Silk Soy Lavender Mocha

It may be in the 80s this week, but I’ve got my mind on Fall. So much so that before the day warms up I’ve been sipping cozy beverages. But not just plain ol’ coffee, something much, much better.

Think on this for a minute … SILK SOY. LAVENDER. MOCHA.

Yes, oh yes. I promise you, it might sound odd … lavender in a mocha? But it’s pure heaven. Perfection in a cup, ready to warm you from the inside out. The soymilk has a unique nutty flavor that blended beautifully with lavender and chocolate. It’s just … well, you’ve got to try it to understand. So, add this treat to your fall bucket list. Every mama needs a taste of a soy lavender mocha!lavender mocha 2

Silk Soy Lavender Mocha


  • 3/4 cup Silk soymilk
  • 3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
  • 1 ounce lavender syrup (Monin brand)
  • 2 ounces liquid mocha syrup


I don’t have an espresso machine so this could be considered the poor mama’s mocha. But, I’ve improvised and won for us regular coffee mamas. Cheers! Start off by brewing a cup of strong coffee. I do it on the small cup setting of our Keurig. Simultaneously heat 3/4 cup of Silk soymilk on the stovetop or in the microwave. To your hot coffee add 2 ounces of liquid mocha syrup. Stir well. Then add the lavender. While stirring, gently pour in the soy milk.lavender mochalavender mocha 3

Sip. Smile. Slip into fall.

You’re welcome :)

Learn more about Silk soymilk and other soy products here and pop over to Silk’s Facebook page for coupons, recipes and other fab info.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.



photo— Dom + I kayaked for our anniversary! Fun, scary, and “Wow, look at me, I’m a kayak mama!” —

Needing /// a case of Guava Goddess at my fingertips.
Missing /// my sweet Hannah! Her hubs, my BIL, graduated from Ranger School last week and we couldn’t be more proud … or be missing them more! Good news is I think we’ll be visiting them in Texas in early 2015 when they PCS. Look at me and all the Army lingo I’m learning!?! 
Reading /// this … never even knew this happened :( and this which seems to always be on my reading list/on my reference pile.
Hoping /// I can up my pace for my next 5K. I ran a 12 minute mile and with some training I think I can easily get that now to 11. Then again, I’m considering just continuing my training for a 10K in November … thoughts from those of you who run? Stick with a 5K and boost my pace or go for endurance training?
Playing /// around with the idea of adding biking into my exercise routine. Who’s a biker out there? What trailer would you recommend hauling 70+ pounds of kiddos in?
And some links to share …
  • Still in love with Fabletics and have now discovered FabKids! Once you sign up you get a $10 store credit and that can apply to your first $15 outfit. That means you get your first outfit SHIPPED for less than $5! Sign up here!
  • Love this lady and her new blog space.
  • Starting the Bible study in September and can’t wait – watch the 1 min video, oh yes, do!
  • Starting a vinyl project soon – stay tuned!
  • A must read for all parents, since the media isn’t going to share this info.
  • Standards of Grace – loved!
  • Have you visited my two fab sponsors yet? Both are going to be frequent purchases around here! This guy and this here gem.
  • I’ve been lovin’ denim jackets ever since middle school – you too?
  • Always inspired.
  • Look who had a baby!!!
  • I’m always reading about mattresses and someday I really want us to have a mattress makeover around here. Adding this to the arsenal.
  • We are planning our first getaway (pray for Max! pray for my mama!) and I loved this packing post!

Ok friends, adios! Have a lovely Thursday!

Getting To Know Our Food Source

Jemma is almost 4 and sometimes I fear that she believes her food comes from the refrigerator.

And it does. But a lot leads up to the fridge. Amiright?

So, with our recent beef purchase and preschool appropriate conversation of how it came to be in our freezer, I decided it was high time we began exploring other food sources.

To the blueberry fields we went … photo 1 photo 2And then to the farm where our eggs are laid …   chickensAnd the garden where we are blessed to get free veggies on occasion … photo 2photo 3 a gardenNext I’d like to venture to an orchard for some tree fruit picking and a dairy farm to see those lovely lady milk makers.

Have you had conversations and/or field trips with your littles about their food source? Where have you gone? Has it helped you resolve any picky eater issues? I’m still holding my breath for that!

My First 5K

Back it up to last Thursday and I woke up with a cold :/ Who gets sick two days before their first ever 5K? This girl.

I diffused/applied my essential oils (OnGuard for the win!), guzzled Vitamin C and napped while the dishes didn’t do themselves. That put me nearing wellness by race morning. Phewf. Crisis averted. Quitting out of the question.

I woke up, rallied the troops and carefully selected my race outfit. Appearances are everything when you’re a glistening mess. Amiright? Then I moisturized my face with a lil’ SPF, donned my 3D mascara (still love it!) and braided my lion’s mane. And that’s as 5K as I know how to be. RUN LIKE A DOG 2014-2

Now, the play by play of how this 5K went down.

Arrived at the race site, barely in time. The kids were still in their pajamas because they refused to get dressed.

Fed them applesauce pouches and exchanged my shirt size because I registered for a medium and was swimming in it.

Wrestled Max into his buckle as he yelled “DOG” every 1.4 seconds. There were a bazillion furry creatures at this race because it was in support of a local veterinary hospital – Max was majorly amused. Jem kept telling me how tired she was and how she just needed the stroller to be a cozy bed.

They rallied the racers to get in line. Fast people, then fast people and fast dogs, then dogs, then us normal folk. No mention of first time mother runners with ginormous strollers so I just nestled myself in the middle. 

We started off and I breezed through mile 1. Really up to 1.5 miles I was a cruising’ lady. My only struggles the first half were a dozen dogs hell bent on cutting me off and becoming BOB stroller road kill. Little four-legged friends! I cannot stop the orange beast at a second’s notice. I need at least 2 seconds. So, bark or something … ok? And stay by your master. I am not she. Now, dog runner people. When there are a bazillion people and dogs running in a pack on a small trail I’ve got two words for you. Short leash. Deal?

I took a minute walking break around mile 1.6 because there we merged onto a road there was a darn incline. I suck at running up any sort of incline with the stroller. It morphs into 200 pounds instead of its regular 100 and I just can’t handle. So, walk, breath, walk, breath, crest the hill and mentally prep to jog again.

By this time, I’d found my place in the race – no more tripping on dogs! – and Jem could not longer keep her thoughts to herself. Of course, dogs were on her mind so she started off her conversation like so …

Jemma: Can I get a dog for my four birthday?

Gretchen: Um … huff, huff, … no.

Jemma: I really really want a little cute dog! A fluffy yellow gold one with a tiny nose.

Gretchen: That’s a pomeranian. Definitely NO … huff, huff … maybe Kiki will get a dog someday though. Her’s will be big though … huff, huff … called a lab.

Max: BIG!!! BIG!!!

Jemma: Quiet Max! I’s talking’ to mama! Now, mama, I’s gonna ask Kiki to get some kinda dog for my four birthday. I really love dogs and I PROMISE I will take care of it. With food and water and lots of walks. And protein so it stays healthy.

This conversation happened alongside a few other runners and they thought we were pretty funny. I agree. Jem is my daily hoot.

At mile 2.1 I thought to myself – This is stupid. People who run are just stupid. I wonder if I text Dom if he’ll just come and find me so I can get a salted caramel hemp latte (new obsession). Uh, and I’m soooo sweaty. I hate sweating.

I pushed through thanks to Pink crooning in my ear; girl always comes through for me. And then, on the verge of mile 3 I passed someone. A three legged dog. But whatever. It was someone/some dog!

I rounded the corner towards the finish line and some darling volunteer told me to stop. WHAT?!? Yep, we needed to cross a road and there was a line of cars (not in a race) who needed to take their turn. BAH! How was I supposed to win now???

I kid.

Anyways, I caught my breath while the cars moseyed on by and then sprinted towards the finish line. 


110th place out of 336 runners.

My running app actually said I went 3.2 miles too! And I pushed 37 pound Jemma, 36 pound Max and a 34 pound stroller. I say I’m awesome because running is hard. Running with 107 pounds is extra hard and therefore, extra awesome. I am extra awesome.

I smiled with my medal. Chugged some water and ate a banana. I did it!!! I ran a 5K!

Well, jogged. But that’s neither here nor there. Because I’m extra awesome. I’m a mother runner!

Obsessed with my running posts? :: roll eyes here :: Then, take a peek at my others:
Mother Runner Playlist
Run, Run It Real Good

Oh, and my rad chevron running leggings were c/o Thomas Kelly! Browse their site and stay tuned for a giveaway!

5 Questions To Ask About Vaccinations

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are my alone.


One of those hot topics that bring out all the big feelings from mamas and dads. And rightly so! Vaccinations are a big decision and one not to be taken lightly.5 QUESTIONS TO ASK ABOUTVACCINATIONS

Being a part of the natural parenting community you might be surprised to hear that I don’t consider myself pro-vaccine or anti-vaccine. I truly believe both are viable options depending on the circumstances. And really, there are many, many options that fall between the pro and anti camp. I think that’s why I call myself pro-research when it comes to vaccinations.

As parents we have a huge responsibility to care for our children. We study and read, ask questions and seek out experts on a plethora of topics. In my humble opinion, vaccinations need to be at the forefront of that research. I mean, you and I both read food labels, right? Shouldn’t we be reading the labels and ingredients of our child’s vaccines?

Vaccines are not a single event like birth and it’s not a short season like first foods or transferring a little one to their own bed. The decision about vaccinations comes up again and again from day one through adulthood. Plus, the recommendations are often changing, vaccines are constantly being developed/revised and new studies are always coming out. Pretty much, there is always new information to be evaluating and applying to your family’s individual circumstances.

Being the researcher I am, here are a handful of questions to ask, research and evaluate before proceeding with your vaccination plan …

  1. What is my purpose in vaccinating my children? Where did this opinion come from?
  2. What does the CDC recommend?
  3. What does my pediatrician recommend? Have I gathered scientific information from both “camps”? Many physicians, naturopaths and chiropractors offer classes or Q&As on vaccinations to broaden your knowledge base. I love taking these classes and having the opportunity to learn more and ask questions based on each of my child’s individual health. 
  4. Is my or my child’s situation unique? Is there a reason to specifically follow or stray from the general recommendation?
  5. What are the risks and benefits of each vaccine? Is every vaccine right for us?

Back to school is a common time to address your child’s current vaccination plan and believe it or not, that doesn’t necessarily have to happen at the doctor’s office. Your local Walgreen’s Pharmacy is a great resource when researching and/or getting vaccinations.

This last week I popped in to Walgreens and gathered some vaccine inserts for my personal research. I was able to chat with the pharmacist and even found out that I can request a specific brand/type of vaccine be ordered based on my preference. This was GREAT news because I’ve previously been told by our doctor’s office that they “don’t usually do that” and that “I’m not sure we can” :/ High five Walgreens! photo 1 photo 3vaccine inserts

After evaluating your family’s personal vaccine plan, if you deem a specific vaccine necessary head on over to Walgreens. For every vaccine given they’ll give a vaccine to a child in a developing country through the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life Campaign — Get a Shot. Give a Shot. Great concept, right?

I believe vaccines are a very personal decision which is why I’ve never written about our decision here. Instead, I tend to share articles and studies I read, learn from and appreciate. Everyone’s situation is so different and I’m no expert on your children or circumstance so it most definitely isn’t my place to advise on what is best for you and yours!

Today, regardless of your family’s vaccine schedule, would you mind sharing a link or two to some of your favorite resources in the comments? I’d love to have a whole list to peruse in the coming weeks! 

You can find some of my favorite birth and parenting resources here, there’s a whole vaccination section for your reading pleasure :)

Thank you to Walgreens for sponsoring today’s conversation about vaccinations. It’s an important one! When you think of back to school – think Walgreens! They’re the place to shop for all your back to school supplies and whatever vaccinations you deem appropriate for your school aged child. Don’t miss Walgreen’s deals and the Get a Shot. Give a Shot. #GetaShot #CollectiveBias

The Seven Year Non-Itch

IMG_6225The quintessential anniversary post. This year, honoring seven years with my perfectly imperfect husband. No doubt, he’s the guy for me and each day I’m thankful to call him mine. I mean, just look, he appeases me with grainy selfies on hot summer days while our munchkins wail for us to sing Let It Go for the 14th time. If that isn’t love, what is?

Oh, I’ll show ya … love is photo booths too:COFFEE(1)I think these snapshots will forever be some of my favorites of us. It’s our fun, carefree selves. The ones who dress up and go on dates, drink wine and dance, forgetting that there is a real life that looks nothing like this most days.

Seven years together has brought new meaning to love. Raw, real love that knows much more about tears than smiles. The kind of love that stays because it’s the hard, messy thing to do. The kind of love which knows deep down that hard things are always the best thing because they build strength, endurance and best of all, more love.  We’re in a season of hard things, but we’re choosing to define them as good things in our life story; facing them together, as a unified front. It has made what some normally call the seven year itch, very non-itchy for us. Doing this life alone is not appealing to either of us. Rather, doing it together seems like pure relief. I don’t have to journey life’s mountains alone because I’ve got a protector, a guide and a best friend by my side. So throw them stones, these Bossios ain’t goin’ down.

I think I’ve mentioned before, but our first year of marriage was anything but an extended honeymoon. It had glimpses of happiness, of course, but for the most part I think we both wondered what we had gotten in to. We fought, we slammed doors, we struggled to become one in many, many ways. Dominic and I are both independent, stubborn souls – meshing isn’t in our nature, because, well, I’m right and you’re wrong … obviously ;) Year two eased up on us, year three followed suite and since, every year has gotten increasingly better. Just think how much bliss we’ll be living in when we celebrate 60 years together? So much you’ll gag at our lovey dovey-ness, I’m sure.

Seven years in we’re still learning about one another, practicing self-sacrifice for the betterment of our family and taking things one step at a time. Our marriage is far from perfect, but it’s one of those things the Lord is using as a refining fire for each of us. Growing a strong marriage has been much like growing in my relationship with the Lord – the more it’s tested, the more it learns to withstand.

This year has brought many trials to our family  – an unexpected death of a very close friend, my parent’s divorce and troubling illnesses among  family and friends. Each of these has tested our marriage. Our reactions to stress and immense pain could have easily turned us against one another. Pain is a fickle thing like that. It grows harsh words and uncontrollable feelings. Thankfully, Dominic and I have been able to ebb and flow in our support of one another. I get my bad days and he gets his. I pull him up from his depths and he cheers me out of my wallowing.

Are we winning because we’re awesome? Not quite. I’d give much more credit to prayer, a stint in marriage counseling and our telltale stubbornness to love when we don’t feel like it and say I’m sorry like it’s going out of style.

Despite everything we’ve encountered this year I’m hopeful for year eight. We’re more of a team than we’ve ever been and we’re taking care of each other amidst all the life that seems to be flying at us nonstop. Our marriage isn’t always in the season of summer, but there are many blessed moments of sunshine. It’s a breathe of calm to know that all these “for worse” times will be redeemed with “for better” ones. And what joy it will bring to us both, to look back, hand in hand and see what we’ve endured together.

If that ain’t love, don’t know what is.

Other love + wedding-y posts here:

How to Feed a Family of 6 … QUICKLY!

When you can’t go on a date night to Chili’s Grill & Bar, the next best thing is Chili’s At Home! Thanks Bellisio Foods for sponsoring this post and bringing Chili’s bold flavor straight to my home! 

Best of all, coupon here! Click it, print it and head to the grocery store! If you’re a PNW mama like me I’ve found Chili’s At Home at both Walmart and Safeway.

Come September our family is growing. And no, I’m not pregnant with twins so you can all call off the ambulance that would be flying to Dominic’s side if that was the truth!

Rather, our sweet Korean daughter is returning for her senior year as a part of a local high school’s international program and with her we’re welcoming a new Chinese daughter too!

They arrive just 48 hours before classes begin so there will be a flurry of airport pick-ups, welcome home celebrations and back to school shopping. I honestly can’t wait. Our Korean daughter (I’ll have to ask her if I can share her name soon) loves Jemma and Max and has already Facebooked me that she has surprises for them. Jem has been covering her big sister’s room in artwork and Max wanders around upstairs saying her name and looking in all the rooms and closets :) I’m sure they’ll both be thrilled when they realize they have not one, but two big sister’s to play, color and laugh with this year!

As a family of six – Dom, me, two teenagers and two little ones – our lives are about to pick up speed in a bold, busy and colorful way. I’m drafting schedules, chores and meal plans while prepping Dominic for a tight ship around here. There just isn’t any way to manage the chaos if I don’t. Cross your fingers I can stick with it, lest we get buried in laundry and eat peanut butter and jelly for a week :/ It’s inevitable that I’ll falter, but I’m trying! 

Meal planning falls heavily on my shoulders which I both enjoy and resent. Oh, the pains of motherhood. I have every intention of kicking off the school year strong though. A balance of expectations for myself (every night can’t be Pinspirational), sticking with the grocery budget (easier said than done) and finding things that satisfy six diverse food preferences (is that even possible?) will make meal planning a task worthy of medaling in the motherhood Olympics if I can succeed.

So, my tips?

Well, I had a chance to figure out feeding six last year when we had two Korean daughters from January-June. That doesn’t make me an expert, but it has taught me a few things :) How to Feed a Family of 6

  1. MEAL PLAN /// I mentioned that the foundation of getting everyone fed well is having a plan. As tedious as it is, this plays into sticking with a budget too, so it’s 100% necessary. I found a free printable online and use that to map out our week’s activities and dinners. It works well and I highly recommend it. Especially with teenagers … it’s good for them to have a visual on the fridge so they know what’s coming.
  2. DELEGATE /// I organize everything but it doesn’t mean I have to do everything. Every week either Dominic or the girls will take one evening to prepare dinner. That way I get a night off and they get an opportunity to appreciate what happens in the kitchen all the other nights that dinner magically appears :)
  3. MANAGE LEFTOVERS /// Nothing erks me more than wasted food. So, when a meal is done, I pack any leftovers in individual size containers so they can easily be packed for lunches or warmed up for a leftover meal. Oh, and we can leftover night “choices” because who wouldn’t want to choose their dinner? It’s almost like a restaurant where everyone can pick something different! Exciting!
  4. CONVENIENT FREEZER MEALS /// It’s such a myth that every meal has to be from scratch. Yes, we do our best to have many of our meals follow the farm to table philosophy, but that’s probably only 70% of them. For the remaining meals I rely on other sources … one being convenient freezer meals. A new favorite is the big, bold and tasty flavors of Chili’s At Home. We fell in love with the Sweet & Spicy Chicken and Sweet Potatoes and there are so many other flavors we’re anxious to try – both as family meals and some grab-n-go options for lunch. Take a peek at all the options here, what bold flavor looks most tasty to you?

Chilis At Home Freezer Mealchilis at home sweet and spicy chicken
The majority of our weeks end up looking something like this …

  • Monday – Try a new recipe
  • Tuesday – Delegate
  • Wednesday – Slow cooker recipe
  • Thursday – Choices
  • Friday – Pizza or BBQ
  • Weekends – I’ve yet to figure out a good plan here, all our weekends look so different and thus things really ebb and flow between eating out, leftovers or big family dinners where everyone pitches in

And just like that, quick, delicious dinners for 6 hungry people! Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Take a moment and comment with what Chili’s At Home meal we should try next – I’m so torn! They all look pretty fabulous! AND COUPON!!! 

Style File /// Beach Bliss

kimono 2 kimono 3kimono 1Leggings, Fabletics /// Tank, Old Navy /// Necklace, Ann Taylor LOFT /// Kimono, Just Dawnelle

The Pacific Coast is my happy place. Throw a darling beach cottage, delicious food and my sand + surf frolicking kiddos on top and I count myself a blessed mama.

Someday, I’ll own a little house here that I can steal away to at a moment’s notice. Adding that to the bucket list. For now, we’ll venture to the sea as often as we can. It’s good for all our souls.

IMG_7274seaview 2 IMG_7280 seaview 1 seaview 3 seaview 4

Run, Run It Real Good

I have nothing more to say than …


I completed my 5k training (and never thought I would) and now my “race” is on Saturday! My goals are 1) Finish 2) Take an awesome, sweaty, power mama photo at the finish line. Stay tuned for that gem :)

In the meantime, here’s all my Instagram photos from my training!

Peace! #tmg5korbust

P.S. This is the app I used! Since I finished the 5k version, I just downloaded the 10k one – EEK!

Supplies to Foster Independent Preschool Craft Time

Oh VIVA and Walmart, a high five and big thank you for my few moment’s of peace. By sponsoring this post (and having such a fab product) it may just become tradition for me to sip my morning coffee in peace!

I’ve got homeschooling on the brain – majorly. It’s all I pin, it’s all I read, it’s all I shop for. I’m both anxious and thrilled for September to be here. Both for Jemma and I’s learning adventures, but also for the preschool homeschool co-op I’m planning with a few local mamas. This year … it’s gonna be good.

Seeing that it’s just preschool, I’m planning a lose schedule. No strict book work, lots of interest driven learning. For Jemma, that means crafts, crafts and more crafts. Thankfully we can incorporate almost all subjects into some kind of “craft”. Max even has the craft bug since he’s all about doing everything his big sister does.

Here’s the kicker though – being home with my kids all day e’ryday can make me go a little batty. I don’t have any regular breaks since none of our weekly activities are drop-off style. We’re always together – co-op, my runs, library story time … together, together, together! So, we’re implementing a handful of independent activities as part of our homeschool schedule. Both to enhance their independent playing which will teach problem solving, responsibility and creativity and to give mama a much needed break!

Our homeschool room is the perfect place for independent craft time and Jemma truly flourishes during her solo opportunities. I love seeing what she comes up with!

To successfully foster drama-free, mess-free craft time I’ve set Jemma up with a fabulous little station of supplies. With these tools she is able to craft (and clean up) to her heart’s content. photo 1Prior to her stint in solo crafts we talked through a number of scenarios …

What if she can’t reach something?

What if painting water spills?

What situations are appropriate to ask for help?

Being a firstborn and a girl, Jemma seems predisposed to manage her alone time very well. With VIVA Vantage Towels by her side she can curb messes with quick and easy clean up. These towels are unlike any others and no doubt quell potential frustration by staying strong as they soak up water and clean up sticky messes. I’m quite impressed with their durability and know it will always be VIVA Vantage in our craft supply kit.

photo 3viva 1viva 2photo 2Obviously I photographed this independent craft session, but after I left it continued for another 30 MINUTES! Viva la mama time!

Not only do VIVA towels soak up water to the max. They also scrub glue like no one’s business. Jem reported that after I left :) The V-Flex Weave offers stretchablility and ultimate scrubbing … even for little preschool hands. VIVA Vantage is just what we need on hand for tipped painting water and our new obsession – purple glitter glue :)

Jemma’s review /// “This kinda makes messes not very messy so I can do a new cwaft.”

There you have it. From the mouth of a true arteest!

As you round up those final back to school supplies add Viva Vantage Towels to your shopping cart! I’m seeing many, many rolls in our future! Especially with Max hot on the crafting trail!

Now, what projects/activities do your preschoolers like to do independently, craft or otherwise? I’m on the lookout for new things to introduce this year!