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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

where i am at

This is the soundtrack of my week.

Its a very end-of-January sort of week.

With failed muffins and crabby children and lots of grey skies and homeschool doldrums.

Wake me up in March, m'kay? Unless you have cookies. Then you can wake me up sooner.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

anti-recipe #75 strawberry coconut milk ice cream

I didn't make this one up. 

There, now that I've gotten that off my chest, let's continue. Ha.

Why coconut milk ice cream? Well, the whole vegan paleo thing, if you do that. It's also super rich and creamy and tasty, so there is that. And I wanted a treat, had no cream, did have a can of coconut milk , and happened to see this recipe floating around on the internets. 

Here is how I made it. 

You'll need:
One can of coconut milk

So this is important, don't shake the can of coconut milk. Because you want to skim the cream off of the top of it and leave the watery stuff on the bottom of the can. You'll have about a half a can of watery stuff left over. Coconut water you can add it to a smoothie or something later. 

So spoon the coconut cream on top of about a cup frozen strawberries. I did it in a big giant cup because I used my immersion blender, my magic bullet blender thingy, to blend it. 

The recipe I saw said to use honey to sweeten it but every time I try to use honey in a smoothie the honey freezes in a big glop. So I used a teaspoon of sugar. 

So blend all of this really well. 

And now the freezing part of course there's lots of different ways you can make it frozen you can use an ice cream maker or a fancy vitamix type blender. 

I did it the cheapskate way. 

Put your blended mixture in a Ziploc bag. Now put that bag inside another Ziploc bag. Make sure it's sealed really tight. Now put those bags inside of a large Ziploc bag. Fill the large bag with about a tray of ice cubes and some salt maybe a quarter cup of salt. No maybe less so than that. In any case put some salt in there. 

Now for the patience part. I tried to get the girls to be involved in this but they weren't interested. (Dada and little man are at Cub Scout camp this weekend!!)

So you basically just roll the ice around the baf that has the cream mixture inside and eventually it turns into an ice cream texture - keep poking it to see if it's frozen. I put the big bag full of ice and a bowl and just kind of rolled around maybe five or 10 minutes. 

Once it's the right texture and frozen and creamy take it out very carefully from the salty bag otherwise you'll end up with salt inside of your ice cream which is what happened to me. So rinse the inside bag off in the sink and then take the next bag out-do you see what I'm saying?

Now scoop out the ice cream and eat. 

If you don't eat all of it and put it back in the freezer it will just turn hard and icy and you will have to go back with the magic bullet blender and blend up again. So that means you need to eat it all in one sitting. Ha! 

Of course you can make all sorts of flavors. If I had some chocolate chips I would've tossed those in as it froze. And of course you can make a quick batch of ice cream like this with real dairy cream too. 

Ok. Yum. Enjoy. 

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

six things to a happier more productive me (you)

Its the end of January.


This is how I feel the end of January.


So, this title. Huh? Does it make you laugh? Its very ambitious of me, right? And, according to my protestant Midwestern upbringing shall I put it? very self centered of me?

But, lets face it. The old saying is true. Ain't mama happy....Ain't nobody happy.

Because we set the tone.

Because emotionally, we hold these little hearts in our hands.

Because the world, as it were, rests on our shoulders.




(Ha. That just fit so nice I had to say it.)

And when the grey skies prompt the EHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH kind of days and we are holding on by a thread as the kids pile all the blankets and cushions on the floor of the living and start jumping OVER and OVER and OVER again and your other kid keeps asking how to spell EVERY. SINGLE. WORD. of his book report.

And you try.

But that ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

And then you take on some perspective. A step back. And the Daunting, Difficult, Dammit, becomes Daring, Death-defying, Dreamy, even. Because its a challenge. And you rise up. Somehow. Over and over, we moms do.

And, I was talking to dada about this the other night, in one of those rare conversations after the kids are asleep and the house is quiet, about what I have realized, in my walk as a mother, that I need to stay sane, happier, more productive.

And, I share it with you here now, not as a list of what might be true for you, but to think about your own ingredients for a happier more productive you, to find them, whatever they are, and BUILD THEM INTO YOUR DAILY LIFE.

This is so crucial. Make them part of your daily in and out breathing, what you do, to turn the Daunting Difficult Dammit into Daring Death-defying Dreamy, your mommying life. YOUR life.

1) ATMOSPHERE- I am a very visual person, I see the scene as I write. I picture books as I read. So for me, that also means that my surroundings directly feed into my mood. I need tidy. I need beauty. I need (somewhat) organized. A folder for my homeschool files. A shelf for my art supplies. Not that my toilets have to be scrubbed daily, mind you, but, that when I am feeling overwhelmed a sure fire way to feel more on top of things is to sweep the kitchen floor and clear the clutter of the counter. This also means beauty. To rotate pictures, to have something new to look at. To burn candles as  wash dishes. To yes, have the kids toys arranged attractively in the living room on the shelves. It is not neurotic, I have come to realize, it is just what my visual oriented self needs.

2)  ACTIVITY - My level of daily activity needs to be varied, but not too crazy. Finding the level of activity that is enough (sitting at home day after day makes me become an introverted wreck) but not TOO much (I need yoga-pants time daily....HA) is a balancing act. But, I tend toward less activity than more. Its funny I was more extroverted as a younger adult. Now that I'm heading into the, gulp, 40s I need more down time. Actually though I think parenthood did that to me. HA. This also includes getting outside and being physical - gardening - or even just doing yoga for a bit with the kids.

3) ARTISTIC RELEASE - This is super important to my personality, something that I am just realizing really about me in the past few years. I need that release. I didn't write for many years, but good grief, I need to write. It's so helpful. And artistic creation in other ways too. Drawing, painting, but also crafting or sewing. Something. Frivolous, seemingly. Soul-filling, in reality.

4) RELATIONSHIPS - Motherhood is an island, in so many ways, in the early years especially. Tied down to nap schedules and feedings and just as you get it worked out (Maybe I could get out of the house to a playgroup!) Another kid comes along. Now, veteran moms will tell you, hey stick that kid in an ergo and go to the playgroup anyhow! But, for new moms, in my experience anyhow, this is so challenging to balance. And so, we stake out our space on Facebook, and dream of the day when we will do more than chat to the grocery store clerk for our weekly adult interaction. It took me several years, being a new mom in a town new to me, and now in a new town again, but I think I am figuring this one out. Its still a work in progress though. New friendships as adults are HARD. But, luckily I have lots of siblings, a text away, and several are mommies too. (Thank you God for them!)

5) PURSUITS OUTSIDE OF MOTHERHOOD - It took me several years of mommying to realize this was okay to need. Oh sure, I worked, consulting work from home. But really that was to pay the bills, and mostly that was it. Although being able to go to a meeting with a client leaving kiddies at home was great. Now, without that, I have realized I need to spend time, daily, weekly at least, pursuing career/work ambitions OUTSIDE of mommying. For me, lately, this has been writing pursuits (about to send my first book to agents! Meeting with a potential writing partner/group person soon!) and my international "teaching/advocacy" type efforts (Hawaii connections, Mexico, and etc.)

I have to confess not getting this in my early years. I would never again work. Never again travel. My life, my own pursuits, were over. And then somehow I started seeing the need for it, craving it. Something that was mine, just for me. And it took awhile, but then I became okay with WANTING IT. Now, its totally  part of my "happier-me" list. And it happens, weekly, if not daily. Even giving yourself ten minutes of space to write an email, work on a troublesome paragraph, something SOMETHING to further your dreams.

YOU ARE WORTH IT. I try to tell myself. Give yourself that time.

6) STABILITY - This one is harder to control, but it has to be recognized as a stressor for me. Its basically financial at this point. Launching dada's new business has made it a hard thrifty sort of year for us. Necessarily so, but still. Not knowing how this or that bill is going to get paid becomes SO HEAVY it clouds my seeing of everything. Little man's attitude over his math assignment is suddenly SO IRRITATING. The dishes in the sink SO OVERWHELMING. The girls sing-song play SO GRATING. And then, I am learning, take a step back. Life does not suck. This ONE THING is challenging right now. But that is all. Everything else is quite good.

Perspective. You know?

This has also been, in the past, things such as - moving, school choices for the kids, those large life decisions that loom up ahead, daunting, difficult, dammit. And, it may not change them - the bill still is there, staring at you - but realizing how that instability impacts your day to day mood, well, it is huge. Because once you see it, you can see past it, to all the goodness around, trying to hug you, little sticky fingers, beautiful sing-song voices, thoughtful minds.

I don't know. I just felt compelled to write all this, for myself, but any other mamas out there wrestling through this time of year. Sit with a cup of coffee. Think it through. What are your things that impact your days, your perspective?


The year we take Daunting Difficult Dammit to DARING DEATH-DEFYING DREAMING.

Onward, ever upward.

awwww baby green


me in teaching mode, way back when

writing coffee me time. with the princess and her ipad cartoons. ;)

Monday, January 19, 2015

i have decided

"I'm concerned about a better world. I'm concerned about justice; I'm concerned about

brotherhood; I'm concerned about truth. (That’s right) And when one is concerned about that, he

can never advocate violence. For through violence you may murder a murderer, but you can't

murder murder. (Yes) Through violence you may murder a liar, but you can't establish truth.

(That's right) Through violence you may murder a hater, but you can't murder hate through

violence. (All right, That’s right) Darkness cannot put out darkness; only light can do that.


And I say to you, I have also decided to stick with love, for I know that love is ultimately the only

answer to mankind's problems. (Yes) And I'm going to talk about it everywhere I go. I know it

isn't popular to talk about it in some circles today. (No) And I'm not talking about emotional bosh

when I talk about love; I'm talking about a strong, demanding love. (Yes) For I have seen too

much hate. (Yes) I've seen too much hate on the faces of sheriffs in the South. (Yeah) I've seen

hate on the faces of too many Klansmen and too many White Citizens Councilors in the South

to want to hate, myself, because every time I see it, I know that it does something to their faces

and their personalities, and I say to myself that hate is too great a burden to bear. (Yes, That’s

right) I have decided to love. [applause] If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find

it through love.

... And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men

and angels (All right); you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not

love, it means nothing. (That's right) Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the

gift of scientific prediction (Yes sir) and understand the behavior of molecules (All right); you

may break into the storehouse of nature (Yes sir) and bring forth many new insights; yes, you

may ascend to the heights of academic achievement (Yes sir) so that you have all knowledge

(Yes sir, Yes); and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent

of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing. (Yes) You may

even give your goods to feed the poor (Yes sir); you may bestow great gifts to charity (Speak);

and you may tower high in philanthropy; but if you have not love, your charity means nothing.

(Yes sir) You may even give your body to be burned and die the death of a martyr, and your

spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you

as one of history's greatest heroes; but if you have not love (Yes, All right), your blood was spilt

in vain. What I'm trying to get you to see this morning is that a man may be self-centered in his

self-denial and self-righteous in his self-sacrifice. His generosity may feed his ego, and his piety

may feed his pride. (Speak) So without love, benevolence becomes egotism, and martyrdom

becomes spiritual pride.
... And I must confess, my friends (Yes sir), that the road ahead will not always be smooth.

(Yes) There will still be rocky places of frustration (Yes) and meandering points of bewilderment.

There will be inevitable setbacks here and there. (Yes) And there will be those moments when

the buoyancy of hope will be transformed into the fatigue of despair. (Well) Our dreams will

sometimes be shattered and our ethereal hopes blasted. (Yes) We may again, with teardrenched

eyes, have to stand before the bier of some courageous civil rights worker whose life

will be snuffed out by the dastardly acts of bloodthirsty mobs. (Well) But difficult and painful as it

is (Well), we must walk on in the days ahead with an audacious faith in the future. ...

Let us realize that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. Let us

realize that William Cullen Bryant is right: "Truth, crushed to earth, will rise again." Let us go out

realizing that the Bible is right: "Be not deceived. God is not mocked. (Oh yeah) Whatsoever a

man soweth (Yes), that (Yes) shall he also reap." This is our hope for the future, and with this

faith we will be able to sing in some not too distant tomorrow, with a cosmic past tense, "We

have overcome! (Yes) We have overcome! Deep in my heart, I did believe (Yes) we would



Friday, January 16, 2015

what i did all afternoon instead of...

...dishes, laundry, cleaning, making dinner and etc. 

It was fun though, and the girls joined in, and little man listened to stories while we all sat at the table together, and I'm reasonably pleased with the results. 

So. There is that. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

recipe for disaster

Recipe for disaster. 

One pinewood derby race car kit. 

One perfectionist mama. 

One perfectionist Cub Scout son.  

Stir and mix. 

Watch the results explode, with much weeping and gnashing of teeth. 

Serenity now, dear Lord. 

Looking forward to the actual race with much trepidation. And, in the end, a good lesson for us all in having fun, trying new things, and being okay with crooked lightening bolts and not coming in first place. 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

3 items of note on a Sunday evening

First, little man just swore in French. 

Sacre bleu! 

Ha ha! 

It means holy cow in French mom. Yea, kinda. Ha.

Two, he and little green have hit it off lately. Little miss is already asleep, so I asked him to read Green some books so I could do the dishes.

Sure he says, come on little buddy. Then he teaches her how to make finger shadow guys with a flashlight. Then he scratches her back and sings her a song, pretending to be a radio. Then as I'm finishing up I hear him say, come on in my room, I'll tell you all about my AT-AT walker ( Stars wars lego set for Christmas) and baby green happily trots after him. Sure Jacque! (As she calls him.) 

And my little mama heart skips a beat. 

So good. 

Third thing of note, oh you kept scrolling! Third thing is this book. Big fat OMG. Have you read it? Wowza. You should.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

cold school

So all of our state got off of school today, due to the cold.

Poor homeschoolers.

But, man, since my homeschooler melt down (and three weeks off of school over Christmas, HA) we have had revitalized and renewed homeschool effort.

For three days, thus far.

But still.

Three days is three days. Am I right? Worth crowing about, just for a moment.

And, we did what good northern homeschool kids do in the freezing cold. Check out frozen bubbles in the afternoon sunshine, draw snowflakes, practice knitting, and study the jungle next to the woodstove, to warm up.

So, yes. I'm taking a project approach to several subjects for the new year. Its easier with multiple kids and, as little man put it, "We did all our subjects in one project with every smooshed in, like writing, and reading and science!"

Yes, we homeschool moms love to "smoosh" subjects.

Monday. History day, something always easy and fun for us. Stories, biographies, a chapter from our book, and some "Our Island Stories" read aloud online.

Tuesday. We started a science unit on jungles, which I plan to incorporate, or smoosh, culture studies, geography, animal studies, literature, and ecosystems. We just did a basic introduction, making a collage, talking about animals, talking about the equator, and reading a"Just So Story" by Kipling, and a chapter of "The Jungle Book."

A wild success.

This morning we did something similar, reading Laura - we are on "By the Shores of Silver Lake" talking about settlers and homesteading - then putting together a giant US map puzzle, and then doing a flip chart of our world using paper plates tied together from Earth to North America, the US, and then down to our state and town.

Also a wild success.

Math afterwards, was a breeze. We read a math story together, about the numbers fighting over which of them is king - number 12 is in case you wondered. "I'm so, CONTENT, right now" he tells me, in a surprised voice.

Poetry and drawing, not so much. Little miss happily copied a line and drew snowflakes in her little book. Little man, well, he kinda lost his school mojo by then. He pushed through, but not easily. (OY VEY, the DRAMA of 8 year olds!)

And little Green? She danced and sang and drew and then threw blocks at me for attention. You know. Three. Years. OLD.

All very successful. And then. I hit three o'clock. All three days. And I am a bear. NO MORE KID ENERGY I tell dada. Yesterday I sat in my mama chair, drinking tea and watching dada make dinner. Today, thankfully, we did a craft afternoon we another homeschooling family. AT SOMEONE ELSES HOUSE. Ha.

SURVIVED, this mama did, and lived to see another day!

Ah, the rolling tide oh the homeschooling lifestyle. Tomorrow may be a bookish free reading sort of school day. HA HA HA.

How are you all surviving the cold? I'm so grateful for our little stove, we set up our jungle area next to it, perfect time to study jungles really, right?? A trip to the local conservatory is definitely called for this month.

Warm things.

Warm things.

Warm things.

Keep chanting it. Right?
no little man. its 0 degrees out. you WILL wear a hat

a frozen bubble. so bizarre

our little jungle corner by the fire

this corner makes me happy. and yes, my bed is on the other side of the room. but, it works.

Friday, January 2, 2015

next year i'll....

planning morning. coffee. messy house. kids outside in the snow.

Do you do new year's resolutions?

I totally do. Some people - and I don't understand this - seem to think that its lame to do resolutions in the new year. Like, one should constantly by improving oneself, regardless of the day.

To this I say, yes, sure. However. I appreciate a fresh start. I appreciate being able to say, this year, I shall not yell at the kidlings, pending their possible death, or serious maiming (GET OUT OF THE ROAD, PUT DOWN THAT KNIFE, etc)

And I find myself, really, doing this at the start of each new season. This summer, I shall garden, and run, and write. Etc. This September I shall ORGANIZE the SHIT out of EVERYTHING.

So, how about you?

I saw this thing on Facebook. What is your one word for the new year? Lots of friends had clever one word answers, encapsulating their hopes and dreams for that year in one word.

I, however, clearly, am in too verbose a mood for this kind of cleverness.

Or, perhaps, my hopes for 2015 are so great that they simply cannot be captured in one word.

Maybe that could be my one word.


So, are you dying for my list, or what??? HA HA HA.

Here it is. And I have been thinking about this, really since before Christmas. Like, I love my family, our giant family celebration, but good lord I cant wait to pack up the Christmas balls my children keep on breaking (I did it Dec. 26, HA) and PLAN FOR A KICK ASS NEW YEAR.

So, categories...
1) ME

I think that does it....

1) ME
Good grief. 2015 needs to be about getting my frigging act together. 2014 I was all over the place. HAWAII. BOOKS. TRAVEL. START A SCHOOL. RUN FOR OFFICE. ETC. ETC. I saw this thing on Pinterest the other day though that made me laugh, "Some people think of one step forward, one step back, as frustrating. Other people see it for what it is...THE CHA CHA."


I do not dance, at all, like truly badly, but I think that is my motto for the next few years. Lets Cha Cha our way to greatness! DO IT ALL! But, recognizing that, sometimes, great things in life truly need to percolate their way into being. You cannot rush good coffee folks. You gotta let it brew. Smell the richness. And just wait.

This is Hawaii and etc for me. And now there is talk of Hawaii, again, plus Mexico, Germany, the Dominican Republic. All these possibly amazing teaching opportunities. And to them I say, that pot of coffee smells amazing. I will wait for the brew to finish.

You know?

And then the writing.

SOOOO...I finished the one. I need to send it round to, you know, people, the agent-y type. This is scary. And I feel that "ITS NOT GOOD ENOUGH" but I gotta do it anyhow. And then there is the new one. The one that is pressing on me to finish. Because I love the little family I am writing about and they are so sad and lovely and...enough said. I can finish this one this year, and starting sending it round to those agent-y types too. Good Lord that is enough writerly goals for me. I wish I could find a writing group to be a part of. And I'd also love to work on some short stories and start sending those out too.

Other me stuff:
Running. Gotta do it. That scary age number is around the corner. I plan on meeting it at a full run. (Rather than running in terror away from it, see what I did there? HA.)

Painting: Maybe take a class

Get up before the kids. I am a grumpy riser. Better get up and be cranky alone before they appear, little sleepy faces, looking at me, waiting for me to set the tone of the day.

Also, I need to spend morning time alone, thinking, meditating on the day, reading inspiring stuff, etc. Working on me. Is it weird, I want to start reading Emerson and Thoreau and people from the Transcendentalism movement of New England, I feel like there is a lot of wisdom there to be gleaned.

Why yes, I am listening to Gregorian chants as I write. However did you guess???

We need to be more purposeful about modeling with the kids. Modeling patience and good humor and grace. Reading more like this with them. Character developing books and stories and etc.

And. I am trying to go yell-free. Its just not in the tool box anymore, as I told dada the other day, with the exception of possible death or serious maiming, as I said. But for serious. I can do this. And I need to. Take our interactions down a notch (we are ALL INTENSE PEOPLE) and in doing so, teach the kids the same. You know? More thoughts on this later, I think.

Also, more family adventures. TO FLORIDA! YURTS UP NORTH! etc. Being outside more together.

Also. Weekly dates with dada. Is such a thing even possible? We get out every six months at this point. Even to the grocery store. It must happen.

Also. I want to move to a mini-farm this year. I MUST. As I told dada. I have one I am in love with. A little more land, a little bigger house. A pond. A creek. A woods to play in. I WANT IT SO BAD. I may or may not have entire pinterest boards dedicated to remodeling and redecorating this house. Sweet Jesus. PLEASE.

Eating. We all need to eat more healthy like, paleo, or GAPS or something trendy and good like that. HA HA. No, but really. Not so much chicken nuggets and hot dogs. (As little miss eats a plate of barbecue chips for lunch and dada heats up Spaghettios) I need to do this too. I really need to get a grip on my health in 2015. Gluten free, sugar free, grain free... taste free. Maybe I'll just take up eating dust.



I need to simplify. Again. In anticipation of a move but also, clearing out stuff, stuff we haven't touched in years. Is there a real reason I need to keep a hoodie I wore in college?? Or plates that have been packed in newspaper for five years? Or kids toys that they no longer touch? Etc. Also, just to clear off shelves and such. Anything that has a layer of dust goes in a box. Good plan right???

Also. Organize. I'm thinking, organizing command center wall, a la Pinterest style. In our new farmhouse, of course. This is where I would insert a winky face, if I did such things.

On this wall will be a family calendar, homeschool charts, menu plan (GASP) etc. Maybe even a section for coupons. No just kidding. I need this wall. My life will be 100% more better if I have this wall. HA HA.

But seriously. Joking/not joking. As the kids say.


Good golly. I made one of those printout organizing the shit out of our school year/quarter/week.


I may, in fact, put it up here, as a nifty download, because its so wicked awesome. I could not find a single planner downloadable or purchaseable (if that is a word) anywhere in the entire internets. And, yes, I looked. So. I made one up. Because that is what resourceful mamas who listen to Gregorian chants do.


Its going to help so much. I will do an entire post about it, no doubt, but I have great plans about how it will revolutionize our year. I'm also thinking about making one for little man too. So he can track his own school work too. Take responsibility. All that good stuff.

For school, along with the planner part, I came up with a ridiculous great plan. Just for Jan/Feb. I tend to plan only two months out at a time, with vague ideas for the future, but for me, two months is enough. I used to try to use excel spreadsheets but I have since found a rough bullet point note system works best, with overall goals for each kid and each subject and us as a family (trips etc.)


This is it.

This is too much. No doubt. But I have faith in 2015. 2015 owes me. 2014 was sucky, in a lot of ways, good in a lot of ways too. But also sucky. And no, 2015 doesn't owe me. I owe me.

Make it happen.

Stop dreaming. Start doing.

We don't believe in dreams, so much. We believe in plans.


HAPPY NEW YEAR MAMAS. Happy planning. Happy Cha-Cha-ing into glory!!

apparently all it took to get these two to play outside in peace and harmony was NEW SLEDS FROM SANTA
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