My faith

I'm a Mormon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The case for Santa

A few weeks ago DH told our two-year-old that St. Nick was not real. To say I was mad doesn't begin to cover it. However, after I cooled down and listened to his perspective, I could understand where he was coming from.

First of all, DH never believed in Santa. He never experienced those magical Christmas Eves of waiting and being unable to sleep due to excitement and anticipation. Kids at his school received dozens of presents from the Jolley Old Guy, while he received just a few. I'm grateful that his parents didn't focus on the "getting" of Christmas, because I think that shaped him into the man he is (ie not concerned with material possessions or the "getting.") He's also burdened by the idea of extrinsic rewards. Why would we purposely teach our children to be good just to get a reward? (My argument with that is: isn't the purpose of our lives to be good so we can obtain Eternal Life?)

My one concern was that people would be mad at me if my children told them that Santa wasn't real. I've also pondered the reality of lying to my children about some magical being who lives in an unihabitable tundra with a bunch of elves, and who flies a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer. Do I really want to tell my children that?

But then there is the flip side: Santa Claus is a great symbol for Jesus Christ. The Savior gave us the greatest gift possible: his life. And then, in a way no one can comprehend, He was resurrected, giving each one of us the power to eventually conquer death. Why WOULDN'T I want to teach my children this symbol of Christ?

Then again, what about all the people in the world who aren't even Christian? Santa obviously doesn't visit them, so that is a major flaw in the logic of Santa (this was made evident to me in an episode of Phineas and Ferb. They were trying to save Christmas and enlisted the help of their friend, Isabella. She said "well, I don't celebrate Christmas, since I'm Jewish. But SURE, I'll help you.")

Another thing that bugs me is how Santa somehow completely distorts the purpose of Christmas. I have yet to see a non-religious Christmas show that even mentions Christ. How can this be? Santa seems to represent the "magic" of Christmas in a way that totally eliminates the miracle of the Virgin Birth and perfect life of God's own Son!

SO many conflicting ideas! What should I do about it?! I am not a Scrooge. I LOVE Christmas! But I HATE the commercialism of it all. I can't accurately relate how disgusted I am by the advertisements, the store displays, and all the other aspects that completely take Christ out of Christmas.

Inside I am conflicted, but this year I've decided on a plan.

First of all, Santa brings ONE present. That is all.

Next, we leave a lot to the imagination. Santa brings one present. We do not tell stories about Santa. We don't talk about Reindeer or the North Pole. Somehow, DD1 has gleaned that information from friends and other sources. But we don't elaborate.

Finally, any time we DO mention Santa, we are sure to explain that Santa brings us a present to remind us that Jesus gave us the best gift at all.

There is a magical quality about Santa. I don't want to take that away from my kids. But, if they ask "Is Santa real?" I'm not going to go to great lengths to convince them. My response will probably be: "What do you think?"

My question for you is this: What do you think?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Struttin' my stuff

I made this. Yeah. I'm that amazing.





*I realized that I probably seem really cocky with my crafting. You have to understand, I've always been the kind of person who thought I couldn't sew. And here I am, making towels and skirts! I hope my little niece will like this skirt! I think I'll make one for my almot 10-year-old sister. (That's right, she was born when I was in high school!)

I wanted to do a tutorial, but I was too lazy to take pictures. Just sew some strips together, hem, and add an elastic waistband! Voila!

Maybe, if I sew another one, I will give step-by-step instructions. And the little flower is SEW easy to make. Ha ha! I'm so punny!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Easy-Peasy Hooded towel


I was going to give instructions for how to make this, but I didn't take pictures and I thought it was too confusing to explain without them. So, just follow this link's instructions. And to make the letters, I printed off the letters for the Rag-quilt letters pattern (google it), cut out from fleece (not easy to cut, by the way) and sewed them on. By the second towel (not pictured) I was better at sewing the letters on. Don't look too closely.

I hope he will like it.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

De-lurk day.

When it comes to lurking, I'm a pro. If you're reading this and you have a public blog, I probably follow your blog on Google Reader, and rarely make comments. I'm as guilty as you are of lurking.

BUT, today I'm inviting you over to my blog, leave a comment, and if you can help me out with the question at the end of this post, please do!

De-lurk day begins now (and goes through next Thursday.) Happy Saturday.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Commitment to Motherhood

Most of the books and articles I've read about motherhood are from women who, through a great amount of soul-searching and trust in the Lord, grew in to their roles as mothers. Many have had successful careers and found home-making dull by comparison. While I love these faith promoting stories, I recently came across an article, written in the 70's, that more closely parallels my own attitude toward my role as a mother.

Commitment to Motherhood
By LaRee Farrar

My commitment to motherhood began at age four with a rubber doll my father dubbed “Moses.” Moses got a bath every time my baby sister did, and since it was midsummer, bathtime came several times a day. Moses developed large holes. I was crushed. Unfortunately, wartime shortages made him impossible to replace.

My own mother was a college graduate and certified nursery school teacher. When she had to earn money, she conducted a nursery school at home, cleaned other people’s homes because she could take me, a toddler, with her, rented part of our home to another family, bottled our garden produce, and sewed our clothes.

As I went through school, I found enormous pressures against committed motherhood. In junior high, we were required to write term papers on our careers: motherhood and homemaking were not on the list. When a college acquaintance found out I was majoring in clothing and textiles, he asked, “What do you want to be? A seamstress?” During my sophomore year, a young man asked, “What are you doing here? It doesn’t take brains to make babies.” I once knew a professor who wanted a law requiring women graduates to work outside the home for at least five years to repay taxpayers their investment.

In view of these pressures, I was glad my commitment had begun early. I paid careful attention to diet and exercise from my early teens on, because I wanted to provide my future children with healthy bodies.

After my first daughter was born, I returned to my full-time job and found out something else about my commitment as a mother. It had to be full-time. My sitter was very devoted, but we couldn’t tell each other everything we needed to know about my daughter’s development. Five and a half months later I started working half days, but even that part-time commitment was putting priorities in the wrong order for me. When my baby was a year old, I quit work.

When I became a full-time mother, I discovered that my former jobs, even though I enjoyed them, were boring by comparison. They shouldn’t have been. One was in a dress shop where I did all the interior and exterior display, worked in receiving and marking, figured open-to-buys, and did sales work and modeling. On a later job I worked as secretary to an editor and a technical writer, finally doing the editor’s job myself and some artwork and writing.

Yet motherhood was more fulfilling. When working outside the home, I had no control over my immediate environment, which sometimes included profanity, “dirty” jokes, and what I considered low ethical standards. But as a committed, full-time mother I could create an atmosphere of physical and moral beauty within my home, no matter what was outside.

Furthermore, in my job as a full-time mother, I could put all my knowledge to work instead of bits and pieces of it. In fact, my knowledge of history, philosophy, humanities, chemistry, government, economics, and theology was grossly inadequate. My professors never asked me such questions as: “When was God born?” “Where does money come from?” or “What happens when a cake bakes?” But my three-year-old did.

In my job as mother, I discovered that I was often fulfilling one of the most important requirements for a doctoral degree: an original contribution to a field of knowledge. Because each child and each family is different, a complete commitment to motherhood requires that a mother do this repeatedly. Mothers are some of the most interesting people I know.

There is only one commitment that should properly be placed ahead of motherhood, and that is my commitment as a wife. The importance of this commitment became especially clear to me after the birth of our twins when it took all the effort my husband and I could produce just to cope with their basic needs. Fortunately, this situation improved as they grew older, but it made me aware that my commitment to motherhood was best placed in subjection to my commitment as a wife.

Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients:1 cup frozen fruit, thawed a little
1 cup packed fresh spinach
3/4 Cup vanilla almond milk or apple juice
1 TBSP chia seeds (optional, they get kind of gelatinous in water, but I like the texture. Plus, this adds omega 3's and some great nutrients to your smoothie!
1 heaping teaspoon soy protein powder (you can use whey protein powder, but then it wouldn't be vegan.)

Blend it all together. You'll want your fruit slightly thawed so you can blend it easier. The more frozen they are, the thicker your smoothie will be.

I get a big bag of frozen fruit smoothie mix from Walmart that has strawberries, pineapple, peaches, and mango. I think it tastes great. I also get a huge bag of frozen blueberries, they are about $8 each and last me 2+ weeks. I drink these, or similar smoothies about 5 times a week.

You can get soy protein powder from any health food store. It is expensive per pound, but you only need like 1/4 pound to last you a long time. 1 TBSP has 88 grams of protein!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas list

This year I don't have a Christmas wish list. I mean, I got a great deal on the kitchenaid mixer I've been wanting for years, so that is already on it's way. Other than that, I feel like I have everything I want or need. And anything someone could buy me, I could probably buy myself if I really wanted to. Not saying we're rich, but most store-bought gifts don't really mean that much to me.

However, I do have a long long list of things to-do. More accurately, I have a long list of things I want to make!

These are for my nephews. I've already sewed them, I just have to cut out the fleece letters for their names and sew them on.

I've had these on my to-do craft list for a while. For my nieces, I hope they like them. I sew elastic together and tie, instead of using a ribbon. And I do tie it tight, since the elastic has some give.

My oldest niece already received a tutu for her birthday last week, so I'm thinking of making her one of these shirts with some remnant fabric I have, but modifying it as a dress, and making it with a long sleeved shirt. I'll post the result!

I'm desperate to make one of these scarves! How cute is that? I have a few people who I think would enjoy something like this!

My biggest project has to remain a secret, because I am making them for my sisters. But here's my question: what would YOU do with an old wood picture frame? I'd love to hear your ideas, and I can't wait to reveal my own!!

Happy Christmas project completing!!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Mary DID know!


This poem by Marilyn Arnold is inspiring! I often wonder what Mary thought about when she "took all these things and pondered them in her heart."

I sit here,
2000 years away,
gazing out blinded windows
trying to see--
past the dirtying snow
and the thickening fog
to that moment in Nazareth
when Gabriel came in blinding light
to a young woman
(I was once a young woman)
and said, "Hail thou art
highly favored, the Lord is with thee:
blessed art thou among women."
And then he announced that she
would conceived and bear the Son
of God, the Redeemer of the world--
that God, the Father, would father
her child, and that her child
would be her Lord and God.


Luke says she was "troubled"
and apparently afraid.
Troubled. What a burden of meaning
for a single word.
She had read the prophecies,
she knew a virgin would conceive
and bear the Holy Kind of Israel,
but she could not conceive of the event
nor of herself as that virgin.
"How shall this be, seeing
I know not a man?"

I labor to reconstruct the moment,
to fathom her mind's first incredulous
response to the news. Troubled,
Luke says. Indeed.

Why me? I cannot do this thing
Ah, God, let me sleep and then wake
to discover this a dream,
to find this angel is merely
a strange cast of light.
Insubstantial. Nothing to be heeded.
Let yesterday return, when all my mind
was full only of Joseph and our marriage.
Joseph! Ah, Joseph!
How will I tell him? Will he believe?

And then Gabriel interrupting,
answering her fear and
her stuttering heart:
"The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee,
and the power of the Highest shall
overshadow thee....For with God
nothing shall be impossible.

And she, knowing it is so,
knowing she is to be the vessel of
first deliverance, and He of second,
acquiesces, drawing strength from obedience:
"Behold the handmaid of the Lord;
be it unto me according to thy word."

"And the word was with God, and the
Word was God." And the Word
was with Mary, and then with us.
And is ever with us.
Mary, given to pondering things
in her heart, emerges in strength and surety.
I, pondering things through the dimness
of blinded windows,
take heart in messages from angels
and the new voice of woman transformed,
resounding through centuries of muffled hope:

My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of this handmaiden;
for behold, from henceforth
all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name."

Friday, December 3, 2010

My favorite Christmas Carol

I'm not sure why this song touches me so deeply. Perhaps, having given birth and looking into the eyes of my newborn, it is powerful to contemplate who's presence that little one came from, and what their earthly mission will be?

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day walk on water?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has come to make you new?
This Child that you delivered will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy will calm the storm with His hand?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy has walked where angels trod?
When you kiss your little Baby you kissed the face of God?

Mary did you know.. Ooo Ooo Ooo

The blind will see.
The deaf will hear.
The dead will live again.
The lame will leap.
The dumb will speak
The praises of The Lamb.

Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know
that your Baby Boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know
that your Baby Boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
The sleeping Child you're holding is the Great, I Am.

Self-help


A few months ago I was perusing the shelves of a local bookstore. I came across the title What the Scriptures Teach Us About Raising a Child. Of course this book caught my eye! An entire book dedicated to Christ-centered parenting? What could be better?

But before I picked up the book, I remembered something I learned in college. I constantly feel blessed to have attended a university that taught faith and academics simultaneously. I specifically remember a lesson in a teacher education class that centered on how to apply the scriptures to teaching. The teacher encouraged us to start at the beginning of the Book of Mormon and study each verse to see what we could glean about teaching. I began a study, and was amazed at what I learned! My study fizzled out before I got very far, but the lesson stayed in the back of my mind.

As I thought about that lesson in regards to this, likely inspiring, book, I realized that even though reading other's interpretation of doctrine and the Gospel can bring enlightenment, it is nothing compared to what the Holy Ghost can teach us when we diligently search God's word.

I myself have been a victim of the "Self-Help" epidemic, as I like to call it. There are millions of books on the market, all dedicated to helping people be better spouses, parents, children, teachers, dieters, personal finance managers, etc. You can find a self-help book on just about any subject you want. But I will never forget a truth taught by President Boyd K Packer, who said "I have long believed that the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than talking about behavior will improve behavior."

Don't get me wrong, I think self-help books have their place. But when we need to change ourselves, we shouldn't turn first to the latest fad, or scientific discovery but to the Savior and His words. He will change our hearts and through His grace, and our efforts, we will become more like him.

So, with all these thoughts in mind, I began. Starting in 1 Nephi chapter one, which my notebook and pen in hand, I poured over each verse, searching for truths that would teach me how to be a parent. I begged the Savior to help me know how to teach the little ones He has entrusted to me. I pleaded for answers and learned things I would never have supposed. From the verse that explained how Lehi pitched his tent next to a river of water, I learned that, as parents, our first priority should be to stay close to the source of Living Water, the Savior. From Nephi's declaration "Let us be faithful," I learned that even when people around me mock my values and efforts to be obedient, I can rely on the Lord, and I can teach my children this.

I have been amazed and comforted at how much love God has for His children. I'm still progressing (slowly), and to be honest, sometimes my efforts to study the entire Book of Mormon seeking to know how to raise my children lags a little. But I have faith that the Lord will teach me what He wants me to know, and the Holy Ghost will testify of the truth of the Book of Mormon as the Word of God.

* I LOVE the illustration on the cover of this book! One of my favorite pictures of Mary and her Son!

Monday, November 29, 2010

It's the Holiday Season...

For years I have been wanting to make an advent calendar. Last year I was going to make this particular calendar, but never got around to it. So this weekend I made sure I had everything I needed, and started in on my project. I'm making three calendars. One for each of my girls with a treat inside, and one for our family that has the daily scriptures/stories/songs/movies to help us remember the Savior.
My almost 3-year-old took this picture.

Make sure you put magnets on 4 sides of the back of each circle.


She was so proud of the calendar she "helped" make. Excuse her sans pants appearance. She stayed home from church sick, and therefore never got dressed.

Also, as a kick-off to my HOLIDAY season, I wanted to share this great article from Gordon B Hinckley. Reading this helps me keep Christ in Christmas!
At this Christmas season, may I share a few thoughts concerning him whose birth we commemorate—the Man of Miracles, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Although he healed the sick, raised the dead, caused the lame to walk and the blind to see, there is no miracle comparable to the miracle of Christ himself.

We live in a world of pomp and muscle, of strutting that glorifies jet thrust and far-flying warheads. It is the same kind of strutting that produced the misery of the days of Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and Hitler. In this kind of world it is not easy to recognize that—

A babe born in a stable of the village of Bethlehem,

A boy reared as a carpenter of Nazareth,

A citizen of a conquered and subdued nation,

A man whose mortal footsteps never went beyond a radius of 150 miles, who never received a school degree, who never spoke from a great pulpit, who never owned a home, who traveled afoot and without purse

Truly, his coming, ministry, and place in our eyes is as foretold by the ancient prophet Isaiah: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.” (Isa. 9:6.)

I ask anew the question offered by Pilate two thousand years ago, “What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ?” (Matt. 27:22.) Indeed, we need continually to ask ourselves, What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ? What shall we do with his teachings, and how can we make them an inseparable part of our lives? In light of these questions, at this season we ask another: What does Christmas really mean? May I suggest some things that it should mean?

Christmas means giving. The Father gave his Son, and the Son gave his life. Without giving there is no true Christmas, and without sacrifice there is no true worship. There is more to Christmas than neckties, earrings, toys, and all the tinseled stuff of which we make so much.

I recall an experience I heard at a stake conference in Idaho. A farm family in the community had just contracted for the installation of an additional and much-needed room on their home. Three or four days later the father came to the building supply dealer and said, “Will it be all right with you if we cancel the contract? The bishop talked with John about a mission last night. We will need to set this room aside for a while.” The building supply dealer responded, “Your son will go on his mission, and he will find the needed room when he returns.” Here was the spirit of Christmas—a family sending a boy into the world to teach the gospel, and friends coming to help the family with their problems. What then, indeed, shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ?

Christmas means giving—and “the gift without the giver is bare.” Giving of self; giving of substance; giving of heart and mind and strength in assisting those in need and in spreading the cause of His eternal truth—these are of the very essence of the true spirit of Christmas.

Christmas means the Christ child, the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger while angels sang and wise men traveled far to bring gifts. It is a beautiful and timeless story, and I hope each of us will read it again this season.

When I think of the Savior, I think not only of the words of Matthew and Luke, but also of the words of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

“The same was in the beginning with God.

“All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:1–4.)

Here is something more than a babe in a manger; here is the Creator of all that is good and beautiful. I have looked at majestic mountains rising high against the blue sky and thought of Jesus, the Creator of heaven and earth. I have stood on the sand of an island in the Pacific and watched the dawn rise like thunder—a ball of gold surrounded by clouds of pink and white and purple—and thought of Jesus, the Word by whom all things were made and without whom was not anything made that was made. I have seen a beautiful child—bright-eyed, innocent, loving and trusting—and marveled at the majesty and miracle of creation. What then shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ?

This earth is his creation. When we make it ugly, we offend him. Our bodies are the work of our Creator. When we abuse them, we abuse him.

Christmas means eternity. As certainly as Christ came into the world, lived among men, laid down his life, and became the first fruits of the resurrection, so, through that atonement, all become partakers of immortality. Death will come, but death has been robbed of its sting, and the grave of its victory. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25–26.)

I remember standing before the bier of a young man whose life had been bright with hope and promise. He had been an athlete in his high school, and an excellent university student. He was a friendly, affable, brilliant young man. He had gone into the mission field. He and his companion were riding down the highway when a car, coming from the opposite direction, moved into their lane and crashed into them. He died in the hospital an hour later. As I stood at the pulpit and looked into the faces of his father and his mother, there came then into my heart a conviction that I had seldom before felt with such assurance. I knew with certainty, as I looked across that casket, that this young man had not died, but had merely been transferred to another field of labor in the eternal ministry of the Lord.

Indeed, what shall one do with Jesus who is called Christ? Let us live with the certain knowledge that some day “we shall be brought to stand before God, knowing even as we know now, and have a bright recollection of all our guilt” (Alma 11:43.) Let us live today knowing that we shall live forever. Let us live with the conviction that whatever principle of intelligence and beauty and truth and goodness we make a part of our life here, it will rise with us in the resurrection.

Christmas means compassion and love and, most of all, forgiveness. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29.) How poor indeed would be our lives without the influence of his teachings and his matchless example. The lessons of the turning of the other cheek, going the second mile, the return of the prodigal, and scores of other incomparable teachings have filtered down the ages to become the catalyst to bring kindness and mercy out of much of man’s inhumanity to man.

Brutality reigns where Christ is banished. Kindness and forbearance govern where Christ is recognized and his teachings are followed.

What shall we do then with Jesus who is called Christ? “He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8.)

“Wherefore, I say unto you, that ye ought to forgive one another; for he that forgiveth not his brother his trespasses standeth condemned before the Lord; for there remaineth in him the greater sin.” (D&C 64:9.)

Christmas means peace. I remember being in Europe a number of years ago at the time tanks were rolling down the streets of a great city, and students were being slaughtered with machine-gun fire. I stood that December day in the railroad station in Berne, Switzerland. At eleven o’clock in the morning, every church bell in Switzerland began to ring, and at the conclusion of that ringing, every vehicle stopped—every car on the highway, every bus, every railroad train. The great, cavernous railway station became deathly still. I looked out the front door across the plaza. Men working on the hotel opposite stood on the scaffolding with bared heads. Every bicycle stopped. Every man and woman and child dismounted and stood with bared, bowed heads. Then, after three minutes of prayerful silence, trucks, great convoys of them, began to roll from Geneva and Berne and Basel and Zurich toward the suffering nation to the east, laden with supplies—food, clothing, and medicine. The gates of Switzerland were thrown open to refugees.

As I stood there that December morning, I marveled at the miraculous contrast of the oppressive power mowing down students in one nation and the spirit of a Christian people in another who bowed their heads in prayer and reverence, then rolled up their sleeves to provide succor and salvation.

What shall we do then with Jesus which is called Christ? “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt. 25:35–36.)

He whose birth we commemorate this season is more than the symbol of a holiday. He is the Son of God, the Creator of the earth, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Redeemer of mankind, the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.

I thank our Eternal Father that mankind in these latter-days has been so blessed to know of Christ with added certainty and added knowledge. I rejoice with thanksgiving that he has reaffirmed his matchless gospel truths in their fulness, and that he has restored his priesthood power and church to prepare a people and make ready for his eventual coming in great glory and power in the opening of the Millennial era.

I rejoice at Christmas time that as a people, we Latter-day Saints know of his existence and reality, and receive certain direction from him.

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.” (D&C 76:22–24.)

This is our testimony to all mankind. It is our gift and blessing to the world. He is our joy and our salvation, and we will find Christmas of greater meaning in our own lives as we share these truths with others.

What shall we do with Jesus who is called Christ? Learn of him. Search the scriptures for they are they which testify of him. Ponder the miracle of his life and mission. Try a little more diligently to follow his example and observe his teachings. Bring the Christ back into Christmas.

Gordon B. Hinckley, “‘What Shall I Do Then with Jesus Which Is Called Christ?’,” Ensign, Dec 1983, 3

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The wagon keeps on rolling

Remember how I was supposed to not eat meat for a month? Self-imposed goal. Well, I ate meat a few times last week. I didn't really enjoy it, but it wasn't bad. And I'm not beating myself up. I think I'm trying to look at the larger picture of my overall health. So I'll keep trying to focus on whole foods and not eating heavily processed things and I'm sure I'll still feel great!

The main goal of this post is to share this:



Oh yes! Homemade bread. That's what I'm talking about. I took some to share with my Sunday School class today (12 and 13 year old kids) and the Bishop's son said "oh, whole grain," in a sarcastic voice. He's a great kid. He's 13...
ANYWAY...
To make this delicious stuff, follow this basic recipe, but in the beginning substitue a cup of wheat flour for a cup of rolled oats, 1/4 cup quinoa, and 1/8 cup chia seeds. Or, you can add whatever seeds or quick cooking grains you like (I wouldn't use whole wheat kernals or rice, they'll be hard in the bread.) Let the soupy mixture sit for 20 minutes before you add the yeast mixture, to absorb some of the moisture. Add an extra tsp of salt. I also added two teaspoons of soy protein powder (88 grams of protein per TBSP!)

If you would like free bread-making lessons, come on over! Or come for a free sample. If you live close, that is. And if you know where I live.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cop out

Isn't it so lame when bloggers just post links of other blogs. I guess sometimes other people just post things I wish I had posted. Or maybe it just goes to show that as God's Children, we need each other and all the varied talents and ideas we each bring to the table.

At any rate, my wonderful sister wrote this, and I was touched.

My other little *sister could sure use some love this month! I can't believe it has been a year since we lost Scotlin. I wish he was here now. I wish we were watching him learn to walk and play with his cousins. I wish we could all see the big picture behind this tragedy, but we're still a bit shocked, sad, and lost.

Reading in Luke 1 the other day, I had the reassurance that Scotlin's little spirit was in his body. When Mary meets with Elisabeth, John jumps in Elisabeth's womb for being in the presence of the Mother of the Son of God. I think Heavenly Father was reminding me that Scotlin had his brief mortal existence, and Scotlin has other purposes in the eternities that we can't yet comprehend. Still, I feel the loss of my little nephew. I wonder what he would look like. I wonder what his little personality would be like!

For now we continue following the Savior. I find great comfort in the words of the Savior: "IN the world ye shall have tribulation. But be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world."

*Don't read Whitney's blog unless you're prepared to cry.*

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

num nums

No, that is not a euphemism for anything. It's what my niece called anything tasty for a while.
And you can bet I'll be trying this pumpkin nutella cake this Thanksgiving!! Thanks Two Peas and Their Pod!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food for thought.

The benefits of soy. Interesting. I'm inclined to think moderation in all things is a good maxim for life. But this fact sheet certainly makes me think twice before consuming animals.

Monday, November 15, 2010

a fun hobby

Artistic. Not a word I would ever use to describe myself. Still, I'm surprised by these




Yep. I made those. More mathematical than artistic. I'm pretty impressed with myself.

Vegetarian week 2 in review

How shocking that I haven't kept up with my posting schedule about my vegetarian experiment! But I did want to share a few things that I've learned this past week.

First, I have not had success in cutting out dairy and eggs, although I have definitely cut back by about 1/2, which I think is good!

Next, I'm trying not to think of my diet as a restricted one. Instead, I try to think off all the things I can eat and try (nutritional yeast, anyone?). I made a date/fig quick bread, which wasn't too awesome. But I tried it.

Whenever I start drooling over the thought of meat, I know that I'm hungry. So I eat something, and the cravings cease.

DH is completely supportive. To the point that he is mean to me whenever I ask him if I should put chicken into the white bean soup, or when I beg him to stop on his way home and pick up a ham sandwich. Perhaps mean is too strong a word. He just thinks I need to try this for a month to really perceive any health benefits.

I really don't know if I will make this long term or not. We shall see. Here is what I do know:
1. I plan on eating 8-10 servings of fruits/vegetables a day. Two at each meal, and at least 2 snacks a day.
2. Processed foods don't belong in my diet. That includes junk food, mixes, etc. Doesn't include canned beans or fruits.
3. Continue to limit sweets/refined sugars and flours, and fats (especially hydrogenated fats.)
4. Lots of whole grains (breads, pastas, rice, etc...)
5. Try at least 1 new recipe a week.

I'm still not sure if I'll eat turkey on Thanksgiving. At first I was planning to, but now I'm not so sure. The Thanksgiving we're going to is going to have a deep-fried turkey, and I'm just not down with that. However, I'm thinking I'll do a vegan fast the first week of December. (You know, going a week with absolutely no animal products. I might miss butter the most...)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Yummy stir-fry

I decided that instead of trying crazy new recipes all the time, I would just modify recipes I already like. So here is my Vegan veggie/lentil stir fry. (I would have used edamame, but I didn't have any.)

3 cups fresh veggies (your favorites, I used brocolli, cauliflower, and carrots, 1/2 onion).
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/4 C soy sauce
1/2 C vegetable broth
1/4 C water
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
dash black pepper
1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1/2 C cooked lentils

Start rice cooking. When it has 15 minutes left, start stir-fry

Heat oil in skillet and stir fry veggies for 4 minutes. While veggies are cooking, stir together the rest of the ingredients, except the lentils, dissolving sugar and mixing well. Stir sauce and lentils into the veggies and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in a little thickener (cornstarch dissolved in water) and simmer until veggies are as tender as you want them and sauce thickens.

YUM!

Why not eat animals?

Just in case you want to ask why I'm trying not to eat animals or their products, I have created a list of reasons. If you think this is weird, that is fine. Please keep that to yourself. Or complain about it to your husband. :) Something I've learned this week is that Veganism is a process, and it isn't a list of dos and do nots. It's more about doing what you feel is best for your body and giving respect to everyone and everything around you. It involves being aware of the planet and how you impact everything you come in contact with. I still have a lot to learn, but these are the reasons I'm choosing to eat only plants.

1. To be healthier. I don't think eating small amounts of meat will cause you to die a painful death, but I have researched a substantial amount (not fad diets or tips from doctors who want to get rich, but from reading about 30+ years of comprehensive nutrition research) and feel that working towards eating few, if any, animals products is GREAT for your health, energy, and longevity.

2. The more I learn about how our bodies work, the less desire I have to eat meat. It really doesn't taste that great anyway.

3. I am aware that the Word of Wisdom does not say "Don't eat meat," but it does say to eat meat sparingly and only in times of famine or winter. I like to think of the Word of Wisdom in this respect, as telling us all the great things we can and should eat! Fruits in their seasons, every kind of grain. There are so many things I haven't tried.

4. I am really curious and want to try something new. :) I may be less strict when I get pregnant again, depending on how sick I get. But I kind of want to substantiate these claims that eating a plant-based diet is so great for one's body!!

Again, feel free to ask questions, or to think I'm crazy. But please omit any unkind comments. :)

And read the China Study. It just might change your life!

Some sites I've found helpful:
Whole Foods Vegan Momma
The Vegetarian Society

Information overload

I could attempt to inundate you with the vast amount of knowledge I've gained this week about practicing veganism (you read that correctly.)

Suffice it to say that my new-found knowledge is pushing me from the "experiment" stage into the "completely changing the way I think about nutrition as well as changing my lifestyle" stage.

Sounds crazy. I know.

And I will confess that, while attending a family party where the two main dishes contained meat, it was not easy to resist. I was very hungry. But when I really thought about it, the pulled pork and chicken salad really weren't appealing.

I'd like to share one tidbit, as I'm sure that if you are a personal friend and you are reading this, you are probably worried about me. The first thing my brother-in-law asked when I told him what I was trying was "aren't you still nursing?" I am, with no plans to stop in the near future.

So let's talk essential nutrients. There are 4 nutrients you get from animals that you can't get from plants. Vitamins A, D, &B-12 and cholesterol. You actually don't need to take in any cholesterol because your body can make everything it needs. Your body can readily convert all of the Beta Carotene you eat into Vitamin A, and if you spend 15 minutes in the sun every few days, your body will handily make all the Vitamin D you need. (Aren't our bodies awesome?!)

That leaves B-12. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of the China Study (one of the 3 books every person who wants to change their lives should read*), mentions in his book that our bodies store 3 years worth of B-12. So unless you're pregnant, nursing, or been a Vegan for more than a couple years, you don't need a B-12 supplement. He also mentions that all other supplements are unnecessary for those who eat a plant-based diet.

Isn't this all fascinating? I've tried to determine how I feel. I've still been eating a moderate amount of dairy, and I have eggs every day. I think I will replace dairy with soy and other plant milks (I tried soy yogurt this week and it was surprisingly good.) I may hang on to eggs for a while, until I get my pantry supplies built up. I may also continue to feed my girls an egg a couple times a week.

*The other two books being The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ and Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I will go and do, not question You.


I have gained great strength from Nephi and his journey from Jerusalem to the promised land. His willingness to obey no matter what is inspiring. In 1 Nephi 9, Nephi explains a particular commandment. “I have received a commandment of the Lord that I should make these plates,” meaning the smaller plates. The large plates already contained a record of what had happened.

We know that Nephi is faithful in keeping God’s commandments. When he was commanded to obtain the Brass Plates, he knew why. He knew that his posterity would not have been able to obey the commandments unless they had the scriptures which contained God’s law. He knew they were commanded to leave Jerusalem in order to preserve their lives. He even knew that if he failed to obey the prompting to slay Laban, however repulsed he felt by such a command, would result in an entire nation dwindling in unbelief. So he had faith, not only that God would help him accomplish the commandments, but that each commandment had a divine purpose.

Verses 5&6 in 1 Nephi 9 provide interesting insights: “This Lord hath commanded me to make these plates for a wise purpose in him, which purpose I know not. BUT THE LORD KNOWETH ALL THINGS from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of his words.” The powerful message behind these words is that sometimes we may not know the reason for a specific commandment. Often times we don’t fully understand why we are asked to do something. But we can exercise a particle of faith and ACT, knowing that God’s purposes will be revealed eventually.

This principle seems to fall directly in line with what Elder Richard G Scot of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said in the most recent General Conference: “Thus, every time you try your faith—that is, act in worthiness on an impression—you will receive the confirming evidence of the Spirit. As you walk to the boundary of your understanding into the twilight of uncertainty, exercising faith, you will be led to find solutions you would not obtain otherwise. With even your strongest faith, God will not always reward you immediately according to your desires. Rather, God will respond with what in His eternal plan is best for you, when it will yield the greatest advantage. Be thankful that sometimes God lets you struggle for a long time before that answer comes. That causes your faith to increase and your character to grow.”

I do have to clarify that I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask Heavenly Father to help us understand why we are to obey the commandments. Especially if it troubles us. But failing to obey the commandment until we understand every detail and the eternal perspective of it can result in missed blessings, decreased faith, and ultimately apostasy.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Progress

Do you think eating 12 pumpking chocolate chip cookies cancels out any good I've done from not eating meat the last two days? And would you believe how tempted I was by a sausage McMuffin from McDonalds this morning?

This not eating meat thing is hard!

My motivation right now is really curiosity. I'm curious how I'll feel at the end of the month by not eating meat.

Here are the recipes from this week's meals so far:

Broccoli Cheese Calzones:
1 container ricotta cheese
1 box (9oz) frozen broccoli, thawed (I used 1 raw bunch, chopped)
1/3 cup grated parm cheese
2 egg whites
1 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
pizza bread dough
1 can pizza sauce (or make your own)

Mix all but the last 2 ingredients together. Spread onto rolled out dough, fold over, and seal edges. Bake at 400 F for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown.
Verdict: Good. Not great. DH liked them, except the bread part. I probably could have just baked the filling with noodles or something for him. Or put it into a veggie lasagna.

Mediterranean Minestrone Casserole:
3 Medium carrots, sliced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable broth
2 6 oz cans tomato paste
2 TBSP Italian seasoing
1 TBSP sugar
1 can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 cups cut green beans
1 Cup uncooked elbow noodles

Mix everything except the noodles and green beans into a crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours. 30 minutes before serving, turn crock pot to high and stir in noodles and beans. Top with parmesan cheese.

Verdict: make sure you cook your green beans all the way. Ours were too crunchy. This was good. It would have tasted better with some italian sausage... And it kind of looked like throw-up. Not to deter you from making this. It was good. Just not THAT good. If I make it again I will probably use kidney beans.

Anyway, things are going well. I'm determined. And my grocery bill was ON budget this week, WAHOO! So that is a major motivation to not eat meat. And I got cage-free eggs on sale, so I'm excited to try those tomorrow. We'll see if I can taste a difference. It's ok if you think I'm nuts. I probably am.

Monday, November 1, 2010

To eat meat...


You might say I've been on a health kick lately. Well, minus the hundreds of fun-size candy bars I've downed this week. But really, I've been running more than I've ever run in my life, practicing yoga, and trying to get in my 5 fruits and vegetables each day. Nutrition has always fascinated me, but I've always thought people who were vegetarian were probably nuts.

But lately I've had this little bird on my shoulder urging me to research a meatless diet, and bugging me to try it out. So I am. I'm not morally opposed to eating meat. I don't think you are going to die a horrible death if you do. I'm not even saying that I'm never going to eat meat again. I'm just going to try, this month, not eating meat. I will still eat eggs and cheese, though I'll probably limit those things. I will be sure to get enough protein, iron, and B-12. I'm really just curious.

I had a friend in high school who was the kind of vegetarian who wouldn't eat meat, but who would down an entire package of oreos in a single sitting. That is NOT what I'm going for. Part of my plan is to stay away from candy and other packages goodies. I can eat cookies and things if I make them myself, and they will probably be pumpkin cookies or carrot cake, or even apple pie.

I'm also excusing myself for Thanksgiving. Turkey is my favorite Thanksgiving food.

Follow along with my dinner plans on my Google Calender at the bottom of my blog. I'll be posting recipes. Every Wednesday I will post a tip for how to implement more meatless meals into your lifestyle while keeping the flavor and getting the right nutrients. On Saturdays I will review my meals for the week and give a report on how I feel. I'm excited. This should be fun!!

Monday: Broccoli & Cheese Calzones with whole-wheat calzone dough, ricotta, cheddar cheeses.
Tuesday: Mediterranean Minestrone with garbanzo beans and a variety of vegetables, plus whole-wheat pasta
Wednesday: leftovers with baked mozzarella sticks
Thursday: Lentil and mixed vegetable casserole.
Friday: Eat out (We're eating at a temple cafeteria, so we'll see if I they have a meatless option)
Saturday: Nephew's party, we're bringing the vegetable tray. I'll probably bring something to eat since they'll be serving pull pork.

Image from http://karmafreecooking.wordpress.com/topic-index/vegetarianism-as-a-way-to-loose-weight/

Saturday, October 23, 2010

I needed this today.



This has been out there for a while, but in case you haven't seen it, it's great!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Apple Carrot muffins

Or what I like to call: Carrot cake for Breakfast!

If you even remotely like carrot cake, you'll love this recipe! (adapted from allrecipes.com)

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups raisin bran cereal
1 1/4 cups wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cup finely chopped peeled tart apple
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1.In a bowl, combine the first six ingredients. In a small bowl, beat the egg, buttermilk and oil. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Fold in apple, carrots and walnuts. Fill paper-lined muffin cups or cups coated with nonstick cooking spray three-fourths full. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. Serve warm.

My 2 year old loves everything about these, except the walnuts, which you can omit. In a brilliant move, I shredded a bunch a carrots I bought in bulk and froze them. There's my pat on the back for the day! (wink!)

Oh, and if you don't have buttermilk, no worries. 1 cup regular milk + 1 tsp apple cider vinegar is a substitue for a cup of buttermilk. For this recipe I use 3/4 cup milk and almost a tsp of vinegar. Happy baking!!

Homemade Taco Seasoning


I love tacos! Taco salad, taco soup, anything with taco seasoning is just delicious. But I hate store-bought taco seasoning. I haven't found many that don't have MSG, and the seasoning packets can be expensive. Not to mention high in sodium. So I found a recipe from allrecipes and tweaked it a little. It was delicious in my taco salad topping! Hope you enjoy!

Ingredients
4 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoon paprika
6 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

*Image courtesy grubtank.com

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

101 THings to do

Instead of hitting or yelling.

I'm pretty much against hitting, spanking, yelling, or any kind of punitive reaction to my children's behavior. That's not saying I don't ever lose it. I do. I did tonight in fact. This list might have helped me. Maybe it will help you!

I'm not sure if we're having some regression in B.G.'s sleep, or if she's getting sick, but tonight was not good. She's sleeping on my bed right now. I'm going to go join her as soon as I do the dishes.

What do you think of a 2 year old taking a dance class?
Some moms in my neighborhood are trying to get a group together, and I don't want to give in to peer pressure, but I hadn't planned on doing any tot dance classes until my girls are 3 or older. I guess I just feel the importance of having my children near me while they are so young and impressionable. I know DD1 would LOVE going to dance (she loves anything "big kids" do). Maybe we'll just do our own little dance class at home and practice moving our bodies in fun ways. I don't know. Maybe I'm being crazy. But do I really want to start having my kids go all different places for different activities? I guess I have my answer.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sleep training days 3-6

She's sleeping through the night!! Yahoo! I've realized that one key is trying to keep her schedule consistent. She doesn't necessarily nap at the exact same time every day, but she's pretty good at waking up at the same time each day, so that helps!

To summarize, B.G. basically cried 20-30 minutes the last few nights.

On Friday night I brought her to my bed about midnight, but she didn't nurse, and she didn't wake up again to nurse until 6:30! That was pretty awesome!

Last night She cried for less than 20 minutes when I put her down at 9:30 pm. I closed our bedroom door when I went to bed and I briefly woke sometime in the middle of the night when I heard her cry, but I ignored it and went back to sleep. She must not have cried very long. I woke up at 7 AM and she was still in her own bed.

I can't believe it. This little gal, who I thought would be sleeping in my bed until she went to college, is starting to sleep in her own bed. She still isn't thrilled with her bed, but we're getting there! This is great! Now I can start the weaning process!



Oh, and I must mention that last night she decided she wants to use walking as her primary mode of transportation! I also took care of an itchy rash she had a few days ago, and since treating that, life has been much easier!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Real Food for Healthy Kids



At the local library a few weeks ago I came across this book. What a gem! Not only does this book give delicious, healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, but the authors explain strategies to help with picky eaters, how to involve kids in the meal process, and the importance of good nutrition. Each recipe has special tips as well as nutrition information! I heart this book!

Here are some of my favorite recipes:

Kiss of Honey Wheat Biscuits:
2/3 C sour cream
1/3 C milk
3 Tablespoons honey
1 C whole-wheat flour
1 C plain cake flour (I just use regular white flour)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter (I use salted)

Preheat oven to 425 F
Stir in the sour cream, milk, and honey together.
Combine dry ingredients, then add butter and crumble with fingers.
Add sour cream mixture just until mixed.
Flatten into 3/4 inch thick circle and cut out. Place on greased pan and bake 13 minutes.

Good Day Pear Crisp

Half of a ripe Bartlett pear (You can also use plums, apples, peaches, etc)
1 small lemon wedge
1 1/2 Tbsp dark brown sugar
1 Tbsp rolled oats
1/2 Tbsp chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tsp unsalted butter
pinch of cinnamon
1 rounded Tbsp cottage cheese or plain yogurt for serving

preheat oven to 400
halve the pear and core, cut into slices and place in a 6-oz custard cup. Squeeze lemon on top, add the sugar, oats, nuts, butter, and cinnamon, bake 20 minutes until bubbly and golden and the pears are soft.
Let cool 5 minutes before adding cottage cheese. Yum!


Extreme Granola

3/4 C pecans
1/2 cup natural almonds
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 C sesame seeds (optional)
1 stick unsalted butter (8 TBSP)
1/3 C pure maple syrup, cane syrup, or honey at room temp.
1/4 tsp fine salt
3/4 C chopped dates
1/2 C dried blueberries or raisins.

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a large shallow baking sheet w/ foil. Spread pecans & almonds on sheet and roast for 8-10 minutes, until lightly toasted. Transfer the nuts to a board, cool, and chop.
Reduce oven to 300 F. Pour the oats & sesame seeds in a mound on the same baking sheet. Melt the butter in small bowl in microwave, stir in the maple syrup and salt and drizzle on top of oats. Stir well with rubber spatula and then spread out eh oats in even layer.
Bake oats 30 minutes, stirring once w/ spatula halfway through, until oats are lightly colored. Let cool; the mixture will crisp as it cools. Add dates, blueberries, and reserved nuts and toss.

And now, one lucky reader can win a copy of this book! This is not a sponsored giveaway, I just want to promote healthy eating!
(After all, it's my birthday!)
There are four ways to enter:

Entry 1: follow my blog. Leave a comment

Entry 2: Go here and leave your favorite recipe for your kids. (One you use all the time) Come back, leave a comment and include the recipe.

Entry 3 (4 entries): Try one of the recipes I listed, and come back a review it. Leave 4 comments for each recipe you try. If you try a recipe you get 4 extra chances to win!

Entry 4: blog about this giveaway. Come back and leave a message and link to your blog.

Giveaway closes September 23 8 pm MST.



*This is my own giveaway, not sponsored by the authors or publishers of this book.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Sleep training day 2


If it were easy, it wouldn't be hard...*

Wednesday Morning Nap: Soothed B.G. to sleep at 10 AM. She immediately woke up when I put her in her bed (shock!) and screamed. I let her scream 30 minutes, got her, and had her asleep by 10:40. She slept about an hour.


Wednesday Afternoon Nap: It seemed pretty obvious that B.G. needed good quality sleep, and while I want her to get used to her own bed, she sleeps better on mine. So I soothed her to sleep and put her on my bed around 2:30.

Wednesday Night: I knew B.G. needed to go to sleep earlier, but to have some consistency, I didn't put her down hours earlier. I started her bedtime routine by 6:30, and she was showing obvious signs of needing to go to bed by 8:30, so I sang her some songs, she was drowsy, and I put her to bed. Screaming commenced and lasted 50 minutes. She was asleep by 9:30 and slept until 12:30, at which point I brought her to bed.

My Baby Girl is still the happiest, most playful little thing there is. In other words, there has been no sign that she is not handling this well. Which makes me think the Sears' don't know everything. And they might even be wrong about how babies interpret being left to cry it out.

Isn't it funny how many different perspectives there are about how to raise children. On one extreme of the spectrum you have Baby Wise, which works great for many people, but can be dangerous to a baby's health if taken to the extreme. On the other end is Co-sleeping and child-directed parenting (also known as attachment parenting.) Whenever you share what you've decided to do, people come out of the woodwork with horror stories, or telling you "I could never let any baby cry, it's inhumane, you must be a monster." Or if you co-sleep "Heavenly Father knows I could never survive if my baby didn't sleep through the night." Really? Or how about "Why do some parents just 'give in' to their child? I'm the parent, my child does what I say." Yeah, good luck with that when he's a teenager.

What we really need as mothers is support, not judgement. Do we need information? Often. Do we need advice? If we ask for it. Do we need love and understanding? Definitely. This is what I've prayerfully decided to do.
*Sheri Dew

Sleep training day 1


Tuesday Morning nap: I put Baby Girl in her bed a little before 10 am, mostly asleep. She immediately awoke and cried for 30 minutes. After that period, I went and got her, soothed her back to sleep, then put her on my bed. (I decided to follow Dr. Weisbluth, but only for 30 minutes during nap time instead of the hour he suggests.) She then slept for an hour, which is a good nap for her.


Tuesday Afternoon Nap: B.G. fell asleep on the way home from an outing in the stroller, around 2 pm. She slept for more than an hour after I transferred her to my bed.


Tuesday Night: I got home from Yoga (which was awesome, btw) and followed B.G.'s routine strictly. I also made sure she was showing definite signs of being tired (ie rubbing eyes, yawning) and then put her to bed. Awake. I know, I'm brave. She cried for 20 minutes. No, let me amend that: she SCREAMED for 20 minutes. In my mind as I listened to her scream, I imagined her being mad at me. "Throw me any tantrum," I thought. "I can handle a mad baby." What I can't handle a sad baby whose needs aren't being met, so I reminded myself that she had everything she needed, just not what she wanted. After all, Heavenly Father doesn't give us everything we want the minute we yell for it. If he did, we wouldn't be stretched and shaped into the glorious Beings He wants us to be. I put her to bed at 9:20 pm (I'm working on earlier, but like I said, I had Yoga, and DH gave her a bath, so props to him!) and she fell asleep for good at 10 pm. She woke up screaming after 1 AM and I brought her to bed. I'm not sure what I was thinking, but I wasn't ready for hours of middle-of the night screaming.


So, the plan will be the same tonight. I might wait to let her scream in the middle of the night until Friday, when DH can be home for the weekend and we can tag-team naps. At any rate, I count last night as a success because she only nursed 2 times. I nursed her at 8:30 pm, then again at 1 am and again a couple hours later. She didn't nurse this morning until after 9, so weaning should be a cinch once I get her sleeping through the night. I gotta be honest, I'm excited to have my body back. It's been 3 1/2 years straight of pregnancy, nursing or both. Boy, can I use a break. (Don't get me wrong, I LOVE it, but I'm excited to parent without sharing my body quite so fully!)
*The picture is from May. I couldn't find a more recent one of B.G. sleeping. lol.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I am NOT your lovey.


Let me tell you a story.

Once upon a time there was a Sweet, Darling Baby Girl. Her parents cherished her, and were only mildly disappointed that she hated sleeping in her own bed. After all, cuddling was so much fun! Of course, they did everything they could to get her to sleep in her bed from the day she was born (such as making the bed smell like them, putting her to bed almost asleep, having a bedtime routine, etc.) but it was all to no avail. This Dear Child despised her bed. Finally, her exhausted parents decided they could all sleep together in the same bed.

The only problem was that the older Baby Girl got, the MORE she started waking up at night. Yes, the bedtime routine was still in place, and occassionally Mommy would try and put the Darling in her own bed. The result of getting anywhere near the crib was screaming that led to hysterics for both Mommy and Baby Girl. So Mommy tried putting baby in the crib less and less often.

To make matters worse, Baby appeared to have food sensitivities. Mommy noticed that whenever baby ate bananas or corn during the day, she woke up much more during the night. Wanting to nurse. This led to a Mommy whose grumpy level was off the charts.

"Hmmm," thought Mommy. "Maybe I should let her cry it out." She tried this half-heartedly, but always felt like she was traumatizing her baby.

Then she read The Baby Sleep Book by the Sears'. This book propagandized that she was selfish if she didn't give up all her sleep for her baby and led her to believe that letting Baby cry would lead to life-long emotional and learning problems. This fear of causing her baby harm is still deeply embedded in her psyche.

Finally one night Mommy decided she'd had enough. That was the last straw. Baby was now almost 1 and still waking up every 2-3 hours at night screaming until being nursed. Mommy decided that she HAD to start letting baby cry it out.

But then she realized: Baby HATES her bed! How is this going to work? Will the upstairs neighbors hate us? Will it even work? Will my baby become completely unable to regulate her own emotions? Will she resent me? How many nights will I have to endure screaming? Should I try a graduated approach? Is there a medical reason Baby still wakes up, or is it a learned behavior?

Maybe YOU can help Mommy?
*Mommy has also read Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, No Cry Sleep Solution, and Babywise.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Meal plan MONDAY!

Monday: Chicken and Rice (I don't feel like going meatless again!)
Italian Tuesday: Tortellini Primevera
Whatever Wednesday: Taco Soup & cornbread
Thursday: My birthday! In-laws are watching the girls while the Hubby takes me to dinner!
Friday: Grilled Chicken & Zucchini
Saturday: Homemade pizza

Here we go!


Today I embark on the world of couponing. Wish me luck! I'll share next week how I'm getting organized and how it's working for me! I'd love any tips you'd like to share! Do you coupon? How do you keep things organized? Are there websites you've found particularly helpful?

My mom is a Rock Star

This week's bad-mommy rehab assignment is to post something about my mom that shows her awesomeness.

My mom has 9 kids. She gave birth to eight of them with no intervention or pain medication. Need I go on?

Although your jaw is probably gaping in awe, you may not quite understand the implications of my mom's decisions. She always put her kids first. We were always her priority. She went years wearing the same old shoes and jeans because it there was not enough money for her to buy new clothes. And she never once complained. Who knows how many sleepless nights she endured? (And still does endure! I'm the 2nd of the 9, so she still has 5 kids at home ranging from 9 to 19!) My mom taught me that motherhood requires sacrifice. But she also taught me to take time for myself. I remember my mom spent hours a week reading good books. And she went back to college when I was in high school to get her Elementary Education degree. She now teaches 6th grade, has 6 grandchildren, and serves her family and the young women at church. What an awesome woman! I love you mom!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Meal plan MONDAY!

We'll see how this goes:
(Check G-Cal at the bottom for recipes)

Meatless Monday: Blue-ribbon Pancakes & Eggs.

Italian Tuesday: Spaghetti & Meatballs w/ salad & garlic bread

Whatever Wednesday: LEFTOVERS!

Soup & Salad Thursday: Spinach lentil soup & Broccoli Salad

Grillin' Friday: Steaks & potatoes

Saturday: I decided the last Sat. of every month I would clean out my fridge and we'd eat anything that hasn't gone bad!

Super Sunday: Mom & Dad's for a B-day dinner! (Yep, my Birthday is coming up!)

Bad-Mommy Rehab

Hello. My name is Crystal, and I'm a Mommy Guilt-aholic.

When DD1 was born I read to her every day. It's true. I have missed very few days of reading to her over the last 30 months! Then DD2 was born. I hardly ever read books to her. It would seem easy to read to both girls at the same time, but figuring out the whole 2 kids in under 2 years was a bit of a challenge. So I haven't read to DD2 nearly as much as her older sister. But guess what? She still loves books. She'll sit for 30 minutes and look through books, and since her interest has grown, I've gotten much better at reading to her. So take that you "oh no I'm not treating my 2nd kid the same as my 1st" guilt.

Seriously though, has anyone else suffered from guilt over not being able to do it the same way with child #2? Obviously I do some things better, but it's still hard!


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Brita Filter Coupon

Go here for $7 off any filter system and 3-pack of filters.

Food Nanny.


I was watching PBS last weekend and came across THIS show. It's kind of like Super Nanny, except she comes in and helps with meal planning, cooking, dealing with picky eaters, and things like that. She has great ideas, and one that I am going to incorporate to hopefully make meal planning easier is having a theme for each night. She says that this creates something predictable for your family and creates excitement about dinner time. I know that having meals together is so important, so hopefully this will help me and my family.

Here is my plan:

Sunday: crock pot
Monday: Meatless or breakfast for dinner
Tuesday: Try something new/international cuisine
Wednesday: Whatever Wednesday=leftovers!
Thursday: Italian
Friday: Soup & Salad
Saturday: Grilling

I may have to adjust things as I get going. I'm still working on keeping my monthly grocery budget at $250 or less, and I may actually make it this month!

I think I will also plan days to make home-made snacks, like granola, muffins, pita chips, things like that. Or maybe I will do those kind of things on Saturday morning. How do you organize your meal planning and menu?

September craft!

Well, I completed a craft/home-making project in August, and I can't tell you how proud I am of myself. We just moved last month and getting organized is top on my list of priorities!


I love all the space in my new kitchen, although counter space is minimal. I've wanted to get some kind of spice rack that I can mount on my walls. Then yesterday I was at a friend's house and saw something like this.


I fell in love. It's magnetic, isn't that genius?! This is my project for September. I know I can get the little containers at Bed, Bath & Beyond, but my budget is $20 total, so I may have to shop around for cheap containers. I'm excited, so stay tuned to see how my September craft goes. ( I have to wait until then to do it because I'm desperately trying to stick to our budget, and I didn't budget for this in August.)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Curtains







I have been working on these curtains for MONTHS! What a relief to finally finish them. I had planned them to be valances in our old apartment, but they fit perfectly as curtains in DD1's room! Check out the craftiness!

Why we aren't buying a home.

Ever since we finished college, many people who love us (and some who don't) have told us that buying a house is our next step in life. While I know they mean well, I'd like to combat some myths about home-ownership, as well as explain why buying a home isn't right for us just yet.

Myth #1: You buy a house now to get tax credits.
That's kind of like saying "I'll give you $3000 if you give me $10000." (To steal from Dave Ramsey). What we would be paying in interest would never make up for what we would save on our taxes.

Myth #2: Don't waste your money renting!
A little math for you: If you take out a $165,000 loan for a home at 4.75% on a 30 yr fixed mortgage (rates are low now!), your monthly payments would be about $860, and you would pay about $145,000 in interest. Now, let's say we live cheaply and pay $800/mo for rent for 5 years. During that time I would be paying about 45,000 on rent. But I would have been paying $37,000 in interest on a home. If, during that time, I save for a sizable down payment, I will save $$$ later on mortgage insurance and interest.

Rent isn't wasting money! You are exchanging money on a place to live. And you don't have to be responsible for routine maintenence.

Myth #3: You are building equity, which is good.
Really? What if my property value decreases? A home is not an investment, or, at least, it's a risky one. A home is a place to live.

Reason to wait #1: no money!
We want to have a large down payment. Like 100%. That may be unattainable (imagine saving $1000/month for 15 years!), but we will have at least 20% down before we buy a home, so that we won't have to pay mortgage insurance. We want to own at least a little bit of our home when we buy it. If we do finance our home, we'd like to do it with a 15 year mortgage.
We also have a student loan that takes a few hundred a month away from our income!

Reason to wait #2: Uncertainty
We are not sure where the next 2-5 years of our lives will take us. With this economy, who knows how secure anyone's job is? The last thing we want to do is buy a house and then be stuck with it should we move/lose a job! It just isn't the right time for us.

Reason to wait #3: No crappy house for us
Why would we rush such an important decision? When we DO buy a house, and we will, we want it to be a home we enjoy. A place we want to stay. And we don't want to fix stuff up!

Reason #4 to wait: We're not worried.
Interest rates are incredibly low right now. (But banks are not really lending either!) Home prices are also dropping. Who knows, the prices may double by the time we look into buying. But oh well. If it's not right, it's not right!

Buying a home is a great opportunity, and for those of you who have already done so, that is great. We can't wait to buy a home, but there are reasons why we aren't even looking into it yet...

Things to cook Tuesday

Here is a recipe I can't wait to try, courtesy one of my favorite cooking blogs, Our Best Bites:

Sweet and Spicy Cucumber Slices

1-1/2 lbs cucumber (about 3 medium), peeled, halved lengthwise & thinly sliced
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c rice vinegar, seasoned or regular
1/2 c water
3 Tbs sugar*
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbs minced red onion

Place cucumber slices in a colander sitting over a bowl, sprinkle with salt and toss well. Let sit for 1 hour refrigerated. It doesn't hurt to toss the cukes a few times while they drain as well. While cucumber slices are draining, prepare marinade below.

Combine vinegar, water, sugar and red pepper in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cook until reduced to a 1/3 cup (about 10 minutes). If for some reason you boil for too long, just add a little water until you have 1/3 C. Remove reduction from heat and add onion. Let mixture cool to room temp.

When cucumbers are done resting, combine with the vinegar reduction. This can be served immediately, but for best results refrigerate until well chilled.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pink Nothings Giveaway

Pink Nothings is having a give-away for a great high chair! Check it out!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Confidence in Youth

Sometimes it can be discouraging to think of all the things our children will face. How will they come out on top? How can I possibly teach these little people all they need to know to successfully overcome temptation? Then I read things like this:

Of all the help we can give these young people, the greatest will be to let them feel our confidence that they are on the path home to God and that they can make it. And we do that best by going with them. Because the path is steep and sometimes rocky, they will at times feel discouraged and even stumble. They may at times become confused about their destination and wander after less eternally important goals. These inspired [youth] programs make that less likely because they will lead the young person to invite and receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The best counsel for us to give young people is that they can arrive back to Heavenly Father only as they are guided and corrected by the Spirit of God. So if we are wise, we will encourage, praise, and exemplify everything which invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When they share with us what they are doing and feeling, we must ourselves have qualified for the Spirit. Then they will feel in our praise and our smiles the approval of God. And should we feel the need to give corrective counsel, they will feel our love and the love of God in it, not rebuke and rejection, which can permit Satan to lead them further away.


...and I know it will be ok.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day gifts

I just made these.



It was very easy. Here are the steps. I apologize for not taking pics of each step, but like I said, it was EASY!

1. Go to Home Depot and get a 2X6 piece of wood. Have them cut it into 6 inch pieces.
2. Get scrapbook paper, paint, sandpaper, ribbon.
3. Sand and paint your wood.
4. Print out what you want to have on the wood.
5. Glue paper on to wood using Mod Podge.
6. Add embellishments. These flowers are SUPER easy! Cut out circular shapes from coordinating scrabook paper (4 circles of different sizes.) Use an ink pad or marker to darken the edges of the circle. Crinkle, layer, and stick together with a fastener.
7. Add ribbon.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to add variety to this project. And they cost less than $2 each, and take about an hour. Well, it took me about 6 hours to make 8!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Short 'n Sweet Bowtique

Check out this blog. An old childhood friend, who is amazingly creative, started this blog. Her husband is in med school and she has a darling little girl! If you're looking for cute bows for your little girl/niece/sister/cousin/etc, this is a great place to look!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Choices...

You know that point in your day as a mother of young children when you can either curl up in a ball and cry, or eat an exhorbitant amount of chocolate? Been there. Done that. I go for the chocolate (almost) every time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On sleep

Have you ever googled "Cry It out?" It's interesting. I did so today, hoping to find some solution to my 7 month old's sleep problems. OK, I should mention she is a happy baby who has been sick a lot the last month. She used to sleep 4-6 hours straight consistently, and now she never sleeps more than 2 hours straight at night...I'm am BEYOND exhausted!

Back to the point: Cry it out. With DD1, we finally let her cry it out at 9 months. It took 3 nights of crying for several hours. After that, she mostly slept through the night. She is a wonderful sleeper now, but even 6 months ago she would often wake up at 4 am wanting to watch a movie and freaking out at me when I said no. I don't really like letting my babies cry.

Therefore, I googled "cry it out" hoping for someone to tell me that it won't traumatize my baby. That's not what I found. The first 5 hits were sites that put forth reasons NOT to let your baby cry. Then I stumbled across this site and found this:

Begin today by contemplating these questions:

•Am I content with the way things are, or am I becoming resentful, angry, or frustrated?
•Is my baby’s nighttime routine negatively affecting my marriage, my job, or my relationships with my other children?
•Is my baby happy, healthy, and seemingly well rested?
•Am I happy, healthy, and well rested?
•What is a reasonable expectation for my baby at his/her age?
•What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “acceptable”?
•What naptime and bedtime situation would I consider “pure bliss”?
•Why do I want to change my baby’s sleep patterns? Is it truly what’s best for me and my baby, or am I doing this to meet someone else’s expectations?
•Am I willing to be patient and make a gradual, gentle change for my baby if that means no crying?
Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of not only what is happening with regard to your baby’s sleep, but what approach you will feel most comfortable using to help your baby sleep better.


I guess we'll deal with lack of sleep for a little while longer. In the meantime, here is what EVERY sleep book has in common (from Babywise to No Cry Sleep Solutions)

1. Have a consistent bedtime routine. (Done. Hasn't worked)
2. Put your baby down awake but drowsy. (How do I do this? She's either awake and crying because she's ready for sleep, or asleep. I guess we'll work on this one.)

That's it for common motifs in sleep books, but a couple of other things I intend to try are:
1. Observing my baby closely for any signs of sleepiness and putting her in bed RIGHT then.
2. Comforting her when she cries, but not bringing her to bed with me anymore.
3. Giving her simethicone drops (gas relief, she often wakes up crying, and then releases lots of gas 30 minutes later and goes back to sleep. I don't know why she's so gassy.)
4. Going to bed at night as soon as she does. That's the only way I'm going to get more sleep at this point.
5. Keep a perspective...someday she'll be a good sleeper like her big sister.
6. Ignore all those people that are incredulous that my baby doesn't sleep and think it must be because I'm "caving in" or am not a good mom. I am a good mom.