fourgrainbreadMelissa LaCross

All articles by fourgrainbread

 

Nostalgia, Memory & Senses – Summer Writing

Lately, I’ve been fascinated with the power of our senses. We rush through life, head-down, one foot in front of the other, without a break or a moment’s hesitation. We have time for nothing but our to-do list, working, or cooking, cleaning, folding, cooking, cleaning, folding, etc. We focus on what we prize most in life, and we miss out on the world around us. Yet, in a single moment, one scent, a single memory frozen in time, can break through all boundaries and flood us with a sense of nostalgia. This power overrides all of the things we feel
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Joy in the Little Things – Food Truck Friday

Last week, Tyler and I started our Friday night the perfect way, by packing up the babe, throwing in our blanket and heading over to Food Truck Friday in the Historic South End. While we aren’t Food Truck Friday regulars, we have gone a few times. It’s much more difficult to do in this stage of parenthood with 6:30 bedtimes and hangry meltdowns if the little Sugar Lump isn’t fed on time. E ended up being out of town this past weekend, so he missed out, but he loves going and has his own favorite food truck (he swears by the Pig
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Paleo Cowboy Quiche

This past weekend was the perfect spring weekend. We grilled out, spent time with friends, celebrated Easter, saw family, and shared Easter brunch with some of our community. There is nothing better than good food, friends, and spending time outside. It made me so thankful to live in North Carolina during the spring. For brunch, I decided to make a paleo crustless quiche based on The Pioneer Woman’s Cowboy Quiche. Usually I would make a quiche with broccoli, red peppers, asparagus, or some other veggie. However, I knew several veggies would already be represented at the brunch, so I went
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I Would Have Been a Pharisee – Musings on Good Friday

When I imagine the picture of Jesus dying, I can’t help but believe I would have been a pharisee. I see him wounded and in pain, making effort after effort to breathe – literally suffocating – on the cross. And then I see myself to the side, mocking him and believing he got what he deserved. I see myself denying his identity, convinced in my heart he wasn’t the messiah. This may be a dismal portrait, but it definitely displays the human condition without Christ. If not for his grace, I would be a pharisee today. Reflecting on Passover and
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It’s Not Enough to Just Be Thankful

The last year of our family’s life has been hectic. We endured seasons of late nights, little sleep, over-commitment, too much work, and little rejuvenation. It wasn’t all bad. We have a beautiful baby boy, Tyler and I have put more money in savings than ever before, and we enjoy the community and friendships we’ve built over the last few years. I’ve maneuvered homeschooling E, though it’s rarely easy but amazing anyways, and Tyler has built a pretty decent portfolio in design and photography. I discovered a new-found love for hot yoga and re-entered the running world with some sluggishness.
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A Letter to Our Food Budget

    Dear Food Budget, Get behind me, Satan. Thanks, Melissa   But really. This is all I have to say to our food budget. It’s the biggest source of financial temptation for me. I don’t go shopping and buy new clothes very often. I probably only splurge when I have gift cards, when I’m pregnant and don’t fit my clothes any more, or when my kids need new clothes. I do love a new pair of shoes from Target, though. My food budget, however, is a weekly source of contention for my soul. I so desire to buy fresh,
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Patience and Temper Tantrums

Patience is like a bad visit to the dentist. Just hearing the word makes people cringe or roll their eyes. Here we go again, the same spiel about patience…we watch the minute hand on the clock move slowly, hoping it’s over quickly. Honestly, I’m even dreading typing this post. The problem with patience is it’s a heart issue. Or rather impatience stems from a heart of expectation, pride, and obsession. It’s easiest to see impatience in a toddler – A favorite toy disappears into a drawer or the bowl of oatmeal is empty more quickly than he’d like. This moment
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Valentine’s Day – Seasons and Immense Joy

I’ve felt like we have been sinking for the past few weeks. My heart has been gripped in a vice of fear and despair. Peace has abandoned me for the moment. I can be happy for just a brief second, and you probably have thought I’m fine, if you’re my friend in real life. I haven’t been. Don’t be deceived; I’m good at keeping up a front. It’s been tumultuous. I won’t go in to it because it’s not beneficial, and my journal has been drained and badgered with all of it. Instead, I’m practicing love and thankfulness. I’m thinking
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Compare to Despair

Have you ever given a friend advice or responded to complaints with words much later you wish you hadn’t used? While it’s certainly not the only time this has happened, one particular instance is stuck in my head. Even today, weeks later, I found myself sitting on the floor in the den, playing with Martin, still thinking of what I should have said and what I would go back and say if we shared the same conversation again. It wasn’t even a really important or life-changing moment, but my faulty advice has stayed with me and plagued me. My friend
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Gospel of God

I notice more and more the religion so many churches preach is the gospel of me. God loves me. God is all about me. God is committed to me. God creates his will and commands around me. God wants me to be happy. God wants me to be free. The risk in holding fast to these statements is that we forget the basics of who God is, himself. While God does love us, we tend to focus the gospel solely on ourselves, and somewhere along the line start to believe this idea – God exists to love and please me. While many of us
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2015 – The List

Since I posted my “Hopes for 2015” post, I’ve had at least three people ask me if I would be willing to post the whole list. Initially, I refused. It’s too personal. While I do put myself out there a lot on my blog, posting a list like this names things I hope will happen. What if they don’t, what happens? Will people think I’m a failure if I don’t succeed in all of my aspirations? Will I feel like naming them aloud, making them public, will change them from hopes to resolutions? These are the types of questions I
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Hopes for 2015

Earlier tonight, while getting Martin to bed, I was contemplating the year. Not just 2014 or 2015, but the idea of the year. I’m about to head into my last year of my 20’s, which seems young to some but quite old to others. I was thinking how when I was in elementary school, anything over 18 seemed old. Once I was 18, anything over 55 seemed old, and here I am, almost 30, and 55 doesn’t seem quite as ancient as it used to. In fact, my parents are over 55, and they don’t seem old to me most of
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A Month of Thanks

Do you ever have seasons where you just feel off? I’m crawling through one of those right now, and what I’ve noticed is it takes me longer to process everything. It takes me longer to think through decisions, to let go of silly arguments, to write a sentence, or to realize how blessed I am. These days, I’m doing well if I can simply focus on having a good attitude. I grumble, complain, and fuss like none other. I’m short-tempered and bitter. So I decided it would be more beneficial if I, instead trying to tackle my frustration with only
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Fear Builds Walls

I’ll be honest, sometimes I avoid the computer. I won’t sit down in front of it for days because I know if I do, I’ll write. I pretend I don’t want to write, that I have nothing to write. I’m quite good at convincing myself there are other things that must be done, other good things I might add. But when I sit down in front of the keys, they type for themselves. One or two ideas become a paragraph or two. Before I know it, I’ve written more than I should post. Every good writer must edit. It’s easy
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Broken Words and Weeks

My words are spent. I am speechless and empty. At least that’s how I often feel. I’m realizing that in this season of life, I often have no words. I don’t mean words in the everyday kind of sense. I don’t have a hard time saying, “Please clean up your room,” or “How was your day?” I don’t have a hard time jabbering without really saying anything. I apologize if I’ve done that to you. I can’t think. I can’t write. I methodically put one foot in front of the other day by day. I have plenty of ideas, but
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Eating Well: A State of the Mind

You know, food is one of the most interesting things we interact with daily and yet so infrequently recognize for its multi-faceted features. It’s a necessity. It’s beautiful, colorful, natural, or unnatural. It’s comforting. It’s filling. It’s exactly what we want. It’s exactly what we need. It’s a “solution” to all kinds of emotions – boredom, fear, grief, nervousness, excitement, anger, celebration. It’s misused. It’s delicious. It’s greasy, dry, brittle, flexible, chewy. It’s served frozen or bubbling hot. It’s created for the purpose of sustaining you. It’s been manipulated into worship of the body. It’s spicy, sweet, bitter, tangy, pungent.
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Cabbage Leaves and Closed Doors

I’m going out on a limb here and sharing a poem I recently wrote. Until this poem, I hadn’t written anything in years. Writing poetry used to be ingrained in me, almost a habit I couldn’t break. And then I did. Somewhere along the way, I stopped writing, and I hate that it happened. It’s a practice, like anything else, but something I want to do. I need to do. To write. Slowly, surely, it will come back again. For now, this is what I have to offer. Cabbage Leaves and Closed Doors, for Martin, my sugar lump his back,
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Confessions from a Recovering Pack Rat

My grandparents were pack rats. I blame it on them. It’s possible my mother could have been a pack rat except that my father is neat as a pin (where did this saying come from?), so she has not been allowed to collect things except in her sewing room. Maybe the vice skipped a generation. Either way, I’ve got it, and Tyler doesn’t force me to get rid of things as he struggles with the same issue, so we’re a hopeless case of clutter and fuss.   Not only am I physically cluttered, but I also internally hold on to
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Sugar-Free Stomach

Quick Note: This might get TMI for some of you. So read on if you’re interested in a dissection of my boy’s gut from birth to present. For as long as I can remember, literally since he was born, E has struggled with lactose. They call it lactose intolerance, though he’s never been properly diagnosed. His father is lactose intolerant, so when problems quickly arose after E’s birth, I assumed it was from the copious amounts of milk I was drinking. I would drink a glass or two a day. I probably drank skim milk back then, and not the
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Not Girly, but Feminine

I’m not a girly girl. I never have been, but for years I wanted to be one. I envied all things girly girl, but not anymore. Don’t think I hate girly girls. I don’t. Actually, if anything, I respect them. I don’t know how they do it with matching accessories, jewelry, and lipstick for every outfit. Their manicured hands and pedicured feet are lovely, and a sweet smell always encircles them. So many are incredibly sweet, and I’ve felt loved so many times because of their kindness and etiquette. I am absolutely serious when I say I can’t even imagine
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Applesauce Baby Food Recipe

Martin is 6 months old, and we’ve been doing baby food for a little over a month now. We decided to wait to feed him solids somewhere between 5 and 6 months for a couple of reasons. With E, I fed him right at 4 months, December 23. It was his Christmas present. But with Martin, we wanted to put it off a little longer. One of the reasons is because once you start solids, there is no returning. So selfishly, we decided to wait out of convenience sake for our dinner/night-time schedule. We also waited because our doctor said
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Let’s Be Honest – friends and reality

NOTE: Ironically, I had written a blog post on friendship, but before I could post it, my pastor, Tom Hawkes <– link to his sermons, preached on friendships this past Sunday. It’s better timing than I could have planned, so I had to go back and edit my post, integrating some of his suggestions into my post (thanks, Tom!), as his words are much wiser than my own. Let’s Be Honest, we all have a screwed up view of friendship. At best, we pursue friends for fun, to keep us entertained, and to enjoy community with others. At worst, we pursue
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Blueberry French Toast, sans added sugar

One of the things I’ve been craving lately is french toast. It’s just delicious. That’s all there is to it. Initially, when thinking about Ethan’s birthday weekend, I figured we could make french toast as a special treat. But lo and behold, when I went to make it, I used ingredients made without sugar, and we didn’t add any to our meal. Ethan loved it, Tyler loved it, and it was perfect for me. Hope for special breakfasts + delicious food + no added sugar = Heavenly Melissa. I used sourdough bread, which is delicious, and some versions are made
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A Smattering of Sweets

In celebration of E’s 10th Birthday this past weekend, we had sweets for the first time in almost 9 weeks. Ethan wanted mint chocolate milkshakes, and Tyler wanted cake. We settled on both. Friday night we had family birthday time, a joyous celebration of sushi and milkshakes while watching Hook. Then Saturday, we had cake (a Texas Chocolate pan cake with fudge icing my mom made) with extended family and a few friends after all the guys took a man-trip to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Martin wanted to go but needed a nap, so he stayed home with the
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A Decade of Grace

I don’t really have words to express how I feel today, a decade after my first son, Ethan, was born. I could give a detailed birth story or I could explain how much my life was changed by his presence and how quickly I grew up, but to an extent every mom’s life changes at the birth of her first child, and she quickly realizes how immature she was before the babe arrived. Instead, I just want to express my thanks on this day when I tend to be nostalgic, weepy, and so unsure how to feel. I am thankful
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Governed by the Memoir

I love a good memoir. They’re raw, funny, sad, and real-ish. I say real-ish because memoirs are given more creative liberty than autobiographies. No one actually remembers all of those conversations, and sometimes what we remember isn’t exactly what happened. However, memoirs are based on truth, or at least the truth according to the individual writing it or according to how the individual perceived it as truth. Sounds vague, right? But the thing I love about a memoir, not only me but we as Americans love, is that the memoir is the embodiment of experience. Here in America, we worship
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The Revolving Door

Being in-transit gives everyone the grumpy face. That’s all there is to it. When I lived in Florence, SC, my hometown and a small town of about 45,000 people, we Florentinians used to talk about how Florence was a revolving door type of town, especially for people aged 18-30. People came, stayed a season, and then left again. As a long-time member of the Florence community, the revolving door made things difficult. I always took forever to get to know someone, as I am often tongue-tied and awkward with new people. By the time I would start to really love
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We Quit Sugar – Week 8

This is supposed to be the celebratory “we’ve accomplished our goal” post. We are celebrating, and we are excited it is been eight weeks without sugar, but this isn’t a celebratory post like an end of the school-year party. I’m not writing this to say we did it, we’re done, and welcome back sugar. I’m writing this to say we’ve started a journey and made it eight weeks thus far. We will have many, many more weeks without sugar. I’m really proud of Ethan and Tyler. They’ve both been troupers through this whole ordeal, especially Ethan. I would have never
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We Quit Sugar – Week 7

One more week until we’ve successfully completed our 8-week sugar detox! Time has moved so quickly. It seems as though we just started this experiment, and yet it’s almost as though it’s been part of our lives for a long time. Isn’t that how life works? Quick stat report: I’m down a few more pounds to below what I was when I got pregnant with Martin. I still have some to lose in order to be able to fit into all of my clothes, but I’m getting there. Exercise is super important, and I have more energy and am happier
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But I Don’t Want Cake

I’m really starting to consider what it means for my life if we quit sugar forever. Obviously we’ll come in contact with some every now and then when we’re out because it’s almost impossible not to. Tyler and I are really thinking we won’t have any around the house though, and I’ll keep cooking and exploring life without it. My biggest question and reservation right now is, “What if I don’t want cake on my birthday?” I know it sounds silly, but it’s a legitimate concern. For my whole entire life, all 28.5 years, I’ve had some type of cake
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We Quit Sugar – Week 6

Two weeks to go! During Week 6 I noticed I feel full more quickly. It doesn’t take as much food to make me feel satisfied. The past week has been pretty crazy. We ended up going out to eat two times, and both times my stomach hurt afterwards. I think hidden sugar was the culprit. The first time we went out, I got a Mexican omelette, and the salsa on top probably had some sugar in it. The second time, I got a salad and some soup, and neither had sugar, but the calamari/bread appetizer we had may have had
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I Don’t Want to Die When I’m 100

Do you remember ever believing everyone died when they reached 100? For a period in my life, I definitely thought everyone lived to be 100. I was reminded time and time again this week of how we often view life like children, as if we are all invincible with all the time in the world. In a funny way, I was reminded of how we think we’ll live so long when we’re young. I think most people have seen this video of the little girl who doesn’t want her brother to grow up. I avoided it on Facebook for a
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DIY Sandwiches – The Not Wedding Charlotte

Next week, Tyler and I are doing The Not Wedding in Charlotte. Tyler has been working on getting LaCross Photography off the ground in the last year. While he absolutely loves doing family and wedding photos for friends, his only advertising has been word of mouth. This has worked thus far, but we decided it was time to kick it up a notch. The Not Wedding is a bridal show in the form of a wedding. The couple is already married and just renewing their vows. It’s an innovative way to do a bridal show because it allows the brides
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We Quit Sugar – Week 5

Only three more weeks until Tyler and I have to decide what we’re going to do with sugar in the future. Ethan told my mom this week, “I know Mommy said at some point we’ll stop craving sugar, but I don’t know if that’s going to happen.” He may want sugary things, but he rarely asks for them any more. Honestly, one of the reasons we decided to do this whole thing was because of Ethan’s obsession, all of our obsessions, with sugar. Right after I had Martin so many people brought us delicious meals and dessert, and we got
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Southern Hospitality & Brazil

A few weeks back, during the World Cup, my husband sent me a link to a narrative article titled, “Brazil’s Secret History of Southern Hospitality.” Assuming it had something to do with the World Cup, as he was pretty engrossed in the games, I benched it for a day or two. I enjoy soccer as much as any American (I hope you get the irony here), but I’m not a huge team sports kind of girl. Also, the narrative is long, and I just don’t have that kind of time lately. A few days later, I found myself with ample
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Rules of Civility Book Review

Amor Towles‘ Rules of Civility, set in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s in NYC, is a descriptive portrait of life at the end of the depression. The novel depicts how people were influenced by financial crisis, how some continued to live lavishly, and how others’ lives were ruined because of what they lost during the depression. But the book isn’t just about finances, it also centers around the relationships between men and women from different classes as they struggle to find good jobs, love, and adventure in life. I picked this book up for two reasons: I’m a sucker for
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Easy Sugar-Free Snacks and Breakfast Ideas

Two of the hardest things about going sugar-free are fixing breakfast in the morning and finding easy-to-grab snacks for when we’re on the go or when Ethan wants to grab his own snack because I’m indisposed (nursing). The morning is a struggle because I typically try and have something prepped for Tyler to eat before work, which may or may not mean it has to be either pre-cooked or prepared in a few short minutes as he often jumps out of bed at 7 and must leave by 7:30. This puts a damper on the whole “grits, eggs, and bacon ideal
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Respect Your Children – the fine line between passive parenting and giving grace

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Doesn’t the Bible say for children to obey and respect their parents? Yes, yes it does. Ephesians 6 to be exact. But Ephesians 6 also says, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (ESV). For the longest time I had no clue what this meant, and while I’m sure I don’t completely understand it now, I do feel it makes more sense. When he was younger, E was an easy child. He never threw a temper tantrum, didn’t say ‘No’ to everything as a two-year-old,
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We Quit Sugar – Week 4

We are officially halfway through our sugar detox! Week 4 was such a crazy week outside of the sugar detox that eating healthy and meal planning got thrown by the wayside. We managed to stay sugar free, except for the 1/2 macaroon Tyler accidentally ate at a photo shoot (he forgot about sugar, ate it and I yelled at him to stop) and the brown sugar in the pork tenderloin rub my mother-in-law made (it was amazingly good). So all-in-all I’d say it was a success. I started drinking green smoothies. They make a great lunch and are basically a
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We Quit Sugar – Week 3

This week, instead of giving you all of my input, I’m letting my boys give a brief run-down of our 3rd week without sugar. I interviewed them both to see just how they are feeling about life sans sugar. Tyler – Tyler and I talk about no-sugar frequently, so I wasn’t surprised by any of his answers. I will say that some of his co-workers have told me about moments of weakness where he almost gave in and went and got ice-cream, though he finally did resist. I’m proud of him for resisting, even though he was in a stressful situation.
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The Dinner Book Review

I’m not exactly sure where I heard about Herman Koch’s The Dinner, but for some reason it hit my Summer Reading booklist. Tyler got it for me for our anniversary, and I read it within 5 days. This may be one of the most white-collar, psycho books I’ve read, but it sure sucked me in. The gist of it is that the whole story takes place at a high-brow restaurant in Amsterdam, where two brothers and their wives are meeting in order to discuss their children’s recent behavior. The story delves into the brothers’ past relationship with each other, their families,
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Let’s Be Honest – Grouchy Mom

I’ve been chewing on this quote from Kevin DeYoung’s book, Crazy Busy, for over a month now. “We go day after day, crazy month after crazy month: worried, upset, anxious, troubled, fussing, worked up. Every stain, every school project, every dirty sink, every surprise guest, every surge of responsibility becomes a cause of great panic. To paraphrase Titus 3:3, we live as slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in chaos and envy, hassled by others and hassling one another.” I am so guilty of this type of busyness. Every time E spills something, every time I have
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We Quit Sugar – Week 2

We’ve just finished Week 2 of our sugar fast on Sunday. I think we all agree Week 2 was more difficult than Week 1 for multiple reasons. The newness has worn off, it was the 4th of July (who doesn’t want something sweet then), and we got together with friends a few times, cookies were eaten, but not by us. In order to help us curb our cravings, Sarah Wilson suggests replacing sugar with fat. The high fat items will help make you feel full more quickly and kind of fill in that gap after a meal. We often ate
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Bringing Up Bébé Book Review

I went into reading Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman with high expectations. I’d read reviews, seen it on others’ book lists, and had friends suggest I read it. I actually wasn’t disappointed. Druckerman uses wit, good experience, and an honest approach – sharing struggles and shortcomings in her own parenting. The book explains the spoken and unspoken French parenting techniques she observed while living there with young children. She starts with pregnancy and goes through early elementary school. Druckerman bases her findings off 2 philosophers, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and Francoise Dolto, both highly-acclaimed by the French parents and psychologists. They both
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Let’s Be Honest – False Necessities

Every day, I feel as though I need a cup of coffee to survive. If I don’t have my cup of coffee, I have a pretty killer headache around lunchtime. I also pretty much compulsively check my Instagram feed daily. Sometimes, three times a day, but sometimes only once. I get really absorbed in reading a book, and I love either a dessert or a glass of wine after dinner (lately it’s been the glass of wine or some cheese). But these things won’t literally sustain me. They may make my day better, and I may rely on them for
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Morning Coffee

This morning I am mourning coffee. We’re not giving coffee up. That’s not the issue. I just finished the cup of coffee I started drinking at 7:30 a.m. The last few swallows were cold, and the coffee had been reheated once. It’s actually quite a miracle I only had to reheat it once. Twice is the norm these days. I’m mourning coffee because it’s not the ritualistic experience it used to be. I love a good cup of Larry’s Beans coffee either brewed and black or made in the french press and served with steamed milk. But it’s not just
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We Quit Sugar – Week 1

One week. We’ve only made it through one week of quitting sugar. Surprisingly, it hasn’t been as hard as I imagined. Because we don’t have any sugar products in our house (part of me prepping was to preemptively give away or trash any treats), I haven’t really been tempted to eat something sugary. I wanted sugar. Half of the week, I’d have that urge, right after finishing dinner or lunch, to eat something a little sweet, even something tiny. I knew I was full, yet part of me just didn’t feel satisfied, as though something was missing. Tyler had a
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Our Kitchen Table

We’ve almost made it through our first week cutting out sugar, fructose, and added/artificial sweeteners. I snapped a few pictures of some of the new recipes we tried and enjoyed. Ethan even liked the Carrot Soup. 1. Egg and Avocado Spread on Toast – A few times this week we had sugar-free bread (try whole wheat bread from Trader Joe’s or Ezekiel 4:9 Bread), goat cheese and avocado mash, with an egg on top. 2. Coconutty Granola and Plain Yogurt – I used Sarah Wilson’s I Quit Sugar Coco-Nutty Granola with plain yogurt. 3. Almond Butter Yogurt with Blackberries – You can either
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Knausgaard’s ‘My Struggle’

Has anyone out there been hearing about Norwegian Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 3,600 page, 6-volume autobiographical-novel (is this a thing?) called, My Struggle? In German, it’s ‘Mein Kampf” (sound familiar?). Germany and England wouldn’t even use the title because of how provocative the name. I’ll be honest. I’m skeptical. But a lot of other authors and bookie-folks have been skeptical as well and then couldn’t put the volumes down. In his native-Norway, they’ve even had to declare “Knausgaard-free days,” where people can’t talk about it. Seriously? This is crazy. After listening to this public radio interview with him, I’m quasi-interested, though I doubt I
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Homeschool Summer Fun in Charlotte

Even though homeschool is out for summer, I still have E on some form of schedule for three reasons. Prevents boredom Keeps him brushed up on math & reading Gets us outdoors & doing more stuff Because Ethan’s only sibling is 4 months old, it’s pretty easy to understand why he could get bored easily. Baby Mah-tin is plenty of fun, but not the ideal playmate for an almost 10-year-old. I’ve tried to make the schedule work with Martin’s naps, which can be pretty difficult, but I find we can get out and about once a day. Some days we
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