Simply beautiful...

Simply beautiful...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Home Garden

One of the ways that I have begun to explore feeding my family locally grown, organic produce is through growing a small garden in my backyard. With the help of my good friend Kristy, we did just that... along with her promise to kill ANY and ALL spiders we came across! We spent one day weeding and buying the plants and another day planting them. The planting boxes in my backyard already contained strawberries, mint, parsley and one tomato plant. To boot, the house we rent already has orange, tangerine and lemon trees! We added to the mix: cucumber, red and yellow bell peppers, squash, jalapenos, one more tomato plant, basil, cilantro and thyme. Here's to healthy eating and hoping I don't kill them ;)
Here is Kristy, with Josiah and Harper, who were eager to play in the dirt.
We hope in the future they will eat more produce than dirt!
Our beautiful orange trees... fresh squeezed juice anyone?
This box contains all the vegetables, as well as the cilantro and basil.
We planted the thyme in the box with the strawberries, parsley and mint.
Jeremy is feeding Harper fresh tangerines picked right off the tree, YUM!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Harper lately

We are working on our coloring skills. "The crayons are for coloring Elmo... not for eating".
Yes, she is still obsessed with wearing her hat all around the house... even if it's 75 degrees outside!
Mommy and Harper hanging out together after going for a run. Love my little girl...
I looked away for a quick moment... when there was silence in the house, I knew Harper had gotten into something. She has a sweet tooth just like her mommy!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Healthy Eating and why I choose mostly organic...

Over the past few months, I have had countless conversations with friends and family members who are trying to navigate through their belief system of what healthy eating is. We read books and articles, overhear conversations, and see news segments and documentaries... but still there lingers questions between all the floating theories over what we should and should not eat. Where does this leave us? Often confused. Trying to sort out between organic, local and seasonal shopping... low carb, high protein, vegetarian, non-dairy diets. The list goes on and on.

It may take me a few posts to sort this out... heck, I may not figure it out for a while. But I am committed to my husband and daughter to find the healthiest, livable solution for eating well.

I'll start with what I have come to a conclusion on. I do buy organic when shopping for certain produce and I do buy all organic dairy products. Much of why I have chosen to go this route comes from my educational background in Dietetics. One basic belief I gained through my learning is that, no matter the confusion brought on by todays society, it all comes back to this: the best diet points back to "real" and natural foods (i.e., non-processed, not genetically modified and not contaminated with harmful toxins).

So, for those who still aren't clear on what "organic" means here's a basic definition: Organic means that they do not use synthetic chemical fertilizers or genetically modified organisms to influence the growth of the crops. These farmers do not use artificial fertilizers or harmful chemical pesticides to help them grow. Organic ranchers and dairymen raise their livestock free of antibiotics and hormones. Checkout this website full of information on Organic living:

All of this helps ensure that my family doesn't get exposed to extra toxins just by eating. Another influence that pushed me to buy organic dairy products is a little less scientific. My mom is a first-grade teacher in a low-income school district in Oregon. When I was pregnant with my daughter, she told me that she couldn't believe it... but she had had two of her female students start their period that year! Yes, I said 6 to 7 year olds... starting their periods! I learned from some of my education, that girls were starting their periods earlier and earlier than they used to years ago... but first grade? I'm sure their are many factors that go into this occurring, but the extra hormones we get in our animal products are not helping prevent such a premature event from happening.

Preventative measures to maintain our health makes sense to me and for our family that includes buying certain products that are organic. Now if I could decide the best way to purchase organic and local meat...

Remembering Jeffrey...

April 14, 2005... how can I forget that day? Today marks the 5 year anniversary of my brothers' passing away. It feels so strange to write that... Wasn't it just yesterday I sat in his room as we confided in each other about life's ups and downs? Just yesterday... and yet it seems difficult to remember some of the memories.

For those that knew Jeffrey, know that my brother had his share of "rough" years. Years that caused him to be rather absent from our family once he graduated high school. Today it feels frustrating that there is a gap between my memories of him. I have many memories from years ago and some from just before he left us. It's hard not to wish there were more somehow...

I have the most amazing memories of him in our growing up years. He was the big brother that the younger three of us looked up to. We were proud of him - he was smart, endlessly funny, and always made us feel safe when we needed him to. He also played the role most older brothers "have to" play... he tortured us relentlessly! He teased us, wrestled us, and made us do the dishes when my parents left him in charge. In our younger years, he and I butted heads most out of the four of us - I think mostly because he and I were similar. We had strong personalities that had a tendency to be stubborn, yet we were sensitive. In the end, those commonalities were what ended up bringing us closer as brother and sister in his last year he was alive.

Those years while Jeffrey was away, he contracted the flu virus that ended with a rare outcome. The flu virus settled in his heart and caused him to eventually have a condition called cardiomyopathy, a serious disease in which the heart muscle becomes inflamed and doesn't work as well as it should. As Jeffrey was an adult, he took care of his own medical business. All we knew is that he was sick and that he was not a transplant candidate. We never dreamed that this disease was terminal for him... especially not that suddenly. He was 27.

I think it's safe to say that my parents, siblings and I all see my brother as a very real life "prodigal son". He walked away from everything for a period of time... from God, from his family and friends, from his values. But, by God's grace, his story did not end there. God did an amazing work in Jeffrey's life before he died: He brought him back to his faith, back to our family, and brought Jeffrey peace with himself. His life always makes me think of 2 Corinthians 12:9, which says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness".

I miss my brother deeply... I wish I could give him a hug... and have one more conversation with him... and tell him I love him just one more time.

Jeffrey's life has made two things most clear to me: to cherish those dear to my heart and never take them for granted, and just how thankful I am for the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. It is because of that I know I'll see my brother again someday...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Easter with the Jung's

Over the Easter weekend, our family was blessed to be able to fly up to the Pebble Beach/Carmel area and spend some time with our good friends, the Jungs. Kara's parents graciously allowed us to stay in their vacation home which sits right on one of the greens of the golf course. We enjoyed beautiful scenery, yummy food and of course, some of the best conversations. Amazingly, neither Jeremy or I had ever been to that area of the California coast. We were taken back by the breathtaking ocean view - as the waves crashed against the rocky coast. It can't get prettier than that except... oh yeah... there are luscious green ways lining the coast as well!

Over the weekend, Kara and Eric showed us the best of what the surrounding area had to offer: gorgeous golf courses, little towns with quaint shops, rugged hiking trails, cute coffee stops, architecturally beautiful homes, perfect running weather and general peacefulness to soothe your soul...

One of the things we loved the most, besides catching up with our friends, was watching our two little girls play side by side. Harper and Annika (aka AJ) are only two weeks apart, so what they are into is very similar - making it almost easier to have two 15 month-olds! They made each other laugh quite often, got annoyed only every once in a while, and kept all of us entertained by their budding personalities! Already the makings of good friends for life ;)

Thank you Jung's for showing us such a wonderful, relaxing weekend. Your family is one of God's sweetest gifts to our family, we love you!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Trip to Oregon

A couple weeks ago, we were able to make it up to Portland, Oregon for a week to see our families. We arrived with great anticipation, as we had planned to tell our families that we are expecting baby #2 this fall! We planned a Swift/Nelson dinner get together for the day after we arrived since we wanted to tell them all at once. It wasn't easy faking not being prego as I suffer from a good amount of morning sickness. Thankfully, we planned to spend the first 24 hrs with my mother and father-in-law (I knew my family's coffee drinking habit would have me pegged in no time!). The afternoon before the big dinner announcement, we had lunch with the Swift side of the family. My sister-in-law Bonnie, her husband Josh and their daughter Claire were all there to join us. As we were getting ready to eat, Josh pulled out his cell phone and said, "get a load of this!"... then we heard the sound of a strong heartbeat... YES! Baby #2 is on the way for them!!!

As the conversation proceeded, Jeremy and I dogged bullets as they asked us if we were expecting too... we asked why they would think that? After all, we do still have a 15 month old to chase after... don't we have our hands full enough? I felt a little guilty about the lying, but J and I stuck to the plan that we wanted to tell both sides of the family TOGETHER.

Later that evening with all the families together, we put Harper's "Big Sister" t-shirt on her under her jacket and waited for the right moment to unveil our news. After dinner was well underway, Jeremy took off her little jacket and let her roam around and play... then we waited for someone to catch on. It took a good 20 minutes before Bonnie asked if that shirt was supposed to mean something. When we told them it was true and admitted our little lies earlier... the whole room erupted with excitement, laughter and tears of joy. Bonnie and Josh's second baby is due just 4 days before ours... We feel so blessed to share such a special time of life and memories together!

All of that news definitely set off our trip to Oregon with a bang. We enjoyed the rest of the trip spending some quality time with both families: Harper and I got to go to the Oregon coast with my mom, sister, brother and sister-in-law for the day (someplace I hadn't been in almost 6 years!). My mom also finally taught me how to sew! We made two blankets together and now I can say that I'm HOOKED. We also got to visit the Oregon zoo with all the Swift's, which was a treat. Jeremy and I even got to have a date night and attend a Blazer vs. Dallas basketball game! We must say - that is one of our favorite things to do ;)

Our visit was wonderful and never long enough. I can't say that I am ever completely ready to leave... We love our families and how they pour into us and especially our daughter. I look back on trips like this and see just how important that grandparent relationship is. Harper is now old enough to have really special interactions with her Mimi and Pappy and Nana and OoOo AND completely know who they are. As always when we come home... we are already planning our next trip to Oregon.