Ways to Live Forever: An Upcoming Movie Review

I have officially broken my cardinal rule about watching tv and movies that involve people dying or people having cancer or heaven forbid both.  But boy am I glad that I did.

Recently I was contacted by the World Wide Motion Pictures Corporation.  They had a great movie called “Ways to Live Forever” about a boy with leukemia being released in the near future and they needed our help  spreading the word about the film (seemingly based upon a best selling novel).  Now, considering my very strict rulemaster key poster, I was hesitant.  And then I watched a trailer.  I told them yes.  A resounding yes.  (By the way, this is not the official trailer which is currently being produced.)

The whole family sat down recently and watched the screener of this film.  It was wonderful.  And I cannot wait to tell you all about it, what we thought about it, and how it has inspired us in an upcoming episode of our webseries, “The Real Homeschoolers of the Boro”.

In the meantime, you can start learning more about the movie.  Some of the actors have recorded intro videos… learn more from Robbie Kay, Ella Purnell, and Alex Etel… three amazing child actors!  Expect more YouTube videos from the actors soon! See what others are saying about this amazing, uplifting film about life.  More reactions can be found at this link too.

My favorite thing about the film?  A portion of the proceeds for the film go toward various organizations such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and various children’s hospitals. My own business does this too so this is an act that is near and dear to my heart.

And check out these supporters of the film!

Start connecting with others about “Ways to Live Forever” by tweeting and following #liveforever.

Be sure to “like” the page on Facebook for up-to-date information!

If you are new to my blog, you can learn more about our leukemia journey here.

Connect with us for occasional updates on Hunter’s journey on Facebook!

And if you are a parent dealing with a sick child and you need someone to listen, I’m here.  Feel free to email me at shebrakes4rainbows at gmail.com.

You might also want to check out 33 Creative Ways to Help a Family With a Sick Child.  I have made available a downloadable pdf so that you can share it with family, friends, organizations, etc who might want to help your family.


I Hosted an all natural Gluten/Dairy Free Doctor Who Birthday Party on a Budget… and so can you!

Several months ago I “strewed” our Netflix queue with “Doctor Who” and waited for my daughter to watch it and become addicted.  Which is precisely what happened.  In a matter of weeks, she’d watched all 80 something episodes of the more current seriesvand I’d started TiVoing the new season for her.  She was totally hooked.  I knew she’d like it… because she’s smart and quirky and funny and geeky… just like every other fan of that show that I know.  What I didn’t know was how much she’d love it.  Or that I’d fall in love with it too.  So naturally, I loved the idea of hosting a Doctor Who birthday party when the girl brought it up to me.  I did not, however, love the idea of having to deal with the party right after Christmas but such is the luck when your child is born on New Year’s Day.

Having a New Year’s birthday, however, made for an interesting birthday party angle.  I sent Facebook invites encouraging everyone to join us as we stepped on the TARDIS and traveled forward in time to the year 2013 to celebrate Ronin’s 7th birthday.  Costumes were encouraged (sadly, no one came in a costume though we did have someone come in a handmade Doctor shirt which was awesome).

For Halloween, Ronin’s grandmother made her a TARDIS dress and TARDIS hat.  So, obviously, we pulled that back out for the party!  We also had a blue table cloth covered in silver star confetti, blue balloons, and blue and white candles which went on the largest, most perfect birthday cupcake for the special birthday girl.  The cupcakes on top were baked in a yellow cup and the ones on the two bottom shelves were baked in blue cups.  These color choices were used to symbolize the light on the top of the TARDIS and the bottom symbolized the TARDIS itself.  I made the TARDIS toppers myself… by printing out the TARDIS pictures on my printer and taping them to toothpicks.  So easy and so cheap!

TARDIS topped sonic screwdriver gluten free dairy free cupcakes.

TARDIS topped sonic screwdriver gluten free dairy free cupcakes.

Now I will share my recipe for the amazing cupcakes!

Gluten Free, Dairy Free “Sonic” Screwdriver (Orange) Yellow Birthday Cupcakes

  • 2 cups Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix (this mix has small amounts of milk in it… this recipe can easily be made dairy free if you used simply another gf basic baking mix that didn’t have milk in it)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 cup sugar (I used coconut)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Separate egg yolks from the whites. Whip the egg whites with a mixer until they form stiff peaks (I used a hand mixer).

In another bowl beat together butter, baking mix, and sugar. Beat at medium speed for 1 minute. Then add 1/4 cup milk, vanilla and orange extracts. Mix again at medium speed for one minute. Add remaining milk and egg yolks, and beat for an additional minute. Then fold in the stiffened egg whites.

Spoon batter into cupcake papers until they are just over half full. Bake for about 20-25 minutes.  Check the centers with a toothpick!

I topped them with a simple vegan cream cheese icing.

Amy is waiting by the TARDIS for the Doctor (who arrived after the party was over).

Amy is waiting by the TARDIS for the Doctor (who arrived after the party was over).

Finding decorations and party favors for the party was a lot of fun!  My daughter and I spent some time making blue beaded bracelets for each guest.  We printed out a color sheet of the TARDIS for everyone to color while they watched the scene where the 11th Doctor met Amy Pond.  Most of the children in attendance didn’t know anything about the Doctor and his companion so I did some relatively simple explaining and let the scenes speak for themselves.

There are so many Doctor Who color sheets available online!  Every guest received one when she arrived.

There are so many Doctor Who color sheets available online! Every guest received one when she arrived.

Of course, we had to serve Doctor-related snacks in addition to the cupcakes.

What Doctor Who party is complete with out (gluten free) fish sticks and (vegan) custard?

What Doctor Who party is complete with out (gluten free) fish sticks and (vegan) custard?

Gluten free fish sticks are costly.  But vegan vanilla pudding makes for a perfectly acceptable and tasty “custard”.  🙂

All natural and gluten free

All natural and gluten free “ginger companion cookies”.

Of course we had to serve something in honor of Amelia Pond.  These ginger cookies did quite nicely.

The Doctor would have hated these apples with this yogurt dip.

The Doctor would have hated these apples with this yogurt dip.

The yogurt dip was amazing.  So Delicious Coconut Vanilla yogurt with agave and some lemon juice.  Perfection!

Not pictured here but I did serve a Doctor inspired drink.  We aren’t big on sodas in our house. In fact, the only ones allowed are by a brand called Zevia and since they are quite costly, we rarely buy them at all.  But for this special occasion, we served Mulled Doctor Zevia from the crock pot.  Here is a recipe for mulled Doctor Pepper.  I wasn’t crazy about it to be honest.  But it was still fun to have a Doctor drink!

Of course, the highlight of the party were the games!  Whovian or not, the kids all loved to

Pin the Bow Tie on the Doctor

Pin the Bow Tie on the Doctor


play Weeping Angel Freeze Tag

play Weeping Angel Freeze Tag

Don't blink!

Don’t blink!

While I cannot take credit for the idea of Weeping Angel Freeze Tag, I will happily explain my own version that I created to fit the needs for the party.  Originally I had planned to use our (dark) garage but it was being occupied by a sleeping daddy so I made up my own version.  Each Weeping Angel had to stand in a laundry basket which kept them in one spot.  They could move around in the basket, reaching with arms and torso, but they had to stay in the basket.  With Doctor Who music playing in the background, the kids each tried to escape being touched by the creepy kid in the mask.  This kept them very entertained for much longer than I ever imagined possible!  Lots of laughter and exercise!  Fun was had by all!  Print your own Weeping Angel mask here.

A happy happy bunch of Whovians!

A happy happy bunch of Whovians!

Despite having no idea what any of this stuff was in reference to, I believe Ronin’s girl friends enjoyed themselves.

Mother and Daughter:  Geeks, Whovians, Same dimple

Mother and Daughter: Geeks, Whovians, Same dimple and crooked smile.

Such a great group of kiddos!  We love them all!

Such a great group of kiddos! We love them all!

Thanks for time traveling  into the future with us!  Happy New Year and Happy 50th Anniversary to Doctor Who!

And an extra special thank you to all of the Secret Santas who helped make this a particularly timey wimey holiday season for my daughter.  You. Are. Amazing.

Most of the Doctor Who loot from Christmas and birthday.  Lucky Whovian.

We ❤ being a part of this fandom!

Gluten Free Lemon Mixed Berry Muffins

Last week my sweet friend Pat blessed me with several organic Meyer’s lemons.  I don’t believe I’d ever had a Meyer’s lemon before but man, let me tell you, I am loving them!  I made a raw lemon coconut cream pie, some raw peach lemon coconut ice cream, some lemony green beans, and finally, I created these little beauties.  So, without further ado, I’m going to tell you how to make these fantastic muffins.

Gluten Free Lemon Mixed Berry Muffins

(these would be dairy free but there is milk in the Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix… we won’t be buying the Pamela’s anymore and we’ll be trying some new gluten free basic all purpose mixes that don’t include milk… but for now we have to use this stuff up.)

2 cups all purpose gluten free baking mix (I used Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix)

1/3 cup coconut oil (of course you can use butter here but since we are cracking down on dairy, we are even limiting butter, sadly)

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons of milk (I used coconut)

1/2 cup sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw but I bet about 1 tablespoon of stevia would work well too)

1 egg (and here I added an extra egg yolk leftover from dinner the night before so you can do that too if you’d like)

1 tsp of vanilla

the zest and juice of one organic lemon (and again, I used Meyers)

3/4 cup organic mixed berries (I used the frozen ones in a bag from Trader Joe’s… chopped them before I added them)

Preheat oven to 350º.  Combine all ingredients (except for berries) in a large bowl. Fold in the berries. Spray or grease muffin tin and  spoon batter into muffin tin, leaving a little room at the top.

Bake for 22-25 Minutes.  Test with a toothpick to make sure they are done!  This recipe will  make about a dozen muffins.  They will not last long though so make sure to cool them in a secret location and them place them in a container in the refrigerator if you intend to keep them until the next day.  I made them for early morning tutoring and co-op breakfasts.

Here’s what the kids had to say about them.

“They were really good.” -Hunter

“Pretty good.”-Drayken

“They were really good.  I really like ’em.”

Gorgeous Gluten Free Beauties!

Gorgeous Gluten Free Beauties!

16 Ways to Be Mistaken for 16 (even though you are 35)

One Saturday last fall, my oldest son and I were browsing at a local art’s festival.  Hunter was asking a few questions about a painting of a cat he wanted and the artist, an older man, made the comment that I couldn’t possibly be his mother.  He said that there was no way I was old enough to have a kid Hunter’s age because I could not possibly be older than 16.  Now folks, I’ve been mistaken for 19 numerous times.  I have been assumed to be my childrens’ nanny upon countless occasions.  But 16?  Less than half my real age?  This was a new thing for me.  I doubt most of my well-into-their-30s peers have been mistaken for a high schooler too often in the past decade so I figure that I must hold the secret to youth.  I have taken the time to compile a list of tips (in no particular order) for how to remain young.  Utilize this list and maybe you, too, will be mistaken for 16 soon.  Gross, right?  It’s a new year and apparently I have all of the answers.  So if “Regaining your youth” is one of your goals for 2013, looks like you are in luck.

16.  Eat Healthy Foods.  The greatest way to remain young is to remain healthy, right?  And how better to do that than to fill your plates with delicious foods that are good for you.  Some of my favorite healthy foods are pomegranate, coconut oil, kale, ghee, and kim chee.  This doesn’t mean you can never treat yourself.  I eat plenty of chocolate.  In fact, we run a chocolate business called Ridiculous Chocolate and trust me, I nibble my fair share and then some.  But you will never catch me eating a Snickers bar.  I like to keep all of my food clean, especially my treats!

Some people believe it was the pomegranate and not the apple with which Eve tempted Adam.  Both fruits tempt me :)

Some people believe it was the pomegranate and not the apple with which Eve tempted Adam. Both fruits tempt me 🙂

15.  Take Vitamins.  I take targeted supplements every day.  Without them, I do okay.  But I don’t want to do okay.  I want to feel great.  Mostly so that I can keep up with the three kids running around my house all day every day.  Some of the supplements I take that I think everyone should take include a good quality multivitamin, high doses of Vitamin D, and an adrenal supplement.

I still take the prenatals even though I am finished reproducing.

I still take the prenatals even though I am finished reproducing.

14.  Avoid the News.  I know that some children were brutally shot and killed on December 14th but I could not tell you much more than that.  I learned after September 11th that watching the news was toxic.  It’s not that I don’t care.  It’s just that watching the news and digesting all of that sludge is really toxic to my body, mind, and spirit.  So I skip it.  And I pray. I find it’s the only way that my super intuitive and empathetic self can survive in this ridiculous world.

13.  Watch kids’ tv and comedy.  That’s right.  While you are avoiding the news, tune in to some stuff that will make you laugh.  Now, what makes you laugh may not be the same things that make ME laugh but that is not important.  I happen to crack up over “iCarly”, “Parks and Recreation”, “30 Rock”, and “Community”.  You may like to laugh at other things.  And that’s okay.  What is important is that you laugh.  And take a little time off from thinking so hard.

Jerry (Gary?) wants you to take a little time to have a little fun.

Jerry (Gary?) wants you to take a little time to have a little fun.

12.  Keep up with viral videos.  No self-respecting adult would know anything about “The Annoying Orange” or Glozell‘s crazy challenges, right?  Wrong.  Funny stuff is not just found on television and movies these days, folks.  Funny stuff is on the internets too.  And laughing keeps you young.  Here is one of our favorite viral videos:

11.  Pay attention to pop music.  I listen to Top 40 radio.  There are some songs that are currently popular which make me extremely happy every time I hear them.  Such songs include “Call Me Maybe“, “Home“, “Some Nights“, and above all, “Gangnam Style“.  No, I do not find these songs to be annoying.  Or lacking in real music.  Or lacking in depth.  They are happy happy songs which bring a smile to my face, a warm feeling to my heart, and often times, they get my feet to dancin’.  They are fun songs.  And fun is important.  It keeps you young.  I swear it really does.  Just see for yourself.

10.  Get a piercing.  But only if you truly want one.  I remember telling my parents that I wanted my nose pierced when I was 16. My dad said no.  I never stopped wanting a nose ring.  When I was 29, I finally broke down and got that darned nose ring.  Much to my husband’s dismay.  According to him, with a nose piercing, I am “hideous to look at”.  But life is short and it was something that I had wanted for half of my life.  So, I had to do it.  I just had to.  And I love it.  So much.

9.  Cool shoes.  If you want to be mistaken for a teenager, the best shoes to sport are Converse.  I could say, today, that Toms are a popular young person shoe but that shoe may not be popular next year so I will not advise that one purchase that brand if you want your youthful look to last longer than a few months or years.  I personally only like to buy new shoes ever 15 or so years it seems. However, Converse sneakers are always in style.  And they always scream, “Hey, I’m a hip young person.” Even if the person wearing them is 60 they are automatically scoring cool points because of their shoes.  And cool=young, right?  I’ve been wearing Chucks since high school (and would have worn them sooner but I didn’t have the money to buy them).  They are my dress up shoes.  They are what I usually wear on my feet to church.  Yeah.  That.  And look, you can design your own Converse now!

8.  Long hair.  Now that I’ve stopped coloring my hair, I’ve found that the best way to make my hair look young is to wear it long.  No short mom cuts for me.  Instead I’m sporting an untreated, unwashed, unbrushed mop of mousy brown strands that reach my lower back.  But darn it, my hair makes me look young.  So yay?

7.  Clothing.  Typically I’m wearing my t-shirts (most recently I rotate between my B-52’s shirt and my “Big Bang Theory” shirt) and long skirts.  You will not find me in heels, panty hose, dress slacks, or anything that needs ironing or dry cleaning.  I used some of my Christmas money to buy a pair of orange cords and a Doctor Who shirt.  People automatically assume I’m in high school or college simply because of my wardrobe.  So I guess it’s working out for me.  😉

6.  Skip the makeup.  I don’t wear it.  Ever.  I have some tinted lip glosses but otherwise, the only time I’ve worn makeup since my wedding was when I was in a play recently.  I don’t even own the stuff.  Not only does the lack of makeup make me look young but it contributes to my continuing to look young.

5.  Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.  My mom never took care of her skin and she smoked so she didn’t look 16 when she was 35.  I knew I didn’t want to be like her when I grew up (as in, I want to live longer than 57 years and be healthy mentally and physically while I am here).  Because I wanted to avoid her fate, I started looking for guidance from others at a really early age.  At 13, I started to worship Kate Pierson and I would read anything that was written about her.  I learned that she enjoyed green tea and was a vegetarian (she isn’t anymore, for the record), so I embraced those types of habits.  I learned about skin care from two different places… a fictional drag queen and an older lady from the health food store.  In the film “To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar”, Patrick Swayze’s character tells his young female friend that she must, “moisturize, moisturize, moisturize”.  From that day on, I did.  And when I was 28 and I went into the health food store to find a new, all natural moisturizer, the lady behind the counter who had lovely skin told me to use jojoba oil.  So I did.  And I still do.  But I mix it up.  I have an organic night cream that I use a couple times a week.  I use coconut oil a lot.  And occasionally I have vitamin E oil on hand as well.  I guess my “beauty products” are working nicely because people comment on my skin all of the time.


Coconut oil is great for a lot of things, including moisturizing your skin.

4.  Act Crazy.  Sometimes it’s important to do crazy things, even though you are old.  I’m not talking about getting drunk and driving around.  Or dropping acid.  What I’m talking about it occasionally taking that extra money that was given to you for Christmas and splurge on some orange cords and a Doctor Who shirt you’ve been eyeballing (yes, I already mentioned this…it was just that exciting for me).  Or walking through the mall talking like Lumpy Space Princess with your children.  Or backstage at the theater where you and your son are doing a play busting out in some Gangnam Style or telling your story about going to Honey Boo Boo’s house.  Most of us have to act like a grown up way too often.  It’s good for your mental health to just let down your guard and act a fool once in a while.  Or in my case, several times a day.

3.  Keep Creating (or start creating).  We are all artists.  God made us in His image and since He was the most amazing artist of all, we are all artists.  We are all creating things, even if we don’t realize that it’s art.  If you were an artist back when you were young, you are still an artist.  And it’s never too late to start learning new skills.  Whatever you want to do, whatever you feel like making, it’s okay!  That’s up to you.  But you have a responsibility to keep creating whatever it is that God gave you the ability to create.  For me, it’s writing, acting, and hopefully comedy.  I’m currently working on stand up and a play.  And I’m about to interview for my very first talent agent.  I’m not playing around!  I’m also really creative in the kitchen and so food is a part of my art.  There is no wrong way to make or do art.  Just make sure you are doing it.

2.  Exercise.  Now, I must admit that right now, currently, this week, exercise has lost in the battle for my attention.  I try.  I really do.  But when I am exercising, you won’t find me doing any workouts that I consider to be boring or hard.  I stick with what I think is fun.  Dancing and running.  Yoga and “Classical Stretch”.  Walking in the neighborhood.  That’s about it.  Find some exercise you like and try to stick with it.  Exercise a lot.  And then take breaks if you want.  But always go back to it.  And I think that I *may* be hooked on hooping.  That would be a good thing.

1.  Have fun.  The most important item on this list is FUN.  I cannot stress this enough.  I strive to make sure that my life is filled with fun.  I enthusiastically embrace fandoms such as “Doctor Who” and “The Big Bang Theory”.  I watch funny movies and tv shows, I read funny books, I write comedy, I go out with my girl friends, I do improv, I do theater, I hang out with my kids and act like an idiot with them daily… I am constantly having a blast.  And I think it’s the fun that is primarily responsible for keeping me young.

Now that you know my 16 secrets for looking 16 at 35, please share your secrets for youth.  What do you do that helps you stay young?