October 8, 2015


There’s a reason these pumpkin pancakes have 2k fans on allrecipes.com. A very good reason. Even though I just posted a recipe for whole wheat blueberry pancakes, these are actually my favorite type of pancakes to make! And really, when the leaves start turning color and there’s a chill in the air, nothing beats starting your morning with pumpkin pancakes and a foamy mug of hot cocoa (my favorite recipes here and here (salted caramel))! Not that we’re getting much of a chill in California these days, but you know. Back in the day when there were cool October mornings… *nostalgic sigh*

Don’t fret if you don’t have all the spices on hand. I rarely have allspice around, and just up my cinnamon a little and call it a day.

October 5, 2015

whole wheat blueberry pancakes (6)

Two things I always crave these days: pizza and pancakes.

I am annoyed that DoorDash doesn’t deliver the pizza I like, but the pancakes? Those I can take care of myself! Last week I was all about pumpkin pancakes, and this week, I’ve moved onto blueberry pancakes. This is mostly because we ran out of canned pumpkin and I had frozen blueberries in the freezer already.

whole wheat blueberry pancakes (2)

Because I like to put all my frequently-used recipes on my blog for easy access, I am now adding this one! I’ve got it memorized for the moment because I made it three days in a row, but in case I ever get past this obsession and forget the proportions, I can now find it here. They feel healthyish (whole wheat!), take 5 minutes to mix together, and taste great! Enjoy!

October 1, 2015

make geometric shapes with DIY velcroed craft sticks

Encourage open-ended play and fun with these simple craft sticks and some velcro! I made these for one of my daughter’s busy boxes and I’m pretty sure that as she gets older, she’ll enjoy creating all sorts of fun shapes from it. In addition to simply playing with it, I already have some geometry lessons planned, from teaching basic shapes to regular shapes to congruent shapes to understanding the nuances between the different types of quadrilaterals… all using these sticks! Okay, that may be a few years out, but exploring through play at this early age can only help!

Open-ended play with velcroed craft sticks!

They are great for exploring polygons, enjoying color, and working on fine motor skills with the sticking and un-sticking. Even my husband got into it for a little while, and I’m sure visiting friends will get a kick out of building shapes with these fun little sticks (kind of how they love to find new ways to play with this nifty toy) It feels satisfyingly homemade and just as educational/fine-motor-skill-supporting as any toy I could buy at the store!

September 28, 2015

One Good Thing

It’s been three years now, and it’s still hard for me. It’s hard for me to go back there. It’s hard for me to remember and relive that pain, and it’s hard for me to think about the daughter I have now and wonder if I will even get to keep her for as long as I want.

We never even got to hold her ashes. When I called the funeral home, to ask about them, they said they had already scattered them. Apparently there had been a mix-up with our request, so they went ahead and did that without us even knowing. They gave me the coordinates of where they had sprinkled her ashes. In the ocean. Hers, and several other babies’.

And just like that, she was gone.

My mind was blank. To this day, I still don’t know what to do with this information. Would we drive to the closest point on the coast each year and try to imagine something we were never a part of? Would we take a boat out to a specific spot and think of how her remains are now far, far away from this spot?

Instead, I’ve decided that every time I touch the ocean, there’s a little bit of her there, somewhere. I draw a heart into the sand, and the water washes it away into the vast greatness that holds her remains.

It never felt like enough, but I didn’t know what else to do.

We planted a tree in her memory in our side yard, which you can see from our dining table. It’s called the Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow tree, because the blooms come out a vibrant purple, then fade to lavender the next day, and then turn white the next day. My dad picked it out, and the symbolism of her fleeting moments with us is not lost on us. Every year it has bloomed beautifully for a few weeks, the purple, lavender, and white flowers budding, full of life. But most of the year, it is bare and empty, a reminder of the little girl we do not have anymore.

I read something on Momastary about One Good Thing, a tradition where parents invite their friends to do one good thing that day in honor of the child they have lost.

I liked it. I like the idea that we still remember, but we redeem that terrible tragedy and allow good to pour forth. What a beautiful way to remember and honor a child’s life. At first I felt like it was too late for us to start a tradition like this… after all, we’ve already missed the last three years. But that’s silly. It’s never too late to start A Good Thing.

We still love you, and we still remember you. We remember you when we hold your little sister desperately tight in our arms, and when we see your tree in bloom. We remember you in our pictures, and in the mementos of you in our home. We remember you when we see the great, vast ocean:

Your love is deeper than any oceans
Higher than the Heavens
Reaches beyond the stars in the sky

I think of how that ocean represents His love and His grace, and how you are now melded into that Love and Grace. And I relish in the knowledge that it’s not just symbolic- it’s true; you’re there with our Creator now, and you know that Love and Grace better than I ever will in this lifetime. Blessed Joy.

I hope we can remember you in joy and happiness by encouraging others to honor your life by doing One Good Thing.


Dear Readers, 

It would mean so much to me if you took a moment today to do one good thing. Whether it is holding the door for someone or donating to a charity, it would be a special way of remembering and honoring the life of our first daughter. Thank you for allowing me to share this part of my life with you. 


September 24, 2015

diaper changes

When my daughter was just a newborn, she hated having her poopy diapers changed. I would catch a whiff of her diaper and gently place her on the changing table. When she realized what was coming, she would make a fuss and scream bloody murder. As I went through the routine process of changing her diaper, placing a fresh diaper underneath, wiping her clean, and removing the mess, she screamed and kicked the whole time like it was torture.

I don’t know, maybe she liked the comfort of the mess that she had been sitting in. Maybe she had just gotten used to it. Maybe the feel of the cold wet cloth was uncomfortable on her warm skin. Maybe she just didn’t like being naked and exposed, the way a baby inevitably is when undergoing a diaper change.

As much as I knew she hated it, I kept on doing it: “Sweetie, I know you don’t like this, but it’s good for you. If I just leave it, you’ll get a diaper rash and it will be messy and bad for you. I can’t just let you sit in your mess. I’m going to help you clean it up and then you will feel so much better! Trust me!”

And even though she kicked and screamed, I made her endure this torture because it was good for her. Over time, I think she began to realize it was a good process with good results. She began to trust me more. As I continued to change her diapers, she eventually protested less and less. This was great. Not only was she less miserable about the whole thing, but it made it easier and faster for both of us! Before, she would flail her legs and sometimes squish them into her poop, which made everything more difficult and unpleasant and messy. As time passed, she learned to trust me more and calm down and cooperate. This made the cleanup process much easier and much faster. It was more pleasant for both of us… especially her.

Soon we got to the point where she was calm and still during changes, and eventually she was even helpful, shifting and moving to help me through this routine process of cleaning out her stuff.

As I repeated to her my gentle words of assurance- this is good for you, trust me, it will be even more miserable if we leave it- I couldn’t help but reflect on how babyish we can be with God sometimes.

Like a baby, we all find ourselves stewing in our mess at some point. We have some sinful attitude or behavior and it’s time to get rid of it. If we keep it around, it just makes things worse. Sin rash, if you will. But the cleaning process is no fun and sometimes is straight up miserable. As younger Christians, the process of exposing yourself and wiping up your “mess” is extremely foreign and contrary to our nature, which just wants to stay in the warmth and comfort of what we know. But then we’d be like a baby sitting in his own mess.

The Lord is gracious enough to help us clean up our messes, and we have a choice to make each time. We can fight it and make it a miserable and painful ordeal, kicking and screaming the whole time. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO MEEEEEEE I HATE THIS.

Or we can calmly undergo the cleaning process and reset until the next round.

It doesn’t have to be torturous.

Of course the second route sounds easier. But like babies, sometimes it takes a few rounds of cleaning to realize this and really learn to trust the process and be confident of the outcome. Mature, seasoned Christians recognize sin in themselves more quickly and also are ready to face it and try to work it out more eagerly. They’ve done it before and they know from experience that as painful and uncomfortable as the process can be, it’s totally worth it and good. This cleaning process (aka sanctification) becomes less torturous and more refreshing as experience teaches you that God really does do this for your own good, and that he’s not just trying to force misery and discomfort on you.

As you learn to fight less and instead submit to Him and his will, it becomes easier each time. The very concept of submission is counter cultural and distasteful to many, but is key to joy in God’s kingdom. After all, the Bible reminds us not to “conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2). King David reminds us that it is a delight to do God’s will, and your own life testimony should reveal that the times we consciously chose God’s way over ours always resulted in more joy.

He never promises that it’s easy, but he promises that it’s good. Of course, then there’s potty training. That’s a whole nother mess.

September 21, 2015

An upcycled Pringles container makes for an entertaining toddler activity

A while back, I made five busy boxes for my toddler. One for each weekday:

Busy Boxes for each day of the week

The boxes are basically clear plastic shoe boxes that have a special set of activities and toys to keep her occupied while she quietly sits on a blanket (aka Blanket Time. If you’ve never tried it, you must. It’s awesome). This allows me to go and DO THINGS. Like lie on the couch and try really hard not to close my eyes. Or cook dinner. Or write something up to share with you here on my blog, like how to keep a toddler busy so I can go write about how I kept her busy. As a bonus, many of the activities help her get some fine motor skill practice, or are otherwise helpful for some aspect of her development. Yay!

So far, she only really seems to love the Monday and Tuesday boxes, so I find myself going back to those even on W, Th, and F. Lately, I’ve only been using them 1-2x a week, so that works out for now, but once baby boy comes, I think I’ll have to up my busy box game to buy some more downtime! For now, I’m glad I have at least two winners. I already shared the Tuesday box with you. It’s a simple upcycled oatmeal container that I punched holes into. She can sit there for nearly thirty minutes pushing pipe cleaners in and out!

Busy box pushing pipe cleaners through holes (4)

The Monday busy box I’m sharing today is actually a very similar concept, but with craft pom poms instead of pipe cleaners. I basically took an old mini Pringles container, punched holes into the clear plastic lid, widened the holes with a pencil, and filled them with little craft pom poms!

Use a pencil to widen the hole for pom poms

It’s a hit with my daughter. I especially like how small and portable this one is, and have brought it along for blanket time on-the-go. Just a few weeks ago, we were at a dinner meeting and she was able to quietly play with this toy for a long time before moving onto something else! Other kids enjoyed pushing the pom poms in, too, so it’s easy and inexpensive entertainment for little kids (not just toddlers), too!

September 17, 2015

getting ready for baby

He’s coming.

In <6 weeks.

I’m excited!

I’m also terrified, because I love sleep and I love going out and let’s be honest, I love myself. But round two of denying yourself and devoting almost all of yourself to someone else’s life and well-being… well, it’s just around the corner!

I had grand plans to get several posts up and ready ahead of time, scheduled so it’d seem like everything on my blog continued as normal, but so far I am exactly zero posts ahead of the game, and I’m even scrambling to get this week’s out. Because I already find that juggling life with a toddler is plenty of work. Seriously how does everybody do it?!

Everyone’s been asking if we’re ready. We’ve transitioned our little girl out to a new room so baby boy is just taking over her old stuff (let the hand-me downs begin!), procured enough clothing to last him his first 1.5 years of life, and even installed his carseat. I think we are good to go. I’ve been reading books to prep big sister for baby’s arrival, and even got her a little baby doll to carry around and play with! She loves kissing my swollen belly and gently patting the baby, so I think she likes him so far. We’ll see how that progresses once he’s out and here to stay!

September 14, 2015

a lamp unto appIf you have ever attempted, are attempting, or have considered attempting to read ANY PART OF THE BIBLE, EVER, YOU MUST READ THIS POST.



>>>> tldr: CHECK THIS OUT. <<<<

September 10, 2015

The Extraordinary Power of Two Simple Words

She walked up to me, hands cupped and eyes bright, “Yes, please!”

“Here ya go,” I said, pouring in a handful of Goldfish.

“Thank you!” she chirped, and scampered off to recess.

The next student approached, hands cupped in a similar fashion. I repeated my action, giving him a dose of orange salty goodness.

“Thank you!” he smiled, as he sauntered off stuffing his mouth full of crackers.

One by one, all the students who wanted crackers at recess approached with the customary outstretched hands, and each one offered up a cheerful “Thank you!” as soon as I poured the crackers in.

It never got old. Day in and day out, I heard these two simple words of appreciation from dozens of children, and it never got old. Polite children are always refreshing. And, I’ve found, they are also more grateful. They exude a more positive attitude, and they grow to be more kind to others. Common courtesy is an essential skill that needs to be taught.

September 7, 2015

how to raise a good eater

I’m scared to write this post. Because I’m have a terrible feeling that as soon as I hit publish, my daughter will suddenly decide that she hates everything and anything I try to feed her… And that I will be eating my words even as they are flying out to you in cyberspace.

I also don’t want to get into mommy wars here. God knows the last thing I want from this is to get into a debate on which method is right or whose nutrition philosophy is best. I just have a lot of friends getting into the parenting stage and want to share what has worked for us so far. No promises that it will work for you, or even that it will continue to work for us or that our next baby will accept it. Just hoping to provide some practical ideas for new parents out there!

Okay now that I got all my disclaimers out of the way, let’s get to it. This post is about trying to train your child to be a “good eater.” That is, a baby who will accept most of the foods you try to feed her, especially vegetables. This will not only make life much easier for you in the long run, but also probably make for a more healthy/balanced life for your child in the years to come.

First let me be clear: my daughter is not yet two. I hear once they hit two, things can change, big time. But right now, I can tell you this: my daughter is a great eater. I can give her cauliflower, fish, zucchini, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, celery root or cheese and she will not only eat it, but often will also say, “Mmmm, good!” and nod in approval when she’s especially pleased with it.

Is your 1.5 year old like that, too? Then HOORAY FOR US, right?? I can’t keep track of the number of times random strangers have come up to me and said, “Your daughter is such a good eater!” Sometimes, they also add, “You’re lucky,” as if it’s an inherited trait, or the luck of the draw. Maybe it is. At least part of it probably is. But I was reading a book on how French Kids Eat Everything, and couldn’t help but scoff at the things the author was saying we “Americans” do, and the more I read, the more I debated if she was exaggerating her description of American parenting, or if I was French at heart. Let kids snack anytime they want? Let the baby decide what to eat– and encourage her to play with her food and throw it around? Be a short-order cook and make one meal for the adults, and a separate meal for your picky eater(s) each night? No, thanks.

So in a lip-biting case of I-may-be-eating-my-words someday, I’m going to share some of what we did to try to train our daughter to be a flexible eater.