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Thriving Outside the Box with Hannah, a Super-Mom of 7

October 28, 2021

Thrive Market is more than an online grocery store; it’s a community of over 1 million members with their own unique stories. Our members are parents and teachers, first responders and climate activists, artists and athletes—all doing healthy their way. We thought it was time to celebrate them, so welcome to Thriving Outside the Box: a series that puts our members in the spotlight and shares the inspiring, real-life stories that bring us together.

Most households with seven kids running around would be more than a little chaotic. Yet when we visited the Weeks family at their home in Bloomington, Indiana, nestled on a leafy suburban cul-de-sac surrounded by wooded bike trails, it was anything but. 

The oldest kids sat together on the couch, politely curious and quietly observant. Out in the front yard, when one sibling took a tumble off a swing, his sister was instantly at his side, helping him up and brushing him off. The energy was warm, welcoming, and joyful. 

First Things First

To understand how these kids became such a harmonious bunch, all you have to do is spend a little time with their mom, Hannah. She’s raised them to be kind, empathetic, and thoughtful, and she’s done it by always doing what she calls “putting first things first. That is our top value in terms of teaching our children healthy living: valuing the primary things above the secondary things.”

A big part of that is spending quality time together—something their Thrive Gives membership helps them make a priority. For the Weeks family, grocery shopping poses challenges beyond the obvious one—piling seven children into the car and shuttling them in and out of the store. (“I do not think it’s overstating to say that shopping with my kids is one of my least favorite things to do,” Hannah says with a laugh. “When you’re getting kids in and out of car seats and traipsing around stores, it gets pretty stressful real fast.”) Their daughter Mary has a genetic condition that requires her to be tube-fed, and Hannah relies on a number of specialty items, like MCT oil and digestive enzymes, to create a customized whole-food diet that helps Mary thrive.

“My husband is a pastor and we need to care about how much things cost,” Hannah goes on, adding that her complimentary Thrive Gives membership—available to first responders, teachers, veterans, and families in need—plus Thrive Market’s prices on top-quality organic ingredients make it easier to stay healthy on a budget.

Completing the weekly shop with just a few taps of her smartphone allows Hannah to get the healthy groceries and essentials her family needs, without wasting precious time that’s better spent doing what they love: hiking, biking, cooking, reading to each other, and jumping on the trampoline. 

Read on to learn more about the Weeks family and how Thrive Market helps them put first things first. (And if you missed the first installment of Thriving Outside the Box, click here to meet Connie and her family.) 

Tell us about your family and your life here in Bloomington.

We have a lot of fun together. We take hikes; the kids love to go down to the creek and get all muddy. They jump on the trampoline together. One of our favorite activities is reading aloud together. The kids always beg for another chapter. We just like to do life together.

The last time we spoke to you, a few years ago, we met your daughter Mary. How is she doing?

Mary is six-and-a-half years old, and she has been tube-fed since she was six months old. She has very sensitive digestion and cannot walk or talk. This is because she has genetic syndrome called cardiofaciocutaneous syndrome, and it affects all of the cells in her body. 

After Mary turned one, I did not want to keep giving her formula through her tube. We worked out a diet of real food that I could blend in a blender and feed her via her tube. She has really thrived on the diet, but it was a long process of learning how to tube feed that way and finding foods that her little tummy could actually tolerate.

Describe that process of customizing a real-food diet for Mary. What were some of the challenges?

It was challenging to find high-quality, consistent ingredients to give her…so that she wouldn’t start having reactions to them. She had pretty severe reflux and it was very hard to keep her growing, which is of course the main thing you want when you have a little one. 

Before I had a Thrive Market membership, I was never quite sure where I was going to go to get specialty items that I needed for Mary’s food, so it was always trial and error at different stores and sometimes online, not being certain that I could trust the products. After the first year [of making Mary’s food], I discovered Thrive Gives memberships on Facebook and I immediately jumped on and applied.

How did your Thrive Gives membership make things easier for you and your family?

It was a relief immediately because I trusted Thrive Market…because of the carefulness and curation that were communicated by the company. I didn’t need to worry as much and waste precious mental energy trying to figure out if a product was going to be at a standard I was comfortable with.

“I do not think it’s overstating to say that shopping with my kids is one of my least favorite things to do. When you’re getting kids in and out of car seats and traipsing around stores, it gets pretty stressful real fast.”

That made a big difference with Mary, but it also helped a lot with my daughter who has food allergies. Some of her allergies are pretty severe. Knowing that I can look at the ingredients on the [Thrive Market] app and see what I’m getting and know that’s what will arrive, makes a big difference and takes a lot of strain out of the process for me. 

It’s heartwarming to see how your kids look out for each other. How do they help you and your husband out around the house?

They help with cooking meals. Just last night, my oldest did a roasted chicken breast with root vegetables for dinner. That was a first for her, and she did a great job. Her brothers are quite encouraging with her cooking and baking endeavors, so it’s sweet to see her growing in her skill. And [the kids] also help with making breakfast. Sometimes if they’re newer, the eggs aren’t as yummy, and that’s okay because they have to learn somehow. 

If my kids had their preferences I’m pretty sure we would have dessert with every meal. And they would probably be baking dessert every single day. I have a sweet tooth myself. My husband is the one who puts his foot down and says, “No, you guys don’t need to make cookies this evening.” 

I actually think it’s helpful for them to learn math facts…they get to learn about fractions and adding fractions if we’re doubling the recipe, since we’re a large family. It’s funny; my brain has started to work that way because we homeschool part-time. So thinking about real-life skills that they learn in the kitchen is really pretty helpful.

Obviously you’ve got your hands full with family life. What do you personally do to recharge?

As a mom of seven kids, I lost track a little bit of how to recharge during COVID, but my favorite way to recharge is taking time to enjoy my children, instead of just carting them around or making food. Sitting down on the couch and reading together and having a little snuggle before bed time. 

I also really enjoy reading, so I like to find a good book and sit down with my coffee and read a little bit of an adult story, instead of kids’ books sometimes. I have taken up water coloring, and I play piano, so keeping the creative juices flowing is definitely helpful.

Is there anything from the last year and a half—a lesson learned, a new habit adopted—that you’re grateful for, or planning to keep up?

I think if there’s one thing we’re going to take with us after the pandemic, it’s spending more time together outside. We’ve loved taking hikes together and spending good time together, even cooking in the kitchen. But the outside time has definitely been something that I hope we take with us. 

“Healthy” means something different to everyone, and we’re on a mission to help people do healthy their way. What does “healthy” mean to you and your family?

I try to model healthy living for my family by putting first things first. So oftentimes, that means what we’re eating, but we live in a diet-crazed culture and I don’t want them to grow up that way. So we put first things first by saying a prayer before we eat meals and loving each other…and by taking walks outside together and valuing each other over the things and distractions in life. 

This interview has been edited and condensed.

If you or someone you know would benefit from a complimentary Thrive Market membership through Thrive Gives, click here to apply.

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Kirby Stirland

Kirby Stirland is a writer, editor, and New York transplant living in Los Angeles.

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