Friday, April 24, 2009

lucky duck

video

homemade "pop tarts"

My boys love pop tarts. And frankly, I refuse to buy them anymore. So I was thrilled when I found a recipe for homemade pop tarts online at Chez Pim. It's genius! Why didn't I think of this? (Well, I guess it could be that I'm not a genius....)


First you take a piece of pie crust dough, shape it into a rectangular shape, and roll it out...

I like to trim the edges a bit, although I couldn't cut a straight line if my life depended on it. Then I transfer to a baking sheet & spread on some jam. I like to use 100% fruit spread; this is blackberry. Mmm!

...Fold it in half & crimp the edges with a fork. I had a little 3-year-old help with this project.

Brush it with an egg wash and cut some vents in the top...

Bake... And voila! Homemade, refined-sugar-free* pop tarts.**

No, the jam on the bottom was not intentional. We had a little over-stuffing problem (more child "labor") and there was a jam issue. But still, delicious! My kids were thrilled, and I am too.



*I used a pie crust recipe which called for flour, butter, salt, and a pinch of stevia. It's also my preference to use a 100% fruit spread instead of sugar-sweetened jam.

**These are obviously not traditional "pop tarts" in the sense that they would go in the toaster and pop out again. But a toaster oven would be lovely. And frankly, we've never toasted pop tarts in our house, we like 'em straight out of the box...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

you can't always get what you want

Daddy: Ok, do you want us to say Psalm 23 or John 3:16 tonight?

Kyle: Is John 3:16 the one that starts with "The Lord is my shepherd..."?

Daddy: No, that's Psalm 23.

Kyle: I want that one.

Ben: No, I want us to say the other one!

Daddy: We can say that one too, but we'll do Kyle's choice first. He spoke up first.

(Daddy, Mama, Ben and Kyle begin reciting)

All: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteous--

Kyle: Wait, is this the short one? I was looking for the short one...

10 things I love about my little boy: Owen

1) His dimpled little knees. (does that really count for two?!)

2) His near-eternal patience (except when waiting for more cheese).

3) The way he leans his head on my shoulder and sighs.

4) His laugh when his brothers monkey around.

5) The excitement he feels when he says "hi hi hi hi hi hi..."

6) His extreme love of cheese. (And it's amazing that he can tolerate it, considering that I was eating dairy-free when he was exclusively nursing, because he seemed to have a reaction to dairy foods!)

7) How happily he plays by himself.

8) How happily he plays with the rest of us.

9) That toothy grin.

10) The sweetness that he brings to my life, every day.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

we love Stellan!

The boys and I are wearing orange today! It's to show our support & help us remember to pray for him. (Never mind Owen, he was really ready for a nap.)

And...Stellan survived the surgery! Thanks be to God!

Monday, April 20, 2009

a picnic day

The weather is beautiful today, and we decided to have a picnic lunch outside. Gorgeous!


Owen, the messiest eater in the West.
Kyle, cheeser extraordinaire.


Ben, my big kid!
He had the best time opening and closing the little red door. You can't see it here, but it's just in front of him: a half-door.

Mid-jump!


And, last but not least...


Buds on the lilac bush!
What a good day.


P.S. We took some cookies and went to congratulate our neighbors yesterday. It's a girl, and they're doing great!

the plan for Stellan: surgery

Prayers for Stellan

I've asked you to pray for baby Stellan a few times before this. Here I am, asking again.

He's been in the hospital for over four weeks now, and last week he was flown to Boston to be seen by a new doctor. It's been quite a roller coaster ride for this precious family. I cannot fathom what it must be like for the people who know and love this sweet boy.

He will be having surgery on Tuesday, for an ablation. It's a surgery not normally done on children this young (I believe they were hoping to hold off until he was 3 or 4 years old), and it does carry some risks.

Will you join me in praying for him? For Stellan, his doctors, and his family. Of course, it would be wonderful if God would choose to miraculously heal Stellan before the surgery. That may not be His will, or it may indeed be. Let's pray for comfort, peace, and a successful surgery.

But most of all, that God would continue to be glorified in this.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

silver linings

Okay, so yesterday was hard. I know that things could be so much worse; I get that. But somehow, as Jeff put it, the color of the whole thing has changed. We feel deflated, maybe even a bit depressed. We were on the home stretch, we could see the light at the end of the tunnel. We could almost taste it all. And now, because of an unlikely request that set off a chain reaction, it's all on hold.

Thank you all for your sweet comments. While I am still struggling with feeling blue over the snag we've hit with our move, I'm trying to keep things in perspective. I have a wonderful husband, healthy & vibrant children, and a Lord who loves me beyond my understanding. We should still be moving into our new house -- in the matter of a few weeks. And our buyers think they'll still be able to swing the purchase of this one.

So, in the meantime, I'm going to count my blessings. Here is a list of a few silver linings which I've found...

  • There are now a few more weeks to finish cleaning out those closets, as well as wiping out drawers.
  • We won't be in the middle of moving on the last day of Friday school (or barely moved on Showcase Night/Parents' Night).
  • Instead of moving this week, we will be able to take advantage of the beautiful weather they're forecasting. We can to go to the park, have a picnic, etc. Maybe even go to the zoo!
  • There's more time to lay a good food supply: an extra jar of almond butter, lots of crispy nuts, a few more meals in the freezer for when I'll be a bit busy to cook...
  • My neighbor had a baby a few weeks ago, and I somehow haven't found the time to take her something and see how things are going. I've regretted that, and this gives me a bit of a breather and a chance to do those things.
  • We have a few more chances to book our across-the-street babysitter while she still lives across the street.
  • I just realized that I just may get to see my Mother's Day lilac bush in bloom one more time! I've been sad about leaving that bush, to tell you the truth. The thought of getting to see it bloom again almost makes the wait worthwhile.

Silver linings. It may not the way I could choose, but we'll survive. And Lord-willing, in a few weeks we'll be settling in to our new home.
13Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." 14Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." 16As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. 17Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.
James 4:13-17

Saturday, April 18, 2009

rats!!!

Well...Jeff and I just got some really disappointing news. It seems that there's a very rare problem with the buyer of our house. They're having to re-work some details of their loan.

The good news is, they still want to buy our house, and it looks like they'll be able to manage it.

The bad news? It looks like all closing and moving will take place mid-May, instead of in two days as we'd expected.

Rats, rats, rats!

Looks like it's a few more weeks of living out of suitcases in the cardboard jungle.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

happy birthday, love

Happy birthday to my love, my sunshine, confidant, companion, resident comedian, the father to my children, my roommate, playmate, and friend.

I love you!

YOU ARE THE SUNSHINE OF MY LIFE (Stevie Wonder)

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
That's Why I'll Always Stay Around
You Are The Apple Of My Eye
Forever You'll Stay In My Heart

I Feel Like This Is The Beginning
Though I've Loved You For A Million Years
And If I Thought Our Love Was Ending
I'd Find Myself Drowning In My Own Tears

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
That's Why I'll Always Stay Around
You Are The Apple Of My Eye
Forever You'll Stay In My Heart

You Must Have Known That I Was Lonely
Because You Came To My Rescue
And I Know That This Must Be Heaven
How Could So Much Love Be Inside Of You

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
That's Why I'll Always Stay Around
You Are The Apple Of My Eye
Forever You'll Stay In My Heart

You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
That's Why I'll Always Stay Around
You Are The Apple Of My Eye
Forever You'll Stay In My Heart


Wednesday, April 15, 2009

bittersweet

The thought of leaving this house, of moving on, is both bitter and sweet.


It was here where we brought home our first wee baby, and began learning the art (never a science) of parenting.

Here in this house where Kyle was born...


...where our sons began learning what it means to be brothers.


Owen, too, was born in this home.

We've had so many happy times here.



I know we will create wonderful memories in our new home, but for now I'm indulging a bit in a sentimental journey...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

overheard

1) Kyle: Owen isn't eating his darnit.
Daddy: His...what?
Kyle: His darnit.
(silence)
Kyle: That yewwow thing that he has.
Daddy: ...His omelet.
Kyle: Yeah. His darnit!

2) Kyle, scowling: Mom and Dad? I want Ben to have to eat poop and pee!

3) Ben, at Easter dinner: Kyle and I are lamb-lovers. We love to eat lamb!

4) Mama, in the van: Hold on, you guys. We'll be home before you can say "Jack Robinson."
Ben, gleefully: Jack Robinson!!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!

Monday, April 13, 2009

a few quotes from an amazing book

I'm reading the most interesting book! It's called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. She's a mainstream author primarily known, I believe, for her novels. Her family adopted a goal to consume local-food only (with a few notable exceptions, such as coffee) for a year. While much of the food they ate was generated at their home (they raised a sizable garden, as well as chickens and turkeys), they also enjoyed the resources of the county in which they lived.

I've not yet finished it, but it's a fascinating read! Aside from a few evolutionary comments, I absolutely love it. Here are a few quotes from it...

"Transporting a single calorie of a perishable fresh fruit from California to New York takes about 87 calories worth of fuel. That's as efficient as driving from Philadelphia to Annapolis, and back, in order to walk three miles on a treadmill in a Maryland gym. There may be people who'd do it. Pardon me while I ask someone else to draft my energy budget." (pg. 68)


"Of the 400 million turkeys Americans consume each year, more than 99 percent of them are a single breed: the Broad-Breasted White,a quick-fattening monster bred specifically for the industrial-scale setting. ... If a Broad-Breasted White should escape slaughter, it likely wouldn't live to be a year old: they get so heavy, their legs collapse. In mature form they're incapable of flying, foraging, or mating. That's right, reproduction. ... For turkeys, the scheme that gave them an extremely breast-heavy body and ultra-rapid growth has also left them with a combination of deformity and idiocy that renders them unable to have turkey sex. Poor turkeys." (pg. 90)

"Grocery money is an odd sticking point for U.S. citizens, who on average spend a lower proportion of our income on food than people in any other country, or any heretofore in history. In our daily fare, even in school lunches, we broadly justify consumption of tallow-fried animal pulp on the grounds that it's cheaper than whole grains, fresh vegetables, hormone-free dairy, and such. Whether on school boards or in families, budget keepers may be aware of the health tradeoff but still feel compelled to economize on food - in a manner that would be utterly unacceptable if the health involved an unsafe family vehicle or a plume of benzene running through a school basement." (pg. 115)

"Insisting to farmers that our food has to be cheap is like commanding a ten-year-old to choose a profession and move out of the house now. It violates the spirit of the enterprise. It guarantees bad results. The economy of the arrangement will come around to haunt you. Anyone with a working knowledge of children would see the flaw in that parenting strategy. Similarly, it takes a farmer to understand the analogous truth about food production - that time and care yield quality that matters - and explain that to the rest of us. Industry will not, but individual market growers can communicate concern that the're growing food in a way that's healthy and safe, for people and place. They can educate consumers about a supply chain that's as healthy or unhealthy as we choose to make it." (pg. 116-117)

I find that I'm being really challenged in the idea of eating locally as much as possible. It makes me shudder to think of all those bananas from South America!

We've signed up to be a part of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) this summer. I am thrilled down to my toes. Beginning in June, we'll enjoy a basket of local, fresh produce every week. It'll be a challenge to learn to cook and eat vegetables we've (likely) never tried before. I am very much a creature of habit when it comes to veggies. But I'm really excited about taking this on -- and besides, they provide recipes!

To find a CSA near you, go to the Local Harvest website by clicking here.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He saved the day

5The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.' Now I have told you."
Matthew 28:5-7



Have a blessed Easter!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

color me fun




grocery store wars

I enjoyed this video, and my boys are bananas about it!

Friday, April 10, 2009

O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

Text: Anonymous; trans. by Paul Gerhardt and James W. Alexander


O sacred Head, now wounded,
with grief and shame weighed down,
now scornfully surrounded
with thorns, thine only crown:
how pale thou art with anguish,
with sore abuse and scorn!
How does that visage languish
which once was bright as morn!

What thou, my Lord, has suffered
was all for sinners' gain;
mine, mine was the transgression,
but thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior!
'Tis I deserve thy place;
look on me with thy favor,
vouchsafe to me thy grace.

What language shall I borrow
to thank thee, dearest friend,
for this thy dying sorrow,
thy pity without end?
O make me thine forever;
and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
outlive my love for thee.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

10 things I love about my little boy: Benjamin

1) He still asks to sit on my lap.

2) The way he is such a helper, especially with his baby brother. He's becoming my right-hand man!

3) The enthusiasm he's showing as he grows more comfortable with his reading.

4) That he's always been convinced that his dad and I will keep on having babies...even before I was.

5) His sweet spirit when he tells me something on the dinner table is good, even if I can tell he doesn't like it.

6) His eagerness to tell his younger brothers about the world, imparting his 6-year-old knowledge.

7) The way he prays so earnestly for baby Stellan.

8) His pragmatism.

9) His growing spirit of adventure when it comes to trying new foods.

10) The evidence that he will be a wonderful daddy someday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

food snob

So, I suppose I've always been a bit of a food snob.

Between the spring of 1998 and the summer of 1999, I lost 65 lbs. I had always struggled a bit with my weight, and I had finally had enough. I'd had enough of hating my body. I was tired of crying over it, and wanted to do something about it. My weight loss strategy consisted of portion control, "balanced" meals, and going way low-fat. I became the low-fat/fat-free queen. If there was an item at the grocery store that bore a "fat-free" description, you can bet that I knew about it. I've spent so much money on fat-free cookies, low-fat crackers, fat-free & no sugar added ice cream, fat-free cheese, and so much more. It makes me feel a bit sick now to think about it all.

Yet I suppose that playing the food snob goes farther back than that. I was a picky eater as a child. I know kids tend to be, but I suspect that I frustrated my parents far more than did my brother. I turned my nose up at...well, the list is really too long to go into here. It might be easier to say that I would eat only one variety of cheese (American) until the day I finally deigned to try cheddar, and as far as vegetables go, I believe I had an "acceptable list" of three. My mom's meals were tasty, but I was very stubborn about what I allowed to pass my lips.

And yes, I am certainly getting what I deserve in my children. They, too are...selective eaters. But I do see improvement!

Back to my days of being the fat-free queen. All my life I had been a slave to the “diet dictocrats” and the belief that way to be healthy was through a low-fat diet. Even after I had lost that weight (and I maintained my new weight, too) I frequently had little slip-ups where I would overeat on “fattening” things -- because eating as I was, I simply wasn't satisfied. I was borderline obsessive about low-fat food (although I gave myself free rein with sugar!!), and it made for very dissatisfying mealtimes.

Then last summer I stumbled across some information that started a revolution in how we eat. I've learned how essential fat is to our health (yes, even animal fats!) and the wonderful benefits of raw foods, particularly dairy. Yes, we've started buying organic foods, but that's only part of it. There is so much validity to preparing whole foods in the traditional way (although I certainly use modern equipment like a food processor, mixer, etc.). For all that we think we know about food and nutrition now, it seems we as a society have lost some vital knowledge of what's best for our bodies that people of past ages practiced.

And the result is that I so satisfied in the foods I eat these days! We eat a lot of butter in our house, and coconut oil, and olive oil. We eat as much grass-fed red meat as we can manage to squeeze out of our budget. Pastured chickens, and eggs from the same. Full-fat yogurt, milk, and cheese. I doubt I'll buy any low-fat anything, ever again.

Here is some information about why whole dairy products are so good for our health:

Average butterfat content from old-fashioned cows at the turn of the century was over 4% (or more than 50% of calories). Today butterfat comprises less than 3% (or less than 35% of calories). Worse, consumers have been duped into believing that low-fat and skim milk products are good for them. Only by marketing low-fat and skim milk as a health food can the modern dairy industry get rid of its excess poor-quality, low-fat milk from modern high-production herds. Butterfat contains vitamins A and D needed for assimilation of calcium and protein in the water fraction of the milk. Without them protein and calcium are more difficult to utilize and possibly toxic. Butterfat is rich in short- and medium chain fatty acids which protect against disease and stimulate the immune system. It contains glyco-spingolipids which prevent intestinal distress and conjugated linoleic acid which has strong anticancer properties. (source)

There is so much freedom in eating this way! I am falling back in love with cooking again, and I feel so good about the service that these foods are doing to my family. So... I guess I'm still a food snob. It seems I always will be. But the changes we've made feel so solid. No more will we be tossed by the waves of trendy diets. Instead of being the obsessive low-fat queen, I'm once again picky about my food. Yet now I have a much greater sense of satisfaction & peace.

My hope is that my children will grow up loving real, whole, well-prepared food, and never be slaves to the way society expects us to eat.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Almond Cookies

These cookies have quickly become a family favorite! I believe they are the ones my husband enjoys the best. With a food processor they are very easy to make, and they're deliciously satisfying.

This recipe comes from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon (with Mary Enig, Ph.D.). That is a book worth every penny, no doubt about it!

Almond Cookies

1 1/2 c. crispy almonds* (raw or roasted would work too)
1/2 cup butter, softened, OR coconut oil
1 c. arrowroot
1/2 c. Rapadura
1/2 t. sea salt
grated rind of 1 lemon **
1 t. vanilla extract
1 t. almond extract
about 18 crispy almonds

Place almonds in food processor and process to a fine meal. Add remaining ingredients, except 18 almonds, and process until well blended. Form dough into walnut-sized balls and place on buttered cookie sheets. Press an almond into each. Bake at 300 degrees for about 20 minutes (after 5 minutes in the oven, press cookies down lightly with a fork). Let cook completely before removing to an airtight container. Store in refrigerator.


*Crispy Almonds: Soak 4 cups almonds in 1 T. sea salt & filtered water, for at least 7 hours. Drain water off, spread on a baking pan & place in a warm oven (150) for 12-24 hours, stirring occasionally, until comletely dry and crisp. Store in an airtight container.

**I just add a dash of lemon zest. I've also made this recipe without adding either one.

10 things I love about my little boy: Kyle

1) He has great enthusiasm for just about everything he does.

2) That he absolutely adores milk.

3) He loves to spend the night at his grandma and grandpa's house, and does really well there.

4) The way he is always so pleased and surprised to see the mountain when we're out driving.

5) That no matter how much he fights with his older brother, they're still best friends.

6) He comes to his dad and I when he's afraid.

7) Even when he has a hard time going into a classroom (Sunday school, Friday school) when I have to leave, he always has a blast.

8) That he loves to sing, and does this with all his might.

9) The way he is so happy to wave his big flag during worship time at Friday school.

10) His hunger to understand more about Jesus.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

the last spring in our first house

Here are a few photos of evidence of spring around here. The first flower to make its presence known in out yard is the stately daffodil. I planted these bulbs a few months before Benjamin was born.

It always brings me great joy to see the hyacinths blooming. What a wonderful surprise it was to discover these beauties in my yard the first spring! They've needed no tending, yet each year they came up, smelling heavenly, a kind of a promise to me after the long, rainy winter.

And the crowning glory of our yard in spring? These lovely trees out front. I am so thankful that I got to see them fully in bloom before we move away.

Friday, April 3, 2009

unraveling

Everything seems to be unraveling lately. My closets. My kitchen. Any shred of organization. My entire house, along with any hope of order.

And I'm not really handling it well. I didn't handle it very well in December of 2007 when we (and by "we" I mean Jeff and some other guys) re-did the floor of our downstairs. It's all just...upheaval. Furniture moved out of rooms, everything rearranged, a huge amount of extra clutter, piled on top of any previous clutter. I hate it. It's the kind of thing that makes me seriously question whether I could ever handle any major kind of home improvement project. I really think it has the potential to make me lose my mind. Therefore, we shopped more for bigger houses than for, say, big lots where we could build onto the house. A friend recently told me the story of when they added onto their kitchen and dining room. She cooked Thanksgiving in her winter coat because there was a wall missing. Me? I would come unglued.

Just the same, I am struggling with even this. Rooms half packed, the couch lined with boxes. Deciding what we'll need in the next three week or so, and what we can live without. Trying to imagine what it will be like to make the actual transition, when I'll have to stop cooking in this kitchen, etc.

And, of course, there is the cooking. A daily task, as I am out of practice at doubling recipes and freezing half of it ~ not to mention the fact that we've implemented a new budget, and I have yet to figure out just how to make that function, budget-wise. I'm working it out one week at a time, but buying extra and stocking up is still a bit of a mystery. I'll figure it out, but that's not helping the way my life feels right now.

Unraveling.

I'm behind. I'm sure a big part of it is that we've been sick for the past month or so. First there was Benjamin's pneumonia, the rest of us have had colds. And then a second round, which included a fever for both Owen & I. This turned into an ear infection... you get the idea. So it's been a challenge to keep up with the laundry & cleaning (not that I'm that great in the best of times). I'm keeping my head above water when it comes to food preparation, but barely. And I always seem to be a step behind on the clean-up...

And then there's the packing.

I think I may be a bit in denial of the fact that we are moving in three weeks. I mean, I'm packing, but...there is a lot to pack. We're talking about seven years' worth of stuff, including the transition from being a childless couple to having three boys. It's overwhelming to think about; I barely seem to scratch the surface, and I inevitably stir up a mess every time I make an attempt. This only adds to the general feeling that I am losing control of my house here.

Still, I have no doubt that it'll all be worth it. I am eager and excited about the change that we're making. I know that this is a necessary step in the process; that what will be moved must first be taken a part. But it's all pretty unsettling, unnerving. I feel that I'm living in a chaos of my own making.

I'll just focus on the idea of everything being knit together again....

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

our future home

We were able to hang out in our new house today, while the inspector was there doing his thing. It was the first chance the boys had to see the inside. They were so excited, and frankly, so was I.

Here's part of the living room, as viewed from the study (aka the homeschooling room!).


This is a view of the kitchen, from the dining room. I love that we're going to have a nice, roomy dining room.

Another view of the kitchen. I can hardly wait to move my stuff in there!

Ben: Mom, what is this room that Kyle & I are in?
Me: Honey, that's a closet.
Ben, delighted: Oh!!

And, Owen & I in the master bathroom. The tub as a mirror at one end and a glass-walled shower at the other. I think the tub just may be big enough for birthing babies!


We had a great time. Benjamin & Kyle were so excited to be in there. They just ran around, explored, played hide and seek, and just rolled around on the carpet. It was so much fun to watch. And I really enjoyed working out furniture placement. Jeff is working on a scaled sketch at this very moment!