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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Thrift Store Goodwill Shopping for Baby

Is it even possible to have this much fun with a baby??? Oh my goodness, to have a little girl is so amazing. Let’s face it, half the fun of having a baby is the cuteness factor and this girl has it!

$2.99 Janie and Jack dress from Goodwill. New, this would be around $50.

Thrift store shopping has been a huge part of our family culture. We literally do it as a family activity. I figure if I were to take my kids to the movie theater or out to dinner, we’d spend as much, so I see this activity as frugal and fun. I don’t shop at the mall, I’ve never purchased anything at Nordstrom or Macy’s. Sometimes I shop at Ross or TJ MAXX, but I’ve got to tell you, for selection and price hands down Goodwill is my favorite place to shop.

It doesn’t matter your income level, if you’re just making ends meet or have some money to spare, I feel good about thrifting because of its impact on the environment. I grew up with 8 siblings and my parents promoted sharing, passing down and reusing things that we had. I also like the idea of giving to a cause that helps those in need. So many people need a hand up and if my shopping goes for something good, I say “Let there be shopping.”

Another $2.99 Janie and Jack dress from Goodwill

I absolutely love the selection. At Goodwill, I’ve been introduced to brands and clothing lines I’ve never heard of. It’s fun to look up what an item would have cost if I purchased it brand new.

New with tag $2.00 outfit found at Goodwill in California

The Phoenix valley has amazing thrift stores. I’ve thrifted in California and their prices seem a little high to me, but I would still rather thrift then not. While thrifting out of state, sometimes I score on a great local find or spot a trend that isn’t in Arizona. I find my kids keepsakes, souvenirs and presents at Goodwill.

How much would this Minnie Mouse outfit cost at Disneyland? $1.00 at Goodwill.

So, with all I’m finding for Ruby, I thought I’d share some of my tips while thrift shopping for a baby.

1)     Use a coupon - In Arizona, Goodwill has a 20% off coupon. You receive this coupon if you are on their email list and can use the coupon as many times as you’d like.
2)     Shop deal days - Every Thursday, Goodwill has their famous $1.00 day. Certain color tags are only $1.00. Every other Saturday is their 50% off sale. Most baby clothes range from $1-$3, so I can pay .50cents to $1.50. This really adds up to huge savings.


3)     Seasonal Items Sell Fast – I’ve learned seasonal items move fast, so when the weather turns cold, it might not be the best time to find cute sweaters or boots. In summer, sun dresses and tank tops might be in short supply. Most the time, if you stick with it, you’ll find what you need, but for tons of selection, shop seasons a little bit early.

Love the .99 cent scarf  as a back drop!

4)     Shop A Size Up – Ruby will be one in September(can you believe it!!), but if I see something darling in a larger size, I’m all over it. I don’t mind holding on to an item for a year or so until it fits her. I keep a box in my closet for these cute, can’t-pass-up finds.
$2.99 Tommy Hilfiger denim dress? Yes, please!

5)     Baby Clothes Get Dirty So Don’t Sweat It – Ruby is a spitter-upper, so a lot of her clothes have a “wear once” policy. I do my best to keep up with stain-blocking fabric cleaner, but much of the times baby clothes get beyond dirty. Spit up, baby blow outs, bottle spills, messy eaters, crawling, I mean, it’s not worth sweating over stained clothes. And why would I spend good money on something that most likely will be “one and done!”
I love this India onesie, but this Goodwill .99 find was a "one and done" outfit.

6)     Donate Back – For the clothes that clean up and are in good shape, I can donate back to nieces, nephews or friends in need.
Ruby in a little Old Navy Hawaiian dress I found on dollar day! Love it!
7)     Clothing Companies Donate Too – Sometimes, I see stock from clothing companies (lately it’s been Target and Zara) and they make donations to Goodwill. I can buy these new trending clothes at bargain prices. Love it!!
I love when I find boutique items, this $1.49 Natalys little dress is from Paris. It's in perfect condition (for now)!

8)     Baby Gifts – With such a huge selection, I can find New with Tags baby clothes all the time. These might free up some money to throw in a box of diapers too.
9)     Open My Mind – Shopping is fun, but spending too much money is not, so thrifting allows me to really think about what I like. In reality, while thrifting I can purchase most things I find, so I don’t have to worry about buying the cheapest item or fitting in a budget, it’s like finding everything on the clearance rack!!
Just for Fun!!

10) Easy Shopping – It’s not easy taking a large family shopping at the mall, heck, even shopping at Target is stressful because my kids get a case of the gimmes, but at Goodwill there is something for everyone. True, every purchase adds up, but my kids might find a toy, a trinket, a baseball bat, a tricycle and it’s all-round a good experience (and a good deal). We find games, puzzles, books, toys, crafts and more. In other words, while shopping for baby I can say “Yes” to most things my kids find because it fits in our budget. 
These little $2.99 Gap jeans have stars on them - true love!

Goodwill allows returns up to 1 week of purchase, so I can try things on and test them out without regret. In Ruby’s little photo shot, I used vintage fabrics (anywhere from $2-$4)as the back drop. Thrift store shopping says “Yes” to so many fun ideas and opportunities. I just love it. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions in the comments below and feel free to share this post to new moms.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Exercise While Intermittent Fasting


In the intermittent fasting community, exercising while fasting can help turn up your weight loss. If it’s been 12 hours since you last ate something, your body is starting to switch over from burning food as fuel to fat as fuel. If an intermittent fast is 16 hours, you have 4 hours of fat-burning time. If you start your fast at 8pm, half of your fast happens while you’re sleeping. 
Isn't that awesome!
Intermittent fasting takes exercise up to a whole new level!


Because I’m practically Old Mother Hubbard over here, my exercise schedule has been all over the place. Since having Ruby, I’ve been going to the gym from 9:00pm to 10:00pm most nights. True, I quickly jumped back into working out partly to get away from a very busy nighttime schedule over here and unfortunately, by the time I got back from the gym very little has been done to get the kids to bed, so I knew this wasn’t a permanent fix, but I’ve been working out after eating dinner and it hasn’t been the best. Trust me, I appreciate anything I can get at this point, but comparing that to exercise while fasting, dang, I don’t  ever want to go back to exercise after eating a meal! But, during the school year, school starts so early for my elementary kids that a morning workout is going to need to start around 6am!! I’m trying to get myself prepared!


For now, it’s summer, so I have teenagers who are here if the baby wakes up while I’m out and morning workouts have been starting around 8:00am. I'm 12 hours into my fast, so I should be burning fat by this time.


Still a little bit of shade!

Exercise while fasting has been awesome, hands down the best thing every, truly is helping me change up my weight loss journey. I have a ways to go, but feel so encouraged.!!

 Day date with my honey!

I start my morning with a cup of cold herbal tea and use stevia to sweeten it. I make this berry tea at night, put it in my fridge and by morning, it's so full of flavor, my kids think it's juice. I love this tea so much, I'm working with the manufactor from India to sell it on my store My 100 Daughters.  I found the container at TJ Maxx.

When I leave out the door I wear a hat, I have my 2-pound hand weights, my trusty full-out-nerd fanny pack synced up tight and it’s holding my bottle of water with ice, head phones and my phone set on a motivational/podcast/ebook/course. I like to chew spearmint gum, keeps my mouth from getting dry.


I’m gone for about an hour, usually a bit longer because I’m having such a great time. When I come home, I drink another cup of herbal tea and fast until noon. It’s so rewarding. Let me know what you think about exercise and fasting? Do you like it?

More research? Check out this article. And this one too.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

There's Something To This, Isn't There?


We’re surrounded by constant miracles. This push and pull of contrast has highs and lows, but ultimately, it’s the purpose of life. Some good days, some bad, some amazing, while others devastating; do we have any control?

I believe we are all promised divine interaction because we all possess faith, purpose and intention. What do we want? What do we believe? Are we ready for the delight of constant surprises? Can we hold on when things get tough? Ultimately, God takes over and wow, it’s just a beautiful collective orchestra we call life.

I listen to Abraham Hicks. One thing she says is when life is overwhelming, when you forget to stay happy, when the negative momentum gets too strong, just stop and think “Help is on the way.”  

If all we are really in control of is our thoughts, how important is it to think positive? To think things will work out? That we are alright? That help is one the way?

Some things I learn don’t stick, but this concept of “help on the way” has really made a difference in the highs and lows of my life. Just today, Canyon had a mini-seizure (not exactly sure what it is for now) threw up his medicine and once he settled down, I cuddled him for an hour. The love I have for that boy I could lather on like butter on a warm roll, but oh, I cry some big tears with everything going on with him. When Ruby woke up with, let’s just say, an array of smelly brown substance was in her crib and on her little bottom.  She wiggled through a bath and I was able to change her sheets. I had to change out of my clothes into something new. How did I get through both “whirlwinds?” I knew help, or at least something like help, was on its way. I do feel there are guardian angels. I don’t feel alone. I might feel frustrated, but I can always see how I’m blessed. Maybe the “help” is understanding that when things are difficult, they will eventually get better, even if the “better” is feeling God’s love in my heart.

I just finished reading the book Educated. Who out there has read it? 


That was a tough one for me to get through and it took me two months. I never have time to read, so I was literally hiding out in my room just to finish up the next page. Surprisingly, my brother Tadd was handed the book three days before I finished it. Guess what. He read it in three days. He called me last week and we had about an hour mini book club phone session. The conversation was as uplifting as it was draining. I had a lot of emotions to work through. Ideas about family, religion, education, feminism, loyalty – I mean this story doesn’t leave anything out. 

Tara Westover speaking.

I could tell Tadd was a little bit worried about me and although I convinced him I was fine, he wasn’t so sure. His brotherly love always is there, it’s also a part of the “help that’s on the way.” When you know someone loves you at that level, it’s like falling from the sky only to land on a soft fluffy cloud.

Derek worked a long week and on our Saturday date I thought I would talk to him about the book Educated. He should know some of my thoughts and ideas. 

Day night! 

The conversation would be enlightening and I’d love to hear some of his thoughts too. Funny thing about that was as soon as I opened my mouth, I was hit with this fatigue. I can’t explain it, but it was like the whole experience of living in Tara Westover’s world had been so exhausting, so worrisome, even traumatic, that I just couldn’t even start the conversation.

“You’re tired, aren’t you,” Derek said. Yes, I was. I was tired.

“Tadd read it,” I said and as soon as I said the name “Tadd” someone from behind me covered my eyes. I felt a soft kiss on my cheek. I turned and as soon as I could see again Tadd was standing right in front of me. Coincidence that at that very moment, my brother who I never randomly run into, had stepped into that restaurant, saw me, walked over to me without me seeing him and lovingly planted a kiss on my cheek just as I said his name? Also coincidence, I had told Derek just a few nights earlier “We should really start going on double dates. There are so many people I want to get to know more.” Tadd was there with his wife Heather and a double date just unfolded before us. Tadd was able to start the conversation about Educated and I was granted this gift of momentum, where Tadd could share his thoughts and I could chime in if I wanted to. He carried the energy for me, reassuring me he understood. Wow, it was just wow!
At Tadd's house a few years ago.

There’s something to this, isn’t there? There has to be. What would you call it? “Help on its way?” A miracle? Law of attraction? Power of positive thinking” It’s just the most amazing thing. I know it’s happening in your life too. Are you paying attention? Do you consider it a coincidence? Would you call something like this spiritual? I’ve set a goal to start writing these things down because they make life so beautiful.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

The Universe Has Your Back



I’m passionate about many things – great hair, the perfect oatmeal cookie recipe and understanding this whole power of positive thinking thing. Throughout my life, I’ve understood on some level that our thoughts predicate our actions and we become what we think, but not until I started intermittent fasting three years ago did I realize the law of attraction/the power of now/eternal optimism,etc. was an actual study (it comes in a variety of different names too). What I mean by study is there is a world of truth to learn taught by many different authors who each have a list of daily practices/thoughts/habits to apply. The learning never stops and from what I can tell, I don’t want it to because then, the excitement would end. From what I understand, no one can ever master this intentional mind set because every day we are curious and a new experience blows our mind – yet again.


I forgot to buy the almond milk. Yes, with all this life-changing power to become heroes and build worlds over here I forget to bring home our beloved almond milk. My son Chandler was the first to notice this devastating reality. He worked early the next day and would need it for breakfast, so he offered to run to the store. Before he left, I told him to take a $20 bill from my wallet. He stuffed the money in his pocket, ran out the door and 15 minutes later he was back with four quarts of almond milk and a very sour face.

“What’s wrong,” I asked.

Chandler set the milk on the counter and started taking it out of the bag. “I went to pay for the milk, reached into my pocket and the $20 bill must have fallen out. It wasn’t there,” he said. He’d apologized to the cashier and ran out to his car to get his wallet he’d left in the console.

“I paid for the milk with my own money,” Chandler said. “It’s ok, you don’t have to pay me back. I’m the one that lost the money."

This didn’t settle with me well. Since Chandler had come home from his mission, he’d scrapped for work here and there, mowing lawns, washing windows and trimming trees. He’d applied for dozens of jobs and was getting married in a month. 

To me and obviously to Chandler, this was about more then $20. Did God have his back? Would God provide? Chandler already knew the answer was a resounding yes, but I said a pray that God would manifest at this very moment in this very situation. I just knew God would take care of it.

How? That’s the fun part.

Chandler with Payson a few weeks ago.

“I checked in the car, on the ground where I parked the car, in the store,” Chandler said as we talked about it. He was discouraged. This had let him down.

I told Chandler a story I would never forget. When my sister Krista was 19, she’s left $100 in her car parked in my parent’s driveway. The next morning, as she was leaving for work, she couldn’t find the money and was certain someone had stolen it.

My dad came outside and spent a few minutes with her looking in the console, underneath the seat and on the ground. Krista was in tears. She was barely making ends meet.

“You know,” my dad kindly said, “these things happened and I can’t help but wonder whoever has it probably needs it more then you.”

He reached into his pocket, opened his own wallet and took out $100. “Here, you take this and don’t worry about your money anymore.”

Wow! Krista’s face lit up. What a gift. To know we can lose but still be ok, that’s pretty cool.
Chandler, I want you to take another $20 bill out of my wallet. It’s alright. Keep it.” I said.
“No mom, you don’t have to do that,” Chandler said when his phone rang.

It was his brother Mayer asking for a ride. He was at a friend’s house only a few minute away. Chandler grabbed his keys when I had an idea.

“Why don’t you call the store and see if anyone turned in a $20 bill.”

I heard Chandler make the call. “Really,” he said. “Ok, thanks. I’ll be right there.”

Aren't they adorable together!

The manager had found the $20 bill in an aisle. Wow! How wonderful is that.
How often do we think a bad situation won’t get better? How often do we have miracles that go unnoticed? I don’t want to forget a single one! This is small, but it’s huge. The universe has got our back. God doesn’t miss a single thing.
Chandler with Eden.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Miracles with Chandler and Canyon



Last week, I received some news from some of Canyon’s blood work that gave me relief. He passed the last round of tests. His doctor is slowly checking off a list – testing for worst case scenario diseases and conditions first. I called Derek and we cried. How does Canyon keep defying the odds? We are every so thankful. However, the doctor called on Monday and told us the possibilities of what Canyon has are still “a mile long.” The “diagnostic journey” is ongoing. I’m playing it on both ends of the spectrum right now – fully aware I could wake up any morning and find Canyon in a seizure (or worse) and also living in denial that he’s perfectly fine. I naively asked the doctor, if there was any chance that Canyon’s symptoms could just be a rare case of epilepsy? “No,” he said. “Not with his symptoms.” Oh, did that hurt. I only wish it was epilepsy.



We’d have been waiting for weeks for the results from Canyon’s blood work.  The last week in May, they took 9 vials of his blood. As I scheduled the appointment, I didn’t know how I was going to do it? It’s so difficult watching my son go through this. He’s so innocent. He has no idea. I wondered how could I keep him calm? How much more poking and prying are they going to do until we finally know what’s happening?


In November 2018, we were told what Canyon has could be progressing, that his condition could be life-threatening, that he could have 1-2 years before his supposed white matter illness dissolves in his brain and we watch him slowly lose all his functions. We researched the condition and learned about the absolute horror of adrenoleukodystrophy. He would go blind, lose his hearing, lose his ability to talk, to walk, to eat, to swallow and then, he would die. This unspeakable torture was a mind game of grief for our family and everything seemed to point to this reality. 


Canyon had every symptom – the abnormal MRI with white matter lesions/abnormalities already in place, fatty acids in his blood (a sign that his dissolved white matter was already present in his blood), wandering eyes, his mouth had a droop, his speech a lisp, through a reflex test one doctor noticed a limp, he had seizures and then there was this. Adrenoleukodystrophy was most common in boys, starting around the age of 4. Canyon was 3 ½, just on the cusps. We just couldn’t catch a break and we lived in this terrifying reality for four months. There were mind games – every time he fell, every innocent mistake, every time he cried was a sign he was dying before my eyes. The mind is amazing – tell it something is true and it will look for evidence to support it.  

Canyon is the center of our world. My kids were 
singing his favorite song "The Wheels on the Bus."

The blood work testing for adrenoleukodytrophy was lost. This was discovered about a month later. This is such a rare test, conducted at a research university back east. It’s expensive. The blood has to be drawn at a certain time, stored a certain way, sent with a certain medical carrier for accuracy. We finally were able to redo the blood work. It would take 3 weeks, then six, then finally 8 weeks to get the results. During this time, we had to learn to let go of the fear so we could live in the joy of our Canyon.

This is where the story of two of my sons collides and the miracle starts.

My oldest son Chandler had been living in the Philippines for 5 months, committed to a two-year church service mission and started having stomach pain. He had no idea the facts regarding Canyon’s health, no idea we are praying, fasting and grieving. As a family, we’d intentionally withheld this information until we know the absolutes. Why worry Chandler when there was nothing he could do about it? In photos, I noticed Chandler’s weight-loss, gaunt face, bloated stomach and asked enough questions to finally understand what he was going through. A month later, Chandler was in Filipino hospital having an endoscopy and it was confirmed he had a bacteria called h.pylori. He started on antibiotics, but Chandler’s symptoms worsened. He could barely eat, had unbearable stomach pain, bloating, hernia, leaky gut, later we learned Celiac disease and amebas. The doctor and mission president confirmed Chandler would need to come home and no one was more devastated then Chandler. Oh, he loved serving in this far-away land, love the language, but deep down he knew he was very sick and needed proper medical care.

 Before Chandler left on his mission, Canyon had a seizure, but they had 
no idea what was going on. Canyon was in the ICU for 5 days and 
once he recovered, they sent us home.

In January, I received an email of Chandler’s upcoming medical release, but things were delayed. Another doctor’s appointment in the Philippines was scheduled and a 2-month round of antibiotics were recommended? His gall bladder was bad and might need to come out? Things were only getting worse and I was very worried. 


Chandler needed a departure visa, but the paperwork was delayed, lost, it was uncertain. How would this experience affect Chandler? Would he recover emotionally and physically? Why was everything taking so long?  Then, reality hit. When Chandler returned home we would have to sit him down, tell him about Canyon, that we might lose our little boy, that his seizures almost took his life, that he has all these horrible symptoms and on and on. This homecoming would be more of a nightmare. Would Chandler felt like we misguided him? That we were untrustworthy? He also had a new little sister and I knew he was beyond excited to meet her for the first time. The emotions were everywhere. I met with our Stake President and we talked. When I left, he said something that left a huge impression on me. 

“You may never know the blessing your family has received because of Chandler’s missionary service?” 

I pondered that on the way home. It seemed Chandler’s absence had left a gaping whole in our family. We’d been hit with so much opposition. My emergency c-section, Canyon’s illness and to make matters worse, the pipes in our home had been “accidentally cut” by a dishonest plumber, leaving the plumbing in our home, shall we say, inaccessible. Our lives were in chaos. I didn’t even have a place for Chandler to sleep.

Then, this happened. Was it a coincidence?

On March 4, 2018, after waiting 4 months for Canyon’s test results, we received a voice message from the doctor’s office. Despite the odds, it was confirmed that Canyon did not have adrenoleukodystrophy. Our family dropped to our knees in prayer and thanked God for this miracle. I spent the day floating. I held Canyon in my arms and never wanted to let him go. We know we’re not yet out of the woods, but this experience has changed the way I look at my children and our time on earth. Every day is a gift to be cherished.

Chandler with Canyon before he left on his mission.

The next day, March 5, I received an email from the Philippines mission home with Chandler’s departure flight information. He would fly from Manila, to Tokyo, to Seattle, to Phoenix! This schedule made me realize how far away he truly was. Finally! My emotions were all over the place, when I thought “What a strange coincidence.” I felt a flutter in my heart and a stillness seemed to say: “This is not a coincidence.” The timing of it all was miraculous. Chandler would need to know the blessings of his mission service, that we needed the miracle for Canyon first. Chandler returned home that Friday and despite traveling for nearly 24 hours, he stayed up with us talking into the night hours.


Ironically, we weren’t the only ones who’d kept secrets, but Chandler had kept a lot from us too. We hadn’t wanted to worry him and he hadn’t wanted to worry us. I find this very tender, that all alone in a far away land, he’d managed the pain and emotions of his own very scary illness.

In the Philippines, Chandler's friend John took this picture on 
their bus ride home from the hospital. He said Chandler was
in a lot of pain.

Last month, Canyon has had two mild seizures, both of which he was able to come out of on his own with an additional seizure medication we keep here at home for this type of situation. Although frightening to witness, we are so thankful that he responded. All his vitals were checked and since everything looked fine, we were able to monitor him at home. Whatever is going on, both his daily medication and the emergency medication is working. Although the possibilities of what Canyon has are still a mile long, his doctor feels what we find might be treatable. We have an upcoming MRI and spinal tap.



Although still in pain, Chandler’s health has great improved with medical help and nutrition. His celiac disease is gone, as is the h.pylori. We’re still waiting on those darn amebas, but he does not need hernia or gall bladder surgery. He has reunited with his love Sadie and they are engaged to be married August 2.




We know God is with us on this journey and His miracles are abundant.