Saturday, January 30, 2010

How Lucky Am I?: Snow Edition

holy experience

I am thankful for #62: Snow really feels good to get a call at 6:30 a.m. telling me that schools are canceled for the day. That's what happened the Friday before last (the weekend these pictures were taken), and that's what I also received this morning. I'm thankful for the technology (#63) that allows parents to receive this call from the warmth of their beds.

Of course, it's not the same effect as huddling around your little television set (that gets only 4-5 channels) as a kid and waiting with expectation for your school to flash across the screen. (I can still SEE it in my head...Ava, Bakersfield, Billings, Blue Eye, Branson, Cassville, Chadwick, Climax Springs...oh, let it say CRANE, let it say CRANE...CRANE!)

I had no idea that it was even supposed to snow today. Therefore, it was totally bizarre to hear the words on the phone - but very nice to set my phone back on the nighstand and cuddle back into my covers. That deserves to be #64. And also #65 - I love my bed. There's nothing really special about it. My mattress set is 12 years old, my duvet is missing some buttons, and I never make my bed unless we're having company. But it's MY bed, and I think it's so comfortable.
The kids spent A LOT of time outside when it snowed last weekend. I'm very thankful (#66) that everytime I looked, there was Tornado, holding Sissy's hand, making sure she didn't slip on the slick driveway.
I'm thankful (#67) that my three kids are such a CREW. They love to hang out, and despite the gaps in their ages, they make it work.
#68...It's just great that something like ICICLES bring such JOY to kids.
I'm thankful (#69) for an active husband. (Even if our attempts to sled with a piece of cardboard were not successful.)
#70 I'm also thankful that he's super cute. And that he forgives me (#71) for posting a picture of him, even after he told me not to. And I'm thankful (#72) for those sleepy eyes because of what they stand for: all the hard work and time spent with his family.
#73. I don't really know what it is, in particular, that I'm thankful for here, but...there's a lot.
#74 I'm thankful for a helpful 9 year old who loves to scrape off snow and ice.
And it's really fun (#75) to experiment with new things like snow icecream. What's better than snow icecream? A snow icecream banana split. (I was a little freaked out to make it, and I googled a bunch of opinions about whether it was safe to eat snow...with contradicting results...we went for it, though. Just added some non-dairy milk, sugar, and vanilla until it seemed right.)
On snow days, it's nice (#76) to have a Googie and Papaw who call and ask if we need anything from the store while they're out. They brought us a movie from Hastings (#77), and Papaw provided much indoor entertainment (#78), running around and chasing 3 squealing kids for quite awhile.
We very rarely make hot chocolate (because it very rarely snows or feels cold enough in Arkansas to do so) so the kids were very thrilled. I'm thankful (#79) for my kids' appreciation of little things, and #80, I'm happy for vegan marshmallows.

Monday, January 25, 2010

My Cup Half Full

holy experience

With a full heart...I offer this list up to my heavenly thanks...for the big blessings and the little blessings...and all of the tiny bits that make me and my life uniquely the way we are...

Continuing my list, numbers list began here and continued here and here.

I'm thankful for the amazing number of beautiful birds that come to our house...
I'm grateful for little helping hands outside...
I'm thankful for the smile that spread across my face when I looked outside the upstairs window and saw this...just thinking about the conversation that might have led to this..."Let's take our smoothies outside and sit at the picnic table." I could see all of them talking, contributing to the conversation, and once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to have had multiple children.
and I'm thankful for my little helpful cooks inside. I love that the sauce in that pan doesn't look perfect.
I'm grateful for green smoothies.

I'm thankful that my husband completed his honey-do list this weekend, without complaining.

I'm grateful for hats. I really like wearing them, and I know the people at my children's schools appreciate not seeing my bedhead.

I'm thankful that one of my kids has my eyes.

I'm grateful for God's mercies.

I'm thankful that my husband also forgives me.

I'm grateful for doctors and insurance and hospitals and medical technology. (I have to mention this to counteract the grumbling I feel toward it sometimes.) There are so many problems to be worked out in the system, but I'm glad that it isn't worse. Anything could always be worse. I love knowing that if my kid fell and broke his leg (or needed stitches or oxygen, etc.), there is someone 5 miles away who could take care of it. I mean, it's truly amazing really.

I'm thankful that my husband has the kind of job that prevents many worries with this issue. I was able to appreciate the insurance issue further when we chose to add some supplemental insurance for ourselves...what a job that was...the checkups and phone calls and medical documentation we had to prove we weren't a risk...I appreciate that isn't something we've ever had to do before.

I'm grateful for 911.

I'm thankful for the appointed person from church who calls to check on us when we have been absent.

I'm really glad that I really like the man and woman that my brother and sister chose to marry.

I really, really love the sound of my 2 year old's voice, chatting away as I type this...after she said a prayer yesterday, Ryan and I immediately locked eyes after she was finished...he said he wished he had videorecorded that, and I had been thinking the same thing.

I'm also love running the hairbrush through her long, soft hair.
I really love this.
And this.
And that.

I'm thankful that we can turn the temperature up or down in my house as much as we prefer.

I'm grateful for a foot that occasionally finds mine, under the covers in the middle of the night.

I'm very thankful for these four walls in general...

Go here to read more from the Community of Gratitude.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

Thursday, January 21, 2010

New Blendtec and I Love Seaweed

Here is my new blender. I have wanted one for a long time. I really wanted a Vitamix, but they are so expensive. We finally decided we really do need one. We have a nice, expensive Kitchen Aid mixer; it just makes more sense for our eating habits to spend more on a emulsifying whole foods blender. It was between the Vitamix, Blendtec, and HealthMaster. We went with the Blendtec, based on price and blog reviews. ( seemed to be the best deal at the time; they offer specials and discounts, and, so far, they have had excellent customer service.)

The kids (and I) love that you can see through the (BPA-free) containers (and I got 2, which is so great). They also love the digital screen that counts down the time remaining and shuts off when it is finished. (I ran into one of my friends at Whole Foods this week, and I was telling her about my blender. Dash whispered to me, "Tell her it turns off by itself.") Here is our first smoothie we made - grapes, carrots, oranges, swiss chard, purple kale, apples, frozen cherries, and water.

Honestly, I had started getting a little nervous after I ordered it, wondering if it was a silly purchase and whether it would be any better than my other blender. But it's AMAZING how quickly and easily it grounds up everything. It came with a fat recipe book, too.

These drinks make me really full, which is great because then I don't want to eat anything else. I lost half of a pound this week. Which isn't amazing, but it made me happy. Now I'm just a pound away from another tens place - I'm 1_1 lbs.
Lately I've also been loving...wait for it...seaweed. Sea vegetables are really good for you. (But I think it's important to try to stick with organic not only because of pesticides but heavy metals.) I think this one was Arame. It just has to be hydrated, and I thought it tasted great in my salad.
I put some in my tofu scrambler, which is on a bed of lettuce. I really liked it.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Year's Resolution: Eat more fruits and veggies. of my New Year's Resolutions was to start eating more fruits and vegetables. Like REALLY start eating MORE. (To get healthy and to help me lose 15-20 lb.) I know I probably eat more (fruits and veggies, that is) than the average person (since everything I eat has to come from the ground), but honestly, it takes some work for me. If left to my own taste buds, I could survive on cold cereal and sandwiches. Top it off with a handful of chocolate chips. It's not that I don't want to eat more fruits and vegetables. I really do like them. I absolutely love a good salad or a good smoothie. There are many hindrances, though, like: 1) I'm a lazy cook. 2) I don't like going to the grocery store. (Once I'm AT the grocery store, I like it; I just don't like GOING. Because I'm also a lazy driver.)

Fortunately, I do have the natural desire for my family and me to be as healthy as possible. And if I read (and then research) about something that ISN'T good for me, that's all it takes. I don't want it anymore. The thought of eating something artificial or with trans fat, etc. sounds gross to me. I'm not tempted in the least. Although it does have it's problems (socially, I can imagine I'm not the most fun person to hang out with, ha), I'm relieved I am OCD about food. Because if I wasn't, I don't know what would prevent me from stopping through Burger King like every day to get fries. And I have enough trouble losing weight the way it is. I'm just saying, I KNOW it's hard - all of it...losing weight, eating well (but we need to do it anyway!). I'm going to be trying my best. And like I said, since we really haven't been doing much else around here lately, this is all I have to write about.This was our stash from Whole Foods last Saturday. Doesn't it just look beautiful? We bought much less processed/boxed food this time. I have a very bad habit of buying produce and letting it get buried and rotten in my fridge because I'm tired at night and reach for frozen Amy's burgers instead. I'm proud to say we ate almost all of it this week (and what little remained - juicing carrots, a couple of limes, etc. - is still fresh). One of the things that really helped was spreading it all out like this to dry (to keep the fridge stuff from going in wet and molding).We even had to go back to the store several times throughout the week for more fruits and veggies.

We've been having lots of smoothies and salads, and we've also made "spring rolls" using rice paper wrappers. If you have never used these, they're really cool. They are hard like a chip and have to be soaked in water for about 20 seconds. Then just fill it with veggies (we used raw swiss chard, celery, broccoli, carrots, and avocado...and I chopped everything in the food processor ahead of time hoping it would make it easier to chew for the kids) and roll it up. The wrapper sticks together. It's such an amazing texture. Dash, at first, asked if it was food, which is funny and totally logical. They're just like rice noodles, though, if you've ever had those. Totally plain and nothing weird (ingredients: rice flour, tapioca flour starch, salt, water). These can also be fried, if you prefer, but we haven't tried that yet.

On the side: Kristen's Cheezy Hemp Sauce, which I've mentioned before that we love. Also: brazil nuts, which are high in selenium and good for your prostate. Those of you who have one of those. The kids like it when I tell him why a food is good for you. I guess I must have told Dash once that brazil nuts are good for your prostate and had to explain what a prostate is, because he announced at dinner, "Daddy, Brazil nuts are good for your privates."
We've also been making lots of juice.
Fresh juice just smells so ALIVE. (NOT like dirt or whatever it is my Mom says it smells like.) Ryan says he feels really good after he drinks a glass of it.

We had QUITE a bit of excitement this week with the arrival of our new Blendtec blender...though I KNOW the suspense is killing you, I'll have to wait to tell you about it tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Seen and Eaten

This is what I saw last night... (Dash, sleeping on his top bunk)

And this is what I made last night...
Continuing our journey to become more raw...It was the first raw "cheesecake" I have prepared. I used Kristen's Oh My! It's Vanilla Cheesecake recipe from her Desserts ebook. I liked it. The boys liked it, but Sissy said she didn't. (I'll let her try it again today; I think she was a little tired last night and full from split peas and salad. UPDATE: Sissy heartily ate a piece after school.) Tornado asked sweetly if he could go back downstairs after his bath and have another piece. Of course, I said yes. We encourage him, the little skinny fella, to eat anything with healthy fats (this has lots of nuts, coconut, and coconut oil) as much as possible.

Speaking of split peas and salad, the 2 little kids cleaned their plates last night. (Of course, Tornado did, too; that goes without saying.) We have gotten more serious about making Dash try foods that he doesn't want to eat. We've had to sort of spoon it into his mouth (leading us to believe the kid is just being lazy), after everyone is already finished, promising him dessert if he finishes. Some might not agree to this questionable practice, but last night he ate everything on his green-filled plate, without complaining. He was popping that lettuce into his mouth, without being prompted. He's getting used to the taste - if that is any consolation or encouragement to anyone with a picky kid like mine.

Back to dessert...It doesn't taste just like cheesecake - it's something altogether different but tasty in its own right (and much healthier so that's what counts). Having said that, there was an ingredient she recommends to use instead of water (Rejuvelac, made from sprouted wheat berries, and I didn't have this made ahead of time; she says it gives it a cheesy taste and is very healthy/good for digestion.) The texture is sort of amazing, and it has a very cashew-y/coconut-y flavor. There's no baking involved, just food processing, pouring it into the pan, and chilling in the freezer then fridge. I really love the crust - it's basically nuts, dates, coconut, and cacao nibs - and I think I'll use it next time I make a regular cheescake, as well.

That's all I've got for now. We haven't been doing much at all lately. I don't have any new pictures. It seems like when we make it a priority to eat even healthier, that is all that gets done. Plus, I have even more dirty dishes. Oh, yeah, we had to take Dash to the ER this weekend because he was being wild and fell off the bed, landing on his head. what else is new? BUT...he started saying he was nauseous, was laying his head on the toilet, looking totally out of it, and then he threw up.

Apparently, he is just fine, though. I guess throwing up may or may not be indicative of a serious problem. He is the same kid who had to be taken to the ER years ago when he knocked his wooden highchair over and hit his head. He repeatedly threw up that time, too. This whole experience did not bode well in my quest to win Ryan's support for child number 4.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gratitude Community

holy experience
As I continue my list of big things and little things
That I am ever so grateful for
Things that make me smile
Or warm my soul
As I attempt to undue
The grumbling that has taken over
A spot in a dark place of my heart...

the little 2 year old bottom that just made its way onto my lap and the little hand that still likes to make its way down the top of my shirt, to be comforted

an extra day of sleeping in...having my kids at home on this holiday

for the person who spoke out against discrimination and hate

that others take time to give me such amazing ideas on their blogs

how much better body pillows help me sleep

the internet

facebook...I love having the majority (but not all yet, obviously) of the people who have meant something to me in my life all hooked up on one's nice for a stay-at-home mom who tends to get lonely with very little social interaction in her life

my husband has integrity

washable markers


24) when I'm at the grocery store, etc. and I see the other people in line also bringing their own reusable bags - and if you don't do that, please consider doing so! :)

when there is still cereal in the box and milk in the carton on a sleepy morning

the weekend mornings when Ryan gets up without a word to tend to the kids and doesn't happen every morning, and sometimes I do it for him...we can always sort of sense who needs the other to do it

the peaceful fun I had last night while putting together puzzles with the kids

being able to walk outside lately without a coat

the extra time I had this weekend to finally take the ornaments off the tree...and I just KNOW I'm going to get everything Christmas related put in tubs sometime this week... ;)

the amazing knowledge and life experience of my pastor

Synthroid...I might not be here without it

my daughter's original "I love my momma...I love my momma" song

an seemingly endless supply of seemingly clean water

mapquest and the GPS in my car

phone calls from friends and family

that even though my son has a chromosome abnormality, which is the leading cause of miscarriage, he was delivered healthy and at full-term...and that his physical problems have been relatively minimal so far...please pray that he will continue to grow strong and overcome

the beautiful, sincere prayers that come out of my children's mouths

libraries...I could spend all day in one, quietly looking through every aisle

that I've never had to live through the devastation of a house fire, earthquake, tornado, or hurricane

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things
Philippians 4:8

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Vegan Brunch, Variety Show, College Friends, and Sledding, Etc.

During the weekend of New Year's Eve, we did a little Missouri-Illinois tour to visit with a lot of family and friends. We headed up to St. Louis to spend New Year's Eve night with my sister and her family. For some strange reason, I didn't end up with any pictures of them. I'll have to make up for it with photos of the luxurious vegan brunch she served us - which included fruit and berries, yogurt, Chicago Diner muffins,
yummy smoothies,
and breakfast casserole, which we have renamed Cary Casserole. Here is the recipe; it was delicious. I've never had anything like it; it's definitely a repeat-er.
Next we headed over to Ryan's parents' house for 2 nights. After a lunch of veggie/tofu lettuce wraps, we engaged in our first (annual?) family variety show. Grandma Nona read a poem, played the piano and sang a couple of songs.
She was helped out by my kiddos and Cousin "K" who lent their "jingle-bell"ing talents.
Grandpa read the Christmas story from the Bible.
My kids, complete with "cherry noses" and "hats on heads," sang "Must Be Santa" by Raffi
and were even joined by Santa himself. After they finished singing, Dash whispered very sincerely (to Kristi or Jyldyz?), something like, "That was Daddy." One of the favorite moments of my life.
Scott sang and played "Edelweiss." Beautifully, of course.
Jeff, the scientist himself, and his lovely assistants conducted 2 experiments. First, they used vinegar and baking soda to make a "volcano in a bottle." (For the record, I asked Jeff what his talent was going to be about 30 minutes before the "show," and he said he had no idea.) Of course, my kids loved it.
He then talked about solids, liquids, and gases, then created and explained the exception to the rule, a non newtonian substance (cornstarch mixed with water). I learned a new word.
I am a little afraid of Ryan deciding to wear all of his Illini apparel at the same time.
Can you GUESS where Ryan is from? You can see he came by it honestly.
The next stop in our extra long weekend adventure was southwest Missouri, where I grew up and where most of my family and friends remain. We met with some of our very best friends from college: J.C., John and Erin, and Keith (and his wife, Jessica). John and Erin have two kids who are the same ages as Sissy and Dash; we have only gotten them together a couple of times. Sissy said, "I love my girl," after we left.
Dash and "E" are kindred spirits. They are very similar - sweet, smart boys with tons of energy. You should have seen Dash's eyes when he walked into E's room and saw the toy dinosaurs and toy cars, etc.

Our plan was to drive home late that night. Ryan was supposed to work the next day, and we were ready to be home. However, it was snowing, and 65 Hwy. is curvy and was slick. I called ahead to a few police departments who confirmed the roads were pretty questionable. (My brother: "Isn't that what I SAID?" Okay, sometimes I don't always listen to my brother's weather advice because he errs on the side of being too-overly cautious. My whole life, anytime he knows I am driving in bad weather, he calls me every ten minutes, whereas I probably err with being too optimistic.)

This situation explains a lot about me. Even when we KNEW earlier it was going to snow, I kind of shut that knowledge out of my brain. I'd rather just focus on the immediate fun and worry about the problems when the time comes. It sounds like this in my brain, "Everything's going to be fine. It will all work out fine." My husband gets annoyed at me for this, as do other members of my family. I'd like to think there could be a positive spin on this character trait of mine.
And it did work out fine, of course, because my brother lives in Branson, and fortunately, he loves us so much he doesn't mind 5 people, 2 dogs, and lots of stuff bombarding his house at 9:00 at night, with only a minute's notice.

The 3 big boys shared the trundle bed and were very sweet, cuddling up and reading together.
The next morning...the kids were in for a TREAT. I think this was the first time they'd ever been sledding for real. I can think of times pulling Tornado around on a sled with what little snow we get in Arkansas. I know they were glad we got snowed in.
Even laundry baskets make great sleds.
There was one unfortunate incident with Ryan, his tailbone, and the ice. I thought we were going to have to take him to the doctor, but I think he's okay now. Roni and Ghetti loved the snow, too.
The whole cute snow crew...we were grateful that the Missourians are well-stocked in snow gear (like Sissy's snowsuit here) so they were able to supplement our meager Arkansas-weather coverings. It was cold. I always forget how cold cold is.