Monday, April 26, 2010

Top Ten...

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a boy in possession of a long skinny thing anything, will make of it a sword weapon.

And then he will run around the house slashing/shooting at everything and everyone.
Even though mom has tried to encourage a peaceful home environment by not allowing 'violent' toys or games...

Top ten 'swords' or 'guns' in our house
  1. Mom's knitting needles, even the short DPNs
  2. pieces of wooden train track
  3. sticks
  4. plastic hotwheels track
  5. rulers
  6. duplos & legos
  7. marble run segments
  8. lincoln logs
  9. vacuum attachments
  10. his own hands

There is no escape.

Accept the inevitable.

Wolf, age 4

Friday, April 23, 2010

Parenting Positively

In Finding Nemo, Dory and Marlin find themselves in the middle of a school of jellyfish. Marlin decides that the best way to get ditzy Dory out safely is to make a game. "You can only touch the tops," he explains. "Not the tentacles." "Something about tentacles, gotit, let's go!" shrieks Dory as Marlin laments "not 'something about tentacles,' it's all about the tentacles!"

I have frequently noticed that children tend to hear what we say, but only the key words. So "please don't jump on the bed" comes though as "[wa wa wa wa wa] jump on the bed."
Even when they know that you'd rather they didn't, the idea is so firmly in their mind--and in a parental voice even--that the behavior is nearly irresistible.
When we stop and think about it, it's not hard to realize that focusing on "dos" is liable to be far more productive than focusing on "don'ts."
So rather than saying "please don't jump on the bed" try saying "please come walk on the floor." They may not be excited about doing it, but mentally it's easier to process, and less distracting.

At the risk of over-explaining, I'll share a couple other examples:

Poor: Stop splashing water out of the tub, it's all over the floor.
Better: Let's keep the water IN the tub!

Poor: Don't get out of bed again
Better: Stay in bed and go to sleep
Best: Please stay in your bed and lay still, I'll put on this quiet music/audio story for you

Poor: Stop poking your brother
Better: Be gentle with your brother
Better: Why don't you go [away from your brother] and do ___
Better: What have you done today to show your brother that you love him?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Say what you mean

Another installment in my parenting philosophy series...

I sincerely believe in just saying what I mean, rather than dropping hints or expecting people to pick up subtext or (gasp!) guess what I'm thinking. I wrote some time ago about how we have applied that policy to our marriage, but I also apply it to my parenting.
So when my son hops out of the shower, grabs his towel, and bolts up the hall (with the towel swinging in the air, and droplets of water flying every-which-way) I say "please get dry in the bathroom before you run up the hall" rather than "hey, you're getting everything wet." After all, he's 9, I'm pretty sure he knows he's getting everything wet, (he does it almost every day). What he doesn't know--or doesn't remember--is what would be a better alternative.
When the boys are going to bed, I rarely tell them "just go to sleep now." After all, the average 3 year old isn't really sure how to "go to sleep." But if I tell him to lay still, close his eyes, and breathe softly, he can probably do those things. We may end up going through his body parts one by one "make your head be still, make your eyes be closed, make your arms be still, make your bottom stay down on the bed..." and so on, but he can do those things, and they feel much more doable than "go to sleep." Sometimes my sons tell me that they can't fall asleep, or that they won't. I smile and tell them that I don't care if they go to sleep, they are welcome to stay awake all night long if they long as they stay in their beds and lay still and keep quiet. To date none of them has ever managed to pull an all-nighter.☺

That is one side of saying what I mean, and it is a great help in getting kids to know what you want and to do what you ask. The other side of 'saying what you mean' is a little more serious.

If my son is acting up at the store and I tell him that "one more time" will result in marching out the door and going straight home, well, if he does it one more time we'd better start marching immediately. We have left playdates and other fun things because of situations like that. If I'm not willing to leave (if I have to finish my shopping, or I want to keep chatting with my friends) then I had better not deliver that kind of ultimatum. If I threaten to ground him for a month, or throw away all his legos, well, I'd better be willing to follow through. And not just follow through partway, but really follow through. Kids know if you are bluffing, and although they will call your bluff, they would rather be able to just trust you.
On the up side, if I promise that this weekend we can make popcorn and watch a movie, I'd better have a movie and make popcorn. There is no excuse for lying to your kids. Ever. On the rare occasion that something is beyond my control (someone gets sick and we're unable to go to ____) then explain it all truthfully as soon as you know that you won't be able to do what you promised. If you're not sure whether you'll be able to follow through, then don't make the promise. (Sometimes I say "I'm trying to work it out so that we can ___" but I don't promise unless I know I can follow through.) Kids need to be able to trust their parents. Always.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

WFMW: Pre-pulling 'leftovers'

I do what I call "multi-meal planning," which means that I plan sequential meals that will utilize the same ingredients. For example, on one day I will cook a pot roast, and a couple of days later I'll use the leftover beef for stroganoff or stew (or both). A roast chicken leads to pot pie, soup, or chicken casserole. The problem with planning this way was that sometimes there was not as much leftover meat as I needed to make the other meal(s). Especially if we ate a leisurely dinner, people would have just a little bit more, and just another nibble, until the meat I was counting on was gone.
Here's the thing, people will fill up on whatever is in front of them...they don't necessarily want certain amounts of any particular food, they just want to be filled.
A friend of mine told me that she serves portion sizes up onto all the plates and then puts the leftovers into the fridge before they even begin the meal. It ensures that everyone eats proper portion sizes. I took her idea and adapted it to my multi-meal planning.
Now, when I cook a roast, I cut the thing in half and put half in the fridge before I even bring it to the table. We don't need very much meat in our diets, and I always serve a meat dish with plenty of vegetables on the sides so nobody is left hungry. (Did you know that tests show that potato is actually the food that leaves you feeling the most full?! So just serve mashed or roasted potatoes and people will nibble on them instead of the meat, and they'll get full faster anyway!) Meanwhile, I have enough left over meat for my other meals!
Before I started doing this I could usually make one more meal from the leftovers of a "big meat" meal, now I can usually make two. It's friendly to my budget and our health!

For more "works for me wednesdays" click here.


Please note: This post contains both politics and religion. And some very strong opinions.
I won't be offended if you just walk away, but I've just been thinking about this lately and wanted to write about it...

There is a lot of debate in political and social circles about how certain 'religious values' should not be forced upon people who are not part of the religion.

On the other hand, there are certain 'values' (shared by religion) that are apparently just universal and everybody agrees on them whether they are 'religious' or not.

So here is my question: Where does one draw the line between 'religious values' and 'universal values'?

We all agree that it's not ok to kill people, don't we? Or take stuff that isn't yours, right? But since both of those are from the Ten Commandments then they were religious values before they were universal ones. So if we all agree about the killing and the stealing, why do we debate the applicability of others of the Big Ten like adultery or honoring parents? Have morals become an a la carte commodity?!

Of course it gets more intricate. We all seem to agree that it's not normally ok to kill someone, but what if that someone was attacking you and it was self defense? What if that someone was old and sick and dying anyway? What if that person was an unborn baby who "wasn't a person yet"? What if that person was a murderer himself? What if that person wanted to die? What if that person is being slowly yet surely (yet passively) killed because they cannot afford the medical treatment to recover and their fellow citizens voted against extending care to them? If we believe that "thou shalt not kill" then how come some situations are 'universal' or 'obviously wrong' but others are not?

When psychological studies [*link 1, **link2] say that the ideal developmental situation for a child is within a nuclear family with one father and one mother, am I "pushing religious fundamentalism" to vote to preserve the legal monopoly of that type of marriage? When I suggest that I think that "single parenting is not the ideal" am I "insulting those who choose differently" from myself? Or am I just responding logically in accordance with scientific fact? (which would therefore make it universally right, rather than just my opinion).

I do not believe in the notion of moral 'grey area.' Right and wrong exist and no sum of loudly-spoken or cleverly-worded opinions can change them. Some moral laws are easier to follow than others, and I appreciate that. Most of us find it easy enough to pay for our items at the store rather than stealing them, but struggle somewhat more to keep the sabbath day holy or to eschew covetousness or lust.
I certainly respect that everyone has their own opinion about things, but when it comes to 'moral' issues (which I think includes all social issues), it's worth keeping in mind that those 'universal values' started as 'religious values.' Maybe those who are so offended by 'religious values' need to remember that the very concept of 'values' comes from religion. Maybe when a movement comes into conflict with religious values, it's not because religion is outdated, maybe it's because there's something actually (universally) wrong with the movement itself.

*The article at link1 was written specifically in regard to children being raised by heterosexual couples verses homosexual couples. The first portion covers studies indicating the health of children raised with heterosexual parenting arrangements. The second portion covers studies indicating problems resulting from being raised in homosexual parenting arrangements. Both are heavily cited and all references are included at the end of the article. All the studies are within the last 20 or so years, so the information is not 'outdated' or 'biased by the times.'
**link2 is a blog post which cites several studies discussing dual parenting verses single parenting, specifically in cases of divorce or never-married parents. The conclusions there are also irrefutably in favor of a child being raised by both parents.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Count Your Blessings

I have had a long and trying last month or so. There have been emotional, financial, scholastic, social, and health issues in our family; none of them small, but most of them of such a nature that privacy is warranted and thus I've had them pent up inside and they have been eating away at me. This last weekend my husband was gone for two days (and two nights) for a conference he had to go to, and as I was doing the single parent thing yet again I had a bit of a breakdown. I ran out of coping skills. I got tired of being strong all the time.
Thankfully some sweet friends buoyed me with encouraging words and even brought me dinner and ice cream. I am grateful to them for supporting me when I needed it, and realize that in spite of all the struggles we face right now I need to be better about taking the time to count my blessings.
I am grateful for a husband who works hard to provide for our family, who supports my staying home with our kids, and who supports me in my other ambitions as well (like the book I'm writing).
I am grateful for a mother who is always there to talk to, and who has unlimited long distance calling (which I don't) and frequently answers the phone with "shall I call you right back so we can talk for a while?"
I am grateful for my physical health, and the health of my spouse and kids.
I am grateful to have a functional computer again.
I am grateful for the fellowship and support I have with friends online.
I am grateful for the 'big picture' worldview that the gospel of Christ brings me.
I am grateful for the peace brought by prayer.
I am grateful for my sight.
I am grateful for my mobility.
I am grateful to live in a beautiful place.
I am grateful for the friends and neighbors I have here.
I am grateful that the weather is warming (a little) and that I'm able to turn down the heaters and reduce the bills.
I am grateful to not be in Pelican!


I admit it, I'm an idealist.
I know we don't live in an ideal world, but I don't think that means that I have to be content with the status quo, or that I shouldn't want something else (or strive to make changes to bring certain of those ideals into reality). I'm not willing to be passive about things that matter to me, and I don't think that's a negative trait.
My opinions, my ideals, are based on thought and study and testimony, not on ignorance or prejudice (though those words have been directed at me recently). I am not ashamed of them, nor do I feel the need to keep them to myself. I'm not trying to 'push' them when I share them, and I'm not trying to insult or offend people who don't agree or fit in with them. I do not expect everyone to agree with me and, in fact, I usually enjoy a healthy debate--so long as everybody is nice to each other and keeps the discussion on the topic rather than making it personal.

As I said, I realize that the world is not ideal. Many of my ideals are not or even cannot be realities here or now. That doesn't mean that they are bad ideals, or that I should stop believing in them, talking about them, or doing what I can to bring change to my world.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Celebrating Jesus' Birthday (April 6)

In spite of the western tradition of celebrating Jesus' birthday in December, it takes only the simplest bit of thought to realize that He was not really born in the middle of winter. The most obvious indication of this is that according to the Bible the shepherds were "abiding in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night." Shepherds did not typically stay out in the fields all night, they usually went home to bed. (I'm not certain whether or not the sheep stayed out, but she shepherds definitely did not!) The only times when shepherds would stay out with the sheep all night was during lambing, so that they would be there to attend to birthing sheep if necessary, and to keep predators away from the newborn lambs. This fact narrows the time of Christ's birth to either spring or autumn, and I know people who believe each way.Additionally, I have heard the theory that (in spite of the census-taking that year) it is unlikely that every inn in the city would be full unless the timing coincided with one of the major Jewish holidays--in this case probably Passover (spring) or Feast of Tabernacles/Rosh Hashanna (autumn). I lean toward spring, since part of the celebration of the latter holiday involves living in a tent ('tabernacle') for 40 days to commemorate the Israelites' time in the wilderness, and if everybody was out in tents then I suspect there would have been room in the inns of Bethlehem.
The common belief in our faith (due to statements from several church leaders, though never officially stated as doctrine to my knowledge), is that Christ was born on April 6. Since spring seems the most likely season for His birthday, I figure it's as good a day as any to celebrate.

I like birthdays, partly because they are an excuse to make cake!So we made a birthday cake with a big J on it for Jesus, and we all blew out the candles together. Then, before we ate, we went around the table and each said what we were going to give to Jesus as our gift to Him this year. We gave two kinds of gifts: gifts of improving our own righteousness (giving our hearts to Him), or gifts of serving others ("inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me").
My favorite gift was when Bear said that he would "get on the edge of the couch so that [Eagle] would not roll off" ♥☺

I hope to make this a permanent tradition in our family.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

10 10s in 2010...update #1

April 14 update
(since a number of items appear more than once, I am putting notations by the first occurrence, then making the font on subsequent ones smaller)

1--Keeping My Home
  1. Create (and then stick to) a housekeeping system I have pretty much created working on the sticking to it part...
  2. Try out at least one new recipe each month Jan-Troy's Chicken and Speedy Burritos Feb--Spider Spaghetti, Mar--Lebanese spinach puffs and cheeseburger buns, April--black bean/rice veggie burgers,
  3. Serve balanced meals (with a protein, a vegetable, and a starch/carb) at least most nights so far so good
  4. Grind my own wheat flour wheat has been ordered, when it gets here I'll start
  5. Make bread all year (6 months down and so far so good!!)
  6. Build up my food storage--at least 3m worth of all non-perishable items
  7. Learn about gardening in Alaska--what foods grow well, when/how to plant and harvest, etc
  8. Have a garden got permission from the landlords! The ground is still pretty frozen though!
  9. Can/freeze produce in season
  10. Participate in the butchering and/or preservation of a moose that Hubby shoots (that's one of his goals for the year!
2--Read Books (ideally including the following specific titles)(* means I've started it, date indicates when finished)
  1. 4/10 To Kill A Mockingbird--dang, how had I never read this before? It was excellent! So much better than most other 'coming of age' stories I've read.
  2. A Christmas Carol
  3. something by a local author
  4. a biography or memoir
  5. *Going Rogue by Sarah Palin (mostly for cultural literacy)
  6. Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (Time top 10)
  7. Logicomix by Apostolos Doxiadis et al (about Bertrand Russell) (Time top 10)
  8. Beauty by Robin McKinley Couldn't find it at the library here, so may need something else
  9. Changing My Mind by Zadie Smith (Time top 10)
  10. 1/10 Icy Sparks--story of a young girl in Appalacia and her life with undiagnosed Tourette's. Unfortunately the way it was written was just really depressing, so even though the idea of the story appealed, I don't recommend the book.
  11. (alternate) Fablehaven

3--Improve Financial Stability
  1. Pay off (at least) one account DONE!! Feb 12--tax return + online payment = bye-bye visa!!
  2. Keep current with tithing (unfortunately some months this has been hard for us, and then catching up on our tight budget is even harder) We are currently caught up, so now we just have to keep it up--so much easier to stay current when we are current. ☺
  3. Live within our means, always considering wants vs needs, and making the modest choice even with the latter. After 6 months I finally got to buy real kitchen shelves to replace my makeshift box shelves (photos coming soon) I really loved the big white metal one, but settled for the plastic one because it was 2/3 the price and will still fill my current needs.
  4. Use coupons and shop sales at the grocery store I've been good about sales, not so much with coupons
  5. Use our tax returns and PFD's wisely (for food storage/debt, not playing!) Used the tax return to finish getting caught up on the tithing and pay off a credit card. Used the basketball coaching stipend for debt, kitchen chairs, and some food storage (shelves & food).
  6. Build up our food storage slowly but surely
  7. Build up my year's supply (the non food stuff, like toilet paper and toothpaste and laundry soap) to 3-6 months worth
  8. Do not buy any new diaper/etc fabric so far so good
  9. Sew items to sell using the fabric I have so far so good
  10. Actively market my etsy shops so far so good

4--Be More Present with my Family
  1. Read more books to my kids (I've been doing better with this through this last fall, and hope to continue it)
  2. Acquire a couple of new children's books in order to do #1 without losing my mind ☺ Two at Bear's birthday
  3. Cuddle my kids every day
  4. Include the kids in the housekeeping schedule (give them assignments)
  5. Stay OFF the internet one day a week (generally Tuesdays) so far so good, I even took nearly four weeks off (unplanned though it was!) ☺
  6. Be a good example for the kids by limiting my screen time on other days (haven't settled the specifics of that)
  7. Say "just a minute" less often ooo, I keep forgetting this one. Must try harder. ☺
  8. Play with my kids, not just work near them so far so good
  9. Have a monthly 'date' with each family member
  10. Go to bed at the same time as my Hubby (so we can have pillow talk and cuddle time) so far so good

  1. Create (sew or knit) at least 6 things per month, for my family or my shop so far so good...
  2. Introduce a new product (or two or three) in my shop(s) this year. Three so far with a fourth and fifth in the works.
  3. Allow myself the thought-outlet of blogging frequently
  4. Finish Wolf's sweater I'm on the second sleeve
  5. Knit something for myself (I have no idea what yet)
  6. Use up existing stash rather than buying new materials
  7. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  8. Learn how to make shampoo/conditioner (ideally by doing depends on how hard it is to come by ingredients)
  9. Make handmade gifts for my family/friends (not necessarily to the exclusion of purchased items) Hubby and I are contemplating making a wholly handmade Christmas (within our family) this year. I would love to do that!
  10. Help my children make things

6--Focus Inward

  1. Be more active (I'd like to go walking, though in winter in Alaska with two little ones and no where to walk indoors this is a challenge...) I've gotten out a few times...more as it gets warmer and Eagle gets bigger...I've just started joining a friend a couple of days a week walking a couple of miles. I have to drive to her house to walk with her, but it's something.
  2. Work on my poor ignored abdominals...crunches or pilates or something I've been getting in yoga or pilates or crunches at least a couple of times a week.
  3. Get outside more often
  4. Read more fiction (see list above!)
  5. Read my scriptures
  6. Pray more (an ongoing challenge for me unfortunately)
  7. Get the local breastfeeding support group on it's feet. (There isn't one, so I took it upon myself to make one. The social support helps me so much and I believe in the cause) so far so good
  8. Sing more so far so good ☺
  9. Take time to be still and quiet
  10. Check in on these goals at least quarterly to monitor my progress (I'll report here--This post is now linked from the sidebar and I'll update it as I do things, and I'll copy/repost the current status every so often)

7--Focus Outward
  1. Do my visiting teaching every month so far so good
  2. Become a Big Sister with Big Brothers/Big's something I've wanted to do for a long time. I called them and interviewed, and they were excited about me...but I'll be scrapping this one...details to come
  3. Build up the local breastfeeding support group.
  4. Fulfill my church calling (I am the coordinator over the Relief Society meetings formerly referred to as "Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment meetings") so far so good--I taught the lesson in Feb and selected the topics for both March and April
  5. "Pay It Forward" whenever I can (in whatever ways I can) I gave one of my slings to someone who needed one (I had three, and she had borrowed mine twice, so i told her to just keep it. I've got enough.)
  6. Look specifically for opportunities to PIF/send out good karma I'm participating in a cloth diapering giveaway with the etsy cloth diaper team this summer...
  7. Shop locally or handmade whenever possible.
  8. Feed the local missionaries each month so far so good
  9. Teach a friend how to do something new (a lady at church has asked about learning to make a babywearing pouch and another has asked about cloth diapers)
  10. Teach my kids how to do new things (Wolf has expressed interest in knitting and trying the sewing machine, Bear is putting away the silverware from the dishwasher)

  1. Read a parenting book Punished by Rewards by Alfie Kohn (review coming now that I have a computer again!)
  2. Read a marriage/relationship book
  3. Read a political book The Audacity of Hope by Barak Obama
  4. Read a nutrition or health book
  5. Read a biography or teachings of a latter day prophet or apostle
  6. Read my scriptures
  7. Learn new knitting techniques Jan--increases, Feb--seaming (shoulders, sides, and setting in sleeves)
  8. Learn how to make shampoo and/or conditioner
  9. Try out at least one new recipe each month
  10. Seek to find/recognize the sacred in all aspects of life, and the connections between truths ("spiritual" and otherwise)

  1. Write a series of posts about The Family proclamation
  2. Finish the final post in my "motherhood" series done ☺
  3. Finish the birth-related posts that are sitting in my drafts folder done ☺
  4. Research and write more posts on specific vaccinations
  5. Write reviews of the books I have read but haven't written about yet: Hold On To Your Kids, The Omnivore's Dilemma, Raising Your Spirited Child
  6. Write reviews of books I read this year so far so good
  7. Post more regularly on my cooking blog so far so good
  8. Post more regularly on my family scrapbook blog (it's private, for keeping extended family updated mostly) so far so good
  9. Fill in gaps by posting older stuff on the family scrapbook blog too with the new computer we got a printer (the first one I've had in 4 years) and it has a scanner, so I'm looking forward to scanning in older photos and getting them preserved digitally too!)
  10. Leave comments on my friends' blogs
  11. BONUS write a series on the Relief Society proclamation

  1. Celebrate the earth cycle holidays (equinoxes, solstices). I have some ideas about what I want to do, but would love to hear ideas.
  2. Finally start our long-planned family tradition of having an authentic medieval meal (ie, big meat, candlelight, no utensils) once a year. I can't decide between Michaelmas and Spring Equinox--thoughts? Hubby has requested Beltane
  3. Establish a new family tradition for Jesus' Birthday (April 6--I'll write about it when we get there)
  4. Have a family pizza night at least twice a month (we are currently doing about 3x), and invite someone to join us. we only did once in Feb I think--Hubby's broken leg combined with his basketball coaching schedule slowed down a lot of things. We did a couple of times in March, though we haven't yet in April...this may get adapted to "frequently" rather than "twice a month"...we enjoy it, but it is a lot of work.
  5. Have a family or couples game night at least once a month ooo, strike one, haven't been doing this at all.
  6. Go to playgroup and mom's support (breastfeeding) group and RS meetings and thus rejuvenate myself often
  7. Visit some major sites of my own state (this will be our third summer since moving here, but we've never really traveled IN state!) We're looking at Denali NP and Fairbanks at least.
  8. Play music in the home/car, and sing more so far so good
  9. Get outside often and breathe deeply this makes such a big difference, even on a cold day. 2 minutes of sunshine and a little fresh air...ahhh!
  10. Do my best to live deeply and suck the marrow out of life
  11. BONUS start a new family tradition of celebrating the countries of our ancestors by having a meal of authentic foods on that country's national holiday

FOs of March

For Self/Family
mended a busted out knee for Wolf ☺

For Sale/Sold
2 cloth training pants (photos eaten by the computer crash)
2 sets cloth diaper liners
2 custom order solarveil baby sun hats (photos also eaten in crash...very sad)

I know it's kindof boring to post when there are no photos, but I'm being accountable to y'all for making at least six things a month like I said, so here's the post even if it's dull. ☺

Friday, April 9, 2010


Our computer has crashed. As in really, fully, completely, crashed. There is no resurrection for it this time.
So we ordered a new one, which theoretically will be shipped to us on the 16th, and may arrive anywhere between the 19th and July...that's how it is when you live in Alaska.
Meanwhile I have no computer, and my posting will be sporadic at best. I may get on this weekend and schedule a couple of posts, because there are several swirling around in my head just desperate to be written...but in the meantime being without a computer means I have a cleaner-than-usual house, nice dinners every day, I've read two books in the last week, I'm sewing, and I'm exercising. These are all good things, so while I admit to missing my computer, I figure it's probably healthy to be without it for a little while.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Delight in service and good works

(continuing with the topics from the RS theme...)

I have always been one who was ready and willing to help others. I enjoy making others happy and helping them out. However, service has two sides--in order for someone to give, someone else has to receive--and I have never been good at receiving. I have a hard time taking a compliment. I have a hard time letting people help me. When Eagle was born my husband stayed home from work for a week so that I could take it easy. It took a great deal of willpower to make myself stay in bed for the first 24 hours, and I had a hard time sitting around for the remainder of the week and letting him make meals and do dishes and laundry. I knew I shouldn't try to be up and doing things, but it was hard for me to let him do things.
This last week I had a good lesson in receiving service. We've had some things come up recently that have caused some stress and worry (financial concerns, a family member in the hospital, etc). I emailed a dear friend of mine--not to ask for anything (because I'm terrible about asking even if I'm in need), but just to have someone to talk to about it all. She emailed back and said "here is my phone card number, please use ALL OF IT and call your grandma in the hospital without worrying about the cost."
My first thought was oh that's sweet, but of course I couldn't...and then I stopped myself. Yes, it is very sweet. But she would not have offered if she hadn't meant it. In the long run it amounts to a few dollars--dollars that I don't really have at the moment and dollars that she does have. But on Sunday evening I spent an hour and a half on the phone with my grandma. (At present her body is unable to do much but her mind is alert so she's really struggling with being stuck in a bed in a boring hospital room, and she said my phone call really brightened her day.)
So thank you to my dear friend for your gift, and for a chance to practice accepting service.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My dishes

I mentioned in my microwave post last week about our corelle dishes. Today I thought I'd take a few minutes to tell about why we chose corelle, and what pattern we settled on.

We have kids, so we needed something sturdy and long-lasting. Corelle is tough enough that after twoish decades my grandma finally gave her corelle dishes to my mom because she (grandma) was tired of the pattern and wanted something new!
We like to have big fancy meals for holidays, and entertain, so we wanted something attractive.
We needed something affordable, so that we could have enough to feed lots of family/friends without resorting to paper, blech!
We wanted something dishwasher-safe and ideally oven-safe as well.
We are fairly minimalist, and wanted something versatile so that we did not need to have multiple sets of dishes (the "Christmas China" verses the "daily use dishes" and so on).

We opted for a simple, classic, white pattern, which will coordinate with any season or table decor, and does away with the need for any other sets of dishes. It's called "Enhancements." Simple, but not boring. Elegant, but not expensive.
The only downside to Corelle dishes is that they are mostly sold in place-setting sets (as shown above). If your family is like mine, you use a lot more bowls and plates than you do cups and saucers, so this seemed a bit wasteful. However this last year we discovered that we could buy individual pieces at Fred Meyer. So we bought two of the box sets (4 place settings each) and then a few spare dinner plates and bowls. As our family grows we will probably buy another box set, because they are more economical than pieces a la carte, but it's nice to know that we can also get individual plates or bowls as needed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Have you done this?

Our church women's group played a game at our birthday party last week: each woman stood up and said something she had done that she figured not any (or many) other of the women had done. Everyone who had done it stood up and each of them got a bean. At the end of the game, the person with the most beans (the one who had done the most things) got a prize.

I thought about what I had done that few or no other people in the group would have done. I considered the group, and then when it was my turn I said:

"I gave birth to a baby at home, on purpose"

Amid whispers of "ohmygosh I can't imagine..." two other women stood up, and you know, I immediately felt this connection to them! Something that makes us unique among all the sisters in the group.
Of course, here among my blog readers there would be lots of beans passed around for something like homebirthing. In this group, I'd have to go with something else, like:
"I danced salsa on the banks of the Seine (in Paris) at dusk"

or I could say

"I got pulled into a traditional folk dance in a restaurant in Athens" --->


"I blew an alpenhorn [yes a full-size one] so that it echoed off the mountainside above Lake Lucerne in Switzerland"


"I lived for two years in a town with fewer than 100 people and no roads"

or maybe

"I was part of an impromptu 'street choir' singing multi-part harmony Christmas Carols in a cafe, and someone liked us enough to buy us all hot cocoa"

or even

"I was part of a performing formation ballroom dance team when I was in high school"

Have you done any of my things?
What have you done that you figure nobody else has done?

ok fine, you can see the Paris pictures too ☺
(they are photos of my photo album, thus the funny shapes...)

Yes, I was dancing with my daddy. ☺

Friday, April 2, 2010

First Friday Health Corner

First Friday of the month = breast self exam, so hop to it ladies!

(see, look, I was funny there, I made a bunny reference around easter time, did you notice?!)

Today I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to talk about autism.Today, April 2, has been declared "wear blue for autism awareness" day. I have no idea who declared it, but I'm wearing my blue because autism has recently entered my personal life in an unexpected way. A young person that we're close to seems to have many of the 'markers' and the family is starting the process of having a formal evaluation done. This young person is very bright and "high-functioning" but some things are just a little "off-kilter" so to speak.
Autism was always something that was out there but it was never part of my life. Well, now it may be part of my life, and I'm realizing that most of us probably know someone who has autism (to some degree), and we just may not recognize it.
As I've been reading up on aspergers and high-functioning autism in particular--trying to understand this young person better--I've realized that this is not a 'disability' so much as just an entirely different way of perceiving the world. We hear about how diagnosis rates are increasing, and I wonder if that is due to increasing pressure from our culture to 'fit in', rather than from an actual change in the incidence of autism. We live in a fast-paced and no-excuses kind of world, and for someone who needs time or space to be a little different, it is hard to just go with the flow. It's a good reminder to all of us to be patient with people--all people--and to accept that everybody is a little bit different, and that's ok. In fact, it's good to be a little different. Who would want to live in a world with a bunch of clones anyway.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fool's Dinner


and asparagus ☺

(yes, we eat our vegetables here...we actually had to stop Wolf when he was on his third helping of the asparagus or we wouldn't have gotten much!)

Oh, did I mention that the cake was meatloaf with mashed potato 'frosting'? Oh yeah. Bear was initially disappointed that it was not chocolate frosting, but I told him it was a special meat cake and he was ok with it--so long as I let him eat the part with "da eyes and da mouse."

In Which I Melt a Stainless Steel Pan

I wish this were an April Fool's Day joke.

It's not.

Many women like to boast about their 'multitasking' skills. Newsflash folks, there is no such thing as multitasking, there is only jumping rapidly from one task to another. Some people jump more rapidly than others, and some people do it with more grace than others, but nobody really does more than one thing at once.

Unfortunately, while I often jump rapidly from one thing to another, I do not always do it with much grace, because I tend to forget about some of the multiple things that I'm in the middle of.
Such was the case this week when I put some water on to boil (Bear and I were going to have some oatmeal). I measured the water, put it in the pan, turned the stove on high, and went to do something else for a few minutes. Something turned into another thing and within a couple of minutes I'd completely forgotten about that water on the stove. I guess at least 15 minutes elapsed before I went back into the kitchen and realized that the pot had boiled dry. This was not the first time I had boiled a pot dry (embarrassing though it is) so I turned off the burner and grabbed the pan to put some water in it and cool it down. I intended to use hot water, so as to not stress the metal so much. I was holding the pan in the air above the sink waiting for the faucet to warm up when I noticed something in the sink.

What the...?!?!

Then I noticed this
Apparently my stainless steel pan had an aluminum core (which makes sense, since aluminum conducts heat well). Apparently I had sufficiently overheated the thing so that the stainless steel bottom split on the seam and the liquid aluminum poured out.

I am grateful that it poured into my sink, and that I had very little in the sink at the time, and the only real victim (besides the pan) was one plastic-handled spoon.

I collected quite a nice little pile of aluminum blobs. (If you look just to the left of my ring here you can see the reverse print from the 'good cook' logo of the spoon.) I have no idea what to do with them, but it seems a shame to just toss them out...does anybody know what to do with a bunch of aluminum? I don't really want to heat it to the melting point again.

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