Monthly Archives: January 2007

Writer’s Block, Blog Envy, and Perseverance

I’ve decided to break my writer’s block by just throwing out whatever comes to mind. The first thing is that I don’t think I really have writer’s block, but I have started two unpublished detailed blogs that have had me stymied and I have drawn many more blanks recently when I sit down to blog. I can’t remember who said it, but he/she said that writing in itself isn’t difficult, it is narrowing the nearly infinite number of ways to write something that is difficult. (100 bingo-points to the person who can reference this quote! Was it Virginia Woolf?)

Anyway, I had no difficulty at all until I started reading so many blogs. “Oooh, wow, I love the way she said that!” or “I wish I could be so clever” and so on. The more I thought about writing, the less natural it seemed. So enough…I am just going to keep going for the sake of going.

One of my besetting sins is the tendency to despair and self-pity. I hear myself say all too often, “I’ve always been [messy, forgetful, a procrastinator…]” or “I never can [keep something good going, keep to a schedule, etc.], and leave it at that, as if God isn’t capable of changing me! I found that thought creeping in today, as in “Oh well, I guess I only had a good couple of months of writing in me…I’ve never been able to stick to anything.” But I can’t let that negative thought get me. Writing everyday or nearly everyday has been one of the best things I have done for myself, and inadvertently my family, in a long time. I am able to step back and see things in my life from a different perspective, to laugh at the daily happenings in my family, and help untangle my jumbled thoughts. Envy and pride would love to stumble me, but I am now onto them. Isn’t knowing your enemy half the battle?

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Filed under Thoughts, Words and Writing

Around-the-World Gluten-Free Biscuits

These are an easy Saturday morning breakfast…using oil simplifies the process. The bittersweet chocolate tempers the earthiness of the biscuit. I named them because the ingredients come from China, South America, Africa, North America, the Mediterranean, the South Seas, and the Middle East. Can you figure out where each ingredient is from?

1/2 cup tapioca starch (aka cassava flour)

1/2 cup amaranth flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup teff flour

1 Tbsp. sugar

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 bag (more or less) bittersweet choc. chips

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup extra light olive oil

3/4 cup buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients, including the chocolate and almonds, together in a large bowl. In a measuring cup, mix the oil and buttermilk together. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Stir until just mixed. If too dry, add a little more buttermilk. Turn out on waxed paper, knead 5-7 times, using the waxed paper instead of your hands. Pat out and cut into circles. Bake at 400 degrees until golden brown.

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Filed under Celiac/Gluten-Free Stuff, Homemaking&Cooking

Nature-Deficit Disorder? Surely Not in this Family!

I have been intrigued by a book my sister-in-law has been reading about our children being “nature deprived.” The book is provocatively titled Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Apparently, we have so little contact with nature these days, that we have become scared of the natural world and our kids are missing out from the experiences that so much of our poetry and literature is based on, not to mention just missing the joy of being outside.

I intend to read the book eventually, but she has had me thinking about it the meantime. I’m not sure, though, if I have carried the idea too far.

Yesterday, I found a dead robin in our backyard. I couldn’t believe that my bird-loving son had missed it. Just minutes earlier he was playing right where the robin lay. I called him outside to look and before I could tell him not to touch it, he bent and picked it up. I closed my open mouth and thought, “Well, there is always soap and water.”

He held the bird, rocked its loose head back and forth, touched its beak, and thoroughly examined him. He decided a burial at sea would be appropriate for the bird, so we took the bird to the nearby canal and ceremoniously tossed him in. Meanwhile, I was constantly monitoring my son just in case he was going to rub his eyes, pick his nose, or stick his fingers in his mouth.

Afterwards, hearing the soap and water running and feeling satisfied that I had let my son pick up a dead bird, I kept reassuring myself that the robin had died of old age and probably in the intervening moments that my son had gone inside and I had gone outside. He was large, and well formed, and generally healthy looking, excepting of course, that he was dead…he certainly couldn’t have died of a species-jumping virus such as BIRD FLU…could he??!

Maybe I need to just go read the book. Surely the author suggests that we interact with dead animals from a safe distance.

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Filed under Babies & Kids, Homeschooling

This Meal Planning Site is Great!

A few weeks ago I wrote that I was going to start using Menus4Moms, a free, weekly meal planner site that includes recipes, shopping lists, freezer tips, and bulk cooking tips.  They have now added a daily reminder for a household chore.  It is kind of like Flylady, but not nearly so involved (no thousands of emails!).  This is just one reminder to spend 15 minutes on a chore in one one area of your house only.

I have really loved the meal planning.  I especially love the shopping list.  I am quite forgetful, so it helps to see a comprehensive list that includes spices, etc. just in case you happen to run low on a staple such as oregano.

The best benefit is that my family is feeling very loved.   I have meal planned before, but I never planned the side dishes very well.  We are now having a great variety of sides and we are definitely eating more vegetables.  I have had the time now to add a special dessert here and there, too.  The extra time has freed me up to make from scratch things that I used to make, such as pie crusts, but no longer made due to time.

Nothing says love like a table full of good things to eat!

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Filed under Babies & Kids, Homemaking&Cooking

At least one baby tooth saved…

Hurrah!  With the wonderfully calm skill of Dr. Kyle Raymond, pediatric dentist in Austin, TX, my youngest had her front tooth cavity filled without being put to sleep.  Of course, she screamed and was a little scared but he was finished in almost no time at all.  He let me stay right with her and had me hold her hands while he worked.  She was looking into my face directly instead of his.  She was perfectly fine as soon as I sat her up.  She even held Dr. Raymond in no ill will afterwards.  I think it was his matter-of-fact nature that I particularly liked…he didn’t talk down to her or coddle me, either.  Just a reassuring “let’s get it done” attitude.

If you found my blog by searching under “tooth decay in my baby” I urge you to search for a pediatric dentist who is willing to try alternatives to sedation.  In my baby’s case, we caught it early enough and were able to drill without sedation or even local anesthetic.

For decalcification, there is also a treatment available where the dentist will paint a fluoride varnish on the tooth once a month for 6 months.  We decided in my baby’s case that the treatment would just be putting off the inevitable, but do look into that option if you start noticing little while spots on your baby’s teeth.

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Irene

My grandmother, Irene, passed away the last week of December and since then, my mind has been filled with memories of her. Actually, I wouldn’t say filled. The memories have come back more like a dripping faucet. One at a time, but steady.

She was the prototypical unsung hero, a hardworking mother of 4 surviving girls and plain wife, born in a covered wagon to poor migrant farmers in the first part of the last century. She took naps on cotton sacks as a girl, and remembered being paid a penny a row in peanut fields. “A long row,” she said.

Her father was a harsh man and her mother, from what I could glean, was kind and practical. Something happened in my grandmother’s past that left her with a mistrust of men for the rest of her life, which eventually destoyed her marriage, although my father and my husband, along with her grandsons, helped to change her mind a little on this. I can still remember her not letting me ride my bike outside my suburban home when she was babysitting me once. “You never know what kind of pervert might pick you up.” At the time, I thought she was silly, but I find myself telling my own children “No” for the same reason these days.

My best memories of her come from when I used to stay at her house as a child. Like most children, my memories center strongly around food. She wasn’t known for being a cook, but she could make the best fried potatoes around. I can still see her standing by the stove, the smell of gas in the air, watching the blue flame heat up the cast iron pan, and hear the sizzling of the potatoes in the hot oil. The edges were always crispy and browned perfectly. She would often add onions to the potatoes. I think this is where I learned to love a good, carmelized onion.

It was always a good thing to eat her fried potatoes for dinner, because you knew the next morning you would be eating Special K with powdered milk. I guess she always had powdered milk around because she preferred to drink buttermilk.

Another good memory was her shower. My grandma kept the cleanest shower I’ve ever seen, even when she was well into her 80s. All she used was baking soda, too. She always had a big dish of Dove soap and a bath brush. I think it was the only time I ever used a bath brush. I never have really understood those. But now that I think about it, they were probably pretty important when you spent all day in a peanut field. I cannot smell Dove to this day without thinking about her.

I also loved to sleep in her bed. Once, she bought a brand new couch, and boy, was she proud of it, but she kept it covered in big, thick, plastic. I hated sleeping on that and would beg to sleep with her in her bed. Sometimes she let me. I remember she had a big sliding glass door in her bedroom. There was a bright mercury lamp outside that kept me awake. Awake, that is, until she came to bed. She was quite a large lady at the time (all those fried potatoes!), so when she climbed into bed and turned on her side, she blocked the light just right for me. I would roll right into “the cleft of the rock” and fall fast asleep.

At her funeral, one of my cousins spoke up, and mentioned that, being her second oldest grandchild, he always felt a special connection with her. I chuckled a little to myself. I would guess that all 11 of us felt like we were her favorite. The more my cousins reflected on their memories of Grandma, the more I realized we shared the same favorite moments with her. What an accomplishment. She managed to love us all unconditionally and accept whatever love – sometimes a little, sometimes a lot – we could give back with equal grace.

These memories have been sweet. There are so many more I wish to share, and I may, over the coming weeks. None of them describe a grand moment, just the little simple things in life, like taking a walk, or looking at her new dish towels, or picking tiny strawberries growing in her garden. She was a simple soul and she has taught me more than I realized in her simple way. Thank you, Grandma.

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Filed under Giving Thanks, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Dangerously Low Resources, Part II

The last few days I have been pondering the term “dangerously low resources,” the crisis message that recently appeared on my computer screen. Too bad that we don’t all get a message that pops up on our foreheads when we are dangerously low on our own resources.

For example, when I have skipped too many days in prayer and Bible reading, and I am crabby with everybody, disrespectful to my husband, and generally a disorganized mess, wouldn’t it be great if the message “dangerously low resources” popped up before my eyes?

Or, if my husband and I have been busy with the children and their activities, stingy with babysitting money, have had too many nighttime critter companions, and suddenly find ourselves out of sorts with each other, wouldn’t the dangerously low resources message be a sweet kick in the pants?

There have been times when I have been out shopping, say, at a specialty foods store like Whole Foods or even at the disorienting and numbing Wal-Mart, when the DLR message would have saved me some pain later.

Inventory your life today and see where your resources are dangerously low. Perhaps you haven’t had a bubble bath in a while, or a novel you have been wanting to read is still on the shelf. Maybe it’s been since your last baby was born that you have spent real time on your face before the Lord. Maybe you’ve added a bit to your credit card rolls, thinking a little here and a little there won’t hurt you. In any case, we are so often too busy to see where our resources are lacking and almost kill ourselves trying to make things happen without the fuel required.

Jesus would recognize the daily depletion of his resources, and would often arise early and go away from others to be alone with the Father. If even He needed to re-fill his resources, just think how much you and I need to do this. And just think what can happen in our lives if we do.

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Filed under Babies & Kids, His Banner over Me, Homemaking&Cooking, Homeschooling, Thoughts