Social Networking and Who We Trust With Our Children

Let me start off by saying social networking is not for children. It is an adult space intended for “adult” ideas. That being said, I do think what someone is posting on social media speaks volumes about a person’s integrity, character, and maturity. This isn’t a post about the ills of social networking (well, maybe just a few rants). In fact, I love the connection social media brings to businesses and political discussions. However, many posts are just a plain waste of time, garbage for your brain. A gal I work with was saying her pet peeve with posts is when people show pictures of their dinner. She was pointing out how it’s a basic human need to eat so “Good job. You cooked food for yourself!” I similarly cannot stand pictures of people’s pedicures. Ugh! Thanks for that disgusting picture of your foot! By far, I am most concerned with posts made by people that, for better or for worse, have interaction with my children.

We all have people in our lives that are beyond our choice, our extended families. However, as parents, we must do our best to filter the influences of family members that do not reflect the values we are trying to teach our children. Mostly what’s concerning to me are posts involving sex or drugs. Call me a prude, but I believe once you become a parent, you are effectively a role-model. Being a parent gives you a sort of “professional power,” which is respect given to your title as a parent, extending even beyond your own children. Many parents experience a transition with their children at different stages of their lives (namely the teenage years) where children challenge their “professional power.” Parents, thus, need to earn their children’s respect through “personal power.” “Personal power”  is power earned through the relationship they have with their children, proving their willingness to listen, love, set boundaries, and most importantly set examples. Hopefully, they have this intact prior to those challenges. Sorry for the detour, but the point I’m getting at is, that being someone’s parent means something to other people, not limited to, but including our children. Once you are a parent, other, younger, impressionable relatives that are able to cross your path on social networking, are absorbing your behavior as something that truly has power and influence.

I am, by no means, saying that any parent is perfect. We all are human. We all mess up. However, when it comes to my children, there are certain lines that cannot be crossed. To me, posts about sex ( some borderline pornography) and drugs, show a lack of judgement and values that I really cannot overlook. I’m not talking about a political discussion about the legalization of marijuana, something with intelligence and discourse. I’m not even talking about jokes sexual in nature. I’m talking crude and personal things that belong in one’s own personal space, not flaunted about on social networking through the narcissistic pageant of immature “adults.” Similar to the “Hey look at me I cooked myself food,” it’s “Hey look at me. I like sex and drugs.” Lately, I have kept a keen eye on these types of things. To our children, our family titles mean something powerful. Even the friends we have mean something to our children. We cannot fail our beautiful babes by putting them in harm’s way with someone that lacks judgement. All I can say is learn about the people that spend time with your children. It’s a hard line to walk when it’s a family member. Keep your distance and keep your children safe.  God Bless.

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Walking and How it Saved Me from the Baby Blues

Just about daily I load three toddlers up in a wagon, slathered with sunscreen and squirmy, waiting for snacks. It’s a lot of work to get everyone ready and out the door to go for our walk. There is much discussion, delay, and the occasional meltdown…

“Mom! Mom! Mom! Are these the right shoes?” (after the wrong size is on their feet already)

“Hulk said he wants to go for a walk too.” (clinging to an action figure that would ultimately be dropped along the way)

“I want lemonaaaaaddddeee!” (trying to grab the drinks I have gathered to bring along)

 

With my three, as many other parents can probably relate, I feel pulled in thirty different directions. To an outsider, this probably appears as chaos. However, it’s our rhythm, a routine we developed early on during the first year with my twins. Walking daily pulled me from the funk of baby blues of that first year with three little ones.

My oldest was 16 months when he became a big brother to two little boys. One of my twins had acid reflux. (Side Note: I know there is much confusion on acid reflux and babies. Some folks claim that all babies spit up, thus acid reflux doesn’t exist. Coming from a mama of an acid reflux baby, I completely believe there is a difference between a baby that spits up and one that pukes the entire contents of their stomach multiple times a day.) Because of the discomfort he was in, he slept terribly. Acid reflux peaks at four months. Right when babies are starting to sleep beautifully during the night, my little guy was awake in full force, crabby and retching in pain. It was a pretty miserable, lonely, and exhausting time for me as a mother. My recovery from my c-section had been slow due to doing too much, too soon. I had no choice in the matter. I had no help, a toddler, twin infants, and a flight of stairs to climb just to go to the bathroom. Also, during my pregnancy, I had been dealing with kidney stones and even had a procedure to remove one while carrying my two little guys. I was just frustrated with my body, how tired I was, and worn out from the crying. I was definitely in a bad place.

My saving grace was the day my husband came home with a double stroller and a baby Bjorn style baby carrier. We share one car, so I was stuck at home a lot. The next day, I put my toddler in the front seat, one of my twins in his car seat in the back, and my reflux guy strapped to my chest in the carrier. Then, we walked. Everyone was quiet and happy. I felt the sunshine on my face, and took deep breaths of fresh air. I could have a clear, coherent thought! I heard birds chirping, not crying babies. People in the neighborhood stopped to say hello and fawn on the boys. Wow real adult conversation! By the end of the walk that first day, I was near tears in relief. I praised God for knowing what I needed and working through my husband to get it. We repeated our walks day after day until it became part of our routine and lifeblood.

I am not discounting the seriousness of postpartum depression. In fact, it is a subject that is very personal for me, having a mother that suffered deep postpartum and altered our lives forever because of it. For me, walking daily pulled me from my hormonal funk. It saved my sanity.  I’m not saying this will work for anyone by any means. Some women really need medication. All I can attest to is my own experience. Try a walk with your children today. It might be a complete and utter disaster. I promise it will be an experience you can learn from and do over the next day. It might just be the quiet time you need to regain yourself!

Finding My Green Thumb

I’ve never been the best when it comes to gardening. Many a houseplant has died of neglect under my care. My mother and father, on the other hand, are some of the most talented gardeners. My childhood home was literally surrounded by flowerbeds. I remember cutting daffodils and tulips to wrap in wet paper towel and transport to teachers and bus drivers. All summer long, I waited for my parent’s garden to bear tomatoes so I could snatch them and eat them like apples. My father even built my mom a ‘P’ shaped flower bed for the letter of her first name. My mom is the person that can pretty much identify any plant and give the Latin name. I consider myself lucky I was surrounded by natural beauty everywhere I turned.

I’ve managed to keep a few geraniums alive in pots on my front porch the past couple years. This year, I also potted up a few herbs. I have enlisted the children to help with the watering, which they love. Lastly, I churned up a small area that was previously filled with weeds and planted a few tomatoes. Pulling weeds and tending to the few plants I do have has been great therapy. With all of the overwhelming tasks currently demanding my attention, being outside has always been a source of my restoration. Clipping some mint or oregano to use in my kitchen is immensely satisfying. It is a gentle and quiet task of caring for the natural world as it cares for us in return. I can only hope to pass on one small part of this to my children as we all find our green thumbs together.

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Fear of Spiders

I recently discovered I no longer have a fear of spiders. I had this realization in two parts actually. The first part happened months ago at work. I work a part-time job with many people younger in age than myself. There are many times I see just how much I do not have in common with my coworkers, which is ok actually. We had been posting a “question of the week” in the break room. Usually it would be silly things like “what superhero would you be?” and “what would you take to a desert island?” One week the question “what is your greatest fear” got posted. Most people had superficial answers like insects and flying in an airplane.

Now, these are things that people are afraid of, but are they really the worst thing that could to you on any given day? I wrote down an honest answer, “something happening to my children.” I realized, in that moment, how much becoming a parent has shaped my thought process. The fear that something will hurt or kill your child is so real and intense it cannot be ignored. Also as a parent, you see just how many close calls a kid can have. They run into the street and your heart stops. They fall down and you’re still dumfounded they didn’t break a limb.  Yes, these are all teaching moments for you and your child. To top off everything, you fear that you are failing your children as a parent on a daily, if not sometimes hourly, basis.

Next, the second part of my realization came during a weekend I spent helping clean out my parent’s home. My mother recently became ill. My siblings and I quickly saw that my parents were unable to continue living on their own without at least some support. We made the decision to move them to the city where my sister and I live. My childhood home was filled to the brim of reminders of the past. I sorted through clothing, photographs, documents, and cards from holidays, anniversaries, and birthdays. We filled two dumpsters worth of things that were broken or useless. We set aside things for donation or scrap. I primarily spent my time in my parent’s bedroom, their private respite to make the decisions that guided and shaped our lives as a family. I was able to show my children, who will be too young to remember, all my secret hiding spots. On our last night sleeping in the home, I sat with my children in the darkness of my childhood bedroom, softly rubbing their hair as my mother would do for me. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I realized this would be the last time my children and I slept in the house. I remember the hours I would stare at spiders on my wall in the night in that room, calling out eventually for one of my parents to come get it for me. It was a scary thing as a child. Now I am called to be the retriever of spiders, monsters, and anything that lurks in the darkness for my own children.

To hold responsibility for not only the lives and happiness of my children, but also to some degree my parents, has shaped my view on the things that matter. There are far worse problems coming down the pike. Be grateful for the problems you have today. The harder things still lie ahead. A Spider? Scooped up and gone in an instant.

Cookies for Breakfast 2 and the Mysteries of a Sick Kid

So my poor little sick boy (the one that got sick in public and then proceeded to throw up for another 6 hrs) now is dealing with a reoccurrence of acid reflux. This little guy, now over 2yrs old, dealt with acid reflux from 2 months of age, resolving around age 12 months. Dealing with an infant with acid reflux is draining, not to mention the ridiculous amount of laundry and cleaning after your baby has emptied the contents of their stomach for the fourth time that day.  Note: there is a big difference between spitting up (which all babies do) and actual acid reflux. That first year with my twin infants and a 1.5yr old toddler was extremely challenging. I kept looking ahead on my calendar, and saying “things will be better by Mother’s Day, The 4th of July, My Birthday…” Whether or not things had actually improved, it kept me going.

Anyhow, now after all that talk of throwing up, who has an appetite for cookies?! My next round of Breakfast Cookies came into play while my one little guy had to limit his dairy. He can have a cup of cow’s milk first thing in the morning. As the day wears on, however, his system can’t handle too much dairy. We learned this the hard way after a trip for frozen yogurt and another day with a big glass of milk an hour prior to bed. The pediatricians office confirmed that acid reflux, indeed, can come back after being sick. Currently, we are babying his tummy in hopes we can gently reintroduce milk. Coconut milk is our milk of choice. I like the higher fat content and the fortified Vitamins. My biggest worries are calories, fat, and non-dairy sources of calcium. One good non-dairy source of calcium is white beans. However, as much as I try, my two youngest don’t really love the texture of beans quite yet. Enter the use of pureed white beans in baked goods! I was a bit nervous when I tasted the raw cookie dough. (shhh don’t tell the FDA I consumed some raw egg.) However, once the cookies baked, you really could not tell the beans were even there. Also, I wanted to use coconut oil for the remainder of the base. Due to the weird heat wave, sadly my coconut oil had liquified. I used vegetable shortening this time, but will probably use coconut oil in the future. Next, I found that I was out of vanilla extract. Almond extract was the next best thing, and added a whole different direction for the cookies. Thus, I wished I had dried cherries or cranberries to pair with the almond flavor. If only I was able to keep any kind of dried fruit in stock in my house. My boys gobble up dried fruit like candy. It is nature’s candy after all.  This time, I had to use raisins, which were still suitable. Next time, I will definitely buy dried cherries just for the cookies. Long story short… I will get to the recipe.

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White Bean Breakfast Cookies

  • 1/2  Cup Pureed White Beans
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Oil or Vegetable Shortening
  • 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
  • 3 TBSP Honey (I use raw, local honey)
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Cup Almond Flour
  • 1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/4 Cup Flax Meal
  • 2 Cups Quick Cooking Oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp Almond extract
  • 2 Cups any combination of the following: dried fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips (I used 1 cup raisins and 1 cup chocolate chips this time)

Preheat Oven to 375. Line baking sheets with parchment or silpat. Drain and rinse one can of white beans (also called Great Northern or Cannellini). Place in food processor and puree until smooth. They will be thick and the consistency of shortening. Measure out 1/2 cup of the puree and place in mixing bowl. (You will have enough leftover to try another recipe. See Note at the bottom of the page.) In a medium bowl, whisk almond flour, whole wheat flour, flax meal, salt, and baking powder, breaking up any lumps and set aside. Next, add shortening or coconut oil, brown sugar, and honey into the bowl with the bean puree, and mix with either a stand mixer or hand mixer until smooth and incorporated. Then, add eggs one at a time, blending well after each. Add the almond milk and almond extract and blend. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture. Finally, fold in the oats and the 2 cups of inclusions such as dried fruit, nuts, or chocolate chips. Drop by spoonfuls on prepared sheets. Bake 10-12 mins rotating trays front to back and from the bottom shelf to the top halfway through baking. Cookies will be light brown around the edges when done. Allow cookies to cool 2 mins before removing them to cooling racks. Enjoy! Makes roughly 2 dozen.

NOTE: Pureed white beans can be used to replace a portion of the fat in baking. The ratio of substitution depends on the type of baked good. A dense item like a cookie can be a higher ratio around 75%. Meanwhile, fluffy items like cakes and muffins, I wouldn’t go higher than 50%. My next baked good will be white bean brownies, so stay tuned!

 

Crazy Sick

As a parent, I knew that this day would come…the day my child puked in public! Oh yes, the joy of all the dirty looks and chaos that accompanies a sick kid in public. Let me set the scene so you can truly enjoy the crazy.

First off, I started the afternoon by taking my parents to look at an apartment here in town. In light of their recent health challenges, my sister and I (with long distance help from my brother who is 15hrs away) are taking care of  our parents and moving them to the city where we both live. Not only are they unfamiliar with our city, which anyone would be, but they are both struggling with short-term memory issues. Thus, my husband and children dropped me off to pick up my folks. After looking at the apartment, my hubby and I met up at a nearby restaurant where we were all SUPPOSED to discuss the move. Yeah about that… kinda hard to have any sort of rational discussion while your toddler is upchucking the contents of their stomach all over the table just after the food arrived. What happened next is nothing short of chaos. First, I do not allow the wait staff to clean this up. I have them get me a bag, some towels, and a wet rag. I wouldn’t want anyone to have to deal with this when it’s not their own child. Next, we box up all the food, my hubby pays the bill, and we load everyone up. Mind you, if my parents were able to find their way back, I would have hopped in the car with the kids and hit the road. Instead, I am responsible for two extra people. My husband has to follow me back. Now my oldest starts to puke in the car. Yep, hubby is really upset. The road we need to take is under construction, and it’s rush hour. It is a perfect storm of just CRAZY!

All I can say, is this is just part of life. As a parent, you can’t control everything. How you react under the stress and pressure plays the most important part. There are some situations that you just have to roll with and do your best to keep your cool.

Well, I guess the bright side is (I hope) the next sick kid in public will be easier?! (Cringes cause I just cursed myself)

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty of Family

Sometimes in life our reality comes to an abrupt halt. It feels like we have dropped off a cliff or fallen through a worm-hole into an alternate universe. Everything you thought you knew has changed. You feel lost in the dark of this new reality. Having a child for the first time can feel like this. Most currently, my mom became suddenly ill. She went from her vibrant, cheerful, independent self, full of patience and quiet wisdom, to unable to think clearly and be an advocate for her own health and care. My siblings and  had to conduct fact-finding missions to gain insight as to what happened and relentlessly push for diagnosis and treatment. Our family did not make plans ahead of time. We all felt that my mom was/is young. We felt like we had more time to enter this phase of our life. Thus, we were completely unprepared. (Word of Advice, it’s never too early to make these types of plans!)

In the first few days of this “new reality,” every emotion hit me in waves. Just like grieving someone’s death, it is grieving the loss of the old life. In the midst of all this, there is still care my children and husband need. My children are the bright spots in all of this. I watch them play, laugh, or just hold them extra close. I do not believe children are responsible for their parents’ happiness. However, they sure do make you see the light in a heavy situation. They are beautiful reminders that life is still wonderful and good, even if the current months, days, and hours are hard to get through.

The other beauty I was able to witness: The profound love my parents have for one another. My mother had been caring for my father until this event. Now the two, unable to make it alone, still giving love and care for one another. I watched their affection for one another, and sadness at being apart. The church bells on Easter Sunday were painful reminders of where my parents would have been had all of this not occurred. Easter is a time of promise that we can come out of the darkness and into the light. Cling to hope and family. This is part of life.