Lauren’s Nanny Diaries: Part 1

Finding it odd that the title of this post is about nannying and not something food related? Maybe you aren’t. Maybe it is totally in-character for me to be a nanny! If so, awesome, because that is what I am currently doing most of my days; playing with, reading to, and feeding kiddos. But let me back track a little, I didn’t just jump into the nanny life one day.

More like the nanny life pulled me in! Back in August I moved to the Seattle metro area to be close to the graduate school(s) I planned to attend. While I was hoping to be going to school this fall, Life had other plans for me. I began to nanny full-time a few weeks ago and so far it is a life that I think I enjoy way too much!

img_0481

 

Yeah, some days the kids have 10 times more energy than I do and I have to find some way to level with them. Other days, children are grumpy and siblings argue. But most days I get to work play with sweet, fun-loving children. And the children are definitely the boss’ in my line of work – if they don’t like me it doesn’t matter if the parents find me to be great.

With that in mind I started this job with some nerves about whether the children would like me and since then I have learned a few things. First off, children just want your attention. Some children want your attention more than others. But if you are able and are willing to give undivided and engaged attention to the children, they will likely love you. If you act like a complete fool with them – racing them, having dance parties, making  silly noises, and talk in dramatic voices while reading – they will also love you. But most of all, children like to be heard.

One of my families is going through something pretty tough at the moment. One of the children in the family said to me the other day that they sometimes do not feel like they have someone to talk to. Of course this isn’t because they aren’t cared for – the family loves all their children unimaginably and I see that every day! – but because life can be so busy. While I only get a couple hours with this child 5 days a week, it reminds me just how important that undivided and engaged attention is for the kids. Children needs an outlet for someone to not only be creative with but also to feel safe talking about things that may be heavy on their heart and mind.

And these are things that are heavy on my heart and mind too. As a nanny I have become attached to these kids. I will spend off-the-clock time looking for toys, music, and coloring pages for “my” kiddos. I ask for favors from friends because I know it will bring a little joy to the children. I pray for them and future of the world we live in and they are growing up in.

img_0736
Baby Yogini

So yeah, I definitely cannot say I actively sought out this work as much as it found me. I definitely did my part to get the jobs I have but I truly did a very small part of it. I am here because this is where I am supposed to be and I am very happy with that! My kiddos make the days fun and usually quite…interesting.

I do believe that I write these posts more for my own outlet than to keep the interest of others, but in case I am writing for your interest and you are only interested in hearing about food and nutrition, don’t worry, I will be writing more about that! It just happens that this is also a huge part of my life right now so I will be sharing the adventures of my nanny life along the way.

~Lauren

Memory writing: Mt. Rainier Trip

A memory from June 25th 2016

The mountains were waiting. They were howling our names. And we were howling back. The wind ripped through our hair as we drove with the windows down, breathing in the fresh, elevated air. There was nothing more pure.

Our excitement could not be contained. After figuring out all the logistics of campsite and getting firewood for the night, we allowed ourselves to relax. Setting up hammocks in the trees, making the tent, eating lunch. We marked our territory, making sure others knew we were there to stay. Trying to find a comfortable spot in the heat of the sun took some work. Trying to motivate ourselves to get in the car to go hike took even more work. But we did it. And thank God we did.

Arriving at the trailhead, there was a mass of people. Visitors from around the world, in this beautiful wonderland to explore and to see the beauty that Mt. Rainier had in store. The clouds covered her majestic peak. I felt bad for the visitors who traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles to see this mountain and yet it was being shy.

And so we started up our hike. I was anxious because I know my friend Shaelie who planned the trip likes challenging hikes. But I knew I was up for it because I had a wonderful set of people there to support and encourage me. Thankfully, the snow kept us at a nice pace. Yeah, there was snow in June on the mountain. It was pretty unreal. What Christina and I like to call “supreme reality.” I felt like the end of our hike was not near and was gonna be a bit of a treck, and it was. But isn’t it about the journey and not the destination?

That is an overused cliché that definitely was true for this hike. As we moved up the mountain we found ourselves stopping to take photos of marmots, the mountain ridge in the distance, and to get a nice acroyoga photo. (Sorry, we couldn’t resist!). And the laughs and smiles along the way! Oh my, we were so enthused to be in tank-tops while hiking up a snowy mountain.

13524323_10207182620023374_3006401837020111195_n

And guess what, Mt. Rainier warmed up to us and decided to say hello. The clouds cleared away as we hiked up and we were able to witness the beautiful glaciers covering her peak. We even had a few heart-pounding moments of hearing glaciers moving on an unseen part of the mountain. We were all quite thankful that we were not in the way of that snow mass.

After a short break for post-lunch snacks, we traveled up to what we made our final viewpoint. In the distance we could make out Mt. Adams and if it had been clearer we would have seen Mt. St. Helens as well. As beautiful as those mountains are, they also hold some very dark stories.

One of them being the tragic story of a friend. Blair, who was hiking up with us that day, was using the mountain range interpretive site to understand what she was looking at. On the photo it mentioned the mountains that she lost a friend to only a month or so prior. To come face to face with the rocks that took her friend… it opened up so much emotion and was completely unexpected. We gave her some space, not yet knowing what was going on, but then upon consoling her realized why she was off to the side. I cannot begin to understand the heart brokenness that she has had to experience with losing this friend. I can only imagine how raw her emotions were in that moment when she was already experiencing an open heart for everything else that had happened during the day.

But Blair bounces back like a champion. She understands how precious life is and finds any opportunity she can to enjoy it to the fullest. And so began the mountain top dance party. We threw on a little music, probably looked like a crazy, rambunctious group, and shaked our booties. We didn’t care what others thought. I admit, we were “that group”. We were being silly, reckless, and just on this emotional and physical high. It was… unreal. It was supreme reality.

13510837_10207182876749792_2531535221033264377_n

We didn’t let the party stop there though. We kept the music going all the way down the mountain, letting it be the soundtrack to our Hollywood-like life. We slid down the hills like penguins, ran and leapt in the snow without care, and shared more laughs and smiles. It is a blessing that everything during out hike worked out quite perfectly, without any injury as carefree as we were being.

13521982_10207182619423359_5276857361687336192_n

A favorite quote comes to my mind.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. God Himself is not secure, having given man dominion over His works! Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold. Faith alone defends. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable. – Helen Keller

I could not have said it better. As I start to pack up my things to move onto the next daring adventure, I find myself realizing how much I hold onto unnecessary items. I would not call myself a hoarder, but I definitely fill up my life with too much “stuff”. What does this have to do with adventure? It tells me that I am afraid. I am afraid to let go of things, people, and to move forward. I cannot let it debilitate me into anxiety and nervousness to what may lie ahead, but the best is truly yet to come. And I have to keep telling myself that. I have to run down mountains without regard for whether I will stumble and fall, and if I do, then I can always slide down, whooping and yelling along the way. I can smile and laugh at my mistakes and I can learn to recognize how precious each moment is. I can be more present with my friends. I can choose either to live a life of fear or a life of adventure.

13557724_10207182592102676_1037032861413931427_n

~Lauren

My Path is Perfect

“It’s normal to worry about the future, but probably the best antidote is to learn to shift your focus to what’s right in front of you, right now.

Are you doing some work? Focus on the physical act of doing that. Are you eating? What are the physical sensations of the food like. Are you riding a train? How does your butt feel on the seat, your feet feel on the ground? What are the sounds like? What can you see around you?

This might seem like trite advice, but what happens is that you learn to turn from your anxiety about the future to noticing what’s around you in the present moment. And you realize that while the unknown future might seem scary, the present moment is just fine.

You’ll find, from one moment to the next, that each moment is fine. You’ll start to develop a trust in the present moment. And that’s the antidote to fears about the future: learning to trust that you’ll be OK, because as each moment passes, you keep being OK.”

http://zenhabits.net/scary-20s/


 

I, Lauren , am always in the right place, at the right time, doing the right thing.

-affirmation #18 from a friend’s yoga teaching manual


 

These are just a few reminders I have had recently that I am going along the path that I was intended to be traveling on. Each choice I make is not made out of context of all the previous choices I made, nor without repercussion and having an affect on my future choices.

We can spend so much of our time worrying and stressing about whether we are making the “right” decision. Saying the “what if’s” and trying to predetermine how everything will work out.

But truly, none of that is up to us. We could make the smartest, most logical, sound decision, and it can end up with an infinite number of results. We can also make the most reckless decisions with an infinite number of results. This post is not to say that it doesn’t matter what decisions we make and to “throw caution to the wind”, but to recognize that I only have so much control over each situation. And to be okay with that. To even embrace it.

First is people, second is food

I am currently taking a writing break to write some more.

I am weird, I know this.

I am in the process of applying for graduate schools. I feel like I have been in this process for the past 4 years. Countless hours of my life have been spent on researching programs, spending time studying to fulfill prerequisite requirements, taking the GRE, ordering and entering transcripts, requesting letters of recommendation – and still I am running this marathon up until the very last minute. Mostly because I sit down and take long naps during my marathons.

Today has been the process of writing one of my personal statement essays. In writing this I have come down to the simple idea of how I approach my career goals, relationships, and just life in general. It goes like this:

FIRST: People
SECOND: Food

Simple, yeah?

I love food. I am passionate about cooking it, eating it, sharing my knowledge about it, and learning as much as I can! However, food has absolutely no meaning if there isn’t the people to share my food with, share my knowledge with, and to learn from.

And this is why people come first. Why would I be given all these opportunities to learn and to share unless it was to benefit others? I mean this truly and honestly.

I believe that the reason why I clash so much with my elders when it comes to my career aspirations is because of this perspective. Many of them would probably say, “FIRST: Security, SECOND: ‘insert passion'”. And I do not say this to be derogatory or to make anyone sound selfish. It is simply their experiences versus mine. They have experienced more of life and have come to the conclusion that in order to feel satisfied at the end of a days work they want to know they will have the security of a home, food, and even some comforts. And yes, of course I want those things as well, but that is not where my satisfaction lies. Instead I find satisfaction in knowing that I have helped someone, somehow. I find satisfaction in knowing that I am creating a world that is more comfortable and gratifying to other men, women, and children.

And these can be very simple acts. A workplace where you exchange hugs instead of handshakes; an evening with your coworkers cooking a meal  that would make most people jealous; the pure joy that comes from having a child eat carrot after carrot simply because you offer it.

These are the little things that make me feel satisfied at the end of the day. And notice, each of these involve people first, and food second. That is just how things work for me – and to me it is enough.

What are Nutrients and why do I need them?

So this post is a bit of a cheat – but not! I have been blogging recently (I promise!) but on a different site. I have been writing for the Clark County Food Bank (CCFB) blog, where I work as an AmeriCorps Nutrition Educator. I am so happy I get to incorporate blogging into my job, but I also have not been paying attention to this blog so much.

I think part of that has to do with the tone of my posts on here. Honestly, to me it is quite bland! I need to spice it up a bit! I started this blog to share with other nutrition minded individuals who are or want to be dietitians. But now, I am seeing that I have a lot more to share with the world! So this blog may become less  about only dietetic related activities and more about my journey of life in general. I am slowly learning that while figuring out my career is very important, there are so many other experiences I am having that are shaping me as a person. I know y’all don’t wanna miss out on those too! 😉

This post is part of a series that I just started for the Clark County Food Bank. I will be writing about the basics of nutrition. This is information we share with individuals who attend our cooking classes. After you read this blog post feel free to follow the link at the end to the CCFB wordpress blog to learn more about the classes and other programs we offer! It is pretty amazing.


 

This week is all about nutrients. Fundamentally, nutrition is a combination of chemistry and biology. With that in mind, nutrition can get pretty complex! No worries though; I won’t be teaching you about the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (although I found this cool website that will!). Instead, lets ask and answer the questions of:

  1. What are nutrients?
  2. Why do I need them?

What are nutrients?

Nutrients can be defined as “the substances in food that provides structural or functional components or energy to the body” (University of Utah). To take this concept a step further, we define what an essential nutrient is: a substance that must be obtained from the diet because the body cannot make it in sufficient quantity to meet its needs.

This definition talks about our diet. This use of the word diet refers to the foods that we ingest on a daily basis. There are five categories of nutrients that are considered essential to our body. A basic description is given for each nutrient along with quality food choices, which are better choices because they give our bodies what they need to be healthy.

  1. Carbohydrates: simple (sugars) and complex (starches and fiber). Quality carbohydrate foods include: minimally processed grains such as oats, whole grain breads and pasta, no sugar added dairy, fruits, and vegetables
  2. Protein: the building blocks of proteins are called amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that we must receive from foods. Quality protein sources are: low-fat animal products, such as eggs, fish, skinless poultry, non-fat cheeses and yogurts (especially Greek yogurt); non-animal protein includes beans, nuts, lentils, quinoa, seeds, dark leafy greens, and many other vegetables!
  3. Fat: the fat our bodies need is called unsaturated fat, especially a class of fats called the omega-3 fatty acids, which we must receive from our diet. Quality dietary fat is received by oils from vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, peanuts, and avocados.
  4. Vitamins and minerals: The vitamins our body needs are separated into two groups: Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; and water soluble vitamins C and vitamin B group. The minerals our body needs are also separated into two groups: macrominerals – calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, and sulfur; and trace minerals – iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride, and selenium.We receive many of our vitamins from a diet that has a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables as well as quality protein, grain, and diary sources.
  5. Water: the majority of our bodies is water, so it is definitely essential! Drinking water throughout the day and with meals will ensure that you stay hydrated. We also receive water from our food! Aim to drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day. (Example: a 150 lb person should drink at least 75 ounces of water).

Now, to answer the even more important question of….

Why do I need nutrients?

We already established that these five categories of nutrients are essential to meet our body’s needs. Now to understand how each nutrient plays a critical role in healthy body function.

  1. Carbohydrates: the primary source of fuel for our bodies. They give us energy to complete our tasks and our brain energy to think and create! Quality carbohydrates give us lasting energy and help us stay full after eating.
  2. Protein: builds muscles and  organs; also repairs and replaces body tissue as we  grow and develop. Remember the amino acid building blocks I talked about? They are broken down from dietary proteins and are rebuilt into body tissues! How cool. Getting low-fat protein ensures we receive those amino acids without getting too many calories that our body cannot use.
  3. Fat: reserve of energy; keeps bones and joints well oiled; protects our organs like a cushion; helps in absorption of some vitamins. See, fat is very important! But fat does carry 2x the calories per gram than proteins or carbohydrates, which is why we need to get the most quality fats we can! Unsaturated (good) fat also helps to lower “bad” cholesterol. Whereas saturated (bad) fat actually raises “bad” cholesterol and can lead to heart disease!
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: support bone health (Calcium and Vitamin D); prevent birth defects (Folic Acid); helps carry oxygen to the whole body by red blood cells (Iron); and so much more!! Each vitamin and mineral plays a very special function. Deficiency in any of them can have serious health effects, especially during prenatal and childhood development.
  5. Water: I already mentioned that it is the major component of our body. Water also helps carry nutrients to all parts of the body. So after our body has digested the carbohydrates, proteins, fat, vitamins, and minerals from food, water is there to take the nutrients to where they need to go in order to do their job!

That is a lot of information for one post! We made a little infrographic to help you visual learners. Feel free to save and share.

Essential Nutrients graphic

Nutrition information can get very confusing and complicated, but when it comes down to it we can always come back to the basics of nutrients to determine which foods we need to include in our diet to be healthy and happy.

In our next post we will cover a short anatomy and physiology lesson of how our food is digested! This will help us tie together how important it is we receive quality sources of food.

To learn more about the Nutrition Education program at the Clark County Food Bank go here: https://clarkcountyfoodbankblog.wordpress.com/
*This blog post was originally published by myself, Lauren Cameron, on the Clark County Food Bank wordpress blog.

Resources
University of Utah, 2000. NetBiochem Nutrition.  http://library.med.utah.edu/NetBiochem/nutrition/lect1/2_1.html

Eating REAL Food

So I have been pretty disappointed in myself lately.

I have been working 40 hour weeks, going to school part-time, and even getting regular exercise into my routine! So why am I disappointed? Because with everything I have going on I am only getting to actually cook a few times a week!

InstagramCapture_1c79fe67-c841-4a4c-b02d-2de587d3487b
Gnocchi with Alfredo sauce, beets, spinach, and brussels sprouts. (I am so obsessed with brussels sprouts and beets right now!!)

Cooking for only one person is pretty difficult! If I go to the market to get fresh produce I either have to be very mindful to pack my lunches or I have to process all the produce on the weekend into a soup, lasagna, or some other freezable, eat-later dish. Currently I have a lot of (delicious) Carrot Curry Soup and Butternut Squash Lasagna sitting in my freezer. Unfortunately too much produce also goes into the compost bin because I neglect to eat it soon enough!

So you might be wondering, what am I eating if I am not cooking? Well, when I say that I only cook a few times a week, I mean at home. I cook at my job for a class or other activity usually 2 or 3 days a week. Plus, there is almost always leftover food from classes sitting in the refrigerator needing to be ate. So, where I waste at home I make up for it my making sure the leftovers at work don’t go to waste? Right? Right…?

I also eat a lot of snacks. I often times find myself not even that hungry for a meal but simply what a piece of fruit and some nuts and I am good to go.

I know how bad this is for me. What my body truly needs though is to slow down. Even when I was a full-time student I made sure I had time to sit down and eat a meal. Now, it is so easy to sit behind my computer screen (like I am right now!) to eat a bowl of food while I read emails or do research.

So, my goal as we move into a busy time of the year with the holidays and wrapping up our classes and other activities is to try and slow down my daily pace enough to get away from my computer as I eat or to actually take a few minutes to create a meal, even if it is very minimal.

InstagramCapture_8bf3989e-0002-41e2-a306-bc5f7bd446bc

When we do not take the time to do this we often times find ourselves getting away from whole foods (foods that are found in their whole form, minimally processed), and tend to eat foods that are quick and convenient – granola bars, microwaveable foods, cereal instead of oatmeal. While these choices are okay every now and again we should try to avoid making them habits. Plus, our digestive system will be happy to have a regular schedule for eating and we are less likely to overeat if we are not distracted while eating!!

Like most things that are good for us, it is easier said that done! But I am going to give it a try!

~Lauren

10_29_2015 1_10_17 PM
My super cute office pals on Halloween! I love my coworkers at the Clark County Food Bank!

Sometimes the distance does seem too far

WP_20151004_16_42_04_Pro

Mount St. Helens forest – Lava Canyon Hike on Oct. 4, 2015

So far, my job and life in Washington have been quite surreal. My job is busy enough to keep me grounded, yet it is truly a dream come true to be working as a Nutrition Educator at the food bank. In my last post I reflected on my worries of whether my coworkers would like me and accept me for who I am. Since then, I have had a full month of working with them and I can say that we have jelled quite nicely. Each of us have our unique backgrounds, experiences, and interests, which I have found, makes for interesting conversations and experiences.

Before coming to Washington, I thought I was a physically active person. However, since being here I can say now that I am an active person. (Well, maybe I couldn’t say so before because I always let school take priority over activity…) I love that I am surrounded with places and people to hike with and be outside. Since being in Washington I have hiked in the Columbia Gorge, Olympic National Park, Mt. Rainier, along the Oregon coast, and at Mount St. Helens. Almost every weekend me and the girls (the girls I work with that is) plan a trip to somewhere nearby to be outside. It has been the most perfect weather to not enjoy everything that the mountains have to offer! I am so appreciative of the people I have been hiking with and the great expertise they bring along the trails!

InstagramCapture_9ac44e43-7218-47b0-a133-355b0240d319 InstagramCapture_8110dcca-6d40-4761-82c6-1a83bfd6a96a

Left: Olympic National Park nature trail; Right: Gifford Pinchot National Forest

While I have not been writing a lot on the blog, I have been writing some in a “Journey Journal” of my hikes and other adventures in the Pacific Northwest. I also have been trying to do Bible Studies and reflection through journaling. While my personal Bible study has not been the most consistent, I have definitely felt my relationship with God strengthen since I have been here. It is impossible for me to not marvel in God’s glory when I see a canyon full of waterfalls that was carved from lava or the endless Pacific Ocean from atop a hill. It blows my mind how each small detail of this world was thought out by God and then created! While we strive to understand how everything in this world works, we will never get close to how much God understands it all.

I have also been praying for my relationships. Being on the opposite side of the country or the world is tough on relationships. It seems that my lack of being good at staying in contact with friends and family in normal situations also translates to when I am even further apart. While life currently is quite busy with trying to learn to balance my work, (a little bit of) school, and personal time, I hope that soon the “personal time” involves me doing a better job of staying in touch with my close friends and family.

Honestly, moving out to Washington was a no brainer for me. While I did give my job serious consideration when I was offered it, it felt completely natural and right for me to accept and to be away from everyone and everything I knew. Since being here I have found a little family with my coworkers, especially the other AmeriCorps Nutrition Educators. Soon, I hope to find another little family within a church. As the year progresses I am sure I will meet more people who I will be able to call my friends (and then later be really bad at staying in touch with, as per usual).

Soon (hopefully) I will write another post which will describe in more detail about what my job is and what I am doing (and why I love it so much!). In the meantime, if you are interested you can go check out the couple blog posts that I have wrote on our blog for the food bank which introduces my coworkers and I and why we look forward to serving for a year at the Clark County Food Bank!

https://clarkcountyfoodbankblog.wordpress.com/

~Lauren

WP_20150920_19_36_20_Pro WP_20150920_19_36_54_Pro

WP_20150920_19_37_16_Pro WP_20150920_19_37_34_Pro

The lovely ladies I get to work with on the Nutrition Education team. Clockwise from top left: Shaelie H., Christina, Shaili P., and Blair.