Friday, October 30, 2009

Genesis 3-4

See my previous post here for notes about interpretation and my process thus far.

Chapter 3:

Interesting to note here that, according to Chapter 2, God didn't tell the woman directly about the ban. He told the man, put him to work, then created the woman. The man must have told the woman about it.

2-3 The Woman said to the serpent, "Not at all. We can eat from the trees in the garden. It's only about the tree in the middle of the garden that God said, 'Don't eat from it; don't even touch it or you'll die.'"

She trusts Man implicitly.

4-5 The serpent told the Woman, "You won't die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you'll see what's really going on. You'll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil."

Not only is the serpent questioning God's validity, but he's also questioning the man's. He is trying to prey on a woman's natural desire for knowledge. Apparently women are always on the lookout for more information. Hey wait, that's what I'm doing. Well, this is still pre-sin, so it must be ok to look for more information, as long as we don't go too far.

6 When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it—she'd know everything!—she took and ate the fruit and then gave some to her husband, and he ate.

So, she at the fruit. She gave it to the man. He apparently followed her lead because he doesn't seem to question her about it. Did he even know what he was eating? Was the fruit of this specific tree so different from all the others that he would be able to tell by looking at it what he was about to do. She obviously wanted him to be all-knowing too.

7 Immediately the two of them did "see what's really going on"—saw themselves naked! They sewed fig leaves together as makeshift clothes for themselves.

Suddenly, after they disobeyed they were filled with shame. They didn't want to look at each other anymore so they covered up hoping it would make everything better. They were embarrassed.

So far, there has been no indication of a leader. God hasn't technically appointed anyone. The woman is still equal in the eyes of the man. The only indication of any sort of leadership is the fact that the man recognizes that he was created first. It certainly doesn't keep him from following his companions lead as he eats the fruit along with her. They both worked together to make the clothes.

8 When they heard the sound of God strolling in the garden in the evening breeze, the Man and his Wife hid in the trees of the garden, hid from God.

9 God called to the Man: "Where are you?"

When God asks a question He is not seeking information. He's simply giving the man an opportunity to own up.

I notice that He doesn't call the woman. Apparently there's a hint here to how God sees his creations in light of their sex. He sees man as the first-born. Man seems to be the one God goes to first. I don't know if I would extrapolate this into a doctrine about men already being put in charge. Maybe it's my own blinders that keep me from seeing it. If there were a situation with my own children I would go to the oldest to find out what was going on. Male or female, it doesn't matter. It's just that the older kid is more likely to know what's happening.

10 He said, "I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid."

11 God said, "Who told you you were naked? Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from?"

12 The Man said, "The Woman you gave me as a companion, she gave me fruit from the tree, and, yes, I ate it."

This definitely sounds like an excuse to me. It also sounds very child-like. Even though historically we've been told that Adam and Eve were formed as adults, this kind of thought process makes me wonder. I can see a kid telling his dad, "It was Eve's fault." He highlights the woman's companionship.

Man: "You made me a friend and I trusted her and I didn't see anything wrong with eating it since she's my best friend and my helper."

God said to the Woman, "What is this that you've done?"

Now God talks to the woman.

13 "The serpent seduced me," she said, "and I ate."

Woman: "That snake creature You made told me I could eat the fruit and I believed him. He made it seem like such a good idea."

I guess now that she can see the difference between good and evil she understands the nature of seduction. She realizes she was tricked by her own sin-less desires into doing something wrong. Now she can't trust her own judgement, let alone anyone else's.

14-15 God told the serpent:
"Because you've done this, you're cursed,
cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals,
Cursed to slink on your belly
and eat dirt all your life.
I'm declaring war between you and the Woman,
between your offspring and hers.
He'll wound your head,
you'll wound his heel."

God doesn't have any conversation with the snake. He didn't put the same God-like nature into the animals, so He doesn't see them as worthy of conversation. He just curses the snake without letting it explain. From now on, all generations of mankind will try to kill snakes.

Further study of the Bible will refer back to this as a prophecy about Jesus, but for now I'm reading it as if it were my first time, so I have to take it at face value.

16 He told the Woman:
"I'll multiply your pains in childbirth;
you'll give birth to your babies in pain.
You'll want to please your husband,
but he'll lord it over you."

Now he moves back to the woman. Interesting to note that He still doesn't seem to be making a point about anyone's authority. He tell woman about all the pain she's causing herself. You'll have to have a lot of pain when you have babies. You'll try to make your husband happy, but he won't appreciate it, and he'll use your desire to his own advantage.

This really seems to point to the question I had earlier about the nature of "helping" mankind. It would seem that our job as women is to help them in every way, but to expect that in their fallen, sinful state, men will try to take advantage of our help.

17-19 He told the Man:
"Because you listened to your wife
and ate from the tree
That I commanded you not to eat from,
'Don't eat from this tree,'
The very ground is cursed because of you;
getting food from the ground
Will be as painful as having babies is for your wife;
you'll be working in pain all your life long.
The ground will sprout thorns and weeds,
you'll get your food the hard way,
Planting and tilling and harvesting,
sweating in the fields from dawn to dusk,
Until you return to that ground yourself, dead and buried;
you started out as dirt, you'll end up dirt."

God the man that He told him not to eat of the tree. He says that the man should have viewed God as the one in charge, not the woman. Here's where the battle of the sexes begins. Men and women were equals. They saw each other as equals and they knew that God was in charge. Woman decided to overrule God's authority and Man followed right along with it. Now man will have a day to day job that will be just as hard as a woman's. Instead of simple maintenance of the earth, Man now has to deal with rot and ruin.

20 The Man, known as Adam, named his wife Eve because she was the mother of all the living.

21 God made leather clothing for Adam and his wife and dressed them.

Here's where we find out that these two have names. God named Adam, and Adam named Eve. The first death occured at this point. God killed one (or possibly two) of his animals to make long lasting clothes for His God-like creations. I guess He knew that they weren't going to want to look at each other's nakedness anymore.

22 God said, "The Man has become like one of us, capable of knowing everything, ranging from good to evil. What if he now should reach out and take fruit from the Tree-of-Life and eat, and live forever? Never—this cannot happen!"

This verse seems to validate what the snake said. The snake wasn't lying. He was just trying to get Eve to see her own desires as more important than trust in her companion.

23-24 So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt out of which they'd been made. He threw them out of the garden and stationed angel-cherubim and a revolving sword of fire east of it, guarding the path to the Tree-of-Life.

He still hasn't officially put Adam in charge. He simply told them they can't have access to eternal life in this state. He hasn't told them here about the possibility of heaven. At least it isn't recorded in the Bible.

Chapter 4:

2 Then she had another baby, Abel.

Eve starts to live out her curse. She not only follows the ideal intent of her creator (re-produce), but has to deal with the consequences of her actions. She has children, but God helps her bring them into the world. I can't even imagine what it must have been like to have the first baby.

Now Cain and Abel have an argument, Cain kills Abel and is marked by God so that although he is cursed he cannot be murdered.

17-18 Cain slept with his wife. She conceived and had Enoch. He then built a city and named it after his son, Enoch.

Where could Cain have gotten his wife. Adam and Eve were the only ones alive to begin with. There must be more information not written verbatim in the Bible about Adam and Eve. I think Cain must have married one of his sisters.

So far the Bible seems to only be recording male children. Wives aren't given names thus far (except Eve). Only son's names are recorded. I don't have an answer for this yet.

19-22 Lamech married two wives, Adah and Zillah. Adah gave birth to Jabal, the ancestor of all who live in tents and herd cattle. His brother's name was Jubal, the ancestor of all who play the lyre and flute. Zillah gave birth to Tubal-Cain, who worked at the forge making bronze and iron tools. Tubal-Cain's sister was Naamah.

Here are three specific women recorded. The first mention of polygamy. I would have to draw some conclusions here. God made one man and one woman in the beginning. For His ideal creation He knew that men only need one helper/companion. Since the fall, though it seems that one of the ways men "Lord it over" their wives is by getting more than one. Why would a man need more than one wife. If her job is to be his helper/companion, then one should be enough. Maybe men were already growing tired of how hard their work was. Their line of thinking could have been, "If I have one woman who's willing to help me out and do stuff to please me, then two women will make my life a lot easier."

I still haven't seen a specific mention of God putting the husband in authority, so I would have to draw the conclusion that Men have told the woman that they are supposed to be in charge (Lording it over) and women must have capitulated (as Eve believed Adam about eating of the tree).

I don't understand why the sister is mentioned here. I'm completely stumped. It must be important, but I'm just drawing a blank.

23-24 Lamech said to his wives,
Adah and Zillah, listen to me;
you wives of Lamech, hear me out:
I killed a man for wounding me,
a young man who attacked me.
If Cain is avenged seven times,
for Lamech it's seventy-seven!

Ok, so Lamech decides to usurp God's authority and declare his own murderous act ok, since Cain (his great-great-great-grandfather) was absolved by God. God never steps in and condones this.

25-26 Adam slept with his wife again. She had a son whom she named Seth. She said, "God has given me another child in place of Abel whom Cain killed." And then Seth had a son whom he named Enosh.

So far, the only reference to sex is in the context of reproduction. Eve views Seth as a replacement of Abel.

That's when men and women began praying and worshiping in the name of God.

So I'm up to chapter 4 and I don't see where people get the idea that Adam was in charge from creation. I see men and women as equals, but I see a curse that women will want to please their husbands and men will abuse this desire.

Genesis 1-2

You can read the 4 chapters for yourself if you want. It will add validity to my commentary.

First rule of Bible interpretation... Context, context, context. You have to interpret what you read based not only on the passage it is in, but by the whole overtone of the Bible. I'm going to start from the mindset that I have never read the Bible before. I am trying to look at the pages as a new convert would. Someone who doesn't have a long history of mentors trying to tell her what each verse is supposed to mean.

That said, I'm going to isolate specific portions of scripture as they pertain specifically to women, and I'm going to paraphrase the rest of it.

Chapter 1:
First, God creates everything. On the sixth day here's what He does.

26-28 God spoke: "Let us make human beings in our image, make them
reflecting our nature
So they can be responsible for the fish in the sea,
the birds in the air, the cattle,
And, yes, Earth itself,
and every animal that moves on the face of Earth."
God created human beings;
he created them godlike,
Reflecting God's nature.
He created them male and female.
God blessed them:
"Prosper! Reproduce! Fill Earth! Take charge!
Be responsible for fish in the sea and birds in the air,
for every living thing that moves on the face of Earth."

29-30 Then God said, "I've given you
every sort of seed-bearing plant on Earth
And every kind of fruit-bearing tree,
given them to you for food.
To all animals and all birds,
everything that moves and breathes,
I give whatever grows out of the ground for food."
And there it was.

In this part of the passage God is talking about humans. He's not isolating male from female. The same information applies to both sexes. Humans were the last beings created. They are God-like... posessing His nature. They were given specific jobs: reproduce, take care of plants and animals, and take control of everything else in creation. They were also told to eat plants not animals.

It seems to imply that men and women are equal beings with the same role. Keep in mind, this is before any sin entered the world, so this is God's ideal setting. They are equally God like, there is no authority over each other... only equal authority under God, their creator.

Chapter 2:

God rested on the 7th Day, and then the chapter seems to make a U-turn. It goes into much greater detail about the creation of each sex.

18-20 God said, "It's not good for the Man to be alone; I'll make him a helper, a companion." SoGod formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn't find a suitable companion.

God wanted to make sure that every creature had a means of reproducing and companionship. He seems to want to drive home the point to men that they NEED women. Ideally, they are not supposed to carry out their life's work without female companionship and help. I find it interesting that he made the man do a bunch of work and follow a thought to it's logical conclusion.

God: "Ok Man, Here's what you're supposed to do. I made all these things and you have to name them."

Man: "Hmmm... these two look the same, I'll name them ---. Hey, these two look the same, also. Hey, how come everyone else gets a double, and I don't?"

Here's where I could go on a long rabbit trail about the meaning of the word "help", and how it applies to the idea of "co-dependence." Are we supposed to help by simply fetching and carrying, or does this apply to the concept of helping them become better human beings? Where is the fine line between being a helper who works alongside, and a helper who teaches a better process?

I've heard teachings about why God used a rib. I find it interesting how people like to take this little section and create entire theologies about their interpretation of these two little verses. For now I'm just going to say, the fact is this: He used a part of the man to make a woman. I happen to think that it's just a continuation of the emphasis on the fact that man isn't supposed to try to do things by himself. Women should see themselves as facilitators.

23-25 The Man said,
"Finally! Bone of my bone,
flesh of my flesh!
Name her Woman
for she was made from Man."
Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh.
The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.

Ok, so this is the ideal. Men are supposed to pair up with women and make their own unit. Women are supposed to see themselves as half of a two piece puzzle. They aren't supposed to be alone either, and they're original purpose was to "help" their male counterpart.

Also in this ideal, pre-sin situation they don't waste any energy worrying about how they look. They are completely without barriers. Nothing to hide behind, but also no reason to hide.

The start of a big study

So I read the first 4 chapters of Genesis last night.

I guess deep down I'm a rebel. I just can't seem to get over my pre-occupation with finding things out for myself. I was told the whole time I was growing up that "this verse means this" or "that verse means that." Deep down I often questioned why.

Why does it have to mean that? Who decided that a particular passage meant a particular thing, and why must we all agree with that person?

I've been questioning authority again. Wondering about my role as a Wife/Mother/Woman.
1) When I was growing up I was taught that I was to be submissive to my husband if and when I got married.
2) I was taught to submit to my pastor in my church. I was told that as a woman I would not be allowed to become a pastor, or a teacher of men. I've read books that have told me that I could be a pastor if I chose because the same verses that were interpreted by my previous mentors were supposed to mean a different thing.
3) I've heard teachings that the ONLY true calling for a woman is to be a helper to a man. This leaves a lot of single women out in the cold.
4) I've heard that as long as a woman is single, she should be under her father's authority. This leaves her forsaken once her father is dead. If her father is dead, then she's under the authority of her pastor.
5) I've heard that if a woman is divorced by her husband then she is back under her father's authority.
6) I've heard that if a woman is divorced and falls in love with another single man, they should get married to keep from sexual sin. I've also heard of fathers not allowing their previously divorced daughters to date or have any casual friendships with men because they are never to remarry.
7) I've heard and read that women are equal with men, and that the only reason for verses about submission is so that if there is an impasse there will be an order of direction. In this case the man is made into a sort of scape-goat if his decisions prove wrong.
8) I've heard that the only time a woman should have to submit to a man's leadership is in the confines of marriage.

I could continue, but I could go on and on and get very boring (unless, of course, I already have). My point is this, I'm confused. I want to know what is right. I want to feel confident and be at peace knowing that I am being a good Christian. I want to be able to teach my daughters the right role as a woman.

Of course this brings up another problem. If Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the tree of "The Knowledge of Good and Evil." Then, am I not supposed to try to figure it all out? That confuses me even more. Because there's that verse "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth." Maybe I'm misinterpreting that verse too.

So I've been praying fore God to show me what is right, and here is what He told me. (My paraphrase) "You know how to read, right? You can actually open that big book I gave you. You know, the one I took hundreds of years to write. You could actually read the pages yourself and find out what I have to say on the subject. You don't have to rely on books written by revered Scholars. I will teach you as you go."

Here's what I said back to Him (essentially). "I know, but I don't want to do all that studying and reading and searching. I want to just read what someone else to the time to study out, and just sort of know, instantly, that they have it right. I have kids to raise. I'm a homeschool mom. I don't have time right now to actually read through the whole Bible looking for information specific to my role as a woman."

God: "Ok, then... you can stay confused. I don't really want to hear your complaining."

So here I am... I read the first 4 chapters of Genesis last night. I can't guarantee I'll blog everything I learn, but hey, that's my prerogative. If you want to know what I find... you can read it for yourself.

Monday, October 19, 2009

New Books

Ok, so I decided to try reading again.

I had to give it up for a while because I just couldn't find the self-discipline to put the book down and tend to my family. I would be sucked into the reading vortex and wouldn't emerge until the book was read in completion.

I was looking for some good non-fiction to try to read at a more reasonable pace, and found this book.

I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. I'm pretty confused about my role as a homemaker and a wife. I've definitely heard opinions in every extreme.

I've heard from people who seem to hold the view that a homemaker is essentially mindless and incapable of making rational decisions and therefore dependent on her Godly, smart, and otherwise superior husband to lead her in the way she should go. Can you hear the anger in that statement? I've also heard from people who believe that men are incompetent and that submission is more optional based on the performance of the male.

I've heard that homemaking is a glorious calling that, if done properly, will fulfill the voids in life with personal gratification, and I've experienced that housework is frustrating and nerve wracking, and children seem to get in the way far too much. I've been blissfully happy in my role, and at the point of depression bordering on a physician's intervention.

So I thought that a book like this would help me out by encouraging me in my role. I've only begun the book and I truly wish I had another trusted woman's thoughts about it. The beginning seems a bit "harsh". It reads like a rant from an angry woman.

After the first couple of introductory chapters though I seem to find the relief I was seeking. The practical advice seems down to earth and as I read it sinks into my spirit like a balm.

I would love it if some of my friends and family would read the book (it's not that long) and give me their opinion on it. I'm especially looking for personal opinion about it's scriptural basis, and it's overall tone (e.g. did I pick up on the anger vibe simply because I hold the same anger in my own heart?). I would love to hear from both homemakers and friends who have a professional career. I firmly believe that in the multitude of counselors there is safety.

So, let me know if you have anything to share.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Irish Potato and Leek soup

First off, let me tell you how I found this doozy of a soup.

My son has, in the past, been a very picky person. Something happened to him when he turned 10. Somehow those magic double digits altered his brain function or something because now, after all these years of telling him he has to at least try something before turning his nose up at it, he is voluntarily trying strange new foods.

We were at Sweet Tomatoes and, instead of eating his arbitrary three vegetables and a good size helping of macaroni and cheese before asking for dessert, he skipped the macaroni and went over to look at the soup bar. He decided on their Irish Potato and Leek Soup (simply because he has taken a liking to the idea of his Irish heritage), and topped it with healthy servings of bacon bits, sour cream and shredded cheese.

After polishing off his concoction he turned to me and said, "Can we try making this at home sometime?" I certainly wasn't going to let this opportunity slip through my fingers and that week I bought red potatoes leeks and looked up recipes online until I found one that looked right.
The great thing about it was that our experiment landed squarely in the month of March just in time for St Patricks day. We used enough leeks that the pureed end result actually took on a greenish hue. The color of the food enticed his hesitant siblings to try it with an open mind, and in the end they all agreed that it was a "keeper".

So now, with out further ado...

Irish Potato and Leek Soup

(I have always like the format used in the Joy of Cooking for recipes, so I'll use it here.)

First: peel and chop into chunks
1/2 bag of Red Potatoes (2.5 lbs )
Cover the potatoes with water and set to boil about 20 minutes or until they are tender enough to mash.
Meanwhile: wash, peel, slice, and otherwise prepare
3 Leeks (about 1 lb)
2 Medium cooking onions
Saute the vegetables in a large stock pot in
4 Tablespoons Butter (Salted or unsalted, doesn't matter to me)
After they are soft and slightly transparent, add
5 cups chicken stock or broth
2 1/2 cups milk
1 bay leaf (broken, but not crushed)
2 Tablespoons dried parsley
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
Reduce the heat to low and simmer until everything is mushy and ready to blend. Drain the potatoes and set aside while everything else is simmering. Remove the bay leaf, and mix in the potatoes.
Now you have two options. First (my preferred method) you can use an immersion blender to blend everything into a smooth creamy consistency. Second, you can transfer the soup to a blender (in batches) and puree until smooth and creamy.
Serve with whatever potato toppings you choose, like
Bacon bits
Sour cream
Shredded cheese
OR simply with a swirl of
half and half
and some
Chopped fresh chives
If you want to double the recipe and freeze it, you can use chicken bouillon cubes. I used about 2 cups of water and 5 bouillon cubes to concentrate the soup. I also reduced the amount of milk to 2 cups during prep and eye-balled the rest of the milk when I reconstituted it later.

Oh, and if you want to add a surreal quality to already small greenish tint, you can add a couple drops of food coloring to make the kids happy. You could even try dyeing some ham cubes and they can have Green Soup and Ham. Just don't try it "in the rain, on a train." It might get a bit watery.

Soup Kitchen

So, the other night, my best friend and I decided to make some soup. After all, it's fall. Even though the temperatures in South Florida would bely that fact, we still want to celebrate it. With four kids a piece making a soup from scratch is sometimes a time consuming, frustrating days work, rather than a calming fall ritual.

We packed the time with plenty of good food and fun. We each bought and prepared ingredients for 3 soups. Each recipe had to be enough for 2 meals per family. All told, we made a total of 24 meals worth of soup. And I'm talking big meals. We froze the soups in gladware containers, and ziplock bags, and they should last us through the rest of the season if we don't decide to have soup more than a couple times per week.

I wish I would have taken the time to take more pictures of the event, but since it took us until 10 p.m. to finish our feat, taking pictures would have been all the more exhausting. I will try to post pictures as we use up the soups. For now I'll just post some of the recipes.

Here is the list

My soups:
Irish Potato and Leek Soup
Corn Chowder
Cauliflower soup

Her soups:
Classic Butternut Squash Soup
Simple Pumpkin Soup
Homestyle Chicken soup

Recipes to come. (I thought it would be easier to share them if they were individual posts) Keep in mind that many of these were recipes we found on the web long ago (some more recently), so if you're the originator of the recipe, kudos to you for coming up with such a delicious recipe. My family thanks you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

blog disclosure

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Have you ever? (beauty)

Have you ever looked a picture of yourself with caring eyes?

I'm talking about seeing your own reflection through the eyes of someone who likes you. How often do we look in the mirror and try to find something wrong. A hair out of place, a bulge, a spot. Why can we not take a step back and think, "Someone can see beauty in this reflection. Someone chooses to spend time with this person. Someone likes this person."

We look at people on television or online, or in magazines and think, "They are so lucky to be beautiful, to know they are sought after, to know they have an audience who adores them." They have people who make sure they are always looking their best. And yet, do we ever stop to wonder what they looked like when they were discovered. Someone saw them in their unaltered state and knew they had potential. Someone picked them before they were famous.

I know so many people who hate to see photographs of themselves. They hide from the camera because they don't want to be reminded of how they look. I used to feel that way. Having my picture taken was a chore. I wish my friends would realize how pretty they really are. I with they knew how often people looked at them and made positive comments.

I have one friend with the most beautiful hair I have ever seen. It is long and has just the perfect amount of wave to it. It is effortless for her to grow it out it seems. I often look at her and wish my hair were long and beautiful like hers. She is to me what Anne felt about Diana Barry in Anne of Green Gables.

I have another friend with brilliant blue eyes. They look like sapphires. I was talking to her one day and realized that I had completely forgotten what she was saying because I was suddenly focused on her eyes. I NEVER notice people eyes. My own husband asked me what color eyes he had when we were first married and I had to look at them before I could answer.

Some friends are pretty in a way that I just can't put my finger on. I guess they have the right balance of features, not too big a nose, not to prominent a chin, etc. Some of my friends have started showing signs of age in a beautiful way. They may look at a face that is older and more worn or wrinkled, but I see such peace on them, and I hope I look like them as I age.

Of course, some of my friends are just pretty, and they know it. They somehow figured out how to achieve the ideal look, or they have the gift of maintaining their figure year after year. Those are the ones I am confused with when they start to complain about their looks.

So I guess all I'm trying to say is, take another look at yourself. Look in the mirror through different eyes, and see what your closest friends see. They see a person who is desirable. They see someone who has captivated their attention and caused them to want to get to know them more. Stop looking for things that must be changed, and start noticing things that are already perfect.

Friday, August 14, 2009


I just got home from Wal-Mart. I know what you’re thinking… “What’s so important that she feels the need to blog about it???” It was a rather uneventful trip, but I shopped a little differently this time.

My friend and I were talking about the importance of buying US made products. We were doing searches online for things that are made in the USA, and came across some really nice stuff.

Well, of course, reality set in and I realized that eventually I’m going to have to decide if I’m willing to spend my time and money actually buying only American made products. This means no more impulsive toy purchases for the kids since most of the things they like are made in China. This means no more flippant purchases of beauty care products.

Here are a few things that I found.

First of all, the Wal-Mart “off-brand” (great value) seems to be mostly made in the USA. Everything I purchased in that brand was, I can’t vouch for things I didn’t buy.

I was looking for some cheap toys to add to my “toy store.” The toy store is an incentive thing I’m doing for the kids this year. If they do well in school they earn gold coins (I bought them before I decided to go all out American from oriental trading). At the end of the month they can use the coins to buy toys and candy from my store. I read somewhere that the Slinky brand was still made in the USA. I found some windmill spinners from “Slinky” that were $1 a piece and they said in bold print “Made in the USA.”

I also found some cardboard puzzles that were very inexpensive from “Briar Patch.” Made in the USA.

I had some trouble with some of the hair and body care items. They mostly said “distributed by…” I’ll have to do some research on those. I did, however find that Herbal Essences are definitely made in the USA. I also found some off brand spray-on sun block, “Ocean Potion.”

Have you ever tried that “Malt’O’Meal” cereal that comes in a big bag… you guessed it… it’s American made.

Of course, things like fresh produce and the gallon of milk I bought aren’t labeled “Made in the USA.” I would hope they were grown here… surely the Chinese haven’t discovered ways of producing and shipping those things cheaper than we can.

Now, lest you be concerned about my possible racial prejudice against the Chinese, this simply isn’t the case. Some of my dearest friends are Chinese. The main reason for this sudden shift in personal policy is simple. 1) I realize we’re in a recession and millions of American’s have lost or are in danger of losing their jobs. I prefer to support American companies right now so that I can help out even if it’s just one drop in a very big bucket. 2) Certain countries (like China) are currently governed in a way that I do not want to support. While I certainly wouldn’t have a problem buying things from, let’s say, Great Britain, or Germany, I do not wish to buy them from places like Cuba or China. And finally, 3) I want to start teaching my children the value of cheap vs. quality stuff.

Oh and one more thing. If you don’t want to do this, or if you don’t think you can, I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. God provides differently for each person, and He grows each of us in a different way. It makes us all unique and adds a different dimension to the world, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I will say, though that a lot of the grocery type items I found that were made in the USA were much cheaper than popular name brand items.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

More Randomness

Why is teaching reading to a kindergartner so exciting, but teaching reading to a first grader is mind numbing. I guess it's one area of teaching where I haven't developed patience yet.

I tend to do that, ya know. I expect my kids to get something on their first try. I mean, after all, it's sooo easy for me to do it. ;)

I did the same thing with potty training. I did great for the first couple of months because my expectations were such that I figured it would take a few months for them to master the art. With each child I was proven wrong. Now, with my fourth, I expect potty training to take at least two years. With my third I finally raised my expectations from a few months to 1 year. She's still having accidents.

On that note, I've learned that my third child cannot drink tea unless there is a bathroom readily accessible for the next several hours. I've never known tea to affect someone in that way before. It's a bit frustrating because I really would love to have tea with her more often.

I am about to go through my house and throw everything away... again. I am surrounded by piles of paper and useless objects. I want to get rid of my children's toys, but I know they would like to play with them. I keep most of them locked away because it's too overwhelming for them to keep all of the accessible and still be able to clean up after themselves.

I used to hate the idea of barrister bookcases. Those are the ones with the sliding glass panels that drop down over the books. They are beautiful to look at, but they make it more difficult to access the books inside. Now that I have children who like to get all the books off of their bookshelf and lay them all over the floor, barrister bookcases seem like such a nice idea.

One thing I certainly haven't mastered as a mom is the delicate balance between controlling my children and giving them freedom to learn from their own mistakes. This is one area where I would really love to excel. Of course, I don’t want to learn this over the next several years of motherhood. I just want to be good at it right now. :)

Maybe I've ranted about this before, but it frustrates me that I have three little girls and I have no time to sew for them. I realize that when they are older I will have more free time. I realize that when I have more free time I will be able to sew more often. The problem is, I want to sew clothes for them to wear now. I'm sure that my grandchildren will be inundated with homemade clothes from grandma, but it frustrates me that I cannot do this for my girls now.

I wish my baby was more cuddly. I have had cuddly children before. I love my baby, but she doesn't want to cuddle. I feel like a moron writing that one out. I feel like some will read this and judge me as one who doesn't appreciate her child's uniqueness. But that's truly how I feel. Sorry if you're offended.

My son has only been doing 6th grade for one week and already he has impressed me. I hope his determination and hard work will continue as the school year progresses. I want to take him to the Melting Pot sometime, but life keeps getting in the way. I wish we could spend more time together one on one.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Organic Baby Food (Carrots)

It's so easy to make your own baby food, and if it's done right, it can be very cost effective.

This time we'll be making Organic Carrots into baby food.

First, start with the best ingredients. These are organic baby carrots. The nice thing about these is that they are already washed, peeled and ready to eat.

I have 4 kids, so I buy in bulk. This makes it very cost effective to make my own baby food. This whole bag cost me about $6 at Costco. Compare that to 4 jars of organic baby food at the grocery store, which would probably cost about $6 - $8.

I've already used about half the bag on salads, kids snacks, etc. If I used this bag only for baby food I would probably get about 30 portions.

I didn't want to make a mega-batch of baby food. I don't have enough freezer space and it would get old too quickly, so I used a pretty small pot.

I don't measure things like this. The whole point is to keep it simple, or you'll find yourself buying it in the jar. I used about three handfuls of the carrots. I didn't give them an extra wash either. Just straight from the bag into the pot.

It took about 15 minutes for the carrots to get soft enough to mash. I probably could have cooked them a bit longer though because they were still pretty lumpy when I was done. Just bring it to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer to steam them. Be sure to use a lid.

Next transfer the soft carrots to a bowl. Don't drain the water from the pot. Use it to make the carrot mash a bit thinner consistency. Also, the water contains a lot of vitamins and minerals which would otherwise be lost in the steaming process. If you look at the ingredients on a bottle of baby food it will say "carrots, water," and sometimes, "Ascorbic Acid" (a fancy way of saying vitamin C).

You can use a good old fashioned potato masher to mash it up. A hand held blender, or one of those fancy potato ricers would probably mash it a bit finer, but this is works for me.

One thing I learned is that if you're mashing immediately after you've taken it off the stove, you might not want to use a metal bowl. It gets a bit hot to handle.

My baby is about 7 months old and I don't make the carrots completely smooth. I like to leave a more chunky texture. It is a natural born reflex to be able to mash foods in their mouths, and it doesn't need to be learned as a toddler. I believe giving a baby food that they can just suck in and swallow teaches them that they don't have to chew their food.

Keep in mind, of course, this is under adult supervision. As with any baby feeding, you can't leave a baby alone when it's self feeding, or let an older child feed the baby without adult supervision. I can't count the number of times I've had to do a finger sweep even with an older toddler because they "bit off more than they could chew."

If you wonder just how strong a baby's bite is, just put your finger in his/her mouth. Even younger babies are actually quite capable of smashing many foods. If you can easily smash a lump between your fingers it should mash easily in baby's mouth. If you want to be even more careful, try putting a lump into your mouth and smashing it with your tongue against the roof of your mouth.

I fed my firstborn with a lot of finely pureed baby foods and when I tried to switch him to "finger foods" he couldn't stand the texture of many of the foods he loved. All of my other children have gotten finger foods early and they have not had any issues like my first did.

Now we portion the mash. I have a bunch of these little half-cup containers. These are the perfect size. They travel easily, freeze well, and are cheap, so they can be thrown out if you are out and about. Of course, carrots and any other brightly colored vegetable will stain them.

For those of you who have heard about the ice cube tray method: I've tried this and I felt it got freezer burned too often. Yes, I popped them out and put them in a ziplock. They still got freezer burned.

You can run the carrots through a strainer if you want to be sure there are no more big chunks. I'm sure if Martha Stewart were writing this, she would tell you that this step is essential. If you want to do this you have to cook it a bit longer. This particular batch was still too firm to easily push through. Also, this is a good thing to do if you are making peas or green beans. it gets rid of the harder to digest hulls and stringy parts.

Be sure to squeeze as much air out as you can before storing in the freezer. That is what keeps it from getting freezer burned.

I find it easier to do one type of food at a time right before a meal. If I tried to do a big batch of 4 different foods then they would be more work, more clean-up, and I would get tired of doing it all the time.

Clean up: one pot, one bowl, potato masher, strainer, spatula... pretty simple. I could have gotten out my food processor, but that would have complicated things too much.

Oh, and if you're wondering what to do with the baby... I breastfed mine while the carrots were cooking, and then let her play in the "bath" (kitchen sink) while I mashed and portioned.

If baby is sitting up well enough to eat solid food, then she should be fine playing bath-time in the sink while you're working. Unless you have a huge kitchen, you should be close enough to keep an eye out and come to the rescue if baby tries to climb on the counter, or slips a bit. If baby can't sit up in shallow water by him/herself, I would recommend waiting a bit longer to start solids. Or, if you're sure that your baby is ready for solids, try something simpler like rice cereal mixed with breastmilk, or finely mashed oatmeal.

Speaking of cereal... I think that will be in my next blog.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I'm trying out Blogger

so I've been a member of Homeschool blogger for a while, but now I'm thinking that I should switch to a more generic blog host. I don't really write very much about homeschooling but rather about day to day stuff. I'm very random.

So that's it... my first post... hope you liked it.