elliot west

Family Photos with Jamie Sapp Photography

Just after Elliot's first birthday we had a little afternoon photo shoot with the talented Jamie Sapp, and I am overwhelmed with how beautifully she captured our little family. It was a fun afternoon where we just played in the fields and grass, and E had just started walking, making it even more of a fun play-filled afternoon. I love how Jamie captured those sweet little moments and brought out just how much light and love this little one has brought to our lives. 

Easter + Monday Musings

We spent Easter weekend surrounded with family and outside in the sunshine. It was such a gorgeous day to celebrate our risen Savior and the amazing gift that his sacrifice brought us. I truly love this holiday and look forward to teaching Elliot about its meaning as he gets older. This year he enjoyed our church service outside on the city square, with the blue sky, light breeze and plenty of family members to keep him occupied.

We had meals with both our families, and E was able to get in some good hang out time with his cousins. My mom always goes the extra mile to make things feel special. It's one of the traits I love most about her. She put together these festive spring hanging baskets and made a gorgeous (and delicious!) punch just because. Of course, we 'hunted' eggs with Elliot in my parents' backyard, and he was pretty excited about picking them up and putting them in his little basket. It was the cutest. 

My sweet sister gifted him some freeze-dried apples, pjs and an adorable romper, and my mama gave him a cute summer outfit. I love seeing how much my family adores him, and I love knowing that they will be a big part of his life. (Side note: Isn't my parents' backyard gorgeous? It's like a scene out of Southern Living magazine. I love spending time there!)

People often ask me if I enjoy living in/near the town where I grew up, and honestly I don't think about it much. We chose to stay because it is important to us that be we close to family. My husband and I have had a few really amazing career opportunities that would have brought us much more money and the ability to travel, but it came at the sacrifice of family and the freedom to enjoy spur of the moment Saturday breakfast together. So for us, the decision to allow those opportunities to pass was one that we never regret. We both want our parents, siblings, their children, our own aunts and uncles, and even old family friends to be a big part of our lives, and especially our son's life. 

Life:Unfiltered

A little peek inside our life, completely un-staged, no makeup, bare-footed, messes and all. Because, finding the beauty in the ordinary, in the little moments.

Morning light, my favorite time of day, I feel the weight of renewed grace and endless mercies.

Morning light, my favorite time of day, I feel the weight of renewed grace and endless mercies.

Give me all the forsythia. And the daffodils, too.

Give me all the forsythia. And the daffodils, too.

We spent the vast majority of Saturday on the patio. Glorious! I'm itching to add more greenery to our clay pots, and creeping jenny are my favorite! Also scheming to add more twinkle lights, because there is no such thing as too many twinkle lights...

We spent the vast majority of Saturday on the patio. Glorious! I'm itching to add more greenery to our clay pots, and creeping jenny are my favorite! Also scheming to add more twinkle lights, because there is no such thing as too many twinkle lights...

Diluted purification oil rubbed on our arms and legs because the mosquitoes were already on the prowl. DIY natural repellent recipe coming soon!

Diluted purification oil rubbed on our arms and legs because the mosquitoes were already on the prowl. DIY natural repellent recipe coming soon!

Grilling season is here! This is our favorite weekend pastime. It allows us to spend as much time outside as possible and requires little to no clean up!

Grilling season is here! This is our favorite weekend pastime. It allows us to spend as much time outside as possible and requires little to no clean up!

A drop or two of orange oil in your brownie mix, because hello! Orange + chocolate.

A drop or two of orange oil in your brownie mix, because hello! Orange + chocolate.

He found the box of tissues.....

He found the box of tissues.....

Tiny little socks, everywhere. Because for whatever reason, they just won't stay on his feet. 

Tiny little socks, everywhere. Because for whatever reason, they just won't stay on his feet. 


08+09 / 52

     

"Everything old people say about time is true. For starters, it flies. As a kid living through semi-eternal summer vacations, this is hard to believe. But as an adult? Get married. Have children. And then sit back, stunned, watching an absolute roar of gorgeous moments and hilarious moments and exhausting moments disappear - quickly and in tragedy or marching off at the tradtional pace, but disappear they must. Snap a photo or two. Read verses about futility. Watching one's small humans age and grow up packs a serious punch...no matter how many pictures we take, no matter how many scrapbooks we make, no matter how many moments we invade with a rolling camera, we will die...we cannot grab and hold. We cannot smuggle things out with us through death...Our futile struggle through time is courtesy of God's excessive giving. Sunset after sunset make it hard to remember and hold just one. Smell after smell. Laugh after laugh. A mind still thinking, a heart still beating. Imagine sticking your finger on your pulse and thanking God every time He gave you another blood-driving, brain-powering thump. We should. And we shouldn't, because if we did, we would never do anything else with our living; we wouldn't have the time to look at or savor any of the other of our impossibillions of gifts.

My wife and I tend to overgift to our kids at Christmas. We laugh and feel foolish when a kid is so distracted with one toy that we must force them into opening the next, or when something grand goes completely unnoticed in a corner. How consummerist, right? How crassly American. How like God." -N.D. Wilson

Indian Summer

We had the most beautiful weekend full of family, sunshine, warm weather, patio afternoons, dinner outside, and lots of time in the swing. We had a St. Patty's celebration breakfast with my parents and my sister's family. My little man absolutely loves being around his older cousins. They are so good with him, and he thinks they are hilarious. 

Somehow this month is incredibly busy for us on the work front, so having a chance to just be at home and enjoy our little family of three was exactly what we needed. The sunshine is just so good for my soul. I love that my husband and son and I share a love of being outdoors, and I really look forward to sharing adventures with Elliot as he grows older. Hoping for more sunny weekends!

Valentine's Day 2015

We had the best Valentine's Day this past weekend! Breakfast at home with heart-shaped biscuits and an afternoon outside.

 My thoughtful, encouraging husband had the idea to take a picnic lunch to our favorite state park and then take a long walk along the mountain bike trails. It was wonderful! We took our camp chairs and table and spread a blanket out on the pine straw. Elliot naturally wanted to crawl around in the pine straw and not stay on the blanket, so we just let him. He was in heaven! The sky was so blue, the sun was shining, and the air was cool and crisp. We ate our lunch and chatted and just soaked up a little vitamin D before hitting the trails for a long walk. 

It was such a great day. I honestly really enjoyed just being outside and being together. We left our phones in the car and just enjoyed nature and enjoyed each other. I've mentioned it before, but we are  focusing on being present, especially when it comes to spending time with Elliot and spending time as a family.

06+07 / 52

A portrait series of my son once a week for an entire year.

We bought a bike carrier and helmet for you little one! You cried the first time we tried your helmet on, but loved riding around the neighborhood on dad's bike. You squealed every time that I sped past and babbled about the entire ride.

We bought a bike carrier and helmet for you little one! You cried the first time we tried your helmet on, but loved riding around the neighborhood on dad's bike. You squealed every time that I sped past and babbled about the entire ride.

Happy Valentine's Day to my number two valentine. I love you so.

Happy Valentine's Day to my number two valentine. I love you so.

03+04+05 / 52

A portrait series of my son once a week for an entire year.

Oh little son of mine, you are such a light in my life. You are full of smiles, so silly and playful and always bring sunshine to my days. I miss you so when I am at work and look forward to even the briefest of moments with you at the end of the day. You love to be outside, to walk and stroll, to look at the birds and trees, all while babbling away about who knows what. It is music to my ears. Your tiny personality is growing bigger day by day. 

Oh little son of mine, you are such a light in my life. You are full of smiles, so silly and playful and always bring sunshine to my days. I miss you so when I am at work and look forward to even the briefest of moments with you at the end of the day. You love to be outside, to walk and stroll, to look at the birds and trees, all while babbling away about who knows what. It is music to my ears. Your tiny personality is growing bigger day by day. 

Nutrition Tips 02 / Feeding the Littles

One of the most frequently asked questions that I receive is about how we feed our little guy without turning to standard sugar and gluten-laden foods that are, unfortunately, so prevalent in our infant and toddler food options. Maybe it's because we have been at this whole food diet thing for so long, and maybe people over think these types of things, but honestly it isn't hard. I promise! It may seem against the grain (pun intended) to start your infant on pureed vegetables instead of oatmeal or rice cereal, but I am fairly certain that our nomadic ancestors didn't have access to Gerber Good Start cereal. #amIright?

My goal in this little space of the interweb is to help you make positive changes for your family, to share information that brings you to a place of health and wellness, and to support and encourage you along the way. For you as an individual and for your families. So with that it mind, here are some tips and tricks and recipes that we have found to be successful when starting solid food while living a whole food, paleo-esque lifestyle.

+ First foods: sweet potatoes, green beans, zucchini, carrots, butternut squash, acorn squash, cooked apples, bananas, avocado
Elliot's first food was a pureed sweet potato. We started him out around 4&1/2 months with just a tiny bit of solids every day to get him used to the idea. At this point, his primary source of nutrition was breast milk. He didn't start eating solid food consistently, three times a day until about 7-8 months.

+ Purees v. baby led weaning
This is a topic that you need to research and discuss as a family to decide which school of feeding is right for you. We tried more of the BLW approach, and it just wasn't working, so we did a hybrid, with purees being the primary source of solid food with soft chunks of food mixed in. My son has a super sensitive gag reflex, so for us this was best. 

+ More advanced foods: baked sweet potatoes cut into chunks, scrambled egg yolk with zucchini chunks, paleo zucchini bread or carrot muffins, roasted root vegetables, pieces of soft fruit, avocado slices, steamed broccoli or cauliflower 'trees', a whole, peeled apple, chunks of soft chicken, ground beef mix with butternut squash, goat milk yogurt, coconut milk/cream, other soft fruits like peaches, pears.

+ As your child gets older, start to slowing increase the consistency of his food and the size of the pieces. We went from pureeing a boiled egg yolk, to scrambling it in grass fed butter and mashing in some avocado and sometimes banana. Then we slowly increased the size of the avocado and banana pieces, and now he just east the scrambled egg.

Here is a peek at what a typical day for Elliot looks like:


BREAKFAST: egg + zucchini scramble OR a piece of paleo zucchini bread, half a banana or some blueberries, avocado slices, baked sweet potato or butternut squash, coconut milk/cream mixed with a little fruit puree
+ To make the egg and veggie scramble:
Steam sautee peeled chunks of squash or zucchini in grass-fed butter, ghee or coconut oil until soft. Add in your egg yolk and mix it into the vegetables until it's fully cooked. For a younger babe, we mashed it up more and added in mashed avocado. Now, we just put the pieces of egg/zucchini on Elliot's tray and let him pick them up to eat. Sometimes we use broccoli instead of zucchini for something different.

LUNCH: chicken salad, half a pear, sweet potato chunks, steamed broccoli or roasted veggies, a little bit of goat milk yogurt, some zucchini bread if he didn't eat it for breakfast
+ To make baby chicken salad:
Boil chicken breast (or cook in a crock pot, then shred) then cut it into small pieces. Add in a little bit of mayo (we like to make our own) and some seasoning if you wish (we like 21 Season Salute from Trader Joe's because it is tasty and salt-free). You can also just give your little one chunks of soft chicken without making chicken salad.
+ For sweet potato chunks:
Bake some whole sweet potatoes at the beginning of the week. To use, just warm slightly in a toaster oven, then cut off small pieces. Since it is a baked potato, it will be really soft.

DINNER: grass-fed ground beef with sweet potato or butternut squash, roasted vegetables (zucchini, parsnips, winter squash, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots), maybe some more avocado
+ For the ground beef:
Cook your ground beef as you normally would, then take out a small portion and mix in some soft baked sweet potato or butternut/acorn squash. We add in some grass-fed butter for healthy fat.

FORMULA: Elliot self-weaned around 9 months, and pumping at work isn't possible (long story), so we are making our own formula following this recipe. We only use 2tsp of sugar per quart because E gets enough good carbs from fruit and starchy vegetables at this point. We also decrease the amount of oil because we give him good fats from avocado, coconut cream and grass-fed butter. He takes about 3 bottles a day, one before each nap and one before bed. This works for us, so we are doing it. Do what works for you and your kids.

BOTTOM LINE: Elliot eats the same foods we eat, just in softer, more manageable forms. 

Other things:
+ We also make the Hidden Veggie Muffins from this cookbook (one of my favorites!). We make it into a bread because washing a bread pan is so much easier than washing a muffin tin.
+ We love the book 201 Organic Baby Purees and used it a LOT when starting solids.
+ When we were making purees, I would go to the farmer's market and stock up on organic produce, then cook and freeze it using this silicone freezer tray (LOVE) and these storage cubes. I would then take out enough cubes for a few days and place them in the fridge to defrost. So easy and convenient for taking to a sitter when you have a hectic schedule!
+ For convenience and for when we were out and about, we like these organic pouches in various fruit and vegetable combinations (just steer clear of yogurt and oatmeal/grain-containing flavors).
+ Now that Elliot is older, we like these glass bottles for his formula. When he was still nursing, however, we used these bottles that are more similar to breast-feeding.

It is so incredibly important to all of us as parents to give our kids the best start in life and support them as much as possible. Hope this helps give you some direction when it comes to feeding your littles!

Moments 01

A few moments from January that are not to be forgotten..

This face. Always this face. <3

This face. Always this face. <3

Saturday morning cashew flour pancakes and coffee.

Saturday morning cashew flour pancakes and coffee.

A gorgeous and inspiring brunch with my local oils team. I am beyond grateful for this amazing community that is so encouraging and uplifting. No one is too experienced or busy to answer questions, provide feedback and lend a helping hand.

A gorgeous and inspiring brunch with my local oils team. I am beyond grateful for this amazing community that is so encouraging and uplifting. No one is too experienced or busy to answer questions, provide feedback and lend a helping hand.

Long walks on pretty days, sunshine and blue skies even in January.

Long walks on pretty days, sunshine and blue skies even in January.

I love being able to naturally treat the aches and obstacles&nbsp;of childhood.&nbsp;From teething to fussiness to coughs and boosting our immune systems, essential oils have been so life changing for us.

I love being able to naturally treat the aches and obstacles of childhood. From teething to fussiness to coughs and boosting our immune systems, essential oils have been so life changing for us.

Gluten-free granola.

Gluten-free granola.

Beautiful tulips from my sweet, just because.

Beautiful tulips from my sweet, just because.