January 4th, 2011

I just wanted to share with you all that I finally blew up one of my photos and framed it. I take a lot of pictures, but I could probably count on 2 hands the amount of shots I have ever printed, and nothing bigger than a 5×7. Check out this 12×12 beauty. I am so proud of this photo, and so happy with how it looks in the square crop. Yay!
When I picked it up at Costco, the lady behind the counter said, “Hmm, that’s an interesting picture.” I know interesting can mean a lot of things, but I was so giddy about how good I thought it looked that I just said, “Thanks!” and went on my merry way.

As I stop to think.

January 3rd, 2011

This pregnancy is humming along – to the tune of Mario Bros. theme songs, which is what I hear my boys humming all day long. Most of the time life is racing by, and I often don’t have time to think. When the rare opportunity to ponder strikes, these are some of the things floating through my mind.

There were a few times during the Christmas season that I sort of stopped and watched our 3 kids in disbelief – this would be our last Christmas with the 3 of them. Next Christmas, Lord willing, there will be 4. Four children! I can’t quite comprehend the thought. So in those moments, I try to burn the memories in my mind. Their voices, their laughter, their smiles, and antics. They are so much fun, and as hard as it is to believe, they really won’t be this small forever.

Three kids draw attention. I think I’m oblivious to it a lot of the time because it’s just my life and I’m too busy dealing with crowd control to notice what people think of all the small children in my company, but there are times when I’m keenly aware of my entourage. I am thrilled that another baby is on the way, and in all honestly don’t care if there are people in the world who aren’t thrilled about it. I still wonder though. As my belly starts to blossom and the bump will inevitably become more obvious, I wonder what kind of looks and comments I will encounter when I am out and about. I actually expect people to say rude things to me, and my inner cynic wants to have an arsenal of snide remarks to shoot back to those people. But I know that is not how the Holy Spirit would have me respond. I want to respond with grace, whether people approve of our family or not.

There are many women who could express this better I could, but here’s my opinion of birth in a nutshell. Our bodies were created by a loving and brilliant God, who knows biology – he did create it, after all. He equipped a woman’s body with the ability and strength to not only carry a baby for 10 months, but to birth that baby. Birth is not something to be feared; it is a natural process that women are capable of flourishing in, if they are given the support to do so. Giving birth should be one of the most empowering experiences in a woman’s life – one where she is treated with dignity, respect, and honour. Woman, you were made for this. My thoughts on this will undoubtedly unfold more as the months go on.

I had my second visit with my midwife last week, and I am loving my experience with her. I was able to hear our baby’s heartbeat and that experience will forever be etched in my mind. I was laying down with the doppler sliding around on my belly, and there was the sound, *kwooosh kwooosh kwooosh* – I’ve been here before. What’s different this time, what is keeping this memory with me, is the simple fact that she turned the doppler around so I could see the display, “156”. I don’t know why, but my doctor (I love her) never did that for me with any of my other kids. Just seeing that number made me realize, “Wow. That’s not just a noise. That’s a real heartbeat. A 156 beats per minute real heartbeat.” After that, because appointments are way longer with a midwife than with a doctor, I actually had time to think about some of the questions that had been floating through my mind over the past month, and we discussed them as they came to mind. At the end of it all, she was laughing at me because almost all my questions were about labour, birth, or post-date procedures, which are usually not things that most people discuss until around 30 weeks. “You sure are a curious woman!” she declared. I’ll take it as a compliment :)

Within the next six months my belly will become joyfully round, by the grace of God a new soul will greet the world, and I will have another precious child to hold, treasure, and train up in the Lord. Welcome 2011, I’m excited for what’s in store.

My Restless Mind

December 14th, 2010

This blog post is going to be an upheaval of random facts to catch you up to speed here a little bit, since I’ve not been updating with photos. Just so you know.

We’ve hit a roadblock with our advent activities – the weekend was busy, and now I’m sick. The kids don’t seem very disappointed, as long as they still get to eat the cheap chocolate in their advent calendars.

Now that I’m done my official 365 project, I’m giving myself grace to not post pictures if I don’t feel like it, and because I’m sick, I don’t feel like it. Part of it’s a cold, and the rest, I don’t know. Could have been a stomach bug thrown in there, or maybe it was just pregnancy related stomach issues, but either way, I’ve not been well. At least sickness has been hitting one person at a time here. Bailey had a nasty cough at the beginning of the month, then Wyatt got croup, now I’m sick, and in Markus’ own words, “I’m snotty, Mommy.” Me too, sweet boy. Me too.

I’m longing and pining for a warm vacation. I always thought I didn’t mind Saskatchewan winters all that much, but I feel like each year they start to wear on me a little more. And sooner. Last year I was tired of winter by February. Now it’s hitting me already. I’m so weary of bundling up the kids when we need to go anywhere, buckling them and their puffy coats into their car seats, unbuckling, trudging through the cold…you get the idea. And now it’s only going to get worse before it gets better, since we’ve got another baby on the way. (Come on, don’t hear me complaining about the baby. This is purely me complaining about the cold. And car seats. And my aching back from hauling kids, and kids in car seats). I’m really starting to understand why people get away to warmer climates for a vacation. If our schedule and bank account were flexible enough, we’d be out of here by the weekend on some last minute deal. Perhaps we need to plan and budget for a real family vacation next winter.

I also wonder if my lack of daily photo has caused me to not see my snowy surroundings in such a poetic and favourable light, as I did last winter.

Also, it should go without saying, but I don’t like winter because it’s cold. Why do people find it enjoyable to be outside in the cold? I don’t understand. Give me my warm house, give me plenty of hot tea, high calorie carbs, and I’m good with hibernating until May. Because let’s be honest, we can’t safely be sure winter is gone until at least May.

My battle with menu planning continues. I’m not winning; however, I would say that I am getting better at winging it without a recipe. So I’ll call that a partial win in the food department.

I don’t think I’ve had the guts to say it in any past posts, but because I’m feeling brazen and nonchalant at the moment, I’m going to talk about it. We’re in the baby stages of homeschooling our kids, and after much, “I can’t do it! I’m not a teacher. This isn’t going to work. I’m not organized enough. I can’t teach grade eleven math, so I won’t be able to teach my kids to read and write either…” I am starting to find a slight groove, and am enjoying it. So are the kids. I’m going through a preschool curriculum with the boys, and they are really enjoying it! My goal was to start with the preschool stuff just to get my feet wet and figure out if and how it was going to work for us. It’s working, and I’m getting more and more brave talking about it. As is evident with me blogging about it.

When I went to see my doctor for a Diclectin Rx, she asked if I had been in for a prenatal checkup yet, to which I responded, “No, I’m actually planning on having a midwife this time.” To which she replied, “Well unfortunately I think you’re a good candidate for that.” She’s funny. I have always appreciated her laid back approach to my pregnancies, but I am so excited for more personal and informed care with my midwife. I had my first appointment with her last month. She’s wonderful. And I have it on good authority from others as well that she’s wonderful – she was my sister’s midwife earlier this year, helping bring my niece into the world, as well as my friend’s baby last year. Speaking of midwives, I am reading an excellent book called Baby Catcher – Chronicles of a modern midwife. If you love a good birth story, you’ll love this book. Some of the stories are about some pretty wacky people, but the beauty and miracle of birth shines through each story.

That’s about all I can think of to unleash off my restless mind at the moment. Thanks for listening.


December 2nd, 2010

As our kids get older, I have a growing desire for family traditions and creating memories with them, especially during the Christmas season. Last year I wanted to do something special for them during advent, but didn’t get organized enough to make it happen. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a grinch, in the sense that I didn’t want to do/see/hear anything Christmas-y until December. I had good intentions of doing fun things with them last year, but time got away on me because I didn’t plan ahead of time.

This year is a different story. I read this post on the Simple Kids blog, about advent activities. Between the suggestions given in the post, and in the comments left by other readers, I had almost enough suggestions to get us through all 24 days. I added a few of my own, and we are good to go. I admire the very crafty, scrapbooky type of folks in the world but I do not have the creativity or drive to do such things. All I did was make a simple paper chain, with each day’s activity written inside. It hangs on our curtain rod in the dining room, and each day the boys will take a piece of the chain off to reveal that day’s activity. I tried to keep it as low budget as possible. Some of the activities are very simple, some are more time consuming. I tried to plan things based on what our schedule already held – so days that are hectic, like Sundays often are, we’ll do simple things that don’t take a lot of planning or time. The goal is not to set a new precedent for world’s most creative mom (I am not!) – the goal is making memories, and building anticipation in their little hearts as we celebrate the coming of our great God and savior into the world as a humble baby.

In trying to not be a grinch, I’ll share my list with you. Feel free to use it if you want, and change it to suit your family.

1 Decorate boys’ room with some Christmas lights
2 Make paper snowflakes
3 Make a card for someone far away and send it in the mail
4 Watch Home Alone
5 Drink hot chocolate
6 Go to the library and check out some Christmas books
7 Bake peppernuts
8 Make a card for someone close to home and send it in the mail
9 Colour a picture using only red and green crayons (I’ll get some Christmas colouring sheets online)
10 Make gifts for grandparents
11 Make wrapping paper – if you live in Saskatoon, you can get a roll end of newsprint from the Star Phoenix for only fifty cents! We’ll use that paper, finger paints, and I’ll make some potato stamps.
12 Call someone special and sing Jingle Bells
13 Make homemade Christmas glitter playdough
14 Draw a Christmas picture, and tell a story that goes with it
15 Make gingerbread men – invite friends to join you
16 Watch A Charlie Brown Christmas
17 Go to the grocery store and each pick out a food item for the Food Bank
18 Drive through the Enchanted Forest (a holiday light display here)
19 Go to our church musical
20 Have a Christmas tree picnic
21 Make homemade jar snowglobes – I remember doing this when I was a kid. I’ll find a tutorial online closer to the day.
22 Go for a drive to look at Christmas lights
23 Make paper bag reindeer
24 Open a special early Christmas gift (Christmas jammies – hoping to make this a yearly tradition)

So there you have it! I’m planning on taking a photo of our daily activity for my 365 Project, so feel free to stop in there to check out what we’re doing.

Merry Christmas everyone!

New Beginnings…

November 30th, 2010

In case you missed my final photo on my 365 Project, here’s the big news:

We are having another baby!

As big as a lime, our little one is growing like crazy. I’m eleven weeks pregnant, green in the gills, and thanking Jesus for the sweet mercy of Diclectin as I wait for the nauseous first trimester to end. I had my first visit with my midwife last week, which was wonderful. Now that the news is public I know the coming weeks are going to fly by…when you’re not showing it feels like forever, and then once that bump pops it’s a fast ride to the end.

We are so excited that the Lord would choose to bless us with another child, and look forward to being a family of 6! We can still fit in our van. That’s a very good thing.

Drumroll please…

November 30th, 2010

Dana, you won! Now we have another excuse to get together, so I can give you your prize :)
For those of you who don’t know Dana, let me tell you about this amazing woman and friend. First of all, lest you be saying her name incorrectly in your head, it’s pronounced like Diana without the i, not “Dayna”. I first got to know Dana at a youth retreat when I was in grade 7, she in grade 9. I heard her and her best friend Dana (Dayna) trying to get the boys to figure out how to pronounce their names correctly with the above explanation. I don’t know if they got it, but it obviously made sense to me if I remember it 14 years later. Dana amazed me with her coolness when we all were painting our nails in the cabin one evening. She came prepared, with Q-Tips to dip in nail polish remover to clean up the polish that accidentally got on skin beside the nail. Brilliant! Here was a girl I could look up to for wisdom :)

It is funny how two years can make someone seem so much older when you are young, but over the years Dana has become a close friend. We have shared major life experiences during similar times, which I think has drawn us together a lot. She and her husband were married a year before Clay and I. They had a really short engagement, and Dana, I remember being so impressed by your sureness and commitment. You guys knew what you wanted, and you went for it. I love that. Being some of the first in our circle of friends to get married, it was nice to know we were not the only crazy ones getting married young. It was also nice to know we weren’t the only crazy ones having babies young! Markus and Dana’s oldest son are only five months apart in age, and her daughter and Bailey are one month apart! Our kids get along so well, and it’s always a joy to get together for coffee. We share a lot of similar interests, so it’s always fun to chat about cooking, being green, how to raise our kids, and how to love Jesus without getting jaded by the crazies.

The thing I admire most about Dana is her strength. Dana, I’ve always seen you as a woman who knows who she is and what she believes. When you lost her dad unexpectedly last year, my heart absolutely broke for you and your family to have to walk such a difficult road. I know it has been more difficult than I could imagine, but through it all I have seen you, through the grace of Jesus, to be strong in your weakness. Your honesty was an immense encouragement to me as I sat by, not knowing what to say or do. The Lord is doing a good work in you, and I am blessed to be your friend and learn from you.

Lazy Day Stock

November 26th, 2010

I never thought I’d find myself at age 26, getting excited about chicken stock. But here I am, 26, and I’m excited about chicken stock. There is something a little thrilling about making something nutritious out of nearly nothing. Here’s what you need. Chicken bones, veggie cast-offs, water, and vinegar. That’s it.

But if you’re like me a few years ago, you’re thinking, “Right, where am I going to get chicken bones? They don’t have those in the boneless skinless chicken breast box. That’s why I buy them. Because they don’t resemble an actual animal.” Believe me, I get it. The closest I used to get to buying meat with bones was chicken drumsticks. I still have a long way to go, I’ve never butchered a chicken and I’m not sure I could yet, but I can deal with a raw, headless one just fine now. I think it’s important to know where your food comes from. If you’re squeamish about that white meat having once been a furry chick, what in the world are you doing putting it in your mouth? That said, God gave us dominion over the earth and gave us animals to be used for food. Thank you Lord, I really do like meat.

So if I never bought chicken with meat, how did I get bones to make stock? It’s called a sale, and I’m a sucker for one. Sobeys had this BOGO deal on last year that was like, “Buy one package of chicken breasts with the back attached, get one free.” It was cheaper than buying them without the bones, so I figured I could be adventurous and try. I froze them and would pull them out as I needed, taking the breasts off and either using the bones up right away, or freezing them for later. Or just take the scraps from your cooked deli chicken and use those. When you’re feeling really adventurous, buy yourself a raw chicken and roast it yourself. Yum!

Now, what do I mean by veggie cast-offs? You know when you’re cutting carrots and you cut the stem end off and throw it in the garbage or compost? Save it. Celery leaves and ends? Save them. Onion skins? Save them. I got this tip from my sister Sherry, and it is golden. I keep a ziploc bag in the freezer, and anytime I have any veggie bits that would be good for flavouring stock, I throw them in the bag. When I’ve got a bag full of veg that would have normally just ended up as waste, and I’ve got chicken bones, I throw them into a pot, cover them with water, add a generous 1/4 cup of vinegar (it helps draw all the nutrients out of your chicken bones), and let it simmer on the stove all afternoon.

Voila! You’ve got stock for soup. Make soup that evening, or freeze it for later. Freeze it in ice cube trays for making sauces, freeze them in small bags with the equivalent of a can of stock, or freeze it in a big bag to make a big pot of soup with later.

I love hints and tips about frugal living. What are some things you do to make the food budget stretch a little farther?

Someone’s going to smell YUMMY…..

November 15th, 2010

Update: November 26 – I’m going to leave this up for a few more days, so if you haven’t entered already, hop to it!
Here we are. Seven years of blogging, and 300 posts later. Please, if you look back at the early years of this blog, take what you read with a grain of salt. After all, when I started blogging I was 19, and highly disillusioned about a lot of things. My theology was whack at times, which I suppose would make for some good blogging fodder at a later date…maybe. What a road I’ve been walking, from a postmodern relativist to a (trying to be) missional calvinist. The Lord is good to me, and I praise Jesus for saving me.

Well friends, it’s time for me to share some love and give something away! I always get excited when bloggers give stuff away. Usually it’s the big name blogs, who get sponsored giveaways. This giveaway is on little old my blog, sponsored by little old me, but don’t be fooled – it’s going to be AWESOME!

What woman doesn’t love getting her feet pampered? I have yet to meet her.

So ladies, I’m giving this lovely pedicure set to one of you! In it you will find: glass stones and coconut oil for soaking your feet in a big tub of water, a homemade foot scrub, a foot file for scrubbing away all the rough skin, a bottle of No Miss Almost Natural Nail Polish Remover, and a bottle of nail polish – I’ve got two shades for you to choose from.

And those colours are: No Miss Ruskin Raspberry, or Suncoat Tangerine. The polish and polish remover are the experimental part of my gift to you, as I have not tried the No Miss stuff. I am using a different shade of Suncoat polish as this post is written…of course I am giving myself a pedicure. I have to make sure what I am giving away is good!

The star of the show is the homemade scrub. I’m sure we’ve all used products that we thought smelled good enough to eat, but would never dream of actually putting it in our mouth. This one, you can. I won’t judge you if you grab a spoon to have a snack while your feet soak. It’s made of coconut oil, brown sugar, and cinnamon. It smells (and tastes) divine.

So what do you need to do to enter? Leave a comment, but you have to make it more interesting than “Oh! Enter me!” It could be anything from your favourite colour to paint your nails and why, to why you like to read my blog – are there topics I write about that interest you, are there things you’d like to hear me talk more about? I make no promises, but suggestions are nice :) As an aside, if you don’t like reading my blog, don’t leave a comment…I digress… You could talk about why you like to blog, your favourite flower or something else random and interesting about you, or a favourite scripture passage that has encouraged you recently. Basically, anything but, “Oh! Enter me!”

Contest closes when I think a sufficient amount of people have entered. I don’t know how often people check back here since my writing is so sporadic, so when I think there’s been sufficient traffic on this post I’ll draw someone’s name out of a hat. I’m high-tech like that.

Smell like a million bucks.

November 10th, 2010

Product roundup time. A while back I was talking about all the stinky junk that’s sitting on the store shelves, and not in my house. So what’s in my house? I’m glad you asked! This will be a series of two posts, today’s focusing on personal care items, and the next installment will be about other around-the-house stuff. So here’s the play-by-play.

Shampoo: I haven’t used shampoo and conditioner to clean my hair for over a year. It was just such a battle to find a product I could use that not only wouldn’t give me a headache, but also wouldn’t bother Clay – we seem to have different sensitivities to smells. On top of that, shampoo just gets darn expensive. To wash, I now use a baking soda and water solution, and for conditioner I use an apple cider vinegar and water solution. (Get the low-down here) My hair is so healthy, and so manageable. I don’t even need to use styling junk anymore. Although, sometimes I do use a touch of coconut oil to smooth out the few crazy hairs on top. Go easy on the oil, it will make you look greasy fast.
Clay, while very supportive of the things I do around here, isn’t really interested in going this route. He’s been using this Nature Clean Unscented stuff. We use this on the kids as well.

Hand soap: For a long time, we used our shampoo as hand soap as well. Then we found Kiss My Face fragrance free moisture soap, and it has replaced the shampoo in the soap pump. No parabens, (plastic-softening, hormone-disrupting chemicals) or sodium lauryl sulphate (makes things sudsy, but is also really drying on your skin). It’s really nice soap, and (say it with me now) doesn’t stink!

Lotion: I should have one more item pictured in this photo, but I’m not in the mood for a re-do. As far as mainstream lotion goes, we use Aveeno. Don’t spend more on the baby version – it’s the same as the regular one pictured here! Recently I started using coconut oil as a moisturizer, and while it does take a little more time to soak in, it works really well. I like that it’s one ingredient that I can pronounce, and it’s something you can (and should!) eat, so I feel good about it soaking into my body. Another thing we use around here is shea butter, which is amazing, though it can get pretty pricey if you don’t have a sister who brings it straight from Africa for you :)


Deodorant: I don’t even remember how long I’ve been doing this, probably about 9 months. I make my own deodorant out of coconut oil, baking soda, and corn starch. It is honestly the absolute best deodorant I have ever used. No chemical laden antiperspirant can compare with how this homemade stuff works! I first read about it here, which gives a great explanation about the ‘why’, and the ‘how’ (recipe) is here. I used to keep it in an old deodorant tube, but it really is easier just to put a little on your fingers. Once a day. No stink. Even in summer. Seriously.

Facial Cleanser: Sorry, no photo for this. I wash my face with oil. Sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? You can read all about the Oil Cleansing Method (OCM) here. It really works. My skin is so happy when I give it a little love.

So there you have it, a nutshell of what goes on my skin. I love being able to find a lot of the ingredients I need for getting clean in my kitchen. I feel so much better about putting stuff on my body that I know is safe to go in my body. I’m no expert, but hopefully the links I provided shed some light, and if you have questions please ask, I like talking about this stuff :)
Hey, does anyone have some insight on toothpaste for me? Most of the ‘natural’ toothpastes are flouride free – what’s so bad about fluoride? I know I could find out if I just looked for info, but if someone out there can inform me, then that’s easier.

And stay tuned for my giveaway coming up! My next post will be my 300th, and I’m gearing up to give away something fun in honour of the occasion :)

298: Revisiting “Cool”

October 31st, 2010

My blog dashboard tells me how many posts I’ve published. I’m so in the groove of posting my daily photos, that when I come to this blog I immediately enter the post number in my title. Today it’s 298.

Don’t you think blogs that give stuff away are fun? I do. I like winning stuff. Even if it’s something small, like a notepad. So when I make my 300th post, be on the lookout for a giveaway. I don’t know what, but I just want to give something away. I hope it will be cool, but I’m not very, so I make no guarantees. Now hear this, I’m not putting myself down. I do recognize that I’m cool in my own way, I’m just not stereotypically cool. Whatever that is….I am more and more out of touch with the definition of cool the farther I get away from high school. Thank you, Lord. What I think would be cool is a kitchen gadget, or fair trade chocolate, or one of my photos in a frame (would anyone like that?), or maybe a robot that does laundry, washes dishes, sweeps and washes floors, and shovels the sidewalk while you sleep. I don’t think I’d give that away. If I had one, I’d keep it for myself. No offense.

So stay tuned. A giveaway is on the way.

Getting Real About Raw Milk

October 21st, 2010

Those of you who keep up with my 365 Project might remember a post I made at the end of July about raw milk. Since that time, I got connected with another farm and had been getting between 1 and 2 gallons each week. For all the reasons I stated in the 365 post (and more), I really felt like I was doing something good for my family by getting milk straight from a source I trusted. I knew there were risks, but the benefits seemed to outweigh them. Raw milk is nutritionally superior to pasteurized milk, and I stand behind that statement.

When we left for Seattle, Wyatt was battling a bit of diarrhea. After a doctor recommended my mom (my parents stayed with the kids while we were gone) cut dairy out of his diet to give his gut a break, his symptoms cleared up. We didn’t know what the problem was, but were glad it was taken care of. The day after we got home, I got really sick. I also had diarrhea, and felt quite nauseated. Four days later, Markus was showing similar symptoms. At that point I went to see a doctor and he had some tests done. He seemed sure it was viral, but ordered the tests just to be sure. Public health called me the following week to inform me I had Cryptosporidium. I had to give a play-by-play of what and where I had eaten while we were on the west coast, so they could check other databases and see if my information matched up with any other reported cases. I assumed I had picked it up in Seattle, that Markus got it from me, and Wyatt’s illness was unrelated.

So what does this have to do with raw milk? Maybe nothing, maybe everything.
Maybe my initial thoughts were correct – maybe Wyatt’s problem was unrelated. Maybe I became infected on our trip, and maybe I passed it on to Markus.
Maybe the milk made us all sick. Markus got sick only 4 days after me, and the average crypto illness shows symptoms 7-10 days after infection. The timing of everyone’s sickness doesn’t seem to compute if it were unrelated to the milk.
I really don’t know where this came from, but I do feel unsettled about the milk now. Given the possibility that it made us sick, I’m not interested in taking the chance that we could get sick with something else. If it was crypto this time, what next – listeria? No thanks.

To be honest, I didn’t even want to post about this. I was fighting a battle, sticking it to The Man who said I couldn’t drink unpasteurized milk if i wanted to. Oh yeah, you wanna bet?! I was triumphant about beating the system and coming out of it with food that I felt was better for us. Now I have reasonable enough doubts to say it was perhaps not the best idea. I’m okay with that. Don’t we all do things that are unwise? While I sometimes feel like I’m out to prove something, I guess this just goes to show that all I’m proving is that I don’t know everything, and there is always room for us to learn and grow. And I’ll grow in spite of my pasteurized milk.

Pumpkin Scones

October 19th, 2010

Once upon a time, my sister Jude got me hooked on Starbucks Pumpkin Scones. I was determined to make them myself, and found a recipe online that was pretty similar. I’ve done some modifying myself, and now these don’t taste as much like the Starbucks ones. But don’t worry. They’re better. I never buy them at Starbucks anymore because they look so unappetizing compared to mine. Try them, you will love them!

1 C all-purpose flour
1 C whole wheat flour
1/3 C sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
1/3 C cold butter
½ C canned pumpkin
3 Tbsp half-and-half
1 large egg

1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
2. Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, cut the butter in until the mixture is crumbly and no big chunks of butter remain. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, half-and-half, and the egg. Fold this wet mixture into the dry ingredients. Form the dough into a ball – it’ll be sticky, so be prepared to get your hands dirty.
4. Pat the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form it into a 1-inch thick rectangle, about 9×3 inches. Slice the dough twice through the width, making three equal portions. Cut those three slices diagonally so that you have 6 triangular slices of dough. For smaller scones, cut each triangle in half again.
5. Place on parchment covered baking sheet, and bake for 12–15 minutes, until scones turn light brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Plain Glaze:
1/2 C icing sugar
1 T half-and-half
Whisk the powdered sugar and cream together until smooth.
When scones are cool, use a brush to paint plain glaze over the top of each scone.

Spiced Glaze Drizzle:
To the remaining plain glaze, add:
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
icing sugar to thicken

Whisk the spices into the plain glaze,and add extra icing sugar if necessary to get a firmer consistency. When the plain glaze has dried, drizzle this thicker icing over each scone and allow the glaze to dry before serving (at least 1 hour).

Makes 6 large or 12 small scones

Natural Childbirth

September 25th, 2010

I’ve discovered a new fascination in my life: natural childbirth.
Having 3 vaginal births under my belt (wow, that was unexpectedly punny, you must admit), I would not characterize any of them as ‘natural’. All of them have been artificially induced for different reasons, the first had me laid up with an epidural for 7 hours, and the second two with an epidural administered only minutes before I felt the “I’ve got to push NOW!” urge – those epidurals didn’t do anything except make me angry at the anesthetist (and if you think I was ticked, you should hear Clay’s side of the story). Add to that pitocin, electronic fetal monitoring (constant with Bailey’s labour)….it all adds up to your typical hospital delivery, really. I thought it was all par for the course. This is, after all, modern medicine. This is modern day birth. With all the medical intervention involved in the birth of my 3 children, I look back and marvel at the gracious miracle that I never had to have a c-section.

I have to give credit to my cousin Lindsay, and friend Angie for making me take a step back and reconsider what I know about having a baby.
Lindsay, after the birth of her daughter, was convinced there had to be a better way than what is considered ‘normal’ in a hospital, so she set out to find what that was. When she read about The Bradley Method of natural childbirth, it made sense. So much sense that she learned all she could about it, and is now a certified instructor! She is passionate about pregnancy and birth, and if you want to know more about natural childbirth, taking a Bradley natural childbirth class would be worth your baby’s weight in gold.
Angie gave birth to her son at home, in a pool, with a midwife. She plans to do the same in a few months with her second baby. Honestly, I thought she was crazy. (I love you, Ang!) Never in a million years would I have considered doing something like that. But I then had to ask myself why? Why would I never do that? Because I didn’t know anything about it. The unknown is a scary thing. I was at Ang’s house to make supper for her when her midwife stopped in for a checkup. The contrast between this checkup and the type I was accustomed to with Healthy & Home visits was startling. Her midwife, immediately brought a sense of calm into the room. This was a woman who obviously had great respect for the process of birth, and for the instincts of a new mom. She made me want to know more. And it was very clear to me that Angie was anything but crazy for having chosen the kind of birth she did.

I got the documentary The Business of Being Born from the library. I know this is about American health care, and I know the Canadian system is different. To a degree. But whether our health care system does what it does for monetary reasons like the US, or just for the sake of being efficient with time, the outcome is the same. Most women give birth in a hospital with medical intervention, for the simple fact that they have not been taught that they are capable without it. There are other ways of doing things. You can view the trailer here:

You would think, wouldn’t you, that when a medicated and natural birth are presented side by side, the medicated birth would look more appealing? Anything but. As I sat watching the film, I was in awe. My jaw dropped and tears rolled down my face as I saw the unexplainable joy that was so evident in the natural births. I knew without a doubt, that if I were blessed to have another child, I would do everything I could to give birth naturally. Maybe even at home in a pool, as crazy as it may sound!

I don’t look back on the births of my 3 miracles, and regret the choices I made. It would do me no good to look back on each experience and think about all the things I could have done differently. I did the best I could do with the information I had, and by God’s grace I have 3 healthy children. Given what I know now though, if there is a next time, I will do a lot of things differently. This is not to say I don’t think modern medical intervention doesn’t have a place – it certainly does. I just think that for the majority of births, intervention isn’t necessary. Obstetrics today seem to try to take normal, uncomplicated birth and turn it into something complicated, all for the sake of being ‘efficient’, rather than being there just for the small percentage of births that really need a doctor’s help. And I am definitely thankful there are qualified and capable doctors for those situations – let me be very clear on that!

I’m currently reading Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and Husband Coached Childbirth, and can hardly put them down. With every page I just keep thinking, “Why didn’t anyone tell me this before?!” I highly recommend them if your curiosity starts to get the best of you.

Brick Wall

August 5th, 2010

I like this photo. I like the contrast of the old wall against the twinkling lights in the distance. They give me hope.

I’ve been feeling lately like I’ve hit a brick wall. I am so unmotivated. I don’t want to plan meals, I don’t want to cook, I don’t want to do laundry, or clean up, or keep the budget on track, because I’m tired and it’s all so messy, and it’s going to just get messy again. Messy. That’s life I guess.

What do you do though, when you hit a brick wall? What do you do when motivation just can’t be found? How do you just keep doing the stuff that needs doing, when you don’t want to do it?

Of gelfoam, german measles, and grumpy receptionists. And glory.

July 28th, 2010

This might be the last time I bore you with horror stories about my teeth….then again, it might not be.
So I think the gelfoam cloves thingy came out today when I was religiously doing my salt water rinsing. It had to have, because about an hour later I was getting more than uncomfortable. Then an hour after that I was seriously in pain again. So after taking the kids to the doctor (which is a whole other fiasco, and long story short – they have parvovirus, NOT three day measles/german measles/rubella like the doc diagnosed them yesterday), I called the dental office again. By now I know the drill:
“Hi, this is Kim Bitner calling. I was in on Friday to have my wisdom teeth removed, and was back in yesterday because of a dry socket. He put some gelfoam in but it came out, and I’m not sure if I should come in again or not…”
And she says something like, “Well what did you hope was going to happen by calling?”
Uhhhhh…..I hoped I could come get another one put in, that’s what.
She proceeds to tell me that basically I’ll have to just suffer through it, it should run its course in 7-10 days, that the gelfoam doesn’t help with the healing so there’s no point in me coming back in. No point? I wanted to scream. The point would be to relieve some of the pain! I know you can’t believe everything you read online, but everything I’ve read online about dry socket says dentists will usually get you back in every 1 or 2 days to redo it until it’s healed. So what I said a few posts back about the nicest staff in my dentist’s office? I partially take it back. They’re all nice, except for this lady. (Lord, please give me grace to love my enemies.)
So I had a meltdown on the phone with Clay, and by the time he got home from work it was starting to feel a little better. He thought maybe we should call Dr. N directly since he gave us his number, but I didn’t want to be a pain…so I figured if it doesn’t get better by tomorrow, I’d call the office again. Clay said he’d been praying for me since we talked on the phone, and had asked our pastor to pray for me as well.
You know….I’m really not one to jump around and yell, “I’ve been healed!” when I start to show improvement. I’ve seen too many not believable ‘healings’ to jump to quick conclusions. But…I’m starting to think I’ve been healed. Whether it is temporary or permanent, thank you Jesus for the past few hours I’ve had without pain.

What’s going on here?!

July 27th, 2010

I was back to see Dr. N today, thanks to the crazy pain on the left side of my mouth, and was told I had a dry socket. He put some gelfoam thing in that has oil of cloves in it, so I’m constantly tasting cloves but who the heck cares – it feels SO much better! He was also laughing about how funny I was with the nitrous oxide…I totally forgot this until today, but when I woke up at one point I pulled the gas thing off my nose and exclaimed, “What’s going on here?!” I think that’s when I went on about the good long dream.
Makes me glad I don’t do drugs regularly… I’d hate to think there were a bunch of people out there laughing at my (unknown to me) stupidity.

To sleep, perchance to dream.

July 27th, 2010

I’m sitting here with my feet up (literally), and figured now’s a good time to update the ole blog. Most days, if I’m sitting down with my computer I feel like I should be doing something else. Today though, I know I should just be taking things easy. Why?

On Friday I did something I thought I’d never have to endure…I had my wisdom teeth removed. I’m sure we’ve all heard our share of horror stories about how awful an experience it is, not only in the dentist’s chair, but in the healing as well. Obviously it’s something I never hoped I’d have to do, and really never thought I’d need to do. My wisdom teeth never really bothered me, save for the few days a year when they’d move a little and I’d be a little uncomfortable. But nothing major. I used to have a great dentist, but he retired about 2 years ago, and the people who took over his office seemed less than trustworthy. I felt like they were just going to try to make me get unnecessary procedures done, so I stopped going. I was passively looking for a new dentist, but nothing urgent. Earlier this year though, I knew I needed to get Markus to see a dentist for the first time, so the search was on again. A friend of mine recommended her dentist, who is a friend of theirs. So off Markus, Clay, and I went. People, you could not find a nicer dentist, nicer staff, or nicer dental office. I know I know, everyone thinks their dentist is great, but come on. Really. You’ve got nothing on me.

Anyway, about the teeth. I only had 3 wisdom teeth, and none of them had actually come all the way through. I was told they never would, and as time went on they’d get more difficult to keep clean. He could almost guarantee that at some point they’d give me trouble, and it would be better to get them out now than later. The younger you are, they easier you heal. On top of that, the sedation they use cannot be given to someone who’s pregnant, so chalk up another reason to get it over and done with now. (Okay, I’m not going to get into that right now, except to say that we’re probably not done having kids.)

So Friday was the day. I had to take a drug the night before, some kind of anti-anxiety thing, and then they gave me something else when I got there to make me more relaxed and tired, and once that started kicking in, they got me in the chair with some nitrous oxide. I wasn’t sure about the whole idea of it, but I am so thankful for it now. As it started working, I remember laying there and I just started giggling. I wondered if the dental hygienist would notice (her back was turned to me) so I tried to stop, and I just giggled more…and then I must have fallen asleep. I woke up and Dr. N asked me how I was feeling. “I just had a big long dream!” He laughed, told me to try to have another one, and then I guess I fell asleep again. I woke up every now and then and would notice him working, sometimes he’d have to wake me to tell me to open wide, and I remember him pulling one tooth, and I remember seeing the needle and thread as he stitched me up… gross, right? But it didn’t seem gross, it was just like, “Oh, he’s stitching me. That’s nice.”

When everything was done, they took me down to my waiting chauffeur (Clay, of course), and home we went. It’s been a few days of very regular pain pill popping, ice packs, pureed soup, ice cream, yogurt, salt water rinsing, lots of rest, a few moments of tears when the pain was too intense, and a bit of a panic attack last night when I took my eyes off the one who holds me in his hands. I am so thankful for my husband, who reminded me that Jesus is in control and is worthy of my complete trust, and who took such good care of me and let me rest while he looked after the little ones.

So that’s my story for the last few days, not really in a nutshell. If anyone actually read all this, thanks. You’re sweet for humoring me :) And you know what? My wonderful children have been playing (nicely!) upstairs the entire time I’ve been writing this. Thanks, Jesus.

A Grand Illusion

July 19th, 2010

Clean kitchens. We see them on TV, we see them in magazines, we see them we see them online, and in home decor books. Perfect kitchens. Everything in its place. No clutter. Everyone must keep their home looking like this…after all, they wouldn’t lie to us, would they? And if you have a kitchen that looks nothing like the picture perfect ones you see, there must be something wrong with you, and why can’t you just keep tidy?! Well, I have a confession to make. It may come as a shock to you, but my kitchen doesn’t usually look like this. In fact, it rarely looks like this. I cleaned it for the express purpose of taking this photo. Most of the time my kitchen somewhere between the extreme of the photo above, and the photo below:
I’m convinced you can’t keep your kitchen immaculately clean and still cook in it. This Martha Stewart ideal that we have in our minds of being able to cook, garden, craft, and entertain in a spotless home is false. Martha Stewart is not only a woman, she is a corporation. She doesn’t do all that on her own. Or how about Real Simple magazine? Anytime I flip through it I want to throw out 3/4 of my stuff so I can have a home that looks like one in its pages. Every one of those photos is professionally staged – people don’t live like that. They just don’t.
It dawned on me a little while ago that every time I clean my kitchen, it’s so I have room to make a mess again. It never stays clean. And that’s fine. Really! Now that I finally understand that it’s not realistic to keep my kitchen spotless all the time, I don’t mind a little mess so much. A little mess shows that people live here. It shows that food is prepared here, and bodies are nourished here. I’ll take a messy kitchen and the smell of homemade lasagne baking in the oven, over a clean kitchen and the convenience of frozen food any day. I’m thankful for a God who provides, and a husband who works hard, so that I can be at home to make a mess with real food in my kitchen.

A few more photos

July 4th, 2010

Apparently that series of posts on cloth diapering took a lot out of me! Sorry for not showing my face on this blog for a while. Life gets busy. So, until I am geared up with energy to tackle some more posts about how I’m different, I thought I would just share some photos from the last while that I like, but didn’t make it to my 365 project blog.
(Okay I just finished making this collage in Photoshop. I thought it would be a few quick clicks and then I’d be off to bed….and it took me about an hour and a half. I hope you enjoy all my hard work :) NOW I’m off to bed)

Cloth Diapers: Demystified

June 14th, 2010

The posts below explain cloth diapering as it applies to my life, and in our household. My intent in writing these posts is simply to explain my thought process on how I got to where I am as a mommy when it comes to diapering my baby, and to shed a little light on a subject that doesn’t get talked about a whole lot. I wish I would have cloth diapered from the very beginning, and while I can’t go back and change it, I can tell you all about my experience and maybe inspire you to try it as well.

I’m not saying everyone should do cloth, and I’m not to say that it’s wrong to use disposables. I just want to help people who were like me -with misinformation or no information about cloth diapering- to gain a better understanding of it.

It’s really not old-fashioned, it’s really not inconvenient, and it’s really not that gross. it’s the poop that’s gross, not the diaper type.