The brain bones connected to the paper bone?

This is my first post in The Living Page Discussion. But it's not the only one. Check out the rest
- Nature Notebooks and the Gallery of Forms
- Calendar of Firsts

Wildflowers and Marbles

I got my book in the mail! I'm only on the first chapter but it's already so good. I didn't even get through the preface before I had to stop and bombard Craig with all my thoughts on it. I'm sure I'll be talking more about it as I continue reading. I'm trying to force myself to take it slowly by only picking it up once I've read my Charlotte's Mason writings for the week (I'm participating in a forum discussion challenge of reading and discussing her whole series over 2 years).

One thing at any rate we know with certainty, that no teaching, no information becomes knowledge to any of us until the individual mind has acted upon it, translated it, transformed, absorbed it, to reappear, like our bodily food, in forms of vitality. 
                                                                                        Charlotte Mason

The above quote is from The Philosophy of Education and Laurie Bestvater quotes it at the beginning of The Living Page. I had read that quote several times before but this was really the first time I thought of it in terms of paper. Lucy is only 3 years old so obviously isn't keeping a commonplace book or even doing any formal notebooking or narration but I immediately thought of her drawings.

She loves to draw and I'm always excited to peek over her shoulder because her seeing what she draws is like a glimpse into her mind. Sometimes she draws what you think of as standard preschool subjects - family portraits, rainbows, horses, flowers. But often she draws what she has been thinking about and learning about. Those are my absolute favorite because you can see her thinking things through as she decides what to draw and how to put it down on paper.

As I mentioned here, last saturday afternoon we spent some time at a museum where she and I "dug" for fossils. Then we would match what we uncovered to a chart to find out what body part it was and from what animal it came. She loved this. That night as we were cooking dinner, she started drawing bones.

I immediately recognized the large one on the bottom as a jaw bone. That was the first "bone" we had found at the museum. But then as she kept drawing, I could see her try and figure out what other bones might look like. With a bit of guidance from us telling her to feel for them, she came up with some pretty good guesses. On the left there is a leg and foot. One the top, a "back bone" and below it a hand. She really wanted to draw ear bones but Craig and I were at a loss as to describing those for her.

This is much more of a nature journal style page than art.  She didn't want to color anything or make it pretty. This was all about getting down on paper what she was thinking and I could tell.
And it isn't very precise since her foot only has 3 toys but her hand has 12 fingers. But the effort she put in to think about things as she drew them was pretty impressive.

Ms. Mason is known for having said, "the only true education is self-education" and since her principles are based on the natural law of how children learn, this applies to the pre-formal education years as well. Of all the things I might have wanted or expected Lucy to learn this past weekend, the concepts of bones or fossils or skeletons did not make the list. We read books on Abraham Lincoln before we left and talked about presidents and I kind of expected the connections she made this weekend to have something to do with him -  and she did pick up bits and pieces of that but apparently this is the part of the feast that her mind was hungry for. And she wasn't done processing it until, hours after we left the museum, her mind had a chance to act upon it, transform it, and bring it out again in the form of a drawing. Amazing!


Family Date!

Lucy: I can't wait until we see the White House tomorrow!

MacKenzie: Uhm. We aren't going to the White House.
Lucy: But you said we are going to see Abraham Lincoln's house. And Abraham Lincoln is a president. And presidents live in the White House!
MacKenzie: Well, yes, but this is the house he lived in before he was president.
Lucy: Is it white?
This past weekend we finally got around to visiting Springfield, IL. I say finally because Craig has been wanting to go for quite a while. It's only a couple hours away but we just couldn't seem to make it happen until now.

The nice thing about a vacation only two hours away is that you don't feel a lot of pressure. We had a list of things we wanted to do and we were even able to add a musuem mid-way but Friday we woke up at a regular time and got the kids ready and packed without my feeling like a chicken without her head. This is not the way our trips normally start.

First stop, the capital. Both days were bitterly cold and windy which meant that we ran into the museums and stops a lot but the benefit was that we didn't have to do a lot of waiting. Capital tours run every 30 minutes but since nobody else were there, our guide offered us a private tour as soon as we walked up! I didn't get a single picture but I will say that the Illinois' capital is much fancier than Missouri's.

Then we bundled back up to go to Lincoln's house. This time we weren't completely alone on our tour, we had another couple join us. I know summers are very crowded there so this was really great although I think the tour guide might need to learn how to improvise. He kept giving directions like there was a big crown - "Let's form a double line before we move into the next room, small children in front so they can see" and we'd look around and see that even if we all stood a foot apart, we'd fit and be able to see so the line probably wasn't necessary.

Lucy didn't seem to mind that the house was green and yellow instead of white but she was a bit perplexed by the bathroom situation. The guide pointed that out and asked her to look for under the bed for the chamber pot. She saw it but when he explained what it was for she just stood there looking at him like he was crazy. It's not really that different from a potty chair so I'm not sure why this was a big thing to her but it was. She had a similar reaction when she was the outhouse. The other couple with us even noticed her reaction and laughed and commented on it. Craig and I really enjoyed the house tour but about midway through I could tell we were losing the kids.

 Seeing as they had been doing somewhat "boring" stuff all day AND had skipped their naps, this was understandable. They held it together just long enough for us to get to the hotel (yay for early check-in!) were the were able to relax a bit, have a snack, play with "Mr. Clementine" that Craig made, and most importantly for Lucy - go swimming! I'm pretty sure this was her favorite hour of the whole trip.

At this point we were ahead of schedule which was good but also meant we ended up eating dinner at 3:30. We had planned Scheels for the next day but went ahead and did it. This is the flagship store and it is huge.

 Craig and Lucy did the ferris wheel. We both thought she would chicken out at the last minute but we had coupons for a free trip so gave it a try anyway and she loved it. Everytime it went around she would wave and yell "I'm having fun Mom!"

To continue with the theme of the weekend, we were the only ones in line for the ferris wheel so I think they let it go around a couple extra times before we explored the rest of the store including watching the divers clean the giant fish tank, stopping by the fudge counter,seeing a couple animatronic presidents and a whole mountain stuffed animals plus these few photo op ones.

 I guess I don't take Lucy out shopping that much because she was also fascinated by the manikins and wanted Craig to take her picture next to one. I wasn't really planning on buying anything but I have had a heck of a time finding snow boots in Lucy's size (she can't be the only 3 year old who wants to play in the snow so why does it seem most boots start at size 12!) so when I spied a pair of Northface boots for $20 we had to try them on and they fit! I also got a pair of Smartwool socks which I have been wanting to try for a long time but I'm a bit embarrassed to say how much I spent on a single pair of socks but I will say I am wearing them right now and I think they are going to be worth it. 

A full day but we still managed to get everyone back and in bed early.
Tucking Lucy into bed..."I had such I great time today on our family date."
The next day we explored the Lincoln Presidential Museum. This was quite visual with lots of life sized models so good for the kids too. It really only hit the big points including Ford's theatre and a large room for his state showing. I thought Lucy might get upset at that point and she did - she cried. But not because Lincoln was shot but because we had to leave the Ford Theatre room which had a pretty red spotlight and the black room was boring and not colorful :-)

They had a great little kid's area so the kids could get some energy out and touch things to their hearts contents before we headed to our next stop -

 Lincoln's tomb. It was closed so we could only take pictures from the outside and it was so cold and windy that it was a really quick stop.

After lunch was when we had originally planned to go to Scheels but since we had already done that, we stopped by the Illinois State Museum. The regular portion was nothing special but their children's zone was just what we needed before the car ride home. Lucy loved the fossil area and apparently has been bitten by the bone bug which has lead to some very interesting drawings.

MacKenzie: What was your favorite part of the trip?
Craig: I liked seeing Lincoln's House
MacKenzie: I liked the museum and playing with you in the toy room there.
Lucy: Uhm...
MacKenzie: Do you remember everything we saw. The capital with the fancy rooms? The store with the ferris wheel and fudge? The museum with the fossils you dug up?
Lucy: I liked the hotel. It was cozy and fun to climb on (referring to the sofa bed) and I liked the breakfast and the pool. 


If you give a wife a wax ring...

Our bathroom (yes, we only have one) is easily the most dated room in the house. It has harvest gold tiles all around the room to about chair rail height in addition to the entire shower. Then there are white accent tiles with sparkly gold animal cutouts. Then the floor is small white and yellow tiles. Yellow - not gold - as in, they don't match each other. The medicine cabinet has built it lights that are fake gold. All the grout is, you guessed it, gold! When we moved in, we painted the walls white and when we painted the closet we could tell that at one point, even the walls were yellow/gold at one point. Now, I like yellow. My kitchen and dining area are yellow, but it has its limits.

Anyway, when we moved in, I went the "cover it up with white shower curtain and white towels" route and we've manged to survive with it looking like this for the past 3 years. Mostly I just liked to pretend it didn't exist.

But last week, Craig mentioned that there was a tiny leak under the toilet so he was going to need my help to lift it up and replace the wax ring. Easy peasy, right?

But then I had an idea! Craig just loooovves it when I get ideas. See, I've been thinking on and off about the bathroom floor and what we could do. It was the worst part of the room. Even if it wasn't that awful shade of non-matching yellow, it was really hard to clean. The grout was gross. One time I tried to use a toothbrush to scrub it all but all that did was make it various shades of grey and it took so long I had to do a little every day and by the time I got to the door, a week or so later, the far wall was already in need of it again. I don't have time to scrub my bathroom grout with a toothbrush every day. Plus there was a little area near the front of the toilet where the little tiles had cracked and crumbled which basically made it a funnel for any liquid to get sucked under the toilet. Can you think of anything worse for a family with a a small potty training boy. Now that you are completely disgusted, you will see why I took my opportunity when I saw it.

So we decided to put in groutable vinyl tiles. But if I was going to get a new floor, I really should paint the vanity and mirror to match. The vanity looks white but actually has a light blue wash over it. All done in a flat paint. Yes, flat!

And if I was going to paint the vanity, I need new knobs for the vanity. New art work. Matching towels! And before you can say "Bob's your uncle" I'm planning a mini-bathroom make-over. Fun! We started Monday and are cooking right along. I just finished grouting and we'll let it dry over the next few days. I hope to have some better pictures for you next week!


No Sugar Challenge - Week 3

Day 15 - I need to stop looking at Pinterest during craving-intense periods. That is all.

Day 16 - Rethinking some things. I'm sure I'll have more to say later (let's face it - when do I not have more to say :-) but I think I need to go the opposite direction and try and make sure I have some carbs in the afternoon.

Day 17 - Church Ladies Night Potluck = complete and utter fail. Moving on.

Day 18 - Had a slice of bread with butter for my afternoon snack. Instead of feeling like I needed to snack all afternoon, that was enough.

Day 19 - That's one way to avoid cravings, sleep through them! Jonah slept very poorly last night so we all took a long nap and didn't wake up until 4pm so I didn't really even have time to snack before dinner. Then his late nap meant it took me almost 2 hours to put him to bed at which point I was exhausted so no bedtime snack either. Not my favorite way to avoid sugar but I guess it worked.

Day 21 - Slipping. Both in my resolve and my recording. That said, the last few days have gone really well because I've started listening to my body's demands for carbs in the afternoon. I realized I'm doing really well with high protein/healthy fat breakfasts and have been doing decently at moving away from a super high carb lunch (replacing the daily pb&j with soups and leftovers) but that means that by 2pm, I do need some energy. Not a bad thing as long as I plan for it and don't resort to cookies and sugary muffins to get those carbs.

Day 23 - Getting ready to go away for the weekend tomorrow so I'm halting the experiment. I won't go all cookie monster and eat every piece of sugar in sight but I just know it is hard to control at restaurants and I'm not going to stress about about it. I am packing a lot of healthy snacks like hardboiled eggs, fruit and cheese sticks as well as our first lunch though so we'll see how it goes.


The things she says

While at my dad's, looking out the window at my brother's dogs (including this infamous one). For reasons that are obvious if you have read that linked post, they stayed in the backyard away from the kids. Lucy didn't seem to remember anything about "the incident" - at least not consciously. This conversation may reveal her subconscious:

Lucy: Look at the dogs out the window, mommy. I'm pretending they are mine. The brown dog (IRL  - Deacon) I've named Kip. The black dog (IRL - Kip) I've named Satan. 
Me: Satan? Oh, that's a interesting name.
Lucy: Yes, I made it up. Satan - don't you think it's a good name for a dog?
Me: Yes, I think it is an excellent name for that dog :-)

Lucy: Are babies wee tiny people?

Since we don't have a tv and only watch netflix on the computer, Lucy enjoyed my dad's giant tv but didn't quite understand how it worked. After a meltdown or two after we explained how tv shows work and how we can't pick exactly what we want to watch, she seemed to understand - kinda.

Lucy: Uncle Rick? Can you take the phone and turn on the computer where we have to watch whatever is on like the radio.
Uncle Rick: What?
Me: She wants you to take the remote and turn on the cable so she can watch tv. 

But she quickly learned cable has its downsides too. Sesame Street came on and Lucy's response: Hey! I don't think this a good show for kids. It has monsters!

Look! I've built the most medium tower in the world!

Me: Did you have fun helping Daddy in the basement?
Lucy: Yes. Mommy, I really like Daddy.
Mommy: You do? Me too!
Lucy: Really?

Lucy: When we get chickens, can I hold them?
Me: Yes, if you're careful.
Lucy: Can I pet them?
Me: Yes.
Lucy: Can I feed them?
Me: Yes.
Lucy: Can I smooch them?
Me: No
Lucy (crying): Oh, but I want to smooch them. I'm just going to love them so so much.

Lucy: So liquids are things you pour and they go whoosh (arm gestures included).
Me: Yes, that's right.
Lucy: And solids you can't really pour like that.
Me: No, not really.
Lucy: So what about poop? Is that a liquid or a solid?
Me: Well, let's talk about it when we aren't eating lunch.

Craig and I decided to fix up the bathroom a bit starting with a new floor. We discussed this after the kids were in bed and did not tell Lucy. Two days later, completely unprompted, she walks out of the bathroom and...

Lucy: Mommy. You know what I love. The bathroom floor. I love all the little squares and rectangles. I just love it. Note: She has NEVER mentioned her love of the bathroom floor before. Not that her opinion would have changed our plans but it might have been nice to know.
Me: Actually Lucy, Daddy and I are going to put new tile on the floor in a few days. I think you'll like it to.
Lucy: Oh no! I love it. (Tears falling). I just love it so so much. What will happen to my squares and rectangles?!
Craig: The new tiles will be squares too. Bigger ones.
Lucy: Glares at him. Noooo!

Lucy: You know, I'm just not going to say "Thank You" to Jonah anymore. He never says "You're Welcome"


A Mother's Journal

Doesn't "A Mother's Journal" sound so much more pleasant than "Brain Dump"? I think so. But either way, this post is just a mish-mash of things I've been thinking about.

First up, we picked up our 1/4 cow yesterday.When we ran out, I picked up a bit at the grocery store and I was horrified at the price. I hadn't bought beef in probably two years so you can imagine my sticker shock when I saw how much a pound of the cheapest ground beef costs! On the plus side, it made the price we paid for our grass fed quarter seem much more reasonable. In anticipation of chickens, I've been reading The Backyard Homestead Guide to Raising Farm Animals and it seems to think we have the space for a cow on our 1/2 acre - ha! That's not going to be happening, I prefer my beef to be brought in wrapped up nicely and ready for the freezer. But I'm so excited to have beef back in our rotation. So many of my winter favorites involve beef - chili, shepherd's pie, lasagna. Yum.

I've got a couple books going but neither is what I want so I'm just sort slogging through them. I ordered a copy of The Living Page and I just can not wait for it to arrive. I don't think I've anticipated reading a book this much in a long time. Come on Amazon!

I feel like we've finally kinda sorta gotten back into our routine after the holidays. It's a lot harder when Craig is working weekend but today is his last Sunday! Next weekend we're doing something fun as a family then he's moving to a different office where he will have regular but flexible hours. This has been a long 18 months of shift work and I was ready to be done about 17 months ago so I can't wait to break out a real weekly routine.

I also can't wait to get rid of poor little Freddy the fish (I think his name is Freddy? Lucy seems to think that's what she named him but she didn't seem 100% confident either. He's obviously been a dear friend :-). All his fishy friends have passed away now and just as soon as we find him a new home, the aquarium will be emptied to make room for our nature table. We've only had a nature tray lately and as spring approached, I want a bigger area for our finds.

Not that spring is coming soon. I'm trying desperately to appreciate the season I'm in right now but I seem to be failing miserable. I don't mean that in a deep motherhood in full of seasons way. No, I'm just tired of being cold. Why is it only January? The kids have both seemed to inherit Craig's cold tolerance. I'll be in bed in my flannel pajamas under my flannel sheets, clinging to my hot water bottle and still shivering but Lucy's will be in just a t-shirt with a light quilt. Craig will try and put another blanket over her but it's always back on the floor by morning time. And Jonah's in his sleepers but can sense you ever hovering over him with a blanket and starts kicking. They are supposed to be on my side convincing Craig to turn up the heat! Sheesh. What are they even good for? I do know that part of my cold intolerance is due to my thyroid issues which makes me feel a little better - it's totally legit people! I'm not just whiny. At least I have my tea to help - and it 11 days I'll have tea and cookies. Not that I'm counting :-)


No Sugar Challenge - Week 2

So keeping track of things is much easier when you do it every night. But I think this is what happened this week :-)

Day 7 - Made it one whole week. Feeling pretty good. Used 1 Tablespoon of Sucanat for pigs in a blanket but left the honey out of our smoothies and nobody complained.

Day 8 - The afternoon cravings aren't so bad anymore. I'm having to buy 2x the amount of cuties I normally but I'm surviving.

Day 9 - Got some new tea today in the mail today! Tea and cuties are my salvation. The evening cravings are pretty bad but that might have something to do with hormones.

Day 10 - I lied. The afternoon cravings are awful. Chips and salsa are tasty but just not what I want. In the evening, I NEED CHOCOLATE but take a bath instead.

Day 11 - Tried a new baked oatmeal - blueberry. Everyone loved it and for the first time I didn't even want syrup whereas before I'd think, "Well, this isn't bad but it would be better with some maple syrup." I only pretended to pour it on Jonah's and Lucy only got three drops (she checks to see if she can see the shininess so I've got to put something there) but she still declared it her favorite ever and said she wants to eat it "all the days."

Everyone had crappy naps so I salvaged the afternoon with a tea party in the afternoon and she actually drank the tea this time (although it was about 50% milk). We desperately need to go to the store so our snack is saltines and butter. I'm not going to make any magazines with that one but I think the dose of fat in the afternoon was good for me. Things to think about.

Day 12 - First Sunday in a long time that I didn't get a donut. I didn't even miss it. I did however lick the frosting off of my fingers after helping Jonah and Lucy split theirs. That was more a factor of the crowd and difficulty getting to a napkin than my desire for the sugar but I feel I should be honest.

Day 13 - Got some chocolate cherry custard to go with our watching Dr. Who in our pj's on the couch anniversary "date." We know how to party big around here. But the "cheat" was totally worth it.

Day 14 - We have breakfast for dinner. Despite the fact that I used 1 Tablespoon of sucanat (cut in half from the recipe's 2T), pancakes without maple syrup are boring. Luckily, I have bacon to console me. That certainly helps.

Total Sugar usage (- cheats) = 3 Tablespoons + 1/4 teaspoon

Almost half way there but boy do I want a cookie right now.


The Little Patient

So I mentioned Lucy had dental surgery on yesterday. I know several other kiddos that are having it soon so for those parents out there I will say it wasn't as bad as I was worried it would be but be prepared for a rough hour as they wake up.

The children's wing at the hospital we were at was wonderful. You can just tell when the nurses are used to working with kids and it makes a big difference. She was the first surgery so we had to get up ridiculously early - notice both kids are in pajamas. We were the only people in the waiting room but they had a ton of toys to keep her distracted.

Then we got our room and they offered her toys and movies to watch while she waited. The nurses were great about talking to her and explaining things. I thought she would be shy but she was talking to them and having a fun time. We did give her the optional sedative to help the parentless transition to the operating room but I'm not sure if it was necessary. As they took her away she was telling them all about the birds on her pajamas. I had told her she might have to wear other clothes so she was quite excited to be able to keep her pajamas on.

No pictures of us at the hospital afterwards. That was the worst part by far. She came back with a bloody mouth and nose, half way awake but disoriented - and MAD. Mad at the iv, mad at the "things in my mouth", mad we couldn't go home. Not that I blame her. That was hard on me too because she looked really bad but they had told me beforehand that they had given her medicine so when she complained her mouth hurt, it was probably more that it felt weird than real pain.

They let me up on the bed to lay with her as she woke up which helped. They took out the iv before she drank anything because even with her eyes shut, she kept trying to rip it out. Jonah was upset so Craig took him out (I'm not sure if he was upset that Lucy was crying or that I was ignoring him and only giving her attention) and after they checked her vitals they left too hoping she'd calm down easier if they were out of sight. She slowly started to calm down but even after 45 minutes, she was refusing to drink anything. She asked to watch a little more Tangled but she must have been seeing double still because she got mad because "there are two horses and there is only supposed to be one. Turn it off. Turn it off!"

Eventually, they let us go and once we were out of the hospital, she calmed down a lot. They had told us to make sure she had some juice or a milkshake before she slept and we were fighting the clock because she refused the juice in the car and I could see her eyelids starting to droop. I kept talking to her until we got a milkshake and that perked her up. She'd never had one before and we had told her she would like them but she wasn't convinced until she tasted it (after she made me taste it first to make sure it was okay) but has already asked  if she could have them again.

She got settled in bed with the rest of her milkshake and some Daniel Tiger. She was still quite cranky but obviously feeling much better - especially with a little brother around to entertain her with his fabulous headstands. After a very long nap ( 3+ hours), she was pretty much back to herself. I took over tooth brushing so I could be very gentle but she said they didn't hurt. Today she's back to herself except she still won't eat harder foods - rejected a peanut butter sandwhich for lunch and she eat her grocery store cookie very slowly today. I could tell it hurt a bit but she wouldn't give it up either.

So that's our experience. They added another filling during surgery so she ended up getting two pulpectomies on the bottom, two crowns on the top and another filling on top. I hope we never have to do it again but seeing as her teeth are such a problem for her despite our (mainstream AND natural) efforts to help her have pretty much failed her, I'm still crossing my fingers.


7 years and counting

Dear Craig,

Remember that worst date ever? Well, today has the potential to be our second worst. I'm writing this early but when it is posted, it will be our 7th anniversary. But instead of doing something fun today, we will be waking up incredible early to drag Lucy to the hospital for her to undergo dental surgery. Nothing says "aren't you glad you married me?" like helping a three year old recover from dental surgery*.

Except, maybe it does. It's not very romantic, no, but we'll be there together. I didn't even have to ask you to take the morning off, you volunteered to take the whole day. You are such an amazing dad. Not just there for the big things like medical procedures and taking Lucy on date nights to the symphony like you did last night but all the small ones too. Like letting Lucy climb on you every night or reading her Pippi Longstocking even when she stops you ever 3 minutes to ask what Mr. Nielson is doing right now. And of course Jonah adores you. I don't always like that when I have to comfort him several times a day when the mailman rings the doorbell and it isn't "dada, dada?" or the wind blows the door and it still isn't "dada? dada?" but when 4:30 rolls around and it is you, seeing his face light up as he climbs down from wherever he manages to be and runs over to you makes it worth it. So if I have to be there pacing up and down the halls while she's under general anesthesia, I'm glad it will be with you.

But you're not just a good day. You're a pretty awesome husband too. Let's face it, I'm a bit of an odd duck but you don't roll your eyes at me when I sit down next to you on the couch, slide over and say "Hey, Craig, so I've got this idea..." Okay, maybe you do roll your eyes a bit but you still listen. And more often than not, you're on the same page. And if you don't understand all the way, you're willing to listen to me explain the weirdness or even just say "Okay, I don't get it but I trust you so go for it."

-I say "homebirth?" and you say, "Hmm, I wonder how I'll fill out the insurance paperwork for that".

- I say "no tv?" and you say, "Well, I'm going to have to bring it up again for presidential debates and the olympics".

I say "Chickens?" and you say, "What kind of coop should we build?"

I say "Korean drama about a 400 year old alien who falls in love with an actress while protecting her from being the next victim in a murderous chabeol's killing spree?" and you say "You're on your own, but I'll sit next to you and read a book about chickens while you watch."

It's not just that you say yes to me whenever I ask for something though, it's more that when we have grown and changed, we've done so - together. While some of our weirdness was pre-planned, a lot was not so when I think of how similar our visions for our lives have grown, I'm amazed. I guess God knew what he was doing.

Your willingness to listen also means I can trust you when you say "No."  And I need your ying to my yang.. You'd like the thermostat set at 68. If it was up to me, it's be at 78. It's probably best for our health and budget at our compromise spot and that's true of a lot of things in our life.

You've learned not to ask what something is before you taste it because I'll insist you try it anyway and sometimes its better not to know. And if it's really bad, you help me make eggs and toast so we don't starve. You value the time and effort I put into feeding us healthy food and keeping the home up but when I text you in the afternoon because it has been one of "those days," you bring home that pizza and you even throw in a load of laundry.

I don't think I've ever met someone who works as hard as you. You work at being a provider for our family, yes, but you work more at helping me make our home and our community a place we want to be. And I'm glad to have been in the same place as you for these last 7 years. Here's hoping for many more!

*According to the official pamphlet about what to expect, it can take small children a while to "get over it" and as Lucy tends to have a bad case of the crankies when she wakes up early from a nap, I don't want to think about her waking up from general anesthesia to find an iv in her arm.


Please, sir, I want some more

I got a request for some of my breakfast recipes and I'm happy to oblige since I'm feeling a bit uninspired in the blogging arena. I'm just having a hard time getting back in my routine after Christmas - I almost had it then the big snowstorm led to Craig being home four days in a row. I don't want to complain because we like having him around, but it makes it hard to be productive. Anyway, on to breakfasts.

What is the matter with Mary Jane?
She’s perfectly well, and she hasn’t a pain,
And it’s lovely rice pudding for dinner again!—
What is the matter with Mary Jane?

Rice Pudding

We love rice pudding around her and Lucy insists I say at least part of the above poem before serving it. Mine is based on this recipe from Joy the Baker but is much less fussy - what can I say, I'm tired in the mornings. But if you are worried about my very imprecise directions, try hers until you get the hang of it.

I normally use leftover rice from the night before so instead of giving you amounts, I use the ratio of 2 parts milk per 1 part of cooked rice and for reference sake I made a batch with 3 cups of rice earlier this week for the four of us and we didn't have any leftovers - Lucy ate 5 bowls!

 Put it in a pot over a low to medium heat - just enough to reach a simmer and stir - and stir and stir and stir. Really, you can leave it to set the table or fetch a glass of milk but don't try to change a diaper or your milk will curdle. While you're stirring, add in some cinnamon, salt and if you like them, raisins. In about 25-30 minutes, it will be nice and thick. If the rice seems too crunchy/chewy still, you can add a bit more milk and keep going.  I normally serve it hot from the pot but if you plan to eat it cooled (chilled makes an excellent snack) it will thicken up more so keep that in mind - you want rice pudding not a brick.

Remove from heat and stir in a bit of vanilla and a pat or two of butter or coconut oil. I used to sweetened it with honey or sugar during the cooking process and you can do that but I've started just putting a little maple syrup on the kids and leaving mine plain.

Baked Oatmeals: 

I make several different baked oatmeals but I found them all on other blogs so I've just included the links below. The first has a different texture from the others so if one doesn't work, try the other before you give up. We like them both though. I will add two tips though:

1) You can drastically reduce the sugar and even leave it out completely. Of course, 1/2 cup of sugar isn't a whole lot spread over a 9x13 pan but even so I think we end up using less if I just put a touch of maple syrup on top.

2) I always make baked oatmeal the night before and leave it in the fridge. Then I put it straight from the fridge and into a cold oven before turning it on, adding about 5 minutes to the time to allow for the pan and oven to heat up. This allows the oats to soak (although Nourishing Traditions purists would probably say that a fridge soak still isn't sufficient) and also makes baked oatmeal a really easy breakfast. I use glass dishes and never had one break that way

Apple Baked Oatmeal

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal (these last two of both from Lynn's Kitchen Adventure's blog and she has lots of others here that I keep meaning to try but we love these so much I never seem to get around to it)

Three Cheers for warm breakfasts!


No Sugar Challenge - Week 1

I've decided that while I'm ruminating over other dietary changes, we'll start with the ones I know we need to do. Up first, sugar. We only eat natural sugars around here - sucanat, honey, maple syrup and some molasses - but even so I've gotten pretty lax about quantity. I also love to bake and have a major sweet tooth so you'll often find cookies and muffins around the house. That's not bad in moderation but it had slowly crept up until it was too much. This isn't a resolution, but a challenge for January specifically. Once I break some habits, I'll loosen up a bit. January happens to be conveniently located between the holidays and my birthday so I think it will work out well.

The challenge:
  • No outside hfcs or white sugar at all. No sugary snacks or desserts except fruit. And for me, no adding sweeteners to things (tea, oatmeal, etc.) I'm currently out of honey so I won't buy more until February. This challenge is for me although the kids are mostly along for the ride since if I'm not buying it or making it, I'm not sure where they will get it. I will put maple syrup on their pancakes/oatmeal still, just not mine.
  • Cheats #1 - I have 1/2 cup sucanat to play with for those odd times where I need to add 1/2 teaspoon to start yeast or 1 Tablespoon into a big batch of spaghetti sauce. 
  • Cheat #2 - I used sucanat (normally honey but I'm out) to make bread but since I'm cutting down my bread intake at lunch, those 5 loaves should last us all month. If they don't, I'll make more but won't eat any.
  • Cheat #3 - My anniversary is January 13th. If Craig happens to buy me a dessert, I won't be rude and reject it. But if he doesn't, then I'll thank him for being considerate of my sugar challenge - win/win for the husband!
Day 1 - Did fine until naptime which is not surprising because that is normally when I would grab a treat or a piece of chocolate. I ate a clementine and a handful of nuts which were tastey but not what my body wanted. I stood firm though - I can't give in on Day 1! After the kids went to bed was rough too because some of the Christmas treats are still around (Craig will take them to work later on) but a cup of tea with raw milk helped and I survived!

Day 2 - Oops. Put maple syrup on my pancakes and didn't even think about it until I was putting the jug away. At least it wasn't willful sugaring? My resolve is strong but my memory is weak.

Day 3 - Remembered to leave the sucanat out of our baked oatmeal. The recipe calls for 1/2 cup on top and 1/2 cup mixed in (9x13) but I have always left off the topping and reduced the mixed in amount to ~1/4 cup. This time I left it all out and it still tasted really good so that is now a permanent change. Fruit for afternoon snacks is something I've warmed up to quickly but evenings - those are rough.

Day 4 - Left the sugar out of the brown rice pudding and didn't even miss it. I think the creaminess mixed with vanilla and cinnamon just tricked me into thinking I've having sugar. Also, we should have rice pudding for breakfast more often, we all love it but I never remember to make it.

Day 5 - Snowed in all day with Craig stuck at work for 24 hrs. We had a fun day of preschool but I forgot that our treat was date/nute "snowballs." I used coconut flakes instead of powdered sugar for the outer coating which the kids liked. Although I never really declared dried fruit to be forbidden, these are a sweet snack and I should have refrained but Jonah took an extra 1.5 half to fall asleep without his daddy and I needed a bit of chocolate so I caved. :-(

Day 6 - Used 1 Tablespoon of sucanat for Naan (as allowed in Cheat #1) but left the sugar out of the curry recipe and it wasn't missed. But now it's 9:30 pm, Craig is out shoveling (aka - not around to distract me) and my body wants sugar! Luckily, we really don't have anything for me to eat. I think I'll go make a cup of tea.

First week results - So far I've used 1T (Naan) +1/4 t (carmelized onions for french onion soup) Sucanat to cook with. Not bad. I consider both of those to be good choices for splurging. 1/4 teaspoon to make a large batch of grass fed beef broth based french onion soup of which Jonah at 4 bowls - worth it! I've also messed up twice already which is kinda lame of me.  Pressing on though, tomorrow's another day with no mistakes in it!


Overdue K-drama reviewish things

I'm so behind in my semi-reviews of k-dramas so I'll try and make these brief. But brevity isn't really my thing so...

Mi-Rae's Choice/Marry Him If You Dare - 1.5 stars

Should be called "watch if you dare" but don't dare. This was awful. It started all cute for the first half and I liked the characters and was waiting patiently for the story to be revealed but then BLECH, the writer seemed to throw up everything and anything she could think of to boost ratings or appeal to fans  or something and we lost the plot, we lost theme, we lost the essence of two of the four characters and 50% wouldn't be so bad if the other two characters had any scenes but they didn't. The second male lead got all the moments with the female but she kept making moony eyes at the first lead who seemed more like a cameo by then. And if you are going to have a time travel show about choices, you have to have the character make them - both in the show and at the end. You can have any rules you want, just stick to them! I mean, I watch Dr. Who, I'm okay with timey wimey stuff but it was like the writer didn't even think about the corner she was "box"ing herself into.

I think I'm more disappointed in this drama for the actors. Yoon Eun-hye is such a great actress and I want to see her in a good drama! And Jung Yong-Hwa has really improved his acting. I think that ultimately was a bad thing in this show since we saw more of him and his character ended up morphing into a typical clingy second lead. I'd say a clingy second lead that couldn't take a hint except Mi-Rae kept leading him on. And I don't even want to think about the ending because I've already imagined my own - which is probably more like the original was supposed to be. Because who wants a romantic comedy with no romance, no comedy and no happy ending?! Stay far far away.

The King of Hearts - 3.5 stars

I guess I'm on a negative streak because everyone seemed to adore this except me. It took my three watches to finally finish the first episode and I did like the beginning 1/2 a lot but the rest just kinda fell flat.

It's set in an alternative world where South Korea is a monarchy. He's from the royal family in South Korea. She's from the military of North Korea. They are thrown together at a joint military training event and the story takes off from there. I thought that was quite creative and I did enjoy watching the South/North teams interaction. I also enjoyed watching Lee Seung-gi's as Lee Jae-Ha grown from a man-child to a man worthy of the royal title which is saying something because I really don't like Lee Seung-gi that much. I know he's like the Ryan Gosling of Korean but he's really not my favorite.

And I loved Ha Ji-Won as Kim Hang-ah. She had a very similar character in Secret Garden but she does that tough girl with the sweet inside so very well. And that was perfect for this role because we see how she really is at her strongest as a supporter of Jae-Ha's. I do love watching a strong women in a positive role that doesn't become male bashing.

And I absolutely loved the secondary love story. Jo Jong-suk is totally adorkable in the best way. I really hope he lands some more good roles. There were a lot of other secondary character's with a lot of heart too. So with the great characters and acting, why why not a higher score? The plot was so bad in the later part of the show. The villian was cartoonishly evil and things just didn't make sense so I really had to force myself to watch the last few episodes. And spoiler: killing off my favorite character FOR NO APPARENT REASON is not the best way to endear me to you, show.

Master's Sun - 4.5 Stars

Love this! I "wrote" so much about this in my head while I was watching it but it's been so long. Maybe I should just rewatch it! I could do that, it's so adorable. I know the Hong Sisters aren't perfect but they do what they do best so well that you don't care about the flaws. And what the Hong Sisters do well is witty and quirky semi-outlandish comedies that have that touch of sweetness and heart. You would never think you could find yourself relating to would be nun turned cross-dressing boy band impersonator or a washed-out pop star turned reality show star and yet, somehow you do. It's true, their secondary characters aren't always fully fleshed out (although they are getting much better at that and this might be the best yet!), and their endings sometimes don't quite live up to the wonderfulness that is the earlier episodes but they are beloved for a reason

This particular Hong Sister's drama is about a ghost seeing insomniac and her savior, the stingy mall chaebol Joong-won. It turns out that whenever she touches him, the ghosts disappear. And since he has his own mystery to solve, they make a deal to help each other out.

I was originally kinda meh about the ghost story part because that really isn't my thing (aka - I'm a big scaredy cat) but I had to watch it anyway because - hello! Hong Sisters! It didn't disappoint. Gong-shil is a great female character - she's so needy but not in the typical k-drama fashion. And Joong-won is needy in his own way too so they are a great match. Plus, the chemistry between Gong Hyo-jin and So Ji-sub is amazing. The set-up for the skinship is perfect because it matches the story while being funny at the right times and still poignant when it needs to be. Well done on that end Hong Sisters. But the chemistry didn't have to carry the show because the character arcs are great too, you really experience how the two leads grow and change together. 

And as I said, the secondary leads ended up being pretty good here too and not just plot devices or k-drama cliches. Some of the other small characters were fabulous - secretary Kim! By the end I had forgotten was a horrible person he played in City Hunter and completely adored him which says a lot. Of course, no hong sister's show would be complete without an older couple being in love or having a baby so that's there and odd as ever but not as awkward as it could be and at least somewhat connected to the rest of the show.  

The big mystery from Joong-won's past ended up being a tad anti-climactic mostly because by the time the reveal came, we didn't really care about anyone but the main couple. And the ending did get dragged out with that additional episode being throw in there. You could clearly see how the entire episode could be skipped and you wouldn't even notice it BUT that is the fault of the station forcing them into it and I think they handled it well given that and I actually liked some of the confusion it cleared up - or maybe I just loved this show so much I didn't mind a bit of filler. I'm going to stop here because the more I write, the more good stuff I remember and I don't want this to be a mile long. 

Heirs/Inheritors/He who wishes to to Wear the Crown, Endure Its Weight - The Heirs - 3 Stars

I think I'm probably being quite generous with those three starts but I came in with very low expectations. Basically, I hoped it would be bad enough that making fun of it would be enjoyable - you know, like Boys Over Flowers. And this is totally Boys Over Flowers part II. You've got a school full of super rich chaebols and one poor girl tossed in, disapproving parents, and bullying. So I was really routing for amusingly bad.

But I was surprisingly happy to find the first few episodes quite enjoyable as are Park Shin-hye and Lee Min-ho. Okay, especially Lee Min-Ho. I would say I would watch anything that he is in but I didn't make it through Faith so I guess even I have my limits. But this one is totally watchable - as long as you don't analyze it. Don't try. Just sit back and enjoy the pretty. And this show is all about the pretty Except the wardrobe choices, which are atroscious. As is the soundtrack. And the Engrish. And the American actors and stereotypes. But still - the pretty!

But overall, I still think it's fun and cute. The two moms are surprisingly funny as are Krystal and Kang Min-huk (lookie there, another CNBlue boy doing well in the dramas!) as the comic relief couple. Woo Bin acts the heck out of the second lead character, so much that you couldn't hate him even though you knew you should. The plot is weak and even know I couldn't really say much more than rich boy loves poor girl but that's bad - until the writer decides it isn't and they get to live happily ever after.

I know there were a lot of critics but I think PSH and LMH did really well with what they were given. LMH can stare broodingly like no one else and PSH is as good at crying as she is bad at kissing. Yes, people got tired because they seemed to do so very much of the brooding and the crying in this show but that is the writer's fault. It's a real shame because when we were shown the cheeky Kim Tan and the sassy Eun-Sang, it was awesome. I just wish there was more of that. And sure there isn't really a plot but - did I mention the pretty?

Reply 1994 - Some between a 2 and a 4

Who would have thought that a show this heartwarming could be so divisive? I watched Reply 1997 after it aired so I missed the fan craze part but this one was even crazier! Netizens around the world disagreed vehemently over whether Na-jung should end up with and in the world of K-drama, that's kind of unheard of. It's normally pretty obvious who the leads are.

I will be upfront and say that I shipped the wrong couple from the very beginning to the very end. I 'll talk about spoilery things below the warning but I will say that if you are thinking of watching this, I'd actually recommend being spoiled. It will take the pressure off and allow you to enjoy it more - because uff, the pressure.

I'm so torn about the rating for this and if I had been for the other guy, I might have given this a slightly higher rating (than my original 4) but I also think I rated it too high. But even with my heart being broken many times along the way, I'm glad I stuck with this. Because it really isn't about the big husband mystery. It's about the "family" that makes up the boarding house and how they grow and chance and rely on each other. The warm and fuzzy slice of life reply series is a perfect example of why I watch k-dramas. You sadly just don't get that in American tv these days. From the awesome parents - again (they were the same actors as in the reply 1997 drama and while they technically played different people, they were basically the same - even down to mom's making massive amounts of food.) to the great secondary cast, this show was all about relationships and feeling like you are a part of something intimate and safe, even in a big city. It's also hilarious. I had to stop watching it during naptimes because 1) I kept waking Jonah up and 2) naptime watching means no sound so no soundtrack or goat noises.

It isn't perfect. For some reason the Reply series seems to have trouble with pacing. With each episode being 1.5hr in length, there were definitely some scenes which could have been shortened considerable. I mean, this series was 30+ hours! Also, while some little things were important and tied in nicely to the whole story, other things seemed oddly misplaced - like Na-jung's love of basketball that was so intense for the first episode and then only mentioned 1-2 other times. And how Sook-sook is perhaps the easiest baby ever because we never saw him between the ages of 1 and 6. I would have loved to at least seen him at the breakfast table once or twice - was he never fed?

 And of course, there is the mystery. I thought it was a bit silly in Reply 1997 because it wasn't much of a mystery but I prefer that to this time where it was unnecessarily divisive and misleading. I'm writing this 15 minutes after finishing the last episode because I don't want to let other opinions influence me first. And this review is actually much more positive than I thought it would be after the first 17-18 episodes. Because I do think the story, and especially the development of a few characters, in order to preserve the mystery which is a shame. But they pulled it back in the last episode and I'm happy with the end.

1994 or 1997? I liked them both. If you had asked me during the first 10 episodes I would have said 1994 hands down. After that, it's a toss-up. If you are watching for the overall show, 1994, if you are in it for the main couple - 1997. Not that you have to pick, you can watch them both - or don't.

The next day - Guys, I'm so torn. After letting it sit and reading a few things that reminded me of earlier points (*in spoilers), I'm just so heartbroken. Really. It's crazy. And it kinda makes me hate the writers because it was all done in the name of the mystery. But now I'm saying 2, because I don't think I can recommend it, even though I loved it, except when I hated it. Ahhh!


Right after watching: While some people who were trying to remain neutralish mentioned that they would be happy as long as Na-jung was, I disagreed. I actually didn't care very much about Na-jung. She was probably my least favorite character. And I don't mean I disliked her, I just liked everyone else so much. Especially Chilbong. To me, I just wanted Chilbong to be happy. And if he wanted Na-jung, I wanted him to have her. But I didn't actually care if they ended up together so I loved how he was brought "back" into the group. From the time he made that first phone call, my heart was screaming out, "get this guy a family!" so during that last episode with the emails, I cried a bit. I did. So touching. And then when they were all together and he called out "hyung" - killed me. I do wish they had they had laid out a bit more of his story and not just throw him that weird slipper girl moment at the end but that would have messed with the mystery so I know why they didn't, I just disagree with that choice.

Later on:
After more thinking, I'm pretty sure I liked the ending because I wanted to like it so badly. And yes, they did seem to bring CB back into the fold but still. Does that make up for the 7-8 years of being on the outskirts. I don't think so!  And the fact that the poor boy's "best friends" don't remember his birthday and then when he mentions them on tv, they don't even call him but instead get all excited about their moment of fame. Blech. Character assassination by writer.

*Yes, some of the earlier moments were deliberately set up to show us that CB was the right guy for NJ. Like Trash's and CB's differing decisions on the first New Year's Night. And then the second New Year's Night. I know she liked Trash the whole time and the one sideness is a normal part of many a k-drama but in a typical k-drama, you normally get to experience why the two main characters are a good fit and eventually like each other so that even if the second lead is a good guy and likes the girl, you realize that the main pairing is better. But in this drama, we see NJ liking Trash but are shown how CB is better for her than Trash, only to be told that oh, no, Trash is. The writers tried to solve the issue by making NJ/Trash's issue (as only revealed in episode 20) be that he couldn't stop being an Oppa and rely on her. But that wasn't an issue we was through the 30 hours we spent, it was just thrown out at the last minute so they could fix it with a text. Yes, a text! Because obviously the guy who takes a bus for hours to spend time with you is not as good of a match for you as the guy who is willing to send you a text to tell you he's got a cold. Event the proposal, however swoonworthy some people may have thought it was, if you listen, he basically says that he is worried they will break up because he's such a bad boyfriend so let's get married. Anyway, this has become an incoherant rant but it did let me vent a bit. I feel better. But in my head, episode 10 happens around episode 4. They break up shortly after and New Years's happens. At that point, she starts to view CB differently and eventually realizes that she loves him. Then NJ and Trash have a conversation at the cafe and talk about how they are still family. Everyone gets along and CB get's the girl! Doesn't that sound nice? I think so.

So I can't say I don't recommend this because it was good, but watch at your own risk. Seriously. Unless you want to end up like me, a incoherent mess because of some stupid television show.



I don't know what got into me this year but I was all about the resolutions and goal setting - even more so than usual. I won't share them all but here are a few of the more lighthearted ones:
  • Read 50 books. I think this is pretty reasonable but then again, I don't usually keep track of what I read so I might find myself in November dashing to the library a lot. And I want to challenge myself to keep going with some harder books so I have to balance quality with quantity but I'm hoping a concrete goal will help me decide to pick up a book and not the kindle when I've got a spare 5 minutes. Of course, this also means I have to keep track of them somehow. I might start using my goodreads account or maybe I'm just keep a running list somewhere. 
  • Keep a commonplace book. I've been wanting to start one for a while but just haven't gotten around to it.  But I've started and am already on page 2. Of course, all my quotes so far are from the Charlotte Mason book I'm reading so it's more like a Charlotte Mason quote book than a commonplace book but the year is young!
  • Exercise 2x a week. I did good getting regular exercise while pregnant but then Jonah was born and I never started up again. This week was the first time I did any set program since then (yes, he's 15 months old, I know!) and three days later and I can finally sit down or stand up without being in pain. This is sad. Also sad was the fact that I didn't even do the hard or moderate workout. Oh no, I was doing the easy one for the mom's who "just had a baby." My former black belt, avid pilates doing self would be heartbroken. The 2x a week is really just until the weather turns nice then I hope to get us out hiking again several times a week. I really prefer getting my exercise naturally by walking and hiking but that doesn't work December - March. 
  • Get chickens. I really really want them but every year we end up saying, next year. But not this year, this year it will happen!
  • Work on my cooking skills. I'm already a pretty good cook but I feel like I rely on recipes too much and would like to build some of my basic skills. My brother got me this spiffy Julia Child's Art of French Cooking set and I'll be working through the sections one or two at a time starting with soups and eggs. Why soups and eggs? Well, we eat eggs for breakfast at least 3-4 times a week and I'd actually have to say eggs are one my struggles so I'll get a lot of practice. And I want to switch up our lunch routine a bit, incorporate less grains and more broth and healthy fats which makes soup an ideal choice. 
Are you making resolutions this year? I feel like I've been seeing a lot of anti-resolutions posts lately so perhaps I'm alone in my super resolving this year.