Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Thirty Weeks!


This little guy and I - we've made it 30 weeks, friends.  I know I've said this before, but he is ROW-DY.  (That is the word "rowdy" with TWO syllables for more emphasis.)  Like, crazy rowdy.  Obviously, I have nothing to compare it to, but I am convinced, the bigger he gets, the more he is claustrophobic like his daddy.  I have felt little heels or elbows or something knobby jab me over and over.  He twists and turns and punches and kicks and wiggles...heck, I think he does somersaults.  I think he just likes to play and have a rambunctious-sort-of-fun. 

With this little one, I think I will have my hands full and my appreciation for quiet and stillness will multiply exponentially...  And I think Mark will finally have a playmate to do crazy things with...because, well, his wife likes to take hot baths and read books and other not-so-crazy things. 

I am almost finished with the nursery.  The picture above is of a little graphic I found online, colored, and cut out to frame on one of his walls.  "I Love Everything About You," it says.  Which, now that I think about it, might be sort of a lie.  I doubt I will love his poop.  Highly doubt that.  Oh well.  At least he will feel warm and fuzzy when he looks at the artwork, regardless.  I have one more frame to fill with a crafty something, a little spot to buy some sort of succulent or something green, and I am hoping to find a little teddy bear or stuffy to set on a shelf...but that's it.  When I am really finished I will post pictures.  Promise.

Happy 30 weeks to ME and my little buddy.  And, well...happy WEEK to you!

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Healthy Steps for Stubborn People Who Like Junk Food: YOGURT

To hear the full back story, click here!

The spark notes version of what I'm about to share is that Mark and I have changed our eating habits SLOWLY, but surely over the past two years!  We started with two road blocks:

1) Mark is stubborn and likes his food to taste good.  There was NO sneaking chalky-granola-tree-hugger food into our cupboards without him noticing and never TOUCHING it.

2) I am stubborn and have a very hard time breaking nasty habits.  I am the most undisciplined person I know.  SO, I knew any healthy changes we made would need to be slow, steady, noninvasive and relatively pain free.

We started to worry more about the things we ate more.  To learn about our bread choices, click here!  To learn about our milk choices, click here!

Though YOGURT might not seem like a staple item, trust me when I say that Mark and I go through a lot of yogurt.  We love it for breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks in between!

We started out eating the cheapest version of strawberry banana yogurt Wal-Mart or Hy-Vee offered.  It was usually an off-brand.



Why did we decide to make a change?  A couple of different reasons.


1) Sugars.  Friends, if there's anything you start to cut down on in your diet, do yourself a favor and cut down on sugars!  It is incredible the amount of sugar we eat without even realizing it.  Here are some articles that I'd highly recommend.  Sugar and Weight Loss Resistance | Sugar and Connections to Cancer |  Sugar and Your Immune System | Sugar and Depression

So...take a look at the nutrition facts on this strawberry banana yogurt.  TWENTY-SIX grams of sugar?  Are you kidding me?  In one little cup-sized container?  Holy smokes.  I am not against all sugar, but I would rather enjoy my sugar in the form of chocolate or potatoes or breads, rather than have all of these sugars hidden in my "healthy" yogurt.




2) Most "mainstream" yogurts like ours came with several sketchy ingredients we didn't want to consume.  Modified corn starches, preservatives like calcium sorbate, aspartame and other artificial sugars, high fructose corn syrup, and some strange food dyes.  I'd encourage you to read up about why some of these ingredients can be dangerous to your health.  Though I'm no expert, I included some quick and easy links to help you get started in wrapping your mind around this stuff.  See what you can find out for yourself!



Our first baby step: Stoneyfield Organic Vanilla yogurt.  Less artificial ingredients, healthy fats, and a little less sugar...twenty-TWO grams.  I told you it was a baby step.



Our NEXT baby step: Chobani Greek Vanilla Yogurt.  Less sugar (only 13 grams this time!), TONS of healthy protein (16 grams!).  We liked this yogurt, but struggled a bit with the texture.  If you've never tried greek yogurt before, it is a lot thicker, yet has some watery parts to it, if you don't stir it up.  Overall, it was really worth the change.




Our THIRD baby step: Stoneyfield Organic PLAIN yogurt.  This was a hard step to take.  Plain yogurt just does not taste like regular yogurt.  We stayed on this step for a while and really gave our taste buds some time to adapt to this less-sweet version.  The perks...only ELEVEN grams of sugar in this kind.  Not as much protein, but creamier, since it is NOT a greek version.  PS - To help ourselves adapt a bit, we added a lot of things to this yogurt - berries, peanut butter, cereals, granola, etc.  Eventually, we were able to add less and less and actually enjoy the real taste of the yogurt.



Our FOURTH baby step: Chobani Greek PLAIN yogurt.  Our taste buds had already adapted to creamy, plain yogurt, so this wasn't such a hard jump.  Plain greek yogurt has a little bit of tangy-ness, and has the same greek texture, but again, if you stir it up, the texture is great.  Again, we added granola, berries and whatever else we wanted to to this kind of yogurt to help us adapt.  Over time, we were able to eat it with less "add-ins".  We are still eating Chobani Greek Plain yogurt and loving it.  The perks include: only 7 grams of sugar, a whopping 18 grams of protein (this is almost more than a protein meal-replacer bar!), it's really filling, and can double as sour cream in tacos or other recipes to make them healthier.  Score.



Our favorite combination for breakfast is to add blueberries to Chobani.  For a snack (because it adds a little extra sugar, but 9 grams more protein!) is this Chobani yogurt mixed with Kashi Go Lean Crisp in the Toasted Berry Crumble flavor.

I would, once again, like to end this post by saying...  1) Research what I've said (I am not an expert, just offering our personal experiences), and find out what works best for YOU.  2) Don't stress, and take baby steps.  Over time, you will be able to stay consistent in your healthy choices because you will have given your taste buds time to adapt and you will learn to actually ENJOY this food.  If you go cold turkey, there's a chance Chobani will taste like tangy cardboard.  Don't say I didn't warn you to go slow, folks.  :)  Remember that any step forward is a step in the right direction!

PS - Stoneyfield brands are readily available in larger cities' Hy-Vee health market section.  Good news, though, Chobani yogurt and Kashi are available at Super Wal-Mart and sometimes Fareway- even in my small town!

PPS - (a repeat from last time) YES, healthy food is more expensive.  Mark and I choose to invest in our health in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way in more doctor visits and sick days.  Again, we choose to invest MORE in the things we eat MORE.  We continue to buy some things very cheaply but other, more important things, we are willing to shuck out more cash on.  One thing to consider - we SAVE money on buying extra protein bars or protein powders because we are gaining so much protein through our greek yogurt!

Good luck, folks.
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Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hello, Third Trimester!

Helllllooo third trimester!  Baby boy DeYounge and I have made it 28 weeks.

I am MORE than happy to have the FIRST trimester over...  It was such a dark and lonely place in all of the transition, the moving, the never-ending nausea, and the dreaded throwing up night after night...  Praise the Lord for His grace in the midst of it all.

I will have fonder memories of the second trimester.  We found out our little nugget was a boy (or a girl giving us the middle finger), we painted the nursery a dark navy color that I had been envying on Pinterest for a while, and I started feeling MUCH better around 20 weeks.  (My heart goes out to all of you sweet moms who have to endure sickness through the WHOLE pregnancy.  My, my...  I am praying for you!)  Food started tasting good again, and my loves for coffee (decaf, these days), ketchup and Mexican food came back!  I have never loved them more.  Mark and I celebrated our second anniversary, I started to take part in the outside world again and my life became more than cable TV and the porcelain throne.  I transitioned from a chunky tummy to a real, live, baby bump.  I learned a few things about "dressing" the bump.  Long shirts, stretchy jeans, cardigans, skinny belts, leggings and boots have become everyday staples.  I soon found out that our little guy was going to be rowdy and rambunctious, given how much he kicked and squirmed and jumped around.  Mark even felt the baby give him a "high five!"  We started reading lots of books, lots of articles, talking to lots of friends and processing all of our options when it comes to birth and caring for a newborn.  More on this later, but, as you can probably expect, I'm turning out to be sort of a tree hugger in the pregnancy area, too.  Surprise, surprise.  I am cherishing "happy" and positive birth stories and trying to weigh and toss out the more negative ones I hear.  Call me idealistic and naive.  I'm okay with that...

So far the third trimester seems to be characterized by extra sleepiness, which leads to more naps, of course...some heartburn...and trying to figure out how to sleep without kicking Mark out of the bed or being super-high maintenance.  Really, though, I'm feeling good and looking forward to meeting our little mister.  The month of April is looming...with lots of excitement, lots of unknown, lots of...well, just everything.

Ready or not!  Third trimester, here we come.
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Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hot Off the Press!


Custom color combinations to fit YOUR nursery's color scheme!  Hot off the press!

Visit the Elle Jay shop HERE!
Like the Elle Jay Facebook Page HERE!
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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thinking Happy Thoughts

On a scale of 1-10, today was a 4ish.  Not horrible and terrible, but not great.  Instead of focusing on the reasons why I feel so blah, I would like to focus on a few things that are making me happy lately...


My gnarly looking Christmas Cactus is blooming again.  I was almost ready to throw her out, she looked so dead and terrible before.  Lo and behold...  Christmas came around and she blossomed.  This makes me happy for SO many deep and metaphorical reasons...  :)  


My Christmas tree is still up and glowing brightly.  It will be up until President's Day, thankyouverymuch.  That is the deadline Mark gave to me.  He's a semi-reasonable man.



Coffee.  Decaf, that is.  I'm pregnant, folks.  Watch out.  I LOVE, love coffee, but didn't drink it for at least four months.  I was so sick with morning (all day) sickness and had such terrible heartburn, anything remotely acidic did terrible things to my stomach.  I am happy to report that I am now back in the coffee business.  And weirdly, I am liking cream these days.  So much for me being bad a$$ in liking it dark and strong.  This little guy in my belly is making a softie out of me!


Winter.  I love winter.  It is my favorite season.  Snow and all things warm and cozy inside.  What I wouldn't give for a crackly fireplace right now!  I hope the Lord blesses me with one someday. 


My Mark.  He is so great.  My favorite things about him recently include him working so, so hard on our house, preaching killer sermons about the deep things of God, everything He has taught me about discipleship, and his crazy amounts of patience in dealing with a higher-maintenance prego wife.  He is also hot, which is a bonus.


Making progress on this little bugger.  ...our house.  It used to be white, white, white.  And, I am slowly but surely making some delightful progress.  I NEED to thrift to really get the job done with finality.  I am praying in advance for treasures that are one dollar a piece.  Stay tuned for some fun nursery updates!

There.  I feel happier.  Bedtime, here I come!

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Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Healthy Steps for Stubborn People Who Like Junk Food: MILK


To hear the full back story, click here!

The spark notes version of what I'm about to share is that Mark and I have changed our eating habits SLOWLY, but surely over the past two years!  We started with two road blocks:

1) Mark is stubborn and likes his food to taste good.  There was NO sneaking chalky-granola-tree-hugger food into our cupboards without him noticing and never TOUCHING it.

2) I am stubborn and have a very hard time breaking nasty habits.  I am the most undisciplined person I know.  SO, I knew any healthy changes we made would need to be slow, steady, noninvasive and relatively pain free.

We started to worry more about the things we ate more.  To learn about our bread choices, click here!

Today I want to talk to you about our milk choices.  Since we drink A LOT of milk, I figured it'd be a good thing to begin to chip away at.

We started out by drinking the cheapest version of skim milk the grocery store offered.



I don't want to scare you, but studies are showing the regular ole grocery store milk is not such a good thing. My biggest hang-ups with cow's milk included the amount of antibiotics that transfer from the cow to the milk, the artificial hormones and genetically modified substances - which can translate into several not-so-fun health issues including hormone imbalances (which I struggled with), cancers, allergies, etc.  To make matters worse, in the regular pasteurization process, milk loses many of its natural beneficial nutrients and bacteria that help our bodies.  To learn more, click here!  (Or Google the topic!)

I also learned that humans are like, the ONLY, mammal that continue to drink milk regularly after infancy.  Something didn't make sense.  Maybe we weren't meant to drink milk in our adult years.  Another kicker is that my sister has struggled with migraines all her life, but when she gave up milk, her headaches took a dramatic turn for the better.  Hmm.  Though we loved our cheap-o HyVee cow's milk, we knew we wanted to make a change.

Our FIRST baby step: We started with ORGANIC cow's milk.  It has less hormones and antibiotics to worry about.  And, it tastes the same as regular milk.  Score.



Our SECOND baby step: We knew other forms of milk (besides cow's) offered more health benefits, so we tried a few different ones.  Almond milk, rice milk, etc.  Eventually, we chose coconut milk for some of its superior health benefits - mainly good fats and great nutrients.  Click here for more of its goodness.  I decided to be nice and buy the "Vanilla" flavored coconut milk at first...just to get Mark to drink it.  I knew his (our) taste buds just weren't ready to try the less-sweetened version yet without gagging.  We stayed with the vanilla version for several months and adapted.



Mark loved it.  I think he even told me he thought it tasted like an ice cream shake.

Our THIRD baby step: Though the vanilla coconut milk offers a lot of good things, they are outweighed a bit by the amounts of sugar used to make it taste more vanilla-y and sweet.  Without telling Mark, I sneaked the "Original"-flavored coconut milk in our fridge.  I don't think he even noticed.



We are STILL drinking Original-Flavored Coconut milk and loving it.  The BEST option would probably be to by the UNSWEETENED version, but we are content in where we're at for now.

I should also mention that I no longer struggle with hormone imbalances or migraines, so I am trusting that God used some of our milk choices (among other things) to bring about some healing.

Though others may disagree with me, I would recommend taking baby steps.  Like I said in my last post on healthy breads, over TIME, our taste buds learned to develop more of an appreciation for healthy food.  We were able to stay consistent in our healthy choices because we ENJOYED them, versus going cold turkey extreme right away and hating cardboard-tasting foods.  Experiment a bit and see what works for you!  ANY step forward is a step in the right direction!

PS - I live in a small town, and our nearby Super Wal-Mart carries all of these milks - yes, even the coconut milks.  If you live in a bigger city, Hy-Vee's health refrigerated section also has them.

PPS - YES, healthy food is more expensive.  Mark and I choose to invest in our health in a proactive way, rather than a reactive way in more doctor visits and sick days.  Again, we choose to invest MORE in the things we eat MORE.  We continue to buy some things very cheaply but other, more important things, we are willing to shuck out more cash on.  Figure out what YOU value and what works for you!

Good luck, folks.

Added 1/9/12 - Given some responses I've received about this issue I would like to clarify just a few things...  1. I LOVE dairy farmers and trust that there are FANTASTIC ones out there.  This is not meant to be an attack on this industry.  2.  My hope in posting some Google/Internet links in this post was to give you a quick "Spark Notes" idea of what I'm trying to convey.  Mark and I have not made our decisions based on the Internet.  Please talk to your doctor, read professional articles and research this in depth before you decide what works for you!  3. My intent on my blog is to share my personal experiences. I WELCOME everyone to research and seek these issues out for themselves!  Again, good luck in your journey!

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Crazy 2012


Hellllooo 2013!  I don't think I am ready for you quite yet.  I am still reminiscing a bit about this past year.  To say 2012 was CRAZY is a pretty big understatement.  Crazy fun, crazy trips, crazy time away from home, crazy decision-making processes, crazy transitions, crazy new things...  The list goes on.  Here's a look back, in the form of the longest blog post...ever.  

Terry peak 2012 - The best Young Life retreat yet.  So much fun relaxing in a beautiful cabin, in a beautiful area with beautiful friends with BEAUTIFUL hearts.




Florida & Young Life conference - Highlights included hearing from Francis Chan, having the entire Sea World park to ourselves, celebrating my birthday with fireworks at Epcot and a super fun day at Animal Kingdom.






Rapid City - Oh my word.  We stayed in such a beautiful lodge.  LOVED their breakfast.  Mark saw the Bad Lands for the first time!



Extreme Easter - Wowzers.  It WAS extreme.  I bet we put 200 miles on the suburban with this extreme scavengar hunt.


Bible study with the Young Life girls - Oh, how I miss these friends!  So many wonderful conversations about the Lord.  And...a few fun parties together.


Interviews at First Reformed in Sioux Center - God opened a door for Mark to interview for the youth pastor position at First.  The interview process and the committee were extremely loving and gracious, but it was a tricky season in beginning to think about the potential of God calling us to a new community and ministry.


Castaway Assignment - Mark and I spent the entire month of June at Young Life's Castaway Camp in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota.  It was a blessing to see Mark used in so many powerful ways, but it was also a hard month of decision-making and seeking the Lord.  We were up to our eyeballs in Young Life, but emotionally, we were having to process the potential of giving it all up and moving away.  So tough.  On the flip side, this was the view from our little deck in the room we stayed at all month.  Beautiful!


Young Life Timberwolf Camp - If I remember right, I think we took about 70 kids from Sioux Falls to Timberwolf Camp in Michigan for a week.  At this point, we knew that God was calling us to Sioux Center, so it was a last hurrah in a lot of ways for Mark and I.  We thoroughly enjoyed the energy of camp, the selflessness of our rock star leaders, and were super blessed to see lots of kids come to know Christ.



House Hunting - Oh my.  We looked at A LOT of homes in Sioux Center.  I had thought house hunting would be fun and exciting - like an episode off of HGTV.  Turns out, house hunting can be filled with number crunching, paper work, a silly game of back and forth in making offers, and some letting go of unrealistic ideals.  Humph.  Praise the Lord for the patience and endurance to get through the stress of this season.  Though we made an offer on a couple of cute places, this little guy was the one God had planned for us to buy.  Everything in this house was white.  White woodwork, white siding, and EVERY single wall in the house was white.  What a blank slate!  We are still in the process of painting and making it feel a little more homey.  It has taken a lot of work, we are loving being home owners.


Baby - The DAY AFTER we found out we got our little white house, we also found out that we were expecting our little (or not so little) Baby DeYounge.  Holy smokes.  To say that I was a little overwhelmed in dealing with the emotional stress of leaving a ministry, moving to a different community, changing churches, buying a home AND becoming a mom is an understatement.  It was a lot to process!  We had been trying to get pregnant for a while, though, so we were very, very grateful for the pregnancy.  We celebrated for a day or two...and then morning (or ALL DAY) sickness hit hard.  I still remember trying to get ready to move, packing a box, running to the toilet, packing another box, running to the toilet again...  The next two months were a blur...


Sioux Center - Somewhere in those blurry two months, we moved to Sioux Center.  Gracious friends and family came to unpack our boxes and get us relatively settled, and my main job became pretty simple - try NOT to puke.  I was a couch potato, an invalid, and depressed lady for what seemed like an eternity.  Little by little, I began to feel better and love being in a small town again.  Though Sioux Center has plenty of quirks, it has such a special place in my heart.  Moving, transition and surrender are tough things in life...yet, at the same time, there is SUCH great joy and peace that comes with knowing that you are in the center of the Lord's will - RIGHT where you are supposed to be...destined to be, even.  Praise the Lord for His guidance!

Dave & Bev Move! - About three weeks after we knew we were transitioning to Sioux Center, Mark's parents announced that THEY, too, were moving to Sioux Center.  They had lived previously in Mountain Lake, Minnesota for twenty-something years, and, through a series of crazy and miraculous events, the Lord opened a door, provided a job in town and moved them to our little town, too!  It's a blessing to have family in town, and we are really looking forward to having a "built-in" babysitter in the area too. :)

2nd Anniversary - We celebrated our second anniversary!  It, too, was somewhat of a blur between lingering morning sickness and exhaustion, but we were able to spend some time away, eat out at some fun places and get some pheasant hunting in for Mark.  Hooray for two years of marriage!  I am a lucky lady.



New Niece and Nephew - The DeYounge side is BOOMING with kids.  Next Christmas, we will have 7 grandchildren all at, or under, the age of 7.  Watch out, folks!  Mark's sister, Sara, and her husband, Jarrod, adopted another little girl from China.  Hannah is a little peanut.  She reminds me of Tinkerbell!!  Mark's brother, Ryan, and his wife, Amanda, just had their second child, Lydia!  She is teeny-tiny and perfect.  Looks like a little doll!  I tried to hog Lydia at Christmas time to practice my baby-holding skills.  


Etsy Shop - My Etsy shop is officially one year old!  I have been pleasantly surprised at how busy the "business" has kept me.  It's been super fun to have an outlet for some creativity, and God has used the shop to provide a little extra "home improvement" cash for us.  Such an enjoyable blessing.  Thanks to all of you that have contributed to this little dream of mine!  



Phew...  That was 2012, folks!  What a busy year!  Praising God for His crazy evident faithfulness to us.
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