Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's the Big One

well, we had quite an exciting week here, with over 2 feet of snow falling on wednesday. everything in the city shut down and chris had 2 unexpected days off right before the christmas weekend (yay!) we all sat inside and watched the snow fall--an incredible amount, by our standards, and a big colorado welcome for grame and grandpa, who are moving here from california.

because we were all safe and dry, we were able to just enjoy the awesome display--fire up the teapot and wipe the condensation from the windows. the next day, we ventured out to see the snow and took the pictures of the boys in front of the drifts that are taller than they are. the snow blanketed everything with a coating of silence, and the cars on the busy street next to us were slow and quiet, so the boys could even play out on the street in front of our house. it's amazing how much difference a big storm can make.

being confined for two days made me grateful for many things...the ablility we normally have to come and go when we please, having my family safe and sound, having enough food to weather the storm, hot drinks. a husband with a goofy sense of humor. slippers. and children who remind me that icicles are for *eating*.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Where *Are* All Those Guys??

i have not posted for a while, and i will tell you that it is because i have made a stunning realization in the past few days--that is, that apparently those "santa's elves" i've been hearing about are really ME. that's right, it has taken me until i'm 30, but the sheer magnitude of holiday preparations has finally caught up to me.

it's not even that we are doing a crazy-extravagant holiday or anything. if you read my previous post about christmas, you know that i am somewhat disturbed by all the excesses that we are encouraged to engage in when giving at holiday time. in fact, i have been striving to do many of our gifts in a homemade way. which might be part of the madness, actually, given my genetic predisposition to procrastination.

also, this is the first year that we are having christmas in our new house, and the first year that the boys are old enough to really be excited. and in nicholas' case, it may be the first time that he really remembers christmas, now that he's 4. which means i really want things to be special.

so, here's to all the other santa's elves out there...i gotta hand it to you. i had no idea.

photo credit: Flickr/NoOtherOne

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Gluten Free Corn Dog

well, i just have to share this with you because i felt pretty cool. the other day for dinner i made these gluten-free corndogs for the boys for dinner. because, as all you savvy gluten-detectives know, corn dogs are normally NOT gluten free.....either the batter will have wheat flour in it, or the oil that they are fried in will be used to fry other gluteny things like chicken fingers or something.

it's not that the kids have had corn dogs all that often, it's just that its one of those fun kid-things that they would get to have when we were out somewhere, and it's those little things that kill me sometimes. if we end up staying with this diet for the long haul, there are going to be many many things that daniel will have to forgo, things that most kids don't think twice about...and that is hard to take (more for me than for him at this point--he's only 2 after all.) i know, i know, it's only food, but the truth is that food plays a big part in our lives, in our social interactions, and it is a big way that people nurture each other, for better or for worse. and the thought of daniel being left out of those things makes me sad sometimes.

and then, i saw on another blog where a woman made vegan corndogs for her little boy (check out the vegan lunchbox link to the left if you are interested), and i thought if she can do it, so can i! so, i got a gluten-free cornbread mix, and a special pan (really for twinkies, but it was close enough), and then just trimmed the little doggies a little bit to fit--voila! the boys had fun, and so did the mama. score one for outsmarting the gluten, at least this time!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Chewy as a Rat

one day last week we were sitting at the table eating tacos for dinner (mmmmm, tacos.) we have switched to using corn tortillas now that we are watching gluten for daniel, and i found some really tasty ones that use sprouted corn, so they are extra-added-bonus healthfood. partway in to the meal, nicholas offers his latest descriptive phrase, telling me that "mama, this is as chewy as a rat." i'm pretty sure he meant it as a compliment. i really hope that he is not using an actual rat as a basis for comparison.

and just in case you were wondering, if a child of 4 swallows a penny, it is only a problem if the penny lodges in the windpipe before reaching the stomach. ask me how i know this.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

'Tis the Season

i don't know if any of you have noticed this, but the season of buying things is well underway. any time i step into a store or turn on the tv--music, ads, lights, camera, action! if chris *really* loved me he would buy me a heartstone diamond necklace, and if i really loved *him*, i would get him the newest cool cellphone that can make phone calls AND breakfast with the touch of a button. the other day i came in to the room while an ad for a minivan was on, and i found myself dancing to the music--besides the obvious scariness of a minivan commercial being targeted at my demographic (now that i am Really Old), it struck me how easy it is to be sucked in to the idea that if i just had this One More Thing, i would really be "much happier."

i have been thinking about this for a while. on one of the message boards that i like to read, some of the people there have been talking about this thing they call The Compact, explained through this quote, taken from a blog on the subject:

1) to go beyond recycling in trying to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture, to resist global corporatism, and to support local businesses, farms, etc. -- a step, we hope, inherits the revolutionary impulse of the Mayflower Compact; 2) to reduce clutter and waste in our homes (as in trash Compact-er); 3) to simplify our lives (as in Calm-pact)"

essentially, these people forming a Compact have all made a commitment that for one year they will buy nothing new, except food and health items. instead of going to target or the mall when something is needed, they have commited to finding it secondhand, or going without if the item turns out to be unneccessary; in this way, they are seeking to reduce the amount of resources that are consumed by their lifestyle and to examine the role that consumerism plays in the culture around them. buying nothing new doesn't seem that revolutionary, until i think about it for a while, and maybe you can too--how many things as i look around my room were bought new, when they didn't have to be? how easy is it to walk into target with a list of things i "need", and walk out with 1 or 2 or 5 more things that i didn't know i "needed" until i was walking around the store? while i am not ready to be as committed as some of these people are, the idea of being that mindful of my role in using global resources is intriguing. if you haven't seen it already, there is a very thought-provoking quiz that you can take to see where you rank in your use of natural resources--the results may shock you, as they did me.

rehearsals are underway for the christmas choir, and one of the songs that we sing always strikes me as i think about this subject. the name of the song is This is My Everything, and the words read:
"All that I love, all that I prize,
all that I cherish more than my life,
all is surrendered. I will be poor, for Your glory.
Resting in all You are, trusting Your loving heart,
'Cause this is my everything, this is my offering.
All that I have I bring. This is my offering."

the line that sticks out to me the most is "i will be poor for your glory". i am not poor. i never have been--even when money is tight, i would never consider myself to be poor--and i wonder what it would mean to truly be poor for the glory of God. how radical would that be, to truly give up on material things in order to serve God more fully--like the compact, but with an eye trained toward an eternal goal. and additionally, to trust that God would be faithful to provide for what i need, that i could rest in who He is and His love for me, rather than my own ability to *aquire*. especially at christmastime, when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, a man who lived "poorly" by the world's standard, it seems that i could do more to pattern my life after his example. and i'm guessing it doesn't involve the newest ipod, no matter how cool the commercial is.
Photo credit: Flickr user "eston"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Stomach Flu: the Gift that Keeps On Giving

well, happy thanksgiving to everyone....we went to visit my folks in colorado springs this weekend for the holiday, and nicholas brought an extra special gift with him: the 24 hour flu. poor kid spewed all over the dining room--and me, and my dad. fortunately, this was wednesday, not the Big Day, but he was pretty sick through most of thanksgiving anyway.

act II--chris succumbs. friday night, chris falls ill, and we decide to separate the troops. (i.e. jonathan and i abandon the downstairs for safer ground during the evening's festivities.)

act III--mom and dad share the love. cut to the estoll family making a hasty exit and running for the hills. we make it home with no vomit in the car, and even manage to have an uneventful day on sunday, recuperating and working on christmas decorations. we begin to feel cocky.

act IV--jonathan will not be left out. so, this morning, young one #3 awakens with a smile and a fountain of sickness. i can see no way for daniel and i to is only a matter of time.

Friday, November 17, 2006


so now that i am all techno-savvy (ha!) i have recently learned about this website where you can list the blogs that you read regularly and it will notify you when a new post is made. saves that rat-in-a-cage feeling of having to keep checking back and checking back to see if someone has posted anything new. and since i am so enamored with this new world of blogging, i am trying it out. it is really fun! it's like having mail in your mailbox, or maybe a magazine or something. anyway, check it out! and put me on there! :)

Thursday, November 16, 2006


so, jonathan is the smiliest baby i know. and believe me, i know a few. it's hard to make it in the mom world without fellow mom friends with their own smiling babies, so i believe that i have a good basis for comparison. now, you may think that i am biased, and that is your perogative, but i am telling you the truth. case in point: i came home last night from working and choir practice, and had been away from him for about 5 hours--much longer than i have been in the past. he was sitting with chris on the couch, barely hanging on to his good nature, but when he saw me he didn't cry like i would expect from a baby who has exhausted his good will--instead, he looks at me with this smile like "i really want to cry but i am happy to see you"-- this shaky little "heh heh heh" sort of greeting.

i think that perhaps this smiley nature is the result of being a third child, the third boy in a row. he is easygoing, merges in with the flow, and generally seems to be content to be along for the ride. my midwife, jennifer dossett (awesome midwife, by the way, highly recommended) told me when i was freaking out about the stresses of the past year that her third child came in the midst of a very chaotic time in her life as well, and is by all accounts the most mellow and easygoing of all her children. proof that God has a sense of how much we can handle, i guess.

the other thing that jonathan is doing lately is this scooty-grabby maneuver when something is out of his reach. he has been rolling on to his stomach for months now (must. update. baby book.), but gets really mad once he's there because a.) he can't roll back over, and b.) those darn toys keep moving out of his reach. thus, the scooty-grabby. which he does, yelling all the while at the toy for the injustice of it all.

and for all of you out there who have written off the smiliest baby title because you think that i am hindered by my momness, i will have you know that just today someone else told me the very same thing about him. so there.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Library Tyranny

first, let me just say that i love the library. i have always loved to read, and going to the library allows me to browse and sample at will from thousands of different books. when i was a child, we would go to the library once a week in the summer, and i would leave with stacks of books, only to come back for more a week later. when you go to a library, there's no worry about buyer's remorse...if you don't like something, you can always return it. plus, it's all free -- all the fun of a shopping spree, minus the guilt.

free, that is, until you face this sneaky little nuisance called the Library Fine. now, i'm all for the idea of not letting people just check out books, willy nilly, without regard for who may be waiting to read next, and library fines address that problem. they keep people accountable, and keep the supply of information available and flowing from one person to the next.

however, the Library Fine is also my nemesis. you see, i am not the most organized mama on the block, and our library trips are not of the weekly variety. there are some days when i am still feeling lucky if all the children are fed and clothed, let alone trying to round up all the books and coats and shoes, then venturing into a (supposedly) quiet environment where people whisper to each other, and most certainly Do Not Yell, Run, or Jump. with 3 boys, that can sometimes be a recipe for a meltdown. also, my scatterbrained nature (i prefer "creative") often leads me to be a few days late on the renewal uptake.

which leads me to the reason for this post. you see, i have been slowly working my way through a book (i know! a book!) and over the course of the last month am almost done with it. however, the library only lets you check things out for 3 weeks, and i keep forgetting to renew. so, today i went online to renew it. (yay me!) feeling resourceful, if a bit sheepish knowing that i would owe about a dollar in fines, i logged in to my account.....only to find that i owe the library OVER 20 DOLLARS!!! apparently, there is this book that we checked out for the kids right before we moved which has been MIA for a while. but, we had gone into the library to confess, and they gave us a grace period to find it amongst all the boxes. apparently the library's version of grace does not include monetary mercy.

so much for my frugal pastime....

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Preschool Similies

nicholas' newest phrases of note: "mama, i can run faster than a cheeto", and "mama, i'm as hungry as a rocket." (a poet is born....)

daniel's current rationalization: i say, "daniel, please help me with this." he says, "i can't, 'cause i'm a daniel." (how can you argue with something like that?)

jonathan's latest obsession: noodledog, and anything that i am eating or drinking. today, he almost had my cup right where he wanted it.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Apple Butter

i picked up some organic apples at the farmer's market in boulder last week, while having some girl-time (plus jonathan) with anne reed. organic produce can be expensive, but when i go i often ask if they have any "seconds", which are cosmetically blemished but still tasty to eat. they are usually about half the regular price that way.

then yesterday, i dusted off the ol' canner (thanks to chris' mom, who gave me hers a few years ago), and decided to can for the first time all season. i ususally like to can things like jam because i can do it for less money than buying it, and i know that there aren't any funky things added in like there can be from store-bought. there is something satisfying about seeing all the little jars lined up in a row in the pantry when i'm done.

it strikes me that it wasn't too many generations ago when one of the main ways to preserve food for the winter was to can it. the amount of work that goes in to processing one little jar is comparatively large, and the thought of being responsible for putting enough food away to survive makes me very grateful to not have that weight on my shoulders. my little batch of apple butter is miniscule compared to the amount of time and effort that went in to preserving the harvest in earlier times. that's part of the joy in it for me, to have this way to remember and appreciate the blessings of abundant food.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

It's a Virtue

tonight i went to a bible study that i have been a part of for a few years. this semester i am more of a lurker because i just don't have the space for one more thing, so the homework goes by the wayside. however, this particular study is by Beth Moore, and if anyone has ever done one of her studies, you are aquainted with her dynamic video lectures (and good ol' southern-woman-hair).

this study is on the fruit of the spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control), with each characteristic getting a week each--this week was "patience". patience is one of those things that is joked about in christian circles, as in, don't pray for patience, because then you are *really* in for it. it almost feels like a superstition--the closer you get to patience, the harder your life will be, so beware of this one, girls! but tonight i was struck by the magnitude of my own impatience, and particularly with my boys. husband too, for that matter, but at least he can stand up for himself.

lately it feels like everything in my life is in fast-forward, and my children take the brunt of my inability to cope with all that we are and have been juggling. new job. new house. new baby. new dietary restrictions. and so i try to get here and there and this and that and meanwhile my kids are doing the things that kids do, like running over my feet with the mini-grocery carts at vitamin cottage, and ripping the newspaper into tiny pieces all over their room, and pummelling each other with the broomstick horse, and i just want them to or maybe it's nothing that they did at all, they are just too slow, too small, too tired, and i am unwilling to cut them any slack. when did they become the scapegoats for my own inadequacy?

so beth moore makes the observation that the times when others are driving us crazy are the times when God is working to refine the crap that is in our own hearts, to purify them so that we can become a truer likeness of him and more effective in our lives as believers. which makes total sense in my situation. my kids have nothing to do with the circumstances that surround our family right now--they had absolutely no say in them at all. and yet, how much easier is it for me to look at the things they do and think, 'if only they were not so _____, my life would be so much easier.' i could have the pretense of keeping it all together, of having some kind of storybook life, if only.

but then i see the wisdom of leaching all that ugliness out of my heart, so that i can look at my children when they are *being children* and give them some small piece of the grace that God has shown to me in the midst of my own shortcomings. so, i guess it's time to ditch the superstition, and pray for patience. because, God knows, i really need some.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Things to Remember

today is the sort of day that makes autumn my favorite season. leaves that fall gracefully and then crunch underfoot. skies that are sunny and shockingly blue. crisp air, and the sense that you have to make the most of this day because it just can't last.

things about jonathan: the way that he smiles so big that his body can't help but wiggle with joy when he sees me. the concentration face when The Fist has reappeared and he is working so hard to get it to his mouth...eyes crossed, tongue sticking partway out of a drooly mouth--precious! his obsession with rolling over onto his stomach--no one can stop him!--and it's only ever to the left.

things about daniel: his determination to do everything himself and the sweet way he mimics whatever his older brother does--a great love. his favorite stories are Harold and the Purple Crayon, and From Head to Toe by Eric Carle...and of course all the motions too. every morning he crawls into bed with me and snuggles quietly, then says "mama, can i have some brekis?"

things about nicholas: his song for jonathan--"it's ok baby, yo ho ho, yo ho ho", and the way that he always asks to give him a hug. his favorite thing to do is "be a helper", and last weekend he hauled concrete blocks into the minivan and into the dump with me--no easy task. how much he is memorizing: every night, chris reads a traditional prayer and sings a song with the boys, and nicholas can recite most of the prayer of st. francis, and can sing all the words to the song "Jude", a special song chris and i learned while working at the dale house project.

babies waking up...short naptime today

Sunday, October 22, 2006


i have a confession to make: i never work during naptime. with the exception of the occasional load of laundry thrown in or dishwasher started (only if there is no room to cook dinner), i do not do any chores while the children are sleeping. certainly not anything that would involve a lot of thought or effort, unless it is an Extreme Emergency. you know, like company is coming for dinner or we are packing to go on a trip.

why? because this is the only time of day that i can do whatever i feel like. i can think in complete sentences without interruption. i can read something (maybe even an actual book, without pictures!) i don't have to feed anyone, or clean up from feeding someone, or plan out what i will be feeding someone next. i can even, *drumroll please*, Take a Nap--apparently the most controversial of all naptime activities. but, if i have been up 3 or 4 times during the night, which has been common lately, or i am gestating (and lets face it--when have i not been gestating these last 5 years), it is really hard for me to get through the day and still be civil to my children without closing my eyes for a while.

it makes sense to me. if i were working outside the home, i would have 2 smokebreaks and an hour for lunch. even the most harried of professionals has to commute to and from work--all alone in the car, listening to whatever radio station they want, and i'm guessing no one is yelling at the top of their lungs "mama, brother is touching me!!"

i recently learned that not all mothers do this, taking time out while the kiddos are asleep. i was told that several of my friends feel that naptime is a perfect time to "catch up" on things around the house, and often feel that they don't have time to rest because there is too much to do. which made me wonder if i am the only one who does this. and if so, does that make me the Laziest Mother on the Block?

Saturday, October 21, 2006


day number two and this is really pretty a couple of emails, a comment (thanks mom!) and enough positive reinforcement to make any dog proud. ("waiting for the dinner bell to do the bell thing, dinner bell, dinner bell, ding"). seems like a pretty good start.

today marked the third installment in the quest to find a gluten-free pie crust that is worth eating. three or four weeks ago, our doctor suggested that we try a gluten free diet for our middle son daniel, who had had diarrhea pretty much all summer long. we noticed it for a while, but then jonathan was born so everything else was put on the back burner, and then we thought that maybe it was just too much fruit, and then we tried probiotics, and then all of a sudden we were struck by the fact that several months had passed and maybe we should take him into the doctor. poor, neglected middle child.

anyway, we are a little over three weeks into the experiment, and daniel seems to really be improving...better diapers, and he seems to be lacking that overall tired, sick look around the eyes that i didn't really notice until it was gone. wonderful mother that i am, i was really hoping that it was going to be giardia, or some other terrible but easily curable microscopic problem--anything but gluten, which anyone who has had to deal with allergies can tell you is in everything, and i do mean *everything*. soy sauce. rice crispies, for heaven's sake.

which leads me to the piecrust. i have been trying to find a good substitute for good ol' gluten-laden piecrust, and have been dismally unsuccessful. the first try, bob's red mill brand, tasted disturbingly like beans. the second (pamela's products) was better but took 3 sticks of butter, and tonight, gluten free pantry's pie crust mix. the best one of all, but still a mealy, unsatisfying substitute. anyone out there with suggestions, i am all ears.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Numero Uno

so, apparently blogging is all the rage, and in an attempt to be part of the in-crowd, i have decided to give it a try. really, though, i am more interested in the idea of having a place to record my thoughts (and maybe a motivation to have more of them), and to have an outlet for my more introspective side (read: occasionally moody, usually self conscious.) i also wanted to have a way to record the days and to try to remember what is happening before it blows right by me.

after each of my childrens' births, i have had a sort of identity crisis, where i convinced myself that i needed to *do* some grand thing (each thing less lofty than the first.) i think that somehow i must have thought that these ideas would be an answer for the momentary panic i feel when faced with the reality of a new human being whose entire existence is immediately dependent entirely on me. with nicholas, the idea was that i was going to go to grad school and get a master's degree. with daniel, i was seized with a sudden and intense need to learn spanish. when jonathan was born this last june, our lives were too chaotic at the time (new baby, moving, 2 week trip to california) for me to focus on anything, much less my often-irrational thoughts, so i think that the self-improvement response has been slowed....

but, now things are settling down, and maybe learning about blogging will be my new 'improvement', the thing that i simply must do in the face of this new responsibility. i hope that i will be able to get past the feeling that in order to do this, i need to be witty or eloquent, because that will really slow me down. really what i want is a chance to give shape to my thoughts, and to record moments that rise above the mundane so that i can remember them when the view of the laundry pile makes me feel moody and small.

we'll see if the longevity of this project fares any better than that of the previous two....