Friday, March 21, 2008

He's home!

Michael is home, safe and sound. Praise God!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cloverleaf Rolls for St. Patrick's Day

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 1/4-2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter
3/4 tsp salt
2 beaten eggs

Mix whole wheat flour & yeast. Heat milk, sugar, butter, and salt until butter just melts. Add milk mixture and eggs to flour & yeast. Beat on medium speed for 3 minutes. Knead in unbleached flour until smooth and elastic. Let rise until doubled. Divide dough into 72 portions. Shape into balls & place three balls in each greased muffin cup. Let rise until nearly doubled. Brush tops with butter and bake at 375 12-15 minutes.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

sunglasses pouch

I sewed these little envelope style fabric pouches for the girls sunglasses today, using this tissue holder tutorial. I didn't use the exact same dimensions; I just eyeballed it.

I need to take some picture of the girls wearing their sunglasses!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Planting Peas

Today we put the first seeds of the year into the garden: peas, parsley, and radishes. It was also the first time Hannah was able to hold a fistful of seeds and place one into each hole without me directing each step.
Nora was cranky so we weren't able to get the lettuce, spinach, and beets in today. We'll try again tomorrow. I also need to figure out if I have any herbs or flowers that we can plant this early.

We've got rosemary, strawberries, and blueberries going strong. This will be our first year allowing the blueberries to fruit! And there's one parsley plant that overwintered.

I keep trying to convince Michael we need a fence. Notice the neighbor's pool in the background of the second picture? Ok, maybe it's the neighbors who need a fence. I sure could use one for corralling the girls while I'm working in the garden, though. Hannah is finally able to recognize landmarks as boundaries and stay in the backyard, but I'm running after Nora at least every five minutes. And Hannah could play outside by herself if we had a fence.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Once Upon A Dream

What is almost 17 month old Nora singing in the Ergo while I'm doing the dishes? It's not her typical anthem (the alphabet song)... It's not Elmo's World... Aha! It's Once Upon a Dream!

You Are a Question Mark

You seek knowledge and insight in every form possible. You love learning.

And while you know a lot, you don't act like a know it all. You're open to learning you're wrong.

You ask a lot of questions, collect a lot of data, and always dig deep to find out more.

You're naturally curious and inquisitive. You jump to ask a question when the opportunity arises.

Your friends see you as interesting, insightful, and thought provoking.

(But they're not always up for the intense inquisitions that you love!)

You excel in: Higher education

You get along best with: The Comma

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Dairy Free Pancake Recipe

Alison at sure foods living is hosting an allergen free recipe exchange! Visit her to share your own recipe, and be sure to check back there for a round up in the beginning of March.

I'm sharing my Dairy Free Pancake recipe.

3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup milled flaxseed
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup water
2 Tbsp canola oil

Mix dry and wet ingredients in separate bowls, then add wet to dry and mix just until combined. Let stand for a few minutes, then cook on a hot griddle, turning once.

We like these even better than the original.

Most quick bread type recipes can be adapted to dairy free simply by using water instead of milk and canola (or coconut) oil in place of butter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Letter to the Members of the North Carolina House Select Committee on Licensing Midwives

North Carolina is working on legislation to legalize Certified Practicing Midwives. Following is a letter I wrote to members of the committee on licensing midwives. I also sent copies to my local legislators.


(Some identifying information omitted from letter.)

During my oldest daughter’s hospital birth we both suffered iatrogenic complications and I was given medication without my knowledge or consent.

Because of the negative aspects of my oldest daughter’s birth, we wanted to avoid a similar experience and decided to have our youngest daughter at home with the help of a direct entry midwife. The care given by my midwife while I was pregnant with our youngest far surpassed the level of care during my pregnancy with our oldest. Instead of fifteen minute prenatal appointments preceded by an hour or more in the waiting room, I had hour long prenatal appointments with no wait time at all. Instead of one prenatal appointment with the actual obstetrician we’d hired (most office visits were conducted by nurses employed by the obstetrician), I saw the same health care provider at all appointments. Instead of a complete stranger in the delivery room (the obstetrician we’d hired was out of town & a colleague stood in for her), we were surrounded by familiar faces in our own home.

I’m sure you’re aware that military families move a lot. Out of the five states I’ve lived in (Washington, Oregon, California, Florida, and North Carolina), North Carolina is the only one that does not license direct entry midwives.

Certified Practicing Midwives provide better service at lower cost; please allow North Carolinians access to this model of maternity care.


Get involved!
-join North Carolina Friends of Midwives
-write your legislators
-tell your friends

Visit The Big Push for Midwives to see where your state stands on CPM licensure.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Puppy update

Remember the puppy that showed up on Michael's doorstep Christmas Eve?

It wasn't looking like they were going to be able to bring Eve back home, but things are looking up now! She's visiting a vet for all her shots, and they've arranged a ride out of country.

If she makes it here, she'll be staying with us for a little while. The guy who actually found her wants to keep her, but he needs to find a place to live first. The girls will be thrilled to have a dog! I'm afraid they'll be terribly sad when she leaves us, though.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Fairy Tale Feasts by Jane Yolen, recipes by Heidi E.Y. Stemple

I thought Fairy Tale Feasts would be a fun book to use with my four year old, but it seems to be more appropriate for older children; maybe around middle school ages. The idea is delightful: a book of fairy tales with recipes to go along with each. But these fairy tales are the real deal and many of the stories are quite dark; an abridged version of Hans Christian Anderson's The Little Mermaid, for example. There are notes in the margins about the origins of each story and about the various recipes, or elements thereof. There are a few tales that would be okay for young children, but on the whole I'd recommend this book for more mature readers. I'd love to see a preschool cookbook that incorporates stories! Does anyone know of one?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Monday, February 11, 2008

represented in the caucus after all

I complained about not being able to make it to my precinct caucus, but I learned after speaking to my mom that I was well represented in spite of not being able to attend. There were four people present from my precinct: my mom, my dad, my mother-in-aw, and one non-relative. My candidate (Huckabee), got three of their votes. And my mom and mother-in-law are the delegates to the county convention, and plan to represent the Huckabee majority from our precinct.

I'm not sure what to make of all the hullabaloo over the caucus. As I understand it, Sound Politics has it right and it's all much ado about nothing. Not only is the caucus incomplete, it will only count for 51% of the delegates anyway.

And according to an article in the Seattle Times, the February 19th primary will cost the state of Washington $10 million. It doesn't seem right that the state is bearing that cost instead of the parties.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan

First, allow me to confess: I did not read The Omnivore's Dilemma. I started to read it, but had to return it to the library when outside influences were causing me to question whether my food philosophy (summed up well in La Leche League's "eat a variety of foods in as close to their natural state as possible") is in fact radical to an extreme. In Defense of Food has quieted my doubts.

Pollan begins his defense of food with a manifesto: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Perhaps his most radical assertion is that many (even the majority) of products sold as "food," in fact are not. The additive filled shelf stable foodstuffs found in abundance on the shelves of supermarkets is as far removed from real food as artificial baby formulas are from breastmilk.

He goes on to decry nutrition science, which he refers to as "nutritionism," as full of missteps and fallacies. He focuses on the "lipid hypothesis": "Between the end of World War II and 1976, per capita consumption of animal fats from all sources dropped from eighty-four pounds to seventy-one, while fats from seed oils approximately doubled. Americans appeared to be moving in the direction of a 'prudent diet' and yet, paradoxically, having more heart attacks on it, not fewer."

The chapter on "Food Defined" was of particular interest. Pollan advocates for traditional diets, in the sense of eating foods that your great grandmother (or even great-great grandmother, depending on your age) would recognize. He has a list of things to avoid on an ingredient list that is remarkably similar to the rules of thumb I've been operating under for several years. He avoids ingredients that are; "a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, and that include d) high-fructose corn syrup." My personal list includes both a & b, but c is a more informal "as short as possible" and d is soy, in all of its many permutations. He also recommends avoiding foods that make health claims (a sure sign of nutritionism at work!), shopping the periphery of the store, and staying away from supermarkets as much as possible. While I practice the first two, the third is one of my areas of improvement, and brings me to my only real complaint about the book.

Pollan dismisses cost as a factor in what we eat ("Traditionally people have allocated a far greater proportion of their income to food--as they still do in several of the countries where people eat better than we do and as a consequence are healthier than we are. Compared to the 9.9 percent of their income Americans spend on food, the Italians spend 14.9 percent, the French 14.9 percent, and the Spanish 17.1 percent."), but he fails to recognize that costs can be prohibitive for some. I often hear people claim that a highly processed diet is more expensive than an organic, whole foods diet. I don't know whether or not that's true, but since we already focus on minimally processed foods, switching to organics does necessitate a budgetary increase. Access to the DeCA system complicates our situation further. DeCA says that families save 30% at commissaries over civilian supermarkets. While we are gaining more and more organic options in the commissaries, the benefit makes the price of outside sources of organic foods seem even more prohibitive than they would if we were paying 30% more for our regular purchases. Pollan does conclude with a strong push for gardening, but dismisses efforts like homesteading as unfeasible.

Saturday, February 9, 2008


Did you know that military spouses are entitled to vote absentee in elections associated with their home of record?

According to the Federal Voting Assistance Program, "all members of the Uniformed Services, their family members and members of the Merchant Marine and their family members, who are U.S. citizens, may vote absentee in Federal, state and local elections." Please visit their website for more information on the program, which also serves US citizens unaffiliated with the military who reside overseas. The site has information about how to register to vote, how to request an absentee ballot, and an emergency Federal Write In Absentee Ballot available to overseas military members and US citizens overseas who have not received an appropriately applied for absentee ballot in time for an election.

I keep running across people who don't know that military spouses are included in the FVAP.

And today I got a voter registration form in the mail from the Voter Participation Center "informing" me: "If you are no longer residing at [insert my home of record address here] state law requires you to update your voter registration records." Gah. The Voter Participation Center is a "get out the vote" effort affiliated with Women's Voices. Women Vote, which is, "a nonpartisan organization that seeks to mobilize all unmarried women to register to vote and to go to the polls on Election Day." Their president claims that the organization has a powerful predictive model that allows them to target unmarried women. I'm happily married. I've voted faithfully at every opportunity since turning 18. Though I do confess to abstaining on certain ballot measures on occasion. I don't care for "get out the vote efforts." If someone can't manage the effort of registering to vote without hand-holding, I'd rather they just continue on disenfranchising themselves. And I really don't care for "nonpartisan" organizations that target specific populations whom they acknowledge are more likely to vote in favor of certain policies: "In contrast to married women, Gardner says, unmarried women are largely driven by economic issues when it comes to their politics." (Katrina Vanden Heuvel; The Nation)

Also on my mind:

My home of record is in Washington State, which uses a caucus system for Presidential primaries. While the Democratic party will only use caucus results to determine delegates, the Republicans will use primary results to allocate 51% of delegates. As an absentee voter, I have no way of attending the caucus at the precinct my home of record is in. At least I'm a Republican so my vote in the primary counts for something. Unfortunately, with Washington's late date for the primary, my first (Duncan Hunter) and second (Mitt Romney) choice candidates have both left the race already. But they are both on my ballot because my county has moved to a 100% vote by mail program and all the ballots were mailed several weeks ago. What kind of an impact will that have on the results? Maybe I'm cynical, but I don't expect every voter to be up to date on who is still in the running.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Signs of spring

We did not get any snow last weekend, apparently because it is spring already. My rose bush also has new growth. At least the grass isn't growing yet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Saints by Orson Scott Card

Saints tells the story of a fictional early Mormon convert. Dinah is portrayed as a woman of extraordinarily strong character who becomes a prominent figure in the Mormon church.

The book was engaging, but it ultimately came off as an attempt to justify polygamy.

The author was adept at setting a scene and bringing his characters to life, but he often ended up talking down to the reader by spelling out the obvious instead of just letting the action show it. I also found the comical subtitles for each book out of touch with the overall tone. For example: "Book Two: In which Providence acts to provide a grown man's trade for Robert, an education for Charlie, and a husband for Dinah. As usual, Providence gets mixed reviews."

I enjoyed it enough to look for more by Card, but I'll probably try to avoid anything of his with a Mormon theme.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Scottish Oat Scones

3/4 cup melted butter
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups oats
1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbs bran

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl mix melted butter, milk, and egg. Add to dry mixture and stir until combined. Divide dough in half. Pat each half into a round on a baking stone. Score each round into eighths. Bake 12-15 minutes at 375.

Sunday, January 20, 2008


Michael and I play a lot of games together when he's at home. We have quite a collection of card and board games, from pinochle to Axis and Allies to more obscure favorites like The Farming Game.

Thanks to Melissa Wiley, we discovered Scrabulous and have been playing Scrabble via email for a month or two. Not only can we enjoy playing together, but I can take as long as I want for my turn without him getting impatient (sometimes a problem in real life). We won't be turning in our game board and wooden tiles anytime soon as Hasbro fears, but this has been a wonderful way to connect during his deployment.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Maybe it will snow here after all.

We enjoyed the snow that we saw in Washington all the more because we didn't expect to see any here. But the forecast for Saturday evening says there is a possibility of snow! I'll be looking out the window all day tomorrow in eager anticipation.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

We have a return window!

I'm not going to tell you when it is.

Michael tells me we are more than 2/3rds of the way done! He does the countdown on the calendar and analyzes the dates. I prefer to think of things the way I present them to Hannah: First such and such holiday, then that important date, after a certain milestone...

Our trip home really helped the time to go by. We got back from Washington and all of a sudden we have less than 3 months left.

Puppy update: Michael says they are going to try to get her home, but not to our house. If she gets over here one of his guys will keep her.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss

Please don't complain about my use of punctuation just because I read this book! I often spot mistakes in print, but I'm sure I miss my own often enough.

Eats, Shoots & Leaves is a hilarious treatment of punctuation and its misuse.

One area that I've often hesitated over in my own writing is where to place the terminal punctuation for a sentence that ends in quotation marks. I'm now considering adopting the British usage, which allows one to put the period (or "full stop," as the British refer to it) outside the quotation marks in certain situations. American usage dictates that terminal punctuation always goes inside of quotation marks. Truss's example is:

Sophia asked Lord Fellamar if he was "out of his senses". (British)
Sophia asked Lord Fellamar if he was "out of his senses." (American)

Another British vs. American usage issue is referred to as "the Oxford comma." (I never knew it had a name!) This is the comma that immediately precedes the "and" in a list of several items. I was taught that this comma was optional, but my preference is generally to use it, which Truss says is standard in America. I'm not sure how accurate that is, though, as it seems I see it left out more often than not.

The section on extraneous quotation marks brings to mind The "Blog" of "Unnecessary" Quotation Marks, which is always good for a laugh.

If you've ever read Strunk and White's The Elements of Style for fun, then you are certainly one of Truss's grammatical sticklers and will love her book. If you only found The Elements of Style tolerable, you'll still love Eats, Shoots & Leaves. If you couldn't stand The Elements of Style, there is still a good chance you'll enjoy Truss's book because of gems like this:

In the meantime, what can be done by those of us sickened by the state of apostrophe abuse? First, we must refute the label 'dinosaurs' (I really hate that). And second, we must take up arms. Here are the weapons required in the apostrophe war (stop when you start to feel uncomfortable):
correction fluid
big pens
stickers cut in a variety of sizes, both plain (for sticking over unwanted apostrophes) and coloured (for inserting where apostrophes are needed)
tin of paint with big brush
guerrilla-style clothing
strong medication for personality disorder

But then, if you aren't offended by the misuse of apostrophes, the book probably won't have much appeal.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


"A national leader may accumulate a spectacular chain of temporary chain of temporary results, but unless his character has been forged in the fires of integrity and his actions in the crucible of hard-edged reason, history will refuse to stamp him with the seal of greatness."
-James A. Michener, The Eagle and the Raven

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Nora and Grandpa Larry

I admit there is a resemblance. What do you think?