Confessions of Weight Wackiness

Yesterday I decided to try on my shorts and begin packing for a trip I am taking out to California this week with my mom and my sister. Let’s just say it was a wake-up call. The combination of my decision to throw away my scale last fall and the extra indulgences over the holidays (and my birthday AND Valentine’s Day) were most likely part of the reason why my super cute summer duds were, well, … super tight. I was surprised and discouraged because I’ve been eating really healthy (most of the time) and running or working out five or six days a week as I prepare for the Big Sur marathon. I tried to say to myself, “Oh well.” But what I actually did was blurt out a few expletives and then put on my workout clothes and get on my elliptical machine. A little wacky, I know.

So my shorts wouldn’t button, whatever. It really isn’t that big of a deal, right? There are definitely much larger and more important matters in the world. But, the thing is, I’ve ridden the weight roller coaster up and down a lot over my adult life and I’m ready to get off this ride.


I was always pretty slim and active growing up. But I remember even as a teenager weighing myself frequently and being concerned with making the number on the scale lower, even though I’m pretty sure I had nothing to be concerned about. I remember doing workout “tapes” in my room. I recall intentionally eating very little at times and feeling light-headed at school because I was hungry. In college, I put on the Freshmen Fifteen, and the Sophomore Fifteen, and the Junior Fifteen and the Senior Fifteen and took it off every summer in between. In fact there’s one summer I remember taking diet pills and surviving virtually only on cigarettes and coffee. Wacky. Or just plain stupid, really.

After college, when I began working full-time in Chicago, my weight definitely ballooned. I was eating more and moving a lot less. The stress and long work days didn’t help. When I moved to Ohio in 2002 and didn’t go out drinking with friends my weight went back down. Then I became pretty thin in preparation for my wedding in 2004. I gained weight again when I couldn’t get pregnant and had to take fertility drugs. Then I gained and lost weight again with each of my three pregnancies. After having John I told myself I was getting in the best shape of my life and I did. I lost all 30 or 35 pounds of baby weight plus the extra 15 or 20 pounds I put on after our wedding. I worked so hard to reach my goals and I swore I would never go back.

In fact, I felt so good and was so motivated that I just kept going and probably got too thin for me to realistically maintain. In the summer of 2013 I was the thinnest I have been in my adult life. At about 112 pounds and a size 0, I was very focused. As I’ve said before, there is a fine line between dedication and obsession. In retrospect, I think then I was spending too much time and energy focusing on a number on a scale instead of on just being healthy and feeling good.

When I began running further distances that summer I actually started to gain a little weight. That might be surprising to some. When training for my first half marathon I quickly discovered I needed more fuel and energy than what I had been eating up until then. Sure, I was burning thousands of calories sometimes on a long run, but I was, therefore, constantly hungry all the time. Sometimes I would overcompensate and end up eating too much. Usually all healthy food, but calories are still calories. I see now that my body was trying to tell me something.

I mentioned earlier that I boycotted my scale late last year because I decided I was SICK of the weight battle. I was tired of putting so much effort into eating well and exercising frequently most of the time and then indulging over the weekend and seeing the scale go right back up and feeling defeated. I was sick of depriving myself and feeling hungry trying to maintain a number on a scale, probably an unrealistic one. We did end up buying another scale, but now I weigh myself only now and then. I weigh about 10 pounds more now than I did at my thinnest. Most days I am confident that this is a healthier, more realistic weight for me. Other days (like when I’m packing my shorts for a trip in the dead of winter) I just want to fit in my favorite cute summer clothes.

Ok, so I’ve shared a lot. Why? Because I think we are at an important crossroads in this country with regard to this topic. I think there are some real issues that need to be solved. And perhaps, I hope, that my experiences and outlook might help someone else gain perspective.


I am struck by the contrast that exists in our country at this present time between the growing obesity epidemic and the health obsessed. On one end of the spectrum people (and children) in the US are heavier than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than one-third (34.9% or 78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. Obesity-related conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, are on the rise and are some of the leading causes of preventable death. This is shocking. On the other end of the spectrum there are the weight and health obsessed; counting calories, analyzing every ingredient on every box of food we purchase, fasting, detoxing, eliminating entire food groups, striving to workout as hard and as often as we can find time to fit in and weighing in every day. I won’t attempt to begin the discussion here on why this gap exists. That’s a separate post (or a whole book really). What I do know is that the struggle between weight gain and weight loss is a big problem for a lot of us.

Entertainment and social media as well as pop culture are certainly not helping this issue. Magazine covers are constantly splattered with images of celebs spotted in their bathing suits looking heavier than usual with a huge headline shouting things like, “Kim Lets Herself Go.” While the next cover features images of too thin models with their ribs showing, being accused of fighting eating disorders. “Addicted to Dieting” or “Starving to be Sexy” they say. And I get so sick of the ones I see that are like, “I Lost All My Baby Weight Before I Left the Hospital.” Come on! “Be thin, but not TOO thin” they seem to tell us. The message they are really sending is BE PERFECT. While something needs to change to get people in this country healthier, “Be Perfect” is definitely the wrong message to be sending to our young people.

The food industry is complicating things by confusing people as they intentionally label highly processed foods to appear healthy. And the overload of information about how to lose weight with so many different diet and exercise plans certainly isn’t helping anyone. One day people are hearing they should eat no carbs and the next they’re hearing they should give up meat. I fear that many Americans think that working out means being subjected to torture the way the contestants on The Biggest Loser are yelled and screamed at if they can’t do enough push ups. It’s no wonder so many of us are so confused about how and what to eat and how to maintain a healthy weight.


So when my shorts wouldn’t button and I immediately hopped on the elliptical and began planning out the cleanse I would do this week, maybe that was a little wacky. I hate that I did that. I have to believe I’m not the only one that sometimes loses perspective. Based on how many times I’ve seen the headline, “Drop 10 Pounds Fast”, I’m guessing there are others who are always fighting the weight battle.

Today I’m asking myself why I put SO much effort into being healthy and maintaining my weight so that I can recognize my shortfalls and take a more balanced approach. Here’s what I came up with. Maybe you can relate.

It’s my personality. I’m an overachiever, a perfectionist, strong-willed and a little competitive. I like order, control and routine. I have a hard time doing things half-ass. If I put my mind to something I go “balls out” or I don’t do it at all.  I obsess out of fear of losing control and therefore my weight spiraling out of control.

To be my best. I want to look good and feel good. I want to eat healthy and train properly to be the best athlete, the best mother, the best person I can be.

Everyone else is obsessing. If I’m being honest with myself, maybe I obsess because I think I am supposed to. Perhaps it feels like everyone else is obsessing too. It’s the old “keeping up with the Joneses” adage.

Environmental and Cultural Implications. I buy the healthiest, least processed food I can to make a statement to the food industry that we will not tolerate being fed “artificial food-like substances” sprayed with chemicals detrimental to our health. The only way we will create change in this country is to change the foods we buy.

I hate the alternative. So what’s the alternative? Give up? Not care? Not the right choice.

Because I care. Walking through the grocery store today picking only my favorite, healthiest foods and avoiding the garbage, I realized that I obsess because I care. I care about my health and the health of my family. I want to live a long, healthy, happy life and be around my children, my husband, my family and friends as long as possible. I want to live life to the fullest on this great planet.


Here’s where I’ve landed after a lot of contemplation. Despite my animosity for my bathroom scale, it is, in fact, VERY important to maintain a healthy weight and be fit so that we can live a long, fulfilling life. Eat well most of the time. Exercise often to be strong, fierce, happy, confident and free. But don’t get caught up in narcissism and egotism. Use a bit of that powerful energy toward doing good in the world. Obsessing over a number on the scale (especially an unrealistic one) or the size of your jeans is NOT healthy. None of us are perfect. We are all human. Life is short. Indulge a little now and then. BALANCE is a very important word. I whisper it to myself when I lose perspective.

It is imperative that we teach our children and their generation to eat healthy, real foods and to be active. That is one of the most important ways we can change the obesity epidemic for the better and reverse the prediction of their lower life expectancy. But I also don’t want to teach my children to obsess over it. I don’t want them to see me checking my weight on the scale each morning, entering every bite I eat into my calorie counter, overanalyzing every ingredient list or cursing because my shorts don’t fit. Because I don’t want them to live their life that way. Yes, I want to teach them how to choose products that are organic, non-GMO, pastured, whole foods, but I also want them to be thankful for ALL the food we are lucky enough to put on our table and remind them that not every family is so lucky to always have a full refrigerator. I want to teach them about self-confidence and balance. And I want to raise my daughters to know that they are beautiful and perfect just the way they are.

Your body is but a vessel for your spirit to experience life here on Earth to the fullest. Ultimately, I think we should honor our bodies and stay healthy so that we may do the things that fulfill our spirit and that honor God.

Hair Bow How-To

A few of you might remember that my first stint with blogging began back before John was born when I was working on building my children’s clothing and accessories business, Lizzie & Coco. The blog name was virtually the same (Running with Scissors), but at a different web address. Today I’m re-sharing one of those original posts from 2012 when I provided a tutorial on how to make a children’s hair bow. It was lost in cyber-space and I wanted to give it a new home here. Here’s a look at the types of things I was making back then. Look at little John. I wish I could go back and give him more kisses on those chubby cheeks.

I kept the business alive for about six months after John was born, but it became too much to juggle. That’s when the reality of life with three kids set in. I was overwhelmed. I was doing too many things and I wasn’t doing any of them well. Or not as well as I’d like, at least. So I put it on the back burner for awhile.

Now my creative fire is burning again and while writing this blog helps me release some of my pent up creative energy, I’m being called to create more. So, I’ve been giving very serious consideration to reviving my “business”. I have very little time to devote to it, so it’s really more of a hobby at this point. I’m thinking I’d work under a new name (just my first and middle names) and with more of an emphasis on decor (some for kids but also for the rest of your home). Here’s a draft of a “logo” idea I’ve been working on. I would sell framed prints of my nature photographs as well as throw pillows I make from fabrics I love. I would also sell the children’s wall art I used to do. I’m still not sure if I would sell the little baby shirts and bows I focused on before. There’s so much of that out there already. My first and most important job is raising my children and running my household, but photography and creating things is a passion of mine that I feel driven to express and share with others. Like running, these crafts are an escape, a sort of therapy, that makes me feel more whole and, well, happy. I will keep you posted as I consider this more and possibly work toward getting this off the ground. I’d love to hear what you think of the idea.

Etsy Shop Logo

But back to the bows, here’s the original post I shared in March of 2012. I hope it helps you utilize some of your own creative energy to make something special and unique for your own children.


Hair Bow RainbowWith two daughters, one who was born with a full head of hair and the other who idolizes Rapunzel, I figured I should learn how to make hair bows. Caroline’s hair has always been difficult to manage. At one point she had a chunk of hair that always stuck up in the back… for several months straight. I called it her “peacock feather.” I would slick it down and it would pop right back up. As she has gotten older and her hair has grown longer, it has become even more unkempt. I couldn’t find hair bows or barrettes that would keep her hair back, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

I began by making barrettes embellished with felt flowers. Soon after I started making headbands and hair bows. Today, I’ll show you how I make hair bows. There are various methods, but this is what I have found works best for me. It takes a little practice, but once you get the process down, it’s really quite easy. Soon you’ll be hooked and you’ll want to make a hair bow in every color of the rainbow. Here’s what you will need:


  • One piece of 1.5″ ribbon cut 24″ long
  • One piece of 3/8″ ribbon cut 2″ long. Here it is fun to use a ribbon that is similar in color but includes polka dots, ticking stripe, etc.
  • Thread in coordinating color
  • Needle (Thread the needle and knot it before you begin the project).
  • Scissors
  • Lighter
  • Hot glue gun
  • Barrette of your choice (not pictured here). I  like to use medium-sized french barrette clasps as they keep Caroline’s hair in place all day. I have also used alligator clips for bows I have made for babies and children with less hair. You can also attach the bow to a headband wrapped in grosgrain.


Step 1: Fold the long piece of ribbon in half. Cut off the very ends of the ribbon diagonally. Using the lighter, quickly run the flame along the cut edges of the ribbon. This will melt the edges and keep the ribbon from fraying.

Step 1

Step 1


Step 2: Loop the top portion of the ribbon around and on top of itself. The pointy part of the ribbon’s diagonal cut edge should point toward you not away from you.

Step 2

Step 2


Step 3: Loop the loose end of the ribbon back up on top of itself and away from you. You now have formed the top two loops of the bow.

Step 3

Step 3


Step 4: Loop the loose end underneath the other loops forming the third loop of the bow. The loose end should now be pointing toward you. 

Step 4

Step 4


Step 5: Loop the loose end over top of the other loops forming the fourth and final loop of the bow. 

Step 5

Step 5


Step 6: Flip the bow over, careful not to let go of it. Look at each loop to ensure they are equal in size. Adjust accordingly. Now working with both hands, you will fold the center part of the bow four times. Use your right hand to fold and your left hand to gather and hold the bow. Hold it tight!

Step 6

Step 6

Step 7: Holding the bow with your left hand, grab your threaded needle and push it through the center of the bow, pulling the thread through completely. Then, wrap the thread around the center of the bow two or three times. Then, push the needle back through the center of the bow, knot it and cut off the excess thread. You now have a bow!

Step 7

Step 7

After Step 7

After Step 7


Step 8: To finish the bow off, next you’ll want to use the lighter on the edges of the small piece of ribbon to also keep those from fraying. Place a small bead of glue from your hot glue gun on the center of the back side of your bow. Press down lightly for a minute until the glue is dry. Then wrap the 3/8″ ribbon around the front side of the bow. Finally place another bead of glue on the back side of the bow again and press down on the loose end of the ribbon.

Step 8

Step 8

Step 8

Step 8


Step 9: You’re almost done! Now, you just need to glue your barrette to the back. Place a strip of hot glue along the back side of the barrette of your choice. Before you do so, make sure to figure out which way you want the barrette to close based on how you would put it in your little one’s hair. Quickly (hot glue dries pretty fast) press the bow onto the center of the back of the bow.

Step 9

Step 9

That’s it! It will take a little practice getting each loop the right size, but I promise it will become easier the more you do it. Here’s one I made and attached to a headband instead of a barrette. (I can’t believe how little Elizabeth looks here in the summer of 2012.)

Headband with Bow

With that I just want to say thank you for all your support! I dreamed up this blog just last summer and it has already provided me so much more joy and has been more fulfilling than I ever imagined. I have made new contacts and friendships, it has opened new doors and created opportunities I never even considered possible. I have heard from many of you with stories of how I have helped motivate you to begin running or to be more active, how I’ve inspired you to eat healthier or cook more, or just how I’ve helped you keep the challenges of parenthood in perspective. Thanks for traveling on this journey with me!

Halibut with Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce

Broiled HalibutI know I’ve been posting a lot of recipes lately, but I’ve been doing a lot of cooking this week! And this one is so good, I must share it! Yesterday for Valentine’s Day my husband and I stayed in and cooked a nice meal together while my in-laws watched our kids for the night. (I know… we are spoiled). We cracked open a bottle of bubbly, lit some candles, and sat next to each other at our own dinner table. We got to eat while our food was STILL HOT and we were able to have an ACTUAL conversation without being interrupted by someone asking for ketchup or water or MORE food. What a luxury!

Here’s what we made. It is quickly becoming my favorite way to prepare fish.


  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper
  • 2 to 4 (5 oz.) filets of Halibut (preferably wild)
  • 4 Tbsp. melted butter (I use Organic Valley Pasture Butter)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. dried parsley
  • rind of half a lemon

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray or coat with a small amount of butter or olive oil and place filets in dish. Brush the fish with a small amount of oil and season with sea salt and pepper. In a small bowl combine all of the other ingredients and mix well. Spoon half to three quarters of the sauce of the fish. Save the rest. Turn on the broiler of your oven. Place fish under broiler and cook for about 20 minutes until the fish is cooked through to your liking. I like to let it go until the top of the fish looks browned and crispy. Serve fish with brown rice or potatoes and your favorite vegetable. Spoon the remaining lemon butter over the fish before serving.


Nutrition Facts (For 1 Fish Filet)

Calories: 220

Fat: 17.1 g

Cholesterol: 52.5 mg

Sodium: 73 mg

Potassium: 9.1 mg

Carbs: 0 g

Fiber: .2 g

Sugars: .1 g

Protein: 14.8 g

Vitamin A: 8%

Vitamin C: 5.6%

Calcium: .1%

Iron: .3%

Cupid’s Crunch Snack Mix

Yum!I was signed up to bring a “salty snack” for Caroline’s Kindergarten Valentine’s Party. Snacks at our house are usually fruits, vegetables, cheese or nuts, but I wanted to bring something a little fun and festive. So I gathered up some “healthier” salty snacks, mixed them all together and added a little drizzle of dark chocolate over top. Because, what’s Valentine’s Day without a little chocolate, right? It’s still a healthier snack than all the candy in their Valentine’s box.

Here’s my very quick and simple recipe.



  • Healthier Party Mix4 cups mini pretzels (whole wheat or spelt if possible)
  • 2 cups popcorn (we like Skinny Pop or Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 cups Strawberry Power O’s or Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted O’s
  • 1 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1 cup peanuts or other nuts
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate morsels (preferably 72% cacao or more)

Combine all ingredients (except chocolate) in a large bowl. Cover a large baking sheet with waxed or parchment paper. Spread snack mix over baking sheet. Heat chocolate in microwave for one minute then stir until it is all melted. With a spoon, drizzle chocolate over mix. Place pan in refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes to let chocolate cool. Break into pieces and serve.

I made two batches to make enough to place in about 25 snack size Ziploc bags for Caroline’s class. I put together a fun little label using free clip art to make it more festive. You can find the graphic I used here.

Power O's If you aren’t familiar with Power O’s made by Love Grown Foods, you should give them a try. It is my kids’ new favorite cereal. While I’d rather they ate eggs or oatmeal for breakfast, this cereal is a compromise I am willing to live with. They are made with navy beans, lentils and garbanzo beans, and brown rice. They have NO GMOs and NO artificial colors. They do contain sugar and “natural strawberry flavor”, but compared to the long list of artificial ingredients that are in most cereals, I am ok with that. They actually love the Chocolate Power O’s even more, but I thought the strawberry ones were more fun for this Valentine’s Day party mix.

Well, that was pretty simple! I had to do a taste test to make sure it was safe to eat. 😉 I have to say, it is really yummy! But, the real test would be the kids in Caroline’s class. They seemed to LOVE it as much as I did! I think I will add this to my rotation of snacks for the kids’ backpacks. It really is simple enough to make any day. I hope you’ll enjoy it with someone you love.

Kale Strawberry Banana Smoothie

Kale Strawberry Banana SmoothieAfter four fabulous days of birthday celebrations and indulgences, I was ready to start off the week (and my 37th year) on a healthy foot. I decided to FINALLY jump on the green smoothie bandwagon and give one a try. I’ve been skeptical about them since the craze began awhile back and, honestly, felt they were kind of all hype, trendy and a little silly. The idea of starting a cold winter day off with a frothy drink, hasn’t been too appealing either. But, I’m always looking for new healthy breakfasts and snacks to add into my rotation. I feel like I eat too much bread and grains, especially for breakfast. While I almost exclusively eat only sprouted wheat bread like Food for Life Ezekial bread or Alvarado St. Flax Bread and will never totally eliminate them from my diet, I am trying to swap out some of those grains for vegetables or protein. With a new year ahead of me, feeling brave and adventurous, I decided I’d try adding some greens into my more common “fruit only” smoothie.

Yum!To my surprise, it was DELICIOUS! And, what’s more astounding is that MY KIDS LOVED IT TOO! I figured they would be making all sorts of fake vomiting sounds as I drank it. But, instead, when I asked if they wanted to try it, they were giddy with excitement. They finished the first cup and ASKED FOR MORE! I’m still in disbelief.

For those of you who have been skeptical like I was, I’m telling you, it actually tastes really great. You don’t even really taste the kale, it just simply tastes sweet and fresh. And the possibilities are endless. Tomorrow I’m going to try spinach, pineapple and mango I think. With just 202 calories per serving, nearly 8 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and, get this, 306% of your daily value of Vitamin C, this smoothie is a great way to start the day!  I think this may be the way I will begin each morning.

Here’s my recipe.


  • Kale Strawberry Banana2 cups fresh kale, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cups cold water
  • 3/4 cups fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup strawberries, leaves removed (frozen if you prefer)
  • 2 bananas (frozen if you prefer)

Blend kale, water and orange juice. Add strawberries and bananas and blend until smooth. Makes two adult servings. If this isn’t filling enough for you to have as a meal, it would make a great snack instead.

Speaking of Kale, I’ve known it is a superfood, but I was curious what exactly it is about kale that’s so good for us.

Here are 6 Interesting Health Benefits of Kale, from an article by Shape Magazine.

1. It has more vitamin C than an orange. One cup of chopped kale has 134 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C, while a medium orange fruit has 113 percent of the daily C requirement. That’s particularly noteworthy because a cup of kale weighs just 67 grams, while a medium orange weighs 131 grams. In other words? Gram for gram, kale has more than twice the vitamin C as an orange.

2. It’s…kind of fatty (in a good way!). We don’t typically think of our greens as sources of even healthful fats. But kale is actually a great source of alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that’s essential for brain health, reduces Type 2 diabetes risk, and boots heart health as well. Each cup has 121mg of ALA, according to Drew Ramsey’s book 50 Shades of Kale.

3. It might be the queen of vitamin A. Kale has 133 percent of a person’s daily vitamin A requirement—more than any other leafy green.

4. Kale even beats milk in the calcium department. It’s worth noting that kale has 150mg of calcium per 100 grams, while milk has 125mg.

5. It’s better with a friend. Kale has plenty of phytonutrients, such as quercetin, which helps combat inflammation and prevent arterial plaque formation, and sulforaphane, a cancer-fighting compound. But many of its top health-promoting compounds are rendered more effective when you eat the stuff in combination with another food. Pair kale with fats like avocado, olive oil, or even parmesan to make fat-soluble carotenoids more available to the body. And acid from lemon juice helps make kale’s iron more bioavailable as well.

6. The leafy green is more likely to be ‘dirty.’ According to the Environmental Working Group, kale is one of the most likely crops to have residual pesticides. The organization recommends choosing organic kale (or growing it yourself!).

Kale Strawberry Banana Smoothie Nutrition Facts: (1 cup)

Green SmoothieCalories: 202

Fat: .9 g

Cholesterol: 0

Sodium: 30.5 mg

Potassium: 1,089.5 mg

Carbs: 45.6 g

Fiber: 7.8 g

Sugars: 27.4

Protein: 5.1 g

Vitamin A: 211.6%

Vitamin C: 306.6%

Calcium: 12.4%

Iron: 11.2%




You Brush Your Teeth, Ch Ch Ch Ch…

Two years ago, we had the unfortunate experience of having to watch both of our daughters be wheeled into a hospital operating room to be put under general anesthesia for dental surgery. We thought we had been taking proper care of our children’s teeth, but we learned in the spring of 2013, we had been highly misinformed. Since February is National Children’s Dental Health Month, I thought it was an appropriate time to share with you our tumultuous story and what we’ve learned along the way. My hope is that you can learn from our mistakes and spare yourself the hardship and cost of experiencing this with your own children. It is not a story I have told many people, because, as you can imagine, it is a little embarrassing to admit your shortfalls.

First VisitThe girls had their first visit to the dentist sometime around the age of two. When we asked at what age they should have their first exam, our dentist (not a pediatric dentist) instructed us to bring them along to one of our own dental cleanings at about that age. It would help them become acclimated to the dentist office. They could watch mom and dad and see that it’s not scary, sit in the dental chair and go for a ride, put on a hygienist mask, look at the tools… sort of for fun. During this time, the dentist took a quick peek in their mouths, but no cleaning was done. We were told not to use toothpaste with fluoride yet due to the risk of them swallowing it, which was a relief because the only toothpaste our kids would even let us come near them with was the “Thomas the Train” training toothpaste. Our dentist told us they should come in for their official first exam and cleaning when they turned three. So we did and this seemed to reveal nothing alarming. No x-rays were done.

Back then, the process of brushing their teeth at home was a battle each and every time. We got it done, but I dreaded it. We must have come up with every creative idea possible to coerce our children to open their mouths to brush. We’d sing songs, we ‘d brush our teeth at the same time, we’d offer rewards, we bought toothbrushes that lit up and practically put on a show for them. We even tried scare tactics like showing them photos of children with rotten teeth. Awful, I know. Some nights, we did better than others. I recall hearing that we should brush for two minutes and I remember thinking, “We are lucky if we get a toothbrush in there for thirty seconds!” With my husband gone in the mornings six days a week and a newborn baby in tow, I have to admit there were certainly days that I lost the battle and they would go without brushing their teeth until bedtime. I can say with certainty that we never flossed or used mouth rinse at this stage. It was a success to just get in and brush a bit.

They ate a healthy, well balanced diet containing LOTS of fruit and vegetables, so I figured that was in our favor. The girls did drink quite a bit of apple juice when they were younger though. I remember Elizabeth in particular drinking a lot of it out a sippy cup. I figured it wasn’t a good habit, but you get stuck in your bad routines and you pick your battles. I’m sure they also had a little candy now and then, but not any more than the average kid. I did use Dum Dums during potty training and they loved “gummy” fruit snacks.

The next spring when we went back for their regular cleanings, we were told Elizabeth’s teeth looked fine. No cavities! Caroline wasn’t as lucky. She had a cavity. I remember sitting there thinking how awful it was going to be to try to get her to sit still to get it filled considering how challenging it was to get her to cooperate just for the cleaning. While our dentist was the nicest, sweetest man, Caroline just wouldn’t warm up to him. Miss Caroline is the second most bullheaded person I know (after myself) and when she doesn’t want to do something, she will NOT do it. This is the point in time when I decided it might be time to find a pediatric dentist who specializes in meeting the needs of children. I figured a fresh start where she would have no negative associations might work in our favor. That’s when we met Dr. Rebecca L. Robbins, DDS who helped us turn everything around.

We first arrived to find a waiting room full of toys and a Disney movie playing on a big screen as well as in the exam rooms. While Caroline was still a little shy, I recall her being pretty cooperative for her first exam. The hygienist was heaven sent. They did X-rays which revealed the cavity and some other trouble spots. After a lot of discussion we decided to try fixing the tooth in the office with the use of “laughing gas”. Despite all the wonderful work by the dentist and her team, to put it nicely, Caroline did NOT comply. I won’t rehash the whole debacle, but picture a lot of crying, kicking, and screaming and very little mouth opening to fix the problems. The only option left was to take her into the hospital to have the cavities fixed while she was put under.

Before Caroline's SurgeryShe was all smiles when we took her in, but that’s before she refused to put on the hospital gown. I went into the OR with her and when it was time for her to be put under she laid in my lap in attempt to calm her down, but mostly so that I could hold her down. The next moments were some of the most difficult in my experience as a parent. I don’t remember every detail now, but what I do remember very clearly is her jerking and flailing in my arms as I tried with all my might to hold her straight so she could breathe in the anesthesia. She was fighting it and screaming as I tried to comfort her by singing “You are my sunshine…” while I broke down into tears. Then within seconds, her body went limp and she was completely still and quiet. The nurses moved her to the operating table and I watched my baby girl lying there with tubes attached to her and her eyes and face puffy from the drugs. I left the room bawling. When she awoke from the anesthesia she was agitated and inconsolable. She lay confused, moaning and groaning, crying, and writhing. Despite the fact that Dr. Robbins and her team were wonderful, I was relieved it was over and I told myself we would start fresh and we would never go through this again.

Before Elizabeth's SurgeryUnfortunately the next fall we were back with Elizabeth after her next exam revealed FIVE cavities. I was confused about how so many problems could have arisen in just six months. It became evident that the problems had been there six months ago but were not revealed because no X-rays were done at the other office. I was embarrassed and felt like I had let her down. We had to go back to the hospital to experience the same horrible process. The situation was so bad that they had to pull one tooth, put a silver crown on one and fill three others. When poor Elizabeth emerged and I saw the silver crown when she smiled, I felt terribly guilty. At the time, the poor performance of the existing white crowns for children made them an unreliable option. Dr. Rebecca Robbins is so amazing that when she found a white crown that could work for Elizabeth she later replaced the silver one with the white crown for us. I can’t thank her enough. Elizabeth was embarrassed by the silver crown and I missed her bright beautiful smile.

Elizabeth with Silver CrownAfter all of this, I’ve tried to look at the positives. First off, we all are lucky enough to get two sets of teeth. We learned a good lesson with the kids’ baby teeth and now we have another chance to do it right with their permanent teeth. The children have learned a very valuable lesson about how to take care of their teeth now. They remember their experience at the hospital and they are now religious about taking excellent care of their teeth. They don’t mind their visits to the dentist now and have managed to make it into the “No Cavities Club” at their recent visits.

Here is our dental care routine now and some other tips that I hope will help you avoid what we went through.

  • FlossFLOSS – The girls use child flossers (every night) before brushing. They start and we finish to make sure they are getting in between every tooth. Floss first so that you brush away the germs removed from the teeth. We have now begun flossing John’s teeth at night as well.
  • BRUSH – Our children brush for two minutes, twice every day. They start so they can practice and then we help them finish and ensure we’ve thoroughly brushed every tooth. The toothbrushes with lights that flash for two minutes help us make sure we don’t give up too soon.
  • BrushFor our third child, we began using a smear of FLOURIDE toothpaste (NOT “training toothpaste”) very early on, even when he was too young to spit. At around age two he was able to spit. We brush with it twice a day. Sometimes, he cooperates and sometimes he doesn’t. Lately he has been standing and letting us brush. But, if we have to, one parent holds his head while the other brushes. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is a struggle. This might seem a little harsh, but we do not want him to have to go through what the girls did, nor do we want to pay for it. In the past, dentists and the American Dental Association (ADA)Brush recommended using non-flouride toothpaste until the age of two out of fear of children ingesting fluoride and getting flourosis, or white streaks on their permanent teeth. The ADA now suggests that some patients use a smear (the size of a piece of rice) of fluoride toothpaste on children’s teeth as soon as they appear and wiping it off. At the age of 3 (once the child is good at spitting), some move to a pea-sized amount of fluoride paste. Our girls were using training toothpaste FAR TOO LONG. We were actually were being TOLD to use training paste by our former dentist. I think this was the main reason for the problems we experienced. (Do not use fluoridated toothpaste on your child until you have discussed with your child’s dentist when is the right time for your child.)
  • RinseRINSE – Finally, we use mouth rinse EVERY night, after flossing and brushing. No exceptions.
  • EARLY EXAM – Our youngest child had his first dental exam, cleaning, and x-rays at the age of one. Dr. Robbins reminds us that a child can get a cavity as soon as they have teeth. Establish a relationship with a dentist and begin taking care of their teeth as soon as they have them (by the age of ONE!). She has taken children age 15 months to the OR!
  • LESS SUGAR – We eliminated gummy fruit snacks, gummy vitamins and only consume juice, raisins and candy on very special occasion.

Important Information from Dr. Rebecca L. Robbins, DDS:

  • Dr-Robbins-Headshot-New-330x496The Facts:
    * Dental caries are the most common chronic childhood disease as reported by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
    * They are five times more common than asthma
    * 51 million school hours are lost each year due to dental caries pain and infection
    * 40% of children have dental caries by the time they reach kindergarten
    * Good news = Dental disease is preventable
  • The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that every child establishes a dental home by his/her first birthday. Your child’s first tooth is the perfect reminder that it is time to schedule an appointment with a dentist. Early prevention and detection will guarantee a bright and happy oral health future for your child. Your child will then be able to understand that going to the dentist is a fun and enjoyable experience. The first visit will start with a review of your child’s medical and dental history and an initial examination, which includes “counting their teeth”. Digital x-rays are taken if deemed necessary, followed by oral hygiene instructions to emphasize proper oral health care. After a comprehensive examination of your child, any dental findings will be directly discussed with you.
  •  Why a pediatric dentist? – Pediatric dentists complete a residency of two years in a children’s hospital focusing on all aspects of infant and adolescence needs; behavioral management; sedation options; hospital treatment if needed.  Pediatric dentists specialize in anticipatory guidance, oral and diet counseling, trauma plans and behavior modeling for positive visits.


    John and SandyWhen should I start cleaning my baby’s teeth?
    The sooner the better! Starting at birth, clean your child’s gums with a soft infant toothbrush and water. Remember that most small children do not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively. Unless it is advised by your child’s pediatric dentist, do not use fluoridated toothpaste until age 2-3.

    How can I prevent tooth decay from a bottle or nursing?

    Encourage your child to drink from a cup as they approach their first birthday. Children should not fall asleep with a bottle. At-will nighttime breast-feeding should be avoided after the first primary (baby) teeth begins to erupt. Drinking juice from a bottle should be avoided. When juice is offered, it should be in a cup.

    When should bottle-feeding be stopped?

    Children should be weaned from the bottle at 12-14 months of age.

    For more information visit Dr. Rebecca L. Robbins, DDS at and the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry at


    Dr. Rebecca Robbins is so generous and so passionate about helping families take proper care of their children’s teeth that she is DONATING two children’s ORAL B ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSHES for me to giveaway to one of you!

    Want to ENTER TO WIN? All you have to do is COMMENT on this post.

    Feel free to share your dental experiences and ask questions. 

    Thanks for reading! Please share this with your friends to help them learn from my mistakes.

Random Thoughts From a “Long Run”

8 Mile Run - 1-31-15I am often asked what I think about when I run long distances. “Don’t you get bored?”, some people ask. “Never!”, is usually my answer. With three kids at my side most of the time, I rarely get the opportunity to finish a sentence or an entire thought even. I definitely don’t get the chance to “space out.” So, I look forward to having all that running time to think about whatever I want without being interrupted with someone asking for ANOTHER snack. You’d think during these long runs I’d be super focused on my running or that I’d be plotting how I’m going to take over the world. The reality is that the thoughts that run through this goofy little head of mine during a long run are pretty random and not at all cohesive or productive. Here’s a look inside my head during yesterday’s eight mile run. See if you have some of the same stream of consciousness and then comment below with what you think about when you run (or exercise).


Here I go! I’m going to kill this!

Why am I breathing so heavily? Ok, slow down.

That was only half a mile?

Was I going to do 8 miles or 7? 7 I think. No 8. No 7. No 8!

My legs feel tight.

Hi other runner! Great job!

Mile 1. Eight minutes. Good pace.

I can’t feel my toes.

My fingers are throbbing.

Move over a-hole driver!

Not sure about these compression socks.

I’m hot. I should have worn fewer layers.

Thank you nice driver! (Wave!)

I should have had more to eat.

Two miles, half way until my turn around.

Don’t let the first two miles set the tone for your run.

I am awesome!

I LOVE Mumford & Sons!

Wow, look how pretty the snow looks. Sparkly. Glittery. I love snow.

Don’t forget to drink. Mmm, Nooma might be my new drink.

The SUN!! Yes!

I hear you God. I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to.

Take off your gloves.

Ooh, look at the river! It’s all frozen. Frozen! “Let it Go! Let it Go!”

“Let your path be the sound of your feet upon the ground. Carry ooooon. Carry on, carry on.”

Which way should I go?

Hi horses!

Half way!!

Ok, gel time. Mmmmm, Orange Dream!

My feet hurt, damn you bunions!

Shit, the wind!

Why do I feel so slow?

I don’t know if I can do a whole marathon.

Six miles. I got this!

What should I wear to the party tonight?

Ooh, a blue bird! My favorite! Oh another one and another one!

When I’m up to 13 miles this little 8 miles will seem easy.

Hi deer!

Seven miles. I feel good. Should I go for 9?

One electric pole. Two electric poles. Three electric poles.

There’s my driveway!

I could run forever!

Home! Boo ya!

“You can be the greatest, you can be the best…You can move a mountain, you can break rocks.”

Ha ha! Kind of funny isn’t it? I want to know what you think about when you run. Comment below and tell us. 

But first, here’s a quick recap of my run:


Distance 8 Miles

Pace 8:44/mi

Total Time: 1:09:50

947 calories


L1 8:04

L2 8:36

L3 8:30

L4 8:32

L5 8:46

L6 9:02

L7 9:02

L8 9:18

Clearly I slowed down the second half. I need to work on starting out my longer runs slower. I felt pretty good during this run although I was pretty sluggish and my legs felt tight, likely a result of the challenging leg workout and circuit training I had done earlier in the week. I had a cold and cough all week and I still had  a bit of congestion in my chest during this run. This combined with the cold air affected my breathing. I think my overall lack of energy was due to the lingering effects of being sick this week and perhaps from not eating enough pre-run.

I tried out compression socks for the first time (over my tights), mostly because I thought it would keep me warmer in the 28 degree temps. I’m not sure yet how I feel about them. I didn’t notice any benefits, although the fact that I wore them over my tights might have affected the way they are supposed to work. I didn’t like the way they felt tight at the top of my calf, near my knee. I found it distracting. I will keep trying them to see if I get used to them.


– Don’t make too many changes to your wardrobe or gear for one run. For example, during this run I tried out compression socks, plus new tights and I tried Nooma, a new hydration drink, and a new flavor of gel. You don’t want to mess with your routine too much all at once. It might throw you off and keep you from having a good run. Try to only introduce one different thing for each run so that you can focus on the effects of that one change to see if you want to stick with it or not.

– Give yourself enough time to recover from being sick before you head out for a long run. You don’t want to make it half way and discover you are too congested to breathe well. Rest is an important part of meeting your goals. It is difficult to remember when you are trying to stick to a training schedule. If you are off a day or two it’s no big deal. If you go back out there too soon, it may set you back even more.