Monday, March 14, 2011

Mama Kenz is leaving the building...

For quite some time now I have disliked my little blog here. 

I have long been frustrated with my name. 

The look doesn't suite me. 

The entire feel of it has just seemed to be missing the mark. 

I almost exclusively do reviews here, which is not my heart- I am a writer and artist at my core and I want my blog to reflect that. 
So, I have decided to break ties with this here place that I have resided in for 3 1/2 long years-
HUGE, I know! 
I'm packing my bags and heading for my brand new blog- on Wordpress no less!  I will be returning to the essence of blogging- writing about beauty and life and truth.  I'm not setting boundaries or expectations- just going to blog the way I really want to.  Some days I'll be funny, some days I won't.  What is important is that I will be blogging, and much more consistently at that.

Are you curious yet?  Want to know my name and new identity?  Alright, here goes...

You can hop over there to see a little bit of what I have already posted, why I chose that name and how things are shaping up in general.  I am still in the "moving-in" phase, but it feels good and right.  I feel inspired again which is wonderfully refreshing!

Of course, I would love for you to follow me there and join me in this journey- I wouldn't be a blogger if I didn't!  You'll see a few different ways to subscribe and follow in my new blog's sidebar and I dearly hope you will take advantage of them.  It would be exceedingly cool too if you dropped me a line to let me know what you think of my new digs!

I will still be blogging about our homeschool and family life over at The World According to Them and will pop back up here a few times over the next couple of weeks, finishing reviews and tying up loose ends. 

Some of you may also be curious to learn that the idea I had behind the blog I started last year- The Research Years (writing letters to my kids and their spouses for them to read in the future)- will also be moved and finally carried out on BOLD Turquoise.  So if you are interested in that, please do come check it out.  You can learn more about the whole idea right here.

I want to thank you all for being wonderful followers!  Just knowing that you're listening is what drives me on and gives me motivation.  So, thank you, thank you, thank you!  And I hope to see you soon at

BOLD Turquoise!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby- Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review The Christians Mama's Guide to Having a Baby, and being the doula and birth advocate that I am, I just HAD to check it out!

I should just say that I knew from the get-go that I probably wouldn't see eye-to-eye with a lot of what Ms MacPherson had to say about birth itself, however I had high hopes for the Christian aspect that she would bring to pregnancy.  As far as that went I would have to say that she didn't disappoint.  I thought that she did a very good job of giving Christian and Biblical perspective of dealing with the woes and worries of pregnancy.  She sites lots of scripture throughout the book, and in the sense of keeping you focused on the Lord while you're growing a baby I do think that this book could be a valuable resource.

As for the medical side of things.  Ms MacPherson admits right from the start that she is not a medical expert and is a lover of epidurals.  Even with that said however, I do believe their were a few small things that she mentioned that were probably based more on hear-say than medical accuracy.  I was glad to see a good amount of page-time given to midwives and out of hospital birth, but the whole idea of home-visiting midwives seemed to be completely missed.  She also lumped the tests and procedures of pregnancy performed by doctors and midwives during pregnancy together, which is fairly inaccurate as well.

Erin MacPherson has a nice writing style and put a good amount of effort into being relatable.  I would likely only recommend this book to my clients or friends who I felt had a good, factual basis to rest their ideas about birth and pregnancy on already and who I thought wouldn't be skewed by some of the obviously more hospital/doctor-friendly parts of this book.  However, I would recommend it for ways that women can remember the Lord through their pregnancy.

And here is the required review info for me to include with a FIRST Wild Card Tour:

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books.  A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured.  The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between!  Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

and the book:

GuidepostsBooks (March 1, 2011)
***Special thanks to Sharon Farnell, Publicity Manager, Planned Television Arts for sending me a review copy.***


Erin MacPherson lives with her husband and their two adorable children in Austin, Texas. She was an editor and staff writer for the Nickelodean ParentsConnect website for years, where she spent hours each week researching pregnancy, talking to obstetricians and midwives, and giving out tips and advice to new and pregnant mamas.

Visit the author's website.


Filled with helpful tips, amusing anecdotes, and encouraging advice, here's one mama's take on everything pregnancy -- from stretch marks to weight gain to figuring out how to rely on our creator through all of the uncertainty and joy of the next nine months. Pregnant women may discover that while they are thrilled about the baby, pregnancy can be another thing entirely. Instead of glowing they're glistening. There's morning sickness. And suddenly a favorite pair of jeans no longer fits. Erin MacPherson has created a comprehensive guide that's packed with information that every newly pregnant mama needs including exercising while pregnant, a detailed guide to each trimester (including sleep, doctor check-ups, pregnancy sex), what to buy and not buy for your baby, how to use your Bible as your pregnancy resource, and how to use this time of waiting to really draw closer to God through prayer. Filled with helpful tips (how do you quell that not-just-in-the-morning sickness?), humorous accounts (doesn't everyone crave peanut-butter-and-olive sandwiches?), and supportive spiritual advice (what does a godly pregnancy attitude actually look like anyway?). The Christian Mama's Guide to Having a Baby has the advice a mama-to-be wants to hear. Erin MacPherson assures, 'at the end of nine months, you really will be glowing.'

Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: GuidepostsBooks (March 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0824948580
ISBN-13: 978-0824948580



You're Havin' a Baby!

      The fact that you're reading this probably means you're pregnant. Yep. YOU are pregnant. Has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? If you thought your graduation day or your last birthday or even your wedding day was exciting and exhilarating and amazing, just wait until you hold your little bundle in your arms for the first time. The feeling is breathtaking. I get misty-eyed just thinking about it. That said, you have eight months (give or take) to wait before that misty-eyed moment so don't start packing your hospital bag yet.

      I've always wondered how God created the heavens and the earth in seven short days and yet it takes nine long months to create a baby. Nine months. Seems like an eternity, doesn't it? I remember getting so irritated when people told me that my pregnancies would pass in the twinkle of an eye. They swore that I'd be holding my baby before I knew it. That's kind of hard to believe when you're carrying around twenty (er, thirty) extra pounds and gagging every time you catch a whiff of someone else's dinner.

      But, really, your pregnancy will be over before you know it. In the meantime, you're probably going to need some girlfriend-to-girlfriend advice to get you from point A—the miserable, exhausted, growing-by-the-minute, gagging, vomiting and sweating point that you're most likely at right now, to point B—the glowing, ecstatic, sleep-deprived-but-you-don’t-care-at-all point that you'll be in less than forty weeks. And that's why I wrote this book. 

      I remember during my first pregnancy, the first thing I did after peeing on a stick was head to the bookstore to find a book that would keep me informed about what to expect (nausea, bloating and night waking) and what not to expect (a glorious time where I could eat unlimited amounts of ice cream while my husband massaged my feet). Not surprisingly, there were oodles of choices; there were pregnancy guides for new moms-to-be, old moms-to-be, young moms-to-be, and tall moms-to-be. There were pregnancy guides for dads-to-be and grandparents-to-be and second-cousins-to-be. But there was nothing for Christian moms-to-be.  So, I did what any somewhat sane mother-of-two would do.  I wrote my own Christian pregnancy guide. 

      The good news is that I’m not going to bore you with medical jargon. It's not that I don't like medical jargon (when I was pregnant, I loved reading books that told me all about the medical feats that my body was performing while growing a baby), but simply that I'm not a doctor. In fact, I don't have any medical training at all (unless you count the fact that I took—and passed—health education in high school). So, if you're looking for medical rhetoric and big-word-laden advice for a magical medical breakthrough that will quell your ever-present nausea and keep your weight gain to a minimum, this probably isn't the place.

      But, while my medical expertise stops at "take some Tylenol and go lie down," I do have some pregnancy expertise. I've been pregnant twice. My sisters have all been pregnant. My friends have all been pregnant. Heck, a few months ago, my dog got pregnant. I've been surrounded by pregnancy nonstop for the past six years, and as I dealt with morning sickness and weight gain and decorating a nursery, I gleaned some pregnancy knowledge.

      I also had horrible pregnancies. I know. I shouldn't be saying that to new moms-to-be, but for the sake of honesty, I'm going to throw it out there. I went through the ringer during my first pregnancy and swore up and down that I would never, ever survive and that if by some miracle I did survive I would never, ever, ever get pregnant again. Well, I survived. I fell in love with my baby and promptly got pregnant again. And you know what? I survived the second awful pregnancy too. And, if we're being honest, I'd take another pregnancy (or two)), God willing. In an instant.

      You probably don't want to hear this right now, but it is worth it. Every time you gag. Every time you throw up into your mouth. Every pound you gain. Every sleepless night. All of it. It's worth it. Just wait. I promise that nine months from now, you're going to be e-mailing me and telling me I was right.

      I won't say I told you so.

Chapter 1

Getting Into the Pregnancy Groove

Being Pregnant and Loving It

      You figured out how to actually get pregnant (go you!), now you have to figure out how to be pregnant.  And contrary to popular belief, being pregnant isn't as simple as remembering to take your prenatal vitamins, which is a feat unto itself.  Pregnancy is exhausting, exciting, exhilarating and stressful all at once, which means that you're going to be exhausted, excited, exhilarated and stressed for the next few months.  Not an easy thing to be—especially when you're gaining weight at a rate of three pounds per week.

      I hate to even say this to a pregnant woman, but the next few months might not be the best months of your life. (Sorry!)  I think my biggest misconception about pregnancy was that I expected it to be easy. I thought I'd be bubbling with baby-growing joy for the entire nine months. Maybe that’s true for some people, but it wasn't the case for me.  Pregnancy was hard. And stressful. And super-annoying at times. And I wrestled with emotions that I'm embarrassed to even admit.  (But we'll get to that later.)

      Interestingly, while I was trying to get a handle on the stress and emotions of pregnancy, I felt an overwhelming urge to draw closer to God.  There's something about impending motherhood that makes a girl really reflect on who she is and who she wants to be.  I knew that my future children needed a godly mother, and I knew that I fell (far) short of the mark.  This caused me to spend a lot of time reflecting on the characteristics of godly mothers and how I could become one.

      As Christian women, we have to live up to a pretty high standard. The legendary Proverbs 31 woman is gracious and kind and long-suffering and probably never snapped at her husband for leaving dirty clothes on the floor.  I'm not even close.  I find myself living in a daily battle to live up to God's standard for my life.  I wake up praying that I'll live with patience and integrity throughout the day…and find myself losing my cool before breakfast.

      Yet, at one of the most stressful, emotional and trying times of my life (my first pregnancy), God drew me closer to Him.  I actually felt His presence as I spent time praying and reflecting on my baby and my future as a mother. It's comforting to hear His voice in a time of need and feel His presence when you're feeling your worst.  And, hearing God's voice (and knowing he's there) is great motivation to have a godly attitude throughout pregnancy.

      Of course, I was still the same old girl who couldn't seem to make it to breakfast without losing patience about something.  (Have I mentioned the dirty laundry that is always left on the bathroom floor?)  Still, God did show me that purposefully choosing to have a godly attitude resulted in me feeling closer to Him.  That, in turn, allowed me to have a more gracious attitude about my pregnancies.

      Sounds a bit trite, doesn't it?  I mean, if it was all about choosing to smile through any situation then every day would be gumdrops and preggo-pops, right?  Not exactly.  But God does call us to be content in any circumstance (even morning sickness!), which means choosing to focus on the reasons we have to be grateful, even when it’s tempting to be grumpy.

      And trust me, when I was pregnant, I had lots of reasons to be grumpy.  But, I did strive to have an attitude of gratitude about my pregnancy.  Here's how I did (and didn't) do it:

How to Get into the Pregnancy Groove

1.  Get Yourself Pumped Up: 

      When I first got pregnant, I was giddy with excitement.  And who wouldn't be?  I was going to have a baby.  I couldn't stop thinking (or talking) about it.  But then I got tired.  And sick.  And bloated.  And suddenly I wasn't so giddy anymore.   In fact, once those pregnancy symptoms kicked in, I turned into a whiney, moaning, self-pitying mess.  I resented my baby for making me feel so bad and resented everyone else because they didn't feel as bad as I did.  I resented my job because I had to go to it.  I resented my husband because he could sleep and I couldn't.  I even resented my dog because she could spend the entire day basking in the sunshine while I had to actually get up and function.

      So, how exactly do you start thinking about rainbows and baby booties when you've spent weeks hugging the toilet bowl?  One thing I did was immerse myself in babyland.  I bought books about pregnancies and babies.  I hung out with friends who had babies.  I ogled over baby gear on the Internet and rented funny movies about babies and watched them over and over.  The only thing I didn't do was volunteer to babysit because that would've taken way more energy than I had at that point.  But if you're feeling up to dirty diapers and peekaboo, go for it.

      The point is, the more time you spend around babies (and other mothers), the more excited you will be about your own baby.  And believe me, the only thing in the world that is worth nine months of pregnancy is a baby. And you're getting one.  So hop on board the baby train (I don't have to tell you twice, do I?) and start living baby. 

2. Turn that Mommy Guilt into Glee (Or at Least Contentment): 

      That resentment that I felt because I was sick, tired and fat quickly turned to guilt.  I felt guilty for resenting my baby who was supposed to be my pride and joy.  I felt guilty for resenting my husband who was honestly trying to help me as much as he could.  Mostly, I felt guilty that I wasn't thrilled to be pregnant. 

      I started to wonder if God didn't approve of my pregnancy and my baby.  Crazy talk, right?  I know that now, but at the time, I felt so awful and so confused that I started to doubt God's providence.  Of course, once I realized—duh!—that God blessed me with the pregnancy, I wanted to be grateful to Him regardless of how I was feeling.  God wants us to be content in our pregnancies, even when we're not feeling good. Tough job, huh?

      It was a long, uphill battle for me.  And I had to constantly remind myself of God's grace and mercy. But in the midst of the battle, God taught me many lessons that I wouldn't have otherwise learned: how to depend on others, how to trust and what it means to truly depend on God for strength 

3.  Pray for Your Baby

      Another way to get into the pregnancy groove is to start praying for your baby in-utero.  Sounds obvious, right?  Well, it wasn't for me. (I was tired and sick, okay?)  It took me several weeks of pregnancy to start praying for my son.  I was so stunned and overwhelmed by the idea of being pregnant that the idea of praying for my baby didn't cross my mind.  One day, one of the girls in my small-group Bible study mentioned that she had prayed for her baby throughout her pregnancy, and suddenly the light went on.  I wanted to pray for my unborn child, too!

      I could go into the mushy details about how my husband and I lay in bed and put our hands on my slightly protruding tummy and prayed for our son, but I'm sure you get it.  In fact, you've probably been praying for your baby since the moment you found out you were pregnant.  But just in case there's another woman out there like me who didn't think of it, I thought I'd mention it.

4.  Think About the Pros of Pregnancy

      There are some (okay, lots of) wonderful things about pregnancy.  What other time in your life do you have free license to eat extra calories, sleep late and buy baby clothes without reservation?  

      Plus, when you're pregnant, everyone (and I mean everyone) gushes over you.  I remember walking into church just as I was starting to show. Two of the guys in our Sunday school class ran to grab me a chair.  My husband got me water and my girlfriend brought me muffins from the class next door.  They had blueberry crumble!  Everyone oohed and aahed.  Part of me hated all of the fuss—uh, who am I kidding?  I loved the attention!  Who wouldn't?

      But aside from the minor benefits, when you're pregnant it's easy to dwell on all of the things you're missing out on.  You can't eat sushi.  You can't wear your favorite pencil skirt.  Your bras are all too small. And you're too tired to stay up late watching chick flicks with your hubby (as if that happened before).  I remember bursting into tears in the middle of our church group's Christmas party because the eggnog was made from raw eggs, and I was a little uneasy about exposing my unborn child to salmonella.  I actually sobbed.  Totally irrational, I know—especially considering the fact that there were a million other drink options at the party—but I felt so deprived. 

      The thing is that pregnancy isn't about deprivation.  Sure, there are things you shouldn't and can't do, but there is also one huge thing that you can do:  Nurture your own child inside of you.  What an incredible privilege. I'm sure some of our husbands are secretly envious of us that we get to do it and they don't!  How else can we account for their sympathy weight gain?

      The best way to get out of a pregnancy funk is to think about the reason for the pregnancy.  I know that sounds obvious, but focus on your baby.  Focus on the privilege.  It'll help you to forget the pain.  And if that doesn't work, think of all of the things that you can get away with during this brief period of your life.

Things You Can Do While Pregnant (That You Would Never Get Away With Otherwise)

1. Wear flip-flops or clogs every day.  Even to church.
2. Leave the toilet unscrubbed for the nine entire months (might as well make it an even ten).
3. Order dessert (and eat it all by yourself).
4. Wear sweats to the grocery store, to work and to dinner at your mother-in-law’s.
5. Skip your morning shower.  Three days in a row.
6. Add half and half to your decaf (or half-caf).
7. Send your hubby to Sonic for a foot-long hot dog at eleven o’clock at night.
8. Eat a foot-long hot dog at eleven and wash it down with Chunky Monkey.
9. Go to bed at seven on a Friday night.
10. Spend your entire Saturday camped out on the couch watching A Baby Story.
11. Borrow your husband's T-shirts.
12. Chat about baby names on a baby names message board.
13. Go to BabiesRUs and camp out in one of their rockers for an entire afternoon. (You probably need to test it out, so go ahead and take a nap if you'd like.)

Pregnancy Rocks (Even Though it Sometimes Stinks)

      The fact is, in spite of all of the nausea, bloating and constant peeing, there's also an ecstatic, blissful, giddy joy that comes from the fact that you have a baby growing inside of you.  It's amazing.  And no matter how bad you feel, you can still cling to that. I remember being hunched over the toilet puking up my guts and thinking to myself how amazing it was that there was a tiny life growing inside of me.

      The truth is, it's okay to be a little ambivalent, depressed, scared, worried, nervous, angry, irritated or annoyed by your pregnancy. Feeling that way is natural. And feeling that way about your pregnancy has nothing to do with how you're feeling about your baby. Of course you love your baby. But you don't have to love pregnancy to love your baby! Just because you're thrilled to be pregnant, you don't have to ignore all the aches and pains and annoyances.

      So, enough pep talking… you're ready, right? Time to get down to the nitty gritty. What are the next nine months really going to be like? What can you do to combat morning sickness? And bloating? And the rest of those icky pregnancy symptoms? And, perhaps most importantly, how much longer (in minutes) are you going to be able to fit into your favorite prepregnancy jeans? Let's talk first trimesters.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wretched Muffins and a Scrumptious Pizza!

I had great plans for posting my baking adventure last week.  I even went so far as to make a double batch of a new muffin recipe, mixing apple into one (and freezing) and blueberries into the other for the next morning's breakfast.

Pre-baking, when I still thought they were good :-(

So, imagine my horror when after my son's complaints about breakfast (typical in general but not usual for muffins) I walked to the table, picked up his muffin took a huge bite and nearly gagged to death.

It gave me flash backs to a time in highschool when I went to a late dinner after a long day of performances with a couple of my theatre friends.  We were tired and a little goofy.  One of my friends ordered a cubed chicken pita- we all agreed that it sounded delicious.  When it came and she took a bite, however, she started very nearly throwing up on the table while searching for her napkin and we got the giggles so badly we could hardly explain to the waiter what was going on.  At last my friend concurred our waiter's bemused expression and practically forced him to take a bite (can you believe it?  The waiter actually tried her food!).  After spitting it into a napkin he told us that is tasted like A$$!!  Our waiter!  He actually said that!  We were almost on the floor laughing!

He was a great waiter.

He probably got fired.

Eh, he was new- maybe they cut him some slack.  I mean, we were at Sharrys!

Anyhoo- the muffins.  They sucked.  Another one of those recipes whose source shall remain nameless (not the same one as the pretzels, thank goodness, or I would have completely lost all faith in her, but a typically very reliable source none the less).

Huge. bummer. waste. of. time!

And freezer space!  Which reminds me, I need to get that's second batch out of there.

Saturday I decided to redeem myself and head for a recipe source I KNEW would not fail me!  You guessed it- The Pioneer Woman!  I don't think I've mentioned it, but I received her AMAZING and BEAUTIFUL cookbook for Valentine's Day and had been dying to make her potato bacon leek pizza ever since!

Her pizza crust recipe was simple and (of course) well photographed.  And I, of course, employed the use of my handy dandy BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer to make the whole thing even simpler. 


Her toppings, however, were out of this world!  I actually liked the potatoes better on the reheated version the next day, but regardless the thing was just amazing!  The thick bite it had to it was so darn satisfying and the leeks were, well, cooked in bacon drippings- they had no choice but to be crazy good!

I made my hubs the caprese' version which he also enjoyed very much.  We are so ruined for take out!  I mean, you just can't go back after an experience like that!  It would be blasphemous!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Voices of the Faithful II- Review

I recently received Voices of the Faithful II from Thomas Nelson Publishers and I honestly didn't know what to expect since I was not familiar with the series by and Beth Moore.  But knowing I very much enjoy pretty much anything by Beth Moore, I thought I'd give it a whirl.

The book is a year long devotional with a short story or testimonial for each day written by a missionary from around the world.  Each day also includes a short scripture that pertains to the devotion and a prayer about the subject matter, for the foreign peoples, or for the missionary.

Although I am not typically drawn for any significant length of time to these sorts of devotions, I have found these to be refreshing and enlightening.  In fact, this morning as I was reading the prayer for a specific family who had shared their account of God's miraculous provision, I thought, "Wow- now this family in the third world has prayers being sent up specifically for them all around the world!  How amazing is that?!"  I would love to hear what has happened for them since the time this book was written as I am sure the Lord is still working in powerful ways for them.  It was crazy to think what a huge impact a simple book could have.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a light and short devotional to round out their quiet time and either start out or wrap up their day.  You can purchase it here on Amazon, and by the way, it's on sale for only $7.80 right now!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Earth Mama Angel Baby Review

I was beyond thrilled to receive an invitation to review Earth Mama Angel Baby's Angel Shampoo & Body Wash along with Earth Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray, late last year. I had been wanting to try the wash out for quite some time seeing as how Earth Mama Angel Baby is one of the VERY few body care companies that has proven a zero toxicity rating in their products. I'm always looking out for the least harmful, but still effective, body care products for my family so Angel Baby Wash sounded like a great possibility.

So, once I got the bottle of Angel Wash into my anxious little hands what did I think?  Well, my first thought was, "mmmmm- orange!" A generous amount of orange extract is used to give the wash a lovely fruity quality, which I instantly loved.  However, (and this may sound a little odd) I realized after using it on Lion Cub that the scent didn't mix well with his natural scents.  He tends to emit a very distinct scent, not bad, just distinct, and when mixed with the orange oils it got funky.  He just didn't smell sweet and like himself anymore.  But with that said, I DO love using the Angel Wash for myself and have had no complaints from the hubs.  So, I guess it's a bit of a love/ hate relationship in the scent department.

The other thing I can't help but point out is the foaming dispenser.  At first I thought I would love this feature, however I quickly felt jipped as my precious bottle of angel goodness began disappearing all too quickly.  To be honest, for the money, I think you should receive a full bottle of concentrate and then could possibly add a pump bottle for an additional buck fifty or something.  I would probably skip the pump all together though, as we use loofas in this house and it is difficult to get a good lather in a loofa with a foaming dispenser.  I should mention that you can just buy the wash in a larger, refill bottle, but it still is not concentrate.

As far as the wash itself went though, in its effectiveness and feel, I loved it.  It rinsed off cleanly and was the closest thing to luxurious that I have encountered in a zero-toxicity product.  There is definitely something to be said for that!
But let's move on, shall we?  I have nothing but good things to say about the Mama's bottom products they sent me- Earth Mama Bottom Balm and New Mama Bottom Spray!  Cause ladies, let's be real here- if you have taken any more than an hour to push a baby out of your bajango, let alone more than one, then you probably have issues "rear" up in this area from time to time.

I found their products to be soothing and downright lovely.  Plus, I would much rather have someone stumble across one of these nicely packaged products in my medicine drawer than a tube of preparation-H!  Ya' feelin' me?!

I can't thank Earth Mama Angel Baby enough for the opportunity to test out their lovely products!  I also want to mention that Earth Mama Angel Baby has a lot of great resources on their website, along with their products, for breastfeeding help (they even have a free "Herbs & Breastfeeding" ebook for download) and pregnancy and infant loss, among other things.  Even if you decide to not purchase anything from them, their website is a must-see/read!  Oh, and did I mention it is also beautiful?! Cause it is!

Thanks again Earth Mama Angel Baby!

I received products free of charge from Earth Mama Angel Baby for honest review.  All opinions are solely my own.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, February 18, 2011

I amazed my husband with my BOSCH, even though my Pretzels were a failure!

Last week one of my favorite foodie blogs posted a recipe for pretzel bites that the author positively swore by.  She said they were heaven in a bite and since she had never steered my wrong before I soon went about making a double batch of these little confections to delight my family with.

I whipped out my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer, collected my ingredients and started heaping in the extra-large helpings, just sure that they would barely get out of the oven before they were devoured.

Well, I was right, sort of.  They barely got out of the oven before my husband showed up in the kitchen, burning his lips off to try one of my salty treats.  But seeing as how he is always fairly critical of the recipes I try, I shrugged off his instant grimace of disapproval and insisted that he couldn't judge them yet because they still need to be doused in butter not one, but three times!  ANYTHING should be heavenly after three coats of butter, shouldn't it?

Don't let looks deceive you- they were awful!

Much to my dismay- they were a TOTAL bust!  They were HORRIBLE!  After we realized just how bad they were I even tried coating each bite in a generous helping of brown sugar and cinnamon, but it was no use.  My time and ingredients had been squandered on a failure.  Bwahhhhh!!! :-(

(insert jazzy elevator music here- please stay on the line while Mama Kenz attempts to regain her composure)

I won't even give you the link to the recipe because I wouldn't want to subject you to the temptation of trying to make them edible.  And since I ordinarily adore this foodie blog, I wouldn't want to slander its name.  But if you happen to come across a pretzel bites recipe that swears you will likely fly into orbit once you taste those little morsels... well, you've been forewarned!

On the bright side, I did impress my husband with my kitchen's pride and joy- my BOSCH!  As he saw the trays upon trays of bites covering every surface in the room, he asked, "How did you make those things?  In your mixer?  You can just use whatever recipe?"

To which I responded, "Well... yeah!  You think I would have kneaded a double batch of those ridiculous things by hand?!  Psh!  Do you know me at all?"

I did have a really cute and eager helper though!  That's his "say cheese" face!
But the truth is, that I really do love that I can not only use my BOSCH for any baking recipe, but thanks to Marmee's tutelage in her Breadbasket Cookbook and Make It Special DVD, I also know how to rearrange the ingredients in pretty much any recipe to make them work the most successfully (such as ensuring that your bread rises well and such).  That is such invaluable information that I am so thankful to have learned from her!

In conclusion- I think for now I will be sticking more closely to Marmee's delicious recipes because there hasn't been one yet that we have not only loved but been downright impressed with!  Go give her a visit to see some of the awesome recipes, products and information she has to offer at Marmee's Bread Market!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

What is up with blogger?! Anyone else?!

Alright- for 2 days now I have been trying to upload pictures to blogger and it keeps saying they are rejected by the server!  Is anyone else having this problem?!  I seriously have posts that I need to publish, BADLY, and I can't upload ANY pics!  Help!!

***Update***  Apparently it was Safari.  I had been using Safari for quite a while because I couldn't post pictures to blogger with Firefox (my preferred program), but now they have apparently flip-flopped!  Weird!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Easy Lunchboxes- Pack your Kids' Lunch Fast, Bento-Box Style!

I had been wanting to try out Easy Lunchboxes for so long that by the time they actually arrived on my doorstep I was positively giddy!  Funnier yet, my excitement had rubbed off on my boys and they were almost as excited as me!

So, the verdict- were they really all they cracked up to be?!  Honestly?!  YES!

I never thought I'd be in love with a lunch box!

I am!

We're packing up and whisking away on a love affair to France.

ORRRRR... I'm packing meals in them all the time for trips to our local science center, co-op, park, mall, grandma's house, friends houses, or just plain old sitting at home on a dreary winter day!  We just can't get enough of these things!

I love how easy they are to pack.  I line them all up on the counter and can easily go down the row and plunk all my little selections in each of the compartments with no fuss and no mess, in just minutes. They are easy and simple!

Oh, and did I mention that my boys love eating out of them?!  This is big, especially for Rhythm, since he is such a picky eater and we will try almost whatever tactics and motivators we can to get him to eat!  I will take serving his meals in an Easy Lunchbox over bribing him with dessert ANY day!

My next favorite thing is how three whole containers fit into a cooler bag, or two containers and both boys drinks.  Soooo much easier than keeping track of separate lunch boxes!  Can you say perfect for the homeschool family?!

No really, can you?


Beyond all that I am also a huge fan of the bento box style of the containers that eliminates the need for any sort of throw away.  No tin foil, no stinky plastic baggies- just neat little BPA free, kid-friendly containers.

What it really boils down to is that I would be telling you about these lunch boxes even if they hadn't sent me a set to try, and that I absolutely will be expanding my collection of containers and bags as we expand our family (don't get excited- no news there, just thinkin' ahead).  They really have the best of every feature I was looking for in a lunch box and we couldn't be more thrilled with this ingenius product line.

Even more thrilling is that I now have the opportunity to offer a set of containers and a bag to one of my lucky readers!

Want to enter?  I'm going to make it really simple for you- just one way to enter.  Swing by and then come back here and tell me your favorite lunch idea from their gallery!  That's it!

I will draw a winner on Monday February 28, 2011 and post it on my blog & email the winner- so be sure you include a way for me to contact you if you haven't enabled your email address in blogger.

But hey- if you want to keep up with all their sales, news, and cool stuff they offer online (like parenting webinars and the Let's Do Lunch Musical Web Series starring the creator- Kelly Lester- along with celebrity guests!  Yes- I'm serious!) then make sure to follow Easy Lunch Boxes on Twitter and Facebook!

This giveaway is offered to US & Canadian residents only. Please do not enter this giveaway if you have won or received free product from EasyLunchboxes within the past 3 months. 

I received product from Easy Lunchboxes for the purpose of honest review.  All opinions are solely my own.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Breads, Braids and BOSCH!

Last week I finally got to get a hair cut (I mean, it had been over a year people)!  Luckily my stylist not only possesses awesome haircutting abilities, but a compassionate heart and willingness to trade, in this case, styling for bread-y goodness!

I had planned on making her bread and my famous caramel bars, but a week before my appointment she told me that she had cut all white flour and sugar out of her diet.  Eeek!  What to do?!  I decided to make a good old, standard, home-milled flour, whole wheat loaf (from Marmee's Bread Basket Cookbook, of course!) for starters.  I then used some of that same dough to make one of those awesome braids I learned how to make from Marmee's Make it Special DVD.

At first I was a little stumped as to what I should put in the braid as I usually would use a good helping of brown sugar and cinnamon.  Eventually I decided to go with honey, chopped walnuts and cinnamon- it smelled heavenly!  It was all I could do to keep the greedy little paws of my family off of it!

My packages weren't pretty, but they were tasty!  I did pitch in a little bit of mulah since I didn't feel like 2 loaves of bread were quite a fair trade.  I wanted to bring her some frozen dinner rolls and bread loaves too but she didn't have a freezer at her salon.  :-(  It was still SUPER nice to get the discount though.  Oh, and I love my hair (even though this picture doesn't do it justice... at all).

After- sorry for the horrible picture!
This was another one of those great ways I was able to simply and easily bless others (and myself!) with my BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer.  I have had it for almost six months now and don't know what I would do without it!  I use it so much and we just love it!  Another huge thank you to Marmee's Bread Market for their sponsorship!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

True Treasures- a book review

It was one of those days.  You know the kind.

One of those days that the only way I could have qualified as a good 'keeper of the home' would have been if that meant I was supposed to keepa' you (and anyone else) outta' my home so they wouldn't become witness to the insane chaos and mess.

My children were annoying me.  Yes, annoying.  Couldn't they tell that mama had a lot to do, too much to do, and that I really just needed them to play quietly by themselves?  Couldn't they stop fighting and getting into things?!  "Please boys!" I pleaded.

Why, then, at that moment, did I decide to read the words of Lorrie Flem?  As if softly whispering...

"Slow and steady...."

There is nothing slow about living with little boys and our life is about as steady as a teeter-totter!  (I sternly and almost fiercely respond!)

"One of a mother's busiest seasons of life is when her children are young...."

Well, Amen there!  Finally- she's getting it!

"I often tell mothers of young children to stay home and just try to get the basics done every day..."

Wait!  I have bigger things to do than just the basics!  I'm aspiring and creative- there is more to me than this motherhood gig!  I'm not doing enough if I am just doing the basics!

"Enjoy your children and don't wish away these years.."

But they are so hard!!!  Once my kids are just a little bit older I will like my life better...

"How do you look at taking care of your children's needs... Do you see them as interruptions?"

Well, um... yes! (I roll my eyes)

"They're not."

Wait... what?  (I pause)

"They are some of the most important daily duties as a blessed mother of young children! ...We are training and shaping young lives, and in the process, we are allowing the Lord to shape ours as we yield to Him each day... We are ministering for the Lord as we minister to our family!"

(Chirp, chirp- ya know, the crickets- while I process)

"Some days, being a Godly mother is all we can accomplish- and it is a BIG accomplishment... Eventually the undone jobs will get done, but in the meantime, our children have a mother who truly loves and cares for them by spending her time with them."


I place the scrub brush back in the sink.

I shut the laptop and tuck it away.

I turn the phone to silent.

Then I quietly navigate my way through the mess in the play room to get to the neglected box of legos that they have been asking me to build with them for a week.  I find the boys behind the couch playing with Woody and Buzz Lightyear.

"Do you guys want to build Legos with me?"  I suddenly feel like a sheepish child, asking my own children to play, but in that moment their eyes begin to sparkle as they quickly dart into the living room to play with mama- one of their favorite people in the whole world to play with.  Hmmmm... something to savor, 'cause it won't always be this way.

We sit and build- planes, trucks, sky scrapers- it doesn't really matter because we are together.  I am there, teaching them how to share by example and squelching fights before they reach the ear-piercing levels that normally draw my attention.  We enjoy each other.  No distractions, just us.

My boys quickly obey when it comes time to clean up, because I work alongside them.  They then pick out a few cars and follow me into the kitchen as I finish the dishes and for once don't let it get to me when they race around my legs and over the limited space on our tiny kitchen floor.  Instead, I choose to enjoy their antics, listening to the funny exchanges they have between each other that I too often miss.

I realize that this is what Lorrie was talking about.  Playing with Legos was the most important work I did that day and I enjoyed it.  Mothering the young is life at it's simplest- living in the moment and just doing the next thing.  The rest?  It's just frosting.


This is the kind of goodness, refreshing and encouragement you can find in True Treasures, the new book just released by Eternal Encouragement Magazine (formerly TEACH Magazine).  Overflowing with wisdom and kind prodding towards better things in marriage, parenting, homemaking, homeschooling and your walk with Jesus, this book is truly a treasure that I will open and read again and again.  These words are timeless and inspired!

Visit for this and many other great products published by Mrs. Lorrie Flem.  You can also visit for more than 50 reviews on True Treasures.  Use the coupon code: GabbyMom, for $4 off your purchase of True Treasures between now and May 31, 2011.  (Only one per customer please)

I received this product as the Head Mama for The Gabby Moms blogging program of Eternal Encouragement Magazine.  All opinions expressed are solely my own.

All quotes from Mrs. Lorrie Flem in the article Slow and Steady, pages 16-17 of True Treasures.

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Country White Bread- Pass me the butter!

This past weekend I decided to whip up a batch of Marmee's Country White Bread from The Bread Basket Cookbook.  Yes, a bit of a departure from our usual whole-grain standards, but I figured we were due for a treat and I wanted to try something new.

Can you hear the angels singing?
Can I just say that slicing through this bread was like slicing through butter!?  And it was perfectly paired with butter and strawberry jam.  The kids and I were in heaven (oh, and my hubby was too, for the one piece he managed to snag)!  I cut extra-thick slices to allow the density and softness of this bread to have it's full effect on our eager mouths!

Yup- that's the lone piece my husband received!  Sorry babe!
Whenever I make a new recipe my husband and I always sit and analyze what we think I could do with it- would it be good as pizza crust? or french toast? ...and so on and so forth.  I definitely think it would fit into the french toast category since the 4 eggs in the recipe allowed it to take on an almost brioche quality.  Pizza is definitely an option, although I am not entirely sure.  Sandwiches are a definite yes, especially since these loaves raised up so nicely! (Seriously- I should have taken a picture of the loaf next to my head so you could see just how enormous it was in comparison!   The bread, not my head.  Although it is pretty large too- physically, not ego-wise, at least not anymore... anyhooo...)

This one is definitely going on the "Will Make Again" list.  And it can't go without saying that I wouldn't be making it at all if it weren't for my lovely BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market!  And let me just make note that BOSCH will be raising their prices NEXT WEEK!!  So you are never going to find one of these mixers cheaper than they are right now!!  Don't miss out- you will love every minute you spend with your machine!  I promise!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Rhythm- back on his feet!

Note- these photos were taken on our last day- hence the smiles and liveliness!!
Well, my little guy has been out of the hospital for a little over a week now and as of yesterday morning was given a clean bill of health from his doctor, and more importantly (to him!) the "Ok" to get back to his hip-hop/breakdancing classes!!  (This last note is of special importance since he watched Step Up 3 last weekend!  Let me tell you- it is not easy to keep this kid from break dancing, especially after such a movie!)

You can take the kid outta' the hip-hop, but you can't take the hip-hop outta' the kid!
He was such a trooper in the hospital!  I was so proud of him.  Our stay had some rough spots- particularly the finger-poke blood draws, during the last of which he kicked the lab worker and sent all the vials flying off the bed (luckily they were empty!).  But hey, he is 4 and had been down that road twice already- he's no fool!  He also had a pretty rough time taking the oral medications.  He usually does fine at home but he spit them back out for more than one nurse.  So yeah, physical restraint came a slightly common-place thing in our room, but for the most part he was cooperative and wonderful!  Seriously!  Most of his nurses thought he was adorable and charming, and all of them were incredibly helpful and caring.  We couldn't have been happier with the care he received.

NOT happy about the IV!
Well, all except that one lab worker who came in, insisting she had immediate orders to draw blood.  Umm, yeah, after the nurse argued with her to recheck (she had her gloves on and was already headed toward the poor screaming little guy!), she realized she was in the wrong room!  I couldn't believe it!  Angry much?!
He always had all the toys and stuffed animals he received during his stay tucked in around him- his bed was covered!
The first day home I was a little worried about his pain levels, as the Tylenol with codeine didn't really seem to be cuttin' the mustard, and I kinda thought they had maybe rushed us out of the hospital a little too soon.  Within a day though, he was doing much better and he doesn't ask for the meds at all now.

Showing off his scars!

They went in laparoscopically through his belly button, and two other incisions (one a little larger than the others, but it is below his belt line).
We also had a few friends who provided us with absolutely delicious meals for most of last week.  It was so helpful (especially in light of my own little breakdown- more on that later).  These ladies really went above and beyond!  I mean- they all brought dessert as well and one of them even cut the carrot slices in her salad into hearts!  We felt so blessed and thankful!

Thank you to everyone who prayed and offered support through such a difficult time!  We appreciate every word sent up on our behalf!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

FYI: Rhythm is in the hospital

This past Sunday Rhythm came down with what we thought was a stomach bug.  He complained of a stomach ache and threw up for hours, unable to hold anything down.

Monday the vomiting stopped but the pain increased.  By the end of the day he didn't even want to walk.

Tuesday my mom came and picked up Lion Cub and I took Rhythm to the ER- he refused to walk at all by then and would not uncurl from the ball he had huddled himself in.

More than 2 hours after arriving at the ER we were finally seen by a doctor and told that he likely had an appendicitis.  This diagnosis was confirmed by an ultrasound about an hour later, but it was thought that the appendix had not yet perforated.

By 5:20pm Rhythm, no longer even speaking at this point, was rolled into surgery.

Around 7:20 he was taken to recovery and we were informed that his appendix had perforated.  Luckily his colon had flopped on top of it, essentially acting as a blanket on the fire and limiting the damage, but none the less, a leak had sprung.  They thoroughly lavaged his abdominal cavity but he is still extremely at risk of abscess, which would not present itself until 5-7 days after surgery.  He is on three different IV antibiotics and will be in the hospital 5 days-2 weeks.

Yesterday was mostly about pain management.  He was given morphine every 3 hours and a heavy duty ibuprofen every 6.  He walked to the bathroom a couple of times, at mom's prompting, but mostly stayed in bed.  His temperament was good and he worked well with the nurses.  His bowel tones were still low, so he wasn't allowed to eat, but he never had a fever and did quite well.

Today was more difficult.  He was off the morphine and handling pain well, for the most part, but his attitude had turned very grim.  He was argumentative and uncooperative.  When he spiked a fever of 100.4 late in the day, he spit out his tylenol and a nurse actually had to hold his mouth shut and blow in his face to get him to swallow on the second try.  Although he was allowed to start soft foods, he was so picky about what he wanted (specifically- a donut or a muffin) that it was difficult to get him to eat.

I made him get out of bed a few times.  We walked to the end of the hall to check out a movie to watch and he mumbled and complained the whole trip.  At one point a nurse came up and told him what a great job he was doing.  His response?  "My looser mom made me come out here and walk.  I'm so mad!"  (Alright, so I was actually trying really hard not to laugh while I told him that he was being inappropriate and disrespectful!)

After the fever situation and some sudden, increased pain, we realized he was experiencing gas pains as his bowels truly began to wake up.  I once again made him get out of bed and walk down to the movies and playroom.  He SCREAMED the whole way down the hall, and continued to carry on as I left him in the hallway and said that even if he wasn't going to check out the playroom, I was!

A few minutes later his interests were peaked and he ventured into the room himself.  Well, wouldn't ya know?  He wanted to spend the rest of the evening in there!  He played Wii with his dad and would hardly go back to his room!  It is amazing how much things can fluctuate in a matter of a few hours!  We pray he keeps that attitude and continues to heal, avoiding further complications.

For me, it has been a trying and exhausting ordeal.  Although I know he is hopefully on the road to recovery, it is very difficult to see your little one in so much pain and have to push them to do things that hurt, even when they get so mad at you, because you know it what's best for them.  It has been especially difficult to also have Lion Cub be so young, an age when he still needs me very much and has difficulty sleeping without me.  Plus, he is just a handful and can become very taxing on those who are watching him.  I feel so torn and inadequate- needing to take care of two boys who are in different locations.  I feel spread thin.  My husband is also still working full time, which makes it even more difficult, knowing he needs sleep, and food.

I feel as though I am wading through a bit of a fog. Even when I am with Rhythm during the day at the hospital and he is sleeping, I just sometimes feel... blank.  Too much going through my head.  Lots weighing on my shoulders.  So much to take care of and no way to do it.  It is a very isolated and alone feeling.

Sometimes, even though I want to pray, I just don't have the words, or the energy.  I just keep thinking, "God, please know where I am at right now, what we are going through, and fill in what I should be saying to you.  Heal my boy, be with Lion Cub and whoever has the task of managing him, and just help."

I am just trying to do the next thing, as a dear friend shared with me the other day.  Right now, that is all I can do.  I don't know how long I am going to have to try to juggle all this, but somehow it all has to get done.  I don't know how long Rhythm will have to go through all this, but he is such a trooper and I am so proud of him.

Living in the midst of a trial and expectantly waiting on what the Lord will show me through it,

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nutty Twister Bread!

I got a little adventurous last weekend and gave Marmee's Nutty Twister Bread from The Bread Basket Cookbook a whirl. Oh my!  Love!  I made two loaves- one according to the recipe with coconut, brown sugar, butter, walnuts and cinnamon rolled on the inside, and one with just cinnamon, sugar and butter.

My only regret was not making MORE!!  They were sooooo good!!  Our eyes bugged out when we saw how huge they proofed and they were just so darn pretty all braided like that!  It is so easy yet looks so difficult & impressive.  I found this easy technique to be well spelled-out in The Bread Basket Cookbook, and even better in Marmee's Make it Special DVD.

Another great thing I love about the braided technique you can do so much with it.  You might remember this parmesan and garlic braided bread I made a few months ago.  You can put practically anything in one of these braids!  Wouldn't you love to take them to a potluck or other gathering?  Come on, you couldn't help but love the ooo's and awww's at your beautiful bread!

Smothered in butter- divine!
And, of course, none of this would have been possible had it not been for my delightful BOSCH Universal Plus Mixer from Marmee's Bread Market!  Ok, so maybe it would have been possible but it sure wouldn't have been easy and I probably would have never made it- plain and simple!

Be sure to visit my sponsor- Marmee's Bread Market- for recipes and everything else you need to easily make fresh baked goods for your family!