Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Milestone Alert!

Finally moved babe #2 out of her high-chair. It wasn't really effective at containing her mess anyway - so why not move up in the world? Tink-Table for 2? Right this way... 
TIP: Offer "stars" on the magnetic "Chore Chart" for littln's who stay seated and finish their food, all while refraining from throwing it across the table at one another. Offer to take away stars as well, if food-fights commence. After 10 stars, they get a special treat or small 'prize', and start over. Love this thing! 
A QUOTE: “Behavior is what a man does, not what he thinks, feels, or believes” ~Unknown
WHIDFML: Indulged in Grandma's delish recipe for cookies... compliments of mom, who refurbished this recipe using gluten-free flour! OMG - BEST EVER!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Free Mind, Costly World

A friend recently mentioned that she's sometimes down on herself for "not getting a better job where she can make more money"... It got me thinking (shocker!) People place too much importance on money - and believe that having money will enable them to be 'happy'. The truth is - we can't buy happiness. And you don't need to!
I'm not really much of a gambler, per say. I'm not into get-rich-quick schemes, or mansion-dwelling-dreams. My philosophy on working is "Work to Live, NOT live to work..." I've figured out my priorities, and I live, work, spend, and play accordingly. This is sometimes easier said than done, and is harder to accomplish when you share your life with someone - as each person's dreams involve different variables. But I think that's where the lines get fuzzy too... It's healthy to dream.
Joel's dreams often include things that I would not have even thought about - let alone aspired to. One such dream is that of his desire to literally 'snowmobile through the mountains' one day. Hm. If we never owned a snowmobile, I'd be okay with that. They are fun, but I wouldn't feel like I'm missing out if I didn't get to experience that again. Let's step it up a notch and say we did acquire the esteemed motorized sleds. I'd still be okay with local and north-woods-situated trails; Mountains not necessary. But who am I to bock at his dreams?? And who said that dreaming is a bad thing?? I think the key is to dream carefully. If you're setting goals for your future, but you are still living today - I believe that's the important balance to achieve. We can't forget to enjoy what we've already accomplished - 
I pretty much want to live simply... and simply live. When it comes to my lottery-winning aspirations, I would seek out a few, pretty basic things... A) No dependency upon work for survival [Specifically - Joel would be able to retire!] B) I'd definitely hire a maid, so I'd never have to bother with those more mundane life distractions involving vacuums, sponges, or fabric-softener; and C) We could experience nearly anything we want, with very minimal limitations. Last, but not least - I can only imagine the joy I'd experience as various worthy causes around the globe opened their bulky, anonymous donation checks. The first recipient of such funds would have to be St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. I just can't think of a better place to start, or a more deserving institution. 
Thing is - while I may not have my maid, my husband around during the week-days, or my trip across Europe mapped out just yet - I still consider myself having 'won' the lottery of life already in many ways - and I can still give back.
Try taking a few minutes for yourself to just think about all of the valuable assets in your life: people, fond memories, abilities, fulfilled dreams, shelter, food, a means of earning income... Consider the simplest things, on up. A lot to be thankful for, right? And with all the money we'll shell out this season for people in our lives who may not even need the extra gadgetry, we can surely dig a little bit deeper to support a favorable cause.

TIP: Feels good to pay it forward! Please consider donating to St. Jude, or any other non-profit org that you feel is beneficial in the lives of the less fortunate.
A QUOTE: "Happiness isn't about getting something in the future. Happiness is the capacity to open the heart and eyes and spirit and be where we are and find happiness in the midst of it. Even in the place of difficulty, there is a kind of happiness that comes if we've been compassionate, that can help us through it. So it's different than pleasure, and it's different than chasing after something." ~Jack Kornfield 
WHIDFML: Kept the circle of love going by making my donation :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Inspired -

"Let go of the need to know so much. Trust in simplicity and love." This quote can be found in my new fave inspirational book, 1325 Buddhist Ways to Be Happy, by Barbara Ann Kipfer 

A lot of what I've read so far really resonates with me, including this ideal. But when it comes to my lack of a thirst for bucho sums of book-smarts, it has dawned on me that maybe knowing people a little bit better could be beneficial to generating and maintaining meaningful connections.
I'm not a judgmental person. I don't compare myself to others around me. My attitude toward people is generally a 'to each their own' kind of approach. Knowing how many out there put up walls and wear masks adds to my tendency to often take on a pretty much (inadvertent) passive-aggressive stance on tuning-in. Sometimes I feel, "Why bother? It's not really them." But when someone is willing to open up to me, and share - and I can sense the authenticity of it, I need to make a point of soaking it in, and out of gratitude and respect for their sincerity, pay attention!
I have to say... I do enjoy picking up on people's little quirks, nuances, personality traits... It's fun to observe and see what really makes someone unique and what differentiates them from all others. However, I've begun to realize that I'm just not that good at (or realistically speaking - have not been putting enough effort into) storing to memory the little shared bits of people that make them tick.
I've been observing my bro-in-law's people skills with awe, on regular weekly intervals, and I'm hoping I have what it takes to turn my new found inspiration into a regular practice. Perhaps with enough such practice, I can emulate his ability to recall the life-details, favorites, recent experiences, pet's names, vehicles purchased, drinks ordered etc etc -  of everyone he comes into regular contact with - with ease.
I recognize that it's part of his job - But his interest in people is genuine. It carries over into his personal relationships, and I see it in his actions consistently - on or off the clock.
While I have never considered my interest in people to be less than pure, I guess I've just truly not paid enough attention to the details. I "forget" simple (and often important) things about folks - such as what they do for a living, where they are going to school and/or why... their spouses' names. I mean - those are pretty big facets of most people's lives. I figure - If I'm going to get to know someone, I should probably be considerate enough to know those things. It's a starting point.
My B-I-L's consideration of others goes way beyond remembering the details of their lives. Seriously - who do you know in your life who shows up at work to find out he doesn't need to be there... and then sticks around during the blizzard of the decade to help co-workers and patrons get home in said blizzard, and dig friend's cars out of snow-heaps?? Yeah. Probably not many coming to mind, I'd wager!
This guys thinks - and I mean really thinks - about other people! Maybe he's mastered 'being in the moment'... or tuning out distractions... I should probably ask him for his 'trick' - but I'm sure it boils down to years of selfless compassion and a desire to understand people - rather than just 'knowing' them? It's a theory. Just think about that for a minute... What if we all aimed to really understand those around us? We'd still be a heck of a lot less judgmental... How might society benefit? 'Ya think?!
The other day, I met up with 2 friends who I don't get to see as regularly as I'd like to - and so began the test of my abilities. I learned that Karen's wardrobe is primarily neutrals - grays, blacks, whites, & khaki - and Jenni is a self-proclaimed "t-shirt freak"! I also recalled that Karen is a vegetarian - but hadn't remembered that her fave drink is a cold beer. Jenni has a thing for butterflies, and her dog's name is Gizmo. They both share in my passion for a mixed variety of music - and Karen got to see Tom Petty live! Might there be a few concerts in our future?? Hey-haaaay! It's working - Now, to keep that momentum going. Thanks to 'Mr. Nice Guy' - I'm feeling inspired to be a nicer girl. Kudos XO!

TIP: Cherish real friendships. They are hard to come by.
A QUOTE: "When we pay full attention to our world, we are happier and more effective." ~Barbara Ann Kipfer - (you guessed it) 1325 Buddhist Ways to Be Happy
WHIDFML: Nurturing my newly-enlightened mind via motivational wisdom, as is recorded in my recently acquired new book. Continuing to evolve, right along with life!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First Day of "Day-Care"

So their first day with the new p/t flexible, and fab-with-kids day care lady went splendidly! I needed some time to try to get my book-keeping done for the biz this week - and it was our perfect opportunity to try things out! I love this drop-in option! It's perfect for us - and the best part is - she's great with the kids. She's been doing this for 3 decades, and knows her stuff! She reminds me of my mother-in-law - which also adds to her appeal :)
It's lovely knowing we have this available when I need the extra time. Whoot!

TIP: Don't give up. If you can dream it - I'm pretty sure it exists! If not - create it.
A QUOTE:  “The most essential factor is persistence - the determination never to allow your energy or enthusiasm to be dampened by the discouragement that must inevitably come.” ~James Whitcomb Riley
WHIDFML: Did a more strenuous (time to step it up a notch) work-out, while watching Craig Ferguson... which means my abs got a great work-out too! I think this is a new personal resolution... nightly work-outs with Craig Ferguson! Ha! Yessssssssssssssssssssssssss

Avoiding Those Energy Zappers!

Just looking to share an excellent article (Oprah.com) that hits on all the things I have already been incorporating into my life to avoid having my energy zapped. Enjoy! (Worth the read, and not long.)

TIP: Try not to over-do, or under-do life ;)
A QUOTE: "The secret of the truly successful, I believe, is that they learned very early in life how not to be busy. They saw through that adage, repeated to me so often in childhood, that anything worth doing is worth doing well. " ~Barbara Ehrenreich
WHIDFML: Got caught-up (almost fully) on the biz end-of-year book-keeping... The doing of this was not all that fun, but  the being done part feels grand.

Early New Year

Beginning those resolutions early! And I'm okay with that ~
So - first time... in 16 years (YES, I said sixteen)... that Joel has actually sat down with me to check out some ideas and make plans for our next trip!! It was SO much more fun to plan with him... Now, I think he's hooked, so we're sure to make much more of this particular resolution ;) I'm quite alright with that as well~

TIP: Internet = endless possibilities for pre-trip idea gathering.
A QUOTE: "Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind."  ~Seneca
WHIDFML: Treated the girlies, a few friends, and myself to a chocolate-mint flavored candy-cane... I have to say it's rather tasty. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Tidings of Comfort & Joy

Kay - (slightly) less mind-rambling (as in the last 2 posts!) and more of the short but sweet!
I don't think I've ever been this excited about the season! I've always enjoyed the seasonal changes, including the transition into winter. Hey - fires in the fireplace, sledding, (possible snow-boarding this year!), ice-fishing, gorgeous views out our window - those are annual joys. We've even experienced a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the northern wilderness, a dog-sled ride through similar terrain in that area, and snowmobiling around the trails intertwining the GFTrail! Winter has many fun elements to enjoy. (Just wish it didn't last until the end of March, is all!) We had an amazing, long, hot summer - that started early and lasted into fall - so I don't feel like I was missing out on that this year. I soaked that in completely! Now, I'm reveling in the benefits that the winter months have to offer. (I'm a 'glass-half-full' type.) 
And Christmas is always fun - though in past years it has felt more like a bunch of unnecessary craziness. I like a little bit of crazy in my life... just a little... the right kind of crazy. But not the unnecessary kind. SO! This year both girls are into Christmas, and it's meaning, and being involved in the many traditions that surround the holidays. I think Christmas is more fun when you HAVE kids, even compared to BEING a kid!
I've been reveling in my self-awareness as well - which has brought me to a place of even greater happiness. I recognize that as much as I enjoy having people in my life, I don't depend on them for my happiness. That means, I can get through anything. It may not always be easy - but I'm strong and know what's important to me, and I'll continue to strive to achieve the goals that fall in line with that. Having people to share it all with is very meaningful, and contributes to happiness, increasing it. But, very different from expecting your happiness to come from another. There's a difference between want and need. Of course I want to share my life - but I'm particular about just who I involve in it, and on what levels. And that's okay!
This year's goal: a renewed sense of adventure. It doesn't have to be 'big' or 'fancy' to be adventurous. It'd be great if it could encompass a touch of romance (which also need not be large or shmancy - I'm not the 'sweep-me-off-my-feet' type!) Now that Joel has been more comfortable in his skin again - I've been already noticing little things that mean I do get to enjoy a little bit of that passion. ;) [Hahaha! My desire for a little spark actually does require another person's mutual desire for sharing in that. But my patience seems to be paying off!]
As a population in general - we're all just seeking happiness and pleasure. I believe that we should be. As long as we aren't intentionally hurting others in that process, and trying to 'get ahead'/ step on other people in order to be happy, I think we're meant to move toward what moves us. I'm sure we're here to learn something - which is why life isn't always peachy - but your attitude toward it and your ability to seek solutions can make or break your experience while here. So - why not look for the positive?

TIP: Never stop dreaming! Every so often, take time to explore what you would be doing with your life if you had complete freedom (from responsibilities, from expectations, from financial set-back, from any of life's obstacles.) Chances are - if you really think about it - you can move toward many of those goals and attain them. They aren't so far-fetched, most likely. Figure out little ways to incorporate the things that mean something to you into your life. Even if your big dream is to own a yacht - and you can't afford one - you can probably save up for a cruise ship vacation, or a small boat of your own. And that doesn't mean that you can't still move toward yacht ownership in baby steps, if that really means something to you. 
A QUOTE (or 3!): "The world needs dreamers and the world needs doers.  But above all, the world needs dreamers who do."  ~Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, 1996
"Part of the issue of achievement is to be able to set realistic goals, but that's one of the hardest things to do because you don't always know exactly where you're going, and you shouldn't."  ~George Lucas
"Establishing goals is all right if you don't let them deprive you of interesting detours." ~Doug Larson 
WHIDFML: Just been my self - with zero apologies!! :) That's the norm, but I realize it's really fun, even when people judge you for it... I figure, it's sad that they feel they have to live a life that was basically contrived for them... a life per others' expectations. I'm free. That's the way I want to be!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


That's a pic of me getting my groove on with my little girls at the end of one of Myla's dance classes! (Pic By Joel)
I'm dancing more! 
It was one of those years where I learned a lot. I came through a bit of a storm in the way of changes, uncertainty, and realizations... That's the very-nutshell-version of that!
Here's another longer-story-made-short: I realized that I'm a little too darn 'responsible' - in general. I've always been the 'good girl' - and very 'get my work done first so I can enjoy'. An attitude-adjustment was in order! As they say... (and it's because it's true)... God works in mysterious ways. There were some tumultuous events that took place over the course of the year. But at the same time - (and I hadn't realized it then) - it was the start of a new beginning in a lot of different ways.
One big light-bulb moment came for me when I had to undergo further examination with a specialist, to determine the nature of a breast-lump found by my practitioner. Thankfully, it turned out to be nothing of concern. However, I found myself thinking about life a little bit differently in the time it took to get to that second appointment. When I say 'differently' I mean I was thinking about life in a BETTER way!
I've always had a pretty good outlook on it. I've always been a go-getter... even though determination and creative problem solving doesn't mean I'm a control freak any longer. In fact, I learned in my teenage years that you can't be in control all the time, and that it's much easier to just roll with that. But please keep in mind there is also a difference between being a follower, or allowing people to mold you to their preferred liking/ take advantage of you, and not being 'in control', as well. It's kind of a tricky in-between spot, in all reality. However - I found that I was still in need of an adjustment to my outlook - and I was due for that adjustment.
For example: I'd consistently practiced the thought-process that if I can pay off this debt, then I can enjoy this goal... Or, when I am done with _________, I can look into doing ____________. In some ways that's been a good practice. I mean, I've always lived below my means - and have never been a slave to any job. I've never had too much debt. I paid for school before buying a car. Paid for the car before buying our first home... In some ways - that was beneficial. But I can't approach everything in life like that - or in some cases, I may never get to that second "blank" (____________)!
Joel and I fell into some hard times financially that were a bit scary for us... We'd never been in a situation like that - and we couldn't have predicted or prevented it. We learned a lot, and stressed a lot... Once that situation was finally behind us, we realized that we would be hit with another large cost - roof, siding, etc... We have young kids in the mix, and we were trying to figure out how to pay down all debts (outside of our home) before doing things such as planning road-trips as a family with our camper, for example.
Then, it hit me! There will always be some unexpected something! You can't avoid it, or predict it - so you can't keep 'waiting until...' if you want to enjoy! There is a difference between paying your debts while also enjoying life, and the other 2 extremes: no enjoyment, or throwing all caution (and your money) to the wind.
So now, I'm going to be a tad less responsible! RESOLUTION NUMBER 1! We can't keep our lives on hold until everything else is in 'order' - because financially, unless you win the lottery - there really isn't such thing as 'order'. That's life. (And heck, my siblings are actually rewarded for being irresponsible with money - so I figure I can finally let loose with that a bit, and pay things down as it fits! We're still doing what we need to do, and we're not taking advantage of anyone in that process!) But we're going to strive to strike a better balance with it. That leads to RESOLUTION NUMBER 2! Plan more trips! This one is two-fold. First, we're going to start looking at places to visit around the country in our camper. The girls are getting to an age where that is going to be appropriate. And, if they don't remember a certain location well enough by the time they reach an older age - we'll just have to go there again! Even if we can plan on every-other year... that would be excellent. One year to plan, one to do; both are fun! Plus, we still need to fit in a summer visit to the GFT! Second, Joel and I are going to make an annual tradition out of going on a couple's retreat. (Well, a few small ones, locally, during the year, as well as a longer one - AWAY.) This year - Arizona! It's amazing around there!! With our love for nature, we couldn't pick a better place to explore together. Everywhere I drove when I was there - was breathtaking, and the scenery changed so much!! And, he's never been to the Grand Canyon! Looking forward to sharing all of that with him. He'll also get the chance to meet someone who I really click with - a dear friend who lives out there. That gives you an idea. It's a start. As the girls get older, we'll explore other countries too! Many ideas swirling around in our heads... like those sugar plums.
And, RESOLUTION NUMBER 3! Date nights that are more than just dinner out! We've been coming up with some fun things to do together. Some cost nothing, and involve a walk around Saint Anthony Main and the Stone Arch Bridge. Others, may cost something, like the comedy club, but result in great shared laughter. We had a blast experiencing things like the Hoot at Lake Harriet last year... and celebrating a close friend's (and now family by marriage) 30th birthday - VIP - dancing away the night together downtown at Aqua this year... Just a couple of examples! Joel and I went hunting more this season than we have over the past 4 seasons! We're going ice-fishing this winter, and , and and... More of that. Less rushing/ worrying about the time. More of what we enjoy!
RESOLUTION NUMBER 4! More family outings. We need to get these girls out to explore more territory now that they are old enough to play together and enjoy it. I love being a family!
RESOLUTION NUMBER 5! More time for ME. (Already started this one - WHOOHOO!) I am, after all, a free-spirit. Given that, I have to foster that spirit on a regular basis. AND, this is also going to provide me with more time to write, as well as paint - both of which I enjoy greatly. I have 2 books in mind... May not happen until kids are in school... but just maybe I'll have more opportunity for working on projects like this sooner than later? I've been collecting art supplies too! Have some projects in mind for my girls :)
[Joel needs his me-opps as well - as the girls grow more!]

RESOLUTION NUMBER 6! Trying new things we've always wanted to try. (ie: I'm determined to try snowboarding!! Yay!)
RESOLUTION (lucky) NUMBER 7! - Cooking together - and trying new recipes! (And therefore me getting back into cooking!) Each time we try something new - we realize we need to try many new foodie ideas - more often! Plus, we have so much fun when we work on it together - now that the girlies can entertain themselves during that time. It's great daily couple-time, and tangy on the taste-buds too!
RESOLUTION-ALL-ENCOMPASSING: Find some humor in everything (or at least every day!)

And finally, one "thing" goal we both would enjoy (WILL enjoy - one day - down the road): a hot-tub. Just a small one - so we can relax during some movie/ favorite-show watching in there in the winter months!We both still talk about 'when we have our hot-tub...' Fireside relaxation, intermingled with hot-tub movie/fave show-watching - will mean winter is that much more exciting! (Even after it gets long.)
If I think of anything else... I may add... But otherwise, you get the gist of it! It's great having it down on (cyber)-paper, and official! Regardless of which blog I choose to utilize to record the happs - I'll be enjoying them thoroughly!

TIP: Think it through, write it down (or type). Goals are best achieved when there is something tangible helping to move you along, and remember what it is that is important to you about those items.
A QUOTE: “I can't change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” ~Jimmy Dean
WHIDFML: Connecting with 2 fabulous friends who I cannot wait to see again! Harder to get all schedules to jive, but worth it!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

New Year Ponderings...

...in an online diary!
Been feeling grateful for so many blessings & achievements... I believe that some people (me, most def!) come into this world knowing in their hearts just what it is they want to accomplish during this lifetime. While I've felt my way through some of it, and learned about those yearnings over time, many other things were innate from the very beginning. Most of my 'big dreams' have already come true (or are in the process of)! I've realized that if I pay attention to my heart, listen to my intuition, keep an open and positive (and creative) mind, and keep the faith - I can accomplish almost anything!
~ I've known since I was a little girl that I wanted to find someone who I could really, truly connect with. I wanted to be completely open with him, and he with me - while accepting one another fully - the good and the 'bad'. Perfection doesn't exist - but I believe in people being perfect FOR one another... It took some years of trial and error, and learning what's really important to each of us as individuals first - but my husband is the best friend I could ever dream of having! A few things kept us going through the difficult phases, and made us that much stronger with each passing relationship-milestone unearthed: A) Truly loving each the other for who we are; B) Full acceptance of who we each are; and C) A deep connection that stems from really knowing one another inside & out - - based on a foundation of genuine Trust. There were a couple of occasions that had me second-guessing whether we were "right" for each other - in spite of those ties. It was when we couldn't meet in the middle to maintain a strong connection... I was doing my part, and begging him to do his... He finally looked inside himself and figured out what is important to him. Once he was able to do that - he was able to share those things with me again - bringing us back to (and beyond, actually!) the connection we once had. And now, I recognize that we have something rare and special - and I've never felt so sure about this! (And, so long as he can just remain open with me/ refrain from putting up his protective barriers, I think it will stay that way!) Our bond is unique, and we are good for one another. Our wedding was held in our favorite setting, surrounded by nature, support, and love - and now we get to visit that special place every year and relive the magic! It was everything we'd dreamed - to commemorate our commitment & devotion. We support one another and help each other achieve things that are meaningful to us. He knows I accept him for who he is, and he is free to be fully open with me. That openness is what makes it not just 'work out' - but makes it meaningful!
~ I've always dreamed that I could be at my happiest if I was surrounded by nature. Not a city girl so much - though I do appreciate the city where I grew up. NE Minneapolis is a fantastic urban dwelling space - filled with variety, lots of local eateries, art galleries, preserved history, and scenic hot-spots. We've been lucky enough to find a home that is within a short distance from the cityscape, and still wraps us up in a nice hideaway amongst our patch of the north-woods-within-city-limits. The meandering creek and the wildlife, and the trees, trees, trees have proven to keep my sense of serenity high - even amidst other inevitable life-lessons, transitions, and difficulties. This one happens to be a bit of luck, mixed in with an authentic blessing. Things had to come together at the right time for us to have located this parcel, but we also had to implement some variables and create a bit of 'luck' in the matter!Our house embodies everything we've ever hoped for in a home... I think our favorite 'piece' inside, is our place of peace... the living room overlooking the natural splendors in the back yard, next to the wood-burning fireplace. My visions of fire-side memory-making have come alive over the years!
~ Every year we make a point to visit a place in nature that is much less trodden and still very natural/ untouched. The Trail holds special meaning for us - and we have made a lot of fond memories there over the many years that Joel and I have been together. (I'll be 32 soon - and Joel and I have been together for 16 years! That's HALF of my life.) Our memories began individually with our families, long before we even knew one another. So thrilled to be able to instill a sense of respect for and appreciation and enjoyment of such a magnificent splice of nature into our babies! No matter what the circumstances, we've made it work. When kiddos came along, we adjusted to a new means of camping - moving from tent to camper trailer. When the fire burned our favorite hide-away - the most rustic of campgrounds that remains in existence - we eagerly awaited its reopening and haven't looked back! How many people do you know who camp in a site where the mature trees no longer exist?? It's just a new beginning to us.
~ Even since I was 2 years old, I knew that when I grew up, I wanted to be "a mother". That dream has come true - twice! My beautiful, amazing girls give a whole new meaning to life (and to striving to find the humor in all aspects of it!) Certainly many a challenge lies in the upbringing of 'tiny humans' - but it's also the most rewarding work available. It can't be properly put into words... though I may try harder to accomplish wording it one day! As much as I need balance in my life, I couldn't imagine my world without them in it, and certainly they have something special and unique within each of them to give back to this world. As they grow,  I look forward to more and more opportunities to connect with them, solidify our bond, and inspire them as much as they inspire me! There really is no sweeter sensation than those soft little lips pursed against your cheek! I hope that I can help them be the amazing people that they are, by encouraging them and just being there for them both, and showing them what genuine love is all about.
~ I longed for finding a career that I would actually enjoy pursuing - and ironically enough - I stumbled onto that one completely by accident! Well, not completely, I guess... I've always been a sentimentalist, I've always enjoyed documenting my journeys and events, and I've always loved taking photographs - even with my 110 cam back in the single-digit years of my life. But, I found my niche' when I could combine all of that and apply my own style to capturing wedding moments candidly and artistically. I get a thrill every time! My heart is truly in it, and I believe that shows through in my final images; At least that is reflective of the compliments I receive on my work. Some people do things that they think they'll enjoy - and find that it becomes cumbersome or a burden. I've been able to build a business around my life, (rather than the other way around) - and that enables me to continue to love every minute spent capturing those events - and the moments that make up the events! I can still place my focus on being a mother - while also doing something that I truly thrive on, and the bonus is that I can contribute to our family through doing this as well. I owe some of this to my husband, because he is our family's nine-to-fiver! However, he too found something that draws him in and holds his interest, that he does well naturally, and which also allows us unimaginable flexibility! We couldn't be happier about that fact!
~ One item that has been a blessing, is the fact that we both have very loving and supportive families in our lives. That piece we couldn't 'choose' - or dictate in any way. But we are blessed in that way! Even amid the weird new dynamic on my side, we've found little bits of connection in there... And some bigger bits of connection with the right people. Part of life is learning who your real friends are... whether related to you by blood or otherwise. Rather than holding on to the issues after finding out that some friendships had been based on opportunism (sadly), I'm looking at the sliver lining to see that I'm also learning who my true friends are in that process. That's what counts!
I think that covers the "big things"! There are many other smaller facets that come into play of course - and I'm grateful every day for being able to make the most of the things that matter most: Love, Connections with others, and making Memories with those closest to us. These are the things we'll take with us into the next life... The rest is just temporary. That's not to say that there aren't other ways that encompass 'temporary' to enjoy the journey!

The next steps are to continue to dream and grow, and learn, letting our hearts lead us to what will bring us joy. It gives our lives meaning, keeps us motivated, and keeps us really living! I'm not interested in merely surviving... I want to grab up all of the opportunities that come along - and create opportunities where there aren't any! Living in conjunction with your priorities is essential to finding and maintaining that joy. 
And so - my next post will entail the future goals and dreams I'm looking forward to next! Now that the girls have gotten older, I'm finding more time and opportunity to move forward again with personal goals. Joel and I share in most, if not all of them as well. I'm not so interested in acquiring 'things'. I'm interested in acquiring fond memories! If it falls in line with that - then I'm IN! (Joel would like a few more 'things' - but they equate to memory-making for HIM! So - from that perspective, I'm also IN! I support him in what makes him happy as well.) Your happiness comes from within you. If someone supports you in that - then you've found a true friend!

TIP: Choosing to blog is a very personal decision. It opens you up to the world - which can be good, and can have implications. If you're like me, and you enjoy maintaining some element of privacy - you can set up multiple blogs. I have a 'baby-blog' that is viewable via invitation only, and requires a password to return. There is where I house my family's most intimate memories - for us to share with one another and those closest to us. This helps enable me to maintain my daughters' privacy as well.  I have another that is dedicated to favorite nature photos taken in our home-away-from-home on the GFT. Others still are broken down into specific trips (ie: FL, AZ, and more to come!) And there is also my biz-blog - which I'm deciding now to keep to primarily photo sessions that are in line with photographing people and their surroundings. Everything has a place and a purpose. This one is kind of like a diary for me... where I seek humor in stressful situations, and mark wordier joyful memories too - those that aren't applied to the baby blog mentioned above (depending upon where the story is more fitting, I suppose.) This is more about my personal journey and growth as a mom, and all that encompasses that life-long learning-curve & overall experience. It enables me to sort out all of the thoughts, ideas, feelings - and put them to good use in bettering myself in that regard (hopefully!) ;) Perhaps it will inspire others besides at some point? If so - then this will help me contribute additional income to my family as well. Can't hurt to try :) Can't happen if I don't!
A QUOTE: “If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” ~Albert Einstein
WHIDFML: Been working with Joel to open up a new chapter in our lives... more to come!

Automatic Christmas Cheer

So - Shocking, I know, but we were having a 'frustrating moment' at the ranch..... (Imagine that!) I actually don't recall the exact cause of said frustrations, but let's just say tensions were high at that moment. I do know that we were (once again) fighting kids to eat... Surely Myla pushed me over the edge... and with a scowl, I remarked something to the effect, "And little girls who don't listen, don't eat, and who sass-talk don't get any treats!" JUST as I finished this sentence, I pressed the musical hand-pump on the soap located at the kitchen sink... and my line was finished with trumpeting sounds made to the tune of "And a partridge in a Pear Treeeeee....." Pretty much an instant laugh-maker! I think we'll employ this particular Christmas 'decoration' year-round... and install musical 'buttons' on anything that might be touched during future frustrating moments... particularly in the kitchen! "...and a happy new year!..."

TIP: If your little'ns have a favorite must-have doll/ stuffed animal that they require to sleep... get 2. *(Even if slightly different... should still work.) We now have 4 'puppies' circulating - so we are never without one at bed time!
A QUOTE: “Laugh as much as you breathe and love as long as you live.” ~Uknown
WHIDFML: Stopped at Aveda and got my b-day and other freebies on my "Mom-ME Day"... followed by coloring my hair a slightly new hue (by myself at home), followed by candles, tea, loud music, and lots of other little miscellaneousness. ["Miscellaneousness" not a word? I don't care! It's now my word.] ;) Insert: Created a new word~

Friday, December 3, 2010

Makin' Me Cry - Happy Tears

So - Chef Joel had prepared to make us some salmon and rice for dinner one recent evening. Addie protested... while insisting that she wanted "cheesy rice & scrambled eggs" for supper. I rolled my eyes, and so did Joel - but we did so with a smile. That kid would eat cheesy rice for every meal (Joel's special recipe - A.MAZ.ING!)
Daddy disappeared upstairs and began the prep. Upon its completion, I assisted him as we gathered the girls' plates and loaded them up with the appropriate portions. Joel asked if I would mix up some ingredients for the cheesy rice for Addie - since we had made rice anyway. Sure! So after the mixing, he handed me her plate - full of scrambled eggs! I couldn't believe it. I had to compose myself as I remarked, "You made her the eggs too? What a good daddy!!" Everyone ate well that night - and cleaned their plates ;) Hope these girls realize how lucky they are to have such a devoted dad.


TIP: Sometimes you can get away with 'enhancing' the existing meal, rather than trying to make multiple meals to satisfy all the little peeps.
A QUOTE: "I kept my babies fed. I could have dumped them, but I didn't. I decided that whatever trip I was on, they were going with me. You're looking at a real daddy. " ~Barry White
WHIDFML: Began the process of planning a trip for a few months out! Planning/ getting ideas is half the fun!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's Raining Sunshine!

[Insert Hallelujah Chorus... here]

Seems the planets have re-aligned!!
Today was a good day:
~ We realized that having a nanny to the house would defeat the purpose of avoiding noise & distraction while working, and/ or accomplishing some things for myself. BUT, we found a referred-by-a-very-trustworthy-friend, extremely flexible, in-home day-care close by - run by a wonderful lady! It couldn't be more ideal for our needs - and she's affordable! I will have at least one day a week to count on from now on... and on busy weeks following weddings, possibly 2 (when the in-laws are also available for one). Bonus!
~ Joel and I uncovered some things that are making life as a couple pretty darn rockin' right now!
~ Auntie Debbie is totally filling us with hope and joy as she continues to provide us with much needed date-nights and other couple-breaks, now encompassing baby-sleep-overs at HER house too!!! Round one was a huge success :)
~ And last but not least, Addie deuced into the potty today!!! WHOOHOO!
Keep 'em comin', Jesus! Much appreciated and MANY thanks~

A TIP: Trying, without trying too hard, can get you very far. Just keep the faith.
A QUOTE: "When it rains, It pours" - English Idiom [Apparently it can be applied to GOOD luck as well!]
WHIDFML: FOUND some fitting, experienced, highly-recommended, well-loved by good friends' children, part-time childcare! SCORE!!!!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Made Me Smile - with Relief!

Description: Burn-Out 
Source: Native Remedies (.com)
As found in the above resourceful guide, you'll notice that the definition of burn-out reads as follows:

"Burnout is a term that is given to a state of physical or emotional exhaustion. It is most commonly attributed to work or a particular task, but can also be related to stressful relationships and roles (e.g. parenting or caring for an aged family member)." 

THANK YOU NATIVE REMEDIES!!! I have to say I was thrilled to see "parenting" listed as the first example! I've experienced job burn-out before... And I must say, it's easier to find yourself feeling that way about a job that is 24 hours a day, 8 days a week! ;)

TIP: Sometimes doing a little research helps you sort out your own feelings - which also leads to sorting out options for solving the problems that are causing those feelings. WHAT did I do before the internet?!?
A QUOTE: "Your children will become what you are; so be what you want them to be." ~David Bly
WHIDFML: Vanilla Cinnamon Black Tea. (Available seasonally at Trader Joe's) MMMMmmmmmmmm!


A friend posted this to her facebook page.... and I stole it! Because it's perfect. And all people, (especially parents) must remember this!!

"Learn to value yourself, which means: to fight for your happiness." ~Ayn Rand

TIP: Never give up
WHIDFML: Figuring out a new system for ensuring at least one day per week (and a little time each day) for good ol' me! Seems like the planets aren't aligned - and everyone is struggling with something right now... For me - it's my need for some space,  little piece of my freedom back - and the opportunity to have my brain all to myself for a while. And so - a new system is born! Many thanks for the support of my loving husband - who also doesn't want to watch me melt away into a puddle of mush. Glad we are on the same page with that one. Nice to have someone on my side!! Kiss-kiss~

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Intense Job...

See - the thing is - you don't realize the depth of the intensity of the 'job' of raising little kids until you're already in the very throws of that tsunami! (Otherwise, who in their right mind??) Just kidding - There is something to be said for the love you feel for the little people you create with God's help... Amazing, astounding, indescribable in mere words... 

However, when you are sitting there with your husband and young ones at the dinner table, and can't complete a sentence without stopping to prevent one child from choking on their food, and the other from swallowing their entire FIST... You realize the intensity of the job!  TRUE STORY.
Then, they lived happily ever after... The End. (HAhahahahahahaHA!)

TIP: Sometimes, the best thing to do in the wake of a chaotic tidal wave, is to simply laugh. I know - I just said this recently - but it bears repeating... And I'm tired - and have no other tips for ya! Okay, I lied; Sleep... There's your newest tip. My bed is calling me!
A QUOTE: "Avoid fruit and nuts.  You are what you eat."  ~Jim Davis
WHIDFML: Started working out inside when I don't get my walks... Found that late-night stationary-biking is actually very good for the soul AND the bod... (And it has actually helped me sleep better... rather than impeding it. Shush to those nay-sayers about pre-Zzzz exercise!)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Guessing Games

Apparently, we're learning how to think in school! (Hooray! That's always a good lesson.)
Myla's been going around asking us to guess what she's describing...
Sometimes its very clever... like when she aks, "What is RED, has a stem, and is verrrrry crunchy?"
An apple!
Other times, YOU feel very clever - because you can always guess the right answer. For example, I bet you can guess what she's thinking about when she asks, "What is rooooundd, has a sparkly thing in it, and looks like your ring?" Um.... wait.... give me one sec... My ring??? YES! Got it!
So, after she described Mommy and Addie, she proceeded to describe Daddy...  Are you ready? She got this far before she was interrupted by bursts of continuous laughter from the big (and hairless) people of the house: "Who is our FAVORITE booooy... who has NO haaaair..." Hahahahahahahaha! Hahahahaahahahhaah! HahahahahahahHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHHAHAHAHAHAHA!

These moments help make the crabby-baby days more tolerable! Thanks God for laughter.

TIP: Laugh. Repeat.
A QUOTE: "Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit." ~ Author Unknown
WHIDFML: Spent the majority of a recent Sunday in the best company in the world, surrounded by nature and sun, learning how to field-hunt for waterfowl (which I'm pretty much hooked on already, btw), took the long walk (exercise!) to and from the truck (my virgin off-road adventures), armed with my camera to document the day. Did I mention it was one of the most brilliant sunsets I've ever witnessed? Yes, I felt completely weightless for a whole day! More Pleeeease!


"Our hopes & expectations.... Black holes & revelations...." ~Muse

The above song lyrics are indicative of life a lot of times...
(Music Vid can be found HERE)

Hopes & Expectations:
~ The family would be not only willing, but excited to watch the girls when we needed a date and/or a weekend (or longer) get-away

~ Determined to be free from depending on others for my own goal achievement/ happiness

~ Having children will be fulfilling and enjoyable, and you can do many things that you would normally do - "just with kids now"

~ I can make it through all of the time-sacrifice until the kids are both in school. It's only a short time in my life.

~ It's easier when it's your own kids...

~ Expected to be able to have more time to myself/ with Joel...

Black Holes...:
~ The family is out of town every weekend, the dynamic has dramatically shifted - at least on one side - and everyone's too busy on a regular basis...

~ Realizing that I've had to depend on people in order to have breaks away from being inundated with children 24/7. Creative problem-solving is a start, but doesn't babysit your kids for ya!

~ While fulfilling in one aspect, having kids means giving up so much of what is important to you in the beginning stages, that you have to work really hard to not give up who you are/ forget about what gives your life meaning/ joy... (in addition to the kids!)

~ The sudden realization that you have 2 more years until they are both in school full-time (allowing me some 'me-time', and more time to work on my photo projects)

~ Myla is "my own kid", and the most difficult child I've had to contend with - ever!

~ Been really hard to make time together sans-children and time for myself happen because of that whole need-to-depend-on-people-who-aren't-available thing...

...And Revelations:
~ Hey.... we can hire someone who loves kids to help out!
Most people don't get it... They have 1 (relatively normal/ laid-back) kid, or a nanny... or they have retired parents who are available to help... Or, they work outside the home - and so have regular child-care on hand... Sure, there are others out there who are with their kids consistently - and don't fit into any of those categories. Those people are either incredibly laid-back, don't have goals that involve keeping a connection with their spouse/ time for themselves - OR they don't give enough of a rip in the first place. 
But that was one revelation that can help! It hit me; Why don't WE get a nanny?! I don't think it's asking too much to want one or 2 days a week where I can depend on having some time to accomplish things for myself. I also don't think a few date-nights, and a couple of trips away are asking too much either - to remain fulfilled. Plus, it's good for everyone. The girls benefit from having parents who get to do things that make them happy in life. And so - I again realize that I do not need to depend on people for this... I can locate a person who specializes in this! Wallah! Let the nanny research begin!

Another revelation: I'm always the most actively looking to 'write' (aka: blog) when I'm in the very throws of complete & utter chaos!  Guess this is good therapy!

TIP: Writing can be good therapy! ;) Out-of-brain... onto-paper.
A QUOTE: "All earthly delights are sweeter in expectation than in enjoyment; but all spiritual pleasures more in fruition than in expectation." ~Francois Fenelon
WHIDFML: Let go of the pressure or expectation that in order to be a "good mom" - you have to either be there with your kids constantly - or leave them in the care of family. Time to find me some chosen 'family'! 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

So Honest!

This Photo by Joel

While driving home following a friend's event celebration, we realized that in our haste to make it there on time, we dressed in clothing that had been shoved to the back of the closet for the summer... 
Joel was the first to mention it... "Hey, do I (sniff, sniff) - do I smell like... closet, or something?" 
"I know!" I exclaimed, happy that it wasn't only me thinking this... "I thought I smelled like closet! Do I???" Joel was quick to reassure me that he hadn't noticed it on me, but that he thought he could sense it on himself. I felt the same way... In my mind, I was beginning to wonder whether we were smelling each other? Just then, a little peep out of the back seat remarked, "I think ya BOTH stink!" Ah, 4-year-old, blunt honesty. 
Suddenly, I didn't care if I smelled funny... I was laughing too hard to give a rip!

TIP: Rotate clothing stock, and/ or open the window in your closet when you are so lucky as to have one in there! ;)
A QUOTE: "An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup.~H. L. Mencken  
WHIDFML: Bought 6 tops, 2 of which are sweater-dresses per my mood/ preference, a pair of kick-ass cowgirl-lookin' jeans, and a purse, all for less than $18 at the thrift store!!! Now that's what I'm talkin' 'bout!  

Comedians in Training

Myla: "Who is the person in charge of a restaurant?"
Joel: "A Chef"
Myla: "What did the gorilla say to the chef?"
Joel: "What?"
Myla: "DUH! Gorillas don't talk to chefs!"

Upon hearing the above interaction...

Addie: "Why does the froggie say ribbit?"
Joel: "Why?" 
Addie: "Ummmmmmmmmmmm......."
Addie: "Why does the birdie say 'tweet'?"
Joel: "Why?"
Addie: "Tweet Tweet! ahahahahahaha!"

TIP: Set a good example by following your heart. Then, allow them to do the same.
A QUOTE: "A friendly look, a kindly smile, one good act, and life's worthwhile." ~Author Unknown
WHIDFML: Joel & I shared gluten-free pizza at "the Luce'" (pronounced "looch" -  by us - as we lovingly refer to it) before enjoying the final Twins game of the season at the stadium. [Pizza Luce's gf pizza = heaven]

1st Day of School!

Sooooo... One piece of mother's vengeance that I will not have to endure: Children screaming, crying & clinging like Koalas, because they don't want to go to school! Hooray! Hooray! Myla loves school!!

However, I guess when one isn't crying, the other must be - or what would I do with myself??? 
Poor Ad, she felt so left out those first few visits. But alas, she's looking forward to school that much more. So be it.

I'm not so sure Addie will require formal schooling to get by in the world. After dropping Myla off for her very first day, she broke-down over her desire to stay and play with the big kids. I explained that she'd get to do this next year, and in the meantime Addie is too little, and mommy is too big, to stay and play. 

But boy - did she play... She played her cards indescribably well, in fact! While in the truck on our way out of the parking lot, she pleaded with her poutiest pout, and her widest eyes, "Mommy? Can we go to a store and pick out a toooooooy?? Pleeeeeease?!" 
How could I deny her? (Especially when there is a dollar-section in the local Target?!) 

She's way ahead of the game already! Hahahahaha. 

A TIP: This one is passed along from a friend... If you drop a stick or 2 of cinnamon into your jug of Vinegar, the next time you clean, the scent will be neutralized. It worked! Now Myla doesn't have to hold her nose every time I use it. 
A QUOTE: "You learn something every day if you pay attention."  ~Ray LeBlond
WHIDFML: Spent much of this delicious summer outdoors. (Hence, the primary reason for my blogging hiatus as well!)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Am I the Only One????

I CAN'T be!
I mean, if you go into a store browsing cards, and come upon one bearing a photo of a little girl in a princess costume with a 'growl' on her face (similar to above) that reads like this:
"I CAN'T go into the store because it's Tuesday and I have a SCRATCH on my arm!" It can only mean this is more common than it seems, right??? (RIGHT?! Someone? Anyone?)
When opened, the interior finishes the thought with a wish for a 'relatively drama-free day' to the recipient. HEY! I'll take it - even if I bought it for MYSELF.

I'm not exaggerating when I share that Myla nearly quoted the card the very next day, as we were making our way into a store, by blurting out, "But I CAN'T go inside because my leg hurts and I need SUNGLASSES!" I looked at Joel like, "See?" We both laughed at the time - because the timing was truly uncanny. But in everyday life - it's no laughing matter for the 24-hour-a-day mom! We moms can only handle so much drama before our brains melt... And mine is again, on the verge of just that. Things are growing mushy up there these days~

I tried to explain to Joel that it's not so much that I need to get away from the girls... It's just that I need a few moments (okay, many more moments) of quiet... calm... the ability to finish a thought... an opp to pee all by myself (another funny card, mind you!)... simply - to not have the demands of constant supervision, refereeing, begging kids to eat & sleep, and the general racket & chaos that comes with having 2 kids under the age of 4 in the same house with you. If you're not careful - it can consume you. I don't know how some people make themselves go 'numb' enough to deal... (Though most tips from friends included alcohol!) I also don't really know how to 'train' Myla not to be so damn dramatic about everything. 

Tonight - when I handed her multiple consequences following multiple misdemeanors on her part - she exclaimed, "You're driving me crazy!" UHUH! Sorry honey - other way around. I guess there's another thing I should be more careful about discussing within earshot. But I think sometimes they actually NEED to really understand that they are misbehaving, and you can show it through your disappointment. There's no reason to hide your discontentment with naughty behavior. I can recall when I was a kid, one of my major motivators in generally being good/ usually listening to my parents was that I didn't want to disappoint them. If they don't really feel that their actions affect anyone - what makes them want to discontinue them?? Just like you can't let them out of their consequences - and still teach them that they will have to deal with the outcome of their choices.

She did later feel bad, and apologize - but I think it was a big disappointment for her, when she realized that while I welcomed her apology and reassured her lovingly - it didn't mean she was allowed to get out of her consequences. I don't want this night to unfold again any time soon... (make that - ever). 

So - blogging it here... in search of someone who can confirm that I'm not the only one living in chaos and drama at so many consistent intervals?? - Hello?? Somebody?? (I'm only hearing my own echo... Damn!) Also trying to get it off my chest. There. That's better. Repeat this mantra with me now, "Drama-Free is the Life for Me!" (I'm a member of this page on facebook!) ;)

Ciao fo now!

TIP: If they sense weakness, they will play that key over and over and over and over.... Discipline must be consistent and strong. Not easy - but worth it. 
A Quote: “To see your drama clearly is to be liberated from it.” ~Ken S. Keyes jr. 
Bonus Quote: “What allows us, as human beings, to psychologically survive life on earth, with all of its pain, drama, and challenges, is a sense of purpose and meaning” ~Barbara De Angelis
WHIDFML: Totally vegged-out tonight once I got the girls into bed (early!!)... Watched the season premier of Master Chef. I needed to just stop my brain from spinning for a while. Seemed to help with that numbness I was needing ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Fellow Gluten-Free State-Fair-Goers... Rejoice!

JUST have to share my HUGE JOY!!! Even more to look forward to at that Great MN Get-Together! Yes, Yes, YES!!!!!!!!!!!!

Here is the State Fair's 2010 list of Gluten Free foods: GF Vendor List MN State Fair 2010 

Here are the people you can thank for this list (find them in the HealthFair11bldg at the fair!): Northland Celiacs

Here is the blogger I must thank for having found this! The Savvy Celiac

Now, all I have to do is control myself when the rest of the fam is devouring those corn dogs~ [sheepish grin] This year: Joel and I take the girls... and on another occasion, we go sans-children! Score: Best of both worlds!

TIP: When one door closes, seek the open doors you hadn't noticed before :)
A QUOTE: "One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating."  ~Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story
WHIDFML: Caught up with a friend over Mojitos by the creek - after a walk by the river. Cheers to that! Had a blast, Karen!!

Mommy Doesn't Like Baby-Sitting...

Laughing already? Me too! She's right... I'm not so hip on 'baby-sitting'. I love my daughters, and am glad to have the opportunity to be home with them, but I'm not supposed to feel like I'm BABY-SITTING! It's supposed to be different when it's "your own kids" - hahahaha! Yeah, anywho... I'm going on roughly a month of no 'mommy-day'; These are days that I've grown to not only appreciate, but count on... and desperately NEED. I mean, again, I adore my babes, but we need those mommy-breaks. And, when I don't get one for an extended period of time, I find myself falling into that whole 'my brain can't finish a thought again' mode. Wait... what was I just saying? Oh - right! Okay - something about my brain getting fried. Love, Love, LOVE 'em! But, need time away to refresh as well. With 2 little ones at your feet - it kind of feels a lot like, well, chaos at times!

Funny how the girl put it. Joel says, "Hey - I'm gonna head up and start some food... Can you manage this one?" (meaning Myla) I gave him the "For REALZIES?!?" look of "DUDE, I'm FRIED - and I can't get up..." Myla seemed to catch on [though she'd been overhearing my discussions with Joel about (finally) formulating that "plan-b" for when the retired grandparents become unavailable for a day off... I guess I should be more cautious about being within earshot!] She looked at me, and looked at him with a pout, saying, "Mommy doesn't like baby-sitting." We laughed! She did too - she gets that I love her with all my being, and even said she has fun when she's with me! ;) So that was reassuring. 

TIP: Just do it. [I'd have taken my sis up on her offer to help out at times like these - but she's been so busy too lately - I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'll definitely need to give her a buzz. The girls have been talking about her a lot lately. They miss her!]
A QUOTE: "This is ridiculous. It's crazy. I feel like I'm babysitting, except I'm not getting paid." [Insert gum-chomping and eye-rolling here]  ~Stef, in The Goonies
WHIDFML: Bought & tried a gluten-free soft-baked cookie found in the natural foods section at Cub. Not many in there for the price - but it's all healthy - and considering that - they're rather good! Also picked up some Betty Crocker gf choc-chip cookie mix! Can't wait to try. If it's as good as their gf cake mix - I'll be SOOOOO happy! [I miss cookies.]

Gotta Give My Props!

Okay - I just have a freakin' LIST of great products/ tips here... This may count as one, giant TIP and WHIDFML!

Thought I had to choose between greys or tumultuous tresses... No longer! I DID find a "happy medium" product out there (somewhere in between making a mess of every shirt worn, pillow-case slept upon, or towel dried with - and the opposite extreme: harsh chemicals that make your color last longer)... It's Herbatint! Can only be found online - for approx $10/ box... PLUS $6 s&h... BUT, the bonus is that since I'm only applying streaky-low-lights, I get 2 uses out of that box! It's SO much better for the hair, FAB color, and my strands are still manageable and low-maintenance! I use 2 additionally new (and inexpensive) products to help with that trend: Garnier Fructis brand Sleek & Shine Anti-frizz serum... ($4-5/ bottle, need one to two pumps - me love you long time), AND, same brand 3-Minute Undo, Tripple Nutrition conditioning treatment ($3/ tube). *TRICK: leave a tad in the hair - don't completely rinse out. The combo works wonders when color-treating... and this new colorant is such a find!

Also recently substituted our regular Seventh Generation Dish-washing Liquid Gel with a Method brand of drop-in-style detergent. Never again! Seventh Gen works miraculously on dishes - whereas the Method brand left a film over EVERYTHING. (BTW - this film doesn't simply rinse away... must be scrubbed off.) While I'm a huge fan of Method brand for other cleaning items - this one didn't slice it for us. 

For fellow Gluten-intolerant folks out there - I found a french bread & pizza mix by Gluten Free Pantry that turned our home-made pizza into now-edible-YUM! The only prob is that I can't seem to find it anywhere locally... We found this in the grocery store up in Alexandria, MN. May need to ask my MIL to pick them up for us periodically! (Still haven't managed the google search...)
We also found there, a package of "Premium Gluten Free English Muffins" by GLUMNO. OMG - TDF! Tastes just like the "real" thing ;) Still a pending search to locate more of these as well...

While I'm at it - I might as well also throw in a BOO for soy products... It's SOOOOO frustrating to me that I had to find out about this possibility via another health-aware friend, and DIG for the information to learn that there may be cause for concern over the supposed "super-food" that's been sweeping the market. Not surprisingly, all of the 'yay-sayers' (at least in this very informative article - provided below) are somehow influenced by the financial gain to be obtained by the soy market. I have to say that I've had some really strange effects when I've consumed it - particularly when I've consumed it via multiple sources in one day. (ie: soybeans in the veggies w/ dinner, and a glass of soy milk...) We were using butter made from soy, soy milk, soy beans, soy-based ice cream, tofu etc, etc, etc... After reading this - combined with my own odd experiences and bodily reactions - I've been phasing it out of our diet. The thing that angers me, however, is that when our daughter was determined to be lactose intolerant, and I found myself pregnant again - we moved to formula - that was of course, soy-based. Thankfully, that formula didn't agree with our second daughter, and we wound up feeding her a milk-based product for the majority of her infancy. BUT ARGH! It pisses me off that our FDA will approve anything that means financial gain - even allowing false/ unconfirmed health claims to promote the product's use in nearly everything now. Thankfully - there is such thing as a soy allergy (sorry to those of you who may suffer from it!) But I think that's the only reason manufacturers are continuing to make soy-free options! See article HERE

This does lead into my final happy-point for this post: Calcium-fortified RICE DREAM! I love it. Thank you to the makers of this, as well as to another fab find: Trader Joe's Organic Whole Grain Drinks! It's just like milk - so tasty. Now that I'm mildly dairy intolerant (milk), and want to avoid the noticeable-whether-scientifically-proven-or-not-hazards of soy... along with my need to ingest whole grains that aren't gluten-laden, these are my saving grace! (I LOVE milk.)

ALSO! Since we ousted the soy ice cream, we decided to try a regular ice cream: TJ's Super Premium Ice Cream in chocolate... HOLY SHEISSE! I'm in LOVE. (Thankfully, my bod can handle 'dairy' in the form of ice cream, cheese, and other processed forms.)
I may have plugged them before - but in general - I heart Trader Joe's! They specialize in unique, hard-to-find, gourmet, and ALL-NATURAL (many, many organic options) of AFFORDABLE groceries! I don't know what I did without them. And as a Gluten-avoiding girl, it's truly amazing! Check out their list of gluten-free goods (6 pages long!!!!) TJ's Gluten-Free List

Whew! Now that I got all of that off of my chest... I feel like I've done my duty to spread the word. Kudos!

A QUOTE: "Enthusiasm is excitement with inspiration, motivation, and a pinch of creativity. "
~Bo Bennett