Category Archives: Library

In which I complain — and other stuff

I am 31 weeks pregnant.  I had two and a half glorious months, post-morning-sickness, where I felt AMAZING.  Now, my large belly has caught up with me, and I am feeling rather crabby and swollen and it’s hard to breathe, and I generally feel uncomfortable.  I’m also getting exhausted in a way… well, prior to my diagnosis with Celiac Disease, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome*.  I remember how it felt in the evening, anticipating even ONE outing the following day, and having to fight despondency, because I knew that ONE outing would wipe me out, entirely.  That is where I’m at, now.

Until the last few weeks, the worst I could say was that the mass of varicose veins on the back of my right leg was giving me pain.  All things considered, being a 39-year-old pregnant woman, I figured that was quite good.  I got my stinkin’ expensive “pregnancy support garment” — which is very much like a girdle, or a compression garment.  On one hand, it’s a blessing:  It allows me to walk around without feeling like my leg is going to fall off;  it minimizes the pain and pressure, as well, from vaginal varicosities.  However… it is 80% nylon and 20% spandex which, apparently, my skin doesn’t appreciate.  If I wear it for too long, I get hives.  But if I’m NOT wearing it, I can literally be on my feet for maybe 5-10 minutes at a time.

I went to Illinois this past weekend.  I went to my maternal grandmother’s memorial service and visited my paternal grandmother, who is very ill.  I traveled with my sister (who lives in the Phoenix area, as well) and my brother (who drove down from Utah to travel with us).  It was, all things considered, a wonderful trip, in spite of the sad catalyst for the journey.  I could write for a very long time on my thoughts and the events of the four days, but I likely can’t:  My experience is so intertwined with others’, for whom I deeply care.  Telling my tale would necessitate telling theirs, as well, and I don’t know if they would appreciate me broadcasting their story;  it’s not mine to tell.

Still, in spite of late nights, days spent going hither and thither on necessary business, spending my days in the endless company of others (which generally drains me, as an introvert) — whom I needed to see and wanted to see and LOVED to see, cramming a couple of weeks of events into those four days, in spite of unending exhaustion of both body and mind, an aching leg, and the aforementioned hives, it was an exceptionally worthwhile journey.

IMG_20130420_100838_168

Views like this refresh my soul. It does, doubly so, knowing that this land, this view, has been connected to my mother’s family for nearly 200 years.

I love Illinois.  The above picture was taken from the back steps of my aunt’s home.  I took it, steaming coffee in hand.  The sun was shining, it was about 7 a.m., and the temperature was 35°.  The view is a corner of a field, which will likely have corn growing in it within a month or so, and a little pond beyond that.  In the timber behind the pond is the remain of an old road, likely last used in the early 1800s.  It had rained torrentially in Illinois, the day before our arrival, so the ground was saturated and impassably muddy in many places, and I didn’t own the boots which would allow me to go down that lovely road-path.

My husband, though, is considering having our family return to Illinois for our family’s summer trip this year — which would be our first time as a whole family — and I will most certainly meander down that road…

Anyway.

It shouldn’t be odd that, with the absence of The Mom, there are many things, upon my return, that have needed my attention.  Life does go on, even when I’m not here at home.  Laundry continues to pile up.  Children still need attention in their schooling.  The dog’s medicine runs out.

Today was much busier than I would have preferred, even if I weren’t pregnant.  So far, I have:

  • Gone to a grocery store — needed especially for milk and meat for the week.  (In related news, I got three gallons of organic milk for $4.99.  This was accomplished due to the fact that Shamrock Farms organic milk was 50% off this week, with the final price of $2.49 for a 3-quart container.  Two containers were near their “best by” date, and were marked $2.50 off.  In other words, FREE.  I figured that even if they went bad before we finished drinking them, no harm done;  they’re free.  I got two other containers, as well.  Four containers, three gallons total, $4.99 spent.)
  • Done two large loads of laundry — it’s still not folded, yet.
  • Overseen school with my three older children.  I will admit my first grader, Audrey, did pretty much nothing today, other than some self-directed art and Lego-building.
  • I fertilized my mini-garden with fish emulsion and epsom salts — something that should be done every two weeks, but of which I was very overdue.
  • I called LG for my washing machine — again.  It keeps having issues.  I’ve needed to call them for a couple of weeks now, but kept putting it off.
  • I ordered Algebra 2 on Teaching Textbooks.
  • I had an overdue, hour-long conversation with another homeschooling mom, helping her (I hope) with some issues she’s having with one of her children.
  • I went to Trader Joe’s for more groceries.
  • I returned some overdue library DVDs.  Yes, even with a smart phone, I kept forgetting to renew our family’s DVDs while I was away, resulting in $7 in new fines.  😦
  • I went to the pool supply store and got chlorine tabs and shock.  Our poor pool…  It really needs a new pump.  It is under warranty until July, but a repairman has already been out once, and he said that there’s really nothing he can do, under our warranty, until the pump breaks.  If it breaks entirely before July, the $400+ cost of replacement will be covered.  If it only limps along inefficiently, as it has been doing, we’re out of luck.  I must admit that I am tempted to sabotage the pump to “help” it completely break.  My husband, though, man of absolute integrity that he is, wouldn’t hear of such a thing.  But, it’s in the 90s now, and our pool-cum-pond is unusable.
  • I went to pick up more fluconazole for our dog, Tally, who is still recovering from Valley Fever.
  • I stopped by a used furniture store and bought a small chest of drawers for the new baby ($25 — it needs to be either painted or lightly sanded and revarnished — I haven’t decided which, yet).  I also bought a very solid, medium-sized bookcase for $35.  It has a blond finish, and appears to be from the 60s.  It is almost cool.  Tomorrow, I will clear out the beleaguered particle board book case which is currently holding most of our school books for this year.  It keeps collapsing.
  • I still need to shower.
  • I need to make dinner — which will be the Crockpot refried beans I made last night, reheating a roasted Costco rotisserie chicken, and likely some roasted beets from the CSA I host each Wednesday.  Easy peasy.
  • I need to pick out the worship set list for tonight’s small group.  It is definitely one of those nights where, if I didn’t have to go to small group, I probably wouldn’t.  Frankly, I’d rather put up my feet, watch baseball, and read my current book** during the commercials.  When I’m actually there at group, I always enjoy it.  Always.  But, right now, I am tired, and wish I wasn’t compelled to attend by my responsibilities there…

So, that’s it!  That has been my day.  Too busy for me.  Still not over.  But, life could be worse, eh?  All things considered, life is still good — many things have happened in the last week that are stellar, and on which I cannot comment.

If you’re still reading, thank you.  🙂  Since it has been nearly three weeks since I posted, I felt that this post was overdue, as well…  Not my best work, but it will have to do for now.

Blessings to all my readers, those whom I know personally, and those whose acquaintance I’ve only made through this blog…  I’ve been feeling particularly thankful for you, lately.

 

—————–

*Virtually all CFS symptoms disappeared when I went onto a gluten-free diet.  I do believe that the underlying cause of my chronic fatigue was celiac disease itself.

**In spite of middling reviews (which I have not read — only noticing it has only about 3.5 stars on Amazon), I am still very much enjoying it.  Well, I just peeked at some reviews.  It appears that those who love Anne Perry’s mysteries, set in 1800s England, are most disappointed.  Perhaps that explains why I like the book:  I don’t care for Anne Perry.  (I did read her four-book series which was set in WWI, but once the series was completed, decided that any more of Perry would be a waste of my time.)

 

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Garden! Health! Books! Road trip! Working!

I really don’t have writer’s block.  I’ve written countless posts in my head!  They’re just not happening in real life.

So…  small updates:

  • They're even prettier in real life. I have some that are downright purple on the outside, but the interior is bright orange. Lovely!

    Garden:  It’s beautiful and flourishing, and it feels fabulous to eat my own hand-raised, organic veggies.  It is truly decreasing my need to buy vegetables from the store.  It has taken a while — more than a year — to really get GOING and productive.  And, I still have lots and lots and lots to learn… it’s one of those areas of learning where you can never know ALL there is to know.  Ever.  Interestingly, though, I don’t mind that.  Normally, I get a little cowed by problems with unending possible solutions;  I like things that I can wrap my head around.  However, I find that gardening is enjoyable even when I will never know everything there is to know.  My most recent discovery:  When the planting schedule says that you shouldn’t plant your green beans until March 15, February 20-something really IS too early, and your seeds really WILL rot in the ground when planted too soon.  Bummer.  A triumph, though:  My hubby is taking my gardening seriously.  I tend to get interested in things, and hit them hard for a few weeks or a few months, spend too much money on them, then my interest and devotion fizzles, which amounts to a lot of time and money wasted.  So, he wasn’t robustly supportive of my garden plans, initially.  Now, he TOTALLY is, probably because I’ve been faithful, instead of just excited.  🙂  And he can see the benefit.  Last garden note:  You MUST grow these carrots.  I scrub them and we eat them unpeeled.  They are gorgeous and tasty.

  • Fiala’s health:  I wish I could say that she is 100% better, but I can’t.  She does continue to improve, and it is absolutely clear that her major struggle IS with a candida infection.  However, it is taking longer to clear than I had hoped.  And, she is not self-regulating.  She is happy to “steal” a banana or a jar of honey, or even pull a carrot from the garden, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  Then, the yeast in her system feeds on that sugar, and we have a setback that takes a week or two from which to recover.  So, it’s kind of like three steps forward, two-and-a-half steps back.  She still has head-to-toe “eczema” — which really isn’t eczema — and it’s worse in some places than in others.  But, she has no open, oozy wounds, and over all, her skin, disposition, and general health has improved by, oh, about 40%.  She is on oral and topical Nystatin, plus probiotics, colloidal silver, and grapefruit seed extract (in capsules).  Plus a no-sugar diet, minus the 1/3 cup or so daily of blueberries — her lone joy in food.  Actually, it’s funny, because now that we’re aware that SUGAR in food is her main problem, I’ve been letting her sample various sugar- and starch-free foods, and she just doesn’t like most of them.  So, her diet is still very, very simple, very limited.
  • My own health:  I have improved SO GREATLY on a low-carb, sugar-free diet.  Not only have I lost about 15 lbs, but instead of getting neck-to-thighs hives every single night, that lasts for HOURS and to be relieved only by a double-dose of Benedryl, I’ll get a patch here, a patch there, about twice a week, and it lasts for 20-30 minutes or so.  So, I’m not 100% healed, either, but I’m getting close.
  • Books:  I should really do a whole post on “Books I’m Trying to Read.”  I normally only read one book at a time, but I’m partway through about six books right now, none of which I want to put down, and for none of which I actually have TIME to read right now.  The only one I’ve actually finished has been The Confession by Charles Todd (see next bullet point).  And that took me nearly two weeks of whittling away…  The others have taken — are taking, actually — much longer.
  • Road trip!  Two friends and I drove to Prescott a couple of weeks ago.  It was a treasure of an afternoon — such a pleasant drive of wonderful conversation, lunch together, then a really awesome two-hour meet-the-author presentation by Charles Todd, which is actually a mother-and-son team.  They were both present, and were such engaging speakers.  It was interesting from all angles:  as a writer, as someone interested in WWI (the setting for all their books), as a semi-Anglophile, as a fan…  I’ve read all of their books, save one.  My friends and I had lunch was at The Raven Cafe.  I had researched which places had a gluten-free menu, and when we got to Prescott, my friend Kathy said, “After lunch, I hope we have time for the best cup of coffee in Prescott.  It’s at The Raven.”  The Raven was already on my short list of g.f. lunch spots!!  It has such wonderful ambiance, and it stocks GLUTEN FREE BREAD.  With my low-carbiness, I haven’t had bread in a couple of months.  But, I broke with that for an amazing turkey melt sandwich with avocado, muenster cheese, and other good things, with a side of amazing sweet potato fries with garlic aioli.  I was in heaven.  The whole afternoon, I was in heaven.  It was perfect.  Kathy kept saying, “Is this really real?  Is this really happening?  Am I really in Prescott with two of my dear friends???”  Now, I think I need to come up with more reasons to take little drives and spend a good chunk of a day with my friends.  The whole experience is still glowing in my heart, two weeks later.
  • Jobby-things:  I know a while back I said I wasn’t going to make any writing-related work, but I had already told my author-friend Marietta I’d give her most recent book my once-over.  So, I’ve been working on that.  I also co-taught a small workshop on prophetic singing, which was a complete and total joy.  I was absolutely shocked when I was handed a check for payment.  It was a little disturbing, actually.  I had to ask my pastor what he thought I should do with the money, and he said, “Keep it.  You’ve invested hours of your time and commitment learning about this, making the teaching notes, investing in the prophetic and singing.  Keep it and enjoy the fruits of your labor.”  So, I am.  Haven’t cashed it yet, though.

It has sprung, in the Sonoran Desert.

This last week, the acacias started blooming.  For me, that’s always the mark of springtime.

Here in the Sonoran Desert, the three major flowering trees are the sweet acacia, the palo verde, and the ironwood.  They bloom in that order:  sweet acacias in late February or early March, palo verdes in March-April or so, and ironwoods in late April or early May, usually.  Acacia blooms are dark orangey-yellow little ½” puffballs, and have a very distinct, cloying, powerful scent.  Palo verde blooms are usually (depending on the variety) bright, bright yellow, blanketing the entire tree with delicate flowers.  Ironwoods are more subtle, a very light lavender color, among the grey-green leaves.  Neither palo verdes nor ironwoods have much scent.

acacia farnesiana

acacia farnesiana, seed pod and bloom

I cannot stand the scent of the acacia.  Ugh.  When I was a kid, my mom took my sibs and I, weekly, to the Phoenix Library.  Each branch of the library is named after a native plant.  We usually went to the Acacia Library.  In the springtime, I remember taking a giant gulp of air while still in the car, then sprinting up the acacia-lined path to the entrance while holding my breath, to avoid smelling the nearly unavoidable fragrance.

The palo verdes to be found around the Phoenix area are typically either the Blue Palo Verde, parkinsonia florida (which is NOT native to Florida), or the Mexican Palo Verde, parkinsonia aculeata.

parkinsonia florida bloom, close-up (beautiful!)

parkinsonia florida

I didn’t know until now that the palo verde is an invasive species in many places, worldwide, especially Australia.  I was about to post something preachy about landscaping with only native species, but remembered that, while my front yard has only native plants, my backyard has several non-natives, including the Australian tipu tree.

Anyway.

My fave desert tree is, by far, the desert ironwood, olneya tesota.  Part of it is just because I like purple;  so many native plants around here bloom yellow and only yellow.  Part of its appeal is just because I like the shape of the tree.  And, I think it’s cool that the wood is so beautiful, often burled and two-toned,  not that I think one should go around chopping down ironwood trees.  The wood is so dense that it will sink in water.

A couple of years ago, I looked into visiting the Ironwood Forest National Monument, established by Clinton only days before he left office.  There wasn’t much info on it, especially on the hiking trails I sought, so I called the Tucson field office of the BLM, which administers it.  Well, it turns out that the Ironwood National Monument is a MAJOR illegal immigration corridor, and I was vehemently advised to stay away, especially as I had small children.  Golly.  The field officer blamed the situation Clinton, who had established the monument, but had given no funds for its development or protection.  Hm.  I still want to go, but maybe we’ll wait a few years.

Feminism, marketing, raising little girls, plus a bit of homeschooling

From the couple of articles I’ve read, and the excerpt of her book, I can tell I’m not nearly as feminist as Peggy Orenstein.  But, I still put her brand-new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter:  Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture, on hold at the library.  We seem to think very similarly, at least on some things.  In one article, Orenstein recounts how her daughter’s tastes radically and immediately changed, upon entering “preschool” at the age of two, discarding her formerly beloved pin-striped overalls and love of Thomas the Train and taking on a new, rabid adoration of pink tulle and Disney Princesses.  For now, let’s skim past the part where people feel compelled to SCHOOL THEIR CHILDREN AT THE AGE OF TWO, to the part where marketing and peer pressure have so adversely affected our society that our two-year-olds reject their “first loves” in lieu of what’s being shoved down their teensy throats by Madison Avenue!

You think I exaggerate?  I do not, fair reader!  It starts even earlier than that!!!

Late last month, the company quietly began pressing its newest priority, Disney Baby, in 580 maternity hospitals in the United States. A representative visits a new mother and offers a free Disney Cuddly Bodysuit, a variation of the classic Onesie.

In bedside demonstrations, the bilingual representatives extol the product’s bells and whistles — extra soft! durable! better sizing! — and ask mothers to sign up for e-mail alerts from DisneyBaby.com.

The above excerpt is from a New York Times article dated February 6, 2011, my emphasis added.

Another disturbing tidbit:

Disney estimates the North American baby market, including staples like formula, to be worth $36.3 billion annually. Its executives talk about tapping into that jackpot as if they were waging a war. “Apparel is only a beachhead,” said Andy Mooney, chairman of Disney Consumer Products.

For those who may wonder about Disney’s intentions to further infiltrate your home,

Beachhead:

1. A position on an enemy shoreline captured by troops in advance of an invading force.
2. A first achievement that opens the way for further developments; a foothold.

I am stridently opposed to marketing directly to children.  I praise the likes of my cousin, Romney, who has campaigned to rid her own preschooler’s school of its McDonald’s affiliation, in which the school receives money in exchange for “events” where children attend mandatory pep rallies with Ronald McDonald, and are given Happy Meals, all without parental consent, all built into the school day.  (And people wonder why homeschooling school days are so short.  Why, because we actually LEARN STUFF during our school day — apparently trivial, outdated stuff like math, and literature, and grammar, and history — and don’t attend baldfaced marketing sessions given by the McDonald’s corporation!!  But, I digress.)

Well, maybe I’m not digressing.  One of the unintended benefits of homeschooling is that my children feel much more free to develop into the people God made them to be.  They’re not mocked (at least, not regularly!) for their interests, nor pressured away from something — anything, be it their Christianity, to their choice of clothes! — just because The Herd does not endorse it.

So.  I’m sure Orenstein, in her book, is not trying to make a case for homeschooling.  But, since that’s a passion in my heart, I can’t help but see that part of the problem might be the pressure to place our children in preschools as early as the tender age of two, schools which aren’t so much a center for real learning, but a hotbed of social conformation, where our wee ones are unknowingly being sucked up into the “invading force[s]” of the likes of Disney Baby!

ALL OF THAT SAID…  Part of me is really pleased that my four year old, Audrey, feels very free to be a girl.  I was startled when she began exhibiting true girlie-girl behavior — coyly flirting with Daddy and having a passion for shoes — before she could even crawl!!  And, I’m glad to give her a home in which she feels confident in her super-girliness.

Just this morning, I laughed delightedly over the Pillow Princess she made.  Onto the floor, she laid a (hand-me-down) Disney Sleeping Beauty dress-up dress, under which she placed various throw pillows, to give it a plumped-out appearance.  Another pillow, fringed, formed the Pillow Princess’s head, onto which she placed an Ariel tiara (also hand-me down), and cut-outs, made from white paper, colored with Crayons, which formed the eyes, nose, and very pink mouth.

There’s a fine line there…  I know I’m treading it with care, trying to give my daughters the freedom to express their femininity — even if it does include an excess of pink frilly stuff! — without exposing them to so much marketing that they feel like they’re “supposed” to love Disney Princess, and they need to discard anything not-pink.

~sigh~

Where do you get the time to…?

I’ve heard it said that you will find the time for the things you value.  I semi-agree.

Someone asked me, “Where do you find the time to read all those books?” after my recent post on reading.  The answer is a little complicated, and I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days.

First, I have value for a WHOLE LOT of things that I cannot “find” time for, in part because my time is not wholly my own.  I have a family to attend to, and I’d be abhorrently irresponsible, remiss in my duties if I simply set about my life seeking “me time” (I hate that term, by the way).  I can’t just set off on a stroll through the woods, alongside a meandering creek, binoculars around my neck, and my Sibley guide in hand, just because I want to.  I could find the time, but if I did that, who would watch the kids?  Who would teach them?  Who would do their laundry?  Or make dinner?  Would my husband still be happy in our marriage?  Would I still be able to serve the Body of Christ, and my particular church body, with leading worship in small group?  For the children’s church?  Would I be able to say, “Yes!” to the various church-related printed matter that gets sent my way for editing?  Would I be able to contribute a wee bit to our family’s finances — by writing — if I was always pursuing the things that make only me happy?

So, sometimes, it’s a matter of priorities.  There are many things I value and would adore to spend more time doing, but other responsibilities trump them.  And, there are some things that I absolutely adore, but if I do them, the activity devoted to them precludes my availability to do something else.  You can’t always get what you want, even if what you want is a good thing.

For me, I have struggled long and hard with not being such an idealist.  Being an “idealist” may sound lovely, but if you’re an idealist of my tendencies, it’s not so great.  I spend too much effort pining for “If only…” and “I remember when…” and that’s truly not helpful.  In years past, and to some extent, even now, I can easily become immobilized by my idealism.  I know the best way, the right way;  I remember when the situation for “x” pursuit was much more ideal;  I see, way too easily, the roadblocks that present themselves, rendering a situation much less-than-ideal.  I wish for things to be much better than they are, rather than attacking what’s on my plate right now.   Thus, I do nothing, rather than doing it halfway.

And, that brings up another point.  I love my mother so dearly, but something that has long frustrated me about her outlook on life, is that she looks at her plate, and with a resigned sigh, remarks, in the Christian way of how she’s fated to eat everything on it, “Well, I guess that’s just what God has given to me, and I need to be thankful for this, and deal with it.”  That can be GREAT, in some instances:  She always makes the best out of what she has.  But, on the other hand, I’ve seen her eat things on her plate that really should be relegated to the garbage bin.  Metaphorically, of course.  Well, not even metaphorically!  I grew up thinking mothers liked burnt toast.

I don’t know if this is tracking, but what I’m trying to do is find the balance between taking everything in life as it presents itself –the good and the bad — and the idealism that can envision a much, much, much better present, as well as future.

Idealism can also lead me to a dark place of discontentment.  Instead of “self help” or “inspirational” books (or people) inspiring me, they almost invariably seem to bring to me to a painful realization of how not great something is in my life, how not great I am, how less-than-ideal I am.  And, rather than that bringing my thoughts to a loftier place of aiming for what’s better, it discourages me about where I currently am.

Though, sometimes, discouraged or not, I know I have to pull up my boots with those proverbial bootstraps and change.  But, that’s another topic.  Sort of.

Into all of the semi-confusion above enters my love of books, though the same could be said for MANY pursuits I have enjoyed (and continue to enjoy, at a now-modified pace):  playing guitar; hiking (or just walking); writing; birding; spending time with friends — especially conversing, one on one, in the dim corner of a small coffee shop; listening to music (recorded or live); having devotional time with my Savior, et al.

When I was a child, I was a voracious reader.  VORACIOUS.  I read just about everything I could get my hands on, which was usually at least a book per day.  My mom took us to the library weekly, and our limit, per child, per trip, was six books.  I always finished mine, almost always before the date arrived for our next trip, and usually helped myself to my older brother’s stack…  That stuck with me through my college years, and into the time before I was married.

After marriage — though this sounds ridiculous — one of the toughest things I had to adjust to was my new lack of time for reading.  I was used to curling up, virtually every evening, with my current novel.  My hubby watched TV in the evening.  I was aghast.

Add that to my new responsibilities of keeping house and treading the tumultuous waters of a new marriage, so books went out the window.  When I was pregnant with my firstborn, and not working, I read more books during that time than I had in the previous two years of my marriage.  After that, babies took over.

It wasn’t really until about four years ago when I started reading again, in earnest.  In other words, I spent a good eight nor nine years saying to myself, “Well, I guess I just can’t read.”  Because of my habit and preference, in my mind, I had to have chunks of uninterrupted time during which I could devote all of my attention to the tome in my hands. I didn’t have multiple hours of spare “me” time.  Thus, I read very little during that era.  Any reading I was able to accomplish was done with a chip on my shoulder, about how much I “couldn’t” read.  I satisfied myself with the many delightful children’s and young adult books I read to and with my children, whilst homeschooling.  There have been MANY good books we’ve discovered as read-alouds, but I almost never read books of my own choosing, for my own pleasure or benefit.

The book that started my reintroduction to reading

It wasn’t until my dear friend Kathy invited me to attend a book club hosted by a friend of hers, way across the Valley, whose “assignment” was Alexander McCall Smith’s The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency.  I so enjoyed that book, my time with Kathy during our drive, the book club itself (though that was my lone foray into that particular group), the rediscovery of reading…  Well, that experience generated a new pursuit:  figuring out how I could squeeze the rest of McCall Smith’s books into my brain, by hook or by crook.  Well, not by any means.  But, I was delighted to discover that, while I still could not plop myself down into a comfy spot for hours on end, delving deeply into the novel, abandoning all else, what I could do was:

  • Pick up a book while nursing my baby, instead of flicking on the TV.
  • Read a chapter or two after everyone else had gone to bed.
  • Bring a book to a doctor appointment, rather than planning on reading the magazines on hand.
  • Bring a book to a child’s sports practice.
  • Bring a book to read while my children were at the park.
  • Read a bit while sitting on the closed toilet, keeping my youngest company while s/he bathed.
  • Reward myself with a short time of reading when the to-do list had been successfully tackled, in those few minutes remaining before I started dinner.
  • Even bring a book into the bathroom (something I had NEVER done, previously).

In other words, rather than just say, “I’ll never get two, three, four hours straight in order to really read,” I discovered that could say, “Well, here’s ten or twenty minutes into which I can squeeze a chapter.”

So, rather than consuming a book in a day or two, I now savor it a sip or two at a time, taking usually between one and three weeks to complete a book.  In that manner, I am able to get 25-ish books completed, yearly, that would previously have gone unread, because of my “inability” — my lack of time — to read.

I’ve always had a value for reading, but I had to toss out the ideal — my experience, habit, and preference — in order to find a new way to accommodate a book or twenty-five.

And that is how a woman, wife to her husband of 17 years, and a homeschooling mother of five, who makes dinner from scratch nearly every night of the year, whose home is tolerably clean, and who has multiple responsibilities at church, and some dear friends, finds time to read.

Standardized tests, losing my wallet, bread, shopping, and a sick doggie

  • I am considering having my kids do a standardized test before the end of the school year, which I’ve never done before.  The purpose of this is at least three-fold:  1) To assess their progress;  2) To see if there are any holes in their education which I need to fill;  3) Acquaint them with the style of test that they will likely see much more of, outside of our homeschool experience, when the time comes.  Looking into it, I decided that the Iowa Test of Basic Skills would likely be the best choice, because it is much more comprehensive than many other standardized tests, but still at a fairly reasonable cost.  Then, I see that one has to have a bachelor’s degree in order to administer it.  Rats.  Since I completed only 2½ years of college, that means that either I have to choose a test without such a requirement, or enlist the help of someone else in administering it.  I bet my stepdad would, but it’s such a bummer that I can’t just give the test to them by myself.  😦
  • I lost my wallet today.  I went to the grocery store for a few non-perishables, then went to the library to 1) pick up some books I had placed on hold; 2) return some DVDs that we managed to remain in our DVD player after we had returned the covers; 3) pay off the fines that accrued on our 30 or so items while the “hold” had been placed on my account due to the missing DVDs; 4) confess that an additional DVD had “developed” a crack in it while in our care.  When I went to pull out my debit card and my library card, I discovered that I had no wallet.  I assumed that I had somehow left it in the truck, so I left my items at the counter, and went to get it.  No wallet.  So, I went back in to the library, took care of #2 and #4, and ran back to my truck.  I raced back to the grocery store, praying all the while that if my wallet was discovered by someone that they would be honest and turn it in.  After fruitlessly checking the area where I had previously parked, I went in to the customer service desk.  THEY HAD IT!  I was so relieved that it was there, 100% intact, that I forgot to ask the customer service person who had turned it in.  Thank you, Jesus, for answered prayer.
  • The fourteenth time is almost the charm!  I have baked FOURTEEN different versions of my vegan bread recipe, and this last one was the best yet.  I’m going to tweak it yet again… just once more… (I think!), so I should be able to post the recipe very, very soon.  It’s been a hard-fought battle, lemme tell you!!!  Gluten-free, vegan, corn-, rice-, and millet-free…  Plus, tasty AND whole-grain!  It has not been easy.
  • Ross:  The haven for those who have expensive tastes, but not the $$ to back it up.  I wanted a real leather black or brown purse.  I have a number of purses, but needed a new everyday one, and I have been looking for quite a long time, because I could spend no more than $20 on it.  Voila!  I finally found one that I really like, at Ross, on clearance, for $10.  It’s “leather with man-made trim” but for ten bucks, I’m not quibbling.
  • Our dear doggie, Tally, has Valley Fever again.  It’s actually likely that she never quite kicked it last year, though she had improved so dramatically as to appear totally healthy.  She started seeming mopey about six weeks ago, but that was concurrent with the start of Little League season, which means that we’ve been absent much more often, leaving her in her crate or in the back yard, as weather allows.  She doesn’t like when we leave her, and who can blame her?  Still, she had started to lose weight… and when she took a step outside last week, and I noticed a little limp, I thought, “Moping does NOT make you limp.”  So, I took her to the vet on Friday, and explained to the vet that I’d really rather not spend $180 on a blood test to confirm what he and I both know, and would he please just prescribe fluconazole?  Understandably, he would prefer that we do the test, so we would know what her baseline numbers are, and to rule out any other possible (though very unlikely) illness.  But, he was willing to prescribe the medication on empirical evidence alone.  However, I talked to the vet’s office this morning, and apparently, they forgot to call the rx in, which means we won’t get it until Monday.  I hope Tally responds quickly to the medication, and that we soon have our spunky, happy dog back.

In praise of ceci beans (and other food trials)

Garbanzo beans, ceci beans, gram, chickpeas, they’re all the same thing.

For the record, we say “garbanzo beans” around here, but “ceci” is such fun to say:   CHEH-chee.   :mrgreen:

This past week, in hopes of expanding our “safe” foods list, I did a food trial of garbanzo beans (in the form of flour — gram flour) on Fiala.  She passed with flying colors — she loved it, her poop was 100% healthy, and it didn’t cause any further skin conditions.

Also of importance is that I LOVE IT.  I cannot tell you how absolutely refreshingly brilliant it felt to be eating something that I love.

I’m starting to feel like it was really the provision of God that I discovered farinata right before we started the total elimination diet, nearly four weeks ago.  That simple recipe combines garbanzo flour, salt, pepper, rosemary, and olive oil and a Really Hot Oven into one of the most unique, flavorful, addictive flatbreads I have ever tried.  If it hadn’t been for our few days gorging on farinata, I would likely not have used it as one of Fiala’s earliest food trials.  I’m not brave enough (or rash enough, or whatever) to try olive oil, pepper, and rosemary yet, but even a very simple flatbread made from a fairly thin batter of water, garbanzo flour,  and salt, cooked on a cast iron griddle oiled with rendered lamb fat, tasted so fabulous — just shy of the dreamy perfection of actual farinata — that within two days, I used up my entire large bag of garbanzo flour.

For those of you dairy-free and missing it, stuff made from garbanzo flour TASTES LIKE CHEESE.  No lie.  Even my cheese-obsessed 12yo son agrees.  Mmmmmm….  I have read that one can even make a tofu-like substance out of garbanzo flour;  I may try that.

The extra-good news is that garbanzo flour doesn’t give Fiala gas like pintos do.  Fiala tolerates pintos well, and likes them, but I’ve discovered that if I feed them to her at bedtime, she is uncomfortably gassy, and wakes extra-often.  😦  She’s already waking twice a night, so I really am not looking for reasons for her to wake more often.

In slightly related news, I picked up the Body Ecology Diet book from the library yesterday.  In flipping through it, I feel that I could fairly easily incorporate its ideas/ingredients into a consistent diet for Fiala and me.  I’ve only just started actually reading the book, so I cannot say for certain, yet.  Regarding the library:  As a resident of the city of Peoria, I feel like a traitor, because we were WOWED by the brand-new Agave Branch of the Phoenix Library — free for all residents of Maricopa County (unlike the fabulous Glendale Library, on whose membership we spent $40/year for years).  Peoria opened a nice new library recently, and we’ve been going there.  But, we figured out that the Agave Branch is actually closer to our house… and now that we’ve been there, we will likely never go back to the Peoria library, because the new Will Bruder-designed Agave is FABULOUS — funky, arty, well-laid-out, lots of space to sit, a fabulous under-five play/read area, and about QUADRUPLE the books of the brand-new Peoria branch.  Free, closer, better facilities… we’re hooked.

In directly-related food news, I have decided that blueberries will be our next food trial, followed by green beans.  I’m looking for foods that are low in sugar (even natural sugars), low-allergenic, and that would be easy for Fiala to eat, and hopefully tasty to her.

Also, desperate for a crunchy snack for myself, I tried eating sunflower seeds — that was a no-go.  However, the seeds I have were cooked with soybean oil, so maybe that’s the problem.  I don’t know.  They didn’t seem to affect Fiala’s digestion, but her skin broke out again.  Then, when her skin was looking better, I tried raw almonds.  Nope — skin again.  On both, I tried a very small portion for 2-3 nights in a row, and when there was no apparent effect, I had a larger portion the following day…  But, her skin just couldn’t hack it, and now I’m feeling awful, because the skin on her face and behind her legs, which had previously healed to near-perfection, is red and scaly and itchy again.  😦  Oh, well.  We’re learning, though.  I read on another blog that one can take cooked (I’m assuming boiled) garbanzos, and sprinkle them with salt (and/or other seasonings, but we’d have to stick with salt for now), and bake them, and they turn into a fantastic crunchy snack.  I will definitely try that.

So.  I feel like this past week has been more GOOD news than BAD news with Fiala’s skin and digestion and general health.  Bless God.

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