Sunday, December 5, 2010

When I Grow Up . . .

Do you ever feel like you are not grown up? Or look at your children and think you are not old enough to have kids? I do. I'm 34 years old and sometimes I still feel like I'm an immature teen playing at being an adult.
I looked at myself in the mirror this morning and wondered when I would grow up. When I would feel like an adult. When my life would seem real, and not like I fell down the rabbit hole.
My life is very real. I have bills to pay, children to raise, a house to clean, groceries to buy and a table at which to feed my family. Yet, I still wonder when it will feel real and not like I am playing house.
As we were decorating the house for Christmas, I had a thought that my life seemed kind of surreal. Here I was, all grown up, a house of my own, a husband and two little kids; and yet, I didn't feel like I was an adult.
I'm not sure when I will feel like I've grown up. I'm just going to enjoy each day, especially this Christmas season, where we celebrate the birth of Jesus. I'm enjoying seeing it with fresh eyes, though my children. I need to remember to enjoy the life that God has blessed me with, and, whether I feel adult or not, maybe I can have a child-like heart and a new perspective.

Monday, November 29, 2010

One Meal

Sometimes it is not easy to figure out what to feed my kids. My son isn't that picky, but he often doesn't want to stop playing to eat. So, for dinner one night, I gave Eldest what I called a One Meal, meaning, there was one of a lot of different items:
one bite of a leftover meal
piece of string cheese
grape
dried cranberry
olive
carrot
wheat puff
pickle
cheddar cheese cube
mandarin orange wedge
cheerio
'Daddy cereal' Quaker Oat Square
Ritz
gummy vitamin
macaroon
circle of bread with peanut butter on it
star puff
pea
cashew
raisin
slice of quesadilla
baby puff
marshmallow star

It was a big hit. He has asked for it many times, and he at least tries everything I put on the plate. It also gets him to the table without complaint.
I've also learned that calling something a silly name makes it more appetizing. Take for instance, Spaghetti-O's. At first they were car tires, and then they became train wheels when his interest waned. He ate up his "train soup" with gusto last night. Mission accomplished!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sidetracked

As an adult, I often get sidetracked from what I am doing and forget to go back. I also get distracted easily and my attention wanders. Is it any wonder that little kids so easily forget what they are doing?
I am often frustrated at my son because he is taking his time about doing something. I remember watching a mom deal with her forgetful 4 year old. She reminded him gently what he was supposed to be doing and then said, as an aside, "The little ones get distracted so easily and forget. I have to remind them about their task so they can finish it."
It takes more patience on my part than I think I have. But I have to remember, it is not defiance from my son, it is just a trait of being three. I am trying to patiently and gently remind him of his task. Often, I find myself asking him, "Did you forget what you were doing? Do you need a reminder?" If I use this tactic, he usually says, "Oh yeah!" and goes on to continue his task.
It has taken me almost 30 minutes to write this because I have many distractions in my house. Not just kid distractions, but kitchen, laundry, bathroom and cleaning distractions. I however, am old enough to know that I need to finish my task. My job is to instill that knowledge into my children, and to do it gracefully.
Lord, help me to remember that my frustrations at my son are something I have control over. Help me remember that he is only three and that the forgetfulness is part of the territory. Help me to remember to be gracious to my son.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

All my life, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would say I wanted to be a wife and a mother. Even when I went back to finish my bachelor's degree, all of my classmates knew that I wanted to have babies after I graduated.
Well, I have achieved my dream. I have been a wife for 10 years and a mom for almost 4 years. I live in a house with a backyard and I get to stay home and take care of my family and household. I love my life.
It is a good to remind myself of this every once in a while. Today, my children are getting on my nerves, I have ruined part of our Thanksgiving dinner, and my husband is at work.
God has chosen me to be the mom of these children; chosen me to be the wife of my husband; chosen me to be privileged enough to stay home to raise my children; chosen me as one of His children.
I am glad we have a national holiday that reminds us to give thanks. I often think that, as an American, I take my life for granted. I wish we had a little larger house so my kids didn't have to share a room, a little larger yard so they could have room to play and I could have a garden. My pastor often reminds us that as long as we have food, clothing, and shelter, we are better off than 3/4 of the world. I must remember to be thankful for what God has blessed me with, because it is His gift to me, not what I deserve. God's grace is sufficient for me. Another way to say that is that I am blessed with more than I deserve, and I should not complain about the presents I have been given.
It is a good reminder, as my children scream at each other, that I have been blessed. That God has given these children to me to teach me about His blessings.
Thank you, Lord, for the blessings you have given me. Help me be mindful of them and not take them for granted.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mercy and Grace

Mercy: Not getting the punishment you deserve
Grace: Getting something good you do not deserve
My MOPS meeting last week had a large impact on my mothering. The speaker gave so much practical advice and words of wisdom that I am still processing it.
She didn't come armed with only her own wisdom, but she asked her friends for their wisdom as well. She said the responses were from women ranging in age from the early 20's to the late 80's. One of the ladies gave this advise: have boundaries cloaked in grace.
At first this stumped me (and I am still muddling through the meaning). I have boundaries for my children. But what does it mean to have them cloaked in grace? It means that I need to model and verbalize grace and mercy towards my children. And how do I do this? By allowing a little flexibility in the discipline zone. [I realize I should explain that I am talking about dealing with my 3 yr old. My 1 yr old still needs the consistency of discipline every time.]
The other day, my dear three-and-a-half-year-old son lied to me. It was an out and out lie, and he knew it. It deserved discipline, and he knew that as well. But I told him I was going to be merciful to him and not give him the discipline he knew he deserved. I also told him that next time he lied to me like that, I was not going to be merciful to him, and he was going to have consequences.
Then yesterday, grace happened when I gave my DS the hot chocolate he wanted, but did not merit, due to a bad attitude that morning. I realize now that I should have told him I was being gracious to him and explained about grace, but I didn't. I eagerly await the next opportunity to model and verbalize mercy and grace to my son.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Gentleness

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

I'm learning that not only does a gentle word turn away wrath, but a gentle tone of voice. When I speak to my kids with annoyance in my voice, they respond with either annoyance or anger. And this just makes me more annoyed. But I've found that when I speak softly and with a gentle tone, not only do they listen better, but their anger is often diffused quicker.
Eldest has been having attitude problems lately. Namely, he is refusing to do what he was asked to and defiantly saying, "No, I don't want to do it." This is not acceptable, and it is frustrating my husband and me. I'm still not sure exactly how to deal with this attitude, but speaking to him with gentleness and love helps the situation. Because while he may still be defiant, my own heart is not responding in kind, and that helps my attitude.
I am not a gentle person by nature, so God is helping me remember that I need to be gentle to my children. Using a soft and gentle tone of voice is helping all of us to have better attitudes.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sibling Squabbles

My kids are starting to fight with each other. It is usually the older one taking something from the younger one.
At MOPS yesterday, the speaker addressed the issue of sibling squabbles. She said that once they are verbal, you should be teaching them how to work out their problems. She gave the example of her own kids saying that she was not in a position to figure out who was right or wrong, they needed to figure it out between them, because if they didn't, they would both have consequences. She said that changed their attitudes fast, because if they were both to have consequences, no matter who was wronged, they worked things out quickly, or just forgot about it.
Preschool teachers in Japan rarely intervene in arguments between the children. They observe them to make sure violence doesn't erupt, but they let the children work out the situation between them. And the kids resolve the issues on their own. If one child hits another, the other children show empathy to the hurt one and once peer-pressure gets to the offender, that child will apologize.
I've decided to take a step back from my children's squabbles and see what happens. So far, they have worked out most of the problems on their own. Now, if I can just remember not to step in just because I'm annoyed, this might work!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Yelling

I have managed not to yell at my kids today.
I managed to stay calm when my son put a blanket over his sister, which he has been told repeatedly not to do. I managed to stay calm as both of them were crying, she because he had scared him, he because I was mad at him.
I managed not to yell when Eldest was fooling around (after being told to stop) and spilled a full cup of milk on the floor. I managed to stay calm as I cleaned it up and he wouldn't stop asking me questions about what I was doing, showing me what I had missed, asking why the milk spilled.
The only time I did yell today was when he almost shut a drawer on his sister's fingers, and it was a scared reaction, not really a frustrated yell.
As I write this, Eldest is in a time out for disobedience again. Still, I didn't yell. It seems my calm demeanor is a little confusing to him, he doesn't know what to make of me. It certainly gets his attention, though, and he knows I mean business.
Lord, help me stay calm and steady in the face of trying situations. Now I have to go get my son and talk to him about the mercy he is going to receive in place of discipline for his disobedience that caused spilt milk.

Frustration and Patience

Moved Here

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wow.

My 10 month old DD had her first down and dirty temper tantrum today. Talk about a stereotypical tantrum: threw herself face down on the floor (from sitting), kicked and pounded the floor while she screamed and turned beet red.
What am I in for???
Oh, and because I know you are curious, she handed a toy to her brother which he then took. She immediately threw herself on the floor. She went to a short time-out in her crib. My poor DS was not at fault for this in the least (though there are times when he is the reason for her screams).

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stuffed Acorn Squash

Egg free, dairy free (if vegan cheese used), gluten free, SCD

2 Acorn Squash
2 cups breakfast sausage, crumbled
2 cups shredded cheese – I use a combo of Parmesan and cheddar

Halve the acorn squash and seed (I like to save the seeds and roast them). Place cut side down in a large oven safe dish and add 1/2 inch water. Bake at 350 for 25-30 min, or until squash is easily poked with a fork.

Remove from oven, carefully take squash out and empty water. Place squash back in pan cut side up. Fill with layers of cheese and warmed sausage, and top with more cheese.Broil on low for about 5 minutes until cheese bubbles.
Serves 4

Another favorite is Savory Stuffed Acorn Squash - however, this recipe is not SCD, but it is Gluten Free.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Imposing our Norms on our Children

It is interesting to me how we impose our norms (things we consider normal) onto our children.
The other day, at my mom's group, we were discussing how to install infant car seats and how the bar and the shade should never be up while in the car (see the note below for further explanation). One of the moms wondered how her baby would play with the toys that she hangs from the bar. Another mom worried about the sun getting into her baby's eyes.
I realized that neither of these concerns was really something to worry about. Babies are not going to get mad because the don't have a toy dangling over them. For one thing, they are still fascinated with the world. For another, you can just give them the toy instead of hanging it over them. As for the sun shining in their eyes, babies just close their eyes. It doesn't bother them as much as it bothers us.
My 9 month old loves to watch the ceiling fan. My two year old likes to dip his peanut butter sandwich in ketchup. My friend's first grader loves to play in the rain and get soaking wet. None of these things are appealing to me as an adult, although they probably were when I was young.
I figure that if the kid isn't complaining, the situation isn't bothering him. We (I) need to stop and consider: is the situation really bothering my child, or is it just bothering me?
Note about car seats: The carry bar on an infant car seat should always be down when in the car. Infant car seats are designed to rock towards the seat in a car crash. If the bar is up, it can hit the seat, stopping the rocking motion of the car seat and causing whiplash on the baby. As for the sunshade, if it is forward during a crash, the plastic ribs can shatter when the sunshade hits the seat (this actually doesn't concern me too much, I would think the fabric would keep the shattered ribs from flying). But the most important thing is to strap your child in correctly (which means tight!). I strongly suggest you go to www.seatcheck.org to find a child seat inspector.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Blessings and Frustrations

Nine months and two days ago, my daughter was born two months premature. I didn't have time to get excited about anticipating her arrival, and when she did arrive, I was not at all excited about it . . . I was scared.

I felt a little cheated by her early arrival. I was excited to see how big my tummy would get. I was looking forward to getting all the baby stuff out of the closet. I was excited about setting up the kids' room and decorating for the two of them (still not decorated). I was looking forward to getting my hair done the day before my scheduled c-section (a little vain, I know, but I was still looking forward to it!). But, mostly, I was looking forward to that excited anticipation of going to the hospital. Of introducing her to her big brother at the hospital. All the new baby moments one looks forward to. But I didn't get any of them.

So, that is why I was so excited about my nephew's impending birth. I was almost as excited about his birth as I was about my son's birth three years ago. He is, so far, the only cousin my children have, and I would have loved to be there to greet him.

My sister-in-law was in labor for about 14 hours, and I went to bed hoping to have a text any minute that the baby was born. My kids needed me a few times during the night (both being very congested, they would wake up coughing), and so I was not getting very restful sleep. Add to that, every time I did wake up, I was praying for my SIL, so it would take me a while to get back to sleep.

At 3:51 a.m., I got a text. I was finally in a sound sleep, but when I heard my phone buzz, I smiled and dragged my eyes open so I could read that my nephew had arrived.  I was sorely disappointed to find a text that only told me she was still in labor.

At 5:30 I was awoken by another text. This was from my brother-in-law saying that his son had arrived at 3:57 a.m. I was overjoyed, until I looked at the time stamp on the previous text: SIX MINUTES BEFORE HE WAS BORN!! I was peeved. Why in the world would someone wake me up to tell me nothing was happening and then not bother to take two seconds to tell me that he was finally born immediately after the informationless text?

In retrospect, I realize why I was so upset. I felt cheated. I felt deprived. I felt left out.

I felt cheated because I never got to be excited about my daughter's birth. She was born so early I hadn't worked up that excited anticipation that moms get about their impending labor. I was so stressed when she was born, I never really got to enjoy her birth.

I felt deprived of the excitement over my nephew's birth because I was awakened only to be told that nothing had happened, and wasn't told that he had actually been born while I was reading the pointless text.

I felt left out because I had to find out with the rest of the world that my nephew was here via mass text.

The unfortunate thing of it all is, I can't tell my family how hurt I was by not being included on my nephew's birth. I can't share my feelings of deprivation at my daughter's birth with my family when they are welcoming a new life. I am thrilled at my nephew's birth. I just wish I hadn't received the thoughtless text without an immediate follow-up.

It ended up being a great day.  My nephew was born on my birthday - who could ask for a better birthday present?  Even better news?  One of my closest friends had her daughter on my birthday as well! I am doubly blessed on my birthday by having a nephew and a "niece" born today!!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Fennel Crusted Pork

Gluten free, egg free, dairy free, SCD legal
I buy a large pork roast and have the butcher cut it into 1/2 lb sections. Often they will wrap them individually for you so you can freeze them. Pull the roast out of the freezer and refrigerate two days before you need it.
Use in season veggies for a less expensive dinner. Choose enough for about two handfuls of veggies per person. I usually cook carrots, onion, and then two or three other options:
Veggies I've used:
(lighter veggies)
1 zucchini, cut in 3" strips
1 bunch asparagus, snapped
bunch of mushrooms
(hearty veggies)
1 medium sweet onion
3 carrots, cut in 3" strips (or a bunch of baby carrots)
1 sweet potato, cut in 1/2" chunks
1 med russet potato, cut in 1/2" chunks
(I can't eat potatoes, but my husband and son love them, so I just make sure they are not touching the other veggies I can eat)
about 1/2 pound pork tenderloin
2 Tbsp fennel seeds, crushed (if you don't have a mortar & pestle, use a heavy pan. They only need to be crushed enough to be fragrant)
3/4 cup apple juice or cider
2 tsp honey
Heat oven to 400*. In a large bowl, toss the hearty veggies (carrots, potatoes, onion) in oil with salt and pepper to taste. Roast on a rimmed baking sheet for 10 min.
While the veggies are roasting, using medium heat, heat a skillet with about a tsp of olive oil. Cut the pork in half (if over 2" thick) and season with salt & pepper, and then coat with the fennel seeds. Cook the pork in the skillet on all sides, until browned.
Put the lighter veggies into the large bowl and toss with oil, salt and pepper. After the hearty veggies have been roasted for 10 minutes, put them back in the bowl with the other veggies until the roast is almost done.
Place the roast on the baking sheet and bake for approx. 20 min, or until inner temperature reads 165*. (I had to experiment with the times here. My roasts always took longer to cook than I thought, but then, my oven is a little screwy) Once temp reads 165*, put all of the veggies on the baking sheet and cook for 10 min or until they are browned and the roast's internal temperature reads 170*.
While the rest of the veggies and roast are cooking, wipe out the skillet and put in the honey and apple juice/cider. Over medium heat, bring to a boil and whisk until reduced by half, about 4 to 6 minutes. Serve with the pork and veggies.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Breakfast Sausage

Gluten free, dairy free, no eggs, SCD legal
Sausage in the stores often has nitrites and MSG. Here is an easy recipe for your own breakfast sausage. Hands on time is about 45 minutes, if you cook the entire batch at once.
3 lbs ground turkey
1/4 c warm water
3 tsp rubbed (powdered) sage
2 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp freshly ground black or green pepper
1 3/4 tsp marjoram
1/2 tsp savory
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp ginger
Put turkey in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients to the turkey. Knead the mixture (hands work best, but you can use a spoon) just long enough to mix spices evenly.
There are different ways you can cook the sausage:
Patties: Put a small amount of oil in a pan and fry until brown on both sides
Patties: Place patties on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350* for 10 min. Flip patties and bake for additional 10 min
Pieces: Cook in a skillet until browned, stirring and separating frequently
Uncooked sausage will keep in the fridge only for a day. You can freeze small raw packets for future use, but I recommend cooking the entire batch and then freezing it. I thaw cooked patties or ground sausage in the microwave for 30 sec and then put them in the skillet to finish cooking.

Cheese Crackers

Gluten free, egg free, SCD
One of the hard things for me about going grain free, was giving up crackers or chips. Then, someone introduced me to cheese crackers. And, they are MUCH easier than I thought they would be!
Spray a glass baking dish with olive oil, then put layer thin slices of cheese, or grated cheese, in the dish. Microwave until cheese is very bubbly. Remove dish with a oven mitt (dish will be hot), and tip the dish up so the oil drains to one corner, then mop up the oil with a paper towel. Let the dish cool for a minute or two and lift the cheese with a spatula. You can break it up into cracker size pieces.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Commiseration, Not Condescension

For me, Facebook is a great tool. It is how I keep in touch with my family and friends who are spread across the country and the world. I am not very good at phoning people, but I am good at emailing, blogging, and keeping my profile up to date on Facebook.
There is a catch, however. You cannot read tone of voice. So, when I post a status update like, "My daughter slept through the night, but my son woke up three times," people may not understand that I'm not complaining, I'm just stating a fact.
Regardless of whether or not I'm complaining via my status (which I try not to do), I do not want condescending or veiled passive-aggressive comments left by my well meaning friends.
To the status update above, my currently childless friend commented, "It may not seem like it now, but they will eventually sleep through the night." Yes, I know that. Barring sickness, I do not anticipate waking up at all hours of the night when my kids are in grade school. For some reason, her remark really irked me, but then, I should know better than to take it personally, because that is just who she is: well meaning, but often times comes off as condescending.
By posting my status, I was not asking for trite reassurances that my kids will eventually sleep through the night (especially from people who don't have kids). I was just looking for commiseration from people who are or have been there. And I did get the commiseration I was looking for. I also deleted my friend's comment.
Now who is passive aggressive?