Birthday Crepes…..the Gluten-free Edition

It’s Jon’s Birthday today. He is 38 years old now. Seems like yesterday we were 19 & 21; and getting married….so weird to think that we are getting closer and closer to 40. He was saying, earlier today, that he still feels 20 something. Age really isn’t that important, is it? I think it’s more about how you feel than how big or small your actual number is…

We ran across the line today to pick up some groceries. I feel slightly bad that we are not buying local and yet…..right now, there is NO WAY that we would be able to feed our family for as cheaply as we can if we purchase a few things from the States. And right now….every penny counts. Literally, we are counting every penny and making each one count.


We have enough to cover the basics and that’s good. It’s tight, but we are doing okay!

After we came home, Jon had to renew his driver’s license and he picked up the girls from my sisters place. They had been over for my nieces birthday sleepover… The day was pretty much a “run around” day and I was trying to figure out what we could do to celebrate a little.


Jeremy suggested crepes and seeing as I have a smokin’ easy gluten free crepe recipe that EVERYONE loves….I agreed.

Most people should have these ingredients in their homes and this recipe is great for everyone.

Gluten-Free Crepes

6 Tblsp Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder, if you’d prefer to not use cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup of milk (I used coconut milk)
1 Tblsp of oil (I use coconut oil)
2 eggs (beaten well – seriously….beat them in a separate bowl before adding them into the mix)

Add everything together and mix well until all the lumps are broken up and the mix is smooth and runny.

Heat up a small cast iron pan over medium heat and rub a little bit of oil onto the pan.

When the pan is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the mixture around until the batter covers the bottom of the pan and looks like this…


Cook it for a few seconds (20-30???) and when it starts to lift away from the edges of the pan…then flip it over carefully and cook it on the other side for about half the time.


After it’s cooked, I flip it out onto a plate…..and it’s ready to be “fixed”…


I put some Strawberries and Cool Whip on mine. We had some left over Cool Whip from a Pavlova that Jon made for Boxing Day! Nothing like chemical whipping cream to really round a meal out.


Here it is….all wrapped up and ready to be eaten. The crepe is even strong enough that you can pick it up with your fingers at eat it…you know…if you are ill-mannered enough to do such a thing…..not that I know anyone who would do that…..


Doesn’t it look AMAZING! It tasted even better than it looked. I used cornstarch for one batch and used arrowroot for another and both batches turned out DELICIOUS, almost identical tasting crepes.


We couldn’t forget to include the only shot of the birthday boy getting his crepe ready to be eaten…..I think that he used Nutella and Cool Whip on this one…..I tasted and that is one heavenly combination.


Everyone ate until they were no longer hungry…….

And now its the best time of the day….BED TIME for the littlest ones….YAH!


See how happy he looks about it…..oh, maybe I hadn’t mentioned it when I took this picture….actually, this one is typically pretty excited for bedtime……naptime, not so much, but bedtime is okay!

ps. These are not “HEALTHY” crepes. There is nothing “whole foods” or even really nutritious to feed your body with these…but they sure do make a good treat for once in a while…and they are gluten-free and use really “normal” ingredients…..

Happy Birthday Josiah

Today, Josiah turns 4. We are so proud of our little man and all that he adds to our family. Josiah, or Siah as most people call him, is very very very kind and loving and joyful. He is also younger than Jeremy by almost 7 years and wouldn’t stand a chance of being treated fairly, except he can very most definitely assert himself.

Josiah came into our world as a miracle. We had lost four consecutive pregnancies, and had basically decided that it wasn’t going to happen. The timing was all off, we shouldn’t have been able to get pregnant right then, but it happened. Patti’s brother, Chris, had his accident not long after and that consumed most of the pregnancy (and explains why his name is Josiah Christopher Culley). And then Josiah was born.

He has had a personality all his own since the day he arrived. He stole my heart right from the beginning. He has the ability to lighten the mood in the room, (or to do the complete opposite). He loves small fiddly things that he calls his “doo-dads” and says the most adorable things like “Gramma, you are my present”. He calls his favorite people with the word “my”… “My Brynn and my Chris are getting married and I’m their bear boy (ring bearer)”. Josiah is an amazing son, and Siah, I love you more. (He tells me that he loves me, and I say I love him more, and he says I love you the most, and then says “I win!” really fast, and it always makes me laugh).

We are fairly practical and don’t do much to celebrate a first or second birthday. Those parties are nice, but the kids don’t remember them and are mostly overwhelmed at why life got so weird for one day. But come age three, its party time…. Except in Siah’s case, we basically skipped his party last year, as Angelica’s treatment was overwhelming, and so this brings us to today.

Siah Looking at Daddy
My favorite photo of Siah - I am in his eyes

This summer is a bit of a cave for us… I mean that in the sense that it feels like a tornado went through our house last year and the violent winds, picked up and threw around our emotions, our energy, our direction, our fears, our life and left the house just a month ago. The cancer treatment has switched to something far more manageable, but just like a tornado coming and leaving, life isn’t just ready to get going right away. You have to repair the damage. I use the term cave, because the storm has moved on, but normal is unlivable and so we are temporarily living as simply as we can while we repair emotionally, spiritually, physically, and in every other way. We will live in “normal” again, but we need the summer to be able to.

Siah Today
Bear Boy

With that said, as of Monday, there was no party planned. As of today, we are having a party. If it is the only thing that gets accomplished today, then it will be a great day.

Josiah is sooooo excited. Angelica has already given him a present, and he has fully clued in to what is coming. He is telling everyone that he is getting a “ball that turns into a bird” for his birthday, and it took some doing to figure out what that was, but he is indeed getting some of those.


Happy Birthday, Xandra!

It’s your day today, sweet girl.


You are officially 13 years old today. I find it hard to believe that the years manage to fly by so fast and yet….I remember the day your were born…..I remember being told to go to the hospital by my Dr and then being told to go home because they were crazy busy… I went home to sleep for a couple of hours and then……then you were here!

You were such a cute little pixie, with such white blonde hair. I had no idea who you were or what you’d grow up to be but I was so excited to get the opportunity to know you and love you.

And love you, I do!

You are so very wonderful! You are such an amazing daughter. You are a loyal friend. You love so intensely. You feel so passionately. You are such an incredible person.

This has been such a tough year for all of us and you ave not walked away from this year without having been touched by cancer and it’s side effects. There are so many listed side effects of the cancer treatment, but you don’t see a lot written about the effects experienced by the family. In your intensely passionate way, you have felt so many of those effects in such a deep way. We’ve made it through a whole entire year.

Your entire 12th year was consumed with cancer and it’s treatment…..and yet….you were such a light in a dark time. It’s not always been easy but we did it.

Grade 7 Grad

Grade 7 Grad Dress – made by Nana C.

You have been a HUGE help to me through out this last year. You have helped out with the boys and with the housework and with meals… have just helped out so much! I am so thankful for your loving, kind, generous, giving spirit.

I believe that you’re thirteenth year is going to be the best one yet.

You’re headed into High School and I’m so excited for you. Just keep being yourself. You are so unique and as long as you stay true to yourself, and just keep being the amazingly friendly person that you are, you’ll do okay!

I’m so proud of you, my sweet Xandra.

So Pretty

Happy Birthday, my love!

Your Momma

Not So Happy Birthday

It’s Judah’s First Birthday today.

Happy Birthday, My Little Man! It’s hard to believe that you’re one year old already.

Sick Birthday

…..this morning

It sucks being sick on your birthday. We have a Doctor’s Appointment at 11:45am just to check things out before the weekend. It sucks to take a turn for the worse over the weekend and to have to go to a walk-in clinic or the ER. I’d rather just take him in to be safe now.

Talk about fever central over here…..Judah managed to get up over 40F last night in the middle of the night and I actually had my mom pick up some tylenol at midnight because the advil was not doing what it was supposed to.

There was a lot of late night/early morning rocking and walking and cool cloths…..many prayers and very little sleep.

Geli is doing well and we are still just waiting on the 48 hour cultures to see if anything grows.

My Sweet Girl

I remember the night that Angelica was born.

A Little Birthday Math

Early Morning Birthday Math – doesn’t everybody celebrate this way???

I was feeling some contractions, but I totally didn’t believe that they were contraction because they didn’t hurt. I was expecting 8-10 hours or more of pain…..THAT was labour. Anything else was just that whole “pre-labour” stuff that the books and our class had talked about and what I was experiencing was not even sort of painful.

I was desperate to avoid going to the hospital only to be sent home saying that I had hours and HOURS of labour left to go. And so I just continued on with my afternoon and evening. My mom came over and she seemed intent on convincing me that I was in labour but regardless of the fact that she had given birth to 5 kids of her own…..she obviously didn’t understand how this worked….

Crazy Eyes

I told her to smile, I wanted to get a “14” picture! Nice Crazy Eyes!

Finally I got the point that the contractions were sharp enough to take my breath away and to even make my eyes tear up a bit and at that point I agreed to go to the hospital. From what I remember of our short trip down Willingdon, I fussed and complained to Jon the entire way about how they were gonna send me home and how I’d be devastated. And sure enough, when we walked into the ER the triage nurse tried to blow me off and then I had a contraction. Then she asked me a question and I had another contraction. Then she asked if I had had 2 contractions while I was having a third……then she said to forget the paperwork and to come right on up to the maternity ward. I had another one while waiting for the elevator, another one in the elevator and another one as I stepped off the elevator. The next hour is a bit of a blur. I remember pieces of it but basically, within the hour Angelica was born.

She was so cute and tiny and had this shocking black head of hair.

And that………that was the beginning.

So Pretty

My 14 year old

Now, my baby is 14 and its amazing how fast the time has flown by. Yes, there are times when I felt (and feel) like the months, weeks, days, heck the minutes…..are dragging by but really….I blinked and now she’s so grown up.

I got married at 19…….that’s in 5 years. Wow! That’s almost unbelievable!

Geli woke up on her birthday and was ready the fastest she’s been in……well, in a really long time, but I think she was excited to go to school and before she could go to school she had to go and get blood drawn to see what her counts were at so that we knew whether she was going to get the next dose of chemo on Tuesday.

Jon took her to get her blood work and then dropped her off at school “on time”. Angelica pranked one of her friends by dumping a bunch of Millet Puffs into her locker for her birthday. So when her friend opened her locker, there was a giant mess of puff balls that poured out of her locker, onto the floor and her friend says that she still has little puffs in her locker.


I think Geli was a bit nervous and a bit excited to see how her friends were gonna get her back. Here is her locker.

Geli's Birthday Locker altered

It was wonderful that the way that everything worked out that #1. Geli’s counts were high enough that she could be at school, #2 that they were able to delay her Chemotherapy by one day so that she could be at school and #3 that Geli was healthy and feeling well and able to enjoy her birthday with her friends……

She even got presents at school…, fun!


After school, we had a few more gifts to give to her….

Siah had chosen this little monkey key ring. If you pressed a button on his head, he would say make monkey noises and his eyes would light up….it was a lot cuter than it sounds. It sounds kinda creepy just like that.

Presents from Siah

He was so excited to give her her present. it was really cute to watch him, although I’m not sure if he really wanted to give her the monkey….he was pretty excited about it himself.

Dinner was something that Geli loves and then the rest of the evening just went smoothly. Looking back on the weekend, I was just so thankful at how everything had turned out in her favor. It was an amazing weekend and one that I’m sure she will remember as a highlight of this past year.

My Sweet Girl,

I pray this new year in your life is full of love and laughter and family and friends and especially health. I love you immeasurably and I’m so excited as I watch you growing up into a gorgeous young woman.

This past year was the hardest you’ve faced yet and yet in spite of all that you’ve gone and are going through – you are thriving. You are so brave and you are learning about how much strength you actually have.

Even though there are times that we wish we never knew how strong we actually are……we all go through tough times and we come out the other end with strength and compassion and a new level of understanding for others who are struggling or going through their own hard times. These are all amazing character traits and I proudly watch you as you embrace everything that comes to you.

Keep smiling when you are happy and crying when you are sad…..being “true and real” about what you are feeling and how you are doing is another amazing thing. Hiding or pretending doesn’t help anything.

Be true to yourself.
Laugh Hard.
Love Harder! and…..
LIVE everyday with passion.

I love you sweetheart!

Your Momma

Birthday Weekend Continued

Saturday morning, the girls woke up (eventually) and we made a “Big Breakfast“. That’s what our family calls the weekend “eggs, bacon or sausage, homemade hash browns and toast” breakfast. It was delicious! Then the girls hung out until 3pm. It is so amazing to hear Geli giggling and having fun. The down times (and there are lots of them) really create contrast for the good times and we try to really appreciate and enjoy the good times.

The rest of Saturday involved produce shopping at the local veggie market, and then some cousin time. My cousins dropped off their 3 boys and went out for a date. It was so awesome to see the boys and we are looking forward to dumping our brood on them in the future and heading out for a dinner ourselves.

Sunday morning was spent making a turkey dinner for Geli’s Birthday meal. Technically, her birthday was on Monday, but we asked both sets of Grandparents to come over for lunch, after their churches let out, to celebrate.


We kinda forgot to take too many pictures, but Geli did remember and grabbed my camera and took a few. This one was just after lunch was finished. The guys are relaxing in the post turkey haze and checking out You Tube Videos. We worked on cleaning up the kitchen for a bit before we served dessert. Truth be told, we needed a moment to let the delicious lunch settle to make a bit of room for dessert.


We recently picked up some meat from M&M Meat Shops with a gift card that we were given and we got a free apple pie with our order. Geli really wanted to have it for her birthday and so we heated it up to serve with ice cream. It had wheat in it so there were a few of us that couldn’t eat it and so I made a dessert that was good for those of us who couldn’t eat it.


This is a raw papaya, banana pie and it was AMAZING. I made another one that was a raw blueberry, pear pie and althought I didn’t eat a piece of it – Jon said that it was delicious too.

The base is made from pecans and dates and then I placed thin slices of papaya on top of the base and purreed some banana and papaya together and poured it over the top of the slices. Then just before I served it, I cut up some banana slices and sprinkled it with some coconut. MMMMmmmmm!

We rounded out the day with a game of Settlers of Catan!

This past weekend was so nice. We weren’t running around trying to get everything done. We were mostly just at home and enjoying spending good quality family time together. There was food & games and it was just about the most perfect weekend……and we hadn’t even made it to Angelica’s actual birthday. Let the partying continue.

14th Birthday Party

It was Angelica’s 14th Birthday yesterday and we’ve basically celebrated non-stop since Friday.

We were woken up at 6am on Friday morning to the melodious sounds of someone barfing!

Jon ran upstairs and found Geli hunched over the toilet retching and heaving. He got her some anti-nausea meds and helped her get settled back into bed while I nursed the baby back to sleep. I was SO concerned that Geli might have picked up whatever felled 4 out of the 7 of us. It was supposed to be her birthday party on Friday evening and I was so upset.

This whole cancer/chemo thing is a massive head trip because you never really know what’s going on. She could be barfing from the chemo or it could be from a bacteria or it could be something else entirely. She could be feeling tired because she stayed up too late, because she’s getting sick, because her hemoglobin is low, because the chemo is hard on her body or any other number of things. Some of the issues are serious and some are less serious. Regardless, there is so much uncertainty and SO. MUCH. STRESS. so much of the time. It’s very wearing.

We all managed to get back to sleep and slept until just after 7am. When the whole family got up for the day, Geli joined us at the table all ready for school and she was feeling fine. So, we dropped her off at school and carried on with the day.

After school, Geil came home and started getting ready for her party. She’s been thinking about her birthday party since before Christmas and she had decided to have a fondue.

We set up a cheese fondue, an oil fondue and for dessert, a chocolate fondue.

Fondue for Dinner

Angelica has the most amazing friends.

Best Friends

These girls are so thoughtful, loving and encouraging; and I’m so thrilled that they are a part of Geli’s (and ours) life.

There was a cake pyramid and I was horrified that I couldn’t find any candles….and so we made do with one gnome!

Birthday Cake

Geli came up with the idea for the cake pyramid. We could have made an actual cake with icing, but Geli said that she just wanted to be able to dip the cake pieces into the chocolate fondue.

There were presents and lots of laughs…..

Lots of Laughs

And there was some sneaky sampling…..


But really, he was just “helping” to make sure that it tasted ok and that it wasn’t gross……ya we’ll go with that…it was the Quality Control Sample.

The girls had a great time and Geli had a wonderful birthday sleep over with her friends. It went even better than what I had hoped for.

Celebrating Late

It was my Momma’s Birthday on January 14th, and I missed it.


My Mom and Dad

I didn’t completely forget about it, but I never got a hold of her to wish her a happy day and to let her know how much I love her. I thought of her a few times, and each time, i told myself that I’d call her as soon as i finished whatever it was that I was working on at that exact moment.

Then I woke up the next morning and MAN….I felt bad. But, she’s my momma and she loves me and she loves to celebrate life – any day, any time for any reason……and so it was all good!


We asked my parents to come and have dinner with us this past Monday night.

I knew that we were going to have them over and yet for whatever reason (I’m going with lack of sleep) I totally zoned on the fact that we were having them over “for her birthday”. I can’t even believe this myself. I’ve dropped the ball on a lot of things lately. My brain just doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders these days, and that’s not so cool!

And that’s how I found myself at 3:30pm in the afternoon getting ready to think about make dinner (we were gonna eat at 5pm) and realizing that I had done NOTHING about a birthday cake. I didn’t even have a pie or muffin or anything made up that we could even just “pretend” was something “birthday” related.


I quickly tried to think of a quick alternative. Normally, it might just be easy to pop to the store and pick up a cake or some other dessert, but with the different food issues, that’s not really an option for us.

And then I remembered, Udi’s Double Chocolate Muffins. These little beauties are Dairy, Egg, Soy and Gluten Free and…they are actually delicious. Most importantly, I could pick some up at both of my local grocery stores, IGA and Save On.

I figured that I could make some powdered sugar icing with my soy-free Earth Balance and some almond milk and at the very least, we’d have something to stick a candle in.


It’s not the most beautiful birthday dessert that I’ve ever thrown together, but I was able to throw it together in less than 10 minutes and for a last minute rush job that takes a dairy, soy, egg and gluten free food issues into consideration, I think it’s pretty good.

We had some great family time and enjoyed celebrating life, and got to eat some yummy chocolate cake as a bonus.


I sure love you, Momma! You are worth celebrating, EVERYDAY!


Things have been busy over here in so many different areas.

I keep thinking that I’ll have a moment to update what going on and instead I’ve ended up with a backlog of things to write about and new things just keep on happening. That’s life isn’t it? It just keeps moving forward at a steady, predictable rate; even if you desperately want it to slow down and especially if you want it to speed up.

Homemade Oreo Cookies

In case things weren’t already crazy enough, I’ve recently needed to remove gluten from my diet. I mentioned a while ago that Judah was having some gastro-intestinal issues. Removing dairy seemed to help a little and yet it really didn’t help like I thought it would. When I went to the doctor, it seems that his issues are dairy, gluten and yeast related and we are trying to figure out if this is a short term deal or a much more serious situation.

It’s been just over a week since I removed the gluten and while things are not great, they do seem to be a little bit better. Judah seems to be in less pain and that’s a huge deal for me.

I found this recipe for gluten-free Oreo cookies and figured that I’d attempt to alter it to make it dairy-free and egg-free. I baked up a batch tonight and it’s amazing.

Jon figures that they are good enough that you’d never know that they were dairy, egg and gluten-free. They are sooooo yummy and I know the kids are going to flip when they wake up in the morning.

Angelica is starting the 4th stage of the chemotherapy tomorrow morning. She went and got blood work done this morning and when her counts came back this afternoon….they were FABULOUS!

We were hoping that they would be high for the start of this round and they are, especially compared to how low they were last week. They are low for normal, but high for Geli.

Xani has been quite sick over the past week. It was almost like the flu but with no barfing or fever…….she’s had a headache, sore muscles, an all over achy feeling, runny nose, cough, and I think that she’s finally, slowly, on the mend.

Jeremy turned 10 years old yesterday and I’ve got a bunch of stuff to update on him.

Siah has not been sleeping very well and as a result, he’s been a bit of a goofball during the day. Lots of tears and whining and fussing and moaning and screaming….it’s a bit wearing. And I’d love to say that I have some great ideas and plans of what to do with him to work through this rough patch, but….ya…..nope! Nothing! I’m not sure if I’m too tired to come up with something or maybe I need to be just a little bit tired before “it” comes to me. I dunno, but I’m sure we’ll figure something out or maybe he’ll grow out of it all before I have to come up with something.

Christmas is coming and I’ve been baking (gluten-free, of course) and we’re trying to get things ready so that things will be peaceful and calm. I can at least hope for peace and calm, right?

I’m hoping to find a few moments to be able to get a few things caught up on here (and in real life). Should we take bets on whether it will actually happen or not????

Ah well. Life keeps moving along and I keep on moving with it, whether I like it or not.

Brought to You by the Letter B

So, today is my birthday.

I’m 35 years old today. Half way to 70 and really….it doesn’t mean a thing to me. I’m not upset about being old or feeling old or feeling young or anything. Age is pretty much a non-factor to me.


This morning, Xandra and Becca and Brianna brought me coffee in bed. They made six cups of coffee and used 6 scoops of grounds. Needless to say, the coffee was wicked bitter but had some serious kick to it. I was brutally tired, but am quite awake right now.


Shortly after the coffee arrived, breakfast was brought up. A huge bowl of fruit all sliced up and ready to go. Then they brought a menu up with options for a nice breakfast downstairs…….so so sweet.


Just before we headed down stairs for the girls breakfast, I had all of my boys in bed with me. Jon, Jeremy, Josiah and Judah….One day if my girls leave home, I may end up in a house full of men/boys…..I love my boys.


I came downstairs. Sat down at the fancy breakfast table and the girls brought me a banana with 4 candles in it. It was cute and weird and wonderful.


And then Geli woke up and started barfing……


And then she started crying because she is in pain and barfing and doesn’t want to deal with all of this.


and I’m right there with her…..

This is not how I expected to celebrate (I use the word very, VERY loosely) my birthday. I’m crying too. If I could have one thing for my birthday it would be to have her feel amazing.

And yet, it doesn’t seem to be happening. We don’t know why she’s barfing. Well, we know it has to do with the chemo and other meds that she’s on, but we can’t figure out why the meds she’s on are not helping to keep it under control. I hate seeing her like this. I hate not being able to “fix” it for her. I hate having to push her to eat and trying to distract her from barfing. I hate that we are going through this. I hate that I’m crying. I hate……….. I hate cancer.

Today feels overwhelming…….because it is. And we have no choice…..we can’t just jump off this train, not even for just a moment. We have to carry on. And it’s hard……

And that’s all I’ve got.