Quality Nourishment

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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 . . . 

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You’re not alone.

When toys are scattered and so are you . . . 

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You’re not alone. 

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

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You’re not alone.

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

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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. 

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Not So Typical Mom

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I’m not your typical mom. I always thought I would be. On my journey of motherhood God decided in his wisdom to give me one incredible boy with ASD and one incredible boy with motor delays and well, our family can seem a little quirky.  

Here are some of the ways that I am reminded that we do things a little differently. See if you can relate!

When school asks us to bring in milk cartons and shoe boxes for a project I have to borrow an empty milk carton from a neighbors recycling (being dairy free we don’t have many of those lying around) and I have to borrow a shoebox from my mom because I buy all my boys clothes resale. 

On baking days at my son’s school I’m the mom sending in organic beet juice so he won’t touch the red food coloring. 

We bring our own food everywhere we go. I often receive crazy looks when people put out the fruit snacks and apple juice and I say, “My son can’t have that.”

While other moms at the park are telling their kids not to climb the slide, I am praising them for it and am thrilled they are trying something new and, also cheering inside because it’s great heavy work activity and I know it’ll calm them down later!

I have an enormous trampoline ball pit in my family room for the boys during these winter months where we can’t get out much. And I’m okay with it. Most of the time. It’s a little deflated in this picture.

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On our counter is an enormous box of vitamins and supplements, all of which, my son takes on a daily basis. He is such a trooper. I feel like I spend a lot of my life sorting pills. We recently stopped 2 of these things so that makes life easier right?

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We don’t have many “normal” toys. Think scooters, plasma cars, chewy sticks, weighted toys, and therapy balls. This picture is kind of blurry!

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I have no idea what shows or songs are popular or what celebrities are doing or what  is going on in the news. But I can tell you a lot about autism, OT, ABA, Speech, special diets, fermented foods, etc.

Sometimes I watch typically developing kids interact with their parents and something within me aches. And to me, it seems unnatural, even though it’s what everyone else would say is natural but has not always come as naturally to us. And when my sons interact with me in sweet ways, I choke back tears of hope and joy. I’m hoping someone out there will understand this. 

I love my life and my boys. I’ll be honest. There are days when it just feels hard. It’s hard to see the parts of my children that are typical from the parts that aren’t so typical sometimes. I confess, I have days (even seasons) where I let it get to me more than I want it to. I’m learning that for me to live it well I have to constantly engage in the process of embracing what is and letting go of what isn’t. And thanking God not just for the good but for the hard parts of each day that remind me daily that raising special needs kids takes a whole lot of courage. 

So for those of you who can relate to any of this, you are not alone my friend. There are those of us who are on a slightly different route in parenting too. I’m glad to be traveling with you brave souls.

– Amy