Friday, October 29, 2010

your love, oh Lord

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This Third Day Song has always been a favorite of mine.

Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
O LORD, you preserve both man and beast.
How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalms 36: 5-7 NIV

But just for fun, read the differences in the Inspire Version:

5 O Lord, thou art in the heavens; they are full of thy mercy. And the thoughts of a righteous man ascendeth up unto thee whose throne is far above the clouds. 
6 He is filled with thy righteousness like the great mountains, and with thy judgments like a great deep. O Lord, thou preservest man and beast. 

7 How excellent is thy loving-kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

Either way, a powerful statement of the Lord and his love!

Mean and Rotten Mama

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My mom had this phrase she would say, when she finally got tired of us asking why:

"Because I'm a Mean and Rotten Mother, and proud of it!"

That certainly interjects some humor into a tense moment.

We kids often said we wanted to make a t-shirt for our mom that said "Mean and Rotten Parent" (you know, so it would be non-gender specific).

Now, as a parent, I think I need to make that shirt for myself.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

sing me a song

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My family of origin has a long history of making up our own songs.  Or, rather, borrowing other people's tunes and setting our own lyrics.

My brother Jeremy has some rather wonderful songs that he's made, that I still sing today.

Here are a couple of variations on a camp song called "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean."

My Bonnie lies over a gastank.
It's contents were too hard to see.
She then lit a match to assist her
Oh, bring back my bonnie to me!


Im Eenob seil revo et neso
Im Eenob seil revo et ees
Im Eenob seil revo et neso
Ho, g-nirb cab im eenob ot em!

g-nirb cab,  g-nirb cab
g-nirb cab im eenob ot em, ot em!

g-nirb cab,  g-nirb cab
g-nirb cab im eenob ot em!

The original lyrics as I recall them are as follows.  You might notice that the previous song lyrics are, essentially, a singing of the words backwards, but in proper order.

My Bonnie lies over the ocean
my bonnie lies over the sea
my bonnie lies over the ocean
Oh bring back my bonnie to me!

bring back, bring back, 
Oh bring back 
my bonnie to me, to me!
bring back, bring back! 
oh bring back 
my bonnie to me!

But.  This post is not about my brother, as fond as I am of him and his lyrics.

This is about my daughter, Elizabeth.  Who, at 3.75 years old, takes after her Mama, and has begun singing her own words to songs, and has begun conversing with me in song, as I do with her.

And it cracks me up.  I wish I could recall a particular instance for you, but it's not so much what she says that is funny, but that she's even doing it at all!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Wailin' Jennys

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My brother called me today to tell me to take a listen to a group called The Wailin' Jennys.  He said he was listening to Pandora, and this came up.

He thought I would like them, and he's right.  I think I'm going to have to find an album of theirs!

fall leaves

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Fall is here, sitting in deep piles in my back yard.

Requiring hours raking, and hauling leaves.

Dictating that we must take time to pause, and enjoy the crunch of the leaves before consigning them to a life of compost.

Oh, the joy of playing in the leaves for the first time! And the second, and the third!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

14/14 week 6

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I'll be honest.  I feel a bit like a failure.  For the past 3 weeks, I've been stalled out for a variety of reasons.  I have actually gained weight in the past week, above my starting weight.

That's all I have to say about week 6.

I'm looking forward to week 7. It started out on a good foot - I started over on the program I wrote about following.  Not hard, since I did one day of that program last week.

So, today marks a new week, and a new opportunity to whip the body into shape.

I'm really wishing I had a mom's helper to watch the kids for about an hour and a half, in the morning, each day. My best exercising time is in the morning.  That's when I have the most energy, and by exercising early, I don't have to try to figure out how to fit it in later, or try to motivate myself at 9 pm when the kids are finally (hopefully!) in bed, asleep.

I press onward.  I can do this.

I really need to get a handle on the food part, though.  Last week, the kids and I ate through a whole pan of cinnamon rolls, with me being the primary consumer. There's been lots of heavy eating on the weekends at activities and get-togethers.  I struggle with restraining myself to eating only a little bit of something, and tend to stuff myself with sweets. I grab a something as I walk past the table.  Ah, self-discipline!  And the whole time, I'm thinking about how each dessert I eat is making it that much harder to reach my goals.  Why don't I restrain myself?

I mentally understand the things I should be doing to be healthier, and to loose weight. I clearly have difficulty making it a way of life.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

lucky me

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I've won some things from blog giveaways recently, and I thought I'd give a shout out to the blogs and the winnings.

Rockin' Green Cloth Diaper Degergent, laundry scoop and pail freshener from the Knickernappies Blog.

Maroon5 concert tickets, courtesy of Wishing Penny. I won't be going to the concert, as they are a gift for my husband and he'll be at work the week of the concert (which will be in the city where he'll be working that week.)

A "Babies" Blu-ray DVD from MovieMom. We watched this as soon as we got it. Elizabeth giggled a lot at the babies and their antics.  Nathanael happily exclaimed "Baby!" throughout the movie.

A while back, I won a couple of diapers, a fun little dress up set for Elizabeth, and a stuffed animal.

Now, lets be honest about how much time I'm putting in compared to my winnings.  I have entered more than 200 giveaways.  If I spent only 5 minutes at each giveaway, that would be 1000 minutes.  16.6 hours. That's a lot of time. The approximate retail value for all that stuff is $275.23.  That means, according to those numbers, that I average about $16.50 per hour.

You know, that's really better than I than I thought it would be.  I hadn't actually figure the numbers, but I know I spent a lot of time. 

Maybe entering giveaways isn't such a waste of time!

Friday, October 22, 2010

unfinished projects

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I have a tendency to think up fun little projects, and either not start them, or get almost done, and quit.

Some projects that I have in the works:

wool dryer balls - round one of felting complete
a closet curtain for the kids - bought the fabric
doll clothes for Elizabeth- again, acquiring more and more fabric
a quilt for a relative - bought the material (twice, since the mice chewed on it in storage)
upcyclced wool diaper covers - bought the cheap sweaters!
homemade dishwashing detergent - I have some of the hard to get supplies, but I haven't taken the time to buy the easy stuff and just mix it up.

I know I have others sitting around that I have forgotten about.

I just procrastinate.  Sometimes, I have a project almost completed, and then I think, well, it'll just take a little bit to finish it, so I'll do that later.  (?!?)

An example of this last one - I had finally decided on a particular online purchase after hours of looking, comparing, and waffling. I had it in the shopping cart, and I almost got up to go do something else, because I could "just come back to it later."  I saw the flawed thinking, and decided to just go ahead and finish it.  I spent this long on it already.  Another 3 minutes would not suddenly change anything.

I have other things that are really for other people that I need to finish, but haven't. A big one is finishing the drawings for a new storage area for youth camp/ministries supplies.  I took the measurements.  I just need to haul out my graph paper and plot out some very simple plans.  We can't build unless I have the plans done.  Slacker me.

The kids' room is waiting for me to finish painting.  Jude has some work to do in there before I can paint one wall, but the rest of the room I could do.  But I haven't.

Sometimes, I get caught up in trying to decide which one to work on first.  Since I struggle to prioritize, I just don't do any of them.  That is a fast road to nothing done.

This weekend, I will work on the storage plans.  Those have the most impact on other people being able to complete a project.  I will get it done!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

14/14 week 5

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Well, I just finished week 5.  Not mu most shining week.  I did indeed exercise 2 days early in the week.  Well, technically the second day was not on a treadmill or anything, but I was outside from about 9:30 to 5, with the exception of an hour and a half or so for lunch and starting naps, raking leaves, hauling leaves, hauling wood, and mowing the lawn (with some nice steep hills!).  I felt that I did more than a 30 minutes worth of treadmill walking.

After that, things didn't go so well.  Kids were not feeling well, so they were not sleeping well and clingy and whiny for several days.  Dealing with that took precedence. Exercising did not occur.

I'm still tired from last week.

But this week, week 6 will be better.  I found the exercise program from way back, when I actually lost weight after my previous pregnancy. It requires that I increase my exercise to 6 days a week. It shall be done!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

NTDI: episode 10 - don't believe customer service

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I have called the customer service line for my Electrolux front loading washing machine a couple of times, trying to figure out if there was a particular setting that would give more water per weight of clothes in the machine.  I have been on a quest to maximize the amount of water I use when I wash my cloth diapers, in an effort to keep the stink out of the diapers. (Generally doing well on that front - no ammonia burn/stink, but there's an odd, funky smell I would like to get out of the diapers)

Each time I called, I was essentially told that no, the water only fills based on weight, and doesn't vary the water based on the setting selection.  I knew it filled based on weight. But.  If that's the case, why the options in settings?

So I figured the customer service reps are no engineers, and likely aren't trying to wash cloth diapers with whatever brand of machine they own.  Meaning, they really have no clue.

I tested a few cycles with my machine, with no clothes in it, to see how much water it gave for the same non-weight.

Although I couldn't directly measure the amount of water in the machine, I did my next best - if I started it on the setting I suspected of using the least amount of water, would it add more water mid-cycle if I switched it to a different setting?

Indeed, it did.

Thus far I have concluded that on my washing machine, Normal gives me the least amount of water (seems to be the same as whites, and heavy duty) Casual gives me slightly more water, and delicate give me the most water.  This completely backs up what I've read other blogs across the internet.  Delicate settings give more water than other settings.  The disadvantage of the delicate setting is that I can't use hot water.  I can use hot water on the casual setting, which certainly gives me more water than other settings that use hot water.

Customer service clearly doesn't know everything!

I'm tinkering with my wash settings.  I can use a warm wash on the delicate setting, and that might get the job done with the diapers.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

14/14 week 4

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Apparently I'm a slow mover when it comes to numbers on the scale.

I will not give up.

Same number as last week.  I keep forgetting to find my measuring tape to check my measurements.  It's possible that I'm loosing inches but not weight.  That would be okay by me!  I Just need to figure out where I hid my measure in all of my moving boxes!

Last week was good, in general.  I feel like I've been consuming smaller portions, and I've been pretty consistently getting daily minutes in my workout.  Last week, I did 160 minutes! (I know, you hard workers out there might not think that's a lot, but some days, even 10 minutes feels like an eternity.)

Last week was also tiring, in that I was pretty exhausted, and the children were (and still are) sick with runny/stuffy noses, coughs, congestion, and general whininess, that is bleeding over into this week.

I will admit that the first day of week 5 was a no go for exercise with the crying, clinging kids. Better luck tomorrow.

I'll be adding more outdoor physical exertion to my daily routine.  It's (supposedly) fall, and that means our outdoor wood burning furnace is fired up and needs to be fed on a daily basis.  So, I go outside, rake the coals and ashes around, toss in several logs, and shut the door.  Weight lifting, you know?

The leaves are also falling off the trees, and we have lots, and lots (and Lots!) of trees in and around our yard.  Leaf raking is almost a daily activity if we want to keep up with it.

I love this time of year, so having a good excuse to be out in great weather is no problem! 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Homemade Vanilla Extract - 2 months later

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Since it's been about two months since I started my homemade vanilla extract, I thought it high time to see how my product is doing.

By color - Nice and dark.  By smell, upon first opening the bottle - Ahhh... Vanilla!!!

By comparison:

I though I'd give a try at comparing a bit of my vanilla extract with the my store bought version.

I grabbed a graduated medicine dropper, and put .5 mil of each extract into two small glass cups. I sniffed, I looked, I tasted. I brought the cups to Jude, and asked him to compare them.

I smelled them. I couldn't tell much difference. I thought the store extract smelled slightly sweeter.  Jude though mine was slightly sweeter.  Maybe we're both confused.

I tasted mine.  I thought - yuck!  Tastes like alcohol! Then I tasted the store extract.  Same thing!  Apparently I've never tasted vanilla extract before?  Why I should be shocked that something that is 40% alcohol tastes that way is beyond me... Anyway, the point being, they tasted relatively similar.  Mine was the slightest bit weaker in vanilla flavor, I thought.

I swirled them around a bit, looking at the samples in different lights.  I think the store extract was just a bit darker than my homemade extract.

My conclusion?  After 8 weeks, it is totally a usable vanilla extract.  I think that another few months will really improve the flavor.  Since I initially made the extract with the intent to let it sit for 4-6 months before use, finding that it appears to be a good product at 2 months is great!

I highly recommend giving a go at making your own vanilla extract. It's cheaper than store bought, and I think that in a few months it well taste better than store bought, too (as opposed to tasting the same as right now).  If this much vanilla extract is a bit much for you, consider splitting a bottle with some one - share costs, or share some as a gift.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

at the garden's end

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We've had our first frost warning.  The days of harvesting (in minute amounts) our produce are wrapping up.  My garden stragglers are:

Lettuce and Spinach (replanted for fall harvest a few weeks ago)

Strawberries (barely holding on - I think the remaining blossoms might not ripen with the cool weather)

Herbs - Chives, thyme, and parsley

 (It's too dark to go outside and take photos of the herbs. Poor herbs.  So neglected.  And under photographed.  Just not very exciting, you know? No flowers, no fruits, just doing their thing, being all herby.)

And, the Garlic that Never Dies:

Here's the tale of the garlic - Several years ago, I got a bulb of garlic to plant.  One bulb, broken into cloves and planted in the spring.  I let them stay in the ground over winter.  The next summer, I got some nice garlic bulbs.  I thought I got all of them up.  Wrong. This spring, Low, and behold, garlic growing!  Several good-sized clumps! I uprooted them and transported them, and after a week or two of garlic abuse, I planted maybe half in a container.  This summer, when they started to dry out, I pulled up all the garlic, and let it dry.  They aren't very big bulbs, but good enough.  We moved the planter up here.  Lo, and behold, there are little garlic shoots!  I'm curious to see how they fare over winter.  The garlic that keeps on giving.

Here are some honeybees, hard at work stealing our sugar water for the hummingbirds.  There were quite a few of them buzzing around the wildflowers in front of the house.

I feel like I should do a wrap of of everything.  Back in March when we started on this, I really was hopeful that my container garden would flourish.  Considering my brown thumb, I think things turned out well.

I managed to get edible produce from all of the varieties of plants I started with, even if it was only 3 snow peas or a handful of green beans.

I grew the following plants over the past several months:

snow peas, lettuce, spinach, onions, garlic, green beans, zucchini, peppers (green, yellow, and purple!), sunflowers, strawberries, tomatoes and my herbs - parsley, thyme, and chives.

I think the strawberries were the most successful, even though we got just a dozen or so at a time.  Only enough to enjoy a sweet snack once in a while, and not enough to make anything with. I will admit, most everyone else passed on what our little garden provided.  I enjoyed it, though!

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


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I must say that I chuckled when I saw that my posts recently are sandwiched thusly:

Trying to loose weight!  Exercising!  Eating right! Tell the World about it!

Awwww.. My baby is so cute... Wait - he's not a baby any more!  Focus... Focus...

Trying to loose weight!  Exercising!  Eating right!

Yummm.... Pumpkin Muffins!

STILL Trying to loose weight!  Exercising!  Eating right!

14/14 week 3

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I just completed week 3 of my 14/14 challenge. I'm a little behind, but I'm not too worried.  At least I'm moving!

This week saw the first official drop in weight!  Yay!  I'm one pound less than my starting weight.

During the course of week 3, I increased the intensity of my workouts by using the incline feature on my treadmill. I was able to burn more calories in less time, simply by walking up hill!!  Awesome, since I should practice hills anyway - we live about 75 feet above the surrounding terrain, so going for a walk anywhere involves some hill climbing.  I missed one day of exercise last week, but I'm on track already for this week.

I've been doing a little better with my food - smaller portions, and I've been fighting against my self-sabotaging tendencies with some success.  I decided that I would buy a small carton of ice cream at the store.  Knowing that it's available had, oddly enough, reduced my urge to go out and buy soft serve ice cream when we are out.  Scratch that.  Not reduced the urge, but allowed me a method of reasonable deferment. Maybe it works because if we're out, and I want ice cream, I can tell myself that If I want ice cream that much, I can wait and have it at home. And by the time I get home, I'm usually busy enough that I forget about it.

More on the self-sabotage -

Here's how it works.  I had decided that I wanted to loose weight before I do a specific something.  But, it's like I kept myself from reaching that goal every time I would go out and buy a treat.  And I know that, because of the running commentary in my head - 'you know, if you just pass on it this one time, it will be easier the next time, and you'll be that much closer to your goal' 'but, if I eat this, then I WON'T loose the weight.  There are advantages to not loosing weight - like not having to do the thing you want to do, because that thing?  Fun, but hard. do you really want that? maybe not yet? eat the ice cream." That kind of self defeating talk. I guess the short version is that I would consume sweets fully aware that I was moving away from my goal.  There was no ignorance about it involved.  That's self-sabotage.

Maybe, by giving myself permission to keep and eat ice cream (my favorite sweet) in the house, it takes it out of the 'forbidden fruit' category.  I'm hoping.

Ultimately, I think there are some things wrapped up in the thing that I want to do, which are entirely separate from my weight.  What that means is that I need to figure out how to disentangle the two in my head, and not make doing the something contingent upon a weight/body goal.  Not as easy as it would seem, if it were something as simple as buying a new book.

Work in progress.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Annual Pumpkin Muffin Day

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Today is annual pumpkin muffin day, the first official day of pumpkin muffin season.  A group of (mostly) women that I associate with have this pumpkin muffin recipe. It involved chocolate, too.

I first made these a few years ago, and now I'm hooked.  Now that it's October, we can make them.  Because, you know, pumpkins and October go together.  For some people.  Pumpkin muffins and me definitely go together, with the unfortunate consequence of both of us having muffin tops.

So, today, the kids and I made the pumpkin muffins. 

N couldn't keep his hands out of the mixer bowl. I resorted to giving him the beater from which to lick the batter.  He got upset when he realized he had batter on his hands.  He didn't realize he had batter all over his face, too.  Jude came to help him get cleaned up, and N was protesting having his face wipe. Jude took him to a mirror, and N was surprised and upset to see something all over his face!  He didn't fuss about getting a cleaned face after that.

E was a great helper - she counted the ingredients for me, helped stir, she held the muffin papers and helped make sure we shared the batter evenly amongst all the muffin papers.  She called dibs on the pink papered one, and kept asking after it until it was final hers.

A good day for pumpkin muffins!
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