Sunday Bunny Sundaaay

It has been a very productive Sunday, considering it is supposed to be the day of rest. We had a great sermon at church! My pastor even referred to one of my go-to Bible verses (Proverbs 3:5-6) that I used in my post yesterday. God is working…in me and through others to get to my heart. He is good! We went to Costco (I always want to spell it CostCo, but Husband “informed” me today that I was incorrect.) after church for a few (hundred) things and taste tests. I feel so terrible for the Taste Test Administrators. Is that what they’re called? I’d be so stressed. It’s like a bum rush of people and in the snap of a finger, all your hard work is gone! And then there’s more people! Anywho. In case you are wondering…and even if you are not, my favorite taste test of the day was Philippine Brand Dried Young Coconut Snacks. It’s like my new favorite taste test of life. It was SO good. You sort of have to try them if you like coconut. Mmm. I feel as though I could eat them by the truck load. Anywho again. So remember how I told you I can’t seem to leave there without a pallet of even one item? Well. I am now the proud(ish) owner of a 5 pound bag of organic baby carrots. Yikes. I’m going to use every single carrot in that (giant) bag. Tonight, I made a delicious side dish of carrots that would beautifully accompany a Thanksgiving meal. And my whole family enjoyed it. My older son, Bigs, enjoyed it the most. He gets a kick out of eating bunny food. I found the recipe on Pinterest, but changed it around a bit (ooooh, two recipe re-writes in one week!).

CarrotCasserole

Carrot Casserole:

Adapted from :

http://www.salad-in-a-jar.com/family-recipes/carrots-a-casserole-and-a-skinny-secret

Ingredients
2.5 C carrots
1/2 C sugar
2 T honey
1 t vanilla
1/4 T flour
1/4 t baking powder
1 stick of butter, softened
2 eggs
cinnamon
I boiled the carrots until soft. I mashed them in my food processor. I mixed the remaining ingredients with the carrots and poured into a buttered glass pie pan. I cooked it in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for 50ish minutes. SO easy!
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I served it with a whole chicken that I roasted and corn off the cob.
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More carrots. I regret nothing.  😀
I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed that casserole. I even think I could eat it cold. Standing in front of the fridge. While my children play in the living room. Yum.
I also made fruit snacks! This is a recipe I use often. I doubled the recipe today. I send them with Bigs to school for a snack. They can stay at room temperature for a while. Smalls is only just starting to have a taste for gummy things. What little kid doesn’t like gummies? So weird. It was rough for a while because I’d have to melt his daily gummy vitamin in his breakfast oatmeal for him to take it. But now he likes(ish) gummies. So he can enjoy these now too.
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This recipe is great because you can take your own liberties with it (what fruits, etc.).
Homemade Fruit Snacks:
http://thankyourbody.com/homemade-healthy-fruit-snacks/
Ingredients:
2/3 C frozen or fresh fruit
2/3 C orange juice or a mix of orange and lemon juices
1-2 T honey
5 packets of unflavored gelatin (I’ve used 4 and it works but they come out less ‘hard’ and I’ve used 6…I do what I want.)

Bring the fruit and juice to a simmer over medium heat, just enough to make the fruit soft. Place in a food processor. Pour back into pot and whisk in honey. Let sit off of heat for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, whisk in the gelatin packets. Pour into an 8×8 pan and let it sit in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Cut into cubes!

I hope you all had as lovely a Sunday as me. Today, I am thankful for carrots, for without them, this four-eyed Mama would surely be needing Coke bottles for glasses. 😉 And I’m truly thankful for renewal in my heart. And for the cooler weather we’ve been experiencing. That makes me feel festively happy.

Peace and Blessins’ (Look it up. You’re welcome.),

Kristin

Campaign for Thankfulness & Marshmallows

ThanksgivingBooks

We are in full-fledged Thanksgiving mode here in my home! I was so wired on Halloween night (not from candy-eating, but from major anxiety, natch) that after getting the boys into bed, I took down all the Halloween decorations and put up the Thanksgiving ones. Bigs was so excited to see a new and different set of holiday decor out the next morning! Earlier in the week, we checked out a bunch of Thanksgiving books at the library, so we’ve been reading those too.  At almost three and a half, Bigs is starting to “get” the meaning of Thanksgiving – that we should give thanks always and be grateful to God for all He’s blessed us with, which is so much more than we deserve. During the month of November (and it really should be every day of every month), I want to participate in that ubiquitous campaign to say aloud what we are thankful for.

On Friday night, I made a Thanksgiving-y casserole (and wrote my own recipe! – Don’t get used to it.). It was fairly healthy and really quite good. It looks a little busted because of the ridiculous marshmallows on top, but I also think they were fun for Bigs, of course. And me. Who doesn’t want a twirly, swirly, pink confection on the top of absolutely everything?

SweetPotatoBefore

Sweet Potato Pumpkin Casserole:

Serves: A Lot (enough for leftovers!)

Ingredients:

3 large sweet potatoes (peeled, cut up and boiled until soft)

1/2 can pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)

1T honey

1/3 C milk

1/4 C pumpkin pie coffee creamer (optional)

1 beaten egg

Cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice (optional – I did not use these)

I used a hand mixer to incorporate all the ingredients together. I poured it into a greased dish. I put those fancy marshmallows on top (I’d have used regular ones if I’d had them. It was between these and fruit flavored ones…I think I made the right choice) and baked at a 350 degree pre-heated oven for about a half hour. It was very good!

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So. This next part is not as fun as casserole or marshmallows.

I have anxiety. And it’s mostly pretty bad. It’s an everyday struggle, even though some days are better than others. Some days, it isn’t bad at all, for which I am thankful.  I constantly have to work at getting “over it”. You get used to it (I’ve been a classic worry wort since birth), but not really. That doesn’t even make sense. But it doesn’t matter. It’s real. Some people don’t understand anxiety or why I have it or why I can’t just easily be over it. And that’s okay. I’m not looking for sympathy or for you to be sad for me. I don’t want to be a victim to this. I just want to productively coexist with it, if I’m to have it.

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anxiety

In my inconsistent struggle to pinpoint exactly who I am (sometimes I know exactly who I am, and then all of a sudden, I feel lost…and then freaked out, and then it’s okay again), I am grateful when I discover something about myself and accept it easily and also when God gives me answers. I look to God and the Bible for guidance and comfort. And besides prayer, lots of things help my anxiety: shopping at Goodwill, baking, donuts, putting things in their correct order, ROYGBIV (it’s strangely soothing!), schedules, hand sanitizer, spontaneous hugs from my babies, plucking out my random gray hairs, smiles from strangers (but not creepy ones), a sermon at church that speaks to me, my husband coming home for lunch…the list goes on (and I might argue that the list of what makes me anxious is just as long lol). I’m not unhappy, just anxious. I know I’m not alone, in both my life or in my struggles against general anxiety.

OCD                                grocerylist

handsanitizer                                    Unexpected call

I have to say that it took a lot of gumption for me to write this. Anxiety isn’t the socially taboo topic it once was, but it isn’t a fun thing to write about. Especially when it makes “one” feel and/or look like a total head case. This has been scary to put myself “out there” and definitely makes me feel vulnerable too. But it is strangely cathartic and freeing.

I will leave you with a few of my favorite Bible verses, ones I constantly refer to…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4:6)

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Be still, and know that I am God… (Psalm 46:10)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

…and a few song lyrics I hear on our local Christian station that remind me who is in charge and why I should not have any fear in this life…

“If there’s a road I should walk, help me find it. If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment…” (Sidewalk Prophets – “Help Me Find it”)

“We pour out our miseries. God just hears a melody…” (Amy Grant – “Better Than a Hallelujah”)

Today, I am thankful for a God that is Comforter, Healer and Friend. He does not judge me, but loves me.

Have a very blessed, very thankful, anxiety-free night,

Kristin

Chocolates, malts and caramels, oh my!

HappyHalloween

Happy Halloween!

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So, here it is…the last day of Halloween lunches. I am excited to move on to the next holiday, because that means new and exciting times with my family.  The only thing that makes me sad is that this will be the last (as will always be the case, I suppose!) Halloween where my two special boys will be this small, and their level of discovery about this holiday so new.  🙁 It just serves as a reminder to relish every single second with them. Today, I made a Halloween lunch for Bigs. He is SO excited about this holiday. It’s the first time he “gets it”. I hope these lunches I do for him help keep him excited…just about life in general! He sure makes my life exciting! And wonderful. And full. And fulfilled.

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Today’s lunch is a “scaredy” cat shaped PB&J, with crusts underneath (waste not, want not!!), pretzel sticks, a gummy worm for dessert, mandarin oranges (I gently washed off the juice they were packaged in), grapes and the little yellow container has alphabet noodles with corn in it.

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Wouldn’t it be fun to go to a party like this?

WelcomeGreatPumpkin

 

Hoping you all have a not-so-spooky (unless that’s what you like, we don’t “do” too much spooky), fun-filled, sweet Halloween!

I’m hoping to find that Great Pumpkin.

Enjoy your kids’ candy (I will be),

Kristin

Hallo, au revoir to Brussels

I have a problem. I can’t seem to go into a CostCo and not come out with an asinine amount of something I may or most likely may not need. Last time I went in, I came out with a two pound bag of brussel sprouts. I love brussel sprouts. That’s right. I love them. I could eat them every day. There are so many wonderful things about them and wonderful way to prepare them. Smalls, my one year old, likes them too, but eats like a bird. And Bigs likes the roasted leafy part, but not the whole thing. So, really it is only me eating them. I have no idea how to eat two pounds of them. Anyways.

This post was originally going to be a delicious recipe for said brussel sprouts. But this post is not about that anymore. It’s more of a P.S.A. now.

I will back track. A few months ago, I prepared brussel sprouts for dinner (roasted). On that same day, a HUGE (like…size of a thumbnail) fly appeared in my house, buzzing around, scaring my kids and dog (Why would they be scared of a fly? You ask them. They won’t tell me.). The great thing (is this even a “great” thing?) about these flies is that they are so oaf-like and bumbling, that they are easy to catch. You can catch them with your hands. Anywho, I killed it. Then another appeared. I killed that one too. It happened 11 times. That was the last of them. That night. I made brussel sprouts last week and then again tonight. The SAME thing happened. I sort of pieced together my memory about each day they appeared and discovered that it was on days I made brussels. My husband told me that brussel sprouts smell so awful to him that it is no wonder these flies are attracted to the smell. I did a little research online and discovered that other people had the same problem! So. Next time you make brussel sprouts, BOLO for those flies. Blarg.

The brussels were good. Now the thought of them makes me feel not so good. I roasted them in a 400 degree oven, after tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper, cumin and a leeetle brown sugar, added some raisins in, blah blah blah. No one cares about this recipe. You should really care about The Flies.

Have any of you experienced this?

Have a fly-free night,

Kristin

A cake with CAT-titude

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I am not a cat person. Not in any way, shape or form. They scare me. I think they can be cute, but holding them and letting their nails or teeth touch me sort of freaks me out. They know stuff. They just look at you and know stuff. It’s weird. We are a dog-loving family. Anyways, I don’t want the real deal in my house, but I don’t mind having this Kitty Litter Cake! It’s a CAT-astrophe of a cake, but it’s hilarious. And disgusting. I’ve made it more than once and it went over….you know, about as well as you can expect a cake that is basically a potty for cats can go over. I made this for my brother’s birthday a few years back and am sharing this with you today (his birthday!!) to pay homage to him and to Halloween (wouldn’t this be perfect for a Halloween party?)! This is almost too disgusting to have on my blog. And I’m the mother of two sweet little boys…and everyone knows boys are gross. But this? This is almost too grody. If you DO make it, I hope it goes over as grossly as mine did.

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Here is the recipe I have used:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/kitty-litter-cake/

Have a paw-sitive day (lol),

Kristin

A rose by any other name…

…is apple. It’s apple. Did you know that? Apples are in the rose family. How sweet (lol)! Today is Apple Day in my son Bigs’ preschool class! Naturally, I had to create an apple-themed lunch for him. He’s also wearing red. Once I get a theme, I stick it out to the end. I’m nothing if not dedicated!

AppleLunch

This apple themed lunch is a PB&J, on which I used a light spritz of food-safe spray. I created a stencil. It’s not perfect, but Bigs won’t mind. 🙂 I used a Food Writer to draw on the stem. He also has natural applesauce with a few red sprinkles (blog namesake!!), some pretzel sticks and a gummy worm. I also used some of my apple themed picks. He is also taking a whole apple in as a snack.

About a month ago, my Mom made a trip to North Carolina to do some apple picking. She brought me back an amazing bunch of apples, of all different varieties. They were so lovely and fresh. I used them to make a crock pot applesauce. As I cut up each apple, I tasted each one. The flavors and textures (not to mention, their beautiful colors!) were all so unique. It is fascinating how many different varieties of the same type of fruit there are. Much like people, huh? And we all bring some unique flavor to the table! Anyways, the applesauce came out great. The boys loved it, as did I! IMG_20130930_013825

The house smelled of Autumn when these were cooking. Delicious!

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The recipe was quite simple and didn’t use any sugar. Here is the link.

http://www.scratchmommy.com/healthy-crock-pot-applesauce/

Have a saucy day,

Kristin

Bon Appétit!

Julia

My passion for food runs deep. I don’t just love to eat, but I love to cook (still doesn’t mean I’m good at it) and bake and enjoy every experience that food offers. I love the rich, crunchy sound of onions being chopped, the soft sound of sugar and flour falling into my mixing bowl, like a gentle first snowfall. I love the way a yeasted dough will rise after being left alone in the dark corner of my kitchen counter top. I love the feeling I get when a recipe turns out as it should. I love tasting the dish I’m making, in every step of the recipe. Everything about food, I love. For me, it’s tied to my heartstrings, my emotions.

“Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.”

-Charles Pierre Monselet

Have YOU found this to be true, as I have? As long as I can remember, most of my happiest memories can be associated with food. Not in the sense that we were obsessed with it, just that a good meal was always around as we went about our family business. I remember spending time with my Mom in the kitchen, licking the wooden spoon that she used to stir together her Strawberry Pie filling, still hot from the stove top. It would burn my tongue, but I wouldn’t care – it was so good – shiny and red. I remember the sugary date balls she would (and still occasionally makes) make every year at Christmas. I remember the savory smells and popping sounds of the cube steaks frying, and later, how tasty they were on my plate, paired with mashed potatoes, gravy, and peas. They always went together. If I make this dish, I always make it the same way my Mom did, because of how it makes me feel to have the same exact meal. I remember the pot roasts, laden with potatoes, carrots and onions, simmering in the crock pot that would greet me with waves of delicious smells when I would walk in the house after school.  It was agony to wait until dinner time, and inevitably, I’d lift off that crock pot lid and pinch a bite here and there. If my Mom ever knew! And don’t even get me started on the holidays! The sounds and smells of the hoe cakes crackling in the cast iron pan, the din of extended family gathering together, relaxing on that old creaky front porch swing, waving at every passerby, just biding our time until we could say our thanks and eat our meal, so lovingly put together by each family member. Ahh, yes, food has a very special place in my heart.

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food.”

-Erma Bombeck

In some situations, food is the ONLY collective connection we have. Perhaps not the type of food we enjoy that we have in common, but the physiological need for it,  the unique culinary traditions we each have and our own personal memories tied to them.

What are some of your food-rich memories?

Oh yes, and how could I forget?!  I made cake. A sweet, little birthday cake!

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Easy, but wonderfully delicious.  I used the Hershey’s Perfectly Chocolate Cake recipe (sans the frosting, recipe in link below) and used a Betty Crocker recipe for the frosting, except I used chunky peanut butter (recipe in link below). YUM. To me, it tasted like (I have to taste my product before giving it away!!) the kind of cake that you’d get at a greasy diner (all diners should be greasy), as a thick slab on a white china plate.

https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184&name=HERSHEY%27S-PERFECTLY-CHOCOLATE-Chocolate-Cake

http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/easy-peanut-butter-frosting/3b3b77bb-939a-4607-bd0f-428f1876903f

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Have a chunky peanut buttery sort of day (that’s the best kind!),

Kristin

Gobble-dy gobble-dy ga gobble gobble

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Please tell me you get my musical reference in the title. Please? Don’t make me rap it to you. Because I will. I am rapping this shizzle all over my hizzle. I’m in hysterics. Probably only me. Anywaaaaaayz…..

It isn’t even Halloween yet, and I’m already moving on to Thanksgiving. Well…my taste buds are. While I cannot wait to see Bigs and Smalls in their sweet costumes and have Smalls experience his first trick or treating as a walking toddler, I cannot WAIT to bring out my Thanksgiving-y china and decorations, and to cook and bake and enjoy traditional Thanksgiving food with my family.

I find myself CRAVING Thanksgiving foods! Especially that after-Thanksgiving sandwich…you know the one. We all might have different variations (mine is white bread of any kind, mayo, turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing and maybe some gravy), but it’s all the same. Well…yesterday, I was notified of such a sandwich for sale at a local gas station, Wawa. I had to have it! It didn’t matter to me that it was 9am. So I got my Thanksgiving sandwich (when I make it, I call it the “Thanks be to the Sandwich” and I have a magnet I keep on my fridge year-round that says “Thanks be to thee” that my Grandmother made – an annual reminder of thanks…and that sandwich) and it was aptly named “The Gobbler”. It was delicious. All the right flavors were there. It’s nice to know I can have this flavor profile any time of year that I want. Hopefully it isn’t just seasonal, because I can’t even handle that. Between THAT sandwich and the Thanksgiving-y magazine my neighbor gave me to read, I’m getting so very excited!  What are some of your Thanksgiving food traditions? Mine typically go the deep Southern food route, as that is where I spent every Thanksgiving growing up, and recreating these dishes is like a hug on a plate. I crave both the food and the emotions I feel when tasting those flavors I knew so well as a child. As we get closer to Thanksgiving, perhaps we can share some recipes. This is directed at the readers other than my Mom and Mom-in-law (I already have your recipes lol). Hopefully I have more readers than that? 😉

Have a thankful day,

Kristin

(Gobble-dy gobble-dy ga gobble gobble – still rappin’!)

Halloween & Fall Time Food Roundup

Here are some fun Halloween and fall time meal and snack ideas I’ve done for Bigs in school and for us, as a family, at home. I hope you enjoy! (And you’ll have to excuse the quality and design of some of these photos – some are older and I was just learning!)

Ghostlunch

Ghost Themed Lunch: A ghost shaped PB&J, I used candy eyes and Food Writers for the mouth, seasoned corn, grapes, pretzel sticks, a tiny little marshmallow ghost and a ghost banana for snack.

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Pumpkin Themed Lunch: A pumpkin shaped PB&J, pretzels, Autumn mix (peanuts, golden raisins, candy corn), pumpkin shaped pear slices, a squeezy fruit and a bag (with pumpkin stickers) of carrots, PB for dipping and a cheese stick for snack.

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Spooky Themed Lunch: A Bat and moon shaped PB&J, two carrot mini muffins, Autumn mix, two pumpkin yogurt pretzels, corn and a squeezy fruit.

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Fall Themed Lunch: A pumpkin shaped PB & pumpkin butter on a pumpkin waffle, grapes and bananas, Autumn mix and one pumpkin yogurt pretzel.

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Harvest Themed Lunch: A PB&J jack ‘o’ lantern (cutouts filled with orange sprinkles), corn, homemade applesauce and two carrot mini muffins.

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Squirrel Themed Lunch: A squirrel shaped PB&J, crusts parading as tree branches, seasoned corn, pretzel sticks and an acorn for dessert, made using a vanilla wafer, chocolate chip and a Hershey’s kiss.

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A fun, festive snack made with toast shaped like a ghost and candy corn and spread with tinted cream cheese.

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Up close! I used decorator’s icing for the details.

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A spooky and disgusting-looking snack that grossed me out even making it: “Bandaids” made with graham crackers, cream cheese and decorator’s icing,  a ghost string cheese and a witch’s finger (string cheese, almond slice).

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And after dinner dessert for the family: spiders made from Rolos, black licorice and decorator’s icing, Autumn mallow candies.

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Hot dog mummies! These were a cinch to make and were probably my favorite! All you do is wrap crescent rolls (stretched out) around a cooked hot dog and bake. The spider web sauce is simply ketchup and mustard. These were a hit!

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Another after dinner dessert made from a simple meringue that I tinted and layered and decorated.

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Jack ‘o’ lantern cheeseburgers for dinner! It was very simple to cut the cheese (tee hee) and these were easy to make. This was also a hit!

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Jack ‘o’ lantern stuffed peppers! Delicious and so cute!

Have a festive day,

Kristin

The way the cookie crumbles…

cookiefail

This has been a reflective week for me, can you tell? Imma just indulge in my thoughts for a bit…

Sometimes (often times for me) recipes don’t go as they are intended. In my sort of sketch cooking past and present (I won’t ever claim to be a good cook!) and in some baking instances, I have blamed the recipes themselves for the crap end products. It turns out, it was I who read the recipe wrong or took a misstep during the process. I only needed to pay more attention to the content of the recipe, instead of speeding through it or cutting corners to get a final end prize. [In the above picture, I used melted butter instead of room temperature – novice mistake. I am what’s called a “butter and oil expert” now, having learned from my mistake.]

bakingfail(not my baking, but might as well be some days!)

mixerfail(not my Grandmother, but isn’t she adorable??)

Anyways, the same can be said for parenthood. At least in my case. So often, I place more emphasis on how my kids should act (and I still do and will always believe old fashioned manners and overall good behavior are vastly important, however, I’m trying to realize they are just pieces that make up a well-rounded child), instead of the contents of their heart. In chit-chatting with a few good friends lately, one of them said this to me about her own child and it really struck a chord with me. And as I sit here during my boys’ nap time, drinking their juice boxes and eating their snacks (when I should be sleeping), I realize I need to tweak my overall approach to parenting.

No part of me is perfect…as a person or as a Mother. Not even as a friend, daughter or sister or wife. The list goes on and on. So I can admit it…I have had a few off weeks (months maybe??) as a Mommy. I *think* it has something to do with having a 3 year old, who both needs and wants me and dislikes everything I do in the same millisecond and a cray cray one year old who scales my walls and hangs from just about everything.  Just a hunch.  Bigs has been in both the most wonderful and the most infuriating and exasperating stages of his life. At almost three and a half, he is able to verbalize everything (and boy, does he ever!), but doesn’t know how to balance his logic for knowing he needs to do as he’s told and his want for exerting his independence. I find myself yelling, pleading, crocodile tears-ing for him to listen to me, and on the first time I say it. But now, instead of harping on that and getting on his case for everything, I am going to take a step back on the nagging and try to focus more on his heart. And instead of using Bible verses to show I’m in the right (Colossians 3:20*), I’m going to do right by the blessing of a job God’s gifted me (Proverbs 22:6**) and be less angry at situations like the pumpkin patch experience earlier in the week (and other instances). Because, after all, isn’t our kind-hearted God rich in love and slow to anger? Isn’t He so wonderfully patient with me, who constantly is testing Him? Doesn’t He want us to walk in His path? Is that not what He intends on us doing (much like the recipe writer’s intend on us reading the whole thing through)? Luckily for us, He is also incredibly forgiving and doesn’t walk away from me when I’ve had a “Mommy Fail” day…which is often.

panera(The perfect chocolate chip cookies

with the most perfect little cookie thief hands of a then-two-year-old Bigs)

(*Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.  Colossians 3:20)

(**Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6)

Big empathetic, understanding hugs!

Kristin