Monday, December 31, 2012

Our 18 month baby boy!

Sweet're growing so fast! You love animals and people. You say "hi" to every person and dog, cat, bird (or any animal) you see! You also love to wave and say "bai" (bye) in a southern style drawl. But you were born in Virginia and lived most of your life so far in the south.

You can't get enough of reading and your favorite books are Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, The Wheels On the Bus, and your ABC book. You pefer to flip to the end and sing the ABC song. You love The Little Drummer Boy and we've caught you reading it by yourself and humming the tune. You're one smart boy and perhaps a vocalist just like your mama! Your favorite book/song is the Little Pookie dance song. When we get to "Put your hands up and reach for the sky. So high! So high!" You reach up high and make a "wow" sound. We love it!

We count to 3 and throw you up in the air. As soon as we say "one" you say "two" and then "Yeaaaahhhh!!" You are so full of fun!

You love shoes which is why your first real word other than "mama" "dada" and "no" was shoes. You could stay outside all day and all night. You try walking around in mama's slippers (occasionally her high heels, but we won't tell your first girlfriend about that!) and dada's work boots - but you don't get very far in those!

You know what you want, when you want it! We're always laughing at the silly things you do and say and we love to watch you explore your world.

You're starting to repeat words that we say and you usually do it randomly which always surprises us. We get excited and realize how much you're learning each day. We love you, Case!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Essential Oils

(Imagine Property of
I am so excited to be learning more about the healing nature of essential oils. I just purchased my first kit from doTERRA and it's money well spent! Have you ever wondered why the wise men brought frankincense to Jesus? God has given us so many amazing natural sources for healing.

For starters, Aaron had the chills and a fever last weekend. I applied On Guard and peppermint oils to the bottoms of his feet and his fever broke within the hour. He woke up the next morning feeling much better! We were certain he was coming down with the flu given his symptoms, but it just never happend. Thank goodness!

I'm loving being able to disinfect things like our countertops with lemon essential oil and my diffuser is due to arrive tomorrow. I'm amazed by how certain oils can clean the air of allergens and have sterilization properties. Months ago, I had actually started using eucalyptus oil in Case's humidifier whenever he was stuffed up and it always worked like a charm to clear him out. We're not talking Vicks or anything....but the straight-up pure eucalyptus oil. Amazing!

If anyone is interested in learning more and wants to purchase a few oils to try, I'm happy to provide you with more info and you can shop for products here on my site.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Vegan, Gluten Free Molasses Crinkles

Yes, it's true. These gluten, soy, dairy, corn and nut free molasses crinkles actually taste exactly like my mom's and Aaron's mom's molasses cookies that use regular flour. In fact, these came out even slightly more chewy. If you're like Aaron and I and love cookie dough and chewy cookies, this is a gluten free recipe worth trying. We don't eat a lot of sweets in our house, but we may or may not have downed two dozen of these in less than a week (we did share a few with our friends!) Tis the season!

You can find the recipe here at the Whole Life Nutrition blog. This site is excellent and has allergy-friendly recipes that everyone in your house will love. I've yet to make a single recipe from their list that we don't like. They're the best!

I admit, I omitted the flax seeds and rolled each dough ball in pure can sugar. Let's be honest, does anyone really want flax seeds in their molasses cookies? I love flax, but not me!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

What do I say?

I have no idea what to call this post. For many reasons, I just can't find the right words for a title. So i'll just jump right into what I want to say.

A few of you know that I have been quite sick for about two years now. I think different things at different times have contributed to this, but I can't say for sure if one thing started it or a few things that came together to create a negative result. I have not come public with my health struggle because 1.) It has often been too painful to talk about, 2.) I hoped that it would "just go away" and 3.) I feel that many people don't understand what it's like to have a chronic illness. Now whether #3 is true or not, it's just how I've felt and I can't help it. We all live within our own thoughts and experiences, and mine has been that most people have no idea the terror, pain and frustration I have experienced. That doesn't mean I'm saying that my life has been so much worse than someone else's, but this is my journey and I know mine first-hand...not anyone else's. And let me be honest, this experience of chronic illness has been awful. In fact, awful doesn't even begin to describe it. There are days of my life that I simply can't recall. Sometimes I want to lay in a heap on the floor and cry. I have told my husband on many occasions that he should prepare for his life without me. And then I cry when I think about our son not having a mommy.

Does this all sound insane to you? YES. It does. But this is the journey of chronic illness. Constantly feeling ill and having doctors tell you nothing is wrong with you. I have had some doctors tell me that I should consider therapy. I have considered therapy, for a moment, but then I remember that i'm not depressed. That's not to say that I wouldn't benefit from counseling (I've done it before and has been such a positive experience) but my mind is not ill, it's my body. I have always known that.

Fnally, I have some clear answers. This process has been very complext. Some of that is because I believe most doctors have no idea how to treat someone with chronic symptoms. Now, if you read this and you're a doctor, feel free to challenge what i'm saying. But this has been my honest to goodness experience. Of the 20 or so doctors I've seen, only ONE has helped me (the one i'm seeing now, praise Jesus!) I have been told to "not come back." "There is nothing wrong with you." Well, DOCTOR, you're right. There is nothing "wrong" with me, i'm sick!

So after two years and too many tests to recall, I finally had a test that revaled two things: a massive bacterial infection (of sorts) in my digestive tract and an inability to digest and absorb nutrients properly. My test also showed that my body currently does not digest fats. I've learned through process of elimination that I cannot tolerate gluten (wheat) at all and have difficulty with dairy and night shade vegetables (potato, pepper, etc.) With the help of my very competent MD and ND here on the island, we are also considering that I have celiac disease. If you're not sure what celiac disease is, I encourage you to do some research because more and more people today are finding out they have it. The trouble with getting an accurate test result in my case is that a person must have a diet that includes gluten in their system for the test to be accurate. Since gluten has been eliminated from my diet completely for some time now, it's impossible for me to consider going back on gluten just for the sake of one test. With the advice of my doctors, I will be staying away from gluten and treating myself as someone with celiac.

Some of what I want to share on this blog is how I live day to day without gluten in my diet. It is actually a very manageable lifestyle. I will share tips, recipes, successes, struggles (not being able to eat out very much), and adjusing my social life to my dietary needs.

I also want to share more thoughts on what I believe, from first hand experience, the medical community is missing. My test results are very clear-cut. The problem is that this test is not covered by insurance and not ordered by the mainstream medical community. WHY? I can't answer that question yet. But I hope to at some point.

After two years, I'm making the decision to open up about my journey through chronic illness - first, because I want to help other people who are suffering. That is my main goal. But second because I owe it to myself to explain this process. I'm not sure why I feel I owe it to myself, but perhaps it's all part of the greater picture to my healing. Perhaps the greatest challenge with chronic illness is that there usally isn't just one cause. So am I answering my own question about why the medical community struggles with it? I can imagine a doctor would feel overwhelmed by needing to treat multi-layered symptoms.

Well here I go. The first of many raw and honest entries about my health journey. I hope and pray that someone who is suffering from an undiagnosed illness will read this and think, "That sounds like me." And I will be able to help and encourage them.

I woke up feeling anxious about my treatment process this morning (i'm starting a new treatment in addition to my current dietary changes after the test results I just received). Sometimes I think i'll have a panic attack. So I grabbed my Bible, flipped to Psalms but my eyes kept bouncing between verses. Which one do I read? Does God have anything here to calm my heart? Of course God does. I pray. I ask God what he wants to tell me. I immediately get Psalm 91 in my mind. I have no idea off the top of my head what Psalm 91 says. I go there, and I read. Whoa.

Psalm 91

New Living Translation (NLT)

Psalm 91

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the Lord:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
He will shelter you with his wings.
His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
though ten thousand are dying around you,
these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the Lord your refuge,
if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me.
I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
I will be with them in trouble.
I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
and give them my salvation.”

Sunday, December 9, 2012


I'm wondering if anyone out there in "blog land" might be interested in helping me understand blog designing. I'd like to revamp mine a bit. I'm going to start blogging more and Facebook-ing less. I've made this decision after months of thought into it. Facebook enhances my life less and makes me often feel left out, disappointed and stressed. It's not that I'd wish to not know about another person's life, but I find it so impersonal. I think this generation of Facebook-ers is missing something. Now, this is just my opinion, so please - no hate mail. As a friend and I were just discussing, we realized a long time ago that there aren't rules for Facebook. By that we mean etiquette. I find that I have typed things that I would perhaps never say to someone's face. I'm disappointed when I think about it. I also see it from other people.

What draws me more to blogging is simply that the guy I shared Spanish class with my sophomore year won't care to follow it. And sorry to be brutally honest, but I don't care that he won't follow my blog either! I have so much to share about how God is shaping me, the amazing things people are doing in the world (that I am so blessed to meet!), developments in my own life, parenthood, personal struggles and revelations as well as the beauty of everyday, ordinary joy. I want more depth. In fact, my heart wants to grow more and be more like Jesus. And Jesus is all about depth, intention, reflection and authenticity. I just don't find that in Facebook. So while I haven't made up my mind the delete my account (yet), I will not be spending the time on it that I have been in the past. I do hope that you will follow me here. Not because I'm exceptionally interesting, but because you genuinely care about me. Trust me when I say that I feel the same about you!

So i'll start my new "journey" with this: I struggle. First off. Yes, I struggle with many things. One being that I fall short a lot and I'm so painfully hard on myself! I really struggle with anxiety. I also struggle with being self-absorbed (can't you tell by my current list of struggles? ALL. ABOUT. ME. I'm not proud of that. Why do I struggle with these things? I don't know, but I do. Parenthood is really sharpening me. If marriage wasn't already doing that (which it is) OHHHH MAN, parenthood is.

Let me just say this. I have a spirited son. It's true, my 18 month old son is so super spirited and has been since day one. Throughout pregnancy, I would always say, "I can already tell that Case is just like you, Aaron. So calm and patient. So easy going." But I confess that I would verbalize those thoughts because on the inside, my mind was screaming, "Oh dear Jesus, please don't let Casey be like me! Please don't let Casey be demanding, stubborn, whiny, etc. like me!" You see, not to throw my parents under the bus (who are so loving and amazing, by the way!) but I heard some of these negative labels for being a strong-willed person. And it's ok, mom and dad. It's hard - really hard! I know how much you loved me and still do! I've already used a lot of those words in regards to Casey and I probably will again. But thankfully being strong-willed can be super positive if we would just call it something else. And so we have it: SPIRITED. (Dad, you know you're spirited, right?) ;-)

I'm currently diving into this beautiful book called "Raising Your Spirited Child" and it speaks to my heart. And I know that will allow my heart to respond to my son in a way that he needs so he can understand that it's ok to be spirited. After all, those of us who are spirited make others feel valued and welcomed. We also stick to our guns and conviction and we're not afraid to share them! We just need to be directed and taught to channel them appropriately.

So this is where I'm at. Seeking more authenticity, learning to turn negative thoughts into positive ones, wanting to put my husband and my son above time spent on Facebook, and wanting to connect more personally (though still out in "lala internet land." I can't help that I'm stuck on an island far away from most of my friends who read my blog. Oh wait, I'm not complaining about being on a far away can you were wondering! So will you join me? Let's stay in touch and share our lives with more than status updates. Are you with me?

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mr. Brown

Leave it to a father (or at least my husband) to change the words from "Mr. Brown can Moo! Can You?" to "Mr. Brown Can Poo! Can You?"

I think Dr. Seuss had it coming. Naming his character Mr. Brown AND choosing "moo" which clearly rhymes with "Poo." Didn't he consider how men think?? My son will never read books the same again...

Friday, November 16, 2012

No air conditioning...and THANKFUL!

Can you believe it? I never thought I'd say that while living in a warm climate. Hawaii has a predictable 80-85 temperature on a daily basis. We live on the windward side of the island, so we get a bit more rain - and obviously more wind - than the eastern side. The clouds will blow in briefly and it'll rain for about 5 minutes really hard each day and then stop. Just enough to water the vegetation and keep it green and lush.

I love not having air conditioning because there's something really amazing about fresh air blowing through the house every second of the day. And it really is fresh...blowing right in from the pacific ocean. We have so many huge windows in our house and we love it!

Our little plantation home was built sometime in the 1930's - before Pearl Harbor. It's OLD. But old means character. And character is totally us. Most of the home is in its original state. It has been updated here and there, but still has preserved details. The original doors, cabinets, knobs, etc. The wood floors creak when we walk, but I can't help but wonder whose feet walked along these floors in the 1930's. What was life like on the island then? This home has many stories to tell, I'm sure.

We're also living out the truth of "need" vs. "want." Starting over with everything from silverware to furniture really made us re-evaluate what we needed on a day to day basis. For instance, I have two pans for cooking and one pot. One of the most ridiculous things we ever owned prior to moving here was an entire set of pots and pans. Who needs a 16 or even 20 piece set of cookware?! I never used half of it. I only dropped those pieces on my toes while trying to shuffle around them for the pieces I really needed in order to cook.

Speaking of meals, we are on a tighter budget than usual. Island life is pretty pricey. Gas especially. But we are getting by on our Honda Pilot (love the Pilot) and Aaron purchased a bike to ride the 4.5 miles to work. We are fortunate to live a short 10 minute walk from the beach and another short 10 minute walk the other direction into downtown where shops, boutiques, restaurants and grocery stores are located. We have a Whole Foods and a store called Down to Earth. I love both, of course! We aren't eating out much - if at all. I have to know what's in my food because of my health concerns, so it's better for me to cook at home. I actually love it. I've learned to be really creative with meals and I'm mastering tasty dishes like curry, fish, vegetarian dishes, baked goods (wheat free), etc. I just made the most amazing banana choco-chip bread recipe that called for sorghum and teff flour instead of wheat/white flour. I also use soy/dairy-free choc. chips. YUM!

I could end up sounding like a broken record saying this all the time, but we truly love it here and feel SO BLESSED. We have such wonderful neighbors. They are a mix of native Hawaiian, Japanese, Tahitian, Chinese, Caucasian, etc. We love the diversity and the open hearts and lifestyles. Since everyone leaves windows and doors open, it's very much a community feel here on the island. We've already been invited to a family gathering next door where we were served an amazing feast. I'm excited about all the relationship we will have with people here. Again, we feel so blessed.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Living Aloha

I'm still alive, my friends, still alive! I've been dragging my feet on posting any updates because 1) our lives have been nuts for about the past 2 months with our transition from Texas to Hawaii and 2) some things are happening that will require some serious posting and I just haven't found the energy for it.

Let's just say that I've felt in my heart that this transition would and will be a time of healing - spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically for us. We're making strides in our faith, strides as a family and I'm also making new strides with my health battle. I've had some people comment that life is so great for us. "You have a cute family, sweet baby and now you're moving to Hawaii!" But sometimes I just want to stop and say, "Hey, let me take you out of my Facebook world and into reality...because life is messy, brutal and beautiful or brutiful" (as Glennon calls it.)

Oh and please allow me to have my cheesy "star-struck" moment while I blog here. I totally got a personal email from Glennon, the Mama-Monkee herself. And it made my day. She is a genuine soul.

Now back on topic. So yes, we are blessed to live in this paradise of a place. I would be lying if I said it seemed like every other time of our life. We seriously have the beach outside our door, fresh fruit everywhere and it's pretty easy to live "Aloha" when you're in a place where people aren't typically in much of a hurry (we'll see if that gets a little irritating after a while) and it's easy to make friends. People are open here and unafraid to put themselves out there. It must be part of the culture and I LIKE IT.

We're super excited to move this week into our newest home in Hawaii. It's the cutest little plantation style home with lots of character and some serious classy-vintage appeal. Craigs List here on the island is like hitting the lottery. So are garage sales. People practically give their top dollar furniture away because it's cheaper than shipping it off the island when they move. So our friends we're staying with have been so kind as to allow us to accumulate amazing treasures in their garage. I'll be sure to post some pictures of our humble abode once we get settled.

Casey seems to be adjusting quite well to being an island child. He practically dives into the ocean which makes my heart skip a beat, but at least he's not afraid of water. We plan to get serious about teaching him to swim - maybe even paddle board - sooner than later so that he does all of it safely as he grows. It's the perfect age to start teaching these things! My only complaint with his adjusting is that he's decided that 6:30 am wakeups are super trendy and cool rather than his usual 7:30 or 8 am wake ups before moving here. I'm known to grumble a bit as I get out of bed...I admit. But nothing beats waking up to daily sunshine if one MUST get up at the crack of dawn. I really want to be an optimist!

Aaron is hating his new job. He has a view of the ocean AND the beautiful Hawaii mountains. Wouldn't you hate it too?!? Obviously i'm kidding. He LOVES his new job - the people, location, type of work he's doing. LOVING IT. I couldn't be more happy for him.

So life isn't perfect. But it's good. It's an abundant, joy filled life...which is outside of our feelings and more about faith. God is good and we give him all the glory.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Chop Chop

I did it! I chopped my hair off. I said I wouldn't do this if we were moving to Hawaii (YES! That will be a post for another day.) But here I am, with much shorter hair...and I love it! I can still pull it back so it's definitely beach friendly. But now I can almost style my hair in less than 10 minutes. Give me less than 5 if I let it naturally curl up. My hair is so curly when it's this short! It's an inverted bob cut, so it's shorter in the back.

Please forgive the silly self-portrait
The Mr. doesn't know about my new "do" yet since he's been traveling all week. Do you think he'll like it? I'm already bracing myself for the "Oh, it's like a backwards mullet" comments from Aaron. "Party in the front and business in the back." Ugh. If you know him, you're laughing at this right now...HA HA.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I know, lame title. But seriously, i'm so excited to document this post today. Case is finally saying more than just "dada" and "mama." It's so cute! His new favorite words are "Whaaaaaaatttt??" "Ha" (for hot) and "mo" (for more.) Usually when he says "mo" he also signs it. I'm a complete sucker for him and I love it! He just melts my heart every single day. Oh, and since we're talking about melting, yeah....that's another thing that started. Casey's new MELTDOWNS. Sigh...
They usually occur when we won't let him go outside to play. We keep calling him Mowgli (from the Jungle Book) because the kid could live outside and never come back indoors if he had it his way. I've discovered his new happy place: in the driveway naked and playing with the water from the hose. I can keep him entertained for so long! It's perfect for these crazy hot Texas days.

I'm loving this stage because he's silly and makes us laugh. He's learning new words and loves to help me cook in the kitchen. I spend so much time in the kitchen that I'm learning new ways to involve him. I'll let him play with my measuring cups and spoons and he'll help me stir things on the stove. He knows very well what "hot" means and he's very careful. Such a smart boy! He's also turned into such a sweet cuddler! Priceless moments. Oh, and dare I even mention that he sleeps from 7:30 or 8 p.m. until anywhere form 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. I feel so grateful to have a champion sleeper especially with all my chronic fatigue . He also just cut his second tooth. I know, we're taking our sweet time with teeth! So far, he hasn't seemed bothered with any pain.

We're officially done nursing. He had weaned himself back to once a day around 13.5 months. He was nursing just once in the morning for about a month since then. It was funny to me that he never wanted to nurse at night. He wakes up so hungry everyday so I think that's why. But it just seemed like it was time to be done. I'm feeling more energized and he doesn't seem to miss it. I think that's also why he cuddles me in bed in the morning. He used to associate our bed in the mornings with his a.m. nursing session. I have REALLY struggled with hormones (from pregnancy and post while nursing) so I went as long as I could. I think almost 15 months is about as good as I could have hoped for! I do miss it, but I think it's the best decision for both of us.

Has anyone else felt like nursing took/takes so much out of them? It didn't matter how much I ate, it was really hard on my body. But you do what you can!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Greater Good

Photo courtesy of Getty Images/Jeffrey Hamilton/Lifesize

I hesitate to follow up on my last vaccine post that I ultimately removed, but I believe in the power of learning from one another. Again, my goal is for this topic to not create an atmosphere of frustration and/or anger. I only want to share resources that I believe are informative and helpful for parents.

If you haven't seen the documentary called The Greater Good, I highly recommend it. Though it certainly leans more towards the opinion on questioning vaccine safety, it does an excellent job of including science, medicine, concrete statistics and personal stories. It also covers the personal and medical opinions of those on both sides of the debate in a very respectful manner. My only regret is that the vaccine debate has become black and white when there is actually a lot of grey. It's important as parents to consider family history, genetic conditions and other health concerns before vaccinating according to AAP standards. While the AAP recommendations are a "one size fits all" type of medical approach to vaccines, this is not always realistic. Every child is different and every family has a different medical history.

If you'd like to watch the full-length version of The Greater Good online, you can do so HERE via youtube.

For further information on vaccines, you can visit the CDC web site and other helpful resources. And as always, I recommend reading information from both side of the topic in order to decide what's best for your family.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Taking a breather

I spent the last 3 weeks or so out of the "blogosphere" to spend much needed time with family. The funny thing is, I wasn't in Olympia for more than a few days since we ended up going camping in the RV with my parents at Lake Chelan. We even got to enjoy a beautiful winery. It was my kind of vacation! Casey and I flew out to Seattle at the beginning of July and spent two week with my family before Aaron joined us for the third week. We got to enjoy time out on Whidbey Island with the Meredith family for a reunion and we had such a blast! Casey loved meeting lots of cousins. He really loves other kids. He's a very social boy - much like his mama!

Casey is offically walking as of July 4. Let me tell you, he's on the GO! He has very good balance for such a new walker, but we do have a few bruises to show for our new skill. He's sleeping SO SO SO WELL. I had to stress that. I realize that can change at any moment, but I'm wondering if it has to do with all of this walking. He's wearing himself out big time! He would go down between 8 and 9 p.m. while out of town and sleep sometimes until 9 a.m. I bet I woke up before him about seven times while we were gone. He even did well in the motorhome. Ok, it helps that BaBa (grandpa) has air conditioning and a flat screen TV. My parents "camp" in style! Casey has always been a pretty good sleeper, but we've reached a new level of  "pretty good!" Waking up before your baby is heaven. Can I get an AMEN?! He talks (or should I say babbles) from the time he wakes up to the time he goes to sleep. It's so cute! He'll really get on a roll and wave his arms around too. Almost as though he's commanding an entire audience. He loves to say, "Oh oh oh" and pucker his lips together. He waves when he wants to and gives hugs when he's in the mood. Just a busy boy! We love him so much.

Friday, June 15, 2012

not your average grilled cheese!

Our good friends, the Andresens, gave us a subscription to Parents Magazine as a baby shower gift before Casey was born. I love reading their recipes and craft ideas for kids. They also have some hilarious articles and I'm always up for a good laugh. Parenting requires a sense of humor, does it not?

In this month's issue, I came across a new way of making grilled cheese. I didn't follow the suggested recipe to a "T" but it sure did give me a new idea. So I took the recipe and tweaked it a bit. This is what I came up with: (It's delish)

*Sliced bread of your choice (I used whole grain/wheat)
*1 apple sliced thinly with skin on (I used organic Pink Lady)
*Havarti Cheese (I used sheep milk feta for Casey)
*Seasoned organic grilled chicked - small cubes
*Organic spinach
*Organic unsalted butter on one side of each bread slice

Put all ingredients together between the bread slices and grill in a pan on each side until golden brown. Voila!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Spaceman Turns ONE!

Oh my goodness, our sweet, silly boy is ONE! This past year has been full of fun, hard work, lack of sleep, tears, giggles and more. What a wild ride - one that we would do all over again in heartbeat. The good with the bad! Casey, you are the joy on an average day; the smile in saddness and the love when our lives wanted more. You're so much more than we could have imagined or hoped for. Everything about you just melts our hearts and we can't get enough...ever! Daddy and I love you so, so much.

We had a bunch of our friends over to celebrate Casey's space-themed birthday. It was so much fun watching the kids gather around Casey as he dove into his cake! My parents and sister flew into town and we had a wonderful weekend together. We really missed Aaron's parents, but they're in the process of moving from Anchorage Alaska to Seattle. Woo hoo!! We encouraged friends not to bring presents for Casey, but suggested their favorite book if they want to bring something. He got some really great reading material to add to his library! I really love that he got a book from my friend Hadie (who is Puerto Rican) that teaches basic words in spanish. I hope Casey will pick up on some of the words.

I took Casey in to see a new doctor who is supportive of us delaying more vaccines, at least for a while. The doctor weighed him in at close to 21 lbs. We figure he weighs a bit more than that because he was sick with a 103 fever for 5 days before that appointment and wasn't eating solids. But I made sure to nurse him every 2-3 hours to keep him hydrated. He's a growing boy!

Food: He's starting to dislike certain foods. He used to eat anything! Bummer. He doesn't seem to like chicken anymore and will only sometimes eat ground beef. He LOVES hummus, coconut milk and fresh coconut milk/fruit smoothies, avocado, salmon (woo hoo!), bananas, grapes, peaches and more. Still no teeth! Silly boy. :-)

Development: He discovered how to say "no" by shaking his head back and fourth. Of course! He also loves to clap, especially when we say, "Yay Casey!" He's very proud of himself. It's too cute! He hasn't always been too much of a cuddler (he's on the go and busy!) but lately he loves to cuddle with us. If we lay on the floor, he'll come over and lay his head down and wait for us to pat his back. MELT ME. He also says, "Ohhhhhhh", "Baaabaa" we think either for "ball" or to say grandpa's name which we say a lot (my niece Addie has always called him BaBa.) He says "mama" and "dada" very well, but usually only says mama when he wants something. He's a smart boy! I had been working on teaching him "more" in sign language and he finally did it for my sister over his birthday weekend. Hooray! Lots of fast crawling, climbing and pulling up, but no walking yet!

 Casey LOVED his spaceship cake. He smashed it to pieces and we ended up hosing him off!
 Proud of his cake defeat!

 Spaceship cake and one-eyed martians! We used fruit candy canes, marshmallows, cake paint and candy eye balls.
 "The spread" along with cupcakes for all the guests.
Aaron and I made Casey his very own jetpack to fly to the moon!


*I have made the decision to delete my recent post on vaccines. I want to thank everyone for their input, but I felt that it was turning into too much of a debate. My intention with the post was not to create an atmosphere for frustration, but I had hoped it would be an informative post. I always welcome different opinions from my own but feel this is the best decision. It was certainly interesting hearing from people in support of vaccinating children as well as those against it.

This is not a cut and dry topic at all, so please be informed before making a decision regarding your child(rens) healthcare and know that you are your child's best advocate.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Breastfeeding in Mongolia

This is such a great article, I HAD to share!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"Yeah...Let's just talk later..."

Does anyone else feel so completely different from their husband?? I mean aside from the obvious MAJOR differences (just use your imagination, ok?) Aaron and I - well, we are not the same. Aaron is a very gentle soul who thinks a lot but says very little. I'm fairly certain that it's not because he has little to say, he just keeps things to himself most of the time. Aaron is perfectly content curling up in a chair and reading through an entire 1000 page book in one day. It's truly a beautiful thing that MAKES ABSOLUTELY NO SENSE TO ME.

I, on the other hand, go one day stuck inside my house and i'm jumping up and down about getting out to the grocery store. I start talking to the boy stacking apples in produce about how nice the weather is - he starts to think i'm crazy for sure, but he smiles and keeps nervously stacking. And to the woman placing her items on the checkout belt behind me about "how good that chocolate cake looks." "By the way, are you celebrating someone's birthday tonight? My son will be one in just about a month!" (Fight back tears while talking to stranger...FIGHT BACK TEARS WHILE TALKING TO STRANGER.) Yep, Aaron and I are very different.

Really, though. I love those things about Aaron. I really do. I find it amazing that someone can love so much quiet time to themselves. Introverts: How DO you DO it?? Can you teach me? Darn, probably not.

Sometimes I get down-right pissed, but other times (like today), I simply hang up the phone and chuckle after a conversation like this with my husband:

Me: Calling Aaron....

Aaron: Monotone - "Hello."

Me: "Hey....uhh, Casey hasn't slept much today. I don't know what's going on but I wish I had done something about those fire ant bites a few days ago. I wonder if they're getting really itchy and bothering him. (Side-note: I know, we're terrible parents for not watching him close enough to know he had crawled into fire ants in our backyard. Ugh.)

Aaron: "Hmmm.."

Me: "Can you come home earlier than last night? I'm trying to get shishkabobs ready, but it's not going so well with a screaming child..."

Aaron: "Sure."

Me: "Oh by the way, I called and exterminator to come out tomorrow and get the critters out from our walls (another story for another day). They said it could be rats, or snakes, or squirrels, or...something else. AHHHHH!!!!" *Very dramatic.

Aaron: Silence...

Aaron: Silence...

Aaron: Silence...

Me: "Yeah...let's just talk later."

Aaron: "Ok."

I think i'll go read "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus" now. Marriage is such a beautiful, strange thing. :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Love and Diapering

I titled this post "love and diapering" but it encompasses two things about my heart: my love for people and my love for cloth diapering. How can someone love cloth diapering so much? Well, it saves us a ton of money, is good for the environment and is so very healthy for babies. Have you ever read about the chemicals found in disposable diapers? Eek. In case you were curious, Casey has never had a diaper rash. Ok, he had ONE, but that was in Hawaii when we were using disposables - ah ha. Sure, he's had some redness here and there, but that's common depending on what babies eat.

Those of you who know me, you know how much I genuinely love people - all people in all walks of life. No need to explain myself here. :)

One reason (of many) why I'm passionate about cloth diapering is because of what it means for LIFE. Ok Jenny, what on earth do cloth diapering and life have in common? Well, while working with women in unplanned pregnancies, I heard many women say in the counseling room that they wanted to end their pregnancy because they didn't have any money. Guuuhhhh - SINKING HEART. God forbid we ever put a dollar amount on a precious human life. But in some ways I really GET IT. I think there's certainly a flaw in thinking here, but on the other hand I truly have compassion for people who are financially strapped. Those of us who have babies know that they don't come cheap! Money does not provide happiness, but it does provide comfort. When there isn't enough in the bank account, we can be robbed of peace and joy. It's a vicious thing, but so common. I read this study by Huggies that revealed that many low income women/men/families are using hair dryers to dry out disposable diapers in order to reuse them because they don't have money to buy more. This is such an unsafe practice and a huge health hazard for babies! This breaks my heart. While many who use disposable diapers hate buying them, there are other people who simply can't buy them at all. I've also been reading that the government may provide cloth diapers through WIC, but i'm not sure how likely that is. Oh how I wish! I would support this 100%.

I've been thinking about somehow getting involved in teaching cloth diapering classes for free to low income parents. I want to get more involved in my community here in Texas. I want to help people in practical ways. I'm currently researching and hoping something will come of this.

Do you have any ideas to pass along to me??

Friday, April 13, 2012

10 Months!

I've been pretty behind on Casey's monthly updates, but I'm really trying not to beat myself up over this. He's just over 10 months and such a funny little guy! I love this first picture of him because it captures his favorite past-time...eating! Caseman looooooves to eat! He has such an appetite. I'm thinking that he eats more than I do in a meal. He's also still nursing about 5 times a day. Yes, clearly he loves food! He's growing so fast and we've noticed him getting heavier and heavier. I'm wondering what he weighs now. He's got to be well past the 20 lb. mark! He makes all kinds of noises when he eats. He screams and growls when he wants more. He's really into feeding himself, but if he runs out of food he makes these trademark noises to let me know, "Mama, I want MORE!" It's so funny! He's crazy. :)

So far he loves: Avocado, banana, egg yolk, pumpkin, ground turkey, beef, chicken, greek yogurt, kefir, mama's homemade blueberry flax bread (paleo/gluten-free), quinoa noodles, apple granola bars, yogurt melts, rice, hummus, and more. We've yet to find something he won't eat. Food is FUN!

We've now removed the tray from his chair and we pull him right up to the table. Thank goodness for this food mat! It's perfect on our table and makes clean-ups much easier. We also take it with us when we eat out.
It's a challenge to get this busy boy to look at the camera these days!
Easter 2012
Casey is officially a go, go, go kind of baby! He crawls everywhere, pulls up on furniture and cruises. Sometimes he'll let go all together and then his eyes get big when he realizes he isn't holding anything. Then he'll grab a piece of furniture really fast. It's so cute! We think he might be walking sooner than later. He gets into stuff he knows he's not supposed to. It's frustrating but funny all at the same time. He loves to go for the wine rack. I know we could move it or block it with a gate, but we've decided to go the "no touch" route. We want him to learn that just because something is out, there are just some things you "don't touch." He knows the wine rack is off limits (it isn't something he can pull on top of himself) and that's exactly why he goes for it. As he crawls over to it, he looks back at me with squinted eyes and a smirk. It's like he's saying, "Heyyyyy mom! Look what i'm doing! Try and stop me!" Their strong little wills come out quickly! We're officially chasing him down everywhere. It's a good workout for us! We know we're getting more to the point of shaping and disciplining. I'm pretty sure this will be the most challenging part of parenting, but we're up for the challenge. We love our Caseman so much!
Casey, you are so much fun and we love being your parents. I love my mommy time with you during the day. We went out the other day on a "date" and got matching Toms shoes. Then we shared lunch and you ate most of it! You love your daddy so much. The two of you run around the house and explore outside when he gets home from work. You love digging around in the grass and getting dirty. You're the sweetest boy in the world! We love you more than you could ever imagine.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Birthday Planning!

Ideas courtesy of this site
I can hardly believe that we're less than two months away from celebrating our sweet boy's 1st birthday. It's so cliche to say that time flies. Of course it does! I think I'm more in awe of the milestone. Casey is turning into such a handome, funny little boy! We see more and more of his unique personality with each day. We love waking up in the morning and hearing him playing the music on his "stuffies" (teddy bears) from his crib. He "ooohs and ahhhhs" as they sing. It cracks us up!
Whenever you have a baby, you come up with the silliest nicknames. We have at least 3 for Case. Just the other day, Aaron was commenting that we better call him by his real name or else he'll think his name is "Little Man", "Caseman" or "Spaceman!" I also call him "stinky-stink" or "Stinker-stinks" sometimes. I know, it sounds mean but I say it in a very endearing tone! His nursery smells like pee every morning when we get him up. I mean, the kid sleeps in the same diaper for 12-14 hours straight! I remember my niece's room smelling the same way. My sister called her, "Pee-pee long stocking." :) Yes, we're pretty weird as parents, aren't we?
The nickname that has really stuck since day one is Caseman Spaceman. I'm not completely sure where this came from other than that it rhymes. Aaron started it - I know that for sure! So it made sense that he would be Buzz Lightyear for Halloween. And now for his 1st birthday, we will be celebrating "spaceman" style with an outerspace theme. I've been surfing Pinterest and have found so many ridiculously cute ideas. In fact, I came across a few things I could print for free! I'm already well on my way to having this party planned. I can see it all in my mind and I can't wait. I'm even going to attempt my own home-made spaceship cake. Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Toy Storage - Pinterest Inspired

I've been eyeing this Pinterest project for WEEKS and I finally got motivated to make it happen. For $15 dollar and only about 20 minutes of work, I think it was worth it. Read below about how I made it . It's super easy - trust me!
You'll need 6-10 buckets. I found these at Target in the Dollar Spot. Perfect! But i'll warn you: I was going for 10 but could only track down 7 in San Antonio (thankfully all at the location by our house.) But after asking other stores, they were completely sold out. I doubt anyone else used them for this purpose since they're drink buckets, but handy are these?? Using only 6 still worked just fine for our toy storage needs.
Just grab your husband's drill and switch out the drill bit to this:
One with a pointed tip is what you want to use so that you can drill right throught the plastic. I just lined the buckets up how I wanted them and eyed it. You could mark where you want the holes with a pen or marker. After drilling the holes, use zip ties (I didn't take a picture of this because it's pretty self-explanatory) to hook the buckets together. It's easy as pie.
I'm using it up-right to also block our fire place from a curious little boy, but it's really cool laying flat as well.
Can I just mention that the original Pinterest pin came with a price tag - from the company who came up with the idea - of $200. How crazy is that?! I wish I had come up with this idea first! Gotta love Pinterest.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Not Keeping Up

...with the Joneses that is. With this whole connecting through social media fad (sadly, it's the way I stay connected with most people since becoming a new mom, moving, etc.), it's easy to look at status updates and think everyone else has it all together except you. The truth is, I don't and I know everyone else doesn't either. Relief! Life isn't easy for us right now. I say "us" but it's probably mostly me. I have a bad attitude and I know it! Aaron is traveling constantly right now. He's home one week this month. When he travels, it isn't just a few days. He's gone all week and over two weekends. I never imagined having a baby and feeling like a single mom. This isn't intended to be a slam on Aaron. He's the most amazing, loving father and husband, but it doesn't change the fact that when he's gone, I feel very much alone. I know I've said in the past that I wouldn't talk about this because I have military friends who might roll their eyes at me. I respect what they have gone through and are, in some cases, currently going through. I get that and my heart bleeds compassion for them! But each person has their struggles and it isn't really right to stack them up against each other. We don't live anyone else's life, we live our own. Aaron served his time, and to tell you the truth, we made a decision for him to get out because we wanted to spend more time together. Well, yeah....You can probably guess what I was gonna say!

Aaron works so hard and has the best attitude. I wish it would rub off on me more! I'm easy going, but I hate it when things don't go the way I had imagined. IT SUCKS. I'm working on this, but i'm still very much in process.

I'm currently in a season of deep soul searching. Here are a few things i'm wrestling with - in no particular order:

1) What it means to be a supportive wife, but also honest
2) How to overcome obstacles without compromising my character
3) How God can use me even as a stay at home mom (who has no current desire or need to work)
4) How to build deep friendships while my time is very consumed with raising one under one and the hopes of more
5) What God really says about sin through His word
6) Specifically, how does God want us to feel about homosexuality and respond to it (I really HATE that it's stacked up as the worst sin, along with other types of sexual sin)
7) How to not hold other people to what I believe is right or wrong and simply meet them where they're at in their life
8) To not feel guilty about my lack of Bible knowledge. I'm currently reading throught the entire New Testament and getting so much out of it. I've come to grips with the fact that I've placed too much trust in what I've heard form everyone else, but not from my intimate relationship with God Himself
9) Accepting and LOVING that we're in Texas for many reasons, even if it's soley to learn lessons. But I also believe there must be someone or people here to minister to
10) Wanting to be less of a "conditional" person. For example, feeling happy when good things are happening. I think you can probably get what i'm saying here
11) Not living in FEAR that time is wasting away - esp. with Casey. I spend so much time trying to keep my head above water and feeling stressed, but I know i'm missing out on certain things. It makes it even worse that I recognize this!
12) Being less political in my thoughts and more passionate about individual things and a reflection of JESUS in what I do and say

Clearly i'm anxious about being anxious about being anxious.....I sound like a lunatic. HA! I guess I could say I'm also working on not caring so much about what others think of me. ;)

Well, how's that heavy load for a Friday night?! Am I the only one that feels the weight of the world sometimes? What struggles do you have?

Thursday, February 23, 2012


We're back from Hawaii and had a terrible time. KIDDING! But of course you knew that. ;) Wow, a lot has happened since my last post. Aaron's travel schedule has gotten nuts, so we actually flew out to WA to see family before we flew out of Seattle for Kona. We had to change our flights a bit to accomidate Aaron's last minute work adventures ("adventure" is a great word to describe this new job!) but all worked out well in the end. Plus any reason I can find to visit family is always fine with me. We just realized that Casey has now flown for the 12th time. Can you tell we live far away from family or what?! He's a great little travel companion.

I won't go into too much detail about our vacation because it will only make you jealous, i'm just sure of it. Plus it was much more fun to live it than to type it or for anyone else who wasn't there to have to read it. How about I just suggest that you take a trip to Hawaii?! We visited the big island and stayed "local" style in a family friend's home. It was truly such a wonderful getaway. Aaron's parents were gracious enough to invite us to crash their 2.5 weeks vacation for a week. We can't thank them enough!

Since my last update, Casey turned 8 months. He's now eating more "man" food. He had some quinoa noodles with tomato sauce and BEEF...small bits. ;) My dad will be so proud. He also started saying, "mamamama" and "dadadada." I think he just likes the sound of both, but of course it melts our hearts! For Aaron's credit, he started saying dada first. My husband is very competative!

Here are a few pics - out of TONS of great ones - to highlight our last few weeks:

I know, we really do have the cutest kid on the block!

Would you believe that this is a shot of our FIRST real date since Casey was born?! Yeah, I don't recommend waiting that long. Aaron's parents took Casey for the day while we lived the life on the beach in Kona and then went out to see Polynesian dancing. Aaron also treated me to fancy drinks and good food at a restaurant on the beach. It was UH-MAZING to say the least. Casey was a stinker and wouldn't take the bottle, so he didn't eat until we got home. He's clearly stubborn and doesn't get that at all from me.......hmmmm........

We visited the southern-most point in the USA and had to take a cheesy, touristy picture of course. We saw a huge pod of whales. No joke, tourists pay hundreds to go whale watching in Hawaii this time of year. We saw ours for free. It was so thrilling and I wonder if I'll ever see anything like it again in my entire life! Seriously. It made me want to be a oceanographer. Is it too late to go back to school??

Monday, January 16, 2012

My Confession

I've often patted myself on the back for not ever (not even once!) signing my name with my maiden last name since the day Aaron and I were married. I've still never done it, but I may have recently done something even worse.

I've been wanting a monogrammed bag from lands end like this one for a few years. I just love that the style is timeless, they literally are supposed to last a lifetime and they can be used for a million different things - traveling, beach, groceries, diaper bag, etc. Well, with our Hawaii trip for Aaron's big 3-0 around the corner, I thought this was just the perfect time to get the bag I've always wanted. As a bonus, they were on sale. I really wanted a bag that zipped that would be perfect for holding all our stuff to take to the beach. So I went to the Lands End site and began processing my order. As I anxiously awaited my bag in the mail, it finally arrived on Saturday (hooray!) But my excitement was crushed when I pulled the bag out only to read my monogrammed initials as "JMG." Ugh, are you serious, Jenny?!?!?!? You haven't been "JMG" in nearly 4 years.

Lesson learned: Never make a special order that is non-returnable while your husband is on business travel the entire week, you're sleep deprived and you have a sick baby. BUMMER.

At least the bag is still totally fashionable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Casey at the Bat

It's funny how many comments we've gotten about Casey's name. Most people say, "Oh that's a cute name." Sometimes people have the guts to say, "Hmm, I mostly know girls with the name Casey." I can honestly tell you that I'm not offended because everyone has name associations. And just for the record, all the people Aaron and I have known with the name Casey are guys. But, sometimes we'll get, "Oh, yeah, like Casey at The Bat." YES! The classic poem by Ernest Thayer was one of Aaron's favorites while growing up. For those of you who don't know, Aaron has been dubbed "the walking sports almanac" by many who know him. He can tell you sports stats from long before he was even born. So being the sports fanatic that he is, it makes complete sense to us that our son would have a name with a sports connotation! You can read about Casey at the Bat here.
If you take the time to read it, (or even if you don't, i'll just tell you!) Casey actually strikes out at the end. People have cracked jokes about this. We've heard, "Wait, but doesn't Casey strike out?!" Yes. Yes, he does. But one of the biggest lessons we want Casey to learn in life is that he won't "win" all the time. In fact, he's guaranteed to strike out in life probably more times than he'll actually win. But this is one of the best ways to learn and grow. Now don't get me wrong, I would disappoint Aaron if I didn't say that we certainly want Casey to TRY and win each and every time. That is true. But we don't want him to have the false idea that it's always a successful attempt. It takes a lot of faith, hard work and dedication to succeed in life and life is filled with painful disappointments as well as celebrated achievements.
I want to include an article Aaron's dad had published in their local newspaper in Alaska. It speaks to what i'm saying here, but on an even deeper level. Truthfully, I nodded in agreement as I read this article for the first time. But as a mother who loves her son with wild abandon, my heart also broke. Life is HARD. And no one gets a free pass.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I had "always" planned on being good about updates on Casey after each month. Alas, as real parenting would have it, the blog falls to the bottom of my list. Not because I don't enjoy blogging, but it just isn't a #1 priority. With that being said, I of course missed posting about Casey's 7 month birthday. So no cute picture with a sticker. Did I honestly think I could keep this up every month?! Here it goes:

Big changes have happened with Casey. Aaron and I have actually seen him change the most we've seen yet. Crazy! He sits up completely on his own, eats various foods (and LOVES them all), plays by himself (mommy appreciates this for showering!), giggles 'til the cows come home, has much longer hair that now spikes (if you've seen ads for the new TinTin movie coming out, his hair looks just like that!) and is seriously working on some teeth. No teeth yet, but my goodness it's gotta happen soon. Teething is the pits!! Poor kid. Truthfully, poor US too. We've entered the world of "real food poop" and still love cloth diapering. Some people in my family who will go unnamed were holding bets that we'd stop once he had his first really nasty poo. Sorry to disappoint! Still lovin' the cloth, y'all. In fact, we've now done two successful trip away still using cloth. We leave for Hawaii for Aaron's 30th birthday with his parents next month, and on that trip we'll be doing disposables. Not too bad though, eh?? Poor little Caseman Spaceman is very congested these days thanks to all the mountain cedar growing behind our house. Yeah, no one told us BEFORE moving to San Antonio that we'd be miserable along with everyone else in this city from December through February. Yuck!

Other than happenings with Casey, Aaron is doing really well in his new position. He has a lot more responsibility now managing an entire office of engineers. I'm really proud of him! I only wish we could see him more. He has a busy schedule and travels to different Air Force bases every month to oversee projects. This month he will be gone two weeks. I will NOT post my complaints here considering that two weeks pales in comparison to what a lot of my friends have gone through with deployments. So, in an effort to maintain my friendships, I will keep all complaints to myself. :) On the up-side, I'm involved in MOPS, a Bible study at our church and a library reading/play group. I added the play group under what i'm doing rather than what Casey's up to because I think the moms enjoy this group more than the kids do! I still don't have a really close friend or anything here yet, but I trust it will happen with time. I just need that one person I really connect with. Don't all of us women need that? I sure think so.