Sunday, February 28, 2010

to be willing

I'm crafting a letter to my husband's classmate regarding the teenage pregnancy situation.  Honestly, I don't think any offer of help from us will be seriously considered.  Sheer obedience keeps me writing and rewriting the piece.  Part of me fears we'll be laughed at, or deemed crazy religious freaks (even though I haven't written anything spiritual, or controversial).

Many American families want to adopt--some of whom are wealthy and desperate to become parents.  They could offer to pay for medical treatment and other expenses, and we'll barely be able to afford diapers and formula.  (Could I take some hormone, and manage to nurse an adopted or foster baby?  I've heard of such things.)

Anyhow, after reading that my husband is working only part-time and attending school, the teenager and her mother are likely to think they could do better themselves.  And they probably could, financially speaking.

 If I'd been leaning on my own understanding, I would have quit after the first paragraph.  But somehow, I can't quit.  The thing must get written, and delivered to this girl-mom, and her mom.

I've thought of various reasons God might have for pushing me to get this done, such as:  The letter might arrive just as they are getting ready to go to an abortion clinic.  They might go back in the house, and rethink that.

Other little scenarios swirl around my head, but I'll spare you the details.

There's little time in my life right now to devote to anyone outside my family.

That statement makes sense, but I know it's true only when I'm the keeper of time.

Who should order our days--keep the time--really?

Not us.  HE who created time, should control every second, hour, minute.  Our greatest challenge as mothers is to make sure we're not ordering our own days.  As much as we like being in charge, it dilutes his impact and his message--for us, and for our children.  We end up less blessed, less peaceful, less effective, less loving.

So, yes, I do have time to get involved, if he wants it.  I do have time to disciple this fourteen-year-old girl, and teach her how to be a mother.  I would love to nurture her child, while she, a girl-mom, grows into adulthood.  An adoption situation would take her parental rights away, possibly leaving her with life-long regret. I want her to experience life-long gratitude for the gift of motherhood.

Mothers would universally agree that all children are blessings--whether conceived too young or too old, whether enjoyed in our midst for five minutes, or for sixty years.  Even conception itself is a blessing, whether our baby makes it to our arms or not.  Teenagers cannot fathom these things.  But those of us who hold these truths in our hearts can teach them, before it's too late.  Before a young momma or a young daddy make decisions--or have decisions made for them--that will bring sorrow forevermore.

I want to see God take a tragic situation, and make it beautiful.  I want him to move mountains.

I want to be an instrument.  How...I don't know.  To tell you the truth, I'm afraid of teenagers.  I was a very careful, dutiful teenager, never getting into trouble.  I'd be out of my league with a mainstream teenager in my midst.

But life is messy, I tell myself, regarding these fears.  To shield ourselves from another's messy pain, is to live a sterile, useless life.

I'm learning, through the challenges of motherhood, to embrace mess.  What comes out of orderliness, really?  It's too sterile.  To untouched.  Too fleeting--like the kitchen floor that never stays clean.

I'm not advocating the cessation of mopping--just that we throw out the notion that we've had a successful day if we've cleaned enough.  Better to think...we've had a successful day if we've paused enough, and invested ourselves in our our unreached acquaintances.

After I became a Christian (age 31), I remember thinking, "I wish someone had invested a little bit of time in me, so that I could have known God earlier."

I recognize this as an ungrateful thought.  God did send people, but not until my late twenties.  Maybe he knows I wouldn't have listened, or received, earlier than that?  I don't know.

I'm grateful he changed me at all!  I've no right to take issue with the Almighty God, about when he decided to wake me up.

But still, I don't want another person--this young girl--to feel that same thing one day.  I want to be willing to invest my time in her heart, in her life, if she'll have me--all without upsetting her mother.

Could I help homeschool her (she attends public school now)?  Teach her to nurse her baby?  Take her in, so she is protected from further harm, while her mother works graveyard?  Or do I just offer to care for the baby--and later adopt the baby, should they desire that?  Could I be a daily or periodic babysitter, easing the stress on the girl-mom and her single mother?  Can our home be a spiritual catalyst, as she visits her baby and finishes school?

So many details.  So many questions.

To be willing.

God wants that from me, right now.  Not answers, or know-how.

Just willingness.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

camera drama

This represents the very last photo taken by our camera.  I took a picture of these cookie bars, and as I angled the camera just so to see if the photo was in focus, the camera dropped through my fingers, hitting the wood floor with a bang.  A rather disastrous bang, as it turned out.  The camera didn't recover.  

Before I get to the twist in the camera story, I wanted to tell you about the King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour I've been using in baked goods lately, including in these chocolate chip bars. It's an albino wheat with all the benefits of whole wheat, without the grainy taste.  No one around here detected any difference between this, and regular all-purpose white flour.  Although I liked the grainy taste of whole wheat flour in my baked goods, the kids didn't, and I feel good about serving them this alternative.  

Okay, back to the camera drama.  

About twenty-four hours prior to my mishap, husband talked about using some of the tax credit money to replace the camera (it's a sizable tax credit).  The flash had gone out several months after we received the camera as a baby gift in fall, 2008.  He wanted to get a better camera, and felt that such a purchase was bordering on a need, rather than a want, since the camera wasn't likely to work much longer.

He makes all the final financial decisions, while I only give input.  I rather like it that way, because God can blame husband when we mess up, and not me.  It just works for me.  Makes my life feel lighter, somehow, to not be culpable.  

Of course, I can't go around breaking cameras--especially not over chocolate chip cookie pictures. 

At the mention of a new camera, I reminded him initially that we needed to have as much cushion for the house payment as possible, since there still were so few jobs on the market.  We might really regret a camera purchase, in several months.

And I was serious.  I really thought it was a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad idea, to get a camera, when we had one that worked--albeit imperfectly.  

It just seems so strange that twenty-four hours later, I accidentally retire the camera. 

 I miss it horribly.  We took far too few pictures of the kids before being gifted the digital, and I've come to think of pictures as gifts--for our children and grandchildren.

The way it happened is just plain weird.  It's the sort of thing that makes me wonder what God is up to. A little too coincidental.  I've never dropped this camera before.

What was God trying to show me...or tell me?  Was I in fear of the future too much?  Not trusting God in regards to making timely house payments?  Or in regards to providing a job, despite a poor economy?

Maybe none of it's related.  I'm probably grasping too far, to process an everyday mishap

Anyway.  Husband is still planning on buying another camera.

And now, I'm happy about it.

And he's happy that I'm happy about it.  Because now, if we lose the house, it will seem like both our faults that we so foolishly spent money on a new camera.

Togetherness.  Out on the curb.  No roof over our heads, but a brand-new digital camera in our suitcase. 

That's wisdom folly to live by, wouldn't you say? 

My recommendation?

Don't try this at home.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a miracle?

Recently, I stated that my husband wouldn't adopt a baby unless God himself put the baby into husband's arms.


My heart is all a flutter.

Monday, husband came home from school, telling me that his classmate's fifteen-year-old son impregnated his fourteen-year-old girlfriend, while her mother worked the graveyard shift.

Several weeks prior to this, husband told me that classmate confided his son had been staying part of the night at his girlfriend's house.  He grounded him, and forbade a recurrence.  But he works a late shift as well, and is a single dad, due to his wife's cancer death.

The young girl is two months along, so I suppose the baby was already conceived at that point.  Her mother, by the way,  is a single mother.  Perhaps there wasn't any extended family to stay with her daughter at night, while she worked the graveyard shift.

It isn't known what the young girl and her mother will do.  Husband's classmate (baby's grandfather) hopes an abortion won't take place.

So do we.

It's none of our business.  Of course.

But, I did walk into our bedroom yesterday morning, while husband was studying for today's important exam.  Words spilled out, quite without thinking.  Heart spoke for me.

"Tell John I would gladly adopt that baby.  If we tell him soon, maybe an abortion won't be talked about.  If she doesn't want adoption, we can provide foster care indefinitely."

"Honey, we wouldn't qualify for either.  We are below the poverty level, and financial stability is a requirement."

I was dumbfounded at his ready answer.

"You would consider it?  I thought you said you couldn't take another baby?"

"I don't want another baby.  But I don't want them to have an abortion either.  I would do it to save a life."

My friends, I could tell my husband had already given this some thought, on his own.

There is hope for my baby-loving, child-rearing heart, Friends.

There is hope!

I don't know details.  Details involved would be huge.  Yes, huge. Complicated.

And worrisome.  A young girl of fourteen or fifteen would be at very high risk for preeclampsia.  The baby could be born very early.

Husband said he would get me in contact with his classmate.

Heart is a flutter.  Don't know what to say.

God will give words.  Prepare hearts.

Monday, February 22, 2010

importance of fathers

Earlier today I wrote a post about homeschooling, and indicated how important a father's role is as the spiritual head of the home.  I couldn't remember where I had come across surprising data on this matter, so I didn't include statistics.  After the kids were in bed, I had time to research.
Below you will find statistics on the importance of the father, in terms of his influence on the spirituality of his children (as measured by church-going habits).  
These statistics do not separate the various religious groups.  We know that not every church-goer has a personal, saving relationship with Jesus (some just have a relationship with their church).  I think these church attendance numbers would be higher for the kids of parents identifying themselves as having personal relationships with God (born-again believers). Many people may go to church on Sunday, but be completely in the world in every respect, not having any spiritual identity Monday through Saturday.  In this case, the children aren't boosted very much, spiritually speaking, by just attending church.
It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children.
If both father and mother attend regularly, 33 percent of their children will end up as regular churchgoers, and 41 percent will end up attending irregularly. Only a quarter of their children will end up not practicing at all. If the father is irregular and mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.
If the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshippers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church.
Let us look at the figures the other way round. What happens if the father is regular but the mother irregular or non-practicing? Extraordinarily, the percentage of children becoming regular goes up from 33 percent to 38 percent with the irregular mother and to 44 percent with the non-practicing, as if loyalty to father’s commitment grows in proportion to mother’s laxity, indifference, or hostility.
Before mothers despair, there is some consolation for faithful moms. Where the mother is less regular than the father but attends occasionally, her presence ensures that only a quarter of her children will never attend at all.
Even when the father is an irregular attender there are some extraordinary effects. An irregular father and a non-practicing mother will yield 25 percent of their children as regular attenders in their future life and a further 23 percent as irregulars. This is twelve times the yield where the roles are reversed.
Where neither parent practices, to nobody’s very great surprise, only 4 percent of children will become regular attenders and 15 percent irregulars. Eighty percent will be lost to the faith.
While mother’s regularity, on its own, has scarcely any long-term effect on children’s regularity (except the marginally negative one it has in some circumstances), it does help prevent children from drifting away entirely. Faithful mothers produce irregular attenders. Non-practicing mothers change the irregulars into non-attenders. But mothers have even their beneficial influence only in complementarity with the practice of the father.

Homeschooling. Why bother?


A huge, all encompassing, life-changing endeavor.  Often it means the family has to live on reduced income, rendering the family's life style far different than that of friends and relatives.  It can be lonely, in many respects.  Some people will never stop questioning.  And many will "quiz" your kids, possibly without your knowledge, trying to decide if they're learning anything.

Why bother?  And how do you help your husband understand why it might be important?  Try this website.  Statistics clearly show how difficult it is for students to remain faithful to Jesus after leaving the public school system, as young adults.  Teachers are liberal, for the most part. The exact percentage will vary of course, depending on which area of the country you're in.  Education is indoctrination to a large extent, although it's distasteful to think of it that way.

I taught first grade in the northern part of San Bernardino County (CA), which happens to have a large percentage of born-again Christians.  The teaching staff at my school included a lot of Christians, who helped lead me to God, resulting in my becoming a Christian in my fifth year of teaching.  God can orchestrate amazing things, no matter where we live.  GOD IS GOD--always bigger than the most hopeless-seeming circumstance!

Anyhow, I spent five minutes telling my husband about the statistics I learned from the above site, and he was strongly convicted, as the spiritual leader of our home.  He remains extremely committed to our homeschooling endeavor.

It isn't for everyone.  And I do think--and statistics back this up--that if a father is acting as the spiritual leader of a home, than it is far more likely the children will follow Jesus when they are on their own, regardless of where they went to school.  The father's spiritual lead is the most important thing.  It can take many forms, but mainly the father needs to spend time weekly (not necessarily daily) teaching his children about Jesus.  Spending this time, and leading family prayer, drives home to the children that Dad is a man of God.  That real men do love Jesus.

Often mothers are more spiritual by nature, but when Dad demonstrates that nothing is more important than God, it can mean all the difference later, when the children are in the world.  Being in the world too early doesn't equip children to solidify their belief system, or develop a personal relationship with God.  It dilutes the good that home and church are doing, in those early years.  Dad and Mom have to then work much harder to drive home, and live out, spiritual truths--all with a time crunch, because there are so few hours at home before bedtime.

If the mother is the only believer in the home, and Dad is against homeschooling, Jesus can apply grace to that mother, and to those children.  And Mom's fervent, unceasing prayers can change things, despite what the statistics state.  The Bible tells us that her respect for her husband, and her godly character, will win over her husband's heart. (1 Peter 3:1-4.  Click on the red to see this verse.) In this, as in all other things, "trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding".

Amy has a post up about homeschooling today, which prompted me to sit down and pound the keys, in the middle of the school day even.  Nothing is more important than the salvation of our children.  Nothing.  Don't wait for the know how.  Go forward with faith.  God will do the rest.  Really.  Trust me on that.

If you have come to a different conclusion in your own life, don't be offended by this post.  God certainly might have reason for your children to be in public school.  Trust what He is telling you.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is there room for Momma?

This big guy always finishes his dinner long before the rest of us.  Not one to sit still, he usually runs large toy cars around in a circle, making no small amount of noise.  I've tried various things to keep him at the table, such as asking him to practice flash cards, or color.  Too messy though, since the table is still full of dishes and food.

Tonight, I told him to go to the playroom and read a book.  Lo and behold, he did.  Gladly.  He went through the library books first thing, looking for this fairy-tale story book.

We could all hear him reading aloud to himself.

 I knew this day would come, when my children would just sit and read--not needing help with the words.  Although the boys have been reading for awhile, this is a new feeling for me.  I'm used to sitting right there with them, or near them, making sure they complete their assignment fully.

I can't quite describe this new feeling.  Not pride, so much.  More of a deep-down contentedness, coupled with a sadness that their wee childhood has passed away...never to return.

When a child sits alone with a book, he connects with the author, not with Momma or Daddy.  It's a very grown up pastime....a very independent thing.

He may or may not share with me what he's reading, or how it makes him feel.  When we read together in a chair, I know how he feels.  When the story is tender, he says to me, "I don't want to cry.  I don't."  Meanwhile, I'm already crying over the story.

He doesn't need me to sit with him anymore.  He never will again.  Shortly, he'll stop subvocalizing, and start reading silently, without even realizing it.

I need to blow him a kiss, and say "Have fun, Son, on your adventures."  (So long as I know something about what he's reading, of course.)

I must do this...this letting go.  But what I really want, is to say,

"Can I come along, Son?  Is there room for Momma?"

It's the same feeling with the nursing.  Baby Beth isn't always interested in a gratuitous afternoon nursing session.  She's not tired, and there are adventures outside of Momma's arms, waiting to be had.  And I want to say,

"Can I come along, Darling?  Is there room for Momma?"

As I sit here, crying through this post, I really don't know how to endure this.

Why is this so hard...this letting go?  It feels like the hardest thing I've ever had to do.

And I want to do it well.  Gracefully.  But I don't know if I can.  I'm usually pregnant by now, when the youngest is about fourteen months.

Dear Lord, thank you.  Thank you for these precious babies to love, to hold, to nurture.  I can't solve all their problems, or cushion all their falls, or smooth out all their faults.  But I can point them to you.  Help me to do that.  Help me to show them how to live in continuous connection with you.  And please fill this void in my heart, created by their growing independence.  Only you can fill it. I know that.  In your name, Amen. 

Friday, February 19, 2010

notes and blessings

Notes and Blessings for Friday

- My husband passed an important computer certification exam last weekend!  No time to relax around here though--he has another one next week.  The exams are very difficult and most people barely pass.  Students are nervous going into the exams and much relieved after passing.

- I had a good heart to heart with my pediatrician about the psychiatry visit.  He said he gets this same diagnosis a lot from this particular psychiatrist, and he is always skeptical.  However, recently he learned that one of his patients, who had autistic-like symptoms, really benefited from the vision and occupational therapies he received on the advice of this psychiatrist.  Since autistic kids have a lot of sensory issues, it made sense to me that these therapies would prove beneficial to them, or to a child whose symptoms were borderline autistic.

That aside, the pediatrician said he tended to agree with me--that Peter has ADHD.  He offered to refer me to a different psychiatrist.  At first that seemed appealing, so that we could get a second opinion on the auditory and visual processing disorders that were mentioned.  But after researching both disorders, I'm convinced they don't match up with how I see Peter perform.  So, we're leaning toward dealing with Peter's ADHD and anxiety without help--just using our instincts. We'll reevaluate it when he's about ten.  That can be a turning point for ADHD symptoms, with sufferers becoming more aggressive and manipulative.

- My 14 month-old Beth has dropped down to one nap a day--about 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  My 38 month-old Mary has dropped her nap, making it prudent and convenient to put the two girls down at 7 p.m., giving me plenty of time to read chapter books to the boys, until their bedtime at 8:30 p.m.  This is going to be so much easier, as long as I can get dinner on the table earlier--like 5 p.m.  I'll still try to get Beth to settle down for an afternoon nursing though.  I don't want her to drop that feeding entirely.

- We will no longer try to get Peter to go to children's church.  Instead, we'll allow him to stay with us in the sanctuary.  He'll get bored eventually, and may come up with the courage to go to class without a parent.  The goal of therapy is to face one's fears.  If we sit outside the class so that he gets the teaching and social interaction, he isn't having to face his fears.  Better to let him decide when he's ready to do that, so that the entire family is less impacted by the weekly anxiety struggle.  Just dealing with the ADHD thing can be draining enough.  And besides, children's church is a new phenomena.  Kids used to always attend church with their parents.  I'm sure Peter will glean something from being in the sanctuary, even though Pastor is on the intellectual side, delivering rather complicated (but good) sermons.

- Like many others in snow-covered, cloudy states, I've got a bit of the winter blues.  I can't think of a single thing to say, beyond these updates.

So....time to sign off.  Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

the professionals

You'd never guess.

Peter and I went to his very first psychiatry appointment yesterday.  Me thinks it might be our last.

The doctor took a history from me, and asked about symptoms.  Then, after spending ten minutes with my beloved son, the woman calls me back in and says these things:

- no ADHD

- she suspects Sensory Integration Disorder (not an accepted psychiatric diagnosis--no evidence that the "therapies" work, considered quackery by many in neurological field, pediatric field, and psychiatry field. Is gaining acceptance in school districts, however.)

- she suspects auditory processing disorder

- she suspects visual processing disorder

- tells me he is probably sensitive to milk protein, and wheat gluten (even though no food allergies in nuclear family, and no sign of GI symptoms).

She gave me a huge stack of stuff to read, and suggested some vitamin supplements that run $70.00/bottle, with a three-pill-a-day dose.

She gave me a prescription for a speech/language evaluation, a sensory integration evaluation, and a specialized vision evaluation.

I told her we had already made the switch to whole foods (no additives/dyes), so she spared me that lecture.  She feels too many kids are being diagnosed with ADHD and autism, when the real problem is toxins in the environment, coupled with genetic sensitivities (or allergies).  The toxins cause, in essence, brain damage--leading to sensory issues and later, behavior and learning issues.

It didn't matter to her that my son wasn't having any problems in school (okay, he is a lousy speller, but Daddy kinda is too).  Usually, a learning disability translates (by eight years old) into problems grasping new concepts, or in retaining new information.  I never spend more than two days on a new concept.  He gets it by day two.

He displays an awful lot of ADHD symptoms when not kept busy, but of all the sensory integration symptoms, I could only pick out a couple that seemed a good match--the fact that he chews on his sleeves, that he's hyperactive, and that he gets hot and bothered easily.  That's overwhelming evidence, wouldn't you say?

While we were in her office, Peter complained about his loose tooth.  She immediately picked up on that, and said that kids with sensory integration disorder frequently have more trouble with loose teeth.

Okay, I didn't laugh at that.  But I wanted to.  As a former first-grade teacher, I can tell you that EVERY CHILD IS BOTHERED BY LOOSE TEETH.  They are obsessed until the tooth comes out--driving their teachers and parents nuts. They rarely stop either trying to twist it out, or worrying about it hurting when it comes out, or accidentally swallowing it when it comes out.  Am I wrong here, Moms?

The thought of his fairly serious anxiety disorder just suddenly disappearing after giving up all milk products, or all gluten products, seems laughable to me.  Yes, that is her answer to his anxiety.  It is related to sensory integration, and with diet changes, it will probably go away.

The therapist (an intern) he is seeing for his anxiety disorder isn't helping either.  He is supposed to think happy thoughts, so the anxious thoughts will go away.  Or he is supposed to work on relaxation breathing.  Or tell himself to STOP as soon as the scary thoughts begin.  All this is well and good, truly--except that none of it is working.  He still won't go to children's church unless one of us sits within view.  Then, he keeps looking at us, to make sure we haven't betrayed him and left without his knowledge (we don't ever leave).

He starts worrying about Sunday church by Wednesday, and Wednesday AWANA by Sunday night.  Nothing has changed, even though he's been off of the Strattera at least three weeks.

Truly, I think he will get over this separation anxiety.  The more time that passes since last summer's VBS mishap (my husband forgot Mary in the church nursery, and came home without her, only to drive immediately back to get her) the more likely he is to quit dwelling on it.  It might be a year or two, but he will get over it.

This problem will likely be replaced by something else that unduly bothers him, but that too, will eventually pass.  Over time he will learn coping skills, with our help and the Lord's help.  I'm not sure going to all these appointments is doing us a bit of good.

The whole thing yesterday reminded me of the time last spring when I took Mary for a speech evaluation.  The therapist spent about ten minutes with her, and then decided she had apraxia, which is a fairly serious speech disorder, much like what happens after someone has a stroke and has trouble speaking, only it is not from trauma, but present from birth usually.

Mary started talking at 27 months, and has developed a beautiful vocabulary with long sentences, using words (correctly in context) like obviously, miraculous, delectable, terrible, horrible, magnificent, and actually.  She does not have a language disorder, although her articulation isn't entirely clear yet to strangers.

At age two, at least 50% of a child's speech should be correctly understood by strangers; at age 3, 75% should, and at age 4, 100% of the child's speech should be understood by strangers.  Mary, at age 3 years, two months, makes herself understood at a rate of 65-70% (for strangers), so she is lagging a bit in articulation, but I suspect that is due to her pacifier use past age one.  Peter also used a pacifier past age one, and he also has articulation problems (th and l), which we are working to correct at home.

Sadly, when I was in the educational system, I believed wholeheartedly in the wisdom of professionals, rather than in parents.  Now, it's quite the opposite.

My son is very hard to raise.  I'm left with that.  He makes me shout out to the Lord often, for various reasons.  Today, for example, he didn't stop talking the entire day.  I'm emotionally exhausted, and dread doing the dishes, or anything else tonight.

But he is also a fantastic kid--full of life and love and ideas.

He'll be just fine, and I love him just the way he is.  

I guess it took a visit to some arrogant "professional" to make me realize that I know my child, and what he needs, and what works for him.

Of course I do.

Why did I ever think (again) that some "professional" could tell me what my child needed?

Professionals can be a wonderful resource.  But that's all--just a resource.  Not the answer.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

aspirations of grandeur

As a young girl I sang along to the Carpenters, Peter, Paul and Mary, and Bread.  There were others, too, I'm sure.

And do you know, I wanted to be a singer so badly.  So strong was the desire that my heart ached at times.

Because I had a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad voice.  My sister and my cousin told me so.  Once.  And they laughed at my tears.

So I became a teacher instead of a singer.  And I was happy.

Then along came Brandon, a tall, blond first grader, who decided to inform me that Mrs. Colosky, his kindergarten teacher, sang A LOT BETTER THAN ME.

Oh, the ache.

Now last year my beloved Paul looked me straight in the eye, cupped my face in his hands, and said, "I love the way you sing."  The song was "Hush Little Baby", and I've sung it hundreds of times.  That's apparently how long it takes for me to sound good.

Anyway, I also really want to be a good cook.  Very badly.  But the thing is, once again, I'm pretty horrible at it.

No one but me spends ninety minutes, while fighting sheer exhaustion, looking at different recipes for homemade chicken broth--learning about all the intricacies.  I hate touching chicken, but my hubby thankfully does that part--he's the meat lover and I'd just as soon never buy meat again.  Unfortunately, all our children take after him--real carnivores.

I may have to practice a good year or more, but by golly, someday....

Someday....I am going to make chicken broth worth commenting on.

And someone will cup my face in their hands, look me in the eye, and say, "I really love the way you make chicken broth."

The End

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Respecting your Valentine

Valentine's Day.  Do you celebrate it?

No, I don't mean the pink and red construction paper, or the dainty chocolates.

Or the cheesy, store-bought Valentines--which the retail industry elaborates on each year, in an attempt to suck even more money from our pockets.  There used to be an aisle for Valentine cards and chocolates, now.....there's everything from heart-covered underwear, to baking supplies, to picture frames.  Big business, this love day.

What I mean is, do you use the day to think about your spouse, and how well you've loved him over the last year?  Or, as it translates to men--how well you've respected him in the last year?  Respect equals love, for our man.

Ephesians 5:33
However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

I do respect my husband, in theory.  But there is this one thing about him that works to erode my respect.  My heart doesn't react with grace, so my words and actions plummet into sinful territory--into disrespect.

And that disrespect hurts not only my husband, by also my children.  Their sense of security depends in part on how gracious I am toward their daddy.  And the health of their own marriages depends on this as well.  In short, the stakes are huge.

The one thing of which I speak is small, trivial.  A simple personality trait that he never chose.  It embedded in his genes, quite without his permission, just as some of my unlovely traits did.

It's his pessimism.  I hate that about him.  I spend so much energy wishing he were a glass-half-full kind of guy.  While pessimism is technically a personality trait, if allowed to run wild, it leads to the counting of hardships, rather than blessings--and then dwelling on those hardships with a hardened heart.  Eventually, thanklessness takes root--replacing gratefulness.

The most humbling thing about my graceless sin (my irritation), is that my husband is a better husband, than I am a wife. He is much better at loving me unconditionally, than I am at respecting him unconditionally.  Much of the not-so-good stuff in our marriage stems from my heart--not his.

Can I say in my defense that he's been a Christian since age 7, and me only since age 31?  Okay..probably not.  I can't think that.

A breakthrough occurred for me, recently.  We were discussing something and his mother's traffic accident and death came up.  He seldom speaks of this, unless I ask.  Even then, few details come forth.

He mentioned that when he (at age 16) and his sister (at age 13) went to the morgue to identify their mother's body, they found her skull crushed, and her face disfigured.  Few such tears ever emerge, but when he mentioned this, there were tears.  He added that he was never the same after that....that he didn't know how someone could be the same.

Unfortunately, neither he or his sister were ever offered grief counseling.  And I don't understand why they, rather than their father, went to the morgue.  My husband said they chose to, but I feel law enforcement or someone else should have counseled their father against sending his children.

When our first baby, a boy we named Isaac Abraham (because we had to give him up to the Lord), passed away in utero, my husband chose to look at him as he was born.  I did not, but I held him after the nurse wrapped him up completely--even his face--in a blanket.

The horror of that image remains with my husband.  How I wish he hadn't looked! Our baby apparently had passed away some days earlier--he wasn't just small....there were signs of old death.  The nurse told us he would look like a miniature, but fully-formed baby (and he was fully-formed and miniature).  But she didn't anticipate how old death would change the scene.  Or, because she had seen such things many times, and the babies weren't ever hers, she didn't fully understand the emotional impact.

These two scenes--his mother, our baby--represent my husband's most vulnerable life moments.  God has shown me in the last weeks how these scenes can help me see my husband the way Jesus sees him.

We can love the way Jesus loves, by seeing the way Jesus sees.

Lately, when my husband makes some glass-half-empty statement, instead of becoming intensely irritated, I remember his humanity.  I stay quiet (mercy), or I complement (grace).  It's not a perfect process--I'm still a sinner after all.  But it's moving my heart, words, and deeds into respectful territory.

And I also pray that God softens painful images from the past--in a way that only He can.

I can't fathom what it may be about your husband that drives you into sinful, mouthy mode.

But I do know this.

You can love him well (respect him) when you choose to see his humanity--his brokenness--rather than his faults.  It will remind you that we are all broken.  We all need mercy and grace.

And we were given it.

So we're called to extend it.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 
Ephesians 4:2

Read a post by the We Are That Family author, about respecting husbands.

Read a repost by the A Wise Woman Builds Her Home author, about respecting sons.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peter and the kitchen

As I've mentioned, Peter no longer takes medication for his ADHD.  Instead, he cooks and bakes.  The more I involve him in the kitchen, the more I find myself wondering if he even has ADHD.

Keep him busy, I've told myself over the years.  But often, this didn't alter behavior enough.  Now I realize he has to be busy doing something he's passionate about--like hunting insects, or cooking and baking.  The calming effect is marked, and the outbursts much fewer, following substantial time in the kitchen.  I'd call that therapy.

Earlier this evening Peter and Paul enjoyed hallway basketball.  My husband attached a hoop to the door at the end of the hallway, providing a winter outlet for exercise.  Vigorous.  That pretty much describes the hallway scene around here.

I started dinner during their game (nerf basketball), and Peter's radar didn't disappoint.  Interrupting their play, he appeared in the kitchen.  "Are you cooking?  Can I help?"

Above you see the vegetables he prepared for the steamer basket.

Here you see the salad he prepared.  I only washed the greens and cut off the cauliflower stems.  He did the rest.
He knows how to poke the yam and potatoes, readying them for the microwave.

While he worked it dawned on me that at eight years old, he could easily prepare a whole meal.  We will most certainly work toward that.  In order to succeed at whatever he chooses in life, he must learn to control his ADHD.  I believe the kitchen will be a big part of that, and I thank God for pointing us in the whole-food direction.  Creating food from scratch consumes much of the day, if one counts the three meals plus snack preparation.  My right-hand man stands ready to assist.  Or take over.

Lessons we're learning along our journey to whole, healthier food:

- Plan menus weekly to facilitate prep work--like soaking beans, or starting spaghetti sauce, or making corn muffins.

- When shopping, check labels carefully.  I found that the jelly and peanut butter in our cupboard both contain high-fructose corn syrup, which hasn't been studied enough, in my opinion.  It is highly processed.

- If you don't keep up with snack-food prep, you'll end up feeling like there's nothing to eat.  Fruit won't always carry you to the next meal, and cheese is an expensive option.  Plan ahead for snacks, as well as for meals.

Speaking of snacks--here's what left of the Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (And Bean) Cookies.  The second day, they were softer.  The kids devoured them.  We started with 45.  Okay...maybe I did eat eight of the 45.  But only because I couldn't find anything else to eat!  I didn't like them.  Really.

I researched fat substitutes and learned that applesauce or other fruit puree succeeds as a substitute for oil in cakes and muffins, but not as a substitute for the butter in cookies.  I think the bean puree is a good alternative, but in the recipe I used, it eliminated all but 3 TBSP of the butter--substituting 3/4 C white beans (pureed in blender with 2 TBSP reserved bean liquid). Also, the recipe reduced the sugar and increased the cooking time.  Lower fat recipes overcook easily, so it didn't make sense to bake them for fifteen to seventeen minutes.  I did 15 just to make sure I followed the recipe fully, and they were too hard (although for whatever reason, they were softer today).

My research also taught me that when taking fat out, one has to put flavor in--so next time I'll increase the vanilla extract.

Anyhow, I'll be tweaking both oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookie recipes this week, with a little bean fun.  Emphasis on a little.   I'll post the resulting recipes when they're finalized.

High-Fructose Corn Syrup links:

High-Fructose Corn Syrup Contains Mercury

High-Fructose Corn Syrup - How Dangerous Is It

That concludes this update.  Good night, friends.  Thanks for reading!

powerful story

Did you catch this powerful birth story link posted the other day on Pursing Titus 2?  Get ready to experience something beautiful.  Nothing too graphic displayed, and no one dies.  Just pure beauty.

offer them up

Plans.  Lots of plans.  I've got them, you've got them.  And they're lofty, aren't they?  Otherwise, why bother thinking them up?  Of course they're lofty.  We work hard at them.  

But often they fail, at least partially.  Or they succeed, but we aren't steadfast enough--focused enough--to keep up with them.  Does this drive you crazy, making you feel like Paul the Apostle? "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." Romans 7:15

The plans I am lamenting over today involve reading to my kids more (at their respective levels), decluttering my kitchen counter throughout the day, and keeping up with paperwork coming in the mail.  The list of frustrations can get long, some days.  I problem-solve and move forward, but then.....I fall.  Smallish issues like these are never quite resolved.  I get close, but never arrive.  

I could blame a whole lot of it on a very active baby who never allows me to sit down, save for her nap times.  We can hardly get through a paragraph in our read-aloud chapter books before she needs another rescuing or redirecting.  Daddy's help used to be the answer, but with the intense studying required for his computer tech classes, I hesitate to ask for that help now.  

During naptime I have to scurry around and get things done I can't do while Little Miss Curiosity is awake--like unload the dishwasher (she climbs on it you know), or the dryer.

While I fight discouragement over these things often, I know deep down why my plans don't quite succeed.  

Because if they did, I wouldn't need God.  

He created me for His glory and for His fellowship.  I wouldn't partake of that fellowship enough, if I didn't so desperately need Him.

As I look back over my years as a stay-at-home mom, I see areas he has changed for his glory--areas of my heart. So it's not as though all is futile.

One thing I'm missing most days is the act of praying through the small things--the things that wouldn't seem to matter to God, on the surface. 

For example, each time I pass the cluttered counter, I can pray, "Lord, this bothers me--takes some of my peace away.  Help me learn to declutter in frequent spurts, rather than in a long spurt at night, when I'm tired.  If this is important to YOU, help me solve it.  If not, help me accept it.  In Your Name, Amen" 

Nothing in the Bible tells me that God doesn't care about each and every aspect of my life. I learn there that he does care.   He does.  So I need to take advantage of that and give him all my prayers.....even the ones that would seem beneath him, like my kitchen counter.  

He welcomes every opportunity to connect with me.

What small things take away your peace--grinding at you day after day?

Offer them up, too.  


Margie....about those Chocolate Chip Oatmeal (And Bean) cookies.  We made them today and they were gross not worthy.  The recipe can be found using the healthy snack food link in my previous food post.  My suggestion is to only alter the butter by half (half butter/half bean puree).  (This recipe called for only 3 tablespoons of butter.)  The other suggestion is to add more sugar.  They weren't sweet enough, which was the main problem...or soft enough.  I'll have to experiment with adding other things in the place of applesauce.  I've heard of that before, but have never tried it yet.

Friday, February 12, 2010

short video to rejoice over

Please!  Watch this short video, and deeply rejoice.  People in Malawi, Africa are getting new Bibles--possibly their first copy ever.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

whole-foods update

I just spent two hours researching healthier food options as part of my quest to cook from scratch and avoid additives.  I love research!  Seriously.  I easily lose track of time doing this.  My husband thinks I'm nuts in this regard, but he always comes to me when he needs an answer to something, although rather reluctantly (it means he has the kids solo while I do my research magic).

Even after ten and a half years of marriage, it still amazes me how we complement and balance each other.  God is a perfect matchmaker, isn't he?  Oh, sure...we like to take the credit for choosing a good husband.  But the truth is, left to our own devices, we'd probably pick a toad.  God knows us intimately--the good, bad and ugly.  We tend to define ourselves by just the good, and sweep the rest under our subconscious rug.

Anyhow, I didn't sit down here to write about marriage tonight, truth be told.

I wanted to share two nutrition resources I found to be particularly good.  One is the Nutrition Data Blog, located on my sidebar.  It has a search feature, making it easy to look up any topic.  The other is a Mayo Clinic website, listed at the very bottom of my blog roll (no RSS feed).

I've been to the grocery store twice since deciding to cook from scratch and avoid processed foods.  On the spectrum of processed foods, our cupboards weren't horrible, but there were definitely things we could do without.

The only thing slightly processed from the first grocery trip was dry tortellini.  The ingredients list isn't bad at all, the nutrient count is good, and I find them great for livening up homemade vegetable soup, making it a hearty, healthy winter lunch option (although watch for sodium content).

The second trip involved a search for chicken broth, after learning that homemade broth, while a great idea, happens to be very time consuming (I'll get to it occasionally).  We love soups in the fall and winter, but commercial broth is expensive, considering the amount needed.  For the past four weeks we've been using chicken broth granules to save money.  Today I was horrified to learn that they contain MSG!  Of the liquid broths, only one brand was formulated without MSG (Swanson), which I bought.  We are now making all our own snack foods (no more baked chips, crackers, cookies), so I can probably justify spending more on the best broth option.

I've been reading labels for a very long time, but I look mainly for sodium, fat, fiber and protein content.  Time to hone my skills in this regard.  Food industry companies have horrible ethics; they simply can't be trusted (the lesson of the day).

Tonight I also spent a good forty minutes researching bread-making machines.  We use a loaf of bread every day and a half, at between $1.88 to $2.30/loaf for 100% whole wheat (3 grams fiber per slice).  Bread ingredients aren't all that bad, but you have to watch for unhealthy fats, too much sodium, and of course...most have preservatives.  Costlier brands might not.  I'm convinced we are better off using a bread machine and just making one loaf a day.  The Nutrition Data Blog guru, Monica, suggests a blend of whole wheat flour with King Arthur hi-maize flour.  She also mentioned a white whole grain flour (made from albino wheat, I believe it said) which bakes up softer with better taste.

Lastly, I have to tell you something truly exciting--if you're a nutrition nerd, that is!  You can bake up healthier snack foods for your family by substituting beans for 75% of the fat content.  Weird, huh?  Who cares!  People say it tastes fine.  I printed out a recipe for Oatmeal Chocolate Chip (And bean) Cookies, which we'll try tomorrow.  Try this link for a list of healthier baked goods.

Well, then.  That concludes today's update on my whole food/healthy food journey.  Do any of you have a bread machine?  I read that the Panasonic model, selling at approx. $125, is the best mid-priced option.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

good things

When it snows and snows, and then snows some more, what do you feel like doing?  Sipping cocoa?  Playing games?  Cozying up together for a movie?  Getting crafty?

Around here, the answer is baking or applesauce making--if we have enough apples.  I'm trying hard not to bake up our favorite (chocolate chip cookies) very often, since nutritionally, it's a poor choice.  

But I still want to respect our sweet tooths.  

The answer for us?  We've been baking up healthy cookie bars, sweet breads, and fruit crisps.  Today we made a delicious pumpkin bread, substituting whole wheat flour for the white flour.  Compared to the 1 cup of butter in chocolate chip cookies, the pumpkin bread required only a half cup of olive oil.  The pumpkin was packed with fiber (and other wonderful things), and the wheat flour added three more grams, compared to less than one gram of fiber for white flour.  I personally love a grainy taste.  My family will get used to it--barely noticing the difference after a few months.  I plan to use only whole wheat flour for baking from now on.  They've all eaten whole wheat bread since infancy, so the transition to grainy baked goods shouldn't take long.  

The cookies require 1.5 cups of sugar, while the pumpkin bread calls for 1 cup--not a huge savings on sugar, but oh well.  I love all things pumpkin!

I'm glad Hubby took this picture. I will treasure it always, despite the cluttered-counter view.  I'm so grateful for the togetherness that homeschooling affords us.  It feels very right...for us.

I turned away to beat some eggs on the other counter and to help brother with a tricky math problem.  When I turned back to pour in the eggs, I saw this little darling up on brother's chair.  She's asleep now of course, but oh how I want to kiss that little nose!  Pictures always humble me, reminding me of the blessings before me.  In the chaos of a single day, that thought can get temporarily lost.  

We also baked up some butternut squash, with brown sugar, butter and cinnamon.  What a wonderful smelling house we enjoyed today!

Looks like we won't be making that homeschooling Valentine party tomorrow.  Two of our kids started wheezing on exertion today, and they all still have junky-sounding coughs, with sneezing and drainage.  We are so disappointed!  But, we have quite a bit of new snow, with more expected tomorrow.  The roads in the area of the party won't be plowed (country roads)--so maybe God is saving us from something?  I choose to look at it that way.

I hated to post about food tonight after reading two more Haiti stories. Lately, I cringe every time one of my kids complains about their food.  The depth of despair overwhelms!  I think many people will be forever changed by these stories--that's true for me.   Perhaps God's intent all along?  

Many are perishing now, but without some intervention and/or exposure in terms of their corrupt government, more and more would perish over many years.  The extent of the corruption is known well now, the world over.  Going forward, very little money will go directly to their government, bringing positive change over time. 

With continued coverage, more Americans will give on a regular basis--either their time, money, or talents.  I really believe that.  Between the effects of a serious recession, and the recent images of poverty and hunger, the American years of material gluttony are hopefully over.

Finally tonight, I want to include a bit about God's faithfulness and provision.  We did our taxes recently.  My jaw dropped at the final number for our 2009 income....less than $25,000.  Um, yeah.  For a family of six.  Shocking.  

And we aren't going hungry.  And we haven't defaulted on our mortgage.  And our credit is still good--except for the fact that we had to put car repairs on our credit cards.  A tax credit is coming our way (earned income credit).  It will be a cushion for the house payment going forward, which is a blessing.  Unemployment extensions expire shortly.

It could be far, far worse.  Next month will make a whole year of underemployment.

I stand amazed at the miracle.  Whatever you're going through, remember isn't as big as your God.  Think about how he has held you up in the past.  We all have these stories.....whether financial or otherwise.  Write them down.  Build your faith--and your children's--with them.  God comes through in miraculous ways...feeding five thousand with a few loaves...making wine from water.  

Don't be downcast, thinking there is no solution.  It can be painful....and long....but God will sustain you, as he works things out for your good.

Romans 8:28  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

fourteen months and poems to treasure

She's asleep now of course.  I so want to kiss those jellied cheeks.  I've been giving her plain bread for the longest time, and then it dawned on me that she might like something on her bread. Duh.  Now she eats more wholesome whole grains.  

She is fourteen months today.
She climbed the safety gate and fell off the top of it.
There is no relaxing.....ever.
A new forehead bruise appears every week.
Our main rooms are mostly devoid of decor.  Everything within her reach is gone, except for books.

I can't keep up with the re-shelving of books.  I now gather those she has dispersed and put them in a laundry basket--to deal with in my spare time. 
Now the basket is overflowing with books, and we saw her climb the "mountain" today.

She dumps tubs and baskets and uses them as stools.

If the boys or Daddy forget to close the bathroom door, she notices it first thing and runs in there, hoping to find the toilet open, or toilet paper within her reach.  I can't buy any toilet safety gadgets right now, so I lecture the boys in desperation.  Since she climbs the gate now, it's more imperative that they remember.

When she's in my arms and we're walking down the hall, she stretches out her hands, reaching for wall pictures.

I love every inch of her.  Every pore.  I don't even want her to grow up.  She's my biggest blessing--an unexpected, delightful gift from God.

But she's. driving. me. CRAZY!

Now she's pulling it.  Next she'll turn it on its side and use it to stand on.  All wobbly and proud atop it, she displays no fear.

Our side yard.  No foot steps yet.  Fresh snow reminds me of new beginnings.  We ate our breakfast in wonder, looking out this window.  What you can't see is the way the early sun shown on this blanket, making it glisten.  Breathtaking.

Guess what my boys said when they saw these beans?  "She bought us craft supplies!"  Uh, no.  The only dried beans I usually buy are navy beans and legumes.  Peter was excited about the prospect of new recipes! That boy is destined to be a chef.  Cooking and baking are cures for any behavior problem he throws our way.  Just keep that boy busy!  Give him something to chop, something to mix, something to add spices to....whatever.  He lives for it!  

Over the weekend I ran across a post on Apples of Gold about a delightful poetry book, The Path to Home, by Edgar Guest (how do you underline in new blogger editor?).  It happens to be out of print, but the poems can be found on this website.  Tear jerker mom poems, to be sure.  Get the kleenex.  Thank you to Holly, for posting about this gem of a book!

Below you'll find one that fits my post today.

Give me the house where the toys are strewn,
Where the dolls are asleep in the chairs,
Where the building blocks and the toy balloon
And the soldiers guard the stairs.
Let me step in a house where the tiny cart
With the horses rules the floor,
And rest comes into my weary heart,
For I am at home once more.
Give me the house with the toys about,
With the battered old train of cars,
The box of paints and the books left out,
And the ship with her broken spars.
Let me step in a house at the close of day
That is littered with children’s toys,
And dwell once more in the haunts of play,
With the echoes of by-gone noise.
Give me the house where the toys are seen,
The house where the children romp,
And I’ll happier be than man has been
‘Neath the gilded dome of pomp.
Let me see the litter of bright-eyed play
Strewn over the parlor floor,
And the joys I knew in a far-off day
Will gladden my heart once more.
Whoever has lived in a toy-strewn home.
Though feeble he be and gray,
Will yearn, no matter how far he roam,
For the glorious disarray
Of the little home with its littered floor
That was his in the by-gone days ;
And his heart will throb as it throbbed before,
When he rests where a baby plays.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


When the whole family succumbs to illness, certainly prudent adult behavior would include going to bed early.  You would think so.  But is that what I did last night, given that my throat and head clearly screamed the need for rest?  NO!  Not me.  I seem incapable of such self-control, and had to eat humble pie about yesterday's fruit of the spirit post (self-control being a huge part of that Scripture).

No, I didn't speak harshly or behave poorly today.  But I'm sicker now, for the lack of sleep. Baby Beth tossed and turned in misery for a couple hours, right after I turned in at 1:30 a.m., mostly because Tylenol (generic)--all I had for infants--is a poor fever reducer.  I feel physically drained and horribly foolish.

Reminds me of the Scripture about Paul doing what he does not want to do.

 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.  
My husband tells me there is disagreement among theologians regarding this Scripture.  Some feel Paul is talking about the struggles of a Christian, while others feel Paul is referring to his own struggles before becoming a Christian. (Romans 7:15)

Anyhow, after working with the kids all day, going to bed is the last thing on my mind.  It has always been that way with me.  Having down time and doing things I can't do during the day--like read or write or follow the news--becomes powerfully tempting, no matter what my physical state.

Sarah Palin is to speak at the Tea Party Convention, and I have no TV reception (remember that lofty idea?).  I thought the Almighty Internet might have live news available, but not true, so far as I can tell.  Just quick clips after the fact.

So I wasted a lot of time last night trying to find coverage.  The blog remake went surprisingly fast, in comparison

But that isn't what I wanted to share tonight.

Lately, a passion for authentic homemaking--cooking from scratch, eating whole foods, etc.--consumes my thoughts.  I read this post about the lost art of homemaking, and I kept nodding my head.  That's me!  I wasn't taught anything about keeping a home.  For example, I need training in the following:

pie making
bread making
baking from-scratch cakes
wallpapering, painting
making laundry detergent, diaper wipes

I really WANT to do all those things.  Not so I can fulfill some ideal picture of womanhood.  No, I've come to really value those things.  They aren't just tasks, in my mind.  I see them as part of the "nurturing package" that is homemaking.

When the rhythm of home life stems from these things, and from loving and schooling children, a simple existence results.  For these things take time and planning, and one can't be galavanting about town, with the family dispersed hither and yon.  The natural result of this rhythm is that the family is in the world, but not of the world.

I was raised with the notion that a woman should get an education so she won't have to rely on a man--not so much a practical teaching, as a "liberated", man-hating one (I think an education is wonderful).  Caring for children and a home was never put forth as a lofty ideal, or even as an option.  Different times, the sixties.  My parents--with the best of intentions--were products of the popular culture.  Without God as their foundation, I don't know how they could have become anything but that.  I'm not finding fault.

Nevertheless, I regret I didn't learn these homemaking skills before the children came.  Now, I'm busy and adding new skills presents a challenge.  But I'll learn some of them, and teach them to my children.  They can choose whatever they want for their lives.  I just don't want them to lack the building blocks of family cohesiveness.  Homemaking tasks are the building blocks, in my mind.

Small increments of progress.  That's my goal.  I will start with preparing my own beans, rather than using canned beans for chili and tacos.

I don't have canning supplies or the know how to prepare my own tomatoes right now, but I can make my own spaghetti sauce, rather than doctor up some Ragu. 

I can make my own taco seasoning.

I can make mac n' cheese from scratch, rather than rely on Kraft (real stuff doesn't appeal to kids as much, but they'll get used to it.)

I can make my own corn bread using corn meal, rather than purchase a Jiffy mix box.

I'll freeze berries and peaches this summer.

Then on some future day, maybe I'll learn to make my own whole-grain bread, and whole-grain tortillas, and whole-grain chips and pasta.

Sound good?  

Or are you rolling your eyes?