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3 Step Dairy-Free Coffee Creamer

20151017_081310-002On Thursday, I finally got confirmation that – yes, indeed – I have developed a true allergy to milk. (Pregnancy is beautiful, but I hate this side effect… It’s a good thing my oldest is as wonderful as he is, because this Texan mama sure misses her Blue Bell…)

For those of us dealing with this kind of allergy, it can be so frustrating. My middle and last sons both have the same allergy, thanks to my genes, so we’ve already adjusted a bit to the “No Milk” lifestyle. That doesn’t make it any easier, but it does make dinner planning a little quicker. One of the biggest things I miss, though, is a good coffee creamer. International Delight is not a non-dairy product, as they claim. We found this out accidentally, much to the detriment of my middle child’s poor puffy face… I’ll be honest: I didn’t give up my ID coffee creamer until two months ago, when we discovered that the youngest was having a reaction to it through nursing. I cried big ol’ tears. Coffee is my jam, y’all! I survive on coffee. Black coffee, though? Gross… (Sorry, coffee aficionados. I like a little coffee with my cream.)

We scanned the aisles for dairy-free creamers, and I was bowled over by the cost. One little pint for $4?? Excuse me? No thank, pass. I’d never drink it for fear gold bars would get stuck in my throat.

Finally, I figured out how to make my own, and I think it tastes even better! What really sold me, though, is that it costs about $2 a pint. Still fairly exorbitant, but it does the job well. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk, well-shaken
  • 3 TBSP flavored syrup (I use Torani)
  • 1/4 cup natural sweetener (I love honey)

Pour them into a container, shake to combine, and make sure to refrigerate. Also, don’t be freaked out if your coffee looks like it’s separating once it has cooled. The fat in the coconut milk (good medium-chain fatty acids that your boy loves) naturally settles (thus the shaken can), and it’s still ok to drink. (It freaked me out the first few times, so just a head’s up!)

Now you can sit back and enjoy a great cup o’ joe without fear of dairy reaction or breaking the bank! Enjoy!

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Hashtag FirstWorldProblems

So. Much. Stuff. It’s pouring out my ears! The revelation came at just the right time, too. Our household is on an increasingly tight budget, and I was beginning to lose focus of everything we have. Going through the ocean of stuff in my boys’ room alone, my focus has shifted.

We here in America are so incredibly blessed. The majority of us have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and clothes on our children. The roof might be rented,the food might be ramen, and the clothes might be hand-me-downs, but we have them, and they are good. Our government, regardless of personal opinion, does a lot for those with less. Our healthcare system, though flawed, is better than the majority of the world. We are so, so blessed.

Last night, my church held our Concert of Prayer, an event where the members of the church gather together to pray specifically over the summer’s activities: Bootcamp, our teen training for a version of VBS; Backyard Bible Clubs (said version of VBS); Summerfest, our street festival; and all of the various mission trips. For the foreign mission trips, I joined a group praying for the Dominican Republic. My heart has a special place for the D.R. after having gone on two mission trips myself there, and reminiscing during the prayer brought back all of those memories of true poverty.

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I returned from that trip amazed at silly things like paved roads, carpet, and real walls. These beautiful people had houses built out of rusted-through sheet metal. newspaper for wall paper, and rivers of sewage whenever it rained (so daily). The kids who did have clothes had worn, dirty clothes that were obviously American. (Old Navy’s U.S.A. shirts are probably not sold over there…) At one village, the missionaries’ meal of a small bread bun, a boiled egg, and a cup of milk was their meal for the day. At an orphanage, they sacrificed one of their chickens to make us the most amazing stew, and none of us realized the magnitude of it until later.I came home loathe to buy a coffee. That was a child’s meals for a month over there…

I came home. I readjusted. I forgot. 8 years later, I’m lamenting the hot dog and fast food diet of my kids, the lack of bigger vehicle for me, and that #3’s cheaper diapers don’t hold his poo. I’ve completely missed the point. #firstworld problems, am I right?

The kicker, though, is that we don’t have to go to a different country to find such desperate poverty. Homelessness is endemic. Every city struggles with it. The number of natural disasters that rip through our communities can leave behind a similar setting. And yet, I have all of this stuff I won’t do anything with except complain about.

This week, I’ll be donating anything and everything to SafePlace, an organization here in central Texas that “Provides Safety for individuals and families affected by sexual and domestic violence[, h]elps victims in their Healing so they can move beyond being defined by the crimes committed against them, and become Survivors[; p]romotes safe and healthy relationships for the Prevention of sexual and domestic violence[; and w]orks with others to create Change in attitudes, behaviors and policies that perpetuate the acceptance of, and impact our understanding and responses to, sexual and domestic violence.” The donations they receive help families with basic possessions and household items, and helps get them up on their feet. While I love donating to places like Salvation Army and Goodwill, I love the idea of having a tangible, direct impact on my community.

So this week, I challenge you to join me. What do you not need anymore? What stuff could you give?

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We’re All Stuck in the ’50s

I am really struggling with this third baby, and I’m finding myself more and more frustrated with it. “C’mon, girl. This is your third. Don’t you know what you’re doing yet? Women all over America do this by themselves. Why can’t you?”

I think back to my first and second, trying to recall why I didn’t feel half this crazy.

Oh.

That’s right.

I had help.

With my first, I was living with my parents while my husband went to school. With my second, we lived with my in-laws. There was always an extra set of hands to say, “Here, lemme snuggle that baby so you can sleep/shower/eat.” Nothing major, but just enough to keep me sane. The household didn’t pivot on whether I was functional or not. I was able to sleep when the baby slept (more like forced to with my first, for my need to get all chores done. My mother about had a fit seeing that…. Naps were then taken). If I didn’t have the energy to make dinner, someone else could make it or pizza was bought.

With the third, we’re (finally!!) living on our own. I have two older boys who behave like normal siblings. My middle is acting exactly like any other momma’s toddler would with a new kid on the block. I have no one during the day to keep the older kids entertained while I nurse (though the TV does a valiant effort), and I have no one to hold the baby while I do laundry and make dinner.

What makes these realities frustrating is that I feel guilty for having them. Do moms across America really function so well, or are we all continuing to put on our pearls and gloves to vacuum, posting perfect pictures and “look at me do this pinteresty thing” on Facebook like our grandmothers kept appearances in the 50s. And if I’m not the only mom to struggle like this, why don’t we talk about it more? I feel like I’m failing in motherhood if I can’t wear the baby like a corsage while I wash dishes and fold clothes. I feel like I’m failing whenever the toddler mean mugs someone and then smacks his brother. I feel like a failure when I can’t make a trip to the store without looking like a crazy person. Please tell me I’m not the only one.

And if I’m not the only one, why are we all suffering in silence alone? Why do we have this incessant need to do it all on our own?

Generations upon generations lived commune-style, grandmothers and mothers and daughters and aunts and uncles and sons and fathers and grandfathers all living around and with each other. There were cousins to play with and extra hands to help and (in many cultures) time set aside specifically for the new mother and baby. Chores were shared, as was caring for the children. On the men’s side, the entirety of financial survival didn’t ride on their shoulders alone. So why did it change?

I refuse to believe I’m the only one struggling behind a mask of pinterest-perfect projects. And if that’s the case, I want to team up with moms near me. Taking turns babysitting each other’s kids for date nights, doctor’s visits, and trips to the store child-free. Shopping together so there’s more than one set of eyes  and arms for multiple kids. Inviting one another over for dinner or lunch once a week to give each other a break.

I’m struggling. I feel pathetic writing that. Some people will roll their eyes, call me dramatic, and begin telling me how they survived with their children just fine. And I’m so happy for you! I wish I had that talent. But, I don’t. So next time you see a “look at this craft” status or “I just made this awesome dinner” post, take it with a grain of salt. I can nearly guarantee that craft will look the same as that picture for weeks, and it’s my “I-need-a-moment” sanity saver. And that dinner probably had all of three ingredients I just tossed together (but jerk chicken sandwiches with mango cucumber salsa sounds super fancy, doesn’t it?). And when I ask if any other moms need to hit up HEB, I’m being serious. Just so you know.

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Losing My Marbles

I just spent two minutes frowning at my computer and clicking aimlessly through computer tabs, trying to remember what I had wanted to do… What was it again? Oh yeah! Write a post about how I keep fooling myself into thinking I have it all together. Obviously, I don’t.

I could lay blame at the feet of my Type A personality. I have an inherent need for order and routine. WIthout it, I turn into a frazzled mess of a woman. Things all need to flow in a certain order, people need to follow my plans (ha, right…), and my surroundings need to be clean. My mind craves it.

If I’m truly honest with myself, though, it’s not my Type A self that’s driving my self-delusional “all-together” thinking. It’s my pride. God forbid someone should see my house a mess and call me out on it. What if someone saw how many Texas-sized flies are in my house right now? It’s got to be because of the dishes… And the pile of diapers in the baby’s room due to my lack of diaper trash bags will remain hidden behind a door. I don’t want anyone seeing that I’m less than completely together, because then I’m a failure as a mother.

Aren’t I?

I thought I was doing well this morning. I managed to drag myself out of bed without tears from kids sent back to their rooms or too much back pain from myself. I actually made something other than dry cereal this morning, even if it was just peanut butter-honey toast, and even if #2 didn’t eat it until noon. And, we headed to the park almost right after Sesame Street was done, with minimal belly aching or baby fussing. We had a great time, I admired my kids’ cuteness, snuggled with the baby, and dreamt a little bit about owning one of the cute houses that backs up onto the park. And then we headed home, where I got slow cooker jumbalaya started with #2’s (not-really) help. All together, right? I should brag about this on facebook or something!

But that’s so a lie… Sure, laundry’s being done, but my bed isn’t made (which is my religious routine in the mornings) and the clothes are all still in baskets. Sure, dinner’s being made, but we totally ate tortilla chips plain for snack while mooching in front of the tv and I just discovered that I burned the rice. The baby lost his paci and has been the cutest leech all day, thus making his older brother insanely jealous, slightly violent, rebellious, and clingy. There has been much fighting over my lap today. I had no nap, my attempts to clean were immediately overthrown, and the boys have been at each others’ throats for a few hours now. Second string (aka Daddy) had an exceptionally hard day on the hottest day so far of the year, so he’s toast. And I still have a few hours to go.

I have nothing together. My bra is crusty with milk. My bathroom needs to be cleaned. Sometimes I think my kids hate each other. I swear the baby waits for me to eat/need to pee/do something for myself and wakes screaming. I have nothing together, and I need to deal with that. I’ll still be working on schedules and cleaning and organizing, but I’m not at a point in my life where that will look at all like I’d hope for it to look. Things that would take a few hours will now take a few weeks. I’ll need to have back-up dinners. Naps are a must, as are early bed times.

And above all, because I have such a habit of getting caught up in the things, I need to remember that this too shall pass, and I don’t want to regret missing these special moments.

Burned rice is not the end of the world. Missing out on lego towers and snuggles and going with the flow of growing-familyhood is.

Time to let go of my pride and live a little.josh liam

Sneak Peek!

Unsurprisingly, my husband is awesome. He and Little Bit had a snugglefest and I was able to get some projects started. Here are some sneak peeks from before I started on them. Can’t wait to show you the finished product! (And let’s all just ignore my terrible pedicure and hubby’s dirty socks… Proof I don’t have anything together, if there was any doubt.)

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I Swear I’m Not Hoarding!

Though, if you ask my husband, he might disagree… Over the past two days, our carport has begun to fill with my “loot:” old dresser drawers, a bunch of cabinet doors, one little ol’ window, some great wood from a broken bookshelf (I think…), some small pillows, some pieces of a wood bedframe… Chicken wire… Spray paint cans…. Trash to most, but excitement to me.

Right now, though, I’m attempting to write this blog in the few moments of peace that I have. My littlest is crashed on my arm mid-nursing session, the middle is (I’m hoping) still napping, and the oldest is binge-watching some weird show called SheZow? Life is, temporarily, calm. Until I try to put L into the bassinet, threaten to do any cleaning/cooking/DIYing… Then, EVERYONE needs mommy.

And, lemme tell y’all, it’s been one of those days. All I want to do is grab a margarita, my masking tape, and some chalkboard paint and hole up somewhere to tackle some of these projects. It’s been a roooough day… Up all night with the baby and his horrible cold, only to have J up over and over screaming and trying to fit in bed (of which I’m currently cosleeping – drop the pitchforks, ladies – and trying to share with the husband….). Talk about exhausted… I’d been brilliant and schedules a photo session for mid-morning, and then promptly fell asleep during L’s early morning nursing session. THAT was a fun rush job to get showered and out the door… Other things fell apart, the husband and I shot arrows at each other from other sides of the car, and the boys all ran around like hooligans. It was rough. Like, pull-my-hair-out rough. My days aren’t usually this insane, but it never fails to happen just when I most want it to flow.

So now I sit with my shoulder and hip cramping, hurrying to write something, anything, before I’m bombarded again. Maybe I can even convince my husband to have some “guy time” so I can at least get a few of these done. So long as I don’t come home with any more adopted pieces, I think he’ll be ok… Hopefully…

What’s your first day of summer been like?

So Much Going On!

I am so excited about the projects I’m working on! I’m discovering that these projects are my kind of therapy, and it feels so good! After months of struggling with depression and axiety, I’d lost most of my desire to do anything for myself. These upcycling/decor projects have given me so much energy, and it’s so energizing! LOVE IT!

Here’s some of the things I’m working on:

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Forgive the fuzziness of some of the pictures. My ancient camera phone is not nearly as stellar as my husband’s iPhone.

I’m loving giving new life to things I’ve had for a while. It gives everything such a fresh look and I’m so excited to see it all come together. Right now, it’s still all over the place, but keep an eye out for complete room pictures. And if you’re close and have a project you’d like done, I’d love to do it for you! I’ve even salvaged a few pieces from a house down the street that I’ll be redoing to sell. I’m smart enough to know when I can’t use something in my house, but it seems like SUCH a shame to let stuff just be thrown away. Cute kitchen/desk organizer? Yes please! Awesome shadow box cork board? You bet! Can’t wait to sell them!