healthy flourless brownie bites

Ethan and I baked today, on a whim. He wanted to make brownies. I had a zucchini to use up. We compromised.

Behold, these super yummy (and healthy) flourless brownie bites!

They contain no flour or gluten or added refined sugar. They're still chocolate-y and delicious and healthy which makes them a perfect special-treat addition to both Ethan's lunch and my (Celiac) husband's lunch. I probably wouldn't say no if he asked for one for breakfast or as a midday snack, so Ethan has that going for him.

Here is how we made them:

1c all-natural peanut butter
1/2c honey
1/4c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp chia or flax seed (ground)
2 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 banana
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 zucchini, peeled

The directions are pretty simple: throw it all into your blender or food processor.

We tossed everything into our Blendtec and pulsed until smooth.

Once your batter is smooth, take your mini muffin tins (lightly greased) and pour in the batter, 3/4 way full.

Bake at 375 degrees for 15-18 minutes. Let cool and then pop out.

This recipe made 40 brownie bites in our mini muffin tins.


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diy (on a budget) schoolwork gallery wall

Ethan makes a lot of art on a regular basis. Between his artwork and his homeschool projects, I sticky-tack a lot of stuff on our walls. In turn, my husband walks around having a conniption fit because the sticky-tack peels the paint off and apparently he doesn't find patching up all the spots a good time, or something. (He's the neat, tidy one in this relationship.) In all seriousness, the mish-mosh of construction paper taped up all around our house ("mommy, look what I made! Hang it up!") is sloppy at best and doesn't give our house that cozy, lived in feel that I've so badly been craving...despite the fact we've been here 8 years and I've still never bothered to really decorate or hang things on the walls. (Oops!) Eight years later, my goal is to get each room in our home up to speed with decoration and that perfect level of cozy.

I have a filing cabinet where I can stash away Ethan's special school projects and art pieces after they've retired from wall-hanging status, but I really needed to work on my display set up. I knew that I wanted Ethan's schoolwork separate from his art pieces. I also knew that I didn't want to invest a ton of money into anything. Behold, my DIY-on-a-budget schoolwork gallery wall!

In our dining room, between the two glass block windows at the end of our table, sat a very empty wall. It seemed like the perfect place to display all of Ethan's schoolwork that we do in tot school and our homeschool co-op. (And eventually in preschool and beyond, though I'm not ready to face that right now, okay? Okay.)

The curtain rods were each $4-and-change from Wal-Mart. The clip rings themselves were my spendy item at $4 per pack at Wal-Mart, though I'm sure you could find them cheaper online with more sleuthing (impulse crafting is how I roll). The frames were $1 and $3 also at Wal-Mart and the pencil I created out of a ruler that cost $0.20.

The pencil "tip" was simply cut from felt with the led colored in with Sharpie.

For my printouts, one was a free printable and the other I threw together quickly and printed out -- both on regular computer paper from my home printer. Can't get much easier than that.

I love that I now have this special wall to hang up Ethan's schoolwork and that it can grow with him as school goes on. But again, I'm not ready to talk about that yet.

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sorry not sorry. literally.

For the past few months, my husband and I have been trying to break Ethan of the habit of apologizing for everything. "Can I have more water, mommy? I'm sorry." "Can I have some more strawberries? I'm sorry." At this point, he can finish my sentence: "Ethan, please stop --" "Apologizing for everything? I'm sorry." It has been driving me crazy and I haven't been able to understand where he picked up this habit.

Until the grocery store, last week.

"Is it possible to please have this loaf of bread sliced?" I had asked the bakery employee. "I'm so sorry," I said as I handed the loaf over the counter. "Mommy? Was that unkind of you to ask for the bread to be sliced?" Instant kick in the ass. From that moment on, I began to notice that I am apologizing for everything -- for my feelings, for my bread slicing preferences, for everything -- and my sponge of a four year old is absorbing it all. And, consequently, doing it, too.

I made a promise to myself to stop apologizing for everything and to let Ethan see that his mother has a backbone.

Of course, I had to find it first.

Today is Day 6 where I've stood up for myself when needed and haven't apologized for requesting a little more milk in my coffee or asking a store employee if they have any more size 8 shoes in the back. I have spent all four and a half years of Ethan's life trying to encourage him to be proud of himself and then wondering why he lets people take advantage of him on the playground. Mom guilt is the real deal, guys.

Sometimes confrontation makes things feel messy and so I avoid it like it was a child with a wet, barking cough at the museum (sorry -- that one is more my idea of a nightmare than the plague, so I changed the old adage). But sometimes you should also say what you're feeling if it's honest and true and needs to be said. And, you know, you don't always have to chase your feelings with an apology.

I think this is just another instance where I'm supposed to be Ethan's teacher and, yet, it is he who teaches me lessons I should have learned a long time ago.

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valentine's day cards for kids by kids

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday! Spare me the whining about Hallmark holidays and commercialization and pass the chocolate and glitter and let's get to crafting. Having kids on Valentine's Day makes it even more fun because, unlike myself growing up, Ethan actually has friends and we get to make Valentine's to hand out around town. (I have a real fear about my child asking me for store-bought, boxed V-Day cards one day so I'm milking this joint crafting thing as long as he will let me.)

This year, we snapped a quick picture:

LOVE tee by The Blue Envelope

From there, we added a little text and printed four images per page, each sized to 3x5 and printed onto cardstock. Ethan helped cut the cards out and then we got to work attaching the little chocolate hearts.

Okay, we may have eaten a few. But we had enough left to finish this project, which means it was a success all around.

Totally cute, right?! Valentine's Day Pinterest-mania, here we come.

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how would you change the world? a watercolor project for kids

Lately, at four and a half, Ethan is really into asking these big, philosophical questions. Sometimes I'm not ready for them. Especially at 3 a.m. when he wanders into my room wondering about the Trojan War, or inquiring if we can work together to end homelessness. Mostly, though, I'm captivated by this age and the wonder and intellect that his little brain can conjure up at any given moment. There has been such a burst between four and four and a half and I am loving just talking to him. (Which is good, because he never actually shuts up.)

Anyway, we made this watercolor world project. As we worked (which took two days due to the time our world took to dry), Ethan had time to ponder the question: how would you change the world? Given his usual oddly mature level of insight, I was interested to hear what he had to say. His actual response, of course, had me cracking up:

Kids. They say the darndest (and truest) things.

Here's a little more detail into this fun little craft, which looks absolutely gorgeous when hanging on the wall -- especially near a window.

You'll need:
- White paper cut into a circular shape
- Construction paper
- Salt
- White glue
- Liquid watercolors
- Dropper

First things first: get your liquid watercolors ready. Blue and green, of course.

Next, trace your child's hand onto construction paper (and cut out).

Once the traced handprint is cut out, glue it onto the round, white sheet of paper. Even though the watercolors will soak through, the paper will lap it up enough to keep the handprint a lighter shade of blue and green than the rest of the world.

Using droppers is always fun, so Ethan had a blast. He just kept dropping sploshes of green and blue until the little round Earth was completely soaked through. (It needed to dry overnight.)

Once the Earth was dry, peel off the traced handprint. Using white glue, outline the handprint and then drop salt along the glue. (Ethan had fun with this. Some of the salt got elsewhere. Things are more fun when they aren't perfect, right?)

My favorite part, of course, is gluing on the world and finally getting to hear the answer to the "how would you change the world?" question. This one was a beautiful addition to our dining room wall -- and it sparkles so beautifully when the sun hits it.

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don't worry, i'll catch you


Today marks fourteen years that my husband and I have been together. Sometimes I truly do struggle to remember a time when he wasn't such a steady part in my every day, but I suppose that's understandable. After all, I'm not even 30 yet and so for just about half of my life, he's been a part of it. If I close my eyes and remember, I can still feel the teenage feelings that ran through my bones when I saw him walk down that hallway the first time, the first day of my sophomore year (his junior year). I can still feel the intensity and the love-at-first-sight-I-swear-it and the swooning and the seriousness that accompanies all feelings teenager. The rest of it is a blur. In a good way, I mean: all of our lives entwined and swirled up and permeating around us and stuck to our skin in a layer impossible to ever peel off.

Once upon a time, our biggest dilemma was how to survive the school year where I was a senior and he was away at college, a feeling of dread and excitement and impatience and hurt that could bleed you dry. That beautiful boy in the argyle socks and I went on to get married, have two beautiful children, one of whom we will never have the opportunity to raise, and get ourselves strapped in for the crazy-good adventure that is adoption. The road we've traveled has had many bumps and potholes and yet I've felt assured in having the best partner to travel through it all with.

We were married on May 23rd, 2009, but that day has since come to be Wylie's birthday. There doesn't feel like much to celebrate when your child is born into the world blue lipped and silent, and we would rather devote the day to her. January 17th is the day that my husband first asked me, on AOL Instant Messenger (Punxter36 to KissMeImEmo12, respectively) to be his girlfriend. It was the first day that a nervous sixteen year old boy promised a wreck of a fifteen year old girl forever. To us, that is worth celebrating. And so we do, and so we will, because that promise is still one that binds us together more than any marriage certificate ever could.

Today we did something we quite literally never do: we went on a date. We went out for lunch together, which is something we haven't done since Ethan was born. We went to The Cheesecake Factory (and spent a couple hours talking about Ethan, as parents do) and Ethan spent a couple of hours having a blast with my cousin and his wife.

On our one year anniversary, he gave me a card with a lyric from the Get Up Kids written at the bottom. As an adult, I had that lyric tattooed on my arm. And now, fourteen years down in this crazy life together, those lyrics still apply.

I wouldn't change anything...
...you're still my everything.

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After an unusually warm winter, we've had a few days of cold weather. Florida-level cold, anyway. My every thought lately has been consumed by choosing a school for Ethan in the fall (slow down, time) and getting things ready to push forward in the adoption process (hurry up, time). Life has felt like such a constant state of push and pull lately, getting ready and easing up, bursting forward and taking a step back to declutter. Ethan and I have been taking advantage of these cold mornings. They've been an excuse to slow down and think of nothing but hot cocoa with whipped cream and what we can do outside until our fingertips turn numb from the Florida-cold.

The other day we went to a local butterfly garden that we haven't visited since Ethan was about two years old. From the time he was born up until then, we frequented it often. It was a peaceful place to walk and breathe in nature and so we went frequently, although Ethan had no recollection of any of these visits. For him, it was the first time we had been and as his eyes took it all in with such wonder, I felt it in every ounce of my bones. The magic of childhood, I mean. The wonder of it all. The imagination and creativity and whimsy of it all that society tries so very hard to rob from our children. I don't think I've held on to anything as tight as I've been holding on to Ethan's childhood.

Today we're visiting the one preschool on my list for Ethan's first preschool tour. I keep bouncing back and forth between hysteria, depression, pride, excitement. "I wonder if they'll have a potty there," Ethan said this morning as he snuggled up under the covers between myself and my husband. I ensured him they would, and then I worried about the toilets far longer than I should have. Ethan reminds me so much of myself and yet, like all parents, I want better for him than that. I want more for him than that. I want him to grow with the confidence that his childhood is protected, even as it seeps away one tiny bit at a time into this vast, crazy world. "I bet they'll have fun toys, mommy. I want to pick vegetables in the garden there." His excitement is contagious. Hopefully more so than my anxiety.

I worry desperately about each chapter closing and then he reminds me, in his own special ways, that he'll be there in the next chapter, too. Suddenly, it all seems a lot less scary.

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frankly my dear

My wish for you, my children, is to always give a f*ck.

That's not very profound. Maybe it's a little hostile. Mostly it's honest.

Please care. Please care when there are people hurting, bleeding, crying. Please look past your own privilege and care about those whose voices aren't able to sing as loudly and freely as yours. Never turn the other cheek. Give a damn even when people tell you there's no point, even when the peer pressure of apathy is enticing and feels somewhat contagious on particularly overwhelming days that feel futile at best. Fight only hate and injustice, and do so with love.


Even if it is not you being belittled on the playground, even if it is not you being taunted in a crowded high school hallway. Even if it is not the color of your skin or your culture or your beliefs being used against you, care. Stand up for those who are being knocked down. Help them up. Even if it feels like you're merely a crumb, a fleck of dust in the big scheme of life, stay strong. Stay true. Never stop extending your arms to embrace others who are in desperate and dire need of support. Be a crutch for those who have stumbled and know that we all falter at some point.

Shout your politics. Don't be ashamed of your brain and your conscience and your conviction. These are attributes worth sharing. Let the bigots and oppressors know that you are stronger than you look. Even when you feel weak. Even when you feel like the good guys are being swept under a current of xenophobia and fear.

Never give up. Never underestimate your potential, your kindness, your worthiness in this life.

And give a f*ck.


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the p word.

This morning, I made us appointments to tour four preschools over the next four weeks. I had a lump in my throat with each call because I'm not ready now, and I think it's fair to assume I won't be ready by the fall when it's time. Time. Where does it go and how, how, how does it manage to go by so quickly?

We made the decision to redshirt Ethan -- or keep him back a year, due to his summer birthday -- and although we knew then it was the right decision, this extra year at home with him has confirmed we made the right choice. You see, there is so much in life that is out of your hands and that doesn't go right. We had planned Wylie's conception when we did to fulfill my wishes to have two children at home at the same time. This was something that I'd always felt like I missed as someone who was about to begin middle school at the time my only sibling was born. Life sort of veered off in it's own way and as things spiraled out of control, I had to also mourn the loss of having two children home together at the same time before the school years kicked in. For a while, I made peace with that. When I made those four phone calls, I felt the sad tugging at my heart.

It is my wish to use Ethan's Pre-K year as one of transition. I am not at all concerned with Ethan's academic progress, nor am I really concerned with his social progress. Over the past few months, he has blossomed into the boy who follows all of the children around the playground asking if they want to be his friend. We are considering two mornings a week, though I'm open to discussing three mornings if it's something Ethan feels he wants to do, to warm him up to what Kindergarten will eventually entail. Kindergarten. We purchased our home a year before we were married because of the zoned schools and our high hopes and aspirations for our future children and, now, here we are. Just about there. Where does the time go?

I remember reading a quote once that was something along the lines of never regretting the time you spend with your children. I feel that in every ounce of my bones these days. I always have, but now I feel it so much stronger. I know within the depths of my soul that I've appreciated every minute of having my beautiful boy by my side at every second of every day. My partner in everything I do. We're talking six hours a week total and, yet, the thought of his hands not tugging on my shirt or burying themselves in my hair when he's nervous terrifies me. It saddens me. While I know -- and, unfortunately for myself, from a perspective many others cannot comprehend -- how lucky I am to see him grow up, I am still a little sad today.

Ethan, on the other hand, is eager to tour the preschools and asked if he could wear his backpack for practice. Earlier today my husband and I noted how Ethan's days of abstract scribbling have been replaced by intricate detailed drawings -- often with written titles -- and I'm feeling like the ins and outs of the tides of life have run me a little ragged today.

How did we get here already?

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bringing home baby j: the adoption saga, update 1

I was asked on Instagram if I would provide details of our adoption progress, which I haven't done. (I haven't posted much of anything lately, which I need to rectify!)

I haven't provided details because I felt like there was nothing to report, but I guess that those small and seemingly insignificant details? Well, they count, too. While the physical progress has felt slow, especially to us impatient people desperate to bring our baby home, adoption has consumed our family. All Ethan talks about is his future "little baby brother or sister" and, admittedly, it's all that my husband and I think about, too. If I had to describe the mood around here, it would be that we all know there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and now we're just on the long, meandering path -- but the right path -- to reach it.

So far, we have selected an agency. We have decided on a domestic adoption agency based just an hour south from where we live. We received the abundance of paperwork and are chugging through it while simultaneously getting our house baby-proofed all over again and preparing for the arrival of a little one. Today in particular, we picked paint samples for the baby's room and picked up a good conduct report from our local police department, which is part of the required documentation we need to submit with the rest of the paperwork. (I also had to send away for copies of our marriage license and my birth certificate because, well, organization isn't my strongest quality. However, this entire process sure has been a lesson in organization and I'm getting there.) Our next step will be to submit the paperwork and necessary documents with payment to begin our home study (which takes around two to three months to complete) and officially become active with the agency.

Unfortunately, adoption is expensive, and this has been our biggest hang up. We are feverishly saving and have thrown pride to the wind to create a GoFundMe page that many of our loved ones have generously contributed to. I'm trying to organize whatever fundraisers I can while my husband looks into our different loan options.

Most recently, we began our online adoption certification courses, which are required prior to becoming active with the agency. We began things with a transracial adoption course which was pretty enlightening. I especially loved the tips on how to deal with rude questions and comments from strangers and the various approaches that you can take. We just received our certificate for the class yesterday that stated we passed, which seems silly but is really exciting. One more milestone to check off the long list!

Oh, and I bought a cloth diaper.

I mean, mixtapes. Was I supposed to be able to resist?

In all seriousness, we are saturated in excitement and impatience, but in the best way. There is an aura around our family -- hope, I'm guessing -- that has begun to shine again. Right now, we are busy loving a child who we don't know yet with all of our hearts. And we're busy waiting, too. You never realize just how busy waiting can make you until you begin the adoption process.

I promise to update more, both on the adoption front and in general. Life lately has been so busy and exhausting and full and consuming and, at the end of the day, my energy has tapered off beyond the point of feeling comfortable posting. The thing is, when I'm not writing, I'm not as much myself as I could (and should) be, so I'll add that to my long list of resolutions.

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