Friday, May 27, 2011

susta review

i am not a baker. i am a giant failure in the cooking sweet morsely goodness department. and honestly, i try to avoid processed white sugar as much as possible. but when i was asked to try a new natural sweetener called SUSTA, i accepted, thinking it would be an interesting opportunity to try some not so bad for you sugary snacks.

{photo credit}

a few facts:

  • SUSTA is an all natural sweetener that is a low glycemic index food. meaniing, when you use SUSTA as a substitute for sugar, it won't give you that sugar rush followed by a crash. in other words, it doesn't affect your blood sugar levels as badly, making it great for people suffering from diabetes. 
  • SUSTA is low calorie. each packet contains only 5 calories.
  • SUSTA contains fiber and probiotics which aid in digestion.
  • SUSTA is safe for use in pregnant/nursing women, children and those with diabetes. 
  • there are no chemicals or processed ingredients. 
{photo credit}

i was sent a box of SUSTA packets and also a bag of their product called SUSTAbowl, which is just loose SUSTA in a bag to use in baking. the information sheet informed me to only substitute the sugar in a recipe up to half, so it would be half sugar, half SUSTA. 

first things first, i'm a southern girl and love some sweet tea. it was time to make some more anyway, so i decided to try replacing half of the sugar with SUSTA. i made my tea as usual, but replaced half a cup of sugar with SUSTA, and then added a half cup regular sugar. 

my first impression was that it was WAY sweeter than i expected. i usually use 1 1/2 cups of sugar when i make tea, and i think that is pretty tame, but this SUSTA tea was more sweet than that. it also had a little bit of a fruity taste, which was not something i cared for. it didn't taste bad, just not like the tea i like to drink on a regular basis.

my second attempt at tasting it was by substituting the sugar in cookies. like i said, i am not a baker. i don't know anything about baking, and as a matter of fact, i burned out my hand mixer tonight and almost lit the house on fire. this is why i buy pre-made cookies or cookie dough. but i figured the best way to really tell if it was good, was to..well.....use it. 

i decided upon the most basic sugar cookies i could find. i made the recipe and the first thing i noticed was the consistency was a little different than i am used to. it could have been my terrible baking skills, or the SUSTA, but i couldn't quite get the sugar mixture and butter to cream and it remained grainy. i added in the dry ingredients and and finished mixing (cue smoke and flash). 

i rolled out the cookies onto a cookie sheet and baked them according to the recipe. another thing i noticed was that the cookies didn't flatten out like most cookie dough does. it stayed exactly like how i dropped it. 

after they cooled, i grabbed a few and a glass of milk and got to tasting. it was all very scientific. i ate a bite, swirled it around in my wait.....that's wine.......scratch that. i took a bite, and my first reaction was that it was sweeter than i am used to. *mental note: next time use less sugar all together* this turns out to be a good thing! SUSTA is so sweet that you don't need to use as much to get the desired sweetness from your food. so, yay! less sugar! the cookies were actually really delicious. i could tell there was a difference, but it wasn't a bad difference. 

there is an odd feeling in your mouth after consuming it. i can't explain it well, but it is almost like after you spray throat spray in your mouth. no taste, just like your breath is a lot cooler or something. i'd say that might be the only negative to the product. 

some pros:
some cons:
  • the feeling after you eat it is a little weird
  • it takes a few times to get the amount right.
the website has several recipes (that i saw after making my cookies) that include SUSTA, and sound really yummy.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

i want my fat little angel back.

when bella was about 3 months old, my friend's baby was a toddler. i was visiting one day and witnessed her become exasperated, several times, with her rambunctious little one. she blew out a big breath and kind of slumped, defeated, into the ground. she sat up and looked at me and said, "she is driving me crazy today."

i looked to bella, all fat and sweet and stationary and found myself thinking, "i could never be that way with her.....she is so sweet."

famous last words.

skip to today. we're in target, and i am trying on a bathing suit (which is like, SO my favorite thing to do anyway) and bella is sitting in the stroller, screaming at the top of her lungs. as i fumble with the ties and try to keep myself from being exposed in the dressing room, she throws her water on the ground, but only after shaking out half of it onto her tray (and those are "supposed" to be leak proof. i'm beginning to believe that the only thing truly leak proof is an empty sippy). she screams again. throws her cow across the room. screams. throws. screams. 

this wasn't a tantrum, mind you. in between the screams, she was laughing. they were actually more like squeals than screams. 

"stopit." i said through clenched teeth.




"you are going to be in somuchtrouble. STOPIT!!" 


i start to sweat. her screams embarrass me and makes my blood boil. 

i take away all her toys and her sippy and put them in the bag. 


i let out a deep breath, sit down and slump, defeated, into the bench. i look at bella. "you are driving me crazy today, you know that?" 

of course, we get home, and after lunch and some little einsteins, bella walks over to me, wraps her arms around my leg, pats me a few times, then she kisses my knee and says, "eyyyye duvvv yew". 

(this is terrible video quality, but you get the point)

my sister calls her a sour patch kid-first she's sour. then she's sweet. i'm pretty sure she was the inspiration behind their commercials. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

6 years.

this post is actually a little late. our anniversary was 5 days ago, but i was on my way to visit with joel for a few days . i spent the entire day driving, but it was most definitely worth it to spend one last weekend together. 

this is a weird way to start out our 7th year of marriage, apart and with little communication for half of it. but we will make it through. and we will be stronger for it. we always are. 

the first time i met you, i was moving into my dorm my sophomore year of college. i didn't know a soul except for my room mate, and as soon as i got my stuff down and my mom out the door, we were called to a floor meeting. our floor and the boys floor above us. you were the first to speak. you were confident, though not arrogant. you spoke with authority. and you were enthusiastic about the coming year. 

you planned fun events and made sure everyone was having as much fun as they wanted. you were silly and goofy and made people laugh. 

those were the first things i saw in you. and the first things i loved in you. 

that was 8 years ago, and i remember it like it was yesterday. since then, you have been my best friend. i can't imagine my life any other way than with you in it.

i have more fun,  i'm more challenged, i do more, i see more, i am more. 

seeing you as a dad has brought about a new love and respect that i could have never imagined. you are gentle and sweet and playful. bella adores you, which makes my heart sing. and you adore her which makes me melt. 

we've had our ups and downs, but through each moment we have been there, holding the other one and reminding them what's important. i can always count on you to say what i need to hear, even when it's not what i want to hear. 

on friday, we celebrated 6 years in a somewhat unorthodox way. most people go to fancy hotels and have nice big dinners with sparkly gifts exchanged. we celebrated by visiting you at your government approved hotel, in a military town far away. we took bella to the playground and then went to the mall and we ate dinner in the food court. we spent the weekend recording you reading new books you bought for the baby, swimming in the hotel pool and playing with the trains at barnes and noble. it was a bitter sweet weekend. each moment, i was reminded how much i would miss you and how much you and i had become one. just as we would be laughing about something only we would find funny, a though would pass through my mind and i would remember that at the end of the weekend, we would say goodbye, and i would start to cry. i've never felt so bi-polar in all my life. 

but it was also such an amazing way to spend those last few days-i think we both really cherished each moment we had.

 happy 6 years, babe. thank you for who you are. i love your energy and how you balance me out. you are smart, and funny, and charming, and creative. you make me laugh and you hold me when i cry. you are my other half. i'm going to miss you like crazy, but i am also so proud of you and i think you are pretty amazingly brave. 

i love you. more than words can say. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

must haves: summer edition

even though a cold front just came through, leaving us feeling more like early spring than almost summer, i have been gearing up for the sun filled afternoons that await us. this is my must haves list to get me through summer!

bento boxes from pottery barn kids
photo credit: pottery barn
there are tons of bento boxes out there now, but for the size and the price, i have found very few that compare to these.

california baby bug spray
photo credit: california baby

i don't know about the bug situation where you are, but around here? mosquitos and gnats are B.A.D. and i am so sugary sweet that they all flock to me. this stuff is chemical free and all natural, meaning i don't have to worry about the long term effects, only the fact that i will not be scratching my face off after enjoying a day by the pool. 

california baby face stick sunscreen
photo credit: california baby
while it is a little "zinc-y" (read: leaves white marks, making you look like the nerdy lifeguard, if you don't rub it in well enough) it is fragrance and chemical free, and all kinds of other harmful stuff free. safe for me, safe for bella, safe for the sun.

bubble outfits! starting with this one from chez ami.
photo credit: chez ami
a company based out of raleigh, nc, chez ami is a kids clothes home party company. they have the CUTEST stuff, and they are on facebook. if i didn't hate home parties so much, i would totally be a consultant for them. but you can order individual pieces! 

photo credit:

exactly what every parent needs for a baby who is as obsessed with bubbles as mine is.

an awesome baby pool, like the banzai baby sprinkles splish splash pool

photo credit:
nothing beats the heat like running around in pools and sprinklers. and this one is awesome. bella was tentative for about 2 seconds. and don't think i don't climb in the bad boy with her. it's the perfect way to cool off. 

photo credit: apple cheeks, 
these are, by far, the best swim diapers i have found. 

something sweet from happy little lovelies

photo credit: happy little lovelies
they are so happy and oh so lovely!

an awesome photo app

i used action snap for android to take a picture of bella looking at her dada's picture. it's free on the android market. and it's awesomesauce. and because b will be in action all summer, this is the perfect app to catch her silliness. 

an awesome workout for a beach body.

i'm doing p90x. last time i did this workout, i lost 10 pounds in a month and then got pregnant. but i looked and felt great. time to start over, just in time to get beach body ready

happy summer!!!

in case you missed them, here are my spring must haves, that i also must have for the summer! 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

what happened to my quiet existence?

this is the morning where i step onto the back porch, hair a mop on top of my head, coffee cup in hand, wrapped in a terry cloth robe and bunny slippers, and scream at the top of my lungs, "SHUUUUUUUUTTTTTTTTT UUUUUUUUUPPPPPPPPP!!!!!!".

only, i don't have the energy.

the neighbors dog has been barking incessantly since about 2 am. the baby slept all night long and didn't make a peep until 7am, but 7am came way too early considering i was up all night listening to yelps and barks.

all night, as each hour slowly ticks by, i think of my plan of action. i don't have to put up with this! i will call animal control. no. no that's not very neighborly. then again, neither is leaving your dog out all night to keep up the neighbors. i know what to do! i'll go knock on their door, explain to them that i have a baby and need my sleep. wait. it's 2am. they're probably sleeping. that's rude. wait. it's 2am and i'm NOT gun???? but i don't want to hurt the dog. i just want it to be quiet.

i visit the scream at the top of my lungs idea. well that would just be lovely, no? i remember when we moved into the house i lived in through high school, the neighbors came over to introduce themselves, saying, "thank goodness the old neighbors moved. she would always come outside and scream at her kids to come inside, or scream at the dogs. i think she was kind of crazy." so there's that rolling around in the back of my mind. i certainly don't want to be the crazy lady on the block. but then again, if i don't get some sleep soon, i will be the crazy lady on the block.

as i sit here, the dog is still barking. don't dogs ever lose their voices? or like get sore throats? surely, he must be getting thirsty from all that barking.

i feel my eyes twitching. and my hands are shaking. oh how quickly one forgets the all nighters of a newborn.

now, off to wrap some vicodin in a ham hock. maybe that will keep him quiet............

Sunday, May 15, 2011

today was the day.

5 days before we celebrate our 6 year anniversary, i find myself up at 6am, driving to the base to drop my husband off for a 7 month deployment. 

we spent the last week taking in each other and our little family, doing fun things when we weren't running around trying to get him ready. we ate out almost every meal, since he may be eating anything from MRE's (nasty packaged food that heats itself....which is just wrong) to something unidentifiable. and saturday, we went to six flags for my moms work function. 

it was a fun filled day of roller coasters (which we haven't ridden in almost 6 years) and rides with the baby. bella loved most of the rides, and especially loved the playground. of course. 

up until last night, it felt like the day he left would never come. i knew it was coming, but for some reason, it didn't seem like it ever would get here. 

we got up and drove onto base early this morning. we pulled into the parking lot, the only other cars belonging to the rest of his squadron who were also deployed. as the transport pulled up beside us, i felt this overwhelming sense of sadness. 

we have weird goodbyes, usually. the last deployment he went on, i dropped him off at the airport, gave him a hug and a kiss and said goodbye. there are no tears, no prolonged make-out session for the world to see, no long embraces or sniffles. just a simple goodbye, and we part ways. i know he'll be back, and i also look at each deployment as a chance for me to prove how strong i am.

when joel is home, i always default most of the typical "man" chores to him. but when he is gone, i have to do it all. and it's kind of empowering. i mow, and build stuff, and put things together, and fix things. 

but this morning was kind of different. this morning, when joel said goodbye to me and bella, and then climbed into the van, bella's lip started to quiver a little. i said, "say bye-bye dada!" and the waterworks started flowing. big crocodile tears just streaming down her cheeks. 

45 minutes later, she finally started to slow the tears. but only after i had shed a few of my own. 

i'll miss him a lot, for sure. but trying to imagine how bella feels and what she thinks is what really breaks my heart. i don't know how to help her rationalize that her daddy is gone and she only gets to see him on the computer and in pictures. she can see him in video's or through video chat, but he never tucks her into bed, or gives her a bath, or plays on the playground with her. and i know he is coming back soon, but how can i communicate that to her

bella loves her daddy. sometimes i think she likes him more than she likes me. and that's ok (for now). one day she will know why she is proud of her daddy. and she will be even more so. 

for now, she carries her daddy doll around with her everywhere she goes, kisses him goodnight, eats with him (and feeds him...which gets messy, you can imagine), puts bows in his hair, and snuggles up at night with him. and occasionally, she pokes him in the eye. 

we miss you!!!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

meet the neighbors

my brain has been all over the place the last few weeks, and my heart has been very heavy. most of it, i can't really talk about in a public forum like this, and because it consumes my thoughts, i have simply not written anything of substance in a long time.

and some of it, is just difficult to explain. i tap out a long post, only to read it and find myself saying, "what was i even talking about?"

i'm going to go with my better judgement, and i am going to keep these things to myself for now. they may come out later. i just felt the need to explain my absence and somber tone lately.

now, onto silly things.

we have new neighbors. they are.....


i don't like to pass judgement about a person the moment i meet them, but sometimes, people make it hard.

neighbor lady: (standing outside in the backyard smoking, her 3 year old son running around)

me: hi! did you guys just move in? (i mean...duh...but i had to open it somewhere, right?)

nl: yeah, we just closed friday. now we're guttin' the place.

me: nice. well welcome and congrats on your new house.

nl: your dogs mean?

me: um. no. oh the fence? we put that up because one of our dogs is a jumper. but they are not mean at all. (i say, as duke is barking like a mad man at their dogs)

nl: just checkin. i seen that fence and thought maybe they were biters or sumthin.

me: nope. just jumpers.

nl: you got a kid??

me: (looks around at all the toys scattered around the backyard) yep, just one. she's about 17 months.

nl: (takes a long drag off her cigarette): yah, we just got this un here (the wild banshee child, running around and screaming at the top of his lungs), and i'm due with our second in september.

and those are our neighbors! yay us!!

mothers day/deployment photo shoot

with joel's deployment coming up and because mothers day was getting close, i decided to have bella's pictures done. a few months ago, we entered a contest that a local photographer was running. i had never met her or heard of her, but i always like a chance to win something!

so we entered bella's picture and lo and behold! she won! we had her session, and i was really pleased. here is her album from that photo shoot. 

when we needed more pictures, i knew just who i would go to.

at our first session, i found out that she was just starting up her photography business after years of it just being a hobby. she decided to get serious when she and her husband decided to try an adopt a child. the funds raised from taking pictures would go directly towards the cost of adoption.

i love kids and i love knowing that every time i get bella's pictures done by jen, i am helping her get one step closer to her goal of being a mommy. 

here are some of my favorites from our most recent shoot. 

bella was super uncooperative, but we still managed to get some good stuff from her. annie's bunnies always help. 

jen is currently photographing in
 macon and warner robins area, 
but will soon be pcsing with her husband.
 her contact info can be found here 

Friday, May 6, 2011

today is "be nice to me because my husband is awesome" day.

last month was month of the military child. 

military children go through a lot. and they didn't ask for it. they switch schools every few years, have to make new friends and don't have one house they can say was their childhood home. kids are flexible and seem to absorb the change most of the time, but it can't be easy. bella is 17 months and i can only imagine how hard it must be for her to rationalize why daddy is gone for long periods of time. 

a lot is uncertain in the life of a military child. our job as her parents, who brought her into this situation, is to provide her with the only stability that we can, building on a strong foundation of love and faith. being faithful to God, being faithful to each other, and being faithful to love and guide our children in appropriate ways. obviously, this can be said for any family, but it's especially pertinent to military families. 

i love my military child, who handles things better than i do sometimes. (and sometimes she screams all night long because she misses her daddy.) 

today is military spouse appreciation day. 

being a military spouse is an honor and a privilege. i know that sounds weird-i did choose to be married to someone in the military. i don't mean that is was something bestowed upon me, but i get a lot of recognition for my husbands job. much of which i don't feel i deserve. he is the one helping people effected by disasters. he is the one deploying to dangerous areas. he is the one sacrificing his time, his body, his family, his leisure. but i feel so proud to say, "my husband is in the military". he makes me proud

i don't always like what he has to do. but he serves. he protects. he does it willingly. better yet, he does it happily. he diligently does his job and goes wherever he is sent. he is strong and brave and is overflowing with courage. he chose this life. and he chose me to live it with him. i feel honored that he wanted me beside him. 

not everyone is cut out to be a military spouse. it's hard. it's trying. you move a lot. there are no roots. you're far from anything familiar, most of the time. it's a test of your relationship and of your spirit. some people seem to kind of fall into this lifestyle and they resist it, to the detriment of their family. other embrace it, and stand strongly behind their spouse. 

i have been so blessed to be among this amazing group of people. military spouses are like no other. we become family very quickly. we celebrate marriages, births, buying homes, selling homes, holidays, birthdays, and everything in between with each other. often, we are far from home and our blood families, and we rely on the kindness and sympathy of almost complete strangers. we forge bonds that are not easily broken. most of the people i consider life long, best friends are military spouses. they hold your hand, they've got your back, and they even send their kids over to mow the grass. we are godparents to their children and they are second families for ours. i feel so fortunate to say that i literally have friends all over the globe.

today, i recognize the amazing men and women who selflessly support their military spouse, both here and abroad. thank you for your friendship. thank you for your love. thank you for your bravery. you make this life easier and so much more fun. 

1% of Americans may be fighting our wars, 
but we need 100% of Americans to be supporting
 our troops and their families. 
Mrs. Obama and Dr. Biden are asking 
Americans to get involved in any way they can. 
Find out more about Joining Forces to support military families.

Monday, May 2, 2011

military moments: osama is a goner.

today is a weird day.

i'm sure you've all heard that some of america's bravest killed one of the words biggest coward. one shot to the head.

i think a moment is deserved for all those who lost their lives and loved ones on 9/11 and for the men and women who have fought and died valiantly, leaving behind babies and lovers and mothers and fathers, in the pursuit of this evil man.


i woke up this morning and checked my news app on my phone. the top headline had my jaw dropping to the ground. i don't watch much tv, so my only source of news is that app and facebook. i know, that's way lame, but i am so disconnected with reality.

my first thought was elation. this man hunt was finally over! it's over! we're done! YES!!! i finished the article, put down my phone and sat with bella as she watched mickey mouse (the only thing we do watch on tv. that and handy manny).

and then i had another thought. and that one was not so great. i was scared. leading up to this deployment, fear has not really been in my mind. i was bummed we would be apart-i would miss him, bella would miss him. i hated that we would not get to celebrate our anniversary, the holidays, my birthday, bella's birthday. i was anxious-it seems to take forever for them to leave, which means that's just longer until they come home. but fear didn't really cross my mind. not for me and not for him. we know a lot of people who have deployed and come back safely, and i thought things were settling a little. it didn't seem so unstable.

and then, we killed the queen bee. and the reality of what is to come seemed to hit home. heightened safety alerts, anticipated threats of retaliation. these words are not comforting. i'm pretty sure they aren't meant to be.

obviously, the threat is not certain. we are anticipating them. meaning none have been made, none that we know of anyway. but it still scares me.

i read articles about the possible threats. dumb move. i seem to have a morbid curiosity sometimes and this is not a good time to indulge that.

i'm praying that we don't rest on our victory in the days and weeks following this. and i pray for the safety of everyone serving in the military. mostly, right now, i am asking for peace of mind.


i have not been posting much lately. i can't say i haven't had time to get on here. i just haven't made the time. it hasn't seemed as important as taking in moments that are happening. bella is busy, constantly. chasing her and keeping her entertained has become more time consuming than ever. and also more rewarding.

and joel being gone has pretty much consumed my thoughts. i can't talk about much, and that makes it harder, and i definitely can't write about it, except to say he's gone. and sometimes i don't even feel comfortable putting that out there (by the way, i have two giant, ferocious dogs who will eat you if you aren't supposed to be here. and i know combatives, just in case there are any bad guys reading this. i will cut you. ). my mom is staying with us while joel is gone, in part to help me, and in part so we can help her. and that makes things easier. at least i am not alone in a house with a toddler. i can already feel my brain turning to mush.

tonight, when you sit down to dinner with your family, and bless your food, take an extra moment to thank the people who fight to protect you every day, who are leaving families behind, who are sacrificing their lives for people they have never met. and before you say anything negative (especially on twitter or facebook) about our military, think about why you are able to say what you think. don't trivialize the sacrifice these men and women are making. they died so you can speak your mind. but a little respect wouldn't kill you either.

and i mean that in the nicest way possible.