Teaching brothers and sisters to get along

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Some days are like this
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Battle lines are drawn
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Feelings are hurt and anger triumphs
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No,  my children are not perfect. They do not always get along, although if I was honest, I have to humbly admit that it’s not often that they fight. Generally they love each other and find joy in each others company. People comment on this often enough. After one recent remark I began to reflect on why they get along so well.  I don’t have any amazing revelations  but here is what I think has worked for us.

1. We homeschool. They have no other choice but to be each other’s best friends.

2. We don’t allow our children to tease each other in demeaning ways.

3. We practice a “family first” mentality.

4. We encourage them when they show kindness and love to each other.

5. When we are out in public or with friends and see kids who are treating their siblings unkindly we will often discuss how it probably made the other sibling feel.

6. No exclusions: Even when friends are over, we don’t allow our children to exclude each other, with the exception of when someone isn’t playing fairly or if there are gender specific activities going on.

7. We teach them to respect each other. If someone is doing something annoying (which is inevitable in a house full of kids) and it is bothering someone else we talk about respecting their feelings and personal space. We talk about respecting each others bodies like in the case of rough housing. This isn’t to say we don’t allow that kind of play, we just monitor it. If someone says “stop” we talk about respecting that word.

8. Time apart. We all need some time away every now and then. We often let our children visit friends or have special days alone with grandparents- And they LOVE it. Sometimes this is really helpful because it provides a different dynamic for the kids left behind, who then seem to find a new love for each other.

9. We don’t mediate. Ok we do on occasion have to step in and diffuse the situation, but as much as possible we try to stay out of the conflict and let them try and resolve it themselves. As is the case with the above situation. I actually have no idea what that fight was about. I just happened upon the signs and thought it was funny enough to send the pictures to my husband at work. 

10. We don’t allow tattling. Our rule is, unless someone is hurt or about to be hurt we generally don’t need to know about it.

Of course even with all that we do and try to do, we still can have some really rough days. There is no perfect algorithm for parenting. Everything is trial and error. Even with the best intentions there are still days when our kids just don’t like each other. And that’s okay too. There is always tomorrow.

 What challenges/joys have you found among your children’s relationships?

Finding myself at a loss for words

I’m finding myself at a loss for words

And the funny thing is it’s okay

The last thing I need is to be heard

But to hear what you would say

This Mercy Me song has been the anthem of my life, or I should say my blog, for the last month or so. Every time I sat down to write or share something, I felt at a loss. Not that I didn’t have anything to say, if you know me- then you know that can’t be true.  :)

But I felt the need for quiet.

Some areas of my life can be too loud.

Too much of “look at me.”

I needed to take some time to hear what the Lord was asking of me in my online life as well as my personal one.

 A funny thing happens when we quit talking…

We start to listen and really hear what God is saying.

Also I have just struggled with what I’m actually doing here with my little corner of online real estate.  I felt like I was writing with a purpose that really didn’t reflect my heart and I wanted to stop and reflect on that for a little while. So if you have wondered where I have been- that’s it. If it hadn’t even occurred to you- well then, I will just remind myself again… life isn’t all about me. Even in times when I really, really want it to be. :)

Take a few minutes and check out the complete Mercy Me song. Or play it as you finish up a chore or have a snack. You will be blessed.

Vegetable Beef Soup

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This soup is by far one of my favorite. It’s comfort food at it’s best. I hope your family enjoys it as much as ours does. Serve it with some fresh bread to complete the meal.

Vegetable Beef Soup

Ingredients

  • 1lb ground beef
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup sliced celery
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 16oz diced tomatoes
  • 15oz tomato sauce
  • 15oz red kidney beans
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 cups water
  • 5 teaspoons beef bouillon granules (could use beef broth)
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 cup elbow macaroni

Note

This is really a anything goes kind of soup. If I happen to have a bag or can of frozen mixed vegetables I will add a cup to the pot. We also throw in some shredded cabbage if we have it on hand and top with parmesan cheese.

Directions

Step 1
Brown beef in large pot; drain.
Step 2
Add all the ingredients except green beans and macaroni.
Step 3
Bring to a boil, lower heat; cover and simmer 20 minutes
Step 4
Add macaroni and green beans, bring to boil and simmer until all vegetables are tender.

The “Spices” of life

Healing spices

We wrap up our 6 week series talking about Spices and how to use them to aid in prevention and healing.

Spices have been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. With the introduction to modern medicine we have stopped relying on them as much, and we now refer to anything outside of doctor prescribed medicine as “alternative”. Thankfully there has recently been a revival of “old” medicine and people are making their way back to the basics.

Adding spices into your diet is just another way to promote good health, while expanding your taste buds. I have a good friend who makes it a point to buy a new and different spice every time she visits the grocery store. I love her adventuresome spirit!

Spice chart

As you can see the benefits of spices are numerous. Just think about how much healthier we would all be if we took a few habits from each part of this series and incorporated them into our lives.

If you missed any of our series catch up here!

Week 1: Oils demystified
Week 2: Great Sugar Alternatives
Week 3: Not so weird super foods
Week 4: Grains and flours

Week 5: What’s with food additives? And which ones to avoid.

What changes have you made in your diet lately?

My Marriage Isn’t What It Used To Be

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Do you remember your wedding day? Of course you do. Hopefully it is filled with wonderful memories that you still smile about today. What about that first year of marriage? Or the years after? For me those days get a half smirk. We had sweet memories for sure, but they were also years filled with pride, immaturity, and selfishness. We both made poor choices and have big regrets.

Recently I posted this on Facebook.

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Strep has run it’s damaging course in our house this past week. For some strep is just a minor annoyance- a sore throat, maybe a headache or stomach ache. But for us it’s akin to the flu. We are literally out of commission for several days. My heart swells with love for this man that so selflessly loves and cares for us.

The years have grown us. Children have changed us. The Lord has moved in our hearts. We are telling our full story today over at Sweet Tea, Sunshine & Serendipity Go check it out. I bet you will be surprised by what you didn’t know. ;)

Do you have a memory from the early part of your marriage that you like to tell?

 

5 reasons why Bible time with your children shouldn’t be missed

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Even if you aren’t a homeschooler reading the Bible should be a part of your daily routine with your kids. I used to try and make this time happen before school started while we were eating breakfast, but when baby number four entered the picture our breakfast routine went out the window- and has yet to be reestablished. Now our Bible time happens during lunch, but really the time of day doesn’t matter.

5 reasons why Bible time with your children shouldn’t be missed.

1. If your family is regular church attenders then your children have probably heard a lot of bible stories, but do they really understand the who, what, where, and most importantly why? We are reading through the Old Testament and I can’t tell you how many times I have heard my children exclaim “Oh, that’s who that is” or “I always wondered what that meant” or “I didn’t remember that.” Reading it together allows you to clarify or retell in your own words. Or even better~ let them retell it in theirs.

2. It opens their eyes to other cultures and rich history. There have been many discussions about why we don’t do things the same way they did in biblical times. We have talked about clothing, food, money, homes, different religions, there are so many topics to uncover.

3. You will increase their vocabulary…and yours too! We have come across many words that we haven’t known the meaning to. It’s a perfect opportunity to practice those dictionary skills or if you are a bit less “homeschooly” like me you just ask Google on your smart phone.

4. Gives you the opportunity to discuss those hard topics. {Like sex} So when you read Genesis 16: 4 “He slept with Hagar, and she conceived” {You get a twofur with this one} You have the opportunity to discuss what “conceived” means and then you get the privilege of explaining how sleeping gets you a baby. ~so ummm it’s like, ummm, err, well… you see…

5. It’s a more natural way to work on character building traits. Pride, Greed, slothfulness, truthfulness, etc. When you come across stories that these things are exemplified, you can point them out to your children and discuss them. The story of Samson and Delilah becomes more than just a story about a strong man who wouldn’t cut his hair.

*Bonus

6. Your children will see that the Bible is important to you, and relevant to today, if you’re excited about opening God’s word to discover something new, they will be too.  Those times you spend together will be the time they will remember for years to come. Missing Bible time around here is always followed by disappointment. ~Really.

Do you have a special time set aside in your family to do devotions or other family traditions?

 

 

Harmful food additives

Healthy Alternative wk5

If you need to catch up with the rest of the series do that here

I don’t believe any of us intentionally choose foods that are not helpful to our overall well being, sometimes we buy out of habit or because we don’t know any good alternatives. If you fall into one of those categories I hope to help you with that in future posts.

This list below is  by no means exhaustive and I would encourage you to do your own research.

Additives linked to cancer in rats or known carcinogens:

Caramel Coloring- This is found in soft drinks, sauces, breads and pastries. The problem with this ingredient is on it’s own it’s not unsafe but it’s a common practice to produce it with ammonia.

worcestershire worse-sauce

Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)-  These are Petroleum-derived antioxidants and preservatives. These additives are completely unnecessary in the products that you eat and could easily be replaced with vitamin E.  Look for these ingredients in chewing gums and breakfast cereals.

Artificial colors and flavors- Not only  have they been found to increase tumor development in lab rats, and some studies suggest hyperactivity in children, they are also most exclusively found in high processed foods and candy. It’s best to avoid them altogether.

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Additives linked to other various health concerns:

Azodicarbonamide- This is a synthetic dough conditioner. This chemical is also used in the production of Industrial foam plastic and other petroleum based products, and has been outlawed in Europe and Australia. It has been known to trigger asthma symptoms.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)- I avoid this additive as much as possible. MSG is a flavor enhancer found in many processed foods like Hamburger helper, salad dressings, chips and Chinese foods and sauces to name a few. This additive has been known to cause nausea, headaches, chest pains, and weakness.

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Olestra- This additive is found in fat substitute products. It’s calorie free, and passes through the body undigested. In doing so, it takes important fat soluble vitamins with it. It has been known to cause diarrhea, bloating, and anal leakage.

Sadly this list could get quite lengthy, I chose some of the most common ones, here is a great resource if you are looking for a quick reference guide to food additives.

Bottom line- Try and eat your foods as close to natural as possible.

Have you made any changes to your diet/food pantry lately?

 

 

 

The Fault in our Stars ~ A Review

“Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.” 
~ The fault in our Stars

I’m not sure I have the same feelings about this novel that the quote suggests but I did enjoy it. I laughed a lot, I cried a little. It was an emotional roller coaster in the good kind of way.

Amazon’s description:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

This book throws you into the often unseen behind the scenes world of cancer. I will never look at another person with a terminal disease the same. The trials, the stigmas, the fears…For this reason I’m thankful.  It is a sweet love story of unselfish love between two teens dealing with bigger than life issues, a story you won’t soon forget. John Green wrote a novel that was incredibly well written in beautiful language that keeps you wanting more.

Those were the highlights for me.

Would I recommend you read it? Man I don’t know. Here’s why. I was disappointed to find that this was a novel written for teens. On that principal alone I have to shake my head no. (side note: I tend to have more conservative views- but if you read this blog, you already know that. Ha!)  Having said that, there was some language throughout and a sexual encounter.  The main character also holds to a very definite view that there is no God which is an underlying theme throughout the book.

This novel is definitely outside of my usual reading of Christian fiction. I appreciated that it stretched me, and opened my eyes to a struggle that was not my own. In the end I think I was better for it, and maybe you will be too.

There is a movie about the book being released June 6th this year.

 I’m working my way through my 2014 reading list. My one and only New Year’s Resolution! How are you doing with your resolutions so far?

Grains and Flours

grains and flours

If you missed the first few weeks of this series, catch up here.

A few years ago I sat in a class and learned that the bread I was eating and feeding my family was lacking any real nutrition.

Although we had been buying whole wheat bread, which was a better alternative to plain white bread, it still wasn’t offering the kind of nutritional benefits that I was looking for as I was beginning this journey to a healthier lifestyle.

If you are still eating white bread- I want to share a few truths with you.

The flour that is used in white bread is…white flour. White flour works the same way as white sugar in your body. When white bread is being produced, twenty six essential nutrients as well as the bran have been removed from wheat so that you can have that pretty white flour. They do return four of those nutrients in a chemical form to produce “enriched” flour.

And you know when you buy that 2 pound bag of bleached flour, they are very honest in their labeling. It does say bleached, for a reason.

Ok enough about that.

The benefits of fresh whole wheat flour and fresh bread lead us to purchase a grain mill. You can see that in action here.  But don’t worry This isn’t actually a post on milling your own grain, I know that there aren’t many people out there as crazy as me to actually consider it. – Being this kind of crazy does give my friends a good story to tell though.

whole wheat bread loaf

So lets say you have already made the jump from white to whole wheat flour and your ready to experiment with a few other grains. I want to get you started with a few good ones.

Spelt:  Spelt is an ancient grain.  It is rich in essential fatty acids and higher in fiber than wheat. Spelt is a high energy food due to its higher fat and protein content than wheat, it is easily digested and has a nutty flavor and aroma.

Oats: Oats are rich in calcium, phosphorus and iron.  Oats provide high energy, containing one of the highest amounts of grain protein and fat. The higher fat content gives you a sense of fullness when eating them and therefore makes a great breakfast food. Oat flour can be made by placing rolled oats in a blender and blending until it looks like flour. It can then be used to make cookies, pie crusts and many other baked goods.

Quinoa: I talked about the wonderful benefits of quinoa here, but it’s a grain that we don’t want to leave out. This grain can easily replace rice as a side dish.

Brown Rice: Just like white bread, white rice isn’t doing you any favors. You can easily replace any recipe that calls for white rice with brown rice. Throw it in casseroles and soups for an added boost of healthy complex carbohydrates. Brown rice can be ground into rice flour and when mixed with another kind of flour can give you good results.

Kamut: I personally don’t love the taste of kamut but many people do and I would encourage you to try it. (how is that for an endorsement)  It does have a much higher protein content than wheat and boast of being higher in magnesium and zinc, and up to 65% higher in amino acids. If you have a wheat allergy then this is a great alternative. It also makes for a lighter fluffier bread than regular whole wheat bread.

So now you have a few new grains to try, what are you going to do with them?

*Well all of these grains can be ground into flour. If you have a grain mill this is easy, but if not you can also use a high powered blender like a Vitamix or Ninja, (make sure you check to see if yours can do this before trying) You can use that flour to make anything that you would traditionally make with white flour with just a few adjustments.

*You can also cook your grains on the stovetop, It only takes a quick search on Pinterest to find yummy recipes for each of these power grains.

*If you are feeling super crunchy then sprout them and use them in salads, smoothies or just on their own.

Do you have a hard time getting your family to try new things?

 

 

Sparkly Green Earrings- A Review

 

I’m working my way through my 2014 book list which you can read about here, or just take a peak at over on the sidebar.

I recently finished Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn
which was recommended by this sweet new mommy. Which was completely fitting because this short memoir is all about the ups and downs of motherhood. Written by Melanie Shankle the author of TheBigMamaBlog.com, this is a fun easy read that captures all those real moments of motherhood with honesty and humor.

If you never plan on venturing down the road to motherhood, than this is probably not the book for you. But if you have walked through your first pregnancy or dealt with mommy politics in any manner you will find yourself nodding along in agreement with each page in this book. I literally laughed out loud over the crazy stories that were too wild to not be true, recalling my own as I went along.

Melanie writes in a way that makes you certain that by the end of the book the two of you could be best friends. If you are looking for all the answers to raising your children then you best keep looking because as becomes evident throughout the book she is still digging out of the trenches just like the rest of us.

What have you been reading lately? Magazines, and cereal box labels count ;)