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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

And. . .She's 18!!

The clock has just struck midnight, which means my beautiful firstborn daughter is officially 18!

She's sleeping at the moment, having informed us earlier that she would be pretty dang grumpy if we tried to sneak into her room for a little kiss and rousing midnight rendition of Happy Birthday. . .so I'll just sing to her quietly, up here in the living room all by myself.

And maybe I'll cry a little, too.  I do that at times like this.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

On Raising Benjamin Button. . .

For a totally different kind of post than I have ever done, here's an essay written as part of an upcoming collection.  You won't learn a prairie skill or a great way to re-purpose toothpaste, nor will the prairie or Ma Ingalls make an appearance. But you will get to know my amazing youngest son (and me, I guess!) a little better. . .hope you enjoy!
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What's Happened to Professional Pride?

It's been one of those interesting weeks where, after a bit of an absence from normal daily life, I've had to hit the ground running with a variety of mundane tasks.  Yay, me!

Perhaps it's because I've had to be in contact with an abnormally high number of professionals and tradesmen lately, but I confess that I'm not terrifically impressed by the overall level of service, professional demeanor, and quality of work that seems prevalent these days.  Here are a few examples:

Monday, April 28, 2014

What is a Picture Prayer?

While at Mount Hermon earlier this month, our keynote speaker, Glenna Salsbury (who was AWESOME!!), mentioned something that she loves to do in one of our large nightly gatherings. I believe she called it making a "Picture Prayer."  The idea intrigued me greatly.

I love to pray.  And I do it constantly. . .in my head, out loud, when driving, through singing. . .All.  The.  Time.  So hearing about a new way to communicate with my awesome God?  Count me in!

A Simply Beautiful Mother's Day Idea

I don't always focus on the tidbits floating around Facebook.  I don't really care to know what city I should live in, what milkshake flavor I am, or what Star Wars character represents me best.

Shocking, isn't it?

But something today did catch my eye and I've been thinking about it all afternoon.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Belated Easter

7 baskets of happiness!
This was a strange year.  Typically we go all out. . .decorations and traditions, magnificent spreads and endless ways to learn about and honor the Easter story.  Our day of celebration is always filled with food and hunts and friendly competitions and, most importantly, a sober rejoicing over the meaning of the Cross.

But this year was different.  This year we had surgeries and hospital stays to occupy us while the world around was remembering a risen King.  We weren't going to be all together and well enough to participate, nor were we prepared in the way we usually are.

So we postponed the whole thing until today.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

26 (A Personal View on Miscarriage)

26.  Yes, that's correct.  Twenty-Six.

This huge, ridiculous, appalling number represents the babies I didn't have.

Some people call them "miscarriages," as if their precious little hearts never beat and their brains never sent miraculous waves of energy pulsing through their sweet, tiny bodies. But I can't reduce them to "tissue" that was never meant to be.  They're my children. . .even if I didn't get the chance to raise them.

And I miss them all.  Deeply.

Friday, April 25, 2014

One of Most Popular and Re-Posted Posts: Making Homemade Laundry Detergent/Soap

A favorited and re-posted post from back in October. . .if you haven't yet tried to make your own, it's so easy and SO good!  Enjoy!

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After eating all that prairie ice cream, it became apparent that my younger kids, especially, had created a subsequent need to do a load of laundry. God bless ‘em!

As luck would have it, however, we had run out of laundry soap and no one had mentioned it to me. So, I had to make laundry soap before I ‘got’ to do that load of laundry!

It's actually pretty easy and doesn't take a lot of time. The result is a laundry soap that is tough on stains and good for all washing machines, including front loaders, low water, HE, and low-suds machines. I read somewhere once that we are trained to think that lots of suds means good cleaning, but that isn't true. Plus, it is ridiculously inexpensive compared to the bought brands. At only a few pennies per load, you are probably going to be hooked, like I am!

When an Adoptive Child Turns 18

The age we adopted her. . .
It's shocking how fast this day has come.  Sixteen years ago when a dimpled beauty burst into our lives and our hearts as a foster child, I couldn't imagine what it would feel like to be on the threshold of her turning 18.  And yet here we are.  Less than one week away from that important birthday.

We've fostered a number of children over the years, and adopted three of those, but she was our first.  Her hazel eyes, light brown curls and shy, devastatingly beautiful smile burst through the protective wall foster parents are supposed to maintain around their hearts.  We were instantly in love.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Having Less to Live More

Just a portion of the stuff from storage!
As if by magic, on the very day that I was starting to stress over the upcoming holidays, a beautiful gift floated out of the sky and into my arms in the form of an article on 'Stuff.'

I wish I had saved it now, or at least knew its title or who wrote it, but I was in a hurry and only had enough time to quickly read through to the end.  Yet, the effects of this article keep seeping in and saturating my whole being.  It was challenging.  Riveting.  LIFE CHANGING!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Did Rose Write Laura's Books?

The website slate.com posted a really interesting article a couple of days ago.  It was titled "A Peek Inside the Mother-Daughter Collaboration That Brought Us the Little House Series" and can be found here if you want to look at that good read.

What fascinated me was that Rose very pointedly told her mother what to do at several points in her manuscript for "By the Shores of Silver Lake."  But Laura ignored most of her bossy daughter's advice. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday Tossback: Homesteading vs. Prepping vs. Extreme Couponing: What's the Difference?

This is one of the questions I am most asked, so I am re-posting this earlier post to clarify. . .
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When people find out that I have a bit of a love affair going on with Homesteading and Pioneer -y type things, I often get a slightly strange response.  Some people are enthusiastic and curious, some are mildly amused, and some step back and regard me carefully through distinctly suspicious eyes.  Many people just don't know what it means to be a modern homesteader.

And no wonder!  With all the various shows on TV today (Yukon Men, Doomsday Preppers, Extreme Couponing, Gold Rush, Alaska: The Last Frontier, etc.) there seems to be a lot of media confusion about what Modern Homesteading and 'Prepping' is.  Throw in Extreme Couponers with their extensive stockpiles and a show about a Hoarder or two, and the lines between them all seems to get a little fuzzy.

Let me sort it out for you.

Castile Soap, Part 2: LIQUID!!!



After posting my last recipe for regular Castile Soap, I realized that I actually need a LIQUID version for my purposes, so I went back online and found an even easier recipe that I just had to share. . .but first. . .I’ve been asked two questions. . .one is what I am using the soap for and the other is what’s so special about castile soap in the first place.

To the first question:  the solution that you admit through a cecostomy (which is what my son just had) is made up of water, salt and castile soap.  Yes, soap.  Apparently, this concoction is safe and provides the colon with the right stimulant and irritant to cleanse and flush.  I was a little surprised at the ingredients, but after confirming with several nurses and the surgeon, the recipe was confirmed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Making Castile Soap


I never really thought I would make castile soap. I'm not sure why. . .I guess it might be because I only started making soaps at home after I first had kids and the thought of a process that involved lye just wasn't a family friendly project.

But I think I am going to need to change my tune. . .my youngest is now seven and I have an unexpected need for volumes of castile soap, so looks like it's time for a bit of research.

A Platform and a Plea. . .

Going to Mount Hermon for a fantastic writer's conference was incredible!  But my head is now entirely spinning with a bazillion action points.

One that was drilled into us at almost every single workshop and major session was the concept of "Platform."  I was well aware of what a platform is in regards to a writer before I went, but, boy!, was its importance brought home!  Simply put, a platform is all the ways that you connect to people in a public way who might, one day, be interested in a project you've worked on.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

15 Pounds of Coffee

In honor of my recent discussions at a writer's conference about an upcoming book (which is now going to be re-branded and re-named, but I'll talk about that later!!), I wanted to re-post this little snippet. . .hope you enjoy!

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Cecostomy Through the Eyes of a 13 year old. . .

The tube will go in lieu of a 'trap door'
This post is sort of a guest post. . .I'm doing the typing, but it's my son speaking.  He wants to reassure kids who have to go through this and to give some tips on how to make it less stressful for both the patient AND the parents.  It's a little long, but I didn't want to edit anything in case I chopped something that might be helpful to another kid. . .so, here we go:

I didn't want to have the surgery.  I was upset that I had a problem that needed to be fixed but even more worried about having to be in the hospital and have a doctor actually cut me open.  I was afraid I would be awake when the cut was made or that the pain would be too much for me to handle after it was done.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Quoting Laura Ingalls Wilder

Early on in my relationship with my then-boyfriend-and-now-husband, Ian, I tried VERY hard to behave and not quote endless snippets from the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  I mean, he was a guy, a Brit, and I was desperate to hide my mild obsession so as not to scare the khaki pants right on off of him.

But after I had the ring on my finger, the metaphoric corset burst open and I found myself spouting 'Laura-isms' left and right as we built our home together.  Sadly for my husband, though lucky for me, it was too late for him to back out.  :)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Little Bit of Drama, but Cecostomy is Done!

He ended the day ok!
Well!!  That was a little more exciting than this sleep deprived Mama really needed, but all is well now, thankfully.

In the run up to today's events, my son didn't sleep very well.  Despite his procedure yesterday going as it should have, his nerves took over in the night and he was VERY anxious by this morning and not feeling great.  Though everyone around him was lovely and did all they could to reassure and comfort him, it wasn't an ideal morning.

Add to that the nurse mistakenly gave him a cracker to eat with some meds this morning, which is a HUGE no-no before surgery as it significantly increases the risk of getting a chunk of stuff in the lungs. . .a very dangerous situation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Disimpaction Complete and Ready for Phase II

Nath enjoying Ped Ward Fun!
It's been quite the day.

After coming home from Mount Hermon last night and quickly unpacking and packing and getting the lowdown on all the kid's news, my 13 year old and I left at the crack of dawn this morning to head down to Sacramento for the final stages of "Cecostomy-fest 2014!"

After a week of the most intense writer's conference EVER (but in the very best way possible!), I kind of feel like a truck has hit me. . .I am sooooooo tired and sooooooo overwhelmed with thoughts and ideas and action points, so I feel a bit dazed to have been sitting with Steve Laube, literary agent, at lunch yesterday while today, hundreds of miles away, I am amongst tubes and beeping machines at my oldest son's bedside.

Defining a 'Prairies Mindset'

Cloudy prairie landscape
Image courtesy of dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Another throwback post. . .speaks to what I think is as the 'prairie mindset.'  Hope you enjoy!

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I don't live on the prairie.  I never have. Oh, I have visited them, and I do have a brother and extended family firmly entrenched in Minnesota, but I don't think that counts.

I do, however, have a 'prairie mindset.'  Though, to be honest, I am making that term up, too, and defining it to prove my point.  But I digress.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Modern Pioneering

This was one of my first posts. . .back when no one actually knew about my blog. This is one of my favorite topics, too, so ENJOY!!!

'Modern Pioneering.'  Catchy, huh?  It has an air of urban homesteading about it, don't you think?  Like it would be nothing at all to go outside in your homespun Capris, pluck some organic eggs from under your free range hens and then whip them up into Eggs Benedict, or a frittata, or even a soufflĂ©!

I made up the term. . .at least I think I did.  I don't remember reading it anywhere, though it's certainly possible.  I read a lot.  But, for the purpose of this blog, I definitely made it up.  No question about it.  And that means I get to define it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Oh! The Questions He Asks!!

Had another one of those conversations with my youngest today. You know the ones. . .where you're asked an incredibly tough question that is inherently difficult to answer, but made even more impossible when you have to explain the complex concept in terms a 7 year old can understand.

He throws a lot of those at me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Whew! Writers!!

I feel a bit like I'm on a ridiculously high level of Tetris:  blocks of information are coming at me fast and furious!  If I had just a moment to think, I could probably get them into the right place.  But I DON'T have time to breathe, let alone think, at this action-packed writer's conference, so I'm just taking notes as fast as I can and hoping I can make sense of them all later.

But one thing is really striking me. . .writers are every bit the stereotypical 'artist.'  I guess I knew that already, though I didn't really like to admit it.  But having so freaking many in one freaking place certainly amplifies the situation to epic proportions.  Seriously.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Planting Two Kinds of Seeds

So many choices!!
Spring starts a little later here at 4,000 feet than it did when I lived in the fertile Sacramento Valley.  Back then, I was beginning to harvest in May.  Now, I am lucky to have everything planted by then.

To hurry things up a bit, I start the process indoors with little greenhouse seed trays around this time of year, even if there's still some snow on the ground (which there is, here and there).  I love to tend my tiny little rows, but I never do it alone.

You see, I like to plant two kinds of seeds at one time.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Polenta and Eggs

I've spoken with his pediatrician.  I've done some Googling.  I've questioned friends in the medical field.  I even chatted online with a nutritionist.

And everyone is saying the same thing.  Apparently, it's totally fine for my 13 year old son to eat his body weight in polenta and eggs each week!

When we first started looking at alternative snacks and meals for our soon-to-be gluten-free son, I almost didn't attempt polenta.  He's not a particularly picky eater, but I just didn't think he would like it.  But as it's pretty cheap to make, it doesn't take much effort to prepare, it lasts a long time, and he can do the grilling himself after I have made it into a loaf, I gave it a shot.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Parenting is a Bi-Polar Activity

I'm not quite sure what I was expecting way back when. . .before children made our 'couple' into a 'family.'  I was pretty realistic on most points. . .lack of sleep, constant mess, stinky diapers, and taking 45 minutes to get from the house to the mini-van.

I had few illusions about our lives remaining largely unchanged when kids came into the picture.  I knew things would be altered forever.  And I was thrilled at the prospect.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Off to Mount Hermon!

Heading down to the Santa Cruz mountains today for the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.  I have been waiting for this day since I heard the conference existed last July.  I could not be more excited.

Imagine getting to attend workshop after workshop led by industry professional from every corner of the writing world. . .authors, editors, publishers and agents!!  All in one spot and over the course of one week.  Each day will be packed with large and small sessions, all-conference meetings and one-on-one opportunities to learn from experts on every possible aspect of writing as a career!

Monday, April 07, 2014

Concious Uncoupling

When I first heard the phrase 'Conscious Uncoupling' in the announcement of Gwyneth Paltrow's separation from her husband, Chris Martin, I was, well, a little bemused.  I'd heard the term before, but this time, I took a moment to look it up and find a definition.  A 'Google' search revealed something kind of new-agey and murky.  A lady named Katherine Woodward Thomas is said to have coined the phrase back in 2010 and, boiled down, it's kind of a 'we both contributed to the demise of our marriage so we should be kind to each other as we go our separate ways' kind of thing.  Which seems almost sensible and somewhat civilized on the surface.

But how about being kind to each other IN the marriage, instead? 

Sunday, April 06, 2014

A Lady in a Shop

Today, once again, I went to a big box office supply store to get my usual dose of ink and pens and such.  Also, as usual, I chose the line in which a particular checker was working.

She seems to be avoided each time I am there, even if her line is shorter than others.  I noticed it months ago, and look each time she happens to be working to see if it is still so.

It always is.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Chosen Parents. . .We Are

Tonight I had a chance to spend some time with a few ladies who are swiftly becoming precious to me.  We shared what was going on in our lives, had a chance to encourage each other and then prayed as well.  It was pretty awesome.

And it's funny how just a little time with friends, letting your guard down, being honest and getting real can give you some amazing perspective.

Tonight, that happened for me.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The Wind Beneath My Wings :)

My wonderful husbands and I had 'Part II' of his birthday celebration today. . .just the two of us having lunch together. With four kids at home, alone time is a rare and precious thing, so we enjoyed every second of catching up without interruption.  Bliss.

At some point, I began to tell him about a recent conversation with a dear friend, who is also a writer as well as an artist.  She was telling me that her husband didn't fully support her desire to write. . .he just didn't really see the point.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Missing You, Little Man

While waiting at a doctor's appointment today, I used the, um, copious amount of "dead" time to get a little work done.  Actually, I got a LOAD of work done before we were finally called in, but that's a whole other story.

One of the things I did was edit and critique a piece of narrative nonfiction.  I didn't know the subject matter before beginning to read it, or I probably wouldn't have chosen this particular piece to work on in a public place.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Noah (The Movie, Not My Son)

Last Friday, as a slightly early birthday treat for my husband, we snuck away for matinee showing of "Noah."  I hadn't, actually, read any reviews or synopses prior to going, so I really didn't have much in the way of expectations.  Good thing I didn't.  Because I SERIOUSLY did not see that coming.

Think:  Hunger Games meets Transformers, with a sprinkling of Bible.  A rather small sprinkling.

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