I zoomed with some friends from my time in northern Virginia, and here are some things I learned.

From my sister, Heidi:

One way the brain is divided is between your thinking brain and your emotional brain. Your emotional brain is stronger. Its job is to keep you alive. When it senses danger, or sees food, it responds. When the emotional brain is triggered, it will not be quiet until it is acknowledged. So downplaying fears and wants is a struggle you won’t win. When it says, “I want ice cream! I want ice cream!” you should say, “Yes! I want ice cream too! That sounds amazing! I love ice cream. You’re right. You’re so smart. Wait. I’ve already had two. Maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea right now.”

Or if it says, “Scary! Don’t move! But get ready to run just in case!” you say, “That is scary! If that happened, it would be really bad. You’re right. Thanks. Whew. Saved me. But you know what, I can just do this and this if that happens.”

Anxiety is worrying about something bad in the future (and debilitating anxiety is worrying about fear in the future), so keeping your mind in the present can snap you out of it. Do belly breathing, identify five colors in the room, and then five textures. Say your family members’ names.

Look at the facts. The actual facts. What acutal behaviors did they do that makes me think they think I’m weird?

If they have a look on their face that you’re afraid means something bad, ask them, “Why are you making that face?”

Maria taught me about urban ecology.

“Urban” is becoming the most common ecosystem. Land covered by cities will triple in the next ten years.

  • This is bad because it can cause extinction of species, and bad things happen when species go extinct.
  • Natural ground is permeable, and water drains through dirt and rocks and gets cleaned. It’s a green filter. But city surfaces are impermeable. Water washes anything on the sidewalk and street down the drains and into the water way. And floods the existing water way. It’s a gray funnel, not a green filter.
  • Streams are becoming cement lined, and not dirt and plant lined. Roots have problems, the water is warmer and has less shade. Different organisms thrive in these circumstances. Sometimes water goes through canals under the city with no daylight. Now really different organisms live in it.
  • Cities alter heat distribution. You know how oceans heat differently than land? Cities heat differently than forests. This is not great for the native species who liked the natural average temperature, and it’s not great for climate change, either.
  • Since many organisms can’t cross the road, organisms near each other become genetically similar, and thus more fragile.
  • Generalist animals, like squirrels and pigeons, who can eat many different things, survive. But animals who can’t adapt die off.
  • It’s common for exotic, invasive species to enter cities.

But: 2/3 of species can be found in cities. (And cool fact, lots of peregrine falcons live in New York City skyscrapers.)

So build bird feeders and bird houses and have gardens, okay?

Christy taught us how to make yogurt in an instant pot.

I’ll include directions on how to use a crock pot, since I don’t have a yogurt button on my instant pot.

Pour half a gallon of milk in the crock pot, and then turn it on for two and a half hours. After that time, all of the bad bacteria are dead and you have just milk. But it’s too hot for the good bacteria to live, so leave the crock pot off for three hours, until it’s 110-115 degrees F. Then stir in yogurt with live and active cultures. Christy’s favorite is Fage. (I bought Fage this time, just to see if she’s right.)

Put the lid back on, and put a towel over the crock pot and leave it on the counter for eight hours. Then it’s yummy! Keep some yogurt aside to make more next time.

I read that someone likes to separate the yogurt into jars and put those on the counter before towel time. That sounds awesome, so I’ll be keeping my eyes out for jars.

The benefits of this are that you control how much sugar goes in your yogurt, and you get a half gallon of yogurt for the price of milk.

She said yogurt comes out very liquidy, so to get it thicker, get a cheese cloth and put it in a strainer and put that strainer in a bowl. The liquid that comes out is good for your gut, and you can use it in smoothies. Rinse the cheese cloth immediately in water until you can’t smell yogurt anymore.

Janae, about the Life Coach program

CTFAR. C is for circumstance, T is for thought, F is for feeling, A is for action, R is for result. Something happens, we have a thought about it, then we react emotionally to that thought, and then that emotion causes us to do something, and then now we have a new situation. Most people start to use their agency (or start to make choices) at the Action, but really you can start at the Thought. Find a different thought that you already believe, and redirect your brain.

Brittany talked about chores

Her boys get a nickel for each job they do, and her boys owe her a dime for every job they don’t do. This teaches that it’s cheaper to do something yourself. She paid her sons to say prayers and brush teeth just to establish the habit. Next chore rotation they’ll pick something new to pay for, and hopefully the prayer and toothbrushing habit will stick.

Brittany ferments foods. She said it helped her lose weight.

And I also met with some friends from Provo.

Everything at Rebecca’s house is waffle-shaped

Because waffle makers alert you before your food burns. So she does quesadillas in the waffle maker. They come out waffle shaped. She puts broccoli and beans on her quesadillas. Also she puts cheese and bacon in her waffles (no syrup.) Those come out waffle shaped too. Rebecca puts lentils in sloppy joes, not beef.

She puts veggies in smoothies. Just not cucumbers or cabbage. Did you know you can wash your blender- by blending soap? Here I’ve washing it by hand, like a noob, or in the dishwasher, taking up a quarter of the drawer. Like a chump.

April’s tips:

Instead of buying new ink cartridges… you can buy an ink cartridge refiller, and do it yourself. Lots of times. For like 18 bucks on Amazon. And, instead of paying the mechanic to install your air filters for like eighty bucks, just buy them and take one minute to switch them yourself.

Andrea’s toddler interrupted her recommendation to check out Jody Moore and the Life Coach program.

Jaime, the Snacktivist

It bothers Jaime when kids’ sports teams pass out Oreos after a game. Real Mom Nutrition is a website with sample letters you can give to coaches and parents- before the season starts- to agree to fruit-and-water-only policies. It’s not about depriving kids of sugar, it’s about teaching healthy eating patterns. After exercise your body needs whole foods, and cookies and cupcakes are special-occaision foods, not every day choices.

Heather, how to get peace and quiet

Just announce, “Time to do chores together!” Poof! Kids disappear.

Alicia’s artisan bread

3c room temp water, 1 tsp yeast. 6 cups water, 1 3/4 tsp salt. Mix with a spoon. Cover with spray and saran wrap.

Leave on the counter overnight and all day. Two hours before dinner, heat a dutch oven (or a pot that is rated in ovens this hot) to 450 degrees. Put the dough on some cornmeal on parchment paper, then lift into the hot dutch oven. Slice a pattern with a sharp knife. Cook with the lid on for 30 minutes and the lid off for 20 minutes. Let it cool before slicing, or you’ll squash the nice bubbles inside.

You can add rosemary to be extra fancy.

To Do

  • Teach my children how to pick up the house
  • Research fermenting foods
  • Buy more lentils
  • Research ink cartridge refilling
  • Use this bread recipe, that makes more delicious, more beautiful bread with less kneading and less yeast.