Monday, January 27, 2014

Food Journey

I've received some emails lately about my food journey, so I wanted to write a little post about it. For the people who have food issues...

I've always enjoyed food. I enjoy making, serving, and eating food. I have early childhood memories of going to work with my dad and making huge batches of muffins so large that he had to mix them with his arm. While part of my relationship with food is good and part is bad, my connection to food runs deep. About two years ago, I had enough. My weight was up and I prayed to lose weight. Then, I didn't care about the weight nearly as much as I cared about my dependence on food, so I started to pray that I would be free from the unhealthy power that I felt food had on my life.
Here's what has happened since then:

1. I told a friend besides my husband. I emailed a close friend my true feelings. (This was shortly after I had my daughter.) She was kind, gentle, but bold in the truth that she spoke to me.
2. I read Every Body Matters by Gary Thomas. This opened my eyes and gave me freedom that what I was dealing with was sin. Realizing that I was wrong made me free to stop the rationalizing and know that I have a problem that I needed to address.
3. I met a woman in Belize who processed four bags of corn everyday to send to her mother. This opened my eyes that my basic job is food. My role in my family is the chef, and I needed to slow down my life enough to focus on real food. This is still sinking into me today, and as I priority my errands/commitments/lifestyle, I focus on planning good meals instead of making bad decisions repeatedly. I've slowed down my life/projects/interests enough to have time to devote to meal planning and preparing.
4. I did the Whole30 diet. I never diet, so I was a bit terrified. What I found was liberating. For an entire month, I didn't have to make any decisions on what I was going to allow myself. Everything on the diet was fair game. I was broken from my dependence. I never felt guilty. I lost a good amount of weight. I learned how to cook differently. And I felt so incredible. Like a superhuman. If you don't know how to stop yourself from making bad decisions from food and just need a break, the rules of Whole30 provide a freedom that is incredible. This diet is life changing, but I don't believe that it's the path to food salvation. It's just a good starting point.
5. I lost a ton of weight and I gained a little and I lost it back. This was a struggle. It wasn't the weight that bothered me (well of course it did) as much as I hadn't solved my problems. I relied on Whole30 to keep me healthy, and that was hard. I wanted to be healthy all the time without a list of rules to depend on. 
6. Enough was enough and I started counseling. We talk about food, but we mainly talk about shame. Food shame and just life shame. (If you don't like to talk about shame, then it will grow. Watch this or this.) This is where I am now. I could write a lot about this, but it would basically sound like babble. Instead of trying to explain what I'm barely learning, I'll say this: I don't think that this is going to be a quick fix. A diet, an exercise plan, or anything temporary is going to solve my food problems. I've accepted that changing 32 years of bad habits is going to take some time and I'm fine with that.

While it's not over, this is my story on becoming a healthier person all around. I'm sharing it because many people have asked me what is changing. The truth is that this is very embarrassing to talk about, but I've noticed that when I start to tell it, people open up and they get it. Opening up to the situation is a great first step.

While this looks like a list of steps that I took to get better, I have to say that it really feels like a gift. Yes, I had to take the personal initiative to change things, but it doesn't feel like it was me. I believe that the changes that are happening are my answered prayers from years ago. 

I'm not a motivational speaker, exciting writer, or anything close to a nutritionist. All I have to offer is my story and my vulnerability. If you're struggling with food, then I would recommend telling a friend. That really jump started this for me. Be kind to yourself. Thanks for reading my story.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

This Week's Menu

 Food issues, what food issues? Let's just say that I have a big personal post coming in the morning about all this food stuff. This is my last week on whole30, and all I want is the best bowl of beans and rice with all the trimmings. Then, some birthday cake for dessert.
Here's what I'm making instead:

Acorn bowls with sausage, apples, and coconut (recipe from my sil), zucchini 
Veggie nite: sauteed green beans, sweet potato fries, tomato and cucumber salad
Breakfast dinner. Eggs, sausage, and grain free muffins
Pops steaks, sweet potatoes, southern green beans

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Modern Farmhouse In Asheville

Despite the fun dinners out, the waterfalls and hiking, the downtown strolling, and the Biltmore, my favorite part of our Asheville anniversary trip was lounging around the modern farmhouse where we stayed. It's hard to find a vacation rental that is clean and cute, and this exceeded both of those. 

I was pretty giddy when we got there as I walked around and took it all in. I kept trying to figure out why I liked it. It felt like random items put together with a single vision. There were unexpected details in each space, but it felt crisp and not overcrowded. I finally figured out my favorite part: nothing really matched, but everything went together. While the base of the house was well done, it was the unexpected pieces that made me swoon. 

A white fluffy throw blanket, Chinese wall print, open glass shelving, wallpaper, curved lines. These things were considered outlaws in my decorating book, but once I saw them in the farmhouse, I made a note to try and push the mental boundaries that I have when decorating my home. 

(ps...I loved talking selfies in the bubble mirror) The style that I gravitate towards in my own home seems to involve interesting, unexpected details with a clean and simple presentation-very similar to this rental. Being in this farmhouse made me want to come home and try even more ways to define my version of unexpected

In each of our homes we are all have our own version of matching and going together, but we could all use a little encouragement to discover deeper ways of decorating in our style. For me, that means adding the element of intrigue to each of my rooms. Staying in this place was an inspiration and I'm already at work to make my own home just as exciting as this vacation rental.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fern's First Hike

Our little hike this weekend was simple at first. Go to our favorite spot, grab the baby backpack for Fern to ride in, pack some snacks, and hit the road. There was a hitch in our plans when our hand-me-down backpack finally bit the dust. John's solution was that Fern could ride on his shoulders or walk, so away we went. It felt like such a plunge to take a two and three year old for a two mile hike with nothing to carry them in. 

We held hands, ate snacks, touched the water, saw the waterfall, explored caves, and were blown away at how much Fern hiked. 

Everyone took turns holding her hands and encouraging her, and she did so much of the hiking. Most of the time she was laughing and running, and I was quite surprised by her hard work and eagerness. As we joined so many people from our city as they hit the woods, our simple hike was turned into a monumental event: Fern's First Hike all by her little self. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

This Week's Menu

Well friends, I'm a broken record. I'm back on Whole30 along with several friends. We all want a different way. We all want change. We all want a reset button. But what we really, REALLY want is some pizza dipped in queso and some birthday cake. 

I have some things to say about Whole30 and food and diets and me, but I need a big chunk of time to and energy to sit down and process it all. Things are changing, and hopefully I'm going to find some freedom. More on that later. For now, here's our menu for the week...

My mom's birthday dinner out
Roasted chicken, cauliflower rice, roasted brussels
Beef burgundy, brown rice, sauteed green beans
Bacon burgers, fried plantains and guacamole

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Favorite Preschool Activities

 I like to call it homeschooling, but my homeschooling is limited to these four little activities that I've been using for over two years now. Once every few months, I set the kids table in the kitchen and we go through our work. This was Fern's first time to join us. 

Details: I set the activities in a line on the counter and we get one out at a time, so the children see which is next and we put away each thing when we're done. See, homeschooling. I put them in order of how much they like them-starting with the least liked and working up to the dessert of the bunch. 

1. Sort the beans. There is a small bowl of pinto and black beans that the kids sort in bowls. Each child had their own technique on how to do it, which I was obsessed with watching. 

2. Clipping and Unclipping clothes pins.  Fern was able to do this right away, where Burl had so much trouble the first few sessions we tried this (granted he was younger than Fern was when we did it). Again, I was fascinated with their differences. Now that Burl is older and is able, I made it harder by having them put them on dots that I made. Then, he made different shapes and setups with his. 

3. Pouring noodles and rice. The kids had a blast with this one. We started with a simple back-and-forth pouring, then added scoops and spoons. To make it harder for Burl, I gave him a small glass where he had to learn to stop pouring and not over-fill the cup. 


4. Playing with Squishy Foam. This was by far their favorite part and they were very focused. In Burl's words, "Mama, we're very hard workers." He pulled his toolbox out for them to use and they worked for a long time. They do very different things when they're focused: Burl explained everything and Fern was very quiet, but they were both very focused.

The whole process lasted over an hour and half. They operated mostly independently, so I was able to write letters, cook, pack a few things, and take pictures, obviously. 

While I'm great at finding woods to explore or free stuff to do around town, I'm not great at developmental activities like this. This is my entire bag of tricks, and I pull it out rarely. Every time I do, the kids just love it. Apparently, it's educational too, but don't quote me on that. I just focus on the fun part. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Cotton Arrangements

I was recently gifted a few stems of cotton, which is the first time that I think I've seen cotton up close. Deb ordered a bunch and made the cutest little arrangements with cotton and greenery. I did what I do best, copied her. I grabbed four stems of evergreens from my next door neighbor (she's given me complete permission) and had some $4 spray roses from the grocery store. I made a few arrangements: 

The cotton is my favorite part. Luckily, I can save it for future arrangements as well.
Cotton, it's my new favorite thing.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Christmas Card, 2013

I'm still at the point in my life where I can't just send a simple, online bought Christmas card. I still feed the need to touch and artsy each one of my cards-oh, and it's so much cheaper! It wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't staying up late at night watching TV and crafting. 

This year, I am all about the same-ole-same-old things: neutrals, clean lines, and simple*
*simple, fancy for plain 

craft envelopes 
+ watercolor paper (thick and textured)
+ a square photo
+ masking tape
+sarcastic letter (see below)

The Christmas letters and cards are just like the lights on the Christmas tree, I used more than the year before and still did not have enough. If you didn't get one from us this year or you are stranger who wants a recap of our year, this post is for you. Merry Everything, people!

Merry Everything, Friends!

We hope that you all are enjoying this season and this letter finds you well. We want to share what we’ve been about this year, but as you will see, there’s nothing special. While we’re having fun and feeling fancy, we are a typical family of four:

Fern is the epitome of girly. Her days are spent cooking in her kitchen, taking care of her baby dolls, wearing pretty dresses & jewelry, and dreaming of the day she’s allowed to use makeup. She speaks in a delicate little voice, and this sweetheart has everyone in the house swooning over her. However, if she feels threatened by her older, much bigger brother, then she can throw a slap, shoot a gun, or swing a sword. In this house a real lady can hold her own.

Our worker-man, farmer Burl is putting down the shovel and sweat these days all in the name of fighting. He spends his days playing hunt and wrestle with anyone who is strong enough-thank you ninja turtles. He’s growing up and often asks how much longer until he’s a big as his uncles, can drive his car, and go live by himself in the woods. However, he still takes a nap everyday and needs help getting dressed, so it’s not anytime soon.  He’s at such a fun stage.

There’s nothing notable about John and me. John’s like the average hardworking man who takes care of his family but much stronger. I’m like the average cook-and-sometimes-clean stay at home mom, but hopefully more fun. The only noteworthy change in our lives has been the addition of the iPhone. While sometimes suffering from tech-neck, we’ve enjoyed more texting and constantly being connected to the internet. Directions, quick shopping, and random facts? We’ve got them all. Nothing has been more fun than recording all of our good times and sharing them with family and on social media. We’re having so much fun doing nothing special and telling everyone about it.

Typical or wild, may you have a very fantastic Christmas season.

(Christmas cards of the past: 2010, 2011, 2012)