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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Healthy Recipe for Sweet & Salty Roasted Almonds

Easy, tasty (and healthy) gifts
'Tis the season to eat sugar. If you haven't indulged in sweets before now, the temptation might be overwhelming. You might rationalize that fudge or sugar cookie by telling yourself, "It's only for the holidays...I'll get back on track after New Year's." When the New Year rolls around, you might wish you hadn't eaten all that junk. So, why not just find something that will keep you healthy and happy?

After swearing off white sugar over two and half years ago, I have trained myself to look at the prevalence and abundance of sugary treats as opportunities to find creative alternatives. I've always been a fan of agave because it doesn't spike your blood sugar (being very low on the glycemic index). So, if you're hankering for something lightly sweet and crunchy without the headaches and tummy aches that tend to accompany the ingesting of too much processed treats, here's an easy recipe I recently made up.

You'll need:
1 pound of raw almonds
Olive oil
Ground cinnamon
Ground cloves
Sea salt
Wax paper

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Toss almonds with 1-2 Tablespoons of the olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon cinnamon and a dash of cloves over mixture and stir.  Drizzle 1/2 cup agave syrup over mixture and stir until well coated. Sprinkle with about 1-2 tsp (depending on how salty you like things) sea salt and mix well.

Spread the almond mixture onto a wax paper lined cookie sheet. Place in oven for 15 minutes. Stir and return to the oven for another 15 minutes or until fragrant.

Remove from the oven and let cool. Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

How to deal with pre-teen hormones, and braces — at the same time

My sweet and quirky daughter, Lucy just started seventh grade this year. She's been begging for braces and hoping for breasts. If she reads this, she'll kill me.

I can't hasten the breast fairy, but I can do something about her teeth.

Tip 1: Make decisions based on things within your control.

By a happy coincidence, one of my college friends is a practicing orthodontist. Before he was Glen Bills the uber-professional teeth straightener who now has more letters behind his name than I ever will, he was my college buddy and most recently my Facebook friend

We came into his office to discuss Lucy's mouth. He talked about palatalexpanders and shifting teeth around and I got nervous. Lucy got excited. Our next step was to set an appointment for Dr. Bills' staff to take “impressions” of her teeth and to put spacers in. I didn’t think Lucy needed more space in her teeth, since she had a big gap between her front ones. Dr. Bills explained that spacers are little rubber bands squished in between her back molars to make room for the palatal expander.

Lucy said the spacers made her feel like she had a big chunk of food stuck in between her back teeth —uncomfortable and annoying (one of her favorite words). I gave her ibuprofen and hoped she wouldn't yank them out. 

Tip 2: Choose your battles. Sometimes that means trusting that your pre-teen will do the right thing.

A week later, she would get her braces. I was nervous, and so was she. This is the kind of kid who gets irritated if her nails are too short or her sweater is itchy. The thought of having her cope with wiring (especially the palatal expander) in her mouth made us both anxious.

When we arrived and everyone seemed genuinely excited to see Lucy and that put us both at ease. She brushed her teeth for the third time that morning and settled in. Aubrey, one of Dr. Bills’ assistants took the impressions and prepared the brackets on her teeth. Dr. Bills placed and adjusted the brackets, then fine-tuned them to make sure everything was set for optimal straightening.

An hour and a half later, Lucy left with a metal mouth. She seemed happy and even told me how nice Dr. Bills smelled. 

The next three days were pretty rough, though. She was pretty uncomfortable and couldn't bite down on anything. I stocked up on pudding, cup o' soups, and ingredients for smoothies. She alternated between sullen and sobbing to cranky and snappy. What's the difference, you ask? Not much, except neither mood is fixable by a parent. 

Dr. Bills called to check on her. He said her mouth tenderness was typical and would subside gradually. He also told me to alternate ibuprofen and acetaminophen. Lucy, in her typical melodramatic was convinced I had sadistically subjected her to this suffering. 

Tip 3: Have a sense of humor and learn to ride out the false accusations hurled at you.

A day later, her mouth felt fine and she was telling me all about her other friends and their braces, how they had callouses inside their cheeks and that was cool. I can already see how much straighter her teeth are and she knows that's making her even more pretty. So, straight teeth or bust — I guess it’s straight teeth for now.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Relief for the Stomach Bug

Our family has run the gamut of stomach illnesses lately. Looking back now, I think we all may have had stomach flu. Everyone in my family seemed to get a version of a nasty tummy virus. My toddler, Jane, woke from a nap in a bed of vomit. If you've ever had sick toddler, you know the difficulties that presents. They're mobile, they don't know how to puke into the toilet, and they can't communicate what's going on inside their little bodies. I think she puked in every room and on enough clothing and bedding for at least three loads of laundry and countless baths (for both of us).

I was beside myself trying to figure out what I could give her to keep her from throwing up when she started getting really bad diarrhea. You know the kind that diapers are no match for, the kind that can't be contained? More laundry and sanitizing. Then, in spite of my precautions, I got sick. I quickly grabbed some DigestZen essential oil from doTerra, put some drops into water and drank it down, which prevented me from throwing up. It didn't prevent horrible stomach cramps and mind-bending diarrhea, though.

For help, I phoned my sister who is married to a naturopath and has six kids. She has been through every strain of contagious stomach viruses out there and she's in the know when it comes to natural cures that work. I tried her recommendations and, thankfully, they helped us all get over our illnesses quickly.

Here are a few of the remedies she recommended that are safe from toddler-age (18 months+) to adult sickies:

To prevent nausea:

doTerra's DigestZen essential oil blend: this can be rubbed on the soles of feet, on the stomach, and taken internally by diluting in water.

Hard to believe, but this black stuff works.
Hyland's Ipecacuanha (available at health food stores): these are small tablets that dissolve easily in the mouth. I gave my toddler two every four hours.

To prevent or stop diarrhea:
(all products below are available at health food stores):

Activated Charcoal: these come in gel capsules and can be swallowed whole. My sister told me that the charcoal is tasteless and attaches to e coli bacteria (the bad stuff that makes you sick) in the bowel. Getting a toddler to take them proves pretty difficult, but she told me a trick of  blending the charcoal into no bake cookies. I told my toddler they were "baby treats."

They are tasty and my toddler ate them up! Remember, babies under one year of age shouldn't have honey. If your baby is under one, substitute the honey with agave.

Here's the recipe:

1/4 cup natural nut butter (I used Adam's Peanut Butter)
4 Tablespoons honey or agave
1/2 cup crisp rice cereal
2 Tablespoons nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup shredded coconut (I used unsweetened coconut)
3 tablets or capsules of activated charcoal

Combine peanut butter, activated charcoal, nonfat dry milk and honey (or agave). This will make a black mixture (I told my kids it was chocolate). Then, mash in the crisp rice and form 3/4" balls. Roll the cookie balls in shredded coconut. These can be stored in the fridge for a week or more.

Hyland's Arsenicum Album: these are small tablets that dissolve in the mouth. I gave my toddler two, but she preferred the "baby treats."

Gummy vitamins: I didn't try this remedy, but my sister told me that the gelatin in the gummies helps to get rid of diarrhea. She said it worked well for her and her kids don't have any objections to taking them  when and if they decide that the charcoal-laced cookies are too weird.

If these work for you, let me know. If you have any other remedies that work, post them or a link to your blog with the remedies you like best for yourself and your family.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Mmmmm, Bread

I still don't eat white sugar...but, I recently rediscovered a bread recipe given to me by my older sister. I tweaked it a bit to make it a bit more healthy (but, it's still bread and it uses white flour, so it will still pack on the pounds if you eat too much). If you haven't closed your window from that last parenthetical statement, here is the recipe. This works best if you have a Kitchenaid or another mixer with a powerful dough hook.

This recipe makes enough to make all or several of the following:

cinnamon rolls
pizza crust
bread sticks

3.5 cups hot water
1 Tbsp yeast
1/3 cup agave
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp sea salt
2/3 cup canola oil
7 cups unbleached flour
1 cup wheat germ
1/2 flax meal

  1. Dissolve yeast in 2 cups of the hot water. Make sure the water is about bath-water warm, not too hot.
  2. Add remaining ingredients one by one, while mixing (including the 1.5 cups of warm/hot water), until they form  a ball. The dough will still be slightly gooey and may stick to the sides of the bowl.
  3. Remove dough hook, cover with a towel, and let it rise for 40 minutes.
  4. Punch down and let it rise for 20 minutes.
  5. Divide into fourths.
Each fourth is good for cinnamon rolls, pizza dough, a loaf of bread, bread sticks, etc. Freeze dough or store in the fridge.

Bake at 350 degrees.
Bread sticks and cinnamon rolls: 20 minutes
Pizza dough: 17 minutes
Loaves of bread: 1 hour

Fresh, warm-out-of-the-oven, homemade bread. Is there anything better on a cool, rainy fall day? Maybe if you have no where to go, no kids to corral or fetch, and a quiet house, you could even eat your warm bread in peace. This is what I wish for all the busy mommies out there.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wisdom from Steve Jobs

A brilliant and generous man died today. Steve Jobs, the founder of Apple and Pixar, was a hero to many. I didn't idolize him, but I can see why many people did. He was a visionary and a maverick. I haven't used anything but a Mac since 2004...and like millions of Americans, I rush out to see everything Pixar puts out.

Steve died after a long battle with pancreatic cancer...but, he lived like he was dying. Here's part of what he told graduates at Stanford University in 2005:

Death is very likely the single best invention of life; it's life's change agent. It clears out the old to make room for the new. 

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone elses life.

Most important, have the courage to follow your heart and your intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

Rest in peace, Steve. You certainly lived a good life.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Is Busy-ness the New Addiction?

Even professional athletes have to take breaks from their workouts to recover. I wouldn't put myself in the  category of a professional athlete, but I can attest to the need for recovery. For the past four months, I've been trying to recover and it's the toughest thing I've done in a while.

That sounds lame when I read it out loud. But, it's true. I have adrenal fatigue and I'm learning that means I have to slow down and recover from my need to be busy.

I used to say these things on a fairly regular basis:

"I've got a million things to do."
"There just isn't enough time in the day!"
"I don't have time to do that."

Have you heard yourself saying similar things? Does saying those things make us seem more important or more valuable? You know the saying that if you want something done you should give it to a busy person. Is it because busy people can't say "no" or just that they have an addiction to being everything to everyone. I think I fell into that trap. In the past four months, I've been trying to make a shift away from saying those all-to-familiar phrases. The shift has been difficult, but liberating.

Why does our society look down on resting? Do we fear being called lazy? Do we feel we have evolved and now have the capability to do it all? I think our technology is so prevalent, we might feel we have to adapt to it, not the other way around. Maybe some part of us has a really hard time doing nothing. We don't want to be labeled as lazy. One of my friends said she thinks our society places far too much emphasis on the importance of being busy. Like somehow busy people are more important.

Here's what I'm not doing:

  • blogging at a high frequency (or even a regular schedule).
  • checking my email every five minutes (including while sitting at stoplights — c'mon, I think a lot of us do this!)
  • training for a triathlon or running or visiting the gym. 
  • trying to increase my followers on Twitter or on my blog.
  • actively pursuing any major writing a book, or planning a trip to Europe.
  • cleaning my house regularly.
  • going to every event I'm invited to.
  • pushing myself to put a lot of things on my to-do list.
  • scheduling myself or my kids to a lot of activities.
This holiday season is the time that most over achievers go overboard. This year, I'm going to go underboard.  This year I'm committing to slowing down, doing less and under achieving. 

What are you not going to do this season? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Feeling tired...all the time

These days women are expected to do it all and do it all well. Be an awesome mom — no problem. Have a successful career — absolutely. Drive carpool — sure thing. Inspire others at business seminars — of course. Make meals for new neighbors — yep.  Well, if you're a modern woman, you get it. You've probably got it all handled, right?

Not me.

I haven't been myself for a while. While juggling a super-demanding, high-profile job as an editor (with no staff), being a mom of four daughters, keeping a tidy home, and working out as hard as possible to stay in great shape, I hit the bottom. For more than a year I've been tired almost all the time. I was having a hard time concentrating and felt like I could fall asleep nearly anywhere.

I was planning on competing in a few triathlons this season, but I just couldn't recover after my workouts and I kept getting sick (vertigo, inner ear infection, burst eardrum, pneumonia, etc.).  Feeling frustrated, I went to my doctor. He took my blood pressure and measured it as I went from lying down to standing up. It was unusually low as I lay down, but dropped even lower when I stood up. Then, as I stood there, getting my blood pressure taken every two minutes, I started to feel like I was about to pass out. I quickly laid back down and rested. I felt pretty ridiculous, but my doctor told me that my blood pressure was "yo-yoing" and it couldn't get caught up. He said that's why I got dizzy. I took some tests over the next week and was diagnosed with adrenal fatigue.

My body can't keep up with any stress because it has been under so much stress for so long. Adrenal fatigue isn't something you can see, it's more of how you feel. I felt like a zombie much of the time. Now I'm taking supplements for adrenal fatigue and resting more. My doctor has me taking the following:
  • Ashwagandha, an herbal supplement that helps with stress and supports adrenal function
  • PharmaGABA, a natural supplement that produce alpha brain waves (the same ones your brain produces when it's relaxes, yet alert)
  • EPA/DHA oil (high-quality marine oil) 
  • Multi-vitamin for women with lots of B vitamins included

Adrenal fatigue is fixable, but it does take some time and lifestyle changes. Some of the changes I've made: a better job with more autonomy and support, frequent meditation, letting things roll off my back when my kids start blaming me for their problems, and doing something artistic every day. I've committed myself to drawing everyday for a year. Where normal people with healthy adrenal function can receive stress relief from a good, hard workout — my doctor told me that hard workouts actually create more stress for my body. So, I've been doing more yoga and easy walks.

If you're feeling tired and sleep doesn't make you feel any better, you may want to talk to a naturopathic physician. My doctor, Dr. Todd Cameron, could probably recommend someone for you if you don't live close enough to visit him.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Reconnecting Friendship

I met Jen in third grade. My family had just moved to Windham, Maine from Heber City, Utah. In an effort to harness my energy and desire to perform, my parents enrolled me into ballet classes. With nine kids my mom was busy and asked around about carpooling to and from dance classes, which were held in Portland (about 15 minutes away).

Coincidentally, one of my third grade classmates also took classes from the same dance school, so my smarty momma hooked up a carpool with the other dancer's mom. Sitting in a back seat for 15 minutes while her mom drove us to and from dance class gave me and my carpool pal a lot of time to chat and giggle. Soon, Jen and I were inseparable.

Throughout elementary school, junior high, and high school, we did nearly everything together. We even joked that we shared a brain. You know the kind of friend that finishes your sentences, knows exactly what movie reference you're talking about and laughs at all of your dumb jokes? That was Jen.

Then, I moved to Utah for college. We slowly fell out of contact. My parents moved from Maine to the West and the only remaining family tie there was a brother with whom I wasn't super close.

I would dream about Jen every now and then. Mostly I'd wake up feeling empty and sad. I'd put it out of my mind and tell myself, "people move on and so should I." But, I secretly longed for that connection with an old friend who had known and loved me when I was a chubby, self-conscious dancer worried about the rolls of fat that couldn't be hidden in her leotard. Jen was that friend for me. She always lifted me up and made me laugh.

My 20-year high school reunion was two weeks ago. I went to Maine and we reunited. I was just a little nervous that we wouldn't connect...but, I plunged in and just two weeks ago, I got my best friend back. Like old times we laughed, finished each others sentences, and were goofy and wacky together. I felt like a kid. Now we have weekly Skype dates...almost like we're in the back of her mother's car on the way to dance class.

It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

There's something to be said about spending time with someone who has known you for 30 years. I love the friendship we had, but I'm giddy over the friendship we're reconnecting and building.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to Help Your Child Adjust to a New School

My second daughter started at a new school this last year. She was in 6th grade. The only friend she had was a neighbor girl who was in 7th grade. After the initial coolness of being the new girl wore off things got hard. She didn't know anyone in her grade and the school was small. Most of the friendships were already established making it difficult for her to break in to a friend group. Her older friend didn't seem to have much time for my daughter.  She felt lost.

As a result, her report card got progressively worse and she felt more and more inadequate. The further behind she got in her school work the more hopeless she felt. She finally just gave up,  rationalizing that it was too late to turn things around.

Next year I'll know the things I wish I had known this year. Next year, I'll be a better support for her. I know she'll do better too, because she's the kind of girls who can't stand to be bad at something.

Whether your child is starting kindergarten or just changing schools (elementary to junior high or junior high to high school counts), here's my advice for parents with a child starting at a new school:

  • Get to know the teachers and school administrators. When there are problems (and there will be), they'll already know you and the conversations will be more productive.
  • Be patient. The transition will take a good year for everyone to get adjusted.
  • Your child may exhibit uncharacteristic behavior in a new situation and with a different social setting. Expect that you'll need to be more available for them with extra love and a listening ear. Don't always rush in to fix a situation. Let them try. If it seems like it won't turn around, step in carefully and let them know.
  • Create a schedule for your child to include homework time, reading time, and chilling out time. The consistency in their after-school schedule will help balance out the unsteadiness they feel in their school schedule.
  • Make sure they feel your confidence in them. Ask them if there is one thing they are nervous about and listen. Encourage them and tell them how proud of them you and that you'll be there for them if it gets rough.
Change can be difficult, but you and your child can learn to work through it together. If you have a child starting kindergarten, check out this post I wrote for

Good luck!

    Friday, August 12, 2011

    The Painful Truth About Threading

    Threading doesn't look painful, but it is (as my mommy used to say, "stars and garters!"). Here's my video to prove it. I've done everything from bleaching to waxing to plucking. Threading is, hands down, the best way to effectively remove the tiny little hairs on your face (around your mouth, chin, 'stache, etc.). The process takes about 5-10 minutes, depending on your threshold for pain and your need to come up for air before you run screaming from the building. The hair doesn't regrow for at least 5 weeks and it costs about $15.

    Note: The threading woman is named Nikoo, she's from Iran, and she must love watching women go through excruciating pain for beauty, because she's been doing this a loooong time. If you want her number, leave a comment.

    Quick Fix: Reunion Hair

    When you have long hair and you're a mom of four, you tend to put off getting your hair cut. This upcoming reunion was the push I needed to trim, smooth, and fancy myself up.

    Me and Amanda
    I love Aveda salons because you get the nice massage before your hair cut and every thing smells lovely in there.  My stylist, Amanda, was very sweet and kept my hair change fairly low-key. Which is good for a reunion...I'll leave the half-shaved head for another day.

    First-time hair cuts with new artists at Landis are around $20! If you're in Salt Lake and want to pamper yourself, check out Landis. They have two locations: Liberty Heights (900 East and 1300 South, where I went) and Marmalade.  

    The groovy outside wall of Landis in Liberty Heights.

    20-Year High School Reunion: A Journey Back in Time

    Me and my bestie, Jen. Age 13. 

    My journey back in time began with a Facebook invitation. Besides getting in touch with friends from my past, this frequent time waster was again filling up my inbox. The invitation, though, was one I couldn’t pass up — my 20-year high school reunion.  In Maine.

    11 days after I graduated, I hopped a plane to college in Utah. Saying goodbye to family and friends was a bit hard, but I soon threw myself into this new adventure of college and being an adult. Two years later, I found myself in love, getting married and starting another adventure. I visited Maine once, after my first daughter was born, but didn’t really connect with any high school friends while there for the holidays. Aside from occasional online messages, I haven’t seen the 100 people with whom I shared graduation day. (Yes, my high school was that small.)

    After making the decision, I’ve gone through the gamut of feelings. Excitement, trepidation, denial, anxiety, impatience, giddiness…all the emotions of a young girl getting ready for prom. 

    I have to get my hair done! What am I going to wear? Should I try to lose a few pounds in a hurry? Will I still like my friends? Will they still like me?

    I just turned 38. I feel all the angst of a teenager — without the smooth skin and endless energy. This is weird.

    Monday, August 1, 2011

    The Trouble with Blog Headlines

    The Canyons Resort in Park City. Location of the Evo Conference 2011.
    Recently, I attended an informative and uber-cool event in picturesque Park City, Utah.  Evo Conference: The Evolution of Women in Social Media many talented women (and men) in social media were there. Many of them have blogs. Some write more than a few blogs (that just makes me tired). I learned a lot about using social media, working with brands, building a better blog, and how to make vlogs that won't stink. (A "vlog" is short for video blogging. One of the presenters for that session was Jenny on the Spot...vlogger extraordinaire. Check her out here).

    Me and vlogging sparkle star, @jennyonthespot at #evoconf.
    One of the sessions I went to was led by three smartypants editors of BabyCenter (find them on Twitter @BabyCenter). They taught us how to write better and nurture our blogs so they can grow. They were knowledgeable, approachable and adept — filling our heads with lots of useful information on how to get better at our online craft.

    Here is a handy checklist the staff from BabyCenter shared with us for writing better blogposts:

    • Headline: Write a compelling and understandable headline. Keep it short and tight (5 to 7 words). Use trending terms when possible (You can find trending terms here.) Some great clickable headlines the editors of BabyCenter suggested started with these words or phrases: how to..., the worst..., the best..., the trouble with..., easy..., top....
    • Compelling: Engage your readers. To inspire comments, finish your post with a question asking for their perspective.
    • Photo: Upload a great photo (or photos) to illustrate your post. Make sure you include a caption, photo credit, link, and alt text when possible.
    • Links: Check your links to make sure they're working and linking to the correct pages. If there are opportunities to link to fellow blogger or a past link of your own, do it!
    • Tags: Use Google AdWords to develop a list of key words and trending terms when possible.
    • Spell Check: Don't simply trust your computer or blogging platform to check for proper spelling. Double check all proper nouns and word usage. Common misspellings the electronic spell-checker won't catch: its, it's; to, too, two; their, they're, there; your, you're.
    • Punctuation: Do all sentences end with punctuation? Make sure you're not over using exclamation points. My own personal rule of thumb is one exclamation for every 500 words. When you use them sparingly, they have more punch.
    • Read aloud: Right before you post, read your writing out loud to yourself. This will help you catch typos and grammatical errors that might confuse your readers.
    • Promote: Post your content on Facebook and Twitter. Give your story a thumbs-up on StumbleUpon. Pinterest your post. Start a thread about your post in online communities. Email a link to your story to competing blogs so they can include it in a similar story. Don't be shy.

    What a treat! Meeting Elmo at the Evo Conference 2011.
    In other news...and because I want to brag...I met Elmo at the Evo Conference!

    Want more details about the Evo Conference? Check out this very thorough conference wrap-up blog by Laurie, the Tip Junkie and another social media babe.

    Hope to see you at Evo Conference 2012 — registration is open now!

    Sunday, July 31, 2011

    Busy Summer...Getting Ready for High School Class Reunions

    Yeah, it's been more than a month since I blogged. Hey, it's summer! I'd rather be outside working on my tan than working on my blog.  I've been traveling, attending social media conferences (Evo'11, a social media conference for women, in Park City...where I met Elmo!), turning 28 for the 10th time, and, oh yeah, getting ready for my upcoming 20 year Windham High School class reunion in Maine. 

    We're going to party like it's 1991!
    That's me and my bestie, Jen, in the bottom left corner. I think that's from Jr. High.

    So, other than having weird dreams about all the people from high school I haven't seen in 20 years, I've been obsessing about how I'm going to get ready. Figuring out what steps I have to take to look my hottest require a lot of thought and careful planning.

    For the next two weeks before the reunion, I'll be posting my prep for this momentous occasion of noticing how much everyone has aged. 

    Who else has a high school reunion and what kind of things are absolutely important to do before I go? Help!

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    You Scream, I Scream, We All Scream for ....acid reflux?

    After three babies, I thought I was an expert. Quieting them? Easy. Swaddling them? A snap. Burping them? No problem. Nursing them? Cake walk.

    But, acid reflux? What?

    My fourth baby (now 19 months old) came into this world with a proclivity to puking up everything and screaming. All. The. Time. That acid reflux was my arch nemesis. I didn't get any sleep and I'm sure my hearing was damaged from holding a screaming baby on my shoulder. Oh, and the laundry! Getting barfed on repeatedly was a frequent occurrence.

    After two months of pure hell, I finally talked to the pediatrician and my sister (she's had six babies and is married to a naturopathic physician). Here's what I found to finally that worked:

    • Prevacid for babies. My doctor prescribed this and although it wasn't an end-all cure, it did help the baby sleep longer.
    • Mag Phos (which stands for Magnesium Phosphate). This is a homeopathic tablet and dissolves in baby's mouth. I gave her about two tablets every four hours. I picked it up from Whole Foods. You can also use it for common upset tummies and menstrual cramps, so it's good to have a bottle around the house.
    • Baby swing. The sitting up position worked wonders for her and kept my arms from fatiguing. I tried wearing her in a sling, but because newborns don't have the core strength to hold themselves erect, her stomach would get compressed, which would cause the acid to come up and make her scream more. (My sister said she had her babies with reflux sleep in the swing for the first six months of life! Whatever it takes to get them relief and you some sanity. Right?)
    • Waiting for about 15 to 20 minutes after feeding before putting her down on a flat surface. This helped to prevent both the puking and the screaming.
      If you have a baby with acid reflux, remember they will grow out of it and there are loads of moms who have dealt with (or are currently dealing with) it.

      Be strong.

      Friday, June 17, 2011

      Venting About Kids

      Being a mother is a lot of work and you can never truly take a day off. Even Mother's Day isn't really a day off. Your kids are still bound to need diaper changes, baths, reminders to be nice to their sister, hugs, reminders to empty the dishwasher, etc. So, how do you go day in and day out for 18+ years without so much as a mother-of-the-month plaque or paid time off? How do we let out all that pent up steam from this tough job?

      A lot of moms vent. Guilty.

      If I have a child who is driving me nuts and I don't know what to do, I whine to a friend, neighbor, stranger in the grocery store — anyone who will validate my frustrations or my choice of parental punishment. I'm not sure that those venting sessions truly solve the problems. It might make me feel a bit justified for the moment, but that feeling is only temporary, though. I still have to live with the kid who pooped through outfit number three in one day/lost my favorite shirt, brought home an F on her report card, shut her sister's hand in the door for the second time in 30 minutes, won't stop screaming and let me sleep, etc.

      Here are a few reasons I have to remind myself about for not venting to others in the heat of emotion about my kids:
      1. Those people to whom you vent might form a negative impression about your child based on your ranting, which could create problems for that child later on. The analogy I think of is one I got from Dr. Laura — never complain about your husband to your mother. You may forgive and forget, but your mother (bless her heart) may judge your husband by that one conversation for years.  The same holds true for people your child knows (or will know eventually).
      2. Your child may hear you. This has happened to me a few times. My child hears me saying something about them to a friend or family member and they are hurt. I don't know how to repair that kind of trust breakdown other than ask them to forgive me and try not to do it again. 
      3. You're teaching poor coping skills to your child. If you don't deal with problems directly, how will your child? If you discuss a frustration about someone with everyone else but that person, you can often make the situation much worse. Dealing directly with the problem is tough, but something all children (and grownups) should learn to do. I want my kids to learn this skill for their school-aged problems before they get into more real-world problems.
      4. It's not nice. This is probably the most important one. Kids are real people, too. Even if the baby can't understand you, it's best not to complain about their behavior incessantly. Asking for help for something is totally acceptable and necessary even, to get feedback on how to improve. But, we need to treat our little ones (and even our big ones -- teens are sometimes the hardest) with kindness and respect we expect them to show us and others. 
      Gosh. I better start practicing what I'm preaching here. Maybe I'm blogging about this so all of you will hold me accountable. This parenting thing is a daunting occupation. 

        Monday, June 13, 2011

        I Hate You!

        "I hate everything about you!" My 12.5-year-old daughter yells at me at least once a week. At first, I was crushed. Now I inwardly laugh and pray this emotional craziness ends soon. If you have a girl and you thought you were done with tantrums after the terrible twos, you may be in for a rude awakening. I certainly was.

        I have four daughters and this is number two. I know I'll go through some form of this kind of separation/hatred with two more and I have started to build a thick skin.

        My friend Julie Hanks told me at lunch one day that girls have a much harder time with their mothers than boys do. She said something like they are conflicted. At the same time they look up to their mother and don't want to be anything like her at times. I remember those feelings, but it's been a while. I see my own daughters trying to become their own women and identifying with the woman their mother is, too. I guess that includes telling me off once in a while.

        I've learned it's best to just let them vent and struggle while keeping a consistent, calm and solid presence. Let them mock and fight, sass and pout — I won't get emotionally drawn in. When I feel my blood starting to to boil, I try to physically or mentally walk away. "Disassociate," says my husband, when the teen or tween start to rant at me. That's the best way to diffuse their fuse.

        Tuesday, June 7, 2011

        The Stress Test

        This is a post I wrote a little over a year ago while training for triathlon season. It originally appeared on my blog at

        The day after my last blog post I had a bike accident. The dumbest thing happened. I put my foot in the cage (it’s literally a cage for your foot) and pushed my body weight onto the pedal. The pedal didn’t budge, I lost my balance and toppled over landing on my right elbow.

        I passed out. For the next two and a half hours, I passed out about seven more times. Waiting for my husband to come check on my condition — I passed out. My neighbor and training partner loaded me in her car.  I passed out. Checking into the ER — out. Blood drawn in the ER — out. X-rays on my injured elbow — out. And on and on.

        The doctor was so worried about my passing out, the elbow was almost a secondary concern. My heart rate was low and my blood pressure nearly imperceptible.

        The next day, I had to take a stress test. The doctor mentioned “sudden death.” With that sort of thing to "rule out," I agreed to go have the test done, even though I knew my heart was fine. Have you taken a stress test? You’re basically disrobed from the waist up, lying on a table with a removable leaf at breast level while your heart is monitored both with sticky tape all over your body and a probing ultrasound wand that looks like a scanner at Wal-Mart.

        [To those of you who have had more than three children and have breastfed each one until your breasts resemble something like a tube sock with a tennis ball at the end — you know the fear of forgetting a bra. Imagine you’re topless in a loose fitting hospital gown with the opening in the front. Did I mention the table with the removable leaf at breast level? Try to keep your heart rate normal under that kind of stress!]

        I lay there on my side while the technician (who also happened to be a rather handsome lad around 23) chatted me up and ran the ultrasound all around my left breast – as it pointed to the floor below me. I wished I could will myself to pass out at that moment. Nope…didn’t work.

        I was then asked to get on the treadmill and walk. When my heart rate wasn’t high enough to register on their thing-a-ma-bob, the other technician — a smug older woman who must have derived some sort of demented pleasure seeing me clutching my sagging breasts to me as if they were the last two loaves of bread during a famine — cranked up the speed and the incline until I was jogging , bra-less, and panting.

        My heart is just fine. My arm still hurts (looks like a hairline fracture). My ego will never recover.

        Note: After a second set of x-rays, it was determined that my arm wasn't broken and, most importantly, my status as the world's biggest wuss was established.

        Saturday, June 4, 2011

        Marketing Commandments

        If you're in business for yourself, you've probably got a collection of books on how to be a marketing expert. Grabbing the attention of the media, whether traditional (newspaper, television, radio, etc.) or new media (blogs, forums, Facebook, etc.) is something most business owners dream of someday getting.

        Here are a few things I've learned over the past decade of pitching the media and being pitched to as a member of the media. Even if you just have a side hobby that you want to turn into cash, these tips are a great starting point. Who knows, maybe someday you'll be written up in the pages of Fast Company or Forbes.

        1. Know thyself. Realize why you're in business and what makes you different from your competitors. If you're not in it to win it, reevaluate things and innovate.

        2. Know thy stuff. Are you an expert in your field? Learn all you can to become one and then create press/media kit materials around what you know and what value your business represents. 

        3. Know thy audience. Find out everything you can about your ideal clients and customers. Educate yourself on who they are and where they go for information to solve their daily problems.

        4. Innovate. It has been said that the only human institution that rejects progress is a cemetary. You're alive, so accept and seek positive change. Change for the right reasons and in a positive direction will make it easier for you to be noticed. This video from Fast Company's Work Smart series will get you started.

        Friday, May 27, 2011

        Reason to Stop

        When I see something beautiful and orange, I have to stop what I'm doing and enjoy. I leave with a smile on my face and a rosier view of the world, too. Today on my bike ride, I saw these.

        Monday, May 23, 2011

        Getting Back Into Running Shape

        Battling a head and chest cold for the last two weeks hasn't helped my training. In fact, it felt like I had fallen off the wagon until recently. This morning I did a 30 minute run. I made the daunting realization I have a ways to go before I'm in tri shape.

        My coach said that I'd be surprised by how much I'll improve if I work on my weakest event the most. I'm shooting for better times on my run portion of my triathlons, so I've been working mostly on my running through the winter.  I'm excited (and working towards) for a four to seven minute overall improvement.  That would be a nice surprise (and get me on the podium, too).

        If you've been out of the loop in your running for more than a month, start slow. Here's how I've done it the first week:
        1. Day 1: Run for 10-15 minutes, keeping good form (leaning from the hips, keeping arms consistently bent at a 90 degree angle, or less, by your sides, pushing both your elbows and heels back). Speed walk one minute and run one minute after the initial push for another 15 minutes. Cool down by speed walking and gradually slowing down. Stretch.
        2. Day 2: This should be at least a day or two after your first run/walk. Run for 15-20 minutes with good form. Speed walk one minute and run one minute after the initial push for another 10 minutes. Cool down by speed walking and gradually slowing down. Stretch.
        3. Day 3: This should be at least a day or two after your second run/walk.  Run for 15-20 minutes with good form. Speed walk one minute and run one minute after the initial push for another 10 minutes. Cool down by speed walking and gradually slowing down. Stretch.
        I try this on a course where I know the distance. A outdoor track would be good, or use MapMyRun, so you know your distance. If you have a fancy GPS/watch combo (I'd love the Forerunner 310XT from Garmin because it can be used in the water and on your bike), you can track your distance and pace for work on later. I find it very beneficial to write down how fast you're able to run your route, so you can work on improving that time.

        In between days, I do a yoga. It's the perfect complement to running because it stretches all those muscles you use during running. It also helps you with concentration through discomfort...which is a big part of why running is tough. You'll see fewer injuries if you can work in yoga into the mix of your training. 

        Extra Running Tips:
        • I like running without anything plugged into my ears. The sound of my feet hitting the ground, my breathing and nature or my neighborhood helps me get into a meditative zone that makes running more bearable.
        • While running, I talk to myself — in my head. If a muscle gets cranky, or my knee/shin/hip starts to complain a little, I'll tell that knee/shin/hip that it's doing a great job and working hard and how much I appreciate it. I got that idea from an old running partner who was a Scientologist. It always works for me.

        Saturday, May 21, 2011

        No Boring Days

         Remember what it felt like to be bored?  Boredom like you felt as a kid vanished as your life gradually got busier and busier. We now have so many things to do; we can’t possibly be bored. Time was a luxury of the past. As a child, when I complained about being bored, my parents would always tell me to do “something constructive.”

        Women change the world around them with their positive, constructive actions. Their work helps others. My mother brings her friend with Alzheimer’s to the store and drives her to appointments so she won’t get lost or forget how to get home.  A neighbor’s blog about her kids inspires me to keep better records of my own children’s growth. A friend pitches in to help a family in need who can't afford to buy school clothes for their kids.

        When there’s a job to be done, women do it. The 17th century poet, Christina Rosetti said, “Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished? Yes; work never begun.” Whatever your purpose, whatever is worth fighting for in your life — join with the women all around you and get to work. Work that makes a difference will never be boring.

        Thursday, May 19, 2011

        The Job I Love

        I recently made a job change and it was pretty big. I'm sure there are those who thought I was crazy to leave a job that might have appeared to be the stopping place in a career. But, looks are often deceiving.

        I'm now the marketing director for Steal Network. "Founded by Jana Francis and Rett Clevenger, Steal Network is an interactive marketing company that delivers top quality brands and products one-day-at-a-time to their communities of women through the websites, and, and many more to come." This exciting company is a little over three years old and growing rapidly. I love being part of the team.

        Here's the short list for why I love Steal Network:
        • Everyone plays to win. Employees have their eye on making the company better and more profitable. Imagine that? How refreshing.
        • No micro-managing. This is incredibly liberating. Everyone is in charge of where and what they spend my time on. Results are expected and everyone delivers.
        • Family values. I don't feel looked down upon when I mention I have to leave to pick up children or attend a softball game.
        • Opposite of corporate, but completely professional. 
        • They love babies and kids. I have been in more meetings with where co-workers have their baby or small child with them (or I can hear their baby or small child over the speakerphone) than I have been in without them — and no one rolls their eyes or acts like it is out of the ordinary or unacceptable. That is a totally new world for me.
        • Listening. They are open to their employees input and suggestions. They don't just say they listen, they actually do! In the past few weeks the owners themselves have conducted the yearly reviews, sometimes spending upwards of an hour with each employee.
        • Approachability. My bosses are extremely intelligent, but never intimidating — plus they're innovative and hardworking.They're authentic and fun to be with, which makes our meetings such a pleasure to attend.
        • Their motto is: We Send Joy — and they mean it. The women they serve are overwhelmingly delighted with the service, product, and experience. Amazing.
        If you haven't checked out the steals they offer daily, head over and sign up for their email. You'll thank me later for all the money saving I'm helping you with here. - This is the place to get all the latest and greatest baby gear for tots under 2. If you frequently go to baby showers, but don't have any kids under 2, this place will help you get the perfect shower gift every time. - This site showcases everything your preschoolers and school-aged children need. Every day is different with kids. This site keeps you ahead of the curve. - I'm not a scrapbooker, but I enjoy this site for the creative mama moments I often have with (or without) my kids. Need something to make those invitations stand out? This is the place. Looking for an idea for a summer craft? This place has it all. -  If you're a bargain hunter and you're looking for a specific baby or child product, check this site first. You'll be able to see thousands of mom reviews on products, where to get the best price (with links to those sites), and when the product typically goes on sale. You'll also find a community of moms eager and willing to answer your questions about anything and everything relating to raising babies.

        Disclaimer: The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent Steal Network’s positions, strategies or opinions.

          Tuesday, May 17, 2011

          May Cause Extended Discomfort

          I love my bike. My sister Amy gave her to me almost two years ago. I named her Louise. She's yellow and black like a hornet and flies like one, too.

          Since we've been together,  Louise and I have been through a 54-miler (Little Red Riding Hood ride — in 2009, when I was 4 months preggo with Jane), two sprint tri's last year (I did XTERRA, my third tri of the season, on my brother-in-law's mountain bike. I think Louise was jealous.), and a 42-miler two weekends ago (Goldilocks  ride). I'm pretty sure we've done more than 200 hundred miles over the past two years. But, I can't imagine doing a century with her all in one, er, sitting. At that point, I don't think Louise and I would be on speaking terms.
          Before the Goldilocks ride began. We're smiling because our butts are not yet sore. (from left to right): Emily Hill, me, Camille Langston, Sari Olschewski

          I was reminded of how much my lady parts don't like being glued to Louise's teeny little bike seat for more than 40 miles at once after I recovered from the Goldilocks ride. I know of women who can last for longer than that, though, and I'm in awe of them. How do they do 80-mile and 100-mile rides? Do they wear three to four pairs of bike shorts? I haven't notice excessive padding on these women. In fact, most of them are stick thin, which means they have bony butts. Ouch.

          I would sob if I had to do more than 28 miles without a much needed, drawn out crotch break (which is what I've decided to call the rest stops on these long rides). So, what gives? If you've done more than a 50 mile ride at once, let me know the secret. If it involves getting a different bike, I won't tell Louise.

          Saturday, April 16, 2011

          30 Strangers

          Yesterday I took my spunky six-year-old to get photographed by a guy I've never met. Justin Hackworth is a photographer of some acclaim, I've come to find out...and he was kind enough to select me for his 30 Strangers project. Just like the project name, Justin takes photos of 30 people he's never met before. They are all mothers and daughters. Rather than pay for a sitting fee, they are asked to donate to a specific cause: The Center for Woman and Children in Crisis.

          Miss A is my third daughter. I'm a third daughter. I thought it would be a nice way to spend an afternoon with her. She kept telling me she hoped it wasn't boring. I didn't think it would be, but I especially hoped that Justin was as genuine as his cause. I was not disappointed. When we arrived, we saw this.

          Which made Miss A do this:

          Here is what Justin did for us. This guy has talent. He's genuine to the core and definitely not boring. In fact, I think I'm going to have to stay in touch.

          Wednesday, March 30, 2011

          Public Service for Blind People

          My six-year-old made an astute observation tonight as she was experimenting with the goofy glasses I got on a whim at a consignment store.  She said as her eyes squeezed shut, "I know why blind people can't see."

          When asked why, she firmly stated, "They just need to open their eyes."

          Friday, March 11, 2011


          Today I fell of the wagon...the workout wagon. I've been fighting a cold all week, but stubbornly getting up early and working out as hard as possible. Those germs got the better of me today and left me exhausted, listless, and with a voice like Kathleen Turner.

          I'm sick. I can't work out. That makes me into a really cranky person. Just ask my family.

          So, do I just succumb to the illness and sink into a stupor of malaise or do I fight it and make myself more sick.

          I feel a stupor coming on.

          Tuesday, March 8, 2011

          Blogging: Today's Version of the Mixed Tape

          For those of you asking, "What's a mixed tape?" I'll enlighten you. Back before there were iPods, there were these shiny plastic things called CD's that held music on them...and before that, everyone used plastic rectangles with black tape running from one spool to the next inside of them. Those things were called cassette tapes and, when they weren't melting on someone's dashboard, they were put inside something kind of like an iHome to play whatever you had previously recorded on them (sort of like a playlist on your iPod). Weird, right?

          Recently I was cleaning out my basement and found a duffle bag full of mixed tapes I didn't have the heart to throw out. There were a few from high school friends and one or two from my sister, but most were from past boyfriends. They had titles like, Remember When, Missing You, Our Summer Songs, and Songs for a Girl Named Pam, and other cheesy lines like that. 
          While reminiscing about that bygone trend of throwing a bunch of similar, mostly unrelated, songs onto a tape, I realized something. Blogging is a lot like making a mixed tape. We put our ramblings onto this thing called the internet in hopes that someone, somewhere will read them. Since I have a whopping 40+ "followers" of my blog, I'm sure this post will be read by maybe two people. Then, it will be archived in the internet duffle bag where all mediocre blog posts go. Much like a mixed tape. 

          When we look back twenty years from now, we'll probably ask each other, "remember blogging?"

          Here's one of the songs from my 80s mixed tape collection. I like the high-tech graphics in this video and the dog wearing sunglasses. I'm not sure what this girl is building either...a bomb? a double coffee pot? Feel free to pass it along or add it to your play list.

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