I have been asked by several people why I have not yet shared photos of Bean on Facebook/this blog/other social media. I have several reasons, and would like to share them with you.
In this day and age, we are inundated with pictures and 140 character blurbs about our family, friends, and acquaintances' every thought, action, and meal.
As shallow as it may sound, I do NOT care to see the wedding photos, ultrasound pics, or baby videos of every person I've ever met. Aside from the dramatically vague status updates and pictures of food, I feel like these things are highly private, meant to be shared with the people who love you and care most about you in celebration of these things. Not to say I'm not happy for each and every person in these great life events, but when 20 people from my college freshman classes (which took place 7 years ago) all post sonograms back-to-back, they all begin to look the same. Especially if the most communication we've had since our study group has been liking each other's posts.
For me, the over-sharing of my life seems to devalue and depersonalize these events. Not everyone feels that way, and that is fine. Through text, email, and even snail mail, I am able to share pictures with those closest to my family. Mailing or personally handing prints to people of importance was how our parents and grandparents shared school and Christmas pictures, and that method works just fine for me. However, I am grateful for the ability to save on the stamps!
Additionally, the Internet never forgets. And, unfortunately, there are unsavory characters out there who enjoy stealing pictures for their own use. In various mother's groups I am a part of, moms have shared horror stories of anyone from complete strangers to vindictive exes to well-meaning family members stealing pictures off of social media sites and sharing them as their own. How easy is it for someone to see a Facebook account with hundreds of pictures, videos, and anecdotal status updates about a child, and know the child without KNOWING the child? And if their intentions are not honorable, how easy would it be to use that information to find and do bad things to the child? I'm probably being way overly protective here (hey, first time mom, I get a little slack here, right?), but I'd rather be cautious and safe than have something bad happen to my son because I shared a little too much.
My third and biggest reason is my son's autonomy. He is his own person and I want to respect him as such. In several years, when he is able to understand that his picture can be shared with a few or a lot, I will ask him which he wants. If he wants them posted to Facebook, I will then happily share. If not, they will remain private family treasures.
Don't worry, I'm saving all of his naked baby pictures to show his first girlfriend :P
The first recipe off of my Pinterest board up for review is Chicken Paprika with Sour Cream Gravy off of I Breathe... I'm Hungry... blog. This was a really easy recipe for me, since you throw the chicken in a pan, sprinkle some spices on, and pop it in the oven. The sides were white rice (also easy), and steam-in-the-bag frozen veggies (even easier).
I like this recipe mostly for it's ease. You would think that being a stay-at-home-mom of a baby would give me most of the day to be in the kitchen, right? WRONG. Haha! I love that it was simple to throw together a full meal, and with very little clean-up involved. I baked the chicken in a foil-lined pan, so there's nothing to actually clean in the pan. I'll just wipe it out with a soapy cloth and we're golden.
The I made two slight changes to the recipe. 1) I used two chicken quarters instead of four thighs, and 2) I added garlic powder because, let's face it, everything is better with more garlic. Seriously, I don't think my family will ever have to worry about vampires with how much garlic we consume. Yum.
Bear gave it 8/10 stars. He says it would have been a full 10, if it hadn't been for the bones. The chicken was tender and juicy, and the gravy/sauce was a nice addition, especially to the rice. Bear says it's a keeper, though next time I will be making it with boneless, skinless chicken breast in place of the thighs, since that's what we usually eat and both enjoy. I will post an update when we try it that way. :)
P.S. Sorry for the crappy iPhone pictures. Here's one of Bear's finger photobomb. (Literally, he yelled, "Photobomb!" as he put his finger in front of my phone. Meanie.)
Well, lovelies, I finally got around to cleaning up my Pinterest boards! I've had Pinterest for years longer than I've been gluten-free, so it took me a little bit of organizing to make these share-ready. I have three food boards now. Bear is on a low-carb diet currently to lose HIS baby weight (hehe), so I made a dinner board for him.
Here's my normal dinner board, for when we're feeling a little fancy (read: not worried about carbs). These are pretty easy dinners. Be aware - not all of them are gluten-free as they are, but they can be easily altered to be gluten-free.
And here's my this-looks-good-and-I-need-to-try-it-and-yeah-I-know-it's-mostly-desserts board. You're welcome.
So here's my plan:
I want to try out as many of these as possible, and tell YOU how they turn out. I'm going to try for 1 recipe a week. Then I will write a post about it with any changes I made, difficulty level, and family feedback. Of course, I'll include pictures ;) My goal is to show that being gluten-free doesn't have to be hard, or bland, or even expensive.
Also, If you try out any of these recipes, I'd love to hear your feedback! And if you have a favorite recipe, please share! Let's make this journey together <3
I decided immediately after Bean's birth that I would not be a "milestone checker". You know, one of those moms obsessed with their child reaching specific milestones by a certain age? I refuse to look at baby books. I don't remember the day his umbilical cord fell off or the first time I cut his nails. I do, however, remember the first time he slept for 4 hours straight instead of his normal 2 hours, because that was 3 weeks ago and I woke up with boobs as hard as rocks!
As a type A personality, it's actually been a relief to me to not have milestones to stress over. Instead, I take in my son as he takes in the world! He is such a bright, alert little man, and I try to enjoy him as much as I can in these sometimes-long-but-always-quickly-passing days.
The two things that have thrilled me the most in the past few weeks are: his discovery of his smile and laugh, and his discovery of his hands.
His first laugh was at our two-week post-partum visit with our midwife. We were discussing how he planned such a grand entrance at 40 weeks and 4 days - despite his mama's pleas that he get here just a leeeeettle sooner - and as confirmation that he did, indeed, plan it, he smiled and gave a giggle. Since then, I have waited with bated breath until he started doing this voluntarily. This started happening just a few weeks ago! Now I'm becoming a morning person again, because he is genuinely happy to see me and I get to bask in the glow of that gummy grin! His nursing takes longer than normal, too, because he keeps popping off just to grin at me before he resumes his eating. *heartmelts* His giggle is contagious, and when I laugh, he laughs, which is the best thing ever!
In the past couple weeks, another amazing thing has happened. His hands, and what he can with them, fascinate Bean. He will sit in Bear’s lap or mine and examine them for minutes. He has finally figured out how to get his thumb in his mouth, but still needs both hands to hold it in there. Best of all, he has started reaching for things! For a while, he has "talked" to the mobile toys hanging above him in his swing and bouncy seat, but he is just now actually reaching for them and trying to grab them! Bear says that, this weekend at my sister's wedding, Bean reached for him while my dad held Bean!
My friend told me that for the first few months after babies are born, they are potatoes. Eating, crying, sleeping, peeing, pooping potatoes. Cute potatoes, but still potatoes because they don't really do anything. And while we are not keeping to any particular milestone guideline, I'm so proud (and a little sad) to say that my Bean is a potato no more!
Less than a year ago, I moved to Eastern Kentucky to be with my family. I have been overwhelmingly blessed with so many great friends; Kimberly, her husband Joe, and their son Gage are no exception. A few weeks ago, I was able to document a bit of Kimberly and Gage's breastfeeding journey. I was so excited when they asked me to capture another special moment: the Gender Reveal of #2!
Kimberly's mom got the balloons and we all met at the local park. Lots of smiles, laughs, and a few tears quickly followed!
Super (big) Bro Gage loved the box!
Grandma gave him a flower...
Aaaaaaand he decided to eat it!
These two... <3333 staaaaahp!
Super Bro enjoying the park!
Congratulations again, my friends <3 I can't wait to meet baby Samuel!
I recently had a friend diagnosed as gluten-intolerant ask for a list of foods she can eat. Happy to oblige, I thought I'd make my list readily available to all of my friends and readers! I would first like to share a quick story of my history and what lead me to a gluten-free lifestyle.
I have battled with my weight since puberty. Summer of 2007 I was severely overweight, and was diagnosed with severe acid reflux and sludge in my gall bladder. I was told to change my diet, and there would be a chance of my gall bladder clearing itself out. I stopped eating fast food, red meat, and anything fried. I also cut out as much processed sugar as possible. By way of elimination, I discovered that I was lactose intolerant. The severe gas pains I experienced nightly went away when I stopped eating my traditional after-work bowl of cereal. That summer I switched to soy milk and cut out ice cream, cheese, and yogurt completely. I was able to avoid having my gall bladder removed, as well as lose about 50 lbs that summer, and mostly maintained that for several years.
Spring of 2012 I was working out and eating a healthy, whole gain diet, but started packing on the pounds again. I had been put on pain management medication for undiagnosed pain and gained 20 lbs in 2 months. After weaning myself off the meds, I continued to gain weight, despite working out several times a week and being extremely conscious of my diet. I gained a total of 50 lbs in less than 6 months. When I suddenly became so exhausted I couldn't stay awake even after 12 hours of sleep, I had my thyroid tested and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism.
Once I was put on the right level of thyroid medication, my weight plateaued. I continued to eat as healthily as I could and exercise regularly (I was able to run and enjoy doing so for the first time in my life!), but I was not losing any weight.
February of 2013, I was complaining to a friend about how I was sick and tired of always being sick and tired. I told him I always felt run-down regardless of how much I slept; how I always felt like there was a rock in my stomach; how my acid reflux was worse than ever; how I was never hungry because it felt like my body wasn't digesting any food; how I rarely went a day without throwing up; how I was always bloated and passing the worst kind of gas ever. This particular friend has Celiac's, and told me that was precisely how he felt before he was diagnosed. Because I could not afford medical testing at that time, I did an elimination diet again, this time cutting out all gluten. Within a week, my energy levels rebounded, I felt like my food was digesting, my acid reflex had all but disappeared, I was always hungry, I hadn’t thrown up in several days, and I was no longer bloated! Because gluten was the only thing I eliminated that week, I knew it was the culprit, and so am self-diagnosed as gluten intolerant, and have been gluten-free ever since.**
For me, it took the right combination of thyroid medication, diet, and exercise to become healthy again. Last summer I lost 25 lbs in less than 2 months. I was able to have my thyroid medication lowered, and immediately thereafter became pregnant after trying for several years!
For my family and me, being gluten-free does not mean a lot of the "specialty" gluten-free items, although I am thrilled to see so many more options available than there were when I started my gluten-free lifestyle nearly two years ago. What it does mean is a lot of whole foods and preparing our food at home. We avoid fast food, since there is a huge risk of cross-contamination, and we are very careful of what we order at sit-down restaurants.
I also do not believe that a gluten-free lifestyle is necessary for everyone. I have not done much research into the fad of gluten-free, but I have known a few people to try it that it had no effect on whatsoever. However, if you feel it is beneficial, absolutely make the change!
A typical shopping trip for my family consists mostly of fresh produce, eggs, chicken breast, ground turkey, olive oil, coconut oil, rice, and beans. There are two things about this list - one is that all of these things are whole foods and so naturally gluten-free; that is, none of them contain rye, barley, or wheat, which are natural sources of gluten. Second, most of these things can be found by shopping around the perimeter of the store. The aisles are what contain the most processed foods, which are more likely to contain gluten or have a chance of cross contamination during processing. The less processed = the least likelihood of gluten in naturally gluten-free foods.
Other items on my shopping list sometimes include:
Simple condiments, such as mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup, do not generally contain gluten, although I do still check under the ingredients list to make sure. Many other condiments, such as soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, BBQ sauces, marinades, and salad dressings DO contain gluten, or are processed in plants that also process gluten, so be diligent to check under the ingredients list. Even if it does not say that the product contains wheat, I do not purchase unless it specifically says “GLUTEN FREE” or has the Certified Gluten-Free logo of Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO). Our local grocery store chain has even started labeling gluten-free food items on the price tag, making them easier to locate throughout the store! I still recommend checking the labels, however, as I recently found several mislabeled items in my store (they were all natural, but not gluten-free).
Living gluten-free does not have to be expensive – most of the above brands are not much more expensive than their gluten-containing counterparts – or difficult, though it can take some getting used to. I find the easiest way to stay gluten-free is to meal plan and grocery shop specifically for that. Pinterest has been a lifesaver for me, especially for simple, easy, gluten-free dinners. I plan to share these recipes and a brand-new Pinterest board with you all soon, so stay tuned!
*The author has not been compensated by any of these brands in any way, and all opinions expressed in this blog are solely that of the author’s.
**I am not a doctor, or a nutritionalist, and so none of this should be taken as medical advice. This is simply my experience with food and going gluten-free. Please consult your doctor if you are considering making any dietary changes.
Bear and I were discussing our desire to homeschool, when suddenly he asked me, "What do you hope to teach our son?" I replied, "Well, math, science, history, English... Ya know, the whole 9."
"No, no, no... What do you want to teach him? Instill in him?"
Oh man. Intense.
There are so many things I want to teach him. They all came rushing at me and stopped on my tongue, trapped in a 20-car pile up behind my lips. Since my pregnancy, I've lost all ability to articulate. "Uh, to be a good person?"
But Bean, my son, there is so much more...
I hope to teach you truth and honesty. And I hope to teach you how to share these things in love, not harshness.
I hope to teach you that it is okay to be angry, to be frustrated, and to share those feelings, constructively and with a confidant. I hope to teach you how to deal with those feelings, so that you do not become wrapped up in them.
I hope to teach you the value of communication: to say what you mean and mean what you say. To think about your reply before giving it, and to judge whether or not your opinion is truly needed in a situation (sometimes it will be, most of the time it will not). There is power in words I do not think we will ever be able to fully comprehend.
I hope that you will be a man of your word, that you only make promises you keep (not just intend to keep).
I hope to teach you that no means no. And not just when your daddy or I say it, but when you say it, too. (Terrible twos may or may not fall under this one... We'll see <3).
I hope to teach you how to enjoy life. To smile and laugh as often as possible.
I hope to show you how to eat AND enjoy a healthy diet. That veggies aren't poisonous, but too much fast food is.
I hope to teach you the value of proper hygiene. First impressions are big, though they aren't everything. I want you to feel like you can always put your best foot forward. Plus, it doesn't hurt to smell good. ;)
I hope I teach you confidence, to be true to who you are and to fully believe in yourself. To stand your ground for what you believe in.
I also hope to teach you to be respectful of other people's beliefs. Just because they are not your own does not mean they are less. Be open-minded and open-hearted. Be knowledgeable of the other side.
I want you to not be afraid of being wrong. I also want you to not be afraid to change your mind. I do not want you to be wishy-washy, but I do want you to be well-informed and make positive decisions based on the best information.
I hope to instill in you curiosity, wonder, and a thirst for knowledge. I hope that these virtues stay with you for life, and that you never feel the need to "outgrow" them. I hope you will be as much in awe of all God's creation as an adult as you are as a child.
I hope that you remain child-like, and not childish, and that you know the difference.
I hope to teach you to be a man. Not the kind that feels he must domineer over others to feel worth, but the kind who finds his worth in God and helping others find their worth.
I hope that you see every person as an equal, none better or worse than any other, regardless of gender, race, age, creed, sexuality, or life path.
I hope to show you that you are unique, and that this makes you special. And that your uniqueness should be used for the benefit of others, and not to make yourself feel better than anyone else.
I hope to teach you the value if having good friends and being a good friend.
I hope that you learn to be grateful and generous with what you have, materially and otherwise, and to not be envious of what you don't.
I hope to teach you the value of a dollar, and the value of putting in your time and effort towards earning your money. To work hard for what you want, and be proud of your accomplishments.
I hope to instill in you great money management skills. To prioritize responsibility before pleasure, and to understand the benefit of a good savings account.
I hope that you understand that money isn't everything, that family and friends give you more than money ever can.
I hope to teach you "everything in moderation." This would include, but not be limited to, time, money, work, play, and food.
I hope you learn to be giving of your time and resources, but that you do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Guard your heart, but do not let it grow hard or build to strong a wall around it.
Most of all, I hope that you learn to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself.
August was National Breastfeeding Month. Those that are close to me know that breastfeeding is very important to me, and I'm blessed to be a part of a community that holds it in a high respect, and is also very supportive in helping mamas new to breastfeeding.
One of those ladies is a very dear friend of mine, Kimberly. She has been breastfeeding her son Gage, now 17 months, and is a huge inspiration to me. She confided in me that this special relationship is starting to come to a close, so I suggested a photo shoot to commemorate their journey. Joe came along for the ride, so we were able to get a few family shots, too!
It's been years since I've had the chance to really get behind the camera like this, so it was extra-special for everyone. Photography is one of my biggest passions, and I had to put it down for quite a while to finish school, deal with some major life changes, and my own pregnancy and birth of my son. I'm so excited to be jumping back into the game with my camera!
Now, without further adieu, the photos!
High-flying baby! Thank you guys, again, for allowing me to capture such special moments. I love you all, and I can't wait for our next very special shoot! :D
Mama Bear of one Baby Bear, Bean, who both love Papa Bear, and live in a crafty, gluten-free cozy den.