Thursday, December 29, 2016

Week 67

I'll just call this the week of the sick. First me, than Reuben... not a week I want to relive, but there were some highlights anyway. And lots of sleep. Missed sleep, I mean. Toddlers.

One Year ago is here!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Week 66

Wow, week 66 of vlogging! Time has flown indeed. Reuben learns to eat with a spoon and drink out of a cup. He's growing so fast!

One Year ago can be viewed here!

Week 65

Thanksgiving week, although we do not celebrate it historically. Mostly a time of fun, to get together with friends and eat good food! Brian and I started out going on vacation to the mountains to hike for a few days, and wrapped it up playing video games, seeing his mother in law, and hanging out with our cute offspring. A good week for sure, and I loved being close to those I love.

Sadly, my maternal grandmother (my mother's mom) died this week. It's been hard for her, and I would love it if you guys would keep her in your prayers. I am named after this grandmother, but do not know her well.  It is sad to think that Reuben will never meet his great grandmother....

One year ago is here!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Week 64

This was a fun week--our four year anniversary. I can't believe it's been FOUR YEARS! Next week we are going on a vacation to celebrate, yay! This week was fun, and full of really good food. Also, still doing Nanowrimo, so less footage, more writing. Lots of writing.

One Year ago is here!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Nourishing Meals Review

I'm always on the look out for good gluten free, soy and dairy free meals, and I loved that this book included all three of our families major allergies in every meal!

I've tried a few of the breakfast dishes. Breakfast is getting hard around here with a toddler that wants more than fruit on his plate now! The coconut raspberry muffins (P138) were extremely delicious! I want to try the date and walnut cinnamon swirl muffins on the next page soon.

I also made the classic pumpkin pie (p410) twice! It's delicious and I can't tell it's dairy free at all!

I do wish the book had more pictures in it. I'm prone to skipping through cookbooks and looking at the pictures and deciding what I want to eat that way. This one does not have pictures with the recipes and thus it takes a bit of elbow grease to find what I want.

But I do find, that when I make that effort, I am left with a very satisfactory and filling meal that is enjoyed by the whole family. And I would recommend this cookbook to anyone who is dealing with allergy issues!

Saturday, December 10, 2016

10 Months Paleo

I've been paleo 10 months. This month I've indulged in a bit much rice. But hey, its the holiday season and I love rice, so whatever. It hasn't bothered me yet, but as rice has basically no nutritional value so I usually don't eat it. But...mmmmmh so good! I am not worried about my consumption of a few cups of rice a week at all. It's hard not to eat it when I make it so often for my carb loving husband!

This month is turning out harder than others for this paleo foodie--all the Christmas parties where I can't really eat anything. Although I did go to one with a pineapple tray that was excellent! I realize no one wishes to exclude others, but food sensitivities and allergies can make even the strongest person a little sappy, watching everyone else have their cake and eat it too. Paleo cake is good, but I can't cook it all the time. Nor do I expect others too. I'm not upset. Just truths.

I've been baking weekly at home, making my favorite treats. I plan on eating some dairy on Christmas, because I love cream cheese icing and I won't be able to say no. This is also something I am not going to beat myself up about. No one can be a staunch perfectionist all of the time, and I know I can tolerate dairy to a point--like once or maybe twice a month (but I still try not to, because holy bloating). Christmas is just the time for one of these wonderful exception moments.

I still plan on being paleo for the foreseeable future. My next plan of action is to buy Well Fed Weeknights. I love MJ's paleo cookbooks and definitely want to get my hands on her third installment. A book of paleo dinners that are all under 45 minutes? Call me hooked.

Other than that, I need to cultivate some herbs. I'm running low, and herbs are next to godliness in a paleo kitchen.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Week 63

This was the week Donald Trump became president and I mostly hid at my house with ice cream, reading facebook. And than deleting most my social media apps, because woah America we have issues and I can't deal with the negativity right now while changing diapers.

Still doing Nanowrimo here too. That, and the fact that America was basically an upset hormonal teenager this week caused...many shorter vlogs. Oh well. At least the ice-cream was good.

I also switched my end screen over to the new Youtube end screen thingie. I like it. Much yay. (Anyway, I am sorry it takes me so long to get the videos up on my blog, after filming, editing and stuff and uploading to YouTube posting them here is the last thing on my mind! But I do get to it. Eventually.)

Want to see us one year ago? Go here!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Superiority and the Natural Minded Mom

I'm a crunchy momma. We eat all organic, no sugar, cloth diaper, use unpaper son has never (to my understanding) had anything with artificial food coloring in it. He's never eaten fast food. I don't even eat fast food. I'm so far down the biomedical wormhole of  healing your body with whole, real food I don't think I could climb out if I tried. And I won't, because I cured my own chronic pain using food. I used garlic drops in my son's ears for his ear infection instead of antibiotics and we babywear year round. We are still breastfeeding at 16 months with no end in sight, and I am perfectly comfortable with him breastfeeding for as long as he desires. Even if he's five.

I love being a crunchy mom. I love raising my son how I think he should be raised.

Is crunchy, natural parenting "better" parenting, as many people would have you think? Are granola mom's really stuck up, elitist moms?

I can tell you how and why I became a crunchy mom. I read food labels, and I decided I didn't want anything artificial in my growing child who already has serious allergies. When ever I say this, many moms feel judged. "I read food labels too," they say, holding their kid who just devoured whole little Debbie cake in their arms, "and I can't afford that kind of lifestyle."

I think that may be the difference between me and the other moms I meet. I would give up almost every luxury to keep providing my child with whole, non-processed foods. It is a priority to me. That is why I do it, because it is extremely important to me. Not because I want to enthrone myself like some organic pariah on a waterfall of gluten free, sustainability harvested breakfast muffins. It's because I care about my child, and I see this as concrete way of caring about him.   

And that's when I always loose my audience. Because don't all moms care about their children? Does feeding my kid whole foods mean I care more? I read those ingredient lists, I see what a diet full of sugar does to society, and I say "not my child, I will give him the most nutritious food I can. This is important for his future and his body." And I set aside a lot of time to cook from scratch and to research food, and how it works within the body, and how it is harvested and cultivated. I want to know what is in my food. Sometimes I wonder if other moms just don't care. Sometimes I wonder why they let their kid watch 2 hours of television or more a day, and eat cake, ice-cream, deli meat, pasta, and other refined and heavily sugared foods. I HONESTLY don't get it, and I am being 100% transparent. Why do you guys do this?

There is a delicate line. I don't know where it is, but I probably crossed it in the above paragraph. I won't mince words, I want to address the elephant in the room, I want to tell you honestly what I think and the questions I have.

I know, I am not a better mom. I am a mom just like everyone else. I am only more informed because I made a choice to study and learn. Because I am a mom. My difference is information, information I am able to shift through in a relatively stress free environment. Information, and time. I am a stay at home mom, able to devote a lot of time into finding and cooking good food for my kid. I don't have a stressful job, I don't have to rush through cooking dinner. I made a choice with the information I had: and that choice was to say NO to artificial food after reading published studies from medical and nutritional journals, doing a lot of independent research and learning about the human body. I know my own choices, my own reasoning, but each mom has their own unique journey and that is why we bicker so much and think everyone else is trying to water their garden out of competition and not, you know, because water makes plants live. I'm trying to 'water' my son with whole foods not because I'm "such an awesome mom, omg" but because I really believe it's what has made humans thrive for hundreds of years, and the "food" of today's generation is doing harm to our bodies. And I can't live in silence anymore.

me, in iconic crunchy mom pose
I also know many of us moms have been lied to. We are told our kids issues like eczema, pain, constipation, hyperactivity and other neurological disorders have nothing to do with food or environment, that they are all genetically based and there is nothing we can do except start trying different pharmaceuticals. I was stunned when I finally realized MY BODY IS WHAT I PUT INTO IT. Sure, I have genes, and those do play a part. But my son's body, my body--we are what we put in it and on it. It becomes our fuel, it becomes us. And food does impact us. It does. To say otherwise is illogical. This is my foundation, the bedrock on which I put my nutritional choices. Other moms don't have this foundation, and that is why they make other choices.

How do we encourage real food in a world where food is a corporate enterprise? 50 years ago most houses would have gardens, 100 years ago most went to "farmers markets" every few days to stock up and every home would have a garden. Part of the problem is this disconnect we have with our food. The most common push-back to organics food I see is the expense. If it wasn't so expensive, would it be your first choice? Food prices are controlled by big corporations who ship from all around the world. Food used to be grown locally, not put on trucks and toted everywhere. We are trapped. It's a trap. We don't know how to grow our own food anymore and it's expensive. Can you see the trap?     

It's a journey. I suffered from chronic constipation for 12 years, and not one doctor ever mentioned that I could try a paleo diet, or restrict gluten, or try to go dairy free--all things I explored when I finally got fed up (because none of their drugs or recommendations worked) in a last ditch effort to try and heal myself. Six months into the paleo diet and my inflammation, pain and constipation are gone. After 12 years. My journey has made me a believer.

Sometimes I think mainstream moms simply are privileged. They don't have sick kids, and they've never dealt with autoimmune issues. I should envy them, but I can't get over what they eat. But mainstream moms also think I am privileged, with free time to devote to cooking and researching and a husband who makes good money to allow us to buy whole, organic foods.

Maybe we both are privileged.

Listen guys, I'm trying to be honest here. The truth is, and most of us crunchy mothers will tell you if you ask hard enough that we do think we are making better choices for our kids and our families. And that's okay. It does not mean you can't make the choices you want. It doesn't mean we think you are evil for feeding your kid a happy meal for the third time this week. It does not mean we think we are better mothers. It just means we are trying to inform ourselves what is in our food because we care about our bodies, the environment, and our children so much that we critically analyze everything.

And I'll support your right to choose what your kid eats until the day I die, even if I wouldn't eat what some consider food these days.

I'll leave on this note: what do we do about the supposed superiority of the natural minded mom? Listen to her. And don't take it as criticism on your own choices. Take it as her exercising her right to choose for her family, and celebrate her. And: how do we talk about what passes for food these days and extol the benefits of a whole food diet free of added sugar and refinement without vilifying those who eat that way? How do I say "we eat all organic" and "it's because refined food is bad for your body" and not sounds like a pompous prick?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Nanowrimo Week 5 Recap

So I'm sitting at 58,000 words! I would call my book done--well, the rough (very rough) first draft, anyways. And I don't have a title, so don't ask!

What I do have is more questions than answers at this point! So I wrote a book. Now what? Well, obvious--edit it! I am in the process of editing my book. First I'm going to take a few days off--writing every day has been a little bit harrowing. I need some chill time.

Starting in December, I plan to edit my first draft into a second draft. I will then try to get my husband or someone who understands grammar to edit the grammar of my book, because I still can't quite understand than/then too/to and other things that sound the same but are mind-numbingly different. Thanks, dyslexia. Thanks.

Then I will keep re-reading, re-editing for awhile. Sometime in March or April I plan on figuring out the whole create space thing, and getting some actual hard copies--that I will make available for beta readers. I will make a whole post where you can sign up to be a beta reader if you are interested in reading the probably horrible, one star story I spent my entire November writing. I can't wait to read the reviews. ((O_O))

Um. Yeah. That's my tentative time line. Please leave all thoughts related to self-publishing below. I need to go find that blog post I saved years ago from my favorite self-published author H. L Burke who wrote a how-to-createspace post on her blog. I remember this post. I hope I can find it later. On an unrelated note, if your name is H. L. Burke, I may be e-mailing you and requesting some online skype consultations because I've never self-published anything before and I feel very overwhelmed. Don't worry, I will pay you before I whine about my struggles.

But first the editing. I can't get ahead of myself! Edit. I'll worry about publishing when I, uh, have something publishable.

I still can't get over the fact that I did it! It's DONE. Why do I hear evil laughter in my head? Meh.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Week 62

I didn't vlog much this week--due to starting nanowrimo. It really does take up almost all of my free time! But I managed to write 2,000 words (my goal) each day this week. Also, Reuben started going to bed at 8pm every day. This helped me have an hour or two (plus nap time, that is, if he napped) to work on my book. If you've read my blog for a long time, you know I've wanted to write a book since I was a little girl. While I've started several stories, I've never finished anything. Perhaps that will change soon.

You can see last year's vlog here.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Nanowrimo Week 4 Recap

Well, I reached 50,000 words this Thursday, and today I have 54,000. I am not done with my story and plan on still writing 2,000 words a day until the end of November with a hope of finishing the arc (and my now goal of 60,000 words). I am really proud of myself for sticking with writing. I even wrote over my vacation, toting along a laptop and waking up an hour before everyone else to get some words out. I even typed a bit on the drive home, and that was after making sure I was three days ahead before our vacation week, just to be safe. I was really afraid I would fall behind and lose my focus and give up.

Even if I know I wrote this book, I have to thank my husband for supporting me. I couldn't have done it unless he had graciously let me use almost all of my evening non-baby time (that we usually spend together) to write. I mean, sometimes I would hit 2,000 words just by writing when Reuben napped and have the evening free for him, but that wasn't every day. I also used almost every nap time this month to write too, clacking away on my computer upstairs while Reuben slept on the couch in the living room for his afternoon nap.

I already have an idea for another story, but I am not starting anything new until this one is finished and edited a few times. I have not reread anything I've written, except I go back one or two paragraphs and "catch up" before starting a writing session. I know this will need extensive editing, and entire parts rewritten, and I don't mind. The hard part is getting it done. I have not tried to edit any of it yet because I don't want to get caught up in my mistakes, I'll do that when it's done! I'm SO EXCITED! I did it. I made it to 50,000 words, no one died, I can do this. I can do this. I did it! My fears feel silly now, and I realize that before I just didn't try hard enough. Writing a book is hard work. You have to persevere, and having an idea of what you want to right is a good idea, too.

And Novemeber isn't even over, so I can keep writing and hopefully finish my first rough draft. YAY! Now, the hard part is worrying about people liking it. I just won't read reviews. And here I am talking about my very rough draft like it's a decided thing, like it's published. It's not. The battle is not over. My dream to be in print is closer--but not done. Maybe in a few months to a year I will be!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The End of Babywearing

I love babywearing. Or I loved it, since I don't (often) babywear anymore! I was wearing daily, it used to be the only way Reuben would nap, and also the only way I could get things done, because he would cry when not attached to me.

I babywore a lot for sanity, because Reuben was very high needs. But I also babywore for fun! I thought you guys might want to see Reuben's babywearing pictures.

I will definitely wear my next baby too--it's wonderful for bonding and I enjoy it. With Reuben being so active now, we don't wear as much. I plan on making some babywearing posts and guides, now that I feel more like a seasoned wearer.

I started out using a moby wrap. This is a stretchy wrap, and you pre-tie it before placing baby in, so you can tie it on you as you go out and not have to mess with it when you get to the store. You can just take baby from car seat and put him on you. I used this until four months.

The next babywearing device I got was a ring sling. We loved this, it's easy and very comfy. I used this until Reuben hit around four months and he was just too heavy--I needed more support after that.

The third babywearing thing I got was a woven wrap. And this is where I found my sweet spot! I love how supportive and comfy woven wraps are, and how you can tie them lots of different ways.

I miss that wrap. I sold it to fund my diso, a rainbow wrap. But I love the rainbow more!

We also own a foxy tula. I love foxes on Rue, he owns a lot of fox print things. This is the most structured carrier I own, and it's great for long walks, and naps. Daddy uses this one on occasion as well.

Looking at these pictures just makes me see how much my Reuben has grown. Babywearing will always bring sweet memories to mind for sure. I miss it sometimes, but he's growing up and doesn't need me like he used to. Instead, he needs me in different ways, and each day with him really is more wonderful then the last. Here is to more snuggles!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Week 61

This week I had a Halloween party! It was all sorts of fun, and I dressed up as Sabrial from the book Garth Nix. Reuben was Bilbo and Brian was the bear from The Hobbit whose name I can't remember. Reuben also did all his cute stuff of course, and he's feeling much better and no longer sick. He knows three new words this week! (Goat, oh no, and read) as well as a few other phrases that I just can't make out yet but seem to mean something. This kid is growing up fast.

See us one year ago here!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Nanowrimo Week 3 Recap

Well, I made it to week three. Right now I have 44,000 words. 44,000! If I continue writing 2,000 words a day I'll have roughly 60,000 when December comes.

My story just reached the major climax point and it's a good pausing place. It feels comfortable. I almost don't want to start on the action because I know it's going to just all want to come out at once. Also--because I don't know what comes AFTER the action.

I've been having a hard time getting through the 2,000 words each day-- multiple "checking" my word count, getting distracted by ice cream and even wishing my baby would wake up because I can't write when he's not sleeping. The things I do to procrastinate. Where is an eye roll emoji when I need one.

Well, I'm proud to say I did write every day, sometimes more than 2,000 words because I am trying to get ahead a bit so I can take a few days off for a vacation that's coming up at the end of November. That may be why I am a bit burnt out, trying to write more. So even if it took me a bit longer to write and I hemmed and hawed about it, I still wrote. I'm proud of that.

I'm finding another difficulty--remembering things I already wrote. Like what day it is in my novel, non main character jobs, what people look like, and other miscellaneous things. I made a short list of names and jobs, but I still have to check almost every time so-and-so runs into other-so-and-so. And I think I may have skipped Tuesday, but I can't remember. I'll have to figure it out when I go back to edit. (And the days do matter, so it would be really obvious if I made this mistake!)

That's been a bit exasperating. There is nothing like getting in a writing groove and having to stop because you can't remember the name of where Nijul works or what deck of the space ship you put his eatery on. Seriously. Happened more than once. How do "real" writers cope?

Anyway, here is to another week! Only one and half weeks left. WILL I MAKE IT?!?!? And now I need to stop writing my update post and get through today's 2,000 words that I, ahem, already added to the total above since I'm pre-writing this Saturday night. I won't tell if you won't.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Paleo Cranberry Lemon Cake

I had some cranberries and a bunch of lemons, and wanted to create a dessert for my small group. I made this one up on my own, too! I am proud that it turned out incredibly scrumptious! This recipe is paleo, dairy, oil, refined sugar and gluten free. Enjoy!

You Will Need:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cups coconut flour
  • 1/2 cups full fat coconut milk (like the kind you would drink, I use so delicious brand)
  • 3 fresh lemons, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (grated lemon rind)
  • 2 tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1 tea baking soda
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1 cup honey 
Preheat oven to 306 degrees f. Throw the first 9 ingredients into the bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside. In a separate bowl, throw the cranberries in and wash them, and pulse in a food processor for 10 seconds. Add in the honey to the processor and pulse for 20 seconds, or until combined to your liking. I had to scrape down the sides a few times and break up some clumps.

This cake is made to bake in a bread pan. I coated the pan with coconut oil to help it not stick, but if you want oil free, just line it with parchment paper. Put half the batter in, layer the cranberry-honey mixture next, and place the other half of the batter on top.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes with oven rack in the center. The top should be slightly browned and a fork should come out clean (might have cranberry goo on it, but cake wise clean). Enjoy and share with a friend!

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Week 60

Reuben was sick for most of this week. We did lots of snuggling and nursing and cuddling--as daddy was also not feeling well, I did a lot of the parenting and all of the chores. It happens. I feel like super mom. God is so good.

I also went shopping at Walmart for the first time in YEARS. Seriously. And it will be years before I go again. Nothing against Walmart--its just not my store.

The sad thing about this week? I unwound half a sweater because it just wasn't working out. Sad times. I hate undoing knitting. Here is to next week and starting a new sweater...

Also, one year ago is here!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Quick Fancy Gloves

I created this glove pattern from my need for a quick knit. I had some bulky yarn and wanted to make some gloves for friends for Christmas. I wanted them to be fancy--so no boring ribbing--and easy. Thus the quick fancy glove pattern was born!

I made a full video tutorial where every step is shown. It's quite long, so I broke it up in steps. If you don't need to see every step, the pdf pattern with written steps is for you!

Happy glove making! To make these, you will need 100-150 yards of bulky yarn (makes all three sizes, one pair) and 4.5mm double pointed knitting needles (4).

Download the PDF pattern here. The video tutorial is below and can also be seen here.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Nanowrimo Week Two Recap

I wrote every day this week sans one. Right now I have 23,500 words! I am shocked. I'm almost halfway to 50,000, and who knows if my novel will be done when I get there, because a 50,000 word book is the minimum requirement, so I should have more, honestly.

This week I am proud of myself for staying on track. I haven't written today yet, so I will have even more words before Sunday is over, since I usually write in the evening, after Reuben goes to bed. He's been skipping naps lately, so that time hasn't been the most productive.

My book does not have a title. I'll worry about that, and cover art much later. After I edit it. A lot. It will need a lot of editing. But at least it will be DONE. I am so excited--I really hope I finish it. I'm further along than I ever have been, and I have a rough idea of what I want to happen so I don't feel that fuzzy "what the heck should happen next" feeling that I hate and that always makes me quit. I loathe that feeling.

Want to know a little bit about it? The main character's name is Olive, she is thirteen and lives on a space station with her sister Minny and her Mom and Dad. I like Olive, but I like her friend Marcy more. Marcy is more like me.

Yes, I wrote a science fiction young adult book. I promise to have ZERO love triangles. I am so over love triangles. And saving the world. Olive just wants to pass history and get along with her sister, so she really doesn't have a lot of time for world saving. Plus, the Earth already was destroyed's not like she can time travel. No time traveling.

Anyway, that is as much of a sneak peak as I'll give right now. Making a priority to write has been really fun, but I know my other priorities have suffered, like I haven't knit anything and sometimes I don't do the dishes until the next day, but hey--that's okay. I am learning to let this book be my goal for November, and I'll catch up on everything else later.

I could still use some prayers--I am scared I won't finish. You guys don't know how much this means to me. I have always let myself down in the past but I really want to finish something. I know I would never be able to if not for God. I know he gave me this gift. I hope I can honor him with it.

Here is to another week of writing! My goal is still 2,000 words a day. I hit that every day this week but one (I had to go to a party) but that's okay!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Week 59

This week we were sick again! Well, Reuben and daddy were. I miraculously escaped unscathed by illness. Reuben also points and claps now. He's growing up so fast. He still nurses a ton (but has dropped two or three nursing sessions during the day) and he does not sleep through the night. But that's okay, since we bed share I literally roll over and stick a boob in his mouth. Haha. But it's the truth. How was your week? (Also if you watch the video from last year Reuben was sick too!)

You can see one year ago here!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Pain Never Leaves

Sometimes it's hard to think about--I'd have 5 children if they'd all made it past the first trimester. I'd have an 8 year old little girl, and three unknown babies--and Reuben. One would be due soon, in February. The last one I lost, who I only knew about for three weeks before he or she passed.

Miscarriage is hard. And it never stops being hard. I remember when I saw my first baby on ultrasound at seven weeks. She was just a dot. Two weeks later she was gone. For nine weeks I thought about how I was going to tell my mother I was pregnant-- (I was not married and it was the summer before my junior year in college). Nine weeks my boyfriend and I struggled over what to do and edged around the topic like uncomfortable, but excited parents. When I lost her I went to the emergency room because I didn't know what was going on only that something was dreadfully wrong. I called my mother and she learned of my pregnancy and miscarriage in the same breath. She came and held my hand through it all and never once did I hear a word of judgement come out of her mouth. I love her to this day for it. Maybe she didn't know what to say. Maybe she knew that all I needed was her presence.

When I got married I was reassured that "miscarriages happen" and "one is normal" by many doctors. But I went on to have two more losses with my husband. Together we cried. I was certain I would be a mother to dead babies only, and never get to experience the joy of live birth or of parenting a toddler.

Reuben was born in 2015. He truly is a rainbow baby.

We lost another baby a few months ago. My next baby, if he or she lives--will also be a rainbow baby.

Over the years I have struggled with feelings of disgust over my body--my body that has failed to give these children life. Sometimes I hate it. I can't even look at my belly, bloated from my last viable pregnancy yet still an alien within my own bounds, a vessel that expelled as well as gave life.

A lot of people don't understand miscarriage and infertility and infant loss and that's okay. You know, they usually have to go through it to understand it, and its something I would never wish on anyone. I have friends who get pregnant easily and often, and sometimes they say insensitive things. But I envy them their privilege, their words that come from such a easy place when the babies they want come without effort or medical procedures. I try not to take it personally. They just don't understand. And I hope they never do.

I often wonder when the pain will leave. When will I not think of my little ones? I think of them often, especially when I look at my son, or my husband, or see pictures of myself in college. I think of the things behind Reuben's smiles and the pictures and see the babies that never were. Briefly they flittered across my life--now gone.

I am okay. I am okay but yet I am not okay. There is a duality to miscarriage that I never knew existed. I function and love and make happy memories with my Reuben and my Brian--I am fully present and aware and my heart it full of joy. But I also miss my babies and think of them often.

I know where I will finally be whole--when I am with all my children in heaven where they can all be in my arms at once. We will be together, and we will worship God.

I wrote this for Rachel.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Recap

If you've read my blog for as long as I've been posting here (anyone?) than you will know I have always wanted to be an author. In fact, I've "published" a few of my short stories and poems on my blog. But. But I've never finished anything. Ever.

So of course now that I have a baby, a vlogging channel, a husband, and several autoimmune diseases, I decided to do NaNoWriMo 2016 when a friend mentioned she was doing it. Because its still the number one desire in my heart, but it feels insurmountable. I couldn't write a book before I had a baby and a husband; so what makes me think I can now?

But it is my dream, guys, to write a book. My LIFELONG dream. And I haven't written a single story since 2014, when the one I was trying to write started to annoy me and I decided it was horrible and The Worst Story ever written and I subsequently gave up.

I just want to finish something.

I've given myself a goal of 2,000 words a day: I only need 1,700(ish) a day to make it to 50,000 by December 1st, but I want to make sure that if I happen to lose a day (because I have a toddler) I don't fall behind.

I was so scared when November 1st rolled in. Would I write anything? What would I write? What if it is horrible? What if NO ONE LIKES IT?

Clearly, I have great motives, guys.

Well, I am proud to say I have written 10,500 words as of today (the total for this week). My story is not perfect and I am sure that come December it will need a LOT of editing. But I am heaven bent on finishing something so that I don't have this "I never finished anything" THING hanging over my head for the rest of my life. So on my death bed when I go to meet Jesus I can die with one less regret.

I'm going to write a book, you guys. This is officially my last ditch effort. Send prayers. And chocolate.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Shallow Mitts

I finished my Shallow Mitts finally! I heavily modified the pattern. I made these in the round and added a thumb gusset and ribbing to the top. I love them and can't wait to gift them to a good friend of mine (who I promised to make gloves for last year...) oh well. Better late than never?

I made these on 2.5mm knitting needles with knit picks fingering 100% wool yarn. They are soft, and cling delightfully you your hand. I love the lace edging!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Week 58

This week ended with a sick baby, so that is really all I can remember about it. Also, my camera died and I didn't film on Friday because I was sure it was broken forever. Only took husband 10 min to fix it. I think I'll keep him!

See one year ago here!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Going Paperless

Something I've always wanted is to go as paperless as possible. In the last year I've been making small changes to try and implement this goal. Here is where I've purchased all my paperless products and also some thoughts on this journey.

My desire to go paperless/plastic free grew from my desperate researching when I was battling major health issues. I went to the doctor several times and was told nothing was wrong with me. But I knew something was. It took three years but I am now completely lost down biomedical rabbit hole--and also no longer in chronic pain, so I call it a win/win. One of the things I researched was plastics and paper, and as I was in the process of removing all hydrogenated, refined food from my diet I decided why not remove it from every part of my life as well--at least as much as I could. This was secondary to my goal of feeling better (because when you are in pain all the time your first thought is getting OUT of pain, not tossing your napkins).

So now I'm paleo and have more or less solved my issues biomedically--I want to go paperless.

Here is where I am so far and where I want to be: (none of these are affiliate links)

Unpaper Towels - I bought my unpaper towels (they clip together and hang from a paper towel dispenser) from Generation Me. I just clip them back on the end after I wash them. I've had them almost for two years now, and I love them. We have not bought any paper towels since purchasing (we still have some actually).

Cloth Napkins - I bought a set of blue cloth napkins to use to clean up Reuben's messes and as table napkins from Moo Cow Mama. I love them! I bought them at the same time I purchased the above unpaper towels so almost two years now. They have held up very nicely, and we have not had to buy any napkins since.

Cloth Pads - I went full cloth for my period almost three years ago! I bought my starter set from Pleat, but it looks like she's closed her shop. I love love having a cloth period-- no more itchy chemicals against my skin or plastics. It's been a game changer and it's really not that gross.

Cloth Diapers - My son wears cloth. He wore cloth from 2 months to 6 months, and from 9 months with no end in sight (he is 15m as I write this). We took a break when he started solids because I was overwhelmed with his allergies. I love our cloth diapers now, and plan to use them until we potty train! I bought them from Green Mountain Diapers.

Another thing I did was get rid of all pans that had any sort of teflon coating. We use only stainless steel pans. I also replaced all our cutlery (serving spoons and spatulas) with stainless steel versions. No more plastic! These two things I got at the local Krogers.

In the kitchen area, I replaced plastic sandwich bags with two reusable snack bags. To replace my freezer bags, I bought three silicone food storage bags. I need a few more of those, as we freeze a lot of things. To replace all the plastic leftover containers, I now store leftovers in jars, I bought a set of ball jars with lids from the local Target. Right now we have 12, but I want a second set in a bigger size. To replace plastic wrap, I bought some bees wrap.

For water, I own two glass water bottles. This means we no longer have to buy bottled water, and saves us space and money. I also recently replaced all our worn out and scratched cookie sheets with better browning cookie sheets. I bought two.

We also use reusable bags at the grocery store as well as reusable produce bags.

I am also trying to reduce the amount of plastic I wear by buying only cotton, wool or linen clothing. This is hard. Right now I don't get out to shop much, so I have a stitch fix box--if anyone knows of a ethical clothing subscription box, let me know and I'll drop stitch fix like a hot potato.

So that is where I am on this journey right now. My plan is to be even more paperless by 2018. I want to try a fully paperless kitchen (composting) and also learn to make my own toothpaste. I want to figure out paperless for tissues (like when you blow your nose) and also how to buy without creating so much trash. Right now there is one store where you can go to get dry products like beans and rice in bulk, reducing waste.

If anyone has any tips or suggestions I would love to hear them! What should I try next?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Paleo Butternut Alfredo

This is a total comfort food for me. Now I eat corn and quinoa noodles with this (they don't bother me) but if you are strict paleo I would use a (already cooked) spaghetti squash and add those "noodles" in where I add in my quinoa/corn organic noodles. I bake my spaghetti squash in the oven for about 1.5-2 hours. I just poke holes in it with a fork and bake at 350 degrees. *WARNING* This recipe calls for ALREADY SOAKED raw cashews. So soak some cashews.

You Will Need:
  • Three cups diced butternut squash, frozen or raw
  • 2 tbsp butter flavored coconut oil (or butter)
  • One diced onion 
  • 1 teaspoon rosemary, dried 
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage (or sub 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 3 cups coconut milk (from a carton, like the kind you would drink) 
  • 1 cup chicken broth (for vegan, sub vegetable broth) 
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup cashews soaked for at least one hour (if you have a vitamix blender) or 3 hours for a regular blender or food processor 
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice 
  • salt/pepper

Cook 2 tbsp coconut butter, diced onion, 1 teaspoon rosemary and 1 tbsp fresh sage until onions are translucent. Add in butternut squash and 1 cup of coconut milk and 1 cup chicken broth. Bring to a boil and cover--reduce head and simmer for 15-20 minutes covered until squash is cooked and soft. I found the frozen squash takes 15 minutes and the raw cubed squash takes 20 to soften.

While that is simmering, add 2 cups coconut milk, your cashews, and 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.

When your squash is soft (after the 15-20 min) flatten it with a potato masher until its a gravy. Add in your vegan cheese mix from the blender, 3 tbsp honey and 1/2 teaspoon allspice. Add in a pinch of salt and pepper.

Stir. At this point I add in my noodles and cover, adding a little more coconut milk or water to make it not so thick so that the noodles can cook (not more than 1 cup) I simmer my noodles, stirring occasionally, for about 8-10 minutes. If you are using the spaghetti squash noodles, I would just add them and stir for 1-2 minutes because they should already be cooked and tender.

Serve. Eat. It's that good!

Friday, October 28, 2016

Plated Book Review

I chose Plated because the cover looked nice. I know, I know, but I'm a stickler for nice covers. That's probably why they make covers: for us visually inclined people.

But I digress.

I'm paleo, and this isn't a paleo cooking book. But there are several recipes in it that can be easily modified to paleo and even a few that didn't require modifications!

I loved the section on kitchen basics. As a budding cook who still burns things and has no idea what I'm doing, it's so interesting to see what professionals call "basic" kitchen needs. I, for example, use a fork to mash my potatoes. It works. I expected to see a list of unattainable, expensive kitchen items, but I instead saw a simple list of things I already owned! It make me feel like a real cook.

The list of common cooking terms with explanations was also super helpful. I love how they told me exactly what they mean when they use the word "brown"or "braise" or other such large-vocabulary culinary words.

I did try two recipes. I liked them, but I don't think I will make them again.

So, final thoughts. Did I like it? Well, the prep and style just isn't' for me. I'm a one pot kinda girl with kids; I don't eat lamb. I don't have a lot of time to devote to cooking because I'm trying to keep my son alive and happy and make time to brush my hair on occasion.

But. But--its a good book for a fancy Friday night dinner, if someone watches my kid. And that's really it. I liked it, I will keep it--for a fancy dinner when I have some time to kill in the kitchen.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Week 57

Another week raising my wonderful son. This week we moved our TV out of the living room--to facilitate more family time together, and to curb me turning on the TV for Reuben when I need a break. I don't want him watching mindless entertainment when he needs to grow! If I need a break there are other things I can do.

Reuben also finally got over his fear of his slide. He can climb up and go down all by himself! It's fun and awesome to watch. 

You can see one week ago here!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Our Budget - Month 6

We are halfway though my year of budgeting and self-analysis of what our household spends. This month we met our budget (at least, I'm calling it a win even through it was $200 over). I am pleased!

So far I am noticing a trend. We go over our budget, but hit it the next month...and repeat. I hope we can break this trend and hit our budget for a few months in a row.

So what did I spend this time?

Bills  ($340)
  • Netflix: We have our $9.99 netflix account (went up $2 this month. still worth it)
  • Internet: We pay 60.00 for internet a month. It's expensive, but they only offer one service in our area.
  • YMCA: 75.00 for our gym membership--we have a family memebership now that includs Brian, me and Reuben
  • Phones: 25.00 a month for two phones with unlimited text and talk, no data.
  • Electric bill: $150 this month.
  • Water: $0 (we pay every 2 months)
  • Audible: $22.95

Baby Expenses ($109.32)

We bought Reuben some used clothes and a xylophone. Yay! We also bought him some custom made bibs on etsy that are sewn for super drooling babies. Reuben is a facet. It was needed.

Food ($936.69)
  • Eating Out: $102
  • Brian's Lunch at Work: $32
  • Grocery Shopping: $950
We only ate out three times this month as a couple. Once at olive garden, and twice at our favorite burger joint, Brauburgers. I'm still packing Brian's lunch 4 days a week, so that keeps his eating out at work budget low. Our grochery shopping budget was a bit inflated this month, but since we (basically) hit our goal I'm not too worried about it.
Gas ($76)

Brian spent $35 in gas and I spent $18. Yay, driving!

Personal Money (Brian $308, Carolynn $227)

I got a stitchfix this month and I kept one item. I also bought more crunchy cleaning products on mightynest to further go the natural route at home. I am loving switching over. I also splurged on some clothes at Target for fall and winter. Brian spent most his money on Amazon, and I am not sure what he bought! (Is this the month where he surprised me with a flute? Yup, it is! Best husband EVER).

Other ($248.5)

We have hired a babysitter every week for four hours. She is amazing and worth her weight in GOLD. Really. She's $40 a week for four hours. These are the hours I look forward to every week! I love my squish, but mama loves her alone time too. She was here three times this month, so $120.

We also spent 54.50 at the department of motor vehicle. I don't remember what on... We also spent $74 at home depo on a house-fixing project.


All in all we spent roughly $2,200. So close to our budget of 2,000 a month! After last months big spend, I am very happy with this number. Yay!

The 2016 budget series:

January 17th - February 16th
Feb 17th - March 16 
March 17-April 16th
April 17th-May 16th 
May 17th-June16th 
June-17th-July 16th

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Week 56

Reuben is definitely a toddler now. At 14 months old, he can clearly say no and even articulate one-word desires (up, go, no). It's so interesting to watch him grow as a person. I am also so very thankful for naps. I don't need a break from my son--but from his emotions and attitudes, sometimes space is nice.

Here is the link to one year ago today.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Reyna Shawlette

I finished my Reyna Shawl. I placed the rows where I wanted them and only used about half the recommended yarn amount, so mine is a shawlette and not a shawl. Oh well! I love it, and it will add a nice pop of color to my neck this fall.

I love the marbled blue in this yarn. It's like the ocean, with deep spots and lighter, sun kissed areas. I think it's beautiful. I used about 80% of a skein, so I have a little left over to add somewhere to something else later.

I also added a crochet edge to the shawl. I thought it needed a little something extra. I love the finished look. Shawl making is my new idea of seeking thrills and living life...

I want to make one in green next.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My High Needs Baby

Motherhood is hard. Just google "the forth trimester" and you'll understand. Or give birth.

It's eye opening. It's raw.

But there was something I didn't know.

All babies are different. Okay, I knew that. I mean, all adults are different. But I didn't know just HOW different they could be. And I didn't know that some could be high needs.

I mean, all babies have needs. But I'd never met a baby that would cry when they were put down. I'd never met a baby that didn't nap. I thought all babies went to bed early and slept at least for a few hours giving parents "adult time". I'd seen my friends Facebook status updates about this illusionary "adult time" that everyone else seemed to be having while my baby was still wide awake at 8...9...10pm. Every night.

I remember daily crying alone in the shower while my husband held our screaming infant downstairs, my soul aching for a few moments to myself while my heart broke over the sound of my son's upset wails.  This happened quite often in our house. He didn't nap. He didn't want to be apart from me. I felt like I never got to see my husband. It was stressful to think about cooking, much less attempt it. About the only thing Reuben did well was sleep at night: but only when attached to me and only from around 10pm to 3am. He had to be laying on my chest. I didn't even get to sleep alone.

Bed-sharing literally saved my life. Baby wearing allowed me to have a semblance of one.

I was shell shocked and alone. What was I doing wrong? Why wasn't my baby like everyone else? At four months he stopped napping completely during the day. I started having anxiety and panic attacks. This couldn't go on. I needed to be by myself somewhere and yet it seemed like my son needed me 24/7. Daddy tried to help, but the fact that Reuben seemed to want absolutely nothing to do with him probably didn't make him try very hard. At least, that is how I felt. I felt so utterly alone, so utterly shackled to this tiny human who would not nap--so desperate for some peace. His constant, never letting up need for me almost destroyed my marriage and my sanity. 

I now know I was the parent of a high needs baby.

At 9 and a half months, he finally started napping. I equate his high needs to his horrible food allergies--once we started solids at 6 months and were able to figure out what he was allergic to (eggs, dairy, avocados, banana, soy) and remove those things from his and my diet--that is when he started napping. His little tummy must have been in pain. Or maybe he was just high needs, but I do think that his life threatening allergies had something to do with it.

I've been around a lot of babies now, from friends and family alike. Some are high needs, some are not. My niece takes a three hour nap every day at the same time and puts herself to sleep after nursing since birth. She doesn't wake up crying, but smiling. The first time I witnessed this while babysitting said niece I was shocked. Was this real? Do babies like this exist? Did my sister know how lucky she was?

The truth is, I know, that all babies have a learning curve and all of them can be tough on us moms. But Reuben officially stumped me for many months and was the source of a lot of anxiety and confusion to boot. His learning curve was like an alpine climb! Some babies are hills. Some are mountains. And some are cliffs in three feet of snow.

At least I will be very prepared for my next baby, if God decides to grace me with another one.