Monday, March 30, 2009

Bee Charming

A couple of days ago, we were out in the backyard enjoying the sunshine and I noticed Witt from the corner of my eye pointing to something in the sky. There were no planes overhead, so I looked a little closer and noticed the fat bumblebee.

Watching the two of them was quite amazing. They were both obviously so curious about one another. The bee would come within a fingertip's reach of Witt and then back up. Then I heard Witt "charming" the bee back, "Zzzzz Zzzzz". Sure enough it would fly closer to Witt almost as if to get a closer look at him.

The bee never appeared to feel threatened or agitated... it was pure curiosity and so interesting to watch!

By the time I got my camera, the dance was pretty much over. This is the only shot I got of Witt and his new friend; unfortunately, it's not as impressive as what I was watching prior to getting my camera!

(Yes, it is the middle of the day and he is still in pjs...

not an uncommon sight..

I even send him to the neighbors' this way!)

However, as Witt sat in my lap charming the bee with more "Zzzzzz Zzzzz", I played with the zoom on my camera and got a few more pictures from below the bee.

(I still have so much to learn about with my camera... at least I'll always have cute subjects, though!)

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Have I Got Answers For You

Amy said...

Okay, my heart skipped a beat when I saw that Almond Milk photo load up. My kids had this for the first time Friday & LOVED it (thank the Lord!, because we are ready for a switch!).

Okay, question #1:
What's the first thing you'd cook, if the allergies went bye bye? (I ask myself this all the time!)

March 25, 2009 12:30 AM

I have really had a hard time deciding on this one. I don't think it's so much an exact dish, but I long to use real grass-fed dairy butter. No more of this DF margarine. Although it cooks well and tastes decent, there are trans fats in every one I've seen... and that's not good.

Blogger Amy said...

Q #2:
Are any of your kids named after your hubs? (obviously, I know everybody's first names, so I guess, middle names?!)

March 25, 2009 12:31 AM

Yes, actually. Will is William Jeffrey. William is Jeff's grandfather's name.

Blogger Amy said...

Q #3:
If you could go back & do it over, would you get married earlier? older? etc.?

March 25, 2009 12:32 AM

Nope. I'd do it just about the exact same way as we did it. Jeff and I dated for three years and were married when I was 24 and he was 27. The strangest thing about our first year of marriage was that I was still in college... two hours away from where he worked. I was in school during the week and would go home for the weekends. We'd heard that the first year of marriage is the hardest... so essentially we skipped it. LOL! :)

Blogger Amy said...

Did you put a period in p.optarts for a reason?

March 25, 2009 12:34 AM

Yes, I did. I'm not exactly sure how search engines work, but they do tend to bring people to me for strange reasons... some disgusting (ie. little boys in pa.nties) So, by putting the period in the middle of the word, it deters the search engine from finding the word. Anyone searching for po.ptarts is certainly not looking for my blog, so I just help them along by not wasting their time and keep people off my site that aren't intentionally looking for me. Make sense? Or is that just too weird?

Blogger Amy said...

#5 / final question...

Are you going to try for a girl? ;) (you'd have to change your blog title!! :)

March 25, 2009 12:34 AM

Ummmmm.... no. That's an easy one. Witt was a total surprise... especially 'cause I was on the pill at the time. We decided three was a complete package for our family and that we really didn't think we could personally handle more. I had an emergency C-section with Witt and had made arrangements that if I ended up needed a C-section for them to go ahead and do a tubal. So they did. And then a couple months later, just to be on the safe side... Jeff had a vas.ectamy. I know... extreme (and there's that extra "." again!), but we're a bunch of fertile mertyls 'round here! LOL!

Blogger Nowheymama said...

Where do you find the best prices on almond milk?

March 25, 2009 6:16 AM

There is only one place in town that sells refrigerated almond milk and that's Publix. It is $3.29 for half gallon carton. (I don't buy shelf stable milk because I'm not really sure what is done to the milk to make it shelf stable, so I don't know the prices on that... sorry.)

Blogger Nowheymama said...

Do you have a favorite brand of almond milk?

March 25, 2009 6:24 AM

I've only tried Almond Breeze. It's good stuff. The vanilla is actually too sweet for me; it's like drinking vanilla ice cream almost (taste wise... not texture). I enjoy drinking the original straight. For the boys I usually do half chocolate (or vanilla) and half original.

Blogger Nowheymama said...

Have you tried other soy alternatives, like rice milk?

March 25, 2009 6:24 AM

Yes, we've tried rice milk, but I find it to grainy to drink straight. Plus it's very thin, so in my opinion it's not that exciting to cook with. I also feel like we get enough grain in our diet food-wise that we don't need it in our beverages, too. (Again, just my opinion.)

I have also tried hemp milk and well, to be honest... I thought it was disgusting. I let everyone taste it to see if anyone would drink it. After we each got a small taste and a bunch of grossed out looks, I dumped the whole thing. I didn't try cooking with it though, but I should have, as I've heard it does great.

I also want to point out that Almond Breeze almond milk does have some soy lechtin in it, but it is not one of the top ingredients. I was dissapointed when I saw that, but it's not like we're trying to avoid all soy... just decrease our intake by not drinking it as much as we used to.

Blogger Nowheymama said...

If so, do you prefer almond milk?

March 25, 2009 6:25 AM

Yes. I like it's taste and texture. I like the way it cooks, too. It doesn't have that strong twang soy does. To me, the initial taste (of the original) is somewhat plain (kinda like cow's milk... nothing exciting) which is followed by an aftertaste of almond. If you don't like almonds you probably won't like the almond milk.

Blogger Jamie Kaufmann said...

hey! :) long time no talk. busy, busy. and i see you are being hard on yourself again. aren't we so good at that?! i will ask what your favorite hobby is...because i am having a lot of fun with mine...stamping and scrapbooking. and i'm glad i'm not the only one who allows convenient and white flour food, hee, hee.

March 25, 2009 4:48 PM

My hobbies seem to change quickly these days. Right now (in case you hadn't noticed) I'm really interested in learning more about nutrition and being more informed about my choices. I don't know if that's really a hobby or not, but it does consume a lot of my time. Part of this is cooking, too. I love baking. If I could bake all day I'd be so happy, but then I'd have dishes to do and that makes me miserable. :P
I used to scrapbook, but blogging over took that.

We started our first garden this year, so that's going to become a necessary hobby, too. :)

Any more questions? You won't win anything, but this was fun! Ask away...

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Coupons Winners!

From Research Randomizer my 5 winners are:

p1=5, p2=9, p3=3, p4=10, p5=7

6 coupons for Amy

6 coupons for NoWheyMama

3 coupons for Jamie

Please email me your addresses and I'll get them out ASAP!

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Got Almondmilk?


To liven things up a bit around here, I thought I'd do a giveaway!

I have 15 coupons for $1.00 off any one half gallon carton Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk. These are legitimate coupons; each one was clipped from the newspaper. They all expire on March 31, 2009.

I am going to send 3 coupons to 5 lucky commenters. All you need to do to enter is ask me a question in the comments... the questions can be anything at all and I will do my best to answer them. You can ask up to 5 questions, just be sure to do each of them as separate comments for separate entries.

I will pick the winners using a random number generator and you can win more than once.

Because of the close expiration date, this giveaway will close at 6:00 PM CST Wednesday, March 25th. I will email the winners and they will have until noon Thursday to respond with their mailing address. The coupons will be sent out as soon as I have your mailing address.

Any questions? (It could win you some free coupons!)

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No More Woe is Me

To lighten my load of stress I've decided on a few things. (Well, more than a few.)

1) Although I am going to keep tabs on my grocery spending, I am no longer going to report it on my sidebar. I was surprised at how accountable I felt once I knew I had to put my overage out there to the www. That accountability also brings stress and I need to lesson that. I know that sounds a little backwards, but I hope it's going to help me relax a little bit.

2) I'm going to slow down on my baby steps to better nutrition. The kids aren't enjoying some of the things I make and meal time has gotten more stressful because of it. I'm not going back to straight junk food, but I am going to say, reduce the amount of whole wheat flour I use in some of my baked goods.

3) With Jeff working a lot this week, I'm giving myself a little cooking break and have afforded myself some convenience food with the kids. Today I actually bought some po.ptarts. Those paired with some fruit and sausage patties will make for easy-going breakfasts before school.

4) Even with the extra convenience foods, though, I need to watch it. I've noticed that when I eat less nutritious foods, I feel worse... and I don't need that. I need filling, energizing foods. I also need to watch it because I've been stress eating and have gained back 3 of the pounds I've lost this year! ACK!

5) I'm going to make a plan. A list, actually. And then I'm going to take one or two items and assign them to a day to be accomplished. I need to fill my time and be productive to get out of this woe-is-me slump.

What do you do to bring yourself out of a stressful slump?

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I don't handle it well. When I get really stressed, I almost become immobilized. My to-do list grows, but I can't decide which thing is most important to do, so I do nothing. Many times I'll just veg-out in front of the computer.

Another thing stress does to me is make me more of a structured person than I already am. I plan everything out to the best of my ability and work toward it turning out just as I planned. If something changes, I have a really hard time adjusting and I end up even more stressed.

So today, when I got a call that something in my *perfectly* scheduled Saturday was going to change, I started getting really jittery. Shaky on the inside, but not noticeable on the outside. I don't like this feeling.

My house is a mess. I actually did 3 loads of dishes yesterday. Yes, dishes... not laundry. (That was obvious chore that had to get done on my to-do list.) My list of things I want to do with the kids grows as I sit and do nothing exciting with them.

Anyway, I just needed to veg-out in front of the computer and vent. AAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

You may go back to your regularly scheduled blog reading. Please come back again. I'm not always this discombobulated.

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Good for Making Dirt

Will ( 6 1/2 years)

My inquisitive one that purposefully makes funny faces for pictures!

Will: Mom, what kind of leaves can we eat?

Me: Well, there are spinach, lettuce, cabbage leaves.

Will: What about strawberry leaves?

Me: No, strawberry leaves aren't good to eat. I think they're probably bitter.

Will: Yeah, they are good for making dirt.


Nathan (3 years)

Loves to find letters!! He knows all the upper case, lower case, most of the sounds, and can sign them, too!

"Mama, two Ah's" (Mama, two R's)

"Luh, letta H!" (Look, letter H!)

And of course he can read, too! (not exactly, but he knows some words)

For instance: "J - O - H - N - D- E - E - R - E. John Deere!"


Witt (22 months)

My favorite new word is "Hi Dee". Which I honestly first thought was a version of "howdy" but then he hid behind his hands and we realized he was HIDING!

Dun Noe - Thank you (This is my second favorite new word! I wish I could bottle the sounds of these sweet interpretations!)



Trak - tractor

Gra - Gran

Prangle - Pretzel, Popsicle, or Pickle... they all sound the same!

Cook - cookie

Pay - pear

Bay - berry

Nie - Good night

Nay - Nathan

Woe - Will

Kuh - color

Tee - t.v.

Koo Koo - Blue's Clues (with hand motions!)

Tur Tur - Turn

signs: shoe, boots, strawberry, pear, banana, help, no

knows: hair, eyes, belly button, ears, mouth, tongue, teeth, feet, toes, hands... and the funniest one is that he recently found his nipples! LOL! He calls them "buttons" (well, some version of the word anyway!)

Go visit Mary for More Tiny Talkers:

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Jeff's Job (Take 2)

For those of you that have me on a reader, you received the "benefit" of the whole detailed post, but after Jeff read it, he suggested I remove some of the detailed information for safety purposes; I agree. Sometimes I forget that I don't know who is reading my blog.


First let me preface this post with the fact that I am so thankful Jeff has a job in this uncertain economy... especially a job that allows me to remain home with the boys. Second, let me say that I am thankful that Jeff's job is still in the "secure zone". Lastly, let me say that I am thankful Jeff is willing to work hard not only to keep his job secure, but also to keep me home.

Spring is always the busy season for him. Mills and factories take the opportunity to shut down their machines, upgrade, do regular maintenance, and other tweaks during the nicer weather. Weeks prior to these outages, Jeff is working more hours than I like to count in preparation. (This is what he's currently doing.)

A couple weeks ago, though, it looked like things were slowing waaayyy down. One mill that had offered a HUGE contract (to the company Jeff works for) retracted it saying that all projects were on hold for financial reasons. That same week a different mill announced they would be closing their doors permanently in 3 - 4 months.

About this same time, (the way I understand it) the headquarters' office needed more manpower for one of their outages and someone to head up a new team at another mill. To make a long, complicated story short... Jeff is the extra manpower and the new team head. (WooHoo for job security, huh?!?)

Currently, he is working for headquarters a random number of days each week working towards their outage. The days he is not at headquarters, he's working towards another outage. Oh, and that HUGE contract that was retracted... it was given back; so he's working on that, too.

THEN... when the first outage is over, he will have about 10 days to work crazy hours finishing up for the second outage. Are you still with me? Cause I get a little confused with all he's got going on! :)

Although nothing is set in stone, I have heard that this "new team" job may turn out to be a Monday through Friday for headquarters. YUCK. I have also heard that it may only be 1 - 2 days a week. This is new ground and no one really knows. Either way, he's working crazy, exhausting, stressful hours and I'm a "single mom" of three boys at least a few days a week for the remainder of the year.

So, right now... I'm a little stressed and I know he is, too.

(I just had to throw this picture in!)

Although this is a stressful time for our family, I am SO GRATEFUL that he has a good job and that he's an upstanding, God-fearing man that is willing to work for the betterment of his family and for his company.

1 Timothy 5:8
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Jeff is a good man; I honestly couldn't ask for better.

The workload alone is stressful, but like I said in my nutrition post, "We've got a lot going on." I've got more to share, but not tonight. Tonight, I'm going to go say a little prayer for Jeff as he's been at work most of this Saturday and will be there late into the night. I'm also going to throw a good word in for myself, because I'm gonna need some extra help being a patient mama. *Insert Say A Little Prayer lyrics by Aretha Franklin* LOL!

'Night all...

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Friday, March 20, 2009

I Need a Blog Makeover!

Pumpkin Patch Creations by Trista has recently become Delicious Designs by Trista and to mark her grand opening, she's hosting a blog design giveaway!

Trista created the blog design I have now about a year ago, I think. My boys are growing, life is changing, and I need an update! (In fact, I'm blogging about this for an extra chance to win the makeover!)

She's also offering a discounted rate of 10% off if you don't win, but are in need of a redesign.

Good luck... but I'm secretly hoping I win and you don't! LOL! :)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What's Good to Eat?

We have so much going on that I literally feel like I have a series of posts to do. There is no clear beginning so I'm just going to start with the topic of our current food choices.

*This is an excessively long post.*

But first, I feel the need to say these are personal choices that feel right for our family. What we are working towards is in no way a reflection of what I think everyone should be doing. I am not judging anyone's choices... this blog is about our life and what we are doing. Food choices are a big part of our family, but it's no longer only out of necessity due to of life-threatening food allergies; we're intentionally making different choices.

What am I talking about?!?

I'm talking about baby steps towards whole food living: whole wheat, unrefined sugars, organics, home grown food, removing preservatives and additives as much as possible... just to name a few. Eventually (HOPEFULLY!) raw milk, free-range organic eggs, keifer, and other things I had no idea about 4 months ago.

Really, this journey of conscientious food choices started with Witt's allergy diagnosis. When we found out he is anaphylactic to dairy (and allergic to eggs & peanuts), we went into survival mode. Our diet at the time was SAD (Standard American Diet). We ate out 2 - 3 times a week, had tons of prepackaged foods in the pantry, and drank 4 - 5 gallons of store bought, non-organic, pasteurized milk weekly... and I rarely read a food label.

The first year of Witt's allergy we ate out as a family about once a month (Witt was still breastfed or on jarred baby food and contained easily); we switched our prepacked foods from whatever we wanted to dairy-free egg-free peanut-free prepackaged foods, and drank about 4 gallons of organic soy milk weekly. Looking for allergens on labels had become our way of life.

Once Witt was more mobile and on table foods, we no longer went to restaurants as a family (although Jeff and I continue a weekly lunch date out). Prepackaged foods decreased a little as I found it was more economical for me to cook from scratch. Massive soy milk consumption continued. I started paying attention more to labels... not just the allergen info, but it became, "What in the world are these 27 letter long words???"

Late 2008, as I started searching for more and healthier recipes to replace our standard prepackaged foods, I continually ran across a highly recommended book: Nourishing Traditions.

I decided to check further into this book. I searched for it on Paperback Swap first to see if I could get it for "free". Nope. There were over 400 other members "wishing" for the book. So, I decided to get myself a Christmas present. :)

This was my much anticipated gift Christmas morning and I'll be honest... when I opened it and looked at all the recipes containing whey, milk, and eggs I was disappointed. I thought there was no way I would ever use this book, but I started to read it anyway as Sally Fallon had several chapters prior to the recipes regarding fats, vitamins, minerals, etc., and even a chapter on food allergies.

I was amazed at what I read regarding food studies, how big businesses are controlling what goes in our foods, and how all these refined foods are really just filling a void in our stomachs - not nourishing our bodies at all. Before I even got to read the chapter on food allergies, I was putting two and two together thinking, "It is no wonder there are so many food related problems today with all the artificial stuff we've been feeding ourselves these last few generations!"

About this time, I also started researching soy more heavily.

I had already read a few scary articles regarding the estrogen levels in soy. One in particular continues to stick out in my mind regarding boys that grew breasts, which was linked to soy consumption. Have you read your labels recently? Soy is in almost EVERYTHING and it has been linked to a lot of bad, bad things and is dangerous! We decided to stop drinking soy milk and we've switched to almond milk... which is absolutely delicious by the way!

So these baby steps bring us to today. I am, of course, nowhere near where I want us to be, but these things take time in my world. I'm slowly transitioning our recipes by replacing some of the refined ingredients with less or non-refined ones.

Here are the main updates to our diet so far for 2009:

  • No soy milk (although we do use soy yogurt and cheeses from time to time)
  • Whole wheat flour is replacing all purpose (unbleached) by 25% - 75% of the flour amount called for.
  • Coconut oil is replacing dairy free margarine in all baked goods and sauteed foods
  • Sucanat , maple syrup, honey and other natural sweeteners are replacing white refined sugar by 50 -100% of the sugar amount called for
  • Making more baked goods from scratch for healthy breakfasts and snacks
  • We have planted seeds to grow some of our own fruits, vegetables, and herbs this year (a first for us!)
  • Making nourishing chicken broth from bones (I also did this with venison!)

Changes I want to see take place before the end of the year (Please note that I am not expecting these to be 100% complete changes... ie. I use the word "more" not "all")

  • Buying more organics. Honestly, I currently buy few organics fruits & veggies because of price. Hopefully our garden will supply a lot, but we go through so much fruit!! This will probably be by far the most expensive change for us.
  • Find a reputable free-range chicken farm. I know there are some around here, but I just haven't gotten to that yet. I hear they are delicious, though!
  • Shop our local farmer's market once a month (ours is quite expensive, but those peaches are fantastic!)
  • Introduce granola cereals (instead of using extruded cereals)
  • Learn more about and attempt soaking grains
  • Learn more about and attempt sprouting (and more sprouting)
  • PRAY PRAY PRAY for a full removal of food allergies from Witt by his next testing in December 2009.

Benefits I have seen so far:

  • 6 pounds lost this year with only the above changes
  • Major reduction in sweet cravings
  • Sodas taste and feel like corn syrup - I have no desire for them
  • I don't feel the need to eat as much when I eat whole, unprocessed foods (seriously!)
  • Just an overall sense of feeling better, whether it's all in my mind or not, I don't know, but I'll take it either way! :)


  • Going from white flour to whole wheat flour is not very "kid friendly"in many cases - at least not for a 6 year old raised on white flour. (bless his heart...)
  • I need to find a balance between altering and not altering recipes (ie. Jeff's not too excited about me putting whole wheat flour in his favorite cornbread. Some things need to be left alone and I need to respect that.)
  • I'm having a really hard time staying within my $125/week grocery budget.
  • It's all a little bit overwhelming at times and I need to continue to remind myself that baby steps are the way to go for our family.
  • We currently can't get the benefits from raw milk or from eggs with Witt's allergies so we're only working within the boundaries available to us.

Where I've been going for nourishing information:

Heavenly Homemakers (mama to 4 boys! fantastic recipes!)

The Nourishing Gourmet (Dairy free, very informative)

Local Nourishment
(down-to-earth, real tests and trials of this foody life; also has a daughter with a milk allergy)

Naturally Knocked Up (although I'm not and don't plan to be again! LOL!)

Team Bettendorf (12 kiddos! and a new milking cow!)

Keeper of the Home ( writes about what a woman's body needs nutritionally... among many other great topics!)

Passionate Homemaking (love this page of natural living info!)

Yahoo Groups: Discussing Nourishing Traditions

Weston A. Price Foundation

So that's the first of a few "big topic posts" I have mulling around in my head. The buzz word for our family this year is "CHANGE" - good changes, but big changes none-the-less.

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