Category Archives: Family

I feel like Popeye.

I don’t love vegetables. At all. I force myself to eat them because I know they’re good for me. Plus I make my kids eat them, so there’s that whole “lead by example” thing. However, I think I may have found a veggie that I can’t live without. Spinach.

I’ve started putting it in everything from salads to pasta to smoothies. Not only are the health benefits truly impressive, but it becomes a chameleon when added to your favorite foods. And my kids like, even if it turns everything green.

Labeled a “Superfood,” spinach provides more nutrients than any other food. Spinach seems to be able to lessen our risk for many of the most common diseases of the twenty-first century. Overwhelming research has demonstrated an inverse relationship between spinach consumption and the following:

Cardiovascular disease including stroke and coronary artery disease
Cancer including colon, lung, skin, oral, stomach, ovarian, prostate and breast cancer
Age related macular degeneration (AMD)
Cataracts

What makes spinach and its sidekicks such powerful health promoters? The list of compounds that have been discovered in spinach is truly impressive. Beyond the iron that Popeye was seeking, spinach contains carotenoids, antioxidants, vitamin K, coenzyme Q10, B vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll, polyphenols, betaine and, interestingly, plant-derived omega-3 fatty acids. This is a shortened list and it’s hard to relay the powerful impact of these nutrients as they work together to promote health.

What can you add spinach to today that will make your body scream for happiness?  Even if you don’t squeeze open a can with your bare hands and gobble it down like Popeye did, you will still feel the health benefits throughout the day.

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525, 600 minutes.

I realize this has been a day of reflection for most of the world. As we look back on 2011 and remember things that were accomplished and memories that were made. Good and bad habits that may have just begun or happily ended. I look back on 2011 as an uneventful year.

Not uneventful in the way most people would think. Uneventful because my family didn’t have a lot of big change. In the 14 years that Duane and I have been married, we usually have some kind of a show-stopping, life-changing thing that happens. New job. New house. New car. Not are all good. We’ve been though job losses. My mom passing away. And losing an unborn baby. Good or bad, we’ve pretty much run the gamut.

This year however, was uneventful because of the lack of change that happened in our marriage. But 2011 held some huge changes for me, personally. I had a lot of “I am Woman, Hear Me Roar” moments. Here they are in no particular order.

1. I went to LA by myself! Twice! This may not be super huge for some people, but for someone with a huge fear of flying and the never-ending thought of my plane plunging to the ground resulting in my demise, this was a really big step for me. Both trips resulted in me feeling a little more confident about who I am and where I want my life to go.

2. I started a blog. Again, not huge for some people, but for a non-writer, non-creative like myself, my blog has been a huge turning point for me. I realized that I am comfortable stepping out of my happy homemaker box and finding a creative outlet that doesn’t seem very mom-ish. Thank you to everyone who reads and subscribes. You make me feel like I have something important to say that isn’t aimed at the stylings of a preschooler.

3. I went back to work. Another huge step in the life of a stay at home mom. I took the plunge to find something more than scrubbing toilets and wiping noses. Granted, I still do both of those and more, but I feel like I have found something for myself that I enjoy, my husband likes to brag about, and my kids take pride in. To me, a huge win.

4. I grew back my green-thumb. My garden was happily restarted, a little late in the season, however, but still flourished to my happiness. I also managed to can and freeze most of my crops. Yes, little Suzy Homemaker still exists and thrives in her suburban home.

So, how do you measure a year in the life? 525, 600 minutes doesn’t seem like much time, but in this last year of my life, I have accomplished much. And much happiness has been had during this season. I hope and pray that this next year will welcome such change as 2011.

A must-see movie before the holiday ends.

I’m pretty skeptical when it comes to movies. I typically go into a movie assuming that I’m not going to like it. Of course, if it happens to star Gerard Butler, Orlando Bloom, or any of the Avengers, I’m usually first in line. This holiday season was no exception. When my husband and 4 kids were all dying to see The Muppets, I tagged along, knowing full well that I wasn’t really going to enjoy it. After all, The Muppets hadn’t put out a good film since Muppet Christmas Carol in 1992, which happens to be one of my all time favorite Christmas movies. Much to my content, The Muppets did not disappoint.

As a child of the 70’s and early 80’s, I grew up with The Muppet Show as regular part of my weekly routine. Pigs in Space, cooking segments from the Swedish Chef, and science experiments from Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker were something I looked forward to every weekend. And The Muppets did an amazing job of helping my relive parts of my 80’s childhood.

A majority of kids born into the year 2000 or later have no idea how amazing The Muppets were in their heyday. So it seemed so aptly appropriate for The Muppets to seem like “losers” as the movie started off. However, us 30-somethings knew far too well that they weren’t, aren’t and wouldn’t be losers for long. The film had me sucked in from the moment it began with its broadway-style like production including Jason Segel dancing and singing down the street to “Life’s a Happy Song.” Amy Adams always looks amazing, but her 1950’s styled costumes were so gorgeous that she just seemed to glow. Complete with numerous cameos including, Neil Patrick Harris, John Krasinski, and Mickey Rooney, this movie went back to its Muppets roots and had me laughing from beginning to end. As with any good movie, I typically find multiple moments of happiness in the form of tears, but the highlight for me was “Rainbow Connection” sung by Kermit. I don’t remember the last time I cried so hard during a film. I even my kids questioning if I was going to be OK or not.

Fortunately, for you, it’s not too late to see this movie in theaters. Just go to fandango to see showtimes and locations. With or without kids, it’s just plain fun, and more important, super quotable. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Start small.

As I have previously stated in other blogs, I’m not the best at keeping with my goals.  I love setting them, but when it comes to crunch time, I’ve usually checked out 3 days prior. So as 2011 nears its end, I have been putting a lot of thought into what my New Years goals might be.

I usually go with the old standard goal of “Get in Shape.”  You know, cut out sugar and carbs, daily trips to the gym, and that sort of crap.  I usually do great with it until, like most Americans, 2 weeks into it and time gets ahead of me and I lose interest.  Next up?

I know, I’ll organize my house!  Clean out everything.  From top to bottom.  Everyday adding new and more chores to my list.  Except, even as I write this, the thought becomes overwhelming with 4 kids, a part-time job, and a house that I, for the most part, maintain by myself.  I guess it’s a good thing I got caught up on laundry this morning because now, I don’t want to touch it for days.

What’s a super busy mother of 4 in her 30’s to do?  Simply, start small.  One new-ish thing a day.  Yesterday, I tackled a project that I have been putting of for about 2 years.  I cleaned and organized my spice and baking cabinet.  It felt so good to accomplish something.  As small as it may be, it’s done.  And it feels great.  Today I will try something else small, like cleaning the baseboards in my bathroom.  Small yes, but it’s something that gets neglected.  Slowly, but surely, tackling things that I’ve been putting off.

And of course the “Get in Shape” goal is still on my list.  But I have a feeling that as I’m doing a cleanse of my home, my body and soul cleanse will come naturally.  It will also follow my mantra of my New Year’s goal – Start small. Maybe even with a trip to buy a new pair of cross-trainers.  Small, but oh, so satisfying!

 

Proscratination is not in my vocabulary.

OK, that’s not entirely true. Maybe I am a bit of a procrastinator.  I still wait until the last-minute to get most things done. But I’m way better than I used to be.  I’ve found that working outside my home gives me more of a desire to get things done around my home when I am home.

The definition of procrastination is putting off or delaying or deferring an action to a later time.

Having 4 kids and a very busy husband, often I would feel so overwhelmed with things that I needed to get done, that I would either wait until it was necessary or not do it at all.  Now that I have a job, I don’t have the luxury of waiting.  If I have the time, I do it.

It’s amazing to me how much “stuff” I can get done when I’m at home now.  My days “off” are more limited.  I have a certain amount of hours in the week and I have to cram as much into those hours as I can.  But the best part is, I don’t feel like I’m cramming anything.  I’m simply making the best use of my time.

Here’s a perfect example:  Today is my one day this week where I don’t have anything scheduled.  So I made the most of it. I actually made breakfast for my kids. Did a load of laundry before they left for school.  Husked and canned 6 stalks (now cans) of corn.  Baked and bagged 2 dozen cookies for school lunches.  Blogged.  And it’s not even noon yet.  I have the whole day ahead of me to clean, work out, prep for dinner, do more laundry, or just veg with a cup of coffee while Gus is napping.  Oops,  that’s the procrastinator in me.

What I’m trying to say is, how much can you get done in a short amount of time?  For procrastinators like me, it’s probably more than you think.  So go ahead, set the timer, and go.  Let’s leave the procrastinating to later tonight when we can relax with a glass of wine knowing we filled our day with good stuff for ourselves and our family!

A Battle for Life.

My baby boy turns 3 years old today.  After having 3 older siblings, you’d think the 4th would be a no-brainer, easy breezy.  But our little August, who we lovingly refer to as Gus, had a difficult time entering this world.  My husband wrote this blog post two days after Gus’ arrival.  It still brings me to tears.  I hope you enjoy it, maybe cry with me, and realize the huge love I have for my little Gussy!

A Battle for Life.

By Duane Montague

It has been a whirlwind weekend. What was supposed to be an easy delivery turned into a night of fear and worry and a battle between life and death. Sounds melodramatic, but it’s not, because life is what we are always fighting for against the Evil One. He hates life and will do anything he can to snuff it out.

Some may call it just a delivery with complications, but I will truly forever remember the birth of my son August as a day when God confirmed for me that my children are a gift of life, precious beyond words, and each to be cherished and protected against the powers of the enemy.

We went in at 1:00 pm on Thursday, September 11, to be induced. The doctor was worried that August was going to be too big. That Robyn would have a difficult time delivering him if he went all the way to term.

We made arrangements for the older kids. Got to the hospital and were placed in a room with a great view of the outside–lush green trees and beautifully, unseasonably blue, Seattle skies. The process began, and within hours, the contractions were strong and things looked good.

But an alarming pattern started as well–with every strong contraction, August’s heart rate dropped. At first, it only dropped a few degrees, from a baseline of 145 to 120. But as the evening wore on, and the contractions got stronger, the more his heart rate fell. 90. 80. It would always go back up after, but the consistency was beginning to worry our doctor and nurse.

They decided to slow down the process. Austen had a drop in heart rate during birth, but it had rectified itself. Perhaps the umbilical cord was in the wrong place, being squeezed too tightly? I went out to the family members who had been waiting and gave them an update. It wasn’t going to happen tonight. Go home, we’ll call you.

We said goodnight. It was around 10 pm.

Our doctor came to the room and would not leave. She stayed as Robyn received her epidural, holding her hand through the process. Now the pain was less–but the contractions, and August’s reactions–were getting worse. We signed a consent for a Cesarean, just in case.

Moving from past to present tense:

At 12:23 am, August’s heart rate drops to 60, fights its way back, and drops again. In an instant, what was routine becomes a battle for the life of my son.

Robyn is moved to a gurney. There is a rush of activity, nurses coming from nowhere, the rushed conversation of “there’s someone else scheduled–no, I’ve called it–we’re going first.” Robyn is being readied to leave the delivery room and head to the OR. I have time for three thoughts, all of them involve prayer.

I call my mother, who is watching Audrey and Austen. I quickly tell her that Robyn is on the way to the OR–please pray. I call my mother-in-law and tell her the same–and to come quickly, Robyn wants her there. I quickly compose a text message and send it to a random selection of friends and family. I ask them again to pray.

By 12:34 we are in the OR, I am putting on scrubs, a mask. I am terrified. Thoughts of loss and death overwhelm me. I am going to lose either my child or my wife. Life will lose tonight.

I enter the room and see my wife on a table. She is being covered, prepped. There are three doctors, several nurses, and the team from the Infant Intensive Care Unit awaits in case they need to revive my boy. I cannot hold back the tears. I weep.

Robyn sees me. “Don’t cry. I need you to be strong.” I tell her I am not crying and I manage to stop the tears–but I am still terrified. I can’t see straight–tubes, scrubs, machines, a sterile clang of instruments. The doctors begin working in hushed tones–I focus on Robyn and try to distract her from what is going on. She is awake, only slightly uncomfortable, and getting very tired.

The noises stop. The doctors do not move.

Robyn and I fear the worst. Then suddenly, a cry. I see my boy. He is screaming, angry, scared. But alive.

He is quickly wiped off and taken to the nurses who examine him and determine that whatever happened in the womb did not hurt him. He is beautiful, loud, and pink. A little dried blood is on his nose, but he stops crying when they hand him to me. I take him to Robyn and we both cry. Life has won.

Turns out that the umbilical cord was wrapped around one shoulder, through his legs, and over the other shoulder–almost like a harness. There was no way he was going to come out the natural way. But he is here, alive, and sleeping loudly in the room next door.

Life wins. The prayers of the faithful are answered, and a little boy whose name means “Revered and Exalted,” helps me do both to the very giver of Life. I revere Him for His power, His glory, and the fact that He reveals Himself to me. I exalt Him for His life, for His nature, and for His providence.

This is August just hours after he was born. Super cute then, but his personality now is amazing!

Sleep well, August. The battle for your life has just begun.