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25Jul/141

Real Food Friday: Gelatin

This post is not for vegetarians. Grass fed gelatin, as discussed in the following post, is derived from grass fed cows and should not be consumed by those wishing to avoid some or all animal products.

Okay...I'm about to put my crunchy-real food- off the beaten path weirdness on display for you.

I bought a container of gelatin. Like, powdered plain gelatin made from grass fed cows.

Before you click away, remember gelatin is in marshmallows. And jello (which I don't love, but Tim and Nolan do). And fudgsicles. That makes it not so weird, right?

Besides the fact that, unless you're vegetarian, you're likely eating gelatin in some form (smores, anyone?), the stuff that comes from grass fed cows is really, really good for you.

After hearing a few casual mentions about how beneficial the stuff is, I decided to look up more info for myself, and I found out that gelatin can

-help tighten loose skin (hello, post-baby belly!)

-support better digestion and even help heal some digestive disorders

-help the body relax and sleep well at night

-promote joint health

-promote healthier skin, hair, and nails

-add protein to the diet without any of the weird, non-real food additives a lot of protein powders tend to have

Sold.

So far, I've added it to banana soft serve and smoothies. I've also tried it in Against All Grain's recipe for fudge pops.

On my to-try list of recipes using gelatin are

Strawberry Lemonade Gummies by Stupid Easy Paleo

Healthy Sour Watermelon Gummies by Meatified

Dirt Worm Pudding, a guest post by Fed & Fit on Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind (This one looks like it would be a lot of work, but I'd love to try it once!)

Rustic Homemade Marshmallows with Honey by The Urban Poser

There's a lot more yummy-looking, gelatin-utilizing recipes out there; these are some of the most delicious- looking to me at the moment.

So, really, what's NOT appealing about doing something beneficial for your body while eating your pudding/marshmallows/gummies?

21Jul/144

Coffee Date!

I love, love coffee dates. I'm particular to those in my home because I'm not quite sure where to get a good cup of fair trade coffee around here ,other than Haute Chocolate, but they don't open til 11. It's 6 as I type this. Also, I really want organic half and half, too, and while I will admit to carrying my own with me from time to time just come over to my house for coffee, please. It's cheaper. Easier on my conscience. And you can stay as long as you want.

Once in a while, I like to host these virtual coffee dates. Maybe that's weird. But basically, I tell you some random stuff about me that I feel like spilling this morning and then it's your turn.  This works out because maybe you're not awake at 6 and/or maybe you're pretty picky about your coffee, too, but I don't make it like you like or I don't have your favorite creamer.

So.

I should first tell you that I ate 3 giant marshmallows last night while sacked out on the couch with my exhausted son, watching Phineas and Ferb. Yes, I did. Those marshmallows were not the real food, homemade kind (although that needs to happen in our house!). They were the store-bought, grabbed for a trip to the mountains and stuffed in the back of our pantry kind. I tell you this not out of guilt, but because I want you to know that when I write my Real Food Fridays series, I'm not talking about perfection. I'm talking about the choices we make most of the time.

I wake up every morning wondering if this will be the day I meet my Selah girl. I am trying to keep making plans as usual, enjoy my one-on-one time with Nolan, and relax in the fact God knows the day and hour of her birth. My challenge is that the cramps and contractions I've been having don't let me forget for too long that I am about to give birth, and I've kind of stopped formally exercising because holy cramps (!).

My current obsessions include Noonday and Don't Waste the Crumbs.

Noonday is all about creating a sustainable marketplace for women around the world who are otherwise economically vulnerable or oppressed. The jewelry and accessories are gorgeous, the stories are compelling, and the work being done is redemptive and beautiful and it seems like the right place for me to be right now.

-Don't Waste the Crumbs is a blog/ website all about eating real food on a budget. I can't get enough and pour over the posts when I have the chance. As a stay at home mom (read: brings in minimal income) with a passion for quality, sustainable food systems, I am mining this site for all its worth.

Your turn!

What's something that you think about every day?

How do you like your coffee?

What are you obsessed with these days?

18Jul/145

Real Food Fridays

I've tried a few forms of eating in the past few years.

Vegetarian. Vegan. Paleo.

I was and will likely always be a die-hard fair trade enthusiast.

In all of those ventures, my main goals were (are) to be respectful of the people who make my food, the earth it comes from, and to take good care of my body and the bodies of those I love and feed.

While I no longer attach a label to my eating choices, I still want those things. I would like to one day buy all my food from the farmers market, through a CSA, or via fair trade companies that I trust, but in the meantime, I do the best I can with what I have and I focus on eating real food.

I would love to encourage you to do the same. If you want to eat better but aren't sure where to start, pick one little thing and try it out. I promise you that one "little" thing is doing much better things than throwing up your hands in defeat. If you want to eat local/organic/fair trade, find ONE way to do that, focus on that, and then when you are ready add another thing.

I'm hoping to reserve Fridays around here for talking about real food. Let's talk. Maybe we can learn from each other?

First, let's define what I mean when I say "real food." When I use the term, I am referring to food in its basic form (meat, vegetables, fruit, eggs, oatmeal) or that, given the time and a recipe, I could make myself.

Sometimes eating real food can be a little tricky. For example, bread can be real food, but you have to read the label (or make it yourself!) to know. Don't go by claims like,"low sugar", "low fat," or "all natural" or "high protein." <---Those are just a few of the claims you might fine. Just flip that baby over and read the ingredients! What are they?

If you could make the bread yourself using the ingredients listed, you're good to go.

If, however, you find something like this, skip it. It's not real food. It's a food-like product, and it's not doing you (or the environment, for that matter) any favors. I mean, really, where are you going to get calcium carbonate, calcium propionate, or stearoyl lactylate? What are they doing in your body? How is your body going to process them?

I have lots of ideas and questions to share with you in the coming weeks. I hope you'll join me on Fridays for some real food discussion!

For now, how do you define real food?

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14Jul/146

And….I’m Full Term

I'm full term + 1 day today.

That means if I go into labor, no one is going to try to stop me.  Selah's got the green light to make her entrance into the world.

Bittersweet.

I'm excited OF COURSE. But you know how it is when you know something is about to change your life forever and you can never, EVER go back and there's a still, gorgeous calm before the (however beautiful) storm?

Do you know what I mean?

I can't stop staring at my boys. I can't get away from how things are going to be SO different soon. They will still be good, richer even, and soon, I won't be able to imagine life without my two best boys AND my Selah girl.

Maybe soon none of us will. But for now, Nolan is wanting his mama more. He KNOWS life is about to change in a big way, too.

And me? I'm just soaking them up.

13Jul/140

Follow up: Buying Less Crap while Still Looking Cute in Your Clothes

I did it.

I created an account with thredUp. I perused the maternity section and picked out 5 things in my size. Most items ended up being under $5 each and every item was less than $10 each.

No sweatshops involved:-).

My clothes arrived in a sweet little package, which OF COURSE I neglected to photograph because even after years of blogging, I still do not have the picture part of publishing posts down.Please trust me, it was cute, but not overly done in a why did they waste so many materials?" kind of way.

I tried everything on, and guess what?

Only one item fit over my massive pregnant belly.

Oops.

Luckily, returning the items was pretty easy. I filled out an online form explaining the return, printed a return label, and shipped the too-small items back. I've already received my refund.

The downside? I did have to pay almost $10 for the return.

HOWEVER, I have since discovered that  orders received through thredUp's Android or IOS apps are eligible for free returns. I have an Android and promptly downloaded the app because I plan on ordering again after Selah is born. The clothing I received was in great shape. In fact, I couldn't tell that it had been previously worn. The service was great, and I love that ordering through them is affordable, offers me cute quality clothes, and doesn't support sweat shops.

With that said...

Not supporting the wrong stuff is good, but sometimes supporting the right stuff takes some investment. For example, buying chocolate from companies who don't use child labor and actually build families up costs a little more than your checkout aisle candy bar because the workers are getting paid appropriately. If we can afford to be buying chocolate that we don't need anyway, we can afford to eat a little less in order to get the right stuff and be a small part of laborers receiving a living wage.

I feel this way about jewelry. I like to get my accessories from sources that support job creation and poverty alleviation. I've recently discovered another company, Noonday, who does this, and I've fallen in love. The jewelry is a little more expensive than your average Target piece, but it has SO much more character, offers a better story, and will hold up better, too. I know it's a mind shift, but I think spending a little more on fewer of what we don't actually need so we can invest in what is good and beneficial for ourselves AND others is worthwhile.

Because of this, a good chunk of time is going to pass before I purchase another piece of jewelry or a scarf, but when I do, I'm going to try out Noonday. (I'll be sure to post a review!) In the mean time, a group of bloggers just left on a trip to Rwanda with Noonday and International Justice Mission. (I highly recommend checking out both organizations.)  They'll be visiting and telling the stories of "Rwandan women who have overcome injustice and have been empowered through economic opportunity." I'll be following along with Jen Hatmaker's posts, and you can also follow along here and with the #Stylefor Justice hashtag on Twitter. (If you're feeling inspired, you can also sign up to host a Noonday Trunk show. I really want to, but am pretty sure it's a *little* too close to Selah's estimated date of arrival.)

11Jul/143

The “How are you doing?” question

My brother goes back to Alaska today after a too-short, two-week visit. I miss him already and cried when I saw this picture posted after he left.

That's really all I want to say about that, but I am about to post more  pictures of our time with him, so it might be helpful to know that the tall, dark and handsome guy in my photos is my *little* brother.

Somewhere between the heat, increased activity, upped need for water and time continuing to march on, my you are getting to close to the end of your pregnancy symptoms really ramped up this week. A lot of cramping, a lot of Braxton Hicks, soreness, and some having to stop because I could not physically continue going forward. Totally frustrating for me because I've been eating well, exercising and doing everything I can think of to take care of myself and Selah. I feel like I should feel better and that labor needs to come soon because I don't know if I can handle a lot more of this.

So when yet another acquaintance asked how I was feeling, my frustrations came bubbling to the surface. I later vented the truth to my Aunt Mary Beth, who happened to be in town on the very day I needed her, and my mom. I just don't know how to answer that question to people I don't really know these days.

Thank God for people I can just be with. I'm feeling so thankful for the people who laugh at me when I apologize because I'm worried about being draining, help me laugh at myself,  let me air my ridiculous complaints (even validate them!) and share their own stories.

Somewhere between getting in bed and getting up in the morning (I am often awake for at least a couple of hours during the night), I was reminded that I get to choose how to live out my upcoming days.

I've been experiencing some beautiful days, no matter how uncomfortable. I could choose to live with the weight of I don't think I can do this and this sucks OR I could choose to live out my days with the intention of living them and enjoying them the best I can.

Really, this is about choosing to live in misery or choosing to live in joy. Difficult choice, right?

I will still continue to be open about how I am really doing when it is the healthy choice to do so.

I will not dwell on what I don't like and can't control.

I will do what I can control, like leaving the dishes in the sink a little longer or accepting offers so I can rest when I need it.

I will make the effort to live and appreciate the life I've been given and not squander it.

This morning, I opted to go for a stroll on a new-to-me trail with 3 of my best boys instead of stay home and then my brother Steve treated us to a meal at one of our favorite restaurants in the area, Say Cheese. I am sitting and writing now. There are dishes in the sink that I will do...later.

8Jul/140

Not Sleeping: Perspective for Today

I am awake when I shouldn't be and slept way too few hours last night (tonight?).

So I write.

So I look at the nights when I can't sleep (and there doesn't seem to be a particular pattern to these nights) as practice for those when I am up feeding/changing/snuggling Selah while my boys sleep. I am practicing for the next day, when I still have people, events, and appointments I've said yes to. I still have a son who needs and deserves my attention. I am practicing for the days when I will need to accept or even ask for help or say no or ask for a rain check more often than feels comfortable.

I am gathering up my resources- blogs I can check in with during the wee hours of the morning and tools to make not-sleeping almost, and maybe even actually, enjoyable.

I am treating myself to the kombucha I bought to split with Nolan after a patience-stretching experience at the grocery store. (I'll probably drink his share, but that just means I get to buy another one, right?)

I am reveling in the growing family that I adore. The house picked up by my husband while Nolan splashed in the bathtub and pretended to make me coffee and soup.  The promise of a green smoothie and coffee in a few hours and the quiet that comes with being awake while the rest of my world sleeps.

Maybe practicing today will make the upcoming onslaught of sleeplessness a little more manageable. And if not, at least I've found some beauty in this time.

6Jul/142

36 Weeks Pregnant

I was thinking I'd hit a pregnancy-related wall. With about 5 started but unfinished tasks going (that I truly wanted to complete), but only the energy for sitting on the couch, I set a timer to clean for 10 minutes, and then I couldn't be stopped until it was time to leave the house. I showed up at the home of my husband's aunt sweaty and stinky (sorry, guys!) and relieved because, well, if I can't muster up the energy for anything past couch-dwelling, how can I manage labor and delivery? It's an athletic event, y'all!

I'm ticking things off my to-do list. I'm keeping appointments. I'm writing and imagining and planning. I'm keeping a sense of humor more often than not (a necessity when asked the same due date/gender questions are asked over and over and your size is a common topic of conversation).

Cavity is filled. Freezer is stocked (some of my best friends just got a baby sitter and made me freezer meals with fresh, local ingredients and other "real food." They know my love language).

Nolan went to a  big brother class yesterday, where he learned about what it might be like to have a new baby in the house. He got to tour the maternity ward and practice holding baby dolls (his favorite!).

I've had flags raised and pregnancy issues monitored throughout my pregnancy and one by one, they've been clearing up on their own. Low-lying placenta. A cyst. Blood sugar issues.

Last week, after a look over my blood sugar numbers, I was told that, had I taken the conventional glucola test in lieu of testing my own blood sugar, I likely would have passed. After a consultation with one of the main doctors, I was also told I am no longer required to report my blood sugar numbers.  Initially I was pissed. Blame it on the hormones. Blame it on 2 1/2 months of research, measuring, and frustration with the gestational diabetes diet, but the next morning, I realized what a gift not having to test was and is. Yesterday, I had my first real indulgence in months, and then, worried for Selah's health and wanting to kick my own butt back into gear, I tested my blood sugar. Totally normal. Huh. Today, I'm a little bit thrilled to get back to listening to my body and just filling it with real, whole foods. No more measuring cups needed.

The only issue I'm still having monitored is Selah's growth, and all I can do for that is continue to attend ultrasounds and wait.

On the agenda today:

Relax with my family.

Farmers market for real, local, fresh food (for which I don't have to concern myself with exact macronutrients! Woot!)

Pick up freezer meals from my thoughtful, generous friends.

What are you up to on this beautiful Sunday?

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3Jul/141

1 Mini Van and 3 Car Seats

Some nights, sleep is elusive. Everything is fine, and I'm not telling you so you'll sympathize with me. I'm telling you because I'm hoping this post will make some sense.

(I can't help writing when the urge to write + time + quiet happens all at the same time.)

Several weeks ago, my area was hit with an intense hail storm. My son woke up completely wide-eyed and scared. My house sounded like it might tumble down. Cars were declared totaled and roofs were torn up.

This turned out to be quite a gift for my family because it meant we were able to get more cash for our car than we would have otherwise. This meant we could turn it in for another, BETTER car. My husband did all the legwork on this, and we ended up with a mini van.

I kind of can't believe we are a MINI VAN family, but as of yesterday, we are. I love it. Nolan loves it. I could rave about all the features, and I might if you ask me in person.

But the most exciting part for me is one of the reasons why we ended up going with a mini van: I am currently between 35 and 36 weeks pregnant. I can't wait to meet the baby girl that's been forming inside me for months. I know things will be chaos for awhile, and I will be so tired, but I feel like this part of pregnancy where I don't sleep when I really should and need to sometimes is kind of preparing me for that. Kind of.

Selah's going to show up, and we're going to get into a little bit of a groove with her. Maybe. We'll try.

A few months after she comes, we're going to start respite care with our foster-adoption agency of choice, Cobys. This means that some weekends we will be hosting a child whose foster parents  need a little bit of a break for whatever reason, and we will need to fit THREE car seats and THREE kids in one car.

I am so excited about this! I am trying to put into words why I am excited. Maybe it's the sleep deprivation, but I'm not sure that I can do it adequately.

This part of life feels right. It feels like it fits.

I'm sure I will be back some time later to write about how hard life is and all of that. And again, I'm not going to want sympathy, just a place to write about what life is for me right then/now. But this? A house full of kids who are LOVED (imperfectly, of course. Please don't misread me and think I am declaring myself Mary Poppins over here.), personalities and chaos and lots of coffee to help me keep up with it all? It's kind of how I envisioned life for some time now, and it seems like it's happening.

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27Jun/140

Selah’s Story: One Step at a Time

I had my follow-up appointment at the diabetes center yesterday, a meeting with a potential doula (whom we've decided to hire!) last night and a non-stress test today.

My calendar is full of appointments, which serve to prepare (as best as I can) for the day I get to hold my sweet Selah girl in my arms and break up my days- making my time with Nolan feel richer and more intentional.

I hardly know my girl's story right now, yet it's being written as she moves and grows in my body.

I go to non-stress tests every week because she's measuring small. She's monitored for movement, fluid, and heart beat and she always passes with flying colors (the technician called her "scrappy" today.)

I go to ultrasounds because of a concern that my placenta is not delivering the nutrition she needs to her tiny little body. So far, the concern has not been high enough to warrant early delivery, but that may happen.

I go to diabetic appointments because  my placenta is causing my hormones to go haywire and cause my body to be unable to process glucose like it should.

I just started going to the chiropractor to get everything aligned and prepare for labor, I eat well and keep a food diary, I workout and take a prenatal vitamins. I drink a lot of water, read up, meet with a holistic nutritionist, and go to my regular prenatal appointments.

I am doing the best I can to take care of a tiny life I have yet to meet face to face, and then there's no more check lists. Just one foot in front of the other. Just waiting and doing my best and waiting and trusting. Trusting in Selah's story that's being written right now, even while I can't see the details. While I have more questions than answers.

Everything will be okay. I don't quite know what that means. This pregnancy has been a bit of a complicated one, so while I'd like her to be born in perfect health (and I will do and have done everything in my power to try to make that happen), maybe that's not her story. I'm being entrusted with a breath-taking masterpiece of a child who is no more or less of a masterpiece if she isn't born in a healthiest-baby-on-the-block kind of way. No matter what happens, she will forever be part of my heart wrapped up in skin and hair and a soul. Selah has a story, and it is a beautiful one.

I am 34 (almost 35!) weeks pregnant, and just want to hold my sweet girl and know she's okay. But for now? It's one step at a time for this mama.

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