Healthful Chocolate Oat Bars

With our first day of Kindergarten for Landon (!!!) around the corner and Anna’s first day today, I wanted to make something easy that has energy for their little bodies, but was free of all the junk in granola bars in stores. Also, Landon’s school is peanut free. These puppies are flourless, gluten free, peanut free (as long as you don’t add the nut ingredients in the optional section of course) and vegan! Landon ate hers in record time, so kid tested today and thumbs up.

Ingredients:

• 1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

• ¼ cup blonde coconut sugar

• 1 teaspoon baking powder

• ½ teaspoon kosher salt

• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

• ½ cup unsweetened almond milk

• 1 flax egg- directions below

• 1 Tbsp (7 g) flaxseed meal (ground raw flaxseed)

• 2 1/2 Tbsp (37 ml) water

• 1 tbsp coconut oil

• 1 large mashed banana. Done this with 2 bananas also and they are just as good

• 1/2 cup vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips

• Optional: ¼ cup creamy almond butter; coconut flakes; sprinkles; chopped walnuts

Directions:

Flax Egg:

1. Add flaxseed meal and water to a dish and stir. Let rest for 5 minutes to thicken. Add to recipes in place of 1 egg.

2. It’s not an exact 1:1 substitution in every recipe because it doesn’t bind and stiffen during baking quite like an egg does. But I’ve found it to work incredibly well in pancakes, brownies, muffins and many other recipes.

Healthful Chocolate Oat Bars:

1. Mix together the quick cooking oats, light brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Add in chocolate chips and coconut.

2. Add in the vanilla extract, almond milk and flax egg. Mix the ingredients together.

3. Then add in the mashed banana, and if using almond butter add it here. Combine all the ingredients.

4. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 8 by 8 inch metal baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees and check at 20 minutes. When I add more ingredients, it can take up to 25 minutes.

5. Let cool for 15 minutes, cut and enjoy!!

Back to School – The Kindergarten Edition

School is beginning. For us, this momentous day is two weeks from yesterday. In thirteen short days, my precious girl will walk into her Kindergarten classroom for the first time. Gone is the safe, well known and loving bubble of preschool, followed by a brand new and darling little school full of new little faces.  Last Sunday, after Landon and I sat and made our “before summer ends” list, I sat and watched her carefully color her favorite characters. I studied her tiny hands, the methodical ordering of her toys who watched the bright colors fill the page, her sheepish grin as I kissed her precious head. I found myself wanting to wrap my arms around her and keep her small. Maybe if I keep her here longer, nestled against my chest, time won’t actually pass and the safety of our home can envelop us both. I want to ferociously protect her heart, and make sure the whole world sees her brains, her beauty and how much more she is than her bahas or a syndrome. I can’t of course… I know this. Even us semi-helicopter parents (or occasional hovercrafts) have to let go and send our children out into the world’s wild adventures.

This school year includes a world of big kids, their big ideas, big questions and possibly big stares or hugely hurtful comments. While starting the school year brings about butterflies for little ones and long school supply lists for parents, the top thing on my list is to encourage discussions or letters teaching kindness for your kiddos.  This advice feels more poignant this year. I sit here not only on the precipice of my child entering the throngs of Kindergarten, but I am also a parent who has had to watch and live through some of our first big kid, tough and hurtful situations this summer.

This summer has been punctuated by sunshine, sunscreen, swimming, snuggles, Skittles, family love and unfortunately some truly unkind comments.  As I shared in an earlier post, our first camp of the summer got off to a plain old terrible no good start. As recounted by Landon and partially by the camp, we came to understand that there was pointing and mean spirited words thrown in Landon’s face like confetti. Although she stood up to the boys and defiantly walked away, she told me days later that the same kids followed her around saying things and laughing. Laughing to her face, a cruel finger pointed in the air. So we settled into a different routine, a different camp and her brightness quickly returned upon finding new friends and free afternoon fun. Her immense pride has beamed since that awful week, as we rightly showered her with love and praise from the confidence she exuded.

We had moved on in conversation in our house, having found our new routine. Yet the subject returned just last week as our family went to the water park for the day, as is tradition to break up the haze of beach week. As our collective of parents milled about counting the cousins and making sure everyone had sunscreen, my step-daughter strayed from the brood and headed over to us. “Those boys, over there, they called Landon ugly. We all heard it.” I looked over at the girls and Landon was already rushing back for another turn on the slide. When she came out, I studied her face carefully asking if she was okay, did she want to talk about it. She looked up and smiled, shrugged and said she wanted to go on the slide again. Completely unaffected… this child just wanted to play… no time for nonsense boys. Her older cousins stunned, one into a fragile state of hurt and defensiveness, and sweet Anna and our older cousin escorted Landon the rest of the day. Meanwhile, I stalked around the pools, staring at the boys, until Eric calmly talked me off my aggressive ledge. Nothing was mentioned later, no questions and comments from her the rest of the week. While etched on my heart, those immature kids’ reactions didn’t impact her whatsoever. If only I had her superpower.

Instead, my attempted superpower is to inspire fellow parents to talk to their children. On the brink of a new school year, what would I tell those boys of summer if I had a chance to calmly talk to them? If I knew them well enough to have a chat, how would I try to coach them to be brave, to show kindness and acceptance? Where would I begin?

Hey kiddo,

With school starting soon, I want to talk to you about two really important words- kindness and bravery. You’ve probably heard that you should be kind to your family for instance or your dog. And when you think of bravery, you might think of superheroes like Superman or Batman, fire fighters and so on. However… did you know that being kind IS being brave? I think that as a kid, showing kindness to others – like other kiddos that might look or sound different than you- that is one of THE bravest things you can do.

One of the kindest things I can imagine is standing up for someone else. Whether at school or around town, you might see another child and he or she might have glasses, they might wear hearing aids, have one arm, maybe he or she is in a wheel chair… I know that might sound pretty different than you. What I bet though is that they are actually just like you. They probably love Minecraft, Transformers, Power Rangers, My Little Pony, Legos, their dog. They probably love tacos and pizza and watching movies. What is also cool is that you can ask them really simple questions just to understand things a little better. Kindness can still sound like a question, you know? For instance… what are those button-shaped things by your ears? Why are your ears smaller? Does your wheelchair get to go fast? Questions are okay, especially if you are just curious and you do it with a kind voice.

Now what if you, yourself had something pretty different about you, how would you want another kid to treat you, say at school? I bet you’d want kids to just talk to you like you’re any other kid. I bet you would want them to invite you to sit with them at lunchtime in the cafeteria, to play at recess, to just be a friend. Some children have things like hearing aids to hear better, that’s all. They can run, laugh, swing, skip, play video games with the best of them. Things like pointing, though, pointing is just not cool. Pointing, laughing, using words like ugly… those actions are just plain ugly. Those actions are not brave. They are nothing like how real superheroes act. The real superheroes in fact are more like the kiddos with differences- who have had surgeries and have awesomely bionic hearing aids that allow them to hear just about anything.

My point is in all this is that kids that might seem different aren’t different at all. If being brave and hanging out with real life superheroes sounds awesome this school year – than choose kindness and make a new friend. There is simply nothing cooler than being kind and being brave. Oh and I hope you join us at the playground some day, we’d be happy to have you.

xoxo,

Landon’s mom

 

 

 

 

Wonder Girl

Tonight, it happened… we had our first big girl conversation about her ears as we drove home from camp.

“Mommy, this boy, he was chasing us around and then stopped. He pointed and laughed at me. He LAUGHED at me- he didn’t like my ears!”

I inhaled a slow breath, as a dull pain rose in my throat. “How did that make you feel?”

“Sad,” as she fumbled with her My Little Pony. “I didn’t like when he laughed.”

“What did you say to him or do?” I asked in my calmest voice.

“I said… ‘Well, I LIKE my ears!!’ And I walked off to tell my counselor. We didn’t play with him anymore.”

As immense pride rushed out with the breath I’d been holding, “Wow! That’s AMAZING and exactly right. You LOVE your ears. We all do. I am so so proud of you.” My face full of light, amazed yet not surprised at all by this precious, confident five year old girl. She’s listening when we tell her that she embodies greatness, that her body, mind and heart are all beautiful. That her ears are cool and bahas amazing inventions. That she is love. She is listening to it. And now, she is living it.

I celebrated her even louder the whole way home and onto the swings in our backyard park. She giggled at Eric and happily ran around with the frisbee, not even knowing that my heart had broken open even wider as I marvel at who she is. She is truly a wonder. #landonglover #sheisawonder

Seeking Light

I press my face into the soft, donut shaped pillow and take a long, three-count breath. I try to steady myself, push the anxiety, tightness in my stomach and pressure in my temples away. I must lock the grief, frustration, and the acute work stress somewhere to allow this bodywork… to actually work. I inhale as a barely visible needle is placed down my spine, then another and another. I hate needles… I think to myself, I must be crazy. My acupuncturist squeezes my hand and checks my pulse; her calming manner and inspiring words encourage me to give in. To give myself over to this new world of unique self-care. I gently close my eyes and allow the pressure of the glass suction cups on my shoulders to melt into my skin.

Someone asked me just this week what the red circular marks were all over my back. My answer confounded them. “Well… I can’t keep a pregnancy, so I’ve decided to do just about anything someone advises me to try. I’m taking about 7 types of vitamins, two styles of Progesterone, they’re telling me to eat animal protein, exercise with weights to build testosterone, acupuncture, therapy, meditation, cupping which is what leaves the marks. I could easily be made into a Saturday Night Live character.” As I looked up, her mouth was open… “Oh honey”… probably more information than this acquaintance had bargained for. I have no filter for this period in my life. I am slowly realizing that I am wearing this experience all over me, which means I am probably not the best at a party. Alcohol makes me cry. My babies’ faces make me cry. The love permeating out of their beautiful eyes reminds me how much I want this again.

I have not written for a while, contributing to an overall sense of imbalance. The truth is, when I pause long enough to think of what to say, it has not been all together cheery in the last six months. The compliment I receive on my writing is typically that despite the struggle, I find the light and positivity by the end of any post. Given the ride I have ridden since last October, positivity and light are things I have had to work very hard to find and in small increments. I know I have climbed into this car willingly- seeking another chance at motherhood- a chance at this experience with the unique and mesmerizing love I have in my now husband. Yet when the car has hit the edge of the road and careened wildly out of control, I have been oddly unprepared emotionally. One would think that multiple miscarriages would prepare the brain for repeated loss. It does not. One would think that I would be able to protect my heart from the acute sadness in seeing a newborn baby nestled on a mother’s chest. I cannot. So here I finally sit, blog open, heart exposed to tell you how it’s been.

I’ve been pregnant off and on for six months as many of you well know. My body still carries the reminders that this was not some awful dream. My abdomen is still strangely swollen near the scar that bears a reminder of having Landon, my hips still struggling in my smaller clothing. I still grow oddly quiet when I see babies on hips, the mothers curiously looking at me as I gaze at their children with tears in my eyes. I have finally come out of the clouds this past month, following my pattern of grief that eventually I find more peace each day. My car eventually clicks back into the lane as I press forward. Preparing my mind and heart for another try at this.

In choosing to fill myself with all forms of self-love recently, I have also found my meditation practice to be an incredible gift – almost like hitting the reset button on my anxiety. Before this new practice, I walked around in a haze, not wanting to claim my everyday life. The stress from my job, the details of each miscarriage has clearly had an impact on my body and mind, and I have not been exactly living a life of light, balance and passion. As for meditation, I would do it intermittently. I have never had anything resembling a practice… until now. For once in quite awhile, I can more clearly see what passions I want to pursue career wise again. I am lighter and smile more often. I actually am living my mindfulness mantras.  While the clouds have begun parting, one deep attachment has stuck.

When I wake most mornings, I immediately I crave one tiny, indisputably precious face to kiss, her little body to hug. To replace the loneliness for a baby, I have found myself longing each day for my Landon. It is more fierce than usual… she must sense it. Her five-year-old brain is rife with ways to get what she wants, and I am sure she knows she has me where she wants me. When she is not at our house, tears hit my eyes the instant I find one of her ponies or fold her tiny clothing. The intensity of my love for her is palpable. My need to see her is beyond a normal mother’s connection to her child. It is an almost desperate need to make sure she knows her mother loves her, and to see before very my own eyes that I did indeed create this child. It is living, talking proof that I was successful at carrying her and that I could do this. For some of my week, I get my wish, and I get to wake both girls up and take care in picking bows and socks. The other days, the emptiness settles against my chest, my furrowed brow remains creased and I push forward through my day. While this has eased in recent weeks, I certainly know that I hold her longer and probably tighter than my usual hugs and I certainly ask for more of them.

My dearest acupuncturist, wellness coach, and therapist — all three tell me to make space for the grief. Saving space in my heart for loved ones is a natural thing. Creating space my heart for grief is less comfortable. I would rather workout, take a bike ride, read, even go to work than sit with grief. It feels futile and wasteful, but without facing grief, it simply follows you around like a nagging fly buzzing around your head. And it caught up to me two months ago. I sat, tears streaming, in front of Eric and desperately could not catch my breath. He walked me through a breathing exercise, a gentle reminder that when you feel you cannot control the world, what you can control is your breath. You can always return to it. While we’ve done these exercises before, and certainly have done yoga classes infused with breath coaching, I’ve not done a long exercise and it work quite like that one did. I was fascinated.

This journey for me has been twofold. In the first phase, I craved isolation, terrible television shows and my velvet couch. I can wallow with the best of them, but rarely sit and allow myself to think and feel the pain. Instead, I fill my brain with whatever Netflix thinks I might enjoy. Since the binge watching and couch snuggling were getting me nowhere, I finally stopped dancing with the idea of meditating regularly, and actually started doing it. Some of my nearest and dearest have said they cannot make the jump to practice. Hey, my shelves are full of books with good intentions too. However, my wellness coach sat across from me recently, showing me data from my very own cells and made a compelling point. My hormone levels have bottomed out. Almost all due to my stress levels in the last five years. My self-care has truly only involved exercise and it is no longer enough. My cloudy headspace and anxious core are no longer acceptable if I want to create a positive place for new life. I have realized that if I want to find daily happiness, I need to find my breath.

So how does one start meditating when the pace of your life interrupts any quiet you find? For me, who focuses on the logistics, I had to make some shifts. I wake up earlier and my sleep routine sunsets with a body scan. I also needed a coach and found one in my favorite Mediation Studio App. Why try all these things? Why not just trust that biology and regular old science can make this a baby happen for us? Frankly, I have never been one for settling for convention. Who is to say that these ancient forms of medicine, balanced with studying my cells and necessary supplements, are not the path to the good kind of sleepless nights? There is a beautiful Rumi quotation and one I shared with Eric in the infancy of our relationship.

Rumi-poetic-words-wound-place-where-light-enters

This wound I have had for almost a year now, this place I have sought to heal with exercise, wine, bad television, this place that still hurts… is important. This wound is how I will grow. This is allowing me to realize how I want to soon make a living and spend my days. This wound has taught me a mindfulness practice that I longed for these past ten years. While it’s new, I’m certain of its impact. From this journey, beautiful things have begun to emerge. Along the way, I have begun returning to myself, begun to once again love this imperfect body, and forgive myself for the fact that my past and current stress has hurt me and made pregnancy harder. I am learning to leave the shame alone, not to grab it and wrestle with it as before. I am learning, and what a beautifully simple gift that is. Here I am now, seeking light, and marveling at the journey along the way.

Namaste friends,

Eloise

Who has time to be depressed anyway?

There’s no convenient time to be depressed. Someone needs you to fasten a doll’s skirt, finish the presentation, find their doll’s shoe, think five steps ahead of your manager to try to anticipate what will be needed next, remember it’s free dress day, hand you their water, do research on business as a platform, find a lovey, remember it’s a half day, make dinner, try to be a good wife, and oh have another miscarriage.  Lately my dance card has been a balancing act of executive meetings, attempting to be a good mom, and secret physical and emotional agony. Cramping and other horrific things that happen when you miscarry, have to be secondary because people need you to keep your shit together. No 8 or 5 year old wants their pancakes with a side of mom sobs.

So just when I thought maybe the anger and emotional roller coaster might skip me this miscarriage, I found myself putting waffles on the table, while Eric has been out of town, and running upstairs to sob to my best friend in my closet. A short while later, I come down and put on my brave face and try to forget for the day. But when the sisters try on their bickering pants, I am crying behind my sunglasses. “Naps for everyone I exclaim!” As I crawled in bed yesterday, I finally admitted to myself that I might be losing the parenting battle.

This is Eric and my second loss. My third miscarriage all together. The cycle for these last two has been a quiet sadness, when I first think something bad might happen, followed by short breaths as if I possibly move less or live a quieter life that I can make it stop. When this does not work, and this hope for another child is gone, it’s accompanied by the inevitable, intense physical pain, and then two to three weeks of emotional fall out. I intend the last part to be dramatic on purpose. I fully fall into depression as my hormones plummet, and I’m parked there as we speak. This is an I-don’t-want-to-get-outta-bed sadness and when someone asks if I’m okay, I can’t even fake it. “No, not yet,” I say or in the case of this morning: “No, my husband is out of town, and I need to workout and I still look pregnant” style of unloading I did on my poor friend at Pure Barre today. Sorry Lauren.

Who has time to be depressed? I feel like it has to fit into my trips to the bathroom to change the incredibly ridiculous pads I have to wear.  I remember when I’ve struggled before, way back pre-Landon in my twenties and even then it still seems like a selfish waste of time. Back then when a completely different type of loss surrounded me. I recall talking my dog to the park and losing my shit on a bench overlooking Sheep’s Meadow. People scurried away from us and Kingsley licked my salty tears for an hour. I could just sit there as I had all the time in the world to feel as sad as I wanted to. Now, in this life I’ve wanted for so long, it feels even more insane to be depressed. I read one of those quotes this morning that while it rings true, it’s also kind of annoying at the same time…

ept

Okay, yeah I get it, I remember. Thanks Instagram. I have a loving husband who says all the right things, and also actually really cares. I have two beautiful girls who love me and love each other (most of the time). I have a naturally born daughter who has made me the absolute best version of myself. I have a great job, and am recognized daily for what I contribute. I have a family who is considerate and wildly helpful every day- thank you Nunu x 1,000. And friends- mostly far away who love loudly and comfort me even when I’ve woken them up with my phone calls. This loss isn’t dismissive of the beautiful things in my life. It’s simply a loss that cannot be ignored. I learned last November, after a full month of grief, that it absolutely takes time to heal your head, heart and body. What you have doesn’t heal you, it’s patience, love of others and mainly love of self. It’s my therapist, and quiet moments with this blog. It’s walking on the beach and crying into the ocean. It’s telling your tribe that you are not okay and letting them in. It’s all of these things and more, since I learn more about what grief is each time this has happened. So while this weekend’s emotion has surprised me, even when it really shouldn’t, I’m trying to just be gentle on myself. Depression is what it is, and I can’t find my way out by pretending it’s not happening.

I say this each time, but I mean it each time. If you have experienced loss, I see you and love you. I also cherish your lost due dates and feel your pain when you see other happily and easily pregnant women. I understand the roller coasters and am here to say, “me too” to not feeling okay. I’m in it now and I am accepting that depression does not wait for a convenient time in your life. When it arrives, you can try to welcome it and handle it with patience and love.

Onward dear friends. Hoping to see you on the up and up very soon.

XOXO,

Eloise