Sunday, June 26, 2011

Well, I WAS going to cut my hair

My Hair

That is, until a friend of mine sent me THIS link!


Can you believe she has tailbone-length hair?!



Should a Christian Do Yoga?

Oh, the arguments out there in the world wide web, both for and against! This can be such a heated topic for sure, so please keep in mind that these are simply my thoughts for myself. I'm not imposing anything on anyone. If you are convicted you should not do yoga, then by all means, don't do it.

A lot of Christians I know shy away from yoga simply because they don't understand it. They usually immediately think of someone sitting cross-legged in a garden "ohming" their brains into oblivion. I, too, shied away from yoga for many years, not wanting to cross that line and disobey God.

Then, I got into Pilates. Funny thing is, a lot of Christians I knew thought Pilates was another pagan religious practice. Pilates is named after the man who created the exercises. I enjoyed doing pilates, loving the poses and stretches. I soon realized that there's some yoga in pilates, so I decided to look into yoga more. I was also spurred on by the inflammation in my inner ears that caused terrible vertigo. I had read in a book on the subject that yoga is very beneficial to controlling that. Surgery to correct the issue has an extremely high chance of leaving me deaf. I found a workout DVD that had absolutely NO religious practices. It was simply the exercises. I was careful, though, not wanting to disobey God.

I started doing the DVD and loved the challenge. I also loved that it helped with my poor balance and did indeed seem to reduce the inflammation in my inner ears, thus lessening my vertigo. I also dropped several more pounds, breaking through the post-baby plateau.

So, my final thoughts on yoga are:

1. I, as a Christian, should not do any of the religious aspects of yoga. If I get a DVD that has any meditation in it, or any other practices that prick on conscience, I send it back.

2. I, personally, don't see anything wrong with doing the exercises themselves. I don't see any sin in the positions. They're just positions, stretches. Many stretches we do on our own are similar or the same as yoga positions. The cat-back exercise often taught to pregnant women in Lamaze or Bradley class is a yoga exercise.

3. It's exercise. That's it. Nothing more. I'm not going to go all Yogi, feng shui my house, and play sitar music while I empty my brain.

4. Yes, I'm aware of Praise Moves and her background. I understand how she was affected by Yoga and how it influenced her, but basically Praise Moves is nothing more than renamed yoga exercises, at least in my eyes.

Friday, June 24, 2011

That's Life in the Country

I sent the kiddos out this morning to feed the ducks like I do every morning. They love to care for the ducks and do a great job at it. I suddenly heard my son calling me urgently. Upon immediate inspection, I saw my kiddos standing next to a dead duck in our front yard. Something had killed it. If that wasn't heartbreaking enough, my son informed me that there's no more ducks in the duck pen. I ran to the duck pen, calling "duck duck duck," but no ducks came out. There were feathers strewn everywhere, but no ducks. Looks like it may have been a coyote.

Blessed, Not Stressed

I saw "Blessed, Not Stressed" as part of someone's facebook name on a couponing facebook page this morning and it really struck me! I've decided to adopt that motto whenever taking care of my home and family starts to stress me out. I'm sick of being stressed out and forgetting about the blessings (or even cursing the blessings...I'm known to mutter, "this stupid little house"). BLESSED, Not Stressed!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hoarding or Storing Up?

I've been couponing lately and the best deals usually come in larger (bulk) purchases. But, one would think I'm hoarding. Why do I need 4 huge bottles of shampoo at an amazing price? What's with all that toilet paper? Are you saving up for some sort of natural disaster or something?

Well, actually, I am. It's called an Upstate Winter! :)

No, really. I'm taking advantage of the great deals I'm finding to store up for the winter like a little squirrel because it's too much of a hassle to bundle up my kiddos and drive snow-drifted roads to several stores to do weekly shopping. I'd rather stay home as much as possible this winter.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

One Tiny Thing ~ A Pleasant Chain Reaction

Anna over at Pleasant View Schoolhouse has a great post today called One Tiny Thing. I read her post this morning and it really struck a harmonic chord in me. I decided at once to consciously do just as her post said. So far today the chain reaction that occurred has been very pleasant! Suddenly the daunting doesn't seem so overwhelming. The deliberate effort is engaging to the mind. The action of love for hearth and home spreads quickly and is quite contagious. Even something as simple as taking 5 seconds to straighten the bathroom rug before I step out the door just makes everything feel better.

I also think this would be a good method for someone who is ill or a woman who is dealing with the discomfort of pregnancy. Surely during the times we're in survival mode we can just do one tiny thing to improve a room. Just one. Pick up just one toy. Throw away just one crumb. Smooth out just one curtain.

Then, I started thinking of so many other one tiny things we could do. One tiny correspondence a week to someone who could use cheering up. One book a day read to our children. One effort of improving behavior. One Bible verse or chapter before bed. One way to improve our health a day. I think I'm on to something! One hour less (or 1/2 hour less or 15 minutes) on the computer or at the TV a day..... One more prayer prayed.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

To my beloved husband and father of our children!

To my beloved daddy, father of 5!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Busy in the Kitchen

I feel like my whole week so far has been spent in the kitchen! Peaches needed canning and freezing since they were ripening quickly. Not wanting to waste the peels and just dump them in the compost, I put them in the blender and made peachsauce. I canned one quart of that and the rest I turned into homemade fruit roll-ups. I've also made fruit roll-ups out of strawberries and mixed berries. My 5 year old son asked for apple-cinnamon fruit roll-ups. It's a little extra work on my part to make the roll-ups, but at least my 3 year old daughter is eating fruit this way!



CHEESE!! I've been cheese-making! Mascarpone cheese was the first one done. I was pleased with the results, and so was my mom who got half the batch just because I know how much she LOVES mascarpone.

I also made goat's milk mozzarella. That was fun and made a delicious chicken parm that night. That took a LONG time to make.

I still have some goat's milk left to make some chevre out of later today. Otherwise, I used some to make goat's milk fudge. I didn't like the recipe. It's rich, but the sugar content is too high. It makes the fudge kinda crystal-y. Maybe I didn't let it set at soft ball stage long enough.


So, I walked outside and noticed that the yard was desperate for mowing AND that the clover bloomed! I grabbed a bowl and started picking all those tiny white/pink heads. I infused 2 cups of the blooms overnight, then poured the 2 cups of infusion into a pot, stirring in the juice of 1 lemon, 1/2 tsp citric acid, and 1 box of pectin. I let that come to a boil and stirred in just under 4 cups of sugar. I let that boil at a hard boil for 1 minute and then processed. YUM!!

I love this making jelly out of flowers and herbs! I'm going to look up lemon verbena and lavender jellies and am hoping to gather enough RED clover for another batch.

It's been raining and I've been busy in the kitchen, so my poor garden has been neglected. I was pleased to see how well the lettuce is doing and the snow peas are fruiting (finally!). Also, I couldn't pass up the sale on potted herbs at the grocery store. I bought a sweet basil, a curly parsley and a common thyme. Then, to my surprise, when I got home there was a package on my doorstep. It contained two lingonberry bushes I forgot that I ordered! Must find homes for them, soon!!

OH! And the wild grapevines are doing fantastic this year. They are highly invasive and I usually just hack them back and try to dig them up, but this year I'm preserving the leaves. If you can't beat em, eat em! I'd love to get a hold of roses this year, too and rose hips, but they're hard to come by. Rosehip jelly is fantastic!!



Friday, June 10, 2011

Considerations and a Success

I love where I live. We consider moving all the time because our house is rather small and we would like more land, but really, where we live is just so nice. We are surrounded by woods and farm fields on three sides. On our street side we have great neighbors. We're in the country, but not far from Target! So, should we be unable to move, which it doesn't seem likely any time soon, I've been considering ways to make do with our little cottage.

I'm intrigued by tiny homes. Here's some links that have really encouraged me as the feathering mother bird of this little nest:


We really can't at this time expand the footprint of our home outwards, so our focus has to go up and down as inexpensively as possible. Our basement is only semi-usable as it tends to be damp and occasionally flood a little. I'm hoping that the installation of gutters (and water storage system) will help remedy that. Otherwise, how the basement is set up doesn't really allow for a bedroom down there. Hubby mentioned putting in a bathroom in the basement, but the need for plumbing a toilet would be costly. Then the thought struck me. Why not a composting toilet?! I'm going to look into it.

We have two bedrooms. The children are quickly outgrowing their room. We have two options, squeeze hubby and I's bed into the kids' room and give them ours. (Free) Or, an option more appealing to me, though it'll probably cost around $5,000 is turning our attic into a sleeping loft. There's no place for stairs in our little cottage and the attic ceiling isn't very tall, so it would be a ladder-access loft like in camping cabins. Thankfully, we're short people so we should be able to stand up straight up there. I haven't decided if it'll be a master bedroom suite up there or the boys' room. My oldest has already been asking to move his bed upstairs.

Those are the two pressing projects I'm researching now, but I'm also considering a summer kitchen. Our cottage doesn't allow for very good cross ventilation and the lower roof over the kitchen makes it hot in the summer. Turn on one stove burner and the whole kitchen is an oven while the rest of the house gets uncomfortable. I've been canning my produce on the gas grill's burner outside, but I keep going back to the idea of having a summer kitchen.

I'd also like to get a Vermont Bun Baker wood cook/heat stove for the basement for when the power goes out and those novelty days when I feel like cooking the old fashioned away.

Now, onto the success story. My daughter ate fruit this morning! Not exactly how I'd like it by actually consuming a piece of fresh fruit, but still an advancement. I had taken extra peach sauce I made yesterday and spread it out on the fruit leather tray for my dehydrator. I made "fruit roll ups." I rolled them up just like the commercial ones and thanks to my oldest's excitement at eating one, daughter gobbled hers up, too. After she ate it, I told her what it was made out of up, peaches, and I put a sticker on her chart to indicate that she ate peaches today. I'm going to make strawberry fruit roll ups today, but I'm not sure how she'll take that. She doesn't visually like the seeds in strawberries and shunned her slushy because of them.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Helping Her to Eat Better

Getting my daughter to eat better isn't working. I'm shifting focus onto HELPING her eat better. I think this is deeper than just toddler/preschooler misbehavior. I think she has a deeper issue. Most kids take to promises of treats, hunger pangs, or other methods of getting them to eat healthy foods. Not my daughter. She would rather go without the treat and eat non-food items (she refused lunch today and ate a birthday candle she found outside instead!!)

Mixing veg in casseroles doesn't work either. She doesn't like mixed up foods and can spot a tiny sliver of spinach in a gallon of tomato sauce and refuse the whole meal. The reason she refused lunch today is that I put a tiny bit of homemade peach sauce (like applesauce, but made from peaches) on her peanut butter sandwich without her knowledge. She refused the sandwich after several bites telling me it tasted bad. I took a bite and couldn't even taste the peach sauce for the peanut butter! Then, she was so upset, she refused anything else I offered her.

As a side note, I'm also not too keen on letting her go hungry until she eats in desperation. She reacts like she may have blood sugar issues like me and hunger usually results in a sobbing, unreasonable girl for the remainder of the day.

So, here's what I'm doing or have done to help her eat better:

1. PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY PRAY!!

2. I listed all the healthy foods she does eat. It's a small list, but it gives me an idea of what I can feed her that she'll actually eat. She does have a rotation, though. A food she ate and loved last week she might refuse again for months on end only to ask for it and eat it again all of a sudden.

3. Keep a food journal.

4. I made a food group chart for her with 14 spaces to fill with stickers for each food. They say that it takes approximately 11-14 days of trying something to develop a taste for it. It also gives her a visual for accomplishment, though she seems rather disinterested right now.

5. Let her help in the kitchen and garden. She watched me make her baby brother's homemade formula the other day and asked to try the fermented cod liver oil and the nutritional yeast and bifodobacterium infantis and she said, "yum" to all.

6. Take her to farmstands and pick-you-own places. Though, the last time I did this, she literally ate a piece of dog poop instead of the berries. Yeah, you can bet I freaked out. I screamed so loud, I'm amazed the farmer didn't come running to see what was wrong! Granted, that was 2 years ago.

7. She seems to prefer dried fruit over fresh, so I hauled out my dehydrator. I've got peach fruit roll-ups in it now.

8. The Healthy Home Economist (link in left sidebar) had an article about using speariment extract for picky eaters. I might give that a go, though I don't think her appetite needs whetting. It's her palate.

I've tried smoothies to no avail. This morning, I tried a slushy made from strawberries for her and she tried it, but didn't like it, so I'm turning it into a popsicle in hopes she'll eat it then.

For added information, sitting with her and encouraging her to eat doesn't work. She gets terribly upset, imagines up a stomach ache, and her saliva becomes really thick and chokes her should I repeatedly offer her a food she doesn't want to it. If I do manage to get it in her mouth, she holds it under her tongue and won't swallow it. She usually can't swallow it anyway because her saliva gets so thick under the stress.

Any other advice would be greatly appreciated. She sees the doctor in a couple of weeks, so I'll hopefully get some answers from him.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Review of Homemade Formula

Thanks to The Healthy Home Economist, I was encouraged to start making homemade formula for my baby boy after my milk waned too much to sustain him anymore. The recipe listed on her site is actually pretty easy, even though the ingredients can sound daunting. She even lists links to where you can buy the ingredients, making it easy to get started.

Baby boy is almost a year old. He stopped breast milk at 9 months at which point he went on commercial organic formula until all the ingredients came in the mail for the homemade formula. Recently, he's been back on commercial formula due to busyness in our lives. I noticed a few things:

When he's on commercial formula:

1. He's up at night, needing more formula.
2. He's fussy-hungry more.
3. He eats more table food.
4. He either looks slender or bloated.

When he's on homemade formula:

1. He sleeps through the night.
2. He's got an appetite, but isn't fussy about it.
3. He eats a more balanced meal and smaller portions.
4. He's pleasingly baby-plump. Not fat, just that healthful plumpness babies should have.


Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Some Quick Tidbits

1. Now that the farm field's hay has been mowed, my resident woodchuck has turned his attention to my garden. I'm trying to find ways to keep him out!

2. I've been introduced to "extreme couponing" and it's fun! Of course, I'm not like some stories I've heard, and I stick to the rules, but I've got some great savings lined up!

3. My Trailblazer died after church on Sunday and I had to have it towed. No idea what's wrong yet.

Friday, June 03, 2011

The Myth of "Me Time"

Almost a decade ago when I was a young bride, I would come across well-meaning conservative Christian women groups where women tried to counsel each other in Titus 2 fashion. DISCLAIMER: I am NOT mocking or bashing conservative Christian women counseling each other in Titus 2 fashion. I believe whole-heartedly that women of Christ SHOULD follow Titus 2.* However, these women, as people tend to do, were more or less following the latest trend. I could see the trend ebb and flow over the years I followed certain sites. Suddenly, all the ladies were headcovering, or wearing jumpers, or making their own bread, or whatever the latest "trend" was. Now, there's nothing wrong with headcovering, dressing modestly or making your own bread. Of course not! But, let it be a true conviction of God and not just something that FEELS good to do and makes you feel (and look) holier than thou, or even pridefully humble.

Anyhow, one of these trends that stood out to me was doing away with "me time." Good, conservative Christian ladies martyred themselves completely to never having any "me time." "Me time" was only for worldly, selfish women who styled their hair, wore pants and fed their families take-out. "Me time" was utter selfishness. We ladies should never leave our children with a babysitter or *gasp* our husbands so we can go something as vile as using that manicure gift card or buying ourselves new underwear or even just taking a walk and being able to complete a single thought without interruption.

As ridiculous as that all sounds, for some reason I sorta latched onto that! It lingered in the back of my head every time someone babysat my kiddos, or I thought about waking up early to exercise. I even had holier than thou thoughts about other ladies I know who do take time for themselves to care for themselves.

I remarked how career women who spend 8-10 hours a day away from their children are the first to jump at "me time" opportunities. But, then I realized that I would spend hours in front of the computer. I'd soak in the shower. I'd sleep in and grumble when I heard my children stirring. How is that any better? It ain't. In my self-righteousness, I was sinning deeply. Mote and beam, baby. Right here!

The verdict? EVERYONE needs time for themselves. Not the "I can't stand my own children so I have to get away from them to find myself" me time. But, just occasional time.

For me, right now it's getting up early and exercising. I'm amazed at how after just a few days of doing this I feel so much better! I'm even sleeping better! I'm getting more done because I don't feel "fanny draggy" all day. It releases tension so I'm not crabby at my kiddos! I even painted my toes the other day. Little things like that make a big difference.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Praising God in the Mediocre

I hear it all the time. It is preached often. "Don't fall away from God when times are tough. Remember Him, praise Him, pray!"

Occassionally, I hear or it is preached to not forget God when things are good. Don't fall in complacency, or puff up yourself.

But, neither of those are where I leave God behind. It's in the mediocre, the mundane, the every day.

So long as things are plugging along at a normal pace and life just ticks on by, that's when I find myself saying quick, rote graces. That's when my Bible lays unopened by my bedside. That's when my evening prayers fade into sleep. That's when I don't bother to seek God or spend time in praise and worship.

And since mediocre tends to happen more often than the mountains and valleys in our lives (one would hope), that's a LOT of time I put God on the shelf.

God should be our every day. Christ Jesus should be welcome in our homes, a constant companion by our sides no matter the circumstances.