November 26, 2013

This Week

He brings a book everywhere we go, just in case there is down time.

Trevor is also taking a creative writing class in 7th grade. This is the end of one of his stories. I especially love the post script, which contains a Golden Girls reference.

Moo Rae has learned how to wear her babies. We all know Bo will end up in the sling next. Except for maybe Bo.

We installed the second toilet (PRAISE) this weekend. As a result, Bryon brought up the box for Bo and Kiki to play with. Which of course means that Andrew would immediately imagine he was a warrior ninja of some kind in need of a place to hide. Adore him.

Hayley Noelle turned 9. More than anything else, she's been asking for fake glasses. Daddy and I took her to pick out two pair and oh my, she looked amazing in the clear/black Buddy Holly style. They are my favorite! Both nerdy and beautiful - just perfect. Girlfriend is unique and I absolutely love that about her character - wow. I am so grateful for her spunk.

To celebrate Hayley's birthday, our family went roller skating and brought two of her friends. They had a ball! Trevor won the awards for Most Determined and Most Bruised. Andrew wore roller blades like he was a professional, and Mabel forgot that she'd ever been on skates before in her life (I'm told she has, at Dad's). This means she basically started from scratch and while wobbly for about 7.2 minutes, I snapped this photo as she said to me, "I think I've got it, Mom. I want to go by myself." She crashed and smiled, and kept on. She started with determination and ended, a pro. She really is a mix of the boys. Of course, Hayley is a great skater and Bryon and I had a great time, too. No falls or fractures and honestly when you're a grown adult at a kids roller skating party, isn't that the ultimate goal? Right.

November 25, 2013


You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I will call upon Your Name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine

November 22, 2013

She is 9!

This week, #3 turned 9. Wow.

I'm so proud of this little girl. She is truly a magnificent creature and I love each and every detail about her. She is completely different from any child I've ever known and certainly different than the 3 that came out of my uterus. But I love her just like she did.

She's sensitive and proud. Silly and super studious. She loves to play school and build Legos and play Hunger Games outside with all the boys. She can hold her own wrestling (usually).

She has an amazing - AMAZING relationship with her dad. Hayley is the quality time sneak-attacker... just when you're in the middle of slicing mushrooms or gutting a fish, she'll ask you the best question. Just sneaks it right in there with a hug and a smile. So trusting. It makes parenting her so rewarding because she's so clever and kind and curious. She will tell you anything in the world about her heart, if you only ask.

She and Grandma Sharon are animal print and bling besties.

Hayley Noelle is emotional, but strong (I find those two qualities go hand in hand). She is BEAUTIFUL. She has become so much more confident in herself as she's grown up. She talks about how God made her beautiful and unique, and she knows that nobody can do the work He has planned for her. That makes us so excited for her and so proud of her relationship with the Lord!

She is my biggest tagalong - always wanting to be with me cooking, cleaning, thrifting, sewing, organizing. The girl steals my heart every time she begs me to take her thrifting!

And Andy. Oh my Lord he drove her nuts when they met. Ha. Now they are BESTIES. Like, look out. 'Cahoots' is the word.

My life is richer for having Hayley in it. She was the bonus. Bryon was my gift from God, the answer to a million prayers - but he came with a package of his own: this little punk. Wow, she stole my heart. I couldn't love her more.

Happy Birthday, Phyllis. We all love and adore you.

November 21, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

1. Did y'all catch the hugest news of this week? She did it again. Jennifer chopped her hair just like mine. LOVE.

2. I adore these Balenciaga boots. There isn't a snowball's chance in hell I'll ever even SEE them in person, but I love them nonetheless.

3. Le sigh. 

4. I have been searching Etsy for vintage nightgowns and I love this one.

 5. It's homemade ornament season!

6. The kids are helping make perler bead ornaments this year.

8. How darling is this couch? Perfect antique for a little girl's room, I say.

all images Pinned for sources

November 19, 2013

On Bottling a Treehouse

Last night, the Jedi was in a funk. Probably because today is his father’s 6th anniversary in Heaven. Also because of some other work stress and guy stuff. And so I did what any normal wife would do. I sent two kids to youth group at church, tucked the other into bed, and then sat on his lap. As I encouraged him to talk about his day, I pulled my shirt out and shoved his head up in it. “Go on. I’m listening,” I said. He stifled a laugh and said he didn’t want to move for the rest of the night. A few minutes later he was comfortably discussing his funk, so I took my top off. He smiled and our conversation continued. I offered him encouragement and kissed his lips. After another sentence or two, I took his top off, too, and scrunched his chest hair. Wooly booly yum. Turns out, boobs are the best medicine for men. Can’t have nary a funk when your wife is rubbing her boobs in your face.

Later we laid in the dark and tried to return our breathing to normal. We were tangled in arms and hair and legs everywhere, completely absolved of whatever negativity that threatened him before. I felt Bryon’s heart beating under my hand and watched his profile in the dark. “I love you,” I said.

He paused and breathed in and out once more. He rubbed my hand with his fingers and considered his response. “I really love you,” he said slowly.  

There are days that my husband says very little in ‘pink’ and I am left wondering what his feelings truly are about this or that. He thinks he’s explaining but I don’t understand his wording. But there are other days that he speaks volumes with one short and deliberate phrase.  It’s his effort, the breathing, and the consideration that gets my attention. He doesn’t realize how powerful his love is and how it’s the best medicine for my soul. That naiveté is both frustrating and endearing. I’m so blessed he’s mine. And he really loves me.

He lay there smiling and saying “wow.” Then, “If I could bottle that shit, I’d never have a bad day again. I feel like I’ve just gone back to a treehouse that I haven’t seen since childhood.” Well, okay then.

The moral of this story is: the best medicine for men is boobs and a treehouse.


November 18, 2013

A Day Ending in Y

[written previously and ironically, it was not a Monday]

1. Bryon left early for a meeting at work before 6.

2. I got up at 6 and tripped over two cats on my way to find my robe. I came away without permanent injury, but there are bruises and pissed off cats.

3. I woke Andrew and Trevor and then stopped to notice the wash machine was out of balance. I pulled all of the ice cold and wet clothes out, wrung them, and reloaded.

4. When I woke Moo I noticed that she’d drawn all over her rainbow heart sheets. In ink.

5. I brought Mabel’s backpack upstairs and then realized we forgot to take the garbage out. I rolled the garbage can out in fake Uggs and a robe. A gust of wind proved that a terrible idea.

6. In the kitchen, I threw the roasts in the crockpot and said a silent prayer that Bo won’t knock the lid off while it is cooking today. Mental note: block crockpot lid removal before leaving.

7. I emptied last weekend’s chili into a container for freezing and almost didn’t spill all of it on the counter.

8. Kiki circled my legs, meowing like Simon’s Cat. She feels wronged that we don’t feed her eleventy five times a day.

9. When the kids appeared in the kitchen, I dispatched breakfast and gave the following chores before the bus came: Mabel, put away shoes. Trevor, dirty clothes downstairs and clean clothes upstairs. Andrew, dishes and garbage/recycling. Morning chores usually keep them occupied so they don’t kill each other while waiting for the bus.

10. My coffee brewed just as the coffee maker ran out of water.

11. When I finally got into the shower and began to plan my day, the kids were done eating and wanted to brush, poop, wash, comb before the bus came. Sigh.

12. Trevor knocked to tattle that Andrew turned on the garbage disposal without realizing a tiny glass cup had fallen inside. Shards of glass everywhere, but don’t worry, Mom.

13. In an effort to allow me some peace, Trevor cleaned the glass out of the disposal without cutting himself, however finding a plastic medicine cup and half a stir stick also inside.  Mental note: check garbage disposal before leaving.

14. Mabel knocked because she forgot to brush her teeth and instead painted the front of the cabinet with sparkly blue toothpaste.

15. Checked if Andrew had any homework, anything I needed to sign, any tests coming up, or anything on his mind before school: check.  Same for Trevor and Mabel, during her toothpaste painting party. Check and check.

16. I dispatched Trevor to assist Mabel with shoes and her coat and reminded him to please be nice to Andy this morning.

17. When there was finally silence in the bathroom, I tried to lose myself in the sound of the water beating the floor by my feet. I started planning Hayley’s birthday weekend in my head.

18. Suddenly there was wild and crazy screaming and the sound of the front door opening. “NOOOO-AH!” and “DOOOOOOONN’T!” and crying. Has something happened? Why is Andy screaming? Andy is always screaming but this sounded like hurt screaming.

19. I immediately left the shower clamoring to save a life, shower cap on my head, covered in soap, and half a towel around my boobs. How I didn’t slip on the tile is beyond me. When I got to the top of the steps I assessed the situation and all 3 of them were startled at my concern. They quietly looked at me in wonderment. I was FURIOUS that they’d pick on each other and scream to the point that I was alarmed enough to stop showering and emerge naked. And of course the front door was wide open.

20. Fabulous.

21. After I kissed them out the door and onto the bus with 20 reasons mom deserved an apology later, I finished my shower. I had no idea what I was planning in my head.

22. Late. When I dressed I noticed all the dirty laundry piled high in the basket; Trevor hadn’t taken it downstairs. Andrew also forgot the garbage and recycling and it was too late for me to do it.

23. Late! Packed lunch but couldn’t find a container for leftover chicken sausages and used a bag instead. Which I can’t use to reheat them anyway. And the snap peas were slimy.

24. Late! Forgot to stabilize the crockpot, am now certain we will come home to half-raw, mostly-eaten pot roast on the floor tonight next to a broken crockpot and a sick cat.

25. Late! Forgot to check the garbage disposal to make sure the glass was all out, am now worried Andrew will do dishes after their snack and turn it on, causing the whole damn thing to short out and die. Again.

26. LATE! Grabbed lunch, phone, and coffee. Remembered it was also recycling day immediately after exiting the garage and lowering the door. Opened the door and took the recycling container outside. IN THE RAIN.

27. LATE! Sigh.

PS: Miraculously, the cat avoided the crockpot and Andrew didn't use the sink. 

November 15, 2013

She Was a Unicorn Princess

It started with this Pin from The Beauty Department, months ago.

The unicorn.

Oh my, the unicorn.

I knew I'd make it the second she squealed. I knew she'd make it her own, too.

To make the homemade costume, I began the hunt for thrift prom dresses this spring and found two: one white and one lavender. I needed something relatively child-sized (so I didn't have to deal with too much fabric), minus a train, and with a certain amount of tulle and luxurious sheen. Neither cost me more than $10.

I turned them inside out and pinned the layers (crenoline and satin) together so that they wouldn't come apart when I cut them. I pinned *just* above where the crenoline slip began on each dress. Mabel is pretty short, so there was no need to make the skirts long.

Then, I cut the tops off of the dresses with pinking shears.

First, I machine basted all the way around the skirt to hold the layers in place. Then I rolled the edge into a pocket the same size as my elastic. Then I sewed the pocket, leaving an opening to slip the elastic through.

I eyeballed the elastic to Mabel's waist size, trimmed it, and fed it through the envelope. [If I'd had narrower elastic I would have used it; she's pretty tiny. However, this is what I had on hand.] Feeding the elastic through was the most time-consuming and frustrating step. In the end, I attached a safety pin to both ends of the elastic and used an unfolded metal hanger to hook onto the safety pin and fish it through the tiny pocket. I only said naughty words eleven times.

Once the elastic was inside the pocket and flat, I pinned it in place and sewed the pocket shut. I also sewed little seams through each side to keep the elastic from flipping in the future.

She loved the lavender skirt. Perfect for twirling with your eyes wide open.

I followed the same steps with the white dress.

Then I used some of the scrap, white fabric to cover the homemade unicorn horn. The horn was a heavy duty towel holder - made of very thick cardboard. I cut a triangle-shaped segment out of the horn and then duct taped it together into the shape I wanted. I used tacky fabric glue to attach the white fabric to the horn, folding the seam over with more glue to prevent fraying. I also tucked the leftover fabric up into the horn (forehead side) and secured it all with pins until it dried.

On Halloween, I got her ready. Pink hair and glitter face - she had decided on 'unicorn princess' and wanted me to punk her out. Well, okay then.

She wore a storebought purple tutu (found for only $5), the white skirt made by mommy that came to her ankles, and the lavender skirt on top. With all 3 layers she was very poufy (and warm) and she loooooved it.

Daddy poked a small hole on each side of the bottom of the horn and I fed an old elastic headband through the holes. Then I tied it at the back of her head. The pink hairspray turned the headband pink immediately - perfect.

Lots of bundling up because it was 45 degrees!

Here she is - our unicorn princess!

She was very proud. In retrospect, I wish I'd gotten a skein of hot pink yarn and braided up a horse tail to hang behind her, but she was darling nonetheless. All the grannies on the street loved her.

She also matched her sister.


November 14, 2013

Things I Love Thursday

1. I am currently feeding an obsession of dark hair and black attire. This takes the cake. The blazer and the maxi are my FAVE.

2. I love the wall decor in this home.

3. I love this pendant light. Love.

4. Why, hello darling and super comfortable outfit.

5. Kick ass outfit.

6. I noticed the source for this DIY is years old, but this is new to me: Paint by number makeover. Love!

7. Despite ourselves.

8. This will be my future floor tile. Amen.

9. I'm fighting the urge to Birk. I really am. I mean, not until spring at the earliest. But... sigh. I loved them in 1994 and I still love them now.

10. How cute are these little things?

11. I always loved Sir Mix-A-Lot.

12. Yes, Betty.  Yes.

All images are Pinned for sources.

November 12, 2013

What is This Paleo Thing? Take 1

I put on a pair of comfy jeans on Friday. They wriggled around my waist and sagged at my butt. Hmpf. That night, I pulled them off without unbuttoning them. Wow, I guess I am smaller.

I started following a Paleolithic lifestyle in August because I wanted to be healthier, to eat healthier. I figured out I have a gluten intolerance by accident but now that I know, it has changed everything. I do not own a scale, so I cannot tell you how much weight I’ve lost. However, I found my hipbones and I like to be naked, so there you are. The weight loss wasn’t intentional; it just happened. I have not counted calories. Instead, I carefully select what I am eating at every meal and I stop eating when I feel full. I eat every time I am hungry and ONLY when I’m hungry. Often we think we are hungry when we are really thirsty. I drink at least 48 oz of water every day.

The Paleo lifestyle is inherently gluten free because you avoid all grains (including wheat and gluten). No rice, no corn, no oats either. I do make rare exceptions for fresh corn and I do have ‘emergency gluten free chicken strips’ in my freezer for last minute meals. It has been 3 months and my tummy is very thankful for the rest from the inflammation caused by grains.

More than anything, I am asked over and over again what I eat. I am asked for simple recipes and resources. I aim to please and love to talk, so sit back. Here we go.


Homemade trail mix is a staple for me. I keep all of the following on hand: raw almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, dried banana/mango/pineapple/cranberries/apricots, soybeans, sunflower seeds, pepitas, raisins, and dates. [I buy raw, unsalted, and not ‘sugared’.] Mix and match, but try to remember that fruit is blessed with natural sugars, so too much sugar is still too much sugar. That won’t be kind to your behind. If you’re feeling very naughty then Enjoy Life makes great Paleo-friendly chocolate chips, but I don’t put them in my trail mix because I don’t want to eat them daily. I can’t have discipline if I’m feeding my face chocolate.

Modified food starch is a huge gluten no-no if you’re intolerant. It usually hides in yogurt and cottage cheese. Dairy isn't Paleo but because it doesn't bother my tummy, I enjoy dairy sometimes. Chobani strawberry yogurt is gluten free.  So is the vanilla.  It’s delicious plain or topped with my trail mix. 

I make banana ‘pancakes’ every weekend. They couldn’t be easier and have the exact consistency of oatmeal (they do not come out flat and round). Combine 1 ripe banana (any size) with 1 egg (any size) and whip it together. Add a pinch of baking soda and a drop of vanilla. Prepare as you would scrambled eggs (I use coconut oil in the pan), flipping like you would a pancake. Top with nuts and seeds.

Enjoy Life brand has great gluten-free granola, however it is not Paleo. It has rice in it and I reserve it for when I am craving a huge crunch. Just a tablespoon is great overtop banana pancakes or yogurt, but I have this less than once a week.

I miss the crunch of cereal swimming in ice cold milk and have, so far, lacked the time to make some homemade Paleo ‘cereal.’  Instead God blessed me with Amazon and I found Paleo People’s Cacao Nut clusters. It is gluten free, crunchy, and DELICIOUS in milk.

Terra chips are Paleo-friendly and gluten free. We love the Mediterranean flavor. The kids and Bryon always steal them from me.


I cook with coconut oil or ghee almost exclusively. Even Hubby has started sauteing mushrooms with my good stuff. I’ve also saved bacon grease in the fridge to use when browning meat.

My favorite breakfast is a turkey stick and boiled eggs, or a turkey stick and wedge of colby cheese. I try to have protein with every breakfast because it slows the absorption of sugar and carbohydrates, providing a nice even blood sugar level all morning.  

I use agave nectar (light) to sweeten my coffee and tea.

An apple with almond butter is a great snack or occasional breakfast. I love Justin’s brand, maple flavor. We also have a cashew butter that is made by Jif. Trevor and Bryon love that one.

Squash is my best friend. Butternut, spaghetti, acorn, yellow, and zucchini are very flexible ingredients. They sauté quickly and they crisp in the oven. I top them with meat marinara when they're having spaghetti or a homemade alfredo sauce when I’m craving it. Butternut is particularly fabulous cubed and baked with a bit of brown sugar and cinnamon.

Sweet potatoes are great after exercise and we eat them with steak. I do make red potatoes every now and then. They are high in carbs and offer very little nutritionally, so it is a real splurge. I probably have potatoes only once per week. 

The main concentration of a Paleolithic diet is lean meat. We bring home lean burger, non-GMO/grain-fed chicken (from Target!), turkey bacon, chicken & apple sausage, pork, and beef. I stay away from preservatives in the sausage, too, which means that I hunt through the organic/health food section to find the good-for-you stuff. It is worth an extra $1. My goal for the fridge is to always have a meat thawed and fresh, ready to cook – and another as leftover at all times.  

Oh, pizza. I missed it hard, you guys. So I searched Pinterest and now have a favorite recipe that is super easy. I use 2 tbsp coconut flour, 2 tbsp flax meal, 1 egg, and 1 cup of mozzarella cheese – mixed to form a ‘dough’ and then flatted on parchment paper to prebake in the oven at 425 for about 10 minutes.  Then I top with Classico pizza sauce (it’s gluten free), whatever I have on hand (including that leftover meat) and my eyes roll back in my head.  

Every week we stock up high in veggies and every week the fridge is emptied OUT. We buy romaine lettuce, spinach, squash, mushrooms, peppers, sprouts, avocados, tomatoes, celery, asparagus, green beans, snap peas, carrots, grapes, bananas, apples, and berries. There are MANY meals made without a starch side for the kids nowadays. They’ve adapted by feeding their faces with veggies and I don’t feel one bit bad about that.

Sauces hide gluten. Yes, it’s sad. But they do and they will haunt your dreams if you’re gluten free like me.  I *have* found some exceptions that are brand specific (no generics):
A1 steak sauce (original)
Lea & Perrins worcestershire sauce (original)
Kikoman gluten-free soy sauce (blue label)
Stubb’s barbeque sauce (original)
Hellman’s mayonnaise (original)
Frank’s Red Hot sauce
Heinz Ketchup
Pure honey (any brand, but 100% pure with no other ingredients)

I learned how to make homemade ranch dressing for veggies and hot wings. It’s nothing more than Hellman’s mayo, Daisy light sour cream, minced garlic, salt, pepper, and tons of fresh herbs like dill and parsley. Stay away from packets of anything. Use fresh or dried herbs to season your meat and veggies.

I eat nothing breaded or fried. Nothing covered in a sauce I didn't make myself. If we eat out, I order from the gluten free menu or adjust to a cheeseburger, minus the bun and condiments. I also haven't had pop in months.

If you haven’t figured out by now, most of what I can eat is homemade. Like, ‘from scratch.’ Good thing I love to cook from scratch. My granny Bertha would be pleased. If you've ever read a nutritional label, you know that most everything that is packaged hides preservatives, empty calories, and (in terms of gluten intolerance) flour to prevent sticking. No bueno. Grilled chicken breasts are great examples of this – if you eat out and are GF you MUST ask if the grilled (and seemingly innocent) chicken breast is fresh or frozen. 99% of frozen chicken breasts are dusted with flour to prevent them from sticking together in the box. You'll be sorry you didn't ask.

I’ve successfully made both tomato soup and chicken and vegetable soup that were both totally amazing, husband and kid-approved. I use an organic, gluten free chicken stock and fresh vegetables. It does take time in the kitchen and I find cooking therapeutic. I love it. And the girls LOVE to help me.

For my body, this lifestyle diet is best. It may not work for everyone, but I feel healthier than I have in over 20 years. I can think more clearly and I look much better naked. I don’t go to bed bloated or with a bellyache anymore. My clothes fit better and even my skin is clearer. My hair is shiny! Gluten makes dough stick together, but my insides, my skin, my everything was sludgy and sticky. The difference is measurable and I feel so grateful for this intolerance, honestly. I literally unstuck myself. Grains are SO HARD to digest that I truly think most people could benefit from cutting them out.

If you're interested, don’t be afraid to try Paleo. It's not all or nothing and nobody is going to arrest you if you eat dairy. The only way to stick to something for life is to customize it a bit. That being said, please remember that gluten free cupcakes are still cupcakes. Gluten free pancakes and cake mix are still pancakes and cake mix. The entire point of eating healthier is to do just that, not find exceptions for treats. 

Unlike fad diets, there is nothing Paleo can do to hurt you. It is lean meat, veggies, and fruit. There is no deficiency that you will create that will require bread or flour. In fact, you’ll likely be healthier than you’ve ever been. Paleo is not like Atkins or South Beach, where you need vitamins and lots of water to prevent health problems - - but it *IS* like Atkins and South Beach in that you are training your metabolism to burn fat stores instead of empty carbs you’re eating, because you’re not eating them anymore. And drinking enough water tells your body not to store it to prevent dehydration. The body is amazing! I love mine again. 

If you're interested, this is the article that I read that got my attention:

Here is another by Robb Wolf:

More posts on Paleo to come!