embraced chaos.

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These girls are so animated, full of life, love and endless energy. Every minute and day spent with them leaves me breathless but in the very best way. Today, I am reminding myself, in the midst of all the chaos; of the life and love they live. I am counting my lucky stars, breathing deeply and loving them with all that I have. These days may be long but they will only last a short while. Before long, these girls will head off to college, [we hope!] with minds of their own. It is then that I expect; the hugs, random dress up sessions, giggles, whispers, messes and questions about life and desire for advice will be fewer and farther between. I am going to embrace this chaos, every single day for as many days as they will allow.

Raising children is by far the most difficult job I have held in my life. However, no matter how hard the situation or how short my patience, the challenge constantly brings me to a better day. A day where I am stronger, wiser and far more patient than ever before. My days with my daughters will not last forever, other duties and obligations will come upon each of them and myself and our interests, each unique.

I am absolutely in love with my daughters, they are the sunshine of my life but I never want them to be an extension of myself or my identity, that without which I could not function. I want them to grow and thrive and to walk along side them. Their blooming and blossoming will be with me serving as a witness and maybe helping a bit along the way. It will never be because of me.

Make no mistake, my work as a mother is something I take quite serious. No action in my parenting done haphazardly or without purpose but I know that the alarm will sound, 18 years will pass and off they will go. I am looking forward to celebrating with them, their success and supporting them through the expected failures or disappointments they are sure to face.

For now, I will embrace this chaos, even creating some of my own and appreciate the ways in which it will wear me down and give me an appreciation for life that can not be gained in any other fashion. I will live in the day and moment, being present as a mother and person in their lives. However, I will be present in the days and moments as a wife and as a person, myself. I will live and love my life and my loves with no abandon. All the while, pinning that dream trip across the pond. After all, these girls will grow up and fly the coop…or maybe they won’t. Either way, I will still be young, as will my husband and we will have some catching up to do with our travel plans and time alone. I will not feel guilty about this. In fact, I will and am looking forward to it but all of that gets lost and a little forgotten each time I add another chore to the to do list or another little voice screams “MOOOOMMMM!” as a means of scaring off their sibling and winning the battle.

One day, Europe, Brazil, Columbia, Australia…one day. Until then, I have pins and needles I am waiting on. HA! Name that movie and character. I know you know who it is!

birthday potstickers.

This time of year is bittersweet for our family. My husband has 2 brothers, 5 kids in the family total and all of us ladies, of these brothers got pregnant at the same time. All of these girls were born, in a row, 2 weeks apart, each. It was a sleepless summer for all of us, really. We now have 3 daughters in our family alone and all of these girls have become the sweetest and closest of friends. They have the best time together and are in tears, usually, when its time to say their goodbyes. We just returned last month, from vacationing with our family for a few weeks and our girls are really missing their cousins again during the summer holidays and days off.

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Cousins // Summer Vacation 2014 // Hogle Zoo, Utah2014-05-24_1400974918 Cousins // Summer Vacation 2014 // Lagoon Amusement Park, Utah2014-05-17_1400306659 Cousin time // Summer Vacation 2014 // Utah2014-05-17_1400358196

Cousin Time // Summer Vacation 2014 // Hogle Zoo, Utah2014-06-01_1401661706

Ella on her first roller coaster. She’s a dare devil and loves this kind of thing

Ella, our middle daughter and also the middle born of the 3 cousins, turns 7 this Saturday. I really wish I knew the secret to slowing the minutes on the clock and days on the calendar. It’s really something to have these 3 girls who are finding their voice and really deciding what makes them unique to this world. Something that greatly interests both my husband & myself, is seeing them step outside their box to try new things and then seeing foods that please their palette. The magic we make together in the kitchen, with each morsel and meal prepared is just something unexplainable. These are the moments in our lives that fill my soul and warm my smile.

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That being said, birthdays are certainly a time for celebrating and enjoying all the indulgences that life has to offer. For our family, this would include a favorite meal[s], treats and trinkets and whatever strikes your fancy. Really, its always too short a time to celebrate and appreciate the lives of my loves and the addition to our family.

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One of our absolute favorites as a family is potstickers or Asian dumplings. Truly, everyone loves them and could eat them EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Serious. They are THAT good. & I am serious when I say, give my sauce a try on not just potstickers. Try it on pork, try it on salad, you name it. You really won’t be the same. Its that kind of good. I don’t know about you but we’re really trying to continue eating healthy over here and further clean up our act, going STRAIGHT PALEO/WHOLE 30. Whoa. Its hard some days, if you haven’t tried it.

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Ella asked for potstickers for her birthday and our neighbor has been waiting for me to make these again, also. So…Happy Birthday our sweet girl. Here’s to your wish of “eating, having fun and sleeping.” I’ve always known you were wicked smart and fun. This just proved it, yet again.

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potstickers.

Ingredients

  1. 1 lb. [approx.] ground turkey / pork / protein of your choice
  2. 2 - 3 cups - napa cabbage // chiffonaded
  3. 3 -4 carrots // julienned
  4. 1 - 2 cups - kale // finely chopped
  5. 1 -2 garlic cloves - crushed or finely chopped // we like garlic A LOT!
  6. 1 small - medium white or yellow onion
  7. green onions // chopped
  8. 1 small splash sesame oil
  9. 1 small splash olive oil
  10. Salt [kosher] & Pepper - to taste
  11. 1 package potsticker wrappers. We used round but you can use what you can find.
  12. also: feel free to add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots, etc.
  13. Sauce:
  14. You can change the amount of these ingredients to your liking. Some like it spicier, some like it with more of a vinegar taste or more sweet. Feel free to experiment with it to your liking.
  15. 1 Tsp. to 1 Tbsp. Chili garlic sauce to taste
  16. 2 - 3 Tbsp. Chinese hot mustard
  17. 1/2 Cup Soy sauce
  18. 1 Tsp Garlic paste [not necessary but we love garlic]
  19. Honey - a swizzle or so, if any.
  20. Green onions - to taste
  21. 1 splash or so - Sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Mix recipe for sauce in advance of making potstickers. You will add some of this to meat mixture.
  2. Heat pan to a medium heat, add splash of vegetable & sesame oil.
  3. Place meat of choice in pan. Add salt & pepper, garlic & onion.
  4. Add carrots, cabbage, kale and green onion to pan. Toss all items together gently.
  5. Saute the entire mixture until cooked all of the way through, being careful not to overcook or cook until the meat is "dry" You just want the cabbage to be tender, carrots to be al dente, etc.
  6. *At this point, if you want any dumplings steamed, you will want to start the water boiling.
  7. When meat is cooked most of the way through, add a few Tbsps of the sauce. // add this according to your taste and liking. Also, don't hesitate to also add more chili paste or sriracha, etc.
  8. Remove mixture from heat, get a small dish with water, lay out potsticker wrappers on plate.
  9. Add 1 Tbsp or so of the mixture to the potsticker wrapper's center. Fold wrapper onto itself, taking care to close the mixture inside. You can do this through fancy pleats or just the pressure of your hands...really..it all TASTES DELICIOUS...
  10. We add about 6 - 8 dumplings per time to the pan. We are just using a pot with boiling water and the steamer basket we have for another pan on the top of the pot..easy peasy..
  11. Some of you may not like your dumplings steamed or boiled at all..and thats fine too.
  12. If you are planning to pan fry them, heat your pan or griddle so its nice and hot.
  13. In a bowl add about a 1/4 cup or less of olive oil and then a splash or even a little more of sesame oil. You will absolutely love the sesame oil added to the mix...
  14. We like to do a combo of steaming and pan frying. So after you steam these lovelies, put them in a hot pan or on a griddler to pan fry them. We use a Cuisinart Griddler and its AMAZING. Seriously!
  15. After you brown them up on each side, thats it. They are done. EAT THEM UP. Fast.
  16. & we use the leftover mixture in lettuce wraps or in salads.
  17. More than anything, make the sauce, keep it in your fridge in a big jar. You really will find a million things to eat it on, with or because of...it is just that good.
  18. Make it SAUCY:
  19. Add soy sauce, chili paste, chinese mustard to bowl.
  20. Add a splash of sesame oil. As in DROPS, NOT A MAJOR SPLASH HERE...
  21. Add garlic paste if you like that sort of thing.
  22. If you don't care for the bite of a vinegar and spicy sauce, add a tsp or so of honey.
  23. We personally love Madhava brand honeys...the whipped one is amazing!
  24. Mix all items together and add chopped green onions. As many as you like. They are yummy.
  25. I'll be sure to post the recipe for the vegetarian potstickers that we made soon!
  26. & for those curious about my precooking the filling and it not being the standard way to make these...I have found that they are FAR less oily inside and also, I don't know why but I just CAN'T trust ground pork or turkey being cooked all the way just by being steamed...Plus, you get to incorporate the sauce into the meat. Just be careful to cook the mixture until "TENDER" and not dry...that's the ticket.
http://www.carsonavenue.com/birthday-potstickers/

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adventure.

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It seems all too easy to get caught up in the to-do lists of life and really just the mentality of fitting 50,000 tasks into a day that only holds 24 hours. On the days where you are busy but nothing in “specific” to get done, it seems at our house that anxiety starts to kick in. Everyone gets antsy and the girls seem to breed chaos by the minute.

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Those are the minutes that make you miserable and can really make or break a day’s success. My husband and I have long been advocates of taking an adventure. Much to the surprise of so many, there does not have to be a plan or destination in mind to jump in the car and just GO!

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Last summer, it was one of those anxious days. A storm had actually just rolled by with the most intense wind and angry, heavy clouds. We got in the car to chase the rain originally. The girls really wanted to run in the rain and I won’t lie, I wanted to watch. [I hate water!] It ended being a total bust on the end of chasing rainclouds but the sunshine was just as nice.

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I love that our kids want to dance in the rain, soak up the sunshine and that they are ALWAYS ready to jump in the car and have an adventure. Some of our best memories have come from these times in the car with nothing on the date book, no agenda for our time spent together. These are the times when our kids get the best of us. There is little to nothing else on our minds as a distraction or worry. These days I am very mindful about giving them these little nuggets of adventure and quality time together, uninterrupted. Even if it means grocery shopping and having to navigate though a boatload of people in the parking lot. It’s all a moment in our lives and time together, worthy of remembering and tucking away for safekeeping.

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GOMI. // GO ME.

equalitySo, tonight I spent some of my free time reading a new to me site called “get off my internets” Where in the world do I start with this and my reaction to it.

Mostly, I was really interested in seeing the level of hate, anger and upset that people have for things, people, places, another person’s face, you name it. Then I decided that it’s better for their rage to be on the internet, as opposed to the freeway I am driving on and the office my husband or myself may be working in or the grocery store we are shopping in.

I thought I would clarify some things for you love “GOMI” readers and activists.

I actually will do my best to not abuse the semi-colon as much, going into the future.

Also, I am not crazy. Not even close. Hey! I think its great that you can recognize those in need of someone being kind… What I am is…SOMEONE, A PERSON, JUST LIKE YOURSELF. I am capable of intelligent thought and process and also appreciate when others can be as well. I am of a humble heart and mind, after some seriously deep life experience and I know full well how mean people can be and have maybe even put myself on a pedestal at some point in my past. That makes me feel bad and I never want to make someone feel that way again.

I am not of money or privilege. I have had a job since I was 16 and have always had to work hard for everything that I have in my life. I hate flowers and all that mushy romantic garbage. My husband loves me even more for that too. Pomp and circumstance surrounding so many events, holidays, etc. in life really annoys and inconveniences me. However, I am a big girl so even when something isn’t to my liking, I put on my big girl panties just like the rest of you to deal with it.

Mostly, I just think it’s a little nuts on your own behalf that you are all so involved in trolling for material to bash and make fun of. How many of you have your own blog? If you don’t, KUDOS! If you do, well, again, KUDOS.

I really don’t want to sound all leave it to beaver, old granny preaching here but this is where I stand with this whole situation. I really believe in the golden rule and I think as a nation, we are LOOOOOOONNNNG overdue for a resurgence of this rule and any/all behaviors associated with it. I have 3 kids who off and on have experienced bullying at school. For one of them, it is simply because she has beautiful auburn hair and an almost perfect report card. I would much rather that she would be intelligent and apply herself to becoming more educated, than stoop to the levels of these kids making fun of her and resort to making another person feel terrible about themselves or shamed. Its just NOT OKAY.

Also, it’s the rants and raves that I read at GOMI that you are discussing in your own homes, at your dinner tables and that your CHILDREN and maybe other people’s are listening to, absorbing like a sponge and then taking into their own lives as a tool to communicate with others and “cope” with life.

Anyway, have fun with your making fun of me left and right and all the live, long day. It is and will be, your negative energy surrounding you at that point, not mine.

However, fair warning to you [yes, YOU!] that I am that rare breed of person that really likes to like everyone. I can find positive in the negative and find a reason to like something about people, almost no matter what. I also know that not everyone will like me, nor will I prefer the company of many others, myself. Its LIFE. I grew up in the Air Force Life, so trust me when I say that I have seen and experienced A LOT.

Truly. I will find constructive criticism in your thoughts. I.E. // I know that there are 40,000 images of paper cups painted gold on here. Really, I am SUPER new at this blogging business and have been a photographer for quite a few years now and NORMALLY people DEMAND to see HOARDS of photos. I do suppose that is a mindset that I will need to adjust for accordingly.

Lastly, MY NAME IS NOT AIR JORDAN. It is Aaron, spelled like a male because my mom wanted to be different back in the day…and well, its proved to be more of a pain in my side than anything. On that note, something that I am SERIOUSLY passionate about is #EQUALITY. I really believe in people being equal and not judging or classifying another based on their gender, sexual preference, marital status, economic class, career choice, race, ethnicity or even the color of your pee. I just want everyone to live and let live. PICK YOUR BATTLES. It’s so much easier and honestly, MORE FUN.

Well, guess that is about it. I am VERY MUCH doubtful that any of you will respond to kindness or TRUTH AND HONESTY because living behind a computer and fake username and photo to match seems to be easier for you than actually confronting whatever makes your own life unbearable or maybe even fabulous. Bottom line: you could cut me some slack and realize that I just want to see people start to use some manners. Have some free speech, sure. Just don’t feel entitled to attack people. That’s someone’s mom, wife, daughter, husband, cousin, whatever…My husband and I have truly enjoyed your thread tonight and I am sure in the days to come.

Oh & I am definitely NOT a few sandwiches short of any picnic but I can assure you that you would be well fed at my picnic or my kitchen or wherever else…I’m not crazy but I do REFUSE to use the internet to tear another person down and apart. Make sure that when you recap this blog post over dinner or whatever with your families that you also include to your kids that you are every bit as “crazy” as you have called me for wrapping yourself up in this and lurking around the internet where you clearly don’t want to belong and then make certain to quote yourself regarding what you published online making fun of another person.

Better yet, print it out so that your kids have a manual, so they can be just like you one day. In fact, the sooner, the better. That way my kids are sure to have someone BULLY them next year in school. That ought to make things really awesome and memorable for them and me as their mom.

I am just going to say right now, if that were your child or if someone were making fun of you in this way, you would not likely be taking it lying down. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELF!

Also, making fun of a post with pictures of mailboxes…FINE, I can see that. However, READ THE POST FIRST. Its about a child trying to change that world that has PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS. I see absolutely NO HUMOR or HUMANITY in that.

Til’ then, keep on posting your angry hate speech. Whatever makes you feel better and saves you money on healthcare and allows your husband to have to hear you complain less…by all means, publish it online instead.

P.S. In the spirit of keeping things fair here, I will tell you that I do hate something about myself, quite a lot.

1. The size of my rear…yep, like any lady out there, I am STRUGGLING with this right now in my life. Right along with my kids non stop summer bickering…Anyone?!

2. I have no filter generally when it comes to defending people’s rights or being treated with a mutual respect. I know, its annoying.

Also, any of you going to see the movie Tammy this weekend? I can’t wait, it looks like good laughs. I just want to throw this out there…lots of people liked to make comments about Melissa McCarthy and her size. Designers even refused to dress her for awards, etc. Well, I guess good for them for shaming her and really the rest of us curvy ladies but kudos to Melissa for still being insanely funny and absolutely classy about it all.

Regarding my kids riding in their dad’s lap, driving. We were on a COUNTRY LANE to my in-laws we weren’t going a million miles and hour. It’s something that I think every kid has done with their parents, growing up. Much better than the new tradition of handing a 6 year old their own cell phone. Don’t you think?! Also, NONE of our kids have a phone and won’t until they are well into their teens…at best.

By the way, while I may be intense to some…I just see it as living my life and standing up for myself. Funny enough, I am seriously certain that none of you will have the brevity or EVEN HONESTY in your actions to leave your comments here, as opposed to GOMI. GO YOU!

censorship. & instagram.

amerikawI don’t know where to start with this subject but to be honest, I feel there is just so much to cover. That being said, here goes nothing.

Instagram, for myself, has been a beautiful place to share life with others. With each image or video a tiny glimpse into someone’s day and life. Each comment left and received, a community being built and quite honestly; friendships, new and old being made stronger, as well. It also has served as a bridge to close the distance between all of our family and close friends; as we recently moved to West Texas, quite far from almost everyone that we know and love.

In fact, because of Instagram, I was able to reconnect with several people from my childhood, Jr. high and high school years and just today ran into someone I haven’t seen since 9th grade and truly, it just made my day! Hey Jerica! You looked so beautiful today and so full of joy, which I needed in the midst of today’s chaos. J Also, while on vacation I saw another friend from Jr. high, while in Utah, at the zoo. Hi Corina! You also looked beautiful and it was so neat to see you there supporting your family too! I absolutely LOVED running into you that way! You’re still so beautiful!

Motherhood; while absolutely beautiful and gracious in its love, laughter and daily tests and lessons of life and patience; can also be a dark and narrow road, paved with uncertainty and loneliness, with the blessing and at times, worry and responsibility matched by nothing else. There is no break or quitting time.

The gift we offer our children, as mothers is the most precious resource on the planet. A love that only a mother knows and can offer is something beyond explanation or condition. Fathers, of course also offer this love and are fiercely devoted to their offspring as they navigate their world and trips around the sun.

Parenting; is a beautiful calling in life; to be celebrated, respected and explored with brevity, understanding and a very open mind; as we well know our loves will test our patience and boundaries countless times in their 18 years of being nurtured by us. Being completely honest, I am certain that this will continue throughout their lives. Our stress and shock factor, greatly lessened by our ability to be flexible and offer our support and love to them; rather than a wagging finger and nagging words.

No matter the circumstance or task, there is no part of parenting or motherhood that should ever be found unacceptable or calling for suppression, on any level. In fact, if we are to suppress and censor parenting, in all of its reality and beauty; we are to limit our abilities, motivation and inspiration as parents, only viewing and learning, what we are allowed; lessening our courage to march forward on the most challenging of days or time of trial in our lives.

This is CENSORSHIP and a direct infringement upon our 1st amendment rights; extended to us by our citizenship in this country and the receipt of our taxes required to be paid faithfully to the U.S. Government each year. As we are upon the eve of July 4th and the celebration of our nations birth, it hardly seems appropriate for Instagram to receive payment and reward for revoking another person’s NATURAL rights.

As mothers, are we only allowed or expected to display, proudly, our rights to vote?! Breastfeeding is a completely natural and beautiful act that mothers selflessly do to nourish, nurture and strengthen our children. It is no different than a toddler sitting at the table, feeding themselves; while in a public place, among strangers.

The image of a shirtless infant or child is absolutely nothing to objectify or categorize in a sexual manner; nor is it appropriate to demand accusation and suggest poor judgment by another; their parent[s] in particular.

Bellies of babies are beautiful; right along with chubby baby bums, leg rolls and belly laughs and are a freedom only extended to our loves in these naïve days and younger years of their lives. As a mother of three girls, ages 5, 7 and 9; it is a sight that I miss dearly, as I watch the years of their lives marching past me with hurry and chaos.

It is bittersweet to kiss those moments goodbye and yet, so BEAUTIFUL to see another mother breathing in those moments and days, documenting them, while graciously and selflessly, sharing with others; tucking those images away for the days with gray hairs, empty bedrooms and footprints gone; living only in memory.

An Instagram friend, @helloamerikaw / Alexis, woke up this morning to find her account deactivated and her images, yet again, being reported as inappropriate and in violation of the Instagram guidelines and policy. Alexis has never shared a photo that I find offensive or even in question but rather, many BEAUTIFUL, well edited images of poise and grace as she navigates through motherhood. Her sharing of breastfeeding, absolutely tasteful and modest and the images of her sweet Luella; a beautiful child exploring her world and days while surrounded with love and freedom; encouraged by her parents to touch, smell, taste, see and hear her world.

I have seen Instagram; acting without merit or moral conscience; do this far too many times over the past few weeks and months, to mostly mothers, it seems.

@yanpalmer @jesskettle @courtneybabyccino @thegirlsfort #bringbackcissylala

While I offer my support, in keeping our children modest and out of harm’s way; I do NOT offer my support in their childhood being altered or censored because someone can’t control their urge to be snarky, jealous and hateful towards another person and their journey in this life. I am quite doubtful that a person has been legitimately affected or offended. Also, as a grown woman and mature adult; I am fully aware of my rights to look the other way, to not view someone’s feed and to pick my battles in life. My opinion or view of beauty and parenting in this world is unique, only needing approval from those whose little lives I am busy shaping.

If censorship is going to be forced upon us, and what we share, suppressed; I feel this act and violation of our rights is best suited for the nearly naked profiles of teen girls and the million “twerking” video clips I was previously forced to see via the “explore” page. I suppose I am now THANKFUL that I my activity is being monitored, without my permission, I might add; as I can see through my “explore” page now trying to connect me to feeds most like my own and those that I visit and follow already. If censorship is needed anywhere; it would be most appropriate on the feeds that act maliciously with the sole intent to devalue a person, speak poorly of them and further harass them via social media and otherwise. If you aren’t wise to these situations, Google it and you will find that it happened, right here in Texas, as well as other areas of our country. Requiring legal intervention at the request and demand of parents.

I do NOT give INSTAGRAM or a snarky, click happy person; employed by Instagram or of the general public; permission to CENSOR my children’s lives, memories or the sharing of our memories with family and friends; new and old, limiting friendships yet to be had.

I do not wish to see Instagram further ROB any other mothers and children, of these memories, moments and images; entitled to and ABSOLUTELY deserved by them in their giving another person life and nurturing them, selflessly. Including those, whose children are not of their own uterus or specific DNA lineage. A mother should never be expected to or provoked to BEG for their memories or images, belonging ONLY to them, in the first place.

It is time to make accountable, those people who can’t seem to control their jealous ways or negative behaviors. Just as you can see when an image is being reported, maybe begin to look at a person’s behaviors while online. Taking notice and action, if a person seems to be flagging haphazardly and without merit. Let’s be fair in our actions and observations, Instagram. Pretty please.

Please…I ask of you Instagram, with kindness and conviction for humanity and human connection in this technology dominated world; to restore faith and encourage kindness in and for community and to protect the images that have been carefully curated. Please show respect for the lives on display, the marriages saved, recipes shared, travel photos lusted after; putting a restless soul at ease and for the lovely “art” of parenting and connection that so many of us look forward to, love and absolutely crave in our day to day isolation of this 9 to 5 life where time is fleeting, with our lives only marching past us, faster with each day; these memories being all that we will have.

I realize that the very problem I am speaking of could just as easily happen to myself. I certainly hope that will not be the case, as it has been with so many others before now. Also, I can say with absolute certainty that my babies are all too grown and no longer do I have the luxury of breathing in those sweet bellies, rolls and smells of infancy.

Since early this year, I have taken the time to regularly download my images via www.instaport.me / I recommend that the rest of you do the same; often and always.

Also, Instagram, you should well know by now that there is no fury, like a woman scorned. Add to that, a woman, having the title of “MOTHER” and you can count on a war without end and with an army of other women and men standing behind her.

Some years before now, my husband was in a position of high management for Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. and he wanted me to make mention that you would be hard pressed to find an employee of a big box store that would be willing to speak up or keep a woman from breastfeeding. They are a protected group of people, in his words, and rightfully so, we would both like to add. There is absolutely nothing that is UNACCEPTABLE or needing SUPPRESSION in feeding a child and sustaining life.

I am just going to say what no one else dares to and what few really want to hear in the first place. It is time to act our ages. Stop living through eyes that judge others and allowing our jealousy to act in place of our manners. START doing good things in this world; instead of just saying that we will or being so stubborn as to believe that others do not deserve our help and so ignorant, to believe that we will NEVER need it. Let me say from experience and a deeply humble heart, that you WILL need it; when you least expect it.

Live each day as if it were your last. Let those, whom you come upon throughout your day, remember you carrying a smile or acting with a kind gesture. Allow other people’s strengths and weaknesses to encourage and inspire you. You truly can learn something from everyone and everything. Allow yourself to fail; otherwise you will never, ever know, the sweet joy of accomplishing a goal or goals. Remind yourself that not everyone will like you, nor will you prefer their company and that it should never stop you from behaving in a civil manner and being a good example to those younger than you. Do not be an ill-mannered person, further breeding and encouraging bad manners and rude behaviors in our youth. Instead, encourage RESPECT for EVERYONE and EQUALITY for all in this world. Person to person, give to others what you would like to see in return. The golden rule, much abused by many as they take and take and seem to neglect to give those same benefits they are receiving.

Just as these same mothers voices and memories should not and will be forgotten as well. Nor were these very memories and images justified in being taken from them.

Lastly, I wonder how many images are posted on Instagram of the #Nirvana Album titled: #Nevermind. Though these images are not of a unique, intellectual property or ownership to the people posting them; surely they violate the community rights and guidelines of Instagram…NO?! Are these people having their images reported and their accounts deactivated?! It is doubtful, I am absolutely certain. Instead, we celebrate these people for their fine taste in music and we reminisce over our years before now and the memory that music may surround.

It is absolutely time to celebrate each other. Celebrate your daily victories and don’t feel guilty for sharing them with friends and even strangers. Celebrate your failures too, maybe finding motivation through another person who shared to get back on that horse and try, try again.

That being said #bringbackhelloamerikaw // PLEASE & THANK YOU, Instagram!

& @courtneybabyccino @jesskettle @thegirlsfort and all the others…

To all of you reading this; SHARE THIS WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW! Share it on FACEBOOK, INSTAGRAM, PINTEREST, TUMBLR AND EVERYWHERE ELSE THAT YOU CAN! Do not give Instagram or ANYONE, for that matter, the right to choose what you share or to steal your voice, in any capacity! The Bill of Rights is entitled to all of us; regardless of how technology driven, as a society, that we are and no matter how fine or vague the print, presented to us, in the terms of service or community guidelines that we are forced to agree to.

 

 

& the award goes to…

BEST DAD EVER!!

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Here’s the thing. Normally, I just absolutely can’t / won’t do cutesy.

It’s just one of those things that goes against every single fiber of my being.

I am a mom to 3 beautiful daughters. However, our days are not consumed with all things princess, rainbows, butterflies and glitter. Sure, Olivia lives in a castle in her dreams at night but she lives alone and cares for a bazillion animals. That castle has been in her dreams ever since she has been old enough to speak in complete sentences, really. These girls are fearless, tough and intelligent. Truly, they are a force to be reckoned with and the combination of them together in defense, is likely to be deadly. Or at least that’s what we are hoping for one day.

Now, to address the cutesy thing. Last spring [2013] I am not really sure what sparked the idea for trophies but I like to think of this as an exception to my rule. Cutesy chic, maybe?! & who doesn’t love a “best ________ ever award?!”

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These trophies were so fun, easy and inexpensive to make! I do wish that I could and would have shared them with you all sooner but there is always Grandparents Day, birthday parties, school awards and Mother’s & Father’s Day next year. I even made one for my aunt and labeled it “le tour de aunts” / “le tour de france” // Cute.  There I go contradicting myself again.

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I’ve long been in the process of re-doing my blog and finally getting a GOOD GRIP on things. I have finally seen the light of day and here in a few days, a new blog will be up! Along with an online marketplace in the time to follow that; featuring my “House of Tooth” products and a variety of other things; including my recipes and experiences with doTerra Essential Oils and really a variety of natural products & solutions! I’ve been a busy little bee in the past month’s time. Homeschooling our girls has taken a fair chunk of our time and it’s something I will never be regretful of. Also, we took our family vacation a bit early into the summer, visiting all of our family in Wyoming and Utah. It was AMAZING and it’s still every bit as bittersweet and sad to be back home and back to adult obligations and schedules, minus all of those faces we love and miss so very much everyday!

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Anyway, enjoy these sweet little trinkets for Father’s Day! We aren’t much on Hallmark Holidays in this house. It’s more about the everyday living and loving one another, always. So, that being said, no trophies will be given here. We are just going to hang out, enjoy one another’s company and maybe go paint somewhere by the side of the road. That’s for another post. It’s one of our favorite family activities and it’s so relaxing and fun!

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Happiest of Father’s Days to all of you Dads, Grampy’s, Papa’s, Two Pops or whatever other names you go by this year or maybe have for many before. Also, if you are wondering about the trophies awarded to “t-rex”…its my mom, or Nana. It’s also a story for later but we lovingly call her “T-Nana-Saurus Rex” or “T-Rex” for short and she loves it, don’t worry. Love you Mom!

 

P.S. // Though its fun & funny; don’t try to steal our nickname for Nana either…I have a project in the works & you heard it here first! Just asking nicely ahead of time :)

when life gives you lemons…

DSC_8105I wanted to share with you a few images from last year, around this time. I will share the recipe later this week, as I am busy, busycleaning and prepping for my parents to return from Hawaii and come to visit us tomorrow, after their flight lands. My brother is also coming.

Later, I will share with you the story of my family and our journey. My brother and I are new to each other’s lives due to his mom moving away and never telling my dad that she was pregnant and also gave birth to a sonand when you see him, you know, without any doubt, that my dad is the other half of his genetic makeupthey look almost like twins..its crazy.

I can’t believe that I went all my life wishing for a brother, only to actually get one, years later. It’s crazy cool & so amazing for my girls to have an uncle that loves & cares for them so much.

Also, I have truly enjoyed getting to know himthough, there are moments that it is hard.

Mostly, when I act like a jerk and say “my mom & dad” when I know damn well they are also his “mom & dad” as well..it’s just habit & it flies right out of my mouth..but it still feels really bad. Also, I am working hard to remember new special days, like his birthday & to learn all about his “other family” because I know they are also so important to him and we all share him now.

It’s all fairly new to myself and my girlsbut I am just thrilled to have him in my life. FOREVER.

My mom’s birthday is on CINCO DE MAYOor the 5th of May, of course.

Last year, in our planned move to Canada, we were visiting all of our family before our move… & we were so lucky to spend my mom’s birthday and mother’s day with herwe made this pie for her, in celebration of the wonderful woman that she is & how special she is to each of us.

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DSC_8350 and with that..I want to share with you the core of the post I was writingabout life & lemons.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. Our best laid plans can soon be our biggest challenge[s].

When life takes a left turn on a road planned straightit throws us for a loop & leaves us in the lurch. Some may search endlessly for the answer, only to end up frustrated & often upset…

I believe very strongly that our life is not always ours to plan.

Everything happens for a reason. 

Yes. I am another one of those people. An eternal optimist, I am not. Realistic? YES.

I just think that if we were all meant to plan our lives..it would seem certain that our hard work and efforts would offer us a guaranteed reward; preferably of our choosing and to our liking.

We would all be exceptionally happy, all the time, no matter what..

Certainly, no one would choose to face the struggles & challenges they are presented with… Wouldn’t we all plan a life free of upset or disaster..filled with peace, life, love and laughter for ourselves and those we love and hold dear to usworld peace would surely exist..

I want to share with you a favorite quote of mine..

It was shared with me a few seasons agowhile deep in conversation with the CEO of the company my husband worked for at the time. This man became a friend to myself and my husband & gave me much inspiration and motivation each time that we had a conversation. The quote is taken from Crime and Punishment, a book written by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.        Mr. Dostoyevsky had a most beautiful way of communicating through words the social, spiritual and political upset and psychology of the people in the world and their behaviors.

He lived a life riddled with the ups and downs life offers & much unexpected circumstance…  Working as an engineer, journalist & obviously being spoken of; as a great and highly accomplished writer and psychologist of literature, across the world. His ways of progressive thinking also led him to be imprisoned & at one time sentenced to death. This sentence was later commuted to 4 years of hard labor, which ended due to his onset & signs of epilepsy.

“Suffering is part and parcel of extensive intelligence and a feeling heart.”

I feel there is much to be said of this statement and also of the man who wrote it.

Sometimes we think we know another person..or we think we truly know ourselves..

We go about our day..making assumptions about ourselves or about others and their lives; without permission or literal justification in doing so. Often times, not taking accountability for our actions or further realizing or fixing the hurt or upset this may cause another person..

In more recent years I have been challenged by many things; my health, the most significant. During these times of stress, upset and physical illness, I have struggled often with my mental stabilitieshowever, now also having a feeling heart, soul & a patience as never before.

There is so much to be gained from & said of our lives, in every aspect and opportunity… Beginning & ending with our perspective & the connections we allow ourselves with others..

If you extend yourself to share your heart, soul and mind with othersthe reward will be felt   & seen in the greatest depths of your soul. It will undoubtedly change your life & perspective.

I can speak to the truth of this..because I have lived, seen and felt it for myself. 

Life gave me lemons….[as it does to everyone, at some point during their life here on Earth.]

..& for a short while, I allowed them to be squeezed in my eyes and cause pain to my skin. Blinded completely to all the things going on around me or inside of my heart and my brain.     Slowly recognizing the consequence I may have caused for myself or another person.

The end note here, is this; Yes, life will throw you a curve ball or squeeze lemons in your eyes. Obviously, we can’t predict or foresee our futurenegotiating for a better outcome or situation. We can, however, negotiate our current & daily life, through our choices every single day.

I plan to offer myself the opportunity of a positive perspective and to actively seek change both of and for myself and for the world around me..being mindful of others in my journey.

I will be accepting of these lemons that come my way and use them as tool to gain strength.

After all, it is through suffering that we build character and learn about ourselves, at our core.

At this point, I would not trade my past for anything; regardless of any pain, upset or failure. My joy that I seek and find in my new everyday..would not be nearly as sweet, without it.

All my best. Im off to do dishes with my helpful husband [who I am so thankful for!]

#throwback

Pardon my dust. A blog redesign is definitely a must. Yep, I like to rhyme..now and then.

That’s what happens when you have 3 kids. You identify with others through rhyming and talk of constant sleep deprivation.

In light of my last post and the world of the internet and social media & connections.. I thought it fitting to say how thankful I am for connections via social media. Strangers, often turning into friends; relationships formed. Gone are the days of meeting someone at a playdate or the market.

I have been so fortunate to have someone connect me, through Instagram; with someone seriously wonderful, to do some sprucing up of my blog… SoI am pretty excited about that, as well as other things Tis the season for spring cleaningand new beginnings.

I have truly about a million photos of my family to sharemy loves, as I often call them. & I intend to share frequently hereeven the oldies. Those are still the goodies..in my mind. #throwbackthursday all the way people! I will never tire of seeing these faces, seeing their smiles and remembering the laughter in the moment.

IMG_4010 | Summer 2013 | Visiting Utah | Olivia, driving with Dad |

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 | Summer 2013 | Visiting Utah | Ella, driving with Dad |

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| Summer 2013 | Visiting Utah | Savannah, driving with Dad |

I found these while searching for a video that my husband recorded this past summer.. With “Two Pops”[you can learn about his nickname here.] Anywaywhen I find the videos..I cant wait to share them.

One was filmed back in 1970 and others before then & some of them don’t have sound. One of them, a video of Two Pops and his Beautiful Bride, Colleen, on their Wedding Day. I am just so thankful for having this video & glimpse into how our family started… “back in the day” as our middle daughter, Ella would say.

Enjoy these little snippets of our life. Everytime I come across these little moments, I have tucked away.. I just can not imagine traveling this journey in life, with any other people.

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| summer 2013 | date night while visiting Utah | SLC . UTAH |

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| Spring Break . 2013 | Ella & Olivia Playing Dress – Up | Midland . Texas |

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| Cupcake Math | My Homeschool Math Activity that the girls love |

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| The girls with my “Grampy” | Summer 2013 in Wyoming visiting family |

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| Canada . 2013 | Kisses after Date Night | I love him. |

Processed with VSCOcam with g3 presetA glimpse into our kitchen, currently… | Midland . Tx | Where we make memories |

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| Summer | Utah . 2013 | Savannah’s “camera” “hotel room key” & “comment card” |

“I never had to choose a subject – my subject rather chose me.” \\ Ernest Hemingway

American Blogger

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I had wanted to journal this entire post by hand but gave in after my handwriting gave out. My apologies in advance to anyone that can’t read my scribbles and loopy loops..

Anyone that is any bit familiar with blogging or the online world, will likely have an understanding or knowledge regarding the backlash, uproar…whatever you want to call it;
associated with American Blogger; a film by Christopher Wiegand.

I suppose what sparked my desire to speak out is the way that so many people acted; almost immediately and without reason..having not even seen the film in its entirety…
a “trailer” acting as their sole justification for being ill mannered and disrespectful.

I am not friends with Chris or Casey Wiegand, nor do I personally know any of the bloggers featured in the film. Though some of them are from Utah and reading their blogs and seeing their photos, brings my family comfort, joy and a connection..as we are living away from “home.”

As a 30 year old woman, wife, mother, friend, daughter, photographer, writer, creator, consumer, etc.;

I am deeply committed to, invested in and connected with our modern world, online;
with no hope or intention for this to end anytime soon, if ever.

Admittedly, its almost a double standard for my husband and myself;
as we desire to raise our family in a most simple and uncomplicated way.

A notion of being modern day “hippies” ever present in our efforts in raising our young family.
Limiting our children’s exposure to technology, believing in natural and homeopathic treatments, educating our three children from our home, sharing with them a spiritual connection to their world.

Trying, sometimes in vain…to give them a childhood we once had; one that builds character, if you will. A childhood, free of the online world; filled with fresh air to breathe and a backyard to run and play in.

Memories to make…to sustain them, as they do for myself, currently; in the years when they are older, more wise and most certainly no longer free to just see where the day takes them…
Without compromise, consequence or negligence of “grown-up” priorities.

I have looked forward to seeing “American Blogger” from the time it was announced, last year.
Having a deep respect & appreciation for these bloggers, who share their lives, their loves and so much..
Celebrating with them, their successes and even feeling their disappointments, failures or heartbreaks…

My reasons for watching American Blogger, with such anticipation are many…
Feeling grateful, as a mother; who works from home and is new to the West Texas Landscape….
for the familiarity that it brings and the connection to the outside world; particularly on a hard day.
I am so excited, as a person, new-ish..to the “industry” of blogging, again…
Feeling hopeful and that it is possible to begin sharing my images and stories, again.
Most importantly, looking forward to being part of a community again; at a time when I need it most.
Anxious for change & growth, that “we” as a community & progressive thinkers; may bring the WORLD.

I dont even know that it is appropriate or necessary to touch on the specific and honestly, negative things that were said about this film; because for myself; the GOOD most certainly outweighs the bad

Certainly, I dont want to discount that people felt it didnt represent a group of people, diverse enough.

However, I believed & thought.. just maybe, as a society; we had finally gotten past that categorization.
Though I may be naive in my thoughts & ways of living.I believe with all certainty; that we are all people.

EQUAL. Nothing less and nothing more.

Each of us a representative of our family, faith, home, our parenting, dietary choices and even sexuality.

I realize, the freedom to choose our sexuality may be an issue for others…it is not for me.

Love is love, no matter who you love or how.
Another person or people, need not understand, analyze or judge this.
I’ve come to discover that some things aren’t meant to be understood by everyone or at the same time. Its one of the beautiful gifts we are given in this world.
To navigate the world around us, as we are able. No two people on the same journey.

We are blessed to live in a country that allows us to make these choices and stand proudly beside them. We are blessed with the freedom to share our stories, images and words with others; in many forums.
If we, as people, neighbors in our nation; would stop judging, offering constant opinion and policing one another…we could truly learn & grow, appreciating and valuing our neighbors, as people.

People, who are equal to one another; each of us bringing something beautiful to the world.

Even those who make mistakes [AHEM, EVERYONE!], have something to offer to humanity.

Humility, perhaps?! I double dog dare you to add this notion to your emotional spectrum.

I want to believe in my heart that we can be a nation of free and progressive thinkers.
An ability and choice to “pick our battles” when it comes to confronting others and hurting them.
Acting as adults, most of the time ;)
& less like children; pointing fingers & calling names at what we don’t understand or agree with.

As with any creative endeavor, there is a spot in our soul and place in our life;
from which this inspiration and these ideas resonate…
& because we are each in a different season, no less important than another person’s…

We may not always understand this or even see the same curiosities & purpose in life.
No two connections we make will be the same & expectations may or may not be met.

It’s all in our own personal perspective at the time. This is something we must be ACCOUNTABLE for.

I am doubtful that Chris did not sit down & make a list of whom was worthy, or not; of an interview…
& honestly, who is to say that others did not decline or not have the time available in their schedule?

For those who are mad…would you be his biggest cheerleader, had you been included in this project?! We all know it would be unrealistic; both physically and financially to chronicle each and every blogger in the country. Presently, we all have a blog. There is an entire Disney show about a dog who blogs & you can barely seek employment without an online presence of some sort to represent your “brand.”

It feels to me that it happened rather organically…and without absolute malice or ill intention.

A man, watching his family & his marriage; grow and change in ways he never imagined.

A beautiful woman, his wife and best friend; doing amazing things and forming relationships online.
Changing lives & the way we communicate and connect.

This “blog”, The Wiegands… a visual and tangible “timestamp” of the family he and his wife had created.
A community, of PEOPLE, surrounding & surrounded by; his wife and his family;
forever changing them and breathing life into their souls during trying times.

We all walk a different path in life; meeting new people, experiencing many things.
None of us free of circumstance or consequence in life.

The commitment Chris made to this film; mentally, physically and financially is beautiful.
The commitment made by his wife and young children should also not be discounted.
I know, as do my children; how very trying these days apart can be.
My family spent the better part of 2013 with their dad or mom in Canada, preparing for our move.
The longing of a child or children, for their parent[s] is the loneliest voice you will ever hear;
the longest face you will see and the deepest, most lonely eyes you will ever gaze upon….

We can never capture in still photography, the voice of another or the way they smelled…
Video and filmmaking allow us to place a face with its soul, a heart and a voice.
It is a HUMAN CONNECTION, that we so desperately crave and desire in this world.
It stirs the soul and resonates with us in ways we could never have planned in advance for.

Time is absolutely fleeting. We must steal these moments as we can and tuck them away, safely.
A blog is a wonderful and beautiful way for us to do this for ourselves and for others….
My mother in law is afforded the opportunity to sit at our dinner table and play with our girls…
Even though, she is clear in Utah; 1500 miles and too many days away.

Another mother will fall in love with her children or maybe her own mother or spouse again…
After reading a blog; or many and remembering what it is we wake each day for.
We must fall in love with our own each and every day, even when the going truly gets tough.

Sharing and connecting with others in the blogging world and any online capacity is a wonderful way to accomplish this. Someone else’s story and smiles, sneak up on us and into our hearts…
Serving as a constant reminder, to live what we have “pinned” & always be more kind than is necessary.

I suppose one of the last thoughts I would like to offer is this…

As an artist, you are engrained with this need and capacity to create.
Seeing the world through rose colored glasses, when others see destruction and a clouded sky.

& sometimes, no matter how hard we labor in our efforts to create and evoke emotion and connection;
For some, it will never be enough and they will never understand or offer to you their approval.
It is not that your efforts fall upon deaf ears or cold hearts;
it is just that we simply can’t appeal to, or please every single person.
Otherwise, we would not be following our journey, our truth and the path God has chosen for us.

To Chris & Casey; I will never forget the day your blog changed my life & the connection it made.
In 2011, you blogged about quitting your job and being in the negative with your checking account; sharing a screen shot for us to see; completely ready & confident to face what God presented you with.

Just a few months after this post, my life turned upside down…our lives as a family turned together.
A series of changes became our everyday; several moves & scares with my health.
Including a staph infection, acquired in the hospital during my required hysterectomy.
An ulcer would follow, with several other challenging up & downs…
With our family literally living homeless for the better part of 2013, due to some job changes,
An international move, that we eventually decided just was not right for us;
Ending presently, with us landing in Midland, Texas; where we know NO ONE, in the Early Fall of 2013.

I hope that others can take from the later part of my post; our family’s struggles and absolute grateful hearts, as well. For any and everything can always be worse than it is, presently.
& sometimes, if you don’t have something nice to say, than just don’t say anything at all.
American Blogger may not have appealed to or sat well with you but it certainly wasn’t a film making fun of anyone or discounting any one person, race, religion or otherwise..

Put away your stubborn hearts and preconceived notions, let love in & give peace a chance.

Otherwise, how else can we ever expect to change the world for our children…

All my best \\ Air

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