Yo! That was easy!

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I bought this thing a little while ago …

Yogurt maker

… and wanted to share.

I posted about making yogurt a couple years ago, and I’ve been using my little yogurt maker since then, enjoying it. But then in December, I saw a  TV clip for this EasiYo contraption. Of course, since it was around Christmas, I couldn’t get my hands on the thing. I finally go a hold of one in mid-January from (oddly) Sears online. Amazon is still on backorder.

From what I saw on the clip, it addressed all the things that kind of irked me about my traditional maker. So, I’m chiming in my two cents.

I love it. When it arrived, it came with two packages of EasiYo brand yogurt powder. We tried those, and sure making it with the powdered “yogurt sachet” is easy. But they are expensive — which defeats the purpose. And my kids didn’t jump up and down about the yogurt. And wait, did I say this already? They are expensive. I like to use organic milk for yogurt, too. Not freeze-dried milk or whatever it is. And I want to be in control of sugar content, etc.

I need to first clarify (which I mentioned in my first post on the subject) for all the make-your-own-yogurt newbies out there — that any yogurt maker isn’t actually a yogurt maker. It’s more like a yogurt incubator — a device that keeps the milk and cultures warm enough for the cultures to work their magic and grow.

The traditional maker I have (by EuroCuisine) has seven small jars with lids and a warmer. I still have to heat the milk, cool it to a certain temp, add the starter (I use a tablespoon or so of already prepared yogurt), then keep it warm for a designated period of time.

Too long=too tangy. Too short=sometimes not set enough.

For me the magic amount of time seems to be 5 hours. Which is tough. It’s not long enough to make it overnight. The EuroCuisine has a timer, but it still seems to stay a little too warm in there. Every overnight batch I attempted failed. And trying to make it in the morning is a pain. We’re hustling to get out the door, and I’m standing by the sink trying to cool the scalded milk to get the darn stuff in the jars so I’ll be home in the afternoon (hopefully) when the five hours is up.

My life isn’t that schedule friendly.

My biggest complaints are that the jars just don’t want to come clean in the dishwasher, so I have to clean them with a bottle brush, and if I want to make another batch, I have to scoop the yogurt out of a bunch of little jars.

Plus, I’ve melted two lids on the dishwasher heating element during the drying process. So I don’t even have the satisfaction of seven uniform cute little jars of yogurt. (I know: What difference does THAT make? A lot. Sue me.)

I had high hopes for the EasiYo. I wanted a little more convenience. I got excited about the idea of one jar — so I could just scoop out what the kids wanted, and there was only one jar to clean.

The process is simple. I prepare the yogurt in the same way as before: scald the milk, cool it, mix in a starter, sometimes a teaspoon of vanilla and two tablespoons of sugar. (Most often, I make it plain and the kids add honey or a half of a teaspoon of grape or strawberry jelly.)

Yogurt eater

Once it’s all mixed in the jar, I just pour boiling water up to the designated spot, plop the jar into the maker  — which is really just kind of a giant thermos-type thing. It’s very convenient. It’s nice to thoroughly mix the starter with the milk  in the convenient lidded jar; it seems I get a smoother overall consistency. The best part is — I can let it sit in there for up to 12 hours. (Actually, I’ve read some folks have success even longer). Eight hours is plenty. So it’s perfect to make before bed. One jar. Easy to clean. The only con is that it is a rather big container, so you need space for it (it’s about the height and width of a half-gallon jug).

I found this decent video on YouTube of a lady making homemade yogurt. All the steps are the same — but you don’t have to make your own warmer with a heating pad or whatever she uses. But if you’ve never made yogurt and aren’t interested in the expense of buying some kind of a warmer — her method is good if you want to give it a try. Once you start making it, there’s really no comparison.

I have to include one of the commercials for the EasiYo, too. And really, making yogurt with your own milk isn’t just for hobbyists. It’s really not that hard. Sheesh. You can heat the milk in the microwave. (If you know how to press start, you’re good to go.)

Speak easy


Well, after our second visit to the speech pathologist, we left with the task of speaking to our dear boy in two-word phrases. And to build every one-word utterance he makes into a two-word, correctly articulated gem. When he says “car,” I say, “drive car” or “blue car” or “car goes.” You get the picture.

In addition to an articulation issue (most likely due to the long-term fluid in his ears), Cliff shows some signs of an expressive language disorder. It’s not a confirmed diagnosis, since we’re only two weeks into the process. But the Baby Whisperer gave me a heads up that there are some indicators.When someone sits back and starts a sentence with “I don’t want to scare you …” Be prepared.

I can honestly say, I’m not scared. I have faith we’ll do our part. Cliff will do his. The Baby Whisperer hers. And that God’s got us covered – all in his way and his time. I have a healthy and capable little guy. So the way I see it, all is right with the world.

Googling expressive language disorders is kind of a bust. I can’t find much of anything on the web but some generic, somewhat broad information. And nothing really led me to any support resources for parents or anything, either. They were mostly for sweet little one’s with more severe learning issues or disabilities. I came across a bunch of text books. But I’m not in the market for those. I like to read about challenges, protocols, processes and successes. So I guess I’ll share ours.

Hey there. What's up?

Cliff has a mountain-high (although occasionally difficult-to-understand) vocabulary but not so much the ability to put words together. This has nothing to do with his intellect – if you know how cunning our little dude is, that’s an easy confirmation. But it could have an impact on his ability to say what he’s thinking. Or when he’s older, write his thoughts, etc.

After some retrospective analysis, it is pretty evident to us that although he says many two-word phrases, none of them have been very unique. Standing by a light switch and saying “light on” is indeed expressive. He is turning the light on. But that’s pretty much been the scope of it. Light on, light off, coat on, coat off. All done.

You get the picture. Sure he says other phrases: I love you. Stop that. Thank you. You’re welcome. (He’s very polite.) Oh, and Poopy Head. But those might as well be single words to him.

This isn’t really atypical of being a little one in a large family. There are six people who respond to his single-word commands. We know what he wants. And frankly, he’s always been a kid who wants very little. He wants to be fed, climb on the furniture and play. He’s a pretty simple guy.

So, picture this: I sit down with the bigger kids and tell them the deal. I say this is what we’re going to do. And they oblige and are doing it. Everyone is doing it. Even his fabulous Montessori school teacher. Five-year-old Lillian has at times expressed some opposition to the process. (“Why isn’t he talking yet since you’re taking him to that lady?”) I’m not sure she’s a big fan of all the attention he’s getting. (Gee, wait until she finds out I’m spending the money I’ve been saving for her sibling-rivalry recovery therapy on his speech therapy.)

And now picture this: If you actually know us, you know there isn’t an unenthusiastic one in the bunch. If you dropped by our house these past few days, you might think we were a bunch of over-caffeinated cheerleaders on steroids or something. We’re – collectively – one huge, living and breathing exclamation point. (!)

Okay. Now take a moment to picture this: Yesterday morning, my little guy is standing in the bathroom, and he turns to me and asks, “Where’s Henry’s puppy?” I didn’t get it at first, so I stooped. He grabbed my face and slowly said it again. (His version of Henry is a tough word to understand between two others.) He was obviously thinking of the stuffed toy they were playing with the night before. You can be darn straight we found that puppy!

Ready to get down to business.

And after school yesterday, he said, “Where’s my work?”

He couldn’t see his  prized sewing work in front of him on the floor of the van. AND! As we were preparing to go outside he asked, “Where’s my other shoe?”

I know. Say it. He’s a genius. (A motherly winky goes right …. here.)

It’s not much. But only two and a half days into this – it’s a lot. Today he said he “Want to see the toys” that Henry was packing for game day at school.

At another occasion, when I just couldn’t understand him, he tried to very slowly repeat his words for my comprehension. Then he looked into my eyes and quietly sighed and muttered, “I don’t know.” That’s the part that makes my heart ache for him in this process. As a person who very rarely is at a loss for words, I can’t imagine having my thoughts against my will held captive in my head. (Even though, I’m quite sure there are many times my thoughts should’ve stayed quietly tucked in their cage.)

The joy in his reaction when we know what he was saying is really a motivator for all of us. I truly marvel at how a little brain works.

Time will tell what the fruits of this will be and how he will be able to express and process his own thoughts better. And he still has some pretty significant articulation issues to tackle. I know it’s not going to be easy, but at least we’re off to a really good start.

We’ve found some nifty apps on the iPad that are really fun and useful for Cliff (only with parental interaction, of course.) I’ll have to share those, too. I want to share them with the Baby Whisperer first.

Speak now and forever hold a piece

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This has been an exciting few weeks.

Cliffy went on his first official speech therapy visit. And it was great. I’ll post more as we get into the process. But I know it’ll be fruitful. Just the little tidbit I learned at that one session has been helpful in my ability to interpret what he’s saying, so I can at least lessen some of his frustration and repeat things back to him correctly. Cool for sure. Brilliant woman — I’m calling her the Baby Whisperer.

Cliffy leaning on big brother.

And … we took Lillian to open house for first grade.I know. Yes. Already.

To my not-so-complete surprise, it was an experience fraught with anxiety for my sweet dumpling. Just a year ago I was wondering how she was going to function in this world because she’s always been such an über-imaginative child floating though her days. But since then, she has (rather precariously) tested the waters of reality. And I’m not so sure how well she likes it. This darn real world doesn’t seem to hold the same promise of her visions of pretend playmates, ponies, pink and princesses. That world brings her peace. This world? Not so much.

After a visit to the two first-grade classrooms in the school, we headed to the gym to check out the activities there. During our look around, Miss Blue Eyes looked up and me and informed me that we needed to go back up to the classrooms. She needed to meet the teachers again. And she needed to look around more. I could see her distress. It’s the same distress she has when she has trouble dressing her dolls, or Cliff destroys her carefully arranged menagerie. But — the big difference was — it was real. And I felt for her.

She led me back up the stairs. She walked in one classroom. Looked around. Then proceeded to the next. When we were there, she motioned to the books on the table in the front of the room. Without a word, her thumb went in her mouth, and she approached them. I stooped to her level, and we looked at the workbooks together. As a Montessori child, I think the workbooks looked daunting to her. I believe she was analyzing what was going to be expected of her. And — more importantly — whether she could even do it. I showed her some of the pages. We talked about them. She relaxed a little and announced she was ready to go. And we did.

At home while dressing for bed, she looked up at me — troubled — and asked (exact quote), “How did you determine I’m prepared for this?” I assured her she will be prepared. And school is about learning. And she’ll be fine. I’m not quite sure she bought any of it. But that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Hanging on.

I can say that I feel her inner conflict in a way I’ve not experienced with the three before her. I wish I could just blow confidence at her like bubbles through a wand. Some landing on her, while she joyfully chases the rest. More so, I wish I could help her hold on for dear life to the amazing parts of her that have made her childhood to this point so completely mesmerizing.  When I look into her thoughtful eyes, I know it will be a different kind of difficult to watch as her sweet pieces of childhood slowly melt away.

She’s brought us all an undeniable gift — her ability to express her thoughts has granted remarkable insight into the fabulous workings of a little one’s mind. A very early talker, she did so much more than just tell us what she was doing — she shared with all of us what she was thinking and feeling. And boy, it’s been grand.

With Lil, when things don’t pan out exactly as she’s so carefully imagined, the turmoil begins. And the more that darn reality so rudely butts into her life, the more that darn turmoil triumphs. The hard part is, I know there’s not a lot about this world that pans out as we imagine. So sadly, lots of folks just stop imagining.

I hope I can help my dear daughter slowly become rooted to the ground while she continues to joyfully and colorfully bloom in the worlds she creates. I will also diligently pray that as she grows she will never actually be of this world but instead live uniquely, vibrantly and faithfully in it.

So that’s what’s ahead of me. Teaching my baby how to talk like a child and teaching my big girl how to hold on to every piece of childhood she can.

And nothing is impossible, with God.