Thursday, July 25, 2013

What I Hope to Gain at BlogHer

Today, I make my yearly sojourn to BlogHer

I didn't think I would be able to make it, you know, with moving and starting a new job and then adding additional responsibilities said job.

But I am.

And I filled with the anticipated mash up of emotions of excitement/freedom/guilt.

Maybe a touch more guilt bc Thomas had a difficult understanding that I need a bit if time each day to do my work. Lacking language to adequately express himself, he acts out. And this week, I wasn't feel centered enough to handle it in the best way. So to spare you the painful details (or myself from reliving some pretty low parenting points), I will just say that there were some strong power struggles in which poor Marie became caught in the crossfire. This resulted in a trip to the Dairy Queen for some ice cream therapy.

But I digress

Going to BlogHer feels different this year. I have such a clearer vision of what I hope to gain.
I, of course, am looking to learn how to build this little ol' blog of mine and share the newest social media information with my students. But I am also looking to get some badly needed inspiration from the breakfast keynote speaker, Sheryl Sandburg of Lean In. There have been more than a few times in recent weeks where I thought the benefits of me working super part time dis not outweigh the guilt of putting boundaries around my time or the stress of managing summer time schedules.
But there is a part of me that knows how much I need this. 

I am blazing a new trail for myself, one that is lacking in role models. I am hoping to find some words of wisdom that will help me during these confusing times.

Are you attempting something new? Are you a trailblazer? Who is your inspiration? What words of wisdom do you have to offer?

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Food Dilemma

 As I have stated in previous posts, I am continuously trying to make good food choices for my family.  I try to go organic as often as I can.  I try to make sure we the kids don’t guzzle juice all day.  I try to make sure that they have plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables to eat.

But seriously, I feel like American society is against me.  I mean, just look at the second rising of The Twinkie.  It was everywhere!  When Thomas wants watches TV on certain stations, he starts begging for Lucky Charms.  Lucky Charms?!  I wasn’t even allowed to have those as a kid!

I am fortunate in the fact that Thomas and Marie will eat broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  However, anything green and leafy is considered poison to them.  Perhaps at this point, you would suggest making a smoothie and sneaking kale and spinach in there.  Listen, I have tried.  I have made so many horrible smoothies, that they won’t even drink the good ones.

Frustrated, I reached out to my friend Angie.  We met at a conference that our husbands attend each year, and I remember her talking about a whole food supplement called Juice Plus.

We talked for a while, and I became intrigued by her information.  Her journey of finding Juice Plus is compelling, and she agreed to write a guest post.

So without further ado, I welcome Angie McCoy as she tells her story about Juice Plus.


First Add; Then Subtract

   Teachers and school-aged children know it is easier to add than subtract in math.  Kids learn that in first grade, if not before.  This principle holds true in our lives as well, especially as it relates to our diets.

            Everyone knows that we need to remove the processed foods like soda, chips and fast food from our diets, but it can be difficult to do especially when you enjoy those things.  But seriously, if you are what you eat, who wants to be a Twinkie?  How about a Ding Dong?  You just might be one if you continue to serve processed foods to your children knowing that these foods tear down health instead of building it up.
So, let’s get back to nutritional math and consider first, learning to add to our diet before we subtract from it.  The nutritional foundation that we were created to build upon should be a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables.  The current recommendation is 7-13 servings per day, which comes out to at least half your plate at every meal.  This amount gives your body the fuel that it needs to build a firm foundation of stone. 

Unfortunately, most people today are building their nutritional future on sinking sand, and it shows in the health of parents as well as children.  Dr. David Katz, MD, founder of the Yale University Prevention Research Center, profoundly states, “Today’s kids may be the first generation in history whose life expectancy is projected to be less than that of their parents.”  That is not what we imagined for our children… “When my daughter grows up I want her to be a veterinarian, a mom and have a shorter life than I will live.”  NO WAY!  We want the best of everything for our kids.  In order to achieve that we must fuel their bodies so that they may live up to their full potential, which is easier said than done.

I wish I could say that as a nurse and loving mother, I came to this realization about the importance of nutrition naturally, but that is not the case.  Most doctors and nurses are not well versed in the role nutrition plays in prevention and furthermore, the role that poor diet plays in contributing to illness and disease.  It’s not their fault.  That information is not something that is stressed in most medical and nursing schools. 

My epiphany came a few years ago when my daughter was faced with an unknown health challenge.  We exhausted every medical option possible and were left with a “wait and see” diagnosis.  As a mother warrior, I realized that waiting for her condition to worsen was not good enough for me, so I began devouring every book and journal on prevention that I could get my hands on.  All sources included one common method of prevention as well as treatment: a diet rich in fresh, raw fruits and vegetables.  The problem was my picky daughter was eating almost none!

Then, like an angel of hope, my friend told me about a whole food supplement called Juice Plus.  I said, “You mean I can get the nutrition of 26 vine-ripened, raw fruits, vegetables and grains into my daughter every day without her crying!”  It sounded too good to be true!  I felt like I had struck nutritional gold!  In fact, I had struck the nutritional rainbow with Juice Plus as the pot of gold at the end of it!

As a nurse, I love that Juice Plus is backed by gold-standard, independent clinical research conducted at prestigious medical institutions and universities across the United States and abroad that shows that Juice Plus:
·      First and foremost, is absorbed by your body, aka bioavailable
·      Reduces systemic inflammation
·      Supports your immune system
·      Protects DNA
·      Protects the cardiovascular system, among many other things

As a mom, I love that Juice Plus gives me the extra energy needed to keep up with two very involved kids as well as my own personal schedule.  My husband has come off of 4 medications and is proud to say that he has not been to his doctor since we started taking Juice Plus.  In fact, neither have my kids.  They have received the attendance awards at school for years, and when they do feel something coming on, their bodies have the nutritional ammunition to heal themselves.  To me Juice Plus is my nutritional insurance policy, and I thoroughly believe in investing in our wellness instead of subsidizing our illness.

As a nurse and more importantly, as a mother warrior, I feel a moral obligation to share the importance of nutrition in the role of health maintenance and more importantly prevention.  I urge you to first add more fruits and vegetables every day wherever possible.  One practical tip that works for my family is to always have a veggie tray chopped, clean and ready.  Leave it on the counter for the walk-by snacker.  Set the tray out on the table as an appetizer while you prepare the dinner plates.  Every family member must have two of each (but I do allow them to veto one vegetable of their choice).  Finally, pre-pack snack bags full of diced fruits and veggies for a quick on the go treat.

Ok that was the easy part: Addition!  Now here comes the tough one: Subtraction!  It’s time to rid your pantry and fridge of all the processed garbage that we pretend is food!  You know you should pitch it if:
1.    The front of the package sounds too good to be true.  Never trust the front of the package.  Find the nutrition facts for the real deal.  Remember, the first ingredient is in the greatest quantity and decreases from there.
2.    The ingredients list rivals the last novel you read in length.  Ok, I am talking to Moms here, it rivals the length of the last magazine article you read while going to the bathroom.
3.    It contains words you cannot pronounce.  Ok all you geniuses, just because you can say butylated hydroxyanisole, you still should not ingest it.
4. Anything artificial is listed like flavors, dyes, and artificial sweeteners.
5. It was not found in the grocery back when your mother was born and your great-grandmother would not recognize it as food like blue yogurt in a tube or Cheetos. 

You cannot eat anything that does not find a way home from the store with you, so just don’t buy the junk.  Go to the grocery armed with knowledge of the power of good nutrition and a full stomach to help resist temporary insanity in the chip aisle.

Just remember, it is best to start with addition of fruits and vegetable with your family.  For the best possible protection, bridge the gap between what you really eat and what you should eat with Juice Plus.  Next, subtract the junk food from your pantry.  That’s no place for the trash!  When it comes to nutritional math, begin with the addition of healthy foods before the subtraction of the garbage and you will multiply the health benefits for you and your family.

Angie, RN
Wife, mother, nurse, nutrition advocate and guest blogger

For more information on Juice Plus
And how to get it free for your kids check out my website:

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mommy Guilt

See this photo.

It makes me feel all lit up inside – I can’t believe that there are people out there who call me Professor Rawlings.  (In fact, I just have them call me Erin because Professor Rawlings makes it sound like I should sitting in a library filled with leather-bound books while I drink scotch and smoke a pipe).

I cannot believe that I am teaching again.  And not teaching English to a bunch of teenagers who could care less, but social media strategy to students that pay to be there.

Seriously?  Mind. Blown.

I took the job with much trepidation because I didn’t want anything to get in my way of being a good mom.  I was afraid to be committed to anything else but my kids. 

I was so nervous that I think I made up my mind not to love it before it even started.  If I loved something like a job, wouldn’t that take away my love that I have for my kids?  Wouldn’t it take up time that was meant for them? 

Well, after beginning my third semester a few weeks ago, I have to admit that I am really enjoying teaching again.  And it seems like the administration likes me since they have asked me to develop additional curriculum.  Not only do I like teaching, but it also gives me some sort of structure to get my blogging stuff done.  I do believe that this will help me achieve my goal of world domination while still wearing my pajamas.

I think I would be totally soaking up all this happiness and accomplishment if I didn’t feel so damn guilty about devoting time to something other than my kids.

In my mind, I was going to be a stay-at-home mom until Thomas was in kindergarten.  This stuff wasn’t supposed to happen this soon. 

I think my preconceived notion of what I thought motherhood would be like is the main factor of this particular brand of mommy guilt.  Kids are all consuming, but if you do your job right, they leave the nest - not all at once, but in little steps. I don’t want to be left wondering who I am if my whole identity is tied exclusively to being “Marie and Thomas’s Mom.”   On the flip side, I feel that I could totally get sucked into teaching and all the opportunities that come along with it.

So maybe the true factor in alleviating this mommy guilt is to find balance.  I so badly want to find the magic equation that will balance motherhood and career, but if I have learned anything, balance is all about trial and error.  Getting it right one day doesn’t mean I have figured out the secret code. 

How do you strike that balance between motherhood and whatever else makes you happy?  I could you a little pep talk . . .

Friday, July 5, 2013

Growing Up and 4th of July Traditions

When I was a kid, I LOVED the 4th of July.  My family would get together with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.  We anxiously awaited until it finally became dark since my Dad and his brother were way into pyrotechnics and *may* had procured some illegal fireworks.

This one time, they lit up a firework that spun in super fast circles, like a whirling dervish.  In it’s little dance, the wheel of fire spiraled up a car and over the roof, where it landed under the car.  We squealed in equal parts of delight and sheer terror.  Would the car explode?   Would the whole neighborhood go up in flames?  (Spoiler - no, the firework just stopped.  Totally anticlimactic).

My brother, cousins, and I wanted in on this action so when we were allowed to hold sparklers and “play with fire,”  it was like, the best thing ever!  Better than eating s’mores until the break of dawn.  Better than unlimited popsicles.

These memories are the blueprints for my 4th of July celebrations, however, I am the only person out of my brother and that set of cousins that still lives here.  Even though the “adults” still get together, we’ve slowly formed our own 4th of July traditions to ensure Marie and Thomas have their own blueprints that are filled with fun times with their friends.  

Growing up, I always thought that things would always be the same, traditions and family would never change.  

They never do stay the same.  And that is bittersweet.

Sometimes things work out in ways that you could never imagine.

And that is incredible.

Hope you had a happy holiday!

I die of cuteness.

The Gang

So excited to play with fire.

This. Is. Happening.

Writing her name in fire.  Kind of like Katniss.

About 30 seconds before his sparkler went rogue and the sparks
ended up on his hand. He now has blisters.
And I will be collecting my Mother of the Year award.

The Girls.