Jungle fever chevron quilt


This is the first of a month of posts to catch up on my recent quilting. In the matter of a few weeks, I got my act together and took the giant stack of fabrics I had purchased as soon as I knew my friends and family were pregnant. This seems to be the year of boys so far as all of the people who have had babies, except one! It’s been fun for me to sit and pick out the fabrics and patterns with a more masculine theme. I’ve been sewing so much for Sylvi in the last few years that all these little prints that have robots and spaceships are ones that I haven’t gotten to see!


This quilt was made for a friend of mine from church. She works for the children’s ministry and because of my personal involvement with MOPS, I’ve wound up spending a lot of time with her and it was just so exciting to find out she was expecting. Little Landon made his appearance last week and he’s just precious.


I had pinned this pattern a while ago and planned to use it for someone else, but when I got the fabric for Landon’s quilt, I knew my plans needed to change. Also, I changed some of the measurements of the original pattern. It called for 7 1/2 inch squares, but once they were sewn together, you were to trim them down to 6 1/2 inches… nope. I’m confident in my half square triangles so I didn’t leave room for trimming and they turned out perfectly.


I loved the prints and was so excited when one pair matched up enough to extend the picture!


I backed with Michael Miller flannel and traced out the chevron with straight line quilting, which I honestly believe will always be my favorite kind of quilting. I love how this turned out and hope it gets loved to shreds in the coming years!

I’m linked up here for Finish it Friday with Crazy Mom Quits.

Thunderstorms, snuggles and long nights

After a long day at the Lake (my excuse for not posting for Mighty Mommy Monday), I bathed the kids and sent them to bed. I wanted to rest and collect my scattered brains. But by 10 pm, it was evident that Liam wasn’t going to bed. The lightening was shocking and the sound of the rain and thunder was LOUD.

So as we crawled into my bed, I was reminded of the day we bought our mattress. The sweet Amish man who made the mattresses called it a “thunderstorm bed”… that sold us! I laugh about those thunderstorms even though they make for hard nights for me, thunderstorms mean cosleeping. And that means I get my wish!

When Liam was little, I wanted so desperately to cosleep. And no matter how I arranged things, he just wouldn’t  settle down. Once in his own bed, he’d sleep. Sigh. When Sylvi was born, we popped her in bed with us as well, but it didn’t last as long as I’d hoped. She also loved her space, but would snuggle up on rough nights and early mornings. She still does, actually. She comes in every morning to snuggle and sometimes will fall back asleep curled up against me.


So last night, Liam and I went to bed and he tossed and turned for a while, but eventually settled down. An hour after, Sylvi woke up scared of the storm and another little person joined our bed. Thanks to our weather system, I spent most of the night with little people clinging to me and waking every so often to check and make sure we were are all ok.

Little by little as we all got out of bed this morning and I stretched the kinks out of my back, I was reminded of how quickly they are growing. Liam will be 5 in a little bit and I noticed the other day that he’s pronouncing his “L” sound correctly these days. As hard as our stormy nights are, the day is coming when he won’t need me to soothe his fears. There are moments, like before the coffee is done, when I look forward to a decent night of sleep. But then, someone goes and pronounces a word correctly after months of a cute little lisp and the reality of how short this time sinks in.

Want some ice cream with that humble pie?

Last month, as a result of my poor planning and a sour attitude, I had to eat a heaping helping of humble pie. I even called and apologized to someone not involved in the situation because I felt so convicted about the state of my heart on the matter. Without being too revealing, I over-booked myself and was asked to serve someone who was in need. Even with being over-booked, I don’t normally have an issue with this. But the person in question had offended my sense of justice at our last encounter.

After the incident, I sat back to question how often I gripe when asked to serve. Do I sign up and hope to never be called upon… only wanting my name to sit on the list of volunteers and look pretty? When asked, do I only serve if I like the people around me? And do I make note of how awesome MY actions were when later asked how things went?

Now look, there isn’t anything wrong with needing a thank you from time to time, but to do something and then run around lauding your work isn’t cool. I love this quote from Jodi Detrick in her book:

“Unlike Jesus, who was willing to wait for His good deeds to be exposed at the right time, I want others to know what I did now – I’m so quick to trade the approval of God for the praise of people.”

I read this right after my own incident and I felt really, really convicted. I’ve been trying to get away from this mindset that I need to be praised and cheered for each little thing I do in volunteer organizations. Because, um… if you’re volunteering, it should be with a pure heart. And foolishly, up until a few weeks ago, I thought I was doing pretty well! While complaining about all the work I put into a newsletter I write, only to have “no one” read it, a friend pointed out to me that I took the position to be a member of the ministry team. Not to get published. Ouch. She was totally right. And I was embarrassed that that was how she thought I was viewing it.

I sat back and thought over my commitments and really took stock in my motivation for doing things. And I’m glad. Every now and then you do need to reassess and I realized that I had let myself take a little too much of my self worth from all the things I was involved in. That’s not where it comes from. I feel like every time I reassess, I find something about myself that is in need of work. But then, that’s the whole point of taking the time to do this. Now, when I catch myself getting disgruntled about volunteer work or service, I know it’s time to check myself. Which, because I’m getting smarter about it, the internal ick isn’t where it used to be. Hey! Progress! And progress is the ice cream that goes along with my humble pie. I like ice cream.

“… but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 11:2b

Mighty Mommy Monday – Up with the Sun

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


I’ve been really disciplined about getting to bed at 1030 every night. I read for half an hour and then, I’m off to sleep. I haven’t been sleeping well at night, but the consistency is paying off because I’ve been able to get up early almost every morning and exercise. I clocked in over 6 miles of running (whoo!), checked cross training off my list and finally got myself back in the pool!

For some reason, I’m getting Runner’s World every month (must have gotten it with a race registration?) and I’ve gotten some good tips about running in the summer… I think I’m doing alright with the hydration, I certainly sweat enough! I could really use some work on my stretching and recovery, but at least I’m thinking about it, right?

Now. Does anyone have any tips for post-run snacks? I bought a protein powder sample to try, but I need to come up with something filling soon. One can only eat so many apples with almond butter, you know? So any ideas to fill my belly?


Waffles for Dad

Liam has been asking for a desk for a while now. He always tells me he has some work to do and therefore, he needs a desk in his room. We’d talked about building him one, but while the kids and I were at Target yesterday, I found a desk that would fit the need, but also not be a horrible loss if he colored on it or it was scratched or dented or… basically, if it were treated the way rough and tumble little boys tend to.

Last night, after supper, Matt and the kids started to put together the desk. And because he had 4 extra little hands constantly reaching into his work area, asking questions or walking off with tools, it took a very, very long time. Long time + excited little boy means that Liam didn’t settle down to sleep until almost 11. Whew. But he’s so happy with his own workspace – this little boy is definitely taking after his Daddy’s artistic talent. He colors and draws and makes charts (he takes after me with that) so much any more that when I can’t find him, it’s pretty much a sure thing that he’ll be in his room on the floor with his paper and markers.


So Daddy is happy he has a mini-me with art and Liam is happy because he’s got a cool chair to go with his desk and I’m happy because I just made breakfast. The boys are still sleeping, but Sylvi and I are up. The boys draw together, the girls get up early together. Hmmm. Seems I need a new together activity for her and I… Anyway, the waffles. This is an adaptation of my basic recipe from my mother. There may seem like a ridiculous amount of leavening agents, but trust me. Sylvi’s favorite toppings include: syrup, whipped cream, strawberries, bluberries and mini chocolate chips. The rest of us are content with syrup. If nothing else, the girl knows how to live!


Gluten Free Waffles

  • 1 3/4 cup gluten free flour mix (I’ve been trying different brands, and so far, I like the Jules brand best. As far as I can tell you can only order it online, but they are always running sales, so watch for them!)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 stick butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup milk

Mix together all the dry ingredients. Then, pour in the butter and vanilla and whisk together. Beat the eggs and then add them to the batter. Stream in the milk last and whisk until the batter is thin and pourable. I don’t like my batter very thin because it just runs all over my waffle maker, but if you like it that way, go for it!! My waffle maker has spaces to cook 4 waffles at a time and I get about 20 out of this recipe. We don’t eat the entire batch, so I keep the leftovers in the fridge in an air tight container. They last about a week. Enjoy!

Little Readers

Once again enrolled in our town’s summer reading program, we are starting our 4th year of keeping track of our time spent reading. I started to set the timer on my phone while I read and was shocked at how quickly half an hour passes. I had honestly never really made an effort to keep close tabs on our time, but as of this afternoon, we have logged over 5 hours of time reading aloud this week. It’s fun to watch the list of books grow and the hours logged pass. Today was our second visit for this session and already I’m seeing huge changes in the experience from last year.

First of all, it hasn’t been so chaotic. In the car, we have a pep talk about not talking too loudly or running. We go to one of the smallest branches in our area, so if a kid says something in the children’s department too loudly, you can hear it on the other side of the building in reference. So, we talk and talk every. single. time. we. go. Liam is at the point where he rolls his eyes and says “I know, Mama.”


Second, I’m working my way through all the sections of the picture books. I’m discovering new authors and we looking beyond our core interests: racecars, sharks and princesses. Today, I grabbed books mostly from the “C” and “D” sections of authors. But this one about President Taft made me laugh so hard I almost cried. The kids just thought it was funny he was naked. I can’t wait to see the other side of the book shelves now!

Third, Liam is obsessed with coloring. This morning as he colored his first reading log, I noticed that instead of  scribbling over the picture, like he has for the last 3 years, he took the time to color the details of the pictures. He used multiple colors and stayed in the lines. It was a fun development in our usual process!


As we drove home, the conversation turned to how Liam is learning to read. I realized that the days of us curling up together to read from our library haul will eventually end. We are reading chapter books together as a family and I’m loving how much comprehension I see the kids possessing. Liam’s interest in learning to read has sparked a desire in Sylvi to learn all those letters and their sounds. It was exciting to realize that this summer is the beginning of a new adventure for us… who knows… maybe by next year, I’ll have a little reader on my couch!

Puppy Love for our Family

Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.

Before we got engaged, before we bought our home, and before we were even married, Matt and I were scoping out pet options. Originally we had talked about a basset hound. Ree is always posting these drool-worthy (pun intended, ahem) photos of her beautiful babies and I just think they are so precious! But Matt was put off by the potential stink, the howling and the drool. So we continued our search. I wanted a dachshund as my second choice so we looked at a few rescues and breeders, but weren’t quite ready to commit when we found sweet little Nunzio huddled in a cage at the dog pound. She just had to come home with me.


During our wait period imposed by the pound’s policies, we discovered Vito’s ad in the newspaper and within 48 hours we had two little puppies in our homes. This was a month after we married and a few weeks before we left for Arkansas to watch my brother graduate from college. A week after we returned my mother died. During the short weeks that we had these dogs, people were constantly telling us that we had shot ourselves in the foot by taking these dogs which would dramatically impead our freedom. The morning Mom passed, I had to send Matt home from the hospital so he could let our squirmy little puppies out to potty, for goodness sake!


But what people didn’t see was how those dogs cuddled themselves right into the very fabric of our family. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I don’t know that I would have survived some of those days without them. While grieving my mother, I would lay on the ground while the dogs stayed to offer comfort. When I was depressed after our first two miscarriages, they snuggled up to remind me I would always have them. When I dealt with HG while pregnant with Liam, Vito would lay in the bathroom with me in between vomiting and whimper his concern. When Liam was born, Vito never left my side (much to the midwife’s chagrin). And when my water broke with Sylvi, Vito, who was sleeping out in the living room, woke up at that same instant and ran back to my bedroom to be with me. All those night feedings and ill babies, Nunzio stayed by my side offering her wise eyes up as comfort when I cried from fatigue and frustration. And when our children started to feed themselves, both dogs were even more attached to our children!


At this point, we’ve had pets in this house, including a brief dalliance with hamsters (which Matt hated), for eight years. After Nunzio’s passing last September, I honestly pondered if we should get another pet to keep Vito company. But he’s getting old, so the odds of the new pet being lonely and us starting the cycle all over again are high. As a matter of fact, I’ve noticed more and more that after his initial greeting when people come over, he flops down for a nap and cannot be bothered to join in… even when food is presented!


Our children have been welcomed into our home by our pets, they’ve held onto Vito’s sturdy back as they learned to stand and curled up with them to watch movies. Through our dogs, our children have learned how to be gentle, how to be kind and how to be aware of another’s feelings. Liam cared for and protected our dogs long before he had a little sister to do that for. And Sylvi practically smothers them with her love and snuggles.


People often ask me what we will do when Vito’s time on Earth comes to an end. Honestly, the answer is mostly likely going to be “find a couple of pugs to fill our home”. As snorty and loud and spoiled as this dog is, he is perfect for our family. I’ll never be able to go for a run with a pug, but the pug is perfect for our family. And perfect for our children. We love our pets, and I love watching my children learn responsibility, awareness (hello! poop in the yard!) and kindness by having them here. And besides, if we didn’t have a pug, what else would I call this blog? 😉

Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
  • Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
  • All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
  • Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
  • Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
  • Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
  • Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
  • Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
  • Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
  • HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
  • It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
  • Canine Haikus —Kids, dog, haikus, at

    Dionna (Code Name: Mama).

    Pet-centric poems.

  • Beanie’s BunniesOur Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
  • Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
  • How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
  • No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
  • Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
  • 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn’t prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.

Mighty Mommy Monday

It’s Mighty Mommy Monday! Abbie of Farmer’s Daughter and I have decided to challenge you on a weekly basis.  Claim the Mighty Mommy title for yourself — every day, not just Mondays. Every week, we’ll host a link up for you to tell us what you’re doing to take care of your health: workouts, menu plans, how to keep your family active, etc. I’ve set a few goals for 2014, but my biggest is to swim a total of 30 freestyle miles this year AND run a half marathon in October! Join us!


This week, all I can think about is food. As I mentioned last week, I’m on a loaded salad kick. Tomorrow, I’m going to my first Farmer’s Market this season… can’t wait to get my hands on some fresh kale! I didn’t plant a garden and at this point, am not planning to do anything, but man I miss my kale! Grocery store stuffs just don’t cut it.

Today’s salad was a turkey club/cobb salad mix. It was excellent. For supper, I’ll be having this salad again. Fourth time in a week. I used roasted red pepper hummus, kale, blueberries, feta and chia seeds in addition to the chicken, cucumbers and tomatoes and cucumbers from the original recipe.

There was some corn at the grocery, so I‘m thinking I’ll make this as well. Short ribs are the plans for tomorrow night, so I’ll add the leftovers into what I send to work with Matt.

I bought sweet potatoes to attempt grilling. This recipe gave me the idea and then made think of a way to convert this into something to add to salad greens and chicken.

I used up the last of my homemade dressing, so I’m thinking I’ll work more on my southwest chipotle dressing. I’m hoping to get the {proverbial} wrinkles worked out. Until then, I want to try this one!

And because I cannot stop, I’m dying to try this salad for Father’s Day. The goal is to send Daddy and his boy off for a little golf date in the afternoon. Sneaking a little exercise in with all the fun! 🙂

This is the week of the salads, the week to attempt another mile or two in the pool and hopefully log plenty more miles on my tennis shoes. What are your healthy plans?

Retrospect Respect

A few weeks ago at my youngest brother’s soccer game, my father suddenly put me on the spot and asked if I appreciated him and my mother. Another soccer mom, whom I assume was having issues with what I call a ‘tude from one of her teenaged children leaned in to ask WHEN I realized I appreciated them.

Because my father was listening intently, I chose to be a smart alek with my response: “Of course! But I’d never tell them that while I was living at home… it would give them big heads and you know, we can’t have that!” Laughter from parents, everyone moved on in the conversation and I was left to contemplate how I really felt on the matter.

To be completely honest, I really started to appreciate and cultivate a deep respect for the sacrifices my parents made when I was in high school. Circumstances with Mom’s health and the later adoption of the aforementioned soccer-playing brother coupled with the fact that I was desiring the days when I could be a mother really opened my eyes to all they did. This, of course, does not mean that my relationship with my parents was Duggar perfect. Nope. While I appreciated my parents, we still butted heads because we were humans with different opinions.

But the point is that during this time, I saw what parents do for their small children not only by watching my parents care for that sweet little baby, but through my own involvement with him. My mother’s health was at a high point during the time of the adoption, but in the years shortly after things really suffered. I spent a lot of time and energy caring for my brother like a parent would because of the situation I wouldn’t have otherwise been exposed to since my next youngest brother is only 2 and a half years apart from me.

All the time I spent with him, going through the functions of a parent, I bonded with the little guy. I knew what it was like to love a child so much it hurt long before we even thought about starting our own family. I knew what it was like to try to communicate with a child who didn’t understand. I knew exactly how challenging two and three year olds (and let’s face it, 4 year olds, 5 year olds… all the ages!) are. I understood the depth of emotions and how we do anything to help our children.

As I’ve grown as an individual and as a parent, my appreciation for my parents have definitely deepened. I know now what a sacrifice it is to push through a chronic illness. I understand how difficult it to parent children when your husband’s schedule isn’t a normal 9-5. I get why she often snapped at me when I asked questions when she was tired or in pain. I understand my father’s stress over providing for the family on an average income. But I understand this only as I have experienced… not exactly how my parents felt in their own situations.

There are facets of parenting that I knew would be hard going into them and there still things I have yet to discover. If I could answer my dad’s question all over again I’d say something different. I’d say that I appreciated them as a teenager, but I didn’t get it. I’d say that I thought I understood their sacrifices and appreciated their willingness to do so, but until I stood in their shoes I couldn’t really comprehend it. And then, I’d look at that mother and tell her that appreciation doesn’t look the same for every child; and not every child will feel the need to verbalize their feelings or even act like they are appreciative, but it’s there. 

Breaking my mother’s salad rules

We are in the time of year when the majority of meals are served outside. They are quick and made so that the kids can return to their play without much fuss. But I’m discovering that as much as I love a good pb&j (on gluten free waffles of course!), I cannot eat like the kids every day of the week. I miss my veggies. So most days I eat a salad that I prep while the kids are eating and then eat while they play. This works because, let’s face it, it takes a lot longer to chew a salad than it does a sandwich.

When I first started looking into a gluten free or paleo diet, I was so overwhelmed by the loss of croutons, premade salad dressing (most of the ones *I* like are not GF) and how hungry I was. I’ve never been a big meat eater and so looking at diet protocols that are protein heavy sort of scared me. As I’d read through the paleo cookbooks, I noticed a lot of bacon (score!) and sausage (ewwww!). I decided that if my diet was going to have to shift focus, then I was going to have to try new things and see if I could find something I liked. I  tried sauteed (fried is probably more accurate, though) sausage at a MOPS brunch and decided that if I could eat that, then I’d better get to finding something to have on hand! I found this amazing chicken sausage at our Kroger and it’s in my cart almost every trip now. I just brown it in a saute pan and then slice it up before finishing cooking it.

I was just cooking up a whole package and then reheating some with steamed veggies and roasted potatoes, which was a very tasty option to be sure, but the more I ate it that way the more I wondered what else I could do with it! So here we go. Sausage and salad. And fruit. Growing up, my mother away said that fruit and vegetables are not to be mixed. And you certainly NEVER put animal protein on a salad! Whoops. Sorry mom, not only did I mix them, I think they taste even better like that!


Sausage and Blueberry Salad with Fresh Vinaigrette

For each salad:

  • 2 cups salad greens
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 cup sliced cucumbers
  • 2 Tbsp. Feta cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • 1 sausage link, sliced

Toss all the ingredients together and pour salad dressing over.


Fresh Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. ketchup (I used homemade)
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • handful of chives, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. mustard powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic granules
  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • cracked black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together well. Pour over Sausage and Blueberry salad. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

P.S. Most amazing bite? Stack in this order: Cucumber, Sausage, blueberry, feta. I promise. You. Will. EXPLODE!!!!!