Friday, January 30, 2009

the Martha syndrome

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"

41"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." --Luke 10:38-42 (NIV)

I think I tend more toward Martha than Mary. And that may be quite an understatement.

It's not that I keep a pristine home (contrary to what I might say in "Not me!" Monday). In fact, I too can tend a bit toward entropy, at times. I have my little piles, my pockets of utter disorganization. And while I enjoy having things tidy, I ask you not to look too closely at my baseboards when you come to my house.

But sometimes there is a tendency to take on the mantle of a martyr. At times the sheer volume of that for which I'm responsible weighs down on me. It is easy to point a finger and start to compare. Who has the most duties? Which duties outweigh other duties? What is fair? I so easily find myself embroiled in these little battles within myself. Loving, but complaining. Longing to be good at my position as keeper of the home, yet finding it more difficult than I had ever imagined. As though I am trying to run in waist-deep water. Feeling outnumbered, under-appreciated, and worst of all, undermined.

And yet (there always seems to be one of those, doesn't there?) let's listen to what the Lord says: "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed."

So often I let myself become bogged down with the details of my life. Not that many of those details aren't worthy of attention. I believe that I should strive for an orderly home, a place of comfort and peace for my husband and children. A haven from the world out there. And I still think that taking the time to prepare real, nourishing food is well worth the effort. There are so many worthy pursuits.

But Jesus says "...only one thing is needed."

And what is that one thing? What was Mary doing that was so praiseworthy? She "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."

May I never lose sight of where I am to be looking. Of to Whom I am to keep my ears attuned, and where I am to stay: at His feet. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing. He is above all of it. He is the One to work for and to please, and the truly worthy One.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

our homeschool

Here are a few photos of Benjamin and Kyle doing their school work. This is Ben writing his numbers on the chalkboard...
Kyle tracing (a dinosaur)... this is his favorite activity, aside from snack!

Benjamin doing banana slicing... (practical life)

And yes, more dinosaur tracing!

If you're wondering how it's going, the answer is...I'm not sure. We started off with great anticipation, and good attitudes, but lately morale has been flagging a bit...mine as well as theirs. I really love the Montessori method, but I'm not sure if I am really able to do it properly at home. And I think I need to get some materials that are a bit more advanced, for my kindergartner. One of my biggest fears is that Benjamin will think this is a sham, not a real school, that I'm trying (and failing) to imitate an honest-to-goodness classroom.

I'm not giving up, though! Yes, it's been a discouraging week, but I am loving the idea of homeschooling more and more (with the exception of wondering how I'll ever have an appointment or be able to run an errand without bringing the whole crew). We just haven't found our groove yet. So, I shall keep on seeking the groove.

Most exciting of all is that we've joined a local homeschooling co-op. It's just getting started,and there will be Friday school for eight weeks, beginning at the end of February. There's a kindergarten class (Ben), a preschool class (Kyle), and there will be a nursery for Owen. I am signed up to help in a class for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders, called "Walk the Plank." It is a class about pirates. My boys are going to be so jealous of me! And I'm really excited to get plugged in to a local network, and to make friends who are also homeschooling. I can't wait.

ETA: I am really annoyed at how Picasa3 and Blogger are cooperating lately. I'm sorry if my pictures are sometimes missing. Believe me, I'm as frustrated as you are...

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


1) Kyle telling about how his Sunday school story was about John the "Bath-tizer."

2) Ben talking about "Deevi-ana Jones" (AKA, Indiana Jones) -- the newest game they're crazy about playing on the Wii.

3) Kyle, hollering from the bathroom, "Ben? Are you clearing your place? Or are you playing the Wii? Are you clearing the table? What? No? Oh. Okay. I just wanted to know if you were playing the Wii yet or not...."

4) Jeff and the boys working on memorizing the 23rd Psalm. Is there anything more precious than the sound of one's children reciting Scripture?

Monday, January 26, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Aaaaaaaaand, here we go again, with "Not me!" Monday, as created by the creative and groovy MckMama at My Charming Kids. Hold on tight!

I did not work my tail off this week, trying to get my house in viewing order for any prospective buyers. I didn't organize closets, scrub floorboards, sweep, mop, clean bathrooms, do toilet patrol (lest my children neglect to flush), obsessively pick up toys, followed by sweeping and mopping again. Because, as we've established, I keep my home in pristine order. Every second of every day. I am a model housewife, you know!

Speaking of prospect house buying...Jeff and I did not go house shopping this week. And if we had, we certainly wouldn't have let ourselves fall in love with the third house we visited. Because, after all, if you don't have a buyer yourself, you definitely shouldn't get too attached to any particular future home.

Also, I do not sit up at night fantasizing about how I would arrange furniture in said house. Nor do I daydream about how lovely it would be to cook in that marvelous kitchen...

I did not cry during Rick Warren's prayer while watching the Presidental inauguration on TV. Nope, not me! I am not at all apprehensive about what the future may hold for our country, and that prayer would certainly not have reduced me to a sniffling little puddle. No way.

Definitely didn't ask Benjamin to watch Owen for a few minutes early on Friday morning, and come back downstairs to find Owen playing on the floor while Ben sat on the couch looking through the newspaper. It didn't totally crack me up! And he was not super pleased that he kept recongizing Barack Obama's face on nearly every page.

I'm on a roll here!

I did not let my 3-year-old son go to church this week in two different brown dress shoes, which may or may not have been for the same foot. Nope, not me! Because I take pride in my children's appearance, and I definitely wouldn't have let him walk out of the house like that. Even if it was Jeff's elder meeting Sunday (when he leaves early), as well as a day that I needed to be at church at 8:30 AM, and leaving the house is always crazy on those mornings when I'm in a hurry and herding the children without the assistance of my husband. Certainly not.

Speaking of taking pride in one's appearance, I for sure didn't go to church myself wearing a charcoal-colored winter coat which was sporting a gigantic spit-up stain. Are you kidding? That would be gross. And if Owen had nailed the coat earlier in the week, I certainly would have (1) gotten it cleaned, or (2) not opted to wear it instead of my camel-colored corderoy jacket, only because it matched my outfit better. I mean, what kind of behavior would that be?

And last but not least, it is not my friend Sara H.'s birthday today, and a little birdie did not tell me that she reads my blog. Oh wait, maybe it is, and the birdie did. At any rate, Happy Birthday, Sara! I hope that your day is utterly fantastic!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

oh fudge

It's a happy, happy day when this chocolate-craving girl with a sweet tooth can make (and enjoy) some fudge without compromising her principles. This stuff is yummy! And it contains absolutely no refined sugar.

If you'd like a peek at the recipe, click here.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

the next move

I know you've been on the edge of your seat since I alluded to something mysterious, which brought on a scramble, in my last "Not me!" Monday post. Well, the time has come to put you out of your misery. To end the torture. To release your imagination from it's wonderings. To...okay, I'll get on with it. If you insist.

Oh, the sign was a dead giveaway? Ah. Yes indeed...we have put our house on the market. After seven very interesting years in our first (owned) home, we are ready to seek greener pastures...and more room. This itty bitty living space just isn't going to fly for much longer. With three strapping boys (though of various levels of strappiness) and possibly more children in the future (the future, people! we're talking hypothetical here! we're talking if-the-Lord-wills-it!)...well, more space is definitely in order.

And no,we did not have a new home in mind when we determined to sell this one. Yet...we found one last night. In our minds, in our feeble human understanding, it is very nearly perfection. But we're trying to be patient while we wait for God to send a buyer to us. Will you join us in praying for a buyer? Because before we can move on, we must sell this:

Thank you so much!

Posted by Picasa


Kyle: Ben, will Jesus die?

Ben: [pause] I don't know if Jesus will die. Mom, will Jesus die?

Me: Well, Jesus already died, remember? He died on a cross. But, He will never ever die again.

[pause, while they think this over]

Kyle: Mom, when did Jesus die on a cross?

Me: A long, long time ago. Before there were cars, or light switches, or dishwashers...

Ben: ...before there were even restaurants?

Kyle: Mom, did Jesus cry when there were no restaurants?

Me:, I doubt He ever cried about restaurants.

Ben: But when did Jesus die?

Me: A long time ago...about 2000 years ago!

Ben: Two thousand years ago! Kyle, Jesus died a long time before we were even born. [with great surprise] Maybe even...twenty years ago!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Two years ago
you slipped away
Little by little
And I? I lingered, between despair and hope

God alone saw the moment when
your spirit flew
I (your mother) could not hold you back
Though I prayed for you to stay

So that I could know you.
Hold you.
Soothe. Rock. Tend.
Mother you.

But still you flew away
To a different destiny
Than I had hoped

I know you're loved.
Held. At peace.
I know you'll have no tears
No regret
No pain
Never a broken heart

But I still miss you.

Monday, January 19, 2009

say it isn't so

There's a rumor going around...

...that Daddy thinks that a certain boy

...needs a haircut.

You don't think so, do you?

No, of course you don't! I didn't think so.

Posted by Picasa

"Not me!" Monday

Here I am, ready for another week of "Not me!" Monday, as created by MckMama at My Charming Kids. Won't you consider joining me in my weekly confessions? It's very cathartic, you know. I'll let you think it over.... As for today: hold on tight, here we go!

For one thing, I am so not a comment junkie. I could not care less if people don't comment on my blog posts. Because, why would I care? I would be just as content putting messages into little glass bottles and tossing them out to sea...

Speaking of my blog, I definitely didn't write a post pretty much entirely about a nightmarish trip to the grocery store. Because my darling offspring could never make anything nightmarish, and every outing with them is an utter delight. And if it weren't, I certainly wouldn't publish it for everyone and their Uncle Joe to read about.

During our recent sunshine-y weather, I definitely didn't forget to suggest that my boys play outside. Because I always remember at that crucial moment that children need fresh air and Vitamin D, and my kids certainly would never choose to play with the Wii instead of heading out for some good old-fashioned playing in the dirt.

I for sure don't consistently wash, dry, and hang up my husband's clothes in the laundry closet downstairs, leaving them there to slowly grow in number as his closet empties. And he certainly doesn't often have to kiss me goodbye upstairs, minus a work shirt or a pair of Dockers, only to creep downstairs and seek out clean clothes in the laundry closet. Nope, not me! I would never be so disorganized or forgetful. I am a model wife, you know!

Speaking of (dis) organization, we definitely didn't spend a good part of the weekend scrambling to try to get our house in order. Because I'm the kind of housekeeper who always keeps things spic & span, and would be ready for any occasion. (The impetetus for this alleged scrambling shall be revealed at a later date...) So we certainly would never be in that position. Certainly not.

And I'm still not totally digging all these italics!!

Friday, January 16, 2009

sugar alternatives

Since I've had a few questions, I thought I'd give a run-down of some of the sugar alternatives out there, and how well they work in certain foods. These are taken from Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions, an awesome book. I encourage you to check it out for yourself!

1) Raw Honey: Raw (not heated above 117 degrees) has natural enzymes which aid in in digestion (especially grains) and also has nutrients from plant pollens. It does not raise blood sugar levels as much as refined sugar.
Especially good in: sweetening oatmeal and retains its healthful properties best when not heated.

2) Maple Syrup: It's rich in trace minerals.
Especially good in: baked goods, cream-based desserts

3) Rapadura: This is dehydrated cane sugar juice (whole sugar), and it is rich in minerals (especially silica). It behaves very similarly to sugar in food preparation, and has a great flavor.
It's important not to overdo this sweetener, as it can alter blood sugar levels as badly as sugar.
Especially good in: cookies & cakes (I've also used it to make chocolate chips, and it worked beautifully)

4) Stevia Powder: This powder is made from an herb native to South America. Use sparingly: a pinch of stevia is as sweet as a spoonful of sugar. A problem with this sweetener is that is adds no bulk, thus it does not work well in baked goods.
Especially good in: salad dressings, smoothies, whipped cream & pie crusts.

5) Date Sugar: This is made from dehydrated dates ~ very nutritious! However, it does not dissolve well (will not work in many desserts).
Especially good in: oatmeal (I would like to add that I have a wonderrul cookie recipe that calls for date sugar, and I am dying to try it. I'll let you know how it goes)

6) Molasses: Molasses is a by-product of refined sugar. It can contain many minerals.

7) Malted Grain Syrups: Usually made from barley. It is low in fructose.

8) Sorghum Syrup: This syrup is made from a grain. Ittcontains B vitamins and irom, calcium, and phorsphorus.

9) Naturally Sweetened Jams: Jams sweetened with dehydrated sugar cane juice are much preferred to fructose or high fructose coryn syrup.

.......And a couple which Sally Fallon does not address.......

10) Agave Syrup: This syrup is the sap of the agave plant (which I believe is kind of cactus). It has a low glycemic index, which is a huge plus in my book. A drawback, however, is that it is high in fructose. I have read that it has a variety of uses: I have used it in a crunchy apple salad, and it was outstanding.

11) Brown Rice Syrup: Made from cooking brown rice and then evaporating most of the water, this syrup is said to have a caramel-like flavor and can be used in a variety of products. I haven't used it yet, but I have some and plan to use it soon.

12) Coconut Sugar: I have not tried this yet but hope to some day. This "sugar" is made from the sap of coconut flowers. The sap is then boiled down into various forms: paste, granulated, or rock. It has a low glycemic index and has the advantage of being a traditional sugar. I find this sugar very exciting!

So there you have it. There are more sugars out there, but these are the ones I've either (a) tried, (b) want to try, or (c) have heard really good things about. I hope this has helped to answer any questions you might have had.

I don't know about you guys, but I find this stuff so exciting!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

it's in the Bible, so it must be true

Psalm 127

A song of ascents. Of Solomon.
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
its builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the watchmen stand guard in vain.

2 In vain you rise early
and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
for he grants sleep to [a] those he loves.

3 Sons are a heritage from the LORD,
children a reward from him.

4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one's youth.

5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.


We had such a great morning this morning. Benjamin and Kyle diligently chose and performed their work. They sat calmly when they had their snack. Owen didn't insist on being in the middle of everything so physically today. The older boys did math, painting, paper cutting, book work, and then together we worked on making cookies for Bible study tonight. I was able to talk with Ben about fractions (this is 1 cup, this is a 1/2 cup...and explain what that means), and we all worked really nicely together. It was a really lovely morning.

And then? We left the house.

I was actually excited to go. For one thing, I love grocery shopping. I'm not quite sure why...possibly my fixation on food? the brightly-colored packages? the feeling of well-being and of securing goods for my family? Whatever the case, I do. And now that I'm focusing on foods that are nourishing, grocery shopping is even more fun for me. There are so many possibilities! Also, I'm really enjoying my cooking adventures in the kitchen these days, adventures which are made possibly largely through visits to the grocery store.

Plus, we'd had a great idea! The store we were going to is twenty minutes away, and because of Owen's nap, and other factors, we didn't end up leaving until really late in the morning. So? We decided to do lunch! I love eating at that particular store ~ it's a (mostly) natural foods store, and the deli is delicious.

The trouble started when my oldest son dropped his pizza on the floor. We hadn't even made it to the table yet. And although we got it cleaned up, and a store employee actually came and got us another slice, free of charge (they are so nice there! it is the friendliest store in town) was pretty much downhill from there.

"Inside voices," I reminded. "Please don't kick your brother." "Stay beside the cart, please." "Do NOT touch that display of glass bottles!" "I hear that Kyle is asking you to stop. Please listen to his words." "Walking feet!" It seemed that the 6-year-old was going a bit deaf, and the 3-year-old argued with every move I made, even more I finished making it.

And so, nearly three hours after we had left our home, we returned. We returned victorious, for we now had food. Fruit, vegetables, meat, coconut milk ice cream, eggs...all the essentials, and a few others. But I also came home with a gaping hole in my heart. Weary, cranky. Thinking that I would happily pack at least two of my children off with the highest bidder.

I hate feeling so upset with my kids. I despise being angry with them. But going to the grocery store with the three of them leaves me feeling like I've just completed an obstacle course.

They're young. Of course they're young. And they had been exceptionally well-behaved all morning. Maybe I expected too much of them. Maybe we took too long. All the same, I am not eager to take them shopping again anytime soon.

Upon our return home, the boys went upstairs for "quiet" time, and I sought out my Bible. The passage at the top is what I found. And I found myself thinking "I don't really feel very rewarded right now. I am not feeling much blessed at the moment." And I wondered how I will ever be able to run a simple errand if the Lord grants us a really full quiver.

And yet-- I suspect that this is the part where I am to remain steadfast and faithful. To place it all at His feet, and pray that He will make something beautiful out of what often seems like a mess. To ask that He grant me more patience, and less caring for what the lady in Aisle 7 thinks of me.

And to keep praying. Day and night. Praying that these little hooligans I've been entrusted with, these precious, tender hearts, will one day grow up to be strong men of God, loving husbands and fathers...a rich heritage to cherish.

Like arrows in the hands of a Warrior.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

first day of school: homeschool

Today was our first day of homeschool! The boys were excited, and so was I. People must have been praying, because it went pretty well. Speaking of praying, when Benjamin prayed at breakfast, he asked God to help our first day of homeschooling to be fun. What a way to start the day!

I am afraid I may have to tweak the selection of work to keep up with my brilliant kindergartner, but we're all learning as we go here...

To give you a taste of our day, here is said kindergartner doing some easel painting
...and Kyle enjoying his time at the snack table...

Ben's Practical Life portion of the morning: food preparation
Kyle working on the Teen Beads
Posted by Picasa

a book giveaway!

I just found yet another blog that I'm really enjoying, Passionate Homemaking. The surface has barely been scratched as far as reading her posts goes, but I've read enough to be confident that I like subject content...a lot.

Through this Friday (January 16th) Passionate Homemaking will be taking entries for a book giveaway. Ten copies of "Practicing Hospitality" by Pat Ennis and Lisa Tatlock will be given away. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Believers can uniquely dis­play God’s love as they extend hospitality…Food and other ele­ments are merely tools used to express our love for people. Our moti­va­tion for being hos­pitable women is a response to God’s work in our lives. Hos­pi­tal­ity is one way we can tan­gi­bly demon­strate our love for God.

If you're interested, feel free to check it out here!

Sugar-free "Sugar" Cookies

I have been itching to try this recipe for a week or two now, and yesterday Ben & I did it. The cookies are melt-in-your mouth delicious; they were a huge hit. They don't even need to be frosted, although I did find a frosting recipe that I like, and may try it in the future.

And they are fairly easy to make. I would recommend rolling out half of the dough at a time (maybe less) and refrigerating the portion you aren't using yet, because it gets soft pretty fast. Benjamin and I both had a lot of fun, and I will definitely be making these again!

Sugar-Free "Sugar" Cookies

1 ½ C. flour

¾ C. butter

¼ C. honey

* Combine flour and butter in food processor (or mixer) until fine. Drizzle in honey while pulsing until mixture pulls together. Roll out and cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters. Bake at 300 for 10-15 minutes. So good, you’ll never want to eat another cut-out cookie with sugar again! You can also add a flavor extract. Be creative! Almond extract, vanilla, cinnamon, lemon etc.

(***This recipe is from My Year Without. There are so many great ideas there!)
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 12, 2009

a ridiculously delicious recipe

I made this recipe last week (I was recently given a food processor, and I am loving it!) and it has been a huge hit! Our entire family loves this stuff (aside from Owen, who is too young for honey yet, poor soul) and has been devouring it. In fact, I will have to make it again this week, or we will run out. It is utterly delicious, way better than any other almond butter I have tried. I encourage you to give it a try!

Almond Butter

2 cups crispy almonds*
3/4 cup coconut oil (I prefer extra virgin)
2 T. raw honey
1 t. sea salt

Place nuts & sea salt in food processer and grind to a fine powder. Add honey and coconut oil, process until the mixture becomes smooth. It will be somewhat liquid but will harden when chilled. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Serve at room temperature.
~From "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon

"Crispy" refers to soaked and then dehydrated almonds. I'm sure raw or roasted would work fine, too.

"Not me!" Monday

Another edition of "Not me!" Monday, as cleverly and catharticly created by MckMama at My Charming Kids.

I absolutely, completely, did not daydream about baby names, several times, while nursing my 10-month-old this week. Because (honestly!) (1) I am not pregnant, and (2) we are not anticipating a pregnancy any time soon. And even if I were pregnant (which I am truly NOT), I would give my husband a little peace about baby names, and not hound him from the moment of the positive test on. Because I'm not at all obsessed by baby names. Nope, not me...

I certainly didn't refer to my 3-year-old's relentless, nonsensical chatter as "noise pollution" the other day. Because what kind of a mother would do that?

I also didn't walk around muttering about gypsies. Nope. No way.

If there was anyone wandering restlessly through my house this weekend, searching for something to satisfy her sugar craving without compromising her goals, it certainly wasn't me. Because I couldn't care less about sugar, and I certainly haven't struggled since I've stopped eating the last of the carob chips in my trail mix. And my homemade chocolate chips are entirely sweet enough with just the amount of Rapadura I used to make them.

Definitely didn't leave not one, but two laundry baskets full of folded clothing in my bedroom at night. Because my bedroom is strictly to be used for sleep & sex, and I refuse to let any remnants of my housework sitting around to distract me from those two worthy ends. And I always put laundry away the same day that it's washed. Maybe even the day before it's washed.

Speaking of work, I do not have a number of materials to make for our homeschool (starting Wednesday! bright and early! we'll be there or be square!), but am instead choosing to work on a silly ol' blog entry...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

you can't keep this boy down

This was an attempt to get a "perfect" shot of Owen in his pocket diaper. There was a photo contest I was thinking of entering. But I could not get the boy to be still long enough to get a really good picture! Even in only a diaper and sneakers, Owen was on the move...
Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 9, 2009

taking the plunge

So... I am about to become a homeschooling mama. My plans are made; I just need a chance to go to the store to get some things to make materials. I hope that chance will come today or tomorrow...I'd really like to get things ready soon, so we can get school started next week.

I don't mind telling you that this scares the snot out of me. I can't quite put my finger on the reason. Maybe it's because I'm going to try to set things up Montessori-style, and the idea of preparing the Environment really intimidates me. Maybe it's because I'm fretting about how to switch gears from this crazy boy house to an place where my kids can learn. Maybe it's because I know that teaching isn't my gift, and I worry about being able to help Benjamin learn all that he needs to know-- offer enough that he won't get bored.

Whatever the reason, I am anxious. Worried. Fretful. I was never afraid of birthing my babies at home, without drugs or a doctor present: I am afraid of this.

But more and more it seems that this may be where God is leading me, at least for the moment. The charter school didn't work out (though it is a possibility for next year). There's a family that's started coming to our church in this past year; they have ten kids and homeschool. That mom has been a big encouragement to me: in fact, she's invited me to a meeting this weekend with local homeschoolers. Jeff has always had an interest in this, but I was never very comfortable with the idea. We're going to give it whirl, though.

Does the fact that I don't feel peace about this mean that it's not right? Or is it just my insecurities and anxiety speaking? Will I love it once I've begun? Or will I be counting the minutes until we can be done for the summer?

Two evenings ago the phone rang. It was the Christian radio station that we support. They wanted to say thanks, and to ask if there was anything they could pray about for us. Caught off guard, feeling a bit sheepish, I shared my worries. I was about to begin homeschooling my child, and I was nervous.

As it turned out, the woman on the other end of that phone? Had homeshooled her three children. And she had loved it. In fact, she had been nervous herself, when she started...but she was helped by a mom of eight who had homeschooled her own children. Two nights ago, this woman on the phone was able to encourage me there, in that unexpected moment. Her past experience comforted me about my present one. I was so grateful for that phone call. It seemed to me like manna from heaven.

I don't know how things will go next week. I do know that whatever happens, if we put the Lord into it, He will meet me there. And for that, I am truly thankful!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

tell me more

Owen is now the proud owner of four (count 'em!) teeth. He got the top two within the past week or so, and they're looking pretty spiffy. However, he has just yesterday taken up the habit of scraping the top teeth on the bottom teeth. This drives me absolutely batty, and it doesn't seem like a healthy habit to me. Still, as Jeff pointed out, it's a novelty. Hopefully he'll tire of it soon.

He's also getting much more vocal. This is especially apparent at dinnertime, if he's finished the food he's been served and would like more. This child loves finger foods! It was like, we finally decided to start giving him finger foods, and his whole being just said "THIS is what I've been waiting for my whole life!" Current favorites are pancakes and (popped) peas. He also loves the classic O's cereal (I like Barbara's Bakery) and home fries. I made sweet potato fries a few weeks ago and he snarfed them. He practically inhaled them.

If the subject of a dog comes up, and we say "Owen, what sound does a dog make?" He'll say "Ffff, ffff." ["woof woof"] I don't think it quite qualifies as a first word, but it's the first real attempt at mimicry that I've seen. He is starting to do some baby signs, though. Two, to be precise: "milk" and "finished." I love that we can communicate through our hands, as well as in so many other ways.

Lastly, he's started doing the funniest thing while nursing. He has started to "talk." While nursing. So. Cute. It's a bit reminiscent of Charlie Brown's teacher in the Peanuts cartoon. Nothing intelligible (not that he's using words yet anyway) but decidedly expressive. I love it.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

a few of my favorite things

In honor of the New Year, I thought I'd make a list of some of my new favorite things. This idea is a combination of something Paige did on her blog, and...well, Oprah. But hey, in turning over a new leaf, I've acquired some new favorites in regard to health and nutrition. And I can't just keep them to myself!

1) Oyin Handmade Funk Butter. It's a deodorant cream that dries fast. And I mean fast! I went looking for an aluminum-free alternative to regular commercial deodorants. I came across some that I utterly despised, but someone clued me in to Oyin Handmade, and I was very impressed. I also have started experimenting with their hair products, and I really like what I've tried so far!

2) "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon is my absolute fave as far as cookbooks go. It's traditional (including recipes for ketchup, mayonnise, and sauerkraut) but wonderfully tuned in to modern tastes (enchiladas, fudge). It is dense with information on the history of food, but also detailed in cooking instructions.

3) I am loving Burt's Bees Lip Balms. My current darlings are pomegrante and honey. (I do want to try Oyin Handmade's lip balms soon, though! I have a a good feeling about those, too.) For this former Carmex queen, experiementation is everything.

4) The Nourishing Gourmet is my new absolute favorite website. It's actually a blog, the keeper of which has been greatly influenced by Sally Fallon (the cookbook author on #2). The recipes are easy to follow and fairly simple to execute. (Remember, I don't consider myself a gourmet by any means.) I also love that she includes slow food philosophy here and there, as well as discussing the pros and cons of various ingredients. I can't get enough of this website!

5) This one is a "nourishing practice." It's soaking my grains. For an explanation of why and how, you can click here. In a nutshell, it makes the grains so much more digestible, and the minerals and nutritients within much more accessible. And also, in my opinion, it makes goods made with whole grain flours taste SO much better!

6) In a similar vein, another of my new favorite practices is soaking nuts and then slow-drying them. You can read more about that here, if you like. Again, it's for digestion and health...but I think it makes them so delicious. We call these "Crispy Pecans, "Crispy Almonds," etc. because they've got an extra, salty crunch to them. The house smell so good when they're drying!

7) Speaking of nuts, my new favorite snack is trail mix. I use: a handful each of crispy pecans, cashews, raisins, and chocolate (or carob) chips. So yummy! I've been munching on a small dish of this in place of dessert for weeks...I don't want anything else. I can't get enough trail mix, although Jeff tells me that there it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

8) Raw honey. Good stuff!

9) Another blog that I'm really excited about is My Year Without, where a gal from Battle Ground, Washington chronicles her year-long quest to be sugar-free. What an encouragement!

10) Fresh berries. Sweet, succulent, abounding in varieties, colors, and uses. I can hardly wait for berry season to come to Oregon again! I have so many plans: preserves, syrups, muffins, desserts. I want to start mixing crushed berries into plain yogurt for my boys. They adore yogurt but alas, it's packed with sugar. I'm so glad God is so wonderfully creative in the foods he gave us, and how they can offer our bodies real nourishment.

how sweet it is

"Mounds" Candy Bars

I made these yesterday, and they are really good! Very rich, but so tasty. If you're interested in the recipe, click here.

Just thought I'd share. It's not all gloom and doom around here!
Posted by Picasa

Monday, January 5, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Although rainy days and Mondays always get me down, here again is "Not Me!" Monday, as inspired by MckMama at My Charming Kids.

While we were without electricity, I did not throw out a bowl of soaked black beans, as well as a bowl of soaked quinoa, because I was at a loss at how to cook them. Even if I had not known what to do with those things without a working stovetop, I certainly wouldn't have just thrown them out. A really inventive mom would figure out a way to cook them. Maybe on makeshift poles over the gas fireplace. Or by rubbing two soggy sticks together. Or maybe by holding it over the kerosene lamp. But dumping them out? Nope, not me.

Also along the topic of our power outage, I did not have a family room strewn with wet laundry, all hung up to dry. And if I did, it would be better organized than to make the room almost completely impassable. Especially since that's the only route to the downstairs bathroom...

And while cleaning out my purse last week, I definitely didn't find that pair of little boy's Elmo underwear, still tucked in there. Absolutely not. That boy needs all the clean underwear he can get his hands on!

I did not recently write and publish a post which I knew would be a bit unpopular, and maybe even make people uncomfortable. Nope, not me! Because I am by nature fairly meek, and I hate to do anything that might stir the pot a bit (true, actually!).

Speaking of sugar, I most definitely did not just throw out about six cupcakes that were well over two weeks old. They would have certainly have been moldy by then, and I would never let them sit in a pan and get buried by coupons and placemats while they got more and more gross. That would be utterly disgusting. I know the shelf life of food. And my kitchen is not the place for science experiments. Certainly not!

And to be sure, I do not have anywhere near as much fun playing the Wii as my boys do. Certainly not...I mean, I'm a grown-up! And I definitely didn't love kicking some old-fashioned butt at bowling last week. Me? I'm not competitive at all.

Does anybody wanna Wii? We could do some bowling, one on one...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

the sugar blues

My name is Mindy, and I am a sugar addict.

I've known this for years. I love sweet stuff. For years, I've required "a little something" at the end of a meal. Not breakfast, but always, always lunch & dinner. In fact, I've been known to haul a bag of candy corn or fat-free brownie in my purse to someone's case they didn't serve dessert. I'd bring a sweet in my purse to eat after we went to a restaurant, usually a fat-free brownie. And when I went on vacation? I nearly always packed a Rubbermaid container of those brownies...or a bag of dark chocolates...or else just hit the grocery store while we were there for a certain brand of fat-free devil's food cookies. I simply couldn't do without something sweet during the day...several times a day. I couldn't...or didn't want to try.

Lately it's come more and more into my consciousness that sugar may not be quite the innocent treat I have thought it was. In the wake of the health changes of the past few months, I've been doing a lot of reading. I highly recommend "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. It's technically a cookbook, but is dense and wonderfully full of information about the history of food and nourishment. I also discovered "Sugar Blues" by William Duffy. This slim volume has been very eye-opening. Scary, even. A quote:
Refined sugar is lethal when ingested by humans because it provides only that which nutritionists describe as empty or naked calories. In addition, sugar is worse than nothing because it drains and leeches the body of precious vitamins and minerals through the demands its digestion, detoxification, and eliminiation make upon one's entire system. ~William Duffy, Sugar Blues (Warner Books)
Here is a website I came across recently, which talks matter-of-factly about what sugar does to the body, and gives some tips on how to cut it out of your life. In a nutshell, the health effects cited are:
  • "Sugar increases fat storing"
  • "Sugar disrupts normal brain function"
  • "Sugar decreases your overall health and makes you age quicker"(1)
Also, I was thrilled beyond words to find this blog. It chronicles the writer's quest to be sugar-free for a full year (2008). I was so encouraged to find someone who tried, and succeeded, kicking her sugar habit.

Because, at least for me, it is a habit, an addiction. I've discovered that so many of my tastes are influenced by whether there is sugar in a product or not. My taste buds are trained to love the stuff with high fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar, and others. I've done a lot more label-reading these past few months, and have been appalled at how many supermarket items have sugar in them: often several kinds of sugar in one product. One of the worst offenders if ketchup. Also in the line-up are peanut butter, bread, crackers, cereal, salad dressing (I was hard put to find one without sugar in it!)...the list goes on and on.

I'm not saying that it's wrong to enjoy sweets. I believe God created us with "sweetness" as one of the tastes that our bodies crave. But the more I learn about refined sugar, the more disgusted I become. I'm trying to steer my family toward more natural sweeteners: honey, agave nectar, pure maple syrup, date sugar, coconut sugar. Even Rapadura, which is whole, unrefined cane sugar. I'm seeking things that are as close to the natural state as possible. The less refined, the better, as far as I'm concerned.

The point of all these rambles is this: I am going to try to truly kick my sugar habit. That's my goal for this year. It won't be popular. It won't be "normal." It will go against much of what the culture finds acceptable. And certainly, it won't be easy. I'm not entirely sugar-free yet. But I have hope. I'm going to do it; for my health, for my family, and also, because I feel so much better when I am avoiding that stuff. I know it will be worth it in the end.

Pray for me!


Friday, January 2, 2009

northern exposure

While we were in Idaho visiting my parents, my mom and I snuck away one afternoon. The area where they live is great for snowshoeing, and we were gone for 1 1/2 hours. It was so peaceful and beautiful!

Here is Mama

On their property there is an assortment of old buildings, including an authentic outhouse (right). When my family visited here in the 1980's, that was the only option for "facilities." Ah, memories!

Here I am in my snowshoeing glory. I have never been a very athletic person, but I love to snowshoe! Somehow it just seems so vigorous and refreshing. The cool air, the exercise, the crunch of snow under my feet. I love it.

The snow was too deep for the dog, Pete. He turned back at about this point. Too much work without the proper equipment on your paws.
Posted by Picasa