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.

9.25.2009

Understanding Whole Grains

I am reposting this because I noticed today when I tried to look at this (well it was brought to my attention a while ago and I forgot) it doesn't show properly on my safari browser. So I hope everyone can see this now!

I have a tendency to talk about
obscure grains as if everyone knows what they are. For clarification and to hopefully compel you to incorporate them in your diet, here is a quick rundown on how to make sense of all these whole grains. I've included a description of my favorites and those I use daily:

My basic whole grain flour mix:

1 part Hard White Spring Wheat: 1 part Kamut: 1 part Spelt


All of these may be purchased from a good health food store or online in bulk. I buy in 50 lbs bags or buckets and put gamma seal lids on them so they stay fresh. I store some in my garage but the majority is in my basement food storage. The most cost effective way to buy these grains is by finding a local grower. In the Mountain West we have 3 graineries I like to use. Walton Feed, Honeyville and less frequently Lehi Roller Mills. Do a little research and find one near you and visit their outlet store. You will save yourself 50-75% off even bulk bin prices from your grocer.

Hard White Wheat is a cross between traditional hard red wheat and soft wheat. It retains the best properties of both. It is high in protein but alkaline instead of acid like the red wheat. White wheat is therefore less bitter and more palatable to many people. It makes a lighter loaf similar but more flavorful than refined white bread. I buy it in 50 lb bags for $0.51 per pound. I purchase my bulk grains from Walton Feed. They have great prices, selection and quality.

Kamut (kah-moot) is a relative of wheat. The kernals are about 2x the size a are a golden color. They contain about 20-40% more protein and are higher in vitamins and minerals. The gluten content is lower than wheat so if you are sensitive to wheat you may be able to tolerate kamut better. It has a rich, buttery flavor. It is a staple in my whole grain flour mix, hot cereal and granola. I buy it organically grown in 50 lb bags for about $1.16 per pound.


Spelt is an ancient grain similar but far superior to wheat. It's protein content is 60% higher and it contains all eight essential amino acids. It is very high in fiber and vitamins and minerals. Because it has a high water solubility it is digested easily in the stomach. Special carbohydrates in spelt promote blood clotting and stimulate the bodies immune system. It has a sweet, nutty flavor and is a staple in my whole grain flour mixture, and hot cereal. I buy it organically grown in 50 lb bags for about $1.22 per pound.

Quinoa (keen-wah) is a true super grain. It is tiny in size but packs more protein than any other grain. It contains all eight essential amino acids and is considered a complete protein. High in unsaturated fat, lower in carbohydrates , and chock full of niacin, potassium and lysine. Quinoa comes in several varieties. I like the red for the color or the white. Quionoa cooks quickly and expands up to 4x its volume. I use it as a substitute for wheat berries, rice, or meat. It is also a staple in our morning cereal. Quinoa should be rinsed well before use. Otherwise it has a bitter taste. It does have a distinct flavor, I find my children love it when I toast it in the skillet with a little butter or olive oil. It improves the taste and texture. I buy quinoa from azure standard.


Steel Cut Oats are simply oats which are cracked and not rolled like oatmeal. Because the whole grain is intact they retain a higher nutritional content. You can buy these usually at the grocery store in the health food section or bulk bins at your local health food store. The most cost effective I found is a local grainery store Honeyville Grains (I do notice their online prices are double the store!). I can purchase 25 pound bags for $12.25 at their store in Brigham City. They also have a store in Salt Lake City. I love these in my morning cereal and in my multigrain bread. You can also order these from azure standard.

More Grains I am still learning to incorporate frequently...

Millet, I'll be honest, this is bird seed. But it is amazingly good for you. I put it in our granola, and add to my multigrain bread and multigrain hot cereal. It can be popped. Popping grains is an art I am still perfecting. It is really easy to burn, and burnt grains are completely unappealing. I’ve tried them. Not recommended. The idea is to put just a couple tablespoons of grain into a deep pan over high heat. It takes just a minute. Somehow I can’t get it quite right yet, although I haven’t tried in a while. Millet can be milled into a flour, or added whole to salads, soups, breads, cookies, pastries, soups and salads. I don't prefer it as a flour. It is very alkaline so this is especially important to include in your families diet if you eat animal products. I buy millet from walton feed.

Amaranth, one of the little grains like millet. It is high in vitamins, minerals and protein...I feel like I am getting super repetitive here... It can be popped or milled into a flour and added to salads, soups, breads, cookies, pastries, soups and salads. I have started adding this to my multigrain hot cereal and it tastes wonderful. I purchase this from walton feed.


I also use rye, barley (whole, not pearl), and buckwheat (which is actually an herb not a grain). Buckwheat is great because it can be used just by soaking and not cooking.

I buy my buckwheat and barley both from azure standard. The rye I purchase from walton feed.

A Tendency Towards Overboard

200 lbs of Onions

200 lbs of Potatoes

150 lbs of Tomatoes

It didn't seem like it was all that much when I was placing my order...4 bags of onion, 4 bags of potatoes...but the minivan could barely accelerate with this booty!

Any guesses on how I will spend my weekend? I haven't been able to get my 1/5th of an acre to produce much food this year...in fact I think it is my pesky chickens. They are highly suspicious with the inordinate amount of time spent roaming in my beds.

In lieu of home production I ordered this food from a family in Alpine who runs a home business called Alpine Food Storage. They have some great deals if you are looking to buy in bulk on grains, natural sweeteners, nuts, oils, etc. Of course, you can buy 50 lbs of potatoes instead of 200...hmmm...I definitely have a tendency towards going overboard on things (or I like to think of it as intensity), especially food.

I plan to keep the potatoes and onions in boxes in my basement with sawdust. I've been told they will last up to a year. I still really don't think we will eat this much. But how do you measure something like this? I am not good at measuring. I would rather fare on the side of too much than too little.


9.23.2009

Naturally Sweetened, Vegan, Chocolate Fudge Swirl Ice Cream


A new way to indulge in chocolate ice cream the unrefined, raw, vegan way. I was visiting a local health food store several weeks ago and found a 1/2 pint of ice cream with an ingredient list similar to this. I bought it for $6. 50. Not a bargain. Making it I discovered was a piece of cake. Snitching the ingredient list and massaging it a bit this is what I came up with. If you like your chocolate extra rich, increase the molasses and decrease the agave proportionately.

Chocolate Fudge Swirl Ice Cream

1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 c agave nectar
1/3 c blackstrap molasses
2 c cashews*
2 c water
1 c soaked almonds chopped rough
1 T pure vanilla extract

Mix cocoa, agave nectar and vanilla until smooth. Set aside 1/2 cup of mixture. Combine cashews and milk in high powered blender. Mix until smooth. Add to bowl with molasses, and chopped almonds and remaining chocolate agave mixture. Put in ice cream maker and process until creamy. Put into serving bowls and alternately layer the cocoa agave mixture you set aside. Or drizzle on top if serving immediately.

This is both a raw and vegan recipe.

*You can substitute any nut milk. The cashew makes the richest creamiest, we have found. But coconut milk is yummy too. Just use 2 cups unsweetened, coconut


....there is a part of me that is feeling the need to research chocolate however...I really don't want to open that can of worms...I am uncomfortable with the addictive nature of chocolate...I don't feel our family is addicted, we indulge in moderation...but everything is not to be done in moderation...some things are to be done not at all.

9.22.2009

Wheatgrass attempt by the Black Thumbed Gardener

If you will recall from my Opening 5 Cans of Worms post a while back, I learned several things I wanted to research and possibly begin integrating into my family's diet and lifestyle. One that I haven't updated about yet is wheatgrass. This one intimidated me a bit because I am so horrible at growing things. But I am here to announce it has been a success! Although my little kitchen is overrun by grass. I need to work out some shelves somehow.

Day 1...planted (the wheat had soaked over night)
Day 2...Sprouting
Day 6...Reaching for the sun and photosynthesizing like mad

Day 14...3 days of harvesting into our first tray. Trays 2 and 3 are ready to go.
Prepping for my first ever shot of straight wheatgrass...it smelled horrible and I am really brave!
It tasted even worse than it smelled! I was anticipating a green, grassy taste. Nope. (I look extra horrible because I just got back from a ride)It is sickeningly sweet. Ick! Since the first day we have been combining it in a smoothie. The kids don't notice it at all. I like mine with lemon and cayenne. Brent and the kids with lots of oranges and other fruit.
Brent felt about the same as I did about the taste.

The redeeming quality is wheatgrass doesn't overpower a smoothie so start growing. Even if your garden is a flop...like mine is...if I can grow wheatgrass you can too!

Wheat is cheap and plentiful. It stores forever. Wheatgrass is actually a cure for radiation sickness and many people swear it has cured their cancer. I won't make any claims...yet...but if you are like me and have oodles of wheat on hand, one more way to use it never hurts. After all, aren't we told that grains are the "staff of life" where does it say they must be ground up and cooked?

9.21.2009

What to do with a Toddler while you Homeschool?

Schedule Nap Time! Thankfully my little Emmett has always been an amazing napper. It does really help me to have him asleep for the majority of the time we have Mom School. However, when he is awake he is so pleasant and undemanding. But that is just his personality. I may not be so lucky the next time around. Here is a picture tour of Emmet at Mom School. I've been collecting choice photos the last month...

We start our Mom Schooling at 8 am. For the first 1 1/2 hours he lounges around reading books,
"lounge" being the operative word here...playing with toys,
...coloring,
...playing with big sister when she has some down time...
...thoroughly enjoying "field trip Friday"
The girls here are sporting their "Egyptian" beaded hair. This field trip was to see the temple. The girls drew pictures and we talked about forever families and symmetry in art.

... or helping out with the occasional science experiment.
This experiment was on density. We have been learning about different boats made by Romans, Egyptians, the earliest humans...we've made some models and the science teacher in my knew it was the prime opportunity to introduce density!

At about 9:30 I put the little man down for a nap and he is out until between 12:30-1:30.

What does that mean? I have a few moment So I even get a little break since mom school ends at 11:45. Ellery heads to school and Callista has quiet time in her room reading books for an hour.

I am staying sane. In fact, blissfully happily sane! Although last night I had a massive brain freeze. I was trying to plan my enrichment activities for this week and spent 3 hours and came up with nothing! I should have stopped when it was clear I was in an incredible non-brainy mood.

9.17.2009

A Prayer Like Moses

Often times the greatest lessons are the unanticipated ones. Such was the case for me recently.

video

Take one minute out of your busy schedule and watch this little clip of Callista practicing her first Primary (Sunday School for children 3-11 years) talk. About 5 months ago, she was asked to give a prayer in Primary and was so excited but started bawling and wouldn't say a word when she was in front of the children.

For this reason we spent a lot of time preparing her so she would feel confident and excited for this experience. We came early so she could practice in the room with the microphone. Upon assuming her position behind the pulpit, she immediately froze. In her words "Mommy I can't. I am too scared. I can't." After some gentle prodding and encouragement she ran through her talk perfectly several times. However, the last time through someone walked in the room and she panicked. At that point, I knew we were probably in for some nerves.

The time arrived for Callista. My fearless little Pip approached the pulpit full of uncharacteristic trepidation. After the first line she broke down bawling. I tried to comfort, coax and prompt her, but it was not to be. I said a quick little prayer for her...that she could have courage like Moses...Then I snuggled her next to me and began to give the talk quietly for her.

It was then the lesson came...my prayer wasn't answered but hers...the words I spoke, her words, her testimony...we were living it...right then and there.

"Moses was too scared and too shy. And he couldn't talk very well. So he prayed that God would help him. God said his brother Aaron would help him talk. I know if I am scared and need help I can pray and Jesus will help me and my family will help me."

I was overcome with emotion. I don't know if the children in the congregation understood what was happening but it was difficult to find a dry eye among the adults.

The Lord answers the prayers of our children. Callista needed my voice. What a privilege and blessing as a Mother to give it to her in those sweet moments. God is mindful of us. Our simplest needs are acknowledged. Answers provided, when we earnestly seek. I pray I will always be worthy to be an answer to my children's prayers in the many years of mothering I have before me.


9.16.2009

Homeschooling Exemption Form

To partial homeschool or have "dual enrollment" you must fill out a form with the school district. Ask your principal for the "Compulsory Education Exemption Certificate for Home Instruction." It is a simple form to be signed and notarized. You must commit to schooling for a specific number of hours.

Your child is still eligible for participation in all activities and subjects you decide works between your family and the teacher and administrator.

Peach Agave Ice Cream

Fresh Homemade Peach Ice Cream with Homemade Waffle Cones

Dairy and refined sugar free...filled with fresh peaches from our tree...a delectable dessert. With an ice cream maker and a little creativity, it is amazing the concoctions available at our fingertips!

For my ice creams I have used a few different bases. This was made with cashew milk. Cashews provide a thick creamy base without altering the flavor. I also use coconut milk and almond milk. Cashews are such a soft nut they don't even require straining, if you don't mind a little bit of texture.

Fresh Peach Ice Cream

3 cups fresh peaches sliced
4 T fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 1/2 c agave nectar
2 cups cashews and enough water to make 4 cups milk
1 1/2 t pure vanilla extract

Combine the peaches, lemon juice and 1/2 c agave nectar. Allow to sit for 2-3 hours. Strain the berries, reserving the juices. Puree half the berries.

Combine cashews and water in a blender. Use enough water to make 4 cups of cashew milk. Process until smooth. Add 1 c agave, peach juice, puree and vanilla. Process in ice cream maker, until thickened. Add reserved berries just before the ice cream is finished.

More ice cream recipes and waffle cone recipe to come...free from refined sugars and dairy.

9.14.2009

Half-Day Homeschooling


For our first attempt we felt it best to allow Ellery to continue to spend some time at school, but not the entire day. In the words of Reed Benson:

"Once a child starts school the home becomes school centered not family centered. The hour before school getting ready, the six hours of school, the hour or two unwinding afterwards, and the hour or more of homework later in the evening leave little time for parents and children to communicate and involve themselves jointly in activities not related to school."

While you can still spend worthwhile time with your children in those few precious hours, in this day and age, I need and want more time than what the public school system allows me with my children. While I do not feel it is crucial for Ellerys social development (that is best modeled and developed with positive role models in the home), she does enjoy being there for a couple hours each day.

It is my understanding that public schools are required to accommodate parents in their homeschooling pursuits. I don't think they are allowed to tell you "No". But, they can make it very difficult. I know others who have met with quite a bit of resistance from their principal. This has not been the case at our school.

I am meeting with her principal to discuss further legalities this week. I know when you withdraw totally, parents must fill out a waiver from the district and submit it to the state. It is unclear to me still exactly how she enrolled. I am not certain if they are counting her full time? I will let you know on that point when it is clarified this week.

These are our "dinosaur eggs" from the first week of school. We put little plastic dinosaurs in balloons, made some paper mach e glue (1 part water 2 parts flour) and covered the balloons. After they dried we sponge and "leaf" painted them.
We then watched them until we were ready for them to "hatch" the next week. Oh what cute baby dinosaurs!

Communication is Key

I approached the principal around January of last year to meet him and present my ideas and intentions concerning homeschooling. Using non-threatening language I tried to help him understand it was a personal decision for our family, not a negative reflection on the school. He asked that we keep the communication very open. I asked that Ellery be assigned to an understanding teacher, with whom it would be easy to coordinate with.

Immediately in the Spring, when we were notified of Ellery's teacher for this fall, I called her teacher. I explained to her my intentions. She has been extremely supportive. In fact, she shared with me how ideal she felt the situation was. She said educators can only dream of spending so much one-on-one time with each child and incorporating the type of enrichment I am providing.

The positive progression thus far, I think can be attributed to my diligence in keeping all interested parties informed of our schedules and intentions.


As we learned about tool making we "carved" these arrowheads to make simple spears.
As the potatoes dried over the course of a few days they got black and tough. Perfect spear heads! Do you think they have time to do this with 28 children?

How we work our Schedule

We homeschool from 8:00 am until 11:30. On Mondays, Ellery packs a lunch and eats lunch with her class and plays at lunch recess. These days she is at school from 11:10 until 1:15 (early out day). The remainder of the week she goes to school a few minutes before lunch recess ends at 11:50. Her day ends at 2:15.

I choose to keep Ellery for our schooling in the mornings. We all seem to be at our best before 1 pm :) Most of their core classes occur in the morning at her elementary school. Ellery enjoys choir, library, math and some spelling and writing and recess.

Fiercely displaying their "spears" these girls made the chickens flee for refuge under the deck!

Long-term Plans

I have no intention of changing the format, as of yet. I think the partial-day homeschooling will be most complicated during elementary school. This is a product of having a single teacher and certain activities may carry over from morning to lunch. So far no problems. And, as we live within eye-sight of the school we have clear advantages. Access to the school is simple. No driving or waking up babies from naps! During Junior High and High School it should be very simple, as they will be able to just choose 2 or 3 classes to attend.


9.13.2009

Poetry's Part in Homeschooling

video

We have had a wonderful time memorizing both scriptures, songs and poems in our homeschooling.

The video shows the first week's poem.

The Owl

by Edward Richards

There was an old owl
Who sat in an oak.
The more he sat,
The less he spoke.

The less he spoke,
The more he heard.
Why can't we be like
That wise old bird?


Here are some others we've learned....

The Clock

There's a neat little clock
In the schoolroom it stands.
And it points to the time
With its two little hands.

And may we like the clock
Keep a face clean and bright.
With hands ever ready
To do what is right.

Brother

By Mary Ann Hoberman

I had a little brother
And I took him to my mother
And I said I want another
little brother for a change.

She said, Don't be a bother,
So I took him to my father,
And I said, this little bother
of a brother's very strange.

And he said, one little brother
Is exactly like another,
And every little brother
Misbehaves a bit he said.

So I took the little bother
From my mother and my father
And I put the little bother
of a brother back to bed.


This one we will spend another week on, because they don't quite have it yet. It is a bit more abstract. I try to choose poems with meaning and lessons, and tangibility. I also try to give them movements and inflection. My sister is a master at this. I love to snitch her ideas!

Careful with Words
By Will Carleton

Boy flying kites, haul in their white-winged birds,
You can't do that when you're flying words.
Careful with fire is good advice, you know.
Careful with words is ten times doubly so.
Thoughts unexpressed may sometimes fall back dead,
But God, himself can kill them once they're said.




9.11.2009

Our Little School Room

Creating the perfect environment for our Homeschooling adventure was critical to me. I was so worried before beginning this adventure, that it be positive and uplifting experience. I take seriously the charge as a mother to nurture and educate my children. Well nourish too...but I will try to stay focused.

My house is not big. And I have no desire to have a big house...btw. We have around 2400 sq feet, with about 900 sq ft on the main level. But I find creative ways to constantly rearrange rooms to fit our current lifestyle. This room is 10'x12'. Having everything arranged in a small area, easily accessible, with all my supplies within arms reach, has proved invaluable to creating the atmosphere I seek. We also have a great view of the backyard, lots of natural sunlight, and easy access to the kitchen for snacks!
I purchased these bulletin boards, dry erase boards, clock, globe, storage bins, rug, and an additional children's table with three chairs. The oversized table allows all of us to sit comfortably and work together.

Or we have two separate work stations when necessary. I wanted lots of inviting seating, so I included our rocker and couch.
All three bookshelves we had. I redistributed books and toys throughout the house to make room for our school supplies. I kept the bottom two shelves full of toys for Emmett to play with while he is awake during school hours...which isn't long. We have math bins, work bins and my supplies.

9.10.2009

First Sewing Lessons and The Boxcar Children

I am going to do a string of homeschool posts...since I have a backlog of pictures and ideas!

My girls have been watching me sew since the time they were babies. Both beg to learn. For homeschooling we just finished reading The Boxcar Children. The book was charming and engaging for both Ellery and Callista. I love the old fashioned values of hardwork, honesty, and self-reliance the children exhibit. At one point Jesse and Violet, the two sisters in the book, make a "stocking" teddy bear for their little brother Benny.
Certainly they ended up covered in jeweled stickers and with sparkly earrings...what real teddy bear isn't?

A perfect opportunity presented itself for giving the girls their first sewing lessons. After rummaging through Daddy's sock drawer, and procuring the perfect rainbow assortment of threads and buttons the girls stuffed the socks with rice and made these darling little teddy bears.

It was great hand-eye coordination training and more importantly they loved it and built self-confidence in the process.

To conclude our unit on The Boxcar Children, the girls made this great mural. We went through the book and remembered all the wonderful things the children were surrounded by in their little boxcar home.
I love, love, love this!

9.09.2009

The First Farmers...A Homeschooling Adventure

Homeschooling this year is all about lots of firsts. We are exploring world cultures and history. I am basing my curriculum on the Sonlight Program. It provides a basic timeline and the books. I enrich. And the enrichment has made the program. As a stand alone program it does have depth. I love the poetry and literature emphasis. However, I feel it is the personal touches, I add as a Mother, knowing the personalities of my children...what excites them...

Here are some pictures of learning about the First Farmers....

First we held and touched the wheat. One of the most anciently cultivated grains. We then used some rocks from the backyard to crush the wheat. We had limited success so we cheated a little and brought out our handgrinder. The girls got a kick out of this.
We kept our flat bread simple. The girls added water and salt and mixed with their hands. We then pressed them into tortillas.

We started a great little fire by collecting small twigs and bark. No newspaper was needed. We put some rocks in the fire and layed our "bread" on top.


We spread a little raw honey on top and enjoyed. "Enjoy" may be a relative term.
I don't know if I have ever spent so much quality time with my children. Four hours a day of positive uplifting nurturing. I am in mothering heaven!

9.04.2009

Hens They Are...Phew...

Can you believe how huge these little girls are getting! I think we are in the clear for any "rooster" mishaps. Two months old and no crowing. I do have to say these are going to be some darn healthy eggs.
Guess what their favorite things to munch on in my garden are? My once luscious dark green kale and leafy broccoli. The little trouble makers!
Look at them run to the hen house. They know they are in trouble.

9.03.2009

The Big Dinosaur Party

Is that a fierce looking dinosaur cake or what?

The party kicked off with a search for the missing stegosaurus eggs.
We then made some fossils and impressions of dinosaurs....

Followed by the obligatory dinosaur pinata...
We then morphed from club-swinging cave dwellers into meticulous paleontologists digging delicately for fossil chocolate chips in our rocks (vegan pumpkin cookies).
We wound things down with our Caramelly Popcorn "Cake" and presents.

9.02.2009

A Birthday "Four" My Pip

Happy Fourth Birthday to my Little Pippy! If you can't catch the twinkle and sparkle in those beautiful dark eyes you must need to visit your local Costco Optometrist.
If anything sums up why my life just wouldn't be nearly as wonderful without my little Pip it is the next two pictures of her blowing out her candles....
How does this just not put a smile on even the most grumpy of dispositions?
Pay special attention to see if you can count how many times Callista changed her outfit in the course of this her very special fourth birthday. I'll give you a hint...it is more than four. The wild "bedhead" most certainly starts each day...we opted to end the "birthday cereal" tradition. Instead I made Callista "pink monkey bread" with a quarter hidden inside. It was a hit. (Sorry I forgot a picture.)
If I had bigger bows to put in her hair I wouldn't be afraid to do it. She handles them smashingly. Something the way she runs at me at full speed, at the crack of dawn, squealing "My Mommy, My Mommy, My Mommy..." and then smothering my legs in kisses and hugs until I can untangle her and scoop her wiry, wriggly body into my arms. She was delighted by her very own CD player. She loves to listen to poems and music. Her favorites include "Grizzly Bear," "Rattl'n Bog," "Clementine" and she even named her new stuffed sock we made in homeschool today "Sarasponda."
This vegan chocolate cake was fabulous until we ruined it with powdered sugar decorator frosting. But we sure had fun decorating it together after Ellery left for school in the afternoon. Callista thumbed through the cake decorating books for days. I was finally able to coax her away from the Halloween cakes, she was so rapturous about. I am not ready for Halloween themes yet...
Here is our finished project, complete with a new Strawberry Shortcake doll.
The flames look extra big, because four little wimpy candles was definitely not enough drama for this little girl. We had 4 columns of 4 candles. It was exciting.
A trip to Toys R Us resulted in this singing microphone and a doctors kit. She has been monitoring all of our blood pressure meticulously.
Because Motherhood would be far to easy if I could sleep through the night, sit through church, or drive in the car and explain yet again why some people still have their Christmas lights up in September and why we don't...this is why I love my little four year old. In case I forget there is always one more thing to get excited about, or 15 reasons a day to jump up and down with glee, or break out into writhing sobs and crash into a deep snore in 10 seconds flat...these are all why I need and love my little girl in my life. God knew to send me Callista. I am a better person because of her. Happy Birthday my lovey.