama, Mary's Cup of Tea
One winner will receive the $100 gift certificate from Salcura. This giveaway begins on 10/1 12:00 am at and ends on 10/31 at 11:59pm (times are Eastern) and is open to Continental US residents ages 18+. Winner is subject to eligibility verification and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions/concerns please EMAIL las930@charter.net Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Rafflecoptor Tools. Salcura Naturals is responsible for prize delivery.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales *Review*

*Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and may differ from yours.

To say we love "My Little Pony" in my home would be a gross understatement. Audrey is slightly obsessed. 

When we received  My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales for a review, she let out a LOUD (and I do mean loud) excited shrill! We had to watch it right then. No question.

She loved it, and she has loved it the other million (okay, maybe that's a light exaggeration) times that she has watched it since then.

Halloween is coming up, and if you have a child who loves My Little Pony, you will want to check this out. My Little Pony - Friendship is Magic: Spooktacular Pony Tales was released on September 9, 2014 just in time for Halloween (it's coming up soon!). The DVD features six episodes AND a sing-along. This DVD comes with pumpkin carving stencils and a Halloween poster! PERFECT for the upcoming holiday.

On this DVD, your child will be able to join the ponies they love as they take on some spooky adventures! All of their favorite characters from Ponyville (Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, Rarity, Twilight Sparkle, Applejack, and Spike!) will have your My Little Pony fan entertained and ready for Halloween in these 6 fun episodes and bonus sing-along.

The episodes include:
Boast Busters
Stare Master
Luna Eclipsed
Sleepless in Ponyville
Castle Mane-ia
Bats!

You can find this DVD on Amazon HERE!

*Disclosure: I received this product in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and may differ from yours.
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What are you eating?

Do you really know what you are eating? Do you know what you are putting on your body every day?
 
I think that I can thank Barrett for my new outlook on a few things because when he died, I lost that "It won't happen to me" attitude. I learned "it can happen to me". I've spent A LOT of time reading and researching and checking multiple sources and looking for legitimate studies on so many different things--the food I eat, drinks, beauty products...so much.
 
I started by ditching my shampoo for natural options. The "detox" was tough but I don't regret it. Since I quit using commercial shampoo, my hair actually has a red tint to it. It is growing SO fast. Apparently, commercial shampoos were not only altering my natural color, but were hindering my hair's growth. My hair has always taken FOREVER to grow. Since ditching my shampoo, it has gone from a short bob to below my shoulders...in just three months.
 
Then I looked into more. The lotions and beauty products we put on our bodies. Our skin is the largest organ we have. When you think of it that way, it makes sense to take care of it. Your skin absorbs. It's important to look at what you are putting on it.
 
Deodorant. I didn't think much about this one until all of a sudden I started having allergic reactions to it. I'm talking horrible, painful, itchy rashes all the way from my chest to my elbows from deodorant. AWFUL. So I started looking into ingredients. Aluminum. What? Then "fragrances" <----what exactly are the fragrances? Because apparently something in the "fragrances" of a particular brand are something I am EXTREMELY allergic to. But, guess what? I don't even know what it is I am allergic to because they don't have to list what goes into "fragrances". Comforting, right?
 
Photo curtesy of: blogs.furman.edu
Food. Oh gosh. That will need to be it's own post. Just look into. Look into the ingredients of foods you eat EVERY day. Foods your children eat EVERY day. Even things such as bread. That whole wheat, whole grain bread I was buying that I *thought* was good for me...yeah, not so much. The third ingredient listed on the packaging (along with a TON) of others is "high fructose corn syrup". Why? I just made homemade bread the other day. I used water, organic white flour, yeast, and a little salt. Cheaper and doesn't have a whole list of ingredients. (And it was SO good, we ate the whole loaf in two days--my family who never finishes a loaf of bread devoured it!). I just gave bread as an example because something that should be a simple list of ingredients, isn't. I encourage you to really look at the ingredients of the foods you are eating.

I also hear that "eating organic and healthy is sooooo expensive". It does cost more. There is no sense in denying that. BUT it's doable even on a strict budget. I have personally cut costs in other places by making my own beauty products (SO much cheaper and LOADS better for you), reusable snack bags instead of ziplocs, "unpaper" towels and napkins, and the list goes on and on (for us it also includes cloth diapering and wipes--another way to be easier on Cate's skin and saves tons of money!).

I was never taught to question things. I learned a lot of valuable lessons growing up, but one thing that was assumed was that you just did what you were told and they wouldn't be able to sell a product if it wasn't "safe". Wrong. 

I'm thankful for my husband who is willing to go along with changes I make (even if he lovingly calls me a hippy while I do!).

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own;  you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body." 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

^^^That's my motivator. I'm taking care of my temple and those of my family. I know it's impossible to do an immediate complete purge. Trust me, I know, because I am doing it one product at a time. How? Well I'll be blogging about it along the way. This is just your intro. I hope you will follow along as I transition my family from a "commercialized" home, to a natural, local grown home.
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