family, health and wellness

A Bierman Summer

Well, the first week of Bierman Bootcamp is done! We are all still alive! Actually, I think this is the most compliant my kids have been about something of this nature. Of course, Michael asked for it, so… He has been willing to try new combinations of foods. That isn’t to say that he has liked all of them, but he eats whatever the meal is and keeps going. That’s saying a lot for a sensory kid! So far, most of the meals in the Paleo In 28 book have been very tasty. There have been a couple that aren’t my favorite, but we are trying something new and the way I look at it, we can stick with most anything for just 28 days. By the time this is posted, we will be finished with seven of them.

As far as the workout is concerned, we have started out super slow and easy. I don’t know that Michael even broke a sweat the first day. Ha! We stretch every single day. You know those people who can do the splits and walk-overs, and when they stretch they lay down on their legs to touch their toes? Yeah. We are not those people. Our immediate family is not flexible. Several years ago, I tore a calf muscle. I have no fantastic story, unfortunately. It simply tore with one hop. Thank goodness it wasn’t so bad that I needed surgery or anything, but I did have to go to physical therapy for a few months. I learned so much. I had no idea how long the calf muscle actually is and how our muscles overlap and how tight they said my muscles were. I was told that if I didn’t stretch every day, my other muscle would probably tear, too because it was tighter than the leg I was there for. Well, now I stretch every day. I can touch my toes. That may not sound amazing to you, but I could not before. I don’t want my kids to have the same flexibility issues I have had, so we stretch- every day. We work out three days a week. What do I mean by work out? Running, push-ups, sit-ups, squats, wall-balls. I think that’s it, so far. We have just been doing two sets. We each start our timer and then stop it when we complete two rounds of the exercises for that day. It’s kind of like a mini- WOD (work out of the day). Of course, I plan on upping the reps and sets next week. Do more for longer. I know none of this is professional or anything, but at least we are moving. We are out in the sunshine and we are getting our blood pumping. That, to me, is the important thing.

As I told you in my last post, Lauren is our resident couch potato. I don’t know that she has ever “worked out” in all her almost 20 years of life. It is not really her thing. She has been to a few Refit (think Zumba) classes with me, but that’s about it. So, working out is out of her comfort zone. Thursday was a day full of “out of her comfort zone” things. Lauren had her annual allergy appointment Thursday afternoon. It was a workout day and so she did the workout that morning and got ready for her doctor appointment for the afternoon. Allergy appointments take several hours. They do blood work, scratch test, which is extremely uncomfortable, and discuss results and medications/treatments. Lot’s of decision making, especially with all of the health issues she deals with. Asthma, food allergies, and eczema, oh my! What made this appointment different is that for the last fifteen years she has been going to a different allergist, so this was a new office, new doctor, new staff, and she is considered an adult now. She is always nervous about all of the tests they run, but she was also going to be in the driver’s seat this time. They speak to her, ask her the questions, etc… She is used to Steve or me doing that. Growing pains. I am proud of her for taking charge, finding her voice, AND getting a workout in, on top of it all.

Michael has already begun his summer reading for school. He has two books he has to read and works data sheets to do on each. This is great considering last year we were cramming in his two books the last couple of weeks of summer! Don’t judge. It was a crazy summer. It snuck up on us, so we decided to be more intentional this summer and get it all done early. He has also been studying for the Alabama driver test to get his permit. He should be behind the wheel soon!

Steve and I took a bike ride (the Harley kind) down to Clanton Sunday afternoon. We just got on the highway and headed south. It was nice. I really enjoyed it. I don’t think we actually had a destination. We just rode. The next thing I knew, we were turning into Peach Park. We ate some peach cobbler, picked up some peaches and headed back home. (this was 2 days before we started Paleo, thank goodness, because that cobbler was delicious! ūüėČ It was fun to get out and just ride. We don’t do that often enough.

For the most part, our summer is starting out nicely. We have some decisions to make regarding Lauren’s health and mine (more on that later), but other than that, it has been a relaxing summer. Just the kind I like. I hope you are enjoying all the things of summer, too!


Lauren’s German Potato Salad

German potato salad – wheat, dairy, egg, nut free


Right after Steve and I met, Union Pacific moved his parent’s to Nebraska for a few years. Steve’s mom gave me a cookbook from their Lutheran church. ¬†Being from Mississippi, I grew up with traditional southern potato salad. ¬†You know – russet potatoes, hard boiled eggs, sweet pickles, and Blue Plate mayonnaise, of course. ¬†Add just a drop of mustard for a little kick. ¬†Well, I have yet to figure out a way to make that for Lauren without eggs or mayonnaise, so I looked up several different German potato salad recipes in this book as well as others. ¬†Most of the recipes are vinegar based, which I knew would be easier to make allergy friendly. ¬†Some of them use butter, some green onions. ¬†After a little trial and error, I came up with this one and it has become a family favorite and kept a bit of our German heritage alive, as well. ¬†This is one of Lauren’s favorites! ¬†Enjoy!



4-5 medium russet potatoes cubed                              1 tsp salt

4 slices crispy bacon (nitrate free)                               1/4 tsp celery salt

1 cup chopped onion                                                       dash of pepper

2 tbsp sugar                                                                      1/2 cup water

1 tbsp gluten-free flour                                                  1/4 cup apple cider vinegar




Fry bacon until crispy. ¬†Place fried bacon on a plate to drain. ¬†Reserve 2 tablespoons of the drippings in the pan. ¬†Saute’ onion in reserved bacon drippings until tender. ¬†Add sugar, flour, salt, celery salt, and pepper. ¬†Stir until smooth. ¬†Then, stir in water and vinegar and heat until bubbly. ¬†Boil potatoes in a pot for 4 to 5 minutes. ¬†Don’t over cook. ¬†Drain and gently incorporate into the onion mixture. ¬†Crumble bacon on top and serve warm.





Snake Oil


You know how different things come and go with your circle of friends and within your community, like shoulder pads, fidget spinners, low-fat foods, step aerobics.¬† Yes, I had a step.¬† It was green.¬† Don’t judge.¬† Some of the things worked, and well – some of them didn’t.¬† They just didn’t.¬† Some of these fads we try, and some we just observe and keep it movin’.¬† That is how I felt about the essential oil thing when it popped up everywhere.¬† I mean everywhere! Church, work, and boutiques I shopped at, the grocery stores.¬† More and more Facebook posts by friends talking about oils for scrapes and upset tummies,¬† better sleep, and anxiety.¬† I just didn’t believe in it and figured it was another fad that would come and then fade away as something else took its place.

Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.¬† It’s funny how once you have exhausted all other options, you are more open to trying things you never thought you would be open to trying.¬† Our middle child has severe eczema and was in a very bad flare last year.¬† We have frequented the dermatologist over the years and have used oral medications, as well as all kinds of steroid creams to try, and get things under control.¬† I wasn’t aware, at the time, that stress can cause an awful flare.¬† It was her Senior year of high-school and she had a LOT going on.¬† She finally started to clear up, after 4 months of an anti-biotic and several refills of a steroid cream.¬† Of course, our concern was and still is the long-term effects of these strong medications she was taking.¬† That’s when we discovered a friend from church had been dealing with some eczema issues and was using Young Living essential oils and they were working.¬† We asked her if we could try what she was using and she graciously made us up a roller bottle of oils and we tried it…and it worked.¬† Lauren came up to me just a couple of days later and said she was out and needed more.¬† I was surprised 1. that it really did work and 2. that she had used it up so fast.¬† So, her friend made up another bottle of the oils and Lauren continued to see positive results.¬† Well, I knew we couldn’t just keep using up her friend’s oils, so I asked how we could buy them ourselves and that day we entered into a whole new world of health and wellness that we had never ventured into before.

We purchased a starter kit with 11 oils, a diffuser, and a couple of sample packets of a drink with oils infused into it.¬† We also purchased a couple of other oils that didn’t come in the starter kit, so that we could make up the roller bottle for Lauren to use.¬† That was the only reason I purchased this kit.¬† It’s not like we were going to do anything else with it, other than make up this one concoction we knew about.¬† Ha!¬† Little did I know the path God was taking us down.¬† Looking back now, I realize how many areas of our lives He was moving in.

I let that kit sit for 6 months.¬† I did get out the diffuser and diffused some lemon and peppermint in the morning, but that was about it.¬† It was April of last year and Springtime allergies had us all a little stuffy.¬† It seemed to help Michael’s stuffy nose.¬† He would be able to blow his nose and breathe better.¬† I liked the uplifting scent of the lemon.¬† Steve said the peppermint smelled like candy canes.¬† Soon, school was out and we were very glad because Michael’s 7th grade year was rough, to say the least.¬† I felt it was a miracle that I still had hair and spent the summer dreading the next school year.¬† You see, things had not gone very smoothly last year.¬† Homework was beyond a struggle and communication with the school had not gone well.¬† I had no idea how we were going to get through the 8th grade.

Summer rocked on and the beginning of the school year came.¬† Yep, more of the same.¬† I was in tears, he was frustrated and I just did not know what in the world we were going to do.¬† It was September, we were at church, and I ran into the mom of the girl with the oils.¬† I remembered her telling me about those two drink samples in my kit and how much benefit her family had received from incorporating it into their family’s lives.¬† She said they were good for boosting your immune system and reducing inflammation.¬† So, I asked her what to do with them.¬† She told me to put them in the fridge to chill, shake one up and then drink one during the day.¬† So, I took one to work and drank it after lunch that day.¬† I had good afternoon.¬† I was focused on my work and then went home at the end of the day.¬† I didn’t think much more about it.¬† I took the other pouch to work the next day.¬† I had a great numbers day.¬† Actually, both of the days I had the best numbers I had ever had at work.¬† I looked at Steve and said how I had felt laser focused and wondered if it was just a coincidence or if that little red drink actually helped…and if it had helped, would it help Michael.

We bought 4 more of those pouches and we started giving Michael half a pouch every morning before school.¬† We had also started him on some vitamin C and vitamin D, as his pediatrician had found that he was low vitamin D.¬† Now, you have to know Michael and his typical week.¬† Michael is autistic and it takes every ounce of energy he has to just get through the day at school.¬† So, by the end of the week, he is exhausted.¬† I usually find him laid out on the couch, either asleep or just staring into space.¬† Worn out.¬† When asked about his day, he is not able to tell you much of anything.¬† He tries to remember, but just can’t.¬† Well, I walked in the door from work that Friday night, and said hello.¬† I was walking through the kitchen when Michael met me and asked me how my day was.¬† He was up.¬† Walking around.¬† I was kind of surprised and said, fine and asked him how his day was, expecting the usual one word answer, fine.¬† He began to tell me everything he did at school that day.¬† How cool the science experiments were and what they sang in choir.¬† I looked at Steve.¬† He looked at me.¬† We went to pick his sister up from college to see us for the weekend.¬† She got in the car and I turned around and asked Michael to tell Lauren how his day was at school.¬† ūüôā¬† Same thing.¬† I looked at her and her jaw dropped.¬† No.¬† It definitely wasn’t our imagination.¬† He was better.¬† He had more energy.¬† He was focused.¬† He could remember.¬† That was six months ago.¬† We have incorporated that little red drink into our daily lives.¬† He has since told me that he sleeps better and feels better.

Since then, we have diffused other oils and tried new ones.¬† We have learned so many amazing things about the lifeblood of the plants that God has given us and the many benefits they have.¬† That little red drink is called Ningxia Red.¬† The wolfberry is the main ingredient along with many super fruit juices and infused essential oils.¬† It has been a game changer for us.¬† Michael finishes much more of his work at school.¬† As a result, he has less homework, and what he does have, he is able to get through easier.¬† Now granted, he still has some rough days, but this year has gone much more smoothly.¬† Lauren decided to purchase her own kit this past December and is experimenting with different oils.¬† She loves grapefruit to help with the occasional blemish, as does Michael. Lavender really is good for supporting sleep, as well as, Cedarwood.¬† I love that there are no long-term negative side effects and our wellness is being supported in a natural and healthy way.¬† So much for my snake oil theory.¬† If it is just a placebo effect,¬† I’ll just keep on believing all the things about these oils and keep reaping the benefits.