Friday, August 31, 2012

The Day Wesley Ate Puffs {Baby food}

We've been feeding Wesley baby food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (in between nursing or taking a bottle 5-6 times a day) for several weeks now. I steam, bake, and puree his food. He's had nectarines, apple sauce, bananas, avocado, sweet potatoes, carrots, and peas. We try to keep things varied, but he normally has two ice cubes - whichever two I grab first from the freezer. We add in a little bit of rice cereal occasionally to thicken things up. Each week we are adding new foods, depending on what is on sale or in season at the farmers market.

Other than that, he's a strictly breast-fed baby. Until yesterday...

We bought puffs and would toss a few on his tray while we were making his food, but he always just played with them. His sticky fingers would crunch the puffs or he'd toss them on the floor for the dog. Occasionally I'd try to teach him to eat them by putting them on his spoon. No go. He hated them. He shut his mouth to them. He refused to eat them.

Last night I was doing the single mama thing while Jarrod was at work. He works late on Wednesdays so it's my job to take care of the boy. We have Wednesday Date Nights. I was working to get a whole chicken in the oven to roast before dinner so I popped Wesley into his Booster Seat and tossed some puffs on his tray. I went back to putting the chicken in the oven. I was just 3-4 steps from Wesley, singing to entertain him.

When I looked up, he was actually eating the puffs. I didn't bribe or coerce him. He just started popping them in his mouth!
He was totally into the puffs! I couldn't believe it. I snapped this picture and sent it over to Jarrod - Wesley is eating puffs!! He knew I was proud of him because he was smiling so big while I was cheering for him. I wish I had captured that on camera!

I cannot believe how quickly our sweet little man is growing up. He is absolutely precious and brings so much joy to our lives. Hopefully soon I'll be able to share a video of his eating adventures!
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30 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

I think this prompt is the hardest of them all. Let's go out with a bang!

List 10 things you would hope to be remembered for.
1. Being a loving wife. I hope that I make Jarrod a better man. I know he makes me a better woman, minister, and person. I hope when I'm gone, people say I was a compassionate partner for Jarrod.

2. A good mom. I hope that I raise well-rounded, strong, independent, compassionate, and loving children. I hope that I teach them and set them free into the world to make good choices and make the world a better place.

3. A change-agent in the fight against (breast) cancer. I hope someday this one doesn't even matter. I hope that Wesley doesn't have to be part of the fight as he gets old enough because we've moved on to fight something else. But when we think about the demise of cancer, I hope people think of my (tiny) impact.

4. A change-agent in the (United Methodist) church. I buck the system, question why we do things, and make sure new voices are heard. But I hope that I am remembered for bring about necessary change. Even more so, I hope that I spread love, grace, and compassion to all people. I hope we can get back to our Wesleyan roots, reaching a new generation, and rising up a new group of leaders.

5. A hard-worker. I hope that people remember that I'm a hard worker. That I do what needs to get done and make things happen. I hope people forget my complaints and remember that I did the tough stuff to help others and make the world a better place.

6. Compassionate and honest friend. I hope people think about me being honest, trustworthy, funny, and compassionate friend. I was just going to say funny, because obviously that's really important to me, but think compassion and honesty are probably important too.

7. Young for a long time. You know the folks that are super old at 55 and others that are still young-at-heart at 90? I want to be the cute little granny in church who still walks 5 miles a day, chats with the children and youth, and still volunteers 40+ hours a week. I want to be young for a very long time. I want to live for a very long time too!

8. Following through. I hope once I'm gone I leave behind more than just dreams and visions, but things have actually changed because of me. Little things like crafts, personal touches, home cooked meals, and photographs, but also big things like events, life-changing opportunities, and people knowing someone believed in them. I hope that I followed through on things and actually made an impact in my job. I hope there's a legacy left in terms of waves and lives changed.

9. Fun. I hope people remember that I'm fun and people had fun around me. My tombstone can read: Fun-maker.

10. Food. I love making food that reminds me of people. Some of my favorite people text me when they make a recipe I introduced them to and it makes my heart so happy. I hope that someday people make food that reminds them of me and it makes them happy.


Whew! I this was by far the hardest post of the 30... but I'm done!
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Thursday, August 30, 2012

29 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What do you think people misunderstand most about you?
I'm not sure. Jarrod says it's my accent. I grew up in New Jersey and outside of Philadelphia, but have almost completely lost any accent in the past 12 years that I've lived in Texas. More often than not I sound like I've lived in Texas my whole life, now.

I think people would probably be surprised to learn how introverted I am. Crowds really intimidate me and am uncomfortable meeting lots of new people. I'm learning how to be better at coming out of my shell, but it's still very hard. I need a lot of alone time, which doesn't happen now nearly as often as I'd like. :-) Even though I'm completely in love with my boys.
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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wish List

We live a fairly simple life. I try to do without and save money. I dream of the day when we will be debt free, but still will live the simple life. I'll probably still make our own laundry detergent, buy dry beans, and cut corners wherever possible. But that doesn't mean that I don't constantly have a wish list in the back of my mind.

For the most part, I am completely content with what I have, do not fall into wanting more and buying new things. But there are a few things on my mind right now that I'd love to have. Mostly because they're just fun!

Without any additional preface, I'm going to share my wishlist!

1.

This gorgeous camera bag. This bag is large enough to fit my camera, lenses, laptop, and other necessary things that I need. And it's gorgeous. Seriously. I've entered about 100 giveaways trying to win this bag. Sometimes I think I'd prefer it in grey and other times maybe teal. Whatever color, someday I'm going to make this bag mine. I try to justify it to Jarrod because I haven't purchased a purse since well before we got married. Obviously Epiphanie has no idea who I am. But I wish they did! ;-)

2.
Source: roadid.com via Leanne on Pinterest

I actually already have a Road ID shoe pouch but my information has changed and I need an updated replacement. My first Road ID was the original version. I was given 6 lines of text to put my name, emergency contact info, etc. This time I think I'm going to go with the Interactive version. This version allows me to have an Emergency Response Profile that can be accessed via the internet or phone. The information can include insurance, doctors, address, emergency contacts, etc. If you are a runner, walker, or outdoor exerciser, you definitely need a Road ID. I like the shoe pocket because I can't forget it and there's room in the pouch for cash or my ID. Of course my Road ID pouch is pink. ;-) Also, Road ID has no idea who I am.

3. Cowboy boots

Source: dsw.com via Leanne on Pinterest

I haven't decided if I need a pair like these or a more Western pair, but in either case, I definitely need a pair of boots. As flat as possible, that would look nice with skirts, dresses, or pants... The only boots I have currently are heeled and my days of wearing heels are all but over. These would be pretty for winter time... Assuming that someday it won't be 90+ degrees in Texas... :-)

4.Neato XV-11 All Floor Robotic Vacuum System
Source: amazon.com via Leanne on Pinterest

Ever since I saw this awesome vacuum on Amanda's blog giveaway, I knew it needed to be added to my list. I am the primary vacuumer in our family. We have a decent vacuum, but I covet a Dyson... At least until I heard Amanda rave about this little beauty. Evidently it does a fantastic job, like the Dyson, but I wouldn't have to do the work! I love that idea! :-) Hopefully I'll win Amanda's giveaway and I can tell you all about how the Neato works. :-)

I know a good wishlist should have 5 things on it, but I can really only come up with 4. There are definitely more things I want - time, sleep, cute clothes (for me and the baby boy!), expensive make-up, etc. But this list is exclusively the things I'd purchase first if I were to come into lots of money. (After paying off our debt and saving an emergency fund, of course!)

What is on your wish list?
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28 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What is your love language?
I've actually not read the book but if we are talking more liberally about love languages, I'd say mine is time. If Jarrod shows me time, that's how I understand love. Whether it's physically time spent together or he does something that lets me know he's been thinking about me, I feel love.

This is not how I give love, however. I like acts of service or gifts in terms of showing love. I am horrible in situations of grief I am not good at saying the right thing, but I can definitely make a casserole. I often don't know what to do after someone has a baby or moves, but I can bring over cookies. It makes me feel like I've done something for them.

I think understanding love languages is important. If we understand how people receive love, we can better love them. I'm curious to see how Courtney answers this question. I wish I could make Jarrod answer it!  
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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

27 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What is your favorite part of your body and why?
My eyelashes. Easy question. They are dark, long, and thick. It's trait from my dad's side of the family and most of the cousins inherited them...along with thick, dark hair and crazy eyebrows. Wesley has gorgeous eyelashes and someday he'll thank me. :-) 
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Monday, August 27, 2012

26 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What popular notion do you think the world has most wrong?
That people are different. Of course we're all unique, but we're not different. Skin color, hair style, sexual orientation, religious preference, or favorite color makes us unique, but not different. I think this popular notion is changing, but is still commonly held. I wish we could see people for who they are on the inside, appreciate what makes us unique, and celebrate. Let's not focus on differences. Let's not worry about if your sin is worse than my sin and what sin even is, let's just love and celebrate.
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Sunday, August 26, 2012

25 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

If you could have dinner with anyone in history, who would it be and what would you eat?
This is an impossibly difficult question. I feel like the obvious answer is Jesus. Who wouldn't pick Jesus? And we'd eat water, bread, and fish. Obviously. Then there's Paul. Paul was an ugly dude but I'd love to hear from him. Or Mary, Jesus' mother. She'd be an awesome person to talk to. Or John Wesley, who started the Methodist movement...

But I think I'm going to go rogue and say Bethenny Frankel. We'd have Skinny Girl Margaritas and freaking awesome food. We would talk about our kids, our husbands, and she'd tell me how to be even more awesome. We'd laugh a lot. It'd be awesome.

I ADORE Bethenny and am convinced that if we were ever in the same room at the same time, we'd hit it off. We are funny, have crazy family, awesome husbands and adorable kids. She's driven and I'd love to learn from her.

So there you go. Bethenny Frankel. A woman in history.
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Saturday, August 25, 2012

24 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe your family dynamic of your childhood vs. your family dynamic now.

This is a challenging question and I'm understanding the question to compare the family I grew up with to the family that I've created now. I'm comparing my upbringing with the current family I live with today...

My parents divorced when I was 16 but it wasn't at all sudden. There was years of warning. We didn't really do much together as a family and there was a lot of unhappiness in our home. I am pretty sure no one liked each other much. We all pretty much did our own thing...except when we were yelling and fighting...


Because of that, Jarrod and I work hard to do things together, spend quality time as a family, and make our home a happy place. Eating together as a family is very important to me. Life is chaotic and sometimes even eating together isn't relaxing, but we have built the habit and eat dinner together nearly every night. We do things together - run errands, go for walks, shop, and go to church. We have hobbies that we do separately, but Jarrod and I enjoy spending time together, even if it is at the grocery store. We want Wesley to see that we like each other and enjoy spending time together.

Our house is very happy. It's chaotic, not clean, and loud, but it's happy. There isn't the yelling that I grew up with. There isn't drama in our home and we don't care about putting up appearances. I hope that even as our kids become independent and moody, this continues to be the case. I look forward to many many many many many years of laughter, games, and food with my family.
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Friday, August 24, 2012

23 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

List your top 5 hobbies and why you love them.

1. Walking. It clears my head, keeps me healthy, and is time just for me. I try to make time to walk at least a couple of miles each day. I listen to podcasts while I walk - mostly sermons. It's holy time.

2. Cooking/eating. I love food. I love researching recipes, figuring out how I can make it better, and eating my delicious creations. I spend a great deal of time looking at recipes, cooking, and eating. I also love restaurants, but we don't do that much anymore.

3. Photography. Before Wesley was born I purchased a Canon Rebel. I ADORE it, but am still figuring things out. Thankfully, I was already mostly proficient in photoshop before purchasing the camera. I love learning new things, testing out lighting and setting options, and taking lots of pictures!

4. Crafting/sewing. I really enjoy making things. I like seeing a pile of fabric and thread turn into curtains or pillows. I love making things for Wesley. I don't have as much time for this these days, but I definitely consider crafting a hobby.

5. Spending time with my boys. I love spending time with my boys. No hobby is better than the time we have together. I love playing with Wesley, reading stories with him, and watching him learn new things. I love watching Jarrod play with Wesley too. Really, being with them is my favorite thing ever. 
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

22 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 15 years?

This is a super fun question that I've really been looking forward to!

5 years - Wesley will start kindergarten in 5 years. We will be debt free, with a 6 month emergency fund, good college fund for kids, and saving a good bit towards retirement. Jarrod and I will both continue working in ministry, God willing. I pray that we'll have another child, maybe a 2 year old adopted baby. Maybe we'll be thinking about baby #3 and where he/she will come from. We'll have a comfortable house, great church, and friends over for dinner a lot.

10 years - Wesley will be 10, which is insane. Hopefully we'll have another couple kiddos - maybe a 7 year old and a 5 year old. Our house will be paid for and we'll be completely debt free. We'll be saving for retirement but kids college will be just about done. We'll still have a great church and wonderful friends. Jarrod and I will be 40 years old. I'll still be walking, but hopefully there will be a cure for breast cancer by then. We'll also have chickens, a beautiful garden, and a golden retriever or two. We will probably do some traveling periodically, but mostly enjoy time with our family at home. We'll teach our kids to play dominoes and the importance of family meals.

15 years - Wesley will be a teenager. Our other kiddos will be more self-sufficient - at 12 and 10 years old. We'll have college taken care of and our kids will be saving for their first car. They will all likely have jobs of some kind and we'll teach them how to be good stewards of their money. They will be active in our church youth and children's programs. Our retirement fund will be growing and we'll be giving and sharing as much as we can. I pray that our house is fun, lively, and loving. Kids know they can come over anytime for food and fellowship. We will still play games and eat together. We'll exercise together and enjoy spending time with each other. Life won't be easy and we'll have gone through really difficult times, but life will be sweet.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Save the boobies!

Wesley wants you to help him save the boobies! For every $10 you donate to Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure, Wesley will send you a personalized thank you picture. Here's his message:
Wesley is very serious about fighting (breast) cancer and wants you to join him in saving the boobies!
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21 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be and what would you do with it first?

This might be a lame response and it definitely shows the season of my life right now, but I wish that I was able to operate with less sleep. I need 7-8 good hours to function at 100%. I can make it on 5-6 every now and again, but I need to average 7-8 in order to really bring my 'A' game. If I didn't need as much sleep I'd be able to get a lot more accomplished. I could clean at midnight, exercise at 5am, cook freezer meals, and still not miss a waking moment with my boys.

Needing sleep helps me keep my priorities in check. I make time to exercise because it's important. I make time to pump and make baby food purees for Wesley because it's important. I make time to snuggle with my husband on the couch because it's important. I do not always make time to clean our bathroom and my hair is almost always still damp when I get to work because drying it is not a priority. If I didn't need sleep I don't think I would prioritize. I guess God knew what God was doing creating the human need for sleep. ;-)
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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

20 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe 3 significant memories from your childhood.

This is a very challenging question as I've spent decades blocking out most of my "childhood."

1. I have excellent memories of running around with my cousins. We all lived in New Jersey, not far from each other, and spent lots of time playing. I loved Christmas because we were very close in age and celebrated with food and fun. Now there are more than 20 cousins, counting two second generation cousins. We live all over the world and rarely get together. I remember fondly our time as kids.

2. When I was about 4 years old and Courtney was an infant I was hit in the head with a large rock. I'd been taunting some of the older kids that lived in the house behind our house. One of them picked up a rock and hit me on the left side of my forehead. My mom and her friend, her friend's daughter, Courtney, and I rushed to the on-call doctor's office down the street with a kitchen towel and ice held tightly to my head. I am sure I screamed. I know blood was everywhere. In the end, I didn't get stitches but a simple butterfly bandaid. I know it was traumatic because my sister was so little and needed to be cared for also. I still have a scar. :-)

3. When I was about 6 years old my mom and I were shopping at the grocery store and they made a lost child announcement. I was short and saw the kid sitting under a conveyor belt in one of the check-out aisles. He was eating bubble tape (remember that?!). I told my mom and she told someone who worked there. He was soon reunited with his parents. All that concerned me was whether he got to keep the bubble gum and if his mom had to pay for it. :-)
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Monday, August 20, 2012

19 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

Such a place does not exist. ;-) I'd like to live close to church but also close to my job with easy-to-access walking paths around calm lakes. Near a Super Target, great grocery store, Sprouts, and lots of local restaurants. Close to friends, especially friends with kids. Close to family, especially my sister. In a home that we own with 3+ bedrooms 2.5 bathrooms and a study, large backyard, open kitchen, and space to grow. I want to live on a quiet street with lots of mature trees. While I'm dreaming, I'd also like to live in a climate that stays at a comfortable 75-80 degrees and sunny all year round. :-)
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Sunday, August 19, 2012

18 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

This is incredibly challenging. Through the past 2 weeks of answering prompts, I've tried to become more honest and transparent with each answer. That's difficult because I know how public this blog is. That said, I have a very difficult time forgiving my mom's alcoholism. She's missed some huge events in mine and my sister's lives. She's missed my engagement, Courtney's engagement, trying on wedding dresses, participating in weddings, merging of families, pregnancy, birth, and Wesley's life. While I try not to dwell on it, it makes me deeply sad the things she's missed. It makes me very sad for her that she doesn't know what Wesley's laugh sounds like. It makes me deeply sad that she didn't watch my beautiful sister get married. It makes me deeply sad that she doesn't know me as wife and mother. It makes me deeply sad that I cannot call my mom to ask for advice, share stories, or hear about how things were when I was 7 months old.

When I allow myself to really feel that sadness, it's easy to become incredibly angry. Angry at choices and the strength of the disease. Angry at weakness and "the system." I don't talk about this much and definitely don't write about it. The anger can become overwhelming, debilitating, and confusing. I need to forgive everyday. I forgive alcoholism, weakness, choices, decisions, my mother, and my past. It's not a one-time thing. I forgive everyday, multiple times a day.

If I don't forgive, the anger overtakes me. My judgment is clouded with jealousy. I become too mad to function or have healthy relationships. In those moments, I use the anger and frustration to fuel health. It's never forgiven - it's a continual process of constantly forgiving.
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Saturday, August 18, 2012

17 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What is the thing you most wish you were great at?

Being outgoing. I'm introverted and normally have to really talk myself into talking to people, making phone calls, etc. I wish that I was more outgoing and friendly. Along the same lines, I wish I handled conflict and confrontation better. I tend to get very shy or (with family) completely explode. I wish I could speak my mind in a polite manner. As a teenager this was probably the manifestation of confidence, but today I think it's just that I'm a more introverted people-pleaser. Some would be shocked to hear that - my sister would definitely argue - but in work and social situations, I'm shy and nervous.

I work really hard at being more confident in social situations, speaking in public, and confrontation with love. It's challenging, but stretches me in awesome ways. I recently spoke in front of a very large group of colleagues. I was so nervous and spent a lot of time preparing, memorizing, and picking out my outfit. After I spoke someone came up to me and said I did an excellent job and was a great word-smith. This was one of the biggest compliments ever. :-)
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Friday, August 17, 2012

16 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What are your 5 greatest accomplishments?

1. Moving 1,600 miles away from family and starting a new life in Dallas. It was stupid and not well thought out, but it was the best thing I've ever done.
2. Earning my masters degree and graduating with honors.
3. Getting married to a fantastic man and having a healthy, fun, and strong marriage.
4. Walking 120 miles in two weekends with just a few days in between in 2010...and walking 54 miles over 3 days while 31+ weeks pregnant in 2011.
5. Surviving pregnancy and having a natural birth with Wesley - becoming a mama is definitely my greatest accomplishment, although one I feel I had very little to do with. Thank you, God, for giving me my precious son.
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Thursday, August 16, 2012

15 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

I'd like to think I'd be a friendly cat. Cats are independent, self-sufficient, and a little high-strung. But friendly cats (like our Oliver) also enjoy being with people, playing, and being the life of the party. I need alone time, am introverted, and am very self-sufficient, but I am also very friendly and like to be with people. I'm also quick like a cat... ;-)
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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oreo Marshmallow Bars

I found these bars on Pinterest and knew that I needed to make them. I ADORE Oreos, especially double-stuf. I knew that if I made this recipe, I'd be able to sneak a cookie or two before I mashed them into crumbs. And I did...

This recipe is very easy and works just like rice krispy treats. I loved that it was unusual, easy, and delicious. Everyone loved them!

Hopefully by now you've read about the Gooey Butter Cake and No Bake Gluten Free Peanut Butter Clusters. These Oreo Marshmallow Bars were the third treat on the plate. The fourth was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough fudge. I didn't take pictures and followed the recipe exactly, with the exception that I exchanged flour for gluten-free flour so that Jarrod could enjoy it. While they were pretty gooey, it was DELICIOUS. Here's the plate:

Oreo Marshmallow Bars
Adapted from Picky Palate

1 package of Oreos (I used double stuf)
5 cups of large marshmallows (I estimated and used a bag and a half)
4 tablespoons of butter

Crush the cookies. I tossed them in the food processor and mashed them. Putting them in a bag and beating them is another option.
Heat the marshmallows and butter in the microwave until soft. You can also do this on the stovetop in a large pot. Once butter is completely melted, you're ready to go! This took about 75 seconds in my microwave - in 15-30 second increments.
Pour the cookies into the marshmallow and stir. It's very sticky and as it cools, will get even more tacky. Work as quickly as possible!
Once thoroughly combined, pour the mixture into a greased pan. I used a glass 9x13" pan.

A trick to cut and remove these sticky gobs of delicious, pop the pan in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour. Once cool, use a sharp knife to cut and just pop the squares out. They didn't stick to the pan because they were cold and less sticky.
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14 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe 5 strengths you have.

1. I am intuitive. I normally can tell how things work or how someone is feeling even if it's not obvious.


2. I like to figure things out. I enjoy researching how things work, the best ways to do things, and how something can be done in an efficient manner.

3. I follow through on things. I set a goal and take the steps to make it happen. I don't procrastinate.

4. I'm organized and I like to organize things. Our budget is a detailed excel spreadsheet with tabs per month. My closet is organized and clean. I have a method for just about everything.

5. Hospitality. I like to bake and cook for people, make sure people feel welcome, and open our home to friends and family.


There are times in my life where I wished I was good at something specific - music, sports, public speaking, etc. I'm not one of those people. So I build my own things - I'm good at making people feel comfortable. I'm good at things I have control over. :-)
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Easy Computer Backup {Recover files, stress-free backup}

It might sound like this is a commercial, but I promise you it's not. Carbonite has no idea who I am. I'm just a computer-user with hundreds of pictures, songs, and files that I'd be devastated if I lost. But let's rewind a bit...

Several years ago my dad got me an external hard drive to store my pictures and files. I think he got tired of my annual computer crash freak-out. I was using an old MacBook Pro and while macs completely rock, occasionally mine would get a cup of water spilled on it crash. Normally the Geniuses would be able to fix it for me, but I would still freak out about losing all my photos, music, and documents. This was pre-cloud days but I set the external drive to automatically back up my files every day or so. This worked great until I got too many pictures and outgrew the space...or forgot.

My first semester in seminary my computer crashed. It was awesome. I had a paper due on Monday and on Sunday night my computer crashed. I lost all of my research, the paper (that had been done for days), and lots of other important things. I'd backed up to the external hard drive somewhat recently so I didn't lose my music or pictures, I hadn't backed up my research or paper. I had to start completely over from scratch...after already returning my library books. It was heartbreaking.

Two years ago or so I heard a commercial for Carbonite on the Dave Ramsey Show. The commercial was compelling, but it took me about 7 months to jump on the bandwagon. Thankfully, I still use a mac haven't had to use the restore function, but I'll tell you that I sleep a lot better knowing that if my computer crashes, every one of the pictures I've taken will be safe.

That means my computer could crash and I'd still have Photoshop, pictures of Wesley's birth, and all the songs I've collected over the years. And I don't have to think about backing up my computer - it's all automatic. Even better than that, it's stored virtually. This means that if my house were to flood, catch on fire, or if we were robbed (heaven forbid), my precious photos will still be safe. My external hard drive was vulnerable to all of those things.

I just renewed my annual subscription to Carbonite a few days ago. If you're interested in Carbonite, I'm thrilled to offer you 2 free months when you sign up. You can try for free for 15 days and then sign up for 14 months for just $59. To get two months free, click this link or any of the "Carbonites" above. It's a great deal and I'm excited to share it with you.

Full disclosure: Carbonite really doesn't know who I am. I just want you to know about a great product that I really enjoy. I was sent a link when I renewed my subscription that gave my friends 2 free months. For everyone who signs up, I get a $10 amazon gift card. That's awesome because it's a win for you (2 free months) and a win for me ($10 amazon gift card)!

Have you ever lost everything on your computer? Do you use a back-up service? What's been your experience?
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13 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe 5 weaknesses you have.

1. I cannot let things go. I harp on the same thing over and over again, beating the same dead horse. I cannot sleep unless the house is somewhat clean and have very high standards of things. I struggle to relax because I'm wound so tight.

2. I cannot do one thing at a time. I do 75 things at the same time and drop balls all the time. I usually have 4 projects going at any one time at work. It makes me a bit of a frantic person, but it usually works for me.

3. I'm bossy and a know-it-all. I cannot ever admit that I'm wrong. I think I know what's best for everyone all the time and have little trouble telling them that, especially if they are related to me.

4. I don't have any patience at all. I know that being a mom will test this a lot!

5. I'm judgmental. I know I shouldn't be and I work on this daily, but my natural inclination is to judge. It's horrible.

I don't know if those are weaknesses, growth edges, or personality flaws. Or if there really is any difference.
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Monday, August 13, 2012

Seven Months

This month-iversary snuck up on me. Wesley turned 7 months old on Saturday! I feel like I was just writing his six month update and now it's his seven month birthday! It's incredibly hard to believe that we're closer to his first birthday than we are his birth. It's a good thing I'm already planning his birthday party! :-)
Dear Wesley,
You are growing into such a joyful little boy! You started on solid foods this month and are such a good eater. We've tried pears, apples, avocado, green beans, sweet potatoes, carrots, and bananas. We started out just with dinner and breakfast, but now you get lunch too. You're really eating well and we're loving sharing food with you. You are also still nursing or taking a bottle of breast milk at least 5 times a day.

You also started school this month. It's really daycare, but I call it school to make it sound more fun. You love it and your teachers love you. You are the most friendly baby in your class and we hear stories about teachers taking you with them to sit at the front desk during the day. We know you brighten their lives. It makes me sad to leave you, but thankful that daddy and I both love our jobs so much. I'm also thankful that you are well taken care of when we can't be with you.

You are the life of the party everywhere we go. People love talking to you and you will go to just about anyone. You love your church friends, especially the youth girls. We love passing you around while you explore, lift your eyebrows, and laugh. You are almost always happy and we really love being able to share your joy with others.

You've gotten incredibly mobile. You can definitely crawl, although you have your own special way of doing it. You like to straighten your legs with your behind in the air and crawl on your hands and feet. You like to use your head to propel yourself forward. You're starting to get the army crawl and one-leg-straight/one-leg-bent crawl down. You do a cross between rolling and crawling to get what you want.
Speaking of which, you definitely have decided to have favorite toys. You love the bumble bee toy from your nanny. I think that's probably your favorite and you'll do everything you can to get to it. You love your little lion toy, soft dog toy (Juan), and of course your wubbanubs, Mary and Bart. We took down your infant swing this month and replaced it with your pack 'n play full of toys. You love to hang out in there if your daddy or I have things to do around the house. I often catch your daddy sitting next to the pack 'n play playing with you and your toys.

Your daddy and I absolutely adore being your parents. We ask each other several times a week what we did to get so lucky. We are thankful that you're healthy and happy. You bring more happiness and joy to our lives than we ever thought possible. You have incredible comedic timing and make yourself laugh a lot. You laugh when other people laugh, which makes us think you're really smart.

Time has already gone by far too quickly. We often get excited about the future, wishing you could walk, talk, or cook with us. But I don't wish away this precious time. Your daddy and I try very hard to be present in this phase of life because it will be over far too quickly. We are having so much fun with you. It's amazing how complete you've made our family.

We love you!

Mama and Daddy
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12 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe a typical day in your current life.

The alarm goes off at 6:45am but most mornings I'm up before that. The first thing I do each morning is pump on one side for about 15 minutes. While I'm doing that, Jarrod usually gets Wesley up and changed. He brings Wesley in and I feed him. Once Wesley is done eating, it's a mad dash to get ready and get out the door. I shower, eat breakfast, make lunch, clean house, get ready, and am out the door by 7:50am or so. I drive to work and arrive by 8:30am. Some days I go to the office and some days I have meetings elsewhere. Regardless, I work until about 5pm and then drive home. If I'm in the office I work frantically, eating lunch at my desk, pumping 3 times, and try and squeeze in a lot of things while I'm there. If I'm out of the office I'm usually driving for several hours, meeting, eating, and driving. Of course pumping several times.

I arrive home sometime before 6pm. I snuggle and play with Wesley, we all eat dinner, and we have family time. Wesley gets a bath around 7pm and we read stories or play before bed. He goes down by 7:30pm. I usually go for a walk after he's gone to bed. By 8:45pm Jarrod and I are clean and snuggled on the couch for a TV show before bed. Usually we divide the chores - washing diapers, cleaning dishes, packing Wesley's backpack, etc. before we go to bed. We get Wesley changed into his nighttime diaper at 10pm and sometimes I'll feed him again. By 11pm I'm asleep resting up to do it all over again!
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Sunday, August 12, 2012

11 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

Describe 10 pet peeves you have.

1. Ignorance, lack of desire to learn new things, or complete closed-mindedness. I love education, learning new things, and being in dialogue with others, even if we don't agree. It's so frustrating when someone doesn't feel the same way and wants to just live with the world the way it's always been.
2. Being inconsiderate. Hold the door open, clean up after yourself, and leave things better than they were when you arrived. It's just the polite thing to do.
3. Lying. Don't lie. Ever. It makes me mad.
4. When the dog licks herself. Makes me insane. I don't know why. 
5. Know-it-alls who don't know it all. People who think they know stuff without any facts to back it up make me crazy. With the internet literally a finger click away, if you don't know something, look it up don't make it up.
6. Blaming others. Take responsibility for yourself and own your own mistakes. What's worse than blame is blame when it's completely unnecessary. No one was accusing you of anything, don't worry!
7. Laziness. We all need rest and relaxation, but taking the easy way out all the time is just lazy.
8. Gossip. I'm such a gossip. I love hearing stories and sharing stories. But the hypocrite in me hates when other people share business that's not their business to share. I try to keep my gossip strictly to things I know and are mine to share. But I'm completely guilty of this too.
9. Biting nails and chewing ice. Drives me insane. I think it's a sound thing.
10. Allowing things to happen to you vs. happening to things. You are in control of your world. Just complaining about things that happen to you doesn't help. Change what you can and make your world beautiful.

This was not the most uplifting post... :-)
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Saturday, August 11, 2012

10 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.


Describe your most embarrassing moment.

I have about a million. Here are a handful...
1. In high school I was bowling with friends. It was a particularly awkward period in my life. A bunch of boys I liked were bowling in the lane next to me and my friends. While going to take my turn to bowl, fingers in the ball, I tripped on a step and the ball went flying. My fingers started bleeding and I'm sure it sounded like a sonic boom.

2. In graduate school I used the word "gross" in a final exam essay. I shouldn't have as gross is not a very sophisticated or academic word. I'm a youth minister so I also use words like suck, bummer, and awesome. The professor evidently had it in for me. Not only did she give me a TERRIBLE (but deserved) grade, but she red-penned the cover of the exam literally degrading me for using the word gross. I was mortified...especially because I had her again the next semester. I joked about the final with my friends, but was embarrassed to my core. One day in class she made a joke about "some student one time" actually used the word gross in a final exam! Everyone in the class laughed. While she didn't name names, my friends knew it was me and I was absolutely the most embarrassed I've ever been. It took every ounce of strength I had not to leave class right then. As soon as I was out of the building I sobbed and cried most of the way home. Going back to class the next week was nearly impossible, but I did. And I did very well in her class from that point forward. It's taken me years of healing to be able to tell that story without crying.

3. Recently there was a very important meeting with very important people happening in our office. I needed to pump and space was at a premium. Our receptionist suggested that I pump in the server room. It was 60 degrees, didn't have a chair, and didn't have a lock on the door. But I situated myself in the corner of the room on the floor and got down to business. The room is so rarely used, I figured I was safe. I was tucked back in one corner and knew I could yell if someone started to open the door. About 5 minutes in and it happened. The door opened. I yelled, "Occupied! Please don't come in! Please don't come in!" and still, they came in. It was a very important person visiting our office. Someone I work with. As soon as she saw me (although completely ignoring my pleas!) she waved, smiled, and turned to leave. I was mortified and my milk completely dried up for hours. To make matters worse, I had a presentation to give the board about 30 minutes later and she was in that meeting.
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Friday, August 10, 2012

9 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

This is probably the most difficult question to date...It is interesting because the statement is worded such that the influence could be positive or negative. Without getting too specific, I'm going to answer the prompt to the best of my ability...

List 10 people who have influenced you and describe how. 

1. My youth minister and the church where I grew up. I was able to serve in leadership, fail, test boundaries, and serve in many ways. I learned things the hard way and the easy way, but I learned a lot because I was given the opportunity to do things teenagers normally don't.

2. Families in my church and town growing up. They took me in when I needed family. When my family didn't eat meals together, I could with chosen family. They looked after me, loved me, and set boundaries for me. They served as a great example of family. I think it is because of a few select families' examples that I'm able to have a healthy family today.

3. My parents. I am a confident, independent, and self-sufficient woman who values education because of my parents. Both for good and bad. I stand up for myself, am stubborn, and like routine because of my parents.

4. My sister. My sister has taught me how to be more forgiving, compassionate, and understanding. As a child, she taught me how to be bossy, dominant, and persuasive, but I'm glad as adults our relationship has survived my tyrant days. 

5. The staff at my first real church job. They taught me to take the high road, how to be a great leader, and what the church should look like. I learned so many valuable lessons during those first 3 years in full-time ministry that I still rely on today. I had the most difficult and challenging experiences, cried a lot, but ultimately am a stronger person because of that time. And I made lifelong friends who provide me with the best example in all areas of my life.

6. My chosen family. I have very special families who have taken me in, allowed me to share meals, move in, sleep over, share holidays, and love their kids. They have supported me in the most difficult moments of my life, encouraged me to do better, and loved me even when I didn't really deserve it. They have shared their family with me and my family. I am who I am because of these wonderful people. If I am half the minister, mom, wife, and friend that these folks are, I'll consider my life a success. If you're wondering if I'm talking about you, I probably am. :-)

7. My 3-day sisters. These women are in other categories in my life as well, but needed their own special number. I am who I am because of the first weekend in November each year. They encourage me and are part of something so much bigger than we are. Walking for the first time completely and radically changed my life and I'm so thankful.

8. My husband. Jarrod taught me that love is supposed to be easy, but take a lot of work. It's a choice and life can be more beautiful than my dreams. He challenges me, encourages me, and makes me who I am.

9. My little man. Wesley made me a mama and filled parts of my heart I didn't know existed. I am more whole because of his place in my life. Our family is more complete because of him. He brings an incredible joy to my life and I'm so thankful for his influence in my life.

10. John Wesley, Jesus, God, and early Methodist women. I bleed Wesleyanism. I am who I am because God loves me, Jesus saves me daily, John Wesley saw a way to present grace to all, and Methodist women fought for all women.

Hopefully that's honest and transparent enough. This was a really hard one!
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My Breastfeeding Story

If I were on the ball this post would have gone live at 6:30 A.M. Monday morning. This week is World Breastfeeding Week and it's a great time for me to share my story. I love the beautiful story shared by Rachel this week about breastfeeding her boys. Since I read that earlier this week, my own story has been floating around in my head.

Because I am not through breastfeeding Wesley, this is just a portion of my story. The first few chapters of my breastfeeding story, if you will. It's probably appropriate at this time to give a disclaimer: this post is about breastfeeding. If you're not comfortable with that, feel free to read about gooey butter cake.

I've already written some about my experiences breastfeeding Wesley when I shared some of my favorite breastfeeding helps. Today I will share my whole, nearly 7 month long, story.

Wesley was born after a quick labor after an unmedicated labor. He latched on and nursed almost immediately after he was born. We didn't have any breastfeeding trouble in the hospital. Thankfully, I'd done some reading and research about breastfeeding prior to his birth. A lactation consultant visited our room the day after Wesley was born and answered some of my questions. The hospital was very breastfeeding-friendly. Babies did not receive bottles or pacifiers because, introduced too early, they can disrupt natural sucking and latching. While breastfeeding wasn't comfortable or particularly pleasant those early days, I really didn't have any trouble.

After my milk came in I had a whole new understanding of what breastfeeding is all about. It can be incredibly uncomfortable and affects normal activities like wearing clothes, moving, and carrying things. I leaked, experienced letdown at awkward moments, and became incredibly overwhelmed at the idea that my entire life was broken down into 3 hour increments. Friends told me that this would happen, but it was incredibly overwhelming when it happened. It took me a few weeks to get the nerve to break out the pump and learn what it was all about. We gave Wesley his first bottle at 2.5 weeks. He took it like a pro.

Around 3 weeks I learned to use the pump and began pumping once in the morning most days. I regret not pumping more in those early days. While not pumping consistently made my body quickly adjust to Wesley's needs, it meant that I didn't take advantage of the over-supply of milk. At some point during those early weeks breastfeeding stopped hurting. All the books I'd read said that if you're doing it correctly and the baby is latching properly, it won't hurt. In my experience, that's a complete lie. I hurt. I would wince every-single-time Wesley would latch on. Even if he was doing it correctly, it would hurt for 15-20 seconds. Eventually I toughened up and it stopped hurting. I think my nipples just became numb. :-)

Once I started back to work I had to figure out the best way to pump, keep up my supply, and still get my work done. I travel a lot for work and am often on the road. After going back to work, I quickly invested a universal DC to AC adapter for my car. This gave me the luxury of pumping in my car. Be jealous of my life. ;-) Because my office doesn't have a door, I found a small closet to call my own 90 minutes of each workday whenever I'm working in the office. When I'm on the road I often have to pack a cooler to keep the milk cold. Thankfully Wesley is a champ at taking a bottle and that's never been a problem.

It's been a roller coaster ride. While I love that Wesley's had nothing but breast milk and some solid foods, it's been one of the biggest challenges of my life. I stress, worry, and have a lot of anxiety about pumping, storing, and having enough milk when I am away from him. I stress for weeks if I'm going to be gone a long day or overnight. What if he runs out of milk! Naturally stress and anxiety are the best thing for milk production... Because it's the best thing for Wesley and because I can, I pump a lot. Sometimes I get up in the middle of the night to pump a few ounces just to build up a freezer stash. It is stressful, frustrating, and annoying. I think everyday about quitting because it's so hard. I constantly tell myself how good breast milk is for him and we're so lucky to have this opportunity. But it's so hard. I cry a lot because it's so hard. Then I feel guilty because really it's very easy considering...

Sometimes it feels like no one really understands. I don't get a medal for pumping or feeding Wesley exclusively breast milk. Jarrod doesn't congratulate me when I get home from work. The reward, just like with natural childbirth, is a healthy baby and most days that's good enough for me...but sometimes I reward myself with a cookie or ice cream too...

Actually nursing Wesley is the most beautiful thing in the world. I adore our time together. I love when he rests his hand on me, smiles a milk-drunk grin in my direction, or reaches for me when it's mealtime. I feel more fulfilled as a person because I have the opportunity to provide for him in this way. I love the bonding and I am going to miss nursing desperately whenever that time comes. I love that while it's challenging and hard, it has come very naturally for us. I consider us both insanely lucky for the success we've had breastfeeding. I do not take for granted that our experience was much easier than many others.
This is just my experience breastfeeding and is meant to encourage others. It is by no means a judgment on anyone for their experiences or choices. 
Did/do you breast feed? What is your story? Was it hard? 
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

No Bake Gluten Free Peanut Butter Clusters

These cookies are rumored to be "the best no-bake cookies ever" and "holycraptheseareamazing" cookies. I wouldn't go quite that far, but they are easy, delicious, and don't require the oven.

Other cookies that I'd put in this category are oatmeal, chocolate, peanut butter no bake cookies and puppy chow/muddy buddies.


No Bake Gluten Free Peanut Butter Clusters
From Sticky Gooey Creamy Chewy

1 cup white sugar
1 cup corn syrup
18 oz. peanut butter (we used crunchy)
6 cups corn flakes
3 oz. melting chocolate

Stir together the sugar and corn syrup in a large pot. Heat on medium high until boiling. Remove from heat and add peanut butter. I should have waited a minute or two for the sugars to cool slightly before adding the peanut butter. The high temperature caused the peanut butter to seize slightly. 


Once the peanut butter is completely combined, pour over corn flakes in a large bowl. If your pot is big enough and you don't want to dirty another bowl, just add your corn flakes to the pot. Stir until the corn flakes are completely coated by the sugary peanut butter mixture.
Spoon the mixture onto wax paper, silpat, or freezer paper. My cookies were about 2" in diameter and made about 40. They were slightly crumbly but I think that's because the peanut butter seized in the hot sugars. Next time I'd wait a little longer or potentially heat the peanut butter in the microwave slightly. 

Heat the chocolate to melted and drizzle over the cookies. Cookies and chocolate will harden as they cool. 

While these are delicious, they aren't as amazing as I think they could be. I think the peanut butter consistency could be better making them a little more creamy.

Have you made these? What are your thoughts?
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8 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What are 5 passions you have?

1. Sharing the love, grace, and compassion of Jesus Christ with the world, helping people understand their worth and value, and deep thinking through education and an open mind.
2. Youth and young people, new ideas, and changing the way we've always done things.
3. Food...trying new foods, recipes, cooking, new restaurants, ice cream, and the Food Network.
4. Finding a cure for (breast) cancer and the 3-day for the Cure. I've raised close to $15,000 for Susan G. Komen for the Cure and walked thousands of miles training because I believe in a world without breast cancer.
5. My family. I adore my husband, little boy, cats, and Lucy the dog.
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

7 in 30


Welcome to the 30 in 30 challenge! Each day this month I'll be posting a response to a prompt. You can find all the questions here. I stole the questions from here.

What is your dream job, and why?

In reality, I am doing my dream job. But I can definitely add to it to make it even more perfect.

I am essentially a consultant for youth workers, churches, young adults, youth, and ministers in the Methodist church. I travel around gathering ideas and sharing resources to help build vital ministries. I desire to share the love of Christ with everyone and how I can do this exponentially by helping others share love and grace. I travel a lot and am in my car a lot. While I adore visiting with people all over and love that I get to see their ministry setting, I'd prefer in my dream job, if I could be beamed there instead. I also wish that I had a traveling nanny who could travel with me so Wesley could come. I'd also be able to do more ministry with Jarrod - perhaps some joint worship/ministry consulting.

So basically, I have my dream job. There are a few impossible tweaks I'd make if I were dreaming, but essentially serving and youth, youth ministers, young adults, and the UMC is my dream job. And writing about recipes and antics on the side is just an added bonus!
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