Friday, February 25, 2011

Friday Food-day: Two Quick Cheats

Eric and I were on an soccer team together at an FCA retreat in college. Our motto, which we shouted loudly and frequently, was "You've got to CHEAT to win!" The catchy little line was followed by an even catchier (dorkier???) clapping rhythm. College, now those were the days...

Anyway, I do believe in cheating occasionally, and snacks, treats, and convenience foods can be areas that see a lot of "cheating" if you're trying to stick to a real food, nourishing diet. So, based on last weekend's snack cravings, here are two of my winning cheats.

1. Hot cocoa made with coconut milk. I found this great, basically healthy, cocoa mix recipe here. BUT at our house last weekend, we had Swiss Miss in the big blue container on hand. So, in order to improve the value some, I heated up 1 part canned coconut milk and one part organic whole milk. We dumped in a few heaping teaspoons of cocoa mix and voila! The resulting cocoa was really rich, creamy, with a delicious hint of coconut. It was also loaded with beneficial medium chain fatty acids found in coconut products. Score!

2. Cheesy popcorn made with nutritional yeast. I think our usual popcorn recipe is nutritionally satisfactory and delicious, but with "cheesy popcorn" I faked the girls out while simultaneously maximizing the health benefits. If you're not familiar with nutritional yeast, it comes in a few different forms (we have a powder) and has a definite cheesy, slightly nutty flavor. Esther will eat it mixed into just about anything, but the older girls are sometimes a bit suspicious. Nutritional yeast packs a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals including a high level of B vitamins and protein. To make my popcorn, I use organic, non-GMO, yellow corn popped in a bit of olive oil or coconut oil, drizzled with melted butter. This time, I also generously sprinkled one big bowl of popcorn with about 3 T. of nutritional yeast. The girls loved munching it as they watched The Swan Princess, and I loved the added B vitamins and protein. Double score!

Now, I know I'm not the only cheater out there... if you have any other tips, I'd love to hear your comments on how you "cheat to win" (including an audio clip of your hokey hand clap is optional...).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Slip Sliding Away

(yes, that's Esther flying down the shoot)

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Giveaways Galore

There are tons of great giveaways at Saving Naturally this week. Of course I love free things, and one item, the Berkley water filter, is something that I've had on my wish list for a long time! So, I am shamelessly blogging about these giveaways in order to get more entries for the contest. Yes, I know my odds are low. I am hopeful nonetheless!

If it is Saturday afternoon in your hemisphere, and you are avoiding cleaning up your kitchen -or- If you like free things (who doesn't?!?), and you especially appreciate products that help you lead a more natural lifestyle, check out these giveaways:

Berkey Light Water Filtration System

Living Clay Cleansing Package

Graham Gardens Wholesome Baby Skin Care + Gift Certificate

Naturopathic Home Medicine Kit

The end.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Esther Update

Esther definitely gets the least amount of press on this blog of anyone in our family. Here's an attempt at turning that around!

These days (these last few months...), Esther has been stuck between babyland and toddlerhood. She just can't seem to make up her mind which direction she should go, and eventually, the inevitable will befall her. I suspect that her personal self-image is utterly baby, although by virtue of intelligent design she is slowly maturing into a toddler.

On the baby side of things, she enjoys two long naps each day and an early bedtime of 7:15 or so. She still refuses to walk, crawls, and often demands to be carried to wherever she wants to go. She loves to be held, especially when I need to get something done :).

Meanwhile, over in toddlerland, she has been eating anything and everything since about 7 months. She self-weaned at 13 months (much earlier than the older girls) with absolutely no fanfare. She loves to read books, and at 16 months has quite a bit to say. It all starts with her favorite word, "Gak." For every 10 times she points at something and says, "Gak", she throws in some of her other favorites:

Hup (Hope)
Ayra (Eva)
Uh oh
Nah (No)
Yaw (yes)
Grnma (Grandma)
Die die (Bye bye)
Au Dai (All done)

She also signs "more", "all done" and "please".

Esther is passionately embracing the "dump and fill" stage, and wanders from room to room on her hands and knees looking for anything and everything to dump or unload. She even loves to clean up after herself, as long as someone comes along and happily announces "Time to clean up!" At that signal, the girl can quite rapidly undo almost any mess she has created. As long as there are pieces to be put in a container, that is.

Esther loves to LAUGH loudly and squeal with her sisters. She really likes to charm the masses, and is extremely curious about anything her sisters are doing. Generally (when she doesn't have some seasonal virus), she is loads of fun and full of smiles. We all completely adore her!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

We're having fun celebrating Valentine's Day (aka: Binge on Sweets in the Name of Love Day) around here! We've been busy with a variety of preparations over the past week. Here's a little sampling of what we've been up to...
The girls worked on "Valentine Dots" on Saturday afternoon. A perfect kid project, with almost no help from Mom!Then Eva painstakingly divided them all into 9 piles to be bagged up for special friends at church. The glue stick and bingo dopper in the background are evidence of the heart cards she made later on.
We've made about a gillion other Valentine cards and pictures, but no photos of those.

Valentine's Day breakfast. A few little trinkets, special heart shaped cakes (don't tell my conscience that I someone named Little Debbie made those), and pink milk (again, no one needs to know that I may or may not have contaminated our organic raw milk with a drop of red food coloring). We also had soaked oatmeal :).
I brought Hope to the table still half asleep, so she opened her eyes to our candlelit breakfast. We all had fun watching her take in the little celebration with childlike wonder, breathing out "Oh my, oh my." There is nothing better than seeing through the eyes of a child.

(Extra credit will be awarded to any commenter who can guess what the last occasion was that I used those candle holders. I'll give you a hint: it was in the summer.)

At preschool last week, Hope had a special Valentine's party, and at school today Eva will be exchanging Fun Dip for all kinds of Valentine's goodies too. Life is good. Really good.

When the mail came, Hope opened a card from Grandma Patenaude with a dollar for each of the girls in it. Eva will have to see hers when she comes home from school, but for now, Hope is celebrating enough for the two of them. "My OWN dollar! My OWN dollar! Now I can buy an American Girl doll!" Dear three year old, more likely something from the dollar spot at Target, which will probably be just as awesome. Thanks Grandma!
Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. Squeeze the ones you love today!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Theology 101

I've been away from the blog for over a month. And what a month it has been! I have many posts rattling around in my head, begging for an outlet, so hopefully someday soon I'll free my fingers and take back my brain. For now, just a quick snippet about dinnertime tonight.

For the last few months we have been using a great resource, Long Story Short, for family devotions after dinner. Our church generously purchased a copy for each family in our church, and what a gift (!), as it is the perfect fit for our kids. The lessons are short, simple, and Biblically grounded. A testimony to the uniqueness of male leadership, the girls love, love, love to share this special time with Dad way more than they enjoy their teaching times with Mom.

Tonight, Eric opened by asking for a show of hands, "Raise your hand if you have ever in your life disobeyed..." Of course, the hands shot up (even little Esther appropriately thought hand raising was cool and required). The following conversation was about how Satan lied to Eve in the Garden of Eden, convincing her to disobey God and promising that it would have positive consequences. It was good.

Eva's observations afterward were fascinating. Our resident kindergartner hasn't wasted any time getting to the big questions. First she said, "If I saw a snake in a tree, I would probably go a little closer to see it better." Then after some consideration, "But if it TALKED to me, I would stay far away. Because that would be Satan." Then the million dollar question, "Why did God create Satan if He knew Satan would tempt us to sin?"

And though we've hardly just begun, we've already shut the book on Theology 101. Up next week: The total depravity of man, the freedom of the will, and original sin. Buckle your seat belts Mom and Dad, the kids have some questions!

***In the interest of total disclosure and keepin' it real, if you are like me, you might read this post and think, "Great, another family who is doing devotions and having provocative and gratifying dinnertime conversations." Then you might compare yourself to those (imaginary) families and beat yourself up for your (perceived) lack of familial accomplishment. Let's just be straight here and remember that ANY grace, even somewhat regular family devotions, is GOD'S grace. We don't claim any credit, and I know that God's grace is available to all who seek it. Amen. :) ***