Monday, October 5, 2015

Easy Healthy Bites

Since we have decided to try and eat healthier, one area we really struggle with is snacking. I didn't realize how often we grab a snack, whether it be right after getting home from work, or a 4th meal, we like easy grab-n'-go snacks. Unfortunately, before, we would often grab something unhealthy. That is one area that was in desperate need of a change!

I am so thankful for the internet, that is just filled with a plethora of recipes for healthy eating! And the joy of recipes is that you can modify them to your heart's desire (like this recipe).

One thing with snacks, is that often they are filled with empty calories. Calories that do not necessarily fill you up for the long run, but fill up that waistband. That is why I love this recipe because it fills you up with what I call "the good stuff." These healthy bites are very similar the the granola balls that I have made in the past, but these are modified just a bit.

So if you are looking for a quick and easy snack that is worth every bit, give these healthy bites a try!


  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 1 c. sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1/2 c. ground flaxseed
  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. mini chocolate chips
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • Optional: craisins, raisins, m&ms
  • Mix all of the ingredients together
  • Refrigerate mixture for 45 minutes
  • Roll into balls
  • Store in refrigerator

Friday, October 2, 2015

How To Get Your Child To Sleep Through The Night

Isn't this the very question that every parent wonders?

From the moment that baby comes into this world, you wonder what their sleeping patterns will be, and wonder when they will reach that "mark" of sleeping through the night.

Don't worry, I was one of those parents too.

Before I had Mazy, I was reading some books on just how to raise a child (I was pretty clueless) and many of them talked about how to help a child sleep well (even from a very young age).

I was set on following the Baby Wise plan, or as much as I could. The concept made sense to me and I am a believer in helping a baby get into a routine. So I gave it a whirl.

Well, after a certain number of weeks, I was feeding Mazy at their suggested times, but she was not dropping feedings like the books said she should naturally do. In fact, quite the opposite. She was waking up more and more. To eat.

I was getting frustrated. I was trying to do what was best for my baby, which I thought was to get her into a routine. And in a way, I was. It was her own routine. But I felt like I was doing something wrong as a parent because she was not living life by the books.

And that is when I needed to accept this little fact: no "book" is raising MY child. And that very fact is one of the most beautiful things I have accepted since becoming a mom.

I have a unique child, created by God. Every child is. In fact, I am now thankful that my child did NOT sleep through the night by the books because the life-change it made in me, was well worth it.


I am no expert, but the answer is: PATIENCE and PRAYER.

Maybe not the words you were hoping to hear. At all.

Why do you think there are so many books written on how to get your child to sleep through the night? Why do you think there are so many different methods? Do I think that these methods work? Oh yes, I really do! I've seen it done! But I will almost guarantee you that every parent who has every had to try and help a child sleep through the night, that it takes patience and some prayer.

So why are those words rarely talked about? Because they are probably the hardest answer, but the most valuable and realistic answer.

Mazy did not sleep through the night until she was 5 1/2 months old. Trust me, I tried what seemed like everything. I felt I was following the book's suggestions, but like I said, she was just not dropping feedings. The thing is, Mazy was hungry, and I was not about to NOT feed my child, just so that she could live by the books. One day, after Mazy was eating every 1 1/2 hours at times, my husband told me to stop reading books. To stop trying and follow life by the books. Since when has our life been "by the books?" Uh, never?! From that moment on, I learned to embrace those extra moments I had with her - knowing that she was a very HEALTHY and GROWING child. What more could a mother ask for? Yes, of COURSE I looked forward to the day when she did not wake up - but I told myself that there will be one day when I wished I could hold her like a baby, in the middle of the night.

Mazy also had acid reflux. I also had breastfeeding issues. Two more reasons why living by the books was just not possible.

After a long trip to Michigan, where Mazy was waking up a LOT in the middle of night, we decided to once again, try the cry it out method. We'd try it, but to no avail. I would feed her and she would drink her full 5 oz. bottle. So we would try a week later. Still didn't work. It took some patience, but at this point, I was used to getting up in the middle of the night, so it didn't bother me, really. It's amazing what you body can become accustomed to!

Then we decided that maybe we should pray about it. To some that may sound cheesy, but to us, we thought why not? God asks us to bring everything to Him in prayer. I was going to be going back to work in a few days, and the thought of getting a full night's rest sounded appealing.

So we prayed.

Did it happen the next night? No. So we prayed again. Lo and behold, that night, she skipped her 3:00am feeding and just woke up at 6:00am. So we prayed again. The next night, she skipped her 6:00am feeding, but I think woke up at 4:30am. So we prayed again. The next night, she slept through the night.

I don't think we knew what hit us! What an answer to prayer! We almost laugh about it now, but God was probably just waiting and waiting to give that gift to us, but we just weren't asking!

That was not the end of it though. For the next 2-3 weeks, we did have to practice the crying out method, but we knew she could skip those feedings. So we let her cry it out and now she faithfully puts herself back to sleep!

So we can now safely say, she is sleeping through the night.

Does that mean she will always sleep like this? Granted I am a first-time parent, but I am going to say no. I know we will have moments where nights will just be tough. Like with sickness, teething, a dirty diaper, etc. But we will go back to our answers: patience and prayer.

The lessons I have learned about not trying to make my child fit the books, to allow her to be HER, are some lessons that I am thankful I have learned now, and not later. Trust me though, I am still learning these lessons. To be patient. To bring everything to God in prayer. Everything.

Even though you may not be trying to get a child to sleep through the night, what situation are you needing to be patient in and bring to God in prayer?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Heart Update - 6 Month Checkup

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations - Psalm 100:5

I was reminded of this truth today. 

Over and over again.

Today I had my 6 month heart checkup in Minneapolis. When we arrived, they said they did not have me scheduled (though that's what my card said), but that it was changed to a later date. We were never notified, so they were willing to see me regardless, especially since we made the 2 hour drive there already. We were thankful!

I was reminded of God's faithfulness today, through ALL generations, when the technician shockingly said "I read you had ALCAPA (the reason I needed open heart surgery when I was 17) and that you had a child." Talk about God's goodness. The miracle that Mazy really is. That God would choose to heal my heart and allow me to have such a wonderful pregnancy, despite my heart and my past. 

Six months ago, I had heart failure. To the point where local doctors thought I needed open heart surgery within the week, which was days after I had Mazy. It was a scary time. A time when we really didn't understand the severity of my condition, yet realized that I was not okay. My body was not passing the fluid that I received while in labor with Mazy (the how many bags of IV fluids they give you). I was floating in liquid! My cardiologist in the cities wanted to see if I could wait 2 weeks to see if any of the fluids passed, after they put me on a good dose of a diuretic. Thankfully my body passed the 27 lbs. of fluid that I was carrying around. Though, the damage had already been done and my heart now had to bounce back from what the fluid retention had caused. I had 2 valves that malfunctioned and my heart function was not good. 

For the past 6 months, I have been taking a diuretic when needed, in hopes that my body would be able to eventually pass fluid on it's own, without the assistance of a diuretic.

That is what brings us today.

Were we nervous? Not really. We knew going in to the appointment that my heart was still not great. I could tell that there was/is still something wrong because my exercise tolerance isn't what it was, I get short of breath while lying on my left side and laying flat, and I still pass quite a bit of fluid when I take a diuretic. I am also quite tired, but I chalk that up to being a new mom - fatigue is definitely a symptom of heart failure, but it is obviously hard to decipher what is causing what. 

We knew that open heart surgery was a very possible diagnosis. I was very close to needing one 6 months ago. Of course we were hoping that wouldn't be the case, but we were ready. I have been told for over 10 years that I would eventually need another one, so each appointment we wonder!

But today we honestly went into the appointment with peace. Peace knowing that God has carried us through so much already. That God has been faithful and good to us in each journey, even when understanding did not come easy. We knew God would be faithful yet again, no matter what the results were.

The diagnosis?

Well, after a heart ECHO (which is like an ultrasound of the heart), an EKG, and labs, it was determined that my heart isn't where it should be and where they were hoping it would be after 6 months, but surgery is not even on the horizon.

We breathed a sigh of relief. I have been through one and know I could do it again, but I want to just be a wife and mom right now. I don't want to have to worry about recovering from surgery.

The doctors are concerned that I am still retaining fluid and my percentages (function-wise) are not great, but they feel with time and switching up my meds, that my heart could return to what it was before I was pregnant.

I now will be on a diuretic daily because the doctor couldn't feel my shin bone until halfway up my leg. I am also going to be taking two meds for my heart, to help with the function of it. I will also have to wear a heart monitor next week for 48 hours to determine if my heart is beating even more irregular than what they saw today.

Is it odd that I love this game plan? Maybe, but I am very at peace with it. I know I need to take a diuretic more often, but the one I was on made me feel weird for lack of a better term. So going on one daily, I am happy. Also, I want my heart to function normally (because I will feel better too), so if that means switching up meds, so be it. There could be some side effects, but they said to just keep an eye on it.

Today, though, was a reminder of God's goodness. Everyone, I mean everyone, was goo-goo and gaga-ing over Mazy. From the ladies in the elevator to the people in the office. She is our little miracle and today I was able to share my faith about God's grace and faithfulness in our lives.

We finished off our trip with our heart appointment tradition stop at Chick-fil-A. Mazy was staring at our food - just wait my child, until you can taste the goodness of this place!

God sure is faithful to ALL generations and we thank Him for reminding us of that truth today!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Whys and Hows of Eating "Real Food"

I am not a fan of fads.

So this change that we are making, I do not want to just be a fad. I want it to last. I want it to influence us. I want it to change our lives for the better.

So, why?

First Reasons: Being in youth ministry, it is easy to fall into the diet of a teenager. When you think about what many teenagers eat and drink, you probably think of pizza, snacks (chips, cookies), and pop. Well, you couldn't be more right! What they eat, we typically eat too.

Second reason: After getting to know others who have drastically changed their diet to not only feel better, but to prevent diseases such as cancer, I realized that I should not need a drastic diagnosis to make me change our diet. Okay, it seems like it's a fad right now to eat organic, to eat whole foods, and to get rid of the processed, but I don't want it to be "too late."

Third reason: Now having a child, I am realizing that what we eat, she is learning that "this" is what makes up a food diet. That what we eat, Mazy will eat. That really made me think!

Fourth reason: I do have a heart condition and low-salt is always recommended. Problem is, I LOVE salt. Salt to flavor, not salt to preserve. Many processed foods are LOADED with salt, that you can't even taste. So why waste my salt intake on something I can't even taste? I want to be heart-healthier with my diet, so just another reason to make the change.

When I looked through our cupboards, I knew I had to do some purging. For instance, when I was pregnant, I had a craving for Walmart's Great Value Thick and Creamy Mac and Cheese. Oh how I still love that stuff, but it is nothing but processed. Not that it made me feel bad, but I knew it wasn't good for me. So in the food donation bag it went.

In choosing to eat healthier, it hasn't been something that has been easy. Or cheap. Or time-saving. In fact, quite the opposite! But it has been completely worth it! So here are a few steps we have taken to eat healthier and make it a life-changing choice and goal, instead of just a fad:

1. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. I am sure you have heard this many times, but it's true!

2. Don't always focus on the bill - think about how far the food goes. Many processed items are boxed and it ONE meal. If you buy veggies, you can typically get multiple meals out of them! Also, think about what you are preventing. You may have to spend $20 more, but if that $20 is buying foods that will help fight sicknesses and diseases, I think it is worth it!

3. Shop at Aldi. You know that I am a huge fan of Aldi. There are many reasons why I shop there. One of them being, it is much cheaper to eat healthy, if you can shop at Aldi! Nuts, organic pastas, fruits, vegetables, dairy, etc. are just CHEAP at Aldi. You just can't go wrong!

4. Buy a cookbook. When doing research on how to eat healthier, and eating more foods from scratch, I found 2 cookbooks to be very helpful: Power Foods and 100 Days Of Real Food. Power Foods teaches you how to cook these strange vegetables you probably never heard of, while creating meals out of them (which some are a little extreme for me). Then 100 Days of Real Food is a PRACTICAL guide on how to change your diet, but also has recipes that I will use. I have already cooked out of this book numerous times! It also teaches you how to make things from scratch, to bypass all of the preservatives that store-bought foods have.

5. Gotta love Pinterest! I have been able to pin a lot of different whole foods recipes. Just check out my Real Food = Whole Foods board HERE!

6. It is worth the time. Yes, it is very time-consuming to eat healthy because most everything is made from scratch. But I have found that all of the food prep is worth it because again, the food goes far. For example, if you cut up veggies to roast, for 2 people, those veggies last forever! I recently made homemade tomato sauce to freeze. Sounds complicated, but it was not at all! All I did was puree the tomatoes, add the seasonings, cook for 1 hour (stirring every once in a while), and voila! And I will get multiple meals out of it!

7. Be patient. Not going to lie, there have been some "healthy" recipes I have made that did NOT taste good! Then there have been others that have been insanely good! So it's all about trial and error. You will learn what your family likes and what they don't.

8. We are NOT extreme! I still make cookies. I still make bars. We still eat desserts. We have not completely cut out anything labeled as "unhealthy". We are just enjoying eating healthIER. Call it splurging or call it realistic. We still like our ice cream and cookies! But, I have found a good brownie recipe that is healthy...

9. Believe it or not, it's fun! When I am in the kitchen making something from scratch, it gives me confidence as a baker and cooker. That I can make these what seem like crazy recipes. Plus, I have had this weird love for homesteading, so this just feeds into it all the more!

10. Once you start, you realize you just can't stop. When I am making something, I often think "how can I make this healthier?" Like spaghetti - I now make my own sauce, buy cheap organic pasta and shredded parmesan from Aldi. Boom. Healthier spaghetti. It really is about what you keep in your cupboards. What you keep in there, you will eat. All about choices!

Trust me, this whole thing is a work in progress! If you were to come to our house, you would still see cereal. Frozen pizzas (though I am learning how to even make those from scratch). Canned foods (like beans). We are not going crazy, don't worry. We are just trying to make better choices.

And, even though I haven't necessarily lost poundage, my clothes do fit differently! I think between exercising and eating healthier, I just feel better, and my clothes fit better too! Always a good feeling.

How about you? Do you have a go-to "real food" recipe that you would like to share? What are your thoughts about eating healthier? Scary? Too time-consuming? Worth it?

So here's to not making it a fad, but a life-changing goal! Stay tuned because I plan on writing more posts about how we are making this whole "eating healthier idea" possible!

Monday, September 28, 2015

This Week In Pictures

I tell myself that maybe one day I will stop posting weekly pictures of Mazy, but I just can't quit quite yet! She is just way too camera-loving to stop! Almost everytime I pull a camera out, she gets a big smile on her face. 

So here's yet another week, of Mazy-love!

She loves to stand on the couch and look out the window!
Tummy time is getting easier
I am so blessed to have this little girl in my life!

Mazy LOVES dogs! Thanks to our friends who let Mazy poke, prod, and pull on their dog, who takes it so well!
Mazy sure likes her beets (I can't stand them!)

It was an exhausting morning at MOPS apparently! So thankful for the women who care for all of those little kids, including Mazy!
Sometimes Mazy finds her bib to be more interesting than her food!

Just. Can't. Get. Enough. Of. Her.

As you can see, she just loves the camera!
Snuggle time with daddy!
Don't worry, I was right there to catch her - but she stands pretty well!

This week she is learning even more so, to put herself to sleep, even during nap time! Woohoo! Sometimes she will fight it for a bit and then we have to try again, but usually she will go down eventually! May not be for the longest time, but we will get there too. She is also sleeping well at night. I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to not have to get up with her! I know one day I will miss it, but for all of us, a full night's sleep is just a good thing! She is much happier then too.

She still loves her bike rides, which go on a couple each day, and just being outside. She is getting even more goofy, making the funniest sounds, and the thing is, she knows she's being goofy too. We just love seeing her little personality come out! 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

DIY and Natural Fruit Fly Remover

I don't know about you, but fruit flies in Minnesota are flocking into our home (if that's what you call a large group of fruit flies). They are so bad that we find ourselves swatting at them because they are starting to land on us. Usually they just stick to the fruit, but apparently they think our bodies are sweet tasting too. If you can't tell, they are driving us crazy!

So, I pulled out the only natural fruit fly killer I know - my apple cider/liquid dish soap concoction. It seriously works everytime! It may take a few tries or even a few days to get rid of them all, but every morning I find at least over 25 fruit flies floating ever so nicely in the concoction.

Here's the secret:

Fruit Fly "Remover"
1 small container
Small amount of apple cider vinegar (enough to cover bottom of container)
Few drops of liquid dish soap

Mix together with a few strokes and set out in the open on the counter where fruit flies are most prevalent.

Within half an hour, you will see fruit flies flying around the container. Then they will sit on the edge of the container (as if they question whether they should take the plunge) and then BAM, they do, and they are toast. The life of a fruit fly and this concoction.

Let me know if you try this and let me know the results!

Do you have any other ideas on how to get rid of fruit flies?

Friday, September 18, 2015

Mazy At 6 Months - Things To Remember

Stats: At her 6 month checkup today, Mazy weighed 17 lbs. 4 ounces (70th percentile) and is 27 1/2 inches tall (96th percentile). She sure is a healthy and tall girl!

Food: Mazy eats about every 3-4 hours and drinks about 6 ounces each time. She eats a fruit or vegetable at her noon feeding and then a bottle afterwards. Then we feed her cereal right before she goes to bed, to tie her over. She is currently eating at 8:00, 11:00, 2:30, 5:30, and 8:00.

Size: Mazy wears all 6-9 month shirts, 9 month pants, 6-9 month onesies, and 9 month sleepers (though heading towards needing to wear 12). She wears size 2 diapers during the day and size 3 at night.

Routine: Wait for it...MAZY IS SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT! One night she didn't wake up for her 3:00am feeding. The next night she didn't wake up for her 6:30 feeding. The next night she slept all the way through! She will sometimes wake up during the night, but we now let her cry it out and she can put herself back to sleep. It's a great day!

She usually wakes up around 8:00am. After her bottle, we typically go for a run or walk. At about 9:30, she is ready for her morning nap. She typically sleeps for about 1 hour (sometimes more, sometimes less). Then we feed her some type of veggie or fruit. She is still not a fan of green beans or peas, but she does like squash, carrots, pears, sweet potatoes, pears, and avocado. We were shocked she liked avocado because it is a different, bland, yet strong taste, but she loves it! Then we play for awhile - she loves her Quack, Quack book with touch and feel fur. She will chew on anything she can. She likes her blocks, any book, Violet, teething rings, activity center, and cups. By about 12:30 she is ready for another nap and this is when she can sleep from 1 hour to 3 hours. This part of the day varies, but as long as she sleeps for at least 2 hours total in the afternoon, she does okay at night. So bottle time varies as well. By 5:30 or 6:00 we get her back on schedule and give her a bottle. Then we go for a bike ride (if we haven't already because she LOVES them) and play until about 7:45. Then it's bathtime, cereal time, bottle time (about a 7 oz. bottle), then bedtime.

  • Mazy can now sit up on her own! We do use a boppy just for protection b/c she does tip over sometimes when trying to grab something.
  • She is jabbering like crazy. Right now it sounds like she is clearing her throat, but really she is just trying to talk and shout. It's adorable!
  • She tries to crawl by lifting up a leg and trying to do an army crawl, but no success yet
  • She rolled once from back to stomach, but has yet to do it again
  • Did I mention SHE SLEEPS THROUGH THE NIGHT? Dan and I had been praying that Mazy would be able to, and soon after, she did! I would try and let her cry it out before, but it would be 30 minutes of crying and I would give in. But then one night she just decided she would be okay. She still wakes up sometimes and we usually just let her cry it out and she'll put herself back to sleep.
  • We can put her in her bouncy awake for naps, and she can typically put herself to sleep! Still working on the crib, but that's okay
  • She is learning to hold onto toys very well and switch them from hand to hand
  • She can stand up against furniture with our hands there to guide

Other Things To Remember:
  • Mazy still isn't a huge fan of tummy time, but enjoys the challenge of trying to grab something.
  • Mazy likes it when you dance - either with her or just dancing in front of her. She gets the biggest smile on her face!
  • She loves to lay on her back and grab her feet, while jabbering about who knows what!
  • We drove through the night to go back to Michigan for a short weekend and she did fairly well!
  • Mazy's hair is growing by the day - it is blonde up top and dark blonde on the sides (just like her mother's)
  • Mazy loves to stand up against the couch and look out the window or sit on top of the couch (with assistance of course)
  • Mazy still LOVES to be outside - I can put her in the stroller by the garden and she could watch cars go by for 30-45 minutes.
  • Walks and bike rides never get old for her
Exactly 3 years ago we said goodbye to our 2 little embryos at just 3 weeks. So little, but lives that forever changed us. Last night while lying in bed, we both said how we never imagined our life to look like this, but couldn't imagine it any other way. Mazy is a daily reminder of hope. Of God restoring our hope through some of life's fiercest storms. Today is a celebration of life in many ways. It is Dan's 34th birthday, we celebrate Mazy being 6 months old, and we celebrate the lives of our 2 children in heaven, 3 years ago. We can only imagine what they are doing, but we know that one day we will all celebrate together as a family of 5. Until then, we will live each day to the fullest with our little miracle here - Mazy Grace.

And it is only by HIS grace, we hold her.

We love you more than words can say, Mazy!