Monday, March 18, 2013

When Your Child Needs More than a Gluten Free Diet

How my family is adjusting to a gluten free Diet and much more

Gluten free diets are rising in popularity these days, and I’m learning from experience that it’s more than just a fad, it’s one of many “free” things our family needs in order to create an atmosphere of peace. 


Last summer my little Lilly had an overwhelming eczema attack while my family lived in California for a couple of months.

It had gotten so bad that she would scratch herself during the night, and we’d wake up to find her sheets spotted with blood and scabs in her elbow and knee pits, and on her lower back. With us being away from our doctors here in TX, we decided to take her to a dermatologist when we returned home. 

But when I called to set up an appointment it was over month long wait.

DSC_0745 DSC_0813

She’s battled with eczema ever since she was a tiny baby, but it seemed to be contained or die down a bit after a few weeks of lathering on lotions her pediatrician would recommend, refraining from certain soaps, or the change in weather.

But this time it wasn’t going away. And she was miserable to the point I would literally lay her down in bed, and both of us would cry because I really didn’t know what else to do. I needed immediate relief, and in desperation I did what most young moms of the twenty first century do.

I went on my personal facebook page, which I know isn’t very medical it’s more mommical or even comical, and asked some of my momma friends if they’ve ever had a problem with eczema to this extent. A friend of mine piped in and said, “take her to an allergist.”

So I did. 

She had blood work done, and when the results came in I literally swallowed it in with about half a gallon of water and an Alka-Seltzer as the nurse read the list to me. Corn, eggs, peas, peanuts, soy, milk, wheat and….. dogs. Eggs, corn, peas, and dogs being the highest.

Her doctor encouraged me to not go overboard with eliminating all these products from her diet immediately, but to do it slowly.


And in the last six months, it’s been exactly that. Slow.

Not until last month when I met some fantastic ladies from BEECH Retreat did I really believe that going gluten free, among many other things in our family’s diet, is more than just possible, it is doable with a heart and tummy full of joy.

Gluten free items are becoming much more easier to find in a store, but the other things, are more of a chore. But when I read Tricia’s blog whose five children in one way or another have or had the majority of Lilly’s food allergies spread out amongst them at one time or another, I calmed down a bit. She is a plethora of relieving help on and off the screen when it comes to being more than just gluten free.

I’m excited to write about our family as we basically get ourselves into a healthier state, because I’m finding that a gluten free diet and all the other things we’re working hard to avoid is a healthier alternative.

It’s more than just wishing or praying this away, it’s about being a mom faced with the reality of now and making sure my family is having their physical needs met.

Do you or someone in your family have food allergies beyond just gluten?

What are some of your favorite people and products that help you live a gluten free diet and to avoid other foods?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

The 10 Most Inspiring Work at Home Moms

How working at home moms are helping me appreciate my family more

I’ve pondered the idea of how at home moms are able to influence our society for quite some time, and how it is done in a way that helps me invest in my shareholders.

10 inspiring work at home moms

It probably started from a conversation I had with a former classmate of mine from college that I bumped into while walking through Target a few years ago. I hadn’t seen her in well over five years, and we managed to catch up on life as we wrangled our little ones as they ran around our feet.

We shifted our conversation over to how we are handling the role of being an at home mom and wife, something that we’d never seen each other do in action.

She was a virtual teacher, and I full time at home mom making an “untaxable income”. She explained what her job entailed, and with me having a degree in education, her whole setup sounded very enticing

Then out of the blue she said, “You know they tell us women we can do anything, but what they forget to say is you really can’t unless you aren’t married or don’t have children, and it for sure can’t be done for us stay at home moms.”

I didn’t respond as I tried to hide my raised eyebrows. But I can tell you that I’ve chewed on what she said for quite a while, and the taste makes me a little nauseous.

When I went to an amazing blog conference, and I talked to a savvy mom blogger for about an hour concerning what she does to help her family when it comes to being an at home mom. And every point she made did nothing but affirm that my husband and children are not the deflator of dreams, but the life giver and motivator to take my dreams to the next level.

Here are 10 ladies who are inspiring me in my life stage at this moment, and they are embracing their line of work, not because their family is a hindrance, but because their family helps their dreams take flight. 

Jenn Perry at Daze of Adventure

Jimmie Lanley of Jimmie’s Collage and IHomeschool Network, and she’s The Notebooking Fairy

Jolanthe Erb from Homeschool Creations

Leigh Bortins creator of Classical Conversations

Rachael Martin from Finding Joy

Ashley Pichea from Homeschool Blogging and Life by Ashley Pichea

Kim Kautzer the founder of Write Shop

Tricia Hodges from Hodgepodge Mom

Barbara McCoy from Harmony Fine Arts

Amanda Padgett the owner of Everyday Elements

All these women are helping me see that having a family, raising children in an inspiring way, and fulfilling their roll as a wife not only cultivates creativity, it has launched them in their roll as an entrepreneur

Who are some of the most inspiring work at home moms you know?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

How to Process Information from a Blogging Conference (or at least how I do it)

I came back from this amazing blogging conference a little over two weeks ago full of ideas.

My to-do list was all over the kitchen, and I put a notepad next to my bed because random things would pop up in my head.

But really, I took notes at BEECH the old fashioned way and left them there in FL by mistake, and by the grace of God they were found by one of the wonderful people at Apologia. I just got them in the mail last week, and so my list of things to do were probably things I remembered hearing and didn’t want to lose.

Either way, things have been slow here. Or at least on the blog front it has.

I guess that’s how I process things. Some people are motivated and move within minutes on an idea, and things are rolling for them like the West Texas wind. I’m not that way, or at least not in the current stage I’m in.

I’d like to think at one point in my life I was able to jump into something with all my might and the feelings of satisfaction and reward came within minutes. But I’m not there any more. Especially since my two and a half month long trip to California.

The time in sunny SoCal changed me as a mom and as a person, and I work more hard at carrying over those lessons into our daily life here in Texas. 

I’m learning to become satisfied with slow, and enjoy moments of silence. And I’m definitely wanting to master the art of listening to my children without technology interfering. That takes a lot of work for modern mommas. Don’t you agree?

Really though, what I’ve been processing from BEECH has been more than just gobs of notes, and ideas that seem greater than me and a little overwhelming.

I’ve been taking my time processing how to fit this space into a space that is incredibly sacred for me and my family- my home.

I want my kids to draw pictures of me playing with them, or me with my crazy morning hair fixing them a hot breakfast. Not ones with me behind a computer screen.

I don’t want my husband to feel like at the end of the day when the kids are asleep, I’m unavailable. I’ve checked out because there’s something more interesting to look at than his eyes that tell me I’m loved.

I want to live life, and the words that pour out on a computer screen be an overflow from what’s done when nobody is looking. It takes work, and most of all it takes time. And the hardest part is figuring it all out as I go.

So if progression is slow here, it’s because I am my own accountability partner and I know how well I am as a mom and wife when I’m here constantly. Excitement is quickly extinguished when I can give this space a plethora of words, but the only ones I can muster out to my family is, “hold on.”

This is how I process things now. Slow, quietly, and with a lot of pondering.

How about you? Are you one who has to jump on ideas quickly or you lose them, or are you a turtle- like me?

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

BEECH Retreat Recap: A Blog Conference for the Healthy Heart

I’ve been back from BEECH Retreat for over a week now, and I am still buzzing with excitement from all that happened.

BEECH Retreat Recap

On the way home from the airport I was wound up like an eight day clock, and Jeremiah politely and patiently nodded as I told him about three days worth of continual information concerning SEO, monetization, affiliates, and sponsorship in less than an hour.

I did the same thing the next day as I talked to my dad on the phone, and when I asked my mom later that day, “Did dad tell you what my conference was about?”

She said, “Well, you know him. As soon as you say the word computer, he zones out. So all he told me was you are doing something with a computer and the internet, and you’re gonna change the world.”

Well….. I don’t know if that’s what I said, but if that was his interpretation from all my babbling- I’ll definitely take it.

BEECH was absolutely the conference I needed, and had been praying to go to for a long time. It was worth the time I took to prepare things around the house for me to leave and be away from my family for three days.

I walked away from BEECH feeling like I had doable information and a great list of things to implement here at Santa Beso. It may take me a year to get it all completed, but hopefully as the months progress you’ll see some changes.

I also met wonderful people who were more than willing to help answer any question no matter how embarrassed I was that I didn’t have the answer figured out by now. A special thank you to Jenni from The Blog Maven for letting me literally sit at your feet and learn from you.   

Seeing a few old friends from a previous blogging conference was absolutely special, but the new contacts and relationships I’ve built is amazing. I mean unbelievably amazing.


Some people think that the largeness of a crowd means that something life changing is happening as well. But after attending BEECH, and seeing first hand the output of a great leadership team, I am convinced that just because it’s big doesn’t mean it’s healthy. 

BEECH was a good dose of medicine and a cure for a heart that needed to regain and rejuvenate hope concerning blogging.

Thank you to all who prayed for me. I am certain that they were answered, and with time you will see them revealed here.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Teacher Across the Hall (or screen) My Homeschool Blog list for 2012-2013

When I was a teacher in the public school system I was blessed to work with some amazing people. During the first two and a half years of my short lived teaching career I taught third grade, and I ended the last two years of teaching in a classroom full of first graders.


The biggest lesson that both my third and first grade teaching experience taught me is- glean what you can from the teacher across the hall. Especially if they’re really good.

Fortunately, that’s how it was for me my last year teaching in a classroom. There would be times that I would stand at the door frame of my classroom and while my students were working on a project or taking a test I would eaves drop on my co-worker’s class.

Her students loved, appreciated, and looked up to her in ways I always admired and respected.

Now that I’m home and teaching, the opportunity to listen in on any classroom across the hall has somewhat vanished. But to a degree it hasn’t. That’s why I am very grateful for blogging and Social Media. It has opened the door, literally, for all us who are wondering how “it’s” done, be “it” anything, to gain some ideas. 

If I could stand at the doorway of any home in the blogging world, or have a chance to chat with them next to a coke machine in the break room of homeschool (something that hardly exists) I would want it to be these people.

Melissa from The Joys of Home Education (a dear friend in real life who I have had the pleasure of visiting her home in upstate New York).


Leigh Bortins at 1 Smart Mama (and boy is she smart! Founder of Classical Conversations. Need I say more?!)

Trivium Pursuit (I wrote about the book Laurie and Harvey Bluedorn wrote, they are the forerunners in Classical Christian Homeschooling- you walk away from their blog feeling smarter.)

Brandy from Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood (a fellow CCer and she’s an Aggie. What can I say? I’m married to an Aggie so it’s a Maroon thing. Whoop!!)

Amy from Living and Learning at Home (she has so many wonderful ideas for youngsters that are around my age)

Ree Drummond at The Pioneer Woman (I know! Who doesn’t know who she is? But I bet you didn’t know she is also a fellow CCer)

I’m very grateful that they’re willing to share their lives through the bloggy world so that I can literally sit in their living room while I wear my pjs at 11 o’clock at night (and fidget with my printer as it gets jammed with some of their helpful freebies).

I’m also very humbled to meet a ton of other homeschool bloggers at BEECH next week. Wish I could pack you in my suitcase to take you with me!!

If you could lean against the door frame inside the home of one of your favorite homeschool bloggers who would it be? I’d love to learn about others that have helped you in the journey of raising kids.

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Lonely Homeschool Mom (an update on Classical Conversations)

Lately I’ve had a few people ask me on and off the screen how Clasical Convversations is going. I figured it was high time I answer that question here at Santa Beso.

Right before the Christmas break I hit a wall. I think all moms go through this for all different reasons, but it’s still the same feeling.

I questioned everything I was doing, especially concerning homeschool. I felt completely at rest when it came to the decision to homeschool, but at the end of last semester I seriously considered pulling us out of CC and try something different to see if that would eliminate the huge knot in my stomach.

But I wrestled with that decision as well.

I know full well that the Lord gave me the peace I needed when I first signed our family up on this path. Classical Christian education seems to be what our family as a whole enjoys. While reading through some of the recommended reads for parents from CC catalogue I am completely encouraged that this is our fit.

But I my struggle seemed to be linked to the weekly meetings.

Our campus is the largest in my city and it’s full to capacity. The oldest “grade” is  Challenge A, so during recess time Joel looks a bit like a little tadpole in the ocean.

He is one of two children in his “class” that is the oldest, therefore he is the model and not mimicking other siblings. The memory work is a challenge for us because it’s all new, and not even close to how I grew up learning.

I am redeeming my education, and solidifying my children’s at the same time.

So during the review time, there’s a lot of crickets chirping and blank stares. Mostly from parents because how quiet can it really get with a room of six 4 yr olds?

The Friday before we left for Christmas break half our class was gone due to illnesses or vacations. The size of our class that Friday really made it comfortable enough for me to have a heart to heart talk with the two moms in our small class that day.

Both of them had so many encouraging things to say. One mom, who this is their second year in CC, said last year was incredibly hard for them. Everyday they had to put one foot in front of the other. But this year things were clicking with both her and her children.

My director held my hand through the time our family took to pray and discuss things during Christmas break. She wasn’t pushy or frustrated with me. She even gave me the name of another director in the area who had a smaller group incase I wanted to try a different campus next year, and when I talked to that director- it was the same thing.

Both ladies were thrilled at the decision our family made to stay where we are. Neither one was disappointed. In fact, the other director encouraged me to use this year as an opportunity for God to stretch and grow me, and reach out to others.

Jeremiah had been able to go with me to the weekly meetings last semester, and we thought it was a great idea. But during the Christmas break, we both agreed that he should stop coming with us and endeavor in some things we’ve felt the Lord leading us toward concerning our family.

I noticed how having him with me was keeping me from reaching out to others. I had let him become my comfort zone. While my kids would go out to play, I would sit in the corner and let my pride punish me.

But this past week when it was just me and the kids, I was forced to mingle and initiate conversations. I needed that, and my kids needed to see me do that as well.

I will say one of the number one reasons I was interested in CC is for the social interaction. I did not want to be “the lonely homeschool mom”. I had experienced that right after Lilly was born. When I plugged into a mom’s group, it changed everything. 

I needed a guarantee that I would find a friendly face once a week to talk to, glean from, and find encouragement. Now I feel like it’s happening.

I’m revisiting that place of peace I once had. I was so thrilled to be back into our CC groove that I even volunteered to work the PM session. Now that’s excitement!

You ever feel like the lonely stay at home mom or homeschool mom?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Top 10 Best Children’s Books that Cultivate Family Bonding

the Best Children’s books That help Pull our family Together.

I don’t read many home blogs. It’s not because I don’t like them, I know if  I don’t limit myself, my inbox will explode. Then I’d spend my entire Saturday looking at ideas and not implementing one thing that inspires me.

Of the handful that I peak at, Emily at Jones Design Company is one blog I could linger around for a while. Her daughter’s bedroom is what inspired me to ask  my mom to make this project in my daughter, Lilly’s, room.

I seriously want her to visit my house and do a makeover.

I also don’t participate in many linky parites either. But when she mentioned her link up for a Book link-up party, I literally popped up in my seat.

Books for Family Bonding

I’ve made a list of books we love to read during Easter and Christmas, but books that we love to read just for fun is something I’ve not yet done.

Here at our house, we are huge fans of Children’s Literature. Maybe it stems from my background in education and my husband having a teacher as a mom, or maybe it’s because of the idea of my children remembering the sound of my voice as they think of books I’ve read to them as they get older.

Feb 08 - Joel LaDonna Reading 01

But if you come to our house you’ll see our love spilled all over the place.

They’re in the playroom


Joel’s room


Lilly’s room


and they’re even hidden in the built-ins of our living room.


Even when we go to the library, you can easily spot us with our huge laundry basket toting around books we plan to read for the following weeks.

I thought accumulating a few books from our personal stash would take some digging, but really all I had to do is look for the books with busted binders, torn pages, and chewed up corners.

When I pulled them out to take a few pictures, I knew I had struck gold when Lilly found some of them on the couch and sat still for about 15 minutes looking through them. I heard her say to herself, “You scratch duh horsie like dis an is sof.”

Oh my mom heart just burst.

Here is the list that makes us all pile up on the couch and create memories:

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Widler (this is fantastic for winter time snuggling)

On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman (her art work is magical)

The Story of Jesus by Patricia Pingry (any book by her is good)

Tom by Tommie dePaola (I laughed out loud very hard while reading this to the kids at the library one time)

From Head to Toe by Eric Carle (every child’s library should have at least one of his books)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (this sets the stage for bedtime)

Playtime Peekaboo by DK Publishing (I have the flaps taped)

I love you, Good Night by Jon Butler (and no, I did not pay $200 for this book, we got ours at Barnes and Noble around Valentine’s Day one year for less than $10)

Tuesday by David Weisner (Joel and Jeremiah read this at night sometimes and I can hear their laughter echoing through the halls)

The Velveteen Rabbit (after posing a question to my facebook likers, this was a majority winner. Nearly all who participated in the conversation suggested this book.)

Both of my kid’s had a book party for their first birthday, and with all the other books I’ve collected from being a teacher and a mom, these are the best children’s books that cultivate togetherness in our family.