Friday, August 30, 2013

Michael J. Fox is back!

Always Looking Up - The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist book by Michael J. Fox - There are many words to describe Michael J. Fox: Actor. Husband. Father. Activist. But readers of Always Looking Up will soon add another to the list: Optimist. Michael writes about the hard-won perspective that helped him see challenges as opportunities. Instead of building walls around himself, he developed a personal policy of engagement and discovery: an emotional, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual outlook that has served him throughout his struggle with Parkinson's disease. Michael's exit from a very demanding, very public arena offered him the time-and the inspiration-to open up new doors leading to unexpected places. One door even led him to the center of his own family, the greatest destination of all.
The last ten years, which is really the stuff of this book, began with such a loss: my retirement from Spin City. I found myself struggling with a strange new dynamic: the shifting of public and private personas. I had been Mike the actor, then Mike the actor with PD. Now was I just Mike with PD Parkinson's had consumed my career and, in a sense, had become my career. But where did all of this leave Me? I had to build a new life when I was already pretty happy with the old one..
Always Looking Up is a memoir of this last decade, told through the critical themes of Michael's life: work, politics, faith, and family. The book is a journey of self-discovery and reinvention, and a testament to the consolations that protect him from the ravages of Parkinson's.
With the humor and wit that captivated fans of his first book, Lucky Man, Michael describes how he became a happier, more satisfied person by recognizing the gifts of everyday life.

Being part of a family that deals with disability every day I am eager to see how it is portrayed in Michael's new tv show.  I hope that they rise to the occasion and show the realness that we all long for in tv.  Not the "reality tv" real... but the genuine, heart of the matter real that is so rare in the media.  I want to see their struggles and their triumphs.  I hope we get to see his faults and his ability to rise above those faults to be a good husband and father.  

NBC's The Michael J Fox Show

A couple of other shows I am looking forward to seeing resume this fall are:

Parenthood - My hubs and I watch this show together and frankly...  I want to be a Braverman!  ;-)  But really, it is an awesome show that is full of relate-able characters and relevant storylines.  We appreciate the delicate way they have sensitively touched on serious issues like Max's Asbergers, infertility/adoption Kristina's cancer, and PTSD in military personel.  Eager to see whats in store for the Braverman clan this year!

Once Upon A Time - This is our girls night show.  My girlfriend and my sister usually watch this together, though there has been talk of my brother joining us too since he caught up on the first two seasons over the summer.  Its fun to see fairy tales come to life in a little more of a grown up way.  And seeing all the intricate connections between fairy tale characters is typical of the writers who created Lost.  Excited to see what new characters we get to meet this season!

What shows are you looking forward to this fall season?

Thursday, August 29, 2013


Its safe to say we've been through our fair share (maybe more) of cabinet locks, door locks. fridge and stove locks,and other misc child proofing products.  Sadly most have been only temporary solutions.  Most of them say they are made for use with children ages 6mos-24mos, etc.  Joe has gotten stronger and his reach is ever growing and it has become a safety issue, especially in the kitchen.  After much frustration, a couple of close calls with the stove and several broken dishes we decide to put in a faux half-wall/bookcase with a gate to keep Joe and Christine out of the kitchen.

It seemed like a simple idea in the beginning but in order to make it sturdy enough to be safe it
became a bigger project than we anticipated.  We bought three black bookshelves on Craigslist for $40.
Nate and I painted the back of the bookcase with chalkboard paint.
Isaac bolted them together, reinforced the bases, bolted the whole thing to the concrete slab underneath our carpet, and added the modified baby gate.
So far so good... its kind of a pain in the butt to make sure its always closed but its less of a pain in the butt than worrying about Joe opening the oven or pull a pot of water on his head while I'm cooking dinner.  I'm so proud of my hubby and thankful for his hard work making this project happen!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Great Products Tshirt Review and Giveaway!!

I was recently contacted by Great Products to do a review and giveaway of one of their tshirts.  I debated on whether to get one of the awesome shirts they have for moms or to get one for Nate...  I figured most of my other giveaways have been ones that related to me, so I decided to let him pick one.  He was so excited to browse the wide selection of cool t-shirt designs but he picked the one that I had predicted he would.

If you can't read it, it says "Homeschooler by day, Ninja by night".  I mean, what 8yr old boy doesn't want to be a ninja?  ;-) Nate loves his shirt and would wear it every day if I didn't have to wash it every couple of days! Seriously.

I was impressed with a lot of the cool designs that Great Products has available.  They have Christian and homeschool specific designs too.  And the prices were surprisingly affordable!  Especially with their $5.99 tshirt special going on right now!

So,  don't miss out on this Labor Day giveaway!  There are several ways you can enter to win a Great Products T-Shirt via the Rafflecopter below.  Giveaway ends at midnight on Labor Day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*the shirt was given to us in exchange for the review/giveaway but the opinions shared are my own.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Going Out to Dinner Gluten-Free Style

One of the hardest parts of going gluten-free is dealing with dining out.  There are great resources out there that offer tips on dining out gluten-free.  Here is an article posted on that is pretty detailed.  And Urban Spoon has a list of gluten-free friendly restaurants.

In addition to having a gluten-free menu Red Robin also offers a gluten-free bun. I did call ahead to my local Red Robin to make sure they serve the gluten-free bun and they do!

Olive Garden (one of my long time favorite restaurants!) has a gluten-free menu that offers a good selection of delicious looking items that are safe for gluten-free customers and suggestions on substitutions.

Mexican food has been a part of my diet my entire life.  I remember being amazed when I was a kid and watched my mom and my grandmother roll out flour tortillas for family meals.  They were so fast and that little ball of dough quickly became a perfect circle under their skilled hands and a wooden rolling pin.  So naturally I have a love for Mexican food still.  Here is a great post that offers tips on how to ask the right questions when you eat gluten-free at Mexican restaurants.  Taco Bell has slim pickings for gluten-free customers but Chipotle and Qdoba offer a selection of gluten-free options including burrito bowls and crispy tacos.

A particularly difficult cuisine is Chinese.  Many soy sauces have gluten in them and that makes it very difficult to find menu items that do not contain gluten.  Here is post with tips on eating at Chinese restaurants.

How could I do a post about dining out without including pizza?!?  The following pizza places (in our area) offer gluten-free pizza:  Incredible Pizza Company, Monical's, Rockstar Pizza, Fox's Pizza Den, BJ's Brewhouse, Dominos... we have yet to try them all but don't worry, we'll get there.  Maybe I'll do a post comparing pizza places sometime down the road.  ;-)

Now I want to emphasize that while a gluten-free diet has been recommended for Joe and Christine because of their developmental delays, none of us suffer from any severe allergies to gluten (that we're aware of).  So, we may be a bit more lenient than some int he area of cross contamination and such. If you have serious allergies you may want to consider an allergy card to use when dining out.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

CSA Recipes

Being a part of a Community Supported Agriculture produce co-op this summer/fall has stretched my cooking skills or at least broadened my range. The produce is so fresh and crisp.  We have all noticed a difference!  Ok, well, maybe not the kids.  ;-)

Stuffed Peppers Soup

Mashed Potatoes with Garlic and Kale

Unstuffed Cabbage Rolls

Make months worth of green smoothies

Swiss Chard Egg Casserole

Quinoa Stir Fry

Chocolate Gluten Free Zucchini-Banana Muffins

Stir-Fried Cabbage

If you are interested in finding a CSA near you check out this link.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Passport to Summer Fun Update

While our summer was not jam packed (not totally by accident) we did have some good times with friends and family.  Here was our Passport to Summer craft playdate.
And we went strawberry picking with a few friends...

And enjoyed a couple of fabulous playdates.  This one had a lot of water play for the kids!  And lounging in the shade for the moms!
We got out of the house for Lunch Bunch a few times.  It involves free food and free books so you know we had to go!  Once the fire department came and hosed the kids down!  Fun!
And we even managed to make it out to the pool a couple of times too.
And, yes, the pool on our deck totally counts.  ;-)

What fun things have you done this summer?

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

UnWired Mom Challenge Update...

Well, I've been doing Sarah Mae's UnWired Mom 14-Day Challenge to help me be an active participant in my children's day.  I had gotten into the habit of turning to avoidance when things got hard.  I'd waste hours doing nothing on the computer just to get a bit of respite from the chaos around me.  But I know its not what God intended for me, for our family.  So, I am working on changing my habits.

It is 2013, there are things that I need to do on the computer.  But I am doing my best to limit my computer time to those things and not to disappearing into a cloud of craft blog posts.  ;-)

Frankly, its been hard!  Old habits are hard to break and I find myself slipping often.  I've been doing a pretty good job during the day but as soon as the kids are in bed I plop myself down at the computer and avoid the housework that I should be catching up on or even the reading I could be doing.  I am working on it and will continue to do so.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

Monday, August 12, 2013

Back to School...

Joe was the first to go back to school.  While we had a pretty good summer I think it was a little underwhelming for Joe.  I could tell he was really excited to go back to school.  And frankly, I was excited too.  He is a lot to handle 24/7.  Its nice to have a break from him during the day so the rest of us can get some things done uninterrupted.  We are thankful to have the same life skills teacher as Joe had last year.  We are looking forward continued progress toward Joe's goals throughout this school year.

Christine returned to developmental preschool a couple days after Joe.  Its nice that she has the same teacher and therapists that Joe had in devprek.  I'd be a lot more uneasy if it wasn't for the familiar faces. Christine is doing well in her class. Although she definitely seems ready to see me when she gets home.  This is the first time we've had her ride the bus.  Its a little bittersweet for me... she's my baby! 

Nate and I have taken advantage of a little time alone with a few fun outings to kick off the school year.  We have started to make a tradition of going shopping to pick out a "back to school outfit".  Its a stereotypical thing to do for most kids... except that he's homeschooled... and we're going to Goodwill.  ;-)  We've tackled Chuck-E-Cheese, gone hiking at the 100 Acres nature park at the IMA, the library, and had a lunch playdate at the park with some friends. 

For me there are mixed feelings about getting back into the routine of the school year.  While there are a certain amount of freedom available in summer that we'll miss there is also a bit of comfort in the routine that we will soon settle into.  We were pretty relaxed this summer, lots of late breakfasts and lazy days around the house... getting up and moving bright and early is proving to be a challenge for me.  I'm going to have to start adjusting my bedtime.

On the upside, I'm hoping the time alone with Nate will allow us to do some fun things together and tackle our new curriculum.  Nate can be tricky sometimes.  While he is very intelligent, he flip flops between being frustrated at something being too easy and then being frustrated when something is even a little challenging.  He is very critical of himself and gets down if he struggles with learning or remembering anything.  Which makes things hard on both of us at times.  One of many things we will be working on together this year.

Proverbs 3:5-6  -  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Party Like Its 1983!!!

I knew I wanted to do something fun for my sister Shan's 30th birthday... and decided to go with an 80s themed party.  I didn't realize til after I picked the theme that so much of the 80s stuff is kind of back in style now!  Why?   I don't know, but it helped out with the party planning!
I freezer paper stenciled the birthday girl a tshirt that said "Made in 83".  She loved it!  In the pix above she is holding the 80s goodies that each of the girls got: a cup w/ lips on it, a flavored chap stick, jelly bracelets, and Pop Rocks!  ;-)
While some of us raided Goodwill for our totally rad outfits... at least one of our gals used all stuff she already owned!  What does that say about her wardrobe?  ;-)  jk
I love that the girls really got into the spirit of the party.  Everyone's outfits were so much fun!
Following our awesome dinner at The Tamale Place we headed to the Drive-In for a double feature!  I was god tired when I fell into bed at 2:30am!!  I'm too old for this late night business!

Here are a couple of helpful links for planning your Awesome 80s Party!  

Glad we were able to help my sis celebrate her 30th in "style"!!  ;-)   Love ya, Sis!

“Life moves pretty fast. You don’t stop and look around 
once in a while, you could miss it.”
 – Ferris Bueller

still being [molly]