Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Wheat-Free Experiment- Preliminaries

I get these ideas into my head.  And I think they are great ideas.  And so The Wheat-Free Experiment begins.  I can’t yet call it The GREAT Wheat-Free Experiment.  Because it remains to be seen…

We are not required to be gluten free or wheat free, but there’s lots of talk and research these days on the benefits of eliminating wheat from the diet. So, why not try it?  After all, I love to cook. I’ve already refined a great wheat-free bread recipe.  And isn’t bread the staff of life?  Indeed, we go through three to four loaves a week of the “staff”.  There is also so much information online about being wheat-free, including a recipe to take the place of every wheat-full one we love.  And the buying opportunities abound as well, enabling me to get the essential ingredients (namely, flours) to make this little experiment work.

Can we live in a world without (wheat flour) cake?
To me, it’s a game. And it sounds just plain fun.  I know. I’m a sicko.  The ones who truly must be gluten free are cursing me right now. They are thinking “Just you wait and see how FUN this really is!”.  I know, I know.  I’m expecting some unfunny moments.  But this is just an experiment.

And it’s not just an experiment on Josh and I. The kids are involved too.  Thursday night, when they have gone to bed, what remains of wheat-full snacks and foods will be packed away and replaced with wheat-free choices.  Yes, Friday morning, March 1st is the first day of our experiment.  We’ll go the entire month of March, perhaps having a fabulous wheat-less Easter feast on the 31st, or perhaps deciding we have had enough and having a fabulous wheat-full feast!  It is our prerogative, but in any case, we will be going for at least 30 days without wheat.

I won’t expound on the evils of wheat.  I can’t say I’m even convinced that wheat is the enemy.  And yet, I wonder.  I wonder how we’ll feel after thirty days without this “Frankengrain” as The Wheat Belly Diet calls our current version of wheat.  I wonder if we’ll have more energy.  I wonder if we’ll lose weight.  I wonder if, nothing else, we’ll be able to say we just feel better.  I wonder how the kids will respond.  Physically, but also emotionally. There won’t be a goldfish cracker in the house.  I wonder if, by the end, we’ll be ready to burn every book out there on the evils of wheat and grains.  We shall see.

We’ve decided a few things.  If we go to anyone’s house for a meal, we will gladly eat whatever is set before us. After all, we do not have any known medical reason why we shouldn’t eat wheat.  Therefore, we will be thankful for whatever we are given. This includes the kids eating the snacks that are typically provided for them at church.  And we have also decided not to mention this wheat-free experiment to the kids, for the moment.  But I’m sure the question will arise sometime this month- Where are my goldfish crackers?  Where’s our usual bread?

Last night I did the shopping to get ready for The Wheat-Free  Experiment.  I’m not calling it The Gluten Free Experiment because we will be eating un-certified oats and the like. However, the GF label is very helpful in choosing wheat-free products.  My shopping venture in and of itself was eye opening. I walked down the cracker and snack aisle just to see if there was anything we could eat.  Nope. Nothing.  Wheat in everything.  I didn’t even stop to look at the Oops We Baked Too Much cart, always a favorite. Because, after all, it’s all made with wheat. Didn’t even look at the bread aisle, where I usually buy five loaves of bread. I was just beginning to think I was going to save a ton of money on groceries.  But of course, these wheat-full snacks must be replaced by wheat-less ones.  I had already done some research on foods to buy.  Rice cakes (my kids love them), popcorn (my favorite.  I can never go on a diet that doesn’t allow me to eat popcorn. Or peanut butter.  That’s just the way it is), baked corn chips.  100% grape juice and frozen berries to make slushies and juice pops.  Dried fruits and fresh fruits.  Many of these are staples around here anyway.  But then there were some essential replacements like brown rice pasta and some treats like The Peanut Butter Company’s dark chocolate peanut butter- something special to spread on those rice cakes!  I bought more than the usual frozen veggies and fresh produce.  I was delighted by all the processed foods we just “naturally” can’t have because they have wheat in them.  When all was said and done, my grocery bill was no leaner, but neither was it heftier.  It seemed like the typical amount I spend on my stock up trips that occur every two weeks or so.

But much remains to be seen.  And I think it’s going to be just plain fun finding out if this wheat-less lifestyle works for us.  I’m thankful for a really fun husband who will eat just about anything and really likes my great ideas when it comes to food.  As he said, we eat a lot of naturally wheat-free foods anyway.  He thinks I am cool and interesting.  He likes learning all this foodie stuff from me.  I get  fulfillment out of designing a menu the way he gets fulfillment out of designing a woodshed.

So let the experiment begin (on Friday!).

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Homeschool Mother's Journal Feb 23rd

In my life this week

I FINALLY painted the kid's "wing", the gigantic hallway outside their bedrooms that is the play room.

In our homeschool this week

We had a "light" week because the public schools were on vacation and, well, it just seems wrong to not lighten up a little when all the other kids are.  We go against the grain enough.  We finished up our second and final week in Saudi Arabia, had some hummus (which B-E-G loves and Mister tried.  Petite said it was "too spicy", her code words for "I don't like this."), and chucked formal math and LA.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice

Go to a convention, even if it's just to stare at all the other homeschoolers and feel like part of something way bigger than your "classroom".  It really is quite cool.

Places we're going and people we're seeing

This week our library had a local author/illustrator visit and share how a book goes from storyboard to being published.  Mister and B-E-G participated while I kept track of Petite in the children's room. Mister came home and started drawing up a storm. He's been making comic books all week.  Friends came to visit on Thursday.  Hear that? Friends! We're making friends!

My favorite thing this week

Taking some time away from our usual school schedule and relaxing a little.  Watching Duck Dynasty with Josh.  We watch very little TV.  I got him  the first three X-Men movies for Christmas, which we have never seen, and we still haven't watched them. But we can handle 22 minutes of Ducky Dynasty without falling asleep.

The kids' favorite thing this week

Getting the ants for the ant farm in the mail and watching them get to work!

Things I'm working on

Making a list of things I need for school next year and things I want to peruse when I go to the homeschool convention.

I'm reading

The biography of Amy Carmichael to the kids.  Wonderful. I never read a missionary biography before this school year.  Just loving them.

I'm cooking

Homemade Mac n Cheese for me and the girls tonight.  Josh and Mister have gone out for some "boy time" and will be back for movie night.  And I also made a lovely looking chocolate layer cake.  No special occasion required for a layer cake.  But it sure makes a day feel special.
OO, and I made the frosting with coconut oil. Delish.  I'm in love with coconut oil.  A layer of that and a layer of peanut butter on a rice cake... oo, heaven.  I have no qualms about (good) fat.

I'm grateful for

A husband hand-picked my God for me.  He is really the best.

I'm praying for

Little things and big things.  Friends and people I barely know.

I rewarded my kids this week by

Giving them a break from their math books.

Something I'm ogling or have my eye on

Anything and everything IKEA!

A video or photo

So after watching this, the First Lady raised a few notches in my esteem. :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal Post V-Day

Join the meme here and see what other homeschool moms are up to!

In my life this week

A mini crisis on the homeschooling front?  Probably more like a mini math crisis.  It's always math.  Why, why, why?

In our homeschool this week

We began our two-week unit on Saudi Arabia.  Very fascinating, the country is completely ruled by the royal family and Islam is the law.  It's just sinking in deeper the similarities and yet sharp divide between this country and the nation of Israel... Both governed by a "higher power", consider themselves a chosen people, each descended from Abraham... so interesting.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice

The crises will come.  I don't think that's the time to completely overhaul your curriculum or anything else.  It's a time to rest, throw off some burdens, and wait it out.

Places we're going and people we're seeing

We had a Valentine's Day party this week with three other families.  We had the perfect amount of kids to not have complete chaos and a lot of fun!  Tomorrow we celebrate my niece's birthday at the roller rink and then I'm taking her and Brown-Eyed Girl out for an afternoon of shopping.

My favorite thing this week

Box day on Tuesday!  Yes, I ordered next year's core plus some other fun stuff!  I squealed with delight when the UPS man carried it in for me!

My kids favorite thing this week

The party!

Things I'm working on

Checking out the teacher's guide to Creation to the Greeks for next year!    I like to have plenty of time to peruse it and know what to keep my eye out for as far as art and science supplies and any fun extras. So I admit- excited about next year but feeling a little overwhelmed.  Working on... just making the most of today?

I'm cooking

Josh was away on business for the past few days, so we didn't have our traditional candlelight dinner for Valentine's Day.  Brown Eyed Girl was ready to proceed without him, but I convinced her we should wait for Daddy to get home.  So tonight's menu is extra special with filet mignon, fruit and bread and brie, roasted garlic potatoes and asparagus, and cherry sparkling juice in our wedding stemware.  Can you believe, however, that I have not come up with a desert?

I'm reading

The Well Behaved Child by John Rosemond.  In fact, I read it in a day.  All I can say is it is excellent, very different.  It's apt to be loved or hated with fierceness.  The "grace" model of parenting is really popular right now.  Addressing the heart issues. I think this book does that, but in a very different way.

I'm grateful for

How bright the sunshine has been the past few days.  It really does make the day "brighter".

I rewarded my kids this week by

Well, it wasn't necessarily a reward, but we got them each a little Valentine's Day present.  A new tee shirt and notebook for the older two and an outfit and Minnie Mouse book for Petite.  They were tickled.

Something I'm ogling or have my eye on

I've always got quite a wishlist going on all my favorite websites. Amazon, CBD, and Vitacost.  I'm currently in the market for some kind of treatment for these awful dark circles under my eyes!  I know there are no miracles, but there must be some helpful product,  right?

A photo or video I enjoyed

Okay, so we all love Grumpy Cat!  I pre-screen them before showing the kids because there's a lot of potty-mouth ones out there, but this is my favorite, 80s lover that I am!  We can't help but get a laugh out of that Grumpy Cat face!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Falling Off the Wagon

I can't tell you how many bandwagons I've jumped on over the years.  Some new (or old) idea rolls through town, and like a float in the Fourth of July parade, it looks as right as the red, white, and blue.  I could name a few for you.  Let's start with diets. Atkins. South Beach.  Vegetarian.  Now for my gurus.  Mary Pride.  The Vision Forum folks.  The pastor of the church where I got saved.  How bout politicians?  All Republicans, of course.  It doesn't matter who, specifically. If they are a Republican, then I'm on board.  Churches?  Affiliations?  Oh, Calvary Chapel only, of course.  And only ministries associated with them.

Are you feeling sick yet?  I sure am.

But there's more. Vaccines.   Birth control.  Scheduling a baby vs. demand feeding.  Tithing.  Home education.  The roles of women in the church and society.

Let me tell you all about the ride I'm on and convince you to jump on the bandwagon too.  Cause the ride is great. It may not be fun, but it is, after all, headed in the right direction.  And we can feel pretty smug together that we are doing all the right things.

I am embellishing just a little bit here, when it comes to my stance on these issues and more.  But I have found that every bandwagon I have jumped on over the years I have come to regret.  Except for one.

Following Jesus.

Being a follower of Jesus has nothing to do with diet, education, affiliation, politics, breast feeding, birth control, health care choices, or money.

And yet it has everything to do with these things.

But first, the law which sums up the entire Bible.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

As hard as it is to accept, the only opinion in heaven and on earth that really matters is the opinion of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But here is what we do, as Christians.  We are like the children of Israel who stood at the base of Mt. Sinai, who were content to receive the message of the law through Moses.  The message was this: Don't do this, don't do that.  But we ought to be like Moses, who climbed the mountain to hear from God and to also see God face-to-face.  Moses got more than the law.  He got an intimate encounter with God, and a fuller revelation of who he is.  More than just commandments, this is what Moses heard from the mouth of the Lord.  "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin..." (Exodus 34:6,7)

In this face-to-face encounter, the Lord gave no rules.  He gave no law.  He only said "I am a god of mercy, grace, patience, faithfulness, forgiveness and love you can never possibly exhaust."

Yes, the Lord laid out some laws.  He deals with sin.  A righteous, holy, and loving God cannot stand by and  let his children hurt themselves and others without stepping in.  Any more than a loving parent can stand by and let their child play with fire.  But the main theme on that mountain?  Love.  The main theme at the bottom of the hill?  Law.

A personal relationship with Christ demands more than following the rules or jumping on the Christian bandwagon.  It demands love.  In his love for me, the Lord gives me a certain path to follow.  When I meet with him face-to-face (though through a glass darkly) he leads me with mercy and faithfulness, forgiveness, and patience.  He leads me personally.  He has led me to be a stay-at-home mom who home educates.  He gave me the desire of my heart when I had three natural births and was able to breast feed.  I stood on the fence when it came to vaccinations until he led me to have many of them given to my children.  He has led me to believe that President Obama is not the anti-Christ (smile now, come on).  He has led me to think that yes, perhaps some gun control is necessary, even though my better Republican judgement says don't let anyone touch our freedom in the slightest.  (oops, may have lost some of you on this one).   He has led me to believe it is just fine if Josh and I only want to have three children.   And he has led me to believe that in the end, he is Sovereign.  Over any and all these things.

I regret being on the Calvary Chapel Only bandwagon.  And the Republican Only bandwagon.  And the No Medication bandwagon. And the KJV Only bandwagon (just kidding, never got on that one).  These were "laws" that came delivered by man.  But when I climbed the mountain to spend time with the Lord, this is not the message I received.

I have firm convictions about some of the things I have mentioned.  And I could spout off about them until I am blue in the face.  But if I do that, and I have not love, then all you hear is "wah, wah, wah, wah, wah" (it's very much like Charlie Brown's teacher).  I apologize for the times that I have done just that.  I don't apologize for my stand, but I do apologize for my lack of love, grace, and mercy. That is all I have ever received from my Father in heaven.  Unfortunately, my tendency can still be to meet with him face-to-face and then hand you the law on stone tablets.  So you must go up for yourself.

You must fall off the wagon and get your directions from him.  He may tell you to get back on. His love for you will lead you on a very personal journey.  Just try not to create a wagon train, okay?

Note to self: You must fall of the wagon and get your directions from the Lord.  He may tell you to get back on.  But  try not to create a wagon train.

Okay Steph?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Homeschool Mother's Journal -The 1st of February

I am a journaler by nature.  I love this weekly wrap up.  You can join the meme  here.

In my life this week

The temperatures warmed, the wind swept things away, the week flew by. I can't believe it is February already and that we are nearing our 100th day of school and already more than half way through.  It is always exciting.

In our homeschool this week

We spent our second week in Africa, learned to play mancala, and continue reading about David Livingstone.  I am reading Gooney the Fabulous to a very eager Brown-Eyed Girl.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice

Let them have plenty of time to do what they love.  And be sure to do something you love too.

Places we're going and people we're seeing

My nephew is coming to visit for the weekend so the kids are very excited.

My favorite thing this week

Having a new friend come over to visit with her two girls.

My kiddos favorite things this week

When I asked Mister this question he said it was going to Storyland. Um, well, that was last summer.  We need to work on time.

Things I'm working on

I'm keeping up with my Project Life album.

I'm cooking

Friday seems to be fun food night.  Often homemade pizza. Tonight, chicken nuggets, buffalo wings, queso cheese bites, french fries.  Salad and baby carrots for good measure.  We don't eat junk every night, I promise.

I'm reading

I'm considering reading Les Miserables.  But I'm leaning more towards listening to it.

I'm grateful for

The sweetness and faithfulness of the Lord. I wrote a post earlier this week on intimacy with God.  He's so good to me.

I rewarded my kids this week by

Friday is a reward in and of itself.  :)

Something I'm ogling or have my eye on

I confess I am a total curriculum junkie.  I want to order next year's core soon!  I love to have time to look things over so I can keep my eye out for any fun extras to go along with it before we begin  in the fall.  Have I mentioned we really love My Father's World?

A picture from this week:

Mt. Laundry. It's not a myth.