Monthly Archives: May 2009

Disobedience. It starts young.

This morning, Fiala and I were cuddling in bed.

She usually sleeps through the night, but the last week, as she’s been sick, she’s woken several times in discomfort, then she wants to nurse.  When she’s healthy and wants to eat in the middle of the night — which is rare, but still happens occasionally — I just feed her in bed.  But, when she’s sick and I have to get the bulb syringe and suck out her nose, I figure if I’m going to have to get up and go into the family room to do that, I might as well just nurse her out there…. Then, I lay my head back… then, the next thing I know my hubby’s tapping me on the arm and it’s 3 a.m. and both Fiala and I are sound asleep on the couch.

So, this morning, it was 7:00, at which time I would normally be up — it just feels wrong to be in bed past 7:00 — and Fiala and I were still lounging, and I was still very, very sleepy.

Martin came over periodically to coo and smile and play with her a bit.  Fiala just adores her Daddy.  😀

Time was slipping away, though.  I knew my hubby wanted to leave home by 7:00, and it was getting later.  But, a chubby, loving, squinchy-faced baby is so very appealing and attractive.  Like a magnet, he kept coming over to her, in various, very-slowly progressing stages of readiness.

“Stop being so cute!  I need to go to work!”

Fiala responded by babbling happily, wriggling her whole body in excitement and love, squishing up her nose and smiling the biggest, gummy smile ever, with the quick breaths of someone who is almost laughing, they’re just happy all over.

Martin, with mock severity, “You’re not obeying!”

Teeth, intimidation, hype, LDS moms, shaping up, and summer

  • Little Fiala is sick.  The doctors warned us, when she got RSV earlier this year, that we needed to be careful, as even a simple cold can wind up in her lungs.  That appears to have been correct advice, because she’s had a little cold twice since having RSV, and we end up having to put her on the SVN/breathing machine because she labors so to breathe.  She came down with muck on Friday, and it seems like the worst of it was yesterday.  So, bless God she’s improving.  I just feel badly for her.  😦
  • She’s also teething another tooth.  In early April, she cut the bottom central left and right incisors, just like “normal” babies.  Then, last week, she cut her upper left lateral incisor.  Now, this morning, I notice she’s cut her right central incisor.  My girls just teethe out of order, I guess.
  • My friend Lori let me know that an old friend was interested in contacting me.  She’s a now a lawyer.  I wrote to Lori:  “A lawyer? Golly.   I get intimidated by women who have professional careers.   Seriously.  I absolutely love what I’m doing, and have no regrets.  I don’t feel like I took some kind of wrong turn and wound up as a homeschooling SAHM.  I’m totally doing what I want to do. But, OTOH, I feel badly that I never finished college and have to fight feeling like a loser around professional women. Ugh.”  I’m not soliciting, “You are not a loser, Karen!” comments.  I promise.  I’m just bein’ honest.  (Hi, Chrissy!!)
  • Hype.  It makes me mad.  Like, really upset.  Propaganda.  It’s why I’m so slow to jump on wagons of various colors, no matter what’s inside ’em.  I want to make sure something’s worth my while, and it’s not just a scare-tactic, or a fad, or whatever.  Societal pressure.  I will always resist.  There was a blog post I read today that had wrong — just totally incorrect — information on it, and there were 40+ comments on it, with 95% of the responders ready to jump ship based upon the wrong information.  Ugh.  Bugs me.  So, I posted a comment as a reply to someone who pointed out the errors, agreeing with her… but then I feel like a heel, like I’m just being an argumentative jerk.
  • What does giving birth feel like? Wow.  Great post, FANTASTIC comments on a brilliant blog — that of a woman who now has her doctorate, and has birthed two babies at home, one unassisted, and who mostly blogs about birth and pregnancy.  Love, love, love the comment from “man-nurse.”  Awesome.  I commented, too.  I don’t usually comment on blogs whose posts typically generate 20, 40, 100 comments each.  It just seems like I’m always late to the party, or never got the invite, like it’s a clique for which I don’t quite qualify.  However, on Rixa’s blog, I can’t help myself;  I’m frequently compelled to comment.  Hers is seriously the best natural child birth blog out there that I’ve found, and there’s a lot of ’em.
  • One other thing, only vaguely related to the above bullet (since Rixa is LDS) — and this will likely offend, though that is sincerely not my intent.  It’s this:  I have serious mixed feelings about LDS/Mormonism.  There are many factors of the religion itself with which I vehemently disagree.  However… I have observed that many Mormon women are… how do I say this?  Actively preserving and celebrating the loveliness and power of womanhood, wifehood, motherhood, and usually with a natural, handcrafted bent.  I live in an area that has a high Mormon population.  It’s likely that if I see a sweet family with well-groomed children and a sane mother and a doting father… it’s a Mormon family.  Several families on my boys’ baseball team this spring were LDS, and I so enjoyed talking with one of the moms (mother to four boys).  The LDS moms with whom I’ve had even a bit of relationship — even if it’s just chatting every time we both have our kids at the neighborhood park — seem to be proactive in providing the best they can for their children, in being industrious, entrepreneurial in ways that don’t disrupt family life, supportive of their husbands…  You know… all that Proverbs 31 stuff.  Well, they’re actually doing it.  And, it’s nice talking to women who don’t give me the extremes of either, “Five kids!  You’re a saint!  You must have such patience!” or, “Five kids?  Don’t you know what causes that?  It was an accident, right?”
  • I am on a mission to get back in shape.  Soon.  😀  I have only twice in in my life been on any kind of diet.  (For three months I did a Body for Life challenge with my husband about eight years ago, and then I did about 10 weeks of South Beach diet when I was pregnant with Fiala.)  I actually weigh less than I did before I got pregant with Fiala, and the same as before I got pregnant with Audrey.  But, the weight now seems to have become distributed in a less kind way.  I’m not fond of stuff pudging over the top of my waistband.  Ugh.  Plus, I just don’t feel totally healthy.  I have some weights, a step, and The Firm DVDs, and I’m planning on using that.  I’d rather get out and run, but it’s really hard to do that consistently.  I’ll go back on South Beach, which is basically how I eat now, but a bit less of it, and with absolutely no refined sugar.  ~sigh~  The only thing I’ll really miss is chocolate.  I have a semi-sweet chocolate chip addiction.  Anyways.  I plan on starting on Monday, which is the first official day of Real Summer for the family.
  • Speaking of summer, it’s so funny — I had to remind the boys at the breakfast table this morning that now that summer is nearly upon us, that I expect them to play outdoors before they do their chores!!  😀  Seriously.  They need to run around and be loud.  They need “green therapy” among the grass and leaves.  But when you live somewhere that reaches 100° by 9:00 in the morning… well, you have to get a little creative about fitting that in.  I am SO NOT into them vege-ing in front of the TV all summer.
  • I usually have our summer vacation planned by now.  I don’t.  Actually, I checked into the one place I really, really, really have wanted to go camping for the last three years now.  It’s in central California.  Guess what?  It’s closed.  It burned last fall.  😮  What a bummer, all the way around.  We’ll have to figure something else out.  I really, really, really 😉 want to go camping, but my hubby groans about the labor involved.  However, camping is a LOT cheaper than even staying in a cheap cabin, like we did last summer, so maybe he’ll be swayed over to The Camping Side.  We’ll see.  I love planning our family trips.  🙂  No matter what we decide on, I always LOVE planning.  I adore the hunt and anticipation of finding the right spot for us.

It really is a small world after all. (The new friend.)

OK, so maybe it’s a bit premature in calling her a friend. But, I’m hopeful. 😉

In the dentist’s office on Thursday last week, I got into a little conversation with another waiting mom.  Turns out she has three boys and one girl.  The ages of her children are almost exactly like my kids, minus Fiala.  She is planning on homeschooling all her kids in the fall.  (I feel so badly — I cringe! — that I laughed over why you can start, finally!  That was awful.  Awful.  Please forgive me.)  She’s a Christian.  She lives relatively close by to me.  She has a blog on WordPress.  And, in talking with her, she has a diagnosed wheat allergy, that, from what I can tell, sounds like undiagnosed celiac disease.  Wow.

Divine appointment, surely.

Cool, eh?

My one concern about homemade laundry detergent

Some of you may remember that I decided to start making my own laundry detergent, mostly to help my now-7mo baby Fiala.  I was really sold on the idea when I saw how cheap it was to do so!!  Even though the new detergent has only partially healed her skin (her body is now 90% healthy, creamy skin, but her face is still really bad), I’m still loving my homemade detergent, one month into the experiment.

I still can’t believe that a mere 2 tablespoons will clean an entire, dirty load of laundry, and clean it well.  I still do an extra rinse with 1/2 cup of white vinegar.  But, even with the vinegar, it’s running me roughly $0.16 per load.  That’s amazing, and a savings of fifty cents per load.

About every other load, I will find a piece of clothing with a really bad stain, and will pre-treat it.  And, about once every three loads, I will come upon a piece of clothing that had a stain (pre-treated or not) that did not come out during normal laundering.  But, all in all, the vast majority of my clothing — THREE BOYS, remember!  plus a crazy 3yo girl and a baby — is coming out completely fresh and clean.

My ONE concern is this:  I used to empty the lint filter in my gas dryer once every 3-4 loads.  Now, I have to empty it every 1-2 loads.  My laundry appears to be producing twice as much lint as before.  Does this mean that the homemade detergent is causing the fibers to wear down more quickly?  I don’t know.  There are other theories, I suppose, as to what might be producing the extra lint.  But, even if our clothes wear out a tad faster than with store-bought detergent, I’m still sticking with my homemade.

NEW AND IMPROVED (really!) Gluten-free granola

My favorite breakfast when I was a kid was granola mixed with yogurt.  Well, that and hot rice pudding.  Anyways.  A couple of years ago, I was seduced by an attractive package of Enjoy Life Foods’ Very Berry Crunch Granola.  As I reviewed at that time, it was absolutely awful, completely inedible, and I threw the rest of the package out.

Enjoy Lifes Very Berry Granola -- IMPROVED!!

Enjoy Life's Very Berry Granola -- IMPROVED!!

On Saturday night, I was grocery shopping, and saw the package again, nominally on sale ($4.39 instead of $4.49) with a $0.55 coupon that I knew my grocery store would double to $1.00 off.  I normally don’t spend more than $3 on a box of gluten-free cereal, but I decided to give it a shot, since the coupon proclaimed, NEW & IMPROVED!!!

Wow.  They aren’t kidding.  The new formula doesn’t even bear a passing resemblance to its old self;  the new granola is completely different.  It’s absolutely… granola-like.  Light, smaller clusters, a mix of crunchy textures.  I mixed it with yogurt when I was done grocery shopping, and was extremely pleased.

As far as granola flavor goes, it’s a little bit one-dimensional, since Enjoy Life products are not only gluten-free and dairy-free, they’re nut-free, and free of just about any allergen you can think of.  So, this particular flavor is – just – berry, both with berry bits and natural berry flavor.  But, that’s more of a function of being allergen-free;  it’s not really a problem with the cereal itself.  If you want a bit more variety, sprinkle on some raisins and almonds, or something like that.

The next morning, I tried the cereal with rice milk, and it was like rice overload, since most of the ingredients in the granola are rice-derived.  I think it would taste better with either dairy milk or soy milk, or some other non-rice milk/drink.

Still.  Very good, very much worth buying (especially on sale with a coupon).

Thank you, Enjoy Life, for listening to consumer feedback and reformulating your product!!

Salad dressing so good you could eat it with a spoon (and a few thoughts on how you dress your salad may reveal your social class)

Salad cream.”  Sounds awful, doesn’t it?  It is.  I’ve traveled twice to Scotland, and I don’t know if this is true of all the U.K.*, but everywhere we went, there was ONE salad dressing, and it was like Thousand Island without the relish, a gloppy travesty to put atop the most wonderful vegetables I’ve eaten anywhere.  My salads went bare.  Good veggies deserve a good dressing.  Even mediocre veggies can be made palatable by a good sauce.

I will buy grocery store standards if I can get a screamin’ deal on them.  I bought two bottles of Kraft dressing last night for $0.17 each, due to a sale plus a coupon.  It’s hard to pass that up, especially when I know that my 11yo son will likely hyperventilate with joy over the Bacon Ranch that’s now chilling in our fridge.  However, my love is for all natural, somewhat quirky dressing flavors that Kraft and Wishbone would never dream of producing.

Into the dressing discussion enters my son Wesley.  Due to serious digestive issues, Wesley can eat no gluten and no dairy.  It’s fairly easy to find gluten-free dressing, but gluten-free and dairy-free poses a challenge.  Rather, it poses a challenge if you’re 7 years old and don’t like vinaigrettes.  His standard dressing for a good 2+ years has been a store brand, Kroger’s Private Selection Honey Dijon.  It used to be $2.99 a bottle, often going on sale for $2.00 – 2.50.  I can handle that.  However, its price has recently shot through the roof, and is now normally priced at $4.39.  I refuse to pay that much for salad dressing, no matter how spectacular it is.  So, I’ve been on an especial hunt for a good gluten-free, dairy-free salad dressing that is not too vinegar-y, is creamy, tasty, and preferably all-natural.

I found one!  Maybe it doesn’t sound like a big deal to you, but for a boy whose diet is severely restricted, and is picky with what he can eat, on top of what he can’t eat, to switch salad dressing allegiances is nothing short of miraculous.

Following is a glowing review of Briannas ‘The New American Dressing.’  Before I get to that, though, I want to address a couple of things:

  1. What’s with the apostrophe avoidance???  Did some marketer tell them, “Those dumb Americans.  They don’t know how to use punctuation, and possessives positively confuse them… If you keep the apostrophe in your company’s name, it will surely drive away customers, because they’ll think you’re too biggety.  Cut it, OK?”  So, now it’s Briannas — which brings to the imagination twenty girls named Brianna, making salad dressing in a factory — instead of Briannas, which would be a company named for its creator, or the owner’s daughter or something.  Like Wendy’s.  Or, even better — plural possessive — Bashas, which is a local grocery chain — owned by a number of people with the last name of Basha — that makes me want to shop there just to support them sticking to their punctuation guns.  Hey, Briannas:  this book is for kids, but you might wanna check it out.
  2. And, what presumption!!  Everyone salad-eating American knows what Italian dressing is, or even French dressing.  There are other standards, too, like blue cheese and ranch.  However, it’s my guess that Italian dressing did not establish itself by a bunch of Italian guys banding together, coming up with a recipe, then hiring a marketing company to promote its new product as “The” Italian dressing.  So… I find it a bit off-putting that Briannas has decided, on our behalf, that as Americans, this will be our dressing.  It’s kind of like crafting your own nickname, and trying to make it stick.  Didn’t George show us, lo these many years ago, that such action is folly (“The Maid” — episode 19)?

Anyways.  Despite its wanton disregard for punctuation, and presumptive naming practices, Briannas has crafted a dressing that is just about perfect.  It is tangy without tasting solely of vinegar; a bit sweet (from honey!) without tasting like you’ve dumped liquid candy on your lettuce; the perfect consistency — slightly thickened, but not gloppy (and creamy yet not containing dairy!); all-natural, made without gluten- or milk-derived ingredients, though not actually labelled as gluten-free or dairy-free.

It meets with both my hearty approval, and my 7yo son’s, too.  He puts it on his salad.  And his chicken.  And his carrots.  He’d eat it with a spoon, if we’d let him.

The price is at least reasonable.  Though it is $4.19 at my “regular” grocery store, it’s only $2.99 at the natural grocery I go to every couple of weeks, and where I found it on sale for only $2.00 a few weeks ago.

It may or may not become the standard American dressing, but its a new standard in our home.  Yum.

———–

* According to my favorite British blogger, salad cream usage is tied to social class:

The UK has changed a lot as far as food goes – but it’s quite amazing how much of it is still down to social class. … My parents, who were from the North of England, used salad cream.  I loved it as a child but would regard it as an utter horror to put salad cream anywhere near a salad now.  I’ll either use nothing or a plain olive oil/lemon/ground black pepper type thing dressing.  Or just a little olive oil.  With balsamic vinegar, perhaps.  But usually nothing.  You certainly won’t find salad cream in any London restaurants (not even the chains like Pizza Express) though you will find it in McDonalds.  Basically, the middle classes within the M25 stopped using salad cream a long time ago.

I’m not surprised at this, either

Click to view my Personality Profile page
I’ve known for a number of years, actually, that I’m an ISTJ.  I’m not quite as dependable as a full-blown ISTJ.  I have too much “P” in me.  😀  But, I sure feel badly — AWFULLY — about it when I let anyone down!!!  I also have a tad more creativity than most ISTJs, and I have enough “P” — or something — that I really, really resist going with the flow, getting in a rut, doing the same thing as everyone else, etc., which is something that ISTJs usually don’t mind.

This may sound ridiculous, but this kind of test saved my marriage and my sanity.  I went from swaying back and forth between the extremes of, “I’m right and he’s wrong” to, “There’s something wrong with me!  I must be seriously messed up!!!” to understanding that there are different ways to recharge, take in information, process it, value it, etc.  And, not one of them are RIGHT;  we’re just all different.  True to type, this test (Jungian or Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator) became an extremely useful tool in understanding myself and those around me.

Fun.

Thanks to Sue for the widget on her sidebar for reminding me about this!!

Nervous Nelly

So.  On my eBay account right now, I am selling a really expensive guitar for my father-in-law.  I have never sold anything near that expensive on eBay.  He doesn’t have an account, and wasn’t really familiar with the process.  My hubby asked me to list it for him, and at first, I balked, because I knew it would take me a good three hours.  It took more, especially when I take into account all the communication back and forth to get all the details straight, and to request more info about this or that…

Then, mostly due to my unfamiliarity with the guitar itself, I listed it with a few details incorrect, and I had to pull the listing, which cost me/him/us almost $30 for the nonrefundable reserve price.  Ugh.  I went round and round with eBay, because it seems to me that I should be able to change a few words on my listing, even if there are already bidders, if the reserve price isn’t met.  Since the reserve is not met, we are not under obligation to sell, and the buyer is not under obligation to buy.  Conversations with only vaguely helpful eBay support, both on the phone, and in live chat, was more time wasted invested.

Also, though my FIL and I get along really well, we’ve had a few moments where I’ve had to try to ask him some things, or explain something, and I really need “X” kind of answer, and he supplies me with a “Y” answer and that’s good enough for him — “Don’t worry!” he says — but for me, being more familiar with eBay, and being responsible for a $3,000 purchase that someone else is making, well, golly, that does make me nervous, and I would like to have as exacting information as possible.  So, I’m trying to be both as diplomatic and kind as possible, while being firm in my request, and I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing either diplomacy or firmness.

I have never been so nervous about a listing in my life.  I feel like there are relationship issues at stake, not just money stuff.  Know what I mean?  Yet, I really want to help him out…

The bidding is up high, but it hasn’t quite reached the reserve price.  I just hope it sells because I’d really like this experience to be over with.

I’m not surprised

I had to answer many of the 10 questions hypothetically, since I don’t have a teen with a phone.  Or even a teen.

It used to bother me that my husband was… umm… so merciful with the kids.  I thought we needed to present more of a united front, enforcing the rules, being consistently consistent, etc.  I’m sure the kids are thankful that I realized a number of years ago that their lives would be totally miserable if both Martin and me parented the same way, and that they need that mercy…  and fart noises at the table, too. 😀

Thanks to Christy for the fun little quiz!

“Summer” reading: Parenting books!

I actually just posted this, just a bit ago, as a comment in response to Melanie’s request for parenting book suggestions, but I thought it would make a good blog post, too.  (I edited it slightly from its original form.)

I do have a few parenting books, but I must say that I have not read many of them cover-to-cover.  Here’s my problem:  It’s hard for me to sift the wheat from the chaff.  Sometimes I read a book, and it might be like, “Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. NO!” and then the “no” part ruins my perspective on the “yes” part.   It throws into question everything else in the book, for me.  So… then I “have” to go back to the Bible, to discussions with my husband, and from advice and encouragement from other mothers whom I respect.  I think I do better with examples in real life than from books.

I did read some Ezzo stuff (cover to cover) before my oldest was born, and while many of the things we implemented from there were very effective, and we continue to this day (like the eat, wake, sleep cycle), I don’t agree with their, “You WILL toe the line” approach. They have a one-size-fits-all attitude, and I have seen that that doesn’t work, especially for kids who have learning disorders. I get the impression that they think that even learning disorders are rooted in the child’s sin, and I just don’t agree with that. In fact, treating my son Grant’s behavior as all rebellion/sin when he was younger just about destroyed our relationship, and I’m glad we got some intervention and a diagnosis that he actually had a LD, and that gave mercy to our parenting of him, which may have saved his life. (Honestly. An alarmingly high percentage of kids with his LD commit suicide because they live in a world where they feel/are completely misunderstood.) He had — at four years old — developed the perspective that, truly, we didn’t love him. Ack. Since that time, I have strayed more and more from the Ezzo approach.

I have gotten more out of one parenting class I took as part of the second hour of a Bible study (it was group the first hour, classes the second hour, not that that matters all that much!!!) when Ethan, who is now nearly 12, was about one. And, I have spent a LOT of time in conversation about parenting with a friend of mine, Brenda, whose oldest is a year older than mine.

Both the class and Brenda took many of their directives from Tedd Tripp’s Shepherding a Child’s Heart.  It’s funny — the book almost invariably gets either five stars or NO stars from reviewers.  It’s pro-spanking, so that seems to be the reason.  It also comes from the perspective that children have a sin nature, which many people don’t believe (I do!), and they find the author’s wording to that effect offensive.  I have never read the book — if I didn’t know Brenda, and if I hadn’t taken that Bible study class, I might be dissuaded by some of the negative reviews.  But, I have seen the beautiful fruit, in the lives of their children, produced by Brenda and her husband, and the teacher’s children.  So, just based on that, I’d recommend the book.  I do though, definitely agree that spanking is not the ONLY effective form of discipline, and there are many times where spanking is not appropriate.  Spanking doesn’t work for every issue, and it’s always my goal to find discipline that WORKS.

I started to read a book last summer: Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel, and got about 1/3 of the way through it.  Honestly, I stopped reading it partly because everything he said, I replied, “Yes, I agree with that. Agree. Check. Yup.”  And it felt like I wasn’t gaining any new ground.  Much of the book, if not all of it, deals directly with the parents’ attitudes, and how that affects how we deal with our children. However, it was a good confirmation to me of the grace of God and the changing effect that my husband and my church have had on my attitudes about parenting… I mean, I grew up in a VERY legalistic home, and there was many things where I said to myself, “I will not do that as a parent,” but I needed to fill the void with something better that what had been modeled to me.  I still feel like I have a long way to go, but Grace-Based… confirmed to me that a) I was right to set aside some of the things I did, and b) what I have picked up in its place was good. I did find some of the book hard to read, just because it brought up bad memories of my childhood.

A book that I have that I have not yet read is Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in you and your kids by Scott Turansky. Again, I haven’t read it, but it’s funny — a friend quoted from it semi-recently in her blog, and I was like, “YES. That is so true,” without realizing at first that it was from that book.

So… it looks like I need to read my own suggestions, and read them all the way through.  I’ve put them on my “summer reading list” — I put it in quotes, because it seems like I have LESS time over the summer to read. :D

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