Monday, March 28, 2011

10 things about Monday School

Yes, it's that time of year again. Today marked the first (full) day of Monday School through our homeschool co-op. In honor of the beginning of the spring term, a few notes.

10 Things About Monday School

1) A little boy looks so much more grown up when entering a preschool classroom, than he did entering a toddler one.

2) My 8-year-old has a new best friend. His surname is the same as the title of a certain "caped crusader." Awesome.

3) Putting my 5-year-old in with the 1st graders is a little freaky, even if his reading ability is astounding.

4) Agreeing to teach two Lego classes is not a gentle way to segue into being an official teacher.

5) If I want my Lego pupils to construct a building, I must take all of the wheels away. Building a vehicle is just too tempting.

6) Teaching in a classroom is hard. Way harder than natural childbirth.

7) If I have to lay down the law with a child, it's nice to know that I have his mother's support.

8) Encouragement in the homeschooling community is vitally important. I value the friendships I've made in this co-op, so much.

9) Boys and girls behave very differently in a classroom setting.

10) I may well teach again for some term in the future. But I think I will have to watch a birth video or two before I decide...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

exploring grain-free recipes

Recently I mentioned that my husband and I are revisiting the Maker's Diet. (Phase 3 begins this coming week!) One of the big things about the first four weeks is that there are no grains allowed. None, not even properly soaked or sprouted ones. No wheat, no rice, no millet, no quinoa. It's a pretty big change from the way we normally eat.

Early on, I was inspired to seek out alternative recipes. I'm thankful to say that I was able to find many grain-free recipes among the community of real food bloggers.

Almond Flour

These crackers are a recipe I originally found for Elise. Grains are super hard on the digestive system of young children, and I am attempting to keep my baby away from grains as much as possible for the next year or so. I do let her have them sometimes (properly prepared), but for the most part I'm steering clear.

At any rate, these Vegan Herb Crackers ended up being an amazingly delicious find. Jeff, Elise,and I love them! They're made with almond flour (which you can make at home for a fraction of what it costs buy the product ready-made). They're so simple to make, too - assuming you have parchment paper handy.

Coconut Flour

Another flour I've been experimenting with is coconut flour. High in protein, high in fiber, and low in carbohydrates, it seemed to make perfect sense. Coconut is extremely nutritious, besides the nutritional benefits to coconut flour, these recipes only call for a small amount. A little of it goes quite a long way. Thus, it's more frugal than it may seem at first.

We've been loving Coconut Flour Pancakes in the morning. Smeared with butter and almond butter, they are delectable! There's no need to plan ahead and soak the flour. And one recipe uses three eggs, so they are nutrient-dense.

Another great recipe is for Coconut Flour Bread. It's delicious as a simple addition to dinner, or toasted to go alongside eggs at breakfast. It is a shallow, dense bread which doesn't lend itself to sandwiches, but it works very nicely with a beautiful pat of butter.

Going Grain-Free

I'm so thankful to have found these recipes as we make our way through the six weeks of the Maker's Diet. Jeff and I even enjoyed sausage pizza last week, thanks to an almond flour crust recipe. I don't intend to stay away from grains indefinitely, but going grain-free for a few weeks has certainly been eye-opening. I've so much enjoyed playing with the recipes, and it's nice to have options of things I can make for my little girl.

So while I don't intend to avoid grains forever, I do plan to continue seeking a variety of nutrient-rich recipes. It's fun, it's healthy, and my waistline appreciates the low-carb lifestyle!

Saturday, March 26, 2011


...loves being three years old. a yellow raincoat.

...speaks the most splendid sentences you could imagine.

...regularly tells us that he learned about "elephants" in Sunday school. totally fun-loving.

...will choose raisins for his snack, every time.

...almost never touches a vegetable.

...asks, "Can I go wiff ya, Dad?" pretty much every time his daddy is about to walk out the door.

...loves being outside.

...sleeps like an angel.

...has the most expressive pair of brown eyes I have ever seen.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Lady Spring... tiptoeing in.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

revisiting the Maker's Diet

A while back, Jeff and I made a decision.

Though we've continued to follow a traditional diet in our household, we needed a little something. A sort of jump-start. A re-dedication. An exercise in self-restraint. A dietary cleanse, if you will. So we decided, the two of us, to visit the 40-Day regimen that started us down the path. We resolved do revisit The Maker's Diet.

Some of you may remember that The Maker's Diet is a book by Jordan Rubin. It advocates a traditional diet - that is, eating foods that have been traditionally eaten (for hundreds and thousands of years), prepared in a way that is easily digestible by the human body. It sounds simple enough, and in many ways it is. But in today's climate, it can be a bit of a challenge. I had to learn to seek out recipes for soaking grains, sources for raw cheese and grass-fed beef, and so on. The benefits are well worth it, though!

Getting back to the 40-Day regimen: it's a series of approximately three two-week phases. The first two weeks are the most restricted, the second phase is a little more liberal, and so on. The main goals are to regulate blood sugar levels, balance hormones, and concentrate on foods that are the easiest to digest. For example, in phase 1, milk is not allowed at all, and the only cheese allowed are goat milk cheese and sheep milk cheese. This is because the milk from these animals is more readily digested than cow's milk is, even raw cow's milk.

I won't bore you with all the details, but we're in the middle of the process right now. And I must tell you: I feel terrific! It occurred to me the other afternoon that I love how I feel when I'm doing the Maker's Diet's 40 Days.

To be perfectly honest, I didn't want to do it again. I'd grown very comfortable in my habits of eating pancakes (soaked!) with my boys in the morning, consuming regular (naturally sweetened!) desserts, and enjoying all manner of delicious foods. Healthy, homemade, well-prepared foods, generally, but...somehow I'd developed some bad habits. Too many sweets, for one thing. Stress eating, for another.

So I wasn't very excited about restricting myself, but I agreed to go along for the ride. It would be good to exercise some self-discipline, and besides...I still have 5-10 lbs of pregnancy weight that I'd like to lose. My memory of last time includes losing more weight than I ever imagined, quite effortlessly.

And you know what? It hasn't been as hard as I was expecting. Once again, it was the fruit restrictions that chaffed the most (probably a testament to my affection for sugars - even natural ones). And as I am not a big fan of goat milk cheese, I really missed my raw cheddar and jack. There was one bad afternoon when I wanted to eat all kinds of things that were forbidden. But overall, it's been a great experience.

Granted, the weight has not come slipping off the way it did before. Our dietary changes were not as drastic as they were in 2008 - I suppose that's it. But still, the number on the scale is slowly going down. I feel satisfied. I feel in control of myself. I feel even better (healthier, energy-level, vibrant) than I did before...and that's saying something because I've felt good for a long time.

So here's to the Maker's Diet, and the 40 Days. I can only hope that the rest of the process will be as fulfilling as the first few weeks have been.

Be well!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

she... still cruising at 13 months.

...has become quite a little chatterbox. Most of it is babble, but it's endearing nonetheless.

...loves getting toted around by her big brothers.

...feels that her brother's potty is fascinating.

...finds beauty in a piece of bathroom tissue.

...can be something of a diva at the dinner table. (We're working on it!)

...enjoys crawling around with one of her brothers' discarded socks clutched in her tiny hand.

...frequently waves a greeting to faces she sees in picture frames.

...unrolls toilet paper rolls. (I wonder who was doing it first - Elise, or the kittens?) currently cutting her 2nd tooth.

...recently turned her pancake into a telephone.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Friday, March 11, 2011

a reminder (for me, too)

Excuse This House
(Author Unknown)

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there,
Ours boasts it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges are on the doors
I should apologize, I guess
For toys strew on the floor.

But I sat down with my child
And we played and laughed and read
And if the doorbell doesn’t shine,
His eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I’m forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I’d like to cook and clean and scrub,
But first I’ll be a mother.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

I've got birthday cake on the brain. And while I shan't show you the poor cut up little monkey from Owen's recent birthday (the photo above is from my birthday last fall), I thought I'd share my go-to recipe when it comes to birthday cakes.

I've tweaked and sampled, and this is the recipe I've come up with. It's as nourishing as I know how to make it, and utterly delicious. We are a chocolate-loving family, and this cake is always a hit!

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

1 3/4 c. sprouted wheat flour, plus more for dusting
2 c. Sucanat
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. baking soda
1 t. aluminum-free baking powder
1/2 t. sea salt
1 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. gently melted coconut oil
2 large eggs (preferably pastured)
1 t. vanilla
1 c. freshly brewed hot coffee**

Preheat the oven to 350*. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper; butter paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out excess.

Using an electric mixer, combine flour, sucanat, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk with oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly beat into dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in hot coffee until fully mixed in.

Pour batter into prepared pans. (It will be quite thin - don't worry, it's supposed to be that way.)

Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't overbake!

For the frosting, I almost always use Basic Chocolate Frosting - Coconut Cream from Wardeh at GNOWFGLINS. I double the recipe in order to have enough frosting for this particular cake. It spreads great and tastes delicious.


**I recently tried using Teeccino in place of the coffee, and it was very well-received.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Benjamin and Kyle came running up to me, flushed with arguing. In one boy's fist was a blue sticky hand.

"It's my sticky hand!"

"No, it's my sticky hand!"


"No, mine!"

I took a deep breath and turned to my children. "Well, let's see," I said slowly, "I guess what we ought to do is to cut the sticky hand in half. That way, you each can have part of it."

My oldest son immediately grinned at me. "No, he can have it," he said, and turned away.

His younger brother grinned at me as well. "Yeah, cut it in half!"

Now, it was my turn to grin. "It's yours," I said, handing it to my oldest son.

After all, who am I to argue with Solomon?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Owen is 3!

My sweet 3rd son is now three years old. His smile, silliness, and sweetness light up our home. We are so blessed to have Owen in our family!

Here are a couple of photos from Saturday (when we celebrated with friends). Owen requested a Curious George party. Somehow, that seemed very appropriate...

*Note: Call me silly, but I have a thing about sharing photos of other people's kids on my blog. I try to avoid it most of the time. So if there might be a chance of your child being included in a featured photo, and you're wondering why they're not there, it's my attempt to respect your privacy. Just wanted to clarify!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"She cooks healthy."

"She cooks healthy."

I don't know that this statement is generally taken as a compliment. In our society today, "healthy" food is thought of as being low-fat and dry. I can remember, back when I was the low-fat queen, getting quite annoyed when I would hear people make snide remarks about fat-free being taste-free. And of course, you can find techniques to create tasty meals that are low in fat, but high in flavor and moisture. It takes quite a bit of effort at times, but it is possible.

Still, I believe that there is immeasurable merit to getting back to traditional ways of eating...and that includes incorporating fats into the diet.

As you may remember, I have had quite a departure from the way I used to define "healthy food." These days our healthy meals include red meat, vegetables swimming with melted butter (preferably from pastured cows), and chicken with the skin on - white meat and dark. We eat a lot of coconut oil - I use it to fry eggs, cook pancakes, make nut butter, bake, and even make candy. Our family's diet is a far cry from the way it used to be.

So if you hear someone say of me (as they do sometimes), "She cooks healthy," don't jump to any conclusions. It's probably not what you think. I believe it's healthier to be a meat-eater than a vegetarian. I don't own a can of Pam - I grease my pans with the real thing these days (thanks be to God!). And I believe that real butter is better for you than the bread it's spread upon.

That's how we do "healthy" around here!