October 20, 2016


I’m not that good about checking my Facebook messages, so it was a couple days later before I saw my friend Angie’s message: “I wanted to share a recipe and write about pumpkin because I love pumpkin and I thought your blog could use something pumpkin.

It’s true. She loves it. This is definitely not the first year I’ve seen pumpkins take over her posts on Facebook, and I gotta say, I love the way she goes all in on the season!

By the time I finished reading the recipe, I was dyinggg to try it out. So I did, and it is DELISH. I deviated from the instructions a bit and added my coffee to the pot of milk and pumpkin and then used a hand immersion blender to blend it all together. So good. I’m making it again tomorrow! I will say the first 98% of it was really smooth, but there was a little bit of pumpkin residue at the bottom of my cup. Maybe my Vitamix blender would have prevented that? Not sure, but it’s not going to stop me from making it again! Try this out and let me know if you love it! 

Pumpkin Spice Latte Recipe
Guest post by Angie L.

Fall is my favorite season. Two of my favorite things about fall are pumpkin and pumpkin spice latte. When I went to coffee shops for pumpkin spice lattes, I didn’t enjoy the pumpkin spice lattes as much as I’d like because they were loaded with sugar and I couldn’t taste much pumpkin. So, I was on a mission to make the perfect homemade cup of pumpkin spice latte.

October 12, 2016


By Haragayato – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

I learned about something beautiful this week. It’s called kintsugi: the Japanese art of taking broken pottery and using gold to piece it back together. The idea is that flaws and breakage aren’t things we need to hide, but are things that can be beautiful. Even highlighted.

With gold.

If you search “kintsugi” online, there are so many beautiful images of it. My personal favorite is the turquoise bowl with gold repairs. I can’t post an image of it here (copyright issues), but you can probably find the very one if you do a quick Google search :). Do you see it? Do you LOVE it?

I’m tempted to buy a turqoise bowl and break it just so I can use gold to put it back together. Except I think that’s not really the point, and… I also don’t know how to melt gold and stuff. But I definitely like the “after” version of this pottery better than what I imagine the “before” was.

I love this illustration of exchanging something worthless into something beautiful and good.

October 5, 2016

This story is several months old, but I think of it all the time.


It was a Sunday. I know this, because we skipped church that morning. We had to, since my daughter had come down with a 104 degree fever. She had been sick for a couple days, and I was grateful for the weekend so Ben could step in and take on some of the burden of taking care of the kids. She’s usually a darling, but this sickness was making her kind of a mess- a hot, crying, whiny, screaming mess. So this weekend, I was especially grateful for backup.

It was still a lot of work. Taking care of a sick toddler and a newborn is hard. I was still nursing my son several times a day, and we were also in the middle of working through my daughter’s TWOS. Full blown 2’s on top of 104 fever = ROUGH TIMES. I think I was getting through a cold, too. So I was pretty ready to zonk out and call it a day.

Except I couldn’t. Because on Sunday morning, I woke to Ben sitting stiffly on the edge of the bed, looking at the wall.

“Oh no,” he said.

“What?” I said, groggily.

He slowly turned his body to me, “I tweaked my neck again.”


“I can’t even move my head. Ugh. Oh man this is such bad timing.”

“…” (<–Yes, it is. It really is.)

“I can still get her ready this morning…” he started, referring to our sick toddler.

“No. You shouldn’t. You could make your neck or back worse. I’ll get her.” I mean, my intentions were kind, but I couldn’t control my tone of voice. I was NOT pleased with the situation. Ben was going to be out of commission the entire day?!?! NOOOOO!!!

“Ugh, no, you’re so exhausted already,” he began, “I don’t want you to have to-”

“It’s fine. I’ll be fine.” I was huffy. I knew he really did feel bad, but this was seriously not the best time for a tweaked neck! I tried to be sympathetic, but I think selfishness overwhelmed me and I was more sympathetic for myself than for him.

So the hard work continued. I got both of the kids up, dressed, fed, cleaned, and played with them. I took her to the potty and I changed all his diapers. She continued to be sick, I continued to be exhausted, and Ben… lay on the couch. In pain.

But useless.

September 30, 2016


Children are curious creatures. What was that? Where are we going? What are you doing? Why is he wearing that? Why?



How do you respond to all of these questions? I used to think I was doing my daughter a favor by answering her questions.

Daughter: “What was that sound?”

Me: “An airplane.”

Sometimes my answers were more involved:

Daughter: “What is that sound?”

Me: “It’s the sound that tells people that it’s okay to walk across the street. Most people can see the walking man sign that tells us it’s okay to walk, but some people can’t see it, so this sound tells them when it’s time to cross.”

I’d run with it and take it as a teaching moment to tell her more about people with disabilities and then segue into a lesson about compassion and empathy. She would eat it all up. Boy, I LOVE TEACHING! I just can’t stop myself. I enjoy being the first to unveil the mystery of why people walk outside with umbrellas on sunny days and what all the weird noises are. I love to watch her learn new things, discover how the world works, and make sense of things. But that’s just the thing: If I am always giving her the answers to her questions, maybe she won’t learn very well how to discover answers on her own and make sense of things herself.

If I simply answer all the questions, I rob her of the opportunity to think for herself, to hypothesize, and to develop confidence in her own ability to discover answers. Maybe all my teaching and answer-giving is actually doing her a disservice! 

September 23, 2016

There’s a post I have been REALLY wanting to get out to you about responding to questions from kids… because if you have a toddler like me, you’re probably fielding a lot of questions alll the time! And I recently found a new strategy I LOVE using with my little girl. But man it’s been kinda crazy times over here, and every night that I’ve meant to pound out that post, something else has come up.

So instead, today is about oatmeal. Because I’ve had this post ready to go (but kept forgetting to snap a picture for it). It’s really yummy oatmeal! My friend just happened to test the recipe this week, and she liked it, too! “So tasty, quick and easy!” It really is yummy, so I hope you try out this warm, toasty, stick to your ribs oatmeal with the cooler seasons approaching!


This is my new go-to oatmeal recipe. But wait, JoEllen, you already posted a steel cut oatmeal recipe! Ah, yes. I did. And I still like that one! It’s chock full of steel cutty, apply, cinnamony raison goodness! And you can freeze it into pucks and simply reheat in the morning- what’s not to like?

Nothing, except that I have a new recipe I’ve been using and loving, and I prefer it for many reasons:

I usually double this recipe and freeze two batches the same way I described before. It works great! I also find that the bottom sort of caramelizes in the Instant Pot, which I find kind of awesome. It adds a toasty nuttiness to your oatmeal (though the pot is admittedly annoying to clean afterward)!

If you don’t have an Instant Pot, this same recipe works on the stove top (instructions below). Enjoy!

September 6, 2016

it's not about the paper towels

“Here you go,” I said, tearing off an entire paper towel sheet for her.

“Thanks, Mama,” she said, smearing her fingers across one side.

We had given up on proper napkins a long time ago. They didn’t absorb the spills as well, and when we gave one to our toddler she would just crumple the whole thing in her little hands, wasting 95% of it. We went through so many napkins each meal that it made more sense to tear off only what she needed from a big paper towel instead. (I suppose we could have taught her not to waste the towel, but… uh… getting there.)

This time, I was generous. I gave her a WHOLE SHEET. She accepted it with big eyes and a sense of responsibility. And then she kept eating. And I kept feeding her little brother. And of course, messes kept happening.

August 26, 2016

Daniel Tiger's neighborhood

I’ve been reluctant to write about this because screen time gets such a bad rap. And for good reason. There’s a lot of stuff out there I would never let my kids watch on a screen or do on a tablet. I kept my eldest away from screens for a long time and only really started allowing her to watch shows after she turned two. It was out of desperation since I’d just had a newborn and was having trouble juggling the two at first. But that stage of crazy parenthood is over and I’m still allowing about 25 minutes of screen time a day now, and I don’t even feel guilty about it anymore thanks to one show: Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.

August 15, 2016

Brussels Sprouts with orange butter sauce- DELISH

We eat this all the time. Everyone loves it. I enjoy roasted Brussels sprouts on their own, but this easy sauce definitely takes it up a notch and makes it something special! It was this dish that caused me to go and buy a vegetable book in the first place. If you’re in charge of veggies or looking for a good side dish to bring to the next gathering, try this one!! It won’t disappoint.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Orange Butter Sauce
From Fast, Fresh & Green by Susie Middleton



  1. Preheat oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, toss the Brussels sprouts with the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of the salt. Arrange the sprouts in one layer, cut side down, on the parchment.
  3. Roast until brown and tender, 15-18 minutes. (The tops will be dark brown and crispy and the sprouts should feel tender when pierced with a paring knife.) Transfer the sprouts to a mixing bowl.
  4. Combine the balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, orange juice, and orange zest in a small saucepan. Heat the mixture over medium heat just until it’s hot (you will see a bit of steam), but not simmering. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cold butter, several pieces at a time, whisking constantly until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (Don’t reheat the mixture or the butter will break and the sauce won’t be creamy.) Pour the sauce over the sprouts and stir thoroughly but gently until most of the sauce has been absorbed. Transfer the sprouts and any remaining sauce to a serving platter or dinner plates.
August 11, 2016

For some reason, I have been totally exhausted the last couple weeks. Maybe it has something to do with a toddler that keeps waking up crying in the middle of the night? Or nursing? Or being a mom? I don’t know. But as soon as those kiddos are down to bed, I’ve been plopping myself on the bed and vegging out on my phone… too lazy to even sit up in a chair in the office.

collaborative art with grandma

I’ve also been working on a new project at home! I don’t even know how it started but a few weeks ago I got it in my head that I had to create an art studio/maker space for our family. I dreamed big and stayed up way too late for way too many nights researching and planning and buying. And then I (or maybe Ben?) toned down my dreams and we decided I’d start simple and see if this was just a phase or something I really wanted to commit to. As in, committing an entire room to. As in, swapping out the dining set for a kid’s craft table and lining the walls with strings of art and shelves of paint and buttons and glue.

July 29, 2016

Rehearse desired behavior

“No, No! DON’T. TAKE. MY. BOOK!!!!” she cried, running over and yanking the book out of his hands.

He had recently learned to crawl, and his new life goal was to put every object into his mouth.


You’d think it was her favorite treasured book, but really it was just one of many books that she enjoyed reading. That’s just how it is though, isn’t it? When someone else wants it, its specialness suddenly spikes and we feel extra possessive for it. I’m still like this, even as I try to train my daughter to respond otherwise.

How would you respond in this situation? Make her give it back? Encourage her to share with him? Ignore it? Tell her to take turns with him? Let her keep it and distract him with something else to play with?

Here’s what I do: I remind her to be more gentle, and then I have her practice being more gentle right then and there. 

“Sweetie, you need to be more gentle with your little brother. Let’s try that again. This time, gently ask him if you can use the book, and if he’s okay with it, take it away- gently. Let’s see it.”

I place the book back in his hands and watch her try again, this time doing everything with more gentleness and respect.