Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday's Meal: Split Pea Soup

I am all for easy recipes, and I often look for shortcuts.  I've been making split pea soup for a few years now and have modified the original recipe to the quick and easy one I usually make.  But for those who like and have time for all the chopping, I've kept the original and in parentheses is the way I actually make this recipe.
2 1/2 cups split peas
2 quarts water
1 onion, finely chopped (1 large handful of dehydrated onion)
2 carrots, chopped (1 large carrot, grated)
1 stalk celery, chopped (if I have celery I use it, I often don't have celery)
2 tsp salt (I use 2 tsp garlic salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp of one of these herbs: oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, sage.  It depends on my mood which one I pick.
Soak the peas in enough water to cover the peas at least 2" for 8-10 hours (I soak overnight).  Drain, rinse and add 2 quarts of fresh water and all the other ingredients (I keep the salt out and add it in when the peas are done).  Bring to a boil (I like to skim off all the starchy foam), reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until the peas dissolve.
I then take a stick blender and blend the peas so they are slightly chunky, but mostly smooth.  At this point I add the garlic salt.
I cool the soup and then freeze it into ice cube trays, that way I can have soup at a moments notice.  If you freeze it, you will need to add water to the soup when you warm it up.
Here are some topping suggestions:
fresh ground pepper
Grated cheese: Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, pepper jack
Goldfish crackers
Cooked ham pieces
Bacon bits
Chopped chives
Sliced olives
French fried onions

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fearful Mom

I am a fearful mom, I admit it.  I am constantly visualizing horrible things happening to my kids.  It's awful, but I don't know how to stop.

At age two, my son had stitches above his eye when he fell onto a bench.  At age three he tumbled down the stairs.  That same year he tumbled out of bed and knocked two teeth loose.  At age four he tripped and his now no-longer-loose teeth went through his bottom lip and he has a nice scar.  These scenes (or imaginary scenarios) run through my head almost every day.  Whenever my kids aren't within view, my ears are on hyper alert to listen for anything happening to them.  Every little squeak or squawk makes me pay attention to see if it will turn into a cry.  This is a very wearying way to live, and I need to find a way past it.

A few years ago my friend wrote a post Parenting Based in Fear, and this has been a huge help to me.  I really try to not think about what might possibly happen, but what will probably happen; to parent by the probable and not by the possible.  I really try not to hover around my kids and let them explore.  After re-reading her post, I have stopped myself from warning my kids to be careful or not to do something that might hurt them, but probably won't.  Instead, I've let them go ahead, and you know what?  They didn't get hurt.  In fact, they enjoyed doing whatever it was I could have stopped them from doing.  Of course, I was watching carefully, but really trying not to hover.

My 2 year old just transferred to a big-girl bed.  She likes to be independent and wants to put her pacifiers away when she wakes up (yes, we need to work on getting rid of the paci).  So she walks to the end of the bed and puts her paci in the box on top of the dresser.  Now, she is still not always very steady on her feet and so she holds onto the wall.  There is also a five inch gap between her bed and the dresser.  The first time she did this, I was scared she would fall and hurt herself.  Then I realized, 1) she's being very careful and 2) even if she does fall, I doubt she would get seriously hurt, i.e. broken bones.  I just need to swallow my fear and let her explore.

I don't know how to stop thinking about the bad things that could happen.  The images pop into my mind and I can't seem to get rid of them.  But I am learning to let my kids do things that I'd really like to not let them do, but there is no real reason for me to stop them (like letting my almost five-year-old plug in an appliance).  It is difficult to let go and parent on the probable and not on the possible.  But I think with God's help I will get there.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Moved Here

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It Would Be Easier To Quit

When you are training a dog, one of the first things you learn is that you need to be consistent.  You have to give the same command over and over again and see that the command is obeyed.  When you tell the dog to sit, you make sure the dog sits, even if you have to physically sit the dog down.
It is no different with our children.  If you tell your child to sit down, make sure she obeys, even if you have to physically make her obey.  But, if you tell her to sit, and she doesn't, and you just ignore the disobedience, you are telling your child that you don't expect obedience out of her.
This can be very wearying.  Consistency is not always easy, and sometimes it is one of the more difficult concepts to get through my parent brain.  It would be so much easier for me to just ignore the slight disobedience and move on with what I am doing.  But that is doing a HUGE disservice to my child, and to me.  Children thrive in an environment where they know the rules, and when the rules are enforced with consistency.
Another thing I have noticed: when I am not consistent, the bad behavior escalates to a point of extreme frustration; both on my part and on that of my child.  If I do not address a bad behavior when it occurs, the next action is a little more blatant, and the next, until the child is out of control.  Children do not always have the ability to stop themselves, they lack self-control, which is why God gives them parents who do have self-control.
I encourage you (and myself) to do yourself and your children a favor by always being consistent in your 1) expectations of them and 2) discipline of them.  It will go a long way in helping your (my) kids become responsible adults one day.
On the window sill above my sink is my little piece of happiness and a reminder to be patient and consistent.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Lactose-Free Yogurt

When yogurt is made this way, it will have no lactose.  I choose to use whole milk because it is not as tart as a lesser fat milk, but you can use anything from skim to whole milk to make the yogurt.  Do not use a lactose free milk.  The yogurt will "eat" all of the lactose during the fermentation process.
I've adapted this from Breaking the Vicious Cycle by Elaine Gottschall (Elaine was a biochemist who specialized in researching how sugar is digested at the cellular level and how food affects the functioning of the digestive tract).  The directions are for use in a yogurt maker.  I use a Yo'Gourmet brand yogurt maker.  Any yogurt maker that will keep the yogurt at a steady 100 - 110 degrees F will work.
Directions for lactose-free yogurt:
1.  Bring 4 cups of milk to the simmer stage and remove it from heat.  Stir often to prevent burning.
2.  Cover and cool until it has reached room temperature (may be placed in refrigerator or another pot of cold water to hasten cooling).  It is important you allow the temperature to drop or you will kill the bacterial culture you are about to introduce.
3.  Remove about 1/2 cup of cooled milk and make a paste with 1/4 cup good quality commercial yogurt.  Buy yogurt that contains only milk, milk solids, and bacterial culture.
4.  Mix the paste with the remainder of the cooled milk and stir thoroughly.
5.  Pour milk into yogurt maker and let ferment at 100 - 110 degrees F for at least 24 hours.  If you forget to remove it after 24 hours, the fermentation will just continue making it even better.  Do not let the fermentation time be less than 24 hours; this should supersede any instructions that come with the yogurt maker.  This will insure that all of the lactose is completely digested by the bacterial culture.
6.  Remove from heat and refrigerate.
"While this yogurt may not be as thick as commercial yogurt, it will be true yogurt since virtually all of the lactose has been digested by the bacterial culture and further lactose digestion will not be required by intestinal cells."  From the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle.
If it is not as thick as you desire, you can drip the yogurt.  I put a paper towel in a sieve and place it on a large bowl.  I then pour the yogurt into the paper towel and let it drip until it is the desired consistency.
You should use commercially made yogurt as a starter every time.  Saving yogurt from a previous batch you have made will not have the same high levels of live bacteria that the manufacturer uses.  You can also buy starter bacteria, but commercial yogurt is just as beneficial (and may be cheaper).
If you want more information on how the yogurt is made, alternatives to a yogurt maker, or the science behind making yogurt, please pick up the book, Breaking the Vicious Cycle.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Monday's Meal: Grilled Cheese

Yeah, yeah, everyone knows how to make a grilled cheese sandwich, right?  Here's just another way to make one that my kids love.
I usually use shredded cheddar cheese, frozen spinach, thyme or basil, garlic salt and olive oil on two slices of whole wheat bread.
I start by crumbling an herb on the bread and sprinkling a little bit of garlic salt.  Then I chop the frozen spinach up in a hand chopper and spread it.  Next comes the cheese and then the other slice of bread.
I use a George Foreman Grill to make the sandwiches and spray the grill with the olive oil.  Flip the sandwich once and it is done.  If I have a flavored oil, I will use that instead of the plain olive oil.
My kids love this so much that my son refuses to eat restaurant grilled cheese because 1) it's on white bread and 2) it doesn't have the green stuff.
These are so gourmet, in fact, that my husband thinks they make a great meal with a bowl of soup. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Mother's Heart

Why is being a mom sometimes so hard?  There are many reasons that parenting is a difficult job, but I think the hardest part for a mom is that so much of parenting requires us to go against our mother's heart.  What is that, you ask?  My mother's heart wants to protect my children from all harm, from evil, from hurt, from emotional and physical pain, from any sort of hardship.  My mother's heart wants to give my children love and comfort all day long.
Unfortunately, I often have to go against my mother's heart and give my children what they need instead of what they want.  A simple example is the stove.  My daughter wants to touch the hot pan on the stove, but no mother is going to let her do what she wants at that moment; instead, we tell her "HOT!  No touching!"  Maybe she cries because she doesn't get to touch, but we know that is best for her, even though she doesn't realize it.
My two year old daughter has a bad habit of slamming doors shut.  She has hurt every single person in this family by doing so.  Every time she slams a door shut, she has a consequence, and she knows this very well, yet, she continues to disobey and slam doors on people.  My mother's heart would rather just reason with her.  My mother's heart tells me that she just needs more love and gentle guidance to understand that she is hurting other people by slamming doors on them.  However, my mother's heart is wrong, and as much as I hate going against it, I have to in order to teach my daughter that her "fun" is causing other people pain, and that is not acceptable.  Sometimes that lesson is painful for both of us, but it is necessary in order to train her to be a responsible adult.
If my husband is home, I ask him what I should do if I am doubting.  If he isn't home, I pray.  And I always get an answer (though not necessarily the answer I want!).  Because, even though my mother's heart wants to just ignore a behavior or give a mild consequence, my mother's head knows that I need to do what is best for my children in the long run.  I have to remember, I am raising my children to be responsible adults, not irresponsible children.
Don't be afraid to go against your mother's heart when it is necessary.
Post Script a year later: My now 3-year-old daughter is very good about not slamming doors (she often apologizes if she does slam a door on accident).  I love it, and it makes my mother's heart proud that she's taken the lessons to heart.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Embarrassingly Consistent

The other day I'm shopping in Target and my kids are having real attitude problems, they are both being defiant and rude and disrespectful to me.  Finally, in the cleaning aisle, I stop the cart and lean forward and in a quiet and controlled voice tell them both, "This is going to stop, NOW.  You both are being disrespectful and it is not going to continue any more."  At this point in my lecture, an older lady is walking down the aisle looking for some Lysol.  I ignore the embarrassment creeping into my cheeks and continue saying, "You two need to straighten up your attitudes right now or there will be consequences."  I finish my speech with two humbled children and make eye contact with the lady as we walk by.  She smiles and mouths to me, "You are a good mom!"  I laugh uncomfortably and say thanks.  Her encouragement gave me the confidence to continue to keep my kids in line, when I felt like giving up.
I'm so glad she didn't say something trite like, "Oh, some day you're going to look back on this moment and enjoy it."  Because, you know, at that moment, I don't really care about how I'm going to reflect on this moment.  All I care about is being consistent with my kids and getting through the day without losing it.
Parenting is hard, there is no doubt about it.  And sometimes it is embarrassing to be the consistent parent I know I need to be.  But I wouldn't give it up for anything.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Ministering to Women

I have always had a heart for ministering to women. As I have grown up, the women I want to work with have also matured, from at first pre-teens, then high school, then college students. Now, I would really like to help women who have a baby at home. I can empathize with them and offer support, even if just by giving them a meal.
A friend of mine was having a hard day with her newborn and 18 month old. I wished I could go over and help her out for an hour or so, but I didn't feel like I could add two little kids to the mix. My youngest was napping at the time as well. I wondered how I could be of help to other women in my same stage of life, if I was stuck at home?
While I was thinking about how I could help my friends more, I had an epiphany about my kids schooling. Weird, right? How does my kids' schooling (which is at least a year away) relate to my helping moms? I have been thinking and praying about whether to home school or not. It has not been foremost on my mind, but all of a sudden, I thought, if my children are in public school, I will have more time to minister to women.
I'm still not sure how my kids will be schooled. I am sure of this, though: I can minister to women in many ways. I don't have to be stuck at home with my children, I can involve them as well. I am still praying about ways I can help the women around me. Suggestions are always welcome.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Rainbow Food

Sometimes I have trouble getting Eldest to actually want to come to the table to eat his food, especially if he is outside playing in the sand. I made him a rainbow the other day and he loved it. 

He looked at it and said, "You made me a rainbow house, Mommy!" I guess the olives looked more like a door than the purple part of the rainbow. Well, I ran out of blueberries, so I needed something dark.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Out Of Control

I feel like everything is out of control right now. 
The kids attitudes seem to be out of control; from being extremely whiny to having full on temper tantrums, to talking back and making rude comments.  Not to mention any outright disobedience that is taking place.
I feel like I can't keep my temper under control and my patience was lost a few miles back. 
My house is a total disaster.  I can't seem to keep up with the laundry or the dishes.
And those are just the thing I should be able to have control over.  Then there are the extenuating circumstances that are in limbo.  The not-knowing makes me jittery.
At the moment, the kids are playing very nicely together with cars and everything is peaceful, therefore, giving me a moment to write my thoughts.
I realize I can solve some of my out-of-control-ness by 1) paying attention to the kids needs: hunger, sleep, etc and more importantly, 2) paying attention to my needs: Bible devotions, prayer, food.
Isaiah 26:3 (ISV)  You will keep perfectly peaceful the one whose mind remains focused on you, because he remains in you.
When I am willing to keep my mind focused on God, and abide in Him, I will have peace.  I need some peace right now.  Which means, for me, I need to do my devotions and just spend some time focusing on God, instead of focusing on everything that is out of control.  Then, maybe I can get a few loads of laundry done.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Praying for my Children

I believe that prayer is very important. I try to start off every day reading Scripture and praying. Here are 31 ways to pray for your kids - one for each day of the month. Insert your children's names where it says children.
1 - Salvation: "Lord, let salvation spring up within (my children), that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory." (Isaiah 45:8, 2 Timothy 2:10)
2 - Growth in grace: "I pray that (my children) may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 3:18)
3 - Love: "Grant, Lord, that (my children) may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them." (Ephesians 5:2, Galatians 5:22)
4 - Honesty and integrity: "May integrity and honesty be (my children's) virtue and their protection." (Psalm 25:21)
5 - Self-control: "Father, help (my children) not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do." (1 Thessalonians 5:6)
6 - A love for God's Word: "May (my children) grow to find your Word more precious than gold, than much pure gold; and sweeter than honey, than honey from the comb." (Psalm 19:10)
7 - Justice: "God, help (my children) to love justice as you do and to act justly in all they do." (Psalm 11:7, Micah 6:8)
8 - Mercy: "May (my children) always be merciful, as their Father is merciful." (Luke 6:36)
9 - Respect (for self, others, authority): "Father, grant that (my children) may show proper respect to everyone, as your Word commands." (1 Peter 2:17a)
10 - Strong, Biblical self-esteem: "Help (my children) develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus." (Ephesians 2:10)
11 - Faithfulness: "Let love and faithfulness never leave (my children), but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts." (Proverbs 3:3)
12 - Courage: "May (my children) always be strong and courageous in their character and in their actions." (Deuteronomy 31:6)
13 - Purity: "Create in (my children) a pure heart, O God, and let their purity of heart be shown in their actions." (Psalm 51:10)
14 - Kindness: "Lord, may (my children) always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else." (1 Thessalonians 5:15)
15 - Generosity: "Grant that (my children) may be generous and willing to share and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age." (1 Timothy 6:18-19)
16 - Peace, peaceability: "Father, let (my children) make every effort to do what leads to peace." (Romans 14:19)
17 - Joy: "May (my children) be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit." (1 Thessalonians 1:6)
18 - Perseverance: "Lord, teach (my children) perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them." (Hebrews 12:1)
19 - Humility: "God, please cultivate in (my children) the ability to show true humility toward all." (Titus 3:2)
20 - Compassion: "Lord, please clothe (my children) with the virtue of compassion." (Colossians 3:12)
21 - Responsibility: "Grant that (my children) may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load." (Galatians 6:5)
22 - Contentment: "Father, teach (my children) the secret of being content in any and every situation through Him who gives them strength." (Philippians 4:12-13)
23 - Faith: "I pray that faith will find root and grow in (my children's) hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them." (Luke 17:5-6, Hebrews 11:1-40)
24 - A servant heart: "God, please help (my children) develop servant hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as to the Lord, and not to men." (Ephesians 6:7)
25 - Hope: "May the God of hope grant that (my children) may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)
26 - The willingness and ability to work hard: "Teach (my children), Lord, to value work and to work hard at everything they do, as working for the Lord, not for men." (Colossians 3:23)
27 - A passion for God: "Lord, please instill in (my children) a soul that follows hard after You, a heart that clings passionately to you." (Psalm 63:8)
28 - Self-discipline: "Father, I pray that (my children) may develop self-discipline, that they may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair." (Proverbs 1:3)
29 - Prayerfulness: "Grant, Lord, that (my children's) lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests." (Ephesians 6:18)
30 - Gratitude: "Help (my children) to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Colossians 2:7, Ephesians 5:20)
31 - A heart for missions: "Lord, please help (my children) to develop a heart for missions, a desire to see your glory declared among the nations, your marvelous deeds among all peoples." (Psalm 96:3)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Last of the Tube

I saw a tip recently on how to get the most for your money out of tubes - like of toothpaste.
I use a special topical ointment that is expensive, and hate throwing away the tube if I haven't gotten everything out of it. So I've always used a "toothpaste flattener" to squeeze the last of the ointment out of the tube. Well, yesterday I saw another tip: cut the bottom of the tube off.  I wonder why I never thought of that before!
I had six tubes of the ointment that needed to be squeezed out. After I flattened them and squeezed them, I cut the tube about an inch from the lid. I was amazed to see how much I could still scoop out! After scooping the remaining ointment out of the six tubes, I had almost as much as a whole new tube! That saved me almost $15.00 (I said the ointment is expensive)!
Again, I don't know why I never thought of cutting the tube before. This will work for anything that has a squeezable tube.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who's Character am I Working On?

Do you ever feel as if you are failing as a mom? I do. I try to teach my kids character, but the message doesn't seem to get across to them. I try to get them to obey the rules, to listen the first time I tell them something, to be gentle and considerate of others. I feel like I'm not making much process in that endeavor. Of course, my kids are still very young.
My cousin set me on this article, Parenting 001, by Kevin DeYoung. One key sentence stood out to me: "They will see our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and Twinkies."
Am I working on my character as much as I am working on the character of my children? Lately, God has been really showing me that if I want my children to be compassionate, I need to be compassionate. If I want my children to love others, I need to love others.
Children learn by example, not by my telling them what to do. Lord, help me be the person I want my children to be.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Don't Grow Weary

Galatians 6:9-10 says, And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.
This spoke to my mommy heart. I often grow weary of doing the same thing day in and day out. Telling my children over and over how to obey and do good. Cleaning the same dishes, the same dirty clothes, sweeping the same dirt every day.
As a mom, I can easily weary of blessing my household of faith with good things. But this verse promises that in due time, I will see the fruits of my labors, as long as I don't give up. What a blessing it will be in the future to see that my children walk in truth (3 John 4).
I hope this encourages you to keep on doing good in your home. To not weary of the dailies. To be consistent in your discipline (both yours and your children's). To remember that the blessing we will reap in the future need to be planted today.