Saturday, December 22, 2012

Born to Love

 In just a few short days {or any second now} my sweet baby boy will become a big brother. At almost 19 months, he "knows" there is a baby in Mommy's belly and will often give it kisses. But what he doesn't know is what that really means. He has no idea how this baby will change his life. And neither do I.

Before Burke, I couldn't imagine loving a little human as much as I do. It's intense. Incredible. And indescribable most days. And now, before Baby #2, I find myself unable to imagine loving two little humans and both equally as much. But, I have experience to rely on. I can look back nearly 19 months and remember how it felt to become a mother for the very first time. To lay eyes on that perfect little boy I carried for nearly 10 months. And I can know, based on this, that although I can't quite imagine it right now, it'll happen. My capacity to love will grow and I will have the privilege of loving two babies.

But Burke doesn't have this experience. He only knows life as it is now. As it's been for the past 18 months. And I don't have an experience yet for how a child will adjust to a new sibling. Maybe for Baby #3 these thoughts won't even course through my mind. But here and now, as we once again enter uncharted territory, they do.

Here I am, just 11 days away from my due date, and I am finally ready to have this baby. In fact, I went from not ready to get it out of me in a day, I'm fairly certain. But as soon as I wish this baby to be born, my heart gets distracted and wishes for things to stay as they are. For Burke's sake. Because he didn't ask for a sibling. And what if it's selfish of me?

And then my heart reassured me. He was born to love. And so now, whenever this baby comes, I am ready. And I know he will be too.

Friday, November 16, 2012


When I used to watch TV, I saw a commercial for one computer or computer system {you the Windows 7 commercials or something} in which a dad wrote emails to his baby girl throughout her life. And I thought, I need to do that for my babies!

So when Burke was born, I created a Gmail account for him and Ben and I have been emailing him periodically over the past seventeen months. {When we remember} we send him pictures and silly videos of himself that we capture on our iPhones. Sometimes I'll email him a blog post I've written if it's specifically pertaining to his cuteness or how much I adore him. And other times, like today, I just sit down and write to him.

And I tell him how he's on my heart. I tell him that, even though he has no idea how our life will change in just a few weeks with the addition of another family member, he will always be my baby. My love. And that even though he'll never remember being an only child and having our 100% undivided attention, I feel a little sad for him as though he might somehow miss this. Even though I know it's not true. And I assure him that no matter how old he is, no matter if he's married or not, no matter what he's done, doing or will do...there is no where he can run to escape my love. And there is nothing he can do to make me love him any less.

My love for him is fierce. And I hope that he doesn't have to wait to read these emails someday to find out about the depth of my love for him. My desire is that when he does end up reading these emails, he can confidently say that he knows my words are true because I modeled them throughout his sweet life. And so these emails also remind me to continue my journey of intentionality. And to make sure that my love isn't just some words in an email but that my love is a part of who he is. So that like his identity, he knows that my love for him can never be separated from who he is or what he's done.

Do you email your babies? What do you do to preserve memories?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Countdown

I know I've said it many times before, but I cannot believe how fast my pregnancy is going! I just hit 30 weeks which means I'm beginning the countdown to single digits and the very end of my journey. {PS...only 2 months til Christmas!} Over the past few weeks the reality of having another child has settled in. And with this new awareness has come a surprisingly delightful excitement to meet my little bundle.

I'm still not rushing time. In fact, {and this may be the ONLY time I ever say this} I may just be okay with being overdue with this little peanut. I love being a full-time mama to one very active, smart and exceedingly comical little boy. I love when he snuggles into me, resting on my growing belly. While my lap has all but disappeared my heart {and belly} only gets bigger and bigger each and every day. I have no idea how another child will change our lives, but I'm betting that Burke has taught my heart only the very beginning lessons on just how much I can love.

I know Burke will adapt to the changes just fine. But last night, as it hit me that we only have 10 weeks until our lives are forever changed, I had a wave of slightly familiar nostalgia. Would I miss our life as just the 3 of us? I remembered having this same nostalgia not long before Burke was born, wondering if I would miss life as just a couple. And then I remembered just how much I don't miss life without him. In fact, I can hardly remember life without him. And I was reminded of just how awesome our lives have become now that we are parents. How much he's enriched our lives. And even when drop-dead exhausted, how much I love being his mama. And how much I'm going to love being mama to 2.

While I'm hoping Baby #2 stays nice and cozy until his or her due date, I know that whenever we meet this baby our hearts will love even more and our lives will be even more amazing. I am so thankful for my gifts, my little treasures.

{Photo credit goes once again to the amazing Ken Bruggeman. We had the opportunity to model for his first workshop and I'm so thankful he gave us these beautiful photos to treasure!}

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

October #Unprocessed: Checking In

Halfway through Week #2 of the October #Unprocessed Challenge, I thought I'd check in and let you know how it's going in our home. Last week, we were not as committed as I had planned. But then again, some things you just can't plan. Last minute invites to a birthday dinner and a breakfast out with family {my favorite meal to eat out...} threw some wrenches in our plans. But overall, we were definitely much more intentional about making sure we avoided even the processed organic food that we often gobble down with no thought.
One of my favorite dishes that graced our table last week was my Fall version of Shepard's Pie. Shepard's Pie is a favorite in our house, but this time I used mashed sweet potatoes instead of regular mashed potatoes to top off this savory dish. It was a gamble for me, knowing that my hubby proclaims to hate sweet potatoes. But I was pretty sure he'd like them served this way, since they wouldn't be sweetened. Just savory. Sure enough, he was a fan. {He wolfed down the savory sweet potato fries I made the week before too! I think he's finally realized that it's not sweet potatoes he hates, but the sugary, sweet and completely false preparations he's been served over the years.}
For snacks last week, I mixed up a batch of trail mix. Tired of paying high prices for trail mix that wasn't even good for me, I started making my own mix over a year ago. I love shopping the bulk room at our local natural food store and have found that I can control my ingredients making the mix exactly how we like it while being able to skip the hassle of carefully scanning the ingredient list on the package for processed imposters. I've done the math and my mix ends up costing exactly the same as I can purchase a similar {though processed--because M&Ms are not a whole food} product at our wholesale club. Our mix usually entails a mix of equal parts peanuts and cashews to equal parts diced pineapple, diced papaya, raisins and dried cranberries with some pumpkin seeds thrown in for a little extra nutrition. Sweet. Salty. Delicious! I also made homemade nutrigrain bars for another between-meal snack.
Our chickens are in full production mode now, and we are swimming in eggs at this point. It's a wonderful problem to have. So {my hubby's} breakfast generally consists of runny eggs and toast made from homemade bread. I made this delicious oatmeal bread last week and froze one of the loaves so that we are now enjoying it this week too! I love yogurt, though, and made some granola to eat with that for breakfast. A little local raw honey drizzled on top adds just the perfect amount of sweetness to the otherwise sour creaminess of my plain yogurt. My little guy also loves yogurt or for some variety I make him some oatmeal using just apples and cinnamon to sweeten the pot.
So, although we haven't had a perfectly unprocessed October, we have been as intentional as possible about eating a largely unprocessed diet. Thankfully, the produce from our CSA keeps us focused on the challenge as well, as we're always looking for new ways to use seasonal veg. It's definitely a challenge, but it's also worth the work involved. And thankfully, sweets aren't completely eliminated from our diet {definitely craving more sweets during this pregnancy!!}. For dessert, we've been enjoying this naturally sweetened apple pie. Soo delicious!
 Did you take the challenge? Feel free to share some of your unprocessed recipes! {I'm always looking for some new ideas}

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

To My Mother's Generation

You are deluded. Perhaps you have just forgotten. After all, the details are now some thirty+ years behind you. It would be only normal for you to have gotten a little fuzzy on each and every detail of those miraculous days you treasured so long ago.

So do me {and my generation} a favor: just admit that you can't remember. Because some of my sisters aren't so thick skinned. And your comments {however innocent} hurt their feelings. And of all people, you should know how wild our hormones are at this time--so naturally any comment you make is unjustly magnified and blown out of proportion by these raging beasts.

No need to go on and on about how my pregnant belly is SOOOO big! No--for the 100th time, I'm not having twins. {Two ultrasounds have now confirmed only 1 heartbeat} No need to give me that shocked look while telling me that you were never this big until the day you delivered each one of your angels. And there's definitely no need to have this conversation each time we meet.{Don't you remember how it went the last time?} Oh, and please keep all weight predictions to yourself. The last thing I need during my final months of pregnancy is the terrifying anxiety that your 10-pound baby prediction causes. Seriously. It does no good. And you'll be wrong anyway. {Turned out that huge baby in my belly only weighed 6lbs 11oz}

Let's talk for a moment about your mixed reaction to the way we modern mothers clothe ourselves during our ever-expanding 10-month journeys. Some of you think we're cute. You think that the fact that we wear tighter-fitting clothing to show off our pregnant bellies is just so sweet. And you admit that you didn't do that in your day. It was all about hiding the bump. And some of you think that we should still be covering up our growing bellies--hiding them underneath of some ugly moo-moos and calling it a day. {God forbid those beautiful pregnant bellies confidently and freely protruding from the body of a bikini-clad mother-to-be! Gasp!} Whatever your preference, let's just all admit one fact: in your day, you went out of your way to hide your belly and in my day, I look for flattering styles to showcase it. Don't you think this could be the reason you have forgotten how large your pregnant belly ever swelled?

So when you tell me that you were never this big, I don't believe you. I was a kid in your childbearing days. And I remember seeing my mom's largely pregnant belly many times. And when I saw her pregnant belly, it wasn't when she was laboring in the delivery ward. It was the time she let me feel my sibling kicking her from the inside. Or watching the errant foot swoosh across her pregnant belly. Or her admission that she was wearing "fraternity" clothes {my brother's innocent mistake...maternity. fraternity. eh...the same, right?} when she dropped the bomb of another pregnancy on us--she was only 3-4 months pregnant.

Evolution takes many more years than one generation to have a noticeable effect on its subject. Fashion changes year to year. So let's agree that I am still the same breed of child-bearing woman that you were some 30 years ago. Remember that advice you gave your sons when they were old enough to find a mate? Something like if you want to know what a girl's going to look like in 30 years, just look at her mother... Well that girl, that's me. Look at told your sons that I'd look like you. Pregnant belly and all. So let's agree that perhaps you just forgot how big your belly ever got. And please, can you encourage your maternal sisterhood to join my generation in celebrating our pregnant bodies rather than adding insult to injury on a 90-degree swollen cankle kind of day? We'd be ever so grateful!


Friday, October 5, 2012

If We Are What We Eat...

Then we're mostly corn. Sounds friendly, healthy and natural. And it was...before our country had a name. But throughout my food journey, I've come to regard corn as an enemy. A filthy-rotten poisonous killer. So when I stumbled across this infographic on Pinterest today, I knew I had to share. I love corn, don't get me wrong. I just choose to eat it in its whole food form {as much as possible} and choose organically grown, non-GMO {genetically modified organism} corn when I do.

Did you know that the average corn yield in 1920 {roughly the same as averaged by Native Americans} was about 20 bushels per acre? And today, the genetically modified hybrids are capable of producing yields as great as 180 bushels of corn per acre! The reason for this tremendous increase in yield is that the genetically modified hybrids can be planted very close together--30,000 stalks per acre rather than the approximately 8,000 stalks per acre in 1920. {Source: The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan} So you see, much of the corn we eat today owes its ancestry to science rather than it's original predecessor, Zea Mays {an edible grass}.

Big Bad Corn

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Simple Things

Today I'm celebrating the simple things. Things like a solid night of sleep after 4 terribly long and sleepless nights spent comforting a sick baby boy. And things like a cloudy but rainless day. Rainy days are long days with a 16-month on-the-go little explorer boy and yesterday was a particularly long rainy day. And things like this cuteness so early in the morning:

 Waking up and cracking open freshly laid eggs from our own chickens certainly deserves celebration. Especially when cracking open a beautiful double-yolker! Our girls' eggs aren't quite up to market size {they are expected to lay an extra large egg} but I'd say they're getting close. Perhaps they're close to a large egg, which is light years bigger than the cute little pullet eggs we first collected a few weeks ago. In the photo below, the double-yolker is compared to one of the regular large-sized eggs that we've been collecting. I imagine it was quite a shock for the hen that laid that jumbo egg!

Another simple perk to my day was a lunch date with my mister. As a teacher, he gets just a quick 30-minute break each day to scarf down his coveted leftovers. Usually, he doesn't even have time to call home and say hello. But today, he was in special meetings {something to do with the math curriculum} and had the rare and luxurious privilege of taking an hour-long lunch break! With the driving, we really only got about 30 minutes of time together, but when you're used to nothing, something's great!

I would be remiss if I failed to mention my newly coveted stash of yarn. {I was a good girl in the yarn shop today...stuck to my list} My fingers are itching to craft a baby hospital hat for our #2 {no--we don't know what we're having so I'll be making 2 hats, each one suited for a different gender...} and a super stylin' sweater for my little man.

Oh, and aren't these just adorable?? I was super excited to find them in Burke's size at one of our local consignment shops. Perfect for helping me feed the chickens and playing in the barn with his Grammy's baby goats.

All this and the day's not even close to being over! I'm looking forward to enjoying the rest of the simple things that make me smile today. What are some of the simple things putting a smile on your face today?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

My Food Journey {and October #Unprocessed}

I love food. I love to eat. Fortunately, God gave me a good set of genes and a healthy appetite for exercise. I've always been the girl who scavenges friends' lunches for unwanted leftovers and who has helped herself to thirds at dinner. {Having a salty tooth, I often consoled myself with the fact that while I ate three helpings of dinner I usually skipped dessert. It evened out, right?}

But, over the past four or five years my views on food have slowly, but radically changed. Don't worry. I still love food. And I still love to eat. But a few years ago, I didn't know what I was eating. And I didn't care. I lived a life of moderation and balance, so I figured I was okay. And then I joined a healthy living small group at my church. It was made up of about 6 women and we talked about food, healthy lifestyles and our body image. I came in a bit skeptical, knowing that the organizer {a good friend} is a die-hard organic type of gal. I was in law school. I knew that even the term organic came with its own set of qualifiers. So I resisted. I debated. I was studying to be a lawyer, afterall. And I walked away from it thinking I hadn't really been affected. Maybe I won or maybe it just wasn't for me. Either way, I still didn't feel convinced.

But the problem was that I was now a whole new level of educated. And with education came an acute awareness in certain settings that was never there before. Now, I would walk down the aisles of the grocery store beleaguered by the devil/angel debate going on in my head.  

You should read that label. It probably isn't very healthy. High fructose corn syrup? Really? Do you know how many pesticides are just waiting to be devoured on that? You can't wash them all away. Don't do it!

Don't worry about the label. You never read labels before and look at you--you're in perfect shape. Good health. No worries. Don't you remember the recipe you are planning on making with this? A substitute just wouldn't do. You would be so disappointed. Do it!

And just like that, my perspective began shifting. And my choices reflected my new way of thinking. I began investing my time reading more about the ways in which our foods are grown and processed. And I began researching ways to make homemade whole-food substitutes for some of those terrible offenders in many of the foods I loved. As Michael Pollen suggested in The Omnivore's Dilemma, eating really had become a moral and ethical dilemma for me.

Fortunately, I wasn't alone in my dilemma. My husband joined me on this journey and we equally, separately and yet unitedly, believed that changing our way of eating was vital. Fortunately, eating a whole foods, natural, local, and/or organic diet didn't mean tasteless, boring and undesirable. {Remember my last post about those sinfully delicious chocolate chip cookies? Even they can technically be considered an unprocessed food, because I used whole-food ingredients!} And fortunately, I love to cook, invent and create in the kitchen. So instead of viewing this as the end of a delicious feast, we began to look forward to it as a challenge in which the reward would be great. Not only would we reap a personal reward of a healthier lifestyle, but by supporting our local farmers we would reap a better local economy and a better environment {because we weren't supporting all of the carbon that goes into transportation}. And by choosing sustainably raised and grown meat and produce {whether or not certified organic--because that really is just a fancy and expensive bureaucratic descriptor} we were reaping a better environment and humanely raised animals. The whole goal of sustainability, afterall, is to promote a model of growth that can support itself for years to come without destroying our precious remaining resources.

Fast forward to yesterday when I opened my email and clicked on Aimee's post about October Unprocessed over at Simple Bites. In a nutshell, it is a challenge to go one month {or whatever length of time you can realistically commit} without eating processed food. So what qualifies as unprocessed food? Well, Andrew of Eating Rules describes unprocessed food as anything meeting the "kitchen test".  

Unprocessed food is any food that could be made by a person with reasonable skill in a home kitchen with whole-food ingredients. {Andrew Wilder}

Since we already try to commit to a largely unprocessed foods diet, my husband and I immediately decided to join the challenge. For me, the challenge lies in my snack choices. If you've ever been pregnant, you know that your tastes and cravings aren't always things that are good for you. So my goal is to be more intentional in planning for the challenge of meeting these cravings with healthy, unprocessed choices. We already have a few social engagements on the calendar over which we won't have control of our food choices. So, we already know that we will have to make a few exceptions to this challenge. But otherwise, we are on board to accept and tackle this exciting challenge! Here are a few things I'm doing to prepare:

~ I've started an October #Unprocessed pin board on Pinterest to help me with menu planning
~ I will be menu planning a week in advance {which means I'm working on my first menu plan this week! I'll post my menu plan soon!} and will be accounting for all three meals plus snacks
~ I will be making a trip to Sonnewald Natural Foods this week in order to stock up on essentials such as unbleached, unenriched flour, grains, etc.
 ~ I have already signed the pledge over at Eating Rules and have signed up to follow along

So what do you think? Will you be joining me in taking the October #Unprocessed challenge? Feel free to share some menu ideas!

Friday, September 21, 2012


My husband has a crush on chocolate chip cookies. Seriously, he has a very strong chemical attraction toward those soft, pillowy, melt-in-your-mouth kind of chocolate chip cookies. The kind of attraction that drives him to lustfully devour at least a half-dozen in one sitting while moaning Oh God! between bites. It's intense.

But he married me. The woman who can cook up tasty concoctions from scratch and make anything taste amazing {so he tells me, anyway}. Anything, that is, except cookies. Especially chocolate chip cookies. For years, I have tried every new recipe claiming to be the best chocolate chip cookie. And for years, I have met my bitter friend, Disappointment, at the buzz of the timer showing me flat, crunchy, or falling-apart cookies that usually end up in the trash. So naturally, for years I've been blaming my cookie sheets. It must be my cookie sheets because I always carefully follow each new recipe to the "T". {The things you do for love! I HATE following recipes...} I always tell myself that I will buy new cookie sheets, the kind the pros use {whatever kind that might be}, but then I always forget. Basically, I've just been boycotting cookies altogether.

 So when I recently pinned a recipe for nutella-stuffed brown butter + sea salt chocolate chip cookies I thought maybe this was the one. It sounded far too good to fail. And if it failed, well then I decided I was definitely hanging up my hat. My husband would just have to satisfy his lusts on a stranger's chocolate chip cookies. So I embarked on my potentially last cookie-making excursion and browned my butter {happily it did not burn!} and mixed up my dough. With a 15-month-old in tow, I only have so much time to devote to these endeavors, so I decided to refrigerate my dough overnight and actually make the cookies the following day. This was the only deviation I made from the recipe {her instructions were to refrigerate at least 2 hours} and I crossed my fingers and prayed that it wouldn't be fatal.

I am proud to say that my friend Disappointment got a taste of his own medicine yesterday when he was ousted by Sheer Joy at the sound of the timer. Never before have I made such amazingly chewy, delightfully tender and sinfully delicious chocolate chip cookies! And my husband has sworn to remain faithful to these cookies as he exclaimed Babe! These are your new specialty! which means that I'll be making these cookies for every occasion we ever have and any time he is overcome with a salivating lust that can only be satiated by devouring at least 6 of these cookies with a chilly glass of milk.

{Click here for the recipe}

Please tell me that you've had similar cookie-making experiences! Do you swear by a particular chocolate chip cookie recipe?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Homemade Peanut Butter

I promised myself that once we finished our jar of commercial {though natural} peanut butter, I would take a stab at making it myself. After all, the only ingredients listed were peanuts and salt. How hard could it be? And, I thought it would be one more easy step toward replacing commercial food staples with my own homemade varieties. So, I purchased a bag of salted peanuts from the bulk room at our natural foods store {if you've never shopped in a natural foods bulk room, DO IT!} and set out to finish off our last jar of store-bought peanut butter. A few days ago, I scraped the bottom of the container and excitedly broke out my food processor.

I dumped about 3 cups of peanuts in my food processor and let it work its magic. About five minutes later, I had peanut butter.

Smooth. Creamy. Peanuty. Delicious! The perfect blend of salty and sweet.

We are hooked! My husband has a scoop or two with his granola {his typical evening snack} and raves each time over how delicious it is. Next time you're running low on peanut butter, go buy some peanuts and make your own. I bet you won't go back!

Try it! And then come back and let me know how you like it!! Do you add anything extra to your homemade peanut butter?

Friday, August 31, 2012

22 Weeks Closer

To meeting Baby #2. It's funny, because this time around time seems to be flying past me at lightening speed and I often feel caught up in this whirlwind that is life. And yet I love that I am so busy living in the present that I don't have time to get trapped in the future. I remember being pregnant with Burke and thinking that it was the longest and slowest 40 weeks of my life. And now... Well I can't even begin to tell you where the first 22 weeks have gone. Yet here we are, 22 weeks closer to meeting our second little blessing.


On one hand, I find myself impatient for the arrival of this little one but for a surprising reason: I can't wait for Burke to have a playmate. A buddy. Someone other than a furry friend to play with. Some days, after pulling him out of the dogs' water bowl for the 10,000th time that day, I pray to God that Baby #2 hurries up and grows to a good 8-9 months so that he or she can begin learning from and providing entertainment for Burke. I know, I know. When the kids are fighting over a toy or getting a little too physical, I may wish for the dogs' water bowl again. But I'm here, not there {and maybe I'll be the lucky one to have 2 angels who never fight...please--let me be delusional for a moment}.

On the other hand, I pray that the next few months will pass by like molasses. Sweetly and slowly. I am nowhere close to ready for this child and I do enjoy feeling all of his or her secret movements on the inside. I'll never get tired of the kicks, somersaults, hiccups and punches to my bladder. With the blur of movement on the outside, I am so thankful that my baby constantly reminds me that he or she is there. Growing. Being. And not wanting to be left out even at 22 weeks of gestation. It's almost like we share a fascinating secret as I'm doing life on the outside but conscious of the little tap tap thump on the inside. And no matter how quickly or slowly 9 months passes, I am so thankful that I get to partake in these beautiful moments.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Homemade Christmas

I know, it's only August, so why am I writing about Christmas? Let's just enjoy the end of the summer season and the beautifully delightful transition into {my favorite season} Fall. Right? Yes...unless, like me, you'd like to be intentional about your gift giving this holiday season.

For years now, I've made it my priority to only support local businesses when purchasing gifts for family and friends. At times, it makes the gift-giving process quite tricky, because quite frankly, some people in my life are cookie-cutter commercialism. No fault, no judgment. Just harder to buy for than others. Fortunately, everyone on my list likes to eat. And fortunately, there are many wonderful local restaurants in my town. So, when I'm really in a bind and grasping for something, anything, I can always give a gift card to one of these local establishments. They need love too. Throughout the process of buying local, my husband and I have enjoyed the thought and intention that went into choosing each gift. And it gave us great joy to give these special gifts to each of those who holds a special place in our hearts.

But this year, I've decided to be even more intentional in my gift giving. I'd like to make as many gifts as possible. I realize my limitations and so I'm not setting out to make this a 100% homemade holiday, but I think it would be nice to supplement a local purchase with a homemade gift made specially for the intended recipient. I have created a pin board on Pinterest with some of the homemade gift ideas I've discovered in my search so far. Feel free to check it out for some inspiration. Here are some of my favorites so far:

Burke loves animals, especially farm animals, and gets so giddy when you drill him on the sounds. For him, I'd love to make this cute pillow:

I also love this quiet activity book for the toddlers on my list.

These make a sweet addition to any little girl's gift!

For the cooks and bakers in your life a homemade apron made from their favorite colors and/or patterns would make a thoughtful gift!

Another thoughtful toddler gift is a homemade wooden puzzle such as this:

For the grandpas or daddies in your family who are attached to hankies, I think this makes an adorable gift from a child. {Since Burke doesn't have much interest drawing yet, I'm thinking that his pudgy little handprint would be a nice touch.}

These knit pouches are not only useful, but with all of the gorgeous yarn available, they can really be stunning as well. On the plus side, they look like they'd come together in a snap!

For the coffee lovers in your life, a knitted coffee cozy would make a nice gift. Save the planet and grab coffee in style.

For a more sophisticated gift for sister, mother or friend, these lovely bird nest necklaces have me wanting to make a few extra just for me to keep!

And finally, aren't these glove animals just irresistibly sweet?

So now that I have some good ideas, it's time to get crafting. After all, Christmas is only about 4 months away!

Do you have plans for a homemade Christmas? What are some of gifts you'll be crafting?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Celebrating A New Season

and I'm not talking about Fall. Although I am pretty excited for cooler weather, jeans, boots and colorful tree lines!  

Our little family has been celebrating a new season in our lives. {I'm so thankful for seasons, aren't you? Life would be pretty boring living the entire thing in just one season!}

My hubby and I celebrated our four-year wedding anniversary! What an honor and a blessing to have spent the past four years building relationship with a man who loves me unconditionally and tells me that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. No matter whether I feel beautiful. To him, I am--at my worst, at my best, always. I thank God for him each day. For the man he is, the integrity he possesses, and the love he has for Burke and me.

I stepped into a brand new decade last week! Cheers to my 30s! Ben was terrified to turn 30. I, however, have always thought that I'd probably be my most glamorous at 30. {I was in for a rude awakening when, as an adult, I discovered that the Victoria's Secret models were more like 18 rather than the 30-somethings I thought they were as a child.} Glamorous or not, I am thankful for 30 in so many ways. Maybe some of you had figured out life much earlier than I did, but my journey was quite long and winding. By grace, I've arrived at a place where I know who I am {a daughter of the King, saved by grace, worthy and perfect in His sight} and I now have the confidence to raise my children in love that I did not have even a few years ago. I really believe that the best of life is ahead of me. So cheers to 30!

We are halfway to meeting Baby #2! This second pregnancy is flying by at an alarming speed! I'm sure it's mostly due to the fact that Burke keeps us so busy that we hardly have time to think about the life growing inside of me. But here we are--halfway to January 3! {By the way, this means there are less than 20 weeks til Christmas!} This pregnancy has been so completely opposite my first. I was sick for the first 12 weeks, I'm carrying higher, I felt movement {strong movement} very early on, no heartburn {praise the Lord!}, and I have absolutely no gut instinct as to what the gender of our baby will be. Although we never found out Burke's gender, I knew from day 1 that he was a boy. But this one--I just don't know. Ben and I did wake up the same morning having both had a dream the night before that it was a girl... But who knows? And we're not finding out again, as it makes it all the more exciting! Either way, whatever Baby #2 turns out to be, we are looking forward to finding out even how much more love we will experience.

I have begun my new job as a full-time mama! This is perhaps the most exciting part of this new season! Today is my first day in my new role and I couldn't be happier. Over the past four years, I have been blessed to learn how to be a good attorney from some of the best in town. And even more blessed by the support they gave when I decided to resign so that I could invest my whole self in my family. I spent the past year working part-time, but even with that amazing flexibility, I found myself unable to be fully present with my son on the days I was home because I was so busy trying to do all of the chores and cooking for the rest of the week. I am so thankful for this gift of time and I look forward to discovering all of the treasures it contains.

Are you experiencing or on the verge of experiencing a new season?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fully Present

photo courtesy of Ken Bruggeman Photography
 I remember when I first discovered Pinterest. I was instantly hooked, and I remember wondering when I would ever have time to actually make and do all those things I was pinning. Blogging and Facebook have the same allure. My iPhone makes it so easy to check email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and all those other things that "keep me connected" to the outside world. But I came to a point where I realized that these things were interfering from my ability to be fully present with my family. I would be "playing" with Burke while flipping through my Facebook news feed or "listening" to Ben while pinning. And I hated the fact that I felt so compelled to be present for an outside world and people I hardly knew while the people that I love so much got only my distracted and disingenuous presence.

Knowing that I want to be fully present for my family, friends and anyone else who has my ear for a moment, I have made a few changes. Set a few ground rules. Here are some examples of the ways in which I make sure to give all of my presence to those who mean the most to me:

~ Take time to have meals together. We always begin our day by sitting down together for breakfast. Before Burke {our new alarm clock}, that meant that I had to wake up earlier than necessary in order to make it all happen since Ben had to be out the door before me. But beginning our day as a family is worth the early wake up call. While lunch doesn't always happen at the same time for everyone, we always sit down for dinner as a family as well. With a toddler who goes to bed at 7, this means that Ben and I eat an early dinner, but again, this quality time is worth any inconvenience.

~ No phones/devices at the dinner table. Sure, every now and again the phone rings during our meal and one of us will answer it. But as a general rule, we try to avoid making calls, checking email, Facebook or any other smartphone trap during this time together.

~ No phones/devices in the car {except for long trips, in which case occasional iPhone checking is acceptable}. We use car rides as opportunities to catch up, share what's on our hearts and minds, and {mostly} entertain Burke. The kid lights up when you drill him on animal sounds and loves to "sing songs" of his own. It's really the sweetest thing! Usually, the only music playing in our car is what we're singing--we have great renditions of "This Land is Your Land" and "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" complete with harmony and gestures. However, if we sing ourselves dry, we do have some backup tunes from groups such as Lynyrd  Skynyrd, James Taylor, Jackson Browne and the like. One day, Burke will be old enough to choose his listening preferences, but until then, at least he'll get some culture!

~ Take time for play time. Instead of only halfheartedly playing with Burke, while trying to do one of ten other things at the same time, I have made concentrated efforts to take some play breaks throughout the day and focus on being fully present with him during those times. Sure he needs to learn independent play {and he's really great for being an only child} and sure I need to get things done {I mean, he'll be very unpleasant if there are no "nacks" for him to eat at dinnertime}. So with that in mind, I try to take time out from my tasks to spend just with him. To let him know that he's important. And that he can trust me to be present when he needs me.

Since I have made it my priority to give my full presence to my family, I have found such happiness and freedom in our interactions. I no longer feel pulled between two worlds. I have made the decision to be fully with them and I love picking up on all those details, intricacies and expressions that I would otherwise miss. It has added profound richness to my relationships and I wouldn't change it for the world!

What are some of the ways that you make time to be fully present with your family or friends? What are some family activities or traditions that are important to you?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Naturally Sweet?

Like sugar? Get a load of this:

Nursing Your Sweet Tooth
Created by:

When I stumbled across this infogram, I must admit I felt a bit sick to my stomach. The fact that our kids are consuming nearly 3 times the amount of sugar recommended daily makes me just so sad! No wonder we are facing epidemics such as childhood obesity!

We are a soda-free house. Mainly because we {thankfully} don't like the taste of it. My son has never tasted anything but water or milk in his 14-months on this planet. He's just like his mama in that he loves his water! As for the way we eat, I try to be intentional about replacing white processed sugar with more natural alternatives. I've used honey, maple syrup, cane sugar, agave nectar, maple sugar and  xylitol {birch sugar} to date. Since some baked goods just don't look appetizing with brown cane sugar {last year's peach jam is an off-putting shade of orangish-brown, but still tastes delicious} I do keep a bag of Wholesome Sweetners Fair Trade Certified organic sugar on hand. However, even this "white" sugar still has more of an unrefined blonde color.

While it's true that there are many products on the shelf that claim to be sugar-free, they are laden with artificial sweeteners rather than natural sweeteners and come with their own set of problems. {A whole other discussion}

While I cannot say that we are entirely free from sugar {although I generally prefer savory over sweet, if you make me a coconut cream pie or a gooey-bottomed shoofly pie, I will happily devour both in minutes} I can say that it is my goal to be more intentional about our consumption, especially for my children. My goal for this season is to eliminate the sugar from my canned fruits and to can them using their own natural juice or even just water instead.

What is your goal to reduce your sugar consumption? How have you already taken steps to replace sugar with natural sweeteners?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Steps Toward Sustainability: Cloth Diapering

If you know me at all, then you probably know that, too often, I quickly proclaim I will NEVER... only to find myself doing that very thing I just swore never to do. And while I'm sure I'll find myself in this position again at one point or another, I've really taken extra caution to avoid such comments since I've become a mama. {I hope I never hear myself say My kid would never...}

Growing up as the oldest of 7 kids in a home parented by a rather old-fashioned perspective, I begrudged each diaper change since they involved those blasted diaper pins! My fingers were always the sacrificial pin cushion. Needless to say, I confidently proclaimed quite a few times that I would NEVER use cloth diapers on my kids! Disposable diapers were much more civilized. And afterall, aren't we supposed to be making forward progress?

But there I was, expecting my first child and proudly announcing {like it had been my idea all along} that I would be using cloth diapers on my baby. And just as quickly, I also pointed out that I would not be using the dinosaurs of the past. No weapon-like hateful-looking diaper pins in my future, much to my husband's relief. No ugly rubber pants either! After a few months of researching cloth diapering options, we went with the Fuzzi Bunz all-in-one one-size diapers. Snaps instead of pins. Adjustable elastic around the legs and back to allow the diaper to fit 5 pounds all the way up to 35 pounds. And the best part was that they came in all sorts of brilliant colors.

They make great swim diapers too!
We have had such a great experience with our Fuzzi Bunz and have made every skeptic a convert in the process. Not only have we saved hundreds of dollars by not having to buy disposable diapers every week or month, but we feel good about the fact that we're not contributing bags full of stinky diapers to the landfill each week. Our son has not had a diaper rash even once in his 14 months. What’s even better is that our diapers don't look like they've been soiled after a good wash, and the more they're washed, the softer they get.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and/or experiences with cloth diapers!