Monday, May 24, 2010

Giveaway: Life, In Spite of Me

Wanna read this book with me?  I have an extra copy to give away!  To enter, simply answer the following question in the comments section, and I'll choose a random entry on Friday!

The Question:
Do you have any big plans for summer?

Here is another inspiring video featuring Kristen Jane Anderson's testimony and Casting Crowns:

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

What I'm Reading: Life, In Spite of Me

I didn't even start reading this book in enough time to write a review and I'm way over deadline as it is, so I'm calling it...

What I'm Reading...
This book caught my eye because I love stories wherein a character experiences conflict and fights the epic battle required to overcome the obstacles into a life of redemption and victory.  Don't we all experience depression at some point?  And unfortunately, every life is touched by rape and/or suicide in one way or another.  Kristen Jane Anderson's story is an example of what lies on the other side of the fight for all of us.  Hers is a story of hope, struggle and salvation, and should prove an inspiration to all of us to keep fighting, for the promise of hope and victory.

"Kristen Anderson thought she had the picture-perfect life until strokes of gray dimmed her outlook: three friends and her grandmother died within two years. Still reeling from these losses, she was raped by a friend she thought she could trust. She soon spiraled into a seemingly bottomless depression.

One January night, the seventeen-year-old decided she no longer wanted to deal with the emotional pain that smothered her. She lay down on a set of cold railroad tracks and waited
 for a freight train to send her to heaven…and peace.

But Kristen's story doesn’t end there.

Life, In Spite of Me this remarkably joyful young woman shares the miracle of her survival, the agonizing aftermath of her failed suicide attempt, and the hope that has completely transformed her life, giving her a powerful purpose for living.

Her gripping story of finding joy against all odds provides a vivid and unforgettable reminder that life is a gift to be treasured.
" --courtesy WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Please click here for more on this incredible story including videos and sneak peek!
This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Saturday, May 22, 2010

In Which I Make GF Pancakes Everyone Can Live With

Lately, Saturday mornings find me standing at the kitchen counter rubbing the sleep out of my eyes with my heart sinking into my growling stomach.  I want to make pancakes and I don't know where to start.

I make killer pancakes...usually.  I won't take credit for the recipe, which I got from my King Aurthur Flour cookbook.  But after years of tweaking a detail here and a detail there, I love --everyone loves-- the results.

And then I went Gluten-Free.

I know there are GF pancake mixes you can buy, but you have to understand: I'm making pancakes for an army.  I haven't actually counted, but I'm making at the least, 30 4-inch pancakes.  Those pre-mixes are expensive!  And besides that, I sort of have a thing for making it myself.  I don't want to just add water.  I want to understand what's going on with my food.  I'm a DIY cook, and I want to know what's so special about flour and how I can imitate it without gluten.

I haven't figured out the science of it yet, but I'm starting to sense the elements and today, I tried something.  Just for the heck of it.  See what happens.  And the result?  These are some pancakes I can live with.  For now.  I won't be done figuring it out until I can make crunchy, nutty, hippy pancakes AND fluffy, white 'n light Diner pancakes.  But today, for the record, this is what I did (based on my King Aurthur Flour recipe) and a little bit of what I'm thinking when I'm assembling the ingredients:

3 cups Montina* All-Purpose Baking Flour Blend (A generous 10 lb bag of this was given to me--woo!  It contains White Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour and Montina Flour, which is an Indian Ricegrass according to the website.  I like the idea of Tapioca Flour for making the pancakes/waffles a little crispy)
1 cup Bob's Red Mill* 'Sweet' White Sorghum Flour (I have a feeling that this makes the mix a little more sticky, binds it together like gluten might do.  And it has 'sweet' in the name.  Sweet is good in pancakes)
2 tsp Guar Gum (Xanthan Gum is the same but more expensive.  I'm not sure why I added this.  Another binding agent, I think.  It just seems to be in everything.  This is the 'something new' I tried today.)
4 Tbs sugar (I just used a combo of white and raw sugar.  I'm stressed out about the gluten today, I can't worry about alternate sweeteners.)
1 Tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
4 eggs
2 cups milk with ~2 Tbs lemon juice (to make sour milk)
2 cups Plain Yogurt
1/2 cup (I stick) melted butter (which I melt on the griddle in my metal 1c measure after I've measured the flours and milk and yogurt.  I like to use the same utensil for everything 'cause I hate looking at dirty dishes all weekend.  We all know no one's going to wash them right away and I did all the cooking.)

Mix wet.  Mix dry.  Combine.  Griddle-up them flapjacks.  Live with it.
Do you have a favorite GF recipe site?  Please share!

*I'm not a name-dropper, but there seems to be preferences on the GF recipe sites I've read as to what brand has the best choice of flours, mixes, etc.  It's also good to become familiar with what's out there, to make shopping easier.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: Radical

Sometimes I ponder how the history of man ebbs and flows from comfortable complacency to active social and religious movement. I've always had a hard time accurately memorizing history's timeline, but I've been able to catch the gist of the equation: where persecution (or economic hardship, etc) is applied, an equal and opposite revolution evolves. And my suspicion is that this law applies not only at the local level, but across a global spectrum as well.

(Don't I sound smart?)

(No? I sound like a dork? Well who cares; read on anyway.)

In other words, just like most every Christian's normal life, there is a wider-spread waning and waxing of Jesus-freakishness. It has to do with generations. And growing up. individuals, as churches, as a country...

(What? I still sound like a dork? Well I'm no anthropologist, I'm just thinking out loud here. Keep goin'...)

I say this because the more I grow up and find out that life can be ridiculously painful/hard/disappointing/problematic and Jesus shows up and exposes who God really is and how real LIVING doesn't look like my candy-coated expectations at all... the more I see this same revelation being touted all over the place. Sermons are spoken, books are written, people everywhere are unplugging from the Matrix!

People everywhere.

For a while now.

Which brings me back to wondering about the ebb and flow. Is it merely about the individual growing up? Do we also "grow up" as a body of believers, countrymen, earth-dwellers? thesis for my future career as a cultural anthropologist and religious historian.

All of this to introduce you to an old idea that seems to be resurrecting (ha! religious pun!) or maybe it's always been around: Radical Faith. In his book Radical, David Platt challenges us to take God at His Word. To actually find out which way God wants to move you and to let it happen. Drop your net and follow? Sell all your possessions and give to the poor? He's basically challenging us to prove that we're not camels trying to get through the eye of a needle. And story after story, he illustrates why a radical devotion to Jesus is trustworthy, worthwhile, fulfilling, exhilarating even!

I can tell you from personal experience: the hugest risks I have taken trusting God with my carefully guarded heart and life have yielded the most fruitful returns. I have seen miracles occur, and what's more is that I. Have. Matured. My eyes seeing, my mind understanding. For so long Maturity seemed frustratingly impossible, and sometimes it's still glaringly obvious (to me, at least) how far I have yet to go. In those times, if I'm not too selfish or lazy, it's not long before I see that I'm obsessing with the temporary, with all these things that "moth and rust destroy", or even with relationships wherein my own selfish interests are what I'm aiming to protect at all cost.

Donald Miller is one of the authors who seems to be making money on ideas that God is speaking directly to ME (sheesh)... and a while ago he wrote about The Single Most Powerful Question You Can Ask: What if? This is a question I have gotten really good at asking... and testing.

I mostly love risk. I loved science in school: creating hypotheses and testing them out (what if I push this button?). I still love rollercoasters: the scarier and more unpredictable the better (what if I don't know where I'm hurtling through space to?)! I love when Chris McCandless burns his money and his ID and sets off into the unknown, contradicting every course expected of him (what if I live completely opposite of post-collegiate society and set off Into the Wild?).

And the more I do it, the more I love trusting God and seeing what happens. Time and time again I come up with the most unexpected results. And I discover there is blessing and satisfaction outside of a disease-free existence. In fact, I just looked up synonyms for sterile (meaning "clean") and I wasn't surprised to find barren, bleak, desolate, dry, empty, fruitless, futile, vain... Interesting. Where things are perfectly clean, there is fruitlessness. What irony!

This Beautiful Mess is another book that has inspired me, spoken directly to what God has been bringing me into, and the title says it all. Life is messy, and beautifully so.

You can download and read chapter one of David Platt's Radical here as well as request a free copy of The Radical Question (companion booklet to Radical) by going to

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"What the...?!" Wednesday

I've been really hesitant to jump on the Days of the Week Train in my blog. I don't like to be held accountable to a regimen of predictability because frankly, I'll let you down. I like to keep my schedule nice and loose, because if there's anything I've learned in the last 30-ahem-ahem years, it's that if something can pop up and destroy my plans, it will.

Today I throw caution to the wind. I am going to put a day of the week in the title.

Because you know what? There is weirdness in my life. Lots of it. And I like to share weirdness because weirdness is funny.

And it helps me to cope.

So welcome to "What the...?!" Wednesday! Today I am going to share with you the most disturbing toy I have ever found in my house. I have no idea where it came from. Well, I have an idea, but I don't want to make public accusations.

Do you remember Crazy Eyes from Mr. Deeds? This guy reminds me of him. But with a gun.

What the...?! This little guy has a GUN?! What in the world could he possibly be aiming at? Is he getting robbed? What child plays that out? He looks afraid, like he's saying, "N-n-no! D-d-don't eat me!"

...Oh, I get it. Here comes creepy zombie man. He looks happy, but don't let that fool you. He'll eat your face.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A 3-Day [Birthday] Weekend

Speaking of Birthdays, Taylor just turned the big NINER. Seeing as how it was Olympiad and Mother's Day all at the same time, Taylor's birthday got pushed back a couple of days. He got little special treatments all weekend long, but was so cool about not being the center of attention on his birthday. I really like that little dude....I'm so glad he's my kid.

First things first, let's get Mother's Day out of the way! Seriously, before opening any of his own presents, it was important for Taylor to recognize ME.

(Heart! Melting!)

The Birthday String*: starts at his bed and goes all over the house, with presents tied to it. So fun!

All the bed-heads gather to watch the excitement unfold unwrap!

Taylor likes to place sticks of gum into his mouth like a Juicy Fruit commercial. Every. Time.

This is the "O" of "LEGO"

Nice method, buddy. (Careful!)

New gum. New shades. New Cool.

Next-Up... MINI-GOLF!
I think someone's gotten a little too big for that tiny golf club!

What. Ever. SO cute, these two.

Taylor got to bring a friend, and the "big kids" had their own game, while I played with the little ones.


We HAD to take advantage of Noble being in almost perfect scale with the Miniature Golf houses. But that kid was born to run, man! He would NOT pose for our Old West photoshoot, the little whipper-snapper!

Most of the time he was in the stroller, munchin' on an apple. Give him an apple and he's happy for about an hour. It's awesome.

Golf is not baseball. A quick little lesson.

Morgen actually stayed pretty dry, while Dave was soaked from head to toe. Because.....

...little did he know that the three big kids had "pinky-swore" that they wouldn't get each other, which left...

...ganging up on Daddy as the only option!

Dave finally gave up on trying to get out of his entrapment and opened his mouth and let the water that had been pelting his face just pour in, which he then fountained back at them. If you get past how incredibly unsanitary that is (imagine me on the sidelines trying not to make a scene screaming, "STOP IT! That's GROSS!"), it was very cartoon-like and hilarious. Kids don't get the concept of germs and dysentery anyway, so to them it was merely a fantastic victory for the record-books!

A little payback = a little refreshment.

Micah and I rode the Go-Karts while Dave and the kids searched for loose tokens in the arcade (they found two dollars!). I just asked Micah what he liked about riding the Go-Karts and he said "when we ran out of gas!" Whu?! It's true...we ran out of gas just as we were pulling in to the finish. He actually loved the whole thing, even though he didn't get to drive, and he laughed and grinned the entire time.

It was a long day and a long weekend and finally everyone had been celebrated and we decided that we really love each other and love being a family. Dysentery and all.

Happily ever after. The end.

*I wanted to give credit where credit is due: The Birthday String was an idea I stole from Heather Whittaker. I don't know her personally, but she has great ideas for family time!


These were a couple of pictures from Micah's birthday party that didn't fit into the storyline (what? there was a storyline?) but they made my heart ache, 'cause we miss these guys so much. We'll visit soon, I promise!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Micah's Birthday, Revisited

Remember back in '09 when I said there was more to come of Micah's Birthday shenanigans? Well, I'm finally getting around to that.

What a sweet boy, posing for mommy while she takes 500 pictures with various settings on the camera, none of which end up taking the picture she wants to take. Ahh, perfectionism. Meanwhile...

This is what he really wanted to be doing!

We had an ICE CREAM PARTY for Micah's 5th.
In this picture all the little guests are getting instructed on the Taste Testing Rules (we are serious about our party game rules). They all had to taste 5 flavors blindfolded and take their best guess at what flavor it was.

We didn't actually blindfold them...too much putting on/taking off. But they did a pretty good job at keeping their eyes closed. I think 4-5-year olds will pretty much do anything for a bite of ice cream, though.

Brain Freeze?

If you knew this guy's mom, you might think he's busting out in an aria. But no, he was just ready as all get out for his next bite of ice-creamy-goodness!

Cute kids waiting in line...

...some of them were BORN ready!

A couple of the big kids (Korah and friends) thought we needed more party games, so they took it upon themselves to make a "Pin the Cherry on the Sundae" game. It was pretty awesome.

When they guessed all the flavors and picked their favorite, they all got a legitimate cone...with Sprinkles. See the sprinkles? All over the beige carpet? So fun!

This is not the greatest photographic moment, but I love it. It would be a miracle to get these three to stay still together for a pose anyway... I love the authenticity of the moment and seeing my boy love having friends!

Someone gave Micah a lollipop on one of the presents and he popped that sucker right in his mouth! No waiting until he was done seeing what the present was; just right there in front of everyone who didn't have one..."oh YEEAH! CANDY!"

Taylor, who is preciously incapable of just writing "Happy Birthday", is reading the page of sentiments he wrote on Micah's Birthday card.

What is it with Spider-Man, anyway? All Micah wanted was Spider-Man stuff, so he was so stoked to get this Chutes & Ladders game from his buddy Braden (a HUGE Spidey fan himself). Micah loves to play it, which is bitter-sweet because it reminds us of our sweet friend who has moved away. (Shout out to B!)


Micah is officially five and a half now, and still, one of the most amazing kids I know. He loves people, he loves his mama, he loves to laugh and be happy. It's really hard for anything to get that kid down. He's grown a foot since he started preschool and has really blossomed in his language skills. He LOVES his baby brother, and Noble loves to play with Micah. Sometimes I catch Micah pushing the envelope on what's too rough for Noble, but kind of in the same way that mama birds push their chicks toward the edge of the nest. It's like it's his job to toughen Noble up in the most gentle and fun way.

Micah is also very attached to his "twin" sister Morgen (they are 13 mos apart). They play together so well, with the occasional mis-communication where one will just ignore the other which creates big hurt feelings!

Taylor is realizing that Micah is brilliant at Legos and that he doesn't have to be so afraid of Micah breaking his stuff! Micah is also surprising us with his comprehension of all things visual. He memorizes all of the moves on Poptropica and totally understands this game, even though he cannot read a single word of it! His favorite thing to veg out on is The Electric Company, and he likes to yell out "HEY YOU GUYS!!" and see if his brothers and sisters come running! I could go on and on....

Micah is a good kid to know.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gum Wall

I'll be going back in time here once I get my flux capacitor fixed, to talk about some fun and important things we've been up to.  But for now, just feast your eyes on this fabulous Gum Wall in Seattle.

Note: THIS IS NOT FREE CANDY! (Name that movie)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May Day, Odysseus and Olympiad

Oh, there's so much to tell you!  Now that I've figured out how to get the photos off of my new camera onto the computer and the old camera's editing software, and then how to get them onto the blog; and now that I have a blog template and background that I enjoy being around, I'm all fired up and ready to go!  So kids: put yourself to bed...Mommy's goin' AWOL!

I have had a ton of extra stuff in my already crowded brain this month.  Our neighbors went to Hawaii and it was my job to try to keep their fish alive (I lost a Tetra, dang!).  One of them, an Oscar, really missed his 9-year old buddy, and I was afraid it was going to die of I brought Taylor over to feed him and he perked right up and survived the week.  Phew!
Photo by Carie Weisenbach-Folz

Our school had a May Day celebration, which means a lot of flower-crown making and potlucks.  Between all my kids, it's an all-day celebration with all the grades and the teachers doing their own unique dances around the May Pole.  There was even a live band!  It was a lot of fun.

Then Korah's class performed The Wanderings of Odysseus.  Here is Korah as one of Penelope's suitors, trying to string Odysseus' bow:

She failed.  And then was silently slaughtered (I guess they thought if they didn't have a line to recite, the rest should be pantomimed.  One of the corpses rose from the dead and played an improptu "catch me if you can" was hilarious!).  They all did an amazing job.  I was really impressed with everyone!

Next, Micah's school sponsored a Family Zoo Day, the car had to be taken to the shop so all my normal taxi driving was turned into exciting Tri-Met adventures, Micah visited his Kindergarten for next year (Morgen's this year), Taylor turned NINE on Friday, Korah went to the Olympiad with her fifth grade class and of course, Sunday was Mother's Day!  We decided to postpone celebrating Taylors birthday until Sunday when we'd all be together.

Saturday we all drove over to Camp Namanu in Sandy to watch Korah and her 5th grade class perform in the Olympiad.  This is a really cool camp experience that ties together the fifth graders' study of Ancient Greece and an awareness of their physical form and abilities.  It looked like a lot of fun.

Korah's perfect Javelin throw (see it up there?)
"Wrestling" with a classmate.  The object is to keep the circle of your form (arms, mostly) while attempting to push your opponent out of the circle on the ground.  You can lose by being pushed out, or by allowing the circle of your form to be broken.  It takes a lot of concentration!

Then I gave my camera to an ant, who took this picture for me:

In the closing ceremonies, the City States (Korah was in Athens) gathered and their "Priest/ess" gave them a gold medal and told them what physical attributes she was impressed with during the games.
Then the King of Athens told Korah all the character attributes he had noticed in her over the last day.  She had made fast friends with the girl on her left, and he was impressed with her attitude and congeniality.  This was a proud moment, indeed!

Korah is a fantastic runner!  And a really amazing kid, if I do say so myself.

I found a great article from the Oregonian about the Olympiad at Camp Namanu here if you'd like to read more about it.  I took a whole role of film, too, which I am quite excited about.  If any of them turn out any good, I'll have to show them off some day...