Monthly Archives: June 2007

So… how to get calcium into my non-dairy kids?

(Note:  Anyone who prays, please do for my family.  We’ve all been so sick the last two weeks, passing around at least two different illnesses.  I just got my son Ethan out of a bath of lukewarm/cool water… his temp had climbed to 103.6*, and that is WITH Advil in his system.  I’m now doubling up Tylenol & Advil… and with the bath, got him down to 99.6*.  That’s great, but what we really need is healing.) 

My baby, Audrey, who is nearly 15 months, has been dairy-free since she was about 5 weeks — when I found out that her digestive woes were tied to me, as a nursing mom, ingesting dairy.  I tried to give her dairy, starting with yogurt, at about 10 months, and she broke out in head-to-toe eczema.  No go.

When I realized that Audrey just couldn’t tolerate dairy at all, it made me think that maybe my 5yo son, Wesley, was having problems with dairy, too.  Wes has been gluten-free since we found out, at age 13 months, that he had celiac disease.  He has a list of about 8 other things to which he’s allergic and/or intolerant, but up until about March of this year, dairy wasn’t among them.  In fact, he lived on corn tortillas, chicken, and cheese.  But, his asthma had been growing steadily worse, and his pediatrician had been almost-pressuring us to medicate Wesley for it.  We had been over-using his SVN/nebulizer (which delivers an albuterol-containing mist to breathe), which should be used only 1-3 times a week;  Wesley needed it 1-3 times a day.

When we took Wesley off of ALL dairy, his asthma cleared up immediately.  He SVN usage went down to less than one time a week.  At the time of this writing, I think it’s been close to two weeks since we last used it.

We tried goat’s milk and sheep’s milk products for both Wes and Audrey.  Audrey broke out in eczema again, and it was apparent that it wasn’t going to work for her.  Wes tolerated it a little better;  his reaction to both sheep & goat milk is far less severe than it is to cow milk.  However, our goal is no wheezing and gasping, not just a little wheezing and gasping.

Since I do a lot of baking, I had also experimented to see if Wes could tolerate a *little* milk in baked goods.  He happily ate some gluten-free foccacia that was made with only 1/4 cup milk — but by the end of dinner, he was wheezing again.  No go.  So, we are no longer using any dairy for either child, which means that, pretty much, other than milk on cereal and for drinking for my hubby and two older boys, our whole family is dairy-free.

Wes already drank pre-packaged rice milk (he’s intolerant of soy)… but when it became apparent that Audrey would need it, too, and that I would need to bake with it, as well, I had to come up with a more nutritious milk-substitute. 

I did some experimenting, and came up with a rice milk recipe that is working rather well.  It approximates the dairy milk nutritional values of fat, carbs and protein.  However, I’ve been somewhat stymied about calcium.

There are a lot of calcium supplements out there, but the chewable ones are fairly expensive (though we are using this kind for Wes now).  Ideally, I’d like to add some calcium to the rice milk.  There are a bunch of varieties of dissolvable calciums out there… but the “plain” varieties I’ve found would add ONE DOLLAR per quart to just reach a 25% RDV level of calcium per cup, almost doubling the cost.  I purchased some liquid calcium that I calculated would add about $0.47/quart, which isn’t awful, cost-wise.  However, that is still more than I want to pay.  AND it is “acidified” which apparently helps with calcium absorbtion, but also lends to — at best — a yogurty taste to the rice milk, and — at worst — a slightly spoiled-milk taste.  Ick.

My next thought is to get some capsules of calcium, and see which ones dissolve in liquid, or at least, don’t make the rice milk gritty, but that could be an expensive experiment…  I don’t wanna pay $6 (or whatever) for a container of capsules that won’t work.  I mean, eventually, they’d get used — I take a LOT of calcium — but I want to find something that *works*.  And isn’t too much money. 


SAHMs unite for legitimacy!!

I LOVE this post by Tammy.

Truly, I feel very blessed, very pleased to do what I do — stay at home full time and homeschool my four children, and I rarely feel, nowadays, like I have to justify my existence.  However, I’ve often been in a setting where I know that my job is not viewed as “legitimate” by the person who has just asked me the question, “So, what do you do??”  It drives me nuts that American society holds a dim view of mothers who don’t have a “real” job.

A public school teacher assists the homeschooling mom

We have a friend of the family who we’ve known, but not closely, for more than five years (my mom has known him for even longer).  This past year, though, he and his wife hosted a Bible study to which my husband and I went.  They have a dog who will bark endlessly unless someone is with him, so they hired my 10yo son Ethan for the easiest job ever:  $5 to sit with the dog in the back bedroom for the 2 hours or so of the weekly Bible study. 

This man, Doug, has a degree in geology, and a Masters in education, and five years ago, retired from teaching high school science.  He has kept up an interest in archaeology, earth sciences, and in particular, geology.  He is a native Arizonan, and from his childhood, would comb the hills surrounding Phoenix for artifacts.  Most of the laws have changed now, and he can’t add much to his collection.  But what he does have is highly impressive.  Part of his house is like a Native American museum, and his garage is full of geologic samples.

When I found out that he was a retired public school teacher, I was a little hesitant to let on that I homeschool, as many teachers take a rather dim view of homeschooling.  But, eventually, it came up in conversation, and to my surprise, he proclaimed his full support of our family’s choice to educate our kids in this way.  In fact, I had to be careful, because it turned out that one of his favorite topics is All the Things Wrong with the Public School System, and he could get quite animated expressing his consternation and displeasure.  I really enjoy talking with Doug on this topic, and appreciate his been-there perspective, but I really don’t want to get him riled up more than necessary.

Doug became a good science ally for us this past school year, encouraging us both in our nature outings/field trips, and Ethan’s interest in archaeology, rocks and minerals.  In fact, every week, Doug would lay out 5-10 rock samples and an identification book, and whatever Ethan could identify (sometimes assisted by Doug’s hints), he could keep.  Ethan ended the year with 28 mineral samples of which he is immensely proud.  He keeps them in display cases, showing them off to whoever visits our home, rattling off the names of each, along with some facts about the rocks.

I recently decided to tailor Ethan’s coming 5th grade year science curriculum to encourage his interest in geology.  That post had some heated comments on the issue of old earth creationism vs. young earth creationism, which led to another post of mine on the topic.  In light of the situation, I decided to ask Doug to review the texts that I select for his scientific insight.  I am a recently-decided young-earther, and a committed Christian, but I never want it to be (accurately) said of me that I softened our science to promote either.  (BTW, I think I’ve decided what I’m going to purchase, but I haven’t gotten them yet.)

Now, I had assumed that Doug was an old-earther;  I knew that topic was a “hot button” kind of issue, and I didn’t want to potentially damage our relationship with a needless dispute, so I never brought it up.  However, I recently — very carefully — broached the topic with the motive to ask him to review our (half young-earth, half “standard” evolutionary) texts from a viewpoint opposing to mine.  Well, imagine my surprise when Doug animatedly started going off on old-earth science, stating that it was his contention — based on years of professional and personal study — that there is no way that the earth could be billions of years old, and that the only reasonable stance was that it was some-thousands of years old, and “obviously” created by God.  😛  Ha!

He did say that he has seen some material that is pro-creation, but with soft science.  He said, “If all they’re doing is quoting scripture verses as support for creation, well, that’s a waste of time.”  I agree.  But, he also said that too many standard texts present the theory of evolution as if it was a universally agreed-upon fact, and that’s not right, either.  I agree with that, too.

So, even though he and I are pretty much on the same page, I still want him to review our materials, which he is more than willing to do.  Yay!!!!

NOTE:  In my OEC/YEC post, there are several evolutionists/OECs who posed questions that I never did answer.  I’m rather weary of the topic, and, for now at least, need to move my brain power on to other things.  However, I will continue to visit the topic throughout the year, especially as we study more from a young-earth perspective in this coming year.            

Spam & Lost Comments

Every once in a while, someone will comment, and for some reason, it gets sent to my spam folder.  I would peruse my spam from time to time and rescue these real, non-spam comments.  I’m not going to do that anymore.  This is because I’m getting 150+ spams a day, and it’s just too time-consuming to go through, and because just skimming the spam leaves me slimed — I don’t even want to read the words, let alone visit the sites they’re advertising.  Ick.  😦 

So.  If anyone posts a comment and it does not show up, e-mail me and I’ll retrieve it out of the spam box.

Best cabin on the Grand Canyon North Rim??

For whoever is searching for the best cabin on the North Rim, and/or the locations of the cabins….  The cabins ARE very close to the edge — Numbers 309, 306, 305 and 301 are right on the very edge of the canyon.  The porch/patio of #301 and 306 look right out over the edge, and are by far the premier cabins.  However, they’re often booked a year in advance, so good luck with that.

The more expensive cabins (Western) are full log/timber construction, with a porch and rocking chairs, are a little more spread out and feature more attractive, natural landscaping.  The less expensive ones (Frontier) are part-timber, with no porches, and are really squeezed closely together.  However, they’re still steps away from the rim, some of them right on the rim, and right in the middle of the Canyon “action.”  The Pioneer cabins are rather in the middle, both features-wise, and pricewise.

Find the rates on this page — scroll to the bottom.  When we stayed there in May, we took whatever they had, and it was a Frontier cabin.  However, since the most expensive, nicest cabin is only $25/night more, the next time we go, if we can, we’re going to get one of the larger — and hopefully rim-facing — cabins.

From what I understand, in order to book a rim-facing cabin, you have to book over the phone, not online.  Find the phone numbers here — scroll down to Reservations. 

From the Xanterra website (manages the food/lodging at the Canyon), the more expensive “Western” cabins:

The Western Cabins  (ID:NR8043)

Shoe obsession. It starts young.

Speaking of shoes

My friend Shellie sent me a darling pair of white leather Mary Janes that are too big for Audrey.  The shoes were waiting patiently towards the top of Audrey’s closet until she spied them the other day when I’d left the closet door open.  She grunted her feminine little high-pitched, “Uh-ah!” with arms outstretched until I laughingly figured out that she wanted the shoes.  She had been content just carrying them around, but now she tries to put them on, picking up her foot and attempting to place it inside the shoe.

This is yesterday:  

  Trying on shoes (big)

In other news, we’re all fighting illness.  Last week, Audrey and Ethan were sick.  Then, Wes came down with a fever on Sunday.  Audrey got better, then a couple of days later came down with something else, and has been very congested with a fever, and is now throwing up (but I think that has to do with excess mucus, a cough, and a tender gag reflex)… and now Grant is running a fever.  Ugh.  Sadly, we had to cancel having some friends over today — a fairly new family to our church, who I already liked… but when I found out they homeschool, I liked ’em even better!  😉 

I am His Girl

Well.  I blogged a bit about the monthly discipleship meetings that our church is going to have for the 6-12yo girls, for which I will lead worship.  Also, I wrote a song, a theme song, of sorts, for it, all in one day.  It came to me fast.  The whole thing has been somewhat on hold, though, until I could play it for those who are heading up this event.  Last week, Audrey was sick, so I wasn’t at church, so I couldn’t play the song.  Yesterday, I finally got to play it for the “test audience” — Nancy (pastor’s wife), Brenda (friend and event curriculum writer), and Maggie (11yo electric guitarist) and Chloe (9yo).  Nancy’s response was, “I love it!  It’s perfect.”  They all liked it.  😛  Yay!!

Maggie thought she could play it, too.  She said she already knows D and A.  I showed her the C2.  We’re going to practice the song together as a team, and she’ll practice it on her own, and with her guitar teacher.

I’ve decided that it’s a lot less pressure to write music for kids…. they don’t care if a song has only three chords, as this one does (D, C2 & A).  They don’t care if it’s repetitive. 

That said, I still want it to be a good song, and to be relevant for its use.  I was anxious (a bit) about the song’s reception, not so much for ego’s sake, but because I want the song to be right.  I am so excited about the girls singing it.  I can hear it in my head, all their voices raised with heart-felt enthusiasm, singing about purity and being precious to God.

I thought I’d copy the lyrics here.  I really don’t care if anyone steals them.  It’s not like I’ve written it to be a money-maker, or anything like that. 

 I am His Girl

I am His girl
He has made me
God has made me
To show the world
Just how lovely
His creation can be

I am His girl
He has made me
God has made me
To show the world
Who my Jesus is
By the way that I live

I am His girl
He has made me
God has made me
To show the world
I’m His beauty
I’ll walk in purity

My heart stirred
When I heard
His never-failing word
Then I believed
He could save me
He came and washed me clean

I am His girl
He has shown me
God has shown me
And now I know
My heart is precious
He forgives when I confess it

I am His girl
He has shown me
God has shown me
And now I know
I’m made specially
He has a plan for me

I am His girl
He has shown me
God has shown me
And now I know
I can do all things
Through Jesus who strengthens me

I am His girl!!

Woo-hoo! It’s Jerry!! (and Colorado)

Last year, on our way back from visiting my husband Martin’s dad & stepmom in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, we stayed in a little corner of Colorado which is surely one of the loveliest river valleys in all of the U.S.  I fell in love.  I’m still in love.  I, who never want to stay in the same place twice, am thrilled that we are going to return there in late July.  The river just the right size — not too wide, not too stream-like.  The valley through which it flows is high in elevation, lovely and steep-sided, with little development, aspen, spruce and lush, green undergrowth abounding.

The area is along the Dolores River, north of the hamlet of Dolores.  The place where we stayed is called Circle K Ranch.  It fit our family perfectly — not fancy, not pricey, friendly staff, right on the river, family-friendly…  It also has a central lodge where everyone hangs out:  campers, lodgers, and ranch staff.  They have horses for trail rides (which we did not do) and flyfishing guides (we just non-fly fished with no guide).

While we were there last year, our then-4yo, Wesley, who is… uh… very particular about the people with whom he forms relationship, and in some situations, appears to be mute, fell immediately into adoration of a wrangler/trailguide — a 17yo Amish young man named Jerry.  (I blogged about it here and here.)  For the last year, Wesley has prayed (or had Martin or me pray) for Jerry nearly every day. 

Last year, we squeeeeeezed into a motel room — think old-fashioned, small, low-ceilinged room — one queen bed (on which the three boys slept) and one twin (on which Martin & I cozied).  It was cheap, but we ended up spending big $$ to eat at the lodge.  This year, we crunched the numbers, and figured out that, even with the grocery expenses added in, it would be less money to stay in a cabin there at Circle K, and do all (or at least most) of our own cooking. 

When booking our cabin today, I asked the guy on the phone (who, incidentally, remembered our family) if Jerry still works there.  He does!!

I told Wesley, and his response was, “Woo-hoo!!!  YES!  I knew it!  Jerry!!  My best friend!!”  Ah, the faith of a 5yo boy.  It’s enough to make a momma (and a daddy) cry.      

Thoughts on shoes

When I was a kid, it was one of my jobs to take care of my dad’s shoes.  He taught me carefully, using the Kiwi wax in the little circular tins, a bit of water, a clean cotton cloth, and a large horsehair brush.  I enjoyed it, actually, and he gave me a quarter for each pair.  I also took care of a pair of suede shoes he had, using a smaller stiff brush and a thing we called the “suede eraser”, which was a hard white eraser with bits of grit in it.

I have been looking *everywhere* for years for one of these erasers — Target, Wal-Mart, every specialty shoe shop and shoe repair shop I happen by.  Of course, as I type this, I realized I could have looked online for such a product, but it kills me to find a $3 product and then have to pay $7 shipping.

Anyways, last Saturday, while grocery shopping, I went down the non-food aisle.  As a rule, I never buy non-food items at the grocery store — prices are a lot better at Target.  However, we make allowance for certain things, like desparate need of toilet paper.  I had put the tissue into the cart, and wheeled back to resume my food purchases, when I stopped.  There, sandwiched between the emergency sewing items and the super glue was a huge shoe-care section!  Included was… duh-duh-duh-duh!  my suede eraser.  It was $5.99, which seemed a tad pricey, but I picked it up nonetheless.  (Seeing that the small kit is $7.99 on the Kiwi website makes me feel, now, that I got a great deal on it!)

This morning, I put the kit to use on some of Audrey’s shoes, and Ethan’s main pair, as well.  As I was erasing and brushing Ethan’s hiker-like shoes from Target, I thought, “Wow.  These shoes have held up pretty well, except for the laces!” (The laces were a loop of elastic, tightened by a toggle.  The elastic snapped in the first week.  I kept cutting off the frayed, broken spots, tying a knot in the remaining lace.  Finally, about a month ago, there wasn’t enough elastic to make one of the shoes functional, so I replaced the elastic with “regular” hiking laces from Wal-Mart.)  Then, it dawned on me that we’d gotten him these shoes around Christmas.  So, here I was, thrilled that a six-month pair of shoes were still in good shape.  That struck me as not quite right.

When I was a kid, I got three pairs of shoes every year:  At the start of the school year, I’d go with my mom to buy a pair of “Sunday shoes” and a pair of tennies.  Then, at the start of each summer, I’d get a pair of sandals.  By the end of the year, it was frequent that the shoes would be too tight, too small.  But I think I remember only one time when they actually wore out.  (I remember it fairly clearly, because they were a pair of black and silver Nikes that my mom had paid “good money” for that wore holes in the sole well before the year’s end, and my mom was not happy at all.)

I was a tomboy — I ran hard and fast, and did most of my playing outside.  Granted, I went barefoot a lot more often than my kids do, but still…  I was at least as hard, if not harder, on my shoes than they are.  Yet, they did not wear out.

Are shoes now just that much poorer in quality?  Do I buy shoes for my kids that are more cheaply made than my mom bought for me?  Or??  I’m not sure. 

We were really poor — really poor — when I was growing up.  But, I do remember that my mom insisted on buying higher quality, leather shoes for each of us.  I particularly remember trips to Buster Brown.  Maybe this was because she knew that they needed to last all year.


I find myself loathe to spend more than $15 on each pair of my kids’ shoes, shopping long and hard, comparing prices, and, yes, insisiting on leather.  But, maybe I need to suck it up and pay the $25-35 a pair that it would take to get them to last longer than six months.

Speaking of shoes, Audrey practically hyperventilates at the sight of shoes.  I don’t know where she got this;  maybe she got the girl-shoe-love gene from somewhere else in her ancestry.  I like shoes, and have a fair number of pairs.  But never have I been obsessive like she is.  As I cleaned a darling little red nubuck pair of hers, which she hasn’t worn in more than a month, as it’s been too hot, she clambered at my feet, trying to scale my legs and get onto my lap to get the shoes.  When that didn’t work, she stomped both feet, excitedly, making little high-pitched girl-grunt sounds, “Uh-ah!  Uh-ah!”  When I finally finished cleaning them, I gave them to her, and she carried them around her room, admiring (and chewing) them.


After looking online for that pic of her red shoes (which I, incidentally, got unused on eBay for $7.50, including shipping), I see that there are so many cute shoes that, really, aren’t super-expensive — for boys as well as girls.  Maybe I just need to do our shoe purchases online.    

Happy Fool Singalong Songs

Steve, over at Careful Thought, tagged me for a meme to name songs to which I’ll make a happy fool of myself, singing along to.  This had me combing through stacks of CDs thinking, “Well, isn’t singing along almost a requirement??”  It’s hard for me to NOT sing along.  However, I chose eleven anthemic songs that suit my range and allow for all-out, gut-busting sessions in the truck.  (Is it the acoustics in a truck?  The privacy?  Whatever, singing in the Suburban is certainly highly satisfying.) 

Most of Steve’s were from the 70s.  Most of mine are 80s and 90s.  There’s a mix of stuff in there, from folk to punk, Christian to… highly skeptical of Christianity.  I didn’t include any true worship songs, which could be a whole ‘nother meme altogether.  (Though “Hands of Kindness” comes close.) 

I could easily have chosen 20 or 30 more, but here are the ones I picked (30-second clips linked from Amazon):

Whom to tag?  That is the question.  How ’bout Sara, Erin, and Iain (who apparently needs a swift kick to stimulate his blogging efforts, the slacker!). 

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