Monday, August 30, 2010

raining in summertime...

It's raining today, in the summertime - I'm not quite ready for this, but have to admit if it doesn't stick around it is kind of refreshing today! After a work filled weekend filled with canning, yardwork, and house projects... a rainy Monday at home is calling out to me for a nap! Ahhhhh, yes, I hear you nap, calling my name, I'm coming! :)

Happy Monday! Hope you're doing something happy!

canning & preserving...

This year one of my summertime goals was to do some preserving and some canning to build a stocked pantry full of good, whole, local fruits and veggies for the rest of the year.

So far here's what I've got done:
7 quarts peaches
8 pints peaches
2 batches of raspberry freezer jam
2 batches of blackberry freezer jam
1 batch of strawberry freezer jam
10 quarts of gravenstein applesauce + bunches of small containers for lunches
1 flat of blueberries frozen
1/2 flat of blackberries frozen

Here's what I still want to do:

more applesauce
more peaches
tomatoes??? - if I ever get any off my 10 plants :\

This whole canning and freezing, and preserving business is new to me, but I have to say it's kind of fun! (I especially like that it gives my mom and I an excuse to spend time together in the kitchen!) I feel like I'm learning something that will be able to benefit my family for a long time to come! I still have a lot to learn, but so far, I like what I've done! What do you like to can and preserve???

Keeper of the Home, put together a great guide to canning and preserving check it out here... if you're like me and your new to all of this, you'll love this guide, it is really helpful!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

an equal counterpart... finally!

Finally I have found an equal counterpart to 'Go, Dog. Go!' (Meritt's absolute favorite book) this one 'Are You My Mother' by the same author seems to be equally entertaining to my sweet girl!

Now instead of hearing 'Hello, do you like my hat?' a bazillion times a day, soon I'll be hearing 'are you my mother?' At least we'll be keeping things interesting!

Turns out there are a whole slue of books by this Author so I'm on the hunt!!! If you know of any out there fairly cheap send them on this direction! :)

We are nearing the end of summer here. Counting down the days until we're back to school, and back in our Fall routine. Meritt will start preschool this year, and I have to say I am more than a bit nervous. Not at her going to school.... but whether or not she will listen once she gets there. So, in the next few weeks we're going to be doing a bunch of things (such as sitting quietly while being read to) to practice, and get ready. Please keep your fingers crossed, and say a few prayers that it will be smooth sailing! We're gonna need all the positive thoughts, and prayers we can get!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

so true...


Our Family eats a lot of granola, especially one that we love from Trader Joes called Organic Grannies Granola... the only problem is that it's almost $4 a box, and a box doesn't last very long in our house between 4 people sharing it. So, while on my quest to stay dedicated to being an Organic family, I have been trying to figure out ways to 'do it myself' if you will... While making homemade applesauce the other day to put in the freezer for the winter, my mom reminded me that I had taken home Grandma's old food dehydrator when we were cleaning her basement out earlier in the summer. So, while cutting up our 25lbs of Gravenstien Apples for our applesauce we decided to dry some at the same time. That got us thinking about the Granola we love, it has dried apples and other goodies in it. I said out loud I wish I knew how to make homemade granola... and my Mom says 'you know you can make granola in the dehydrator too'. Ahhh, no, mom I'm new at this...

So, we found a recipe, and the results are DDDDDelicious!!!!! You must try this! So, here is the recipe so you can try it yourself! :)

Homemade Grannies Granola

*we made ours with organic ingredients, but you wouldn't have to... but you should ;)

5c. Organic Rolled Oats
3/4c. Organic Brown Sugar
1/2c. wheat germ
1/2c. chopped dried apple
1/2c. organic or local honey
1c. raisins
1c. chopped nuts (we like walnuts)
1/3c. salad oil
1tsp. pure vanilla
3/4c. melted organic or local butter
1tsp. cinnamon

Combine ingredients in large bowl with wooden spoon.
Spread onto dehydrator
(I'm pretty sure you could do the same thing in baking sheets in the oven)
dry @ 145 degrees until crunchy (use fruit roll sheet attachments w/dehydrator)
I dried mine for about 9 hours, but keep checking it until it's the texture you like.
Crumble up granola and put into an air tight container for storage!

Wa-La your own Granola!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

feeling better...

This last week started out challenging at best. Last Saturday, we closed our shop for our annual re-do week to prepare the shop for fall. We had allowed ourselves 8 days to completely re-do displays, move fixtures, and clean and organize. Last Saturday, because of the amount of pain I was in physically, eight days didn't seem like near enough for the work I had ahead of me. But, as in all things in life, there are times you have to just suck it up, pray for strength only God can provide, and continue to push ahead.

So, that's what I did...
I prayed, and I pushed ahead.

Last Monday, I was able to meet with my Doctor. I was able to get back on my medication, and by about Tuesday or Wednesday I was beginning to feel myself again. Somehow, through the grace and strength of God, myself, my mama, and my awesome employees were able to finish our fall preparation, early... can you believe it? We were so ahead, we were able to open three days early. Which was also a blessing from above!

Thursday, (because I still had a babysitter scheduled) I was able to go to work (minus kids in tow) and get a bunch of stuff accomplished that I had needed to for quite some time. Friday, (because I had tons of employees scheduled) was able to give my babysitter the day off, and spend the whole day soaking up my girls, who I had missed so much. This mama isn't used to being away from her girls 8 plus hours a day... Friday, I even managed in a much needed nap, it was a beautiful day!!!

The weekend brought more good things! Family time. Accomplished to-do's,... like my canning, preserving, freezing, and berry and apple picking I have been wanting to do before fall is upon us. I even managed in some cooking and some grocery shopping. Matt got us caught up on laundry and yard work. And now, that all that is finally behind me, I am feeling a whole lot better!... in so many ways.

The doctor is sending me on to another specialist, so I will be praying that there are some new answers ahead. But, until then, I am going to just be glad for the blessings that I have. They are over flowing around me!

I hope you had a blessed week (and weekend) as well!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

i love this!...

I love this, so much there may be no words...
it's just plain funny!

I'm not the biggest fan of the minivans (no judgement for those of you who love and drive them) But, I have to say if anything can make them look cool this is it!!!

It almost, makes me want my own Swagger Wagon!
I have a 'sassy' wagon instead!:)
Hopefully this will make you laugh too!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'look at Jesus'...

"We all want to be good examples for our kids - but how often do we stop and consider what
it really entails? In addition to changing diapers and running carpools, and helping with
science problems, godly women are supposed to be wise, resourceful, hospitable,
encouraging, diligent, creative , generous, faithful, watchful, vigorous, strong and cheerful -
and that's just for starters! If you think I am making this up, take a look at Proverbs 31.
Reading this passage used to discourage me. I'd start by checking off the verses I had
"covered" - things like sewing curtains and dust ruffles, or keeping my lamp burning late in
the night as I made endless "To Do lists. But no matter how hard I tried, I never got much
farther than that. I was always, as my friend Kenzie likes to put it, "the Proverbs 32 woman".
But that's where Jesus comes in. By myself I will never measure up. No matter how hard I
try to do everything "right," there will always be times when I let my children down. Unlike
the Proverbs 31 mother, I will probably never know what it feels like to have my kids get out
of bed in the morning and call me "blessed!" But I have learned that the less I rely on my
own abilities and the more I rely on Christ - and the more I let my children see me
depending on him for wisdom, guidance, and strength - the more I will be able to set an
example that's worth following. Instead of saying "Look at me," I'll be able to say
"Look at Jesus."

(pg. 190 of Praying the Scriptures for your Children)

God is always there to give us the wisdom and guidance we need right when we need it... isn't he?! This little passage started my morning. Coincidence, I think not!

Friday, August 13, 2010

living with fibromyalgia...

Is there something so personal in your life that you don't even like to talk about it? For me it's something I've been living with since I was 15 years old. Somehow over the years I've thought that if I keep it wrapped up tight inside of me, like a secret, that maybe it will go away. The sad news is it won't. The good news is that as I'm getting older, I realize it's not always the healthiest thing to keep things locked up inside tight. Sometimes you need to let things out, even the really personal things. All week I've been thinking about writing this post, unsure of exactly what to say, or if I was ready to get something so personal, so private written out for whoever wants it, to read it. Then the thought occurred to me, that maybe if I am able to help someone out there understand better, sympathize more, or realize a little more, than maybe opening up this private part of myself might just be worth it.

When I was fifteen years old, I went through a traumatic and dramatic break up with my 'first love' (or so I thought at 15 years old). It wasn't your ordinary run of the mill break up. It was the kind that kind of shatters a person... makes them question life, and steals their innocence. I found out that the boy I loved was gay. I'm not going to go into all the details. They aren't real pretty.... While I could, there really is no reason to. But, you could probably see how this sort of news might shatter a young woman to her core.

While going through this traumatic/dramatic heart wrenching pain, I started developing other pain. Pain so severe that there were days I couldn't get out of bed. Days I couldn't move my neck, days I couldn't make a fist with my hand, days that just walking hurt. I'm pretty sure my parents were beside themselves. At first I'm sure they thought I was depressed. I probably was. But, over some time, I think they realized it was more than heart break, depression, or teenage angst. My mom decided to take me to the Doctor. Of course this was a little over 15 years ago, and I really think the doctor thought I might have been making the whole thing up for attention. With time things worsened. My mom was persistent... thankfully. We kept going to the doctor, trying new things, until finally I was sent to a specialist which could finally run the tests needed to find out what was wrong with me. It was fibromyalgia.

Once, we found a diagnosis, we were able to try new things. Different therapies that would help. We read, and found out ways to reduce my pain, and with time things got better... Throughout the years I would have flare ups - stress being the thing that flared the pain the worst, just like what started it all. But for the most part from the time I was 16 until I was about 24 or 25 I was able to manage the pain with the exercises, diet, and stress control that I had learned to make part of my life.

Sometime between 24 and after Meritt was born things grew increasingly worse. During my pregnancy with Meritt there were times the pain grew overwhelming. After Meritt was born it grew worse and worse. Add in some postpartum depression and I was entering a full melt down. Two kids, trying to work and run a business with two kids, a house in remodel mode, and other stresses of life proved to make my disorder take over me. By the time Meritt was 6 months old (and twenty whopping pounds) my entire left arm went numb with shooting pain, tingling, and a stabbing pain in my left shoulder that took over my life. It was pretty much all I could think about. It was near impossible to be myself, and wear my super woman cape with all that I was physically going through. I tried my very best to wear my happy face, but it grew increasingly exhausting and overwhelming. My doctor ran every blood test known to man, I had MRI's, and physical therapy 3 times a week. Not able to find another reason or answer. Unfortunately the physical therapy made things worse...

After much frustration, time, and pain, I convinced my doctor to let me try some new medications that had just been approved for fibromyalgia. That along with big life changes, started me on a road to recovery. After trying three different medications I was finally able to find the right one, and after more support from my mom (and dad, and husband, and friends) letting me a have a new normal at our business, and home, things got better. Not 'normal' or 'perfect' but survivable.

That was two and a half years ago. Early this summer at one of my regular check ups with my doctor to see how I was doing, I convinced him to try and let me get off my medication.

This is where we get to the 'living with fibromyalgia' today. While my doctor didn't think it was a great idea to give up the medication that I was finally able to find to relieve my pain, he also understood that at my young age I wasn't satisfied with the idea of being on medication for the rest of my life.

I started trying to wean off the medication by taking my pills every other day. The day I didn't take my medication, I was so sick, I could hardly survive my day. I had migraines, tingling throughout my body, dizziness, and disorientation. When that didn't work, we decided to try a lessened dose over time.

That brings us to today. Today, I am on a lessened dose, and the pain is overwhelming my body. My hips ache like I am an old woman, I wake up with stiffness in my hands and feet so bad it makes me want to cry the minute I wake up. My neck is tight, and my back aches like I have been in an accident.

This week has been really frustrating. For those of you who know me well, you know I'm stubborn. I don't like to give up. Going back on the meds feels like giving up. But the pain invades me, and I am not good for anyone in my life, even myself. So, after much prayer, and some wonderful talks with my loving and supportive husband, I have decided to go back and talk to the Doc on Monday, about a new plan.

This thing I live with, makes me mad. It makes me want to fight it and kick it's ass. Most days it kicks mine. It makes me sad to think it's never going to go away. It makes me mad that I will always have to deal with it. It enrages me that I can't keep it secret, wear my happy face, and it will disappear. But, it's my reality. It's life. I'm still blessed. It doesn't steal my amazing life. God's Grace abounds in my life daily. It can't tear me down, I just have to learn how to adapt. How to talk... how to let it out. How to communicate with those I love, so they know how to love me back. So, that's where we are today... tomorrow is another story.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Monkey Bread...

3 or 4 ripe bananas, smashed
1/3 cup melted butter
1 cup sugar (can easily reduce to 3/4 cup)
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon baking soda
Pinch of salt
dash of cinnamon
splash of vanilla
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour

No need for a mixer for this recipe. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). With a wooden spoon, mix butter into the mashed bananas in a large mixing bowl. Mix in the sugar, egg, and vanilla. Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mixture and mix in. Add the flour last, mix. Pour mixture into a buttered 4x8 inch loaf pan. Bake for 1 hour. Cool on a rack. Remove from pan and slice to serve.

In our house banana bread isn't called banana bread, it's called Monkey bread. We call it that because our little Monkey Meritt LooooooVVVEeeees Monkey bread! She equally loves to make Monkey bread with Mama! Squishing the banana's is her favorite part! My favorite part is that this recipe is so easy and fool proof that having a little helper make this recipe with you, is easy and fun!

So, if you love you some banana bread like we do, give this easy recipe a try! After all it is Monkey approved! ;-)

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Go, Dog. Go!

Meritt, has never been much for sitting still long enough to be read to. Usually her patience level is about enough to flip through the pages to talk about the pictures. Well, all of this has changed since she has found "Go, Dog. Go!"! I read it over and over and OVER again, asking each time at the end if she would like to hear another story. That question is always met with the same reply, which is, "nope me like this one!" Okay, I usually say, and we read it again... and again, and again. I'm not complaining though. It's really quite amusing! Especially since she has almost the whole book memorized now.

When we get to this page I say... "Big Dog", and she says... "tiny dog". (pretty close!)

She now comes up to just about everything and says "Hello" in her funny little "Go, Dog. Go!" talk she does.

Her favorite part is when all the dogs party... (betcha can't believe that, can you?)

I wonder if there is a "Go, Dog. Go!" 2? If there is we need to get it!

Friday, August 6, 2010

how about we talk about something postive!

I feel like I've done tons of whining and moaning lately on the woes of motherhood, but I want to take a chance to talk about something really positive about motherhood... This past weekend we had a garage sale. The girls wanted to have some kind of stand, so we decided on a 'cool drinks & cookies' stand where they would sell ice cold bottles of water and home baked cookies for donations to benefit SafeHaven Humane Society (the shelter where we got Buddy).

They did great... (especially Bella) (Meritt is still a little bit small, but she did help) After two days of sitting out at their 'stand' they were able to bring in $114.88 for the animals. I am so proud of them. This was a great lesson in doing something for someone else. Also, by not setting a set price for the refreshments, people were able to 'give freely' another thing that I think taught a lot... to all of us. People are really generous. I don't think we give others enough credit. I know we don't give enough credit to the good that kids are able to do in simple ways!

Anyway, I just wanted to share. It made me really proud of my girls. They are good kids with huge hearts, and I'm grateful for that!

A little bit about SafeHaven Humane Society:
SafeHaven is a limited admission shelter that remains committed to the philosophy of not using euthanasia to control population. Once an animal is accepted at SafeHaven, there is no limit to the amount of time that animal can spend at the shelter. Once the shelter is full, however, no new animals can be accepted, thus preventing our current residents from being euthanized to make room for newcomers. It is this policy which differentiates SafeHaven from publicly funded "open admission" facilities. These public shelters receive their funding from government agencies at a county or city level through animal control contracts which require them to accept all animals presented to the shelter within their contractual agreement.

So we can think of animal welfare like a patchwork quilt, made of different organizations; some "Open Admission", some "Limited Admission" and others such as specific breed "Rescue Groups", "Sanctuaries" and "Animal Control" who all want to get homeless and unwanted animals off the street and into a better place.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

after my own time out...

Thanks to putting myself in my own time out this afternoon, as Meritt was in her early nap (and thanks to some good comment advise from Krista). I have come to realize I must have patience. Lots, and lots of patience. Meritt will grow up, and when she does I'll probably be sad that my sweet little one has grown so fast, and so big.

After taking a deep breath, and a little nap of my own, I realize that it's just little stuff. I can handle it... and everything goes better when handled with love.

Three is a really tough age in my opinion. At three, they are part baby, part learner of independance, and part 'big kid'. Not yet, or anymore one of those things completely. Every kid goes at there own pace of learning. (parents too!:)) As always in my life, keeping calm, and carrying on, is always the best way to go.

Here's hoping tomorrow, is smoother sailing, and that this mama, is able to remember to take deep breaths, enjoy the moments, the little things, and even the other stuff in between, because this too shall pass. Soon, three will be a distant memory, and I may even have moments I wish I could have it back!

Thanks for the advise Krista, you're totally right!

what is going on???

Seriously. I think I am having a mommy melt down. I just don't get it... I have two little girls and I feel like I live in a dramatic, emotional, roller coaster. Ups - Downs - and in betweens.

Drama began first thing this morning. Tears, fights, upset, and emotion, right off the bat. I had this looming feeling come over. I know what it means when mornings start off this way. It means it's gonna be a long day.

Add to the morning drama swim lessons, and you have yourself a full blown catastrophe! I saw it coming before we ever even left home.

Bella's lessons are first, then a short break, and then Meritt's. Today, we didn't even make it to Meritt's lessons, because she threw a fit the whole time Bella was in her lesson. Three time outs, some yelling about my disappointment, and several tantrums later, I decided, we were heading home. NAP TIME... early. Not, sure what else to do. I can't get Meritt to act the way she and I know she should act, when out in public, and it frustrates the heck out of me. She's a good kid... I think I'm a good mom. Maybe I'm not as consistent as I should be, I don't know... It's hard. I haven't figured out how to effectively figure out what her currency is. I try not to compare myself against other parents, I try not to compare Meritt to other kids, but I don't see other people around us having the same ongoing battle that we are having.

How do you handle, a totally strong willed, headstrong, busy kid, that has no desire to grow up? She is totally fine being a baby forever, but I don't want a baby forever. I want her to grow, and learn, and blossom into the beautiful girl I know she has the potential to be. How do I get her there without a full blown melt down myself? Advise gladly taken!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

crying monkey tears...

No, I didn't get the saying wrong... I know it's usually crocodile tears, but this week, it's Monkey tears. Monday, the girls started swim lessons. It was on our list of things to do before the end of summer... and well, since summer is almost over, I decided we best get at it. This is the third summer Bella has taken lessons, she has done awesome. She loves to swim, and I swear would live in the water if we let her, or we had water close by that she could be in 24/7. But, Meritt on the other hand, is having a bit of a melt down, and I'm not really sure what to do about it. She is usually my fearless kid that doesn't hesitate, is never shy, and is almost always eager to try new things. (especially fun things) Well, let's just say it's not the case with the swimming lessons. I'm not sure who I feel worst for, the swim instructor, Meritt, or me.

The first day started fine, but just about the time I assumed it was smooth sailing, I had a wet 3 year old running towards me, filled to the brim with tears. The second day it took some convincing, but things went pretty well. Today, she wouldn't get in the pool, and when she was taken into the pool she was screaming so loud the whole neighborhood could hear her.

I wasn't sure what to do. It was one of those moments you are unsure whether you should go save your kid from her own misery, or want to punish her for acting so terribly.

In the end, I saved my kid, and decided we'd try again tomorrow. All I can hope is that tomorrow will be a better day. I wish I had a magic pill, or a book, or a manual, or a something to tell me how to deal in toddler logic. How do you get past these things? How do you deal with them? How do you get your kids to open themselves up to all of the wonders and possibilities there can be out in this great big world?

If you are lucky enough to know the answer to that question, or if for some stroke of luck you have above mentioned magic pill, manual, or what have you that might help... I would just love it!

profound for a cartoon character...

Sometimes, it comes down to the nitty gritty of it. Leave it to a cartoon character to come up with something so true...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

i love Sunday's...


What is it about a Sunday at home that is just so good. I love it. A whole day with my honey, and my girls. Today, the weather was beautiful... the day happy, productive, and peaceful! Doesn't get a whole lot better than that.

Matt worked on projects, I caught up on laundry, cleaning, and putting away garage sale 'stuff', the girls played and played outside, ALL DAY! They played so hard, they came in at 7:50 and told me they were heading up to brush their teeth and get ready for bed. (I'm pretty sure that is a first, if not, it's rare!)

Here's a list of the highlights of the day...

homemade organic blueberry pancakes
ice tea from Starbucks
quiet time in my house to get stuff done
Bella and Meritt playing together nicely
Watching Bella ride her bike round and round the blog over and over again
a Burgerville lunch outside
Family Sunday dinner
my favorite T.V. night...
cuddles with Buddy the kitten
clean sheets
perfect summer weather
open windows and doors
projects accomplished
time spent with my three favorite people on earth

I just love Sunday's... it's all about family... simple pleasures that make life great, and enjoying life!