Friday, February 24, 2012

Bedtime Blessings

It was a "pulling my hair out" kind of day today.

What can I say. Eli's two. I don't really believe in the "terrible twos," and he's not obnoxious or anything, he's just a very active little boy. He runs. He jumps. He shoots things. He's impetuous, and acts without thinking - like any two year old.

Ready for church

We got off to a rough start when I discovered that he'd finished off the bottle of children's vitamins while he was supposed to be putting silverware in the drawer. Thankfully there were only a few left in the bottle so nothing to worry about, but still exasperating.

Then a couple hours later he had an accident and wet his undies. He very rarely has accidents anymore, but they do still happen when he forgets to take the time to go. It wouldn't have been such a big deal except that he just so happened to be standing over his little brother at the time.

A happier moment

I came running to find Theo's hair soaked in urine. It was dripping down his face. One eye was bloodshot, and it was in his mouth. He wasn't upset about it, just a bit confused - I was fuming.

The day continued as it often does, with multiple "time outs" and other disciplining. We headed off to Awana after supper and the small break from my sweet little boy gave me a little perspective. The past few weeks he's been praised for his good behaviour in his class and this week was the same. I brought him home and got him ready for bed thankful that he's as relatively well behaved as he is.

As I tucked him in we prayed together. We thanked God for the day and for Awana, and prayed that Eli would be better able to listen to Mommy and Daddy so he wouldn't have so many time outs. When I finished, he spoke up. "Eli pway, Mommy?"

Of course I told him to go right ahead!

"Deah Gott. Fank you [another little boy at Awana]. Pwease him lisen, no have time outs. Jesus, Amen."

One of his friends at Awana had apparently had to have a time out this evening and Eli was concerned for him.

Cue my heart melting.

It was a rough day, but bedtime blessings make it all worthwhile. Remind me I said that when I'm pulling my hair out again tomorrow!

Two sweetest boys in the world.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

I Bring My Husband Breakfast in Bed

And I'm not going to apologize for it! 

As I was mentally crafting this post in my head I found myself coming up with excuses and explanations as to why I bring my husband his breakfast in bed five days a week so that he wouldn't come across as controlling or egotistical and I wouldn't come across as weak or a pushover.

It looks like this, every morning! [not]

But then I realized that feminism was infecting my mind again.

There's no need to apologize or make excuses for serving our husbands. If my husband brought me breakfast in bed five days a week everyone would think he was the most wonderful man ever born.

But when a woman does it, people assume that her husband forces her too. They would say things like "Make him get his own breakfast!" or "You're not his servant, stand up to him!"

Well no, I'm not his servant. But I am his helper, and breakfast in bed is something that works for our family.

I'm the morning person around here. My alarm goes off at six, and after the initial staggering across the room to turn it off and shaking the fuzz out of my brain, I get excited. From six to seven the dark quiet house is all mine. I snuggle into my housecoat, put on a pot of coffee, curl up in the cozy recliner and it's just me and God for a little while. Then I check my e-mails and/or Facebook, and Eli gets up around seven. He gets to watch Sesame Street when he first gets up, so while he's occupied with Elmo and Big Bird I can unload the dishwasher and make our breakfast smoothies.

Then I can go into our room, turn on the lamp, wake my husband with a kiss and a snuggle and we sit in bed and drink our smoothies together, chatting about the day. Theo usually wakes up around this time and then Eli's show ends and he joins us too. The four of us snuggled in bed together is one of my favourite times of the day. It usually disintegrates into a wrestling match because Eli is incapable of sitting still for very long, but that's fun too!

This works for our family. Cory's not a morning person and struggles to get out of bed in the morning. Bringing him his smoothie in bed has ironed out the huge wrinkle in our lives that was wake-up time. Instead of sitting around the table seething because I told him 20 minutes ago that it was breakfast time!! we have peace and enjoyment.

Obviously this wouldn't work for everybody. But for us, for this season - I bring my husband breakfast in bed. And it's great.

Recipe time!

Cory and I have slightly different tastes, and I'm trying to keep my smoothie dairy free, so here's what we each have every morning. Eli and Theo have Cory's recipe too.

Cory's Banana-Berry Smoothie

1 cup raw cows or goats milk
1/3 cup plain homemade yogurt
2 big handfuls organic baby spinach
1/2 organic banana
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup organic frozen raspberries
1/2 cup organic frozen blueberries

Emily's Nut-Berry Smoothies

1 cup organic almond milk
2 big handfuls organic baby spinach
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 tbsp unsweetened coconut
2 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup organic frozen raspberries
1/2 cup organic frozen blueberries

You might notice some flaked almonds and half an avacado in the pictures above. I add the almonds if I don't have pumpkin seeds because I love the crunch. I'll throw in half an avacado into my smoothie if I have one, but not all the time. Cory hates avacado, but I hate banana!

What about you? How does breakfast work in your family? Do YOU have a favourite smoothie recipe? Please share!


Linking up to: Growing Home, Far Above Rubies, Raising Homemakers, Homemakers Challenge, Raising Mighty Arrows, Time-Warp Wife, An Original Belle

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Skirt-Wearing Secrets

I'm really getting into this skirt-wearing thing.

Now don't worry, I'm not going to go all "churn my own butter" on you.

Except wait... I do churn my own butter sometimes.


I call skirt-wearing my "Little House on the Prairie Syndrome." When I wear a skirt, I work harder at my housework. I know it's all in my head, but it still happens. There's something so domestic about it. So ladylike. So comfy.

At least it is now that I've discovered my favourite trick for winter skirt wearing! More about that later...

skirt - Smart Set

Just wanted to show you my "outfit of the day." We're going to the museum later today (free for the month of February!), but this is also something I would just wear around the house. Minus the shoes - I'm usually barefoot whenever possible.

I feel like the glasses and the nose ring keep me from descending into frumpy mommy-fashion. The nose piercing was a slightly rebellious eighteen-year-old decision. I say slightly rebellious because while I may not have had my parent's approval, I did have their permission. Lucky for me Cory LOVES it, so it stays for the time being.

Oxfords - Ardene ($3)
I love these cheapo shoes.

But I promised I would share my favourite winter skirt-wearing tip. Men-folks: I'm about to talk about ladies undergarments. Go away.

My problem with skirts in the winter has never been the skirts themselves, but the tights underneath. I'm not exactly a tall woman (5' 6"), and I'm definitely not a large woman, so why - for goodness sake - won't tights stay up on me? They slip! They slide! I'm constantly hitching (which is far from ladylike). Honestly this is probably the main reason I only tolerate a skirt or dress for a few short hours on Sunday morning and then pull my jeans back on as soon as I get home from church. I can't stand the constant feeling of losing my tights!

But I've found a solution! A pair of those high-waisted, "slimming" underwear pulled on over the tights. I just bought a cheap pair and don't really find that they're very slimming, but they sure hold my tights up! I love them. I feel like a whole new world of wardrobe choices has opened up to me now that I don't have to worry about hiking up my tights constantly.

So that's what I've been wearing lately. I feel comfy, feminine, and still a little funky. I am only 22, after all.

Check out my Style pinboard for more outfits that I love and/or am inspired by.

What's your style? Do you have any favourite tips for making your clothes comfier? Do you have a style board on Pinterest for me to check out? Leave a comment!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Finding Balance

I recently read a blog post over at Crunchy Betty about finding your moderation.

Her post, and others that I've read recently in the blog world, got me thinking. 

Where is my limit?

What is my balance?

Where should I draw a line and where should I be flexible?

Obviously these are questions that must be asked of every area of your life, but I'm talking about nutrition here. The stuff we put into our mouths. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, every day. 

Sometimes it can become overwhelming. The more I learn, the more I sometimes want to throw my hands up in despair and buy store-bought bread and fruit-roll-ups. I'll be honest, I miss granola bars in convenient packages. I miss canned soup, I miss packaged cereal, and I miss our weekly date with a frozen pizza. 

A lot of my heath decisions have been based on money just as much as nutrition - DIY-ing is a heck of a lot cheaper sometimes. But sometimes it's not. 

Let's take the humble tomato.


It's so simple and easy to crack open a can of diced tomatoes and dump it into your meal, and it's certainly cheap. But canned tomatoes, because of their acidity, are one of the WORST foods for containing BPA. So this fall I canned my own. It was a lot of work, kind of expensive, and I ran out after just a few short months. So I went back to the store-bought cans. Lately I've been experimenting with just buying fresh tomatoes and blanching, peeling, chopping, and adding those to recipes that call for a can of tomatoes. It's about twice as expensive as a can and is way more work, but at least I know I'm not filling my sweet little boys with BPA. 

But here's one of my main issues (I have many): What about when we go out? What about at friend's houses, at church, when we're in town and need lunch... what about those times? What am I going to compromise on and what do we avoid at all costs?

I've been pretty laid back about it up until this point. Since we have almost no "compromise foods" actually in the house, I've relaxed and let that be licence to eat whatever we went when we're not at home. But you're looking at at least two or three times a week in that case.

White flour. White sugar. Processed meats, fake cheese, soy products, unhealthy fats like margarine and vegetable oil. Hydrogenated... trans fats... artificial sweeteners... *shudder*.

But at the same time I don't want to be "That Mom." The one who brings her own snacks for her children, turns her nose up at what's offered her and won't let her kids sample the birthday cake.

At some point, you have to let kids be kids.

BUT at the same time, it's also our job as parents to protect our children from dangerous things. As hard as Theo tries, I don't let him suck on the power bar. Physical dangers have more immediate and visible consequences, but the dangers of a poor diet are far reaching.

I've been very lenient thus far, but even I have my limits. There are certain things that drive me CRAZY and I'm willing to make a stand about.

Beverages are a constant source of irritation for me. All I can think of when I see a tall glass of pop or "juice" is the incredible amount of sugar (and other chemicals) contained therein. Even juice made from 100% fruit contains a LOT of sugar, and is stripped of the fibre that fruit would naturally contain. I almost always say no to pop, kool-aid, sports drinks, and juice - even the "real" juice.

There's really only one thing that's an ABSOLUTE NO on my list of "naughty" foods.

Artificial Sweeteners. Mostly in the form of diet foods. Anything labeled "sugar-free" or "no added sugar" needs to be checked out. Powdered drink mixes, jello, diet yogurts, gum, candy, etc.

I don't want them crossing my children's lips. Diet sodas are an absolute no-way-never kind of thing. I would FAR rather they drink a regular soda than a diet.

Katie from Kitchen Stewardship recently posted a great article talking about different artificial sweeteners. You should definitely check it out if you have more questions, she has great links to her sources all through.

There are a few other things that, although they aren't on the "totally banned" list, I reeeeally don't want my family consuming and want to get better at avoiding.

  • Margarine. If there's no butter, eat your bread/vegetables plain. It's not worth it. 
  • Hotdogs and other highly processed meats. There are usually burgers or chicken at a summer BBQ - we'll go for those instead. 
  • Mayonnaise, Miracle Whip and equivalents. I make my own mayo with healthy olive oil, and sunflower oil is another good option, but store bought mayo - even if it says olive oil on the package - is still mostly vegetable oil. 
  • Salad dressings. I'm not good at this one, I love dressing on my salad. I even think that a good dressing is important because the combination of fat and acid helps your body more readily digest all those raw veggies. But again, number one ingredient on most store bought salad dressings? Soybean oil. 
  • All fast food. This one goes without saying, but it's hard when we're in town running errands and hunger strikes. I either need to get better at planning ahead and bringing food with us, or we need to compromise on some place that does not have golden arches. Subway can be ok... (but all that bread and dressing?). I hear we have a Pita Pit opening up soon, thinking that may become our new go-to place. 

So there's my list. My thoughts. I'm not nailed down on all this yet, and I don't want to become the diet Nazi, but these are just a few things I've been thinking about lately.

Now, I want to hear from you!

How do you find balance when it comes to yours and your children's diets? Do you let them eat what they want when you go out? Are there any "ABSOLUTE NO" foods? Let me know.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Family Purpose Statement

I've been reading through Tsh Oxenreider's organizational e-book One Bite at a Time - 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler. It's a great read.

And ok, I haven't really done very many of the projects yet. A few I already did, but mostly I think to myself What a great idea! That would really make life so much simpler! 

And there it stays. 

BUT, Cory and I did sit down together one night and hammer out our family purpose statement. Maybe it's a little corny, but I agree with Tsh that it's important. Sure we might have the same broad goals, but it was really good for us to sit down and ask what those broad goals will look like as they are accomplished through our family. Nobody's family is the same, so no two families will have the same purpose statement. 

We used this website to get us started, then tweaked and changed things around. Here's what we came up with.

Vail Family Purpose Statement

As a family we are at our best when each member of the family is striving to live by grace through faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. 
We will try to prevent times when we attempt to live by our own strength – allowing selfish desires to wage war in our flesh. 
We will find more time with each other to intentionally serve God by serving others. 
We will help each family member by listening, being patient, spurring one another on towards love and good deeds, and by reminding one another of the Gospel. 
 We will help others by giving to and serving in the church, and by practicing hospitality. 
 We will stop procrastinating and start working on: sharing the Gospel with others, fulfilling our God-given roles and "reverse-engineering" our lives. 
 We will be viewed as a family that is tightly knit, compassionate, hospitable, gracious and loving. 
We will constantly renew ourselves by focusing on: worship, exercise, nutrition, learning, and fellowship. 
We will make choices and decisions based on: God’s word, the Holy Spirit’s leading, and wise council. 
We will remember that it is all about Jesus.

That's our statement. It's in a Word document on our computer, but now I need a way to display it

We want it to be visible in our home so that we can point to it regularly. When we want to eat chips and watch TV, we can point to item number eight. When we discipline our children, we can point to the second item. When we have a tough decision to make, we can remind ourselves of the tenth item. 

But I'm NOT creative. I have no idea how to put this up, except maybe to type it up in a pretty font and frame it. That may be what I end up doing, but I would love to find something even prettier. 

If your family has a purpose statement, leave me a link. I'd love to read it! And if you have a good idea for a way to display it, let me know. 

Linking up to: Raising Homemakers, Homemaker's Challenge, Raising Mighty Arrows, Our Simple Country Life