Wednesday, September 9, 2015

My Little Girlie

I came across this picture when looking through some to get printed and it is officially my newest favorite picture of Natasha. This was taken in Strasbourg, France when we were in Europe this past July.  


Friday, August 28, 2015

Two in One Week

I must be on a roll or something with blogging...

This is to document two things that make me happy these days:


My girlie learning to sew (her first doll quilt) and iron. It's such fun to share my love of sewing with her and hopefully teach her a lasting skill for years to come.


Also, new dishcloths. 100% cotton. I'm hoping this will be helpful in eliminating the greasy dishcloth problem that has been on the increase in my kitchen. The only ones I've ever had are a cotton/polyester blend and I think the synthetic fibers are causing issues. My soap suds disappear too quickly, the dishes seem greasy even after being washed, and the dishcloth itself even feels greasy directly after coming from the washing machine. Has anyone else ever had this problem? So. New dishcloths make me very happy. Plus they're a fun yellow theme.


I had to pose them beside fresh tomatoes from my garden because it looks summerish.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Quick Summer Recap

One of my newest favorite pictures of the three of us was taken on our last big adventure this past July in Europe. Specifically when we spent the day touring Luxemburg. It was a fun city to explore.


When we came home, summer was in full swing and I decided to welcome it.


Aside from a couple full weeks of sewing before our trip back in June, I haven't sewn much at all this summer. The last item that was under the Kenmore's presser foot was this little bunting and stuffed fabric ball. It was made for some friend's sweet little girl's 1st birthday gift. Now I want a miniature bunting myself...


Here is a little corner of our living room which I love to look at. The other day the breeze was coming in the windows making the curtains billow and blow and I had to capture an August afternoon in our house.


And for a bit of 5-year old fun, here's a recent activity of Natasha's. Yesterday we started out to make flower designs on clear contact paper to tack up in the windows, but the contact paper I had on hand was probably older than me and turned out not to be sticky at. all. Therefore we altered the finished product a little and made bookmarks for her little friends using packing tape. It worked fine.


Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Milkmaid Goes Dairy-Free (and Eliminates Mood Swings)

Some of you know that I have hinted about eating dairy-free for a while now. I still can hardly believe that this is me's so contrary to everything I knew, since I grew up on a second generation dairy-farm and milked Jersey cows by hand for most of my teenage years.

 Mary, Ellie, Ginger and Erma on my parent's farm about 8 years ago. 

 My husband and I basically met over a glass of raw milk and we were proud to drink it by the gallons each week. I made our own cottage cheeseyogurt, cream cheese, mozzarella cheese and everything.

Homemade mozzarella cheese, circa 2011

Going grain-free 5 years ago was a huge change on it's own, but I was ever so relieved I didn't have to give up dairy. It wasn't causing any issues for Daniel or me (we tried the Whole30 for a month to find out) and we figured the benefits of raw milk were greater than eliminating it at that time and were fine with not giving it up.

But now, things are incredibly different.

A year ago in November, at the suggestion of my naturopathic doctor, I did a 30-day dairy-free trial to see if it might be part of the problem with some hormone related issues that had come up. So for a month, I took out all dairy in my diet except butter. From Daniel's reading he figured that butter would be the least of the problematic dairy-products, so we didn't eliminate it. Dairy allergies/sensitivities are usually related to either the proteins or the lactose and butter is very low in both. Ghee is the next step better and contains only the butter fat.

Along with ditching the dairy, I started some progesterone and other supplements and I was pleasantly surprised to see an immediate improvement. Plus a bonus that I hadn't really been focusing on too much: my mood.

Daniel noticed big time, and was hesitantly optimistic, but it was real. My emotions were increasingly stable and I wasn't nearly as grouchy towards him or Natasha.

Come the end of those 30 days I was thrilled to bring in milk and cream again for Christmas. However, as soon as I did, my happiness decreased and I got...grumpy. That's how I describe it, but it's more than just being grumpy. In my mind I can feel this slow but sure, sense of sadness and and anger building up. It just creeps in and suddenly everything in my world is not rosy. Any problem that would arise would make me angry and snap at anyone in my house. The person that I become doesn't even feel like me.

A good way to describe it is something like this: Eeyore.
With a bit of Oscar the Grouch mixed in.

When I returned to my doctor at the end of my little experiment, I knew what she would say and sure enough, it was pretty apparent that I have a dairy-sensitivity after comparing journal notes from the dairy free month followed by the re-introduction month. She suggested introducing one dairy product into my diet at a time to see if it was one specific item causing an issue, and wondered if goat's milk might be fine since some people can handle goat products over cow's. I was hopeful that perhaps I could just limit my dairy intake to once a week or so with no negative effects.

So I started at the bottom of the list for things that might cause problems, and tried some kefir (99.9% lactose free), hoping to work my way up and eventually figure out which one was making me so grouchy. But I never got past kefir to the items next on the list like yogurt or hard cheeses. Even the kefir made me slightly depressed and sad. It wasn't nearly to the degree of milk or sour cream, but I could tell there was something bothering me just under the surface.

We came to the conclusion it must be one of the dairy proteins that is causing a problem rather than the lactose. Obviously it wasn't the fat because I never eliminated butter and unless I eat a big dose it doesn't bother me. Apparently even the small amount of dairy proteins (casein and whey proteins) that remain in butter are too much if I eat a large amount of butter.

It has been a year now of being dairy-free, and after I got over the first few days of denial and anger about having to give up traditional cheesecake, my very own recipe of lasagna, and sour cream on burritos, I persevered with cooking dairy-free. Within the past year I have had the occasional muffin with some milk or buttermilk in it or the smallest bite of cheese or truly only a swallow of milk. Those minute amounts usually don't cause a problem, but they have to be exactly that: very. small. amounts. Just this past fall I discovered even goat's yogurt in banana muffins caused me to get grumpy so it really can be surprising what impact small amounts have. I have tried cheddar goat's cheese twice, and each time I can tell that something in my mind gets ever so slightly depressed and downhearted. Nothing near to the level of typical cow's milk, but there's something that switches to "crabby/sadness" mode when I eat those products.

Therefore, for the happiness of my household and to maintain a cheerful disposition with my husband (very important!), I try to stay away from dairy at all costs. We have found decent substitutions for my favorite dessert: cheesecake, we drink almond milk and occasionally we buy coconut milk ice cream or coconut milk yogurt. I say we, because even though Daniel and Natasha are fine with dairy products of all kinds, Daniel feels slightly better without dairy, and it's just easier to keep it out of the house for all of us.

It's a good thing my husband still likes to research and experiment though, because I have tried the very authentic Italian Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese that is aged at least 2 years (Costco seems to have the best price). And guess what? It's a cheese I can tolerate! It has been a lovely little addition to mealtimes and I'm super pleased about it.

Looking back over the last few years, I really wonder what mothering would have been like had I been aware of what dairy was doing to my mood. Especially during the hardest times of all when Natasha was 2-3 and being potty-trained. That's when I really think my little girl and my husband could have really benefited from me being a little saner without the mood-changing after-effects of drinking milk. I still can hardly believe I am one of those people who has to ask about certain foods having dairy in them when at other people's homes, or eating out,'s reality right now.
And as much as my taste buds like to imagine that almond milk is just as good as raw milk, it's not. I still miss it, a lot.

However, I also really like being a cheerful momma and wife, and I think my family does too. :)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Thoughts for Mothers Day

I wrote a post a couple years about why I don't like mothers day, and I wondered at the time if I would ever reconsider liking mothers day, and the time has come that I think I do. You see, two years ago I was raising and trying to potty-train a very independent-minded 3-year-old, and it was harder than I ever thought it would be.

I probably had too high of expectations and was worn out and discouraged and my hormones weren't in order. There was that mood-altering, as-yet-unrecognized dairy sensitivity as well (that'll be a topic for another day). 3-year-olds do grow up a little though. They do get potty-trained and they do learn to amuse themselves. The potty-trained part is a huge relief, but I'm not beyond jumping at the sound of running water at inopportune moments in inappropriate locations.

Doubt and fear still sneaks in at times though, making me wonder if I'm good enough as a mom. There are days when I feel like I say, "No, not right now," too often to my girlie. Of course, those are the days when I tend to do what I shouldn't, and take a few moments to look at my "Mothering" pinterest board for an inspirational quote or something to help me feel better.

That is the wrong thing to do.
Don't go there when you're already feeling down on yourself.
It's just full of pictures of lovely mommas and babies, tender moments and kisses. That end up making you feel even sadder.

May 2013, during a rather picturesque mothering moment

The last time I did this, I told my husband that it wasn't encouraging at all and instead made me feel worse. That's when he told me,

"A picture is just a split-second image. It's only a moment. 
I could probably capture 100 of those moments during your day." 

April 2015

That was the best thing he could have told me.
Because that's what mothering is. Split seconds of everyday life 24/7.

We as mothers don't tend to see them, because it's just natural to kiss the top of that little one's head when he wakes up. Or hold hands as you walk to the mailbox. Or quick color the sky blue in a picture with your little girl before you wash the dishes. It's just the things mommas are supposed to do, and we do them quite well.

You can't compare your entire day, with one shutter snap of someone else's life.

But if you imagine a photographer spending the day with you, those are the exact moments they would capture and send you beautiful pictures of 6 weeks later. Then you would sit and realize, wow, I guess I can seem patient and loving. Because it's true. If you stack all those little moments together, you get a lifetime and that's what the little ones will remember.

The annual foot tracing on her birthday.

God has given us all a memory and a tendency to forget things. Sometimes one outweighs the other, but they don't remember when your voice was raised and your anger triumphed as much as we might think. I'm learning that children give grace to us as mothers a lot easier than we give grace to ourselves. I'm not saying they don't remember any of the uncomfortable moments...nor should you just let impatience rule and anger get the best of you.

But they do forgive readily. 
And love incredibly.
And that's what we need to do right back, not only to them, but to ourselves.


So keep on capturing those split-second images, because that's how we can remember all the glorious moments of mothering. In between all the repeated answers to questions the little ones "didn't hear", and the constant explanations of the bedtime routine we do every. single. night.

Happy Mothers Day fellow Mommas!
You are good enough and you're doing a fine job.

Just don't get carried away on Pinterest too often. Turn to God instead.

"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, 
so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 
2 Corinthians 5:21

Saturday, March 28, 2015

March Madness at our Home

March has been fun.
It included some fun cousin time, and Aunt Janel time too. I watched the little ones while their mommas worked on a bathroom makeover at my in-laws house, and it was such fun to have these three together one day. It's like having all the fun of twin 16 month olds, but they go home to their own respective mothers at night. How about that. Did I say "fun" enough for ya?



I took advantage of our inter-library loan system and read a few books I've had on my list for quite awhile. The best one so far, "The Lost Art of Dress" by Linda Prybyszewski. I'm amazed at that last name every time I see it. Anyway, it was very inspiring to dress respectfully when out and about, and even take a little more care in the home. We needn't look like slobs all the time, even if yoga pants are comfy. One of my many favorite quotes was at the conclusion of the book:

"We all know that growing older usually makes you less of an idiot. But there's little sense today that age might endow you with sophistication, dignity, grace, stateliness, and wisdom. Or that we might aspire to dress in a way that expresses all these qualities."


And, we gained a new reader in the house. There are officially now three of us reading. Here is the youngest, working through, "Green Eggs and Ham".


I still do a lot of reading aloud to her, and this was a recent gem I found. The cover was rather perplexing to Natasha, but the book was a delight to read. I think my favorite part were the short, stubby grandparent crayons, "Silver" and "Gray".


Daniel had a birthday and we celebrated with German currywurst, Panamanian patacones, American roasted broccoli and cranberry salad (lovingly prepared by his mom), Flourless Apple Cake, and fruit salad. I did half the cake recipe since I didn't feel like using an entire pound of almond flour for one cake, even if it was for a 30th birthday meal. It still made a substantial amount of cake that easily fed 8 people. (One slice each, of course...we didn't go overboard with seconds.) Of course, I have no picture. It was eaten too fast.

And I do need to share my currywurst recipe one of these days. I'm amazed every time I serve it that everyone raves over it and I've already given the recipe out twice. Maybe you'd like it as well?

Natasha thought the gifts needed a special cart for transportation.

What was your March like? Our fun really isn't over yet since Natasha gets to be part the children's group waving palm branches for our church's Palm Sunday celebration this weekend. Easter is just around the corner too...and maybe spring? Really looking forward to warm weather.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

7 Practically Perfect Years


Daniel and I celebrated our 7th anniversary last month. I never expected that in the past 7 years we would have ever done as much as we have together, but it's been grand. Simply grand. Not completely perfect, because hey, we live on earth. We aren't sinless, but together with God, we have had the best 7 years I could have asked for. And I'm so thankful I have spent them with this guy. We shared vows during our wedding saying, "I do." and I'm proud to say, "I still do."

To celebrate this year, Daniel planned a little trip to Puerto Rico for a few days, just the two of us. We basically spent our time as follows:

Reading in the shade with the ocean waves below us and our backs to an ancient fort:16-071

Exploring the fore-mentioned fort grounds:13-040

Walking the streets of Old San Juan:18-075

Eating plantains, sweet yellow ones and fried green ones:IMG_3366

Admiring the blue sky, and that fort again:

Trying out stripes with polka-dots:
At some point of this particular day, I realized I was wearing a completely homemade outfit. 

And thinking we were living a real-life postcard.