Book Review and Sign Off

Dear readers, friends, family and fellow bloggers,

If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I constantly am going on large breaks from posting. I am an inconsistent blogger. I always have been and I’ve come to realize, I always will be. I have three wonderful and crazy kids. They are 10 months, almost 4, and 6 years old. I have a fantastic husband. We are involved in a terrific church. We have two extended families mostly living close by. We have a wonderful private school nearby. We live in one of the most beautiful and rich places in the whole world. We are truly and abundantly blessed.

With all of that, we have come to the realization that in order to raise the best kids we can in this post-modern, secular culture, we need to concentrate on our relationships with them. This takes time and patience, as any parent will testify. However, in the last 50 years, it takes a lot more time and patience. Our grandparents were able to raise large families with much less proactive parenting than we must today. They didn’t have the nearly as many distractions in their lives, technological or otherwise. Up until the 1950s or so, you could send your children off to play and have fun with the other kids around and be sure that your neighbours held similar moral and cultural ideas to your own. You could live simply because, quite simply, that was the only way to live. That is no longer the case.

I have just finished reading “Hold Onto Your Kids” by Vancouver psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld. I won’t go into a long review here, except to say that I wish I had read it when it first came out in 2004. It is the only “parenting” book that has ever made complete and total sense of everything. I wish I had listened to my instincts when I first came across his name and theory when Emma was a baby, 5 years ago. I wish I had gotten rid of the baby trainer books right from the start. I wish I had cultivated an intentional attachment village. I wish I had spent less time worrying about things. I hope you will all pick it up at the library or buy a copy or borrow mine and read it. It has changed the way we think. Not since God came into my life have I ever been so transformed by and convicted of anything. For those that have or will read it: it may not be “Biblical” in that there are very few scripture references or mentions of God. But look deeper, between the words into the message. The God of the universe is the God of relationship. He is relationship himself. When you understand that, it makes absolute and total sense.

I am most grateful to God that I have the chance to mend my ways. I am not perfect. Neither is my husband. Or my kids. Or anyone else in our world. Only He is. And he gives us second chances. Every day, every breath, we are redeemed and forgiven. Over and over again. And it is with this grace, this renewal, this beautiful gift, that I sign off from the blogging world. It has been great to share of myself and our family and ideas, but it is not a passion. It is not a requirement for our family. It is not an income-earner. It was a hobby and a sporadic one at that. When I got into a consistent groove, it ate up a lot of time. When I wasn’t consistent, it was constantly simmering in my mind, heaping guilt on my conscience. Of course, that comes from no one else but myself, but as I said, I am not perfect.

And so blogging world, I have left my (minuscule) mark. But that doesn’t matter. I could have left a giant crater or nothing at all and it still wouldn’t matter. God doesn’t look at what we do, He sees what it is our hearts. And we are turning our hearts towards our family, on the firm foundation of our Lord, Jesus Christ. As you meditate upon His awesome sacrifice this Easter season, ask Him, again or for the first time, to be the Lord and Master of your life. To forgive you. To redeem you. To free you. And He will – He is a faithful God, abounding in steadfast love. That’s what the cross is about.

To Him be all glory!

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Feeding a crowd with multiple dietary restrictions

I’ve been amazed lately at how many people I come across that have some sort of dietary restriction. It seems like in the past decade, food is more and more the culprit of a myriad of negative things that people suffer. In J’s family alone (in-laws included) we have a vegetarian, a gluten-free, a low-fat, and a low-sodium. On my side I have a diabetic and a recent vegan. Which means that when it comes to something as fun and festive as a child’s birthday party, feeding a crowd of dietary restrictions isn’t easy. E’s 6th birthday party last night a party which combined both families (minus the diabetic) which means no less than five different diets. Granted, vegan and vegetarian are similar, but it’s amazing how many vegetarian recipes have eggs, milk or cheese in them!

Enter one of my favourite recipes: Hawaiian Baked Beans. This is a go-to recipe for us. It is healthy, nourishing food that pleases the palate, the waistline, and the many diets of our combined families! We first had a version of this dish when I had E. A woman from church dropped off a meal one day and it was a sweet, tangy, saucy, baked bean dish. By simply searching for “Hawaiian Beans” I found many, many different versions.

This version is adapted from the one at www.ecomii.com – I usually modify it according to what I have on hand. It’s such a hit that we’re serving it at a school fundraiser next month! We got many compliments on it last night from several people including the meat eaters!. My grandmother even asked for the recipe.

Photo Credit: Juan Carlo via ecomii

Hawaiian Beans

8 Servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoons crushed red pepper
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 cup sliced scallions
few slices of bacon, chopped
1 2/3 cups shredded or finely chopped carrots
1/4 cup Mirin
2 (15 ounce cans) pinto beans
1 (14 1/2 ounce can) diced tomatoes
1 (8 ounce can) crushed or tidbit pineapple, packed in juice
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
squirt of ketchup (optional)
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

Heat oil and crushed pepper in a large pan for 1 minute. Add garlic, celery, scallions, bacon and saute 3 minutes.  Add carrots, cook 2 minutes and add Mirin. Cook mixture 5 minutes and add beans, tomatoes, and pineapple. Lower heat to medium low and add mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and yeast.  Simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice.

This can also be done in a slow cooker. Simply do the sautéing and then dump all the ingredients in the cooker. Yesterday I set mine on low for most of the day.

One of the great things about this recipe is that it is very adaptable. Vegetarian? Omit the bacon. No pinto beans? Use another kind. Need more kick? Add more spices. It is easily doubled for a large crowd, freezes well, and can be made fairly quickly on the stove or slowly in the crock pot.

We serve our Hawaiian Beans on whole grain or mixed grain rice. I cook up whatever rice is in the cupboard. Last night it was the end of the wild rice package and a bunch of brown basmati.

Enjoy this wonderful meal and you’ll feel like your on a beach even though it’s snowing outside! (at least it is at my house!)

A Christmas Letter 2011

Hope you are all gearing up for a fantastic Christmas! Today is E’s last day of school and her Christmas Concert. Then we are taking a well-deserved stay-cation! Lots of movies, pajamas, Christmas cookies, and possibly even some naps! We’ll take a hiatus from here until the new year so until then, be amazed by love that came into the world as an infant. God bless you all!

E's chalkboard nativity: Son of God, Pine, The Stable that Jesus was born in


Cookie Cutter as: Sandwich Shaper

Since I’ve not had time to bake anymore I just went with another sandwich, but really that’s fine because my daughter LOVES them in shapes. Today I present: un petit bonHAM de neige!

What a cutie! He’s made with doughy French bread, ham, cheddar and mayo, and decorated with edible food markers. E liked him so much (and she’s been eating a lot lately!) she asked to me to make her another one, so he is joined by his girlfriend today. Her lunches are mostly packed in a Goodbyn that she decorated herself. Love this lunchbox!

Well, that concludes National Cookie Cutter week, but I still have the cookie tree to post. I’ll have to get to it later. I didn’t have time to get it together before J’s party on Sunday so the cookies are in the freezer and the icing is in the fridge ready for the next get together.

Cookie Cutter as: Sandwich shaper

We’ve been having rough nights with Mr. T waking up a lot due to his cold and growth spurt, so the last 2 mornings J took E to school and let me sleep in while the other 2 kids were sleeping late. Thank you, love of my life! Yesterday, he did what I did last week and cut E a PB&J boy, so that counts as Day 4 of Cookie Cutter week. Today was CRAZY again so tonight I’ll post the cookie tree and other things…

PS: You moms of three (MOTHs) and four (MOFOs), do you ever get “back on track”? I feel like each day I get further behind in life! Some days it’s all I can do to get everyone fed and dressed and keep a moderate semblance of tidiness in the kitchen plus referee the sibling screaming.

Happy Sinterklaas!

December 5th is Sinterklaas! E got a big bag of candy at school today – that’s what you get at a private school where the majority of the parents are Dutch. The parents committee does a treat for the kids one day a month and that’s what it was for December. We didn’t get to a Sinterklaas celebration this year but J took the girls last year to the big one in New West. Unfortunately that one got cancelled this year. Anyway, we’re not huge into Sinterklaas, but we did get the girls to put their shoes by the door – they’ll find Pocky, Kinderbars and gummy bears in there in the morning. Maybe an orange too!

The Olive Press

Have you heard of Buck Denver? Jelly Telly? Phil Visscher? Veggietales? Well, Veggietales was created by Phil Visscher. He has gone on to create a new animated Christian franchise called Jelly Telly and one of the main characters is Buck Denver. Buck’s got a new DVD out called “Why do we call it Christmas?”

 

which is part of the “What’s in the Bible?” series. Have you seen it? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it, for your kids and for yourselves! You’ll find out about the history of all the different Christmas traditions we have from trees to St. Nick and Santa to Dec 25 and more. I learned as much from it as my kids did!