A few days ago - let's call it Tuesday - I woke up with a plan. I was going to Betty Crocker my way around the kitchen and rock my family's world. I had come across a very intriguing recipe via Pinterest and decided that this was going to be breakfast. Mr. Incredible wasn't up yet, but Pirate was. So I sat her in front of Super Why! and got started. 

What comes next is the true story of how I made Swirly Cupcakes (also known on Tuesday as Breakfast Cupcakes). These Swirly Cupcakes are no plain-Jane baked good; these contain what all [my] dreams are made of: sugar, butter and vibrant color! The Pinterest link was a dud, but it had a great picture and the description was good enough that I was able to improvise.

My good friend Google supplied me with a recipe for Plain Vanilla Cupcakes. So I followed the directions and tried to fight the temptation to taste the batter.

I lined my cupcake tray with these shiny metallic liners that Mr. Incredible brought home a little while back. 

I filled the liners with the yummy cupcake batter. I actually overfilled them, my recipe was actually meant to yield 18 cupcakes, but my pan could hold 12. It didn't hurt them any!

This is where it gets fun.
I put a dab of food coloring in each cupcake and swirled it around with a knife until it was... well... swirly!

Seriously... how cool does that look?!

Finally, I baked it. My instructions told me to put them in for 15-18 minutes, but Google hasn't met my oven. She cooks a little fast.
About 12 minutes later, I had these.
It was time to wake the husband and grab the pirate.  

ME:  Mr. Incredible, do you want to get up?  Are you hungry?

MR. INCREDIBLE:  What did you make?

ME:  I made Breakfast Cupcakes.

MR. INCREDIBLE:  .......what?

ME: Breakfast Cupcakes!

MR. INCREDIBLE: um.... what's in them?

ME:  Flour ... Sugar ... an Egg ... Milk ... Baking Powder ... Salt ... Butter ..

MR. INCREDIBLE:  What makes them Breakfast Cupcakes?

ME: Because we're eating them for breakfast. :)

I'd love to add that as a family we regularly eat healthy and nutritious meals.
This was a treat that generated smiles and happiness. 
And that's OK. 
I'd also love to add that there were none left by dinner!

Love Times Three:
Our True Story of A Polygamous Marriage
by: Joe, Alina, Vicki, and Valerie Darger
Love Times Three is a true story without an ending. Written by polygamists themselves, the reader is given a glimpse into "plural marriage" as lived out inside and outside of the Darger house.

I picked this book up at the library a few weeks ago. I really wasn't sure what to expect; I will say that while I do not share their beliefs that didn't stop me from being fascinated by their story and family dynamic. 

Their book really gives a unique perspective to what I imagine is one of America's least advertised lifestyles. It starts in the beginning with their own childhoods and growing up in polygamist culture of Fundamental Mormonism; it continues with their ever growing family, their joys and their burdens, and how they live a polygamous lifestyle in modern America. 

Of course, it's a wee bit more complicated. Let me throw in some background information. In Utah, where they live, polygamy is a third degree felony which adds a few more complications to the love trapezoid. If you shared my curiosity and wondered, how are they able to write a book - putting their lifestyle into print - and not be imprisoned? Fortunately for them, the state is currently looking the other way as long as those in the polygamous relationship are all consenting adults, and no other crimes are being committed. (Utah & Polygamy)

I believe that their goal in writing Love Times Three is not to proselytize their faith, or to flaunt their forbidden lifestyle. I stated in the beginning that I don't share their beliefs, that hasn't changed.  I do think that their main goal in leaving the shadows is to change the everyday perception and stigma that polygamy is linked to. It is written well and a very addictive read; I laughed, I gasped, I even had to pick my jaw up off the ground once or twice -- but by the end I would say it was worth stepping out of my own comfort bubble to learn about someone else.  

(Love times Three pg. 226)

1 husband
3 wives
24 children (23 living)
11 boys
13 girls

5 stepchildren, Joe
7 children, Alina
8 children, Vicki
9 children, Val
19 biological children (18 living), Joe

3  Twenty-somthings
9  Teenagers
8  between 5-12 years old
1 Preschooler
2  Toddlers

$500-700 Weekly Grocery Bill
36 rolls of toilet paper used weekly
10 family cars
10 loads of laundry daily
10 cell phones
6 laptop computers
5 desktop computers
3-5 loaves homemade bread consumed daily
5 kids in diapers at one time
5 bathrooms
4 TV's
2 gallons of milk consumed daily

Parenting:  someone should really write a book about it!
I'm going to sound cliche for a moment, forgive me. I've learned more things in the last 22 months than I have in my entire life. I'm not talking about quantity of new facts - though I could probably make a decent argument for that as well - but I mean real, hearty, and significant details that are necessary for daily life. It's amazing the extra compartment that God has given my mind to store all the random Pirate-related items.

1. Don't leave the coffee cup unattended or within Pirate's reach. Also, Pirate's reach is ALWAYS much higher than you think it is.

2. Messes are easier to clean up than hurt feelings. Even when it's flour. 

3. Other people will have opinions and they will outnumber you. At times, it will be overwhelming and frustrating. I've learned the hard way that I should handle their well-intentioned concerns and opinions with more grace and tact then oozing wrath and adrenaline.   

 4. Sometimes you have to just cry it out. Things will get better.

5. Equal rights for all persons. Even bears. 

 6. "Welcome to parenthood, children will scare the crap out of you" - my mom. I think that's a mostly accurate quote, I did just have a c-section. I don't know if you can tell, but Pirate is a fearless froggie at the top of the stairs.

7. IF YOU WAKE HER, YOU WILL NOT PASS GO OR COLLECT $200. Yes, that's her big-girl car seat strapped into a high chair.

8. The park is not called a park. It's called "WEEEEEEEEE!!!"

9. I'm not Pirate's favorite parent if Daddy's home, and I can't take that personally. It's really a beautiful thing.

10. Let her help! It makes her feel special and big. She loves it.

11. Give her big smooches, it helps prepare her for the embarrassing teenage years when I give her hugs and kisses in front of her friends!

12. Sinful nature is not a myth. I have little teeth marks in my arm to prove it.

13. Don't fall asleep on the couch when she has crayons and a blank wall.

14. I have to stick up for Pirate - sometimes I'll come off as crazy and overprotective. Even people who love her immensely won't necessarily see things the same way that I do, and that's OK. But I have to be ready, should the situation arise, to give my daughter what she needs - whether that's a nap, some quiet time away from the chaos, or something completely different.

15. She grows WAY TOO QUICKLY! She'll be two in October. That's craziness.

I was talking to a friend of mine who is going through a difficult time, and I had to fight the urge to recite the cliche and practically useless advice we're often given:
 "When life hands you lemons, make lemonade!"

Is that suggesting that when life gets rough, we need something to drink? (lol). I don't know about you, but as much as I love lemons, I would much prefer drinking something else. Which leaves the question, what should we do with the lemons? 
  1. Revitalize your wooden cutting board. I watched a lady do this on youtube. To get rid of the smell and help sanitize the cutting board, cut a lemon in half and rub it all over the board. That is certainly a whole lot child-safe then using mass amounts of bleach like I've been doing. 
  2. Deodorize your garbage disposal. If you've been blessed with a garbage disposal, you can use lemons to help with the stink. Save leftover lemons and toss them down the drain. Can I say it? Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
  3. Whiten your clothes. I use lemon juice on my daughter's cloth diapers. Every so often, her diapers will have stains or just look sad. I put lemon juice in a spray bottle, give the inside of her diapers a good misting and hang them out in the sun. No bleach, no chemicals. From what I've read, you could also wash your clothes (I'm guessing just the whites) in your washer as normal, and during the rinse cycle, pour in about a cup of lemon juice. Then hang in the sun to dry.
  4. Make Hairspray. I found this Hairspray Tutorial online, I haven't tried it yet; but when I do I'll blog about it. With a little boiling water, some lemons, and a spray bottle; you could be well on your way to having some eco-friendly and inexpensive hairspray.
  5. Drink Homemade Strawberry Lemonade. And if you must make lemonade, why not make it special? I found this recipe here. It looks fabulous! Sugar, water, lemons, and strawberries!  

I couldn't upload a heartbreaking picture without adding a picture of her being happy again. I'm coming to realize that lemons, like several of life's challenges, only last for a season. 

I was introduced to a very free, very easy, very awesome online photo editor when Pirate was still a tiny thing!
I just wanted to share it with you. 
Let me present Be Funky!

Our little Pirate makes us laugh! As we watch her grow and react to the the world around her, from her point of view and understanding, we are constantly amazed.
Pirate takes delight in caring for her stuffed animals and dolls (we call them all her "babies"). She will hold them, love on them, give them kisses and make them "go night night". From sharing her diapers to sharing her food with them, this little girl loves her babies. Part of her morning routine, before I will pick her up over the baby gate at the entrance to her room, she has to go get her sippy cup of water from the night before. Countless are the times she has come back carrying her bottle and an armful of babies. If she can get me to hold some for her, she generally goes back for more. 
No baby gets left behind!

What makes me think of my little girl with her babies? I'm glad you asked! I walked into the bathroom tonight and this is what I found: 

How sweet and precious of this little child to take her little bear to go potty! I just had to share this with you.

It's been HOT!
Water the plants.
Water the toddler!
I couldn't capture her smiles in time, but she loved it!

What better way to know what we're eating then to grow it ourselves! My husband is the diligent gardener and I, his helper, am the diligent water girl. 

Let me start by sharing this verse that I found during this gardening experience. One day, if God is so gracious to allow it, when we have our own house with a large garden I'd like this on a nice wooden sign. (I've got big dreams!)

"So neither the one who plants 
nor the one who waters is anything,
but only God, who makes things grow."
 (1 Corinthians 3:7)

When my Mr. Incredible started putting our garden together this year, I was skeptical.  We moved into an apartment in December and I didn't see how we were going to be able to grow much of anything when we didn't have any ground to plant it in. I was worried that we were going to take up too much space. I didn't know what the neighbors were going to think of the fish fertilizer's lasting aroma. I worried about the water bill. And the list went on and on, if there was a reason I could come up with to be "cautious" about our gardening, I thought of it. Don't get me wrong, I loved the idea of growing our own stuff - but what little experience I had with gardening was years ago, and definitely during a time when I didn't care where my food came from. All in all, I feared that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth. But Mr. Incredible was confident and excited. Then he told me that this was something that he felt he was supposed to do, so how could I be a hindrance to that?

Mr. Incredible started the majority of our plants off as seeds; diligently growing them in his little greenhouse before it even got warm out. He had a handy dandy little Soil Blocker that he picked up online at Johnny Selected Seeds. He made these rectangle clumps of dirt and carefully put the seeds in each one. Add water + sunshine + love, and before we knew it they were sprouting and growing. 

That's when the man started using up all the spare room on my porch! ) He would bring home flower pots and gardening things almost every week. I was still iffy and self-conscious  about the garden, but I knew how strongly he felt about it. Soon he had the our whole side of the sidewalk filled with plants. We had peppers, zucchinni, squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppermint, strawberries, potatoes, and flowers. I'm sure I'm missing stuff, but he did an amazing job! And I soon realized that I, too, was sold on our garden!

We're still picking some of our tomatoes and the potatoes will get dug up soon. The plants never bothered the neighbors; even the pizza guy who asked my neighbor if, by chance, our tomato plant was actually marijuana didn't seem to mind it being there. Imagine that! We even shared some of our vegetables and got to know the neighbors a bit more. 

I looked at our plants today, and I'll be sad to see my sidewalk cleared for the winter. Not all of our plants made it through, we had a few casualties due to bugs and worms. But we had quite a little harvest. There's something so satisfying about know that we grew what is on our plates! Oh my goodness, Mr. Incredible made some cream cheese stuffed peppers wrapped in bacon the other day, it was LEGENDARY! ;) Mr. Incredible is already planning our garden over the winter and next year, and I look forward to it wholeheartedly. 

Anyone who has known me for any length of time more than likely knows of my great love for the crispy, salty, delicious piece of pig! There's just something so right about the sizzling unkosher delight. 

I've heard it called the "gateway meat" for vegetarians. I was raised Seventh-Day Adventist; and until I was 15 I was sheltered from things like bacon, lobster, shrimp, sausage -- the list goes on. So when I had my first taste of the Three Little Pigs, I was hooked!

Where did that come from? Mr. Incredible and I have been talking about our eating habits lately and what changes we'd like to make. I found a very good menu planning site for busy families: Once A Month Mom. This site provides menus for anywhere from a week to an entire month, you can make it all in advance and freeze it, and pop it in the oven as needed. Saves time, money and you know you have meals already - for us, cutting the temptation to pack up and drive to McDonald's!

They have at least six specific menus to fit varying families' needs! I'm very excited. We actually talked about some Vegetarian/Vegan meals, they certainly look good! We said that we could actually see ourselves going that route if it wasn't for bacon! Anyway we'll see how it goes. :)

One very cool thing I found on YouTube, for Vegetarians who are itching for the yummy sizzling goodness of bacon, is this: Shiitake Mushroom Bacon! Enjoy!!!

My daughter is such a cute piece of art!

Grandpa George Kulick

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