Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Family Picture

Just wanted to share this year's family picture. Well, not the one that will be on Christmas cards, I'm not revealing that one yet! But I'll post a few from that day. It was a crazy day, a bit stressful and pretty cold. However, the pictures are treasures. We've taken our own Christmas card picture the last three years, which is a mixed bag of less stress than a real photography session but maybe a little more stressfulin other ways! Okay, here are some pictures. No babies or puppies were injured during this process-unless you count the cold!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

New Traditions

I grew up in a home overflowing with Christmas cheer. My mom decorated with her favorite Santas, played Christmas music as soon as the days grew crisp-well, but not around my dad who wouldn't stand it that early! She dressed up a little on Christmas Day as she served traditional foods on her nice dishes.

Shane and I have carried on some of those traditions and of course have added our own. I'll share a couple of ours to encourage you to see how you add to yours, should you desire to enrich your holidays even more. Of course the bottom line is to savor the holidays, not to feel any pressure to add undo stress to your days.

We'll start with Thanksgiving. Shane and I would  love to host dinner but are still too young I suppose! Shane suggested that next year we plan a special breakfast with our girls before we set off to our parents homes. I hope we remember this next year!

For the last few years, we've had a Cousin's Christmas party. Most of us cousins have lived in the same town growing up so we have a lot of shared memories of our childhood. As adults, we don't spend enough time together, often only seeing each other at Easter and Christmas. Now we have a private party of our own in one of our homes. We focus on fellowship with good finger foods and an spirited ornament exchange game. It's a favorite evening of the season for all of us!

As far as gifts go, we give the girls three gifts each under the tree, just as Jesus was given three gifts. They also get stocking gifts. To keep the girls from shaking and trying to peek, each girl gets a new name for a few weeks. The trick is, they don't know who is who! This year under the tree there are gifts for Sugar Cookie, Pumpkin Pie, Peanut Brittle, Candy Cane, and Ginger Bread. On Christmas morning, each girl will find a slip of paper in her stocking telling her who she is. It's so much fun hearing the girls analyze for weeks about who is who-especially when I don't put much thought into the names-it's pretty random, actually!

Oh, and the girls do get a big gift, but not from Santa. We downplay Santa here, and the big gift is a Daddy Gift. Why does the man in red get all the credit?

Remember to slow down and enjoy your traditions-if they stress you out, consider tweaking them or even replacing them with simpler ones.

Just for fun, here's some pictures from last night's cousin's party (stolen from my sister in law's FB page!-thanks Mary!):


Jaika hamming it up with her BFF 2nd cousin Adri watching on!



Two sisters with their second cousin posing in front of the tree right where my cousins & I posed each year!

Miss Audrey in all her cuteness! 

Aunt Mary and Audrey

Jaika, being cute before she morphs back into the wild child!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

How to Shop at Amazon.com

So, I wrapped up a big chunk of my Christmas shopping yesterday morning before school. I love shopping online, so I'll share tips here so you can dig it, too!

  • Utilize Amazon's lists-for yourself, for wishlists, for Christmas ideas...since you can name them yourself and set them to private or public, they're ideal for any type of list you might need. I don't especially like the usability of them, but they server their purpose. (I don't like it that I made up a gift idea list for Christmas and had to go through 4 clicks to return back to the list after moving each item to my cart, but obviously, I got over it.)
  • Throughout the year, add ideas to your lists. I always think I'll remember the latest DS game or DVD the girls ask for, but by the time Christmas rolls around, they're gone. With my Amazon list, I don't have to remember!
  • When you have an idea of what you want, often Amazon will offer it or similar items from various vendors. If you use an outside vendor, shipping can really add up. I always search for items "fulfilled" by Amazon. 
  • To qualify for super saver shipping (free shipping) save up your purchases until you have $25 or more. It doesn't make sense to budget $15 a month on a new book, only to spend $7 shipping & handling when you could have had two new books for $25. 
  • You can buy used on Amazon, but these will be from outside vendors, so make sure your shipping costs don't eat up your sacrifice of buying used.
  • On the other hand, don't be afraid of buying used from Amazon. I've ordered several things used and from outside vendors and never had a problem.
  • Double and triple check the prices. Apparently Amazon doens't shell out much money for proofers. You can see identical items in different departments priced differently. I've also seen typos with items that should cost $29.99 listed as $929.99.
  • Go over your final order carefully. Yesterday there was an error somewhere that charged me $4 in shipping when it was listed as free (from an outside vendor-the only reason I went with them was because I saw "free shipping"). I didn't want to fight a $4 error after I'd already hit "submit order" but I would have reconsidered that purchase had I been more careful during the confirmation stage.
  • Read the comments previous purchasers leave. I think this is the most helpful thing about online shopping. In Wal-Mart you can touch it and feel it but can you know that most people who bought it before you returned it?
Regardless of how you obtain your treasures, enjoy the blessing of buying for others (or yourself!), especially during this season of giving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Family Favorite

When I was a young bride and trying to make my niche in the family feasts, I asked Shane what I should bring to Christmas dinner. We paged through some recipes I'd collected and he picked out Cape Cod Cranberry Velvet Pie. I would have never picked it myself, I mean look at it's name! It's huge! And Cape Cod? What does that have to do with pie?

Regardless, I made it and it's become a staple at our holiday family gatherings. It's so easy and it's light, cool & creamy. It goes in the freezer and is similar to a cheese cake. It's so easy to make. Here's the recipe. Let me know if you try it-it's a crowd pleaser!

1 shortbread pie crust (I've used graham when my store didn't carry shortbread)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c whipping cream
1/4 c sugar
1/2 t vanilla extract
16 oz can cranberry sauce (you can use whole berry, leaving garnish on top or jellied which makes a more blended pie-either is great).

In a large mixing bowl, beat cream cheese until fluffy. In a small mixing bowl, beat whipping cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form. Gradually add to cream cheese, beating until smooth and creamy. Set aside a few cranberries from sauce if using whole berry sauce. Fold remaining sauce into whipped mixture (you can beat it in if using regular jellied sauce). Spoon into pie crust. Freeze 4 hours or until firm. Garnish with reserved berries. Remove from freezer 15 minutes before serving so it's soft enough to cut. Don't leave it out too long, it'll melt. :)

Oh, and by the way I renamed it. It's now just called Cranberry Pie or that pie you always make.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Best Christmas Song Ever...Maybe

Usually I can pace myself and not jump into Christmas with both feet before Thanksgiving but this year I'm just so excited about Christmas. I suspect it's because I have such great feelings from last year's Christmas. Not sure we can beat that one. (Just a note-Mary's cancer has returned even though she was declared cancer free earlier this summer.)

So, as you are shopping this year, I submit this song to play in your head as it has ours. It's so catchy and cute and so very, very true!



Friday, November 13, 2009

Momma Priorities

After I read the Children Vows (below post) I really stewed for several days. I have a hard time when someone is proud to put their career over their child (or their marriage!). I cringed when she said she wanted to frame the vows; I hoped the child couldn't read yet. How heartbreaking.

So does that mean mothers shouldn't work?

Absolutely not, it does not mean that at all. God has plans for all of us and he is mighty enough to let us in on what we should do if we simply ask. I know some awesome moms who are also successful professionals-our girls' pediatrician, my OB, our favorite labor & delivery nurse are three off the top of my head. I have no doubt these women were designed to work right where they are. But they've not ditched their jobs as mothers in the process. You can see in each of their lives that their child(ren) comes before their work.

So what should our priorities be?

Scripture does make it clear that we are to have no gods before the One True God, so it's a given that the first priority should always be God.

God made the family unit, he ordained marriage. The purpose of marriage is to produce godly offspring, says the Word. The marriage is clearly the second priority, then the child(ren). Although it's a whole different post, just know that it gets ugly when this gets flip flopped and the kids come before the marriage!

What does God say about careers? Well, when the Bible talks about work, the command to do it well is near by. We are to do our work as unto the Lord, not to men. Scripture doesn't say what work, it just assumes we will. It doesn't say paid or unpaid either.

So if God didn't put an emphasis on climbing the ladder, then why should we? It seems a life of integrity coupled with a strong work ethic will usually result in favor on the job. The focus isn't on the end, it's the means. The Christian life is all about the means, by the way...

And just what if someone doesn't really care what God says about family, careers and such? Well, even the mainstream world recognizes family is more important than a career. How many times have you heard it said that you won't look back on your life and wish you'd spent more time at work?

I'll close it up with this-my priorities get messed up, too. Maybe not regarding family and career, but in other ways. Shifting priorities into their rightful spot is constant WORK. But it's the kind of work that blesses our families and that's what mommas are called to do.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Priorites

I am in a local doula yahoo group-well, as local as the Dallas area is for me (that's not really that local). Sometime last week a doula sent out an email explaining her "Children Vows".

I wish I could just print the whole thing here, but I won't. Here's the gist: This momma and her baby daddy wrote some vows about how they'd behave as parents. You might think this means they'd try to not yell, or that they'd provide a good education, religious upbringing or some such thing. Well, that's not exactly what you'd find here. It was mostly about self preservation and not letting a new little human in the family rock their boat. This bullet is what I think the bottom line
was for them:

Our priorities are as follows: Career, marriage, child.

She goes on to say, "Each of us promises not to sacrifice his/her career for the child. It may be necessary to cut back on work to raise the child, but our overall career goals should always be kept in mind. Raising the child "perfectly" is not more important than a satisfying career." Note that she didn't have a career while writing the vows.

Later in the email she admits they were utterly clueless (weren't we all!) but only about their focus on travel. Just where you think she's going to turn it around and say she had no idea parenthood could be more fulfilling than a career, she instead vows to frame the document within the week.

As I've mulled this over, I've come to the following possible conclusions:
1. She may still feel very strongly that a career comes first (even though she's now a "professional parent".

2. She may not have realized she's had a values shift in the way she thinks she's living verses the way she is really living. Staying at home and homeschooling is sure a sacrifice to career goals, even for a flexible doula.

3. Many of us probably have one idea of the way we think we live, which is at least in a bit of contrast to how we really live. I am fully guilty here. I believe I am fairly active and eat pretty well, but the truth is my day consists of lots of sitting down (rocking babies, teaching school) and some of the food we eat weekly is quite inferior. And that's just ONE example of many. I assure you.

I believe I'll do a follow up to this post later in the week...until then!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How's life going for you? Yeah, it's been busy for me too.

Actually, my life is always busy because I can't not be busy. It's how I'm wired. I've added a baby (a year ago already!) and am working on starting a new business. I've added students to my little homeschool. I've joined Facebook. Yeah. I know...

So where does that leave my little blog?

I'm not ready to let it go. Not yet. But I can't do it all.

Most of my friends & family are on Facebook. So my socializing & family updating is taken care of over there. I've just about run out of expertise on homeschooling and healthy lifestyles, and I'm not putting all my doula knowledge out here for free! Ha! :)

But like I said, I'm not quite ready to let allgirlville go.

If you all would send my mom & husband emails every day to remind them that my laptop won't connect to the internet, then maybe I could sit back in my recliner (not that I actually own one) and blog...

Yep, that would do it!

Meanwhile, I do hope to drop back in here more often. Give me some feedback-are you still reading?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We've been busy...

I wanted Bella to be the punch line but Blogger won't let me move the picture!
Oh well, you can see by those eyes we've been busy with this new puppy! Anyone know of a good dachshund therapist? She's going to need help learning to walk again-the girls won't put her down!



On Sunday we had a monkey birthday party...my Monkey turned 9!


And it's that time of year-changing of the seasons/changing of the clothes. These are all the girls' shoes! Piled high on my dining room table. Now they're sorted into the TRASH (!), Storage, Garage Sale, and keep.

We have a garage sale on Friday so we're still sorting, pricing, and cleaning....so no promises of great posts--or any posts! I hope to get back to the blogging routine soon so hang with me as we continue to get our groove this fall!


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Weigh In

Well, guess what favorite family had the flu? Yes, that would be us. Pretty defeating when we were trying very hard to avoid it. I keep my kids out of Wal-Mart, they don't eat much sugar, I was force feeding them zinc and vitamins...and we all get it anyway. So, between the six of us (it never hit Shane) we've been out of commission for two weeks. Everyone is better now, thankfully!

So, with no exercise and just normal eating, I lost about two pounds this week. Not too bad I guess. I am struggling to get back into the habit of walking several days a week. I'm still playing catch up with my projects and just not in the swing of things again yet-so that's what I'm working on again.

How'd you do? I haven't heard from several of you who are playing along...check in girls!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday Weigh In & Update

Well, go figure that with no exercise I lost two pounds! Funny. I was tied to the house all week with a sick girl. All the girls ended up with a cold this last week, but it hit Hope the hardest. I usually go walk while the girls are at Awana or another activity, but Hope was home all week and she's too young to leave at home alone. This week may not be any better regarding exercise since I'm now the sick one. Fun times!

I didn't even pop in here to blog last week because--believe it or not--my family takes priority over blogging. Gasp! I know you're surprised!

Don't watch for me that much this week either...gotta get my family well.

However, I do have a few little things to share:

We have sick kids but are full of blessings-a friend did us a great favor Sunday morning. You know who you are. ;) Thanks! Shane cleaned a chimney of another friend who over paid him and then sent Shane home with lots of meat-organic beef!

Also, I was giddy with excitement when I saw a message from my doula website-someone wants me to be their doula! Her message included her pregnancy info and then concluded with: I'm glad you're Catholic as faith is important to me. Oh, and her location? Cue the Beach Boys music--Californ-i-a. Yes, that leaves me scratching my head. Not sure why she thinks we're Catholic-except that we have a big family, maybe? Leave it to me to get my first inquiry from someone three states away!

In local news, I did put my name in the hat for a woman in Mineral Wells (about an hour and a half away) who wants a doula this month. She'll probably find a doula from Fort Worth to come over, but I offered to consider it if she needs me. Makes my stomach do a flip-flop to think I might get a call!

School last week went really well. Combining Hope & Bethany in history, poetry, Bible, and read-alouds (books I read to them) and have them do their own math, LA, and handwriting worked like a charm. They love it-especially Bethany who loves the idea of doing the same work as her big sister! I love how streamlined it is. Sonlight is so flexible!

Okay, over and out.
Love,
Your Catholic friend who flies all over the country to do births.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Weigh In

Okay friends, how did you do this week?

I got out a box of too small clothes and guess what? I wore some of those clothes Thursday night to a Bible study! Whoo hoo!

I just weighed and again didn't lose a single pound! I don't feel too bad about it though because I met my goal of exercising twice as much-I walked four times and I think I did pilates once. I really wanted to do pilates 3x in the week but it just didn't happen. I was under the weather on Friday and it threw me off a little, but Saturday I got a good walk in before getting ready for for my little brother's wedding.

I worked on portion sizes but I was stressed Sunday and totally soothed my soul via my mouth. It didn't help that Shane made BBQ sandwiches for lunch! Is there anything better than BBQ?

So, jumping into a new week means a clean slate! Set your mini-goals and get to work! Let us know how you did in the comments. And for those of you playing along at home but not commenting, I hope your week goes great, too! Feel free to jump in here anytime. :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Slow Down

As I'm going about my life these days, I keep running into a new movement. The Slow Movement. I think I like it. Not sure how to grab hold of it, but I want to anyway.

I've specifically read about Slow Food-an opposition to fast food. The general idea is to establish American food traditions that honor where our food comes from (the farmer, not the factory). The image I get is a family around a table taking much pleasure in each other and their day's stories as they enjoy food that's simmered on the stove all day. Doesn't that sound so much better than a harried momma barking an order at MickeyD's drive through? I've done both, and believe me the feelings you get from circling your family around the table with home cooked food are beyond good.

Another slow movement is Slow Birth. There's a lot of pressure to give birth by the due date (even though two weeks after is considered "on time"), and then to get labor moving fast. In most cases, there's not a great reason to be induced, especially before term. Babies need time. I hear mommas all the time hope for an early delivery, but even just a couple of weeks can be too early for some babies and they have trouble breathing. Wait. Wait on the baby to be ready. And birth-why does there have to be set time for a mom to deliver if she's progressing? This is why many women are birthing at home or at least out of the hospital. They just want time. They want their body to do what it was made to do, without pressure of an arbitrary schedule leading to interventions.

So, I know these two things are pretty unrelated, but the topic of slow has me thinking. I want to slow down and savor. Savor my children. My husband in our youth (while it's slipping away!), fully take in the people around me at any given moment. Not thinking of the next thing which often so characterizes my life, but digging in and living today.

Slowly.

Today.

Savoring.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Works for Me!

One of our school books is the original story Cheaper by the Dozen. In the book, the father is an efficiency engineer. As I read about his stop watch and silly antics trying to get everyone dressed or fed or out to the car faster and more efficiently each time, I smile to myself. I love this man!

I do love me some efficiency!

I'm therefore always looking for ways to do school in a "more better" way. Not to rush through it, but to just cover the same ground in a wise way.

One change I've made this year was by giving each "student" a box of their own for their daily work. I have read about this for years, as many homeschoolers do it but I just couldn't figure out why I'd need boxes/crates when I had a school cabinet. It was neater to keep all the books lined up on the shelf, that's true.

However, as I am now doing three cores (Sonlight's word for one year's worth of instruction) plus some Pre K books for Jaika, my beloved school cabinet is overflowing. More space is a plus, but that's not why I started the crate thing. I have been reading about workboxes, but I just can't justify the expense or space needed for this system.

So, my adaptation works like this: I found some $3 tubs at Wal-Mart near the dish drainers. One for each schooling girl and one for me. In the girls' tubs is all they need to complete one school day, and any extras I want them to do. Oh, and sometimes there's a treat like a snack or a game included. I write things like practice piano, jump rope, watch the Schoolhouse Rock DVD etc. on note cards and drop them among their books. Mine contains teacher stuff: manuals, stickers, and my wonderful red pen.

Why is this good?
They can visually see what work is expected each day.
They enjoy the variety of extras we're now getting to.
They like to know what's next-now it's all right in their box.
It's portable, so they can take it to the front porch swing, their bedroom, or even to Grandma's if needed.

All of this adds up to more motivation and school seems to be going smoother and faster. Love it!

Monday, September 21, 2009

7 Pounds in 7 Weeks Weigh In

Okay friends, go grab your scales! Oh, some of you still don't have scales? Well, I bought the old fashioned kind for under $7 at Wal-Mart last week. The kids keep jumping on them to watch the numbers fly up and down which uncalibrates them (I'm sure that's a word!), so I am forever adjusting it back to zero, but hey, they work!

So, you don't have to tell your weight, but share with us how you did this week in the comments. We'll check back each Monday.

Okay, so I didn't lose a thing this week, but that's okay. I doubled my exercise which means I worked out in some way four times this week. I'm going to redefine my goals to walking four times and pilates 3 times in one week.

I'm also going to work harder at portion sizes this next week. I gave it a little try this week but mostly noted that I was overeating--hey, just being real here! I also stress ate once while trying to figure out some school planning on Saturday night.

Good news-I had to put a pair of pants in the garage sale pile as they were just too big! I did a little research and figured out that I've lost 14 pounds in 2009. Not a fast drop, but I'll take it and hopefully have a better number to show at the end of the year.

How about you, how'd you do?

Friday, September 18, 2009


My friend Blackstrap Molasses is the topic for today. I've been using molasses for a nutritional boost for at least a year or so. Its a sweet & inexpensive way to get in some key nutrients. I bought my Tree of Life brand 32oz bottle for about 6 bucks at our local health food store. Go for the unsulphured kind, not Grandma's Molasses. Organic is even better.

So, what does this natural sweetener do for you?

I looked it up today on The Worlds Healthiest Foods and here's what I found out. Check out the WHF website for a more in depth look.

It's an excellent source of manganese and copper and a very good source of iron and calcium. I also like that it gives me some vitamin B6 and selenium. I am low on vitamin B6-like a lot of Americans. It's especially helpful for menstruating women who have higher iron needs. This website suggests 2 tsp a day in your coffee, smoothie or even your beans, but I just take a regular sized spoonful alone each day. I love getting vitamins and minerals from real food, not just my multi-vitamin.

Molasses has a funny (well, kinda) history-In 1919, the year my Grandma was born, there was a leak in a Boston molasses storage tank holding something like 2 million gallons of the thick, sticky liquid! That's hilarious to imagine, but its sad that some lives & property were lost. Can you imagine a flood of molasses moving down your street at 35 mph? The site says there were 30 foot tidal waves! My brain just can't get there!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The B-I-B-L-E for the Masses

We're starting our 8th year of homeschooling this year. Eight down, Eighteen to go!

One thing that's helped our school day go smoother is grouping the girls together in as much as possible. Each day I have all the school age girls around the table and we read the Bible, poetry, and science. It may seem strange to add science into that list, but we use a very conversational science program that fits grades K-6th, so they all listen together (Ashlyn wants to continue to listen this year, but she'll still have to read her own book now that she's older). I've added in other books to this time like Everyday Graces and The Princess and the Kiss, but essentially the Bible, poetry and elementary science are the foundation of our group time.

How do you read the Bible to such a varied age group? Well, if I have a Pre-K student, I read her little Bible-my favorite, the Family Time Bible and she's not required to listen to the family Bible time, but often does anyway. For our group time, I choose a version of the Bible that fits the youngest child (aside from the PreK child). Last year it was Hope's Bible, the NIrV and this year it'll be Bethany's Egermeiers Bible Story Book. Yes, these are too immature for the big girls, but they can always use a simple review of the Word and they have their own Bibles to read during their independent time.

As for poetry, I have used the oldest child's book (it comes with her "core" or one grade's worth of work, from Sonlight). Last year all the girls enjoyed Favorite Poems Old and New. I am not after a deep understanding of poetry, just an ear for it. By reading real poetry out loud as a family each school day, even the younger girls can naturally know how poetry is supposed to sound and their appreciation for it grows. With this type of exposure, I don't feel the need to read the poetry books from the younger girls' cores, we'll just cycle through them again once Ashlyn moves on to higher levels. It allows me to cover poetry while dropping a book or two from the daily list.

As I teach four children this year (I usually don't teach 3 year olds, but I have one who's insisting so she has a few great picture books and a finger play-rhyme book to call "school"), I have to be efficient with my time, and I've found working our group time this way has been a huge time saver.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Challenge!


Andrea, a friend of mine challenged a group of us to a 7 pound weight loss in 7 weeks time. I lost my 7 lbs and am ready to lose 7 more. Would you like to join the challenge?

As an additional challenge this round, Andrea suggested we double our exercise amount, so if you usually work out once or twice a week like me, beef it up to two to four times.

Are you in?

Seven pounds by November 1st.

The next challenge will be to keep it off through the holidays!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Things I Love

I've done this fun thing before but my friend Alisha, who is also a new blogger, challenged her readers to it and I'm not good at passing up challenges.

*Sensitive hard working husbands. I've had one all along, but he's even more so today.
*Dryers with lights inside. I'm getting one today and I'm quite excited about the light.
*The beautiful frailty of a newborn.
*Grassroots anything.
*Goals.
*People with big goals, especially when those goals result in others being lifted up.
*My daughters who are all as different as can be.
*My first born's varied tastes and that she walks to the beat of her own drum.
*My second born's strong gifting in hospitality. Someday she'll have a Bed & Breakfast and you'd be blessed to make reservations.
*Bethany's freckles.
*Jaika's southern twang. Her favorite dress is pink and her version of pink rhymes with spank. Pank.
*Audrey...I love surprise babies. Oh my, especially when they're as laid back as she is.
*Exploring new adventures with my children through their read alouds (thank you Sonlight!).
*The hum of a working household
*The smell of morning.
*My grandma.
*Sweaters...and sweater weather (all two weeks of it we might get here in Texas).
*People who think outside the box.
*My camera.
*Rebels like midwives, homeschoolers, minimalists.
*Sunny windows.
*Naps-for me, for the babies...
*Fall and Christmas smelling candles.
*Quilts, especially when combined with candles, read alouds, and Bethany's freckles.
*Hearing my children use mature vocabulary and think nothing of it (ahem, this does not count Jaika's newest phrase: "Oh, Dangit!" but I must admit he twang and the word dangit is pretty funny.
*Good debate.
*Good friends.
*My favorite apron and blue & white striped pitcher. They make working in the kitchen fun.
*My God who loves, redeems, draws, and restores.

I'll pass the challenge on. If you're short on time, just throw some favorites into the comments, if you're inspired to count your blessings this way, then you're hereby commissioned to go do it on your blog-tell me you're doing so in the comments and we'll all go read yours too!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

7 Takes

I admitted to my friend the other day that I have about 50 or so blogs in my feed reader. A handful of those blogs are updated very rarely, so it's not like I really read that many posts in one sitting. One of those blogs does a cool little thing on Fridays called 7 Take Fridays. Well, I'm going to attempt to copy that, but today is Sunday and I'm not sure about 7-could be more or less, let's see.

.........................................1...............................................................
I really like having my own lap top. I'm hiding right now in my dark bedroom reading blogs. Of course now I'm blogging, but you get the idea. I'm not sure I'll come out of here. Ever.

.........................2...............................................................................

I also like Firefox. Spell check is built in. Oh, y'all just thought I worked on my spelling over the summer didn't ya? Sorry, didn't happen. I firmly believe amniotic fluid washes out brain cells and y'all know 5 kids equals out to a whole lotta amniotic fluid!

................................................3.......................................................

I love cookies. Shane hates them, but he only signs into about three sites: Facebook, the Sheriff's Dept email system, and Hulu. I sign into that many email accounts alone! So, yeah, my laptop allows cookies even if his desktop doesn't.

...................................4................................................................
I'm ready for a new blog layout but I like the picture at the top of this one. It reminds me of my girls. Plus I have a hard time finding pics that fit in the header and I'm not good at resizing. So, until I get in the mood to track down a new header, the red blog stays.

................................................................5.......................................
I suspect Shane & I have an unspoken agreement. He doesn't get upset with how often I'm using my laptop if I don't care how often he goes fishing. Of course today I almost got the 3 middle girls out of the house as well, but Shane came up with a valid reason for them not to go this time (something about snakes out after a rain....not sure it's true, but he knows all he has to do is mention snakes). So, I'm adding another unspoken agreement: if he goes fishing and leaves me with all the girls, he gets to do the dishes. Hmmm, I might have to speak that one to him though, I doubt he'll figure it out on his own until the dishes are sky high at which point I'll feel sorry for him and do them.

................................6.........................................................................
I wish my laptop's keys lit up for when I hide in the dark bedroom and read blogs.

......................................................................................7.................................................

One of my favorite new blogs to read is called At Your Cervix. Cracks me up. She's a labor & delivery nurse working on becoming a midwife. I love catchy titles, but I can never think of them.

Okay, I got 7 and hopefully didn't lose anyone. I know, you all have to go click through and read the cervix one. It's pretty cool if you're into that kinda stuff. :)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

This is Bliss

This feeling right now-this is what life is all about. Well, okay, not spiritually, but just hang with me.

Shane is about to be home for a long weekend (as if we aren't blessed with long enough weekends, we are extra excited that he actually gets holidays off now!). The house is mostly clean. The kids are playing nicely with a friend over, and I'm catching up on my feed reader while watching Audrey toddle around the dinning room. (Y'all know she's walking now, right? She's almost 10 months old and has been walking for a good month or so).

We have plans for Life Group at our house and some friends we've known for about 15 years are coming over this weekend. The guys will go fish or something while the moms take the kids to the park and then cook dinner together. The weather is mild and I'm about to go turn on my tart burners to release the butterscotch aroma Audrey and I picked out when buying tarts the other day. It just feels good. My heart is content.

I know it's not much, but as a recovering perfectionist momma to five starting out the school year, it's a lot to feel this good right now. I hope your Labor Day weekend is equally blissful as you absorb the special moments going on all around you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is this good or bad?



Okay, I love Tim Hawkins and I love to laugh.

I hate what is happening in our government right now. Sometimes when I think about it long enough I start getting into Y2K mode. I think it's serious and I fear most Americans are mostly only willing to joke about it and blow it off.

So, I laughed at this, but was left feeling unsettled inside. What say you?

PS Let me be the first to put it on the table that I'm a serious gal, sometimes too serious.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Life Defining Questions

These questions have been on my mind lately. If you have answers, don't hold back. I may be emotionally stuck here until I can figure these things out. Y'all don't want to see me emotionally stuck, believe me, it ain't pretty.

Why is "google" not in Google's dictionary? I'm thinking if I'm typing the word google on a Google owned site, it should NOT come up as a misspelling. Oh, I think I am getting it-when it's capitalized, it's not underlined in the you-are-so-dumb shade of red. Well, Google-gods get with it, in America, google is also a verb!

Okay, here's another one. It's for you quasi-counselors out there. Why is it easier for me to be angry with one person than with myself? When I have an issue with just one person, it's much easier for me to move on with life than when I'm mad at me. When I'm mad at yours truly, world watch out! No one can do anything right when I feel I'm failing. Why, pray tell is that?

Another techy question: Google like owns the internet and has a ton of add-ons for iGoogle, right? Why can't I consolidate several of my gmail accounts all in one place? I can forward my yahoo! mail to my gmail account daily (in theory anyway, it seems to really just come in bursts every few days) but I can't just log into my iGoogle account and check all my (two) gmail accounts. It shouldn't be that hard, really.

Why is it that I can make myself keep up with my blog reading (in theory, again!) but my Bible reading gets missed so easily? Maybe God should blog? Yeah, like I'm sure it's God's fault...Wendy needs to get in gear. Oh, that leads back to being mad at myself! I think I spend my life going in circles, don't you? Well, please don't answer that.

Why were we egged yesterday? Again. We've been egged before, but I think it was around Halloween, so we chalked it up to pranksters. This time, I don't know. We had three outside dogs and all of them died this summer-two within a week of each other. Shane, being the skeptical pessimist thinks they may have been poisoned. Add that to the egging and I wonder if we're not on someone's hit list. Of course, it could have been just silly pranks (the eggs, not dogs). Why does it hurt me to be egged? It makes me want to cry!

Okay, blogger scholars-what type of mental case am I? Oops, no, this isn't a Facebook quiz...(just fyi-Blogger thinks Facebook isn't a word-can't all these sites just get along?). Well, go ahead, diagnose me if you can't identify with my questions, but if you're mean I'll just go hang out on Facebook like I did most of the summer instead of blogging. ;)

Peace Out

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Progress Report

So how are those New Year's Resolutions working out for you?

Oh yeah, those...

I must admit I can't recite mine off the top of my head but I think they were to not eat sugar, to try more things, and I'm sure to read my Bible more.

I'm still sugar free and along with the rest of my group plan to finish out strong. Trying new things-well, I am making baby steps. Uhh, Bible...well, my book mark is in May in my One Year Bible. I'm chugging along but obviously not hitting it every day.

This post isn't a guilt trip, don't worry. I have just realized that when Fall comes, there's a new wave of freshness in the air, don't you think? If you have school aged kids, you are probably starting them out with fresh clothes & crayons, a new school year, and new goals. I know with
home school moms, this is far reaching as we also feel the need to get our houses in order.

So, what are you thinking for Fall?

I've been working on the doula gig this summer and am now in more of a waiting mode-waiting for clients and waiting for the workshop to come together. So, doula-ing is a sort of fresh start, teaching the girls again this school year, starting a little PreK with Jaika, starting a new Beth Moore Bible study, and as silly as it sounds, I feel I have a little of a fresh start with my new-to-me laptop. It's ALL MINE so I can install anything I want and have only my stuff bookmarked. Sorry, I got a little carried away thinking of a possession I get all to myself. You know, like the washing machine.

Any new goals in your life? Any old goals that need revamping? Do share, I love goals almost as much as I love my children!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Never Give Up

Okay, Summer is over, time to get back to work here. I'm talking to me and to you people who haven't been commenting (but I know you're reading 'cause you tell me...). My friend always knew her mom was about to go into a hormonal tirade when she said you people. If it gets you to comment, you can think I'm the same way...you people.

My message today is never give up on anyone. Never burn bridges. Never write someone off.

Case in point: A new couple friend of ours (You know what a couple friend is, right? A couple who we are both friends with, got it?) has a story to tell. Boy. Let's see. Both the husband and wife came from dysfunctional broken homes full of family addictions. They still live near their families who are still dysfunctional and addicted. However, the couple is newly saved and vibrantly living for the Lord while allowing Him to strip their past habits away. They've both done jail time and have been addicted to drugs. In their new life, they're new homeschoolers (started this week with Sonlight!) to little boys and are witnesses to their lost friends and family. They get called hypocrites--to their faces--more often in a week than I've been in my entire life. Because of their backgrounds, they have a large mission field among the people they see daily.

I wonder how many police officers or former Sonic customers might have written off my friends, back in the day. Who would have ever thought this couple would have ever darkened the door of a church much less worshiped there with passion?

You know what? People do change. Don't write anyone off. Don't despair. Keep praying. Keep praying. I have another story of change if I can get the nerve up to post it.

Until then, don't give up!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Vacation Mission Trips

Does the zoo ever get boring? Do you ever just wish you could take a zoo-like trip where you sat back and watched native people in their own land? Then you could go home and share the slide show on your blog and get called a missionary! Okay, so maybe you did some work on the trip, but you had to or it'd look like you just wanted to enjoy a free trip.

Well, a national Christian radio station was giving a way spots on a mission trip to the 9th caller.

Doesn't that seem odd to you?

There are a lot of things about missions that can get messed up, but I think it's a big red flag mess up if you go on a mission trip like you go on a cruise.

We have a large amount of missionary friends and all of them raise funds with blood, sweat and tears (okay, maybe not the blood part, lol). They sell their possessions and cook loads of spaghetti in November for a trip planned for the next June. They travel the circuit of churches speaking to congregations big and small getting the word out about missions and their trip. They have a deep calling inside that tunes out the warnings of danger from well meaning friends. It's a big deal, not a vacation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Babywise

The most beautiful, graceful piece on Gary Ezzo and Babywise I've ever seen. It helps me understand so much more than I ever have on the subject. A must read for anyone on either side of this issue.

And I'm still developing my post on mission trips...(but if you're a friend who's into missions, this is not about you, it's about a radio station give-away, 'kay?)

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quite a random weekend...

Okay, I know this is probably just a normal weekend in parenthood, but I still just gotta share these unrelated random happenings.

*I learned you can buy a casket at Costco. Hmmm. Where do you store it until you need it?

*We went thrift store shopping for doula/pregnancy books & work jeans for Shane. In front of us in line was a rather tattered looking older man who was buying heels, a wig, and some women's clothes...Shane noticed his manicure.

*At Costco, I locked both sets of keys in the car. Jaika saved the day and crawled through the back window of the van where the hinge in broken (so glad it's broken!). Very proud moment for her (she needed the ego boost after she got taken to the car for a huge tantrum she threw in Half Price Books, one in which her mom wanted to melt into the carpet).

*While standing there, a family drives by looking for a parking spot and apparently starts counting kids. In amazement, the dad holds up six fingers. I was a little distracted by the key situation and nodded...somehow in sign language we get it settled that we have 5 kids...he drove off with a huge grin. I noticed four children in his car...

*Costco sells a box of 6 Acuvue contacts for $13. I love Costco. Where else can you buy huge jars of whole dill pickles, contacts...and a casket?

*On that How Well Do You Know So-and-So quiz on Facebook, a friend (incorrectly) picked the answer that I met Shane while he was a carhop at Sonic. I just can't picture Shane in that job, but when I almost get my imagination to that high level, it makes me laugh really hard.

*And for the clincher-Miss Perfect Child Audrey was--are you sitting down? Finally fussy. She's been fussy & feverish for five days. Was determined to figure it out with a doctor's appt. today but she woke up feeling fine. She almost lost her crown, but now that she's feeling better, she's our Favorite Child once again.

PS-I got to know Shane when I dated his best friend, who was later the best man in the wedding. We were at his first wedding and the birth of his son...good times.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Doula Website

I've been working on my new site, why don't you check it out and let me know what you think.

Boy it's hard to know how to please everyone when setting up a site. I have a video that plays automatically but Shane said to set it so it doesn't start because there are still dial-up folks on the planet. But when I saw this video on other doula sites, I didn't press play-but it's a great video so I want everyone who comes to my site to see it.

It's also a challenge to me to see how God has given me such favor in the doula gig that has in turned open so many potential doors, and I don't want to miss how I'm supposed to honor him through it. My heart has finally settled on the truth that I am just who I am (and I am His!), which will be quietly evident as I work with each family. Thanks Summer for helping me iron that out.

Have a splendid weekend, friends. I have a post brewing about missions and one of the big new things related to missions that irks me like nails on a chalkboard. I'll be back soon with that!

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Lord is good, y'all.

I was offered a doula job this morning. I got very excited until I learned she's due next week and delivering in Fort Worth. I am not ready-I have no milk frozen for Audrey and I don't have enough training yet. Oh, but how I want to help her! She's a recent widow-can you imagine giving birth without your husband? Heart breaking.

So I prayed about it-because if the Lord wanted me to do it, then I'd do a crash course or something and be there by her side. But as I read 1 Samuel today, the story of David & Goliath, I got my answer. See, David didn't need the armor but he did have experience. He'd killed a lion and a bear. He was good with his sling shot.

I have confidence that I will be ready when the time is right. But a woman birthing without her husband needs an experienced doula, not a practicing wanna-be.

But I am equipped to pray for her. I know the Lord will provide the right woman for the job. And someday, I'll be the right woman for the jobs he gives me.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Tornado Jaika turns 3


Well, tomorrow is the big day. Jaybird turns 3. My dad turns...whew-57? Is that right? We're going to the water park to celebrate the dual birthdays.


With a big sigh of relief, I think back on the last three years. If you remember, Jaika's birth story was full of adventure-a vaginal birth after C-section was planned, a police chase was not. She was born quickly on a Sunday morning, just before church. One of my best friends came in just in time to witness the delivery of the rest of her body and help with clean up (she's a labor & delivery nurse from that hospital) before running off to church to spread the news of new life. I'll never forget her words as long as I live. As soon as Jaika was born, Andrea said,


"God saved your baby."


Indeed he had. She was born with a true knot in her cord. God allowed her to grow for weeks with a knotted cord. It was never pulled tight, so she lived with no ill effects. Another nurse that day said in her many years of nursing, our baby was only her second with a good outcome. (I digested that later to mean all but two of her knotted cord babies died.)


Jaika is so full of life. Oh boy is she. Yesterday for example, she showed us as we were getting out of the car at the salon that she was not wearing undies. With her sun dress. I constantly remind myself that even though she has a BIG thing for making messes, we could have easily been without her. I'll take the messes!


Amazingly, her little sister shared a similar miracle story with a knotted cord of her own. God is good. He has plans for us all. If your life were spared for a purpose, how would you live? Well, guess what, friends? If you're breathing today, you have a purpose God wrote on your heart. If you don't know him, you gotta meet him. He's the only one who can reveal his plans for you. If you've forgotten how much he loves you, just ask him. No matter what you've done, it's no surprise to God. He know how much we'd mess up before he ever decided to save us from our mess. He knows all of it. And he loves you anyway.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Breastfeeding 201

So, I'm plowing through the required reading list for aspiring doulas...and thinking doula thoughts 24/7...having a lot of fun obsessing and planning, much to my husband's dismay. Na, he knows it's just me and that I'll run out of doula steam soon and get back to a balanced life. And for the record, he's supportive of it (but I'd still bet he's ready for a new topic of conversation!).

In the mean time, I must confess I was not thrilled to have to read books on breastfeeding again. I was a breastfeeding counselor about 10 years ago, did all the trainings, read the books and still refer back to the books from time to time. I have a few years experience nursing babies (5 children times 2 yrs each-about a decade of my life will be spent nursing by the time Audrey's done). So, yeah. Not thrilled with another BF basics.

So, I started with The Ultimate Breastfeeding Book of Answers by Jack Newman. Just to get it over with. 'Cause I'm prideful like that.

Wow, oh wow! I learned so much and plan to buy this book for myself and my lending library. This guy is a breastfeeding guru.

His approach, unlike most breastfeeding books, is not focus on all the mother's social issues in nursing (he mostly leaves that up to her) but instead on the medical issues. While he does sometimes speak directly to moms, his audience is more the medical professional helping mom. It should be a must read for anyone working with nursing women.

He breaks it down beautifully by constantly reminding us that most breastfeeding problems are due to a poor latch. If you get the latch down really, really well, it's usually smooth sailing from there on out. Did you know babies can pretend to be latched on well, but aren't? If mom has a strong let down, they can even gain weight, but eventually they can run into trouble. Newman does an excellent job explaining how to determine if a latch is good or not (his techniques were new to me).

This information was so good, I found myself checking Audrey's latch, even though she's not likely to change anything now that she's 8 months old :)

Y'all don't even want to know what I learned when I read the chapter on epidurals in The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Childbirth (okay-wanna know? It's very possible that the IV fluids given before the epidural led to the pulmonary edema that landed me two scary nights in the hospital after Audrey was born. Obviously it doesn't happen all the time, but research shows it is a risk factor of having an epidural). Just for the record, this book is a little outdated (it still talks about routine episiotomies, which I think are mostly abandoned now).

Saturday, July 11, 2009

I constantly study what's going on my head & body. I have a very strong family history of mental illness, mainly depression. Every woman on my mom's side of the family as far back as we can recall has dealt with depression, so I've been on guard against it since I was first married (ya know, because marriage and mental illness are so interrelated, lol).

As I continue to watch my reactions to life, it's becoming obvious to me that we don't pay enough attention to emotional stress, specifically the stress that comes from bad news in others' lives.

I'm not one to be overly emotional; I don't usually cry in front of people for example, so it surprised me when a friend had a baby almost two years ago and I was physically charged by it. I wasn't even there, you see, I was busy at home and she was being induced thirty miles away. I wore out the carpet; I couldn't be still with all the nervous energy in me. I was emotionally exhausted by the evening and it took me by surprise.

Other than my sleeping schedule being a little off since staying up too late on the 4th of July, I've had a fine week. I was elated with the doula plans, which also led to a loss of sleep when my brain was too busy to shut down. By midweek, though, I'd discovered a dear was struggling and received a phone call yesterday from my mom that my sister-in-law's cancer has probably returned. I spent some time yesterday with friends but by the end of the day was simply drained. Wondering if I was about to get sick, it had not dawned on me the emotions I'd been dealing with all week.

Yeah, I'm often a little slow...but aren't we all slow to realize what stress we're under, especially when it's not directed right at us? After all, starting a new business that's right in line with my passions is a good thing, yet it's still takes a toll on my emotions.

So, what are we to do?

Recognizing it has to be the first step, but can be the hardest!

I'm not going to add to my stress by filling up the rest of my weekend with busyness. I'm going back to the basics-grocery shopping, straightening the house & getting all of us ready for church tomorrow (when there are 7 of you to get out the door by 9am, you have to start the day before!). Maybe a movie this evening. Exercise would help, if it's not still 110 degrees this evening, maybe I can walk.

So-what says you? Do you have trouble recognizing emotional stress? What do you do about it? How can we see it coming before it strikes?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

New Start

I have a lot of little bits & pieces to share...

Like that Audrey is my favorite child ;) It's okay, the girls are all fine with it-they say she's their favorite, too. She is so easy going! She hardly fusses-only when hungry or tired...okay, and she might have fussed when Jaika tried to ride her like a horsey but maybe not. She lets Jaika drag her out of danger (or danger perceived by Jaika) by her feet without even a grimace. If we could just get her to stop eating off the floor...I've never had a baby sleep through fireworks-y'all-she's awesome!

I could equally share the great things about Shane's new position at the Sheriff's Office. He's so happy, even when it's 105 degrees outside. I'm so glad that he's enjoying his job, it runs over into enjoying us more. He's initiated more board game playing and is such a better mood most of the time.

I'm still sugar free after 6 months. Six more months to go! I do have a few items planned to eat on January 1st-like the locally made fried pies I keep hearing everyone rave about.

Right now though, I have something else occupying my mind-a new career path. I know, I know, I just left a job 11 months ago to stay home. But I've found a job within my passions that will allow me to be at home and stay on top of homeschooling. I'm so excited to start working on my doula certification. I've looked into this before, but the timing has not been right until now. By the time I'm certified (within a year, I hope) Audrey will be fine without me for longer stretches of time. With Shane working days, I can leave in the night if I need to and the girls won't be alone. Ashlyn's old enough to watch her sisters all day, but since both my mom and my mother in law are supportive and said they'd help with the girls as well. I'm working on the required reading right now-so my nose is constantly in a book. I'm learning so much already!

I believe the Lord has worked this all out a long time ago. He's made some connections for me that I don't even know how they started (like the childbirth ed teacher who's said she'd highly recommend me). With my degree in Family Studies, my work as a breastfeeding counselor while in college, then my work with families as a PRC director, I think this is a natural route to take.

So, my blog will take a new turn as well, I'm sure. I think it was therapeutic while Shane worked nights to be able to come here and socialize, get my thoughts out. Now he's more available and I'm not feeling the need to blog as much (I know you've noticed). But as I'm reading my books, I keep thinking, "Oh, I should put this on my blog!" so maybe you'll get to learn as I go along.

I've gone on too long-but I wanted to share. I have some housework to catch up on...I've been in the books too much the last couple of days. I'll keep you updated! And-if you're local and need a professional labor coach soon, look me up-I'll need to do a few as practice before I get certified.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Click Through

Hey, you feed readin' folks-click on over and check out the updated playlist. I just totally stole some from Vicki's list...and added more. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Being Real

Shane's cousin and his girlfriend brought their newborn baby over to see us a week or so ago. As we were talking, the girlfriend mentioned as an aside, "Yeah, they all say 'What a perfect family' but I knew that wasn't exactly right." I was a little baffled-not sure who sees us as perfect nor exactly what impression she has of us...

However, we are very real. Today was just one of those days. Nothing is really wrong, but the frustrations of life kinda piled up today. You know, just the junk. And it's hot. One of those digital thermometers in town said it was 109 degrees at 1:30 this afternoon.

So, being on the edge of tears all day, and for no real good reason, this play list was very soothing to my soul. Thanks Vicki :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hi y'all. Have you missed me?

I love this new shift. Shane works Monday 6:30-4:30, then he's gone all day (6:00am-11:30pm) on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. These two days he works at the Sheriff's Office, then when his shift is over, he changes clothes and goes to the security guard job, so it's a LONG couple of days for him. However, he then only works from 6:30-4:30 again on Thursday and he's done for the week. Before, Shane had to sleep a bit on Saturday to recover from his Friday night shift, we'd go to church on Sunday and then Monday evening he'd go back to bed to prepare for his 12am shift. Now we have three full days with him-it's so nice. Here's a random summing up of our lives the last few weeks.

~Shane and Ashlyn played a 10 hour game of Horseopoly (off and on through a weekend).
~My internet time used to be after I got up but before Shane got home around 9am each day. Now I get up and feel I need to get busy, work all day around the house, then be with Shane in the evenings. I've not found a new slot in my day for regular blogging time. But I'll get there.
~I took four of the girls and myself to two different dentists in two different towns (different insurance). Then a well baby checkup and we stopped in several times to check in on a good friend giving birth to her first son yesterday. Welcome to the world Judah!
~This running left me so tired I left Shane and some of the girls up and went to bed early.
~Our van has been in the shop twice-once for a cracked flywheel and then for a repair the mechanic accidentally made (broke off something important that left a hole in the radiator, which made the engine overheat). God totally poured out grace on us as we drove the car for several days, even many miles on Sunday without any problem.
~The mechanic was great-it was ready in less time than he estimated and cost less than he originally said. Once we told him about the overheating yesterday morning, it was fixed for free by noon.
~In the meantime, my mom loaned me her nice new Yukon. The girls wanted the mecanic to break something else.
~Shane loves his job. Said it's too good to be true. There's no room to move up, but he's basically his own boss, gets to be outside, travels to all parts of the county he works in, seeing some pretty countyside, and he's losing weight (13lbs in 3 weeks).
~Even though the girls are home just as much as before school was "out" the house is harder to keep up with. Not sure why...maybe it's Jaika's new hobby of dumping out toy boxes in record time, lol.
~Audrey is a whopping 15 lbs at almost 8 months old. She's a total flirt and is racing to be just as big as her sisters. She's crawling, pulling up, and sometimes cruising and even letting go. She even got mad at me yesterday and chewed me out saying, "ga gi ga gi!" with some anger!
~She's still our favorite baby-the girls even say it. She's so easy!
~The big girls just decided they would go to a birthday party after all-one that starts in less than 2 hours. Originally they were tired of going and wanted to just be home. Guess they're re-energized...or they don't want to clean. Regardless I gotta run to get them there-I'll be back here soon!

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I thrive on systems at my house. My kids, on the other hand, don't so my systems often try to crash & burn. Even if I don't have systems, I do have rhythm. Not real rhythm, no, I can't clap in time at church one bit. But I love to make it through the week coasting on the unique cycle of our family.

This week our unique cycle became somewhat normal and I just about fell apart.

Not really, I love the idea of Shane being on day shift and really, really love the idea of four ten hour days with long weekends. But this week has been a challenge since our rhythm is about as "on" as mine is every Sunday about 10:30.

Here's our week in a recap:

The Good:
~Having Shane at most ball games, home for dinner, and next to me in bed at night.
~There was a storm one night this week and I slept peacefully knowing I wasn't the only adult in the house. I left the "monitoring" of the storm up to him and it was soooo nice!
~Unlike when he works in the jail, Shane can use his cell as he's working his new job.
~The new job-Shane is a supervisor to the inmate work crew. He has two inmates he takes all over the county to fill in pot holes. Yesterday took him to a rock crusher plant (for asphalt) and to two towns for road repair, then they cleaned the precinct workshop where he's stationed and cleaned out "his" truck. Much more variety than the gray walls of the jail. Bonus: No drunk guys professing their innocence to deal with.
~Audrey is sitting up, pulling up, and crawling! She's 7 months old today.
~Our 14th wedding anniversary was this week. Celebrating Saturday with a trip to "the city" together.

The Bad:
~The allgirlhomeschool-mobile had to go to the shop for repairs. Yours Truly got to handle all that and it's really not my forte. Still more to deal with as we have to find a different mechanic who deals with transmissions.
~Getting up at 5:40am to make Shane's lunch and get him out the door intact. This one may not last too long!
~I have a guilt complex. If Shane is at work, then I need to work hard with no slacking. Main problem with this is that I keep working once he gets home...and I get up at night with Audrey so I am a little tiny bit tired.
~Pot holes aren't glamorous. We need to work on a new job description, lol.

The Ugly:
~Shane's side job as a security guard for a major gas plant still takes up two evenings a week. We're thankful for the job, but it's hard for the girls to not see him from bedtime Monday night until he gets home on Thursday (they're in bed before he gets home on Tues & Wed nights).
~Finally, a shock from the ball park last night. I sat near a little girl still in her uniform. The team name in bold letters: Ball Busters. Nice.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Small Break

I had planned a Food Class post for today, but it'll have to be put on hold. Our world is a little backwards from our usual schedule, so as we adjust I'm not sure how my blogging will all fall into place. The Food Class posts take more work than others, so just be patient with me :)

I'll throw out a few prayer requests though:
~Shane as he adjusts to a new position that's totally opposite his regular job (days instead of nights, working outdoors instead of inside...)
~Audrey's having a tough time teething. She's pretty miserable with a nonstop runny nose & fever.
~Hope's having a killer allergy attack, her eyes look terrible!
~We're still petitioning God daily for our land to sell, and for the right house for us to be available when it sells.

Finally, if you have some ideas on lunch box items that don't have to be heated up, I would really love you forever. Shane always takes a lunch, but he usually has access to a microwave but won't now. I can send items in a thermos if needed...save my man from a summer of endless sandwiches! Come on, send me your best lunch box menus!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Our Daily Bread

Oh, did I say Food Class back on Thursday? Well, ahem...I had some breaking news yesterday at this time. Shane's request to move to the inmate work crew division of the Sheriff's Office was granted. This means for the first time in three years, he'll be on the day shift. As an added bonus, he'll have three day weekends every week (he'll work 4 ten hour days) and holidays off! I'm a little excited. Just a little. Now, let's move on to Food Class.

A few years ago I read an article in a mainstream magazine that said the most nutritious change you can make for your family is to start making your own bread at home. As a wife and mother, I do want the best for my family. As I've learned more about flour, I've finally purchased a grain mill to grind grain at home. It was a purchase I'd contemplated for several years and I'm so glad I took the plunge last month.

There is a great satisfaction from making my family's bread. I don't even do it all the time yet, but when I do present a loaf warm from the oven, it just feels very right. Grinding the grain that made the loaf is even better.

Why would I do this when Wal-Mart sells flour of many sorts for my use?


Read this article to understand why, as well as to learn about enrichment. By the time flour gets to the store shelves, it's at least void of many nutrients if not rancid.


There's a lot of grain out there besides wheat, y'all. Many of you with gluten allergies know this. Right now in my kitchen I have quinoa, barley, spelt, wheat, and a seven grain mix. There are so many more! I've been giving Audrey quinoa as baby cereal and she loves it. I'm about to make a couple of loaves with my seven grain. It's fun to learn about different grains and figure out how to use them in our diet.


I am not a good bread maker, but I play one on TV. My family loves my bread even though I am working on perfecting it (and I have a long way to go!). Don't be afraid, a little butter and honey will cover most of your mistakes. A friend and I ordered the wrong kind of flour for bread making and our bread turned out to be fine bricks. She wisely used hers for bread pudding (while I just dumped more honey on mine until I gave up and tossed it in the trash).

Does making your own bread sound like a huge time investment? To minimize this, I use a recipe that makes 5-6 loaves at once. I have tried to do my baking on Sunday afternoons, then throw some of it in the freezer for later in the week. I've also considered delegating this task to an older child (it's not that hard, and I'd be on hand to help). Once you taste the bread, you'll know it is worth it to make the time for it.


You can find small quantities of grain at health food stores. Large quantities can be bought by a distributor from this company. Health food coops in your area may also be able to help you reduce shipping by ordering together. We have a distributor about an hour and a half away, so those of us who grind our grain put an order together and one of us goes after it.


You might need to research the most cost effective way for you to grind it. I've read that you can do it in a blender or food processor, but I've never tried. If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, KitchenAid sells a grain mill attachment for about $100-$120 (but they aren't being produced again until Fall). I have a Champion Juicer so I bought a grain mill attachment for it at only $60. If you want to buy an actual mill and not an attachment, go for a Bosch. It's an excellent product (but it's not cheap). Look around, if you keep your eyes open you can find something that will fit your budget. A Google search for grain mills will turn up a lot of options.

In the mean time, if you're local to me, I'll be glad to grind for you. Someone did it for me for a while before I was able to buy my mill (thanks again Jennifer!).

Speaking of bread, I'm going to put Missy Audrey in the Ergo and go try my hand at a new batch! Come on over for a slice-but hurry before it's gone!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Awww, a Blog Award


My friend Raoulysgirl gave me an award for being a passionate blogger. Y'all think I'm passionate? Say it aint so...
In order to accept the award I must agree to do the following...
Put the logo in my blog.
Write 5 things I am passionate about besides my blog.
Tag 5 people on my list and let them know that I tagged them.

~Five passions:

1. Truth

2. The unborn

3. Freedom and those who paid for it for us

4. Memorable childhoods

5. Living in the abudant life God promised us


~Tagging:

1. Summer, who isn't so vocal, but lives a life of conviction

2. Jennifer, who shares a lot of my passions

3. Ashlyn, who is the apple that's not fallen far from the Momma Tree

4. Amber at Babywearing Buzz, because anyone who can blog mostly on this passion is a friend of mine for life!

5. Vicki, because she's got a great thing going on her blog. Real life, lovin' Jesus, lovin' her family kinda girl.


Getting back to Food Class Thursday!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Substitution Solutions

Hope your Memorial Day was wonderful! Let's get back to our topic at hand:

There are two ways to solve the problem of chemically laden bad food: Whole foods or adapted foods. Although whole foods eating is the healthiest, sometimes you just want some good old mac & cheese, so you turn to adapted foods. Depending on your resources, you can really go either way--or both.

Health food stores have many of our old favorites done in a more nutritious way. For instance, Annie's is a popular brand that's made it's way into even our little Wal-Mart. You can buy all sorts of products under Annie's label-even macaroni & cheese. It's whole grain and organic and free of the big bad 3 (MSG, hydrogenated oil & processed sugars). It's processed food still, so it needs to hold only a limited spot in a whole foods diet.

While transitioning into a whole foods diet, altered foods may be the way to go (totally my description by the way, if you walk into Whole Foods asking for altered foods, they're going to look back at you like you have two heads).

Here are some substitutions I use-we'll start with the list of things to rid your house of and go from there:

Margarine-butter, preferably organic.

Most processed lunch meats-look for nitrite/nitrate free varieties. Our WalMart carries one brand (down from two they used to carry). I think Super Target carries some in their deli.

Hot dogs-well, this is a hard one. Again, you don't want nitrites/nitrates (they're cancerous) but really you know what hot dogs are made of, right? I've compromised and bought Oscar Meyer I think, it says no artificial bla bla bla and something indicating it's not lips & tips. If you have access to a larger selection, you could probably find kosher, nitrite/nitrate free varieties.

Colas-sorry, we drink water or unsweetened tea (well, I only drink it, no one else will touch unsweet tea. Alternatively, you could sweeten you tea with honey or experiment with other healthy sweeteners which I'll talk about later.

Processed Cheese Products (not cheese, just the fake kind, especially Velveeta)-okay, I still make "rotel" once a year or so, but in casseroles calling for Velveeta, I've been replacing it with real cheddar cheese and it's tasted great.

Sugar laden breakfast cereals-due to high milk consumption and the price of cereal for a family our size, I've heavily reduced our cereal intake. I make oatmeal with a variety of toppings including homemade whipped cream (just whip cream, add maple syrup and viola!), strawberries, blueberries when affordable, maple syrup-the real stuff, and nuts. Also, breakfast burritos, eggs, homemade biscuits, homemade muffins, homemade pancakes. The last three can be made ahead for busy mornings.

Mac & cheese (boxed, not home made) There's always Annie's, also my mom's made her own mac & cheese for years...but I do think she uses Velveeta. I recall seeing some homemade recipes on allrecipes.com, so you could probably make your own.

Frozen dinners (prepared foods, not frozen fruits & veggies). We don't really buy these because they taste good do we? No-because they usually don't! We buy them so we don't have to cook. Instead, cook ahead and freeze the meal, double a recipe for dinner then freeze half for next week, use your crock pot instead, or have a list of super simple meals for busy evenings.

Chips Steer clear of most flavored chips, that's where the MSG comes in. Stay basic-there are some corn and tortilla chips that are good, also try the natural Cheetos and other varieties you can probably find in your store. Sunchips are also MSG & hydrogenated oil free. Remember, these are still processed foods, so they shouldn't be a staple, just a treat.

Candy There are "healthy" chocolate coated candies like M&Ms in health food stores, but you could also transition into healthier sweets like fruit. Once your taste buds are not used to super sweet sodas & candy, nothing will taste better than the natural sweetness of a ripe peach or piece of watermelon. I'll include recipes for desserts later, so don't despair!

Most canned soups learn to make your own (I don't make cream of ________ yet, but my basic cookbooks have recipes for them), shop from the health food store or buy Healthy Request from Campbells, which I've found to be MSG free.

Canned meals like Spaghetti-Os Well, there's probably not a good sub, just freeze your own portion sized leftovers. Once you eat whole foods, this stuff starts to taste like the crap it is (sorry, that's the only word that fits).

Fake juices like Sunny Delight, Hawaiian Punch, Gatorade (think colored sugary chemicals). Just don't. If you must do juice (again, it's a heck of a lot of sugar--way more than you'd get actually eating the fruit whole), dilute it, or only drink in a small amount. For some fun, add lemon or lime slices to a pitcher of water (be careful not to squeeze too much juice in though, it'll taste bitter).

Here are more that didn't make the list in the earlier post:

Coffee-I still drink coffee, I just sweeten it with maple syrup and add some milk instead of cream, unless I have raw milk, then I use cream off the top (yum!).

Chocolate Chips-for a small fortune, you can get a bag of grain sweetened chocolate chips or carob (a root that tastes similar to chocolate) chips from the health food store. They cost about double what a bag of Toll House chips cost.

Jelly-Smuckers Spreadable Fruit comes in several flavors and I can't tell the difference between this kind and the regular jellies.

White Sugar-It's not a perfect substitute, but there is a minimally processed sugar cane product called Rapadura from the Rapunzel company. It seems very similar to me to Sucanut. It's not as refined as white sugar, so it retains some of it's nutrients. I'll talk about white sugar later, but this is what I use in recipes like pizza crust and corn bread when they call for white sugar.

Eggs-it's best if you can find local free range eggs, in rural areas anyway, there are often many women selling them. I have a friend who sells them for about $2 a dozen, which is a steal compared to Wal-Marts free range organic eggs. Recently my mom started getting them from a family friend who simply gives them away. Nourishing Traditions states that free range eggs have much more omega 3s and 6s than regular eggs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Girl Pride

We have a huge moment to announce today. Are you sitting down? Okay, here it is:

Bethany went to the concession stand alone and bought her own food. She has really started coming out of her shell. She participates now in Sunday School (and in more than just a whisper!), she is excited about Children's Church instead of begging to stay in the service, and she wanted to join karate. Today she asked if she could go to the concession stand, like it was no big deal. She wanted a new snowcone sold prepackaged in a paper wrapper. We didn't know the name of it, so I asked her how she'd order it. She said, "I'll figure it out." And she did. She didn't figure out the the change from my $5 bill was mine and not hers, but that's okay!

I'm also proud of Hope-her team won by 15 points and Hope really hustled as hind catcher. Ashlyn's team didn't win, but Ashlyn got three girls out as third baseman. Her team is dealing with some coaching confusion (different styles between rotating assistant coaches).

So, I'm left with a great 3rd baseman, a superb hind catcher, and one good, confident shopper! Whoo hoo!

Whole Foods Recipes

Okay, here are some meal ideas to get you started. Many of these were given to me by a friend nearly ten years ago and I've gone back to them many times while learning to eat whole foods.

Salads
Using a mixture of deep green lettuces/greens is a great base. Be creative and add chopped cabbage, grated carrots, bell peppers, onions and so on. I also like to have spinach salads with fruit such as oranges and/or strawberries. Newman's Own makes good, healthy dressings. Read labels and avoid MSG, high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oils. Add an avocado and/or nuts for some protein.

Avocado Sandwich
Avocado, spicy brown mustard, tomato, and a whole grain bread is delish!



Nut Butter Sandwich
Almond or cashew butters are great (but expensive). As an economical compromise, we buy Smuckers Natural or Organic Peanut Butter (Peanuts grow a mold we probably shouldn't eat, but budget restraints mandate we go with PB for now, but if I could afford it, we wouldn't eat it). Avoid the regular brands, they often have hydrogenated oils. You have to get used to the natural kinds, since the oils don't mix in the same, but it's worth it.


Hummus Sandwich
You may have heard of hummus, it's ground garbanzo beans, aka chickpeas. I don't like garbanzo beans at all, but I like hummus. You can get it in decent sized health food stores, I just bought some at Central Market. It's mixed with some seasonings and sold in the bulk bins and probably packaged as well. I've bought it already mixed and didn't like it as well as my home mixed kind. If you buy it dry, mix it with olive oil, water, and some lime juice per the package instructions. Use the mixture as a replacement for lunch meat, and pile on the good stuff like sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, cucumber, whatever else you like.


Ezekiel bread
You can buy this bread at the health food store, usually in the frozen food section. It's very heavy, nutritionally dense bread. My family loves it, but I've not bought it in a while since it's about $5 a loaf. I've found a recipe online and may try it soon. It's worth trying if you find some near you.

Baked Potatoes
White or sweet, add cheese and butter for protein (well, cheese isn't so yummy on sweet potatoes, but butter and salt will do fine-one of Ashlyn's favorite meals).

Pasta Salad
Whole grain pastas (my family doesn't care for whole wheat, but there are other varieties to be discovered in your health food store) with veggies and Newman's Own dressing.

Spaghetti
Saute onions & garlic, add a good meat (like free range beef-I don't think I have the wording down, but beef raised on a pasture, not a feed lot), then add canned diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Throw in some oregano, basil, etc. Serve with a whole grain pasta.

Beans & Rice
Use whole grain brown rice (no white, no instant). It takes longer, but it nutritionally worth it. I make red beans by boiling water, pouring over my rinsed & sorted beans (pick out the dirt and messed up beans). I cook this in my crock pot all day, adding salt in midway and letting Shane spice them since I never get the spices right. I don't really like beans, but have learned to love them with sour cream, cheese and rotel tomatoes mixed in. Cilantro put in at the end is great, too.

Taco Salad
Make a basic green salad and add chili flavored beans (read labels to avoid the no-no's), corn, avocado, black olives, tomatoes and cheese. Of course, you could add good beef too. Serve on top of corn chips. You can find corn chips with just corn and salt, no hydrogenated oils, if you read labels. I buy them at Wal-Mart.

Stir Fry
Use your favorite veggies, add any spices you like and serve on brown rice. You can buy something called Braggs Liquid Aminos at your health food store. It's like soy sauce in taste but doesn't have MSG. You can use it in this dish for the Chinese food flavor, put it on salad & baked potatoes.

Oven Fried Potatoes
Use red potatoes (washed well if not organic, since potatoes are bad about soaking in pesticides), with skin on and spices such as oregano, lemon pepper, garlic and so on. Mix all of it well in a bowl or big zip lock bag, spread on a cookie sheet and bake on 400 degrees for about 3o minutes.
Spreadable Butter
Butter is hard to spread out of the fridge, so if you want to make a spread, mix equal parts of oil (olive oil is what I use) with butter in a food processor. It spreads easily even when cold and is much better for you than margarine.

Veggie Stew
2 large cans tomato sauce

2 large cans diced tomatoes

1 large chopped onion

garlic

whole corn (fresh or frozen)

diced potatoes

chopped carrots

frozen green beans

Your favorite spices such as oregano, basil, rosemary, cumin, garlic pepper.

Saute onion & garlic in olive oil, then dump it all in a crock pot for the day. Can add good meat if you desire. If you don't, be sure to add some protein from cheese, sour cream, and/or beans.

Taco Soup
Saute one small chopped onion & 4 oz can chopped green chilies (optional on the chilies)

taco seasoning (I buy the McCormick that says "less sodium" since it is MSG free, but I want to make my own soon)

1 cup corn

3 cup stewed tomatoes

1 can kidney beans

1 can pinto beans

1 1/2 cup water

You can loosely follow this recipe, adding in whatever beans you have on hand. Throw it all together, heat thoroughly and serve with corn chips, cheese, & sour cream.



Bow Tie Pasta
Whole grain bow ties, cooked, drained, and rinsed in cool water. Toss with grape tomatoes, black olive slices, chopped green onion, feta cheese and Newman's Own Balsamic Vinaigrette. My kids' favorite meal-no kidding.

Easy Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Whole grain pasta noodles

MSG free broth (I usually buy the big Swansen can and add equal parts water)

Chopped carrots

Natural chicken (okay, I buy the canned natural stuff...not economical but easy & cheap in the short-run)

Salt, pepper & oregano to taste.

Boil water & broth, add pasta, chicken, carrots and cook until carrots are tender.


There are many more I'd like to share with you, maybe I'll add more as we go along. I also have desserts, so stay tuned!