Saturday, November 28, 2015

Waffle Recipe - Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Dye, and so much more free

My kids like waffles. In our pre-special diet days, they would scarf them down like rabid wolves. However, with our special diets and the fact that waffle irons seem to either have teflon, aluminum or some other unsafe coating they weren't a part of our day (or they are cast iron and, well, GF bread on cast iron, yeah, that's a sticky situation waiting to happen).

My kids longed for waffles.

They begged for waffles.

They even tried bargaining for waffles.

Frozen waffles might be your thought. Yeah, just look at the label and find one that has no gluten, no soy, no dairy, no apples (apple juice is a big thing in gluten free foods), and so on. You won't find one, at least not at any Kroger, Walmart, local natural food store, Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, and so on near us. I have read so many frozen waffle labels it's not even funny.

Enter this little beauty.
I never thought I would purchase an Oster kitchen appliance. They are not known for being high quality or very safe. But, I received so many recommendations on this exact model I decided to give it a try. It's the Oster Duraceramic Waffle Iron. There were two models. One is a basic one where you open the lid, pour in the batter, close the lid, and wait. The one in the picture was a bit nicer. It was similar to the irons you see in the dining areas of hotels with continental breakfasts. The picture above is in cook mode. If you flip it over you will see two lights (power and ready) and a temperature dial.

To use it you simply open the top lid, pour in your batter and spread it out (just helps for uniformity), close the lid and turn it clockwise. You wait until the light turns on, flip it back over, open it up, and you have a perfectly cooked waffle. No guessing on time or anything.

But, what about a recipe? That's the kicker here, isn't it. I have one. I tweaked a traditional waffle recipe for this and it worked beautifully.

This starts with the right flour. It used to be, in gluten-free cooking, that you had to get just the right mix of flours. You still do, but now the work has been done for us. I picked up one of the cup-for-cup flours for this recipe. I used Domata Gluten Free Recipe Ready Flour. You can use other cup-for-cup brands, but make sure it either has the corn starch in it or that you add it in this recipe (which I will show as optional assuming you are using this type of flour).

From here

  • 1 1/2 Cups all-purpose gluten-free flour (see picture above for description of exactly what I used)
  • 1/2 Cup cornstarch (you don't need this if you use a flour that already contains it, so read your label carefully)
  • 2 Tbsp cornmeal (I didn't use it in this recipe but the original did call for it. That's just a lot of corn product for my liking)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 3/4 Cup almond milk (you can use rice but I like the thickness of Almond)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Cup dairy, soy, gluten free butter, melted (Earth Balance in the red container is excellent)
  1. In a large bowl, sift or whisk together flour, cornstarch, corn meal, baking powder, and salt to blend thoroughly; set aside.
  2. In a mixer bowl, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. 
  3. Add sugar; continue beating just until stiff peaks form; set aside.
  4. Whisk together egg yolks, milk, and vanilla. 
  5. Using spatula, stir milk mixture into flour mixture, blending just until dry ingredients are moistened (there should be small lumps, do not overmix - gluten free flour doesn't like too much mixing).
  6. Stir in melted butter. 
  7. FOLD in beaten egg whites until combined, Folding gives you that fluffy texture, don't overdo it.
  8. Pour batter onto a hot, greased (I use a little oil even though it's non-stick) waffle iron heated on Medium - Medium high heat.
Makes about 5 1/2 Cups and our average waffle took about 3/4 - 1 cup. 
If you like your waffles a bit crispier, put them on a wire cooling rack (make sure it's not teflon coated or an unsafe metal) and let it sit for a minute. 

Serve with warm organic maple syrup and watch your family eat them quickly. My husband, who doesn't have to eat allergy safe, said he would gladly eat those even if we didn't need to be gluten free. That's a big testament to the recipe. He's picky. 

Talk soon.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Holiday Treats - Recipes

Allergies, intolerances, and more ... oh my! With Hanukkah, Thanksgiving, and New Year's Day coming up, treats are looming in front of us and so is the fact that our kids can't have any of it.

Yesterday I decided to whip up a few treats to see how my kids liked them and, honestly to see if I could do it. I thought I would share those recipes with you. I feel bad, again, calling them recipes since they are so simple. Oh, these are also a great way to add in items that you kids need but won't take by mouth. I am giving you the base recipes, but you wouldn't believe some of the things that I stuffed in these treats.

Peanut Butter Cups

  • Chocolate Chips (I used Enjoy Life Dairy, Gluten, Soy, Dye free)
  • Peanut butter (I used organic creamy peanut butter)
  • Organic coconut oil
  • Muffin cups
  1. Melt a large handful of chips/chunks over a medium low heat. 
  2. Once melted and smooth, pour a very thin layer in the bottom of a muffin cup. I used reusable silicone cups. 
  3. Put in freezer. 
  4. Wipe out pot or use another pot and put 3 rounded tablespoons into the small pot. Heat until smooth and melted. Add in 1 - 2 tsp coconut oil. Stir until incorporated and smooth. 
  5. After about 10 minutes your chocolate should be solid. Remove the cups and pour peanut butter over the chocolate. (the same amount or double the amount of chocolate, depending on how much you like peanut butter. We used double.)
  6. Put in freezer. 
  7. Melt another large handful of chips/chunks. Once melted and smooth, pour over the peanut butter layer you just finished that should now be solid. It won't be hard like the chocolate but solid. 
  8. Put these back in the freezer for a final setting. 
  9. Remove and put in a container (you can remove the muffin liners). 

Nutty Choco-corn


  • Popcorn
  • Chocolate (I used Enjoy Life like mentioned above)
  • Raw Almonds
  • Organic creamy peanut butter
  • Organic almond milk (you can use regular milk if you have no allergies)
  1. Melt two large handfuls of chocolate over a medium low heat. 
  2. In a bowl toss in 2 cups of pop corn. 
  3. Dip 10 almonds into the peanut butter so half of the nut is covered and you have the top half with nothing on it.
  4. Dip the almonds into the chocolate in the same manner so half is covered (where the peanut butter is) and the other half isn't. Lay the nuts on parchment paper and put in the freezer for a few minutes. 
  5. While the nuts are setting, add about 1 Tbsp peanut butter to the chocolate and stir until smooth. Add 1 - 2 Tbsp milk until the chocolate/peanut butter mix is thinned a bit. Stir until smooth. 
  6. Drizzle over the popcorn. Stir until about half coated. 
  7. Drop in the nuts and stir to gently toss. 
  8. Pop a movie into the BluRay player and have a fun evening on the sofa. 

Simple Chocolate Bars

  • Chocolate (see above)
  • Organic peanut butter
  • Almond milk (I used a specialty formula my son uses to add nutrition to this bar instead of milk)
  • Add ins (optional - rice crispy type cereal, marshmallows, nuts, etc)
  1. Melt 2 handfuls of chocolate over medium low heat
  2. Stir in 1 heaping Tbsp of peanut butter
  3. Pour in 1 - 2 Tbsp milk until smooth
  4. Lay out parchment paper and pour/spoon onto paper in a thin candy bar thick piece. (drop in add ins at this point if you want to use them)
  5. Put in freezer until solid. 
  6. Cut with a sharp knife into bar sized pieces
I had a little chocolate left over from some of these and decided to make another little treat. I bought some safe maraschino cherries (yes, safe. No dyes, HFCS, soy, etc). I dipped them in plain melted chocolate(keep the stem on as a handle). Set them on parchment paper or a few in a muffin cup and set in freezer or fridge to set the chocolate.

Talk soon. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Week Hodgepodge


Joyce, at the blog, "From This Side of the Pond", didn't skip this week just because it was Thanksgiving. Oh no, she let us have fun with another round (so happy she did). Check out my answers and then click the link or picture above to head over to her blog so you can read her thoughts and look at other fun blogs. 

1. What's something you wish you knew how to do, but feel it's too late to learn?

Piano - I always wanted to learn how to play and now I simply do not have the time to do it. Maybe when my kids are successfully on their own I could take lessons. 

2. Your least favorite thing to shop for? Why?

Toilet paper - if I have to explain why, I might want to pick your brain over how you can LIKE shopping for it. 

3. How has the celebration of Thanksgiving today changed from when you were growing up?

It is very different. It used to be my entire extended family coming together at my grandmother's home to eat, talk, catch up, and give thanks together. My grandparents passed away, there was a family conflict between two major parts that hasn't healed, and now it's very fractured and I miss how it used to be. 

4. What's something that when other people see it, reminds them of you? Explain.

People share memes about homeschooling or super moms saying they remind them of me. I get the homeschooling jokes but not the supermoms. I am only doing what any decent mom would do for their children. 

5. If you could guest star in a TV show, what would it be and why?

I would want to be an the Andy Griffith show. I just like it so much. My family and I watch it on DVD often. If I couldn't be on that, I would like to be on Leave it to Beaver. 

6. Have you ever farmed or spent any time on a farm? Are there farm stands in your little corner of the world and do you make it a point to shop there? If so, what item do you particularly like to buy from roadside stand or farm shops?

We live on a 400 acre cattle ranch. My mother-in-law (who lives across the pasture) has a huge garden. We have a small garden, though it's getting bigger. There are farm stands where we live. I do not stop at them. I will stop at a farmer's market if it has local growers with organic produce. But I am very picky with what goes into my family's mouths. Many times what's on the side of the road isn't any healthier than what's in the store. Many times, unless you get to the know the seller, it's not even local. Farm stand doesn't equal local or healthy. You have know who you are buying from. Our local stand isn't at all organic and the woman selling the produce smokes the entire time. No thank you. 

7. What's something you've experienced recently that made you feel a sense of awe or wonder?

I am in awe and wonder as we are working closer to the Hanukkah season. I am starting to see the beauty of worshiping our risen Savior through holidays He personally celebrated. If you want some serious awe, look at the passage in the NT where Christ says He is the light ... that was a Hanukkah celebration he was taking part in during his life. 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

This has been a nuts week. My uncle and cousin came in for the opening weekend of deer season. We love having them down each year. Our older son had a few medical issues. We are gearing up to leave to visit my Mom for Thanksgiving, coming home for 2 days, going to my sister-in-law's for my husband's family's celebration, and heading out from her house back to my Mom's for a big doctor's appointment that Monday. I will be so happy to be home with no where to go and nothing to prepare for ahead of me. 

Talk soon - Gobble gobble

Sunday, November 22, 2015

I'll Get You Home

Someone shared a wonderful article with me today. I mean, this is tears in my eyes good. You don't have to be a parent of children with any medical issues to have this speak to you. We have all asked "how long, Lord" in our lives.

I'll Get You Home

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Simple Hot Cocoa Recipe

Baby it's cold outside ...
From here

I like the cold weather. I hate coats, but I like everything else about this season. My kids like one thing about it. Hot cocoa! But, of course, hot cocoa has a lot of things in it my kids can't have such as dairy, gluten (thickener), soy (check those boxes people), and sometimes dyes (because chocolate isn't brown enough for brown hot cocoa you must add dyes for the full effect. 

I have a very simple recipe for an organic version of hot cocoa that is also safe for my kids. Now, this is not a low sugar drink. I mean, it's hot cocoa. But, it's awful tasty and oh so wonderful when it's cold outside. 

  • 2 Tbsp Ah!laska organic cocoa (or your favorite brand of unsweetened organic cocoa)
  • 2 Tbsp organic sugar (or organic stevia to similar taste)
  • 1 Cup organic almond milk
  • 1/4 tsp organic vanilla
  • dash of pink Himalayan sea salt (or salt of choice)
  • Gluten/dairy/soy/dye free marshmallows such as Elyon - optional (you can find these at Whole Foods and stores like it)
  • Bring almond milk to a low boil. Take off heat as soon as it begins to bubble.
  • While the milk is heating, put the cocoa, sugar, vanilla, and salt into a mug.
  • When milk is heated, pour over the dry ingredients in your mug while stirring. 
  • Once completely mixed, add marshmallows if you desire
Mmm, tasty and warm. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Low Zinc

With all of our technology and knowledge you would think our food supply would be top notch, healthiest it's ever been in the history of time. However, that just isn't the case. Our food has been destroyed of it's nutritional content through all the altering and such that man has done to it. Because of this our population is becoming quite a sick one. We aren't getting the vital nutrients and minerals that we need and should be getting from our food supply.

With this issue comes the fact that so many people have low levels of zinc. Zinc is important to the body for so many reasons. One of the ways I discovered our younger son had a Zinc deficiency was his incessant chewing of non-food items like his shirt collar, pencil eraser, and so on. 2 days after starting Zinc and it all stopped. It was a symptom, an outward expression of an inward deficiency.

Zinc is an essential trace element. This means you don't need a lot but that tiny bit is essential for your body. Zinc helps with healthy eyes, cellular growth, immune function, metabolic rate, taste and smell regulation, and growth.

Signs of low zinc levels include:

  • lack of appetite
  • loss of sense of smell or taste (in sharpness)
  • hair loss
  • mental slowness
  • growth issues
  • diarrhea
  • weight loss (not in a healthy way)
  • many more
There are tests that can be run to check your zinc levels. You should see your doctor if you are concerned about this. It's very quick and fairly painless. One way many doctors use to get a quick eye on if you have low zinc is a taste test. 

Here's how it works:
  • You need to use Zinc Aqueous for this test
  • Take a small sample taste (1tsp is fine) and swallow it. 
  • What did it taste like? If it tasted horrible or very bad, odds are your zinc levels are fine. If it tasted good or like water, odds are you zinc levels are low. 
I take zinc daily. I put it in my glass of water in the morning and I never know it's there. I have no taste when I put zinc in my mouth. I am deficient but am working on that. 

If you suspect a zinc issue, please visit your doctor. He can run any tests he feel are important and discuss treatment options with you. But don't ignore a zinc deficiency. There's no reason to feel so icky when the treatment is so simple and inexpensive.


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Deep Hodgepodge

Here we are at Wednesday. Last week I posted my Hodgepodge on Tuesday wondering why Joyce was so slow in getting hers up. This week I forgot it was already Wednesday. Gee, if only they would invent something that would tell you the days of the week in order so you could keep up. 

As always, take a peek at my answers to her questions and then head on over there (click the picture or her name) to read hers and others. 

1. What's surprised you most about your life, or about life in general?

Wow, OK, let's start off with a deep one full of introspection. Um, let's see. Life ... it is NEVER what you expect. I thought I had it all figured out. I knew where I was going, what life would look like, and this wasn't that hard. Then God laughed lovingly at me and said, "oh yeah, wait until you turn the next corner". That corner was a doozy and I have had a lot of them in my life. It seems there is a never ending numbers of corners that can shock you. The life I have now is not at all what I would have pictured for myself. It's 100% the opposite. I was going to live in a nice brick house on a nice tree lined block. My kids would play out in the front yard with the neighbors. I would sit on the front porch with my coffee reading a book or laughing at something they did. School would be in a cute school room in our home with desks and fresh paint on the walls. Sunday dinner would be hot and on the table not long after church. That was going to be my life. 

Instead I live on 400 acres in a tiny town of 200 people. We live in a mobile home because we had to get here in a matter of weeks to help my mother-in-law take care of my father-in-law because he had Parkinson's and they wanted him home instead of in a facility. So building or finding something else wasn't even a possibility. We have school in the living room, drive 20 minutes to the closest friend, and Sunday dinner is often sandwiches made with all allergy free foods as not to make anyone sick. I spend my days doing medical stuff and educational stuff and my nights researching both of those. 

But, while I would never want my children to be sick and would heal them tomorrow if I could, this life is so much better than I had planned. 

2. Among others, these ten words were added to the Oxford English Dictionary this year ... awesomesauce, beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, cat cafe (apparently this is a real thing), fatberg (gross - read the definition), fat shame, hangry, Mx (gender neutral) and skippable. 

Your thoughts? In looking over the list, which word do you find the most ridiculous? Which word would you never in a million years say outloud? Which word would you be most likely to use in a conversation?

My thoughts? We are really dumbing down the English language in a big way. Language used to be beautiful, full of depth. Now it's becoming not much more than text speak and slang. 

Which word(s) would I never use? That's easy - beer o'clock, brain fart, buttdial, fatberg, hangry, and Mx. I don't have any reason to use beer o'clock. I don't use the word fart or butt. Hangry? Seriously? Do I need to explain why I don't use it? Mx - gender neutral should be saved for for baby clothes that are given when you don't know what the baby is going to be. I am sick of it being pushed on society. 

I would use awesomesauce. I wouldn't use it much. But I have said it a few times to my kids in our silliest moments. 

3. Do you like gravy? Is there a food you would rather not eat unless it comes with gravy? Do you make your own or buy the canned or store-made variety? Turkey and gravy, sausage gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, country ham and red eye gravy, bisquits and chocolate gravy, pot roast and gravy ... which one on the list is your favorite?

I am from the south. I have never lived anywhere but the south. You ask if I like gravy? That's like asking if I like to breathe. It's a food group down here. We can put gravy on anything and, just a side note, we can fry anything as well. 

I don't see the point in having chicken fried steak with no gravy. It's just useless without it in my book. Good, warm, peppered cream gravy on top of chicken fried steak (especially if that steak is venison), yum. 

I make my own. It's so easy to do and takes such a little bit of time, that I make it after I make whatever we are having with it. Good gravy starts with good drippings and you can't get that in a bottle. 

From the list of gravies, my favorite is mashed potatoes and gravy. The one I am most curious about is biquits and chocolate gravy. Me thinks that's an English bisquit vs. what we call a bisquit here in the U.S. (or at least the southern portion). 

4. Do you have a plan? Do you need a plan? Have you ever had a plan fall into a trillion pieces? Explain.

I have a lot of plans. I have school plans, medical plans, med plans, daily plans, weekly plans, holiday plans, life plans, and the list goes on. 

I have a little secret. I hate plans. I want to live life by the seat of my pants with only the basic guidelines like deadlines and so on. Making plans is not a natural for me. But, it's a necessity with our life. 

I have had plans fall into a trillion pieces probably a trillion times. Sometimes I am glad they do (like our plans for Christmas this year before we started to have a change of heart towards celebrating Hanukkah). It just fell in our laps and I had to sweep up the mess and figure out how to change direction. Sometimes I am not so glad. We had planned to go to my cousin's wedding a few years back. That came to a screeching halt when our GI said the word g-tube to us. But, that plan fell into a trillion pieces hours before the surgery and we not only didn't get the tube but we missed the wedding, a once in a lifetime event. 

5. November 19 is National Play Monopoly Day. Do you own the original or same version of the game? Do you enjoy playing Monopoly? How likely is it you'll play a game of Monopoly on November 19th? Ever been to Atlantic City? Even taken a ride on a railroad? Is parking in your town free? Last thing you took a change on?

We own Monopoly. I loved playing it as a kid. I still like playing it, especially with our kids. Now that I know it's National Play Monopoly Day, we will play it without a doubt. I like to do things like that for fun with the kids. We played a few days ago and I owned the board. I won't tell you why when I can show you. 

I have never been to Atlantic City, taken a ride on a railroad, and yes parking is very free in our town. The last thing I took a chance on was buying some supplements that I felt would really help our son based on information from a few very well respected doctors in a medical field related to one of his issues. I went with my gut feeling and it 100% paid off.

6. A song you like that has the word (or some of the word) thanks in the title, lyrics, or meaning?

The first song that comes to mind is "Thank You" by Ray Boltz. It makes me cry thinking about something like that happening.

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude ... what is something you're taking for granted that when you stop and think about it, you're grateful for?

With all that has happened lately in other countries, I am thankful for my safety. I don't know how long it will last, this peace we have so much of, but I am becoming more and more thankful for it each day. I can't imagine the terror in the hearts of those being affected right now, and I am grateful we don't live with that yet.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Remember the question from a bit ago about Monopoly and I said I owned the board. I felt a little guilty beating my kids so much ... but probably not as guilty as I should considering they usually beat me.

Monday, November 16, 2015


I have a huge confession to make to you all. It's one I have held in a long time.

I am ... a homeschooler.
From here
First, I need to dispel some misconceptions.

  • I don't grind my own grains. Though, that would be cool if our grain issues weren't so nutty. 
  • I don't wear denim jumpers. I own one. It's too small. I need to donate it. Yeah, I will probably just keep it in my closet. 
  • My kids are not graduating at 13 years old and won't be doctors at 16. 
  • I am not nuts. 
  • I am not stronger than you are. 
From here
Before we had kids, before we even thought about trying, we knew we wanted to educate them at home. Both of us went to public school. My husband went to a school that was small. There were about 200 kids in K-12 total. I went to a larger school. There were about 200 kids in my graduating class alone. So we aren't second generation homeschoolers who know no other way. It's something we have felt lead to do since early in our marriage. 

When our oldest son got his diagnosis of Autism (his first of many diagnoses), we were told the only help for him was at the public school's preschool program for children with special needs (PPCD). We watched our dreams to educate him at home fly out the window. We went to the school, signed him up, had our ARD/IEP meeting, and took him to that little out building each day. I hated it. I wondered why God gave me such a strong desire only to rip it from me. It made no sense at all. 

Then, one day I was at home with our younger son with our older son at school and I thought about it. It really DID make no sense. God said we should home educate. He knew our child before we did. He knew he was growing in my belly before I did. He knows the days of his life already. If God said we should educate our kids at home, He meant it. He wasn't sitting up there while we were at the doctor's office on that fateful day thinking, "whoa, never saw that coming. Change of plans, put him in school." That's why it didn't feel right to me. I was going against God's command for our family. 

However, I am not the only parent here and I was nervous to suggest to my husband that we could educate him just as well as the school was going to do. He came home that night and, after putting the kids to bed, I asked him to sit on the sofa and talk with me. I told him about my thoughts and said, "what if WE can teach him what he needs to know." and I waited. 

His response shocked me. He thought for a minute and then said quietly, "I think we can. This makes much more sense than what we are doing now. Pull him out of school." The next day I walked into the front office holding his little hand, walked up to the secretary and told her we were taking him out of school, thank you. 

Yes, we are a bit nuts. No, I wasn't ready at all but why send him another day when we knew it wasn't his final destination for learning. 

It has been a very long journey. I started with shiny new expensive curriculum and quickly threw that out. I started with another new curriculum and tossed it. I bought a few more and finally we have a plan that works for our kids. It's hard on some days, and really hard on others. But, the blessings have been incredible. My kids have actually thanked me for homeschooling them. Whoa. My kids have told me, more than once, "Mom, we have the best talks." I love seeing their eyes light up as a concept that's hard for them to grasp hits them and they get it. I love that they can tell you about what happens in your brain when you learn a new concept and finally get it. 

If you want to home educate your kids, you can. Education level doesn't matter. It doesn't. Think about it. If the public school system you were raised in didn't teach you enough to teach children younger than you, it failed and you don't want your kids in the same system. Know you will throw out curriculum. Oh, you think it's easy to pick one, it's not. Learning styles, teaching styles, budget, and more will lead you in unplanned directions.

But, above all remember: You can do it. I did it. I am doing it. I finally let go of how I thought it should happen (which looked a lot like public school) and let my kids styles direct how it did happen. Now we are all a lot happier and my kids are learning easier and quicker than before. 
From here

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Hear Our Hearts

I had another post for today but it needed to take a back seat after yesterday. For those who don't know, Paris was attacked through the cowardly acts of terrorists. People have died, others have been injured, fear is in the streets, the military is trying to take control back, borders have been closed.

There are rumors coming out now from the media and local sources that this was an ISIS attack carried out by Islamic terrorist. Reports are saying up to 127 people are dead, more are injured, 7 attackers are dead by suicide bombing.

This is just a tragic event. Lives have been lost, families hurt so deeply, people are living in fear, and others are living with the hopes of killing more innocent victims.

It's time to pray. We need God in our world. We have thrown Him out and told Him he's not welcome here. Now we are paying for that arrogance. He's our only hope. We need to pray for these families who lost their loved ones and pray for the families of those who attacked Paris. Not only did they lose a family member, but that person is a murderer and we don't know the salvation status of the family itself. They need God just as much as we do.

For those in Paris, we are praying for you. We are lifting you up.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Simple Changes

I learned about how cosmetics, cleaners, personal care items, and more that we use on our bodies and in our homes can affect us in a big way. I started to look for those types of items in stores. I found some. I found some good ones. But, honestly, I live far away from those types of stores and running out is an issue. Add in that some had just one single ingredient that either I (need no endocrine disruptors) or my sons (gluten, dairy, soy, colors, apples, etc, etc free) couldn't use, and it was hard.

That's when I found Ava Anderson. I ordered a few items after doing some research and I was sold. Not only did they fit in our list of no-no, but they also smelled good, were priced right, and were things you actually wanted to use.

I decided to join so I could get the discount that distributors received. Yeah, I am cheap like that.

I thought I would pass on the site information so you, too, could check them out. Do your homework, research, and, if you decide to give it a try, I would be honored to have you visit my online store where you can order from the privacy of your own home, have it shipped to you, and never have to share your personal information with me.

My Ava Anderson Store

**All links in this post are my personal store links on Ava Anderson. I receive no compensation if you click on them, only if you decide to make a purchase. All proceeds will be going to the biomedical care our sons receive for their medical needs. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Patriotic Hodgepodge

Woohoo, it's Wednesday and that means it's time for Wednesday Hodgepodge from Joyce over at "From This Side of the Pond". Check out my answers and then head over to her blog for a lot more fun.

1. In two or three sentences tell us what Veteran's Day means to you?
It means remembering my grandfather and grandmother who both served in WWII (and met while in the service). It means taking a moment, or two, and thanking God for those who were willing to give up the comforts of home to protect our borders or help another nation protect theirs. 

2. What's your favorite film with a patriotic theme woven into the storyline?

EASY. White Christmas. Sigh. Now I need to pull this movie out tonight and watch it.

3. Flu shot-yes or no? If you answered no, do you plan to get a flu shot? If not, why not? Have you ever had the flu?

No. I do not plan on getting the shot. We don't get it. We use natural methods for protecting ourselves from the flu virus. Yes, I had the flu once. I still don't get the shot anymore. 

4. I've seen lots of people posting pictures of their Christmas trees up and decorated. Many stores have had Christmas on display since well before Halloween. Red cups are back at Starbucks, sans the holiday decor, and that has some people up in arms. What are your thoughts on all the holiday ruckus this second week of November?

I don't get it. I just don't get it. Hello, um, Thanksgiving!! Now that's a beautiful holiday. 

And, I guess I will take this opportunity to share something we have changed in our home this year. We are not doing Christmas in our family.

It's OK, I will wait until the gasps and fainting spells are over.

Feel better. OK. Let me quickly explain.

We needed to research the origins of Halloween for our boys. They asked us why we celebrated it. We didn't know other than candy. So, we researched it. They both looked at me afterwards and said, "I don't think that's a very good idea for us as Christians, do you". How could I argue?

That lead us on a search for better alternatives and so on. We learned a lot in that journey and we have decided to celebrate Hanukkah instead. Yes, we are very much still Christians. Yes, we still love Jesus and know salvation comes from Him and only Him. But, when you have a moment, study about Hanukkah and see the beautiful pointing to Christ that it has strung throughout. Look in the NT to see Christ, Himself, celebrating it.

So, we will not have a tree this year, but a Menorah. And we can't wait to share the love of Christ with family and friends as they gather around the light to hear about the one true Light that came to this earth so long ago.

As for the cup issue (rolling eyes here), I posted about that yesterday on this post, "The Cup Doesn't Matter"

5. What 'critter' are you most afraid of encountering unexpectedly? Why that one?

In my home? A mouse. I hate mice. I mean, really, because they are mice. 
In our pasture? A snake. Some snakes will chase you. We have means snakes around here. We have been chased a few times. Most just slither on by and don't care about you. Some are snotty.

6. Do you like building things? What's the last thing you 'built'?

Not really. I like working with my hands but not building. The last thing built for us was our wheelchair ramp. My husband and kids are about to build a club house. I build sandwiches. LOL. 

7. In keeping with this month's theme of gratitude...what are you most grateful for that brings beauty to your daily life?

I am most grateful for my God who provided such a beautiful and sacrificial way for us to live with Him for eternity. Without that I would literally be lost. My life wouldn't have a whole lot of purpose since the second it ended it would all be dust. 

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

I am excited about Hanukkah coming up. We picked out a simple but pretty menorah. We chose simple candles. I invited family and friends over for the last night's big celebration. I am planning the 8 days of meals. We have some fun traditional games to play (yes, we will have a dreidel) . Our whole family is excited. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Talk about a glitch. I posted Wednesday's Hodgepodge today, thinking it was Wednesday, then getting concerned about Joyce because she hadn't posted hers so we could post our links to share.

Yeah, um, it's Tuesday.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Cup Doesn't Matter

It's all over the internet, even on the news. Starbucks has a new cup for the Christmas holiday. And there is such an uproar over it. People are up in arms that the cups that they are going to throw in the trash and never think about, the cups that have a paper holder on them so you can't really see much of them anyway, are red and green and don't have something like a snowflake on them.

From here
Deep breath ...

The cup doesn't matter. If your faith can be turned because of a cup, you have bigger issues than the Starbucks corporation. You need to stop reading what I have to say and get into God's word and some serious prayer.

What does matter, however, IS at Starbucks. The barista matters. His/her life matters. Have you asked him what his plans for eternity are or just freaked out that your red and green cup doesn't have a snowman on it?

My Mom shared this with me on Facebook today and I agree. Jesus wouldn't care about the cup. It doesn't matter.

“If Jesus was to walk the earth today and enter the nearest Starbucks, what would his agenda be? Would he zero in on the ...closest employee and tell them to write, “Merry Christmas” on his peppermint mocha? Would he then smile smugly at the pained barista who had nothing to do with the corporation’s decision to implement a new design? Would he later boast about it to all his friends as they marvel at his moral victory?
Or perhaps Jesus would choose to order his coffee and ask the barista how her day has been. Perhaps he would invite her to sit with him during her break so he could get to know her. Christian, would he not choose to love her? Invite her to church, tell her what he did for her on the cross, explain grace and mercy, ask how he could serve her with the same humility he demonstrated 2000 years ago?"
So, let's quit sweating the things that don't matter and get back to what does, people. Jesus didn't need others to set up their decorations to suit His beliefs. He got out there, got his feet dirty, and went to those people sharing the truth with them. THAT is what matters. If we worry more about people than our right to have a cup with a snowflake on it hold our coffee, this world would be a far, far better place. I believe Christ cares about the person holding the cup, not that you tricked the Barista into writing Merry Christmas as your name.

It's not about the cup.  

Review: When I Grow Up, I Want to be ... a Missionary

I was given the opportunity to review a study from The Old Schoolhouse called, "When I Grow Up, I Want to be ... a Missionary".

My younger son is 7 years old and has, for a few years now, asked about being a missionary. He says he wants to live out the words in the Bible that tell us to go into all the world. We have tried to support him in this, talk to him about being a missionary at home until he's old enough to leave home. So, when the opportunity came to review a book about being a missionary popped up from The Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was quickly drawn to it.

When we hear the command in God's word to, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  Matthew 28:19-20 we often think of disciples heading out to the churches of the New Testament. But this command was not just for Jesus' time, it's was for all time until the end of the age when He returns. We are all to share God's word with those we meet, but some are called to a life of doing this command. Missionaries are dedicating their lives to this task, this call.

When I Grow Up, I Want to be ... A Missionary" is a wonderful addition to the WannaBe series. It starts with real life stories of mission work from three different types of missionaries. We meet a family that lives with Indians in Mexico after feeling called to a completely different country. God had other plans. We are then introduced to a family who is in a closed country and learn what that means, what the specific challenges are with being in a nation where others can't know you are a missionary. Last we meet a young woman who is "teach(ing) all nations" right here on our own soil, in the United States.

What I wasn't expecting is that this is NOT just a book to read to your kids. It's so much more. After reading about the various missionaries they go into detail of how to become a missionary starting with just witnessing where you live right now all the way to going to other nations to spread the Gospel of Christ.

It ends with bringing everything you just learned, and things that would be important to missionaries (weather in certain areas, money for support and budgeting, etc), and uses those topics to teach the various areas of your school week. You have science, math, reading, art, vocabulary, and handwriting. It also includes work for all levels of student. There are coloring pages and tracing for your pre-K age children and print, cursive, word problems, and crosswords for older kids. The age range on this study is 4-10, and it's very appropriately executed.

Now, for my favorite part of a review, my take. When I first received this unit study I thought I was getting a book to read to my sons. I was excited about that and ready to dive into it. As I opened the file and saw it's size, I quickly realized I was wrong. This was an entire study that could last at least a week, if not more depending on how much of it you did each day.

I liked that each missionary family story had pictures. It's one thing to read to a child or have a child read to himself, but with this age range, pictures really help drive home the lesson. It's hard for a child living in middle class America to realize how poor people can be. Pictures help them grasp that concept. The pictures in this study showed that but in a very gentle and non-scary way. I appreciated that a lot.

The lessons after the reading portion were thorough. I feel like there was so much work done for me, as the parent, that I could just step into this study on day 1 and not need a lot of prep work. With unit studies, that's huge. Sure, you need to pull together some supplies for the craft or cooking exercises, but that's easy and can be done the morning of the activity.

I appreciated the real world application this study provided. Kids are taught about budgeting (a lesson often overlooked by parents), sign language, and about the work that a child needs to do in order to become a missionary. It's not just abstract ideas that puts a missionary up on that elusive pedestal we often think about when we see them come into our churches in their native dress with pictures of foreign lands. They give links to missionary boards and the steps you must take to go into the field on a foreign level. Practical advice is one of the most unique parts of this study, in my opinion.

I hope you will visit The Old Schoolhouse store and check out this unit study. It's well worth your time and, honestly, I learned a lot as a parent which makes this feel like a family activity instead of another school project.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Isaiah 53

Today we weren't able to attend worship due to a medical need our younger son has going on for the next few days. But, this doesn't mean I am not still thinking about my Savior, worshiping God, and in His word. Today Isaiah 53 was on my heart and I wanted to share it with you.

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Maybe this came to me because of a very lengthy conversation I had yesterday with a wonderful man who was Jewish. We spoke about the Messiah, who I thought Jesus was, who He thought he was, and what will happen at the second coming with who he might think Jesus is then (he put it as might, I know it will be definite). He is on my heart today. I so wish he would come to the full saving knowledge of Christ. Maybe my words or actions might have spoken a bit of truth into his heart. I hope I planted a tiny seed that might grow and blossom as others tend to it.  

Thursday, November 5, 2015

No, Really, it's Therapeutic

We have a young son who does not like to sleep alone at night. I mean he has actual anxiety tied to sleeping alone. I don't know why. We have always tried to put our kids to sleep in their own rooms after the infancy stage. He just has never handled it well. But, since he was 2 1/2 days old sleep has been an issue for him, so maybe there's something there.

He started in our bed. We got beat up since he's a wild sleeper. 

We bought a larger bed. 

We were both sleeping on our sides to give him enough space to move around. We considered an even larger bed, but this one is brand new and who can afford to keep doing that. 

We bought a cot with a small mattress on it. We put his cot next to our bed so he was part of our sleeping arrangement but not in the bed. He loved it. 

We really want him in his own room. We have tried everything. 

We offered bribes, even big bribes of big toys and such and he would rather sleep in our room than go for a week or month and get something fun. 

We tried just forcing it. Oh, yeah, that was a horrible few days without any sleep. 

We gave up. 

Until Sunday afternoon. 

We got this. 

Yes, he is adorable. 

Yes, he is cute. 

Yes, he is a lot of work. 

Yes, we said we didn't want any inside pets. 

Yes, he is an inside pet. 

Yes, we all just go gooey over him. 

But, really, it's therapeutic. 

You see, we are making this our son's pet. He named him, picked him out, and he sleeps in his room with him. He doesn't get to sleep with him if our son chooses to sleep in our room, only if he decides to sleep in his own room. So far we are 3 for 4 in him sleeping in his own room. That's the most we have had in a single week ever. We told our son that, for a while, he could sleep in our room one day each week. In a few weeks we will move to one day every two weeks, then three, and so on. 

We are also changing up his room. We moved things around, are adding fun posters to his walls, and making it how he wants it. When life hands you a curve like this, you have to be flexible and think outside the box. He's not like our older son. We could tell him, "you are fine, you are safe, we are here, go to bed, we love you, goodnight" and he would trot off to be content and happy. Nope, logic and reassurance don't work for our younger son. So, we are taking it one day at a time and celebrating even the smallest successes. 

Not to mention, that little cat is so cute. 

Talk soon. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

November Hodgepodge


It's that time of the week when we visit From This Side of the Pond for her Wednesday Hodgepodge. This one is tied to the subject of November. NOVEMBER! Can you believe it's here already? Wasn't it just January a few days ago? But, here we are. So, we might as well have a November themed Hodgepodge to really bring the reality home. So, check out my answers and then head on over to her blog for her thoughts and many other fun bloggers. 

1. Besides Thanksgiving, something you are looking forward to on your November Calendar?

Honestly, this month I am looking forward to my son's consult with his doctor. We had a bunch of labs pulled and we meet with his doctor in a few days to go over the results. I have them in hand and see a lot that we need to work on to get him healthier. There were also some surprises, and some bigger issues than I even thought we were facing. I am ready to move forward with helping him feel better. 

2 If I gave you a thank you card right now who would you send it to and why?

Right now I would send it to the men who came to our house a few weeks ago and built our older son a ramp on their day off and on their dime. They will never fully grasp what they have done for our family and I wish I could tell them each day how grateful they are. 

3. Of the breads listed, which one's are your favorite ... bagel, cinnamon, sourdough, garlic, banana, biscuit, pita, Naan, or plain old fashioned white bread?

OK, I have a confession to make. I have a bit of a bread problem. There are few breads that I don't like. The only time I don't like a bread is if it has nuts or other crunchy things in it. (except Banana bread that has nuts, I like that). I just don't like the consistancy of crunchy in my bread. So, my answer is all of the above. I mean ... come on ... BREAD!

4 What's something you have in abundance? Is that a good thing?

Yarn. I have a nice size stash. I think it's a good thing. When I want to start a project I often have the supplies I need unless I want a very specific color or such for a gift. I wish it was better organized, but I do have it in abudance. 

5. November 5th is National Love Your Red Hair Day. Are there any redheads in your family? Who's your favorite redhead?

I had no clue there was a day to celebrate being a redhead. Yes, there are many redheads in my family. My mom, brother, and grandmother are/were all redheads. My favorite redhead? I guess I should say Lucy since picking a family member would be impossible. But, honestly, she wasn't truly a redhead. Can I pick my favorite redhead's hair? My grandmother had GORGEOUS hair. You could do anything with it. It was long, thick, just enough wave to do fun things with it, but simple enough to just put it up in a basic bun. I always wanted her hair. I did not get it. 

6. The travel website Busbud recently calculated the most Instagrammed spot in every state. Go here to see what made the list where you live. Are you happy with your state's #1? If not what do you think should be the most photographed spot in your state? Have you snapped a photo there? If you live outside the USA answer as it relates to your state, city, or province.

My state was the Tulsa zoo. Really? No, no, no. They obviously haven't been here to think that's the best spot. Nope. There are far too many great choices. Robber's Cave where you can watch bald eagles diving for fish in the lake and the gorgeous natural rock formations is a far better choice. Or, head out west to Lawton to visit Mt. Scott. Talk about scenery and breathtaking views.

Yes, we have taken many pictures in these locations and more than once.

7. I'm going to try to have something related to gratitude in this spot each week during the month of November. Here's this week's question - 

What's something you've learned about yourself this year that you're grateful for?

I have learned that I have weaknesses in areas that I didn't even realize. I am grateful because I am starting to work on them, to strengthen those areas.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

My kids woke me up at 5:30am. I have no real thoughts today. I am lucky to even be awake. Guess that's a random thought.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Even I Have a Weakness

We eat at home because our kids have so many food issues. We have learned through this, how much better the food we make ourselves is. It tastes better, makes us feel better, and is not full of the junk we are trying so hard to avoid.

However ...

In order to keep everything up front and honest on my blog, I must confess. I give in to the weakness occasionally. I did just this week.

Yes, that's a bowl from Chipotle. Yes (hangs head in shame), that's Chipotle Tabasco Sauce on top in order to produce fire in my mouth. Yes, I ate the entire thing.

My youngest son got guacamole and chips. He loves their gaucamole.

I didn't take a picture of my older son's lunch. He was too busy eating to let Mom snap a picture of it. He had a bowl with beans, tomatoes, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, and sour cream. Then he used chips to eat it like a nacho type dip. And, yes, I have marked him well. He topped it with Chipotle Tobasco Sauce. He likes a little heat, as well.

We don't eat there often because, no matter how much I like a good bowl from Chipotle, even I would get sick of the same thing all the time. It helps that the closest Chipotle is an hour away. But it's the only place our sons can eat safely with their food issues. They are great about changing gloves if you just request it and everything is made in it's own container so you don't have to worry about what else was on the surface before your food is prepared.

Talk soon.

Random Acts of Boyhood Copyright © 2012 Design by Ipietoon Blogger Template