Archive for December, 2015

Amazing Moms: Christina

Thursday, December 31st, 2015

Most women know a few moms who just amaze them. For me, I have several ladies who I look up to, admire, and turn to for advice. One of these ladies is my dear Christina. I have known Christina for just over two years, and the more I learn about this mom, the more I find her amazing.

Christina has two small children who are 3 and 6 months. I always thought she mothered with great composure, but with the arrival of her sweet baby girl, I am continued to be amazed. She mothers with patience, love, and extreme goodness. When her kids are not listening, she maintains her composure and guides them. I have never seen her lose her cool with her kids. Her family isn’t near-by, and her husband works very long hours. His job involves putting himself in danger to protect others, but she is strong and courageous alongside his career.

amazing moms

Giving Back

Christina is always there to help. When I had my son Levi, she was at my house, entertaining my other child outside so I could get some alone time with my newborn inside my house. She brought me food. She stopped at Starbucks on her way, because she knows I need my coffee. If I ever have a problem, she is right there to help, listen, and keep me in line. Christina volunteers at her local church with the children. She nurtures, guides, and loves them. She is also a member of my local MOPS group. She has a willing spirit and often helps with activities and whatever the needs are of our group. She has volunteered to take meals to new moms, even though they didn’t live near-by.

Amazing Talent

As a mom, I often forget I have talents and hobbies. Christina has never lost sight of her creative juices. She has a very successful Etsy shop where she does graphic design. Her work takes time, but she is always on time with her orders. She creates prints, invitations, and other paper goods with creativity and beauty. Christina uses her gifts for good. I admire that she doesn’t lose sight of herself as a person, even though her days are spent in the tasks of a stay-at-home mom.

My friend Christina is just amazing. She is always a listening ear. She puts herself out there to make new friends at our local MOPS group. If anyone is in need, she would give up her home to help out. She is out there making a difference for moms like me who just need encouraged. I am lucky to call her friend. Her kids are blessed to call her mom.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana where she knows a few amazing moms.

Great Party Food for Special Diets

Wednesday, December 30th, 2015

The holidays are over, but with New Year’s, Superbowl parties, Valentine’s day and Easter right around the corner, the food just keeps on coming. If you’re anything like me you love celebrating with yummy, seasonal food! Whether that means bringing friends and family together for gatherings or baking your very favorite cookies, cakes or breads to give out to everyone from neighbors to teachers to grandparents.

As we’ve struggled with gluten intolerance and over the years I’ve become much more aware of the quality of ingredients I put in my body. Then there are my friends who also have dietary restrictions. I’ve encountered everything from Paleo to gluten-free, vegan, dairy free and nut free. Trying to keep everything straight can make your head spin so I’ve stepped away from this tradition a little bit.

special diets

Raspberry Cheesecake Bites from paleOMG

Since high school I have always made baked treats to give away, but I stopped a few years ago after my daughter was born and we discovered her gluten intolerance. To me there’s nothing worse than getting or receiving a gift that’s going to go right into the trash because nobody wants to eat it. I haven’t done it in a while but this year I’m determined to make homemade body products to give out instead–from body butters to scrubs and bath bombs these will always be a great gift.

As for hosting a party, it’s actually a lot easier than you might think. If you’re sending out an invitation, include a simple line such as “please RSVP with any dietary restrictions.” Having been on both sides of the fence, I promise it’s much more awkward for everyone involved if the person with the allergy or restriction has to call the host and ask what they’re serving so they can accommodate by brining their own food. If you’re inviting in person, take a minute to ask about food restrictions. Most likely someone will offer to bring a dish if they follow a very strict diet.

The wonderful thing about special diets is that they’re so common nowadays that you can find so many great websites and you’ll probably fall in love with a dish or two that you might have otherwise never tried. If you don’t know where to start here are some great websites that cater to different dietary needs and have fantastic recipes!

Paleo – PaleOMG and Elenas Pantry

Vegan/Dairy Free: Chocolate Covered Katie and Happy Herbivore

Gluten Free: Gluten Free Goddess and  Gluten Free Girl

Allergy Friendly: Lexis Kitchen and Cybele Pascal

Jacqueline Banks is a certified Holistic Health Counselor focused on nutrition and green living strategies. She works with women in all stages of motherhood, from mothers struggling with conception, through pregnancy, lactation and beyond to ensure the best health and nutrition for both mother and baby.

When Your Family Starts the Comparison Game

Monday, December 28th, 2015

IMG_1522If you come from a family like mine, there are lots of little ones around. My family has had new babies in 2009, 2012, 2013, and two new additions in 2014. So, my kids are in good company when we are home visiting. But, what do you do when your family starts comparing your kids to their cousins?

While I was growing up, I didn’t have other siblings in my home. My four cousins were like my siblings. We rode to and from school together. We had sleepovers. We sat through each other’s ballet recitals, band concerts, and musical productions. It was expected. But, occasionally, we did get compared. One of my grandmas, who is now 102, used to favor my boy cousin over us all. I can remember her teasing my younger girl cousin like it was nothing. Now, I do love this lady dearly, but often times I recall those memories and wonder why she did that.

I want to protect my kids. I want to protect them from the world, their peers, and all of the evils out there. But, should I feel like I have to protect them from other members of our family? I can’t shield their feelings and emotions, but I can be a voice for them. I can remind my family that they are not something to be compared.

If your family starts to compare, remember to speak in love. Family can’t be replaced. Words can last. I know in these times, we can become defensive. Milestones have been compared, innocent enough, maybe. But, I have heard comparisons of who crawled first, who talks more, and even who has cuter clothes. The list can go on and on.

Here are some great responses when your family starts comparing your kids to other family members:

  • Lead by example. Engage in conversations about your brother or sister’s child without mentioning anything about your own children.
  • Emphasize the differences. When your babies are being compared, shift the focus on the ways they are different and celebrate that instead.
  • Make a joke of it. Claim your baby just mastered long division or learned recite Shakespeare and hope they get the hint.
  • Smile and say, “Well every baby/child is different!” Then change the subject!
  • Talk to the family member frankly–but gently—later when other family is not around. Tell them that you love hearing about your brother/sister’s child, but it hurts you when they compare your children to other family members. Maybe they are just trying to make conversation and relate and don’t realize it hurts, so give them a chance to see it from your side and do the same for them.

Your children are yours. They are the only them in the world. My little silly boy and crazy, funny girl are unique and their own. No matter how different they may be, they are my little loves. My son has had a cranial helmet. My daughter has faced difficulties with her speech. These just make them special. It doesn’t make them someone who needs compared to other children. It doesn’t make them someone to not value or not love.

Family is truly forever. No comparisons are needed. My kids may not be perfect, but they are perfect for me.

Karyn Meyerhoff lives and writes in Northeast Indiana. She loves going home to visit her cousins and hopes her children will be close with their cousins someday, too.

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Thursday, December 24th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 10.12.24 AM‘Twas the night before Christmas,
When all through the house
A mother was pacing
Her heart filled with doubts.

The stockings hung empty,
Filled with despair
And she wished that St. Nicholas
Her burden could share.

The children were nestled
All snug in their beds
While innocence, hopes,
And dreams filled their heads.

As Mama gazed in
With the moonlight so pale
At those sweet little creatures
She felt she had failed.

For in spite of her efforts
Cash had been tight
And the space ‘neath the tree
Would be empty tonight.

She pondered the goodness
Of her boys and her girl
Did she deserve to be “Mom”
Without giving them the world?

She looked at the cupboards
Full as she could keep
And tried to be grateful
They had a warm place to sleep.

But try as she might–
Knowing things could be worse–
Her heart throbbed with sadness
Her soul filled with hurt.

Though she felt so alone
In her feelings of woe
Many of us relate
Though we don’t let it show.

In a world full of ‘shoulds’
Others’ lives seem complete
When you don’t measure up
When you try to compete.

When the world seems to say
You don’t have or you lack
When you feel like you can’t
Get the weight off your back.

In the eyes of your child
For each boy and each girl
There is no disappointment
For you are their world.

So amid all the hurt
Through the guilt and the grief
In the love of your child
You will find some relief.

Don’t buy into the hype
It isn’t the stuff
All they need is your love,
You are enough.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.



We Don’t Do Santa, But You do. And that’s OK.

Monday, December 21st, 2015

You are not less-than if you use Santa. You are not less-than if you don’t.There are two types of people in the world: Those who think people can be divided into two groups, and those who recognize that we are all varying shades of gray. This comes into play often in topics related to parenting: There are those who breastfeed, and those who formula feed; those who co-sleep, and those who crib-sleep; those who use a pacifier, and those who don’t.

The difference in approaches becomes divisive. A line is drawn in the sand, creating a false dichotomy, and parents are left in a mindset of Us vs. Anyone Who Does It Differently, and we can become quite defensive about our choices, feeling as though anyone doing something differently undermines the validity of our reality.

And this time of year, one of the most divisive scenarios involves Santa: Those who do, and those who don’t.

Full disclosure: I am Team Don’t.

Now, before Team Santa folks get out their proverbial pitchforks and begin advocating for all the incredibly valid and important reasons for using Santa Claus as a part of their holiday tradition, let me first say that I agree with you. One hundred percent. Incorporating Santa as a mythical creature into your yearly routine adds a sense of magic and wonder, a fantasy that seems so integral to childhood. The mystery and faith seem like the oxygen of innocence, which we so badly want to preserve and protect in our children for as long as we can until they are faced with the reality that much of life isn’t fair, magic doesn’t always show up when we need it to, and sometimes the good kids get coal while the naughty kids get all the good stuff.

I get it. I celebrate it. I am so excited for your family to have found something that bonds you and strengthens you and gives you joy this time of year.

I could list all the reasons why we chose not to use Santa in our family traditions, but those reasons don’t especially matter. There is no need to convince anyone of why my family celebrates the way we do, just as you should not have to defend your traditions to make them valuable. The divisiveness comes from a place of feeling like we must defend our choices or we admit that what we are doing is less-than.

You are not less-than if you use Santa. You are not less-than if you don’t.

Happy Holidays.

Keighty Brigman is terrible at crafting, throwing birthday parties, and making sure there isn’t food on her face. Allegedly, her four children manage to love her anyway.