36 Reasons I Love Being 36

This month I turned 36 years old. That sounds so weird to me, so I took a good hour to sit down and think about things I like about being 36 and also things I have learned.

Some of these are memories I love that I have, some are lessons that I’ve learned, and some are just good sense. And I can combine that many different things because after all, it is my list.

Mom and me. Due to the fire, I only have a handful of photos from my childhood. I found this one in a box in my living room. Thankfully, Mom had made us a box of old photos a few years ago.


1. I was there for the 80s…granted I was too young to understand it, but by golly I was there.

2. Free range childhood. No one used the word play date back then.

3. Swinging from vines in the forest.….That was part of the free range childhood.

4. 3 major bicycle injuries under my belt….Okay 1 was roller skates…There was the time my failed bike-stunt attempt resulted in me riding my bicycle up the front door, the time I flew downhill straight into a fence, and then the time I thought I could do some Nancy Kerrigan jumps in roller skates. Yeah. Lots of bleeding.

5. I’ve learned that People DO change with their life circumstances. For example, alphabetizing and re-alphabetizing, categorizing and re-categorizing my book collection…….That used to be me. Now I just shove them onto shelves. I can’t find any of my books at all, but the older I get the more responsibilities I have, and there is not time for perfecting. Priorities change.

6. The older I get, the less I care about what anyone thinks of me. (Mostly, no one’s thinking about me anyway!) If you are going to have a blog, you have to let go of that mess.

7. I’ve given birth 4 times, but actually that didn’t make me invincible or super-tough. It just means I’ve experienced a lot of things that can go wrong with child-birth, and I now know that all that matters in the end is delivering the baby safely. That’s right. Your birth plan does not impress me. Your living baby impresses me.

8. I finally know how to tame my own hair. 

First, I use a shampoo + conditioner twice. THEN I use conditioner. Whatever I do after that doesn’t matter so long as I use a straightening iron. If the air is cold and dry enough, I can skip the straightening.

9. I’ve learned that a degree or a trade of some kind is definitely worth having because life throws unexpected curves, and at some point you are going to need to make some money.

10. Mama Bear syndrome totally applies to humans. Do not mess with my kids. Do not mess with anyone’s children. In fact, there’s a Bible verse about that.

And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me. 6But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!…       Matthew 18:6-7

11. Having 1 child was a big adjustment. Having 2 children is much more difficult than having 1. Having 3 is way more work than having 2. Having 4 children almost killed me (the stress!), and having 5 children is something I will never be able to tell you about because I hit my medical, emotional, physical, and everything else limit at 4. But I love it. I love every single one of them more than anything in this world, and as far as I am concerned they are perfect. They are my happiest moments and thoughts.

12. I’ve been through depression before, a couple of times, and I now know what works for me to come out of it. The only way I know how to come out of it is to focus on serving other people, open all your blinds/curtains everyday, play upbeat music, pray on your face for help, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. And if it gets bad enough, you may have to take antidepressants.  I’ve taken them before, although for me it was actually for anxiety.

sharing my love of sea mammals, boats, and the Pacific Ocean with my children. They loved it.

13. It took me 24 years to realize that what I really wanted to be when I grew up was a mom. Anything else was just a bonus.

14. I’ve sent a husband off to war 3 times, and I know that if I have to, I can do it again. But man, I hope I never have to!

15. No one tells me how young I look anymore, but I’ve made my peace with that.

16. I’m not poor-skinny like I was at 20, but that’s fine. Poor-skinny is when you are underweight, and it’s because you actually are having to save money by eating less food. That’s what I did in college.  Happy people are not poor-skinny because happy people aren’t hungry.

17. I have tried about 5 different kinds of jobs that I didn’t like, but that doesn’t mean I’m flaky. It just means those weren’t my callings. Why live miserable? Move on and try something new.

Caleb and me on the flight out to California 3 years ago.

18. Living all over the country was the hardest thing bout the past 15 years, and yet it was the thing I LOVED most about the past 15 years. Living in a place takes traveling to another level. It gives you understanding of other places and cultures, and the amount that you learn is just mind-boggling.

19. I killed a snake. Sure, it was a tiny snake, but still. I, April, who is terrified of all creepy crawly things, killed a snake because I thought it was necessary to protect my offspring. See, I told you #10 is a very real thing!!

Caleb, creating snow angels in Virginia. He was 6.

20. Virginia got in my blood. Someday I want to go back. I felt like I was with my people there. I can’t explain it.

21. I don’t have to do nursery duty anymore, and that is so freeing for me. I don’t have to spend my entire week dreading Sunday because I know I have nursery duty. My arthritis saved me from signing up for this task that I never liked. I love babies, but nursery duty KILLS me. I am unable to sit in the floor, bend over tedious activities, and the younger the babies the more it hurts my back, my shoulders, my neck, my legs, EVERYTHING to hold them. It used to take me a couple of days just to recover from holding them.

22. My children possess completely different talents than I do, and I’ve learned to appreciate everyone’s different gifts. We learn so much from our children!

23. I love that Jesus saved my whole entire family, and now I’m watching each of my children, one at a time, become believers too.

photo courtesy of Stephanie DuBose

24. I fully embrace celebrations! I love good ol’ American holidays. So what if they’re “commercial”? Have some fun already. Life is short. The only one I have a hard time always embracing is Christmas because it’s so much work, and plane tickets are expensive, but I do it anyway.

I believe you should never be too righteous for fun. Did you know that most of the feasts and holidays set up in the Old Testament were actually invented by God? Celebrate!

25. I’m focusing more on listening to women who are older than me and have already done what I am doing. I have many mentors, and sometimes those mentors have no idea that I think of them as a mentor, but there is so much wisdom to be gained from people who have already done what we’re doing.

26. You can’t beat a mini-van for a family of 6. Sure, giant SUVs are hip, but they guzzle the gas, their doors don’t open with a button, and nothing is as practical or affordable as a mini-van.

27. I stop for garage sales. One should never pay full price for kids’ bicycle helmets, tennis rackets, bunk beds, or board games.

28. Peanut/cashew allergies are terrifying. Sometimes I wonder how he will survive, but then I remember that that’s what Emergency Rooms are for.

29. You know how some people feel about Windex? That it can fix everything? That’s how I feel about Benadryl. Miracle drug.

30. I have now been to Disney World twice and Universal Studios twice. This makes the little girl inside of me beyond happy.

31. Eventually skinny jeans will go out of style. Thank goodness because they are not flattering for me. I rarely wear them.

32. Home schooling: I came, I tried, and I can honestly say that it’s simply not for everyone. 

33. I love that I got to live in California for 2 years and see the incredible beauty that is Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean, Monterey, San Francisco, and sea mammals! I will always cherish my memories of seeing a whale feeding 10 feet off the shore. Splendor.

34. I have 4 boys. That’s definitely not something I’d have never dreamed of in my 20s!!! I can’t tell you the wonder and adventures we are having. I love it. Love, love, love it. And to think, I only had girl names picked out. Ha!


35. My marriage. I’m so thankful we both stuck it out together because our marriage is so much greater now, in our late 30s, than it was in our 20s or our early 30s.

36. I love the things about me that are still young. That’s something to be THANKFUL for. I don’t have to color my hair yet. Menopause is still 10 years off. My freckles help me look young, and I still have my morning energy. Gradually, these things will change, but today they are still mine.


We might as well enjoy life, right? It all goes by so quickly.

We might as well be happy with what we have because it is what we have. The grass may always be greener on the other side. Whatever. That probably just means they spend way too much money on fertilizer, which smells bad anyway!!! So it’s all good.

Oh yeah!!!! And in case you missed my most recent Facebook live video, about trying to learn how to use essential oils. Here it is!

Thanks for reading, y’all! Thank you for being a part of my first 36 years! Love y’all!




The Purification Cleanse and the “Frienemy” Drug


Me and my birthday salad: My friend Laura thought this up. I thought the tomato with the candle was so cute and original.

Today I’m on the 9th day of a 21 Day Purification Cleanse. This cleanse has made me feel young and energetic. Brain fog went out the door with the gluten. Pain from all the tendonitis was down to a 2 or a 3 most of the time. Life was good.

On days 1-10 of the cleanse you are only allowed to eat fruits, vegetables, quinoa, approved oils, and the protein shakes and supplements that come with the cleanse. I have been eating delicious smoothies, vegetarian vegetable soup, and salads.

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup

This soup was a life saver! Loved it! I made it with black-eye peas, lima beans, okra, turnip root, carrots, green beans, a pinch of salt, Rotel tomatoes, minced onions, minced garlic, black pepper, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Thyme, Oregano, and Basil. Why do I have this need to capitalize the spice names??

Then on day 7 I saw my cardiologist, and they put me on Rythmol. This is a serious drug to treat my ventricular tachycardia.

I took my first dose of it, in addition to the Inderal I was already taking Friday night. Saturday morning I woke up and realized that Rythmol and I were not going to get along. I felt horrible. I checked my blood pressure: low but not bad low. I figured I just needed to get used to the new medicine.

I took another full dose Saturday morning, and I spent the entire day in bed. My head is whoozy, nausea comes and goes, my chest occasionally feels tight, and the fatigue does not play.

By Sunday morning, I decided that you can’t pay me any money to take another whole dose of this medicine. I think they are trying too hard to help me. I felt much better just taking the Inderal. My PA wrote out instructions for me that said, “If the new drug gives you low blood pressure, cut the dose in half, and call the doctor.”

Done. That’s my new plan. I did research on Rythmol today on the internet. I didn’t like what I found. I have seen it described as a “last chance” drug and a drug for “life-threatening arrhythmias” because the side effects can be so bad, and in some people it can actually cause arrhythmias.

In fact, most of the sources said things like, “used to treat life threatening arrhythmias like ventricular tachycardia.”

(Sources: Slideshow, WebMD, MedicineNet.com)


My first thought is, “Am I missing something? I’m not THAT bad off.”

Have any of you ever taken this heart medication? I wonder if it gets better as your body gets used to it. They gave me this drug to help me, but I’m calling it my “frienemy” because I was finally feeling better before, and now I feel like I got ran over by, I don’t know, a bicycle or something. After all, it could always be worse.

I only took half of the Rythmol this morning, but I still felt nauseous, sluggish, and tired. My medication timer just went off, and I’m having this inner battle. There isn’t a single part of me that wants to take even one more half dose! I think I’ll skip it, y’all. It is nasty stuff.



My precious friend Cassie brought us this yummy-licious chicken and veggie dish. We loved it. Thank you, Cassie! I need this recipe!

I know I keep mentioning the cleanse but not fully explaining it. I’m sorry about that.

First, here’s the website: Standard Process

I found out about the cleanse from my chiropractor. He knew I’ve been having a hard time, so he recommended this. It’s supposed to help clear out inflammation while also helping you figure out what foods may be causing you reactions. You eliminate all of the classic food allergy or intolerance foods for 21 days: no eggs, gluten, grains, dairy, no added sugar, no preservatives. You try to eat as cleanly as you can, mostly organic.

My favorite breakfast “shake”: (I don’t know why they call it a shake. It’s dairy free. It’s a smoothie, people.)

-1 whole banana

-1 overflowing handful of frozen strawberries

-1 teaspoon of coconut oil (Yep!)

-2 scoops of protein mix from Standard Process

-1 scoop of Whole Food Fiber from Standard Process

-around 8 ounces of water

-about 5 giant spinach leaves                                                                                                                                                 —

SO GOOD!!!! (I never measure anything. I know. This is why I could never write a cookbook.)

I am the only one here doing this. The rest of the family is still getting plenty of meat and potatoes. Don’t worry.

I have felt WONDERFUL during the cleanse. Actually, I started feeling better even just from cutting gluten. I’m hoping that when I finish my 21 days, I can still stick mostly to only cutting gluten. I want my oats and cheese back!

OH! Also, I lost 5 pounds, but that was mostly because I felt too horrid to get out of bed and eat yesterday, thanks to the heart medication. Before that, I ate too much fruit to lose weight.

Glorious news for this week: 

Tuesday is day 11, and on day 11 you get to add meats!  Can’t wait!!!

Okay. This post made me hungry. Time for a “midnight shake”….


Daniel thinks that I am April O’Neil.

I have got to order this mini-chef his own apron!

I have got to order this mini-chef his own apron!

Today Daniel turned four. I asked him what kind of cake he’d like for his birthday. In the very early years of parenting, I always bought the boys grocery store cakes with characters on them. There were a couple of years I even tried to make super pretty cakes–Caleb had a really impressive train cake two years in a row.

But decorating cakes is a giant weakness for me. I’m just not good at it, so I resorted to buying grocery store cakes again and just sticking some toys on top of it.

This past year the boys became disillusioned with the grocery store cakes and started asking me to make their cakes. I make cakes all the time, but they are very simple and undecorated. I make the little round cakes. That’s what we like.

So I was expecting Daniel to ask for that too. Wrong.

“Me make my cake myself!”

“Oh! OKay, sure, Daniel.”

Alan took him to the store to pick the ingredients. St. Patrick’s Day stuff lurked everywhere, so Daniel gleefully chose GREEN cake, white icing. Pretty fun, huh?

He really likes to pour all the ingredients into the bowl and stir, so I let him do all of that. He normally helps crack eggs, but this recipe called for egg whites only, so I had to just let him watch that part.

He seemed very happy with it, so we were too. It actually turned out to be quite delicious!

The birthday boy was so happy tonight that it took him forever to go to sleep. Do you know what Daniel said to me tonight, as I tucked him into bed for the second time?

“Mom, what’s your name?”


“Like on the Ninja Turtles. You’re April. You know the Ninja Turtles,” he giggled, “Donnie. Ralph! You know Ralph, Mom! What’s he say, Mom? All the Ninja Turtles…”

He was so sleepy he was practically delirious, so I only understood every other word or so, but he was quite happy and excited to discover that his mother is none other than the famous April O’Neil.  I just smiled and told him good-night, as he went on and on and on about April and the turtles.

He had a great day. We all did. This morning I woke up to the sorts of sounds that send mothers straight into euphoria:

Caleb asked me, while I was still in bed, “Mom, would you like some coffee?”

“I would.”

Then I heard him asking Alan, down the hall, “Dad, can you show me how to make coffee? Mom wants some.”

I heard Joshua shout out, “I started a load of blacks!” (Laundry. I’ve told him they’re called darks and lights, but for some reason he says blacks. It’s sort of like when I tell him to say his times tables. Instead of saying “4 times 8”, he says “4 ‘x’ 8”. Try explaining it. I’ve given up.)

“Did you use laundry detergent?” Alan shouted back.

“What? Oops! Oh yeah!” he said as he ran back down. Hey, that’s okay. The boy is doing laundry.

It was not so hard to get out of bed this morning, thanks to these wonderful sounds.

Here are a few photos from our day:


Who wouldn't love a giant stuffed sea otter?

Who wouldn’t love a giant stuffed sea otter?

Caleb reading to JD make me so happy I just can't even begin to express it!

Watching Caleb read to JD makes me so happy I just can’t even begin to express it!

more because I'm obsessed

more because I’m obsessed

This is as good as it gets here. Dan was very happy.

This is as good as it gets here. Dan was very happy.

Alan found these number gummies to decorate Dan’s cake. Daniel is obsessed with writing numbers and letters everywhere right now, so he was delighted.

I have got to remember to take a picture of all of his little writings. He does really well with the letters we’ve worked on. A lot of the others look sort of like Hebrew or Arabic. It’s so adorable.

a brotherly birthday party

a brotherly birthday party

Something was exciting. I don’t remember what.

IMG_5155 IMG_5158

I love it when he has this look!

I love it when he has this look!


IMG_5162 IMG_5163 IMG_5164 IMG_5166



I’d better go. Donatello needs me to help him fight the Krang.

Yep. That’s me all right. 😉

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