Monday, January 28, 2013

Mama Monday - Delayed Cord Clamping

What Is Cord Clamping?
In order to cut the umbilical cord, the doctor or midwife must first clamp the cord with a small piece of plastic, similar to a hair barrette, to stop the flow of blood and stretch the tissue making it easier to cut. Many hospitals and caregivers have adopted the routine practice of immediately clamping the cord (within one minute) once the baby is born. Research shows that delayed cord clamping (2-3 minutes, or until the cord stops pulsating) has multiple benefits for the baby including reducing jaundice and anemia. 
There are also benefits to the mother, which include keeping the mother baby unit intact, and not interfering with the placental delivery. Severe blood loss and other complications can occur if physiological placental delivery is interrupted. It is important to ask your caregiver what his or her routine procedures are, as well as the evidence and reasoning behind them.

Why Delay Cord Clamping?

There is an interesting phenomenon that happens where blood pulsates between the placenta and your baby for several moments after the baby is born. This is called placental transfusion. What is happening is your baby’s blood volume is being regulated. While inside your uterus, your baby’s blood volume, blood flow, heartbeat, oxygen level, nutrient intake and so much more was regulated by your internal systems, via the placenta. Once outside your body, your baby has a transition time where her body learns to regulate its systems on its own. During this time, your baby's lungs are excreting the fluid that was in them and learning to breathe air. It's important that your baby have adequate red blood cells, stem cells and immune cells to transition from life inside the womb to life on the outside. 
Almost half your baby’s entire blood volume is in the cord at the moment of birth, and if the cord is clamped and cut too soon, your baby’s body will have to work that much harder to replenish the proper amount of red blood cells, oxygen and nutrients. Once the cord has stopped pulsating, we know this process, called placental transfusion is complete and the cord can be safely cut. If the cord is cut too soon, the baby may receive poor APGAR scores or have more jaundice than usual.  
What Should You Do?
First, you should learn for yourself the evidence and benefits of delayed cord clamping. Books like The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth and Your Best Birth are great places to start. 
More information about the practice of delayed cord clamping can be found at the following websites: 
Also, check out this great video that explains it all with an excellent visual!
Secondly, it's imperative that you talk to your healthcare provider and find out what her routine practices are regarding cord clamping. The best way to do this is to write a birth plan and use it as a communication tool for you and your doctor or midwife.  

I have written a detailed Birth Plan Manual that can help you with this process. Please contact me for more information about my products and services. Be informed and empowered about your choices!

Friday, January 25, 2013

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart. 
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

It's one of those precious, sweet mile markers of childhood. Riding a bike. My almost six year old has tried on many occasions, with much help and cheering from myself and my husband, even the other kids. So we let it rest for a while, and got him a scooter to ride along with his bike with training wheels. Then, he approached me after a long while and asked for help to try again. 

So, we went outside to try again. On his first take-off, the moment after I let go (when he normally would have wobbled slightly and immediately put a foot down), he just kept going. It was like magic to watch. He kept going, and going, and curved down the next driveway and into the street so he could see my face. It melted me to see the excitement on his face and hear him as he shouted, "I'm doing it! I'm riding my bike! With no training wheels! I can really do it and it's not hard! I'm so excited I want to tell everyone; I want to call everyone: Dad, Marc, Uncle Jesse, Aunt Jeannie, Mimi, anyone. Anyone who will answer I want to tell them I can ride my bike!!"

It is truly these {moments} that make it all, every slogging bit of it, worth it. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comments. 

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

haiku wednesday

seems I'm just treading
water. one day at a time.
take it as it comes.

Friday, January 18, 2013

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart. 
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

Happily roped in to a paper hat making project, by special invitation from Miss Corrinne. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment!

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

haiku wednesday

i find motherhood
is owning weakness and grace
not being perfect

Monday, January 14, 2013

Mama Monday - The "Hey Mommies"

How many of you have seen this clip?

If you haven't, it's worth a chuckle to click play. If you're a mommy too, it's a little gratifying to know you're not the only one to feel exhausted with what I call the "Hey Mommies."

In any given day I am inundated with any one of the following hey mommies 16 thousand times:

"Hey Mommy, did you know who Anakin becomes? Darth Vader. Did you know that?"

"Hey Mommy, are we doing anything fun today?"

"Hey Mom, these shoes make me run fast, wanna see?"

"Hey Mommy, knock knock...[insert punchline that makes absolute zero sense]"

"Hey Mom, can we eat lunch at school today?"

"Hey Mommy, did you know sponges are almost indestructible?"

"Hey Mom, can we have dessert tonight?"

"Hey Momma, when are we going to the library again, because you said, remember when you said we were going to go to the library and get to play on the computers there because you don't like us to play on the computer at home because you say we're going to break it so you always make us play on the computers at the library, and remember YOU SAID, and you PROMISED we could go today?"

"Hey Missy, can you ask Aunt Jeannie if cousin Jack can spend the night tonight?"

"Hey Missy, did you ask her? Can he? Well, can he tomorrow night? How about next weekend?"

"Hey Missy, did you know [insert some random string of facts about Pokemon games that I did not know and still will never know because it is...Pokemon]?"

"Hey Missy, look at this icicle I found."

"Hey Missy, look at this other icicle I found."

"Hey Missy, look, this one's bigger!!"

And the list goes on and on and on (and on and on). Then, when you share parenting with another parent, you get the inevitable "Hey Dad...I mean...Hey Mommy..." for a couple of days when they get back to your house. 

And it's exhausting. A friend and I were talking the other day about how sometimes we just want to not have to answer. Do you ever just want to say, "Mommy needs some quiet time to be quiet, while you're Quiet and let her be QUIET."

I'll be the first to admit that I've said (on more than one occasion), "I need you to stop talking to me, please."

But after that conversation with my friend, I got to thinking about something very sweet about my husband that in turn caused me to really appreciate the "Hey Mommies."

At the end of each day when my husband comes home from work, he sets in to tell me about all of his challenges, successes, and funny stories of the day. Sometimes I even feel tired as he talks to me while I fix dinner, but I am energized knowing that he WANTS to share his day with me. Isn't that all most of us want from our husbands? Don't we long for them to come home at the end of the day and talk to us about theirs, and ask us about ours? I am so fortunate to be my husband's friend, the one person he wants to share his stories with each day. And I cherish listening to them. 

It occurred to me that we are that person to our kids too. Yes, sometimes they're just talking to whomever will listen, but I genuinely think for the most part we are the intended audience for their thoughts, concerns, questions, show and tells, and tears. They want us to see their cool trick on their scooters, and watch all 25 times they try to recreate it because, "Oh, I messed up...hang on. Just watch one more time!"

We, as mommies and daddies, are the very people our children look to for praise, reassurance, critique, teaching, boundaries, companionship and so much more.

As I remember that I've set a goal for myself to have more grace with my children, I will make a choice to patiently answer and listen, at least a little more, to the "Hey Mommies."

Otherwise there may come a day when I don't hear them any more. And that sure would be some tragic quiet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart. 
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

While cutting up pieces of cardboard to build a lemonade stand, Aidan seemed to be taking a stand for something else. Isn't it amazing how the sweet voices of children can guide us? If only we would listen.

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comments. 

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

haiku wednesday

babes' breath in my bed
the sound intoxicating
fleeting precious mine

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Getting Real - Food

In My Resolution post, I shared that we are getting real in our house. If you follow me on twitter or are friends with me on facebook, you know I've been mildly (or not so mildly) obsessed lately with health documentaries and researching information about processed foods, what's in our water, nutrients, and so much more.

Forget fad diets and counting calories. Those simply are not sustainable long term. Not for me and not for MOST people. The more I learn, the more I'm convinced that to be truly healthy, not to mention a more responsible citizen of our planet, we must consume more food that is unprocessed and resembles what it looks like in nature. Real food, not food like products. Real food, not food coated in chemicals and preservatives.

There is a lot of information out there for you to research yourself, but at the core of this "Real Food" movement there is basically a lot of common sense. Put simply, our bodies were designed to function a certain way and to need certain nutrients. These nutrients are the fuel for our body. If you put something in your body it wasn't designed to process or digest, it seems a logical conclusion that our bodies will malfunction. Considering the vast majority of the "food" we consume as Americans comes in a box or can, with chemicals and preservatives and huge amounts of refined sugar (which is NOT a real food - it's found nowhere in nature), it's no wonder we are so sick, tired, out of shape and overweight!

So, we are making changes around here. The 100 Days of Real Food blog has been a great resource for me in taking the plunge towards an unprocessed life. I highly encourage you to check it out. Now, I'm not saying I'm perfect or that we don't eat ANY processed food anymore. In fact, there is macaroni and cheese in my pantry, and I fed my kids frozen waffles from a box this morning (they were partially whole grain...but that's only partially helpful). I will still choose to eat fast food from time to time and won't be picky when eating at others' homes. I'm not about to analyze another's cooking with questions like, "Is this bread really whole grain or is it made from enriched white flour," and "Is this cheese organic and local or did you buy it from Wal-Mart?" There are some things that are just out of our control and it's not my desire to disrupt other people's lives because of choices I'm making in my own.

In my opinion, getting real doesn't mean being perfect and never having a doughnut. To me it means decreasing the amount of crap and increasing the amount of real nutrients I put in my body so that when I do eat a little crap it's not nearly as detrimental. At least...that seems logical to me! So we're slowly making small changes.

Replacing the Staples:

Rather than dumping out everything in my fridge and pantry and spending a buttload of money on new products, I am slowly making better choices as we run out of staple food items. Also, I figure that even if I don't replace everything in our diets with unprocessed options, I can at least replace the things we eat the most of. Here are some examples:
  • Bread. I do not buy store bought bread any more. Even the most healthy looking (and expensive) brands contain sugar, dyes, high fructose corn syrup and unnecessary additives. I now make my own bread at home from real, natural ingredients. All toast, bread and butter, kids sandwiches are from this bread. One of these days I'll do a separate post on the recipe and how I do it step-by-step. For now, ask me if you're interested!
  • Coffee Fixin's - Coffee is a daily must for me. I used to use flavored creamers in my coffee which have partially hydrogenated oils, sugar and corn syrups in them (among other things) which are b.a.d. I now use real dairy cream or half and half, with local honey (I use Cheatwood's, made in Sapulpa) or 100% Pure Maple Syrup for sweetener. 
  • Granola - The kids are still not psyched about it for breakfast, but I snack on it often. I've shared my mama-nola recipe before and it's the same one. On greek yogurt or alone it's a great alternative the sugary overprocessed boxed cereals in the grocery store!
  • Kids' Breakfasts - We are eating more plain oatmeal, homemade real food waffles or pancakes, eggs and toast and fresh fruit. 
  • Lots of Fresh Fruit and Veggies. Not canned, but sometimes frozen. Yes, my kids eat salad. No, they didn't used to. That took work, time and patience. Not very long ago, my littles would gag and vomit at the dinner table if I put "leaves" on their plates. But I stayed steadfast, kept putting it in front of them and basically told them if they didn't want it, they didn't get dinner. They've gone to bed hungry many nights, but now ask for SECONDS on salad and other veggies! My fruit bowl stays full of apples, bananas, pears, oranges and the like and the kids know that they can help themselves to it whenever they want! Me too!
  • Butter and Real Fats - Yep. NO more margerine or spray butters. No more refined oils like canola oil. Butter and Olive Oil are real, minimally processed fats that are actually nutritious. I do try not to overdo it on the fats, but incorporating REAL, healthy fats in our diets is very important for absorbing other vital nutrients!
  • Reading Labels - This is really the starting point for everything, and it's still tripping me up. I should know better by now to trust something that says "natural peanut butter" without reading the label. I recently bought commercial mayonnaise, dry roasted peanuts and peanut butter thinking it was safe, only to find they all had TONS of other "stuff" in them. The more you read labels, the more you will find hidden sugars, preservatives and fillers that have no connection with the perceived food you are purchasing. Reading labels helps you learn what is real food and what is a food substitute!
I have found as I've started eating this way, I feel better. I lose weight without trying. I gain weight back and start feeling bloated and tired when I start letting processed foods creep back in. When I eat real food, my body shape looks better, my skin looks better and it's harder for me to get sick. In November and December, when my family went through a massive bout of illness, I remained the healthiest by far (though I did have a few days with a cough/cold, it was definitely minor compared to everyone else).

It's still a journey, and I'm learning, and I will share more with you along the way!

Here's to happy and healthy eating!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Mama Monday - Lap Child with Guest Blogger Jessica Chang

Generally on Mama Mondays, I write posts that revolve around pregnancy and childbirth issues, but I also like to include inspirational or practical information about motherhood and parenting. Thanks to an eye-opening experience and great suggestion from a friend the other day, I have a great guest blogger for you today!
I met Jessica Chang through my friend, Dawn Westmoreland, who is a hair and make-up artist (she made me beautiful for my wedding day!). Jessica is a professional photographer, and she and Dawn teamed up to create Couture by JJC Photography. Couture is high fashion bridal photography where the bride gets to feel like she is a model in the pages of Vogue. I got to model for the portfolio and it was SO much fun!
Jessica also is blessed with a multicultural family and has the opportunity to travel overseas from time to time. After her most recent international trip, she picked up some pointers that will be helpful to all parents, whether hopping the ocean or not! Enjoy!

Lap Child
This holiday season I was blessed with the opportunity to take my children to meet my maternal family, overseas in Germany.  I have an almost 5 year old girl and a 17 month old girl. I love them to death and believe that they are great children. However, I wish someone would have been able to share with me some tips on traveling overseas with an infant lap child. I write to you all today hoping that this information may be of some use to you or a friend of yours you may know who will be traveling with a lap child as well. My experience that I’m sharing with you is three major European airports; Amsterdam, Stuttgart, and Paris.

My first and most important bit of advice will be…. Arrive to airport 3 hours early, not 2. Apparently when traveling with a lap child you will not be able to check in with the quick check in station located for your convenience. The front desk will have to do the check in for you. When they check you in, make sure they give you what my airlines (Delta) (Air France) and (KLM) all the same affiliate, called “coupons.” It is an additional boarding pass for the infant that goes with the main passengers boarding pass. For reasons I don’t understand I’m not sure why they don’t just call it a boarding pass for the infant, but it is not a “boarding pass”.  The other reason to arrive an extra hour early is because of the possibility that they may not be able to find your lap child in the computer system... Everyone else shows up on the screen but the child! AHHHHH! This is the main reason I suggest the extra hour.

As far as packing; DO NOT TAKE ANY CARRY ON LUGGAGE! At the most, of course, bring one back pack with diapers, wipes, butt paste and a sippy cup. The crew has enough snacks and drinks for you and your child. Also add a few distracting toys to keep your child occupied. CHECK YOUR STROLLER AND CAR SEAT WITH YOUR LUGGAGE! IT’S FREE! We thought it would be a great idea to use our stroller to help get the 17 month old from one terminal to the other, but in reality once we were in Europe it was nothing but a hassle. The three airports I mentioned earlier are not children or handicap friendly.   


As you can see in my picture here, you exit outside then take a bus to the next terminal, then you have to take stairs again. Strollers and carry-on luggage along with stairs all at the same time does not equal a friendly and easy experience.  

AND if your child still fits in a sling or soft baby carrier, GET ONE!!! Seriously, the less you have with you, the better. As you can see, I LEARNED THE HARD WAY. 

When booking your seats, try to get the first row in your section. It has extra leg room as we all know. But did you know that THEY CAN ATTACH AN INFANT BED TO THE WALL IN FRONT OF YOU?! On the way there, the lady in front of me was sitting in that row with her infant and was allowed to use the device… needless to say, I was extremely jealous. As long as the seatbelt sign was off, the lap child was allowed to be sleeping in it. This left the mothers arms empty to enjoy her dinner and or the movie that was showing. This is a must if I ever travel with this young of a child again. Thankfully, we did get some rest from time to time!


I wish everyone happy traveling.   Do your research, and most importantly of all, ENJOY YOURSELF AND YOUR LOVED ONES!

Jessica J Chang

Friday, January 4, 2013

{my moment}

A moment captured from the week that captured my heart. 
A Friday ritual inspired by Soulemama.

Yesterday, I took the littles to the library for "The Paper Airplane Challenge." It was fun to learn to make several different airplanes, and even a helicopter! When we walked over to the final table to make the helicopter, a sweet little girl asked the boys, "Do you need help?" I love seeing children of different ages working together and teaching each other. I get the opportunity to witness something truly precious and untainted in human nature. 

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your moment in your comment!

Happy Weekend, Lovies!

Bookshelf Update and a Flyby Book Report

It's been a while since I've written about any of the books I'm reading. I realized that when I took a look at my "On My Bookshelf" gadget. You may not have ever noticed it. You can look now, over to the right and scroll down until you see the words "On My Bookshelf." If you're ever curious about what I'm currently reading, that's where you'll find your answer!

Reading is super important. Period. As a childbirth professional, it is of the utmost importance that I continue to read and learn about my field and stay up-to-date with information and techniques for my clients. As a person, it's important that I continue to learn and grow and use the parts of my brain reading requires! Yet another reason why I'm addicted to NPR - it's so good for us emotionally and mentally to listen, learn, stretch our opinions and grow...but NPR is a whole 'nuther post.

In addition to not updating my bookshelf in some time, I've gotten lazy with my book reports and must apologize. If you're a parent, you know as well as I do that it's hard enough making time to read books let alone write reports on them! Thankfully I finished most of the ones on my previous list; I just don't have the time to write whole posts about each one, so I'm going to do a quick flyby book report on my previous list of books!

  1. Every Last One by Anna Quindlen - This one was on the bargain table at Barnes and Noble. I picked it up because I LOVED Rise and Shine by the same author and hoped this one would be as good. It wasn't. It was an interesting story about a family who endured a terrible tragedy and how they overcame it, but it just really dragged on and on and seemed to have an overarching sad feeling. Except for the ONE climactic part in the book, there were few parts that hooked into me to keep me reading. And there were more than a few typos which is annoying when you consider how much money was spent editing and publishing a book like that. I know now why it was on the bargain table!
  2. Birth Matters by Ina May Gaskin - I did actually write an initial book report on this one when I first started reading in my post about The Legacy of Ina May. It's probably best that I not try to write just one post on this book because it would be very long. I borrowed this one from the library, but really should own it. I cannot stress the importance of this book within the realm of understanding childbirth in our country. Childbirth is truly in crisis in our country. We have one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the WORLD despite the fact that we spend astronomical amounts of money on health care and maternity care compared to all other industrialized nations. To understand why that is, you really have to understand the history of modern obstetrics as well as the physiological process of childbirth itself. If you are a doula or childbirth professional, or a member of our society you really must read this book. I'm not kidding. We need people who aren't even connected to the childbirth community to take a look at what's going on (and more importantly what isn't), wake up and help draw attention and make changes! 'Nuff said. Read it.
  3. Unhealthy Truth by Robyn O'Brien - I borrowed this one from a neighbor and actually returned it before I even opened it, and I'll tell you why. I made a conscious choice to remain blissfully ignorant. At the time, I didn't have the emotional capacity or budget to really change my family's eating habits and I knew that if I read this book it would put me over the edge of "knowing too much to turn back." I have since changed my stance (read my resolution post - #1 is about getting real) and will be asking her to borrow it again!
  4. Birth Partner by Penny Simkin - Honestly, this one is always on my bookshelf. It's an excellent reference book for childbirth professionals, and is always within reach. I think at the time I put this on my list, I was using it as a reference point for a particular part of my birth plan manual I was writing at the time. If someone close to you (like your wife) is having a baby, it's a must read. If you're pregnant, buy it for your husband or partner and use every bribe in the book to get him or her to read it!
Whew! Now that we've gotten through that, it's time for an update. Before I can get to my current list, I actually need to add in a few audio books I've listened to in the meantime! See how behind I was on an update?!
  1. Look Me In the Eye: My Life with Asperger's (audio book) by John Elder Robison - Oh my gosh. Excellent book. One of my favorite library borrows. My stepson has Asperger's and I am constantly trying to learn and understand him better so when I saw this one, it was a no brainer. Fascinating account, ready by the author himself who relays his life experiences expertly. It was encouraging for me to hear an account of a man who was able to adapt to "normal" life so well in spite of his challenges and is a successful entrepreneur, husband and father. If you know anyone with Asperger's (or even if you don't), this is a fascinating read.
  2. The Hunger Games (audio book) by Suzanne Collins - So great! I'd already seen the movie but wanted to read it too. There is a LONG waiting list for this one at the library. It was months before I got the email that it was ready for me to pick up, and in fact, it's been weeks since I requested the second book in the series and I still haven't heard a word! 
Okay! Now that we've gotten through THAT, below are the books CURRENTLY on my bookshelf!

  1. What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures (audio book) by Malcolm Gladwell - This book is just super interesting. It's like listening to the best of NPR. It's hard to explain the premise but it's a collection of stories of entrepreneurs, business owners and various people who somehow totally transformed the industry in which they worked because of their unique perspective, passion or tenacity. Very interesting and inspiring. 

  1. Pushed: The Painful Truth About Childbirth and Modern Maternity Care by Jennifer Block - This one is going up there with my must reads. Can't give full report yet since I've just started it. But it's SO important in understanding childbirth practices in our country to truly grasp the concept of Normal Birth. If you understand what Normal Birth is, it's easy to look at modern maternity and obstetric care and see that something is terribly wrong.

  1. Make Your Place: Affordable, Sustainable Nesting Skills by Raleigh Briggs - This is no question the cutest book I own. This handwritten book shares a wealth of information about how to clean your home and body with natural, non-toxic recipes, how to compost and garden and oh so many other things. It was a wedding gift from a dear friend of mine (Thanks Sally!!), and I'm so glad I'm finally getting around to devouring it. As I delve into the world of essential oils for health and beauty in my family, I'm loving trying out all the recipes for natural personal care products!

  1. Natural Babycare By Dodt, Colleen K. - This one isn't new. I've actually owned it for years. Just revisiting as I revamp and create some new products for my personal care line. Good stuff!

  1. Homebirth in the Hospital: Integrating Natural Childbirth with Modern Medicine by Stacy Kerr MD - I haven't even cracked this one open yet. No wonder with four other books to juggle, huh? As a doula, I have to remain neutral on the "natural" childbirth field. I support women no matter where they give birth and no matter what options they choose in birth. Though I do have many clients seeking a more natural experience, the vast majority of women I serve and know give birth in hospitals. Integrating natural methods of childbirth into hospital routines and practice is something I do on a daily basis, so I'm interested to read this perspective, especially from a doctor! 

Double whew! That was a lot to spit out. I hope to give full reports on each of these going forward. Now, what are YOU reading??

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Resolution: Choose Happiness

Resolve: verb. to come to a determination; make up one's mind; determine (often followed by on  or upon  ): to resolve on a plan of action.
Resolution:  noun. 1. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. 2. the act of resolving or determining upon an action or course of action, method, procedure, etc. 3. the mental state or quality of being resolved or resolute; firmness of purpose.
I have shied away from making or declaring New Year's Resolutions for many years, based mostly on the understanding that most people do not keep their resolutions. Even more than that, I know myself and I don't like to disappoint myself. So, I pretty much resolved not to make promises I didn't think I could keep...or promises I was afraid I couldn't keep.

Well, this year I'm not making any resolutions out of fear. I think resolutions are good. There is a verse in the Bible that says where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18). I have found this to be true in my own life in the sense that when we make no plan of action or refuse to set goals, I don't get anything done. So, this year I'm setting goals.

Most of my list is summed up under one umbrella resolution:
Choose Happiness.
How do you like that? Choose Happiness. And I do mean happiness, not joy. Joy is a whole 'nuther blog post. I mean the momentary, right here and now in the moment, as well as long-lasting happiness. I will choose to do things that make me happy, now and in the future. Conversely, I will choose NOT to do things that don't make me happy. 

Honestly, this philosophy of choosing happiness began welling up inside of me a few years ago, when I was a single and dating mom. I had come to the end of a pretty unhealthy dating relationship with a man that was completely wrong for me on many levels. All I can say looking back on it is that I must have been suffering from temporary insanity! What I realized at some point was that I was choosing to remain with someone that didn't make me happy. In fact, he made me very sad. Among other things, he didn't like children. At all. Kind of a problem for someone with two kids, huh. I realized I was actually happier "alone" than with him, and at that point began setting as my purpose in my life to choose happiness and to make my own happiness in life. This is why I say, "Life is what you make of it; make honey!"

Recently, I attended a yoga class wherein the instructor said something that really completed this philosophy for me. As she instructed us on how to complete the exercise we were doing, she encouraged us, saying, "If you feel strong today and feel you have more to give, go ahead and push a little further and stretch a little more. But if you don't, just go easy. Don't do anything that will cause you to be unhappy."

Wow. That statement resonated deeply in me. How many hours have I spent on fad diets or grueling exercise that does not make me happy (or skinny for that matter)? How long have I spent in unhealthy relationships or in jobs that don't satisfy me, or putting up with clutter or things in my home that need repair, etc. that actually bring unhappiness to my life? This truly touches so many areas of my life.

So, overall my resolution is twofold:
Choose Happiness

        Don't do things that make you unhappy.
Under this umbrella I do have a list. Here's the list
  1. Get real. Cutting out as much processed food and beauty products as possible. Processed food makes me feel bad physically and emotionally. It makes my stomach hurt, causes me to feel tired and lethargic and causes me to gain weight (which makes my clothes fit poorly and makes me unhappy. Eating "real food" (check out 100 Days of Real Food for more info on this term) makes me happy. It helps me feel good inside, manage my weight and gives me energy. Preparing real food for my family makes me happy because I know I am helping them to be healthy and strong. Using natural, homemade beauty products makes me happy too. Knowing that I'm doing something good for my body by eliminating unnatural and harmful chemicals (for myself and the planet) brings me away from unhappiness and makes me happy.
  2. Keep my job. I LOVE my job. I starting working from home because doula a childbirth work was my dream, but also because I wanted to be more available for my children. Making my business successful ensures I can continue to do what I love and spend as much time with my family as possible. These are things that make me happy! But, if I am not successful and don't make money, I won't be able to keep doing it and will have to get a more traditional job. That would make me uhnappy!! So, I have a handful of goals under this one that will help me achieve that success, including completing my DONA certification, publishing my Birth Plan Manual, and revamping and adding to my line of personal care products, among other things.
  3. Be gracious. This is kind of a vague one. But includes lots of things. Mainly my parenting - not yelling at my kids and being more gracious with them and my husband about things that bug me. I've developed quite a habit of nagging and micromanaging when it comes to kids' chores and everyone cleaning up after themselves. I don't have a complete game plan for this one yet, and hopefully I'll let you know when I do. My goal is to give others grace and not expect them to be perfect. I am not perfect. AT ALL. I simply cannot expect others to be either! Yelling at my children and nagging my husband makes me feel unhappy, so it's a no go. Being nice to them makes me happy so that's a yes. Conversations with my husband about how to make household tasks run more smoothly over the past week or so have been a starting point for accomplishing this goal. Communication really is everything!
  4. Cultivate thankfulness. In the month of November, I wrote down something every day that I was thankful for in preparation for Thanskgiving. I also asked the kids each day at bedtime to tell me something they were thankful for and wrote that down. I stopped doing it after Thanksgiving and want to bring back that daily practice. It's definitely a choice that brings spiritual and emotional happiness to my life. In addition to my own recognition of blessings in my life, engaging the dialogue with my children and husband strengthens our relationships in amazing ways. What an incredible way to choose happiness!
  5. Save more. Being broke makes me unhappy. Having money makes me happy. Having money for bills and vacations and gifts and the future makes me happy. Plan of action is making sure to simply transfer a predetermined amount of money out of every paycheck and place it in savings. If that predetermined amount isn't possible, even putting as little as a penny is better than nothing. Boom. Happiness. This also includes not spending money we don't have on silly stuff. Getting real helps us do that. Eating real food means less eating out and eating more simply. Also, using natural and homemade cleaning and beauty products saves tons of money. Double Boom. 
I feel good about my resolutions. They leave room for error and imperfection. They're goals to shoot for. I'm not going to hate myself if I eat an oreo because I know that my goal is to incorporate more unprocessed food and eat less processed food. I'm not going to beat myself up if I lose my temper with my family because I'll be choosing to be gracious with myself as well. Instead I'll apologize and move forward in grace. And if I miss a day of being explicitly thankful, it doesn't reduce my level of thankfulness at all.

Choose Happiness. It's a no fail resolution if you ask me!

Love and Honey,

haiku wednesday

my resolutions
are summed up in two little
words: choose happiness

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