Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Love Box

My good friend posted this thought, "Marriage Box" on her wall this morning.  And it was such a perfect lead into some of the thoughts and feelings that have been flooding my heart these last few days that I felt it was inspired and time to try to put them on paper.

First - read it. Important foundation.  Did you do it?  So good, isn't it?

This led me to think about my relationship with my husband, which naturally led me to think about my relationship with my children. 

My son is 3 months old.  When I look at his face, stare into his beautiful deep-blue eyes, do you know what I see?  Acceptance.  Pure love. Love that transcends anything and everything, that buoys you up through any hard day, any trial, any struggle, any tears that may be falling from my eyes and heartache that may be happening in my world.  There is no judgment in his eyes.  I see the way he looks at me and feel cherished.  I feel adored.  I feel like I am the most beautiful person in the world and there is nothing he would rather be doing than staring lovingly into my eyes and laying happily in my arms.

After shedding a few thousand tears as these thoughts washed over me, I realized that those things are EXACTLY what he gets when he stares into MY eyes, when he looks into MY face, when he feels the warmth of MY smile.  Because babies only know what they see in front of them, only know what they have been given.  So I must be giving him what he is giving me, teaching him what he is teaching me. He must look into my eyes and see my love for him, my acceptance of him, my adoration for him, that he is the most precious, beautiful thing in the world to me.

I then looked at my three other children, some days while they were fighting, yelling, ignoring me, making huge messes; and some days while they were playing peacefully together, making me smile with every sentence, pulling my heartstrings with their love, hugs, kisses, "I love you, Mommy" actions and words.  And I was appalled to think that there are moments when they DON'T get from me what my baby does.  Times when they DON'T look in my eyes/face and see and feel all of those beautiful things that he does.  Moments when they receive from me the exact thing I am frustrated with receiving from them.

Does that resonate with you at all?  I know Moms are human, and we CANNOT be "on" all the time!  We are going to make bad choices right along with our children.  We are learning motherhood in WAVES instead of trickles. 

But motherhood is also a box.  Our relationships with our children are also a box.  If we are doing it right, we are putting love in our relationships with our children.  We are putting more love in our children than frustration.  We are putting communication, forgiveness, prayer, priority.  They learn it all first-hand through us.  And because we aren't perfect, they learn forgiveness, humility, persistence, dedication, repentance.  They also learn the art and habits of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full by constantly contributing TO it. 

On the other hand, if they learn to take more than they put in, they are also learning to live in an empty box. 

There are a lot of empty boxes in this world.  But I truly believe that if our children leave our homes with full boxes, leave full boxes behind them in the relationships they had while at home, our children will create a world of FULL boxes.  They won't know how to do any different!

Truly the hand that rocks the cradle IS the hand that rules the world.  And parenthood is the key that will give this world a lot more FULL boxes!

So that, my friends, is my Deliberate Mom goal for this week.  Fill my children's boxes to overflowing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week One

This has been such an awesome week!  I feel really good.  Really. Really. Really. Good.  I want everyone to feel this good!!!  I have been living REALLY healthy -- for the last year, it has been a lifestyle.  We don't have junk in our house.  The most processed things we eat are homemade spaghetti sauce and bread.  My kids don't have pretzels and crackers and granola bars in our house to snack on.  We got rid of cold cereal. You get the picture!  But still, my baby is three months old, and up until this last week, the scale had only gone down about 2 pounds in three months. Well, this week I'm down 3.4 pounds.  WOW!  And I've never felt better!  And my baby is going through a growth-spurt or something because he has gotten even chunkier this last week! LOL!  My husband just laughs and says, "His face is getting really round!  Look at those cheeks!!!  Hey there my little chunky monkey!"  And. he. is. ;-)

So - what did our first week's challenge rules consist of?
1) 4-5 Servings of Fruit and Vegetables every day.
2) No sugar.
3) No carbs (other than fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans)
4) Include 2 shakes a day and 5 meals a day.
5) Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
6) Exercise 30 min., 3 days

That's it!  Pretty easy, right?  I know some people will say that "you shouldn't cut out carbs, it isn't healthy for you or your baby."  Well - we didn't!  We just specified what our carb sources were going to consist of for this first week.  The shakes are a perfect balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats, so I knew I was getting carbs there.  And seriously - that's what I love about doing this week-by-week.  You can tweak it, see how you feel, watch your baby and your milk supply, etc.  Nutritionally, I've never felt better!  Energy-wise, I've never felt better!  And that is SO IMPORTANT if I'm going to keep up with my four little ones.

First $50 safe.  This week, going for $60!

Oh - if you missed what this Challenge is all about, you can read about it here!  Love having you along for this journey!

We Don't Do Yelling

Photo from
One of my friends recently posted that her little 2-year-old heard her yelling at her son, came in the room covering her ears and said, "No, Mommy!  We no do yelling!"  It was a reminder to her of what she had told those little 2-year-old twins to keep the noise level down in their home.

But for me, it was a game-changer.  See, we've become a little too prone to "yelling" around here.  Though I didn't notice it in myself, I definitely have started to notice it in my children - as they yell angrily at each other to stop, to give it back, to leave them alone, etc.  So yesterday we had a little discussion and talked about our family goal for the week: No yelling!  I explained to my children that, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"  I told the kids that this meant I would correct them when they yell, I would tell them, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"  I also told them there would be days when Mommy would need THEM to remind me, that if I started yelling, they would stop me and remind me that, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"

I know this isn't going to change thing overnight, but I also know it's a very good first step!

What other family declarations do you have?  How have you helped your children (and yourself) correct a bad behavior before it became a defining habit?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calling All Shoes - Walk This Way!!!

Do you want to be part of a miracle? Because we are creating one.

My good friend Amanda is trying to adopt to complete their family.  After losing their baby a few years ago and not being able to get pregnant again, their arms are ready to give these children a home -- and you can help raise the money to do it!

From Amanda:
Join us as we collect 40,000 gently used but still wearable shoes THIS MONTH to raise the funds needed for the adoption of two children. We can take ANY type of shoe - boots (we LOVE boots, since they pay us by the pound), flip flops, high heels, tennis shoes, dressy shoes, sports shoes, cleats, anything. For men, women and children. As long as there aren't gaping holes . . . and they match . . . we'll take them! You declutter, we earn much needed adoption money AND the shoes go to third world countries. WIN, WIN and WIN!!!

To find the drop location nearest you (we are in 10 states) and to read our story, see our blog for details:

All shoes must be gathered by March 31st so we are in the final stretch! WE CAN DO IT!
Help us complete our family. Sole by sole.
Thank you.

Communicating with My Kids

One of my goals this year is to start each day with my "Power Hour" - 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of fitness, 20 minutes to learn something new.  As I thought about what kinds of "learn something new" things I wanted to focus on, I instantly knew that I needed to find a new way to communicate with my head-strong kids NOW so that - when they get older - we have that solid foundation of love, openness, and respect to lead us through the teenage years.

I went to Amazon and found this book - highly recommended and rated: Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children.  I was looking into How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk and Talk So Your Kid Will Listen, but this one was in the comments/reviews as more thorough/hands-on, so I decided to start with it and see where it leads.

What are some of your favorite parenting books?  I'd love some suggestions for future Power Hour Learning Topics!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

120 Day Healthy Mama/Healthy Baby Challenge

Now that I've been nursing my babe for almost 3 months and established a great milk supply, I am ready to ditch this postpartum baby body for GOOD!  I just embarked on Monday on my own, personal 120-Day challenge (countdown to my 33rd birthday) and am excited to invite all of you to follow along!  Want to do your own challenge?  Here are my step-by-step suggestions of what I've done to ensure success:

1) Start with a Plan and a Buddy!  
My good friend Camille - who lives in Alaska and I have not seen for YEARS - and I decided we were going to hit this together!  We set up some ground rules for our first 30 Days and each put $50 in the pot!  The catch? It's ALL OR NOTHING!!!  This isn't about the highest score at the end of the day -- this is about being IN IT to WIN IT!  So if we fail to complete even ONE of our "ground rules" even ONE day - we lose ALL $50 to the other person!  Know how we're going to keep it really fun?  We're adding $10 each week to the pot!!!  So after we have our PERFECT first week, we move on to week #2 with $60 at stake - and so on and so forth!!!  When we finish without ANY mess-ups, we not only get to enjoy PERFECT health and fitness, we also get to enjoy a girls' weekend and/or shopping spree to celebrate!

2) Focus on Nutrition! 
This is ESPECIALLY important if you are a nursing momma!  Your baby can't get from you what you don't have to give -- and this first year is SO IMPORTANT for those little ones!  In addition to the prenatals, I am starting each day with a delicious, organic, nutrient-dense, perfectly-balanced meal replacement shake to keep up on the minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and nutrients my body needs but doesn't always get from food!  I mix it with an energizing Orange Electrolyte drink to really boost my energy and focus for the day (tastes like a creamsicle or orange julius and gives me some added Vitamins A, B, and C without any artificial colors, flavors, or sugars).  I am also taking the IsaOmega Supreme (best I've found in purity and quality - and no fish oil burps -- YUCK!) for my and my baby's brain development.  Other than that, though, the FOCUS is on CLEAN eating!  Raw when I can stomach it -- whole foods ALWAYS -- organic when I can afford it! :-)

3) Don't Forget Exercise!
A perfect fitness plan for optimal health includes two things: Cardio and Resistance.
  • For Cardio -- especially if you are like me and took a vacation on fitness for your pregnancy or longer -- I HIGHLY recommend the Couch to 5K Running program!  "But Melinda," you say, "I am not a runner!"  PERFECT!  Cuz this running program is for COUCH POTATOES who want to BE runners! :-)  But, to help with your transition, you might consider adding a supplement to your diet to help with cardiovascular health.  I am following the C25K program up with a Half Marathon Training -- running the Legacy Midnight Run on July 19. (WITH GLOW STICKS -- doesn't that sound FUN?  And really, if you were running 13.1 miles in JULY, wouldn't YOU choose a midnight run, too? I thought so!) "But, Melinda," you say, "my knees won't allow me to run like that!"  Well, that's why I'm taking this amazing joint support supplement to help my body adjust to this extra weight I've dumped on it and still carry me to the finish line!
  • For Resistance -- I just started doing my morning POWER HOUR!  In that POWER HOUR, I do 20 min. of resistance training.  Since I am a busy mom with 4 kids, ages 4 to 3 months, I rarely have the time for a BIG routine!  And if it includes weights right now -- well, I end up spending the entire workout routine struggling with my kids about why I need my weights more than they do!  Can you relate? So thank goodness my friend Sarah introduced me to Tracy Anderson's routines on YouTube! For this first month, I'll be doing her Arms, Legs, Abs - and in 20 minutes, without props, I can do a little of each (even if my kids join me - no fighting over who gets the fun equipment).  
4) Make sure you SLEEP!
Yeah - I know.  The word sleep holds no meaning to the mother of small children.  BUT - I will explain later how IMPORTANT sleep is to your health and why you -- yes, YOU -- absolutely MUST get enough of it every day.  For yourself, your baby, your whole family!  If you need some help getting into a good sleep routine at first, I highly recommend this all-natural, melatonin-based spray - formulated to help even the most untrained sleeper get his/her body back into the routine.  It's non-habit-forming and will help you get healthy, deep sleep (which synthetic sleep support doesn't do - FYI).   Oh - and I heard you say that melatonin doesn't work for you -- yes, I DID hear you!  Well, I have turned non-believers who thought THEY couldn't get enough power from melatonin-based products into believers and helped them get off their prescription drug dependence for sleep. Don't knock it til you try it -- for only $13 a bottle (which could last you up to 3 months), you can't afford not to! ;-)

5) Get Your Water In!
Water.  Pure, clear, undefiled.  The perfect, most refreshing, health-enhancing drink out there.  You need more than you think!  I'll write about that later as well, but for now -- aim to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink 75 oz. of water (minimum).

6) Two Words: Rest and Relaxation
After you've planned all that physical stuff in to help you get healthy, plan in a little R&R for yourself. Studies have shown that even 15 minutes of some form of meditation reduces inflammation in your body immensely!  So - do yourself a favor and plug in some R&R.  If you don't, you'll be coming back and telling me you can't lose weight (not to mention you are incredibly moody, stressed, and un-focused/unhappy in your life) -- and I'll kindly re-direct you to one source of your problems! :-)

7) It's a Kodak Moment
Take a before picture. Not so you can show the world, but so you'll remember if you get back here after the next baby that you were here before - and it wasn't the end of the world. So you can see how far you've come and not get discouraged if your body stalls and adjusts a few times. So you can remember on the days when you feel like you aren't doing anything right that you ARE!  And - in the end - YES! So you can brag your head off about all your hard work, how far you've come, and that it IS possible to any naysayers in your world (and even inspire others to overcome the naysayers in their worlds -- even themselves -- and embark on their own journey to optimal health). Take your measurements, too - the scale is NOT the predictor or definition of HEALTH!

There you go, friends! Welcome to my 120-Day Healthy Baby/Healthy Mama Challenge!  I'm delighted to have you on board!