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.


Visions of Halloween

It's Halloween....Testing out a little witches brew...
The wagon was not nearly fast enough for Ellery. She raced from house to house certain the candy would be gone if she didn't get there before everyone else!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel...let down your long golden hair.
This dress I made a couple years ago for Ellery. It was ridiculously expensive to make, covered in glittered organza, iridescent sequins and fur trim...I was determined the dress must be used multiple times. Thankfully Callista loved it.
Meow! I took the easy way out this year with Em. He was the cat again. Why is it that he is 20 months and fits in a 9 month costume? It is so darn cute though.May the force be with you. Ellery's costume only took a couple hours to make. A nice break from cat costumes and ultra fancy princesses. But it sure turned out cute. She was the most beautiful Leia around, that's for sure.
Somehow I picked up this hunky scoundrel along the way. So moonstruck and romantic. Not sure what he is dressed as?
Imagine my luck. I always thought it would come back to bite me how my parents didn't pay for dental work...
but brent saw through all that. My son still has a difficult time. Who is this woman holding my hand, and where is my mother?
I will finish my spinach so I can eat the negotiated 4 pieces of candy.

We get stricter each year. The girls however have been talking about making their candy turkeys for a full year however so they are thrilled to save the candy to decorate!

I did stay true to our principles and handed out pencils and stickers this year instead of candy. We only had just a few trick-or-treaters however. Where was everyone? It was a gorgeous evening. Hmm? Happy Halloween to all!


Pickin' Up Punkins Puttin' 'em in Yer Pocket

It's Pumpkin Time.... Here are some shots of our pumpkin adventures this year...

Of course Ellery's pumpkin had eyelashes...what right girl pumpkin would be found without them?

Pippy was certain her's turned out "very scary!"

Boo bear kept lunging for the knife...maybe next year big guy.

Trick or Treat, if you dare!


Chocolate Agave Cupcake Recipe

Ellery claimed these were the best things I have ever made. I don't think I would go that far but they were yummy!

Chocolate Agave Cupcakes

3/4 c apple sauce
1/2 c olive oil
1 c agave nectar or alternative sweetener of your choice
4 T ground golden flax
3 t pure vanilla extract
2 c whole grain flour
1 t baking soda
1 t baking powder
1/2 t real salt
2/3 c baking cocoa

Combine wet ingredients. Add dry. Stir as little as possible. Pour into baking cups, or if you want to make cookies, refrigerate dough until firm. Then roll out cookies. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-25 minutes.

To make the apples monster mouths use slivered almonds and fruit leather.

Spooky Halloween Food

We had a great halloween party at my aunt and uncles house. Here is what I brought.

A spooky hummus grave yard...

And these apple monster mouth cup cake toppers. The cup cakes were a yummy chocolate creation.

My cousin's girl friend made these cupcakes and fingers. I thought they were cute. Gross, especially those peanut butter fingers! But cute.


Tis the Season for...

Pipe Ruptures.

Yet another pipe bursts. This one has actually been a slow leak from our kitchen sink, saturating our basement. Lovely. It's not just water down the drain but buckets of fiat money as well. Ughh.


"Smoke By Day"

Ellery is going to be Princess Leia for Halloween. All though she has never seen star wars, she is fully aware of the characters. She desperately wanted to be Leia for Halloween but the Princess Leia dress was not nearly fancy enough. (In a week you will see our version of Leia) All this talk about star wars has trickled into her art. Hence, most recent drawings contain "cute girls" with the iconic buns. I think in our house we burn through a ream of paper in a couple weeks flat. My children are prolific artists. I am constantly fascinated about what they pick up and how it comes out in what they draw.

We just finished reading The Hundred Dresses. A wonderful book about kindness and the consequences of our actions. It also includes a "Dress Drawing" contest. This clearly resonated with Ellery and Callista. We had our own contest designing dresses. This morning Ellery was taking me through probably 25 drawings. When she came to the drawing below, I was clearly confused. She didn't skip a beat....
"And this one is a cloud of smoke by day." I got quite a chuckle at the Mosaic imagery she so naturally threw in amongst her drawings of a hundred dresses! At least she is picking up on things besides Star Wars.


The Great Chicken Rescue...Or Being a Chicken in My Backyard

2 Little Hens Chased up a Tree

The Story begins...

Adored. Abhorred.

Here is a snapshot of life if you just happen to be one of our backyard chickens.
You will most likely spend the majority of the day ravaging Rebecca's already meager garden.
But in case the tomatoes, comfrey, kale, broccoli, swiss chard, beets, strawberries and raspberries weren't enough...Dejected, you may try to nibble on the mounds of rotting fruit all the backyard chicken sites insisted you loved to devour.
You will then make your way to the deck. Leaving a highly incriminating trail of evidence behind you. Waiting for the single moment when the stars align, Emmett has recently eaten, Rebecca has yet to sweep the floor, the french doors are open, leaving the kitchen floor precariously exposed. In you hop for a free lunch. But your quiet little "ba gocking" gives you away. In a panic you run out of the kitchen and flee to your coop with Rebecca screaming and waving any sort of threatening object she might have in her hand at that particular moment.

...to my little hens' credit, I couldn't find a single poop on the deck today to snap a photo of, for your enjoyment. But I am in no way complaining!

The lazy part of your day comes to a rearing halt. Enter the children. Chased and molested you seek cover in the rose bushes or if you are lucky, under the deck....

But more times than not, if Ellery is around you are reigned in by your tail feathers into a tight but extremely adoring strangle hold.

You are then passed around and poked and prodded until you finally give up the struggle.
On a lucky day you are even matching Ellery in your feathered dress...
Then in a time honored tradition, known to farmers for centuries you are hypnotized.
Left entranced. Ready bait...

...For this. A make-shift chicken playhouse. The windows and doors darkened by blankets and pillows.

But can you complain when you are trapped with these two cute little cousins?
Desperate to escape, you might try something daring and dangerous. On this day you hop your way up the tree house. Starting at ground level, higher and higher you go, pushed forward by the mortal fear of all those children waiting below...
Until finally you and your little partner in crime have perched yourselves 25 ft up the tree. You huddle together for hours, oblivious of the rescue ladder so carefully and lovingly placed by Brent.
So you huddle together, roosted and clueless.
As dawn breaks, Ellery runs out, panicked. Finally you decide after a long night, you probably should come down to torment Rebecca for another day. So you deftly hop back down the tree, into the top story, bottom story, and into your coop.

Long sigh.... it is good to be a chicken in Rebecca's backyard.



my cup runneth o'er**

I feel I better make a post note here. I know people who have benefited greatly from prescription anti-depressants. I think they can be an especially valuable tool in the short term. I didn't mean to make any value judgements. I just wonder if maybe the medical community is too quick to medicate instead of exploring other options with their patients. I just hope those using these medications or abusing them, are seeking solutions in their lifestyle as well.

From the Mouth of a Pharmaceutical Rep...

A friend just dropped me an interesting email. She is a former pharmaceutical rep. and prozac was one of her drugs. She said her team had several Utah reps. The Utah drs. would write "upwards of 40-50 scripts a day" while other drs. averaged around 15-20. Maybe it is the culture of the doctors that is the problem.

Then another issue, maybe it isn't the housewives that are the problem either. Is it our children abusing the medication? What then as parents are we missing? How do I help my children escape the trap?

Reminiscing About High School...

Growing up in an area with very few other young people who shared my values, sticking out like a sore thumb seems an apt simile. I remember one friend referred to me as "The Mighty Mormon Power-Ranger." I made it clear early in high school what I would and would not participate in. And, I have to hand it to my peers, they were extremely respectful. I didn't have a lot of pressure.

That being said...I also didn't put myself in a position to be around my friends when they were partying. I spent many quiet weekend nights as a result. In fact, I was often lonely although I was superficially surrounded by a lot of friends. I did have a couple dear friends with whom I connect on a more visceral level at different periods during high school. But that was the exception. Not the rule.

College Recollections...

Coming to Utah for college it started out as one giant "goody-goody" party. I was on cloud nine. What I came to realize however...is that while on the "big" things everyones values aligned, on so many little things we ran the gamut. Unlike my high school friends, many people I encountered in college were not supportive of my choices. We were all supposed to be the "same" and yet I was different. "What made me think I was better?" was the insinuation. I didn't feel better than anyone. Just different. My life circumstances put me in a different position with different challenges and expectations.

In many ways it was more difficult.

Thoughts on the Here and Now...

The danger of following the crowd is far greater in an area where everyone is supposed to share the similar values. I anticipate my children will feel some of the same pangs of loneliness I did growing up. The pressure may even be greater for them. In an area of diversity, my friends expected me to be different. With a homogenous culture everyone is expected to be the same.

Things don't really change as adults. I feel different from most people. Not better. Just different. I'm probably wandering around aimlessly in left field. But at least I'm not wandering alone anymore! I have my wonderful husband. No matter how weird I get, he is right there next to me being weird too. Wheeww. Thankfully loneliness isn't even an option anymore. If Brent isn't around I have my wee little babes. Enough and more for me.

My cup runneth over
**The little boo bear took a tumble from the "troll bridge" on the tree house. Poor little guy!


Headline: Utah Leads the Nation...

...In Prescription Pain Medication Abuse.

This afternoon I walked on my quiet street, to my quiet mailbox and found my community newsletter. This was the glaring headline. It is so troubling to me. I also often hear Utah is number one in anti-depressant use. Why? What is going in on in our homes, communities, and I dare say culture, that feeds this?

possible food for thought...but based on nothing

our eating habits. too much sugar. too much refined everything. busy moms making "busy mom day" meals from boxes and cans

not enough exercise. too many episodes of the office, oprah or
whatever is deemed relaxation tv

lots of postpartum from lots of babies

looking outside of family for validation

trying to be moderate in all things...but forgetting we don't need to include everything, isn't it okay to eliminates some things instead of moderate, when we are trying to sift through good, better and best

not enough TLC with hubby, i'll keep this g-rated, but it bears mentioning i think, whoa take a deep breath

I really don't know. I just never want to add to anyone's problems. If you get depressed reading my blog, please stop reading. In all seriousness. I don't try to be depressing. Instead I just try to share the things I'm doing and my family is doing, as a family record, but also to share ideas.

You can see I do a great deal of gear shifting. I learn. I change. I learn some more. Change some more. Try. Fail. Try. Succeed. Try. Fail again.

When I taught school, I found some teachers were so possessive of their lesson plans and good ideas. I never understood that. I spent hours developing curriculum and tried to share it with anyone and everyone who was interested. Not because I thought I was an amazing teacher, only because I wanted others to benefit from my efforts.

I guess that explains a lot of my blog too. I don't blog because I think I am better or an amazing mother but only to offer up some of the little gems I find to others to take or leave.

If I can help someone be a little better by sharing the things I learn...that matters to me.


Into the Missionary Training Center

She made it! An awkward Friday...a couple days late...well a couple plus six weeks late...but she is there and she will be a better missionary because of these fews weeks and days.

Monica is ready to serve the Lord. Doesn't she look beautiful?

What a great example for my children.

All growing up I was adamant I would serve a mission the day I turned 21. Nothing was going to stop me from serving the Lord in this way. That is until Brent. He turned all my plans upside down. And while I believe I would have been a great missionary, I also turned out to be a pretty okay wife. And I am trying hard to be a pretty okay mom.

The Lord's dictates to women to serve missions are a bit different than men. It is not a responsibility. Instead a worthy option and opportunity. When presented with an eternity with my sweet Brent, the choice was easy. But clearly a paradigm shift. In fact, it was extremely difficult for my parents. The shift was not smooth or clear for them. Muddy, rocky and difficult would all be words I would use to describe their reaction to my relationship with Brent at the tender age of 19 and 20 years old!

In 25 years you'll find Brent and I serving our guts out somewhere in the world to move the gospel of Jesus Christ forward. NYC, Cambodia...who knows, pins and needles until :)


Alone on the Road

Wednesday October 7

Me: Hey Monica...did you find a place to live yet?
Monica: No.
Me: What are you going to do? Are you headed to Italy? laughing
Monica: Actually...yes.
Me: What!!! When??? Hooray!!! lots of screams and exulting
Monica: Maybe Friday.
Me: As in 2 days?

Rewind.....Mid April

Letter reads "Monica...you are called to serve in the Catania Italy mission. Italian speaking. Report to the MTC August 26th." lots of tears and exultations while video skyping...monica in Spain on a study abroad

Mid Augustish

Me: Hey, how was your weekend.
Monica: Great. thick with sarcasm A guy I have been waiting to ask me out, for forever finally did. It was amazing.
Me: Oh. hesitant and heartfelt

August 23rd...Mission Farewell

Monica in turmoil. Parents in turmoil. Monica infatuated. Boyfriend equally infatuated. Church leaders counsel to wait. Gives farewell talk at church. Luncheon at house. Awkward.

August 25th

Monica defers her mission. Announces she is moving to DC to see if this relationship is progressing.

August 28th

Parents pack up their baby girl and send her across the country instead of across the world. Probably there is more spaghetti in DC anyways.


Sporadic, suspicious and sparse communication btw all parties. What is going out there in DC?
More questions than answers. Lots of prayers.

September 29

Monica's coming home. She wants nothing to do with the relationship. She still doesn't think she will serve a mission. 2 days later she is home.

Monday October 5th

Monica in Provo looking for housing.

Fast Forward...

Wednesday October 7

Me: Hey Monica...did you find a place to live yet?
Monica: No.
Me: What are you going to do? Are you headed to Italy? laughing
Monica: Actually...yes.
Me: What!!! When??? Hooray!!! lots of screams and exulting
Monica: Maybe Friday.
Me: As in 2 days?

Thursday October 8th

Me taking a dangerous self-portrait, while driving alone. Yes alone. The first time in 6 years I took a trip without someone in my family to take care of. Yes that means I take care of my husband too. It was an odd sensation. Arriving at my Mom and Dad's and not unpacking anyone or anything... And so began our "Girls Night."

3 Sisters, One Mom and hundreds of clothes to sort through.

1:30 am Friday October 9th

12 outfits. At least 9 cardigans. No jeans. 3 sets of scriptures. No tight-fitting, trendy, or boisterous clothing. Sophisticated? Yes. Classy? Yes. Out of character? Yes. Will she look beautiful and appropriate? You better believe it! All this in just 5 hours.

Ready for the next 18 months. Italy, here she comes!