Seasons of the Heart {Gracelaced}

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It should come as no surprise, that as a real person, my life does not resemble the picture above most days.  Dirty knees, yes.  Chickens running around, sometimes.  Flower crowns, rarely.  Most days, clothes are mismatched and dirty.  Little disputes between the four children are on and off ALL day long.  A temper tantrum here and there when one of the precious children are told "no".  Often my life does not feel like a fairy tale, (even though, still in the mess of life I find it absolutely beautiful). I feel exhausted, at times unworthy of motherhood, and quite honestly, a reminder of God's perfect love for me as an imperfect person is deeply needed.  

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I have a love/hate relationship with social media but one of the delightful things about it, is the women I have encountered.  One of these women, Ruth Chou Simons, I have been following on Instagram for years, and have been greatly encouraged and inspired by her.  Always pointing me back to Christ with her posts about motherhood, marriage, and life in general.  Not only an artist, but as a writer seeking to share gospel truths with the world, she has a book being released September 1st.  (As part of the Gracelaced launch team, I was sent an advanced copy.  I loved the gorgeous book so much that I bought one for all the women in my family.) I have been blessed by its pages in so many ways and wanted to share with you a bit of what was pressed onto my heart through it.  

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Gracedlaced walks you through the seasons of your heart and starts with winter.  I was reminded of the unchanging character of God.  Trustworthy, sufficient, ever-present, wise, merciful, sovereign, etc.  We were meant to dwell in our Savior as our refuge, not the things on this earth.  I love this quote from Ruth, "Brick and mortar, pillows and throws, swept floors and quiet children...our physical environment was never intended to be our true refuge. Turn instead to the unshakable, steady, and strong shelter of our Savior...There we abide; there we dwell; there we find rest." 

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I encourage you to order a copy, grab some colored pencils or paints, search your heart, and get closer to God.  "He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name." Psalm 147: 3-4

*If you pre-order before September 1st, you will recieve pre-order bonuses. After you have ordered your copy from any retailer, go here to claim your gift.  

Why We Chose RV Living

It comes as no surprise that once I announced our plans to move out of our home and live in an RV full time, with four kids, (one dog and two guinea pigs), the questions and opinions starting rolling in. It seems to be something that is becoming more common, especially among homeschool families, but it is still not conventional.  For us, we are not traveling the United States, as appealing as that sounds, but will stay locally because of my husband's job and what our end goal is.  

Since Garet and I have been married, we have strived to live simply. For quite a few years, it was necessary because of the decision that was made for Garet to go back to school and I remain in the home.  Hard is an understatement.  We counted our money down to the pennies, was shown so much generosity from our sweet church family, as well as our families who lived so far away. There were many tears but the joy abounded.  I am so thankful for that time with my kids when they were little, watching every new thing they learned to do as they grew.  I learned in that season, there are pros and cons to every choice.  No, we did not have a house for a while.  In fact, there was a time period when we lived in a two bedroom apartment with all four kids.  No big yards.  Hardly ever bought new clothes or toys.  And eating out at restaurants was incredibly rare. But we knew, years down the road, the sacrifice would be worth it.  

Now here we are again, in a season of transition.  We moved out of our three bedroom home that had the most amazing views, to about a 400 square foot space.  I know there will be plenty of challenges that go along with our new lifestyle but I am also so excited to get back to simple living. Thankfully, being on the central coast of California, the year round weather allows us to do this. Even the rainy season here doesn't seem like much, coming from North Carolina. 

Because our end goal is to renovate a home on some property here on the central coast, saving money and paying off debt was essential to getting closer to that goal.  Rental prices in our area are very high, so taking out a mortgage while paying rent wasn't an option for us.  So by May, when hopefully we start building, we needed to find a place we could afford until the house was done.  RV living just made sense.  We decided to move out of our house six months earlier than we needed to in order to pay off debt quickly and save before taking out a loan. Until we get the permits we need to live on the property, there will be a couple of months we'll be at campgrounds. Even paying a weekly fee, it is far less than paying rent on a house.  

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All in all, I am way more excited than nervous for this year of small space living. I know even if it is incredibly challenging at times, the end result will be worth it.  So far we are almost two months in, and it has been such an amazing experience.  Time is so valuable and there is more of an abundance of it with such a small space to care for (and fewer material items to worry about).  There have been a few things that took time to work out, mostly bedtime with all the kids in one bunk (with a trundle). And a few more things I'm still trying to work out, but, in my experience, all hard seasons in life are full of the opportunity for growth.  

Are Oils Worth the Investment?

First thing, I DO NOT sell oils so this is in no way trying to make me money.  Just an honest opinion since there is a HUGE oil craze going on.  The fairly new obsession with oils in social media world had me intrigued.  

What I want for my home is a clean, calm, peaceful environment.  I think I can confidently say most of us want that.  My life is filled with little kids (which means my house is often loud, messy, and not so calm), and financial responsibilities (which means we have a modest budget).  When I first saw oils mentioned everywhere, I thought that's nice but not something I want to invest in. Because buying quality oils (not all are made equally), is an investment.  My experience with oils goes back to my childhood when my mom would put cotton balls of lavender under my pillowcase to help me sleep.  That's all I thought oils were good for, plus the occasional massage. I had no idea the extent of uses for essential oils.  For me to invest in something, especially as a one income family of six, it has to be useful. I'm talking DAILY useful.  

About six months ago, a friend emailed me about buying a starter kit.  I was leaning toward no, but I had been hearing such great things from friends I trusted, I had to give it a try.  After all, if bottles of oil were going to change my home life for the better, how could I refuse?!

Let me just say, when I received my kit and all the information that came with it, I was completely overwhelmed.  So many oils, with so many uses.  I didn't know where to start.  But six months later I've found a good rhythm and am still learning new ways to incorporate  oils in my everyday life.  

Out of all the ways I've used oils I'll tell you a few of my favorites.  

  • Buy a diffuser.  This is my favorite and easiest way to use oils.  My house always smells amazing now, as well as offering emotional and physical support for our bodies. It honestly gives the house a more peaceful feel.  
  • Mixes for headaches, minor boo boos, muscle soreness, and calming.  
  • Cleaning purposes.  I can't even write all the ways you can clean your house with oils. Personally, carpet powder and glass cleaner are my most used.  But I'm still (weekly) learning new ways to use them around the home with the oils I have on hand.
  • And last, with food.  I've used peppermint and lemon several times while baking or in my water. Also, did you know you can make a rinse for your vegetables and fruits with lemon oil instead of purchasing a rinse at the store?! 

Many, many ways to incorporate oils into your daily life.  So if you're worried the oils won't be used, know that definitely won't be the case.  I would also note, you don't have to purchase a whole kit in the beginning.  It's alright to start small and see if it works in your home.  Maybe start with lavender, lemon, and peppermint.  Hope this was helpful if you've been on the fence about essential oils.  If you are interested in buying or have questions, you can get in touch with my friend Rachael here, she would love to help you.   

Marriage with Little Kids

Marriage with little kids {deep breath}. Hard. Exhausting. Beautiful.  

Garet and I have been married going on 8 years.  Within those eight years, all but five months, have included me pregnant and/or nursing, with toddlers and/or babies.  It hasn't been easy, and finding time to connect with each other has been one of our biggest challenges.  So how do we stay close with each other during this time of complete and glorious chaos?  

1) We text, a lot.  That thing I meant to tell him while the kids were running up and down the halls and I was trying to put a diaper on one of the girls, I still tell him.  It's not ideal.  We aren't sitting down and chatting over the kitchen table, sipping coffee before he leaves for work.  It's usually between 10-11pm when I'm sitting on the couch after the kids are asleep (indulging on Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman) and he is at the hospital.  But eventually we do talk about it. 

2) The kids go to sleep in their own beds.  We co-sleep, and have from the beginning.  It works for me especially with nursing (and I love it).  However, the kids don't go to sleep in our beds right away.  I would always rock or nurse them to sleep and they would go in their cribs first.  This would give Garet and I a few hours alone before there was a kid (or kids) separating us at night.    

3) We always eat dinner together.  Sometimes it's a little rushed.  Sometimes I'm getting up and down from the table so much ("can I have a napkin", "can I have more water", "is there any hot sauce"), it seems I'm not actually eating with them.  But it's the one time during the day, I'm guaranteed time with my husband. We sit across from each other and I'm reminded even though our roles are different, we are working together to raise the children God has blessed us with.  

4) We take drives.  Yep, we load all those little people in the car, strap them in with a snack in hand and drive.  We didn't have the luxury of living near family until a few months ago and because of our budget, babysitters were usually out of the question.  There have been many, many, times when we've gotten into an argument and feeling very distant from each other, Garet would suggest a drive. A Starbucks coffee (for him) and hot chocolate (for me), music, and the opportunity to talk without interruption.  Even if we weren't ready to talk to one another because emotions were high (usually mine), just sitting close to one another and holding hands was enough.  And yes, even if I didn't want to hold his hand at first, it wouldn't be long before I was thankful I did.    

5) We get outside as much as we can. We walk, we hike, we camp, and we picnic.  The earth is filled with beauty that will engage the kids' curiosity.  That gives Garet and I not only a chance to talk while we watch the little ones explore, but also a bond through the memories we are making together. We're catching our breath away from the laundry, dishes, and appointments that go along with life. It's refreshing.  

Make your spouse a priority in any way that you can.  It may not be weekend trips without kids or date nights every week, but make an effort to connect in small ways daily.  It is obviously good for your marriage, but it's also important for your whole family.  






     

Story of a Housewife: Jennifer Brown

Dear Newlywed Me,

It's almost 10 years down the road... I know, I can't believe it either! Right now you're having the time of your life, you can't imagine it getting any better. A loving, attentive husband. A perfect, precious baby boy. Why on earth would people say marriage is hard? It's a piece of cake, and you're loving every minute of it. Regular date nights. A husband who is off work every day at 5pm, which means lots of family time.

But before you know it, two baby girls will join your family before your oldest is three. Your love for them will be just as fierce and powerful as the love you had for your firstborn. However, now there is less time for date nights. Really less time for everything. Steve is going to get a promotion. Which will be great for your growing family, but that means lots of overtime and being on call. Juggling three babies under three is hard. Despite Steve doing everything he can to help.

You know you were born to be a mother, so you will throw yourself full on into raising all those little ones. Even if that means neglecting your husband. You won't understand why he puts you first. You think the kids should come before everything. During this time you also will struggle with God, and everything you thought you believed. I promise you, it's all for a good reason. You will realize that you didn't really have a personal relationship with God. Thankfully you married one of the most patient men on earth. He will be by your side, loving you through it all. Life will still be good, but you don't realize how much fuller it can be.

When you finally surrender to Jesus you pull out of that slump. You know God matched you two perfectly together. Who else would have put up with almost 3 straight years of a woman pregnant and questioning religion... All while being an amazing husband and completely hands on father. He seriously deserves Saint status!

You'll go on to add a curly blonde baby boy to the family. Your wish of two boys and two girls will come true. Even though everyone will think y'all have lost your minds, you & Steve will decide to have more kids. I promise you, your not crazy! This time is different though. After four perfect pregnancies, you will lose the baby, and have three surgeries with in six months. It will be the hardest thing you've ever went through. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Opening up and leaning on each other and Jesus, will be what gets you through.

It's hard to imagine, but despite all the hardships and loss, your marriage will only get better. You'll fall more in love. It's a different kind of love though. Not the giddy feeling you get in the beginning, but a deeper love that only will come from the years spent together. The journey and things you learn along the way only make it better. There are a few things I wished you learned sooner though...

1. Listen to Steve when he says marriage comes before kids. It doesn't mean you have to neglect them. You're honestly loving them more by showing them what true love and marriage should look like.
     

2. Even though it's only twice in 10 years, don't let Steve shave his beard. Yes, you will actually prefer a guy with facial hair.
     

3. Start your once a month dates sooner. I promise you'll thank me and feel so much closer.
   

4. Don't ever take him for granted. Not every man will or can build everything you pin on Pinterest.
     

5. Surrender to Jesus. It will be the step that transforms your marriage and family.

Don't listen to the world that tells you to give up when things get hard. The sweetest part of marriage comes from getting through the tough stuff together. I promise you, you will be blown away by how much deeper your love will be in 10 years. And it's only getting better.

Love,

Your Future Self

Jennifer is a believer, wife, and homeschool mom of four.  She shares more of her story over at Supermom Vs. Me or glimpses of her life on Instagram.   

Story of a Housewife: Rachael Bratene

What Health Looks Like In our Family

"Holistic" and "Natural" were not common words in my vocabulary until I had my own children, and started deeply considering the things I was feeding them, putting on their skin, and allowing into our home environment.

By the time we had three children, we began to truly struggle with keeping everyone healthy. We found ourselves continuously in a vicious cycle of kids catching colds and viruses and then passing them through the whole family. It seemed like just about the time we would get everyone healthy from a bout of something, someone else would come down with something new and we would start the cycle all over again. It was miserable living that way and it was costing us a ton of money in my husband taking sick days off from work, co-pays, deductibles, antibiotics, and over the counter meds. We knew we had to find a solution. We knew that there had to be other big families out there facing this same struggle who had found ways to keep from getting sick so often. 

Our journey to discovering better health began with food. We began to learn about natural immunity and how keeping our bodies healthy through foods could protect us from getting sick as often. As we researched what foods we should be eating for healthier immune systems, we began to also learn about the toxic load each of us carries, not only from what has happened to the world food supply, but also from the many chemical laden things in our home care and body care. We started to reduce our use of plastics, look for healthier more natural alternatives to cleaning products, and search for simpler options in the things we put on our face, hair, and bodies. 

We were making progress little by little, step by step, day by day.

A few years into that journey toward better health, and after having added two more children to the mix making us a family of seven, I was introduced by a friend to essential oils. I'd been avoiding the topic for a long time thinking they were some far out “Hippie dippie baloney.” But on the very first night I attended a class about them, and learned what was possible with them, though I was still super skeptical, I was thrust immediately into making a decision about using them. 

My kids had been “slightly” sick for a few days with runny noses and congestion. When I got home from the essential oils class my 7 year old daughter was in the midst of full blown croup, and a panic attack that was leading to nausea, over worry she soon wouldn't be able to breathe at all. I knew now was my chance to try these oils. I was nervous. I was nervous about looking like a fool to my kids and my husband trying to solve big time health concerns with little bottles of oil. But I also knew now was the best time ever to find out for sure if essential oils were even worth bothering with. 

I had her smell peppermint out of the bottle and it eliminated her feelings of nausea in a couple minutes.

I put coconut oil, peppermint, frankincense, and eucalyptus on her chest.

I began massaging her feet with lavender to calm her anxiety.

Within 20 minutes her airways were open, she was calm, carrying on a conversation with me, and even laughing. All my other kids (except the baby) were lined up, wanting to experience the oils. I applied the same protocols to each of them and got all of them to bed. My husband and I hurried to bed ourselves, knowing we would probably be up all night with kids waking up uncomfortable with congestion. We were astonished when we woke up the next morning and all our runny nosed, congested kids had slept through the night. We knew immediately that essential oils would become another HUGE piece of the puzzle in how we would be keeping our large family healthy from here on out.

Over the past year we've learned to use essential oils for numerous health care situations for our entire family and they continue to amaze us with how quickly and effectively they work. They've been a tremendous financial solution for us as well, having greatly reduced how often we need to go the doctor or use antibiotics and pharmacy products. It was a bit of an investment to get our initial stock of oils, but they last for years and years and almost everything we do with them calls for a drop or two at a time, costing us only cents per application. Additionally we've learned to use them to make our own hand sanitizers, hand soap, laundry products, multipurpose cleaners, diaper spray, salves, and more, continuing to help reduce the chemicals in our home.

Since having had such powerful results with the proper use of therapeutic grade essential oils, I've developed a passion for helping others start that journey. I work with families and health care providers to educate and support their use of essential oils safely and effectively and I've begun to train other women to do the same thing and work from home. If you would like to begin an essential oil transformation for your family, please reach out to me and I'd be thrilled to help you get started. 

This week in honor of getting to share my story here at the Imperfect Housewife, I'd love to do a giveaway to get one of you started with a small introduction kit for free. This kit will include 5mL bottles each of Lemon, Lavender, and Peppermint along with an Audio CD that teaches about safe and effective Essential Oil use.

To enter the giveaway leave a comment below giving one example of what health looks like in your family.  For additional entries, visit Imperfect Housewife on Facebook or Instagram.  Giveaway is open from Tuesday, August 4th-Thursday, August 6th, 2015.  Winner will be announced on Friday.

Rachael is a passionate woman of faith, wife, and home school mother of five who blogs at SteerYourOwnShip.com. After having researched all the essential oil options available to her, she now works from home with the world leader in essential oils used for therapeutic use. She mentors others in their journeys toward more holistic natural health, home school, faith, and family. You can follow her on her blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook by visiting her website and connecting from there to any of her social media pages. She'd love to hear from you!



Getting Through the Hard Days

I'm a pretty optimistic person.  I try to focus on the blessings around me rather than the brokenness and disappointments.  Most days I see the little things for what they are, inconveniences.  Skipped naps, whining, bickering between siblings, canceled playdates, or just the fact that I'm exhausted and would like to sleep in once in a while.  But sometimes, a big storm brews and I start to feel anxious and overwhelmed.  I get that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach like when I was a kid standing in the bathroom stall before a swim meet, certain I was going to lose my last meal. It's all-consuming, and awful.

This week I had several of those moments.  It's a really strange thing, sometimes I don't even know right away why I'm feeling anxious. I have to go back through the day and think about what happened, conversations, or things I had been thinking about recently, to figure out why the world feels like it's caving in. My first instinct is to feel helpless and sad.  I become paralyzed and don't know what to do.  I turn to distractions in hopes that it will lift my mood.  For me, that would be tv shows and food after the littles are in bed.  Reality shows and sugar to be exact.  But it never helps, at least not in the end. It only does what it can, distract for a while.  Once I'm in bed with the darkness around me, the anxiety creeps back in.  

So what do I do when life doesn't go according to plan?  When friendships seem scarce?  When money is tight?  When wars are raging?  When babies are being killed?  When my attitude is more about getting through the day rather than treating it like the gift it is?

I step back.  I get outside.  Away from all the "stuff".  I look at the mountains, climb the hills, smell the flowers, feel the ocean water, gaze into the sky.  I feel small.  Then I read the scripture, pray and remind myself even though I'm so tiny in this great big universe, God loves me enough to call me His child. He is everything I need.  He is in control.  Always has been, always will be.   

I HAVE CALLED YOU BY NAME; YOU ARE MINE.  ISAIAH 43:1

I'm reminded that God placed me where I'm at for a reason.  The people around me, they are in my life for a purpose.  My passions and gifts may not change the world, but maybe, God will use them to help one person.  My kids will someday grow up and they will go out into the world to shine a light.  Just my role as a mom, as mundane as it may seem at times, is so important.  Our life isn't meaningless, it's being used.  And each of our lives are being used in different ways to bring glory to God.  We aren't being called to be the Savior of the world, we already have a Savior!  We just need to be faithful where we are at.  

Breathe.  Love.  Know that nothing happens outside of God's will.  Do what you can, where you are at.  Be thankful for your blessings.  Share your joy with others.  Seek God first.  

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING, BUT IN EVERYTHING BY PRAYER AND SUPPLICATION WITH THANKSGIVING LET YOUR REQUESTS BE MADE KNOWN TO GOD.  AND THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR MINDS IN CHRIST JESUS.        PHILIPPIANS 4:6

         

 

   

         

Story of a Housewife: Laura Saufley

what health looks like in our family

Simply Healthy Mama.  That's been my website name and my online persona for four years now.  Some days, on my good days, I feel like I deserve that moniker.  I complete a long run, I eat healthy foods, and I get a good night's sleep.  I feel healthy.

And then there are those days when I feel like a fraud.  Those days when I'm scared that someone who reads my blog will see me chowing down on a Reese's Cup.  Those days when I am lucky if I clock 5,000 steps on my FitBit and I drink too much sweet tea.  Those days when I feel anything but healthy.

It's on those bad days that I have to remind myself of where I have been.

Four years ago, I looked into the mirror and had an 'ah-ha!'  moment.  I was overweight, tired, sedentary and depressed.  And I was the mother of three little girls who were looking to me to teach them how to be healthy--and I was teaching them anything but that.  It brought me to tears thinking about the bad habits that I was passing on to my children.

Back then, exercise was an occasional walk around the block.  The girls had never been in a gym--they had never even seen a set of weights.  We ate cereal for breakfast and had pizza or hamburger helper for supper.  We drank more soda than water and treats were a daily occurrence.

I knew that things needed to change and I reached out for help.  I met with a nutritionist, joined a gym, and started running.  It wasn't long before my daughters realized that this wasn't just a fad and that mom was serious about this health stuff.

Out went the soda and junk food and in came water, fruits, vegetables, and home cooked clean meals.  The girls started running with me and we spent time together jumping on the trampoline, playing at the park, and playing Just Dance on the Wii.

I've lost some weight over the last four years but my goal was never to be skinny.  I'm more proud of the fact that I've ran two half marathons and I'm training for my third.  I'm proud that my girls have completed a few races with me.  I'm proud when I look over from my perch on the stairclimber and see my oldest daughter on the elliptical.   I'm proud that our family is healthier now than we've ever been--and we are still improving every day!

Simply Healthy Mama.  That's what my children deserve and that is what I strive to be every single day.

Laura is a wife, mother of three, and passionate about sharing ways to encourage healthy living in families.  She is a nurse, blogger, runner and on top of that, homeschools her children.  To learn more about Laura, you can follow along at her blog, Simply Healthy Mama.  

Story of a Housewife: Ashley Corbett

what health looks like in our family

My daily routine, with 3 kids, revolves around 3 meals and a lot of snacks. Throw in one extremely picky eater and meal times could easily become a stressor. Being a Registered Dietitian, my knowledge of what types of food are necessary at specific times of the day along with keeping track, in my mind, how many servings of calcium/carbohydrates/iron-rich foods/types of fats/etc., that each kid consumes can be… {big breath of air in} exhausting! But, God has equipped me to fully meet my kid’s needs, in this area, just as He has done for you! While I enjoy talking about and practicing nutrition, my family is not perfect with our food choices. My kids eat “treats” and the occasional fast food meal - my husband jokes with me about “do you want any coffee with all that cream?”. And let’s not talk about when it’s time to order Girl Scout cookies…. #busted. I don’t spend extra money on organic food and I don’t purposely choose non-GMOs. So, what ‘healthy’ looks like in my family may not look like the same ‘healthy’ that is in your family but, I will share what I do to ensure that my family eats healthy. The very first thing is establishing a healthy self-worth.  

Our culture is practicing “Willful Blindness” (definitely when it comes to God’s Word) – defined as “information they could and should have but have elected not to know” when it comes to achieving and maintaining health. We see it daily. We are affected by the culture around us. How often do we look at these photo-shopped, bikini ladies and think “if only my body..” or “I would feel better if I looked like..” or “I shouldn’t eat this because they said it causes fat storage blah, blah, blah”. Take a moment and think about how this affects us. How does it effect our parenting? Or, even worse, think about if our kids begin to think this way… Our children may be tempted to believe they are not healthy/pretty/sufficient/handsome/important/useful/precious/vital/enough unless they “do” what our culture tells them. So what is healthy in our family? It has to start with a good foundation.

As parents, we are to impress God’s Word on to our children ALL the time (Deut. 6:7). This includes continually expressing their importance and value to the Lord and His kingdom, just as He created them. Explaining God’s love for them and how He shows them His love. Explaining to our children that they were created for a purpose – one only they can fulfill through the Lord. Teaching them that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Helping our kids understand who Jesus is, what he did while walking on this Earth and where He is now/what He has planned! Let’s face it – if we don’t know our worth, we (as humans) will find it wherever we can. We will seek approval from anything and the world offers {temporary} acceptance at a high cost. So, once our family lives like we truly know where our value is, we can then incorporate healthy eating without all the mumbo jumbo from our culture. 

The government actually created a useful tool to help Americans understand how to eat healthy. This tool is called MyPlate (www.choosemyplate.gov) which was created to replace the food guide pyramid with the intent to help us understand that we can truly eat from each food group at each meal, without consuming excessive calories.

Initially, it took some time to teach my children what each food group was, its importance and what types of foods can “fit” into the groups but, once they understood, my kids were able to help think of food items that meet MyPlate to create our meals. My goal is to instill good eating habits that will help my kids when they are older (we all want that right?) but, I also want them to know the importance of true health, not just momentary results.

Some of our favorite recipes usually incorporate several of the food groups which makes meal times super easy (and quick!). I want to encourage you to remind yourself as often as necessary of your value to the Lord as well as adopt your own method of simple healthy eating that can encourage your kids to make good food choices. Check out one of our favorite recipes:

“Hulk” Muffins – found on ‘The Green Forks’ blog (www.greenforks.com)

Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

¾ cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

½ tsp baking soda

1½ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp salt

¼ cup canola oil

¾ cup milk

1 (6 ounce) bag fresh baby spinach

½ cup mashed banana (from about 1 to 2 bananas)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350°F and line two 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a large bowl: flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a blender, place oil, milk, and spinach. Blend on high for about 30 seconds or until completely puréed. Add banana and vanilla; blend on low just to mix.

Pour puréed mixture into dry mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined.

Fill muffin cups about full and bake 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

    

 

 

Ashley is a wife and mother of three living in eastern North Carolina.  She enjoys crocheting, teaching, gardening, running and being a chicken mama.  You can find more of her days over on Instagram.  

Health After Pregnancy

True beauty is so much more than how you look on the outside.  A genuine smile and honest eyes are beautiful in a way highlights and liposuction never can be.  I have had three pregnancies over the past seven years and the last one I was carrying twins.  I have had so many emotions due to stretching and re-stretching.  I've cried many times over what I thought I had lost and wondering if my husband would find me as attractive as he once did.  Let me just say, every woman carrying their unborn children and the months and years that follow, are incredibly beautiful even with the weight gain and stretch marks.  

This post is NOT how to become more beautiful, but how to become healthier.  

Some women can go back to the gym weeks after delivering a baby.  I'm not one of them.  I was nursing around the clock, getting very little sleep, and considered my day productive if I had showered.  The thought of going to the gym and all that involved made me want to cry.  Four kids to get ready, get out the door, buckle up, drive to the gym, get everyone out, walk across the parking lot, go through the building to childcare and then convince them I would be back soon, WAS a workout.  No, thank you.  

My baby girls are now almost two years old.  I stopped nursing them about two months ago and they are finally sleeping through the night.  I knew now was the time to change my "newborn" habits.  You might know them.  Eating junk food between the hours of 10-2am (because I'm up nursing and watching tv).  Skipping breakfast (because I'm feeding the kids, changing diapers, and trying to keep the house in a livable condition).  Or scarfing down 2 (okay, 3) doughnuts (because look at all I do! I deserve them).  I was feeling tired all the time, my stomach felt like it constantly had pressure on it, and my posture seemed to be getting worse.  

A sweet friend had mentioned something called the 21 day fix.  I'm not big on commitments when it comes to exercise but 21 days seemed doable.  Nervously, I emailed her asking if she had space in her group secretly hoping she would say no, but instead I got "yes".  Different programs work for different people, but this one seemed like something I could commit to in order to jump start my healthy lifestyle change.    

I'm going to be honest, I cheated a little.  I changed it up from the very beginning to something I knew I could stick with.  I kept my one cup of coffee with creamer a day and I ate one serving of dessert on Saturdays.  I also was not perfect completing my work outs everyday.  I did about 70% of them (although some of the days I didn't work out were replaced with a hike).  BUT, I made changes.  I succeeded in small ways everyday choosing grapes over crackers, lettuce over buns and water over soda.  Each days' small victories led to big progress at the end.  It. Was.  Hard.  The first four days were awful.  I could barely walk after working out and I was coming off of an intense sugar high.  But I got through it, and felt so much better entering my second week.

 

Being healthy is so important for your family.  It takes a lot of energy keeping up with daily responsibilities and feeling your best makes things easier.  God made our bodies to do amazing things and they are capable of so much more than we give them credit for.  If I can do this, anybody can.  I'm pretty sure my husband will vouch for that.  

I almost didn't do a before and after picture because I was embarrassed that my flat stomach was long gone.  But I'm so glad I did.  Our bodies can bounce back.  It won't be overnight and it's not easy, but it is possible.   So here it is, day 1 and day 21. My plan right now is to do a few rounds of 21 day fix with a week break in between.   Just until good habits are formed and this lifestyle of being active and excluding most sugars becomes my normal.  I'm currently in my second round of 21 days and my goal is to complete 95% of the workouts.   

 

If you are interested in trying the 21 day fix, you can go here and sign up through Amber from Mommy's Me Time.*  She knows the struggles of getting to a healthier place and I was thankful for her daily encouragement.  Keep in mind this is not 21 days and you're done.  You don't go back to your normal unhealthy eating, this becomes your new normal.  The extra energy and stronger body, that becomes your new normal.  

Amber has generously given one of Imperfect Housewife's readers a 21 Day Fix Essential package. To enter this giveaway, leave a comment giving one reason you want to be healthier.  For extra entries, visit Imperfect Housewife on Facebook and/or Instagram.  Giveaway ends Wednesday, July 8th, at 10 PST.  Winner will be announced Thursday, July 9th.  ***Giveaway Closed*** 

*I received no compensation for this review.