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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Grace for who you were Before

Here I am with my adorable and sweet husband, Jeremy.  This pic was taken in 2005, a few months before we got married.  A few months before we decided to pack up our belongings and life in Indianapolis, IN and move to Cumming, GA for a wealth of opportunities, exciting change, and a unique adventure....
Cover Photo
photograph by Lindsey White (who was then, Lindsey Kannen, since we're on the subject)

Pretty quickly after moving to GA, I realized, or felt like, it was a big mistake.  We really wanted to get away from everything we knew, even though we loved it, and establish our family unit away from pretty much everything- For just a few years- and then we could move back!  We could, you know, buy a house, have a cool experience exploring the region, and then sell the house, make a profit and move back to the Midwest when we were ready to have a family.  My plan would have worked so well had we not had this pesky recession and a beautiful surprise package from a stork!! 
6 years later, here we are.  In our townhouse, a 4 year old and 2 year old en tow.  It's a beautiful thing, I keep reminding myself, but it was definitely not my plan to be stuck in a starter house, busting at the seems with a bustling family, trying to make do in my tiny kitchen while being a personal chef and cooking every meal!  All my counters are full of things stewing, brewing, culturing- or just fresh in a bowl.  It's a wild thing, even though it has its element of charm.  I get a lot of the southern go-to phrase, "Bless your heart, Anna."  The piles, jars and dishes are endless, and sometimes I get so confined I feel like screaming, "Why did I EVER move here?  Why did I EVER buy this house?  Why did I EVER leave Indiana?  Why didn't we move to Minnesota so we'd at least be by family?  Why did I think this was a good idea?  Why did life have to happen like THIS?"

But.  God's been teaching me a wise, gentle lesson lately.

Instead of battling with a self-loathing rolling boil about every brilliant-decision-gone-bad that I've made, God wants me to take a gentler approach with myself.  For one thing, I've noticed how gentle HE has been with me.  Then, He showed me that I need to honor who I was in different parts of my life.  I don't need to judge myself and wish I had made different decisions to the point of regret.  After all, I do think out my decisions, even though they don't always work out for the best, or the way I'd hoped.  BUT, I did truly make the choices I thought were best at the time, so why not honor myself for who I was- naive, young, and frankly- just as I am today- unaware of what tomorrow holds? 

I am free from living from regret if I know that the decisions I am making are the best, thought-out decisions I can make with the knowledge and experience I have.  I can look at myself at different points of my life and say, "there, there, silly girl.  I care about you, and I am honoring you for who you were- just as you ought to have been, I suppose."  But, I'm glad I've learned something, too.  I'm glad I've grown and changed, and I know i'll keep growing because I am open to it.  I seek it out.  And I am sure in 10 years I'll look back at my 29-year-old self today and say, "There, there, little one.  You thought you had it figured out, and look what I'm dealing with now!!!  But, even still, I am rubbing your back, whispering in your ear that I know you did the best you could that day.  That month.  That year.  You really did.  Even though today could have been different if you would have made a different decision, it's OK.  You really did the best you could." 

My family as we are today!  Photo taken by Lindsey White

How amazing when you take on even a glimmer of the view of yourself that God has- his gentleness  astounds my being.  His careful grace is beyond my comprehension.  Can you give yourself some care today- to view your soul the way God does?  To honor yourself today, and have grace for yourself yesterday?  A freedom to live with no regret.  A true freedom to live in Grace!

Love,
Anna

Thursday, March 22, 2012

My First Naturopath Appointment

Welp.  Yesterday my son Noah and I had our very first naturopath appointment.  We discovered some extremely helpful and valuable information with no invasive testing (not even a blood draw), and are very excited to put our knew knowledge to practice.  What did we discover?
Noah has an allergy to egg yolk.  Could this be contributing to his tonsil hugeness?  We are excited to cut out this ingredient and see what happens!  To avoid a surgery like a tonsillectomy/Adnoidectomy would be so much better for my little guy.  We think these "outpatient" surgeries are no big deal- I mean, c'mon, Dr.'s do these every day, right?  But surgery's ARE a big deal, and they do have consequences- some you may see immediately, some may emerge down the road.  Why not try other natural options first and use surgery as a last resort instead of a "quick fix"?  So, that is our tactic, anyway. 

Now, my discoveries were pretty interesting.  Apparently I have an allergy to Spelt, soy and Fruit sugar!  Well, I was thinking wheat was my issue (wheat is definitely considered to be 99% devil anymore, right?) so I had been cutting that out and eating more fruit smoothies.  well, woops!  Soy is absolutely no problem to cut out, however it sneaks it's way into processed foods that you wouldn't think!  Good thing I make most everything from scratch, or I would be more concerned.  Spelt, I use occasionally, and it is a fabulous little ancient grain, but it will be easy to avoid now that I know.  Fruit on the other hand- what a bummer!  However, my fabulous ND, Dr. Jennifer Miller, told me we will retest in 6 weeks to see if cutting it out for a little while solves the problem. 

There was lots of other moments of revelation, like some adrenal fatigue and what-not.  I was just thrilled to actually have some usable information leaving the Dr.'s office for the first time!  Someone who actually listened and read between the lines.  Checking for subtleties that wouldn't show up in a blood test, perhaps.  It was enlightening for me, anyway, and I am so excited to hopefully help my body reach a better place!! 

I say this to encourage you to really think about your body, how you feel, how your body SHOULD feel.  Do you feel healthy and vibrant, energetic and fresh?  Does your body eliminate like it's supposed to?  C'mon, I'm not embarrassed to bring it up- it's serious business!  It is possible to feel this way- if you eat real food and pay attention to subtleties in your body.  In my experience, if you are not eating real, whole foods (unprocessed), it is even more difficult to even realize what you are missing, to be in touch with your body.  Give it a try- don't be afraid to make the leap, because it's too important NOT to!  Really.  For real.  Seriously.  Be excited for some egg-free recipes coming soon!

Questions?  Comments?  I hope so!

Have an awesomely healthy day and do something great for yourself by eating some fresh, quick and simple meals with whole, unprocessed ingredients.

Love,
Anna 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Madelyn Digs my Bear!

Creating a book for the world to view is like an elephants long, arduous pregnancy leading up to a successful birth!  The ups were highlighted by finding a publisher who understood my passion, followed by the magical creative process.  Starting with the first storyboards and working our way through several until the final paintings were beautifully created.  The lows haunted me with the initial "No's" from publishers, and then with difficult decisions, conflict among colleagues and the stresses of father time. 

Then, the birth.  The birth made it all worth it.  My beautiful, sweet, (am I bragging?) charming story, anxiously arriving at my door and ready to share with the world.  This was an enthusiastic me when my book shipment arrived:




Then...more hard times.  I have to work my tail off to get my book into stores!  Most all new authors do; I mean, come on- didn't John Grisham start out by selling books out of his trunk?  So, yeah- it's a lot of work- a huge amount of time building a following on my blog, or getting gigs to read my story and do book signings.  It's thrilling and I'm blessed to be able to work for pennies in hopes that one day I'll be working for dollar bills!!  And beyond that, just the passion to share my book with eager children who truly do fall in love with my little bear, Bearful!  He's so cute, I agree! 

Which leads me to the point of this post.  I just got my FIRST piece of fan mail!  A sweet little girl, Madelyn, read my book in her phonology class in Madison, WI!  I have never met this little angel, but I sure hope I can come and read to her class sometime soon.  I picture her sitting with her feet tapping, a little wiggly and having trouble sitting still- and then here comes a book that gets her moving JUST the way she WANTS to be!  Here is what she sent me:



Along with this letter from her teachers:
Dear Anna,
Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful book..."Bearful Bear and his new Moves" with our class.  The colorful illustrations captured the children's attention immediately.  The sound play, rhyme and "movement" storyline maintained their interest until the very last page!  The picture is drawn by Madelyn, and depicts her sitting on the rug listening to "Bearful Bear."
With many thanks,
Becky and Lisa and Muir School Phonology Class

SWOON!  How sweet is that?  The labor pains of book writing- the thick and thin, month after month process of creativity, devotion and effort all culminate to not only someone reading your book- but loving your book.  What more could I possibly ask for?  It provides more than a paycheck, more than an adult telling me it's a great story.  The fact is, a 3 year old with no knowledge of me digs my bear.  SWEET!

Love,
Anna

Book Stores Carrying Bearful Bear and his new Moves

Hello Fancy followers and lovers of Bearful!

I thought I would update you on the stores carrying our sweet little book! 


Bookstores and Retail Spaces:
Suwanee Academy of the Arts, Suwanee, GA
Hall Book Exchange, Gainesville, GA
coming soon!  The Prairie Bookshop on Main- Mt. Horeb, WI
coming soon!  Humpus Bumpus Bookstore- Cumming, GA
coming soon!  Wild Birds Unlimited, Madison, WI

Online Sources:
www.barnesandnoble.com- kindle fire, nook, hardcover, etc.
www.amazon.com
www.shop.boutiqueofqualitybooks.com
www.booksamillion.com

BQB Publishing, my publisher, just signed with New Leaf and Bearful will very soon be distributed to all the "biggies" and stores nationwide- hip hip!

As always, I am so appreciative for all of you for your support of my book, and my "Thoughts for Today" blog!  If you think of it, take your copy of Bearful to your favorite bookstore and recommend it to the owner or manager. Many times, they'll start stocking a few copies!! 

Love,
Anna

Friday, March 9, 2012

What Would YOU Like to Read About?

I am pretty elated to have been asked to blog for Cumming Local and Cumming Patch! 


Cumming Patch
www.cummingpatch.com




Cumming Local http://www.cumminglocal.com/

How rewarding it is to become recognized by my community and invited to share with them!  I've given it some thought, and where I typically blog about things related to family, such as food, child development, spiritual growth and inspiration to live a full life, I feel like I need some input from my readers.

What topics make you stop and linger on a post? 

What do you want to be reading about in the interwebs? 

What time of day do you typically glance at social sites like a Patch or online source? 

I'm not stuck by any means, but definitely want to ponder on topics and think things through before I start posting on public forums where people might not be so...er...friendly as you fine people!  The stats on my blogger really aid in speaking for you, as I know what my most popular posts are, but it's true that hearing from you the topics that would interest the community would help me!  So....send me some shout outs, tweets, holler, roar: you get it.  I would be most appreciative!

Thanks to my faithful readers, and newbies alike!
Love,
Anna

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Suwanee Academy of the Arts Book Signing!

Today's book reading and signing at Suwanee Academy of the Arts surpassed my expectations in size (standing room only!) and enthusiasm for Bearful Bear and His New Moves!  The children were adorable repeating all of the vocal play words, moving around like all of the animals, and of course, having a little scarf play.  I mean, we were in the Kindermusik room where scarves are practically mandatory!

Several books were signed and exited with contented children skipping to their cars.  And, to top of MY excitement, SAA bought several copies to have for sale in their Princess Shop!!  A very successful day, sporting my brand new poster, and brand new set of books to share.   Hopefully more pics to share soon!


I will be at Hall Book Exchange in Gainesville on Saturday for another reading...won't you join me??  11am!

Love,
Anna

Friday, March 2, 2012

You've Asked....for a Menu Planner!

A few weeks ago I told you all I was going to rock out a real food grocery budget at $400/month for a family of 4.  It's taken some creativity, especially when prices fluctuate, but I got as close to $100 ($116 to be exact) as I could.  Obviously you'll have some items on hand, and some things you won't...  Also, I have a salmon included here that is more expensive than other cuts of meat, but seafood is important.  You can always eat more chicken or beef to cut this grocery list down a few dollars!   

Week 1 shopping list:
example of the contents in my produce box for a week

2 dozen eggs- $8
1 lb. ground beef- $6
4 lb. chicken- $17
1 lb. salmon- $10
3 gallons milk- $21 ($7/gallon)- 3 quarts cultured into yogurt
Produce Box- $35
      1 head romaine
      2 onions
      1lb. green beans
      2 lbs. potatoes
      1 head garlic
      4 tomatoes
      5 apples
      7 bananas
      4 oranges
      4 pears
      4 tangerines
      1 mango
      2 lemons
      *1 head kale in freezer from previous week
      *1 bag frozen blueberries from a previous week when they were on sale
Peanut Butter- $6
Organic brown rice-= 1 lb. $3
Organic Rolled Oats- 2 lbs. $5
homemade loaf of bread- $2.50
chili beans- 1 lb. bag- $2.50

Meal Plan
Day 1:
Breakfast
1 cup milk (for kids- 2 cups total)
6 eggs, pat of butter

Lunch
1 cup milk (for kids, 2 cups total)
peanut butter and honey sandwiches
3 apples

Snack
yogurt with honey- 4 cups

Dinner
salmon with EVOO or butter, grey sea salt (Or other real salt)
roasted or steamed green beans with butter or EVOO

Day 2:
Breakfast
2 cups milk for kids
baked oatmeal (uses 2 eggs, 4 cups oats (about 1 lb), 1 stick butter, 1 apple, cinnamon, 3/4 cup sucanat, recipe here )
drizzled with homemade yogurt- about 1 cup total used for 4

Lunch
2 cups milk for kids
salads with pear, nuts you may have on hand, homemade dressing (evoo, lemon juice or cider vinegar, mustard, salt, pepper, drizzle of honey)
Kids may also enjoy some yogurt or half a sandwich with this meal

Snack
2 peanut butter banana sandwiches, split

Dinner
roast chicken (recipe here)
use pan juices to make a quick reduction sauce
rice with garlic
leftover green beans from previous night

Day 3:
Breakfast
2 cups milk for kids
leftover baked oatmeal

Lunch
2 cups of milk for kids
yogurt parfaits with 1 banana, 1 cup walnuts, drizzle of honey if needed

Snack
2 oranges, 2 tangerines

Dinner
rice bowl with leftover chicken (diced or chopped) and sauteed kale

Day 4:
Breakfast
2 cups milk
yogurt smoothies (2 cups yogurt, mango, 1 banana, 1 fresh squeezed tangerine)

Lunch
peanut butter and honey sandwiches
split- 1apple and 1 tangerine, 1 pear

Snack
homemade granola bars- 4 cups oats, 1.5 cups sucanat, dried fruit (from a previous week), any other fixins you have on hand, coconut, nuts, flax seeds, etc.

Dinner
potato soup with 1 onion, garlic, (use chicken stock made from a roasted chicken earlier in the week)
side salad with remaining lettuce and homemade salad dressing

Day 5:
breakfast
2 cups milk
6 eggs
share 2 oranges, cut into wedges

Lunch
yogurt smoothie with frozen blueberries

Snack
spoonful of peanut butter (who doesn't do this?)

Dinner
leftover potato soup, end of bread if you have any left

Day 6:
Breakfast
2 cups milk
granola bars

Lunch
2 cups milk
Yogurt Parfaits with blueberries

snack- 2 peanut butter banana sandwiches

Dinner
chili- 1 lb. ground beef, 4 tomatoes, blanched and peeled, garlic, 1 onion, red and northern beans, soaked for 24 hours


Day 7:
Breakfast
2 cups of milk
6 eggs

Lunch
2 cups milk
yogurt with honey

Snack
granola bars

Dinner
leftover chili

So there it is!  Yes, this CAN be done!  Now, you'll have a few eggs and peanut butter left, but besides that, you will be ready for the next weeks groceries, and absolutely NOTHING went to waste!  Can you imagine living in a world where everything in your fridge was fresh, pastured, organic, and mostly local, and on top of that, NOTHING was wasted?  Nothing was a filler that robbed your pocketbook and your belly?  Think of how much more we could donate (and fresh, healthy food at that) if we weren't wasting money on food that will also go to waste?

I have made a realization that if I have junk food on hand, I'll eat it and my fruit will go to waste.  If my kids know there are goldfish in the pantry, do you think they will be satisfied if I say, "Let's have a banana sandwich for a snack?"  NO!  They will whine endlessly for the goldfish!  So my motto is, only buy what you want your family to be eating!  If it's not there, they may notice for a day or two, but all of the sudden, the orange will look beautiful and amazing, and you and your kids will want to eat it.  Keep your pantry and fridge real, baby!

How does this look to you?  Scary?  Surprisingly doable?  I am excited to hear what you think!

Have a happy and healthy weekend!
Anna