Update on Elle’s Hearing Aids

This time last year I was already starting to make new years resolutions (or reservations as Z calls it). Except all of my big plans for 2016 came to a screeching halt when on December 18th Elle was diagnosed with hearing loss. I was devastated. Even though her hearing loss was shown as mild at the time we knew from experience that she was more than likely going to be deaf like her sister. No one knew for sure, but the entire team agreed it made the most logical sense.


The word that the Lord gave me for that season was NEXT, as in “Just Do The Next Right Thing”. I had so many ideas and aspirations that had to take a backseat at that time. All of my focus was on Elle and getting her the treatment she needed. The Doctors, schools, and early interventionist were calling and I was preparing for the long haul. Except as you know if you’ve followed our story, Elle does NOT have the same form of hearing loss as SJ. This news was like an enormous boulder being lifted off of me. It’s life changing for our whole family because since Elle is not deaf we don’t need to figure out a way to pay for her treatment/schooling or live near the deaf school for an unknown amount of time. We would have been fine and if that were God’s plan I would trust Him as I always do, but I am so so so grateful that we don’t have to walk through that again.

Still, I do not want to overlook the fact that Elle does have some hearing loss and it needs to be taken seriously. Her audiologist recommended holding off on hearing aids until she was upright. She can hear MOST things, so it wasn’t urgent that she be aided. In her case it probably would have been more harm than good to try to keep hearing aids on in the early months of development. Here we are a year later and Elle is definitely upright and learning to talk. So it’s time to move forward with the hearing amplification.


She has been tested several times to get an accurate reading for her audiogram so that the hearing aids can be set appropriately. Yesterday after the test I sat down with the audiologist to go over the final results and talk about treatment.

Elle can hear almost everything that a normal hearing person can. If a phone rings, or someone calls her name or plays peek-a-boo she can hear all of it. The part she is lacking is the highest frequencies, or as I was told “the crispness” of sound. That means she doesn’t hear the f, s, and th speech sounds. That is why hearing aids weren’t really important until the stage where she is learning to speak. The ball is rolling now with getting the hearing aids and we will have another appointment to get her fitted at the beginning of the year when school starts back up.


She will also continue to have speech therapy once a month per my request. She technically doesn’t fall into the qualifying parameters because she is age appropriate. She responds to simple commands and she can say uh-oh, mama, and sometimes bye bye. But because of her medical diagnosis she is automatically eligible and I said YES, let’s continue. After what I have been through with SJ, and even Ezie is in speech therapy now I feel like it won’t hurt to have more eyes on her making sure she’s on the right track.

So that’s the latest. I appreciate all of the prayers and support. I’ll post pics and updates again in 2017 when she gets her new aids. Here is a pic of her napping in the car. It doesn’t get any cuter.


By | December 8th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Christmas Ornaments

J made a Spotify playlist with over 24 hours worth of Christmas music. That’ll do I thought when I saw the compilation on my iMac. Jingle Bells was blaring through the speakers as we assembled our old plastic Christmas tree. It’s hard to believe we’ve had this fake tree longer than our kids.

I unpack boxes of decorations as each child starts spreading the wired branches that have been bunched up in storage since last Christmas. We call this practice “fluffing the tree”.


This demonstration of spreading the branches would later serve as an illustration for the Jesse tree advent.

In a less spiritually symbolic moment Z starts stringing Mardi gras beads like garland. This has been a tradition for several years now. I think I was at a yard sale that was giving away the colorful beads. Maybe. I know it sounds horrible to say “I don’t remember how I ended up with all of these Mardi gras beads”, but that’s the truth and I thought they would look nice cut up and strung on the tree.

Then I spot Ezie putting a 5th candy cane on the same droopy branch. I ask him if he has enough and he says nope. I recorded the whole moment on my phone wanting to cherish the imperfections.

SJ pulls out one of my favorite penguin ornaments and I hijack the delicate bulb before there is an accident. Especially with her fractured wrist she isn’t too graceful and I don’t trust her with glass.

Ah, and then there is Elle. It’s her first time to really experience Christmas. Last year she was a newborn and slept through everything.


This year she is running around like a little elf getting into everything. No really, she does remind me so much of an elf the way she wrinkles her nose and has this chuckle that sounds like a chipmunk. She’s too cute.

I want to remember all of this, but as I go to hang a silver cross ornament on the tree I realize I don’t remember where half of these decorations came from. I used to think I would make a notebook documenting the origin of each ornament. Some were wedding gifts, others souvenirs, others handmade and so on.

There is no shortage of variety, that’s for sure. I am like my mom in that we both like the look of an eclectic tree. The problem is I never made that notebook and there are so many stories that I’ve forgotten. In my quest to cherish every little thing I start to get discouraged.

Then there is that subtle prompting from my heavenly father telling me to step back. So I do. Then I look at the tree. It’s not fancy, but I love it. With the cluster of candy canes, the penguin ornaments, the lights, and the scandoulous beads. All of these components make it a Christmas tree.


Sometimes I am guilty of overthinking. Too often I get focused on the details and miss the big picture. I really felt like the Christmas tree was God’s way of reminding me to step back and take it in from a  different perspective. To zoom out if you will. I’m a photographer so that’s how I view it. You can zoom in and focus on one thing and sometimes that’s the right thing to do, but there are other times if you your lens is too long you can’t get the whole shot.

It was a special moment that brought me back to the simple joy of Christmas. I don’t remember every little story behind every little ornament, but that’s okay because there is a bigger story here. The story keeps on going and the ornaments keep on coming, and we’ll probably need a bigger tree down the road to hold all of it and that thought makes me happy.

This Christmas I am going to step back more and just take in the whole scene in all of it’s glorious, twinkling, mismatched imperfections.

By | December 4th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Holidays Thus Far

I have big plans for my blog in 2017. Until then all bets are off. Here is a quick summary of what I’ve been up to.

1. SJ fractured her wrist. img_4316

She fell off the top bunk (it’s Z’s bed and she knows she is not allowed up there). She was told it needed a cast, but then the follow up appointment determined she just needed a splint. She was pretty disappointed about not getting a cast. If only she knew.

2. I still have an owie on my bottom. Before SJ decided to steal the show I was the one getting sympathy for my big fall down the stairs. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I still can’t do a lot without being in pain. I am almost out of pain meds too so I’ve been gradually weening myself off of them. I’ll be fine. Hopefully this time next week I’ll hardly notice the discomfort.

3. We had a nontraditional Thanksgiving.


This year my mom had to work and some family members were out of town, so we kept it simple by partaking in a Thanksgiving buffet at a farm in Indiana. It  wasn’t ideal because our reservations were for the latest time slot, so they weren’t refreshing the food (or drinks) like they should have. My mom kindly reported our negative experience to management and that was that. No big deal. At least we got together.

3. I won a 21 pound Butterball Turkey. I keep on raving about Walmart online grocery pickup and now I have even more reason to love them. I was picked at random to be the recipient of one of their premium Turkeys in a nice reusable bag with a  sweet little card. I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of it! What is the world coming to?

4. I roasted my first turkey! If you are instagram you may have seen my elobarote story where I shared step by step pics and videos of my experience.

img_4248 img_4254

Turkeys are weird and kind of gross for a non-foodie like me, but my parents came over and I fed all 8 of us a simple Thanksgiving meal. They all said it turned out great and I felt so accomplished. It was a wonderful meal. I honestly had no desire to bake a turkey this year, but I am glad it all came together in the way it did because it was pressure free.

5. We got a microwave! I have been without a microwave for 4 years now and I finally decided it was time. J was reluctant, but he found a good deal at Walmart on Black Friday and we pulled the trigger. We both agree it was a good purchase and it has been phenomenal.

6. We decorated!

img_4143I love decorating for Christmas and even though it makes our small space feel even tighter it is all definitely worth it.

7. I watched my first episode of Gilmore Girls. All of my friends have been loosing their ever loving minds over the revival episodes on Netflix. I have never been able to keep up with the show’s notoriously fast banter. Despite several efforts I don’t think I ever finished an entire episode. Still, I couldn’t handle being left out of all the cryptic chatter on social media about the shocking ending. So I read a sort of cliff notes version of what the show is about and decided to jump in. I’m about 10 minutes into Summer now.

8. I started Christmas shopping. I love shopping. Yay Christmas!

9. I got our Christmas cards. That’s another thing that I love. I ordered them late at night on Black Friday and I woke up realizing I didn’t put our names on the card at all! I panicked and dialed and redialed until eventually someone picked up the phone. I was able to cancel the order and redo them. I am super happy with how they turned out.

10. We dropped off our Operation Christmas Child Shoe Box. Zion put it together for a boy his age and on a side note the family photo included was the one we used for our Christmas card.



That’s it for now, but just think, it’s not even December yet!

By | November 29th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

One Extreme to the Other!

I hate neglecting my little ol’ blog lately and unfortunately I don’t see it changing anytime soon. The Holidays are upon us and it is only going to get busier from here!

The past two weeks have been packed, but for very different reasons. Last weekend (a little over a week ago) was amazing. On Saturday J and I spent the day together while a friend of mine watched the kids.


We went out to lunch at Ohio’s oldest Inn and restaurant called The Golden Lamb.


We had some dessert that I will forever be grateful that J talked me into. Afterwards we walked around the historic floor of the Inn where many presidents have stayed.


Then we walked to a neat little coffee shop downtown.img_3768

The balcony overlooked a really peaceful creek.


At the end of our outing we strolled along the sidewalks hand in hand talking without being interrupted and taking in the last of the fall scenery. It was so nice to have that alone time. Hopefully we won’t let as much time pass before we do it again.


The next day was Elle’s birthday party. As you know I have been gearing up for this monumental occasion for months! A couple years ago I wrote a post called “I dream of pig parties” The truth is I dream about all kinds of parties, that year just happened to be the Three Little Pigs. Our latest party however was bumble bee theme and I had a dream that I painted lemon wedges with black stripes to look like a bumble bee. I couldn’t believe I came up with that idea in my sleep! I went for it and we had bumble bee lemon wedges at the party!


I also made my 5th piñata.Pinterest is fun, but coming up with your own original ideas and bringing them to life is absolutely thrilling (for a craft geek like me).


Everything came together beautifully and the party was great.


I will post more about that later, but I really could not have been happier with the event. Bonus, I sold the left over party supplies for $20. I bought all the stuff on Amazon and had a ton leftover so I thought why not?


Fast forward to this weekend. We had big plans. J and Z were going to go camping on an air force base with the cub scouts. I was going to take the other kids to Chick Fil A for a stuffed animal sleepover (you leave the stuffed animals overnight and get them back in the morning. They have notes and pictures of all the fun that was had). I’ve been on a roll lately with really staying on top of my calendar and the house work. I love checking things off my list.

So Friday afternoon I am just cranking out all these chores and I head down to the basement with a  basket full of dirty clothes. I was about half way down the old wooden stairs when my heel came out from under me and I violently slid down the rest of the way. I really thought I was going to loose it. I had the urge to throw up and have diarrhea. Thankfully none of that happened. I took a deep breath and crawled up the stairs and then laid on the floor moaning for a while. I tried to go to the bathroom since I thought I needed to relieve myself, but I couldn’t. I think my body was in shock.

This was terrible. J was packed up and ready to go. I was supposed to bring Z to his work so that they could leave from there! My fall ruined everything. Fortunately I had some perscription ibuprofen left over from after Elle was born and that helped me get through the night. I still couldn’t drive, but J came and got Z. The campout was not ruined. Although, to be honest the weather couldn’t have been much worse. They had rain and freezing temperatures the whole weekend.

My parents came the next morning. My dad watched the kids and my mom brought me to the ER.


I had an X-ray show that there are no broken bones, which is good news, but I am still very sore and have trouble doing normal everyday tasks now. I got some prescription pain killers and one of those special pillows for tailbone injuries.

It’s a pretty big set back. I feel like I was in a car accident. I appreciate that so many people have been there for me to offer help and hopefully a week or two from now I’ll be feeling like myself again.

That’s pretty much all the updates. I went from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows just like that. Actually, that’s not true. This little trauma has been excruciating, but it could be much, MUCH worse. In the spirit of Thanksgiving I am still grateful for the many blessings in my life. I hope everyone enjoys their time of reflection, feast, and family this week. Happy Thanksgiving.

By | November 22nd, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Elle’s First Year

This is an excerpt from a blog post I wrote 3 years ago which I thought would be fun to revisit.

For Valentine’s Day we went to a couple’s party at our church and we played the newly wed game. It was so much fun. One question was

“If there were a fire what 3 things would your husband try to save?”

My answer was Family, computer, and Photos. And while most husbands answered that they would save their wife and/or children, the other answers ranged from pets, to guns, to TV. No one else said photos. I knew J wouldn’t save our TV because we have a 13 year old box TV that switches from color to black and white, the latter being more and more frequent. In fact I think if we saw a fire fighter coming out of a burning house with our TV we would throw our hands out and scream “Noooo! Put it back!!!” Anyway, back to the game, when it was J’s turn to divulge his answer he had said “family, computer, and photos” SCORE!


I thought that was sweet. We just celebrated our 16 year anniversary this past weekend by the way.


The reason I was bringing this up for this little video reveal is because J and I love photos. We’ve dabbled in different hobbies and job titles over the years, but I think most people will always see us as a musician and photographer. Maybe that’s why we have made it a tradition to have photos of the arrival of each of our babies set to a carefully selected song.

Z was first and his was the video that was strangely popular. You have to watch a commercial to view it because it has so many views and I don’t know any of the people that commented. I have no explanation for this.

Then SJ’s was special because hers included some brief video clips.

J recorded a song for Ezie’s video so I knew that would be tough to beat!

When was pregnant with Elle we had a song and some ideas for what her slideshow would be like, but as most of you know there were no photographs of her arrival. So instead we decided to do a slideshow of her first year.

Yesterday was Elle’s first birthday party. It was bumble bee theme and was awesome by the way, but more on that later. Anyway after cupcakes we all gathered around the TV to watch this little compilation of her first year. She may not have an arrival video, but I think this more than makes up for.

By | November 14th, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Monthly Baby Photos

Well, this is it. Elle turns one this week. As always the first year just flew by! I am so grateful however that I took time for an “official photo shoot” each month.

This time I made it a goal to do a different theme each month. Some months were challenging because my schedule had no wiggle room and I started to resent the idea, but when I pulled them all together to have prints made last week I teared up. I am so glad that I have these. J loves them too and said I should keep going. I don’t think that’s going to happen, but for know here is Elle at 1 month through one year old (the last one I had to take a little early so that I could have prints and a slideshow ready for her party).























And that’s a wrap. I won’t be blogging anymore this week because I have so much going on including Elle’s birthday party this weekend. Of course I will be sure to check back in with all the details afterwards to let you know how it went!

By | November 7th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

The Captain of Your Kitchen

Today we wrap up the write 31 Day Challenge. This month of focused writing has been challenging, but amazing in so many ways.


It all started when I realized how little I write about an aspect of homemaking that is a huge portion of what I do every single day. As I dug into the topic and began to craft posts about the kitchen from my view point, I noticed just how different my kitchen experience is compared to a lot of other women blogging about the same thing. Neither my kitchen nor my cooking is very instagramy that’s for sure! I do believe however that is one of the reasons God has given this platform. It’s about “making the best of what looks like a mess”.

Most of you know that my family has gone through some incredibly difficult life circumstances over the past several years. For those that don’t know, I’ll just mention that we’ve been hit with dissability, instability (living with family and not having a home of our own), and poverty all in a short amount of time. The exciting news, which I haven’t shared on this blog yet, is that my husband recently graduated Suma Cum Laude with a degree in Software Engineering Technology! He now has a full time paid job which has allowed us to inch our way over the poverty line. It is a huge breakthrough for our family and it’s been a long time coming. Thank you for all of the prayers and encouragement. All glory to God.

I do hate talking about personal stuff like… gulp… welfare. If we were rich I certainly wouldn’t talk about money so why now? The why is because there are millions of other families living below the poverty level struggling to make ends meet. There are millions of other families renting tiny spaces with maintenance issues. There are millions of other families whose children are not having birthday parties at events centers or wearing new clothes off the rack. I am not complaining, believe me! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there are a lot of things we have simplified due to personal hardships, but now that I see the beauty of the simplicity I wouldn’t have it any other way. Although let’s be real, there are some things I would change.

I know this sounds like a tangent. Wasn’t this supposed to be a closing statement to the series about kitchens? I’m getting there.

A lot of what I have written about this month; health, family, organization, cooking, grocery shopping etc. I have done from the stand point of small space, small budget, big family. No dishwasher. No microwave. No pressure cooker. No Fixer Upper worthy open floor plan with custom island. It’s just been very basic stuff. Nothing amazing, just simple tips for the everyday housewife like myself.

I hope from the bottom of my heart that this series encourages those who feel like they have to keep up with the Jone’s in the kitchen. Shoot, you don’t even have to keep up with me! Every kitchen and every captain is unique.

I love this quote from famous chef Mario Batli who says “Only bad cooks blame the equipment, I can make almost every dish in my restaurants on four crummy electric burners with a regular oven — as can just about anyone else who cares to.”

It takes a lot to keep the kitchen ship afloat and many times all of our hard work is taken for granted. But kudos to all of you moms (and dads too) who are giving it their all. I don’t care if you are in a yacht or a row boat. Own it sweetheart. You are the captain.



By | October 31st, 2016|Uncategorized|4 Comments

Nature or Man-made? FREE Printable

Teaching kids about food, nutrition, and health is something that can never begin too early. I already talked about allowing kids to help out in the kitchen and that’s one great way to teach them about nourishment.


I also shared the grocery basket tip for teaching kids moderation,


and fun fruit creations.


Another idea when it comes to kids and food is to actually have a conversation about what whole foods are. I asked my nine year old how you can tell if something is healthy and he said “It tastes bad?” and he wasn’t joking.

So I am not the head pioneer of the healthy families revolution. I am just trying to make stuff up as I realize that we’ve gotten off track. So I made this free printable to aid in a healthy food lesson for your children. It’s up to you how much processed food you want to be included in your children’s diets. For some that’s none for others it’s all about moderation. I am not implying that everyone needs to tell their children that only all natural food is good and everything man made is bad! I do think it’s good for kids to know where food comes from. What animal is pork? Where do strawberries come from? Are nuts natural? Is pizza natural? What about noodles?

In the society that we live in children are so far removed from farming and often times natural eating that sometimes they really have no clue what is healthy.

This little printable shows different kinds of food and allows children to connect the food to it’s source. You might be surprised by what your child does or does not understand about food. It’s a simple worksheet, but could be a great tool to help get the conversation going. Click the link to get your free printable download.


This is my first time doing a printable, so let me know if you have any trouble with the download.


I can’t believe tomorrow is the last day of October and that this is day 30 of a 31 day writing challenge.  I do hope you’ll join me for some closing thoughts on Captain of the Kitchen.

By | October 30th, 2016|Uncategorized|1 Comment

Composting Without a Bin

Z loves science and nature so I guess I should have been surprised when he recently came home with a library book about composting. J and I have been wanting to compost for a while, but this was definitely the tipping point of inspiration. For those that aren’t familiar with composting it is a way to reduce waste by recycling your scraps in a way that allows the discarded matter to decay and become fertilized soil.

The thing about composting is that it can be very intimidating. It involves carbon-nitrogen ratios,  PH balance, earth worms, and special tools. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that complicated. We decided to take the plunge without even having a compost bin. Here’s how we did it.


1. We started with Carbon-rich materials like dried up leaves and pine needles, but leave out the baby. This is called brown matter.


2. Then we added grass clippings after J mowed. This is the bulk of our pile and that’s where the nitrogen comes in. That’s part of the green matter. You need both brown and green matter for the process to work.

3. Next we dug up a lit bit of soil from the ground to stir into the pile.

4. Lastly we add select kitchen waste.

You have to do your research about what you can and can’t add to your pile. Some claims will include almost anything you want, while others have very narrow specifications. We usually only add three things “Green matter” which is Plant based foods, along with coffee grounds, and egg shells.


One time I threw in a chipotle container, because I knew it was compostable, so why not! 


 The green matter is whats left when I chop up fruits and vegetables.


This could be the ends of broccoli, carrot peels, strawberry stems, apple cores etc. We have plenty of these nutrient rich scraps on a daily basis.  



Another thing we have a lot of is coffee grounds. You may have noticed Starbuck’s and many other coffee shops are now offering their discarded grounds for free to use in your garden. The reason for this is way too complicated for me to understand or explain. Ha! But if you want to know more you can read the Starbucks coffee compost test.

Lastly, we throw in a lot egg shells because we eat eggs nearly everyday. Egg shells are great for compost because they add calcium. Did you know plants need calcium too? 

Composting has become a wonderful part of our routine in the kitchen. I can put the scraps in a bucket and it’s just a short walk over to the pile at my convince. Then I use a pitchfork to cover up the scraps (that part is important).


Not only does it help the environment by reducing waste, but the soil it creates is great for gardening. It’s like having a free miracle grow. It also gives me an excuse to use a pitch fork which makes me feel tough.


If you’ve ever thought about composting, but were waiting on a bin or an in depth tutorial now you have no excuse. Good luck!


This post is a part of a 31 day series called Captain of the Kitchen. For more of the series click here.

By | October 29th, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments

Soda Alternative

We are winding down October which means only 3 days left of the Captain of the Kitchen 31 day series.

I’ve written a lot about cutting back on sugar and also cutting back on spending in the kitchen. So I can’t close out this series without mentioning one of the biggest culprits when it comes to both of these things, and that is soda.

The thing about sugar in soft drinks or other sweet beverages is that it’s easy to drink calories. You may not eat three bowls of ice cream, but if you blend it up and put it in a glass with a straw you’ll drink it as a milk shake. It’s really shocking how many hidden calories and sugars are in the drinks we consume. If I had a kit kat for a snack during a mid day slump I would have consumed 20 grams of sugar. If I had a kitkat with a coke then I would have TRIPLED that amount.

I know that I still fall into the sugar trap (unfortunately this month seems to be the worst!) but at least eliminating soft drinks from my diet means I am consuming half of I would be if I hadn’t made this lifestyle change.

To be fair, I haven’t drank soda for over 15 years so admittedly it’s not even a weakness for me. I have my other vices. My husband on the other hand doesn’t struggle like I do with chocolate or dessert, but he loves his soda. Since he had to cut it out with going low carb he tried diet drinks, but he his weight loss plateaued. After doing some research online he found that artificial sweeteners can often have an adverse effect for some people (not to mention being unhealthy). So he cut that out too and just stuck with drinking water or having coffee with cream, but it wasn’t hitting the spot. So he tried a few different flavored waters that had no artificial sweeteners and in the end he settled on the Dasani sparkling water.


I drink it sometimes too. My favorite flavor is Raspberry Lemonade and J’s is Tropical Pineapple. The cost is no different than coke so it doesn’t save us any money like drinking water, but J likes it and it is definitely better than slurping 39 grams of sugar in one sitting!  It’s naturally flavored and calorie free. No this isn’t a sponsored posts. I just wanted to share this little find with world since there maybe some other soda drinkers also looking to kick the habit. If you have to have that fizz, this is your fix.


This post is a part of a 31 day series. To catch up on the rest click HERE.

By | October 28th, 2016|Uncategorized|2 Comments