Thursday, September 29, 2011

Daily Science Lesson

After dinner last night, Natalie decided to sit the family down for a "lesson" on the Solar System.  Did you know, for instance, that the earth is the closest planet to the sun?  Or, that Pluto doesn't exist anymore?  Me neither!  During her little mini-course I sat in my recliner, and just took in the scene that was taking place.  Natalie was rattling on about shooting starts, the different types of moons (full moon, half moon, etc...), and how when it's summer in one area of the world, it's winter in another.  Then, Rachel started chasing Andrew in circles around Natalie's dry erase easel/classroom with a bulb syringe fresh from Luke's nose.  Natalie responded in her best whiny teacher voice, "Hey!  You guys need to stop that and listen!"  (I have no idea where she gets that from ;).  And I just had to laugh, because these are the moments that I love the most about being a parent.  You just can't make this stuff up.  These kids are just so cute and funny, and they have no qualms about being themselves.  There's no worry about human respect and "what people will think about me."  This is why I love being a close-knit family, spending time together, and just enjoying each others company.  This pure, unadulterated, raw, honest-to-goodness family life.  It's the best!....we could probably use a unit study on planets, though

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Breakfast of Champions

Because no one's morning is complete without Army Men in their oatmeal....


And of course, monkey-see, monkey-do...


No worries, though, those men held their own, and started to fight back...
And, for the record, I in no way encouraged or instigated this behavior.  Note to self:  never walk away from the breakfast table when young children are involved....

 

Monday, September 26, 2011

I Feel Like a Science Experiment!

I walked into my laundry room a while back, and the first thing that met my eyes was this:



That's right....strange things growing in jars of water.  Some of them even looked like this:


...with long, tentacle-like growths on  the bottom.  They were supposed to be sweet potato plants, but Phil chopped them up when we were getting ready to plant our fall garden.  Oh well....maybe next year I'll grow sweet potatoes.  

For Real, Y'all!

Hi!  Remember me?  Anyway...lately I've been giving a lot of thought to the whole 'real food' movement that seems to be sweeping the nation.  Or I guess it's sweeping the nation...it seems to be all over the place from where I'm sitting.  People blog about it, they put articles on Facebook about it, it's in the media.  Either way, it is being brought to my attention from various sources quite a bit lately.  My two favorite sources for real food information are from The Catholic Foodie and 100 Days of Real Food.  My first foray into learning about real foods, and why they are important came from The Catholic Foodie.  I first started reading Jeff's blog and listening to his podcast for 3 main reasons:  I like to eat, I'm Catholic, and his wife is a fellow homeschooling Mom in my community.  So, when I listened to one of his podcasts about real food (I think it was the one he did on Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution show that was going to be aired at the time), it really kind of opened my eyes to the dangers of highly processed foods.  But, only a little bit...like a tiny slit in one of my eyes...probably the right one, since it is weaker.  I agreed with what he was saying, but not ready to take the plunge.  "You mean I have to give up cream of mushroom soup!!! and, Velveeta?!?!  What planet are you from?  Don't you know I was taught that the secret to half of my Mom's favorite recipes I ate growing up contain at least one, if not both, of those ingredients?!", I thought to myself.  

Now, fast forward 6 months or so and enter the 100 Days of Real Food blog.  She pretty much confirmed my fears...no, absolutely no Velveeta products, or cream of anything!  The funny thing is, despite my initial hesitancy to give up those kinds of things, every time I go to the store now, I just can't make myself buy some of that stuff anymore (although, I do still use it on rare occasions, but not regularly like I used to).  I mean, I still use processed foods, but less than I used to.  And, I have a feeling that the conversion is slowly and continually still taking place - I'm no St. Paul, you know ;).  At the 100 Days of Real Food site, she pretty much went cold turkey with her family for 100 days...that was their mission, and after the 100 days they never went back.  I really like her site, because she doesn't have all kinds of weird recipes with things you can't even pronounce, let alone find in your grocery store.  She actually has recipes for homemade mac'n'cheese, goldfish, and ice cream for crying out loud!  And other recipes, too ;)  Her recipes are regular recipes that I am familiar with, but are made with fresh ingredients, and without all the extra junk that comes from processed foods.  

I think the problem with getting on the real food bandwagon for me is fear...fear of losing what I consider to be normal, safe, and comfortable....and, of course, easy!  Real food preparation takes a little more work.  But, in my effort to ease onto the wagon gently (don't want to go toppling over now, do we?!), I've discovered that it's more fun to cook real food!  I have always loved to cook, and there's a real sense of accomplishment when I serve a meal that was prepared with good, healthy ingredients from scratch...and it tastes WAY better!  Plus, it kind of feels like cheating when I use the already prepared meals (although it has been a LONG time since I've used one of those, even though I only recently discovered the term 'real food').  It's kind of like the difference between using a paint by number, and creating your very own work of art.  The paint by number is okay, but to create a real masterpiece is infinitely more beautiful.  It also takes practice.  I've burnt and ruined many a meal in my quest as a married woman to create tasteful, wholesome meals for my family.  

What I love about The Catholic Foodie site is that Jeff is local to New Orleans, so his recipes are all about Cajun/Creole goodness, which totally speaks my language!  He has other stuff, too, but those are the one I like the most.  I LOVE good Cajun cooking, and I'm learning that it can be done in a nourishing way, which is great, because I'm all about learning how to switch over to real foods where I can, but I am definitely NOT willing to give up my Cajun foods!  Take away my gumbo, and I won't be a happy woman.  

I should clarify...don't be fooled into thinking I have completely switched over, because I haven't.  While I agree with the concept, and would like to start implementing more real foods into my daily routine, there are just some things that I struggle with.  First of all is the whole 'organic vs. non-organic' debate.  As a general rule, organic is better, but I pick my battles there.  I know many people would LOVE to have a completely organic diet from locally grown sources (meat,eggs, butter, vegetables, fruit, milk, any and all of those), but for some it's not that readily available, or it's not affordable, or both.  I tend buy a mix of both, depending on the price of the item in question.  I should probably start going to the Farmer's Market, too, but with 4 young kids, it is really difficult (and exhausting!) to have to go to several different stores to purchase the foods we need to eat in a 2-week period....any suggestions there would be welcomed =).  Then there's the white vs. wheat issue.  If I'm buying breads, I buy 100% whole wheat with no high-fructose corn syrup.  If I'm making bread, I use white flour.  Although, lately I have been wanting to try incorporating some stone ground whole wheat into my white bread recipes, even if it is just a little at a time, so that eventually we can have more wheat than white in our diet.  Dinner rolls, french breads, hamburger buns, pistolettes, cinnamon rolls, etc...those are breads I make on a regular basis...I buy sandwich bread.
 
I also still allow some junk (it's hard to say no to Zapp's and oreo cookies!), but slowly we are getting there.  Living in the country helps.  We raise our own beef (but still buy store bought from time to time), and will hopefully get a milk cow in the not too distant future.  We are planning on adding chickens in the spring (hopefully both for eggs and meat!).  We raise our own pork, but they aren't pastured...hopefully that will come with time, as we are able to fence in a good area of our land to keep them in.  Our garden is growing, too.  Last summer, Phil built me four raised garden beds....


...which produced quite a nice harvest this year!:

And this summer he expanded my garden to include a much larger, more traditional garden with rows:


although, the kids prefer to use it as a playground....
Rachel just preferred to watch:
We actually just planted our fall garden last weekend.  We planted broccoli, cabbage, brussel sprouts, lettuce, turnips, beets, carrots, spinach, snow peas, and various kinds of squash.  Hopefully it makes something!


I think she was mumbling about child labor laws or something....




 here is the real muscle behind all our garden work...

 working hard, or hardly working??


So, there you have it...my thoughts on the whole 'real food' thing.  Where do you fall on the spectrum?  Do you eat only real foods, could you care less, or are you somewhere in between, like we are?  I guess to sum it up in one sentence is that I strive for balance and moderation, but opt for real when I can....except when I am craving a Coke and a Big Mac ;)
 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm a Little More Country Than That

If you weren't born and raised as a Country Girl, then you had better earn the title.  And, while I'm not 100% there, as of this past weekend, I am definitely one step closer.

Phil and the kids put up a very lovely, bona fide, 3-wire clothesline for me!  I guess the fact that I am giddy like a kid in a candy store over it makes me even closer to earning the title of Country Girl ;)

Here are my hard workers, fixing to put a second coat of paint on the clothesline posts.  I actually inherited this clothesline from my Mother-in-Law, and if I were a betting woman I would put money on the fact that my Father-in-Law built these posts, but I don't know that for sure.  Either way, I have a REALLY nicely constructed clothesline, and it has sentimental value, too =).  I'm sure Phil's Mom will love seeing her Grand-kids running around 'her' clothesline while I hang clothes, or helping me put the clothes out on the line, too.  

Of course, Natalie thought she was way more knowledgeable about how to do the painting, so here she is telling the others, "you have to dip the paintbrush just like this!..."  She's definitely the oldest child, and I love her initiative.....sometimes ;)

Rachel was really excited to be included...usually she is "too little", so she felt like a big girl this day!  I love watching the girls together.  It makes me happy to think they might one day have the kind of friendship I have with my sisters.
 
Here is the span of the clothesline.  Don't ask me how wide it actually is...I have no idea (you can knock a point from my Country Girl status for that one ;).  All I know is that I can fit about 3 loads of laundry on that thing!

Rachel quickly lost interest in painting the post, and decided to just decorate the newspaper, instead :)

Luke really wanted to crawl over and get in on the action.....

....but, the task of keeping his little knees off the concrete kept him too busy to get to where he wanted to go.

Here it is, all finished!  Isn't it great?!?! 

 I don't know what it is, but there is such simple beauty in clothes on a clothesline, blowing in a summer breeze.  I especially love seeing my cloth diapers hanging out there.  Ahhhh!  It's the simple things in life that mean the most....  

While I must keep working on earning the Country Girl name, my kids have no need...they were simply born with it.  Well, Andrew & Luke fall more under the 'Country Boy' category, but you know what I mean ;)




Saturday, July 9, 2011

Is It Logical?

I am not sure how many of you have been following the Father Corapi scandal, but I really haven't.  I mean, I know enough about it to carry on a discussion if someone asks me about it, but I really don't know all the sordid details and such.  I also know that it saddens me to see this type of scandal, yet again, smear the beauty of our Catholic Faith.  However, what saddens me more is some people's response to the situation.  A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook about the latest news concerning Father Corapi's situation, and, of course, it generated all kinds of different comments and opinions on her Facebook page.  Most of them were from Catholics, saying we should pray for him and the Church, which, in my opinion, is a good response.  There was one woman, however, who said, "Another reason that I am no longer Catholic."  Now, most of the time, I don't get into debates and such on facebook, because I do not think it is the right platform for that.  It's just too easy for your words to be misconstrued and misinterpreted.  But, there are a few instances, like the time I got into a debate with a woman about allowing her little girls to wear bikinis, that I feel like something really does need to be said or defended...don't worry, I was not on the pro-bikini side...pro-life, yes; pro-bikini, no.  Good, glad we got that out of the way.  Moving right along.  I felt like this was one of those instances that I needed to say something, because where is the logic in her statement?!?  Here was my response to her comment:

"...what some Catholics/priests/religiou​s do to violate the Truths of the Catholic Faith should have nothing to do with who you are as a Catholic. The Church was still founded by Christ, irregardless of how poorly we live it out. I mean, using that logic, I should quit being wife and mother because of all the other women out there who abuse their children and cheat on their husbands. Besides, the cases of good, solid Catholics and priests are probably much higher than the negative ones...the media just ops out of showing those cases all the time, because, unfortunately, scandal sells...whether in secular or religious news"

Please excuse my horrific grammar...when I get passionate about something, I don't proofread very well.  I also followed with a comment saying that I was not, in anyway, trying to be condescending or anything like that, and that it was just some points to ponder.  She never responded back, but I hope that she saw my point.  If anything, maybe a seed was planted.   So, in the meantime, let us pray for our priests, that they may be good shepherds to the flock.  And, also, for the conversion of souls. 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Just Another Reason....

....that I am not interested in having a pet live indoors in addition to children:


Eventually, those will be finished projects that I can share here =)  In the meantime, that little Luke sure does keep us on our toes!  He's quite a change from Rachel, who is the next oldest.  She was always (and still is) so quiet and cautious.  She didn't start walking until 18 months old!  This little guy is 6 1/2 months old, and is cruising everywhere.  And, boy, does he get into stuff (obviously ;)


While he can sit all by himself, he much prefers to crawl....


Yesterday, I caught him doing this (the photo is a bit wobbly, but so was he, so it was either get a decent picture, or get him from falling!):


What you can't see in the picture is that he was cracking up laughing at his big brother =)  Those two are SO cute together!  It's obvious Luke adores Andrew.  But, then he also adores the screensaver on our computer....you know, that thing that bounces around the screen, while changing shapes and colors...


What's even funnier is watching Rachel, the 2 year old, sit and watch this, saying, "circle....square....balloon...star...."  hahahaha.  I love my kids!

Needless to say, we'll take this crawling, drooling, little boy over a dog any day =)
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