Thursday, January 30, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out: January with Whitney (Part 1)

Ever since I became a mom I've been asking other parents advice. I've wanted to know how to be a great mom. A mom who's kids love her, respect her, desire her company. A mom who showed them Jesus, a mom who wasn't perfect but trained them carefully.

In our society now, there isn't a community of women teaching and training younger moms. And sadly young moms don't seek advice or even listen to it for that matter. It makes me sad that when a gal gets pregnant she goes to the bookstore for advice before talking with other seasoned moms around her. 

I'm truly fortunate to know some really amazing moms who have been through "the trenches" with little ones and who have lots of wisdom to share. 

Let me introduce you to Whitney. I met her through Lincoln Christian school back in 2005. She's one of those teachers who everyone likes, she has the respect of her students and faculty alike. She's warm, kind and I've always felt drawn to her. I've always wanted to know her better and to learn from her! She has an amazing husband and 2 awesome young men she raised. To me she's been successful in motherhood. Her boys love her, each other and Jesus. What a combo! Join me for an interview with January's Seasoned mom:

Q- Tell me about your transition into motherhood

A- I went back to work after 6 weeks, I was there for a week and I said I can't do this anymore! I have to be with my child, I have to find a way. Financially there was no way, but through prayer I said God you can make a way for us, I'm supposed to be a mother, so show me how I'm supposed to do that. I think that in itself made it undaunting to me, I never felt like it was a rough day, of course I say that- I had days that were rough. But I never regretted staying home. Even those days when we had no car and no way to get anywhere because we went to a 1 car family. I kept telling my husband Gods going to make a way and every month we always had our bills paid. And all the sacrifice was worth it! 

Q- What was your daily schedule like with your baby?

A- My first son Kent was my late sleeper. I say God must have known that I needed any easy baby so that when the next one came around I would be humbled. Because I thought oh I'm a great mom, I'm so good at this, man I could have 40 kids- I'd be fine! Then Cole came along and I thought oh man I'm a horrible mom and I don't need to have anymore children.
  Kent would sleep in late, because I kept him up late. And now looking back I think I would have done that differently. Just because it did take away a lot of time from husband. I mean we had time together, but not that quality time. I would stay up late and have time to myself but not time with my just husband. 
  The schedule was get Kent up around 7 or 8, eat breakfast and when he was little he was really into puzzles, and building things so we would spend the majority of our time playing. I just remember spending my time with him and I don't remember spending time with the TV. And it definitely was a conscious choice. I think those were building blocks to my relationship with him before his brother came along. When his brother did come he was in the hospital for 50 days because he came premature, the doctors told us he wouldn't live and then we battled all those thoughts. We prayed over him Jeremiah 29:11, we were young Christians at that time, but God showed us he was our child and he's got great work and plans for Cole. That's when my faith started building, and all that seed I had planted into Kent he knew that he was loved. That was when motherhood took on a whole new meaning to me, those trying times, when I had to rely on God outside of myself, to know that He was in control. 
  Once we brought Cole home he was in and out of the hospital for months, on a heart monitor, on breathing machines- so those first 2 years with him were really trying. And he didn't sleep and when he did you were afraid he was going to not wake up because all of the bad reports, it was overcoming fear and speaking the Word. As far as schedule there was no schedule, it was whatever Cole wanted to do, I remember getting up early or trying to get up earlier then they did so I could have time with The Lord and some days that was really hard because we never knew which schedule Cole was going to be on! Doctors wouldn't allow us to take Cole to church so we went about 6 months without going to church and there was no online church back then, it was me trying to feed my own soul. Sometimes it was dark, dark places when I felt like I needed a friend, I felt isolated but I felt The Lord telling me I had him, I had my husband, my mom and my kids. So who are you going to rely on? Who are you going to trust? So that was my growing time with God, but it was also my time with my kids to really invest with them. 

Q- What were some of the things you prayed over your children?

A- I always prayed Jeremiah 29:11, that's my go to scripture because I believe with both of them God said "I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Also Proverbs 3:5- Trust in The Lord with all your heart and lean not into your own understanding. I always prayed Isaiah 54:13- "All your children shall be taught of The Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children" I always wanted peace in our home because my home was not one of peace. I would also get out books and pray specific devotions over them.

Q- Tell me what life was like with a family full of boys 

A- I grew up with 1 brother, 2 sisters and my mom. My brother is very passive, he's a great role model and a great leader but he is very passive when it comes to women. So I kind of expected that, and that's not how it was. My husband is extremely strong, the alpha male, his parents yelled in his home, so we had to have lots of talks privately about the fact that we aren't going to raise our voices at our children, we aren't going to yell at them. We had lots of talks about the differencing in parenting style. But when the boys started getting older they were so aggressive, they would want to hit and fight constantly, let's wrestle, let's go outside. The fighting really bothered me, I would say stop fighting, quit it, if you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything to each other. You know all those things you said you would never say when you became a parent, and here I am saying those things over and over to them. And as they got older it just escalated, it's just part of being a boy. I would read about it, I would ask other people about it, is this normal? But my husband would say they are fine, that's what boys do. They were never aggressive to me, we set those boundaries, that was my husbands thing- he said they were never allowed to be rough with me or hurt me. He said if you hurt your mom I'm going to hurt you. My husband is very protective to me even to this day. Now my boys aren't as rough with each other, they are more competitive. But it's a guy thing. It's a whole different world, but I think you have to let them be physical. Sometimes my husband would say go run around the yard (we have 5 acres) and they would say where? He would say the whole fence line, just run the fence line! 

Q- What were specific characteristics that you consciously taught your children? 

A- One of the things I told my kids early on and it was something my mom told me "Don't act good, BE good" never be an actor, always be who you were called to be and be confident there's nothing wrong with that. I wanted them to be good sportsmen, I wanted them to be funny, because my husband is really funny. Growing up they would be funny, but at the wrong time- and my husband would tell them- being funny is all about timing, you have to have good timing. They are personable, I wanted them to be good with people and have good people skills. In our group of friends, most of the other couples didn't have kids yet or had young kids, but we still brought them around so that they were around adults a lot. They knew about adult talk so they learned how to tell stories. And I think that's part of being around adults. Too many times parents separate their kids and go out with their friends and kids don't get to hang around with those friends. I think that's important, having your kids socialize with other adults is just as important as having them socialize with other kids. We also taught them good leadership skills, we would talk to them about how other people look up to them. I explained to them that I wanted the world to look at me and see something different. Anytime we would see things out of the ordinary, we would bring it back to leadership skill. Like in sports, why do you need a quarterback? Because you always need a leader on the field- if no ones leading then everyone's confused. We would talk about being a silent leader, you don't always need to be the quarterback, sometimes people are looking for your character outside of that role. How do you act when you don't get chosen for the homecoming court, when you don't get all those positions. Are you still a good leader?

Q- If you could give one piece of advice to a new mom what would it be? 

A- Make sure you allow your children to see that you aren't perfect. And if you were perfect, find some people that you trust who've made some bad decisions that have turned out to be great people and let your kids experience communication with them as they get older. Especially in their teenage years. Even when they are little, admit your mistakes to your kids. Too many times parents try to make themselves be perfect, I made that mistake with some of my past and not bringing it up earlier. It came to bite me in the butt when my kids got older. Kent said I wish you would have told me that before, but I thought I was saving him from having to know about my past. I wasn't trying to hide anything, but I thought he didn't need to know because I thought it might change who he was, well it would have changed who he was, but it would have for the better. 

Wow! Aren't you loving this? Such amazing insight. Check back for part 2. 


Monday, January 27, 2014

My Once Picky Eater

Several months back I was at a Wednesday night service at our church- they call them First Wednesdays and the worship is really outstanding. 

During this deeper and longer worship I felt The Lord speaking to me and encouraging me to ask Him for something that's been on my heart. I knew immediately it had to do with Sullivan. He is a very picky eater and it had really bothered me. 

That may not be a big deal to most moms but my first son would and still does eat almost anything I prepare! It's been awesome :) I would hear other moms speak of having a picky eater and I had no understanding whatsoever the struggle they endured on a daily basis. 

Enter Sully. He has hated my homemade baby food, loved one thing and then spit it out the next day. For a healthy foodie like me it's hurt my very core. I would sit and imagine him never eating anything except cherrios and grilled cheese. 

So at that Wednesday night service, I prayed The Lord would change Sully's desires and attitude towards the food I prepare for him. I prayed He would help me to train a picky eater into a healthy and adventurous eater. 

The next morning Sully was different. He ate more breakfast, new things at lunch and dinner and tried willingly to use his fork. He fed himself the vegetarian stew we were all eating and let's just say he hasn't looked back.

The Lord is faithful. He wants us to have our hearts desires. He wants us to come to Him as a Father. He wants our burdens to be laid down at his feet. 

Our Sullivan is changed, he's more adventurous, he tries almost all foods now and eats the healthy food our whole family eats. Of course, we have the nights were quinoa chili gets pushed off the high chair and lands on the tile, wallpaper (insert tear) and curtains. But those are so few and far between now. 

So I don't have a magic formula for a picky eater. But I know The Lord cares and sees your struggle as a mom trying to feed her family healthy food. He wants you to ask Him. Ask him for a change in that child. Ask Him how to train that child to try new foods and have the courage to continually present new foods to that once picky eater. 

Anyone else out there have a picky child?  I'm certain The Lord wants the best for you and that child- give your cares to Him. Because he cares about picky eaters too. 


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lemon Essential Oil for Breakfast!?

I usually have my lemon EO (essential oil) in my water but today I was ready to change things up a bit and since we are still fasting I took the vegan banana yogurt and brought it up a notch. Truthfully several notches. 

The same recipe: 
2 bananas 
1/2 container of soft tofu
***but add
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
4 drops of lemon essential oil (only certified pure therapeutic grade) 

Blend until creamy in blender. Chill in freezer for 15-20 minutes. Top with kiwi and walnuts! Heavenly. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Vegan Banana Yogurt Parfait

Day 19 of the Daniel Fast and I had to share this breakfast. A creamy vegan "yogurt" made from bananas and tofu, topped with fresh berries and nuts.

This adds a nice variety to the other breakfast ideas I've seen posted. I've been making it in the morning and eating right after but I'm curious about making it  the night before and chilling in a mason jar in the fridge!? It would be perfect for my husband to take into work! Might have to try tonight. 

Vegan Banana Yogurt

2 bananas
1/2 container of tofu

Blend in high speed blender until creamy.
Top with fresh blueberries and walnuts.

Let me know what you think! 


Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Seasoned Moms Speak Out- the introduction

Only 8 days into the year and I feel it's going to be a smashing hit. Ideas, goals and new thoughts swirl around my head. 
What's new for me? What will I learn next? What tiny little moment will make way for a breakthrough? I've been reading a whole lot this winter. I've chosen to not do other things and read. Not because it's some supior choose but because something deep inside me has needed to connect. When you declare your word or theme for your new year (my word is LEARN) doors start opening and words start falling into place. Also, questions. Questions start forming. I'm about to embark on a daring and adventurous endevor- to seek and ask wiser moms how! How they make it through the mundane chores, the sleepless nights, the exhaustion, the fear, the chaos- and raise these beautiful children you now talk with, sit with and have found to be independent and capable. 
For several years now, I will strike up a conversation with older moms and dads and anxiously wait to hear little nuggets of truth. People I don't know- what will they say- I wonder!?? This person I barely know- what small truth will stand out to them? That's what I have been wanting to know. How do you raise great kids. Not just great, but thriving, adventurous, happy, hard-working, giving, loving and the kind of kid who wants to be with his parents even when he's grown up.
Each day my mind wanders through hallways of possible questions. What kind of answer would this question evoke? Whould that offend or stump her? Would she share a mistake or regret in order for me or another mom to not make it? 
What questions would you want to hear answered? What are daily struggles that you want little bits of wisdom to help with along the road? I'm most excited to hear how they taught God's love, goodness and faithful. How to raise pure and loving men and women in this cruel and selfish world. Join me this year for 12 interviews and 12 incredible women of faith- "Seasoned Moms Speak Out" 


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Quinoa Oatmeal Breakfast Bars

These breakfast bars saved me this morning. Today is day 4 of our 21 day Daniel Fast (no animal products, caffeine yeast or sweeteners) Yesterday I made a tofu scramble that left much to be disired. Ugh. So today with a little extra effort I adapted this recipe

Here is my "clean" version 

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa 
2-3 cups of oatmeal
1 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice
5-6 medjool dates 
1 cup water for soaking dates
3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil 
1 cup of raisins 
1 ripe banana
3-4 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of flax seeds

Heat oven to 325, soak 5-6 medjool dates in water. Cook 1/2 cup quinoa, toast 2-3 cups of oatmeal (over medium heat) with 3-4 tablespoons of coconut oil. Watch the oats carefully! Add a 1/2 tablespoon of pumpkin pie spice. When the oats are toasted/slightly brown toss then in bowl with 1 cup of raisins. Then Mash1 banana with a fork- add this to oats and raisins. Heat 3-4 tablespoons of peanut butter with dates and water and break apart the dates with a fork. 
When peanut butter and dates are smooth add them to oats, when quinoa is finished add to oat mixture as well. Add 1 tablespoon of flax seeds as well-
The last step is to chop 1 cup of almonds and add to mixture. Mix thoroughly, place mixture on baking sheet that is covered with parchment paper and bake 15-17 minutes or until golden! Once cooled, break apart and enjoy! 


Thursday, January 2, 2014

How to Enjoy Winter

First of all my mom should be writing this post.  She had these thoughts and I listened.
She and I were talking about the kids being cooped up in the house all day and today was a day that I wished we lived closer to the ocean. I truly long for natural beauty. And let's all be honest Tulsa winters can test the soul.

I don't like being chilled in my own home, I don't like having to stand by the oven to feel warm while cooking dinner and the worst is when you don't feel inspired getting dressed in the morning because all you want to do is dress in 4 layers of the comfiest clothes you can find (side note: I'm totally against the moms who only wear sweatpants or gym clothes all day- ugh. Get a real wardrobe- ok that's another post all together.)

So she mentioned that The Lord had been working on her heart and her attitude towards winter (we are so alike its scary sometimes) She said she had a revelation!

-How to  "Enjoy" Winter-
Winter comes after 2 busy seasons: summer & Fall. We use lots of energy and the days are long. Ahhhhh just what I love! Outdoors after dinner, the sun shining on your skin, the smells of nature all day long. It's magic! Well after Fall the light changes and nature it seems looks "dead" but here's whats really interesting... It's not dead.

It's resting. Yep, that's right taking a break. It's getting ready to regenerate and work again. More darkness and more rest. Hmmmm maybe I've been missing it all these years? Winter isn't about longing for summer and summer isn't about longing for jackets, scarves and fires in the fireplace. Each of these seasons has a purpose and our bodies need the seasons just as much as the trees do outside.

Do you find yourself wanting to cuddle in blankets near a fire or with someone you love? Maybe you crave your favorite movies? (You've Got Mail or Pride & Prejudice anyone? -oh the REAL version with Colin Firth! But that's also another post)

Cuddling, resting, sleeping more... all of this is our bodies way of saying let's heal, rest and gather energy for the next season. So let's EMBRACE winter this year. Ask the Lord like my mom did- to prepare your heart for it.

I'll be honest I may always be a summer gal who craves the sunlight and oceans waves but I'm also growing and learning that God's big beautiful world can teach us a lot of new things.