Monday, March 30, 2009

Ethical schemes

I received an automated phone message this morning, part of which went like this:
"We are an honest and ethical company and we can deliver truckloads of cash right to your doorstep!!!"
I wonder if their advertisers even realize how ironic that is?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Scripture in the Church

This year I am attempting to read the entire Bible. I am finding it very difficult.

When I read the Bible at home, just scripture and me, I don't get very far. Every now and again I find a new little insight that helps me know or love God better, but more often than not I end up frustrated. And confused. Along with a very large helping of doubt in the whole system. Christianity is a strange, strange religion, and when I'm reading scripture on my own I tend to see the strangeness and wonder just why I'm staking my life on something so completely nuts.

Reading alone, just me and the Bible, often seems like an invitation to Satan to join me and offer his own exposition.

(I'm not saying that it is always like this, or that it is like this for everyone. I am very, very aware that this is likely my own personal failing.)

This morning I went to church, and I heard scripture read and I heard a solid exposition from a good man who, in his office, represents Christ to me. And we sang the creed, those things that Christians throughout all ages have agreed to be true, and we received Christ's body and blood in the consecrated bread and wine.

And all the doubts and the confusion and the frustration that had cropped up in my reading all week, just disappeared. I remembered. More than that, I knew. The creed and communion gave me the context necessary to believe even in the midst of doubts about the written word.

From the earliest days, scripture has been a communal endeavor. In Nehemiah chapter 8 we are told about how Ezra brought the Law of Moses "before the assembly, both men and women and all who could understand what they heard," and he read to them. They responded with worship, and then the leaders of the people "helped the people to understand the Law...the read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading."

We do this same thing today in the Church, and I am grateful because I need it desperately. Without this kind of communion and help from leaders past and present, I get stuck in the text and forget the Man.

The Word of God, written, is important. It is good that I learn to study it. But the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. And when he left, he left us with the Holy Spirit and his body the Church, a community with leaders to help us understand and to aid our sometimes faltering faith.

Thanks be to God, who knows our frailty and is gracious unto us.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Growing boys

I haven't done an update on the boys lately, and they are growing so much that I think it is time! I like keeping semi-regular records of their growing up, and besides, I think the grandparents will like it!

Let's start with Josiah. Oh my, he'll be six months old on Sunday! How did that happen??? Sweet Siah is at the chubby stage - months of good milk and not quite crawling yet makes for a lovely squishy tummy, perfect for blowing raspberries! We play that game when I change his diaper and he giggles and squirms and smiles with his whole body.

I think he's going to start thinning out soon because he is SO close to crawling. He really wants to, and he sort of "swims" with his arms and legs in the attempt to move across the floor. He can also pull his knees up under him, but he hasn't yet figured out how to do anything from there other than push his legs back out from under him. Happily, he has a very sweet temper and doesn't get easily frustrated.

A bit over a week ago we started solid food for him. This is much later than I've started the previous two boys with solids, and it has been interesting to see the difference. Siah has mostly skipped the drooly tongue-thrust stage.

In about three days he went from "what is this in my mouth?"

to "mmm, more, more, give me more".

He can eat about 3-4 tablespoons at a time now. This has actually been very confusing for me, because it changed our nursing schedule so quickly. I'm still adjusting and figuring out how often he still needs to nurse. Overall it has just been strange to switch so quickly from 100% nursing to nursing mostly just at naptimes, with a few extra sessions here and there.

Today I got out the johnny jump up and let Josiah try it out. He liked it!

He's not quite sure how to jump yet, but he likes pushing his toes against the floor, and he likes it when I swing him gently back and forth. Since he has decided that he does not like the baby swing much anymore, I'm hoping that this will provide a good option when I need my hands free. I do wear him in the sling still, but he's getting so BIG (about 18 lbs) that it is harder to do other things while he's in there!

On to our middle child. Thomas is at a fascinating stage right now. He is learning some new words, and becoming more able to make his wishes clear. He loves to mimic his big brother, not only in words/sounds, but also in actions. I wish I could have captured a photo of the time when Jonathan was standing legs spread, shirt off, hands clasped behind his head, and Thomas pulled his shirt off, carefully arranged his own legs and hands in the same position, and grinned.

As much as Thomas loves Jonathan and wants to be like him, it isn't all sunny sweetness! Thomas has figured out exactly how to push Jonathan's buttons, and delights in seeing the reactions he can get! So far I haven't had much luck helping Jonathan learn not to react - that may just be a bit more than he can do at this age. In the meantime, it is an interesting parenting dilemma to know how to respond to a problem between them when I don't seen exactly what happened. It is quite possible that Thomas' tears are a result of Jonathan's reaction to his provocation!

Thomas is very good at playing alone. He loves to read books to himself and has started to get interested in puzzles. His actions (away from his brother) tend to be methodical and measured, taken with great care. He is starting to be quite interested in coloring, and has strong opinions on what colors should be used.

Remember Thomas' new bed? He is doing so well in it! He is a little jealous of his brother's top bunk (climbing ladders is just so cool), and every few days he'll ask me to set up his old pack 'n play, but overall I think he's handled the transition really well. So far he hasn't fallen out, either. :)

Thankfully, Jonathan also hasn't fallen out of bed! Since his is pretty high off the ground, we're very grateful for this fact. I've been impressed at how well he's handled his new big boy status.

Jonathan will be four years old in just a few more days, and to be honest, I've been thinking of him as "four" for the past 4-6 weeks. He reached "pre-schooler" status quite awhile ago! Recently he has discovered rhyming words, and he'll often waltz around the room happily saying rhyming words (and non-words) to himself and anyone who will listen.

He also enjoys singing, although usually when he thinks that I can't hear him. One of my great pleasures is to stand at the door during his quiet times and listen to him sing along with Psalty or Colby, or sing something he is learning at church in children's choir. I don't know much about how children's singing abilities develop, so I don't know if this is normal or not, but I'm enjoying the fact that he can sing remarkably on well (sweetly and on pitch).

Jonathan has recently decided that coloring inside the lines is important, which is interesting because I haven't ever tried to help him do that. He's doing very well, and it is fun to watch him be so meticulously careful.

He has such an fascination with everything! Right now one of this favorite things is the space shuttle. He is interested in everything about them - the rockets, how the gas burns, the clouds of smoke, the parachute that deploys as it lands. This morning he was playing with an airplane, turning it on its tail and making it "blast off" straight up. He noticed that all the seats would be turned sideways if the plane was like that, and promptly lay himself down on his back, stuck his feet in the air, and informed me that he was in the shuttle going up! There is so much going on in his little head.

There you have it - growing boys!

Speech therapy

Mrs. Heather is teaching Thomas to say "No, me!"


What a very, um, helpful thing to teach a two-year-old.

(I'm actually thrilled with his therapist and what he's learning. It just struck me as a funny thing to teach!)

Musical parody

My sister discovered a fabulous parody. If you are a singer or have ever known one, you will love it.

Pass it on giveaway

Katie is participating in a "pass it on" giveaway, and it sounded like fun so I'm going to do it, too. Here is how it works:

I will make something for the first 3 people who respond to this post (and meet the "terms and conditions" below). I'll choose what to make, and I'll decide what that will be depending on who responds. It could be something I sew, it could be something to eat, it could be anything I dream up...

I make no guarantees that you will like what I make. :)

It will be done before Easter. (That is the plan, anyway. I reserve the right to allow for life to get in the way and make me late!)

The catch is that if you want to receive a gift from me, you must offer to give something to your friends/family, too. You can choose how many and how to advertise.

Doesn't that sound like fun?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Big boy bed!

I think he likes it.

So does Jonathan - he gets to be a REALLY big boy and sleep up high!

It was a little nerve-wracking letting Jonathan sleep up there the first night, but he seems to be handling it really well. He's pretty good about following the rules and being safe.

Doesn't it seem like just a very little while ago that they were infants sleeping in blanket nests?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Celebrating Saint Patrick

I was grouching my way through a sleepy early morning when a phone call with Ashley put a smile on my face and new purpose in my day. "Happy Saint Patrick's Day" she said. "I just painted shamrocks on my kids and I don't think it is going to come off!"

Ashley almost always makes me smile. :)

So I resolved to celebrate St. Patrick with the boys, and we certainly enjoyed it! First we colored and cut out three leaf clovers (not four) and talked about how God is Father, Son/Jesus, and Holy Spirit. Three but one God, just like the clover has three leaves but is one plant.

We ate a very green lunch:

And hung up Jonathan's clover masterpiece. If you look closely you can see the "frame" that he drew around the clovers.

Then we made bread dough. The boys had so much fun - making bread is really a great activity for preschoolers and toddlers (as long as you don't mind taking all day to do it!)

Here is the result (sorry it is sideways; blogger is always doing this to me!) My original thought was just to make the "three leaves", but Jonathan decided that they needed stems, too. I think they turned out really well.

After nap time we decorated the table.

They are so proud of their work!

I made a very green dinner (recipe to follow).

It was a very good day.

Clover Rolls

2 cups warm milk
2 T. butter
2 T. sugar
1/2 t. salt
1 T. yeast
1/4 c. warm water
3 c. whole wheat flour
3 c. white flour

Add milk and butter to a microwave safe dish. Warm for 1 minute or until butter melts. Add salt and 1 tablespoon sugar to milk mixture. Add to mixing bowl. Blend in 3 cups flour.

Add 1/4 cup warm water to a bowl and add 1 tablespoon sugar and yeast. Let sit 1-2 minutes then add to mixing bowl. Blend in 3 remaining cups of flour. Take out of bowl and knead several minutes. Add 1 tablespoon oil to your bowl and place bread dough inside. Cover with a towel and let rise 1 hour. After 1 hour roll dough into small balls. Add 3 balls into a muffin tin to resemble a three leaf clover. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Broccoli Bites

Approximately 20 oz. frozen chopped broccoli, steamed.
2 cups crushed seasoned stuffing
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c. butter, very soft
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper

In mixing bowl add cooked, chopped broccoli. Crush stuffing with meat mallet or rolling pin. Add to broccoli. Stir in cheese, eggs and soft butter. Season with salt and pepper. Stir together until well combined. Shape broccoli mixture into balls. Place each ball on a greased baking pan. Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Busy day

When we became a one car family, my weekday life actually got a lot better. I didn't have to do any errands because, well, I couldn't do any errands. It required me to stop trying to do everything, and thus allowed me to do a better job with the kids and the house. I like it.

Unfortunately, all errands can't be skipped all the time. And so our weekends have a tendency to be very full now! Today we packed the car like we were heading out on a day trip (well, we were!) and off we went. It actually went beautifully, and was kind of fun because most of the errands were done together. Family time, even in the car and buying groceries, is still time together, and it can be good.

So, what did we do? Thank you so much for asking, because I'm dying to share. :)

* Dropped off bags of clothes at Charity's Closet (a thrift store for a women's shelter our church supports).
* Took my sewing machine to Moore's, where it did NOT need to be serviced (thank goodness!) and I got some good education on how to use it better.
* Bought groceries at Henry's.
* Had my wedding ring cleaned and fixed (a prong had been knocked off kilter).
* Stopped at Starbucks to nurse Josiah and share a vanilla latte. Did you know that Starbucks will split a large drink so that you can share it with kids? I'm wildly impressed with their family friendliness.
* Went to the bank.
* Bought groceries at Sam's club.
* Filled the tank with gas.
* Exchanged a pair of shoes for Thomas.
* Went to Target for file folders and super-cheap snacks (I almost bought a beautiful clearanced bamboo bowl, but resisted. Maybe I can have it for my birthday, hint, hint, honey?)
* Bought groceries at Vons.
* Went back to Sam's club (with an empty van) to get a mattress for Thomas. He's sleeping in a big boy bed tonight!!

Yes, it took all day. But it is all DONE and except for weekly grocery trip to Vons, it won't need to be done again for weeks or at all.

And tomorrow we will have a lovely Sabbath rest.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

An open letter

Dear Mr. President,

I am greatly disappointed in your decision to allow the destruction of human life in the name of scientific research. Contrary to your comments, there are SERIOUS ethical issues at stake and all Americans certainly do NOT agree with your actions.

There is no evidence (only theories) that embryonic stem cells can provide the great cures hoped for. However, there is plenty of evidence for the uses of adult stem cells - they are already being used in over 70 treatments.

My tax dollars should not be used to fund something that is ethically questionable at best and morally reprehensible at worst, not to mention lacking serious scientific credibility. Why not instead fund adult stem cell research, which has already shown so much scientific potential?

Emily Moothart

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Why the Obama presidency frightens me.

He thinks that government can do everything better. Financial problems? The government will step in. Health care system in need of overhaul? Let the government run it. Social security system about to fail? The government will take care of it...oh wait, they already do and it is failing anyway.

I can only conclude that President Obama has never actually been a supplicant in a government run office. He simply couldn't hold his grandiose theories of government rescue if he had.

I went to the Social Security office today to get a number for Josiah. We had carefully collected everything their website said we needed, and filled out the application in advance. At the door we were met by a "security guard"; an overweight desk clerk with a badge and a gun. He told us to "get a number and sit down over there." The only open seats had a large sign above them informing us that we could not sit there. We stood.

We stood for a long time. The boys were angels - playing reasonably quietly with their cars and trucks. Regardless, we got many "can't you keep them quiet" glares from the man with the badge. After about 45 minutes, and having watched many people who arrived after we did get their numbers called, I asked the guard if he could explain the number system to me. He said something about their being multiple numbering systems and told me, again, to go sit down. I asked if he could find out an estimate of how much longer it might be, since I had small children who needed naps, and I might need to leave and try again later. He snapped "That's not my job. Go sit down."

Ok then.

Eventually our number did get called. I handed the clerk all my paperwork, only to be informed that she couldn't accept copies of Josiah's records.

"They have to be originals."

Originals? What medical practice is going to give me original medical records? I explained that this was what the doctor's office had given me, knowing that it was for the social security office, and noted that none of the requirements online said anything about "original" medical records. They simply said that they had to be records from the doctor's office.

"I can't accept these because they aren't originals."

"Ok. What exactly do I need to get, then?" She rattled off a long list, too fast for me to process. "Could you write that down for me?"

The clerk glared at me and shoved my own papers back toward me. "You can write it down." And rattled it off again, too fast, before I could even pick up a pen.

I asked if she could repeat it, slower, and if she would mind signing it just so that I would have some record of what I'd been told. (The person ahead of me in line had run into a problem because what he'd been told on a previous visit to the office apparently wasn't correct, so I wanted some kind of assurance against that happening to me!)

"I don't have to sign anything for you! We're done!" And she tried to slam the window in my face. Since all my paperwork (including my drivers license) was still on her side of the window, I kept my hand in the way, gathered my papers, and asked why she couldn't sign what she was telling me to do?

That's when the security guard came lumbering over, hand on his gun, and told me to leave the premises immediately or he would call "federal police" and send me to prison.

No, I'm not kidding.

I left, of course. In a government office there is no recourse. You can't ask to speak to a manager or a supervisor. They don't care if you aren't satisfied with their "service" because they don't answer to anyone. Nevermind that it is we, the people, whom they are supposed to be serving. There is nothing I can do if a petty clerk decides to be unhelpful and have her resident bully throw me out.

God help us if this is what we can look forward to at the pediatrician's office.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Triple observations

1) Any given task will not be accomplished without at least three interruptions. Some days each interruption is tripartite, resulting in nine interruptions per task intended.

2) Laundry produced by an adult is 1/3 the amount of laundry produced by a child. On rainy days, triple that proportion.

3) The more children are involved in baking, the more time it will take. The general rule in our house is 3x children = 3x baking time. It is also 3x the fun, IF and ONLY IF Mommy has resigned herself to this rule in advance. (We just baked muffins. It took us 90 minutes. But we definitely had fun.)

So, does baking muffins with nine children in the kitchen take 4.5 hours?

He bidged! He badged! He boodged!

Today is the day!

Actually, yesterday was the day. :) Josiah can roll over, front to back! He's also really close to rolling back to front. And today he is trying SO HARD to crawl. He can pull his knees up under him, but so far shoving just propels the legs backwards instead of the body forwards. Or sideways. Sometimes he turns himself in a circle.

Now I have to figure out how to make our house baby-safe in spite of two older boys who like to collect things like marbles.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Slow cooker bratwurst

While I'm thinking about recipes, here is another one. I found a variety of recipes for slow cooker bratwurst on allrecipes, and ended up simplifying all of them down to this:

5-10 bratwurst (depending on how many you want)
3 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup ketchup
1 onion, thinly sliced
water as needed to cover bratwurst

Place them all in the slow cooker, stir a few times to combine broth and ketchup, and cook on high for about 4 hours. Remove meat and onions from cooker and place on a cookie sheet (with sides). I put my brats down the center and then the onions down each side, just for pretty presentation. Broil for a few minutes until brats are slightly browned. I served them with bread (see previous post for the recipe) and a salad.

Homemade whole wheat bread

I don't think I've shared this recipe with the world at large yet. And I can't imagine why, because we LOVE this bread. I think I got the original recipe from my mom, but I've tweaked it since then to make it my own.

Whole Wheat Bread (2 lb loaf)

1 2/3 cup water (about 2-4T of this can be replaced with milk, if you like)
1 cup wheat bran
2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cup white bread flour
2 t. salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 T. butter
2 t. yeast

Place all ingredients in a bread machine and set on the whole wheat cycle. In about four hours, voila! Fresh bread!

I am so glad that I have a bread machine. It saves money, saves time, and provides an awful lot of enjoyment! My first one was a gift from my parents, but the one I'm using now was a $5 thrift store find! So if you don't have one, keep your eyes open at second hand shops because they do turn up there sometimes.


Sunday, March 01, 2009

A day is as an age...

Stated oh so matter-of-factly:

"I think Lent will last a long time, until I die and go up to heaven."