November 14, 2013

  • Human Suffering and the Christian Perspective

    There is nothing like persistent physical suffering to destroy your sense of self sufficiency. It can bring you to your knees and destroy your destroy your will to fight…or even your desire to live. Sometimes I feel as though I could handle anything, if only I could feel strong enough in my own body. After years of struggling with the fatigue of a chronic illness, I find myself pregnant and suffering in ways that make my illness seem like a cakewalk. This pregnancy has, quite literally, almost killed me. I could go into all the grisly details, but this post is not about gathering a pity party…I have a greater purpose. So I will spare you But does human suffering have a place in the Christian life? I had a sweet friend who told me that ‘Christ bled so that you wouldn’t have to suffer like this’. I’m sure the early Christians would be interested to hear her perspective. There will be a day when he will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain and suffering. But that day is not today. Christians still suffer great physical pain and emotional anguish. How do you reconcile that womans’ belief with the suffering of so many saints? It is clear that we are still called to suffer. For now, we are to be patient in suffering. But why? What purpose does this suffering serve? For starters, it is the mark of a fallen world. Today, people no worse than myself will die. Will suffer unthinkable pain and anguish. There will be great human tragedy and loss that will make my personal suffering seem frivolous and irrelevant. If I dare feel sorry for myself, I need to gain a little perspective and realize how much worse it could really be. And if this life was the best of everything, if this was as good as it gets, that human suffering would be an enormous tragedy. But our hope is not in this life. If nothing else, I find that suffering reminds me we are not home yet. And in those moments, I find myself praising God that this life is not the best there is. The best is yet to come, and I am truly grateful for the reminder that it is from this he died to redeem us. It makes me long for home. It is in those moments of the most acute suffering that I feel his presence more closely than ever. And I must say, I wouldn’t trade that for anything. If I had known how hard this pregnancy would be, I would not have had the courage to choose this path for myself. But now, I am glad that I did…as much for what I have learned as for what treasure awaits me at the end of this journey. And is this pain worth comparing to the treasures I have been given? Hardly! I have three healthy, living children. I have a baby kicking away in my belly, thriving despite all odds stacked against him. I would choose any amount of physical pain over the anguish of losing one of them. I am so grateful that this is the only suffering I know right now. And even if that type of tragedy should strike, I will find his grace sufficient in the moment for even that kind of suffering.

    But suffering serves a secondary purpose as well. Reading through the old testament also reminds me that God used physical illness to bring attention to sin in one’s life. I have laid in bed desperately ill many times and asking God what I have done that His hand should fall so heavily on me, if there are any secret sins that I am guilty of. Pain is a great way to clarify one’s thoughts, to help me see myself as God sees me. He has brought many things to light that I had not even been aware of; sins that I had overlooked or thought were petty and irrelevant. It is not to say that illness is a punishment for sin. He has paid the penalty for our sin and no suffering we could put ourselves through would ever be enough to pay for our sin. It is not a punishment for sin but a megaphone, to alert us to the presence of sin in our lives. I cannot believe how many secret sins I have lived with, indulged in, on a regular basis without thinking much of them. So then it is clear that suffering does indeed have a place in the Christian life. It should not surprise us when we are suffering…we should learn to expect it. So then, when we are called to suffer, let us not waste it in bitterness or self-pity. Let us embrace it, being grateful for the opportunity to suffer for a purpose, and to learn the lessons he has for us without wasting one minute of it.

May 28, 2013

  • How to eat and Why

    There is an overabundance of information on diet and nutrition in America.  You might say to yourself that you would like to find out what is the best way to feed yourself and your family.  You purchase a book, and read cover to cover. But what you have gained is not necessarily an accurate representation of our dietary needs.  For example, pick up one book on nutrition and you read “carbs are evil!! avoid at all costs!”.  Another book says: “Meat and dairy are the real demons, be a Vegan!!”  Still another book recommends “eat a ‘balanced’ diet” which incorporates meat, veggies, carbs and dairy. This method mandates a quarter of your diet should be meat, one quarter grains, one quarter veggies, one fourth fruits, and one fourth dairy (if you are counting, that makes five fourths – welcome to the new USDA food pyramid!) I am strangely skeptical about anything that the goverment recommends, so clearly, I cannot accept these guidlines without some serious proof.  But each of these methods have convincing arguments and if you research only one of those methods, you would be convinced that you had found the answer to weight loss, diabetes, heart disease and even world hunger.  But if you study an alternate view, you will find claims just as convincing that contradict everything you read in the first place.  So what is a person supposed to do?  How  are we supposed to eat and why?


    The answer, I think, lies in what you hope to accomplish by your diet.  Are you trying to lose 20 pounds in a hurry?  Or are you trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle in the long run?  Quick weight loss experts typically mandate a high protein, no carb diet. Forbidding fruit and most vegetables, they hope to starve your body into losing weight. Their mascot is the lion-lean, muscular and fast -a carnivore. They claim that a low fat lean meat diet will reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall  health and vitality.  But what they really mean is that when you lose 40 pounds, your risk of heart disease goes down and you have more energy because you are not carrying around a 200 pound body. Many of the healthy changes in this diet typically come from cutting out processed foods.  They advocate shopping the perimeter of the grocery store and avoiding all the aisles.  This is great advice for people who think mac n cheese and instant rice constitutes a meal.  People who live on the standard american diet and suddenly switch to a low carb diet will definitely lose weight and feel better and healthier.  But over time, their cholesterol will go up and they will begin to experience fatigue, autoimmune disorders (including thyroid and diabetes) and an astronomically higher risk of cancer. 

    The second option is what the US Goverment currently recommends; a balanced diet incorporating fruits, veggies, grains, protein and dairy.  By the way, when they say ‘protein’ what they mean is meat.  After all, protein is found in dairy too…but apparently that merits its own classification.  And completely ignored in this meal plan is the fact that plant based foods are rich with protein.  So it seems rather silly for them to call it ‘protein’ when what they really are advocating is meat.  That argument aside, I have always thought that the balanced approach is best. After all, God did not forbid meats and obviously the problem is with excess; everything in moderation is good.  But what do we define as ‘moderation’? How much meat and dairy would be dangerous? And are we really getting enough nutrients from those recommended servings of veggies? I think it is important to look at what everyone accepts as the best sources of nutrition, ones that have all the benefits and no drawbacks: fruits and veggies.  Every day I read an article talking about a ‘new’ study that shows that blueberries prevent Alzheimers, broccoli prevents cancer, carrots are good for eyesight, etc. etc.  Obviously, these are well known facts by now. Why they continue to research it, is beyond me.  Oh, I know; is it because we still have the highest morbidity rate in the world when it comes to cancer ? Oh yes, that’s it.  But how can this be?  If we are the most privileged country in the world, with access to all the food we want, why are we dying of these diseases?  Clearly, there is more to it than that. Admittedly, few people follow the recommended dietary guidelines.  But we all know that too much animal protein can lead to heart disease and cancer. So let us look for a moment at the research that indicates what a ‘safe’ amount of animal protein (eg meat and dairy) is. 

    All of the research that I have done indicates that that amount is less than 10% of our daily intake.  This is the recommended amount for those who wish to avoid heart disease and cancer.  Ten percent is considerably less than what americans typically eat today.  For a person on a 2000 calorie diet, this would be about 40 grams of protein a day.  This means that your three recommended serving sizes of dairy every day, plus a couple of eggs, would put you over your limit.  That doesn’t even count the meat you are supposed to eat: one fourth of your plate at each meal, according to A small 10 oz fillet mignon would run you about  50-60 grams of protein all by itself - well over your daily limit. Don’t bother with the cheese and bacon on your baked potato; or the dressing and cheese on your salad.  Or the eggs at breakfast; or that glass of milk and that butter on your toast.  Get the picture?  If we know that we have to keep our diet at 10% or less of animal protein to prevent cancer and heart disease, than why does the USDA recommend eating 25% of our diet from animal protein?  Crazy. 

    The third and final dietary plan is a vegetarian or vegan diet.  While I have never enjoyed meat, and going vegetarian would be an easy change for me, I must confess that giving up milk, cheese and sour cream is a different story.  But those who advocate a Vegan lifestyle point to Casein (the protein in dairy) as one of the most toxic proteins to the human body. Our highly processed dairy products are regarded  by our cells as a threat to our bodies.  In response, our cells attack the dairy molecules and try to kill them and rid our body of that threat.  But the casein protein is so similar to our pancreatic cells, and other organs, that it often becomes confused and turns to attack our pancreas, thyroid, and other organs as well.  This is an autoimmune disease.  And if dairy causes it, it makes sense that cutting it out could be your best option for curing yourself.  The science is there; in greater detail than I care to admit.  The ironic thing I have noticed about researching the other two dieteary plans is that there seems to be little or no science behind it.  These people make convincing and logical arguments for why their plan is the best.  But without hard facts, we could logically work our way into a very wrong conclusion.  What seems to make sense, is not always right.  The only one of the three arguments that seems to have an enormous amount of research and science to prove its effectiveness and safety is the Vegan diet.  Their mascot is the horse: lean, strong and fast – a vegetarian. Also very convincing.

    What I am after is the truth.  I don’t want to read any more books or hear any more convincing arguments about how we should be eating and what would cure all our health woes.  I have struggled for two years with a progressivley worsening thyroid disorder and I am tired; I want to stop feeling awful and I want to get well! I have tried every healthy diet out there - including one that cut out all grains, beans, nuts, dairy,meat, and most veggies too.  This left me nothing but greens and a few veggies to eat.  Which I was not supposed to mix.  I could only have greens or a veggie; heaven forbid I mix the two; the whole diet would go wrong.  This was honestly too hard and I didn’t stick with it more than a few days. But I cannot imagine that God intended for us to avoid the fruits and veggies.  Something inside simply screams out that that is wrong.  He didn’t make apples and bananas as forbidden fruits just to tempt us…as I recall, there was only one forbidden fruit in the garden and it was probably something different from anything we’ve ever seen. I cannot get on board with any diet that calls fruits and veggies bad.  I just want the truth.  And so for this, I turn to the greatest source of truth I know: the Bible. 

     Believe it or not, the Bible has a lot to say about food; what we should eat and what we should avoid.  The Old Testament gives a long list of dos and don’ts about meats. Many of which are now recognized by the medical community as a healthy standard of which meats to avoid. But this list of forbidden meats in the Old Testament is then in the New Testament declared ‘clean’ and good for food.  (although I think God is trying to prove a greater point here and these forbidden meats should still be avoided and only consumed on occasion)  But how often did these people eat meat at all?  It seems to be more of a celebratory thing; killing the fatted calf for a special occasion or when company came from far away - a rarity in those days. After all, it was very hard to preserve meat in a hot climate.  It had to be eaten rather quickly. And you couldn’t have an endless supply of goats and cows on hand to slaughter; only the very wealthy might have access to that luxury. So what was their main staple diet? Grains. Fruits. Vegetables. And, if you lived by the sea, you might have fish. But I decided to go back even further, to the book of Genesis: to creation before the Fall. What were we supposed to eat before the world went wrong?

    Genesis 2:29 “And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed which is upon the face of all the earth and every tree in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed, to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth wherin there is life, I have given every green herb for meat.”

    Interesting.  In the world he created, there was never supposed to be killing of animals for meat; in fact he calls the fruits and herbs the ‘meat’ for all living beings.  I suppose this means that even the lions were not carnivores.  I think it is interesting that he does not forbid any plants at all.  It is all good for food.  I don’t think he mentions counting calories either.  If you were hungry, you would just eat, and that was that.  So simple!  So much freedom!  But when did meat come into the picture?  Only after the fall of man; when the world became fallen…when the ground was cursed:

    Genesis 3:17-19 “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it was thou taken; for dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return.”

    It makes sense then, because the ground is cursed, that man might not be able to get all the food he needs from plants.  He might toil the soil and work hard, but then a storm might come and wash away all his fields of grain.  In the winter, without access to fruit or veggies, he might be forced to turn to animals to supply food for his family.  So it seems that they ate what they could from the ground and supplemented with meat as necessary.  In fact, when God provides the Israelites with food from heaven it is some strange type of grain that cooks into a bread.  He is ‘The Bread of Life’.  But he provides them with quail on occasion. Again, mostly a plant based diet with meat on occasion.  And so it continued this way for thousands of years.  Even early americans did not typically eat meat except in winter, when there was no fresh produce to eat.  In the summer they ate Grains and fresh fruits, greens and vegetables. If they were wealthy enough to own a cow and chickens, they ate milk, cheese and eggs as well.  In the winter, they killed the pig or cow and used it to get them through the winter, along with a few wild deer or a bear.  They would also eat their stored grains and cheeses all winter long.  And so we see that never before has an entire population been able to consume any amount of meat they want…they might have eaten as many grains and veggies as they could, but there certainly wasn’t meat every day-or even every month.  This then is consistent with the science of keeping your animal proteins to a tiny percentage of your diet.  One more thought on this; most of our teeth were made for chewing grains and vegetables.  Only four of our teeth are sharp enough to tear meat…this is roughly 10% of our teeth.  So it makes sense that we would not eat large portions of meat. 

    When I have been on a low carb, high meat diet, I have always felt there was something wrong about it.  But with the Vegan diet, I feel like it is the way it was meant to be.  The way God intended.  I have been Vegan for 2 weeks now and it is the easiest diet I have ever attempted.  I really enjoy it!  I find so much variety and enrichment and I feel so much better.  I am not opposed to the occasional meat or dairy, but I don’t want it to be part of my daily diet.  And I do have one other thought about dairy: God promised the Hebrews a land ‘flowing with milk and honey’.  So I can’t believe that he meant for us to avoid dairy altogether.  Probably it has more to do with the way we process dairy these days that makes it toxic for us.  I think perhaps Raw milks and cheeses would be a beneficial addition to our diet.  But there hasn’t been a great deal of research on this topic.  Most studies involve only the pasteurized milk – which we know to be toxic and should be avoided altogether.  The main argument against animal protein is that when we exceed what we need for growth, it becomes toxic to our body and causes all sorts of health problems.  Because my children are still growing, and I feel that it is hard for them to get all the necessary nutrients from the veggies that they won’t eat, I think they actually need the dairy and egg products.  But not in the typical american quantities.  As long as they are still growing, I plan to incorporate eggs and dairy into their diet in limited amounts.  And hopefully, over time, they will learn to love veggies as much as I do.

    So how should you eat?  Try a Vegan diet!  Make a breakfast of fruit, a salad for lunch, and grains and beans for supper (think stir fry or jambalaya without the meat).  Try fish once a week, instead of meat at every meal.  Cut out the dairy for sure!  If you have access to raw milks, they can be very beneficial for young children.  Eat as many fruits and veggies as you want!  You need all the vitamins and nutrients in them.  They are remarkably hydrating to your body as well.  If you still need more convincing, or if you want to see the proof behind the Vegan diet, there are a number of books you can read:

    The China Study – very detailed and in depth – a lot of science but still down to earth enough for the average reader

    The Kind Diet -by Alicia Silverstone – short & sweet and written in very simple language, easy to read and includes a bunch of recipes.  This won’t give you the science and research behind the diet, but it will provide many convincing proofs.

    The Skinny B***h – Yes; that says what you think it says. I can’t believe they named a book that! I hesitated to even read this one myself; it has a ton of profanity in it, but it also is a very easy read – I read it in a day- and it gives a lot of detail about what goes into the slaughterhouse killings of the meat we consume (that’s enough to make you vegan right there!)

    There are a lot of other books you could read, but these are a good place to start.  Just a note, when you are reading  The Kind Diet and The Skinny Bi**h, you will hear a lot about cruelty to animals and the environment.  Don’t roll your eyes and skip that section.  God commanded us to care for the animals, to care for the earth.  And when you read what really happens to these animals, how they live and how they die, you will see that we are not doing as he commanded.  It seems that every time you hear someone say something about cruelty to animals or protecting the environment, the Christians all roll their eyes and talk about the socialistic agenda.  Well I’m sorry that these beliefs happen to be held by the wrong political party, but shame on us for not being the first to promote the ideas.  We should have been first in line to prevent unnecessary cruelty to animals.  And we should care about the environment enough to not waste the resources he has given us.  When you read about how these animals are mistreated, you will feel as guilty as I for allowing this to continue.  And we are enabling this by creating an excessive demmand for meat. I’m not advocating a boycott or anything; but I am saying we should cut down on our meat intake.  If I haven’t convinced you yet, think about E Coli and other fun diseases you can avoid by skipping meat. 

    One last thought; meat and dairy might be okay to eat in a perfect world, but in the presence of carcinogens (cancer causing compounds) it dramatically increases our risk of cancer.   And since we are all exposed to dramatic amounts of carcinogens (in our water, food, etc) we need to take very seriously how much animal protein we consume. And though I advocate eating organic produce to avoid chemicals and pesticides, you should know that meat has 400 times the amount of chemicals and pesticides as ordinary produce.  So if you are eating a lot of meat, you might as well skip the organic apples; there’s enough damage done by the meat to make the apples irrelevant!

    Bon Appetit!

    Ps. I am NOT advocating a cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch diet.  Your grains should be whole grains and you should eat lots of fruits and vegetables.  You shouldn’t be eating packaged food at all!  I had a friend tell me once how excited she was to discover that Oreos were Vegan (!) and then go on to describe how disappointed she was that they hadn’t lost weight on their Vegan diet.  Fruits. Veggies. Whole Grains.  Got it? This diet is best for your health, and best for your waistline too. 

January 16, 2013

  • Me…in real life

    Somehow, I have gotten a reputation for being the Mom that can do it all.  I can blog, make my own bread, play with the kids and read a zillion books a week, visit parks and museums….and keep a spotless house.  Let me dispel the myth for you a bit:


    There…feel better now?  This is how my kitchen looks right now; it is 1:21pm and the breakfast dishes are still on the table, the laundry basket is in the middle of the kitchen and I haven’t been home since 8:30 this morning.  In order to write this blog, I had to dig my laptop out from under the mountain of papers on my desk.  If you could see inside my mind, you would know that I am the most disorganized, scatterbrained person trying to make it all work…feeling hopelessly overwhelmed by the emails I haven’t answered, the drawers I haven’t organized, the books I have only half read, and the games I forgot to play with my 5 year old. Oh…and the Christmas decorations I still haven’t packed away. As much as I want you to think I’ve got it all together; I don’t.  In fact, though I want you to think I’m managing this three ring circus quite well, I find a great deal of pressure from those who expect to see an orderly house when they come over.  SOOO, I am posting this photo so that you will know how I live, in real life.  And if you drop by unexpectedly, you will expect this kind of chaos…so there is no pressure to live up to higher expectations of perfection. THE PERFECT WOMAN IS A MYTH! I DON’T have it all together! I’m just as overwhelmed as you! You can’t do it all…so just do what is important.  And let’s face it; a clean house doesn’t last forever…or even for five minutes.  And I am tired of feeling like I can’t have someone over for a playdate until I can learn to keep my house clean every.waking.moment. I am the type of person that has no problem with spontaneously deciding to go to the zoo, leaving the house full of dirty clothes and dishes.  If the four walls are closing in, I will load up the kids and go to Target, the park, the Museum, or wherever with no concern for what I will face when I come home.  But I hope that this gives you the freedom to do the same.  Expect nothing great from me.  Just like you, I worry that I spend too much time cleaning house and not enough time with my kids.  I too struggle with whether or not I am doing enough towards enriching my children’s lives – spiritually and educationally.  I have guilt.  I feel like a failure.  I AM NORMAL!!!   Let me close with this quote I saw once:

    “This house is clean enough to be healthy, and dirty enough to be happy”  That sums it up pretty well :)

December 18, 2012

  • So this is Christmas

    I hug my five year old tight, as I watch news of another school shooting unfold with even more horror.  Five year olds.  I have one of those.  It could’ve been mine.  I sit at the foot of his bed late at night with tears running down my cheeks.  I am reminded that we are not guaranteed a single day with our children.  Indeed, we had been told that Caleb might not live to birth.  And here he sleeps, already five years old.  And bedtime is such a struggle…but when I think of all the Moms who will never tuck their little boys in bed again…I treasure every minute.  Wrapping Christmas presents one by one.  I can’t help but thinking of the presents wrapped around the tree for children who never came home from school.  Who won’t be there for Christmas morning.  And when I think of that selfish man, who wanted his suicide to be noticed and so decided to take 28 lives with his.  Well, I confess I want that man to burn in hell for what he did.  And it wasn’t even my son. 

    But what if it had been my son? Could I ever forgive that man? Suppose he had lived.  Would I pray for his salvation? Or what if my son had to die at the hands of an evil man as the means of that man’s salvation? Isn’t that what Christmas is about; a holy God sending his son to be killed by evil men…for their own salvation. It isn’t really fair. If it had been my son, I would want justice…I would want that man to suffer in Hell for what he did. But not God. How can he even love us enough that he would do that?  So this is Christmas then.  The shadow of the cross, a reminder that it was my sin that put him there…and it was for my salvation that he died.  How could God love us so much?   Remember his love this Christmas.

    “For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish but have everlasting life.”  John 3:16

December 5, 2012

  • Christmas with Kids

    I remember my first Christmas without my family. Being from a family of 13, there is joy, exuberance, and general chaos on Christmas morning. I know, the Grinch would have freaked out at all the noise, NOISE, NOISE!!! But that was what Christmas meant to me. So it is understandable that my first Christmas morning as a newlywed, waking up alone in a quiet house, was quite a shock. It was sooo quiet!! SOOOO lonely! Last Christmas was our first one with all three children. Oh what fun!! There was noise again; joy, delight. It truly felt like Christmas. This year, I suspect will be even more fun.

    In preparation for the ‘best Christmas ever’ I decided to gear the Christmas decor towards the kids. We’ve typically done a very monochramatic, silver blue and snow white tree. Not very cool, if you’re a kid! So this year, I pulled out all the stops and built a Candy Land themed Christmas tree. Complete with a gumdrop garland, lollipops, peppermints, and candy canes. What a cool idea!! I did not, however, consider that my children would deem these ‘ornaments’ edible. (they are in fact home-made entirely of styrofoam and glitter paint) I also did not consider that the glitter would procreate and find it’s way into every corner of my home-including, but not limited to, our food. (so much for eating organic! I’m trying not to think about the toxic chemicals that might be involved in glitter paint…or the hyperactive effects of Red Dye #40…in fact, that explains a lot about the children’s behaviour lately!) Still, despite the harmful effects of ingesting styrofoam and glitter paint, I think the kids have really enjoyed the Candy Land tree. And it’s so much fun to see all of the glittering colors on our tree. But after this is over, if I never see glitter paint again, it will be too soon! So I snapped a few pictures before every ornament is ‘eaten’ off of the tree

    November 311

                                                                                  The Tree

    November 314

                                                        A closeup of the gumdrop garland, lollipops, etc

    November 317

               See how nicely these wrapped gifts look under the tree?  Nearly all of them have  been opened to some degree since I snapped this photo.  How did I not realize that this would happen?!!  But instead of spending my time re-wrapping them, I am sitting here blogging about it.   


    November 324

    The Candy Land Centerpiece on our dining table…the camera does not do justice to all the sparkly glitter

    November 351

    I also did not recognize the danger in putting real cranberries all over my house. They look just like grapes, but are surprisingly more bitter. I keep finding these chewed up and spit out all over my floor (Miriam strikes again! The boys are old enough to know better!)

    November 339

    The candy canes on this tree are genuine food products…as such, they have been disappearing at a steady rate

    November 135

    I taught Caleb to ride his bike this Spring. This consisted of my steadying the bike, giving him a push, and he was off and riding – that was that! He’s been riding extremely well ever since.  This was his first bike accident, which as you can see, he is very proud of!


    November 077

    Miriam is a little young for a purse and shoe fetish! Nevertheless, she is ver opinionated about her accesories.  She doesn’t consider herself properly dressed until she has a bow, shoes, and handbag.  In this case, she chose the lunchbox.

    Kids christmas pic 2012

    This is the best Christmas photo we got of the kids.  A very typical Jackson expression!  It makes me laugh :)

    Family Christmas pic 2012

                                                             Our 2012 family Christmas photo

                                                              Merry Christmas to all of y’all!!


September 27, 2012

  • Eating out with kids

    We love to eat out.  At least, we did…before we had kids.  Now eating out with kids is a horror to be avoided when possible, and a hardship to be endured only when necessary.  But occasions still present themselves when we are expected to dine in public with our offspring.  And so it happens that I recently found myself in a kids-eat-free Mexican restaurant.  We arrived with all the pomp and circumstance of a herd of elephants.  Kids took off running into the dining area unbeknownst to parents.  While said parents were trying to negotiate with the hostess for a quiet corner of the restaurant.  We prefer to sit in a back room,where our noise and flying queso won’t disturb the other diners.  But already, the disturbance has occurred.  We reign in our children and remind them of the ground rules that we had rehearsed in the car only moments before, and make our conspicuous way to our table.  The restaurant is packed and noisy.  Just the type of place we parents like to go; the noisier the better.  Perhaps they will not hear our screeching daughter above the din of the other restraunt patrons. 

    Any parent knows that the main goal when eating out is to 1) order as soon as you sit down 2) eat as quickly as possible and 3)get out of there before your kids embarass you.  We sat down and promptly ordered three free kids meals and an adult entree for Aaron and I to split.  The waiter took our order and promised to serve us in a timely and efficient manner.  (I guess he wants us out of there as fast as we do!) Then we struggled for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for the food to come (it really was almost 11 minutes!!) Aaron and I took turns walking Miriam (aka the ‘screeching butterfly’) around the restaraunt and outside…while the other would do damage control at the table with the boys.  This usually includes trying to make sure that we don’t lay down a thick carpet of chips on the floor, not coloring on anything but the coloring sheets, and trying to keep their cups upright (the waiter forgot the lids!!) 

    Finally, the food arrives.  Or at least, the kids food arrives.  The dear waiter was probably thinking he was doing us a favor by bringing out their food first.  But having not even put our own order into the computer yet, we realized it would be another agonizing 15 minutes before our dinner arrived.  The kids devoured their food in 90 seconds.  Miriam had rice in her hair and was having a field day with the queso (who puts queso on a kids’ plate???)  We waited as long as we could.  I was trying to clean up Miriam when I looked up to see Jackson was UNDER the table (ick!) with only his legs sticking out. Caleb came over and tripped over his legs, busting his chin on the table.  He screamed.  Miriam screeched loudly.  Jackson stood up under the table, and bumped his head…more screaming.  A hush falls over the noisy restaraunt as everyone turns to observe the three ring circus going on in our corner.  At this precise moment, the waiter arrives with our food.  “Can we have that to go?” I asked, Miriam’s queso streaming down my shirt ”And our check too, please” 



    SOoooo…I realized I never posted pics from our trip to Seaside Florida. Here are a few so that I can remember we actually took that trip :)


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    Caleb has a thing for Pirate ships.  We had to stop and see this one on our way!

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    Our Sago Palms.  I used to love the way the new leaves would blossom overnight and unfurl.  I was in awe of it every time! But after our neighbors dog died of sago palm poising, they had to go :(

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    Jackson’s birthday breakfast; chocolate chip pancakes on the ‘Happy birthday’ plate

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    Sleeping together in the beach house

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    Our sunset view.  Breathtaking!!

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    The house we stayed in on Rosewalk.  Aaron fell down the stairs and had a softball of an ankle!

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    Miriam, first time at the beach :)

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    What a doll!  Get a look at that gorgeous sand and stunning water!  I can’t believe how many sharks we saw in the water!  I guess they have them in Galveston too, but the water is so dirty, we never see them ;o

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    Miriam’s ankles are always crossed; even when it is inconvenient to do so – like in the highchair where she has to squeeze both legs into one side!

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    We saw exact replicas of the Nina and the Pinta (Christopher Colombus ships) they were tiny!  I asked how people could walk through them, but they said the average man was only 4’11″ (my how tall we’ve grown!!)

July 30, 2012

  • I remember When

    I remember when my belly was large with my third child.  I lay on the couch, miserably, violently ill. Only moving from the sofa to run to the bathroom and puke. The boys running wild and destroying the house in front of my helpless eyes.  I remember then, rubbing my belly and sighing.  “This one is a girl.  A nice, gentle, quiet girl.”  The thought comforted me.  It helped me make it through nine months and four days of miserable sickness.  Even the thought of that pregnancy makes me naseaus. 

    And now that my darling girl is here, I know it was worth it all.  But when people ask if we are ready for another, my eyes grow wide and I know that I CANNOT be pregnant again. I could not endure it. At least not yet.  And that sweet and gentle, quiet little girl?  Well, God has a sense of humor I suppose.  I can’t help but grin, even laughing at the idea.  She is now fifteen months old and her personality is clearly evident.  Quiet?  What a laugh;  she is the loudest child of the three!  Her happy screeches are piercing.  And her screams?  Can be heard for miles.  She has a bit of a temper.  Mostly happy, until you do something she doesn’t like.

    While visiting my in-laws this month, I struggled to get her to sleep every night.  Even though it was nearly midnight, she was still bouncy and energetic (extrovert) and had resisted multiple attempts to put her down for the night.  Finally, exasperated, I laid her down and decided she would have to scream it out.  And scream she did.  I knew by the fact that she was drawing in a long, deep breath, it was going to be a big one.  I raced to the door and shut it and ran down the hall about 20 feet to shut the hall door too.  I didn’t make it in time.  The blood curdling scream caught me with my hand still on the hall door.  All heads whipped around, eyes wide.  My Mother in law ran out from the room where she was getting ready for bed. He face was full of alarm.  I guess she thought we had dropped the baby or something.  I started giggling, all these people so shocked by her screams.  It is comical how dramatic she can be.  Her deliberate tantrums, feet kicking on the ground, thrashing about, is very reminiscent of Caleb.  But the screams are much louder. 

    Even in the church nursery they always remark…every Sunday…how this one is so different from the other children her age.  She is strong and active.  She climbs the slides, the bookcases, and on the tops of tables.  Though she is my third, I am still taken aback by what she does.  She is the only one that I have allowed to go up and down the stairs at this age.  She does it so quickly (especially going down…she always beats me downstairs)  It scares me to death, but I am done arguing with her over it.  As soon as they started crawling, I trained all three of them not to go up (or down) the stairs.  This only worked for a few months with Miriam.  Then it was clear that I better train her how to safely travel the stairs, for she was going to do it one way or another. 

    I remember when, laying on that sofa pregnant, I thought of how she and I would snuggle as I sang her to sleep every night.  She did give me a few months of snuggles.  That’s more than Caleb ever did.  But at about 8 months, the cuddles stopped completley.  Only one night in twenty will she let me hold her.  Most times, she struggles out of my grasp and points to the bed.  It makes my heart break.  How I would love to rock her and cuddle her.  But she wants none of it.  So much love I have to give! I suppose I have to find another way to show it.  How I ache to hold her cheek against mine as I used to do.  The only thing I can count on is brushing her hair.  This soothes her, for some reason.  She is still.  (and she is never still)  She lets me brush it, stroke after stroke.  Her breathing slows and she seems at peace.  I am lucky if I can sneak in a quick snuggle, before the spell is broken and she is all wiggles again.  Why won’t she let me hold her?

    The car rides with Miriam are beginning to remind me of Caleb too.  Caleb was 2 years and 9 months old before we were able to take the 3 hour drive to my in laws without him screaming the.entire.way.  He would get so worked up, his face would turn purple and run with sweat.  He would work himself into a panic and then, he would vomit.  After a few dozen times of this, it started to infuriate me.  Having to completely disassemble the carseat and cover and wash it down took hours.  “If you vomit all over your carseat” I would scream above the noise “I’m going to be so angry!”  It didn’t work…he still vomited.  “Fine!  Fine!!!  You can just sit in it until we get home!”  I fumed.  Poor Miriam.  She finds herself likewise trapped in the tortorous carseat.  She too works herself into hyperventilation and gags and pukes on her carseat.  It doesn’t make me as angry though.  I bought a cute carseat cover that goes over top of the other one, which makes it much easier to slip off and wash (which I must do at least once a week…or anytime we take a drive longer than 9 1/2 minutes) 

     To make matters worse, we still can’t turn her carseat forward. The law states they must be one year and twenty pounds.  But the AAP states they must be as close to age two as possible.  At a year, Miriam was only 16 pounds. At 15 months, she is a long way from age two…and a long way from 20 pounds!  I don’t think we will make it to two years before we turn that silly seat around and buy a few moments of peace for ourselves and our child. 

    So, she is not the quiet, mild girl I thought she would be.  But she is so exactly like my personality, that I cannot help but grin.  She is at a hard age.  Messes, trouble.  I remember this age with the others.  Last night, I was bathing her with Jackson.  I took her out first and dried her off and sat her on the rug beside me.  She was off and crawling, out the door and down the hall in the 30 seconds it took me to dry off Jackson.  I came out of the bathroom to check on her.  She was crawling as fast as she could…and pooping the whole way!!  HORRORS!  On my carpet!! I was immobilized at the sight.  She suddenly realized what she was doing and turned to play with the stuff.  Before I could reach her, she had grabbed a huge chunk of poo and began to mousse her hair with it.  THIRTY SECONDS.  That’s all it takes for her to make an enormous mess.  It’s actually funny…now.    I love that girl; her spirit and spunk.  Her belly laughs.  So what if she is not a mild little girl?  I wouldn’t know what to do with one of those.  I love my darling girl. 

July 24, 2012

  • It seems we are too busy living life these days that I seldom find the time to document it!  I finally freed these photos from my cell phone.  Almost 9 months of pictures!!  They are blurry on the website, but they look pretty decent when printed.  Snapshots of our life that I wanted to remember, when I didn’t have a camera handy :)   I’ve included a dialogue of each photo, so our kids will always know what we did together when they were growing up; our favorite habits, family traditions, etc



    Jackson enjoys sorting things by type, size, color, etc.  I forsee an Engineer!


    In our pajamas, on a cold January day, headed out for breakfast at La Madeleine


    We went and saw the Railroad Museum in Galveston.  Not as nice as I remember.  Apparently Hurrican Ike was really devastating for the museum.  9feet of water inside!


    On the trail by our house again


    Jackson and his beloved cake pop from starbucks.  He enjoyed it so much that he cradled it gently for THREE HOURS without eating it!!  He finally at the sprinkles off, and then the whole cake pop (only because it was naptime and he was forced to eat it!)  He treasured it so much! Totally worth the $1.25. 


    My sister Elaine and I at Hannah’s wedding.  These Bridesmaids dresses were gorgeous!  I will definitely be wearing it again :)


    I tried to take an Easter picture of my darling!


    On the ‘Great Mountain’ as the kids have named it.  This is the trail at the end of our cul-de-sac.  A real treasure!  We walk it all the time.  This is obviously the dead of winter, as you can see by our sweaters :)


    This Komodo Dragon turned and looked directly at Caleb.  Only inches away from his face, he stared at him intently, slithering tongue working its way in and out.  Creepy!!


    The very last picture (ever!) of Jackson sucking his beloved pacifier.  He had found the very last one hidden away in a corner of the toybox.  (this was when he was 2 1/2)


    Caleb the Pirate, on his 5th birthday


    Miriam started pulling up the day she turned 8 months!  Here is her triumphant pose :)


    My sister Hannah got married in March.  Here she is dancing with Daddy


    We signed the boys up for Soccer Shots. It was HILARIOUS to watch Jackson out there!  Caleb was really good at it. It was impossible to hold Miriam! She chased the boys around as much as we would allow. She is fascinated with tasting textures and frequently stops to lick the floor and experience a new texture on her tongue (ick!!)


    Caleb is quite the artist!  We had to put a limit on the number of papers; 8 per day.  We are tearing down whole forests to support his passion! This is a monochramatic piece, but the ones where he uses color are stunning! His choice in colors is highly unusual and absolutely beautiful.  He has a real knack for color. 


    Visiting the dinosaurs at the Zoo in April


    I signed up all three kids to receive a free Baskin Robbins ice cream on their birthday.  Here is Jackson hugging the mascot and thanking him for a free ice cream :)


    At the Zoo again, with cousins Susannah and Lydia


    I always do a special breakfast for Valentine’s Day :)


    Caleb and Jackson, in their wedding outfits for my sisters wedding.  We didn’t manage to get a single picture of our whole family dressed up for the wedding!


    Caleb loves to dress up and accessorize!


    We used to cut the boy’s hair ourselves.  But Caleb was so dramatic about it, that he would get worked up and scream and yell, drawing the attention of the entire neighborhood (we were doing it outside).  These horrific haircuts often culminated in a complete meltown and Caleb would vomit all over everything.  That kid could really be dramatic!  And people tell me girls are dramatic.  I don’t think Miriam will be able to top that!  So now we get their hair cut by the same guy who does Aaron’s hair.  We always play it up as a fun deal, with lollipops and a special outing to Fudruckers for dinner afterwards.  Memories we will treasure :)


    Miriam, all dressed up for Valentines


    Aaron and I took a trip to Las Vegas last November.  We LOVED it!  Though I was a little bit embarassed to tell people where we were going.  As an Interior Designer, I have always dreamed of going to Vegas, where money is no object and the designs are as big and beautiful as you can possibly imagine!  We stayed in the Venetian – this image is from INSIDE the hotel!  Couldn’t believe it…they even have a ‘Grand Canal’ waterway with Gondolas.  Since we had been to the real Venice, Italy, it was really cool to stay here :)  


    Miriam came with us; she was only 6 months old at the time.  We loved having her all to ourselves for this trip!  I will have to post the pictures from my camera later.



    Aaron is a wonderful father!  Here he is reading to the boys after work.


    We went to a Halloween costume party…Aaron is an LSU fan, Jackson is a Cowboy, Caleb a pirate. I am Pocohantas and Miriam is a Pink Powder puff ;) I love that I was able to pull all of these costumes together in twenty five minutes! Aaron also has his face painted with the LSU logo.


    A cool Tractor birthday party we went to. Caleb ended up falling over the back of this tractor and the kids driving rolled over him. It was scary at the time, but would’ve been a hilarious video, had I been prepared for the event with a video camera in hand :)


    The wildfire that happened dangerously close to our home last Summer; the worst drought in known history for Texas.  What a difference a year makes!  We’ve had so much rain this year we are practically living in a marsh!


    Caleb’s first year in school!  Here he is doing a book presentation for his Pre-K class.  (he is dressed as a Pirate) his book of choice was “How to make and Apple Pie and See the world”, by Marjorie Flack.  An adorable children’s book!

July 17, 2012

  • The Kitchen Remodel

    We’ve been dreaming of a kitchen remodel since we moved into this house, nearly 7 years ago.  For someone who uses the kitchen as much as I do, this was a worthwhile investment! Because of my experience as an Interior Designer, I was able to serve as my own general contractor…this saved us lots of money!  Here are the before and after pictures.  I can’t believe how much bigger and brighter it feels!!

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    We removed this 24″ wall.  It didn’t really serve a purpose. 


    I can’t believe how much it opened up the space!  I can actually see the kitchen window from our living room now! 

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    A daytime shot :)   The bar area may one day have bar stools.

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    The before kitchen had a solitary light fixture in the middle that hung so low, my tall brothers were always bumping their heads on it!  We removed the fixture and instead put one over the sink, one over the bar, and six recessed lights in the ceiling.

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    We also set the cabinets back from the window by 12″ on each side.  This opened it up a lot! Don’t crowd the window! We removed the soffit, which helped the ceilings feel much higher and not so shadowy.

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    Notice how short and stubby the upper cabinets look before? And also notice how the soffit casts a shadow on the ceiling, giving it a cave like feel.

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    Much better!! We don’t even own a set of every day dishes…we just use china.  So it made sense to display the china in beautiful glass front cabinets

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    The fact that the fridge stuck out 13″ has always bugged me!  So we decided to flip the layout of the pantry (shown here on the left) and the fridge.

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    Wow!  We also widened the doorway by 10″.  Much better!

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    Another shot of the obnoxious fridge.

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    and a cool shot showing that the fridge is now recessed to be cabinet depth :)

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    The pantry I gave up

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    And the much more functional pantry I replaced it with :)

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    Our old pantry had appliances all over the floor, because they were too tall for any shelf (or even the counters!)  I specially designed this piece of cabinetry to include a place for every appliance.  The doors slide back and reveal appliances already plugged in (I included four outlets…it wasn’t enough!)  The counter is 30″ deep in this spot, so that I can mix, stir and assemble a meal completely in my ‘pantry’.  The food storage is in the cabinets above and the spacious drawers below.  Including cup measures, mixing bowls, spoons, etc.  How cool is that?!!  No more running to the walk in pantry for more cinnamon!! It makes life so much easier :)

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    The beautiful backsplash, made of Bottoccino marble and agean mist glass tile

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    The pan storage (and cutting boards, pizza stone, griddle etc) One of my favorite things!

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    Another shot of the backsplash? The new stovetop is gas. I believe the oven should be electric (because it is more precise than gas) and the cooktop should be gas. Wonderful cooktop! Cooks much more efficiently! The cool part is that if we ever lose power (ahem…in a hurricane?) we can still cook with a gas cooktop :)

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    Trash pullout!  Very important!  Trash in front bin, recycling in the back bin

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    A lazy susan in the corner cabinet…so nothing is ever stuck in the back!

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    Things should be stored right where you need them! I don’t want to cross the kitchen for a spoon to stir the soup, or a knife to chop the onions! This shallow drawer holds potholders, knives, spatulas and spoons. It was hard to get it to work with the depth of the cooktop. In the end, I bought the carpenter a Starbucks and he customized the drawer to fit :)

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    The dishwasher, hidden in the cabinetery.  Might I mention that the new Bosch dishwashers are the quietest ever?  We used to have to turn off our dishwasher to watch a movie or have a conversation in the living room.  But with this new one, we can’t even hear it when we are in the kitchen!

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    Kitchens are all about the details :)   A close up of the corbels and the glass bead tile.  Sigh.  The kitchen is a dream come true :)

May 29, 2012

  • Jackson’s 3rd birthday


    Jackson turned three this month!  So our kids are now 5, 3 and 1.  Their birthdays are March, April, May.  That’s what happens when your kids are born exactly 2 years apart :)   We had a Firetruck birthday.  He has been looking forward to it so much!  Every time he got hurt or sad, he would cry “Now I am not going to have a birthday!”  So important to him that he was afraid it wouldn’t happen :)  


    We started the party at the Firestation. Here he is with his friends on the firetruck (he is trying to put on one of the EMT gloves…this made for an excellent picture)

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    Just as we were wrapping up our tour, the firestation got a real call! We ushered the children off to one side and they watched very seriously as the firemen rushed out and hopped in the truck and drove out, sirens blaring. The timing was perfect! So exciting :) I’m glad they could plan that for us!

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    Paw Paw and Miriam (who was very hot and tired!)

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    Caleb and Jackson on the bed in the ambulance. I hope this is the only way they ever see the inside of an ambulance!

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    A candy bar for party favors. They are labeled “Stop” “Drop” and “Roll” (with cherry drops and tootsie rolls of course :) And the red licorice was “firemen Rope”

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    Fire hydrant, half off at Hobby Lobby

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    Firetruck, I found at Hobby Lobby. I used my fancy phone to look up their 40% off coupon and used it in the checkout :)

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    The Fireman cake. Our house was really hot and the icing started melting off :(

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    A random picture to illustrate how bad Caleb is about wearing holes in his pants! He averages 4-6 weeks on a pair of Jeans….less for these khakis. I finally learned to sew patches inside to reinforce the knees. This helps them last a few months :) Nothing to hand down to Jackson though! We’ve had to buy all new pants for Jackson.

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    Blowing out the candles…I’m pretty sure he used a firehose to do it!  He sprayed all over that cake.  I guess that explains why nobody wanted to eat it :)

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    One of my favorite things about the party was the ice cream sandwiches we made.  I made a batch of chocolate cookies.  I bought a box of ice cream, sliced it and cut it out into squares, roughly the size of the cookies.  Then I laid out three plates; one with coconut, one with sprinkles, one with miniature chocolate chips.  Each person built their own ice cream sandwich and then rolled it in the topping of their choice.  It was so fun!  We will definitely keep this in mind for the future!