t h e m a y f i l e s is foremost a family blog, chronicling everyday life. Life including natural, healthy eating (with recipes thrown in at random), home educating (with ideas popping up sporadically), an attempt to homestead on .2 acres (with very meager yields), raising 3 of 4 children with a rare genetic disorder, and lots of highly personal family triumphs and failures. You may also find an eclectic array of musings on politics, exercise, sewing, emergency preparedness, backyard chickens, and religion. This blog isn't a campaign to glorify anyone or anything. Just simply a record.


The Newest Member of our Family...Our Piano!

After hours and weeks of researching and scouring stores and classifieds we welcomed our newest addition to our home. A piano! Giddy would be an apt way to describe our families current emotions. My next door neighbor has his own piano studio and teaches lessons professionally. He came over and gave the piano a once-over. It was incredible to hear it played in a way I just can't seem to... He was so impressed and gushed for 10 minutes. It made me even more giddy!
Off the truck...they have been moving piano's for 40 years...I was a bit skeptical when they pulled up in a pick-up truck...but clearly they knew what they were doing.

I was worried it wouldn't fit through the door, but with some maneuvering no problems.

Music was a crucial part of our home growing up. In fact, I have memories which still make me cringe of our parents insisting we perform for Sunday afternoon guests.

Now as a parent I see the wisdom. In fact, I am certain I will torture my own children in like fashion! I also have vivid memories of myself as a middle-schooler, adamant, I would NEVER regret quitting piano. Of course, I do.

Here's to hoping for many more years of sitting together with my children at the piano.


Happy First Birthday Emmett

My little Emmett is deserving of a Happy Birthday Blog. Sorry it is a bit late (February 22). My favorite things...

  • He stuffs brussell sprouts in his mouth with gusto and pleasure...what parent doesn't derive pleasure from watching their child inhale green vegetables?
  • He has perfected the consonant "D" is all its varieties...especially "Da" in reference to his father, "Dah" for any dogs remotely near him, and "Doh" for all those "dropped" objects from his high chair.
  • The constant goo streaming from his nose and mouth...he just wouldn't be our Goo Man without it.
  • The open mouth, lunging, slobbery kisses I receive when he is especially overjoyed with me as his mother...like the one I got after I let him lick the chocolate cake batter beater....wouldn't trade that kiss and smile for the world!
  • His scrunched up, squinty eyed, cabbage patch face and loud, fast paced panting when he is excited...this usually includes the moment Brent, or a dog, walk in the room.
  • How in a moment of pain, after yet another bonk on the noggin, as I lovingly pat his back and try to console him, amidst his anguished sobs he pats my back in perfect rapport.
  • Those quiet moments, with the rest of the house asleep, in the early morning hours as I feed him before I run, his delighted mischeivious smiles and head resting on my shoulder before I lay him back down to sleep for another hour while I am away.
I love you Emmett!


Thin Mints...A Work in Progress

A work in progress and they have to be served to company! I made an attempt at thin mints today in honor of Randy Pausch and The Last Lecture. We are discussing the book tonight for book group and I am in charge of refreshments. I thought thin mints would be fitting (he refers to them in the book). But I think it is impossible to make a dipping chocolate with no sugar. So instead I made a mint chocolate filling.

They taste good but the texture is dry. I need to work on the recipe. To add some much needed moisture, I will serve with whipped cream. Brent called them minty dog bones. I thought that was cruel....he doesn't like chocolate or mint...I shouldn't have even offered him one. Thankfully I am also serving my Mulit Grain Granola.


The Girls Ideas for Easter

I was so excited to show the girls the ideas I was working with for their dresses. Apparently they are conceptualizing things differently.

Ellery really loves the rosebuds on the dress below. She wants it in coral, however.

Callista for some reason is in love with the dress below. Hmmm. We'll see about all of this.


Easter Dresses

2006 Easter Dress

I am ready to tackle my next project, coming on fast. Easter dresses.

2007 Easter Dresses

I love sewing for my girls. Sorry, boy things just don't do it for me. But I love ruffles, fluff and ribbons!

Ruffles Galore in the Petticoat Dresses for Easter 2007

I am currently designing the girls dresses for Easter this year. Thankfully, my mother-in-law filled in for me last year and mailed them beautiful dresses. I was interrupted mid-sewing by the early birth of little Emmy. I think that was a legitimate excuse for non-completion! She was so sweet, she knew I wanted white and found them gorgeous white dresses.

2008 Easter Dresses from Mimi

I start by scouting out dresses at all the stores. I look at gymboree, gap, and nordstroms. So far I am leaning towards a version of a dress similar to this, available at nordstroms.

I love the ruffles and soft texture of the organza. However, it is usually pretty chilly around here at Easter. I end up making these beautiful sleeveless dresses and they get covered by sweaters, or shirts underneath.
2007 Easter Dress

My goal is a dress they can wear without covering. Although 3 years ago I made little coats to go over their dresses...that is always an option.
Jackets and Hats 2006


I also really like the one below. The stiff satin and the pleated organza.

Is this one darling just because the little girl is sooo cute? I love it!

We'll see...let me know any ideas....which are your favorites?


How I Spent the Last 7 Hours

Emmett's One-Year Old Jungle Fever Birthday Cake

It was worth every single minute!

Better said....He was worth every minute of it and more!
The little angel man actually slept most of the day,
so he wasn't even neglected!

The frosting on this cake is dangerous...but the cake (3 different flavors, yellow, chocolate, and marble) passes the whole grain, no refined junk test!


Kamut and Black Bean Tacos

My mom recently got a little cookbook for me from a class she attended on cooking with whole grains. It is a collection of recipes, basically using wheat berries (steamed wheat). I've tried several of the recipes and they are quite good. The author's name is Cary Ruggles. I like to substitute either my standard whole grain mix of wheat:kamut:spelt for the added health benefits. This particular time I used kamut (kah-moot) only. I like the large hardy size of the grains.

I used my pressure cooker for this recipe. First I rinsed 3 cups of whole grains and 2 cups of dried black beans. Popped them in my pressure cooker for 30 minutes, added water and coconut oil and wah-lah! Tender beans and plump whole grain berries. This made enough I froze several quart bags to have on hand at a later time.

If you don't have a pressure cooker you can cook your wheat over night in your crock pot and used canned beans.

However you get there...the results are worth it.

Kamut and Black Bean Tacos

1 T olive oil
1/2 c onion, diced
3/4 c water
3 T taco seasoning
3 c kamut, or any combo of whole grains, berries
1 1/2 c black beans (1 can)
1 c canned or frozen corn
1/2 c black olives, sliced
1 c grape tomatoes sliced, or 1 can diced tomatoes

Saute onion in olive oil until lightly browned. Add all the remaining ingredients (except for tomatoes) and heat mixture evenly.
Mix in tomatoes and serve in freshly, fried taco shells
Top with cilantro, cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce....go crazy!

Align Left
Let's all take a moment and feel so sad for my sweet husband Brent. While he thinks the majority of my recipes are delicious, he has trouble keeping his weight up (why don't I have that problem). All these vegetarian recipes aren't as hardy as a giant steak, although he has never
been a huge eater. Poor guy. I find myself trying to think of ways to add fat and calories to the meals. I know, odd. Good thing I make him so many yummy cookies and treats too!

BTW...I went to another pressure cooker class tonight. I am very grateful for my electric pressure cooker. It is a piece of cake to use! I love it and use it at least 2x a week.


Anti-Oxidant Packed Spinach Salad

I don't think any of us can get enough of dark green vegetables and the power punches they pack. (How's that for alliteration?) Blackberries are an excellent source of vitamins and walnuts are full of the fats our bodies love...not the kind which tends to accumulate around the middle...uck!

Anti-oxidant Packed Spinach Salad

Wild greens
Feta Cheese
Maple-candied Walnuts
Granny Smith Apple
Broccoli Florets
Balsamic Vinegar

Slice apple and broccoli into bite size pieces. Toss all ingredients together and enjoy as a meal or a complement to any meal.

Because the nuts and cheese add fat and calories, I just put plain balsamic vinegar on this salad and it is delicious. But if it is too strong just use any balsamic based dressing.


Quinoa Artichoke Skillet

Quinoa Artichoke Skillet (vegetarian version with red and white quinoa)

"Keen-wah" is how you pronounce it. For a first-timer to cooking with quinoa this is your dish. It is a favorite of ours. Often I leave out the chicken and make it vegetarian. Ounce for ounce, quinoa is the highest in protein of all the grains. I appreciate that. You can use red, black or white quinoa. Actually I think the presentation is prettiest as shown in the vegetarian above with the white and red combined.

Chicken Version, with white quinoa

But to be honest my kids much prefer it with the chicken. As do most of you meat-loving people out there. My children are already corrupted! It is a holiday in our house now when they get chicken or meat....they are so excited they can hardly contain themselves.

Quinoa Artichoke Skillet


1 cup quinoa
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, chopped fine
1/2-1 c toasted slivered almonds
3 T + olive oil

Let quinoa soak for 20 minutes immersed in water. Rinse well, until water is clear. Cook as you would white rice on stove top. 1:2 ratio quinoa:water. Add a little olive oil and salt. I use my rice cooker on the white rice setting,
it makes it that much more brainless, which I need.

Saute onions and garlic in olive oil. Toast almonds. Add cooked quinoa and almonds. Cook until desired crispiness. We like ours crispy.
If it gets too dry, add some artichoke juice or olive oil.

Chicken Artichoke with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

4 cloves garlic, minced
3 T olive oil
2 large chicken breasts, cut into cubes
(in a pinch canned chicken works if you are into it)
1 can artichoke hearts, chopped
1 c sundried tomatoes, chopped

Saute garlic in olive oil. Add chicken and artichoke juice. When chicken is almost done, add artichokes. Cook until done. Add tomatoes when you serve.
Serve hot over quinoa skillet.
You can combine the two, as seen in the vegetarian picture.

Serve with Scrumptious Whole Grain Honey Cornbread and a yummy salad, like the Anti-Oxidant packed Spinach Salad.


Presidents Day

Ellery planting her "cherry tree" by the flag.

The honor and safety of our bleeding country, and every other motive that can influence the brave and heroic patriot, call loudly upon us, to acquit ourselves with spirit. In short, we must now determine to be enslaved or free. If we make freedom our choice we must obtain it by the blessing of Heaven on our united and vigorous efforts.

George Washington, August 8, 1776
as quoted in "An Enemy Hath Done This." Ezra Taft Benson

Truly God blessed and consecrated this great nation we live in today. I am inspired by the fortitude and largess of our Founding Fathers. I fear we are drifting, and lately speeding, too far from the principles upon which our country was founded. We are turning from the God which granted us this land and our freedoms.

Speaking of our freedoms, Thomas Jefferson said the following in his First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801 (as quoted in "The Elders of Israel and the Constitution" Jerome Horowitz),

With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens -- a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government.

Reagan, the Bushes, Clinton, Obama...I don't think frugal is a word we could use to describe these governments. It seems the bread we earn is taken, not just by taxes but through exorbitant government spending and the resulting inescapable burden of inflation.

So today, in our home, we honored those Presidents who fought and consecrated their lives to building not a democracy but a Constitutional Republic.

The girls and I enjoyed making "Cherry Trees" with twigs and cranberries to remind us of the honest young Washington who used his little hatchet to whack off all the bark from his father's prized tree. (Having a boy, I can just imagine how this went down!) When approached by his father, of course he fessed up his misdeeds.

Callista and Ellery especially loved singing some songs I found on the internet...

Their favorite chorus by far, sung to the tune of Yankee Doodle,

Georgie, Georgie, no, no, no.
Be careful what you do.
Hatchets can be dangerous
And you might get hurt too!

I'm pretty certain it was the "Georgies" and "no, no, no's" they loved.

We also sorted coins and tried to make crayon rubbings, but they weren't that spectacular. They were very cute in their "3 Cornered Hats" however!


Visions of Emmett

A few choice moments with Emmett in a typical day...

One hand under the rim of the toilet seat, the other grabbing the toilet paper roll. Within seconds, if I hadn't foiled his plans, the entire roll would be in a heap surrounding him with a blissful mischievous grin.

Searching for still more trouble in my bathroom.
This cupboard is full of dads beard trimming essentials. Treasures for our little seeker.

Rinsing off the griminess and goo, is Emmett's favorite part of the day. I can't keep him sitting in the bathtub. Instead he clutches precariously to the faucet.
At any given moment I am on alert for temperature and slipping fiascoes.

I look at his eyes and want to recreate that fascination and sense of engagement and rapture in the simple things in myself.
Our children teach us so many precious lessons in the most disarming ways.

I love the visceral nature of this picture. Can't you just feel the water on your hands...
it just brings me back...

I know this video is sideways, I couldn't figure out how to get it vertical. But the laughter is infectious. Emmett is now a professional at the universally adored game of all one-year-olds "Throw It On the Ground as Many Times as You Can."


Fresh Herbed Pizza Sauce

I am basking in the continual, daily harvest of fresh herbs from my Aerogarden. I love it! Yesterday I made homemade pizza sauce with fresh basil and oregano. It was fantastic.

Homemade Fresh Herbed Pizza Sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 T olive oil
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
2 T fresh basil
1 T fresh oregano

Saute garlic in olive oil until tender, not brown. Add tomatoes and paste. Add torn fresh herbs. Simmer for 5 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender.

I put this sauce on a yummy whole grain, wheat germ crust. We topped it with mozzarella, cheddar, and Parmesan cheeses (of course in keeping with our vegetarian themed year).

I also added fresh dill to our tuna sandwiches for lunch. Last night I snuggled in with a fresh mint herbal tea. (Still living with no microwave, btw. Herbal tea has to replace my warm rice bag.)


A Will and a Trust

The next several months Brent and I have the opportunity for some unique time alone. In April, we are headed to the East Coast for 5 days, in celebration of our 10 year anniversary.

June will find us lounging on the beaches of Hawaii with Ellery and the rest of Brent's family. In honor of my mother-in-laws 60th birthday.

I approach these trips with excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately there is a dark side to all of this. Our plane could run into a flock of seagulls and not have as heroic of a pilot, or a random piece of space junk from exploding satellites could fall out of orbit and into our plane.

I think we are avoiding the Bermuda triangle, but there are some odd people in NYC and some really tall towers. Who knows.

With this in mind we are revisiting our wills and setting up a trust. Previously, we had used an online site to help us build our wills. This worked decent, except we received them and never got around to notarizing them for the entire year. In light of that we decided to work with a flesh and blood lawyer. Really, sometimes it is just nice to have a warm body to fire questions at. Also we decided to set up a trust, which we currently do not have.

We don't have the final costs yet but it will be between $300-400. A small price for peace of mind.

A trust allows us more flexibility and the ability to bequeath our estate to our children under 18 years of age. If we had only a will a probate court would be making the decisions. This could take years, and we can only hope for the best. Not good enough.

Who will replace me?

It is hard to think of who will replace me as a mother. Who will replace Brent as a father. Thankfully I have an incredible older sister. A sister who despite her own five children running around, always finds time to hold my babies. And when she holds them it isn't void of feeling, instead it is with love and affection. A brother-in-law who is a spiritual leader, a provider, frugal and honest. My blessings are measured in the bushels and not stalks!

My good sister never batted an eye when I asked her if she would take my children. In fact, in a hopefully non prescient fashion, she told me she was prepared for the call. Just that morning she was thinking of my children, and to offer herself as a guardian. Do you think I should stay home...my goodness!

I even inserted a line that I want a portion of my trust to be allocated to house cleaning, laundry and cooking help for my childrens' guardians. It is a lot of work to try and raise all those children. No one will have to feel guilty for taking money out so a mother can be a mother! Not that I want my children to be pampered...on the contrary I want them to work and cook. But it is important to me some of the burden be lifted of the mundane tasks.

Part of self-reliance is having our affairs in order. This is just one more step. We seek not to be a burden on anyone, in life or death. So if the inopportune stray space trash happens upon us, our children will be cared for.


Millet Flour

Millet flour is disgusting in cookies. Imagine chewing a giant piece of yellow chalk laced with bird seed.


We've all Taken to the Army Crawl!

Imagine billowing smoke, flames leaping out in all directions. These girls would be prepared! (Although as I sit here and write this and look at Ellery's jammies, somehow they don't strike me as very flame resistant.)
With Emmett as our inspiration, tonight we taught the girls the finer aspects of fire safety. They proved to be professional "army crawlers." Apparently they have been paying fastidious attention to their little brother for the past FIVE MONTHS of commando crawling. Aren't they supposed to grow out of that?

I loved the opportune timing of our power flickering on and off as we had this family lesson on what to do in emergencies tonight. Brent and I have been taking a Community Emergency Response Training (CERT) course for the past 2 months. It has been marginal. In fact, the last meeting I went to I got the eerie feeling it was enabling some rather odd power hungry citizens. It almost felt like a citizen army was being raised as people talked about commandeering vehicles and creating day cares for children so their parents could go rescue. My text to Brent during this

"We need our own shelter ."

Preferably one the crazy vigilante CERT teams don't know about! I applaud preparedness. Brent and I are probably even a bit obsessive about being prepared. But even a little power can sometimes corrupt people. Such was my premonition in CERT class.