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4 Years Enlisted

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This week marks Christopher's 4th anniversary of enlisting into and joining the Air Force. On April 26th, 2006, he signed his life away, shaved all of his thick curly hair off, and hopped on a plane to San Antonio to start his training.

At the time, I was completely lost without him. I didn't know how to live, without him being a text message away. I cried myself to sleep every night he was away in basic. I wrote him letter after letter after letter, 3 letters a day, to try to help pass my empty minutes. It was a desperate sort of love, but hopefully in that, Christopher saw how important he was to me.

In June, while 6 1/2 months pregnant, I packed up all of my things, said goodbye to my best friend, my family, my home- and started the biggest adventure of my life.

I stopped in Boise, 9 hours away from my parents house in Woodland Washington, and collected Christopher's mom, who had volunteered to be my copilot. Christopher didn't know she was coming. He barely knew I was coming, since I had planned the trip at the very last minute. Together, her and I drove across the country in my recently purchased Chevy Tracker, in the heat of an unfamiliar summer, passing real life cowboys at rest stops and avoiding near horror flick scenarios at the scariest of fly infested ghost town diners- and within a week, we made our way all the way down to Lackland Air Force Base, to celebrate Christopher's basic training graduation.

I was so excited to finally hit the X on our map. All of the heartburn, all of the frustration, all of the driving with my mother in law (you know I love you Nonie)- was all finally adding up to something. I'll never forget when my phone rang, just a few minutes after we had crossed the Texas border. I hadn't talked to him in weeks, I was aching to hear his voice, and here I was, telling him how close I was to seeing him.

After a long exhausting journey, a drawn out ceremony of everybody looking exactly the same, all dressed in blue, and hundreds of people marching around in big square formations- I ran from the bleachers to find and greet my airman.

And even though he wouldn't put his arms around me, or show me any kind of affection at all- I was happy to be there with him.

See, Christopher was a little, hmmm, how can I say this in the nicest possible way... big headed, when he first graduated. We've talked about it several times since then, and we can actually laugh about it now, but what it boils down to, is that he had never really achieved such a great accomplishment, and let his pride sort of eat him alive? Yeah, well he deserved it, so, I forgive him.

He wouldn't kiss me, or hug me, or even really talk to me, when we were in public. The entire time he was gone, I had been doing nothing but writing him letters, growing his baby, missing him, and planning on and then making the trip to be with him. So for him to kind of reject me... I went a little crazy, can you imagine?

But to be fair, I can see things from his point of view too. He was on a high horse. And rightfully so. To a certain extent. He had worked hard, and I was being much too needy. There was for sure an adjustment period for the two of us, but we got through it. And if we can get through that, we can get through anything.

Who wants to see more pictures??

Christopher is clearly distracted, and I look like a puppy

Christopher and his Mama

Hand on my baby belly

Christopher and his Mom walking around the air park at Lackland

Catching up on some history

And a quick picture in front of a plane

Classy, right?

Theres an entire stack more of pictures of us standing in front of random planes, a few more pictures of Christopher standing at attention, more bad angles and captures of my double chin (seriously, I gained so much weight when I was pregnant with Eleanore), but these were the pick of the litter.

We've come a long way in the last 4 years. And I hear we're in it for life.

Come and flashback with us! Its easy as your favorite kind of pie (omg, pie, please). Upload an older picture, write a couple of lines to go with it, take a walk down memory lane, and bring us with you! Make sure to put the link to this post on your post (you can either grab our flashback button from the bottom of the page, wayyy down there, or you can just type out an old fashioned text link), and then come and add your link to the list below.

Birthday Wish List

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Christopher keeps asking me what I want for my birthday. Every day, at least twice. Every time he asks, I answer with "nothing", because really, I have absolutely everything that I need. "But what do you want?", he asks. "Nothing", I respond with, because if y'all remember, a few months back I got my new Canon Rebel, and at the time, I considered that to be my everything present- covering every gift giving holiday at least until Christmas. I wasn't just saying that, I really am in love with it, and the only thing I hope to see on my birthday, is a chocolate raspberry cake, made with love by my beautiful family. I know that sounds lame. But I'm lame, so-

Today while I was putting away the dishes, I was thinking back to when I was younger, and I'd ask my mom what she wanted on her birthday. She'd say "nothing", too. Only, she'd say it in a way that was that was heavy with self pity, and with that I never knew how to react. She wanted something, but didn't want to tell me what, because- well I don't know why? I put a plate on the bottom rack, and then glanced over the counter into the living room. I really, truly, have everything that I need. I have more than I need. I have things that I never even dreamt I'd have. How beautifully blessed am I? A house. A family. A warm cup of coffee to help round out my sanity every morning while I'm waking up. What more could I possibly want?

Wait. I can want things.

But what do I want?

So I decided to make a wish list. A birthday wish list. I sat down at the computer (both of them, on and off throughout the day. 10 minutes on the couch, cook dinner, 10 minutes at the desk, feed the babies, 10 minutes on the couch) and started hearting things on Etsy and google searching anything that came to mind. A couple right clicks and save pictures as later, and I was finished.

It turns out there actually are things that I want...

1. A coffee mug cozy. In blue. Its bright and fun, and maybe my coffee would stay warmer for just a few extra minutes.

2. Some heart shaped measuring spoons. With cute sayings on them. "a pinch of kindness", aww!
3. A yummy red Macintosh Apple scented candle. Not "baked apple pie" or "apple crisp", but Macintosh Apple.

4. Aloe bath bombs. Any bath bombs, really, but aloe sounds particularly nice, doesn't it?

5. A KitchenAid stand mixer. Maybe in yellow? Maybe in blue? I really don't care, just having one would be nice.

6. A really fun macro lens to go with my everything-gift.

7. This "No Gluten Necessary" print. Theres actually a cute little series of them, but I like this one the most.

8. I looooove the music of Stevie Nicks. In the geekiest of ways. I even went so far as to ask Christopher if we could name our child Bella Donna. He said no, haha. So this shirt would probably become my new favorite. In an XL, since its American Apparel, and after having the bean even that will be a stretch.

1. Yellow Rose Stud earrings. I don't have very many items in my jewelry collection. My favorite pair of earrings broke recently, and now I don't have any studs at all. These ones would look nice, I think?

2. Some blue rain boots. Like the one in this picture? Maybe some blue floral rain boots. I want to go puddle stomping. Ok and maybe I want the picture too.

3. This Print reminds me of the Time Travelers Wife. I haven't finished the book yet (I don't even know where it is, I think I hid it in the desk drawer and then ...think its still there?). I lose myself in that book, and maybe thats why I haven't finished it yet, so I can make it last longer.

4. Don't laugh. I want this wolf tank dress, and I want it bad. We saw it at a booth when we went to the Rattlesnake Roundup, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It would be so hideously perfect on me. I need it. In a size L.

5. A chocolate raspberry cake. I want my babies and husband to all huddle in the kitchen together, wearing matching aprons, holding wooden spoons and plastic bowls, throwing gluten free flours into the air- yum!

6. A butterfly cat coffee mug. Yes, such a thing does exist!

7. More pictures of fruit. I don't have much of a theme in my kitchen, but ever since I've had my own stove to cook on, the only things I've wanted to hang on the walls around it have been pictures of grapes and apples. Even though I can't have either of those things. Fruit is pretty.

8. A bird bath. How about... a mermaid bird bath?! Yes? I've been telling Christopher about how I want a bird bath for months now, but I really don't want to pay full price for one. I'm hoping that randomly we'll come across one at a garage sale sometime this summer, or find one on sale when we're least expecting it. And wouldn't it be amazing it if was mermaid themed?? I'll take what I can get.

Yay, that was fun. It was like internet window shopping. I got to browse brightly colored kitchen gadgets and tank dresses all while changing diapers and putting together tuna noodle casseroles. Now, I probably won't get around to doing that again for another year, maybe longer, but- it sure was fun! Happy birthday to me next Wednesday!

Berry Breakfast Not-So-Crisp

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We had a rough weekend, folks. With Christopher working 12 hour shifts both Saturday and Sunday, Eleanore's epic meltdown in the middle of the Earth Day celebration at the zoo (I officially believe in angels after that, by the way, especially those that come to us in the form of cowboys), and Charlie's vitamin c allergy kicking into full gear- this berry cobbler was just what I needed.

I made this Friday night, actually, so that it would be ready for Christopher to have on Saturday morning (I thought maybe it would help ease his I-don't-wanna-work mood).

I haven't had a cobbler since I was pregnant with Charlie. And during that time period, I must have eaten at least six peach cobblers, probably all to myself. At the time, I had no idea of my fructose intolerance, and was always so confused as to why I felt so awful after the peach dish was gone.

I was nervous to make this cobbler. Well not nervous to make it, I knew my family would probably love it whether I ate it along with them or not, but I was nervous that the sugar used to sweeten it would caramelize during the baking process- and if that happened, I couldn't have even a single bite. And I really wanted cobbler.

Usually the "crunchy" crisp topping contains brown sugar. Well I can't have brown sugar (the molasses), so I figured I'd just use cane sugar. And... maybe if I didn't use as much of it... then it wouldn't caramelize?

Y'all, really, I know nothing about baking. And when it comes to baking things fructose free and gluten free, I'm almost always confused and completely overwhelmed.

I had to give it a try anyways though, right? I had to have myself some cobbler!

Berry Breakfast Not-So-Crisp
This recipe is both Gluten free, and fructose free

Preheat oven to 350.

The Filling
-5 cups frozen berries
-1 tablespoon cornstarch
-1 tablespoon rice flour
-1/2 cup cane sugar

The Not-So-Crisp
-1/4 cup gf oat flour
-1/4 cup gf oats
-1/2 cup almond flour
-1/4 cup sorghum flour
-1/4 cup millet flour
-1/2 cup rice flour
-1 teaspoon cornstarch
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup Earth Balance

Pour your frozen berries (I used strawberries and blueberries) into a glass bowl. Pour the rest of "the filling" ingredients right on top of them.

And then mix it all up.

Mix up all of your "Not-So-Crisp" dry ingredients in a large glass bowl, and then cut in your earth balance with a fork or one of those fancy butter cutter inner thingies. Yep, one of those.

Take a big handful, and sprinkle it inside a greased casserole dish. Just enough to cover the bottom.

Add half of your berries.

Add another handful or two of your not-so-crisp.

Add the remainder of your berries.

Add the remainder of your not-so-crisp.

Cover your casserole dish, either with a lid, or foil- put it into the oven for 50-60 minutes.

Wait, wait, wait. Tick tock, tick tock.

The oven is beeping, and your house smells like a warm orchard, right? And ohmahgosh, it looks so good through the lid, doesn't it?

Aaaand, remove the top. Look- no caramelization!! Well, for those of you who like the crispy crunch of the baked brown sugar, you might not be nearly as excited as I am. For the 2 other people with fructose issues that might be reading this, YAY with me, will you?? YAY!

While your dish sits and cools, the floury crumble is going to soak up the berry juices. It might start to look a little soggy (like the above pictures), and you might start to get a little sad faced, not being used to a soggy crisp, but... this is a not-so-crisp, and it still tastes just as good, I promise.

The cobbler tends to thicken quite a bit when re-heated, so if you're going to eat it warm the next day, be careful not to overheat it.

For the baby's breakfast, I added a few drops of water and ran it through the blender. Hes picky, and I still have to puree things for him, even though hes 16 months old. Hey I understand- not having molars is hard.

If you're feeding this to a little one, you might want to um... be careful?

Because, uh oh. It looks like someone made a lil' bit of a mess, huh?

But I guess that means he likes it!

Of course I'll be playing around with this recipe in the future, I'll probably make it again this next weekend (its so nice to wake up and have a yummy cobbler to eat to get your morning started!), and maybe I'll see what happens if I defrost and pat dry the berries before baking? Maybe I'll use less flour? Maybe I'll use more? It'll take a couple tries to bring it to my own personal perfection, but this is a great start, if I do say so myself.


A Trip to Duck Island

Monday, April 26, 2010

A couple of years ago, when Eleanore was still a baby, not even able to walk or talk, Christopher and I went on a drive and got lost. We were trying to find the zoo, but not being from the area, and being nearly blind when it came to navigating any kind of Texas road, we found ourselves scratching our heads and turning down the wrong roads. We were lost.

Where we did end up though, was most definitely enchanting.

We should have gotten out of the car, we should have walked around, we should have explored. ...but we didn't.

Our sense of adventure was poor back in those days. We were usually on a straight lined mission to wherever it was we had previously drawn our map to. Detours weren't welcome.

We turned the car around and left.

Even though we had only spent about 3 minutes in that mysterious land, I wondered about it for days after. Weeks actually.

Ok, I wondered about it for years.

Finally, recently, upon picking up our friends for a mid day adventure, I decided it was time to go back. So go back, we did...

Lets call this mysterious place, Duck Island, shall we? Ducks, swans, geese, herons- you name it, and there they were. The birds were so friendly, that they didn't even so much as budge as we approached. Because of that, I didn't bother trying to cross the narrow land bridge to the island, I just pulled over right then and there.

We got out of the car- Me, Eleanore, Charlie, Marisa and her girls (Gracie and Annelie- Eleanore's most favorite friends in the whole entire world), and the wonder that had been pinching at my memory for the last couple of years, finally floated to the ground like a feather, right in front of a duck, who of course let out a quack as a way of saying "welcome back, Tia".

So this was duck island.

Some of my WIC benefits had expired up in my pantry a few days before, so rather than tossing them out with the garbage, I brought them along, should we happen to dance with the ducks like in a daydream.

The ducks were happy to accept our peace offerings.

Eleanore, Gracie, and Annelie ran back and forth along the shore, throwing pieces of tortilla into the water and onto the sand, both overhand and under, making sure every duck had his or her fair share. Little Charlie, just having learned to walk, had to stay strapped into his stroller. The last thing we wanted in such a perfect place, was for the baby to pet the duckies the same way he does our kitty (pulling her tail, hitting her face, screaming "PET PET PET"). Also, as you might have imagined, the backdrop to my fairytale, while coated in glitter and sparkles, wasn't exactly the cleanest, and maybe didn't smell quite so much like strawberries, as it should have.

Strawberry scented or not, it was even better than I had remembered it.

After our food supply for those with wings ran out, we decided it was time for us to settle down and eat. I had brought our largest blanket along, a California King sized pink comforter given to me by my parents years ago, and after a quick investigation of the nearby area, we found the perfect little patch of grass to set up our picnic at.

Marisa and her girls set up on one side, while me and my kids set up on the other. Our food allergies, their food allergies... it could have been a disaster, but with a blanket that big, keeping an easy distance isn't a challenge.

When the kids were done eating, they went running in a nearby flower meadow.

It doesn't sound real, does it? Black swans, nests high above the trees, ducks that sing along with the radio, flower meadows- but there was literally a beautiful meadow, with pretty purple and yellow flowers peeking their petals up through the grass, just a few feet away from us. The girls ran and ran, giggled and squealed, skipped and twirled. Charlie, while being the only boy at the gathering, plucked at the grass, poked at the bugs, and rubbed dirt onto his skin. Everyone was content.

Soon it was time to say goodbye to our flying friends.
Into the car we went, and away we drove.

"We'll see you again soon, duck island"...

A Little Prenatal Yoga

Saturday, April 24, 2010

First off, let me start by saying, I am by no means an expert on yoga (a yogini?). I'm not flexible, my body cringes every time I hear the words "downward dog", and every time someone say "childs pose" I think back to that scene from Forgetting Sarah Marshall (ya know, the one where he does the handstand?) and laugh myself silly.

After giving birth to my second child, before getting pregnant with my third, I was really focusing on my health. I was whipping my body into shape, transforming myself while the baby napped, sneaking off for C25K running dates three times a week, and getting a firm grip on my food allergies and diet. Everything was falling into place, my new healthy ways were sculpting me into a better person.

I continued to run through my first trimester, running a 4 mile race with my husband while I was 10 weeks pregnant. After that, I was done. Done with running, done with physical activity in general. I didn't say so out loud, but my napping in place of jogging said it clearly enough. When I asked for suggestions of what to do get back on the wagon, several of my friends had suggested doing prenatal yoga, and while I had never really done yoga before, its something I had always wanted to try, and I wanted to keep up with my fitness as much as possible.

Within a few days, I had a prenatal yoga DVD by Jennifer Wolfe, sitting in my mailbox, chanting "downward dog, downward dog" at me through the case. I rushed the package into the house, unwrapped it like a little girl opening a Barbie on Christmas... and then there it sat. For days. For weeks.

I was tired. I didn't want to move. Couldn't I count doing the dishes as being my workout. Downward dish? ...No?

So one night when I was feeling particularly feisty, I took a closer look at Jennifer Wolfe's Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga, unrolled my hot pink yoga mat (covered in pen marks, thanks to my daughter's friend), waited until the room cleared (go to bed, kids!), and got down to business.

I don't know what I was thinking, honestly, by starting off doing the 30 minute set, rather than the 15. Halfway through it, I collapsed on the floor in a fit of "I give up!", and then crawled myself up to the couch, where I fell asleep (I told you I was tired).

And there the video sat. Again. For days. For weeks. Only sometimes being brought to my attention with my 1 year old had gotten his hands on it and was carrying it around like a baby doll.

Finally, my second trimester rolled around. I started getting out of the house more- walking, instead of running. I got back in the habit of heavy duty housework. And then one day, while both of the babies were taking a nap at the same time (heavenly, those days are), I thought "15 minutes... thats all it takes. And man I've really got some stress to relieve". So I unrolled my pink yoga mat again, got situated in my comfy clothes, slid my shoes off, and hit play.

Boy, Jennifer sure didn't make this for beginners, did she? Thats ok, thats ok, a little extra concentration, maybe a peek at the tv every couple of seconds, and I'll be able to keep up, I reminded myself. I had watched the clip on modifications before I started, and who cares if I didn't keep up with the routine beat for beat- I could do this. No sweat.

Ok, well, maybe a little sweat, I guess.

I downward dog'd, I cat hunched my back, I lunged and warrior'd, and after 15 minutes of moving my thumbs together whenever Jennifer told me to- I HAD DONE IT.

I felt, so good. Like, stretched out in all of the places that had been begging to be stretched. I felt relaxed. I felt energized. I felt loose, and in shape. It was perfect. This Mama, likes yoga. Is it too early to say that I might even love it?

The next day I was sore, but in the best way possible. I couldn't wait to do the DVD again. Knowing how badly the 30 minute set had kicked my butt a few weeks before, I decided I'd stick to the 15 minute set (good call on that one), and a few days later, I did it again.

Here I am, 24 weeks pregnant, practically a pro at Jennifer's 15 minute short form (I just got done doing it again, after having one of those days, I really needed it. And it seriously melted away my frustrations, just like sticking chocolate in the microwave and then eating the entire bowl yourself. Only way healthier). I have no idea what half of the words in her vocabulary mean, but I know that after a single session with her, I'm left feeling aaah-mazing and almost like I'm floating away on a big pink fluffy yoga mat cloud. I don't do it as often as I should, although after every workout I say to myself "really, that only took 15 minutes, I totally have time for this every day".

I think in a week or two I'm going to graduate myself to the 30 minute program. I'm not so sure my weak arms can handle it, downward dog still kills me (I'm probably doing it wrong), but I'm sure going to try!

High Wasited Baby Sweats

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Its another Friday (well, Thursday night while I'm writing this), and I don't know about your week, but mine has been hectic. For the past couple of days I've been working on un spoiling my 3 1/2 year old daughter, who seems to take a single gram of sugar and turns it into a day long (epic every time) battle between me, and her attitude. So far, our changes have been good. It hasn't been easy. There have been tantrums, bed wettings (oh, yeah thats been real fun), standoffs- the works. But progress takes time, and I'm standing my ground. Little girl will eat her veggies, toys will get put away, and all back talking will send her straight to bed. This Mama means business.

Discipline and war zones aside, we've also had a really fun week. Inflatable pools, long walks in the double stroller, making new friends at the toddler park, running away from and chasing giant Texas sized spiders (ok so maybe that one doesn't fall under the fun category). This Mama also loves to love her babies.

Anyways, I hope everyone had a great week, and I hope that you have an even better weekend. Now onto this weeks flashback...

A picture of me as a baby (I bet I threw a tantrum or two), heeeeeeeeee. I'm not sure how old I am in the picture, maybe around 20 months? Does that sound right? Maybe a little older?

...check out those pants.

I'm pretty sure this picture was taken in my Grams and Papa's back yard. I don't recognize it, but I just don't think it could have been taken anywhere else.

Does anybody else see the insane resemblance between me and little Charlie?

This picture is still new to me, since I just got it in the mail a few months ago, along with a handful of other pictures from my baby days. Every time I go through the bag, its like I'm looking at them for the first time all over again.

Do you have an old picture that you can pull out of the bag and share with us? A baby picture, a picture of your baby, a cat, a dog, a house ... anything near and dear to your heart? Post it on your blog, write a little ditty to go along with, add our link (we have a button down at the bottom of the page, or you can simply text link us), and then come and add the link to your entry (or facebook post, or twitpic, or however you decided to play along) to the list below.

Something Green For The Bean

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Last night Christopher and I went to bed early. I was exhausted (as I have been most evenings), and all I could think about, from the second he walked in the door, was how badly I wanted to snuggle up and bury myself in my nest of pillows and blankets and call it a night.

Before going to sleep, I pulled up my shirt to reveal my tummy, and said to Christopher "look, right there", and pointed towards the area just left of my belly button. He tore his eyes away from the tv (I know honey, Pawn Stars on History, it was rough), and surely- the bean stretched. A little poke from under my belly, an outreached arm or foot, causing an obvious ripple in my smooth skin and making his or her presence known.

A few weeks ago I got a surprise package from one of our wonderful sponsors. Miss Maggie (please take just a minute to visit her shop, if you've never done so) had knitted these beautiful booties and matching hat, wrapped them in a simple black ribbon, and attached a little note that said "something green, for the bean".

"eeeeeee!", I squealed.

Right away, I could picture in my head an itty bitty baby, wrapped in nothing but green yarn, and my loving arms.

Still, the bean doesn't have much of its own. We haven't bought a single thing for it, we haven't brought any of our gently used baby things in from the garage to set up in our bedroom where the bean will be staying- we're completley unprepared, all while having been prepared since the test read positive.

I can't wait to wrap our baby bean, whether it be a girl or a boy, in these miniature handmade slippers and newborn sized hat- expect a ridiculous amount of pictures.

Thank you, Maggie. We love them. And our bean will too.

Gluten Free Sugar Free Vegan Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Monday, April 19, 2010

See the happy cookie?

Just like the title of the post says, these cookies are gluten free, sugar free, and vegan. Super healthy, mega tasty, no guilt- cookies.

They most certainly are not fructose free though. At all. They're quite the opposite actually. So while these healthy oatmeal raisin cookies are a dream come true for my babies (and yours too if you make them), they're my worst nightmare. I couldn't lick my fingers, I couldn't sample the waters of sweetness, I had to hold my breath while mixing and trust my gut instinct that they'd turn out alright.

And to my happy surprise, they turned out perfectly, so says the little ones and their Daddy (and I believe them, since I drilled them on taste and texture until I could practically taste them myself).

This morning as I was lounging on the couch, suffering from another cold dreary day, the idea of baking cookies came into mind. Boring ol' chocolate chip simply wouldn't do, and since we ran out of eggs yesterday, whatever we mixed together with our wooden spoons, would have to be vegan. I opened the fridge and stared with uncertainty at our sad display of ingredients. In the end, I wound up pulling out everything that I was allergic to, that would in no other way get used up. While doing so, I ended up tossing out a few things that had expired (I think they were walnuts and macadamia nuts), but for the most part, everything was still good, and begging to be dumped out into a bowl and eventually heated to a crisp.

I rallied the troops, armed them with plastic bowls and silicone spatulas, and together we tore apart the kitchen.

Gluten Free Sugar Free Vegan Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Recipe adapted from chefinyou

-1 cup gluten free oats (we use Bob's Red Mill)
-1 cup chopped hazelnuts (or walnuts, or almonds, or maybe even peanuts?)
-2/3 cup unsweetened coconut
-1 1/3 cup brown rice flour
-1/2 teaspoon sea salt
-pinch xanthan gum
-2 teaspoons cinnamon
-1 cup raisins
-1/2 cup pure maple syrup (not the cheap stuff, folks)
-1/4 cup apple juice (we keep simply apple on hand)
-1/4 cup Earth Balance, melted
-2 tsp gluten free vanilla

Preheat your oven to the usual 350.

Spread out your coconut, nuts, and oats on a baking sheet. When oven is ready, slide them in, set the timer for 6 minutes. When it beeps, pull the pan out, use a flat metal spatula to scoop off the coconut, and put it into your food processor or dry vita mix container. Give the oats and nuts a stir, then stick them back into the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes. I pulled mine out at 4.

While your nuts and oats are in the oven toasting, soak your raisins in a bowl full of water. I saw this trick on a Food Network episode of Paula Dean once, and now that we've tried it, we'll never go back to using dry raisins again.

After you've pulled your nuts and oats from the oven, take about half of them, and add them to your coconut in the blender. Blend into a nice flour. It doesn't matter if things are uniform in texture, grind it down as best you can. After the first half is ground up to your liking, blend up the second half.

Pour it all into a bowl.

Add your brown rice flour, cinnamon, xanthan gum, and sea salt. Use a whisk to mix.

Now, mix in your maple syrup, apple juice, Earth Balance, and vanilla. Drain your raisins and stir those in as well.

Grab a helper, if you haven't already, sit down at a table (or if you're us, right there on the nice clean floors) stir stir stir your dough, and then scoop it onto the cookie sheet using a small ice cream scooper or a regular ol' kitchen spoon.

Use the back of a spoon, or your fingers, and smush the cookie down a bit. It should like this.

Put that helper of yours to work, and get to baking! We filled up 2 cookie sheets (lined with parchment paper), and then had a little bit leftover. Since this mix is vegan, its safe to eat raw. I split the remaining dough between my hungry babies, gave them each a bowl and spoon of their own, and let them have it.

Bake your cookies for approximately 15 minutes.

When they're all finished, pull them out and let them cool right there on the pan for a minute or so, and then move them to a cooling rack. In the end, they should look something like that right there.

Load them into an airtight container, slide them into the fridge or freezer, and enjoy the way your house smells! Oh, and don't forget to thank your helper with a fresh warm cookie as payment, hee.

A Perfect Rainy Day In April

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On Saturday I woke up much earlier than I would have liked to, at 7:30, so that I could go to a town wide garage sale 22 miles up the highway. I was supposed to go with my neighbor, but she slept right through my "good morning" text message (I don't blame her, Saturdays are usually my days for catch-up sleep too), so I decided to pack up the whole family and take them with me, just to get us all out of the house and breathe the fresh moist air that spring had given us.

Right next to the passenger side of our van, lying on the cold concrete all by itself- covered in perfect little round water droplets, was a single white flower that the wind must have blown away from its planter, and gently tossed into the driveway.

I picked up my camera, which I had on hand in case I should come across an amazing garage sale display (which I didn't), nudged the lens as close to the flower as it would comfortably go, pressed my finger down on the trigger, and then hopped back into the car and off we went on our adventure.

Most of the garage sales were rained out, but the drive was absolutely beautiful, and well worth the trip. As we followed our path home, Christopher told me how much he loved spending time with me, reached over and set his hand on the top of my leg, my heart melted, and our romantic moment reached out into infinity- I've been floating along ever since.

And when we pulled into our driveway, the flower was still there, just as we had left it.
And its probably still out there right now, with its perfectly formed raindrops, stem side up.

If I wouldn't have gotten up early and dragged myself out of bed, I would have never taken that picture, and I would have never written this post. We wouldn't have gone out together on our adventure, we probably would have stayed at home, inside, all day, in our Saturday sweats. My husband would have never reached over and put his hand on my leg, gentle as he did, he would have never said how much he loved spending time with me, which again- completely melted my heart, and we probably would have spent the entire day bickering over something ridiculous, as a result of not having left the house.

Even rainy days are good days for garage sales.

Blog Awards

Friday, April 16, 2010

Recently I've been given some lovely blog awards- the kind that painted a large toothy smile on my face until a toddler came along and smeared my mouth with an unknown sticky substance (no really, I think it might have been some kind of fruit thing, which I'm totally allergic to, so my rushing to the sink was probably a smart move, and quite possibly saved my life).

The first award that I need to mention, is this Beautiful Blogger award, presented to me by the always enjoyable Chana, over at Mamma Town.

In order to take this award under my wing, I have to share 10 random things about myself, and then turn around and release my catch to 3 other blogs that I find to be beautiful. Ok, ten things...

1. Sometimes I rub circles on my leg with the palm of my hand while I'm drinking a glass of water.

2. I really like strawberries dipped in chocolate.

3. I think in blog-speak. After something amazing happens, I repeat it to myself in the same sort of sentence that I would use to describe it to somebody else.

4. I haven't bought new underwear in over two years. I'm a size 12-ish, pregnant with my third child, and still wearing stretched out size 16 panties that I've had since I worked at Lane Bryant.

5. Last night I had a Twilight themed dream. I was Bella (gross), and Christopher was Edward (again, gross). It was foggy, and seemed to be October. Vampires were chasing me, almost biting my neck (funny how I have cherries tattooed right where a vampire would bite, huh?), and eventually I used my super power you-can't-get-me bubble to protect myself, even though I was still human.

6. I wish I had a bird bath. That will be my ultimate garage sale find this season should I come across one.

7. I changed 3 poopy diapers today, all handed to me by the same child, within 3 hours of each other.

8. I'm wearing my husbands shirt right now, because nothing fits over my belly.

9. My hair color had faded horribly. Its still red, but... not nearly as red as it was, or as red as I wish it was. We've recently cut costs, in order to afford The Bob, and I could never go to the salon and spend another 50 some odd dollars in having it re done. Someday soon I'll make my way towards the local Sally's and hope something jumps off the shelf and matches itself to the color that used to be. Until then, I suffer.

10. I've never had ice cream cake.

Now, to blow my kisses at 3 other beautiful bloggers...

-Oh So Retro
-Ramblings About My Life
-The Good Life

The cute and talented Nicole over at Mrs. Muffins awarded me this cozy Hug Award, which I'll gladly accept with open arms (get it, as in, a hug? ...har har). In order to set this award up on my shelf with the others (all two of them), I'm supposed to share a story about a memorable hug I've had.

The hug that comes to mind almost immediately, and probably because I just read Mrs. Muffins hug story, is the hug that Christopher and I shared when I found him in the crowd at his basic training graduation in San Antonio, back in June of 2006 (which I'll be writing more about soon, as his 4 year enlistment mile marker approaches). I had just traveled all the way across the country, while 6 months pregnant with our first, traveling with his mother (love ya Noni), in temperatures that I thought surely no human could survive for longer than 5 minutes at a time- but as soon as the recruits were done marching around together singing silly patriotic songs about this and that flying high into the sky, off I ran to find him, and then there he was, and then hug we did.

Now, I need to hug at least one other blogger, maybe more. Who could it be now (who could it be now?)?

How about... Vintage Melissa? I kinda of feel like she could use a hug.

Oh, and Conversations With Nana, because shes Christopher's grandma, and shes been blogging about her life in an amazing way that I can't seem to get enough of.

Ok ok, and, and.... Melissa over at Overwhelmed By His Blessings. For sure. I'd hug her in real life if I could.

So thats that. My passing on of the blog awards. Thank you, lovely ladies that awarded them to me, and your welcome, lovely ladies that I've in return awarded them to.

Have a great weekend, friends!

Moving In Together

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Welcome to another edition of Flashback Friday! I'm not going to lie, sometimes when Thursday night rolls around, I groan (like last week- Christopher totally bailed me and my heat exhaustion out, thanks honey!!), cross my arms, and pout at the thought of having to dig out a picture and force my fingers to type some sort of story like caption to go along with it. But other times, like tonight, I'm very much overwhelmed with excitement and can hardly wait to click "publish".

I love all of the new participants *waves* that have been stopping by our space and leaving their link for us to follow back to their stories. Don't be shy, if you've never played along before but you want to, jump right in! You don't have to write a big long story, or go into extreme detail, just a simple picture with even just a single line of caption is enough to connect with us and make us smile. Us being, the entire flashback community (I'm pretty sure I can call us that, right?) of course, not just me and Christopher (ok so, Christopher doesn't actually read anybodys flashback, haha, but I do).

Anyways. On with our flashback...

January 2005. The middle of an ice storm.

Christopher and I had met each other the summer before, in June I believe. By that December, right around Christmas time, he had moved into my tiny studio apartment, and we were happily keeping each other warm at night.

While my studio was extremely affordable for its amazing location in downtown Portland, it wasn't big enough for all of our things, and each other. We had found an apartment on the other side of the bridge, and by January- we were moving into our first apartment together.

It had a bedroom. And a kitchen. And a full size bathroom.
A sunken living room. Full size windows.
A real apartment.
All ours.

The above picture was taken by Christopher's mother, who happened to be in town during our move. She picked up the camera during a silly game of hand clapping. The clock in the background belonged to my Papa, and we still have it- its hanging up in the garage, just where he had hung it. The TV, we still have. My parents had given it to us as a gift when they got a larger one, and they've since bought us an even bigger one (we would have never bought a nicer one for ourselves, they got it for us as a Christmas gift), and have moved the old one into our bedroom. The entertainment center is something that I grew up with, my parents having gotten it as a wedding gift (If I'm remembering that correctly), and we still have that as well. We almost sold it in a garage sale, but I just couldn't let it go. Instead, the entertainment center that held my parents entire record collection, and then mine and Christopher's, is now upstairs in our daughters room holding Disney movies and My Little Ponies. The desk that you can hardly see, and the chair that Christopher is sitting on- my dad built those. He didn't build them for me, but it was given to me, and its something I'll never get rid of.

And again... checkout Christopher's hair.
Also, I'm wearing a New Kids On The Block t-shirt.

Christopher's mom snapped another picture of us while we were unpacking our new kitchen. I had so many kitchen things that I had been saving up since I was 16 years old (we were 20 when we moved in together), that I had been dying to use. I knew I'd move out someday, so started asking for things like blenders and toaster ovens way back when. When I lived in my studio, I didn't even have a counter top, I used an ironing board, so they all stayed packed away. Finally, it was time to bring it all out of hiding and put it to good use.

Do you see the PBR there on the counter? Its to the left.
We drank a lot in those days.

And do you see that awful army hip pack that Christopher is wearing? I wasn't sad on the day that he threw that thing away, lemme tell ya. He wore it everywhere, filled it with literally nothing, and it was constantly getting snagged on things, or falling off (he has no hips, hes a guy!). I think it went into a free box during our "get rid of this stuff before we get married, or go marry your stuff" fight. Not a pleasant fight to have, but seriously, it was either his junky recording equipment that was doing nothing but taking up space and time, or me.

He chose me *insert cartoon hearts and eyelash batting here*.
Good choice, right?
I'd say.

I never would have thought that moving into our first apartment together, way back in 2005, would lead us to where we are now, 5 years later, living together half a country away from where we started, no manny-packs or reel to reel players or recorders allowed (hon you know its for the best), still very much in love.

And I still have those pink striped pajama pants and that trucker shirt.

Ok, your turn! Grab a seat, upload a picture, write a little blurb about it- and flashback with us! Make sure to link back to this here post (you can use our polaroid button from wayyy down at the bottom of the page, or you can link back old fashioned text style), and then add your link to the list below. Our flashbacks make the world a better place. Promise, hee hee.


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I had the diaper bag halfway put together, both kids were getting their shoes on (ok Charlie was chewing on his and Eleanore was crying by the front door because hers were on backwards and she couldn't possibly fix it herself), I was just minutes away from getting us off on a mid week adventure to the zoo, when- suddenly my phone lights up with a text message from my long lost friend Saybra, something about how the babies can play with goats?

WHAT! Yes! Where?? We love goats!

Ok, I hate goats (I've been attacked twice, maybe even three times), but the babies would love it, I know they would!

I quickly texted Saybra back, and within 15 minutes, we were all strapped into the car, on our way to play with goats! We'd save the zoo for another day.

Of course I got lost on the way, having lived here for 4 years and still having no idea how to get around this dang town, but we eventually got there, with farm songs on the cd to spare.

Eleanore got out of the car quickly, jumped around and nearly broke her neck bending it in every direction to try and see where the goats were hiding, without having to leave her comfort zone beside the van. While Saybra was putting a puppy dog into a kennel, Elie spotted the goats off in the distance behind a fence, and off she went.

Charlie sat happily on my back on the ERGO, while Elie stood by my side observing them while they snacked, too afraid to actually touch one. She was really excited while they were eating and nudging each other like cute animal friends do, but as soon as they got close to her she'd back up with wide eyes and panic in her voice. After being in the field for awhile, she started warming up to them like I knew she would, and broke down and did the goat dance with me.

Whats the goat dance, you ask? Pretty much a hip shake with flailing chicken arms, and a little "goat goat goat, oh goat goat" song to go with it.

The goats got bored with our company, and ran off to play on a pile of boards by the barn alone. We had been out there for awhile by that point, so after some more goat dancing and another attempt at pushing Eleanore to feed them when she clearly didn't want to, we decided to head inside to visit the puppy dogs and snack on frozen waffles and juice.

All in all, the kids loved the adventure. The green grass, the poop on our shoes, the sun on our skin- so much fun. Charlie fell asleep on the way home, and Eleanore passed out face first on her bed just five minutes after walking through the door.

I'd say it our first playdate with goats was a success.

And um, I didn't get attacked, so- thats good too.