Archive for the ‘children’ Category

Questions to Ask

Recently, I have been thinking of two things: how we teach our children to think of others and how we train ourselves to do the same thing.

In a Bible study for parents my friends are doing, the author prompted them to teach their children to ask “What needs to be done here?” when they leave a room or enter it.

“What needs to be done here?” forces the speaker to think how they can contribute to the overall effort of the family to keep the house, of a group to prepare for a meeting, or simply to help another person complete a task. What needs to be done could be picking up, doing dishes, opening the door for someone, or offering to help with an ongoing effort.

Asking “What needs to be done here?” also teaches that someone must step up to solve problems and that person is often you. Be courageous and ask, “What needs to be done here?” even if that thing is out of your comfort zone. Be someone who contributes and not someone who only takes.

Yesterday, the teacher of my Bible study group told us to ask ourselves “How can I show love in this situation?” Like the previous question, it forces the speaker to look beyond themselves and ask what someone else needs. Answering this question honestly means placing the needs of the person before you above your own. It means working towards loving someone else when we may feel like reacting in the exact opposite way.

Something our children, and some adults still, need to be taught is that it is not all about them. In fact, it never is. This path we are on is about others. It is about how we can best show love to other people. This is the thing Jesus asked of us. He told us to love God and love others.

He did not say love when it was convenient, when we were being loved in return, or when we would get something out of it. He just said to love.

Next time you are in a situation with anther person and you are unsure what to do ask, “How can I show love in this situation?” or “What needs to be done here?” and then have the courage to respond.



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We say prayers for many things in our family. At meals and bedtime, we let the boys lead the prayers. They usually choose to sing the mealtime prayer and switch off saying the bedtime ones. Wash, who just turned three, has the idea of continually giving thanksgiving down.

Wash’s Prayer

Thank you God for eatin’
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for playin’
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for dinosaurs.
Thank you, God.
Thank you, God for sleepin’
Thank you, God.

My children continually remind me to be thankful for the simple things in life. Thank you, God. Thank you, God.

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I know lying is wrong. It says so in the Bible. It was important enough to be in the Top 10 things To Do and Not Do, according to God. However, any good mom knows a little subterfuge is all a part of doing the job and doing it well.

Here are some examples.

Example #1

Over the year, my kids get a lot of candy. It all goes into gallon bags with their names on it in the pantry. Whenever they remember it exists, which is not every day, they ask to have some. If it is appropriate timing or I can use the candy as a bribe (eat all your kale), I do. My kids do not eat candy frequently enough to ever eat all the candy in our bags and I am certainly not going to eat all of it since I do not want to weigh 500 pounds.

What’s a good mom to do? I can’t just throw all the candy away. They would notice that. Kids are smart and sneaky, just like moms. We have to be smarter and sneakier.

I throw the candy away a little at a time. That way, the volume reduces gradually and they never know. You must be careful, though to throw the candy away in such a way that they will never know, which brings me to Example 2.

Example #2

Kids bring home two categories of trash. Stuff they make that is “priceless” and they want to keep forever and trash people give them. You know what I mean by the latter. Cheap toys that break within 5 minutes, decks of cards with cards missing, rocks, broken rubber bands, twisty ties, jar lids, and kid’s meal toys. You know, all the stuff they never want to get rid of.

If you are not careful, your house will be like Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout‘s and you will drown in garbage. To avoid this, while your kids are out of the house, choose a handful of the trash items and throw them away. Warning: Do not simply toss them into the trash can. You have to bury them under other trash or put them in a bag and throw them away.

People without kids are now thinking I am one crazy, paranoid lady, but let me tell you that every time a kid throws something in the trashcan, they spend a looooong time peering into that can. They know something fishy is going on in their house. If they see even the spec of some beloved item/piece of trash actually in the trashcan. All. hell. will. break. loose. Bury that stuff deep and put some smelly garbage on top of it for good measure.

I am not even going to cover all the things we regularly tell kids which are out and out lies: Santa, the Easter Bunny, or why they can’t watch Thomas the Train. My friend hated Thomas so much she told her two-year-old Thomas was not on TV anymore or Netflix or anywhere. I laughed and was sorry I did not think of that first.

Happy Parenting!

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Having children is a life of moments strung together. The moments are sweet, happy, sad, hilarious and they all combine to make parenthood what it is, a crazy rollercoaster with no exit.

Some moments are sweet.

Every night, while Ries reads to the boys, we are currently on Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, I lay with Wash in his bed. He is too young to be still for 30 minutes of reading, so I snuggle with him and that keeps him in his bed, most of the time.

Last week, he placed his little hands on my cheeks and turned my head towards his. He turned those big hazel eyes on me and said, “Mommy, Jesus yuves you. God made you.”

Of course, I completely melted and replied, “Jesus loves you too. God made you too. And Mommy loves you.” And then I kissed his chubby cheeks all over, inhaling his little boy smell while my heart burst.

It is moments like that, these tiny glimpses of his loving soul, that I have to remember when I try not to strangle him as he elbows his brother repeatedly in the face at the grocery store while the deli ladies laugh.

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I recently shared with you that Gideon believes that Mom does “all the things.” I have further evidence to support this idea.

Wash is an adorable 18 month old chap. He does everything his brother does (no matter how naughty), eats like a man determined to gain weight (he IS growing), and still only has 5 teeth (though he is working on two more). What he does not do yet is talk. Much.

He says some words: Ma. Da. Daw (dog). Mo (milk). Sna (snack).

Every once in awhile, he will say a word, like “down’ or “papa”, but then not repeat it again for a week or two. What is the most amusing, is his use of the word “ma.”

“Ma” means a lot of things. It means Mom, obviously, but it also frequently used to indicate the following:

  • Hey, look at me.
  • Look over there.
  • Put on my shoe.
  • Put this sock on my foot.
  • Gideon won’t stop laying on me.
  • Gideon won’t stop tackling me.
  • I want some milk.
  • I’m hungry.
  • I want a bath.
  • I’m ready for bed (this is accompanied by him man-handling my chest since bedtime is the only time he is nursed).
  • I’m excited! And yelling!
  • I peed in my diaper, please change me. Also, there may be poop.
  • My hands are dirty because I got tired of using my spoon for the yogurt.
  • My water is gone, please fix that.
  • The TV is not on. That needs to change.
  • Look at the ridiculous thing this Elmo kid is doing! Mr. Noodles is an idiot.

Ma can mean many things. Why? Because Mom does all the things.

This would be sad and tragic if I had a husband who was uninvolved in the house and our boys. That could not be farther from the truth. I am blessed with a man who does many, many things around our house and who adores spending time with his boys.

It has become the family joke, that I do all the things.

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Vacationing with children always has its own joys and challenges. I love taking my kids to new places. Seeing something with their eyes, for the first time, is an amazing blessing I will never tire of. It makes up for all the work that goes with having kids along for the ride. Gone are the days of care free travel.

This morning, Gideon and I got up well before the sun since we are still on Central time. After some coffee and peanut butter toast, about all we had at the house this morning before our trip to the grocery store, Gideon went down to wake up Daddy and Wash.

I looked out the window and it was snowing. Not huge delicious flakes, but small beautiful fluffs of delight. I ran down all three flights of stairs, we are in the basement of the house, calling for Gideon. We threw on some coats and dashed out to see the snow.

It was wonderful. Gideon and Ries ran around the house, playing in the snow that was already on the ground. My heart was so full of the mountains and winter that I was content in a way that made me want to clutch the moment to remember later when I am back in Houston, sweating and cursing.

There are things that everyone knows about themselves. Things we learn over the course of our lives, about ourselves, about others, and about the world. Almost as long as I have had the memory of contentment, I have known that the mountains is the place my soul lives.

Even so, this is the first time I have been in the heart of the mountains in winter. The views work on me the same way the summer valleys do though they are covered with snow and brown grass and not green waves with flowers. I would not trade this place for any other place. It is not the Grand Tetons specifically, almost any Rocky Mountains will do.

There were other moments in this first day of a week of mountain adventure, but for me, the moment of seeing that first mountain snow eclipsed everything else.

The kids are asleep and it is time to open a 90 Shilling and say slainte to this day.

Good Night, from Jackson Hole, WY

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I know it is Monday and this is not a recipe, but it is food related, so I am pleading artistic license.

Two things recently led me to change the way I pack Gideon’s lunch and how I prepare my own lunch for the day.

A couple weeks ago, I stopped midway through my afternoon and I realized my food intake since breakfast had been a peanut butter and jelly sandwich plus the crusts from Gideon’s pb and j. As a nursing mom, and a mom trying to loose my baby weight in a healthy way, not having time to eat more than pb and js and crusts is not wonderful. I needed a way to have a real lunch.

I went to Gideon’s meet the teacher before his school started and one of the things they stressed is that the kids be able to open all of their lunch containers themselves. We are very big into trash free lunches so I have a lot of small containers that I pack things into.  After some experimentation, I realized, Gideon was not able to open most of the small containers I was planning on sending to school with him.

I was looking around for alternatives to packing our lunches and I found bentos. Bentos are meals packed in a small box and are Japanese in origin. The food packed into the bento should be healthy, not fatty or too carb heavy. The boxes for the bentos are very small.

The size I bought for Gideon and I are 600ml. They are just small Sterilite plastic containers with locking lids. Your bento box should have the same number of ml as calories per meal you are supposed to eat. The box is packed very tightly. I also bought some regular and mini-muffin silicone cups to use as separators.

Here are some bentos I have made:

These bentos contain half a turkey sandwich, strawberries, pineapple, cucumbers, and a pickle. The one on the right is Gideon’s and his only has one cucumber. I pack mine a little tighter and fit a few more things into it. In this first photo, I had not found the silicone baking cups and I used foil baking cups as dividers.

This was a bento for me, though Gideon has gotten very similar ones. It has half a bagel with cream cheese, strawberries, cucumbers, a hard boiled egg, and green olives. When I pack an egg for Gideon, I quarter and salt it, which makes it easier for him to eat. In the picture above, you can see the red silicone baking cups.

One more example. My bento is on the left: half a bagel with cream cheese, clementine quarters, grapes, a hard boiled egg shaped like a car, and olives. Gideon’s, on the right, had less oranges and a pickle and cranberry coffee cake instead of the bagel. I wold not normally send something so desert-like but I was feeling generous and he really liked that cake. His egg is shaped like a fish. He informed me after this day that he preferred the quartered eggs to the shaped ones. The shaped eggs are cute, but you have to peel them while they are still hot and it is more work.

Overall, the bentos have been great. Gideon almost always eats all of his lunch, even the bread crusts. He likes that I put a couple olives and pickles in his lunch. That kid would live on those two things if we would let him. I eat lunches filled with healthy fruits and veggies and no longer find myself eating only a sandwich as I try to wrangle two toddlers through lunch time.

One of the benefits of the bento is that the food is usually finger food, so I can eat it in stages if I have to snatch bites between diaper changes and feeding the bairns.

There are a ton of bento websites, but here are the two that helped me get started:

Just Bento

Lunch in a Box

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