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The days are noticeably shorter and the air temperature is steadily dropping.  I fear summer is officially gone for another 7 months.  I always get a little apprehensive in the fall knowing that winter is around the corner.  This year especially scares me as I’ve been spotting thick woolly worms here and there.  I haven’t seen since them since the fall of 2013 right before that dreadful winter that has me still scarred.  Bad omen?

But, there are two things which are helping me keep a positive attitude: 1) This is the first winter where we will have a fireplace AND good windows.  That should make a huge difference in inside temps.  and 2) the girls are both old enough to play in the snow for reasonable amounts of time, so at least we won’t be cooped in the house all day everyday.

Today we made an appearance at one of the local story times which we haven’t been to in a few months, due to summer and other things eating up our Friday mornings.  Today was a corner-turning day though, Bea sat through the entire story time.  Granted, we’ve missed large swaths of weeks there at a time, but I do remember when I first began taking her there, I would rock her to sleep on my lap so that she wouldn’t sacrifice her morning nap.

When she could stand, she became disinterested in my lap and would show some interest in the story, but would soon cave to curiosity over the contents of my purse.

When she could walk, she just wanted to walk.  There was no sitting her still, not for long at least, and not without the bribery of a cereal-filled snack cup.  But that only lasted a few minutes and then she was off exploring the shelves of the library and I was left to track along behind her, making sure she didn’t pull off too many books or stuffed animals.

But today she sat.  She sat next to her older sister, protector, her eyes wide with interest.  She turned her head to find me a few times, a pleased smile on her open mouth.  I think she felt proud that she was among the “big kids” now.  She watched the pages of the book being turned one by one, and offered no participation in the chants or songs, she simply observed.  Big Sis was unusually still today too.  Maybe it was due to our lack of recent attendance or maybe it was a silent mimicry of her sister.  I tend to think the latter.

MG’s eyes did carefully follow the teacher as she chose participants, one by one, to hold up a nursery rhyme card for the group.  I could feel her straining to be chosen, but not wanting to draw attention to herself.   As the stack of cards lessened, she successfully made eye contact with Mrs. C and was finally chosen to take a turn.  The pink card was still in the shuffle, and she unhesitatingly chose it, even though she has chosen this one every single time before.

Bea stood up with her, thinking she too would be offered a choice of cards.  Mrs. C kindly told her she would have next pick and while sister held her pink card proudly before the group, Bea climbed into Mrs. C’s chair to wait, looking just as confident and relaxed as ever.

MG found her seat after, but not before giving me her own proud smile.  Holding true to her word, Mrs. C let Bea choose the next card all the while she did not budge from her spot at the front of the room in the teacher’s chair.  She chose quickly but the card fell to the floor and Mrs. C helped her hold it and then arranged it for the group to see as it was first held upside down.

She, too, offered me a smug smile when done, and then hopped down from the chair.  There was a slight confusion as legs blocked her path back to her seat and she found herself trapped in the front of the room.  Big Sis noticed her predicament and reached out her hand to her “Bea, this way.  This way, Bea.”, and guided her back both by voice and hand to the saved seat next to her.

There was one chant left that involved hand motions and it was now that Bea decided to join along.  She carefully copied the teacher’s movements, and MG, noticing this, did too.

At last the teacher stood up, holding her hands out to the class in the universal “sit down” air pat and said, “Stay in your seats boys and girls, I’m going to count you.”.  Bea stood up, carefully imitating her hands, not understanding the directive and thinking the imitation was still being continued.  With a little convincing from me and sis, she sat back down obediently to be counted.

And this is why I am in the sweetest stage of life with these two girls I have experienced yet.  I’m going to be heartbroken when I have to send one of them off to school next year,



I just returned from a weekend at MOMcon which always leaves me feeling encouraged to write more.  One of the workshops I attended was called Express Yourself by Amena Brown  (she is an extremely gifted “spoken word” poet, look her up).  She gave us some writing prompts about shoes and they almost immediately went to an emotional level, for all of us.  There is something about being given a limited amount of time to write on a specific topic that gives you a freedom not to overthink.  It is when your brain doesn’t work too hard that your heart shines through.  There was an open mic where we were encouraged to share our writing and I felt tears prick my eyes after nearly every one because I love to hear stories and perspective from other women in the same stage of life I’m in.

The week leading up to MOMcon was a busy one (as they usually are when you are preparing for a trip away from your kids/home).  I had to pick MG up early from school and happened to catch her at the end of lunch.  She was sitting at the far corner of the cafeteria with a table full of girls.  There was one little, petite, open seat beside her and Bea happily filled it, while I kneeled behind, waiting for her to finish.  The first thing I noticed was that she was the only child not eating the school lunch.  I know I would probably pack a home lunch anyway if given the choice, but it made me sad that she is not given the choice.

This doesn’t seem to affect her social standing though, as the girls that surrounded her were happy to tell me about how they know her and collectively shared a story that had happened to her earlier that day.  MG told me their names and I tried to memorize their faces so I could have context to the stories she tells me in the evening.  “_____ has a cat but she’s a mean cat.”  “_____ has a princess backpack just like me.”  “One time _____ hit _____ but she’s never hit me.” She has always been prone to grace.

It’s picture day and that is obvious by the choice clothing and perfectly kept hair. They all look so pretty with their curled hair and big eyes.  They stare at me attentively in between stories, and I feel like a queen visitor.  I am reminded how much I love preschoolers.

I love observing my girls in social situations.

This month has been a growing one since the loss that accompanied last month.  Just recently, N and I feel like God has given us a vision for our future and our hearts are set on attaining it.  In some ways, it is hard to keep my feet grounded because my head is in the clouds, thinking, wondering, hoping, how and when we will accomplish this.

MOM con always gives me a taste of what God is trying to teach me and a chance to meet with Him without distraction.  This year MOPS is focusing on a theme verse (which I pitifully can’t remember), but the three tenets of it are Notice Goodness, Celebrate Lavishly, and Embrace Rest. The one that I felt continuously sticking out to me was the last one.  At first I felt defensive of it; I am an intentional “rester”!  When I need sleep, I take a nap.  When I am overstimulated, I sneak away to be by myself.  I guard my energy level. But as the weekend progressed it became clear to me that it was my mind that needed to rest, not my body.

Fear and worry sometimes plague me into cyclical thinking before I even realize it.   Do you know what I also learned?  The number one predictor of anxiety in girls is anxiety in their parents.  That is one trait I wouldn’t wish on my sweet, curly-haired girls and if it’s out of my control, then I will have to teach them the power they can have over it.


What are you…

Seems like now is as good a time as any to do one of these…

Eating:  Tonight hot dogs and s’mores!  On my menu this week: chili, BBQ chicken, and anything Fall related.

Watching: N and I watch Project Runway together on the weekends while folding laundry.  It’s one of the few reality contest type shows he can handle.  We always find ourselves in an interesting discussion over who should stay and who should go.  We don’t always agree with the judges, or each other.

Patiently waiting for Fixer Upper to return…

Listening: Pandora, shuffled, is a favorite while I’m working and I’m still heavily into my podcasts.  This American Life and Radiolab top the list but I will try anything in the top charts once.

ReadingDead Wake   I found it a bit dry in the beginning at times, but it builds to a very suspenseful near-end followed by a very haunting end.  Next in my queue is Station Eleven.  A “new” Kindle acquirement has opened up even more book possibilities.

Working on: Well I have intentionally let SMM slow down to a crawl.  I’m taking on about 1-2 custom orders a week which allows me plenty of flexibility with my time.  Burning the candle at both ends burnt me out for a while but I am managing my time better with more of it to spare.  I also hope to channel this free time into more writing…

Writing should be less stressful as I plan to tackle a computer organization/overhaul in the next few weeks.  I finally found an external hard drive that should work for my Mac and I hope to transfer over all of our old pictures onto it.  The new iCloud plans have also come at the perfect time and I’ve been playing around with how to virtually store pictures on there.  You may have notice that my posts have been a little picture-lacking this year, well hopefully this change will help that moving forward.

Looking forward to: September is always a full month.  Last weekend was spent in Nashville with my sister and cousin for a much needed girls weekend.  Tomorrow is the big baby consignment sale followed by MOMcon this weekend.  I also have an upcoming Salt Lake City trip planned, a visit from Granny to look forward to, the startup of MOPS and Bible study, N’s birthday, and the seasonal fall activities all in the near future. It’s no wonder that winter always feels like a letdown!



Just like the previous “new start months”, January and June, August gives us a chance to reset our schedule, make new goals, and find a new family rhythm for the season.

Unlike my resolutions in January and my summer bucket list in June, I generally don’t write down any goals in August; I just make more promises to myself…. ones that I have really good intentions of carrying out through May.  I’ll always put a handwritten note in her lunch.  I’ll take the girls outside everyday, even when it’s snowing.  I’ll volunteer in her classroom so I can get to know her friends.  I’ll occupy Bea’s time with manipulatives and busy boxes so she will learn this school year too.

And then by September, those promises sound a lot less golden and take some mustering to execute.

Finding our new rhythm always takes some floundering too.  MG is off to school two early (for us) mornings a week.  And it makes sense after I drop her off that I do my errands while I’m in town.  So I’ve had to readjust our schedule a bit to accommodate.  Bea is adjusting (rather quickly) to life as an only child on those days, and I find I’m really enjoying my solo time with her.  For one thing, the house is a lot more peaceful without any bickering or fighting over toys and for another, my mind isn’t being constantly occupied by questions, so I have more space to devote to her ever expanding vocabulary and communication.

As far as MG and school, she is transitioning slowly (her general M.O.), but well.  When I drop her off, I get the I don’t want to go to school today schtick.  But by the time we get there, she is eager to carry her backpack in, hang it on her hook, and jump right in to playing with her friends (only one of whom she can ever remember their names….progress…).  She takes a nap every single day which seems a little strange for my non-napping 4.5 year old, but I think it’s good for her brain to rest after all of the new stimulation.

Speaking of naps, can I get a hallelujah that Bea is still a great napper?!?  When MG was the same age, she had already been consistently skipping naps on a weekly basis and it was a struggle for both of us.  Bea still sleeps a solid 3 hours in the middle of the day and not only that but I lay her down and I don’t hear from her again for that time.  The two days a week when MG is at school, this time is especially golden.  Three solid hours of uninterrupted time!  I can tell I am especially refreshed on these days and have much more energy to tackle whatever the evening holds.

I would be remiss if I didn’t post something of the heartache August has also brought us.  I lost both of my living grandparents (dad’s side) within three short weeks.  They both lived till their nineties and a few health issues between them, their loss to our family still feels like a cold shock.  I eulogized them on FB and IG but it was especially sweet to spend time at the funerals and hear others’ eulogies of them as we sat and mourned together.  Right now, I’m saving up some sweet stories and memories in my heart.  Maybe someday, it won’t feel so raw to type them out.

Less noteworthy, but also sad, we lost Teacup this month.  We played with her on a Saturday morning, left for an hour, and when we came back, we saw her body, unmoving, on the side of the road (thankfully though MG was in the car with us, she didn’t).  With the kitties being outdoor cats, we knew this was a possibility, but it still felt especially tragic to lose her, like this, on the day of my Grandfather’s death.

While I distracted the girls inside, N recovered her body and buried her in a special spot in the yard, with a handmade cross.  We took the girls outside and explained (to MG really) what happened.  We fumbled our way through it, trying to use gentle words, but direct the conversation as she began to ask questions.  It took her a few minutes of asking questions and processing before the wave of grief overcame her and she sat in our laps, bereft, for over an hour.  Her first broken heart.

Like a sweet sister cat, Birdie sat attentively on her lap as MG sobbed into N’s shoulder, and she has been good to her ever since.  I had no idea what to expect her grieving process to look like but after a good day of sadness, she seems to have emotionally moved on.  She still asks questions every once in a while, and she asks me to check on Teacup (her grave) while she is at school.  We concluded that since my Grampy loved animals so much, perhaps he is spending his first few days in Heaven taking care of Teacup.

I sure hope September gives us a break because our hearts are a little tender over here right now.



Summer Wrap up

Today is the very last day of summer break.   The alarms are set, the lunches are packed, the outfits are neatly laid out.  This is it.


(the first day outfit still needed some finishing touches in this picture, but I’m having   SO MUCH FUN creating some fall pieces  for MG)

Just like all summers before it, this one went by too fast.  But unlike summers before it, I’m not left with any lingering feelings of regret  nor that nagging feeling of desperation…a state of denial that it’s really over.

Over the years we’ve worked really hard on our delicate summer balance of trips, work, and play and this year we concluded that we hit it pretty close to perfect.  It’s similar to the feeling of not receiving a tax return check because you had just the right amount of exemptions taken out of your paycheck.  Disappointment cloaked in diligence.

IMG_2507On July 22, we celebrated 9 years of marriage.  Our big trip was really the celebration, so a quiet dinner out was the perfect endcap.  Our anniversary has always felt like an indelible summer line.  I try to hold off on my feelings that summer is over until we’ve reached it, and then once we have, I know it’s time to begin the grieving process.


Our little garden experiment went fairly well, all things considered.  We had a ton of rain especially in June and I don’t think I watered more than 2-3 times the whole summer.  We also lost a futile battle against crabgrass.  Next summer, we’ll do more prep work to keep it at bay.  But we’re still getting tomatoes and beans out of it and we’ve eaten quite a few already along with several kinds of peppers.  Valiant rookie year, next year we will go for the gold.


(hallway, taken at night)IMG_2568

(new lighting in living room)IMG_2480

(having fun with the Scan N cut)IMG_2695

(new bed, still needs to be styled but had to show off N’s handiwork)

One of the big pushes this summer was to cross a lot of house projects off our list.  As far as production goes, it was a huge success!  And I can’t tell you how it feels to be relieved of that burden. We only have one big project left (replace the bathroom vanities) aside from a few other little light fixtures here and touches up there.  I’m so glad we can head into the busy part of fall and not have these to-do’s hanging over us.  N installed two new floors, made a bed, had new wiring installed for an industrial light fixture, added a window and new door in the sister room, and finished up some painting.


(new upper, upper cabinets to extend the height)


(sister room inspo, silhouettes by N)


(creative collab with Hello Maypole,  “this one’s for the girls” color way)

Our kitchen received its finishing touches and there is a new sister room coming to the schoolhouse soon.  One of the floors N laid will be the base and I’m envisioning greens, pinks, and bright colors, along with this succulent quilt I made (copycat from an Anthro pineapple quilt I was inspired by)


The kittens have been a wonderful addition to our lives this summer.  They are (still?) so sweet to the girls and MG has been doing a great job of keeping them fed and watered for her chores.  Whenever we are outside, at least one of them is around and purring.  Dream come true.

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I had nearly forgotten until almost the end of the summer what a treasure (??) Taylor Lake is. The local moms start arriving around 11:00-11:30 and spread their blankets under the ample shade trees like a giant patchwork quilt.  The kids eat their pb&j’s and dip their hands into Costco sized bags of pretzels or chips as sides while making visuals as to where their friends are.  Sunscreen and floaties are applied and then sand digging and swimming can begin.  The moms begin their seaside vigil (with the help of lifeguards) but we cover the hours and back with stories and our best offerings (advice).  The kids get dirty feet and track sand all the way back to the car but they leave tired and happy.  And so do the moms.  We will certainly miss it when we are hibernating this winter.


MG met her teacher last night and school commences tomorrow.  I’m not ready.  But I’m ready.  She’s ready.


I spent an hour last week carefully sharpie-ing her name onto all of her supplies, envisioning her using them to make beautiful creations.  I wondered who her new friends would be and if she would love her teacher to the point of obsession, like most pre-schoolers do.  I wonder what books she will be introduced to this year and how long it will take for her to feel comfortable speaking up in class.  Our home-dictated schedule is coming to an end and we are about to embark on the next chapter of MG’s life.  The one that starts and ends with school.

Happy School Days to you,


The Sick and the Sad


**ive just been doing a little reflecting on how far we’ve come in a year.  This was in my draft folder and I decided to publish it today to remember where we were and how our circumstances have changed**

There is nothing much worse than waking up to the sound of your 3 year old retching.

There is nothing more pitiful than realizing your 3 year old knows how to throw up all by herself and is past the point of even alerting you anymore.

Up until April of this year, mg had literally never thrown up in her three years of life.  She wasn’t even a spit uppy baby.  Oh how I dreaded the day of the stomach bug and did everything natural I could to prevent it.  I’ve gotten a stomach virus every year since being pregnant with her and the thought of getting it again, in all how att, keeps me awake at night. Some people are good with vomit and bodily fluids and the like (bless your hearts, nurses)  But as for myself, I just can’t and don’t.  And pray it doesn’t come out way.  Just the mere mention of those two words together and my palms start to get a little sweaty. I start to feel nauseous (sympathy belly) and I avoid that person like…well..the plague

I hope this isn’t too gross but there is something about vomit that is just so visceral.  I like clean, calm,control (I’m working on it, yall) and the norovirus threatens to wreak havoc on all of that.
But anyway, back to the story.  Just so we’re clear that I ABHOR vomiting…

Her first bout of it literally was one episode andfeeling great the rest of the day.  I felt proud of myself for surviving that.  I felt proud of her that she wasn’t scared when it happened (that is such a weird concept to explain to kids, huh?).  And amazed that a stomach bug entered our house and we all remained relatively unscathed.

Three months later, she picked up another stomach bug.  This one was easy to trace to a source and having been exposed we figured it was only a matter of time before one of us
succumbed.  She was the first to go down but once again it only involved getting sick once and great spirits prevailed.

Forty eight hours later I was starting to relinquish a bit on my bleaching and homeopathic remedies for bug prevention.  I thought we’d once again gotten off pretty easily considering and I felt my anxiety towards stomach bugs in general, lift a little bit.  Maybe this was God’s way of showing me I don’t need to fear (I literally do fear these things) vomit in the house.  By day 3 I was sure we were all clear.

So that’s why day 4 caught me so off guard when I woke up to a revisit from the bug, and the victim was once again MG.

And it happened again on day 5, and day 12, and day 18, 19, and 20 with good and bad days in between.  Around day 6 I started to come down with it and then Bea and N both caught mild versions around day 8.  So we knew it was a contagious bug but our guts (pun unintended) told us there was something bigger going on.

We visited her doctor a few times during all of the sick days.  At first they told us that it’s normal for kids to take a while to recover from bugs like these.  But then they too, started to grow more concerned, as the sickness stretched from a week, to two, to almost a month.  We followed their advice and began to cut certain food groups out of her diet: unfermented dairy, gluten, and raw vegetables.  This seemed to help, but it obviously didn’t cure.

We fell into a predictable pattern.  MG would complain of a stomach ache upon waking up but then would be seemingly normal throughout the day.  She would have a normal appetite and act completely fine.  Then early the following morning, she would wake up, throw up mucous, and then experience stomach cramping, diarrhea, and more mucous-y vomiting for the next three days.

The lowest point for me was once again, the middle of the night, retching, after over a month of sickness.  I begged N to take her to the ER (I was still breastfeeding Bea at the time).  I was sure that a different doctor needed to see her (and was pretty convinced she had giardisis which requires antibiotic treatment)


He complied. And it turned out she didn’t have it. We were stuck again waiting.  Waiting for her to be healed, but knowing that until something gave, we probably wouldn’t see that.  We just didn’t know how to get treatment or answers.

All of the up and down was really grating on me and all of the sickness was really starting to make me panic.  Even N, the ever calm one, was staring to worry about our sweet girl.

Finally after yet another bout of sickness, her doctor told us to once again follow the diet (which we’d already been doing) but even more strictly.  If she gets sick again in the next four days, I will refer her to a pediatric gastroenterologist, she said.

So when MG did, the doctor immediately got us an appointment.

We didn’t have to wait very long to see this doctor and we were pleasantly surprised when she instantly diagnosed MG with “delayed stomach emptying”.  Basically after a stomach bug, your body produces a high amount of acid for some time while it regulates (can be up to six months later).  That seems to be the root of her stomach aches.  The mucousy vomitting is probably caused by her intestines which aren’t fully healed and are reacting to certain foods.  So for the next three months we were to put her on a low-acid, low-fiber, low-fat, no gluten, no dairy diet.  (so what is she supposed to eat??)  The doctor did say that processed dairy was okay, like cheese and yogurt.  This was all MG heard and immediately began asking me if she could have cheese.

OKay, why not, I thought.  If this doctor said it was okay.  So I gave her a tiny amount with her lunch that day.

Sure enough, the next day she fell ill.

Well, we strictly adhered to the diet from that moment on and she didn’t become sick anymore!  She did complain of stomach aches some mornings and we remedied those with a homeopathic heart burn medication.

I thought we were in the clear until this past week.  The symptoms starting showing up and like clockwork, she became sick in the early morning hours.  Something must have snuck into her food.  That’s all we can figure.  But it is discouraging, as now, three months later, it is another set back.  And it means she isn’t as far along as I was hoping.  The way the doctor described it, I thought it owuld be temporary condition, but now I’m starting to have my doubts.  We go back at the end of Nobemebr, so I guess we will know more then.

She had amazed me with her discipline and strength.  Said someone to her at a restaurant, “how about a grilled cheese or a cheeseburger?!”  “No I can’t eat cheese.”  She has only had one breakdown, and it was over fries.  Fries are okay in moderation but this was just a few days after an incident and we had to watch everything, including her fat intake.  She just looked at me with her hand pressed to her eyes (I suppose in a vain attempt to keep from crying) and said, “but I really want French fries”.  And then cried quietly and bitterly for about fifteen minutes.  That’s about how long she needed to grieve and then she was able to move on.

A few times she has slipped up (like in SS we were old they were going to eat a snack but someone served frosted cookes).  At home she asked if it was okay she ate one.  It broke my heart that she has to think about this things and can’t enjoy her childhood, gifted cookies and all, to the fullest.  It definitely is impactful though when she pays the consequences for getting off track.  And it helps us and others realize this isn’t something in our heads.  We really don’t know what the doctor is going to say in November.  Last time we left with good news but we’ve had a few bleak moments since then and certainly by now I thought we would be mostly in the clear. Until then, however, we forge forward and pray for the best.

I truly admire your strength and discipline, MG.  you will grow beyond your years because of this




The summer days are quickly winding down.  The strange thing is, the dog days haven’t even hardly begun yet…at least here anyway.

Tomorrow is our anniversary (9 years–woohoo!) and it always seems to be a marker for the beginning of the end of our summer.  N has already had a few days he’s put in and we kind of flounder around without him in a weird, unstructured, depressed kind of way.   I kind of forget all of my SAHM experience and have to re-learn how to single-parent again.  MG is especially aware of his absence on the days he is gone and I’m not really sure how to prepare her to do this full time again.

This year will also be the start of official pre-school for her.  I know I should be excited, and I am sure she will love it, but this too also feels like a definitive marker.  Soon she will no longer be fully mine.

I’m dreading all of these small changes that will be here in less than a month.  It seems that the first few weeks of August are one of the busiest times of work for N and we lose our little, tight-knit family for a while.  It’s painful at first and I get anxious thinking about what it will look like.

Grandma Mary cleaned out her sewing box (she said she’s retiring :)) and gave me the contents.  I found quite a few treasures (the bag of buttons was especially exciting) and set to work almost immediately on the first inspiration that struck me.

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The poms & fawn patch both came from her box, the straps from a friend’s yard sale, and the fabric was from my stash.  This is one of my favorite projects I’ve made because it’s so meaningful.

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This past weekend we took a short little weekend trip to Chattanooga.  We trailblazed down I-65 at a snail’s pace, stopping more often than I’d like to remember for construction and road blocks.  But we made it to Chattanooga by dinner time on Friday night and that Southern Chick-fil-a with all of the double-first-named soft-drawling children running around (and another MG!!!) was plenty to revive our travel-worn spirits.


Saturday was spent swimming, eating out, lots of family time, and a movie in the park to top it off.  MG is definitely our movie girl.  She is riveted by anything on a screen and pays close attention to the plot line.


I set a lofty goal for myself to make (sew) the majority of MG’s fall wardrobe (Bea already has a large wardrobe of hand-me-downs, but I’ll make a few coordinating things for her too).   I’ve been day dreaming some ideas that include corduroy, velvet, stretchy denim, and structured shirts.  Wish me luck!

I found a deeply discounted Scan N Cut at my favorite TN store Essex…AKA Bargain Hunt.  My brother-in-law spotted it first and in my memory, he carries it across the store to me, holding it high above his head in a victory march.  I have been wanting one of these things forever but could never swallow the price tag.  As soon as I got home, I began playing around with it and my imagination is exploding with ideas.  I’m trying not to ignore my family too much 😉 so I can tackel it.

I’m (slowly) reading Go Set a Watchman.  I’m still early into it, so I haven’t encountered the controversial Atticus yet, but I am especially struck by her talent as an author.  Ms. Lee can tell a story.  That is my number one aspiration with this blog, to be a teller of my girls’ stories until they are old enough to take over.




It seems a lifetime ago we packed up what felt like too much of our little family and caught an early flight to California. 

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The girls are becoming old pros at this flight stuff and we breezed through Dallas and made it to Sacramento before 11am (PST).

After experiencing an extremely rainy summer thus far, we ran to the pool with open arms.  The dry CA heat and sunshine never felt better.


The next morning, N and I kissed our girls goodbye and left them in the very capable hands of Granny and then went to the airport BY OURSELVES.  We drank coffee and ate a snack without having to share it with anyone constantly monitoring our contents.  And we strolled leisurely around when our flight was delayed an hour because IT DID NOT MATTER.  



When we did board our flight, we sat in the exit row and I read a book from gate to gate while N  prepped some doctoral work to work ahead a bit.  It was glorious.  

Our flight took us to LAX and our final destination was Marina del Rey; only about a 15 minute drive if you don’t hit traffic (a rarity in LA). We had booked our place months ago through AirBnB and we were a little excited/nervous finally see it in person.

(I need to interrupt for a minute to give a shout-out to my sister/brother in law who found our place AND sent us a ton of restaurant and entertainment ideas that really panned out for us.  THANK YOU!!)


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We were so excited when we finally cracked the door open and took in our condo for the week.  It was a one bedroom, one bath with a kitchen, eating space, and a balcony (perfect for breakfast and lunches)

We had decided in advance that we weren’t going to rent a car because of our location and the prospect of beach cruisers that came with our rental.  Biking post-kids is a luxury and we thoroughly enjoyed seeing the city by bike. LA is a pretty bike friendly town and we explored all over Venice, took a bike path to Santa Monica, explored Abbott Kinney Blvd (my favorite!) and even ferried  groceries back home several times.  For the places we went to that were too far by bike, we bused (for when we had time, it rarely cost us both more than $3 for an hour+ride) and ubered (when time was important to us).  



Some of the sights outside of Marina del Rey/Santa Monica we saw were the Getty art museum and Hollywood.  

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We chose to do a bike tour of Beverly Hills (another suggestion by my personal travel agent :)) and it was my favorite thing we did.  We had our own personal tour guide who took us through celebrity neighborhoods (we saw some A-list celebrity homes, heard many celebrity stories, and saw some vintage celebrity homes as well.  No celebrity sitings, and most homes had such high privacy fences that you couldn’t see much of the home; but it was still fun to be casually riding our bikes through these mulit-million dollar streets!).  On this tour we also stopped and explored this old mansion (Greystone Manor)  that has been the site of many A-list movies.  It has beautiful grounds and a ghost story to boot.  Exploring that (and peeking in the windows) was probably my favorite part.

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(just casually riding our bikes down Rodeo Drive!)

The bike tour met in West Hollywood and afterward we made our way over to North hollywood for Graumin’s Theater and Madame Toussad’s wax museum. It was the closest we came to seeing any real celebrities.


We ate really well on this trip and got quite spoiled by all of the gluten free bakeries and ice cream shops nearby.  Our condo had a pool and we spent a few afternoons there reading and relaxing….by definition my favorite way to spend vacation.


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When our six days were up, we were ready to get back to our girls!  They hardly seemed to notice our absence; Grampy and Granny kept them entertained (swimming 2-3x a day, walks, movies, snacks, and all of the new-to-them toys {including my old barbie dolls]).  

We spent the remainder of our vacation soaking up the fry-an-egg-on-the-sidewalk CA rays and doing more of the same; walks, swimming, shopping, and movies.  


IMG_2005 IMG_2023 IMG_2035I don’t know yet when we will be back to good ol’ California but it certainly has been good to us


MG and Updates

First of all, I’d like to take a quick second and apologize, so to speak, for my last post.  Even don’t enjoy reading that one.  It is obvious it was written out of a place of stress.  I’m over it now.  I nearly delated it about an hour after writing it over delayed embarrassment, but then realized all of you that subscribe already have a hard copy in your inbox.  It was pointless at that moment…so….

Moving on…

Today I’m not in that place of stress anymore, I’m just feeling a bit sad for my eldest.  Eleven months ago she was struck with some kind of severe stomach bug that did a number on her body and left her with what is a hopefully temporary, but still devastating in the moment condition, called gastroparesis.  I’ve alluded to it here and there but I don’t think I ever fully wrote out my feelings on the subject because well…I wasn’t really sure what to say.

Up until mid-July of last year, MG had a completely normal and healthy relationship with food.  I, myself, have some sensitivities and so I was always careful with her and things like gluten and dairy.  It seemed like a healthy enough balance that we wouldn’t keep gluten in the house, but to allow her to have things like Cheerios in the church nursery or cupcakes at a friend’s birthday.  Yogurt and cheese were commonplace in our house but she never really took to milk, and since I don’t care for it either, I never pushed it with her.  The only thing I noticed was that if she did not have gluten for a long time and then would eat it, she would break out around her mouth.  It seemed minor enough not to warrant a change in behavior but it was something I mentally took note of.

Fast forward to late July.  Our family went on a little vacation that month and we were exposed to a stomach bug.  MG got it first, but had just a minor reaction.  A couple days passed and I thought we were through with it.  But then…she got it again.  And then one by one we each contracted it, over the course of about two weeks with MG having relapses every few days.

I took her in to see a doctor after the third day of vomiting.  She reassured me that sometimes viruses can last up to two weeks in children and possibly MG became reinfected as we were passing it around to each other.

So it was put to bed for a few days.  And then, it struck her again.  Again I called her pediatrician.  She told me not to come in but to call if she wasn’t over it in a week.

A week felt like a lifetime to watch my little frail girl suffer again.  Not to be melodramatic but this week was literally one of the worst of my life.  On the days she would be sick, we would be awoken to MG vomiting in the bathroom (she nearly always made it to the toilet and it just made me weep to think this little 3 year old already knows how to drag herself to the toilet in the darkness of the early morning without even alerting us first).  This would come around 4-5am.  Then she would lay on the floor by the bathroom and sleep for another few hours.  She would want very little to eat for the day, maybe some toast and “fizzy drink”.  She would lay in her bed and watch Sleeping Beauty on repeat (it was one of the few children’s movies we owned and we didn’t have cable.  Later we wisened up and started checking out more movies from the library).  Too tired to play, she would sleep off and on throughout the day and then fall asleep exhausted in her bed at night.

The next day she would wake up, a little off, but fine and we would grow optimistic that the terrible illness that had her in its clutches was behind us.

And then 1-2 days later she would relapse and we would start the terrible cycle over again.

At the end of the week, I called the Ped and begged her to see us again.  She seemed rather surprised to see us and a little alarmed too.  She immediately referred us to a pediatric gastroenterologist and our appointment was just a few days later (I think at this point it was September).

I was very pleased when that Dr. immediately seemed to recognize the problem (we saw three other doctors over the course of that month and none of them could tell us anymore than  it was just a long-lasting virus). She diagnosed MG with “stomach-emptying syndrom” or gastroparesis and put her on a special diet.

When you have this condition, your stomach doesn’t clear food out as quickly as it does for someone in good health.  So you feel fuller more quickly, you are more prone to stomach upset and bugs, and you have to watch what you eat as high fats, high fiber, high acids, and dairy seem to set stomach aches on the mild end to vomiting and diarrhea on the more severe end.

The diet was pretty stringent and our whole family shifted to accommodate her while we adjusted to this change.  Eventually we added fiber and fat back into her diet, but in moderation or else she would get a stomach ache (still ongoing as of this month).  Dairy has been a constant issue ever since and will still set her off violently if she is exposed to it.

Unfortunately she has had two of these “violent” incidents since first meeting with that doctor back in September. The first one was because this doctor told us “processed dairy” like cheese and yogurt would be okay.  MG heard “cheese” and begged me for some for lunch (I had taken her off of it when the stomach bugs were reoccurring.  I conceded when the doctor said it was okay but we paid the price for it.)

The second time happened about a month later when I didn’t ask enough questions at a potluck and she was exposed to it again.  Both of these times brought me to my knees and after the second time especially made me strictly guard everything that went into her mouth.

We went back for a follow-up appointment in December and the Dr. seemed pleased with her progress and then dangled a little hope for us that maybe in 6 months we’d be able to reintroduce dairy, slowly.

Well here we are six months later.  MG has held onto this hope that after today she would be able to start eating cheese and yogurt again if nothing else.  It is amazing how much she picks up on as I never told her this would be a possibility nor tried to encourage it.

I’ve also been similarly pleased and a little heartbroken for her as she carefully tries to explain her “condition” to other kids.  “My doctor shut me off of dairy” she says confidently when trying to relate to other kids. Some mistake this for a sense of pride when she talks about it but I know that it is different.  There is a sense of sadness that I intone when she says this but at the same time, she is unwavering.

In fact, the only time I’ve ever seen her cry over it was after the very last incident.  We ratcheted down on her diet again to give her stomach time to heal.  We were out of town at the time and thankfully found a Chick-fil-a to eat lunch out (fast food places are nearly impossible on this diet).  I wouldn’t let her have ketchup to dip her grilled nuggets into because it is high in acid.  She broke down in the booth.  Not in an agressive temper tantrum, but in silent tears.  This was by far one of the lowest points for me.

Fast forward to last night.  As I was getting her ready for bed I explained that she was going  back to her doctor in the morning.  She was laying on her back and she pumped her arms and legs in the air and said, “I can’t wait to be on dairy again!”.  I tried to explain that the doctor might not give her the green light yet and even if she does, we would have to take it slow.

It was too late though, the hopeful seed was already planted.

This morning we saw the doctor and she asked the usual questions.  She seemed a bit concerned that MG hasn’t put on weight since December (and she is already on the slight side).  She asked us a lot of questions about her appetite and we addressed some concerns.  At the end, I could feel MG staring at me, waiting for me to ask the question.  I did.  The response was that dairy would not be a good idea at this point and probably not until she turns 5 or 6.

I waited until the doctor left and then looked at MG.  She asked me what that meant and I explained that we would have to stay away from dairy for a little longer.  “Like how long?”  “Until you get a little bit bigger, like 5 or 6.”

Her face fell and she got really quiet.  She said, “But that’s not fair.”

She was right, and I knew it.  And I could only agree with her.

So another year we will press forward of bringing “special” dairy free snacks to Sunday school and birthday parties, and always packing lunches for dinners out.  If I’m being honest, I’m mad that this is the way things are for her.  Four year olds should be able to eat whatever they want without having to worry about stomach aches and doctor visits and having something strange about them that sets them apart from their peers.

And she knows it too.  But that little frail one is pretty resilient (and she comes by it honestly).  And so we press on.


Summer Break under the stress

Summer break officially began for us sometime last week.  But it seems these past 8 days or so have found N and I trading kid duties while we both work on our “second jobs”.  (his being doctorate, mine being Sweet Mama Makes).  Don’t get me wrong, it’s been a welcome relief from the pace of normal life, but I don’t think either of us are feeling very well-rested.

Part of the reason why I’ve been so frenzied is that I just launched a new line of Shorties and Bloomers  (I’d add pictures, but apparently my Internet connection will only allow me one at the moment).

Since this was my first time making them, I had to create the pattern, perfect it, make one in each size in the range, make an example in each fabric to give customers an idea of what they would like, press them, photograph them, write Etsy listings for them, and then advertise and sell them.  And finally to create them!

This has been an interested venture to say the least and not all of my handmade things have been very successful sellers, but I’m thankful for what I am learning from being my own businesswoman.  And while I don’t think SMM will be a permanent fixture in my life, I am counting all of the life lessons I’m learning.

So far in the 9 months Sweet Mama Makes has been opened,  I’ve noticed a predictable cycle…first I drive myself into a frenzy, then I get overwhelmed and swear I’m going to quit after the next round, then I take a few weeks off and enjoy it so much I say I’m never going back, then I get that itching urge to create again and then make something I want to share.  And on it continues.  I do love having an outlet that lets me express myself when the urge strikes but I also realize I’ve got to find a better way to balance my time or else I’m going to burn out quickly.

I’m just nearing the end of a frenzied period and taking some time off this week to create for myself (the girls really).  I saw this Eric Carle fabric and had to have it.  Today it turned into a pinafore for Bea.


We’ve also been pre-gaming for an upcoming vacation (where we can’t wait to rest HARD).  This means we’ve given up refined sugar for 2 weeks (honey and maple syrup are okay). I’ve been eating a lot of desserts like “ice cream” made out of frozen bananas and “brownies” with an avocado base.  I don’t hate it…but that first vacation shave ice sure will taste good.  So will that first vacation night of sleep.

Bring it on,


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