Friday, May 29, 2009

Do I get to stop being busy yet?

Today I went and picked up some milk, cream, butter, cream cheese, grassfed beef...that sort of thing from the farmer I buy them from.

Then we stopped by the Home School Book Swap, where Ariana hurt herself on the big blow up bouncy thing. Moon Walk, I think it was called, and where I spent far too much grocery money in order to save loads of money on our home school supplies for next year.

Then it was rushing home for a quick lunch and a change and out the door to sing in the choir at a funeral. And that took LOTS longer than I'd planned...this time we went out to the cemetery, then back to the parish hall for a luncheon, which of course I didn't feel like skimping on (the social stuff, not the food).

Fortunately, our chiropractor was able to fit Ariana in late this afternoon, so that now her back feels much much better. She'd torqued it wrong and I think has finally become a believer in chiorpractic care as a result of today's mishap and the fact that she's feeling much better now.

I've got some lima beans cooling in the crock pot, and some artisan bread dough rising on the stove. I think I'll make it into a crusy loaf this time, and do the beans with some onions for supper.

I think it would be good for me to get off the computer and form the loaves, and then hide out in my bedroom with my Bible and prayer book for awhile. I have not done enough of that sort of thing this week.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Phases

It seems like so many of the "mom" type blogs or websites are dedicated to the diaper set. There's something really special about those early years of parenting and I do look back with fondness on the times when chubby little arms and legs surrounded me and filled my lap.

I loved nursing my babies and toddlers, I loved co-sleeping, babywearing...finding ways to keep them quiet and appropriately occupied in Church. I loved having a toddler in the shopping cart with me while I was running errands, so that I would have someone to talk to and be silly with. And I absolutely loved taking little kids to the park to play. I loved the fellowship of hanging out with other moms who had young kids, too. Those were good times.

But now my kids are older, and this is also a sweet time. My youngest, my baby mind you!, is busy making a huge batch of waffles that will go in the freezer for toaster waffles. She's doing the waffles! (Motherly arm-waving "yays"!) It's a simple and boring job that requires attention to the kitchen timer, care not to burn oneself, and careful measuring of the waffle batter. And constant getting up off my chair. I'm very happy she's doing the getting up off the chair part, since I sort of over did it yesterday.

My fifteen year old is regularly very very helpful in the kitchen, too. And they help with the laundry. My other teen is a writer who works diligently on her stories, and who also has an amazing talent for bed-making, room tidying and vacuuming.

So all those diaper years, followed by the lego years...my almost eleven-year old is busy inventing his own game: Making game cards, drawing the board, etc. Good times!

These years are good, too. One can't blog about a teenager the way one blogs about the antics of a wee toddler, though, that's for sure. Someone might read it! But the phases are good.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

One thing leads to another...

I baked bread...two loaves of whole wheat molasses bread, and also got some sour dough rye started for next week. Starting the starter takes seven days.

Ariana wanted some berries with her toaster waffle, so I put some on the stove to simmer, and accidentally added too much water. So I added more berries, some agave nectar, and let that cook, and then ran it through the blender with some gelatin for some homemade fridge jam. That was unplanned. But nice.

Then I decided I wanted to try my hand at lactofermentation, and make some sauerkraut of sorts. But to do that, I needed whey. I thought about making yogurt, but opted for some farmer's cheese instead, because I was also curious about that process. Four cups of milk yielded a small amount-several ounces- of farmer's cheese which tastes like Mozzarella. I gussied it up with some homegrown basil, salt and pepper. Yum.

Then I took half a cup of that whey and added it to the chopped cabbage, onion and carrot mixture, beat it with a mallet for ten minutes (in a bowl) and then put it in some clean Mason jars. Mason jars full of homemade goodies make me happy. There it will sit and ferment for three days. Raw fermented food goodness, I hope.

Then I took the rest of the whey and used it to make waffle batter for tomorrow's breakfast.

Now I'm tired, and I still need to make dinner.

I've been reading Nourishing Traditions, in case you didn't know.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicken Truck

No my video, but it could have been. This is what we saw, only up close and in greater detail.

Thinking about Chickens

So, we are driving down the road. On our way home from a holiday at the parents' house in western Missouri. Lovely countryside, those Ozarks!

Ok, so we are tooling along I-44, and we pass two semi trucks. They are both hauling chickens. Imagine this: A semi truck, stacked as high as it can be, with crates of chickens. Each chicken crate is about an inch bigger than each chicken. Wire. One could see right in.

These were freak of nature genetically bred oversized birds, too. OK, You know the size of a chicken breast at a restaurant? Think how big that is. Now, think about the last time you were on a farm and saw a real live chicken. Those are NOT the chickens that will yield the big chicken breast that's on your plate. No, in order to get one like that you need genetic mutation chickens. Like the ones in the truck.

These chickens were sick. Patches of featherless skin. Ripped and raw red, pink. White feathers flying at our windshield in the wind. Were the ones on the outside edge going 65 mph the lucky ones, or the ones stacked in the middle, in the dark, with barely enough air to survive the trip to the slaughter house? For that is surely where these poor animals were going. I couldn't decide which birds had it worse. But the all looked so bad.

And I cried, and the kids cried. Yes, I know. There is human suffering in the world, and we all need to be aware of it and do what we can to alleviate it in all its various forms. But part of being human is also treating the animals that are in our care in a humane way.

And after I cried, I thought: Eeeeeeeew! I eat that????? Imagine the stress those birds are under. Does stress leak into their flesh? Does sickness leak into their flesh? Does eating stress and illness cause stress and illness? Can this sort of thing really be good for US?

I've already been working hard on changing my shopping habits. Simpler, more from scratch. As much local and organic as I can manage within my budget. Fresh eggs, that sort of thing.

It will mean less chicken, but suddenly locally farmed free range chickens that have been treated well is very important to me.

There is so much broken with this world, and I can't fix it. But I've got a house full of sick kids here, and the least I can do is ask myself if feeding sick animals to sick kids is going to get us any healthier.

I think I know the answer to that one.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Busy, busy!

So this week has been so crazy, and it's all boring mundane stuff that is barely worth blogging about. But here goes: On Monday I had two kids to get their camp physicals, and someone to go to her last speech therapy evaluation. So lots of running around. And I made bread, and did other house holdy things.

Our dryer kicked the bucket...again. We've replace the heating coil on that thing so many times and we know it's expensive. We decided not to this time. Instead, we've figured out how to air dry our laundry inside our apartment and look forward to significant energy savings on that front. So we are being eco friendly and thrifty all at the same time. Perhaps the new laundry rhythm will enable/force me to stay on top of things better.

Yesterday was errand craziness. More camp physicals and then I took the two kids with broken glasses and myself to the eyedoc for what we needed there. B and myself both ended up with new perscriptions and M go a perscription from a few months back filled finally. Five new pairs of glasses (I got new reading glasses and the eye doc place was having a two for $99 deal for the kids) acquired and my first pair of bifocals on order! Egads. I'm a little on the younger side for that, but then again, that's what my eyes are doing.

All that running around took all day. Somehow I managed to make it to vespers as well, and have a meal on the table at dinner time as well.

Today, it's packing for our trip to visit my folks. I taught the kids how to make homemade granola, and if everyone didn't agree on an ingredient, it did not get put in, so there's high hopes it will actually get eaten.

Fun stuff in the mail: Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. yay! Lots of good reading to be done with my new reading glasses.

And knitting! I am working on a sweater now, with lace and prettiness and buttonholes, etc. because I did some alterations to a friend's Mother of the Bride dress and she paid me, so I had a bit of spending money! I love challenging my skill level and getting better at things.

Ok, that's me so far this week. No big insights into life, the universe, or anything, but it's probably better that way!

My granola smells awesome, so I think I'll go eat some now.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicken Salad

Here is a very wholesome and nourishing chicken salad that contains lots of good fruits and veggies, plenty of protein and some healthy fats:

First, make some mayo: Two eggs, a goodly splash of lemon juice, a squirt of brown mustard and salt and pepper in the blender. Turn it on. Then veeeeeeery slowly drizzle in 2 cups of olive oil while the blender is still on. Taste. Add a bit of stevia if needed.

Stick the mayo in the fridge (glass bowl is best).

chop and add to a big bowl:

4 free range farm fresh boiled eggs
leftover chicken meat I had about 2 cups, perhaps a bit more
6-8 small red radishes
2 large green onions
2 stalks of celery
2 red apples

then rummage around in the fridge to see if there are any leftover baked potatoes. Those can be chopped and added. Tonight there were no potatoes, but there was some cooked brown rice! Throw that in as well (no more than a cup of the rice total.

Stir all of this and add a couple of dollops of that homemade mayo. Stir, and salt/pepper to taste.

Serve with multi grain crackers or homemade bread.

It's a great way to use up some leftovers, some random veggies that might be lurking in the bottom of the fridge and it's cool and refreshing on a hot spring evening.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I'm Trying to Raise some Christians Here!

Yesterday, I was so proud of my son.

You see, there was a group of kids on the play ground, including a new kid that E wanted to get to know and hopefully become friends with. (E is nothing if not persistent in his thus-far failed attempts at making friends.) But unfortunately, the new kid was hangin' with some not-new kids who wanted nothing to do with my son, for whatever reason.

And one of the girls decided to tell a THREE year old, to start beating on E. Hard. This little guy is a nasty little bruiser, and so he readily started beating on my son, who is ten.

Immediatelly the girls started making fun of E for getting beat up by a three year old. E knew there was no way he could hit back or defend himself. It would just be so wrong for a ten year old to strike a three year old. No matter what.

So E did the right thing and did not defend himself, and walked away.

I couldn't be more proud. I just hope that E can figure out that those particular kids are not worth hanging around.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Some level of Hell

It's been a mere five or six weeks since the doctor bumped B's meds up and she was doing great, awesome and wonderful.

And now the "new" has worn off of this dose, and she's back to miserable, unfocused, scared and schizzy with strange thoughts and an inability to cope or do math.

This has happened every. single. time.

Makes me want to weep.

Hope, and then dashed hope. Prayers for stability and the right dose for longer than a month seem to go unanswered so far.

God's will be done. This is hard.

And according to an article on adrenal fatigue that seems to have been written all about me, I'm supposed to cut down on the stress in my life???????

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Rabbit

I found some rabbit meat for sale at the farmer's market this Saturday.

So I bought some. I was pretty excited, as I still remember a really good rabbit dish that a french friend of ours used to make way back several decades ago on another continent, in another life...

So I thawed the rabbit. Put it in the crockpot and 1 cup dry white wine, chopped up mushrooms and onions, and cooked it on high for the time we were at Church...aprox 4 hours.

The meat was tender and falling off the bone when we got home and the house smelled REALLY good.

I removed the meat and transferred the sauce to a skillet, whisked in some flour and some sour cream, salt and pepper, and back over the meat.

Served of course over egg noodles and some fresh local spinach on the side.

It was a good Mother's day dinner. And to make up for the fact that I cooked lunch, Wes took us to Pizza Hut for supper. Yeah, I know. Pizza Hut is plebian, but our family likes it.

Rabbit in white wine sauce = Yum!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Christians and Hijab...some thoughts

Anyone who knows me knows that I have a fascination with head covering. I've done it, I've not done it. I go back and forth. It's this thing for me. My current practice is to wear a mantilla during Church and for formal prayers at home. I've done doilies, I've done scarves, I've done hats, I've done full time, part time, none at all...the whole gamut.

But one place where I draw the line: looking like something I"m not. And because of that need, to fit into my own particular genre of Christianity, I've shied away from wearing Mennonite bonnets, doilies (since becoming Orthodox) or Hijab. I also don't want to look like a monastic wannabe. That was a thought that struck me really strongly when I visited the monastery at the beginning of lent: I am not a nun, nor a wannabe, and there's always been a strong dividing line, in Orhtodoxy, between the monastics and regular laity, in the sense that we are still in the world, and they are not. Our journey is different. And as a person "in the world, but not of it" I still have to navigate issues like what to wear, or how to present myself...I don't get the "free ticket" of "death to the world" and a monastic uniform that the monastics have. My journey is different. Especially as a woman who is also someone's wife.

It's perfectly possible to find a whole slew of Early Church Fathers, commenting on the first half of 1 Corinthians 11 where one could make a good argument for wearing what constitutes full hijab (which I know people were wearing long before even Christianity came on the scene). But they were the bishops of their people, in that culture. And while their words and their teachings can certainly inform us, and should, we also can't take what was written so long ago and say "this is binding on me" if the current Bishops of the Orthodox Church (by "we" I mean if course, Orthodox Christian women) have not made this rule. Christian modesty rules are pretty clear, and to go above and beyond calling it a religious thing, when really it's just my personal preference, smacks of pride in my heart. Because part of being Orthodox is listening to our bishop and not just making my own personal, private religious pronouncements. Lest we set ourselves up as the judge and jury, and lest we also make a mountain out of a molehill on an issue that is potentially "small fry". (Scripture is scriptures and the traditional interpretation of it, in the context of worship is also abundantly clear, however, which is why I cover in Church. It's a fine line to walk, I guess.)

But is it really a "small fry" issue? Having a heart of purity and spirituality that is controlled by the Spirit of God and not the ways of this world is definitely not a "small" issue. And that is what it boils down to. And what is in one's heart must certainly (and will) make itself known in the choices a woman (or a man) makes in all areas of life, including dress and deportment. Including a head covering.

And then there's the issue of identity. I sort of did a big experiment this past year, and wore a scarf on my head full time. It was hard. I struggled. I loved it and hated it all at the same time. Ultimately, living with the inner conflict was something I decided I couldn't do. I never really felt good about it, or peaceful one way or another. Because of that, I think it's safe to say this might be something I revisit again and again over the years, as the future unfolds. But I doubt I'll ever be 100% sold out on full time head covering the way some are. (I wish I weren't so complicated.)

But while wearing a head covering this past year, I also moved into a new community. I changed jurisdictions and started attending an Orthodox Church that traces it's identity back to the that street in Damascus called Straight, where St. Paul was taken after he was struck blind. Yes indeed. The leader of the Antiochian Orthodox Church in Damascus still resides on that same street. Now there's some history for ya!

And this has given me pause. I'm part of a community, and I need to listen to what my sisters and my brothers in that community have done and said over the centuries. While it may be true that Christian women have been wearing hijab type veiling for a lot longer than Islam has ever been around (as in "we did it first") there's also never been a consensus that this middle eastern style of covering is mandated by Scripture for Christians. The apostles weren't specific on it. In fact it is my understanding that historically, Christian women in the middle east, living in an Islamic context, have typically expressed their Christian identity by NOT wearing a scarf outside of Church, it seems. Sort of an "us" and "them" thing. I could be wrong. This could be a 20th century development like so much else pertaining to this topic. I just don't know.

So part of embracing humility and learning to be a part of my new community has been taking a step back from wearing a full time head covering, to start to learn to listen, with an open heart, to the traditions (small t) of the community of which I'm a part.

Because if nothing else, I've learned over the years that the Orthodox Christian journey is never done alone, but always in the context of the Eucharistic community of the Church.

Now, the other day I was at Walmart with my husband. He was wearing a collared shirt and slacks, as usual, and I had thrown a skirt over my leggings and t-shirt that I'd worked out in, and my hair was up in a little bun. A pentecostal man stopped us and asked us which church we went to. Clearly he thought we were pentecostal, based on our dress. He must not have notices the crucifix. Just goes to show, you can't always not look like some other religion...but one can try.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

My Head is Spinning

It seems that my kids are going to go to Antiochian Village Camp in about FIVE weeks, for a two week camp experience, thanks to some scholarships through our parish. I'm bowled over, humbled and so very grateful.

That means I have a long list of things to get ready for them, to be away for two weeks, each will need some additions to their wardrobes (one of the advantages/drawbacks of home schooling is, it requires less of a wardrobe, potentially, and I don't think my kids have enough pants, for instance, to go for a week without laundry), two the girls will need swimsuits, and I'll have to put lables in everyone's clothes and make sure they have rain gear, too.

And do we even OWN that many (four) suitcases?

Well, we will soon enough.

But just think:

For the first time in FIFTEEN years I will have two weeks to myself.

TWO WEEKS!!!!!

What will I EVER do with myself?

Prayers appreciated, especially for my son, E, who is Aspieish and not much of a people person, that he would do OK at camp. (His mama needs him to do OK and have this growing up experience, alrighty?) And for B. She's on a special diet which really helps her brain issues (the SCD diet), and I've not heard back from the camp yet, as to whether she'll be able to stay on it for the duration of camp. I'm willing to freeze meals for her and send them, provided she can get some freezer space and access to a microwave oven.

I"m just praying that it will all work out.

Yesterday in my car, while I was alone and driving somewhere, I found myself singing the old chorus:

"Ah, Lord God, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by thy great power...
...nothing is too difficult for Thee. Nothing, NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, nothing is too difficult for Thee."

So that's where I"m at with all of this. God's will be done, and I think it will work out, because a few weeks days ago I had even given up on idea of the kids going to Church camp at all.

Sometimes, living within one's means takes courage and sacrifice. And sometimes God is merciful and provides abundantly. It helps to pray.

I'm learning to pray about everything. All the little things, to lay them at the Lord's feet. Sometimes I think that living prayerfully like this is seeking first the Kingdom of God. He knows our needs. And often it seems like he cares about our wants, too.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Finally, a good blouse pattern!

I've had a yen for the perfect blouse pattern (for sewing) for a long time. I'm sick and tired of t-shirts. For one thing, I'm fat fuller figured, and t-shirts are just an extra layer of sloppy, if you know what I mean.

So, I highly recommend, for all you seamstresses out there, the Romantic Blouse pattern .



The problem was, this pattern goes up to a size smaller (XL) than the size I needed (2X). The cut is generous, however, and with a few small changes, the blouse fits me perfectly.

I did not have to change any cutting lines to make it bigger. Instead, I modified the sewing a wee bit, by making smaller darts in the bodice instead of the big pleats the pattern calls for. I also added pleats at the sleeve cuff so that the sleeve would not sick out so much. And while I left all the seam allowances alone that had to do with the sleeves, collar, etc, I definitely sewed a narrower seam allowance on the side seams. This pattern allows for 5/8 inch seam allowances, and my technique is to do a 1/4 inch seam allowance and then zig zag the edges together (still wishing for that serger someday!) which results in an extremely durable garment.

Oh, and I did the buttonholes by hand. I know, my machine is supposed to do them for me, but I. just. can't. make. it. work. And besides, a wee bit of hand sewing at the end of a project is always welcome, in my opinion.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Farmer's Market

I was pretty thrilled to finally go to a little Farmer's Market here in Louisville yesterday morning. It was positively microscopic compared with the vast enterprise that is Farmer's Market in Lex, but nonetheless, it was wonderful. I doubt that I could have as easily found as much as I bought yesterday, had I been at a bigger (and more confusing) market.

In the parking lot of a Presbyterian church down on Bardstown road, it was a small gathering of booths and trucks and tables. Some muscicians graced us with a bit of fiddle and guitar music, and the chill air was held at bay over in the Heine Brother's Coffee booth, where folks could buy a cup of coffee to sip while they shopped.

I bought:

Fresh Greens
Local Honey (2 pounds!)
Two dozen local eggs
5 pounds of local, grass fed beef at an incredible four dollars per pound!
Big vat o' lard (non hydrogenated!)
Radishes! (the greens are edible, too, you know).
Green onions
A basil plant to grow in our container garden
Cilantro, also for our container garden.
Locally made raw cheeses (I bought two different types).

Next week I'll go have plan on having breakfast there: Giant cinnamon roll and a coffee. And I might see if I can buy a tomato seedling as well.

It was nice, it was charming. It was what food shopping should be. My locovore friends would be so proud of me.

And after that, I went to Walmart. Ha!