All I Want for Christmas…

By Melinda Gardner, APPLE Pregnancy Care Center

Today it’s early fall and the furnace kicked on for the first time. The leaves are turning and falling, and I’m pretty sure summer is over. And sometimes that can make moms panic because we all know what’s coming: Christmas. When you think of that, does it make you excited—or totally panicked?

I have a friend who told me once about how she spent weeks preparing for Christmas and felt like she was putting on this huge event. Everyone loved it—except for her! She was exhausted.

It really helps if you can put things into perspective. Ask yourself: What are the things that I love to do as I prepare for this holiday? What are the things that I don’t really want to do but do anyway? What is Christmas all about anyway?

We all need to remember that it’s not about “the stuff.” It’s so easy to think we need piles of presents. We spend more than we want to. We panic that it isn’t “enough” but really, it’s too much. Your children want YOU—your time, your presence, a mom or dad who isn’t stressed and unavailable.

I grew up in a family that really valued each other. We had traditional things that we did every year that made the holiday special for us. Certain Norwegian food (It’s usually white!), he Norwegian candleholders at each place at the Christmas Eve table that we lit as we sang “Silent Night” together. My dad read the Christmas story from the gospel of Luke before we had dinner. These things are all really easy and don’t cost much money, but they made our celebration so special and uniquely ours.

Guess what? You can start your own traditions right now.

  • Decorate Christmas cookies with your kids. (play music of course)
  • Pick a Christmas CD that you always listen to together. (We decorate the tree to the Amy Grant Christmas album—the old one!)
  • Help your little ones make gifts for someone else. It’s great to teach them the joy of giving.
  • Watch a Christmas movie together. We love Emmett Otter’s Jug Band Christmas. It’s a Jim Henson production and so funny.
  • Serve at a food bank or community table together or ring the bell for Salvation Army. It’s so satisfying to see your child learn to care for others.
  • Go for a walk during a snowstorm. Make snow angels. Have hot chocolate.
  • Stop—think—enjoy your family.
  • Go to a Christmas service and worship together.

Have a blessed, peaceful Christmas season with your family.

Melinda Gardner is the executive director of the APPLE Pregnancy Care Center in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. She is a wife, mother of two adult daughters and grandmother of one special little boy.

Healthy Choices: Safeguarding against Seasonal Stress

By Dr. Lynn Thompson

Stress is defined as the organism’s response to environmental pressures or demands either internal or external. The causes of stress in humans can include any event that the individual perceives, consciously or unconsciously, as a threat. It has been reported that at least 90 percent of all diseases are related to stress and the lack of the coping skills to alleviate the long-term reactions. This particular time of year has special risks for uncontrolled stress.

This time of year we find to be more stressful from lack of sunshine, increase in sugar consumption, and “family” or community traditions. We live in an area around the 45th north latitude and as such are very limited on the direct sunlight during the winter months. Stress can present as depression (also increased in the winter months). When the skin does not have enough sunlight, Vitamin D is not manufactured. If you do not have adequate sun exposure, you should include good sources of Vitamin D in your diet from egg yolks; raw cow milk; fatty fish like sardines, mackerel, salmon, and herring; shrimp; chicken liver; and orange juice.

Ironically, orange juice is very high in sugar. In a one cup serving (8 ounces), OJ has 124 mg (milligrams) of Vitamin C (more than 100 percent of the US government’s Recommended Daily Intake of about 60 mg/day. Research dating back to 1999 recommends an increase to 120 mg/day). Dr. Linus Pauling discovered that Vitamin C is needed by the body to fight bacteria and viruses. Glucose (simplest form of sugar found in the body) and Vitamin C have similar chemical structures. There are times when the body can confuse sugar and Vitamin C. When the blood sugar level reaches 120mg/dl, the body’s ability to destroy the bacteria and viruses is reduced by 75 percent for the next four to six hours. Here are some not-so-sweet facts about sugar, just to name a few.

 

  • The average American consumes 100 pounds of sugar per year. Crazy, right?  It is even crazier when compared to the mere 8 pounds of broccoli the average American consumes annually.
  • The other white powder. Sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
  • Sugar is hidden almost everywhere, especially in processed foods.
  • Sugar in disguise:  corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, maltose, glucose, fructose—watch out for the “ose” at the end of the word!
  • Refined table sugar (aka sucrose) lacks vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  In fact, your body has to tap into its precious mineral and enzyme stores to process it.
  • If your body does not properly digest sugar (and simple carbs for that matter), it contributes to candida overgrowth. If you are not familiar with candida, it is worth a Google or Bing search.
  • It feeds the bad guys. Sugar contributes to an acidic environment, which cancer and other diseases love!
  • It contributes to Type 2 diabetes.

This time of year, many of us celebrate religious holidays and overindulge in spending, eating, and lack of sunshine. Rather than participate in activities that increase stress levels, take a deep breath, go for a walk, have an attitude of gratitude, enjoy a hearty laugh, and share a healthy, low-sugar meal made with love and joy.

A cheerful heart is good medicine.
Proverbs 17:22

Dr. Lynn Thompson holds doctorates in chiropractic, naturopathy, and homeopathy. She has been involved in healthcare for forty years. Dr. Lynn resides in Foster with her husband, John, and travels extensively around the United States presenting classes on health and wellness utilizing essential oils and nutrition.

My Favorite Health Tip: Top Santa’s Naughty List!

By April Willger, Integrative Health Coach and owner of Wellness N Soul

As an integrative health coach I guide clients to do “nice” things like drink more water, express more gratitude, and clean out that closet that almost kills you each time you open it.

That’s all fun and cute. But when we get about four to five months into the program, I spring a recommendation on my clients that is one of my favorites: I tell them to BE BAD!

My clients usually give me the seventy-five-year-old grandma response in a sweet, “I’m going to run home and bake cookies for you” voice, “Oh I don’t know if I can do that. I’m just a nice person, and it’s so hard for me to be rude, and, and….”

Excuses, excuses, excuses. I’ve heard them all.

Come on, Grandma. I’m not talking about illegal drugs and a night in jail or anything. I’m talking about gently brake checking the person that’s following you a little too close on the busy holiday roads. I’m talking about ignoring an invite to a get-together, that frankly, you never wanted to go to anyway. I’m talking about going to a holiday celebration and purchasing a pie from the store instead of staying up all night and fussing over a decadent dessert. I’m talking about not contributing gift money for your lazy boss’s Christmas present. (Honestly, did he really earn a nice gift this year?)

As I give these ideas to my clients, evil grinch smiles spread across their faces that adorn a new flame in their eyes. The thought of, “Huh, maybe I could handle that,” crosses their forehead.

Don’t worry. There is a reason for my brake checking madness. The purpose behind this exercise is to put my clients back in charge of their life. You always have the choice to do whatever it is that you want in life. You choose to kill yourself the night before a holiday celebration, making that perfect dessert. You choose to attend a get-together that you don’t want to go to. You choose to contribute your hard-earned money to a gift for someone who doesn’t really deserve it.

Despite what you’ve heard and told yourself over the years, this life is about fulfilling your wants and desires. This life is about deciding what your values and mission are and living it with integrity. This life is all about pleasing yourself. It is not about pleasing others. It is actually your responsibility to create a life that you love for yourself.

Do you have the disease to please? Is the disease to please serving you and your health? What does being bad mean to you? Does being “bad” mean brake checking, ignoring holiday invites, or omitting your boss from your gift list? Or is it sleeping in, having an extra piece of pie, or curling up on the couch to relax and watch a movie?

While my sweet clients struggle to find ways to be bad, they usually are so thankful that for once in their life, someone finally told them it’s actually healthy for them, to be BAD!!

How can you implement a little of “bad” into your life this holiday season?

Blue Boxer Arts: Knit Away Holiday Stress

When Jamie Kyser and Erin Klaus, business partners and friends, moved Tangled Up In Hue from 416 Barstow (the current Blue Boxer Arts location) to 505 Barstow, they had an empty store space that was still under a lease. While considering their options, it occurred to Kyser that she and Klaus had always talked about opening a bead store in Eau Claire. Ever since the one on Water Street closed, they had felt that Eau Claire needed one. And in addition, Yellow Dog Knitting used to be located a couple of doors down, and when that closed, lots of people came into Tangled Up in Hue’s former location asking what happened to the yarn shop, so they knew there was a market for it. And if that wasn’t enough, they had an immense amount of beads from jewelry making, so it seemed like an opportunity to give the idea a shot. So, they opened a bead and yarn shop—Blue Boxer Arts!

 

Blue Boxer Arts follows the same format as Tangled in that they support and offer local products. They have a whole section of the store devoted to local fibers, hand-spun and dyed yarn from local farms where the sheep are raised and sheered, and the wool is processed and spun into yarn. They also have roving, locks, and loose fibers. (Roving is a long narrow bundle of fiber that is mainly used for spinning fibers into yarn. It’s been processed and dyed or can be natural colored.  It can also be used in weaving or needle felting. Locks are actual hair locks from, say, an angora goat or llama, and loose fibers are just that—they have been processed from the animal and can be found in a bag or ball.) In addition, the store carries Plymouth-brand yarns and various others, and they currently offer a large selection of “natural” beads: wood, clay, porcelain, bone, nut, etc., but are expanding to also incorporate stone, glass, crystal, pearl, and more. The store also operates as a collective, meaning they have items on consignment as well.

 

A wide range of classes are available, about two a week. All of them are currently focused on the fiber and jewelry arts, as that is the type of product currently offered in the store. All classes can be found on the website (http://blueboxerarts.com/events.html) or the Facebook page, which has the most up-to-date info. The instructors range from store staff to outside experts and hobbyists, but anyone can come in and apply to teach a class here. If someone has a special skill they would like to share in a class, email blueboxerarts@gmail.com for more info.

 

With the holidays coming up, we all tend to brace ourselves for the accompanying stresses. Knitting or crocheting, however, can be a stress-relieving activity. Kyser believes all forms of creativity can be calming experiences: “I personally crochet (I have knit but am not an avid knitter) and participate in many forms of fiber arts and other crafty avenues. Each of these activities helps to sooth my soul and bring me balance and peace. It’s a way for many to reset from the day or take out frustrations. It makes me feel fulfilled and whole.” If you’re new to knitting and crocheting, don’t fret! As a beginner, and as with learning any new skill, knitting/crocheting can be a chore and may even be frustrating at first. But once the basics are learned and the rhythm is found, the fun starts, and it becomes a new way to cope with stress.

 

According to Kyser, knitting and crocheting can be more than just stress relieving: “I believe, too, that knitting/crocheting can lead to a meditative state. In meditation, the goal is to clear your head of all thoughts and brain chatter. In the act of knitting, and the repetitive nature of it, it can certainly lead to this. In some cases, when following a pattern for instance, you need to count your stitches, switch colors, or change stitches (knit, pearl, etc), and this can require more concentration and thought, and it can also be good to concentrate on something other than work and other stresses of life.”

 

She advises: “The concentration involved with these art forms as well as just keeping your hands busy and the satisfaction of completing a project can all be so good for the soul and help with stress during the holidays and year-round. This time of year it can help you check the gift-giving portion of stress off your list, knowing that you are making something for someone that took time and love and effort.”

 

The benefit of shopping locally is important to both Kyser and Klaus. Kyser notes: “With each step, knitting and crocheting with our products can give you the satisfaction and joy of shopping locally, which is so important in our current climate. The community thrives when local businesses do well.  Because we offer products and services that are locally made/produced, a portion of the money spent in our store goes back into the community, which fuels the local economy, and it’s a win-win for everyone.”

WIC Helps Keep Families Healthy

By Susan Krahn, MS, RDN, CD, CLC – Public Health Nutritionist, Eau Claire City-County Health Department

What does healthy eating mean to you? To the WIC Program, healthy eating means healthier moms and babies, happier families, and brighter futures. The Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program is a public health nutrition program that provides wholesome foods, nutrition and breastfeeding education, and community support for low- and moderate-income women and children up to the age of five years.

There are more women in our community who benefit from WIC than you may think. In fact, over half of the babies born in the United States use the WIC program. WIC is the nation’s most successful and cost-effective public health nutrition program. Nationally, we know that when eligible families use WIC:

  • Moms are less likely to have premature or low birth-weight babies;
  • Moms are more likely to start breastfeeding after delivery;
  • Infants and children are twice as likely to see doctors for well-child care;
  • Moms, children, and infants are less likely to have anemia.

If you think your family may be eligible, contact your local WIC office. A visit to WIC means you will walk away with an EBT card to buy more healthy food for your family. But, did you know that WIC means much more than food? At a WIC appointment, parents are connected with people who truly care about the health and well-being of their children. Parents walk away with the feeling of support, connections to healthcare resources, and inspiration to make healthy changes in their home.

WIC gives you healthy food and teaches you how to use it. Good nutrition during pregnancy and in the first few years of life has long-term positive impacts on health. WIC teaches you about the benefits of breastfeeding and guides you through the process. WIC gives you free healthy food and teaches you how to shop for it, how to prepare it, and ways to help your child enjoy eating it.

We provide a community of support. At WIC you’ll find dietitians, a breastfeeding peer counselor, and others ready to listen, share information, and give guidance and support. WIC is a network built for moms. We connect them, we educate them, and we learn from them.

We connect you to care beyond WIC. Food and nutrition are only one piece of a healthy lifestyle. Through referrals we can connect you with resources outside of WIC, including public health nurses, doctors, dental services, immunization services, and social services. Referrals put you in touch with the care or resources you need to be healthy in every part of your life.

For more information, go to www.ci.eau-claire.wi.us/departments/health-department/wic/how-where-to-use-wic, visit the program office at 720 2nd Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54703, or call (715) 839-5051.