The Mom Conference: A free online conference for moms running all week!

 There are so many conferences out there that I see moms attending (about crafting, blogging, and more). But there is honestly no way I am going to be able to attend any of those conferences this year with two small kiddos and a newborn! But my little mommy heart leapt for joy when I saw this FREE ONLINE conference for moms running ALL THIS WEEK. It's called The Mom Conference. I signed up right away—it was totally free. Watch the video below to get a taste of what the Mom Conference is all about. I stopped in and already watched an amazing video on how to make all-natural laundry detergent. Click the image below to sign up! 


Lena's Birth Story: PART 2 — "Go Time"

The "moms" were staring at me from across the kitchen island on Saturday, February 22nd. Wes' mom and my mom were talking about how a watched pot never boils. I was five days "overdue." That didn't really mean anything at all, because I wasn't exactly sure when I had even ovulated in the first place, and we were going off of sonogram dates at 22 weeks along for my due date. I was waiting for Lena's little body to release some hormones that would then tell my body it was "go time." I was really in no hurry at all. It's funny how that goes with a third baby. I remember with Finn I was doing all SORTS of crazy things to get him to come (he was almost 2 weeks over, and I had an awful experience with an spicy chile relleno dinner, and vowed never to do that again). I was happy to let Lena bake a little longer, but I also knew that everyone else in the family was anxious for things to happen (plus they had return plane tickets with a shelf life).

That whole week I'd been trying a few low key things to encourage labor. Since I was getting really close, I figured a little romp in the hay or some long walks around the block couldn't hurt. I just made sure to steer clear of things like castor oil and the infamous chile relleno dinner. Eventually I gave up, and just went about things as usual, which is what landed me in the kitchen with everyone just watching me—the non-boiling pot. Luckily, though, I soon lost my plug (and if you don't know what I mean, don't go running to search Google images unless you are really comfortable with uncomfortable imagery). I announced triumphantly that I was going to be in labor very soon! Maybe even imminently. Everyone was excited. I sent a text to my midwife, Jewel, and my doula, Hillary. "I lost my plug!! I am having some twinges!!" They were excited, too.

And then crickets.

I was under this grand disillusion that my previous labors had been over 24 hours because of the epidural situation. I assumed going med-free meant I would have a much shorter labor. But what I soon learned is that while the epidural did slow my labor down once I was in the hospital, my body was still capable of having a very looooooooong and drawn out early (or latent) labor. I finally started having what I knew were contractions that would lead to something on Saturday night. But they were sporadic and not progressing. I remembered exactly what real contractions felt like, so I knew I could sleep through these just fine. No need to get all antsy and stay awake all night feeling excited over nothing. So we packed up the hospital bags just in case, and I took inventory of my extremely thorough "labor comfort" kit (that's a whole other post). I cleaned up the living room, and went to bed. Only the contractions woke me up in the middle of the night. Sweet! I started timing them, and let Wes sleep. But they were still not regular. They were more intense, but not regular.

By the time the sun was up Sunday morning, I had been awake since about 1am. I was tired. I had a headache. I kept hoping I was really in labor. They were real contractions, but they were kind of gun shy. When the kids woke up and started making noise, they went away all together for hours! I kept having signs that my body was dilating (moms who have experienced labor will know what I mean). So I knew this would end in a baby. But in the mean time I was really tired, it was noon, and I had to make a choice. I could start trying things like more walking and nipple stimulation now and kick this into high gear, or I could sleep. I reallllly wanted to sleep. So I tried that for a few hours and my headache woke me up. Ugh. I was starting to worry about going through an intense natural labor later when I was already feeling so worn out.

Wes opened all the windows. We ate. We decided to go for a walk. We walked and walked all around the neighborhood and told neighbors, "I'm technically in labor..." My hips felt so crazy like rubberbands or jell-o. I felt like they might just disconnect from my body at any moment. But still no real progress was being made with contraction intensity. I was getting antsy. I had been texting my doula, Hillary, on and off throughout the day. She was very supportive and calm. All of her texts were some encouraging version of this:

After dinner, I could feel myself getting panicky over having to go through another sleepless night of fake-me-out labor. I was ready to get SERIOUS about this. I kept telling my body it needed to progress, but it wasn't listening. Wes finally came in and convinced me to do nipple stimulation (which was recommended by my doula, midwife, and handful of friends). I am here to tell you that it WORKS. After only about ten minutes (and I won't go into details, you can google it if you need to know the method), I was having actual contractions every 5 minutes or so. So with things jumpstarted, I decided to sit on the exercise ball for a while. Wes turned on Pride and Prejudice in the bedroom, and we watched that for an hour, just the two of us, while I sat and bounced and timed contractions. He had the window open, and I remember watching the sun going down over the snow-capped mountains with a blushing sunset behind. It was really peaceful. Then my mom announced that the season finale of Downton Abbey was on. !!! What?! I was going to miss that? ;) I moved my big pink exercise ball out into the living room. I bounced, and timed, and watched. After we sent everyone to bed, I assured them that I would be GONE in the morning.

Wes went to sleep and I rested and timed contractions some more. About midnight they started to get stronger, so I took a bath. That was amazing. Contractions in water were so surreal. It felt very elemental. I wanted to stay in there forever, partly because it felt good, and partly because I felt like I didn't think I could actually get out of that tub! I called for Wes, but he was sleeping really soundly (and I didn't call too loud, because I didn't want to wake Finn and Maya up since they had school in the morning). I managed to somehow get out and get myself dressed. I wanted to distract myself, so I did full hair and makeup—ha! Just something to pass the time. I even worked on my cuticles between contractions. I think I even slapped a clear coat on my nails! Overachiever, I know.

At 1am I woke Wes up and said I needed some support. Contractions were every 4-5 minutes, and I was swaying and breathing through them. I would lean over the dresser or sink and sway and breathe and it was great. I was totally handling it. But they were getting stronger, and I finally told Wes to text Hillary to come over. When she got to my house around 2:30, I could no longer talk or look at anyone during a contraction. I could only sway and breathe and focus. I didn't want to do anything else. I would walk around the dark and quiet house between contractions. But during, I would need Wes and Hillary to do things like counter pressure on my hips, or use different types of touch for distraction. Wes would push on my temples, then my chest, then my arms. It felt really good, and kept me focused on touch rather than pain. At that point it didn't seem so much painful as just uncomfortable. But knowing what my body was doing, I didn't feel fearful at all, and I wasn't in a large amount of actual pain. It was intense, but not unbearable. Hillary was reciting the prompts from my hypnobirthing CDs, and it was awesome. I could totally get into that, and visualize what she was saying.

The hours seemed to pass quickly—probably because I was focusing on small segments of time. I was expectant and centered. Before I knew it, it was 5am. I ate a bowl of cereal, and Hillary suggested we transport to the hospital. I knew she could tell I was ready to do that. I felt like if I could get there, I wouldn't have to hold back at all, and my body could move forward. It also might slow things down at first to make the transfer, and I wanted to get that out of the way. Hillary guessed I was 4-5cm at that point based on my demeanor, and it was a good time to go.

I remember it felt so quiet and dark outside. We live in a small town, and I was headed to our equally small hospital just 5 minutes away. It was cold (February in Utah), but I'd been wearing a heated rice bag on my shoulders the whole time, and didn't want to have to put on a coat. The combo of the cold air and heated rice bag felt great, and helped me through the few contractions I had on the way to the hospital.

When we arrived, it was so quiet and empty. We walked down to labor and delivery. I was the only one in labor (there was only one other mom who had delivered the day before). The admitting nurse, Malena, watched me have a contraction and asked if I wanted a room with a tub. I said I did. We went in, got settled, and I immediately looked for a ledge to lean on so I could do my rock and sway thing. I think we went through the admitting process. I vaguely remember getting changed into a gown and Malena hooking me up to the fetal monitor just for a few minutes to make sure Lena was A-OK (which she was). They gave me a hep lock (like a port for an IV), just in case I needed an IV later. But other than that, I was free to resume my modus operandi. Sway, breathe, sway, breathe.

Melina asked if I wanted to have my cervix checked or keep laboring for a while. I wanted to know how dilated I was. Contractions were INTENSE at this point. And while they had slowed down (6ish minutes apart), they were getting stronger. Each one seemed to rise up from the ground, through my legs, and radiate into my body. I would surrender for that brief moment, before having a few blissful minutes of release before a new contraction would swell. I still felt like I was handling them fairly well, as long as I had Wes and Hillary. I would raise a finger and nod, and they'd hurry over.

"Let's get you checked and see how dilated you are, and then we'll call Jewel," Melina said. It was 6:15 am. I'd been awake since 1am the day BEFORE, and I was ready to get this show on the road. I was pumped. Only what Malena said next pretty much took all wind out of my sails...

Tune in for part 3, where I try to hold it together, go way primal, and ultimately have a beautiful baby girl!!


Lena's Birth Story: PART 1 — "A Better Way"

38 weeks pregnant

In order to tell Lena's birth story, I have to rewind to 2007 and 2009, when I gave birth to Finn and Maya. Both births were similar: long, medicated, tiring. I was hungry, and couldn't eat. I had issues with my epidural not working properly with Finn. I had a doctor who made me wait until he was well-rested the next morning before he would come into the hospital to break my water and deliver Maya. I was on a pitocin/edpidural roller coaster. I was basically put through the system. Granted, I had no real complications, and both Finn and Maya were born healthy and relatively happy (though Finn did have a distinct trace of epidural on his newborn breath).

But being in love with your newborn does not erase the memory of things gone wrong in the delivery room. I felt like I wasn't in control of my own birth. I was offered and given pain medication that I didn't really need or want at that stage in my labor. I felt pressured to make decisions. I was left alone when I wanted help, and had too much help when I wanted to be making personal choices. I was basically strapped into the bed with the monitor, numb from the waist down, and tethered to an IV. Both labors were over 24 hours long, and when Maya was born they were so concerned that she was shaky. I insisted that if I were to get some juice and a cookie, then nurse her, she'd be totally fine. Her blood sugar was just low—as was mine—after 15 hours at the hospital with no more nourishment than the IV for fluids. And guess what? As soon as Maya nursed, she was better (momma's instincts).

Wes felt especially helpless during this whole process. He basically sat in the corner asking if I needed anything until it was time to push. At least then he could hold my leg. And it was Wes that actually came to me encouraging me to look at other birthing options when it came time for another child. "There HAS to be a better way," he kept saying. And he was right.

I have some health issues that caused us to wait five whole years between Maya (the youngest), and our newest addition, Lena. So I had plenty of time to do my research. I watched ALL of the Business of Being Born videos. Life changing!! I cannot recommend those videos more highly to any mother giving birth in any scenario. They were eye opening and liberating. I recognized right away that I had been put through a series of protocols at the hospital. I was offered an early epidural (which I accepted because they made me fearful of not being able to get it when I really needed it). When that slowed labor down, I was given Pitocin. When that intensified contractions, I needed more epidural. See the cycle? Amazingly my babies never showed distress, and I was able to push each one out in 15 minutes or less. But with the amount of time spent at the hospital, I was very fortunate that I didn't end up with a C-section after going over my "allotted" amount of time you can be in labor at the hospital without a red flag going up.

Now I am not anti-hospital (nor am I anti C-section in necessary cases). Even after watching The Business of Being Born, I still wanted to deliver in the hospital. I just wanted a better birth experience. Before getting pregnant I started to read. I read every "natural birth in the hospital" book, article, blog that I could get my hands on. I read tons of birth stories that took place both in the hospital and at home. I watched videos and listened to other moms' stories about why they chose to deliver at home, in the hospital, or in a birthing center. I knew I wanted a doula (birth coach), and I knew I wanted to go medication-free. That freaked a few people out. Luckily Wes was 100% adamant that I could do it. He didn't just think I could do it, he knew I could do it. Not only that, but he knew it would be a total game changer. It would give me a chance to prove to myself that my body knew how to birth a baby safely. It would allow me to feel empowered. And it would help heal some of the scars that lingered from my previous birth experiences. My daughters would know that I had chosen something better for myself—and that every woman should be entitled to chose the birthing experience she desires.

We moved to a small town in Utah two years ago. One cool thing about being in a small town, is that the local hospital is pretty low key. I learned that they had just hired a CNM (Certified Nurse Midwife) who practiced out of the hospital. !!! I was beside myself. What perfect luck. I made an appointment and went over to talk with her. She took about two hours out of her day to answer all my questions, take me on a tour, and discuss options. I told her I'd be back soon with a positive pregnancy test. :)

** Side note: The term "midwife" can make some people uncomfortable when it comes to having babies. An OB is the standard here in the U.S. which is totally fine. But I am here to tell you that midwives have been delivering babies from the beginning of time. I've had an OB. I liked my OBs. But I LOVE my midwife. She is incredibly qualified (she practiced for years out of a major Chicago hospital, and has done work in third world countries to improve birthing conditions for moms and babies). She doesn't practice with an OB (although there are doctors on-call at the hospital for things like C-sections and second opinions if she needs that). And I went the entire 9 months never seeing anyone but my midwife. My midwife also handled my necessary episiotomy and sutures. She's legit.

When I found out I was pregnant in June of last year, we'd been trying for a few months. The VERY first thing I did (after alerting my midwife and confirming the pregnancy) was find a doula. A doula is a labor coach (in simplest terms). Doulas will be rewarded a high place in heaven! They are seriously angels on earth, these women. Every laboring mother should consider having a doula by their side, even if they are getting an epidural or having a C-section. A doula acts as an advocate, a comforter, a supporter, a cheerleader, a ceritifed educator, and a superhero. My doula, Hillary, was actually one of the moms from Finn's soccer team. I mentioned in passing that I wanted a doula with my next birth, and she just happened to be one! Hillary is a wisp of a woman, gentle, and reassuring. She is endlessly positive. But don't let her willowy ways fool you—Hillary is powerful, assertive, and IN the moment. She knows her stuff. Wes and I took classes with her for a few months, and I started doing relaxation CDs called HypBirth (like Hypnobabies, or any of those hypnosis birthing programs). I had no idea how much I DIDN'T know about birth (even after two babies)! I prepared a LOT. I read. I did my relaxation, I did affirmations. I did labor simulations with coping techniques. But the biggest thing Hillary taught us was that my body could absolutely do this, and so could I! She talked me through every stage of labor, making sure I understood what would be happening throughout the whole process. The more I prepared, the more confident I felt.

I won't say I wasn't nervous to go "au naturale." My biggest problem was people asking what I would do when faced with the pain, or the enticing prospect of an epidural right down the hallway. I had to really make some personal decisions that I would not, under any circumstance, ask for drugs. I absolutely didn't want them! I went though a phase where I wouldn't allow myself to call labor painful, just intense (even though I knew it would be painful, I couldn't view it as negative pain). I wouldn't read birth stories where the moms were in too uncomfortable. I surrounded myself with positive birth ideals. I decided on the type of birth I was GOING to have. I drew up the infamous birth plan, but vowed to stay flexible. I made it clear to my midwife that if any nurse walked into my room and acted like I couldn't do this or offered me pain relief, I might lose it. My doula and midwife assured me that everyone would be on-board and supportive. And most of all, they both told me that I could do it. Women all over the world throughout time have had babies in the way I wanted to birth my baby. And now it was my turn to join them. I think one week before Lena was born all nervousness melted away. It was replaced by a deep sense of serenity. This was inevitable. I wasn't going to run scared. I was going to head into this feeling ready and excited to meet my little one!

Stay tuned for Part 2, where I go a week "over," labor sets its own course and I consider some Old Wives tales...

To see my birth plan click HERE.

And here are a few more resources:
Homebirth in the Hospital, by Stacey Marie Kerr, MD
Ina May's Guide to Childbirth, by Ina May Gaskin
Spiritual Midwifery, by Ina May Gaskin


Welcome, little Lena!

Lena Raeven Johnson, born February 24, 2014. 10:56 am, 6lbs. 12 oz., 20" long. Pure perfection.



I have some super quick Valentine's Day printables in my Etsy shop for only $2! Make your V-Day a little easier by getting a head start HERE.

Forest Friends Valentines — DIGITAL DOWNLOAD
I also have these sweet and customizable prints available, as well:
The Very Thought of You Personalized DIGITAL PRINT — 8x10 and 11x14
Happy Heart Day!


My 11x17 Botanical Calendar on Kate and Linny

Happy Monday! I have an exciting new website to share with you. Kate and Linny is dedicated to bringing us boutique deals by mompreneurs. The site is darling, the concept is brilliant, and as a mompreneur myself, I definitely want to support this new venture! I am thrilled happy to be featured in their launch (TODAY). My 11x17 printed 2014 Botanical Calendar is available at a 30% discount on their site for the next 2 weeks! So hop over, grab a calendar, and see what other treats you can find...


Blessings of the Temple

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I not only attend Sunday services each week (when we're not recovering from pneumonia, the stomach flu, and head colds, ahem...). But I also  strive to attend the Temple regularly. The Temple is a sacred space that is different from our church meetinghouses (chapels) where we hold Sunday worship services and other activities. The Temple is the House of the Lord. It is a place where we go to make sacred covenants, learn, pray, receive respite from a hectic world, and feel the special Spirit that can only be found within its holy walls. The feeling that comes over me when I walk into a Temple is like no other feeling I've ever experienced. It's almost tangible. When I go too long without it, I feel like something is missing. This brief video explains the difference between our church meetinghouses/chapels and Temples. Hear from worldwide members, as well as scholars and leaders of other faiths and denominations on the significance of the Temple. It's a worthwhile 6 minutes:



PRINTED 2014 Botanical Calendar now available!

While most of us are still trying to get ready for Christmas, over at the Blog Guidebook we have moved on to New Year's! We are so happy to offer you my botanical calendar design as a PRINT. It is available in the Blog Guidebook's Etsy shop. We have an 11x17 PRINTED version on high quality semi-gloss paper, or a 2-pack of the printed calendar for a discounted price. So click on over and grab yours today! They would make a lovely gift. Don't have time to order the printed version? Just download the digital version to print on your own paper (it would be gorgeous on watercolor paper). Find it HERE. Happy Holidays...and New Year!



Giveaway with Whodihoo

I have an super cool giveaway today! A NEW product is getting ready to launch, and I am really excited to be able to review and offer it to you as a giveaway. Presenting the Slicknot Tie from Whodihoo: Easy ties for little guys (that's not the tag line, I just thought it was fitting...)

So why is this tie different? For starters, the knot is removable, which makes the tie universal for a 2 year old and 6 year old (unlike clip-on, zipper, elastic, or velcro ties). The knot it interchangeable, so you can have a pink knot on a grey tie.  The design will always stay the same. With a design that doesn't change you can do interesting things... for example, you can have all the stripes going in the same direction.  Lastly, the knot is held together by magnets (yes, magnets), which give it a simple break away feature, which makes the tie safe for toddlers.

This is a really easy tie to put on, which makes it great for wiggly little ones. And unlike the zipper ties we usually opt for, this one doesn't slip down after 5 minutes! The colors and fabrics are super stylish and hip. Finn was a happy model. He is wearing the Midnight Blue Solid Linen tie (he said it matched his blue shirt). Here's how it went:

Check out the Whodihoo website HERE. All ties are sizes 2-6 (though Finn is almost 7, and could easily wear this for another year). They will be available on Zulily December 8-11! So don't forget to head over and pick a few out for Christmas gifts. Forget giving Dad a tie this year. Outfit your little man with the Slicknot Tie! :)

BEST PART! I am giving away an AWESOME hot pink Slicknot tie: 
(it's a little brighter in person)
It would be perfect for your stylish guy. (Hey, even an edgy little lady could sport this with a black tutu...just a thought!) To enter the giveaway, just check out the widget below to enter (lots of options to get extra entries, too). Giveaway ends Friday  December 6th. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Salsa time!

Wes is out of town. That means I can make salsa. Batches and batches of goodness, that stink up the house with ingredients like roasted peppers and onions (Wes is NOT a fan of peppers and onions). Today I made red and green salsa. The green has been a difficult journey. Today I MASTERED it!!! It tastes almost exactly like my favorite restaurant, Rancho de Tia Rosa, in Mesa, AZ. Swoon. 

Here is what I did (these recipes are not an exact science—that's why I love salsa—just add or remove whatever you do/don't like):

Amazing Tia Rosa inspired tomatillo salsa ("salsa verde")

• A lot of tomatillos, fresh (I think I had maybe 10 or so), quartered and cored
• 2 cloves of garlic
• 1 jalapeño
• 1 shallot (for a milder taste...a regular onion ruined the flavor)
• Cilantro (as much as you like—I think I used a whole bunch because I love cilantro)
• Sugar (I poured a little in to start, then increased to taste, depending on how sweet you prefer)
• 1 jar La Victoria salsa verde (or the like), to add bulk to the texture and enhance the flavor
• Lime juice
• Salt/Pepper

• Chop and core the tomatillos, then put them in a pot with a little olive oil, salt, and splash of water over medium high heat. Cover and wait for them to soften.
• While you are waiting on the tomatillos, roast the jalapeño, garlic and shallots in the oven (I broiled on high until the edges started to brown).
• Mash the tomatillos down as best you can in the pot, then transfer to the food processor.
• Add all ingredients to the food processor (including jar of La Victoria), and blend well. Add more salt/pepper/squeeze of lime/sugar to taste.
• Try not to eat the ENTIRE batch in one sitting. :)

Roasted Red Salsa

• 10-15 Roma tomatoes, halved and cored
• 1-2 shallots
• 2-4 garlic cloves
• 1-2 jalapeños
• Bunch of cilantro
• Small can chopped/sliced/diced black olives
• Lime juice
• Salt/Pepper to taste

• Roast tomatoes, shallots, garlic, and jalapeños in the oven on a high broil for about 10 minutes (or until they start to char—watch out that you don't scorch the garlic, though).
• When they are done, put everything BUT the tomatoes in the food processor and finely chop.
• Add tomatoes and pulse until you reach desired texture.
• Add any extra lime juice/salt/pepper to taste.
• Enjoy!!


Peace and Purpose

I have been a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over 11 years now. Lots of people ask me why in the world would I join THIS church of all churches. This pretty much sums it up. It's a great 18 minutes. I recommend you take the time to watch:


Help! How to navigate a food allergy, gluten issue, or other dietary restriction.

I recently had a friend ask what to do as she was cutting out dairy and gluten. This can be a VERY daunting task. I am currently dairy, gluten/wheat, egg, and yeast free (with a smattering of fruits and spices, to boot). When I first embarked on this road I nearly had a month-long melt down. I was hungry. All the time. And depressed. And confused. But I made it through to a manageable—even happy—place. Here is my "action list" of how to get started and not feel too overwhelmed. Ten suggestions. Just a few things to hopefully help.

This relates mostly to wheat and dairy, but could relate to a lot of other dietary restrictions, as well:

1. The easiest thing to do immediately is to make sure you have some basic, whole foods on hand for snacking (change anything based on your food likes/needs—everything I list will also be dairy free):

• variety of protein: nuts, nut butters, nut bars—I prefer KIND bars. I order them in bulk from Amazon), any meat you like (I tend to pre-cook chicken and beef patties to heat up in a jiffy, I also like to make taco meat and make taco bowls for lunch)

• Snacks: Pop Chips, popcorn, kettle corn, tortilla chips and GF salsa (I like La Victoria), corn tortillas, granola (homemade from GF oats), dairy free chocolate chips (Trader Joes), variety of teas or cider or other fun drinks.

• Fave fruits and veggies that you can eat: I've found keeping salsa and guac fixings on hand help with snackish cravings. Also make smoothies with Almond or Coconut Milk (I can't do coconut, but I love Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk). I tend to roast and grill veggies, and I eat a lot of them. 

• GF grains: Quinoa, GF oats (I also like steel cut oats found at Trader Joe's), brown and white rice. Eventually you can add flours. PASTAS!

• Mixes: Betty Crocker has SAVED my sanity! Sure it's packaged and main stream, but man it's good and super easy. Bob's Redmill is also an excellent choice. You can make your own flour mix, but it can be daunting. I STILL don't keep lots of types flours on hand. I find I simply don't bake as much (poor Finn and Maya). But when I do get baking cravings, I usually just pick up a mix. If you really want to make your own blend, I recommend following this one EXACTLY (the brand of tapioca flour makes a difference, but you might have to order it online (also, all GF food items are tax deductible):

• Condiments: I replace all butter with Earth Balance butter, and milk with almond milk. Mayo=Veganaise (love this for chicken salad). If you need to replace eggs, I recommend using Ener-G Egg Replacer (in a box) in lieu of things like flax or applesauce. No taste, better fluffing/rising action. If you CAN eat eggs, make yourself an omelette, stat!! :)

2. Gather your arsenal:

These are some of my favorite websites for recipes (honestly I usually wait until I have a craving and then google a recipe):
http://www.sarahbakesgfree.com/ (AMAZING)

Here is a link to a post I wrote about my diet and what I like to prepare for each meal, and some links to my favorite books that I reference regularly:

3. Get rid of the snack and things that make you feel sad or frustrated. If you have kids and they have their snacks, put them in a particular cabinet. Make that their snack cabinet. Banish all other wheat-filled snacks. Be careful of double-dipping peanut butter or jelly knives. Watch for cross-contamination.

4. READ ALL LABELS. Self explanatory.

5. Allow yourself to feel sad and frustrated. Those feelings WILL be replaced with feelings of gratitude for what you CAN eat, in time. But it is OK to be mad for no good reason at someone eating a doughnut. Or for almost tearing up in the cheese aisle. That is so normal. You need to be patient with yourself. Tell your body that it is doing great, and to hang in there. :) Have pouty days, and then go make yourself a cake. With a betty crocker mix. 

6. I don't recommend trying to replace packaged snacks with the GF version. Crackers are GROSS. Cookies (unless home made) are a big disappointment. Just plan to cut out packaged snack-ish type food. Look for Raw Food recipes for desserts (coconut macaroons are amazing...wish I could still eat them). Check out Hail Merry's little pies—sold at Costco. Try to keep a back up indulgent treat to help you feel "normal" on bad days (I opt for Haagen Dahz Raspberry sorbet, or Justin's Dark Peanut Butter Cups...So Delicious coconut ice cream is also a good option).

7. Know where to eat out. Find out what local restaurants pride themselves on being allergy friendly. Chipotle is WONDERFUL about food allergies. They even change their gloves. Take a look at their website. They have a mostly gluten free menu (save the tortillas), and they can easily be dairy-free. Costa Vida has allergen options, but you have to ask carefully about things like butter if you can't handle it. Wendy's menu has GF items (see their website). And larger restaurants like steak houses and places like Macaroni Grill are good eating out options because you can communicate your dietary needs, and order things like grilled chicken or steak and steamed veggies with rice. 

8. Invest in a good lunch box/bag. (Bento-box style works great). You'll probably find yourself toting your food with you more often than not.

9. Have an emergency plan. Cutting out whole food groups can cause withdrawals. Your brian will literally think something is wrong. It will do funny things. It will freak out. You might have cravings that seem disproportionate to reality (this is my ongoing relationship with croissants, which could be used as currency at this point in my estimation.) You might feel so frustrated that you freeze up and don't eat anything. If that happens, make a smoothie, eat some peanut butter, some tortilla chips, or an apple, and THEN google recipes when your blood sugar is normal and you aren't feeling hungry. It will help with that frantic sense of "WHAT DO I EAT??"

10. Find support. I don't recommend endlessly scrolling through chat boards. You will find yourself wasting time and slipping under. Instead find out what local groups, establishments, or restaurants support a GF lifestyle, or provide resources for food allergies. See a nutritionist or dietician (some hospitals or communities offer this services for free). Find a doctor you trust and can communicate with. Make sure your family understands and can be your advocate. Do what makes you feel relaxed and balanced: meditate, pray, read some scriptures, try some yoga, go on a bike ride, go for a walk, play a board game, watch a movie, read a good book, be with friends. Get out and do things that make you happy!

I hope this helps. I know it's not a complete list, so please feel free to add your advice in the comments! Best of luck to all. :)


Baby # 3!!

Exciting day today!! I had my 20 week ultrasound and found out we are having a baby GIRL! Here are some of the sonogram photos. They couldn't get a clear profile shot since she was moving so much. But her feet sure do look sweet!


Health Update: What pregnancy does to my body...beyond the obvious

I've had a ton of emails lately asking about my SIBO/IBS issues, and if I've had a relapse, or if I am still feeling well. This is an unedited breakdown. So if you aren't here to read about stomach issues and symptoms/treatment, I think it best you click on by. Because it's pretty boring. And kind of a downer.

For more info on SIBO, see my "SIBO" posts, all found HERE.

Here is the rundown:

I felt really good for about a year after taking the 20 day course of Neomycin (while taking a motility drug—Motiluim—for that whole year). I continued to have food sensitivities to wheat, dairy, and eggs. But I could literally eat anything else. About a year after treatment I started to notice some issues again (little symptoms that were red flags). But before I could take it to my GI doc I got pregnant. Now I am off all meds (no Bentyl, no Motilum, no antibiotics), and I feel like am totally relapsing. I have awful IBS symptoms. I can't eat things that I could eat before without a major IBS attack that sets me back for days (no corn on the cob, popcorn, brown rice, basically anything high fiber, even chocolate some days, and don't even get me started on the week I tried to eat eggs again). I am not sure how much of this is pregnancy related. Pregnancy has been proven to slow down digestion, anyway, which is a lose lose for someone with gut motility issues already! I have about one good day for every three bad days. Ugh. I have another appointment with my doctor in October to come up with a plan post-baby to get back on track!

As far as specifics go, here are the details to answer some of the questions I am getting in emails:

• I was advised to avoid probiotics by one doctor, and to introduce them by another. At this point I have not tried them. I am going in to a NEW doctor in October for yet another opinion on my issues.

• I have had the Lactulose breath test, Celiac test, a slew of blood work (incl. allergy testing), a colonoscopy/endoscopy. The only positive results were for food sensitivities, and the SIBO Lactulose test. Apparently my results were not very high, but did indicate overgrowth—enough to be treated. (I have not had a gastric emptying test, or an in-depth thyroid test, but basic blood thyroid tests came back negative.)

• I have taken 3 rounds of Rifaxan. It didn't do much. I then asked for a 20 day course of Neomycin which, combined with the motility drug Motilium (I order from www.inhousepharmacy.biz), seemed to help quite a bit.

• I have not had any success treating with diets such as GAPS, Low FodMap, or any of those. Because I do have food intolerances, I eat more like a grain-inclusive Paleo. I go into more detail about my diet in past posts.

• Herbal and homeopathic remedies did nothing. No peppermint oil, no glutamine powder. Zip.

• I did not have good results on the 6 month sublingual treatment for food allergies/sensitivities. Booooo. That was 6 months and $300 wasted.

I think that's everything. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask. But chances are this or one of my previous posts (all found HERE) cover it up until this point. Because I am pregnant, there is really nothing I can do other than eat carefully and pray it won't make me sick! I'll be sure to come back with an update on what my new GI doctor says. I was seeing a PA at the same practice. But I decided to switch because I just felt more secure going with a Board-Certified full-fledged Gastroenterologist. My gut told me to go that route (wah wah, bad pun).

Here's to better health!!


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