{oh look, i created a monster.} when spirited parents have spirited children.

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2:30am this morning. I heard my three year old calling for me. Most of the time if I go lay with him he will fall back to sleep quickly. Other times he is awake for hours. I always know within ten seconds of entering his room which one of those scenarios I’m walking into.

If he cuddles up next to me and closes his eyes, I am in the clear. However, if instead of cuddles he blurts out, “I’m so hungwy!” I know I’m in trouble.

This morning he was hungry.

I got him a banana while he cried because, “it’s gonna take you a long time!” Typically getting a banana takes me anywhere from 12-15 seconds, but when you’re that hungry I guess it could feel like an eternity. Maybe. Possibly. Probably not.

I gave him the banana. He held onto the banana while he wiped his tears and sniffled, still recovering from the long wait and the trauma of it all. Then somehow, tragically, the overripe banana broke right in half.

His eyes grew wide with horror.

I gasped audibly.

All of the things hit the fan in that moment.

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This kid is serious about his food. When he is hangry it is not pretty. I’m the same way, so I guess he comes by it honestly. But when you’re hangry, and you’re three, and you’re half asleep, there is no reasoning with you.

His hysterics woke the whole house. He needed a new banana RIGHT NOW! But, as fate would have it, that poor broken banana was the last banana in the whole house. (Note to self. Next time buy more bananas than you could ever possibly need. And then get one more just to be safe.) I told him so and knew that in his mind there was no reason good enough to warrant me not producing a new banana right then and there.

That scene lasted almost an hour.

Because when your banana is broken, the only possible solution is to get another banana.

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That’s the thing with three-year-old logic. It is confident and sure and incapable of seeing how any other point of view could possibly be right. It knows what it wants and when things don’t go its way, the wrath is very real. Also, it doesn’t care who is watching. How public their display might be. They will fight for their truth no matter what.

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This afternoon we went to Whole Foods. I quickly grabbed the two things I needed and made a beeline for the cashier. The day had already been rough, I had chased my kid around the salad bar island for too long while he laughed hysterically AT me, and for my sanity I needed to get out of there. Little did I know my tiny hurricane had the grand finale up his sleeve.

As I checked out his eyes fell on the carts from hell. You know the ones I’m talking about. The shopping cart with an entire kids car attached to the front. It’s long and impossible to steer and you will always clip someone in the ankles while driving it.

Hudson took off running and practically dove headfirst into the plastic police car. I let him sit there and honk the horn while I paid one million dollars for toothpaste. Maybe he could just get it out of his system.

Denial is such a wonderful place to be.

As I gathered my bags I told him we needed to go. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He gestured frantically at my shopping bags, tears already coursing down his cheeks, and screamed at me.

“NO!!!!! Put all of that back on the shelf!!!! We have to start over!!!!!!”

I laughed. Out loud. Because I knew he was serious and I knew what was coming. And sometimes you laugh so you don’t cry.

I told him I was so sorry he felt sad, I know he loves this cart. Maybe next time we can use it.

“PUT THE FOOD BACK! We have to start over!!!!!”

Sometimes you can pretend no one is staring at you if you just don’t look up. I zeroed in on my boy’s face and tried to prevent a scene without restocking my sea salt chick peas. I told him I would put the grocery bags into the police car cart and we could drive the new cart to the car.

You would have thought I suggested he give up cheese.

He was now screaming at full volume, face red and tear-stained, I was pretty sure he was going to hyperventilate as he likes to do when he’s really angry. I knew what I had to do.

I crouched down and basically climbed into the cop car to get my arms around him. I wrestled him out of the car, he was flailing and screaming and furious. And the ridiculous thing is I understood why he was mad. He saw a problem. He knew how to fix it. And I wasn’t listening.

Three-year-old logic does not like to be ignored.

Spirited three-year-old logic becomes indignant, and a little violent.

I hoisted my baby boy, who is filled with so much fire, onto my hip. I pushed our cart with the malfunctioning wheel, out of the store, past the staring shoppers, across the parking lot, while   holding on for dear life to a flailing, and surprisingly strong, three-year-old who was not getting his way.

We somehow made it to the car, he eventually calmed down and fell fast asleep. My head was pounding, my nerves frayed, and I needed chocolate like now.

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I realized there are four ways to handle spirited three-year-old logic.

  1. Scream and cry louder than them.
  2. Give in to their every demand.
  3. Never go out in public ever again.
  4. Be the adult, choose my words carefully, and help my baby learn how to be in control of his emotions. Understand that the process will be a long one and the journey will not always be smooth, but he is so worth it.

As much as number one seems easier and who doesn’t love a good cry? Today I realized all over again the gift that is my youngest son. He is wild, he is fire, he is spirited, he is passionate and he is strong.

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It’s easy for me to see the naughty, to hear the defiance, and want to change his behavior. But once I’m calm, once I stop and breathe, I remember. My greatest responsibility as a mama is not to force my child to fit inside a box of stereotypes, or to make sure he conforms to a list of who he should be and how he should act.

As his mama my job is to love every single part of who he was created to be. I get to celebrate the person he is, encourage his strengths and challenge him in areas where I know he can grow.

I never want that fire in his spirit to be snuffed out. I want it to be used for the extraordinary things I know he is capable of. I just want to teach him how to not let broken bananas or police car shopping carts turn his world upside down.

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And if I want to teach him self-control, I guess I better exercise my own as well. Because, if you ask my mama she will tell you. The child I call Tiny, the one who tests every limit and toes every line, the one who kisses me fierce and hugs me tight. This little person is the spitting image of his mama. Once upon a time I toed every line and tested every limit and made my fair share of public scenes. I knew I was right and hated to be told I was wrong. And God gave me a mama strong enough to handle my fire but gentle enough to teach that red-headed hurricane how to be the very best version of me she could possibly be.

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And she taught me that motherhood is far from easy. There are days I will worry, days I will cry, days I will scream. There will be days like today where the battle of wills seems more like survival of the fittest. But the truth is, the beauty of seeing your child become who they were created to be, playing a role in shaping a life, cheering on someone you believe in more than you ever thought possible, it makes all of those days so very worth it.

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On those difficult days, I am so thankful that His mercies are new every morning.

Also, chocolate is a perfectly acceptable coping mechanism.

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if you’re wondering why i’m terrified of peanuts.

I haven’t eaten peanuts since 2008.

I used to eat extra crunchy Jif by the spoonful and call it dinner. I needed peanut butter like most adults need coffee. Now I won’t touch anything with peanuts anywhere in the ingredient list.

But why? It’s simple really.

I’m scared of peanuts.

I see that confused look on your face and I truly can’t blame you. I also know your next question.

Are you allergic to peanuts or something?

No. But that is a logical conclusion. Unfortunately anxiety is the opposite of logic.

Anxiety. My lifelong nemesis. A constant companion for most of the days I can remember. However in 2008 my chronic, but underlying, anxiety disorder became a full blown panic disorder.

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I was pregnant. Hormones are more powerful than I ever realized. And I lived in crisis mode for nine months. I became paralyzingly afraid that I had developed a severe peanut allergy and if I ate one the worst would happen.

Honestly, peanuts were the least of my worries.

Every second of my life was shrouded in morbid fears that I could not escape. Daily tasks were now risky and dangerous. My physical symptoms spiraled out of control and I rarely left my bed.

And I knew it was crazy. I knew I sounded nuts. I knew no one else was worried about falling through a sewer grate or contracting every deadly disease mentioned on the evening news. I knew not everyone was convinced they were dying.

But you try reasoning with someone knee-deep in a panic attack. It is not typically an effective approach.

Someday I will share my full story of healing and restoration. It would be approximately 79,823,987,564 pages long, but the description on the back would read something like this:

“When an ordinary day becomes the day you have your first panic attack, life probably won’t ever be the same. Six years later I look back on my journey and see the darkest storms of my life but I also see healing, restoration, and hope. Those storms caused total devastation. I was obliterated and left for lost. But hope doesn’t give up. Hope believes, it trusts, it stays. Hope rebuilds what was destroyed. Hope sees what is impossible and knows Jesus still can. Today I can’t believe where I was, how far I’ve come or the beauty of the person rebuilt from that place of desperation and loss. But I know one thing for sure, there is purpose in our pain. Also, I still don’t eat peanuts, but I like to consider that a cute little battle scar.”

Anxiety tried to destroy me. It stole so much, and it will always be a part of my story. But it will not win. Maybe it’s a part of your story, too. Hear me say this. It does not have to win.

I’m not here to talk about how medication or therapy or acupuncture or diet or Jesus (well, I’m always a fan of Jesus) will be your quick fix. I’m not talking about how I beat anxiety and because this and this worked for me it will work for you. I believe with all of my heart that each story is different. Each healing journey is different. But most of all I believe that anxiety does not get to win. Once upon a time I couldn’t imagine beating it and I needed someone to remind me. Some days I still need the reminder.

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I have two babies now. They hate it when I call them babies but I tell them to deal with it because they’ll be my babies tomorrow and when they go to prom and when they have babies of their own. I’ll always kiss them in public too. But I digress.

I have two babies. They are the best thing I have ever done, the most precious thing in my life and that is some scary business.

Mixing motherhood with anxiety?

It’s a perfect storm really.

Like I didn’t have enough anxiety ammunition before there were two tiny people I would do anything for.

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Now I have to keep them safe? I’m in charge of them? Me? The one who is afraid of peanuts and taxi drivers? Now I have to worry about choking hazards and SIDS and correctly installing a car seat?

(Insert a myriad of colorful language here.)

But hold on. I didn’t see this coming. And I have a sneaking suspicion that you didn’t either. Yes you, mama. The one almost ready to give birth or with a tiny one in your arms while you read this. The one who fights fear all day every day. The one who maybe feels like less than a great mama because anxiety monopolizes your time and your sleep and your smile. I’m talking to you. Listen to me.

If you’ll let them, your tiny child will be the catalyst for healing in your life.

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Life is terrifying. We need only turn on the news to understand that this world is broken and life is fragile. It always has been and it always will be. We worry because the worst can happen and someday it might.

But.

Life is more wonderful than it is terrifying. Sometimes I just forget.

When I look at my boys I know that worry is not the legacy I want to pass on. Anxiety is not their birthright. Fear will not define them.

So I fight.

I have fought for six years. I have spent endless hours, and money I didn’t have, to find answers. I have prayed desperate and when words failed me I know Jesus understood my tears. I have doubted. I have questioned. I have been angry and defeated and fatigued. I have screamed at my God in one breath and begged him to save me in the next. I tried to walk away but he followed me.

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And in the worst of the terrible moments, when fear was doing a victory lap, I looked into the faces of the babies I adore and I knew if I didn’t want to fight for me I needed to fight for them. I don’t want to teach them a lifestyle of worry. I won’t.

Today I can hardly believe how far I’ve come. The months of constant panic seem more like a bad dream than a life that I lived. But I did live them. I still worry more than most. Anxiety grips me when I least expect it and takes my breath away. But it no longer controls me.

I don’t know what your journey has been like. I don’t know how you will find healing. But I know it is possible. I know you are worth fighting for. I know my Jesus never leaves your side.

I know my boys may someday face fear that feels unbeatable. That thought brings me to my knees. Not my babies. Not them. Please, no.

I can’t protect them from everything. Including their own fears. But I can show them what it looks like to never give up. I can show them that prayer changes things. I can be an example of vulnerability and honesty and willingness to share my journey if it could possibly help one person. I can discuss anxiety like the true thief it is instead of teaching them to be ashamed or embarrassed by it. I can teach them that life is a gift and to celebrate the beauty instead of being paralyzed by fear.

I can teach them that if a day comes when fear feels too strong that there is always hope.

I will show them that sometimes true courage is driving a car for the first time in half a decade. Tell them that bravery is not just for knights and ninjas. Sometimes the bravest person is the one who flies across the country by herself, shaking and sweating, because anxiety sucks but Jesus makes me brave.

And who knows. Maybe someday I’ll show them that healing is eating a handful of peanuts. Unless you’re actually have a peanut allergy. Then please do not eat a handful of peanuts.

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ten things my husband can sleep through. and why it makes me crazy.

You guys. I am so tired.

So very tired.

I blame it on the fact that I don’t think I’ve achieved REM sleep since my first child was born. That is almost six years people. Six years! That’s a long freaking time to be half awake.

Last night my three year old and my almost six year old took turns waking up every two hours just to torture me and also to remind me why another newborn is just not gonna happen right now.

Sometimes I think about how tired I am and I get angry.

When an Irish girl gets angry it is not pretty. Trust me. I get angry because no matter how hard I try, no matter how long my day, how busy we were, how excited I am for sleep, once my head hits the pillow at night I am just laying there waiting, expecting, knowing, that the second I give in to true deep sleep it will happen.

A child is going to climb into my bed and knee me in the gut for the rest of the night. Someone will need a drink. At least one child will develop a mystery nighttime only illness that will definitely be gone when the sun comes up but for now it is terrible and life threatening and the only thing that will heal them is for me to not sleep at all ever again. There will be a wet bed. A spontaneous bloody nose. Or a dog will vomit ON MY PILLOW.

If I go to sleep something will happen to destroy that sleep so I will just never let myself fully sleep again because then I can’t be disappointed when they literally rip my dreams away from me.

Then I glance over to the other side of the bed and I see my handsome, funny, smart, loving husband sleeping like it is truly his job and he is the employee of the freaking month.

How dare he knock me up and then get a good night’s sleep every single night for the duration of my kid’s childhood while I lay awake and do all of the worrying.

And honestly? I want to smack him. Right there in the chiseled jawline. 

Who am I kidding. He would just sleep right through it.

He has always been able to sleep right through it.

One time I handed him our newborn son because I was deteriorating fast under the pressure of being a new mom, having breasts that felt like they were on fire every time that little person tried to nurse, and zero sleep. I slept hard that night. It was bliss. Then in the morning my husband informs me that he has no recollection of actually being handed the baby and he woke up in the hallway, carrying my child, not knowing how long he had been pacing in his sleep.

He was never allowed to help with the children at night ever again. For their safety and my sanity.

And so he slept. And I let him. But I didn’t like it.

I did actually try to ask him for help at night one more time with our second son. I called his name. I didn’t yell. I didn’t shake him. Just tried to wake him up gently. We lived in Hawaii at the time and our apartment had recently been invaded by enormous centipedes. When he heard me call his name something in him assumed there was a centipede crawling ON him. He jumped out of bed to save himself and RAN INTO THE WALL.

That was the end of asking him for help at night.

During the day we are a team. A task force. An unstoppable parenting duo.

At night?

Not so much.

His sleeping skills are so impressive I’ve made a list of all the incredible events he has managed to sleep through.

10 things my husband can sleep through

  1. A screaming newborn at 2am. No matter how long they scream, no matter how long I laid there and pretended to be asleep to see if he would wake up and get his child, he never stirred.
  2. Being sprayed in the face by an out of control stream of breast milk while the baby screams because he can’t latch on and I cry because I can’t remember what sleep feels like.
  3. Middle of the night snack and drink requests. He snores while I’m a waitress at a 24 hour diner.
  4. Croup attacks, puking kiddos, and growing pains.
  5. Getting peed on by a three year old. The kid wakes up. Mama wakes up. Daddy sleeps in the soggy sheets. 
  6. Seventeen alarm clocks.
  7. Me, throwing the curtains open, and yelling that we have to leave the house in three minutes.
  8. Me, shaking him violently, and screaming that we have to leave the house in thirty seconds.
  9. Dogs barking two inches from his ear.
  10. Brothers fighting, biting, pinching, and kicking. On top of him. All 85 pounds of them crushing his skull. And he’ll never know.

But we all know the one thing he would wake up for. Every. Single. Time. I won’t say it here because my mother-in-law reads my blog. (Hi mom!) But you know it and I know it and that’s all that matters.

Almost seven years into marriage we have reached an understanding. He gets to sleep. He also gets to do the dishes. I’m still tired but I really hate doing dishes so we call it a deal. And we keep the peace.

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See. Peace.

#helovesme #johnnyandgingerforever #heapprovedthispost

Okay now tell me, so I know I’m not the only one, what ridiculousness does your husband sleep through?

confessions of an impatient mom.

They say patience is a virtue. I looked up the definition of patience, just to see if maybe there was a loophole I could cling to for dear life and claim to posses said virtue.

Patience. The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Well crap. That settles it.

I am the most impatient person in the world.

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I have never been a patient person. Growing up I would see something I wanted and immediately the obsession would begin. I would harass my parents, think about it constantly, there may have been some whining involved. Charming right? I was also pretty good with words so I could usually talk my way into things.

Just last week I found a three page essay I wrote to my parents when I was fifteen years old. It was typed, with proper heading, and entitled “The Pros and Cons of a Cellular Phone.” It included golden arguments such as, “If I am ever with one of my friends and they run out of gas or they have a flat tire, someone kidnaps us etc, and they don’t have a phone, I will have one.” I rocked that neon yellow phone hard.

One day I showed up at my house with a dog that my friend was giving away, because the second I saw that pup, I desperately needed a dog. We had Maggie for thirteen years.

Waiting for Christmas morning was torture. Forget about college application responses. And sitting by the phone wondering when that super cute boy was going to call me? No way. I would just call him. Patience may be a problem, but boldness I posses.

I think we all have stories like this. Learning patience is part of growing up. Controlling our reactions is part of maturing. Realizing when something is a want and not a need, I think they call that adulthood. Living with life’s little annoyances, is something we all do. Nobody enjoys slow drivers, or traffic jams, or long lines at target. But most of the time we don’t fly off the handle, yelling at the cashier to hurry it up or lay on our horn in standstill traffic because we think it will magically make things change. (Notice I said most of the time. There’s always that one horn honker.) So then we think wow, I’m a really cool, calm, collected, person. My patience is to be admired. At least that’s what I thought.

Then I had kids.

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Two of them.

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My days were suddenly filled with breastfeeding and cuddling and kissing and staring. My nights were no longer filled with sleep. It is so much harder to feel wonder and awe when your exhaustion is overwhelming. When I heard my tiny son cry in the middle of the night my immediate reaction was not joy and delight. It was frustration, maybe even a twinge of annoyance. Then the entire time I fed him, I was racked with guilt because I wasn’t loving every single second of this motherhood journey. I was tapping my foot and waiting impatiently for him to fall back to sleep so I could also. What was wrong with me?

Toddlerhood came quickly. So did my second son. Managing a two year old and a newborn is similar to climbing Mount Everest. But probably a little bit harder. In my postpartum haze, still nursing a toddler as well as a ravenous newborn, and sleeping almost never, I wondered how we would make it.

But we did, and now here we are.

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The last five years have tested me and stretched me and broken me in so many ways. This journey of motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But it is for the heart who knows imperfection is beautiful and that in our weakness He makes us strong.

The reality is this.

I still sigh too often while they search long for the right pair of shoes. I hurry them more than I let them tarry looking at a tiny bug. My words feel sharp when they delay bedtime or don’t clean up right away. There are days my hands are too busy with a to do list and I know I have missed cuddles we both needed, giggles that bring joy uncontainable, and quiet moments that I cannot steal back.

You see I am still not a patient person. But I do pray for patience every single morning, the second my eyes open and I remember that his mercies are brand new right now and today is a whole new chance to love better, speak gently, stare longer, and choose my words with meticulous care.

I recently read these painful but beautiful words from Mr. Jon Bloom, the president of Desiring God. “The pattern in everything is this, the greater joys are obtained through struggle and difficulty and pain – things you must force yourself to do when you don’t feel like it.”

I always feel like loving my boys deep. But I do not always feel like fighting for the discipline and self-control required to exercise true patience. Sometimes it is easier to throw a tantrum when they throw a tantrum. Or yell at them from across the room instead of dropping my task and calmly discipling them in the way the should go. Too many times I have let words come out sharp and painful instead of breathing deep and choosing words that encourage and heal.

To live a life of patience takes energy and dedication and consistency and a whole lot of patience. It is mundane and exhausting and overwhelming. It is a battle with the strong will of a three year old who knows better than you. It is a struggle with the questionable logic of a five year old.

It is an opportunity to fall on your knees.

When the day is too long and the bickering is too loud. When you cannot do it all and the beds are undone. When they need all of you but you have nothing left.

When motherhood seems too tall a mountain to climb.

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He is enough.

The God that created me and you, the one who loved us first and always. He knows our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, and our weaknesses. He invites us to come to Him. He wants us to ask Him to be strong where we are not. He gives patience. He gives self-control. He gives peace.

But sometimes in the busy I forget to ask. Which is really a shame because oh, when I do ask. When I remember that I cannot carry the weight of our tiny little world alone. When I lay on my face, words fall short, but tears are the cry of my heart. When I decrease so He can increase. Our life changes.

This surrender, this daily acknowledgement that I need Him so desperately, it’s not easy. It is a struggle. It is a daily choice. It is the breaking of patterns and pride worn deep into the fabric of who I am and who I do not want to raise my boys to be. So I work hard to remember, I fight long to die to myself so these boys can see their mama choose Jesus time and time again.

It may not be simple but it is so very worth it.

You see my boys don’t need me to be perfect. They need me to be a mama willing to admit mistakes, ask forgiveness, pray hard, then pray some more, practice what she preaches, laugh hard and love deep. They need a mama who may not be a patient person but who is committed to learning more and more every day how to practice the art of patience.

And that I can do.

So can you.

Along the journey, let’s always remind ourselves. Practice does not make perfect, but practice does become habit. And I want to be in the habit of living a life worthy of their imitation and admiration. Also all of their belly laughs.

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the only chocolate cake that matters.

I’m almost completely positive that my children are plotting against my sanity today. Whining. Fighting. Selective hearing. A dog got hit in the face with a stuffed otter. I was the victim of a biting incident. I may have threatened to sell all of my kid’s toys in a garage sale.

And the worst part of all is that the chocolate cake I would normally stuff my face with on a never-ending, my kids are winning, how can bedtime still be so many hours away, kind of day… is gone. It’s a serious tragedy. I ate the last piece, and licked the plate, in bed last night and I don’t have the ingredients to make another.

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So, instead of eating my emotions, which is totally okay because this gorgeous piece of culinary heaven, is grain free, refined sugar-free, and can easily be made dairy free if you use coconut oil instead of  grass fed butter, I thought I would share my favorite dessert recipe with you. You can mix it all up in one bowl. And every single person who eats food will love it. Unless they hate chocolate. Like my weird husband. But everyone else will adore you for making this. I promise.

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(I adapted this cake from a yummy recipe I found here.)

The Only Chocolate Cake That Matters 

makes two 9″ round cake layers

Cake Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup grass fed butter softened or melted (or melted coconut oil if you want to make the cake dairy free)
  • pinch of sea salt

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic palm shortening
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

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  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Combine the cocoa, almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir until evenly mixed.
  3. Add the eggs, butter, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Beat with a hand mixture until the batter is smooth.
  5. Grease two 9″ round (or square) cake pans with butter or coconut oil. Then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.
  7. Bake the cake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and your kitchen smells like a chocolate dream.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from pans and adding frosting.

Frosting

  1. Put all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Beat with hand mixer on medium high until fully combined and creamy, be careful not to over mix.

Putting it all together

  1. Place one layer of cake on a serving dish.
  2. Add a generous layer of frosting to the top and spread evenly.
  3. Place second layer of cake on top of frosting.
  4. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Finish by sprinkling the cake with cinnamon, and if you’re feeling crazy, some coconut sugar.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge. If the cake is refrigerated be sure to remove  from the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving as the frosting does harden in the cold but will soften up quickly at room temperature.

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Oh and if you’re feeling crazy, add some raspberries. Because the only thing better than chocolate is chocolate with raspberries, am I right?

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Are you hungry yet? Go ahead, get baking. Use this cake for a birthday party or a potluck dish (do potlucks still happen?) or as a coping mechanism. It’s the perfect treat for all occasions. And no, I didn’t ask my threenager to stick his finger into the cake for these photos. It was literally all I could do to keep him from grabbing a handful. But really, who can blame him?

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five reasons to fight for sisterhood.

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I spent most of my free time during high school in the basement of a dear friend, sitting on an old couch, and watching Wrestlemania. It’s hard to picture. I know. But there I was. Me. Maybe one other girl. And lots of dudes.

Because I was one of the guys. Because girls are too much drama. Because I just get along better with boys.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I’ll tell you what I was really doing.

I was searching for as much attention as possible from the opposite sex, and I was avoiding friendships with girls like the plague because girls are scary, and mean and they judge you with their eyes.

High school ended. Then there was college. My first job. Marriage. Babies.

Somehow those adolescent insecurities followed me through it all.

A few persistent women forced their way through my carefully constructed walls, and I eventually learned to love them. Trust them. Need them.

Today, they are the foundation of my passion for sisterhood.

But I get it. I hear your protest. I know you’ve been hurt. I know the scars still sting. I know not all friendships can be saved. I know you feel battle weary and the last thing you want to do is put your heart on the line again. I know she broke your heart. You probably broke hers too. I know she didn’t end up being the person you believed she was. I know promises were broken.

I know it’s easier to text your husband. Binge on Netflix. Stay busy with the kids. Or scroll through Pinterest. Anything is easier than admitting you are lonely. I mean, you are busy, and you are needed, maybe you even have a large family and a doting spouse. You’ll be fine.

I hear you. I have been you.

You can survive without sisterhood.

But can you really live?

Without sisterhood there is loneliness.

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I believe that as women we are our best in community with each other. I also believe that we are all human and every single one of us has hurt someone we care about and most likely each one of us has been hurt by someone we love. This is the reality of relationship.

Sisterhood is an enormous risk. Sisterhood is scary. Sisterhood can make you feel like the awkward thirteen year old version of yourself watching the popular girls walk past while you pick food out of your rainbow-colored braces and try to hide your giant nose pimple behind a novel.

Sisterhood can be terribly uncomfortable in the beginning. Like a new pair of shoes. You will probably get blisters. You might even bleed a little bit. But once they’re worn in there is nothing else in the world you would rather wear.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me. It’s also okay if you sort of wish you could slap me because how dare I assume that every single woman needs sisterhood. And why is she talking about blisters? I understand how crazy I might sound. But experiencing true sisterhood can prove even the staunchest critic wrong.

I’m not here to convince you I’m right. I’m here to share five reasons sisterhood is worth fighting for, and then you can decide for yourself.

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five reasons to fight for sisterhood

  1. Sisterhood tells you when you have food in your teeth. She has your back no matter what and she will always tell you the truth. Because no one wants to walk around with food in their teeth or toilet paper stuck to their shoe or live in a toxic dating relationship without someone telling them the truth. It might be difficult, and awkward and you might be mad at her for a minute but at the end of the day you know sisterhood loves the crap out of you and that’s why she will tell you things no one else will.
  2. Sisterhood comes to your pity party just to kick your ass back to reality. We have all spent days buried under the covers feeling sorry for ourselves. Sisterhood knows when we need her to cuddle up next to us and she also knows when we’re milking it for all it’s worth. Then she drags us out of the depths, kicking and screaming, and reminds us how wonderful the world can be and that we should really become human again. We resist but eventually all the sunshine and all the chocolate and the obnoxious persistent sister convince us that the hermit life is not the best life.
  3. Sisterhood doesn’t pass out when you give birth. Husbands might but sisterhood won’t. Sisterhood holds your legs, tells you to push when all you want to do is scream. And that is how sisterhood loves you through each and every storm in your life. She cheers you on, carries you when necessary, and she knows you can when you’re positive you cannot.
  4. Sisterhood loves you deeper than is expected and longer than is convenient. Everyone is annoying sometimes. I am. You are. Sisterhood loves you even then. She loves all of you. She loves all of me. It’s crazy and nearly incomprehensible to think that we could be loved that deeply, but it’s true. Sisterhood knows your secrets, has seen your worst, has heard it all, and it doesn’t change how her heart loves you. Not one tiny little bit. Distance doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t matter. Your kids screaming in the background of your phone call doesn’t matter. She is truly, madly, deeply committed to loving you and you are just going to have to live with that.
  5. Sisterhood doesn’t knock. and it borrows your favorite dress without asking. The greatest gift of sisterhood is that it is home. It doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t remind you of home. It is home. Sisterhood throws her doors wide open and says come on in, how rude of you to knock. Help yourself to some food. I’ll be busy letting myself into your house and borrowing that dress I love and probably grabbing some tampons because I’m out and those things are stinking expensive. Sisterhood doesn’t ask your permission to do life with you, it just does. Because that’s what sisters do.

So you see, it’s worth the fight. It’s worth the messy of relationship. Because the good is so much greater than the bad.

You will definitely have to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m not saying you have to decide to love manicures if you don’t, or that you have to go to Crossfit if yoga is your jam. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with every woman you meet. No. I’m saying put yourself out there. Have real conversations. And see what happens.

You might connect most deeply with women who have the same passions as you. Or you may find some of the women who become your closest friends are your total opposite. They might introduce you to new things you never would have tried otherwise. Maybe you will teach them about something they will grow to love.

Maybe you will find a little bit of both. Because no two friendships look exactly the same.

You might get hurt again. You might not. But once you find true sisterhood, it will make the entire journey worth it. You can quote me, the one who fought against the idea of sisterhood for way too long, on that.

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There are incredible stories of sisterhood surrounding us and so often we don’t get to hear them. Everyone asks to hear a couple’s love story. Well, what about our sisterhood stories? We need to hear these stories and be reminded that sisterhood is important and wonderful and worth it.

Next week I will be launching a blog series called “A Portrait of Sisterhood”.

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A Portrait of Sisterhood will be a series of posts highlighting friendships. I am currently interviewing and photographing incredible women and cannot wait to share their real stories with you. Sisterhood is not easy, but when I listen to their stories I am reminded over and over again that sisterhood is so worth it. I cannot wait to share these incredible women with you. I hope and pray that more and more stories will be brought to my attention to share with the world because let’s face it, we need to hear them!

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my comment section. my call.

I wrote a blog post last week called “hi. my sons have long hair. now watch your mouth.” It was about my sons having long hair, yes. But at its heart it was a thought piece on how as adults we need to think before we speak to children. Something about this post connected with a large audience and it has been shared thousands of times.

As the number of shares grew, I was very prepared for commenters who disagree with my stance or who wanted to offer a different point of view. I was actually looking forward to it. I enjoy hearing varying opinions, I love intelligent conversation, and I learn so much from people with a world view different from my own.

The reaction to my post was overwhelmingly positive, but inevitably I began (and will probably continue) to get comments from people who think I am a terrible person for letting my sons have long hair. And they made sure I knew exactly how they felt. Not only did they go to extremes to let me know how they felt, they also missed the entire point of my post.

As I read a comment from one such person, let’s call him Bill, using the most colorful language possible and calling my sons names that would make Miley Cyrus blush, I was once again reminded what a gross place the internet can be.

I also felt sorry for Bill who found it necessary to rip other people apart with his words. I don’t know Bill, and he doesn’t know me. Maybe he is actually a really nice person, maybe something I said hit a chord with him and made him defensive, maybe he was having a super bad day, or maybe he just genuinely hates it when little boys have long hair. I will never know. But what I do know for sure is that, no matter what, my comment section will never be a gross part of the internet.

It can be a place for encouragement, education, support, debate, disagreement, polite confrontation. Sure. All day every day I will be okay with that. I invite it. Let’s talk. Like adults.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time I have received comments that stopped me in my tracks and reminded me how public my writing can become. I write a post in the privacy of my own living room and then suddenly the entire world has access. It is overwhelming. And scary. And really sort of incredible. I made a choice to share my thoughts, my opinions, my life, my family. It is not a choice that I take lightly and I understand what it means.

The evils of the internet are real. So is the amazing, life changing power the internet has to create community and relationships and conversations that never would have happened otherwise. I choose to embrace that reality and I understand making that choice means also dealing with the uglier side of the blogosphere.

However, I do not have to let people say whatever they want whenever they want without any repercussions. Enter my decision to put a comment section policy into place for this tiny little blog. I’m a huge fan of the New York Times comments policy and after reading it I realized how necessary it truly is to moderate the conversation in the space I am responsible for. I want to help guide wonderful conversations, not enable internet trolls. And by putting it into writing I don’t have to explain it to every single commenter who begins to cross the line, I can just link them right back here and ask them to comply or find another site to stir up trouble on. My hope is that this policy will make reading my blog an enjoyable experience for the overwhelming majority of my readers who are here for all the right reasons.

johnnyandginger.com Comment Section Policy

  1. Valid email address required. All commenters must provide a valid email address to leave a comment. This address is never made public and will only be used if the need arises to contact you in regards to a comment.
  2. Zero tolerance policy for abuse. Comments that contain profanity, obscene language, personal attacks, or bullying of any kind will be deleted immediately. Repeat offenders will be blocked from commenting permanently. End of story.
  3. Difference of opinion welcome. Commenters are welcome to disagree and discuss topics relevant to the post in a civil and respectful manner. If a conversation spirals into an abusive place the comments will then be deleted.
  4. Relevant links allowed. Please feel free to leave a link in your comment to a relevant blog or article. Links to irrelevant sites will be deleted.
  5. Editorial discretion. I agree to manage the comments on this page by these guidelines but reserve the right to make exceptions when necessary.
  6. Have fun. I love the internet and its potential for community. Enjoy your time here, learn something, meet someone and join in the discussion.

You guys, I’m gonna be honest. There is part of me that gets so overwhelmed worrying about each comment and each person who disagrees with me and tells me so in less than classy ways. Sometimes I think maybe I should just pack it up and move off the grid. And then I remember how my life has changed for the absolute best thanks to the community I have found on Instagram and Facebook and in this crazy blogosphere. The truth is that the beautiful is so much more amazing than the people who try to ruin it for everyone. So if you’re dealing with unkind strangers online and wondering why you even stick around, remember that there is a richness and a rawness and a depth of community here that wasn’t even possible not that many years ago. It isn’t perfect but let’s use the internet as a tool to spread love and community and a couple more cat videos. Or maybe just the first two.

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hi. my sons have long hair. now watch your mouth.

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I always knew my boys would have long hair. I mean the thought of cutting it when they were little just never crossed my mind. What’s more adorable than a sweet baby boy? A sweet baby boy with long gorgeous hair of course. Admittedly this is my own personal opinion, but I stand by it.

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What I never expected, and in hindsight possibly should have seen coming, was the countless people who would glance at my boys for a split second and automatically assume they are girls. It happens ALL. THE. TIME. And I really don’t mind. I look at my kids and I see boys with long hair, but I also understand how a passerby could glance at them and make a quick assumption that long hair equals a girl.

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It’s not always a true assumption, but it is an innocent one.

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When someone refers to one of my boys as a girl, I smile kindly and let them know that he is in fact a boy, with long hair. Most people quickly apologize or simply say, “Oops! of course he is!” and we move on. But sometimes the conversation takes a slightly different path, and then I start to mind.

This was my interaction with a kind and well-meaning cashier last week.

Cashier: Oh she’s beautiful!

Me: Thank you! He is actually a boy, he just has long hair. (Somewhere in the background the child in question is interjecting with an adamant, “I am not a girl!”)

Cashier: What?! (pointing directly at my son while my son sees and hears the whole conversation) You’re telling me this is a boy?

Me: (smiling but desperately trying to move the conversation in a different direction) Yep!

Cashier: (shaking head in disbelief) Seriously? 

Me: I throw his hair in an ponytail when it’s extra hot out. But trust me, he’s a boy. 

Cashier: (jaw literally dropping) You do what?! (looks around frantically) POLICE! POLICE!

The cashier drops the act, winks at me, finishes bagging my purchases and calls me sweetheart as we walk away.

(end scene)

Because really, I felt like I was in a bad sitcom just then.

The issue is not that people mistake my boys for girls. The issue is not that I don’t want anyone to ever say anything that might possibly offend one of my offspring. The issue is not that the cashier suggested I should be arrested for putting my son’s hair in a ponytail.  The issue is not that I can’t take a joke.

You want to know the issue?

When you make jokes about who my child is or is not, when they hear you say that something about them is unacceptable, when you point at them and question what they know to be true about themselves, you change the person they see in the mirror.

The heart of the matter has nothing to do with my boy’s hair length, and everything to do with adults thinking before they speak to kids.

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Even as adults, the words people say to us are powerful. A stranger on social media leaving a hurtful comment can bring all of my insecurities screaming to the surface. How much harder for a child, one who is just beginning to discover who they are and who they want to become, to navigate sarcastic or joking comments centered around their identity.

You can call me dramatic, it has happened before, but consider this.

We see so many kids, children so young, struggling with anxiety and depression and self harm and eating disorders and on and on. So often the blame is placed on their peers or Hollywood. I can’t help but wonder, if they were asked, how many of those precious kids carry deep wounds from the careless words of an adult.

I do not think that the sweet, misguided, cashier wounded my son. In fact my three-year old has seemingly forgotten the whole interaction. But last year, after too many similar situations, my oldest son asked me to cut his long hair. His words broke my heart. “I love my long hair mama, but I don’t want people to think I’m a girl anymore.” We cut his hair the next day. He stared at himself long in the mirror and I asked if he liked his haircut. He nodded, “Yeah, I like it. I liked my long hair better, but now no one will call me a girl.”

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I am left wondering, how many thousands of interactions will my boys have with adults during these precious, formative years of childhood? How many of them will be life-giving? How many will cause them to question their value? Their identity? Their purpose?

How many children have changed who they were because someone told them what they are, who they are, is less than enough?

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I cannot protect my sons from everything. Or even most things. Trust me, I have moments I want to be like the mom from Bubble Boy and never let them out into the real world, lest they scrape their knee or get knocked over by a bully or catch the common cold. I sometimes mutter under my breath in the grocery store aisles, while my kids beg for Froot Loops, about food dyes and gmos and evil marketing companies preying on children with cartoons and preservatives. I have had my heart-broken watching other kids ignore or refuse to play with my boys. I also understand that these are all normal, albeit difficult, parts of childhood. And sometimes they even get the Froot Loops.

The thing I refuse to accept, no matter how normal or common it may be, is adults speaking anything but life into children.

We have all been there. We have all gone through the awkward, uncomfortable, scary, hormonal, acne-ridden journey that is growing up. Remember that before you roll your eyes at rowdy teenagers aimlessly wandering the mall on Saturday afternoon. Think about it before you wonder why the exhausted and overwhelmed six-year-old throwing a tantrum in public can’t control himself. Before you make a joke, ask yourself if you would have thought it was funny at their age, or would it have stung?

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And hey, don’t be afraid to apologize if you say something without thinking.

I’m a red-headed Irish woman who lived most of her adult life in New York. I was born with a temper and a wild spirit. When I think something, I say it. And too often those sharp words land on my boys. I am not perfect. I never will be. I will always make mistakes. But one thing is for sure, my boys have heard, and will continue to hear, me apologize to them when I accidentally say something hurtful.

Because when I say I want adults to speak life into my kids, and any kids they happen to encounter, that expectation starts with me.

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two pounds of almonds. endless possibilities.

I use a lot of almonds. I mean a lot. Living a grain free lifestyle, and loving to bake, means I use almond flour regularly for baking. I use almond milk instead of cows milk for our whole family. And instead of peanut butter we all use almond butter. So, as you can see, almonds are a daily use item around our house.

The problem is, almonds can be a fairly expensive habit to support.

Not anymore.

I will not pay anywhere from eight to fifteen dollars for a jar of almond butter ever again. I will not buy cartons of almond milk that have added unnecessary ingredients. But I will keep my almond habit.

Here’s how.

Every week I buy two pounds of raw almonds from Trader Joe’s. They cost $6.99 per pound which is not too shabby, but you may be able to find them even cheaper by the pound elsewhere. Look around!

What do I do with two pounds of almonds every single week? I’m so glad you asked.

  • I make a jar of almond butter.
  • I make a jug of almond milk.
  • I use the pulp left over from making almond milk and I turn it into almond meal.

Not only am I now spending fourteen dollars a week on products that used to cost me twenty dollars a week, I am also completely in control of what does and does not go into my food. There are no unnecessary ingredients, it all tastes fantastic and it is super simple.

Let’s start with almond butter. You will need a food processor for this recipe. If you don’t have a food processor it is a wonderful investment to make. I use mine almost daily and I’m pretty sure you will too.

IMG_0655Another thing you will need to make almond butter is a decent dose of patience. The process is simple, but tedious and will take a while. At some point you will be positive that your almonds will never become butter. But they always do eventually and it’s worth it.This is what it looks like when I’m ready to give up every single time. But keep going, there is hope!

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See how beautiful hope is?

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Almond Butter

makes 16 oz

Ingredients

  • three cups of raw almonds
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • coconut oil (optional)

*some people choose to add a sweetener such as honey or maple syrup to their almond butter. I find that the cinnamon adds a nice sweet touch without adding an actual sugar but it is also delicious with a tablespoon or two of your favorite sweetener. 

Instructions 

  1. Pour almonds into food processor and process away.
  2. When almonds get pushed against the side of the food processor, stop the processor and use a spatula to scrape the almond pieces off the sides. You will have to do this quite often for the first several minutes. Repeat this step until your almonds become almost almond butter.
  3. Add cinnamon and sea salt and coconut oil if desired (the coconut oil helps speed up the process, and cinnamon and sea salt are just delightful, but you can make almond butter with simply almonds if you want to).
  4. Blend until your almond butter is the perfect consistency and then store in an airtight container. Or eat it all in one sitting with apples or bananas or my favorite almond date milkshake recipe which I’ll share at the end of this post.

Now that was pretty easy, but almond milk is about ten times easier.

IMG_0654For making almond milk you will need a nut milk bag which you can order online or find at some local health food stores. I ordered mine here, it is currently on sale for only $8.99.

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My kids come running when I make almond milk and they ask for it all the time. Sometimes I tell them we’re out of it, even when maybe there might be a tiny bit left, because I need it for my milkshake. Seriously when you guys try the recipe you will understand! But more on that later. Back to almond milk…

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Almond Milk

makes approx 7 cups

Ingredients

  • two cups of raw almonds (many people choose to soak their almonds overnight, there are lots of articles you can read about why this is a good idea. It is not necessary for making the almond milk but if you find you have a hard time digesting nuts, soaking them will help!
  • two Medjool dates (pitted and sliced into quarters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 cups water

Instructions

  1. Put all on the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend the mixture on high for approximately thirty seconds.
  3. Place your milk bag in a large mixing bowl (as seen in the photo above of Hudson staring lovingly at a large yellow bowl) and slowly pour the contents of the blender into the bag.
  4. Tighten the draw string on the milk bag and squeeze all of the almond milk into the mixing bowl. When you think you have all of the liquid out of the pulp, squeeze it one more time just to be sure.
  5. Set your milk bag, which is now filled with almond pulp, to the side and pour your almond milk into a pitcher or milk jar or directly into your mouth. Whatever works.
  6. Enjoy!

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Now you want to grab your milk bag filled with almond pulp and make some almond meal. Simply spread your almond pulp out in a thin layer on a non stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Now toss it into an oven preheated to 170 degrees fahrenheit. You want to bake this at a low temperature, for two hours, to remove any excess moisture left in the pulp. Be sure to stir every thirty minutes, and two hours later you will have almond meal. Now bake whatever you’re craving!

For the record, almond meal made from almond pulp is not quite as fine as almond meal or flour from the store, so it does slightly change the consistency of your baked goods. I use it primarily to make the almond meal biscuits that we use for sandwiches. If I’m baking cookies or a cake I use my emergency bag of Trader Joe’s almond meal. But next time I make almond meal I am planning to try blending the dried out meal in the food processor for a few seconds so it is more fine, and then I’ll try baking a dessert with it. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Now that you know most of my almond tricks, you need to know the most important one. Using the almond milk and the almond butter that you just made, you MUST make my favorite milkshake of all time. I found the inspiration for it here and only made simple modifications. I am not ashamed to tell you I eat this almost every single day.

Almond Date Milkshake

serves 1 (but you should probably double it because your kids will try to steal it)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2-4 Tbsp almond butter (my opinion is the more the better)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until you have a thick creamy consistency.
  3. Eat it right away and then make another one because you know you want to.

So there are all of the ways I use and enjoy almonds. I’m addicted and I’m okay with it. Now go buy some almonds! And tag your almond goodness to #thecrunchyconfessional so I can see how it went!

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thirty-two things i’ve learned about being a mama.

Last week I turned thirty-two. So I figured, why not share a list of thirty-two things I have learned about being a mama? Naturally this post is fashionably late because some tiny people demanded every second of my attention and every ounce of my energy over the weekend and I had to write this list in between preparing snacks and wiping butts and building Lego sets and refereeing wrestling matches. They are so lucky they have dimples.

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Thirty two things I have learned about being a mama.

  1. Childbirth is painful. Babies are worth it.
  2. Recovering from childbirth is NOTHING like they show on tv. It is messy and painful and exhausting and there is no mascara involved. Hollywood needs to stop the lies.
  3. It is completely normal to drive away from the hospital, or birthing center, or exit the birthing tub in your living room, with your newborn and be in literal shock that they handed you a tiny person and let you keep it. I mean what do you know about being responsible for an entire human being? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. And our kids are just fine.
  4. Yoga pants are always an option.
  5. Simplicity is underrated. 
  6. There will always be a catastrophe the second you try to shower or nap or poop.
  7. It’s not a TRUE catastrophe unless someone is bleeding.
  8. Listening to your kids is not the same thing as really hearing them.
  9. Embrace the minivan.
  10. Comparison has the power to destroy me. And you. Fight it. Hard.
  11. Target is out to steal all of our money and also to cause enormous embarrassing tantrum scenes in the Lego aisle. To avoid the tantrum, run past the toy aisles while covering your kids eyes. People will stare, but who the heck cares? You are winning at life.
  12. Busy is not better. In fact it’s way worse.
  13. Sugar is the enemy. The beautiful, delicious enemy out to destroy attitudes and teeth and bedtime.
  14. Playing with your kids is never a waste of time. Even though your weapon sound effects are embarrassing and your super hero voices are laughable. All your kids notice is that you are there. With them. Doing something they love.
  15. Jesus loves you. Even when your patience is short and your voice is sharp. Even when you’re locked in the bathroom hiding from your hurricane of a toddler and reminding yourself to breathe. And even when you’re tucked tight in bed bingeing on Friends and anything chocolate you can find.
  16. Take the time to put yourself in your kids shoes. It will change how you parent. And teach them how lovely empathy is.
  17. Other mamas are not the enemy. In fact we’re on the same team. Act like it.
  18. Kids wake up earlier on the weekends. Netflix is your friend. Before you leave an opinionated comment about screen time, please reread number seventeen.
  19. You will always be five minutes late, no matter how many empty threats or weak bribes you throw at your kids, they just won’t stop taking time to enjoy every tiny stick and bug and spider they see. Maybe you need to take a lesson from them on enjoying the little things. Also you should probably leave ten minutes earlier.
  20. Notice the wonderful in your kids more than you notice the naughty. Then take the time to tell them.
  21. Assume the best of your kids. Of other kids. Of other parents. Of yourself.
  22. Prayer is powerful.
  23. It truly does take a village. Ask for help. Offer help. We are so much stronger together.
  24. You will never take sleep for granted ever again. Or having more than four inches of your own bed to sleep on. Or privacy. Or peace and quiet. Or your waistline. Or peeing alone.
  25. Whining is mama kryptonite. If our kids ever find out they will officially win.
  26. Selective hearing is the super power every child is born with. They perfect their skills at a very young age. Be vigilant.
  27. Dance parties can instantaneously fix almost any problem.
  28. Grace is a gift. Give it. Receive it. Live in it.
  29. Poop jokes bring kids endless amounts of joy. If you tell a poop joke you are automatically the coolest parent. Ever.
  30. Trust yourself. You have totally got this.
  31. Live a life worthy of your kids imitation. Let them see you make mistakes. Hear you ask for forgiveness. Watch you pray, read, serve, laugh and love deep. Oh, and being silly. Definitely let them see you being silly.
  32. Your kids are not perfect. You are not perfect. But you are perfect for each other.

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