Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Vacation

I have intentionally been scarce around here the past couple weeks. This December is a whole story in itself for another time, but I wanted to share this Christmas Picture of our cutie pie :)

I took this picture of Susannah Sunday afternoon (the day after Christmas). I specifically dressed her in a white shirt and red jumper because I remember similar pictures of my older sisters and wanted to do the same with Susannah. I think my Mom made the jumpers for my sisters - something I thought about doing and wanted to do for Susannah but it was impossible this year.

It has been a while since I've had Susannah at the piano, and when I sat her on the bench Sunday, all she wanted to do was turn around and play it instead of holding still for a picture :) Since then I have pulled her highchair up to the piano and let her have fun for a while - she loves it!

Another good reason to be scarce is pictured below :)

Yep, we were at the beach. With snow. With more snow than we got here at home!

We still have a lot going on (when do we ever not?) until life will hopefully settle back down to some sort of normalcy, so have a wonderful rest of the year!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Out and Up!!

Yesterday morning a bunch of guys showed up and the work began!! Things were supposed to start Thursday but it snowed all day. Yesterday (Friday) they got the 1st floor framed/laid and the sub floor down, and the outside corner posts in place.

This morning as soon as they got here they started framing walls.

Right before lunch (1:30pm) they had the second floor joists (TGI's) in place.

After lunch I ran an errand and then fried the donuts that I'd been waiting all day for. I'd made the dough very early this morning to have donuts ready for when the guys got here, but the dough did not do right and took f-o-r-e-v-e-r to rise ev-er-y time. They turned out great, though! Maybe not as light as they could've been, but tastes definitely over-rode any toughness.
Here's Daniel and his dad enjoying hot donuts :)

This evening most of the 2nd floor sub-floor is down, they may or may not finish that. Our choir Christmas party is this evening (started 11 minutes ago) and the 2nd in command guy here is also in the choir and wants to go. I think we'll go, too. They just put temporary stairs in place!

This is so very exciting. Shawn (2nd in command guy) and his 2 guys will be here next week, and Daniel has off Monday and another friend will be here Monday as well. They should get it all framed and under tar-paper, maybe as far as windows and siding, if everything goes well and quickly.

I have been crazy busy with making full spread lunches for the guys. The kitchen is always a heap of dirty dishes piled everywhere when they come in, but today I told Daniel that a good meal means dirty dishes :)

Well, I've gotta go feed Susannah supper. She's been doing pretty well. She napped great yesterday with them working right outside her bedroom! Today she hasn't napped as well, but she's still doing good.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Remember to Celebrate Christ's Birth

Through no one's fault but my own, I have had a pretty crummy December/Christmas season so far. Nothing Christmas-related is going the way I want it to. After whining (and yes, some crying) to Daniel Saturday about how I'm "not having a very nice December, which is my favorite time of the year," I began to slowly see how it all boils down to the attitude of my heart.

I can mope and feel bad that things are the way they are, or I can chin up and make the best of it! I admit, it is hard to keep a positive attitude about what feels like chaos when Daniel has been working so much the past several weeks and it feels like it's just me and Susannah all day, almost every day.

But over this past weekend, something Someone has reminded me that Christmas is not about a clean house, or Daniel being home, or Susannah not being sick, or ME not being sick, or having a Christmas tree, or baking yummy goodies, or getting all the shopping done early. Even though those things are very nice, and I certainly do like them (especially Daniel being home!!), they're not what makes December special.

CHRIST makes December special. If I remember to keep Him at the center, then I will also remember to find joy in the situations I'm in.

If I thought December has been crazy so far, heh-heh! I'd better tighten my seatbelt and get ready for some loop-de-loops. Between now and Christmas, there is a maximum of 6 days - including Sunday - that I have "nothing" going on. 6 days to get "everything" done that needs done before Christmas. Hmmm. It sounds like a recipe for the perfect storm. But. The Lord knows exactly what is going to happen, and I have decided to sit back and let Him direct. Doesn't mean I'm going to sit back and do nothing, no. I'm going to mentally sit back, relax, and ENJOY December from here on out while I - joyfully focused on celebrating His birth - work on all the tasks at hand.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Nourishing Foods - The Beginning of The Journey Part 2

Part 1

My food radar was suddenly more alert than it had ever been. I wanted to know all the "whys." Why is brown rice better for you? Why shouldn't you eat HFCS? Why should or shouldn't you eat butter, or margarine, or whole milk or skim milk? And I wanted to know what the most nourishing and nutritious foods are, what are REAL healthy foods? Not just what is labeled "Low Fat," "No Trans Fats" or "Natural". I want to provide not only Susannah, but our whole family, the best, healthiest, nourishing foods I can. I didn't know where to start and I wanted tried and true information from someone I know and trust.

I fired off a message to a friend who immediately replied. She gave me the solution to my yogurt dilemma. Now Susannah gets Organic Whole Milk Plain Yogurt. The ingredients are plain and sensible: Cultured Pasteurized Organic Whole Milk, Pectin, Vitamin D3, Six Live Active Cultures. (I very well may make my own someday.)

She also suggested two book to me and was kind enough to loan them BOTH to me! One is Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon:

and the other is Super Baby Food by Ruth Yaron.

They are both blow you away full of amazing information. Stuff that I never knew before. Stuff that the everyday John Q. Public probably has no idea about. These books have changed a lot of the way I think about food.

A lot of the food and ingredients I was buying and making were pretty empty of it's natural nutrition. Our bodies don't process or absorb manufactured nutrients very well, so why do I want to eat something that my body can't get any good from?

**I will say right here and now that I do believe moderation is key. There are some things I am going to change, and a few things I will leave the same.**

Some of the areas that I have changed already would be:

Flour. Instead of using your "usual" white flour that is quite a bit more than just flour (read the ingredients list), I am using All Natural White Wheat Flour. It is flour, plain and simple. Yes, the flavor is different, but it is not as harsh as red wheat flour, and we like it quite well. I hope to buy a grain mill early next year and start grinding my own flour for all or almost all our baking. With grains, as soon as the shell of the grain is cracked it starts losing it's nutrients. So flour that has been sitting on the store shelf for weeks (and who knows how long it sat somewhere else before it reached the store) has had lots of opportunity to lose all it's healthy, nourishing goodness.

Meat. For Daniel's lunch sandwiches he now gets sliced roast beef from a roast that I season and roast myself. It tastes much better and is much better for you that the salty, artificial flavorings added, processed lunch meat. Surprisingly, the price is comparable! Eventually, someday, when we have our dream home on many, many acres, we'd like to raise our own beef. In the meantime, we are checking into buying part of a grass fed steer from a local source.

Eggs. Since I am feeding Susannah egg yolks (hard boiled) for her protein source sometimes, the yolks need to be protein rich. Coincidentally, about the same time we started making these changes, some people just a few miles down the road from us started selling eggs! They are considerably better than store bought eggs for just a little more money. The yolks are a deeper yellow and the egg white is thicker :)

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables. Salads made with Romaine Lettuce and Spinach are a regular part of our diet now. I happily buy Kiwi (high in Vit. C), Avocados, and other fruits to enjoy.

I make trail mix (or "bird feed") for Daniel with Sunflower Seeds, Sliced Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Raisins and M&M's (yeah, the M&M's are the unhealthy part :P ). Nut and seed laden homemade granola is a staple on our shelf - for breakfasts and snacks. Peanut Butter that is just peanuts; Coconut Oil instead of vegetable/canola/etc. oil; Brown Rice instead of white rice; Hormone free milk; White Cheese instead of orange cheese (artificial coloring); and other little things here are there are among the ways the contents of our refrigerator and pantry are changing.

I don't plan to go off the deep end, but I do plan to keep instituting changes as I go to provide the best I can for our taste-buds, tummies and health. This week proves that eating healthy and nourishing will not keep all troubles away; Susannah has a double ear infection and I have been battling cold-like stuff for a while now. Hopefully as we put better quality stuff into our bellies for our bodies to live and thrive on, our immune systems will grow stronger and we won't get sick as often or as badly.

I know some of you are probably wondering about the budget side of this. But you'll have to wait until next time :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Today's Motivation

Is going to come from somewhere that I drum up in my imagination and determination. I'm not sure how the day is going to have gone when tonight rolls around and I crawl in bed, but for the moment I feel the strong urge to grab the bull by the horns.

Between being gone and just not feeling so grand alot of the time (more never-ending cold stuff), the house needs some serious work. So here, now, today I am going to shove all else aside and hopefully get caught up. To add to the motivation, here's what I would love to get done: (and it may all happen either in my bathrobe or some comfy, I-hope-nobody-comes-to-the-door clothes)

Clean up all the dishes - almost done. Dishes take for some reason!
6 loads of laundry washed, dried and put away - 3 loads washed, need to finish drying them.
Puree peaches
Puree roast beef
Cook and puree chicken
Start freezing said pureed baby food
Finish the sort and switch Susannah's clothes project
Make Banana Muffins/Bread
Make some type of headway in the Christmas shopping department

It doesn't look like a long list, but I think it will fill up my day. I hope to stop back by and update as I get stuff done. Thanks for joining me - leave me some comment luv to cheer me on!

Wait - first on my list is to find my Advil C&S. It's somewhere. Just not where it belongs.

Update #1: Ha! Who was I kidding?! I crawled in bed and took a nice half hour nap. I don't FEEL any better but at least I'm not as tired. Ok, NOW to find the Advil...

Update #2:
Well, it is slow going over here. I still haven't found the Advil but I am feeling better than I did this morning. Not close to normal yet but I don't feel like something the cat drug in. Lunch was very late. 2 loads of laundry are washed and need dried, and I'm still working on the dishes. Alot of time consuming hand-washables. I have spent some time online - found a good sale on Coconut Oil that I think I'm going to take advantage of. I need to get the food processor washed so I can get the roast beef ground up for Susannah's supper. And move the laundry around and start another load.

Update #3: I think I am coming down the home stretch. With the dishes. Good grief. There is a good reason to stay on top of them every day. Alot of this list is going to go "poof" into thin air, at least for today. But Daniel will have clean clothes, and the kitchen will be in much better shape. Sally cautioned me to not stay up late trying to get the list done. I'm not, I'm going to work on stuff for another hour and call it quits.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nourishing Foods - The Beginning of The Journey

One of the things on my list of Goals for 2010 was to "Find or create the happy medium for eating healthier without going over budget." Yes, for a while I made sure we had salad ingredients on hand, and actually did pretty good about fixing a salad to go with or eat before the main part of the meal sometimes. And then our world was changed forever :) For several months, as long as there was some kind of something to eat when we were hungry, I didn't really pay much attention to - or care! - what it was.

Then came the time to start Susannah on solid food. Baby cereal. Then pureed fruits. Then pureed vegetables. (The fruits and vegetables I cooked and pureed myself with stuff that I had either canned or frozen.) And then she needed more than that - she needed protein. I thought yogurt would be a good protein to start with, plus it's healthy for you. And she was old enough to eat yogurt. I wasn't sure what I wanted for Susannah in yogurt, but I wanted it to be good for her; nutritious. In the yogurt section of my favorite grocery store, for as far as I could see everything was "Fat Free," "Reduced Fat," "1/2 the Calories," ... and I KNEW one thing for sure - Susannah did not need diet food. She needed full fat, full calorie yogurt. I looked through all the labels and found the one that had the most calories and fat in it even though it still touted some healthy/diet-type line on the front.

We came home and the next day I fed her some. She liked it. The next day I fed her the rest of the little container. Day #3 I went to open container #2 and on a whim glanced through the ingredients. This is what I saw:

Susannah did not get any yogurt that day. I wasn't sure what purpose those ingredients served, but I did know that it was not JUST yogurt with a little sweetener or vanilla flavoring. Aside from the fact that it was made with not-full-fat milk, THE SECOND INGREDIENT was SUGAR!!! Aside from pureed fruit, she gets very little in the line of sugary foods. She gets a bite of cake, cookie, or even sharing an ice cream cone on occasion, but my thinking is that her little body doesn't need loaded full of sugar or High Fructose Corn Syrup, whatever that is.

And it was then that my mama-bear instincts turned on full force and I started thinking "what am I putting in her mouth - and ours, too?"

I emailed a good friend of mine who I had noticed fed her little boy very good, nutritious foods, and asked her for some recommendations in the nutrition/healthy-food department.

Stay tuned for more, as I get to it :)