Friday, October 31, 2008
Early in the evening, he was shy, but his story grew as we visited more houses. People would ask, "Are you a king?" He'd answer, "I'm Daniel in the Lion's Den. The angel came and said 'Don't be scared.' God closed the eyes of the lions so they wouldn't hurt Daniel. My sister is the angel." (First Daughter would then pipe up, "Don't be scared!")
The flashlights were a big hit. In fact, First Daughter quickly abandoned her lion and grabbed First Son's flashlight whenever the opportunity arose.
Second Daughter was a fairy, because I forgot I sent the pea pod costume back to my sister-in-law. Would you believe it's a size 2T? She napped much of the time we were out walking.
We didn't visit too many houses, but they still have enough candy for quite a while. (We allow one piece each after lunch and dinner...but only if they ask for it. I'm pretty sure they'll forget rather quickly.)
King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains
This is my new favorite cookbook. It's perfect for me because there are very few recipes that could be used to make dinner. It's all about the extras (and bread). It also helps me use my powers for good since recently I have found myself baking a lot more and with the use of whole grains I can at least pretend I'm making healthy food for my husband and family. (Baking is so much easier than cooking; just mix it up and throw it in the oven!) My absolute favorite recipe is the Chocolate Zucchini Cake (p. 426), which I made with pattypan squash quite successfully. I'm really excited to try baking gingerbread and honey cakes. I also want to tackle graham crackers (no high fructose corn syrup here) if I can ever manage to keep my counter empty long enough to roll out the dough. (Why do counters collect things?)
The recipes range from the very simple to the extraordinary. Instructions are explicit enough for beginners with lots of tips and extra suggestions for the more adventurous baker. Honestly, I've had fun just reading this book and the chapter on breads had made me confident I can bake bread without using my bread machine (though I haven't had the time to tackle that project yet). None of the recipes specify using King Arthur Flour of any kind. (Our preferred whole wheat flour is milled right here in Kansas and is cheaper than any other brand at the store.)
I've considered setting myself a goal to try every recipe in this book. I think that might be a little extreme (there are more than 400), but it's very tempting...
The New American Cooking
Is it wrong to love this cookbook partly because it's so beautiful? We don't actually use this one as much as many of the others because it seems many of the recipes call for ingredients we don't have around the house and would be difficult to attain (either because we can't find them locally or because the expense would be prohibitive, especially now that we're on a tighter budget). My favorite recipe so far is the Indian Tandoori Chicken (p. 315). It was fabulous, but a lot of work. I'd be willing to try my hand at it again, though, if we had a bigger mortar and pestle.
Cover & Bake (Best Recipe)
This cookbook has two of our all-time favorite recipes in it. We don't make them very often because they fall into the "special" meals categories: Baked Macaroni & Cheese (p. 18) and Chicken & Sausage Gumbo (p. 197). The gumbo takes a little time but is extremely tasty. The macaroni and cheese is actually pretty easy, but it's definitely not healthy! Most of these recipes fall into the "comfort food" category, so we bring it out more during the cold winter months. I think we're due for some of that gumbo soon! Kansas Dad is also a big fan of The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition (though we have the older version). It's his "go to" book for just about everything and I have to admit, it's usually very tasty.
The All-American Cookie Book
If you like baking cookies, you have to check out this book. They are decadent and wonderful, though sometimes time-consuming. We've tried a bunch of the recipes and haven't had any disappointments. Ms. Baggett includes a brief history of each cookie which I enjoy. It makes me feel like baking these wonderful cookies is an educational experience, not just a culinary extravagance.
I think our favorite recipe is the Classic Peanut Butter Crisscross Cookies (p. 236) which are, quite simply, the best peanut butter cookies you will ever eat. We also loved the Carolina Stamped Shortbread cookies, which have the advantage of being very easily prepared in a 9" x 13" pan (Fingers variation on p. 47). They are heavenly, melting in your mouth. I've taken them to work and other special occasions to rave reviews, especially when accompanied by some tea.
First Meals (New Expanded Edition)
I used this book a lot when First Son first started eating solids (well, the previous edition, but you probably figured that). Back then I was working full-time and three days a week in the office. I'd cook up batches of food every weekend or so and freeze them in cubes. It was perfect for quick meals for him during the week. They even traveled to restaurants and parks well by just throwing a couple in a container in the diaper bag (hopefully thawed by the time he was ready to eat). I like the recipes the most for the early months when baby hasn't yet been introduced to enough foods to just eat whatever we're having. It's healthier and cheaper to feed baby from your own table and once you get used to it, much easier as well. (No running to the store!) We've used jarred food from the store when traveling (especially by the plane; they don't like you to carry on your own food anymore) and my kids would basically go on an eating strike for the day. They much prefer homemade food!
Our basic cookbooks are How to Cook Everything: 2,000 Simple Recipes for Great Food and New Cook Book (Better Homes and Garden). We're on our third version of the latter. The last time we upgraded to the hardcover binder, but I had to pull out a few pages from the old one because the recipes weren't in the new version. (I couldn't abandon our tried-and-true banana chocolate chip bars!) These are good starter cookbooks. We choose a basic recipe here and then might alter it a bit based on our taste preferences and what we have in the pantry.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Anyway, last night she was in no mood for sleeping. I'm guessing it was because her last nap ended only half an hour before I took her in. She finished nursing and then was just smiling up at me and wiggling a little. I enjoyed that for a while and then told her it was time to sleep and left the room. I never imagined she'd go for it.
I heard her fuss a few times but she quieted each time before I got to our room. After about an hour, I checked on her and sure enough she was fast asleep!
A wide awake baby, lying in our bed, just closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep. That's a first.
If only I could say we then had a wonderful night's sleep. Unfortunately, we heard coyotes for the first time last night. Let me tell you, that's a disturbing sound. They scream, not like a howl at all, and it was close enough to human to keep me awake for at least an hour. (The noise itself lasted only a few minutes, but the just the memory of it gave me the shivers.)
* We have a crib for her, very generously on loan from my aunt and uncle. We just need to order screws for it because they all got lost in the move to our house. And then we need to buy a mattress. And empty the corner where the crib will go which is currently full of all the kids' clothes that need to be reduced, reorganized and stored properly...I'm tired just thinking about it.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
First Son: Bye! I love you, too!
First Daughter: I love you, Daddy!
[me to Kansas Dad: Has she ever said that to you before? He shakes his head no.]
First Daughter: I love you, [Brother].
Kansas Dad: What about Mama?
First Daughter: Noooo! [as in "That's the silliest thing I ever heard!"]
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Last night, as I was nursing Second Daughter to sleep, I could hear the other two in their room singing and giggling like cows, sheep and Duck. I know it's not really appropriate bedtime behavior, but it was amusing and endearing. (They had also quieted down by the time Second Daughter was sound asleep, though I still had to go in twice later to redress First Daughter, diaper and all.)
We're big fans of VeggieTales here on the Range. First Son became enamored when he was just nine or ten months old. (Back then we watched the videos because we liked them and figured they were better for him than CSI. It's been many years since Kansas Dad or I pulled out a Veggie video for our own enjoyment.) We were always thrilled and amazed to see such quality Christian products from what seemed like a fun and thriving company. So imagine our surprise when we discovered BigIdea was bankrupt! We originally read the story on Phil Vischer's blog and actually bought the book (paid real money!) when it came out.
God did not kill Big Idea. I never for a second blamed God for the collapse of my dream. I dusted the body for fingerprints, and they were all mine. What I wrestled with, instead, was the fact that God could have saved Big Idea Productions. He could have stepped in, erased my mistakes, and kept Bob and Larry in my hands for the sake of the kingdom. I mean, he's God, right? He can do anything. But he didn't.
What kind of God would do that? That is the question this book is ultimately trying to answer. Beyond all the business implications, beyond the interpersonal dramas and the thrill of seeing something wonderful come to life. I'm really chasing the answer to this question: What kind of God would stand back and watch a dream--a good dream, for ministry and impact---fall apart?
I'm sorry I let this book sit on the bookshelf unread for so long because it's wonderful. Mr. Vischer has a quirky sense of humor that shines through on every page, so it's enjoyable. It's also a true tale of God working today, in business and in real lives. I'm not in business and found many thoughts applicable to my life. I think someone dreaming of starting a business to both glorify God and support a family could benefit greatly from this book when learning to juggle standard business advice and service to God and church.
If you know the VeggieTales videos, you'll enjoy this book even more, but I don't think it's necessary.
Monday, October 27, 2008
"I want to take a picture of the yellow chair."
Of course First Son loved it and is already begging to take more. Kansas Dad and I had thought the gift of a digital camera would come next year, but now we're reconsidering. I would be really interested to see the world First Son would choose to photograph.
By the end, though, they were both just painting every color everywhere, for a nice thick drippy brown.
I still need to get a final picture of them with their pumpkins assembled.
I think we'll be saving our money this year instead of sending Christmas cards again, but I did want to share this cute picture. Would you believe all these clothes are hand-me-downs? I know the day will come when my kids (especially the girls) will balk at wearing used clothes, but to me there's something very special in much-loved clothes finding more use. My nieces have some of the most beautiful clothes and I just love being able to dress my girls in ones I remember from special days - like Christmas. I also love pulling out First Daughter's old clothes for Second Daughter. They're like friends, already full of sweet memories.
Or funny ones. (No, I didn't get a hair cut; that's me with First Daughter back in 2006.)
I just love pictures of the kids reading together.
I took this yesterday morning. I did manage to change First Daughter into a dress for church, but I failed to realize First Son's shirt was on backwards until we were settling in our pews (early for the 10:30 am mass that's starting next week so only a bit late for the 10 am mass this week).
I just realized, looking these over, that we never actually made it out the pumpkin patch. We just grabbed a few from the stand on our way out. The kids had a blast, though, and we spent a few lovely hours out in the fall weather.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
I wanted to post tonight, though, about what is possibly the absolutely best way to prepare green beans of all time, and you only need one pan. You have to try them. The recipe is in the current issue of Cook's Illustrated (Nov/Dec). The magazine is pricey (though it might be worth it for this recipe alone), but you can probably find it at your public library. (The online and magazine subscriptions are separate, so I'm not sure if you'd find it on the website.)
Seriously, these beans are so good Kansas Dad and I haven't shared them with the kids. We just gobble them up ourselves. (In our defense, they prefer raw carrots to just about anything else; it's not like we're depriving them of all vegetables...just these.)
This was a fabulous book to sit and read in small bursts, perfect for leaving around the house for when I had a free moment. It's a treasure-trove of information and resources for those of us just inching our way into the Charlotte Mason waters, but it's also just as much a "companion." Ms. Andreola's style is very soothing, as if she were sitting just across the table with some tea and cookies, chatting about what wonderful learning experiences she and her kids had last week.
Books like this one continue to inspire me to read the original series by Charlotte Mason. (Sadly, my library does not have a copy and I'm sure I couldn't finish it in the alloted time for an inter-library loan book. I know I want to buy them; it's just a matter of time and finances.) I'm sure I'll be coming back to Ms. Andreola's book over and over again in the future.
As an added benefit, First Son absolutely loved the sketches and illustrations in the book. Funny that he would be so intrigued by Victorian families.
Friday, October 24, 2008
A few milestones:
- Kansas Dad finished his dissertation and then successfully defended his dissertation.
- First Son graduated from diapers and pull-ups.
- Kansas Dad had minor surgery and then, as soon as he was feeling better, dislocated his ankle (and was in a cast), just three weeks before my due date.
- Second Daughter was born.
- We bought a house.
- Kansas Dad started his first official tenure-track full faculty position.
- Kansas Mom switched from full-time to part-time.
- First Son started his reading lessons, making us an official "formal" homeschooling family.
- This blog has been visited more than 3900 times, which is more than my previous two blogs combined (from May 2004 through October 2007).
I think we managed to hit all the most stressful good milestones! We have indeed been stressed, but we have also been blessed. Our children are healthy, our land is fruitful (and it's ours!), our pantry is full and our hopes for the coming year are expansive.
Some things we learned:
- Christmas Eve is not always fun.
- How to build a square foot garden, dissasemble a washing machine, repair a computer, install a dishwasher and (coming soon) rebuild a water softener. (Kansas Dad did, at least.)
- I love Charlotte Mason's philosophy of education.
- Our favorite way to prepare pattypan squash (whole wheat chocolate cake; seriously, it's fantastic).
- You can trade books you don't want for books you do want, just for the cost of postage. (I've received 41 books so far!)
- It is difficult, but not impossible, to care for a preschooler, a toddler and a newborn while packing everything you own and then unpack it while caring for a preschooler, a toddler and an infant.
- Some people (we won't name names) do not take very good care of their houses.
- Some babies really are good sleepers. Some toddlers are not.
- Our new parish is delightful.
- The mice will always be with us.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
What I like best about using cloth diapers:
- I never have to run to the store for diapers (especially great when we're 15 miles from the nearest store).
- They leak a lot less than disposables...maybe not at all if you find the right diaper for baby's body shape.
- They are adorable - so much cuter than disposables!
- In the long run, they will be cheaper, even buying most of them new. (By the way, you can't buy used diapers on ebay, in case you were wondering.)
When First Daughter was born, we started using gdiapers with her. They seemed like a better environmental choice than disposables (which First Son continued to wear until he was potty-trained). They worked great. When they leaked, it was only onto the cloth cover, almost never onto her actual clothes. I loved being able to compost the wet ones, too, so we didn't even have the extra toilet flushes.
They are, however, very expensive. A few months ago we started to get serious about saving for a down payment and I decided to try some cloth diapers when we went back to disposables and remembered how terrible they were. (Ironically, we hit our savings goal earlier than anticipated and ended up buying a house long before we garnered any savings benefit to help towards that goal, but there are other goals.)
Luckily, we have some dear friends who cloth diaper, and they were incredibly helpful as I began researching our options. Some of these friends even sold us their newborn diapers and lent us covers to use! (Now that's really cheap!)
I'm not sure anyone reading this blog needs to learn about cloth diapers. Most of you are already using them (or plan to use them) or have very good reasons for sticking with disposables (grandmas usually prefer them; most daycare centers do as well), but I've spent a lot of time in the past few months experimenting and I can't help but share.
Here are just a few of the amazing cloth diapers out there. We're not talking diaper pins anymore:
Kissaluvs - These were the ones we bought used in the newborn size. They were perfect. You snap them on then use a separate cover. I never had a problem with them hitting Second Daughter's belly button. Of course, we got them at a good price and I've packed them away to use again...you know, if we have any more kids. (Shhh, don't tell Kansas Dad. He's not ready to talk about it yet.) According to the site, the size 0 should work up to about 15 pounds, but we started running into problems before Second Daughter hit 14 pounds.
We heard and read mixed reviews of the kissaluvs in larger sizes, so I decided to try out a variety of other options.
BumGenius 2.0 AIO (all in one) - These just like velcro on a disposable diaper. No snaps, no cover. I tried the fitted kind, rather than the new one-size. It was easy to use and cute, but in the end I decided against velcro in large quanities. It just doesn't seem to hold up over time. And it does get stuck to all sorts of things in the washer and dryer. Also, of all the diapers we have, this is the one most likely to still be wet after a run through the dryer. On the plus side, you can buy the BumGenius 3.0 at Target stores, so they're easy to find and try.
Knickernappies pocket diapers - At first I just bought the inserts to put into the liners for the gdiaper covers. I thought this way we could try them out without making as large an up-front investment. I had mixed success with the gdiaper cover. In fairness, they clearly state on the website they are designed for the flushable inserts, not cloth inserts. (The gdiapers did work fairly well for Second Daughter with some cheap prefolds from Gerber until just recently. Another generous friend has sent us some quality prefolds, like these which are oh so much better than the Gerber ones! The cheap ones I've recently had to double up and then the liner doesn't really hold everything in like it should.)
In the end I ordered a bunch of the Knickernappies diaper covers (the 1G version I found on clearance) and use these as the main stash for First Daughter. Before putting the diapers in First Daughter's basket, I stuff them with the inserts. Then it's just a matter of snapping them on during the diaper change. We do have to pull the insert out to wash (which I recommend doing as you're dropping it in the pail, not when putting them in the washing machine), but unlike some other pocket diapers I read about you don't have to touch any grossness because the opening is at the top of the back. The pocket diapers have quicker drying times than the all in one diapers, but they are as easy to put on as an all in one if they're pre-stuffed, unlike the fitteds or prefolds with a cover. (Though I've found the covers not too strenuous once you're used to them.)
Dream-eze fitted diapers - These are most like the couple a friend made for us. I think they're my favorite store-bought ones. We pair them with Mother-ease covers and they work great. (I haven't tried them overnight yet; I like to use the home-made ones.)
Dream-eze AIO - These are my favorite on the road diapers. They snap on, no cover necessary, so they're perfect for the diaper bag. I have some for each of the girls. (I bought a few large in one color and a few mediums in a different color so they're really easy to tell apart.) I think the design helps them dry a lot faster than most all in one diapers.
Mother-ease Sandy's - On a friend's recommendation, we bought two of these to use for overnights with First Daughter. I actually put two doublers in as well. They work great but are very bulky (not too surprisingly with those doublers), so we prefer the others for daytime use. We also use a Mother-ease cover with these.
Mother-ease one size diaper - We got one of these in the trial package. It has a variety of snaps so it can be worn by a newborn all the way up to a toddler. At first I thought it was extremely bulky on Second Daughter, but after I got used to it I liked it very well. I've used it overnight with her even without the doubler snapped in. If I'd known what we wanted from the beginning, I might have invested in a bunch of these because then we could have used them for either girl and just had different sized covers for them.
A very generous friend has sent us some old Mother-ease diapers and various covers (including a wool one I'm very excited to try) for Second Daughter. I've only been using them for a day but they seem great to me. I'm very impressed with a brand that can hold up for that length of time! I wasn't sure what kind of diaper I was going to use to fill out our stash for Second Daughter and now it seems I won't need any for quite a while.
I have some comments floating around in my head around cloth diaper care (laundry and storage), but I think I'll let that wait for another post. I do want to mention, though, the wonderful website where I purchased most of my diapers: ClothDiaperOutlet.com. Heather was extremely helpful, prompt in her responses and even went to the trouble (a lot of trouble, as it turned out) to gather diapers in the colors I wanted (to easily distinguish the sizes). I also found her prices comparable to or better than most other cloth diaper websites. You can read more reviews (for Heather's store and the diapers above) at diaperpin.com.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
No, we're not potty-training yet. She asked to sit on it and we agreed, but that's all she did...sit. I'm ok with that.
So the answer seems to be: Don't read blogs or articles online. Instead, tackle the books on that list! Of course, I'm not too likely to do that. I think deep down, I'm addicted to adding books to my list.
Interested in where I've finding books? Some of the places recently are here and here and here.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I was surprised to find him camped out on the living room floor later, though. He doesn't usually take naps anymore and the poor guy didn't even lay down on the sofa.
Cute, though, isn't he?
Saturday, October 18, 2008
This book is a little bit too old for First Son, but I decided to read through it anyway. I found it delightful! Praiseworthy and Master Jack make and lose their fortunes three or four times with a sense of humor, patience, wits and luck. In this grand adventure, though they're rushing for gold, it's not the money that matters at all.
This one is definitely on our list!
Friday, October 17, 2008
A few months ago, Kansas Dad mentioned that he really only likes strawberry and raspberry yogurt. What? Really? Ten years and he never mentioned that? I eat yogurt because it's good for me, not because I particularly like it. When I do eat yogurt, I like a little variety -- mostly berries, but different ones. So at the grocery store, I was picking a few of these and some of those, a variety.
Well, once I knew what he liked, it was easy to accommodate his request. Now our fridge is stocked almost exclusively with strawberry and raspberry yogurt. (Kansas Dad has been doing most of the grocery shopping recently, with my list in hand, and has been choosing variety for my sake. How sweet is that?)
A few weeks later, Kansas Dad remarked, "It's so nice to reach into the fridge and always pull out a yogurt I like."
Since then I've been struck a number of times by how easily we could have the desires of our heart if we just opened our mouths and asked. If you think about it, it's an obvious concept that applies to every aspect of marriage. (Yes, every aspect of marriage. Your spouse cannot read your mind.)
I wonder if it would also apply in our prayer lives. Of course, God knows exactly what we're thinking and dreaming and hoping...but perhaps sometimes he's waiting for us to ask.
I'm only being a little facetious. It's really a wonderful thing to come out in the morning to a perfectly clean kitchen. When we lived in town, I often let the dishes slide until the morning and facing them was such a sad way to start the day.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"I worked so hard today, Mama."
You did work hard today, Little Man.
You and First Daughter learned about chimpanzee nests.
You learned to pant hoot.
Second Daughter learned to suck her thumb.
(And just be cute.)
First Daughter learned how to use her feet to push against an outer wall to climb. (I admit I showed her this trick...and immediately regretted it. I have no doubt she'll quickly transfer this skill to some piece of furniture at home and disaster is sure to ensue, for us if not for First Daughter.)
It was indeed a very busy day of learning and playing, and we've already learned that playing is the work of childhood.
I hope, too, you were able to bask in your Mama and Grammy's love today, learning how much we love you with your heart, if not your head.