Tag Archives: advocacy

stitch fix #2, 3, & 4

Shall we catch up on a little Stitch Fix action, friends? With my Lent-blog-fast and our eternal winter here in Michigan, I have received a couple more boxes but haven’t shown you the goods. Let’s do that and make the world right again.


Remember how this works? You sign up HERE and fill out a survey on your sizes and preferences. They give you a delivery date and a beautiful box magically appears on your door with 5 items inside and a note from a stylist. Your account is charged $20 whether you keep anything or not. That $20 is credited towards any items you decide to buy, and you have 3 days to decide once your package arrives. If you purchase all 5 items, you get a 25% discount. Whatever you decide to return goes in a pre-paid, pre-addressed envelope- EASY. Basically, you risk $20 on this adventure. I’ve received 4 boxes and have kept at least one thing from each box.

Everything always comes so nicely packaged. Such a treat. There’s tissue paper and envelopes and belts tied around clothing… makes this mamma’s heart so happy. Truly.


Stitch Fix #2



When the navy 41Hawthorn Abriana Cardigan showed up, I was thrilled. It was exactly what I had asked for… a simple, lightweight wardrobe staple. I took the tags off immediately, threw it over the Tart tank from Stitch Fix #1, and headed to the bus stop. I also kept the Kut From The Kloth Guiliana jeans, which in the real world are Josephine jeans. Not sure why they change the model names on the jeans, but that’s been true in every box I’ve received.  The Guiliana/Josephine jeans are a solid, dark navy wash.

The Kensie Sweater was a no- too tight and not well-made for the price. The sweater itself was lightweight and wonderfully soft, but the faux-blouse pieces underneath kill it. Much more of a Target-type piece than a boutique piece. I did love the red blouse, but honestly, folks- there is something wrong with my arms. I have little tiny chicken arms, but all the shirts I’ve tried on in the past 4 years have been too tight around the upper arm. So weird. I blame my children. The LA Made Shirtdress was super cute and SUPER comfy, but a size too big on me up top. Ahem.

For fix #3, I asked for another pair of KFTK jeans (since we had the sizing right and I love the fit) and a dress or two to choose from for spring.

Stitch Fix #3


My happiest of days… when this Pomelo Sedona Shirtdress showed up in my life. Lots of folks have had trouble with the fit on this dress/tunic, but the medium was perfect and loose on me. I wear it both over jeans and over tights. There is an attached belt that I tie in the back instead of the front, making it hang more like an artist shirt than a dress. I’m not exaggerating when I say I wear this twice a week. It’s quality weight fabric with a little shimmer to it. Love. LOVE.


I’ve had a different stylist for every fix, but they are obviously reading my comments and taking not of my requests. I received and kept a regular pair of traditional-wash denim jeans (labeled Kut From The Kloth Simmons for Stitch Fix but Farrah on the actual jeans). I also kept the rayon Daniel Rainn Ishara Lace Detail Blouse. The color of this blouse is gorgeous- the ipHone is not doing it any favors. It’s also like nothing else I own, so it was a good addition to the slightly-more-dressy side of my small closet.


The 41Hawthorn Sugar Dot Fit and Flare Dress was SUPER cute and Curt is still not speaking to me for sending it back, but it was just a tad too short for me to be comfortable. I wanted one more inch in the torso and a couple of inches on the hem. I think (LAWD), I THINK, I am past the age of wearing skirts that are above the knee. *sigh* I promised myself I would only buy things that I absolutely love and that fit me NOW. Therefore, no dress. The Pomelo Cutout Top was too wacky for me with the cutout in the back. I couldn’t do it. I tried, but I couldn’t do it.

For Fix #4, I asked for a jersey skirts and maybe a jean jacket for the summer.

Stitch Fix #4


Fix #4 arrived with a pair of Kut From the Kloth Lacie boyfriend jeans (which are actually the Catherine model) that I already owned (thanks to a killer sale on Amazon) so those were returned. The maxi dress was cute and well-made, but just not my style. I wanted to keep the Pomelo Jersey Top because it is the softest thing I’ve ever felt in my life, but Curt was bugged by the cross-over detail in the front. I knew I wouldn’t wear it much if he wasn’t a big fan… though I considered keeping it to sleep with like a security blanket. I think it’s made of angel breath and clouds.


(photo credit to Rylie who told me to “LOOK DOWN”) I kept the Lily Poppie Swing Skirt… it’s sooooo soft, beautifully lined, and the perfect length for me right now (points to Stitch Fix for totally reading my notes about wanting longer lengths). It’s also the exact navy of the 41Hawthorn Cardigan from Fix #2. I also kept the green sleeveless Collective Concepts Button-Up Blouse for the same reasons as the Rainn blouse from Fix #3… dressier than my usual but still within my comfort zone. No picture of me actually wearing that one and I don’t know why. Next time.

For the next fix, I asked for a little more Bohemia and a little less Classic Prep.

I love getting to try these clothes on at home- SUCH a luxury for me way out here in the sticks. I think I’ve got one more fix in me before I take a break for a couple months. I do love the surprise and the ease of “shopping” with them. I’ve added some very nice, very practical items to my drawers without stepping foot in a mall… and that basically make my year.

If you’re on the fence, I think you should go for it. You should. Be specific about what you like and be really, really honest about your sizing. It’s a good time. Remember: while I’ve always opted for clothing ONLY, Stitch Fix also does accessories like jewelry and scarves and bags. Lots of choices! Los of fun!

[Stitch Fix did not pay me for this review. I signed up because a friend referred me, and I paid for the clothing myself. That friend who referred me received a $25 credit to her stitch fix account when I received my first box. If you use this link and follow-through with your own first box, I will receive a credit as well.] 

STITCH FIX #1 review


buckle up

We are headed south to the Mother Country for the next week.

Texas, I’m comin’ for ya.


Someone please get me this shirt for Christmas.

I’m a medium. 

The last time we were in a vehicle for 20 hours (which, ridiculously, was only two months ago) each way, Curt and I were deciding what we’d like to do over the next few days of “vacation” (P.S. “vacation” is a dumb word when you have 3 young kids… it’s a TRIP, not a vacation). He asked what I wanted MOST and I answered, “Read. By myself. Read by myself alone.”

It was quiet for a moment until he looked over at me and said,

“You are so unpredictably boring!”

Coming from a man who calculates odometer accuracy for a good time, this stung a little.

On the other hand, I certainly never claimed to be the poster child for excitement. I used to be cool. I climbed big rocks with little ropes and I sang on big stages and I travelled the world with a backpack. Now I’m completely content to catch a re-run of M*A*S*H on tv and make homemade popcorn. I know things have changed.

On the OTHER HAND (Fiddler reference there),  I took a naked child to a doctor’s appointment AND recess duty because she puked all over the van, her clothes, and her carseat on the way INTO town, I watched Lazarus the Calf come back from the dead, and I taught Gus Man how to crack eggs for pancakes.

I’m all about adventure, People.

It just looks different now.

All that to say, I’m a little nervous for our upcoming travel conversations. Any question prompts for me? Can you make me more interesting?

And because my life always come back to books, I need to ask you:

Have you read True (…sort of) by Katherine Hannigan?



It is absolutely one of the top 10 books of my life. I would describe it as a modern-day Charlie Brown story: good kid with bad luck changes the/her/my world. It’s Young Adult fiction, but do not assume that means it’s simple or beneath you or childish. It’s amazing and funny and heartbreaking. She has broken characters that are stunning and true. The language and expression took me by complete surprise… I could see every thought and understand every emotion. Hope and Loyalty and Faith all play heavy here… you can see why I am a fan. Do yourself a favor and read it whilst I’m on the road, ok?

I have Someday Someday Maybe and The Eyre Affair on audiobook for my graveyard driving shifts. We have a tractor show on the calendar, a date night in San Antonio, and a cow show in Ft. Worth. There are also a handful of college roommate hugs and one ‘meet me at an exit on the highway as we pass through town’ in the works.

I cannot wait.

I’ll yell when we get there.

Please pray.

good times

I squeezed myself into a pair of snow pants this weekend… they were definitely a size too small BUT full of good memories.  Look at what I found still attached to the pocket:

my lift tag from way back when Curtis James and I got engagedlift ticket

I get all dreamy-eyed and happy when I remember that trip. And, a little mad. The boy owes me some hot chocolate.  Finding that gem made the difficult breathing all afternoon worth it. Man, I was a lot smaller in those days.  And, apparently, shorter.

Plus, seeing these faces didn’t hurt:

my loves collage

Abby was fairly under-whelmed by the whole ordeal, as you can see. Gideon spent most of his day falling in the stream at the bottom or making snow angels- face down. Ry was a master on her zipfy sled*… it was so fun to watch her take off on her own.  There was once incident near the end involving some branches and her chin, but she came out alright.

Do I know how you got engaged? Share, please.

Hey!  Today’s your last day to put in an order for sweatshirts… I’m emailing the printer tomorrow 🙂

*zipfy sleds = can be found at Meijer or HERE. Super lightweight and great for kiddos (or adults) who want control but independence.  Both Gid and Ry have their own. They also work on sand dunes. Ask me how I know.

2012 reading highlights

I love words. I dream words. When I read, I think, “MY LANTA, that was an incredible sentence.” I do.  One of the perks of reading on a Kindle is that it keeps all your highlights online so you can pull them back up at a moment’s notice… like, perhaps, when re-capping your year through books.  These are the special truths I found in pages this year.

Now, a few superstars are missing. I read some incredible words the perfectly old-fashioned way… but those quotes shall remain in the books, like the should-have-been photos of the lovely day when you forgot your camera. Those specials are for re-reading and re-finding another day.

I hope you find some laughter and widsom and beauty below.

What was your favorite book this year?

What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty

(The boy had a skinny, tiny-eyed face like a rat. She was twenty-five before it occurred to her that she could have insulted him back, but the rule of life was that the boys got to decide which girls were pretty; it didn’t really matter how ugly they were themselves.)

Hope for the Weary Mom: Where God Meets You in Your Mess {Expanded Edition} by Brooke McGlothlin, Stacey Thacker

Ephesians 3:20-21:   “God can do anything, you know―far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. . .
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” C.S. Lewis
Why do we seek Him? Is it so He can perform for us, take care of all our needs, bind up our wounds, raise our dead? He is that God. He sees us. But if we only follow Him because of what He does, there will come a time when we feel like He doesn’t. And then we must choose if we will turn away or follow through the times when life hurts too much because of who He is, the God who bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2), and gives up His all to give us life.
We are mistaken if we believe our good parenting moves God in any way to act on our behalf. And while it’s not wrong of us to long for the salvation of our homes, it IS wrong for us to believe God brings salvation in response to our behavior.   Everything God does, He does for Himself.   “Thus says the Lord God: ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of My holy Name.’” (Ezekiel 36:22)
I’m pretty sure God allows suffering and challenge in our lives to bring us to a place of raw dependence.   I’m NOT saying my child, or Tracey’s, died just so we could be more like Jesus. But I AM saying it would be a waste not to let them make us more like Jesus . . .
He had been able to repress every disrespectful word; but the flashing eye, the gloomy and troubled brow, were part of a natural language that could not be repressed,—indubitable signs, which showed too plainly that the man could not become a thing.
In the book of John, the disciples saw a man who had been blind since birth. They asked Jesus, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus replied, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:1-3). I believe in a God who is sovereign over all—sovereign from the first second that James existed, growing inside me, and sovereign over every decision I made for him, the good and the possibly bad. Instead of living in the “what-ifs” and “should haves,” I have to move on. I have to trust that through James’s life, the works of God might be displayed.
Having a team of therapists has benefited James because when there is an issue, each member of the team looks at it from a different perspective.
Outlander: with Bonus Content by Diana Gabaldon

A man killed with a musket was just as dead as one killed with a mortar. It was just that the mortar killed impersonally, destroying dozens of men, while the musket was fired by one man who could see the eyes of the one he killed. That made it murder, it seemed to me, not war. How many men to make a war? Enough, perhaps, so they didn’t really have to see each other?
There comes a turning point in intense physical struggle where one abandons oneself to a profligate usage of strength and bodily resource, ignoring the costs until the struggle is over. Women find this point in childbirth; men in battle.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

It was the first story she’d ever trapped on paper, and to see her thoughts and ideas turned concrete was curious. It made her skin seem unusually sensitive, strangely exposed and vulnerable.
I want them to press through the anxiety and stress of placing their creation in front of an inevitably critical audience. And when the repast doesn’t earn rave reviews from all the mealtime judges, I want them to learn that their worth should never be tied to success or failure.
Early on, I realized that even though the role of Enforcer doesn’t come naturally to my laid-back personality, I couldn’t let it bother me that the kids didn’t want to work; the fact was, they needed to work.
Nothing was being asked of him that he couldn’t do. Plus, I’m always there to help—probably too often and too much. It really boiled down to the fact that he only wanted work based on his terms. Isn’t that how we all want it to be?
In our society, children are generally not required to do meaningful work to help their families. Going to school, pursuing their extracurricular activities, and staying out of major trouble is considered their function. In the old days, boys (and girls) had chores and roles that were vitally important to the survival and functioning of their family unit. These roles gave children a sense of self-worth, vitality, and importance. They knew that they were an integral part of the survival of their family and that without their contribution, it would suffer.”
Cleaning methods are a frequent bone of contention between parents and children. A parent’s insistence on “the right way” can add another element of conflict to the housework issue. The answer? Avoid this by focusing on the “good-enough” job. A 10-year-old’s skill with the vacuum cleaner will increase with practice … if he’s not derailed by arguments over too-high standards or demoralized when a parent redoes the work.
No, in life, like in school, the best time to do our best work is the first time. It is what is asked of us, it is how we are gauged, it is the expectation for the job at hand, and if we can’t perform at that level, we may be asked to step down. Or worse, we will be an inhibitor to a company or a ministry. The Lord is clear in Scripture on the topic of work. In Proverbs 21:5 we are taught, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.” …
The stronger my faith (resting in what is known rather than seen), the more I listen, the faster I respond, the less I complain and push back … the deeper my intimacy with God, the more often I’m called to serve, the greater my peace and contentment. The lesson for me, and the one I’d love for all my kids to grasp? Be the go-to, uncomplaining, submitting, teachable worker. In a counter-intuitive sort of way, peace and freedom accompany that path of surrendered obedience.
A dollar lost is more compelling than a dollar earned.
Dan Myers’s book Biblical Parenting, which I thought sums up our job well: In a nutshell, the answer to child-rearing is to love one’s children, use good common sense, and be guided by the Bible, not worldly standards. For parenting, “Do as I say and not as I do,” is not sufficient. You must be the person you would like your children to become. Jesus, Matthew 22:37–39, said you can do this by (1) loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind and (2) by loving your neighbors as yourself.… Remember that the goal of parenting is not to provide a successful childhood but to grow your child into an adult who is a good person.
Hospitality is the virtue which allows us to break through the narrowness of our own fears and to open our houses to the stranger, with the intuition that salvation comes to us in the form of a tired traveler. —HENRI J. M. NOUWEN
people tend to participate more eagerly when they help set the agenda rather than simply executing ideas that have been pushed upon them.
Parents must stand united, not “against” the children, but in leadership “before” the children. It is the obligation of parents to make sure children feel loved and respected. It is not the obligation of parents to ensure children feel happy. —Dottie Jones
Work is the vehicle through which God cares for creation (see Genesis 2:15). The satisfaction that comes from accomplishment, from demonstrating responsibility, from making even a small difference in our world is written into our DNA. My role as the parent is to love these kids, nurture them, and teach them how to embrace what they were created to do.
Home to Woefield: A Novel by Susan Juby

The personality I’ve got naturally is not your all-occasions variety.
She smiled. Her teeth were extra white and probably not from bleaching but from inner purity or something.
I debated whether to tell them I had long since abandoned my writing career and moved into radishes and fraud, but decided the timing was wrong.
I’d promised everyone that we would put up proper fences and build a barn before winter, but I didn’t have enough money and I knew when I made the promises I was not being entirely truthful. Lying had become habitual since I became a farmer.
Oh My Stars: A Novel by Lorna Landvik

From what I can see, miracles are built from love, and as far as love is concerned, I am a true believer.
Esben was convinced that because she did things she didn’t want to do and did them joyfully, her Christian heart was beyond reproof, whereas Leola was of the mind that if the thoughts were rotten, everything that sprung from them had to be tainted too.
She sang along with two songs she had learned from the past night’s concerts, but when they started improvising again, urging Violet’s participation, she declined, choosing instead to sit back and listen. As exhilarated as she was, she was bushed; they had traveled less than sixty miles today, and yet Violet felt she had crossed several borders.
It’s funny, the family heirlooms we pass down to kids—bone china, jewelry, cash, real estate—but we can’t bequeath them the really important things, like friends. The really important things they have to find themselves.
“Acting your age” as an eighteen-year-old meant acting like an adult; we weren’t coddled and didn’t have the luxury of stretching our adolescence into our thirties, as seems to be the trend now.
Of course you don’t get to be my age without learning that “Why?” is the million-dollar question—the who-what-where-when-and-how questions reporters try to answer are a piece of cake compared to the why. If you’re able to explain the why, you’re able to explain everything, and when’s the last time you were that smart?
For parents, there’s nothing sweeter than seeing your child fight her demons and win.
Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay

There is an ancient rule: actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea—“the act does not create guilt unless the mind is also guilty.” That is why we do not convict children, drunks, and schizophrenics: they are incapable of deciding to commit their crimes with a true understanding of the significance of their actions. Free will is as important to the law as it is to religion or any other code of morality. We do not punish the leopard for its wildness.
Life goes on, probably too long if we’re being honest about it. In a long life there are thirty or thirty-five thousand days to be got through, but only a few dozen that really matter, Big Days when Something Momentous Happens. The rest—the vast majority, tens of thousands of days—are unremarkable, repetitive, even monotonous.
The Talk-Funny Girl: A Novel by Roland Merullo

There are some kinds of sorrow that words can never reach, certain kinds of things you can never hold in the box of your thoughts, certain kinds of pain you can’t soften in other people.
All that bruise and confusion, all that guilt and shame and buried anger: I wanted to go back and hunt it down and close the hurt-museum for good, though I discovered you cannot really do that. What you can do, what you have to do, is not pass too much of it on. If you can stop that trouble from flowing through you onto your children and husband and other people, or even if you can dilute it, then it seems to me your life ought to be pleasing to whatever kind God it was who made you.
The Language of Flowers: A Novel by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Before I realized I was crying, a tear dropped from the tip of my chin onto the baby’s cheek. It ran in a thin line to the edge of her mouth, and her red lips puckered in surprise. I laughed, and the tears ran faster. The open forgiveness in her eyes, the uncensored love, terrified me. Like Grant, my daughter deserved so much more than I could give her. I wanted her to carry hawthorn, laugh easily, and love without fear. But I could not give her this, could not teach her what I didn’t know. It would be only a matter of time before my toxicity would taint her perfection. It would leak out of my body, and she would swallow it with the willingness of a ravenous infant. I had hurt every person I had ever known; I wanted, desperately, to save her from the dangers of being my daughter.
If it was true that moss did not have roots, and maternal love could grow spontaneously, as if from nothing, perhaps I had been wrong to believe myself unfit to raise my daughter. Perhaps the unattached, the unwanted, the unloved, could grow to give love as lushly as anyone else.
Maybe she would be scared, and maybe I would feel overwhelmed, but we would try again the next week and the one after that. Over time, we would learn each other, and I would learn to love her like a mother loves a daughter, imperfectly and without roots.
Earl, for example, comes into Bloom asking for flowers that will make his wife “happy”—but when pressed, he realizes it isn’t happiness at all that he’s looking for, but rather connection and communication. So many people walk around with a vague feeling of discontentment without ever understanding what it is that’s making them feel dissatisfied. Through her conversations with her customers, Victoria helps them become clear about what it is they want in their lives. The bouquets she creates for them are physical manifestations of these desires, and when customers leave her shop with flowers in their hands, they do so believing change to be imminent. In my experience, it is this belief that has the power to transform lives.
severe attachment disorders were thought of almost like a life sentence. Study after study illustrated that early relationships between caregivers and infants actually shape the circuits of the brain and lay the foundation for later developmental outcomes—from academic performance and interpersonal skills to physical and mental health. But new research out of the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University shows that the brain retains its ability to change far into life. Learning to securely attach at any time in one’s life—to a caregiver (as Victoria does with Elizabeth) or even to a partner (as Victoria does with Grant)—has the ability to “rewire” circuits in the brain. This is hopeful research for those like Victoria, who are determined to overcome the trauma they have experienced and learn to love themselves and others.
The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

I was raised among books, making invisible friends in pages that seemed cast from dust and whose smell I carry on my hands to this day.
“Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them,” said my father.
Expecting Adam: A True Story of Birth, Rebirth, and Everyday Magic by Martha Beck

no matter who was around me, no matter how helpful and loving people tried to be, I was still going to end up facing my fears alone.
It is a frightening thing to love someone you know the world rejects. It makes you so terribly vulnerable. You know you will be hurt by every slight, every prejudice, every pain that will befall your beloved throughout his life.
We go around like Queen Elizabeth, bless her heart, clutching our dowdy little accessories, avoiding the slightest hint of impropriety, never showing our real feelings or touching anyone else except through glove leather. But we were dazed and confused when the openly depressed, bulimic, adulterous, rejected Princess Di was the one people really adored. Living with Adam, loving Adam, has taught me a lot about the truth. He has taught me to look at things in themselves, not at the value a brutal and often senseless world assigns to them. As Adam’s mother I have been able to see quite clearly that he is no less beautiful for being called ugly, no less wise for appearing dull, no less precious for being seen as worthless. And neither am I.
He’s got that way of believing his opinion is the truth, but he’s not disagreeable about it. He’s too sure he’s right to bother being disagreeable.
I think you learn more if you’re laughing at the same time.
Isola exaggerates, but only enough to enjoy herself.
All those people I’ve come to know and even love a little, waiting to see—me. And I, without any paper to hide behind. Sidney, in these past two or three years, I have become better at writing than living—and think what you do to my writing. On the page, I’m perfectly charming, but that’s just a trick I learned. It has nothing to do with me.
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

A miracle contradicts the will of earth.
Fair is whatever God wants to do.
Rules of Civility: A Novel by Amor Towles

I had the house salad—a terrific concoction of iceberg greens, cold blue cheese and warm red bacon. If I were a country, I would have made it my flag.

moveable feast

[Note: This post and all advocacy posts are unsponsored and unaffiliated. I bought any and all items discussed with my own pennies and no one is editing the content of this or any post except myself.  Ever.]

So, lunch.  MmmmHmmm. Let’s talk about this real quick, shall we?  Ry has to take a snack every day to school.  Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays she takes a lunch and 2 snacks since it’s a full day.  Plus, she’s got at least an hour on the bus, and this little girl… her body eats up energy just walking, so we need some good food.  Everyday. Lots of it.

Here’s the situation:

We use this Happy Tiffin lunch box.  Um, love it.  It can go in the dishwasher.  It has 2 compartments and the lid doubles as a plate.  Plastic baggies are unnecessary with the food-grade stainless steel.  The side latches are secure and simple enough for Ry’s little fingers.  It’s $16.  She thinks it’s cute and is so excited to open it every day. Win.

Confession: when this first arrived, I kind of freaked out thinking it was too small.  For the first time EVER [lie], I was completely wrong.  Smaller portions and a variety of options each day ensure that lunch box comes home completely empty.  I just had to re-work my old-fashioned brain a little bit.  Does she need a whole apple?  No.  Would she eat 4 apple slices and some granola in a cute cup?  Yes.   It’s PLENTY of room for her 2 snacks, lunch, and a couple extra snacks just in case of a bus snack attack.  She carries a water bottle separately.  

I bought a $4 cookie cutter for sandwiches that fits perfectly in the tin.  It cuts out, like 87% [questionable math alert] of a regular slice of bread, so there’s very little waste (zero waste if you have a 2 year old scavenger around) and she’s super excited to eat it.  You can find bajillions [yes] of cookie cutter options in the baking aisle at the grocery store.  We also use these silicone baking cups when they don’t have rocks and lego people in them GIDEON JAMES.

I’d like to buy a couple sets of these ice pop molds to freeze yogurt in and such.  Or, maybe these ones since they are a little smaller.

It’s a peanut-free school. Tree nuts are ok.  No problem.  I stocked up on peanut-free SCHOOL ONLY snacks to make things easier. I had to hide them because my children are crazy.  We go big on crunchy snacks because they are so tactile for Ry.  Her mouth and speech need lots of activity to make things work better.  Did you know your snacks can help develop good speech patterns?  They can.  I do not lie.  Carrot sticks and pretzels and almonds and crackers… all these things help wake her muscles up.

She loves to dip, so hummus goes in quite a bit using one of these little guys from LunchBots.   I’m saving up to get this triple set from them as well.  There will only be more lunches to pack in the future and it would be nice to have backups in different sizes while something else is in the dishwasher or if [like this would happen] someone left their lunch box at school GIDEON JAMES IN 3 YEARS.

Confession: I don’t insulate anything.  Everything that goes in the lunch or snack bag is frozen or able to survive the day without an ice pack. I can never remember to take the little gel pack out and re-freeze it.  Honestly, it’s like I missed a class or something.  So, it’s out.  FORGET YOU, ICE PACKS!  You are not the boss of me!  [runs to her room, slams door]

Some of our staples:  pretzels, goldfish crackers, triscuits, kiwi, apple slices, grapes, bananas, cucumber slices, hummus, cherry tomatoes, raisins, Monkey Bars, Stretch Island Fruit Co. fruit strips, popcorn, string cheese, carrot sticks

Alright, what are your school lunch favorites?

In my day, I took a bagel sandwich with cream cheese and ham.  And a whole dill pickle wrapped in foil.  Every. Single. Day. I did.


My brother called this weekend to tell me I would be an Aunt in September.  After the initial You’re Too Young and Is This Even Legal panic, I remembered he has a very steady job, he is married to the nicest person I’ve ever met, and he’s 32 now.  So, sure.  You can have a baby.  But you’ll always be 14 in my mind, Brotha.  Congratulations to you both.

Claire had her baby, sweet William.  So did MC.  And Steph (Pat’s daughter and my bff) is pregnant, too.  Abbey’s little Zoie came home from the Congo yesterday.  It’s been a bit of a wild weekend to say the least.  Everyone needs to just settle down, ok? I canna handle all the excitement.

So very much to celebrate, and I am thankful.

Are you a reader?  I’m a reader.  I spent most of my early childhood in a library reading books from A-Z in order.  I won every summer book club award that was offered.  I earned at least five Pizza Hut mini-basketballs.  I read everything I could get my hands on… still do, though my time is significantly different now.   As an ARMY brat living overseas, books were a comfort in the absence of American tv and children my age in the neighborhood.  I fell into the stories and made friends and family out of the characters there.  I read in the on the long drives to school, I read under the sheets at night.  I still am a slave to story.  My favorites of all time are listed in the right sidebar of the blog.  The people and places in those books are like a second part of me.

I bought myself a Kindle just before Abby June was born In December.  As an extreme book-lover, it was a difficult decision.  I felt like I was killing Kathleen Kelly’s dream all over again.  But getting to the library is increasingly hard these days (we are not quiet) and my bookshelves are full to the brim (even after multiple trips to Goodwill).  It was a good option for me.  Just the book version… no movies or games or extra options, lest I find even more ways to waste/kill/suck time.

Here are my Kindle archives thus far (yes, since December… I know, it’s a sickness):

All were checked out from our local library using the ebook feature except Peace Like a River, which I bought and am happy to own.

[I have zero, nada, no affiliation with amazon.com.]

The 19th Wife

The Feast Nearby

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest

Home Another Way

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

The Magicians

The Magician King

The Paris Wife

Rules of Civility

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan


A Walk in the Woods

Peace Like a River

Tess of the d’Urbervilles

finishing: Parrot and Oliver in America

on deck: Expecting Adam

I’m keeping a list here of books others have loved or suggested I try out.  Am I missing anything?


The stillness implied in this photo is such a total lie.  Thank you, Laura, for catching a magical moment.

We have three children now.

The first question out of everyone’s mouth is, “How’s it going?”  The second is, “So, are you done?”  Well, we’re doing great and I dunno.  I really don’t.  Neither Curt or I have that overwhelming feeling of completion we were told we’d have when our family was all here… so there very well may be another on the way.


Not right now.


It’s certainly been an adjustment, having three short humans to buckle in every time… but, thankfully, it’s been the easiest adjustment of the three.  Here are a few material things that have smoothed the way:

A whole new reason to love Burt… the hand salve.  I did so much better this 3rd time around packing for the hospital.  Comfortable pj pants, my own tank tops, my own socks… and my own Burt’s.  This hand salve is perfect for Mamma’s dry hospital hands AND newborn skin massages.

This rocker by Fisher-Price has been lovely.  It’s completely NOT intended for your 30 pound 2-year-old, but I have to admit it has held up well under his affection.  Gus and Rylie are sharing a room right now,  but he’s still in the crib and will be until Jesus returns.  Abby has taken up residence in the rocker until she’s able to roll over.    I searched high and low for a wooden cradle deep with story… perhaps made by English nuns during The Great War, but it was not to be.  Instead, this little guy kept popping up in reviews.  It’s lightweight, up off the floor, bed-height, and inclined.  For $40, you really can’t beat it.  I wish I had found it when Gus was a newborn. (PS: Gideon is pretending he is sleeping in the photo, in case you needed some help.)

So, that’s not me in the photo- though I really love her skirt.  I did break down and buy an ergonomic baby carrier for Abby last week… we went with the Boba 3G because it fits kiddos starting at 7 pounds without having to buy a newborn insert.  It’s by far the most luxurious thing I’ve purchased but already so worth it.  With as much as we are moving, moving, moving these days, I need that baby attached to me and both hands free.  I love it.

There are a number of new and soon-to-be new arrivals in our Apple Pie neighborhood.  I’m curious to know what things made your life easier when your kiddos were teeny-tiny?

Show me your pantry.

Our Pat has chemo #1 of 6 today.  An update from Lauren can be found HERE.

One hundred million points and a silly surprise to the person who can correctly identify the object in these photos by Thursday:

close up (top) and full view (bottom)


I’m the first to admit to having a lot of room for growth in my life.  I am indeed an imperfect mother, wife, and friend.  That being said, it hurts my heart to confess I have been called out on one particular area more than once in our marriage.  It is a recurring battle.  A bruise that will not heal.  I am hoping you can help me.

Apparently, the snacks readily available in our house suck eggs.

[hangs head in shame]

Mulder usuals: string cheese, goldfish crackers, popcorn, oreos, chips and salsa.

I took the 2nd step (the first being admitting there is a problem) to correcting this problem by buying some appropriate goods to store things in (step 2: make a plan).  I hate having open boxes and smooshy bags in the pantry.  With a roaming 4 year-old, this is simply asking for trouble.  And, time-out.  These lovelies by Snapware are made in the USA and BPA free.  You can fit your whole hand inside if necessary, and the lid pops up but STAYS ATTACHED.  There’s even a glass option.  Mercy.  Somewhere in my youth, or childhood, I must have done something good.

I bought 3… 2 large and one small.  They are filled with chex mix and nilla wafers at the moment.  I stand before you a woman ready to be taught (step 3: openess) in the ways of snacking.  What are the cool snacks?  What should always be available?

I need to start practicing buying these things (step 4: action).  I want to be the ‘cool house.’  I want to be the house where kids come over knowing there’s rockin’ treats in the pantry.  Goodness knows, my kids will be on Opra’s cable network for plenty of other legitimate reasons involving their upbringing.  We need not add “Poor Snacks” to the list.

Teach me. I ready.  What’s in your pantry?  

Happy Valentine’s Day, Folks!  We love you here at TexasNorth!

fly me to the moon

Honest truth?  Last week was bad.  Dark and deep and lonely and I had to crawl my way out.  Rylie’s insurance appeal was denied.  Again.  Because insurance is dumb.  We had to leave music class/therapy early.  Again.  Because she was losing her mind.  I let her open the Oreos in the grocery store.  Again.  Because I had nothing left in the tank.  No Super Mom juice.  No nothin’.  And to top it all off we were ALL snot-nosed, sore throat sick.  Not pretty, Folks.  Not. Pretty. 

To avoid being a headline story on the news, I threw a $3 unsanctioned purchase in the shopping cart for my girl.  Something that’s messy and small and a pain in the rear… but it was so much fun.  It’s actually been amazing for her fingers… pushing and pinching and patting and stacking.  These are all things she works on daily in fine motor therapy… but how much more fun is it to work when your tools are red and smooshy?  Yesser.

It bought me 30 minutes of non-cling time.  Had I known it had these magical powers, I would have paid $10.  Honestly.  Nothing entertains this child for more than 30 seconds at a time.  Not tv.  Not dirt.  Not candy.  But moon sand does.

A sanity tip for you skeptics out there: use a jelly roll pan (a cookie sheet with low sides) or a griddle pan.  This keeps the sand off your table and contained.  We also used an old postcard for a scraper to repeatedly bring all the sand back to its pile… this worked great.

It comes in lots of colors.  It stores in its own container.  It never dries out.  It’s pretty awesome. 

It lives on top of the fridge.  And when it’s 4pm and the day will. not. end. I grab the little bowl and the griddle and I watch her face light up.  Three bucks, people.  30 minutes of sanity is worth a little broom action in the end.

We shop at Meijer.  It’s like everyone else’s Super WalMart but is a mostly Michigan-only thing.  Where do you shop?   


*TexasNorth was not paid or compensated for this review. 


it be time

Alrighty, Folks.

Gracias ever so much for the SuperKid love Monday.  I am continually overwhelmed by this group of friends and the shared excitement… it makes my life so much better when there are others out there excited about, oh, eggs and cows and sledding.  I’d be a hermit without you.

We have a few things to do before March 11th, and I need some advice.  I’ve done, um, nothing to prepare for kiddo #2 save organize Ry’s old clothes and loudly encourage Curt from upstairs as he finishes the basement and Ry’s room.  It’s one of my gifts: encouragement.

Recommendations / Bewares / I Loves / Absolutelys are now being considered on all things having to do with bringing a second child into the homeWe’ve also got a few soon-to-be first-time mammas reading, so feel free to name your Can’t Live Without Its.  This is your chance. 

You can't tell, but she's tiiiicked here... afraid of falling off.Particularly (for me):

1. infant car seat [We were given an almost-new one for Ry.  I’m pretty positive it’s illegal now.] A family-friend and pediatrician said to google “best carseat for ‘insert your car here’ ” since every car has slightly different seats, which can affect safety.  Genuis.

2. stroller for 2 kiddos [Since Ry was born when snow was on the ground, we didn’t buy a stroller that was infant-friendly.  I’m thinking we’ll be out and about sooner with SuperKid.  I like this one. Is it worth it?]  This is getting majorly positive reviews from readers who actually have one.  Mmmmm.  Time to stock the etsy shop… or sell a kidney. This just goes to show, once again, that I have awesome taste.

Give me your favorite things of all time.  Give me your 2nd child helpful-transition stories.  Remind me what I need for the hospital.  Tell me how long I’m going to need someone to make dinner.  Bring it.

from KatieKate

• sling • I used a fixed-size one… not the kind with the long buckle strap thing because, let’s face it: Katie + a long tail of extra fabric = asking for a disaster on an escalator I got my sling from here.  I have the red solid one…  dark red. Simple and un-bulky.  Still use it.  Totally want a green one now. 

• registering with a friend • There are 8,000 sippy cup and bib and bottle options.  I grabbed a friend of mine who had a 9 month old and we went to Babies R Us.  I like her.  I like her stuff.  She was a few months ahead of me and had already returned half of her gear.   She was a great source for what worked and what didn’t, what you actually need and totally don’t.  (90% you don’t need for the 1st 6 months anyway, so just wait.) Don’t go alone.  It’s too overwhelming.  Too. Hard. No.

from the TexasNorth community

slings / ERGO baby carrier / SOME KIND of hands-free baby carrier – lifesaver

a boppy – great for nursing, but also later in helping to sit upright or just lounge

a bumbo seat – true.  This was a favorite of mine, as well. We have the little tray that goes on top, too, for later use.

glass bottles or at least BPA-free plastics

I’m going to add TWO bouncy seats – if you have 2 levels in your house, this is a $25 luxury that let’s you carry the kiddo up and down without bringing the bouncy seat with you.