"I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back." -- Phillips Brooks

An amusing rationalization:

I am flying solo tonight, so I picked up a cheesesteak and brownie from Wholly Cow for dinner. On the way home, I ate the brownie. This is how my logic went:

"I've never had this brand of brownie before. Gluten free brownies can be awesome, or they can be disgusting. If I eat this amazing cheesesteak first, and then the brownie isn't good, I'll be left with a gross taste in my mouth. I know the cheesesteak is good, so I'll eat the brownie first."

True reason: I was hungry and there were no children present to be a good example for.

The brownie was delish!

Funny and odd things the kids have done lately:

1. Lila made me come to the living room and sit on the couch, so that she could get in my lap and look me in the eye to say, "Why are you being so weird?!?"

2. Eli pooted a half-dozen times and then said his bootie was having a festival.

3. Lila said to Eli, "You are so hard to reason with."

4. I discovered that Eli has trouble saying his own middle name (which is Sebastian). When he says it, the name comes out more like 'Spedashden'.

5. When Doug was leaving for his trip this afternoon, Lila went running back to the car for one last kiss through the window. Eli kind of shook his head and said, "She is so into Dad."

A great movie quote (from The Avengers):

Black Widow: [referring to Thor and Loki] "These guys come from legend. They're basically gods."
Captain America: "There's only one God, ma'am, and I'm pretty sure He doesn't dress like that."



You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. (John 8:32)

How many men does it take to change a
light bulb?
Doug is leaving for another business trip tomorrow. Boo!

Now that the kids are older, these trips aren't as bad as they used to be. I still don't like them though. It's not so much Doug's absence (we are big kids. we can handle being separated for a week or two.) as it is the knowledge that he is literally on the other side of the world.

If something were to go wrong here, it would take hours to get in touch with him and then it would take at least another day for him to get home. And, if I really let myself get paranoid, I think about what could happen if something catastrophic happened.

For example, if there were another terrorist attack or war, and air travel got shut down. Eek! It's best not to let myself go there...

The kids are not happy about this either. During our Bible Time at the beginning of school today, we were talking about worry. I had the kids draw a picture of something that they worry about. Lila drew herself crying and watching Doug fly away in an airplane.


For the record, I do not share any of my paranoid worries with the kids. I sympathize with their sadness at Doug's absence and try to help us all look at the bright side. Coming up with clever little surprises for him to find when he gets home is often a helpful diversion.

Of course, I do miss my husband. I can be totally fine all day long, but going to bed alone makes me so sad! We don't snuggle - or even touch each other - in our sleep. (Good heavens, no. That man is like a blast furnace.) I can just sense the gaping void on the other side of the bed!

Anyway, he leaves tomorrow and returns on February 11th. I could go on about all the reasons I dislike these trips, but it's really rather pointless. And you might end up hearing about them after he's gone. After all, I'll need someone to unload on after a long day of herding cats!



"Give me liberty, or give me death!" -- Patrick Henry

I'm not sure who looks more smarmy in this photo;
me, or the Power Ranger.
A week ago, I had our laundry completely under control. One stomach virus later, and I'm fishing uniforms out of the dirty laundry to send my kids to school in. Something tells me it's going to take more than a week to get things back in order. [sigh]

I went and had a physical done last week, so that we could get an insurance discount. Everything looked great, except that I'm "significantly anemic". Well, la dee da. I'm also significantly sarcastic and significantly stubborn.

(Something about that use of significantly is annoying to me. Could just be the long day talking...)

My first thought was that the anemia, which has never been present before, was the result of my (mostly) vegan diet. It turns out, however, that vegans and vegetarians are no more likely to develop anemia than meat-eaters.

The doctor advised that I take 325 mg of ferrous sulfate, twice daily, for one month and then have my iron levels checked again. I looked for the iron supplements when I went to Whole Foods and the only one that said it contained ferrous sulfate came in 5 mg doses.

All the other forms of iron were in the 5 mg-ish range as well, so something about this didn't seem right. I get the brilliant idea that the doctor must have meant 325 micrograms and I sent her a message, asking if that was the case.

Nope, 325 milligrams is what she meant. That seemed hinky to me, so I did a quick internet search. There I found information that really made me nervous (iron toxicity, etc.), so I turned to our family naturopath.

Now, I would have turned to her first, except that I haven't seen her as a patient myself yet. Lila has seen her a few times and Eli will be seeing her in a couple of weeks. Since we have developed some relationship, I asked if she'd give me her advice.

She said, "The dosage the doctor told you was the typical recommended dosage from medical doctors for short term replenishing of iron. However, that type of iron can be constipating and yes, it is a high dosage and can lead to serious problems if you take more than is needed.

I would recommend taking a product called Floradix. It contains ferrous gluconate in a natural complex that's highly absorbable. It's lower in concentration, far safer and just takes a little longer to bring up the levels. Since you're not at a critically low level, I think it would work for you and you would still recheck in one month to make sure that your iron levels are rising. You could even take a double dosage of the Floradix and still be safe but raise the levels a little faster."

Since I prefer not to be constipated, or dead, I think I'll go with this advice. Plus, I just trust this doctor more than any medical doctor. And I will try very hard not to get a perverse pleasure out of telling the first doctor that I will not be doing what she wants me to do.

Now, is there a supplement that can help me with that significant sarcasm and significant stubbornness...?



"Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn." -- John Trapp

My son is causing me a great deal of stress today. His limited diet has gotten so out of control that he's actually lost weight over the past four months, rather than gain it.

Our pediatrician did a bone age test in May, which showed delayed growth. We followed up with an endocrinologist in September, who said that all this blood tests were normal and he was just a slow grow-er. Not to worry!

At his follow-up appointment with the endocrinologist last week, we found that he had only grown 1 cm in the past four months and, as I mentioned before, he'd lost a bit of weight. Now she's concerned and she wants to send us to another specialist.

Before I go and haul him off to another specialist, I'm taking him to the Naturopath that Lila's been seeing. She will look at the big picture of his life and our family life. I want her opinion on growth and nutrition, as well as any advice she might have on getting the boy to eat.

And, honestly, I trust her nutrition knowledge and advice over any medical doctor's.

Here's the list of foods that Eli will eat:

Peanut Butter
Cereal Bars

That's it.

And to make things worse, he periodically decides that something he's been eating consistently "tastes funny" and he'll no longer eat it. Just today, he did this with the chocolate coconut milk yogurt that has been the backbone of his school lunches all year.

Here's the list of foods that Eli used to eat, but will no longer touch:

Red Bell Pepper

If it were just a matter of stubbornness, we wouldn't have such a problem. I'm fine with being tough, if that's what needs to be done. But being tough does not work with this kid. Especially when it comes to food. Reasoning with him doesn't work either.

He is legitimately afraid to try new foods. If I put a bite of something on his plate and tell him that he has to eat it... he basically has an anxiety attack. He will get so upset that he ends up on the toilet with tummy problems.

So, I can either give the kid anxiety attacks or let him slowly malnourish himself. This is a no-win situation!

Making sure that he is healthy and well is in my friggin' job description! If he were a picky eater and thriving, then I wouldn't worry so much. But he's not!

I don't care if he's a short guy. I just want him to be a healthy short guy!



I received a generous amount of money for Christmas, from a few different family members. I spent most of it right away, on things like a Goonies t-shirt, a massage, black leggings, a new toilet brush, and a Dr. Who journal.

What can I say? My tastes are varied.

That left me with about $100. For a few weeks now, I've been trying to decide how to spend that money. I went to Old Navy with the intent of buying some new jeans. Since I've lost a bit of weight, my jeans from last year don't fit anymore.

I tried on at least one pair of every style in the store and none of them fit. I left in despair, and harboring a grudge against Old Navy, for having failed me. How dare they not have the right cut to fit my body type! The nerve...

Since then, I've considered dozens of options. Everything from another massage (repetitive.) to laser hair removal (i fear lasers.) to jeans that I swore I would never pay that much for (yep. still can't do it.). I've been waiting for the perfect idea. Some sort of inspiration.

On a (not) entirely different topic, I love to be generous. People I know, people I don't know - I don't care. I just love to give people the money/things/time/help needed to make them smile and bless their day. EXCEPT.

Except that I also have a sinful nature. When I am being generous and I get the impression that the receiver is beginning to expect me to do so... Well, that rubs me the wrong way and I suddenly get very stingy. It's ugly, but it's true.

Lately, I've been feeling rather stingy. I've been thinking that this is our money and certain people need to show that they deserve our help before we give it to them.

(Goodness, that's hard to admit! I feel a little nauseated.)

Well, God has begun working on my heart, as He is wont to do.

At church yesterday, in the course of the sermon, I was reminded that none of what we have is really ours. Money, possessions, and relationships are all gifts from God. It's not my (or our) money. It is God's money. He has given us a lot to be responsible for and it pleases Him to see us bless others.

During our small group last night, the topic of sacrifice came up. We discussed the concept. What does it mean? What does it look like? What does it feel like? If we are able to give cheerfully, then can it really be a sacrifice? (Yes.) If it's a sacrifice, then shouldn't it be painful? (Not necessarily.)

This morning, as I prayed and read my Bible, I wrote this in my journal: Today could be exhausting or it could be fun. Would you help me have fun, Jesus? . . . I am a sinner. Every beautiful thing in my lie is a gift from You.

Later, as I was finishing my workout and preparing to go to the grocery store, I received a text message from Jesus.* It said, "Angela, invite me to participate in everything - projects, attitudes, decisions - so that you represent me well to others."

I prayed right then that Jesus would participate in my shopping trip. I told Him that I really want to represent Him well to others.

While I was merrily browsing the aisles at Whole Foods (a.k.a. My Happy Place), a woman stopped me and asked if I'd be willing to answer a question. She had three little kids in her cart and she was looking over the canned tomatoes.

I expected her to ask for some sort of information or opinion on food choice. That happens to me a lot. I must look like I know something about food. Or maybe people see the blissful stupor that Whole Foods puts me in and figure I'm likely to be friendly.

At any rate, her question was this: How much do you usually spend on food here?

This question made me uncomfortable. Like I said earlier, God has given us a lot to be responsible for. I sometimes feel guilty about being able to shop so freely at a relatively expensive grocery store. At the same time, if I can afford to feed my children the healthiest of meals, then I'm going to.

So I told her, honestly, what I typically spend. She looked a little shocked. She said she was looking for non-GMO foods and confessed that the prices at the store were hard for her to accept. I agreed that the prices were higher for those items than for the typical grocery store fare.

The conversation trailed off, somewhat awkwardly. I couldn't think of anything else to say, so I kept moving down the aisle. Inwardly, my heart was rebelling.

Why shouldn't people who earn an average (or below) income be able to buy the foods that are healthiest for their families? Why is the food that is worst for you, often the cheapest? Why did we ever start putting pesticides and genetic modifications into our food supply in the first place?!?

I pondered as I shopped, my mind now uneasy and distracted. Then I remembered my Christmas money.

I couldn't change the food industry. I couldn't make it possible for this woman to afford to shop at Whole Foods every week. But I could bless one woman and make it possible for her to buy whatever healthy food she wanted for her family, if only for this day.

So, I pulled the $100 bill out of my purse, tucked it into my hand, and circled back. I walked up to this woman, who was now contemplating the pasta, and asked her, "Would you be willing to accept kind of a crazy gift from me?"

She looked a little surprised and said, "Sure!" I handed her that $100 bill. I have no idea what look was on my face, but the look on hers was priceless! She looked at me like I'd just sprouted tentacles from my head.

Once she recovered a bit, she thanked me. I got a little uncomfortable as I sensed that people were beginning to look at me, so put a hand on her back, babbled something about how I just wanted to give her a gift, and then left the aisle.

I caught a glimpse of another woman who seemed to be at the store with the first one. I'm not sure what she was thinking, but judging by the look on her face, it probably involved the phrase "crazy white woman."

To say that it felt good to give that money away would be a massive understatement. I didn't just feel good; I felt relieved! Somehow, I was glad that I was no longer trying to decide what a I most wanted to buy for myself.

When I made the decision to give, I thought I was making a sacrifice. Once it was done, I wasn't so sure. Yes, I gave something up for the sake of someone else. I gave up the chance to buy a pair of jeans that would make my a$$ look good so that a woman could give her family a healthy meal.

Seems like a bit of a no-brainer, doesn't it?

I consider a blessing to be anything that draws you closer to God. That which does not draw you closer to God, is not a blessing. That money was no longer a blessing to me. It led me to think far too much of myself and my own desires.

(disclaimer: i'm not saying i should never think of myself or my own desires, but that should not be my first or most frequent thought.)

Today, God blessed two people with a $100 bill. He blessed the woman who received it and He blessed the woman who gave it away. The state of the world did not change, but my heart did. And maybe hers did too.

"Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom."
Psalm 145:3

* I just blew your mind, didn't I? It's a service I signed up for through my church.



Me: "That's it. I'm done being productive for the day. I've had enough."

[10 minutes later]

Doug: "I know you're resting, but there is a completed load of laundry in the washing machine."
Me: "Yes, there is."


Me: "Would you like me to tell you what you can do with that load of laundry?"
Doug: [scurrying away] "I've got to go take care of the kids!"



"You took the good things for granted. Now you must earn them again. For every right that you cherish, you have a duty which you must fulfill. For every good which you wish to preserve, you will have to sacrifice your comfort and your ease. There is nothing for nothing any longer." -- Walter Lippmann

Things I Take for Granted:

1. My husband. Doug is a freaking awesome husband (and man in general).

He is honest. I never have to wonder whether he's telling me the truth.

He wants to communicate. He may not always be aware of what he's feeling, but he's always willing to talk about what's going on in both of our lives.

When I talk, he really listens. I never feel like I have to get emotional or loud to be heard.

He respects me. Does a little superiority slip out every now and then? Yes. (uh, me too.) But he is never intentionally unsupportive.

Sometimes I'm foolish enough to think that he's not a romantic person. However, if I stop to think about what his primary way of giving and receiving love is - acts of service - I realize that he is pouring his love out to me all day long!

Sex. That's all I'll say.

A perfect example of Doug's gift-giving. I saw this painting
at an art show and loved it. I had no idea he'd secretly gotten
it for me until Christmas morning!
He knows that I love gifts and he does a great job of choosing things that he knows I'll like. If we're out window shopping (or browsing online, or watching TV commercials, etc.) he pays attention when I show an interest in something.

If I ask for a different kind of gift - compliments, time, a phone call - he will do whatever he can to give that thing. He's also humble enough to accept reminders about my needs without getting defensive.

If I need him, he is there. He takes care of me, supports me, prioritizes our relationship, and helps with the home and our children.

And, seriously, he is the single most responsible person I've ever met. He honors his commitments and accepts his duties without complaint.

Ah heck. I'm feeling so warm and fuzzy now that I think I'll save the rest of the list for another day!



Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
(Psalm 34:8)

Yep, that pretty much sums it up.
I had an unusual weekend, followed by a very busy Monday. On Saturday morning, I drove to Dallas for my Aunt Linda's memorial service. After the service, and a fun dinner with family, I drove back home. That's a whole lotta driving in one day, but it really wasn't bad!

Then I spent all of Sunday in bed. I don't know if it was the Chick-fil-A in Waco, the chips I nibbled at the memorial service, the Chili's in Mesquite, or the Frosty I grabbed on my way home, but something was contaminated with gluten. Meh.

Thankfully, though I still felt rather crummy when I woke up this morning, I recovered quickly. It was non-stop action from the time my feet hit the floor until about an hour ago, when dinner was over and I was able to sit down and relax.

I wish I had something more profound to talk about, but... well, I just don't.

I will say that it's amazing how quickly you can lose fitness abilities when you aren't working out consistently. I was very spotty in going to the gym all during our Christmas break. I went from being able to pretty easily run/walk 3.1 miles before the break to barely making it to 2 miles before feeling like I was going to puke today.

Not cool, man. Not cool.



Shut the gate and keep the hogs out of the yard. -- Webster's Blue Back Speller

"Excuse me, but I was perfectly behaved today. So why am I
being punished? . . . Get this stupid thing off of me!"
You know how I was expecting a rough homeschool day on Tuesday? Well, I got it today instead. Yay.

It started with Eli's terrible attitude toward his assignments and was compounded by my lack of patience. (Probably because I was not expecting the backlash. I always handle nasty attitudes better when I am expecting them.)

Things quieted down as we got closer to lunch time, but the attitudes started right back up after rest time. I had to rush Eli out of a nap to put shoes on and head to Lila's appointment with the naturopath. He didn't appreciate that.

Then Lila found out that she'll be continuing this dairy-free experiment for another six weeks. She didn't appreciate that. Nor do any of us, really.

There was arguing over toys at the doctor's office that continued all the way home and turned into outright yelling and mild violence (from the children). I was finally so sick of listening to it that I went all Love & Logic on them.

I told them that, due to all the arguing and rudeness, I no longer had the energy to finish our school work. They didn't see how that was a bad thing, at first. Then they realized that, without doing responsibilities, they wouldn't be able to earn privileges (like videos and game time).

They were pretty well-behaved after that. Much less arguing and they didn't complain at all about the things they were missing out on.

We'll have to finish today's school work tomorrow, but that shouldn't be a problem. I'm mildly concerned that they'll try being disruptive again, in hopes that I'll run out of energy and not be able to do our work. I have a plan for that, however. It will not go the way they expect.



"Wisdom is the right use of knowledge. To know is not to be wise. Many men know a great deal, and are all the greater fools for it. There is no fool so great a fool as a knowing fool. But to know how to use knowledge is to have wisdom." - Charles Spurgeon

Cages: not just for guinea pigs anymore.
(I swear I did not do this.)
I really thought that this would be a rough day. It was our first homeschool day after three weeks of Christmas vacation. I anticipated grumpiness, lack of patience, and complaining.

I didn't expect the kids to be very excited about things either. [wink]

Instead, it was a great day! We were all patient and friendly and we got every stitch of school work finished. I am taking this as proof that the children were just as ready for a normal routine as I was. (And that three weeks off can do us a lot of good!)

I even had enough energy left over after dinner to take care of several daily chores, clean out the guinea pig cage, and update our calendar for January (a week late). And here I sit, listening to Imagine Dragons and blogging away.

If I can get my butt to BodyPump in the morning, then things will truly be back to normal. Don't tell anyone, but I took a two-hour nap yesterday instead of going to the gym.

My Aunt Linda's memorial service is on Saturday. I do not look forward to the stirring up of pain, but I will be glad to have a little closure. To say goodbye. Waiting has been a little like being one chapter away from finishing a book, but not being able to read it.

I don't think anyone in the family can really begin to move on until Linda's house is cleaned out and sold, but that's going to take more patience.



20 Things I Think You Should Know About My Guinea Pig:

1. Her name is Gypsy.

2. I have approximately 2 dozen nicknames for her.

3. She's really freaking cute. She's basically a furry potato with legs.

4. She likes to be held and played with, but hates to be picked up. Figure that one out.

5. She thinks that the sound of a spoon tapping on the side of a bowl means that she should get fresh hay. (Seriously.)

6. She thinks that the arrival of any human through the front door means that she should get fresh veggies.

7. She thinks that the TV being turned off means that she should get some bonus veggies.

8. When she wants something, she says, "Weet! Weet! WEET! WEEEET!"

9. She likes to lay on my chest and snuggle.

10. She likes to stick her nose up my nose. I have no idea why.

11. I allow her to lick my face. I draw the line at letting her lick my lips.

12. Lila is better than me at catching her and taking her out of the cage.

13. She thinks that hair, buttons, necklaces, bows, and rings are all things which should be bitten.

14. I speak to her in excessively nauseating baby talk.

15. She has no idea of her place on the food chain. She likes to bite Cookie's tail and attempt to pull fur from his neck.

16. She once pulled a hair out of my eyebrow. It hurt.

17. She does NOT approve of guinea pig clothes.

18. She's convinced that everyone in the world is out to steal her baby carrots.

19. She has one white paw, which we refer to as The White Paw of Cuteness.

20. Doug thinks she's cute, but he's secretly afraid of her.



"Be wiser than other people if you can; but do not tell them so." -- Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield

Unrelated photo of one of my cute kids.
I recently read something in an email from FlyLady that I've been thinking a lot about. She said, basically, that it's better to pick one or two books on a subject and read them many times, than to read as many different books as you can.

The more I think about it, the more this makes sense. For one thing, unless you have a very special memory, you cannot possibly remember the entire contents of a book after only one reading. Repetition of information is what helps us to remember.

And, on any topic, there are two possibilities to the books available. The first possibility is that they all contain, more or less, the same information. In that case, you only need one or two. Anything more would be redundant.

The second possibility is that there are many books with widely varied philosophies, advice, and information. In this case, the more you read, the more you confuse yourself!

Parenting books are a perfect example of this. There are countless books, reflecting countless approaches. You can find everything from age-old advice to the latest fads. Most of them manage to sound like the right idea, so you can begin to wonder which is right and/or how to implement all of them.

I have at least a dozen (if not two dozen) parenting books on my shelves. I think I've just decided, right now, that I'm going to stick with the two books that I trust the most--aside from the Bible--and get rid of all the rest.

For me, it will be Parenting with Love & Logic and Grace-Based Parenting. They are great books and very complementary.

The challenge will be in getting rid of the ones I haven't read yet. I tend to hang on to books the way some people hang onto their "skinny jeans". I can look at a book and know that I almost certainly will not read it, but I still want to keep it on the shelf. Just in case.

Bah! Humbug! Away with you, Dust-Collecting Books!



Don't bite the hand that feeds you. -- Aesop

I love my family. A lot. I mean, I crazy-out-of-my-mind love them.

Because I love them, they need to go back to work and school.

Like, yesterday.

The four of us have been together for most of the past two-and-a-half weeks and I can't take it anymore. I am selfish and human and I need some SPACE.

I think we're all feeling it, really. Doug hasn't said so, but I'm pretty sure he'll be glad to get back to work tomorrow. And Eli threw a massive fit over going into rest time yesterday. He hasn't done that in a long time.

The problem was that he wanted to spend rest time in his room, but Lila had already called it. He was standing on the guest bed, screaming at the top of his lungs, "No! It has to be the bedroom! I want to be in the bedroom! Nuffing but the bedroom! Nooooooooo!"

I had to walk away so that he did not see me laughing.

Lila is just exhausted. She had her BESTIE at our house for a sleepover Monday night and it sounds like they only got about half as much sleep as they needed. I can tell you for sure that they were out of bed at 5:20.

Last night, both kids were up late at a New Year's Eve party. They had a blast, but they can't take much more. They were in bed on time tonight, and they had darned well better sleep past 6:30 in the morning!

If they don't, I will be sending them to work with Doug.