Saturday, April 20, 2013

Goodbye! - New Site Info

Time to wrap up this party and move on over to our new site at - come see us!

We'll be blogging about all the usual stuff and also sharing our homeschool journey. Hope to see you there. :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Softness Worth Sharing

This time of year brings with it old traditions and new memories. Sometimes these come along with the holidays and sometimes they are the less obvious opportunities for tradition. Like most people with children, every winter brings one or more periods of time that everyone gets sick. When one child gets sick, the rest soon follow. We do all we can to prevent these illnesses, but somehow the germs always find their way in. One of my go-to methods for treating my children when they come down with colds or the flu is with my mom's recipe for homemade chicken soup. She used to make it for me when I was younger (now my dad does) when I got sick, and now I make it for my own family. Another wonderful memory I have comes from my father. Whenever I got sick, he would make a comfy resting place for me on the couch. He'd make sure I had the remote in hand or a favorite movie playing, and he'd bring me a little TV tray and set it up in front of me. On the TV tray he'd bring me a drink, maybe a snack, and always some Kleenex for my sniffles. Again, this is something I do for my kids. I always keep an extra box of Kleenex in stock for unexpected illnesses and for allergies. Our family favorite is the kind with aloe. Kleenex has a nice opportunity to share some comfort with your loved ones in a simple way. You can visit their site and send a Kleenex Share Pack. Try it out!

I hope everyone has an illness free holiday season!

This post is compensated and in collaboration with Latina Bloggers Connect and Kleenex.

Friday, November 2, 2012

my mother, this woman.

I know my mother. I know her very well, perhaps sometimes better than she knows herself. I have been her student all of my life. I have studied her, the way my children study me. I can visualize the way she sits, and the way she laughs when she finds something exceptionally funny. She closes her eyes tight, and covers her mouth with her hand. She always tears up when she laughs really hard. She proceeds to wipe her eyes while the laughing slowly subsides, but it often starts up again. I can see her in my mind, the way she eats, methodically handling her utensils in a pattern I'm not even sure she realizes exists. I have all these mental pictures I hope that I can keep forever. Especially because I know the way that thoughts of my grandma make her cry. She misses her mother. I will one day, as well. I hope that I will always have the picture in my mind's eye- of her fluffing her bangs, and applying her lipstick. "Even just a little bit of lipstick goes a long way", she'd tell me. I can still see her putting it on, the way she shapes her mouth. As a young girl this was the bulk of my mother's beauty regimen. Sure there were little jars and tubes with beauty masks and other magical potions, not to mention the crazy contraptions like tweezers and eyelash curlers that every little girl horrifically discovers. Or maybe it was just me. Fascinated, yet apprehensive that these things were really valuable or necessary. Perhaps it was her natural approach to beauty however, that inspired my own. All she needed to feel beautiful was lipstick most of the time. And she was. I can still remember when she would wear shorts, she had the most beautiful legs. I still remember sitting in the front seat of one of her cars and noticing how smooth her skin was. Her beautiful brown skin. I inherited my father's light skin color, but I've always been drawn to this beautiful shade of brown that I was nurtured by. Perhaps that is why I ended up with a man who has a similar shade of skin, and also explains why I was so touched when my youngest baby was born with the same beautiful color. In a world where skin color represents and has dictated many things, for me it means beauty- it always has. I identify with it at a basic, almost spiritual level because it is the backdrop from which my life story began and it is here in which it continues.  

I've been wanting to write about this force in my life for quite some time. My mother, this woman. Although my parents were divorced since I was young, I was lucky enough to have both of them in my life on an extremely regular basis. As an adult, I can see the impact and force that they've had in my life, and I can see how their contributions to my person-hood are reflected in my choices. For example, if it weren't for my parents I wouldn't have been looking for a home to buy, on my own at age 25. My dad contributed in the sense that he taught me how to build my credit, and protect it. He was the practical force he should have been- and prepared me for the option of being a homeowner. My mother on the other hand, was the less obvious force. At a time when the economy was volatile and most people were wondering if purchasing real estate was the right decision, she pushed me with a simple idea that she has always made a part of her own modus operandi. She encouraged me to take a risk in life, and that if I always err on the side of caution that I might miss out on exceptional opportunities. Life is too short for that. I understood. And here I am. Lucky enough to have a beautiful home with lots of space and in a safe area to raise my children. I have a terrible memory but these memories of her are so vivid. I still remember what it felt like to snuggle in her bed, or her nest, as we called it. I remember reading Steinbeck and Hemingway, tucked under her wing at a very young age. She always made a conscious effort to expose us to ideas of culture and encourage our intellectual development. I owe my own intentional notions of motherhood to her.

I am always aware of the impact I have on my own daughters. I know they are my students, the same way that I was hers, and still am to a degree. Because of this- I am able to see that the decisions I make everyday matter to them now, and in their future. As parents, no matter how old our children are- even when they are grown- even if we are not required to "parent" them anymore- our decisions and actions will continue to affect them, at an exceptional level. Our presence or absence in their lives as children and adults, through death or by choice will send them messages about themselves, their worth as individuals, and their place in the world. The relationships we have with them, around them, and even without them will impact the way they raise and love their own children. This is why the responsibility of parenting is so enormous, it truly never ends. Things may not always be picture perfect, people are not capable of being perfect, and we all make a varying degree of poor choices- but as we grow and learn we have to reflect on the value of the outcomes we create for our children. Just like my mother contributed to my life and the development of my character, we are all doing the same for our children for the rest of our lives.

Today is my mother's birthday. A few years shy of 60, I know her life is in an entirely different place than it was when I was born, but she still loves me. She is still around, when she could be anywhere. She has always been a free spirit sort of woman, always wanting to move and discover and live fully- but her roots have kept her anchored. Now, she is more anchored than ever, because she is raising one of my nephews. In her fifties, this woman had to start all over again. She does it out of love, but it isn't easy. Yet she does it. She sacrifices. That takes strength and selflessness. She is still teaching me lessons, and I imagine she will always do so.

So on this day, I say not only Happy Birthday to my beautiful mother, I say thank you, I love you, and I know you. My sensitive, smart, and loving mother.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Paleo Way-leo

After reading my first post, I thought I jumped the gun a little. I intended to do a quick intro of a new way of healthy eating and I presented it like this new diet I found. I think my problem comes with the word "diet". I have never been on a diet, nor had I ever thought I would follow one. I still don't want to put in the mental energy of considering this a diet. I simply consider it a healthier way of eating. I am not trying to lose weight, some are, and that is fine for them, but to imply that this is a "diet" in the practical sense seems disturbing to me when I also share the fact that my children are on this diet as well. But then I think of the facts- we are all on a diet in one form or another. Mine was previously the Standard American Diet (SAD) and it was chock full of thought, decision-making, and meal-planning and execution. This new diet, is full of the same processes with just different ingredients. I choose to cut out processed foods and inferior forms of nutrition as staples of my family diet.

Will I ever eat pasta or rice again? Yes, of course. I haven't had any in two and a half weeks, and I can honestly say I do not miss it yet. Am I feeding my children enough carbohydrates? I take special considerations for their diets and I trust my knowledge and research into the matter. It is not to be taken lightly, but I know that this is a definite improvement from the previous norm around here. I have always been conscious and dedicated to feeding them good food, but I know more now and I have to make educated decisions based on the new information I have. Yes, in part it has to do with nutrionism, but I also understand that the science behind nutrition is a relatively young science and information changes often. We don't have to look very hard into recent food history to see how the research changes. So for now, I see the basics of the Paleo way of eating to be the most closely related to my intuition of what wholesome food for my family is. I am not considering myself to be bonded to restrictions, I see it as being dedicated to healthy choices that allow my family to grow and thrive in the best way possible. This is my job, after all. I only have one chance.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Update and easy paleo recipe: Italian Sausage and Spaghetti Squash

Mmm... I've been enjoying all the food that comes along with healthier eating just as much as I have enjoyed the not so good for you foods that I was eating way too often. I probably spend way too much time looking for foods and recipes that I want to eat but I think it's time well spent because the payoff is worth it.

Quick update on this journey. It wasn't supposed to be a diet, per se, but it turned into weight loss! I knew that if I cut things out like my over indulgences in the comfort foods, I would feel better and not gain, but I didn't really know what "feeling better" meant, or that I would see results so quickly. I should have taken a before and after, I still haven't, and I didn't even think of weighing myself. I went to a doctor's appointment about a month and a half ago and I weighed 123 or 121 (I have a terrible memory, so let's just say it was 122!). So I weighed 122, which is about 6lbs more than I did before I had my 8 1/2 month old baby, and I was feeling like my love handles were bigger than ever. I didn't mind the extra curves, Erik was liking them more than ever (ha!), but I was starting to feel unproportioned- and that is what I was starting to hate. My double chin didn't really help me either, but I was just going along with it. I did start to cut my portions down a little before I even started eating cleaner, because at times I was eating as much as Erik and even found myself shoveling handfuls of food in my mouth, after dinner, while I was cleaning up the kitchen. Not a pretty sight. Anywho, so I went to the doctor on Saturday and they took my weight. I was 113! I couldn't believe it. I had been telling a few friends about how I noticed my love handles had shrunk considerably, and that I felt my stomach wasn't as big- but man, I was shocked. By no means am I starving myself, I eat a lot still, but I know it is because I am eating better. I do not want to lose more weight, I have never been focused on a number, but I don't want to be the skinny kid I was all my life before kids. I just want to feel proportioned and healthy! I sure am starting to feel that way. I now officially know what it means to have MORE ENERGY. It is such a difference to wake up in the morning and not feel exhausted still! I am going to stick to my clean eating and I'm sure I will feel better and better.

Posted a recipe on Instagram (follow me I'm @beekum) today and thought I'd share it here since a friend asked. Super easy and off the top of my head and it was still delicious!

Italian Sausage and Spaghetti Squash 

pack of italian sausage - I chose sweet because I am paleo with children
bell peppers - any color will do
shallots or onion
olive or coconut oil
spaghetti squash
garlic powder

For Sausage:: Grill, bake, or pan fry sausage. I didn't want to get the grill out so I pan fried my sausage. I cooked just enough to be able to slice through into pieces. I removed sausages and sliced them, meanwhile I added coconut oil and began sauteeing red bell peppers, shallots and garlic in same pan. Cook the bell peppers for a while to soften them enough, then add shallots and garlic for last few minutes. After the bell peppers, shallots and garlic have cooked for a bit, add the sliced sausages back in and cook on moderately high heat. I like mine to be a little crispy around the edges. Cook until desired crispy deliciousness is achieved! 

For squash:: Preheat oven to 350. Slice spaghetti squash lengthwise, scoop out all seeds and mush like you would on a pumpkin. Place both halves face down on an oiled (with coconut oil or olive oil) baking sheet or in a baking pan works, too. Roast for about an hour or until cooked depending on the size of your squash. I added a few tablespoons of water about halfway through to get some steam action going. You can tell it is cooked when it looks kinda translucent and you can shred easily with a fork. Shred contents of squash into a bowl or pan. I shred into a bowl and added salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Done! If you wanted, you can do anything with this like stir fry it longer in a pan with desired ingredients- so versatile! Best served IMMEDIATELY, while still hot.

Then, throw your tasty meal onto a plate and devour until the cows come home. To get slaughtered. For tomorrow's steak.

Hope you like it!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

paleo primal - best diet ever

"I'm on a diet," I said in an uncertain voice to a family member as she handed me the comically large serving spoon. The smell of the fresh homemade potato salad danced gracefully upon my olfactory receptors. I took my daughter's plate of leftover dried out hamburger meat, cut into toddler portions, and began to eat them. Eye on the prize, Rebecca, I told myself, eye on the prize. It's just potato salad. I mean, that was probably the first time I had ever turned down fresh potato salad, but I had to keep things in perspective. It was just one party, one day, one encounter. Was it really that hard? No. It was hard for about the four or five seconds I considered just having a little. But I did it.

Okay, so right off the bat you might be thinking this couldn't possibly turn into the "best diet ever" post I shouted from the rooftops last night. Yeah, that was me. No, I wasn't drunk. Don't let my prosaic intro set a dismal mood, however. Because we gotta be honest, any type of diet or lifestyle change, as this diet is often seen, always comes with some sort of change. I had to start somewhere, and that was my first public demonstration of my commitment to better health.

So what is this diet? It goes by a few names such as the Paleo diet, Paleolithic diet, Caveman diet, Primal diet, and a few others I'm sure. I refer to it as Paleo for both descriptive and comedic purposes. We crack a lot of jokes about it around here, that seems to be the way we deal with everything these days.

So, what are the basics? I will make this as simple as possible, because that is what attracted me to it. It is called the Paleo diet because it is supposed to closely mimic our hunter-gatherer ancestors. There is a whole slew of science related research to backup this premise, which I won't get into, but I will provide links to at the end of the post in case you are interested. I just don't have time to get into it myself. I am still reading a little every day though, and have been tweaking the diet to fit my needs, which I will also explain. Anyway, so the basic idea is to eat little to NO Processed Foods. That is what reeled me in. I am a big whole foods advocate by nature, but I found myself in the same place many people do, feeding my family more and more out of convenience. That will be another post in itself. In addition to the cutting of processed foods, we are cutting out Grains in every way shape or form. If you are cutting out processed foods, you end up cutting out a huge portion of grains you were consuming, almost without knowing it. Okay, so the basic foods are Meat and Fish, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts, eggs, and a few additions and exceptions. Some people include dairy, which I will in very small occasional amounts. Some also include legumes, but most agree that if you do, the cooking process needs special attention such as soaking and sprouting your beans. None of the canned, sodium filled, BPA exposed stuff you find in the store.

So, that's basically it. It is all about clean eating, really. I plan on writing about this new lifestyle change for my family. So far, I feel great, I have only had one slip up- but I am not taking on any negative thoughts when it comes to food. It is about providing myself and my loved ones with the BEST food I can. What can be negative about that? It is not as though I will never eat a bowl of pasta again, or that we will never have another pizza night movie party. We just will not make those things anything even close to a regular part of our diet.

Like I said, this is the best diet I have ever been on. Okay, it is the first, but it makes sense to me. I have been making great food, and so far, so good. Here are some examples of meals I've made, followed by pictures. There are dinners and snacks. The tiny portions are the kids plates. I eat a lot more than that. I will keep track of the recipes I make, too. Most of these are just off the top of my head or a slightly altered recipe I've made before to fit our needs.

*Wild Cod, steamed broccoli, and salad w/avocado and tomato
*Rolled fresh deli turkey with organic carrot stick
*All Natural italian sausage and peppers, and a spinach salad w/avocado, tomato and garlic olive oil dressing
*Six Vegetable chicken soup - with Green beans, red bell pepper, butternut squash, carrot, zucchini, and onion. I added some fresh cilantro and avocado on top. Free-Range chicken.
*Romaine salad w/ avocado, strawberry, cilantro, garlic olive oil dressing, and fresh turkey.
*Turkey roll up with fresh raspberries and strawberries
*All Natural Andouille sausage, tomato slices and brussel sprout chips
*Bacon, avocado, chicken wraps
*Chicken Pan roasted in white wine, garlic, and seasoning with zucchini, and prosciutto wrapped asparagus
*Breakfast berries - Blueberries, Raspberries, and Strawberries
-Not pictured- We've had lots of omelets and scrambles with a variety of veggies. Yesterday I made grilled steak with cauliflower mash, salad, roasted green beans, and a fried egg.

Here are some links to more information about this diet. I don't necessarily agree with every single thing these people talk about or do, but it is a good source of information on the basics and they give a lot links for further reading:
Why I Eat Paleo
The Beginner's Guide to the Paleo Diet
What Is the Paleo Diet?

Let me know what you think! I am still excited, and I am enjoying the food I'm making more than ever, because I know EXACTLY what I am eating and what I am feeding these precious loves of mine.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goodbye Summer- Quick update

I honestly plan on writing something every few days, but it is quite hard to find the time to sit and focus on this sort of writing when I'm busy scheduling assignments for homeschool, planning meals, and just taking care of the day-to-day stuff around here. No complaints on my end, just wanted to share my intention. I am going to renew my commitment though, because I have a lot to share with family and friends. Life is good around here, not perfect of course, but it is pretty damn good. I would like to do all the bragging about how awesome my girls are as well as admit how ugly I feel on those days when I want to slip into a coma due to lack of oxygen from yelling at the little rebels.

On a seasonal note, summer is slowly coming to an end. I can feel the degrees, dropping off the thermometer like the leaves will soon be dropping off the trees. I thought I'd share a few of my favorite moments of summer that I actually caught on camera. I need to be better about including me and dad in the pics but here are some of my faves.

Roslyn's 2nd birthday special dinner with her favorite animal friends

Our first camping trip at Lopez Lake

Baby Keira started crawling and she's fast.

Pismo Beach for another year of our camping tradition

lots of outdoor activities this summer - emme's manuscript practice

Our first day of homeschool for our first year!

First foods for Keira

all four of my precious girls

all four of them again for a birthday morning surprise for Luciana, who turned 8 this summer.

On the beach

my oldest child and my brother's oldest child on 4th of July

we did so much nature art this summer, it was great

the girls spent way too many weekends at their papa's house. I think he had a little too much.

so much water play this summer!

it seems like they got wet every day

tin foil river

roslyn's birthday breakfast

dad and I went out way more than we ever have, but we had some good one on one date nights

we had a backyard campout and with a little more planning, we may try this again one day

nature collage by my 3 year old. I think she has a good eye

more nature art in our art journals.

Sorry for the pic heavy post, but I thought they all summed up the summer pretty  nicely. We had so much time outdoors, doing art, getting wet, playing, getting dirty, eating good food, traveling a bit, lots of lazy long days watching movies, and so much more. This summer was our first as a complete family of 6 and I think it will only get better as the girls are all able to enjoy everything together. I am looking forward to fall, but this summer was probably one of the best of my life.