Monthly Archives: November 2009

Birdie love

Just a teensy note to say that I love bird migration.  I just had a mini-flock of four Oregon Dark-Eyed Juncos in my side yard, and it made me very happy.


Thanksgiving and other stuff

  • Post-post Thanksgiving breakfast?  Bacon, cranberry sauce, and homemade yeast rolls.  Mmmm.
  • My mom said my wild rice stuffing was the best wild rice stuffing she had ever had.  I glowed.
  • Fiala’s face is chewed up with bad eczema sores still, since the outing my husband and I had for our anniversary.  I explained her medical plight way-too-many times to concerned extended family (and family friends) who inquired about her face.
  • HOWEVER, in the most encouraging news in almost three months of The Total Elimination Diet “Adventure,” I had decided in advance that Fiala and I would eat a normal Thanksgiving dinner and just suffer the consequences, rather than bringing garbanzo flour and lamb meat to my in-laws.  😮  In what might be TMI, she has since had 100% totally healthy poop.  Previously, any time I veered even a tiny bit from the TED “safe” foods, she would get green, mucous-filled poop immediately.  Now, obviously, she is still having major skin issues, so I am not yet ready to abandon the TED, but her having normal poop after eating a normal (gluten-free) meal leaves me HIGHLY encouraged.
  • We did not go to our appointment with the pediatric g.i. doc on Friday the 20th.  This is a point of disagreement between my husband and I.  I would have liked to keep it.  However, I totally understand his point:  We spent near $1000 on near-countless visits to the pediatric allergist, what with $50 co-pays, medication, and childcare for those doctor visits.  Fiala was subjected to a variety of uncomfortable tests.  For that $1000 and our sweet baby’s discomfort, we were given very little useful information from a doctor who eventually dropped us, saying he couldn’t be of any more help.  The MOST effective thing, so far, has been the TED which, other than the cost of food, is free.  My husband’s stance is, “Why subject her to countless tests and spend a bunch of money to get iffy results?”  MY contention is that perhaps through some tests, we could get a better handle on how to proceed, instead of just guessing.  Obviously, this issue is not yet resolved.  I’m holding off on pushing one way or another, though, until at least after Christmas.
  • On Wednesday, we got a notice of “no show” from the ped g.i.  This was after I TWICE canceled the appointment with more than enough advance notice.  Grr.  I’ll have to take it up with them on Monday.

Spiced Yams (not too sweet!!) recipe

My 8yo son could live on these yams, if I let him.  Yams, sweet potatoes, whatever.  There’s debate about what’s what, and I’m not entirely sure who is right.  All I know is I like the yams with the bright orange flesh and coppery exterior, known as Beauregard Yams.

My recipe is not as sweet as candied yams — they’re just right.  Yams are a perfect dish for making ahead.  They reheat perfectly, taste fabulous as leftovers, and can keep in a hot oven along with other foods that are baking or staying warm almost indefinitely.

Spiced Yams
makes 10 servings

3-4 lbs yams
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
3-4 Tbsp butter or Earth Balance (our favorite dairy-free spread)

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Rinse, peel, and cut yams into 1/2″ – 3/4″ cubes.  (This step will take you the longest — yams are very dense!)
  3. Mix brown sugar, allspice, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl.
  4. Put cubed yams into a 2.5 quart covered bakeware/casserole dish (medium/large) and sprinkle brown sugar mixture on top.
  5. Dot with teaspoon-sized chunks of butter or Earth Balance.
  6. Cover and bake for 60 minutes.  Stir gently, then bake for an additional 20 minutes.
  7. Enjoy!!



We have a double kids’ collapsible chair, TIGER PRINT, given to us by a friend.  I don’t know what it is about girls and animal prints, but Audrey loves this chair.  We recently moved it into her room.  It makes me happy when Fiala crawls up into the chair, and the girls sit together.  My sister and I did NOT get along until we were teenagers, and my parents didn’t do anything, really, to foster better relationship between the two of us.  I do my best to encourage good relationship between my little girls, though, plus, they just seem to naturally get along well.  😀

The prophetic, ballerinas, guitar, and investing in others

So, a few weeks ago, in kinship (sort of like a midweek Bible study), during ministry time, the leader, Jonathan, came over to pray for me.  During that time, he said something like, “I see you as a ballerina, like a Russian ballerina, with a bunch of little girls around you, learning from you.”  Only maybe 20 minutes later, a young woman in the kinship named Amy came up to me and said, “I have a guitar that’s actually my mother’s, but she said I could use.  Would you teach me to play?”

Now, normally, I think I would resist.  I am SO NOT an expert guitar player*.  I am mostly self-taught, and I have some bad habits**, and I mostly play guitar just to have something to accompany my voice — the best guitar players are the other way around:  they play to accompany someone else’s voice.  But… do I know more than Amy?  Yes***.  Can I at least get her started?  Yes.  She doesn’t even know how to change strings and tune up her guitar…  So, tonight, which is our first meeting, that’s where we’re starting:  Putting some fresh strings on and tuning.  If we get to it, I printed off a few pages of simple music theory and chord charts.  I told her that if she was willing to make the drive out to my house, and accommodate my tricky schedule, I’d give her lessons for free, once every two weeks.  Because she’s not paying me, that releases me from all sorts of pressure.

I have long been hesitant to be a LEADER, to step into any kind of role with authority and responsibility.  I also get fearful of disappointing people, like if they have certain expectations of me that I can’t live up to.  But, I think that it’s time to stop avoiding leadership due to fear, and invest in someone besides my own self.  Plus, the connection between Jonathan’s word over me and Amy’s request was undeniable.

I’m looking forward to tonight’s meeting with Amy.  I told her to come with her guitar, her new strings, and to trim the nails on her left hand VERY short.  Even though I’m not REALLY a ballet virtuoso (or whatever they’re called), I’m excited about seeing the prophetic put into action.  🙂


* I do, however, have a strong voice and I lead worship in that kinship.

** Like keeping my left thumb looped over the top of the fretboard so that I can quickly pick up the F# when I play a D.  But, this leads to difficulty in shifting to barre chords, because my thumb is in the wrong place… added with my weak hands (or something) that results in me perennially avoiding barre chords;  I will transpose just about any song and throw on a capo so I can keep playing in 1st position.

*** I also told Amy that if I teach her guitar, it will specifically be guitar for worship, not Awesome Shredder Fame-on-a-Stage guitar playing.  The motivation for those two kinds of guitar playing are SO different, and it informs what and how you learn.  She was all right with that.  It’s what she wanted.

In which I get coerced in the Asian market

Every week or two, I visit a gigantic, fun, confusing grocery called Lee Lee Market.  Ostensibly, it’s an Asian market, meaning all of Asia, as they have aisles for Japan, Korea, China, Thailand and more.  Additionally, they have food from Africa, Mexico, Spain, South America, the Middle East (which I guess is technically Asia) and… Holland.  Why Holland?  I don’t know.  But, there’s an entire half-aisle of foodstuffs with labels in Dutch.

I don’t go for the Dutch food;  I get things like fresh veggies (there are about 10 different varieties of bok choy), gluten-free rice snacks from Japan, and garbanzo flour — I have officially graduated to the ten pound sacks!  I also buy lamb at Lee Lee.  Though it’s frozen, Lee Lee has the best prices and selection of lamb that I’ve found, including thinly sliced boneless leg roasts, which we call Lamb-Umms.  Most recently, I went to Lee Lee for rice.

Last time I went to Lee Lee, I had looked for plain white long grain rice, and oddly enough, I couldn’t find it.  I found all sorts of OTHER rice, but not your regular run-of-the-mill white.  (For the record, our family is split between white rice and brown rice lovers.  I’m in the brown rice camp, but I’ll still serve white rice to delight those who like it.  However, I’m still on the total elimination diet with Fiala, and she and I get to eat none of it.)  While I shopped in vain, I kept thinking, “C’mon!  It’s an ASIAN market.  Why don’t they have plain rice???”

This most recent trip, I figured out my error.  I was looking amongst the normal aisles of food.  Rice is in a corner towards the front of the store, in the BULK FOODS section.  Ten, twenty, fifty pound sacks of all sorts of varieties of rice.  Rice, rice, and more rice.

So, there I stood, contemplating the dizzying array, trying to compare prices (I was a bit baffled by the price signs, which didn’t seem to match the selection very well).  I gravitated towards a 10 lb bag of basmati rice in a lovely burlap sack.  However, being that it was in burlap and the writing was mostly not in English, I couldn’t figure out if it was brown rice or white.  I saw a little tag added with cooking directions, probably for the benefit of Americans.  I thought, “OK.  If the directions say ‘cook for 45 minutes’ it’s probably brown.  Ten-twelve minutes, it’ll be white.”

As I set about my investigation, a short older lady sidled up to me.  Helpfully, she asked, “Do you know how to cook rice?”

I insisted that I did, and explained my situation, asking her if she knew if it was white or brown.

“Oh, it’s white rice.  You’re looking to buy rice, then?”

Yes, I certainly was.

Found a pic!! This is my rice!

She gently grabbed my arm and steered me further down the piles of sacks.  “Then this is the rice you want.”  She lovingly laid her hand on a dayglo orange bag of rice.  I saw the word “parboiled” on the label.  Out of politeness, I inspected the bag, but I was doubtful.

I turned to her husband, who lingered nearby, “You like this rice, too?”

“Oh, yes.  We drive here all the time, just for this rice.  My wife won’t buy any other kind.”

Peering at the image on the front of the bag, I asked, still unsure, “Is the rice yellow, like in the picture?”

“Yes.  Well, no.  More like golden.  Well, more like off-white.  The grain is yellow, maybe ivory-colored, but it cooks up off-white.”

I was not convinced.  I had been holding a bag, but set it down again.  She looked disappointed.

Sweetly, the lady continued, in a confiding tone, “We’re from Afghanistan.  We eat rice with every meal.  If you serve a meal to someone from Afghanistan, and there is no rice, they will ask you, ‘Where is the rice?’  When you make this rice, you will know by the aroma.  You will make it, and the aroma will rise into the air, and your family will be drawn into the kitchen and say, ‘Oh, that aroma…’  When it is cooking, you will know that it is good rice.  The right rice.”

Who could argue with that???  😀

With a last longing glance at the handsome burlap sack, I hefted the 10 lb orange, zipper-topped sack into my cart, thanking her for her advice.  “Upon your recommendation, I will try it.”

“Oh, your family will love it.  I am sure,” she smiled.

I perused the overhead labels;  I didn’t want to buy a $30 bag of rice.  As best as I could tell, it was about $12.  That’ll do.

The label has various words in English:  Royal King Sella Parboiled Basmati.  In searching fruitlessly for a picture, I’ve found that “sella” refers to golden rice.  It is not quite golden, but it is off-white.

I’m not sure where the “parboiled” part comes in.  To me, parboiled means Minute Rice — previously cooked, then dehydrated, leaving rough, bent rice grains which then re-“cook” in the few minutes that it takes the grains to re-soak-up the water.  The rice from Lee Lee has directions that say, basically, to soak it for two hours (I didn’t), then add water and cook for 12-15 minutes.  Sounds like normal rice to me.  It’s definitely not parboiled.  Maybe something was lost in translation.

The verdict?  Everyone thought it was dreamy-wonderful.  Everyone except for Audrey.  Like only a 3yo can, she asked, without even trying it, “Why does this rice smell weird?  I don’t like it.”  She did finally eat it, somewhat begrudgingly.  Everyone else scarfed it down and had seconds.

And I have had a warm feeling in my heart for the last 48 hours or so, from being coerced by a sweet Afghan grandmother into buying rice that I likely wouldn’t have, otherwise.


Took an hour and a half, but Ethan’s hair is finally cut.  It’s always a toss-up between money spent at the “haircut store” and the hassle of bringing five kids on errands, and the exorbitant amount of time it takes me to cut his hair.  I’m happy with it, he’s happy with it, and my hubby is happy with it, though, so that makes it worth it.  I think.

(Previously, his hair was BELOW that tee shirt collar.  It was the longest ever.  So, now it has just a wee bit of length to it.)


Grant’s “Newspaper” — it was news to me!

My 10yo son Grant decided to create a newspaper for his journal assignment this morning.  He was so pleased with himself, he ripped it out of his notebook and stuck it to the fridge.

However, I thought that his Obama article couldn’t possibly be true.  I asked him, “Where did you hear about that?”

“At Grandpa’s.  It was on his XM radio.”  (That was my husband’s Dad, who kept the older two boys overnight last weekend so my hubby and I could take a quick trip for our anniversary.)

Then, I Googled it.  Grant had heard right.  (Although it’s actually one man and one woman, not two men.)  I think that bit of “reaching out” is taking it WAY too far, like the three little pigs trying to make peace with the big bad wolf by opening their home to him…  Doesn’t Obama read Aesop?  Not that the three little pigs is an Aesop fable.  But, that plan just has foolishness written all over it, IMO, and unfortunately, I think it leaves the U.S. vulnerable to wind up as the moral of a tragic Aesop-style story.

(You can click the “newspaper” to bring up a larger copy of the scan.)

I’m still here!

I have started three different posts in the last week or so, and got enough done on them that I couldn’t just delete them, so I saved them as drafts when I was unable to finish.  There they sit, in the drafts folder.

Things are all right here… other than my hubby getting a major infection in the wound of his surgery site.  That is NOT good, and, as we pondered what might God have in store for us, or what it is we’re to learn through this whole ordeal, I understated, “It’s a challenge.”  🙂

So, again… I must run.

Please read this

If you’re a mom, and you’re struggling with anything, but especially with feeling that you’re not measuring up to… whatever standard you think you should be measuring up to, please read this.  It brought me to tears, and made me wish I lived right next door to my bloggy friend Laura, who wrote it, both to hug her, to congratulate her, and to share in the journey, because mine has been very similar!!!!

These lines, near the end, are my favorite, but please do yourself a favor and read the whole thing!!

I know He wants my heart. not my ideals, not my perfection, not my wishes and desires. and certainly not MY plans for my life. He wants my heart and devotion. my wholehearted devotion.

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