Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Berries, bread, and coffee

Fresh homemade morning

Today started with having my in-laws in town.  It was so wonderful to start the day with them in the house.  Sharing stories and doing life.  It was a quick visit, but always so wonderful to see them.

Since we are heading out on Friday, the goal for all of our meals is to eat through our food so as not to waste it.  Since I am a sucker for cheap food when I can find it, I scored big at Aldi this week, but noticed that we are only about a day away from most of our fruit going bad.

This morning started with smelling coffee brewing while we cut fresh fruit to munch on.  Nothing beats fresh berries and fruit as a morning snack.

While we munched, the kids helped me make squash bread. I have a recipe for Zucchini bread but didn't have zucchini left over from the Lasagna I made last night, but I did had steamed acorn squash and it was sitting in my fridge earlier this week so I used that.  I needed to use it before it went bad, so we turned it into bread.  This bread tastes nothing squash and everything like soft, moist goodness.  I love the crunch of the nuts, but you can easily leave them out.  The Sorghum flour adds to the sweetness, but you can switch it out with an all purpose GF flour.  Coming from someone who has experimented with switching out flours and thinking they are interchangeable, take my word for it, not all flours are created equal.  You could use almond flour or sweet rice flour, but I would stay away from any kind of bean flour.  If you want your kids to eat squash, use the best tasting kind of flour to help balance out the flavor.  Here is a quick couple photo's.

I'll be honest, the bread was so good, we ate the whole thing fresh out of the oven and didn't use any nut butter or jam.  Just soft, moist bread warm from the oven.  It truly lasted about 15 min and then it was all gone. We don't get a lot of bread in this house, so when we do, we go all out.

Coffee and bread this morning was just what I needed to start my day right.

Big really wanted to make a smoothie, so we let him be the chef on that front.  He didn't want any liquid or health benefits, just fruit.  ONLY fruit.  So we scooped fruit from our fruit bowl and he wanted to add a peach a plum and an apple.  So all in all, I think the smoothie included peach, plum, apple, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, and kiwi.  It was Delicious!  That kid is onto something.  I always try to sneak in a veggie or some other health benefit and he went straight to the good stuff.  I'll let him cook more often I think.

After we feasted on brunch we went out to tend the garden.  This is when we got to pick our first produce of the season!  It was very exciting.  We planted late, and last year not at all, so this was a very, very big deal.  I let middle pick it and then we all took a turn to smell our fresh beautiful green pepper.  The smell was so potent.  We decided then we would marinate chicken and have baked chicken on a bed of spinach and strawberries and blueberries that night for supper with strips of our beautiful green pepper.

So today was filled with homemade goodness, a trip to our favorite children's bookstore and a game of Sorry where everyone was in a good mood and not one kid minded loosing. (a rare moment mind you).

Enjoy the recipe!

My version of a Zucchini Bread Recipe

I didn't have zucchini but had lots of squash frozen in one cup increments.  Here is my final version of a recipe that I altered.

Gluten/dairy/corn/sugar free Squash Bread

Preheat 350 degrees

1 cup cooked and mashed squash (or 1 cup of zucchini or pumpkin or banana.  Use whatever you have on hand.)
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch (sometimes called tapioca flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds or flax seeds
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 cup honey or agave or pure maple syrup
1/3 cup coconut oil or olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
2 egg whites or egg replacer (1/4 cup liquid)
1/4 cup coconut milk (or rice or almond if you don't have coconut)

1/3 cup nuts optional

Wisk together sorghum flour, tapioca starch, baking powder, baking soda, chia seeds, xanthan gum, sea salt, nuts if using, and cinnamon.

Add oil, lemon juice, egg white, coconut milk and honey.  Beat to combine and continue to beat on medium high until batter is smooth.

Add in squash or banana, or pumpkin or zucchini.

Scoop and scrape the batter into prepared loaf pan.  Sprinkle nuts on top if using.

Bake for one hour, or till tooth pick comes out clean.

Part Two...EMDR and a bright beautiful party

Because I promised...

Because of a dear friend, this weekend Big was able to participate in EMDR therapy.  This friend has noticed what we knew to be true, that since the tornado, Big hasn't been the same in regards to storms, wind, rain, and if we were being honest, even white puffy clouds.  He is constantly aware of the weather.  He gets incredibly anxious when the sky turns grey, even just for rain.  I can hear him chanting to himself, "It's just rain.  It's just rain.  It's just rain."

My heart breaks for him knowing how scared he is.  Knowing that we don't go anywhere for the day when there is the threat of rain.  I try to balance it out and push him out of the house when I know there isn't rain, but just clouds that day, though I can tell it is hard for him.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of ours, Kyle Hood, was watching the kids, and while at the park, it started to rain.  Big had a huge panic attack and cried like it was the day of the tornado.  Our friend Kyle, who is a counselor, offered to do EMDR therapy with Big after watching his reaction.  Of course being so close to our family, she can't do regular counseling for him, but she could do this.  So on Saturday, Paul and I went with Big and did  our first session of EMDR.

In its basic form, EMDR therapy is taking the person back to the day and moment of the trauma and having them retell the story.  The idea is that because a certain event is so traumatic, the brain has stopped connecting from right brain to left brain in regards to that experience, so it is not functioning fully.  Therefore, every time something similar to that traumatic event happens, that person is thrown back to that day, that moment in time.  Their emotional response is just as heavy and intense.  If I understand all this correctly, the EMDR therapy is sound and vibration that bounces between right and left ears and hands so that when the person retells the story, their brain is making connections, new paths, between the right and left brain.  This will help in moving them forward from the trauma and helping them heal.

Big was timid when we started, and after him retelling the story, then Paul and I both retelling the story and then Big retelling it again, by the end, he was remember new details and could talk about it without crying.  It was pretty cool to see.  I even think just talking about this helps a ton.  What really took me back, was asking Big to retell the story, because I have told it so many times, I forget to ask my kids their opinion about what they remember seeing and hearing and feeling that day.  It was fun to hear his side of the story again.

So we leave for camp on Friday and are going to visit Kyle one more time on Thursday morning to do it again.  We were a little nervous for Big being away from home, his safe place, but at camp if there was a storm, and just want to do everything we can to help him.  Its been bright and sunny here for the last few days so no way to know if the therapy worked or not.  This isn't a cure all, and I don't think the first storm he sees  he's gonna want to throw a party or watch from the porch, but I am hoping he can think things through a bit more, and his anxiety will be less.  We still plan on going to therapy, but just haven't figured it out with insurance yet.

After therapy while in the car, the kids had lots of questions about death what happens to them when Paul and I die.  In a weird way it was such a great way to express to our kids that even in our death we still love them.  That we made a plan to have them taken care of and loved.  Middle had all sorts of questions about when we die, who tells Nana and Papa so they can come for them, are they going to be alone, can we go to the police and hospital and give them Nana and Papa's phone numbers so they can call them when we die.  It was a little weird for me hearing my son figure things out so fast and make a plan for himself when we bite the dust.

That night, after a wonderful day of fun and healing, we went to our neighbors party where they  were celebrating two of their children's birthday and a baptism.  Our neighbors, whom we play with all the time outside are Mexican and this party was in full tradition, the cream of the crop.  Big white tent out back, a bounce house, Spanish music blaring, over 100 guests with all the woman in their finest, and little girls running around in dresses.  In the garage were pots filled with enough rice and chicken and beans to feed a village.  Drinks overflowing and dozens of kids running around.  It was a scene out of a movie or a book.  It was so wonderful getting to experience a completely different world just three houses down.  We enjoyed playing basketball with the kids, playing catch with Big, and getting time to visit with our neighbors.  I'm not gonna lie, one of the best parts was that the food served was food my family could eat.  They had boiled chicken with garlic and onion and delicious rice.  My kids were able to eat a feast and I didn't have to cook it.  Do you know how rare that is?

After all the fun and excitement, we came home, enjoyed bath time, stories and then sang to our kids and prayed over them till they fell asleep.  It was a beautiful day.

I think a lot of times we look at the 10 commandments or law or guidelines that God sets before us for living.and look at it as a chore.  Something else we have to do or can't do.  We feel guilt when we don't do it and God's judgement if we ignore it.  I believe that if we approach his word and will for our life that way, than we won't ever want to participate in the gifts that he has for us.  Making and creating a Sabbath is hard to do.  It's hard to not work.  It's hard to break habits and create new ones.  However, the gift of the Sabbath and all that it gives and offers is irreplaceable.  It changes your mindset to focus on relationships instead of "to do" lists.  It makes it about people and not about work.  It allows time to focus on God and what he is and what he has for you.

We were abundantly blessed on Saturday.  The ground work of spending time with our kids and prayer over them has blessed the rest of our week.  We see the fruits of that for days on end.

The other bonus is that our work has been more productive because we started from a place of rest.

Thanks for letting me share my day.  Look at the link above to know more about EMDR.  And take time in prayer to see how you might be able to incorporate a little bit of  Sabbath into your life.  You won't regret it.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What a Sabbath brings...part one

Today has about four posts in one.  So many great things learned, observed, and enjoyed ye.  Tonight as I write this, my husband is catching up on the phone with his brother, the kitchen is an absolute disaster, and my list of things to do is still just as long today as it was yesterday, but I am so wonderfully happy.

In full disclosure, it is hard to break into the habit of Sabbath.  It is easy to continue doing chores, running errands, checking email and whatnot on the weekend.  Especially yard work.  And for me it is work.  Some people putz in the yard because it relaxes them.  I enjoy it, but don't get me wrong, it is work, so I avoid it on Sabbath.  So, we as a family haven't been the best at carving out this time each week.  We believe in its importance.  God says it is critical to your health as a human, as a family, as a community.  But we have come up short in living in this command.  So Friday we agreed that Saturday we would make sure that Sabbath happened.  We felt this was even more important since we have so much to prepare for our trip, we needed to make sure our priorities we in order.

So yesterday morning started with each kid coming in to have snuggle time.  Once their snuggle quota was met, they went to build a train track in the living room and Paul and I got our snuggle time where we get to casually wake up and talk about the day.

Once up and out of bed, my first thought was to start getting stuff done.  I had to remind myself that today chores weren't allowed, so I sat down at the table to color with my kids. But they had to show me what they had been up to.  They made a new bed for Little out of our empty tupperware bin.  It was too cute not to share.

Then my children proceeded to draw me coloring pages.  It was awesome,  Here is a picture that Big drew me and we colored together.  Nana her hair is read in your honor.

Middle decided, at five mind you, to draw out a paint by number to help me along.  I wasn't sure if I should be impressed or insulted.  I choose to be impressed.  Here are those pictures.  I love how many numbers he gave me to make sure I understood what color I needed. Ha.

After coloring for a bit, the kids decided to come into the kitchen and help me make scones.  There is something wonderful about joining together in the kitchen and cooking together.  We made tasty cinnamon pecan scones with coconut milk.  Once the scones were in the oven, Middle was the creator of our smoothies.  He decided everything that went in them.  So we feasted on scones and strawberry/blueberry/kiwi/coconut milk smoothies.

It was yummy.

During breakfast, we started our "feed your body, feed your soul" devotion.  This basically means that we passages from my Bible during breakfast so that we remember as we feed our body food, our soul needs it too.  It is also a great way to get the kids into "real" word of God.

So before we begin, Middle says "What does soul mean?"  Again I wasn't sure whether to be impressed that he is paying attention, or offended that we have been doing this for months and he is now just asking me.  I again choose to be impressed that he asked.

Then I realized, how the heck do I answer this to a five year old.  So all you theologians out there can tell me how I did.  I thought for a quick moment and then said,

"Think of an egg.  You have the outside shell and then the inside "egg" part.  The white and yellow yoke is the egg right?  The essence of the egg is what's inside.  You crack the shell to get to the inside, the egg.  Well each person has a soul.  Our soul is like the egg and our skin, our body, is like the shell.  The shell holds the egg, the insides."

Then he made the observation that when we die we don't take our body, but we get a new body when Christ comes again, just like we crack and throw away the shell of the egg.

OK, yup, we'll go with that.

So we sat there eating and drinking and talking about eggs and death and our soul.  It felt right not to have to hurry off anywhere, but to focus on my kids and where their hearts and heads are at right now.

Since chores aren't allowed, I asked if the boys wanted to go outside and toss the football around.  I'm not gonna lie, it was weird for me to be outside playing.  If I'm outside I am usually doing chores around the yard.  Our yard has been neglected for two summers due to the tornado.  Even my son noticed that every afternoon I work in the yard.  He asked me two days ago not to work in the yard and just do sidewalk chalk with him.  As a manager of the home it is hard to put aside all the chores and mess staring you in the face and remember to get down on your hands and knees and play.

So since the house  next door got tore down, we have this big beautiful open field.  The boysand I played catch with the football for about 45 min.  We laughed, we fell down, we had silly throws and we worked on good throwing skills.  I caught myself a few times looking around and wanting to call quits to the game to pull a few weeks, put toys away, work on my fence, etc.  But I stayed present with my children and I was rewarded with a wonderful morning.  I made memories with my kids.  I built trust and deepened my relationship with them.  I was a mom who was present and played with my kids.

This truly happened because of the Sabbath.  The Sabbath forces you to stop what you are doing and be present for what is important.  It creates space for you to deepen and build relationship with yourself, the Lord, and your family.  I had to physically remind myself not to work.  To be present and attentive to the relationships around me.  God has a high opinion about the Sabbath.  It is important to him because he knows how deeply we need it.

Fun time, fun mom, playful mom was present on Saturday because I wasn't bogged down by chores.  But the other cool thing that happened on Saturday morning was the conversations I had with my kids.  When you aren't rushing off somewhere and you aren't looking at your to do list, you are able to hear your kids.  To listen.  To talk.  To figure out life together.  The Sabbath provides time for those conversations to happen.

So that was the first half of our day. The rest of the day included EMDR therapy with Big and a fabulous Mexican birthday party in the evening.

Beautiful things tend to happen when you have the time to allow them to happen.  Lately I have been too busy for life to happen.  Saturday, life happened.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Hello again.

I am having this weird relationship with technology right now. 

I need it.  I am using it to purchase things we need because I don't want to run to the store for it.  It connects me to people so I don't feel alone, and I can then know what is going on in their world.  I love the books I am reading on my Kindle.  I love the music I listen to on my radio.  I love being paper free on my finances and doing it all online.

But...I don't like being online all the time, so I haven't.  I don't like being on my phone all the time so I let my phone go to voicemail. I don't like getting in my car and my kids see me hop on my phone.  I don't like having my computer open so I can check it all the time.

My computer crashed months ago and it broke my ties to the outside world, and I'm so glad it did.

Looking back I realized how often I would walk by my computer and check it.  I was texting all the time.  I even started to dialog in my head like it was a blog.  It was out of control.  But it somehow made me feel important, keeping connected.  I somehow started to believe that people needed to hear what I had to say.  That people were waiting to hear from me so I couldn't disappoint them.  It was this sad imaginary sense of self importance.  I believe in the importance of sharing life with others.  Of speaking to the things that change and challenge us so that others may gain and be encouraged by what we have learned.  Of sharing struggles or heartache so that others may know they are not alone.  We were made to be in relationship with others, to walk alongside each other to share in life.  I however started to feel too needed.  That people were waiting on me, and I didn't want to disappoint them.  So I would blog often, and then it became all consuming.   I would end up sitting next to my husband and blogging instead of being with my husband.  Blogging started to fill this imaginary place inside of me that said I was important and needed

And then I got cut off.  I was left with my real life.  I was left with my moments, and my nap time, and my evenings that had so many more options than getting on the computer.  I all of a sudden started to see how I was neglecting my relationships with the people in my house.

Now please don't get me wrong.  I have an Iphone so I am still checking things, but my life and my thoughts and my time aren't wrapped around being connected.  During nap time I would rather nap or garden or read or do chores so I can hang out with my kids in the afternoon.  In the evening I would rather do projects and hang out with Paul or relax.  My focus has turned back to my family.  To enriching the relationships that are before me.

It has amazed me how much mental noise facebook, the internet, email, texting, phone calls create.  Always being connected creates a lot of noise in my life and I simplified.  I enjoy not being connected all the time.  I enjoy being free of the pressure of needing to write a blog all the time.

There are so many fun things I want to share, and I will.  These last couple months have been ones of much learning.  Learning about food issues, learning about child behavior, learning all sorts of home repairs and projects, learning to be selfless.  The list goes on and on, and I'll get to it.

But the main thing I wanted to say was, hello.

Its been awhile.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

Andrew Peterson - The Chasing Song

Andrew Peterson sings my heart better than I have words to write it.

If you have time to listen to this song you should.  He is an artist to support by purchasing his music.  Trust me, you will be blessed.

The Chasing Song

Now and then these feet just take to wandering
Now and then I prop them up at home
Sometimes I think about the consequences
Sometimes I don't

Well, I realize that falling down ain't graceful
But I thank the Lord that falling's full of grace
Sometimes I take my eyes off Jesus
And you know that's all it takes

Well I wish that I could say that at the close of every day
I was happy with the way that I'm behaving

'Cause Job, he chased and answer
The wise men chased the Child
Jacob chased her 14 years and he
Captured Rachel's smile
Moses chased the Promised Land
Joseph chased a dream
David, he chased God's own heart
All I ever seem to chase is me

Well, they say a race can only have one winner
And you know you've got to pull out front to win
God knows the only time I'm winning
Is when I'm chasing Him

Well I wish that I could say that at the close of every day
I was happy with the way that I'm behaving

'Cause Samson chased a woman
and he chased the Philistines
I'm not quite sure what Jonah chased
But I know he caught the sea
Cain, he chased the harvest
While Abel chased the beasts
David, he chased God's own heart
All I ever seem to chase is me
And Jesus chased the money men
And he chased his Father's will
He chased my sin to Calvary
And he caught it on that hill
Saul, he chased the Christians
Till his blindness made him see
David, he chased God's own heart
All I ever seem to chase is me

Please do me a favor, when you click on the link below, after you press play, close your eyes and listen.  It's the only video I could find and its terrible.  Don't be distracted by the crappy pictures posted to go along with this video.  Close your eyes, let it speak to you, and you will be blessed.

At least I have been.  I am glad we have resurrected this album.