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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Giveaway Reminder

Just in case you missed it, I am giving away some yarn, a pattern and Kool-Aid to dye the yarn on Friday. Visit this post and leave a comment with an e-mail address to enter the drawing. I'll draw a random number to pick who wins Friday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. Pacific time.


Amira's Portfolio Photo

We finally picked this up last week. Rich scanned it in, but it came up fuzzy and I am too tired to try to fix it. He said he'd either clean it up or rescan sometime soon, but for now here is Amira in her official dance recital photograph.

I'll replace this with the better photo when I get it.


Monday, July 28, 2008

More Disgusting Food Habits

I was making my breakfast this morning, when Alexander asked in a kind of grossed out way why I was putting sunflower seeds in my applesauce. I told him because I wanted to and I liked it.

Usually, I do this with cottage cheese, applesauce on top, and roasted, salted sunflower seeds over that. We were out of cottage cheese.

Does that sound gross to you? Evidently it is, but I love it, the sweet and salty and crunchy and soft. I am a woman of many contrasts and dimensions, clearly.

I know Rich finds it repellent, but Alexander eats all sorts of weird combinations we wouldn't touch with a 10 foot pole. He ate, twice!, a grilled chicken sandwich with pineapple, Danish cheese and red onions on it, with some sort of dressing to bind the whole mess together.

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Sunday, July 27, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: July 28

Lisa's plane was delayed four times, and she ended up getting here nearly 12 hours after she was supposed to arrive. This meant she missed my birthday, but we had a good time anyway once we all got the rest we needed. This week, we will be making the lemon cake (I was too wiped out to attempt it), raspberry custard pie (some girls from our local homeschool group are picking and selling raspberries) and cherry pie (Rich picked me some pie cherries and will pit them for me).

I will post recipes upon request.

What is on your menu this week?

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Saturday, July 26, 2008


This is probably the most personal I have ever gotten on this blog, and I have gone back and forth over whether to post this or not. I am scheduling it to be posted in a week, so I can edit it and perhaps change my mind. If you see it here, you know what decision I came to in the end.

I have never claimed spiritual perfection, and am so far from it, I wouldn't even know where to start to fix my faults, errors, misunderstandings, disobedience and just plain mistakes. I trust God to handle it, and try to keep my heart open to correction. I am a pretty sarcastic person (though I tend to say those things in "Ranee" as Rich puts it, and tell him about it rather than saying those things to the people who spark the comments), and the best thing I can say in my defense is that I have learned not to be sarcastic toward people, though I still think the thoughts most of the time. However, I can honestly say that I am not bitter about anyone else's good. When someone gets a new job that pays better, a nicer house, a new baby, a windfall of money, whatever luck or blessing that befalls them, I am either happy for them because I know them or indifferent because it doesn't affect me. That's the range of my feelings about it.

I have never been bitter toward someone when s/he experienced good while I was suffering loss. I have never congratulated myself on being kinder/more spiritual and then turned around and thought that it was terrible that this other person I didn't like all that well didn't deserve the good when I was hurting so much. I have grieved with people over huge losses, even when I didn't care for the person who experienced the loss. When I was pregnant with Elijah and other people were carrying healthy babies, it didn't make me upset with them. When my son was in surgery and the NICU, I didn't hate the people who could carry their children home or wish we could change places. I did want to be able to take my son home and not have to deal with a medieval surgery on myself and his isolation and surgery at all, but I didn't need it to be at the expense of anyone else. Not even someone I didn't like.

Frankly, the only person I got upset at and bitter about was God. I figured He could take it. I grew a lot during that time, but it wasn't because I was such a pliable, easy going, happy in all my circumstances, give thanks in all things Christian. It was because I was suffering and grumbling to God and angry at Him and disillusioned and frustrated and sad and miserable and little by little, by God's grace, I saw my way out of it. God taught me much about my weak faith, my ideas of entitlement, my sense of perspective and frankly my smallness in this world. God was so gracious and generous with me, giving me the calmness and strength of mind to deal with each appointment and all the bad news and the approach of major surgery, even while I was growing more impatient and angry that He didn't just zap the tumor away so I'd need no surgery and my son could just come home with us.

I don't think I've written about this before, but as I walked the corridors toward Elijah in his little NICU bed, I would rail at God for the pain I was in physically from my surgery, for the ache in my heart for what my son was going through, for the injustice that my son had to be suffering. Elijah was born on the Monday of Holy Week. We went home Thursday and he stayed for another five days after that. The hallway that seemed so long as I hobbled along the wall, holding on to the side rails is actually quite short, which I see now that I'm not in so much pain when we visit.

One major turning point for me was when I was making that walk on Good Friday. Rich had the older boys at the park, so I could visit with Elijah for as long as I wanted. I made my slow and halting way down the hall, all the while complaining about the unfairness of my circumstances. This was after months of my anger at God growing for not healing my son before we even got to this point. I have never heard the voice of God audibly, nor had any visions and any messages I have that something is from God have been strong impressions at best. I am not someone who is convinced that what I see as God's direction is word for word the instructions He sent down. In that walk down the hall, though, toward my son, I had one of the clearest messages from God I've ever had in my life. It was around noon, the time that Jesus hung on the Cross on the first Good Friday, and I realized that I was walking toward my son who was healing while the Father had been watching His Son die. And I was griping about how hard my lot was. That was humbling. In fact, it was humiliating. It turned my heart right around, though, and it pretty much killed the petty, self-pity I had been encouraging in myself.

I have never, thank God, experienced the loss of a child. We haven't even miscarried, as far as we know. I cannot tell you how I would react in those situations, though I know the grief would be raw, and it would hurt more than I've ever hurt before. I think that our experience with Elijah, knowing he could die and be lost to us here, that we had no way of monitoring his health and life enough to prevent that, that even coming out of delivery safely didn't guarantee his life or good health, that even the surgery didn't, the recovery and being confronted with my own attitudes have changed how I would react. I hope so anyway.

We know how fortunate we are with regards to him. We've become somewhat well known in the circles of people who deal with these kinds of tumors, at last count there were three people named after our Elijah who have had this tumor, and we get lots of people e-mailing us as they are starting the journey we went through, and many people who have walked through it who have seen far worse outcomes than we did: permanent bowel or bladder malfunction, development problems that set their child back by years, losing their child in the hour after the surgery was successfully completed. Even the process we had to go through to get to the surgery seems easier than theirs was. We heard so many stories of doctors who tried to convince the parents to abort their babies. This never crossed the mind of our doctors, they saw a problem and worked the best they knew how to come to a solution.

The doctors and nurses who see Elijah when we make our holiday visits to the NICU with his presents for them are so delighted to see him, and it finally hit me as to why. Most of their patients do not end up as healthy and happy as our Elijah. It is a blessing to them to see their work finished in such a rewarding way. It is not always the case.

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Finished Object Friday: July 26

I posted earlier this week about my one crafty finished object recently. And it was a cheat.

You know how it goes, though, I want to see what you have made.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Great Post About Larger Families


I especially liked this part:

Don’t marvel that we do, in fact, know all of our offspring’s names (even—given a minute or two—their birthdates)!

I've had one of the pediatricians at our practice (in all kindness, and no ill intent at all!) marvel that I could tell her which individual had which symptoms when all of the children were sick and we brought them all in at once. She was astonished that I remembered the differences and could identify which child was dealing with which ailment. I thought that was odd, because I expected her to remember what her different patients were dealing with and they weren't her own children whose illness she was witnessing daily.


You Say It's Your Birthday

It's my birthday today and one of my best friends is coming into town, so it is a good day. Rich wished me a happy birthday as the clock switched over to midnight and again before he left for work this morning, but I have no idea if it's on the children's radar. We'll see when they wake up.

Rich told me to make sure they take care of me today while we wait for Lisa to get in. My plan for the day is to make one of the two birthday cakes I make for myself, if I have enough energy. This year, it's the lemon cake from the Silver Palate. Other years, I make the chocolate cloud cake from Classic Home Desserts. If I don't have enough energy, we will pull the other Mother's Day cake out of our deep freeze and eat that with the children. And then go to the bakery and buy a fancy pants lemon cake for us to eat with our fish and chips.

Because I need a lemon cake. And lumpia. I still haven't had lumpia. Now that I'm off the narcotics (thank you On-Q, for getting me off narcotics in less than one week!) and I'm more than two weeks out, I can drive though, so I might take the children on a little field trip to Lumpia Express. It will be business, multiculturalism and home economics all in one. I'm sure.

I don't know if anyone has gotten me anything, Rich kept asking what I wanted for my birthday and I told him the computer was my present, but I'm not too concerned because in the past few years Rich has become a pusher, and is always telling me to go buy things, while I'm telling him I don't want to spend any money. So, for my birthday, I'm going shopping with Lisa and maybe another friend in the new boutique mall we have and we're going to hit the sales, grab free coffees (I have coupons!), eat ice cream and maybe have a pizza at the fancy schmancy open fired pizza place tomorrow or this afternoon. And find out when the new nail salon will open up and what their prices are like so I can check them out because they are five minutes up the street instead of 12 minutes up the highway. Now that I'm post pregnant weight again, I can look for clothes that don't make me feel like I should be in an aquarium exhibit.

I have about $160-175 in gift cards in my purse that I haven't used, that I will work on putting a dent in while Lisa is here. This shows how little I've been interested in shopping. I won't even go when it's free to me.

Since I have gifts on my mind, I wanted to give away something for my birthday. Now, theoretically, I am still a knitter. I know it's hard to tell, since I'm so rarely doing it or talking about it lately, but I have all this yarn and patterns and needles and I do stuff with them occasionally. Anyway. I am going to give away yarn and a pattern for a project. I'm not sure which one yet. Let me get back to you on that. And since I didn't think of this until just now, it won't be awarded on my birthday, because I have to think of something and post it and get people to comment. So, watch this space:

Yarn enough for a pair of socks, sock pattern and Kool-Aid to dye the yarn in technicolor.

If you don't care what kind of yarn or pattern you get, but you just love the idea of getting free stuff from the internets, then by all means, leave a comment on this post (other posts won't count) with a way to contact you (either put your e-mail address in the comment, or make sure your profile gives a contact), and when I figure out what I'm giving away (soon, I promise), I will use a random number generator to pick someone to win. Winner will be announced by Monday Friday, August 1. Have fun!

I am extending the entry time, because perhaps in my sleep deprived little world I forgot to post the picture, because I'm so tired and not all my brains are working. I want to give people a chance to enter now that they see what they might win.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another Product Endorsement

I should be getting paid for this. I've been eyeing Moby Wraps since just before I had Yasmina. Since I buy just about everything we get for the children on steep discount or consignment, I was expecting to pay about $25 for it, and I had a little sticker shock when I saw the price. However, then I started pricing other wraps and slings and realized they cost a lot more, and I still liked the Moby best.

So, I looked on Craigslist and all sorts of other places trying to find one used or less expensive. No go. Today, I did a little research and found that Puget Sound Natural Parenting sold them, less expensively than the chi-chi children's shop in town, and she ate the sales tax. Not only that, but she was heading our direction anyway, and met me in the parking lot of the grocery store, where I was going anyway to run errands. So, I bought this one:

from her, and immediately put Yasmina in it to walk through the store. It worked as advertised, was comfortable, and I was even able to nurse her pretty discreetly. She fell asleep, and I was able to zip through the store, get what I need and head back home.

SInce I love red, I am thinking of picking up one of these later as well.

This winter, the blue on blue fleece and cotton might also make an appearance in our home. That's how happy I am with this.

I like that it works for children up to 35 pounds, that it doesn't have clips that will break, is fine for nursing and is comfortable to wear. If you are in the market for a wrap/sling, I would definitely recommend this.

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Works for Me Wednesday: Coffee Cubes

This is a quickie entry this week, but great for summer.

I have never been much of a fan of iced coffees, because the ice dilutes the coffee. I drink my coffee strong and black.

However, except for letting the children have small sips or cafe au lait, I am the only one who drinks it in our house. Since I still usually end up making a bit more than I can drink in a day, I use the dead coffee in the pot to make frozen coffee ice cubes in our ice trays. When they are frozen, I put them in a freezer bag to store them in the freezer. I use these for iced coffee drinks, or in chocolate milk. Even Rich likes that.

Finding a second use for old coffee that tastes good works for me!

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Another Dishcloth

This is a cheater FO. I had a crocheted swatch sitting around our room for a long time. So, on the Fourth of July, in the afternoon, I lay on the couch, wove in the ends and set it in the kitchen to be used on the dishes. Voila! So, here it is:

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Monday, July 21, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: July 21

I'm getting a great birthday gift this year: one of my best friends, Lisa, is arriving right on my birthday. She moved to Florida four years ago, and has been waiting out her time there until she can come back to the Northwest. Maybe in a year or two, she'll be able to return home. Her arrival is a gift to Rich as well, because he goes back to work tomorrow, and he was concerned about me trying to do too much without his help here. It was a relief to him that I'd have a good friend to keep me company, and help out as needed.

Yasmina is starting to wake up more often, as we knew would come, but she still sleeps better at night than during the day, which is the best we could ask for, really. She's starting to fill out a bit, though like all our babies, she still pretty much looks like a stick person with her little stick limbs. All of our children were long and skinny, with small heads. Easy to deliver, when I was delivering them, anyway. They were never roly poly babies, and all of them were proportioned pretty much like little adults, rather than what people expect to see in babies. Most people's responses when they see them ran along the lines of "They look human!"

Anyway, I am excited because Lisa will be here soon, and she is excited because she gets to see our new little one. Lisa took care of our children every time I went to have a new baby from when Alexander was the only child transitioning to an older brother to when there were three boys and a little girl coming home. She was sad to have missed Jerome and Yasmina's births, because she wanted to look after our children to help us. Her arrival means I only have two and a half days without someone at home with me while I recover and look after the children, and with Rich a two minute's commute away, even those days aren't completely on my own.

So our dinners this week are what Rich is making, what friends are bringing, my birthday dinner take out, and what I can make with help from Rich and Lisa. Not bad for my first week on my own. We're kind of heavy on fish this week, but that's alright with me. Wild salmon and halibut are in season, though the halibut has only been affordable once this season.

We are fortunate to have access to an excellent local butcher, Farmer George if you are in the area, is in Port Orchard. Their prices are the same and often less than the grocery store, and the quality is magnitudes better. They don't do any advertising, I don't think they have a web presence, but they do a pretty brisk business based on word of mouth recommendations. They have bacon burger, not patties pre-made with bacon on top, but bacon ground up with the beef. We are eating those for dinner tonight. They do custom butchering, really inexpensively, have just about every kind of meat and poultry humans eat, handle game for hunters, come to your home or farm to slaughter and butcher, offer freezer packs of pork or beef up to an entire hog or steer, make their own sausages, hams and bacon, all aside from raising their own animals to sell, and if you bring your veggies, herbs and seasonings will grind up meatloaf mix for you that you can freeze and just pop in a pan and bake when you want meatloaf. Have I mentioned that I love Farmer George?

I will post recipes upon request.

What is on your menu this week?

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Saturday, July 19, 2008

More Yasmina

I took this picture yesteray, and then played with the effects on it a little bit. I thought this turned out to be a kind of nice "painting" of her.

This is the photo without any editing or tomfoolery.

Amira wore this dress when she was a baby. For the last two months, Amira has been bringing clothes and shoes down from her closet that didn't fit her and telling me that they were for Yasmina now. She had a bunny towel that our priest's family gave us at Amira's baby shower and she loves it. Well just a few days before Yasmina was born, Amira told me she wanted to give it to Yasmina and that she'd need a birthday bag for it. The day after I returned from the hospital she got her grandmother to help her package the towel and brought it down for Yasmina to open. It was very sweet.

Jerome has been exceedingly gentle with the baby girl. We were a little concerned, because he plays so rough sometimes, but he touches her head softly and brushes her hands carefully with his. He sits next to her in the car, and if she cries, he offers her his wubbie or hat or blanket to try to comfort her. He's even doing alright about being gentle on mama's tummy.

Elijah seems to be feeling it the hardest right now, so I need to find some time when I can just be with him and listen to his stories and have him feel like my time is his. The older two boys know that they need to help as much as they can around the house, and they have done it with minimal complaint. They understand that this is just part of how they can help me and their baby sister, so they're doing it.

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Friday, July 18, 2008

Miracle Birth

Our anesthesiologist told us when we were still talking about things before we had the baby about a child who recently was born who had had the same tumor that Elijah had and had it removed in utero. This is something we had asked Dr. Maslow if we could do when we found out about his tumor, but at the time it wasn't possible.

This is the first surgery on a sacrococcygeal teratoma done in utero as far as our doctors knew and it was truly amazing. It sounds like her tumor was larger than Elijah's, and his ended up being the size of his torso at birth, and they were able to take care of it before she was born. She was born about 15 seven weeks early, but after two weeks in the NICU was able to go home. The doctors delivered her rear first about half way through the pregnancy, removed the tumor, and sewed her mother back up. 10 weeks later, she was delivered.

So, anyway, I finally did the search on it to find the articles and found this among the other stories that were out there. I'm so glad they were able to do this, and that this surgery might become more available to people looking to help their children.


Relief and Terror

Yasmina and I have the day off from everyone else today. Rich took the rest of the children to an Air Force air show today. This should be great fun for them. There are US fighter jets painted to look like the Japanese jets that bombed Pearl Harbor, and they fly low and have an explosives guy who sets off little explosions when one makes a pass, there will be all sorts of cool planes for them to look at and explore.

I am glad that Rich gets to go and that the children get to go with him. We've missed a fair we normally try to hit in the summer because it was the weekend after having Yasmina, and Rich missed an experimental flight expo that he's wanted to go to for some time, because it was this week and he knew he'd be too busy at home, so this kind of makes up for that. A little bit.

So, today ought to be relatively restful, quiet and simple for me. I plan on doing some laundry, nursing a baby, reading a book, watching Tom Lehrer on YouTube, sleeping. However, I am slightly terrified that one of the children will get lost at this Air Force Base. Not because Rich can't handle them, he does it all the time, but because it's so crowded, there are over 1000 people there who aren't normally there (and this is before it opens to the general public, today was the special pass day, open only to people who had the right connections really). Rich didn't want to go when it was open to the public because he knew it would be 10s of thousands of people, if not more. We were both hoping it would be even less crowded today than it is.

He went as early as possible to miss the bulk of the crowds, and put one of his business cards with his cell phone number on it on each of the children. The oldest two already know his number, but he thought it would be good to have it on them should they panic. All the children know our names, where we live and the name of the airport at which we reside and Rich works. Still. I asked Rich to take a picture of the children individually, as they are dressed today, with his phone, so if anyone does get separated, he can show a picture of exactly what they are in rather than give a description. Also, he has the stroller for Jerome (I am so wishing that our double stroller hadn't finally given up the ghost and died, as that would have kept two of them relatively stationary, two hooked up and the oldest the only one as a free agent), and Amira and Elijah are well trained to hook up to the stroller handles on either side. Alexander and Dominic have been well trained in our stroller/cart policy also, so they shouldn't go too far, but you never know when there are lots of things to look at and milling crowds.

They aren't planning on being home until around dinner time, unless I need them to come home sooner, so I will be praying all day for their safety as well as for them to have a good time. Since I have experienced what it is like to have a child go missing (remember the zoo trip of 2005?), the fear that grips you and the disappointment in finding how little other people seem concerned with the loss of your child, I hope that it never comes up even once today. Rich and I have a great deal of practice in keeping tabs on the children, the general counting of heads that is always going on, so I'm not too worried. Just worried enough to disturb my complete rest today.

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Finished Object Friday: July 18

Since I am mostly taken up with baby care right now, you know I'm not making much else. I did make mango smoothies yesterday. I want to keep up with posting this, though, so others can share what they have done.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nourishing and Frugal: Side Dishes

Stephanie is hosting this week's nourishing frugal food carnival. This week's carnival is focused on side dishes, salads and desserts.

I'm not going to be nearly as prolific with this post as I was on the main dish one. I usually fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to side dishes and salads, but there are a couple which are great to eat, easy to make, nourishing and inexpensive all at once. So, I will share those with you. Also, I won't post a recipe, but cous cous, especially if you can get it in bulk, is really inexpensive, and tasty. I make it with garlic, olive oil, herbs and broth most of the time, but you can make it spicier, sweeter, with more vegetables, with dried fruit, however you like it.

I'm trying to think up some frugal and nourishing desserts, but honestly, I seem to be able to get either frugal or nourishing, but not both together. Now, I use real butter and good quality ingredients when we bake or make other desserts, and I can make great ice cream and sorbets, but they tend not to be all that nourishing, even using good chocolate, nuts, dried fruit, sweeteners and flours. I just figure, we eat a little of them, and they are made of real food, so it doesn't hurt us to have them once in a while. I think there is one, if you either live in a berry producing area, or can pick your own from your yard. Rich suggested a frugal and nourishing dessert: smoothies. A little frozen fruit, some yogurt or cream and whole milk, sweetener if you like it, maybe a banana. Whir it all up in the blender, and you have a lovely sweet, creamy treat that takes seconds to make, tastes wonderful, is actually pretty good for you and doesn't cost much money.

Bulgur Pilaf

3 tablespoons Good Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Oil (I use olive oil, you can use whatever oil you like) or Butter
6 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups bulgur
4 cups broth or water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Toasted Pine Nuts (optional)

In a medium skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the vegetables and cook until the celery starts to soften a little. Stir in the dry bulgur to coat with fat and slightly toast. Pour in the broth or water and season a little less than a teaspoon of salt and with pepper generously. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat, let simmer for about 20 minutes, without removing the cover. Mix to redistribute the veggies and taste, adjust seasoning if necessary. Stir in the toasted pine nuts if you have them, or not.

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is one I make with rather loose quantities.

About 2 cups Cooked Black Beans (canned is fine), drained of as much liquid as possible
About 2 cups Corn Kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)
A couple Sweet Peppers of various colors, finely diced
1/2 Red Onion, finely diced

Toss together and dress with cumin lime dressing.

I have no idea on the quantities.
I mix up olive oil with lots of lime juice, salt and pepper, garlic and cumin. Whisk it all up and dress the salad. If it tastes like it needs more of anything, I add it. If I don't have limes, I use lemon juice.

Raspberry Custard Pie

Blackcaps and raspberries are ripe right now, so I may have to make this soon.

Uncooked Pie Crust (I make a butter crust, but a good lard crust, or a half and half mix would be fine)
2 Eggs, beaten
1 cup Sugar (I use organic evaporated cane juice, you might be able to use date sugar or maple sugar, but I don't know how it would change the consistency)
1/3 cup Flour
1 cup Sour Cream
3 cups Raspberries

Line pie pan with crust. Preheat oven to 350 F.

Mix eggs and sugar until fully incorporated, mix in flour and sour cream. Scatter the berries over the bottom of the pie crust. Pour custard mixture into crust and cover raspberries. Bake for 40-50 minutes just until set. Chill for at least several hours before serving.

Decorated with berries and whipped cream to make a flag pie.

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Plugging a Friend

Our friend Mike is the new legal contributor to the online Washington Examiner. Check out what he's saying here.

He and another lawyer at the Evergreen Freedom Foundation also recently published To Protect and Maintain Individual Rights: A Citizen’s Guide to the Washington Constitution, Article I., which Mike graciously brought over when he and his family brought dinner to us. He handed it to us saying that eventually we would need to teach civics to our children and he thought the book might help.

Last year, Mike got to go to the Supreme Court because of the work he had done on a case on behalf of the teachers in the WEA.

We are very proud of Mike here. He and his wife are also godparents to Jerome, so we love them very much. Go check out what he is writing about and buy his book!

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Lentil Soup for Kristine

Plus a bonus lentil recipe I found. Over at A Good Appetite, there was a nice looking pork tenderloin with lentils and carrots meal that I thought I'd share.

Lentil and Sausage Soup

This is not so much a recipe as a method.

Dice up some onions, one or two, and a bunch of garlic and saute them in olive oil or butter in your soup pot. Scrape a couple carrots and dice those and toss in the pot as well. While they are cooking, dice up some smoked garlic sausage, or whatever other kind of sausage you like, and toss that in the pot as well. Stir it up so nothing burns. Add a pound of lentils that you've picked over. Season with some thyme and a bay leaf, salt and pepper. Add water or broth to cover generously, this is a soup, not a stew. Simmer until it is cooked and the flavors blend. Add leftover cooked wild rice or brown rice or white rice. I don't know how much, whatever you have left. If you don't have any left and still want rice in it, cook some first. Putting it in raw will suck up all the liquid. Taste to adjust seasoning, add more liquid if necessary and adjust seasoning once more. Heat a little so the rice is warm and tastes like the rest of the soup. Remove bay leaf. I don't think I normally put in diced tomatoes, but I think they might be nice in this.

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Links to Make You Think

These first three are more philosophical and theological in nature. The last three are mostly for homeschoolers or those who are looking into it.

I was really touched by this article by Elizabeth Foss. It captured the emotions behind being open to life so well. Although I have to say, I would have added another reason as to why I didn't just keep my husband away from me (though I never would have said it out loud). There are a lot of practical and theological reasons that we practice NFP, and why we are open to all life in our marriage, but usually people aren't interested in them when they ask questions like these or make comments, and this article really hit the reasons that most people get.

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus gave a moving closing speech at the National Right to Life Committee which he has graciously offered for the public to read at First Things. As someone who became pro-life as an older teenager and adult, this speech also captured some of thought process that moved me there.

A post at Mere Comments discusses the displacement of the Father in even Trinitarian churches. This is the heart of the dispute between the East and the West on the filioque clause of the Nicene Creed (on which both Rich and I are firmly Eastern).

Now for the homeschooling stuff.

I recently found out about Homeschool Freebie of the Day from another mother on a homeschooling list. There are all sorts of neat resources there. They are serious about the of the day part, though. Generally speaking, you need to download whatever the freebie is on the day it is posted, as it will expire the next day.

Over at Mom and Kids at Home, there are some neat free science resources

Footnote is a great resource for American history. It's just plain interesting, too. You can see the actual historical documents for things like the seven million two hundred thousand dollar check for the purchase of Alaska. They have items from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, WWI, WWII, U.S. Presidents, historical newspapers and naturalization documents. It is a very cool site.

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Yasmina Asleep with Me

Rich took this picture a few days ago. You can see the top of Yasmina's little patriotic stars outfit that I got 50% off at the summer sale at our local Fred Meyer (I think it's still going on, and there was a coupon for an additional 15% off most apparel at the time). She's still swimming in the newborn clothes, but the weight is coming back on.

I'm trying to decide whether or not to post a birth story. It's kind of graphic, just because of the c-section, but it may be helpful or interesting to someone out there. It also may cross a line I've drawn in my mind about the level of personal stuff I put on this blog. We'll see.

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Works for Me Wednesday: On Q Pump

Warning: Medical talk ahead, which mentions surgery and anesthesia.

This may seem like an odd Works for Me Wednesday entry, but here it is. I just had a c-section. My fourth. So, I pretty much know what has worked and hasn't worked before, and have very specific requests of our surgeon when we go into these things. Among them is what kind of anesthesia I want used.

My first time, I had duramorph in with the spinal block and was very sick and itchy. The second time I asked for something else, and recovered quickly, was off the cath sooner, had my IV out sooner and was able to eat, walk, use the facilities sooner. So, the third time I asked for whatever that was again. It turns out that I had nothing besides the spinal block. However, the anesthesiologist, who is also a friend of ours, wasn't completely comfortable with me having no pain medicine with my spinal, because the spinal only lasts about an hour or so, and he was concerned about my coming off of that with no systemic pain medicine. So, we said to go ahead and use a different medicine than the duramorph. I wasn't sick, I wasn't itchy, but I was back to slow recovery and a long post-op. This time I said no pain medicine in the spinal.

Our doctor (who is amazing, btw, and I wish we had gone with her every time since Elijah, in fact Dr. Maslow had specifically recommended her, but we hadn't been able to use her the second time, and forgot the third time), who trusted me and asked me the reasons I didn't want the pain medicine, suggested that I use a local anesthetic pump inserted at the internal incision instead of the systemic medicine. Since I was not trying to be some hero, I just didn't want to be slowed down from moving and getting tubes taken out of me, I said I was more than willing to use it.

Well this, my friends, is a miracle medicine. Our doctor said she mostly used it for hysterectomies, and the anesthesiologist said she thought it had initially been used primarily for infant surgeries, but all the nurses and staff saw how well it worked for me and said they were going to suggest it for their other c-section patients. On Q is this funny looking little ball (it was full when they put it in me) that pumps local anesthetic into your wound site at a particular rate per hour (mine was 4 ml per hour, and I don't know if they are different rates for different things or not) via a pressurization system. It lasts anywhere from two to five days depending on how much medicine they are dispensing. It stays in you, there are tubes taped to your body, and this ball that hangs off of you, and they give you a little fanny pack to keep the ball from dragging around and yanking out the tubes. That was the only awkward thing about it, but since most of the time it was in I was still at the hospital, it wasn't a big deal to me.

When the pump is empty, you just pull the tubes out. It doesn't hurt at all to pull them out. Our doctor said I could do it myself, or if I was squeamish about it to have Rich do it and if he couldn't do it to come into the office. We unhooked the pump from the tubing and I did it in the shower, and couldn't even feel it traveling. She also warned me that there would be about the same amount of tubing on the inside as I saw on the outside, so not to freak out if it looked like a clown pulling handkerchiefs out of his sleeve.

This pump reduced my pain from the surgery and at the incision site internally so much that I didn't have to take as much of the oral pain medication, and didn't feel any pulling or soreness internally or on my external incision site until the fourth day, and it was very minimal at that point. My mother in law asked why I pulled it out, she thought I should have asked for a new pump to attach to the tubing, since it worked so well.

I am a true believer now. I would do testimonials for the pharmaceutical company. This was, by far, the easiest recovery from a c-section I have ever had. If you have any surgery coming up which requires anesthesia, I'd suggest you ask about this little pump. On Q and a quicker, easier recovery from major surgery, that works for me!

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Menu Plan Monday: July 14

We're settling in with Yasmina very nicely. She is a sweet tempered baby and nurses and sleeps well. I will post some more pictures as soon as I can, and give a little summary of the surgery, without getting too gory. We are so happy with the doctor who did my c-section and wish we had used her last time instead of dealing with all that we did.

Rich is doing most of the cooking this week and a couple of friends are bringing meals also. We have several meals in the freezer, but we're trying to save those until Rich is back at work and Lisa isn't here and we have nobody bringing meals, so I can ease into things, by heating stuff up and maybe making a side dish or two before I go back to full time cooking on my feet.

I'll update this plan as I get more information from Rich (who is sleeping with Yasmina right now, since he was up until nearly 5:00 a.m. dealing with things at home while I nursed and slept) and from the people bringing meals. I'm also inspired by the nourishing, frugal carnival to post some more meal ideas and recipes. I already have two ideas for the side dish edition this Friday.

What is on your menu this week?

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Nourishing and Frugal: Main Dishes

Kimi is hosting a nourishing frugal food carnival as the first of two. Next week's will be hosted at a different blog and focus on side dishes/salads/desserts.

Feeding a family of seven (now eight!), I know how to make good meals for little money. I realized that the hardest part of this was going to be limiting what I listed here. Even when I was growing up, I was able to make a meal out of the leftovers or pantry remnants at home, so I knew then that I and any family I ever had would never go hungry.

There are far more recipes and meal ideas than the ones I've posted in this entry, but I thought I'd post a longer list here, rather than entering lots of different posts. Some of these have been posted before, so I'm just providing links, the rest are typed out at the bottom of the list. We raise chickens and ducks, so we eat a lot of egg dishes. These are frugal (even if you buy your eggs) and are nutritious, including much needed protein and the good cholesterol. Some of these recipes use cream, which may not seem frugal, but they help the meal stretch to feed more people/provide more servings, and therefore keep the protein quantities down to a minimum, which is often where the greater expense is. Lots of these allow you to use up leftovers or things that are hiding in your fridge, which also cuts costs.

Pinto Beans and Rice

I make pinto beans by starting them with about two inches of water over them in the crockpot and cooking on high for an hour, then reducing the heat to low. I cook for another three hours, then cook up some diced bacon until it is crisp (about half a pound), rendering the fat, add six stalks of celery, sliced thinly, a bunch of scallions, sliced and cook until the celery is mostly soft. I toss that into the crockpot, sizzling fat and all, along with a couple diced tomatoes, or a can of diced tomatoes. I also add an 8 oz can of tomato sauce. Let this cook for about another half an hour to an hour, and cook up your rice as you like. I check for salt at the end of the cooking time. I also make this vegetarian, using the same basic method, but cooking some onions, garlic, sliced celery and peppers in olive oil and toss those in with the beans along with a can of tomato sauce and a little salt.

Fiesta Casserole

This is a good nacho casserole with tortilla chips as the base. I cook up black beans, enough to make about two cups of it, and saute a diced onion, some garlic and canned tomatoes (if you have fresh, so much the better), in olive oil. You can add peppers if you like, or not, I usually do, then add the beans to this. I season it with chipotle powder, oregano, cumin and salt. I pour this whole thing over the chips in a glass baking pan, spread sour cream over the top, and sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese (or pepper jack or queso fresco or cotija), bake it for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese melts, and serve it with a salad. A variation on this is to make up the bean mixture as I describe, but put a little scoop in the bottom of your pan, layer tortillas, corn or flour, spread more of the bean mixture, and repeat the layers, ending with the beans. Top with the sour cream and cheese and bake.

Black Bean Quesadillas

Olive Oil
Sliced Bell Peppers (as many colors as you like)
Sliced Onions
Flour Tortillas
Cooked Black Beans (home cooked or canned)
Shredded Cheese (we generally use cheddar or pepper jack)

Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Swirl the olive oil in it and cook the onions and peppers, seasoned with oregano and salt, to your liking, at least getting the onions translucent. Set aside.

Heat another skillet over medium heat. Use this pan dry.

Scoop some black beans onto a tortilla and spread some onions and peppers over that. Sprinkle with the cheese and top with another tortilla. Fry these in a dry pan until each side is browned and crisp and the cheese is melted. Cut up and serve with hot sauce, sour cream, and/or lime wedges.

We eat these with a salad and fruit frequently for a good meatless dinner.

Fried Rice

This is a great way to use up leftovers and can be made with meat or without it. I use at least 4 cups of rice. Leftover is best, but you can cook some up for it. This is a loose method, not a strict recipe. You can change it as you wish.

Coconut oil/Sunflower Seed Oil
Vegetables (I always have carrots, peas, and scallions, and like to have onions, snow peas, broccoli, peppers, cabbage, I use other veggies that we have or that are leftover also, but never celery just because I don't like it in the rice)
Minced Garlic
Finely Grated Ginger
Leftover Rice (around 4-6 cups)
4 Eggs
Soy Sauce
Sesame Oil
Black Pepper
Oyster Sauce
Optional Leftover Cooked Meat like Chicken, Pork, Turkey, Beef, Duck, etc. diced up

Heat the oil in a large skillet and start cooking the vegetables, starting with the longest cooking to the shortest cooking time. I generally add things like the scallions and frozen peas at the end of cooking everything, including the rice and egg.

Beat the eggs with a splash of soy sauce, a few shakes of sesame oil and pepper. Move the vegetables aside in the pan and saute the garlic and ginger quickly, then stir into the vegetables. Slide vegetables to the side of the pan, add more oil if necessary, and cook the eggs. Chop up the scrambled egg a bit and toss them in with the vegetables. Add the rice at this point, breaking it up and stirring well to heat evenly. I sprinkle a little more soy sauce, sesame oil, some oyster sauce and lots of black pepper.

This is the point at which I add chopped scallions and anything like frozen peas and leftover meat. I give it another stir or two, make sure the peas are heated and we serve. I like to make a kind of Chinese green beans with this, but we sometimes eat it as is, with hot sauce passed on the side.

Homemade Hamburger Helper

Ground Beef
Green Beans
Sour Cream
Paprika (I love to use Spanish Smoked Paprika in this)
Black Pepper

Brown the beef in a skillet to render the fat a bit, add the onions and garlic and cook until they are translucent. Stir in green beans, I use frozen mostly, but fresh or even canned (drained) would work. Sprinkle the flour over the top and cook until you can't see flour bits. Stir in the sour cream, dill, paprika and a few gratings of nutmeg. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You can thin with water, milk or broth if you wish. We make a salad and serve this with toast or egg noodles.

Tomato and Olive Pasta

Olive Oil
Onions, diced
Garlic, minced
Diced Tomatoes, Fresh or Canned with all juices
Kalamata Olives, pitted and chopped
Parmesan Cheese

This is a quick and easy dinner. Start the salted water boiling for the pasta. Heat some olive oil in a pan over medium high heat, add the onions, cook to your liking, then add the garlic and cook a minute or two more. Toss in the tomatoes and olives, and cook down while your pasta cooks. Drain the pasta, toss with the tomato sauce and top generously with grated parmesan cheese. I don't usually find I need to add salt to this because of the olives, cheese and how well I salt the pasta water, you may disagree.

Tuna Pasta Salad

Diced Tomatoes
Minced Parsley
Kalamata Olives
Olive Oil
Canned Tuna, drained
Chopped Scallions
Lemon Juice

Cook up some small pasta and drain. Toss with diced tomatoes, minced parsley, kalamata olives and capers and set aside. Heat olive oil in a pan and cook tuna, scallions and garlic in it. Add lemon juice at the end and toss the whole mixture with the pasta. You can eat this hot or cold as a salad.

Sausage, Cornbread and Gravy

This is a great breakfast for dinner idea. I brown up a couple of pounds of link breakfast sausage and mix up cornbread batter. I put the batter in a prepared 9 X 13 pan and get ready to bake as normal, but sink about half of the link sausage into the batter. While it bakes, I crumble the rest of the sausage, add flour to the fat to make a roux, then stir in milk and season well with salt and pepper. This gravy is a 1:1:1 ratio of one tablespoon of fat to one tablespoon of flour to one cup of milk. I let this thicken and serve over the cornbread with the sausage links in it. We usually eat this with a fruit plate or fruit salad of some sort. This meal is quite filling and feeds a lot of people.


I love frittatas, because they use lots of eggs, can be made with pantry staple vegetables, and are tasty, filling and quick to make.

For our family, I scramble about 10 eggs, add a cup or so of milk and whisk together with salt and pepper. I also like to add chives or fresh thyme to this mix. In an oven safe skillet, I heat olive oil or butter, and cook diced onions, potatoes, peppers/whatever vegetables we have around. It is really tasty with asparagus, onion and potato with goat cheese and fresh basil. When the veggies are cooked, I spread them around evenly and pour in the egg mixture. I sprinkle in feta cheese, goat cheese, shredded cheddar, pepper jack, diced fresh mozzarella, whatever kind of cheese we have that looks good. I cook over medium heat to set the egg, pulling the edges away from the pan occasionally and letting the egg run into the gap to set some more. Then I take it off the burner, sprinkle some grated parmesan over the top and put it under the broiler for a couple minutes to finish cooking the egg and melt the cheese a little. We serve this in wedges with a salad and good bread.

Scrambled Egg Burritos

This is basically as it sounds. Make scrambled eggs, I like to stir in salsa and cheese while I scramble them, fill a tortilla with the mix, adding things like shredded cheese, fresh tomatoes, hot sauce and sour cream to it. You can serve it with beans and rice, or not, if you add enough veggies to your burrito.

Italian Sausage Skillet

Olive Oil
1 lb Italian Sausage, we like hot, you can use sweet
1 Onion, diced
6 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 can Diced Tomatoes
1 Bottle Beer

Heat olive oil in skillet, snip the sausage into small pieces with kitchen shears and brown in the oil. Add onions and garlic and cook about 10 minutes, then toss in the tomatoes. Season with thyme and oregano as you like. Pour beer over the top and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Cook for about 45 minutes. Serve over rice or pasta, make a salad to go along with it.

Leftover Hash

Leftover Meat, diced up
Diced Onions
Diced Potatoes
Corn/Leftover Vegetables

Cook it all in either leftover rendered fat or butter or olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. These vegetables are just suggestions. You can use anything that seems like a good idea to you. Adding cabbage is a nice touch, if you like cabbage. If you add enough vegetables, this is a nice one pot, one dish meal. You can add a salad to augment it, though. This can also be made with those rings of smoked sausage/kielbasa cut up into bite sized pieces, when I use sausage, I season with thyme as well.

Clean Out the Fridge Soup

This is a great way to clean out the limp vegetables in your fridge and make a nutritious meal. Saute onions, garlic, peeled and diced carrots and celery in olive oil. If you have other vegetables that need longer cooking, saute them with these vegetables. Peel and dice a few potatoes and toss them into the mix. Add a couple cans of diced tomatoes with their juices, or fresh tomatoes with their juices. Season with oregano, thyme, salt and pepper. Add enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. If you have quick cooking veggies, toss them in at this point. Shred some cabbage and add it to the pot as well. Cover and simmer another 15-20 minutes. If the cabbage needs a little longer to cook, you can cook longer, but it is best before it is mushy. Taste to check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Serve with a good whole grain bread or rolls.

Slow Baked Chuck Roast
Large Chuck Steak

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees F. Season the chuck steak liberally with salt and pepper on all sides and place in a 9 X 13 baking pan. Cover tightly with foil and cook for 5-6 hours. The meat will be soft and easily shred, as well as producing a lot of liquid and fat that can be put over baked potatoes, rice or bread. Serve with one of those, as well as sliced tomatoes or a salad and a steamed green vegetable.

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Finished Object Friday: Yasmina

My biggest finished object this week was my daughter! I haven't focused on much else.

I can post a few photos of her, now that I'm home.

Here she is pretty close after delivery

This is the next day asleep

And here she is trying to sleep

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Birth Announcement

Today at 12:23 p.m. Yasmina Kathleen was born. She was 7 lbs 8 oz and was 19 3/4 inches long. I am doing well, the c-section went well and quickly. She is nursing like a champ. I will post more information and a photo when we get home.

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Retiring 2007 FO List

It is more than halfway through the year and I still haven't retired my 2007 FO list from my sidebar. I'll do that now, so I can start putting up the few things I've finished in 2008. I think this year my FO list will not be exclusively for knitting, I'll just note whether something is knit, crocheted or sewn. If I get anything else made this year.

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More from Tim Hawkins

This is one of the first videos we looked at after seeing the Cletus video. It might be funnier to us because of our homeschooling experience.

I actually like the Stephen Curtis Chapman song this uses. I love that he writes a love song to his wife on each album, and actually does a good job of it. This version, though, is awfully funny.

I liked the range of songs he included in this video. Tim Hawkins seems to be a Christian artist who did not find the Lord and lose his talent, like so many of the examples we hear on contemporary Christian radio.

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Menu Plan Monday: July 7

Today is our final day before baby day, so it is a short, short cooking week for us.

I had a little minor scare last night which made me worry that we'd have either labor or an unscheduled c-section sometime between last night and this morning, but it seems to be alright. My midwife told me it was within the range of normal, and what to be concerned about, and reassured me that if those signs showed up, I'd have plenty of time to get to the hospital and take care of things. I did recognize it as a relatively normal possibility, but because of the risks with me going into labor, and the unknown factor of how high those risks are, it was still something that made me worry.

I still finished packing our bag last night, and made sure all my will/health directive/durable power of attorney stuff was ready to go. That was good, because it made me realize that there is a part of both our wills that needs to be revised. It won't affect anything at this point, even if something goes terribly wrong for me, but I made sure Rich knew it, so that we could deal with it as soon as we could after we have our daughter. I also called our priest and Rich's parents to have them both pray and be on alert that we may need them to come as soon as they could today to relieve Arthur and Michelle, who are supposed to be leaving us around noon, but would obviously stay until replacement child care could get here if necessary. If you are inclined to pray, please do so also.

Basically, I have crossed off pretty much everything from my list of things that I wanted to get done before the baby arrives. The little baby dress in two pieces is likely going to stay that way for some time.

So, I'm going to take it easy and lay as low as possible. I'm also going to make sure that an adult is with me when I drive to the few errands I will attempt today, so long as I still feel up to them, in case I need someone to help me out. Aside from the shakes from being so nervous I had last night, I am well, baby is moving all around, and things should be fine. I did get to rest a bit more last night, and I feel much more optimistic than I did at 11:00 last night.

I will provide any recipes on request, as usual, though there pretty much aren't any, and it will take me quite a while to do so.

What is on your menu this week?

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Sunday, July 06, 2008

Just a Housewife

These are words that just about every homemaker hates. You know what? I've never heard them from a man.

I recently read a book about cooking contests, specifically the Pillsbury Bake-Off. The book was interesting, except in the places where the author thought she had to defend women's reputations. She talked about how men generally denigrated traditional women's work (which is a dubious claim, though I can see how it was taken for granted, much the way women take for granted the hard work and paycheck earned by their husbands), then proceeded to do so in a far worse manner. After explaining that the contest was initially geared toward homemakers, she then went on to justify the contestants by saying that these women weren't "just housewives," they were doctoral candidates, neurosurgeons, authors, etc.

It seems that just being a housewife wasn't good enough for this woman who thought men denigrated traditional female roles so much. Why is it so much more significant/better that these women were these other things? Why does it matter that they weren't just housewives? Doesn't it feed into the stereotype that women's work isn't valuable enough when these statements are made? Isn't this buying into the "masculine" idea that women's work isn't valuable enough on its own?

Interestingly enough if a woman is a fabulous cook at home for her family it doesn't bring the same respect as if she's a caterer or chef. Martha Stewart built her empire on marking up and yuppifying traditional women's work and crafts. Wives and mothers used to make table settings, arrange flowers, make interesting meals, decorate their homes, make pillows, work in their gardens without spending all that money. That was supposedly what they all wanted to be freed from, but now, so long as they buy the expensive magazines, marked up craft supplies and wealthy suburban luxuries, it is a worthwhile endeavor. Or maybe only for Ms. Stewart who makes a paycheck off of it.

When I was only a knitter, the general public seemed to think it was a quaint thing I did. Traditional. Matronly. When I was published, then it was a serious thing. I always wonder why my work with my hands gained so much meaning from a simple paycheck. The first thing people say when they see what I make or taste what I cook is "You could sell these!" They mean it as a compliment, so I don't comment, but they show an ignorance of what kind of pay would be required for handmade/homemade work, and imply that the worth is in the cash.

I do not see it that way. When academics fight so hard for quilting/knitting/sewing to be recognized in the academy, I see it as pandering to the stereotypical male view that women's work only matters if it matters to those on high. Why do they need the validation of the grey headed men on their work? I know that my work is valuable to my family and to me. It extends to our community, our church, our friends and family, and, in some way, to the outer world as well, but my self-worth is not tied to my employment or earnings.

I have a good friend who was looking for work that would be flexible enough for her to set her own schedule so she could be a mother to her son. She thought of doing housecleaning. Nearly everyone she worked with tried to talk her out of it, because it was menial labor, because it would be hard on her feet and back, etc. They then suggested she get a job as a waitress or bartender. She was astonished that they didn't see their own prejudices. Restaurant work is just as menial, and certainly as hard on the body, but one was seen as respectable work (at least in the interim) and the other was seen as lower class and less worthy. In this case the hierarchy was such that it was worse to be paid for housewifely work than for outside work.

In my experience, and that of the women I know who are in traditional roles, it is women and not men who are patronizing and denigrating. They are the ones who sneer about our luck to be able not to work, who make snide comments about our pride in our families, who shriek in disbelief about our having FOUR CHILDREN! (as happened at one of Rich's work parties - imagine what she'd think now?), who accuse us of setting back women's rights and betraying the "sisterhood." It always makes me think of Animal Farm and how the pigs rallied the animals against the farmers and their injustices and ended up looking, and behaving, just like the farmers by the end of the book.

Amazingly enough men do not seem as threatened by my choice to work for my family instead of a paycheck. You could argue, I suppose, that it is because they benefit from it, or see it as my rightful place, but that has not been my impression or experience. It comes from men who gain nothing from my work, and who are quite comfortable with women in the workplace. These men are also the first to help out, ask to learn more about, and praise the kinds of things homemakers do. So often, it is the women who dismissively say they don't have time for things like cooking, that they'd get bored all day with nothing but children to talk to (and so would you, if you had as much intelligence as they did), that their outside interests are so much more important than keeping a home relatively clean. I especially appreciate the assumption some make that women who work as I do must do it because of pressure from their husbands. I've far more often met women who stayed in jobs they hated because their husbands insisted they keep working so he could afford more things. There was a time when a man worked harder himself to be able to purchase more, and thought his job was to support a family, rather than making his wife feel like she ought to earn her keep.

I am by no means a perfect housekeeper, I don't cherish every diaper I've changed and I do actually read books and talk to other adults without feeling guilty or being upbraided by my husband. This idea that women who do traditional women's work are somehow lower or lesser is insulting, but particularly when it comes from other women. One of our friends, a priest's wife, told how she hid her goals of becoming a wife and mother when she was in school in the 70s, because of how much flak she got for betraying the women's movement. The priest who married us told the story of how he pushed his wife out the door to work because he had been so convinced that no woman was ever fulfilled in the home, and he didn't want to be a chauvinist, keeping her chained to the stove. It apparently took quite some time for her to convince him that she wanted to be home, and that her degree and intelligence weren't being compromised by her being a homemaker. So, it is especially frustrating to read a woman spouting the same trope about how men didn't value women's work, then making sure the reader knows that the women who were doing women's work weren't wasting their time just being housewives, they had jobs and talents, educations. Not like those housewives whose work we value so much.

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Corporate Worship

Rich and I liked this because it poked fun at so many of the praise songs that we don't like. The ones that are all about me, and what I think about God and what I feel about God, and not so much about praising God or worshiping Him. There are a couple in here that we do like, Amira especially loves Better is One Day in Your Courts, but we still laughed ourselves silly listening to this. The lats song is particularly hilarious, because I Can Only Imagine is somewhat of a family and church joke for us, it's kind of an icon for all the me centered, so called worship songs. I'm sure I'm offending many people today, but the musically challenged, theologically corrupt, self-focused and just plain grammatically incorrect songs are something we mock around here.

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Three Songs I Despise and Their Improvements

We introduced our priest's family to Bill Bailey on YouTube, and they showed us the first of these three clips. I absolutely hate all of the songs these are spoofing, so aside from finding these funny anyway, I found them to be better examples than what they were parodying.

The first one was sent to our priest's wife from another priest's wife. I will say right now that our priest has never used a funny wife story at the expense of his wife. He will use family anecdotes sometimes, but never when it exposes one of his family to ridicule, unless perhaps himself.

Their oldest daughter pulled this one up for us.

This one we just found by looking at Tim Hawkins other videos. He is quite funny, in my opinion, and these are only a couple examples. I'll post a few more, but you can just search on Tim Hawkins, then go back to the top of this post and seek out Bill Bailey's musical humor.


Friday, July 04, 2008

Finished Object Friday: Beginning Again

I've already posted photos of the FOs I've completed, and now that we're four days from having a baby, chances of me getting much done for Finished Object Friday are pretty slim, but I thought I'd start up the blog entries again, so I could see what other people are making.

If you have one or more finished items this week, please sign Mr. Linky below and share all you have made. Your Finished Object(s) can be knit, crocheted, sewn, quilted, tatted, beaded, papercraft, woodwork or any other kind of craft. Show off what you have made! Please make sure you link to the exact post that shows your finished item(s) rather than just to your blog.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Bizarre Baby Names

I usually try not to judge people's names too harshly, as for the most part, they had little to do with getting them. I, after all, have a name that should be relatively common and easy to pronounce, but have it spelled in a creative way that means people rarely figure out how to say it. This is part of why we have used traditional spellings for our children's names, and spelled Amira's name as phonetically as we could so it would be easy to say when read. Oddly enough, it is Dominic whose name causes the most difficulties. People try to call him Dominique, which, by the way, is a GIRL'S name, not a boy's name. It is also not how it is pronounced in French, where that would also indicate a girl's name. Anyway, I also tend to recognize obviously ethnic names, and don't count them in the weird names category.

However. We get a newsletter from our midwife twice a year. It lists all the births for that segment of time, the full name, parents' names, weight, length, birthdate, number of siblings. I realize that other people probably look at our children's names, the boy's middle names and Amira's first name, and wonder what we were doing, as my name doesn't clearly show my ethnicity, but some of these names are too strange for me. A lot of it is the trend to spell traditional names creatively. All this does, in my opinion, is make the parents look less than literate. Then there are the names that are just cruel: Sunshine Deathray being the example that jumps out from the most recent newsletter. That's a girl. I cannot fathom why parents would do that to a child.

In the bizarre category, there was Electra Celimae (naming your child after an inc*estuous figure is not a good move, naming her after the modern celebrities bearing this name is also foolish), Razziel, which sounds like they were trying for one of the Biblical angelic names like Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, but got a little out of control and there was Kage. This was a boy, at least.

There was one that was both bizarre and misspelled, I think like Axl from Guns and Roses: Aksel. This was like the transitional commandment in the 10 commandments.

The rest were firmly in the normal name misspelled category: Zander, because Alexander is too many letters and there's that whole Greek x thing in the middle, Zoey, because who can pronounce Zoe, Aydan, not to be confused with the saint, Aidan, Ean, because they named all the rest of their children with E names and didn't want to break the pattern with an I this time.

Now, like I said, I know our boys' middle names, and our daughters' first names will probably look just as odd to other people. Even though we have a good reason for it, it's not like you can tell from our family name, and my first name does not let people know that there is Arab blood in my children, so perhaps people are trying to figure out what we were thinking with our children's names. Although, girls get more leeway in having creative/ethnic names. People tend to think those names are pretty on girls and weird on boys. That's part of the reason we gave our boys Arabic middle names instead of first names. We didn't want to give people a reason to beat them up.

Rich and I think a lot about the names we give our children. We care about the definitions, how they sound, how they work with each other and our last name, what the initials spell, if there are any obvious horrible nicknames, things like that. We also consciously decided not to name after anyone in our immediate family, and have almost entirely extended that to anyone living that we know. Although we nearly broke that rule with Jerome. One of the names we considered was someone living, and we were specifically thinking of naming for him. One of the childrens' godparents says he's waiting for us to name for him. He figures eventually we'll run out of boys' names and have to use it.

Actually, the original middle name we had for our new little daughter, which we abandoned, was the name of someone not so pleasant who is attached to our family, and we nixed it because of that. We didn't want to remind people of her, especially because it was someone who was closely intertwined, not just a distant relative who was a little wacky. So, we came up with another name which we like, and we are reconciled to the different name, even though we had tossed the first name around for several years. And no, I won't be announcing the name until I announce the baby.

It turns out that there is free wi-fi at the hospital, so I'll be able to blog from there. I just thought of that! I won't be able to post pictures, because we don't have a laptop, but I'll be able to announce her birth, time, weight, all that stuff.

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Cheese Pizzas

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've picked up on the fact that we eat meatless at least twice a week. One of the things we never do, though, is schedule pizza for those meatless days. It's not that none of us enjoy cheese or vegetarian pizzas, it's just that we tend to like them along with pizzas with meat or as one of the choices among several which include meat pizzas. I think it would depress Rich tremendously to face not being able to have meat on a pizza, though he doesn't always eat them with meat.

Also, we tend to either order pizza from a rather pricy place (very rarely) or make it here, usually grilled. We do not try to make pizza "cheaper," in the sense that we cut huge corners. It does cost us less to make it at home because we take advantage of places like Grocery Outlet and Cash and Carry, neither of which require a paid membership. These are both stores that are only found in the Western US (and evidently part of Mexico), but there may be similar places elsewhere. However, if we want good cheese, high quality pepperoni, good olives, artichoke hearts, etc, we get them, we are able to get them for less because of shopping at these places. We don't skimp on quality, and we aren't stingy on quantities.

Making your own dough and sauce does bring the cost down, and even buying high quality ingredients, it is less expensive the going out to a high end pizzeria or wood fired pizza restaurant. It is more expensive than the frozen pizzas, but really, who wants to eat what goes into those? Every time we buy one, we end up disappointed.

Some of our favorite pizza combinations are herbed tomato sauce, sliced fresh garlic or whole roasted cloves of garlic, mozzarella and parmesan, pepperoni, black olives and fresh tomato, or sauce, garlic, cheese, fresh basil, feta or chevre, kalamata olives, roasted peppers and marinated artichoke hearts. The children and I like something which Rich finds repugnant, sauce, cheese, pepperoni, black olives and pineapple. Rich and I sprinkle red pepper flakes and freshly grated parmesan on just about all pizzas (even the pineapple one, which perplexes him even more).

We have been grilling pizzas for the last four years and have really enjoyed it. I'll have to get Rich to remind me of the exact technique he uses on the grill, because I am the dough, sauce and prep lady, while he grills them for us. I use a dough recipe from Rustic European Breads from Your Bread Machine that I've tweaked a little bit. If we feel like it, we add some minced garlic, oregano and thyme to the bread dough. Mostly we don't, though. I make a quickie sauce from canned diced tomatoes, garlic, oregano, thyme and basil.

The sauce I make by using my hand blender and just whirring together the tomatoes, garlic and herbs. The dough recipe is as follows, we double it for our family:

1/4 cup cold pressed, extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup + 2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup semolina flour
3 cups bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast (we use SAF, that we buy in a pound block at Cash and Carry)

Put ingredients in proper order for your bread machine and process on dough cycle. Conversely, mix by hand or in a stand mixer and let rise about an hour, or until doubled. Roll out and use as you would any other pizza dough.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Private Grief

Before I scare anyone, nobody is ill or injured or dying. We are not facing financial ruin, Rich's job is not in jeopardy and our marriage is fantastic.

We have been dealing with a difficult situation for the last two weeks, though. I wanted to ask for prayer for wisdom and guidance then, but we were not able to speak about it, as the people who needed to be told had not all been told yet. Some of those people read my blog occasionally, and I didn't want to start awkward questions I wouldn't be able to answer. Now, all relevant people know, and we are able to grieve a little more publicly in community with these other people.

This is still not something we can discuss outside of with the people who are directly affected by the situation, but I think I can safely ask for prayers now for wisdom and guidance. We will need it. All of us who are involved, not just our family. For over two weeks now, Rich and I have been under a heavy burden, and day by day our closest friends have been placed under this burden as well, as they are enlightened as to the situation we are facing as a group. The grief is still raw for us, more so for those who have only just learned of what is to come.

Last night, we had the first open talk with almost everyone present (not everyone could make it to our meeting). There were some questions asked and answered, and some of the shock and sadness shared, but we couldn't get as deep into it as the situation requires. That will just take more time. I witnessed some of the greatest strengths about our community last night, and that makes the sense of loss that much greater.

It was interesting to find that nearly everyone there last night had thought the same thing that we did. We all knew that this point would come one day, we just didn't expect it to come so soon, nor did any of us feel prepared for it now. Most of us were counting on different external circumstances to bring us to this place. Yet here we are now. I cannot really say more than this, but would appreciate your prayers for me, for our family, for our friends who are all walking this together.

We are so joyful about our new baby, about so much, really, but this makes us feel broken.

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Frank's Red Hot Chile n Lime

I have been meaning to plug this for some time, as we tried it first several months ago. We like Frank's Red Hot sauce anyway, it isn't that hot, but it has a lot of flavor to it. So, when we saw the bottle with lime, we thought we would try it and find out if it was any good. It is quite good! So, now I prefer it to the regular Frank's. If you see this, give it a shot, you might enjoy it. Since it's a packaged food, you might even be able to buy it with a coupon to save a little on it. The lime in it adds something particularly nice, and it brightens up quesadillas, fake Mexican casseroles, beans, macaroni and cheese, etc very well. So, if anyone out there from Frank's finds this, I would absolutely appreciate coupons, free cases or sponsorship.

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Works for Me Wednesday: Scalloped Potatoes & Chipotle Rubbed Flank Steak

This week's theme for Works for Me Wednesday is recipes that are five ingredients or fewer. The steak is three ingredients, and the potatoes are six, so between the both, you have two recipes for fewer than 10 ingredients.

I have actually heard people talk about how hard scalloped potatoes are to make. They are not! This method is the easiest and tastiest we have found to make them. They taste rich and creamy and are not at all gloppy and gross. I have posted this recipe here before, but I will republish it for the sake of all the tired mothers out there who need a tasty side dish that is simple to put together.

To make slicing faster, I use my fake mandoline and use it on the second thinnest setting. I just whip through those potatoes in no time at all. This is one of the few times I use my garlic press, too, as I just squish the garlic into the cream with the thyme. It does take about a half an hour to bake, but the prep time is minimal, and it can cook away on its own while you prepare the rest of dinner.

Easiest Scalloped Potatoes

8 medium potatoes (if they are yukon golds or red bliss, you don't have to peel them), peeled and thinly sliced
salt and pepper
2 cups heavy cream
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons if you have fresh)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a 9 X 13 inch baking pan, lay slices of potatoes in single layer and sprinkle lightly with salt and fresh ground pepper. Repeat until all potatoes are used up.

Add garlic and thyme to cream and heat in microwave for about a minute or two. Pour over potatoes, spreading the garlic and thyme around, and pressing the potatoes to make sure they are all covered.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until cream has thickened and edges are lightly browned.

Chipotle Rubbed Flank Steak
I think I've posted this before, too, but it bears repeating, because it is so tasty.

3 lbs flank steak
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon chipotle powder

Rub the steak all over with the salt and the chipotle. Grill over high heat/hot coals for about 10-15 minutes, turning once, or until it is done to your liking. This should be at most medium, medium rare is better. Allow to rest 5-10 minutes, and slice thinly across the grain. Serve with warm tortillas, corn or flour, lettuce, crumbled queso fresco, diced tomatoes, guacamole, sour cream, whatever you like, tomato rice and perhaps beans. This is a great dinner, and quick, quick, quick.

edited to add:

I just remembered this one. A friend used to make this and I started doing it. This is a loose recipe, I make it to be enough, whatever that looks like.

Grilled Salmon with Creamy Feta Sauce

3 lbs Salmon steaks
1/2 lb tomato basil or tomato olive feta, crumbled
2 tablespoons butter
enough heavy cream to thin the sauce

Grill salmon so that it is just done. If your fish flakes, it is overcooked, but you don't want it raw in the center either.
Heat feta with butter in a sauce pan to melt, and add cream to it to make it a more sauce like consistency. Serve over the salmon. Make a salad to eat with this, and cous cous or rice pilaf or some other grain, when asparagus is in season, some grilled or broiled asparagus is also great with this.

Great food with minimal fuss works for me!

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