Water

Our bodies are made up of 80 percent water. We [should] drink about 8 glasses of water a day. We use it to shower, wash clothes, clean dishes, water plants, wash hands. And don’t think twice about our access or supply.

Until … its unavailable.

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At noon, today, I got word that water supply was cut off to our neighborhood, and others nearby. As I type, access has yet to be restored. You never know how much you depend on something until it’s gone.

Thankfully, we have a car that took us to HEB to purchase five gallons of water, money to pay for it, and live in walking distance of a SAWS water supply truck to refill the containers when we ran out tonight. Which we did. In just a few hours, we used nearly all five gallons for drinking, bathing, rinsing [dishes], washing [hands] and brushing teeth.

After a few short Google searches, I found these eye-opening stats …

  • The average American uses 80-100 gallons of water a day [source]
  • More than 1/4 of the world’s population lacks access to clean water [source]
  • Nearly 40 percent of people in Uganda have to travel 30 minutes to access clean water [source]
  • The average household can waste 180 gallons per week from household leaks [source]
  • Turning off the tap while brushing your teeth can save 8 gallons of water per day [source]
    • Letting your faucet run for five minutes while washing dishes can waste 10 gallons of water [source]

What are some ways you actively save water?

Raw

Filters. They. Are. Everywhere. In the boardroom, in Roomba’s, on social media. Disguising something. Something … raw. Unembellished. Bare. Undisguised. When did filters become the new black?

Photo filters change the appearance of a moment we desired to capture in its most natural state. Filtered responses often create ambiguity, requiring unwanted, additional effort to clear the air.

Is our reality so demoralizing that we can no longer strive for authenticity? Or do we lack grace in our response in the midst of rawness, driving fear into the depths of the individual with good intentions?

Sure, filters are incredibly beneficial for things like swimming pools, cars, air conditioners and water purifiers, to name a few. But when it comes to human emotion, I much prefer a raw state. Strong and undisguised. A wear you heart on your sleeve type. Not to be confused with rude or brash. Rather, self-aware, humble, genuine.

Many of my friends kick off each new year with the one word exercise – deciding on a single word to focus on for the next 365 days. I’ve attempted the exercise for a few years now. Often times, by Spring, my word fizzles into the background as I get consumed with the day-to-day grind. But, I’m not giving up on the intent of the exercise.

I started to think of that one word for 2019 back in early December. And here we are, approaching the eve of February and I’m just now settling on it. Raw.

For me, there’s never been a more important day than today to be raw: (adj.) (of an emotion or quality) strong and undisguised. 

 

2018 | A Grinding Year in Review

Here’s one thing that didn’t happen in 2018 … consistent, personal blogging. However, in typical late-December fashion, as I think [and look] back at the many memories made this year, we accomplished what needed to be accomplished. And that’s what matters most.

You won’t find any fancy, extravagant trips or big ‘milestones’, like a new baby [thank you Lord, says Anthony] or house or car or pet, as you scroll through this blog post. This year was a grind, and it made us better, together.

The first few months of the year were filled with work, school, and youth sports – basketball, track and t-ball to be exact.

Jeremiah and Pepe [his great grandfather] enjoyed a night out at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo in February. And before we knew it Spring was over and we had a first-grader and another kiddo heading into Pre-K.

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Summertime brought a few Texas-coast beach trips, Mila’s first theater camp, a basketball summer league, church camp and too many pool days to count.

In the late summer, Anthony completed a 10-month police academy – an adventure that, once again, reminded me of how unique he is. You don’t find many people in our generation willing to take a night job while going to school full time during the day without complaining. I think he averaged about 4 hours of sleep a day most of the year.

The August heat was a sure sign it was time for school to resume. Mila joined her big brother at her new school while the little one became the Lone Ranger in her small school.

Soccer season kicked off and the two bigs did fantastic. In Mila’s first season, her team came in 2nd place and Jeremiah’s team finished in the top four out of the entire city for his division (which included nearly 40 teams!).

The holidays were spent with friends and family – most memorable events included a Kevin Hart comedy show, the Nutcracker Ballet, feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving, the girls’ first manicure and pedicure, a campfire dinner with s’mores and trips to Austin’s dinosaur park for Jeremiah’s birthday, Boerne’s Town Square and Austin’s Trail of Lights.

Jeremiah was diagnosed with scoliosis this winter – a condition my family is far too familiar with. We’re waiting to receive his nighttime back brace, praying daily and exploring different therapies to help him along the way.

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Looking back, day after day felt like a grind. Cooking, cleaning, shuttling, sorting through opposite work schedules, serving in the children’s ministry at church, running off minimal sleep, teaching Mila how to swim in the deep end [with success], teaching Sierra how to ride a bike, getting Sierra potty trained [easiest.child.ever], helping with homework, attending field trips, logging reading hours, building fiesta floats, hosting birthday parties, attending birthday parties, exercising, coaching the kids in sports, taking Mila to tennis lessons, preparing for and surviving the holidays. Phew!

What I can say Anthony and I have both been reminded of this year, maybe in a louder way than ever before, is the importance of keeping God first and center in our lives, and the dedication it takes to pour into a marriage, and one’s self, for continued growth. Through His grace, we’re learning, growing, and picking each other up after each fall.

Cheers to enjoying the twists and turns of 2019, embracing the struggles and finding joy in every task, every day.

10 Reasons your Mom is a Super Hero

Be warned, this will not be a mushy blog post about the 100 reasons why it’s lovely and beautiful to be a mother. Because, let’s be honest. There aren’t 100 reasons. There are 100 times 100 reasons and we don’t have time to be reading all of that. Just saying.

No, no. Instead, this post is a list of just a few reasons why moms are nothing short of superheros. Enjoy.

TEN | Only a mom’s body can create liquid gold. Seriously. That stuff will go for some major cash on the black market! So dads, the next time you think a new mom isn’t doing anything when she’s nursing, just remember her entire body is develpoping a specialized product that, by itself, can develop every single part of your newborn’s body – brain included. Good luck cooking a five-star meal after that nugget of truth.

NINE | Only a mom can be nursing a newborn with a cradle hold in one hand and cooking dinner for a family of five with the other, and still catch the older children hitting each other with the eyes strategically placed in the back of her head [special thank’s goes out to the microwave’s reflection].

EIGHT | Only a mom can smell a poppy diaper from a toddler napping in his/her room upstairs, with the door closed, while she’s downstairs, alongside a room full of healthy adults with full-functioning senses.

SEVEN | Only a mom can be holding an adult conversation, with eye contact, while anticipating every dangerous outcome that could develop from her children playing nearby.

SIX | Only a mom can increase her life productivity ratio with every child she bears.

FIVE | Only  moms can be the sole reason a company stays in business. You’re welcome, every company who develops life planners.

FOUR |Only a mom can turn a home where a toy-filled tornado ripped through it to an HGTV-ready set with 10-minutes notice.

THREE |Only a mom can put an air traffic control team in the busiest city to shame in her natural setting of kid chaos.

TWO |Only a mom can put a First Lieutenant to shame as she learns how to Army crawl on the spot out of a nursery with the utmost precision to avoid waking the, never-napping, napping newborn.

ONE | Only a mom can provide a kiss that heals all wounds, a hug that cures sadness and a heart that offers safety, comfort and encouragement for her children.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my hard-working mamas out there. It’s a 27/7/365 day gig that we love, are exhausted by yet wouldn’t trade in for the world.

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JP+ LIVE Day 2 Recap: Get Inspired

A former NFL player and coach, a Bronx-based global teacher nominee and viral video sensations Danny and Kristen Adams summed up day two in Phoenix! Here are my top three highlights from day two – all of which involve people who have found their passion and calling, and aren’t taking the world’s NOs for an answer …

  1. Danny & Kristen Adams … If you use social media of any sort, you’ve likely seen a Danny and Kristen Adams video shared by a friend. The lip synching comical couple were guest speakers at the Juice Plus+ (JP) prayer breakfast, sharing their journey of obedience to Christ in a comfort-driven world. A few of my favorite messages were …
    • When you obey God, your choices may look like the end to some, but it’s actually just the beginning.
    • Distraction is good for your destiny.
    • Arguments are heated fellowship.

These two were a hoot. You’ll definitely want to subscribe to their YouTube channel for some comic relief! What was even more inspiring was 2,300 men and women kicking off day two at 7 a.m. praising our Lord. This was special!

2. The Green Bronx Machine … Want to be inspired by someone who is doing good for the WORLD? Google/YouTube Stephen Ritz and get ready to watch video after video, because you just can’t get enough of this bow tie-wearing, Bronx-based teacher traveling the world to bring communities together through plants. Where are my teachers at? Let’s get Tower Gardens in your schools NOW!

3. Ricky Proehl at JP LIVE! Former NFL wide receiver Ricky Proehl gave his National Marketing Director speech today, sharing some inspiriting words as to why he left the NFL after 17 years and values the incredibly unique business model that JP has to offer. This is a MUST WATCH!

It wouldn’t be a JP conference without some post-session fun. We went to the hippest restaurant in downtown Phoenix for a team dinner called The Duce. Here are a few fun pics from last night …

Time to head out to the third and final day of conference where I’ll get to see my sweet friend Stephanie give her National Marketing Director speech in front of 8,000 people! Go get um Coach Steph!

JP+ LIVE PHOENIX! Day 1 Recap

Today kicked off the semiannual Juice Plus+ (JP) Live National Conference in Phoenix. This is the second time I’ve attended this event and, like the first, hasn’t disappointed.

Whole food nutrition has been a part of my life from birth, thanks to my naturalist parents. But it’s now become a part of my family’s day-to-day life in a much more intentional manner.

Almost two years ago, I was introduced to JP by a dear friend of mine who invited me to a nutrition lecture from a Florida-based Pediatrician. The lecture rocked my world. We ordered these powerful plant-based capsules and chewables immediately and have never looked back. For more about this 25-year product, click here. In the mean time, here my top five takeaways from day one.

  1. Capsule Product Update – This debt free, multi-billion dollar company has developed only six products in 25 years. Talk about quality over quantity. Here are a few updates coming to their products …
  • Out with papaya, in with mango. Non-Genetically Modified (GMO) papaya is scarce around the world, and JP wants to maintain its Non GMO status. So, IMG_3171there’re swapping out the fruits. Plus, mango has similar properties as papaya but even more vitamins A and C, protein, potassium, fiber and B6!
  • Bye bye oat, hello more rice bran. Despite using a Gluten Free (GF) oat, some countries around the world deem anything with oat in it as a gluten product. So, for consistency, JP is removing the oat and increasing the rice brand to maintain the GF status.
  • Additive folic acid is going away and being replaced with lemon peel. Lemon peel is naturally high in folate – so it’s a plant WIN!
  1. Research galore! JP is up to 38 published research studies with more on the way! Check out this unbelievable video on study #36 showing how taking just one capsule of the fruit, vegetable and berry capsules are helping produce other phytonutriants that aren’t even in the capsules!

  2. How do you Omega? Fish Oil is a billion dollar industry with little to no positive results, according to this Washing Post article. We still need omegas – but we need them from original omega sources, which are not fish. It’s algea, and plant oils. God news, JP has the only plant-based omega on the market. BOOM!
  3. Black thumb, green thumb or anything in between, you’ll want to hear this one. Within the next 25 years, at our current growth rate, the U.S. will not have enough land to grow food for it’s population. Not so fun of a fact, I know. But, we can become our own farmer, save money and increase the quality of our food all while skipping the soil, weeds, backyard space and gardening hassle with a vertical aeroponic system like the JP Tower Garden.

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  4. JP always gives back. Representatives and the JP+ Corporate Office collectively contribute $15 million annually to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, the Children’s Hunger Fund, Volunteers of America and Boys and Girls Club. Know that this is a company of great integrity.

BONUS TAKEAWAY … because this is just too good not to share. Later this fall, what’s currently in conception stage will become formal. JP+ is developing a Global Science Institute which will be a separate noncommercial entity designed to gather scientists around the world to further understand and share knowledge of whole food nutrition.

Ok, that’s it for now. Off to Day Two of learning!

 

 

Thank you, Sandwich Man

After church today, I took the crew to Whole Foods to grab some lunch and pick up a few items while my husband studied for an upcoming test. We arrived right around 11 a.m. and the pizza gal was tossing the made-from-scratch dough while informing me she already had several orders in and it would be 20+ minutes before a pizza came out to buy by the slice.

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It was more of a sandwich kind of day anyways, so we patiently waited in line, behind two other people, for the sandwich-making team to come out. A young man, likely in his 20s, came out with a beanie on and started serving the customers. I watched as he took his time, slowly placing each ingredient on the bread of choice with so much care. He never got rattled that a line was forming. When it was our turn, he maintained his careful, methodical methods, spreading the mustard, doubling up the oven roasted fresh turkey meat and perfectly placing each pickle, tomato and spinach leaf. I couldn’t help but think WOW, he really takes pride in his job. It was like watching someone paint. And while my kids were running in circles, begging for a cookie off the cookie wagon right behind us, I was honestly mesmerized by how much pride this young man took in his job.

After we thanked him for serving us and paid for our lunch, we stepped outside of the doors to eat on the front patio. Ironically enough, I had engaged in a long, difficult discussion with Jeremiah, age 6, earlier this morning about gratitude. Specifically noticing how much adults do for him and being in a constant state of gratitude instead of pouting when the answer is no or not right now.

Right as we were finishing our lunch, Mila says, “Hey, there’s the man who made our yummy sandwiches!” He must have been on a short break. I encouraged Jeremiah and her to go up to him and thank him again, and tell him how much they loved their sandwiches. And so they did. He came over to our table and we had a brief exchange around what it meant to slow down to go fast and taking pride in everything you do.

That young man reminded me of a lesson that’s been on paper for over 2,000 years The Bible is filled with lessons that tells us to give 100 percent at everything we do. Not to be lazy. To serve with a smile, genuinely caring for others regardless of what they look like, how much money they have or what language they speak.

Whether it’s cleaning the toilet at home making the fourth meal of the day for the family, or in the office, cranking away at a report, I think we can all use a little bit more of the Sandwich man inside of us.

 

 

A Blink of an Eye

WOWZERS. It’s been a WHOLE YEAR since I’ve last written in the blog. At the beginning of 2018, my prayer to God was for guidance on how to spend my time during the day. Sometimes the world, my mind or body will tell me I should make more time for things like sewing, reading and yoga, but truth be told, I can’t trust those resources.

So, as He does every so often, I’ve heard the Lord speaking to me a little bit louder – or maybe I’m just paying more attention – to get back to writing.

What’s happened in a year? Well, everyone’s turned a year older for starters. No one in our house wears diapers – ok except for when Sierra naps/sleeps because I just can’t handle one more extra load of laundry in case of an accident – it snowed again in San Antonio (that’s magical, people), the older kids ran track for the first time [so fun!] and we experienced our first death within my immediate family. My Meme (grandmother) passed away in early December after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Oddly, illnesses and death seem to be occurring a lot around me to friends and acquaintances – maybe that’s why I’m being led back to these keys. There’s something about writing that allows for a few minutes of peace. The transfer of thoughts to fingers in quietness. Helps perspective come to life. Which we can all use a whole lot of [hello road rage, social bullying and hate talk!].

In brighter news, vegetables are planted outside and slowly sprouting, we’re nearing the end of our first official school year as Jeremiah gets ready to finish Kinder, T-ball is in full swing and we’re still on our health journey and kicking tail with only ONE sick doc visit for a family of 5 over the past year! THANK YOU JUICE PLUS!

Spring is one of my favorite times of year for many reasons – the weather, spring cleaning and vegetation blooming all around. On deck is a [semi] bathroom remodel. I’ll be sure to share pics!

What fun things are you doing this time of year?

 

Top 5 recipe resources

A dear friend of mine asked me to give health-enthused moms ideas for go-to resources for creating healthy meals for a Facebook event. Well, if there’s ever a time to hop back into blogging and ensure you get a few dozen clicks on your first post, this is it.

So, welcome! My name is Jessica and I have a hilarious, extremely tall and in shape fruit loop-eating [we’re working on that] husband, three young children all under age six with personalities the size of Texas, two self-sufficient cats, one full-time job outside the home and another job that’s more of a passion – more to come on that. My husband and I are former division one college basketball players who still enjoy staying very active and we have now entered the phase where our children are dropped off at two separate locations while we work [oh, hello kindergarten]. So yes, you guessed it, we’re busy, and on the go … a lot.

About one year ago, we started to slowly make simple nutritional changes in our home after I listened to a pediatrician talk about the power of nutrition for children and adults. I always considered myself healthy, as did everyone around me, but over the past year, I’ve realized how little I knew about real food. Over the last 13 months, I’ve found some great resources to help spur up some ideas to spice up meals and expand our pallets. Here are a few of my favorites!

No. FIVE: Cafe’s / Cafeterias
The average person would not consider cafeterias a hot spot for healthy meal ideas. But, I’m finding that’s a myth that we foodies have to bust. I’m fortunate to work for a company that has several cafes and cafeterias, all with healthy options on the menu. However, even the not so healthy options can be reworked with plant-based ingredients to make for great entre’s at home. Sometimes we make “healthy” hard – and in our house hold, there’s not time for hard when it comes to food. One staple the cafeterias always have is a pasta bar. One day, I realized that this was a great idea for dinner. There are plenty of brown rice and quinoa noodles on the market and we eat and love them, but you can also do a pasta bar and leave out the noodle. The mixture of garlic, olive oil, a wide variety of colorful veggies and some chicken with a small scoop of mariana sauce is absolutely divine! Be observant when you are eating out and figure out how you can make restaurant meals healthy at home.

No. FOUR: Amazon
I recently spent approximately five seconds making this Facebook post …
“WANTED: Titles of your favorite real/plant-based food cookbooks.”
And soon after had several suggestions from friends actively engaging in bringing real food into their households. So the natural thing to do next is open up my Amazon app and start searching. Ta-dah! Two days later, these bad boys show up.

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Now, I cannot vouch for them – yet – because they literally came in on Tuesday, but I do encourage you to browse Amazon and search for vegan / plant-based cook books. Consumers do a fantastic job leaving tons of detailed reviews and the descriptions for each cook book that I tapped on were very helpful.

No. THREE: Mighty Nest
I signed up with Mighty Nest about five months ago and for $10/month, we receive a surprise eco-friendly product each month to incorporate into our home. If you like the product and want more of it, you get an additional percentage off online orders for a short period of time after your monthly gift arrives. They also include a fun, healthy recipe with every delivery. Might Nest just informed me that Americans throw away 500 million straws a day. Anyone else just say a silent OMG?! This month, we received some stainless steel straws and I’m about to order a pack of six silicon straws for just $7. Additionally, they have a fantastic lunch gear section on their website that they feature in their email campaigns which includes eco-friendly products to make packing a variety of healthy foods in lunches easier. Things like silicon cups [these can be used for ANYTHING – dish washer and oven safe!], bento boxes and stainless steel dip containers.

No. TWO: Instagram
Oh where do I even begin. So many unbelievable people and companies to follow on Instagram for healthy food ideas and inspiration. Truth be told, if you were to scroll through my Instagram feed you would assume I was a plant-based chef interior decorator who follows random people who post a lot of kid photos. @Jillian.Harris is one of my favorites. She is an insta-story junkie, constantly posting about her family’s journey to moving more and more toward plant-based / vegan. You might recognize her from The Bachelor/Bachelorette or HGTV’s Love it or List It.  @Fraichenutrition is one of Jillian’s friends who is developing her first cookbook and also a major plant-based foodie. A few other favorites to consider following are @ErinIreland, @Jessica_Gavin, @cookinglight, @100daysofrealfood, @hhcoachsteph and @WholeFoods.

No. ONE: 100 Days of Real Food
You guys are in the right place, at the right time. Lisa Leake and 100 Days of Real Food is my favorite go-to resource for easy, healthy recipes that are kid friendly and mom approved! It just so happens that she relaunched her Real Lunches, Real Easy resources and they are only available through the end of August! Yes, you can stop reading right this second and click the link to get her three lunch guides for just $24. They will literally transform your child’s school lunches. In addition, we have her first and second cookbooks and follow her blog. When I read through her first, the introductory content turned my food world upside down. Let’s just say I learned there is ZERO nutritional value in gold fish – no matter the packaging says. I’ve never seen a cookbook more easy to read [layout is everything!] or more educational while packed with simple, delicious recipes that are not intimidating.

Well, I hope at least one of my go-to recipe resources helps you transform meals in your home. At the beginning of this post, I mentioned a second job that’s more of a passion – and that’s owning my own Juice Plus franchise. The people in this company are responsible for jump starting our health transformation. In a nut shell, it’s fruits and veggies in a capsules with 37 clinical research studies that back it. Bottom line, real food is the best fuel and best medicine we can give our  bodies. Read more here!

 

Inspiration from So Cal

It’s been about six years since I last visited the beaches of Southern California. But once you visit this area of Northern America, you never forget it. The white sandy beaches warm your toes up through your soul and the beautiful sunsets falling behind the large crashing waves are visions you take home and dream about.

Day two in Anaheim was filled with inspiration. And we ended it with a trip to Huntington Beach where everyone just seems relaxed and happy.

Yesterday I learned about the 36th clinical research study done on Juice Plus and how it showed DNA was positively altered in over 1,600 genes in overweight adults that controlled metabolic health and inflammatory cells . But yesterday was more than research-based facts. It was a day filled with inspiration. A day that I listened to wives, moms, husbands, cancer survivors, doctors and researchers all share their stories of how and why they said yes to changing their lifestyle when they were at their most vulnerable moment, moments where they were filled with doubt, but acted anyways. Here are my top #OMW [oh my word!] inspirational takeaways from yesterday:

#OMW No. 1: Caring for others is hard work. It’s also heart work.
We kicked off the morning with a praise and worship breakfast. Yes, you read that right. There are thousands of Juice Plus representatives that are believers, and it warms my heart. Nicole Unice, author of Brave Enough, spoke about grace as the catalyst for bravery. From the crippled man who was lowered down into the home where Jesus was teaching [Luke 5: 17] to his fishermen disciples troubled in rough waters [Mark 4: 35] – we all have fear inside that is buried at different levels. But the more we let grace in the less room there is for fear. Unice reminded the crowd that we have one single ask from Jesus … to love others. When you love others, you care for them. And anyone who is a caretaker knows it is HARD work. But it’s also HEART work. When I think about why I’m even here, at this nutrition conference, that’s what it’s ultimately about – caring for others. If a friend knew of something that I should be doing [ahem, taking care of my temple of God] and ideas as to how, telling me and encouraging me is shows love.

#OMW No. 2: Long term vision, short term goals.
Dream big and believe. Sounds so easy, right? If you’re anything like me, I go from dreaming big to reality crashes and I know that’s because I still allow the enemy to inject fear. Jay Martin, founder and CEO of Juice Plus, is of my grandparent’s generation – in my opinion, the hardest working generation of our time. I find many millennials expect instant gratification. Now, I think there are various reasons as to why, some reasonable and some not, but that’s for another blog post. What I took from Martin and a beautiful wife and mother of four children who is a breast cancer survivor was that you absolutely have to have, write, and say your goals, and then you need to consistently put in work to get them. It’s an easy concept, but not many do it.

#OMW No. 3: Get a system.
When you know what you are going after, you have to get a system in place to achieve it. A system marries up well with the whole consistency thing. I think back to my college basketball days when I was told I needed to work on my lateral foot speed after my freshman year. I consistently jumped rope, did ladders and other exercises that summer. I vividly remember my coaches being impressed with my improvement when I got back on campus in the Fall. Whatever goals you have, you will surely fall short unless you get a system in place and consistently put in work toward achieving them.