I’m Still Here

I ran across this quotation today and it stopped me in my tracks. This is true for me, but it almost wasn’t. As a society, in general, we don’t like to talk about our problems, our missteps, our mistakes. But it is so important that those around us, especially those who are in the midst of their own storms, see us struggle and push through. It’s important to be real. It’s also not something I’m good at.

We have Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat. We have filters for our pictures and photo editors on our phones. We crop out the mess, smooth away the wrinkles and post our highlight reel online, while hiding the mess of real life. This gives off a false sense of perfection to those around us.

We have come to value perfection in a way that is unrealistic and unattainable. We also don’t acknowledge a mental health problem for the medical diagnosis it is. If I have a diagnosed heart problem, that caused an emergency, and I go to the hospital for treatment, my friends and family would likely post prayer requests and information for my friends and distant family to see. However, if I have a diagnosed mental health problem, that caused an emergency, and I go to the hospital for treatment, my friends and family might not know much about it at all and they most certainly wouldn’t post about it online. It would likely be considered shameful. This is wrong. And this wouldn’t help me seek support or treatment.

More than ten years ago, through the perfect storm of stress, the ending of a difficult, debilitating relationship, and isolation from friends and family, I found myself in a pit of despair that seemed unending and inescapable. This is almost where my story ended. But instead of being the period at the end of my story, it became the semi-colon. Simply a pause. A break that was painful, difficult and hard to overcome, but oh-so-worth the struggle.

You see, ten years ago me had no idea what life would hold for me now. I had no way of seeing the joy and strength and love that would define my life now. Not perfection, by a long shot. Not struggle-free at all. But beautiful in it’s own messy way.

I want to be more genuine. I’m working to build a circle of friends that I share more of myself with. Women whom I can call, not only when I have joy and excess to share, but also when I’m in need physically or emotionally. Do you have this circle? When something bad happens or your day goes south, do you have supports in place to build you back up, help you find a smile even when it seems impossible, or come along side of you to shoulder the load?

Would it shock you to know that women in our Everyday Mom’s group have very real, very scary struggles right now? What if I told you some of them don’t know exactly how they will feed their children next week? How about if I told you that more than one of us have contemplated, planned or even tried to end our lives? These are beautiful people, who love their families so much, but they are in pain and when they look around, they only see our highlight reels. They are suffering in silence because they don’t know exactly how to reach out. They don’t want to reveal the struggle or expose their own weakness because somehow we’ve sold the lie that our lives are always perfect. This is not ok.

How do we overcome this? How do we move past the fluff and find depth in our relationships with each other? What will emotionally investing in one another cost us? I don’t have all the answers here, I really am asking, how do we help? What would help you?

We do have an awesome local resource in The Seventh Mom Project that advocates “holding the umbrella” for one another as we weather the storms of perinatal mood disorders. I think the analogy holds for any season in life. We can be umbrella holders for those around us, but only if we are allowed to see the storm. Only if we know that it’s raining in your world.

I also think there is opportunity here to put together a more tangible resource for our group. I haven’t ironed out all of the ideas that are floating in my mind yet, but we are so involved in each other’s lives, in one sense, because we interact online almost daily, and yet at the same time we are so distanced from one another that the problems can slide under the radar. There has to be a way to pull together and be there for each other during the storms. For some of us, this may mean offering childcare so a mom can run out for coffee alone. For others, it may mean helping sort through mountains of laundry. I love helping after a new baby comes or when there’s an illness in the family. I like to make a meal, send takeout or gift cards. There’s room to form an organized system for some of this, but it will only work if you will reach out. What do you think? Will you share your struggle, to help others share theirs too?

Clean Eating Crockpot Meals

Written By: Lisa Valentine

Being a mom can be hectic and being a working mother makes it even crazier, especially when I’m at work in middle of dinner time. That makes it even harder to make sure my family is fed a hot meal. When I first became a mom my husband and I both worked different shifts and neither were the typical 9-5. With my husband working 12 hour shifts and my first baby starting to eat real food, I was at a loss for how to have a hot meal for my family when I could not be there. That’s when I started my crockpot experimenting.
Pinterest became my friend. I just started trying different recipes that I found and started making a list of which recipes were at hit. Not all got put on that list, some got altered and tried again, some got the boot. There were a lot of failed attempts and wasted food but I got better at picking meals to cook in the crockpot and it became my saving grace.

   I’m not just talking to working mothers here. I know how crazy kids’ schedules can be and it’s hard to cook dinner every night, especially when your kids have sports and different activities after school. We end up hitting the drive through because we are at a loss for what to cook or you just don’t have the time.  No matter what kind of mother you are; working, stay at home, work from home or homeschooling, the crockpot is THE go-to mom hack. Even when I’m not working I use it because there are some nights I know I won’t have the time or energy to cook. You know, those days you are out all day running errands or doing something fun like going to a theme park, the last thing you want to do when you get home is cook.

   Before I had my second baby I knew I needed to plan ahead this time. That’s when I made a list of our favorite recipes and made some freeze ahead crockpot meals to have on hand post baby. Nutrition is so important when you are postpartum and getting little to zero sleep usually leaves us in survival mode, eating whatever comes our way. This was a life saver when we got home from the hospital! All we had to do was decide the night before what we wanted for dinner, let it thaw out a little bit in the refrigerator and throw it in the crock pot the next morning.

When I became a health and fitness coach and started getting into clean eating, I started altering the recipes to fit our clean eating lifestyle. I knew this was something that I could not keep to myself and could use to help other moms who struggle with putting nutritious meals on the table because time is limited.
   Sometimes time plays a factor, even with the crockpot. Sometimes I forget to put it on in the morning or just didn’t find the time. My shortcut for that is adjusting the cook time. Below is a conversion chart for crockpot cooking.
LOW setting   HIGH setting
7 hours            3 hours
8 hours            4 hours
9 hours            5 hours
10 hours          6 hours
11 hours          7 hours
12 hours          8 hours
My go-to versatile crockpot hack is chicken. Throw in some chicken breasts with a little bit of water or chicken broth (low for 8 hours) and shred it when done. You can use this throughout the week for several recipes and alter to your liking. Some ideas are,
Chicken Salad
Buffalo chicken
BBQ chicken
Quesadillas
Enchiladas
Burritos (or burrito bowl)
Stir fry
To put my clean eating twist on it, I use organic chicken. I will serve atop of a salad, quinoa or brown rice or wrapped in romaine hearts or Ezekiel tortillas. I also recently discovered NUCO coconut wraps, they are a natural alternative to tortillas. I thought they were more flexible and held together better than the Ezekiel tortillas. They tasted good to me, but if you don’t like the taste of coconut, you may not like them. I ordered mine off of Amazon.
I hope these tips bring you some relief so you can still eat healthy while surviving parenthood. Bellow I added some of my favorite freeze ahead crockpot meals with grocery list to help on those days you are in a pinch.

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Crock Pot Italian Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:
2 lbs ground turkey
1/2 cup whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
1/2 cup Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
2 Tablespoons cornstarch or 2 eggs
2 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp salt + fresh pepper
For the sauce:
2 tsp olive oil
8 cloves garlic, smashed
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
Salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh chopped basil  

1. In a large bowl, combine ground turkey, breadcrumbs, egg, parsley, garlic and cheese. Using clean hands, mix all the ingredients and form small meatballs, about 1/8th cup each.
2. Flash freeze on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer then place into ziplock bags.
3. Make sauce ahead or when ready to put in crock pot – In a small sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and sauté until golden, being careful not to burn. 

5. Pour crushed tomatoes into the crock pot with bay leaf. Add garlic and oil.
Drop meatballs into the sauce, cover and set crock pot to low, 4 to 6 hours. When meatballs are ready, adjust salt and pepper to taste and add fresh chopped basil or parsley.
Serve over favorite pasta.
Write on bag:
1. When ready, pour sauce and place in Crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours.
2. Serve over favorite pasta.

Easy Crock Pot Vegetable Beef Soup
Ingredients
1 1/2 to 2 pounds stew meat
32 oz beef broth
1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 carrot
1 medium onion
1 stalk celery
8 oz green beans
1/4 t thyme
1/4 t marjoram
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
Add 1 T oil to a large pan over medium high heat. When oil is hot, add about 2 pounds of cubed beef and cook until browning some. About 10 minutes.
While the meat is browning, clean and prep veggies. One stalk of celery chopped medium. One carrot cut into 1/4 inch medallions. One medium onion chopped medium. Also 8 oz of fresh or frozen green beans.
Add all to freezer bag. Add 32 oz beef broth (you can do this now or when you dump it all in the crock pot), one 15 oz can diced tomatoes (not drained), 1/4 t thyme, 1/4 t marjoram and one bay leaf. Salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well
Write on bag:
1.When ready, cook on high for 4-5 hours until meat and carrots are tender or 8-10 on low

Crock Pot Chicken Fajitas
Ingredients
1 yellow onion, sliced
3 peppers, sliced
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
1/4 to ½ cup chicken broth, depending on preference (leave this out if you prefer a drier fajita filling)
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1 ½ tablespoons chili powder
Squirt of lime juice

Instructions
Combine sliced onions, peppers & chicken in a ziplock bag
Pour chicken broth over top (you can do this now or when you are ready to cook)
Sprinkle everything with cumin, salt, and chili powder.
Give a nice quirt of lime juice over the top.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook on low for 4-8 hours (or on High for 4 hours) or until meat is spreadable.
2. When meat is done, shred with two forks and stir back into juices. Serve meat mixture with slotted spoon with your choice of fixings.

Chicken Vegetable Soup
Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
1 cup celery, diced
1 cup carrots, diced
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 cup corn, frozen
1 cup edemame (soy beans), frozen
1 14oz can tomatoes, diced
4 cups chicken broth, low sodium
1/4 tsp. thyme
1/4 tsp. salt (to taste)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp. pepper, ground
1 tsp. parsley, dried
Instructions
Add all ingredients to a zip lock bag and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

* To shred chicken – I keep the chicken in the Crockpot and take two forks to pull apart the chicken. The chicken should be falling completely apart.

Honey Sesame Chicken

Ingredients
1lb chicken tenders
3 T olive oil
1 cup raw honey
2 T sesame seeds
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper

Directions
Place all ingredients in freezer bag, toss to coat and freeze.

Write on bag:
1. When ready, place in crockpot and cook on low for 4-5 hours.
2. Remove chicken & shred, and then return to sauce.
3. Can serve over hot cooked rice or serve in lettuce wraps.

Crock Pot SW Steak
Ingredients:
1-1/2 lbs. stew meat
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
1/2 tsp. dried oregano leaves
2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
Directions                                                                                                                                          Place onions and garlic in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Mix salsa, oregano, chili powder, salt, and pepper in small bowl and pour over meat. Top with drained black beans.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7-9 hours until meat is tender
2. Serve with favorite rice

Sausage and Peppers

Ingredients
1 – 2 lbs chicken sausage
2 peppers, sliced
2 onions, sliced
1 can diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp parsley

Directions
Flash freeze sausage on parchment lined cookie sheet in the freezer.
Place onions and peppers in bottom of freezer bag and top with meat. Add in can of tomatoes and parsley, pour over meat.

Write on bag:
1. Cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4 hours
2. Serve with favorite rice or in favorite rolls

Grocery list
Meat & dairy
4 pounds stew meat
1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breast or thighs
2 lbs chicken, skinless, boneless
3 lb chicken tenders
2 lb Ground turkey
1-2 lbs turkey sausage
4 eggs

Pantry
Whole wheat seasoned breadcrumbs
Reggiano Parmigiano cheese, grated
2 28 oz cans crushed tomatoes
32 oz beef broth
1 32 oz & 1 can chicken broth
3 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
Lime juice
Honey
Soy sauce
Sesame oil
Extra virgin olive oil
16 oz. jar chunky salsa
15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

Spices
Salt
Pepper
Sesame seeds
Parsley
Chili powder
Oregano
Bay leaves
Thyme
Cumin
Marjoram
Basil
Cornstarch (if subbing for eggs)
Frozen
Green beans
Corn
Edemame (soy beans)

Produce
2 bulbs garlic
fresh chopped basil & parsley
Carrots
6 medium onion
Celery
5 peppers
*Don’t forget freezer bags, your favorite fixings for garnish and favorite rice/pastas.

Freezer bags
Cheese?
Salsa?
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
Rice
Pasta
Romaine (for lettuce wraps) and/or side salad for soups.
Whatever else you like…

The REAL Mother’s Day Gift Guide

On my personal blog, I wrote about all the great things/experiences you can purchase for Mom this Mother’s Day in a gift guide. I’ll admit, I’ve had my eye on this Rebecca Minkoff cross body bag for a hot minute, but I would never splurge the $250 for a bag on myself on a regular basis, so that’s what I “asked” for, but it got me thinking. . .

While that bag would be such an appreciated gift, there are SO many things I would love to have for Mother’s Day that are absolutely free (or very close to it).

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  1. Gratitude. Being a stay-at-home mom, I take care of the kids all day. Diapers, Outfits, Sweeping, Meal Prep, trying to get my exercise in, picking up the toys, scrubbing literally everyone (but my husband’s) butts. I just want to feel like I am appreciated. I want to feel like the decision I made not to go back to work is something that’s WORTH it to everyone in my family.
  2. A Handwritten Card. It won’t be long before my boys will be making these cards in school classes I know, but being that they are so small now, it means even more that their Dad took the time to sit down, create an experience with them, and make something just for me. There’s nothing more special than an illegible scribble from an 11 month old holding a crayon for the first time.
  3. THE DAY OFF. I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to clean, I don’t want to change a diaper. I want to be able to put on a full face of make-up in peace, and curl my hair without worrying about someone grabbing the curling iron off the counter and burning their face. I want to take the normal 90 minutes it takes to get everyone dressed and out the door, and spend that preparing MYSELF for a relaxing day where I’ll actually look decent enough to take a few selfies.
  4. A bathroom break without ANY surprise visitors. It’s just a fantasy I’m sure, but it would just be SO nice to have my “morning meeting” without having someone burst in for something.
  5. Brunch. Enough said right? Calories don’t count on Mother’s Day so I want pancakes, doughnuts AND all the bacon. Please and Thank you.
  6. I would like to be able to be the ONLY person who uses my cell phone all day. For a full 24 hrs, it would be nice not to have to surrender my iPhone to the demands of YouTube Kids addicts.
  7. Flowers. They can be paper, drawn, or real, but I don’t get flowers enough, and this is the day that I’m really hoping for them.
  8. All the cuddles. It would be so nice, if instead of running and jumping until he passes out, my toddler somehow managed to snuggle up with me for a post-brunch nap. As Mothers, we all know that sleeping children are the sweetest, most angelic creatures in the entire universe, and I just want to soak that in for a half of an hour on Mother’s Day.
  9. To watch ANYTHING I WANT on TV. I wanna catch up on Criminal Minds y’all, I’ve got 3 episodes just waiting in the DVR queue but somehow Moana has sucked up all the TV time this week. (Although I’ll admit I am kind of in LOVE with “How Far I’ll Go” and it may or may not be on my iTunes playlist.)
  10. Speaking of iTunes, can I please listen to MY music all day? When we’re traveling, while I’m getting ready, I just wanna belt out Taylor Swift all day WITHOUT those rude eye rolls the hubs can give me.
  11. Also- can we please block the “Daddy Finger” song on YouTube for just this ONE day?! It’s awful, my kids love it, and it’s inevitably stuck in my head ALL day after Cash has his iPad time. I just don’t want to hear it, like at all. (If you don’t know what I’m talking about DO NOT GOOGLE, you’ll regret it immediately, just praise sweet baby Jesus you have some ignorant bliss when it comes to this tune.)
  12. A long fancy bath. I wanna use bubble bath AND a bath bomb, light candles, and shave my freaking legs without rushing to get clean! No one coming in trying to splash in my water or throwing mini dinosaurs in with me while I condition my hair. I want to exfoliate and moisturize and use that fancy face mask I got last year for Mother’s Day but haven’t had time to use yet.
  13. Sweet Kisses. Last but certainly not least, I just want all the sugar from my family. Sure, this day is about celebrating me, Mama, but I wouldn’t be able to celebrate this day without these babes, and I just want to soak up all of their sweet little kisses before they become grown and think it’s gross when I playfully bite their chunky little cheeks.

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What do you REALLY want this Mother’s Day?

Hey, Mom and Dad- It’s not your fault.

By: Taylor Arellano

I was a brand new Mom with a sweet little newborn boy. He was the center of my whole world, my iPhone was filled with nothing but pictures of him throughout every part of our day no matter how insignificant. I lived and breathed for every involuntary smile, coo, and wiggle.

Like any new Mom, I spammed my Facebook news feed with pictures of my new baby all day, every day. I was so proud of this little life Zach and I had brought into the world, and I wanted to share his never ending cuteness (no matter how insignificant the photo really was) with the whole world.

So, the day I received a Facebook message in regards to a picture I posted of a photo of my then 2 month old son still makes me question myself to this day…

I had just started my transition out of the Military and was home often by myself with Isaac. Being a brand new, young Mom I was learning how to balance home chores with trying to feed and please a newborn, as well as apply for new jobs, buy a new home, and more. These days were absolutely crazy to say the least.

One day, Isaac was especially fussy, and I distinctly remember it was a day where I needed to be on the phone to talk to the lenders for the home we were purchasing. Wondering if it would work, I turned on a quiet T.V. Channel and placed Isaac in his bouncer in front of the T.V. Stand to occupy him while I was on the phone. To my surprise, it worked, and I actually thought it was cute that my 2 month old was so entertained by a completely random T.V. show, so of course I snapped a pic and uploaded it to Facebook thinking how cute it was that my newborn was just lounging around watching a morning talk show.

It wasn’t but a couple hours later that I signed into Facebook to find a private message from an old High School classmate that I had not even remembered speaking to in at least 8 years. But what was even more shocking, was the context of her message.

In short, the message basically read that she was attending College to be an early childhood educator, and she wanted to advise me that letting young children watch television was extremely damaging to their development and that my “adorable son” (Yeah, she tried to bring me a up a little before she kicked me down) could actually end up with a speech delay or other cognitive disabilities. There was a lot more detail and degrading comments in her message, but I will spare you those.

Immediately, I felt awful. I was a brand new Mom, I had no idea what I was doing. Was that hour of T.V. going to damage his ability to speak in a couple of years? When is he allowed to start watching T.V.? Why do they even make those baby shows? The questions in my head were endless, but I knew that I did not want to ask this “friend” the answers to these questions because I felt degraded and dumb.

Fast forward 18 months later. Isaac is diagnosed as Speech Delayed.

If you don’t think that message from my former classmate popped into my head, think again.

Zach and I were sad, we were worried, we felt so bad. Did we do something wrong? Were we failing Isaac in his development? We by no means used the T.V. as a babysitter, we played outside with him, we played games with him, we read books. Was this still somehow our fault?

The short answer to those questions- NO.

We were assured by our pediatrician, speech therapists, hearing evaluation specialists and more that THESE THINGS HAPPEN. We were good parents.

I am a believer in science and medicine, I am a Nursing Student myself, and I know there is a clinical basis for almost everything. I know that there are predisposing factors for illnesses, developmental delays, etc.

…But I also know that I am a good Mom. Zach is an amazing Dad. Our Son is a healthy and curious little boy, and his speech development is a work in progress that we see improvements in DAILY. We are doing our best as parents, and Isaac is doing his best too.

It took a long time for me to stop blaming myself. I would think back on the message from my old classmate and wonder if this was my fault. If the occasional Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode made my little boy incapable of speaking at an age appropriate level. If I should have taken our T.V. and completely left it in the garage for 3 years since according to an early education STUDENT ” a child should see no T.V. until age 3″.

I need to add that I am in no way trying to discredit the knowledge of this person. I am sure she knew a lot about the subject. I also understand that television and other factors do have significant effects on a child’s development. That is not the point here though.

I wondered if that classmate (who had no children) knew what it was like to be so burnt out from being home with an 11 month old for 7 days straight and had 1 shower in that time frame- knew what it was like to just need 30 minutes of quiet so she could be a better Mom.

In addition to understanding that we cannot blame ourselves, we also need to think about how our words may affect another parent. Whenever I feel like I have a piece of advice for another parent, I stop first. I think about how I felt when I got that Facebook message.

Is saying this going to make them feel inferior in their parenting skills and decisions? Is saying this going to be helpful? Am I going to make him/her feel like they have done something wrong? Am I stealing this Mom’s joy right now?

OF COURSE- if a child’s safety or well-being is in danger, there are appropriate ways to intervene. But unless you have A LOT and I mean A LOT of probable cause to think someone is really affecting their child’s well-being, we have to think twice before we hand out unsolicited advice to parents.

The words of someone completely insignificant to my family’s life had a lasting impact on me.

Be a good friend. Be a good fellow parent. But be considerate.

And to my fellow Mom’s and Dad’s with a child who may be needing some extra help in one or more areas of development, hang in there. Progress comes with time, and I know very well how the wait for signs of progress can seem like ages. Be gentle on yourself, and on your child. The first time they call you “Mama” or “Dada” with true recognition and affiliation with the word, you will cry. That first “I love you” will make your heart burst, and it is so worth the wait.

My gassy, fussy, poopy little guy

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Photo cred Shannon Brie Photography

E is my second child.  He’s 23 months younger than his brother, my first child.  It hadn’t been that long since I’d done the newborn thing.  I thought, “This is my second little guy.  I’ve got this.  I know what to do now.”  But, as second children do, he threw me some curve balls.  The biggest being that he’s allergic to dairy.

Now, before I go on, let me qualify some information for you.  I’m a neonatal nurse practitioner, I have a friend, who used to be our neighbor, who is dairy allergic herself and I happen to have a close friend who has a child, a bit younger than my first, who has a severe dairy allergy that causes GI issues, similar to what E has.  These things helped me arrive at my findings with E.  I am NOT a pediatrician or an allergist.  If you should think some of this info might apply to you or your child, I encourage you to discuss it with your practitioner, as they will be best suited to help you navigate all of this, because they know your histories.

I had E at home.  I put him to breast within minutes after he arrived.  He breastfed like a champ.  Things were great.  He latched and nursed, no issue.  But from almost the moment he arrived, he screamed.  He was either nursing or sleeping or screaming or pooping.  Now, I know newborns sleep and eat and poop, primarily, but this kid didn’t have a happy waking moment.  And it got worse.  He was inconsolable at times.  He also had very runny breastmilk poops.  I remember thinking, in my fuzzy postpartum haze, that his poop was more on the diarrhea side than I remembered his brother having, but brushing it off as just a variation of normal.  It was yellow (bright yellow, but still yellow), soft and didn’t obviously smell.  So we pressed forward.  He was fussy and gassy.  SO gassy!  I remember talking to our pediatric nurse practitioner about it and some ideas being brought up, but he was growing and he was happy-ish (he still cried so. much.) so we just pushed on.  And then…

He was six months old and we started solids.  I do baby led weaning – which is an easy way to say I skip the baby food purees and just started giving him bite sized pieces of easy to swallow foods, that I was eating.  So of course I offered cheese and yogurt because those were staples in my own diet.  That’s when things got worse.  His poop became vivid yellow or fluorescent green, slimy and mucous-y and it smelled bad.  He never had obvious blood in his stool, but I could guess that if we tested it, it was there.  He was also MUCH more fussy and gassy.  He co-sleeps with me.  He would scream out in pain in the middle of the night, move around and let out a lot of gas.  Then he would calm down and go right back to sleep.

Finally, a light bulb went off in my head.  Maybe it’s dairy!  Dairy is the number one food allergen in infants and young children.  “Approximately 2.5 percent of children younger than three years of age are allergic to milk. Nearly all infants who develop an allergy to milk do so in their first year of life. Most children eventually outgrow a milk allergy.” –Food Allergy Resource and Education Dairy allergy reactions come in a range of severity from mild to extremely severe and anaphylactic.  E falls somewhere in the middle.  Fortunately (and I am so very thankful) his allergic reaction does not cause hives or swelling and doesn’t close off his airway, requiring us to carry emergency drugs, that we might have to administer, if he gets an accidental exposure.  His reaction qualifies as FPIES – Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome.  “FPIES is a type of food allergy affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.  Classic symptoms of FPIES include profound vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. These symptoms can lead to severe lethargy, change in body temperature and blood pressure.” –FPIES Foundation

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Unfortunately, for me, I made this realization right before the holidays.  That’s right everybody, I had to eliminate dairy from our diets before Christmas.  No Christmas cookies, no Christmas dinner, no traditional Christmas breakfast that my mom always makes.  It was a big deal to me.  It was not something I took lightly or enjoyed.  I had played around with the idea of eating cleaner and trying Whole30 before, but had always chickened out when it came to removing dairy.  Well, now my choice was to eliminate dairy from my diet and continue breastfeeding or stop breastfeeding and find a viable formula option for my baby who now, I suspected, can’t have cow’s milk.  For me, the only acceptable answer was to stop eating dairy along with my son.  Unfortunately for people who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed, there aren’t a lot of good dairy free formula options.  It can be very difficult to find a formula that works well and provides good nutrition for dairy allergic babies.

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So I eliminated dairy.  About two weeks in, I started seeing some improvement – not so much diarrhea, less irritable and gassy.  And six weeks later… that’s right… SIX WEEKS later, things were normal.  Why six weeks, you ask? Because it took around 2-3 weeks for the dairy protein to clear my system and another 2-3 to clear E’s.  We are now dairy-free.

So now a conversation, with someone new who finds out about this allergy, generally goes like this.  He’s allergic to dairy. Dairy? Yes dairy.  So like… milk? Yes. And Cheese? Yes. And butter? Uh huh. And eggs? Nope.  Not eggs? No… eggs come from chickens. Milk comes from cows.  You’d be surprised how often people confuse that.  I find it amusing, mostly.

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So what IS a true dairy allergy?  Dairy allergic or sensitive people are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.  It is NOT the same as lactose intolerance.  “Lactose intolerance is caused by not having enough of the enzyme lactase, which is needed to break down lactose, the sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Milk allergy is a true food allergy caused by an allergic reaction to the protein in milk.” –Everyday Health

Ok, I bet I know what your next questions is… what DO you eat? Isn’t there dairy in EVERYthing?!  There is dairy in a lot of things, but not everything and not even in some things that you’d swear it’s in.  Eating dairy free at home was only a bit challenging in the beginning – once I learned what to look for, and how to read food labels, it became second nature.  Eating dairy free when we are out is still VERY challenging and almost makes it not worth going out to eat, which is hard for me because my family enjoys eating out.

Here’s what I’ve learned about how to look for dairy on labels.  The FDA requires that food allergens be clearly declared on product labeling.  What this means for dairy allergies is that if the word “milk” or “butter” isn’t clearly stated in the ingredients list, they MUST put a statement below the ingredients list that says “CONTAINS milk”.  It is VERY important to read ingredient labels and not just take products at their name because “non-dairy” items, such as non-dairy creamer, can still contain milk.  That’s right.  There’s no regulation on the words companies use on their packaging like “natural” and “non-dairy”.  In fact, the industry now uses “non-dairy” to mean lactose free, often, which is of no help to me because it still contains dairy protein.

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There’s another statement that ends up on a lot of food labels.  The “May Contain” statement.  This statement is something that a company can choose to include, or not, on their labeling as they see fit.  May contain milk basically means that the product is processed on shared equipment with products that do contain milk and could have some cross contamination from it.  This can be a problem for people with life threatening or severe allergies to milk.  More investigation is usually warranted if someone with a severe dairy allergy wants to eat something with a “may contain” statement.  A call or email to the company can help to discuss what their sanitation and testing practices are between share lines.

So, a quick look at processed food labels will generally show me if an item contains milk or not.  I’ve taken the advice of other, more seasoned milk allergy moms and use the triple check method.  I check food when I get it off the shelf at the grocery store – every time, because you never know when the company might decide to change the recipe, then check again as I’m putting the food into our pantry and check it once more before I serve it to myself or E.

Meats are not regulated the same way that other foods are, in the US.  They fall under the jurisdiction of the USDA and have different rules.  Why is this important?  Because a lot of meat has dairy components in it.  That’s right.  Turkeys, hams, sausage, lunch meat, all can contain dairy protein and they don’t have to state it directly on the packaging.  The only way to know if the meat you’ve chosen is dairy free is to have a conversation with the company, via email or phone to be sure, or to use a company that has openly declared that they don’t use dairy products, like Applegate Natural and Organic Meats.

So when we eat at home, we eat mostly meat, fruits, vegetables, pasta and some processed snacks that I’ve found that are safe.  I make more of our food now than ever before, so we are definitely eating healthier, which is an advantage.  When we go out during the day, I’m vigilant to bring our own snacks and lunch so that I won’t get stuck without something for us to eat.

Eating out at restaurants has become more challenging because even when I explain our dairy allergy, some restaurants are just not as careful as others about preparing safe food for us.  We have found several go-tos around town that are willing and happy to help.  Ciccio Cali gets it and makes it easy for me because their menu says right on it what is dairy free and what isn’t.  Tampa Pizza Company offers vegan pizza.  That’s right, I said, err… typed it, VEGAN pizza.  Sounds gross?  It’s not!  They have vegan crust with delicious sauce, mushrooms, roasted garlic and vegan (soy based or non-soy based) cheese.  It’s yummy!  Mellow Mushroom has a vegan pizza too, also delicious.  (Side note, it really blows a server’s mind when you order vegan pizza and add meat to it.)  Boca Brandon is one of our favorite brunch places and they have been good about accommodating us with our allergy.  I love to go on Sundays for brunch and get the steak and eggs.  I can’t get the delightfully creamy grits with it anymore, but they sub potatoes instead and it’s still yummy.  Far and away the place I visit more often now than I ever did before this, is Chipotle Mexican Grill.  EVERYthing on Chipotle’s menu is dairy free except for the obvious items – sour cream and cheese.  It’s so easy!  I just ask that they put on new gloves since their last ones likely handled cheese and they are so kind about it.  The best place I’ve found for food allergies all around – Disney World!  The sit down restaurants at Disney are very allergy conscious and very accommodating.  I can indicate online when I book a reservation that we have a dairy allergy and they flag it from the moment we step into the restaurant.  We’ve had some of the most delicious restaurant meals at Disney since we went dairy free and we don’t feel like we’re missing anything.

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There are some very interesting things that fall into the no dairy category that I would never have guessed.  Oreos, that’s right – no dairy in them.  Shocking, right? Or maybe not so shocking because I’m pretty sure there isn’t a lot that’s natural in Oreos, ha!  Original Ritz Crackers – butter “flavored” apparently doesn’t actually include butter.  A lot of microwave and movie theater popcorn doesn’t have any dairy.  Just flavored oil – yum!  Even more strange than those items that don’t contain dairy, are the unexpected places I found dairy.  Ready?  Wait for it… wine!  Some wine.  Not all wine.  Let’s not get too crazy here.  Some wine companies use dairy in the “fining” process of making wine.  I’m not sure what exactly that is, but I discovered this little truth after I had gotten dairy out of our systems and E had a reaction to something.  I couldn’t figure out what the problem was until I stumbled across the fact that the new bottle of wine I’d been enjoying that week (ok, ok it was really over two days…) was in fact from a company who uses dairy in their processing.  Barnivore.com keeps a list, that isn’t yet comprehensive, but has a lot of brands on it, in case you’re interested.

In the beginning I thought a dairy allergy was going to be a devastating diagnosis for us.  I was so sure that I would miss cheese, ice cream, butter, and milk shakes, and I do, in theory, but in my every day life I don’t feel like I’m missing out at all.  And ultimately, I’m happy to do what needs to be done to keep my baby feeling happy and healthy.  I did feel like once it all cleared my system, I wasn’t craving it any longer.  I consulted my milk allergy friends a lot through the beginning of this journey and one even added me to Milk Allergy Mommas, a great facebook group for all things milk allergy related.  I learned a lot from just scrolling through the board and reading posts, or searching posts to find answers.  It was this group that helped me find my now favorite dairy free substitutes for so many things including, but not limited to, ice cream, chocolate, and even pudding!  I also use godairyfree.org fairly often if I’m out and about and need to find something to eat.  As far as cooking goes, I have found that almost any recipe can be adapted to be dairy free – even green bean casserole!  Don’t believe me?  I made this recipe hummusapien.com for Easter and my family gobbled it up without complaint.  It’s also easy to search for Paleo or Whole30 recipes for good ideas and helpful substitutes.  I even made pressure cooker butter chicken without butter!  I subbed butter flavored coconut oil, instead of using ghee.

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Going dairy free isn’t easy, but it turns out it’s not all that hard either.  If you find yourself facing a similar challenge, take heart!  Consult your healthcare professionals, talk to others who have walked where you are about to tread, and reach out for help.  Hopefully E will outgrow this allergy, but even if he doesn’t, I now know we can handle it!

e

Photo cred Running Circles Photography

Pinterest Picks: Winter Break Crafts

Winter Break is right around the corner and that means LOTS of time alone with your kids asking “what are we doing today?”

Fill in those days with some winter break crafts!

So far, these are the ones we’ve done:

Name Recognition Lights 

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                     Pinterest version                                                                    My version

I cut the lights out (freehand) out of construction paper and drew the bases of the lights with permanent marker. I took a piece of paper and folded and cut it in half and drew a squiggly line for the lights.

Then, I gave them glue sticks and let them go to town.

Lights (Patterns for older kids)

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        Pinterest Version                                      My version

I found this idea here and she used wine corks for the paint, but I had Do-A-Dot art pens laying around and used those! Much easier and less to clean up afterwards!

Cutting Practice trees

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     Pinterest version                                      My version

This one was super easy: Just draw triangle-shaped trees on a green piece of construction paper and let the kids cut them out! My girls actually used the Do-A-Dot makers again since they were laying around and “decorated” the trees.

With all the crafting, your kids are bound to get hungry. So, in addition to our crafts, here are some Pinterest picks for some holiday snacks and food:

Rudolph pancakes

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                   Pinterest version.                                                     My version

I buy pre-made frozen chocolate chip and mini pancakes just for breakfasts like these!

I bought a HUGE bag of holiday M&Ms (which I’ve read I can save and use the red ones for Valentine’s Day and the green ones for St. Patrick’s Day).

I used one red M&M for the nose, two chocolate chips for the eyes and pretzel sticks broken up for the antlers.

Muddy Buddies

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           Pinterest version                                               My version 

Did you know you can buy these pre-made now?! Genius!

I just dumped a bag of muddy buddies, holiday M&Ms and pretzel sticks in a gallon sized Ziplok baggie and mixed it up!

Ruldolph PBJ

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Pinterest version                                 My version

Once again, red M&M and two chocolate chips for the face!

I’ve pretty much figured out that if I put 3 pieces of candy on anything, my kids will eat it ALL!

I cut the shape with my butter knife (it was supposed to be a heart-shape) and put mini pretzels in between the bread.

And just for some LOLZ and to show you that everything doesn’t always turn out just like Pinterest, here is my Pinterest FAIL!

Snowman pancakes 

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Pinterest version                                           My version

I had seen this lady’s post on a cute snowman breakfast and tried to replicate it.

She used mini chocolate chips and apparently, mine are enormous.

I used 3 green M&Ms for the buttons and pretzel sticks for the arms. Mini marshmallows for the snow beneath the feet.

Then, it went terribly wrong. I didn’t have anything cute to use for the nose. I attempted to use a candy corn, but then my snowman just looked like a penguin!

Oh well, the kids still ate them!

Happy Winter Break!

 

 

Healthy School Lunches

There are so many things to think about when you are getting the young people in your house ready to go back to school. There are supplies to purchase, clothes to pick out, and let’s not forget the all-important finding the right backpack. I still remember the Snoopy debacle of 1992. Mom and I picked out a great Snoopy backpack that I thought would be all the rage, but it turns out Lisa Frank was where it was at and my backpack was the bane of my existence for the entire year. These errands take up a lot of time in the month or so before our kids go back to school, but they are, thankfully, not an ongoing issue (unless you pick the wrong backpack).

There is one task that faces parents and guardians day in and day out – lunch. I don’t know about you, but for some reason my kids require sustenance throughout the day. You’d think they could save the hunger strikes, they go on at home, for school, now and then just to give me a break, but alas, they don’t. Lunch planning has escaped me in the past. Even when I was working out of the house full time, planning ahead on what to take myself for lunch was something that I wasn’t good at. I’d arbitrarily throw together something in the morning that was always a weird conglomeration of leftovers from dinner the night before, a yogurt and some kind of fruit. Now, with little tummies to consider, I’ve made it a point to be more conscious of the food choices I have on hand to send with them. I also consider the containers I use to send their food in, as I like to be eco-friendly and safe, when it comes to what will house our food.

First, a word about prep. You know how they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Prep is the same way. I find that if I take a few minutes, when I come home from my weekly grocery shopping trip, to consciously wash and prep the fruits and veggies I’ve brought home, they last longer and are much easier to use. It’s no secret that most produce is sprayed with pesticides during the growing process, but did you know that a lot of it (even some organic produce) is sprayed with accelerants that help it to grow and ripen faster? This is good for the farmers who want to produce faster yields, but not so great for the consumer, as it causes the food to continue ripening at an accelerated rate, even in your refrigerator. The secret to getting your fruits and veggies to last longer is to get these products off of them before you store them.

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The good news is that it’s easy to do. Simply fill your kitchen sink ½ to ¾ full of cold water and add around 1 cup of white vinegar to it. Then put all of your fruits and veggies, except berries, into the sink to soak for 20 minutes. Berries go in for 1-2 minutes only, as they will absorb the water if you leave them any longer. After the soaking, pat everything dry with a towel and let it finish drying on the counter before you put it away. Then slice up, portion out and put things away in containers that are easy to grab and throw into lunches throughout the week. All my produce, including fresh berries now stay good for at least a week!

So now that we’re all prepped, let’s check out some of the fun, healthy school lunch ideas I found on pinterest that are a hit around our house:

Tortilla pinwheels. For some reason, if I wrap sandwich ingredients into a tortilla and cut it into pinwheels, my kiddo loves the once mundane “sandwich” concept and gobbles it up. This is my quick and easy go to when the morning is kind of hairy and I need to get us out the door. You can fill your tortilla with whatever you’d like, spinach, cheese, meat, veggies, fruits, cream cheese; the possibilities are endless.

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Image credit to foodformyfamily.com

Another sandwich variation is sandwich kabobs or stackers (the difference lies in whether I have a kabob stick to skewer it with or not). Simply layer cubes of meat, cheese and veggies with cubes of bread and skewer it together (or not). Voila! Sandwich on a stick!

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Image credit to littledairyontheprairie.com

Quick and easy nachos. Simply layer shredded cheese and chicken or beef pieces on top of tortilla chips and add a small container with black beans and sour cream (or a mixture of sour cream and plain yogurt to be a bit healthier). Your kids can dip the chips into the bean and sour cream mixture to create the perfect nacho bite.

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Image credit to whatlisacooks.com

We love bagels as a breakfast staple around here, but they’re also a quick, easy lunch choice too. My little guy likes the mini-bagels so I just slather a couple of those with cream cheese and stick them in his lunch along with some veggies, fruit and yogurt.

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When I have some prep time the day or night before, I love to make crescent roll ups. Simply add your favorite meat or cheese choices to a crescent, roll it up and bake it according to the package directions. For a pizza variety, add pizza or marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni.   You can either make these completely the day before and refrigerate or prep them to be ready to bake in the morning before school.

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Image credit to amandascookin.com

Now that you’ve prepped and got your meals all ready, what should you put them into? For my family, I choose glass, silicone or stainless steel options. Glass is great as far as being food safe and eco-friendly, but it’s heavier and breakable so I usually opt for silicone or stainless steel when they need to be portable. Here are a few of the options I’ve found that work best for us:

Silicone

This container is a favorite because it has two compartments and comes with a spork that stores in the lid.

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This little container is perfect for snacks or yogurt.

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Stainless steel

For hot or cold food storage, you can’t beat this insulated container.

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This divided container comes with a divider that slides to size to whatever you’re packing for the day.

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These nesting containers and square containers are great for packing things individually.

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Glass

This glass container is a favorite that we use at home.  I like it because it has the silicone sleeve to protect it.

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I hope these ideas are helpful and that they make it a little easier as you tackle the never ending question, “What’s for lunch?”  Happy eating!

13716016_10153862140698178_5093751296788590959_nSharon is a WAHM of two boys ages 2 years old and 4 months old.  She co-owns WrappedUpTampa.com, a natural parenting online boutique that has carefully chosen products from wooden toys and teethers made by hand, stainless, silicone and glass food storage and various types of wraps and carriers for babywearing.

 

 

 

 

 

Campo Family YMCA

By: Regan Burke

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The YMCA, otherwise known as The Young Men’s Christian’s Association, has come a long way since the days of old. Once a gathering of men seeking sanctuary for bible study during troubled times, the YMCA has developed over decades, across miles, and continents. Today the YMCA is so much more than that, although its history is rich, the “Y” offers a vast array of programs tailored to develop youth, seniors, families, and communities in all aspects of life.

Every Y seems to be a little different, from the programming to the facility itself, each tends to focus on and service its community a little differently than the next. Recently Everyday Moms partnered with the Campo Family YMCA to schedule a playdate at the facility’s splash pad. Between the employees leading fun water activities, the slides, and the fact that there were so many lifeguards present to help keep watch, this playdate was perfect for both mommies and children. The kids were so happy, and moms were all able to enjoy some quality adult conversation while the kiddies burned off some energy in a safe environment. While we were there we had the opportunity to learn a little more about what this facility had to offer and it was nothing short of impressive!

Family programming:

This Y, much like many others, aims to offer programs to help develop and strengthen the bonds that hold a family together. The family programs here offer opportunities to families that will not only develop them as individuals but create lasting memories that they can all carry with them.

Sports programming:

Whether you’re an adult just looking to keep up your skills and fitness in a friendly adult league or you are a parent looking to peak your child’s interest in a sport, the YMCA has many sports leagues to offer. While each Y tends to focus on certain sports, the Campo family YMCA offers basketball, volleyball, and swim teams as a way to sharpen skills, make friends, and maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Health programming:

With many other gyms, the intimidation factor starts the moment you walk in the door. Walking into the YMCA made me so incredibly comfortable. We learned of all the free or very affordable options they offer to aid someone in their fitness journey. Programs like Y weight and the diabetes prevention program help educate people in the areas of fitness, strength training, and cardiovascular training, but also in nutrition, which I learned in a key ingredient that so many people miss. The Campo Family Y also offers a wide array of group fitness classes, two appointments with a personal trainer (for free) upon joining the Y, and countless other events that support people in their goal to get healthier and stronger.

Senior programming:

The YMCA also offers both fitness a social programming for senior citizens in the area. They host social events, offer volunteering opportunities, AND fitness programs. Giving back to a population who has done so much for their communities seems like a no-brainer, yet no other “gyms” seem to offer them quite like the Y.

Other various offerings we learned about:

  • Birthday Parties
  • Holiday events (Easter, Christmas, etc.)
  • Free Judo Classes for members
  • Ballet
  • Boot Camp classes for home-schooled kids
  • Small group training classes
  • Youth and teen room
  • Huge kid’s zone, complete with tons of credentialed staff members, slides, arts and crafts, etc.

 

For families large or small, theres just not a better place. There are so many options; programs, sports, classes, and events offered under one roof, that are all for the betterment of both individuals and families.  The Y goes far beyond a few sets of weights and treadmills. It’s obvious to see that their goal is to give to the community in which it resides and that is something that we can get behind!

Going Pass Free for a Year

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My family is going to try something new this year. We are not buying or renewing any theme park, zoo, or aquarium passes. This decision came after a few visits I had with my daughter to Edward Medard Park. Hazel and I were completely relaxed there. We disconnected from the stresses of our day to day. We played, explored, and had discussions about nature and life. We need more days spent disconnected from our TV, video games, and Social Media.

We plan to spend more time in our state parks. We want to explore, ride our bikes, hike, and even kayak or canoe. Florida has much to offer us. The hard part is getting up, getting prepared, and doing it!

I recently joined a few Facebook groups that have been awesome resources for me. They are Tampa Homeschool Hiking Club and Hike It Baby Pasco/Hernando. I am going to homeschool my daughter. Tampa Homeschool hiking club offers weekday events and opportunities to interact with other families. Most of the events do not start until October, when the weather is more tolerable. Tampa Homeschool Hiking Club is a fabulously run and well organized group. Hike it Baby offers some weekend events and is a great opportunity for the entire family to get involved. They are also currently looking for members to lead future hikes.

The following is a list of places that we will attempt to mark off our list this year. Some we have visited in the past, but most of them will be new territory to explore:

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Weeki Wachee Springs

Edward Merdard Park

Hillsborough River State Park

Gator Creek Reserve Park

Werner-Boyce Salt Springs State Park

Mosaic Peace River Park

Hammock Park

Circle B Bar Reserve

Myakka River State Park

Colt Creek State Park

Caladesi Island State Park

Aldermans Ford Park

Weedon Island Preserve

Fort Desoto State Park

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This list is just a small sample of what Florida and the surrounding Tampa Bay areas have to offer. I am excited explore with my family this upcoming year. If you have ever been to any of these locations and have any advice to offer, please share! I hope other Everyday Moms get on board and join me for some of these adventures. Let’s get up, get our families active, and take time to disconnect from social media. Pass free is the way to be (for now lol).

XOXO,

Suzette Foister

Mother, Wife, Owner/Artist at Bring Your Own Canvas

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“Dress” like you are hot (but really not in this heat)!

By: Kelly Roque

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     We all know when the “summer” truly hits our sunshine state, the last thing we successfully accomplish is looking fashionable.  Or how about I say, the last thing we feel like is fashionable (or at least the majority of us).  I at times fear the mirror after the hustle and bustle of running my boys around (boys= son and husband), running to the store, running errands and just always running.  I think I can actually feel my makeup sliding off of my face like candle wax and my clothing stick to me like a garbage bag.  However! This does not stop me from trying, in fact, it can be my day’s challenge.  One thing I’ve tried not to loose is looking presentable in the heat (even if I’m the only one that believes I indeed look presentable and favoring sitting in an air conditioned space like a mannequin…ha)!

There comes that dreaded time where you have to get dressed and it is south of 85 degrees outside of your door, weather it be to your Uber job (we are all Uber drivers to the loved ones in our life, no pun intended of course), your office job, a play date or a cool brunch.  So what is the top pick for these days when living in an inferno, alas…a dress of course! Yes…this is far from rocket science but a staple piece that is much alive and easy to achieve.  When it comes to maximum ventilation, the perfectly fitted dress is my #1 choice.  I myself like to go crazy with colors and patterns but cotton is typically my go to.  Being an advocate and owner of organic and sustainable clothing for women, organic cotton is definitely something to choose when looking for favorite finds.  Especially in the heat, it is soft and truly absorbs any moisture throughout the day.  Of course it is not always available when choosing your favorite dresses, so plain ole cotton works just well.  Please…please and please again, stay away from any poly’s and rayons (100% that is, a mix is fine though) because you will find yourself like that garbage bag I’ve mentioned.  Materials are key when it comes to the heat.

Plaid Dress

     Again- you can’t go wrong with a dress but you can if it is continued to be paired with the basic flip flop.  I know we all love a flip flop but change it up a bit and loose the mindset of “if I can’t wear flip flops…I’m not going!” Throw on a sandal sometimes  (note: a flip flop is not necessarily a sandal).  Now, if you are attending an event weather it be day or evening, a small wedge or heel will give any dress and YOU a few more points, I promise.  Don’t always flip and flop, give your leg muscles a run in something elevated, plus you will feel like you look…which is sexy and quite amazing! Speaking of what not to do,  I see soooooo many beauties walking around in exercise clothing and I think to myself, Yep! I am guilty too but I just cannot continue to choose exercising cloths as my “dress.”  At least not everyday that is.  First of all, I feel that it screams “look at me…I have to take Jimmy, Johnny and all of the kids to soccer.”  It has become the obvious choice of mom identity (no ladies- I am not saying we shouldn’t show our mom identity but at times, actual girly/ whimsical/ women’s clothing can make a difference and accent your personality even better verses the neighborhood women’s uniform of exercise clothes).  Lets admit, we are not all running and working out the way we are wearing these work- out clothes.  My husband actually notices this with women and has commented on those that are definitely not exercising but have chosen to replace Under Armor and Nike with their dresses.  It is warranted for some functions but not everyday and for everything (just saying’…we know who we are, I can be guilty at times myself).

Outside of the “dress,” there is a list for this summer that is sure to steer you in the right direction as either a stay at home mom or an office warrior:

Maxi Dresses– Always in, so buy a couple.

Lightweight Denim– Oh this is my fav (weather it be a dress, bottoms or a top).

Cold or exposed shoulders– Now, it took me awhile to accept this one since I felt like a gypsy when I bought my first top.  Can I say how many compliments I got when I wore it.  A winner!

Tanks– We live in the south so this is a no brainer but have fun with them and choose some patterns and stripes.

Skirts– Choose the skirt with pleats please.  Minimal pleats but get some pleats this summer.  When is the last time you wore a skirt (if recent, kudos to you then)!

Comfy Bottoms– Yes, loose bottoms, preferably with a paper bag waste are totally in right now!  The great thing is they can be worn like sweats and won’t stick to your thighs.  🙂

Fab fabrics this summer include patchwork patterns, gingam and stripes.  Let me tell you, I am a patchwork gingam gal…I challenge you to try these fabrics, you will be sure to be noticed.

So- the next time you are wondering what to wear in this heat for just about anything, find “that dress” and rock it like it’s your exercise clothing!

With lots of summer love ♥-

K. Roque

 

 

image1 I’m Kelly, busy mother of one amazing son and a wife to an awesome husband.  Our family of three loves any and all things family and each one of us contributes dearly to the life we’re enjoying together.  We live in the Fishhawk area and value our time spent surrounded by other great families and friends.  I am a WFHM by trade and a writer and entrepreneur by heart. My pass time is an obsession for fashion, home and interior decorating.