Recently a friend asked me about podcasts. “What should I listen to? I’d like to pick your brain.” Besides the fact that the image of picking and brains doesn’t sound too delightful, I found myself in a conundrum. What type of podcasts are you looking for? Spiritual, health, mamas, organization, motivation, educational, dorky: so many podcasts have emerged since I started listening when my middle child was a wee, non-sleeping babe.

So: podcasts. I’ve recently been listening to Seth Godin’s podcast: a condensed version of a training seminar for crazy talented, soldout entrepreneurs. I’m not sold out, and I don’t have a slush fund, but the idea of dreaming about purpose – the hows and whys and whats – really got my idealistic side happy. Perhaps there’s a place for a fully functional mama, doing household and “other” things in the world, both creating and using offerings to help her daily life. Perhaps…

No Gluten, No Dairy, No Tuna, No Eggs – Sing Along!

“No gluten, no dairy, no tuna, no eggs. No gluten, no dairy, no tuna, no eggs.” My middle child chanted this from the back seat the other day as I elaborated the doctor’s news to my husband.

See, I’ve had wonky body issues. So I went to a doctor who specializes in wonky. He took lots of blood, later some saliva, and came back with some supplements. (Apparently the body actually needs vitamin D and iron to function. My body missed that memo.) My thyroid is a lazy bum while my cortisol levels are a bit on the over-achiever side.

Things had settled down some after two months of no gluten, dairy, or tuna (yes: tuna. Wonky body). But not totally settled. So, last Thursday he decided: no eggs. The food intolerance test had come back with that as an issue on top of the other things, and two months ago he explained that generally it’s a false positive (something about vaccines being delivered in egg whites, medical speak, yada yada yada, keep making eye contact with the doctor and smile so he doesn’t see the slow death taking place inside at the thought of life without whole wheat tortillas, string cheese, and yogurt. Simple foods for a simple girl).

So. No gluten. No dairy. No tuna. No eggs. Low carb. High protein. Frequent meals. Three kids – *active* kids. Homeschooling. Working from home. Trying to live local and sustainable and organic and affordable. And format my pic of the day for Instagram and make it through all the seasons of Stargate before 2013.


To say I was bummed with yet another restriction was an understatement. I told my hubby and my mama (who was in town at the time. Poor mama always bears the brunt. Nothing says, “I love you and thanks for birthing me” like a constant verbal dump of the junk.) that I would be sad for a day, and then I would be fine. But I wasn’t fine.

So I Facebook whined to a group of local folks dealing with food allergies. One person responded, ” I find it easier to think about what you CAN and should eat, rather than what you can’t…meat, beans, quinoa, corn, rice, lentils, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruit. Create meals around what you can have, rather than trying to make what you used to make.”

Ding ding ding! We have a winner!! I’ve been so fixed on the Chant (no gluten, no dairy, no tuna, no eggs) that I haven’t focused on what I *can* have. So I’m going to. Starting here.

Grocery Outlet has Flax Milk on sale: half gallon for three bucks. Tastes great in my morning Rainbow Light Protein Energizer shake with added hemp seed, cinnamon, and berries that I picked and froze last year. And it’s the time of year that these berries are ripening again, so I’d better get to making room in the freezer.

Maybe I should make up a song listing what I can have, so I can remember. Like this flashback from my childhood (which I did try to memorize at that time, cause I’m geeky like that).

Gosh, it sure sounds like fun …

The other day my middle child told me that he wanted to steal my coffee card. “To drive to the coffee place and get my favorite coffee drink and BURP!” And he was going to go to the store “and buy ALL the soda and drink it ALL and BURRRRP!”

My oldest son told me he can’t wait to go to college “so I have a car and watch tv all day.”

I think my youngest already owns more accessories that I do.

Gosh, they make being an adult sure sound like fun.

It’s So Fluffy!!!

Yesterday my husband was sick.  Head cold and, um, digestive issues.

Which meant my kids got to spend a little extra time with their favorite parent: La Tele (if I call our television by its French moniker, that makes it a cultural experience, right?).  We have a few movies checked out from the library that I’ve been trying to get them to watch.  Because this is how it works:

“Mom, put [insert title] on hold, please!”


Receive title.

“Mom, it’s screentime.  We’re going to watch something on Netflix.”

“You realize we only have that movie for a week, right?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Time passes.

“Mom, what happened to that movie?”

“It was due.”

“What?!! NOOOOO!”

Insert general weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Doesn’t that sound delightful?

So yesterday I told them they had no choice with their extra time with La Tele: they were going to watch “Despicable Me”. With me. Because by the time of the arsenic hour, that was pretty much self-descriptive.

I rarely watch La Tele with the kids: I don’t sit still real well. Neither do they.  That’s a whole lot of wriggling on the couch. But I attempted to sit and enjoy our time together.

Hubby came downstairs later. I was busy throwing things together for dinner for those with stomach issues and tastebud issues. “Did you enjoy the movie? I heard a serious guffaw down there.” “What? Yeah, I guess. Some of it is funny. I was mostly being wooled on by Boo: sometimes I don’t even realize that she’s on my lap – when did she get up there? And for how long? Geez … OH, there was a funny part! There was this little girl, and the cranky old bad guy who adopts her and two other girls, and they’re at a fair, and she sees this unicorn and really wants it, and he blows apart the game to get it for her cause it’s rigged, and she growls, ‘It’s So Fluffy!!!!!’ Yeah, that made me laugh.”

You can laugh along with me right here.

The little girl reminded me of a cross between me and one of my besties: Hannah. After high school I cleaned Hannah’s room, and when I’d move things to the junk pile, she’d tell me: “Nooo! I need this, or I’ll dieeeee!” She may have been right, but we’ll never know.

As for me, I admit it: I have a giant stuffed animal – not a unicorn, but a bunny. My Nana bought an Easter dress for me, and after spending a certain amount at the department store, the bunny was less.  There were bunnies ALL over that store, and Nana was determined my brother and I needed one. My mama sacrificed and bought herself a new dress so Matt could get a bunny. Because I have the bunny Nana bought: I watched the clerk put it in the bag and made sure that one stayed with me. As it has: for over two decades.

Some people have body pillows; I have my bunny, and I believe he’s done wonders for keeping my back in alignment at night. Plus, he’s an awesome head prop while reading.

I love the sheer joy of the little girl in the moment. She doesn’t want the unicorn for practical purposes, for personal edification, for social betterment.  She wants it and LOVES it because it’s fluffy.

It’s time to find some more fluffy in my life. FLUFFY!

That gives us a lot to wonder about

I’m not good at providing answers.

After college I worked in a library and *loved* it: not the organization or the mass amount of books, but being able to point people in a direction to find resources to help them in their journeys.  When I worked in the young adult section I often was asked point-blank questions: “What is the population of Idaho?” “What is the tenth decimal of pi?” “Why is the capitol barricaded?” (That had to do with the present governor’s strong belief that post-9/11 terrorists were attacking key places in America, like the head of the government in southern Idaho. Yeah).

My answer: “Hmm: well, let’s look at where we can get that answer.” Not always a pleasing response, but in the long run, the right answer: they were equipped, and I might have less questions asked of me. 🙂

One of my favorite parenting books, How to Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and Listen So Your Kids Will Talk, gives four points for helping kids/mankind deal with their feelings (aka. what most of us spend most of our time doing): (HT)

  1. Instead of half-listening, listen with full attention. It can be discouraging to try to get through to someone who gives only lip service to listening. It’s much easier to tell your troubles to a parent who is really listening. He doesn’t even have to say anything. Often a sympathetic silence is all a child needs.
  2. Instead of questions and advice, acknowledge with a word — “Oh … Mmm … I see.” It’s hard for a child to think clearly or constructively when someone is questioning, blaming, or advising her. There’s a lot of help to be had from a simple “Oh … umm …” or “I see.” Words like these, coupled with a caring attitude, are invitations to a child to explore her own thoughts and feelings, and possibly come up with her own solutions.
  3. Instead of denying the feeling, give the feeling a name. The child who hears the words for what he is experiencing is deeply comforted. Someone has acknowledged his inner experience. (“That sounds frustrating!”)
  4. Instead of explanation and logic, give a child his wishes in fantasy. When children want something they can’t have, adults usually respond with logical explanations of why they can’t have it. Often the harder we explain, the harder they protest. Sometimes just having someone understand how much you want something makes reality easier to bear. (“I wish I could make the banana ripe for you right now!”)

The past five weeks in my Sunday class at our worship gathering I’ve been given another tool: The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. Instead of providing THE answer with the flannel graph, I’m learning how to create space for my kids to encounter God on their own, to enter into The Mystery, to ponder and wonder.  One of the key phrases the facilitators seem to end with is “Hmmm, that gives us a lot to wonder about.”

Yesterday during our afternoon park visit, I walked the path while my kids joined the masses running amuck.  This group was different, though: light sabres and really big guns seemed to be the main focus.  My boys were mesmerized.  My heart sank. “Ack! Guns: BAD! My babies!” But then I thought of my brother who maintains that his enjoyment of heavily militarized video games stems from the trauma of the de-gunning of his Leonardo Ninja Turtle as a tyke. 🙂

Boys will be boys.  But I cleave strongly to a peace testimony.  But the founders of my denomination declared they were part of the Lamb’s Army.  Ack!

Fortunately as I paced, and prayed, the phrase that came to mind was, “Hmm, this gives me a lot to wonder about.”

When I told the boys it was time to go home (because, honestly, I couldn’t bear much more of my oldest following the tall red-headed ring-leader), JJ burst into tears.  “But he wouldn’t share his gun with me!!” Me: “Oh, you’re sad.” JJ: “Yeah. Sniffle.” Abe: “I will ask Unca Matt for a light sabre or a gun for my birthday.  Because he will get it for me, and it will be awesome.”

Hmm. And sigh. Oh, the wonder.  🙂

Ok, So I Fell Behind in the Picture Taking

Fortunately, someone got my back … or his front.

His face is a glimpse into a moment in time:  food, scabs, bruises, glitter …

Trying to look “normal”.

Or not.

Perhaps practicing his letter of the week from preschool?

I really don’t ask anymore:  just nod and accept, just nod and accept.

Either someone has a healthy self esteem or is the overlooked middle child:  not only taking self-portraits, but also pictures of himself.

Maybe the lack of pictures is do to all the activities we’ve been doing.  What they are, I can’t remember:  but we’ve got some tuckered-out little people around here (sleeping next to “the awesomest book, Mom!” It’s given the thumbs up by George Lucas:  obviously an important literary contribution to this generation).

Like Mama at this age, like Daughter.

Post-nap activity:  snuggles.

And smiles.

And demands for “when will the pizza be reaaaaaaaaddddddddddyyyyyyyy?!!!!!!!” We know how to party on a Friday night.


We Be Reading

Yes, yes, it’s been a while since posting.  Though the blog has been boring, life hasn’t been.  Currently my boys have been whisked away by a dear friend to attend one of their tribe’s birthday celebration (Wii & cake:  what more could a boy … or mama … ask for?).  As they were driven away and I gathered up the flurry of items required to get them out the door, I breathed and realized:  “I’m alone.  With Boo sleeping upstairs.  And she’ll sleep for another hour.  This could be delightful.”

I decided instead of mentally writing, I should engage in the actual practice.  Unlike the organization of photos and scrap-booky items in my Hope(less) Chest:  that sin probably will be passed down to the next generation.

This morning we sat on the couch and read.  For an hour.  Just like we did yesterday and the day before.  Lately at this time I would be reading to them, and then again in four hours before bedtime.  Feeding and reading and using the bathroom and using up bandaids and changing clothes and choosing to do activities with the teeniest-tiniest pieces that a certain Little Sister can distribute throughout the house:  that is our routine of the moment.

For a while we hadn’t been reading much.  Picture books, yes: but my attention span could no longer handle shifting from one brightly-colored page to another.  I needed substance.  I seeded copies of “Stuart Little” and “Hank the Cowdog” amongst the holds, while singing the praises of “Henry Huggins” and “Ramona and Beezus”.  But to no avail:

“Did you read the book?”

“Yep.  Read it all.”

“What was it about?”

“Oh, it was long:  I can’t remember.”

That was our morning conversation.  It hurt the heart of an avid child reader (not to mention former library assistant).  I remember not being able to run errands with my mother without having a substantial read in my hand.  The nervousness I experienced at wondering whether it would be long enough to last the trip throughout all of the Treasure Valley is very similar to my nervousness at watching battery strength on the Touch when grocery shopping:  not 10%!  I’m only in the back of the produce section: I haven’t even hit the bulk section yet!

I am a firm believer in using and proclaiming the amazing resources at the library:  books!  Movies!  Downloadable books and audio books (oh, yes!)!  Magazines, cookbooks, cds, travel books, etc., etc., etc.  When people see the stack of books I pick up on hold during our weekly visits falls into two camps:  “Geez!  You get a lot of books!  Do you have your own hold shelf?!!” and “Oh, I get that many as well.”  The later are fewer, but we all have the knowing nod:  the library is a wonderful, wonderful thing.

The other week as I was pulling the Little Miss off of the catalog computer for the fifth time, I looked up at the librarian, a friend from high school and college, and realized, “Wait.  I’m missing out on one of the best resources at all:  The Librarians!”  “Korie, do you have any suggestions for chapter books for JJ?  That aren’t too big?  And don’t involve the words ‘poop’, ‘stupid’, and tearing down authority figures?”  And she did.

Even though she’s sleep deprived from the recent addition of a new little one, she pulled out some amazing reads:

  • Andrew Lost.  Andrew and his family build inventions, and his latest invention (the Atom Sucker) has shrunk him, his cousin, and his computer friend T.H.U.D.D. down to the size of the head of a needle.  They have to find a way back to the Atom Sucker in eight hours, before the machine might explode!  Yes, at one point they get flushed down the toilet on a pile of dog poop, but other than that, the story is interesting, bringing science and humor (and cartoon drawings) in to engage both my six and three year old.
  • Martin Bridge.  Martin Bridge reminds me of a current Henry Huggins:  adventures that don’t seem totally marked by time.  Just life as a kid:  having problems with friends, spending a day at school after forgetting a permission slip for a field trip, having a not-so-good friend come over to celebrate his birthday … one day too late.  A lack of poop, an abundance of love for parents, and normal joy and struggles:  good stuff.
  • Alvin Ho.  This came highly recommended.  Alvin is of Chinese-American descent living in Concord, Massachusetts (a place “that’s hard to spell”).  He does not speak at school:  he’s too shy.  But his imagination more than makes up for it.  He and his friends play “Redcoats and Minutemen” on the playground since they’re in the heart of the land of the American Revolution.  This led to us getting some books about that war: reading that leads to further learning – who woulda thunk? Today we read about how his dad lets out his frustration:  swearing like a Shakespearean character and playing the piano: he even writes the curses down on a piece of paper (like “What bootless toad-spotted bladder did this?”) and keeps them in a box.  Brilliant.

It’s amazing to sit down on the couch, ask the little people, “What do you want to read?”, and have the three year old scramble for “Awvin Hooooo!”  Of course, there’s the required Richard Scarry and Construction I-Spy books, but still:  my need for complete non-rhyming sentences has been satiated.  That’s a good thing.

Dear Wonton Wrapper: Thank you

The other night inspiration hit for dinner, out of desperation, of course. My husband came home early – yay! My attempt at making dinner: not begun. An assortment of random reaching-peakedness items were in my fridge.

Quick tip: if wonton wrappers are on sale at a store
— buy them
— freeze them if not used right away
— thaw them in hot water
— stuff anything that sounds yummy inside of them
— involve the kids in sealing the wrappers (fingers in water)
— spray with cooking oil and bake
— consume

Our “stuffing” for Tuesday night: leftover chicken, cheese, green onions, corn, barbeque sauce, leftover teriyaki sauce from takeout. Success! Quick, easy, yummy, and involved the family. A winner in my book.

This has been a “in times of desperation” quick tip from Dren: may it serve you well.

First Task of the Day: Locate My Mind

I always thought the phrase “I’m looking for my glasses” was interesting, mostly because I needed my glasses to find them.  That’s how I feel about my mind as of late:  I need to remember my mind, but I tend to forget it because, well, I need it to remember.  Make sense?  It does in this convoluted mass of tissue in the upper realms of my noggin.

Three kids.  Two schools.  One husband.  We have yet to have two “normal” weeks in a row, which does not work for my pattern-finding self or routine-oriented children.  Correction:  JJ adapts, but oh the weeping and wailing of my middle child at not having school five days a week, or like this week, at all.  The Little Miss could care less, except when her mother can’t figure out what she wants (like to be fed) or that she’s capable of more movement than army-crawling (like dumping out the cat’s food this afternoon — twice).

I was listening to a podcast of an author discussing his latest book on George Washington.  The former president wrote in his will that all of his slaves were to be freed upon his death, which caused a problem because his wife brought a lot of slaves into the marriage, and they weren’t too hip with the idea of staying longer than the others.  My first thought, “What would you do with all those slaves?” and then, “Oh, wait …”

I’ve taken to making a number of items in our home as of late:  laundry detergent, yogurt, butter, preserving fruits and vegetables, bacon, etc.  The energy and time I could spend doing something else, like writing or speaking to another adult, is used providing healthy, local, happy things to consume.  Which is my choice to make/do.  But I don’t know that my mind naturally works that way, and so I feel like I’m constantly racing — to preserve the food before it goes bad, to make more soap before the laundry becomes the ‘dee’s new Mt. Hood.  And then I get grumpy:  I sure hate being grumpy.

So if my hubby can buy more memory for the computer, can’t the world come up with more memory for our minds?  That, or if someone wanted to move in and help me out:  I’d pay well in cookies:  that I rarely forget to make.  🙂