Strawberry Kale Vanilla Smoothie

smoothie

Every once in a while, when all of the stars are aligned and all of the brain chemicals are flowing in a positive direction, I invent something truly brilliant in the kitchen.

This is one of those times.

Strawberry Kale Vanilla Smoothie
1 Cup of sweetened vanilla almond milk

1 banana

1 Cup frozen strawberries {or you can get crazy and throw in some mixed berries}

1 handful of frozen kale

1 tsp clover honey

{1 serving = 285 calories and one heck of a sweet way to get some raw greens into your diet}

Blend and enjoy my gift to you this beautiful Friday morning!

{Image via Todd Huffman for Women’s Health Magazine}

A Message From God

20b1a127c1347188d85422f6818e3cf3

Have a great weekend!

{Image via Demetri Martin drawings}

Children’s Summer Reading List

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.
— Meg Ryan, You’ve Got Mail

If you are at all like me, you walk into the children’s section of the library and stare at the 15 rows of hardcovers and wonder, “Where do I start?”  Well, I did a little homework and put together a kid-tested summer reading list for you. Some of these titles are doctor-recommended. Others feature authors from the New York Times Children’s Book Review and the London Book Fair. When it comes to what our kids are reading, I think it is all right to be a bit of a book snob, don’t you think? The good news is, I can tell you from experience that not only will your children love these books, but you will enjoy reading them too. Feel free to comment below to add one of your favorites to the list! {Oh, and I have also put together a summer podcast guide for mothers who love to read but for whom peace and quiet is a luxury they can’t afford.}

31os4V3RGNLThis is Not My Hat

51RERinyB0L
Pete the Cat: Rockin’ in My School Shoes

51+4JCapYHL
Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

716BV+sOPXL._SL1000_
The Three Horrid Little Pigs

61TCY9ARNAL
The Monster at the End of this Book {my personal favorite growing up}

61sq129LhNL
Tacky the Penguin

9780064434508_p0_v1_s260x420
The Grouchy Ladybug

41shSSXf7gL
The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

Happy reading {and listening}!

Places I’ve Been: West Palm Beach, Florida

Palm Beach

It occurred to me two nights ago while I was lying awake at 4am, that I have not lived at one address for longer than 3 years. That can be either depressing or exciting depending on how you look at it. My Moving Career began far before I can even remember, but the only time it didn’t bother me was during my stay in West Palm Beach. I lived at half a dozen addresses during my four years at college there, but it didn’t matter. Everyone was passing through. Life was simpler– my greatest woe was making it to the cafeteria before they stopped serving breakfast on a Saturday. And now that I find myself searching for yet another address, I could use a dose of simplicity to see me through the days ahead.

I could also use a week at the beach! T-12 days and counting!

{Image via MississippiMrs Pinterest page}

Confessions of a Dancing Monkey

bath time

Confession: I am one of those mothers who has succumbed to the unspoken pressure to entertain my children at all times.

{Gosh, it feels good to get that off my chest.}

I have known it is true, but I haven’t wanted to admit it to myself. I planned Salem and Mia’s summer calendar back in March– outings, projects, trips, morning and evening activities and everything in-between. And why? Well, there are a few possible reasons:

1. Fear: If I don’t keep the Fun Mill a treadin’ with a wide variety of entertaining stimuli, then I fear that my kids are destined to become glue-sniffing delinquents whose greatest contribution in life is to the childhood obesity statistic.

2. Guilt: To engage in a few minutes of leisure reading during their waking hours is sure to send them spiraling into a crisis of identity forever questioning their mother’s love. One minute I am innocently catching up on the Cannes Film Festival and the next I’m headed down the slippery-slope of child-neglect.

3. Pride: I am a stay-at-home Mom, therefore I must make every effort to flaunt my busy-ness and thus prove my contribution to society {even if it is not a paycheck-earning contribution to society} by making any and every effort to avoid the question: “What do you do all day?”

4. Social Media: With every other Tweet-A-Gram boasting a Hallmark moment that would render the Walton’s dysfunctional, I hereby dub myself a Dead-Beat-Pinterest-Fraud-at-best for not attempting even half of the activities I have re-pinned to my “Kids” Board. But then I feel guilty because after all, I shouldn’t be Facebook-ing until after hours, and the stress of it all has me tearing apart the craft bin looking for some Elmer’s glue and paper sack.

b18d397e65a901b0ac6f4f9f43b531ff

Huffington Post published recently published a parenting article exposing some exclusively “Western” child-rearing practices that have me not only rethinking my summer calendar, but more broader subjects like early education and expectations.

Here’s what the HuffPo had to say:

…giving your child a chance to feel frustration gives him a chance to practice the art of waiting and developing self-control… {frustration} is good for them because it teaches them the value of delaying gratification and not always expecting {or worse, demanding} that their needs be met right now.

The Finnish model of education includes a late start to academics {children do not begin any formal academics until they are 7 years old}, frequent breaks for outdoor time, shorter school hours and more variety of classes than in the US. Equity, not high achievement, is the guiding principle of the Finnish education system.

While we in America preach the mantra of early intervention, shave time off recess to teach more formal academics and cut funding to non-academic subjects like art and music, Finnish educators emphasize that learning art, music, home economics and life skills is essential.

Why it’s better: American school children score in the middle of the heap on international measures of achievement, especially in science and mathematics. Finnish children, with their truncated time in school, frequently rank among the best in the world.

These thoughts are blending with some of Charlotte Mason’s early childhood philosophy which I too find completely fascinating:

Over-entertained, pushed, pulled and tidied up, often the child of today has the rich, creative play response crushed out… Children need to be outdoors (for hours). They need to make noise, mess, and to have access to raw materials (old clothes for costumes, hats, tables to turn into camps, etc. etc.). They need privacy from intruding adults, but they need interested support in quarrels, thinking of another way around a problem, providing food, and at the end, bringing the children tactfully back into the world where supper is ready, the camp has to be packed up, children are tired and ready for the soothing routine… {exert from For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay}

You Are my wild

And so with all of this swirling around in my head, I decided to conduct an experiment. Last week, I implemented three small changes into our daily rhythm, and the results were rather surprising:

1. Room Time— A blessed 45 minutes to an hour each morning designed to allow each of us to find our “Just Right” place before facing the day ahead. For me “Just Right” is a cup of light roast, some quiet meditation and reading, a quick listen to the global news headlines, a load of laundry, and an emptied dishwasher. Salem is more in the habit of morning room time than Mia who stands at her door shouting, “Helloooo!!! Is anybody hooommeee?!” I am still easing her into a full 45 minutes of quiet play to start the day, but all in all, the Beasley’s are much easier to get along with if we’ve each had some morning quiet time.

2. “Go. Play.”– Two powerful words in a mothers arsenal and yet, for the aforementioned reasons, I have been hesitant to use them. After 45 minutes of non-structured play, I noticed Salem had picked up a piece of chalk and began drawing the 50 states of the USA {his current obsession} on the blackboard in the kitchen. Pretty soon, the two of them were making up songs and stories, reading books, role-playing with dolls and with each other. Yes, they squabble. But, I am learning how to let them work it out without Black Hawk Mama interfering at the first hint of sibling conflict.

3. Happy Hour– The television does not go on until after 5 pm. This is more of a restriction for me than it is for the kids. It is so much easier to flip on the digital babysitter while I catch up on emails or take a shower {or finish a blog post}. But the lack of brain-suspending media forces them {and me} to peck our way out of the boredom shell and into the wide world of imagination and creativity. Of course they begged and quoted their favorite characters and sang the theme songs out of tune in that adorable way only kids can do, but after the pleading performance was over, they began to occupy themselves with whatever happened to catch their interest at the moment.

boys dress up

A few days into this experiment, I noticed I was less tired and short-tempered. I actually remembered what it was like to enjoy my kids and marvel at their innate curiosity and spontaneity. The realization that they don’t need me to be a dancing monkey who’s sole purpose is to boredom-proof their waking existence has been incredibly freeing. It even has even opened me up to the prospect of having more of them {children… not dancing monkeys}.

I suspect that these disciplines are harder for me than they ever will be for my kids. But if I can resist the urge to over-plan, to interfere, and to entertain at all times, perhaps a few controlled doses of unstructured time this summer might continue to prove surprisingly beneficial.

In the meantime, I’m still going to hide the glue– just in case.

{All images via Rebecca Zeller Photography}

Free To Eat Cake

Memorial day dessert

In keeping with the spirit of celebration of our freedom, Mia and I will be eating our Strawberries and Cream Chocolate Cake before our Paleo Lemon Pepper Chicken.

Happiest Memorial Day, Everyone!

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Balboa Island

What are you doing this Memorial Day Weekend? The pool opens {yeah!}. Figure we better use it while we still live in this ‘hood. {Hopefully, I will have an update on how Beasley House Hunters: Powder Springs is going for you soon– Lord, please let it be soon}. I figure a dip in the pool with dozens of my closest friends and neighbors will be just what I need after a 10-mile trail race on Saturday morning. I have never run a trail race before, and after all of this rain, the race report is that a section of the trail is actually UNDER WATER. The good news is that I’ve never heard of anyone drowning in a trail race before. Wish me luck!

And now for some random inspiration…

Emily Henderson’s senior citizen studio Before and After

Fun photo app for wedding guests…

My kids’ favorite book right now…

Before you judge Angelina

Not your everyday vacation spots

Some friends of mine were on Leno {38:00-ish}!

What Beyonce and Queen Elizabeth have in common

My first half-marathon

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!

{Image via urbandorothy’s instagram}

Bridal Poll

blurry wedding

New York Magazine recently conducted an interesting bridal poll which got me thinking of the parts of my own wedding that are most memorable. Before Clark and I got married, we had so many couples tell us that they barely remember their own wedding day. “It’s all a blur”, they would say. We got married so fast {and with little to no money, I might add}, so there wasn’t much time for us to mull over choices like seating charts, flowers, or cake frosting flavor. Six weeks before our wedding date, I had a dress and a groom. That’s it. Not one invitation, brides maid, or place card… we didn’t even have a location! I was so stressed out at the thought of planning an event for 75+ people to come see my dress and my groom, that I was paralyzed with anxiety.

So we pulled the plug.

We invited our parents, grandparents, and a few lifelong friends to the mountains for three days where we ate, and hiked, and talked, and exchanged memories. By the morning of day three, we had drank in our loved ones so much that when it was time for us to take our vows, it was as if we were the only two people on the mountain– full and present, relaxed and undistracted, and not the least bit “blurry”. My only regret is that we didn’t pull the plug sooner!

What part of your wedding is the most memorable?

{Image via Nate & Jaclyn}

Places I’ve Been: Newport Beach, California

Natasha+Bedingfield

I have so very few claims to fame, so would you allow me oh just this one?

So there I was in Newport Beach, California minding my own business taking in the sights of Balboa Island from the back of a touring van when all of a sudden, the van stops, the sliding door opens and in pops…

Natasha Bedingfield?

Everyone else in the van carries on as though picking up pop singer-hitchhikers happens every day, so I played it cool, careful to not accidentally start humming Unwritten or anything that sounds remotely like it.

We proceeded to have dinner at the nearest Houston’s where we sat elbow to elbow enjoying our sashimi tuna and gabbing about one of her new song ideas… something about “I wanna have your babies….I see them springing up like daisies”. I thought it was sort of silly {which just goes to show you why she is Natasha Bedingfield and I am not}. Nevertheless, we enjoyed great food, great fun, a few laughs, and then she asked if I would ever consider being a background dancer for an upcoming music video.

Ok, I made that last part up, but the tuna and the touring van part is totally true and verifiable by my marital counterpart. I thought we had the makings of being besties, but nay. She never phoned.

Oh well. We’ll always have Balboa Island.

{Image via last.fm}

{Guest Post} with Ashleigh from Ungrind

Noah card

I asked my friend Ashleigh to share some thoughts on a rather personal and painful topic. Having never lived through the pain of experiencing a miscarriage myself, I have only been able to sympathize with many of my friends who have endured such a tragic ordeal. I have read this story many times in preparation to share it with you, yet I am still struck by the honesty, the courage, and the vulnerability of my dear friend who has allowed us a glimpse into her family’s past and how they have grieved in the wake of great loss. It is through tears that I invite you to relive the memory with her.

Colorado Springs. It’s the place I birthed two of my five babies and buried one.

The one we buried, we named her Noah.

News of her death came at my 10-week OB appointment. I woke up that fateful Wednesday to the thought, “Today your life is going to change.” Two hours later, it did. A doppler failed to detect a heartbeat; an ultrasound revealed a body much smaller than my due date required. The doctor estimated she had stopped growing at five weeks gestation.

For five weeks — 35 days — I was unaware that I was a walking tomb. I avoided caffeine, exercised with care, and jotted down lists of potential baby names, not knowing her tiny body had ceased to grow within mine.

A week after my D&C, a friend asked my husband Ted, “How’s Ashleigh doing? Is she getting over it?”

I wasn’t.

Life felt as if it played out in a bad dream; a nightmare from which I longed to wake up. I wept, paced, and had to force myself to climb out of bed and to eat. At times, anger overwhelmed me.

And then I hit resigned.

Resigned was worse than numbness; worse than a pillow wet with tears. It was the acceptance that this was just the way it was and there was nothing I could do to change it. It was realizing that we wouldn’t have a baby on or near my husband Ted’s birthday, and that when Christmas came, one smiling kid would be missing from our card. It was a place where the comfort of weeping came to me less often.

Less than a year after, we packed our belongings into a long, yellow truck. We buckled our kids into their car seats and said goodbye to Colorado.

But today, I find myself back to visit family. To be – if only for a couple weeks — in the place I lived and joyed and mourned. And there’s one spot I find myself reluctant to venture: the cemetery.

Noah's grave

Many babies who die through miscarriage aren’t given a physical resting place on earth. We were fortunate that the hospital I had my D&C at holds firmly to the sanctity of life. As a result, we were given options on what would happen to Noah’s body after my D&C. We chose to have her tiny frame buried in a community memorial alongside other preborn babies who have died. This service was offered to us at no charge; a gift from a local Catholic diocese.

I’ve never been one to run from grief. But three years later, I feel the want – or perhaps even the need — to avoid it. Not to engage the pain that sometimes still feels so fresh.

Perhaps my first visits haunt me more than I realize.

It was marked by deep sorrow, tears, and the longing to lay my body prostrate on the fresh dirt and weep. I mourned the physical body I’d never get to nurture.

balloon sisters 1

It was a surreal experience. One that left me reluctant then to leave. As a mom I’d been taught to never leave my babies alone. I felt like I was abandoning her, in the ground, unprotected and left to the elements. It went against everything my mother’s heart felt was right. Ted had to remind me, “She’s not really there, Ashleigh. She’s not there. It’s OK to leave.”

Yet as I remind myself that I’ll regret not visiting once I’m back in Hotlanta, I think back to my second visit. I determined it would be different.

As the sun emerged and the grayness of the day lifted, we approached the grave marker. There, Ted read Psalm 34. We both cried as he spoke aloud the words in verse 8, “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” Through my tears, I whispered, “Yes, Lord, You are good.”

Balloon sisters 2

My tears of sorrow intermingled with exclamations of praise to the One who promises that, though memory of Noah may fade for many, He will never forget. Her spirit is alive and well in the presence of a strong, tender, compassionate Savior. While my arms may not hold her, His do.

Colorado Springs. It’s the place I birthed two of my five babies and buried one.

The one we buried, we named her Noah.

Ashleigh image

You can connect with Ashleigh on her blog or at Ungrind. You can also follow her on Twitter @ashslater.

« Older entries