Friday, July 31, 2009


I've come to realize that I have continued to treat Owen like a baby, far later than I did his older brothers. Possibly this is due to my increased busyness. Possibly it's a desire to keep the baby that (for a time) I expected to be my last from growing up too fast. Or I suppose it could be pure laziness....

When it's time to change a diaper, my routine is the same as it was 6 or 8 months ago: lay the child on his back on the changing table, and proceed. I don't name body parts as regularly as I did for the older boys. It didn't occur to me until a few months ago that I rarely encourage Owen to participate in the process of getting dressed - although I distinctly remember sitting on the floor with Benjamin, and Kyle too, showing him how to put his leg into his little sweatpants.

Also (and I am ashamed to admit this) I don't read to Owen as much. I never have. I love books, and I believe in reading to children - but somehow reading to my youngest child rarely works its way into our regularly schedule days. Continually I resolve to do better at this, but I have yet to follow through very consistently. I suppose the summer has brought a little improvement, but I obviously need to really focus on spending that time reading to my sweet boy.

With my first two children, I tirelessly named things: animals, colors, objects, body parts. But these days, I just forget, far too often. I suppose I'm a bit preoccupied lately. That's not a great excuse, but there it is. It's an explanation, anyway.

I adore this child. As an infant he was a balm to me, and aside from his immense tendency to spit up and his resistance to napping away from his bed, I no complaints about his babyhood - not one. We have a great bond, regardless of my neglect to verbalize the minutiae of the daily routine.

And I suppose I hope that the process of family life, and living with two big brothers, will fill in the gaps of what I've left unsaid and undone.

All the same, I'd better get on it and start teaching this boy to dress himself. Because in about 6 month I'm going to suddenly get a lot more busy!

What about you? How has your parenting changed (for better or for worse) as your family has grown?

those people

There are those people
people who play an important role in your life
and then one day, are absent from it
and you wonder what happened
how they are, what their lives look like now

There are those people
people with whom you stay close
year after year
helping, encouraging, maintaining
watching lives unfold, blossom, strive

There are those people
people who are with you for a season
sometimes casually, sometimes vitally
yet each important, impacting
in their own way

There are those people
people who surprise you
with how vicious they can be
when you speak something they don't want to hear
hurting, striking, wounding

There are those people
people who surprise you
with how giving they can be
lending encouragement or cheer
at just the right time, unexpected

There are those people
people with whom you will never agree
differing personalities
differing views, differing choices
yet we may respect individuality

There are those people
people who receive what you have to give
with tender hearts
willing to hear what may not be eloquent
or eagerly heard

There are those people
people who play an important role in your life

Sunday, July 26, 2009

just desserts

I have a problem.

When my children ask what is available for dessert, and the answer is "we don't have any dessert at the moment," I feel like a bad mommy. It's as though I've failed to meet some basic criteria for a happy childhood. What's that? The cookies are all gone, and we finished off the ice cream? Mo-ther!

Of course, they don't really sound like that. In fact, I have no doubt that the mommy guilt I suffer is far greater than any angst or disappointment they may feel in those moments. And truly, they don't seem to be suffering. They'll almost always shrug, then go on with their day.

The thing is, I rarely have to give that answer: I make sure of that. We usually have some kind of treat, be it cookies, ice cream, homemade Power Bars (one my absolute favorites!), or something else. The One Dessert Per Day rule which we instituted a few months ago has helped our supply hold out longer, I suppose. But still, I do try to stay on top of it. I like having something available. Not only for my kids, of course, but Jeff enjoys them, too. As do I, the sugar addict.

I do believe that Americans eat too many sweets for our own good. And even with natural sweeteners, I think moderation is best. But I can't seem to shake this need to have something available for my family. Even if we don't eat it...which usually, of course, we do.

(Actually, I have improved a little in that area. I now try to keep myself to a somewhat vague dessert-every-other-day-or-so rule. I do much better if I do that, both with general health and with my own mentality. But I do still love my sweets!)

I've thought of deliberately making fewer desserts. I would like my children to grow accustomed to not having treats of this kind on a daily basis. It would be healthy to not feel entitled to something sweet, to have it be more of a treat. I've heard of families who make dessert a special, once-a-week treat. But I'm not quite sure if we could handle that!

And my children do not see fruit as a dessert item. Perhaps it's because I serve them so much fruit as it is - fruit and dessert are not in the same category in their minds, at all.

So I suppose we're a work in progress. Maybe one of these days I'll be able to let go of my mommy guilt, and truly realize that my children will survive if they don't have a sweet treat available to them every single. Maybe someday I'll take the plunge, and take a break from supplying my family with goodies.

But for now, I have No Bake Cookies in the fridge, and smoothie popsicles hardening in the freezer, and plans to make ice cream someday soon. After all, in the heat of summer one needs some creature comforts....

Saturday, July 25, 2009

another hiccup

Against all odds, we seem to be hitting another snag in the journey to a new home. This one involves a ridiculously low appraisal. Our buyers will not be able to get financing to meet the price we agreed to, when the house was valued at such a price.

The current plan is an appeal. Our realtor was able to access the appraisal which was done in April (with our original attempted buyers), and this new appraiser has a week to reconsider his numbers. This will likely mean a renegotiation of the price of the home. We'll find out next week, I suppose.

Regardless, nothing will be closing on July 31st.

For some reason I had held back from making any more preparations to move, in spite of the fact that as far as I knew, we would be relocating in just over a week. Some would call that procrastination, but I'm thankful for it at the moment. It tempers the "roller coaster effect," at least a bit.

So for now we're back in more waiting. Thankful for the house we have to live in now, but hoping it will truly sell this time around. And praying that we won't lose another home with which we've fallen in love.

This is all incredibly frustrating. The process of attempting to sell our home has turned our entire summer upside down. Nay, most of the year. I'm just hoping that it will be worth it, in the end.

As Jeff and I keep reminding one another: The Big Picture. The Big Picture.

I'm just wondering if God's view of the big picture is the same as ours....we appreciate your prayers! Please continue to pray for us. Thank you, friends.

Friday, July 24, 2009

we may love food, but...

...we don't take ourselves too seriously!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

really, you shouldn't have

Kyle: Mom, Ben put the monkey in my shirt!

Me: He put a monkey in your shirt?

Kyle: Yes.

Me: Wait, hold still. Let me get a picture of this.

Kyle: A picture of the monkey on my back?

Me: Yup.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Not my child" Monday

Today? Is a special day. In a fun mix-up of our regularly scheduled "Not me!" Monday events, today is a "Not my child" Monday. You can find many more wonderful examples of some of the "Not me-ing" at My Charming Kids, which is MckMama's charming blog. So let's give it a whirl, shall we?

My 3-year-old (whom we lovingly describe as "irrepressible") did not leave his table-setting duties for a moment in order to dash into the room where his older brother was to announce "Ben! We're having raisin cookies at dinner!!!" There may have been some freshly-baked scones on the table, but Kyle would never abandon his job in a moment of excitement. Not my child!

Owen is an utterly charming 16-month-old. I've always referred to him as my "balm," so there is no way that he is starting to throw fits. Absolutely not! Even when he doesn't get his way, he does not flop himself onto the floor, look angsty for a moment, and then, if he doesn't receive a response, gingerly lower himself onto his back. He's certainly never resorted to rolling around the floor in a stunning display of toddler anguish. Definitely not...

My two older children did not join forces to produce and act out "Jungle Book" the other night after dinner. And if they had, there would not have been a clear Director, who repeatedly told me that it wasn't time for my line yet as Bagheera. They're not particularly fond of that movie at all, and they don't especially love acting like the monkeys. Uh UH! Not my boys!

What have your children not been doing?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

we've come a long way, baby

It's been nearly a year since I wrote this post. I had just begun to think about the way we eat as a culture, and I was determined to make some changes. How little did I know where it would lead me! Had I known, I might never have screwed up the courage to begin.

But I did begin, with little steps like giving up my adored JIF peanut butter, and cutting refined sugar out of our family's diet (no easy task - read the labels and you'll see). Jeff and I read "The Maker's Diet" by Jordan Rubin, which completely revolutionized the way we view food. We started frequenting the local farmers' market that summer, and discovered a source for grass-fed beef. I also discovered "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon, and the Weston A. Price Foundation. We began to buy and drink raw milk. Each of these steps has been significant in my journey.

The objective? To make wise choices for my family. To not simply give lip service to the fact that the "bad stuff" is bad, but to stop buying it. To advocate for my children in a culture so swayed by convenience and bad advice.

My pantry today looks very different than it did a year ago. Gone are the fruit snacks and the Ritz Bits. Cereal bars are a very occasional treat, and even then they are carefully chosen from the supermarket shelf. There are much fewer pre-packaged foods, and many more bags of nuts, dry beans, quinoa, millet, rice, and flour. The refrigerator also looks different. I keep whey, raw milk, homemade yogurt, buttermilk, kefir, kombucha, and a perpetual bottle of home made oil-and-vinegar salad dressing. Our freezers are stuffed with a quarter of beef, gallon-sized bags of frozen local berries, and whole chickens.

I don't buy 100% organic. I'd like to, but I can't quite swing it at the moment, in terms of the budget. Still, it is important to me, and I think I manage pretty well. I make educated choices and do my best. But even more than organic, my goal is to serve my family whole foods - and in ways that are most easily used by our bodies. This is not a new concept. The people in societies of old historically knew those methods which would make food the most easily digestible and healthful. Methods like soaking grains, and letting cows eat grass as much as possible. They accepted the fact that butter is good for us! It has been so eye-opening to learn about what makes food healthy, and so freeing so turn away from the mantra of convenience and low-fat diets which we've been hearing for the past 60 years.

So eating whole, traditional, real food has become the new way in our house. It's been quite a year, but I wouldn't trade this journey for anything! My family certainly doesn't eat perfectly, and we're still learning. The biggest challenge has been finding a way to keep the balance when we're away from home. Culture's influence is strong, but my hope is that the boys will see the value in our "food ideals," and adopt them for their own one day. In the meantime, I'm working toward giving them the best chances I can for a long and healthful life.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


1) Kyle: "That game that we were playing is called Tarzan Briefs."

2) Ben, singing a song from "Jungle Book": "I'm the jungle V.I.T....I reached the top and had to stop, and that's what's been bothering me."

3) Kyle: "I wish that house the beach could be our house."

4) Ben: "Hey Mama, I could help you learn to get better at playing MarioKart...if you want."

5) Kyle: "Mom, I'm lucky two times today! I have two spoons, and a floss that opens!!"

6) Owen, putting anything from macaroni to an undershirt on his head: "Hat-ah!"

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Honest Scrap Blogger Award

Many thanks to Joy of Joy in the Morning and Cory of Searching for God in the everyday for awarding me with a wonderfully lovely blogger award, "Honest Scrap."

In order to keep the award I must do the following:
  1. Say thank you the the presenter and link to her blog.
  2. Share 10 honest things about myself
  3. Present this blog award to 7 others whose blogs are worth visiting.

10 Honest Things

1) I still often crave Diet Pepsi, even a year after giving it up.
2) In 2nd grade I began getting stomachaches at school - I was so homesick for my mom.
3) I spend too many evenings in front of television.
4) I just finished lunch by eating 5 No Bake Cookies, followed by two slices of freshly baked bread.
5) I sometimes wish the bedroom which Ben and Kyle share had a lock - on the outside knob.
6) It's nearly impossible for me to keep my eyes open past 9:30 PM these days.
7) I recently discovered that I am totally intimidated by using fresh herbs. I need a recipe - tell me how much, and exactly how to use them. Instructions!
8) I am really struggling with the thought of moving twice. Not to mention the fact that we don't have a place to rent yet.
9) I've found that I have a hard time with holding grudges. Or at the very least...I forgive but make sure that I don't forget.
10) I had a really hard time coming up with 10 honest (and interesting) things!

And now for the nominees ~

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Not me!" Monday

Hey all - that's right, it's Monday again, and as I am no longer recovering from a recent beach vacation, I'm participating in "Not me!" Monday. This is a blog carnival invented by MckMama over at My Charming Kids. Please stop by her blog and find out for yourselves how fabulous she is!

I certainly didn't look on longingly as my children gobbled up the last of my Rapunzel chocolate bars. Nope, it didn't make me in the least bit sad to see them go. I do not crave chocolate, ever, and I would never begrudge my children of the only candy bars that I know of which are made with Rapadura. No way. I would never be that selfish....

I'm definitely not slightly obsessed with re-viewing the special features for all of Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings films. I do not turn the DVD on while doing pilates, rolling out pasta, peeling carrots, folding laundry, No....definitely not.

There is no way that I determined to practice up at MarioKart for the Wii, and spent a good portion of Sunday afternoon honing my skills. Absolutely not. Because I feel no humiliation whatsoever when my 6-year-old creams me, time after time. Not even the day that he kindly offered to tutor me in MarioKart.

On Saturday morning, I did absolutely not bring home a flat of blueberries, a box of peaches, lettuce, cauliflower, carrots, onion, tomatoes, and corn on the cob. Two days before we get our CSA basket? Surely I'd have more self-control than that. I mean, as great as the Farmers' Market is, will we really be able to eat all that plus what's in our basket this week?

And finally, I am not choosing to blog when I could be cleaning house in preparation for tomorrow's house appraisal. Uh, no. That doesn't sound like me, at all...

Saturday, July 11, 2009

halving a cow

Technically...our portion was a quarter.

While attending an event from my homeschooling co-op, I was blessed to come across someone interested in splitting a half of grass-fed, grass-finished beef. She had worked with this farmer before, knew how things worked, and was willing to handle things for our end of it. I was thrilled beyond words - and have been practically drooling at the thought of it ever since.

Today was pick-up day! Now we are lousy with London broil, arm roasts, rump roasts, ground beef, T-bone steaks, stew meat, and more.

To read more about why we choose grass-fed beef, click HERE.
And to read about the significance of grass-finished beef, click HERE.

It seems that this is one of those many times when using traditional methods (such as letting cows eat grass instead of feeding them, say, corn products) makes for an exponentially healthier and more nourishing product. And I for one, intend to enjoy every single bite.

We're having steak this week!

Friday, July 10, 2009

"Don't eat fruit naked."

This advice comes from Jordan Rubin, author of "The Maker's Diet," "Perfect Weight America," and a score of other health/diet books. (I use diet in the sense of what we eat, as opposed to food restriction.)

"Don't eat fruit naked."

This refers not to one's clothing, of course, but how we eat our fruit. Mr. Rubin suggests that when we eat fruit by itself, it causes an insulin spike (much like when we eat other sweets alone). Eating foods such as fruit and refined carbohydrates by themselves causes blood sugar to increase, and insulin is released into the body.

Excess insulin is known to cause:
  • Weight gain, since insulin promotes the storage of fat
  • Lower cellular levels of magnesium, a mineral that is essential for keeping your blood vessels relaxed and your blood circulation efficient
  • An increase in sodium retention, which leads to holding excess water in your system, which causes high blood pressure
  • Increased amounts of inflammatory compounds in your blood, which can cause direct physical damage to your blood vessel walls and encourage the development of blood clots which can lead to heart attacks and respiratory failure
  • A reduction in HDL cholesterol, an increase in undesirable small molecules of LDL cholesterol, and an increase in triglycerides, all of which increase your risk for heart disease
  • Possibly a higher risk for cancer due to insulin's ability to contribute to cell proliferation (source)

A simple way to avoid this problem is to make a habit of eating fruit, or any other simple carbohydrate, with a fat or fiber. I can't access my books right now, but if I remember correctly, this slows the absorption of sugar into the body. It's kinder and gentler to the system.

Slather real butter on your bread. Toss a handful of nuts with your peaches. Eat strawberries topped with raw cream. Drizzle plenty of extra virgin olive oil on your pasta. one of my favorite snacks is apple slices smeared with peanut butter.

These kinds of foods are delicious as well as traditional. People have been eating these way for ages and ages. I'm so startled by the tendency to view new ideas about food as being so enlightened. Faithfully removing skins from our chickens, drinking low-fat milk, avoiding butter like the plague. Who are we to think we know better than people of older societies what's healthy? Especially when our nation is ravaged by sickness and disease.

But that's another post topic for another day. :)

Bella Beach bums

I can't resist posting just a few more pictures from our beach family reunion. These are provided courtesy of Uncle Russell (and used in this blog with his permission).
Thanks, Uncle Russ!

My smiley Kyle, enjoying what turned out to be the only sunny, warm day of our vacation.

Benjamin anticipating his dinner...
Owen "making out" with the glass in the front door (a passing walker got a great deal of amusement out of this, apparently).

Me, Owen, and Jeff by the fire pit behind the house

One of our group photos. We have such a great family ~ each and every one is a blessing. And I hope no one minds that I include this shot! I just love it. Notice Owen trying to escape from Ben's grasp on the bottom step. And Kyle was a bit distracted....

Friday, July 3, 2009

hit the beach!

We have arrived! This year the family reunion is at a sweet little place called Bella Beach. Yesterday the weather was absolutely stunning. Even though the air was a little cool, we all enjoyed our time down on the sand ~ especially watching the kids frolic.

Jeff and Benjamin, scoping out the water. Beautiful Pacific!

Kyle flirting with the waves.

Owen loves, loves, loves to play in the sand! He could not get enough of it. He just sat and played quietly for ages.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

prelude to a vacation

Tomorrow we'll be hitting the road!

It's time for the annual July 4th family reunion, which we all love so much. To my knowledge, it's always, always been in central Oregon. But this year? We're hitting the beach! Central Oregon is lovely, but I am so excited about feeling some sand between my toes again. It's been way too long!

But first things first. Packing.

I've got the boys almost completely packed - minus toothbrushes and sleeping bags. Likewise for my own things. Jeff will take care of his suitcase himself. It's the miscellaneous stuff that's still hanging over my head: food, beach toys, sunscreen.

Today has been filled with additional preparations: cooking the beans for the dish I'm contributing to dinner Thursday night, making cookies to take along, finalizing my list of food items, cutting carrot sticks, making another batch of homemade deodorant (not specifically for vacation, I was just nearly out), getting all washed baby wipes ready to roll with our supply of diapers.

The boys are super excited about this trip - they are true beach bums. Benjamin has his personal backpack jam-packed with toys, CDs, etc. We have pirate music to listen to en route, as well as beach and pirate books. I think we're nearly ready to roll.

The place where we'll be staying does have internet access, and we're planning to bring the laptop along. So I just may treat you with some pics of the fun while we're still there! I make no promises, though. The first order of business is fun, family, and fellowship.

We are so blessed in the extended family God has given us. Every year we're reminded anew just what a great group of people to whom he's linked us. I know this year will be memorable as always!

Just gotta finish packing first...