Summer Reading 2018

As a parent and librarian, I’m very excited about summer reading programs. Here are three easy and fun programs in the Portland/Vancouver area in case any of our local friends want to join in.  And I’m hopeful that if you’re not local, your own cities have similar programs! Hooray for reading!


Brothers reading.

1) Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries’ Summer Reading – register online or in person and earn prizes for reaching 15, 30, and 45 day reading goals. (Ends Aug. 31.) Adults are eligible too!

2) Barnes & Noble Summer Reading – Right now Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary is in the top 10 list of participating schools at the Vancouver location! Kids who read 8 books and turn in a journal get to pick out a free book from a selected list of age-appropriate books, and the top 10 schools also get great prizes. Let’s keep MGAES in the top 10! (Ends Sept. 3.)

3) Powell’s Books has a bookmark kids can pick up, fill in in with six book titles they’ve read, and return and redeem for a $5 Powell’s gift card. We picked up a bookmark and lost it or washed it in last week’s laundry, but next time we’re there, we’ll bring a list of books the kids have read to fill in and redeem on the spot!



Mother’s Day Gift Ideas from Ever

Good morning, friends! I’ve been selling Ever skin care and makeup for a few months now, and wanted to tell you about a great deal that expires today, May 5. Spend $149 and get a free Overnight Facial Oil, which retails for $88! In addition, if you follow me on my Facebook group, Baked Tofu & a Beauty Routine, you may have seen me mention the sweepstakes that qualified you for $20 off your $100 purchase. If you combine the offers, you have yourself an amazing deal!

Here are some ideas on product combinations to purchase to get your free Overnight Facial Oil. I love this oil because whenever I use it, when I wake up my face feels smoother, softer, and my acne has a shorter shelf life! These products would make amazing gifts for yourself, your mom, or your mother-in-law! Happy shopping!

Shop for EVER products at

Don’t have the $20 off coupon? Get $10 off your first EVER purchase at


When I started my weight loss journey 9 months ago, I texted my weight loss or gains to my friend B every single day for a couple of weeks. I dreaded every morning’s weigh in because I was sure the scale would just keep going up despite my very deliberate lifestyle changes. The scale proved me wrong, and it slowly crept down, and then down some more.

I am THIS close to achieving my goal of losing 50 pounds. Unfortunately I’ve been THIS close for a month. It’s probably self-sabotage as I’m not sure what I’m planning to do diet wise once I reach that goal, so instead of getting to the spot on the scale, in the past week I’ve had a donut (it was Blue Star, so who can blame me?!?) and I stopped exercising. Granted, I’ve also had a number of new health problems, so eating a donut is really the least of my worries.

Anyway, this is all to say that on Tuesday I started texting my weight loss and gains to my friend S, and even though I had a donut this week despite knowing I’d be telling her my weight gain the next day, having an accountability partner is super motivating. I’ve been drinking more water, I’ve been (mostly) more deliberate about what I’m eating, and most of all, it’s encouraging to know that someone else is struggling and fighting temptation along with me.

What else helps me? This smart scale and app. My previous scale was really hard to read and didn’t display ounces. When you’re trying to lose weight, every lost ounce is a victory. I use the app to track my weight loss, and it’s extremely motivating to view the downward trend. The other thing that helps is a water bottle with a straw, similar to this one. I know it sounds ridiculous that a water bottle with a straw would make a difference in how much water you consume, but I find that it’s much easier to drink a lot of water with a straw. (Insert shrug emoji!) And a bonus of drinking lots of water is more steps on the way to the bathroom! And the last thing that helps is the WaterMinder app that sends me alerts throughout the day, reminding me to, yes, drink more water.

If you ever want an accountability partner, let me know! I’m always up for it!

9 Minutes

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook about how to be a better parent and it included the tip that there are nine minutes of the day that have the most impact on children: the three minutes after waking up, the three minutes when they return home from school, and the last three minutes before they go to sleep. I can’t find any articles that support this from a science or psychology perspective (just other blog posts), but I think it is sage advice that not only applies to parenting but relationships as well.

Have you ever answered your partner’s phone call with a perfunctory “what” or “yes”? Or as soon as your partner walks in the door asked them to immediately take care of a chore, like take out the trash, empty the cat’s litter box, or deal with the kids, instead of simply saying hello? Me. I am guilty of this.

When I saw that Facebook post about those nine important minutes, I decided to implement this not only with my children, but with my husband, and my co-workers as well. At work this translates to saying hi before launching into a rant, being deliberately pleasant at the beginning and end of the work day, and ending the week with positive words. At home this means I don’t disappear as soon as my husband gets home even though my inclination is to let him deal with the kids, who are inevitably cranky in the witching hour that is 5-7 p.m. This means saying goodnight, even if he’s working late and I’m feeling too lazy to leave our bed to climb a single flight of stairs to give him a kiss. In other words, I’m just trying to be a better human.

And with the kids, I’m trying to be more present, especially at bedtime. I’m trying not to rush through stories and songs and snuggles even though there are dishes and laundry and thoughtless reality TV shows calling my name. I’m not usually home when they wake up, or when Future President gets home from school, so I’m focusing my efforts on bedtime. I think it’s making a difference.

Happy Friday, friends.



Yesterday as I drove home, I calculated whether I could take some more Tylenol as soon as I arrived, or whether I would have to wait for another hour or two. I had to wait, so I made supper for the kids and counted down the minutes until I could get a tiny little bit of relief from my neck pain and headache.

I looked at the calendar while warming up the kids’ leftover pizza, and I realized in the next month I have four doctors appointments. I feel like this has been the story of my life. Besides chronic pain, I have a number of other medical issues, and one of them includes getting hearing aids in April.

But life goes on, despite the pain. Some days I feel like I am just barely making it, and look forward to the kids’ bedtime, when I can stretch out on the couch, my head tilted to the left in the only stretch that gets my spasming muscle to relax.

Living with chronic pain is a daily battle, but I’ve found that if I look for outlets that make me happy and fit into my crazy work/parenting schedule, I have some distractions that keep my mind off the pain. For me, it’s reading, watching Top Chef and Project Runway, and most recently, telling everyone I know about EVER.

My friend Sarah introduced me to EVER, and at first I was dubious. I am always, always skeptical of multi-level marketing, but because Sarah is an intelligent woman, a mom, and a physician, I gave her products a second look. Then she sent me samples, and that was it. I was all in.

At first, I signed up to sell EVER just to get the discounts offered to “specialists,” but then I decided to try my hand at selling it. And while I acknowledge that it is indeed a multi-level marketing company, I also am 100% behind the product I’m selling. Right now, I’m using the face wash and exfoliating peel pads and my skin already feels amazing. Next, I’ll buy the overnight facial oil and eye wrinkle smoother as those were two products Sarah let me sample that seriously made a difference in just a couple of uses.

I set up a Facebook Group called Baked Tofu & a Beauty Routine where I plan to post about the nutritarian lifestyle I’ve fully embraced, as well as EVER. Let me know if you have any questions about plant-based eating, or the EVER products, and I’ll be happy to answer them!

We Forgot the Mommy

“We forgot the mommy,” Aaron said, as he wheeled the Playmobil cable car down towards the control booth. “Peter, fix it!” He yelled, moving on from remembering the mommy as the cable car careened and flew towards the plastic figures in the booth.

But I didn’t move on.

I feel forgotten when I do four loads of laundry and fold them in neat piles on our bed and there they sit, waiting for someone to put them away. Eventually it will be me.

I feel forgotten when I make two separate meals, one for the kids, and one for us, and the kids barely touch theirs, even though that meal means I haven’t sat down since walking in the door two hours ago.

I feel forgotten when I can’t – or won’t – tell my husband how bad my headaches are, and I suffer in silence, taking one pill and then another, until I reach a breaking point and can no longer function. I feel forgotten until I say screw it to the anti-inflammatory diet I’ve been on for 6 months and stuff my kid’s uneaten pancakes in my mouth and my husband is shocked. I haven’t eaten gluten in months and will pay for it later, but this is my little rebellion.

I feel forgotten until the tears come, and they finally notice how tired I am and how much I hurt.

“Let’s go back up to get the mommy,” Aaron says after Peter repairs the cable car.

“Thank you for the delicious dinner,” my husband says, and gives me a hug.

They notice me, I know they do. We are trying our best, most days. And we are all just making it up as we go along.

Get Thee Behind Me, Anxiety


From Sapling Press

On Monday, at a still unspecified time of day, I’m having surgery. I am nervous. I am nervous, despite the fact that I trust my doctor, have had many, many surgeries in the past, and have a support system to help with my recovery. Another thing I’m nervous about: what I’m going to eat afterward, when I’m dizzy and nauseous. On my meal plan, I don’t eat bread and I don’t eat many carbs. I remember previous recoveries where the only thing I wanted to eat was buttered toast. Will cucumbers, apple slices, hard boiled eggs, and tofu have the same calming effect on my stomach? If not, I suppose there is always steel cut oatmeal.

I’m having surgery to restore hearing in my left ear, a procedure I desperately want to work. There is only a 60-70% success rate, but my doctor thinks it’s worth it because I am “young” (her words!) and because of how successful the first ear surgeries I had, she is very optimistic this one will work too.

Have I mentioned I work in a library and teach? Hearing loss makes both jobs difficult because I can’t hear people speaking from 10 or 20 feet away in a large classroom, nor can I hear people speaking close to me if they are on my left side. The hearing loss is so profound that when I’m sleeping on my right side, with my deaf ear up, I can’t hear my kids or husband talking to me, no matter how close they are. If the bathtub is running, or the washing machine filling, I can’t hear doors opening, or the fall of footsteps coming towards me.

I’ve been told that for two weeks after surgery, I should not sneeze, exercise, fly, or lift anything heavy, including my 3-year old. Based on past experience, recovery from ear surgery is terrible: last time, I was so dizzy, I couldn’t even watch TV. I’m planning to listen to a lot of audiobooks and podcasts while I recover, so I welcome your recommendations!

So anyway, this is a long way of saying that I welcome your good thoughts and prayers on Monday. I hope this surgery is successful, and that I can calm these nervous thoughts.