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.


Soaked Buckwheat Breakfast Cereal

Here is a raw version of breakfast cereal I picked up at my class. Emmett and I love it. The rest of the family are not huge friends. Brent and Callista will eat it but ask for the mulitgrain hot cereal.

Raw Buckwheat and Goji Berry Breakfast Cereal

Soak 2 cups hulled, organic buckwheat and 1/4 cup dried goji berries overnight. You may want to rinse a few times. In the morning some fruit and sweetener of your choice. We like raisins, strawberries and pure maple syrup. Top with almond milk.

I have to confess...I do warm it up a bit. It just tastes so much better.


A New Coop for the Chicks

For 6 weeks I struggled at designing the perfect little coop for our chicks. I scoured the classifieds, local farm stores, and online designs. The trick was finding something which looked decent, blended in with our yard, and fit our budget. People are really selling coops that are nicer than my house, and they cost over a thousand dollars. Not for us.
Finally, last week we had a fortuitous find. A local carpenter was selling a partly finished coop for $50. Now that was my style! Brent picked it up and within a couple days our charming chicks have some fancy new digs.

We added the door, nesting box, roosts, roof, ladder, and then stained the entire coop. The final results are great. When the hens start laying we will add an additional door that accesses the nesting box, so the kids can help collect the eggs.

It is actually a bit larger than I planned and could fit up to 12 hens I think. But it still sits below th,e fence line, which was important to us. I went out to snap a photo tonight of the little gals in their new coop and this is what I found.

Heartless, cruel chick owner comes to mind. The poor little things all huddled together in the corner. Maybe they aren't quite as grown up as I thought.
Brent and I went to the garage and brought the brooder out to the coop. We set it next to the coop and put the little chicks inside with a blanket over top. Hopefully they will sleep more peacefully now.
Today I caught them enjoying a dust bath together by the fence.

How is it having backyard chickens you wonder? So far so good. I would estimate over half our backyard is quite "wild and wooded." The chicks have a hay day scratching around at rotten fruit under the apple and peach trees or foraging for bugs and other miscellaneous treats. They tend to stay in the woodchips as does their little chicken poop. If ever I catch them in my strawberries or garden they get a quick spray with hose or chase from the kids.

The chicks spend the entire day outside. From 7 am until 7 pm. I noticed today they went into their coop a couple times for water and some easy grub. So far we haven't felt a need to build a run. They are not a nuisance at all. I may change my tune later. We'll see.


Spudman 2009

I will not be posting yet more pictures of myself in my lavender and gray triathlon outfit. I think we have all seen enough of those....But the race turned out far better than I anticipated!

We brought the whole family up to Idaho for the first time for this race. We splurged with a stay at the local Marriott. The kids had a blast swimming until all hours of the night. We also spent a great evening at Brent's friend Ryan's childhood home in Burley.
The girls demonstrated exemplary bravery in barreling down this "slide" into the Snake River. They couldn't get enough of it. Ellery even flew on the rope swing into the river.
Goo Bear was happy as a clam with his father on a jet ski. He even took a spin with me. Their private dock and play area was wonderful for the kids. We had a great time. Thanks Ryan!

So...about the race. Back in January I set some fitness goals for myself. For the Spudman I wanted to conquer my fear of the open water swim and achieve a PR. Proud to say....Mission Accomplished! In fact, with flying colors.

This is the best I felt about a race since the St George Marathon last October.

Here is the breakdown...

Prepping for the Swim

The day before I decided to jump in the river and swim a portion of the course with my wetsuit. I am glad I did. Just looking at the water flooded me with a wave of fear, reminiscent of last year. Read about it here. After a couple minutes of swimming and breathing I was under control. I spent about 20 minutes in the water floating around...dragging Ellery on my feet, fighting the current to come back upstream. I also tried to find the current. My friend Desiree (a former river guide) gave me a great tip. Look for the bubbles on top of the water. There you will find the current. It worked! Finally I felt confident.

My nerves were definitely on notice but I wasn't cold this year and that made a huge difference. I swam the entire course without a single pause for breathing or navigation. I did lose the current for 6 or 7 minutes but finally found it again. I ended up shaving 2 minutes off my swim time......16:58.

Transition 1: Wow I wish I had a Picture!

As I rushed out of the water, I pulled my wet suit top over my head (I am a force to be reckoned with in "The Black Pearl" you are laughing at this comment if you have seen me in "the black pearl") and it got stuck. Of course being the competitive idiot that I am I continue running blinded by the black pearl...and head straight into the fence.

Now this, I really wish I had a picture of. The race official was concerned and started trying to see if I was okay... thankfully the adrenaline was pumping and I finally just kept running. Now I have the bruises, cut and swollen elbow as proof though. Miraculously, I only added 3 seconds to my transition time from last year.....2:26.

The Bike

The bike course was pretty brutal. After 5 miles I thought to myself "I have 20 more to go." Thankfully there was an ultra tall girl just beyond me and I pumped my guts out the whole time to try and keep up with her. Unfortunately, I got a snazzy new bike this year (that part is fortunate) and my rear end does not love my expensive new seat. Maybe it is too big (my rear that is)? My muscles were very tight. I came in at 1:09.24 thirty seconds faster than last year. This was a huge disappointment to me until I learned the course was actually over a mile longer than last year! They had to make a last minute change to the course because of gravel.

The Run

Most excrutiating of course was the run. I'm sure it is because of the fatigue. I was aiming for 7 minute miles, I came in slower than that at 46:35. I was frustrated most of the run, trying to push my body but it wouldn't go. I crossed the finish line and ended up collapsing again. Sigh...memories of Ogden. My legs were so exhausted I couldn't hold myself up. There is something invigorating about having nothing left in you at the end of a race. After just a few minutes I was fine. For all my frustration my time over 2 minutes faster than last year. I passed a bunch of women and hoards of men on the run. There was one woman who sailed past me. She came in at 4o minutes. Wow.

Overall Finish

My overall time... 2:16. Five minutes faster than last year on an average 3 minute longer course. I'm counting this as an 8 minute PR.

My overall finish was the 13th woman. Up from 23rd last year. This year I was only 6:15 seconds off the winner. Last year I was 17 minutes off. Not a bad showing.

I also won a random bag of really cool prizes. I don't know how, but a semi-odd, rather homely looking race official just gave it to me. Tires, wireless bike computer, specialized jersey...nice stuff.

On second thought...this is a brutally long post without pictures. Probably some pics in the lavender duds would have helped.


Almond Milk...What am I, Nuts?

My first can of worms I am attempting to tackle is dairy. In some ways this is easy. But in many ways it is hard. I am not a dairy person. About 4 years ago, I cut out most dairy. My children don't drink a ton of milk but they love cheese. "Cheese worms" (grated cheese) are a daily favorite. So this will be a bit of a transition. I'm starting with the easy first. Milk. We are now going on 3 straight weeks of almond milk. (Brent did protest last week and bought a gallon of milk...but the kids are milk-free.)

How to Make your Own Almond Milk

Soak 2 cups of almonds for 48 hours in spring water (or as pure as you have access to) I like to change the water a few times...it gets kind of grimy. Also I store all my nuts in the freezer and they last forever.

Pour almonds into blender. Add 6 cups fresh water. I do it in 2 batches as I am not yet blessed with a large vitamixer. I love my bosch and it does the trick. Blend for a couple minutes until smooth.

Pour into a cotton bag. This is one is organic cotton I bought from my seminar. It would have been a piece of cake to make too. But for a few dollars I bought it.

Squeeze milk out into bowl until only pulp is left. Save the pulp in the freezer for toppings and other treats or crackers.

Some people like to add salt and a sweetener like agave. I decided we like ours plain. This tastes delicious on our multigrain hot cereal and in smoothies. It makes 2 quarts, and we have found it to be the perfect amount for our family for a week.
Give it a shot. Think of it this way. Why do we humans insist on nursing from a cow? Cows milk is designed to turn a tiny calf into a 1 ton heffer in mere months. Is that really what you want? Heffer in months?

On a personal note...this is close to my heart because of the struggle with Ellery and Emmett. I don't remember if I have posted this before but to the best of our research and years of investigations with countless doctors, we believe they have a genetic condition called primary ciliary dyskinesia. Basically the cilia in their body is malformed and cannot move mucous through.

The symptoms this would explain include the struggles they had at birth, the constant, unchanging, never ending flow of mucous from all possible outlets, the ears, the constant, unchanging, bronchitis cough...just to name a few. It hangs over me to try and rid their little bodies of as much mucous as possible, since they can't do so themselves. However to cleanse the body of all the excess requires a raw, vegan diet. Sigh...this is a huge hat to put on small children. I'm not sure where I am being led yet.


Uncle D's Boat

Here are some pictures of a great afternoon spent on my brother's new boat. He is single, owns a home, a boat. a bachelors and a masters degree. On top of all that he is cute. And single.

Did I mention he is single? If you know any cute 20 something girls, let me know. Thanks for a great afternoon Derald.
The highlight had to be Emmett. He relaxed like boating was old hat. Too cool for all of it. For 3 hours he reclined in the corner, munched on some oatmeal cookies, sucked on his nukie (pacifier), and on occasion tossed the nuk overboard and attempted to tumble headfirst after it as it floated away.
The only time he cried was when we attempted to extract him from the tube with his father.
Cousin Elizabeth spent a few days with us this week. She was a little unsure of the boating, but still had a great time.


A Little House on the Prairie Moment

I could just hear the music in my head as I watched Ellery, Callista and Elizabeth race across the fields from Grandma's to Charlotte's. My sister just moved down the hill from my mom into an amazing family house on 4 acres. A collapsed housing market does have its upsides.

The girls running down to Charlotte's, her house is right past the line of trees.

After spending the weekend on 10 acres at the Full Circle Ranch...Brent looked at me last night as we sat on the deck in our backyard and said "It's almost as if we are in a little cage...our own little brooder, and like the chicks, trying desperately to get out." We had a chuckle together on our "Two Tenths of a Circle Ranch."

The idyllic scene depicted above was soon interrupted by 2 large bounding dogs charging full speed ahead out of the neighbors house. This is Callista panicking and trying to wade through the weeds to safety. They are friendly dogs but it certainly makes my heart plummet. Being the victim of a dog attack, you are never quite the same.


Loving the 1990 Jet Ski

I'm not really sure what to say about this. But yes, this is Brent with his jetski in my sisters 18'' deep pond. Why could we get it to work in the pond and not the lake?


12 Hours and the Opening of 5 Cans of Worms

Sometimes knowledge can almost feel like a curse. Curse is probably not the right word, instead a burden. Burden might not be precisely right either. Daunting. Responsibility. Action. I guess knowledge can bring a slue of emotions.

Saturday I attended a 12 hour class at Agi's Raw Foods. Agi is famous for her marvelous flax crackers found at Whole Foods and health food stores nationwide. Her bag of tricks is full of flavorful raw food recipes.

Wondering about those worm cans...

Raw Foods...this one I peep open every so often, but this really opened it wide! The almond milk I made this week has been our new best friend.

Wheatgrass...I am just dying to get my house covered in wheatgrass and with my children taking shots every morning, but since my thumb is anything but green...this should be an adventure.

Dairy...did I really want to know how horrid this was....sigh...

Cleansing...I wonder how many days I could live on apple juice? How many pounds of disgusting slime are in my colon? And more importantly Brent's (colon cancer is a beast I don't want my husband to face).

Herbal Medicine...why did I try to kill all the dandelions in my yard? Cant I find some use for the clover so voraciously beating out my grass? Joking aside, this was absolutely fascinating to me. Botany 101 and 105 came flooding back. My moldy leaf collection. I can still smell it. I am prepared to learn.

Curse...didn't I already have enough going on in my life? Thankfully I don't even really attempt to leave my house after 8 am.

Burden...there are so many worms in these cans, I see them slithering everywhere in my pantry and I really think I felt some in me. Additionally there is sifting which needs to be done. More research to take those parts with fit with my family, religion, values, and resources.

Daunting...I think I ordered over 200 herbal identification cards. Can I really get something to grow. Maybe as long as it isn't a raspberry, bean, strawberry, squash, cucumber, tomato or brocolli. My garden is really struggling this year...sigh...

Responsibility...now that I know a little, I better start to learn alot.

Action...what good is knowledge without action. It is great to know there are herbs that will bring down my little childs fever, but if that herb is not available, and I am clueless in how to prepare and apply, it is of naught.

Be prepared for some crazy adventures ahead!


Switching to State Farm

You may remember my post awhile back after I was aghast about rate hikes at All State. My agent was able to save me a lot of money by reworking my policies. Except...now I really have the best agent and company.

David Misiego (801) 373-7193 and State Farm.

Not only did he allow us to save hundreds of dollars he also provided us with better policies. We switched both our cars and homeowners insurance. Our home is actually covered for 20% above what it was, and we finally have Earthquake insurance(something I have been wanting for about 3 years).

Since I am basically home bound with my 3 little ones (kids, not chicks) he even came over to my house to do everything. Where do you get that kind of service anymore?

David does his research is honest and just plain nice to work with. I have known him for over 6 years. He married one of my best and oldest friends Britney.

My advice...call him up and at least let him give you a quote. This is not a paid advertisement :) just a shameless plug for great service and rates.


More Wiping!?

As if I didn't wipe enough bums already, now I have chick bums to wipe!

Brent was adamant I not post about our chick bums. It is too gross. I disagree. If you are interested in backyard chicks you better know how to wipe their bums the first week of life. And plus no Mom is uncomfortable with a dirty bum.

Here is Naomi's Bum Looking Fluffy and Clean

Poor little Naomi has been "pasting up". Her excrement builds up an cakes in place. It can be a deadly condition for little chicks. Their bums need to be cleared as soon as possible. So Pip and I spent 10 minutes with wet, warm paper towels wiping down our little chick bum until she could poop unobstructed.

Further episodes have required a little toothpick.

I would like to think none of my children have ever "pasted up"...but I admit every once in a while, on one of my not-so-great days I have had a child's bum pretty caked.


3 Happy Healthy Chicks Hooray!

Nervous wreck. Like a new mom. The aforementioned describe my anxious anticipation for the safe arrival of my little chicks. I brought my phone on my run, perchance the post office might call while I was gone. I walked in the door. My phone ran. "We have peeping package with your name on it!"

The girls were just rolling out of bed. We piled into the car, as we were to get our chicks. I really wanted to ride a bike with a basket...but I refrained.

Ellery and Callista could hardly contain themselves as we waited for our little package.
Apparently, it is quite common for even our little suburban post office to get chicks in the mail.
Who knew?
Pips delight is evident in holding this chirping, wriggling box as we drove home.

I drew a huge breath of relief as we opened the box to 3 noisy, little darlings.

Naomi, Anna (slight name change) and Miriam

I wish I could have captured the delight. But alas, I am not very adept at photography. Emmett was beside himself. We put the chickies in their brooder and helped them find their food and water.
They have been happily pecking ever since. In fact, they were so cute scratching all around I went to IFA and bought some pine shavings to put in the bottom of the brooder for them.

More pics to follow!


Brooder for the Baby Chicks

Ready and waiting. We have the brooder for the chicks all prepped and even warmed up. I hope the little chicks are okay after their journey. We borrowed all this wonderful equipment from our friends the owners of Benjamin Farms. The 250 watt red heat lamp will keep the chicks at a toasty 95 degrees for their first week. We will then cool it down each week by 5 degrees until they "feather out" and are ready for the coop and yard.

Apparently chicks are quite good jumpers and flyers. Hence the lid. I am still working on making them a little perch. We opted to keep our brooder in the garage. Some do it in the house, but that doesn't work for me.

Ellery and Callista and friends decorated our welcome home sign. These little chicks will certainly be loved, I hope none start crowing in 6 weeks!

The Chicks are...Still...Coming...

My little chicks are still en route. I am a bit worried. The journey can be arduous for the little hatchlings and ours now have 2 days instead of one. We'll spend the day prepping for Miriam, Naomi, and Hannah to arrive early tomorrow morning. I called the post office and they told me the moment they hear the peeping they'll call.

We ordered an australorp, easter egger, and plymouth barred rock. All known for their great dispositions and egg laying abilities.


The Chicks are Coming, The Chicks are Coming!

Last night I ordered 3 baby chicks. I know. Crazy woman on .2 acres trying to have a farm. I don't have any spare minutes as tonight I returned from a fabulous mountain biking date with my husband and had an email that my chicks would be arriving TOMORROW! When I ordered it said the next hatching was July 13th. Wow. We are scrambling to get ready for our new little ones. I'll post some pictures tomorrow. I was told they will probably arrive at 6 am. Yikes. I don't have food or heat...I had better get cracking.


72 Hour Kits for Young Families: Packing for Children

In my opinion, some of the best things you can pack for children are the exceedingly comforting and novel.

Activities and Toys: Coloring books, crayons, stuffed animal, hair ribbons and rubber bands, and books. The play dough is novel and illegal at all times in our house. So this is huge treat. Callista kept trying to sneak off with it all day as I had the kits out.

Clothing: I pack 3 sets of clothing. Clothing that can be slept in or worn. I have a pair of heavy sweats for each child, light weight thermals, and an athletic outfit. Everything is about 2 sizes too big. Plenty of room to grow but easy to roll.

I also include a pair of sturdy shoes. I try desperately to stay away from "light-ups" on a regular basis but think they are brilliant for the kits.

I pack 9 diapers and a whole pack of wipees. The girls have 3 changes of underwear and socks and toothbrushes.

Protection: Each child has a whistle on a string, small flashlight, glowstick, rain poncho, security blanket, and 6 hand warmers. We also have 1 mini foghorn. (When I was teaching school one of my students gave me one of these. Sometimes I really felt like giving it a nice long blow!)

They also have a copy of their passports and birth certificates in their bag.

Did I forget anything?

We carry the medical equipment, cash, and other documents in Brent and I's bags. I will post about those later.


72 Hour Kits for Young Families: What Food to Pack

Here are the Finished Products...Stay posted over the Next Week to Learn About Everything Inside!!

Every 6-12 months or so I try to refresh the food in our 72 hour kits. My purpose in this post is to inspire you to put together 72 hour kits for your family, if you haven't done so yet. Especially if you have little children. Think of your children little faces, hungry and tear-stained, cold and wet. When we become parents we make a solemn commitment to protect and care for these little ones. Moms must be prepared for all circumstances.

It takes effort and a financial investment but it is ridiculous to not make this a priority. We built ours up over the course of several years to meet our needs. This is part one of three. First we'll talk food. Here is what we've got.

Preparing Food for 72 Hour Kits
It is important to remember to include things your family is accustomed to eating. And also some comfort foods for your children. For mine, it is their vitamins, pretzels and fruit leather.

While we don't eat prepared food usually, I have found from experience, the preservatives are helpful in this situation. My homemade energy bars were rock hard in just a couple months. The store bought versions last infinitely longer.

3 Days worth of food for everyone. Organized by meals/days/family member.
Breakfast: 3/4 c raw oatmeal, 2 xylitol packets, 1 box raisens, vitamins**
Lunch: Beef Jerky, 2 fruit leather, pretzels
Dinner:Tuna kit, Annies crackers, hot chocolate mix (xylitol, powdered milk, and cocoa powder), 1 box cranberries

Day 2
Breakfast:Energy trail mix, 1 box Juicy Juice, vitamins
Lunch: 2 cliff z bars, trail mix
Dinner: Soup in flip top cans, Annie's crackers, 2 fruit leather

Day 3
Breakfast:Vegan Granola Bars, 1 box raisens,
Lunch: beef jerkey, trail mix, pretzels
Dinner:Tuna kit, Annies crackers, 2 fruit leather

We also have lots of bubble and chewing gum.

That is the jist of the menu. The children each have 2 water bottles per day. Brent and I have 3 per day. We also have 2 filtering water bottles.

For heating water we have an Alco-Bright stove. A great indoor/outdoor survival stove with 10,000 BTU of heat.

**My kids day would not be complete without their daily fix of gummy vitamins. One multi, one omega, and one calcium. It is their little indulgence for the day. They roll out of bed and start asking for them.

The idea is to include nutrient dense food which is simple to prepare and lasts a long time. We also have 3 days worth of MRE food bars, 1200 calories a piece. If we got really hungry these would be helpful, or in the case of needing to help others or a longer duration without access to food.

The food cost me about $80 shopping at both Target and Costco. I had a bunch left over, which I bagged and put in each of our cars. I buy organic, premium foods. You can do it for less if you sacrifice quality. I don't recommend it. How could I ever reccommend high fructose corn syrup and msg?

And PLEASE!!! if you have better ideas, let me know. I can be dense. But I am like a sponge too. I love to soak up new information.