Saturday, February 28, 2009

the time has come

We knew this was coming...

...we didn't want to accept it...

...but we had to admit that it was time.

It was a little bit upsetting

to cut that soft, fine baby hair

...but we made our peace with it.

Another milestone reached

...and we are better for it.

Friday, February 27, 2009

being known

I've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia lately, by C.S. Lewis. Oh yes, I'd read them as a child, and then again as a young adult. But it seems as though every time I read that series, I walk away with more meaning.

Things like sacrifice, sin, trust, faith. I suppose I must have caught some of this when I read it before. Certainly I understood that Aslan represented Christ, and his sacrifice paid for Edmund's sins. But the older I get, the longer I walk with God, the more detail I'm picking up on. These books are rich.

At present I'm finishing up "The Magician's Nephew." A little explanation of context is in order, I think. This book is the telling of the origin of Narnia: how it was created by Aslan, and how he gave the gift of speech to the animals there. The novel is told in the third person, but from the perspective of a two children named Digory and Polly. Before arriving in Narnia, these two found themselves in another world, a world which was dying, and while they were there Digory awakened a witch from a certain enchantment. The Witch, an evil creature, traveled back to London with them, and ultimately, to Narnia.

The thing that really struck me yesterday was a conversation between the boy, Digory, and the Lion, Aslan. The boy is explaining how the Witch came to be in Narnia. Aslan questions Digory... but Aslan knows. And as the boy tries to explain things, it becomes more and more clear that Aslan sees through his excuses, and his blaming of others, and the spin he tries to put on it. It is Digory's fault, and as he admits the truth, he is ashamed. The Lion already understood the situation completely: what happened as well as each individual's heart.

And it's so true. We are known, fully and completely. Beyond our rationalizations. Beyond our excuses. Beyond the blame we cast-- on others or on ourselves. God knows our motives, understands our history, and sees us, utterly. He sees our delusions, our pride, and the many emotions which can cast us adrift, tossed without an anchor.
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.

Proverbs 17:3
We can try to explain our actions. We can be fully convinced that we know why we do what we do. We can be certain that we are in the right.

But the Lord knows the heart.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

Psalm 139:23-24

May my words, actions, and thoughts truly please the One who knows me completely, both inside and out. He understands me better than I understand myself.

in style

I suppose you're really traveling in style if your brother pushes you around in a dump truck.
It sure is popular around here, anyway!

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Happy Monday to everyone out there! Thus begins another installment of "Not me!" Monday, as created and perpetuated by MckMama of My Charming Kids.

I definitely don't think that I have the cutest, most earnest little laundry helper ever. Nope, not me! Even if he remains convinced that his job is to diligently remove item after item from the the basket of clean laundry and put them on the floor. And if I did, I would certainly hardly mind the said dumping of the clothes, because my helper is so incredibly cute.

And I absolutely didn't expect to have a peaceful morning on Sunday, relaxing while Owen took a nap before heading to second service at 11 AM. Because that would have been futile, considering the state of the house. And because...

I for sure didn't get a call at 9:45 AM that someone wanted to come and see the house at 1:00 PM. Therefore, I certainly did not proceed to nearly fly through the house: picking up burp cloths, clearing counters, trying to keep a determined Owen from assaulting the laptop, scrubbing the sink, taking games from our Bible study game night upstairs, tossing toys & boxed games into the hamper, scrubbing counters, sweeping the floor, urging Ben & Kyle to hurry in cleaning their room. And my black dress shoes were not clacking on the hard floor all the time as I ran, in my long pencil-ish skirt (the type which is never intended for running), putting a basketful of clean laundry in the hall bathtub and hoping to high heaven that no one would look in there, tidying Owen's books, and working up quite a sweat during all of this, hoping all the while that my funk butter would hold out.

And if that had all happened, I certainly wouldn't have been composing my "Not me!" Monday post about it in my head all the while. Nope, not me!

Along those same lines...just before I was finally ready to head out the door to church, I certainly did not notice a certain aroma from Owen's diaper, and decide to ignore it for the time being. Definitely didn't knowingly drop him at the church nursery with a poopy way! Just because I was already late and desperate to get into service before the last song ended? Absolutely not.

Okay. So I did. But I apologized profusely. And it was the first time ever...honest!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Friday, February 20, 2009

lost arts & frugality

I was so pleased when to read this article in yesterday's Oregonian. It's about a woman who teaches classes to help people learn to eat better, and greener, on a budget. The thing I liked the best is the classes concentrate on going back to traditional ways of making food: homemade bread, homemade cream cheese, lacto-fermented foods, and using raw milk and grass-fed beef, etc. It's much the kind of things I've been learning the past few months. I think I would really dig this class!

Although it's been an interesting time to start to "go organic," I am determined to find a way to eat well and still eat on a budget. I have a few ideas I've been gathering for the past month or so, and although I haven't found a way to implement them all yet, I'm learning. There are a few places where I know I can buy fresh farm eggs around here, that's one of my plans. I'm learning to make the most of the meals I prepare. For example, a roast chicken yields several meals (the original roasted bird, then chicken enchiladas, for example), plus several quarts of chicken stock. I hope to perfect my technique in making sourdough bread, and eventually eliminate the need to buy sliced bread from the store. And I can hardly wait for the farmer's market and roadside produce stands to be up and running again.

For more on eating real food in a way that won't break the bank: "12 Tips for Squeezing the Most Nutrient-Rich Food From Your Dollar," and a post on natural food shopping from some wonderful health-conscious sites. There are ways to do this, and I am most definitely learning as I go.

I mentioned in a recent post that I am trying to give up paper towels. It's another way that I'm trying to be frugal and a bit more responsible. I can wash & reuse rags, cloth napkins, as well as cloth diapers and wipes. Gotta love that! And I am thinking (I'm not there yet, though!) of putting aside facial tissues in favor of handkerchiefs. That will take a bit of courage, though...

So there's what I'm working on right now. Learning to be more frugal, and to reduce & reuse as much as I can. I'm just starting this journey, and I am actually really excited about it. I like the thought of being wise and careful with the resources I've been given, so that we'll have more choices in the long run.

And my favorite way to use a renewable resource? Breastfeeding! Ingenious. I love that God was so creative and wise when He designed our bodies...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

seven odd and interesting things about me

I was tagged by Wardeh at Such Treasures; the goal is to share seven odd and interesting things about myself. Odd shan't be too hard, but odd and interesting? That could be a challenge...

1) It drives me absolutely batty when people misuse apostrophes.

2) I always cringe when I see possessive pronouns and contractions abused (it's/its, you're/your)...see #1.

3) I never imagined myself having sons-- now I am a mom of three boys, and I wouldn't have it any other way!

4) I am trying to give up using paper towels. There haven't been any paper towels in my house for about two weeks, and I still miss them. Hopefully I'll build up a nice rag collection soon.

5) I would love to learn to make cheese.

6) I loved to be in the cast of musicals in high school, but I never wanted a speaking role. Simply the atmosphere and being a part of it all was enough for me.

7) These days, I spend most of my recreational time in the kitchen. I think I need a t-shirt that says "I'd rather be cooking."

Okay! I tag: Joy, Deb, Brigetta, Cory, Jeanne, and Carolyn.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

"The house is on the small side..."

...Yeah, thanks. Actually, we know that it's a bit small. That's precisely why we want to move.

That's the only feedback we've really gotten about the house. Hopefully the right people will come along, maybe a couple, or a small family...someone who just wants a 1500-something square ft home that's bright and airy. Someone whose residence isn't already bursting at the seams.

So as you may remember, we had an open house here on Sunday afternoon. Jeff and I left for church in the morning, and after church we didn't go home-- instead we headed across the city to Jeff's parents' house. We were able to hang out there for a couple of hours (thanks, guys!) until after the open house was finished at 4:30pm.

Evidently there were three parties (couples? groups? individuals? I'm not sure) who came through on Sunday. Our realtor was very pleased with the house's appearance. And the box with the flyers of house information is empty, again. But we haven't had anyone show interest, beyond wanting to see the place.

We're in a great position, though. We don't really have to sell...we just want to. We can afford to wait if need be. And hopefully, God has just the right person out there, and in just the right timing, everything will come together.

In the meantime, patience...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

a couple of goofballs

They had built a garbage truck... I'm wondering, why was Kyle inside the garbage truck?
I really hope he was supposed to be the driver.

Monday, February 16, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Welcome to the newest edition of "Not me!" Monday, as created and perpetuated by MckMama at My Charming Kids. Aaaaaaand, we're off!

After returning from a lunch Valentine's date, Jeff and I did not return to our home and find a 3-year-old who was so unbelievably chatty that we could hardly get a report from the new babysitter. Along the same lines, we never have a hard time getting a word in edgewise at dinnertime. Uh-uh!

While preparing dinner this week, I did not discover that Owen was trying to eat an onion. A raw onion, with the skin still on. He was certainly not trying to eat it as thought it were an apple. Because how would he have gotten his hands on onion, anyway?

Jeff and I definitely didn't spend most of Valentine's Day working our tails off to prepare for Sunday's open house. That wouldn't be romantic at all! We certainly wouldn't keep saying, wryly, "Happy Valentine's Day!" in the midst of the scrubbing, sweeping, dusting, organizing, hauling, mopping, clearing, and tossing. No way!

And I didn't receive a wonderful, heartfelt, four-paged, handwritten love letter from my sweetheart, which made my whole day. Well...maybe I did. On that one.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

love that coconut oil

Yep! Coconut oil: delicious and nutritious. It is reported to have many healthful properties, and also to help improve the condition of both hair and skin. I use it in baking, frying, greasing pans, and in recipes such as homemade chocolate chips, popcorn & candy-making. It has a wonderful, mild flavor and is quite easy to work with.

In fact, I love it so much that we just purchased a 5-gallon bucket of it! Yes, that's right. It's a less expensive way to buy it, and hopefully we can go a long time now before we run out. I was so excited when it arrived at my door!

To read more about coconut oil, and also for a list of links about it, click here. Yum.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

my valentine

from Jeff, for me

from me, for Jeff

I love you, sweetheart!

atop a 6-year-old boy's dresser

Just now while cleaning up for tomorrow's open house, I was clearing off my oldest son's dresser. Collected there were:

~2 rocks the size of his fist
~1 dried & crumbling leaf
~a construction-themed lamp
~an assortment of print-outs from the Thomas the Tank Engine website
~a book he'd made of paper stapled together, with color illustrations
~1 plastic "gold" pirate coin
~2 soccer trophies
~an unsharpened pirate pencil
~a belated birthday card
~a framed photo of himself on a motorcycle, wearing a biker's jacket
~a red wooden robot's head
~a pair of sunglasses which he'd decorated with stickers thus:

I love having boys!

Red Pepper Quiche

This recipe is from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon. (page 445)

Red Pepper Quiche

1/2 recipe yogurt dough ***
2 red peppers, seeded and cut into a julienne
1 medium onion, finely sliced
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 egg yolks
1/2 cup creme fraiche or piima cream (I would imagine that cultured sour cream or yogurt may work as a substitute if you can't find these)
sea salt and pepper
1 cup grated Parmesan or Monterey Jack cheese

Yogurt Dough:***
  • 1/2 c. plain whole yogurt
  • 1 c. butter, softened
  • 3 1/2 c. spelt or whole wheat flour
  • 2 t. sea salt
  • unbleached white flour
***Or use a flaky pie crust. I find yogurt dough delicious and easy, though, and it is very nourishing.

First: Cream yogurt with butter. Blend in flour and salt. Cover and leave in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours.

Roll out on a pastry cloth using unbleached flour to prevent sticking. Roll out and line 10-inch French-style tart pan, or a pie pan (I just use my pie pan).

Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Prick well with a fork and half bake the crust for 30-35 minutes.

Meanwhile, saute peppers and onion in olive oil until soft. Beat yolks with cream, seasonings and half the cheese. Strew the peppers & onions over the crust and pour egg mixture over.

Top with the remaining cheese.

Bake at 350 for another 30 minutes.

Serve and enjoy!

Our family loves this recipe. It it delicious! Unfortunately, there is rarely any left for another meal. I'm going to have to start doubling the recipe soon!

*ETA that I did not roll out my crust, I actually just put the dough in the pan and shaped it with my fingers. It would've been prettier that way, but I was in a hurry. ~M

Friday, February 13, 2009

us, recently

A few random tidbits~
  • Jeff & I are still plugging away on out attempt to sell the house. After a record-breaking number of people who came to see it last week, we haven't had a single call this week. But I'm choosing to believe that it's only because we're having an Open House this Sunday, and everyone's just planning to come then. I guess time will tell. In the meantime, we're packing up as much stored stuff as we can, in an effort to make the house seem less jam-packed. That is tricky for two dedicated pack rats...
  • Jeff and I have been making an effort to have more regular date nights together. So far we've been reasonably successful, thanks to some great babysitters and even greater grandparents. It's a busy, busy time, but we are spending more time alone together.
  • It's been six nights now since I've had to get up to feed Owen. Oh, he's been sleeping "through the night" for ages, but I consider sleeping 7 hours or so "through the night," and when you consider that Owen's bedtime is 7pm or so...well, I have been getting up with him once or twice a night for quite a while. But last Saturday night, perhaps in honor of his 11-month birthday, Owen started sleeping 11 hours! From bedtime til morning, for six days and counting. And I am loving it!
  • Kyle continues to be Mr. Drama. He loves regaling us with stories at dinnertime, be they the plot of a video he watched recently, an encounter in the grocery store, or the tale of his race with Ben on some video game. His stories are full of suspense and detail. We wonder if he will be an actor when he grows up. Yikes?
  • Benjamin is really coming into his own in a lot of ways. He's such a big helper with Owen and in the kitchen. When asked to do his chores, he rarely argues any more, and is getting pretty efficient and skilled at accomplishing those chores. He's en enormous help with Owen, and when he decides to be, he's great with Kyle, too. It's so great to listen to them when they are getting along, cooperating, and playing together nicely.
  • Owen's first birthday is in a matter of weeks, and I have done next to nothing as far planning or preparation. I want to have a little party for him -- nothing big -- but we've had parties for all the other first birthdays. And while we may not be able to keep it up forever, I want to do one for Owen, too. I better get cracking!
  • I'm still doing a lot of experimenting in the kitchen, and loving it. I have a sourdough starter, and have made four (?) batches now. It's really delicious, but I am still perfecting my method. It's fun, though, and frugal, and the family seems to really enjoy it. And best of all, I feel good about the health benefits of sourdough. I've also been experimenting with making crackers, candy, and dips, as well as a variety of other things. It's been really exciting to fall back in love with cooking, and to feel that it is making a difference for my family.
  • Another exciting change (at least I think it is!) is that, in an effort to be more frugal and also to avoid bringing toxins into our home, I am changing the way I do my cleaning. I have begun to make shampoo and conditioner. I am liking the results, and am looking forward to learning to mix my own laundry detergent and dishwashing detergent. This website has a lot of wonderful ideas in that area.

So there are a few things that have been going on lately. We're busy, but happy, exploring news ways of doing things, and trying to spend more intentional time, both as a married couple, and with our children. Life is definitely a challenge, but we're trying to strive toward nourishing our family, our bodies, and our world.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

sugar-free me: how it's going

I've been feeling that I should give an update on my decision to stop eating refined sugar. It's been a bit more than a month since I made that choice, and it's been an interesting month. I said at the time that I didn't think it would be an easy change for me to make, sugar addict that I am. And parts of it have been hard, for certain.

But do you know what? Mostly I don't miss it. Honestly, I'm having so much fun experimenting that I've hardly missed refined sugar. We've had homemade coconut almond candy, brownies, chocolate chip cookies, shape ("Sugar") cookies, nut butter cookies, molasses cookies, two delicious kinds of fudge, and, possibly a family favorite, almond cookies. Our family is enjoying these sugar-free goodies so much that I'm making cookies at least twice a week. And Jeff and I just whipped up a batch of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream made with coconut milk.

Alternative sweeteners used include: raw honey, brown rice syrup, xylitol, date sugar, and Rapadura. I especially love honey & date sugar, since they are incredibly close to their natural state.

I suspect, though, that the trouble will come when I'm away from home. Certainly, I can maintain a climate in my house where foods are made without refined sugar, but that kind of thing is very hard to find in the World Out There. If I want sugar-free, and artificial sweetener-free (sucralose, aspertame) ice cream, for example, I can't just waltz into Baskin Robbins or Ben & Jerry's. I have to know where to seek out these products and prepare accordingly.

Another hard thing is social eating. Eating sweets is such a group thing. Even beyond a craving for a particular flavor, or taste sensation, I long to be part of the group that is doing the enjoying. This is something I'm still working on figuring out. Click here to read an honest and intelligent essay on the Psychology of sugar. It's very much what I'm wading through right now.

So on the whole: it's going well. There are definitely obstacles, though, and I'm working through them. I don't want to always be the odd man out, but neither do I want to compromise. Because when I do, I can tell that I'm putting something very, very bad into my body. And also? I find that I don't like myself very much when I do give in.

Monday, February 9, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

This brings us to yet another installment of "Not me!" Monday, as per MckMama at My Charming Kids.

This past week, I did not agree to having the house shown at least six times (I may have lost count). That would be madness! I mean, we've just begun homeschooling, I have three small children, and...certainly I would be able to set boundaries and stick by then. Definitely. So I certainly wouldn't have done that...

And then I most definitely didn't commence to run around like a headless chicken, cleaning and tidying, sweeping crumbs and other debris, doing "spot mopping," followed by more sweeping, cleaning the counters, and even more sweeping. No. Way.

Certainly didn't hide Owen's little stash of toys (which he plays with while I get ready in the morning) in my dirty laundry hamper, a few times over. Nope, not me!

Speaking of dirty laundry, I was not horrified to discover that my elderly cat had peed on my bed, the day before one of the realtor showings. And after the sheets were washed, but not the quilt, I certainly didn't put the original quilt back onto the bed, because the colors looked so lovely with the room, and the lady was coming to take interior pictures of the house. Certainly not. Ew. Ew!

And if any of that was true, I for sure would have washed the quilt by now. It wouldn't still be in a soiled heap, surrounded by other dirty laundry. I definitely wouldn't have been hindered by the fact that it's line-dry only, and while I usually dry it in the family room, that would not be suitable when everyone and their Uncle Charlie are traipsing through the house nearly every day. Nope, definitely not me! I would have figured out some place to dry it. Moms like me have to be resourceful, you know.

On another note, I certainly don't have a child ill with the croup, again. Man, that poor boy gets hit hard by it, too. I mean, I think truly Owen had it in December too, but his illness? Doesn't even come close to what it's like when Kyle has the croup. That stuff is wicked.

Finally, I am not absolutely obsessed with making treats. Nope, definitely not. I do not bake cookies at least twice a week (regardless of what my Facebook statuses may report). Nor did Jeff & I make chocolate coconut ice cream on Saturday afternoon, and I did not make fudge a few days earlier in the week. Nope, not me! Because kicking a sugar habit is exactly the same as shedding my love for sweets...right?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

a sling giveaway

Kristin over at Bits and Pieces From My Life is giving away a sling! So all you babywearers, or would-be-babywearers, just hop on over to her site to see what's going on. She's got a lot of great posts on family life and other topics. I think you'll enjoy it!

Friday, February 6, 2009

it's possible

So, we've been thinking about it...

...and we guess it's possible

that Owen may be in need of a haircut, after all.

I mean, we aren't going for a mullet, here.

All the same, I'm determined to hold out at least two more weeks. I am not quite ready to trim my baby's baby-fine locks! At least not until he's a bit closer to his birthday. Just two more weeks...or maybe four...

Thursday, February 5, 2009


1) Kyle: "Do moles live under the ground?"
Dad: "Yes, they do."
Kyle: "What about bulls? Do bulls live under the ground?"
Ben, laughing: "No, bulls don't live under the ground! Bulls are like... giant cows. They wouldn't even fit underground!"

2) "Mom, please don't eat all of the cookies!"

3) Kyle: "Can we please go and buy our house now?"

4) "When am I going to get married?"

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

spring teaser

We have been enjoying really beautiful weather this week! What a gift during an Oregon winter.

Yesterday we needed to leave home for a while during a visit from a potential buyer. Eager to enjoy the lovely day to the fullest, we ventured out to a nearby park.
Owen thought the sunshine was wonderful!

He was fascinated watching his brothers swing.

An oldie but a goodie: tornado slides.

And here is one of my little monkeys, just hanging around.

We were so thankful for the nice day. And it has really whet our appetites for spring!