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Bananas Foster & Gasoline

I was kind of intending to savor those bananas foster for the entire duration of me sitting down and writing tonight.  But, there they are.  All gone.  And I haven’t even written a word yet.  For some reason I had a strong urge for the buttery sweetness of bananas foster, minus the rum, and they were absolutely delicious.  Maple syrup, real butter, raw walnuts, and a dash of cinnimon.  Yes, please.
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This morning began bright and early, or rather dark and early.  It’s been lovely to get up before anyone else and have some quiet time and prayer time and business time before delving into my mama-ing duties.  Thankful for the inspiration and nudge of my friend to get up and pray together, via technology, before anything else.

Once everyone got up and we started our day, it sort of morphed into a home-ec morning of scrubbing the kitchen and preparing dinner together.  I knew our afternoon was going to be very full and we would come home hungry, and I was determined NOT to start cooking dinner at 5 or 6 o’clock like I’ve done way too many times.  So, into my handy-dandy instant pot (insert choir singing) went the sumptuous ingredients for beef stew.  We read about Esau trading his birthright for a bowl of stew, and wondered if this stew would taste anything like Jacob’s of old.

At exactly the time we were hoping to leave, we got into the van and made our way an hour West to the new holistic dentist we found a few months ago.  We had such a great experience with him when Elsie had a dental emergency… which turned out to be not as big of a deal as I thought.  We were a few hundred yards away from the office, making a left turn at a light, when Oceanus sputtered and felt like she’d stall out.  It was a busy enough intersection I didn’t want to risk trying to pull out and get broadsided if we didn’t make it the whole way through.  Instinct told me to not even try, and to hop out and ask the person behind me to please push us through at the next green light.  I’m not even sure he spoke English, but I guess he got the gist when Nadine and Elijah hopped out and took their stance behind the van.  Reason 1,567 I love having a stick shift.  Makes situations like this so much easier!  And yes, I’ve been in this situation a few times.  We had just the right amount of downhill, so it wasn’t difficult to make it through and down the street towards the office.  At that point, the kids were running behind the van while I steered it towards the building.  With an ever-s0-slight uphill into the parking lot, I barely had enough oomph to land, right in-between two parking spots.  I looked like the obsessive owner of a very old Eurovan, with many scratches, but not willing to have anyone park near me in case of one more.  It was raining.

Our time in the office was great. All three hours.  The one hygienist was so sweet and drove me over to a gas station so I could get some gasoline in a can to bring back.  So yes, I left four children in the waiting room and one in the cleaning chair to drive with a stranger to get some gas.  I’m so glad to add to our growing collection of gas cans.  I think we have six now.

As I got a small shower in the rain, I was able to give Oceanus what she was dying to have, and she started right up.  The reason this has happened more than twice, is because of a broken gas gauge.  I do zero it out each time she is filled up, but for some reason I didn’t pay attention that the mileage was way over 400, which is my signal: It’s time to Fill.  Her. Up.  Back into the office I went, reeking like a gas pump.  2016-09-28-16-56-47
No cavities for anyone, which was a huge exclamation point in an afternoon which seemed to want to rain sad-face emojis all over the place.  Yet, I wasn’t sad one bit.  Kind of exhilarated and thankful.  Thankful we ran out of gas in a safe place within walking distance to our destination.  Thankful for kind people.  Thankful for strong kiddos.  Thankful for gas money.  Thankful it was indeed just running out of gas, and nothing more serious.  When one fills their tank, and the total amount pumped reads 21 gallons, in a 21-gallon tank… one is thankful. 2016-09-28-17-09-35
I’m so thankful to have made it home safely.  To a clean kitchen and hot supper.  The consensus is still out as to whether it was birthright-tradable, but everyone agrees it was pretty smackingly delicious.  2016-09-28-18-39-55
Baby Chip is doing his nightly antics in my belly.  I think he enjoyed the bananas foster just as much as I did.  The lady at the gas station took one look at me and said: “You’re having a boy, right?”  She was so very confident.  I told her yes, and how did she know?  She just smiled and said it was the way I was carrying him.  A couple of weeks ago another friend’s two-year-old son pointed at my belly and said, “Ball!”  Thirty-three weeks tomorrow, and oh-so-thankful for the ability to carry another child into this world.  It is not something I take for granted.

Now I’m excited to lay down in one of my two comfortable positions and rest.  There are so many more things to remember and write, but they will have to wait.  Tonight I was pondering the motto of my life.  A motto given to me by the Lord when I was just a teenager.  Life is beautiful.  This is what I look for in every circumstance, every day.  I don’t have to pretend.  My life truly is beautiful. Empty gas tanks and all.

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Sixth Annual Kids Day plus

Today I left the farm with two bushels of tomatoes, and lots of onions, garlic and peppers.  There is something incredibly rewarding and delicious about canning our own tomato sauce each summer.  Nadine was a wonderful help, as she always has been in the kitchen.  We got through one bushel together before I sat down, put my feet up with a cold dandyblend beverage, and let her finish the second bushel.  We chatted about life.  It was a special time together, and I appreciate her youth and helpfulness!  Having teenagers is great!  The entire process took about 8 hours, but we now have tons of delicious roasted tomato sauce canned for the winter.  Not exactly the most convenient day to can and get the kitchen as dirty as can be.  Matthew is busy installing a new hot water heater in the basement, which means we temporarily have no water.  I’m soooooo excited to have hot water again!  Our tank has been leaking for a while, and he is replacing it with a tankless water heater, which confuses me to no end.  Which is why I can the tomatoes and he installs the water heater!  Yes, we did about forty jars, and yes, that one green-lidded fella bothers me too.  It’s the Where’s Waldo of my canning jars.

Processed with MOLDIVYesterday we celebrated Kids’ Day.  This is our sixth year doing it, and it is never a specific date… just someplace in August when the time is right.  The inspiration of this day is due to my sweet friend Ruthie.

It was a rather scattered morning, in which we found out the coupons we had been saving for this specific date were expired.  But we still ended up driving to New Jersey to venture around Six Flags Great Adventure for the day.  It was so fun that we never even got a picture of the kids on their special day.  Most of the day was spent in two groups: the three oldest, who were tall enough for all the rides, and the short crowd who wished they were, but made the most of as many rides as they could.  Each group was accompanied by either a parent who doesn’t really care for rollercoasters because it makes them somewhat sick, or a parent who adores rollercoasters, but happens to be growing another human being and wasn’t able to do any of them.  I’ll let you take a stab at who’s who there.  We shut the place down, and made many memories in the process.

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The Ferris Wheel was the only ride Mom could do, which was fun with the little girls. We started school, and much is done around our table. Elijah had a sweet tea time with the girls to make up for a friend who was unable to come. My diligent artist, learning how to create 3D drawings and illusions.

As the month comes to a close, I relish how beautiful it was.  Playing.  Splashing.  Growing things.  Experiencing imncredible heights.  Being with friends.

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There were a lot of super difficult days, to be honest.  A few in particular which threatened to unravel me for no apparent reason except to remind me that this is not my home.  I’ve also been remembering how different our life was three years ago, when Matthew’s life was hanging between life and death.  It’s not fun to go back to that place, even though somewhere in my deep subconscious I know that this week was the week.  As hard as it all was, it was what God used and is using to bring Him much glory and many people to a place of freedom in their health.  We’re so excited for the stories emerging about how God is changing lives through Plexus!  We share our story, never knowing what He will do!
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Baby “Chip” is growing so much!  I’m twenty-eight weeks along already, and have only begun to realize that we should start getting ready to welcome a baby into our busy little home!  I feel great, though huge, and am enjoying his antics which go on every night around the time I’m crawling into bed.  He is so loved.
2016-08-02 09.59.18-2Have a delightful last few weeks of warmth and summer!


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Summertime in a Jar

Yesterday I worked for eight hours on canning tomatoes into all sorts of yummy summery goodness.  90 lbs of tomatoes went through our kitchen this week.  The lady behind me at the farm asked me what on earth I was going to do with all of those tomatoes.  Summertime is my favorite time of year, and I’m so excited to have made and canned my first batch of summer salsa.  Here is my loose recipe, which I divided up between two large glass cake pans, because I lack a big roasting pan:

16 cups of tomatoes
4 sweet onions quartered
2 large sweet peppers
1 pineapple
1 whole garlic bulb
bunch of fresh oregano
2 teaspoons cumin
4 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups apple cider vinegar

I baked this for about 30-45 mins at 400 degrees, stirring every 15 minutes or so.  I would have preferred fresh cilantro, but didn’t have any on hand, so that is omitted.  Blitz in blender until a salsa texture is achieved.  Refrigerate, or can for the winter!  This made 2 quarts and 5 pints of salsa.  (If I remember correctly)

The tomato sauce is just tomatoes, onions, garlic and sea salt roasted in the same way, then blitzed in the blender to a rough chop/puree.

Summertime Tomatoes


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Grain-Free Vanilla Maple Granola

After being dumped on with snow, I have this craving to turn on the oven.  One of our favorite snacks or breakfast food is grain-free granola.  The smell is homey as it crisps up in the oven.  This does take some forethought, and requires planning ahead.  Here are the steps to making this delicious treat.

A stunning shot as I was driving yesterday.

A stunning shot as I was driving yesterday.

Step One: Soak your nuts!  The outside of a nut is coated in anti-nutrients.  In nature, this outer layer of toxic substance keeps the nuts (and legumes and seeds) from pesky critters, bacteria, fungi, and the like from killing the plant.  Once harvested, this coating allows the nuts to be stored for a very long time without turning rancid or moldy.  The most known anti-nutrient found in grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes is phytic acid.  Phytic acid binds to minerals such as magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and copper.  So when you eat something which has not been properly soaked to remove this toxin, these minerals get flushed right out of your body without being absorbed in your gut, which in turn leads to mineral deficiencies.  By soaking, you break down the phytic acid which leads to better absorption and digestion.  Nuts also have enzyme inhibitors.  These are handy in keeping the nuts from sprouting prematurely.  However, they also inhibit our bodies from properly digesting nuts (and seeds and legumes, by the way.)  When you soak nuts, these inhibitors are neutralized and unlock all of the fantastic enzymes to do their job and help our gut by aiding in the digestion process.  I read this excellent article which goes into more detail about the why behind soaking.  Bottom line: don’t skip it!2015-03-07 13.10.05
Step Two: Dehydrate the nuts.  This is best done in a dehydrator for about 8-20 hrs, until nice and crunchy and no longer chewy.  I’ve done this in the oven at the lowest temperature, which is not ideal, as the temperature really shouldn’t go above 150 degrees.  Plus, I rarely don’t need my oven for 24 hours.

Step Three: Make the granola. Pulse the nuts in a food processor or Vitamix, then toss with ingredients.2015-03-07 12.05.27
Step Four: Bake.  Line mixture on parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, stir, and bake for another 10 minutes.
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Step Five: Store and enjoy!
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Grain-Free Vanilla Maple Granola

Ingredients:

4 cups of pre-soaked and dehydrated nuts
3 T melted coconut oil
3/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey
1 t sea salt
1 Tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup sunflower/sesame seeds
Get creative with your ingredients!  I’m not exact with anything when it comes to most things culinary, so this recipe is approximate and can be tweaked to your liking.  More/less sweet, more/less nutty, etc.


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When Sparks Fly and Cracks are Backed

It’s two o’clock, and I am finally eating lunch.  The quiet scribble of one person doing their writing homework is like music to my ears, while the hot tea is like medicine for my harried brain.  Outside, the boys are reading on the trampoline.  You know, between jumps.  This morning was full of dictation, reading out loud, and lots and lots of math.  Math four times around each day has both enriched my  brain and caused it to temporarily shut down for the day.  A few facts I have learned today:

The moment I have to use the bathroom is the moment everyone has a need of great importance.

Informative speeches are impossible to write.  (That fact is up for debate.  Maybe the person claiming it should write a persuasive speech to prove their point.)

It is not difficult to make deodorant, and it smells amazing.

I often wipe my nose on my sleeve without even thinking.  Please tell me this is something moms with small kids often do.

Receiving a big box with a smile on the side is a huge reason for celebration.  Especially when the box contains a new heating element for the stove.

Ah, the stove.  About a week ago, I was testing out some recipes for my first ever cooking class.
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As I preheated the oven for some grain-free corn bread, I noticed a small flame dancing inside the oven.  This would not be a problem if we had a brick oven, but ours happens to be electric.  I tried to blow it out, because this has worked in the past.  When it seemed to get bigger and start spreading, I called Elijah to grab the fire extinguisher.  I ordered everyone outside, while we unsuccessfully put out the sparking flames.  Finally, I told Elijah to run get our neighbor, while I called 911.  Fortunately, I was able to tell the dispatcher never mind, as our neighbor ran over with a big fire extinguisher and the grand idea of flipping off the breaker connected to the stove.  The second he did that, the fire fizzled into nothing.  What a bunch of excitement.  And mess.
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Of course my cooking class was in about ten hours, and I was now without a stove.  Enter: wonderful neighbors again.  Thankfully, their stove was just fine, and the classes were able to go on as planned, with just a little extra walking.  I also paid double to have someone overnight a new heating element.  How exciting it was to receive the box.  The thrill died about as quickly as a blown-out candle when I pulled out a completely bent element that would not work at all.  Thankfully, you can return things in this country.  The box we received today with the smiley face on it contained a just as happy part, which will be responsible for much delightful baking this fall.

Now, seven hours later, I can hardly believe another day has passed.  Often you can find out what filled my day, by glancing at the open tabs on the computer: Aromahead Institute, Patchouli, Artemisia, DIY rope rug, Amazon, Crockpot Bacon and Goat Cheese, Elderberry Syrup, Hillsong Acoustic Sessions.  The other way to find out what has filled our lives the past couple of weeks is to dump some photos from my phone:
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Winter clothes turnover day, many Betty faces, our own William Tell, walking Toby the rabbit, school planning squeezed in during piano lesson time, late night Bible studies, and lots of tea.2014-10-18 17.14.27
This week we also saw our whole Weldon family, including our Italian family and the college boy, which was a huge treat!

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Sleepy head Betty, and her outfit of choice this Sunday: red silk and black velvet Christmas dress, blue cotton tights with pink flowers on them and black patent leather shoes.  She has been asking a lot when Christmas is coming.  She asks in such a way that makes it sound like a person is coming to visit us very soon.  My week has also been full of aromatherapy school, pumpkins and the chiropractor.  Whenever we go to the chiropractor, Betty grins, gives a big sigh, and says she loves getting her “crack backed”.
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This year, the four bigs have also been involved in a homeschool co-op.  Their science teacher took these great pictures of them in his class as they were learning about density.

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This was the scene around the table tonight.  We’ve got four readers, taking turns reading around the table.  It is one of my favorite parts of the day.   As is this time: hanging out with my man.  Good night.


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A Crazy-Hair Day

A week ago I wrote this, before being interrupted for another week:
Right now one boy is blaring classical piano music throughout the house.  Two kids are playing a board game, and the other two are building with blocks and dancing at intervals.  I snuck out to the front porch, literally hiding a brownie in one hand and a cup of tea in the other.  Just five minutes of peace would be super.  It’s been a long afternoon of school, apple-sauce-making, supper-cooking, and I’m not even cleaned up yet.  Time for tea and an undisclosed chocolatey snack.

It sounds all too-familiar, like I was about to type the same words now… as I lick the melted chocolate off my spoon and swallow the last sip of afternoon tea.  The kids are all in their rooms practicing how to be quiet.  I had a long but beautiful day being a doula yesterday, arriving home close to 2AM.  Needless to say, I was pretty exhausted.  The last thought I had before drifting off to sleep was: I hope I get breakfast in bed.  My super amazing daughter must have known (you see, when you pray, the Holy Spirit is listening, and can communicate that need to someone else who is listening to Him).  Her sweet self prepared this breakfast for me, and we enjoyed a lovely morning in our PJ’s.
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By lunch-time, however, my lack of sleep started to kick in.  I started making scrambled eggs and dropped one on the ground.  I snapped at the children I loved so much.  Then, I stopped and apologized for my grumpy attitude.  Everyone suggested maybe I needed a nap.  Then Nadine smoothed the air even further with her honest comment, “You know, Mom?  Your hair looks CRAZY today!”  I burst out laughing.  It still looks crazy, by the way.

The text I sent to Matthew, which prompted my apology to the children.

The text I sent to Matthew, which prompted my apology to the children.

So, Betty and I decided to take a nap, even though she is “never tired”.  Like the other day, when she told me, “My tummy hurts.  I’m tired of falling asleep.”  Then this happened:2014-10-02 13.08.58

Today she told me she wanted to “talk” before we fell asleep.  Thus began our conversation: “I have a question.”
“Yes, Betty?  What’s your question?”
“When will I be six?”
“After you’re five.”
“Will I always be six?”
“The whole time you’re six, yes.”  We then proceeded to practice counting up to six on our fingers.  She is dead set on being six.
She says some pretty hilarious things these days.  The other night she lamented in a very sorrowful voice, “Everybody makes me so sad.”  When I asked her what would make her happy, she replied, “If you make chicken.”    She asked me this out-of-the-blue question the other day: “Mom, can I put this rock in my pocket?”
“Um, sure,” I replied, puzzled.
“Just in case I need it for something.”  Good to know she’s prepared.
When I asked her if she wanted apple sauce or yogurt for a snack she answered, “Hmmmmmmmm.  I think my body wants yogurt.”

Last weekend, Matthew surprised me with one of my favorite date days ever.  We were given tickets to Chester County Day, and drove all around the area touring historical homes, barns, and grounds.  It was so beautiful, inspiring and refreshing.
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I’ve been slightly obsessed with Instagram the past two weeks.  The photos aren’t a false impression of my life, so much as they are a bit of an incomplete picture of it.  You might see a shot of apple crisp, but in the background you can’t see the piles of dishes I just washed or have to still wash.  You might see us reading books on the front porch, but you can’t see the dirt on the ground, or feel the mosquitoes trying to bite us.  You might see the photo of a budding piano-player, but only we can hear the same three songs being played hundreds of times on the keyboard.  You see the flower, but not the weeds.  October phone photos
This week’s favorite photos are as follows:
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Jack’s ongoing collection of shiny things.  A healed bone in Nadine’s big toe.  Rock-climbing date with my Elsie Rose.  Nadine’s 12th birthday, complete with crepe cake.  Love and Daddy.  The baby-waiting game.  Beautiful clouds that make me wish I was a bird.

The boys just dug out some old CD’s, and we’re rocking out to the Kry, one of my favorite 90’s music memories.  The girls are “secretly” rearranging their room (even though I could hear the furniture scooting all around their room from where I lay in bed while attempting to nap).  My hair is still crazy.  My heart is full.


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Green Spirals and Merciful Days

Mom, you never get peace, Jack said to me the other day.  Wait!  You had peace once!  And he went on to talk about when they all went to Grandma’s house.  I laughed out loud.  Or if you’re going to use today’s lingo, I “roffled”.  That is what I say in my head when I read ROFL… rolling on the floor laughing.  No, I didn’t actually roll, or roffle, but I did achieve a small release of stress when I laughed out loud.  Or lolled.  (That’s LOL, btw.)

Tonight was no exception.  I had great fun spiralizing my zucchini into fake noodles and tossing them with coconut sauce and blackened chicken.  The kids watched Daniel Boone so I could spin deliciousness into my pots.  But there is always one who doesn’t get the “peace memo”.  She rolled on the floor crying.  It’s always interesting trying to cook while stepping over a crying toddler.  My strategy was to wait until they were so hungry, they would forget that the green zucchini noodles were not actually made from pasta.  It worked for two of them, took convincing for two of them, and downright failed for the fifth one.  This is when I use every ounce in my body not to take a two-year-old’s opinion of my cooking to heart.  In the middle of our green spaghetti supper, a nameless highchair dweller knocked over one of the herb pots on the window sill.  The walls start closing in when things like that happen.
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I’ve been waiting for a really really good excuse to scrub my kitchen floor.  The successful eaters got chocolate ice-cream for dessert.  The last one… did not.  An hour later, I graciously gave her a banana, because she at least touched it to her tongue.  Elijah said, Mom, you were really merciful tonight! when he saw her eating the banana.  Thanks, Buddy.

Then I remembered these verses I just read.

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.
(Lamentations 3:21-25)

Even when I mess up, spill dirt, and wreck what He has planned…  He still shows steadfast love, unending mercy, and abundant faithfulness.

So the truth is, despite what is outwardly going on, inside I always have peace.  Jesus has wiped my heart of its spills and dirt.  He has left the calm assurance of His forgiveness and faithfulness in place of the mess.  Tomorrow, His mercies are new.

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And tomorrow, maybe my floor will be clean.