Tuesday, March 29, 2011


So, a day or six ago*, I came across this post by Betty Beguiles called The Value of Image. And then, today, I came across a blog called Empowered Traditionalist. And I'm wondering if God is trying to tell me something again.

If you had to pick one or three steps to make me look better, what would they be?

(For the record, what you cannot see because of the hat and the angle of the camera is that I have hair that is literally long enough for me to sit on. I keep it braided; I usually only let it down long enough to brush it and wash it before braiding it again.)

*I cannot for the life of me figure out how I came across this post. I don't usually read Betty Beguiles, perhaps because I'm too lazy/tired to make any noticeable efforts regarding how I look, and reading about people who do just makes me feel guilty. But I do read some of her stuff when Jen @ Conversion Diary or Simcha @ I Have To Sit Down (both of whom I am currently following) link to her. I thought that had been how I came across this post, but looking back at their blogs, I see no such link to this post specifically, not since the post was written on the 23rd. The mystery of this makes me wonder all the more if God is telling me something.

UPDATE: Pictures of my hair.
(I had Kyrie take these pictures. When I saw the result on the camera, I was like "What is that white streak down my arm? There's nothing on my arm." I had to laugh when I saw that it was Savi, determined to be in the picture somehow.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


So I was thinking the other day about how my Grandpa, years ago after a trip to Europe, told me that I should travel while I was still young enough to enjoy it. And I was thinking that it looks as if I will never travel, because I will never be able to afford it. And because I will, for the indefinite future, have little kids who need me to take care of them.

Now, mind you, not travelling isn't necessarily a tragedy. I was never one of those people who planned trip after trip to take some day. I have enough "outside my comfort zone" experiences just doing all the things that God pushes me to do here at home.

But then, within a few days of thinking this, I find out that two different gals I know are both taking major trips - one to Europe and one to the Holy Land. And I'm reacting emotionally and wondering if it's all some sort of sign from God that he will be putting a trip in my future, or what? It's not something I usually think about much, and here it just seems to keep coming up. But I don't know.

(It may also be slightly ironic given the issues I am having with the van, that make it hard for me to even get across town to see my friends.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ah, kids.

Kyrie, holding a paintbrush: "Mom! Gabe put this in paint and then put it in his mouth!"

Gabe comes running in a moment later, crying, and says: "Da da da Teerwee."

(The 'da da da' thing is just something he usually says before he says whatever word he's actually thinking.)

So, yes, my two year old son is trying to tell on his big sister for stopping him from eating paint.

Yogurt Update

Yesterday morning, the second and third batches of yogurt had gotten a little bit thicker, so I put them in the fridge and tried the second batch on my salad for lunch. (I always use yogurt as a salad dressing, because it's the only thing that makes it taste reasonably good to me, by masking the bitter taste of raw vegetables.) It wasn't completely horrible, but it was definitely too milky. I could probably have achieved the same effect by mixing yogurt and milk in equal portions and pouring it over the salad. In fact, that was probably what it amounted to. I think the yogurt strains didn't really grow at all from the starter yogurt into the heated milk, probably because I didn't insulate it well enough to keep it at a temperature that it would grow well at. Hopefully Ken will be able to go grocery shopping tonight. (My van is at the dealership for repairs, so I can't go grocery shopping myself). We drank the last of our milk this morning; when I get more, I will make another attempt, this time trying to insulate it better.

Monday, March 14, 2011



For before/after photos of the tsunami. Click and drag the blue thing in the middle to see the area before and after.


This robot is eerily realistic.

Ken is Home

Yay, Ken is home. Well, he's off to work now. But I got to see him. :)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Photo Albums

So Kyrie was not feeling well this morning, had no appetite, and was running a temp of 99.0.  If Ken was home, I'd have just left her home with him and gone to church myself. But he's out of town visiting his Dad in Hawaii (his dad is in poor health); Ken gets home tonight. So I opted to stay home from church and not expose people to whatever bug Kyrie has, mild though it may be. (Just a bit ago, I discovered a huge wad of Kleenex where she had been sitting on the couch, so I think it was probably for the best.) For the same reason, we didn't go to the Parents Meeting (as in, parents of kids in Kyrie's First Communion classes) that we were supposed to go to today.

With my day suddenly looking more open, I ambitiously decided to start sorting my photos. The last time I put photos in an actual photo album was, apparently, just after Kyrie was born in 2003. I have a shoebox and a shoebox-sized basket full of random miscellaneous photos. And when I say random, I mean that it appears as if someone took my entire lifetime's worth of photos so far (at least up to when I switched to a digital camera) and shuffled them like a deck of cards. I'd find a photo from my high school years, followed by one of Kyrie's baptism, followed by one from when Elijah was about one, followed by one from my wedding, followed by one from when I was 10, followed by one from my time in Seattle, followed by one from Kyrie's birth.

I sorted them into:
"From before Ken and I got married"
"Kyrie's babyhood"
"Everything after Elijah was born"
"After we moved to Oregon" (That was about when we switched to a digital camera, so there aren't too many of those.)

Most of the first three categories are backups of photos that I already have in my albums, so it wasn't *too* hard to get them sorted into the little photo envelopes - and I labelled them with sticky notes so that I hopefully won't ever have to do this again. I got some, but not all, of Kyrie's baby pictures into the album.  But the "after Elijah was born" stack is about a foot high, covering two years worth of photos (including duplicates - duplicates, I may add, which are NOT next to their copies, but are shuffled just as randomly).

There are several baby photos in there which I cannot for the life of me decide which baby it is. I threw out a number of photos that basically showed nothing at all. (There's this one photo where the top half - or the bottom half, you can't tell - is red, and the other half is black. I believe I found FOUR identical copies of this completely useless photo. The fact that I still have them is proof that I used to be a pack rat, I guess.) There was also one or two photos of people who I didn't recognize, and wasn't even sure if I was *supposed* to recognize them or not. Egads. :)

Progress is being made, though, and I'm looking forward to whenever it might be done. I'm motivated to do this now, because a friend gave me a code for a free photobook from Shutterfly, and I want to figure out what photos to put in there. (Good till the end of the month, I think... Shutterfly is also offering me a 50-free-prints deal, which I want to use to print off some of the better digital photos from the post-Oregon years, and add them to the albums too. Also good only til the end of the month.)



This is my first attempt at following this homemade yogurt recipe. It was a very spontaneous decision to just go ahead and try it, since I have enough milk and some store-bought yogurt on hand to use as a starter. It's a very tiny batch: just enough to fit in the mason jar that I've had sitting around my kitchen for probably half a year now, ever since a friend gave me crazy delicious peach butter. 

This first batch didn't go so well. I got it going around one or two yesterday afternoon, and this morning it was still milky. It did have a slight yogurt-y taste to it, but it was a lot more milk than yogurt. So I dumped it and started over again. I thought maybe I didn't add enough yogurt the first time. (I didn't feel like actually measuring out how much milk I had and making the proper conversions from the recipe so I just put a heaping spoonful in and called it good.) 

When I made the second batch, I was trying to start clearing the dishes out while the milk heated. As a result, it heated up way more than the recommended 180 degrees: I think it was actually starting to boil before I took it off. I had no idea if that was going to affect the yogurt-making process or not. I thought about throwing it out and starting over with some new milk. But eventually I decided to go ahead and try it, to see what happens, but also to start another batch on the side. I grabbed a jam jar out of the recycling and washed it off (while finishing washing the dishes so that they wouldn't distract me again). I made both the second and third batch with close to half a 6-oz yogurt container each. I also (belatedly) put another towel around and over the two, in case the smaller towel was insufficient insulation for the first batch. Which, now that I think about it, is pretty likely.

It's getting to be evening now, and the two batches are still pretty milky (after... 7ish hours). I think I'll have to see how they are in the morning. But I'm guessing that a big problem is that I'm not insulating them well enough to keep them warm. Any more attempts will have to wait, though, until Ken has time to go grocery shopping and get us more milk. We're too low on it to use it up on experiments.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

PicVids: Kyrie & Savi's BDay & Miscellaneous

I keep thinking I posted this already, but then I look back and don't see it, so here it is.  This is, as far as I remember, Kyrie's first official self-portrait. She sat on the bathroom sink and looked in the mirror to draw herself. Maybe I'll post Elijah's self-portrait too, because it's pretty hilarious in comparison. 

Yep, that's right. That's Elijah's self-portrait. I hope it made you laugh as much as I did. (And don't worry, I tried very hard not to laugh in Elijah's face. I think I succeeded. Mostly.)


Kyrie's Birthday!

That's right, this was Kyrie's birthday, not Savi's. But she was too busy drawing with her new art toy to pay attention to the fact that the lights were off and people were singing Happy Birthday to her. :)


This is a somewhat random photo of one of the outfits that my brother Caleb got for Julie. (Note: I might start calling her Jules sometimes.)  Other samples that I can remember off the top of my head include "Hi, I'm new here." and "You're old."


The girls were all dressed up in their costumes and decided they wanted to lay near Jules.

Gabe wants the phone.


Yeah, so there was this day back a few weeks ago where all my family and friends in the Midwest were putting up pictures or comments on Facebook about the feet of snow on the ground.  So I took this picture, and wanted to put it up on Facebook and go, "Ha ha. Look, we got snow too!".  But then I was too lazy to do that. :)

Savi's Birthday! 


I love her smile so much.


Julie's first solid food. Or at least her first "official" solid food. I've been tearing off minuscule bites of breads and cakes in the last couple weeks for her to swallow whole. But this is the Yo-baby whole milk organic yogurt that I fed her. 

Video of the first feeding.


I still think this is hilarious.  Hey!  The book says that it's real food, right there on the cover! This was the awesome photo that I referred to in my earlier "food thoughts" post.

Various cute things the kids have done:

(Yes, I know Savi shows her underwear in the first seconds, but try to ignore it. If you lived with us, you would have lots of practice ignoring it because that girl just does not get the concept of modesty. At all.) I love the part where Gabe suddenly just yells right by Elijah's ear, and Elijah doesn't even flinch. Because, you know, that's just what living with Gabe is like. :)

They're doing the "running" thing for the Wii Fit. There's a two-player-race option that they got going. I find them hysterical.

You might not be able to hear it, but Gabe makes these cute "pshew pshew" sounds when he shoots people with the pan.

Julie's first turn on the iPad. Epic moment for her, right? ;)

Jules gives her first kiss! Lucky Dad.

This one is good because Julie laughs (which is actually pretty rare for her; strange because she otherwise seems the most social and smile-y of all my babes); and because Savi looks so adorable in her new outfit, sweetly trying to make Jules laugh.

Friday, March 11, 2011


So we didn't do any homeschooling this week. Well, I guess we did about an hour and a half of it on Monday.  But mostly we have been busy with other things.

I *could* look at this and say that my kids learned nothing this week.  Or I could look at it and say that Monday and Thursday involved field trips out to the woods/Multnomah Falls (part of my apparently never-ending attempt to get my van through DEQ and renew the stickers/tabs)... Tuesday's baby shower involved actual social time with kids who weren't their siblings (all that "socialization" that people seem to worry homeschooled kids don't get enough of)... Wednesday they learned (or I hope they did) why we get ashes on our forehead on Ash Wednesday. Today... well, today involved another trip to the dealership. Technically, the kids did do some reading of the kids books that were in the dealership's waiting area (way to go, dealership!), so that was probably semi educational. And now they're spending three hours watching the old British version of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, which I will also count as educational. Next Monday it's back to the dealership again, and if they ever manage to fix whatever is wrong, we will need to take yet another "field trip" out to the Multnomah Falls area. (Because DEQ insists that I need a "drive cycle" to get the catalyst "Ready" in order to take the emissions test.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

And Yet More

Oh yeah, and I'm wondering whether it would work if I stop letting the kids eat their sweetened yogurt for two, maybe three months, and then re-introduce them to plain yogurt, or maybe even homemade yogurt with pure maple syrup or honey added in. But I have to watch myself; I'm going to get into trouble if I start thinking that the kids and I can have as much sweet food as we want, provided the sweetness comes from "good" sources like maple syrup and local honey instead of from regular sugar or corn syrup or whatever. Better sweets is fine, but sweets still need to have some reasonable limits on them.

More Food Thoughts

Ok, so I kept seeing references to "sweetbreads" that was confusing me, because it was being upheld by people who didn't seem very big on eating breads or sweetened anything. Then I came across something that outright said "no breads were used" and listed "sweetbreads" as one of the foods used. So I googled it, and found out that "sweetbreads" are not remotely like "sweet breads", they are things like the throat and glands of animals. Yeah.I think I'll pass.

I'm reading through the Clara Davis experiment and wondering if there is some way to get ahold of the original Weston Price research. (The Price Foundation conclusions seem a bit... spurious, I guess, but I'd like to see more on the research itself.)

I'm trying to keep in mind, too, that researching healthy food is sort of like the formula/breastfeeding debate. All the evidence says that breastfeeding is better, but thousands, if not millions, of babies have been raised on formula and grown up to be perfectly ok. If you look at some stranger, you're not going to be able to tell "Hey, that person was breastfed!" or "Oh, he must have been raised on formula." In the same way, there may be something to the fact that pastured eggs or raw milk or grass-fed cows or home cooking are more nutritious, but it will be a matter of "statistical significance" rather than some sort of black-and-white "this one gets sick; this one doesn't" sort of thing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Food Thoughts

Ok, so specialty eggs aren't more nutritious or better-tasting than regular "commercial" eggs, but "pastured" eggs *are* more nutritious. You can see on that last link that Cornucopia Institute rates various egg-producers. There is only one egg farm in Oregon that received their highest ranking: Phoenix Egg Farm. The closest place to get Phoenix eggs is 7 miles away. (Portland is an awesome place for the food-lovers movement, but the organic/local foods movement is mostly aimed at central/westside Portland, not here in the eastside ghettos). Not a convenient drive to make on a regular basis, just for better eggs. However, when the Gresham farmer's market opens back up, I might buy their eggs. I know I saw one of the farms that sold vegetables also having a few cartons of eggs to sell. They aren't really major egg producers, so they wouldn't be rated by Cornucopia, but I'm betting their chickens are pastured, simply because they probably don't have all that many of them, what with it being a vegetable farm rather than a major egg farm.

On dairy... I'm wondering about raw milk. Apparently there's a brand called Organic Valley (which Cornucopia gives a high rating on - although they don't explain what their ratings for dairy places is based on as well as they do for eggs) which makes a raw milk cheddar cheese, which I've been wanting to try the taste of. Unfortunately, they can't tell me if anyone close by actually carries any particular product (although I know I've seen Organic Valley milk at the grocery stores around, before). There's two "natural foods" stores in my area that I want to try out, and see what they have, in this and other categories.

Sour Salty Bitter Sweet - the blog that I'm reading through that has a number of articles which are a sort of insider, food-lover's critique of the Michael Pollan/Food, Inc. movement. (A movement which she once referred to as something like the new Church of Food and which someone else referred to as "Greener-than-thou". Since it's actually kind of difficult to put a single name on the movement, which has a number of branches with similar but different takes on which foods are the best, I'm going to call it the Pollan movement, since Michael Pollan is the biggest voice out there that I've seen. Anyhow, I'm thinking of asking the Sour Salty Bitter Sweet author for thoughts on raw milk/organic milk.

I like the taste of homemade bread better than storebought, and I really like trusting the ingredients instead of not really being sure what I'm getting, with store-bought breads. But I don't really like *making* homemade bread on a regular basis. Even the really simple and quick recipe that I found is too time-consuming for me to do every day or every few days or even every week. (And we eat a lot of bread here. Even given the fact that the kids don't like my homemade bread as well as storebought, mostly because it's crumblier, which makes it hard to hold a sandwich together). I don't know if I should just settle for Safeway brand 100% whole wheat bread, or pay more for Dave's Killer Bread (which is yummier, for me at least, and possibly healthier), or something else.

It did occur to me that if I made my own homemade applesauce, I could can it in single-serving Mason jars. I'm a little wary of the ingredients in store applesauces, and I definitely don't like the waste involved (packaging-wise) in single-serving store applesauces. But applesause and yogurt are two things that we don't eat if they aren't in single-serving containers. Call it laziness if you will, but I just can't run my day by having to stop what I'm doing every time one of the four kids wants a snack, go pour yogurt or applesauce into a bowl for them, and put it back in the fridge. The kids eat yogurt all the time, because when they ask me if they can have it, all I have to do is say "Sure", and they go get it out of the fridge, grab themselves a spoon, and eat it. I might have to take the top off for Savi and Gabe, but they grab the containers themselves and bring them over to wherever I'm doing whatever it is I'm doing, and I just peel the top off and hand it back to them. Easy peasy.

On the other hand, maybe if I do find a store applesauce whose ingredients I am comfortable with (do they have no-sugar-added applesauces?), I could just bring a large jar home and divide it up into single-serving mason jars at home and achieve the same effect, without all the hassle of actually trying to make my own applesauce. Large applesauce jars can usually be found in glass containers, which are recyclable, and very much preferred (by me) to the small plastic containers that (a) aren't recyclable (b) won't decompose in the next umpteen years and (c) contribute to that whole oil-dependence-on-the-middle-east thing that isn't good for us. The mason jars I could reuse indefinitely, I think, even if I did have to wash them. The more I think about that idea, the more I like it. Next time I go shopping, I'll have to look at applesauce ingredients. And buy some mini-mason jars. Or maybe what I think of as the regular size jars.

Which brings me to yogurt. The kids eat quite a bit of those single-serving flavored yogurts. When I was a kid, those were considered special treats for us, because they are more expensive than the large tubs of plain (unsweetened) yogurt. I tried giving my kids unsweetened yogurt once, and they didn't care for it. But it does seem to me that they get unnecessary/unhealthy amounts of sugar from those sweetened yogurts. And the constant waste of small plastic containers is rather obnoxious. Dividing the larger plastic containers up into mason jars would probably not be much better, although it might be worth it if I could switch them to plain yogurt at the same time, and have the cool new packaging be a selling point for it. I wonder if I could learn to make my own yogurt; my guess is that it would be more work than I'm really likely to put into it, especially given that homemade bread is too much for me, and I *love* that. But I will probably at least look it up. Might be easier getting higher-fat yogurts for Elijah that way, too.

And then there's the whole saturated fat/trans fat thing. The book Real Food first introduced me to the idea that saturated fat foods (think hamburgers and butter) don't actually cause heart disease, and that eating foods with cholesterol in them is not bad for you. (The book basically painted high cholesterol levels as the body's way of trying to repair damage that was caused by something else - mainly hydrogenated oils.)  It is suddenly important to me to know whether or not any of that is actually *true* because Ken has developed high blood pressure. He's taking some meds, which have brought it down quite a bit, and the meds have made him nauseous when he eats fatty foods, which he thinks is healthy for him. And he lost 13 pounds, so it probably *is* healthy for him. But I would like to have some idea of how much I should be encouraging him to eat lower-fat options, and how much I should be targeting any efforts at some other culprit. Although, it probably wouldn't hurt to try to cut out all hydrogenated oils (which is more or less equivalent to trans fat) and still reduce his saturated fat content too.

I have a great photo to post, I think, but that will have to wait until I upload photos from the camera and all that jazz.


My day:

Get up at 5:30am (actually slightly before). Wake up kids. Drive Ken to the airport. We used some more of our tax refund to get him a plane ticket to Hawaii, because his dad sent us an email about his poor health, and we want to make sure Ken (at least) gets to see him again.

After dropping Ken off at the airport, we came back and had breakfast at McDonald's. Because (1) we had very little groceries in the house and (2) I figured letting the kids play in the Playland area would be a good way to kill time until morning Mass. The McDonald's is very close to our parish.

So then we went to the 9am Mass for Ash Wednesday. There's nothing to make me appreciate having Ken come to Mass with us so much as having to take all five kids without him. They were, however, rather better than usual today. Maybe I should let them run around Playland for an hour and a half every Sunday morning before Mass? Gabe was decidedly noisy, though. He kept wanting to talk loudly about everything.

Then we went grocery shopping. (See point 1 above). Savi hurt her finger somehow (while kneeling on the floor with her hand on the cart - but I don't see how she could have gotten it run over or pinched, so I don't know how it happened) and ended up crying (loudly, obnoxiously) for a fair amount of the time. Fortunately, there weren't too many people in the store on a Wed. morning.

Oh, and this guy who worked at the grocery store was very surprised that Elijah and Savi are not twins. Yes, sadly, my almost-7 year old is the size of his just-turned-5 sister. I was delighted when I found some yogurt with 6 grams of fat per container.  Each time I go shopping lately, I try to find high-fat yogurt for Elijah, because he's been into eating yogurt lately, and I want to fatten his skinny self up any way I can. But usually, 90% of Safeway's selection is fat-free, and the highest fat is still billed as "low-fat", maybe 2 or 2.5 g/serving. I bought some Yo-Baby (whole milk) banana yogurt last time because it had 4g/serving, but he didn't like it. (I tasted some - it was the creamiest, best tasting yogurt I have ever had). So I was happy to find the new 6g/serving yogurt, and we picked out several for Elijah to try.

Anyhow, then we went home and crashed. The kids have spent the rest of the day watching Netflix on the iPad and playing Kinectimals and such. I've spent most of the rest of the day reading various articles on the blog sour salty bitter sweet and trying to wrap my head around the question of what I want to do about food; what food claims am I going to believe, and how am I going to let it affect my life?  I'm rereading the book Real Food by Nina Planck, in an attempt to wrestle with this question better. I think I might post another post putting my thoughts so far down, so I can remember them.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Link For You

Since my brother complained that I haven't been posting anything lately, let me just say that I'm busy. And to give you an idea of how busy I am, I present the following.  In the last month or so I have made:

2 trips to DMV
4 trips to DEQ (five if you count going yesterday when I forgot that they weren't open Mondays)
4 trips to our regular mechanic
4 trips to the Ford dealership

And I still have to go back to DEQ and the DMV again, hopefully today.  And that's just for the van.  That's not even counting the birthday parties, buying a new Macbook Air, getting all organized with it, watching Gabe break the new Macbook Air, trying to get it fixed, trying to get a new project going that God told me to do (an email newsletter to share stories about what God's doing in people's lives), getting some People of Praise stories for my prayer group (which we listened to last night, Dad, and it was really good - thanks!), library trips, OMSI trips, homeschooling, laundry, dishes, yada yada.

If I ever catch up with myself, I do hope to put some pictures up here eventually, of Kyrie and Savi's birthdays. In the meantime, enjoy this link.