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Archive for August, 2008

on the road (finally)

So now that we are settled in for the night, I finally am able to post.  Well I would have written earlier today as planned, but it just didn’t work out to that end.  We ended up leaving town a good hour later than planned, maybe a bit more than that.  I was up until 1 AM last night trying to catch-up on laundry, preserve what fruits and veggies from our CSA this week that I didn’t pack, and put things in suitcase.  This morning was finishing what I didn’t accomplish last night, playing the pick-up game with the twins (what, you’ve never played that?  You know, I pick it up, move on to another room and come back to see the building blocks I just organized scatter all over the office, that gets picked up and then back to the other room I just did, rinse and repeat.)  Where was I?

 

Finally the dog is walked, the house sealed up, dishes running in the dishwasher and the last basket of laundry still sits unfolded in the kitchen.  It feels so good to finally be on the road, even the twins seem glad to be buckled in and headed out.  I live in one of those states that from one end to the other is very different.  Our area is flat farm land.  To go from being able to see miles in all directions to up and down hills full of trees, cliffs, etc always amazes me.  In two hours it is like you are in an entire different part of the U.S.A. 

 

Food-wise we did pretty good today.  Breakfast was eggs, melon, and toast.  We all ate something different for lunch, mom took the older two so we could get more done in the morning.  Supper I packed in the cooler: beef and noodles with green beans.  It re-heated just fine here at our hotel and tasted pretty good after the drive.  Tomorrow we are going to try our hand at the hotels free breakfast. I’m pretty sure they will have eggs and fruit so we should do fine.  Then off to our friends’ house.  I’m not sure they know what they are getting into with us crazy folk, but I do know she has been more than gracious offering different food choices.  The third day on the road will be the tough one seeing as we have a couple meals to cover.  I have meat and bread for sandwiches, though as well as slaw and veggies. 

 

Fun, post, huh.  So glad I documented it for everyone.  I figure if anything it will help put you to sleep tonight!

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So we have entered the world of organized sports.  T-ball didn’t count as it was mostly kids picking flowers in the outfield.  Soccer has been borderline.  The practices 2 times a week for about an hour with 8 games (3 month span.)  Both of our older two love to swim and the oldest really wanted to join swim team.  Swim Team is a different kind of organized sport for us…what have we gotten into!

All kidding aside, I have to talk a bit about my oldest.  She is very much her own person.  Her level of energy to this day amazes me, you would think after almost 8 years I would be figuring it out and not so surprised.  She’s intelligent (sometimes too much for her own good), she is brave, she is feisty, and very independent.  These qualities she seems to take to an extreme and hence she rarely fits inside the “box” of what is expected of a child her age.  She very much knows what she does and does not like and is not afraid to (nicely) let you know.  She takes independence to a point of struggling with group goals or focus.  As a mom, I’ve struggled at times keeping her active in things that benefit her and worry a bit as she could care less if she fits in.  Not that I want her to be “miss popularity”, but what mom wants to see their child feeling outcast. 

At her request this time last year, we thought about swim team at our local YMCA.  The cost was the furthest we looked into it and decided not to do it.  Throughout the year, though, I noticed that she really does need an outlet for exercise, competition, and to learn a bit of team-playing skills.  Hence, we find ourselves signed up for swim team.  She loves to swim, let me rephrase that…she LOVES to swim and is good at it.  We’ve been at a few practices now (pre-season) and I’m learning just as much as she is.  The team is for all ages through high-school.  Right now it is just 2-3 practices a week, when we return home from vacation it will be 3-5 a week.  Starting in October we will have the option of meets nearly every Saturday through April.  You do not have to go to every single thing, they encourage the younger swimmers not to.   I see now why it costs what it does.  You are paying for coaches, lifeguards, pool facility, team swimwear, etc. for a total of 9 months.  We’ve learned how to spin dry her suit, put on a swimcap, the right type of goggles for long-term use, differences in swimwear, and that every mile you swim is equal to 4 miles jogged without impact stress on your joints. 

I can not tell you how good it feels as a mother to see her doing so well at something she loves. This is no Olypmpic driven notion as we do not have TV, she’s never seen the Olympics…she just plain loves to swim.  Last practice she moved from diving at the side of the pool to the dive-pads.  She looked so little up there and belly-flopped a few times.  Most importantly she did not give up, instead she along with her team mates celebrate what she did better and the chance to try again.  Until two weeks ago she did not dive at all and without a team behind her she would likely move on to something else she likes better.  I can see how swim team will teach her about working together and how it will help her with a bit of self-discipline.  I’m excited to think of her first meet, will she get that little bit of a rush you get in competition? 

There are things I am still unsure about, though.  I wonder what being immersed in a high-chlorine water will do to her skin and more as your skin absorbs what is put on it.  I wonder if she grasps the team concept, that her scores will count towards their team goals.  I wonder if practices get more intense if she will still have as much energy left as she does now.  After the last practice we went to a soccer practice for the next child, my swimmer went running around with the other girls to fill in a missing team member…for an hour after her practice.  I’m not trying to exhaust the girl, just wondering what the limit of her energy is. 

This all brings me full circle to my main purpose in blogging, nutrition.  What kind of different nutritional needs should I be considering.  I send a water bottle with her to practice and make sure she eats a nourishing supper before going. I know she is burning more calories now, anyone that swims or watches a practice would know she is burning more than my soccer player is.   What types of snacks should I  bring to meets (the Nourishing Portable Food Carnival is perfectly timed for this) and what is the best way to pack them? 

Should I be sending some coconut water to keep her electrolytes up or am I off base?  More calories, but what kind of calories?  What do I need to do to help keep her system in balance?  Ideas on balancing out the chlorine? 

Any and all ideas and suggestions welcome!!!  Tomorrows post will be a quickie before we hit the road for many points south.  I hope to blog as internet connections allow on the way.

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food on the go

I am not sure how, but I forgot that today is the Nourishing Portable Food Carnival over at the Nourishing Gourmet!  I’ve been really looking forward to this for a few reasons:

  • Home-schooling families do not always stay home, we spend time out and about with the world as our classroom.
  • Our oldest has joined the swim team (it lasts until April and they will have meets more weekends than not…more on this in tomorrow’s post
  • We vacation soon (leaving Friday) and we are on a strict budget.  We are going to Disney, I love going and am fortunate to have parents that like to spoil their grandkids by buying their tickets and taking care of the room costs.  The down-side is that food there is very expensive for a family of six and in my memory the healthy options are few and far between.  Feeding us healthy, nourishing foods within the budget could be a real issue.  I really hope to be wrong, but have some goals to hopefully help keep us on track; bringing one meal a day into the parks (where this carnival comes in super timely!), eating a very hearty and healthy breakfast, bringing our own snacks, and looking for great spots to grab a nutritious supper.

Needless to say I have REALLY been looking forward to this 🙂

Here are my contributions:

Food to take and eat on the way (no mixing, re-heating, etc.)

  • smoothies
  • hard boiled eggs
  • jerky (recipe below)
  • fresh fruits and veggies
  • cheese
  • crispy nuts

Meals on the go (I really need help here!)

  • chicken salad (on greens is my favorite)
  • crustless quiche or other egg dishes
  • rice shaped and stuffed with meat or other fillings (more info below)

Wraps-they get their own category since they are just that versatile and require no utensils!

  • your favorite salad (meat salad or vegetable salad)
  • leftover meat with greens and your favorite spread (mayo, hummus, salad dressing etc.)
  • breakfast (eggs, potatoes, cheese, sauteed veggies)

 

The rice I mentioned above is kind of fun, especially if you have interesting container shapes.  Make your rice a little on the sticky side.  When it is just cool enough to handle (you’ll be using your hands) mix in some seasoning such as salt, pepper, dried herbs, etc.  You can use ice trays, muffin tins, cups, or even the palm of your hand to make these little treats.  Fill your container (or hand) about half full with rice.  Make a little well in the middle of your rice and add in a little bit of leftover meat (shredded chicken, taco meat, etc…whatever you have handy.)  Top with more rice and use your hands to press this all together well.  It’s important to have a sticky rice for this reason.  The rice should shape nicely and hold it’s shape.  Wrap it up and take it to-go. 

 

Beef Jerky

  • 2 lbs of meat with large pieces of fat removed
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 TBSP fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp good cayenne
  • 1 tsp fresh ground pepper

Slice your meat into thin slices…the thicker they are the longer it takes to get them good and dry.

Mix the rest of your ingredients well, pour over meat slices and let marinate in the refrigerator overnight or longer.

Drain meat and place on drying racks. 

Dehydrate at 145 degrees for about 24 hours, sometimes more.  This depends on how thin your slices are and other “moisture” factors such as type of dehydrator, humidity, etc.  It should be dry throughout the meat.  You may need to dab away some of the fat that rises up during the drying process.

I hope there are many submissions in the carnival, and early to so I can alter my food list for vacation!  If you don’t blog and want to participate you can leave ideas in the comments.

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not an option

The regular randomness of this blog has officially been interrupted.  I am going to give you a recipe and you HAVE to go do it.  Trust me, you will not regret it…especially if you like a fresh, icy-cold treat on a hot day

Melon Creamsicle Pops

  • 2 cups of cubed cantaloupe
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup honey

Combine in blender and freeze in push-pop molds, popsicle molds, dixie cups with popscicle sticks…whatever you have. (I’m thinking you could freeze this in a shallow dish as well and scrape it off with a spoon into bowls.) 

That is it.  

Now go do it, now if you can.  You will thank me later I am sure.  Gotta go grab another one of these, the twins finished mine off after theirs.

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It is that time of year again.  Time to start teaching the girls a tad bit more formally.  I say that because as parents aren’t we teaching our children every day…shouldn’t we?  My girls love to learn about nearly anything.  When asked what they like to do in school they start a long list (art, reading, history, science, etc.) and throw in a few others such as cooking and gardening.  You’ll never hear the oldest say Math, though, as she is not fond of it, though does above average. 

Today is the second day of school.  This will be the third year we have schooled with a virtual academy through the state we live in.  They send all of our books and supplies to us, we have a teacher that checks in with us, and a wonderful “community” of families all over the state that are doing exactly what we are doing.  You won’t likely catch me bad-mouthing public schools or families who choose that route.  We technically are in a public school, for one, and every family has different needs and focus.  How we got here is a three fold deal:

  1. Our oldest was reading and wanting to learn but didn’t meet the birthday cut-off for school. 
  2. Her food sensitivities that we were just discovering at the same time.
  3. Severe issues within our local public schools.

We have continued for a few reasons:

  1. I like knowing what my girls are learning.
  2. The freedom for the girls to learn at their own pace.  For instance our second daughter is working at the same level as our first daughter with the exception to reading (and this year I expect her to be caught up.)  In our local public schools she would have been forced to slow-up and wait for her class mates.
  3. Food at school is not an issue, loading everyone up every morning is not an issue, taking vacation in the off season is not an issue, etc.

In homes-schooling you trade the conveniences for the in-conveniences.  I’ll go out on a limb here and be flat out honest (no flames, please!)  There are many days that I wish it were just the twins and I playing and learning with time to clean and cook during their nap time.  It’s not everyday but at least once a week that I just wish I didn’t have so much on my plate.  The girls’ school takes about 4 or 5 hours of the day with a good chunk of that needing my constant involvement being as they are only in second grade.  I would love it to be able to meet with friends for lunch, get all my baking and preserving done without extra “help”, or just to simply have a bit of quite time in my day.  It’s a trade, though, and a good one if you ask me.  To trade all this for the reasons I listed above. 

I’ve never thought poorly of someone for sending their kids to public or private school, though.  It’s their decision, they know their kids, they know what they can handle, and they likely do not have the issues with food we do or only have a child or two making being in the car and ready for the day so early much more practical.

Enough about that, I could go on forever on it.  I would like to talk more about my frustrations this year.  School officially started yesterday.  We try to get going a week early seeing as we take the week of Labor Day for vacation.  We still do not have much of our curriculum.  This has never been an issue before.  Yesterday I did Art and History as they are mostly on-line, today is Language Arts which was a little bit harder.  Math tomorrow is going to be a problem if I do not have their books and manipulatives, Science and Latin will be darn near impossible. 

On a side note, my kids chose to learn Latin.  The choices were: Music (we did it last year and they were less than impressed), Spanish, German, French, and Latin.  They knew were Spain, France, and Germany were on the map but could not find a country for Latin.  I explained the origins of Latin and how it is the basis to many languages as well as music, science, etc. and that it is a “dead” language (no one speaks this language any more.)  They picked Latin.  That’s my girls, no sense doing something sensible!

Hopefully the big brown truck will stop at my door today with a few more boxes of goodies.  We’ve received 3 boxes so far and expect a total of about 10-12.  Thankfully, we have the option of printing worksheets on-line, that helps.  It also is nice that at this age so much of it is on-line seeing as I plan on taking some school with us on vacation.  Not sure how much school or what subjects I will take, but I do plan on keeping at it a bit on days we stick around the room and veg-out a bit. 

I just re-read everything above.  What a random collection of thoughts.  My recess time is over, though and it’s time to get back to digraphs and sentences.  If anyone has questions about schooling with an online or virtual academy please ask in the comments and I do a Q and A post.

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How we camp

…or should I say lack thereof.  We haven’t camped for 2 years (not since before the twins were adopted.)   I was rusty on my packing skills and was sure I would forget important items.  Husband and I were really looking forward to a couple days away, one just us and the other with our very good friends.  We relaxed, we hiked, we ate (some of it not so good and I’m feeling it), and most importantly we got to work on our marriage without the girls interruption.  I missed them all something awful and woke them up as soon as we got home, but it was very much worth the couple days away and the couple days of packing and preparing.

We didn’t get there until late on Thursday night, though we managed to get the tent up (without getting cranky at each other) and get a fire going.  We had supper right before we left and a snack on the way so we didn’t need to eat or anything.  It was nice to just visit for awhile and stare at the fire before going to bed at a decent hour and sleeping in.  Anyone with little ones will tell you that sleeping in is not an option.

For breakfast I made us burritos before leaving (with eggs, cheese, onions, peppers, and a bit of sausage) and wrapped them up tight in foil so that I could just toss them into some hot coals to re-heat.  I did a similar thing for supper with fish, frozen veggies, and butter.  Our friends had a campstove and I have to admit after eating pancakes, eggs, and sausage as well as after her shredded beef sandwiches the campstove option is looking very appealing!  They could cook nearly anything while we pretty much had to settle for things on a stick or wrapped in foil and buried in coals.

For entertainment we talked (in complete sentences and conversations…such a rare occurrence for me) and we hiked.  The hikes weren’t anything substantial, no 12 mile hikes into the wilderness.  We were at a state park and followed their trails.  It was breathtaking in many places and it is now my goal to return in different seasons.  The places we visited were at some of their driest stages and I can barely imagine how beautiful it would be with water pouring over the cliffs or snow hugging the trees.  Someday, though I hope to see it all.

All in all, it was a very inexpensive vacation.  We purchased no new camping equipment.  The campsite we split the cost on, food I didn’t count since it was something already in our weekly budget, and a tank and a half of gas (our biggest budget item).  The total was just under $150 for 3 days and 2 nights in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.  Here’s some photos to inspire you to get outside with someone you love and find a beautiful place:

I’m very glad my friend offered to take a picture, we have very few photos of the two of us.

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These signs are everywhere and for good reason

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The edge of one of the cliffs, stunningly beautiful in the evening sun.

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This is another reason for the signs.  What is it about husbands that they just have to go explore even though the signs warn against it?  I like the photo though, the men give a good reference to the size of the trees, rocks, and cave.

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This spot formed a natural amphitheater.  That white figure is husband and he and I could talk as if we were standing right next to one another at this distance.  If he came about 10 feet closer you couldn’t here him at all due to the way sound bounced around in there.

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I’ve been told (and seen pictures) how during a wet season these cliffs pour water over the edge into the “pit” you see formed in this photo.  The people walking about give you a good idea at just how tall the cliffs are.  I just can not imagine how different this place would look with waterfalls pouring into the basin.  I can not imagine walking behind the water and exploring the caves.  I need to go back again!

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While out and about we tried to find a geo-cache.  We were successful at one after a very long mile and a quarter down a one lane gravel/dirt road.  At the end was a cemetery in a pretty clearing.  The stones were very old and we really admired some of the carvings and sentiments.  We tried rubbing some of them carvings and were successful with a few, others were too old to read or get a rubbing from.  It was our friends’ first time geo-caching…I’m sure they thought we were nuts for awhile.  We were all glad we did it, though as it was a great way to spend much of the heat of the day in a bit of shade and it was only as expensive as the gas we put in the car.

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So that is it for photos, I wish I had more.  I’m not good with my camera…or perhaps my camera is too automatic to capture what I wanted to capture.  Someday a better camera and some sharpened photography skills will be something I acquire.  For this season, though, I am content to sleep in a tent and take what I get in photos.  Such a lovely trip and I am already looking forward to returning next year.  It was so beneficial to me, to us, that it has to be something we just make a point to do. 

On a side note.  I have to chuckle at the photos with me and my headscarf.  It looks so hick-ish.  I really have thick hair and do not like the thought of ticks or anything for that matter getting in there so out it comes when it is camping time.  I wear it most of the time I am there and to be honest it helps to keep my head cool in the heat of the day and warm in the cool evenings.  I’d like to find one in a print I like better and I keep my eyes open for one when shopping, particularly at antique malls and the like.  Something a bit vintage would be nice.  That and some egg cups.  I love the look of egg cups and they are just so expensive to find! But that is another topic for another day.  I really do hope I have inspired someone to spend time with their spouse or to go take a simple and inexpensive (but much needed) vacation.  I can’t recommend it highly enough!

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CSA report

No market this week since husband and I were off camping.  Our CSA box, though, did not disappoint.  There was so much bounty that I didn’t even count much of it:

  • watermelon
  • cantaloupe
  • dozen corn
  • tomatoes
  • green beans
  • red potatoes
  • peppers (bell, red, and Cayenne)
  • onions
  • ground cherries
  • squash
  • cucumbers

Not sure what a ground cherry is?  We have one growing as a “weed” near our porch that still isn’t finished.  I have no idea what I will use them for, but am always up for trying something new….perhaps a jam or something.  Here’s a photo of the lantern-looking pods with the berries inside, beautiful photo worth checking out!

Camping post coming up.  I love camping, don’t mind sleeping on an air mattress, prefer to cook over a fire (which I’m not that good at), and being outdoors.  We had beautiful weather, great company, amazing (and for the most part easy) trails, and each other.  Does it get any better?

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