Thursday, May 31, 2012

Schedules and Winged Unicorns

A tight schedule with toddlers in the house is kind of like a Winged Unicorn: They're fun to dream about, I would love to have one of my own, but they're still a fairy tale.

Winged Unicorns-- they make for a great story, but they're hard to find, and even harder to keep.

A Good Schedule--they make for a really boring story, they're also hard to find, and even harder to keep than my imaginary phantasmagorical friend. We have a new schedule at our house. I know of what I speak.

Day 1 of our new schedule : Operation Home School+full-time language study for mommy and daddy+6 people still alive, reasonably well-fed and not ready to kill each other by the end of the day.
Day 1 actually went well. Caffeine consumption increased noticeably, as was to be expected, but children were up as per usual by around 5:30 AM, dog was walked at 6 AM, the children fed at 6:30 AM, language study on time, homeschool ok. kids taken out and exercised. Daddy taken out and exercised. With the children of course.

Conclusion at end of day: semi-success+exhaustion. yay.

Day 2. Hahahaha. 4 AM. Skye crying, I get her. She transfers to our bed. She biffed it on the stairs the other day and her lip still looks horrible, and it seems to be hurting her again. She lays in mommy and daddy's bed and of course keeps an already worn-out mommy and daddy from sleeping.

Two wet beds b4 6AM. Cleanup. More cleanup. Dog never gets walked. Boy with dry bed throws up all over floor and seat at breakfast (but at least breakfast was on time). Nobody makes it outside for walk, exercise, or anything else fun. Rain again. Language study goes. Ok.

Caffeine consumption increases noticeably. Again.

Conclusion at end of day: semi-failure+exhaustion. Let's see it as the coffee cup half full. No wait. I already drank all the coffee in that cup. And the grounds at the bottom looked to have a bit of caffeine left in them so I chewed them up and swallowed. I'm kidding. I'm not THAT desperate. But I'm getting close.

Now, obviously having a schedule that is not totally accomplished is better than no schedule at all, because that way we can more accurately evaluate just how horrible of parents/missionaries/spouses/people-in-general  we really are, which always makes us feel better...

Just kidding of course. Even though we don't always manage to stick like glue to our (admittedly lofty) attempted schedule, it is a big help to keep us on track throughout the day.

And instead of feeling like we failed, we can try to see where we improved. (Ok fine, and also feel like failures at the same time, but hey, that's parenting. If you haven't failed in some aspect of parenting yet, it's because you do not yet have any children.)

Tomorrow is day 3 of the new schedule, I'm grinding the coffee beans up the night before so I am ready to go.

I love you, tomorrow.

Die Another Day. Perhaps tomorrow.

No wait. Tomorrow Never Dies.

The Day After Tomorrow. I think everybody died in that one.

Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. Everybody should have.

The fact that thinking up movie titles or themes with the word "tomorrow" is amusing to me right now means that I may already have lost it. Perhaps I never had it.

Oh, well. Tomorrow is another day.

 I can't hardly wait.

*Due to scheduling conflicts (get it? problems with the schedule?!? hehehe) this post is a couple days late. I'm happy to report that Operation: New Schedule is actually going surprisingly well. The children are adequately fed, usually dressed, and sometimes happy. Around here, we're gonna call that success.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

God & Coffee

Some days are more tired than others.

Do you ever have those days that frankly, you were tired when they began, exhausted as they progressed, and comatose by the time the sun went down?

It's been one of those days all week.

Sometimes, when I'm trying to focus on my language recordings, or on my conversation in a second language, or even on my conversation with my wife in my first language (whoops, better listen better) I start zoning out and the thinking part of my brain is already asleep.

The boys were up by 5:30 again this morning, as usual, yelling for me. I spent the next half hour getting breakfast ready,trying to keep the boys from waking up the rest of the household, reading a verse at a time out of my Bible, making coffee, sucking down coffee, and praying.

And then sucking down more coffee.

Then, it was time to take the kids for a run/walk, I got them ready, one boy decided to have a screamfest and ended up staying home--and I walked on. and ran. Then we ran together at the local grassy place. Then the second boy decided to start screaming. I exhort him to stop. No dice.

Exercise cut short. Run home.

I'm still trying to think in Visayan in my head as I do all these things, trying to see if I can describe what I'm doing. I run home, pushing my trio towards home.

Gadagan ko oban sa akong mga anak paingon sa among balay. Whoops, wrong language.English blog post. Here we go again.

The rest of the day is pretty much the same, study, separate screaming children, study, separate, repeat.

Then we go to a missionary supper thing, and within 3 minutes of sitting down the kids are done eating and I spend the rest of the meal shoving a bite in my mouth, running to check on the latest problem with the kids, taking another bite, picking up a playhouse worth of toys that somehow "flew" off the porch and ended up on the grass, and thankfully stealing the desserts that my children failed to eat.

I told them to stop throwing toys off the porch. So,they find some coconuts and I think they took those up on the porch, and then threw at least one of those off the porch too. I have to admit, I told them nothing about throwing coconuts.

And then, finally, I was laying in my kiddos room, trying to get them to go to sleep. If I leave, screaming.

If I lay down, giggling, gargling (with their water bottles) and general noisiness. I turn on my language recordings again and lay there, trying to be the good daddy/good missionary/good language learner/good grief, at the same time.

When I wake up, I am still in their bed, they are finally asleep, and my recordings have kept on playing.

I think I will count that all on my time sheet as study time. They say listening while asleep can be very effective.  Just kidding.

My children are still asleep, I am somewhat awake, and I am going to go to bed now.

Sometimes I feel like my life is held together by God and a whole lot of COFFEE. But that's ok.

Good night.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Double Dead

So, where we live, they have a term: "Double Dead." It means that the meat you are buying was not only chopped up into bloody bits, it was dead before the butcher got his blade in on the action.

Basically, the deceased animal died from some hideous bovine infection, or swinely flu, depending on the type of meat. And then it got sold for food. This, thankfully, is illegal, but that don't mean it don't happen...It was on local news just the other night.

Anyway, we try to avoid Double Dead as much as possible. It just seems like overkill to us.

But, as we were discussing this, while Brooke was making burgers one day, we realized we had come up with our own version of near-lethal unhealthiness on a plate: The Four-Way Burger.

We hardly ever buy beef here, because it's normally really expensive. So we use pork. Basically, this a way to make a pork burger taste really, really good.

 We didn't say good for you.

What does "Four-Way" stand for? Why, four kinds of fat in one burger, my friend.
First, Brooke, my personal chef, takes ground pork, and adds bits of bacon to it. Two kinds of fat so far.

Then, she cooks it, (perfectly, I might add) and on goes cheese, (for those who don't know, that is loaded with fat) and then, the Healthy fat for the day: Avocado!

It is probably three days worth of my RDA of lard in one meal. And it's amazing.

 I am normally the Condiment King. The more ketchup, mustard, and bbq sauce the better. I ate these burgers sans extra unnecessary flavors, because there was soo much flavor in the burger! I didn't even use ketchup. That's a first for me.

Double-Dead? Ha. That's nothing. We've got it 4 Ways!

Hmm...I hear they have a Peanut Butter Burger somewhere out East...Maybe we should make it a 5-Way...

(Disclaimer: we do not approve of too much fat in your diet. We eat these burgers very seldom. If our health insurance company is reading this, please don't drop our coverage. We eat heart-healthy oatmeal for breakfast all the time. We love these burgers, but please enjoy responsibly and at your own risk.)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Motorcycle Rides

A favorite activity around here.  :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Super Yummy Pretzels

We LOVE a good, salty soft pretzel. When we can, we go to the pretzel shop. But,when the closest soft pretzel shop is a jet airplane ride away...this recipe comes in handy.

It's designed for a bread maker, but you could do it the old-fashioned way if you are the bread maker in your house.
All four kiddos love 'em.
Makes 12.

1 cup water, room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
1 Tablespoon light brown sugar, firmly packed
3 1/4 cups bread flour (I just use all purpose)
2 1/4 teaspoons yeast
2 cups water
2 Tablespoons baking soda
Place the water, salt, brown sugar, flour and yeast in the order listed (do not add the 2nd amount of water or bakings soda) in the bread pan. Choose the Dough program.

When the cycle is completed...mine takes about 1 1/2 hours. Remove dough and transfer to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll each ball into a thin rope. Twist dough into a pretzel shape and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover with a dish towel...and allow to raise. Depends on how hot it is...30 minutes to 1 hour.

Stir the 2 cups of water and baking soda together in a small bowl.

Place a sauce pan filled with water over high heat and bring to a boil. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Once pretzels have risen and water comes to a boil... Carefully, place the pretzels in the boiling water (the recipe says to do it 1 at a time...but I do 3 at a time)...boil for 3 minutes....flipping after 1 1/2 minutes.. Allow pretzels to drain on a wire cooling rack. Dip each pretzel into the stirred baking soda solution and place on a prepared baking sheet. I sprinkle on a little coarse salt at this point. Bake in the oven until dark and golden, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Our Little Ballerina

It's Ballet Day! Summer vacation is almost over here in the Philippines, so summer ballet class is finishing up.

To end their summer with flair (very important to any ballerina) the class had a recital to show what they learned.
Asia's group performing.
The whole class dancing together. Asia really worked hard for 1 1/2 months, 5 days a week at ballet practice. It was really fun to see her keep working at something and do her best!
Asia with her class. She was in "The Playmates" group.
This is Asia with her friend, Angel.  Some of her other classmates were: Princess, Precious & Queenie.

I'm feeling like Asia is suddenly a boring name.
Asia with her teacher Chiqui (pronounced "Cheeky").
Asia with her friend Riley.

Asia took ballet lessons on and off when we lived in Manila. When we moved to our new location, we looked and asked around, but there was no ballet class available in our town.

Asia REALLY wanted to do ballet again, and we prayed and hoped for a long time that she might be able to. God answered our prayers with a summer ballet school! She has really enjoyed it, and I thought she might be getting tired of it, because there are 5 classes a week.

But she was very sad that it's over and did NOT want ballet to end. 

We're so proud of our young ballerina! She definitely adds some flair and fanciness to our lives.

Asia's Ballet Debut

Ok, so we're not putting the jobs of any current prima ballerinas in jeopardy. But it was awesome to see Asia work so hard at something 5 days a week for a month and a half, and have it pay off!

 She made some new friends, and had a great time.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Flashback Friday: Deep Fried Mushrooms in Taiwan

When you're living in Taiwan, the cool thing to do (at least for us) was to drive our 125 Kymco scooter as far back into the mountains as we could.

On the weekend, we would saddle up together and ride! No kids, no responsibilities, just us, the road, and an under-powered pre-owned one-cylinder scooter.

It was freedom.

And, one of our favorite things to do on the way was to stop at this fried mushroom stand.
The mushrooms were inexpensive, deep-fried, and absolutely delicious. Especially after some long hours in the saddle on the scooter.
I can almost taste them now. Those things were really frikin' good. I miss Chinese food.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The DaddyFit Diaries: A Tale of Two Races

It was the best of runs, it was the worst of runs, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the spring of sprinting, it was the autumn of unmet expectations.

We had 5 kilometers before us, we had no one behind us.

It was the 5-K of my fantasy, it was the race of my regret.

Anyway, to make a long story short (too late), in the last month or so I have run two 5-K's.

And they were both Very different.

The first one, I looked at as nothing but a warm-up for getting ready to reach my running Goals .

And, when it was over, I was fairly shocked that I accidentally reached my first goal.

I didn't even look at my time the entire race, just at my heart rate, and I broke 21 minutes.

Sweet! The fat old dad still has legs! I proudly thought to myself.

For the next 5-K, my kids decided to get up before 5 AM for the entire week or so before the race, and I was basically exhausted before I even got to the start line. I ran hard, but it was a very hilly course, and then my Heart Rate Monitor malfunctioned, and I ended up way slower.

In the last half of the race, I traded places multiple times with a kid who looked like he was born when I was in college (and he probably was). Finally, I thought I had him, couldn't see him, then out of nowhere he blazed past me in the last 200 meters and I had nothing left in my 3.7 decade old legs. He beat me.

But, I actually got a 9th place medal! If that sounds like a joke, well, I guess it sort of is, but it's also true. (Hey, they don't have age group medals here like they do in the USA, so I look at it as an age group victory!) How's that for rationalization?!?

And, most importantly, over the course of preparing for and running these races, I learned (or was really reminded) of some things:

5. Racing really is great motivation to exercise regularly. (Online race times are as close to eternal as you can get on earth)

4. A Heart Rate Monitor (when it works and when used right) is super helpful for non-elite runners like moi.

3. An Mp3 player really helps you forget how much it hurts.

2. Making coffee the night before, and putting it in a disposable water bottle with a bit of milk for the night in the fridge makes for a great cold caffeine shot in the AM that I can take with me to drink before the race.

and, #1: The kids think daddy is cool when he runs races.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear ______,

Some friends in Africa have this Dear ______, feature on their blog...  It makes me laugh...and I love reading it every week.  Anyway...we thought we'd steal the idea from it gives us on outlet for our sarcasm. (And occasionaly some simply thankful and happy comments. Just to show we're not ONLY sarcastic.)

Barista at my Local Coffee Shop, When I ask for an extra shot in my that so difficult to understand?  Please put it in my cup instead of giving it to me on the side.  And, by the way...why do you look at me like I'm crazy when I tell you not to put sugar or cream in it?  I just want a good, strong cup of coffee.  Am I asking too much?

Pool Employee, I am assuming it was just an oversight when you walked past the young boy peeing into the concrete swan next to the pool on your way to scold my children for playing in the water fountain.

ROTC that runs past my house at 5:30 AM EVERY Saturday morning chanting and multiple times during the week, Could you please choose a different road this Saturday? Thank you.

Little Boys that Constantly Torment our Dog, One day he will be free…and you will be too slow.

Asia's Ballet Teacher, why did you text me to say that class will start an hour early…and then, show up 20 minutes late…

Ballet Teacher(Again), When you switch the class time to 8 AM…again…but don’t tell ½ of your students…it’s just as bad as coming late. 

Cousin that sent us some Starbucks Coffee, We are nominating you for Sainthood. 

Language Helpers (and everyone else who is willing to listen and smile at our fumbling attempts at the Visayan language)....THANK YOU!

Neighbor, When you arrive home late at night, and little children everywhere (including mine) are already sleeping, do you think you could limit your ear-shattering-horn-blowing-to-get-someone-to-open-your-gate to 10 seconds or less? Thank you.

Avocados, I'm so thankful you are in season.  Who knew there were so many things you could eat guacamole on?

CIty that we live in, You are fun and friendly and fairly small and we love you!
Power Company, it's been one week since we've had a brown-out. We love this, but is it for real?  After almost 3 months of daily power outages...We don't want to get our hopes up.

Fever and Coughs, (that 3 of our 4 children have) It's been a week. We've been polite and let you stay. Now please, please, go away.

Barista(Again), I think perhaps part of the reason that you cannot hear me is that small object in your ear connected to the mp3 player in your pocket. Perhaps if it is removed, we would be able to have our conversation about my coffee.

Brian, Perhaps we should be less sarcastic...or, maybe not!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


I've been wanting to write about exhaustion for some time now, but I was just too tired. Now, I'm still tired. but at least I can feel like I accomplished something.

As I once again start my day before the sun, because my boys couldn't possibly lay in their beds and relax, they have to start fighting once again, I feel my shoulders slump just a little.

Life, frankly, can be tough. I make my way through the day, navigating the cultural whirlpools and grammatical rapids, vocabulary waterfalls and synonym tsunamis....(how was that for vivid language-learning imagery? I thought it was cool, but maybe I'm just tired)...By the end of the day, I don't have much left in the tank.

My wife and I talk about this---one of our big concerns is, we work all day on doing ministry and keeping our children from starting World War III in the basement, and sometimes it seems like there's not a lot left for God and Spouse.

We truly believe we are where God wants us to be right now. But that doesn't make it easy.

One thing that has in a way helped (but could also just freak us out) is learning more about Missionary Stress. There have been studies about the long-term effects of major stress, and it's an important thing to think about. (It's not just for missionaries, I know that military families, those who have lost a job, loved one, or are going through sickness or other hard times could benefit from understanding how stress can affect the body)

The blog post  Just how Stressed are Missionaries?  gives a good overview. Information on the long-term study is also available with the above article.

This is a quote from their post:

"In Holmes and Rahe’s original study, they found that if you reached a level of 200 on the scale in a year, the cumulative stress would have consequences for some time to come. In fact, they found that 50% of those who reached this level were hospitalized within two years. The reasons included heart attack, diabetes, cancer, and other severe illness.

If ever the level reached 300, the person was almost certain to end up in the hospital within two years...

The typical missionary had not just peaking levels above 300 – they had sustained levels over 300 – - – year after year.

The typical missionary, in fact, had double that level – 600 on the scale!"

Ok, that explains the tired parts of my life a bit.

But, regardless of location, we all deal with exhaustion. What do we do with it?

Well, in ourselves, apparently we are on a one way trip to the ER. We might as well make sure our passports aren't expired, buy some tickets and head back to the US tomorrow. Of course, traveling internationally with four little kids? That makes me tired just thinking about it.

But, we can't and shouldn't try to do our missionary job (or any job) in our own strength.

Colossians 1:11 NLT, kind of sums up what I need. Paul says: "We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with Joy."

Endurance. Patience. Joy.

God's got it. He's happy to share it. I need to ask for it.

Exhaustion may be a part of life---He's got the cure. But God isn't in the business of making life easy.

He makes it Possible.

Mother's Day: Past & Present

Just wanted to make this quick...and yes, I know I'm a few days late.  Hey, give me a break...I do have 4 young kiddos.  :)
So, without further ado...My Mother's days in pictures.
2007...Asia was born just a couple of weeks before.  I don't have a picture of me on Mother's Day...pretty sure I didn't have my act together by then...I was still just trying to survive at that point.
2008...Asia was 1 and I was pregnant with the boys.
2009...didn't get a picture of me with the 3 kids together...we just didn't have our acts together...yet again.
2010...don't have a picture from Mother's Day...this was a few weeks later...

Well, that's it...nothing exciting.  I love my kids.  The Lord uses them DAILY to keep conforming to the image of Christ and to keep me relying on Him and not trying to do things in my own strength. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

Flashback Friday: Lantern Festival, Taiwan

Taiwan is a place that never lacks for color. But when it's time for the annual Lantern Festival, it shines with thousands of lights in multi-colored splendor.

It happens every year in the first month of the Chinese lunar calendar. In 2013 that will be Feb 10.
There are smaller lanterns like these, lantern-making competitions, and the floating lanterns that work like a hot-air balloon and fly off into the night. We lived in Taiwan in the Year of the Sheep, so we also saw a huge sheep-shaped lantern. If you're ever in Asia around Chinese New Year time, get to Taiwan and light up your life!

Year of the Dragon is right now, but if you go in 2013, you will be sure to see lanterns coiled up in the shape of next years animal: The Snake!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The DaddyFit Diaries: Goals

Back when I was young and single and had all the time in the world, I used to make goals.

Because of my place in life, they could be fairly esoteric goals. The kind where you say, "If I aim for the moon and miss, I will still land among the stars!" Yay. Flowers and helium balloons for everybody.

My list of goals back then couldn't really be called a bucket list. A bucket would have overflowed.

It was more like a 55-gallon drum, full of dreams and ideas and fitness goals and unrealistic plans. Some of the top goals: everything from running the Athens Marathon to writing a New York Times Bestseller to working as a janitor in Antarctica, to getting married and having kids. Well, one out of 4 'aint bad.

Now, with 1 wife and 4 kids 5 and under, my goals have to be more like Houston, Mission Control.

 Mission Control goals go like this: "If I aim for the moon and miss, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin will be lost in space, run out of oxygen, and then they will die!"

In other words, if I don't make a very short list of very specific goals with action steps, all of them will be assimilated into the massive overcommitted Borg that is my life, and quietly disappear. (If you don't know what The Borg is, watch more Star Trek.)

Exercise goals are tough, because it's easy to push them onto the back burner of life.

If you want to make and accomplish goals, you have to figure out what your motivation is.

I can say: I don't want to be fat.

I want my wife to think I'm hot.

I want my kids to think I'm still the strongest man in the world.

Those all help. But they're too vague. I need Mission Control goals.

So, I have decided on 3. All those exercise and running mags say you should identify several specific goals to shoot for. That way, if you miss the moon, you at least have an Apollo 13's chance of making it back to earth alive, which is always a good secondary goal.
PR day, long ago. Only one baby. Brooke did the 5-K pushing Asia. (Well she did it with the twins also. They were in her tummy) Bro-in-law Brandon ran faster than I will ever run and got second place. Mom-in-law got second in her age group, so did I, and Brooke got a trophy for being the fastest stroller-pusher.
I like to run-- and I run 5-K's. My PR (Personal Record) was 20:23, and I did it back when we had 1 kid. Shockingly enough, having 3 more kids in rapid succession did nothing for my running speed, and I still haven't come close to that time again. But, I would like to.

So here are the goals for 2012: First goal: Run a sub-21 minute 5-K. (I figure having three more kids may have slowed me down for good. Let's be realistic here.)

Second goal: Break my PR. That would be awesome. but not easy.

Third goal: Break 20 minutes. That would be beyond awesome, as well as not super likely. But, we can always dream. Seeing "19" on the clock would rather cool.

To do these things, I have to work a lot on my overall fitness, and obviously I have to run as much as I can. And, if I can use these goals as motivation to exercise when I would rather roll over and play Dead Daddy, I have already won. Sort of.

Our lives are super busy. I only have minutes a day to exercise to make this work. I gotta be efficient.

I'm pretty curious as to whether I can actually be faster than my pre-4-kid-family self.

This should be interesting. Of course, the funny thing is, even if I reach my ultimate goal, I will still be like 6 minutes slower in a 5-K than a really good runner. That means when I have about a mile left to go, the pros are already done. (Sigh.)

Does that make my goals meaningless? Well, sort of, but...No! Not really. The biggest competition in your life is you! Carpe curso! (I think that sort of means "seize the run" but it's probably really bad Latin)

I am running against that long-haired cocky punk that is my younger high-school self, and running to stay semi-in-shape for the beautiful family God has given me. And running to try to forget that I graduated from high school almost (gasp) 20 years ago. All good reasons.

Next week: First Race of the Year....I'm excited already!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Yogurt in 10 Minutes or Less

I used to think that making yogurt was this huge deal. 

According to the recipes I have found online...I must heat some milk to 180 degrees...then, cool it down to 112 degrees...before adding my starter.  It required a thermometer and everything must be sterilized and exact.  People swear by Easiyos, etc.  I'm telling do NOT need all that extra stuff.   

After experimenting with the easiest and cheapest ways of doing it...this is what I've come up with. 

All you need: jars(or containers), a cooler, milk powder, room temperature water, yogurt starter or plain store bought yogurt, and boiling water.

Making around 4 quarts of yogurt takes me about 10 minutes or less.  And if I can do can you!!!

First, I get some water boiling...which I'm going to use to pour into the, I just need a couple of quarts.  Waiting for the water to boil is going to be the thing that takes the, do NOT watch the pot.
Then, I make my milk...using powdered milk...I add 3 cups of milk 2 quarts of water.  I use Anchor Full Cream milk...because that's what I have in my that is what the kiddos drink.  I use just regular room temperature water...and mix it all up.

I just experiemented with a powdered milk drink mix...which I was VERY skeptical about...and it totally worked.  I couldn't believe it isn't really pure powdered milk...but a mix...with lots of additives like 3 types of sugar and 5 types of oil...and uses skim milk.  But it's what most people here in the Philippines buy because it's cheaper.  It's not what I would use to make for our family...but it worked.

Also, for those of you who can use regular cow milk...I've heard it's best to add a few tablespoons of powdered it thickens better.  I would like to try experiementing with regular milk...but first, I'd have to convince Brian to let me buy it's quite expensive here.
To the milk I add about 1/2 cup to 1 cup of yogurt.  Honestly, I don't measure...I just use some of my leftover yogurt from a previous batch...(so, basically, I use whatever the kids and Brian haven't eaten yet.) 

If you are using a powdered starter...just follow the directions on the package.  Generally, a package is for 1 liter of milk.  If  you are using a store bought plain yogurt as your starter...I have heard that you may need to use more.

I mix the milk and yogurt(or yogurt starter) together really well.
Then, I pour that into some jars.  I don't sterilize them or anything...I just make sure they are clean. Then, I put the lids on and give them a good shake.
I place the jars in a cooler....and dump some boiling water into the cooler...until the water is about 1/2 way up the jars...whatever...It's not exact.  :)  I have a nifty hot water pot that boils water REALLY fast.
Then, I put the lid you like my cooler?  My friend gave it to reminds me of her everytime I use it.   

Wait anywhere from 7 to 10 hours...I've even waited up to 12...(if I am making it overnight.)  I think it depends on the size jar you use...and how hot of water you use.  The longer you leave it...the thicker and more tart it gets...but you can't leave it too long or it completely sours.  You'll just have to see how you like it.
And you'll have creamy homemade yogurt.
We either add some fruit(mango) or honey...or put on top of granola and then, chow down.

Ok, takes longer than 10 minutes to you have to leave it for many hours...but it only takes about 10 minutes of work.

Not only is it loaded with probiotics; but as Asia says, "It's like a magical dream come true!"

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Cat in the Hat: What's Wrong With That?

The book I am reviewing is called The Cat in the Hat
Now why, do you ask, should I have a problem with that?

Well, this book is not good, this book is not right, you should not read this book to
your children every single night.

The hero of this story walks into a home
where he is a stranger and there are children alone.

The hero of this book
The hero of the day
should be that grouch of a fish who
always has something grouchy to say

But the fun ones in this story are those annoying Things in red
Who make a disaster of the house and make a mess of the bed

Dr. Seuss or Mr. Geisel, whichever you prefer,
All I can say is,
What were you thinking, sir?

There is a rumpus in the Rec room and some kites flying through the door
There is food and furniture flying and stuff left all over the floor

And then in the end of this rampage, is there personal responsibility ahead?


Mr. Cat in the Hat brings in his Thingamajigger and cleans up everything
including the bed.

No, that is not right, that is not good.
It is not so easy to clean up a house, I hope that is understood.

Mr Fish
Yes you,

The misunderstood minnow swimming there in a half-full pot.

It's ok. I applaud you.

I appreciate you a lot.
The end.

Ok, just kidding. I like Cat in the Hat and Dr. Seuss as much as the next kid. Just saying. Sometimes when I read kid's books and old fairy tales, I'm like...what kind of a moral does this story bring?

Just some thoughts to think about if you are in the mood for thinking.

Friday, May 4, 2012


Back when the twins were just born, Brian decided to blog about "The Real 24" back in March 2009. A series on 24 hours of our life while raising two newborns and a toddler.

Things have changed since then, but every 24 hours is definitely still an adventure around here.

Frankly, it's not too exciting and definitely NOT glamorous.  But in an effort to be always be real...I thought I would share what a "typical" day in my life was like.

Grab a huge cup of coffee...and enjoy!

My life isn't nearly as exciting as Jack Bauer's...but here is my "normal" 24...

5:10…Wake up to the boys screaming their full heads off. Somehow, Skye ended up in our bed last night…

5:30…Check email, FB, etc.

5:50…Get some laundry started…after realizing that Asia doesn’t have any clean tights to wear to ballet.

6 AM…breakfast for the kiddos… homemade yogurt and oatmeal… Asia says, “It’s like a magical dream come true.” I love this age…it takes sooo little to impress them.
6:20…Jump in the shower

6:40…Try to get some breakfast for myself…but Skye insists that her hair must be done!!! Life cannot go on! And there MUST be a bow.

6:50…Breakfast for myself…scrambled eggs & Gauc(avocados are in season).

7:15…Text a friend to see if I need to pick up her daughter for ballet…as her husband is a pilot and she often needs to flight follow for him…which means she has to sit by the radio the whole time.

7:20…Time with God…only interrupted 50 times(ok…that may be a slight exaggeration…but not much)…Poor Asia doesn’t know what to wear b/c she doesn’t have clean tights… I know, I know…Bad Mom Award!

7:45…Tights into dryer(Yes, I know that you aren’t supposed to put tights in the dryer…but desperate times call for desperate measures.)…Try to do Asia’s hair…but she decides she HAS to go to the bathroom…get snack ready…contemplate the merits of buying Asia another pair of tights…will it help…or will it just enable me to go longer between washing clothes…and I’ll still have the same problem.

8 AM…School with Asia…the letter P…which I find ironic…as P is also the letter of the day for our blog post.

8:30…Give my helpers instructions for while I’m gone…finish getting Asia ready…

8:40…Brian gets back from walking with the other 3 kiddos…and Asia and I leave 4 her ballet class…Talk to a lady for a few minutes…who doesn’t seem to believe that I have 4 kiddos. Watch Asia’s ballet, listen to Visayan recordings and chat with another missionary there with his daughter.
I either walk everywhere or ride on one of these called a "Rella".

Our kids love to ride on Rellas!
Asia trying to follow her teacher!
10:10…Home from ballet…Give the kiddos another snack…chat with my helpers…one of them brought us a snack to try…lutiya…kind of like a very dry sweet potato... Get some veggies ready for lunch… My helper already chopped the kalabasa (squash)… and shelled the bana(a type of lima beans that my language helper gave me yesterday). I decide to roast the squash in the oven and cook the lima beans with a little bacon.
10:30…Brownout…oh, wait…it only lasted a minute. Time to do “school” with the boys…this week we are focusing on the color Green. They are making bracelets…to also practice using their fine motor skills…I pick up about a million(another slight exaggeration) beads off the floor. But they are having a blast…so, that’s ok.

11 AM…need to write some emails…but the internet isn’t working…I start thinking about a list of things Brian needs to buy in Manila when he’s there… Interrupted by screaming from the playroom…yes, the boys are fighting AGAIN. I am limited in what he can buy because he is limited by time…only time to shop is at night because he’s in meetings all day…and he only has 3 nights…plus, he also needs to see some friends.

11:30…Snuggle on the couch & read to Skye…haven’t spent much time with her so far today…
Baby girl loves to be read to!
11:50…Make sure lunch is ready to go…Ate Tata made Pork BBQ on a stick…. They tell me how apparentIy I bought the wrong kind of kalabasa…I need to buy a yellow one(called Labo) instead of the green…the yellow is old and more delicious…while the green is young and not… So, they teach me the correct thing to say at the market…to make sure I get the right one next time… Geez…I don’t even know how to buy the right kind of squash here.

Noon…Lunch…less chaotic than usual...

12:25…I put Skye down for a nap and corral the other 3 into 1 room for “quiet” time…otherwise known as body slamming hour…it’s not really quiet…but at least they aren’t running around the house.  Internet is still not working…

12:30…I take a break…praying to God that Brian is making coffee…and he literally walks in the room with a mug for me. YES, I KNOW…best husband EVER!!! Chat with Brian about when we are going to pay some bills and do some grocery shopping…pretty sure it’s the first I’ve talked to him ALL DAY. Discuss if I can go to coffee with other missionary ladies tomorrow to say goodbye to one who is headed back to the USA…as it is right in the middle of our language helping sessions. I will have to either try to change my time or cancel it altogether…Brian will have to try to do his session and watch the 4 kiddos… We decide to try to change my time…which means I also have to make lunch during it…I figure this is ok…as I am making spaghetti…and I can use it to later discuss the differences between Filipino and American spaghetti.

1 PM…Start listening to some Visayan recordings. Check the kids…nobody’s bleeding…YET. Make sure no one needs to go to the bathroom. Try to do some laundry…but the water pressure is too low and my machine won’t work. Start to put some laundry away that’s beginning to pile up…five minutes later…Brian yells…a little boy peed all over the floor. Clean that up…and finish putting laundry away.

1:20…Start planning what I am going to do during my language helping session later this afternoon…but am interrupted by kids yelling that THEY NEED A DRINK. Finally, get some stuff for my session printed out.

1:40…the kids are yelling again…IS NAPTIME OVER YET????? I give them drinks…and ask if anyone needs to go to the bathroom…one of them does. I get back up to my room…and someone is yelling again… I NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM!!!

1:50…internet is still not working…I try to figure out if it’s a problem with us…or our internet provider… it’s working again…not sure if I fixed it…or if it just started working again. Kids yelling again….but I try to ignore it…  Yes, I know…Another Bad Mom Award.

2:15…let the kids up from their “quiet” time… And sit back down to try to finish an email… Slater decides he MUST have a snack… Give them snack…and finish the email. Start prepping some pictures for today’s blog post…

2:30…Try to do more laundry…but still too low of water pressure… Check the kids…make sure nobody needs to go to the bathroom. Leif needs more paper to color on…Get that for him… And discover that Slater has dumped his snack all over the floor… He gets banished to the kitchen…and I clean up the floor.

2:50…My language helper shows up…Brian gets home from his session…and guess what…a little boy peed all over the floor AGAIN! Skye wakes up…change her poopy diaper…hand her to Brian…and I head out the door.

3 to 5 PM…Language helping session…I decide to go to a little coffee shop down the street as our office has been torn up since Sunday…we had a shelf built…and they said it would be delivered on Sunday…So, on Sunday…we moved all the furniture to one side of the room…to make room for the shelf…it’s now Wednesday and it’s still hasn’t been delivered.

5 PM…Home again… I thankfully, have all my required language study hours in for the day…but a lot of it has been just listening to recordings…so, I plan to spend time focusing on Grammar and doing some memory tomorrow. Brian says that they finally delivered the shelf and I decide I’ll clean up the office once the kiddos go to bed. I need to get supper going…Serve yogurt again…as I have an overabundance after my experimenting yesterday…of making yogurt 3 different ways…we also have some bread with mungo bean stuff inside that our helper bought for snack…and mandarin oranges… So thankful we already had our big meal today.

5:30...Brian starts giving kids baths…as I clean up supper, wash dishes and straighten up the house.

5:50 PM…Bed time…Slater insists that he must sleep with Mater…as Leif has McQueen…So, I head to the playroom and dig through the toys to find Mater. I read the boys their Bible story…they want the one about the fish…with the coin in it’s mouth.  And they want to sing “My God is sooo Big”. We pray together…and Leif thanks God for his scooter and puzzles, donuts(which we haven’t had in a long time) and for YOGURT!

6:05…The boys are down and Brian is reading to the girls….I finish cleaning up the house.

6:15…I sit down and put pictures into blog for tonight…so all Brian has to do is write it.

6:20…Brian’s done reading to the girls…so, I tell Asia goodnight and take Skye to the basement…she always needs some extra cuddling before bed…So, we watch tv and she chatters non-stop.

7 PM…I turn off the tv and head up to put Skye to bed. The power goes out…AGAIN…and I wonder how long this is going to last. Put Skye down…but due to a long nap…she is not sleepy yet… Brian gets her back up and takes a turn with her.

7:15…I jump in the shower…cold cuz there is no power… Normally, I HATE cold showers but this one feels good because no power = no fans and it has been sooo hot today.

7:25…guess my plans for the evening are going to change…I had planned on putting the office back in order…but doing so while holding a flashlight doesn’t sound appealing. Also, hoped to chill with Brian for a date night and watch a movie…but apparently, that is also not going to happen. So, I decide to crawl into bed and read…for fun(gasp).

7:45…Skye still not down…so, Brian puts her in bed with me…so he can grab a shower…and of course, she immediately falls asleep.

8:15….I decided that maybe having no power is God’s gift to me…and it means that I can’t do what I planned to do…but I can get some extra sleep.

8:45…I’m still awake…Brian moves Skye to her bed…while I listen to a guy outside walking down the road selling balut.

9 PM…still not asleep. I contemplate the reasons for this.

1. WAY too much coffee: I resolve to drink less coffee tomorrow(if possible)

2. It’s HOT.

3. I’m hungry…I realize I only ate a couple of bites of yogurt for supper…but we don’t have much in the way of snacks…because we really need to go grocery shopping when we can find a time to do it…and I can’t open the fridge…because I have no idea when the power will come back on.

4. After running around like crazy all day…it takes me a while to settle down

5. I keep thinking about everything I have to do tomorrow. Btw…Asia doesn’t have any clean tights…AGAIN…due to low water pressure and no power…definitely buying her another pair of tights whenever I get a minute to run to the store. I think about washing them by hand…but decide that if worse comes to worse…she can just wear them dirty tomorrow…I know, I know…Bad Mom Award…yet again!

9:15…Decide to read for a little while…hoping to make myself sleepy.

9:30…I fall asleep sometime after this point…

10 PM…the power comes back on…and I jump up…to turn off a couple of lights that got left on and to start some laundry… I eventually go back to sleep…and pray that it will be restful…because my day will start all over again at 5 AM.

At some point I hear a kid screaming…and kick Brian… He gets him…as he knows that I have a hard time going back to sleep if I have to get up….apparently, Leif fell out of his bed.

Well, there it busy, and non-glamorous life...trying to get language study in while taking care of the Fantastic Four...all the while trying to work around power outages and low water pressure.  

Well, that's our super-exciting life. Hope you didn't fall asleep mid-sip while drinking your coffee and reading this.