This Is Me

Jessie Bee
I am a seeker of God, a help-meet to my husband and a mother to my 3 children. I love hot lattes, good books, cold weather and anything that inspires me to be creative. I desire simplicity and authenticity, but often have to remind myself to seek those .
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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Health 101: Palm Sugar

If I made a list of the best gifts my mom has given me over the course of my life, the first 3 items on the list would be:

1. She brought Jesus into our home
2. She passed down her thirst for learning
3. She fed us healthy food

Healthy food. 

Have you ever stopped to think about what that is?  Michael Pollan, in his book "In Defense of Food", argues that all food is healthy, because in reality, anything that comes in a box is not food at all.  As a result, he urges his readers to steer clear of any box that makes health claims about itself.  I guess I'll just stick with the boxes that don't make them.  What aisle are the Ding Dong's on?

Only joking.  In reality, my aim is to feed my family well.  I want my kids to be able to recognize potatoes in their natural form and eat colorful salads on a daily basis.  And I want to be healthy.  So with that goal in mind, my sister and I have challenged each other to eliminate nearly all sugar and gluten from our diets.  No, this is not permanent; more like a restructuring.  But its been good, and educational, and now we're eating food.  =)

But it hasn't all been positive because I MISS BAKING!  I love to cook, and I absolutely love to bake.  But how do you bake without sugar?  Honey, you say?  Good idea.  However, remember that second gift my mom gave me?  This drove me to research sugars and sugar substitutes.  Sure I could throw in half a cup of Splenda, but yuck.  Or use honey.  But what if there was something better?

Sound the trumpets, folks, there is!  At Whole Foods I discovered an ingredient called Palm Sugar.  

Palm sugar is the crystallized nectar from the coconut palm flower.  It tastes really similar to brown sugar, but better.  It acts very similar to sugar when baking (dissolves the same, used on a 1:1 ratio, no weird aftertaste), but the three biggest differences are this: 
1. It actually has health benefits.  It is by far the healthiest sugar option on supermarket shelves, brimming with nutrients, minerals, and phytonutrients.
2. It has an extremely low glycemic index.  The glycemic index rates foods by how quickly they can raise our blood glucose level.  The GI of table sugar is 61.  Honey has a relatively low GI of 55.  In contrast, palm sugar's GI is 35, similar to that of milk or cooked carrots.  Crazy!  
3. It is a culturally sustainable food source.  

So with palm sugar in hand, the kids and I set out to make our first gluten-free recipe:  almond cookies.  Fun fun!

  Note:  I read that some brands mix palm sugar with other sugar.  As such, it is recommended that you buy organic palm sugar.  I purchased the Navitas Naturals brand of organic palm sugar (see picture above).

Monday, January 24, 2011

Aviation Adventures

Right now marks the 30-hour anniversary since we arrived back home from our first big family vacation. We risked adventure on the East Coast and, in the course of two weeks, stayed with a baker's dozen worth of my husband's family and visited with many of their offspring. Though I could easily dedicate many blogs to the adventures we had over there, I decided to focus on one of the most exciting aspects of the trip: the plane rides.

Perhaps plane rides don't come across as the edge-of-your-seat action adventure you'd anticipate a blog to focus on, but then again you probably don't have 3 children, ages 3, 4, and 5. That changes things. And since we were flying to the East Coast on a budget, our round trip plane rides included 4 flights (and one short stop in Tuscon) on the wings of love...

An important step for any child about to fly the friendly skies for the first time is to introduce themselves to the flight safety protocol. Our kids were way on top of that.

Somehow they must have interpreted the instructions to mean "be good or else..." because our children were fantastic on the two plane trips out to Virginia. Well, I say fantastic because the other children on the plane happened to drown out the noise of our own. Hallelujah.

The highlight of traveling via plane had nothing to do with the plane at all, but the "eligators" (read: elevators, aka moving sidewalks) found in the Chicago Midway airport. There is something magical about moving forward despite standing still. Our kids did a marvelous job of slowing down the general public by creeping onto the eligator, turning around and walking the wrong way. We call it "going against the flow" and we're proud of that ambition. Then there was the time my middle daughter managed to stop traffic altogether by standing backwards on the eligator, which denied her the advantage of seeing where it ended. I'll let your imagine take over from here.

While it would have been nice to write about a more interesting trip there, I'm grateful it was fairly boring. The trips back to San Diego held a little more adventure. Due to my son's incalculable assistance with nearly 150lbs of luggage, he was dubbed an honorary TSA Officer and presented with his own badge. Thanks TSA. Not only do you scan our bodies in HD, but now my son refuses to wash his sweatshirt. Who grants you such power?

However, that badge must have worked its charm because as soon as we walked up to the gates of our last two flights we were granted permission to board. Sure, we were semi-late getting to the gate, thus missing the family boarding time, but children to not fare well during long waits. Walking up late or being the parents of a Junior TSA, whichever comes first, negated this necessity.

It is at this point that I must pause and give a shout-out to Eileen, our friendly flight attendant from Southwest flight 417. Due to our lateness, we missed family boarding and nearly missed getting seats near each other. However, because of Eileen's intuitiveness and sing-songy loud voice, she verbally reserved family seating for us. Then she spent the rest of the flight catering to us, joking with the children, and asking repeatedly if we wanted snacks or more drinks. At the end of the flight, she asked us how much time we had before our next flight. When we said an hour, she suggested a sandwich shop that was out of this world. Considering we had spent the previous 2 hours 35,000 ft above earth and had another 5 hour flight to look forward to, I was grateful that "out of this world" was located next door to Gate B1. Once there, we said hi to our good friend Eileen, grabbed some extra-terrestrial sandwiches and rushed back to our flight.

Back at the gate, Junior TSA once again used his authority to eliminate wait time, and we found ourselves seated near the back of the plane, ready for our biggest flight yet - 5 hours and 45 minutes on the same plane (with one stop in Tuscon). The first 2 hours were amazing, fabulous, brilliant. When I woke up, things returned to moderately boring. That is, until Man-In-The-Lime-Green-Shirt walked down the aisle. Now we had always claimed the seats at the back of the plane. In all four flights, this was our ideal location. Explanation: we have 3 kids. In this location, my brain turned off the activity between the passengers passing by us. It was a semi-steady stream of visitors, and it would have been pointless to memorize each shirt color. However, Man-In-The-Lime-Green-Shirt was different. I first noticed him as I was exiting the lavatory and saw him making his way down the too-small airplane aisle. I took note of this strange man, this strange young man wearing a fluorescent-toned t-shirt. It didn't seem normal. But it was helpful. Because not 2 minutes after he passed by, I heard a ridiculously loud thud and the gasp from a flight attendant. I glanced behind me (remember, we're at the very back of the plane) and there on the floor was a lump of lime green. What happened next made me proud of the people I was sharing that lavatory with. Because as they called for any persons with medical experience, several people flooded to the back of the plane then deferred themselves to him or her who was the most qualified to help. No one was there for glory. There was genuine concern for this poor guy, which was a fresh breath of air (albeit stale airplane oxygen air).

The Man-In-The-Lime-Green-Shirt ended up being just fine. Too much to drink the night before paired with not enough to eat the next morning explained both the fainting and, I assume, the poor taste in fashion. And so when we landed in Arizona, the Man-In-The-Lime-Green-Shirt along with 100 other people left the plane while the rest of us stayed on and waited. Our Junior TSA got another surprise when Daddy walked him up to the front of the plane and Mr. Pilot showed him the horn. I'm sure Junior TSA saw more, but that was all I heard about. They arrived back as other passengers begin boarding. Lady-With-The-Curly-Red-Hair-And-Bright-Blue-Shirt sat down next to me. God put her there, I know it. As we were taking off, Junior TSA shouted, "WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!" He had done this during every take-off. Lady-With-The-Curly-Red-Hair smiled and said he must be a blast at Disneyland. I said sure, but could you imagine if he was the pilot? As the flight took off, she pulled out a book I was planning on reading and a conversation was struck. One topic led to the next and soon we were discussing her two grandchildren: 4 year old girl and 5 and a half year old boy. Not sure what led her to say it, but she mentioned that they were adopted from Russia. Really?? (For those not aware, my husband and I are in prayerful consideration about the timing and funds for international adoption.) This was such an encouraging conversation, but what touched me the most was when her eyes teared up as she recalled seeing their pictures for the first time. What a gift. And what a neat way to end a vacation.

Well, the other neat part about the end of the vacation was walking off the airplane into 77 degree weather. Thank you San Diego. It's good to be back.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bee Currency

(My mom came over and gave me this adorable honey pot as inspiration for my blog. Thank you Mom!)


I am a twin - a nearly identical twin. I love being a twin and have always loved being a twin.

But growing up, there was one part of being a twin that I did not particularly enjoy - the part about not getting to not be a twin. In other words, I didn't get to be unique. My parents were amazing here. My mom and dad identified our differences and praised them. We rarely received identical presents at Christmas, we always got separate cakes on our birthday, we had (wildly) different wardrobes, even had different hair cuts when it mattered (because at 2, it didn't). But in all their awesomeness, they forgot to do one small thing: give me a nickname.

On movie nights, outings to the museum, dinner time, younameit, roll call sounded something like: Bear-Bear!! Tay-Tay!! Umm....Jessica.

Around 5th grade or so, I decided to remedy the problem by christening myself with a nickname: Smurfette. It lasted approximately 4 days. It's laughable now. Well, it was laughable then, too. That's just not how a nickname works, and it's definitely not how a nickname should sound.

So I trudged onward in life, nicknameless. In my junior high years my family joined the homeschool movement and, in a daring, wild, and risky move, I began introducing myself as "Jessie". Still lacked a Smurfette sort of allure, but it was change, and it wasn't my "real" name. That was fun.

Then, in college my dad built me this magnificent computer, complete with a black tower - the first I had ever seen. I powered her up and the angel's began singing...there on my screen was my username: Jessie Bee. You see, my middle name is Beth, so he took the "B" and nicknamerized it. AWESOME! And though you're not going to hear my parents shout "Jessie Bee! We're sitting over here!", it was still a nickname and it was mine.

Hence "Bee".


This one is a bit easier to explain, especially if you've read the poem on my main page. That poem was given to me by a good friend, accompanied with a note, "Jess, this reminds me of you - how you're always creating memories!"

A life well-lived will gain a priceless collection of memory coins, and that is my ultimate goal.

Thus, the goal for this blog is to write down the memories I am building, whether they be mundane or not. And as such, I hope to build my wealth in Bee Currency.

Hope you enjoy.

P.S. Mom and Dad, I do not hold any grudge against not having a nickname. Think of it this way - if I had been given a nickname then, I wouldn't have a blog title now. I love you guys and all you have poured into my life. =)

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Consider This My Thimble List

(If a bucket list is a compilation of things you want to do before you die, consider this my thimble list of 2011.)

"A dream is just a dream until it is written down - then it becomes a goal."

Sure, its cliche to blog about a bunch of resolutions for a new year. Then again its cliche to blog...period. But a friend of mine has inspired me to be goal-oriented this year, if for no other reason than to look back and say I accomplished something. Okay, I suppose having three children gives me the right to say that either way. But I'm not content with that. So here is my list:

1. Start a blog
2. Complete 5 paintings
3. Read 24 books, minimum
4. Walk 3 times a week, minimum
5. Finish Quickbooks class

1. Plant 5 vegetables successfully
2. Cook 1 new recipe a week - blog about it
3. Put $x per month into savings
4. Start a monthly budget - STICK TO IT!

1. Read the Bible daily (finish O.T. by years end, minimum)
2. Personal Ministry Goal*
3. Study 6 topics in-depth
4. Memorize 2 Timothy 4

1. Pray earnestly about adoption: timing, location, funds
2. Family ministry goal*
3. Be consistent with family Bible time
4. Take more pictures of the kids
5. Organize all my digital pictures!

And my greatest goal: love more, give more.


Yes, I started a blog. Yes, this is my first post.

There - got that over with.
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