Wednesday, October 31, 2012

who's who? tigger edition

“The wonderful thing about tiggers
Is tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy fun, fun, fun, fun, fun
But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I'm the only one
I'm the only one.”  (source)

These Who's Who?  posts have been so much fun for me!  Alas, I fear they may be drawing to an end - but I couldn't resist one more round.  So here you go: Who's who? Tigger Edition.  Can you tell my boys apart?

The answers are coming on Friday!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10 things I love about my little boy: Gabe

1)   His killer smile: those dimples!

2)   The way he gets oh-so-much fun out of chasing balls around the house.

3)   His curiosity.

4)   His love of our two cats (though I'm not sure how they feel about it!).

5)   The way he loves me!

6)   His air of mischief.

7)   The way he says "Dada."

8)   His love for all of his big sibs.

9)   The way he rocks his Tigger costume.

10)  How he appreciates the beauty of fresh vegetables, even if he's not all that keen to eat them...

Monday, October 29, 2012

I have learned the secret.

I live in Oregon.  Northwestern Oregon, to be precise.

It's beautiful here, truly.  It's green, for one thing.  There are mountains and rivers, waterfalls and, a couple of hours away, beaches.  Springtime brings an explosion of blooms: crocuses, daffodils, and rhododendron bushes.  It is gorgeous.  

Then there's the summer.  Clear sunny skies, largely comfortable temperatures.  Beautiful.

And then, autumn.  My favorite, hands down.  The season turns.  There are crisp, cool mornings...the trees donning their glamorous gowns of red, orange, and rich yellow.  Absolutely stunning.

But then autumn, glorious spiced autumn turns gray.  The sky grows dim and the rains begin.   Rains which, as seasoned NW dwellers know well, will not really stop for many months.  The year grows old, the days grow short, and everything grows damp and - well, soggy.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not from 'round these parts.  I was a happy Midwesterner, and transplanting to this part of the country was something of a shock to my system.  It took me a long time to begin to acclimate, to accept the rain for what it is: part of the package of this place.  A huge part of what makes it so beautiful; the driving force of all the greenery - and those lovely springtime blossoms.

Ah, but I didn't really find the key until last year.  That missing piece, the thing that keeps me from becoming grumpy as soon as the sun hides its face.  That key, that secret (for me anyway) is very simple.  When I go out in the rain, I wear a hat.

A hat!  One with a brim, to keep the raindrops off my glasses and my face.  A covering to keep my head dry and warm.  Somehow, wearing a hat as I move through the drizzle, I feel something like a superhero.

Perhaps it sounds silly.  Maybe it's superficial.  But for me, it is the key.  At long last I've learned the secret to being content out in the wet, wet, wet northwest elements, whether cold or not, whether I'm watching soccer or choosing pumpkins.

The humble hat.

Friday, October 26, 2012

homeschooling: the first few weeks

 It occurs to me that after a little bit of educational drama, I've been very quiet about school since our first few days.  Perhaps an update is in order?

So, how's it been going, you might wonder.  Here's the answer: pretty good.  Overall I think we've gotten off to a very positive start.  It hasn't been perfect - and it only took us seven days for our first schooltime-related tears.  They were connected to writing, unsurprisingly.    But thus far schooltime angst has been pretty rare, as has been crying.
on one sunny morning, we took our books outside
I feel busy.  Busier by far than I've ever felt during school mornings.  Whereas before I might be able to get a project accomplished in the kitchen or disappear to work on laundry for 10 or 15 minutes, these days I feel lucky if I can get a load of clothes tossed into the washing machine before lunchtime.    The new approach we're trying is more time-intensive for me, thus I'm having to be a little creative about my own household chores.  But it's working out.  And frankly, I am enjoying myself during school time!  I find myself feeling really excited about the year ahead.
balloon model of our solar system (the sun is on the left)
The thing I am struggling with is my preschoolers.  I sometimes wish I could clone myself so that I could work work with the preschoolers and the elementary crowd at the same time.   My younger ones have been behaving themselves, mostly.   It's only that I wish I had more time to do individual lessons with them.  I tell myself that they're young and that for them, play is an important part of their development - and I know that's true.  But I also know that they relish that personal time with mama, and that there are a lot of worthwhile things I could be doing more with them.  For example, my 4-year-old is very interested in learning about numbers right now.  We are managing to slip in some time to work on it together, but it's a huge challenge.  I always wish we could do more.

The routine will change as time goes on, I know.  The book we're pushing to finish reading together will give way to one that doesn't take quite so much time each day.  Monday school will end next month, and then we will have Mondays back for home activities again.  We'll continue to get more settled into things.   This is only the beginning.

But honestly?  It's been a pretty good beginning, after all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

it's about time!

This will be my twelfth autumn and winter in the Pacific northwest.  As such, I thought it was about time I got myself some rain boots.   The kids all have them, of course.  But up to this point I've been slogging through soccer games, outings to the pumpkin patch, and various other squishy outings, doing my very best to keep my sneakers from being overwhelmed with mud.  

But now I have an infinitely better option for rainy, soggy days.

And it's a good thing, too...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

gluten-free me

almond flour biscuits

It's finally happened.

You know, I've always sort of wondered if this day might come.  I've collected recipes from time to time; as you know I've even gone grain free for a period of time.

But it was always my own idea.  It was always a sort of elective experiment.  An attempt to lose weight, mostly.  Always my doing, and truthfully I may have been a little proud of that fact.  I didn't have to avoid grains, I was doing it for a higher purpose.

And's my doctor's idea.

Here's something, call it a newsflash if you want.  Or a confession.  Regardless, it's a fact: my health is not perfect.

Is anyone's?  Maybe, but I rather doubt it.  The truth is, all of us have ways we could improve, things we need to work on.  Even if you do "eat perfect" (and very few of us do, from what I hear), there are environmental dangers, toxins in our homes, and so on.  I try not to think too much about all of that because when I do, it freaks me the heck out.  Instead I do the best I can with my current resources, pray, and hope for the best.  Regardless, that stuff is out there.

I shudder when I think about the "foods" I used to put into my body, and on a regular basis too.  It absolutely horrifies me.  And while I try not to obsess about it, and try to give them some freedom to make their own mistakes, at times I've been horrified at the things my children have eaten.  I have learned so much over the past four years (just after I started this blog!) when our family's diet revolution began.  And honestly I've still got so, so much to learn.

So, I know that four years of (imperfect) improved eating doesn't erase all that came before.  And I know that I still have many kinks to work out in my personal eating habits.   There are things I'm battling, and I'd prefer not to go into here and now, but they're real and they're problematic.  Nothing too serious, certainly nothing desperate, but there nonetheless.  All of this brings me at last to my point:  my doctor wants me to try living gluten-free.

I'm still figuring out what that means for me.  Obviously I'm not consuming all the same things I was before, and I deeply regret the fact that I'll need to put away my sourdough starter for while.  But there are other issues.  What about cross-contamination?  How hardcore do I need to be here?  Should I have my own personal butter dish?

These are the questions that keep me up at night.

No, not really.  But they do have me wondering.  Clearly a call to my naturopath/doctor is in order.  In the meantime, I'm gathering ideas and recipes like crazy.  In a way, I feel God has prepared me somewhat for this moment.  Those times I've done the 40 days regimen in Jordan Rubin's The Maker's Diet?  My brief flirtation with a Paleo lifestyle?  Because the truth is, I've been gathering grain-free recipes for months, even years.  Perhaps I secretly feared this day would come eventually.  Maybe I liked the idea of variety in my diet, which has always included grains - and since our diet revolution, properly prepared grains (soaked, sprouted, or fermented) as much as possible.  Either way I'm glad.

If you're interested, HERE is a link to my Grain-free Goodness collection on Pinterest.  I think it shows real promise.  Some of the recipes here are tried, true, and kid-approved (I may have to arm wrestle my boys for the last almond flour pancake the next time!).  Some appealed to me but haven't been attempted yet.

I am thankful to have friends with experience to draw on.  I have a wise doctor.  I have the knowledge that I've done it before - even if on a very limited scale - and I can survive, even flourish while denying myself such things.  I'm grateful that this moment has come in a day and age when there are so many options out there.  So much of the legwork on achieving a fulfilling gluten-free diet has already been done.

And I'm thankful that I can still have other things I love: grass-fed meat, cheese, bacon, butter, honey, coconut oil, nuts, and other goodies.

So...wish me luck.  I'm stepping off a little here, into the unknown.  I'm hoping (I guess!) that it will be a good thing, that I'll see positive changes.  And that maybe it won't have to last forever.

One thing for sure: I know I'll be relying on those who have "gone before" in this journey.  If you're one of those, thank you!   And thanks for your support.  God bless you!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

because you know I can never resist

Those of you who, through the act of enormous patience, have been reading this little old blog since the know I can never resist sharing photos of our annual trip to the local pumpkin patch.  As this year is no goes!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

remembering Riley

In honor of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, this morning I'm re-posting a piece I wrote in January of 2009.  It's for Riley Jordan, who left a permanent mark on my life and heart.  The pain dulls with time, but I will never forget the precious little one who graced my life for such a short season.



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.

Friday, October 12, 2012

soaking it in

This isn't the first time I've done this, and I'm sure it won't be the last.  

 But when all the forecasts indicate that, after a lovely Indian summer, the rains are about to begin...well, you've gotta seize the day.

And so, we did.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

tomato harvest

This was today's haul of tomatoes: October 11, 2012.  Tomorrow the rain is supposed to begin.  Will it be our last harvest, I wonder?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

a fairweather shopper

Ah, the farmers' market.  I love being there so much.

I love the cool morning air, the fresh new day.  I love the dewy produce: crisp heads of lettuce in all manner of variety, whichever fruit is in season at the moment.  I even love all the artisan items.  There are things such as jewelry, knitwear, doll clothing, and homemade condiments - to name just a few.

I always count the weeks to the first day of the farmers' market (generally around the second weekend of May), and lament when it comes to an end at the close of October.  I adore the idea, the atmosphere, and the people.  Folks just seem happier there, somehow.

And yet...I haven't been there much this year.

I've gone a few times, and mightily enjoyed my time strolling the rows.  I've gone home with my arms full of berries - or honey - or both.  I've eyed the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, sauntered to the tempo of the musicians, sampled the goods.  The market is so much fun.


The parking is horrible.  There are many more cars around than previously.  The times I've been this year, I've had to park considerably farther away than I used to.  And when you're carrying a heavy load, and/or have a child with you, or you're in a hurry, or it's chilly or rainy - well, it's less than convenient.

Another thing I've thought through is the fact that it's increasingly important to me to purchase organic produce - certified or otherwise.  Although there are numerous vegetable booths, only a few advertise being organic or "no spray."  Granted, this issue is more important for some items then others.  Strawberries?  I'll only buy organic.  Squash? I relax my standards a little.  But my family's health is too important to me to compromise much in this area.

In fact, the farm from which I prefer to buy, they have a farm stand elsewhere which is open 6 days a week.  I can park very near by, and if I have kids along I can even leave them in the car for the two minutes it takes to hop out and make my selection.  Also, we are getting a ton of vegetables from our weekly CSA baskets, and I purchase farm fresh eggs from people who live in my area.  We are still buying local, seasonal goods from the farmer.

So truly, between the parking, the weather, and the time ...making it to the farmers' market hasn't seemed as worth the effort this year.

I do feel bad about that.  Because truly, I love the farmers' market, and I do want to support those sellers.  But you know, there are seasons.  Right now being a little more efficient is important to me.  I don't have a lot of extra time to waste on Saturday mornings.  Maybe when my kids are older, maybe when the season changes (and certainly before the CSA baskets are ready for the year) I will frequent those beloved stalls again.  My heart is there with the local sellers, the seasonal food, the fresh, good, clean stuff - and those who are likeminded.

Still, I don't feel too badly.  If the parking situation is any indication, my local farmers' market is growing wildly popular.  So...I suppose one little suburban mom staying away isn't gonna matter too terribly much.

Even so, I'll be back.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

they said it couldn't be done

 Caramel apples.  Can the nearly-toothless boy handle one?  Against all odds...

 ...he could!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

the Monday me

I once read a story about a girl.  At age 15, she wrote herself a letter to be opened by her older self - whom she expected to have a wildly successful life by that point.  She wrote to her future, wiser self to remind her of the girl she'd once been: of her optimism and ambition.  She wrote, thinking of herself years down the road, not knowing the specifics but sure of her future all the same.

I do something like that sometimes.  I envision myself in a week - a day - a few hours.   But I don't write to, not that.  Instead, I do chores.

I sweep the floor.  Load the dishwasher...or empty it.  I scrub the pots.  Feed the sourdough starter so that it will be ready for breakfast.

I tidy the books and check the room.

I set out my favorite mug and load the coffee pot with my current Teeccino.

I've done all I can for her, the Monday me.   I've set the stage, put things in motion, looked ahead.  I've taken care of her as best I know how.

And I've written her a sort of love letter.

Goodnight,  Sunday me...

Thursday, October 4, 2012

the first day of school

Yesterday was our first day of the new school year.

We had our traditional donuts and cider (along with some cheesy eggs) at breakfast...

...and decorated our personal binders.

Then we did some school work, read some books, did some dancing...oh, and we took school photos too.
Ben, 4th grade (Don't ask me what he's doing.  I have no idea.)

 Kyle, 2nd (and a half) grade
Owen, preschool

Elise, pre-preschool

Gabriel, distracter extraordinaire