Why I decided to use a leash

I've been a parent for 859 days. Which makes me qualified to say I don't know what I'm doing! Nearly half of that time I've been a mom to two boys (if you did the math you'll discover our boys are less than a 15 months apart). I have my hands full, as I'm told nearly every time I walk into a store. A double-stroller is a must whenever I go out of the house. That, or a leash backpack.

A backpack with a leash was a gift from my sister Heidi for our oldest son Sammy's 1st birthday. I think she knew I would need it in the days to come and she was right! Sammy is very adventurous and will always run to see the next adventure. I have found if you have a backpack with a leash attached to your child, you will get a range of looks and expressions.

Many people will just look at you as if to say, "wow, you are walking your child like you would a dog. You must not have your act together."  Others, my personal favorite, give you a look that says, "I know why you're doing that and you have my support." The best is when they sometimes remark, "I loved using that with my kids. What a great idea!

The leash backpack has taught me that I need to be ok with what I'm doing even if others seemingly don't approve of it. This has truly been a life lesson for me since I've often felt I'm going upstream in the things I chose to do (or not do). This situation has encouraged me to care more about Sammy's safety rather than getting the approval of others. 

Recently, we were in a store and Sammy tried to run away, but thanks to the trusty leash he didn't get far. It saved me the panic of either letting him go or having to leave our youngest son, Gideon, to chase after him. It has been very helpful in crowded places or just taking a walk around our neighborhood when cars are driving by. It's especially helpful when you have multiple children to care for and a limited number of arms. ;-) 

At first, Sammy would fight us and not want to wear the backpack. It would be easier to not make him wear the backpack, but it is ultimately the safest for him. We started to pack it with some snacks, toys and his water bottle. Once he discovered it was full of things just for him, he liked the backpack. I think it helps that his daddy wears a backpack too!

Something as simple as using a leash backpack, helped me learn I am parenting my children for the long run. I need to focus on what will help my son to grow up (safely) and what will give him the tools he needs to be a successful man. Often that means a little restraint, and learning limits. 

It's also helped me remember the greatest parenting tip I've ever received, "The only way to parent is from your knees".

Baker's Dozen Donuts: Raleigh, NC

We love donuts at our house. I mean, really, who doesn't? They are an indulgence that can put a smile on any age. Upon moving to Raleigh, I thought there would be a lot of old fashioned donut shops. Much to my surprise, I haven't found there to be many shops to choose from. 

We do have lots of Dunkin' Donuts and Krispy Kreme and a few speciality shops (such as Monuts Donuts in Durham). But the kind of donuts we like are the old-school kind. My personal favorite are chocolate old fashioned (the ones that look like saucers or have wings, as I call them). I found this post quite helpful to show/describe the types of donuts. 

The point of this post is to let you know about the tastiest donut shop I've found in Raleigh/Cary area, Baker's Dozen Donuts. They actually give you a baker's dozen 13 donuts and the box we bought was only $8.50! They are open 7 days a week (6am-7pm). Baker's Dozen is a clean shop with lots of donuts choices, including apple fritters, and tables to enjoy your selection there. They are directly off of Buck Jones Road close to Cary Crossroads and REI.

Since this past week was Sammy's first birthday, we celebrated with him by giving him his first donut. A white sprinkle donut that he absolutely loved. 

I hope you'll find this Public Service Announcement helpful for your donut consumption. 

About California

We've lived in North Carolina for almost five months. At the end of September, we were able to fly back to Sacramento to visit family and friends and celebrate our baby with two baby showers!

A while back there was a prompt to write about California for 15 minutes on The Write Practice. We had lived in North Carolina for about 6 weeks when I wrote this: 


The Sunshine State, the 7th largest economy in the world, home of many liberal thinkers. Your beauty is renown. Some of the world's most beautiful coastlines, vineyards, trees, Home of the Happiest Place on Earth (aka Disneyland). Land of oranges, avocados, and everything in between. Where else can you go within one state and find deserts, oceans, lakes, snow, vineyards, forests, mountains, and plains? We cannot forget the beautiful bridge seen below!

photo credit: The Hubster

Plays, art, music and movies were made on your soil. You are home to many different nationalities and extremely varied cultures. So many songs have been written about or inspired by you. Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego. Each big city is so uniquely varied but calls you, dear California, home. Who can forget your golden, velvety poppy?

Interstate 5 runs through you, which may be the most boring freeway in the entire world. Some of the craziest people reside in your lands, yet the natives all know, there's something that connects us all, even though there's such diversity.

The food and coffee can hardly be replicated. Fresh, simple, delectable. So many reasons why people flock to you and choose to stay. Your people. Sometimes you love 'em, other times it's hard to. But there just something about a Californian.

What else can be said of this fair state? The way you attempt preserve the air is a little obsessive, but you're helping everyone breathe easier, through the smog. No one can forget your wildlife, especially the research done at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and various sanctuaries for creatures. 

To me, you'l hold a special place, one that others might not know until they've live there. 

There must be a reason why the Beach Boys once said "I wish they all could be California girls." My husband, Anthony, is lucky enough to have one and says he wouldn't want it any other way!

California, thanks for being yourself.

One more thing, GO GIANTS!!!

Spoonflower - Durham, NC

Today, we visited the Spoonflower's headquarters in Durham, North Carolina (very conveniently located since we moved to the Raleigh-Durham area recently). Spoonflower prints custom fabric, wallpaper, decals, and gift-wrap. You can order prints in swatches, fat quaters, and as little or as many yards as you want. They have 10 different that they print your unique design on. Or if you don't want to create your own design, you can buy fabric that was designed by others.  

Katie, a new friend of ours, works at Spoonflower and gave us a grand tour. We started with the Greenhouse, where the public can take classes and employees use it as a studio space.

Unfortunately, we weren't able to take pictures inside the plant. Some of the fabric they print is unique and we didn't want to take a chance on infringing on their customer's copyrights. The fabric we saw being printed was vibrant and different than other material I've seen! There is a huge room of about 35 printing machines and each machine is given a name, such as Kirk, since they all have their own personality. One machine is better at printing cotton and one is better at twill, etc. 

Once the spool is finished, it goes to a heating room where it is sealed in machines that run around 300 degrees. From there, the fabric is checked for accuracy, cut and shipped to you! If fabric isn't completely accurate, they re-print the customer's order and send remnant fabric to a flooring company who recycles it to make floors. 

I really enjoyed seeing how Spoonflower creates unique fabric. The fabric is from the U.S.A. and is organic. If you want to visit Spoonflower, you can contact them here or take their virtual tour here.

31 Things I learned in March

I was inspired by Emily to write the things I learned in March. They aren't in any particular order:

  1. Helping with a school's accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges is a lot of work. 
  2. Being present when someone is hurting brings comfort and healing, to both people. 
  3. God's sovereignty means he can't and won't change.
  4. A cup of coffee with a friend can lead to a 2-hour conversation that feels like minutes.
  5. Sharing important news with the people closest to me is much harder than telling a stranger.
  6. What we think about worship impacts how we worship.
  7. "Worship is faith expressed. We better start with the Bible" - Rick Muchow 
  8. It is possible to plan outfits for a 3-day trip and not check in luggage. A huge improvement for me since a 9-day trip, the month earlier, resulted in 48 pounds of luggage and I didn't even wear 1/2 the stuff!
  9. A warm greeting at an unfmailiar place, makes me feel included and accepted immediately.
  10. Portland is weird and probably always will be.
  11. Strangers will open up and tell you their life story if you ask and listen.
  12. Faith is a lot easier to conceptualize than to act out.
  13. A bracket is a list of all the basketball teams competing in March Madness. I'm hoping Duke makes it because my other 3 Final Four teams already lost.
  14. Being married is easy when you're married to the right person and are committed to staying together.
  15. Buttercream frosting, once chilled, will not soften when 1% milk and powered sugar are added. It will look like curds and water will drip off your cake. Not good. 
  16. When you make buttercream frosting according to the recipe, it turns out perfectly! Shocking.
  17. God's Word, the Bible, truly is living and applicable today.
  18. Self-forgetfulness is the way to get my thoughts and attention off me and what others think. It's accomplished when my mind is renewed to think like Jesus. (Tim Keller's books are very thought-provoking)
  19. A 'blind' is the look-out place for hunting. Thank you to my Father-in-law, Scott, for that bit of information. 
  20. Intense movies like "Olympus Has Fallen" stress me out.
  21. Listening is a skill that is touted, but is much harder to practice.
  22. When we pray, God listens and prayers are answered. Last week we heard of 4 different prayers answered miraculously.
  23. It's easy for me to give opinions, but it is challenging to focus and hear what someone is communicating.
  24. I'm not in control of my life.
  25. It is possible to go into Ikea and only buy food.
  26. Daffodils only bloom for a few weeks each year.
  27. Puffy clouds make people want to bounce in them (Brittany).
  28. Steak tartare is nothing more than raw ground beef and a raw egg. When you don't know what a term is, it's best to look it up before ordering.
  29. Flannel purchased at speciality fabric stores is much higher quality than the type Joann carries.
  30. Creating anything: crafting, writing, cooking, etc. is nearly impossible when I have a lot on my mind.
  31. The most comforting thing someone can say when I'm going through a hard time is, "I'm sorry that happened" and their eyes empathize with me.

Did you learn anything new in March? How have you been?

Hungry for Change

We just finished watching the movie Hungry for Change. I loved it! 

(photo credit)

I didn't think that a movie could help me think about my word for the year, grace. But it did. For a few months now, I haven't been dieting. Instead, I've been eating what I want. 

Mind you, I'm still cautious. I try and drink water whenever I can and limit useless calories. A shift has occurred though! I don't feel as deprived. 

I would highly recommend this movie because they talk about how much the food industry markets their product. And the product is food. So it's not surprising that a lot of what is put in our food is addictive and makes us want more. And more. 

You might be wondering what made me think about grace. The movie talked about loving yourself and self-image. Since January, I have begun to stop berating myself. When I think terrible things about my body or why I'm not measuring up, I remember that God made me. 

There's a little children's book called You Are Special, and it has taught me a lot. What I believe really does influence the way I act. God made me and he doesn't make mistakes. He also only made one Malisa and he wants me to be genuine, not a fake. 

How have you been lately? Have you watched any good documentaries? 

January 2013 Recap

January has ended. Thinking about what happened this month, I am still loving my public library. I've discovered that the 3-week window to return a book helps me read it. Maybe I should borrow some of the books I have in our own library and I might actually read them too? 

(photo credit: the Hubster

This month I read:

100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights: You can read my review here.

The Prodigal God by Tim Keller: Awesome story about the parable of the prodigal sons.

Talking with My Mouth Full by Mindy Kaling: I was expecting this book to be a little funnier, but I did LOL a few times. And yes, I just said LOL in context. 

Snow Mountain Passage by James D. Houston: EEK. A novel of the Donner Party. I pretty much will never go to the snow again because of this book and Into Thin Air.

Although I like all of my posts, my favorite one was A Tale of Bread Pudding.

My favorite new find was Farro.

And by far, I'm most proud of my video 2012 in Photos.

Joining Beth and Erika for The List and Shelia for the 2013 Reading Challenge.

High Five for Friday

This week was filled with lots of friends, spontaneity, and food. 

1. Sunday I got a phone call from my sister Heidi. It was later than she normally calls so I was a little worried. She was talking super fast and in a high-pitched voice.

"Mal, Olivia rolled over! And she didn't do it just one time, she did it a few times. On either side too." Me, "AWESOME. Our baby is a genius" (we aren't biased at all) Here's a recent picture of her:

(taken by her loving dad, Caleb)

She's 58 days old today. And I love her even more than before. 

2. Friends brunch.

If you ever want to have a great brunch, ask the gentlemen to bring meat

and the ladies to bring fruit.

You will have plenty of meat for everyone and enough fruit to last you for days.

If you want enough coffee, ask a coffee-aholic, aka my sweet Hubster to brew the good stuff.

If you want enough pancakes, ask someone who grew up in a big family to prepare them.

If you want pictures of the day, invite a photographer or two.

This group of friends also went to get massages from a local place in Little Saigon, called Happy Day Spa. It was quite impressive, especially for $20. We were in a huge room and sat in big overstuffed, leather chairs, with clothes on, and had a blast. I don't know how relaxed I was as the koi fish were jumping and I got splashed a few times. It sure made for a great memory though!

3. Pitch Perfect. What a funny movie. Anthony and I both enjoyed it and I think it's acca-awesome. Yeah, I just said that. And how can you beat a $1 movie from Redbox. Oh yeah, and $10 any size pizza from Papa Murphys?

4. Hanging out with my parents and on a different night my sister and brother-in-law. Talking with them about what our future may hold. Their thoughts and input. But more importantly their love and prayer for us. Anthony and I are so fortunate to have such a supportive family.

5. Yesterday, we were spending time with our friend Kelli and I got a few video texts from my sister, Heather. My mom has lots of home videos and would often try and record us doing our normal activities. In this video, it's one day before I turn 4. I'm holding Heather, who was 3 months and Heidi is 2 1/2 years old. The mumbling and laughing in the background are my sisters who just recorded this on their phones. I thought you might laugh at me being a baby whisperer and one of the bossiest little kids around.

Here's the dialogue:

"It's okay, Malisa's holding you. Here. She had a bad day today."

My mom, "How come?"

"Cause she was sitting in the car today cryin' and I gave her her fodder (that's what I called pacifiers), but she still cried.

Yelling at Heidi, "Don't touch her. I don't want any.

Mom, "Be kind, Malisa."

To Heidi, "Go away."

Summary: Heidi was just excited about a little treat we were having. I was more concerned with Heather. Sheesh.

What were five of your favorite things this week?

Linking up with Lauren for High Five for Friday

When there are too many choices...

I feel paralyzed to pick the right one. 

I am afraid I might not be able to decide which one is best for me. 

(photo taken by the Hubster in Point Reyes, California)

Like this post. Fridays are my favorite days in the blogosphere. Lindsay (Hello Hue) hosts the Little Things link up where she talks about being grateful for the little things. Rachel hosts Friday Favorites where the favorite things of the week are shared. Lisa-Jo hosts #FiveMinuteFriday which is a quick-write link party or as she calls it, a flash mob. Lauren (From my Grey Desk) hosts High Five for Friday and writes things she's happy about from the week. There are more than these too!

As you can see, I am a little torn. I love talking about what I'm thankful for and my favorite things. Being grateful helps me ward off discontentment and other yucky things. 

This week, I decided to "dive" in and write.

My heart was so touched that one of my friends asked me to mentor them on Sunday. The fact that she saw something in me and believes I can help her is huge. I said yes and was honored to meet with her. 

Anthony and I have said yes a lot. Whether it's because of inspiration from Bob Goff or just a change in focus. We're diving in. Going deep. (thank you Steven Curtis Chapman for the song-spiration)

Have a fabulous weekend, dear readers. I am so thankful for you!

And I chose to join Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday, which may have taken me 7ish minutes to write & Lauren for High Five for Friday.

Book Review: 100 Pound Loser

I had the privilege of reviewing Jessica Heights' new book, 100 Pound Loser.

This personal memoir describes tricks of the trade Jessica discovered as she lost 100 pounds and kept...it...off.

Having struggled with my weight most of my life, I could relate to her story.

I had always been a chunky kid.

I found the steps she took to achieve her weight loss resonate with my own journey. Jessica describes the importance of achieving your goals (with weight and life, for that matter):

In order to reach a big goal, start with smaller goals.

The key to success and avoiding discouragement is to make your target possible to hit!

She discusses food and how there's a tendency to have a relationship with it:

Food in itself isn't bad...But when we try to have a relationship with it, use it as a comforter, stress release, etc., we find ourselves in trouble.

This week I celebrate 4 years of having lost 30+ pounds and keeping it off! Jessica briefly discusses trigger foods and I loved what she said about cravings,

Rather than feeling frustrated and potentially racking up more calories than I would have originally, I just eat what I was craving in the first place.

I couldn't agree with her more! A little bit of chocolate or a milkshake won't sabotage my weight. But overeating other foods to compensate for not eating what I wanted certainly might.

It was challenging to relearn what a reward was when I lost weight. My first instinct was to think I could eat something "bad" for doing well. Learning to reward myself with non-food rewards like clothes was a key factor of getting to the heart of changing my relationship with food.

I'd like to encourage you to redefine your concept of "treat"...I came to view a "treat" for myself as an inexpensive little gift. 

Even when I have a gain on the scale, I try and not let it discourage me for long. I remember how far I have come and the progress I've made. I loved Jessica's thoughts on this concept:

It's more important to live life and enjoy our families than to obsess over weight.

I can't express how much having Anthony's support helped me lose weight and keep it off. Like Jessica, my husband was a key factor in my weight loss story.

If this is an area you need encouragment in, buy Jessica's book

I was given a review copy of 100 Pound Loser by Jessica Heights. However, all opinions are my own. This post contains my affiliate links.