Category Archives: books

Busy, Busy, and More Busy

I can’t believe that this weekend is NOVEMBER! How did this happen?!?! We’ve been here five months. It’s definitely home now, even though we’re still learning so much.

The job is going really well. I genuinely like it. I’ve still got so much to learn, but I’m definitely comfortable in my position now. That’s a good feeling! Here are some pictures from the past month. My pictures are just not terribly interesting at the moment, since I’m working 40 hours a week, but they still tell a story!

This was taken about three weeks ago. This is my favorite property on the drive to Tendoy. There just aren’t a ton of trees, much less deciduous trees in the Valley. This driveway is lined with these beautiful, huge trees! And at the end of the driveway is a house that looks like Green Gables. Lovely. The drive to Tendoy the last few weeks has just been beautiful. The leaves are all golden! I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the Georgia colors of fall, though. You just can’t beat those reds and oranges in the Smokey Mountains. But, I was prepared to not see any color at all, so I’ve enjoyed the yellow a lot!

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It’s definitely cooled off now too. I’m heating up the van every morning before we leave and Trey’s had to scrape ice for me a couple of times! That being said, the afternoons are incredibly mild and pretty. Also, people told us that a “dry” cold isn’t as cold as a “wet” (think humid) cold and I’d say that’s true. The other morning it was 37, but felt about 50 to me. The snow on the mountains is breath-taking right now and Trey and the boys got snowed on at Cowboy Church last Sunday!

This picture is from my second day of work. I locked myself out of the house during lunch. I only panicked a moment before I realized I’m only a few blocks away, so I hopped on my bike and was fine. But, seriously? The first week of work? I’ve never done that before!

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Because you can never have too many pictures of the World’s Cutest Dog.

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Girlfriend LOVES the wood stove. It’s her favorite spot in the house right now!

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This picture was taken right after Madeline and Sean’s first field trip! They went to Montana. No big deal. They went to a state park called Crystal Park. They had a blast digging for crystals all day with their friends. And the picture looks like dirty rocks, but they both found some really pretty crystals!

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I love how stoic Buttercup is in this picture. Like, she doesn’t have time for any of my shenanigans.

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First sick kid of the sick season… was Charli! Just a little cold, but enough to cause us to pull out the old nebulizer. Poor baby!

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I love this sleeping picture. She just looks like such an intellectual. She enjoys scholarly pursuits.

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Here is a picture of when David’s friend Anthony hung out for the day. She and Anthony were inseparable! I can’t be sure, but I declare that girl was flirting with him! And he was so sweet to her, too. They are one of my favorite families in the church. I’m really looking forward to getting to know them better.

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I just love this picture of me and David.

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And Buttercup. I told you, there can never be too many of those.

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Kid’s Club has been so fun and exciting and challenging all at the same time! Heather has just done an amazing job organizing the whole thing. The kids are loving it and learning a lot, I hope! I’ve never led a Children’s Choir before and I am definitely out of my element. But, it’s been a lot of fun and each week, I’ve gotten better at teaching and the kids have gotten more out of it!

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David looking through the Bass Pro Shops catalogue and day dreaming about what Santa will bring him. He wants everything!

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One of my favorite parts of the day is when we all read together at night. Madeline has really developed a love for reading (finally! I thought it would never happen). We’re still trying to find Sean’s niche, but he is a great reader!

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This picture was taken a couple of weeks ago on a Friday night. Trey and the boys were watching football and the boys just conked out! They never do that, so they must’ve been good and wore out.

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I tried to capture some pictures of the clinic, so you guys could get an idea of what it looks like, but between being ridiculously busy and not wanting to get sued because of not understanding HIPAA laws completely, it’s been hard to capture many. I’d hate to post a picture that accidentally has a patient in it and get sued or fired! But, here’s my view when I’m checking in patients at the front desk. I float between there and the very back, where the switchboard is and we answer phones. I love both positions and have gotten a few funny stories since I started working at the clinic!

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Charli was sick AGAIN when Trey was out of town last week! I ended up having to miss a day of work. He went to Salt Lake City for an Associational meeting. That was a crazy week. I realized exactly how much he does around here and it’s a LOT! He had a great trip, though, and we survived. I wouldn’t want to do the working full-time, single-mom thing very often though. Kudos to those that do! You are super women.

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This picture kind of sums up my life the past decade… trying to have a “quiet time” in the midst of this chaos. It’s like I’m a magnet!

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Buttercup is an expert at finding the sunniest spots in the house! She’s so smart.

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Charli in her “Sweet Georgia Peach” shirt, from MaMaw and Raymond!

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Sisters! I’m so thankful they have each other.

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Driving through Burger King last week (they serve the BEST iced coffee in town, thank you very much) and Trey, the dog, and the kids pulled up next to me. There are some challenges to small town life (you can’t go to the grocery store looking sloppy because you will literally see four different people that you know), but this kind of thing is super-fun!

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There’s those snow-capped mountains I mentioned earlier! This is the view from our living room window.

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The wood stove has been quite a learning curve. I can’t start a fire to save my life (pray I never get stranded between here and Tendoy during January). But, even Trey (Lord of the Flame) has had to learn how to keep the fire going. We have central heating, which most homes here don’t have. So, I’m able to keep the house warm even when Trey’s out of town. I’m very thankful for that! The boys are getting good at helping Daddy haul wood inside.

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This picture was taken at our small group this past Sunday. I LOVE our small group! We’re all so different, but we love each other and being together and learning from each other. This group is such a blessing to our family. This was so sweet because Jorja (three years old) just climbed up in Heather’s lap and passed out. Two of the cutest redheads you’ll ever see!

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The next two pictures are food I’ve made this week. The good and the bad/ugly. That soup is authentic Thai curry! I’m so proud of it. It was really, really good. Our friend Emory taught me how to make it when he stayed with us, but this was the first time I gave it a shot.

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This is the mayonnaise I made. Mmmmm. Doesn’t that look like something that would kill your soul? It did not turn out well. It was an utter failure, actually! But, I’ve gotten some tips from friends and will give it another shot very soon. I’ve read (and heard) that homemade mayo is the best thing ever. Like night and day between that and store bought! So, I’ll give it another shot.

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Trey and David met me at the Savage Grill for lunch today. This may be my favorite picture of the two of them ever! These two are just peas in a pod. David would probably let Trey carry him around in a papoose if Trey was willing!

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So, I hope to post Halloween pictures in a timely manner, but no promises! It’s another busy, busy, busy weekend for us Sapps.

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It Started With Food

*Be warned, this is an incredibly long and somewhat tedious entry. It’s probably only interesting to anyone that has done the Whole 30 program, or is interested in doing it! I’m not offended if you don’t fall into one of those categories!

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So, August 26th (purposefully coincided with the first day of school), our family embarked on a new way of life. We jumped on the Whole 30 bandwagon! I knew it would be great if Trey did it with me, for the accountability, but I knew it had a lot better chance of success if the whole family did it together.

The Whole 30 plan is basically eating paleo (or more specifically eating the way our ancestors did before farming and industrialization. I keep telling the kids, and myself, that it’s eating food the way God created it. Without the chemicals, sugars, and preservatives that we put in our food these days). A big part of it, for me, has been retraining my taste buds to enjoy and appreciate what’s natural: realizing that raisins and peaches are sweet. That nuts do taste buttery. It’s definitely forcing all of us to rethink what we put in our bodies.

One of the first things the authors tell you (and it’s a great book by the way; a good balance of science, common sense, and sound advice) is to ask yourself, “is what I’m eating making me more healthy or less healthy?” I’m honest enough with myself to admit that I can be lazy and I have a husband that loves me and thinks I’m attractive no matter what the scale says, so I had definitely been primarily eating food, for years, that was making me less healthy.

Once the entire family was on board (kicking and screaming) it was an easy decision to make… not necessarily an easy decision to follow through on! Haha!

This is a cookbook I found. Honestly, I haven’t used it much because the recipes are a little fancy for my boring (and somewhat childish) taste buds, but I have gotten some great ideas from it!

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DAY 1

I will say that eating paleo in our culture requires strict budgeting and planning. It just does. Because almost all of your ingredients are fresh, you have to plan around that. My biggest challenge was breakfast. Ummm, eggs and bacon anyone? How about eggs and sausage? I know! How about eggs and… But, again it was retraining our minds to realize that healthy, nutritious foods can be eaten any time! Our second breakfast was baked sweet potatoes with bananas and almonds. And it was delicious!

Here are pictures from my first Whole 30 grocery run…

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This is the first thing I’ve ever done (I don’t want to say diet, because I really want this to be a lifestyle), where I’m not miserably hungry! That’s my favorite part. Every meal, I eat until I’m full. Every meal has protein, veggies, and fruit. Every. Meal.

Our typical breakfast is eggs with veggies (spinach, asparagus, etc.) mixed in and a side of fruit. I’m usually really not hungry again until lunch. I have mastered my lunch salad and I love it! I make my own balsamic dressing, top it with diced chicken and pumpkin seeds (excellent source of protein and a great ‘crunch’ instead of croutons) and voila! Yummy and filling!

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On the way to get the kids, usually around 3 or 3:30 I have a snack. It’s some form of trail mix. This is one of those areas where I trained my taste buds! I didn’t think I liked almonds or coconut or raisins. But I do! I feel like such a grown up.

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Dinner is the most fun for me. Again, it takes planning and a lot of cooking. I’m cooking a lot more than I was before we started the Whole 30. One of our first dinners was steak, mushrooms, and sauteed summer squash. What’s not to love there?

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DAYS 2-7

One part of the program is that good fats are okay. So, we swapped out butter for coconut oil and ghee. I also started saving our bacon fat (something I thought I’d never do!). That’s it in the mug. It adds so much flavor to whatever it is I’m cooking. Plus, I hate waste, so win win!

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Here’s a picture of the guacamole I made (using my mortar and pestle, thank you very much!). It was delicious! I’m not gonna lie… I’d love to know what it tastes like on chips. But, in the meantime, it is pretty dang amazing on carrots!

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The ghee and coconut milk (pictured above) are great alternatives to using dairy. Technically, ghee comes from cows, but all of the dairy is removed from it, so it’s paleo friendly. The coconut milk I just add in to our eggs. It’s not something I’m ready to drink a big glass of yet.

The first day or two were pretty easy. I think it was the excitement of getting started. Days three and four were pretty hard as my body detoxed from all that sugar and stuff.

My biggest praise for this program is that it has expanded our horizons. All of us. The kids enjoy a peach as dessert now. A snack of nuts and raisins tastes yummy and tides me over. The biggest problem has been the money aspect and living in a small town. We don’t have a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s to run to. So, I’ve had to learn to adjust to that. And I’ve had to cut some corners. The kids will eat frozen sweet potato fries (not paleo, but still better than white potatoes) and cake at birthday parties. And it has definitely not been an easy battle. We’re having to talk to them through a lot of meals. But, they’ve done great all in all.

DAY 8

There have definitely been some struggles along the way. We are going through fruits, veggies, and eggs like never before! This may sound silly, but I’ve had to realize that since we’re eating eggs most mornings for breakfast we’re going through a lot more than a dozen a week. And that’s okay. We’re not eating out, and we’re not spending money on a bunch of processed stuff, so it’s okay if I spend it in the produce section. Some things I have noticed? I’m sleepy at night and falling asleep earlier than I have for years (bedtime before the program: 11:30-12:30, bedtime now: 10-10:30). I’m more awake in the mornings even though I’ve had to give up coffee altogether because I just can’t stomach it without cream. I’m going to give it another shot with almond milk, because coconut milk just wasn’t doing it for me. ***Update: Almond milk for the win! Thanks Heather, for the suggestion! My skin is looking better, not as red. I’m not sure, but I think my clothes are fitting just a wee bit better. I have another mild headache today, but not too bad. I’ve also had to accept the fact that we are not wealthy and I just can’t be as strict as the authors of the book would like me to be. For example, they make their own olive oil mayo. Olive oil is not cheap. So, I bought the olive oil mayo at the grocery store. It has some of the “bad” oils. I’m tempted to see that as a failure, but I’ve had to talk myself into believing that it’s okay! Our food is 99% healthier than it was 8 days ago (as Trey keeps encouraging me).

Here’s a bowl of chili I made, per Trey’s request, earlier in the week. No beans, added some zucchini and yummy! I think my guacamole would’ve been amazing on it, so I’ll have to try that next time it’s chili night.

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DAY 14

I seem to have adjusted to the fact that I need to buy and prepare more food, finally. A trip to Winco in Idaho Falls really helped with that, this past weekend. I had heard that prices are crazy cheap there and it’s true. Winco is kind of like a cross between Costco and Aldi. Bulk prices, no frills, but a lot of name brands. I was enjoying my trip through the produce and had definitely noticed better prices, but when I reached the nuts and raisins aisle I almost wet my pants! HUGE bins of every kind of “healthy” nut that is encouraged in the Whole 30 program and the prices were outrageous. I went crazy! I stocked up on almonds, pistachios, cashews, raisins, and dried apple slices (my new favorite snack). I can’t wait to go back!

I’ve also begun the process of coming out of the Whole 30 closet. I, personally, have been very put off by other people and their attempts to eat healthier and work out more, constantly posting about it on Facebook. So, I intentionally kept it close to the chest so I’m not inundating people with this change in our family. However, it’s coming up more and more. The book warns about mixed responses from friends and loved ones and they were RIGHT ON! Some people have been uber-supportive and encouraging, others have made fun of us and told us we were torturing our children, most don’t really care. So, that’s been interesting. I definitely wish I understood the science behind it better (it all makes so much sense when I’m reading the book), but I just kind of smile and nod and explain how much better I’m feeling.

I have to say I’m really proud of myself, Trey, and the kids. They are eating a much wider variety of foods than before. Trey has gotten on board and been so supportive of me and patient with the kids as he explains the whole program to them. He’s also gone down a belt size! I am amazed at how my body is on a strict schedule now. It never has been. I wake up at 6:30 ready to take on the day. I have energy all day until bedtime. Around 8:30 I start to slow down and by 10 I’m ready for lights out! My jeans are definitely fitting better too.

I’d be lying if I said I don’t still have cravings. It’s definitely been easy for me to say “no” to a lot of food. But, food was such an emotional crutch for so long that it’s a hard cycle to break. The other day I passed my driver’s test (second time’s always a charm for me… also actually reading the manual probably helped) and all I wanted was to run to Oddfellow’s and grab a pastry as a reward. I didn’t! But, it was tempting.

DAY 15

Today my children ate eggs and bacon with raspberries for breakfast (before we started the Whole 30 program, Sean was the only child that would eat eggs), and asked for more. My friend Ellen and I went to Oddfellow’s Bakery and Junkyard Bistro (she had to taste some of Salmon’s best!). At Oddfellow’s I drank a cup of Earl Grey and learned that they can make a latte with almond milk (yay). At Junkyard, I ordered their famous garlic burger with a side salad (no tomato soup) and I ate it without the bun. Learning that I can enjoy some of my favorite restaurants was huge for me (I’m a little nervous for when I’m set free in to the “real world” in a couple of weeks)! At dinner, the kids all ate spaghetti squash with spaghetti sauce. I’d say it was a very successful and encouraging day. One of my favorite outcomes of this Whole 30 program is that the kids’ horizons have expanded with what they’re eating! Success!

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DAY 16

Today I realized a couple of things. I was standing at the checkout line in the grocery store. I saw the M&M’s and realized that 2 and a half weeks ago I would’ve snatched those up and saved them up for a midnight snack. While I won’t say the temptation wasn’t there a little, it was easy to pass up. I also realized that I’m not missing my midnight snack like I did at first. I’m perfectly satisfied with a cup of herbal tea before bed (and I can’t believe that’s possible). Another thing I realized is that a sweet potato is like my favorite treat right now. After a long day, that was how I treated myself! That’s so alien to me (usually it’s Ben and Jerry’s). Sweet potatoes are one of my favorite breakfasts now too. A little bit of ghee, chopped up banana, and some almonds for protein and I’m more than full! Yum!

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DAY 19

So, I never mentioned this on these days, but days 16 and 17 of the program were kind of funny. I was insanely thirsty. Like, unquenchable! My mouth was crazy dry and felt like I’d been in a desert for a week, no matter how much water I drank. I finally googled it and sure enough, thirst is a side effect of the Whole 30 program. Apparently, the more protein you eat (a lot more for me) the more water you’re supposed to drink. Well, it seems to have balanced itself out and I did start drinking more water. Day 17 I made 9 loaves of zucchini bread and didn’t even taste a bite. That was hard! Day 18 was Charli’s birthday party and again I didn’t even taste a bite of that cake. And it looked so good. I also ate a sweet potato instead of pizza, like everyone else!

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I did wrap up the cake and freeze it today to be enjoyed in a couple of weeks! I continue to be amazed by how much I’m enjoying nuts and raisins. And I don’t feel guilty after eating them! My taste buds have completely adjusted to almond milk in my coffee and I doubt I will go back to dairy after it’s over. Success! Today, I made my second run to Winco. It’s like Christmas for me. Those bins of insanely cheap dried apples and pistachios just make me swoon. I realized while we were there that I could grind my own almond butter! This has become one of the boys’ favorite treats. They love to dip apples in it. But, it’s so stinking expensive (literally $12/jar). But at Winco I could grind it myself for $6/lb! Woohoo!

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I took one more picture at Winco today. I just love looking at the food we’re eating now. I feel proud at the cash register. I know that what I’m feeding our family right now is completely healthy. That’s a good feeling. It makes me happy to open the refrigerator and see all of the colors.

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Tonight’s dinner was fun. I used chicken stock (that I’ve been making myself, thank you very much) and made turkey meatballs. Once I added the spinach, it was a yummy soup. I used almond flour for the first time in the meatballs. It seemed to work (and taste) just fine!

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DAY 20

Today was discouraging for some reason. Partly because in some ways I feel like I should have washboard abs after just 20 days. I know that seems silly (especially since I’m not working out at all), but I feel like I should be noticeably thinner by now! Logically, I know that I have a long way to go and this doesn’t happen overnight and that my clothes are already fitting a lot better. It’s just one of those days, I guess. I think all women have them. The other part of my frustration today was just poor planning. Usually on Sundays our big meal is at lunchtime and then we have a light dinner. Today, it got away from me and we had a light lunch and then I was at a loss for dinner. I came really close to giving up (on behalf of the kids) and fixing them some cereal that’s waiting for us to be out of the Whole 30. Really close. But, then I looked in our cabinet and saw all of those nuts, raisins, and seeds, and decided that they could do trail mix, instead. They got some protein and nutrients that way, which they would not have gotten from honey nut cheerios. Trey and I had some of the leftover soup from last night, so we were fine. But, I didn’t eat enough so then I was hungry at bedtime (something I haven’t been in 20 days). So, now I’m lying in bed eating dried apple slices and cashews. Again, I have to remind myself that this is better than M&M’s or chocolate chip cookies or birthday cake. But, I still feel like a bit of a failure today. Tomorrow is a new day!

DAY 24

Less than one week. I’m really getting more scared about being released into the “real world.” I don’t want to be like a kid let loose in a candy store, but I also don’t want to be so obsessed with the whole thing that I feel guilty over a little treat. I still can’t believe we’ve done as well as we have these past three weeks. It’s gone by super fast in some ways, and in others it feels so natural now, as if this is how we’ve always eaten. I realized yesterday, that some things will be easy for me to continue to forgo.. the bun on the hamburger? I don’t really miss it. Walking into Oddfellows and not buying a pastry? That’s another story altogether! But, I feel like the book prepares you really well for life after the Whole30 and I’ve seen so many benefits that I don’t think we’ll go back to where we were.

One funny side effect that I haven’t mentioned has been restless legs! I’ve had restless legs sporadically over the last few years, but since we started the Whole 30, I’ve had them nearly every day! I finally googled it and it’s not uncommon. So, I’m going to take some magnesium (allowed) and hope that helps. It seemed to help some people on the forum that I read.

The other thing I keep meaning to mention is that since we started we have not wasted one vegetable or one fruit! Before, I’d buy fruits and veggies at the store very optimistically. But, when it came down to it, we’d end up eating all of the other junk and forgo the produce. Then, a couple of weeks later I’d throw out the rotted produce (that kind of waste makes me batty). Not any more! If I buy it, we eat it. That’s a good feeling!

DAY 25

Just a couple of thoughts today…

#1- Not all almond milks are created equal.

I saw the Organic label and thought “yay!” But OMG ewwww. Not for me. And my coffee is pretty dang important to me. So, I ran to Saveway yesterday and got the Blue Diamond. Who knew two of the same product could taste so different?

#2- Please forgive this picture. I know it really doesn’t look all that appetizing, but it was so, so, so good! I made chili last night for dinner. SEAN made the guacamole to go on top. He did an amazing job! It tasted so good. And, I didn’t even miss my cheese and sour cream! Win win!

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DAY 26

So, today I committed a major Whole 30 sin… and I’m totally okay with it. They are really big on you not eating in front of the TV. You should sit and savor each bite. Talk to your family. Make memories.

For the most part, we have done just that! We are having breakfast together every single morning and it’s a great way to start the day. It’s one of my favorite changes as a family. Before we started the Whole 30, Madeline and Sean would get up and fix a baggie of dry cereal for the kids (wow, that’s embarrassing to admit now) and I’d stagger in and fix my coffee while they ate their baggies of cereal in front of the TV. Finally, a few hours later, I’d eat some cereal or oatmeal. Now, every morning we’re all up and at em and I’m preparing a hot breakfast every day.

And since we’re not driving through eating fast food or stopping to grab pastries from Odd Fellows and soup from Junkyard Bistro, we’re eating all of our dinners together at the table and even most of our lunches (those of us that are not in school).

But, today I cheated. And it was fun. I was watching Persuasion (sighhh) and decided to just go for it. But again, instead of plopping in front of the TV and eating an ungodly amount of junk, I ate a wonderful and filling salad for lunch.

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It was a pretty great way to cheat, if you ask me…

DAY 29

Trey and I have just been talking about what life post- Whole 30 will look like. We’ve agreed that it will look a lot like it has the past month. We will continue to fix nutritious, whole foods at home and enjoy ourselves if we’re out or at a party. We think that’s pretty reasonable and easy to maintain.

I’m getting nervous about weighing myself. Part of me is really curious and the other part of me is scared that I didn’t lose nearly as much as I think I did. I’m sure Trey will tell me that doesn’t matter and we’re all healthier from this past month, but I’d be lying if I said it’s not a fear of mine.

I still can’t believe I did this. Me! I never thought I had it in me!

DAY 30

It. Is. Finished. Except (and not to sound too corny here), it’s just the beginning! We survived the 30 days. We didn’t just survive them, though… we thrived in them! I’m so proud of the whole family. There’s a whole re-entry process for reintroducing food you haven’t eaten in the past month. I’m not quite ready to start that, but I am looking forward to pizza with friends on Saturday night!

I weighed myself at the clinic this morning. I have to confess that I didn’t weigh right before I started the program, but I’d been at the same weight for the past few years. This morning I was 12 pounds lighter than that! 12 pounds in one month? Very exciting and encouraging to continue.

I would recommend the book/program to anyone! At the very least, it’s an interesting experiment. It’s changed our lives for sure. Feel free to ask me questions. I’m not an expert, obviously, but I can give you some tips I’ve learned the past month. I can encourage you those first few days when your body is detoxing and those later days when you wonder if it’s doing any good! I can testify to the transformation.

And when you see me, please feel free to gently remind me and hold me accountable for this!

Last Week

I defy the best meteorologist on the planet to move to Salmon and try and predict what will be happening five minutes from now. Much less tomorrow or three days from now! I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Dark clouds will move in and cover the entire valley for hours. You just keep waiting for the downpour, but then the sky clears and it’s blue and hot as Hades! It has been very, very hot here the past couple of weeks. We’re so much closer to the sun, so I’ve noticed our vehicles get a lot hotter a lot faster. The one good thing is the lack of humidity… if you can find shade (which, let’s face it there’s not a ton of trees down here in the valley) it’s perfectly comfortable.

Anyway, last Monday was one of those dark cloud days. So, swim lessons were cancelled. Madeline was at Water Camp, so the boys and Charli and I went and played at the playground. Usually I give them about five minutes. Usually, I’m so hot we head out or they’re so hot they start wilting! But, because of the dark clouds they played for about an hour and I started reading a book that my friend Andrea had sent me!

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Andrea’s husband helped with some editing, so he got a shout out in the Intro!

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We met Trey for lunch that day at El Taco Grande. It’s kind of like Taco Bell, but we love it! Haha! For a limited time they’re selling pulled pork tacos and they are amazing! They’re Trey’s favorite food at the moment.

The rest of the week was normal stuff… swim lessons, constant contact, and me painting old furniture (one of my favorite pasttimes).

Charli is hilarious right now. She’s got a ton of personality (as usual) and barely takes the time to breathe she’s talking so much. She still has her old-lady tendencies, but we’re seeing more and more of her being a real kid and brave!

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This guy lost his second tooth this week (and the tooth fairy even came on time, believe it or not!). I knew it was loose, so this time I was emotionally prepared.

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Here’s the furniture I painted. This chest of drawers for the guest room was $20 at IKEA. I used some Annie Sloan chalk paint I brought from Georgia and some pulls I got at Hobby Lobby before we left and voila! Much better!

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This piece I bought at my favorite local antique store, The Pack Rat (a very appropriate name, btw). It was just a wooden case and I think the black paint makes it look much better.

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Thursday was the night that two of Madeline’s girlfriends spent the night. They were so sweet and the three of them had a blast!

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Friday I took all the kids (including Madeline’s friends) to the pool. We spent the whole day there! It was so fun. I love having older kids. It’s such a surprise because I loved the baby stage so much. But, I love the freedom and independence they have now. It’s an easy trip to the pool, compared to the last nine years with swimmie diapers, wipes, sippy cups, hats, swimmies, and a million other things. Phew!

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Clearly, not the best picture of me ever. But, I wanted to document this because Charli asked to get in the water. After stressing out with trying to force her last year, I completely let it go this year and decided I would never even mention her putting her little toe in. She definitely took the day to warm up to the idea. She started on the steps and put her feet in. Then, she stepped down up to her knees. Next thing I knew she was putting her face in! Pretty soon she asked me to take her deeper. She would let go of her monkey-leg grip on me and kick her feet. She even “jumped” to me a couple of times! It was a blast, and I do want to pat myself on the back for backing off and letting Miss Independence figure all of this out herself.

Love’s Awakening- A Book Review

This book is the sequel to Love’s Reckoning (review here: https://intothewesternwild.wordpress.com/2014/04/20/loves-reckoning-book-review/). Frantz is just one of my favorites in the Christian lit genre. I will say this one was a bit more predictable than other books she’s written, but still very good. Her style just cuts to the heart. I’ve decided to give my books a rating scale, because I know you all take me and my reviews very seriously. On the Whitney Scale of Good Books I give this 4 out of 5 hearts (because I like girly love stories). So there.

Orlando- A Book Review

I actually never finished this one. I had never read anything by Virginia Woolf and decided I should. I typically love the classics so thought I would enjoy this. The premise was intriguing. The main character lives without aging for hundreds of years, transforming from a man to a woman at one point.

The good points:

-It’s a very quotable book with some funny moments.

-She captures human nature very well.

That’s about it. I found it entirely too wordy. Like Woolf was just trying to impress the reader with her verbosity. We get it. You’re very smart. So were Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and they didn’t have to use all of that nonsense. Anyway, I probably would have finished it, but I had another book waiting and I finally just gave up. I was about 75 pages from being done.

Where the Heart Is- Book Review

Annnnd, I just wrote those other two book reviews as quickly as I could to get them out of the way so that I could write this one.

I believe, and I do not say this lightly, that this is my new favorite book. Favorite. Ever. I’ve seen the movie (Natalie Portman and a bunch of other famous actors are in it) several times and have always really loved it. But, I had no idea it was a book! Until last week when I was pillaging the local thrift store (books are fifty cents there) and saw it.

I brought it home and stuck it on my shelf. Because of general homesickness or stress from the move I had been in some of my old standards that I’ve read a million times. But, I couldn’t get my mind off of the book. So, I went and picked it up.

I fell in love. The movie follows the book pretty closely. Okay, while we’re on the subject I just have to get something off of my chest. I get so sick of people whining that, “the movie’s just not as good as the book…” How do you even compare the two? It’s apples and oranges! They are two completely different media. Can’t we just enjoy each for what they are? Anyway, I’ll get off of that soapbox.

The story follows a pregnant teenager as she gives birth in a Walmart in Oklahoma and her life over the next seven years. She grows and matures and loves and learns. The story has the most amazing, lovable cast of characters. Each unique.

I loved it! It just made me happy. Read it, if you never have! Mama, have you read this? If not, I’ll send it to you. But, I want it back!

A Separate Peace- Book Review

I just finished this book a couple of days ago. I thought it was great! It takes place in the early 40’s at an all-boys’ school in New Hampshire. The story revolves around two friends, Finny and Gene.

I thought it was very poignant and Knowles captured the insecurities and jealousies I certainly felt as a teenager with many of my friendships. He captures youth and all the emotions that go with it so well.

To me, this is one of those classics that every teenager should read.

The Fault in Our Stars- Book Review

This is the YA fiction that is sweeping the nation! The movie’s out now. I probably won’t be rushing out to see it anytime soon.

The book was good. It was very good. It just didn’t quite live up to all of the hype (for me). The story follows a group of kids that have terminal cancer. So, you know it’s going to be a bit of a downer.

I thought the story was very good and sweet and part of it takes place in Amsterdam, so I loved that. I did find the characters a little bit hard to believe. They use vocabulary and reference things that probably 99.9% of teenagers don’t even know about.

For a quick, entertaining read I would recommend it. Though at times unbelievable, the characters are very sweet and make you think.

The Peach Keeper- Book Review

Sarah Addison Allen is just an amazing writer! She’s one of my favorites. Her writing is different than anything else I’ve ever read. Reading one of her books is like eating a macaroon- it just tastes pretty.

Her books always take place in the South. They’re love stories, but bigger than that. They’re about relationships and friendships and family. There’s always something magical in her stories. Not in a witchy way. Just in a magical way.

I have to say, this was not my favorite of her books. It was very good, though. It’s a super easy read (just a few hours). I wish somebody would start making her books into movies. This would be an excellent movie.

She is not a Christian author, so there are definitely “adult themes,” but she keeps it clean, brief, and it never gets too graphic. I think most women would enjoy these books!

Navigating Genesis- Book Review

I just finished reading this book today. I really want to pat myself on the back for getting through it. One of my friends from church passed it on to me. She and her husband are crazy-intelligent. He is, literally, an astro-physicist. They are also involved with an organization called Reasons to Believe. This book was written by Reasons’ founder, Hugh Ross.

I would say a good 1/3 of the book was completely over my head. I was a history major. And that was like 12 years ago. So, a lot of it I had to read several times to understand. A good bit of it, I’m just not educated about. Isotopes and DNA and plate tectonics are pretty much out of the realm of what I understand.

That being said, I’m really glad I read this book. Ross is an old-earth creationist and I was challenged by a good bit of the book. The book makes me want to know more and research more. It also reaffirmed to me that we, as Christians, do not need to be afraid of science. The Genesis account and science go hand in hand.

This is the last paragraph of the book:

“As scientists discover more and more about the realm of nature and everything within it, including ourselves and our beginnings, we can be certain that the evidence for its divine design as well as for the divine inspiration of Scripture will grow in quantity and quality. The basis for such certainty lies in the pattern observed over the centuries, decades, years, and days right up to the writing of this book: advancing research, both biblical and scientific brings an ever-increasing accumulation of evidence buttressing reasons to believe. Let’s keep on learning.”