Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jesus' Birth Date: A Lesson in Faith

This is a tricky subject to tackle because there's a good chance I might offend someone or shatter some childhood memory. That's not my intent and I'm sorry if I do, but here it goes…


Jesus was not born on December 25th. In fact, he probably wasn't even born in the Winter at all.

Take a deep breath, I'm not trashing Christmas or Jesus. Hang with me.

According to all the historical evidence and all this big heady Bible scholar stuff that I paid way too much money to study in college, Jesus was likely born in the late Spring or early Summer.

Then why do we celebrate Christmas on December 25th?

Many years ago a bunch of smart church men (maybe some women were involved but if so, history forgot them a lot time ago) sat around and decided that they would set aside December 25th as the day to celebrate the Christ Mass, eventually Christmas. This was the feast day to celebrate the Christ child.

Why this date was chosen is debated. Some believe it was chosen based on some early church figure's guesses on when Jesus would have been conceived and then plus nine months. Others say it was chosen so it would coincide with Pagan festivals at the time allowing Christians to celebrate without drawing much attention to themselves.

But if December 25th isn't Jesus' Birthday, when is it?

We don't know.

Christmas provides a perfect opportunity to begin teaching your children the three most important words for anyone who professes a life of faith: I don't know. 

I strongly encourage any parent who wants to raise their children in the Christian faith to learn to make the phrase "I don't know" a part of your daily vocabulary. I don't know allows for children to ask questions and seek out answers. It helps them to think critically of how and why they believe something and prepares them for the day when they ask a hard question and there is no answer.

So, instead of insisting that Christmas be Jesus' exact birth date, practice admitting that we don't know all the answers.

I don't know exactly when Jesus was born, no one does, but we as a people of faith have chosen to celebrate on this day so that Christians around the world can all celebrate the birth of their Savior together.

Have you ever had a question of faith answered with "I don't know'? I'd love to hear about that experience.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review: The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas

Today is the feast day for Saint Nicholas patron saint of children, fishermen, and merchants (among others). On this special feast day I would like to present to you one of my favorite books for this Christmastime.



The True Saint Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas by William J. Bennett is an excellent collection of information, legend and fact, of Nicholas and how he became a central figure in many Christmas traditions. Bennett provides the most commonly accepted story of the miracles of St. Nicholas, including the legend of the first stockings, as well as a brief history of how this saint was transformed into the chubby man in red. Bennett's book provides a great way to explore the historical Saint Nicholas as well as to help children come to an understanding of the Santa Claus tradition.

Personally, I think this can also be a great teaching tool to help children see the connections between the secular Santa traditions and Christian values. I don't know that the author had any intention of making such a connection, but I found great value there. I'd recommend this as a book to read with older children as they begin to think critically about the Santa tradition.

One of our Christmas traditions that was inspired by the story of Saint Nicholas's generosity is for Santa to give those chocolate coins in each of our stockings. It reminds us of Nicholas's charity and that we should follow in his example and help those in need, without seeking acknowledgement.

~~I purchased this book on my own and have not been compensated for this review.~~

Does your family include Saint Nicholas in your holiday celebrations?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Adventures in Advent: The First Decoration

I love the Christmas season and everything that comes with it! Christmas is easily my favorite holiday and the advent season has captured my heart since I was little. This Advent, I'd like to share some of our family traditions with you and why we've chosen to do things our way. Maybe it'll help inspire some Christmas spirit in your home.


The first and most important tradition for me is that the nativity scene is the first decoration to go up for the season (and the last to come down). It's so easy in today's world for our focus during this Advent time to be swayed to the hustle and bustle of buying gifts and baking cookies that I feel it's incredibly important to start the season off right.

The set pictured above was recently handed down to me from my grandmother. This set is older than I am and has intense sentimental value.  I remember helping my grandmother set it up each year and the magical connection that held. I look forward to the day when Alex is old enough (and his hands steady enough) that he can help open each box, name each figure, and decide where each person and animal should go.

It's such a simple thing, but setting up a nativity scene, even if it's just a picture or child's drawing of one can really help to keep your focus on the right things during this holiday season. Every year, millions of people worldwide come together to celebrate the birth of a tiny baby who would fulfill years of prophecy and reconcile a broken creation to its Creator. It's such an amazing story, one that I hope never loses it's power over me or my children.

Have a blessed day and feel free to comment below with one of your Christmas traditions!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Crazy November!

November was a super crazy month for us! Thanks to some very generous family members we bought a house and moved early in the month. Then Alex turned one! (Can you believe it?!?!) We had a little birthday party at the house for him and it was great, though we didn't have any furniture at the time (and still don't really, but it's supposed to be delivered on Saturday!).

Alex then reacted to his chicken pox vaccine and got the pox down his leg and all over his bottom. Poor little guy's booty then got staph and he got meatitis. During this time he also cut another tooth, moved to a floor bed, weaned off formula to whole milk (which made him very gassy for a week or two), and is now only getting a bottle at bedtime. A lot has happened in his little life!

I feel like we're finally starting to get a good groove in the new house and getting Alex on a great routine for both mornings and bedtime. I hate that I went silent on my lovely readers, yet again, but sometimes you just have to put first things first. I hope your advent season is off to a great start! I'll be seeing you again soon I hope.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

A Promise to Young Girls from a Mom of Boys

As a mom to a little boy, soon to be little boys, some people may wonder why I think it's important to include positive female images in my sons' lives. Why would the mom of a darling little boy who already has calloused knees and a desire to drum on everything care that her sons read about Marie Curie, Jane Goodall, or Wonder Woman?

Ms. Jane Goodall- A woman who followed her heart and changed how the
world viewed primates and what made humans human.


Self-esteem issues among young girls is a two sided coin. We can tell them until we are blue in the face that it's more important to be smart and strong and opinionated but at some point or another, they won't care about be the smartest or the strongest. At some point, most little girls want to get attention from the little boy that they like.

The smart girl, the one who can beat you as Chess and discuss the laws of Physics, she doesn't get asked to the Prom very often. The opinionated girl who will disagree with your interpretation of Poe's later works and carry her own books because she doesn't trust you to not drop them, she probably doesn't have a date on Friday night.

It's not that these girls are any less valuable. It's that we have a raised generations of boys who won't realize until much later in life that these are the qualities they should seek. We let media and peers teach our boys what makes a woman attractive and we create a feedback loop that undoes all the work we do on little girl self-esteem in primary school.

And so, as the mom to a little blonde haired, blue eyed boy, I am going to be intentional about changing this cycle on our end. I want my son to take a young lady to Prom who cares more about what's in her head than on her body. I want my future daughter-in-law to be smart, and strong, and to argue the sonnets with my son over dinner.

I will be intentional to surround my son with great stories of awesome women. Women who changed the way we view the scientific world. Women who did things they were told no woman could do. Women who followed their passions and changed everything. I will surround him with the stories of these women so that one day he will look at that special young lady and fall in love with all of her, not just her outer shell.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Where's She Been?

Hello lovely people! Sorry I've been so quiet. It's been pretty hectic around these parts and I felt it best to take a little blog-break, though I guess I could have told you so... Oops.

We've been to the immunologist and ran some more tests. Most of the labs came back normal with only one low response so we really don't have answers as to why the little guy has been getting so sick. He's mostly well now, but has had a stuffy nose and cough for about a month and recently his reflux is acting up like crazy. (Check out my post on Not So Average Momma about reflux here.) He's been super-clingy momma's boy lately and you can just tell he doesn't feel good.

Even so, he's crawling really fast now and will stand for just a few moments without any support. He'll be walking just as soon as he gets over the fear of falling.

We're trying to buy a house. We finally put an offer in on one and are going through that whole process right now. I'll let you know what happens in the end.

Baby #2 is still a'cookin' and kicking pretty regularly now. We had our anatomy scan today (what a nightmare wait!) and littlest one is looking good. Baby is measuring about two weeks ahead, but so did Alex at this point. There was also a little fluid on the left kidney, but Dr. Mayberry said it wasn't enough to be worried about and would likely resolve itself soon. We'll find out the sex this Saturday with some friends.

Momma's hanging in there. I'm super tired most days and spend a lot of time on the couch. I've only gained about 6 pounds this pregnancy even though I eat like every two hours. Daddy's getting ready to travel again, and will be out on his birthday, (Boo!) but we're having dinner with some friends the day before and I hope to make an un-birthday cake for us all when he gets back (see the part about the fussy, clingy baby to see why there are no promises on that one).

Well, I guess I will get going. Just wanted to make sure you knew we were still here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Little Vent, A Little Rant, A Lot of Prayer

This is my blog, so here are my thoughts. Warning: this will be a raw and honest post.

It's been a long and busy day and I'm tired and my OB said there's nothing to be done about my tired because that's what happens when you're pregnant with a nine month old.

I took Alex to the lab to have his immunoglobulin levels tested. We got the results today (I know, super fast, right!?) and his IgG and IgA were low. We've got our referral to see the pediatric immunologist next month and are just in a waiting pattern until then.

As you may know Alex has been sick a lot in his short nine months, and not normal little illnesses. While we've had some colds and sniffles, we've also had Rotovirus, RSV/Bronchiolitis, HFMD, Giotti-Crossi (Don't know what that is? Neither did the doctor.), and most recently, Pneumonia. What I wouldn't give for a simple ear infection. It's common for babies to have lots of colds and mild viruses, the sniffles and ear aches. That's just part of being a baby, but this isn't normal.

I'm really pretty open about Alex's health. I don't claim to have all the answers and I am not a doctor. I'm open to the experience of other parents who have been there and trying whatever may help, but Lord help me the next time someone tells me about how essential oils stopped their baby's runny nose or how the chiropractor stopped colic. And don't even get me started on the multitudes that told me to cut gluten from his diet before he had even had a taste of the stuff!

I know this all comes from well meaning people who are just trying to help and I very much appreciate the support that is behind the suggestion.

If I thought it would work, I'd do it. I am all up for finding a Mexican grandma to pray over him with an egg. We can light some candles. We can all hold some healing crystals and say some celtic prayer. I'm game.

I'm doing all that I can, but I'm tired. I'm tired of my baby being sick. I'm tired of knowing the receptionist at the doctor's office by name (except you, Amber, you rock). I'm tired of knowing more about what syringes I have at home than the pharmacists. I'm tired.

In all of this though, I'm so blessed that he's here. I'm overjoyed when I see him trying to walk and taking those first tiny little steps. It makes my day when he wakes up smiling and giggling at me in the mornings and I wouldn't trade that for the world!

I am also reminded that I am so blessed that he's only this sick. I have friends whose babies are having major, intense surgeries and I have friends whose babies are not on this earth any longer and I thank God that Alex is only this sick.

So there's my vent and my rant. Here's my prayer: I pray that God will keep my little guy healthy and strong while we figure this all out. I pray He gives Philip and I strength and endurance. I pray that He grant clarity and wisdom to Alex's doctors. Above all, I pray that our family is able to bring Him glory and honor in this time.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2 Corinthians 12:8-10:
Three times I pleased with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Guest Post: Why All The Drama Momma?


My friend Laura was brave and honest enough to share her experience with the Mommy Wars with us. Laura has two precious little boys and writes her own blog, Not So Average Momma. She also writes for Fredericksburg Parent & Family. You can follow the goings on of her writings and wonderful little family on her Facebook page.

Here's what she had to say about her experience with the Mommy Wars:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


You know that look you get from other moms when your two year old won’t cooperate and throws a tantrum, your three month old is crying because he wants to nurse, and all you want to do is get the heck out of the grocery store but you can’t because you’d like to have food to put on the table at dinner time?  You know the look that says “Wow, she doesn’t have it together.” 

I hate it when I get that look and the more I get that look the more I wonder if they are right, if I really don’t have it all together. 

When I first became a mother I didn’t plan on raising my son the way that my husband and I are doing it now.  I planned on raising my child the way that everyone else did- you know just going with the mainstream.  Once I had my son I realized that wasn’t the way I wanted to do things.  My husband and I did some research and found Attachment Parenting.  To us, it was the most natural way to parent and life was blissful. 

As I researched more and learned more I felt like I needed to share what I had learned.  I felt like we were doing all of the right things as parents. Why weren’t all mothers wearing their babies or breastfeeding them?  Why weren’t they practicing gentle parenting and allowing the children to play and get messy and have fun the way that I did?  I was becoming a “drama momma” and I probably gave some not-so-nice looks to those mothers with whom I disagreed.

While I didn’t just walk up to random people on the street, I did think that (according to my standard) these parents were not parenting correctly. I wanted to help them see the light and enhance their lives by doing things the way that I thought was best.  At the time, I honestly thought that what I was doing was helping. Wow, really?  What I was doing was actually just the opposite. Even though I didn’t say anything to the mothers that I encountered, the looks I am sure I gave them were nothing but harmful. 
Unbeknownst to me, I had become a “drama momma.”

Around the time of my son’s first birthday, God really helped me to see how judgmental I had become. I had never considered myself to be a mean person just an “informed” parent.   I, like many other “drama mommas,” thought that because I had the facts I should be free to critique other mother’s decisions.  There truly is not one right way to be a parent.  I now recognize and appreciate that we are all different and that we all are doing what we think is best for our children.

In June of 2012 I wrote a post titled Tough Business about how moms allow our differences to divide us.  I think that rather than believing every woman is doing what they think is best for their child/ren we feel the need to interject and make her question her choices. 

I try to remember to give a friendly smile or wave when I see other mothers struggling to just get through their day.  Maybe there is a mom chasing her five-year-old through the park, or a mom who has stopped to feed her baby in the middle of the grocery store.  That small smile can give her the validation she needs that she is doing a great job as a mom. I know that the kindness of other mothers has helped me to get through my errands with two crazy kids in tow and I want to continue to pass on the positivity. 

What about you?  Are you guilty of being a “drama momma?”  Have you experienced judgment from other mothers?  I’d love to hear some of your experiences! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Treaty of The Nursery

Today, I would like to invite you to sign The Treaty of The Nursery with me. There's a war being waged in our homes, on our computers, in our malls, and at our parks. It has infiltrated our schools, our churches, and our book clubs, and it is high time we put a stop to it.

Today, I invite you to put down the boxing gloves, raise the white flag, and end the Mommy Wars.

Image courtesy of Ambro/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Everyone seems to have said something about the Mommy Wars, but it seems like no one offers an explanation. Let me take a second to offer what I think the root of the problem really is: insecurity. Before you even pee on a stick, a new mom is bombarded with "experts" giving their advice on the best way to raise a child. Heaven forbid you disagree and you're slammed with all sorts of labels from "uneducated" all the way to "cruel" and "abusive". This is where it all starts. This is where the Mommy Wars seed is planted.

Here you are a new mom, filled with hormones and fears, and you have people telling you that you're a bad mom for the choices you've made, simply because you disagree with them. Now, you doubt yourself. Maybe I shouldn't breastfeed in public... Maybe formula really is toxic... Maybe we shouldn't have had him circumcised .. Maybe the vaccines really are a bad idea... I should babywear more... I need to buy all organic diapers and get rid of these ones... I shouldn't go back to work... I need to work more...

It's a crazy spiral of self-doubt and it starts with the first dirty look from a stranger or a friend telling you that they would "never do that to their children" and it's all downhill from there.

But wait! How does that lead to the Mommy Wars? It's simple. Poor, defeated, hormone-and-fear-filled, sleep-deprived momma has to find some way to justify her actions so that she can keep going. So she jumps on the internet or goes to the library and does all sorts of reading. Now she's armed with the 'facts' about how her way is right and everyone else is so very wrong. Now, she gets to go an educate the next mom about how she's doing things wrong.

Here is the crux of the Mommy Wars: One hormone-and-fear-filled momma who is broken down and beat up starts to beat up on the next sleep-deprived momma so that Momma #1 feels a little bit better about her choices. Momma #2 now goes through the same spiral and takes the place of Momma #1 the next time around.

We have created a mom-culture that is built upon tearing each other down so that we can feel a little bit more confident that we know what we're doing and it's time we stop this nonsense.

No woman on this planet really knows what she's doing when it comes to raising her children. We are all just making our best guess and trying to make it through the day. No one on Earth can tell you how to raise your children, because they just guessed their way through it themselves. Whether you're on your first baby or your fiftieth, there's always something new to learn, some new way to do things, and here's the real secret: It's okay.

It's okay to raise your children differently than Mrs. Jones raises hers. In fact, you should do things differently. You are the perfect mother for your children, just because you are their mother! You will make mistakes. You will screw up. You will have moments when you just want to cry and moments when you feel like you are the World's Best Mom. But in the end, you are just what your family needs.

So here is The Treaty of The Nursery: 

I promise that I will be the best mom I can to my children. I promise that I will be there for you and help you and support you so that you can be the best mom you can as well. I don't promise to agree with you, but I promise that I will still love and support you as a fellow mom even if you do things very differently than I do. I promise to cheer you on when it's been a rough day. I promise to let you cry and eat all of my ice cream when you get overwhelmed. I also promise to laugh with you at the silly things your toddler says. I will watch with bated breath as you show me video of their first steps and will sit in the parking lot with you and cry as they go off to Kindergarten.

We are Moms and we deserve the love and support of our sisters as we journey on this most excellent adventure together. Will you join me in pursuit of peace and leave the Mommy Wars behind you?

Friday, August 2, 2013

Sponsors and Affiliate Links

You may have noticed that there's a new little tab up top called "Sponsors." I want to take just a brief moment and explain the reasoning and purpose behind this new development in the world of Our Little Clan.

I write this blog because I love to write. If I had my way, I would make a living writing. That's why we now have sponsors.

The blog has always had ads and in the past few months I've added some affiliate links (see the Sponsors tab). This month I hope to also ad some sponsors who will pay specifically to advertise on this blog.

I think my readers are pretty awesome and I'd love to provide you with resources for great products and services that you and your family could use. I also think there are some pretty awesome businesses out there that could use a little more exposure. And to be frank, I could use a little more jingle in my pocket. ;)

It really is that simple. I want to be able to make a living writing and while that won't be happening anytime soon, this is a step in that direction. I also want to connect my readers with great businesses and great business with my readers. If I make a little cash in the process, that's just icing on the cake.

I plan to incorporate our sponsors in such a way as to showcase their great products and services but not bog down the blog. I really hope this will be a win-win for all involved and will bring a new and exciting element to the blog!

Thanks so much for your support, and feel free to click a link or two. ;)

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Alex Update- Almost Nine Months!

My little boy will be nine months on Sunday! He's gotten so big (23 1/2 pounds!) and is still quite the handful. Since my post in May, there's been a lot going on in his little life. Alex went to his first wedding! It was an outdoor wedding in Ranger and it was HOT but he did so well and he really loved the mariachi band!

Here he is at the wedding, very unhappy about the heat.
We only got to stay for about an hour of the reception,
but we had a lovely time.

Alex's GERD is still there. He's had some flare ups, but we've been able to keep on top of most of it. About two weeks ago, I took him in to see the doctor as he had had a terrible reflux weekend and was already maxed out on his meds. Turns out he had a virus that had caused him to start wheezing again. Doc put him on prednisone and sent us on our way. Well, fast forward to the following Thursday night and Alex starts clicking in his sleep. Totally weird, right? We call the doc and he confirms, it's totally weird. The doc could hear the click over the phone but had no idea what it could have been. So we go back to the doc the next day. Guess what? Pneumonia!

What in the what? Yeah, he got pneumonia in the middle of summer without ever acting sick. Sigh. When they do his bloodwork at his one year check, the doc plans to also look for possible causes of him always being sick with such big things. Oh how I'd love for Alex to just have the sniffles.

Like I said, Alex is still as happy as can be. He apparently didn't get the email saying you should act sick when something's wrong. Since my last post though, we've had two exciting, happy developments!

Alex is going to be a big brother!
Number Two is due 2/3/2014

And he's crawling now!

video


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Dr. Bronner's Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil is a natural living go-to. You can eat it, put it on your skin, put it on your baby, and even paint with it. We use coconut oil as our primary baby skin care. We use it to prevent diaper rash and treat the few that pop up and it's completely safe! We've never had build up issues. We also use it as Alex's "lotion".

You want to find an unrefined coconut oil for use on the skin. My favorite is Dr. Bronner's.

Photo from drbronner.com

Not only is it unrefined, but it's also organic and fair trade. It just doesn't get better than that! Ok well, maybe it does. Dr. Bronner's is generally available in most markets. (Here in little ol' Abilene you can find it at Drug Emporium and Natural Grocers. It may be available elsewhere but that's where I've seen it.) Dr. Bronner's also doesn't fetch as hefty a price as some of the comparable coconut oils. Off the Dr. Bronner's website it's about $11 for 14 ounces. That's not a bad price!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Miracle Skin Script!

Some of you may know that Alex has had his share of skin troubles. We started with a little "cradle cap" that ended up being a full blown eczema flare out! At his four month visit we talked with the doctor about it and he prescribed a miracle in a tube: Triamcinolone Acetonide Ointment

We try to keep only natural products in our home and really limit what we expose Alex to, but his skin was so bad, I was willing to try just about anything.



Here's the little guy's face before we used his medicine.

Here he is after just two uses. I couldn't believe how fast it worked!

We still have some of the cream and use it when tough spots pop up and it takes just a little dab to get him all fixed up!

Not every medication works for every person. Always discuss your child's medical issues and history with your physician and do not make medical decisions based off what you read on the internet.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Baby Eczema- Not So Cute Spots

Alex had pretty bad eczema when he was little. I thought I would share our tips for helping maintain his skin. As an adult I have had eczema and it gets so sore so fast. When Alex's skin flared up, I was eager to get it cleared up.



Here's my little guy at the height of his flare ups.
Come back tomorrow to see what's happened since!


  • Minimal baths- Especially when they're really little, babies don't get really dirty very often. Try giving a bath every 2-3 days unless it's a really messy day.

  • Baths don't have to have soap- This goes with the point above, babies don't get that dirty! Only use soap once or twice a week unless you have reason to use more.

  • Choose the right soap- Not all soaps are created equal. Look for one with simple ingredients without dyes or fragrances. We use the soap I make in the shop without scent or color and it works well for us and a few families we know. Don't be troubled if you have to try a few different brands though, it may take a while to find what works for your baby.

  • Maintain moisture- Healthy skin has just the right amount of moisture. Skin that's too oily or too dry will be prone to problems. Find a simple lotion (dye and scent free again) to use as needed. Some babies will need lotion every day, others only after baths, others may only need a little here and there. Coconut Oil is also a great option and is generally non-irritating. For Alex we use coconut oil only as needed which isn't very often for him. (Another tricky skin item is sunscreen, same principle though- no dyes or scents.)

  • Be careful with clothing and diapers- Your laundry detergent can also trigger flare ups as residue on the clothes rub onto baby's skin. Look for a gentle laundry detergent (once again, skip the dyes and scents). Just like lotion and soap, you may need some trial and error here as well. Once you find a good one, stick with it. We use a homemade soap you can find here.

  • If these things don't work, talk to your doctor about getting a script for a prescription cream that works wonders. (I'll post on that tomorrow.) 

  • Work with your doctor if you suspect a food allergy may be at the root of your baby's skin issues. Sometimes a milk or soy protein allergy can cause eczema flare up.
Just a reminder: I am not a doctor nor a medical expert of any kind. I hope my posts can help give you some tips but see your healthcare practitioner for any medical questions. Do not rely solely on internet sources for medical care and advice!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Recipe: Easy Fajitas

Fajitas are a favorite in our house as an easy dinner and a switch up from the mundane taco night. Here's a quick and easy fajita recipe.

Take some stir fry beef already cut from the grocery store. (Other cuts of meat may be more "appropriate" but this doesn't require any extra work on your part.) Add to the meat salt, pepper, paprika, and chili powder. Mix the meat with sliced bell pepper and onions. Cut a lime in half. Squeeze the juice over your meat, peppers, and onions. Leave the rind in for extra flavor. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

Saute everything in a large skillet with some olive oil. You may want to drain the extra oil and grease towards the end of the cooking to get a nice char on the meat.

Serve on tortillas with cheese, salsa, or guacamole.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Simplicity Sunday

I hope you're enjoying your Sabbath. Here are some sleeping baby pics to help you relax.

Fell asleep after a long walk.

Little guy sleeps on his tummy now. (His doing.)


Here's an oldie, but a goodie.
It's crazy how bad his eczema was!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida

Last summer we were blessed to visit the Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. Big Cat Rescue was founded in 1992 and is home to over 100 cats who have been rescued from various abusive situations. The Rescue allows you see many of the rescued animals in their enclosures and actively participates in awareness and lobbying for better legislation to protect these gorgeous animals.

Here are some photos from our visit.




Big Cat Rescue can provide you with tons of information about the works being done to protect and support these glorious big cats. If you want to help their work, feel free to make a donation. If you're going to be in the Tampa area, I strongly suggest making a stop. The weekend tours allow for children under 10. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Adventures in Baby Food Making

Even before Alex was born, I had my mind made up to make his baby food. The store-bought jarred food can sometimes have all these nasty fillers and chemicals that just don't seem like they belong in baby food. Those little jars are awfully pricey too. So it seemed like a win-win to make our own baby food.
Boiling up baby carrots in the crock pot.
A giant bag of baby carrots will run you about $4 at SAMs.

In general, I've really enjoyed making Alex's food. Not only do I know exactly what's in it (a little mommy-control), but I've gotten to expand my culinary skills as well. I want Alex to enjoy a variety of fruits and veggies, unlike his momma, so I've made him veggies that I would never eat! I do take a taste each time though so maybe his good eating will rub off on me.

Cooking up plums!
Plums are great for constipation, should your
little one get a little stopped up.

Alex really loves it too! He's a great eater. He doesn't like the green veggies so much (and they tend to upset his tummy). Alex will eat his carrots, kiwi, squash, yogurt, avocado, and so much more!

Our favorite foods and how we cook them:
Baked Butternut Squash; Steamed Zucchini; Boiled Carrots and Chicken (with organic broth); Mashed Banana, Kiwi, Avocado
Alex also has been trying more chopped "finger foods". He doesn't usually succeed in getting much in his mouth on his own, but is chewing rather well. He's had green beans and raisins this week (chop the green beans about the size of baby's thumbnail and the raisins into 1/2-1/4s).

Alex finishing off his zucchini!
He loves zucchini!
Just steam and blend.

One thing I couldn't live without in making Alex's food is this website. Homemade Baby Food is a website run by a British mom living in the Caribbean and she is a wealth of information! Not only does she list suggestions on what foods at what age, but also gives recipes and cooking tips (great if you've never touched butternut squash before), and tips on baby-led weaning should you go that route.

One thing you don't need: any special baby food appliances. We use our regular kitchen blender and freeze purees in ice cube trays. I do recommend some small tubs or reusable food pouches for travel if you want to take your homemade purees with you on outings.

Do you make your baby's food? Have a favorite recipe you'd like to share?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Where Do We Place Our Values?

A few months ago I attended a workshop called Champions for Children. As part of the workshop, they included the local child abuse awareness "shoe walk". This has several pages of information about child abuse and prevention lined out with children and teen shoes. It really is eye-opening. Here are a few snippets of the walk. (Warning: some of these statistics may be upsetting for some people.)



I post this video to bring up the point that we as a society seem to have misplaced our values. I'm not talking specifically about Christian values, but simply the value we used to place on our children as our future.  I think we have lost the view of our children as being our greatest asset and our strongest resource.

I encourage you in whatever interactions you may have with children whether as a parent, a teacher, a minister, or a friend, to make sure that you tell each and every child with your words and actions that they are loved and worthy.

If you have any reason to suspect a child is in danger or is being mistreated, please speak up. Contact your local child protective service or call 911. In some states you may have a mandatory duty to report within a certain amount of time.

In Texas, adults have 48 hours to report any suspected child abuse or neglect. In Texas you can report online here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Great Cloth Diaper Change in Abilene

Ok, another late post, but I just realized I never posted these photos!

The Great Cloth Diaper Change is an event put on by the Real Diaper Association to raise awareness of cloth diapers. Each year we try to break/set a new world record using cloth diapers. In 2013, each site through out the world hosted their change at 11:00 am local time.

At exactly 11:00 each baby was changed into a 100% reusable cloth diaper. This was Abilene's first time to participate and we had 46 babies changed at our location. Worldwide we had 8,331 qualifying babies changed!

I'm already planning for next year's event on April 26th. I'm hoping we can go even bigger and better (and maybe make the top 10 locations!)

Here are some photos from last April


Alex and I were very honored to be on KTAB 4U to promote the GCDC.

Before the change, everyone holds up their 100% reusable diaper.
Afterwards, everyone holds up their freshly changed baby!
It's not a race, but Philip was very proud to be one of the first to finish. ;)
We were blessed to have a great photographer offer family photos and take our official before and after shots. Emerald Lemmons is a wonderful lady and great photographer.
You can find more about Emerald here.


Here's Alex in his outfit for the big day!

We were blessed with a number of sponsors who provided samples and coupons for our participating families.
This was when I first learned about Milkin' Cookies. You can find more info on them here (affiliate link).
We had tons of great giveaway sponsors including local WAHMs,  Kid's Village, Baby K'tan, Nose Frida and so many more!

Here is a complete list of our local sponsors. (Links provided if available.) Thanks again to everyone who helped out and changed their babies for making Abilene's first event a huge success!

Kid’s Village 
Chickapea Baby 
Baby K’Tan
Frida Baby
Casa Campbell Soaps

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Family Photos

We were very lucky to be able to take some family photos recently at the Jacob's Dream area on ACU's  campus. Korri Roberston is a local photographer just getting her business started here in Abilene. Here are some of my favorites.

















Many thanks to Korri for helping capture this special time for our family! You can contact Korri here: korrirobertson@yahoo.com

We did receive this service for free as part of Korri building up her portfolio. I was not compensated for this post.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy Belated Father's Day

I've been meaning to get this up for a while, and just haven't yet. It seems Philip's first Father's Day went well. We had a good time at church and went to Bonzai for dinner.


Here's what Alex made for Philip at day care.

I had a local artist, Chris Summers, make this for Philip.
It's a stylization of Philip riding a chocobo with a little baby chocobo.
We have several of Chris's works and love them all.
Check out Chris's Facebook here.

I hope the men in your family had a great Father's day!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Sunday Simplicity

Today is Alex's baby blessing at church.
Here he is last week, sitting with Daddy and listening to the sermon.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Cloth Diaper "Cakes"

I have several friends expecting right now. I've really enjoyed getting creative with gifts for them. Here are a couple of cloth diaper/wipe "cakes" I've made recently.

Here's a rose I made out of six cloth wipes
from Chickapeababy.com
for a friend's gender reveal party.

One of my male co-workers' wife is expecting.
They aren't using cloth diapers (can't convince everyone)
but I made a motorcycle out of blankets and
Gerber prefolds (my fav burp cloths ever!).

Side view of the motor cycle.
This includes 10 Gerber Prefolds, 3 receiving blankets,
two pairs of socks, one bottle, and one teddy bear.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Caribbean Cove

This past week the Abilene Zoo opened their new Caribbean Cove exhibit. We were very excited to get the opportunity to check it out. They have over 30 new species in this exhibit including a two-toed sloth! They've redone the old reptile house to feature some new amphibians and their exciting research on the coqui frog!

The new exhibit opened in late June. 

This handsome fella welcomes you as you come up to the new exhibit.
There's a beautiful collection of new birds.
The Two-Toed Sloth! He wasn't very active, but still rather exciting!
This prickly little one has an awesome open "enclosure".
I love that you can actually watch them as they work on the coqui frog research.
They've also posted updates near the window on their research.
The zoo has been able to breed some frogs and have already learned
tons about the frog's breeding that no one knew before!
I'm so excited to watch as their research progresses!
Our Abilene Zoo is partnering with a group in Puerto Rico
to study the adorable Coqui Frog.


 I'm very excited for the new exhibit! It was so hot when we went last week that we weren't able to stay long, but I hope we can go again when it's cooler and spend some more time with the new animals. I love our little zoo and look forward to watching it grow!

We are zoo members and frequent the zoo often. I did not receive compensation of any type for this post.