7QT: Lucy Likes Cheese

21 October 2016

Our little girl turns three tomorrow, so here are some of her gems from the last year.

>> 1 <<

Lucy: Look at my mouf.
Me: What's wrong with it?
Lucy: There's nothing in it.

>> 2 <<

Lucy: I don't want chocolate chips in my muffin. I want them in my hand.

>> 3 <<

Lucy: I don't like bears. They will eat me. They will put me in their mouf.
And if they put me in their mouf, I can't put anyfing in my mouf.

(She also routinely bites her fingers because they get in the way of her overzealous teeth. Is this normal?)

>> 4 <<

While the boys are playing a raucous game of indoor soccer:
Lucy (yelling): Who's ready to pway pwincesses??
yells louder.
Who's ready to pway pwincesses???

>> 5 <<

While cramped together in the pack-n-play, in a game of Jake's devising:

Jake: Officer LJ, begin the launch sequence!
Lucy June: I'm Pwincess Leia!
Jake: Officer LJ, begin the launch sequence!!!
Lucy June: OKAY!!

>> 6 <<

Lucy June: Hey little daddy!
Jacob: Call me big papa.

>> 7 <<

She's also started calling her big brother "Jakey" - no one else does this.

>> 7.5 <<
Lucy June (pretending to sleep): Honk shhhh honk shhhh

We love you LuzJune! Happy Birthday!

Go see Kelly for more takes!

7QT - Messes Minimalism Macrame

14 October 2016

Happy Friday!

I'm four days into a Whole 30 and...it's fine. Pretty boring really. I've been making our regular food but substituting out the best parts.

Last night we ate spaghetti squash carbonara and Jacob liked it as much as the regular one which boasts both ricotta and parmesan.  The night before that we ate gumbo.

We eat gumbo every week in the okra season. Every year I forget just how long the okra season is, and sometime in August after a couple months of gumbo I start saying: "This might be our last gumbo of the season!" And then I say that every week or so until... well at least until October!


I've been knitting again. I started up again in August even though it was still super humid and hot and was until last week. For whatever reason this time the bug has taken less of a "scarf" tone and has got me ducking into Hobby Lobby to buy double pointed needles and cable stitch holders. And I'm probably doomed for failure or at least VERY SLOW progress, but whaddya do when you got the itch?

I do love having a relatively contained craft project that I can pick up for a few minutes here and there when the kids are playing well together.

I just finished some fingerless gloves that took a very long time to complete and ended up...kinda bulky. Or maybe they just felt bulky for Houston in October where we've barely graduated out of swimsuits? Maybe I'll send them to Christy at Fountains of Snow.

I also just finished a hat for a friend. Turns out it fits Roman. So...baby steps!


I've also been dabbling in macrame. A friend asked if I could make her a wall hanging and my inner bohemian just lit right up. Unlike knitting, making wall hangings with ropes doesn't really lend itself to grabby baby hands, so I'm not sure how sustainable it is as a mom craft.


I've been trying to teach Jake some knots. His self-taught knots are killing me especially when they involve tying to untangle the cords he's used to tie all of our stools and chairs together in a big clump in the middle of the dining room.

So slip knot! slip knot!


Are you cleaner or is your spouse/roommate?

Jacob has always been the orderly one in the relationship, and it's been an uphill climb for me over seven years of marriage to learn to stop throwing dirty clothes on the floor. We'd been married a year or so when I realized the messes in our house were *always* mine. I maybe would have noticed sooner if he'd ever complained about my messes, but he didn't. To my credit, if someone cleans the bathroom it's me. Jacob almost never cleans, and he hates picking up other people's messes, but otherwise he's super nice about his neatfreakishness.

The other day as Jacob washed dinner dishes and I did the final sweep after the kids had gone to bed, I mused about how we do a much better job keeping our house looking alright than we used to - even before we had kids. It's mostly the need to tame the madness of three kids + avoid Houston roaches.

I was feeling pretty darn good about it actually, so I asked Jacob how clean he would say our house was. He said: "Rarely clean and nominally orderly." Then I gave him crap because what the heck is "nominally orderly" - so he amended it to "Rarely clean and rarely orderly."

I just started laughing. I would describe our house - the same house - as "tolerably clean and generally orderly." I wasn't even offended. I'm still not offended. I am mostly just relieved that my standards are as low as they are.


I've been reading (...listening to, because knitting) Kim John Payne's Simplicity Parenting recently and it's inspired me to get rid of more toys.

We've run a pretty tight ship from the beginning when it comes to toys around here - mostly thanks to my mother and her willingness to adopt all the plastic, noisy, electronic or otherwise offensive toys that come our way - so I'm pretty much the choir when it comes to Payne's preaching. But every time I do a round of toy culling, the effect is 100% positive.

We're down to Legos, Duplos, matchbox cars, a few baby toys, dress up clothes, a toy kitchen with toy cooking utensils, and a basket of scarves with string and clothespins. Playdough is tucked away in a closet as are a few puzzles and toys with too many pieces for unsupervised play.

Now that I list that all out it's actually sounding a little overstimulating, so I might have to go purge.


The biggest byproduct of toy minimalism is that when within five minutes of finishing breakfast all of our stools, cushions, blankets, and wooden spoons have been pressed into the service of the Resistance and its noble effort against the First Order, there aren't as many toys on the floor as there used to be.

Happy Weekend! And go see Kelly and the other quick takers!

Whole 30 Here We Go!

11 October 2016

Kids sharing some non-Whole-30-friendly fare:
I'm starting a Whole 30 today.

So many people I know online and at home are doing one, that I thought I should take advantage of the train and jump right on...one day late. My little brother's doing it. And I think I talked my little sister into it with a frantic text at 10 o'clock last night. So: moral support!

Last time when I did something like this I only committed to ten days and then took about ten days to mentally prepare for it. This time I'm trying the jump right in tactic. We'll see how it takes.

So there. Now I've told you, which I hope will kick my external motivation into gear.

Coffee is the biggest hurdle for me when it comes to the Whole 30. I love coffee. And I love it my way, which involves milk or half and half or cream...or all three?

I get terrible headaches without coffee - which probably means I should get off caffeine altogether and drink chicken broth in the mornings or something - but I love me a cup of jo.

So depending on whether this morning's bulletproof coffee experiment takes, my Whole 30 may include a big fat half and half in my coffee exception.

And legumes. I'll also eat legumes. For all the paleolovers of the last decade trying to hate on legumes, I'm still pretty pro.

I'm also banking on fall being a relatively easy time to do a Whole 30 because of hard squashes and soup weather.

That's my blurb! I'd love any tips if you've got 'em!

Ro Baby Update

22 August 2016

Romie is almost one. We took him to the pediatrician yesterday for a 9mo (12mo?) visit and while we were there I dug up pics on the blog from Jake's first birthday and Lucy June's first birthday. All the blog scrolling showed me just how much I'd forgotten about what J and L were like as babies. When I wrote stuff down, I was sure I would NEVER forget it...but I have...the blog confirms it.

So I thought I needed to do a post dedicated to the RoBird before I forget his entire babyhood.

I'm pretty sure he's a leftie, even though Jacob thinks I'm wrong.

He's still big. 97% across the board. Because he's been in 18-24mo clothes since he was six months old, clothes have never really fit him right. The soft-knits of babyhood have always worn more like sausage casings and pants always skew capri.
He took his first step at 10.5 months old. We were at the library for storytime and I was following him around as he crawled among the board books when he stood up and took a few steps. There they were: his VERY FIRST STEPS! And we were in a storytime full of toddlers, so nobody noticed or cared. Except for me! And I cared a lot! Such is parenthood.
This makes him our earliest walker. He's the most "physical" of any of the babies we've had yet. When he walks, he'll just start barreling forward until he falls down. He climbs up on and falls off of everything. I've even seen him trying to climb out of his crib. His favorite thing is to crawl all over people who are lying on the ground and smash his face on them, especially Jake. He has recently started pointing at stuff - which he does with his whole body, his arm shoots out straight and he cocks his head down so that his shoulder smushes against his cheek.

He doesn't have any words yet - a fact that I was 0% concerned about until the pediatrician recommended we start reading to him. At the time it sounded like such a lunacy, but the pendulum has swung and I'm already feeling guilty that he hasn't gotten any rounds in with Goodnight Moon... or any book for that matter. 

He's probably the best natured of any of our babies so far. He notices people. He's generally pretty chill. He loves being in the thick of it with his two older sibs and is quickly branding himself as the dumb jock sort.

Finally, I had the pediatrician take a look at his mouth issue and we got an official diagnosis: snaggletooth.
We'll probably take him to a pediatric dentist at some point once the tooth grows in a little bit, but for now...we'll just keep on loving him. Snaggletooth and all.

7QT: Back on the Blog Bus with Old School Quick Takes

19 August 2016

Alright. The baby is asleep maybe for another half hour and the big kids are playing and I only have about eight things I want to get done before the baby wakes up...so blog for the first time in months it is!

- 1 -
We've been poking along with the remodel.

Yesterday we took out the ratty old fireplace that was a big black scar in the living room. Immediately after Jacob pushed it out, it started pouring rain. We felt PRETTY stupid because it's only rained every day this week and it's only supposed to rain every day for the next week, and there was no reason we needed to do the fireplace project right away. So...let's just say that got done more quickly than most things around here.
But now it's done and the rusty black metal box is gone! Don't mind the wall art - it's all out of wack because we used to have the TV where we now have...a skull. Trendy but also kind of a gnarly skull because we found it while tromping around my folks' place.

- 2 -
Remodeling with babies = barricades

- 3 -
Speaking of babies, ours is walking and therefore falling a lot. The other day he fell and hit his mouth and started bleeding where he's cutting a tooth. Ouch, right? He really wasn't bleeding very much, so we weren't concerned. I took a closer look at his mouth yesterday, and where there is supposed to be one tooth, it's like he has two teeth coming in?
Could he possibly have chipped the tooth? Or split it? Or is this its natural shape and maybe that's why a little face bonk made him bleed?

We have a pediatrician appointment Monday, so we should have answers soon...

- 4 -
Gretchen Rubin in Better than Before talks about how some people are stressed by the prospect of running out of something and other people are stressed by having too much. I think she uses the terms "abundance" vs "simplicity."

She says people who like simplicity will feel a little stressed when they buy a big bag of oatmeal, but a sense of relief when they've finished it all. People who like abundance will have the opposite experience.

I'm like 1000% the kind of person who prefers simplicity. Not that I'm some kind of Marie Kondo Master. My house isn't a paragon of elegant minimalism with the pristine fig tree in the corner of the living room. But emotionally speaking I find "abundance" stressful.

She also says people who prefer simplicity will even feel relieved when things break and have to get thrown away. Me to a T.

- 5 -
This is one of the reasons I love the library. Yesterday I renewed my library card and went on like a thirty book hold spree. It's all the fun of shopping without any of the stress of new things!

- 6 -
I had to renew my library card because we've been living in Houston for three whole years now. Three years! It feels shorter and it feels longer.

We're approaching our one year anniversary in this house which means we've stayed here longer than any other house in Houston, and we don't have plans to move until next summer! But that is another story...and maybe I'll even tell it to you now that I'm blogging again (ha!)

- 7 -
We went to Hawaii with a big group of dear friends and my whole family. The experience was too perfect for words, but thankfully my very talented friend took a lot of pictures. Here's a photo dump:

Happy Weekend! Go see Kelly!

On Fear, Failure, and Self-Care

21 July 2016

My thoughts on this are pretty muddled, but if I wait for them to clarify I won't hit publish on this post until 2017, and in the interest of not going even longer without a blog post here goes nothing.

I've always equated self-care with treating myself.

Perhaps I'm the only person in the world with this misconception and thus this little piece of writing is pointless, but maybe some of you are like me.

Maybe some of you say the words self-care and you conjure up images of tea lights illuminating a bathtub full of rose petals. Maybe you think a book in a comfy chair. Maybe wine and chocolate or my newest weakness Glutino Yogurt Pretzels. 

I had a really hard time after my third baby was born. Really hard. He's ten months old now, and I'm mostly out of the proverbial woods, but I can still see them in my rearview, and sometimes they're closer than they appear. (#pun #set #spike) 

I've learned that self-care is much better understood as: doing the hard but necessary things for myself. I'm talking things like going to the dentist or the dermatologist. Making my bed. Exercising. And on particularly hard days: eating.

Self-care is tricky for me because I'm largely externally motivated (Thank You, Gretchen) - I do great when someone dangles the proverbial carrot, but not so great when I need to make a change for myself.

This is too bad. Really really too bad. I've thought a lot about what it means to be externally motivated, and I've found that at least for me it's closely linked to my fear of failure.

FAILURE is my self-elected word for 2016.

Halfway through the year and I'm no more comfortable with failure, but I'm committed to thinking about my failures as learning opportunities. (Thank you, Carol.)
For me, failure has a lot to do with how people perceive me. I HATE letting people down. This fear of letting people down has driven so many of my childhood and adult decisions. Only now am I beginning to let go of my people-pleasing obsession, because mama just can't anymore.

Here's the kicker: the only place that I've been OK with failure is when I let myself down. If I'm the only person affected by my failure, if I'm the only person I'm letting down, then nobody sees the failure and the failure doesn't count.

Because I don't count.

I tend to live a narrative that is simultaneously self-obsessed (what must they think of me??) and self-neglectful (you're only letting yourself down and that's ok).

People talk about self-worth, and I always thought I had plenty of it, but the honest truth is that I don't always live like it. I thought I could confidently say the words "I am enough," (Thank you, Brene), but I don't live like I am enough.

So I've turned myself into a third person, and for the time being it seems to be working. I'm constantly repeating mantras. Things like:

You're a person too.

Someone needs to take care of your children's mother.

Don't confuse self-sacrifice with self-neglect.

I've been working on this. I've been taking time for myself: I'm making sure I get myself fed and showered. I'm making it a priority to exercise and hydrate. I'm getting up early. I'm even taking time to pursue meaningful hobbies - even when that means I have to pay or obligate someone to watch my kids.

I'm realizing just how hard self-care is.
I'm seeing the effects of taking better care of myself. It's not all roses, but I'm having glimpses. I'm having moments when I'm with my kids and I'm simply with them. I see how beautiful they are, and I just sit with that reality: I'm not itching to tackle eight things on my to do list or counting down the seconds till naps.

It feels good.

Detoxed - The Habits I Hope to Keep

05 May 2016

So I did it. I "detoxed." My last post had me thinking about it, and now it's done.

Ten days of no sugar, dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, caffeine (!!).

Ten days of early rising and nightly epsom salt baths. I oil pulled and did honey masks and dry brushed my skin and kept a gratitude journal. I never skipped my vitamins and got a lot of extra fiber. I've wanted to do something like this for a long time. The only other time I tried a protocol like this I lasted for about 18 hours before I crumpled onto the couch and Jacob force-fed me some toast.

It started out with a two day caffeine headache. And the morning of day three I was completely shaky and nauseated until Jacob made me my very elaborate smoothie and I got my blood sugar back up.
He refused to make it again and said something about wanting to support this "experience" but not wanting to be my sherpa. Fair enough.

After the awful Day 3, I upped my starchy vegetable intake and did better. After I got over the initial headaches and general aches, I just felt kinda normal. I don't know what I expected: maybe to bolt out of bed in the mornings and do jumping jacks to the bathroom or something?

But I felt good about myself - I was proud of myself - and I liked that.

Anyhooo. Here are some of the practices from the ten days that I want to keep up.

Oil Pulling
I've oil pulled on and off throughout the years. My teeth tend to be sensitive, and they're noticeably less sensitive when I'm oil pulling. I've been doing intermittent oil-pulling for the past couple months, but on the detox I didn't miss a day. I would get up, get my spoonful of oil, and swish while I went about my morning routine. I just went to the dentist on Monday and wanna know something: NO CAVITIES. Every time I've gone do the dentist since having babies I've had between 2-4 new cavities. This time: none. I even had him double check the two teeth my last dentist said had cavities that I didn't have filled. Nada.

So maybe you're not a believer, in which case, please don't cramp my placebo.

Dry Skin Brushing
I love dry skin brushing. (I use this brush.) My skin feels so much softer when I'm doing it regularly. The naturophiles make a lot of claims about dry skin brushing - some even involving cellulite. I never believed this, but now that I've been doing it pretty regularly, I'm just gonna cross all my fingers and say...maybe?

Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is straight fiber. I purchased it in a powder form and for the whole ten days, I took an extra ~500mg throughout day mixed in water. It doesn't taste great, and downing a glass of gelatinous muck isn't fun, but...let's just say... on the southside it's great. I didn't have any complaints before, but now...I didn't know what I was missing.

Omega 3 Daily
My eyes have been dry in the morning for the last month or so, and my optometrist said Omega 3s. In the past I've only taken them while I'm pregnant, but the detox got me back on board, and it's already helping a lot. I take this one.

More Nuts and Seeds in my Smoothies
Traditionally, I only make smoothies in the summer and when I do they taste like milkshakes. I throw in some spinach and call it good even though it's a sugar bomb. During the detox I had a daily powerhouse of a smoothie with berries, brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, flax, chia, hemp and avocado. We have a Vitamix which creamed everything right up, and I did find it carried me really well all morning.

Taking Baths the Right Way at the Right Time
I'm not really a bath person. I find them kind of a hassle. But I got into the nightly bath during the detox. Not the bath part so much, but the things that surrounded it.

1) I would draw the bath for myself first, swish the epsom salts around, add a little essential oil. Then I would go change into a robe, and waltz into the bathroom like someone else had drawn me a bath and I could just slip in. Decadence is in the detail.

2) After the bath, I would put fresh pjs on and crawl into bed. I'm the type that wears the tank top I've had on all day instead of pajamas, and I pretty much always seems to have spit up or drool on me, so this whole being clean and having clean clothes and crawling into clean sheets was really awesome.

Ditching my Phone at Night
I've been meaning to get off screens at night for such a long time, and now I'm finally in the swing of it. While I'll still watch TV with Jacob, I've tried not to to read on screens at night. I have no idea if this is helping me sleep because I still have a baby that wakes up a lot, but I know it helps my heart. I do better if I don't lull myself to sleep with online articles and instead open up my:

Gratitude Journal
I've started journaling. Good ole fashioned hand written journaling. Sometimes I'll write for awhile, but usually I'll just list a few things from the day that I am grateful for, then examination-of-conscience style, I'll jot down the things I wish I'd done better, and end with some positive self-talk as I remember what I did well. I'm pretty self-critical, so this last step is crucial for me.

There you have it, friends! Until next time!

Thinking about Detoxing

11 April 2016

The two littlest are working their way through Roseola. Roman was a pretty high maintenance little invalid, but Lucy June is sweeter than sweet. She lies on the couch and every once in a while lets out a melodramatic sigh and says: "I'm shick." 

When Jake was a baby, he was so rarely sick. Now that we have three littles, it feels like someone always has something: a runny nose, a rash, a cut we're making sure doesn't get infected. Weirdly, this malady-train has taught me about living in the moment. I want my kids to be well. I try to keep them healthy, but ultimately I can't control whether or not they get sick, so I have to let go. I also can't wait for the moment when everyone is simultaneously OK to finally relax because that moment may never come. I have to learn how to hold a beautiful Sunday evening in one hand and a feverish toddler in the other. 
That said. All the little sickies have got me thinking about some kind of detox. 

I'll (roughly) follow Mark Hyman's 10 Day Detox which is a lot like the Whole 30, but only ten days and with lots of specifically detoxing foods. Hyman is the president of the Institute of Functional Medicine. I listened to a lecture of his about biological food addiction, and then I got his book from the library, and now I'm worried that I'm a little too dependent on high glycemic foods. His detox involves daily exercise and a powerhouse of a smoothie in the mornings and a lot of journaling and reflection and Epsom salt baths in the evening. It also discourages screens before bed. So it would have me commit to ten days of new routines that I might want to implement.

People swear by by low-glycemic protocols, and I want to see how mine does on one. I'm starting to have those lovely complaints like brain fog and dry eyes and puffiness and junk in my throat in the mornings. I'm starting to feel older. And instead I want to feel me some optimum wellness

I tend to turn my nose up at detoxes probably because I'm pretty bad at doing them. I'm really good at eating mostly healthfully: lots of veggies and salads and intentional this and that, but I'm terrible if I have to give up my coffee/cookie mornings and wine/chocolate evenings. Terrible. I can forgo the occasional kettle-cooked potato chip binge, ice cream, yogurt covered pretzels, strong margaritas, and big hamburgers, but if I mess with my coffee or my wine or their attendants, we're talking toddler levels of brain integration and mood management. Once I wrap my brain around that hurdle I'll be on my way.

So that's what I've been thinking about. Since yesterday anyway. I'm writing it here because - as Gretchen Rubin has convinced me - I'm one of those unfortunate people who needs external obligations to get stuff done. And since Jacob has zero desire to ever ever do anything like this with me, you, little blog, get the job.

 No commitments yet, though. Still just planning. [And Jacob's somewhere laughing.]

More JakeTalk

01 April 2016

Even though I posted some kiddo talk like five minutes ago, I just found these in my drafts, and had to share them before they got too dusty.

>> 1 <<
Jake: How old are you?
Me: 30
Jake: But Papa's 30 and he's a lot bigger than you.
Jake: Is he 30 and a half?

>> 2 <<
While the kids were playing with their uncle who fell down lifeless on the couch for ten long seconds:
Jake: Oh shut, Lucy June. I think he's really dead.
>> 3 <<
After biting his cheek:
Jake: I accidentally ate myself.

>> 4 <<
Overheard from the other room:
Jake: OK, Lucy, this is gonna hurt a little bit.

>> 5 <<
Jake: It's deleeeeeeeeeecious.
Me: What's deleeecious?
Jake: Deleeeecious is so so happy it's Mary tickling Jesus in your heart.
(Hashtag catechesis)
>> 6 <<
After introducing him to his little brother, Roman John:
Jake: (disappointed)...oh...I thought we were going to name him El Tio.

>> 7 <<
Jake: The other day on Nana Suzie and Opie's porch, we heard a sound like a squeaky toy, so I went ta go see what it was. I said it was a snake, but Papa said snakes don't squeak. But it was a snake eating a frog whole. He was swallowing it. And there was another frog literally watching the scene while his brother got ate.

And that, my friends, is a true story. I can verify all of it except the family status of the frogs.
Pics from The Rock where Jacob took little Jake camping and fed him bacon, chocolate, and marshmallows for breakfast.

(Jake: But mostly just chocolate and marshmallows)

Linking up with Kelly for ole times sake.

Before and After: Our First Remodel

30 March 2016

Remember once upon a time when we bought a house with two of my brothers and remodeled it? Maybe you noticed that we moved out of it, and I never mentioned it on the blog again? A couple readers (literally two) have asked to see pictures of that effort. Here I go channeling my inner Joanna Gaines and making good. These are some of the original listing photos followed by our listing photos after the remodel.


Backyard Before
Backyard After

 Living Before

Living After

Bedroom Before
Bedroom After
Guest Bath Before
This is actually the after pics of the Master Bath...but you get the idea:
Kitchen Before
Kitchen After

Sigh. That felt good

We are elbow deep in our second remodel project right now, and it hasn't gone as smoothly and we're learning a lot. Like I've spent the last month learning how to solo parent at my folk's place while Jacob redoes the sewer line. I've been a real sport about it.

Happy Wednesday! Hope you enjoyed the pics!
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