I read an article a few months back that really made me think.  The gist of the article was “Moms, watch the way you talk about your body because your body image will shape your daughters body image.”  There was more to it than that, but that was gist.  It seemed like wise advice, so I tucked it away.

And man, I’ve had to practice it a few times and wow is it humbling.  I was changing in the closet with my oldest daughter.  She was picking out my outfit for some reason.  And while changing she looked at my legs and said, “Mom why do your legs jiggle?” 


Oh boy.   The article came to mind right away.

“Well, because my legs aren’t strong there.”  I decided to go with matter of fact truth minus elaborating or apologizing.  She accepted it and we both moved on.

Last week I started a fitness challenge and part of the challenge required getting weighed and measured at the beginning of the challenge.  My kids were all in the waiting room and when it was time for me to go back and get weighed and measured my 6 year old daughter begged to come.

OK.  Ladies, we know that stepping on a scale and getting weighed is one of the most humbling things a gal can do.  And I personally don’t like to do it with an audience.  It was humbling enough to do with the totally fit instructor taking my measurements.   My instinct was no.  But, then that article came to mind and I decided to let her come back. “Sure come on back sweetie.”  She stood and excitedly watched while I stepped on the scale and was measured.  I made no remark about my feelings over the numbers recorded.  And hopefully, she learned that stepping on a scale is not an exercise in self loathing. 

Anyway, I share these experiences with you because that article really made me think and thought perhaps some of you parents of girls might appreciate that perspective as well.  Our girls are watching and listening to us and I read just today that the number one factor in a girls body image is her mom.  That’s a lot of pressure, but you know what, it is also a lot of power.  I remember when I was in high school, I wanted to go on a diet.  I wasn’t super fat or anything, but wanted to be skinnier.  My mom took me to weight watchers.  She said, “If you want to lose weight, there is a healthy way to do it.”  Not with fad diets like the cabbage diet I remember my friends all doing.  I learned to journal my food, to make sure to eat healthy options from all food groups.  It might sound extreme going to weight watchers to lose 5 pounds, but you know what, it truly shaped my viewpoint on dieting.  Even now, 20 years later, if I want to lose a little weight, I go back to that discipline of food journaling and eating more fruits and veggies and less carbs and sugar.   I start exercising and drinking more water.  Because I remember it is more healthy and effective to make lifestyle changes over short term fad diets.  I really think my moms input and modeling shaped my perspective.  And I hope I can have a similar effect on my own girls as they grow.  Above all, I hope they remember and take to heart the verse we put on their wall…


“Hey Mom,” he said to me this morning.  “I figured out how I can fly like superman, look.” 




When we switched out history curriculum this year so that the whole family studies the same period of history (with varying level of work catered to their age level), one of the reasons I was MOST excited was that our field trips would be applicable to all. 

When our tutorial gave off for Presidents Day, I was eager to take advantage of the day free of book work to go on a field trip.  Being Presidents Day, I did a search for some American Revolution themed activities not far from us.  And I found out that Valley Forge scheduled several special activities in honor of Presidents Day.  In fact, I know there are other days when they hold special events, but I really think Presidents Day was the perfect day to visit the park, because there was so much going on.  To make the day even better, we got to to go as an entire family. 

It was a little over a two hour drive from our house.  We left around 9 am and got there in time to enlist in the Contintental Army, meet the General and his wife and practice some weaving before the General’s birthday party. IMG_0369



After he cut the cake, we headed out for our military training. 


The General made a special appearance here as well to inspect his troops and inspire them with a moving speech.  My three year old loved pumping his fist in the air and shouting, “Hip Hip Huzzah!” 

military training

We ate our lunch in the van while we drove around the grounds.  It was larger than we realized.  Then we got to watch a weapon demonstration (a highlight for our boys) and then go inside of a replica soldiers hut where someone was dressed in period costume and answered our many, many questions.  IMG_0469


It was a perfect day.  The sun was shining on the snow covered fields.  There was a brisk chill in the air which helped us sympathize with the troops.  I think we all took something away from the experience and enjoyed the time together as a family.  On our drive home our three year old said, “Today was just like bacation!” 


Thanks to the snow fall cancelling our evening activities, we had time to bake and decorate some heart shaped cookies last night.


(it should be noted after my previous post on Red Lake 40… that these cookies were decorated with all natural food dye from Whole Foods)


The snow looked magical as we watched it fall outside our windows.  I called the kids down from bed to watch it for a bit and then let them sleep with their blinds open so they could fall asleep watching it.  I love falling asleep watching the snow fall.



We’ve gotten to enjoy several snow falls this winter, but this was the first snowman building snow we’ve had.


This was supposed to be the mid section of our snow man, but he made it so big, it ended up being the base. I love his face here.



He was so in love with this snow man.  He held it’s hand and said, “Momma, Frosty likes me!”



…she is fierce.”

That William Shakespeare quote has always reminded me of my oldest daughter.  She’s small in stature but strong in will and spirit.

She turned 8 this week. 

I am proud of the girl she’s growing up to be.  She’s not much like me.  So many of her strengths are my weaknesses.

She’s logical and practical.  She tells things like it is and is a no nonsense kind of gal.   She is self confident.  She’s not a people pleaser.  

She loves, LOVES numbers.  She loves checking the temperature and calculating the time and I am amazed at her brain.  She just gets math in a way that I NEVER have.  It’s her favorite subject.  Doing math can take her out of a bad mood.  It’s her favorite subject and always the one she does first on school at home days.  If I let her she’d happily do page after page of math ALL DAY long… and willingly skip history and writing.   She likes figuring out how and why things work.

She sees the world as black and white.  There is no grey, just right and wrong.   She appreciates order and categories.  She’s my left brain, type A child.

She also has a nurturing side to her.  She still likes to play with dolls.  Not Barbies or princesses, but baby dolls.  She loves babies and toddlers and will take them under her wing and cuddle them.  I’ve seen her do it with her cousin and with some toddler friends at church.  It’s sweet to watch.

She’s a hard worker.  She loves to exercise.  She loves gymnastics.  She loves working new skills and learning new techniques.    I love the spark in her eye when she comes home and tells me she learned a new skill or got to work on a harder skill, like giants or back handsprings on beam.

I love watching her grow and wonder what sort of woman she will grow up to be.  What will God use her for?  I could totally see her as an engineer, a coach, a surgeon, or a cop.   For now she’s a second grader who loves building with Legos, crunching numbers, super heroes, and playing in the dirt.


It’s been over a year now since we removed Red Lake 40 from our children’s diets.  Cutting a processed food from our family’s diet was not a natural move for us.  However, it has made a HUGE, HUGE impact on our family life and since I decided to do it after reading a blog once, I thought perhaps I should document our experience in case it might help someone else. 

The summer of 2012 I noticed that one of my children was having outrageous I mean OUTRAGEOUS temper tantrums.  The littlest thing could set her off into a FIT of FURY.  Kicking, screaming, fists wailing, it was all I could do to physically get her upstairs to her room where she would continue to rage for about 45 minutes or so.  There was no reasoning with her.  And truthfully, no controlling her either.  I would sit outside her door tears streaming down my face praying for wisdom and wondering where on earth did we go wrong.   As the summer progressed I grew quite fearful of what the school year would bring.  Scott and I talked, wondering if I’d be able to continue to home school.  How could we possible deal with these tantrums and teach 3 kids? 

Finally we hit rock bottom and decided something had to be done.  I recalled reading something online about how red food coloring affected this mom’s child and how when she removed it from their diet she saw dramatic effects.  Desperate, we decided to keep a food log.

I have to tell you that we had gotten into the habit of eating quite a lot of mac n cheese.  Aldi’s sold it for around 30 cents a box and this child in particular loved it.  Couldn’t find an easier, cheaper lunch so it was often on the menu.  My kids also LOVED fruit snacks and I would buy them frequently for them to snack on in the car.   As I started charting what she ate and her outbursts I began to see a correlation.  I decided to start buying dye free mac n cheese and got rid of the fruit snacks.  The school year started and we noticed FAR LESS outbursts.  They still happened, but not with the frequency we had seen before. 

Then December came and with it Candy Canes.  I guess by this point since the outbursts had lessened, I wasn’t staying as vigilant, because I let the kids have candy canes.   And we had some major episodes.  And I have to tell  you that I didn’t put it together right away.  But, one day after we had had several days in a row and one major epic tantrum.  (kicking screaming, horrible aggressive behavior, picking fights, not listening to reasoning, hitting) I told my husband.  And he right away called it.  “Did she have any candy canes?” 


They had been eating candy canes every day that week.  And candy canes have red dye.

It was then that we decided we could no longer take a passive approach to the red dye.  Between candy treats at school or gymnastics, there was no way for me to control it.  They had to know and they had to be on top of it also.   We had to sit the kids down and say no more red dye.  We taught them to read labels. 

I didn’t want to single one child out.  And I didn’t want to say, “this dye makes you act bad” b/c I didn’t want the dye to be a crutch used as an excuse for bad behavior.   So we told them none of them could have it due to an allergic reaction we had seen. 

Red dye is in SO much… Doritos,  fruit roll ups, like every fun kid cereal there is, pretty much every fruity candy there is, M&Ms…. It’s in yellow food coloring.  It’s in some yellow and chocolate cake mixes and icing.  It’s in chocolate pudding.  At first we did a great job of spotting it in the obvious places.  No red ring pops.  But what about the less obvious places?  Yellow cup cakes or grape ring pops, or strawberry gogurt.  We learned to read labels. 

We have not removed all dyes from their diet.  The one that had the most dramatic effect was red dye and we took it in baby steps.  They have been red dye free for over a year.  They hate Valentine’s day parties b/c they pretty much come home with a bag of candy they can’t eat.  I started buying dye free lollipops from Trader Joes and when they get a candy somewhere that they can’t have they trade it in for one they can have. 

They have been SO good about it.  They always ask if there is red dye in something before they eat it.  My 3 year old is so funny b/c if he asks for something and if I say no he instant assumes it’s b/c of red dye.  We were at the store yesterday and he wanted to buy the milk with a blue cap (It was 2% and I had just put skim in our cart)  No I told him, we don’t need that milk.  “Oh”  he said, “Does it have red dye?” 

I have to say that the change in her behavior was almost unbelievable.  The fits of rage are gone.  We’ve had a few over the past year and I am positive they came when a bit of red dye slipped through un noticed in a food we didn’t think to check.  We most certainly would have been taking her to the Dr and probably had to put her on medication b/c her outbursts had gotten that bad.  And none of that would have been necessary b/c removing this dye was all that was needed.  Can you imagine?   I would have been thinking I was helping her, giving her medication she didn’t need and it all had to do with a chemical put in her food and candy? 

Keep in mind I am not saying my child is now perfect b/c we took red dye out of their diet.  She still disobeys, she still sins, she even still hits her brother and sister when she’s mad, but she is no longer out of control.  Now I can discipline her.   I can send her to her room with out having to physically carry her up the stairs.  I can talk to her about her behavior and have a reasonable conversation.  Before I had to literally wait out the storm before we could discuss the behavior and give consequences.  And she always took those consequences well (after she settled down).  She’d admit that she was out of line, was sorry and had no idea why she kept doing it. 

I am not alone.  Google red lake 40 and you’ll read others stories like ours.  I don’t know why it effects one of my children and not the others.   But, I do know it has made a DRAMTIC effect on our family life.  And I share this with you, incase you find yourself in a similar place to where we were a year and a half ago.  Maybe a food log might be a good first step for you too.