Wednesday, September 16, 2015

365 days....

I couldn’t sleep this morning.

We are currently in Hawaii vacationing and this morning I was up at 5am… With zero chance of falling back asleep.

Today is important day.

This morning a lot was on my mind.
Have you ever thought back on your opinions of being a parent before you were ever actually a parent?
I do this at times when I need to have a good laugh – or remind myself that I have evolved. That people evolve.

One thing (pre-kids) I was passionate about was naming my children after loved ones. I would say I had a fixed mindset with this. I didn’t think anything would change my mind. I would have kids and then they would be named after someone. End of story.

Mason came along and naturally we named him after someone – His father. Mason Gregory. Strong name for a strong boy.

There is a four year gap in between our children. Those four years changed and challenged everything.

When it was time to name our beautiful little girl we struggled.

It came so easy when we named Mason. Kendall took hours of discussion. In fact she wasn’t named until we met her. We went into the hospital with a list and came out with a perfectly named and beautiful child.

Kendall Grace. Not named after anyone.

GRACE. The only middle name that fit.
Believer or not you may think this is cliché.
Maybe I sort of get it but I honestly don’t care.

Kendall Grace is MY GRACE. She reminds me to have more Grace. Be GRACE. Show Grace.

This might just heal the world, mend relationships and sooth the inter turmoil that lives in a lot of us. It might just be able to grease the machine of humanity vs grinding it to a halt.
GRACE. It reminds us that we are all brothers and sisters.  No one higher than the other. We are people who need to love each other.
I am no bible scholar but isn’t that the way Jesus came, and isn’t this what saved our souls….

Kendall is THREE (where does the time go).

Jesus has and continues to show me GRACE.
I believe forgiveness and having GRACE for others is the most powerful thing you can do to heal hurt. Heal yourself. Heal one and other. 
(Even though I try, I still fail miserably. But that does not and will not keep me from trying to live a life full of GRACE)

We serve an AMAZING GOD and it we let him he will radically change our life. He will show you, me – US GRACE like we have never witnessed.

Today marks 365 days since Rowyn Leea gained her angel wings.

When I think of Rowyn’s legacy. I think of GRACE.
This is shown in the strength, bond and friendship between two women – Brynn and Cassie. These women render me speechless and show each of US a living breathing example of true human GRACE.(If you have not yet done so read the story of Rowyn Leea and learn how these women have shown GRACE in the past 365 days

Today is the one year anniversary. I ask you to pray for these families. I ask you to support the work they are doing to heal themselves and others who face similar tragedies.  I ask you to think about how you show, receive and give GRACE in your life. With your people.

SHOP. I ask you to shop.
A portion of the proceeds form this months sales goes to support this very worthy cause. 

Since I could not sleep this morning. 
I used that time to sit alone. Watch the sunrise (It was GLORIOUS) 

I also felt that it was fair that I spent sometime to reflect and think about GRACE in my life. I wasn’t too happy with what I found…
I struggle with an impulse to critique, to deconstruct, to dismantle.
I too easily write people off and assume the worst.
I am UNDOUBTEDLY my own worst enemy.
I see SHARP edges that need to be softened and each problem I face has the same answer. MORE GRACE.

I don’t think I can think of one horrible fight disagreement that Greg and I have had that GRACE couldn’t have unscrambled in a hot minute.
Every bit of tension, lessened.
Every misunderstanding, truncated.
I will stop expecting him to read my mind. 
I will use my words (my goodness I sound like I am parenting myself). 
I will stop expecting that he meets all of my needs.  
I will stop expecting that he decodes my body language (even though I must add… I am pretty animated).

We were kids with NO idea what the future had in-store with us.

We have logged 11 years of marriage and 18 years as BEST friends. These years together deserve more mercy, apologies, and celebrating.

We wont ever be the lovely dovey couple that writes mushy things on facebook. That is not really our style. Will we ever re-new our vows? Doubtful.

These things are ok. 
Because we are us.

One thing I think stands for certain in our marriage and yours (just might look differently) all of our JUNK can be soothed if not sorted out by the simple addition of more GRACE.
(What I hear you say is my unwillingness to add things into not only my work calendar but our shared icalendar makes you want to throw my phone in the ocean) 

If there is one title I LOVE in my life it is the one of MOM.
That said. I am going to try to lead with GRACE for my kids.

I hope to laugh first, listen longer, forgive quicker and surprise them with Mercy.
I will attempt to find the gracious response. Even in discipline. Even in exhaustion. Even in PULL YOUR HAIR OUT MOMENTS. For instance. If a daughter – hypothetically speaking,  Doesn’t want to poo on the toilet. I imagine that GRACE could be found somewhere in here… I have struggled to find patience and grace in situations similar. Hypothetically of course.

I think we all sort of have it on some level. That inner voice.
Mine battles with me day and night. I am done listening to her. 
She is the one who whispers to me – All hope is lost, you can do more, you are not good enough… 
Well isn’t that disabling?!?!?!

The bose commercial with Russell Wilson even addresses this “The only voice that matters is the one in your head”. Well it is time to adjust her commentary.

I will start by naming all the lovely things, the beautiful moments, and the GOOD parts.
My SMALL victories deserve to be noticed.

FOR THE LOVE…. (read the book).

None of us are good at EVERYTHING but we are all good at something. Lets honor and celebrate our own gifts and others gifts. Let’s quit trying to keep up with the “Jones” through talents and recognize what we can and can not do- Lets be ok with things we cant do and celebrate others when they can – GO THEM!!!

I have looked. THERE is no rule that requires us to focus on what we get wrong or cant do…. 

There is ALWAYS something worthy to honor if we are brave enough to live like that.

Jen Hatmaker sums it up with ONE paragraph “Show GRACE to ourselves, because how dare we rob our transformed hearts of the mercy Jesus won for us already. Living in guilt and despair is such a drag. There is too much goodness, too much love, too much prosperity to go on like that. ENOUGH of it. Let us LIVE in the wide open spaces we have been granted and laugh and dance and celebrate and notice the ordinary little wonders we are conditioned to minimize”.

If doing it for myself is not a good enough reason then I will do it for a beautiful little girl who was loved so much.
For when I think of her I think of GRACE.

As life carries on, I hope my edges soften and my defense weakens.
I don’t want to be the arm chair quarterback that suffocates people with critiques. That is exhausting and numbing. So many of us are trying. That deserves GRACE.

GRACE is the beginning of freedom, and there isn’t a corner of earth that doesn’t need more of it.

Let’s help GIVE IT!

Friday, February 20, 2015


When exposed to (emotional or physical) trauma the body deploys its own defense system.
From the FIRST second the brain receives the signal that a catastrophe has occurred. The blood rushes to the organ that needs help the most.
Blood flows to the muscles. To the organs. To the brain.
The brain then makes a decision for the rest of the body.
Either face the danger or run away.
It is a mechanism designed to protect the body from harm.
We call it shock.

I think I am coming to the realization that I live my life in a constant state of shock.
Everyday I choose to stay and face the danger.

The memories. The flash backs. The constant fear. It never goes away. I even think the older Mason gets the more terrifying losing him is. I honestly am so exhausted from the sheer thought.

I don't know how I could live in this world should one of my children leave it.

Y’all are too gracious with me. (YES I said Y'all. I am trying to keep it light. For me not you.)
Your compliments about my strength are kind. And as kind as they are they sometimes make me feel like a fraud because on days like today or days like yesterday I don’t feel strong and I am a complete mess.  SERIOUSLY A MESS.

In fact if you have seen me you may or may not have noticed the tear lines in my make up or the bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and worry.  It is a small miracle if I make it a few hours without crying. (Told you. I am a mess).

You are probably thinking. Wait I just saw her. She seemed fine or she is smiling on FB.
But lets be real...  We don't normally share the hard everyday stuff with our "friends" on facebook. If I did your news feed might be filled with status updates like this: 
  • #crymeariver
  • Time to re-apply the make up #thetearswontstop
  • Here I go again #emotionalrollercoaster
  • Is it time for a nap? #iwanttogobacktobed
  • Today's to do list: stay in PJ's and eat icecream #wanttojoinme #BYOT = #bringyourowntissues
I think you get the point.

I have such a LOVE HATE relationship with social media.

Let me get to my point. You are probably wondering why I am so emotional.I blame it on two things:


An article was just published by The National Center for Birth Defects and Disabilities (NCBDD). This article detailed the survival rates of children born with all different congenital defects. The one that claims the most lives???? You guessed it.... HLHS. 
This study shows that children born with HLHS have a 50% chance of survival until the age of 8. Awesome. Mason is 6 I have another 2 years until his chances of survival increase?????

I am not even sure how to articulate how I feel about this except to say that it not only sucks but it is scary... AND I HATE THAT this horrible disease could claim my son’s life.  
We live a somewhat normal chaotic life and I wish I could unread this article and go back to what I thought the statics said (70% over the age of 5). 
In this case I would have chosen ignorance. 


Mason goes in next Tuesday for a non-heart related surgery. Seriously people this should be no big deal and one would think I would handle it like a pro. After all I have handed him over for not one, not two but THREE major open heart surgeries and numerous other smaller surgeries. This one should be a piece of cake.  
But it is not. We went in yesterday for his pre-op appointment and walking back into the surgery center felt too familiar. The smells. The people. The halls. Brings everything back. And I can’t help it. 
I become a walking crying time bomb. 
Watch out I could burst into tears at any given second.

Thankfully I have learned to hold myself together until I am in a “safe” place but this time it was in the car in front of Mason and a child should not see their parent crying because they are worried about a procedure they are about to have. 
Major fail Kelsey! So I smile through the tears and put on a happy face.

So there you have it folks. 
This is the truth. 
This week we appear normal on the outside but get into our car or step inside our home and you will find it is anything but a normal week. we are literally on an emotional roller coaster driven by me.

Since I want to leave you on a happier note I will share with you something that makes me beyond happy....

The WHITE denim has been freed from my closet and YES, white denim makes me happy!!!!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

CHD Awareness week!

Mason - Zipper free

Saturday, January 10, 2015

WHY WE LIMIT SUGAR in our kids diet....

Okay. You have probably noticed from my social media posts that we have been experiencing with sugar free recipes so I thought before I shared some of our favorite sugar free or limited sugar recipes (including the MOST amazing almost-sugar free ice-cream recipe) I would explain why since this is usually the first question anyone asks…

My Daughter Kendall has been throwing the most horrific tantrums. Not normal, out of body tantrums. They seriously make me feel like we are failing as her parents. 
I know tantrums are normal in young kids but I would venture to bet Kendall’s are on the worse side of the spectrum.

Of course these tantrums don’t get blasted all over social media so when you see her in photos you see a spirited beautiful little girl which she OF COURSE IS but when she is in the middle of her tantrum there is NO reasoning with her and it is almost impossible to help her calm down. 
That beautiful sweet little girl disappears and it breaks my heart.

Here she is. Throwing a fit. Notice how it is NOT phasing the others. Yay. They are pretty used to it. Looks fun right?

If there has been an article written about how to manage the terrible two’s / threes or how to manage a tantrum I have probably read it. I literally read no less than one article related to this topic a day. 
Books have also been explored.

Going sugar free came out of desperation. It was not because I wanted to be some cool mom following a new trend.  I was willing to try anything to help my daughter better control her emotions thus bringing down the amount of tantrums she would throw. That was my only hope in this process. 

The results:
I can’t say there was an immediate change but after a week there was NO DENYING that eliminating/cutting back on sugar in her diet significantly decreased her tantrums. like SERIOUSLY.
Greg and I still can’t believe the difference it has made.

Once we saw how it changed her behavior we really had NO choice. We were all in.

Greg and I got to work and cleaned out our pantry of ALL things that we felt like had an excess of sugar. By far the hardest thing we cut out was Cereal.
Mornings in our house can be early, rushed and chaotic. They liked cereal. It was fast and since I thought I was only feeding them the “healthy” kind I approved.
But after I researched how much sugar was in their cereal I had to remove it from their diets which now commits us to making them a hot breakfast each morning. You want some comic relief come to my house say around 6:30am…(FIRE DRILL and getting back into the routine from Christmas break has been PAINFUL).

After we committed it was then time for me to do some more sugar research. Here are a few things I learned: (Thank you American Heart Association)
  • American teens are consuming a WHOOPING 28 teaspoons of added sugar a day! (This is close to 500 calories just from added sugar, or the equivalent of three, 12 ounce cans of soda)
  •  “Added sugar is ANY kind of sugar added during food processing or by the consumer at the point of consumption” / Added sugars are considered to be high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, corn syrup, corn sugar, dextrose and crystalline frusctose. (these are the most common names – Sugar actually is disguised in your food under 57 other names)
  • YES. There is sugar in fruit. In my option I don’t think all sugars should be treated equally. Kendall still eats plenty of sugar through fruits. We don’t limit this type of sugar. We only limit refined sugar.
  • So know you are probably wondering what refined sugar is… Here is my explanation:
    • When sugar is manufactured it involves a process called refining during which impurities and colored components are removed. The starting product called raw sugar is softened and dissolved. The components are then separated to yield the white, pure sugar that you would recognize in your cupboard. Of course during the refinement process you get either: Granulated sugar, powdered sugar, sanding sugar, and super refined sugar.
    •   Refined sugars offer only EMPTY calories and they lack other nutrients and minerals. In addition, they can drain the body of nutrients because they are hard to digest. Refined sugars again are packed under 57 different names.

-           So the next thing I had to figure out is how much sugar is Kendall supposed to have. Here are the guidelines from The American Heart Association:
  •              Pre-School children averaging 1,200-1,400 calories per day should only have no more than 4 teaspoons (16 grams) per day.
  •       Children ages 4-8 who average 1,600 calories per day should limit added sugar to about 3 teaspoons (12 grams) a day.  To fit in all the nutritional requirements for this age group, there are fewer available for added sugar.
  •       Pre-teen and teens averaging 1,800-2,000 calories per day should not have more than 5-8 teaspoons (20-32 grams) of added sugar. (REMEMBER WHAT THE AVERAGE CURRENTLY IS FOR TEENAGERS? 28 teaspoons or 112 grams)
  •       1 teaspoon = 4 grams

Clearly if you do what I did and take a deeper look at what you are feeding your kids (even if you think it is the healthier option) you will find that you are feeding them more sugar than you think.
A quick snapshot of what Kendall ate prior:
  •  Kellogg’s Special K – Red Berries: One bowl of cereal = 18grams of sugar. At breakfast she would eat more than her recommended daily limit.
  • Lunchable: 5 gram of sugar (this is without the added piece of candy or cookie)
  • Caprisun roaring water (you know the flavored water beverage) = 8 grams per pouch
  • Go-Gurt = 9 grams of added sugar
  • One 8 oz cup of apple juice = 28g of refined added sugar. (I am sorry. My mistake I thought apples were naturally sweet?!?!?!)
  • Whole wheat bread. One slice = 2 grams of added sugar
  • Sun Chips (individual bags) = 4 grams of added sugar.
  • Starbucks pumpkin loaf=39 grams of added sugar
  • Starbucks Lemon Loaf = 42 grams

Prior to getting rid of these foods from her diet it wouldn't be a weird day if she would have eaten all of the above prior to dinner (with one exception she either got a lemon loaf OR pumpkin loaf at Starbucks but not both).

Her diet prior to lunch looked like the following:
  • Breakfast: Special K red berries
  • School Snack: Animal Crackers (served by the school)
  • Lunch: Turkey Sandwich or lunchable with carrots, ranch, go-gurt, sun chips, Fruit (apple or orange) served with a Capri sun.
  • After School Snack: Starbucks (Lemon Loaf or Pumpkin Loaf)

I did the math for you…

Prior to cutting back on sugar we were feeding our daughter 115 grams of added sugar and this isnt including any sugar that would have been served with dinner!

I don’t mean to be dramatic but what an eye opening experience this has been for me. It almost took my breath away and I felt like we were poisoning her (enter dramatic music).

But in all reality – DUH. 
No wonder she was throwing these fits. We could only blame ourselves.
Looking back I honestly think that when we went cold turkey – NO SUGAR with her (or I guess I should say limited sugar) she had withdraws. She would literally BEG Greg and I for a doughnut, sucker, or candy… she didn't care. She just wanted some form of sugar.

Limiting sugar in our daughter has been a game changer.
It has changed everything about the way we cook, shop, and even live each day but I wouldn't go back.

Kendall still throws tantrums. She will. They won’t all go away by changing her diet. She is TWO. I get that. But the severity of the tantrums has changed.
With sugar – AWFUL.
Without – Manageable.

Know you now the WHY’s behind our new SUGARFREE (or limited sugar) foods we keep posting about.

Hopefully I was able to pass on what I have learned about the whole sugar thing to you and your eyes are slightly more open. The next step is to take my dare…

I DARE YOU to take a look at your diet and / or your kids diet and see just how much sugar you are consuming.

I would love to hear what you learn!

Just in case you think we are perfect. Here is proof we are FAR from it. This ia a photo of Mason eating a doughnut after Kendall went to bed. 
1 doughnut = 50 grams of sugar

In Health,