Sunday, August 26, 2012

Food

I have so many things I could blog about that I don't even know where to start, and I'm really supposed to be asleep.  But I want to say something to my dear little blog.  So I am going to talk about food.  Food is one of the very bright spots in my life when I am pregnant.  I am always exhausted and often overwhelmed, but everything tastes so good! 

I got a leek in my last Bountiful Basket, and so of course I needed to make leek soup.  Whenever I need a recipe I go to Google and type in "best _____ recipe" (so in this case "best leek soup recipe.")  I've never been let down with this technique. 

This time I ended up with Emeril's recipe from the Food Network.  I couldn't resist. 

It was to die for.  Yes, LEEK SOUP that was to die for.  It took a lot longer to put together than the "16 minutes prep" that the recipe specified, but it was worth it. 

On my second bowl I remembered I was supposed to put fresh chives on it.  I have fresh chives.  Roo grows them in her garden.  They are her "secret plant."  And oh my dolphins, people, those chives sent that soup into orbit.  It was the perfect marriage of flavors.  Yes, leek soup.  I know. 

One of my secrets to amazing cooking lately is a wonderful little product that I discovered last year on my trip to Utah.  Both my sister Pineapple and sister-in-law Meadow were using it and I don't know how I missed it before.  Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon. 

I've been trying to do better at eliminating scary chemicals from our diet and while this is really really hard, two of the things I've sworn off of completely are canned cream-of-____ soups and bouillon.  They are both full of MSG and other toxic stuff.  Bouillon hasn't been too much of a problem since I never used it much anyway, but cream of soup is wonderfully tasty stuff and I have lots of recipes that I adore that feature it (chicken and broccoli casserole comes to mind....)  I have been trying to make similar creations without the cream of soup and sometimes it has just been too bland.  Enter Rapunzel Vegetable Bouillon.  It's organic.  There's nothing scary in it.  It just makes everything you put it into taste amazing.  I can't decide if I like the regular or the version with herbs better.  So I buy both. 

Oh Rapunzel, I love you.  I don't know how I ever lived without you.

Speaking of wonderful things from the health food store, I made another glorious discovery recently that I will share with you.  I have a delicate gallbladder, and one of the things it really doesn't like is when I eat hydrogenated oils.  Yeah, I know they're bad for you anyway, but sometimes you just really need shortening in a recipe.  Well, Spectrum Organics has an all-vegetable shortening that is not hydrogenated.  And it's wonderful.  A bit pricey, yes, but regular shortening is pricey and mine always goes rancid before I use it up because I just don't use it much... too scared of it, I guess.  Anyway, this Spectrum stuff is perfect.  I just made the most absolutely perfect oatmeal/chocolate chip/pecan cookies with it.  I think I ate more than half a dozen of them.  See, I'm not as healthy as I pretend to be. 

Next I will talk about rolls, but not tonight.  It's way past my bedtime and I wisely have set my computer to kick me off the internet at a certain time.  So, Goodnight!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rabbit Leaps and Bounds

It's so fun to do school with my little Rabbit. Since she's only four, I don't worry about any kind of a set schedule, but I don't need to. She makes sure it gets done. Most days a few minutes after I start in with morning devotional she goes and gets her entire pile of school books and dumps it on my lap. She doesn't always get through everything before she loses interest and goes off to play, but I am still surprised at how rapidly she is advancing.

One thing that has been really fun to see is her motor skill development. For a long time now I've been working on language with her, teaching her to identify her letters and learn the sounds they make. She was really good at it, except for one thing: she could not write them. All of her attempts at letters were messy blobs. Every time we came to a lesson in the language book where she was supposed to write letters or practice writing her name I showed her how, but I didn't expect anything from her.

Then, just the other day, she came to me with her name written on a piece of paper. Perfectly legible. I thought Roo had written it, but no, it was the Rabbit Herself. She had been paying attention to all my lessons and now that her brain was ready writing was no problem. Now she copies letters quite nicely.

Nothing quite so sudden like that has happened with any of my other kids.  Homeschooling is full of fun surprises. 

 Today she was bugging me to do a spelling lesson with her the same way I do with Roo and Fish. She's just about ready for it!

I bought her a book at the homeschool convention last spring called The Complete Book of Preschool mostly just to keep her busy during school.  It has, but not in the way I expected.  The skills presented in the book have ended up being way beneath her (she so knows her colors and shapes already), so she finds other ways to amuse herself with the pages I tear out for her.  On this one, she condescended to trace the diamond but then she drew an elaborate picture of a fairy inside of it.  Have I mentioned that she's becoming extremely good at art? 



I really enjoy teaching the Rabbit and I look forward to lots of fun times together in our homeschool.

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

Lullabye

One of the things I looked forward to most about parenting was singing lullabyes to my kids.  One of the things which made me feel the most loved and secure as a child was being sung to by my mother or occasionally my older siblings.  I would lay quietly in my bed in my darkened bedroom and listen to my mother's sweet voice and feel like all was right with the world. 

So, of course, I started singing to my boys when they were little.  However, it didn't seem to have the same effect on them as it had had on me.  I would lay them down in their little beds and start to sing and then be interrupted about 100 times by them bouncing around, kicking the wall, hitting each other, or interrupting me with "Mom?  Guess what?"  I couldn't get through a single sweet lullabye without at least a dozen firm commands mixed in.  "Lay back down!"  "Leave your brother alone!"  "Close your eyes and close your mouth and just relax!"  Ha!  Bean was completely incapable of relaxing until he was eight or so.

My boys were not easy to put to bed.  To say the least. 

It was discouraging and disillusioning, but I think in the end it did make a difference.  I think they fondly remember my singing and sometimes they still ask me to sing to them.

And now I have my girls to sing to, and that is a completely different experience.  Roo and Rabbit are finally going to bed together in their own bedroom, but they absolutely INSIST on me singing to them each night.  We have the same deal I used to have with the boys: three songs.  They each choose one and I choose one. 

I go in their room and tuck them into bed.  I turn out the light and turn on the Twilight Turtle.  They like it on the blue setting.  I sit on the edge of the bed.  They lay quietly and silently while I sing to them.  Roo is usually asleep before the three songs are over.  The Rabbit reminds me to say a prayer.  So I pray a prayer just for them, thanking Heavenly Father for them and asking for blessings just for them.  Then I give them each a kiss and I go out.  And that's it! 

What a wonderful part of my evening. 

The songs I sing are mostly from the hymn book and the Primary Children's song book.  There are two traditional lullabyes I often sing: Braham's Lullabye and Lullabye, My Little Owlet, which is from a poem attributed to H.W. Longfellow. 

Some of my favorites are Abide With Me, 'tis Eventide, and I Wonder When He Comes Again. 

Roo's favorite songs are Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing and I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus. 

Lately, the Rabbit has been asking for what she calls "Chair us Burt chew."  Can you tell what song that is?  Hint: it's a line from a hymn but it's not the title. 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Enjoying the Pool

We went to a swim party at my neighbor's house the other day.  There were four families there and at least 20 children from teenagers down to toddlers.  Everyone had a blast.  Kids always have fun at a swim party, but there was something different about this one that I think made it even better.

As a child, I never thought too much about swimsuits.  You wore one to go swimming.  Mom said no bikinis and no high-cut leg openings because these were not modest but a regular one-piece was perfectly acceptable.  I never really thought much about it.

Then I hit adolescence and everything changed.  I started putting on a little extra weight and became incredibly self-conscious.  Suddenly, "I'm going to throw on a swimsuit and go play with my friends in the pool!" became "Oh no, I really don't want anyone to see this much of me exposed."  Swimming in Junior High gym class scarred me for life because I had to parade my chubby thighs in front of all these kids who were always looking for more reasons to make fun of me.  This made me even less desirous to go out in public wearing something so revealing.  By the end of high school I almost never went swimming, unless I was with close friends and could go to a private pool where there weren't many people and it wasn't against the rules to wear a tshirt over my swimming suit.  Wearing a tshirt helped but was considered somewhat uncool-- everyone knew you were trying to hide and that just made you more embarrassed.  Something that had once been very enjoyable to me was now incredibly uncomfortable.  But I always felt that this was because of my body flaws-- it was my fault if what society considered normal swim attire was humiliating for me to wear.

After I had Bean and I lost 100 pounds I had to shop for a new swimsuit.  Being overweight wasn't the problem anymore and that felt good, but I realized that weight hadn't been the whole issue: even with a thinner body I still didn't want to reveal that much of myself in public.  It just wasn't comfortable.  However, I was happy to learn that the trends in swimwear now included more modest options.  I was very excited about the invention of the tankini, which included a pair of coordinating shorts.  What a huge difference that made in my emotional comfort level while swimming! 

Since then, the rash guard shirt has come en vogue and I couldn't be happier about that.  The last few swimsuits I have bought my girls have been adorable rash guard/skirt combos and I love that not only do they not get sunburned shoulders but that their entire form isn't on display for who-knows-who to view.  Swimming is just more comfortable for all of us.  

But with this pregnancy swimming became problematic again.  I am having a problem finding maternity clothes in general, but the idea of trying to find a flattering maternity swimsuit when I have already put on 40 lbs.... I just didn't want to go there.  I decided I could live without swimming for the duration. 

Then I went to this swim party at my neighbor's.  Everyone was dressed modestly.  All the girls wore rash guards and skirts or shorts (including mine.)  All the boys except mine were wearing rash guards.  It was just so much more comfortable.  Everyone could jump and splash and have fun without being self-conscious or embarrassed about chubby tummies or thunder thighs or the fact that wearing a traditional swimsuit amounts to parading around in your underwear.  I didn't have to worry about what my boys were thinking about any young girls in bikinis.  I didn't have to wonder what anyone was thinking about my girls.  All those issues were removed from the picture and we just had fun. 

One of the other moms there was also expecting and somewhat plus-sized.  She was wearing a maternity suit that consisted of a pretty purple rash guard and a skirt with attached boy shorts.  I looked at it and thought "I could wear that."  She said she had bought it online at Mermaid Maternity.  I went home and bought one immediately and I am so pleased with it. 

Since then I have been to both the church swim party and the library summer reading pool party and have been able to enjoy myself.  No one has to see any more of me than they should and I don't have to be embarrassed about the way most swimwear paints extra body weight in the absolute worst possible light.  In the case of the church swim party I interact with these people every week, which compounds any potential awkwardness significantly.  If I am just about as covered as they normally see me, there is nothing for any of us to feel weird about. 

Yet what I am wearing is also culturally acceptable.  I don't look like some sort of anomaly from 100 years ago.  Lots of people wear rash guards and swim skirts now.  I think there are millions of people who, like me, don't feel comfortable flaunting themselves at the pool.  I am glad to see this trend toward more modest swimwear and I think we need to support and encourage it so it will continue. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Late Night Catan Party

The Badger and I have been fans of the board game Settlers of Catan for years, but we don't play very often because the little kids have to be asleep or well-occupied so they don't mess up the game board. Bean LOVES the game and is always begging to play it with anyone who has a pulse.

Last night he asked if we could put the girls to bed early and play.  Miracle of miracles, the girls actually went to bed at a somewhat reasonable hour.  I about fell asleep putting Peanut to bed, but aided by a few spoonfuls of chocolate goat milk ice cream I rallied.  

Bean had the game all set up for us.  Fish played too.  I didn't realize he was old enough to really play, but he did awesome.  In fact, he creamed us all.  





The Badger wanted me to make sure I took a picture of him too.  The playful side of his personality was out in full force last night.  


In fact, we were all feeling pretty silly.  We cracked lots of jokes and laughed a lot.  Fish was particularly funny, displaying generous doses of his completely unique Fish-humor that I can't explain.  You just have to experience it.  If I tell you he said "Keep your trousers on, smarty-pants!" it's not funny unless you can see his face and hear how he said it.  There's just no one like my Fish. 
 


It was one of the funnest evenings I've had in a long time.  We were up waaaaay too late, but we still managed to get through our school work today.... just a bit later than usual.
 
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