Monday, April 26, 2010

Not Me! But Maybe YOU???

I am
not one bit relieved to have just done a giveaway for which I don't have to ship a thing! Because I'm really organized and prompt at shipping things out to people. Always. I mean, I did NOT just hand-deliver a CHRISTmas card to a friend the other day (because they moved and it was returned to us). I did NOT hang on to it for nearly four months!! That's absurd!

And I did not have a moment's fun reading all your comments. (By the way, obviously NOBODY likes waffles!!!) But. I actually DO have a winner. For REAL, Yo! Maybe it's you???!!!!

Or maybe it's .....

Yay!! Tamara B., I'm sure you do
NOT want the waffle maker like everyone else (only you DO, don't you?). Listen, I am not one bit jealous of you either, because the waffle maker and all the other prizes I was offering so weren't my thing--they weren't appealing to me in the slightest. (Yeah...and I also hate chocolate.)

Now, back to what else I haven't done. I am not STILL organizing outgrown and winter clothing to put away in the attic. And I have not let all these clothing piles sit around in the living room, hallway, playroom, and bedrooms for weeks on end. Y'all know me better than that. I always keep things neat and tidy.

And while I'm at it, I might as well tell you that this child........

.......has the most attentive parents in the world. Those are most certainly not choking hazards he holds in his sweet little hands. He's perfectly fine. Really. Parents of four children are oh, so experienced and would never let such a dangerous scenario take place. And definitely not WHILE we take photos of it!!

MckMama has more Not Me! Monday posts over at her place. Or does she??? Hmmm...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Project 365: Week 17

Sunday, April 18, 2010

I've been enjoying our azaleas lately. They look so good with the contrasting lemon-yellow shrubs (I can't remember what they're called) in our backyard bed. These poor azaleas have really been through it, too! I'll never forget a busy Paul and a pregnant me trying to save these things from strangling grasses and weeds and too much sun (said the landscaper guys we had out to give us an opinion). I think we moved like nine established azaleas and at a pretty risky time. But they've all done pretty well, despite our very NON-green thumbs.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Today there are no pictures. It's a bad day. Very bad. But a day on which my friends came through. I am so thankful for them. And I am blessed to be a child of God, Who already knows the plans He has for me. I have hope in His promises.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Today it's just me, Atticus, and Saylor. Paul's working out-of-town and Noah and Gabriel are staying with Mimi (my mom) during the day. They're all staying there at night. So tonight I promised Saylor we'd cuddle in the bed upstairs and watch a movie before bed. She was so cozy with her blanket and dolly she decided to just go ahead and sleep there for the night.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Our second day home alone. We spent part of it quietly doing some school work at the kitchen table. Honestly, I wish I had never put our school room upstairs. It makes it so hard to get anything accomplished, as the school-age kids still need a lot of help with their work, the babies need constant supervision, and I can never break away to make our lunch, etc. I'd much prefer to have a room off the kitchen or something.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today Paul and I stayed home from work (no Academy for me) just to reconnect and rest. The big kids went to Academy, leaving the babies home to play "Ring Around the Rosies" and such together. I tried my best to capture the game in a photographically-pleasing way, but they were just spinning too fast in too dark of a room. So, Gabe's shirt is still "moving" in the picture, but this was the only shot I had that showed both of their laughing faces. And I just wanted to always remember how silly they were.

After Academy and baby naps, we all set out for the dreaded "Evil of Evils": Wal-Mart. We needed some basic stuff and, frankly, none of us was up to facing it alone. But the kids certainly made the best of it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tonight we surprised the kids by taking them to the "World of the Pharaohs" Exhibit at the Arkansas Arts Center. It would have cost our family $58+ just to the see the exhibit on any given day. But tonight they were having "Family Night." Our whole family was able to go for just $15. AND they served refreshments, had live actors in period costume, and lots (too many, in fact!) of hands-on activities for the kids. Paul and I were a couple of nervous wrecks because it was so crowded, and's just hard keeping up with everybody, especially when some like to confidently run off to try this or that and others frequently need to use the bathroom. But. The kids enjoyed every moment. They thought the whole thing was just awesome! So. It was worth it, wouldn't you say? (Atticus didn't get photographed, since he was strapped to my hip in our sling. I'm sure I'll find a way to make up for that eventually.)

Gabriel pounded reeds for papyrus.

Saylor thoroughly enjoyed the archaeological dig. (She found the most treasures, by the way.)

Noah ground some grain into flour using a mortar and pestle.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Don't you just love it when you stay up late getting a uniform ready and making snacks for your child's soccer team, only for the game to be rained out?? What--that hasn't happened to you? At first it felt like a huge waste, but then I realized: more for us! These are Alton Brown's granola bars. We think they're YUM city! (This time I used Sucanat in place of the brown sugar. They taste great, but they don't stick together the way they do with brown sugar. I think I didn't take into account that Sucanat doesn't "pack" like brown sugar, so there's probably less sticky stuff than with the brown. Next time I'll add more Sucanat.) They are not, however, soaked. A friend recently sent me a soaked recipe for granola (not bars), but I was too chicken to attempt a new recipe and actually try it out on somebody else! So I stuck with the tried-and-true. (Shannon, I believe you were looking for a granola bar recipe...?) Maybe I'll try combining Alton's recipe with the soaked version and see what I can come up with. In the meantime, I guess we will somehow have to find a way to consume the soccer team's goodies. *sigh*

After the "rain out," Saylor and I had to go get her ballet recital pictures made. I would have liked to have gone to Beth Moore's simulcast, but I didn't have much confidence in Paul getting Saylor's hair up in a bun, etc. so I had to miss out.

She was gorgeous, as usual.

I can't imagine a prettier face in all the world.

That was my week.


And an emotional roller coaster.

Sara's got the whole list of project participants over at her place, so that's where I'm headed next. See ya!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A Lot to Swallow

Approximately six or seven years ago a friend recommended a book during her testimony at a church women's retreat. The title stuck with me for the longest time and finally about a year later I looked it up on Amazon. When I read that Dennis Rainey (FamilyLife), Bill Bright (Campus Crusade), and Larry Burkett (Christian Financial Concepts) had given positive remarks on the back cover of the book (this was the first edition--there are new people on the back now), well, I felt perfectly comfortable ordering the book. These were three men for whom I had a lot of respect, so I knew it wouldn't be full of weird or unbiblical information. I knew I could trust this author. And it turned out it was exactly what I needed to read! In fact, aside from my use of Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron during Noah's infancy and my learning so much about whole grains, cooking vegetables, and what extra foods are ultra-healthy to add to a baby's diet, this next book was the first book to fully impact my life and begin my own personal journey toward a more healthy lifestyle.

I HIGHLY recommend this book, by the way. HIGHLY. Oh. The book title. You might need that. Ha! What the Bible Says About Healthy Living by Dr. Rex Russell.

Now. Here's why I recommend it. Because at a time when it is SO confusing which foods are healthy, which foods are unhealthy, which foods are okay for us, which foods cause cancer/heart disease, which foods fight cancer/heart disease, etc. (and surely you'd agree that it is sometimes quite confusing...), this book clears things right up by simplifying your choices for you. The author uses biblical principles to reveal to you a standard one can actually LIVE by.

Does this book contain everything there is to know about the truths of food? Does it make your food choices a religious matter? (As in, your salvation depends on it?) NO WAY!!! Is it the end-all source of information? Of course not! But it's a great first step!! There have been many more steps along my journey, and there are many more to come, all of which I will certainly try to share with you. All in good time... I just thought I'd better take it slow. Just sort of ease you in to this wacky world that is my "foodie" lifestyle. (I guess I was hoping to sort of slide this in, appropriately "sandwiched" between pictures of my kiddos, so maybe you wouldn't notice the craziness this way. *grin*)

Anyway, we just have to be SOOOO careful these days. I mean, walk in Whole Foods and you'll immediately become overwhelmed if you don't know what you're doing. There's a lot of stuff in there! And it all seems so healthy. But you see? Just because it's in Whole Foods doesn't mean it's healthy!!! Just because it has the words "Natural" or "All-Natural" or "100% (whatever)" or "Organic" doesn't necessarily mean it's good for you. Be careful! Do your research. And read labels!

That's why this book is so great. It makes things pretty cut and dry, AND (here's the important part) it does NOT have a political/social/cultural agenda. It is solely based on what GOD instructed His people (the Israelites) to eat. The author has taken that list of foods and the converse list of unclean foods and then used scientific data, studies, and information to show why God instructed the people the way He did. Lo and behold!! He instructed them in those ways for specific reasons!!!! What?! God had reasons?? Why, yes He did! It was for their protection. Their health. For the sake of keeping their bodies (their temples) working the way He had created them to work. His dietary restrictions weren't part of some random list of rules God wanted to see if they would follow. Just to see if they really loved Him or not. (Hallelujah! That is not the kind of God we serve!)

The author suggests following three main principles in choosing what to eat and what to avoid:

1. Eat the foods God created for you.
2. Don't alter God's design.
3. Don't let any food or drink become your God.

It's a refreshingly simple plan. But...well, that knocks out a lot of what we find in the grocery store, does it not? Let's just take sweeteners, for instance. I'm sure you've seen the following ad on TV regarding the controversy about high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

This ad was put out by the Corn Refiner's Association. It is 100% self-serving, as I'm sure you'd expect it to be. They do NOT care about the nation's health. They care about their profit margins. They want you to relax and QUIT reading labels, or at least not worry about a "food" when you see HFCS listed as an ingredient.

Now's here's why you should read the labels and why you should stay away from anything with HFCS involved in its makeup. In short, HFCS is 1) made from genetically-modified corn (scary, scary stuff), 2) it starts out as corn but is then treated with several chemical processes in a lab to get it to become something entirely different, 3) it has been medically linked to heart disease, diabetes, liver problems, and obesity, 4) it blocks the body's use of leptin which is what helps tell the brain when the body is full (in other words, you never know you're full so you just want to keep eating more), and 5) there is absolutely nothing good for you in it.

What about other sweeteners, though? Saccharin (found in Sweet 'N Low and...lots of other random things like over-the-counter medications and recently I even saw it listed as an ingredient in a cheap kids' chapstick!) is carcinogenic--you probably already know to stay away from it. Splenda is sucralose, a substance derived from real sugar, then modified by adding chlorine (CHLORINE!!) atoms. Yeah, doesn't sound too safe to me. And yet Splenda and other alternative sweeteners are regularly used in so-called "health" foods and in dieting programs--namely, Weight Watchers.

So many things we are assured to be healthy are, in fact, the direct opposite of that. A lot, even, of what's in the store at Whole Foods! Like agave nectar, for instance, which is yet another alternative sweetener. Heard of it?? You may have noticed it among the "healthy" blog sites or on the shelves in the "health food" stores. Well, beware. It's no better (maybe even worse) than the high fructose corn syrup mentioned above!! Read this to see why you should stay away from agave nectar.

And then there's aspartame (a.k.a. Nutrasweet)--I'm sure you already KNEW this, but if you or your loved-ones drink diet drinks, MAKE THEM STOP. NOW. Here's a
must-see movie about aspartame. It's long. Like movie-length. So make plans right now to sit down one night after dinner, grab your husband, and y'all watch this movie together. Watch it. I command you!! (It's only 'cause I care.)

Long story short...when you start researching foods, where they come from, what is done to them before they get to the store shelves, and then what effects they can have on your body, you find out there's a lot going on behind closed doors that "they" don't want you to know about. Because then you might stop buying these foods, and "they" would lose money. And it's always all about the money!! And if you think this kind of corporate sneakiness, this avoidance of truth-telling, this getting around the FDA's regulations rarely happens, then you have obviously not seen Food, Inc. or King Corn. You need them. In fact, I insist.

Check for them at your local library or Blockbuster or at Netflix. Actually, you can catch Food, Inc. on PBS TONIGHT at 8:00 CST for free!! Whatever. But just make it a priority. We've got to get serious here and take back control of our own health. The lobbyists for the food industry cannot win if we, as consumers, fight back!

Admittedly, there are hard parts to this whole "real food" journey:

1. All those recipes we've grown up with will need to be revised or trashed.

2. We've got to find and try out other, more healthful recipes.

3. We've got to source real food. And that is not always easy, especially in smaller communities.

4. We've got to do a little at a time or else we'll be hugely overwhelmed.

5. Our friends and family will probably think we're weird. (Unless they already do...)

6. We'll have a harder time eating out.

7. Meal preparation will take some thought and time. Certainly a good deal longer than grabbing a box of this or a can of that, opening it, and following a few simple instructions.

Now. Since I just made a list, I'm feeling like another one is in order. (I admit I have a problem...)

Top Ten Myths Regarding Healthy Food

1. I'll be healthier if I don't eat meat or other animal products.

2. I'll be healthier if I focus on eating a LOW FAT diet.

3. I'll be healthier if I use margarine rather than butter.

4. I'll be healthier if I drink diet and/or caffeine-free sodas.

5. I'll be healthier if I eat mostly raw or uncooked foods.

6. Pasteurized dairy (or no dairy) is healthier/safer/better than raw dairy.

7. Fruit juices are healthy for me.

8. I can more healthfully enjoy sugar-free candies and sweets as an alternative to regular desserts.

9. Convenience foods can be healthy, too.

10. With the advancement of medicine and food production in our country, we have the healthiest food in the world.

How about another list??? Why not? Come can never have too many, right? (Hi. My name is Lori, and I am a Compulsive List-Maker. All together now: "Hi, Lori!")

Things to Start Doing

1. Read labels. On everything. If you can tell that the ingredients didn't come from nature, you shouldn't buy it. If "enriched flour" is listed, don't buy it. (What's wrong with our food that it needs to be "enriched" with something from a science lab??!! You know. Besides the fact, that during processing they strip out everything good for you and then have to add synthetic things back in.) If "high fructose corn syrup" (HFCS) is listed, put it back!! It's poison! If it contains any form of corn or soybean whatsoever, it is highly dangerous...because our nation's large food conglomerates have developed all sorts of ways to genetically modify our food (to make it pest-resistant and to make it grow bigger, faster) and that food in its current state is toxic to YOU!

2. Use real butter.

3. Do NOT (I repeat...Do NOT) use vegetable, canola, safflower, sunflower, etc. oils to cook with!!! In fact, don't use vegetable or canola oils for ANY reason!!

4. Use coconut oil for cooking.

5. Use olive oil for salads, etc. (not for high heat cooking!)

6. Buy (or make!!) only whole wheat bread (and make sure it doesn't contain HFCS).

7. Educate yourself on the Dirty Dozen and the Pretty Clean Thirteen.

8. Stop eating sugar. Just stop. White sugar is killing us ALL!!

9. Be CAREFUL about the milk/dairy you buy. You don't want antibiotics and hormones in the milk you give your kids. But you also don't want to cause all kinds of other issues by going the soy milk route! I highly recommend checking out the Weston A. Price Foundation website for information about what milk to buy and why.

Okay. I'm done with the lists. Whew! (Felt good, though.)

What about our children...??

Here's what I've noticed about kids' lunches at our homeschool academy. They contain nothing good for them. Nothing! The yogurt pouches?? Sugar, dyes and HFCS. The drink pouches? More sugar. The fruit cups?? The same. Lunchables??!? Oh, don't get me started. You just need to read this to know that these are quite possibly the LAST things you should be buying for your kids. (Mmmmm....yummy, huh?) Other kids bring potato chips (deep fried in vegetable oil) and crackers. And that's their whole lunch!!!!! Well, except for the candy bar or other such dessert! I sincerely wish I was making this up.

I've even taken informal polls in my class at Academy to see what the kids have had for breakfast and what all kinds of foods they like. Out of our eight students, only ONE claims to like eating broccoli or carrots. (I didn't even BOTHER to ask about squash or asparagus!) And that particular kid's mom is the one mom who sends organic foods, carrot sticks, cheese, etc. in his lunch. The rest of the kids made "yuck" noises in response to the various vegetables I mentioned. Even many of the fruits! Is it any wonder then that we have classrooms full of children with one diagnosable condition after another, behavior issues galore, and considerable lack of self-control/attentiveness?

It's not so much that I stand in judgment over the parents who send this junk. Let's face it! Our "trusty" food industry (with FDA's approval) has told us this food is good for us, and they've made it all quite accessible, convenient, and affordable (especially as compared to organic produce). Parents are just trying to feed their children and are doing the best they know how to do. But thanks to many factors that have taken place beneath the table, now I worry about our society as a whole if this is the way we are feeding our still-developing next generation.

Look. I know we are busy people. I know it's hard to find the time to do all the cooking those "convenience" foods take the place of. BUT. We are harming ourselves and our children when we succumb to the pressures of society. What's that? You say your child really LIKES those Lunchables? Even goes so far as to BEG for them?? what? Say no. Say you love him too much to poison him. If you must, don't take your child shopping anymore. Do whatever you need to do, but turn from the evil yellow box with the pretend food inside and give your child an organic apple and some pieces of raw cheese instead. Feed him a piece of whole wheat bread spread with real, sea-salted (mineral-rich) butter. Give him a hard-boiled pastured egg. How about some asparagus or broccoli or carrots or Brussels sprouts or kale?

I know this may be a lot to swallow, so to speak, but God gave us amazing bodies to care for, to nourish with foods from His creation. And when we don't, we are not being good stewards of those bodies. We can't live forever on this earth. Nor would we want to! And we DO live in a fallen world where people get sick, get terminal diseases, have painful conditions, and die. But we can at least do ourselves a favor and treat our bodies like the gifts that they are. (And y'all, I'm preaching to myself right now, as I still have so far to go on this journey and often throw my hands up from exhaustion and do the easy thing. AND besides that, I should totally get more sleep than I do!! Talk about not being a good steward...) Anyway, I'm all done. Really, I promise. Well......I mean......for now. (Don't forget to watch tonight on PBS!!)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Project 365: Week 16

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Happy Birthday to my First Born!

Yes. (hanging head in shame) That is winter wrapping paper. What can I say? I did my best.

Don't you just love it when Auto Focus decides to choose the olive oil in the foreground instead of "the moment" you are trying to capture? *sigh*

"Oooooooh!!" (A reaction to Noah's cool gift. This really happened.)

Monday, April 12, 2010

All day and late into the night I did THIS:

(This is the latest we've ever been getting them done. Groan...)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Today was all about Noah and a magnifying glass. He spent HOURS (not an exaggeration) exploring the effects of concentrated heat through the lens. He smoldered bits of paper, dead leaves, and bugs (yeah, he's not exactly a soft-hearted kid). But then he and I had a little scare...when three (count 'em, THREE) firetrucks came flying down our little street for the first time in two and a half years of living here!!! Thankfully, they had been called to a house at the end of our street (still don't know what happened there) and had not--as Noah was worried--seen. his. smoke. *grin*

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ballet Rehearsal. Saylor is the daydreamer of the group.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

My little Atticus and I were all alone for dinner, since the others went to watch Noah's soccer practice. We had the best time giggling over pasta.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Our precious friend Miriam has been coming on Fridays to lend a hand. (I am so appreciative.) Today after she read a large number of books to the kids while I vacuumed and folded some clothes, we decided to walk down to the playground together--something I don't feel comfortable doing by myself (too many little ones, too close to the road). Of course, since it was the hottest day we've had all spring, we burned up!! But it was fun for the kids. She's always been so special to Saylor, but now Gabriel has decided she's HIS special friend, too. He calls her "Meemo."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

After today's soccer game, Daddy had to go in to work for a while, so the kids and I went to the zoo for an hour or so. Because we have a zoo membership (thanks, Aunt Erin and Uncle Benjamin), there is no financial pressure to see everything each time!

Sara is the host of our little picture-a-day "project." You can check out all the other entries there. It's a great group!
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