Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Empowering Women, my "Inner-View"

"Inner-view" Q & A 
Empowering Women to Stand Up, Stand Tall, Stand Strong.

1. Please catch us up to share where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you would like to go from here. (specific to your transformation)

OK where I have been. I have been, in my short time alive, the liver of at least a few lives. One of my friends once joked, after hearing me tell my story, that I should be at least 97 years old. I have had a lot of experiences, both good and very ugly, and count myself incredibly blessed with being a rather quick study. I learn and move on from mistakes and poor choices rather than linger in them for too long.

I grew up in a standard middle class home, and was raised by my father. My mother left when I was 5 years old, and I grew up the oldest of 2 children, with a younger brother.  When I was 12, my dad remarried, to a woman that, had the stories not been written more than a century before, might have actually been the  literary inspiration for the "wicked stepmother" of Grimm's fairytale lore. Ironically, my mother also chose for her second marriage, a man who did not care for children. In hindsight, most especially as a parent myself, their choices are hard to understand. 

I excelled in school, and loved learning. I was an honors student at the top of my class and had been 7th semester early accepted to an amazing college. My 8th semester of high school, however, for the first time in my life, I had attracted the attention of a guy, and a much older guy at that. As a girl who had never been viewed as... a girl in the romantic sense, I jumped headfirst and blindly into a relationship I had no experience nor anywhere near enough emotional maturity enough to successfully navigate. I had never been taught what a healthy relationship encompassed and I didn't have the "proving ground" of puppy love and high school boyfriend drama that the bulk of my peers had gained in their years of school. I was the definition of book smart, street stupid.

By the time I graduated from high school, just 3 months later, I was an unwed, teenage pregnancy statistic. The poster child to prove to all the kids that "Yes, you can get pregnant the first time you have sex!" Had you asked anyone who had ever met me, to make a list of girls they thought might get pregnant in high school, I guarantee my name would have been on exactly zero of them. Instead of Yale, I started college as a single mother, a year later than all my friends, and stayed close to home at Arizona State.

After college, I went to work in a large hospital lab, and became an administrator. It was at that time that I met my husband. After we were married, I became very ill. I underwent a number of surgeries and numerous other treatments over the next 2 years that followed. It was a grueling experience that helped bring me closer to God. I got to see, being one of the youngest people in the hospital, chemotherapy infusion room, and radiology labs, a glimpse of the people who lived and died during that period. While sobering and sad, it was also uniquely prophetic and educational. I saw nutrition for the first time EVER in my life, as medicine. I saw healing occur in people. I saw laughter and humor and their power in the process of making a person whole. In all, the experiences I got out of all the years of health issues brought far more good into my life than bad. Of course, being upright after a prognosis that should have had me 6 feet under more than a decade ago will add a rose colored hue to any person's perspective. 

Over the course of being sick and eventually returning to health, in addition to my mental and spiritual improvement, my body understandably underwent quite a transformation as well. All my life I had been overweight. I had hit an all time high after my first child was born of 285 lbs. On my 5'2" frame, I was morbidly obese by clinical standards. Well, after those years on that medical thrill ride, I had left behind most of that weight. I call it another perk. I am a fan of silver linings, I guess. 

After recovering from yet another surgery, I found myself unexpectedly pregnant with our second child. The doctors told me that if I wanted to have more children, we would have to have them back to back. The risks of having time between pregnancies could allow some of my health issues to return, making problems for my unborn child and for me. 

I had 4 very high risk pregnancies in 5 years. All told, I had spent the better part of a decade in and out of hospitals and surgical suites. My body was very run down.

I have also struggled since my teen years with depression, and felt it very heavily after each of my children were born. So the year after my youngest son was born, I needed to rebuild my strength, bodily, mentally, and spiritually.  It was rough and I spent a lot of time in prayer. In hindsight it was only logical to have been going through that rocky patch, but in the middle of it, the weight was much harder to bear, the blessings that were abundant in my life and screamingly apparent to the world around me were hidden in the thick of that stifling mist that defines depression.

That was incredibly long winded, but that is who I was. It was instrumental in shaping who I am now, which is a blessed daughter of an infinitely merciful savior, the wife, gal Friday, and permanent Valentine to the cutest and most joyfully loving man I know, homeschooling mom to a houseful of rowdy and brilliant children, a small business owner, writer, lover of life, and drinker of coffee.  

Where do I hope to go from here? I feel that I had this life, these experiences, this story for the express purpose of becoming a woman who can help other women. I realize I have been called to do so. My hope is to be able to speak the truth of hope into any heart who will hear it. 

2. What is an example of you standing on your own two feet?  And, if you would like, an example of when you didn’t.

When I found myself to be pregnant at 18, the "choice" of abortion came instantly into the conversation by my son's father and by my mother. I put the word into quotation marks because it never seemed like a choice. It was absolutely ludicrous to me and I wanted no part of that discussion at all. The thought of thinking about it as a clinical procedure without blinking an eye was actually physically repulsive to me, and if I am honest, it made me bitter toward anyone who would suggest such a thing with such a cavalier attitude. For me, that is the one moment in my life where I said NO. There was no middle ground, grey area or room for discussion. No child that God had entrusted me with was going to be talked about or viewed as an inconvenience or less than the miraculous human being he was then, and at 17 years old, is today. I thank The Lord for giving me the words and the strength to be that champion for my son

3. How did you learn to be a woman who can stand up, stand tall and stand strong? 

I am, and always will be, a learner. I seek always to have a teachable spirit and to learn the lessons God has for me in the moment I am in. I have learned that every person I encounter has something of value, and I need to hear the words they have to say. 

I have always been a believer in finding people who have what you want. Not materially, but in their person: the way they talk, carry themselves, interact with others, people whose spirits speak to yours. Associate with those people. We become like those we keep company with. Make the company you keep reflect the person you are becoming. Peers and mentors should lift you higher. 

4. How do you allow others to see you as your authentic self?  

I am only close to a very select few people. Even among my closest friends, only my husband truly knows and has seen my whole heart. I once heard a speaker give an illustration of a sniper surrounded on all sides by a very high wall. He shoots everyone who tries to come over that wall. But the ones who make it over are friends for life. I thought that was a very accurate depiction of how friendship works for me.  

My authentic self is only ever truly represented in the words that I write. I find myself always bungling and second guessing myself when I talk out loud. My thoughts seem to flow more rationally in my head when I am able to write them down, and I don't have to do battle with the panic and doubt that is always nagging at the edge of my thoughts, as I do when I speak.

5. How do you know when it isn’t safe for you to share your authentic self?

It's really kind of a default view for me. I am guarded, by my nature. I have to be very comfortable to share anything, let alone parts of myself.

 6. How does standing in your own strength relate to the healthy relationships you have with yourself, your family, friends and others?  

Knowing who I am and whose I am is what defines how I interact with people now. It is easiest to illustrate with relationships that have historically been more strained and difficult for me in my life. My relationship with some of my family members come to mind. I had, in my past, been more submissive or passive in some of my relationships, which is to say I was a doormat to dominant and aggressive behavior. I would let things that upset me fester internally. My emotions went straight to my stomach when I was a child and teenager. I would let worry, anger, and stress eat me up from the inside. It's then not surprising to learn that my stomach is the area of my body that illnesses most often spring up in. Even when things did not effect me directly, I would hold onto negative emotions.

Now, I can see a little more clearly. I am very intentional about my life and my family (meaning my husband and children) being my own. I no longer cast myself back into the role of passive child. This was really huge for me because it took me a very long time. I was almost 30 years old and the mother of 7 children before I took ownership of my own world, and no longer granted former authority figures to a controlling influence over me. It made an enormous difference in my family's dynamic, to say the least. 

Standing in your own strength gives you the power to say NO without apology. It makes your priorities valid to the people around you. It demands respect from those who recognize it. Most importantly, it casts you in the role of leading lady in your own life. This is imperative, given it is the role you were created to play. 

 7. How do you pull yourself back up after making a mistake?  What do you tell yourself?

We all make mistakes. I have made more than my fair share in my life. There are those who love and will always love to hold over our heads, the sins of our past. I used to allow that and really marinate in it, beating myself up over and over. I have found that people who are particularly unhappy in their own life are only too thrilled to serve you up a big steaming plate of your past disappointments and bad choices, with a smile and a shrug. 

In a word, the way I get through this is Jesus. He granted me grace and died for my shame. One of my favorite verses in the bible is one that I hold to tightly. The Lord's love never ends; his mercies never stop. They are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)  This is His comforting word to me, especially now, in the season of life I am in, as a mother of many, I constantly struggle with the question "Am I good enough to be their mother?" His word tells me that even if I'm not (and I'm NOT), He is. I am confident that I am going to screw up. A lot. I'm a flesh and blood human. I am more confident that He is standing in the gap of my shortcomings, and that He is more than enough. 

 8. What is your greatest risk you’ve taken and how did that help you build courage to take other risks?

I guess the biggest risk I have taken is to become self employed, with the security net of an amazing level-headed husband/partner by my side. Business ownership is always a gamble with a pretty significant statistical possibility of failure. But being a small business owner in a small town has been hugely impactful in seeing risks as the opportunities they are. I have found out very quickly the value of networking with quality people. The importance of interdependence and loyalty is evident in ways I had never realized. I now understand the term, and appreciate the appeal of "serial entrepreneurship." It is a bug that I am glad to have caught. It is a total immersion education that can truthfully be described as "failing your way forward"  

9. Have you ever been bullied?  And if so, how did you handle it?

I mean, there were mean girls in my life, but no, I can't say I was ever bullied. I could always perceive when someone didn't care for me, but I never had anyone be malicious or ugly towards me. 

10. What would you like other women to know about you, your transformation, your life, or? 

I would like to be as transparent as possible. The most inspiring women I have ever met have been truly genuine and honest about their stories. They are real. They aren't untouchable perfect princesses on pedestals. If they were, I wouldn't have learned anything from them. They all overcame huge obstacles and took the time to tell me all about it. None of them were victims in their stories, they were victors, and something in each of their stories resonated within me, some piece of their life paralleled my life, which helped me to see that I could be a victor too. I want women to know they are endowed with the ability to be victorious in their life, regardless of their past, or present circumstances. I know, because I am. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

What are we going to talk about?

People like to know what a general theme of a blog is. Is it cooking, family, spiritual, health & beauty? Well in a word, yes. We are a family friendly blog, where I post on anything I feel led to share. The following is a list of the things that I may be posting on. They are topics that my life experience has educated me enough to speak intelligently enough on to not embarrass myself. So if you have any interest in any of these topics, stick around...

Large Families
Frugal Living
Christian Family Life
Raising Boys
Raising Girls
Raising young children
Raising Teenagers
Small Business Ownership
Small Town Living
Rural Country Living
Vegetarian/Vegan Lifestyle
Losing more than 150 lbs
Exercise health & fitness
Empowering Women
Christian Ministry
Personal Finance & Debt Reduction
Being a Writer
Celiac Disease
Oppositional Defiance Disorder in children
Overcoming obstacles
Beauty Tips & Tricks
Life Hacks in general
Ice Cream
Social Media Marketing
Civic Duty
Servant Leadership
Community Involvement
Giving Back
Shopping Locally
Organic Foods/Nutrition
Being a Military Family

While that seems like a crazy list, I am sure I have left some out. There you go. I'm pretty sure there isn't a blogger box big enough to stick us in, so we will just be here. Blogging away and covering some or all of the topics listed up there. Guess I better get to it. If you have any suggestions/questions, I would love to hear from you in the comments or on our facebook page 


Victory 101 Progress


Today marks 17 days into my 101 day challenge to better health. Checking in with some of the highlights.

Height: 5' 2"

Starting Weight: 130
Weight Week 1 (Day 7): 126
Weight Week 2 (Day 14): 125
Total Weight loss to date: 5 lbs

Waist Measurements
Starting: 28 inches
Week 1: 27 inches
Week 2: 26 1/2 inches
Total loss to date: 1 1/2 inches

Hip Measurements
Starting: 35 inches
Week 1: 34 1/2 inches
Week 2: 34 inches
Total loss to date: 1 inch

Mile Run Timed Test
Starting: 14:42
Week 1: 11:22
Week 2: 9:35
Improved by 5 minutes, 7 seconds!!! in 2 weeks!

Also,  I have been able to increase my weights each week, and went from a 30 second plank, to 3 sets of 60 second planks! 

So yep I am pretty excited about my progress so far. 

On the diet front, coffee has been a beast without my beloved half & half, but I really saw that coming, since I have tried non dairy plant based creamers before and never found one that I loved. Cheese and eggs haven't been as much of an issue as I thought. I found substitutes that work, but I can very easily just go without as well. 

My goals going into February are to do the month with a raw vegan diet, focusing mainly on juices and smoothies made from fresh produce, nuts and seeds. I will be back with another update soon! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

My father's daughter

I always identified with Elinor Dashwood, the older sister in Jane Austen's classic Sense and Sensibility, formal, cautious and guarded to a fault. I was so grateful when I met her character on those pages. Until then, I had never been able to make peace with my nature. Like Elinor, I am an introvert to the fiber of my being. In college I was called the world's oldest 18 year old, an old soul, rip tide beneath still waters, and intense. My more romantic spin on it is the notion of housing a love so large that it can't easily find a way out. I deal in the not very valuable currency of silent revelry. I marinate in life, studying, watching, analyzing. My life consists of always feeling emotion with close to zero ability to adequately express it. When I do talk, I find myself kicking myself in regret for things I said, forgot to say, or wish I had said, leaving me always wishing for a do over...or better yet, wanting to write a letter to clarify my end of the conversation. As a result of my being...well, all of that, relationships in my life have many times been hindered, stalled, and sometimes even dissolved totally in the wake of a personality that is hard for people to understand or appreciate. What seems practically impossible for me to say, however, I have no trouble writing. For whatever reason, this is my voice.

I realize much of who I am is closely connected to who my father is, a quiet man who works hard and enjoys home. As a child, I remember his presence always as one of steady constancy and security. I see so much in my adult self that similarly parallel memories I have of him from my childhood. One in particular stands forever etched in my memory. Obviously, I didn't see it at the time for the life defining moment that it was.

At age seventeen, I had worked hard for over a year to earn my church's Young Women's Recognition Award. It was a big deal for me and carried the same status for a girl as an Eagle Scout Badge would for a boy. My dad had always quietly attended and supported my school activities like sports, concerts or academic awards, but somehow, nothing could compel him to do the same when it came to my church activities. It was something I understood and never questioned. I don't remember ever even thinking about it. It was always just assumed that he wouldn't be present for those events.
On this night, I remember the other girls and their families admiring their awards and the necklaces that were given to signify the work they had done. I felt that unsavory feeling pop up, just for a second, just that tiny twinge of jealousy. I was the only girl without her family there to celebrate the milestone. It vanished as quickly as it came, and one of my youth leaders came over, hugged me and handed me flowers. She then placed two pieces of paper in my hands. The top was a typed white sheet with a yellow lined notebook sheet underneath. 

The rest of this memory, for me, happens in slow motion. Looking down, I read. I stopped, looked up at her, then back down to re-read it. I read it over and over about half a dozen times, looking up and down from her face to the page between each reading. I was stunned. It was one of the only true moments of surprise in my life. My face must have registered this as well as the fact that I didn't understand. It wasn't computing.

"Well, your dad doesn't always make it out to these things" she began. She was a sweet woman and chose such a gracious way of saying he had never darkened the doorstep of the church. " So I went over to your house and asked him to write something, a memory he had of you, that you could keep"

I looked down at the paper again. She continued "I typed it up, but then thought you might like the one he wrote too"
I pulled the second page to the top. It was torn from the yellow lined notepad he always had on his desk. The same words were written as the typed sheet, but the sight of his familiar tidy block lettering staring back at me was overwhelming.

When Coleen was 5 years old she asked for a rainbow to be painted in her room. She loved to go outside after the rain, searching for rainbows, and wanted to have one where she could always look at it. So on a hot afternoon in the middle of the summer, we painted an enormous rainbow that took up the entire length of her bedroom wall. Even as a little girl, she knew to look for the beauty after a time of trouble. Coleen has endured a lot of storms in her life, and now, with the life she has chosen, she is living in that rainbow.

In those words, he was there. In those words, for the first time in my life, I truly understood his love for me.
I made it out to my car before I started crying. 

To this day, it is the single most cherished memory I have of my father. Over the past twenty years, I have lost the award, the necklace, and the typewritten words, but I still cherish that yellow lined sheet from his steno pad. It is as precious to me as my wedding ring. They are both powerful and tangible evidence of the men who love me. The note helps to remind me that I am as blessed to be my father's daughter as I am to be my husband's wife.

I am painfully aware of how awkward, closed, guarded, perhaps even cold, I must appear at times to people in general. In our home, however, I try to be very intentional in rising above my nature when it comes to my emotional transparency with my family. Far from easy, it is a daily prayerful struggle, but one I see God's hand in every day. As always, I am grateful to be His work in progress. 

My prayer is that I may be continually guided in my words and actions so that each of my children will feel from me, even a fraction of the love and joy that I felt from my dad in that note twenty years ago. That, for me, would be the definition of a wholly victorious motherhood. 

Vegan Blueberry Cobbler Bars

Going vegan is a challenge. It's really not, but that is what you are supposed to say, right? Well, I mean, you have to get past the whole mental thing and thinking that all you are going to be able to eat is grass, and, yeah, that's pretty much it. Seriously that is 98% of the difficulty in adopting a plant based diet. Luckily with the invention of internet, Pinterest, Instagram, and all of the information known to man at the touch of an iPhone button, there really is no legitimate reason for letting that kind of thinking last for more than a few minutes. 

All that being said, I had a church event that I had to bring something delicious to. I am known for my "something delicious", so I couldn't disappoint just because I was eating plant based. Challenge accepted. To the internet I went for inspiration. It didn't take long before I realized that I wanted to do some kind of yummy bar, and I wanted something amazing that non-vegans would go crazy over. These looked like they would fit the bill perfectly. They even have greens in them as a bonus! These things weren't originally vegan, but by substituting other things for the butter, and honey, they very easily became vegan. I made some tweaks here and there and voila...gorgeous triumph! I also included a way to make them Gluten Free for my celiac homies. 

Don't you love it when that happens?


4 cups rolled oats
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour 
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup organic sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cup Earth Balance organic spread (chilled)
3 cup frozen blueberries
1/4 c. organic sugar
1 cup spinach leaves, food processed
1/2 c sliced almonds
2 Tbsp poppy seeds

To make recipe GLUTEN FREE, omit flours and baking powder and substitute 2 1/2 c of a gluten free baking mix like Bob's Red Mill or Pamela's and make sure your oats are gluten free. 

1. Preheat oven to 375. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, flour, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Give it a good stir.

3. Incorporate the margarine by cutting it in with two butter knives until the mixture looks like a coarse streusel topping  and is no longer powdery. But do not cream. You want bits of the spread visible in little chunks throughout.

4. Set aside about half of the oat mixture, and press the other half firmly into the cookie sheet. Bake until just slightly toasty at the edges (not fully baked) 11-13 minutes

5. While that bakes, In a saucepan, heat the blueberries and 2 Tbsp organic sugar over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and reduce. (should take about 15 minutes) Once it is thickened to a syurpy consistency, take off heat and add the spinach and stir. 

6. Pour the blueberry mixture over the parbaked oat mixture, then sprinkle the reserved mix. Sprinkle sliced almonds and poppy seeds evenly over the top. Pop it back into the oven until the top is lightly browned and fragrant, approximately 20 minutes. 

7. Cool on a rack completely before cutting into bars. 

Yield 32 bars.

***A quick note about the sugar. While I used all organic ingredients in the version I made, I only specified organic sugar in the ingredient list. Why? Sugar should be vegan, it is made from  sugar cane (or sugar beet depending on the brand of sugar you are using). Well, yes, technically that is true. The sugar itself is a plant, but unfortunately, the traditional method of processing sugar includes filtering it through animal bone char, making it decidedly NON-vegan (and pretty gross in my opinion). For that reason, only the organic version can be considered vegan.***

I was so tickled when these turned out amazing. Hope you guys enjoy! I had to get these pictures before my kids decimated them!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Getting to know us (Getting to know all about us)

Who are we? Well, rule number one: There are a lot of us. We have close friends who haven't met all of our children, or maybe they have but didn't realize they all actually belonged to us. True story. Even though we live in a small town and lead very public lives, we still get people every day who will say "Oh wow, I had no idea you were Wheeler Dealer's mom" or "Gastronosh is one of your kids? Cool!"  We also get people who don't realize we have children at all, or who think maybe all of our children are grown and out of the house, or don't realize we have grown kids. So yeah, we get all ends of the family dynamic spectrum when it comes to people's assumption of who we are. But, hey, good news! I'm going to break it all down.

You know the story. Boy meets girl..
This cute kid is Papa Scoops. My plus one for life, permanent Valentine and best friend for-evah. He is the definition of a good man. He loves God, loves me (one of my only questions to his sanity), loves our kids, and loves his fellow man. He is joyful and hilarious, works tirelessly and has a passionate servant heart. He was blessed with the gift of gab and an infectious likability and is a friend to just about everyone who crosses his path. Five years ago, he boldly led us headfirst into the wild world of entrepreneurship when we took ownership of a struggling ice cream parlor in our small town that we renamed and rebuilt into one a fun and successful local hangout that has been able to grow and expand. He also serves on the pastor's staff in our church, sings on the worship team each Sunday, heads up the Marketing team at our local radio station, and coaches Little League. On top of  all that, last year, he was also offered a partnership in another radio station in town. I know, what?!  Most days, it doesn't seem altogether real to us, either. It really goes without saying, the man is a fan of hats. Fortunately for all of us, he is decidedly NOT a fan of sitting still, so everything works out great.

This is me. Veggie Mama. I am the grateful daughter of a loving Savior, wife and mama of this crazy clan. I have been blessed to be the partner and helpmate to the man of the house, and in addition to making sure our kids are fed, clothed and loved, have also been called to homeschool them. So we spend our days breathing communal oxygen and hanging out with the three Rs (none of which start with R), science projects, and paper freaking everywhere. It is an adventure that is never the same from day to day, making me ever grateful that the Lord's mercies are new every morning. I fail my way forward solely on God's good humor, lots of coffee and being able to see the hilarity and irony in most any situation.

These are our 3 kids who have flown off to find their own stories. It was hard to see them go off to their own happily ever afters, I don't imagine it's going to get any easier with the rest, but at the same time it is truly gratifying to watch their successes and see the directions and paths they choose.

Our oldest daughter Paris Pen, is 23. As her name suggests, she has a love of all things French and hopes to be a writer. She is studying this year in Orlando, Florida at Disney University. Which makes us Disney parents! How cool is that? I need to find a bumper sticker that says that...

Wheeler Dealer is 19. He is an independent spirit and loves to tell it like it is. He discovered his mafioso-like gifting at a young age and has spent the years learning about using his powers for good and to serve his fellow man constructively. He is using his post high school years to formulate his master plan for eventual world domination. Like his sister before him, he is off on his own,
discovering the air out there.

Texter is 17 and is also a kid who knows his own mind.  He oozes intelligence and tries hard to resist his natural gift as a sponge for knowledge. He is in Texas this year at school, so we will be calling him Texting Texan. See what I did there?

And then there are the ones that remain...dun duh DUHHH....

Gastronosh, 16, is the oldest of the homebodies. He eats. A lot. Having been preceded by 2 brothers, I really  shouldn't be as amazed by it as I am. I mean, all three of them would clean a refrigerator out in an afternoon, yet somehow, still, DANG. With that massive food consumption, he found he also had a passion for cooking, and for the past year has been able to learn from the top Italian chef in town, working as an apprentice in his restaurant. Very recently, he became a driver, as well. Of cars. Real cars. Oh. my. gosh.

We had our youngest 4 in 5 years and call them collectively the littles, the smalls, or ,depending on how taxing the week has been, the tiny band of terrorists. Mercifully, those weeks are fewer and further between as the years fly by.

Dancing Queen is 9. She is the princess, and all girl. Bieber, boy bands, and ballet all the way. Stylish in a way that has always eluded me, she leans toward anything artistic. Music, drawing, dance, and theater, this girl is creativity in pink. She also loves her role as the self appointed mini mommy of the littles.

Joker Jock is 8. He is all boy, with a natural aptitude for sports. All of them. Simultaneously. He is also our class clown and loves any opportunity for a soundbite or punchline. And dirt. The kid is a fan of dirt.

Helping Handsy is 7. She is as much one of the boys as, well, our boys. She is our gymnast that can bend more way than a hospital flexi-straw. She eats up any chance to be the helper, and any opportunity to be with mom and dad.

Super N, our baby, is 5. He is the the mellow fellow, and the much needed breath of calm after the frenzy of his siblings' crazy first years . He discovered super heroes at age 3, hates being left out of anything the big kids are doing, rarely goes a day without costume, and believes that sound effects are not optional in life. EVER. He is the completion of life in our family, has a heart of compassion, and never leaves us without a laugh.
So that is us. Don't worry, there won't be a quiz. I will continue to periodically brief Papa Scoops on middle names and birthdates of the kids...because our friends enjoy playing 'stump the ice cream man'. You, however, are safe.
See ya next time! <3 VeggieMama 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Confession Time. When a writer gets stage fright.

I'm afraid. There it is. I said it.

There is so much inside of my head, and, over there, that hottie with the body who married me (and stays married to me every day despite me being...me) tells me constantly that I need to be writing. I know I need to be writing, I want to be writing, but I don't. I started this blog last year, and since then, have let it sit. I get blog posts in my head every day that I never write down. I get series ideas that (at least in my brain) are borderline genius, that have stagnated until they just evaporate.

For me, it is really easy to pull out my "I do so much and have a lot on my plate" card. Too easy, because I do. People don't bat an eyelash when I say I'm really busy. Why would they? I am. Deep down, though, I know it is a cop out. Yes, I do a lot. Yes, I have a super crap ton of obligations and responsibilities, but I have time to write. Period. When it comes down to it, I know that I have to put time into getting out there, what is essentially my only true method of communication. Writing is the only way I can talk, and have what comes out be really me.

I read so many other bloggers out there, and I know there is an intimidation factor going on. There are so many crazy talented writers in the bloggy universe that it would be crazy NOT to feel inferior. Zany, hilarious, and insightful people who have something to say, and people following them, who want to read what it is. I am afraid that I won't measure up.

Well, the fact is, maybe I will, and maybe I won't. Either way, I need to be writing. Even if it's only you reading this, mom.

My prayer this year is that our cup becomes bigger, you know, big enough that there is room to carry it around without spilling on the floor, even after all the "hot steaming stuff" that makes up our world is in there. There is always so much going on in our lives that it feels like we are on overflow, daily, and even more exciting things come into our world every time I turn around (seriously, every. single. time.). I spent a lot of years and enormous amounts of energy being boilingly frustrated and overwhelmed by our busy life, and not a single ounce of that energy made it any less busy (or even burned a calorie, what the heck kind of crap is that?!). Crazily enough, all it did do, was add terrible stress, making me into the never attractive frazzled-mess mom (who could have seen that coming?). I always was doing a million things, and was never really present in any of them, because I was always worried about the next 10 things on the list.

Finally it hit me (you know, like a wood plank to the side of the head), I know that my provider is limitless. So instead of asking for things to be taken away, which has always been my default, I got a revelation..why not just ask for more capacity? Not impossible when you are talking about the one who has capacity in endless supply. So far, it has been a way easier way to approach things. Weird.

I'm sure I'm not the first or the last to be stuck in a paralysis of fear or the mind bog of busy. I love and am forever grateful that, for me, writing is so cathartic. It feels like prayer and therapy. It feels like sanity. It feels like home. For what it is worth, I am going to write. I am going to say something every day. I am a big believer in faking it til' you make it. But let's change it up a bit. Going forward, I am going to 'faith it until I make it'. I have faith in the God given gifts and talents that I have been given as a writer and liver of this life. So, now, it's time to work. It is the same advice I give my kids, husband, friends, and anyone else who has ever been silly enough to ask me for advice. It is the basis for the name of the blog, and it comes from my favorite book in the bible James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead"

We are a family who believes in walking the walk. I'm the momma of said family-and there are a lot of legs around here, so dang it, I guess I better get on walking. See y'all tomorrow, then.

Friday, January 10, 2014





On January 10th, I, Veggie Mama, mother of many, began a challenge that heretofore and forevermore will be referred to as Victory 101. Basically what's going to go down is this; for the next 101 days, I am committing myself to optimizing my health and strength. It is my swan song, and the culmination of a 16 year journey that began with a very sick and tired 20 year old who couldn't even stand up for the time my kids played in the park and knew nothing about nutrition or how to fuel my body.
So learn I did, mostly in straight-up Hard Knock University. Yeah, I know I'm not the only one. Luckily I did, a because if I hadn't, I would not be here sipping my organic coffee and telling the tale. Of that, I am totally convinced. I would have long ago been cold in my grave. As it is, keeping up with our crazy blessed days is challenging enough in good health. That being said, I challenged myself to better health. Truly the best health of my life. Because I know it is there for the getting. So I'm gonna' get me some of that!
Along the way, I will be blogging it up. I hope to include status updates, encouragement, for myself and anyone else that might be along for the ride (even if it's only you, Ma). I hope that anything I may post up will be of use to someone, somewhere.


The terms of the challenge:

For the next 101 days I will be
eating a 100% Vegan Diet, and as organic as I can manage.
Why is this a big deal? Because, while I am a long time vegetarian and most of what we eat is organic, I have never gone fully vegan. I have done a lot of discovering about the statistics on how healthy a fully vegan diet can be. I feel like this will maximize my nutrient intake and minimize non nutrient calories in my diet.
I will be concentrating most of my diet on a whole food (meaning un-processed and in it's natural form), plant based, diet. Because I am such a hardcore cheeser and egger, I will be using tofu and cheese substitutes, but I hope to phase them out as I go through the challenge.
Some of the hardest things to overcome for me that I enjoy (maybe a little too much) as a vegetarian, but that are not part of a vegan eating plan are: hard cheese, eggs, half & half in my coffee, sour cream, and cottage cheese. The fact is, when my husband and I started dating, he came over to my house one day, happened to get in the refrigerator, and kind of froze. When I asked what he was doing, he held up a finger to say "hold on". When he brought his head back out, the look on his face was complete astonishment. "You have 17 different kinds of cheese in there!" Well, obviously, it wasn't a deal breaker, but he still makes fun of my love of all things cheesy.
intentionally building my strength.
So I'm the kinda kid who will do 2 hours of cardio, but take one look at the weights and nautilus equipment and go into a cold sweat, leaving quickly before anyone recognizes the fear and confusion. Understanding that, it is not shocking to learn that I have the strength of a wet noodle. So I guess lifting my coffee cup all these years has had no affect on my guns. My back has pathetically gotten to the point where I wake up in agony multiple times a week. Who knew having a truckload of kids would weaken your core? Okay, yeah, everybody.
So, now I have a pal with the patience to walk me through it like I'm six years old, which is exactly what I needed to avoid looking like this:
I am committing to working out 5 days a week for the challenge.
So that is basically it. I am looking forward to focusing on my health and getting to a better place with my health. I really believe that 2014 is my year.