Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Fool-Proof Diet

I haven’t been sleeping much at night. It isn’t my twins fault. They sleep 11-12 hours a night, lucky babies! Ever since I was pregnant, I have had trouble sleeping. When I was pregnant, I chalked it up to hormones and just dealt with it, knowing the babies were worth the exhaustion. Now, the twins are 10 months old and I still cannot sleep. In the past 5 days I have had trouble sleeping at least 3 nights.

So naturally I wanted to nap today when the babies went down for their nap.  But, lo and behold, I could not fall asleep. It seemed like 5 minutes had passed before my son woke up crying. I stumbled across the hall, bleary eyed, with legs like a newborn giraffe, to the nursery. Of course my daughter decided to wake up just then also. Once I was safe to carry passengers down the staircase I took the kids downstairs and just sat there trying to wake up. It was at this moment that I had the brilliant thought “I should go eat some Oreos for the sugar rush…I need the energy.” Brilliant right? Ugh. I am disgusted with myself.

Thankfully, I never got around to eating those Oreos; the twins had other plans. By the time I made it into the kitchen it was time to prepare the kiddo’s 3:00 meal. I grabbed a ripe pear to mash for them, and man did it smell good! By the time I peeled the thing, I couldn’t resist eating it! Yes, I ate my kid’s 3:00 snack. And it was delicious. Now before you get all judge-y, know that I peeled another pear and mashed it up with a banana for the babies. And they loved it.

As I pondered my near run in with a sugar crash, I discovered a fool proof way to cut junk-food eating out of your diet. Don’t buy it. Plain and simple. Don’t bring it home. We were doing so well, eating so healthy. Then one night, I got the urge and the words popped out of my mouth, “I wish I had some Oreos.” And my husband, being the great man that he is, volunteered to go out at 9:00pm to buy me some. What a great guy. Oreos were just the gateway drug. Once we had the Oreos in the house it was all too easy to buy cheese puffs, combos, chips, soda, chocolate…and then some lovely ladies had a brunch at my house and so kindly left all the goodies with us. So then we were also eating cinnamon pecan rolls and pumpkin muffins, oh and more chocolate.

So as I found myself eating Oreos dunked in milk, followed by handfuls of cheese puffs…I was disgusted with myself. Partly for the fat and calories (empty ones might I add) but also for the chemical crap that is in them. I always feel gross after eating that kind of stuff, yet I can’t stop myself if it is in the house. Thankfully I wear yoga pants most of the day (not that I do yoga in them) so I don’t know if my waist size has increased any.

So here are my tips for not eating junk:

1.  Don’t buy it!
2.  Don’t go to the grocery store hungry.
3.  If someone offers you junk, start barking at them, or just say no.
4.  Tell your loved ones to step on your toes if you ever again say you want Wendy’s, followed by chicken McNuggets at McDonalds. Or any something like that.
5.  Stock up on healthy snacks you will actually enjoy, not what you think you should have because Dr. Oz said so. It will just mold on your counters.

Most importantly, Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Brussel Sprouts Recipe That Your Kids, and Even You, Will Love

Empty Plate With Fork And KnifeA few months ago my husband and I watched a documentary called Forks Over Knives ( which educated us on how animal based proteins actually can kill you (in a nutshell). After watching said documentary, my husband and I were convinced that we needed to stop eating all animal products; except cheese. My husband would never give up cheese. Oh, I tried to sneak him that vegan rice cheese stuff that actually “stretches like real cheese!” It did not go over well. We tried a lot of things like tofu, textured vegetable protein, vegan cheese and butter, and all the non-milk milk you could buy. We actually did well on this no animal protein “diet.” We ate a lot of vegetables, rice and pasta. This girl loves her carbs! We went months without eating meat, eggs or milk.

In this time I tried all sorts of vegetables that I may never have tried if I wasn’t starving. I learned that I could eat eggplant, spaghetti squash and acorn squash. Boy, am I sick of squash now! When you eat a diet that mainly consists of vegetables you have to learn how to “doctor them up” with spices. I regularly made a very yummy dish called Crispy Brussel Sprouts, which was handed down from my friend Crissy. This is an item that is pretty straightforward to make and the whole family may even love it; kids and adults alike.

Brussel Sprouts 2
Crispy Brussel Sprouts
Cooking time: About 30 minutes
·         1 large bag of “steam in the bag” frozen brussel sprouts (or fresh ones)
·         ¼ cup olive oil
·         Sea salt
·         Cracked black pepper

1.   Microwave steam your frozen brussel sprouts (or steam your fresh ones using a colander over a large pot with a little boiling water in it- they are done when you can stick a fork through them).
2.   Preheat oven to 350
3.   In a large bowl combine the olive oil, desired amount of sea salt, and desired amount of cracked black pepper.
4.   Once the brussel sprouts are steamed, transfer them into the olive oil/seasoning mixture in the large bowl. Using a large spoon, turn the brussel sprouts over until they are coated with the oil/seasoning mixture.
5.   Pour the brussel sprouts onto a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 15 minutes (or until the bottom side of them is browned) then turn them using tongs in order to get a nice crispness on two sides (about another 10 minutes).
6.   When done, serve and enjoy!

***If you really want to guarantee that the family will love these, after steaming the brussel sprouts try rolling them in the sea salt and olive oil (and a dash of garlic powder). Then, instead of the cookie sheet, place the brussel sprouts in a casserole dish and “sprinkle” them with cheeses that you have on hand. Mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone are always great!***

Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.

Friday, October 25, 2013

God Won’t Leave Bags of Money on Your Doorstep…

        My husband is a government employee, and I am a stay at home mom of infant twins. So we exist on one salary. Our twins were born at the end of December, 2012, and we quickly amassed a large amount of debt including two new car payments (due to the twins and one car breaking down completely) and two cesarean section birth hospital bills.

Within six months our five year old central air conditioner stopped working. After inspection it was determined that the whole unit had to be replaced, as well as the electrical powering it, plus copper pipes had to be ran through the house!! Needless to say, our budget had been officially blown with all of these new expenses plus the cost of raising twins.

So fast forward a few more months and we find ourselves in the middle of a government furlough, hoping to avoid a total shutdown. We were faced with my husband losing a little more than a week’s pay; which is big for us, since it is our only income. After the furlough ended we were relieved. Then, just recently, the entire government was shut down, and my husband was yet again off work for another week. On top of all of our newfound expenses, we were now two full paychecks short of our normal cash flow. Even after my husband was sent back to work, he had no idea when a paycheck would come.

At first I began to get worried; but then I began to pray. I began to regularly ask God to provide for us financially. Nothing happened suddenly. We didn’t hit the lottery and Publishers Clearing House didn’t show up on our doorstep. No, I was forced gently encouraged to practice patience and penny pinching. Thankfully, I know that God always comes through. Though it may not be at the speed I would like, nor look like what I would have hoped.

Habakkuk 2:3 (CEV) can be very encouraging:

At the time I have decided,
my words will come true.
You can trust what I say
about the future.
It may take a long time,
but keep on waiting—
it will happen!

See, I have discovered that God will probably not leave bags of money on my doorstep or under my pillow. However, I know that the same God who provided sustenance day by day to the Israelites (Exodus 16) is the same God who will provide for my family day by day.

This last furlough, my friend brought us fruits and vegetables from her family’s farm; they lasted us two weeks. Our neighbor and friend gave us a much needed pack-n-play for free. We received our electric bill and were shocked to see it was $0, in fact we had a credit! Tuesday, I was given the opportunity to gather tons of free clothes for my children and even some for me; winter clothes that we all needed.

Last Thursday, my husband was offered a job promotion at work, which he accepted this past Monday! (This we had been praying for over a very long time). We also found out that my husband will receive back pay for this most recent week of work he lost. So we sort of received a paid week off! Oh, and I also managed to get $165 credit back from the pharmacy for a medication I needed. And last but not least, we had a sweet friend offer to babysit our twins for free so my husband and I can go on a date.

        So no tidal wave of cash or chest full of treasure for us. Instead, God chose to show His heart of mercy and love through human flesh. He used people in our lives to bless us abundantly. It can be hard to wait and have faith that God will work on your behalf. But hold on to His word; Hebrews 13:8 assures us that God is the same today as He was when Romans 8:28 was written, promising that He will always work things for our good (however that may look.)

Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I Was Blessed By My Crying Child

Ever since my 9 ¾ month old little boy started crawling, about 1 ½ months ago, he has become very independent. He wants to explore everything. This means he needs to see it, smell it, taste it, bite it and usually throw it if he can. He is a boy through and through. He loves to play rough. He loves to hang upside down. He loves to smack things (including his twin sister which I frown upon). I am pretty sure that if we had a turnbuckle in our house he would climb it and perform a TKO move from the top.
He no longer wants to cuddle, or snuggle or be held for longer than 3 seconds (I’ve timed it). I already have visions of him asking to borrow the car and get a tattoo; there I go living in tomorrow again. But my independent, brave, fearless little boy does have one weakness…when he doesn’t feel well, he wants to cuddle, and snuggle, and be held all day. He doesn’t get sick often but lately he has been teething and so far two little teefers have popped through the surface. He is drooling and chewing and fussing like a mad man lately.
Now mind you, I don’t want my child to feel ill or be in pain, but what mommy doesn’t love it when her independent child suddenly wants to lay his head on her chest? Who wouldn’t want him to wrap his arms around her neck and burrow down for a long snuggle? Now don’t get me wrong, a child who feels bad comes with long nights, snotty noses and fits of crying and screaming  (not to mention all that the child goes through, haha!).
Thankfully, today I was gently reminded by God of several things: that there is always a silver lining, that God can use tough situations to bring joy and that life is short, so open your eyes wide to the blessings before you. After trying to get my son to nap (unsuccessfully) on and off for the last five hours, I decided to sit in his dark room and rock him. To my surprise, he obliged. He wrapped his tiny arms around my neck, laid his head on my shoulder, and began to suck his pacifier contentedly. He finally stopped crying when I got him in my arms.
I try not to give in to my crying children unless there is truly something wrong. So to hold him and soothe him was such a joy. I must add here that I haven’t slept at night in two days. I am exhausted. I usually nap when my twins nap in the afternoon. I was desperately in need of a nap after a sleepless night and a rough morning; but my son had other plans. So there I was, rocking him in his nursery, with half of my mind daydreaming about a nap for myself and silently begging and praying for my son to sleep.
And that’s when God gave me the gentle nudge as He often does, to stop and think and notice. Stop thinking about myself and the rest of the day and focus on the now. What did I notice? I realized what a rare blessing and joy it was to snuggle with my little rugged explorer; and how much time I had wasted wishing I could lay him down so that I could lay me down. At one point I leaned forward and he clung to me, afraid I would put him down. That pierced my heart; he wanted my affection so intensely.
This day has reminded me of Genesis 50:20a which says ….”You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good (NIV).” What started out as a hard and trying day, when seen through the filter of God’s word, turned into a day of hidden treasures. Next time you are having a terrible day try to take a step back and look at the situation and think, “what can I learn from this? What blessing am I overlooking?” God has already laid this day out for you; He goes before you and will be with you (Deut. 31:8). Have open eyes and a receptive heart to see what He has placed before you.
Remember to slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Live in the Moment...Take Off That Cape!


     I love seeing the world through my baby girl’s tiny hands. She is 9 ½ months old and her hands are about the size of silver dollars. Her fingers are itty bitty and always grasping. She loves to visually explore her surroundings and touch everything she sees. On days that I am wise enough to slow down and explore with her, I receive the gift of seeing the world through her unadulterated, awestruck eyes and her tiny but strong hands. Too often I rush through my days. If you asked me what happened last week, I will most likely struggle to recall it because it passed by in such a blur. Part of that is because I am a new, first time mom, to 9 ½ month old twins; part of that is because I can be too concerned with tomorrow. Tomorrow’s to do list, tomorrow’s dinner, tomorrow, tomorrow.
But what about today? What am I missing today by living in tomorrow? That adorable babble I heard from my son, I may never hear it again. The excited, full body squirmies my daughter got today…will I see that tomorrow? I strive daily to teach my children but I am finding that my infant twins are teaching me far more. Time is so precious. I want to live each day in the present, fully present.
One of my greatest enemies is technology; the second is a woman’s keen ability to multitask. There is the television, iPad, iPhone, computer, and kindle; so many things to steal my attention. And then there is multitasking. While trying to play with my kids I often find myself trying to cook, or look up a recipe, or upload photos of how cute my kids are to a social networking site. Oh, and then there are the household tasks like vacuuming and dusting, etc. All the while trying to be a part of my children’s world.
Sometimes you just have to come to a point where you let go. Let go of your to-do list. Let go of your notion that you have to be super mom and Martha Stewart. You will constantly be down on yourself if you don’t, and you and your family will suffer the consequences. So many websites, television programs, magazines, blogs and books tell you what you need to do to be a “good mom” or they show you how perfect Sally Sue is. And to be honest, sometimes those things make me feel inferior. They make me look at my friend Sally Sue, who is sewing her kids clothes and growing all their vegetables and using cloth diapers and saving the universe…and I feel envious, and less than, and I begin to question my own mothering abilities. And then I start to chastise myself about how I could do a better job and what can I do to be more like her? But it isn’t Sally Sue’s fault. She just happens to post all of her (and her miracle super child’s accomplishments) on
          What it really comes down to is who are you letting define motherhood for you? So today, I challenge you and myself to take off our Super Mom cape, lay down our Martha Stewart apron and just spend time drinking in the miracle that is our children. Watch their facial expressions as they play. Ask them questions and listen to their answers (even if it is just babbling), and respond. Ask them what they would like to do today, and try to accommodate it. Attempt to see the wonder through which they see every day. Order a pizza if you have to, wear swimsuit bottoms if you don’t have any clean underwear, put socks on and slide around on the hard floors if they are dirty and covered in dog hair and a little drool (as mine are) and you just may clean them up in the process!
          But really, enjoy this day. We are never promised tomorrow. If you really want to live on the edge, eat dessert first tonight! (It will blow your families mind).

You are a good mom. You love your kids. You sacrifice daily for them, sometimes moment by moment.

Slow down and enjoy the fruits of your labor and love on a daily basis and you will start to see life as a Mama on the Bright Side.