25 July 2015

#BreakYouMake with Chobani

“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.”
Amit Ray, Om Chanting and Meditation

I certainly can't deny that most people in America need a break. As mothers and fathers, we need a break. As grandparents and friends, we need a break. As hard workers and creative souls, we need a break. And, yes, even our kids need a break.

I am joining in with Chobani's #breakyoumake campaign to celebrate the fact that everyone needs a break every now and then. While I would love to say I'm the one who needs a break, it's actually my ten year old son who could use some time away from the chaotic challenges of the daily life.

Thank you Chobani for sending the message that America needs a break. Chobani yogurt has been staple in our diet and we firmly support companies whose mission is to provide a healthy, sustainable product. Chonai yogurt is crafted with natural ingredients that are not genetically modified (non-GMO). That means the fruit you taste is real fruit; the honey is real honey and there are no preservatives. Something we not only believe in, but is also a requirement for our way of eating.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're probably wondering why on earth such a young boy needs a break. But as someone who has been by his side for the last ten months, I'll be the first to tell you he deserves a break. As some of you may know, my son was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease last fall. You can read the details about it in this post, but I'll admit I've been horrible about sharing any updates. The truth is, I just haven't had time to sit down over these past months and write it down.

He missed over fifty-two days of school because he was so sick. So sick with stomach pains and cramping that at times he couldn't even walk. But he was determined to stay on track with school. Every day I picked up his work and we held our daily lessons on the couch. When he was feeling up to it, I would take him into school after it let out to make up tests and record grades. We stayed up late working on projects and I turned to my own creative side to add some excitement into our lessons. I am not a teacher and I am certainly not cut out to homeschool, but I had to make this experience positive for my son.

He needed hope and to know he wasn't left behind.
He ended the school year with straight A's and is proudly entering fourth grade in the fall.

His stomach pains became so intense at times that we ended up in the ER on multiple occasions. We were told to put him on heavy duty medications, even though several test results continued to come back normal. We didn't get answers and at times it felt like no one was on our side or even willing to listen. So we did all we could do; we pushed for answers and became our son's advocate. We became his voice.

On a weekly basis this poor little boy was poked and prodded. He went from an extreme fear of needles to watching the nurses draw his blood while still engaged in a conversation. When I say extreme, I mean extreme. The first few times he had blood drawn we literally had to pin him down. It absolutely broke my heart. Now it breaks my heart that the nurses can tell he's a pro at drawing blood because he's had it done so often.

Yet with every blood test, stool test, MRI, CT scan and x-ray the results are fairly consistent and don't completely line up with Crohn's Disease. And that's where we are right now on our journey. We finally found a GI that agrees with us; something doesn't line up. There isn't enough evidence to officially diagnose what's going on as Crohn's.

So where do we stand now? Well, most days are good. Actually, most days are awesome! Not all days, but most days. We've turned to diet as a form of healing. We started out on a Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and eventually phased into a Paleo diet. We now follow a combination of these two diets and have added additional foods in that we know he can tolerate. We also rely on certain anti-inflammatory foods for healing. Turmeric, leafy greens, salmon, fermented foods, coconut, yogurt, gelatin and bone broth are just a few of our essentials.

After a long journey and a hard fight, my son deserves a break. He deserves a break from painful tummy aches. He deserves a break from hospitals and doctor visits. He deserves a break from fasting and testing.

He deserves to be an active ten year old boy who isn't restricted by a chronic disease. I like to think we are slowly on the path to recovery and balance, but we have to take it one day at a time because every day is different.

This is not a sponsored or paid post and all opinions are my own.

16 July 2015

Strawberry Fields And Lasting Memories

We create traditions and memories with each summer and no summer would be complete without a trip to the strawberry fields. With our baskets swaying from our arms we ran into the endless lanes of plush leaves. We could feel their rigid outlines tickle our toes as we walked along. All around us lingered the sweet scent of strawberries. We felt alone and free; the only souls who roamed through these wild meadows.

I love strolling down memory lane and revisiting old posts; it reiterates why I have this space, why I document our days and why I write and photograph. Here are some previous memories of strawberry picking: one, two, and three

14 July 2015

Summer Bucket List

We may be well into July, but our summer bucket list continues to grow daily. The kids and I have shared many laughs, giggles and inside jokes while creating this list and we're more than eager to cross off actives as the days pass by.

1. Have a picnic in the park
2. Cloud gaze under the warm summer sun
3. Skip rocks in a lake or the sea
4. Run bare foot on the beach
5. Kayak
6. Catch fireflies on a dark night
7. Go strawberry picking
8. Roast s'mores
9. Tell stories around a campfire
10. Go to Legoland (clearly this is not my suggestion and this is not happening)
11. Hide the iPads for a week (totally my suggestion)
12. Take the kids to a concert
13. Swim at night
14. Play a neighborhood game of soccer
15. Go fishing with the grandpas
16. Take a hike
17. Find a waterfall
18. Paddle-board more often
19. Watch a sunrise
20. Dance in the rain

What's on your bucket list for the summer? We're always looking for suggestions and inspiration.

09 July 2015

Pool Parties And Summer Vibes

Summer may be in full effect but the temperamental weather is slow to come around to our expectations. For an Ohio summer, we've seen far too much rain and far too many cool days, but when the sun does come out we take full advantage.

We've managed to sneak in our pool parties and keep the summer vibes flowing. When the sun comes out, the music floats across our yard and we start to dance the day away. Lathered in sunscreen and swimsuits we parade around the neighborhood with our friends, biking or running from house to house to catch the next activity. Sometimes it's our backyard with two large goals strategically placed for a boys versus girls soccer tournament and sometimes we meet at the top of the hill to head to a friend's pool. And sometimes, we just play wherever we land.

"In summer, the song sings itself."
William Carlos Williams

We've created our own songs and we sing them as we move from morning to night. One thing is for sure, we don't need hot sunny days to get us through these months. We need friends and family and good memories to create the true meaning of summer.

*This post is in partnership with Stuck On You.
With our various summer activities like pool parties, swim team meets and soccer camps, having unique personalized beach towels has come in handy! These quality cotton towels are the ideal size for both kids and adults and would make a perfect gift for a friend or family member. We've replaced our backpacks that traditionally hang in our mudroom with these beach towels so they are always handy when we're running out the door.

Stuck On You creates original labels and personalized gifts that will help keep your children's sports equipment, school supplies, clothing and more organized and labeled. With their wide selection of personalized gifts you can easily shop for birthdays, holidays and more. Stuck On You is 100% family owned and all of their labels are created and personalized in house; an attribute I admire and respect.

You can see more of Stuck On You on their website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

07 July 2015

Slowing Down For Summer

I am embracing the art of slow living and am doing my best to enjoy every moment of this summer. If you follow along here I'm sure you've noticed my lack of posts. Life has been good and I'm holding onto that goodness with both hands, clenching tightly and firmly. Jonas has been healthy and, well, amazing actually. He ended the spring session of soccer with some of the best playing I've ever seen out of him. He earned straight A's all year even though he missed fifty-two days of school due to his intestinal issues. I know that I'm overdue for an update on his Crohn's and overall gut, but I haven't' had the time to sit down and write through those details yet. And let me tell you, I could write a book!

We have been through so much this year, and it's very important we don't ever forget about that journey. It has changed who we are and how we live. It's also changed our thought process and has made us realize we are our children's advocate when it comes to the healthcare system. We have to be their voice.

We had many battles but I am completely satisfied where we ended up, minus the fact there are so many uncertainties about Jonas' health and his gut.

But right now, life is good and we're slowing down for summer.

We just returned from an amazing, much needed vacation and I'm looking forward to sharing some of the pictures and stories here. These are just a couple from the ferry ride and I have close to 700 others to sort through; a true sign of a good trip!