Foodie Friday

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hey-o!  Here's some good eats for you to try out this weekend.

Homemade almond butter.  HOMEMADE ALMOND BUTTER!  Yes, it's exciting because it is delicious, cheaper than keeping up your habit through Trader Joe's, and dang easy.  There are a lot of tutorials on the internet, but they are all very similar so I don't have a specific website I got this idea from.

Get a big bag of raw, non-roasted almonds from Costco.  When you're running low on your almond butter, measure out 2 cups of almonds and spread them out onto a cookie sheet.  Dry-roast them for 5-10 minutes.  (Be careful with this, you just want them to be slightly roasted but not dark.  Take them out when your kitchen starts to smell like almonds.)  Let them rest a minute, then put them in a blender or food processor, making sure it's ventilated since your almonds should be warm.  (I use my BlendTec.)  It's a little time-consuming, but you simply tap, tap, tap the blender and scrape it down the corners and bottom every 30 seconds or so.  After about five minutes of pulsing, it will turn into slightly juicy almond meal, then you can do longer spurts of actually running the blender and scraping it down less often.  You do this until it's starting to get runny and then do it a little longer just to ensure it stays that way.  Put it in a container and keep it in your fridge!  I like to add a pinch of sea salt those last few minutes of pulsing.  I've also made a dark chocolate version, but I'm going to toy with the recipe a bit more before I post that.

Next, another cake from Cake by Courtney.  I made this chocolate peanut butter cake for a baby shower a week ago.  It's AMAZING!  (I just ate the last bit a week later and it's still very, very moist.)  I also added a layer of chocolate ganache between each level, just to take it to the next level.  That was great too, but fair warning, doing so makes it harder to cut without the cake kind of fallen apart since the peanut butter frosting you also layer it with is quite light.  (Light in texture, not in calories; just to be clear!) Make it!

Finally, these SemiFreddi's morning buns.  I buy them in a 4-pack at Costco and freeze them.  The night before we are going to have them, I take them out to defrost by the morning.  Put them on a tray that has been sprayed, and warm them in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes.  When they come out, they taste as fresh as the day they were born.  We have later church now, so Sunday mornings are now about a special breakfast.  This one is the easiest one in our rotation.

Bon appetit!

WOT: Family Room Improvements

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Today's Working On Things centers around our home...

We have lived in our home for three years.  It's 1,280 square feet, with three bedrooms and one bathroom.  At first, our house felt like a mansion, moving from a one-bedroom apartment with our 15 month old.  But now with five people, we are definitely feeling more tight these days!  It was built in 1949 and everything is still original to the home.  Lots of creaky floors, warped doors, cracked walls and ceilings, and peeling paint.  We are so grateful to call it ours!

I actually love that our little home forces us to keep things organized.  We don't have a lot of junk (although we definitely still have some junk drawers), because we simply don't have the space for it.  I'm regularly purging, but nesting twice in this home has really cut down on what eats up our real estate.  Having a smaller space also helps me in what I buy for my kids; their toys are chosen carefully because if something is going to take up space, it had better be worth it and played with often.

We've largely furnished our home with hand-me-downs and craigslist finds, with other things coming from Salvation Army, Ikea, and Homegoods.  We made our first "real" grown-up furniture purchase a year and a half ago--our West Elm velvet sleeper sofa, and I love it.  We are saving our money to do some gradual updates to our home, such as finally adding some lights into our ceiling, ha!  Shopping with a low budget certainly makes you more creative, but it also makes those things you finally spring for feel all the more worth it.

That being said, there are some things I'd like gradually update with the decor of our home, starting in the family room.  

I recently added Ikea cupboards to the sides of the fireplace and we are getting bids from handy-men on helping us reface it with wood, put in a new mantle, and replace the old tile.  (I'm hoping on doing a bunch of that myself, but we'll see!) I also want to add white planking above the mantle to finally hide the TV cords that drive me nuts.  I'm hoping doing all that will make it look like a built-in.  I only just hung those mirrors above the cupboards and I'm pretty happy with them.  We also have plans to put in some crown molding; just need to go get the dang supplies!

Next is the rug.  It's a good size, was super cheap, and is wool, which is nice because my kids play out here a ton.  But the large graphic print feels a little too past-trend now and the white parts drive me nuts, they get dirty so easily.  I'd like to do another rug the same size and still a muddy gray, but I'd like it to be either more classic (such as an oriental rug) or with much smaller patterns that do NOT include white.

I'd also like to do a bench under the windows.  We had that yellow bench-ottoman there before, preferring to keep the rug totally clear so the kids could play. That was working quite well!  But we recently shifted the ottoman to in front of the sofa during Christmas, and once we put all of the holiday decorations away, we found that we actually really enjoyed putting our feet up and the kids still had room to play.  The teepee is fine there for now, but it takes up a lot of space. And we don't really have a spot to take off our shoes.  Once the diaper bag and carseat are piled around it, it feels really messy.  So I'm thinking of either putting a simple wood-slatted bench there (there's one I've been eyeing for years), or a storage bench so we can put our shoes.  I'm on the hunt!  (Our blind situation also needs some work, but I don't want to fix that until we finally replace our single-paned windows...)

In a few years, we're hoping to tear down this wall and open up the kitchen and family/dining area.  Where this credenza is now, in the long run will be an island.  I think about it every day!

So there you have it, our little family room!  I'll make reports once I've done some more improvements.

Mommy School, AKA Lazy Home Preschool

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

I was a teacher by trade before having my kids, so you might think I'd make an excellent teacher within the home for my own children and that they are budding geniuses.  You'd be wrong.

Here's the thing.  I think I am in charge of ensuring my kids read a TON, play independently and imaginatively a TON, and have minimal screen time. (This last one can be hard, but I think it's so worth it to make screen time a short reward (or for a mom-emergency) instead of the norm.)  But I don't feel that it's my responsitibilty, not to mention good for them, to force my children into formal learning at a young age, such as teaching them to read by two years old.

Ain't nobody got time for that!

CJ is almost reading at 4, but that's her.  She knew each letter of the alphabet and the sound they made by 18 months old, and it was largely because of her simply picking up on things while we were reading.  R is just as into books, but at almost 3 years old he still identifies most letters as "H!"

You know what, it's not a big deal!  Every kid develops at a different pace and I simply want my kids to love books.  I want them to be bored a little too, so they know how to develop their own interest in things and entertain themselves!  Boredom is a choice around these parts, and as much as my kids deserve quality time with mom every single day, mom is also not the designated entertainer.

All that being said, I have loved doing what we call a little "Mommy School" with my kids starting around two years old.  Since I'm home with them, I don't want to put my kids into a formal preschool until 4 (this might change with R though; the man needs some buddies).  But I still want them to engage in a little semi-formal learning, get curious, and have positive experiences with "school" so they can carry that engagement into when they do attend a bonafide preschool.

Here is what I did with CJ and am currently doing with R.  It's very simple, non-scientific, and loosy-goosy.  I might not be the best arts and crafts mom, or the fun mom, but I can take 15 minutes every day or so during the week to sit down and do a little mommy school.

So, however you adapt this to your family, keep it simple!  I don't plan any of this ahead of time as there really is no need!

1) We sit down and I draw the letter we are learning.  I show them the letter, have them repeat its name and sound several times.  They trace the letter with their finger.  Then we repeat!

2) I get out another piece of paper and we draw a couple of pictures of words that start with the letter we are learning.  I'm no artist, so don't feel pressured here.  I write the words of each picture and have them point to that day's letter, and underline that letter.  We are very happy about every little success here!  Give lots of gentle guidance.

3) We sing a song that might have the letter in it somehow.  (Such as "It's Raining, It's Pouring" if we are learning "R.") If I can't think of one, we just sing a couple of songs and be a little silly and move our bodies!

4) I pull out a couple of books and they chooses one or two as well.  This is where I might quickly look for a book that I remember has a word with the letter we are learning.  But most of the time, it's a random pull and we can always find the letter of the day in the book somewhere.  When we come across our letter, I point at it and get excited and try to have the child start to recognize them too.

5) We then hang up the letter and its pictures on a wall, our "word wall!"  I try to review the letters with them from time to time when I think of it.
Yes, I spelled gorilla "ghorilla." Remember, I am very sleep deprived.  It seemed like the right way after I spelled "ghost."  

And that's it.

I do usually two of these lessons per letter.  Some weeks we learn a two letters. Other weeks (like last week!), we don't even get to "mommy school."  Heck, we even took a whole month off between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

The biggest key I've learned for doing any sort of teaching in the home for little ones is to keep it short, engaging, and repetitive.  They'll get there!

With my 4 year old, we're starting to use a book on learning to read that I'm liking, as she's definitely past learning the letters/sounds.  I'll give more information on that once I get a little more consistent with it.  Also, I'd like to start a little math/science with her--my weak areas--but something that is more fun than formal.  Any suggestions?

Everything I Know About Parenting

Monday, January 25, 2016

Everything I know about parenting can be summed up with one word: Nothing.

Let me back up.  Before I had children, I thought I knew a lot about parenting.  

I wasn't totally without experience.  I mean, growing up I had given up a loooooooot of weekend nights to babysit a great many young children, earning $1 per kid per hour. (This rate makes me really sad now when I pay my own babysitter.)  I had also worked with elementary children in an after-school program before becoming a middle school teacher.  Although that meant I had more formal experience with teenagers, I felt that they were more like toddlers in bigger bodies, which absolutely proved to be correct.

So, when I was approaching the birth of my first child 4 1/2 years ago, although I felt pretty terrified, I also felt sure about what kind of parent I was going to be.

CJ gave us a run for our money right away, including a very fast no-time-for-drugs labor.  She had severe colic, which turned into food sensitivities, which turned into sensory processing issues.  Months into her life, I wondered if we would ever make it through the grocery store again without her having a complete meltdown.  (It took a while!)

I spent most of our days her first year trying to understand this often-sad, very skinny baby who seemed to be begging me for comfort and guidance.  I was desperate to figure out what was ailing her and how I could help.  (It should be said that I'm writing this post from my point-of-view as a parent, but Brad has been an excellent partner throughout our parenting journey and has proven to be such a wonderful father.)

My inner-Hermione urged me that the solution was to read from the experts.  I devoured every parenting book I could read through my sleepy, half-open eyes: Happiest Baby on the Block; Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child; The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding; How to Care for Your Newborn; Baby Wise; The Entitlement Trap; and so, so much more.  I poured over and the depths of its forum-hell like it was my job (which it kind of was)!  Answers for my little girl were difficult to find, as was my own stance on how to raise her.  

Since I was doing cloth diapers (mostly for economical reasons) and researching CJ's food sensitivities, I was led me to other fellow-crunchy moms of the Internet.  These DM's (Dear Mothers, if you don't know "Forum-speak") were very sure of their parenting stance, so I wondered if I had to buy into the whole Dr. Sears attachment parenting philosophy to be a legitimate DM.  

While I loved having CJ in the baby carrier, my back hurt after a while so I could only do it so much.  While I loved doing Baby Led Weaning, I also hated wasting up all the leftover mashed up food and would spoon-feed her the rest.  I was much too high strung to have her sleep in my bed, and while I hated to hear her cry, I really, really needed her to sleep better by her 9th month.  

Parenting is the school of hard knocks, and it was quickly showing this nerd that books and Internet experts could only teach parenting so much. 

Still, I held on to my positive behavior management skills I had carefully gleaned as a teacher.  I worked hard to do what was best for my child in my own way, even if that meant getting philosophy whiplash with our day-to-day decisions.  And I loved being home with my baby, however difficult it was proving to be.  I began to feel pretty confident about being a middle-of-the-parenting-philosophies parent.

Within 21 months of our first baby, little R came along.  He also came so fast I didn't have time for an epidural.  (This scarred my mother even more than it did me.) We managed incredibly well at first, due to him having a fairly normal temperament and typical baby problems. I was used to babies with projectile spit up and not sleeping through the night for 10 months.  I'd take that over a baby that was nigh impossible to soothe.  R was seemingly chill.  Also, he was as deliciously-fat as could be; I got to squish his wobbly thighs all day and nibble his tummy rolls, which made me incredibly happy.  CJ loved him, but largely lived her life exactly the same.  I was starting to feel quite sure of my position as a good parent, guiding my toddler to better behavior and getting my baby into a routine.  Things were going pretty swimmingly.

Then R figured out how to bother his sister.  He learned young, even before he could walk, how to push her buttons.  To be fair to R, CJ's buttons are very easily pushed.  But I truly couldn't have predicted how quickly, how naturally, it seemed, for R to figure out how much joy it brought him to make his sister angry.  He quickly took great delight in making her upset, even if all it took was tapping his hand against his carseat to incite her incessant wails.

He also proved to be anything but chill.

With each passing month, we learned more and more about how polar-opposite our children were.  Whereas CJ relishes quiet, R loves noise and action.  Whereas CJ prefers to play alone with dolls or coloring, R wants to wrestle, act crazy, and wield anything as a stick.  Whereas CJ thrives on soft, positive-based discipline, R seems to only respond to, um, louder discipline.

(Interestingly, somehow R loves vegetables like broccoli and salad.  I'm not sure how that happened.)  

Still, we were managing it alright.  Some days put me over the edge, especially when I was pregnant and really nauseous and tired.  But most of the time, I could still keep my act together and they seemed pretty happy in general, even with their near-constant bickering.  

Baby D was born six months ago, four days before CJ turned 4.  His birth was the best by far (thank you, epidural!) and his presence brought a big, almost tangible piece of heaven to our home.

It's also been six months of parenting purgatory.

When I brought this sweet, innocent baby home, it was as though the "good parent" switch clicked to the "off" position.  Both CJ and R were obsessed with our baby right away, but not in the good way.  They could not leave him alone for a single second.  While nursing, I had three heads at my breast, not just the one who actually needed to eat.

R, in particular, could. not. stop. touching. him.

Out of protection for my little cub, I became a momma bear against my own older children.  I have truly growled from the depths of my gut, "Stop touching him!" "Leave him alone!" and "Get out of here!" to CJ and R who run away in fear, only to return about eight seconds later.

Brad's hours have been very long since right before D's birth, and even on the days he comes home "early," I've usually been flying solo with the kids for 12-13 hours straight.

While I am so grateful to be home with my kids (really, I am!), this made me a little batty.  OK, a lot.

Keep in mind that I am a constant referee between my two oldest, one of which is so very sensitive that it's a constant ticking time bomb of what will make her explode.  I've had to break up fights, running across rooms with a baby attached to my breast.  I've put one child in time out over and over again in a single day for the same reasons: "Stop pointing [an object] at your sister!"  "Stop making noises to bother her!" I've stretched myself between two very opposite parenting tactics until I've mixed it all up and done the wrong kind of discipline for the wrong child.  And I've been doing all of this on very little, very interrupted sleep and while holding a baby 90% of the time.

As a result, my calm, collected mothering went out the window.

That first month after baby D was born, I remember day after day feeling like I had "my worst mothering day ever," only to have it repeat again the next day.  I didn't know who I was as a parent any more, like my parenting was now all instinct-based, but not in a good way; it was more of a self-protecting instinct.

Example!  One morning, I tried to preoccupy my normally-responsible 4 year old daughter with bubbles in the backyard while I pumped a bottle for the baby who lay next to me in his rock n' play.  Through the screen door, I hear her whining.  I do the pumping dance, where I still try to stay attached to the machine while arching my back and twisting my head so I can see out to the steps leading to the back porch.  There is CJ, standing and staring at the bubbles she had tipped all over the steps.

"No big deal!" I call, giving myself a pat on the back for not freaking out.  "I'll just spray it down with the hose!"

I quickly detach myself from the pump, run outside and hose down the steps, and instruct CJ to run back inside and get another bottle of bubbles from her closet.  After I finish spraying the bubbles, I hear my baby crying and run inside to see R right in the baby's face, vigorously shaking his rock n' play.  I rip R from the side, with my heart in my throat.  He could have really hurt baby D!  I give R firm instruction to never do that again, and why; but during that disciplining, I hear CJ yet again wailing from her room.

I carry a squirmy R with me across the hall and witness CJ standing in the middle of the rug, crying and staring at the largest bottle of bubbles we own, lid off, tipped over, and emptying out on to our rug covering a wood floor.  The baby was still crying, R was trying to rip from my arms to go back to attacking the baby, CJ was now beyond hysterical, and I was panicking as the large puddle of thick, silky liquid sunk into our thin rug.

This is when I threw a mommy-tantrum.  Two-year-old style.

I'm pretty sure I blacked out with rage, so the details are a little fuzzy.  I seem to remember throwing every single bottle of bubbles in our house into the garbage, as hard as I possibly could.  Two kids were yelled at, one spanked, and both thrown into time out while I raged, screaming at the heavens, "WHY?!!!!  How do I clean this up?!  WHY ME, Lord, WHY ME?!" Between gnashing my teeth and stomping my feet (this is not me being poetic), I threw some wet towels on the bubbles and scrubbed as hard as I could until my poor wailing baby made me literally throw in the towel.  Rug and floor be damned.

Oh, this story is most definitely not done yet.

After shakily feeding a starving baby and simultaneously attempting some deep breathing, I tried to make amends for my tantrum.  Mommy apologized.   Mommy explained.  Mommy would do better next time and do her best to not lose her temper.  To make it up to them, we'd go see the airplanes later that day when they were done with naps, after a quick stop at Trader Joe's across the street from the small airport.

A few hours, lots of kids fighting, and no-napping later, we arrive at Trader Joe's.  Amid the choruses of, "You've got your hands full!" I loaded up my circus: baby in the carrier, 2 year old in the cart, 4 year old hanging on the front.  Before we entered the store, I leaned over.  "CJ, do you need to go the bathroom?"

"No, mommy!"

"Are you sure?" I asked, suspiciously.  Even though she went potty right before we left, CJ had been having a lot of accidents as of late.

"No, mom!  NO!" CJ responded, her face screwed up in protest, head shaking no, her eyes firmly resolved.

"Ok," I said with a sigh, trudging on into the store.  Some people were kind, commenting on how busy I must be.  Most tried to make way for the anomaly of three-young-children-in-Northern-CA and gave us a wide berth.  We were doing pretty well.  The oldest two weren't fighting, I was getting through the store fairly quickly, and we had a reward in sight with the airplanes just across the street.

I was racing through the frozen aisle with CJ hanging off the front, arcing around the corner into the dry goods section.  This store was my oyster! I was super mom! I was turning this hard day around!

A helpful employee tapped me on the shoulder.  "Oops! Looks like something is spilling from your cart!"

"Hmmmmm," I thought, looking back at a stream of liquid that visibly followed my journey down and around the aisle.  "I haven't got any milk or juice in my cart. . ."

Then it hit me.  The source was CJ.

My daughter.  The potty-trained 4 year old who just adamantly told me she did NOT have to go the bathroom less than five minutes earlier.  She was peeing while hanging off the front of the cart as I pushed her all the way down and around an aisle, and was doing so without giving even a little hint to her mother.

If I hadn't been surrounded by people, another mommy-tantrum would have happened right then and there.

I was in shock.  I stared, my mouth gaping, the breath in my lungs getting short and rapid as I watched people wheeling and walking through the trail of pee we had unknowingly left behind us.

Another employee took notice of my horror.  I haltingly tried to explain what happened and they sprung into action, stopping confused innocent bystanders from splashing through the stream and getting a mop.  I grabbed the two year old, clenched CJ's hand, and left the cart full of groceries making a five-legged race to the bathroom, my baby whimpering in the carrier.  This is where I allowed my mommy-tantrum to take over.  I'm sure the people in the store heard CJ's wails as I reprimanded her, my heart ka-thumping and a newly-familiar growl coming from my gut.

I was more embarrassed than my most embarrassing moment up to date: peeing my pants on home plate, while up to bat at my baseball game as a 7 year old.  (Like mother, like daughter!)

We eventually emerged from the bathroom and made our way back to our abandoned cart.  CJ sported red eyes and no panties, but luckily I had found a pair of mis-matched leggings at the bottom of my hiking backpack, I mean, my diaper bag.  We thanked the employees profusely, made CJ apologize, and instead of acting upset, the most incredible people of Trader Joes kneeled to my daughter's eye-level, gave her stickers and encouraged her to not worry, that it was OK.

I pushed my cart through the remaining aisles, and for the first time in my adult life I allowed the tears to roll down my cheeks in public, despite my fellow patrons noticing and giving concerned looks.  I cried out of embarrassment.  I cried out of gratitude for good people who could have been justifiably cruel, and instead responded kindly.  But mostly I cried out of shame for how I chose to respond to my child's actions.

Needless to say, we did not go see the airplanes after that.

(But here's a picture of the airport a few weeks ago to show we do have some good days...)

Soooooo.  A lesson, perhaps?  Let's get to a lesson.

Parenting is the most mystifying, difficult, seemingly-impossible work on the earth.  Every day, you are reminded of your weaknesses.  Every day, you are presented with a mirror that reflects your own imperfections, these imperfections often visibly replicated in your offspring.  Every day, you make mistakes, mistakes that you had even promised you would never make again.

But every day, you try again.

Because parenting is also the most rewarding, joyful, and important work you can every embark on.  Because you have moments where everything makes sense, sweet-smelling hugs that heal your heart, and smiles that zap energy back into your soul.

Because you have friends who would give absolutely everything they own to have your terrible parenting day, if it would just make them a mother or a father.

Because being a parent is the greatest blessing of your life.

When I said that I know nothing about parenting, I didn't say that to deface this work.  The past six months have humbled me to the bone about what kind of parent I thought I would be.  These months have taught me that I have a GREAT deal to learn about how to be a parent and raise these beautiful humans, each in their own way.  These months have taught me that so much of being a parent is raising the white flag, admitting defeat, looking for help, and trying something new the next day.  And again the day after that.

So while I now feel that I know next-to-nothing about parenting, I still know some things.  I know that I want my kids to see that I am trying.  I know that I want them to witness me admitting my mistakes and being quick to forgive theirs.  I know I want them to understand that they are important enough and that they are loved enough for me to take those hard looks in the mirror.

I know that in a world where everyone seems to know THE answer and boast of the latest and greatest technique for raising children, I am OK with my parenting philosophy being, "I don't know what I'm doing.  But at least I'm trying."

How to Exercise With Small Children

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

This post could also be entitled, "How to Exercise With Small Children, Without Them Killing You or Each Other."

BIG disclaimer: I am by no means 100% at fitting in a workout with my young children.  To be very honest, I quickly learned it's almost impossible with three little kids.  I do my best now to exercise before my kids get up for the day, because I finally got to the point where I realized exercise was more stressful for them--and for me--when I was trying to incorporate it into all of our mornings. Even before my third baby was born, my two oldest were fighting like cats and dogs in the running stroller.  And my home workouts were looking like this, at best:

So if you have little kids, please don't look at this post and feel bad if you aren't in a regular exercise rhythm.  It's definitely far from perfect in our household.  There is a time and a season for everything, exercise included.

However, exercise is high priority in my life because of what it does for me mentally.  (Also, it allows me to eat ice cream without an unnecessary amount of guilt, like I am doing as I write this post.) No matter how much I hate lacing up my running shoes or getting on my workout clothes, I NEVER regret a workout, however big or small.  So when I've had a rough night's sleep and have to fit in a workout with my kids around, I still do my best to do so, even if it's a 20 minute workout.

My disclaimer aside, I have managed to keep exercise a regular part of my mom-routine for 4 1/2 years, most of that including my kids while running.  I do feel that I have some good tricks up my sleeve that I hope can help anyone who is in my (running) shoes.


I am obsessed with my BOB running strollers.  I have both a single and a double.  If my garage caught on fire, I'd do my best to save them both.  Yes, they are rather bulky and it can feel like pushing a boat.  But it's a very easy-to-push, bouncy boat!

I also have a bike trailer.  I'm not too crazy about it (it didn't cost an arm and a leg, so that's probably why).  It gets the job done, but I would not save it in a fire. I think I'm not over the moon about biking with my kids because they tend to fight terribly while in it; I believe it's probably something to do with not having a fabric barrier between them like the stroller does. However, when they were well-behaved I have LOVED biking with my kids. It felt like cheating-exercise.

Here's my tips for those two activities:

1) Make It Special.  Try to make build up the excitement surrounding the workout: "We're going to go see the ducks at the pond!" "Let's go count all the dogs we see on the running trail!"  "There are beautiful leaves/flowers to see today!"

Leading up to getting out of the house (which takes FOREVER most of the time), I also get the kids going and excited by telling them to choose a special snack from our cupboard and a toy they want to bring.  They don't usually get to eat their snack until we are halfway through our run/ride, and it's usually something they don't regularly get to eat mid-morning (such as a fruit snack).

2) BOOKS!  I always have books within arms length for my kids to grab while I'm running.  They might not be able to read yet, but they enjoy looking through books they are familiar with.  I have the kids choose which ones they want, and I leave them in the stroller/trailer until they seem over them, then we switch them out, also with their input.

3) Break It Up. I am lucky to be able to run/bike along local trails with some kid-friendly destinations along the way.  These include: ducks usually stationed along a certain part of the trail, parks, playgrounds, special views, flowers to smell, etc.  When they are going nuts, I remind them that if they are well-behaved, we get to stop and see something.  ("If you can use a soft voice for five minutes, we can stop to see the ducks!") Sometimes, we even stop at a playground for a half-hour or more.  My oldest (4 years young) has ridden her bike alongside me, which made her quite pleased despite it taking us double the usual time to do a three-mile jog. Even though I don't enjoy dragging out my workout, I'd much rather they get some enjoyment out of it themselves so that they will want to go again in the near future.

I have some exercise videos that have cycled through my arsenal.  Jillian Michaels used to be a go-to, but I've also used free workouts on Netflix and Amazon Prime.  (I hear youtube is great too.)  Videos tend to cycle in and out of those services though, so I recommend simply searching for: "Workout," "Cardio Workout," "Yoga," etc. until you find something you'd like to try.

After our last baby was born six months ago, I subscribed to a year at  There are a TON of workouts on there, ranging in effort and time-alloted.  (I'm obviously not getting paid for this.) I really like those workouts because they are somehow both doable and challenging.  They also help me with one of my major exercise weaknesses: strength training.  (I'm more of a cardio queen.)  And really, Jillian Michaels is kind of the last thing I want to be doing right now!  (Burpees, I hate you.)

For the kids:

1) Set Up An Activity: My kids have painted, played with play-doh, put together puzzles, read books, etc. while I've worked out at home.  The key here is to start with something they don't normally get to do that also is time consuming for THEM (but not for you). (At our house, that's painting!) Then, you also set up other things for them to play with when they are done with the first.  For example, when they finish painting, I might have the play-doh put all ready within my arm's reach, or coloring books/crayons set up in their room, or a huge puzzle laid out to do.  Now is a good time to remind them of toys they used to love but seemed to recently forget about.  When in doubt--and if able--send them outside.  Worry about the mud later.

2) Snacks: When all else fails, throw a snack at them, but one that is more time-consuming for them to eat.  String cheese can take forever for them to peel; also, cuties!  Or dipping carrots in ranch or almonds in peanut butter with them crunching away.  I tend to NOT do the easy grab-n-go snacks (fruit snacks, granola bars, crackers, etc.) in this case for two reasons:
1) they always want more; 2) they are more grouchy/whiney after eating the easy sugary snacks than beforehand.  This is also something you can set up right before.

3) Incorporate Your Kids: There are some great Instagram moms who show you exercise moves you can do USING your children.  Think, weighted squats while holding a child, or high fives every time you come up during a sit-up.  Usually though, I prefer someone already telling me what to do for and throughout a whole workout vs. me putting a series of exercise moves together.  (Ain't nobody got time for that!)  I tend to simply have my kids do what I'm doing next to me, and act all excited that they're doing it!

Finally, know when to CALL IT A DAY.  What matters is that you tried.  Some kids will NEVER make it through a run in a stroller.  Some kids will NEVER let you work out from home without wanting your attention every single second.  Know when to turn back, to turn it off, and to simply pat yourself on the back for even giving it a shot.

For example, the other day, I completed a 40 minute Barre3 workout . . . with an eight hour intermission.  I'm pretty sure my heart rate never got up to any sort of burn, but I did my best until my baby needed me (17 minutes into the workout) and I picked it back up when I could much, much later.

I've quit a mile into a run when my kids were showing today was not the day; I've had one child walk home alongside the bike trailer instead of being tucked inside, because the other child is being so nasty; I've done 9 minutes of a video and turned it off because my kids clearly needed mom.

Time and a season, folks!

Any tips you can share?  I'd love to hear.

Foodie Friday

Friday, January 15, 2016

You know when you spill your guts on the Internet and then later wonder, "What the crap was I thinking?!"

Oh . . . you don't?

Well, that's very much what I'm feeling right now.  So lucky for you, this post is going to be my shortest yet!

I didn't have the greatest week cooking (terrible stir fry, I'm looking at you!), so all I can only recommend two things:

First, is this no-bake, incredible, amazingly rich pie.

I originally found it via Love Taza, but the geniuses behind it are these amazing people.  Word to the wise, make the caramel low and slow.  And don't scrape the sides when you're stirring or pouring it into the crust!  It's delicious even if the caramel crystalizes, as it did the first time I made it; but when you make the caramel right it. is. everything.

You're going to want to make this ASAP.

Second, I totally want everyone to try these Sparkling Ice drinks that my parents got me hooked on to.  "Natural"--whatever that means--diet soda water.  I found them at Safeway, my parents found them at Smith's; I'm betting most grocery stores have them.  This is what I drink instead of alcohol when I feel like "I need a drink."  Does the trick!  (In all fairness, I don't have any thing to compare it to.)  Black Raspberry is my favorite.


The "Should" Voice

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Some (alright, MOST) of my best thoughts come while I'm running.

I remember one run I had a few years ago where it dawned on me that a great many of my weaknesses seem to be anchored in one big one: I care too much about what others think.

I know that shouldn't have floored me, but it did.

Before that moment, I definitely would have labeled myself as a "people pleaser," but I don't know if I would have had the courage to admit that a huge motivation in my life was not necessarily "to be good;" nope, it was in actuality, "to have others think that I am good."

I have been seeing a good therapist lately who calls me out on my crap.  I had forgotten this prior realization about myself. (It turns out, it's easy to stuff down weaknesses you are ashamed of instead of face them head-on.)  Very early in meeting with her, she guided me to see that I have a LOT of work to do on where my motivation is coming from.  I felt so embarrassed because even for her I wanted to appear to be a rightly-motivated perfectionist; but after a few days of thinking about it, I knew she was right.

This therapist is also kind, so also early on she threw me a bone and helped me see another big motivating factor underlying my perfectionism is a strong self-hatred.  (How's that for being nice to me? Somehow, that made me feel better.)

When I took her intake test, I was feeling like I was in a pretty good place, compared to other hard times.  Sure, I was pregnant with my third child and feeling pretty overwhelmed.  I was up half the night with insomnia (and charlie horses), worrying about the world and worrying about my kids.  In the middle of the night, I felt pretty inadequate as a mother, a wife, and human being.  But those feelings would fade a bit by morning.  During the day, I felt fairly stupid because my brain was so foggy.  I felt untalented compared to my friends and people on the internet. I often felt a little "blue."

But I thought that was all mostly normal, because I knew what it felt like to be realllllllly depressed, and I wasn't that.  After all, I was getting out of bed each day, doing my duties, being active with my life, interested in my children, and by all accounts finding moments of real happiness amidst the chaos.  I wasn't starving myself, binging, or exercising to death.  I wasn't wishing for death.

And yet, my therapist's first comment when we finally met was about how her intake test labeled me as highly depressed.

I know that also shouldn't have floored me, but it did.

"I'm 'highly depressed?!'" I asked her, laughing.

The rest of the hour was spent going through the test questions and my answers.  Ultimately, we talked about how although my actions weren't necessarily "highly depressed," my inner-self definitely was, with my thoughts all cycling around a huge amount of self-hatred.


Have you been there?  Are you now?

I think this shocked me so much because I thought I had done a pretty good job of becoming a recovering-perfectionist.  I felt that a lot of my recent struggles had to do with being fairly numb and apathetic about my life as an effort to stay away from bad perfectionist tendencies.  But in truth, I was holding on to a perfectionist mind-set and that was still destroying me from the inside out.

During another run later, I had a helpful realization about that perfectionist mind-set.  So much of perfectionism for me is seeing others do something great, healthy, or inspirational and this voice comes on in my head.

It's the "Should" voice.

I see a young mother really being present with her kids at a fun activity and the voice says, "I should be doing that." I hear of a friend successfully returning to school: "I should finally start on those college classes."  I read about a woman whose kids prefer playing games over screen time:  "I should not let my kids watch any TV ever again."

"I should do more strength training." "I should eat less sugar." "I should read more to my kids." "I should be a size two."  "I should eat all organic." "I should have more kids." "I should dress better." On and on and on and on.

This is not to say that all "Shoulds" are bad.  Healthy "Shoulds" are very necessary in being good citizens, parents, friends, etc.  Good "Shoulds" lead to better lives as we all need to be trying to be better and do better. Otherwise, we are missing out on what life is all about.

Perfectionism is when all those "Shoulds" become "Have Tos," and those "Have Tos" are more motivated by fear (fear of what others think, fear of being a failure) coupled with self-hatred.  Give that voice enough presence in your thoughts and few years in the perfectionism incubator, and suddenly you are frantically doing everything in your life at full throttle.  And nothing will ever be good enough.

I remember my first real experience with the "Should" voice.  I was in 7th grade at the end of our first quarter.  We had all received report cards and as we walked from the bus stop home the neighborhood kids were comparing notes.  A well-admired girl in my grade got a lot of A's and people were impressed.  I looked down at my report card and felt embarrassed that I had far more B's than A's.  (There might have been seen some Cs in there.)   I admired this girl too; I wanted to be more like her.  I can say in hindsight now that I also liked the positive attention she received. (My therapist would be proud!)  So I ventured to my first round of letting the "Should" voice direct my actions.  Straight A's it would be from then on.

(Hysterical sidenote: Want to see a crazy transformation? Behold! My 6th and 8th grade photos:)

The fire was kindled.  I wasn't an automatic perfectionist who hated myself right away, but those "Shoulds" definitely turned into "Have Tos" until my life was way out of control.

I am grateful for some "Should" voices, such as my heeding the call for change, listening to the voice saying that I shouldn't live this way the rest of my life.  But I think the key to discovering which "Shoulds" are right and which are wrong is to rephrase them: Change those "Shoulds" to "Coulds."

"I could do more strength training."

"I could eat more organic."

"I could read some parenting books."

When phrased this way, they become more of a choice.  So, if I do decide to incorporate more strength training into my week, it's for the right reason--my back hurts, weight lifting helps--instead of a "Have to" reason.  If I choose to eat more organic, it is because I like the changes I feel when doing so.  If I choose to improve my parenting, it's more out of love for them and for me, than from hatred for myself and my failings.

Paying attention to your thoughts is the first step in any therapy, I'm sure; that's certainly been the case with me.  It's also darn exhausting.  Experience has shown me it gets easier in time and with a lot of practice.  Although it's very easy to slip back to the little "Should" voice, it is one of the best things I've learned to resist.  It makes all the difference.

Working On Things!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In the spirit of trying new things (without fear of failing stop me), I'd like to report to you on what I've worked on lately.  A new series, if you will, I'll call: Working On Things.

Here are two things I've tried:

1) Last week I applied for an e-design assistant position.  Say, what?  It's for an interior designer I have followed for years, to help in creating electronic design boards.  It's ideal for me because I am so interested in gaining a little experience in this field, and it involves working from home for 10 or so hours per week.

You guys, I have never made a design board.  I also have zero experience so my "resume" literally included: "Blog Stalking."

But, I did it.  My house might have been a total disaster while I created my application, and my kids barely fed for two days nor well-entertained, but I did it.

I haven't heard back from them yet and know it is a LONG SHOT, but I left that week feeling like "me," because I felt so fulfilled creatively.  I had no idea what I was doing, so it took me ridiculously long to create the design board and plan, but I learned new skills in the process that I'm hoping to use in the near future, even if it's just for fun.  So, here's my design board for an eclectic family room:

2) I really stink at strength training.  Which means I also get injured fairly easy while running, or simply carrying around my kids.  I'm kind of tired of that, and tired of feeling like an old lady with a broken back.  I do about ten minutes of strength training twice a week, and it's time to step it up a bit all in the name of health.

I recently followed Muncher Cruncher on Instagram and she has really helpful videos of short strength training moves.  I'm not sure what the guy next to me thought while I simultaneously watched my phone while squatting and doing a dumbbell move, but I needed to be sure of my form.  I've decided to whip out my phone at the gym and choose three of her moves.  It doesn't take any pre-planning, it's just enough of a challenge, but I will feel so much better than solely zoning out on the elliptical.

What have you been working on?  I'd love to be inspired by you!

Some Goals

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Woah, you guys!  

Yesterday was very special for me.  I know it's not like my post was shared all over the internet and the Today show called, but to see what incredible people I have in my life felt so sweet.  I thought for sure that post was coming across as, "Poor me!  Life is so hard for a perfectionist!" (Let's face it, that's basically what I was saying.) But so many wonderful people reached out and related with me, and I have felt more encouraged than I have in a long time.  I hope that goes both ways!  

So, to whoever read even part of the longest post in internet history, I am sincerely so thankful!

Today's post will be much shorter and far less dramatic. . .

The past few years, I haven't really made strong resolutions for the new year.  That should surprise no one if you read even a tenth of yesterday's post.  This year is all about progress for progress' sake (instead of floating, as it's been other years), so I've made some goals this year to keep me both personally motivated, but also keep them attainable.  The goal of my goals (ha!) is to feel better about myself, rather than depressed.  So, these are more about general areas of focus than actual checklists.
Don't worry, I'm not sharing my whole list!  (Janssen, thanks for inspiring me on that one.)  Here's four that might be of interest.

1) LOOK my kids in the eye: I'm fairly good about not being on my phone 'round the clock, although I could stand to improve.  However, in general I've noticed I go long stretches without reallllly looking at my kids when we talk (or when I'm bossing them around from the next room).  I'm busy cleaning, feeding the baby, eating, etc.  (Also, I'm almost always deep in thought.  Make it stop, brain!) I've tried this the past few days and already feel a difference in connecting with my children, even if I'm in the middle of disciplining them or simply smiling at them from across the room while they play.

2) Get better at MOMMY TIME-OUTS: Having a third baby (my oldest was still three years old at the time) has rocked our little world.  I used to pride myself in keeping my temper at bay, but let's just say it's gotten the better of me far too many times the past six months.  I hate going to bed knowing I potentially scarred my children for life.  I want to get better at running to my room first and putting myself into time out before I let the kids have it; even when they deserve to be disciplined, they deserve a mom whose eyes aren't bulging. I'd also like to be better at taking breaks for myself that really restore my mental health, instead of just scrolling through Instagram while trying to fall asleep and wishing I had become a fashion blogger ten years ago and made a million dollars.  

Can I just be honest?  I hate my hair in this picture. Probably should have washed it that day.
3) Be a better GIRLFRIEND TO MY HUSBAND: Brad works a lot and I'm crazy.  We don't get a lot of quality time together during the week, and when we are finally around each other, I'm basically a deflated, beaten up blow-up doll version of myself.  (12 hours straight with three little kids is a TASK, I tell you.) Treating Brad more like my boyfriend, and vice versa, could only help our entire family.  That involves texting him throughout the day to tell him something funny or mildly interesting, being excited when he's home and CONVERSING with him (instead of ordering him around), and actually sitting on the couch side by side instead of across the room.  It also involves making date night a serious priority, even if it's an at-home date night while the kids are asleep.  (Thank you, Lisa, for the motivation.)

4) Run a MARATHON for fun, not for time: Running is incredibly therapeutic for me, so it's a high priority in my life.  But I don't push myself too hard at it and typically keep to my regular thang. I've run a few halves, and ran a full marathon . . . almost five years ago.  It was a rather awful experience.  (I probably got the opposite of "runner's high" from that race.) I'd like to stare down the marathon evil-eyes and tackle it again.  This time, I want to run it for fun (as fun as trying-not-to-poop-your-pants can be), instead of feeling depressed that I didn't qualify for Boston.  Because I've made peace with the fact that's never going to happen.  Ever.

What are some goals you've made for this coming year?  I'd love to hear!

Perfectionism Made Me a Quitter

Monday, January 11, 2016

Story time!

I’m sure many of you can relate to this tale:  There once was a girl who did (almost) everything right. She got excellent grades and she was involved and successful in as many extracurricular activities as she could squeeze into her schedule. Her friends were wonderful influences, and her parents never had to worry about her getting into any sort of trouble.  No one had to tell her what to do; she had already thought of it, done it, and done some more, just to be sure.

This girl thrived on working hard and making everything perfect.  She enjoyed it, because people seemed to like her more for it.  She’d never admit it, but she also enjoyed it because it made her feel superior. 

But, the truth about this girl is that deep down she hated herself.  So very much.
 - - - - - - - - - -      - - - - - -      - - - - -      - - - - - -     - - - - -      - - - - - -       - - - - - - - - - - - 

OK, obviously that girl was me.  (It’s probably been you too!) And, spoiler alert—I crashed and burned.  Hard. 

You know those people who peak in high school?  That was me. 

That’s not to say I was “the sh**” in high school.  Yes, I was in student leadership. Yes, I had many good friends and very few dramas.  Yes, I was never bullied (thank goodness!).   I was very lucky to have friends who cared and who were “good” themselves.  But I was by no means part of the cool group.  I was in band—marching band, even—and drama.  Two pursuits in and of themselves that automatically excluded yourself from the popular kids at my super cliquey high school (a high school that I LOVED and still do).  But, I knew my place in that little world.  I knew I was a “good kid,” and I thrived at it. 

Most kids are SO READY to leave high school.  I was so NOT ready. 

I didn’t even pack until the morning of moving out to college and I cried the entire time.  I was leaving a place where I felt successful, admired even.  (That is embarrassing to type, but this is me trying to be honest.) 

At BYU, I quickly learned that the things I loved to do and had worked hard at (flute, ballet, performing), were not going to work out.  I tried out for various programs and was just not quite good enough to be accepted; some programs I was far, far from good enough.

Oddly, I don’t remember being super sad about not being accepted.  Because deep down, I never believed I was talented enough anyway.  I was too scared to keep trying, keep improving, and auditioning again, only to be turned away.  So, without much hesitation, I quit the things I had loved the most for the longest time.  This makes me sad now, because now I really believe I could have done it, that I could have made one of those programs with more effort.   Fear got the best of me.

Instead, I focused on school—something I knew I could still be great at—and being a straight-A student was my new obsession.  That and being thin, but that’s another tale, a looooong one at that and for another day.

So, I tackled school like I was out to prove myself to the entire world that I thought was watching.  I never missed a class, and I studied around the clock.  A’s were the norm.  (Embarrassingly, my worst grade at BYU was a B+ in BOOK OF MORMON, of all classes. I basically failed at my own religion!)  I met with professors for fun, and picked their brains on how I could pursue academia as my career.  I was a research assistant, I was a teacher’s assistant.  I wrote papers like you wouldn’t believe.  I applied for research grants on the side.  I loved it.  All of it.

I was also certifiably insane.  As in, severely depressed, anxious, and riddled with eating and body image disorders.  I was incredibly good at hiding all of this—I should have won an Oscar for my acting.  Behind my happy and successful mask, I still hated myself.  

I hit rock bottom in ways I’ll talk about later.  Just know, it wasn’t pretty and it’s still not over yet, ten years later.  I somehow (therapy!) managed to claw myself out of the well, fell in love, graduated, and engaged to a great guy—the only guy to know all of my troubles and love me anyway.

I still left BYU feeling like a success.  A PhD was next on my radar. 

We moved to CA right after we got married.  Then I had a young mid-life crisis.  Brad came home to me crying over my identity as a woman almost daily.  Suddenly, I felt like my fate was made for me.  I was a young Mormon wife.  I was supposed to be having babies, not pursuing my dreams! 

Yes, I knew women who did both; but I was still fragile.  Extremely fragile.  I knew having kids while doing a PhD would not mix well for me.  Behaviors I had worked very hard to improve on were still apart of my life, always lurking in the wings.  I knew I’d slip right back and I was scared of being at the bottom of the well again.  So scared.  I made a the decision then at 21 years old, that I wanted to be a stay at home mom not just for my kids, but for me and my sanity.

So, I had two options: 1) Pursue a PhD.  Get in a world of debt.  Graduate 7-9 years later.  Then have kids. Or, 2) Become a teacher.  Have kids in a few years.  Do the PhD later.

Option 1 would still end with me not wanting to work while the kids were young; so essentially, it would be 7-9 years of work and debt for seemingly nothing.  Option 2, it was!

That’s when I really became a quitter. 

Now, I don’t think I made the wrong decision in any way.  I am so glad I was a middle school teacher  before having my kids; I am a better mom for it.  I am so glad I didn’t put off kids for 9 or more years.  I am so glad that I didn’t get in a world of debt.  That was the right decision for me and for my family.

What was wrong was how I perceived myself.  I adopted the “quitter” mentality.  I was trying so hard to not be a perfectionist (with bad perfectionist habits), that I became a passivist to my own life. If I couldn’t be an ultra-achiever, I would be a “normal” quitter, and just not really try anything.  I’d never really be good at the flute again; performing was a pipe-dream; and academia was off in the black hole of “will-I, won’t-I?” I adopted the attitude about not-caring for my old dreams because they were so unrealistic, but really that attitude just masked a lot of sadness, anger, and embarrassment for not amounting to anything. 

For the past eight years, every single day I’ve thought about pursuing something in some way, wondering what I would pursue, and how.  Every single day, I have thought of a reason not to.  I’ve become the ultimate quitter, because I’ve quit before I’ve even started. 

For one, my dreams have changed a bit.  I’m not even sure if going back to school is what I want in my future.  I still want to be home when my kids are home, so I only want to work part time when I do work again once they are in school; that actually makes teaching difficult, too.  I love new things now: interior design being one of them; blogging being another.  (I love blogs.  So much! It’s taken me a while to finally admit that without feeling stupid.)

But the real thing holding me back is that I’ve been way too afraid of imagining possibilities that disrupt my life as a wife and mother, which is a role I deeply value.  I’ve been convinced that it's all too much work to be worth it, and that I’m no longer smart enough.  I’ve let my fear win over and over again, that fear of failure, of not doing things perfectly, and right away.

That’s where this blog comes in.  I’ll admit, I am highly embarrassed of it in its current state.  The design is shoddy, at best.  I don’t know how to fix any issue without a lot of googling.  I do not have good photography skills.  I am truly skittish about all the posts I have in mind.  I’m still that teenage girl who wants everything to be perfect so people will admire me.

Enough is enough.  My approaching 30th birthday gave me some courage.  I finally decided that I didn’t have to have the perfect name, the perfect design, the perfect game plan for this blog.  I didn’t have to finish the illustrator and photography classes I signed up for in “preparation” for creating this blog.  It didn’t need to be the “exact right time” for my family (and this very much isn’t, with three young kids at home).  I just needed to start and not give any more thought to the likely failure of it.

What do I want out of this blog?  For myself, I simply want to try.  I want to test myself every day in doing something that scares me.  (This seriously scares me.) For others who may read this blog, I want them to feel like they can try too, because we cannot let our progress (and happiness!) be smothered by fear.  We cannot let fear dictate where we are headed.

So, with this alllll in mind (are you still here?  This is so long . . . ), tomorrow I’ll be sharing some goals of mine for this year.  Goals where I am aiming at progressing and at tackling some fear.  

Writing will be a big part of that for me.  Readers or no readers, I’m trying.  And that’s enough. 

Foodie Friday

Friday, January 8, 2016

I think this will be my first official "series!"  Friday is my favorite day of the week, might as well make it about FOOD too.

Today, I'll share what I've made (or purchased) lately that has been amazingly good.  Fair warning, most items will have chocolate in them.

First up, Dark Chocolate Granola Bites.  My friend, Janssen from Everyday Reading, got me hooked on my favorite food blog, Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  Any time I'm having people over, have an craving of something I want to make and need a good recipe, or just need to drool over delicious food, I head over to her blog.  If you haven't yet, do yourself and your loved ones a favor and check her out.

These granola bites come from her.  This recipe is low on refined sugars--just honey and some melted dark chocolate chips--with lots of chocolate and lots of crunch.  I keep them in the freezer and gnaw on them when I'm trying to have have a treat that isn't 1,000 calories.  I made some on Wednesday night (probably my fifth time)and seriously lost track of how many I ate yesterday.  Oops!  Here's the link to the recipe.  (This is her photo, by the way.  Because mine looked like deer poop.)

Next comes from my friend Courtney, from Cake by Courtney.  This is another girl who knows her stuff!  Having tried these cakes by the creator herself, I can tell you that I've never had a better cake, and I mean EVER.  For my sister's birthday over Thanksgiving break, I made her the Peanut Butter Chocolate S'mores cake.  It's one of the best things I've had in a looooong time. It was so good, that my family devoured it before I could take a picture (hence, stealing a photo from the real blog). Yes, it's a lot of effort and dirty dishes, but I've been looking for an excuse to make it again as soon as possible (but I might give in and try this one out instead).  I've also been looking for an excuse to move next-door to Courtney.

Finally, let's add a little balance to the equation, shall we?  This comes from another friend, Lacie, who brought me a tone of these after I had my last baby.  I don't know whether to love her or hate her for it.  Suja!  It's an organic cold-pressed juice of various assortments.  Basically, it's like drinking a sweet salad.  Appealing, eh?  I actually LOVE them.  I have a bottle in my fridge 'round the clock and take little swigs from them throughout the day whenever I'm feeling low on energy and would rather eat chocolate.  I seriously feel like they are nature's energy drink, and they are incredible refreshing.  Fair warning, they are $4 a piece out in CA, so they might become an expensive habit.  I went through a month or two without buying them and trying less expensive brands instead, but then I saw $8 jugs of them at Costco.  Sold!  One of these big babies lasts me about one and a half to two weeks.  Try it out!

What foods are you liking lately?
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