Friday 31 May 2013

Top Ten Tips for Traveling with a Toddler

 We recently returned from a week-long vacation on the east coast of Canada with my side of the family - and let me tell you, we learned a thing or two about traveling with a toddler!  So here are our top ten (in no particular order):

  • Be prepared for puke.  Sorry to start with such a gross one, but it really was a stand-out event of the trip - a three time stand out event.  Jake threw up twice in the car and once in the plane, and we are pretty sure that all three times it was due to motion sickness.  We didn't see it coming at all, but in retrospect we realized there were signs.  Usually he's happy to eat anything, especially his favourite snacks, and he wasn't taking any.  As well, especially on the plane, he seemed to be crying for no reason.  We were so focused on thinking it were his ears bothering him, that we never considered it was his stomach.  So!  Have a plastic bag and wipes on hand, always have a change of clothes or two available, and look for the warning signs!

  • Bring some (old) new toys.  Pick some up at a secondhand store, or pull out some they haven't seen for a while.  Select a few small, interesting toys to present during long car rides.  One couple I knew who flew to Australia had tiny dollar store type toys wrapped for every hour of the 20+ trip! 

  • Go with extended family, if possible.  Along with us were my mom, dad and younger brother.  It was so great to have all those extra pairs of hands, and that meant we had a chance to do some things on our own as well.  Jake loved it too, as there was always someone who was fresh and happy to give him some attention and show him the interesting sights.

  • Involve your toddler in the sightseeing!  Don't think just because they won't remember, they aren't worth showing.  Jake had a GREAT time watching a fox up close, putting his feet in the ocean, and toddling around downtowns.  All brand new experiences he would have missed if we thought it wasn't worth taking the time to show him!  Point out little things and big things, tell them where you're going and where you've been.  Treat them like one of the adults - it will make them feel great and they will learn so much!

  • Give up your schedule.  We have a pretty good routine going here at home, with naps at 9am and 1pm and regular mealtimes and bedtime.  Although we tried to make sure Jake got a good amount of sleep, and of course enough food - hardly anything happened on his regular schedule, and this was fine.  In fact it was fabulous, everyone enjoyed themselves and we were confident that Jake was still getting what he needed.  Now that we're back home, it's back to our regularly scheduled program!

  • Laugh!  Unexpected things are bound to happen, and as long as everyone is safe - instead of getting frustrated it is better just to laugh about the memories you're making!  At one point when Andrew, Jake and I and my brother were sharing a room, we were trying to allow Jake to fall asleep in the room without the distractions of us being in there.  So we all hid out in the bathroom.  A very small bathroom!  It wasn't how my brother expected to spend an evening of his vacation, but we all smiled about it, snapped a picture, and now it makes a great story!  (After Jake fell asleep we did all go back into the main room!)

  • Be consistent in your training.  This one we've learned the hard way.  Jake basically returned from the vacation having forgotten the rules that keep him safe, healthy and happy.  One week of basically having a free-for-all, with few consequences, seems to have temporarily (we hope) undone the training we've been working so hard at. So our advice to you - remain consistent.  It may be harder, and sure you want there to be considerations for it being a special occasion, but make sure your toddler knows there are still boundaries in place.

  •  Maintain a close walk with God and your spouse.  It is easy to get caught up in all the activities of a vacation, and put aside your relationship with God and your spouse.  Make sure you take time to come to the Lord as a family, in prayer and Bible reading, as you would at home.  And also take time to nurture your relationship with your spouse.  Remember - your marriage is the foundation of your family, so keeping it strong is one of the best things you can do for your toddler!

  • Whatever happens, don't panic!  If you forget the soother - you can always buy one!  If you run out of diapers on the plane, find another young mom and ask her for one!  You're covered in puke?  Nothing a shower and a change of clothes can't fix!  It rains the whole week?  At least you're enjoying the rain as a family!  Whatever your vacation throws at you, remember that it's probably not worth fretting over.  Take pictures and rest assured you will certainly laugh about it in the future!

Share your tips for traveling with children in the comments below!

Back in sunny Ontario,
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Linked up at A Mama's Story, The Modest Mom, Growing Home, Above Rubies,  Deep Roots At Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Walking Redeemed, Graced Simplicity, Raising Mighty Arrows

Friday 24 May 2013

Good Morning Muffins: A tasty breakfast packed with natural protein, fruits and a veggie!

We're blessed to be on vacation this week, and on my list of to-do's for the day before we left was to come up with a healthy muffin that could stand alone as a breakfast for our early flight the next morning!  It was a formidable challenge, but I was up to the task.  And I must say, these turned out A-MAZING!  They are moist, flavourful, and packed with healthy ingredients!

A rainbow of healthy ingredients!
Pre-heat oven to 375F.

Mix together the following dry ingredients:
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup bran flakes
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/4 cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Mix the wet ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup applesauce (or two eggs - I was out of them)
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 cup peeled, shredded apple
  • 1 tsp vanilla
Lastly, mix in the extras:
  • 1/4 cup chopped dates
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate cocoa nibs
Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Note on substitutions:  You can substitute any of the "special" dry ingredients for any other, just make sure you're using the same amount in total.  Similarly with the extras, which you could substitute with nuts, raisins, or any other dried fruit.  Also if you prefer, I think you could leave out the butter.

(I used this recipe as my base muffin recipe.)

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Tuesday 21 May 2013

Whole Wheat Thin Crust Pizza Dough

We LOVE homemade pizza, and I especially love it because it is so easy to make, and there is so much variety to be had!  When I first started making pizza dough, it was classic fluffy white dough.  Andrew much prefers it thin crust, and since we had been switching over to using whole wheat flour more regularly, it evolved into this crust, which we really prefer!  If you love white and fluffy, this might not be the dough for you!

It's really a pretty basic recipe, and the original one came from the little cookbook that came with my Kitchenaid (a wedding present!).   I make it in the mixer, which makes it really easy, but I'm sure you could do it by hand too.

You'll need:
  • 1 cup warm water (105F-115F*)
  • 1-2 tsp traditional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 - 3 1/2  cups whole wheat flour
*I used to take the temperature of the water, but now I know to use our tap's hottest setting.  It is just above being too hot to keep your hand in.

  1. Warm up the bowl by swishing around some warm water in it.  Add 1 cup warm water.
  2. Immediately add 1-2tsp of yeast, depending on how much you'd like your crust to rise. 
  3. Give it a little stir, and add 1/2 tsp oil and 2 tsp olive oil.  
  4. Add 2 1/2 cups of whole wheat flour, and mix for about one minute on low speed. 
  5. Gradually add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time.
This is where you gotta get a little touchy-feely with the dough.  Using whole wheat flour I rarely add the whole 3 1/2 cups of flour, or if I do I end up adding water later.  You don't want your dough to be sticky, but like a nice lump.  It should stick to the kneading hook of the mixer, but sometimes if it isn't I just grab it off and finish kneading it together by hand.

Now you can put it back in the bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and let it rise for up to an hour, or you can make it right away!  I roll mine out using a pin, which makes it really easy.  Sprinkle some flour or cornmeal on the pan before you transfer it, to prevent it from sticking.

After you have added sauce and toppings, bake for 15-20 minutes at 425F.

Look forward to an upcoming post on our favourite topping combinations - it can get pretty crazy! :)

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Linked up at  The Modest Mom, Growing Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, 

Thursday 16 May 2013

Why Feminism Won't Prevent Violence Against Women (and what will) - Part 2

In Part One, we evaluated the TED Talk which was allegedly going to make all men feminists

Why Feminism Isn't The Answer

Feminism doesn't inspire men to stand up and be the men God has called them to be.  Feminism works towards eradicating any differences between the role of men and women in our society. I do not deny that many feminists are concerned with violence against women, but preventing it is not one of the goals of feminism, and is not likely to be an end of it either.

Back in my feminist days, I decided to join our city's Take Back the Night march - an event to raise awareness about violence against women, and work towards a community where women can safely walk outdoors after dark.  I was planning on going with two friends, one female and one male.  When we arrived at the event, our male friend was told he was not welcome to join in the march - it was a "women only" event.  The organizers had a "we don't want your help" attitude, even towards men who were willing to stand in solidarity with women towards the goal of creating a safer environment.

This is just one example which shows how feminism not only alienates men, even the ones who want to help, but is working against itself in preventing violence against women.  There will always be men who make it unsafe for women to walk around at night, what we need are more men who are willing to be the protectors of those women - men who aspire to biblical manhood.

The Solution: The Biblical Model 

Throughout the Bible we see that God emphasizes the value of both sexes, along with the distinctness of men and women, which leads to a framework for preventing violence against women. 
  • The Bible holds women in equal worth to men, both made in God's image and given the task together of taking dominion over creation.  People who claim Christianity makes women less than men need read no further than Genesis 2 to see otherwise.
  • Husbands are called to love their wives and sacrifice for them as Christ loves the Church!  That is PERFECT love.  There is no other culture or religion which calls men to such a high standard with regards to their wives. 
  • The Bible puts men in a role of protector and provider for the women under their authority (wives, daughters, or in the case of the church, widows and orphans).  This is not a power trip, it is a huge responsibility.
It is men like this who are going to stop the trend of violence against women, and I know many of them.  I am blessed to be married to a man who understands his role before God, and without needing any "leadership" or "sensitivity" training, will stand up against men who speak hatefully or disrespectfully about women.  And do you know why? Because he was raised under biblical truths.

So Where Do We Start?

The speaker talks about how we shouldn't be putting the responsibility on teenage boys, but on grown men.  However, if we want teenagers to grow into men who will stand up for what is right - we need to begin teaching them long before they are adults.  I believe the number one thing you can do to prevent violence against women is raise up your sons with a true biblical understanding of the value of women, and the role of men.   With this as their foundation, they will not need to be told to stand up against violence towards women - it will be the only thing that makes sense to them.

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Linked up at  The Modest Mom, Growing Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family,

Tuesday 14 May 2013

Why Feminism Won't Prevent Violence Against Women (and what will) - Part 1

I recently watched this TED Talk which was apparently going to make all men feminists.  As a former feminist, I was intrigued - what argument could be so compelling?

As it turned out, the video was about violence towards woman.  Jackson Katz, the man giving the talk, started an organization which works with male groups in the military, athletics, and other areas to try and change the culture of violence towards women.   The way he is attempting to do this is through "leadership training" to encourage men to speak up when wrong comments are made about or towards women, hoping to change the overarching attitude of our culture.

This is all very good.  And he never claims to be trying to turn men towards feminism - so it is funny that this comment was what made the video go viral. 

Wrong Foundations

To begin, although many of his applications are good, he is working on some wrong premises:
  1. He doesn't recognize sin as the problem.  He essentially asks "Why have men always been violent?", and never provides an answer.  He says perpetrators are "normal guys", not "sick and twisted". The Bible, on the other hand, teaches us that we are all twisted by sin: "None is righteous, no, not one...Their feet are swift to shed blood, in their paths are ruin and misery." (Romans, 3:10-16) Ever since the fall, sin has been causing men to act violently (eg. Cain and Abel), and the only REAL solution is Jesus Christ (Romans 3:23-24).
  2. This leads to his second major error, which is that he seems to think he has found the solution to the problem. Yes, we SHOULD work towards encouraging mercy and peace and justice - but the only way we can find real healing is through Jesus Christ, and it is only by the Holy Spirit working in us that we can begin to look more like God (Isaiah 53:4-5, 2 Cor 3:18)
However, he got one thing very right: men have a responsibility to stand up for women.  They should be leaders in stopping the culture of disrespect towards women.  This isn't what feminism calls for, this is what biblical manhood calls for.

Come back on Thursday  to read why feminism isn't the answer, and how the Bible lays out a framework which is, in Part 2.

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Linked up at A Mama's Story, The Modest Mom, What Joy Is Mine,  Growing Home, Above Rubies,  Deep Roots At Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Walking Redeemed, Graced Simplicity, Raising Mighty Arrows

Friday 10 May 2013

The "Daddy's Coming Home!" Clean-Up

Tidiness is really not one of my strong points, so by mid-afternoon our house can look pretty chaotic!  However, I know that Andrew appreciates a tidy home and so I like to try and do a quick clean up shortly before he arrives.  It doesn't take very long (anywhere from 5-20 minutes), and the goal really is just to TIDY, not clean.

Today I put the timer on for 20 minutes to accomplish this goal and it only took me 15, even with washing the dishes.  I took some before and after photos so you could see what the state of the place was before, and the level of "tidy" we were aiming for after!

Here's a look at the kitchen:

As you can see, a big part of the quick clean-up is making this a snack-time for our toddler!  In his highchair he is much less able to undo the clean-up, and it allows me to focus for a concentrated amount of time on the task-at-hand!  

And the living room...

One of the main ways I am able to accomplish this quick clean is by having "buckets".  Pictured below you can see we have three cubbyholes in the bookshelf allotted for Jake's toys and books.  This means I can just toss them all in there, and voila - his toys are tidied!  We have a similar system for his stray clothes, shoes, and diapers with a little basket beside the couch where those things go. 

You can also see a little magazine box where I put any library books and miscellaneous notebooks, and there's a photo of raw ground beef because at this point I try to make sure I have something planned for dinner!  (That night we had one of our favourite last-minute meals!)

I try to do this clean-up close enough to when Andrew will be home that Jake won't make a big mess again, and neither will I!  Obviously there will be a few toys out, and I've usually started making dinner, but having a clean slate makes a huge difference. If I'm still wearing pajama pants at this point....I usually try and put on something a little nicer :)

And lest I make anyone feel guilty, please understand that this doesn't happen all the time, in fact I'm not sure it happens most of the time.  The day after I took these photos, we were gone all day and came home to a counter full of dishes and couches full of (clean) laundry.  I heaved a sigh, laughed about the irony of this post, and then rolled up my sleeves and got to it!  I'm just trying to help people like me! :)

What are your tips for doing a quick clean-up at the end of the day?

Additional Resources:
10 Tips for a Quick "Tidy-Up Time"
15 Quick Cleaning Fixes
Toy Storage for Small Spaces
Keeping Your Home "Company Ready" Without the Stress

Happy tidying :)
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Linked up at A Mama's Story, The Modest Mom, What Joy Is Mine,  Growing Home, Above Rubies,  Deep Roots At Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Walking Redeemed, Graced Simplicity, Raising Mighty Arrows

Tuesday 7 May 2013

Joie De Vivre Parenting!

"Joie de vivre", literally translated, means "joy of living", but I like how it is explained here:
can be a joy of conversation, joy of eating, joy of anything one might do… And joie de vivre may be seen as a joy of everything, a comprehensive joy, a philosophy of life. (Wikipedia)
Isn't this how we should feel about parenting?!  Oh yes, sometimes there will be hard moments, and we'll be tired, and I'm not saying we must always feel happy - but our goal should be to approach our role as parents with joie de vivre - a comprehensive joy towards our children and our responsibility in raising them.

There are many reasons why one would parent with joie de vivre, but one in particular is to be a reflection of our God who delights in us...

Continue reading over at For Journey's Sake, where I'm writing as part of their parenting series today!

Friday 3 May 2013

Homeschool Conference LIVE BLOG!

Wow - we are going to try something new and exciting around here.

All day today and tomorrow is the Ontario Christian Home Educator's Convention (OCHEC) and we are going!  We're SO excited that Voddie Baucham is one of the keynotes, as we know he will speak the truth - even when it hurts!  We'd love to take you all along, but instead we'll try and bring a little bit of the conference to you!

Over on our Facebook Page, we'll be posting updates throughout the day with inspiring tidbits from the speakers, little recaps, pictures, what we buy, and anything else which we think would be interesting!  We think it will be fun and hope you enjoy it too.

If you happen to be at the conference, feel free to chime in and share what you're learning!  If you're nowhere near Ontario, then we're really doing this for you - so you can get a little piece of the encouragement too!

So come on over to the WHO CAN STAND Facebook Page and join in the conversation!

Wednesday 1 May 2013

The Bible Holds Up To Our Scrutiny

Have you ever been reading the Bible and come to a passage you don't understand? I certainly have.  Often I can find an explanation by asking my husband Andrew, who has been studying the Bible for longer than I, or by looking into a commentary we have by John MacArthur or John Gill. However, sometimes, even these sources don't satiate my need for understanding, and I can start to wonder if there even is an answer to my questions!

At these times it's good to remember that the Bible holds up to our scrutiny!  We don't have to be nervous about the questions we have, as if we might discover a hole, contradiction, or untruth in the Scriptures - because this won't happen! We know that God never lies, and the Bible is His word:
"He is the Rock, His work is perfect.  For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He." (Deuteronomy 32:4)
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God" (2 Timothy 3:16)
That doesn't mean we won't have questions though!  One of the amazing things about studying the Bible is that it is so rich and deep that there is always something new to learn and be gained from it's reading.  There is wisdom and guidance on the practicalities of life, and through the Scriptures we can come to understand how Jesus Christ came to the world and died so that we might live, and live abundantly!  I love the Word of God, and it even speaks to this issue of questions!

Romans is one of my favourite books of the Bible.  It tells us so richly of the amazing thing God has done for us through Jesus, and how steadfast that love is.  In fact, the name of our blog is based on a verse in Romans.  However, Romans is also fraught with sections which I don't understand.  Paul (the author), deals with complex issues like the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.  But what I love, is that Paul also shows us what our reaction should be when we're faced with the things of God which are beyond our understanding:
O, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements and His ways past finding out! 'For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?' 'Or who has first given to Him And it shall be repaid to him?' For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever." (Romans 11:33-36)
Paul doesn't express frustration that he doesn't understand everything, instead he issues praise for what he does know about God.  We can follow his example and praise God for his wisdom and knowledge.  Praise Him for knowing everything, and being Lord over all.  If we are His children, than we should praise Him because He is working everything out for our good.  We can trust in him, and we can trust in His word.  In these truths we can find peace even when we don't have all the answers.

(Recently, Andrew and I have been singing and memorizing the Romans Doxology, the lyrics of which are the above verses.  It is a beautiful hymn, and having it tucked into my heart has helped me to reflect on this passage.  Praise the Lord for opening up more and more of His truth!)

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Linked up at A Mama's Story, The Modest Mom, What Joy Is Mine,  Growing Home, Above Rubies,  Deep Roots At Home, Raising Homemakers, We Are That Family, Walking Redeemed, Graced Simplicity, Raising Mighty Arrows