Friday, May 30, 2008

Some Justice

I'm sure you've heard; I'm just a little behind on chores around here...

Supreme Court of Texas ruled in support of the Third Court's ruling - effectively allowing the reunification of some families! It's expected to have strong implications for the remaining families as well. The state did NOT have the right to remove every child, lock, stock, and barrel.

Judge Walther still has some power in the details here: The FLDS may be required to stay in Texas, or even a certain part of Texas. The men may be removed from the compound, the teen girls may be kept in custody, things of that nature. We'll have to see how it goes.

Common Room has good links.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eight Years...

...and counting.

Today is Hubby's and my 8th wedding anniversary. I know this because it's 2008. So handy to be married in 2000.

I wouldn't label any of the following as commemorative, or celebrating our day, but they are indeed events unique to today...

  • Our goose arrived. He was due next week, with the chicks, but for some reason he came early, solo. He's in the garage in a garden cart.
  • I voted in our primary election.
  • Our mama cat, after being chased away from the gosling, disappeared for a moment and returned with a garter snake which she proceeded to eat on the welcome mat on the porch. Ewww...
  • Little Artist dropped her smoothie cup... and smoothie globs managed to make a path across 12 feet of dining room floor.
  • Later, when I briefly exited the room, things got out of hand and more smoothie made it onto the floor, into Little Artist's hair, on her clothes, her face, up the wall, and onto an electrical outlet. During the same time frame, approximately two cups of dirt from Hubby's prized pine tree pot ended up tossed into a corner to "scare a spider" that was residing there, and a kid's dining chair was placed on the dining room table - apparently to entertain Organique.
  • Big Sister spent considerable time undoing many of her above actions.

Due to my gardening efforts, homemaking and organizing have suffered, and I don't even have a menu plan for the week. Which equals having NO idea what to make for our evening's anniversary dinner, and it's nearly 4:00! Yikes! What I wouldn't give for some nice, safe, ground beef. We ran out of ground beef some months ago. THAT would be an anniversary gift, huh? I'm afraid I don't trust the critters in this neighborhood (or, trust their upbringing, as it were) though.

Don't worry for us though: Saturday evening we and Organique were able to go off for a nice dinner out, followed up with a "working date" - shopping for shoes for the kids and Hubby, and looking at barbecue grills we can't afford to buy (or operate!). I'm voting for a fire pit.

Happy Anniversary to us!

Monday, May 26, 2008

Feminists and FLDS

or, "Brainwashing, Part 2"

I've been pondering some of my points from the earlier, Brainwashing post, specifically how either side of an issue can become 'brainwashing' to someone, especially when it's one of those ideas the opposite side just can't wrap their minds around.

Women are central figures in the FLDS fiasco. We have the mothers trying to get their children back (and fewer men in the limelight). We have the "abused" teen girls, pregnant or otherwise. We have Angie Voss, CPS investigatoress, and Judgess Barbara Walter. All women. But these women represent two very different sides of 'women's choices' today. The FLDS women, provided they choose this life (and most of them say they do), are living far differently than Voss or Judge Walther. The FLDS may have attended some college, but are living 'at home,' caring for their homes and children. Voss and Judge Walther attended many years of college, and at least in the judge's case, many years of grad/law school. This was followed by years devoted to their careers. I don't know either woman's age or family status, but certainly if they did/do have husbands or children, most of their waking hours were devoted to their education/jobs. I don't want to speak of the right- or wrong-ness of this choice, just that they have chosen to spend considerable time away from their families, if they do have families.

Most would ascribe this to feminism, that for women to even have the choice to pursue something other than diapers and dishes, we should thank feminism, or, the Feminist Movement.

But, as in all cases, nothing is truly unbiased. Fingers are pointing at feminism more and more, because while "Choice!" is it's mantra, some choices are less tolerated.

Back to the brainwashing idea... Angie Voss, in the company of 700 armed SWAT/snipers/armored vehicles/helicopters looked around the YFZ ranch, and while the imaginary Sarah was not to be found, she indeed "saw" something just as bad. Young women, pregnant and/or mothering children. *Her* washed brain knew that this was abuse. Why? Because to her, women would never freely choose such a life. Certainly there were other contributing factors (polygamy among some, old-fashioned dresses, hardworking lifestyle), but, this couldn't be choice. Feminism didn't do all this hard work for women to choose what would've been forced on them a century ago!

Maybe it went deeper. Maybe Ms. Voss has her 1.8 children in daycare and suffers guilt. Maybe she feels worse when she sees women making different choices than she, and certainly mothers shouldn't choose this because daycare and preschool are important for kids' early educational opportunities... right? And no one else should choose what she herself didn't. Maybe (again, this is ALL speculation) she bought in to Feminism even more, and never tried to balance family and career... Perhaps career was not just the primary focus, but the only one. Perhaps she has no children or family at all, and when you're starving, it hurts to see others enjoying a buffet you can't have. And some primal part of you wants to overturn that buffet table so no one else can have it either.

Why can't stay-at-home-wife-and-motherhood be a legitimate choice? Is it the (purported) younger-than-statistical ages at which these women are making the choice? How many things do we need to experience before knowing what we want? For the sake of argument, let's say these young mothers (for the record, I'm thinking in the late-teens, early-twenties ages) are better-prepared for the role than most in our society today. Let's say they're experienced homemakers and understand and embrace the gravity and sanctity of motherhood as well or better than most. Why would their choice equal abuse or brainwashing?

If these same girls showed better-than-average ability and desire to say, attend a liberal university and major in sexual psychology (is that a major?) at that age, would feminism approve? Would they be applauded for their advanced intellect and determination and heralded for their courage to pursue such a controversial degree? I'm guessing they would be. "It's so great that, even at 16, you've graduated from high school and know what you want to do in life."

It could be argued, I suppose, that declaring a major doesn't require the same amount of commitment as raising children.

But then again, with all it's "choice!" feminism allows us so very many ways to reduce the commitment of childbearing. We can start with birth control, or abortion if that doesn't work, then there's daycare and preschool and institutionalized education and then college... I daresay some are more committed to their major after all.

Feminism needs to start recognizing that some of us choose what they have so despised. Then it can either rejoice that the playing-field of choices is so diverse, or it can admit that it's not very pro-choice after all, and continue in it's path.

Either one works for me, and I bet either one would've been welcome by the FLDS mothers.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I've been thinking about the term 'brainwashing,' as it's been tossed around so much lately regarding the FLDS women.

What exactly is brainwashing?

According to the American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition:
Indoctrination that forces people to abandon their beliefs in favor of another set of beliefs. Usually associated with military and political interrogation and religious conversion, brainwashing attempts, through prolonged stress, to break down an individual's physical and mental defenses. Brainwashing techniques range from vocal persuasion and threats to punishment, physical deprivation, mind-altering drugs, and severe physical torture.

That sounds pretty intense, doesn't it? Something that strikes me is the emboldened phrase above. Most of the definitions included this idea, and it makes me wonder if we could call any FLDS women 'brainwashed' unless they were converted to FLDS via force. If you grow up with a set of beliefs, calling them your own from a young age, by definition you are not brainwashed (even if your beliefs are wildly bizarre).

But if we take the word and apply it the way it's been used - FLDS women are obviously 'brainwashed' because they (many of them) share a husband, have many children, call Warren Jeffs their prophet, wear old-school dresses, etc - we can end up in all sorts of weird places...

If someone becomes willing to die for their faith, are they brainwashed? We might like to think so when it comes to suicide bombers, but it doesn't feel the same way when we think of the faithful Christian missionary. If we hold to any tenet of faith against unlikely odds, are we brainwashed? Is brainwashing evidenced by anything that isn't mainstream? Where do we draw the line? We say they're brainwashed because they seem to really believe in polygamy, and we all know that's crazy. Who would choose that of their own volition? But wait... Abraham and Jacob and King David and Solomon all practiced it, and while we don't know their wives' feelings about it, what if they looked at us and said, "what is UP with these American women? Why do they insist on limiting their husbands to one wife? Can't they use the help? Wouldn't they like to share some of that mothering-responsibility and run an errand alone occasionally? They don't HAVE to be complaining that 'all the good ones are taken.' Who would choose that?"

Are we brainwashed when we really believe that children are a blessing?

Or are we brainwashed when we think they're expensive burdens, to be enjoyed in moderation (or not at all, if we want to be really responsible)?

Are we brainwashed to believe sex is best delayed until marriage?

Or when we think we need to 'experience' things when we're young and uncommited?

Do you see how dicey this can get? Just because we can't wrap our minds around something (because it's so foreign) doesn't automatically mean those who practice it are under duress. *I* can't imagine a woman choosing (of her own volition) to put her baby in daycare for something as temporal as a career. I can't wrap my mind around it. But maybe she feels the same way about me. We can't both be right, right? Mustn't one of us be 'brainwashed' to feel so strongly about it?

I don't want to be misunderstood: I don't think polygamy is a good idea. You know, "the two shall become one?" (I dunno; maybe that's 'two-at-a-time'?) But I also don't think we should be tossing around strong terms (like 'brainwashing') just because others' convictions are so very foreign to us.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Did You Hear?

I'm sure you did.

But I just want to write it here anyway, and offer my own "yay!" to the cyberspace.

An Appeals Court ruled that CPS and the state were NOT justified in the removal of the FLDS children from the YFZ Ranch.

Some fun quotes:

state failed to show the youngsters were in any immediate danger
state was not justified in sweeping up all the children and taking them away
state failed to show that any more than five of the teenage girls were being sexually abused
state was wrong to consider the entire ranch as a single household

Now, this is far from over, and doesn't even include every parent, but it's a HUGE step in the right direction. The state might well appeal the appeal, and I DO expect the actual FLDS lawbreakers to be investigated (probably not the CPS lawbreakers, though).

From The Common Room, quoting from the court's ruling:
The Department conceded at the hearing that teenage pregnancy, by itself, is not a reason to remove children from their home and parents, but took the position that immediate removal was necessary in this case because 'there is a mindset that even the young girls report that they will marry at whatever age, and that it’s the highest blessing they can have to have children.'" [it was, indeed, ALL about a belief system that gave feminist CPS agents and Judge Walthers the vapors]

So there.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Modesty Boundaries

I've been thinking off-and-on about modesty, and the many implications of it. My thoughts have centered around the seeming paradox of being modest 'for the public,' while striving to be attractive and sensual for my husband.

This is further complicated by having children at home for whom I'm trying to be a godly example. Please don't misunderstand; affection and attraction for Hubby is a godly example to them, but obviously there are aspects of that which are private. :)

I've run across an excellent post at Pursuing Titus 2 that uses the analogy of the "walled garden" in Song of Solomon to illustrate the point. Stonmasonry (modesty) and gardening (private immodesty) are both important aspects, and we miss it if we are only stonemasons (very modest, but nothing enticing even in private) or only gardeners (always immodest, alluring to any/everyone). The post also offers an idea for managing it with the 'children in the home' aspect. I am glad to read of this (and if anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them) because I have several clothing items that Hubby doesn't want me to be rid of, but that I'm not (any longer) wearing in view of the general public or even our girls.

The comments were interesting as well, one in particular. A woman mentioned that her husband enjoys it when she dresses immodestly when they are out together, that he likes it when "other men are interested in what he has." The author's response was very considerate, but pointed out that it sounded like the husband might be enjoying other men's breaking of the tenth commandment. She also suggested a way to gently broach the idea to her husband, since the commenter wasn't sure how she felt about this.

I don't want to get into what might be the issue with the husband here, but focus more on what we, as wives, are doing. Are we (and by "we," I mean "I") keeping our husbands completely satisfied in intimacy (including dressing in a way that pleases his eyes privately)? Does his heart "safely trust" in us? Are we doing our part to ensure his confidence? Can he look around a room of men and know he is honored and respected as much or more than anyone present? I think that would go far in building security and trust that doesn't need to be boosted by any other man's covetousness.

What do you think?

Monday, May 19, 2008

Spring Trials

Four years ago was our first spring here. I was quite pregnant with Li'l Artista by then, and with that year's tax return there were two big items to be bought: A dishwasher and a rototiller. I'm still lovin' the dishwasher. God bless Kenmore and Consumer Reports.

I'm thinking Craftsman comes from the "other" place. The place of fire and brimstone, and eternal suffering for those who rely on such machinery. Yes, I'm talking about China.

That rototiller, when it works, works fine.

However, that's not typical. Last year Hubby had to re-do the transmission/gearbox thingy. WHAT a mess. This year, it worked briefly early in the season, then last week had water in the gas and subsequent problems. That might have been more of an Offspring issue than a Craftsman one.

Hubby took to the garden plot at about dark last night (the poor man's been working 6 days until 9 or 10 at night, and even had to do a job Sunday morning for a few hours), and after a row and a half, something broke inside and the wheels stopped turning. The tines, of course, kept their pace in a reverse direction, but that would not be handy.

He spent a several hours tearing it apart to find a chain broken.

My call to the Sears parts and service department yielded a modest price quote but up to a week before we have it. A week is not handy, either. Not when my little pots are already suffering in their cramped pots on the porch. Not handy at all.

So, as soon as Organique awakes, we will set out to find a Retailer of Various Types and Styles of Chain from which to buy a length and hope Hubby can rig it up tonight. That, or I will have to buy me a mule and a plow.

Which might not be a bad plan. I bet if the mule breaks, I could eat it, or feed other edible livestock, or something.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Last Frost Date

I think this happens every year... I spend a lot of time planning for the garden projects, and nice days working on some of the logistical things, always keeping in the back of my mind that "I can't really plant anything yet..." And then I wake up and realize we're past the middle mark of May and that my mindset is still stuck in "pre-last-frost-date" mode. And then I wear myself out trying to get the garden in while the house goes to pot. This year is shaping up to be the same. :)

I went to the little Mennonite greenhouse down the way today and bought 36 strawberry plants. I've never done them, because I always think next year the garden will be elsewhere, and I want to wait until I have things a little more permanent. Well, the fence (where the garden has always been) has given me that sense of permanence, if not the change of venue, so I bought them. I also got 4 little cherry tomato plants that Hubby requested. And a 'chocolate' green pepper (or brown pepper) that THIS YEAR hopefully won't turn out to be a jalapeno. The girls each picked out some sort of pansy, which they are now afraid to plant for fear of chickens. Hubby really needs to get that last side on the garden fence. Of course, he might need to return home before 9 p.m. to accomplish that, or, you know, stay home on Saturday, but that's not in the foreseeable future. *sigh*

I planted a few pots each of gourds, buttercup squash, crookneck squash, and pumpkin the other day. That pretty much ensures that I won't be saving any seeds for planting next year, unless we want to do an experiment with freaky cross-polinated squash. Which we might.

Well, 90% of today's chores are un-done, and the half-turkey (yes, the other half responsible for the countertop debacle) is taking forever to really cook down into soup. The wife of one of Hubby's coworkers is expecting their fourth (their oldest is three!) and is having a hard pregnancy. I'd like to finish the soup overnight and send Hubby to work with a bunch for them. No bread today, though. :(

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

A Glimmer

Of hope, for my tortured soul.

Ok, maybe that's a little exaggerated, but not much.

A Texas judge barred the state from removing Joseph Jessop Jr. from his mother when he turns one on Thursday. His mother has been living in a shelter in San Antonio and caring for and nursing him at a children's shelter during the day.
The couple is legally married, monogamous and, as certified EMTs, lived separately from the other residents in a medical/community building at the Eldorado ranch. They produced documents identifying themselves and their children at the time of the raid.

Of course, those couldn't be trusted.

And it's about time:
Judge Michael Peden also ordered the state to disclose the location of the couple's older two children, ordered that the parents be allowed daily supervised visits with them, and set a full hearing on whether the state has the right to keep the children at all on May 23.
Yeah, you read that right. The state wouldn't even tell them where their older children were. Oh, and older looks to be about 3 and 5 or so (but that's just my eyeball test).

Future Food Update

Saturday May 10: Hubby extracted the pickup and come-along from the problem corner post. He completed another side fence, and we now only have one open end to enclose, and a latch to build for my gate! He also mowed the garden area. Does this give you any idea of where we are with the whole garden plan?

Mother's Day: Hubby fixed the rototiller (again) and tilled a patch for my potatoes. I planted 10 lbs of organic red potatoes I got from my mom in Washington. No, she didn't buy seed potatoes for me, but while helping her rearrange and organize her new kitchen, I found 2 bags of them 'growing' in her pantry. No sprout inhibitor garbage here! Hoping they'll continue the sprouting in the garden.

Monday May 12: Too windy for outdoor work. Ordered the following critters:

  1. Grown Layers: 2 Araucana, 1 Brown Leghorn.

  2. Pullets: 2 each of Brown Leghorn, Black Australorp, Black Sex Link, Light Brahma, Buff Orpington, and Golden Laced Wyandotte.

  3. Cockerels: 6, 9, or 12 of the same breeds (minus Black Sex Link). Why roosters? Hopefully they'll be less suicidal than the cornish cross, and we'll plan on eating most of them. Too, we can determine which are actually nice to have around (I've heard good things about the Buffs, Brahmas, and Australorps) and keep a few. The Brahmas get huge (we like that), and have cute feathered feet. The Brown Leghorns look so beautiful - we'll see if they truly are. They lay white eggs though. The aracaunas lay colored eggs, and the girls will love that. Li'l Artista's Black Link chicken that we got last year (Rosie) died a horrible death, being eaten THROUGH the electrified poultry netting... leaving a pair of wings on the inside. :( The Wyandottes look exotic, and we thought we'd try them out.

  4. We also ordered six bronze turkeys and

  5. A random goose. Why a random goose? Because they're a dollar cheaper if you let the hatchery choose. Don't ask me why. If it hisses and chases me, I'll eat it. I might eat it anyway.

  6. I have four guineas reserved from a local guy that is incubating some eggs.
Tuesday May 13: Ordered a handful of seeds from Baker Creek. Purple onions, carrots, and some beans.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just Imagine..

You're a young mom with 2 little kids, expecting your third. You and your husband live in your own house near family and friends.

Life is good, right?

But someone with an agenda against your neighborhood makes a (probably false) allegation, and you lose your children in one afternoon.

You claim to be innocent of any abuse.

Your children seem healthy and happy.

There is no evidence of abuse.

No charges are brought against you.

Yet because of your neighborhood and friendships, you are suspect.

What's more, you claim to be 22, and have appropriate government-issued and -certified ID to prove it, but it is scoffed at. You look young. Young enough to be detained yourself at least until you give birth, so that newborn can be assigned to state custody as well.

Is this a nightmare? I can only imagine. But it's one Louisa Jessop is living. She and her husband have filed some legal paperwork and the state has now agreed to reassess the documentation that was earlier provided regarding her age.

And, because of a chicken pox exposure in the horrific conditions the state provided to her early in her detainment, she can enjoy her post-partum recovery on an air mattress on the floor of a stranger's home.

All evidence points to the fact that this woman is an adult, married monogamously, with healthy cared-for children. She was an adult when she got married and bore these children. So what is really going on here? What law did she break so as to be denied her family? None. No law that we know of. Not even any laws written up just to target these people.

Land of the free? I'm starting to wonder.

And if it wasn't so wrong it would be funny: the article makes mention of CPS' problems getting accurate age information from some of the women. A commenter on another blog summed it up well:

part of what is going on here is that the State made it clear that only girls aged 17 and under would be allowed to stay with their children.

What then would you expect a 22 year old who could easily pass for 17 to
do? She lied to stay with her kids, of course.

Now, when she comes back and says, "i'm not really 17, i'm 22 and here's my driver's license to prove it," the State claims she's giving contradictory information regarding her age.

it's so perverse -- the State is putting these women into a position where they have to lie to stay with their kids, and then using the lie as justification for keeping their kids.

Who's next?


Big Sister and I were enjoying the antics and smiles of Organique the other day.

She asked, "Mama, is [Organique] cuter than Baby Jesus?"


"Umm... I don't know. She's pretty cute.."

Guess I'm just not sure how to answer that one. Do I blaspheme if I imply Baby Jesus was less to look at than our girl? Maybe he wasn't so cute, and I'd hate to lie.

Thankfully I don't know, so I told her so. :)

Monday, May 12, 2008

Brainwashed Stepford Wife?

Here's a letter to the editor from a FLDS mother.

Does she match the mainstream portrayal you've heard?

Post-Partum Help

Seems like every blog I read these days has either just announced a birth (like Jess, and Kendra) or are in the throes of pregnancy (like MamaJ and KimC). I keep *almost* writing about this in various comments sections, but always erase it. I don't want to come across as trying to 'fix' anyone or offer unsolicited advice. However, having done the whole pregnancy-birth-post-partum thing three times (ahem, it should be noted that most of the above mamas have done so more than that) I have noticed something I *so* wish I'd have known earlier.

My first two pregnancies and related-experiences were quite similar. Nothing terrible, no real complaints. However, the post-partum time was a real challenge. For both 'five-day checkup' appointments, it only took undressing the baby for the weight check to dissolve myself in tears. Let's not even TALK about the PKU test where the idiot nurse tried to squeeze and squeeze blood from baby's heel that was elevated while my tiny newborn screamed and screamed. Even making that first drive with the baby, facing the world, was almost too much. A sense of overwhelm, like the world was big and complicated and harsh and scary and NOT the place I wanted to be. I felt very vulnerable, and not up to the task of protecting and caretaking my baby from it. The feeling wasn't alleviated by being at home, but was lessened considerably. Even so, family dynamics, dirty dishes, and just motherhood responsibilities brought on the tears and feelings of despair.

On the edge of their seat, my babies' pediatrician offered antidepressants, samples or prescriptions, I shouldn't feel badly for needing 'something' etc. Through my sobs I'd gesture and say, "No, no, I'm fine... really." I lean towards the uneducated opinion that everyone is depressed sometimes, and I'd deal with it. They'd press, and I'd maintain that things would be fine [after getting away from bright lights and sharp objects].

While this last time was different in so many ways, I feel confident that one thing in particular helped with the emotional roller-coaster ride. On the list of birthing supplies my midwife included St. John's Wort. When I asked about it, she said it was for the 'baby blues' and I thought, heck, yeah, sign me up. It wasn't the dollar-store capsule of herb, but Golden Lotus Botanicals brand, and comes in a liquid form, with a nice little dropper. The one-ounce bottle from my midwife was about $11, and well worth it. I was instructed to take about half-a-dropper full several times a day, unless my afterpains got bad, in which case I could take it as often as every 20 minutes. Let me tell you, for a day or two there every twenty minutes was NOT often enough. It's not exactly a painkiller.

When my pains weren't reminding me to take it, I would sometimes forget. After a blubbering meltdown of despair towards my husband, I would shuffle into the bathroom for another roll of toilet paper, and one quiet rational thought would enter my brain... I forgot to take my St. John's Wort all day. Wonder if that's what my problem is? Mind you, that didn't lessen the reality of how I felt or the way I saw things, but the thought was there. This happened often enough that even I couldn't deny that there was a definite link. And not one that I was 'looking for' by any means. It was usually only after falling apart that I thought to ask myself about the herb. And every time the answer was the same.

I kept one bottle in the diaper bag for overwhelming situations. :) My first trip to Costco with 3 in tow (and before getting every joint straightened out so I was still in a lot of bodily pain) had me searching and searching for something (probably chocolate chips?). It was not where it had been, and I finally asked someone, who's sharp response informed me that the item I sought was waaaaaay back down the way I had come. Now, her response was probably said hurriedly, not sharply, but it was one of those 'harsh world' events that were so hard to face. I gave myself a dose and tried hard not to let the tears fall. I don't remember whether or not I went back to get the item, but I remember being grateful for the St. John's Wort on hand.

I should say that it's not 'drug-like'. I don't 'feel' anything when I take it, or notice anything physically different when I don't. I still have emotions and days that are better and worse than others. My midwife assures me that I won't become a junkie (and since I've taken to ordering it in bulk from the above link, she's not making any money off my use of it). I still take it once or twice a day, but I don't carry it around with me. It stays at my bedside for morning (and sometimes evening) use.

Would it work this well for you? I don't know. I know it has been one element among many that has helped to change my mind and heart about this life God has given me, and I'm grateful for it. I have worried sometimes that it's unfair. That I'm using some thing (natural or not) to do some of the work that should be mine. Be transformed by the renewing of your mind... overcoming... taking every thought captive... But God is not limited by use of medicine or herbs, and so long as it is not a crutch, or idol, I am sure now that wise use is not spiritually cheating. :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008


I did it! I made sourdough starter. Inasmuch as you make it, of course. It kindof makes itself, which is handy.

Sourdough is 'wild' yeast, caught and kept in a flour-batter mix. Used in place of yeast to leaven things. Pancakes can be tastey too.

I followed some directions which said to put 1 c. of whole wheat flour and 1 c. of water (filtered) into a glass container, cover with a dishtowel, and set in a dark corner. The instructions also called for the addition of 1 c. flour and 1 c. water each day for a week before it would be useable.

After five days I wasn't impressed. A neighbor showed me her starter, and how she made it, so I changed things up a bit.

I ignored it for 2 or 3 days.

Lo and behold! the nice bubbles and beer-ish smell were finally there! After that third day, I 'fed' it again (the flour and water) and also added a teeny bit of honey. Yeast loves sweets, after all.

I used it to make some bread, again following a recipe, but am going to have to change it. It rose wonderfully (but FAR slower than with yeast), but the rising time was too much. By the time I checked it, it had risen (the second time) and fallen. I baked it anyway, but again, bake time was too much, and I have some DARN CRISPY sourdough bread. The flavor is good though! To me, anyway. The girls aren't too thrilled about it.

Now, to make some big sourdough bread-bowls for soup or chili! mmMMMmm!

Also, my pet SCOBY is just starting... after a week.

Friday, May 09, 2008

A New Hobby

Hubby and I have been enjoying (sometimes - weather permitting) a new pasttime!

You might not believe it, but we've been learning the Art of Fencing.

We mostly have no idea what we're doing, but it's good exercise, anyway.

Hubby is much better than I, but he doesn't have the added complication of a nursing-mother's figure.

And so far I'm the only one to attempt it with Organique in the Ergo on my back!


Fencing might not be the best thing to do with an infant on board? Well, the added weight really gets my heartrate up and works my thigh muscles (and let me tell you, they need worked!) with all the bending and lunging and crouching and all.


Take a look:

Now, it's not entirely done yet. Still more fencing to do. But Hubby's hyperactive mutt dear dog must be kept out of my garden. Must. Plus, we ran out of fence and are using cattle panels (leftover from the pig pen last year) to make up the difference. And, while the telephone poles Hubby snatched from old work sites make awesome corners (lest you think we have no class at all, I assure you he cut them shorter), the disconnected fence started pulling one corner post up... So the pickup and a come-along are holding it fast.

Not sure if Hubby plans to let me use his pickup as a post all season or not...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Not Fair

I love bees. They make honey, and via pollination, make most of our food. Well, much, anyway.

I don't love yellow jackets.

I don't even like them.

They're a kind of evil, I think.

I don't even remember half my wedding ceremony because I was so distracted by ... something crawling around in the sleeve of my dress.

I thought it was a ladybug.

It wasn't.

It only stung me a little bit, after the guests got to wonder what the five minutes of gently waving my left arm around were all about. When I hollered and jumped back and let the miserable creature fly out of the bodice things began to look up.

On Monday, for her birthday, I took our Li'l Artista and her sisters for a picnic. As I stepped out the front door to put the picnic box (didn't have a basket) and quilt in the car, something buzzed past my ear and straight down my blouse. It managed to fly under my blouse and my tank top and lodge itself between... well, anyway, it stung me once, but well. After I hollered and dropped everything and gently began rolling my garments inside out while standing on the front porch (grateful for country living and distant neighbors, just then), it eventually made it's way out.

And I hurriedly ran back indoors, hurting more and more and wracking my brain for the proper treatment for such a thing. I rummaged for an antihistamine spray, but couldn't find it. Vinegar? I grabbed a papertowel and wet it with some vinegar and tucked it where it was needed. The cool dampness helped, and my brainpower returned. I checked my Home Remedy book. Oops, not vinegar. Baking soda. Geez. I traded the vinegar for baking soda (no volcanos) and rummaged again for the antihistamine spray.

Would such a spray be okay for a nursing mother?

Would such a spray be okay for the, uh, nursing elements of a mother?

For that matter, would Organique be poisoned if I nursed her???

Good heavens.

I found a spray. Not sure what it was, as my middle child was still Little Monkey when I bought it, and tore the cellophane label entirely off. I used it. How's that for responsible motherhood? I later made a call to my naturopath/midwife who suggested Tea Tree Oil or Lavendar Oil for pain.

That was 2 days ago. And it's mostly done hurting, but oh, it itches.

What's the allotted number of times a yellow jacket may make its way to the inside of your clothing on special days? I'm pretty sure I've had my quota filled.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Darlin' Girl

Do I just have the sweetest little gal or what?

I love how she grins big and then squinches her eyes shut.

Is squinches a word?

Monday, May 05, 2008

Erring on the Side of Caution?

In case you still think the FLDS children now in foster care have a "better" chance at a good life, this article might make you think again:

A check of the Department of Family and Protective Services Web site shows some facilities now housing FLDS children have been written up for violations.
Kidz Harbor in Liverpool, for example, was cited in February for lack of supervision that allowed two children to engage in sexual activity. Also this year, Cal Farley failed to report bruises on a child and a critical injury; a staff member also ridiculed a child for not finishing a task.
Presbyterian Children's Homes & Services, which operates both foster homes and group shelters, was cited last year for foster parents who held inappropriate conversations in front of children; used discipline that included use of a belt and making a child stand on one foot in a closed closet; and failing to report a 17-year-old girl had run away [gee, wonder why].
Reports on facilities are available at

In addition, I found more. The Kidz Harbor Home this past year had the following violations (plus others not listed here):

4 children were not receiving daily medication according to the label.

1 staff was monitoring 15 children while [the rest] prepared medication.

I observed room 6 being used as a storage area with trash and debris...hole in the wall by the TV in room 7...part of the wall was missing in the girl's bathroom behind the last toilet...missing shower heads in two of the three shower stalls, broken paper towel dispensers, and a black growth in the first toilet.

Employees have not been subjected to any random unannounced drug testing since the inception of the policy.

It is interesting to note that some of these places still have "pending" violations whose details are as of yet undisclosed. While some are reported as they are cited (not reporting injuries/hospitalizations within allotted time), others (holes in walls, unsanitary conditions) have a space of several days between the inspection and the citing (the "pending" time, I presume), in which they did not rectify the problem.

But hey, even if these things have happened/are happening where the FLDS kids are now, at least it's not as bad as the things that might have happened at the YFZ ranch. We need to be on the kids' side here, after all. Better safe than sorry. Right?


Happy Birthday Li'l Artist!

She's FOUR today! Amazing. It is always amazing.

Her grandma and papa came yesterday for cake and ice cream.

It was a lovely creation; she desired "apples in the cake". I made an oatmeal cake with shredded granny smith apples "in it," then topped it with cream cheese frosting. Very delicious!

From her grandma and papa, she got a darling little cotton dress, some Color Wonder glitter-paint things, a tablet of drawing paper, and sixty-four crayola crayons. Oh my. That's a lot of crayons for her to keep picked up *guffaws* mama to pick up. *sigh* But what a blessing!

Mama and Daddy got her eight crayons. But they were 'big' ones. Also some colored pencils and a set of watercolors and 1100 feet of freezer paper. Then I found some dollar colorbooks at Family Dollar (weird store, that). Thankfully, among them were 'un-licensed characters.' That is, not Barbie or Nemo or High School Musical or Bratz or other annoying and/or disgusting themes. Bible and Jumbo are great generic color books that don't add to an appetite for fads.

Big Sister is helping her "enjoy" her gifts.

Today I'm taking them to a picnic at the fish hatchery where we can look thru glass at trout and some giant sturgeon. I think it's finally spring.


I'm so very thrilled.

Kombucha is NOT made from a mushroom. Mushrooms do not make it, nor do they live in it, nor do they contribute to it's retirement.

What IS Kombucha? Hmm... very good question. Wiki says:

Kombucha is the Western name for sweetened tea or tisane that has been fermented using a macroscopic solid mass of microorganisms called a "kombucha colony," usually consisting principally of Acetobacter-species and yeast cultures.

That is, it's the result of the Kombucha SCOBY's 'work' on sugar and tea. SCOBY stands for Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast. Isn't that cute? MUCH better terminology than "mushroom". Ick.

Kombucha is supposed to be wildly healthy. Of course, there are no 'proven' studies done by university research departments, which is why I'm inclined to believe it's true.

So now, since mushrooms aren't involved, I want to make some. To make it, however, you need it. One of those paradoxes again. The SCOBY is what makes it happen, and you need to get a SCOBY before you can get Kombucha. I know no SCOBYS (scobies?). BUT - I found out how to find one! A cheaper, if slower, alternative to ebay.

I got one of these from the store. The plain version. And swimming in the bottom was a little translucent jelly-fish looking thing.



Others have nursed this little baby SCOBY into a hard-working mother SCOBY, and I am trying to do the same. I put the li'l critter in my 4 c. pyrex glass measuring cup, covered it with a flour-sack dishtowel, and made some room in a cupboard. The girls now ask about our "pet."

Eventually I will follow this step-by-step tutorial on Kombucha brewing. Wiki-how has instructions too.

And I will be sure to post about how Kombucha made me lose weight, feel better, sleep better, made me happy and taught me to fly.

Friday, May 02, 2008

More Intrigue

Another interesting post from a former FLDS member. This one by his cousin (also former member, apparently). I am amazed and somewhat bewildered. IF their writings are true... to think that everything we "know" about this cult could be wrong in this age of instant information is astonishing.

Here's a pdf of a Bishop's Record taken about a year ago. Apparently a census-type record, showing heads of household, wives, children, ages and locations. Some things I found interesting:

  • Several monogamous (so far, anyway) households - about one third of the families listed - one man, one wife, some or no children. At least one is a middle aged couple (late 30s) with several children.
  • Several infants (7 months or younger) have yet to be named. Listed as "Baby Boy" or the like. Do they wait for a "personality" to be expressed before settling on a name?
  • A couple wives and children from the lists have their location listed as "Hiding" or "House of Hiding."
  • Some heads of household have someor all of their wives/children in other locations. While I take issue with this under the realm of 'fatherhood' (or lack thereof), it's hardly illegal.
  • The youngest wives appear to be no younger than 16. There were no obvious 'absurdly young' mothers. Some families didn't list which children belonged to which wife, so it's possible they're there, but none were apparent. I would however, love to talk to the 19-year-old married to the 56-year-old. Yikes.
  • One old guy, 67, has himself a pile of wives, several of which have long names. Eva Heaton Johnson Jessop Nielson, for example. She is 79 (12 years older than her husband) and I find myself wondering if she was perhaps widowed (once or more) and 'reassigned' as we hear of so often. Which brings up an interesting question; whose wife will she be in the Celestial Heaven? His youngest wife (24) also has an extra surname or two, so...
  • Lots of Johnsons, no Smiths. :)


Yesterday was one of those days. One of those days seemingly fraught with paradoxes (paradocies?), in which I wonder if I've somehow entered the Twilight Zone. I did, however, forget the diaper bag for our trip to town, so that element of reality comforted, oddly enough.

Paradox #1:

A funny one, kindof. The girls and I enjoyed visiting with some elderly folks for lunch yesterday. They are fairly liberal in their politics, and did much head-shaking and 'tsk-tsk'ing about the state of things. Including how worried they are about the terrible way food is produced and processed and how do they expect us to eat? -- while serving up hot dogs and Jiffy cornbread from a box. Hmm....

Paradox #2:

I was accused of being liberal (!) by someone usually quite conservative.

Paradox #3:

While engaging in a refreshing debate about the Texas CPS happenings, a member of the military stated that it didn't much matter whether the Bill of Rights was being burned and trampled, because those people are so sick. "We have to draw the line somewhere, and this religion wasn't even around when the Bill of Rights was written!"

I must admit, this last paradox was almost too much. Asking this military serviceman how he could say that when he's given his oath to defend the Constitution (including said Bill of Rights) didn't result in much more open-mindedness. I didn't get a chance to say how I disagree that the Constitution should be rewritten or overruled in certain circumstances. My heart was in my throat, though.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Fascinating Perspective

The Headmistress linked to a blog; FLDS View. I'm not endorsing it nor reviling it, but it is very interesting and compelling. Take a look, if you like.

This is a hilarious (albeit sad) post about the aforementioned scientific protocols used in determining the age of young women in Texas.

Someday, when I decide the Bill of Rights hasn't been burned and trampled via a "The Ends Justifies the Means" mentality, maybe I'll write another silly blogpost. God knows we need one around here!

In other news, it's May 1. High today in the 40's, winds 15-25. Yay.