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Loving Summer

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Oh, this has been such a beautiful summer!!

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1. Ian reading at Barnes and Noble 2. Pax and Zac reading while waiting at the chiro, 3 Pax being cute 4. Perfect puddle and boy combination 5 Being a bat 6. Enjoying the park 7. Playing with friends at IKEA 8 Chasing our kitten that lasted for, um, six weeks or so 9. Storytime at the library 10 Finding Nourish in a shop 11. Pax playing with moon dough 12. Steve hoisting Ian, so he could see a construction scene.

Slow mornings, extra time for snuggling with little sleepyheads, swimming every day for weeks, soaking up sunshine, popsicles, hours spent reading, unusually pleasant summer days and green grass, storytime at the library, playing games in the front yard, eating watermelon, schedule free days, later bedtimes, extra reading time, and meeting up with friends.

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1. Boys building with the Legos our neighbor gave for Ian’s birthday 2. Friends! 3. Steve hard at work 4. Ian jumping (love how this picture feels–so happy) 5. Pax on the scaffold–I walked into the workshop and heard a quiet, “Mom, I need help.” 6. Dad the Great giving two boys a ride at once 7. A ring the boys found in our backyard after the arrest. 8. Zachary with the fantastic sandwich Kelly from Thomaston had described to him and he finally got to eat after dreaming of it for weeks 9. Street corner scene 10. The bridge we walk to the park.

 

[ I loved this post on moms enjoying all of summer.]

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1. Pax with his cute friend Caytlyn, 2. Every summer God sends me hydrangeas across the street in a vacant lot. 3. Addition to the seating area in the front of our house. (one plant survives) 4. walking 5. Burnt apartment across the mission. 6. Zachary with Aslan 7. Atlanta skyline from I20 8. Playing at a splashpark a few miles from here, 9. A friend gave us Popsicles that these two enjoyed daily as long as they lasted.

I had thought summer would be productive and a time to teach new skills. I’d teach the boys to wash their faces every morning and comb their hair.  They would learn to fold laundry neatly, and…well, there was actually a whole list of jobs they could learn to do since I would have time to work side by side with them.  It would’ve been so good and I know I’d appreciate it during the school year.

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1. Ready to head to the lake, 2. The babes and I, 3. This is what summer feels like, 4. Long naps 5. Ready for VBS, 6. First words, 7. The moonsand again. I want to be the mom who lets her children play like this daily, but I don’t want to clean this mess even weekly. 8. Street shot, 9. Having fun in 2 inches of water while waiting for the pool to be set up and drinking mint tea.

But…well, sleeping in and leisure and carefree days are not only fun, they feel like therapy after months of pushing through each day to make sure we finish everything that needs to be done. Yes, we would be glad to have more skills learned, but we’ll also be glad for the MaNy happy memories we’ve made this summer and the calm we’ve felt in spite of some crazy busy weeks.

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1. Texas! 2. Sword built by Zac turned to a cross to represent Jesus 3. Summer salads 4. The corner store 5. Fun in Daddy’s workshop, 6. Afternoon quiet time is better with books and kitty 7. Skyline + sunset love, 8. Precious computer time, 9. We got to pick blueberries(!!) with a friend(!!) and she picked two gallons for us(!!)

August has taken our lives by storm and the rest of our summer will be packed.  Summer has been good, though, and I’m so glad we had time to enjoy it.

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1. Walking with the family, 2. Zac 3. Zachary in his glory in the Lego piles at a homeschool convention. 4. The three boys we love, 5. Burnt apartments again 6. Poolside!! He didn’t sit for long. 7. Fan fun 8. A very rare and special date night thanks to a guest who offered to keep the boys for us!! 9. I value being able to serve healthy foods to out family

An Arrest at Our House

 

The evening was calm–we had a friend over for dinner and we enjoyed lots of fresh vegetables from the country our friends had brought up the day before.  Later our family was all hanging out in the living room reading, writing, or playing a part in Ian’s bat party when there was a loud knock on our back door.

Steve and I both looked at each other thinking, “Whaaaaat?!”  Our back yard is fenced in and the front door is so obvious that it wouldn’t make sense for someone to bypass it to go to the back.  The boys all three ran toward the kitchen to go see who was there since visitors are always exciting to them.

Neither Steve nor I is naturally fearful, but we both had a check in our spirits and simultaneously told the boys to wait.  Steve went to see who was there.  The knocking on the kitchen window was louder now.

Being curious, I looked into the kitchen and remember seeing the top of a head and a wad of cash in the hand of someone jumping up and down while talking with Steve through the closed window.  At first I thought it was someone begging for help, but the cash didn’t make much sense.  I couldn’t even tell if it was a child or an adult.  Steve would normally open the door or window, but this time he was keeping them closed making the situation seem like a little suspicious.

The boys were getting a little scared and I started thinking of lots of possibilities.  I didn’t know if this person was alone or with others. Was he armed? We all huddled in the bathroom which is the only room without windows.  I prayed loudly and confidently claiming the power of God to protect us.  I didn’t feel anxious, but my legs were like jelly.  I was holding Paxton and the other two boys were clinging tightly to me.  We prayed that God would give us a picture of the angels protecting us.

After we felt calmer we walked out again to see what was happening. (I’m too curious!) To try to get a better picture of what was going on, I looked out the front window to see if there was a broken down vehicle or anyone else.  Instead I saw policemen searching.  Ooooh….

We’ve gotten to watch a few police chases on our street before, so suddenly I knew what must be happening.  I ran out onto the porch and told them there was a man behind our house.

{Insert Steve’s perspective: I hurried to the kitchen to find a man desperately banging on the window yelling, “You gotta help me! The cops are after me!” I asked him why and he kept repeating that I needed to help him. He pulled out a wad of cash, then his necklace which he claimed had real gold, begging me to hide him. I kept asking him why he was running from the police. He finally said that he had beaten a man. Not knowing if that was the truth or how dangerous he was I told him to wait there and I would come around the house to meet him. I was not going to open the door and allow him inside with my family. I don’t think I have ever seen a look of desperation like his when he realized that I was not opening the door. He heard the police who had arrived by that time. He began beating on the window, trying to pry it open. Unbelievably he did not attempt to open the back door which was only a few feet from him, unlocked.}

Steve had walked to the front of the house expecting to go outside and talk with the man, but he didn’t want to open the back door and give the man a chance to come inside.  By the time Steve was walking to the front door, I’d already told the police the man was in the back and they were swarming our back yard.

We looked out the windows to watch what would happen.  A policeman noticed and asked Steve if our crawl space door had been open earlier.  It hadn’t been.  They immediately drew their guns and called for him to surrender then went inside to arrest him.

Juxtaposition:

our safe little world, our cozy house, our innocent boys, our focus on godliness, and

this dangerous world–also ours because we live in it, but not ours because we aren’t a part of it–where there is fear and crime and hatred and looking out for oneself more than others  

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There was a sense of relief once the man running was in handcuffs, but for me there is also a sense of sadness at seeing a man’s freedom stripped from him.  I know it’s only fair and it’s a result of a lack of freedom in his heart.  Still I appreciate that the police treated him with respect–something I’ve observed more than once during arrests.

The search wasn’t over after the arrest.  The man had been pulled over for a traffic violation, but fled the scene instead of stopping.  Because of that, the police were suspicious he was driving a stolen vehicle. They continued searching our area until at least 11:00 when they finally found the vehicle.

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One neat part of this evening is how our neighbors pulled together.  Our neighbor who we talk with most had seen the man running down the hill across from us and tried to call to warn us.  We stood outside chatting with her and Steve also talked with some other neighbors, too.  It’s so neat to see little bits of connection happening over time, so that when something like this happens we rally together trying to look out for each other.

Zachary was also quite pleased that Bear played a role in the arrest.  Someone had seen the man jump over our back fence.  Our back yard is divided into two sections.  A small part of it is our back yard, and the rest is over grown and Bear’s territory. Just beyond that are a couple vacant lots that are very overgrown and perfect for hiding.  Apparently he jumped into Bear’s section, saw the dog and jumped right over the fence into our back yard.  From there he was easily cornered.

And my favorite detail in this story~ The boys had a difficult time settling down to sleep after all that excitement.  Even though the police are “the good guys” it can be unsettling for little ones to see so many guns and so much action right outside their windows.  They weren’t fearful anymore after we’d battled through it earlier, but just unsettled even though it was really late and they were tired.

We asked friends to pray for peace of mind and sleep free from nightmares for them, and so many people covered us with prayers. Within minutes all three boys went from restless to sleeping.  They all three slept very well and woke up happy and free this morning.  God’s care for us is so amazing every time!

Since living here I have been thankful so many times that fear is not a huge struggle for me. I have other battles, but because of our surroundings it’s a big blessing to not be easily afraid.  The only niggling fear I have now is that we assisted in the arrest and obviously the man arrested knows where we live.  It’s the kind of thing we need to commit to the Father and trust that He will continue protecting our family.  We would so appreciate you also praying about both protection and peace of mind.

We are still new enough to the city that this feels rather big and exciting to us. We are so thankful that we are all safe.

Recommendations: Child Edition

A Delicious Treat to Bake:

Blueberry Crisp   <links in green

We’ve been so enjoying this recipe that stood out as a potential favorite from the pages of Bread and Wine.  After a fun day picking blueberries with a friend,  we’ve been devouring fresh blueberries.

This is such a great dessert for children because 1) There isn’t much sweetner, 2) It’s easy for them to make 3) They might not like it very much and their mama can have more.

Variations: I used brown sugar instead of maple syrup and replaced the olive oil with butter for myself or grape seed oil for Ian.  The almond flour can be replaced by white or wheat flour. We’re not gluten free, but the almond flour adds extra protein which is always good. Also, I’m out of nuts so I used shredded coconut instead. Tonight I doubled all the crisp ingredients except for the sugar so that I can eat it as a baked oatmeal substitute in the morning.

 

An Educational Website:

Kids National Geographic

The boys have learned so much information about animals.  They teach me facts!

 

 

Really, Really Great Gift Ideas:

Non-toy Gifts

Classes, membership, subscriptions, activities…all such wonderful ideas.  The last two years we were given a membership to zoo Atlanta and I thought it was one of Thee nicest gifts!  We are only ten minutes away, so we could pop by for an hour our two throughout the year. One year Zachary got either Ranger Rick or My Big Backyard for a birthday gift which he loved.  The gift time might not be so much fun at the birthday party, but gifts that keep giving all year long are winners for sure.

 

 

 

A Fun, Simple Craft for Boys:

Paper Rockets

Oh, children in general.  It’s just that our boys have very short attention spans when it comes to crafts (boo-hoo. I love doing crafts with kids), so finding one that everyone loved was a win all around.

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The Book I’ve Been Suggesting Everyone Read:

Wild Things the Art of Nurturing Boys

My friend Hannah recommended this book to me, and I in turn have been recommending it to every mother of boys.  It would be helpful for anyone who teaches boys,ministers to boys, parents boys, or loves boys. In other words, You know a boy? Read Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys. (=

The description from Amazon: Playing off the themes in the Caldecott Medal-winning children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, this informative, practical, and encouraging guide will help parents guide boys down the path to healthy and authentic manhood. Wild Things addresses the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of a boy, written by two therapists who are currently engaged in clinical work with boys and their parents and who are also fathers raising five sons. Contains chapters such as “Sit Still! Pay Attention!” “Deficits and Disappointments,” and “Rituals, Ceremonies, and Rites of Passage.”

Here are several excerpts~

The Lover
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As with Explorers, redirecting a lover’s energy and intensity toward something useful can be a very helpful technique.  Along with continued redirection, boys in the Lover sate need a great deal of regulation.  Though Lovers need affirmation and attention, they also need to have their unwanted behavior named and reprimanded. “Jimmy, you threw a rock at the car. That is destructive.” Naming unwanted behavior helps a boy learn to control his impulsiveness. “Tanner, you took a cookie when I told you not to. That is deceitful.” Notice how this feedback is straightforward, accurate, and specific. It’s not belittling or personally attacking: “I can’t believe you. You’re so selfish.” It’s not expansive: “How many times do I have to tell you?” “You never listen when I talk to you.” I can’t believe you did that.” It’s not nagging: “Oh, come on. Please…” Instead, effective feedback is short, firm, and measured.

Frequently , after this kind of interaction, a boy will begin to cry or be sad and need a hug or other affection. If there is any sign of authentic remorse, most often no further discipline is needed, and it’s time to immediately redirect his energy to a positive way of doing penance. “Tanner, come into the kitchen with me, and we’ll make some more cookies together and give them to your grandfather. He will like that.” He’s been named, and he’s been redirected. Job done.
If a boy doesn’t show signs of remorse, it is imperative that you follow through with a natural consequence. “Tanner, when we have cookies for desert tonight, you won’t be able to have one.”
You will save yourself many headaches down the road if you master what Micahael Gurian calls the “Two-Times Rule.” By this age, it is appropriate to expect a boy to follow through with an instruction by the second  command.
 
“Please go upstairs and pick up your toy cars before bed.” A few minutes pass. “I’ve asked you pick up your cars. I will not ask you again.”
If these two times don’t work, the boy’s behavior needs to be regulated through a natural consequence….
The Wandererer
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The son knew he had screwed up, and he was swimming in the shame of having botched up twice in succession. The father realized that his son didn’t need to hear a lecture; he needed mercy and understanding.
It can be hard to love someone as “unlovable” as a teenager. We’re not talking about some ooey-gooey feeling. The kind of love a boy at this stage needs is purposeful, willful, and desirous. It’s the kind of love that compels us to pray for our children. It calls us to remember the times when they were enjoyable, and to hold that in our hearts. It calls us to prepare and plan ways to delight in our boys. It moves us toward them in curiosity about what they are like with interest in who they are becoming.
 
And when those times come when we can’t seem to laugh or love, or we completely blow it in relating to our boys (which will most definitely happen at least two dozen times during their adolescence), they need us to ask for forgiveness. And they need us to go first in asking for forgiveness, even when they should be the ones to go first. The need for us to be the grown-ups. (because we are). 
Different Learning Styles
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As boys develop, they learn primarily in three ways: visually, spatially, and experimentally.  Schools, on the other hand, are mostly auditory, sedentary, and intellectual.  This mode of learning is detrimental not only to boys, but to girls as well. A study from the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that “free and unstructured play”  is “healthy and essential” for helping children reach chief “social, emotional, and cognitive developmental milestones, as well as helping them manage stress and become resilient.” The report cites changes in family structure, and increasingly competitive college admissions process, and federal education policies that have led to reduced recess and physical education in many schools. In settings like these, boys suffer the most. This loss of play and free time “in combination with a hurried lifestyle, can be a source of stress, anxiety, and may even contribute to depression for many children.” Boys who sit all day listening to to lectures are being taught in an environment that is not conducive to their learning. 
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What about parenting? Experiential learning can really change the way we parent boys. Instead of trying to tell our boys everything we want them to know, we can invest our parental energy in creating teachable moments that allow life’s circumstances to do the teaching. 
If real-life situations don’t lend themselves to teaching certain concepts (or aren’t appropriate for some reason), you can always role-play. For example, when my (David’s) boys were Explorers, I introduced the concept of appropriate touch through role-playing.  I set up a big play time with my boys, and we acted out different situations with adults who had permission to touch their bodies…and adults who did not. I also used their favorite stuffed animals and our family dog to identify body parts that were private and not to be shown, shared, or touched by others. We used the stuffed animals to play out situation in which a child was touched in appropriately and went to a safe adult to tell what happened. These vignettes ended with the safe adults loving on the boys and praising them for telling the truth.
Deficits and Disappointments
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Disappointment is one of the primary struggles that many boys face as they move from childhood to adolescence and into their young adult years.  Around the age of ten and onward, boys have difficulty handling failure–and they are more apt to stuff their disappointments than to name them and work their way through them. Boys talk less about what they are feeling and isolate themselves more than girls do. They go to their rooms and kick, brood, sulk, and hide in whatever emotion they are experiencing.
Unless we intervene with behavioral redirection, emotional coaching, and relational modeling , boy will carry these habits into their adult lives. It’ one reason why boys disproportionately commit violence against society and themselves. and why men in general head the charts in terms of substance abuse, sexual addiction, rage arrogance, adultery, and the use of pornography. Boys who never learn effective ways of dealing with their emotional lives grow into men with great struggles in terms of addiction of all kinds.
Boys who aren’t taught how to deal with their disappointments will buy their heartaches, hide their weaknesses, and compensate for their incompetence. When they grow into men, they will be emotionally defensive, performance driven, or both. Boys who don’t know how to handle disappointment will come to believe that their worth is based on what they achieve or what they have to offer. They’re left to try to manufacture their own self-esteem and base their self-worth on performance or behavior. These are the guys who keep score.
Whether consciously or not, these boys, and the men they become, believe that their value is based on what others think about them, and they wear themselves out trying to seek approval or win affection. Too often this exhausting quest to feel good about themselves creates a need or desire for some external substance or behavior to alleviate the pain of their unmanaged disappointment. Often, it turns to lust. Boys and men who can’t handle these disappointments end up lusting for sex, money, power, fun, drugs, escape, TV, vacations, or whatever else they can find that works. 
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Despite our best efforts, however, we can’t get around the fact that disappointment, pain, and struggle are all a part of life. When we don’t allow the boys we love to suffer with the disappointments of life, we undermine their manhood by sending them messages that say, “You’re weak. you can’t handle life.” Intentionally or not, by our words and our actions we communicate to our boys that they’re not capable or responsible.
When we shield boys from life’s natural consequences or demand perfection from them (which of course they can’t achieve), they inevitably fall short of the mark–bringing guilt and shame. Helicopter parents and Drill Sergeant parents often complain about their sons mismanaged responsibilities. These parents are left to whine and nag or demand and threaten

 

I especially loved the descriptions of developmental stages.  Parts of the book were so enlightening.  Other parts were affirming.  Because the boy world is new to me I really needed to hear some of the ways we are parenting  are really good for boys.  Then there were the parts that made me laugh because they are such  t r u e descriptions of boys.  Reading Wild Things gave me an even greater passion to nurture boys in ways that encourage them to become strong, godly men.

 

 

A Bee Story, Boys Sweeter than Honey, and a Little Health Info

Y’all I am sitting here feeling like a big baby!  I got about 10 bee stings tonight when we were walking home from the park and they h u r t–which I know is rather surprising since they are bee stings.

I unknowingly stepped onto their nest and while waiting on one of the little boys to catch up with the rest of the family, I just hung out right there.  Until–I felt stinging on my leg. I was expecting to see fire ants, but instead there were BEES flying all around me.

I would like to think I stay calm and collected in stressful situations, but I’m not bragging about that strength one bit.  Nope, not at all.  I stood paralyzed right in the middle of a swarm of bees.  You would think a person would move, but no.  I stayed there swatting and screaming and dropping my phone right into their nest!

Steve started yelling, (Oh, wait, that was Steve who really does stay calm always and forever) …um, directing, “Run! Run!” So we ran, and stopped and swatted and ran and swatted and ran. There were bees inside my clothes and the stings range all over from my lip to my ankle.

Ian was crying dramatically, but we didn’t know if he was getting swarmed, too, or if he was crying because he was scared.  He did end up with one sting. That would normally seem pitiable, but having ten and all…No, seriously, I was really glad I was the one who got so many stings and not the boys!  Zachary, Paxton, and Steve escaped without any stings.

Steve stayed near the nest for about 20 minutes until the bees calmed down enough for him to rescue my phone.  Yeah, he’s my hero!

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We were not too far from our house, so Zachary biked ahead and the little boys and I meandered back. Ian first made up three rules for crossing the bridge to help us avoid stings then made up a song to help us be brave. It went like this:

We will not be afraid.

We will not worry.

We will trust in Jeeeeeeeesus.

When we got home (feeling plenty miserable), Zachary told me he had a surprise for me.  He led me up the steps to the house while I covered my eyes.  We got to the door and he told me to open my eyes to see a clean living room. He said he got home and cleaned it up for me as fast as he could, “Even though I was terribly hungry!” (That’s big stuff, y’all.  Hunger trumps everything.)  Then he made little ham and cracker sandwiches for the boys to eat and told me to sit down and relax.  Sometimes I’m just amazed at the sweetness that can spill out of little boys! 

 

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This is a small collection of info about health~

~A blog post for anyone who is suffering from, or who knows someone suffering from an invisible illness: “But You Look Great”

~A few months ago I did a bowel cleanse and a liver cleanse consecutively.  I did get good results from it which is saying a lot for a skeptics like Steve and I. My energy had plummeted again, but after the cleanse it improved a lot.  I’m back to where I was last summer when I was at my strongest since working with the natropath.  While that not where I’d wish I’d be a year later, it’s still progress and at least I’m back on the top end.

For those of you who were wondering about the product I used, you can find it at this website.  The bowel cleanse is not too bad, but the liver cleanse is tough!

Cleanses are good for so many reasons and anyone who needs a boost of energy could probably benefit from doing one.  You can choose how intensely you want to cleanse by your food choices while cleansing.  You can eat your normal diet, hopefully eating at least somewhat clean, if you are healthy but would like a boost in energy. You can eat vegan if you’re tired a lot and would like a boost in energy.  Then if you are sick and tired of being sick and tired (That was me!) and want to dig deep, you can do a juice cleanse.  And just for peace of mind–you won’t be camped out next to the bathroom all day. I can imagine many people could do a cleanse while doing their life just as normal.

I have to warn you that the information that comes with the cleanse is biased against doctors and not necessarily respectful.  Normally that would probably make me throw out the product, but desperation won out. The information about food and the human body seems to align with other things I’ve been learning, and I recommend the product.

~Current health for me: After two weeks of cleansing I eased back into a vegan diet combined with the elimination diet.  I had just tested mildly positive for several food intolerances, so we’ve been slowly reintroducing foods to detect which ones are truly causing problems.

This has been such an eye-opening experience.  I have enough food intolerances that I was having symptoms all.the.time. Because they were nearly constant I didn’t pinpoint foods as being the culprit.  After eliminating the foods from my diet, it was so easy to connect symptoms with foods when slowly reintroducing them individually.

These are symptoms that have lessened or gone away completely since eliminating eggs, brewer’s yeast,  baker’s yeast, yogurt, and whey: fatigue, aching muscles or muscle pain, feeling heavy–as though there are weights attached all over my body holding me down, tingling in my tongue, arms, hands and legs, joint pain, blurry vision, brain fog, stomach cramps, bloating (I sometimes looked six months pregnant and I’m not kidding a bit), dizziness, lightheartedness, chest pain, rapidly beating heart, irritability, weakness, shakiness.

My diet is pretty restricted.  It’s difficult. However the difference in how I feel makes the sacrifice worth it!!!!!!!!!!  I get so many symptoms instantly after eating foods I should avoid.  While that’s bad news because a quick reaction means I’m pretty sensitive, it’s also good because it makes me determined to avoid them.

You know how you feel when you’re on a diet and someone serves warm chocolate chip cookies that smell and look amazing?  You know you shouldn’t eat them because sugar is bad and harms your body….but…just a bite, or a half, or maybe just one cookie wouldn’t be so bad?  It is just really hard to stick to a diet.  Well, instead, knowing that just a bite is going to bring instant aches, blurry vision, extreme fatigue, shakiness, brain fog, and more makes it so easier to say no.

I’m still in the process of testing foods (there is a loooong list) and also of learning which foods contain foods I know I shouldn’t have.  I still end up with reactions often because of that and sometimes they last a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, and sometimes a few days.  At least I finally have something defined to work with.  I don’t think food intolerances have been the only issue here, but they definitely play a big role.  I’m so happy to be kicking one more problem and making progress to becoming healthy.  Does anyone know…do bee stings have healing properties?  I was thinking maybe the shock my body went through tonight would count for something.  Haha.

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Atlanta: A Collection of Pictures

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This is a collection of pictures

I’ve taken of Atlanta.  It’s the part of the city

we see when we’re out on errands or being touristy.

It’s the beautiful part of the city that most people see and know–

where there are lots of flowers and clean sidewalks and streetlights.

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Our computer is jammed FULL right now, and I

have the fun job of cleaning it up this afternoon.  Whenever I

complain about how SLOW it’s gotten Steve always seems

to mention the enormous amount of pictures

I store on here.  Hmm.

I’m working on clearing some of the many pictures off

the computer.  I found this pack of pictures in an Atlanta folder.

I don’t remember if I’ve posted them before, but hopefully

you’ll enjoy a look around.

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I ADORE the moment of shared happiness in this picture.
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On lunch break
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A Tyler Perry movie set

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A Target parking lot. The store is underground.

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Clothing boutique on the Westside

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atlantic station

An Atlanta family's story: learning to love God and others

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