For My Mom

For My Mom,

So many things are happening all at once in life. I wish I had more time to capture them all on paper. This year has been hard. The fragility of life continues to stare me in the face. It used to be my daily encounters with patients, but now it’s my own role as infertility patient and my mother’s role as breast cancer patient. As I fight to make a new life she fights to save the one that she has refined with fire over the past 69 years.

Frame Of Tulips On Turquoise Rustic Wooden Background. Spring Fl

There’s no one quite like my mom. None can really compare to the depth of her compassion for others, her genuine concern for their deepest needs, her self- sacrifice, and her willingness to give regardless of any cost or discomfort to herself. I’m not sure that I’ve ever met a woman more willing to give everything that she has to a stranger. When Christ said to the young ruler to sell all that he had and give it to the poor…my mom makes that look easy. You may think I’m exaggerating, but then I recall the homeless woman that she picked up off of the street and then brought home to live with us for 6 months; the time that we took about 50 pounds of fried chicken to the homeless in Metro DC parks just because; the week we spent serving meals to families during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew; her hours spent pouring into children with severe learning disabilities, the years she has ministered to broken women who have lost their husbands, their freedom, and their self-worth. When asked to help, she doesn’t think of the most minimal way…nope…she’s all in. If you could fault someone for possibly giving too much it would be her. And, yet, how can you fault her? I’m sure that she has entertained angels because she is always ready to say yes to what God has for her.

Not many people have that kind of empathy that moves beyond emotion into action. Not just action for a season, but action for a lifetime. Is my mom perfect? No. Do I hold that against her? Absolutely not. She has been an example to me of how an imperfect human can make an amazing difference. She has taught me to love others more than myself. To care for their needs more than my own. She has shown me that getting ahead is not as important as making sure that others get their feet underneath them. Money is simply a tool to help others. The more you have the greater your responsibility to use it for good. She has been an advocate for the woman without a voice and for the child trapped in the chaos of learning disabilities. She has opened doors and broken windows that others wouldn’t dare to even turn the handle on. Her boldness is courageous…and she makes it look easy. She asks for nothing in return except for prayers answered.Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

Yes, she’s the woman who prays for the clerk at the grocery counter…every time…For the woman sitting next to her in the waiting room, for the nurse administering her chemo, for the doctor who may be having a rough day. And, people actually want to pray with her. She is sincere. She wants to know their struggles. She wants to take them to God. She knows that only he can fix them.

Strangers are her friends within moments. And, she truly cares about their spiritual well being. Above all else she loves Jesus and has made it her mission in life to make sure that I love him too. I’m sure that she made far more sacrifices for me than I will ever know. And, while I selfishly complain that I don’t get to see her enough at Christmas time each year because she is off empowering widows young and old in Nigeria each holiday season, in my heart I’m astounded by her resolve to make their lives better. Because of her I’m inspired to heed to the compassion and empathy that stirs in my own soul.

The thing about her giving spirit is that it never runs dry. The more she gives out the more she is filled up. Her prayers are answered. She circles them. She marches around buildings until the walls fall down or until new walls are built. She is Ruth, Esther, Mary, and Martha all at once…and she is my mom. How blessed I have been and still am to know her and to be loved by her. She is the first person that I call for prayer. Again, while she has faults and imperfections that drive me crazy at times, these fall to the wayside in light of her strengths. I have never met another woman like my mother. She is loud. She is bright. She is the love of Jesus to others. And, she is unashamed.

She would be embarrassed if I said that her faith in God was, “impressive.” Her faith in God is faithful. And, while she triumphs now through rounds of chemo to quell and aggressive stage 4 breast cancer, she would point to God saying that he is her miraculous healer even if that healing happens after this life.

Selfishly, I don’t want to lose her from this life. I want to continue to see God use her in amazing ways. I want to continue to be inspired by the legacy she is creating-a legacy that moves thousands to their knees in prayer. I’m sure God can’t wait to have her in heaven, but my prayer is that he will wait a whole lot longer.

To My Precious and Irreplaceable Mom

(Boldly written because she wouldn’t have it any other way.)

Love,

The Daughter in Me

Brand Rep Search for a Beautiful Business and an Amazing Cause… The Borrowed Boutique

Many of you are aware that I have a styling and rental business called, The Borrowed Boutique. Well, things have taken off in the past year and this “baby” of mine has become a full-time job, apart from caring for my 3 year old, freelance health writing, blogging, and trying for baby #2 the hard way (aka IVF). My heart for medical missions and public health lead me down a path I wasn’t fully anticipating. I’ve always had a love for children’s fashion, styling, and creative design; but, I didn’t want to leave my medical background behind. Instead, I decided to become a social entrepreneur. You may not be familiar with this term, but most of you are probably familiar with TOMS Shoes. Same idea, except, for every item rented from my shop; I currently donate funds to help protect young girls from sex-trafficking, childhood prostitution, and exploitation. GIVING BACK is what my shop is all about. Those renting give the dresses back, and in return, I give back to non-profits doing amazing work. 12118842_521452064699858_5224801051532503696_n12027668_10207385755860235_5895045795442512388_n

The journey to start this business has pushed my comfort zone on all levels. While my natural skills make styling easy, and my medical and public health background make the giving portion easy, the business side of things has been a bit more challenging. That’s okay. As most of you know…I’m up for a challenge. Getting through med school and residency taught me that perseverance and a positive outlook are more than half the battle. Sprinkle in some infertility with 10 cycles of IVF and I would say determination is part of my portfolio. So, late nights, dreams (and nightmares) filled with tutus, tracking packages, manually invoicing, filling orders, running to the post office and UPS, steaming dresses, etc. etc. have all been worth the sweat and toil when I consider the difference this business is making. In July, I travelled to Brazil where I was able to work with an amazing non-profit that helps protect young girls from sex-trafficking, childhood prostitution, and exploitation. A partnership was born, and now Esthers Children is our first giving partner.M88B8847

Visiting the broken down homes of destitute little girls…broken windows, missing front doors, men passed out on filthy beds after shooting up all night, mothers intoxicated, food in scarce supply; and hearing the stories of girls as young as 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 being exploited by 40-year-old men stirred a fire in me that I refuse to extinguish. In addition to giving back for each item rented, I have now launched a #Styledtogive campaign. 100% of proceeds from this campaign will be donated to our giving partners. While fashion may seem frivolous, and expensive photos a luxury, using these aesthetically gorgeous things (which I deeply appreciate) to bring inner beauty and hope to a less fortunate child or mother is anything but frivolous or luxurious. It is justice. It is compassion. It is empowerment. It is true beauty at its best.

I don’t say all of this to make myself into a hero. I’m simply sharing so that you too will be inspired to find creative ways to make a difference too. Make the ordinary…extraordinary. Add meaning to the mundane. Approach each task with the intention to incorporate giving. A truly full life is one full of generosity.

If you’re excited about my new venture and want to get involved, I’m definitely looking for partners in giving and business. I’m also looking for Brand Reps (which is why I started writing this blog in the first place!). Check out the details below to be considered. And, for more info on The Borrowed Boutique follow on Facebook and Instagram. The website is due to launch early February, but in the meantime you can still rent through the Facebook page.

BRAND REP SEARCH DETAILS!!!!

READY…SET…GO!!! The Borrowed Boutique will be choosing brand reps every several months to help promote our brand and business by posting images using our rentals; giving us major shout outs; promoting our events, and telling everyone you know about our business. This is a fun way for you to get rental items for free. Many of you have asked for trades of product for images. Here’s a way to have that dream come true. For those selected, we will send you free rentals each month that you are serving as a brand rep or enthusiast. Both photographers, bloggers, child models, and ordinary kiddos who love to have their picture taken will be considered.

Here’s how to qualify and how to enter:
1. Follow The Borrowed Boutique on Facebook and @theborrowedboutique on Instagram
2. Repost the picture below on Instagram and tag @theborrowedboutique and ‪#‎theborrowedboutique‬‪#‎theborrowedboutiquebrandrepsearch‬
3. Include these rules when posting the image so others will know what’s going on.
4. Share the image with three friends that you think might be interested on Instagram
5. You may tag up to three photos daily with #theborrowedboutiquebrandrepsearch
6. Your instagram account must be set to public to be considered. And, yes, you must be active on Instagram.

We will be selecting the first set of Brand Reps very quickly. READY…SET…GO!!1

From,

The Mom in Me, MD and The Borrowed Boutique

Happy Holidays!!!

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This Year our travels took us to England where we were able to stay on a gorgeous property complete with its own stables and horses! Can’t wait to see what the New Year will bring.

From,
The Mom in Me, MD

What does a fertile faith look like in the midst of infertility??? Part 1

I don’t touch on “religious” topics too often. It’s not that I’m ashamed of my faith or trying to shy away from it. On the contrary, my faith centers my life. It gives me hope. It keeps me sane. Call me weak…and I’d probably agree with you. Without my faith, I never would have found the strength to endure the road to becoming a physician, infertility, pregnancy loss, severe preeclampsia, having a premature baby, and dealing with the rest of life’s trials along the way.Woman hiker on a top of a mountain

Don’t get me wrong, many people have suffered greater losses, heartaches, and pains than I can dare imagine. Living in the United States makes most of my problems “First World” inconveniences. But, here and there my heartaches have been and still are significant. I’m often asked how I’ve found the strength to make it through 9 complicated IVF cycles with only one baby to show for it. How do I keep going?  Were does my strength come from? How do I find the endurance? What’s the key to making it through?  As I’ve opened up about my infertility journey these questions have continued to ping my inbox. What’s the secret?Closeup On Hands Of Stressed Young Woman

I’ve decided that it isn’t a secret at all. And, while some won’t like my answer, it is still my answer. Feel free to disagree. That’s the beauty of living in a country with freedom of speech and religion. If you don’t have a faith base and find this annoying, that’s fine too. I’m not offended by you, and it’s not my intention to offend you. I’m simply sharing from my own world in life view what I’ve found to be most helpful. Here goes…

Stay tuned for Part 2

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One Easy Way to Prevent Childhood Obesity in your Family

child drink the fruit juice

With childhood obesity numbers soaring off the charts, many parents are more in tune with what their children are eating and drinking. French fries are being replaced with sweet potato fries and fruit cups, chicken tenders are getting the boot from their healthier grilled self, and sodas are being upgraded to real fruit juice. But, is this upgrade to juice really an upgrade at all?

Even though juice comes from fruit, it is still loaded with sugar and extra calories. Unfortunately, many parents think that this is a healthy option for their kids because of all of the vitamins and minerals juices offer. What they don’t take into consideration is that a single serving of fruit juice has far more calories from sugar than eating a piece of fruit (more than double, actually). And, while chewing an apple actually burns calories, swallowing a calorie-laden beverage like juice doesn’t give your mouth a workout.

Juice is absorbed quickly, and because it is full of liquid sugars, it creates a spike in insulin levels. If consumed in larger amounts regularly, it has the potential to cause childhood obesity and diabetes. Additionally, it lacks the filling fiber that a piece of fruit offers. So even after having consumed 180 calories of juice, your child will probably be hungry again fairly quickly.

Although the American Academy of Pediatrics currently allows for a limited amount of juice (4-6 ounces per day for infants >6 months and 6 ounces twice daily for children) in a child’s daily diet, the recommendation to cut it out altogether may be on the horizon. So while skipping the daily candy bar and soda is a must, limiting the amount of juice your child drinks may be equally important in ensuring their health and preventing childhood obesity.

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Best Grilled Chicken Recipe…EVER!!!!

Grilled Chicken Skewer With SaladSo, I swore that I would never share this recipe! It has been my entertaining go to for several years now, and it is always a hit. Not only is it fairly easy, it is incredibly healthy and delicious. Although it’s primarily meant for summer grilling, I adapt it for the winter months too by baking the chicken instead of grilling it…still delicious!

Mediterranean food is just plain healthy (It’s also my favorite). Give me some tabouli and hummus, and I’m in paradise. Although tandoori is technically an Indian dish, I like to pair it with Mediterranean sidekicks. The yogurt marinade and side sauce make the ensemble work deliciously. Even if you don’t usually gravitate toward ethnic foods, give it a try. Your taste buds may surprise you. My sidekicks for this chicken dish include rice pilaf, tabouli, pita and hummus, and a watermelon/mint salad for dessert. Here is my version adapted from the Williams-Sonoma Complete Grilling Cookbook.

The Chicken Marinade: 

3/4 cups plain yogurt

4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tablespoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

4-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts (I often double the recipe for company)

Chicken Directions: 

Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl. Using a knife, score the chicken (make small cuts into the meat). Place flat in a dish and pour the above marinade over the meat, coating both sides completely. Cover and refrigerate for a few hours (overnight is even better). Get the grill going, and throw the chicken on. Use the left over marinade to re-coat the chicken when you flip it. Cook on grill until fully cooked (approx. 20-30 min).

The Side Sauce:

1 cucumber chopped

1 cup plain yogurt

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Side Sauce Directions: 

Simply mix it all together and serve it on top of the chicken or on the side as a dipping sauce for the chicken.

Enjoy!!

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Deflate your Child’s Water Wings: Water Safety Update!

He rushed back into the bathroom only to see my tiny body face down in the tub. In the moment that he had stepped out of the bathroom, I had climbed back in. My little white nightgown acted as a stopper, trapping the remaining water and holding my small frame hostage. A moment of time…an inch of water…had my father arrived one minute later I may not be sharing these safety tips with you today.

Water safety is always an important topic. During the summer months when temperatures soar, baby pools become permanent yard fixtures, and playdates are centered at the neighborhood pool; it’s imperative that we refresh our memories so that are kids safely stay afloat.

1. What Flotation Devices To Trust:

I wore them. You probably wore them, and we are both here today, but don’t trust your child’s water wings to keep them from drowning. Not only can they easily deflate, they can easily slip off. They don’t keep your little one’s head above water, and they are not Coast Guard approved as a true safety flotation device. While no flotation device (inflatable toys, noodles, etc) should replace proper adult supervision in or around the water, making sure that your child has a Coast Guard approved flotation device is of paramount importance.

2. Backyard Water No No’s :

Although it may sound impossible, young children can drown in as little as an inch of water. Tragically, it happens. So while leaving a baby pool in the back yard may sound like a great idea…DON’T DO IT! When you are done with it, put it away immediately. Even if you dump it out and leave it in the yard, summer rain storms are sure to add an inch here or there. While your little one may not wander into it, a neighboring child may. The only way to ensure that your baby pool won’t lead to an unintentional injury is to supervise appropriately when you are using it, dump all of the water out when you are done with it, and safely store it on its side or flipped upside down in your garage or another place where only an adult can get it down.

In addition to baby pools, standing buckets of water and splash tables that hold water can also be dangerous. dump these out as well and store them properly.

If you have a backyard pool or are visiting someone who does, make sure that you are always supervising. Kids are fast! One minute they are at your side and the next they are in the water. It only takes a moment for a child to drown. It’s okay for you to be paranoid when your kids are around water. That’s your job! It’s also a good idea to make sure that you take a CPR class. Heaven forbid that you will ever need to use it, but in the event that something happens, knowing CPR could make the difference in your child’s life. Every moment counts.

3. Teach them to Swim:

The American Academy of Pediatrics is now recommending that young children be introduced to swimming at a young age. Starting as early as the toddler years is a great idea! Research now shows that formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning in children ages 1-4 years old. Even if your child knows how to swim, you should always supervise! Also, advise your kids to stay away from pool drains. These have been known to have a suction power that can pull children down preventing them from being able to get back to the surface.

For more detailed information check out the CDC’s recommendations as well as those from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Have fun in the water this summer…but don’t forget to stay safe. Sun protection is also important! Check out this blog post: Sunscreen safety tips for Kids

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Gluten Free…Fad, Fable, or For Real!

Gluten Free Diets are becoming the norm for many Americans. If you want the skinny on who really needs this type of diet and how healthy it truly is for the general public…check out one of my latest articles for Hamilton County Family Magazine.

Gluten Free Diets: Who Needs These Restrictions and Who Doesn’t? 

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4 MUST KNOW Safety Tips for Choosing and Applying Your Child’s Sunscreen

Sunscreen is a MUST for our kids! And, although most of us use it on them routinely, is the type that we are using really safe for kids? I recently had to make a sunscreen switch for my own daughter after reviewing the American Academy of Pediatrics and the FDA’s updated guidelines and recommendations. Since I was in the dark on this topic, I thought I would share 4 important points that every mom should know.

1. Ditch the Oxybenzone

When a friend asked me my opinion about oxybenzone in children’s sunscreen, I gave her a blank stare. I hadn’t really heard all that much about it, and I assumed that the concerns were simply social media hype. Trying not to be too skeptical, I told her that I would look into it. To my surprise, there does seem to be some legitimate concern regarding oxybenzone, although some organizations such as the American Academy of Dermatology do still think that it is safe to use in children. (The CDC and the Environmental Working Group). This product which is found in many infant and children sunscreens can act like a hormone, potentially influencing our developing children’s endocrine systems. Although long-term studies have not yet been done to determine the extent of the harm, the American Academy of Pediatrics is recommending that parents avoid this ingredient when purchasing sunscreen. In a society where precocious puberty (puberty at a young age) is becoming a more common issue, I decided it was probably a good idea to not take a chance. I’ve opted for a oxybenzone free sunscreen. On a side note, if you are going to be out in the sun and your only option for sunscreen contains oxybenzone, go ahead and use it. Infrequent use is probably not going to have an effect on your child’s hormone levels, but we do know that sunburns in childhood definitely predispose them to skin cancer later in life.

2.  Aerosolized Children’s Sunscreen May be a “No, No”

Many of the large sunscreen companies have made our lives as moms much easier! They have created an aerosolized sunscreen revolution. It’s fast, it’s much less messy, and it goes on more easily. Bad news is…we aren’t exactly sure what it might be doing in our children’s lungs. The whole point of an aerosolized sunscreen is that it sprays through the air onto the skin. Our children are inevitably breathing in some of this spray. Because the aerosolized sunscreens contain nano particles (incredibly tiny particles), when breathed in they are able to travel much further into the lungs. There is concern in the medical community that these nano particles might cause local irritation in the lung tissue or result in increased absorption with unknown longterm effects. If you have to use an aerosolized spray, first spray it onto your hand (away from your child) and then apply it to your child’s skin directly.Hand heart

3. Broad Coverage Update

The FDA has changed its regulations on how companies are allowed to promote their sunscreens. They can only advertise “Broad Coverage” if they provide both UVA (ultraviolet ray A) and UVB (ultraviolet ray B) protection. You want to make sure that you are choosing a sunscreen that has both of these. This is the only way to prevent not only sunburns, but also longterm risk for skin cancers. In addition to broad coverage, make sure that you look for an SPF of at least 15 to 30 (50 would be great if you have the option). Anything higher than 50 doesn’t really have any additional protection as far as we can tell. So, if it says SPF 70 but no broad coverage, don’t buy it!

4. Put it on Before You Hit the Beach and then Keep Reapplying!!

Sunscreen needs a little time (15-30 minutes) to absorb in order to be effective. Don’t wait until you are already in the sun to put it on your kids. Apply it before you leave the house so that they will be protected from the harmful UV rays the entire time they are in the sun. Remember to keep reapplying it as well. Once and done is not going to work. Most sunscreens need to be Little girl with bottle of sun cream sitting at tropical beachreapplied after two hours. However, if your child is swimming or sweating, you should reapply it sooner.

Check out the AAP Sun Safety Guideline Information Sheet for Parents for more information on sun protection. Remember…protecting your child’s skin from burns today will protect him/her from skin cancer later in life. It really is that important!

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