Monday, February 28, 2011


I go through phases with the types of scents I like for my house.

In college, it was the stuff of fruity and fresh.

Now, it is the stuff of cozy and warm.

Right now I like Bath and Body Works' Kitchen Spice. And Caramel Vanilla, when it's available.

What scents do you love to have in your home?

(Besides, of course, the "Open Windows With Fresh Air Blowing In" scent. The best of all.)

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I am reading 1 Peter 1 and this is the verse that seems to surface in my mind throughout the day:

"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart". (v.22)

It then goes on to say that we can do so because we are born again in Christ and live according to the enduring word of God. You know. That helps.

It's the word "fervently" that catches me off guard a little. The definition of "fervent" is "having or showing great warmth or intensity of spirit, feeling, enthusiasm, etc."

Do the people in my life feel loved like that? It's a pretty intense way to love. There are people I encounter who are wonderfully easy to love and then there are those who are a little more complicated. But nowhere could I find anything that said, "Love fervently those who are easy to love. Put up with those who are complicated."

It makes me think, then, that any difficulty that lies in loving others is an indication of the condition of our hearts. We can't blame others when they are hard to love. We can only do what we can--to reach out and love them fervently. Their response or reaction to that love is their own choice, just as the decision to love them is ours.

Just some random thoughts in the midst of a crazy-hectic week.

Have a lovely day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I was in the third grade the first time I considered the possibility that I could be "fat".

I was standing in the bathroom and overheard some fifth graders discussing how they felt that their jeans made them look fat and I decided that perhaps I should consider the same. It was the first time I looked in the mirror and promptly looked away, embarrassed at what I saw. I began to worry that perhaps others saw me as "fat", even though I was a pretty scrawny kid. The fifth graders were girls I looked up to, and, ridiculous as it sounds, I knew they must be right.

I can look at that moment as the beginning of a lifetime of insecurity, a sort of bizarre catalyst that planted the bug in my brain that perhaps there was something wrong with the way I looked. At the time, I was living in Southern California and attending a private school. When I think of my childhood, I think of visits to my grandparents' house in Mexico, trips to the beach, a loving family, hikes in Idyllwild, and roaming the meadow behind our house in search of centipedes. I had a good childhood. But I can't ignore the fact that where I lived was sort of an epicenter of pretentiousness that carried an influence I couldn't avoid. While the positive memories hold the majority of space in my mind, the insecure memories hold the weight, and I can look back through my life and see the victories and failures those insecurities caused me to encounter along the way.

I grew to accept what I believed to be the truth: I wasn't a pretty girl. The pretty girls wore make-up, tight jeans, had fluffy hair, and kept compacts in their back pocket. In middle school we moved halfway across the country and I found security in my brother's oversized Stussy shirts and my baggy Silvertab jeans. If I could hide, I was fine. My relationship with food was a funny one. I had a huge appetite. I remember, as a child, standing in line at In-N-Out and begging my parents for a Double-Double. I never got one, but I sure wanted one. I've always loved food. I think that was where I struggled the most. Even though I wasn't "fat", I still felt like my love for food made me fat, and I kind of despised myself for it. In high school I traded my Silvertabs for jeans that actually fit and decided that my body wasn't totally awful. I played volleyball, which kept me in shape, but I still looked at myself as a less-than member of the social circuit. One of the ladies' coaches referred to me as a "late bloomer" once and I took her comment to mean that I would never actually "bloom". I was just ... Katie. With the good personality. Thankfully, I had an enormously strong group of friends that probably saved me in many ways.

In college I gained the freshman fifteen. That began a mental and emotional battle that caused me to discard some of the food that I consumed in unhealthy ways. I never had an eating disorder--I was never systematic, calculated, or repetitious in the emptying of my stomach--I can count the number of times it happened on both hands. It was always impulsive and out of frustration. The thought of doing it on a regular basis was terrifying to me. I had seen loved ones struggle through eating disorders and I knew how dangerous it could be. I felt that I was safe, even though I was, frankly, playing with fire. I didn't always hate the way I looked, but, when I did, I hated myself even more after the food was gone. How foolish. I was standing on the edge of danger, looking down, understanding how these kinds of things can so easily spiral out of control. It was bizarre because I led this really happy life in college--I loved college! It was a full, extraordinary period in my life and the way I felt about myself was truly such a small piece of it. But it was a heavy piece.

I had an RA my sophomore year who caused me to begin to see things differently. She was this vivacious, naturally beautiful girl who had this passion and smile and vitality for life that was infectious. She was actually an authentically happy person--I know her even now and she's still just as awesome. She was athletic, but she wasn't sickishly skinny. She just enjoyed her life, and I wanted what she had. One day she caught me walking down our hall. I hadn't eaten in almost two days, the longest ever for me, and I was hoping I looked good and skinny. Instead of saying, "You look good!", she asked, "Is something wrong?"

Rather than affirming my noticeable weight loss, she questioned it.

Of course, I lied and told her I was fine. But, for some reason, her response to the way I looked opened up a floodgate of emotion I had been holding in. I called my boyfriend (now my husband) and confessed everything: the way I felt about myself, the way I didn't know how to handle it. He met me in the cafeteria and we ate dinner and talked it through. I realized that I had a choice: I could either focus on the things that made me feel insecure, or I could focus on the things that made me feel good about myself. I decided to focus on the latter. Of course, I knew it wouldn't be that easy. Retraining the brain is never a simple task. And, honestly, it's a lifelong effort.

I can't say why, specifically, that one instance totally transformed the way I decided to live my life, but it did.

I began to pursue health rather than looks, and, on my wedding day, I remember looking in the mirror and loving the way I looked--and being proud of what I saw. I was healthy. And truly happy. My means of fitting into my dress involved good old-fashioned exercise, not by laxatives or because the food in my stomach had been regurgitated. I gained weight in my first two years of marriage (desk jobs can do that), but when I felt my self-loathing begin to resurface, I stopped it and knew the steps I needed to take to regain my health. Of course, shortly after this realization, I found myself pregnant, and I promptly blimped up! But, I was okay with it. Even after this second pregnancy, where I'm doubting if my poor saggy stomach will ever again see the light of day, I'm still okay with it. I refuse to jump on a bandwagon of dieting (now labeled as "lifestyles") and I don't want to whine about how I look. I want to be proactive in pursuing health, but not be crazy. I know where crazy can lead.

Because that poignant moment eight years ago is still fresh on my mind.

And because of something else.

I don't want Naomi to think for a moment that her security lies in anything other than the fact that on June 15, 2010, God chose to give her breath. And therefore her life is priceless and the days that God has already numbered for her are purposeful and that her life is a life worth living. I want her to see that her God-given life is full and extraordinary--that pursuing Him and caring for herself as His child gives her a breathtaking beauty that no human can define.

I won't be perfect at this. But I will be purposeful.

And the journey continues on.

Have a lovely day.

An Extraordinarily Shallow Question.

On my very brisk walk with the kiddos this morning, I had a very deep and personal blog post formulating in my mind. Now that I am actually sitting at my computer, my brain is completely full of life change ideas and deep thoughts and it's kind of wearing me out. Meh. So, the next totally unrelated idea that came into my head:

What is your favorite Starbucks drink?

(Lame! Shallow! Irrelevant to the current events of the world!)

Or, even better: Do you even LIKE Starbucks, or do you scoff at their mass-produced sludge they call coffee? If so, what DO you like?

(You went to college?! This is pathetic blog fodder!)

I am either a skinny caramel macchiato or caramel mocha with soy kind of girl.

(Caramel mocha with soy? Really? Yum!)

I think I just need a break from deep thoughts.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Moral Support

(Taken before he mastered the big potty. But still just as cute.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Eight Months.

Dear Naomi,

Today you are eight months old.

Yep, that's right, count it: EIGHT.

Good grief, be still my heart. Four months away from the big One Year? Really? I can't believe it. I truly can't.

You, little Mouse, are one bouncy bundle of joy. Let's get to it.


You go to bed around 7:30 and sleep until 7:00. You take two long naps and one catnap, but that catnap is subjective every day. Sometimes you need it, sometimes you don't. With your early bedtime, that last nap usually isn't necessary. But, in some instances (like today, in fact!) where you wake up early from one nap (by, say, getting your foot stuck between the rails of your crib), you need one more nap to hold you over until bedtime! You have taken to a routine like a champ and we are thrilled for it. You are, too.


This month you decided you liked puffy snacks and yogurt melts. We introduced them two months ago and you scoffed in disgust, so I waited a bit and now you love them. Watching your little unsteady hand tryyyyyy to pick up a puff is the most precious thing ever. You examine it and then it begins the long and unsteady journey to your mouth. You're doing so well! You are a sippy-only girl now, taking formula five times a day (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner, bedtime) and eating solids three times a day (breakfast, lunch, dinner ... and now, snacks!). Your breakfast usually includes oatmeal and a smashed up banana. I could feed you smashed bananas all day and you would not complain one bit. You also like baby food prunes. Good for you, though, honey! For lunch you typically eat one fruit and one veggie, and then the same goes for dinner. Your snacks include puffy snacks, yogurt melts, and Mum-Mums. You gaze longingly at the food on our plates, so there are days where I'll toss some of our rice and veggie into the food processor and you eat what we eat. You tried cornbread this month and thought it was yummy, too (until you took a massive bite and gagged ... you didn't like that too much! Little bites, baby girl, little bites!). No teeth yet of which to speak. Gummy baby girl.


You are getting stronger and stronger when it comes to rocking on all fours, but you have yet to commit to crawling. You also love to reach waaaaay out in front of you for a toy, even if it means doing a face plant.

However, your newest trick is to "scoot".

While seated, you suddenly begin bouncing up and down, lifting yourself off of the ground, and in doing so, you actually move forward. It is HILARIOUS and adorable. You can make your way across the wood floor with no problem. It's quite efficient, really--you're able to maintain your poise whilst moving. Such a lady.

You love to bob your head from side to side and will do so on command if I say, "Shake it!" You've discovered that your voice can reach great volume, and you choose to exercise this newfound talent frequently. You also like to do this hilarious open-mouthed "HA!" sound. You giggle and smile constantly and it's pretty adorable.

We've had another new development as well: HAIR! You hair is finally coming in and it is a lovely shade of baby dark blonde. It's tough to tell. Straight out of the tub freshly-dried, your hair is blonde. The next day, it's darker. So, meh, dark blonde. Either way: Beautiful!

You can now wear your clips without a headband; however, your hair isn't quite thick enough to keep them in for very long, so we still employ the headband for most outings. It took you a while to realize that it is within your power to remove said headbands or clips, an ignorance for which we were very thankful! You have now discovered how to remove them; however, for the most part, you leave them be. Your babbling has kicked it up a notch, with lots of "MAAAAMMMMAAAAMMMMAAAMMMAAA's" when you are in distress. I'm going to go ahead and say it: You are a Mama's girl. You have yet to experience stranger danger, but, when we are at home, you want me. It is truly a precious thing. You like your alone time, but when you're done, you're done. I love this stage, where you are more and more independent, and thusly your personality emerges bit by bit. I feel now like I am getting to know you as Naomi, not just you as Baby Naomi. Your facial expressions, your preferences, your voice ... I'm so excited to see you continue to develop and become a little lady.

This month you also moved into your new car seat (woot!) thanks to your length. You're still a lightweight, but you're a long lightweight, and when we saw your feet dangling over the edge of your infant seat, we knew it was time to make a change. Your brother moved into a new car seat that will eventually convert to a booster, and you are now riding in style in his plushy convertible seat. Backwards, of course. You love the change. The seat swallows you up and you don't mind one bit!

Sigh. Mouse.

You seamlessly joined our family and opened up a dimension of extra joy we could not have imagined. Your exuberance is contagious and there is nothing greater than peeking over the edge of your crib to see the most precious grin spread from cheek-to-cheek on your sweet face. I know God has big plans for you, little Mouse, and I feel blessed that He has chosen us to witness them. I'm so proud of you already and thrilled for what is ahead.

We love you, baby girl.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Because It's Fun.

Heart-shaped pancakes.

On heart-shaped plates.

And a card taped to the steering wheel of my husband's car.

(It surprises him, even though I do it every year.)

Simple love for the ones who make my heart full.

What do you do for Valentine's Day?

Thursday, February 10, 2011


While my corner of the world has been covered in white, there have been a few honorable mentions that have made the experience of being cooped up just a little more bearable. A constant reminder that it really is the little stuff that makes the big stuff not quite so bad.

1) Candlelit

My little guy decided that he would like candles when we eat breakfast, please. He loves "FIRE!" when it is blazing in his grandparents' fireplace, so the concept of a much smaller fire being on the table while he eats is pretty fascinating. Every morning, I've lit the tapers on our table, and there is a sudden and simultaneous elegance and coziness amidst our eggs and oatmeal, while the world of white continues on outside.

2) Lofty

My husband flipped over Cub's big boy bed to its lofted position, and Cub is absolutely amazed. He LOVES the new setup and constantly asks to play on his bed. I say he asks because, while he is perfectly capable of climbing up and down the ladder (and has done so several times), he still prefers to be hoisted or at least helped when he makes his ascent. So funny. He's loving his "BIG FORK!" (big fort) and I'm loving the extra storage.

3) Rolling Up My Sleeves

I attempted homemade chicken stock for the first time last week and we loved it. I did it again this week, too, and I'm fairly certain it will become a household staple. My sister-in-law first explained it to me and it sounded slightly overwhelming at first, but, once I did it, I understood why she loves to do it, too. I am sure that many of my readers already do this, but for those of you who are green in the homemade broth area such as myself, I thought I might share how to do it in case you are interested (or, at least, how I was told to do it ... a family recipe then, right?). :)

: Take a whole chicken and remove the innards (gah, I know). Stick the bird in a stock pot and begin filling the pot with water, until the chicken is barely covered. Throw in your desired ingredients. I chose parsley, bay leaves, sea salt, carrots, celery, garlic, peppercorns, and onion. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for a few hours (and allow the delicious aroma to fill your house ... yum). Once the chicken is cooked, grab another pot, a strainer, and a large mixing bowl or platter. Very carefully remove the chicken from the water (it will probably fall apart) and place it on the bowl or platter. Grab your strainer and place it on top of your extra pot. Dump the remaining contents of your original pot into the new pot, straining out the vegetables (and possibly the remainder of the chicken!). I pour mine into the crock-pot and use it immediately for chicken noodle soup (pictured above, sans noodles), but you can store it in containers if you'd like and place them in the refrigerator (you may want to skim the top after its been refrigerated). Do what you'd like with the veggies ... I put mine in the soup. Take the chicken and once the skin is removed, you can shred it and either store it or use immediately. Voila! Now you have a supply of broth and chicken for your use. Healthier than canned broth, and more yummy, too! I pureed my chicken noodle soup in our food processor for Naomi, and she loved it. A real family meal! :) :

While the cold temps are making me long for summer, I know the muggy days of August will have me begging for January once again, so I'm trying to enjoy it while I can. I find that, regardless of the weather, having two joyful little kiddos, a hubby who makes me laugh, and a home I love to keep, makes these days all the more special.

Yay for joyful moments.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Smiling at her big brother while he feeds her sweet potatoes and bananas.

(A "wish-I-could-freeze-time" kind of moment.)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Cheddar Bunnies Get a Free Pass.

I received an email from someone asking me about the weight loss deal and how everything was going. Thank you for asking!

It's going well.

I've passed my short-term goal, but I'm not jumping for joy until March 11th. I almost think that losing weight is the easier part--it's the keeping if off that's really tough. For me, anyway. So, I'm happy with the progress, but doing my best to keep my eyes on the prize: Maintaining where I want to be. I constantly envision my life one year from the current day. What will my life look like? I want my weight loss tactics to blend seamlessly with our daily lives--it can't be anything that requires too much extra work or expense, because it simply won't stick. I've learned!

My guidelines are pretty simple:

1) The rules only apply when we are under our own roof or are in control of our choices

2) If I wouldn't feed it to the kids, then I don't eat it
-Nothing advertised as "low fat", "non fat" or "sugar free" (only whole milk, whole fat yogurt, etc.--if they're cutting something out, they're typically replacing it with something else)
-As few packaged things and as many whole foods as realistically possible for our lifestyle
3) Realistic expectations
-There will always be instances where the rules are broken (i.e.--blizzards, church potlucks, etc.) and that's when portion control comes into play. I won't turn down comfort food on a snowy day!

4) Splurge meal
-Once a week, I get to eat whatever I want for one meal. Appetizer, entree, dessert. So far my splurge meals have included items such as a bacon cheeseburger, chili fries, ice cream, onion rings, and cheesecake. Yum. It's nice to go out with friends and dig into a yummy dessert, guilt-free.

5) Exercise
-It's just gotta happen. I do Zumba once a week and some weight training throughout the week. The double stroller is staring at me in the garage, begging for some use, and I can't wait until the weather warms up so I can push the kiddos around on our route.

There you have it! I will keep you updated when I reach my first goal date. But, thanks for checking in on me. It helps to keep me motivated!

Have a lovely day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Love. {Oklahoma Blizzard Edition}

:frozen pond ... he was braver than I:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Potty Dance: Backwards?

On Sunday morning, I decided to be brave and put Cub in big boy underwear. I was a little scared, but didn't want to keep going back and forth between diaper/underwear/diaper/underwear. So, I put him in his Thomas undies and scooted him to Sunday School, forewarning his (very amazing) teacher.

I didn't get a chance to check on him between Sunday School and the service, so my first time to see him was a few hours later. I peeked in his room and saw that he was wearing his same pair of pants. Yay! No accidents! I asked his teacher how he did and she said, "Great!" followed by ... "He never went!"


She took him several times, but he never went. I appreciated her tenacity and told her I'd give it a try. I took him to the kiddy bathroom and discovered there was a normal toilet in there. No wonder he was a tad shy ... he hadn't ever used a "big potty" before. I stripped him down and then remembered someone telling me something about sitting boys backwards on the toilet when they are first starting to train. So, I sat him up there backwards, with his legs resting on the toilet seat as though he were sitting on the floor. And, sure enough, BAM! That boy had been holding it in! I couldn't believe it--his first time to go in the big potty!

Backwards. Huh.

Then we went out to lunch and he had success with a big potty again, backwards, and no accidents. I'm guessing that backwards is comfortable because they are able to sit normally without having to straddle the potty (and for boys, it keeps the stream from shooting across the room).

That was Sunday, and our little man hasn't looked back.

We turned him around to face frontwards yesterday to straddle the potty and he did great. So, backwards isn't necessary anymore. But, it sure was handy in making him feel comfortable on the big potty! And, it prevented us from having to carry around a small padded seat for him. Now he's fine going forwards.

We haven't had an accident since Saturday and I'm going to go ahead and put it out there: I think our boy is potty trained, with going Number One. Now. By "potty trained", I don't mean that he suddenly declares, "I need to go potty!" and then walks to the bathroom, shuts the door, does his business, and comes back out! That independence will come later. He still needs a lot of help. We still take him about every hour and help him with his britches and such. But, he holds it until we go, and we've had success every time.

Now, for Number Two ... he's still sneaky. It primarily happens during nap time. I'm not too worried because I know it will just come with time. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. But (if he doesn't go Number Two), he stays dry during naps and all night, so I know he's learning.

Phew! In some ways, this hasn't been as hard as I thought, and yet it was still exhausting, so it did take a lot of work.

I'll let you know how the rest of it goes (ha, ha) when the time comes.

Time to get back to hanging out with the family in this crazy winter wonderland!

Have a lovely day.

EDIT: Y'all. As soon as I pushed the "Publish Post" button, Cub had an accident. HA! How's that for the Law of Parental Blogging? As soon as you say one thing, the child does another. So, no more posts about potty training!!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Cooped Up and Stuffed.

I opened my front door this morning and discovered a snow drift that was almost up to my chest. The wind is howling outside, creating spontaneous white-out conditions, which I find to be just a tad unnerving.

This snow storm is probably the biggest one I've witnessed since living in Oklahoma. Treacherous ice is typically our forte, so seeing blizzard warnings is honestly a tad bizarre. It isn't so much the snowfall, it's the WIND. The snow doesn't even have a chance to fall before it gets pushed all over the place by the heaving gusts. My family is from New England, so I know they are used to these kinds of storms, but here in the southern Midwest, it's a little scary!

So, thankfully, my husband is home from work and the kiddos are tucked in bed and the electricity is still on. Which means: Time to COOK!

My Menu for this storm includes:

Homemade chicken and noodle soup (I'm making my own chicken stock for the first time and it smells heavenly!), chili in a bread bowl, and white chicken chili. When I think cold, I think crock-pot. Of course, I had to make sure that my menu was also stovetop-compatable, in case we lose power (we have a gas range). I'm also planning big breakfasts (sausage, biscuits, cinnamon rolls, eggs, pancakes, etc.) and lazy lunches like toasted pita bread stuffed with banana, honey, and peanut butter. I guess I really want my family to be WARM, and this food all says WARM to me! Ooo, and a good cup of hot coco or coffee. Yum.

So, friends, what does your menu look like when you look out the windows and see white? Or, if you see white all the time during the winter months, what are your favorite comfort foods?

Have a lovely day!