November 14, 2015

my heart is swelling with gratitude as i sit down to write on this saturday afternoon. our neighbors, aka the professional neighbors, just stopped by. they are moving in a few weeks (he is in the military, getting transferred) and they stopped by to give us an early holiday gift – gift card to a local grocery store and a homemade ornament.

i really just can’t even put in words the way my jaw is dropping at their incredible kindness.

(and how GOD blesses us in so many ways large and small!)

this couple is in their mid-30s, no kids, and the complete embodiment of neighborly. almost every night (unless it’s snowing), they can be found on their front patio, drink in hand. they eagerly engage anyone that walks by and always welcome a visitor. they’ve stopped by many a time and i get (sometimes slowly and begrudgingly unfortunately) drawn in to a conversation and shift gears to just visiting.

we joke that they are “professional neighbors” because they always bring a gift or token of holiday cheer, before i’ve even given thought to perhaps baking a loaf of something sweet to share. and we laughed last year as i finally, proudly, prepared a tray of treats to bring them over the holidays and literally right before i did it, the hubby showed up with this *ginormous* platter of goodness. lol. they just can’t be beat.

they love to party hard and have profused thankfulness that we’ve “put up” with their noise, which makes me laugh because THEY have put up with all kids of noise emanating from the walls of this home … surely more than the occasional loud music during a weekend gathering that may come from their home.

it’s all good.

and i am feeling challenged today as i think about that picture of hospitality and welcome that they embody and that i often lose in the hustle of keeping up with my daily grind. they remind me to stop and welcome the conversation. to linger on the front porch and really get to know our neighbors.

i am really going to miss them.

(i keep procrastinating on writing this – i know i *need to and will be so glad to have this written record, but it feels so daunting. today, as the boys rest, i am determined to capture what i can … before another month passes)

our precious “baby caleb” turned 3 september 24 – how is that even possible?? he was so excited for his “birthday party” which literally included our  immediatefamily and my mom who stopped by after work … singing to him, blowing out candles on his cake and opening a few gifts. he was THRILLED! (oh the relief of letting go of insane pressure for some effortful party).  he was just HAPPY. he was glad to tell anyone that it was his birthday and he was 3 years old!

he wanted a PINK cake with a number 3 candle :0

he wanted a PINK cake with a number 3 candle :0

opening lego duplos from my mom :)

opening lego duplos from my mom :)

he had to put this on immediately ;)

he had to put this on immediately ;)

great grandma stopped by late afternoon and brought some classic dr. seuss books for caleb ... i love her expression as she watches hubby read one of the books

great grandma stopped by late afternoon and brought some classic dr. seuss books for caleb … i love her expression as she watches hubby read one of the books

caleb adores drawing and writing and many times a day will sit with a pen and paper and draw … people, shapes, or “letters”. (josiah has never initiated drawing or writing like this and when we do a painting project, josiah races to see who can fill up their entire page first … while caleb slowly paints something specific). caleb has great precision and fine motor skills … detailed, small, precise. he loves worksheet projects that involve circling matching objects, tracing, counting.


OH, counting how we love you! these boys are nonstop counters. everything is counted. so wonderful. ( i love that all of life is really truly learning! joyfully, fully, my heart soars as days are spent really learning with these incredible curious little loves).


our josiah is 4 1/2 exactly, and is an amazing reader! amazing. he’s been reading familiar books and showing some basic understanding for many months but we are now working steadily through a phonics book and he is impatient, pressing to speed ahead, eager to read the bigger longer words and stories. he now sounds out and can read new books that have unfamiliar words and story lines. he sounds out signs on the road as we drive; he often asks to help me read stories and follows the words or asks where a particular word is. he can completely read a basic story with uncomplicated sounds – like a champ! he LOVES it.

caleb loves to follow in big brother’s steps and is always imitating and especially with reading, caleb always wants to do just as josiah does. so, we take the extra time *wink* and remind josiah how to help and lead even as he protests caleb copying. however, if caleb misses a word or doesn’t point out the right word as he reads, josiah cannot tolerate it – must be done correctly. so, we correct. and caleb wants to do it right and will ask, ‘was that right, mama?’

the boys are very competitive but josiah *must be first: up the stairs (every trip), to open the front door (every return home), to count the cars/trees/numbers etc; to finish or start something; to get dressed or undressed, to be served his food. etc. :)

in the past couple weeks, they’ve started praying spontaneously and my heart is so blessed. the other night, josiah asked if he could “pray to GOD” and led our family in a prayer of such precious thanks.  his cadence and words are so precious literally like a little pastor, “oh dear LORD! we thank you,” he will say mid-prayer. we talk a lot about prayer as they are so interested – in the miracle that *GOD hears us* (!), that He loves us, that we get to thank Him for the blessings showering us in this life. the other night after he prayed, josiah asked hubby to pray … just precious, pure faith.

a huge milestone and joyful relief has been their transition to “bible study preschool.” finally the timing is right for me to join a morning  mama’s study and this one offers a preschool-like morning program for the boys – it’s incredible. it’s not babysitting but is a structured program with projects and pledge of allegiance and snack and craft and lesson etc etc. the first couple of weeks were *rough. that’s really an understatement: both boys sobbed hysterically when i finally left them the first week and i crouched on the floor of the ladies’ room down the long hall, sweating and anxious, unsure if i could really leave them. the staff were amazing and assured me that if needed, they’d find me. and they didn’t. the boys survived. week 2 was hard – almost as hard … but subsequent weeks have just gotten completely better. josiah is now SUPER EXCITED and counts down the days til thursday (both boys finally memorized days of the week in order this week!) and extols how much he LOVES bible study preschool! caleb is getting on board and is slower to jump in to it but no longer gets tearful and is clearly motivated by following brave big brother’s example. HOORAY x a thousand!

they loved this lining up, holding the rope, going outside process :)

they loved this lining up, holding the rope, going outside process :)

life is now pretty much all about super heroes and legos! they are obsessed and drawn to all the super heroes and the highest motivating statement is to tell them they will be my superhero if they achieve XYZ task. their favorite clothing picks are always the superman, spiderman, batman shirts & shoes.

they have knock down, drag out fights about *imagined and non real* scenarios. minutes before writing these words, we were driving and the boys began to escalate. when i asked what was happening, josiah told me that caleb “took my super power and he won’t give it back!” yelling and gnashing of teeth. caleb then says he will give the super power back “if josiah will say sorry for saying mean words.” and on and on.

and on. lol.

and, legos. wow. it’s like we’ve entered an entire world that was totally foreign to me. they have a big container of lego duplos and literally play with that more than any other thing every day and have for weeks (months?). they delight in building the biggest coolest creation. the challenge is always the process of having to dissassemble somebody’s cool creation in order to build something else *wink*. josiah has some lego juniors and those have started to be almost more interesting to both boys, so i can see expanding that collection soon.


when we drive, the boys always ‘claim’ passing vehicles – well, trucks, that is. always trucks and construction vehicles. it became so intense that we created a rule that whoever’s side the vehicle is on, gets that one … and often, they will agree to allow their brother to ride with them. (josiah will quickly and automatically always say the very exact same words: ‘i want that dump truck and drive it only’ in a low voice after loudly claiming said truck :) )

they’ve had their big boy beds for a few months and are firmly established with them, except that they both still wake during the night and get in our bed. (!). naptimes are getting trickier only because of 2 things: 1 – i *NEED* that pocket of silence and no little people in my space for a tiny bit of time each day and 2 – josiah no longer naps. lol. so, for now … we go upstairs around 1 pm (lunch then 1 cartoon then “cuddle rest”) read 1 book, then i rock cuddle caleb while josiah lays on his bed. we have some books on tape that are LIFESAVERS! (called, “tell me a story” they are these brilliantly told classics …  challenging words and the storyteller is masterful). they are one hour long so josiah’s job is always to push play on the story, lay in his bed …then once i’ve laid a sleeping caleb in his bed, the rule is: josiah must remain quietly in his bed until the stories end. then he may have the holy grail: coming downstairs, lol. here’s the funny thing: we repeat this rule and process every nap time as i leave their room and yet and still, when the stories end he always calls out loudly, “the story is over!!’ and WAITS until i come to base of the stairs and say, “you can come down now!” to come down. my boy. rules rules rules. :)

they love riding bikes and we are so blessed with our large covered front “porch area” that allows me to sit at our little outdoor table and watch them ride in circles. caleb is still on a trike and yet prefers riding josiah’s big boy bike so it’s about time to get caleb a bike, too.

caleb loves all things balls … throwing still all the balls … running super fast … drawing …

josiah loves him some “samsung” time and has amassed a large and ever-changing assortment of games – preferring racing cars and trucks, tanks that shoot fire rockets (he still doesn’t know the word ‘gun’ and says ‘fire sprooter’), lego games and anything that has a blasting rocket. he also loves watching donald duck cartoons on the samsung. he could and does at times get lost in this device and it has been helpful to ease a moment of intense itching or distress, for instance. caleb is not that interested and loses interest much more quickly in any hand held device.


both boys loves cartoons (jake and the neverland pirates is current fave; also, wallykazam, paw patrol, olivia, blaze and the monster machines). if cartoons are on, both boys (especially josiah) is glued to watching (which can be fabulous, let’s be honest). josiah actually can’t tolerate *not watching if it’s on and has asked that cartoons be turned *off if he wants to do something else. we usually watch a show first thing in the morning, after lunch and maybe later as needed :)

we have continued our daily jobs and i am so thankful for this rhythm that the boys know to be a part of every day (clean room, get dressed, brush teeth, clean bathroom, take cod liver oil).

on monday, we often go to library story time … thursday is bible study preschool … friday has become science project day … and every day is learning! i am so thankful for a cabinet full of incredible resources, books, projects, and learning tools. most days, we spend a chunk of time at the table diving in to something mid-morning. we often do an outing a couple days a week (kidtime, errands, a park, time with friends). i am finding that happy place between a very tight schedule and none at all. i’ve swung in both directions and am learning grace for the needed flexibility (ie, josiah’s morning wake time varies so having  a set breakfast time with expectations around that was not working or needed). i am also truly embracing being HOME so much more … truly diving in to the tasks i am blessed with as a manager of this home, finding ways to deep clean in a blitz, including boys on much, keeping rhythms that keep order (ie, always tidying up before we leave the house – so much better to come home to order!). none of these things are necessarily natural for me as i tend toward spontaneity, flexibility, the next wonderful thing (wink) but i am experiencing the gratitude of self discipline as pursue goals of consistency of train my kids toward that as well. oh, how parenting refines!

library story time craft

library story time craft

“mama, i wish i could go on an airplane!” (caleb). josiah’s response, “me too! i want to fly to the york and see taylor. she’s my favorite girl.” (that is, new york! and taylor swift. lol)

they are really totally actually playing together … at times, for pockets of even 10 minutes without screaming and fighting. their most common activity these days is playing mama and baby – caleb is always the mama and josiah is the baby. and the way that caleb mothers him is SO stinking precious! i will overhear him saying, in this precious little voice, “it’s ok, baby! mama’s right here. i love you so much, baby.” and josiah plays the baby part brilliantly.

i would be remiss to not mention that most every day (some days, a few times) the boys jubilantly strip to completely naked and run through the house, squealing with exhilaration. we are re-learning and reinforcing the rules about our private parts and contact and all that and also, let’s be honest … i’m new to this boy thing and they are pretty much obsessed with their boy parts. some days it wanes but it’s always fascinating. oy.

every child is a gift and so precious and unique; that being said, and i can say this  and those that know josiah will know just what i mean: there is something special about this boy. there is a sensitivity, an intensity, at times a rigidity about his nature that is unlike many children.

he has my heart - he IS my heart

he has my heart – he IS my heart

i love the way that GOD knit our little family together, giving josiah a brother who will multiple countless times each day, give him the chance to grow his capacity to manage frustration and tolerate interruption and upending and derailment and often, violence. so many opportunities to grow! *wink* and in the meantime, so many opportunities for screaming in our home. our josiah struggles with loud screaming as an immediate reaction to frustration.

this dispositional picture is just the very opposite for caleb, who is a more “typical child” (although i cringe at that generalization) – he manages frustration (albeit with swift strokes of violence at times, lol), can pretty  much go with the flow, adapt to changing environs, eat and carry on with relative little angst.

there is, however, a tenderness shared and evidence in both boys that is breath-taking. a desire to reach out with spontaneous gestures of precious love and affection; a noticing of when mama may be losing her cool (yup, it happens and it is particularly distressing to josiah who will notice even a slight inflection in my voice and immediately hug me and say, “i love you so much, mama” or, “please don’t use mean words mama”. heart breaker).

speaking of tenderness, caleb and i have a little tradition: after every bath (he loves baths; for josiah, they are more challenging with his skin so less frequent) i wrap him the very same way in a towel, hold him in my arms like a little baby, and he stares up in my eyes …  we share this love-fest that we both remember and our eyes smile and he beams as i eat him up with kisses and love.

i carry this deep sense of wonder and gratitude at the GIFT of spending my days with these boys … so many mundane moments making up our days that are quickly becoming months and years.

there is no place i’d rather be.




they *always chase hubby on this lawn at the bank (they love going to the bank, ha!)

they *always chase hubby on this lawn at the bank (they love going to the bank, ha!)

it was time to really finally cut some of caleb's amazing growing curls. SO bittersweet.

it was time to really finally cut some of caleb’s amazing growing curls. SO bittersweet.


haircut after

caught this spontaneous kiss :)

caught this spontaneous kiss :)

that smile!

that smile!

my little gladiator ... this smile and expression is SO him!

my little gladiator … this smile and expression is SO him!

oh, glory! our doctor has given the ok to re-introduce rice in josiah’s diet and there are no words to capture the relief at being able to begin cooking with this staple again. it’s been 10 weeks of no rice, gluten, grain, corn … *etc. we’ve missed rice. after many weeks of meat and more meat, some veggies and fruit … josiah was *begging for waffles a couple weeks ago. given the incredible diet limitations, i discovered cassava flour and it was truly a gift. who knew a flour was made from yuca root (similar to a potato)? he’s been a happy kid with waffles, even though they haven’t tasted very close to original … gf is so often gummy no matter what i try.

anyhoo! enter: rice. and now, rice flour. i have a bag of white rice flour in the cupboard so i decided to see what i could make for my waffle-begging boy this morning. i was inspired by this recipe and with some tweaks, ended up with this,


they were SO good! with a little drizzle of maple syrup on top, they were devoured. i love that the recipe is easy and quick. i made them in our new little waffle maker and they were crispy, had good flavor and were not gummy. hoooray!

GF rice flour & chia seed waffles

1 1/3 cup white rice flour

2/3 cup tapioca starch

3 tsp baking powder

dash of salt and cinnamom

(mix these in large bowl)

1/2 cup organic palm oil shortening (i use spectrum brand)

1 3/4 cup vanilla hemp milk

2 tsp of chia seed dissolved in 1/4 c water and allowed to congeal

1 tsp vanilla

(i melt the palm oil in a large glass measuring cup in the micro and then add the remaining ingredients to this measuring cup)

mix the wet & dry ingredients, and pour in to hot waffle iron. cook for 4 minutes and enjoy!

we are blowing through our food budget at an alarming rate as we are purchasing and preparing organic protein (meat), veggies and some fruits for every meal. that adds up *quickly especially when not having the usual other staples like rice, rice pasta, etc.

last week i was determined to figure out a way to use quinoa to add substance to our meals, in a way that was palatable for the boys especially (i was unsuccessful in trying to incorporate it as a rice “substitute” – josiah totally rejects the texture).

i created this turkey quinoa meatloaf and am so grateful because it’s quickly become a favorite … filling up bellies (josiah’s especially) with nourishing delicious food, which makes me a happy mama.

turkey quinoa meatloaf:

in a large bowl, combine:

equal parts cooked quinoa (i cooked in homemade chicken stock) and thawed organic ground turkey. i had one pound of ground turkey)

a generous pour of olive oil (likely a few tablespoons)

generous shakes of real salt (1 – 2 tsp plus)

generous shakes of garlic powder

chopped fresh oregano & basil (1 tsp of each once chopped finely)

1 tsp of balsamic vinegar

beef gelatin (powder form – about 1 tbsp dissolved in to a cup of water and allowed to sit on the counter until it congeals – added about half this mixture to the bowl)

mix thoroughly together and place in meatloaf dish. cook at 400* for 1 hour.

there is no way this can look good in a picture! haa. but i wanted a visual for my own recollection.

there is no way this can look good in a picture! haa. but i wanted a visual for my own recollection.

healing update

September 18, 2015

we met with josiah’s wonderful doctor yesterday. it’s been 5 weeks today since we got the (devastating world-shaking) report on his food reactions.

i left the appointment feeling encouraged! first, she said a few times how great josiah looked – how his appearance  and disposition was so much less “inflamed”, more settled, less reactive and heightened (my words, the gist). we’ve heard that from my family who sees him regularly, too.

it’s beyond obvious that we have removed foods that were unquestionably stressing his system, inflaming his body, triggering reactions and inflamation and ill-health. and to know that he IS being healed, that he IS responding and moving toward healing … well, there’s pretty much nothing better in the world.

that being said, we’ve got a ways to go. itching at night (and the accompanying sleeplessness) remain intense. in fact, the night before our appointment yesterday, he had been awake from 1:30 – 5:30 am .. itching, then hungry, then having his also-awake brother messing with him, then itching some more. the impact of that profound loss of crucial sleep is real and we are desperate for that to improve.

one of the things i absolutely appreciate about our doctor is her complementary approach: not all A or all B but she looks at the benefits and holistic picture. in our case, she believes eczema is an auto-immune disease and that there are times that the use of steroids are prudent in the long term healing picture. i shared with her that in the past, i think the dissonance i had with applying the steroid ointments (and seeing quick awesome short-lived results) had been because it has felt like a bandaid approach – fix the outside while continuing to subject him to that which is *creating the problem. it is so freeing right now to *know that we are actively and unwaveringly feeding him only that which we believe is healing and so the topical application for a very short burst of time will be a complementary action … a both/and. that resonates.

another light bulb moment came as we talked through his current diet. she repeatedly validated that this is intense and difficult AND that it is short term. she noted that his current diet is a “deficient diet” but i understand that we are not, in this short season, attempting to ensure he has this perfect well-rounded diet but instead aiming to *eliminate foods that are hurting him. that is not a forever strategy but one that is clearly moving him toward healing. and like she said, in many stages of parenting, the one you are currently in feels like how it’s always been and will always be and yet – we know that stages change. this one shall too.

we will continue on our current supplement protocol, continue to feed him from our restricted list, and look at some other things (stool sample to asses gut flora, parasites etc; do more to allergy-proof his room, etc).

as we left, she weighed and measured him and our sweet josiah is in the 75th percentile for weight (40.5 lbs) and the 90th percentile for height (44 inches)!  he is such a gift and delight … this amazing boy. my heart could burst!

giving love to papa last week

giving love to papa last week

with cousin hayden last week ;)

with cousin hayden last week ;)

words from grandma today

September 15, 2015

oh, my heart is so full.

i just hung up with the phone with my grandma, braving to return her call even as the boys run amok, hoping for a few quiet moments.

we talked through all that is happening lately; she wants to know how everyone is doing, and we process and sort through recent events like maddie’s return to school, caleb potty training, josiah’s healing, papa’s health, etc.

we talk through how hubby and i are approaching some parenting processes, and she tells me how blessed i am to have a hubby like mike. and then, that he is blessed to have me.

she then says, “you are such a beautiful couple.” repeated a few times, with emphasis. and more … that we are perhaps the most beautiful, wonderful couple that they know; that our marriage is certainly the envy of some, and that GOD has certainly blessed us.

my heart nearly exploded and tears filled my eyes.

how acquainted i am with how imperfect we are; how often i stumble in trying to love well, how often we miss the mark in doing this marriage thing really well.

and yet, grace. and as we like to say, ‘team green!’ commitment for life.

these words of encouragement from my most precious esteemed grandmother could not mean any more.

{and what a great reminder as i head in to this day, to press in to loving and supporting my gift of a hubby even more than ever. thanks, grandma}.

science fun 9-15

“The gift & joy of teaching these precious babes … leading them to explore & uncover & discover = pure joy for this mama!!
Today, does it sink or float??:)
A super fun simple experiment … gather objects from around the house, pour a bowl of water and one at a time, hypothesize if each object will float or sink. Place sinkers on one side of bowl and floaters on another … count each … which side has more?:)”

i put the above photo and caption on facebook the other day … later that day, my hubby shared the photo on his facebook page and added the following comment:

“My boys do not go to school. At ages 2 and 4 they wakeup at school and are immersed in a wonderland environment of exploration, adventure and learning. They sleep, eat and live at school because it is their home, their school, their playground and their base from which they launch into learning about their community, society and universe. Every day is a new adventure in learning. Their mom is their guide, teacher, chef, referee, nurse, companion, authority, oracle and sage. She’s my wife, cheerleader and angel. Someday we will send these boys off to a setting with trusted teachers who will augment their solid foundation of learning. But I don’t see that happening for a while, perhaps a decade.”

his words blessed, encouraged and refreshed me. i am so thankful for the gift of this life: these precious incredible loves that i get to mother and love and raise and the incredible partner that is my husband. thankful.


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