Eating organic on a budget (aka it doesn’t involve Whole Foods)

Sometimes people act like I’m a lunatic (or a millionaire) when I tell them I buy almost all organic food. Note: I don’t believe I’m either, but am open to feedback 😂. 

I get a lot of blank stares and “it’s too expensive.” But my friends, let me tell you something about myself: I am one cheap mofo 🙋🏻. Like, I reuse ziplock bags (yep, I’m that girl) and clip coupons like a boss. So if I’m making this work, you can too. 

It’s gotten so much easier and more affordable in recent years that when I do the math, buying organic only adds about $20 a month to our grocery bill, if that. 

I’m sharing some of this info with my challenge group this week, and figured I’d post it here too. I’m not anything close to an expert, but the more I learn about our food system, the scarier it is that we’re even allowed to buy some of the things we see on grocery shelves. 

I’m also not perfect all the time by ANY means – right now there are Girl Scout cookies and a plethora of Easter candy in our house – but here are some of the ways we make sure most of what we eat is higher quality:

1. Shopping at Fry’s. Oh, for the love of everything holy, please shop at Fry’s. They carry their own line of Simple Truth organic products that is cheaper than what regular stuff costs at competitor grocery stores. No joke – at least 50 percent of the food in my house is this brand, from peanut butter to spinach to ketchup and hummus. Plus, Fry’s has the most brilliant CRM program of any retailer, and sends you coupons for exactly what you buy. Download the Fry’s app, and you can pre-load coupons to be added to your account. Just search “Simple Truth” or “organic” and it takes 30 seconds to have these savings applied. And in case I haven’t sold you yet, please remember the Click List…where you shop online, then swing by and pick up your pre-bagged groceries without leaving your car? #solidgold

2. Shop at Costco. First – who doesn’t love Costco? And second, buying in bulk can make sense even for smaller families, because you can’t beat the prices on non-perishable organic stuff here like honey, apple cider vinegar, peanut butter and more. Their organic meat is also the most affordable I’ve found, and you can buy the big packages and freeze it to store it. Also, you get to eat samples while you shop. I like this very much. 

3. Don’t put undue pressure on yourself to replace your entire pantry overnight, or feel that this has to be an all-or-nothing type of lifestyle. If you’re interested in shifting to eat more organic, make gradual changes. Start with meat or dairy, then start adding in fruits and veggies, then try incorporating some other staples and condiments. Let it be fun and educational, not stressful.

Eating organic food may not make you feel different in a day or even a year, but if anything is worth the investment, my vote is that it’s your health. 


Fleeting moments to remember 

1. “I threw my popsicle yesterday. That was vewwy unkind. That make you vewwy sad.”

2. “Mommy’s taking me to school? And Daddy’s picking me up? That’s a GWATE idea!”

3. “I dream about piggies and snakes. They sing to me.”

4. “Daddy, you forget my water bottle. That’s your fault.”

5. “We should send this painting to Gtandma because it’s so bootiful.”

6. “Maybe I can help you find Monkey George. Maybe he’s under my bed. Oh, you found him? You were just kidding!”

7. I was so bwave at swimming. I get a donut?”

8. “I give Bruno one kiss. The dogs is our fam-a-wee.”

9. “Mommy, you don’t eat too much food, okayyy? Cause then your baby come out and you have a stomach ache.”

10. Oh! The caterpillar go away! He popped outta his cocoon and is a bootiful butterfly!

A Long Story about a Toilet Paper Rose

I’ve gotten a lot of financial advice in my life, and most of it’s been pretty good. There’s one lesson I didn’t fully learn until recently though, which is there has to be balance. Meaning, pay off debt and save enough to plan for the future, but also, go ahead and use some of  your hard-earned money. Find the balance that positions you securely but supports your sanity.

We save for retirement. We save for emergencies. We save enough to give to charities we believe in. Who’s been a saver her entire life? This girl. 

But today I did something I’ve never done in my whole life and paid to have our house professionally cleaned. Because we have two dogs. And two jobs. And a toddler. 
Because I could not physically bring myself to clean the bathroom with a butternut squash-sized human in my belly. 

Because we don’t have cable and I rock coupons at the grocery store and literally don’t know the last time I got my nails done. 

But I needed this. 

I’ve often thought critically about people who hire house cleaners. I saw it as a frivolous expense and something we could manage ourselves (and I guess it’s easy for me to say because my husband is the one that mops the floors and cleans the kitchen). I just always tend to think about what else I could do with the money I saved…but then I would just continue to save…and never do anything with it. 

Here’s what finally swayed me. I know damn well that when I stop one day to look back on my life, I’ll have far more regrets about missing out on family time because I was vacuuming than I would about spending a bit more this month to make our lives a lot easier. I’ll regret not treating myself once in a while in order to be a better wife and mom. 

This isn’t something we’ll do all the time, but when I got home today, the house looked, smelled and felt fabulous. So I therefore felt fabulous. And please, please just look at this magnificent toilet paper rose I walked in to see in the bathroom. If this isn’t worth a little splurge I do not know what is. 

Everyone has their own approach to finances and I know it’s not a simple one size fits all. But I also know I feel really good about this decision. And that toilet paper rose is a thing of beauty. 

Two and a half 

I sometimes wonder what I was like on a daily basis as a two and a half year old, now that I’m living with one. I’ve probably said this every time I pause to consider a milestone or transition as a parent, but I really think this is my favorite stage so far. 

To be able to sit and have a dinner conversation with your child is just so entertaining. And as I watch the daily evolution of language, independence and personality, I revel in your growth; so much so that I sometimes overlook the fact that you’re still so little. You’re no longer reliant on us for all the things you used to be (you can get your own snacks, brush your own teeth and clear your dishes), but I crave the sweet, fleeting moments each day where you still need mommy and daddy. 

The funniest part of parenting you right now is the spontaneous generation of your thoughts and speech. It’s like a never-ending, in-person sitcom where you’re the writer, director and producer. You wake up singing every single day, like clockwork, and from that moment forward it’s non-stop chatter and observations on the world around you. 

I could never anticipate the hilarious things that come out of your mouth, but man I love observing it all. I never knew kids your age had a sense of humor, but you love hiding from us, shouting, “I’m just kidding,” and saying things that you know are “just being funny.” Like yesterday when you told us rock- flavored ice cream would “siwwy.” You also offered me an espresso when I picked you up from school today, so there’s that. 

Parenting is very different right now than ever before. It feels like there are endless combinations of what can be considered right and wrong, and being a good parent is far more subjective today than a year ago. I’m very focused on teaching you to be kind and to be brave. We talk about what this means every day. Both your dad and I encourage your independence and to keep trying when things are hard (like climbing into the car by yourself or working on a tough puzzle). But we also prioritize letting you evolve as your own individual self (you can choose your own clothes and the books we read each night).

We work to maintain a sense of order and set clear expectations and routines for you, but we also try to avoid creating rules and structure just for the sake of it. We want you to fully and freely enjoy being you before the world starts becoming far more demanding. 

You know you’re going to be a big sister, and you love offering the baby in my tummy food, kisses and a paci. I’m simultaneously excited and terrified for how the change will impact you, but I know you’ll take it all in stride. 

Cool things: you can identify all of your letters and numbers by sight and have about 25 songs memorized. You also make up your own words to songs now. You eat absolutely everything we offer you. You are starting to let me brush and style your hair instead of flipping out when I try. You have an incredible (and somewhat unnerving) memory. 

Favorite activities: painting, using a rolling pin and cookie cutters to cut out play-doh shapes, going to the park, giving all your plastic animals a bath in the tub, jumping on your “trampayeen.”

Dislikes: being woken up before you’re ready, when anything is out of place in your room before bed, having to come inside when you’re playing outside, when someone takes your food without asking. 

Cute recent phrases: “Guess what? I wuv you.” “You put a lotta pepper on your food? You like it spicy?” “I wanna go to the farm, I like pig-wits.” “This our fam-a-wee car. No one else. Just our fam-a-wee.” “You feel a wittle sick mommy? You feeling better?”

Through it all, you’re my favorite human, without a doubt. 

The past few months

The past few months have been…a lot. A lot of good and a lot of changes.

In June I started a big new job. In July, I travelled to Nashville for a conference and a bachelorette party during the same weekend. In August, Lila changed rooms at school, Jim went out of town and I started a year-long leadership academy.

In September, we moved into a new house, and found out we were expecting baby # 2 the same weekend. Then two weeks later, we travelled out of town to be in our dear friends’ wedding. At the end of the month, I had my Valley Leadership retreat out of town – the same weekend I was set to attend a coaching retreat in Phoenix. Naturally I got strep throat that weekend, too, but made it to both retreats.

In October, our old house went under contract. Then my car died – like, needs-to-be-replaced died, so we sold it and started sharing a car for the most part (fortunately Jim has a company car during the week). Then my doctor saw something troubling on my ultrasounds so I started having scans every two weeks that insurance didn’t feel like covering (these were deemed labs, not prenatal care) and I was put on restricted activity (no workouts, waaa). My brother visited from Australia at the end of the month and we had a whirlwind few days with him.

In November, the old house fell out of contract, throwing us for a loop. Lila somehow managed to get two UTIs in the midst of this, which meant some unpleasant visits to urgent care and then a renal ultrasound, which was completely clear, thank G-d. Then it was the election, and the holidays, holidays, holidays — all of which made me question humanity. In December, my ultrasounds thankfully cleared up and the house went back under contract.

In January, we got a letter from the IRS telling us we owed them a lot of money (rude), but some investigating revealed it was an error on the part of a past employer, so that was resolved. Through all of it, I was learning my new job, running my coaching business, serving as a school board member and participating on a couple of non-profit committees. I was trying to be a good wife and mom and friend and human (results: debatable). Oh and today, we finally closed on our old house.

So it’s been a lot when I stop and list it all like that, but not all bad – not at all. So much good mixed in with the chaos.

Throughout all of it, the desire to sell our old house weighed heavily on me. It was a lingering stressor I just wanted to wipe away. So inevitably, the closing today was a long awaited moment to exhale, something I’d been counting down to for weeks. But as I just said to Jim tonight, I think I expected to feel this huge change and sense of relief today…and I don’t. It’s hard to explain, but it’s a good thing. I think it means I finally learned the lesson that I had no control all along, and just had to trust the process. The more I tried to “manage” everything we were experiencing, the less I realized I could actually influence any of it. It took a long time to recognize that and relinquish the white-knuckle grip I’d been trying to maintain on my life.

*10 points to Jim for refraining from shouting, “I TOLD YOU SO, YOU NUTJOB.”

I am an anxious person. I am especially sensitive sometimes. So this season often felt like one ginormous stretch goal in terms of personal development. Some moments I struggled just to exist without knowing exactly how things would work out.

Part of me would like to sound the gavel and declare this chapter in life officially closed, but I know very well that another challenge is waiting just around the corner. One that likely will cause me to chastise myself for ever thinking these circumstances were anything but a walk in the park. That’s life. It’s not necessarily meant to be easy and uncomplicated, but every situation can somehow provide an opportunity to learn or grow. Don’t take that to mean I’ve handled all of this gracefully, because I haven’t. But I can recognize that if things were always peachy, I’d be a pretty crappy mom and wife. I’d be out of touch with my friends, with a narrow perspective and less of an ability to empathize.

One of the lessons I learned through all of this was that despite all the practical things you can do, and no matter how carefully you play by the rules, troubling shit can still happen. It’s not punishment: it’s life. I gained a new (and perhaps more adultish) appreciation for how critical good friends are (those of you who bore the brunt of my angst via text, and checked in on me, thank you – you know who you are). And thank you to my husband who has weathered far more stressed-out-preggo wife moments than any man should have to bear, and yet still rubs my feet and cooks me dinner.

I’ve also gained a new awareness that while sometimes things feel colossally hard, at the end of the day, nothing matters except the health and well-being of your loved ones. Nothing. Not the balance in your checking account, the title on your office door or the number of stamps in your passport. It’s something you hear all the time, but it’s hard to remember some days. I need to make sure it’s on my radar way more often.

The introvert in me is hoping things quiet down a bit for a while. If we’re being totally honest, I’d be on board with sitting alone in a dark room for several weeks, watching reruns of Parks and Recreation under a blanket with a bag of Donettes. We all know that’s not going to happen, but no matter what comes along, it will somehow work out as it should.



some thanks and some thoughts

I first became a health coach about two years ago, and as I think about what the experience has been like, I’m really thankful for everyone who’s been supportive of the journey. Whether you’ve tried Shakeology or a new fitness program, joined a challenge group or simply liked my Facebook posts, I appreciate you. And if you’ve been critical or made fun of it, I appreciate you too, because you made me stronger in this process.

When I started out on this path, I had no idea what I was doing. None. I’d discovered some fitness tools and products that made a huge difference in my life at a really critical time, and I knew that if I became a coach, I could get a discount on them, so I signed up. That’s the truth, folks. I wasn’t sold on the actual coaching aspect at first, but I did think it’d be cool to share what had worked for me with others.

Flash forward to now, and my role as a coach has become a bigger part of my life than I ever imagined. Coaching has filled a gap left by my traditional jobs and forced me to be way more of a leader and self-starter. It’s also pushed me to be way more vulnerable than usual, because really connecting with people means baring parts of yourself that aren’t typically on display.

And at first, it all made me uncomfortable as hell.

Was I nervous to be part of a multi-level marketing network? Averse to selling things? Afraid to crash and burn? Yeah, all of those things.

But sometimes fear and discomfort are the biggest signs that growth is coming. And if you’re willing to grimace and be sort of nauseas and sweaty as you navigate through those feelings, some pretty amazing stuff can happen.

So a few months in, I said F it, and decided to really give it a shot. I told myself that if I hated it after a year or so I would stop, and committed to sticking just to the parts of the business I enjoyed rather than striving for income goals or the highest ranks. My first goal for myself was literally just to not quit (bold, I know).

I quickly learned that one benefit of coaching while working fulltime was that I wasn’t driven by income – I had that already – so I was able to truly act in the best interest of anyone who asked for support (which is definitely NOT to say those who coach exclusively are money hungry, just reflecting on my personal experience). I also learned that no one wants to be “salesy,” and no one wants to be “sold” anything, but that sharing openly is how real connections are formed.

On a personal front, coaching introduced me to a new way of living. I feel better and stronger. I’ve stopped a toxic love/hate relationship with the scale and learned the right ways to measure health and progress. I’ve traded the satisfaction I used to feel when I could fit into a certain size of clothing for the pride I feel when I kill a tough workout. It’s not a walk in the park – I still have food guilt and obsess over my appearance certain days, because society is rough, man. And body image struggles are way more pervasive than any of us wants to recognize. As parent, I’ve starting making it a point to alter my own language and habits to set a better example: I don’t have to work out, I want to work out. I’m not “being bad” when I eat dessert, and I’m very careful with the adjectives I use to describe physical appearance.

This journey has taught me a lot, especially in how I share it with others. There’s a great deal of misunderstanding around the blurred lines between being an encourager and being disrespectful to different body types. What I’ve realized is that not everyone will get it, and that sometimes the most well intentioned messages are interpreted in a way you never intended. And unfortunately, as with any business in the world, the bad stories tend to make bigger headlines than the positive ones.

But most of all I’ve also learned that a lot of us – most of us, in fact – are scared of making changes. Because we might fail, or we failed before, or we just don’t know how to ask for help. And this is so completely normal.

When it comes to making healthy lifestyle changes, I promise you can do it. Even if you’re super busy, or had an injury, or don’t have extra money to spend, or aren’t a shake person, or have tried and failed, or don’t have childcare, or have a longer way to go than you’d like; you can still do it.

You can still do it.

I know a lot of us are thinking about healthy changes in the New Year, and if I can be of any support, please don’t hesitate to reach out. It might be the conversation that changes everything.

Lila at 28 months

I think the most fascinating part of this stage of parenting is that it’s no longer a one-way street. Instead of a baby who depends on you for food, mobility and imaginative dictation, there’s a two-year-old who feeds herself, runs and trikes all over the place and talks and sings every moment she is awake. Gone are the days of wondering what she’s thinking – today we know, we always know – and it’s an absolute trip to hear the things that come out of your mouth on a daily basis.

We do our best to ask open-ended questions, not only to encourage lengthier conversations, but also for the sheer entertainment value. We’ve entered the stage of WHY, and I’ll be damned if I’m not completely stumped at the end of each round of questioning. I don’t know why some cars have different sounding horns or it was sunnier today than yesterday, or why my soup was spicy, but I love your endless curiosity.

You are genuinely always chipper unless you’re sick or exhausted. You are animated and imaginative, and don’t stop talking from the moment you wake up until you go to bed. You love to be silly and make us laugh, and are a careful observer in new situations. You love the simplicity of playing, and often jump into games with kids at your school without a moment’s hesitation, even when you don’t know them. You are a good listener and rule follower, scolding anyone who walks in the street instead of the sidewalk, and refusing to take food we offer you if “still chewing momma.”

Your Favorite Things: Stickers, your tricycle, talking about animals, inflatable holiday decorations, books, climbing on Daddy, watching children’s songs on Youtube and art projects. You’re fascinated by dinosaurs and pushing buttons on different things, and love FaceTime.

Lately you’re insisting that you read your books out loud to us, instead of the other way around. You bring us both pillows (stuffed animals) and won’t begin until we’re laying on our backs watching you. “I read dis book now Mommy?” You’ve memorized an impressive amount of children’s books, and when you forget the words, you make up scenarios based on illustrations. 

Tucking in all your animals at bedtime is a formal routine, as is sharing breakfast with them when you wake up. 

You enjoy monitoring all the neighborhood holiday decorations – when inflatables are on you shriek, “toys awake!” and when they’re deflated, “toys fall over.” 

You’re constantly explaining all your actions, “I take my sweater off, Mommy, my sweater toooo hot.”

You like picking out your own clothes, weather-permitting, and laying on your back so we can trace you with chalk. 

Lately you’re asking to sit at the big table to eat with Mommy and Daddy, or assign us seats at your tiny table for meals. You continue to love all food and drinks, except bell peppers and Perrier (I do not blame you).

Sometimes you’re naughty. You will color all over your face and hands with markers, or make a big mess of something and run away refusing to pick it up. Your tantrums are generally short-lived and easily diverted, but can be ferocious at times.

You sing ALL the time and it is amazing. You know the words to 20+ songs and insist on singing alone (meaning you shout at anyone who tries to join in). 

As for me, I love being your mom.

I don’t care that you turned two, I still won’t flip your carseat around to face the front. I’ve spoken to specialists and done the research, and even if you have to bend your legs and my own seat is at an awkward angle, you’re so much safer this way. 

I don’t encourage you to give people hugs or kisses if you’re resisiting it, even relatives. I want you to feel in control of your body and never that you have to comply with physical expectations that make you uncomfortable. 

And I still check on you while you’re sleeping, every single night. (After you’ve stopped singing to yourself.)