Friday, August 29, 2008

Parenting on Purpose

I just read this blog post and it really resonated with me. Sometimes I do so much that I feel like my kids get in the way when they want to help. But if I keep saying no they will stop asking. Then when I ask them to help they won't want to. I had kids on purpose, now I need to parent on purpose, but not just on purpose, with purpose. It's easy to coexist with your kids, but what have I done with them to help them learn life skills.

On of my major beefs with feminism is that it has made it so that learning how to run a home and raise children a thing that is, if not looked down on, thought of as unimportant. I know how to do stuff. I can make bread and keep a schedule for laundry and dinner. I can grocery shop and keep the kids clean. I can even clean a house (when I want to.) But I never learned how to balance all that out. I never learned how to run a house. I blame society on that. As life has gotten easier the home and family have gone by the way side. So I struggle to make it all work together and each day I get a little better. However, I am doing exactly what was done to me. I am not taking the opportunity to teach my children how to run a home, how to make it all work together and thereby I'm doing my children a disservice. I need to be better.

I love your suggestions on how you make your life easier and how you balance your life.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Day

Yesterday was the first day of school. As with each first day, I began the day in humble prayer for my Sweetie Hearts school day. Webby gave her a father's blessing that night before to give her strength and encouragement for this next school year. She was very excited, yet a little anxious. That's how I always felt on the first day, actually I was feeling it on her first day as well. I guess I have a few more years to feel anxious about the first day of school.

The day dawned chilly. Because of all the rain we've been having, it's gotten cooler earlier this year. The leaves are already starting to change. Nights are getting down into the upper 40s to low 50s. So it was cool enough to be wearing jackets. Very different from last year. Anxiety was the feeling for the morning. It's funny how one can be excited and scared at the same time. we said a few prayers and headed out the door. There are only 2 First grade classes and there are only 14 kids in each class, so half the class was in her kindergarten class, the other half she knew as well. Her teacher is new this year, but was in the school as an aid last year. So we went in together and she found her way to hang up her backpack and such and found her seat, while I filled out some paper work. She was assigned to a table with her best friend, which is good. As I was sating goodbye, she started to tear up and asked me to stay. I gave her a few kissing hands and walked out of the classroom. I stood in the door way and saw that she was crying in earnest. So I went back in and gave her a big hug and told her if she needed me to tell them to call me and I would come back, gave her another big hug and left. She does have a bit of a cold still, so that didn't help. It's so difficult. I love her so much and I knew that after I left she would have a great time, I just needed to get out the door. When I went to pick her up she said she had a great time and wanted to go back. Of course, this morning was a little more of the separation anxiety. There is a little girl in the other class who has been an immense help. Last year she helped Sweetie Heart to leave me at the foyer of the school, by walking back with her. Today she asked Sweetie Heart if she wanted her to stay with her on the playground until time to line up. She is just the sweetest little girl. She seems to have a tremendous amount of she confidence. I hope that she can help Sweetie Heart have more confidence. Her teacher is great and the classroom looks great. There is plenty of room to move about and learn.

Here is Sweet Girl busy with "reading." Okay she's not really reading, but she does have some stories memorized if not word for word the concept so that she can tell the story accurately. She really didn't want her picture taken. She is obviously very busy and can't be bothered to take the time to look up and smile for the camera. She would glance up occasionally but refused to look for long or smile. She has grown a lot this summer. She's now wearing 3T clothes! She'll be 3 in October so that's about right. Of course, her 2 year old cousin is wearing the same size! But i really think Sweet Girl has caught up to were she is supposed to be for her age. We'll see at her 3 year check up.

I also want to tell you about a fantastic film we watched last night. It's called The Prestige, yes it has Christain Bale in it, but even if he weren't in it, it would be fabulous! Don't read too much about it, experience it. It is really well done! Both Webby and I we amazed at how well done it was. With the flash backs and illusion, it keeps you guessing. So Netfilx it today, you will not be disappointed!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Tip Tuesday

Tip Tuesday
Healthy Breakfast

How many times have you served or eaten cold cereal for breakfast. My answer would be more times then I care to mention. At the beginning of last school year I decided that I would be that great mom that got up early and made a yummy, healthy breakfast every morning. Well, that progressed into a "if we have enough time" to make something healthy. And since I have one of the s l o w e s t children in the world, we ate cold cereal breakfast most mornings. I really did try. It just got too time consuming and, quite frankly, I wasn't getting up early enough to do it.

Now it is the beginning of the school year once again. I have the lofty goal of getting up early and putting a healthy breakfast on the table. I also want to get up early enough to get other things done, like praying, scripture study, chores, so that I can have more fun during the day with Sweet Girl. But I know myself and know that there will be days I don't get up early enough. Cold cereal is quite expensive, though, so I don't really want to rely on that. There was a time, before Sweetie Heart started school, that I had a plan. Actually, it was more of a schedule; Monday & Friday we had eggs and toast
, Sunday & Thursday we had cold cereal, Tuesday & Saturday we had hot Cereal and Wednesday we had pancakes. I actually had a schedule for all the meals and snacks. This was right after Sweet Girl was born. I did it out of necessity, not because I was super organized. But it is really helpful. I do it for dinners now, but think I might go back to it.

So on to the tip. Here's a way to have a healthy breakfast even if there isn't much time. I make pancakes and waffles and freeze them. In the morning I can pull a couple out and toast them. I usually require that one of them has peanut butter on it so there is a little so that there is a little protein. It also makes a complete meal is you take the time the make some eggs. I also will make muffins or a quick bread the night before and serve that in the morning or send it for morning snack. They have morning snack at the school so I try to be creative in what I send. We love this Pumpkin Waffle recipe! I nix the soy yogurt and replace the soy milk with rice (due to allergies.) I've even used just water and replace half the all purpose flour with whole wheat. It's a really versatile recipe so play around with it. It's really good.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tip Tuesday

Tip Tuesday
Dry Beans

Yes, this is the dry bean addition. I can hear you now... I don't have time for dry beans...They never turn out...They take too long to cook...They always turn out a little crunchy. Yes, yes, I know. I have felt this way too, until I stumbled upon a little secret. Now I am going to pass it on to you.

But first, as you know canned beans are expensive. Yes, they are easy to use, open the can, dump, season and warm - done. Yes, that is very easy. You may not realize that dry beans, with a little thinking can be that easy too. Now I have heard, from a reliable source, that canning beans make there use very easy too. It makes them like your canned beans, but cheaper. But I'm not a canner. I'd like to be, but don't have it in me at this time to do it. So I don't. But I can save money and make beans quick.

You should find a "fast cook" method on the back of your bag of dried beans. If you don't have that here is what you do.

1. Sort and rinse1 bag of beans. I seldom sort my beans. However, there have been times when I have found bits of dirt in the bag. I usually look as I'm pouring them into the colander to rinse them.
2. Put beans into a pot. Cover with 8 cups of HOT water.
3. Here's my added tip. Add 1/2 teaspoon on baking soda to the bean pot.
4. Bring beans to a boil and boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for at least 1 hour. The baking soda will cause the beans to foam quite a bit.
5. When you are ready to cook the beans, drain and rinse the beans and wash the pan to remove the baking soda.
6. Pour the beans back into the pan and cover again with 8 cups of HOT water. Bring to a boil andsimmer until tender.

Tada! All done. I find it takes between 30minute to 1 hour to get them tender. Check after 30 minutes. You can blow on the beans to see if they are done. The skin will split when you blow on them. I however, just bite into them. That way I can feel the texture of the meat of the bean and get it to my liking. It's about 2 cups cooked beans to 1-15 oz can of beans. I usually cook up the whole bag and freeze part of it. That way when I need them fast I can just pull them from the freezer, put them in a sauce pan and thaw/warm them up. Cover with cooking water when freezing them.

There seems to be something about the baking soda that makes them softer and cook faster. It also seems to make them a little less musical, if you get my drift.

Do you have any hits about beans? Let us know!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Art Camp

I signed Sweetie Heart up for Art Camp this last week. We have an amazing local artist who is young and fun. She has two kids one of whom is Sweetie Heart's age. She also substituted for the art teachers at the end of last year. So Sweetie Heart knew her and she so loves art. I'm so glad we signed her up for it. She had a blast. She doesn't want it to be over. Here is the art she made while she was there. She came home with paint on her clothes and in her hair. I asked her what she liked best and she said getting messy and the art show. Here's a little Art Show for you.
Did I mention they were using house paint for these? It makes those overalls even cooler.

Here is her oil pastel & water color that she took from the picture. I could not be prouder of her!

God is so good. When I first heard about art camp I was told that it was already full from a friend. I was totally bummed. I decided that I would talk to the artist who was running the camp to see if I could put Sweetie Heart on a waiting list or something. I usually would see her first thing in the morning when we dropped the kids off. The next day didn't start great and we ended up being late. I took Sweetie heart back to her classroom and when I turned around to leave there she stood dropping her own son off late. So a said that I heard that she was doing art camp but it was full. She told me she still had a couple of slots left. She emailed me the dates and told me that she needed me to commit pretty quick because she had two more calls that morning. I got in under the gun.

Then I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for it. I knew it would all work out I just didn't know how. I was up at the library (surprise) talking about it when my neighbor/volunteer said she could pay for it, bless her heart. She has grandkids of her own and I really appreciated the offer, but could not possibly take her money. She came to my door a few days later. She had a proposition. If I would help her with her yard work she would pay me $13/hour and that could pay for Art Camp. She needed the help and I was more than happy with the agreement. She is a wonderful woman, sent from God to help us. I am so grateful, as I am with all the blessings I have been given.

We rode our bikes there three of the five days. The days it didn't rain. She did great, but I was struggling. That said I was pulling a bike trailer and had to ride it twice each day instead of once. There are lots of hill, little to some big to me...I mean others. It was about 2 miles round trip. Even so, Sweetie Heart wouldn't have had any trouble riding longer. She loves her new bike and has the stamina of her father, or older cousin who races 10-15 miles easy.

Here we are taking the finger painting in a very literal way. I really have loosened up since having kids. Yes, sticky little fingers still make me cringe. But I let them happen anyway, so long as they stay away from me, as best as they can.

Mornings can be a little tough around here. Sweet Girl needs a little pick me up sometimes.

It's syrup, what were you thinking?

And speaking of tough mornings, school starts in a week and a half. The summer has flown by. We had a great summer! Sweetie Heart is looking forward to getting back to school though. Although, she does have her moments she says she wants me to home school her so she can be around me more. Mostly, she enjoys the our time playing board games, like Monopoly, while Sweet Girl is "napping."

We came out ahead this year in getting ready for school. For some reason there isn't a school supply list around here, at least not yet. So I don't have to worry about that. We were given two garbage bags full of clothes for Sweetie Heart, one from a friend and one from my sister-in-law. So I didn't have to buy any back to school clothes. Actually, I think I'm going to need to get rid of some. We did buy a new pair on sneakers. These were $31 and we got a discount of 20% because we are members of the local food co-op. Here she is showing off her new sneaks.
She didn't understand why Webby and I were laughing. That's where I've been all week. Riding my bike and recovering. Webby scoffed a bit when I told him I was sore and had a hard time getting up one of the hills after the first day. (Yes, you did Webby) I know 4 miles doesn't seem like a lot, but if you haven't ridden since you were like 12 it is. That and Webby's idea of a ride lasts a couple of hours, not 20 minutes.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

What's For Dinner?

What did you have for dinner tonight? For our extremely healthy dinner tonight we had:

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread with butter ( I had cream cheese on mine)
Sliced Apple & Peaches
Sharp Cheddar Cheese (Rice Cheese for Sweet Girl because of a dairy allergy)
Popcorn with salt and Brewers Yeast (before you gag, you really should try this! It's really good!)
And Water

Now I know I'm really going crazy in the head. For breakfast we had eggs and lunch we had cold cereal. Sometimes it's all I can do to make anything to eat. Not sure why we still need to eat. We'd save so much time it we could just stop cooking and just eat Soylent Green. Well, maybe not.

I know you'll (sorry, I had a southern roommate college) want to know how my party went. It went fantastic! All but 2 were able to make it. I had tons of food and I had good conversation with the soon to be college freshman. There was lots of laughing and horsing around. And I have to say, I haven't been around too many boys that can consume that much food. Whoa, Webby wouldn't have even been able to keep up. I wanted to tell them to slow down, that no one was going to take their food away. The boys sat in the kitchen, near the food, so as to be able to have seconds and thirds without having to move much.

I know you want to know what I fed them.
Greek Orzo Salad
Adobo Honey Ancho Marinaded Chicken
Homemade Pesto Pizza with Artichoke Hearts, Tomato, Black Olives & Parmesan Cheese
Homemade French Bread
Assorted Veggies
Lemon Bars
Cheese Cake
Apple Crisp

I think that covers it. The boys actually said that they were full. And if you talk to their parents and even to them, they are never full. So, mission accomplished. It really was fun. I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to do it for them.

I must say that the easiest way for me to serve others is to feed them. Not to gloat, actually I am humbled that I have been given the gift to be able to cook. It really isn't that big of a deal to me. It seems to me that anyone could do it, but I've talked to far too many people who say they can't cook. So really it is a talent given from God and for that I am grateful.

So what did you have for dinner? Or what is the strangest thing you ever served for dinner? I had a roommate back in college who ate soup for breakfast in the winter.

New and Improved

So I've decided to start a little thing on this here blog. I've searched and thought and decided to call it Tip Tuesday. Now I know today is not Tuesday. I seem to be about a day behind. But here I am ready to give you tips. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep on top of it from here on out. And if not, do forgive me, I am the mother of two busy children.

Tip Tuesday!
Potty Training

I know you all want to know my secret for successful potty training. First and foremost, do not rush potty training! It will not happen until your child is ready and willing to cooperate. Sweetie heart did not potty train until she was 3 1/4 years old. She was not even interested. A little before 3 I started having her wear training pants at home. I'd ask her if she needed to pee and take her. When we went out, at nap and bedtime she wore a diaper. She started waking up from nap time dry and one time I forgot to put her in a diaper before nap and she woke up dry. So I took that diaper out, but when we went out she wore a diaper. I was pregnant with Sweet Girl at the time and she told me that when she was a big sister she would be potty trained. And that is exactly when she did. A couple of days after Sweet Girl was born she ran and errand with Webby. I told him to put her in a diaper and she said, "No, I'm potty trained now!" So that was that. Good bye diapers! Yeah! We had very few accidents, period. When she needed to go to the bathroom, she would tell me and we would go.

Also, if you start too early you will have more accidents. I don't know about you but I really don't like cleaning pee off the floor and, worse yet, getting a child out of poopy underpants without getting it everywhere is a real challenge. But it does keep things interesting.

I have been trying the same thing for Sweet Girl but it's not working out the same way. It seems Sweet Girl is really not interested. She wants to wear underpants, but usually I'm given the announcement, "I just peed/ pooped in my underpants!" And that is usually right after I've set her on the potty to go. She will actually hold it or not let all of it out when she's there, and pee/ poop in her underpants after 5 minutes. So I put her back in diapers. I was extremely patient. I even asked her if she wanted underpants again after she peed in some up until the point she did it twice within 2 minutes and I had sat her on the toilet between the two accidents. At that I was done. She obviously is not ready. So I'll try again in a month.

When you start potty training there is always the very fun thing call Let's visit every bathroom there is in existence. There have been some nice ones and some not so nice ones, but in the interest of wanting your child to be potty trained it is worth it, even if they have just peed at home. And traveling takes on a whole new time table. When kids are potty trained you can't just drive for 4-6 hours. You are going to have to stop more often, like every 15 minutes...I kid, but it seems like it sometimes. You must remember that the smaller the child the smaller the bladder and thereby they are going to have to pee more often. That also means that you will probably be up at night taking you child to the bathroom. Take my advice, when you go in to check on them before you go to bed, pick them up and take them to the bathroom. they probably will only be semiconscious and go right back to sleep. But that saves you the near heart stopping wake up when you child comes into your room to tell you they have to pee. I think Sweetie Heart was 5+ before she started to pee on her own in the night and put herself back to bed. And seeing as she's only 6 now, it hasn't been that long.

Know your limits and those of your child's. If you don't feel either of you are ready, don't do it. If you feel like it's not working, let it go and came back to it. If you feel yourself getting angry about the accidents, throw in the underpants and try again later. Every kid is different, as I am learning. Take it as it comes.

I'd love to hear your tips to, so please chime in to what has worked for you. and if you would like to hear my tip for something feel free to let me know. Enjoy!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Up here in New England we are receiving record rainfall. Our family hasn't been affected much, but many of our friends have. The cloud cover stinks, and I'm never sure when it's going to rain. That makes it difficult to hang the clothes on the line. On Monday I was determined to hang my clothes out even with the cloud cover. The rain held off until both of my loads were dry. The power of positive thinking. Besides the worst thing that can happen is that I'm taking already wet clothes off the line while it is rain and maybe putting it back up after the shower passes, until the next one.

A couple of days ago I was upstairs when I received a phone call. It was from one of the youth that I taught in Sunday School last year. He asked what I was doing, I said nothing and invited him to come over. I heard talking in the background so I was pretty sure he had his sidekicks with him. Not even a minute I smelled cologne wafting up my stairs. It smelled like the boys. I walk down stairs and there they were sitting at my kitchen table. They had been at my door when they called and I hadn't heard them knock because I was upstairs. They had been rained out at the county fair and decided that my house was the place to hang for a few minutes before returning to whatever agenda they had. So I guess I'm cool like that. The boys feel comfortable hanging here so I guess that's good, yo! So I guess I'm cool with the 15-18 year old crowd. Of course, when I was 15-18 I wasn't very cool, so I guess that I'm just getting it 15 years late. I'm having a party tomorrow for the whole class because two of them are headed off to college in a couple of weeks and they all love my cooking. What can I say, I have skilz when it comes to cooking. So I'm off to cook, and cook and cook. Teenage boys can put it away and they have been looking forward to this all summer. The three that were here earlier warned me that they were planning to come hungry. Wish me luck!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Make Mine fresh

This summer we signed up for a CSA, that's Community Supported Agriculture, to those who don't know. A CSA allows you to buy a "share" of the produce from someone else's garden. This is great if you rent, don't have the yard for a garden or just don't like gardening, but love fresh from the garden produce and it's a pretty good bargin to boot. This is pretty popular around here. There's a big "Buy Local" push here. Big surprise. So we're getting all this fresh produce and sometimes I'm not really sure what to do with it. Since tomorrow is our weekly pickup I needed use up a bunch (excuse the pun) of our, beginning to wilt anyway, produce.

Swiss Chard has not gone over well in the past. I've tried several different recipes, but no go. So tonight we tried Lentil Sour Soup. It wasn't bad, let's call it light. We also had fresh green beans made this way and they were delicious! I've also done the green beans with butter, salt and fresh dill, very good, but the girls didn't like them. And we had Kale Chips. Now I know those sound weird, but they are really, really good. Sweetie Heart and I tried them a while ago and she fell in love with them. When I saw kale in the CSA I knew exactly what to do with them. It use Spike Hot 'n Spicy, but I've done them with just the vinegar and salt too and they turned out great!

Usually when we eat there are sour faces, groans and voiced "I don't like that", but not tonight. Although the soup wasn't a favorite with the younger crowd, no one complained. Everyone ate and was fulfilled. Lentils are very nutritious and filling. I love them. The soup was a little bland at first, but seemed to just need more salt. Like I said before, it's a light soup, not one that's going to knock your socks off with flavors. I also used dried onion instead of fresh because they then to make us a bit... well musical if you get my drift. And if we've had onions I hope it doesn't drift your way.

I'm sitting here chucking. I slay myself!