I have completely fallen off the blogging bandwagon since January. Let me tell you, I’ve thought about you and this blog many times, but transitioning out of the military, being a mom, and finding work (and working my Jamberry Nails business) have really consumed my every waking moment. Regardless, I am extremely thrilled to be back at Hillsdale College. This little community has really welcomed hubby and I back with open arms. Indeed, I’m tutoring Greek with the Classics Department and I’m offering a few classes both on campus and in the local area.


If you live in Hillsdale, Jonesville, Allen, Litchfield, Moscow, Quincy, and Coldwater, Michigan, areas, please check out my Pilates and yoga classes at the Goodlife Yoga Center (the new term has begun, so don’t miss out on lengthening, strengthening, and de-stressing!) and Hillsdale College (contact the school for details). I’d love to see you!


I am working on ideas to revamp my blog, as I feel it’s time to switch things up, and would love input. What would you like to see? Share your thoughts and opinions!!!!

I apologize for not putting out a post last week. I got clobbered with a sinus cold, which on top of being (seemingly) perpetually sick (again) this pregnancy and a teething infant will knock anyone flat on their back. However, through the use of essential oils (lemon, peppermint, and ginger mainly), I managed to defeat the crud after 4 days. Had I been able to use doTERRA’s protective blend, OnGuard, it might have been sooner, but there are certain oils one has to avoid while pregnant and some of those are in it.


But I’m back with this month’s doTERRA specials:




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Feel free to visit my website for more information on these products, and always feel free to shoot me a message with any questions you might have on products, preferred memberships, and becoming an wellness advocate!


And now onward….


Since my daughter was six months, I’ve introduced solid foods to her. Like many parents, I’d done some research about which way I wanted to go. I was really interested in baby-led weaning (BLW) but honestly had no idea where to begin to find good resources on the subject, and I didn’t know which of my friends were using that method of introduction. So I went with spoon-feeding purees.


It has been a frustrating experience, honestly. I initially went all out, making purees from fruits and veggies and trying to stuff them in her, with the occasional dose of yogurt added. Some things she liked right away. Many of them she’d tolerate. But in the end, almost all of them she spit back out, especially when her interest for what mama and daddy were eating grew.


So I began hand-feeding her bits of whatever I felt was nutritious for her with, again, varying results. Most meals, I felt frustrated. So did my daughter, I think, because she wanted to do it herself.


Now children are hardwired to learn how to do things from the time they’re born–rolling to sitting to crawling to walking–and while they need some help sometimes from the parents, the learning curve is largely left up to how fast they’re going to figure it out and do it. So it’s rather backwards of parents to seize control of the eating part of this learning process by dictating what foods their kids should eat (at this stage). Okay, in general we do know what is nutritious…but so do babies, and they know exactly what they need when. Trust me. Blueberries are packed with good things for you but if a baby doesn’t want to eat them, they won’t no matter how hard you try.


Linked to Amazon

Linked to Amazon

Enter Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods and Helping Your Baby to Grow Up a Happy and Confident Eater, by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett. I was introduced to this book a few months ago by a friend who announced that this would be her basic BLW guide as she began introducing solids to her son (though I didn’t purchase it till the beginning of this month). I was thrilled to know someone else who was planning on BLW and picked her brain about the best way to go through with it now that I’d started solids.


Let me stop here a moment to define what BLW is not. Weaning, as used here, is a British term for introducing foods to a baby, whereas in America it is used to describe the process of stopping breastfeeding. BLW is not about reducing breast milk to your child, which has many essential antibodies and benefits for them (even through the age of 2), but rather about teaching them how to eat good, nutritious food.


What is BLW? Basically, it’s putting a variety of foods before your baby and letting them examine them to their heart’s content till they are ready to try tasting them…and then letting them gum/chew the food till they figure out the mechanics of eating. This whole process, according to Rapley/Murkett, is akin to playing–and who wouldn’t want their kid to enjoy meal time?


There is a reduced risk of choking, according to Rapley/Murkett, because when babies first start learning how to eat, they still have their tongue reflex, an automatic mechanism that pushes away objects that threaten to go down their throat. At around six months, this begins to lessen/stop. The problem with purees and spoon-feeding, apparently, is that the foods are runny enough to bypass this safety reflex and the baby merely sucks food off a spoon, so when chunkier foods are introduced, they can often choke on chunks as they haven’t yet figured out how to chew.


This being said, I’ve got to admit that it is a messier way to do meal time. Rapley/Murkett offer some good suggestions for reducing mess, but until an infant learns how to keep food in their mouth, chew and swallow it, there is mess involved. On the upside of things, however, the messy stage is rather short-lived and accompanied by the necessary learning of the mechanics of the hands, mouth, and utensils (when introduced). Many BLW children are able to feed themselves well with utensils by 18-24 months–there are pictures in the book to prove it.


I’m really interested in seeing my daughter progress. Already, I feel like she’s eating more than she was before, even if half of the apple pulp comes back out 🙂 I’m hoping that BLW’s promise of infants being more adventurous eaters will happen soon, too, and am in the process of looking for easy-to-use/-wash dishware and utensils to help her practice! I will, as usual, do a follow up post at a later date. Until then, happy eating!

This past weekend I finished up the last class needed for my 200-RYT. I’ve got YogaFit to thank for not only giving me an affordable way to earn a yoga certification but also for being so supportive and helpful to both me and my husband regarding our daughter. Everyone loved her and gave his aching back a break by snatching her away when possible; and I was allowed to breastfeed on demand.

To put it bluntly, they’re awesome! And needless to say, the Wee One stole many hearts. If you’re looking into getting a yoga certification, check them out. They may appear to be non-traditional at first (I thought they were but needed a route I could afford at the time I started), but they really try to convey the essence of yoga in addition to giving you the tools necessary to teach in an infinite number of ways–that one way which is uniquely yours. They may or may not be the program you ultimately decide to go with but they have some great pros, including:

  • Pay as you go, per class
  • Great conventions
  • Experienced, kind instructors (and, sometimes, pets)
  • Excellent staff
  • They take the GI Bill and the military spouse MyCAA Scholarship
  • They offer the 200- and 500-hour RTY programs, and a 100-hour YogaFit for Warriors certification designed to help the military cope with the stresses of daily life, PTSD, trauma and so forth
  • It’s looking good for their therapy certification (crossing fingers the IAYT approves their program)
  • Classes are offered across the country, and in several countries too

I have had a hard time finding anything negative to say, but I suppose if there is anything, it would be that so much of their apparel and yoga accessories are cute and expensive. Still, with that said, I’ve had a great time earning my 200-RYT and hope to continue onward.

Switching tracks, below are some yummy recipes that have collected themselves in my inbox over the past month. Drool, save them, give them a try, and let me know how you like them!

Maple Butternut Squash Smoothie

Crock-pot Cinnamon Applesauce

Chewy Peanut Butter Banana Granola Bars

Apricot Banana Walnut Granola Bars

Coconut Cinnamon Raising French Toast w/Blueberry Yogurt Sauce

GF Muesli Breakfast Muffins

Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry

Southwestern Chicken Casserole

Healthy Loaded Sweet Potato Nachos with Guacamole

Spicy Detox Salad

Winter Warming Soups

Veg-friendly Bowls

Finish w/Something Sweet

Macadamia Chocolate Chip Cookies

Several months ago, I wrote a post about pregnancy (here) explaining my experience (thus far) and encouraging women that it was okay not to be the chipper, happy-go-lucky preggo lady society things we need to be. Frankly, pregnancy is hard, and harder on some than others. If you had an easy pregnancy, I envy you but am happy you didn’t have to experience mine. I vomited most of then 9+ months.


Last Tuesday, October 1, at 0834 our baby girl, Natalia Elizabeth, finally arrived! I labored for about 13 hours, pushing about one total, under the supervision of a very skilled, hilarious midwife and naval captain. The birthing team on deck that day was fabulous; in fact, everyone in Labor & Delivery (and the Multi-service Ward thereafter, where we stayed until discharged) were top notch. I feel very blessed to have delivered in a baby-friendly facility (and highly recommend finding one, if possible).



With regards to the labor and delivery, and subsequent stay thereafter, several rather amusing but eye-opening thoughts did pass through my head. I thought I’d share them with you. (Note: this may be too much information for some, but as I spent hours combing Google and baby forums for anything that would help me determine what the heck was going on, it might also be valuable.)


  • First and foremost, figuring out whether or not you’re in labor is confusing. There are so many indicators that may not indicate anything. Vaginal mucus discharge is one. It can be so thick and viscous, you aren’t sure whether or not you’ve lost your plug. (Note: heavy bleeding that soaks more than one pad an hour, or a discharge that is tan or green (or some other worrisome color), contact your doctor immediately.) I never quite figured out if I lost my plug. I merely kept waiting for labor to begin because, as I thought at the time, worrying about this kind of thing doesn’t help your body to relax in preparation for the approaching work.
  • You just might explode. Quite literally. I experienced a strong, somewhat painful popping sensation as the husband and I were driving back into town. I liken it to a fist suddenly punching through a latex balloon. A gush of fluid came next…and it turned out that it wasn’t my water breaking.
  • Husbands do panic, even combat veterans. Mine stepped on the accelerator the moment he realized I might have started going into labor. I had to calm him down in order to take some lead out of his food (and keep us from getting a ticket). Therefore, also remember that keeping your head despite whatever might happen is good for the both of you.
  • While 14 hours from start to finish is the average for labor, it can go faster than that. It can also go slower. And you might end up having to go to the hospital more than once. I did; twice, in fact, within five hours’ time. The second time, thankfully, they didn’t send me home though I wasn’t dilated enough (initially). As there was another labor in progress when I arrived, they forgot about me for a bit. By the time they checked on me again, I was halfway there!
  • Know what you want going into the birth. If you want to do it naturally, you MUST go into it with the mindset that you’ll see it through to the end, regardless of the pain (oh, the pain!), unless you and/or the baby are in distress. (Don’t be hardheaded if something does happen. It’s not your fault that you might need emergency care, and it will safe one or both lives.)
  • Somewhere in the middle of labor, you will reconsider having all those children.
  • Somewhere in the transitional phase of labor, you’ll realize that you’re almost there.
  • You know when you’re ready to push because your body will start doing it for you. Don’t hesitate. Get the nurse, doctor, midwife, whomever and go for it.
  • You will believe that the baby will never come out.
  • You will believe that the baby will get stuck permanently as it crowns.
  • You will believe that you sound like a dying cow, or worse.
  • Your husband may crack jokes with the hospital staff while you’re pushing. Try not to kill them. Laughter still is the best medicine for the soul, even if you’re not the one doing it. And God knows they need to laugh after the stress of watching you go through intense labor pains.
  • Your midwife or doctor may tell you afterwards that you push “like a gorilla.” (I’ll take that as a compliment, thanks.)
  • It is highly uncomfortable to wait for them to cut the cord. Their pressing on your belly feels even worse.
  • However, no matter how it looks when it arrives, the alien that had inhabited your body for nine-plus months will no longer gross you out (unlike in the birthing videos). You’ll be more than happy to hold him/her skin-to-skin, still slimy and all.
  • No matter how uncool it is, your husband may consider skipping around the room for joy. He may also take charge and do sponge baths, change poop diapers, and generally try to hold the baby as much as he possibly can, all the while wearing a cross between the goofiest teenage grin you’ve ever seen and a look of tenderness that melts the heart.
  • You will be known as “the Boob,” according to baby. Best get used to it.
  • You’ll have never realized that, as happy as you were before the baby was born, you could be many times happier until the moment your baby arrives. Smile and immerse yourself in the joy.
  • Take advantage of the wisdom of those who have gone before you, including fun lactation consultants who are considering dressing up as the Milk Fairy for Halloween.
  • Remember: pregnancy was preparation; birth is the beginning of an amazing, blessed journey.


And when they finally release you from the hospital? You can hardly believe they’re letting you take this precious bundle of joy home. You’re a bit fearful of driving away. One of you will end up in the back seat, just to watch…in case. Their little heads bob around. They make faces, cry, or fall asleep. And then they sleep a lot…and eat a lot…and make messy diapers…and then do it all again, around the clock.


And you’ll still find your love for them growing…

Natalia on her first day in daddy's hands

Natalia on her first day in daddy’s hands

All (well, most; I might have missed one or two) previous entries from Velvet Skies are now uploaded to this blog. I have to say, the process was much easier than I anticipated. Thank you, WordPress!


Many blessing and peace to you all! Happy MLK Jr. Day!

I’ve started a new blog in an effort to minimize confusion on my writing blog, Velvet Skies. Also, as I’m American Council On Exercise certified in Group Fitness and Lifestyle & Weight Management, and have a genuine love of both fitness and helping others, I thought another blog would benefit those who may want to read health and wellness topics I post without having to wade through my writing posts as well.


As you can see, this is a work in progress. I plan on transferring my older posts from Velvet Skies to this blog, so be on the look out! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!