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A Late Night Run to the Coffee Shop

31 Jan

We just completed the last week of our 21 day habit forming project: keeping  bedrooms clean and neat.  It was fun to watch the kids work together to gain points.  I thought it might turn in to more of a competition, but instead the children ended up helping each other out.  Yay!

The bait on the end of the hook was a trip to Starbucks with Dad and Mom.

As the final week went on, three of the kids had an even amount of points, but my littlest princess was lagging behind a bit.

    “Hmmm… maybe I should mess their areas up a bit! ” she schemed.

Fortunately, her siblings had a more gracious approach and encouraged her to find some extra areas in the house to straighten, in hopes of gaining a few more points.

I love the fact that they all wanted to go together!

So… last night at 8:00 we all left the house to have a late night run to the coffee shop and had hot chocolates for everyone!

A special thank you to Uncle Mark and Aunt Merry for the Starbucks gift cards!

Will the rooms be forever clean now???

I think not, but no doubt, we have raised the standard for what is acceptable.

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What’s for breakfast?

24 Jan

This is what we had for breakfast this morning.  It was so good and prettier than my picture shows.  If you, like me, are attempting to eat nutritious food that tastes great, this is worth a try.

Garbanzo Bean Flour Pancakes:

1 1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour

1 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

3 Tbs olive oil

1 cup buttermilk (or water)

2 eggs

I simply combine all of these ingredients together and mix until smooth.  It’s easy to adjust the liquid to make a little thicker or thinner.  Fry on a greased griddle just like a normal pancake. This recipe makes about 20 small pancakes (I usually multiply it for our family).

Today we served sauteed kale, tomatoes, and onions over the cakes with gently fried eggs and sliced avocados.

We’ve used the same batter as a base for a variety of uses: muffins, quick breads, the base for an egg bake… so many options!

This takes a bit more effort than a bowl of boxed cereal, but the benefits are worth the extra effort! With the help of the kids in the kitchen, we can have this breakfast on the table in 1/2 hour.

More Bang for the Buck – the cost of being a stay at home mom

21 Nov

I often wish I could do my part to financially help support our large family.  As I let my mind begin to follow that thought process, it doesn’t take me too long to remember – if I was out working, who would do my job?

So just for fun, I’m going to do a series on looking at the financial benefits of a stay at home mom. I’m not sure where all this will lead, but for today I’m going to begin with groceries.

This last week, Mark came home with several cases of vegetables. In the past, we have always had a walk in cooler, which easily held several boxes of produce.  But presently, we don’t have that option (although the temperature on the back porch is about perfect right now).  Even so, I end up walking a fine line of trying to make the produce last (getting the most meals out of the vegetables), while using them fast enough so as not to let anything spoil.

This last summer, we experimented with the lacto-fermentation process.  If you have never heard of it, it’s worth researching.  There are a number of web sites that are chocked full of information on this particular subject.  I was introduced to it through a book a friend gave me called Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon. In a nut shell, it is a natural process of preserving produce using lactic acid.  “The proliferation of lactobacilliin fermented vegetables enhances their digestibility and increases vitamin levels. These beneficial organisms produce numerous helpful enzymes as well as antibiotic and anticarcinogenic substances”  (Nourishing Traditions).  Not being a chemist, I will say no more and let you research it yourself, if interested. All that being said, today I processed several heads of  cabbage, filling  gallon size pickle jars, for the purpose of making sauerkraut.

Sauerkraut

Cabbage , shredded – enough to fill jar

2 Tablespoons of caraway seeds

2 Tablespoons of sea salt

1/2 of whey

Mix all of these ingredients together in large stainless steel bowl. Pound with a meat hammer for about 10 minutes to let the juices release.  Pack into a clean jar, making sure the liquid covers the top of the cabbage.  Clean the mouth of the jar and place lid on tightly.  Let sit in room temperature for 3 days, then store in cold storage.  Should keep for several months.  Flavors improve with age.

Another recipe I tried today was a Mexican sauerkraut. My hope is that it may take the place of lettuce on Tacos. We’ll see.  In addition, we were able to preserve almost half of the case of green peppers with this method! So, you might wonder what all of this has to do with “the cost of being a stay at home mom”?

Although we spend a tremendous amount on groceries, as a result of buying in bulk, gardening, processing our own food, and cooking from scratch, we spend a fraction of what it could be.  If I were working full time, many trips to the grocery store and quickly prepared processed food would be  mandatory.  Not only would the quality decline (and likely our health), the grocery budget would skyrocket and we would would miss out on the lessons and fun of working together!

I’m sure I’ll come back to grocery subject again and again, but for today I chalk one up for being a stay at home mom!

growing a princess

6 Sep

We have a budding little princess in our house.  Her favorite color is pink.  She likes to make her bed in a “fancy” sort of way. Her preference would always be to have her hair done up with sparkly ribbons and bows, and the wider the dress spins, the better!

I love that she has this passion at her young age, but without direction, her passions could easily lead her into much trouble.

The True Princess, written by Angela Elwell Hunt, has become one of our favorite read aloud books.  Our little daughter loves it because it is about a princess, and I love it because it teaches the characteristics of a true princess.

The story opens as the “generous king” sets out on a journey, leaving his sweet daughter in the care of  her nanny.  “The king instructed Nana to put away the royal robes and crown of the princess and hide her away from the palace. ‘Remember,’ he said, ‘no one would expect a child of the king to be living as a servant.’ ” 

In the everyday life of common people, the little princess learns  to laugh at herself, care for her own needs,  serve rather than be served, and sing joyfully while working – lessons that will benefit her life and others forever.

I am thankful for a little girl that desires to go through the hard work and training to become a “true princess”.

Does your Family- Love your Government?

14 Jul

When your daughter thinks she wants her ears pierced, your 7-18 year old wants to go out running alone, or your vulnerable youth is pressing you for his or her personal autonomy, what happens in your home? What is your response? What is their reaction to your response?

Kudos to you if your children are even asking you, as opposed to just telling you their intentions or showing you their decision, after-the-fact. If you’ve had the benefit to discuss, consult, advise and examine these interests of your children, are they/you encouraged with the exchange, as it takes place? Or, are you frustrated by having blown your cool, at the first mention of the “absurd” desire?Furthermore, are you indignant believing you never had the opportunity to come alongside your child, because these things are beyond your control?

I have experienced these emotions, among many varied exchanges, while dealing with our children’s expressed desires.  I confess to having reacted poorly, as in, “how could you even contemplate such a stupid notion! Absolutely NOT, under no circumstances- my answer is NO! In fact- our discussion is ENDED!” My fears expressed accordingly- that my progeny would even think long enough to have the poor sense to ask, I and they leave each other knowing this was no conversation. Thus, I have reinforced the setting up of a cycle or culture not at all conducive to better and more constructive opportunities on another subject/day.

How do we get to the place where we are renewing daily our opportunity to speak into each others lives? How do we and they want to be spoken and listened to? I have without exaggeration dozens of opportunities, from just the last few days, as examples to share.  I’ll describe just a few.  But first, I have dozens of examples because I spend a delightful amount of time with my kiddos! We are devoted to spending time together.  This environment has been erected over a lifetime of loving to be together. Household culture #1- devoting ourselves to each other, with time, over time, all the time. This is now a universal cornerstone for our family because we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It takes a lot of time together to build re-pore. If we are never together, we have an impossibly hard time gaining this essential family commodity of re-pore.

An adult daughter of mine, asked just this morning- “dad, what would you think of my getting my ears pierced?”  This was not the first time we had talked this over… why, as an adult is she even asking me? My reply was- “of course, if this is what you want”.  I had many years previously asked her to consider waiting awhile to see if she still had the desire, after the passage of time. I didn’t think it would be six plus years between asking. I had simply stated previously that “these days a girl with out pierced ears sure stands out”. My daughter will always stand out because she show’s a lot of respect to her dad, family, and others. Secondly, she governs herself well in self discipline and accountability. This would be household culture#2– governing of ones-self according to Godly principles, by knowing we are all for one and one for all! Understanding that we are responsible for how we conduct ourselves according to that good instruction and example.

If the first order of government is self government by the individual, it behooves us to, by the earliest of ages, to train with example by instruction, counsel, and consequence. Meaning, when the children are very small, after …counsel comes their decision and the consequence. Let them fall …and rise. For while young, they don’t fall as hard and far. They get up, gain insight, greater trust, and responsibility. Another of my teenage children was allowed the opportunity to remain at home, with the older siblings, when we were away for a short trip. During a hike he, against counsel of the older siblings, decided to separate himself from the group.  This caused consternation, along with potential danger, for the older crew left in charge. For too long, they were left looking for him. When we arrived home we did not let this slide but had extensive conversation over the group’s predicament. Consequences for the attitude leading to this decision and for his poor choice and lack of understanding, in leaving the group, were discussed by me and a few of the others involved. To his credit, he did not want to remain ignorant to the effect of separating from the group.  Life lessons like these are good opportunities for growth and incentive to change course, in the future.  There’s always a risk with giving autonomy but the greater risk may be having no breadth of occasion for children to experience, grow, and make decisions, good and bad. I have noticed more good judgment through many experiences over time.

We have another principle that is bedrock to our family.  As for me, and my house, we will serve the Lord (Jesus Christ). Leading to household culture #3- Dad is in Charge, and mom is his number one backer (and btw- mom has a lot of responsibility and the authority to wield it). The Caveat which brings this full circle is dad answers to God, which seems to bring some humility to the whole family paradigm, in living alongside each other in peace and harmony. First and foremost Dad loves Mom- the kids see it all the time. Secondly, Mom respects Dad A LOT (more than is deserved), btw- this makes it really quite easy for me to love her, because I have great joy and confidence. Mom even respects dad when it’s hard, and says that this is made easier for her, knowing all she does is for her Lord (Jesus Christ) anyway. So the glue that holds it all together is~ …our youngest daughter just came in with an iced coffee and handed it to mommy saying “here- this is from God, I mean Yetta…” giggling. ~What we do is serve one another. The family is the perfect place for practice. Principles guide us- not our feelings. But our feelings have grown for each other over the years. We are devoted to one other out of  love for Christ. We have benefited beyond explanation.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

a win, win, win situation

11 Jul

Listening from the kitchen, I could hear the conversations taking place in the next room among the children. The older team was sending their younger brothers and sisters out to do some collecting.  They had gathered together discussing the differences between sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous rocks.  After a few instructions, the hunt began.

This summer, my 8th and 9th grade  daughter and son have the responsibility of teaching a science course to their younger siblings.  The curriculum is called Considering God’s Creation.  Filled with creative projects and coloring pages, the children have fun learning about the universe, earth, plants, animals, and so on.

Not only does this help take pressure off me, but it also enhances the course experience for the children.  One of the best ways to nail down understanding of a subject is to teach it.  As the younger children are learning, the older two are getting an excellent review in preparation for their more difficult courses in the fall.

Although  this method does not come without obstacles, the intrinsic growth by interaction,  family relationship, and practicing communication skills far out weigh the object lesson. First of all, the younger siblings don’t naturally want to give the young and inexperienced “sister and brother teachers” their attention- but what a better way to learn!  By staying close, yet out of sight, I am able to help monitor and listen for behavioral issues that need tending, stepping in, only if needed.  In addition, the “teachers” have a great opportunity to work on developing their own skills (building character all the while).  It takes work and practice to be able to hold the young students attention and present information in such a way that they understand and retain.

With enthusiasm, the kids came running back with their chosen rocks and sorted them into various piles.  They examined each one, and I could hear the ” oohs” and “aahs” from their supportive siblings as they took note of the unique characteristics of the rocks they had compiled together.

You don’t have to wait until your kids are older to try this.   Nurture the ability to learn from each other!    Every age thrives on having responsibilities and being a much needed part of the team.

work together and play together

17 Jun

When summer time comes, I am just as ready to be outside as the kids are.  I want to garden, go for walks, read a book, maybe play a little tennis or go for a swim.  If I’m not deliberate, I will let all of the work of being a wife and mom (which I love) crowd out the play.

Throughout the morning, the kids and I accomplish much. We clean bathrooms, water gardens, bake bread, move laundry, – this week we cleaned the basement… There is never, ever a lack of work to be done! Sometimes we move in teams and other times individually, but we all work.

Why do I make the kids work?  (I say make, because it is something they have to learn, it is not their natural tendency.)

1. They don’t get bored.

2. They learn how to do sooo…  many skills.

3. They learn to set a goal and accomplish it.

4. They sleep better at night.

5. They learn to work together and make it fun.

6. They build strong healthy muscles.

7. They learn to serve others.

8. They become less self focused.

9. They have a greater appreciation of their free time.

10. Many hands make light work!

Even if there isn’t anything I need done, I will look for something for them to put their hands to and conquer.

At lunch time, it all comes to an end and we take some time to shift gears. After a quiet time of reading, resting,or looking at books, it is time to play.  This is the time when the kids ask me if they can do something… or if I will do it with them…  I make a point to say, “Yes!”  “Yes, I will go swimming with you! Yes, we can go for a hike.”  I want to have fun with my kids!

Why do I make myself play?  (I say make, because it is no longer my natural tendency to take time to play.)

1. I don’t get bored.

2. I learn new skills.

3. I sleep better at night.

4. I serve my kids.

5. I learn to play together with them.

6. I become less task focused.

7. I have a better appreciation of what they like to do.

8. I want the kids to know I love to be with them.

9. I am interested in what they’re interested in.

10. I will gain strong healthy muscles.

The summer flies by quickly.  Take time to be deliberate.  Work together. Play together.