Mom’s out of office autoreply

Dear… world,

If you have called, texted, emailed, messaged, or otherwise tried to get a hold of me in the last month, I am not ignoring you. I didn’t even lose my phone. It’s just that I have a one-year old, and I have been busy teaching her not to

grab Logan’s tail

pinch her fingers in the piano cover

unroll all the toilet paper

fall and hit her head on the bed frame (elliptical, kitchen chair, book shelf, etc.)

lick the floor

stick food up her nose

poke the dogs’ eyes

open the DVD tray on the computer

stick her hands in the dogs’ water bowls

put the end of the phone charger in her mouth

eat her own poop (yes, that actually happened)

feed the dogs onions or grapes


And I have been busy teaching her to…

laugh at silliness






drink from a cup

pet the dogs nicely



play on the piano

watch movies

make blanket forts


read books

enjoy food and cooking

play fetch with the dogs

pick up dirty clothes

put things away


SO, I will get back to you— during nap time. And if nap time doesn’t happen, my response may come the next day. If it doesn’t come the next day, you might want to send your message again. It’s not that I don’t love you. It’s just that my response doesn’t prevent your

diaper rash

hunger pangs


attack by angered dogs


pinched fingers

mental underdevelopment

social underdevelopment

spiritual underdevelopment

physical underdevelopment



and the like.



Denise (A.k.a. Mommy-still-in-training)


2014-02-04 09.01.30


Things Ending in -ies

If my life were a jeopardy category right now, it would be “Things Ending in -ies.”

Does anyone even watch that show any more? Didn’t a robot win it or something? Or was that Ken Jennings?

Anyway back to my category… I’ll have Things Ending in -ies for $2000, Alex!

My life consists of blankies, milkies, foodies, walkies, splashies, and all other sorts of other “cute-ified” words. With two dogs and a baby, it’s hard to find time for “adult thoughts.”  I have been consistently reading, even if it takes months to get through a book. I was reminded recently through another woman’s blog (What My Mother Taught Me) that even within this adorable, mind-numbing season of life, it is SO important not to lose sight of myself.

Even more importantly, not to lose sight of the “self” that God created me to be and to work with my family, friends, and church to find ways to keep those pieces of me alive through these baby years. I have been ruminating on these thoughts quite a bit and landed on three questions that I pose as safeguards against losing myself completely in the land of -ies.

1. Have I been in the Word and prayer today?
2. Did I hear God asking me to do something today– something to encourage someone else, to lead a younger believer, to communicate truth, to change myself, to grow beyond my comfort zone- and did I do it?
3. What do I believe God is teaching me right now in this season to prepare me to serve Him in the next season?

It’s hard to keep up with all you folks who aren’t swimming in -ies, harder than I ever imagined it would be! (Of course, one of the beautiful lessons that I’m already learning is that there is no need to keep up. I am in this season now and it is perfectly where I am supposed to be (so freeing!).) Nevertheless, I desire to remain connected and grow spiritually, intellectually, physically, and emotionally at the pace that this season allows. I am thankful for the technology and time that we live in which allows for this to be an option.

Moms, how do you stay connected and growing through the little years? Not Moms, how do you think you can help moms from drowning in the -ies?

Seasons for Growth

Seasons for Growth

To All My Single Ladies

Dear Single or Married-yet-without-kids Women,

I have a few things I’d like to share from my heart. Because five months ago… I just didn’t know. In the same breath, I’d like to offer a confession to moms who have gone before me and words of caution for those coming behind me.

When I was where you are now, single (or married w/o kiddos) and working, I used to think- erroneously- that being a stay at home mom was boring. I wondered what my friends who stayed home DID all day. This was never in a mean spirit or in judgment, I honestly just wondered!

So I’d like to let you into my day- partially to inform you, partially to warn you- er, prepare you- to have realistic expectations if you day dream of staying at home one day.

7:00 AM (Sometimes earlier) I wake up to fresh made coffee (because my husband is a saint) and a squawking sweetie (that’s my baby, not my hubbs 😉 ).
Change Liliana’s diaper and nurse. Shove coffee and food in my face as fast as possible.
7:30 AM Make hubb’s lunch, take dogs down for potty, feed dogs.
8:00 AM Walk dogs.
8:30 AM Put Lili in Exer-Saucer and hopefully get a shower if she’s compliant.
9:00 AM Nurse Lili and try to convince her that she really DOES need her morning nap (she’s getting better at this-hooray!).
10:00 AM (If Lili naps) Pick up the house from the night before, think about dinner, think about whatever house cleaning needs to be done that day, write a blog, check Facebook, think about working out). Usually just the house picking up actually gets done 🙂
11:00 AM Nurse Lili and entertain her- read books, work on rolling over, generally try to keep her from crying.
12:30 PM Eat lunch whether Lili is crying or not. Eating actually entertains her right now, which is a great excuse to do it…Maybe THAT’s why those last five pounds don’t come off ;).
2:00 PM Nurse Lili and try to convince her that her afternoon nap is a good idea!
3:00 PM Get completely and totally stir crazy and start counting the minutes until Daddy comes home. Start thinking about dinner.
4:30 PM Cook dinner while trying to time it right for when Daddy gets home.
5:30 or 6:30 PM Daddy gets home. He walks the dogs and feeds them.
6:00 PM Lili nurses again and maybe takes a catnap.
7:15 PM Get bath ready. Give Lili a splashie, read a nigh-nigh book, nurse Lili, put Lili to sleep.
8:00 PM Clean up dinner, do dishes, get in any Hubby time as possible.
9:00 PM Usually watch the evening news or crash into bed and check Facebook.


Those are the “easy” days when we get to just be home. Once a week we also have to fit going to the grocery store somewhere in the schedule and other errands on other days. Fortunately Lili is very accommodating and makes my life much easier than I’ve heard other babies can.

A few survival mechanisms that I feel like I may try in the near future is getting up a little earlier every day to work out (but I swear, Lili can SMELL me- as soon as I wake up, I feel like she senses me and wakes up) and try to do the house clean up more consistently at night.


Photo Source:

Now, of UTMOST importance, ladies, I am NOT complaining. I just wanted to share my experiences up to this point because it isn’t all naps and snuggles, rainbows and sunshine. There’s a whole lot of giving and balancing and juggling and exhaustion mixed in with all the smiles, kisses, and love. Maybe you are smarter than me and have already realized that before. I think I knew it in my head before I was living it too, but I still wasn’t prepared.

My hope is that this gives you a more complete picture of what being a stay at home mom may mean for you some day and alleviate some of your questions in the meantime.



Tongue Sit-ups

Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?

To think before you speak.

Mine did, and I’ve been thinking recently just how much I still need to learn how to put that advice into practice. Sometimes, I find myself saying the dumbest things! The first time I heard the phrase “word vomit” I knew I had found the exact words I needed to describe what comes out of my mouth more often that I care to admit. We giggle when we think of the “darndest things” that kids say, but isn’t it true that sometimes we say things that are “darndest” too?

I was at the park yesterday with a few of my good friends. One of my friends kiddos was off playing at the park when another little girl used some rather unkind words toward her. My friend informed this little girl that her words were not kind and in fact she was being rude! Don’tcha just wish you could grab their chubby little cheeks and say, “Didn’t your mama ever tell ya?!”

As moms, it is SO important to teach our children the power of our words.

The words that we say are the most direct and forthright method of conveying our thoughts and feelings. My words can build up or tear down another human being. That is a lot of responsibility and immense power!


Proverbs 18:21

The consequences can be positive or negative. I wish we could just do tongue sit-ups to reign in our loose tongues and make sure we are constantly delivering life through our words. Don’t you?

A good place to start reigning in our tongues is to think before you speak. My fifth grade teacher, Ms. Wohlenhaus taught us to ask three things before we opened our pieholes. I deliver them here to you.

Is it TRUE?

Is it KIND?


Let’s try to bring life through our words this week and teach our kiddos to do the same.

Know Nutrition? or No Nutrition?

As moms, we often bear the lion’s share of providing food for our family. We tend to put so much pressure on ourselves to provide the healthiest possible menu and/or lay guilt on ourselves when we think we don’t. As a mom with a Masters of Nutrition Science, let me help relieve some of your angst by letting you in on a little secret that the “nutrition establishment” may not want you to know.

Nutrition is more of a philosophy than a science.


Don’t believe me? Ask two graduates of the exact same program their opinion on high fructose corn syrup and you’re likely to get two (or more!) different answers.

Start a discussion on Facebook about what “healthy” means and you will get responses that vary considerably.

Is meat good or should I be a vegetarian?

Should I take a multivitamin or only get my nutrition from foods?

Are fruits and vegetables good for me? Or only vegetables?

Should I eat whole grains or is all wheat (gluten) bad for me?

I could go on and on and on and on… because everyone has their own philosophy.

Why is nutrition so tricky?  Why, after having studied nutrition for 6 years (B.S. and M.S. Nutrition Science), do I know that we have more questions than answers? Here’s a bit of the inside scoop on why nutrition is so confusing and controversial.

1. Most nutrition research is based on observational, rather than intervention studies.

There are several different types of research studies. Each type offers a different level of “certainty” that can be stated from the conclusions. For example, a researcher performs a clinical trial investigating the effects of a new pharmaceutical drug that may lower blood pressures.  They recruit 50 participants suffering from high blood pressure into the study and they divide them into two groups. One group is given the intervention (the pharmaceutical drug); The other group is given a placebo (a sugar pill, essentially, that looks similar to the intervention but has no actual medicine in it). The results are that the intervention group see a reduction in their blood pressure over the duration of the study.  This is the “gold standard” of research – a clinical trial that can (for the most part, but still with a few caveats) prove causation of an action. Participant has high blood pressure- takes pill- reduces blood pressure.

VERY FEW-almost NO nutrition knowledge is based on straightforward clinical trial research studies. Instead, most nutrition knowledge is based on observational studies or epidemiological studies. In this type of study, a group of people (usually in the tens of thousands (20,000; 40,000; 50,000 etc) ) are recruited to participate in research via filling out a survey every ten years OR data is mined from large databases or other studies such as the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey). These data can be used to draw correlations, but not causation. For example, this group of 3,000 participants consumed more whole grains and experienced lower rates of cardiovascular disease. That is interesting, perhaps whole grains lower the risk of heart disease.

There are many great reasons why most nutrition knowledge is gathered this way, but that is another whole topic! Suffice it to say for now, that it is difficult to make “for sure” statements in the world of nutrition research.

2. Nutrition is intricate.

Oh yes, I’m going to go there– let’s look at High Fructose Corn Syrup for a minute. Do a web search for HFCS and you will find everything from “5 reasons HFCS will kill you” to “High-Fructose Corn Syrup Is Bad For Everything: It Might Be Killing The Bees.”

Let’s get detailed.

What is the difference between sugar (sucrose) and High Fructose Corn Syrup?

One chemical bond.

Both sugar and HFCS are made up of roughly the same ratio of two molecules- glucose and fructose. Sugar is a perfect 50:50 mix and the glucose and fructose molecules are bonded together through one carbon linkage. HFCS is usually a 55% fructose and 42% glucose mix in foods like soft drinks or about 42% fructose and 53% glucose in foods like baked goods. (You can see the name HIGH Fructose Corn Syrup can be slightly misleading. Fructose may be higher or glucose may be higher.) But a major difference lies in the fact that the fructose and glucose molecules are NOT linked together.

So, how do we determine whether or not HFCS is as evil as activists would like us to believe? We feed it to rats. We feed it to humans. We watch and try to draw conclusions.  The problem here is that HFCS has only been around since the 1950’s and we’ve only been doing research on it for even less time. This means that the body of evidence (all of the research related to HFCS consumption and health) is extremely young, inconclusive, and changing every day. This article is a good example of the contradictory nature of research because of variations in study design and other factors: Sucrose, High-Fructose Corn Syrup, and Fructose, Their Metabolism and Potential Health Effects: What Do We Really Know? This article demonstrates why it is important to use logic and common sense in the short-term while science tries to piece together answers. Logically, it is more likely that any added sugar (HFCS or sugar) will contribute to negative health impacts, rather than HFCS being an evil, manmade death bullet.  And the better approach to staying healthy is to try to reduce added sugars whenever possible.

But the jury is still out? …

3. Food is more than Nutrition.

Lastly, why do we eat? We eat to nourish our bodies, yes, but we also

eat for enjoyment.

We eat for celebration.

We eat because we’re bored.

We eat a certain way to identify with a certain crowd.

We eat to fit in.

We eat to define our status.

We eat what is available.

We eat what is popular in our culture.

We eat what we grow.

We eat because someone offered us food.

We eat to remember.

We eat to forget.

There are a million, bijillion different reasons that we eat, which is why I can have all of the nutrition knowledge in the world, and still choose to eat cake. When it comes to nutrition, our knowledge frequently outweighs our practice.

But I hope this blog has helped to alleviate the idea that one nutrition philosophy is superior to all. I hope you trust yourself more and question the experts more.  I hope you doubt yourself less and take the latest research fad with a grain of salt (:pun intended!). It is important as we raise our families not to make our children afraid of food, but to celebrate food for all of the things that it is in our lives. Food is tradition. Food is a blessing! Food makes us stronger. Trust your judgement when it comes to your family’s nutrition and enjoy. your. food!

If you STILL don’t believe me that nutrition is a matter of interpretation and philosophy, just ask Bill Cosby…

The Day I Added Mom to My Resume

However it happened to you, it was a big day in your life.  I had to say it several times out loud before it really sank in- I. Am. A. Mom. No two stories are alike, but this one is ours.

Liliana is now three months old and learning new things each day, but a few short weeks ago she was still growing inside my belly.  This is her birth story and
THIS is a final warning for anyone who doesn’t want to read detaills of how this sweet little girl got here. If you DO want to know, scroll down.

Liliana Hope, 2 months old

Liliana Hope, 2 months old

My due date was March 13th and when that day came and went, the waiting really began. My midwife had a scheduled vacation that put her out of town until March 20th, so we had an induction set for the 21st if Liliana had not arrived by then.  I really, really, really didn’t want my first birth experience to begin as an induction so I was hoping and praying that things would get going naturally. I had had NO signs of impending labor- never really had Braxton-Hicks, was only dilated about a 1 any time I had been checked at the clinic and never lost my plug. SO when I woke up around 5:30 AM on Monday morning, March 18th with contractions, I was ECSTATIC.

I went to the bathroom and kind of walked around because I didn’t know if what I was feeling was contractions, but after a few, I convinced myself that I was. I flung open the bedroom door and said, “Honey, I think I’m having contractions.”  I believe his response was, “Now?!”

Adam had put a contraction tracking app on his phone, so he whipped that out and started timing.  They were coming every 3 to 5 minutes, but they were only about 30 seconds long. It was snow storming- one of our many snow dumps this season- and we were getting into rush hour traffic time.  We checked google maps, and it said it would be about an hour to get to the hospital. I wasn’t interested in this option because sitting made the contractions hurt worse, so we decided to wait it out as long as we thought was safe. The dogs needed their morning walk anyway, and that sounded like a good distraction.  We ventured out on our last walk through the park as a family of four. It was so wonderfully peaceful- a perfect way to begin labor.

We took a snowy morning walk with the dogs during early labor, stopping to breath through the periodic contraction.

We took a snowy morning walk with the dogs during early labor, stopping to breath through the periodic contraction.

We labored at home until about 10 AM after traffic had cleared and google maps was telling us it would only take the normal 20 minutes to get to the hospital. I remember specifically doing the math that this would entail approximately four contractions seated. I remember being afraid that the hospital would check me and send us home, multiplying that to 12 seated contractions over the course of three car rides.

We arrived at the hospital, and I was only dilated to about 2 and 1/2. I thought for SURE they were going to send us home, but they admitted us!  We even were able to get into the water birthing room.  I was super relieved. Adam was helping me get through each contraction, and I think I was actually enjoying labor. It was such an exciting time.

We met our labor nurse. Her name was Mary (My mom’s name- comforting). She hooked me up to the monitors and helped us get situated using the birthing ball. My midwife was obviously still on vacation so I had no idea who would be attending the birth. I wasn’t thrilled about that part, but I knew when it came time to deliver, I probably wouldn’t care much.

Progress was pretty slow. About 3 1/2 hours later, I was only dilated to about 5.  Somewhere in there my water broke, which was a very strange feeling. The nurse saw meconium in the fluid, so a pediatric specialist was called to be on hand when Lili arrived to make sure she was a-ok.

I also tried the water birthing tub and ended up really disliking it.  It was a very deep tub with no great place to get ahold of it.  I felt like a flopping fish during contractions.  That only lasted two contractions and it was back to the birthing ball.  Adam would support under my arms during each contraction, and I would push up on him to get a really deep breath.  There was LOTS of loud noises. The birthing ball worked amazingly for Adam and I.

After the tub, still around 5 centimeters, the nurse and doc started being kind of passive agressive about my choice to not take any meds.  Both were “concerned” that I was going to get too tired to push and mentioned that I should “think about my options for pain management.” I got pretty annoyed at them and apparently so did my cervix because it popped from a 5 to a 9 in about an hour.  When the nurse said, “Ok, it’s time to push, but don’t push yet- wait for the doctor.” I was a little shocked, but I knew we’d made it.

I was NOT prepared for the pushing part.  Adam and I had gotten efficient at breathing through the contractions, and I was feeling pretty comfortable for a woman in labor.  But the pushing- oi.  I had to be on my back on the bed- first problem.  Second problem was that I had a hard time transitioning my brain from breath with the contractions and make lots of noise to don’t breath during the contraction at all and don’t make any noise.  It was tough. The doc (who ended up being an ob-gyn that I had happened to see once during my pregnancy) kept trying different things to help me focus my pushing, which really annoyed me to be frank.  The one technique that seemed to work the best was basically tug-of-war with the doc. She had one end of the towel and I had the other. When a contraction came, I focused on pulling on the towel which guided the pushing to the correct spot in my abdomen. BUT it was super exhausting. I don’t really remember much detail here, but I remember thinking when Lili was coming that she had to come “right now” something to the effect of, “Ok honey, this is your mama talking- now get out!” I pushed for around an hour and a half, and Lili arrived at 4:36 PM.

She was perfect with no complications whatsoever, 6 pounds, 12 ounces- beautiful baby girl.

The doc ended up giving me an episiotomy, resulting in a third degree separation of my bottom (still not sure if it was a combo of episiotomy and tear or just the cut) (If you want more detail about how bad 3rd degree, you’ll have to ask personally- it was no fun).

The rest of the night is really blurry to me. My body was a trooper through labor and delivery, but decided to quit right after Lili arrived. I had a postpartum hemorrhage and started shaking uncontrollably.  I got a sudden fever.  Since I hadn’t had any pain meds, I also didn’t have an I.V. The nurse gave me a bag or maybe two of saline water to rehydrate me, and that did the trick. It seems I had gotten dehydrated.

We were in recovery until about 10:30 PM because of the slight complications.  I vividly remember the wheel chair ride from Labor and Delivery up to the postpartum room. I felt like I WAS on pain meds- sort of delirious. As we went through the hallways and I held my baby girl in my arms, I felt like I was in a dream.

My “recovery meal” from labor?  Pizza. It’s what I always eat after a marathon.