Hard Easy

There are two ways to raise a child.

You can do it the Easy-Hard way, which is to roll along, give your child his way because he is young and “doesn’t know better”, keep him from crying by handing out cookies, don’t put demands on him to behave well or follow the family rules or contribute. Pick up after him. Do everything for him and expect nothing of him. Don’t teach him to use tools or cut with a knife or carry something to the table, because he might get hurt or break something. Do it yourself and save the mess. Easy. It makes for less stressful times, because a child who gets his way doesn’t pitch fits very often.

The other way is Hard-Easy. It starts out with a bang—rough-riding!  It takes lots of energy to train and teach and persuade and correct, and urge and work side-by-side with and expend lots of effort on polishing your little rough-edged baby-child into a smooth diamond. You’ll have to learn to ignore tantrums.  You’ll have lots of exhausting “let-me-show-you-how” and “work-with-me” instruction sessions. You’ll have to model being happy yourself and smile and take a proactive role in loving him. It takes creativity, patience and energy  to teach a little one how to behave politely, to follow family rules, to pick up after himself, to pull his weight, to respect his elders, to control his emotions and more. There will be cut fingers, broken dishes and messes while he is learning. Hard.

The Easy-Hard way goes along breezily for a few years, maybe even 6 or 8 years, and Mama is serving her child devotedly and life is relatively smooth. The child isn’t developing any skills, and doesn’t have much self-confidence as a result.  And the child senses that he is more a liability than an asset to the family. He just wants to have fun and indulge himself and is glad that Mom is picking up after him and doing the cooking, cleaning, toy-buying, driving him here and there, and still handing out cookies to shut him up. He wants bigger treats, more fun, and complains a lot. Mom feels worn out and wishes for school to start (or summer camp) to get the little demon out of her hair. It is getting hard!

As the child grows, the Hard-Easy method continues to be quite a job for Mom.  But her child is gaining some skills gradually, and the messes are diminishing a smidgen. When Daddy comments on how good the pancakes are, and the 8-year-old beams and proudly says, “I made them all by myself”, there is some honest-to-goodness self-etsteem and confidence brewing. Mom now has a helper, and an eager learner who wants to gain his parent’s skills and knows he is a contributing family member. Self-control has increased, since the crying and tantrums didn’t do anything but wear him out. He can clean a bathroom, help with dinner, work side-by-side with Dad in painting the kitchen and scheme how to spend his carefully earned money. This child is a joy to Mom and she is proud of him. Guess what?  Easy is starting to show its face.

You’re guaranteed to get both the “easy” and the “hard” part of parenting when you raise a child.

Which one do you want to tackle first?

Which direction do you want your child pointing as he moves into adolescence?

Please leave a comment here.  Thanks!!!



Growing Garlic

Today we had an abundant garlic harvest! I think garlic is the easiest crop to grow. Here’s how:

1.  Plant cloves of garlic in the garden in the fall time, first time around.

You can use grocery store garlic, and separate the bulb into cloves and plant them, point side up. You will probably have better success if you buy garlic at a local farmer’s market so you know it works in your climate. Plant nurseries have them too.  Once you get garlic going, it will replant itself every fall by producing little bulbs on top the seed stalks.  These dry and drop into the soil for next year’s crop, or you can collect them and plant them wherever you want.

2. Leave them in the ground when winter comes.

3. Enjoy their bright green presence when spring comes and all else is not yet growing.

Garlic will send up an artistic-looking curling seed stalk in late spring or early summer.  You can cut and eat these shoots when they are very young and tender, like green onions or chives.  Or you can put them in a vase with a flower arrangement. Or you can let them grow and set seed. The garlic cloves down in the soil actually grow around this central seed stalk (rather than through them, like onions). Experiments have shown that allowing the seed stalk to grow gives better garlic yields.

4. Slide them out of the ground in mid-summer when the bottom set of leaves turn brown.

Leave a few in the ground to go to seed (tiny bulbs on top will dry and drop into the soil) to make new garlic plants next season.

6. Braid them, after a fashion, and hang them up in the garage to dry.

If you live in a cold winter zone, you’ll grow “hardneck” garlic (which don’t really braid into those pretty Italian garlic braids of “softneck” mild-winter garlic varieties).  But we kind of braid it anyway.

7.  Enjoy fresh garlic all year long.


Louisa and her enormous garlic braid!


Whipped Cream Words

We’ve lapsed into being a bit grouchy at my house sometimes. And it isn’t fun. I’m not sure how or why, but we all decided that we needed to stop it!

Talking about stopping it worked just fine while we were talking about it and we were all full of resolve to do better.  But then life went on and we all forgot.

One morning we were all sitting at the breakfast table reveling in a most delicious and decadent breakfast made by Louisa while we were out harvesting the garden.  She called us in to enjoy whole grain French toast made with our farm fresh chicken eggs, and topped with cubed mangoes and strawberries—crowned with a generous dollop of naturally sweetened whipped cream.  YUM!  The sunshine was streaming through the open door, the trees outside were swaying in the morning breeze . . . and all was right with the world.  Ummm . . . whipped cream. Sweet and satisfying, delicious and soft.  Everybody loves whipped cream.

Then it dawned on us that whip cream is exactly what we wanted!  We wanted that soft and sweet, delicious feeling of whipped cream in our home, in our communications. That did it!  ”Whip cream” became our code word!

Later, at that very same breakfast, someone relayed some less than pleasing information and I turned to talk to the offender in a very reasonable voice (I thought), which they thought was a scolding voice.

“Whip Cream” they politely said.

I immediately “got it” and reworded my accusation into a sweet and soft question.  I prefer whip cream to caustic acid.

We are all trying to talk in whip cream tones now. It’s working!

Sometimes one of us doesn’t even recognize it when someone requests “Whip Cream” in respond to our less-than-gentle words, so we made a resolve to buy one of those aerosal cans of whipping cream at the store. If someone doesn’t respond to the “Whip Cream” code word, then a taste of the real stuff will help remind him to keep his words soft and sweet!

We all like whip cream words much better.


Please leave your comment here.  Thanks!


What God Gave You Time For


All our grandchildren! Abigial, Isaac, Christian, Rachel, Rebekah, Elizabeth, Joseph

“Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling . . . It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.”

—Rachel Jankovic


Zip Your Lips and Write Yourself a Note

That’s the best parenting advice I can give  . . . and I wish I’d learned it when I was a young mother!

What is your reaction when . . .?

*Your daughter comes out of her room wearing something you think is immodest . . .

*You discover your sewing scissors rusting outside in the sandbox . . .

*You are late for an appointment and your gas tank is empty, courtesy of your teen driver . . .

Well, I hope your reaction is better than mine was as a young mother!  It is so natural to want to see justice done and to be loud about it too! When children are very small, immediate (calm) correction is necessary to match their short memories, but as they grow older, the very most effective reaction is to zip your lips and write yourself a note.  Truly!

If you don’t zip your lips, you might say things that you wish you could take back and you will model reactive behavior you never wish to see repeated. More importantly, the child you are lecturing may go deaf or claim innocence: “it wasn’t me.”  Anyone pushed in a corner will try to wriggle out. No one likes the hot seat, adult or child.

If you don’t write yourself a note, you might forget to do the proper and much needed teaching once your emotions have cooled down.  Life moves on and it won’t be a priority unless you make it so. Being too lax is quite as bad as being over-reactive. Make sure you give fair consequences and teach the lessons your children need to have reinforced, for their sake.

The time for discussing modest clothing choices is a week or more later when your daughter is dressed modestly and the incident has been forgotten. Then the air is clear, there is no need for defensiveness, hearts are more open.  Don’t reference the incident, just teach in the most inspired, memorable and interesting method possible: a story, a movie, a scripture . . . anything that will touch her heart—without pointing a finger of blame.

The time to deal with consequences on the rusty sewing scissors is later.  Am I saying that it is right to just let it go, not set it right in the heat of the moment when all the facts and evidence are clear?  Yes, that’s what I’m saying. There is something in us that aches for justice!  And setting it right punctuated with exclamation points seems justified and satisfying!  By writing myself a note, I can keep quiet but reassured that the price will be paid, that no one is getting away with anything here, that I am exercising wisdom and will definitely be applying consequences later, when I have a level head and can approach it calmly.

A child who makes a mistake needs better skills. He is in need of instruction and consequences.  Not fireworks.  Modeling being in-control is a great blessing we can give our family.


Piña Colada Sorbet, Sugar-Free

Fresh and fabulous, this icy dessert can be made entirely from storage items in your pantry!

Piña Colada Sorbet

  • 1 can (20 oz.) pineapple tidbits in juice, drain and reserve juice
  • 1 tablespoon coconut milk
  • 5 cups milk (can use 10 tablespoons instant dry milk powder + 4 1/2 cup water)
  • Sugar-free sweetener (liquid stevia and/or xylitol)
  • Optional:  shredded sugar-free coconut, macadamia nuts

Mix pineapple juice, coconut milk and milk whisking until blended. Dry milk works just fine in this recipe and tastes great. Add sweetener until it tastes sweet enough to your taste. We used 3 tablespoons of xylitol and 3 “squirts” of liquid stevia.  (Remember, when things are hot or cold, they taste less sweet than at room temperature, so make it sweet enough.) Pour into an ice cream freezer and churn.  This recipe fits the 2 quart Cuisinart ice cream maker perfectly. When slushy, add pineapple tidbits.  Churn until firm, about 15-20 minutes.  Sprinkle with coconut and macadamia nuts.




So…What is Stem Cell Therapy?

Guess I am not the only one who didn’t really understand what stem cell treatment is about, and since many of you have asked for an explanation of Ammon’s treatment, here’s the scoop in simple terms—from my limited understanding!

All of us have stem cells in our body.  I erroneously thought stem cells had to do with the brain stem, but that’s not it at all.  A “stem” cell is like a basic building block in your lego set.  It is necessary basic unit that can be made into other things.  If you think about a seedling sprouting up in the garden, the stem comes first. Then it grows into leaves, more stem, flowers, and fruits.  But it all starts with a stem.

As new life is conceived, it is all about stem cells.  Those “basic blocks” go on to differentiate, becoming lung tissue or brain tissue or muscles or an eyeball.  Their versatility is what makes them so valuable.  In adult bodies, our stem cells exist to repair damage.  But when damage is too great, it can overwhelm the body’s self-healing ability.  That’s where additional stem cell treatments become a valuable aid.

The reason using stem cells is so controversial is that stem cells are derived from human embryonic tissue:  life conceived in the test tube for the purpose of harvesting stem cells. Growing babies to use for stem cell harvest is not a happy subject.  The source of the stem cell treatments Ammon received in Mexico were actually from fetuses of animals (lamb or cow) from Germany.   Our doctor pointed out that if you eat meat, using animal stem cells is not objectionable, as you already have accepted the idea of using animals to give your body life and strength.

Why did we have to go to Mexico?  Use of stem cell therapy in the United States has been plagued by controversy over the issue of embryonic harvesting.  You may know someone who is terminally ill who has received stem cell treatments in the US. Apparently it may be available for those in the final stages of a terminal illness, as a medical experiment.  My neighbor’s cancer was healed in this way.

How do these animal stem cells get into the body?  First, blood is drawn from the patient and spun to remove all but the plasma.  Then stem cells are mixed with the plasma and it is injected back into the body.  It can be injected at the local site of damage such as an injured hand or heart valve, or in the case of the brain for Ammon, it is injected in the big muscles (glutes).  The stem cells follow the trail of inflammation, going right to the source of the damage and beginning repair work.  You can tell they are working within hours!  Ammon talked and talked and talked, and didn’t sleep much for 3 or 4 nights after receiving the injections.  His brain was turning on!  We have seen amazing progress within the last week!

If you have had a baby at a hospital recently, you may have been given the option to have your baby’s umbilical cord frozen and maintained (for a fee). Umbilical cord blood and amniotic fluid are an abundant source of stem cells, and they are a perfect match for your child’s body in the event of future need.  I sure wish we had Ammon’s umbilical cord!

God can do a healing miracle any time He sees fit.  In the meantime, we are doing all we possibly can. Maybe He does His miracles in this way too.


Watching a Miracle


Louisa and Ammon clasp hands through an unusual tree in Mexico

We’re back!  We just returned from a trip to Mexico to get stem cell treatments for our son Ammon.  The U.S. doctors had done all that they could for him, and generally did not offer us hope—but one fine doctor was good enough to point us in the direction of stem cell treatments out of the country (they are not yet approved by the FDA), and we are so grateful!  It is amazing how open-minded one becomes when there are no other options.

Ammon is talking . . . and talking, talking, talking!  In fact, he talked most of the first four nights after receiving stem cell treatments!  We started to wish he’d sleep.  It feels to us as if his brain has awakened! He has talked and asked intelligent questions, and recalled little incidents and memories from the more-than-a-year that he lost from his memory.

For all the silent prayers and love and concern you’ve directed our way, thank you! God is good! We are joyfully watching a miracle unfold.


Come into My Garden

I know it is only May, still before our last frost date, but I’ve so enjoyed being outside, working in my garden.  It feels like a soothing therapy, and in fact it really is!  Sun, breeze, buzz of insects, fresh green growing things . . . how healing it is.

Come with me into my garden and I’ll show you what’s growing:

Here’s the first square foot garden bed I planted back in February and March, as the weather allowed.  It includes sugar snap peas, red leaft lettuce, garlic, radishes, swiss chard, green onions, spinach and more.  I’ve had to throw a blanket over it on cold nights, which is pretty easy when it is just a 4′ x 4′ box.

We’re already eating ripe strawberries from this 4′ square foot garden box that I filled completely with strawberries, then covered with a net so I wouldn’t have to compete with the robins.









One half of my garden is covered in square foot garden frames, and the other side I reserve for the big crops that need huge root space and love the heat of black plastic.  Here you can see I have started my tomatoes and zucchini. Since our land yields an abundance of rocks, I use rocks to hold the black plastic close to the soil so the seedlings can pop up through the hole I’ve cut.  The rocks also heat up the ground.  I keep old milk jugs, filled with water, next to my heat-loving crops to help them through cold nights.  The wire fencing tames sprawling crops like squash and melons encouraging them to grow up, rather than out, so I can still walk through the rows of my garden easily. Rocks, milk containers, even logs keep the plastic down tight to the soil so seedlings can grow out of the plastic and so the wind doesn’t take hold of it.  Yep, that is a old carpet pathway between my black plastic beds.  If you buy the thicker black plastic, you can reuse it year after year.  The used carpet lasts forever and keeps my feet dry and clean so I can garden barefoot!

Last year’s green onions surprised me and bloomed this spring, and I was stunned at how beautiful and long lasting their flowers were!  I even cut them and put them in a vase on my table. Isn’t a lavender pom-pom just what you’d expect a green onion blossom to look like?  The bees love them!  I’ll collect the seeds (or let them drop and reseed themselves) for another green onion crop.

Can you see the grape vine that has twined itself up in this tree?  It’s a great place to grow grapes!

Ah, gardening season!  Feels like paradise to me.


Try White!




Therapy. That’s what gardening is to me right now. It is so satisfying to go out in the sun and breeze and put seeds into the soil and watch for every green sprout to bob its head up.  The whole family gravitates to the garden, to work together and to witness each new day’s transformation.  Right now our lilacs are in full and fragrant bloom, along with bright white snowballs, so pure against the vivid blue spring sky!  In the veggie garden, we are pulling big fat white radishes out of the barely warm soil.  Have you tried these?

White radishes are amazing!  They are fatter and faster to grow than red radishes.  They taste like a fresh pop of springtime, crunchy and refreshing, very mild tasting!  And, as always, they are the very first crop—ready to harvest just 3 weeks after you put the seeds in the ground!  Radishes are a very rewarding gardening experience for the impatient!

If you haven’t tried white radishes,  I think you will be delighted, especially if you don’t like radishes.  If you can locate the seeds for White Hailstone Radish, you’ll have the mildest, most delicious radish! Leave just one in the ground to go to seed: it will send up a big stalk and eventually flower.  By fall time the seed pods will be dry and you can pick them off before they burst open and store them in a paper sack.  You’ll have more than enough to plant your garden with next year’s radishes.  If some pods do burst open and reseed themselves, less work for you!

Rather than planting your whole seed packet at one time, plant a new bunch of radishes every week and you’ll have a continuous crop.  Radishes like cool weather with plenty of water. If you let red radishes dry out and stay in the ground too long, they’ll turn hot as fire.  These white radishes are very mild, but I haven’t tried them in a hot summer.  We’ll see how that works.

Only 2 calories per radish, yet high in vitamin C and fiber, the radish needs more respect. Plant some now, and you’ll be eating white radishes before you know it.