September 2009


 This bread is perfect with anything.  I have made french toast, grilled cheese, PB & J, eggs benedict, buttered it, and even made rolls.  It is just a delicious all-purpose bread, and the flax seed, whole grains, and other ingredients makes it a bit healthier than most. 

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All-Purpose Honey Wheat Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups hot water, whey, milk, or buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp Lecithin (aka Dough enhancer) (NOT needed for freshly milled flour)
  • 4 cups freshly milled hard wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled grains (I use mixed 9-grain)
  • 1/2 cup flax seed, ground in a blender
  • 1 Tbs yeast
  • extra flour for kneading and rolling

Combine water, oil, honey, salt, and egg, and mix well.  Add lecithin (if applicable), half of flour, grains, and flax seed, and mix thoroughly.  Add yeast and all but 1/2 cup of remaining flour to make a soft dough. Knead mixture until smooth and elastic–about 5-6 minutes.  Cover with a towel and let rise about 45 minutes, or until double in size.  Punch down, and knead for about 5 minutes.  Cover and let rise about 45 minutes, or until double in size.  Punch down.  Use remaining flour as needed to flour a kneading surface and shape the dough.  If desired, divide dough in half for 2 smaller loaves before shaping. Put shaped loaves into greased loaf pans, and let rise about 30 minutes, or until about double.  If cracks or stretched areas begin to appear, punch down and repeat last step.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (2 small loaves) to 45 minutes (large loaf), or until golden on top. Remove from oven and cool in pan 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool on rack until room temperature.

Notes:  Although I have done it by hand, I now use a stand mixer with a dough hook to knead for the specified kneading time, let it rise in mixing bowl, knead again with dough hook, let rise in mixing bowl, then punch down and scrape dough out of bowl.  Note that the dough will likely be somewhat sticky in the beginning stages, as it is freshly milled flour. This recipe is very easy to double or triple.  It can be hard work, but it is oh, so worth it in the end!

We have celebrated two birthdays this month–S and JR’s.

So far, we haven’t made a big deal of birthdays, with the exception of a surprise party for S a few years ago.  There are a number of reasons, but I have to admit, not having to worry about party preparations certainly makes things easier on me.  We have tended toward relaxing, family dinners followed by cake and presents. I let the birthday person choose their favorite meal for dinner, and they choose the type of cake I bake.

For S’s birthday, I got the kids to hand-make cards for him.  Even A participated in the card-making, and all 3 woke Daddy on the morning of his birthday and gave him their cards. It was so precious!

Making birthday cards

Making birthday cards

S wasn’t too picky about the main course, but, as usual, he chose his favorite…Cheesecake for desert!

Homemade cheesecake with Strawberry sauce

Homemade cheesecake with Strawberry sauce

JR was a bit more particular.  About 4 hours before dinner, he informed me he wanted his favorite meal of shrimp and broccoli casserole for dinner.  Of all the food I had in the house, I did not have the ingredients for that.  So we made a run to the store, and had a yummy supper.  Then, we had a much anticipated German-chocolate cake for desert.

Homemade German Chocolate cake.....yummy!

Homemade German Chocolate cake.....yummy!

There was a little problem when JR tried to blow out his candles.  The candles kept flaming back up! He could not get them out!  Turns out, I accidently bought trick re-lighting candles. Oh well. It was good for a bit of unexpected excitement.

Trying to blow out candles

Trying to blow out candles

Everyone in the cake immensely…even A, who forgot any desire for tidyness and went to town!

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Then it was time for presents. He got an assortment of items, including a few things he had been asking for like bubbles and glow-in-dark-stars for his bedroom.  He spent the next 2 hours playing with the bubbles and arranging the stars on his ceiling (with a little help from daddy and M).

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One gift will likely soon become a favorite of everyone’s….an Ant Farm.  Grandma mailed this gift, and I sent in the little certificate for our ants almost a week ago.  Now it is all set up and just waiting for its new occupants to move in. Hopefully they will arrive soon. The kids will get to witness the amazing world of the ant, up close and personal.  I have to admit, I am a little excited about this one!

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Oh, another year. Finally, we have celebrated all immediate-family birthdays for the year.  We will start the cycle again in January, when N turns 1.

We are truly blessed to have had these years together, and each birthday is truly an occasion to celebrate the life that God has given to each of us, as well as the fact that He has blessed us with each other.  We look forward to many more!

We have started having smoothies on a regular basis.  They can be low carb, so filling, and just loaded with good, healthy things for your body–especially if you use all organic ingredients.  In my attempt to reduce my carb and sugar intake, and cut costs, this recipe is now my daily breakfast.  In addition, we have a “family breakfast smoothie” about one day a week, “desert smoothies” once or twice a week, and “snack smoothies” about once a week.  Sometimes we have a smoothie just because we want one.  They are just so incredibly delicious and incredibly healthy!

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Organic Fruit and Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen fruit or fruit blend
  • 1 banana (optional)
  • 1/3 cup raw milk
  • 1 egg yolk, raw
  • 1 Tbs. whey
  • 2 Tbs. flax seed
  • 1 Tbs. honey OR several drops of Stevia liquid concentrate (I prefer the Stevia to cut carbs)

Combine all ingredients in blender, and blend away!  Enjoy immediately.

NOTES:  If you need to use fresh fruit, add several cubes of ice to the blender to give it the extra cold, smoothie texture.  The great thing about this recipe is that you can play around with amounts of ingredients and types of fruits until you find what you like!

Continued….(Click here to begin at Part 1)

 I want to mention that there is another, critically important, part in training our children. That is discipleship of our children.  This, however, is a very deep subject, and it is an area in which I am still trying to learn and improve.  This may include sheltering our children from secular ways; sheltering from things that are counteracting our teachings.  There are many other resources available regarding discipleship and sheltering of our children’s hearts, and I encourage you to make use of them.  Educate yourself about all areas of child-rearing, using the Bible as the firm foundation by which all things are measured for truth.  

 Raising and training children is no easy task.  In fact, it will likely be the most intensive, most difficult thing you ever do.  You must continually evaluate your own attitude and training methods through introspection, Bible reading, and prayer.  This step alone can be a painful “pruning” process.  You must also continually evaluate the attitudes and behaviors of your children.  It is very easy to get your home running smoothly, and then fall into the trap of laziness.  This is a trap I find myself falling into far too often.  I get lazy about checking the childrens’ chores, enforcing rules, or even sticking to our schedule.  Yet, it never fails that when we have a day that our home falls into some sort of discord or chaos, when the children bicker, attitudes and tempers flair, and rooms get messy, it will also happen to be the day that I got lazy about my own duties and living by example. 

 “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.  But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:13-14).  Our children are not born with the knowledge of and tendencies toward being Godly and responsible.  They must be taught, and then the teachings must be reinforced well into adulthood.  “Constant use” is the only way to train and enforce responsibility.  

 Finally, pray for your children every day.  Pray for them by name.  Pray for their hearts and souls.  Pray that they will develop a craving to learn about Christ and what he did/is doing for us.  Pray that your own goals for your children will be godly, and that they will not stray toward secular ideals.  Pray that you maintain the correct purpose in training your children, and that you don’t slip into training your children so that they (or you) will be pleasing to another individual or idea.  Just pray.  God will hear.  That is the greatest thing about this whole parenting thing.  We are not embarking on this journey alone.  God is there for us.   He is there to give us strength and wisdom, and he is there to fill in our weaker areas.  We just have to let Him! 

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Continued from Part 6……(Click here to begin at Part 1)

Sixth, we must introduce responsibility.

Far too often, I have seen parents try to spite each other through the children. For example, fathers may think bodily noises are funny and encourage the behavior, while a mother is trying to teach proper etiquette and discourage it. One parent may feel a child should be well-rounded in chores, while another feels boys should have one type and girls another. So, the first step here is for parents to have a serious discussion and come to a mutual agreement regarding childhood behaviors and responsibilities. Without this step, children will wind up confused, and could easily lose respect for one or both parents as they mature. Even more frustrating for a parent is when a child learns that the parents are on different “pages,” and, as a result, they will “play” the parents against one another. It is crucial that parents agree on what is brought before the children BEFORE it is brought before them. This is important not only for well-being and development of the child, but also to maintain the relationship between the parents.

Once you have come to an agreement, it is time to assign responsibilities to the children. While there is no right or wrong way to do this, the Bible makes it very clear that children are then capable of handling responsibility. We cannot expect to allow our “children to be children” now, and have them just awaken one day when they turn 21 and expect them to become responsible adults. Responsibility, like anything else, must be taught. The best time to teach is during the impressionable years of childhood—the younger, the better. II Kings 22 tells the story of Josiah, who became king at the young age of 8 years old. While he was thrown into kingship, he had been prepared for it well before then. Samuel and Psalms are filled with stories of David, a shepherd boy who tended his father’s sheep for years before becoming king. David’s father, Jesse, did not just put David with a bunch of sheep one day and say, “OK, take care of ‘em!” There was bound to have been a training process. Jesus himself was teaching in the synagogue as a 12 year old. So, where do you begin?

After coming to an agreement with S regarding what we expected of our children, I began to research chores that could be assigned to the ages and maturity levels of my children. If you have already encouraged obedience in your home, then you have a head start. Obedience teaches self-discipline and self-control, which will encourage responsible children. If not, encouraging obedience must be your first step, though you can utilize chores to help with obedience training.

For toddlers, you can’t have a “sit-down and explain” session like you can with older children. We simply begin encouraging them as necessary to do little things. As he learns to obey, you can then ask his assistance in holding doors open, closing cabinets, feeding a baby, taking things out of the dishwasher, picking up toys, etc. My toddlers even loved to “help” with the laundry (they would usually just take a garment, roll it in their hands a few times, and throw it on top of a nice, neat pile!). This can be a very difficult time of training, and I must admit, it is an area in which I struggle. Teaching toddlers through the preschool years can take a great deal of patience and overlooking inperfections. I am a perfectionist when I clean, so it has really been a struggle for me. It is so much easier to put the children out of the kitchen or just do the laundry alone and ensure it is done the way I like it, than to deal with finding dirty dishes in my cabinet when a child puts away the wrong thing, or having wrinkled clothes that weren’t properly folded. I must look at my childrens’ future to get through each session, and continually remind myself that NOW is the time to teach them to enjoy helping. I have found my children LOVE to help most at the toddler age. They love being like mommy, and pleasing us. What a great opportunity to encourage that attitude! If I never let them help now, it will only make the lessons that come later more difficult.

For older children (preschool through teen years) there is a wonderful system I use called Managers of Their Chores with ChorePacks to help implement the chores. This system, when used correctly, helps prevent the parent from nagging, constantly hovering over the child, and simply involves periodic inspection to ensure chores are being done properly (based on age). Thanks to this system, my 3 year old gets up in the morning, goes potty, gets dressed, puts her clothes in the hamper/drawer, picks up toys, makes her bed, straightens her shelves, and even brushes her teeth—all before coming to breakfast, which is the first time I see her in the morning. Granted, none of it is done to perfection, and in fact, it looks like a 3 year old did it all alone! The point, however, is that my daughter is always so proud to have completed her chorepack all by herself. She is learning to take pride in her work, learning that doing her best is always important, and learning that she is an active member of our family, with jobs like everyone else. My 4 year old has similar chores in the morning, in addition to stripping his bed on laundry day. Later in the day, he takes out trash, vacuums my kitchen, and cleans the table off. Again, the point is not how perfectly everything is done, or even what chores are assigned, rather, we are trying to give our children an understanding of the joy that can be found in having responsibility. We also want our children to understand that it takes teamwork and compromise to make a home run smoothly.

When you keep the proper perspective in mind, it helps you overlook the imperfections left when younger children do chores. It also becomes easier to see rewards when you look at the big picture. For example, I may not have a perfectly tidy home, but because my children have chores they perform throughout the day, guests could stop by at almost any time, and I wouldn’t be humiliated by the way my house looks. The kitchen might be messy, but overall, the house is presentable. As parents of 4 children under 5, keeping this “big picture” in mind helps a great deal! So pray, research, discuss with your spouse, and develop some responsibilities and behaviors you desire to implement.

Continuing from Part 5……(Click here to start at Part 1)

Fifth, there must be discipline. I have done a previous post on discipline, if you are interested.

First, parents must understand that appropriate and effective discipline is very different from abuse. As I mentioned previously, I spent many years with foster children, and saw the affect of abuse on children of all ages. It is a horrendous, life-changing, heart-breaking thing to see. Abuse, whether physical or emotional, will negatively affect a child for the rest of his life. Even a child who adapts and seems to recover, may grow up to struggle with proper discipline of his own child in the future. True and appropriate discipline can be likened to guidance and training, unlike abuse. It leaves positive impressions, and teaches life-long lessons that help a child.

Discipline and correction are part of the vast array of tools we need to use as parents. Psalms 23:4 points out “….Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.” A shepherd used a rod and staff while tending his sheep. The staff was used to guide the sheep, and keep them on the path, thereby offering comfort. It might also have been used to give a sharp correction to a wayward sheep, offering discipline. A rod, on the other hand, was often used for predators of the sheep. So, while it was capable of great destruction and even the death of a predator, it was a sign of protection and comfort to the sheep and the shepherd. The wisdom of the shepherd, and the choices he made in using the tools, made all the difference as to whether the sheep saw them as a comforting or as something to be feared.

We certainly do not want our children to fear discipline and correction. We want them to learn a healthy level of respect for it. One way to ensure the effectiveness is through simple discussion with your child. Ask him about his understanding of the correction being administered. Based on his answer, you can gauge how effective and appropriate your methods are, and whether they should be changed in the future. You also need to have a personal attitude check prior to disciplining a child. If you are angry or frustrated, it will only serve to make the correction more severe for the child. The lesson you want the child to learn may be lost completely.

We have a sandbox, which, as any mom with a sandbox knows, can mean lots of sand being tracked through the house. When M disobeyed a long-standing rule regarding the sandbox, instead of negotiating or threatening, I chose to correct her by taking away her privilege of using the sandbox for a day. Of course, she cried, but when she calmed down, we discussed the reasoning for the correction. She understood that by having to stay inside, it would “help her remember” not to disobey the rule in the future. I have had similar situations with JR and M, and I love it when they come to me the next day, or several days later, and say something like, “Mom, may I please play in the sandbox? I will remember not to disobey xxxxx rule.” This is a great example of appropriate correction, as they aren’t fearing being disciplined, but rather, are understanding that such correction will help in the future. Then, when the future arrives, they can look back and see the lesson learned.

Discipline is scriptural, and the Bible offers guidelines to help parents properly discipline their children. Most importantly, we must remember that discipline alone will not result in the behavior and attitudes we desire. Therefore, after we have ensured the implementation of the “tools” of love, not exasperating, living by example, and proper instruction, it is time to discipline for undesirable behaviors. Proverbs 29:15 says “The rod of correction imparts wisdom, but a child left to himself disgraces his mother.” This verse can be considered a warning–without discipline, your child WILL mis-behave and be a disgrace. Proverbs 23:13 says, “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him, he will not die.” This verse is quite blatant. Whatever form of discipline you choose for inappropriate behaviors, a child MUST be disciplined as part of their training in order to learn the self-discipline and self-control that is necessary as they mature. If we heed these instructions, however, Proverbs 29:17 promises, “Discipline your son, and he will give you peace; he will bring delight to your soul.”

The best solution I have found to preventing incorrect discipline, and encouraging proper, timely, and consistent discipline, is an “If-Then Chart.” It has truly changed the way we discipline. (Read my post for more information about how it works.) We must remember that the purpose of discipline is not just to have well-behaved children. Just as Christ disciplines us for the purpose of training us and helping us to mature spiritually, our purpose should be to train our children to be self-disciplined, self-controlled, God-fearing, Christ-seeking, mature, and responsible individuals. Well-behaved children are a by-product of this goal.

Continuing from Part 4……(Click here to start at Part 1)

Fourth, we must train and instruct our children.

When you first began a new job, you weren’t thrown into the job on day one and expected to complete tasks to perfection.  Chances are, you went through a training period.  Depending on the job, this period could have been several hours to several years.  Likewise, we must train our children for the jobs and responsibilities we expect them to fulfill and the behaviors we expect them to demonstrate. 

Training and instructing takes on many forms.  We have already discussed training by living as an example.  Another form is through explanation and demonstration.  If we are trying to teach our child a particular task such as how to clean a bathroom, we cannot just put them in the bathroom, hand them a scrub brush and expect them to clean it.  We must demonstrate and walk through the process, explaining the how-to’s as we go.  Then, we must supervise and assist as necessary, until the child grasps the concept.

Yet another form is teaching through consistency.  This can be easily explained by using the example of training a baby.  A young baby or toddler cannot always understand the spoken words we give him, so we teach by doing the same thing repetitively.  We are in the process of teaching A, an overly active child, to sit still during church.  He cannot possibly understand the point of sitting still, as it his nature to explore and play at that age.  Through repetition, consistent encouragement of the correct behavior, and discouragement of the incorrect behaviors, however, he is learning to sit still for longer durations.  We have been working on this for several months.  Last night, for the first time, when Daddy announced it was time for family worship, A ran over, jumped on the couch, and sat beside me.  This morning, he sat through the entire hour-and-a half church service without attempting to get down or making a single vocal noise.  At just 17 months of age, he has begun to understand that we want him to sit still. 

The secular world would have us believe that “children will be children.”  I do not disagree with this, as even the Bible states “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child….”(Proverbs 22:15) and “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child.” (1 Corinthians 13:11).  However, the Bible does not leave it at that.  If you read on, it becomes very obvious that, although the nature of a child is to act childish, they can be trained and instructed according to Godly principles.  Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go…”  Deuteronomy 4:9 commands, “Teach them to your children and to their children after them.” Deuteronomy 6:7 states, “Impress them on your children.”  Furthermore, the Bible commands “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” (Colossians 4:20). 

It is obvious therefore, that not only can children be trained, but God expects us to train them.  These passages do not exclude children of any age, so we must assume that He expects us to train our children at all ages.  Remember the priest, Eli, who God punished for not properly training and disciplining even his adult children (1 Samuel 2:29).  Proper training is also not limited to behavior, but also attitude.  I mentioned A learning to sit still.  Even more amazing, S was not forcing A to sit there, and A was not miserable in the least.  Rather, he has learned that sitting still and playing quietly in Daddy’s lap is what is pleasing to us.  In fact, he would periodically look up at his daddy, and give a great big smile, as if he was seeking approval and acknowledging that he was, indeed, behaving correctly. 

It is now interesting when we compare little A with 3 year old M.  We did not begin training M to sit still until she was over 2 years old.  As a result, she is not much beyond A’s level in her ability to sit still, and her attitude can still drift toward the negative.  Obviously, the earlier we begin training our children, the sooner they learn the necessary character traits that we should desire for our children.

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