Monday, July 29, 2013

Pinterest Recipe Review

I have a love hate relationship with Pinterest.  I love to find new recipes to try, but when they don't work out I find myself irritated and frustrated that my creation doesn't taste or look like the gorgeous pictures represented.  This week I have tried several new healthy recipes.  They have been a hit!  The week prior we were on vacation and I tried lemon muddy buddies that was a terrible soggy flop.  Here are the healthy hits.  As a bonus they are all dairy, gluten and refined-sugar free!

Black Bean Hummus
We made this for lunch today and my children asked if we could have it again tomorrow.  Three out of the four loved it and it's super good for them.  That makes me happy.  We spread the hummus on Food Should Taste Good Brown Rice crackers and topped them with avocado and tomato.  On the side there were cut up vegetables that tasted equally as good in the hummus. 

Quinoa and Kale Winter Salad
This was what we ate for lunch this week-end.  I didn't have cranberries so we just used raisins and I did not use orange oil in the dressing.  The kids didn't like this as well, but my husband and I liked it.

Chocolate Banana Breakfast Quinoa
Again 3 of the 4 children loved this recipe.  I can't help but wonder if they have a conspiracy against me to never all like the same thing?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

This morning has not turned out to be what I envisioned.  Instead of a beautiful summer day spent playing outside and laughing it is 10:15 and we are still working on getting chores done!  We started 3 hours ago!  Inevitably every time we sway from our structured school routine we run into this issue.  Everyone including mom quickly slips into vacation mode and forgets how to be disciplined and get the work done.  My children forget how to do their chores with diligence and start doing everything half-way.  I start to nag, yell and fuss instead of discipline.  This is not how I want to spend these precious few days of summer!
So to the word I go seeking encouragement and a little kick in my pants.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." 
 Proverbs 22:6
This verse escapes me when I most need it.  Somehow I fall into the habit of thinking that if I teach the children once they'll know what they are taught and practice it well.  This is folly on my part.  Clearly Proverbs 22:6 is telling me that I do the training now and the pay off isn't all at once, but rather progressive through their lives.  If this is the case I need to adjust my expectations as a parent and make sure to repeat, repeat, repeat until they are trained so that they can be blessed by their training not just for the moment but for life.

The other half of the folly I face is the lack of discipline.  Words do not equal the rod.  
"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent."  Proverbs 10:19
When I preach to the children and go on and on about how to do this job and what was wrong it never has the desired result.  I am reminded that:
"Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but whoever loves him is diligent to discipline him." 
Proverbs 13:24
 Ahhh....I am starting to feel a little better about our lack of diligence situation.  I have been lacking in a couple of key areas: discipline and encouragement.  All the children have been hearing is mom yammer on with complaint and accusation of jobs not well done.  My children need a consistent training, which involves the rod and much praise and encouragement.    

As families we rely on each other and need one another to each pull his own load.  Those who don't work don't eat, meaning it shouldn't just be daddy working everyday and mommy keeping the home while the children play and are run from one entertainment to another.  It means we are training up our young ones to be diligent men and women someday.  Who know how to keep a home and how to work hard.

The work of training is much harder than just doing the jobs myself.  It takes so much more to teach someone how to do something than to just do it for them, but even more work is requiring the same standard day after day.  That is where we prove our mettle.  When we discipline for the 20th time over the same offense or where we train that job one more time because they still haven't mastered the details.  I haven't gotten to the place yet where we are seeing consistent fruit, but I have seen glimmers of it in the past.  That is motivates me to get back on course, well that and the promise that God gives of having children who will not stray from their training!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Summer Menu Ideas

With each season our menu changes.  My goal remains the same through the seasons, provide the most nutrient dense food for what our budges allows that tastes great and can be made while managing a large family.  Here are the items on our menu this week and the recipe for the delicious kabobs we had for dinner today.

Breakfast-Smoothies, eggs and toast, pancakes, cereal, oatmeal, granola, french toast

Lunch-peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, tuna salad, hot dogs, garlic pasta, chicken and salad, paninis

Dinner-Fajitas, thai noodles, kabobs, chinese burritos, fish, sausage grill packs and grilled chicken thighs

Beef Kabobs

1.5-2 lbs Top Sirloin, cut in cubes
1/4c teriyaki sauce
1/4c soy sauce
1/4c honey
3/4 olive oil
2T lemon juice
2T sherry (I use red wine)
1.5 tsp. grated ginger root (I use powdered ginger)
bamboo skewers
assorted grilling vegetables (mushrooms, par-boiled red potatoes, onions, peppers, zucchini, yellow summer squash etc.)
olive oil
salt & pepper

Place cubed beef in gallon size bag.  Mix remaining ingredients up to the skewers and pour over meat.  Marinate over night.  Soak bamboo skewers for several hours before you are ready to assemble the kabobs.  Wash and cut up vegetables, toss with oil and seasonings.  Assemble kabobs.  Cook on grill approx. 5 min per side.  These are great served with rice in place of potatoes and fresh melon.

Chore Cards

One part of my goal every summer break is to get our chores ordered for the year.  I teach the children their new chores and then help to implement a new schedule while we have a break from school.  Every year I try something a little different one year it was a chore chart they could  mark on.  Another it was a door hanger they could use for reference.  This year I created a card system.  This is my favorite one yet.  It has a detailed description of each chore, is reinforced for much use, and pretty!

The first step I took was to write down and establish what chores I wanted done on a daily and weekly basis and at each meal.  Then I typed a detailed description of each chore.  In an effort to make these strong, cute and interchangeable I glued the description to two sided thick paper and covered them with packing tape.  I really wanted to run out to the office store and laminate them, but remembered we still have an excess of packing tape and used that instead.  I punched holes in the corners and made name tags to go with each stack of chores.  My handy husband had several different clips to keep them together.  Now I just need some hooks for them and we are set.
I know my day and home run much better with order.  My hope and expectation is that these will help us to stay on track and running smoothly.  When our home is in order I find our family is more prepared for spur of the moment company and there is a sense of peace and order.  The work of training and maintaining chores is worth the effort!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Getting to Know God's Character

I've started a new focus on reading through the Bible with the purpose of slowing down to meditate on the details.  I have been astounded by how the Lord has opened my eyes to new revelations of who he is.  As I read through Ephesians chapter 5 this morning the descriptive words jumped out at me.  As I listed them in my journal I was tempted to view them as a list of words I need to apply and grow in.  But, then I was overcome with a thought that was so superior to self-improvement, the idea that these are words that describe God's character first.  As I marveled at how God is perfectly worthy, humble, gentle, patient, righteous, tender-hearted and forgiving my focus changed.  I don't want to improve I want to be renewed!  If I change my gaze from the improvement of self to looking at the greatness of my Lord and his character will there be room for self-improvement?
I grieve for the lost time I've spent trying to change what the Lord created, trying to conform to a standard that was not His.  How often I have exchanged the freedom of my God and King that was bought for me with the blood of Jesus for rules, self-improvement, earthly standards.  I pray that no longer would this pharisee like bond hold me.  It is true just as cynicism is easier than hope, rules are easier to follow than to search and seek truth in all it's tremendous greatness.  At some point my mind became dull to the hunt for truth's treasure and wanted to settle for a to do list.
If my gaze is to change I am certain all the details of servant-hood will fall into place.  I won't need to fret about each rule being followed.  They will work themselves out when the focus is on the right prize.  I can be certain that this is the uncomfortable walk, that the boundaries are outside of my comfort zone and the truth and beauty are stretching and overwhelming.  Yet what excitement and joy lie in the challenge of seeing my God in increasing wonder and awe.