I made the most disgusting dessert to ever be seen on this planet.

Strawberry almond tapioca pudding.

Of course, the kids loved it. It was their idea in the first place. I had made normal tapioca and was making a second batch with almond milk for Ava and next thing I know, the kids are begging and pleading with me to add strawberry powder to it. So, I did, and it was absolutely disgusting.

And of course, I forgot a few ingredients in the cupboards. I am the most inefficient cook there is. I end up going to the same cupboard six times to get things out, rather than making one trip.

Because I used strawberry powder in the unsweetened almond milk, I went ahead and skipped the three tablespoons of sugar that you’re supposed to add to the pot.

And of course, I rand out of regular tapioca. At first I was just frustrated, but then I realized I had the giant boba tapioca pearls that my neighbor left at my house forever ago. I figured I could grind them with my Magic Bullet to about the right size and it might work.

I ground it up a little bit smaller than it looks like in this picture. Lucky enough for me, it worked! It turned out like normal tapioca, even using the big boba pearls. Just be sure to grind it all down pretty small, otherwise you might end up with undercooked tapioca and that’s just gross.

So, just like regular tapioca, I added the whipped egg and put it in the refrigerator to cool. Of course, Maddi and Danny had to ask me every five minutes “Is it cool yet? Can I have some yet? Is it done yet? I want some, mom!” I wanted to gag just imagining how it would taste.

Thankfully little kids think that all sorts of disgusting things taste great. I don’t remember what it was, but there was something I was all excited to eat because I used to love it when I was a kid… Then I took a bite and it was disgusting. Thankfully my kids aren’t picky and are apparently immune to bad cooking. They loved the tapioca. Maddi and Danny even asked for seconds.

My poor kids, having to put up with my cooking.

I spent the last two hours dancing with Ava.

It started like any other one of her who-knows-how-many-hours-long-screaming-sessions… She was starting to get worked up. She was tightening, shrieking, turning red, screaming so loud her voice would disappear mid-scream… Lately, when she goes into this fits, I feel all sorts of things. I feel so much negativity when she starts these fits… So much that sometimes I feel like I can’t think. Sometimes I step out on the porch, just for a reprieve from the ear-splitting screams.

Dread. Fear. Anger. Frustration. Helplessness.

But this time, I just looked at her. I had set her down, feeling the tenseness creeping up into my own arms. The tenseness resulting from frustration. The kind of frustration that makes you want to scream. So I had set her down in a blanket, but this time, I just looked at her. Her little face was cherry red, crocodile tears spilling out of each eye, her hands shaking, her fingers grasping, reaching for who-knows-what. Her heart was broken, her world was ending, she was alone, and worst of all, she didn’t know why she felt the way she did. All she knew, was that those feelings were there and there was nothing she could do to stop them. And then I realized…

She’s just like me.

Her heart is broken and she doesn’t know why. She knows what she needs, but she doesn’t know how to ask for it, and she can’t put a name to it. Even though there’s someone right there she feels alone. Utterly and terribly alone. If she can’t see me, even for a split second, that aloneness turns into abandonment and desolation. Her heart is breaking and her body is reacting. She can’t help the tears. What started as something small, maybe even something minute and now obsolete, has now escalated into hopelessness and despair. That feeling is so overwhelming, so gut-wrenching, so awful, she shakes and sobs and cries out of desperation, out of longing for something, and finally out of defeat.

We’re feeling the same things. Though, we’re feeling those things for different reasons I’m sure, those deep, rooted emotions, and the literal feeling those emotions provoke… They are one in the same. She cries out, hoping for someone to save her, someone to rescue her from the overwhelming emotional turmoil, someone to help her. For her, there’s hope. For her, she believes and hopes that someone is there for her. Someone loves her and cares and will make it all better. I’ve been conditioned not to. When I cried out, I was often met with hostility, contempt, ridicule and amusement. Crying out was the Achille’s heel; nothing more than exposing my weakest point, offering myself up for humiliation and degradation.

It was at this moment, seeing her like this, that I realized how alike the two of us are. It was at this moment, seeing her in this light, seeing myself in this light, that I realize how damaging the way I was treated was to my future relationships. I realize how that treatment has affected me even now. I see how much it hurts, and I see how easy of a cycle it could be to continue.

I will never let her feel that way on my account. Regardless of why the pain is there, pain is pain, emotional, mental, physicial. She won’t be forced to internalize it out of fear of what I’ll say or do. She won’t be ridiculed and mocked for her sadness, her fear, her longing, her upset…

I just want her to have a better life than me.

So I picked her up. I held her close, and the two of us dance. We danced. I rubbed her hair, put my cheek to hers, and sung softly in her ear. I was there for her, and that won’t ever change. I held her like that for nearly two hours. My homework could wait. The cleaning could wait. Sleeping could wait. She needed me, and I wasn’t going to let her down.

Just her and I.

Honey and the moon.


Averly JoAnne Van Vleet was born on February 20th, 2011 at 3:56pm. She shares a birthday with her Great-Grandma Margaret. She weighed 6lbs, 14oz.

Averly JoAnne Van Vleet

I had a successful vaginal delivery after two cesareans. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t cheap. It took a lot of planning, and going the extra mile. I wanted it to happen, so I did everything I could to make sure it happened. And it did. My hard work paid off, and she came into the world without the use of scalpels, and without having to be gutted and turned inside out.

She was born on her own time, 100% naturally. No inductions. No pain medications. Just me, my baby, my body. If you want to read her birth story, you can find it here.

When I found out I was pregnant in June of 2010, I knew the birth wasn’t going to be typical. I knew right off the bat that I needed to start planning, and start researching. I had two prior cesareans, one in 2007 and one in 2009; both of which were not truly medically necessary …” READ MORE….

Ava’s birth was amazing. I don’t think I have ever felt so empowered, or so accomplished as when I gave birth to her. For the last few years, all I had had heard was “You can’t, ” “It’s too dangerous,” “You’re crazy,” “It will never happen,” “You’re wasting your time,” “Yeah right,” and “Just have another c-section.” There weren’t many people who believed in me, and there weren’t many people who supported me. My husband and a few close friends were the only cheerleaders on my team. My family took a neutral stance, and most everyone else had something negative to say.

But…

I did it.

I did something amazing. I achieved the “impossible” and I didn’t let them get to me. I’d be lying if I said their comments didn’t hurt, or if at times I didn’t wonder if maybe I really was crazy or if things would turn out horribly and it would be my fault… I had that paranoia. That fear.

But I kept on. I stuck with the facts and kept the statistics in mind. I wasn’t going to let them get to me. I read everything I could get my hands on, and I avoided people who had nothing but mean things to say to me. And it paid off.

I did it.

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