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.


Blasted Toe!

If I could somehow make my big toe look demonic I would.  It is a true source of evil in my life.  It doesn't look swollen, painful...really it looks quite innocent.  But somehow on Monday, to the best of my internet research knowledge, I must have strained a muscle.   The pain is right at the joint where my toe meets my foot, kind of on the inside between it and my "royal" toe (you know it is sign of royalty that extra long second toe).  

Who knew the big toe joint is one of the most important in the entire body, and receives some of the most strain?  Now I know, and now it is causing me problems.

I've been running 70 miles a week for 2 months, training my "Olympic Qualifying" schedule, I've run at least 8 runs over 20 miles, and three weeks to the day of the big race I get hurt.

I pushed through the week, thinking it would go away.  I finished my last long run Friday morning.   17 miles.  The workout included two 5 mile intervals at 5 seconds under marathon pace.  Josse and I ran a flat loop and I finished both intervals with an average 6:54 pace.  I was in my brand new marathon outfit

Side Note:  I am addicted to Lululemon running gear.  Yoga brought me to the brand, but the running clothes are heads and tails better than anything else I have run in. I am pretty certain I will run faster in my new clothes, wink, wink.  On Thursday Brent and I visited the store at Trolley Square.  As I tried on potential fast running gear, I had forgotten to bring a sports bra.  In a non-supportive top, having nursed 4 children, no padding or pushups, 70 miles a week with a few extra pounds gone (from my chest that is), it wasn't a pretty sight.  The thoughtful saleswoman rushed to find me a sports bra to help my rapidly dropping womanly self esteem.  Sigh...

The injury is possibly connected to my new shoes.  I love the kinvara 2's.  A couple weeks ago I went up a half size.  I was having a bit of pain on the balls of my feet.  I thought a little extra room in the toe box would be helpful, but possibly there was too much movement leading to the strain?  Who knows.

I didn't run today hoping that 2 days off, icing and ibuprofen may help.

Mentally I am so excited for this race.  I have never run like this in my life.  I don't know what April 16th will bring.  It may bring lots of toe pain, but it will not stop me from going as hard as I can.  If I fall apart, it will only be from trying too hard.


Papi Day

Behold, our first annual "Papi Day." A day set aside to honor and celebrate Papa's life.  
March 22nd marks the one year anniversary of his death.

Ellery set a festive table with streamers.  She got on the computer and printed off pictures of Papa and then wrote on note cards her favorite endearing memories.  

We circled the table, talked about the pictures and reminisced a life well lived.

We toasted to Papa’s life with “Papi’s Juice.”

Then Brent and I, and the children gloriously indulged in ice cream bars (I had to modify a bit from papa’s Ben and Jerry’s and get coconut milk ice cream version).
We finished the evening with a slideshow of Papa's life and the ways he touched each of us.  Here's to a wonderful, new family tradition.


Hola Bertha!

Spanish and Bertha.  Our newest Homeschooling Additions.

You may recollect the sad departure of Larisa at the beginning of this year.  We miss her sweet disposition and tender heart.  To fill the educational void we hired our neighbor Bertha to begin to tutor the children in Spanish.  Bertha is from Mexico and has lived in the United States for about 10 years, first in Chicago and now in Utah.

Bertha taught elementary school in Mexico and I believe was born to teach children.  She is brimming with smiles, enthusiasm, dancing, games, and has just enough toughness to keep the kids in line.  Bertha began coming the first week in January.  She comes Mon, Tues, and Thursday from 8-9 in the morning and on Wednesdays from 12:45-3:45 (so I can still attend piano lessons with the girls).  Because she lives only a block away the schedule works out ideally for both of us.  Most days I try to listen and learn along with the children but sometimes I sneak in my shower and breakfast.

  Bertha is a gifted teacher and within days she had Emmett and Honey running into her arms for kisses and hugs.  I've been especially impressed with how seriously she takes her job.  She is prepared each day with a lesson and activities, songs and games. She speaks very little English and her communication with the children is almost exclusively in Spanish.  On Wednesdays after their lesson and when I leave for piano with the girls Bertha tends Emmett and Honey.  She speaks exclusively in Spanish and I swear they are starting to understand.  It is amazing!

The weather warmed up last week and the class headed outside with magnifying classes to explore for insects and leaves.  Spanish will be an invaluable addition to the children's skill set.  Ellery had a head start from Rosetta Stone,  but it computer doesn't hold a candle to Bertha!


First Flute Competition

Ellery posing with a $13,000 flute.  Not in the cards.
The green satin was so fitting for this St. Patricks Day Event.

 Ellery participated in her first flute competition on Saturday.  It was a fantastic learning experience for her.  There are a lot of things we will do differently next time.  She competed with three pieces, two in the Elementary division (Slovakian Hoop Dance and Estillo) and one in the Junior High division (Cossakaya).  I think that was quite a few pieces to learn and we didn't have enough time with the music.  Also, we didn't know to tune her flute before, so the first piece she played her flute was completely out of tune with the piano and the stand was directly in front of her face and hands.

She did place third for her performance of Estillo, which thrilled her.  There were only 4 competing on that particular piece, but she doesn't need that little tidbit of information right now!  Marilyn did a beautiful job accompanying.  The competition was in SLC at the University of Utah.



I've desperately tried to discover what happened to me my freshman year of college.  I still am not quite sure.  A rebound from high school and living at home?  If you want to know what I look like 45-50 lbs heavier now you know.  
It boils down to Discipline.  I had none.

No exercise.  I had always exercised and played sports.

No sleep.  I stayed out until 2-4 am and slept in or through many of my classes.

Junk.  I ate junk.  So much candy it sickens me.  Junior mints and sour gummy bears were the biggest culprits.  We laughed at the girl on our floor who counted her M & M's but guess who didn't get fat?

Mess.  My dorm room was a disaster.  

No 4.0.  I think after the obsession with a 4.0 in high school I just decided not to care anymore.  Some how I rolled out of that year with a high GPA but I regret my decision not to try.  I didn't even reapply for my scholarship.  I could have been outstanding and I wasn't.

Today I ran seven 800 meter sprints between a 2:55 and 2:28 pace. I'm training to run a marathon in just over 3 hours.  If you told me I would ever be able to do these things I would have laughed.    In high school I didn't think I could run faster than a 9 minute mile. 

I run.  I read.  I educate.  I cook.  So I do not become what I was.  I'm grateful to look back and learn and determined to never lose focus like that again.  Certainly I was not happier at 173 lbs and a mediocre effort at life. 


And Then There Were Two...

Yesterday was a sad one on our micro, mini, family farm.  We lost our blond chicken Miriam in an unfortunate accident.  Her persistence did not pay off.  In an attempted escape from the run her little head became wedged under a board.  Thankfully Brent came home from church early and found her before the rest of the family came home.

The girls sobbed for hours.  I was surprised at the intensity of their emotion.  We'll remember Miriam as our flyer, an exceptional egg layer (two a day), and the bottom of the pecking order.  Hopefully there is a heaven for animals were she doesn't have to try to escape a coop but can roam around to her full pleasure.  (I doubt the little spirit animals are eating thus, no poop.  I would let them roam too!)

The little hens had just come off their winter egg-laying break of 2 1/2 months.  We will miss Miriam's mischief and her blue and peach eggs.


I'm Going Soft

...and She Went Sparkly!

Eight years old went out the window.  I think my original tag line was "When you are 14."  But then, I just kept remembering how much a longed for my ears to be pierced.  I just ached to wear those dangling fish earrings my best friend Rachel wore.  My mother was immovable.  I was 15 before I pierced my ears.

 In the last year it has been so fun to watch Ellery's enjoyment with her ears pierced, and it is so darn cute.  Callista's jaw dropped and she stood speechless in disbelief for some long moments after she asked me the question (and it comes frequently)  "Can I PLEASE get my ears pierced?"  "Yes." was the reply.

It took Callista a few weeks to earn this privilege.  With all her exuberance she is by far my most challenging child.  Homeschooling and piano practicing can often just about throw me over the edge with her.  She doesn't accept correction well.  In her little mind, she thinks she is always doing everything right, whether pertaining to a slur in piano or a misspelled word, and is devastated, distraught and frequently sent into tears if told otherwise.

 Callista before with her giant chocolate brown eyes...

Callista during...

Callista after..



Warm and Spicy Indian Vegetable Soup

Warm and Spicy Indian Vegetable Soup

Comfort foods.  Usually "Spicy Indian Vegetable Soup" is not the first thing that pops into your mind.  However, this soup is comforting in so many ways.  It literally warms and soothes your belly and digestive system.  Two things I need right now.  This week was an anomaly to our very mild Utah winter.  It was actually cold, cloudy, a bit snowy, and windy.  At least most of the mornings.  Usually training for a Spring Marathon can be quite dreadful, but our "California Winter" has been fantastic.

With the Boston only 6 weeks away, I am watching my food intake vigilantly.  Today I ran 22.2 miles, my fifth run over 20 miles since January.  I burn a tremendous amount of calories doing 2 speed workouts a week and running between 60-70 miles.  But, have no doubt, that correlates into a ravenous appetite.  It doesn't feel hard to eat 5000 calories in a day.  However, every one extra pound equates to approximately 1 extra minute in a marathon.  I don't want any of those extra pounds.  The weight:time correlation struck me out of nowhere.  I though I would do a little research and I was stunned.  The only hints I've ever had are a couple conversations with my running friends about the pressure from coaches in College to lose weight.  Logically, it is a duhhh.  Carrying around any extra bulk just slows you down, but the dramatic impact was news to me.  A serious runner's healthy weight is significantly lower than the average American's healthy weight.

On a cold, dreary day, after a long run, and a soak in an ice cold river, my stomach and body Today warranted the warm up of this soup.  The temperature and cayenne pepper pack the hot punch, and the vegetables and lentils are easily digested by your body.  The result is a great combination.  It stores well, so I make a giant batch in my canning stock pot (quadruple the recipe) and share, freeze, and eat all week.

Everything about this soup classifies as "easy" except.... there is a lot of chopping involved.  Once you square that away, you're set.  Don't be afraid to play around and add your favorite veggies in.  Sometimes I warm up the spices, other times I tone them down.

Warm and Spicy Indian Vegetable Soup

1 c dry lentils
1 sweet potato, diced
2 stalks celery, sliced
2 carrots, sliced
1 red onion, diced
1-2 cups chopped tomatoes (I like cherry) or use a can of diced
1 small red pepper, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
2 small zucchinis, sliced
1 cup green beans, chopped
1 bunch of kale, chopped
6 cups of water


1-2 tsp Real Salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne (or less to taste)
1 tsp oregano


Chop all vegetables. Place in a large stock pot, reserve kale for the end.  Add water.  Bring to boiling and simmer for 20 minutes, adding water as necessary. Add chopped kale a minute or two before serving.   

110 Calories per 1 cup serving and 12 grams of protein.  Makes about 12 cups.


We Are Still Alive

We've been a no show on the blog for another month!  Nine of those days I have a very good excuse for, the other 30 I don't.  I'm trying to back-post to get caught up.  Major Event: a vacation of a lifetime at the new Disney Aulani Resort on Oahu.  

Everything about the resort was first class. The weather was amazing, the beach and grounds impeccable.  Brent's mom was with us for 5 days.  I wouldn't change a single thing, unless I could afford to stay there for 3 weeks instead!