Quality Nourishment



Many summer mornings, I have wandered out to this dock at our family’s cabin. I throw on some boots and a blanket and head out to this well-loved chair with my Dad’s famous perked coffee in hand, still much too hot to drink. I sit and take in the beauty, the quiet, the aroma of pine trees and coffee. Some mornings the sun shines bright and glitters on the surface of the water. Other mornings the sun is masked by the mist rising off the lake. It doesn’t matter whether I spend a few short moments or an hour or so. I always feel satisfied after being in this place. Maybe because this place combines all the things that nourish me: Being outside, the beauty of the woods and untouched natural spaces, time to connect with God, time to process life, coffee. It’s a place to let quality things rise up in my life.

I have been trying to take small steps toward becoming a more nourished mama. Today is my one morning to myself and so I decided I would use this time to add in some things that nourish me. I dropped my sons off and headed out for a run along the bike path this morning. The rhythm of my feet hitting the pavement soothes my scattered thoughts and the fresh air in my lungs gives me freedom to breathe deep and let go of some of that tension I tend to carry in my shoulders! As I ran this morning I thought about this concept of quality.

I learned this over the past few years through our family’s switch to a gluten free/dairy free lifestyle. I call it a lifestyle switch because it really was a change in the way we do life and food. Our family made the change together to see if it would help with some of Preston’s behavioral struggles. We had heard that cutting out gluten and casein can help some children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. We started cutting things out. Honestly, we felt deprived at the beginning. But we soon came to realize we were approaching our dietary changes from a deprived mindset. We were choosing to look at what we couldn’t have, rather than what we could, missing all that was available to us.

About that time, my husband’s aunt, who struggles with Celiac disease, came to our rescue and mentored us in nutrition and all things gluten free. She helped us to look at food in terms of what we were gaining in nutrition, healthy fats, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, probiotics. For a kid like Preston, who’s medical issues make it hard for him to absorb nutrients and healthy fats, it’s important to make the most of each meal and feed him what will nourish him most. I have learned to think of food in terms of what is beneficial rather then what foods I have to keep from him. It’s not so much about cutting things out as it is about adding quality things in. This has changed everything. Bit by bit, as we added in things that nourished our bodies, we began to find ourselves craving those more healthy options and the less healthy things sort of lost their appeal and vanished from our diet. Our lifestyle changed completely.

As I ran this morning, I thought about how I can apply this concept of quality to other areas of my life. Where can I add in quality moments that nourish my mind, body, and soul? For too long, I’ve been trying to fill up other people’s glasses from my own broken and leaking vessel. Are there nourishing activities that I can add in to help me stay filled up and be able to provide that same quality nourishment back to my family, friends, and those around me?

So here are a few ideas I have to start slowly adding in some quality moments. (Disclaimer: I will not be rigid about when these things happen, or how often, or for how long. I have tried this and have stressed myself out over it. I will both take advantage of opportunities to add these things in but also, be aware that if the opportunity doesn’t come, I might have to make a little room for it. I’m going for guilt-free here people!) Here are three small things I can add in:

– Getting outside a few times a week, especially on sunny days. This can be a run by myself or a walk in the woods with my sons. I am an outside girl who hates feeling trapped in the house. Just a few minutes outdoors lifts my spirits.

– A quiet cup of coffee and some time to read and think. This is only accomplished these days by getting up before the sun rises. But I find on the days I make the sacrifice on 10 minutes of sleep to read my bible, or journal while sipping on some liquid heaven, I am much less scattered.

– Writing once a week. This is more a personal goal, but one that fills me up.

So, thus begins my little experiment in the concept of quality. Probably only my family will notice if it works. But I am determined to be a more nourished mama. I’m hoping to transform my time with my kids from quantity time to quality time. I’m hoping by making some space for some self-nourishment that some quality things will be able to rise up from me.

Would you consider with me, what are some nourishing moment you can add to your life right now?


If You’re Overwhelmed, You’re Not Alone

I’m having one of those days where time is short and it’s moving much faster than I am! I’m feeling behind and a bit overwhelmed. My boys were wild this morning and it took every ounce of strength I had (and then some) to keep it together. 

I stood in the laundry room and tried to imagine there wasn’t that huge pile of clothes to be sorted and put away. And I wondered who else might be doing this same thing. I wonder how many mamas are staring at their tasks, while children run wild circles around them and feel like they are vanishing, sinking unseen beneath the demands of time, dishes, laundry, family, and special needs parenting. 

So when the piles of laundry stiffen on top of your machine . . . 


You’re not alone.

When toys are scattered and so are you . . . 


You’re not alone. 

When your kids are screaming and you want to too . . . 


You’re not alone.

When your heart could burst with both frustration and love . . . 


You’re not alone.

I find on days like these, it’s hard to see progress. I am often blind to the fact that sometimes tasks left undone are signs of more important things being accomplished.

So I’m going to slow things down this afternoon and see if my eyes can’t be opened to the good things. Maybe I’ll get to some tasks and maybe they will wait for another day.

But when I see good things, I’m going to give thanks for the piles of laundry and dishes in the sink and all the signs that maybe, just maybe, that might mean I’m spending my little time on the precious things that matter. 



Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Get My Way

Preston - Napa filter

When Preston was four, he went through an amazing early childhood program. I was a little nervous at first, but came to love this program. His teachers said it would be his “bloom” year. And they were right.

This school was where he needed to be. When my LIttle Dude entered the program he had very little original speech. He was highly talkative and very verbose but he only spoke in lines from movies or TV shows. Everything he said was scripted and sounded scripted. By the end of the year, he no longer relied on scripted speech and his conversations lengthened and became more natural sounding. He was even starting to show interest in relationships with his peers. This seemed miraculous to us!

My husband and I commented many times on how this program had done so much for our son. By the time the school year came to a close, Preston’s growth was so amazing that I couldn’t imagine him going to school anywhere else. We knew that socially he wasn’t ready for Kindergarten even though academically he was WAY ready. I was nervous about a mainstream classroom preschool class and wondered about the challenges of that program. The early childhood program was so safe, so visually based, so perfect for him. I asked (begged) the school district to let him stay. I really wanted to give him one more year in this safe and enriching environment.

That was my best plan. It didn’t work out. We found our “Plan B,” a local park district program where he could have an aid in the classroom. Today, I can say with confidence that my best plan then would have held my little boy back in this season. I was trying to hold onto an old thing when God was trying to do a new thing. I am so glad I didn’t have it my way.

Little Dude entered a mainstream Pre-K class this year and struggled at first. It was a long, tough transition. I wondered if this was really right for him. He kept trying. I realize now it was the perfect amount of pressure. Not enough to break his desire to try but enough to push him and help him see how much he is capable of. I have to say, even though this year has been challenging for him, I have seen him grow more this year than even last year. He is needing his aid less and less. He is forming relationships with other kids and demonstrating some pretty amazing social skills. And I realize now that this was God’s best, and I almost kept him from it.

My plan would have been less of a transition, less struggle, less hard. Yet my plan would have yielded less growth, little progress, and few lessons learned.

We are faced again with a few options for school next year. So as I approach decision time again, I do so with new perspective. Open to God’s best, I will try to lay my plans at the feet of the one who made my son and knows the right path. I chose to accept his best regardless of the circumstances he brings. I place my son into the protective hands of the one who decides when programs or therapies get old and when it’s time for a new work in my child’s life. After all, I am not writing my son’s story. I am only a small piece. So I peacefully give our plans to God, the Author of life.

So what about you? Do you feel like your plans aren’t working out? Do you feel like you are holding onto an old way of life because it’s safe? Has something served it’s purpose for a season? Do you sense God is moving you to something new in your life? Perhaps time to let God lead you to the next chapter in your life …

A Letter to My Son on His First Day of School


Dear Little Dude,

You are precious to me. Each year about this time, my heart swells with pride as I watch you put on your tennis shoes and grab your backpack for the year’s first day of school. And my mommy heart is excited for you, and anxious with you. I know this year, like the last two years I’ve sent you off to preschool, will bring another huge growth spurt, so many things will be learned, so many new experiences will expand your horizons.

As I drove you to school, my insides twisted up with mixed emotions about starting another year, you said, “Mama, I’m nervous. What if my teacher doesn’t like me?” I wanted to pull over and hug you. Part of me wanted to cry and comfort you and tell you it will be okay, another part of me wanted to smile and tell you all the million reasons why your teacher will like you!

I watched you for a moment after I dropped you off. How you used your walking feet and went and sat calmly down on the reading rug. Your face a big bright smile, your big blue eyes so kind. And I choked at how these small things are huge victories for us. How 2 years ago, these small things were so hard because we didn’t know what was going on. And I said thanks to God for you and all you’ve already overcome. And then I left you to enjoy your first day at school.

Little Dude, as I send you off, let me remind of you of what you bring with you that will help you along the way . . .

First, you are responsible. When I put you in charge, you always follow through, even if imperfectly, I can trust you to try. And more often than not, you exceed my expectations. I love how you surprise us all with what you can do. I hope you never stop doing that.


You have the most helpful spirit. I love how you always volunteer to be a helper. Just remember that helping means doing what the other person asks, and not what you want to do. Keep this in mind, and you will continue to be a blessing to those around you.


You have the energy! Some days I wish I could borrow some of your exuberance! You have a way of revving people up and getting us all excited about a new game or a special outing. You are charismatic and others want to be around you. Your excitement is contagious. Use your energy to encourage others to do what’s right, and you will be one heck of a leader someday!


Finally, you are an encourager. I love you how tell others when they are doing a good job. There are some words not worth saying. Leave those in your head. But a word of encouragement is always worth saying out loud. If you use your words to lift others up, you have friends wherever you go.


So when Mama’s not around, remember that you carry within you the tools to succeed at whatever you try. Don’t look at your struggles as obstacles, but instead as opportunities for God’s power to make you strong. And how much sweeter the reward when you work hard and overcome, as you continue to do.

Look at these unique qualities you have. Isn’t it amazing how you were made? I marvel in you all the time. And I marvel in you now.

Happy first day of school sweet boy. I love you.

Love, Mama


My First Blog Post


I am so excited as I type this – my very first blog post! This blog has been many months in the planning and I am thrilled to finally get started!

I am the mommy of two little boys with special needs. My Little Dude (age 5) was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified, an autism spectrum disorder) last winter. My Little Man (age 1) has low muscle tone and delays in his gross motor development. You will be able read Little Dude’s story and Little Man’s story shortly.

The reasons I started this blog are: 1) to encourage other families who are raising children with special needs, and 2) to be a resource, and 3) to challenge myself to continue to find creative and fun ways to meet my families needs. Over the last year I have learned so much about sensory processing, gluten-free/dairy-free/sugar-free diets, and autism. I’d love this blog to be a place to share what I’m learning on my journey as a parent, but also to learn from you too! I truly believe that we are stronger together.

Finally, you have to know that I am a woman who loves God and that drives everything I do. I will probably mention Him from time to time – as he is the reason I can breathe and blog and do therapy after therapy and find joy when it shouldn’t be there.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll find Our Special Nest to be uplifting, encouraging, and practical!

– Amy