Archive for 2011

Homeschool Witnessing

I had a thought this morning while I was feeding the little boys their breakfast. I've been seeing a lot of friends from church post pictures of their kid's first day at school and every time I hear about a five or six year old shipped off to spend the entire day away from home, it makes me a little sad. Sure, lots of people "survive" the public school system and are just fine, but I've personally seen what a benefit homeschooling can be.

So, I was thinking, "Do they even know why they send their kids to school like this? Do they even realize what the school system in America is rooted in? Do they know what John Dewey even said about this school system he helped create?"

And then I was struck by a thought; nay, a conviction.

I find myself more willing to engage in conversations about homeschooling with Christians than I ever find myself in conversations with the unsaved about Christ.

It was so startling and such an obvious wrong that it shook me a bit. I'm still praying. I need to change my attitude about this and the way I approach all of my conversations. I don't want to stop talking about homeschooling, but I think it's become way out of balance for me.

Homeschooling is great, but homeschooling didn't save me.

Homeschooling didn't pull me out of the pit of death.

Homeschooling isn't the Rock on which I stand.

Homeschooling doesn't give me a joy that strengthens my limbs.

Homeschooling doesn't mend my wounded heart.

Homeschooling doesn't rescue and redeem and reconcile those around me.

Homeschooling a good way to live, but homeschooling is not the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

What about you? What do you find yourself talking about more, and more easily?

It's Not Fun to Share, or the Relativism Fallout

It isn't always fun to share. It's not. Do I sometimes feel good after? Yes. It's it always fun? Nope.

So, I was watching a kid's show with the little boys today. They don't watch much TV and only watched about ten minutes today, but when I need to distract them enough that I can eat lunch, I'm okay with them being entertained. Today's episode was about sharing, and I thought, "Great! Even if they don't understand it, sharing is a part of their lives right now. They have to share almost everything."

In the show, a character expresses reluctance to share and is encouraged by talking trees that "sharing is FUN!" They even sang a song about it and everything was happy.

Except it's not true.

The problem with moral relativism and the separation of church and life (you know, when church stays in church and everything outside of church is free from church) is that it compels people to attempt to create catchy or encouraging phrases to espouse the values we all feel deep down we should have, apart from any real basis for those values.

If not for Christ, then for what?

So, we end up with children's show after children's show (and even some adult shows, when they feel like they can get a message in there) that happily bombards kids with those moral foundations we instinctively know we must have to exist as a society: Sharing is FUN, isn't being nice NICE, don't be afraid there's nothing to be afraid of because MONSTERS are silly and probably afraid of you!, stealing is WRONG because you feel bad, lying is wrong because it HURTS you.

I realize I'm starting to sound a bit like my grandfather and I'm okay with that. Because you know what?

Sharing isn't always fun.
Being genuinely nice sometimes hurts like nothing else.
Monsters are freaking scary.
When we are apart from Christ, we do have something frightening to fear.
Stealing is wrong because our Judge decided it was.
Lying is wrong because it hurts others.

And all of these things can be summed up pretty simply by a passage in Matthew 22:37-40:

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

The ultimate problem with teaching these values (which are important values) apart from any basis of Scripture or faith is that eventually it becomes extremely evident to a child that there is no basis for these rules as they've been given.

If one's only moral obligation to share is to share because it's fun, then what happens when it isn't fun?

Truth is, we should share because we recognize that what we've been given isn't ours anyway. We should share because God wants us to bless others, and to tell you another truth, I'm a little bit afraid of God. He's pretty mighty and I'm pretty small.

We should share because I recognize that He is mighty and I am small and He has chosen to be gentle and loving to me anyway. I am compelled to do the right thing out of a desire to please Him, not out of a desire to make myself feel good about doing the right thing.

That's a lot to cram into a kid's television show. That's why we're called to be the primary educators of our children. It isn't the media's job to get the message right. It's our job.

Because those slogans will not be true. Those slogans will prove false time and time again. If it is all a child has for a moral foundation, expect that foundation to crumble at the first challenge. When sharing isn't fun, they will decide not to share. When lying hurts them a little less than it saves them from real discipline, they will lie. When something scares them in the dead of night, "silly monsters" will not comfort or save them.

But we don't even have to lecture our children on sharing or not lying or being kind. We can sing scripture to catchy tunes, instead of fluffy little slogans. We encourage a child to share with, "This is the right thing to do," instead of, "Won't it be fun?" Sometimes, we say simply, "Share," and don't give them a whole lot of say in the matter. (Like for me, right now, when my little boys lack the understanding or self-control to even decide if they want to do the right thing or not.)

And as they grow, that greatest commandment will, in every situation of their lives, prove true over and over again. Those words they have stored in their hearts will never fail them. They may challenge them, try to rebel against them, question them, struggle with them, but they will always, always, always be true.

When they share because it's the right thing, to please Christ and not self, it will be true.

When they decide not to cheat on a test because they fear God and not because a few people might be mad, it will be true.

When they decide not to cheat on a spouse because they know, despite any emotional or physical neglect, that God will honor their self-denial, it will be true.

This is a challenge to me, even as little TV as my kids watch. What am I filling our interaction time with? What am I saying, how am I acting? How am I building a foundation for them, a foundation on the Cornerstone that is Christ?

How are you building? What do you do?

a small celebration.

So, I'm going to brag a bit about how good God is to me and my boys.

Yesterday, I posted about working through the 31 Days to Clean book, but other than the cleaning assignment, I hadn't really read the day's entry. Adam had left that morning to help a friend move and the little boys and I were on our own.

I had plans to have a friend over for coffee and then, if Adam was gone for the whole afternoon, I was going to walk to the library and to a little toy store called Duck Soup. I planned on getting each of the boys a small, new toy. They've outgrown most of the ones filling their toy bin and I wanted to get them a treat. We rarely ever go out and buy new toys for them because we've already been so blessed by friends and family, and I don't believe in them having a ton of toys anyway.

And then I read the entry for the day in 31 Days and, hurrah! My Mary Challenge for the day was to have a friend over for coffee! God set that up so well (before we even know what to ask, huh?).

Then I found out Duck Soup had closed. I figured I'd just take the boys to Wal-Mart or somewhere else later. I was a little disappointed, but didn't feel like the day was ruined or anything.

After lunch, my friend came over with her kids and returned some books she'd borrowed and then pulled out two Yo Gabba Gabba! plush toys. "My littlest one doesn't play with these anymore," she said, "Would you like them?"

Guys, Yo Gabba Gabba! is this household's favorite kids show. It's the only one the boys watch.

And my friend was handing me our two favorite characters.

The little boys were very, very excited. I might have been a tad more excited, but that's okay.

God gave my kids some new toys, through the generosity of a friend.

It gets even better! Adam and I have a lot of big-kid toys like LEGOs, Duplos, and Matchbox cars in the back of a closet for when our kids get older. I pull them out whenever we have other kids over so they don't get bored while grown-ups talk. I pulled out Duplos for my friend's three-year-old and my little boys loved them. I'd thought that the Duplos were still way over their heads, but they proved me wrong. They're nowhere close to building with them, but their new favorite thing is to rummage in the bins and pull out pieces.

Another new toy and we already owned it!

God is so good.

Théoden fell asleep last night holding Brobee, and Plex is nearby in this picture. They were into the Duplos again this morning:

Also, I submitted a story last night for the second Machine of Death anthology. You can read more about it at, but it's basically a writing contest with a shared thesis for every story. The selections will be announced in October and will be published. The thesis is based on a Dinosaur Comic strip, and the first anthology was kind of amazing. I feel like my story needed more work but I sent it in anyway. I thought the deadline was Sunday at midnight and fortunately checked last night while I was working on my story--- the deadline was this morning at around 3am EST.

Anyway, it's called E. coli. One of the contest rules is that the title has to be somebody's test result. I've found a few things I wish I could change, but oh, well. It's submitted. And I'll just keep writing new stuff! If you'd like to read it, email me or let me know on Facebook and I'll send it to you-- I don't want to just post it online right now, though.

Also, 31 Days is kicking my butt a bit. I'm keeping up with the cleaning okay, but it's really challenging my heart. Aren't you glad that God never leaves us alone, though? He never lets us go, and even when that's uncomfortable, I'm so grateful.

The entry today was about priorities. And I had just skimmed a few verses in Psalms and was counting that as my Bible study when I read 31 Days and it was all like, "Do what you say are your priorities and what you treat as priorities really line up? Are you spending time meditating on the Word of God?" and it was exactly the kind of reprimand I needed.

Right now, if I'm honest, I sort of shuffle myself, my little boys, and Adam around in the first priority slot, and then housework and God take turns being in fourth and fifth. Yeah, that's not good. It makes for one cranky, easily irritated Mama and Wife. I'm working on that, but more importantly, the Holy Spirit is working on that in me, and as long as I'm heeding that call, He's not going to stop or let go.

And finally, I have noticed a movement in a lot of the people I know toward the art of hospitality. Sometimes, I forget that this is actually part of the Christian calling. Entertaining people is one thing; intentional hospitality that loves on people and fills a need for them is another. I want to make that more and more a part of my life (within reason; I don't want to get out of balance). So, let me ask you, when you go into another person's home, what makes you feel comfortable and loved? What makes you feel like you belong?

a bit here, a bit there.

I'm working through a new cleaning book that I'm really enjoying. It's part devotional/part cleaning guide. It's called "31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way" and you can find it here. It's only available as an eBook, as far as I know, so you can look at it on your computer or you can order the Kindle version and look on a Kindle or on your iPod touch/iPhone/iPad.

I'm on day four and enjoying it so far. It's challenged me to address the attitude of my heart when it comes to cleaning, and one of the "Mary Challenges" was to ask my family what aspects of housecleaning/homemaking made them feel most loved. The little boys, predictably, answered "da da da da?" which means anything from Adam to food to "HI THERE!!!!!"

Adam's answers gave me some insight into what's important to him in the course of a week and helped me shift my focus from what I thought I should have as a priority to what actually blessed him if I made it a priority.

Today, the task is to clean my stove and microwave (I'll be cleaning my toaster oven since we are sans microwave). I'll go do that in a moment...

On another front, Adam and I are very much enjoying our brand-spankin' new Spotify account. The service launched in the U.S. yesterday and is a bit like Netflix for music. You can listen to anything they have on the service (and it's a LOT!) streaming, for free. It's ad-supported. Or, you can pay $5 a month and go ad-free. Or you can pay $10 a month and go ad-free, stream to an iPod, have wireless iPod syncing, and off-line listening. We went with that last option and are cancelling our $12/month eMusic account. eMusic has consistently grown from an amazing site to something really disappointing. They actually removed the option to re-download previously purchased tracks and albums, as other services are moving toward that option, and that just baffles me. But anyway, Spotify! We can listen to almost anything, even new albums, in their entirety, and don't have to pay per album. It's pretty awesome. I'm listening to Anberlin's Blueprints for the Black Market right now, which is an album I loved in high school.

Finally, to wrap up this post, I wanted to share pictures of my most recent project. I'm not really a very crafts-oriented person. I love the idea of crafts and DIY projects, but I'm not very good at following through on them. I don't sew, knit, crochet, woodwork, scrapbook, etc.., and I hardly even paint. That said, I occasionally get in the mood to do something like this and this week I had the chance!

I recently received an antique mirror from my mom; it had belonged to her mother and then ended up in my sister's cabin (a playhouse cabin she's since outgrown). It was nearing the point where it would be beyond salvaging. Even now, the wood is a teeny bit warped on one side. But the trim was falling off, the paint was all chipped, and so on. I had some white paint (I was trying to avoid spending any extra money for supplies) and a brush, so I tackled it the other night. I forgot to take a real "before" picture, but here's mid-way and finished (sorry about the picture quality):

Here's the mirror finished and on the wall. I wanted it to still look like an antique, so I didn't do a second coat of white paint. I wanted some of the older stuff to come through, especially in cracks and crevices.

Oh, and I know I already said "finally," but I'd nearly forgotten that I wanted to show off my other recent project. I put together my recipe binder! I had an envelope stuffed full of loose-leaf recipes and they needed a real home. Despite what I said about not being very crafty, I could put binders together or play around in Photoshop all day.

That's all. :) See my boys with their raspberry popsicles? Aren't they the sweetest?

make my words right.

Today, I was driving home from a friend's house and thinking about things. That sounds like maybe I was thinking about deep, spiritual truths or the course of my life. This is what I was thinking about:

"I like oranges, but they're kind of messy. I don't like messy fruit. I guess, though, if I lived in the 1800s, like in a manor house [ed: just finished Jane Austen book], I would eat oranges for breakfast because it would be a rare thing to have them. I wonder how good they were? They probably didn't get them very fresh. I guess you'd pack them in sawdust or hay or something, like storing apples underground like the pioneers did? What fruit keeps well. Hm. Coconut. I wonder how long coconut lasts if you just let it sit around on a counter. I've opened a coconut before. We slammed it into the garage floor of the DeRoos house. I think you can drain the milk by hammering a screwdriver through one of the little weak spots, but that doesn't really get it open.

"I guess you could use a hatchet? Maybe keep it in one of those clamp things, like for woodworking...I don't know what that's called. Some sort of clamp, though. And then you could hit it with the hatchet. But what if the coconut slips? What if the hatchet has so much force it swings around and ends up in your knee? That sounds like something a little boy would do, something they didn't think through all the way. What if my kids do that? What if Sam does that? What would I do if one of my kids ended up with a hatchet in his knee?"

Okay, so, not pretty. It might have something to do with a film I watched the other day, which was a bit like the Korean version of Man on Fire. But that's the point where I knew I was getting mentally off-track and started praying instead of dwelling on the image.

My prayer went something like this:

"God, please keep my boys safe. As they grow up, keep them from serious injury or anything that threatens their future. Protect them from broken arms and bee stings and..."

It went on for about a minute like that, and then I was a bit bothered by what I was praying. I tried changing my prayer to something more like this:

"Keep them safe from anything that threatens their lives."

And it still wasn't right. Not that it was unacceptable to God, but rather, I wasn't sure I really wanted to be asking Him to do that for my kids.

I fell back on simple prayer as God was revealing something to me.

I started praying: "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done for my boys, in their lives, in their futures..."

And the rest of that familiar prayer from Matthew 6:9-13.

This is what I was thinking:

"You know, I have a lot of friends who wouldn't be following Christ right now if they'd been safe. I have a lot of friends who needed wake-up calls."

And it's true. I've even needed them before. I will pray that God keep my kids from temptation and delivers them from evil. I will pray it sincerely and with trust. But I don't know what that looks like for them.

I was realizing that maybe it's not enough to pray that God keeps my kids safe. I don't know if they'll need to be safe. They might need to be the opposite of safe, sometimes. This doesn't mean that I think God needs to stop watching them or just drop them out of His hands. I love God and I know He loves me and my family; I trust Him to never abandon us. But sometimes, the way He'll work in their lives might not look that safe to me or to them.

It might take a broken arm to respect natural consequences. That might keep them from a lot of even more stupid decisions in the future.

It might take a car wreck to think about what they're doing with their lives.

It might take a broken heart to realize how much they need Him.

So, while my children are babies, my plan is simple prayers. I have nothing against specific prayers for children. Sometimes, you know what you need to be praying for a child. Right now, I pray for good rest and relief from teething pain so they can sleep. I pray that they'll learn to walk without really cracking their heads open.

Ephesians 6:18 says, "And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people."

I will do that for my children. For myself. For others.

But these general, "God keep my children safe all their lives" prayers? I'm done with those.

My mother-in-law is a lovely lady, full of wisdom and truly in love with the Lord. One of the first times I was visiting her house, we somehow got on the subject of the verse in Numbers 32:23, the one that says that your sins will find you out. In context, it's about some of the tribes of Israel keeping a vow they'd made to God, and what will happen if they fail to keep their word. But she said something about that truth that has stuck with me ever since. It was this:

"What a mercy that is!"

And I said, "Huh?"

And she said: "What a mercy it is that our sins find us out here and now, while we have time to repent!"

What a mercy.

My children are sinners. I cannot change this, no matter how much I would love for them to be innocent and pure and never have to wrestle with sin, to wrestle with the flesh and pain and sorrow and death. Sometimes, I will be there to find out and correct. I have, God-willing, years with them to train and teach and guide and discipline.

But someday, I will not be big enough. I will not be big enough physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Someday they will exceed my ability to reproach or heal. There may be times this happens while they are even still at home. It is not my job to teach them their limits in the natural world; nature will do that just fine, thanks. But beyond my ability, I am grateful that their sins will still find them out.

From Jeremiah 32:18-19:

"Great and mighty God, whose name is the LORD Almighty, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds. Your eyes are open to the ways of all mankind; you reward each person according to their conduct and as their deeds deserve.'"

God will reward my children according to their conduct. Great are His purposes for them! It is beyond my understanding of how they get to those purposes. And in the end, I want their conduct to honor Him. I so very much desire to see them following Christ wholeheartedly, in the joy that comes with submission to His will.

His will. Ay, there's the rub.

I don't know what that is for them exactly. I know they were created in His image, to honor and serve and worship Him. But I don't know exactly how they will do that. I don't know what desires He's planted and will plant in their hearts. I don't know how or when they might get off-track. But I know they probably will. I know I certainly did, more than once. And I know the day will come when they must choose who they will serve, just as I had to do.

And that's why, right now, my prayers for their future must be summed up in a single prayer, uttered with my whole soul:

"Thy will be done."

I would like to make it to the end of my time on earth without taking them to the ER, or visiting them in a hospital, or hearing them cry on the other end of the phone, or holding them close while they pull themselves together again.

But not at the cost of their salvation. Not at the price of their acceptance of our Savior.

It is not enough for me that my children are safe. I don't know what their eternal safety looks like. I must continually remind myself that my eyes are to be fixed on heaven and not on this temporary, short life on earth. Everything must be weighed against that goal.

I want to pray the will of God for my children. Sometimes, I know the Holy Spirit will tell me exactly what to pray or will pray it for me. But when I am just praying for them and their futures, I must put aside all my selfish desires for whole physical bodies, freedom from embarrassment or criticism, freedom from feeling like a failure as a parent, and pray a dangerous prayer.

It is a prayer that led martyrs to their graves. It is also a prayer that led quiet, peaceful people through quiet, peaceful lives during which they blessed others. It is a prayer that has led to a pastor's heartache, a missionary's struggles, an employee's ostracism in the workplace.

It is a prayer that has used a tragedy to draw a hardened heart to the cross, has used a devastating loss to humble the proud.

It is the prayer that led Christ to the cross.

"Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done."

Even in these, my children.

Method to the Madness

I've had a few questions about cloth diapers, so I'm just going to go ahead and type up a second post about them.

First, what I use and where I got it:

I use Thirsties diaper covers and Bumkins unbleached prefolds. I got them from amazon. If you're going to order diapers, you should sign up for an amazon mom account if you don't already have one. You should be able to get free two-day shipping with the first three months of the account.

I use these Bumkins Prefold Diapers and these Thirsties Diaper Covers. You can get Thirsties covers with snaps instead of Velcro, but I really like the Velcro. Per boy, we use 8-10 diapers and about 1-3 covers a day right now. You don't have to change the cover every diaper change-- just when they get poop on them. If you have good covers, I don't think you need snaps or pins.

Second, how I care for them:

Every dirty cloth diaper is tossed into a plastic bin I have near our changing station. Some people use wet bags that you can throw into the washer, and I might actually look into getting one of those soon, but for right now, I don't feel like I really need one. When the boys are in disposables for the night, I toss the diapers, covers, and any other dirty whites generated in the house during the day (why waste the washer space, huh?) into the washer. You could probably get away with doing diapers every two to three days if you had more diapers.

I use about half the recommended amount of All brand Free Clear detergent (no dyes, no perfumes, allergen-free) and run a cold cycle to basically rinse everything. Then I fish the diaper covers out, hang them up to dry (they dry quickly) and run the washer load again-- a small amount of detergent, hot cycle, extra rinse. This has pretty much gotten every poop stain out so far. You aren't supposed to use chlorine bleach with the bumkins prefolds, but I might look into oxygen bleach if staining becomes a problem. I've also heard that sun-bleaching works wonders, but haven't had to try it yet.

Then, finally, I toss the load into the dryer and run it on a normal cycle. Ta-duh!

Third, and finally, the diapering:

I took some pictures!

Here's the cover, opened:

This is the diaper:

I use the folding method the Bumkins company recommends for boys, so from the flat diaper, I fold it like this:

Then each side over, like this:

I tuck the front end into the flap at the front inside of the diaper cover, like this:

Then I put it on a boy! The bulkier part goes in front, to absorb more pee. All done, it looks like this:

(Smirk is optional.)

I think that's it for tonight. Let me know if you have any more questions! I'm just a newbie, but I can always find more info or just give you tips from the few weeks I've been cloth-diapering my own kids.

I'm Not Crazy, I Promise

So, I'm almost two weeks into cloth diapering. And you know what? I'm enjoying it. As much as one can enjoy diapers, that is. I had toyed with the idea of cloth diapering from the beginning, but we were doing laundry at my parents' house and it wasn't feasible to cloth diaper two boys and wash stuff there-- I would have needed a ton of cloth diapers just to make it from washing day to washing day, and while some might be able to do it, I didn't want to deal with that.

But then we got a washer and dryer! And I already had almost a dozen cloth diapers that had been given to us as burp rags, and two diaper covers. I decided I'd start cloth diapering during the day and leaving the boys in disposables at night, which I'm still doing. The cloth diapers I had were getting us about halfway through the day, and if a cover got "stuff" (um, yes, poop) on it, it was out of commission until it was washed.

Until last week, when I got to order more diapers! I got a dozen bumkins prefolds to add to my gerber prefolds collection, and four thirsties covers to add to the two bummis ones I had. It's definitely enough to get us through the day, and I just do a load of laundry every night after the boys go to sleep in their disposables.

Here is my diaper basket, as it looks in the morning, freshly stocked:

There are a few reasons I wanted to cloth diaper, and these were my top two:

1. To save money.
2. I think their bottoms are better off for it; the less time their skin spends in close proximity to chemicals, the better. Also, cloth breathes better.

Here are some trade-offs:

1. Laundry every night.
2. Because cloth doesn't pull moisture away from the skin, it means changing diapers more frequently-- like, ten a day instead of five.

But, I've decided the pros outweigh the cons. Laundry takes all of fifteen or twenty minutes to toss stuff in, move it from one machine to another, push buttons, and fold diapers. And diaper changes, eh. I'll live.

There have been a few people extremely influential in my decision to cloth diaper. One of them is a former coworker named Jenny. I babysat her little boy several hours a week over the span of almost two years, and he was pretty much exclusively cloth-diapered in that time. If it hadn't been for her and my experience with her baby, I don't know if I would have been brave enough. But I got all that practice changing and folding diapers! I knew, before the boys were born, that I liked the prefold-with-cover system.

Another was a friend named Charli, whose money-saving skills never cease to amaze me. She gave us the bummis covers and a few diapers and was very, very encouraging.

Finally, a blogger helped a lot. I don't know her, I've never met her, I don't even remember how I found her blog, actually. But this entry here has an amazing breakdown of disposable vs. cloth cost. Those numbers stuck with me whenever I thought about cloth diapering.

So, that's one of the things I'm doing right now. Theo and Sam don't seem to mind. Adam's been a trooper, and very, very supportive!

Also, the boys are now fifteen weeks and we're starting solids in about a month! Homemade rice cereal and banana baby food on the horizon; my boon spoons are supposed to come in the mail today. I had heard about them before, but was won-over by this post by Molly Piper, at Her twin survival tips have been absolutely amazing, and since her babies are just a few months ahead of mine, it's like I get her next tip at exactly the right time.

I should go get my dilly-doers, though. It's about time to be awake again.

Oh, Life.

Life has been busyish. I'm now teaching an online class, trying to read more, trying to clean more regularly (please don't assure me I don't need to-- I'd gotten into a vacuuming once a month habit and that's terrible for allergies and asthma), trying to bake/cook one new recipe a week, and still wanting to fit some fiction writing in there.

This might not be that long or coherent, but it's mostly because I want to make myself keep blogging, and it's been a while. I enjoy it when I do it-- it's just making myself sit down and do this instead of surfing facebook that can be a little hard.

I know I posted about my pork chop Parmesan success, and I don't want this to turn into an exclusively food blog, but I am really enjoying cooking and baking lately. The current problem I'm tackling is keeping track of all my recipes. The ones in my cabinet are fine-- I have books that I trust the indexes in, and I have an envelope for loose-leaf recipes. I don't mind sorting through those when I need to find something because there really aren't that many there.

The problem is that I look for recipes online, and I use three different machines to do it-- the desktop, my netbook, and my iPod touch. And I bookmark recipes as I find them. Aside from my bookmarks folder getting very cluttered, I keep running into this problem where I'm getting ready to make dinner or bake a dessert, I need my recipe, and I can't remember which device I saved it on. Adam might be on the desktop doing homework, my iPod is playing white noise for the twins (because I do pretty much all my cooking/baking while they sleep), and my netbook is my only other option. I don't really like interrupting Adam when he's working, but I find myself having to, often.

So, today I googled for online recipe organizers and found an Associated Press article about the best five. I liked the look of four of them, so I signed up for the accounts and I'm trying them out. I think the deciding factors will be: ease of uploading/adding recipes, ease of navigation, and simplicity of the site design. I don't my netbook screen to be cluttered with ads and non-relevant pictures and recommendations for other recipes while I'm trying to see how much baking powder I need. I also don't need the site to generate a grocery list for me-- I don't need everything listed in most recipes, and I find it more time-consuming to uncheck/check all the correct items. It's easier to just type my list on my own. So, if one of these recipe organizer sites focuses heavily on grocery list generation, that'll be a con and not a pro.

The websites are:

I have signed up for each already, and each website's sign-up was simple and unintrusive. Kitchen Monki links with Facebook accounts, and I think Say Mmm might, too. I'll let you know what I think of them after I've tried each for a few days-- remind me to post again if I don't let you know!

I tried adding recipes to each website and have settled, hands down, on One tsp. as my organizer. Say Mmm handled adding recipes okay, but not the best, and it's basically a grocery-list generator. Kitchen Monki and We Gotta Eat were out within minutes-- adding recipes was a multi-page process that required me to enter ingredients individually. That might be okay if I'm typing up recipes from paper, anyway, but definitely didn't work with copy/pasting, which is all I wanted to do for all my bookmarks. I'd still like to hear from anybody who is using any of these and enjoying them!

Have any of you tried any of these? Any thoughts? What do you look for in a recipe organizer? Do binders/index card boxes work for you? What do you do with online recipes? One reason my online recipe use is restricted to a screen is because we don't have a printer. Once I get the recipes organized, though, that's alright-- my netbook works well in the kitchen because of it's small size and light weight. Also, I've copied recipes to my fridge white-board before and just erase them when I'm done.

On another note, the boys are 14 weeks old as of yesterday! They're still growing and getting big and I love, love to hear them laugh. I can't believe how fast time is going! We're trying to make the transition to cloth diapers during the day, so if anybody knows of a good place to get the covers/prefolds for cheap, that advice would be appreciated!

I was going to post a new picture, but my camera batteries just died. And I should stop writing now because Theo is awake and on my lap and wanting some attention.

I'll try to post again soon!

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