He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young
. {Isaiah 40:11}

28 February 2014

Baby, Please Slow Down

Over the past few weeks I have begun to do another round of "thinning" our belongings. It seems that no matter how much I push out the door I can always get rid of more.
This week, I encountered some of the first painful things to let go of. 
I tend not to hang on to "things". I'd like to think I strike some sort of balance between function and beauty (I guess I should ask my husband what he thinks about that). There are few things I am genuinely sentimental about in this world when it comes to "stuff". I have found that the things I have the hardest time letting go of are all related to our four babies. 
In the whirlwind of the plague that hit our home during the past five weeks some of our belongings took a beating. The crib skirt on Baby J's bed needed to be washed at one point and once I took it off I realized that I didn't need it any more. It was the bed skirt I picked out for before CJ, our oldest, was born. I remember waiting in line at Babies 'R' Us excited to have found another piece to put together our first nursery. It has been washed and now lays in a pile of things that we plan to donate. I feel like a little piece of my heart is going with it. 
I went through our kitchen cabinets this week. I came across all the baby food items I used regularly over the past five and a half years. Just looking at the baby food mill and some of the stained bibs that have been through all four of our kids messiest of eating years... there are so many memories wrapped up in the simplest of things. 
Baby J is big enough to go into a forward facing car seat. He still fits into the infant carrier but I just feel like "it's time" to move on from it. It doesn't feel like long ago that I painstakingly went through all my carseat and stroller options for CJ. I knew there was a chance that we would have our kids close and, Lord willing, would have more sons or daughters and I wanted a gender neutral set to last through them all. That carseat held my sleeping babies so many times. It helped me through naptime grocery trips and quick visits to friends' houses. It held squirmy babies still while I wrestled with the others squirmy ones. (I could be assured that at least one of my kids was exactly where I put them.)
Even the frame stroller that Hubs and I bought in Virginia, when we realized it was the smartest piece of baby equipment we could have purchased, is no longer a necessity.
It's bittersweet to see it all go. 
Hubs bought me a glider for my birthday when CJ was born. I rocked each of my babies to sleep in that night after night. From late night nursings to calming down after boo-boos... there are many tender memories with my babies worn into the seat of that chair. 
Don't even get me started on their clothes! Some are easy to let go and others... I struggle with the thought that someone else's child would wear it. Those special pieces are tucked away for another day when, just maybe, they won't be so sentimental. 
I stopped nursing Baby J this week. 
He also started walking last week.
Those certainly don't help all of this. 
I guess I have yet to grab hold of the excitement of no more diapers, no more assistance getting buckled into car seats, and no more cutting up food before meals. 
When Baby J was born, I knew it would, Lord willing, be the last time I stayed in that maternity ward. I adored that building. It was in those rooms that I became a mommy again and again. The night I left, I asked Hubs to take Baby J out to the car while I sat at the foot of the bed and breathed in the room. The humming heating vent, the warm wood furniture, and outdated wallpaper. I sauntered down the halls where I paced and paused and moaned saying goodbye to all the little things that I collected in my memory over the years. 
I try to stop, often in the middle of the chaos that comes with four children (five and under), to breathe in my kids and these crazy things they do. 
I will never forget the first time my oldest three were in the car and all crying at the very same time. I had to decide to either cry with them or just acknowledge the impossibility of the situation and laugh. 
Oh, did I laugh! 
As I knew nursing Baby J was winding down, I was intentional about being in the moment with him. I listened to the rhythm of his breathing, I traced his face with my finger trying to remember every inch of him at that single moment. 
When Bean was sick this past month she just wanted to "nuggle wit'choo" and as I held her, she lay perfectly still, her tiny body completely at rest in my arms. At almost three years old, our little peanut still fits just right in my arms. 
Our family of six took a late night walk through the greenhouse last night and Hubs and I intently watched as Miss Mak biked through the entire place giggling and singing "When I fix my eyes on all that you are every doubt I feel deep in my heart grows strangely dim..." at the top of her lungs. 
...May those words seep deep into her heart.
And of course, CJ, the boy who made me a mommy for the first time... as tall as he is getting, he still gives a full-body-monkey-hug to me and Hubs at night before bed. No matter how big our skinny boy grows he still runs to the window to wave to Hubs when he leaves for work. He still asks that we pray for him because he's not sure he'll get the words right. He still looks like the fragile baby boy I held for the first time over five-and-a-half years ago when he's sleeping. 
Please, babies, slow down. 
Don't be so quick to grow up. 
... and if time won't slow down for me... 
Please, God let me drink them in like this just a little longer. 
Let me remember these moments exactly as they are. Chaos and all. 
Please let me not waste a single moment.

28 January 2014

What If?

About six years ago I felt a unsettling in my heart. Some call it a "stirring".
Hubs and I, once again, pulled out of our basically rural neighborhood heading into the city for Sunday morning worship.
Hubs noted that we drove past church after church to get to the one we were currently attending and I had to admit to myself that I never cared to seek out the individuals in those buildings because their large signs told me things about that collective body that probably wasn't "my thing".
Then it hit me.
Isn't this the way the enemy works?
Isn't this how he keeps us from fully experiencing community with others?
And the one word I heard over and over in my head was "division".
What if we accepted  that one of, if not THE, best tactic Satan has in our lives is to "divide and conquer?".
He preys on our fears.
He preys on our desire to be liked.
He preys on our self importance when we see the numbers in the church grow.
He preys on our self defeat when we see them go down.
He preys on our judgmental hearts when hear music that is too loud or too boring coming out our open church windows.
He preys on our judgement of those who love too many and look past too much.
He preys on the well funded as well as the impoverished.
There is nothing in our lives, but the love of God, that the enemy cannot create division in the midst of.
And those on the outside see it. Yes, our division goes beyond just hurting us but it sucker punches the reputation of the One in charge. It makes Him seen in-credible. It makes Him seem silly and weak.
It makes Him a joke to outsiders.

There is an illustration I've heard here and there that speaks directly to my point.
In short, the story tells of an ember that is pulled out of a fire and how, after a time, it fades away and eventually dies out leaving only a whisp of smoke to snake away into thin air.
I can't help but see the local church like embers scattered all over the hearth.
Sure, some are still smoldering and untouchable but others are fading out and still others have lost all glow. But, just as in the illustration the ember is returned to the fire and life is renewed to the ember to burn hotly again, the local church cannot only be rekindled but the more embers you draw together, the hotter the smoldering and a chance for re-ignition.

I grew up here, in New England, and am well versed in the slowness to connect with others. We're cautious by nature. I often think that in the midst of that, New England followers of Christ tend to focus on what makes us different and forget the one thing that unifies us for the rest of eternity. I think that's part of why I get so excited when I pass a person with a "Jesus fish" on the back of their vehicle. I think to myself, "there goes a brother or sister! It's not just me out here! I'm not alone!"
I often wonder if the Holy Spirit stirs in each of us when He connects with Himself as believers gather in  the way John did when Mary went to visit Elizabeth. There's an almost tangible excitement when different parts of the Body of Christ come together. The Bride begins to take form before our very eyes.
How often do we steal this excitement from ourselves when we refuse to join together?
How often do we let the enemy win battle after battle because we're afraid of being uncomfortable?

So...
What if we, collectively, get over ourselves... stopped taking our man made "-isms" so seriously?
What if we put our denominational and stylistic pride aside?
What if we were all will to be uncomfortable because we understand the great likelihood that we are all actually uncomfortable, in this moment, together?
What if we, despite our apprehension, got together on neutral ground and made it all about our single, most important commonality?

Would we taste heaven?




24 January 2014

Free Nutritional Info...

And all the work has been done for you!
I talked before about how and why we started living a "Paleo lifestyle" not long ago and thought I'd pass on this little tidbit.


Paleocon is a huge series of interviews with individuals at the top of their fields (nutrition, holistic healing, whole foods, raw diet, cooking, athletic training, clean eating with kids, women's health, general health, natural beauty, and more!) that you can play on your computer. Oh, did I mentioned they're all FREE?!

I have listened to several of these type summits over the past year or two and find the information so beneficial. Not only do these types of series offer you loads of great research but they also point you in the direction of where to learn more and make your own decisions on what's best for your family.
I just figured I'd pass it on.
Since it's free, what is there to lose?

Check it out at Paleocon.com

25 December 2013

Merry Christmas 2013!

 We pray you have a blessed Christmas 
and a wonderful New Year! 




14 December 2013

it's the simple things...

Mom took the girls out to get their nails done this week.
I got to stay home and play with the boys...
and the camera :)







  




 (Baby J is incredibly patient!)


 







13 December 2013

It's Not About Us: Step 2

More sit downs.
More time on the phone.
Sometimes the long version.
Sometimes the short.
Always good.
Always well accepted.
More excitement!
They're getting it!
They're seeing the need and supporting a solution.
The Mr. and I sit down and talk it out.
We have fears... uncertainties... We've never been down this road before.
We decide that just because it seems hard and that it may be uncomfortable doesn't mean we shouldn't press on.
I ask myself "Why has He given this to me? "
He knows why and I know Him so one foot slips into place in front of the other.
My hands are shaky, my shortcomings are countless, my voice may not carry, it may not be the success I envision but He says "Go." and so I go.
They've begun to ask questions. Often the same ones.
They're looking in my direction for answers and I look behind me to see the one they're asking to. There's no one there.
This is strange. It can't be right. I've never led like this.
My help comes from the Lord and already He is answering the requests that I didn't know to pray.
Like an expectant mother, a position with which I am well acquainted, I wait.
I known the parts are forming and multiplying beneath the surface.
Details I will never know of begin to fall into place.
This...
This is going to be good!

10 December 2013

It's Not About Us: Step 1

Years have passed.
I have been brushing away the nuisance of the action I have felt called to.
"It's too big, God."
"I'm a woman."
"They'll never come."
"They've said no to my requests before."
Granted, previous attempts were feeble.
My faith was small.
Really, who cares about my ideas anyway?
How can I expect them to be on board when I don't even know if this is from God?
If an idea is good does it make it Godly?
This isn't like choosing to paint my kitchen orange or put the Christmas tree in the opposite corner this year...
This is going before hundreds, maybe thousands, with opinions, judgments, wealth, education, pride.
I am asking them to lay all that aside and unite with the unknown.
This is asking a lot.
So I called upon some friends.
Some rather conveniently positioned friends with convenient titles and contacts.
Friends with whom I have particularly long histories dating back to tree forts and best friend charms.
The reception was warm and igniting.
There is an easy understanding of the difficult task ahead. The voices in my head tell me that the picture must be perfect... the answers must be certain and specific... the terms must be agreeable...
How?!
Frustration swells.
I am not selling magazine subscriptions here!
I am suggesting linking arm and arm with others...
Storming the very gates of hell before they take up permanent residence here.
Holding tight to the promise that "If [we, HIS] people, who are called by [HIS] name will humble [ourselves]... pray...turn from [our] wicked ways... seek [HIS] face... then [HE] will hear from heaven...forgive [our] sin... heal [our] land." 2 Chron 7:14.
That's right.
We should go to the heart of the problem and inject a bit of Jesus.
If the rocks will cry out, so will the brick and morter, the pavement and steel.
But it all begins with going back to where we first went wrong...
Can we do that?
Somewhere along the way we stumbled and found comfort down with the gravel.
Somewhere along the way we decided that our comfort was more important than honoring the Creator.
What, but God, will motivated the hearts of men to stand again, hand-in-hand, put our pride to death, and call upon the name of the Lord in one voice, then patiently wait for His reply.
Will they come?
Will they join in?

I guess we're about to find out.

04 December 2013

Zuppa Toscana

When we started eating a Paleo diet we began with a lot of salads. Since it was mid-spring/early summer it was pretty easy to come up with fresh ingredients and quick meals but as we got deeper and deeper into fall and the fresh ingredients became harder and harder to find, I began to get nervous that I was going to fall back into old habits just to get by. 
This week I thought I'd share a few recipes that have seriously helped our family from feeling the "winter pinch" and keep on track and best yet, they're delicious! 
Amy's image found at Paleo Cupboard
I liked this recipe from the start but it took Hubs a couple of tries to really like it and now he loves it. I made it just this week and he was raving, which is quite abnormal for him. Either way, the sweetness of the turnips may throw you a curve at first bite but the flavors meld so well together and what's better, you can throw this recipe together super fast. 
(Some Ingredients: chicken broth, sausage, turnips, kale, almond milk, garlic, onion)

03 December 2013

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

When we started eating a Paleo diet we began with a lot of salads. Since it was mid-spring/early summer it was pretty easy to come up with fresh ingredients and quick meals but as we got deeper and deeper into fall and the fresh ingredients became harder and harder to find, I began to get nervous that I was going to fall back into old habits just to get by. 
This week I thought I'd share a few recipes that have seriously helped our family from feeling the "winter pinch" and keep on track and best yet, they're delicious! 
Today...

Martha Stewart's 
Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup
originally found on MarthaStewart.com
and a version with a couple of my own tweaks found here.
It's simple to put together and it's absolutely delicious. That's really all I need to say. Seriously, just try it. 
(Ingredients: chicken thighs, onion, butternut, chicken broth, cumin, salt, pepper, lemon juice)

02 December 2013

Chocolate Chili

When we started eating a Paleo diet we began with a lot of salads. Since it was mid-spring/early summer it was pretty easy to come up with fresh ingredients and quick meals but as we got deeper and deeper into fall and the fresh ingredients became harder and harder to find, I began to get nervous that I was going to fall back into old habits just to get by. 
This week I thought I'd share a few recipes that have seriously helped our family from feeling the "winter pinch" and keep on track and best yet, they're delicious! 
First up...

Melissa Joulwan's
Chocolate Chili 
Image from The Clothes Make the Girl
I make Melissa's recipe about once a week and I always double the recipe. It has been a delicious Sunday lunch while watching whatever games happen to be on and it's great reheated for lunches (and that's coming from a girl who does NOT enjoy leftovers). 
The only thing I do different from Melissa's original recipe is hold back on some of the chili powder. It's not hot, per se, (and I'm a wimp when it comes to heat) it's just a bit too much for our kids' delicate palates.




12 November 2013

We're Going On A Diet...

I honestly have no idea if I ever mentioned this on here... but let's assume that I didn't for a second.
Our family made a bit of a lifestyle change this past spring when we decided to look into the Paleolithic/Primal diet.
I think the word "diet" is a bit of a misnomer, actually.
It has become more like a lifestyle for us.
Our Story...
It actually began back in January or February of this year. My brother and sister-in-law had mentioned they were eating "caveman style" and when I asked what exactly that meant they said it was eating the way cavemen did.
Huh.
I still wasn't sure what that looked like but when they said it meant cutting out grains I laughed and said the most commonly spoken words when talking to a proponent of homeschoolers, minimalists, and caveman wannabees... "I could never do that!"
The mere thought of giving up noodles, potatoes, or breads was borderline blasphamy in our house.
When I told Hubs about it we both agreed "it would be impossible.....right?"
To be honest, we couldn't argue with the idea that more veggies in our diet would be a good thing but seriously, what do you replace bread with at the dinner table?! We ALWAYS had meat, we ALWAYS had a veggie side dish (usually of boiled corn, peas, green beans, or a salad), and we ALWAYS had a starch and we usually ate more of the bread/potato/pasta than anything else on our plates.
How on earth were we supposed to feel satisfied?
Living off rabbit food didn't sound too appetizing and since greens are so light and non-filling we'd probably spend a fortune in grocery bills just to remain satisfied.

So later that week I made the executive decision to swap the starch with another veggie and see how it went. One night, instead of salad and bread we had sweet potato and a salad. Another night, instead of a cheese burger with a bun we had a cheese burger in a lettuce wrap.
For about a week we made these simple swaps and something strange began to happen...
I noticed that I no longer got the bloated, gassy feeling after a meal. (TMI?)
I didn't feel heavy and icky after a meal which, to be honest, was something I had become accustomed to.
The first change I noticed after a couple of weeks was that for most of my life I had assumed the way I felt after a meal was normal. I assumed feeling tired after a meal was just my body focusing its energy on digesting.
NO, my friend! What I took as a normal sign of a happy, full belly was really my body's way of telling me that it was struggling with what I had just ingested. My stomach wasn't sure of what to do with the things I had just overloaded it with. Silly me!
What I'm saying is that I was thirty years old before I knew what it felt like to feel satiated without feeling sick.

And that's why I'm sharing this with you today...
I'm not a doctor. I'm not even a nurse. At best, I'm a mom of four, a wife of one and caretaker of this body I have been given and I can only tell you, based on my own personal experience, that changing our families eating habits have changed parts of our lives in a way that we can never turn back from. We just can't.

We have been eating differently for a little over nine months now. My meat loving, carb-loading husband, who was very much afraid of feeling hungry all the time now loves our diet. It didn't take him long to get on board when he realized how good he felt after eating a meal. For me, I have a lot more energy than I had before. I don't crash after meals like I used to. My mood has been generally better (or so I think... you may want to double check with Hubs). My favorite part - and the part that surprised me the most - is that I don't crave things I used to. I thought for sure I'd miss bread and want to sneak it constantly but to be honest, we rarely have it (when we go out or others cook) and when we do, it's not hard to control ourselves unlike in the past. I also thought that my sugar cravings would go through the roof if I cut myself off. Just a year ago Hubs and I smuggled away much of the kid's Halloween candy and snacked on it more often than we'd like to admit. This year, we have barely touched it. I also found that when I have had the desire to sneak a piece I've turned to my homemade chocolate bar that contains no refined sugars and just a piece or two keeps me satisfied and kills my longing for more. Don't get me wrong, we have the occassional Reese's, ice cream, or quesadilla but we don't eat much and don't leave longing for more. In fact, I often find that the things that used to be treats now taste funny and not much like real food.
So What is Paleo?
I found that the most valuable resource to get started, for me, was a book called Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo. I first checked it out at the library to make sure it was worth my while and I loved it so much that I immediately bought the Kindle version. (I'm pretty sure I'll end up with the paperback version in the near future as well.)
Yes. It's THAT good.
There are so many great sources on why the Paleo/Primal/Caveman diet is so good, and even necessary. They explain why the generally accepted food pyramid should be turned on it's head. They explain why grains are no longer beneficial to your body the way they were created to be. They cover how a low fat diet is actually starving your brain of the goodness it needs to function at its best and how natural fats like those found in bacon are... wait for it... good.for.you!

So let's cut to the chase, right? What does a Paleo diet mean you have to give up?
The more you research "real food" the more common these "bad guys" become...

The No-No's...
Grains - especially wheat and corn.
Legumes - most people are confused about this one... to the best of my understanding it has to do with their indigestibility and how they make your body work to break them down. If you're familiar with soaking your grains or beans before cooking or consuming them, I believe it's for the same reasons as soaking helps "pre-digest" these foods.
Refined Sugars - this means basically anything other than maple syrup and honey though I've found that some also consider xylitol and stevia Primal-friendly.
Diary - This, like grains, has more to do with what modern farming, processing, and regulations have done to milk. If you're not familiar with what happens between milking a cow and consuming your milk... let's just say... it's gross. Many skip dairy altogether but I've encountered enough others who are absolutely fine with raw dairy that it seems either way you're good.
Soy - I don't know if this should fall under a grain but just to be certain it's included I'll give it's own catagory. Most soy is not accepted because, like corn, and dairy, it has been so messed with that it is no longer good for the body.

Now... before you laugh and ask "what exactly does that leave me with?!"... I can't think of a single recipe I love that hasn't been reworked and made Paleo friendly. Most importantly, as I said before, after a short adjustment period, our family stopped craving most of the things we used to long for.
A First Hand Testimony...
Our beautiful Miss Mak has been the pickiest eater in our family from day one. She never liked vegetables and by age 1 we already knew she'd be another carb-loading love bug. When given a mix of finger foods including Cheerios, beans, sweet potato, and chicken, she would always eat the Cheerios and leave the rest. I got smart and stopped offering the Cheerios and then, and only then, she'd eat all the sweet potato and leave everything else. If it wasn't sweet or wasn't grain-laden, she wasn't having it. There was no fooling her either. I'd hide it, she'd find it, or would just flat out refuse it. This was a habit that carried her into the beginning of her third year of life. In the spring, when we began eating differently, I'd worry that she wouldn't eat anything and occasionally let her have baked pretzels with her meal but realized, quickly, that it was a slippery slope, and that she, again, always opted for the grains first. So we began only offering pretzels or tortilla chips as a bonus at the end of a meal and eventually phased out those kinds of snacks altogether. And the most amazing thing happened.... after about 6 weeks, as if someone flipped a switch... Mak began requesting things like kale...and avocado... and even the occasional asparagus! She used to ask for cereal and oatmeal every day for breakfast and now does a happy dance when I offer her scrambled eggs and bacon for the 60th morning in a row.
I cannot fully express the miracle this is!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, every.single.night when Miss Mak asks me what's for dinner, no matter what my answer is, her response is always "I don't like that!" or "Ew, gross!" But for several months now we have explained that "It is either what is on the table or nothing." and she has not gone to bed hungry once. From Roasted Butternut Soup with Chicken, to Chocolate Paleo Chili, to Kale Chips... she eats it.
 
What Our Diet Looks Like Now...
We eat a lot of things but I'm finding that an accidental trend is that we're beginning to eat more "seasonally" than we ever have before. Pineapple, tomatoes, kale, and green peppers in the summer. Apples, butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin in the fall. Stews and soups in the winter and early spring, etc.
In general we eat a LOT of eggs (about 4 dozen a week for our family of six). We eat a lot of greens in the form of fresh and wilted salads. We also eat a good bit of meat in the form of ground beef, chicken thighs, and ground pork mixed with fennel and sage to make our own homemade sausage mix. We also have a good bit of nuts and dried fruit for snacks as well as homemade chocolate, as I mentioned before.
I have found some amazing recipes and resources on Pinterest and if you happen to use Pinterest I have saved several of our favorites on my Paleo boards that you can find and follow using the link: Pinterest Boards

If this all seems a bit overwhelming then I assure you, you're not alone and there are wonderful guides out there to help you along. I am no expert. We, as a family, are wandering our way through all of the information out there, but once we learn something, like how far removed our food has become from how God intended it, we can't unlearn it and thankfully there are many more sources that will help explain about it all and what you can do much better than I can.
Practical Paleo Cookbook
Dr. Axe
Joel Salatin - youtube.com search 

A few of my favorite recipe sites are:
George Bryant - The Civilized Caveman
Lindsay Kujawa - Delighted Momma
Danielle Walker - Against All Grain




01 November 2013

Calendar for Tots

Oma and Opa went away for two whole weeks and promised my kiddos a special lunch upon their return.
You can imagine how many times I knew, over the course of those weeks, I'd be hearing "Are Oma and Opa back yet?!"
Maybe you've experienced something like this when your kids are looking forward to visitors, parties, or vacations.
I'm here to offer you an INCREDIBLY simple and helpful tip that will save loads of questions and get the kids excited about the upcoming festivities.
Cut white printer paper, notebook pages, or construction paper into strips long enough to create links.
Signify a big event by picking a brightly colored page or ink.
On each strip, write a date starting and continue writing dates on the strips through the date of the event, being sure to starting the numbers over if you cross over from one month into another.
Each morning, have your little ones tear a link off the chain.
That's it!
After the first day or two they'll likely not need to be reminded to tear a link off the chain and you'll find that they'll inform you of what's going on and maybe be your reminder for events you tend to forget about.
It's quite handy, really!
 
Additional Tips: 
- Encourage number recognition as you create the links by writing dates on each strip, jumbling the strips, and having your kids put them in order as you staple them into links.
- For your kiddos who read, write general scheduled events like soccer practice or field trips so they can keep track of what they have to look forward to.
On a related note...  Only 27 days until Thanksgiving and 54 days till Christmas!

30 October 2013

No Eggs? No Problem!

Since we've been changing our eating habits I've begun to have some random ingredients around the house. I'll be honest, the bag of chia seeds I purchased sat in the cabinet untouched for several months before I found a purpose.
And then I ran out of eggs. 
Thanks to the good ol' interwebs I found out that that bag of odd black seeds would work as a handy substitute. 
You'll Need:
1 T chia seeds
3 T water

To Do:
Using a coffee or spice grinder (I supposed a morter and pestel would work as well), grind the seeds to a fine powder. 
In a small bowl, combine the seed powder and water and stir with a fork until well mixed.
Let sit for 10 or so minutes until thickened to a nice eggy consistency.
Use as a single egg replacement and duplicate as needed. 



See, maybe oddball ingredients aren't so bad to have on hand after all! 


28 October 2013

Most Mornings...

I don't know about your house but in ours, the morning can make or break our day.
Unfortunately, many days don't start out ideally.
Maybe you can relate.
Baby wakes around 5:00 to eat then goes back to bed. I crawl back into bed desperate to suck every second out of the remaining half hour I have before I start the day.
Sometimes I get that sleep.
Sometimes I don't.
Either way... almost always... an adorable blonde child wakes far too early for either of our own good and, despite GREAT measures taken to darker her room in order to avoid this, is ready for the day and asking for "breffest". Shortly after, another beautiful blonde babe wakes, walks into the kitchen (where I am generally preparing breakfast at this point) collapses and curls up on the floor in nothing but his underwear telling me he's cold, and refusing to get dressed because he's TOO cold and insists that "watching something on the couch" will make all his problems disappear.
Yeah, right.
So after a bit of half-hearted fussing and fake tears, the oldest children get themselves dressed and generally leave their pajamas and previous night's underwear in the foyer. By now, "breffest" has been made and the little ones are ready to eat.
I put their plates before them and, inevitably, no matter what is on their plate before them, I hear "buuuuut I don't waaaaaant thaaaat!"
I politely inform them that "It's this, or nothing" and leave the room.
They quietly pick up their forks.
It's time to get the third child from her bed and bring her to join the party. The oldest three are eating and that allows me a bit of time to get the kitchen picked up from breakfast making; empty the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, get a bed or two made.
Then it's time to clean up and this sounds simple so far. Right?
Well.... this is also just about where everything unravels...
The kiddos want to play. The third child wishes to get dressed on their own but isn't physically capable of doing so alone, yet. There's a lot of fussing and yelping when help is offered.Then there's a lot of fussing and yelping when help is not offered. Meanwhile the other two run circles around the living room pulling out every book they can find and cover the couches, chair, ottoman, and carpet. As I'm instructing them to clean up the mess they've just made (which generally leads to one picking up and the other sitting on the floor cluelessly picking at an imaginary loose thread on the carpet) the third child has undressed and is trying to put her shoes on the wrong feet.
Oh yeah... and baby has awoken and is unhappy.
I ask the oldest, who has become distracted by the books he was told to clean up, to go to his room where he will find the baby, who is desperate to seek out and consume small scraps of lint off the carpet. The oldest is to open curtains and chat with the baby while I redress the third and try to get the girls' hair done.
Hair is an adventure in our home since there are apparently many, quickly shifting opinions on the color of hair ties, the number of "tails" that will be created, the color of hair clips, whether or not hair spray will be used to keep fly-aways at bay, and "What-on-earth-did-you-manage-to-get-in-your-hair?!-You-just-showered-last-night!!"
After much fuss from all three of us girls, their hair is near perfectly coiffed and I send the two girls to get their shoes on. At this point I go and open the van door in our secure garage and inform them they are to get in their carseats and begin buckling while I finish getting ready.
The oldest is sent to my bathroom so I can spike his newly "faux-hawked" dome-piece and while he saunters off I get the baby out and begin to change him which inevitably leads to a long and frustrating search for the baby wipes.
While looking for the wipes I hear the girls playing or fighting (depends on the day) in the garage and I head out to get both of the still-barefoot-babes locked into their seats where I can be assured of their safety. I throw two pairs of the easiest-to-reach-don't-care-if-they-match shoes I can find into the car with them (after all, they're just going to be taken off during the ride anyway, right?)
Now...back to the boys' room.
I seem to have misplaced the baby who crawls fast and hides well.
Meanwhile, I have totally forgotten about the oldest who is patiently waiting ("Bless you, child!").
I find the baby under the dining table picking at the previous night's scraps that didn't make it into the vacuum bag.
Hubs or I were too tired to notice whether or not the vacuum was even running when we cleaned the dining room.
I "wrastle" baby's wiggly tush and change him faster than a NASCAR pit crew and secure him into his seat and place him in the middle of the house to watch and judge the rest of my "getting ready routine".
I get my shoes on, grab water bottles, lunches, backpacks, diaper bags, grab baby, and car keys and load up the car.
As I return to the house to make my final sweep and head to the driver's seat I hear my oldest sweetly humming his history sentence as he's still waiting in our bathroom. I run back with profuse apologies, slow down just enough to spike his hair with product, and send him to get his shoes and buckle up.
At this point I SLOWLY stroll to the car because I am just happy for the few seconds of quiet and clean when the peace is shattered by one girls screaming at the other and the baby is, once again, not happy.
<deep breath>
Sometimes this is where it ends and all is well from here on out.
More often then not this is where I back out the car and start to close the garage door only to realize I have left my phone, wallet, or freshly brewed coffee (sanity saver) on the counter and have to run back in (I often worry that the neighbors see this almost daily dance and question my mental stability).
The whole ordeal almost always ends with a required few moments of silence to regain composure, slow, purposeful breathing, and a group prayer where we all list things we're thankful for because ... well... we need to be reminded.

Tell me I'm not alone...

21 October 2013

I Think I've Discovered The Problem...

It's been over a month since I last dropped in to say hello. 
Huh. 

Well anyway... I'm back, for the moment. I've had lots of ideas swimming through my head and am hoping to get share some of it here. I think I've discovered my blogging problem. I really enjoy sharing ideas on here. As I've said many times before, I started this blog to document ideas, experiences, and experiments as sort of a personal journal. Ideally I'd sit down for a few minutes a day and jot down what I've done/tried etc. 
And the problem is... 
The only computer we have is downstairs, out of sight and out of mind, which is great when I'm trying to focus on the kids and the day to day stuff that needs to be done. It is NOT great when I'm trying to keep track of a quick thought. or recipe. 
Hm... 
Anyone have a laptop they don't need? 


17 September 2013

Family Friendly "Jello"

I don't know about you but our kids love them some jiggly Jello and since actual Jello isn't exactly Paleo approved (corn byproduct, artificial flavoring, good ol' red dye #40, and aspartame, blah, blah, blah...) It's just another box I pick up, browse over the ingredients, and put back on the shelf with a saddened sigh.
But no more!
I found a super simple recipe that I can feel good about and now it's a regular snack in our house!
I'm offering the basic recipe here but what's fantastic is that it's a very flexible recipe.
First things first, gelatin (the stuff that makes Jello and "Jello" alike all jiggly) is, oddly enough, from animal collagen found in its bones, tendons, etc. It's put in many food items (marshmallows, candy, etc.) because of the consistency it creates. It's also known to have many health benefits for your joints, nails, hair, skin, and digestive health and since our family sees good digestive health as the key to good health in general, we try to eat it regularly. The key to consuming gelatin for health purposes has a great deal to do with the source as well and whereas gelatin from grass-fed beef is ideal, conventional gelatin is better than nothing.

So without further ado...
For Tea Gelatin:
You'll Need: 
4 tbsp Great Lakes Beef Gelatin or 4 packets (1 box) Knox unflavored Gelatin
1 cup cold water
1-2 tbsp honey (optional)
3 cups boiling water
4 flavored tea bags

What To Do:
Start by placing gelatin in the 1 cup of cold water, stir to incorporate, let sit for 5 minutes.
Place the 4 tea bags in the hot 3 cups of water and let steep for 10 or so minutes. Remove the tea bags, add in the honey (how much you add is to taste), stir to mix. By now the gelatin mixture will be a solid mass. Add the "blob" of gelatin into the hot water and stir well until gelatin dissolves. (I sometimes pour this mixture back into a saucepan and heat a little if I have let the ingredients cool too much.) Pour entire contents into an ungreased 9x13 pan and cool for 3 or so hours. (It will be edible sooner but it truly firms up after the whole 3 hours.) Enjoy!
For Juice Gelatin:
You'll Need: 
4 tbsp Great Lakes Beef Gelatin or 4 packets (1 box) Knox unflavored Gelatin
1 cup cold water
3 cups juice or other flavored liquid you'd enjoy eating in gelatinous form

What To Do:
Start by placing gelatin in the 1 cup of cold water, stir to incorporate, let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat your juice on the stove top until steaming (it doesn't need to boil). By now the gelatin mixture will be a solid mass. Add the "blob" of gelatin into the hot juice and stir well until gelatin dissolves. (I sometimes pour this mixture back into a saucepan and heat a little if I have let the ingredients cool too much.) Pour entire contents into an ungreased 9x13 pan and cool for 3 or so hours. (It will be edible sooner but it truly firms up after the whole 3 hours.) Enjoy!

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