What’s wrong with our politics!

The current political and social turmoil has been weighing on my mind recently. “Oh no, Shelby, don’t do it. Don’t start talking about politics.”

RELAX! This is not going to be another political post bashing one party or group of people. In fact, I think it is time we pause all the noise and take time to listen. In our culture, I’ve noticed that politicians love to demonize certain groups of people. The two party system has gained success I think in part from the “us versus them” mindset. The formula goes something like this: First, you choose a people group who are different from the majority of your base and then you highlight how that group is not contributing. You point out the differences and create a mindset of fear. Then you talk about how life would be better if that people group would just change what they are doing. Politically, I think that this is a brilliant strategy because everyone loves having a villain to fight against.

Republicans seem to do this with immigrants and the poor, and Democrats do this with rich businessmen and women. The Republicans say, “Oh these immigrants are taking our jobs; if they would leave then your lives would be better. The Democrats say, “Oh if the rich people would just pay more in taxes, then our lives would be better.”

Then the jealousy starts. You start thinking “Yeah, that rich person has way too much money. I want some of their money.” Or  “Those poor people are abusing our welfare system. If they would just work harder, maybe I wouldn’t have to.”

At no point do we stop and look at ourselves. This is the perfect trap for humans. I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy taking responsibility for my actions. I like feeling validated in my opinion. I also don’t enjoy hearing about the suffering in the world. Our world is a broken place where people often experience violence, sickness, and pain.  When I stop and pay attention to the experiences of others, it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me recognize how blessed I am. It also makes me want to do something to help.

I’m currently reading a book by a Jewish Rabbi, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, who argues that poverty is the sign of a broken society. (Not implying that people who are poor are somehow at fault for their situation.) But that poverty is a sign that something isn’t functioning correctly in how society is operating.

Can we stop the noise and the name-calling? Can we actually listen to each other and try to understand what other people are going through? Perhaps with a little empathy and compassion, we can stop fear in its tracks and create change that helps everyone!

Busy Mom Essentials

I love being a mom. I’m so thankful I get to take care of my children. However, there are days where I do wish I could go to the bathroom without someone knocking on the door. Or I could make dinner without a baby chasing me around the house screaming. Regardless I have found that sneaking in some self-care has been a game changer for maintaining my sanity. I generally feel more upbeat and have a better outlook on the day if I can make myself look presentable. Today I’ve chosen my top three products that I use daily or when I have a limited amount of time and don’t want to look like I haven’t showered in three days (even though sometimes that is the case!).

  1. Primally Pure Dry Shampoo: Dry shampoo is a wonderful go-to when you don’t have time to shower. However, conventional dry shampoo often has talc powder (which has been linked to cancer) and other harmful ingredients. Primally pure has created a wonderful product that smells good, works well, and lasts a long time! My 1 ounce container has lasted me over 6 months! Sign up for my newsletter to get a 10% off code! http://eepurl.com/drt-DT
  2. Countermatch Eye Rescue Cream: I don’t know about you, but my baby is 9 months old and still not sleeping through the night. Sleep is not always a guarantee for me, and I use the eye cream daily to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and puffiness under my eyes. This product uses Phytic acid which helps bring oxygen to the skin and makes me look more awake. Conventional eye creams often have preservatives that contain formaldehyde; I don’t want that on my skin much less absorbing into my eyes.
  3. No. 3 Balancing Facial Oil: This product has been a game changer for my skin. I often don’t have time to put on make up so I use this oil to make my skin soft and dewy. This No. 3 oil has chamomile in it that helps reduce redness and inflammation. Serums can effectively deliver key nutrients to the skin while also nourishing and hydrating the skin.

How do you incorporate self-care into your routine?

***This post contains affiliate links.

Three tricks to lose weight that have nothing to do with food…

Hello My Friends!

I should start this post by discussing that I believe the scale is the worst possible way to measure overall health. The scale can’t accurately measure your external physiology or what is going on internally with your body. I also think a lot of America’s obesity epidemic has to do with unregulated blood sugar and inflammation. However, that is another post for another day! Today I’m going to discuss three key problems that could be keeping you from reaching your weight loss goals.

  1. Stress– When your body is dealing with chronic stress, it is very difficult to lose weight. Stress immediately puts your body into a defensive mode, which is important because survival is obviously more important than being skinny. Short-term stress is healthy and normal. Stress can occur in response to positive changes like getting married or starting a new job or having a baby. However, it is important to check in and see how you are managing the stress. Pause for a minute and reflect on what you do when you are feeling stressed…

Now if those behaviors aren’t serving you, stop and reflect to see what other things could help you let go of some of that stress.

  1. Sleep– Sleep is critical for so many function in the body. I don’t know about you, but I struggle with making sleep a priority. I just have so many other things I want to get done during the day. However, if you are not getting at least 7.5 hours of sleep every night you are putting your body into a stressed state. What do you immediately crave after a poor night of sleep? Sugar? Caffeine? Exactly! Your body needs extra sugar because you are functioning in a stressed state. Do yourself a favor and start making sleep a priority!
  2. Movement– It is so easy to let exercise fall by the wayside. A lot of people think of exercise as boring or stressful. I believe it should be neither. I promise that if you hate something you are going to have a difficult time forcing yourself to do it. So find a way to incorporate movement into your day doing something that you love. My kids always want me to take them to the park or go on a walk. I have also found that group classes are fun and encouraging. If you find a form of movement that you enjoy, then you will stick to it! Exercise is like medicine. It helps your body heal and become more efficient with the tools it has!

What do you find helps you lose weight? How do you measure your health apart from the scale?

 

~Shelby

Super charge your brain with this delicious coffee!

So I don’t know about you, but I am definitely not a morning person! Every morning I literally do a happy dance making my morning coffee. I have tried a lot of different recipes but the problem with a lot of the coffee drinks that are popular is the SUGAR in them. I drink it and then feel tired almost immediately because my blood sugar tanks. Even if you drink coffee black, you will start craving carbohydrates later because caffeine is associated with increased hunger.

A while ago I heard of bulletproof coffee and was immediately intrigued. I started experimenting with adding fat to my coffee, and initially I was a little turned off by the taste. But overtime I crafted a simple recipe that tastes delicious and is also the perfect blend of fat and protein for my busy lifestyle. So many people are afraid of incorporating fat into their diet. The problem is we NEED fat in our diet to function. Our cells are literally composed of fat. Now when I say fat, I’m not talking about fatty donuts and fried food. I’m talking about coconut oil, grass-fed butter, and other healthy saturated forms of fat. This fat also helps satiate hunger and regulates your blood sugar. Here is my recipe:

Coffee (Preferably organic! I’m a snob and love French press coffee!)

~ 8-12 ounces of Chameleon coffee (Click for link)

~1-2 tablespoons of Kerrygold butter (Click for link) P. S. If you are local these two items are cheaper and Aldi’s and Hyvee!

~1-2 scoops of Collagen peptides depending on the desired amount of protein (Click for link)

~ Now if you don’t mind the taste of coconut add a teaspoon of organic coconut oil!

~But if you are like me and don’t like coconut I would recommend MCT oil or powder! I use this brand (Click for link)

~ ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract

~Organic Cinnamon to sprinkle on top!

Instructions: Add all the ingredients into the blender except the cinnamon!  Blend for 30 seconds. Pour into a portable mug and sprinkle cinnamon on top. ENJOY!

Foster Care 101

Recently a friend asked me some very thoughtful questions about foster care and what the process has been like. I’m very thankful that she asked, and I decided that a blog post would provide a more thorough response so maybe others can benefit as well. First let me start by discussing a few of the misconceptions that I have heard people express about foster care.

  1. Foster parents are in it for the money.While I am sure that there are people who are motivated by money, 100% of the foster parents I have met do it because they want to love and serve children. The vast majority of foster parents are actually kinship providers. These are often grandparents, teachers, or other individuals who know the kids and agree to take care of the kids while their case is being processed. While you do receive a subsidy as a foster parent it would be very difficult to make money from being a foster parent. One DFS screening requirement is that you make enough money to pay your own bills before they will license you. Children in foster care are automatically enrolled in Medicaid even if they are adopted. So there are programs that help with the cost but if you are looking for a job to make money, I recommend you look elsewhere.
  2. DFS just drops kids off at your house.There is quite a bit of training involved in becoming a foster parent. Yes, the training is time consuming but it is also beneficial for several reasons. One positive is that you have time to ask a lot of questions and decide what kind of children you feel comfortable taking into your home. During the training you learn about the trauma that children in foster care experience, creative ways to manage behaviors, the possible reasons a child could be removed from a home and more. However, even after you complete all the training, no child will be placed in your home without your consent. Some people become foster parents because they want to adopt. Once you finish the training, your trainer/ social worker will start sending profiles of children who are ready to be adopted. If you see a child or sibling group that you are interested in, then you can go through an interview process and apply for placement of the child/children. This is a great option because there are many children who are eligible for adoption but who age out of the system without ever being adopted. However, some people are not interested in adoption and if that is the case then awesome! Foster families are rare but very needed.
  3. I could never be a foster parent because I would get too attached.I want to be gentle with how I respond to this question because my initial response is one of exasperation. I want to scream, “OF COURSE YOU GET ATTACHED, THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT.” However as I reflect back on my own experience, I realize that I shouldn’t be judgmental because I am guilty of that same trap. As humans it is natural to want to protect our hearts from pain. At times I have found myself holding back and not loving my kids as fully as I could have because I knew it would cause me pain. This question comes back to a key point in your belief system. Who do you serve? The God of the Bible does not promise a happy and successful life free of suffering and pain. In fact God promises us that we will suffer and be persecuted. If you are a Christian, then you must decide whether you will spend your energy running from suffering or if you will follow God’s call and embrace suffering by taking care of God’s children.

 

Now I will come back to my friend’s initial question. How can I help foster families and kids in foster care? This is a fabulous question!

  1. Love the children and treat them just like you would any other kids. I remember in my training hearing a story of a foster family who was asked to leave the church because of the foster children’s behavior. DON’T BE LIKE THAT! Come alongside the family and help support them.
  2. Don’t excuse the children’s bad behavior but also be patient with them. Due to the trauma these kids have experienced they will often fall back on survival techniques that have gotten them through hard things in their life. These behaviors can include tantrums, lying, manipulation, food hoarding, and a sense of entitlement. While the kids don’t get a pass on their bad behavior, if people are patient and understanding it can help the learning process go much more smoothly.
  3. If you have extra clothes, furniture (especially a bed or mattress), bikes or other used items ask if the family could use them.
  4. Offer to babysit one day a month or consider doing respite care! (This can make a huge impact in helping encourage/support a foster family. We have wonderful parents who watch our kids for us, and it has made a huge difference! We couldn’t do it without them!)
  5. Learn more about foster care and consider becoming a foster parent. There are so many children who need a loving home. Don’t close yourself off to the suffering of others. It is so easy to ignore suffering when it seems abstract and there is so much of it in the world. Be brave! Lean in and learn what other people are experiencing!

Children vs. Vegetables

I should start this by telling you a little story. This is perhaps a little scary because I’m giving you the opportunity to judge my parenting skills. Two years ago we had the opportunity to bring two little boys into our home. Derek and I were nervous because although we loved children we had never been parents before. This occasion presented us with the challenge of doubling our family overnight, but we felt like this was an opportunity that we could not pass up.

Enter Hayden and Landen… Hayden was quiet and reserved. He was also very protective of his younger brother. Landen on the other hand was very excitable and also a little clumsy. Neither of the boys quite knew what to think of my cooking. I had recently made some serious lifestyle changes to my diet and decided that I wanted to feed my family the healthiest foods possible. This created some interesting drama for our new little family.

Week 2 I served meat and vegetables for dinner. Landen decided that he did not want to eat his celery so after 20 minutes of him sitting at the table refusing to eat his celery, I told him that if he didn’t finish it he would not get a sonic drink. He immediately agreed to this and got up to go play with his toys. Later that evening we left to go to Sonic. Landen sat there quietly as I placed our orders and waited for our drinks to come. As soon as the lady came to the car to give us our drinks, Landen immediately started crying as loud as he possibly could. I reminded him that he chose to not get dessert when he didn’t finish his celery. (Although I doubt that he heard me over his wailing.)

This is just one example of the many adventures we have had adapting to food battles. I’ve learned how to be smarter and pick my battles with more wisdom and grace. The lessons I’ve learned can be summarized into one thought: You can’t force your child (or anyone really) to eat something they don’t want to. However, you can incentivize a behavior with either positive or negative consequences.

Five tricks to help your kids eat more vegetables:

  1. Eat more vegetables yourself! As parents you are the ultimate example for your kids! If you don’t take care of yourself and eat junk food all the time, your kids will model that behavior. However, this can also work in your favor when it comes to encouraging your kids to try new things. If you are eating something your kids will want to eat it! My kids have begged me to make them Brussel Sprouts because I told them that I was only making them for myself! (P. S. I’ve also used this trick with liver!)
  2. Cook your vegetables! When you cook vegetables it softens them and makes them easier to digest as well as chew. It also helps improve the taste if you cook them in a healthy fat such as butter or coconut oil. Be generous with the spices as well!
  3. Provide incentives if they eat their vegetables. My rule of thumb is no dessert unless they finish their vegetables. This might seem counterintuitive because sweets aren’t good for kids. However, the more exposure they have with healthy vegetables the more their taste buds will evolve so they will actually enjoy eating vegetables.
  4. Require the kids to eat their vegetables first. My sweet Landen has a big appetite, and if he isn’t hungry he will fight me all night to avoid eating his vegetables. However, if I have him eat his veggies first it provides him with additional motivation to finish his veggies without complaining.
  5. Make vegetables part of every meal. Yes, I know this will be a pain at first but in the long run it will pay off with huge dividends. Children like having a routine and if vegetables are part of your routine as a family they will adapt! Make sure your kids know that vegetables are good for them. Yes, they might not appreciate it now but in the future those habits will serve them well and will translate into good habits in their adulthood.

How do you get your kids to eat their veggies?

~Shelby

Feeling Anxious?

Yesterday I was feeling anxious. Perhaps you can relate? I was short tempered with my kids. It seemed like every little thing that could go wrong happened including one child spilling cream all over the kitchen floor and the other children getting into a screaming match. Some days I’m convinced that stuff like this only goes on at my house!

So what is anxiety really?

At the end of the day I am convinced that anxiety is a physical and emotional response to an attack on our well-being. Now sometimes that anxiety is well founded. Other times it is imagined but either way when you experience anxiety it is real! Anxiety results when our brains tell us that something harmful is out to get us.

Anxiety can come in several different flavors including panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, phobias, post-traumatic symptoms as well as generalized anxiety.

Essentially all of those diagnoses are attempts to describe a core problem in our ability to regulate our emotions: FEAR.

It all comes back to fear. Our body responds to fear in an interesting way. Our heart beats faster, we start to monitor our surroundings (hyper-arousal), blood is shunted to our vital organs, and our breathing increases. Our goal is simple: Survive. We shift into fight or flight mode to take on the impending attack.

Now don’t get me wrong this reaction is perfect if you are being chased by a bear; however, it is not very useful for keeping your cool when your children are asking you a million questions or your boss wants you to complete a project by tomorrow.

Many people experience anxiety on a daily basis and for some people anxiety itself can develop into a serious problem.

So what do you do?

A non-anxious person might tell you to just stop worrying, but as someone who has struggled with anxiety I will be the first to tell you that truly treating your anxiety requires a total shift in your mind, body, and spirit.

So let’s start small:

Here are three things you can do/ know to immediately help calm your anxiety…

  1. You are not alone!Did you know that anxiety is the most common mental illness in the United States? It directly impacts around 18% of the general population (NAMI, 2018). Although often stigmatized, anxiety is a very common disorder, so please let go of any shame you may feel around this issue. It is not a sign of weakness, but rather a natural response to stress.
  2. Breath!Anxiety is your body’s response to stress. It is a natural response but is also something that needs to be managed so it doesn’t start to run your life. Breathing is an excellent coping skill that has strong evidence to support its use. Now it is important to note that you need to truly breath deeply to gain the full benefit of this exercise. Put your hand on your stomach and when you breath in your abdomen should move out. If your shoulders are moving up and down that means the airflow is shallow. Try inhaling for four counts and exhaling for four counts to regulate and calm your autonomic nervous system. Try this exercise to calm yourself!
  3. Check your internal dialogue. What kind of self-talk do you allow yourself to participate in? What things do you say to yourself? Are they negative or disaster oriented? Our words have power including the words that we say to ourselves. Speaking negatively to yourself is only going to result in more anxiety so make a commitment to stop that behavior.

Anxiety like any mental illness is normal. However, it is something that can be managed with help and proper treatment. Only about 40% of individuals with anxiety seek treatment for their symptoms. I personally have grown tremendously from working with a counselor that I know and trust. I’ll post another blog post soon about the coping skills and the resources that I have found to be helpful!

~Shelby

 

 

Resources:

National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org/learn-more/mental-health-by-the-numbers

Breathing Exercise: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFcQpNr_KA4