Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Every Baby Comes with a Loaf of Bread

Don't worry, this isn't a soap-box on having as many children as you can! If you were hoping for a soap-box, here's all I've got for you: I've known many families who have had surprise babies and I think in those circumstances this little phrase is easiest seen. God loves babies. If he gives you one, He also provides - perhaps not what you want or the way you want it - but rather what He knows you need. 'Nuff said.

I just want to briefly mention an example of how I've seen this "truism" in our life and also what I felt called to do for Lent this year. Yes, they're related.

What I've noticed quite distinctly is that with every child added to our family, my cooking skills take a step up. Yeah, sounds kinda trivial doesn't it? I have to laugh when I think that our little "loaf of bread" is a momma who gets more and more competent in the kitchen.

Considering the various food allergies each of my kiddos has, not to mention my own recent foray into a gluten-free lifestyle, this increase in kitchen competence is no small grace!

So, for Lent this year, I felt called to do something that didn't seem particularly Lenten: to really engage in an effort to cook meals that could be eaten by every member of our family. Previously, I had been making variations on a theme to suit everyone's needs - and there are times that's the best I can do - but to make those 4 different meals every. single. day. was wearing on me. I must admit, it seemed like cheating to take on something for Lent that would (hopefully) make my life easier. But I suppose our Lenten sacrifices are meant to lead us to deeper freedom, so I guess this counts, right?

I knew that it was truly the Lord's inspiration when it started happening so easily! I would stumble across blogs that had recipes for all sorts of things I would never had thought I could make for everyone - like creamy sauces! These recipes have been springboards for all sorts of allergen-free possibilities.

My fear - really the fear that had held me back from doing this earlier (aside from the fear of bland food, which also turned out to be baseless!) - was that our grocery bill would be through the roof. In reality I've found this isn't the case. I'm more aware of what ingredients I use, but that hasn't translated to increased expense, at all!

So, this Lent has provided me with an increased repertoire of family-friendly meals. Cost hasn't increased, and at almost every meal I've heard my picky eaters exclaiming, "This is my favorite meal ever, can we have this again?!"

If you're interested in some of the recipes I've been using, you can find them at the recipe blog I share with my sisters: Three Cooking Sisters.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Incentive for Young Children

I was inspired by this blog post, by a mom who came up with a genius idea of how to motivate her children to clean their rooms without her constant nagging!

She uses a jar full of coins for each child and if their room doesn't pass inspection every day, a coin is removed. At the end of the month, the remaining coins are theirs to spend as they please.

Now, my kiddos are too young to appreciate a jar of coins with all its possibilities. In addition, I don't think I'm quite ready to give money to my kids to spend frivolously.

So, Skittles it is!

My twist on it is:

At the beginning of each week, I'll put 10 (?) Skittles in a separate jar for each child.

Each time they are asked to tidy up, be it the living room, their bedroom, etc. a timer will be set. If the area is not tidied in the allotted time, a Skittle will be removed from their jar.

Additionally, I'll come up with a voluntary chore system by which they can earn a Skittle or two for their jar by completing the chore to my satisfaction (number pre-determined by the effort required to complete the chore).

- Dusting
- Matching socks
- Sweeping the floor

You get the idea.

On Sunday, they will be able to eat all the Skittles in their jar.

I welcome feedback. Have you tried something similar? How did it work for you?

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Isaiah 55:8

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord.

Not long ago, I posted this on Facebook: 

Little did I know I would soon be shown an example of this from my own life.

A bit of background:

We are looking forward to a family trip overseas to visit Mark's parents, brother, uncle, get the picture. There are a number of people in Scotland that we are so excited to see! Sadly, this trip comes as a result of a health concern involving one of these people. Prayers for a full recovery are welcome!

Did I mention I'm pregnant? Fortunately, I will be able to "get in under the wire" as far as air travel is concerned - being not quite far enough along for travel to be prohibited. (Not to mention the amazing pregnancy I've been experiencing, with superb progesterone levels and not a hint of pre-term labor! Thank you Jesus and a gluten-free diet!)

Our travel window is defined by the above, the treatment plan for the ill person, Annie's 2nd birthday, before which she is 10% of an adult ticket, and Mark's work schedule. Needless to say, we had a number of rather important things to work around in order to find this window.

God knew this. 

And how does all this relate to my Facebook post?

Crazy Catholics children-loving people that we are, Mark and I were hoping for baby #4 for a few months before she finally graced us with her presence. I love having our children close in age and Annie was getting older by the month, resulting in our longest space between our children yet (19 m, 20 m, and now 26 m). I know, probably still Irish-twin status according to the rest of the world!

Now, I certainly don't want to make light of this baby's existence by assuming that the sole reason God waited longer than we would've to give her to us was so that I could fly overseas. However, I do recognize and marvel in this small part of His plan which allows:

a) Me to travel (I'm not too far along in my pregnancy)
b) Annie to be old enough to be not quite as much of a hand-full, but still not full fare.
c) We won't be traveling with a newborn in tow

If we had received the blessing of baby #4 when I wanted, none of the above would be the case. So, there you have it - God ruined all my plans month after month only to give me His plan in His time, which allows for us to visit overseas during the window of time that's available to us.

Thank you God for having a plan that was better than always.