Messy Mom Christmas Time Finds

I’m a decorate-after-Thanksgiving kind of girl. Which means Christmas time is just two days away and I am SO EXCITED!!!

This week I have a THREE products to promote that will fit right in around the tree this holiday season. One will be perfect to wear when you are hanging out around the tree, one you want to wrap up and put under the tree, and one is actually for the tree!

Let’s start with something I am wearing right now, my fuzzy red Aromasoles.

Aromasoles are a line of super cozy, scent-infused slipper socks that have been flying off shelves for years. All are made with natural therapeutic oils with scents like lavender, rose, cinnamon, and neroli, and they come in an amazing variety of colors!

The aromasoles are my new favorite socks. They are cute, warm, comfy, and smell divine. I recommend picking up a set for yourself and your mom, grandma, teacher, sisters (anyone with feet). They are the perfect companion to watching Christmas Hallmark movies or doing your online Christmas shopping. Speaking of shopping, this three piece gift set is only $20.00. So cute!

Another recent discovery for me is the BlendJet 2.

You may have heard of this amazing portable blender. If not, let me fill you in because I’m loving my new BlendJet. Unlike other blenders, which are uniformly monochromatic in color, BlendJet 2, the original portable blender, is sold in a wide variety of colors – everything from ocean to geode to leopard print.

It’s powerful too – and BlendJet even offers a range of must-have accessories, including 20oz and 32oz jars, insulated sleeves, and carrying totes.

I love so many things about the BlendJet 2. It’s so perfect not just for smoothies but other items that I would use a food processor for. I’m really not a fan of battery operated cordless items, because the cost of replacing batteries adds up quickly, but the BlendJet 2 is rechargeable. 

 



The cord is a USB too so you can plug it just about anywhere.

I’m thrilled with my new BlendJet and I know it would make a great gift for a college student, health enthusiasts, or any family that is on the go a lot.

The last item I want to rave about is The LightKeeper Pro and LED Keeper .

This time I’m not talking about something for under your tree, but for if something goes wrong with your tree! With just the press of trigger, these tools can fix broken holiday lights – so you can make sure your decorations are always colorful. If you already decorated and noticed some faulty bulbs grab the Light Keeper Pro today, or if you are like me and are about to throw your tree up you can have it on hand and use it year after year. This gadget has been featured on NPR, USA Today, Real Simple, even Steve Harvey! Every home needs a Light Keeper Pro.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving, a successful Black Friday, and a delightful Holiday season all the way around!

 

By | November 22nd, 2022|Crafts, Family, Home, Projects, Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Grocery Bill 2021 VS Now

You guys, this inflation is killing me! I am a super frugal shopper. I always price compare by the unit down to the penny. It’s almost concerning how hard I work to save money on food. It’s hard to do budget friendly meals for a family of six that includes boys and teenagers. Oh my goodness!

I used to brag about getting all of my groceries for just a hundred dollars a week. Ha! Granted that was a completely different era and our family was basically just J and I (breastfed baby and picky little eater). Let’s zoom in  on the past year though. I have documentation of what I spent before this “super spike”. Like I said, I am a crazy person. Since 2019 I have used a budgeting app where all of our expenses are categorized and in November of 2020 our grocery budget was $750. Our grocery budget increased to $50 a month more over the next year. So in 2021 our monthly grocery budget was $800. Now in November of 2022 our grocery budget is $1,000 and many months we still go over budget no matter how hard I try. These are real life numbers, a nearly $300 a month increase in groceries!

Back in May when I was freaking out about the price of cheese I thought to look back at my Walmart online purchase history to price compare. I was shocked to find the difference.

I had been paying $5.34 for a 31 oz bag of shredded mild cheddar cheese and now the price was $7.48.

 

I knew inflation was real and I had noticed, but to see solid numbers from my own purchase history really blew my mind. For a bean counter like me that’s a whole lotta beans!!!

Here is a list of the ten items I made note of

5 lb chicken breast in 2021 was $10.76  NOW $16.56

Large has avocados 3-4 count bag  was $3.78 NOW $7.98 

Great Value traditional pasta sauce 24 oz was .88 NOW $1.40


peanut butter 40 ounces was $2.74 NOW $3.47

Great value thick bacon 24 ounce was $5.18 NOW $6.84 

Great value whole milk gallon was $2.59 NOW $3.38


 

Land o Frost Deli Meat was $3.36 NOW  $4.92

18 large eggs was $2.33 NOW  $4.03

11 oz pack of fun size candy bars was $2.98 NOW $4.18

12 pack of soda (for a party) was $4.88 NOW $6.78

 

I meant to do a blog post about my findings and never did. So, those prices that say “NOW” are what they were when I typed it out in May of 2022. Out of curiosity I figured I would see if there were any more increases in the past 6 months and there were.

Past sauce is 8 cents more.

Peanut butter when up 17 cents.

Turkey went up another 75 cents.

Eggs went up 13 cents.

Heavy whipping cream increased by another 90 cents.

So while this particular list of groceries went up by $2.03, milk dropped 54 cents so it’s a little closer to the price it was in 2021 (but still 25 cents more). I know this isn’t official research, but my momservation (observation  as a mom) would report that things appear to have leveled off in the past 6 months instead of the steep price increase we saw a year ago.

We all know that the Pandemic and supply chain issues are at least a big part of why this has happened. I really wish that if we were going to be spending hundreds of more a month it would be on travel, or towards braces or a better computer, but alas that is not the case. I may rant and kick and scream, but that it isn’t changing anything.

I know the Bible says a million different verses about trusting in the Lord, and gratitude and contentment. It isn’t literally a million, but it’s a lot. It’s enough for me to know the truth. I am blessed. Even in this challenging season of inflation we’ve had more than we needed. This month we were able to give to “One Day to Feed the World”, for people who genuinely do have to worry about if their kids will eat or starve to death!

We were also able to give sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving baskets for those in need in our community. Even tonight I am so blessed to be able to bring some lasagna to a friend whose young daughter had surgery. I am not saying these things to brag. I’m actually just realizing it in the moment that I am typing it (this is super spontaneous!). So I know that I don’t have to worry. My God will supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus as Philippians 4:19 says. And not just my needs, but exceedingly abundantly more than I need so that there is enough to share even when it feels like there is not! I can do grocery math all day long comparing the prices of before to the price of things now, but that’s not God’s math. His math is the 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish equals 5000 people fed! My grocery store math is “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” That’s the verse from Elijah and the widow in 1 Kings 17:12, I’m not quite that desperate, but it’s my attitude. God’s math is ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land… So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.” Whoa! That gets me fired up!

I know times are tough. I have plenty of proof via my screen shots, but with Thanksgiving a week away I’ll end with a fitting verse. Philippians 4:6-7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplications with THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Amen!

By | November 15th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Christians Who Participate in Halloween


Touchy subject alert!

The other day I was driving my kids home from a Halloween activity at their school and I glanced in my rearview mirror to see a chef, a giant “tube man”, and a box of donuts.

I love being a mom! is the exact thought that popped in my head as a smile stretched across my face. My kids have always enjoyed dressing up and make-believe. There aren’t many opportunities to wear costumes out in public, but every year on October 31st the kids have a chance to choose a fun or silly character to transform into. When I am grocery shopping I often catch a glimpse of one the kids names in faded sharpie somewhere on my reusable shopping bags from when someone claimed that bag to collect candy in.

And yet the other day when one of Ezie’s teachers asked if there was anyone who doesn’t celebrate Halloween Ezie raised his hand. For the record I think the teacher was about to play a halloween themed game and didn’t want to step on any toes… maybe. Also, for the record Ezie was the only kid in class who doesn’t celebrate Halloween. So how can we not celebrate Halloween, but choose to participate in Halloween activities!? Aren’t we sending conflicting messages to our children? Isn’t that a little wishy washy? It’s like we want to have our cake, or candy in this case, and eat it too.

Before I dive into my justification, or explanation, or whatever you want to call it, let me start by saying this is our personal choice as a family. I’m not a theologian and I am definitely not trying to sway anyone any direction. I have friends in the faith who have kids and do absolutely no Halloween activities at all due to their convictions. I admire that. I also have Christian friends that claim Halloween as their favorite Holiday and go all out with the gore and fear. I’m not going to lie, that confuses me, but I still love them. Our family’s stance confuses some people too. So I understand. I’m an enneagram nine. I don’t get shaken up by ghost or goblins, but I am terrified of offending anyone.

Anyway, here is how it works in our family and we’ve been parents for 15 years now. We have taught our kids the foundations of the Bible from day one. When it comes to the darkness that takes over on Halloween it is something that I personally don’t enjoy. I look forward to when October is over. J and I got married on November 4th because I love fall but hate Halloween and didn’t want to be married in October. November 4th was the first Saturday that was available. Now it’s our anniversary. True story.

The first Halloween that rolled around when we were new parents wasn’t much of a decision because he was too little to go trick or treating. However we were invited to a costume party by some of our church friends and dressed him up right off the bat.

The next year we hosted a costume party for our young adults ministry group and dressed up again.

The following year he was old enough to walk around our neighborhood and all of our neighbors just loved seeing him as an adorable little dinosaur.

Then we had two kids and the costumes continued.

We always made sure they knew our goal is to glorify God in all we do be it costumes, music, movies etc. We are a light in the darkness.

As more and more Halloweens passed and our family grew we had more opportunities to talk about what the Bible teaches us about witchcraft, evil spirits, darkness, and fear. We believe that Jesus overcame hell and the grave. He came that we could have LIFE and have it abundantly. So when we pass by our neighbor’s house that goes all out every October with really over the top creepy things, including a skeleton holding a skeleton baby in a bloody blanket, I pray as I drive by.

The kids know that they want to be something joyful when they dress up. They believe and can articulate why death, fear, pain, and darkness is in direct opposition to the life,  hope, healing, and light that we stand for as believers. We are not perfect parents or people. We are hypocrites in too many ways. However, I am grateful to know that when it comes to this “spooky” season, which was always something I dreaded, we have been able to use it as an opportunity to teach truth to our kids. We love getting together with our friends, we love costumes, and we love fall so much. We are like the Jewish family who celebrates Hanukkah but they allow their kids to see Santa or go to Christmas parties.

So if you’ve ever wondered why some Christians don’t celebrate Halloween, or if you’ve ever wondered how a Christian could, now you have a little inside scoop, for one family at least.

1 Corinthians 15:58
“Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

By | October 30th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Rappelling and Caving and Terrified of Heights


So I did a thing last Saturday. I still have some scrapes and bruises to prove it.

Before I share the story though, let me give a little background info.

When I was growing up I was a scaredy-cat. I was especially scared of heights. I’m not talking about standing on the edge of a cliff, that would make anyone scared. I’m talking, when we went to the mall I did not want to get on the escalator and then when we got to the second floor I would walk as far away from the balcony railing as possible.  My brothers on the other hand were the opposite of me. They were into all the outdoorsy adventurous activities you can think of- hiking, skiing, and their favorite was rock climbing. On occasion I would venture out with them.

One time I went rock climbing and prettying much got stuck at the top. I learned the hard way that rappelling requires you to trust completely on the ropes and put your entire body weight into the harness in order for it to work. I objected the physical facts of this and demanded that I was allowed to climb down the cliff. It was explained me that it doesn’t work that way and that I would have to rappel down. What felt like 18 hours later I barely managed to get off of the mountain. To this day I have never been able to live it down. So when my brother Brandon recently proposed the idea of rappelling 100 feet into a cave for fun he invited my 12-year-old daughter but not me. Everyone assumed I would not be interested. Surprisingly I wanted to go for it! I actually regret not doing a lot of things that I had the opportunity to do while I was younger and now that I’ve outgrown and/or overcome some of those fears I was ready to give repelling another try.


I posted some videos of my big feat on social media and everyone commented on how brave I was.

However there’s a big chunk of the trip that was not shared. This is the part where we unhooked our harnesses and started to journey out of the cave. At first I confidently followed our fearless leader (my brother) through the narrow tunnels and curves which included army crawling for long stretches through the mud and tight quarters. It was cold and damp. There with creepy crawly prehistoric looking insects clinging to the walls around us. Spaces were so small that we couldn’t even wear our backpacks. We either had to drag them behind us or push them in front of us.  We finally got to an opening that allowed for more room when someone in our group up ahead declared that we went the wrong way and would have to turn back. We weren’t tired yet so it really wasn’t a problem but the anxiety at that point started to mount. I have watched a documentary that included some cave tragedies and that’s one film too many to have rattling around in your memory when doing an experience like this. Once we got back to square one (which was the big open cavern) I found my brother and I demanded reassurance that he was certain that he knew how to get out of the cave! He told us there were only two exits on the map and the last one didn’t work so it had to be the next one. As you can imagine my fear level dropped only a small fraction when I heard this.

In that moment I really wanted a supernatural ability to teleport out of the cave. But since I assumed this was not an option the only choice was to keep going. So we charged ahead, did more army crawling, and at one point we reached a big incline that was really too slippery to get up so the person behind you had to make a foothold with their hands and then you climb up. In my case my daughter SJ was ahead of me so she reached out her hand to grab mine. It was really difficult, but my kids encouraged me and SJ said “Mom you’ve got this. I’m going to pull you up.” I may be small for an adult but she is small for a kid so I didn’t expect her efforts to do much but it did! That little warrior pulled her mother up over the mud slide, I kid you not!

Next I heard our friend up ahead say “Wow that’s real sketchy”. Then I hear them say “don’t look down”. My eyes bulged out of my head and I didn’t even want to know what was coming. They came back and reported that we would have to get everyone across this ravine. My heart started pounding. I knew I couldn’t look down, ledges are scary for me anyway and this one had a slippery element. I started breathing heavily and could feel a panic attack coming on. All the fear I had when I was younger creeped back in and I started trembling. I didn’t know how I was going to get across the chasm. J was on the other side encouraging me and reaching out his hand. In my mind it was like a scene from Indian Jones.

In reality J later told me that it was a treacherous drop, but the way the cave was formed he said you would probably have to turn into a wet noodle to fall through the crack. Whatever. I still didn’t like the risk.

I sat on the ground overwhelmed with fear and my sister in law reminded me to breath. I have had panic attacks before and I knew the techniques I needed to do to calm down I just needed to be reminded of them. I got up in that moment and jumped over to where J was.

After that there were a few more moments of fear and danger before finally getting to a place that we knew we had nearly arrived because we ran into the part of our group that did not rappel. That was a relief. I announced that I was leaving our group to go with them, but everyone convinced me to finish the course and see the water fall with them. So I did. Eventually we made our way out of the cave, into the light and I was ready to kiss the ground. We did it!

Even with my challenges I am so glad I faced my fears and experienced the cave with my family. I also really loved watching Z and SJ navigate the whole thing so effortlessly. I was so proud of them.

 

Afterwards we got ice cream and SJ announced that when she turns 18 she wants to sky dive. I just shook my head at her declaration. Her aunt Laura told her she would do it too. By the way my brother and sister in law have a YouTube channel called Chris & Laura IRL so you can hop over there to subscribe and see a video of the whole caving adventure!

By | August 30th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Middle of Parenthood!

I now have four big kids.


They all know how to tie their own shoes, buckle and unbuckle their seatbelts, swim, write their full name, and now they are officially all in school! I can hardly wrap my head around it because we were in the baby/preschool stage for so long! Suddenly I am  MIDDLE of motherhood, or in the thick of it as some might say.

I know not everyone falls into a cookie cutter family having 2.5 kids at age 27 after graduating college and getting married. For a lot of moms though, the tween or middle school years do often fall right around midlife. It makes things interesting because in some ways a midlife mom is experiencing some of the same growing pains as a middle schooler! My favorite description about being in your forties is that you are an old young person and a young old person. Apply that to tweens. They are no longer adorable children with chubby cheeks that request pasghetti and meatballs, but they aren’t cool teenagers that are nearly independent either. It’s an awkward stage. 

I don’t consider this whole middle section of my life as an awkward stage, but it is certainly uncharted territory and I am navigating what this next chapter holds for me.

The youngest is in all day school for the first time. She just lost her two front teeth and learned how to ride a bike.

With each of my other kids they were the baby until the next baby came and suddenly they were a big kid. Elle never had that right of passage so the challenge is to help foster her growth instead of treating her like the perpetual baby.

Little brother is in fourth grade now and has a locker for the first time, which he is super proud of. He is about to enter into the double digits on his next birthday.

 

 

 

Big sister is in 6th grade. She has a phone, she’s in the youth group, and she is going to be 13 this school year. WHAT!?

 

Then there is the impossible fact that I have a high schooler.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He has a friend who can drive now so that has brought on all kinds of independence. We see him gradually drifting away from us, but in a healthy normal way. He still loves his family and we will continue to take trips and have meals with the six of us, but naturally he is starting to hang out with his friend more and more. There are some evenings where there are only 5 of us at home and he is off doing his own thing. I can’t believe he’s about to be 15 and get a driver’s permit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a lot of feelings about all of this growing up business. Actually, I have a metaphor for my motherhood experience so far. Close your eyes and imagine you are the passenger on a road trip. Now imagine you are constantly looking back at a bunch of young children. There are babies screaming, sippy cups and goldfish crackers flying. You are passing back bottles and wet wipes. The demands and volume increases. You start singing the “wheels on the bus go round and round” and find yourself laughing and crying all at once wondering how much longer until you get to your destination. Then you finally have a chance to turn around and face forward. You rub your neck because of the strain from facing backward for so long. You start to look out the window at all the beautiful scenery, but you are distracted by how fast the vehicle seems to be moving. The closer you get to your destination the faster if feels like you are going and there is nothing you can do to slow down. So you just buckle up and start singing “Free Falling.” That is what I feel like.

The years of having little kids were so amazing, but also exhausting. Then the older they get the more I feel like time seems to speed up! Even with as crazy as I make this metaphorical road trip sound it has been the greatest blessing of my life. As I look ahead to the next season of guiding my children into adulthood I am optimistic. If it’s even close to as good as the first half then I know I am in for treat.






By | August 19th, 2022|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Green Onions Hack

I add green onions, chives, or spring onions as a garnish to almost every savory dish I make. J loves it and it’s mild enough that the kids don’t mind it at all and it’s extra added nutritious boost.

The thing is, a small batch of green onions is almost $2 and they wilt and turn brown within days! I saw a hack where you added the roots to a glass of water and that really helped lengthen the shelf life on my garnish, so I did that for a while.

Then one day I was checking out my compost pile and low and behold the onion roots I discarded were flourishing, BIG TIME! It was an ah ha moment for me.

The next time I bought green onions I stuck the whole plant in a small pot of soil on my kitchen windowsill and they were greener and fresher than ever before.

After that I experimented with putting them outside in a giant planter that I had. I made minimal effort to plant these things. I just made a little hole in some preexisting soil and stuck the store bought onions in the dirt and covered it. At first they looked droopy and lifeless but within days those puppies perked up and were flourishing.

Everyday I go out and harvest some green onion to add to some of the dishes I make. I never buy them anymore! Well, the first one I did a couple of years ago eventually got huge and green part was a little tough. That just wasn’t as apetizing so I simply bought another cheap bunch of green onions and started the processes over again.

I also have one on my window sill still.

I have had people ask me if they grow after you harvest each stem. They don’t, but they continue to grow new sprouts and then the outer ones whiter away. Here is what the green onions looked like after I had been doing this process for a year. This was from March 2021 with the new buds coming in after a winter frost. They stayed out the whole winter.

So that’s my green onion hack. It couldn’t be any simpler even for someone with a brown thumb. It saves us money and spruces up the meals I make. Hopefully this little tip will be helpful to someone else.

Here is a video tutorial I made to sum up the whole easy process.

https://youtube.com/shorts/Jc0D4eKf1cw?feature=share


By | August 12th, 2022|Frugal Living, Natural Living, Simple Living, Uncategorized|0 Comments

Coffee at the Main-Dempster Mile


I spent my fortieth birthday in Chicago with my family and my bestie Mels (who rode the train in from Northern Michigan).

We did a whole family day, but one of the days it was just Mels and I. My goal was to do 4 coffee shops in one day for my fortieth birthday. I called it my #fourforforty and I had a fantastic time.

Evanston is a suburb of Chicago. Downtown Chicago is just 12 miles south of it. Evanston has a slower paced college town feel and I enjoyed resting and hanging out there instead of spending all of our time in the big city. I found out about the Main-Dempster Mile from Instagram. It the place to go for local small business shopping. The only reason I even ended up in this area is because we found the perfect AirBNB for seven people right there in Evanston. If you are looking for a place to stay near Chicago, I highly recommend “Huge 3 Bedrooms 2 Full Baths Entire Apartment” hosted by Superhost ALay.


The kids had their own room with large screen tv and two beds.

Mels had her own room and J and I had our own room and bathroom. We played games in the living room, had some meals in the kitchen and were even able to catch up on laundry. I give our stay there two thumbs up for sure.

Anyway, Mels and I headed off on foot from the Airbnb to explore the Main-Dempster Mile and to check out just a few of the MANY coffee shops in the area.

The first place we went was Cupitol Coffee/Eatery. I got a Nutella Latte, which was amazing. We had to have a couple pastries too because if you saw the selection you would see how irresistible it all is!

The second stop was Newport Coffee house. This place was for true coffee enthusiasts like Mels. She has run multiple coffee shops and has years of experience as a barista (as does the rest of her family). It was a very milimist environment, and I felt like grown up there (it’s about time, right?).

You might be thinking How on earth can you get coffee 4 times in one day and not go into a caffeine coma? We actually did not get coffee at every place. Evanston Pour was more of a lunch stop for us. I got the Open-Faced Zucchini & Goats Cheese. Mels had salad and we split both got to try a sample. It was simple, fresh, and very tasty. I also LOVED the aesthetics in that place. Gave me some decor inspiration.

Lastly we hopped on the L and landed at our final destination, Backlot coffee where we both had an iced latte and hung out and chatted for longer. I love going to coffee shops. It was such a special, memorable way to ring in this next chapter for me. The only thing I love just as much is ice cream and we did some of that too.

We got Jeni’s Splendid ice cream with the kids and J that night. They were having a special where everyone got a free scoop of icecream. HAPPY BIRTHDAY INDEED! Between the six of us we tried so many different flavors I was going to try to name them all but I can’t remember. I do remember that they were all SOOO GOOD though.

 

Another bit of sweetness was when we stopped at JoJo’s shake bar in Chicago the next day. As fate would have it they had a 90s music festival theme. I was singing along to all the music and love, love, loved all the patio decor. That was my favorite Chicago restaurant. I will never forget it, and the strawberry salad was honestly better than the shake in my opinion.

That’s my whirl wind #fourforforty Chicago birthday trip. Thanks to my husband and best friend for making it all happen!

By | July 27th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Summer Update

My goodness. It’s been almost a month since my last blog post. That is completely unacceptable! I love blogging and I have so much to write about, but I have been short on time lately. So instead of doing one singular topic I am just going to spit out some recent happenings.

Okay, so first off Z went to camp. The power was out for almost two days and he broke his glasses, but even in spite of all that he had an amazing time! He had to leave camp just a tiny bit early though when we picked him up on our way to Iowa to meet up with J’s family. We honor J’s dad this father’s day by having a private memorial and scattering his ashes. It was deeply emotional but in a good healing way.

Beyond that we got to spend some much needed time together as a family.

On the way back home we stayed two nights in Chicago and my best friend Mels met us there.

 

I have to do another blog post on that one. I promised our air bnb host I would.

Just kidding. Well, J did hint that I was a blogger and in our hosts formal review of us he said that he was looking forward to the article. That’s not the only reason for that post though. I have lots of memories to share.

My actual birthday landed on the first day of our church’s VBS. I brought a cake that I happily decorated with all kinds of fun stuff (that’s another blog post too).


I also went to our friend’s farm. I have mentioned this farm and friend before. It’s very significant to us. There I was gifted with a new hen.

Her name is Lizzy and she gifted me with a pale blue egg on my birthday!

Anyway so VBS was awesome.

All of my kids loved it. This is SJ’s final year since she will be fully graduated from children’s church when school starts. In fact she has already started youth group. I know, I can’t believe it either.

July third I photographed a family reunion on the Cincinnati river. I have never been to a big family reunion like that. It was Mardi Gras theme and it was next level.

I loved being a part of it even though I was working. The next day was the fourth of July.

 

We always go to a big party thrown by my parents’ church (the one I grew up at). This is what I would call my family reunion. Not only do we see my parents and siblings, but old church friends and even friends from the Spanish church and French church. There is a big cook out, bounce houses, worship, and a really incredible fireworks show. What a way to celebrate!

That first week of July my kids also went to camp. It was four nights long! They had the best time though.

While the younger kids were away I ended up having some fun too. J and I were gifting tickets to see a string quartet play in an old cathedral by candle light. It was really cool.

Then lastly I photographed a proposal. J and I had to be incognito at a fancy restaurant where my client was bringing his soon to be fiance (she doesn’t know us so it wasn’t hard to blend in).

I can’t tell you how much fun this was. I knew it was one of the biggest nights of their lives and to see the joy and get to capture it was the best feeling.

There was a big surprise party afterwards too so the smiles kept being multiplied.

That’s certainly not all that this summer has entailed so far, but those are some highlights. It’s hard to believe there is only one month left. At the rate we are going I am sure we’ll make the most of it!

By | July 14th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Two Years of Chickens. Our Timeline

We first started talking about chickens during the 2020 shutdown. I recognize that this was a trend not unique to our suburban family. However, over two years later we are still going strong!

May 2020

The chicken journey began when we ordered 10 chicks from Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Cincinnati.We picked our breeds out from a catalogue. We took detailed notes comparing the volume, friendliness, hardiness, and egg color of each bird. If I were to go back in time I would worry less about friendliness and volume and get more colored egg layers. People are looking for different things in backyard chickens, but I am starting to get really into eggs of various colors now. I still adore the hens we ended up with though.

They came in what I would describe as a little box for donut holes. There were ten little chicks and they were so cute and fluffy. I have never seen such precious little critters. I had to do a photo shoot. So adorable!!!

 

June 2020

The chicks were growing so rapidly but the coop was taking a really long time to build. We tried to let them get as much outside time as possible during this season, but they slept in the brooder in our laundry room.

September 2020

The chicks were all supposed to be hens, but we were ahead of time that the sex is usually only 90% accurate. In our case there was one rooster that started crowing at 15 weeks. Wild Style was an Olive Egger and I really wanted those green eggs, but he wasn’t going to lay any and we aren’t allowed to have roosters in our neighborhood. We ended up rehoming Wild Style to someone on a Facebook chicken group that I am a part of and we ended up making a very special friend in the process!


October 2020

My dream chicken coop was officially done and we got our first egg. It was a big project that required all hands on deck, but it turned out so nice.

November 2020

Before we went out of town my incredible, talented, genius husband built some game changing features to the chicken coop. He installed a rain barrel that is temperature controlled so the water will run if it gets cold enough to become frozen.

He also built a chicken feeder that holds 100 pounds of pellets so we only have to fill it once a month. I never did a blog post about this, but I need to! I have had requests so hopefully that will be coming soon. 


December 2020

We hadn’t even been chicken owners for a year yet, and somehow we were already hooked.

We got lots of chicken gifts for Christmas that year including this painting that I absolutely love!

August 2021

When hatching season rolled around in the summer of 2021 I had the chick itch. Our dear friend Dennis who adopted our rooster actually brought his incubator down to our house and helped us hatch 12 chicks and 5 ducks!

It was such a cool learning experience. I don’t think any of us will ever forget it and I would actually love to do it again sometime. We didn’t keep the chicks or ducklings, but the process of seeing them hatch and raising them those first two weeks was incredible.

Not all of chicken life is glamour and causes warm fuzzies, but we have loved having what we refer to as the “fine nine”. Although spoiler alert, we may go back to having 10 hens again. There are potential surprises on the way!!!


By | June 16th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Black Spot Poison Ivy. WHAT!?

Just when I think I’ve seen it all my youngest daughter, Elle, comes in from playing in the back yard and looks like some one dabbed her with a black permenant marker.

I asked her what was on her face and she was oblivious to it. I tried really hard to wipe the spots off. I looked at pictures of her to see if I was going crazy and these moles were there all along.

Then I found another black spot only this one looked like what I would describe as a “smear”.

Other than a little itchiness she didn’t seem bothered by any of it, but I was! So I took it to Google and after much investigating I finally found something that described EXACTLY what my daughter was dealing with. The name of the condition was “Black Spot Poison Ivy”. Pub-med.gov describes Black-spot poison ivy dermatitis as “a rare manifestation of a common condition.” If what I was reading was true Elle must have come in contact with a plant that had high concentration of urushiol (which is the oil in the plants that causes poison ivy rashes). I was self diagnosing here, but it seemed to align with what we were dealing with. These are photos from the web.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So day one through six nothing changed. Then on day seven the black spots either fell off like a scab or changed to more of a pink spot that looked like a bug bite or something.

I thought that was a good sign and that we were pretty much out of  the woods. Except on what would be day 10 she woke up with one of the worst poison ivy rashes I’ve ever seen and I have seen some awful ones!

This concerned me enough to call the doctor. I didn’t like that it spread so suddenly or that it was getting worse instead of better after a week and her face was a little swollen. For us poison ivy tends to run its course in about seven days. This was another beast

When I took her in I showed all of my photos to the nurses and doctor. They were baffled and called her the mystery girl. I told them what I had found online about Black Spot Poison Ivy. They left us alone in the exam room for a minute and when they returned I was told I was right and that it appeared to be an accurate diagnosis. They had never heard of or seen another case of this but it seemed spot on (sorry that wasn’t meant to be a pun). The treatment was a low and slow dose of steroid medication for the poison ivy and some topical ointment to treat the black spots, which the doctor referred to as lesions.

It’s been five days since Elle started her medication and she’s doing great. The rash lightened up extremely quickly. The lesions are still lingering which is a little concerning, but I think they are starting to fade. I’ll try to do an update once they are completely healed.

From her sister’s account Elle had pulled on a vine in the back yard. Maybe that’s what made this such a crazy severe attack. Who knows. It’s such a rare phenemenon anyway maybe it will never happen again. I did want to share our story though because some day there may be another persons desperately searching the internet after finding what looks like a new beauty mark on their skin after being out in the woods. I’m not a medical professional, but you might be looking at black spot poison ivy. If so, the treatment is probably going to be the same as regular poison ivy. Your doctor can tell you if this web search led you in the right direction.

By | June 7th, 2022|Uncategorized|0 Comments