The Beauty of Motherhood

The beauty of motherhood
Pure joy of make believe.
Adventures through imagination.
Dreams taking flight.
These children search for the beauty in small ordinary things.
They find laughter and joy.
I find I believe.

Make believe.

DressUp
Dress up time as a princess and a fairy.

Imagination.

Imagination

Dream.

DareToDream

Balancing is an Art

Balancing is an art.
Life is uncertain.
Moments so unstable.

We stand, sure-footed
And a wind, an unforeseen circumstance
destabilizes the most confident.

Falling is not failing.
It’s a lesson to persevere
Don’t ever give up.

We grow stronger
more confident
more flexible

Balancing is an Art
Not learned in a day
A lifetime of commitment.

My daughters learning to balance.

My daughters learning to balance.

Power Lunch for a Dollar

Short on time, money, and energy? Here’s a lunch with a punch of nutritious flavor that is quicker than fast food, won’t break the bank, and give you a mid day boost that you desperately need.

Power Lunch for a Dollar

1 can (5 oz) Tuna in water (not oil, ick!)
1/2 super ripe Avocado
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
dash pepper

Mix together in a bowl with a fork and then enjoy!

To be honest I didn’t actual measure the ingredients, but I’m guessing this is a very close estimate. I just sorta pour and mix and see how it looks and tastes to me, and wow was this tasty! I originally was going to put this wonderful tuna mixture in a whole grain wrap, but I was so hungry I just devoured it as soon as it was all a nice moist combination.

It literally took me five minutes to prepare AND eat.

By using avocado, I think this is a great alternative to what I used to do to make tuna by using a TON of mayo. Yes, the avocado still has a lot of fat, but it is healthy fat and contains MANY other great benefits.

Also, this little meal really does cost only a dollar to make (maybe a little more if the tuna and/or avocado aren’t on sale). Regardless, it is still a great deal and full of nutritious energy!

Silent Night

Everyone knows the first verse from “Silent Night” which is  lovely, but have you stopped to listen and ponder the second and third verses?

Silent night, holy night!
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ, the Savior is born
Christ, the Savior is born

Silent night, holy night
Son of God, love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth

The idea of this reverent silence reminds me of a quote from my all time favorite author, C.S. Lewis. This is from a passage in his book The Screwtape Letters:

“[The demon Screwtape writes:] Music and silence–how I detest both! How thankful we should be that ever since our Father entered Hell–though Cover of "The Screwtape Letters"longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express–no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples, and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end. We have already made great strides in this direction as regards the Earth. The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it.”

In this past year our house has been anything but quiet. We now have a 21 month old and a 6 month old. Our daughters love each other tremendously and although they are young, I know they will be great friends…and our house will only get louder with the squeals of playful sisters. Life is full and life is good. We have been so blessed, but I need to remember the importance of silence. God speaks to us in the still, quiet moments, and he restores our soul in the absence of Noise.

So, for this Christmas Season (and into the next year and beyond) I encourage all of you to discover what is making the most Noise in your life (electronics, activities, work, everyday distractions?) and mindfully make a little more quiet time. Take a break from some of the holiday busyness a let Jesus’ light and love fill in the silence.

Grace and Forgiveness

Today I read this devotional from A.W. Tozer Grace and Forgiveness – Bible Gateway Devotionals.

It really struck a chord with me, especially this part:

What a gracious thing for us that Jesus Christ never thinks about what we have been. He always thinks about what we are going to be. You and I are slaves to time and space and records and reputations and publicity and the past-all that we call the case history. Jesus Christ cares absolutely nothing about anyone’s moral case history. He forgives it and starts from there as though the person had been born one minute before.

I find myself consistently dwelling on the past. Praise God that Jesus “never thinks about what we have been.” If He forgives me and sees all the wonderful potential in my life, then certainly I need to forgive myself (more), move on (why is this such a process!?) and focus on becoming who I am meant to be.

Just because I am forgiven doesn’t mean that I won’t still make mistakes. I am not perfect 🙂 There is a fine line, I think, in becoming complacent and having the attitude of “Well, if I mess up, I’m forgiven! No biggie!” and not giving yourself grace for the inevitable slip-ups we have from simply being non-perfect and, you know, human!

I could write a lot more, but I think I would find myself rambling just a little too much. And, as good as it is to write out these few simple thoughts I need to pry myself from the computer and get back to some mommyhood duties. Fortunately, since it is nap time for the kiddies that means a short nap for me and trying to clean the crayon off my table… 🙂

I Don’t Believe in Santa Claus, So Shoot Me.

Prompted from a friend’s post, I am also blogging about the ever approach Christmas holiday and the big, jolly fat man: Santa.

I don’t believe in Santa, so shoot me. Obviously, since I am an adult, I know I am not expected to believe in Santa, but I feel the weight of society hanging around my neck expecting me to perpetuate the myth of Old Saint Nick. Guess what? I’m not going to do it.

As a child I knew who Santa was, but I didn’t believe he was some magical man who came down our non-existent chimney loaded with “toys and goodies”. I never felt deprived in any way. All of my presents had a name associated with them. This one was from Aunt so-and-so, here’s one from Uncle Billy bob, these are from mommy and daddy. And I received them with joy and gratitude. I said “thank you” to the gift giver and even wrote out thank you notes.  (or drew pictures when I was younger). I still watched all the favorite holiday cartoons. My favorite was “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer”. But, it was just a nice story. I didn’t need it to be true.

So, why am I writing out this long vent about not “believing”. I am just getting DARN tired of always having to explain and justify myself. I am tired of being frowned upon for my kids not growing up in a “santa” home. Why is it such a big deal?

If you want to believe or have your kids believe, go ahead. I don’t care. Celebrate Santa all you want, but don’t try to guilt me into following your commercialized tradition. It’s not like I am all “anti-santa” and I am not going to go up to your kid and say, “Guess what? Santa isn’t REAL!” I don’t care if I use a santa napkin at Christmas dinner, or if I get pictures of santa on my Christmas cards.

But for our house, we will not be writing letters to the North Pole, and we will not pose for pictures with a guy dressed up in a red suit at the mall. I’m sure we will still sing all the favorite Christmas carols, and we’ll probably decorate reindeer shaped christmas cookies. But please, do me a favor, and stop trying to make my kid believe Santa Claus is really watching whether they’ve “been naughty or nice”.

I love Christmas. It is my favorite holiday by far. And my kids will know Saint Nick, you know the real “santa”, the generous historical figure, but he or the magical version is not the center of our holiday. If that makes me a Scrooge, than “bah hum bug” to you!

Stop Being Supermom and the 3 Things that are Most Important to being a Great Mom

Recently read this blog post: Dear Moms, Jesus Wants You To Chill Out.

And I thought I would pass on these words of wisdom. As moms, we really only need be concerned about doing these three things:

  1. Love God
  2. Love Husband
  3. Love Children

Don’t worry about being a super mom.

I am still going to try to keep a clean, organized house, make meals from scratch, and other nice “extras”…BUT if we eat pizza we buy, have books and toys from one wall to the other, and the kids are still in PJs at 2pm…IT IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD! I am not a bad mom, and my kids will still grow up with good values.

As the article also states, Moms, stop comparing yourself! This only leads to discontent, disillusionment, and disaster. If you find yourself more discouraged than lifted up by reading different “mom” blogs, just stop reading them altogether!

So,  I’m gonna go chill out, and I hope you do too.

The Best Banana Bread Fresh Out of the Oven

Cool Autumn days are the perfect baking days. Today was just that kind of day, and I had two ripe bananas just begging me to use them for banana bread.

I usually let my bananas get a little blacker than this, but I just couldn’t wait any longer! The banana bread still comes out delicious with this amount of ripeness.

So, I made myself a cup of coffee and whipped up this delicious, healthy-ish treat!

The recipe comes from my mom, but she actually got it from my great-great Aunt Helen. (so this is a treasured old family recipe!) I modified it just a tad. Part of the modification was on purpose and part of it was not 🙂 Usually, I make these into muffins, but I didn’t feel like cleaning the muffin pan when I was done so I used a 9 x 9 pan and it turned out beautifully!

The Best Banana Bread

INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup Brown Sugar (original recipe called for 1 cup)
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil. If you want to make these low-fat use unsweetened applesauce)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 Cup Mashed Ripe Bananas (approx. 2 medium bananas)
  • 1 1/2 Cups White Whole Wheat King Arthur Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder (I used my new Argo aluminum free kind! love it!)
  • 1 tsp Ground Cinnamon (I adore cinnamon so I add it to almost everything!)
  • 1/4 cup milk….apparently optional, because I forgot to add it! I don’t feel like my bread suffered a bit from not using it though 🙂

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350. Although since I used a glass pan I lowered it to 325
  • In large bowl thoroughly mix together sugar, oil, eggs, and bananas. (I use my hand mixer to ensure the bananas are well mashed up with everything)
  • In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon
  • Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and combine well.
  • If you actually do use milk you would stir it in at this point.
  • For muffins lightly grease pan with olive oil. Just the bottom. If you do the sides they won’t rise well. Bake for 25-30 mins.
  • For a 9 x 9 pan lightly grease pan bottom with olive oil. I use a paper towel to spread around a couple of tsps. Bake for 35-45 mins.
  • The muffins/bread is done when a tooth pick comes out clean.

The Best Banana Bread fresh out of the oven!

And this is how it looks when it comes out of the oven. I promptly cut a piece and devoured it as soon as it was cool enough to pop in my mouth. Sometimes when I am feeling in need of an especially divine treat I will add 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips to the batter…

Enjoy and try to share!

Keeping Things out of Reach from a Tall Toddler

I was attending to my four-month old, Blue Eyes, when my 18 month old, Sweet C, walks into the room with a tomato.

I wondered how on Earth she had gotten a hold of what she apparently wanted for a snack because I had placed the fresh garden treats on the kitchen table out of her reach. Well, what I thought was out of her reach!

This is how far the tomatoes were from the edge of the table. I didn’t think to measure it, but as you can see, they were quite a bit towards the middle…

Tomatoes on my kitchen table. Quite a few inches from the edge!

So, the good thing is it was just a tomato my Sweet C took a bite of and it wasn’t say, a cookie! 🙂

The other good thing about my toddler’s growing reach is if I need a Binky for Blue Eyes that was left on the table I know I can count on having help to retrieve it!

My babies are just growing, growing, growing! Have to enjoy all the little moments and achievements 🙂

Anybody else have a sweet moment to share of their child surprising you with how much they have grown?

How to Make Money When Times are Tough

One of my favorite quotes is: “A penny saved is a penny earned.”

One of the things I’ve been evaluating in my own home is how to help make a little money, but without actually leaving my house. Let’s face it, times are tough! However, I don’t want to sacrifice my most important job of staying at home with my two girls. I’ve thought about small business opportunities such as Pampered Chef, but let’s face it I am just NOT a salesperson. I’ve looked into whether it would be worth my time to do online surveys, mystery shopping, making money blogging, online tutoring, and a handful of other not very feasible options (at least for me!)

Then I realized I’ve had the perfect solution in my hands all along!

The BEST way to make money with times are tough is to SAVE money!

Thank you, Mr. Benjamin Franklin!

I am already a pretty frugal person. As in most instances, there is always room for improvement! So here are a few things I am already doing or plan on doing to make/save me some money!

1. Keep a Grocery Budget Less than $200 a month.
Right now I have two adults and two children, and one is a toddler and one is an exclusively breastfeeding baby, so it’s not difficult to feed 2 1/2 people on that budget. But, as food prices go up and our kids grow (or we become a larger family), I need to really buckle down and be making some wise and economical decisions.
One of the ways I keep a low grocery budget is by buying very little convenience food. A website I recently came across Grocerybudget101 stated perfectly what I have been thinking about these pricey items:

Consumers have been manipulated by marketing  companies for decades to believe  that we have less and less time and  “need” these products, which are often  loaded with colorings,  preservatives and lack any nutritional quality.
The next time you find yourself in the grocery store, I challenge  you to take a  peek into the carts of folks that walk by. The majority of  items within the  cart is convenience items that people have been  manipulated into purchasing  under the false pretense that they “save  time” or are easier than preparing  real food at home.

I feel like I am not only doing my checkbook a favor from not buying many convenience foods but also I am making the best and healthiest choices for my family. Not all convenience foods are these awful, kill-ya things, but I see a choice between bad, good, and best…and in my humble opinion most of these “time saving” options just don’t fall in the “best” category.

2. Distinguish between wants and needs.
This may sound really elementary, but it is so helpful and so true. I often find myself asking this question, “Do I really need this?” The answer is usually no, and it saves us a TON OF MONEY. I am not suggesting it is wrong to buy things we want, even as far as food goes! I LOVE ice cream, but I don’t need ice cream. I do buy ice cream once in a while, but it is not on the weekly grocery list! It is okay to treat yourself and your family.
However, if you have a clear list of want you really need and what is just wants, I think you can save yourself a lot of conflict and cash.
In other words, prioritize! These are very personal decisions. If you truly want to save some money though, it might come down to cutting down some enjoyable “wants”.

3. Spending time can be better than spending money.
Family and friends are great! But sometimes we can get caught up in “having to spend money to do something “. Again, while this is not wrong, it is not necessarily true. Some of the best memories I have of family and friends are just spending time together, not necessarily going anywhere particular, just hanging out! It really is the simple things in life!
I think the same can be said about presents. Especially at Christmas my family has never really been about the gifts. I mean, don’t get me wrong, getting a great gift is awesome! But for us it is the togetherness and the celebration of the CHRISTmas season! I still like to give little gifts, but a lot of times they will be something simple and homemade… like cookies and fudge! (I am going to try to make some tasty yet healthier treats this year…)

4. Manage Time Wiser
And for me, that means getting off the computer now. Break time is over because the kids woke up from nap time!

More next time on how time management is a money saver!