Archives for category: Living Life

I’ve read several stories lately detailing people’s frustrations with the way others live that is irksome. This isn’t surprising because people are annoying. Everybody on the planet is annoying. I’m annoying and you’re annoying. Isn’t it grand?

Whenever I read these stories, usually from women seeking affirmation of their point of view, or maybe some advice about how to handle the relationship, I think about responding but rarely do. Mainly the reason I don’t respond is that I try to avoid giving advice whenever possible. I will talk about what I do and I will talk about my experience, but I tend to assume that advice will be unwanted in the end.

Even this is not so much advice, but a sharing of my perspective that will hopefully enlighten someone to another way of seeing their world.

I find in my relationships that more and more my philosophy is to choose the path of least resentment.

What does that mean?

It means that I choose to behave in the way that will lead to harmony and not resentment within myself regardless of anyone else’s opinions or behaviors. What this looks likewill vary from situation to situation and person to person.

Almost always it means acting proactively instead of reactively. I make sure my choices are the best for me and my family and don’t purposely react to others either by doing something or not doing something.

Occasionally it means choosing to not do something if it’s obvious that the other person doesn’t value the action and I don’t think it’s important to do it regardless of their opinion. A good example would be not giving someone a gift if they do not reciprocate or seem to find gift giving to be important.

Other times it means doing something, even if those around find no value in the action, just because I do value it. I will make healthy, delicious food for a party because I want to even if the other guests would be OK with junk food. And, here’s the kicker, I will actively choose to not be annoyed that they don’t care.

Choosing the path of least resentment leads me to harmony with the world, which I need, without actually being in harmony with everyone around me. This is a win-win since I have no control over anybody. I barely have control over myself!

So what do you think? How do you manage to stay at peace in a world filled with conflict? Are there ways you can be at peace within yourself without others agreeing with you or behaving the way you would prefer?

HelloMornings-Facebook-Banner.002

Today is the first day of the Fall Hello Mornings Challenge. A couple weeks ago I joined a private Facebook group of ladies who are a part of the challenge and who can all help each other stay accountable. The goal is that we will be able to use our mornings productively, accomplishing some of the most important parts of the day before the children get up or we have to leave for work. I wrote recently about why I’ve become an Early Bird. It’s a change in my life that’s surprising, but full of blessings.

My goals for the challenge are to be up at 5:30 and to do a Bible Study first thing. I then hope to eat a good breakfast each morning and spend time planning out my week. I’ll do writing for the blog and other projects after all that is done. I may try to fit in exercise occasionally, but I don’t like doing things that can’t be interrupted because even when I get up at 5:30 I don’t have long before Nathan will join me.

Have you tried the Hello Mornings Challenge? Do you find accountability helps you achieve your goals? What’s on your to-do list in the morning?

Seven Wonders

1. Coconut Cream. Until recently I only used coconut cream or coconut milk for making Weeknight Curry and Havana Black Beans. I was missing out you guys!! Doing the Whole30 opened me up to a whole new world of coconut deliciousness. When I talk about coconut cream I mean the canned kind, not the stuff in the refrigerator at Whole Foods. I also mean the full fat kind, obviously. Coconut fat is healthy for you and speeds up your metabolism. It will not make you fat so no worries. If eaten in the morning with a balanced breakfast, it will help keep you full until lunch with no snacks needed. My favorite brand was Thai Kitchen until I found Whole Foods 365 and then that was my favorite until I discovered Trader Joe’s. Now TJ’s is my favorite. So the question is How do you use coconut cream? Well, first off, pour it in your coffee, stir, take a drink, and then say thank you. It has the consistency of whipping cream and a natural sweetness. You can skip the sugar and still feel decadent. Then use it in your cooking. It works as well as cream in the Chicken with Braised Leeks. Then get out your ice cream maker and make Roasted Strawberry and Toasted Coconut Ice Cream, or any other combo you can think of. Remember to shake the can well before you open as it separates during storage and the fat will be concentrated on top.

2. Evernote. I had heard about Evernote from several bloggers, like Tsh from Simple Mom, but on my PC it wasn’t working for me. When I got my beautiful, perfect Macbook Air this summer one of the first things I did was download Evernote and the rest is history. Evernote is no my brain’s external hard drive. I use it for everything. I write most of my blog posts there. I store info about meals and meal planning, Nathan’s medical appointments and therapies, writing projects, etc. etc.

3. Mediterranean Sea Salt Caramel Gelato. This has been my favorite gelato flavor at Paciugo for, um, 7 years? As is my nature, I do try other things sometimes, but I always come back to my true love. Adding salt to ice cream elevates it to a place of perfection. I actually took note and now add salt to my chocolate ice cream at home. It tastes good with other flavors and is a dreamy shake. If I want something chocolate, I’ll have them mix Fondente (Dark Chocolate) with the Sea Salt Caramel in a shake. Delicious.

4. Holding Horses Denim Pencil Skirt. Say hello to my summer uniform. I grabbed the turquoise one early in the summer when it was on sale for $40 which I thought was a good deal. Then I went back after my birthday with a gift card and grabbed the red one for $20, but it was techincally free since I had the gift card. This means I got both for $40. Best Anthropolgie sale shopping of my life, and I’ve had some good scores over the years.

5. Grapeseed Oil. I started reading about the use of oils for facial cleansing several years ago via Simple Mom. I tried it out and found moderate success, enough to fall in love with oils, but it wasn’t cutting it. As  I approached 30 my skin changed and cell turnover slowed noticeably. The oil alone wasn’t working to exfoliate so I came up with a different cleansing routine, but I decided to continue using oil as a moisturizer. I decided to try grapeseed oil after randomly reading that Emma Stone uses it on her face. It’s been perfect. Grapeseed is one of the dryer oils and moisturizes without clogging my pores or leaving my face to slick.

6. Mumford and Sons. I am far from being the only one on the Mumford and Sons bandwagon, but I’m a diehard fan. I was so disappointed not to get tickets to their Dallas concert. Their music is perfection to me – exactly the type of music I like combined with heart piercing lyrics.

7. Dallas Public Library. If I ever move out of Dallas I will mourn my access to this library system and seriously consider paying the expensive out of area fee to keep it. Their collection is vast and kept up-to-date and I can go online, select a book, and have them ship it to my local library around the corner. They e-mail me when it gets in and I run in and pick it up. Also, their movie collection is extensive.

So tell me, what’s rocking your world these days? 

early bird

This is a strange thing in my life as a mom – I wake up early because I’m not a morning person.

I never thought in my previous existence before becoming a mom that waking up early was ever in my future. I’ve been a night owl as long as I can remember. I thrive after the sun goes down. It’s when I think my great thoughts. In the morning I’m the sort of person who has so few words I’m practically mute. I can think OK in the morning, but I cannot connect with other people or communicate well.

But, the problem is, my son is not a night owl. He’s an early bird. An early bird who wakes up grinning and wants to share all the things he thought last night and talk about them. Getting up early and having to hit the ground running leaves me much too tired late at night to think my great thoughts.

I also need ample alone time in order to feel sane and grounded. The only time of day I can consistently get alone time is early in the morning. It took about a year for me to come to the conclusion that getting up early was the best solution, but I now strive to wake up at least an hour before Nathan’s usual waking point.

It’s not always easy, but it’s worth it. I can have some quiet time, do a little exercise, plan, work, read. The luxury of being alone is well worth having to roll out of that bed I so dearly love to lounge around on.

To help me, I’ve joined the Hello Mornings Challenge. I’m curious to see how some accountability will help me not only be consistent in getting up, but also with productively filling my early morning hours.

So are you a night owl like me? Or an early bird? Or a reformed night owl? When do you think your great thoughts? When do you consistently get time alone?

trees watermarked

Today I’ll be linking up with Emily P. Freeman of Chatting at the Sky to share Things I Learned in July.

  • Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy was a student of Susan Wise Bauer. What? I geeked out on that for a bit. I would have loved to be a student of hers. Is it odd that I stressed about that last sentence because I’m not sure it’s grammatically correct and Susan would know? Susan would definitely know. But I’m not a grammar geek, just a weird homeschooling geek.
  • Have you heard about The Everygirl. I did not know about this site until Kelly mentioned it. It had me at the design and color scheme. But I think the content is pretty cool too. It will be one to explore when I need to fill in some downtime.
  • I learned about Pocket from Kat’s blog about blogging. And I’m in love! It’s especially helpful because our internet is terrible and struggles to allow more than one computer or device to access the wifi so I can download a bunch of articles and then read them later while watching Netflix.
  • You can make super yummy tartar sauce with equal parts nice mayo (I favor Dukes) and chow-chow. So good. It’s the perfect dip for fish cakes in Dinner a Love Story. Also, everything in Dinner a Love Story is Great. Buy the book!
  • It turns out grains were not my main diet problem. I can eat legumes just fine. Yes, I could be thinner if I never ate sugar and exercised a lot more, but, no thanks. The real kicker, deal breaker, problem causer? Besides gluten? Dairy. This makes me so sad. Gluten is still the number one, swell me up to 7 months pregnant and make me ache like an 83 year old arthritic culprit. But dairy is right up in there, making me feel yucky if I eat too much.
  • The brain is super interesting. I am reading not one, not two, not three, but FOUR books about the brain and I’m learning so much. In my defense they are on various aspects of the brain. And also I’m a bit manic about reading this year. It’s just this season of life I guess. Maybe one of these books can explain to me why my brain is like this (actually Simplicity Parenting kind of does).

Also, some weekend links:

10 Words That You’ve Probably Been Misusing

Crash Landing

Jesus Wept (Brene Brown)

Watermelon Strawberry Citrus Sangria

So tell me, what did you learn in July?

The other day while perusing the Target merchandise, I fell madly in love with these gold polka-dot binders. I do have a legitimate use for them. My recent purchases of some e-books need a home and the more I like the binder really will affect my use of them.

gold dot binder target

Fabulous, right?

But I did not need to be spending $6.00 (times 3 or more) on a new binder when I have a dozen white plastic ones leftover from grad school sitting in my closet at home. I couldn’t get the binders out of my head and almost went back to get them, but it suddenly occurred to me that I could make a similar version using my old white ones, some scrapbook paper, and a paint pen.

So that’s what I did.

Binder supplies

1. White plastic binder with clear front, back, and side pockets

2. 12×12 scrapbook paper (2 of each color)

3. Metallic Gold Paint Pen

I bought 2 pieces of each color of scrapbook paper – navy, teal, and hot pink – and a gold paint pen. I made sure it was legitimately metallic gold as some of those gold pens are very dull.

One night while we were watching a movie I got out my supplies and started polka-dotting my paper. I didn’t use a grid, but if you’re not sure you can keep the grid even you might want to. If it’s important to you to have perfect circles you might consider getting a circle stamp and gold ink pad. I personally like the look of free-hand circles. Perfectly imperfect!

Binder dots

After I finished the grids I measured and cut the paper to size. For my binders that was 9.5″ x 11.25″ plus a 1″ x “11.25” for the spine. I slid the papers in and oilá! Polka-dot binders.

Binder Cut and finish

All in all I spent less than $7.00 for 3 binders instead of $18.00. Love that!

Binder Final

I’m thinking of cutting the leftover bits into strips and then adhering them to cardstock to make page dividers that match the binder. I’ll give an update if/when I get that project finished.

I spent so much time thinking about meal planning this week and I really appreciate all the comments I got on Facebook about how real live women make meal planning work for them.

As I worked through my meal plan and thought about the responses I was able to fine-tune my thoughts and questions a little more. It turns out that the logistics of deciding what to eat each day and planning for that are not the problem here. It wasn’t that I never planned meals, I just did it irregularly and wasn’t planning for all the meals and eventualities that were necessary. What I’m really struggling with is the art of meal planning.

How do you create texture and movement and surprise and focus within your meal plan? Basically, how do you make it a work of art?

How do you make a meal plan that fits dietary, environmental, and social needs? Basically, we need a gluten-free, fair trade, seasonal, organic, pastured, and local food meal plan (listed in order of importance).

And again, how do I do all of that while staying on budget and eating well? It has to taste good and not cost $400 a week!

It would be easy for me to Meal Plan if a) I had a large food budget or b) didn’t care about eating for our dietary needs and in an environmentally and socially conscious way. However, both of those caveats are non-negotiables and they complicate meal planning. I need there to be a large creative component to the meal. I need the meals to satisfy my love of healthy delicious food. I need for meals to fit into real life.

The good news is that I’m beginning to formulate an idea about a system that may work for me. It will be more complicated than the general advice I’ve read, but in the end I think spending some time on it will help me more quickly plan meals that fit our needs: budgetary, dietary, and creative.

My plan will probably include a few parts:

  • an index of meals by main ingredients (I love indexes!!)
  • a list of vegetables and meats with 2-3 ways to prepare them (so I can shop the sales and know I can make a meal out of what’s available)
  • basic week long meal plans that I know work well (so if I’m busy I can just plug it in and go!)
  • room for new recipes
  • a recipe box – I have a notebook and it’s just not working for me

I hope this new system will allow me to include some of the food frugality principles I learned in An Everlasting Meal, while also leaving room for ample creativity. I will never be the woman who picks 14 meals and rotates them – that sounds so boring. I will never be the woman who finds a fabulous new recipe and doesn’t cook it because it wasn’t in the plan – that’s way too rigid. But I think I can become a woman who harnesses the power of planning to help me be better at my job – that sounds just about right.

I updated last week’s menu plan with what really happened. I was please to see that I mostly stuck to the plan!

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Royal Roundup: Duke and Duchess of Cambridge Take Their Son Home

I cannot do a weekly round-up without mentioning how happy I was that William and Catherine had their baby George. Kate looked lovely and was so brave to face all those photographers with her precious baby at such an emotional and personal time. I thought I saw some winked back tears and I can’t imagine how she came out, and even spoke to the press, with such grace.

Related: This. Can you imagine?

Quit Pointing Your Avocado at Me

What we seek we will find and if we’re looking for a world full of judgmental mamas — we’ll find it. Parenting is the most important thing to many of us and so it’s also the place we’re most vulnerable. We’re all a little afraid we’re doing it wrong. But even when we’re scared — we can still choose. We can choose to see each other as competition or as fellow warriors — fighting the same fight on the same team. One goal — many paths. We can learn from each other. We can even ENJOY each other.

Queen Elizabeth: “Thank Goodness He Hasn’t Ears Like His Father”

I may need to breastfeed while you are here. If this offends you or makes you uncomfortable, I keep some blankets close by for you to put over your head.

Mother Like a Firefighter

Did you know much of a firefighters life is quite boring? They spend their days doing boring maintenance and following a boring routine. They do the exact same thing every time they run through their checklists.

They wear the exact same uniform, drive the exact same vehicle, work from the exact same building.

They are extremely routine and scheduled.

Boring.

But they become heroes in a split second.

They have chosen to surrender certain small freedoms and choices so that they can be free and available to those in need WHEN THEY need.

Twaddle Free Books for Young Children

Twaddle:Dumbed-down literature; absence of meaning.

Homeschooling or not, I believe children (and adults, really) should invest their time in living books, and not waste time on twaddle.  And quite frankly, there’s a lot of twaddle out there in the world of children’s literature.

Note: I would add the Virginia Lee Burton books.

Lessons in Motherhood

You are the best mom for your child.

What Makes You Put Down a Book

Question: Why do so many people always finish a book?!? Life’s too short to read a bad book!

Also, I have only read one of these books – The Lord of the Rings. I did not abandon it, although I abandoned The Hobbit several times before finishing it and now have no idea what took me so long.

Did you read anything fascinating this week (besides royal baby coverage)? 

Weekend Links 2 7.20

Here’s a few of things I read this week that had me nodding my head:

Summer in The City – Heat Proof Makeup Tutorial

Lisa Eldridge is my go-to makeup consultant. I love how authentic and grounded she is and how she leverages her access and influence to help the everywoman feel beautiful. Her heat-proof makeup tutorial from this week was wonderful and I imagine will work well in our 100 degree heat as much as it does in London’s “scorching” 80s.

Lemon Ricotta and Almond Flourless Cake

This is a light lemony flourless cake that will be perfect on a beautiful summer/spring afternoon

When Families Fail Parents of Children with Special Needs

She points to two big reasons family can be out of touch with what a parent needs — good intentions based on decades-old knowledge and, yes, sometimes simply the general inability to be compassionate.

“They do not see all the work, the therapy visits, the doctor visits, the specialists, the research, the cost, the [evaluations], [Individualized Education Plan] meetings, the emotional drain it takes to produce this ‘cute little girl.'”

Ludicrous Things Said By Yoga Teachers

weekend links yoga

Alright Okay

Friends, there has to be a better way.

A better way to support one another when they are walking a painful path.  There has to be a better way to encourage and uplift and love without undoing the brutality of the journey, without negating the reality that for some, it doesn’t get “all better”.

This is about Love.  Support.  Encouragement.

Validation.

She isn’t crazy.  She isn’t neurotic.  She isn’t being ridiculous.

No matter what the outcome turns out to be.

Because it really will eventually be Alright and Okay.  It’s just that Alright and Okay are tricky words whose meanings change depending on the details.

And you want to be there for her in the case that she must navigate a new path to Alright and Okay.

The Importance of Doing Things Badly

God doesn’t hover over us with a hammer. He knows we need the freedom to do things badly. He stands cheering and waiting for the right moment to share His perfectly portioned wisdom.

I wear several “hats” during the week. Depending on when you peek into our life I may look like a house-cleaning-cooking casual Mom, a put-together-working Mom, or a teaching-therapy Mom.

Therapy Kazoo

Nathan learning to blow on his therapy kazoo.

 I usually describe myself to others as a stay-at-home Mom. By that I mean that my “career” is caring for Nathan and that is my number one job. It’s been my choice to take that on and I love it. I do about 95% of the care-taking as Jason is gone from about 6 am to 5:30 or 6 pm, and longer on days when he has clients after work. I’m able to fit in the housekeeping and cooking during these hours with my trusty toddler helper by my side.

I also work part-time. My goal is to do 20 hours of work and to try to fit in about 40 hours of work into those 20 hours. I don’t always quite manage the full amount, but whatever hours I manage to put in, I do cram full with intense, concentrated work. I work with my brother and Dad so the hours are flexible, but I do put aside specific time each week so 1) I can be sure I fit it in and 2) Nathan can have some consistency. I played around with his childcare for this work time the past year. What I found to work best is to have a babysitter come to our house for a full day, one day a week. Nathan does best when he stays in his routine and we were having trouble with night terrors and general dis-regulation when he was spending a day or two away from our home each week. My philosophy is that home is best, especially for the toddler/preschooler age.  I also have a second regular work day each week that varies in length depending on the week. Two weeks a month he spends a half day with my mom and his cousin on a playdate then comes home and naps so I work those hours, and on the other weeks Jason has a day off in the middle of the week and he is the primary care-giver those days so I can work. Other than that, my work gets shoved into nap times, early mornings, and late at night.

And finally, I am a therapy/homeschooling mom. Nathan has three therapies: Physical therapy, Occupational therapy, and Speech therapy. The therapists come here to our house so we have 2-3 appointments each week which I schedule to be on one of my three non-work weekdays. Each therapy comes with its set of “homework” for me and Nathan. We do gross motor tasks, fine motor tasks, and speech tasks constantly throughout the week. Trying to get a toddler to do uncomfortable, body and mind-stretching exercises is a not easy and I spend a lot of brain time coming up with ways to sneak it in or make it seem really fun. Some weeks we are extra busy when we have a doctor’s appointment or two. We do some basic preschool work with him. I use June Oberlander’s Slow and Steady Get Me Ready and mix and match activities that will work with his delays and suit his personality. Each week we pick a letter and number from his alphabet and number posters that hang on his wall. We will talk about them during the week and find things that begin with that letter or have that number of items.

In my “free” time I write, blog, read, watch movies, and hang out with Jason. All of those activities are usually in the early morning or after Nathan goes to bed, although I do try to take a couple nap times each week to just relax.

I wish we could do more playdates or that I could get involved in a Bible Study, but I have yet to find a way to fit it around his therapies which take schedule priority.

So that’s how I fit it all in each week. Rinse. Repeat.