Monday, July 30, 2012

Checking in...

We're still trying to regroup over here. Since I last checked in, my husband has been to another funeral in the family and on yet another business trip. His schedule has also changed from leaving in the middle of the night and being home in the afternoons, to working evenings. Our daily routine is resettling.

We're still here and still managing to keep our heads above water. I'm not blogging, but I'll be podcasting this week. We're going to hit the Book of Revelations again.

Tune in here Wednesday, August 1, 6 p.m. Eastern. 

P.S. I got bit by a spider last week. My adrenaline is still pumping, but no limbs have rotted off, so we're still good here. See you Wednesday.

Terribly sorry, m'am. I thought you were someone edible.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

7 Quick Takes Sunday (Better Late Than Never)

1 Small Town Life
Statue of Local Hero and Airport Namesake, Rick Husband

We had an early morning adventure yesterday taking my husband to the airport. Our Daddy works there so everyone on staff knows our kids and it was so early we were the only people in the entire section other than airport employees, so this was a fairly "safe" adventure of negotiating the escalators. We all wound up in the same place eventually, but at one point, I had one child at the bottom of the escalator, one on the escalator, and three descending the adjacent stairway. My husband called me to laugh about the fact that he'd heard all about it prior to boarding his flight. News travels fast in a small town airport!

Shabby Apple, Modcloth, and other retailers some of my friends just love (but can't afford) are running discounts through Betty Beguiles. Head on over to get the coupon codes and some awesome end of season savings!

3 Models of Grief
My grandmother in February. My friend in April. Andy's sister in June. His grandmother just this week. Almost every family goes through those times when the losses seem to come in like the tide. When the latest call stopped me in my tracks, my kids alerted to the tone of my voice and clustered around silently to comfort me as I tried to comfort my mother-in-law. How do we know how to do this? How do we find the words when words won't do? Comforting another seems like an impossible task, yet how necessary it is to try.

Because of all this, the grieving process has been front and center around here lately, and as a family we stumbled across some new information we'd like to share. I'm sure everyone has heard of the stages of grief. Come to find out, those stages actually observed and documented the stages the dying person went through. It was applied only anecdotally to the family members grieving the loss. So, those documented stages of grief that we all know like the back of our hand may be undergoing some revisions soon. Here's the link to the article I stumbled across. It is calling for a new grief model. You just might find it interesting.

4 *Cough Hack*
We have all succumbed to a summer cold around here. Two days ago my son used his iPad to complain "Sick and Tired" on his Proloque2go app. I passed it off as a fluke. Today, when the other four came down with swollen glands, sniffles, and sneezes, he flashed me his patented "I told you so!" smirk. The little smarty pants!


I came across this and loved it. You may see this one again as it has generated plenty of pondering. Had to share it!

6 How It Is Supposed to Work
1. God
2. Spouse
3. Kids
4. Me

Looks simple enough, doesn't it? Sensible. Regardless of what my good intentions are I keep slipping up to the number one slot. I don't know how I keep managing to wind up there. I just seem to reset to the pre-Galileo I'm-at-the-center-of-the-Universe-self-esteeming mindset. Then, if that's not bad enough, I'm missing a whole class of people: my neighbor. The "Love Thy Neighbor" thing has to fit in there somewhere, doesn't it? I haven't even begun to add them to my "Supposed to Do" list!

My actual list looks more like this...

1. Me
2. Me
3. Why are you bugging me?
4. Oh, whoops.
5. Confession.
6. Repeat.

Why do I seem to continually get this whole Christian Life thing wrong? Le sigh.

7 Prayer Request
Please pray for the repose of the souls of my sister-in-law Catherine and my husband's grandmother Julia and all who love and miss them. Thank you so much.


Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strawberry Ricotta Pancakes

Our family is fixing to switch gears in a few weeks. My husband's work schedule is changing, so he will be home for breakfast!

I've never cared for cereal personally and I have my doubts about its nutritional value (any food you have to "enrich" is suspect), but I'd fallen into the habit of allowing the kids to eat cereal as I rushed around getting my morning chores done. Now that breakfast is going to include a man who loves family meals, it's time to get excited about breakfast foods.

No more cereal!

I am currently trying out recipes. My plan is to preview enough recipes for about two weeks worth of relatively easy and delicious options that everyone likes. I'm hoping that when it comes time to switch the routine, I will have the recipes already on "automatic," so that I can think less about cooking while dealing with the chaos that ensues with any change in family routine.

What is working out for me right now is to whip up the breakfast in the quiet between the children's bedtimes and mine, then pop it into the fridge, so that all that I need to do in the morning is the actual baking or grilling. So far so good.

I'd appreciate any tips from breakfast aficionados for making this transition smooth for us!

Meanwhile, I simply had to share this recipe. My kids were asked for input on the recipe choices after my husband and I had each picked out 10 to 15 likely options. (If you haven't guessed, food is a serious matter in our family.) My oldest son, John, on hearing a description of the recipe we were going to base our recipe upon suggested adding strawberries into the mix. I don't even like pancakes, but these were awesome! We topped ours with honey, but next time I'm going to try a homemade strawberry syrup.

I made my lemon ricotta while I waited for my coffee to brew (cutting the recipe down to 1 quart of milk and 2 to 4 Tablespoons of lemon juice), but you can purchase ricotta or make it the night before. Prepping as much as possible the night before, including mixing and refrigerating the batter, saves you from adding a hefty cleanup to the morning routine.

John's Strawberry Ricotta Pancakes

3 large eggs
1 handful frozen or fresh strawberries
2 tablespoons oil
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients into a blender and mix until smooth. Pour the batter onto a lightly greased, preheated griddle in 4 inch circles. Do not walk away! The bottoms will brown quickly, so keep an eye out. Flip when the bottoms are a golden brown.

For a gluten free version, I simply made a batch of Pamela's Products baking mix pancakes according to directions, substituting goat milk for the water and adding the strawberries and 2 Tbs of sugar. Be sure to make your gluten free version of a dish first if you are making both types. This will save you from having to meticulously wash your blender halfway through your prep!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Mental Hypocrisy: Individual Rights

Can you imagine a world where a court would claim that the religious practice of taking the foreskins of young Jewish boys is an affront to the child's individual rights and yet in the Land of the Free 9 days prior to this event it is perfectly legal to kill them?

Well, you're living in it, folks.

Illegal in Cologne, Germany
(They tried to ban it in San Francisco)
Perfectly legal

Friday, July 6, 2012

7 Quick Takes

Image Source:

If you haven't checked out yet, it's worth a look. It is the new technology's version of a cork board. People pin things on their boards from around the web that catch their interest or have proved useful. It's entertaining and visually appealing, and as you may have guessed, a lot of it is pure fantasy.

For more information, this article describes Pinterest and its marketing potential pretty well.

An Example of Something Pinned
A friend of mine, Alice Simmons, pinned this on her Pinterest Page and I repinned it on mine. It is a recipe for homemade antiseptic ointment made of beeswax and oils. Pinterest makes posting such an item so much more streamlined than blogging or Facebook. Because only the people who have signed up to follow a particular board of mine will see the pin on their page, I did not have to share it with anyone who doesn't like this sort of thing (until now). It's also a handy place to keep something as a reference. I just repin it to my board and come back to it later. Pinning is an interesting new development out in the Internet.

Meanwhile, here's a link to the recipe page for the homemade ointment. Sorry if the ointment doesn't interest you, but Pinterest just might.

History in Living Color
Image Source: "Captured: America in Color"
A More Riveting Image of Rosie
If you love history or if you teach history, you simply must check out "Captured: America in Color from 1939 to 1943," an archive of rare color photographs of America in the 1940s. The collection of Library of Congress prints brings that era to life. There are links at the sight for other such historical photo collections. Go, enjoy the visual feast!

Pope Paul VI Institute Now Accepting Insurance!
Image Source: Pope Paul VI Institute Facebook Page

Pope Paul VI Institute, an innovative and internationally recognized center for natural fertility regulation and reproductive medicine, just announced that it now participates with several insurance plans. As both a patient of the institute and a member of one of those plans, I am delighted with this news! I won't have to self pay for my women's health any longer. I won't go into the details of my personal health issues, but suffice it say that the run of the mill OBs in the habit of prescribing The Pill for every female ailment were unable and uninterested in pursuing an accurate diagnosis. It has been worth every penny spent going to Dr. Hilgers. If you haven't heard of him yet, feel free to go investigate his practice by clicking here.

I Have Been Remiss!
Simon with my mother in 2010.

While posting 4th of July pictures Wednesday, I thought I'd take the opportunity of a working computer and some quiet and post a few backlogged photos as well. A few? I discovered to my embarrassment that I had a backlog of photos--from 2010! I have been remiss. So, if my children look younger lately on Facebook, it's just me, catching up.

Worth Rereading
I've been rereading Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. This time around I'm looking to see how Austen foreshadows Lydia's relationship with Mr. Wickham. What I'm noticing is how Wickham advertises his interest in Lydia from the very start. He talks with Elizabeth but his attention is always being drawn to Lydia when she pushes the limits of politeness. The predator knows his prey and you can see how he is drawn to the weaknesses of her character. This has always escaped me until I watched the television series again on a download and saw the actor performing it. That is what sent me back to the book in the first place. It's only taken me a half dozen times through the book and twice through the television performance to catch on. I take comfort in the fact that Elizabeth was just as clueless as I've been.

In Other News
We have our coffee in a more timely manner.

Our coffee maker was dying a slow and clogging death. At the end, it was taking so long to brew that exactly half of the water was turning to steam and in an hour we would have a lovely half pot of espresso. Although delicious, it was probably dangerous to have the water boiling away, and it was surely dangerous to delay the clarity and sustenance that is our first cup. We are now the proud inheritors of an "extra" coffee maker my mother had in her back room. The coffee is weaker, quicker, and very much appreciated. Mornings are much smoother now. Thanks, mom.


Jennifer Fulwiler
Thanks to Jennifer Fulwiler, a fellow Texan, for hosting
7 Quick Takes Friday 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The House We Moved

While we were in Virginia this past month, an auntie reminded us that we had been so busy renovating that we'd not actually posted pictures of the work in progress. Talk about an oversight! So I spent a little time this holiday uploading pictures that I meant to share with you last year.

So, thank you Aunt Donna. Here's the ongoing saga of our house!

We found this little gem at an auction site. The city owned the property and needed the house moved to make room for a wind generator farm. It's an old farmhouse and because of its location, not many people were interested in driving out to the country to look at it. We were, in fact, the only people to go have a look.

We saw a solidly built structure, what appeared to be two houses merged with an addition added on the back of the main structure at some point in its history. The above is the main section of the house, while below is the other section. A neighbor told us this little section was an old bunk house (a house built to room farm hands) moved in and affixed to the main house some time after the Great Depression.
If you look carefully you can see a wind generator in the background.

You can see by the roof line here the addition that was added when the kitchen was modernized. This is the backdoor and kitchen portion of the main house.
Here is a picture of the way the two houses were "merged" to make an "L" shaped structure. This house has been on the move before, or at least this small section has. Why not buy it and move it again?

We were ready to make our bid at auction! We set a maximum bid before we started so that we wouldn't get ourselves over our heads in the enthusiasm of the moment. When the auction day came, we didn't know what to expect. We made our bid and waited. There was no activity on the auction site until about five minutes before the close of bidding. We were in a bidding war! We bid and counter bid until we reached our maximum. We were disappointed to watch the time tick away and our competitor win what we had hoped to be our home.

But...several days later the auction house called to tell us that the other bidder had defaulted. We were the proud owners of a house that had to move as soon as possible.

Time to move some earth and lay some foundation. The movers came out and took careful measurements and then translated that to foundation footings on our property.
One day soon, the mover called, "We're chugging down the road!"
The little section moved in first.

Can you believe this angle?
The mover dared us to place a cup of water in the sink for the move.
Not a drop spilled.
Next came the larger section. You can see the PVC pipe attached to vents and the roof line to assist power lines over the obstacles. They just slide right over the roof. Before the house was even lifted from its original foundation, the mover had plotted and driven the 30 miles several different ways to find the safest route with the fewest low hanging lines.
This is where the little section of the house had to connect to the larger section. This portion was the old "bunkhouse" that had been affixed to the house all those decades ago. This section made its second move just fine, too. We placed a tarp over the hallway door to keep out any rain. Due to the drought it didn't rain for several more months. The tarp kept out the dust and debris from all the dust devils blowing around.
Here's a picture of the interior of that bunkhouse section. It's basically two large rooms and a bathroom. This baby blue carpet was throughout the entire house. Though the carpet was in fairly good shape, we removed it all. We have three children who suffer from allergies and wall to wall carpet is too hard on their systems. Beneath it is hardwood flooring.

Next time we revisit the house issue, we'll show you how the house looks on our lot and how nice the floors look without the carpet. Meanwhile, we found some mold in the kitchen flooring, so that's all gone now, too. Ah, the joys of remodeling....

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday, America

Enjoy your day everyone. We Martins will be celebrating in the usual style of a parade and a cookout, followed by fireworks.

Our country is an on-going grand experiment. When it was founded, rights were recognized for the average white man. With time and after a little practice applying such a radical idea, those rights have gradually been extended and expanded to include all men and all women. That process has been painful, yet here we still are, imperfectly living up to our ideals.

I say "imperfectly" because we are all imperfect. We have room to improve individually and nationally. That is not a heresy, it is a mere fact of human nature and human institutions. Recognizing our national imperfections is akin to recognizing the flaws in yourself. A bit of healthy introspection is vital. Without it we become insufferable; with it, we maintain our checks and balances and progress along our way.

My favorite thing about us, being both an adopter and adopted myself, is that this country both adopts and births its citizens. It is one of the few countries that takes people in and calls them her own. You can be born in China and become an American. In reverse, you may become a citizen of China, but you will never be Chinese. There's something very satisfying about that.

So, all you Americans and all you who are not one yet, feel free to join the party.

Feel free.

There will be no podcast tonight. Go enjoy your day!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Give us a break, again...

My husband is amazing. When we researched driving out to Virginia, we discovered that given the time restraints and the faulty transmission on our family van, we would have to rent a vehicle. As it turns out, renting a van large enough for our family and paying for hotels along the way was more expensive than renting an RV and "camping." Andy took to driving that beast like a pro. We had absolutely no problems.

Driving, that is. Negotiating the stairs is another matter. He broke his foot the second day out when he stepped down before the automatically extending stairs were done moving. His foot is still a lovely shade of swollen purple and brown, but the doctor has pronounced him "broken and sprained" and clear of the threat of pins and other surgical options. Huzzah!

But wouldn't you know it, yesterday we got the kids all ready for a family portrait and my son tipped a chair over on top of my foot. Mine's not broken, I don't think, but it is a lovely shade of brown, purple, and green. No heels for me for a few weeks. Even flip flops are out.

What a winning team we are. We thought we'd be good to go on a three legged race, at the very least, but we fell over before we even got the shoelaces tied.

My weirdo sense of humor has fully kicked in, though. I show the man my little bruise (by comparison) and say, "Gosh, honey, my foot hurts. See my little foot?"

It only hurts when he rolls his eyes...