A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

While I am by no means a professional photographer, if you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you know that I have a passion for capturing moments on film. I love pictures. I love taking them. I love posting them. I love looking at them. Period. I suppose I got this from my mother, who also shares this “addiction.” And when I say, “addiction,” I mean “addiction.” I think she’s had more cameras then purses! Well…maybe not that many, but you catch my drift.

Last weekend, my mom and I had the opportunity to go to a FREE photography class at the Figge Art Museum called “Beyond the Snapshot – The Art of Building and Creating Fine Photographs.” There were several presenters including local news photographers and teachers. Here are some tidbits that I took away from our session…

A Good Photo:

Tells. A good photo tells a story. These are my favorite kind of photos, thus, probably ones that I take the most of.

A little boy's first hockey game.

A little boy’s first hockey game.

The story of a boy and a dog.

The story of a boy and a dog.

We know the story unfolding here!

We know the story unfolding here!

Teaches. A good photo teaches us about something when we look at it. Most of the photographs shared at our class taught us about the art of photography and gave me ideas about how to take photography to the next level.

Balloons taking off at the Balloon Festival

Balloons taking off at the Balloon Festival

A monarch butterfly. Makes me think of first grade in Mrs. Duty's class learning all about the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly!

A monarch butterfly. Makes me think of first grade in Mrs. Duty’s class learning all about the transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly!

Running with daddy...

Running with daddy…

Touches. A good photo reaches out and touches. It touches your emotions, your thoughts…Perhaps this is where the phrase “a picture worth a thousand words comes from?”

One of my all time favorite moments captured by my mom of my Grandma, Phoenix and I.

One of my all time favorite moments captured by my mom of my Grandma, Phoenix and I.

I don't know if I'll ever grow old of this photo.

I don’t know if I’ll ever grow old of this photo.

The Golden Rule of Thirds
This rule suggests that an image should be imagined as being divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally spaced vertical lines. Important compositional elements (or photo subjects) should be placed along these lines or intersections.


An example of a picture using the Rule of Thirds the right way.

An example of a picture using the Rule of Thirds the right way.

Work at taking photographs from different angles. Try taking a picture from down low…from up above…move the lense so it is at an angle to the picture you are taking.

This is a tough one…you have to be patient to get a great picture. This is especially true when you’re working with the subjects like I normally have – kids and dogs! Oh and the grandparents too! Just kidding, but seriously, why is it when you get the babies looking, the grandparents never are? Oh well…I digress…




The BEST camera is the one that you have on you.

I thought this was so interesting coming from photographers who use thousands of dollars worth of lenses and cameras daily. However,

“It’s not the camera that makes the photo, it is the photographer.” 

Some examples of me using the camera I have “on me.” My phone! Ready to get an iphone though – just for the camera! lol

My new favorite picture...

My new favorite picture…

Reading under the Christmas tree...Sometimes you can catch a moment just perfectly!

Reading under the Christmas tree…Sometimes you can catch a moment just perfectly!

While I still have lots to explore on my camera to figure out what all those symbols and acronyms stand for, I at least have some background in the artistry of photography which is a start! Many more photographs to come!

Top 10 Reasons Why We Are Currently ‘Okay’ With Co-Sleeping…


Yes. You read that right. Our son is 3, and we’re okay with the fact that he currently is sleeping with us. After some brief contemplation and decision to write this to make myself feel better and laugh, here are the Top 10 Reasons Brad and I are comfortable and accepting of this fact:

1. Key word = current. Phoenix hasn’t always slept in our bed…nor will he always sleep in our bed in the future. Like all other “trials” we have faced with raising our bouncing baby boy, this too shall pass and won’t last forever.

Catching some zzz's within the first few weeks after arrival!

Catching some zzz’s within the first few weeks of being a new mommy.

2. We go to sleep every night and wake up every morning next to the people (and animal) who mean most to us in our lives.

Brad and his boys...resting while they could.

Brad and his boys…resting while they could.

3. We appreciate each other more. I was always that sleeper that fell asleep or ended up wrapping myself around Brad during my sleep. Phoenix has clearly inherited this trait from me. I appreciate Brad for putting up with this for so long over the past years! Additionally, when I leave in the morning, and Phoenix then wraps himself on top of Brad’s sleeping head, Brad can then appreciate everything I have been through for the past hours.

4. More Sleep. Believe it or not, I go to bed earlier now than when Phoenix slept in his own crib/bed. By the time I would finally get him to sleep, showered and packed up for the next day, I always felt frustrated because I had no “me” time. Now, we still have a routine for bed, but as I have my “me time” reading or catching up on the ipad, it’s just happening lying next to my son.

Reading with my boys before bed!

Reading with my boys before bed!

5. Less Fighting. Sometimes, it seemed our time before bed was always a fight. We’d fight to get a bath, fight to put on jammies, fight to go to bed. I would be exhausted and before long, it seemed Brad and I would be fighting about fighting putting our son to bed. SO NOT WORTH IT! There have only been a couple times when voices were raised in the evening hours since switching to our current circumstances.

Daddy and mini me catching some zzz's...

Daddy and mini me catching some zzz’s…

6. Phoenix is a night owl. Brad is a night owl. I. AM. NOT. Need I say more?

Enjoying a Friday night in with my crazy night owl!

Enjoying a Friday night in with my crazy night owl!

7. There’s going to be a day when Phoenix isn’t going to want to snuggle with mommy, play with my hair and tell me he loves me. Today,however, is not that day.

Sleeping on mommy...favorite weekend nap spot.

Sleeping on mommy…favorite weekend nap spot.

8. Less Stress. Brad continually said to me, “I don’t know why you keep stressing about him sleeping in here!?” He didn’t care what everyone else did, and couldn’t understand why I kept obsessing over it. He only cared about what worked for us. Our son was happy. He seems like a pretty “normal, adjusted and fairly independent child” during the day. We were happy to get sleep. So why stress? 

Someone who clearly never stresses about the whole sleeping situation!

One person never stresses about sleep in our house. I’ll let you guess who…

9. We’re like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!” And who doesn’t LOVE “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” I mean, Charlie’s GRANDPARENTS shared a bed for goodness sake, surely us sharing our bed with our young son isn’t worse than that, right?

Again - no one has to ask Kyson to go to bed more than once!

What? You mean you actually have to tell kids to go to sleep? Sounds ridiculous!

10. More of the Same…While endlessly obsessing, researching and ranting about this night time struggle in our lives, I grew to realize there seemed to be more people in our boat or that had BEEN in our boat than those who were not. WE ARE NOT ALONE!

Just like little boys like super heroes...some like to sleep with their mommy and daddy too.

Just like some little boys like super heroes…some like to sleep with their mommy and daddy too.

So, did I EVER think I would let our child sleep in our bed? NO. Funny thing is, when you actually have a child of your own, you realize how much of a survivalist you are. You start doing WHATEVER you can to get by. Everyone has their limits, but they can decide what they are.

There comes a time when  man realizes sleep must come anyway it can...

There comes a time when man realizes sleep must come any way it can…

Phoenix will not be our baby forever, just like he didn’t breastfeed forever, have a pacifier forever or wear a diaper forever. He will also NOT BE IN OUR BED FOREVER. However, whether he decides tonight, next week or next month if he’s going to sleep in his own bed or ours, we’ve decided to be “OKAY” with that for now…

Make Ahead Freezer Meals…It’s So Cool…

It’s true. We are some of “those people” who make ahead freezer meals.  While we don’t eat them EVERY night, they are a lovely option when I don’t want to waste time thinking about and cooking a healthy family dinner.

Last year, Brad and I attended a couple clean cooking classes through our gym, which were awesome. They were taught and prepared at Hy-Vee. We really liked the prep classes because meals were paleo style and healthy, which basically means they did NOT include and pastas, rice, etc. This helped serve my thinking for home prep later on. Although these classes are still continuing once a month, we can’t always make the class and budget factors in as well. In November, I got to thinking that maybe I could create my own clean meals as well. It’s actually not as hard/time consuming as it sounds. Most of my combinations include minimal ingredients. I also, cook them in a skillet once they have thawed. I add sides to them as needed the night of (depending on what we have and what people want!)

My sister and I completed a Sam’s run just the other day, and while we were in line, she asked me some questions about my meal prep, so hopefully her questions (answered) will help you should you decide to try and take this leap of faith!

My MUST HAVES for “make ahead” meals and “clean meal” prep:

- Gallon Freezer Bags. (Invest in some decent ones – although currently I have been using generic Target brand!)

- Permanent Marker. For labeling the bags.

- A good knife or two and a cutting board.

- Table or counter space. (Although, as you can see by my pictures, I make due!)


Literally what my counter looks like during one of my prepping sessions!

- Ipad, tablet, tv, computer, radio. I set up my Ipad like a little t.v. and have some of my netflix shows going at the same time so I can catch up on some of “my t.v.” vs. Phoenix shows!

- Olive oil.

- Your top favorite seasonings. Garlic, onion powder, tumeric, cumin, rosemary…(Personally, I could not do without my Tastefully Simple Seasonings. They are simply the best! If you want to try them – start with Rustic Herb Seasoning, Garlic Garlic and Fiesta Party Spice – These are used sometimes daily in our house!)


My “go to” spices.

- Veggies/Sides. Easy ones include baby carrots – I choose these because you don’t have to cut them!, onions, peppers, zucchini, potatoes, broccoli, veggies, and whatever type of veggies you prefer.) Corn would probably be good, but since Brad cannot eat corn due to his Crohn’s, that is a side I reserve for just Phoenix and I.

- Fruits. I use pineapple and apples in some of my recipes to add some sweetness.

- The meats. You could use chicken breasts, chicken thighs (I use skinless), pork chops, fish, ground meat, steak, etc. etc…

- Oh yea – Recipes. I usually scroll through pinterest and my recipe cards, but do whatever works for you!

Where to shop?
Honestly, Sam’s is the place for me, but that’s because I can get a lot at once there. I usually always get my chicken breast, chicken thighs, fish and whole chickens there. They have hormone/cage-free whole chickens there that are great to use (2 per a package). Hy-Vee, as well as Aldi’s are also my other “go-to” stores.

Where to Begin?
Hopefully, before you went to the store, you thought about some meals you like or would like to make ahead of time. Personally, I do not shop and make my meals on the same day. Too overwhelming. The day of, get your list (or an idea in your head) of the meals you want to try and prep/make. Honestly, I usually do this in my head because sometimes I change my mind as I’m going through chopping and mixing spices – but that’s just me!

First Things First?
Get all your ingredients out and organized – except for the meat! You will save this for last. I make a grouping of spices, bags/marker, and veggies. Now is also a good time to start your music or show if you plan to have that going! If you know the exact meals you’re making, you may want to just label your bags now before food goes in. However, if you’re like me  - like I said – you might not know what kind of meals you’re coming up with!

You can use bowls/plates/whatever to make your piles of peppers/onions/veggies/fruits.

Putting It All Together
Usually, I dump in the veggies/fruits/spices/olive oil first. I kind of get an assembly line going of stacked up bags. I just eye ball, what I think would be enough for us. Once I get them all lined up, I clean up/move all those items out of the way. I have to make room for the meat! You want to do one meat at a time because of cross contamination. Also, I try and have the garbage can out to throw stuff away so I don’t have to touch doors/etc. Some people opt to use gloves when cutting meat. I do not. However, I wash my hands LOTS of times, because I don’t want to touch chicken and then other things. Once it’s all in the bag, I seal it and squish all the ingredients together.


Some meals just waiting to be thrown in the freezer!

How to cut?
I sometimes leave my chicken breasts whole, but you could also cut them into chicken bites, strips, etc. Same goes with the chicken thighs.

After cutting – dump them into your bags, zip, seal and freeze!

The glory of these type of meals, is that you can add sides if you want, but if you think in your head, “meat and veggies, you can add any combination of items that sound good to you.

Child Household Top Make Ahead Meal Options:

Roasted Veggies and Chicken
- Chicken (strips, breast or thighs)
- Carrots/Zucchini/Vegetables of choice
- Onion
- Peppers
- Olive Oil and Seasoning (Tastefully Simple’s Rustic Herb Seasoning is great for this!)

Coconut Chicken Nuggets
- Cut up chicken breasts (simply freeze these until  you need them)
- Shake them in coconut flour the day of (after they’ve thawed)
- Fry them up in some olive/coconut oil

-Ground Beef
- Egg
- Onion
- Tomato Paste, Mustard
- Olive Oil and Seasoning
- Squish together…It’s great to do a big batch of this because you could make one big loaf for meatloaf, and another loaf for meat balls. Just wait until it thaws to make them into the meatballs.

Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot
- 1 whole chicken
- Carrots
- Potatoes
- Apples (I love to stuff these in the chicken and put around in the crockpot)
- Onions
- Olive Oil and Seasonings (Again, I use rustic herb, garlic, barbeque, rosemary a lot with these)
- Put a little water in bottom, and cook all afternoon.
- This usually lasts us two meals, and then I will pick the chicken off and make either chicken salad or chicken pot pie with the remaining chicken so nothing gets wasted!

What’s the Hardest Part?
The hardest part with meal prep is honestly remembering to take the meals out of the freezer the night before or day of. I use a dry erase calendar on my fridge to list out our meals for the week. Do we always stick to it? No. But it at least helps us a majority of the time!

Do you have any favorite freezer meals? I’d love to hear!

Hi, I’m Phoenix, and I’m Three!


That’s Me! Phoenix…and I’m Three!

My favorite things include, but are not limited to:

  • Playing/antagonizing my older fur-brother, Kyson. I love to give him hugs, pull his tail, sit on him, slip him food and boss him around.
  • Running chaotically through the house pushing my shopping cart. Please note, most often this takes place after 8:00 p.m. Also, I love using my shopping cart as a step stool and launching pad.
  • Playing “kick” in the hallway with daddy (and sometimes mommy). This consists of me kicking my Cars ball as hard as possible down the hall and off the wall.
  • Wearing my mask…to dinner, to parties, to bed.
  • Lounging in a variety of pajama pants. I prefer to mismatch the tops and bottoms and would wear pajamas everywhere if I could!
  • Wearing my mittens inside and outside!
  • Wearing crocs no matter the weather.
  • Building and working with Daddy.
  • Reading “Blue Hat, Green Hat” as well as “He’s Got the Whole World In His Hands” by myself.
  • Writing with any type of pencil/pen and paper…preferably – a notebook, but I used to enjoy writing with a pen and checkbook so much that I would take it to bed with me.
  • Opening the bathroom door the second mommy or daddy go in their to use the bathroom.
  • Sleeping in mommy and daddy’s bed. Daddy says we’re like the “Charlie and the Chocolate” family. Mommy says she just wants sleep! I think Daddy has officially convinced mommy to stop reading sleep articles of what’s right and wrong, and to just do whatever works so that we ALL get a good night’s sleep!
  • Speaking of sleep…as I turn three, my general bedtime falls around 9:00 – 10:00 p.m. Startling, right? I know!

Random Facts as I turn the Big Three!

  • I love visiting the zoo and feeding the giraffes in the summer!
  • Watching any of the following: “Curious George,” “Batman,” “Clifford,” “Caillou,” (mommy hates that whiny kid!) and most recently “Jake the Pirate” on the Ipad or Netflix is pretty normal.
  • My favorite movies over the past months have included, “The Lorax,” “Horton Hears a Who,” “Toy Story,” “Planes,” “Frozen,” “The Sandlot,” “Elf,” “Finding Nemo,”  and “Cars.”
  • I will do anything for a miniature marshmallow! It worked so well for potty training, that mommy and daddy bribe me with one every once in a while still!
  • I love cookies.
  • I love ice cream.
  • I love pancakes.
  • I also love pomegranate seeds and pickles – but not together!
  • A “no-fail” dinner option for me is always a peanut butter and honey sandwich with greek yogurt.
  • I tend to get obsessed with some type of object (pencil, cards, paper, book, toy) and carry that to bed with me. It doesn’t matter if it’s soft or not, it instantly becomes my bedtime companion!
  • One time, I had a meltdown in the tub because daddy wouldn’t let me take a pencil in it with me.
  • I have tumbled down the stairs in our house approximately one time from the very top. They are not carpeted and the floor is cement below. Miraculously, nothing was broken, and I was fine. Mommy, however, is still traumatized.
  • I can’t wait for the weather to get nice so I can get back to riding my lawn mower again!
  • I can “plank” in the bathtub.
  • My favorite place to eat is Azteca, and I LOVE chips and salsa!
  • I just started school this August and love being at Charger Child Care!

There’s so much more to add, but here are some pictures instead! Can’t believe how much our baby has grown and shown us so much love and joy these past three years!

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Top 13 Stories of 2013

Did that really happen? Did 2013 really come and go just like that? It’s funny how much you forget about a year, until you stop and think about it…(or look back at your Facebook pictures like I did!) Sure, you remember the big things, but there are lots of little moments that were also a big hit you don’t want to forget about.

Here are the Top 13 Stories of 2013 from the Child family! (In no particular order really)

1. Sledding and Snow Adventures -


Between last year’s winter and this winter, Phoenix has really started to participate in the joys of snow! Whether it was sledding, building snowmen or having a snowball fight with Daddy and Uncle B, he was happy to be outside playing!


First Snow Man December 2013




All dressed to go look at Christmas lights!

2. Niabi Zoo Visits & Boo at the Zoo -


The Niabi Zoo continued to be a fan favorite this year for Phoenix, Mommy and Daddy! Move over train ride, however – Phoenix has a new love…It’s feeding the giraffes! He loved to feed the giraffes when we were there and would even feed them on his own! In 2013, Phoenix also attended “Boo at the Zoo” for the first time. He was able to go trick or treating in his Buzz Light Year costume at the zoo. While he was a little shy at first, he soon overcame that once he realized candy was being handed out.


First time feeding the giraffes!


Riding the train at the Zoo!


Boo at the Zoo – 2013!


A beautiful day at the zoo with Gram!

3. Combine Rides -


Although Phoenix has seen tractors and combines before at the John Deere Center, he was able to take his first ride in a combine this summer! Uncle Jim took Mommy and Phoenix for a ride in the big green combine! Phoenix was in disbelief, but enjoyed every minute of it! He was super excited to find that Santa left him his own big combine this Christmas as well!


Phoenix loves riding his tractor in his new yard!

4. Baby Irelynn


On July 18th, baby Irelynn entered our world which meant it was time for pink, ruffles and bows! We are so excited to be an aunt and uncle again! Phoenix immediately fell in love with baby Irelynn and has done a pretty awesome job as playing the “big cousin” role! We predict many fun days ahead with these two and love that we are so nearby and can see her (and her parents) often!




5. A New Home!


After a crazy whirl wind of putting our house up for sale and making a contingent offer on a new house, and one very stressful week, we closed and moved into our new home! We are so happy in our new digs! Although there are a few cosmetic changes inside we will work on (ahem…pink tile and carpet in the bathroom/kitchen), we couldn’t have asked for a better place – for all of us! There is a huge front yard and back yard for Phoenix and Kyson to play in…big driveway for bike riding and side walk chalk, and garage space! Hallelujah! There is even a tree to hang an old tire swing that once hung at my grandma and grandpa’s. All of this, and we are away from a busy street and train tracks! I’d say we’re pretty lucky and happy to say the least! :)


The boys enjoying our new back yard!


We’re not sure who loves the new yard better – Phoenix or Kyson!


Helping Daddy paint the new living room.


6. We Became Vanimals


Swagger Wagon

With the price of diesel and upkeep, Brad decided to sell the diesel and get a work van. That meant he would need to drive my corolla to take Phoenix to school, etc. So…Momma got a van too! This was totally unplanned! Brad decided to get his van on a Friday, we looked up a van online Saturday morning and ended up buying my Toyota Sienna (aka swagger wagon) by lunch that day! Crazy! We are so happy with being vanimals though…Phoenix digs it too. Now everyone says we need to fill it up! Ha! We’ll see!


Road tripping in the swagger wagon.

7. Charger Child Care


In August, Phoenix started Charger Child Care (aka – “school!”) in our books. Since starting there, he has made new friends and really expanded his vocabulary! Each week, we are amazed at the new projects he makes and things he is learning. He loves his teachers and it feels good to know he continues to be in good hands while mommy and daddy are away at work.


First School Picture- CCC 2013.

8. BPC Painting…Now…Finishing!


Phoenix supervising Daddy’s tiling project.

Brad’s business has continued to grow and has moved beyond painting! He has really enjoyed getting to expand his trade, working on such things as tiling, cabinetry, construction and more. This has served well for our new home as well! :) I am happy pinning things on pinterest and watching them become a reality through his work.


Tiling project.


Vanity Remodel/Install

9. The Sourhada Wedding!


First dance as a new family!

In October, Brad’s sister, Sarah, married Darrell! We were all in the wedding, and this time, Phoenix actually made it down the wedding aisle! If you remember, last year in October he had a broken arm before Mollie’s wedding and we barely made it to the ceremony! It was a beautiful day at Rivermont Collegiate and I know they will have a beautiful life together.


Surprise engagement dinner – May 2013!


Walking down the aisle with his sign.1392465_668839589806923_1645468336_n



10. Go Big Red – Medieval Style!


In the spring of 2013, we took a family “vacation” to see Medieval Times in Schaumburg. We had a blast cheering for our knight! Phoenix especially loved the sword fighting, and walked away with his own light up sword compliments of Gram. He continues to love to play sword fights in the living room with Daddy.


11. Cars Cars Cars


During the summer, we hit up several car shows. Phoenix loved the cars, and so did Daddy…Mommy liked the cars, but really enjoyed spending her time people watching! We went to the Monmouth car show (which was ginormous!) as well as the Orion Fall Festival car show and Cancer Can Kiss My Ass car show. Papa Child had his car in a couple of the shows even too!


Phoenix often created his OWN car shows at home!


12. Cancer Can Kiss My A$$ – Beat the Big O!


Night to Beat The Big O – September 2013

Speaking of that, a huge story of 2013 would be my mom getting a clean bill of health after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer and treated  during 2013. While her surgery took place in October 2012, her chemo treatment continued into 2013. She is doing very well and has said good bye to her three famous wigs – Lu, Roxy and Paula. We still like to put them on every once in a while though. She continues to be our health watcher and keeps us up to date on ways to beat cancer and live healthy. We are so glad she beat the big O and is happy and healthy!


Vino Van Gough


Gilda’s Run 2013


Back in Chi-town – OYSY – December 2013

13. No Broken Bones or Major Surgeries!


While I type this, I am certain I will jinx myself…however in 2013, the Child family had NO broken bones or major surgeries, and for THAT we are THANKFUL! Between ear tubes, broken arms, crohn’s treatment and thyroid scans in 2012, Brad and I have been very thankful to have a somewhat calm medical year in 2013…We are lucky to have our health and hope to keep it that way!


Brad completing “Murph” September 2013.


Crossfit Bond Community.

So there you have it! The top 13 stories from our family to yours! What was your top 13 stories of 2013? Please share or at least think about what you would put on your list…you might be surprised!



November…A Month to Say Thank You

By definition, to “thank” reads -

1. to express gratitude, appreciation, or acknowledgment to: She thanked them for their hospitality.

2. thank God, (used interjectionally to express relief, thankfulness, etc.) Also, thank goodness, thank heaven.
Fall Pictures 2012

Fall Pictures 2012

November was our month of appreciation, relief and opportunity to get back to some fun. We continue to give thanks for the early detection of mom’s ovarian cancer and winning fight; physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes, I almost forget she’s going through chemo. Yes, she has no hair…but dang does she have a few good wigs! Yes, she does get tired, and a little chemo “fogged” the days following treatment, but other than that she is on the go constantly even serving as a “nurse” herself these days! She has two treatments done, and by the time this hits the press, most likely, she will have completed her third chemo treatment which is the half way point for her.  Go Momma! (side note…she has currently completed 4/6 treatments as of January 2!)
This month, we did have lots of laughs, fun, and outings that kept us busy and moving! Crossfit Bond’s “Barbells for Boobs” kicked off our November. Brad and I each participated, and Phoenix was there to cheer us on! It was great being surrounded by such awesome energy geared towards fitness, health and a cure.
Hanging out after "Barbells for Boobs"

Hanging out after “Barbells for Boobs”

Following the barbell fundraiser, I enjoyed some lovely “me” time! It’s amazing how a lonely stroll through the mall and independent shopping trip can lift a girl’s spirits! I topped it off with lunch at Granite City where I sipped on this lovely bloody mary salad!
Granite City Bloody Mary

Granite City Bloody Mary

We had a fun outing to the Festival of Trees parade! It was a beautiful day, and Phoenix was able to see the balloons, clowns, bands and Santa! We were able to catch up with Karen and Grant too, which was pretty exciting!
Chilling at the Festival of Trees Parade!

Chilling at the Festival of Trees Parade!

Do you know what Nature’s Revenge means? Well, I’m not exactly sure either, however Brad completed the Nature’s Revenge Race in November. He also did it wearing his Goruck pack, which made things a bit more challenging. There were different obstacles throughout the race complete with climbing, crawling, mud and more. Phoenix and I enjoyed watching the competitors as well as playing outside in the great outdoors while Daddy did work. lol.
Brad getting after it at Nature's Revenge!

Brad getting after it at Nature’s Revenge!

“The greatest way to send some cheer is sing out a song for all to hear!” I love karaoke. You know what’s even better than karaoke? Karaoke in one of your best friend’s garages. I mean, the bar scene is great, but you really can let yourself go when you’re in the comforts of a family garage…and I’m pretty sure we did just that one late November evening. I am especially proud of Lindsey and I’s evening closer “All That Jazz.” I mean you would’ve thought we’d practiced it for weeks!  Mix in a little kids toys to ride around on, and we had a pretty perfect evening.
Lindsey and I - Best karaoke partners ever!

Lindsey and I – Best karaoke partners ever!

Brad and I can already tell that music is going to play a huge role in Phoenix’s life, and I’m not just saying that because I want him to be musical. He seems to really have a draw to rhythm and all things musical, which is why we were so excited to take him to his first orchestra performance! It was awesome!  He loved the lights, music and clapping! While he was a little wiggly, and wanted his own seat on the frightening steep stairs, I would say he did pretty well for a 21 month old at a 2 hours performance! His new favorite thing to do is walk hand in hand between people, and I felt like our little baby was growing up so fast as he walked to the I Wireless center between us.
At the symphony with our little cheese ball!

At the symphony with our little cheese ball!

We celebrated Thanksgiving with both sides of the family.  Here are some pictures from our family gatherings!
With Brad's family on Thanksgiving...

With Brad’s family on Thanksgiving…

With my family on Thanksgiving...
Although some stores opened before midnight, we refused to buckle and hit the stores to shop any time prior to that for our black Friday shopping extravaganza! Sarah, Amber and I hit the mall/Kohls/Target and Farm and Fleet for some good old fashion deal catching. While I know this is not for everyone, please let me impress upon you my reasons for enjoying it. 1.) I can’t pass up a good deal…and let’s face it…there are plenty of good deals that day. 2.) On Black Friday, I am out for a purpose…and that is to shop (and have a good time) My goal is shopping and I don’t have to worry about anything else…I’m babyless…and those around me are focused on the same prize as well! 3.) People watching.  Okay, I can’t help myself…I LOVE to people watch. And the only place better than an airport to people watch is on Black Friday. The madness, the craziness and just plain bizarre are all there within eye shot, and I can’t get enough of it!
Still going strong at 6:00 a.m. Black Friday Shopping!

Still going strong at 6:00 a.m. Black Friday

So we wrapped up November full of thanks, love and happiness. Of course there were probably a few bumps and sleepless nights …It seems to be an ongoing battle between Phoenix and us.  But all in all, I would say that we can look back and say, “thanks” that was a pretty solid month for smiles and love.

Eat to Defeat Cancer…and Other Things…

First, let me start out by saying that I (nor anyone else in my family) are a nutritionist by any means! We have not been the best eaters, but I don’t think we have been the worst for that matter, either. Brad and I have dabbled a bit into the Paleo (caveman) Diet lifestyle, but for the most part, I would say our family functions on moderation.

Until my mom’s diagnosis of ovarian cancer, we had practiced healthy, whole food eating on a moderate scale. After diagnosis (A.D.), however, mom decided to dive deeper into the world of food and other factors to consider as cancer repellents and cancer cures.

Every day, it seemed she had something new she had read about that either helped prevent cancer or help those already dealing with it. Picture Dr. Oz on steroids, and that’s what we were dealing with! As you can imagine, this was somewhat overwhelming.  I wanted the “Readers Digest” version or “Cliff Notes” version…which lead us to her compiling a word document 12 pages long of information she had pieced together from various books, blogs and websites!

If you are interested in the broken down version (which is still lengthy and a lot to take in), keep reading…

Top 3 things to eat or do:

(1) Turmeric (seasoning found in health stores/health food section of grocery stores):


Tumeric activates antioxidants. Use 1 tsp a day per person.

(2) Green Tea


Green Tea Green tea consumption may reduce your breast cancer risk by up to 53 percent. Drink 2 to 4 cups a day—make a pot and drink it cold in the summer, too. A University of Southern California research team found green tea lowered breast cancer risk by up to 53 percent. Read more: http://www.oprah.com/health/Fight-Cancer-with-Food#ixzz2BT3Y1xIU  The mancha/sencha organic type is a must! Shoot for 2-4 glasses a day. Any green tea will do but sencha and macha is recommended. Look for organic brands made in the United States. You can find a good selection in the Village of East Davenport, Hy-Vee and even Wal-Mart!

(3) Broccoli -


This is the top cancer fighter, blood pressure reducer and beyond!  You can also shoot to eat more brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage (cruficious vegetables).

Information from the Anti-Cancer New Way of Life:

• No refined sugar – use agave nectar sweetener or honey to sweeten things.

• Use organic seasoning (if on sale) – mix with olive oil (tsp) and pepper helps to

• No processed foods… use whole foods! Check out www.100daysofrealfood.com

• Use Whole Wheat / or Multi grain in organic form when possible.


• Chia seeds – Sprinkle on different things. Their taste is not real noticable…perhaps a bit nutty. :) The are packed full of Omega-3. They recommend integrating about three tablespoons  (1 ounce)  or another type of fiber supplement into your diet per day. You can do this by adding about two heaping tablespoons at breakfast and another for a snack. Incorporating chia seeds into your daily diet is easy, but it’s important to start with a small amount and gradually increase your intake until your stools are the proper consistency.  Chia seeds have been known to cause occasional gastric distress like bloating, gas and even diarrhea or constipation, but you can avoid that by paying attention to your body and easing your way into a high-fiber diet routine.  To avoid constipation, make sure you are drinking plenty of fluids!

• Follow the Mediterranean Diet – http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet-pyramid/my00663

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid

• Use extra virgin olive olive first cold press. Keep in dark green or dark glass bottle not plastic.

• Eat berries…blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries

Notes from Little Changes Big Difference Anti-Cancer book:

-Avoid pesticides and insecticides

-Avoid chemical cleaning products

-Avoid skin contact aluminum (deodorant vs anti-persperient)

-Avoid parabens and phthalates in cosmetics products (You will start to hear more and more about this!) Walgreens has a whole section devoted to it now, and almost all European make up and cosmetology products ban them!  A good resource for this information can be found at www.parbenfreeprincess.blogspot.com

-Avoid skin-care products with estrogens or placental by products

-Avoid foods and liquids that have been in contact with hot plastics (microwave bowls, plastic mugs, plastic kettles, many canned food).

-Avoid inorganic phosphate additives (in commercial sodas, commercial baked foods processed meats)

-Go organic when you can

- Reduce red meats

- Females especially (no fair!) should reduce their alcohol consumption…6 oz per day – tops! This is especially so for breast cancer prevention.


Balance your diet:

-Reduce intake of sugar, white flour, sunflower oil, corn oil,

-Increase your omega 3 intake (fish, flaxseed, chia seeds)

Omega 3 fish to consider:

Tuna Salmon Sardines Herring Trout Halibut Cod Haddock Catfish Flounder/sole Oyster Shrimp/lobster Crab Alaskan Clams Scallops

-Increase your intake of anticancer products (turmeric, green tea, vegetables and fruits)

-filter tap water – use a carbon filter

-use organic eggs – hormone free if you can find them

-use quinoa organic in place of rice great source of protein

Activity/Physical Fitness

-30 minutes a day physical activity(30 min walk 6 times week)

-exposure to sunlight 20 minutes day creates vitamin D3

Helpful Websites:


www.Panna.org (pesticides etc)

www.Ewg.org/skindeep (makeup etc)-coming soon


www.cosmetics.html .greenpeople.org/natural-skin-care



www.eattodefeatcancer.org (you have to join thru facebook)

Most Contaminated Foods (shoot to buy organic):

Least Contaminated Foods:
Green beans



Apple Blackberries Blueberries Cherries Clementines Cranberries Grapefruit Lemon Nectarines Orange Peach Pomegranate Raspberries

Red grapes Strawberries Tomato

Herbs & Spices
Basil Black pepper Cilantro Cinnamon Cloves Coco a powder Flaxseed Garlic Ginger Ginseng Lavendar Licorice root Nutmeg Oregano Parsley Rosemary Tarragon Turmeric

Artichokes Beets Bok choy Broccoli Brussel sprouts Cabbage (red, savoy, white) Carrots Cauliflower Chard Collard greens Endives Fennel Garlic Kale Musta rd greens Olives Onions Peas Parsnips Peppers Pumpkin Radishes Salsify Scallions Shallots Soybean sprouts Spin ach String beans Sweet potatoes Thistle Tomatoes Turnip and their tops Watercress Winter squashes (acorn, butternut)

Oils & Sauces & Condiments
Honey Maple syrup Olive Oil Soy Sauce

Enoki mushrooms King oyster mushrooms Maitake mushrooms Matsutake mushrooms Oyster mushrooms Reishi mushrooms Shiitake mushrooms

Cuttlefish Flounder Haddock Halibut Herring Mack erel Oysters Salmon Sardines Sea Cucumber Seaweed (Arame, Dulse, Hijiki, Kombu, Mozuku, Nori, Wakame) Squid Squid ink Tuna

Poultry dark meat (chicken, goose, turkey)

Legumes & Nuts & Beans
Almonds Cashews Chestnut Edamame Sword jackbean Tofu (soft, firm, dried) Natto Walnuts Lentils Lima beans

Hard Cheese (Gouda, Jarlsberg, Emmenthal, Edam) Yogurt (Greek!)

Beverages & Soups
Apple Cider Cocoa Powder wine Soy milk White wine Coffee Green tea Miso

Chocolate Honey Maple syrup

Phew! If you’re still reading…don’t freak out! You’re probably thinking, I’m eating all wrong or I should have been eating this/not that. You’re fine. This was just information gathered along the way that has been suggested to help defeat cancer. Start little or choose just one thing to change or incorporate into your daily regimen. Good luck!