Wednesday, March 28, 2012

You'll thank me later

I can't confess to being much of a tea drinker. I'm trying to get into it but it's very forced. Part of the problem is that, coming from the south, I believe the only way that tea (or any other beverage for that matter!) can and should be consumed is if it is frigid cold and excessively sweet.

I'm trying to be healthier but my tastebuds sometimes do not cooperate. At any rate, I've found the most awesome combination. And yes, buying each of these products individually can be pricey. (This is probably not a habit I could in good conscious maintain.) BUT! If you want to make healthy drinks at home and beat Starbucks prices, this is all good.

And oh. is. it. good! (!!! <--- added emphasis)



First, you take one bag of Zhena's Gypsy Tea Chocolate Chai Tea and you make a cup of tea about four hours before you intend to drink it. (This is my problem. I can't get into tea when I have to remember to make a glass hours before I intend to consume it!)

While it is still hot, add some Madhava Organic Agave Nectar - Raspberry flavored. Agave helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels but satisfies the sweet tooth!




After the drink has been sufficiently cooled off by your handy dandy refrigerator, pour in about a tablespoon (or so) of Pacific Natural Foods Hazelnut Chocolate flavored "milk."




(The chocolate nutty flavor compliments everything else fantastically well!)

All of the above combined creates a flavor that makes you think that you are eating a chocolate raspberry truffle. It is A-maz-ing.



I made it for a friend of mine and she said it was like, "Dessert in a cup." That's a direct quote in case you were wondering.

Dessert in a cup.

You're welcome.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Monday Daybook


I've seen a few bloggers participate in the The Simple Woman's Daybook and this particular Monday morning, I thought I would play along. It was a fantastically busy and crazy weekend, but this morning is meant for a bit of calm. I hope.

Outside my window... I haven't actually opened the blinds yet. In our temporary housing, our window looks directly into the window of the people who live directly across a very narrow street. I try to think that I'm living in Europe. It would help immensly if the streets were cobblestone. Living here requires Anne Powers of Imagination.

I am thinking... about how FANTASTICALLY EXCITED I am to be able to say that it very much looks in every way as though we will be able to MOVE HOME THIS WEEK! It's been almost two months since we had to move out.

I am thankful... that our insurance adjuster agreed to tear down and replace our kitchen walls last week. We had a work crew in this weekend and we should have brand-new kitchen walls by the end of tomorrow. And no smell.

In the kitchen... of either of our houses there is a great mess.

I am wearing... a t-shirt and casual pants.

I am creating... order out of chaos.

I am going... to get a lot of work done today. (I hope.) We shall start by catching up on e-mails (working on that) and cleaning up the temp house a bit. I need to pack up some of our stuff so that I can take it back over to our real home this afternoon.

I am wondering... when my baby girl is going to take off walking for good. She took SIX steps this past weekend! And oh, she was so proud.

I am reading... A Prayer for Owen Meany. I'm not sure how long I'll be reading it though. I hate it. But the storyteller is a good one and he unfolds things very slowly which keeps me reading.

I am hoping... that my son's eye heals completely. This past weekend he received a serious scratch on his cornea which turned the weekend upside down a bit. Codeine and lights kept him grounded in a darkened bedroom. Last night he was finally able to open his eye again. It looks red and puffy still, but it is open.

I am looking forward to... being done sniffing through all the contents of our house.

I am learning... oh. so. much.

Around the house... children are working on summersaults, walking and reading books.

I am pondering... the weather. Deep folks. Really deep.

A favorite quote for today...

In marriage, losing is . . . "doing what is right and good for your spouse, even when big things need to be sacrificed, like a job, or a relationship, or an ego. It is forgiveness, quickly and voluntarily. It is eliminating anything from your life, even the things you love, if they are keeping you from attending, caring, and serving."

(From this article, Marriage is For Losers, which I highly recommend.)

One of my favorite things... is watching (or listening to) my three children play happily together.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Move. Back. Home.

A peek into my day... Packing, cleaning, washing, driving, holding little hands, making food, feeding, talking, replacing, driving, sniffing and typing up lists.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wanted: A Car Babysitter

What's this?

I think it's genius. I don't know why it's not advertised.

******


Are you tired of hauling multiple small children in and out of their carseats to drag them into stores for very brief periods of time?


Are you anxious to cut down your time while out running errands?


What YOU need a Car Babysitter!!!


A car babysitter solves almost every errand-running problem known to the modern mother. Need to run errands with the kids in the pouring rain? Not looking forward to hustling multiple children in and out of stores? Does only ONE child need to go to the bathroom during that necessary pit stop!? Do you need to dash into the post office for only just a second, or into the grocery store for a single loaf of bread? Behold, the glory of the Car Babysitter!

For the price of one Starbuck's beverage of their choice and $5 of cold hard cash, you can enjoy the company and convenience of the Car Babysitter for an hour or so. She'll sit in the passenger seat of your car and talk to you as you drive around town. With luck, she'll be a witty and engaging personality. She'll entertain the children and stand guard over them as you waltz in and out of stores with ease and precision. (And even if she is as dull as a doorknob, the chances are she can still successfully occupy a passenger seat and make sure that no hard comes to the children in your momentary absences from the vehicle.)

The modern mother would be able to run errands about 62.344% faster by employing a Car Babysitter.

Almost 97% satisfaction guaranteed success! (The variables being the State of the Children during errand running and the wit of the Car Babysitter.)

******


I just made this up as far as I know but I think someone could make themselves a boatload of money out of marketing themselves to mothers this way. *I* would pay for a Car Babysitter. In the meantime, I just assume that one day my oldest will function in this capacity and that will indeed be a glorious day.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Songs for a Broken Record, Part 3



(From There Is a Bird On Your Head! which might very well be my new favorite Elephant and Piggie book!)

A week or so ago, I linked to this post by Nancy Wilson and shared this quote:

Spurgeon said that we can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair. But if there are already some nests settled in, ask God to help you pull them out. Then listen to what kind of company you have been keeping with your thoughts. If it’s bad company, show them the door.


The idea of Worry Birds building a nest in my hair has stuck with me. Unfortunately, so has the worry and the frustration of the nest construction. Furthermore, the Worry Birds are breeding! This past weekend I hit a wall and lost it. I finally had my first big cry after being displaced from our house a month and a half ago. We're so very close to getting back into it, but we aren't quite there yet. It is frustrating. (Also, it is seriously not easy trying to arrange to move with three small children.) I liken this part of our journey out of home to the tail end of pregnancy. Oh, you know that baby is coming. But that baby is never. going. to. come! Fun times.

There is a bird on my head.

At one point I got in the car to run errands and I had a Steve Green cassette in the player. This song was being played:




The Refiner's fire
Has now become my souls desire
Purged and cleansed and purified
That the Lord be glorified
He is consuming my soul
Refining me, making me whole
No matter what I may lose
I choose the Refiner's fire


Only the problem was, this fire was not my soul's desire at the time. My soul's desire was something else entirely. I craved instant relief. (Ok, ok, ok . . . I still do.)


I'm learning now to trust His touch
To crave the fire's embrace
For though my past with sin was etched
His mercies did erase
Each time His purging cleanses deeper
I'm not sure that I'll survive
Yet the strength in growing weaker
Keeps my hungry soul alive


I'm learning. And sometimes it really doesn't feel like I'll survive. It's not the losing of stuff that bothers me. It's the stress and testing involved in losing it. If I could just take it all to Goodwill and dump it myself, I'd be in a much less strained position. And I would also feel gloriously in charge - which is what I really want to be.

But isn't that the way we typically feel about dealing with sin? Oh, sure, we're happy to deal with it if we can do so in our own way and in our own time. Easy enough to make our own decisions. But the removal of sin from our life generally produces pain. God confronts our blackened hearts and sick souls and says, "Be holy." And we say, "Ok! That sounds GREAT! I like the sound of holiness!" Then He begins the process of sanctifying us and making us holy so that we can stand in His presence and suddenly it's not so great. We're not in control. We're in His hands and we have only to respond with humility and gratefulness. Oh, and did I mention that we're also supposed to be patient and wait for His timing in completing the sanctifying process?! Yeah. It's really fun.

But it is good.

I still have birds and nests to knock out of my hair. I have kept company with bad thoughts this weekend and have taken on worries that I should not have. I haven't trusted and I insisted on having my way. I didn't get my way. I got a lesson on submitting all things to the Lord instead. And I'm reminded that His timing is not always my timing. His timing is perfect.



Lord, please show me everyday
As You're teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say
In Your Time

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Sometimes it hurts to be right.


Baby in the womb at 10 weeks gestation


Jonathan pointed out this article to me in which the argument is being made that killing babies (already born) is no different from having an abortion.

It isn't, you know. Because life itself has already been devalued.

Pro-lifers have been scoffed for suggesting that if we continue to allow abortions to happen, then we can expect people to start taking logical steps to devaluing life as we see it outside of the womb. We've asked the question, "What happens when we decide the disabled and infirm are too heavy a burden on society? Will we advocate killing them also?" We've been told we're stupid for asking such questions. We have been harrased for using and applying logic to our arguments as to why we must support and choose life from the moment of conception, no matter the circumstances or situation which brought that life into question.

I consider this article validation for the pro-life movement. We've been asking society when to expect this. The time has now come. We've been right all along, thanks to the brazen honesty of two men at Oxford.

But sometimes it hurts to be right.

Abortion hurts everyone. Make no mistake about it.


(I highly recommend watching this video.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Songs for a Broken Record, Part 2

I think every day that we are in temporary housing is a little bit harder than the last. When it rains, I feel claustrophobic without our big windows letting in light. When it's sunny I miss our yard. Now that I've actually begun The Great "Garden" Project this year, I want to be home to tend to my new plants.

My attitude is NOT always good and I frequently feel stressed out. It's never been more important to continue with my daily scripture reading than now. (It's always important, but when the going gets rough, it's important to lock-in!) I just finished re-reading Genesis and finished up with the story of Joseph once again. He was removed from his home -
and he was never able to go back! He had to ask his relations to vow to remove his bones from Egypt and carry them into the promised land some day in the future. I think it's reasonable to assume that my bones will not need to be carried out of this house and that I will not have to have my children vow any such thing to me. But in some moments I feel like it may very well come to that. (And it's only been a month!) I can feel the frustration building and it's harder to keep a lid on it. Bookworm1 asked me yesterday, "WHEN are we going to move HOME?!"

"No one knows." Only God. And He's not letting on.

This verse rises to the surface of my thoughts:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Ps. 90:12


Our time here will be short, relatively speaking. Although the spirit of adventure has been diminished, it doesn't have to disappear completely; it can be revived. But there is only one true way to revive it and that is to surrender my wishes, my expectations, my fancies, my opinions and my will to the Lord. He can breath life into this situation and teach me many things if I will seek after Him. I know this for a fact; I believe it with my whole heart. But every time I open another box of our belongings and have to begin sniffing I want to pitch fit. (And I also pretty much want to pitch everything into a dumpster and just start fresh!) Following Christ is not easy. Not at all. (If anyone tells you otherwise, you can bet they are absolutely selling you something!) Praising Him when the going gets rough is not exactly the first thing that comes to my mind. Truth be told, it's usually the last. But I must. I must praise Him in this.

Why?

Because He has not ceased to be good.

He has not ceased to be omniscient.

He has not ceased to be loving.

He has not ceased being holy. He still demands my praise. And I must learn to give it no matter what I'm feeling at the time.

Music is a way in which God tends to remind me of these truths. I was getting ready for the day one morning and this old and extremely simple song of Amy Grant's popped into my head. (Don't dismiss it just because the song is from Amy Grant. This was back in her frizzy hair days. It's alright.)



The Lord has a will,
And I have a need
To follow that will,
To humbly be still,
To rest in it,
Nest in it,
Fully be blessed in it,

Following my Father's will.

Your love, Lord, is in my heart.
You wrote it there; it won't depart.
It lights my way and keeps me out of the dark.


His will is for me and my family to be in temporary housing for an undetermined period of time. It is not to be in our home. It is to take us outside of our comfort zone and see us praise Him in all of the nitty gritty details.

It is not fun.

He didn't say it would be.

He simply said to follow and obey. Accept and praise. It's one of the hardest things we controlling humans feel like doing. But there it is. We are to praise Him no matter the circumstances.

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11




My lips will praise You
For You are holy
My voice will ever
Rise before Your throne
My heart will love You
For You are lovely
And You have called me
To become Your own


And so we continue to wait. We remind ourselves that God is in control and that we are still in His hands. We are waiting and He is working out our salvation. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.



I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship

While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Month In

It's been a month since The Great Smoke Out. We're still in temporary housing with no concrete ending date in sight.

I'm not going to lie - some moments are just plain frustrating. I just typed up a list of the things that were annoying to me and then I deleted it. Writing up a list caused me to inhale and exhale again. You don't need to see The List of Frustrations. I don't need to dwell on it. Life goes on. We're here in our townhouse for now, but eventually we have to be home.

I was attempting to think of something clever to say in this One Month Anniversary post but I've really got nothin.' I'll end with a smile, because that's probably the best thing to do.

Last night Jonathan and I had the task of unpacking several boxes of items that had been returned to us marked "Clean." Every item that is returned to us we have to sniff thoroughly to see if we can detected any smoke smell. So basically we sniff like drug dogs, grouping items together, separating things, all in an effort to try and find that illusive-but-still-present smell which is lurking in the piles. WHICH item is unclean?!?! It's a long process of sniffing one item at a time, over and over again. At any rate, the kids were watching us do this.

We had just finished changing Baby's diaper and had laid the diaper in a pile of trash that we were going to clear out. Jonathan and I both had our noses on items when I looked over and baby had grabbed her diaper and was smelling it in like fashion.

That was an easy test.

We declared the diaper UNCLEAN and promptly rejected it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Forks Over Knives :: Update No. 1


As I mentioned, some friends of ours watched Forks Over Knives and were talking about it and so we watched it also. While finding the film to have certain, um, propaganda qualities to it, we were also persuaded to march towards vegetarianism. And then I went to see a naturopathic physician and she explained how the film uses a lot of bad science to make its point. She does agree that we need not to be eating dairy. However, she would suggest meat in moderation (rare occasions.) Her favorite source of protein though is The Bean which we've always eaten a fair amount of anyway.

I keep mentioning this documentary and how it changed a few things in our diet and I thought I'd take a moment to just...reflect.

I should also probably tell you right up front that I'm not really a person who likes to research things a great deal. Details, details, details! ;) I'm more of a person who likes to ride on the tails of other people's research, provided that I trust them, of course! Research loving people save me infinite amounts of time and I appreciate them very much! Here is a very generalized picture of how things have looked and do look for us in our "More Vegetarian" world which is based entirely on other people's research. I like to think there is a dash of common sense thrown in. You can judge that for yourselves.

Week 1:

We ate nothing but fruits and veggies. Not a bit of protein. That was rather on accident though. Truthfully, I was all inspired to cook with nothing but veggies and I simply forgot about adding even beans! On the one hand, I was massively proud of my creativity with things like eggplants and endives. Just me and the greens! (I even found a way to have my family consume kale without gagging! And Bookworm1 discovered that he dearly loves tomatoes. (He said he wished we could eat tomatoes at every meal.)

I was so veggie powerful. (ROWWRR! Were you scared?)

Except I felt lethargic and I had a pounding headache. (My optimism and enthusiasm can ignore these things. For a little while anyway.)

On Sunday I allowed myself to eat a turkey and bacon sandwich in honor of celebrating Sabbath. I may and or may not have licked up the bacon crumbs which fell from my sandwich and on to the plate.

Week 2:

I went to see the naturopath and asked for her opinion about the video. I explained our diet and she explained that she likes whole foods, some meat products, very tiny bits of cheese, lots of brightly colored fruits and plenty of vegetables. I honed in on "you can eat protein every now and again" and I made soup with ground turkey the very next day. It was so delicious I could have fainted but didn't have to because I had enough protein to keep me alive.

I find that I like a little bit of protein in the morning, more for lunch, and a salad for dinner. This works well because I can experiment with salads which is also fun. The most unusual one we've had so far is a Spring salad with mint, rasberries, raspberry lime dressing and a lemon zest Stilton cheese. It was a little exotic and fruity for our typical tastes but interesting all the same. (My favorite salad so far involves spinach, onions caramelized with red wine sauce, chopped hazelnuts and tomatoes.)

This week I learned that avacados do not taste like what they look like to me. They are alright. We might just become good friends.

I mash Bookworm1's avacados into whatever he is eating so that he doesn't have to think about them. And Bookworm2 declared he really didn't care for tomatoes.

Week 3:

We started the Sabbath/Sunday celebration off right with homemade roasted chicken pizza and we've moved on from there. The chicken was free-range and it didn't look like my regular frozen Foster Farms chicken. It looked like what I guess real chicken looks like. Red in some parts. Bloody. I cut fat off. It was strange looking. I might have been a tiny bit grossed out and I may and/or may not have been grateful that we do not raise our own chickens for meat. Foster Farms must sanitize everything I guess. I haven't decided whether or not I'm grateful. And I should say that the free range chicken TASTED delicious. It was just disgusting to handle.

Now we are moving on into the week with Yumm Yumm! bowls. Have you ever heard of Yumm Yumm sauce? It's the greatest marketed product of all times because what child is not going to like a dish that is already named YUMM? I rest my case.

We have a Cafe Yumm! here in town and they also sell their sauce which is incredibly healthy. (Regrettably, this chain of restaurants appears only to exist in Oregon. I think that gives us extra green bonus points at the same time though!) Basically you put together a rice bowl of your own making. (It's genius to let the kids put together their own bowls in my opinion.) You can put whatever veggies you want into your bowl. We usually have carrots and zucchini, beans, avacados, tomatoes, cheese, and olives. Then you get to slather everything with Yumm Yumm! sauce (and, again, I tell you that the name is perfection!) Whenever I ask the kids what they feel like eating, Yumm Yumm! Bowls make the list! We're going to be eating them tonight which is probably why I'm spending so much time describing them to you. They are on my brain and some drool may have hit the keyboard. (But probably not. No. Of course not.)



So this is where we are at. In a Yumm! place with a bent towards whole foods and a penchant for protein. (It can be beans and that seems to be ok. I just really happen to like meat a lot and see no reason to go, um, cold turkey on it.) Being anemic during pregnancy also makes me adamant about meat being consumed when pregnant - right alongside my blackstrap molasses!

As you can see, the adventure continues!

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Thoughtful Word



Taking part in Barbara's This Week in Words meme which she hosts weekly over at Stray Thoughts.

Re-reading and thinking through Keeping House, even though I am not in *my* home. I needed to re-read the quote below, in particular, because I keep thinking that this time in our temporary home MAY be short and so I'm not sure if it's ok to start having people over or truly operate life as if this place is home. But it is, and I need to. So we invited some people over for dinner and now, I suppose, we shall start really living here. (Provided that we can manage to stay well for a solid week at a time!)

". . . [T]ime deliberately set aside for keeping house is never just about "making a home for my family." Of course housework is about making a home, but a Christian home, properly understood, is never just for one's own family. A Christian home overflows its boundaries; it is an outpost of the kingdom of God, where the hungry are fed and the naked are clothed and there is room enough for everyone.
Keeping house can be a very mundane activity. It is certainly repetitive, and the kinds of work that it involves are varied enough that few people enjoy all of them equally. But at the very same time, housekeeping is about practicing sacred disciplines and created sacred space, for the sake of Christ as we encounter Him in our fellow household members and in neighbors, strangers, and guests. " (Keeping House: The Litany of Every Day Life, Preface)


Barbara also linked to this post about dealing with anxious thoughts which I thought was incredibly well put.

Spurgeon said that we can’t keep the birds from flying over our heads, but we can keep them from building a nest in our hair. But if there are already some nests settled in, ask God to help you pull them out. Then listen to what kind of company you have been keeping with your thoughts. If it’s bad company, show them the door.


Attempting to avoid nest building this week!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Five of My Favorite Things



Another week has already flown by. How did that happen?! Oh wait . . .

Time for another Friday's Fave Five hosted by Susanne at Living to Tell the Story!

#1 on my list has to be the Most Amazing Surprise Date Night EVER!!!

#2 would have to be a really fantastic appointment with a naturopathic physician. She said nice things. Wonderful things. And she talked to me like I was a human being and not just a patient! (I love my general family doctor very much but I was glad to find this naturopathic gal.) You might also be amused to know that she "argued" me out of half of the Knives Over Forks idea. (In short, she's anti-dairy but pro-meat in moderation.) Putting protein back into my diet has just done wondrous things. I'm not ready to start singing about the joy of beef or anything like that but when you go even a week without meat and then you taste it again? Well, for me it was a little slice of some kind of turkey heaven. (I no longer miss milk though.)

#3 is once again the fact that it is Friday. This week has been rather long and hard. I'm not much caring for the lack of accurate communication between our insurance agency and the cleaning company. (Prayers for patience anyone? We'll accept them all!)

#4 would be the snow that fell yesterday. Not because we got to go out and play in it. Rather, the sun reflecting off of the snow shone extra light into our temporary housing which is generally quite dark(er than I am used to.) Extra sunlight was a big bonus and I enjoyed keeping the windows open and letting the extra light in for a bit!

#5 will have to be my daughter's smile. She has these little ringlets that circle her face and when she squinches up her nose as she is inclined to do she looks like a little curly haired fairy and I love her. I'm also glad that her 7th and 8th tooth finally poked through!

And it is Friday. Oh wait. I said that already.

Well, I am very, very glad.