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Acupressure for Moms

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

Hey everyone! I'm so excited to introduce to you Jessica Gustafon. She is a licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, MN and is here to share some amazing acupressure tips with us today.

Being a mom is hard.

Between work, housework, taking care of the kids and a never-ending to-do list, adding on more tasks to take care of ourselves sounds impossible. There’s nothing like reading an article about the importance of self-care when we haven’t had a shower in three days, we’re drinking cold coffee and wondering when we might, maybe, have some time for a yoga pose or two.

I see this in my patients a lot and I know that as much as I want my mamas to set aside 20-30 minutes for themselves each day, that’s an incredibly tall order.

So instead I work with them to put together a plan that can be done in little bits throughout the day. A big part of that plan is always acupressure. Acupressure is a technique that can be done in 30 to 60 seconds at a time. Applying pressure to strategic points to help manage our reactions to stress, release muscle tension and boost our energy throughout the day can go a long way.

Here are five “emergency” mom points:

Yin Tang

Yin Tang is a point found midway between the inner ends of each of your eyebrows. We hold a lot of tension and emotion here. Think of all the times you’ve scrunched up your face in annoyance or pain and pulled your eyebrows together. Our body remembers this and even after the emotion is gone, if the tension remains our body our subconscious will never completely let go of the emotion.

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

To work this point, rest your finger tip on it for 30 to 60 seconds. You don’t have to press hard – there isn’t much tissue here, so too much pressure will be uncomfortable.

This is also an excellent point for headaches that occur in the forehead, sinus issues, anxiety, stress and insomnia.

Kidney 1 (Gushing Spring)

In general, points in the Traditional Chinese Medical system are found on a channel, or a predictable line of muscles, fascia, nerves and vessels along your body. Since multiple points can be found on these channels, they are differentiated by numbers. In this case, Gushing Spring or Kidney 1, is the first point on the Kidney channel.

Kidney, in this context, has little to do with your physical kidney, and more to do with your foundational energy. This point is a great point to help boost or tonify that energy.

Kidney 1 is found in the divot on the bottom of your foot, behind the joints of your toes that make up the ball of your foot. It’s in the center, along the line the ball of your foot creates.

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

This is an excellent point the help ground you. If you’re finding yourself up in your head too much take a few moments to sit, holding this point and doing some deep breathing. Taking a few moments to center yourself like this daily can also give you the time to organize your thoughts. Little moments add up.

Kidney 27 (Shu Mansion)

Kidney 27 can be a little difficult to find. Find your collarbone. Follow it inwards towards your midline where it meets your chest bone, called your ‘sternum’. From your sternum find your first rib. Kidney 27 is in the soft spot between the collarbone, the sternum and your first rib.

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

To use this point, use your thumb and forefinger to press it on both sides at the same time for 30 to 60 seconds. This is a great technique to help with anger and anxiety in the moment. This point is also excellent for nausea and may help with painful menstrual cramps.

Spleen 6 (Three Yin Intersection) and Stomach 36 (Three Leg Miles)

These points used together can help your overall energy. Stomach 36 boosts your energy and can help your digestion and Spleen 6 boosts the nutritive and denser side of your energy, referred to as blood. Tonifying qi and blood in Chinese Medicine can help your mood, productivity and overall attitude.

Stomach 36 is found one hand’s width below your knee on the outside of your leg, about one finger’s width from your shin bone.

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

Spleen 6 is found one hand’s width above your inner ankle, behind your shin bone.

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota

These are both excellent points used for a wide range of conditions. However, a caution:

Do not use Spleen 6 if you are pregnant.

Pregnancy is an accumulation of qi and blood in your uterus that is in the process of becoming a person. Spleen 6 strongly moves blood and when used during pregnancy can causing cramping or early labor.

I like to recommend moms experiment with each of these points to find the combinations that work for them. For me, Kidney 27 is the point I have the closest relationship with. For you, it may be Yin Tang.

Find little moments in your day to take a breath and do some acupressure. Learning to prioritize ourselves in little chunks is a great practice that can lead to bigger and more substantive self-care practices down the line.

Keep calm and keep mommin’ on.

About Jessica Gustafon -

St. Paul Minnesota licensed acupuncturist acupressure post natal healing healthJessica Gustafson is a licensed acupuncturist in St Paul, MN specializing in women's health and fertility. She loves working with patients through the Health Foundations Birth Center on Grand Avenue in St Paul as well as doing home visits in the Twin Cities area. Check out the community acupuncture page for more information!

Tired mom more energy stressed anxiety licensed acupuncturist in St. Paul, Minnesota
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Shannon Walter

Exercising after Illness & Asthma

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

You know exercise is great for the body, but getting back at it after being sick or a bad asthma flare up isn't easy. You've spent a week (or weeks) under the weather just trying to survive daily tasks; your body is drained- physically and emotionally. During that down time, your fitness slowly decays. Muscles weaken and cardiovascular strength diminishes. If you've been sick long enough, you might even find your breathing heavy just by walking up the stairs.

Getting Sick Throws off Your Routine

It happened. After the main flu epidemic passed and I thought I was in the clear, I got sick. I'm not talking about a stuffy nose and minor headache. I mean really sick. I had the flu. Gasp! Before getting sick, I had a great workout routine going. Getting up before the kids, reading, getting a little work done, and exercising.

Just when I thought I was getting better, asthma decided to show its ugly face. The wheezing and late night coughing spells really take their toll. Almost two weeks later and armed with a brand new inhaler, I was finally feeling better. Not good, but better. I was ready to get back to my normal routine, but my body wasn't.

Start Slow: Build up Your Strength

When you've been down for an extended period of time, you need to ease your way back into exercising. Don't expect to jump in where you left off. Maybe as a teenager that was possible, but we're getting older and our bodies just don't rebound the way they used to. It takes time and patience.

The best way to work your way up is to focus on building strength. Your lungs and heart need more time to heal than muscles do. By focusing on strength training, you'll still be exercising and giving your lungs the time they need to recoup.

Good Old Fashion Iron Pumping

Lifting weights is the classic way to build strength and tone muscle. If you have access to a local gym full of fancy equipment than go ahead and get started. Take a 5-10 minute power walk on the treadmill, stretch, and start lifting.

For the rest of us, exercising sans gym is the only option. Big, shiny machines are nice but not required to get a good workout. Stronger muscles can be obtained with just a few pieces of equipment or none at all.

Kettle bells, resistance bands, and dumbbells are easy to keep at home. They are small enough to fit in the closet between uses, and my Littles have even been known to "exercise" with the smaller ones. Resistance bands and dumbbells are interchangeable for most exercises. If you're looking for the most versatile and compact equipment, I highly suggest resistance bands. Maverick and I have used these for years.

Not into equipment? No worries. Bodyweight exercises are just as effective.

Darebee: Ultimate Home Workout Resource 

I have used workouts from Darebee off and on the past few years. They're simple yet effective, and there is a routine for everyone. Maverick enjoys their katana exercises. (He is a black belt in karate.) Here are a few of my favorites:


The circuits in this routine are great for full body toning. The progression from legs to arms to core builds strength and burns fat.

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

Dirty 30

You can't get much simpler than the Dirty 30. My legs and chest were sore after this one. If you can't do 30 push-ups at once you can break them into chunks of 10. Modified push-ups are another option.

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

Code of Abs

Ready to work on your bikini belly? This routine really works your abs. I like the variety of moves in it.

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

Fit Mom

Of course I had to throw this one into the mix. Moms rarely get to do ANYTHING alone. Even exercise. Next time your little one insists on being apart of your work out you can use these exercises.

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

Actual picture of me doing code of abs. These workouts are tough if you put in the effort. I'm just an everyday mom working to improve my health and my family's. You probably won't find me on the cover of fitness magazine 😜

fitness exercise workout with asthma Darebee

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Shannon Walter

Raising Boys by Design | Life Lessons & Book Review

How to raise a man. Raising Boys by Design by Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian

Little boys are made of snails and puppy dog tails, but girls are made of sugar spice and everything nice. Really? While all little kids have the ability to be sweet and adorable, there are some huge differences between how boys and girls learn and behave. Little Man and Little Miss are teaching me just how different the two can be.

The most astonishing difference is the amount of talking they do. Little Man isn't really a talker. He is a doer. He is CONSTANTLY doing. One minute he is playing with LEGOs; the next he's climbing on the couch and "flying".

On the other hand is Little miss. She's talkative and not as active. She's content to sit in one spot and tell you all the things her baby doll is doing. (Even if that means saying "shh, baby sleeping" over and over.)

Are boys always so different from girls? No, there are exceptions. Reading Raising Boys by Design has helped me understand the different thinking processes of boys (and men).

Boy & Girl Brains are Wired Different.

In Raising Boys by Design, Dr. Gregory Jantz explains just how different our brains function. Girls use mostly white matter parts of their brain, which allows them to make quick connections from one thought to a seemingly unrelated one. (We call these random connections "squirrels".) 

As moms, you probably know exactly what I'm talking about. If not, here's an example: while discussing what seeds we are going to start for our garden this year, I turn to Maverick and tell him about an important event coming up. The two thoughts don't appear to be related, but in my mind, there's a connection.

In men and boys, their brains function mostly in the grey matter areas. What this means is that they tend to do and think about one subject at a time. There's little bouncing back and forth between random subjects. 

Boys Don't Multitask Well

I can see the difference in thinking process by observing Little Man and Little Miss play. Little Miss is happily playing with her dolls till she hears me say something about food. Her mind will quickly change from play time to eating time.

On the other hand, Little Man tends will delve deep into whatever activity he is doing. While he is playing, his concentration is focused so much on what he is doing that his surroundings seem to vanish. Dr. Jantz explains it this way,
Males tend to spend more brain time doing, feeling, thinking, working, and playing with neurotransmission concentrated in these specific (localized) parts of their brains. This can translate to a kind of tunnel vision when they are doing something. Once they are deeply engaged in a task or game, they may not demonstrate much sensitivity to other people or their surroundings. (pg. 21, Raising Boys by Design)
What Dr. Jantz means is your son isn't always ignoring you. When he is intently focused on completing a task, the parts of his brain that aren't being used take a break. They go to sleep. You may be calling him to come set the table, but his brain is still focused on that one task. It may take a few loud reminders to get his attention.

(P.s. This is NOT an excuse for intentionally ignoring Mom and Dad.)

Raising a H.E.R.O.

Most boys love to watch movies where the bad guy gets defeated by the good guy. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Emoji, and The LEGO Movie are just a few examples. Before you get all non-violent on me, let me explain what is going on.

In movies, the hero finds a cause. Batman's cause is to save Gothom City. That cause drives the hero to build his character and inner strength. Overcoming their own personal flaws, the hero is able to defeat the bad guys and save the day. 

Take for example David fighting Goliath. When David heard Goliath's cursing, he knew what needed done to save his people. King Saul offered him a mighty sword and strong armor, but those things didn't fit David. David had to overcome his flaws and face the terrible giant with his trusty sling. He won. The good guy triumphed. 

There's more to being a hero than just winning a fight, and I love how Dr. Jantz defines it. 
Honor: adhering to truth, values, compassion, and principles beyond self
Enterprise: working at important things, whether they seem small or large
Responsibility: carrying important people and things throughout life
Originality: being a dreamer, a thinker, an explorer in the world
(pg. 72, Raising Boys by Design)

This is such a great acronym. Boys have a natural desire to hero-ship. They strive to be and develop each and every one of these traits. It's our job as parents to help them push the boundaries of boyhood and instill the character of manhood.

I made a LEGO superman print of this acronym to hang in Little Man's room. You can get yours here →Be A Hero

How to raise a man. Raising Boys by Design by Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian

Protecting Boys Doesn't Harm Girls

There are people out in the world that don't understand this fact. No one group of people is better than another. That's it. It's a simple fact. That is the whole point of abolishing slavery, ending the holocaust, and establishing women's rights. To place one group above another is wrong. When God created mankind, He created Male and Female with equal rights. 

While having a discussion with an Exectutive in the Department of Justice, Michael Gurian asked why the government is spending millions on positive programs for girls but not boys. The answer the Executive gave stuck in his mind and pierced my heart. (Grab a tissue because this is heartbreaking.)
Well, from the government's point of view, we already budget for boys and men- in our prison budgets. 
What? You mean to tell us that our government sees no hope of a future in our sons? No potential for greatness because of gender? To be honest, I cried after reading this. I looked up at my Little Man and had the same thoughts many of you do. "My son is just as unique and special as my daughter."

The sad truth behind this society's warped thinking is that by hindering the development of boys they are also harming girls. People are the ones pitting men verses women. That's not what God intended. He made them equal and complimentary.

Raising a Gentleman Isn't Easy

Being a parent is tough. Not only are you responsible for the way you act, but now you are also responsible for teaching a small human how to act appropriately. When Little Man was born, I was so excited and very, VERY nervous. I had no idea what to do with a boy. Growing up it was just my parents, my sister, and me. That's it. No boys.

There is still a lot of work ahead for Maverick and I as we nurture our Littles, but I'm so thankful for Raising Boys by Design. It has helped me understand better exactly what boys need to thrive. 

If there are boys and young men in your life, I highly recommend picking up a copy of this book →Raising Boys by Design. It's a great companion and guide to teaching boys to grow into men. Don't forget to have a pen and journal handy. There is just so much packed into this book- you'll want somewhere to collect all your thoughts. Like these.

It takes a village to raise a child. Dr. Gregory L. Jantz really explains how import role models are to boys. His book challenges you to rise up to the challenge of bringing up a cute ball of energy and watching him bloom into a gentleman.

*I was given this book in exchange for an honest opinion.

How to raise a man. Raising Boys by Design by Gregory L. Jantz and Michael Gurian
Shank You Very Much

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Shannon Walter

Upcycled Easter Egg Planters

Recycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycle

Easter is almost upon us! Honey glazed hams, fresh asparagus, and deviled eggs are gracing tables across the country. Kids are excitedly listening to the Easter Story and anxiously waiting to run outside and search for egg-tastic treasures. After they've found all the colorful plastic eggs you've hidden throughout the yard, you're left with a pile of empty plastic egg shells. What to do?

Save, Recycle, or Trash leftover Plastic Eggs

Well, you could clean them up and save them for next year, but who has storage space for cheap, plastic eggs? Not me. Can't you just put them in your recycling bin? After all, recycling is good for the environment.

Plastic Easter Eggs Are Not Recyclable

The short answer is: No, you can't put plastic Easter eggs in your recycling bin.

More specifically, any plastic that does not have a recycle number on it should not be placed into your recycling bin. There are very specific rules when it comes to recycling plastic. Your local recycling agency would be glad to answer any questions you may have about what is and is not recyclable. 

Save Them For Next Year?

Since recycling is out of the question, another viable option is to save them for next year, but really who wants 100 of these little things lying about when they only come out once a year. Not me. 

My storage space is reserved for sentimental baby clothes, hand-me-down items, and trinkets that belong to Maverick and I. There's not much room for extras. So, no, I don't intend to save our plastic eggs for next year.

Upcycling Plastic Egg Crafts

I've scoured Pinterest for way longer than I should have. (Sorry Maverick 😜 folding the laundry will have to wait.) There are some really fun ideas to re-purpose those colorful plastic eggs. 

The kids and I decided to turn a few of ours into these cute miniature planters. They are perfect for succulents and spikey air plants. Plus, they are super easy to make.

Mini Plastic Egg Planters

Upcycle your plastic Easter eggs into these adorable miniature planters perfect for succulents and air plants.

Recycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycle
Total time:

  1. Plug in your glue gun. It takes 3-5 minutes to warm up.
  2. Cut the tab that holds the egg halves together. 
  3. Place the long half on the table (open side down)
  4. Carefully glue the short half on top of the long one (open side up) 
  5. After the glue has hardened, color the top with the metallic paint markers.
  6. Insert your plant & enjoy!
Recycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycleRecycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycleRecycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycle

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Recycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycle

Little Miss picked out the pink planter and Little Man the blue. They each picked an air plant from this variety pack →HERE and placed them on their dresser.

Here is a quick little video of how the two halves are glued together.

Why Air Plants?

What are Tillandsia?

Tillandsia is the scientific name for air plants. Air plants are spikey or hairy little plants that thrive on air. Go figure! In the wild, they hang off tree branches and telephone lines while they grow.

Air plants have two very unique characteristics. The first is their complete lack of dirt dependence. They don't need it, and they don't want it. Which is great if your a mom with two explorative younglings wandering about your home looking for their next "experiment". No more worrying about beautiful potted plants being spilled all over the floor and made into mud pies!

The second fascinating characteristic is how they obtain nutrients. Tillandsia have very laid back watering and fertilizing routines. They live off what they find in the atmosphere surrounding them, though they do enjoy an occasional bath- but we'll get to that in a minute.

Another great feature of tillandia is the huge variety of shapes and colors you can find. Getting a variety pack is a great way to get a number of different air plants to style your home.

Air Plants: Natures Filter

Leeching their nutrition from the air and humidity surrounding them makes air plants a perfect choice for indoor use. They take the dust and pollutants out of the air and leave you with fresh and fully oxygenated breathing space. Pretty great, huh?

Keeping plants indoors is a proven way to detox a room. They breath in all the airborne chemicals and breath out pure, clean oxygen. Having clean air in your home is very beneficial to you and your family's health. You'll all sleep better- and all the moms in the room rejoiced. 😉

Allergy sufferers don't write off indoor vegetation just yet. While I am not suggesting you bring pollen factories inside (or plants you are very much allergic too- I'm looking at you Kentucky Blue Grass), having a few natural air filters will help lessen your indoor allergens. Less dust = fewer stuffy noses!

Spiky green air plants easy to grow fun for the whole family

Tillandsia Care

Keeping indoor plants alive can be a real deal breaker. Thankfully, air plants are a low maintenance and resilient bunch. They are well adapted to an indoor environment.

If you don't have a nice sunny window to place your potted plants- forget it. However, many green plants survive and even thrive in a barely lit window. Tillandsia are one of these shady plants. As long as they are withing 5 feet of a window or light source, your air plants will get plenty of sunlight to grow.

Keeping your air plants hydrated is another simple task. They enjoy a humid environment- think bathroom or kitchen. If your chosen room isn't humid never fear, keeping your tillandsia hydrated is easy. A little misting bottle and an occasional bath are all they'll need.

Hold it! Bath? You read right. Air plants enjoy a nice 10 minute soak, too. Simply fill a bowl with water (not too hot or cold) and drop your plants in. After the 10 minutes are up, shake off the extra water and put them back. They should be perky and dry within 4 hours. Try do to this every week.

Now that your plants are growing nicely, it's time to talk about plant babies. When air plants reach the end of their life cycle, they make pup, baby plants. These pups form at the base of the plant like a strange off shoot. Once the pup has reached half the size of the mother, it is safe to separate them by holding each plant at their base and giving a gentle downward twist. Ta-da! Now you have two beautiful tillandsia plants.

Other Fun Plastic Egg Ideas

We had some extra plastic eggs, so here are a few more ideas for upcycling them. 

DIY Resurrection Gardens

In our home, Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. It seemed fitting to turn some of our eggs into a miniature resurrection garden. A big dirt mess later and there they are. 

Starting with the leftover dirt from our garden seed starting, we mounded the dirt into a hill with an Easter egg half inside for the tomb. 

Next, we went on a scavenger hunt for moss and some stones. Our yard is a mossy paradise, so finding that wasn't difficult. You can also purchase live moss like THIS for DIY projects and terrariums. 

We placed the moss over the dirt and arranged the stones to look like the door that was rolled away. Next, it was time to make the crosses. We used toothpicks and wire, but twigs work well, too.

Little Man had a neat idea of decorating his garden with a few air plants. We placed two more plastic egg shell halves into the dirt for the air plants. The sunken planters keeps the tillandsia from rotting in the soil.

Teach the real reason for Easter #Easter #eastertradition #eastercrafts #christ #kidsgarden

More Upcycled Plastic Egg Fun on Pinterest

Recycle your old plastic eggs into these fun and functional planters. #reduce #reuse #recycle #upcycle

More Creative Monday Fun

This post is part of the Creative Monday Link Up party hosted by Claire Justine OXOX.

Shank You Very Much
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