Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Not-So-Goodies

Ah, to pick up after the holiday, I thought this post might help you (ok, me) get back on track with some healthy eating. I admit; I indulged in sweet goodies - some of which might well have had this stuff in it... And I didn't even ask about it. *hangs head*

Splenda is a favorite of many trying to avoid overdosing (or even using) sugar. Sugar is definitely bad. But this stuff is hardly a better option. Consider these fun facts:
  • As of 2006, only six human trials had been published on Splenda (sucralose).
  • Of those six trials, only two were completed and published before the FDA approved sucralose for human consumption.
  • The two published trials had a grand total of 36 total human subjects.
  • Of those, only 23 people were actually given sucralose for testing.
  • The longest trial had lasted only four days and looked at sucralose in relation to tooth decay, not human tolerance.

Feeling motivated yet? Nothing like Mother Government and her FDA looking at 23 people and telling the rest of us the poison isn't harmful. Anyone eat this stuff more than 4 days? Of course, that is only the human trials. We can extrapolate based on animal studies too, can't we? I think so. Consider these problems in test animals:

  • Decreased red blood cells -- sign of anemia -- at levels above 1,500 mg/kg/day.
  • Increased male infertility by interfering with sperm production and vitality, as well as brain lesions at higher doses.
  • Enlarged and calcified kidneys (McNeil stated this is often seen with poorly absorbed substances and was of no toxicological significance. The FDA Final Rule agreed that these are findings that are common in aged female rats and are not significant.)
  • Spontaneous abortions in nearly half the rabbit population given sucralose, compared to zero aborted pregnancies in the control group.
  • A 23 percent death rate in rabbits, compared to a 6 percent death rate in the control group.

I got this information from Mercola's site. The article goes on to recommend safe alternatives (stevia) and includes a member-discussion. One member posted about Splenda getting rid of cockroaches that came home with him from a retreat (Splenda was created accidentally while attempting to manufacture an insecticide).

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Goodies, Part Three!

Real Scottish Shortbread

This is one of those that's a little hard to post, for several reasons. First, it's almost impossible to explain the exact technique we use without watching. And no, I don't have serial pictures to illustrate each step, either. Secondly, it's one of those holiday traditions that I know dates back to at least the MacMillans, who were my great-great-great-grandparents. So consider this my sacrifice for Peace on earth, goodwill toward men, ok? The recipe (and technique) have evolved over the ages, obviously, and I have yet to try it with my raw, home-churned butter, which I'm sure the MacMillan's used.

Here is the recipe:

3 lbs flour
2 lbs butter
1 lb sugar
1 tsp. salt

Mix well and bake.

Ok, maybe that's a bit over-simplified. Get ready for the difficult-to-describe details. Use all-purpose flour and baker's (very fine) sugar if you can find it. Sift these dry ingredients A LOT. My grandma has been known to substitute about 1/2 cup of powdered sugar for a bit of it. Once that's all sifted together WELL, cut up your two pounds (yes, pounds) of butter into chunks. Gi-gi also swears by adding about 1/6 pound of lard to the mix. I make it either way. Gently "toss" the cut chunks with the flour mixture. Now you need to warm it. Gi-gi uses the microwave, generations previous used the wood stove. DO NOT let the butter melt (easy to do if you don't have years of balancing this relationship in your own personal microwave). If you do, I recommend sitting down with about 50 of your closest friends and eating the dough with spoons (or fingers). Melted butter makes for... tough.. shortbread. You want butter that is warm to the touch and soft. When it is like that, roll up your sleeves (if you haven't already) and mash it all up. To do this we use a very sophisticated technique. I don't know if there's a name for it, but we thrust our hands into it and mix it around and squeeze the dough through our fingers and make a big mess. Once it's mixed WELL, I take out a handful and form it into a squarish log, maybe 1.5" square. This I take and slice about 1/4 - 3/8" thick and lay the slices on cookie sheets. I use a fork to 'prick' them about 4 times or so. They are baked at 350 until done. I have no idea when that will be for you. True traditional shortbread is not allowed to brown, though I like the taste better when just the edges start to turn. In my frigidaire convection oven, it takes about 17 minutes. My grandma's identical oven takes 16. If you forget about the last oven-full, it looks like these on the right. I believe the pigs ate these last year. This kind of 'brown' is definitely beyond the allowable limits.

I wish I could say exactly how much this recipe will make for you. Because it is a large recipe, a lot depends on how large you form the logs and how thickly you slice them. A triple batch we did one day made 35 dozen, I think Gi-gi got 42 dozen out of a triple shortly thereafter.

Fun facts opinions bits of info:
Kids can help 'mash' the mixture and/or prick the shortbread slices after they're on the pan (if your kids are older than mine, perhaps they can also form, slice, and arrange them on the sheet).

Shortbread are NOT cookies. Scotsmen find that offensive. I will try to be gracious, but consider yourself warned.

Gi-gi counts her shortbread made by the pounds of butter she uses. Last I heard it was in the neighborhood of fifty pounds so far this year. This is the only thing she ever uses her oven for, and it is the only thing she gives as gifts.

Once, Gi-gi located an old nun who had moved to some far-away convent. She had lost track of her many years prior. After hearing where she was, she sent some shortbread, and the caretakers put a plate of it out. Though this (former?) nun was blind and no one had informed her of the shipment, it only took one taste for her to exclaim, "I'll be! That's [Gi-gi]'s shortbread!"

I hope you get a chance to try this out. I also hope it turns out well. Please let me know of your attempts!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Me

My feeling dissatisfied with the "Christian Status Quo" has only been increasing lately. I recognize that it is a dissatisfaction primarily with myself, but partly at the teaching or training I've been willing to receive (or not receive) in the past.

I wish to be a light. Or even a road sign. When the world looks upon me and my family, I want them to be pointed to Christ.

I am overwhelmed by what a poor example I am. Do I look any different than the heathen? Do I act or speak any differently? I'm afraid the answer is often no.

I've grown up to embrace the freedom and liberty that is found in Christ. When legalism was recognized, it was quickly put away. These are good things to do! But I fear I have lived in the "all things are lawful" camp without seriously looking at the "but not all things edify" camp. Pretty soon, in the "all things are lawful" camp, the skirts are as short as the world's. The shirts are as tight and sparkly as the immoral girl's. Our language isn't any purer than our wardrobe, and I don't refer solely to swearing. The subjects we speak of, the jokes we tell, the gossip we engage in. The fine line between enjoying good wine and being drunk becomes fuzzy. What movies and music and media do we consume? Furthermore, what movies and music do we feed our children? When we gather around the table or for fellowship, would an outsider looking in see Christ glorified? Do our children see Him lifted up?

My heart sinks in me to answer these questions.

Does my dress measure up to scripture when it admonishes women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. 1 Tim 2:9-10

Instead of loud, immodest (drawing attention) behavior, the Bible actually tells us to adorn with the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. 1 Pet. 3:4

Regarding our words, God says Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. Eph. 4:29

When I think about watching or reading something, do I consider His Word when it admonishes me to set no wicked thing before mine eyes? Psalm 101:3a

I'm afraid I don't know whether I am an old woman or young woman at this point, but I have been amazed to find instruction for myself either way. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Titus 2:3-5 This one really packs in the conviction. I haven't studied out the greek or consulted my lexicon, but on the surface it looks like my failure here results in blasphemy of God's word.

Blasphemy.

Is your head bowed low? Mine is.

I have read the Bible. I have even studied it at a Christian university. Why didn't I know it said these things? Do we just glance over these verses, assuming they were for a "different time and culture" and therefore not applicable to us? We can wear tight, low-cut clothing, because, after all, it's not tight, see-through clothing like we see on those women. Or maybe we can wear it because it will help us reach the lost. There are a few instances when our dress can help or hinder our witness, certainly, but truth-be-told, if you are 'poor,' you don't ask investment advice from a guy dressed as shabbily as you. And if he tried to hand out that advice, you'd probably not buy it.

Let there not be a 'difference' between me and the unbeliever because of pride. Not so *I* can be noticed.

I don't even know how to wrap this one up. I guess if I keep pressing onward, he which hath begun a good work in [me] will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Phil. 1:6

Monday, December 17, 2007

Dirty Language

I recalled an incident today, that made me chuckle all over again. It was about a year ago, probably the same season, since I was in the sewing room. Big Sister was somewhere nearby. She was 5 at the time, and I'd been training her on proper telephone etiquette. Hubby was downstairs watching Dirty Jobs - we still had satellite tv back then.

The phone rang, and I didn't have one handy, so decided to let the answering machine get it as opposed to extricating myself from the Machine. I overheard my daughter answering the phone in the next room, and quieted my sewing to listen.

"Mama is upstairs with me and [Little Monkey], but she's busy sewing."

"No Daddy is busy too. He's downstairs watching... something dirty."

"Hello? Hello?"

"Mama, they hung up."

Nothing like being Salt and Light to telemarketers!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Survived..

It has been a poor week for posting, hasn't it? I apologize. Maybe I will do better next week. Thursday was our bi-monthly Errand Day, the Big 'Un, that is. Hubby had forgotten to grab his check Wednesday evening, so we started our day heading to the town where he works, about 30 minutes away. That takes a while, because our his dog only sits and stays on the porch for a short time. She then proceeds to chase the car down the driveway, which is followed by my backing up the driveway, followed by my placing her on the porch with commands to sit! stay! Wash, rinse, repeat until you give up and don't care if the dog follows you to the road and gets mashed. She won't be spayed until next Wednesday, at which point I'll have the $70 to regret. I finally drove to Hubby's work, where my eldest daughters informed me that they "could not find" their shoes before we left. That's right. They climbed into the car without their shoes in 25 degree weather. For our big errand day. To give me a chance to learn patience and grace, I suppose. Nice of them. I found a pair of shoes for Little Monkey in the trunk, so she wore those, but Big Sister was without footwear for the duration. Once in Town (another 20 minutes another direction), I discovered that Hubby had borrowed my American Express/warehouse membership card. Which makes the shopping and errands much more complicated. I would survive, though. I would.

Apparently last Thursday my nice Camry was invisible. We didn't get into any accidents, but had several close calls with drivers slowly turning out right in front of me, or turning where they weren't supposed to and blocking my access in the midst of heavy traffic. Is it the holidays? Do all the idiot less-skilled drivers hit the streets in December? I'm sorry to report that I temporarily lost my salvation when an old man mosied his car to keep me from the lane to get me to the gas station that we were in dire need of. U-turns in busy traffic? Guess so! I did repent, though. Eventually we found a parking space at the Members-Only-Warehouse. After getting a temporary "pass" from the membership desk, we began our shopping. Big Sister ran ahead to a stuffed-animal bin where an employee spotted her stockings and informed her, "Little girl, you cannot be in here without shoes! You must put your shoes back on." I approached from behind and asked, "Do you sell shoes in her size?" She looked at me like I was real Mother-of-the-Year material for dragging my kindergartener about in below-freezing weather. Which I already knew, of course. "Well, then, you'll just have to stay in the cart" she told her. "It's against OSHA rules to be in here without shoes." The woman and I both glanced into said cart, which was already full to the brim with Little Monkey (who, shoes or not, cannot be 'on the loose' in the store), and the baby carrier. I had barely begun the 'shopping.' I had Big Sister stand on the lower bar and hold on while I made our way through the bustling holiday shoppers to a quiet corner where we could rearrange the seating. The corner did not remain quiet, however, when I tried putting Baby in my nice new Ergo Carrier (thankfully I'd brought it into the store!). Trying to get Howling Baby situated while her sisters ate their food-samples - one in the cart and the other carefully avoiding the floor by sitting on pallets of dog food - was a challenge for my already-frustrated self. Big Sister managed to get herself seated next to Little Monkey in the cart (this one had no child-seat in it), and I was faced with the daunting task of getting the infant carrier to the rack below the cart. With Darling Baby crying at the top of her lungs. Still. I'm not used to the Ergo enough to be comfortable leaning over and using two hands to accomplish a task, and kicking the carrier wasn't going to situate it carefully among the potatoes. Why, oh why does my girls' only stay-at-home-grandma live hours away? Because I left home and married and settled hours away, that's why. Note to self: Consider that in next life. God sent a Ministering Angel, also known as Another Employee to assist me in my High Calling of situating the baby carrier carefully among the potatoes.

We did make it home, without wrecking the car or getting arrested by OSHA. I even unloaded the perishables from the trunk, and was a pleasant wife when Hubby returned home from work. Progress is being made here. Real progress.

And, my second-babiest toe on my right foot was in excruciating pain the whole time too. We survived. Maybe even conquered. Next time: Be more than conquerors!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wordless...



Lots of blogs seem to participate in "Wordless Wednesdays" where they just post a photo. I have dozens of photos that I'm kinda proud of, and while I'm also kinda worried someone will steal them and get rich (okay, maybe not), I might just take up the whole "wordless" idea. I'm not going to limit myself to Wednesdays however. You never know when you might be stuck for a blog idea.

So here's to (not so) wordless:

Monday, December 10, 2007

Oh Yeah..

I only posted about a dozen entries about the shower issues. And then I never posted a "ta-da" entry. Of course, I was busy birthing a 9+ lb baby, so maybe you'll forgive me.

This is the nice view of our new tile shower. If narrow my vision to stare at the other corner (to the right), I can pretend it's a perfect shower. I won't see the cheap, generic, chrome, upside-down valve or the gray metal pipe coming out of a hole in the wall sealed with a plastic grocery sack stuffed around it. Nor will I see the dual-layer translucent, vinyl shower curtains that I paid a whole $1.49 each for. Oddly enough, the rings that hold up said shower curtain match the fake-bronze showerhead and cost $16. There's no accounting for a highly hormonal 9-months-pregnant woman making budget-vs-design decisions. I did however manage to design that cute line of squares-on-point that run around the shower, and the shelves, although had I designed them with a little more forethought, I'd have had Tile Guy install the shelves before the decorative row, but oh well. The rest of the bathroom still looks like a construction zone; plywood showing where we tore up the vinyl and subfloor to replace it, the storage shelves packed with tools, lumber, and other odds-and-ends. The outer walls of the shower are still mud-on-sheetrock.

A year or two ago I got my property tax assessment which increased the value of "improvements" (houses, etc) a whopping 44%. Of course, I called the Assessor's office and said, "Are you out of your minds?" Turns out they did an across-the-board hike on 'small acreages'. Ours doesn't really qualify, except for the odd way we had to purchase the place, which temporarily divides the 17 acres into two pieces, making the house piece look small. I said, "Why dontcha come on out here and take a look-see fer yerself!" And he did. I pointed out the bad exterior paint, the not-quite-attached countertop (before it broke), the death-trap garage door, and of course, the master bath.

He actually changed the house description from 4 bed, 2 1/2 bath to 4 bed, 1 1/2 bath.

Before he left, he assured me that this place was a dump he had confidence our tax bill would be lowered back down.

As it turned out, the assessed value was a couple thousand dollars LESS than what it had been before!

All this to say, don't nobody go telling the county tax-man that I have a shower again.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Goodies, Part Two!

This is a very poor picture indeed, but one of another favorite. We've called these "Chocolate Butterscotch Scotcheroos" and they ARE a mouthful. A little goes a long way with these; they're rich and delicious, and hard to chew.

First, grease a 9x13 pan. Any pan will do, but I prefer glass. I used to use those el-cheapo Baker's Secret things, until I learned Teflon will kill me, and since they shed said teflon like dandruff, I decided glass is better. Grease it with something worthwhile, like butter.

In a large pot, mix a cup of sugar and a cup of corn syrup. I know, it doesn't really get any worse, does it? Corn syrup is GM, almost always, and sugar is just not good for you. But this is not a health-food post or recipe, is it? Ok, cook it (I really don't care what kind of heat) until it JUST comes to a boil, then remove from the heat and add a cup of peanut butter and stir it in well. From the time it boils you don't want to waste any time, as in cooling it hardens considerably. Stir in 6 cups of Cheap Generic Crispy Rice. Or the expensive kind, your choice. Stir gently to coat the rice with the goo. These recipes all have goo, don't they? Again, not wasting any time, scrape the stuff into your greased pan, and press it level, more or less. You might need to butter your fingers or use a utensil that won't have everything sticking to it. Then mix 1/2 a package of milk chocolate chips and 1/2 a package of butterscotch chips in a small saucepan, and melt them on low heat. Whey the chips are melted and smooth, pour them over the peanut butter/rice cereal mixture and spread evenly. You can cut these any time, but the best utensil is a dough cutter or scraper. It looks like a metal rectangle with a wooden or plastic handle along a long edge. If they're completely cooled and the chocolate is hardened, you will need a lot of muscle to do the job. I cut them about 1.5" square, wrap 8 or 12 in plastic wrap, and add them to a gift for Christmas!

To recap:
bring to boil:
1 c. sugar
1 c. corn syrup

Remove from heat and add:
1 c. peanut butter, stir
6 c. rice cereal, stir

press into greased pan,

melt 1/2 pkg. milk chocolate, 1/2 pkg. butterscotch

Spread over rice mixture, cool, cut, enjoy!

Friday, December 07, 2007

Goodies!

I don't mean to brag (well, maybe), but there are those who claim I've cornered the market on holiday treats. Again, they probably had ulterior motives, but I'll receive the compliment anyway.


One of my favorite goodies is Cracker Candy.


WOW, it's so delicious.


I don't think you can buy anything like it in the store, but really I wouldn't know. Not to say that this stuff is organic or even remotely healthy, mind you. But the taste... Here's a picture of some I made last year. It was already bagged up for the freezer, but maybe the beauty will convey anyway.


You want the recipe, don't you.


No, I couldn't.


Oh, please don't beg. Really.


Ok, I suppose, if it means that much to you. But if you live near me and frequent any of the same gatherings as I, or give gifts to the same people as I, please use this recipe with discretion. Alone, at night, in the privacy of your own home is fine.


Here we go.




Get some crackers. Those little white, toasty lookin' things. Saltines, or whatever. Also get butter (the original recipe called for margerine, but...yuck!), brown sugar, milk chocolate chips (or whatever darkness you prefer) and mashed walnuts. Oh, you don't know what that is? Chopped walnuts will work fine also. Probably will work better. I buy walnuts in 'halves and pieces' and put them in a ziplock and beat the heck out of them with a rolling pin. Hmm... maybe the counter had been under stress? Aluminum foil is also called for (see, toxic stuff, I tell ya!) though I recently used parchment paper instead. The jury is still out on that. Anyways, a kitchen is also handy, with it's appropriate appliances and tools-of-the-trade.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick pan spray (since aluminum and spray-propellants will kill you, I either brush the foil with oil or use parchment paper. I can't totally recommend the parchment paper yet, because the last [triple] batch had some issues that *might* be attributed to this). Carefully line the foil with saltine crackers. If they don't fit to the edge (and they never do), trimming crackers to fit along the edge can be helpful. Set aside.


Bring to boil over medium heat: 1 c. brown sugar and 1 c. butter (margerine?). Boil 3 minutes (more won't hurt, but don't do it TOO long). Pour/spread this over your crackers, making sure each cracker is well-saturated with the goo. Put in oven for 5 minutes.


While this 'bakes', melt a package of milk chocolate chips over low heat (I rinse and DRY the same pan I used for the butter/sugar mixture).


When the crackers are done, remove them from the oven and 'replace' them. That is, use a fork or something to get them back in order. They like to swim and float about in the oven (which is why leaving too much space along the edges is a bad thing), and we need a nice grid here.


Spread the melted chocolate over the cracker mixture, trying not to stir the carmelized stuff into the chocolate too badly.


Sprinkle mashed walnuts over the chocolate.


Cut while still warm.


Did you get that last part? If they're warm enough, it's hardly even 'cutting.' Draw a butter knife between each cracker. If you don't do this while they're warm, you will have one giant goodie that is hard to wrap. You can use a chisel to try to cut it, but they won't come out in squares if you do.


Cool, and remove from pan/foil. If you did it right, this shouldn't be too hard.


Now, my last batch had a problem usually associated with removing the butter/sugar from the stove (or oven, after it's on the crackers) too quickly. After they cooled, the sugar/butter wasn't carmelized, but still like... buttery sugar. Kind of. Some of it was inclined to stay on the parchment paper as opposed to hardening to itself and staying in one piece. Don't get me wrong; they're still quite edible, but they don't package, travel, or present quite as nicely. I'm not sure if I took them off the heat too quickly, or if the parchment paper lends a different quality to the stuff.


I will test it again next week. For the past few years I've taken a huge tray of this and two more goodies (yet to be posted!) to Hubby's company Christmas party and they're always a hit. This year no one will expect it, what with the baby and homeschooling and all, so it will be fun to make everyone think I'm superwoman surprise everyone. I might even make an assortment of dark chocolate ones, so they look all cute alternating on the tray.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Last weekend, while listening to some "dramatized" Bible on tape (I don't know what they were thinking when they picked Eve's voice, but...), we sat together as a family and shucked some popcorn. Shucked? Maybe we didn't shuck it. It was already shucked. I think. We popped the kernels off. No, we really didn't pop it either, because it's not popped yet. Hmm... Whatever we did, we removed each individual popcorn from it's cob. We saved some pretty ones for decor next year, and some for seed. This has been a wonderful aspect of our garden this year. I planted a quarter pound of seed, and it grew nicely. It grew TALL, and the girls loved hiding and playing within the rows. As did the escaped chickens. When it dried out, opening each ear was like opening a present; you never knew what colors or patterns were held inside. Little Monkey wasn't too keen on keeping the husks attached to the ears, though they look nicer that way, I think. The husks will further dry (to the point of crispy) in whatever way they are let set, so we even had some with husks pointing every which way. Most of our husks/stalks dried a beige color, but a few stayed a deep purple. We still have ears of the stuff about the house; the girls did *too* good a job at decorating. :) This was "Miniature Indian Popcorn," but it grew much larger than the last time I planted it; I think that was due to planting where we'd kept the pigs last winter. Even so, it's not quite as large as regular popcorn. You can tell when you put it in a hot-air popper and the kernels fly out! This is best popped in hot oil on the stovetop. We haven't popped any of this harvest yet, but our former tiny stuff popped up to about the size of the tip of my pinky finger! This harvest yielded about 7 pounds of popcorn, plus the decorations, seed, and random ears still roaming about. [Shucked, popped off, removed, whatever] and put in a jar with a ribbon makes a fun holiday gift, or they can be given as intact ears, with the dried husk attached.


I will be away from home and the computer for a day or so, so feel free to leave comments, but don't worry if they aren't published for awhile!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Education

We are expecting Dr. Baucham's book today, if DHL can figure out which house is ours.

To frame the following, I should tell you that we don't exactly live in a very diverse area. Seeing a black person is rare, although we have a large Hispanic population. While I was watching the above clip, Big Sister walked up behind me and said, in a delighted tone, "Wow, he is a beautiful color, isn't he?"

If only the world could see through her eyes!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Found 'Im!

I've long since noticed an interesting phenomenon. It seems Osama Bin Laden hides in every Nativity I've seen. I have two Nativities (Nativitys?), and he resides in both: Interestingly, the first day we had this set out, Big Sister was adding some "decorations" and gently knocked Osama over, where his head promptly detached and rolled across the stable floor. Hubby managed to reattach it, but the donkey's ear and other Wise Guy's hand and gift are still in Nativity ER. This Osama is from my other, larger and fancier Nativity. I would not be so non chalant if this Nativity started losing body parts, so this year it remains in the closet. Where it has been since Little Monkey became mobile. I need to build a high shelf. Very high. This, I believe, is a more "recent" Osama. He's definitely got that aged look about him, and while his turban looks as though it's been spending some cave-time, his clothes are a little shmancier than I would imagine.

Update: The Wise Guy with the broken hand looks to be of African descent. Hubby has tagged him "Obama."





Saturday, December 01, 2007

Hmmm...

Will it work?

Does it matter?

Why can't I cut out all but the few seconds where she's being cute?

But Not Too Late!

Ok, Baby Girl fell asleep and I had some fun updating my header. I won't tell you who that guy is, just that he's been mentioned on here a time or two, anonymously...

I searched and searched my photos for anything remotely Christmas-ey, that didn't have the girls in it, or was a decent picture. No luck. I found some nice wintery scenes, but geez, what will I do for January if I use those up now?

I know, I know. It's a stretch.

But since we don't have chestnuts to roast on open fires...

Mini marshmallows roasting on holiday candles will have to suffice.

The bow looked better on his forehead, but I thought that might be stretching too far...

Late

I know, I know. It's December 1, and I still have a turkey in the header. You didn't expect me to remember about that, did you?

I remembered briefly earlier this week, but have been busy with other things.

And then, yes, I forgot.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Brainless

I've long held to the belief that your (ok, at least "my") I.Q. drops by about half with every pregnancy. I usually regain half of that after having the baby, but I'm not so sure it's returning this time.

I went to Town last weekend for two very important reasons. One, to reclaim my Green Death that was left with my in-laws after Thanksgiving (if you wish, I could post the recipe...). The other was to get a great deal on interfacing at the fabric store. Well, we went to the fabric store first, where the interfacing was all bought out. Figures. I bought buttons and notions instead. And then came straight home.

Oops.

Do you know what it costs to go to town and back these days? Even with my nice Camry? Of course, I went back the next day for the Green Death. Death should make it's own carbon footprint, right?

A couple weeks ago I ordered this book from Vision Forum, among some other things. Last Monday, to get in on the free shipping, I apparently forgot it was on order and I bought it again. When I opened the UPS shipment on Tuesday morning I had to make a desperate call to Customer Service to edit my order. Good heavens.

A few days ago I was ready to install some grommets on the Christmas Presents, and discovered that all I had on hand was one silver grommet and one gold. That was just not going to work. I kicked myself a dozen times for buying everything BUT grommets last weekend at the fabric store. To say nothing of my previous trips there of late. Yesterday's errands took me back to the fabric store, to buy the things once-and-for-all. At least I still had my 40% off coupon. I installed the grommets last night, and they look so nice. When I reached into another bag to get the last item to finish it, out fell a brand new package of grommets. That I bought 2 weeks ago. Sheesh.

At least I still have my receipt.

Wish I had my brain.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Giveaway!

Doug Phillips and Vision Forum are sponsoring a giveaway at inashoe.com to help get word out about the FREE SHIPPING Vision Forum is offering until Midnight tonight

Help spread the word on your website or blog then leave a comment at Life in a Shoe by 10pm today to enter!

Good Luck!

Diaper Covers!

I haven't posted much information about my current projects because, well, it's the Christmas Season, and there is a possibility (albeit slight) that some gift recipients are current readers of this blog, and I don't want to spoil the surprise! I guess that doesn't do my readers much good, huh, to know they aren't likely getting any gifts? :)



Something I have been working on here and there are some larger diaper covers. I only technically bought the 8-15 lb range or so, and she's probably 14+ right now, so we've been using some of my homemade ones.



It's not too hard really; I have all the crazy fabric required for these things, and making an pattern off an existing cover is pretty easy.



Here are some I've completed:

I made these while waiting for her, so they're the I think it's a boy colors...


Oooo look! Laundry tabs!
I made a couple autumn-themed covers. SO fashionable! This one was based on Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, with fold-over-elastic to edge most of it.

Here's another Bummis copy; (enlarged) one of my holiday themed covers. It's the deluxe version, lined with a layer of crushed Panne. It's also turned-and-topstitched. This offers protection against any PUL-skin contact, but working with that panne stuff was horrific. So slippery! Next time I'll need to work it differently, I think.



So, that's a bit of what I've done this past month in the sewing room. Perhaps I'll spend January doing a show-and-tell-all...

Monday, November 26, 2007

Unbelieveable?

This article should scare the crooks politicians in Washington into dealing with the border. I don't suppose it will though.

Here are the highlights:

"...sources warned that possibly 60 Afghan and Iraqi terrorists were to be smuggled into the U.S. through underground tunnels with high-powered weapons to attack the Arizona Army base..."

"...the [Mexican drug] cartel's assistance in smuggling them and their weapons through tunnels along the border into the U.S."

"A number of the Afghans and Iraqis are already in a safe house in Texas..."

"About 12,000 persons work at the fort and many have their families on base."


I don't know whether to be angry that this is so easily done, or grateful that the plan was discovered in time.

Birthday Tribute

Today is my little brother's birthday. I loathe to realize that though he is "littler," he is now 28. Or will be as of 5:15 p.m. or so.

We refer to him as "Munchkin" around here, and today we'd like to commemorate his day by listing some wonderful attributes about him.

When Munchkin was a munchkin, he was so helpful.


He's funny:

He has lovely blue eyes:

He's talented in piano:

And art:

(Here's proof:)

He's athletic:

Well-balanced:

And flexible:

We love you Munchkin! You're my favorite brother! Have a wonderful and awesome birthday.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

"Day 3" Cookies

Don't they look delicious? They're egg-, dairy-, and wheat-free. They'd be better with chocolate, but oh, well. Chocolate is not a day 3 item, and all my chocolate chips have dairy elements. I hope Hubby loves them anyway.

The recipe follows, but I kinda made it up, so be forewarned.

Mix:

1 1/4 c. peanut butter (I used organic, that is runnier than conventional stuff with nasty corn syrup and evil trans fat)

1/4 c. or less coconut oil (you could use butter)

3 eggs (I used egg substitute - weird stuff)

1-2 c. honey (I used closer to 1, and added a dash of stevia. Sugar would probably work)

some salt, maybe?


Then add and mix:

2 t. baking soda

Add and mix:

4 1/2 c. rolled oats

1/2 c. oat flour (i.e. rolled oats that have been in the food processor)

Because it seemed a bit ... weak (slouching down the bowl sides), I added a bit more of the powdered egg substitute, which is mostly potato flour. If you used the sugar, and 'stiffer' peanut butter, you might not need the oat flour, even.

I cooked them 10 minutes at 350.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I Agree!

This article is about a woman who had her tubes tied to save the planet, and another whose boyfriend had a vasectomy for the same purpose.

After reading about them, I wholeheartedly agree.

The world would be far worse off if these types reproduced.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Too Funny

This is an email I received promoting Glenn Beck's new book, An Inconvenient Book. Apparently he's at #6 on Amazon.com and has learned from the politicians to attack your opponents if you run out of things to say about yourself. He did well.

If there's one thing I've learned from politicians it's that when you're out of good things to say about yourself, just start bashing your opponents. So now that my book has been released (and I'm out of things to say about it), it's time to take down my competitors. As I write this, An Inconvenient Book sits at #6 on the Amazon bestseller list. Here's a look at the drivel ahead of us:

#1 - You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual For Extending Your Warranty (You) by Michael F. Roizen, Mehmet C. Oz There are a few big problems with this book. First, this book has two colons and three versions of the word "you" in the title alone. It sounds like it was written by a fourth grader. Second, isn't Mehmet Oz the doctor on Oprah who inexplicably shows up to her TV studio wearing hospital scrubs, like he's about to perform an emergency appendectomy? You want advice from that guy? Here's my pledge to you: no more than one colon, and no surgical scrubs. Ever.

#2 - The Pillars of the Earth (Deluxe Edition) (Oprah's Book Club) by Ken Follett It's 973 pages. 973. Did you hear me? NINE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY THREE!

#3 - Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food by Jessica Seinfeld Here's a "simple secret" to get your kids to eat vegetables: make them. I just saved you $14.97.

#4 - The Birds in My Life by The Supreme Master Ching Hai I can actually relate to this one because I have a bird in my life too; it's called a turkey. And it's delicious. But beyond that, I cannot fathom how an out of stock book about birds is beating me. I'm solving global warming, poverty and illegal immigration, yet people still care more about Polly wanting a freakin' cracker?? Is it because the author is a "Supreme Master" and I'm not? Because if that's all it takes then I'm enrolling in Supreme Mastering class Monday morning and I'll stamp "Supremer Master Glenn Beck" right on the cover of the paperback.

#5 - The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet Where have I heard about this book before? Oh yea, it's already on the list! Hey Follet; do you really need to hog two spots? And Oprah--if you want your fans to still have enough time to watch your show, send them my way instead. I've got 100% more solutions than Follet in just 1/3 of the pages.

In summary, if you buy all of the books in front of mine then you'd learn how to make you a better you, how to communicate with birds, and how to secretly feed your kids vegetables; but what good is any of that if Islamic extremists kill us all because my book is stuck at #6?? Please, I don't want to sound overdramatic, but (and you need your best "Hereos" voiceover impression here): Buy my book; save the world.

Sincerely, (And not at all bitter or jealous)
Glenn Beck

That cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Paint Problems

[Note: A fun discussion of various diet/health issues is included in the comments section of this post.]

Thursday before last I did my regular errands. Actually my main errand was to stock up on the previously-blogged chocolate. Those Ghirardelli chips are $1.50 at least until January! This could be very dangerous. In any case, after my errands, I returned home, and realized it was likely the last nice weather we would be having for a long, loooonnngggg time. You may have noticed my sadly-un-updated To Do List on my sidebar which has included "paint the hallway" and "finish refinishing dining table" for just ever. If I was going to paint without poisoning all our brains but also without freezing us to death, it had to be right then. So I went into the garage and searched for the paint. I had finally found the clear finish for the table (which had brought that project to a halt last summer), so I thought I'd just need to touch up it's paint (which was also the paint I intended to use for the hallway) before applying the clear finish.

It didn't work out that way.

The paint I found had a "Home Depot" sticker on it, and I was sure I hadn't shopped there in ages, outside of the desperate trip at 9 months pregnant for shower plumbing. But it was the only possibility. It was the right color. It was still mostly full. So I pried the lid off it (I assumed Hubby had left it outdoors to rust along the edges at some point) and set to work. I did a really great job. I covered up all the smudges, pen marks, finger prints, and just everything. I touched up the table paint so I could put the clear coat on the next day. But as it dried, it didn't look dry. I looked closer, and saw that it was semi-gloss. I was sure the table paint had been satin. And then I turned around and saw a nice, new, mostly-full bucket of Valspar satin finish paint sitting in the pantry. *sigh*

The next day I hauled the table to the porch and put the right color over the wrong color, and then the clear stuff over that. I couldn't drag the hallway to the porch, and it was too cold to vent the house.

So now my hallway is shiny.

As is one section of kitchen wall around the corner.

I'm not so sure I like it, but I'll have to wait until spring to change it. Maybe by then I won't mind as much?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hard Pill to Swallow

I've had a couple questions lately, in real life and via email, about what I think about hormonal contraceptives. While I remain undecided in the larger, grander debate concerning contraception (at all) for married Christians, I DO have a pretty solid opinion on the pill, patch, nuva-ring, things like that - hereafter collectively referred to as The Pill.

Most people have it figured out that I don't like "artificial" things, nor "chemical" things, and certainly I won't put in my body artificial chemicals. But aside from that generality, there are very specific problems with The Pill. We've all heard the commercials that state that "hormonal contraceptives increase your risk of blood clots, heart attack, stroke, and death." Yay, sounds like good stuff to me! I know of two young women (one in her early twenties) who have had strokes due to this stuff. Not good.

A good portion of what makes up The Pill are pseudo-estrogens. Too much estrogen is not a good thing, and I don't mean that as a joke. Living with that added to your body increases other risks, like breast cancer, among others. Ask any breast cancer survivor if they're allowed to touch birth control pills - or even soy (which is evil) for that matter. Estrogen feeds breast cancer cells.

Now they're finding an increase in arterial plaque and heart disease with Pill usage.

Does that give you an idea that I'm not into The Pill? Those are all very important medical and health-related reasons, but they're not the only reasons. Some reasons are aesthetic (at the very least). The 'annoying' side effects of decreased libido and increased weight. One could argue that pregnancy increases weight as well, but c'mon. :)

Beyond health and aesthetics (as though they weren't enough), I'm personally unwilling to take on the moral risks associated with The Pill. Years ago when I looked into it, I'd heard "rumors" of The Pill possibly causing early abortions. I was skeptical, so I asked my ob/gyn about it, who happens to be a good man, religious and with position in his church. I was completely surprised to hear him say, "I don't know." (Was I the first Christian patient to ask that???) However, unlike most other doctors I've dealt with, he didn't stop there. He left the exam room, found some Pills, and took out a 3-foot long information sheet in tiny print to read. Bless his heart, he read and read. There in black and white, put there by it's manufacturer, the last few lines confirmed it. The Pill is designed to prevent pregnancy in 3 ways:
  1. Preventing ovulation by hormonal manipulations
  2. Thickening mucus as to compromise sperm motility
  3. Making the uterine wall inhospitable to a fertilized egg, thereby preventing implantation

That was enough for me. A (healthy) fertilized egg is supposed to be a baby, eventually, and I couldn't justify even the tiniest chance that I could be responsible for that.

That said, I'm confused that the whole "Emergency Birth Control, Plan B, Morning-After Pill" detractors (which of course, I'm one) aren't equally up-in-arms over The Pill - to say nothing of IUDs (intra-uterine-devices). IUDs work ONE way, and that's to kill-off that already-fertilized egg (see line-of-defense #3 for The Pill, above). I know a dear Christian woman who used one for years, and was quite upset when she learned what was happening. She hadn't questioned it, and no doctor bothered to fill her in. I know other Christian girls using them, because they're "too undisciplined" for any other method of birth control. I can only assume they have no idea what they're doing.

So - in case you also were wondering (hm, not likely, eh?), now you can scratch from your list "What does EllaJac think about hormonal contraceptives?"

Sunday, November 18, 2007

No Accountin' Fer Cattle, I Guess...

We woke up the other morning, peered out the second-story window, and witnessed an uninvited visitor to our property. A very tastey-looking large bovine was standing in the middle of our field of dead grass. He was a red hereford, I think. Likely visiting from the North, which of course is the line of neighbors I don't know well (the rear of our properties meet, but it's all field/pasture) and who also aren't listed in the phone book. Every time some daggum interlopers of God's creatures visit, it's from that direction. The one neighbor I knew to call had a busy phone line.

It's not like I'm unwilling to share some grass, really. It's just that, well, the grass in the pasture is long since dead, because we are very lazy poor irrigators. But our lawn is green (automatic sprinklers, of course). And our fences faulty. Our new fancy neighbors have even greener grass, and they have no fences at all. So I loaded 3 kids in carseats and drove around the mile (like around-the-block, but bigger) and started knocking on doors. Mr. Smith (busy-phone-line) wasn't home. Right. Neither was his neighbor, Mr. Johnson. Real names for once, I swear. Mrs. Wright pointed across the street and said the cows belonged to the accountant in that office (that's an office?), and he leases from Smith and Johnson.

I found the accountant, told him my dilemma, and he said he'd drive over and see if it was his cow. Most of his are black, but he had a couple reds (those redheads are always trouble). Sure enough, it was his, and he set about walking through the field to steer the rebellious steer in the right direction. It didn't work, and that middle-aged-ish, desk-type guy had to put it in high gear to chase after his beef. In the meantime, it got some other neighboring cows all riled up, and they were all running along the wrong fence line; the hereford, the other neighbor's angus, and the accountant. (See figger 1)

He finally got it in the general direction of the northern boundary, where he slowed considerably. (See figger 2)



The steer stood with tail held high, rear to the fence, deciding his options. He finally turned and went to the fence. I was nursing the baby by this time and didn't have the camera, but I had the view. The accountant got his second wind, seeing his cow was almost home, and he started waving his arms, jumping, whoopin' and hollerin', and going towards the cow, who finally bullied his way through the barbed wire to his rightful place. The accountant was all done in, I guess, because he didn't even check the fence or shore it up at all. Just turned and drug himself back to his rig.

Part of me wants to feel bad for the guy, having to chase all over tarnation to take care of business, but then again, he should check his fence before he puts trouble-makin' cows in the field. Plus, I hear he has some dogs...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ebay!

Wow, I did it! I have two auctions going on right now at ebay. It was tricky, but not as tricky as that dumb turkey in the header.

If you'd like to see them (and bid - they're cheap!) they're here and here.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Back in Production, Kinda...

Since about the first of November, we've had eggs! I am very excited. I've had a hard time with the thought of buying eggs from a *cough* store. We have still just the 3 hens, as I'm just not able to brood chicks this winter (let alone raise pigs), what with brooding my own little chick. The two "old" hens (turned 1 in late October) quit laying around the time we penned them up again, which was a couple months ago at least. The one surviving pullet we bought was *ahem* supposed to begin production in September. I'm glad so very grateful that *I* won the race to see who could "produce" first! I believe it is she who is laying a nice brown egg nearly every day. They're small, but my recipes for cookies healthy food don't require a lot.

I don't know what the old girls' problem is. I read that they might molt after a year of production, but they only produced about 6 months or so. They stopped laying after the massacre, but only for a day or two, and that was entirely understandable. They laid for a few days after penning them in. Maybe they're mad about their captivity.

I sure am happy for these eggs though. Goldie is producing those nice orange-y yolks that I've become snobbish about accustomed to. So I give thanks!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gobble Gobble

I have the header figured out!

What do you think?

I hope you're impressed, because you don't even want to know how much time I wasted worked on getting it to fit right.

Yes, I took the picture. He might've been last Christmas Dinner. Or he could've been the one (half) responsible for my still-broken counter.

But no, Tom won't be a permanent fixture. I thought he was appropriate for the month. Maybe I'll put a new picture up each month. Maybe not. We'll see.

I'm nothing if not non-committal, you know. Is that a double negative? A triple? In any case, it annoys me when people say something (as though they intend it - maybe they do) and then don't follow through. And because I know you'll be waiting with bated breath on the first of December if I say I will put up a new picture, I want to be clear that I don't know exactly what my life will look like on that day, and there is a possibility that my intention won't come to fruition. I would hate to cause offense.

Now, how many of you hate it when people commit to nothing and have to clarify every statement?

It's All Her Fault...

What is it with chocolate? How did the northern hemisphere survive before merchant ships carried it up here?

I used to only prefer milk chocolate.

But since August, my willpower has been slowly consumed by the darker stuff. I might've mentioned the 72 oz bag of nestle semi-sweet morsels that disappeared in less than 2 weeks. I DID make some cookies with part of it, and I did share a few of those cookies. It's not like I ate them ALL.

Kendra has this lovely site, with great ideas for managing your little ones and your life. I have browsed her "organization" tag and gotten some good ideas. However, please use caution. There are other than "good" ideas lurking there. Some very sinister ideas, actually. I liked her idea of the laundry room changing-station. I didn't even intend to follow her last little suggestion. It's not like a changing station has the most sanitary activities, you know.


But alas...



My laundry room is also my pantry...








And it just happened.

And now it's 60% cacao bittersweet stuff. On sale for $1.50/bag.


"What? She needs changed? Oh, I'll take her. No, it's no problem at all. Really."

I blame her.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

ooOOOooo...

In case you aren't sure, that's pronounced, "ooo-OOO'-ooo..." As in, "wow, isn't THAT amazing?"

Isn't it?

My new look. Well, the look is pretty much the same, but the arrangement of the look is mighty fine.

I tried to add a nice November-ish photo to the header, but the darn thing took up the whole screen, and stretched far off into the netherworld beyond the right side of my cute little parchment paper here. Not very cool. Someday perhaps I"ll figure out how to fix that. Or maybe I'll just put the monstrosity on here for kicks.

Do you like the photo to the left? That's something I'll try to update every day or two... Gotta keep my THREE (yes, we're increasing exponentially around here!) readers coming back, ya know. And another effort at that: Stay tuned for the day in which I manage to restart the computer and thereby enable it to recognize my camera and transfer a pile of pics! At that point, I'll have fodder for some great project posts, evidence of Kendra's bad influence, and proof of a CPA gone wild.

And people think this place is boring...

Friday, November 09, 2007

Quotable

I ran across this quote a while back, attributed to Doug Phillips, founder and head-boss-guy of Vision Forum. I haven't heard/seen him say/write it, but it certainly falls within his belief system, and I think it bears some reflecting on.



The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings. Something is wrong with this picture." ~ Doug Phillips



I have never actually thought of it this way.


Have you?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The 10-20-30 Meme

Does anyone know what "Meme" is? Leave a comment, if you do.

Anyways, I wasn't exactly tagged for this, but Jess of Making Home said I could do this, so I will. I get to tell you what I was doing ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. So here goes... I'll start with the oldest and work my way forward in time.

30 years ago...
Wow... That number looms so large! I was probably kicking my mother and making her generally uncomfortable. She was about 2 months from her (my?) due date, and we already discussed how she dealt with the discomforts of pregnancy...

20 years ago...
Let's see, 1987, I was not quite 10. My parents had been divorced for a good 7 years or so, and I lived with my younger brother, my mom (who was handicapped) and Frank, her short, somewhat balding but funloving boyfriend. Well, he might not have lived there full time that year, but he was around quite a bit. We lived in the house my grandparents bought in 1949. I would have been in fourth grade. As always, I hated school. I also "enjoyed" the gifted/talented education program, but it wasn't fun like Jess's. One day per week (Tuesday, it was), all the G/T kids from the city were bussed to a single school (which actually was the school for handicapped and retarded kids.. hm..). I excelled academically, but had no real friends at school. I was too poor for some, too smart for others, and probably just generally weird. In my heart I loved the Lord like my dad (who was a pastor, but lived 10 hours away and I only saw during summer) and stepmom, but didn't feel like I could express it around my mom or grandmother (yes, the notorious Gi-gi), or the neighbor lady who kindly took my brother and I to a Unitarian church each Sunday. I loved reading, and spending time with our friends who lived across town. I am still close to their entire family to this day.

10 years ago...
1997... I was a junior at a private Christian university, after only a year. I'd spent the last year or so of high school going to college and got a 'head start', if you will. I was studying elementary education, and I remember one professor asking the class what they planned to do with their education. It being a Christian university, about half the class desired to teach at Christian schools, 'who were in need of well-educated teachers.' The other half wanted to 'be a witness in the public school system'. I said, "I want to homeschool my kids." Ha! I'm sure that wasn't a common goal at most $23,000/year (at that time) instutitions. I was crying out to God on a daily basis for ... something. I felt as though I were hollering into an echo chamber. My prayer was usually, "God, here I am, this is the direction I'm going because I don't see you leading anywhere else.. Okay God? Until you change my direction, I guess I'll do this, okay? ... Can you hear me?..." My heart wasn't in college, or education or career. It just wanted a home and family. I disguised that desire with an outward show of "wanting to be a missionary." God hadn't really opened many doors, but I thought that would be a more 'acceptable' desire. Besides, I could have my own mud hut...

Like Jess, I'll just put it out there that if you want, "consider yourself tagged," and do this yourself. Leave a comment so I can read it, if you do!

Post script: God did give me that major change in direction, about 7 months later... Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Does It Get Any Cuter Than This?

*sigh* ... I don't think so.

Well, Duh!

I had one of those moments the other day. Last Thursday Baby and I had our 6-week checkup and weigh-in with the midwife. Five weeks, 6 1/2 days, to be more accurate, but who's counting? Baby was 22 1/2 inches (up from 21" at birth) and tipped the scales at 13 lbs, 1 oz. I wonder if I manufacture cream or something...

Anyways, I was asking the midwife about her thoughts on vaccines and such. She reaffirmed my plan to do a "delayed schedule" of sorts, and I'm not going to worry about it for a year or two or so. I casually mentioned my astonishment when I started looking into them, and especially the routine practice of giving Hepatitis B vaccines to babies at birth. Her return comment was the "well duh!" moment for me, because I'd never linked it in my mind, but it makes perfect sense.

Here's the thing: Newborn's livers/gallbladders are just beginning to work. Hepatitis is a disease of the liver. Vaccines are dead or debilitated viruses that let our bodies manufacture antibodies so in case we get the "real thing," we are ahead of the game. So, introducing a liver-disease virus might affect the liver (especially a newborn's!). When the liver can't do it's job well, what happens? Jaundice! How many babies do you know who had to be wrapped in bilirubin blankets early in life? My girls didn't have that problem, but I know plenty of others who did.

I wonder if they had the Hep B vaccine at birth? I wonder if newborn jaundice could be avoided if we were a little slower to vaccinate them against an STD? I wonder why I never thought of this before?

Monday, November 05, 2007

You're Sorry?

I am right now paying the bills online. Well, I am right now blogging about it, but you know what I mean.

I pay all the bills online, whether at the company site, or through my bank. My phone/internet is one I've paid at the company site, and today I'm not impressed. They've complicated things upgraded their security and I don't have the code for it. Apparently that's not a problem, because I can click "skip!" and go right into my account management. How is that more secure? In any case, their bill-pay is messing up, and instead of processing my payment (as the little window claims, for a moment) and issuing my confirmation code, they ignore my payment, and send me back to the informational page where I can click "skip!" again to manage my account. I did it twice, and called customer service to find out if I'd paid once, twice, or not at all.

While on hold, the recorded voice keeping me company uttered (with deeply regretful tones), "I'm very sorry for your wait..." What? A robot/computer feels emotion? I kind of understand the whole "your call is very important to us" (I don't buy it though), because at least it is speaking for the company or it's people, as opposed to uttering it's own sentiments, like my remorseful, albeit digital, friend.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday, November 02, 2007

Reveal?

I've always purposed to be pretty anonymous on this blog. I don't write about local events or politics, I don't advertise my city or state, and no one knows what I look like (unless you already do, of course). Partly because I know People Eating Tastey Animals would read everything with a "hubby" tag and start following my husband as he drives his work truck (with gun rack - gotta love a red state) around during the day.



That and I'm just paranoid about psychos that might see my children. With that in mind, I'm surprised at the number of other bloggers who happily post darling photos of their kiddos. Now, I'd probably not think twice about it if I had well-trained guard dogs, the property encircled with a 12-foot cement wall, and that topped with electrified razor wire. Is that extreme? I don't, however, have these defensive precautions (yet), but I'm thinking about the possibility of posting photos of my angels (you already know what hubby looks like). No names, of course, which is sad, because they're such great names. Perhaps a happy medium can be found in posting older photos?



In case anyone reads this far, what do you think? If you blog, do you post current family photos? Why/why not?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Super Man

We're not done with this journey, but I've been dying to post a "before and after" post about Hubby's diet. Perhaps it should be "before and during". He's lost in the neighborhood of 50 lbs since last March. He still has 20 or 30 to go, and then maintain that for the rest of his entire life. Which might be tricky, because he loves to eat. It's something he's always been good at. :) And I love to cook and bake (and eat). I'm praying for God to keep us from being idolatrous in our eating. I think it's so easy for us to do.

Anyways, here is a photo of Hubby from October of 2006:




(No, not our house. We keep the un-painted parts outside and only mess up things like expensive countertops)




I know, he's a handsome one, but that's not the point. Compare that with the next one...







(Big Sister's sixth birthday, celebrated September 8th or so. And no, Hubby couldn't have any cake. It was an organic cake mix [I know; sounds like an oxymoron] with wheat in it.)


Now, to be fair, he doesn't always look that gaunt. Maybe it's the lighting. But you can surely see the difference! I casually mentioned to a friend (who hadn't seen him for a long time and didn't even recognize him at first) that he is "half the man he used to be". Really he's still like 5/6 the man he used to be.

But I've had more than one wife say to me, "my husband would NEVER be so disciplined..." He's no saint, mind you. Just yesterday I made him some grand barley-with-egg-substitute pancakes for dinner, and he put PEANUT BUTTER on them! I had another not-quite-submissive moment I'm afraid. "Is that peanut butter? What do you think you're doing??? This is DAY TWO and peanuts are a DAY THREE item! Now I have to remember not to cook with peanut oil tomorrow. If you don't care about the logistics of this diet, why am I making myself crazy over it? It's not like I'm not busy enough, mind you....[blah blah blah blah nag nag nag sigh pray]." I think I'd do better if I could start with the 'pray' part. But really, when you decide you want to live a good, long life (not good and short, like my brother recommends, nor miserable and long, dealing with chronic health issues), you realize you have to start making some serious changes. Having monthly appointments with the naturopath helps with accountability too.

Bottom line; good job Hubby. You might be 5/6 of what you were a year ago, but you're bigger and better in heart and soul. I'm so very, very proud of you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Turkey Cracks

Have you ever priced solid-surface countertops, like Corian and such? Don't. I have, and let me tell you it's not fun. No, I'm not trying to remodel the kitchen, now that we have no savings account. I have more wisdom than that.

But not as much wisdom as I would like, apparently.

I only wanted to make Turkey Soup. Is that too much to ask? I wouldn't think so. I was even carefully determining the days and foods for Hubby, so that said soup would be done on time, would be palatable, and wouldn't make him drop dead, like if a noodle got in.

We had one turkey left from last year. It was probably 45 pounds or so; definitely not a lightweight. It would not fit in the roaster. So I asked Hubby to saw it in half, because I thought half would probably fit. I should not have done that.

Hubby sawed.

The counter broke.

I don't know if it shows up in the picture below, but the break is reminiscent of a windshield ding. It has a center point, and 5 or 6 cracks and breaks radiating out from that point.


(and no, don't buy that brand of honey shown in the picture. Yuck.)

This is my beloved kitchen island. Thankfully, it is a stand-alone island and not the main along-the-wall counter. This island is about 27" wide and 6 1/2 feet long. A solid-surface guy a couple hours from here gave me a "ball park" figure of $600-800 to replace it. [choke, cough, sputter] JUST the countertop. Not installing it. I didn't even buy duct tape last time I had the opportunity because IT was too expensive. Of course, if I wasn't picky about color, they might have some "remnants" for somewhere around $450. Is that all? Walter, I wish we lived about 40 states closer. Maybe then you would be able to hook me up with a nice salvaged slab o' granite for a tenth of that price...

I HOPE to be able to hook up with the original maker of the counter. He is the brother of the guy who built this house, and his business is these counters. Is there such a thing as an "acquaintance-of-the-family discount" on a remnant? I'm not sure it would even be in the budget then. But boy, I SO don't want my kitchen held together with duct tape (or baling wire). Trust me, it's not like my standards are so high that I'm impossible to live with.

But in light of the price of replacing the counter, I might have to re-think the "duct-tape is too expensive" idea. That or try to convince the insurance that we felt that San Francisco quake at just the moment Hubby* was sawing the turkey.

*Just a thought: Can you insure a person? No, not like life-insurance, more like liability...?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Can You Tell I Want This Book?

The authors themselves are giving ten copies of this book away! It looks great. I WILL get one, whether or not I win one (but winning one would get it to me faster, I'm sure).

Here's hoping!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wish List - Round Two!

Life In A Shoe is doing another Vision Forum giveaway drawing! Go check it out and enter (but let me win this time, please?).

Here's what I'd like to win:

So Much More
Family Man, Family Leader
Ten P's in a Pod
A Church in the House
Be Fruitful and Multiply
Raising Maidens of Virtue
Bugle (yep, the bugle)
Building a Family That Will Stand
Passionate Housewives Desperate for God!
and
Entrepreneurial Bootcamp DVD Collection

Here's hoping (praying?)!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Real Evil

Most (both?) of you have probably heard the newsflash a few days ago that J.K. Rowling announced that one of the characters in the Harry Potter books was gay.

I have not read the books.

I have not seen the movies.

I am not convinced that my children will become satanists if they read or watch Harry Potter. I'm not among those Christians who deem it inherently wicked and evil due to it's portrayal of magic and sorcery (remember though, I haven't read it). It certainly never struck me as anything that would edify, however, so I haven't planned to pursue it.

That has all changed.

When I heard the above newsflash, I was horrified. I have piles of problems with political correctness, so-called 'tolerance', and the State replacing parents, but this "out-ing" as it were, really rubbed me the wrong way. How dare they? How dare they produce and market and sell to our children, and then spring this? As I understand it, the character in point is a good, kind wizard. Maybe even a teacher-wizard or something. Did you know this is a stated technique to further social acceptance of this sexual deviancy? Yep, take that which is good, kind, smart, or wonderful in some way, and then (once those traits are recognized and accepted) assign a new label; gay. It's called 'conversion.' It manipulates the mind to associate gay with good. And while I find it annoying to see this method used upon me in the media, at least I am mature enough to recognize and refute it. I find it downright wicked, however, to witness this manipulation aimed so straightforwardly at our children. To me, THAT is the greatest threat I've seen from Harry.

I Just Like This Picture


Looking west from my back step, summer 2006.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Claim to Fame

It's happened again..! I've been noted in the annals of famous blogs. I guess that's a first, really. The last Amazing Thing was when famous bloggers visited AND COMMENTED here. But this time AtoS has shown up in the blogroll of Making Home! If you haven't clicked over there, you should. It's full of tons of Deep Thoughts. And I really admire her; she's young, but really tackles some big issues. I take on big issues, but I don't usually tackle them. Part of me is afraid I'll paint a spiritual target on myself . Like if I say "you raise kids this way" that'll guarantee that mine turn out terribly. But maybe I should address that particular problem of mine in another post...

In any case, I'm quite humbled, again. I'm sure these bloggers have much more better and important things to do than take notice of this silly blog (which most of the time serves solely as a journal of events for me). It gives me a feeling akin to what you see in movies when some lady brings her hand to her chest and gasps out, "Who, me? Why, thank you!" And I'm really so not like that.

In any case, Jess, if you ever happen to click this way and see this, you may discount the vote on your Christians Talking Sex poll that states "it's worldly and shouldn't be discussed" - I was so excited to see my blog on your list that I sent a link to my brother, who promptly wanted to skew your results...

Monday, October 22, 2007

SCHIP

I know, this is old news. It isn't happening (right now, at least). But I recently emailed my congressman, who tried to override the President's veto of this. That annoyed me. Why? Wouldn't we qualify under their new (or current!) standards for this children's health insurance plan? Sure we would. But I prefer freedom.

Let me explain... The idea of this Children's Health Insurance stuff is to provide the 'working poor' (families of four with an annual income of $60-some thousand [proposed] or less). How will this be paid? Taxes of course. And who pays taxes? Well, families with incomes of 60-some thousand, for starters! So basically they'll insure our kids if we pay for it. Oh, but we can't shop around, or choose not to buy it at all. And we all know what happens to prices and services when the government starts footing the bill... (anyone been to the DMV lately?). So ultimately they just want to take away my choice in the matter. And THAT really annoys me.

Here is what I wrote to my congressman:

I'm writing to express my disappointment with your vote to override the president's veto of this bill. The bottom line for me is that it would take away my choice... Instead of having the choice of insurance (or to choose to forego it), that choice is made for me, and then I AM TAXED to pay for it. How is that of any benefit? One month ago I gave birth at home with a midwife, and I don't have insurance. Were I paying for it (thru taxes or otherwise), I wouldn't have been able to use it. I and the baby were treated with all sorts of non-traditional things, from the herbs to help heal my tear, to the ointment for her belly button. These wouldn't have been covered by insurance, and I would have been paying twice for them. The other option is that Mother Government would be watching over my shoulder and approving or disapproving and overseeing every little thing, and that would be horrendously stupid (and take away even more choices). By the way, while my first two children were born at the hospital with great outcomes, this was the best birthing experience I've had. Had we been taxed extra to pay for insurance we wouldn't use, I might not have been able to afford this option. Please consider this next time you have a chance to represent us.

I know, this is more about *me* than my children, but the same principle applies.


One other related annoyance: Don't you just love how these dummies universal-healthcare-advocates throw around phrases like, "forty-million American children are denied healthcare." I'm sorry, isn't there some sort of rule or law that hospitals follow that states that no one will be denied healthcare due to race, religion, blah blah blah, or inability to pay...? I'm pretty sure that's been posted on the wall (in several languages, even) in every hospital room I've been in. So let's just stop with the whole "children-are-denied-healthcare" argument, shall we? What they mean is those "who don't have someone else to pay for their medical bills." We can't forget those "who don't have someone else to pay for their electric bills" or those "who don't have someone else to pay for their satellite or cell phone bills." Aren't those rights too? Though my cell company doesn't post that no one will be denied airtime due to inability to pay...!


What do you think?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What About Socialization?

I did NOT write this post. I'm absolutely plagiarizing and stealing this entire thing from a blog I ran across. It's excellent.


This is one of the first questions people ask about homeschooling, and I'll be honest enough to admit it was one of my major concerns. The question can have many meanings.

How will your child learn to stand in line, raise his hand before speaking, take turns, etc.?


My child will learn any skills useful for living as we spend our days together.

I don't raise my hand before speaking in the course of daily life, and I don't consider it a useful skill. So while my children may never perfect the art of waving their hands around shouting "me, me - pick me," they will know how to let others finish before speaking, greet others politely, etc. They will learn those skills by watching me and having me there to coach them in their day to day interactions.


As for standing in line, we do it weekly at the grocery store. The problem my kids have when in line with other children is that they don't run, push and shove to get in the front. They usually end up at the back, perfectly content, assuming every one will get a turn. I'm usually the one standing there fighting the urge to say, "hurry, hurry - get up front" or "don't let him cut in front of you." :)


How will your child learn to handle bullies?

I don't think children who are bullied learn to handle bullies. I think children who are bullied learn to tolerate being bullied. And those who can't tolerate it suffer terribly, sometimes hurting themselves or others (as we saw in the Columbine killings).

Further, I don't think learning to handle bullies is a useful skill. I have not had a group of girls threaten to beat me up since high school. I have not been in a physical altercation (I was in at least 4 and even won a couple, thankyouverymuch) since high school. I have not been groped or sexually harassed since - you guessed it - high school.


As an adult I have to deal with difficult people, but if I find someone extremely unpleasant, I can choose not to be around him or her. Not once have I been forced to endure daily taunting, ridicule or physical assault or interact with those who would engage in such behavior. And the bullying I encountered in school did not teach me appropriate ways to handle difficult people. It taught me to be hard hearted and quick tempered, and to always walk around with a slightly mean look on my face.

How will your child learn to be around people that are different than he is?



Public school students spend their days in a room with thirty or so children who are their same age, socioeconomic status and, more often than not, race. These children quickly learn that older kids do not play with younger kids, girls don't play with boys, rich kids don't play with kids who shop at Target, skinny kids don't play with fat kids, and so on.

These children also learn to adjust their mannerisms and behaviors to mimic those of their classmates, and to torment those who don't fall in line. School does not teach children to appreciate diversity. It teaches conformity and pecking order.


As an adult I do not sit in a room full of other thirty year olds, taunting the person next to me because she has a big nose and wears glasses. I don't want my children on the giving or receiving end of that unsocial behavior.


In the course of a week, my oldest may visit my grandma and her roommate in the nursing home, chat with a grocery store clerk or librarian, practice flag football with his age mates and entertain his younger sister and a friend. We go on outings and read stories from other cultures as well as those from our own culture. This is how he learns to appreciate diversity.


How will your child make friends/learn to be a good friend?

This is an area where I still doubt myself at times. And every time the Lord brings me back to the truth, most recently in the form of a book which is not even about homeschooling, called Hold On to Your Kids. It is a difficult read, but worth it if you can get past the pyschobabble and faulty discipline advice. Chapters 14, 15 and 17 are especially worth reading.


The premise of Hold On to Your Kids is that early peer relationships are HARMFUL to children and are the cause of disrespect, rebellion, bullying, victimization and many other undesirable behaviors. The authors, Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate, contend that children do not need to build relationships with other children, they need relationships with loving adults.


The book confirmed everything my aunt and Elizabeth from Raising Godly Tomatoes have been teaching me about sheltering and the dangers of peer orientation. Since my family cut back on play dates and age-segregated activities, my oldest is more confident, content and creative, and much better behaved.How will your child learn good social skills?

I've rambled on enough, so I leave you with this quote from Dr. Raymond Moore:"So how would you feel if local laws required that you bring your pup to the bus stop each day to join other dogs in a yellow cage that wheels down the road to the kennel or pound for socializing exercises? You know for sure that association with the pack is the fastest way to destroy any obedience training *you* have planned.Does anyone who knows children believe that the yellow school bus takes children down the road to a constructive, positive sense of society? Or returns them in the afternoon or evening more loving creatures than when they left in the morning?"-Dr. Raymond Moore, The Successful Homeschool Family Handbook