Archives for February 2012

Tips on Getting Your Kids to Eat Healthier

Our crew had dental cleanings this past week and two of them had small cavities.

Several years ago we had the same problem. I was told that it was largely hereditary and there was really nothing I could do about it. I didn’t feel like that was totally accurate. It was about this time that we began changing up our diet to a more “whole foods” diet. For years the kids were all cavity free.

Until now.

It seems we have fallen off the healthy eating wagon. Little by little I have let “junk” seep back in to our diets. Part of it may be the fact that we moved to a foreign country and then back to the states (because of medical issues) within such a short time frame. I feel like I am just now catching my breath from it all.

To add to it, I have been having my own medical issues (currently waiting on results for celiac testing). It is time for this family to get back to eating healthier foods.

By the way, my friend Kerimae has a wonderful podcast on the topic of preventing and healing cavities.  I listened to it again this week after our dental visit!

Most of you know that I am studying to become an herbalist. I truly believe that the Lord has blessed us with many plants for our healing. However, our first line of defense against disease and illness is a solid offense. The Lord has provided an abundance of wonderful foods, created to work with our bodies to maintain health.

I thought it was very timely that the High Five Moms topic this month was “getting your children to eat healthy foods”. This is a “practice what you preach” topic, that’s for sure!

Here are a few things that have helped us in the past and will be re-implemented this week (We are traveling to the San Antonio Christian Film Festival this week, but we are still going to work toward better choices even on the road!).

Healthier Snacks

This is probably our biggest problem area. I have a child that is a wonderful dessert chef.  He can whip up so many yummy, sweet concoctions.  I was just telling him that he needs to write an e-book entitled “Carni Lovers Cookbook” — he made funnel cakes yesterday.  Ok, I am side-tracking I know.  See this is why I have so much trouble eating healthier!

1. So, our new food choices will include much more fresh fruits and veggies.  My children really don’t have a problem eating these as long as I make sure to have them on hand.  They love ranch dip, I just need to make sure and make my own so that we don’t get all the yuckies from the powdered packages.  For fruit, I will sometimes mix up fresh lemon/raw honey for them to dip it in.

2. My friend Brandy at The Marathon Mom has a ton of granola bar ideas.  My kids like the granola I make, but it is more of a cereal rather than a snack bar.  I am going to try to make more granola bars to have on hand, especially when we are on the go and need to grab a snack to take with us.

3. We also like to make smoothies.  I like them because it is easy to add in lots of healthy “stuff” and it still taste yummy.  On my to-do list is start a batch of kefir.  It has been years since we made our own kefir, but it is time to start back up.  If you don’t know what kefir is, here is a brief description from kefir.net…

Kefir is a cultured, enzyme-rich food filled with friendly micro-organisms that help balance your “inner ecosystem.” More nutritious and therapeutic than yogurt, it supplies complete protein, essential minerals, and valuable B vitamins.

Sounds like pretty good stuff, huh?

Healthier Meal Times

It doesn’t really matter how healthy you cook or prepare foods, if your kids don’t eat it.  Some simple “rules” we have at our house concerning foods…

1. Each child gets one food item to dislike (one item over all, not at each meal).  They don’t ever have to eat this one item (although sometimes they have learned to eat their one item, they are not forced to do so).  All other food items they must eat at least some of when they are served.

2. No picking out foods.  They can take out their one item if we are eating something that has it in it, but other than that they don’t make a habit of taking things out of their food.  Generally I try to not include their item on their plates, but sometimes it can’t be helped.

3. When making foods that aren’t necessarily favorites, I try to pair them up with other foods that are well liked.  This allows them to eat a bite of something not so tasty, then take a bite of something more appetizing.  For instance, I like to make fresh asparagus when I make baked salmon.  Some of the younger kids are still learning to enjoy the asparagus, but they readily eat the salmon.  By serving them together, it seems to ease the transition.

4. Start off with small amounts of new foods, or ones that aren’t well received.  Most of the time the kids will eat a small amount of foods they dislike without complaining.  This is also good training for times that you may be eating at someone else’s house or at church.  I teach the children that if they don’t like something (or if it doesn’t look appeasing) just ask for a small amount rather than say “I don’t like that” or “I don’t want that”.

5. I don’t usually make “kid meals”.  99% of the time, the foods I make are for all of us and they are regular meals.  I don’t make chicken nuggets and macaroni type meals just so the kids will eat (nothing wrong with healthy homemade chicken nuggets and macaroni, just using it as an example).  Rather I choose the best meals for the entire family.

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Need more ideas on getting kids to eat healthy? Check out the other moms and see what they have to share!

Brandy at The Marathon Mom

Keri Mae at The Happy Home

Stacy at A Delightful Home

Andie at Happy Andersons

Butter Cookies

When my older children were younger, we would often make “sugar” cookies for the different holidays. We had all sorts of cookie cutters. The kids loved rolling out the dough, cutting out their cookie, and then of course loading it down with a ton of icing and colored sprinkles.

Then I went through my healthy eating phase (ok, not so much a phase as a new way of life) and out went all the cute cookie cutters. I couldn’t let my kids eat “sugar” cookies, especially with all that icing and decorations. So for the last few years my poor younger children haven’t experienced the joys of rolling out cookies and decorating them…

until this week!

Join me over at The Marathon Mom where I am sharing a delicious Butter Cookie Recipe!

What Can Prevent Racism? Part 2

Last weekend I posted an article on racism and my long time friend, Beth from Remade Ministries posed a very good question…

[I]f Darwin’s theory of evolution feeds and stirs the pot of racism, then why in history are some of the most egregious forms of racism and acts upon inferiority done by Christians themselves?

I have been pondering this question all week long. Some of my thoughts came right away, others, well, they are still being formed. Let me just say upfront, I am by no means an expert in deep theological issues. I am still learning step-by-step as the Lord leads. So I will put this out there and welcome communication on the topic.

As I thought about the question, there were four different answers that came to mind.

1. The acts being done were not done by true Christians. This is probably the easiest answer, as it is very straightforward. There have been many terrible acts committed throughout history in the name of “Christianity”. Sometimes these acts were done by individuals claiming to be Christians and other times it was the entire church. Matthew 7:15 comes to mind, when Jesus says “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

2. The acts were done by sinful Christians. Still an easy answer. We are all born with a sin nature. There are Christians today who are sinful racist. And just like everyone who walks in sin, they need to repent. Plain and simple.

3. The acts were done by Christians who believed they were doing the right thing. Here is where it gets difficult. I am particularly thinking about slavery. Several years ago I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin (which is one of my favorite books). Before reading it, I really could not see how there could be true Christians who believed slavery was justifiable. This book opened my eyes to the thinking during this time period.

There were many Christians who believed that the it was the Providence of God that allowed the black people to be placed into slavery. (As a side note, I agree with this. I believe that God is Sovereign. He often uses sinful man to perform His perfect will. There were many times in Biblical history when the Lord allowed people groups, even his own people, to be placed into slavery. Many of the nations in Africa were pagan societies without the Word of God. Slaves were a commodity in these countries, just another good to be sold. And as atrocious as this was, we can praise the Lord that through this time of slavery, many did hear the gospel and were saved. Many of their descendants are reaping the spiritual blessings of having great-great-grandparents who heard the gospel message and were penetrated by it’s saving grace!)

Some of these same people who believed God allowed the Africans to become slaves, also believed that they should not try and alter the social statuses of mankind. I would like to believe, based on historical accounts, that many sincere Christians proved themselves to be loving masters. I know that this was not always the case.

4. The acts were done by Christians who were immersed in the world. Maybe they didn’t have a Christian worldview. They were just “going with the flow”. I think this is why it is so important to teach our children the Word of God and how it applies to the way we should love others (and all aspects of our lives for that matter!). It is so easy to go along with the way things are just because that’s how things are. If we want true social change, we must know the Word, we must obey the Word, and we must stand on Word in every area of our lives. It is not enough to just go to church. Satan is as a roaring lion, looking to see whom he may devour.

One Last Thought

I have heard it said many times that “culture is religion externalized”. I have had the chance to see first hand many cultures throughout the world, and I couldn’t agree more with the quote. What people believe is seen in the way they live their lives.

When people make generalizations about other races, many times these generalizations are made based on the culture of the race. If the generalizations are negative, they are often mistaken for racism. I don’t believe the two are the same. Racism is a hatred for another person based on the ethnicity of the person. It is always wrong because it goes against the commandment Jesus gave in Mark, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”.

However (and this is not the politically correct thing to say), we are not required by God to like (or approve of) other cultures, especially if they are pagan or go against the laws set forth in the Bible.  We should love the people, but we don’t have to love their culture.

What Can Prevent Racism?

I am reaching outside my comfort zone as I write this article, but the topic has been heavy on my heart this week. I have seen a couple of posts on facebook linking uneducated, conservative Christians and racism. At first, my temper was fueled as a gut reaction to the allegations. How dare anyone accuse me, or many of my conservative friends of racism? The more I pondered the entire premise of the argument, I realized just how blinded the world really is to the truth of God.

I believe the entire problem of racism stems from the lack of belief in the inerrant Word of God, particularly Genesis and the creation of man. Genesis 1:1 starts “In the beginning, God created…” and verse 26 goes on to say “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Each and every life is precious in the sight of the Lord. He created each of us in His own image.

Where did the different “races” come from?

We are all descendants of Adam and Eve. God created the two of them, and from that time every human has been born of another human. At the time God created Adam and Eve, He placed in their DNA all the genes for all the differing variables in mankind. He placed genes for all the different eye colors, hair colors, and skin tones. He placed genes for some to be tall, some short, some stout, and some petite. Every bit of genetic information that would ever be needed was available. So Adam and Eve could have had all different colors of children—red and yellow, black and white.

Fast forward a bit and we see that God destroyed the earth in the flood, and once again we are down to the lineage of just two people, Noah and his wife. Then their descendants were scattered over the face of the earth after building the tower of Babel. Before this time, all men were of one speech or language. God confounded their language, making it impossible (for the time being) for them to communicate with one another.

Once man was scattered, I am assuming that they gathered together with those in close proximity and learned to communicate as one people group. The people would have then started marrying and having children within each of their “groups”. Within each group, there would be limited genetic information. If any traits within the group were recessive, the genes for these traits might eventually be lost. For instance, if there were only a few people with blue eyes and many with brown eyes, after several generations the blue eye gene would become more and more rare until eventually the group had mostly all brown eyes.

Another way genetic information could be lost is through the environment. Let’s say you were a light skinned person living in an area of the world near the equator. You might not live as long, be as healthy, or produce as many children as someone more suited to the environment. Therefore, after time, most of the people left would be the ones more suited to the area. One thing to note here, is that genetic information may be lost, but never is it gained. There has never been an instance where new genetic information has been produced outside of creation.

The Racism/Evolution Connection

When one believes that man came from a puddle of slime, and had to “evolve” to the great state we are in now, it is no wonder racism abounds. If we all “evolved”, it would necessarily follow that some are more evolved than others. This places mankind in a ranking system, where some of the lesser evolved are thought to be lower than the more evolved. This is very clear in the title of Charles Darwin’s book — On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. His entire premise was to prove that certain “races” were more favored.

What Can Prevent Racism?

Can education prevent racism? What about social programs? Maybe we should just all learn to get along?

Unfortunately, as long as children are taught Darwin’s theory of evolution, they will always believe that some are better than others. They will always feel the need to get ahead, and the only way to do this is by trampling down others — you know, survival of the fittest.

To truly eradicate racism, you have to see man as God sees man. There are only two “races” in His eyes — the saved and the unsaved. There are those who have found grace through Jesus Christ and those still in need of a Saviour. When we realize that all men are sinners in need of being saved, and then love them as Jesus loves them, we won’t have a problem being racist.

Extreme Couponing: What I Am Learning

When we came back to the states last January I started hearing about extreme couponing.  I watched the show a couple of times, but was turned off by the attitudes of the couponers and the fact that much of what they were getting would be useless to me.

I try to cook as much from scratch as I can, buying organic and natural products as well.  I didn’t want to buy products I didn’t use just so I could use coupons.  I really didn’t think couponing would work for us.

Oh and one other thing, I don’t like running to the store very often.  I prefer to go every 2-3 weeks and buy as much as I can to last us as long as possible.  I very rarely make shopping lists–I just walk up and down each aisle looking for things we need.  I have always bought what we have needed when we needed it.  If we were out of butter, I bought butter.

I am going to share something else with you…I don’t have a budget (gasp).  I know that I need to be a better steward of what the Lord has given us and I am working toward that goal.  In fact, I just received a copy of Money Saving Moms budgeting book.  I am working toward setting a budget working within the parameters of a budget.  (I will be sharing the journey as I go, but this was really the first step in that journey.)

Back to couponing…

For the last few months I have been learning to coupon and make it work for our family.  I wanted to share a few things I have learned so far (for you seasoned couponers, don’t laugh!)

1. It’s not always about the coupons! – We shop at the commissary on base, and I don’t buy alot of the items that usually have coupons.  However, through this couponing journey I have learned that the biggest way for me to save money is not necessarily through coupons.  I can save significantly by watching the prices on the items I already buy and stocking up when the price is at it’s lowest.  Even the local health food store has items on sale.  Just the other day our local health food store had coconut oil marked down.  So my first lesson in couponing was to buy low and buy in bulk when it is low.

2. Find coupons for the items you use – One of my little treats that I like to buy is Wholly Guacamole.  I love fresh avocados, but there are times when you just can’t find a good one.  I like to keep Wholly guacamole in the freezer for times like this.  However, it is a kinda pricey.  I hadn’t seen any coupons for it in the paper, but I went to their website and signed up for their newsletter.  Now I get a coupon at least every month.   Sometimes Wholly Guacamole is on sale, so I pair the saving with the coupon and I have a real deal!

3. Where to find coupons – The most known coupon source is the Sunday paper, but most of the ones there are for items we don’t use.  My son has helped me to find many of the ones I use online.  Again, newsletters are a great way to get coupons.  All You magazine is published once a month and it contains many coupons.  Watch for coupons inserted into products that you already use.  I bought a 3-pack of Puffs tissues and it contained over $10 worth of coupons inside for other items I use (paper towels, toilet paper, batteries).

4. How to organize – I have seen many different organization methods, but this one seems to work for us so far.  I had a 3-ring binder that I filled with business card holders.  I divided them up into sections (I tried to keep the sections the same as the commissary where I shop).  On the front divider in the notebook, I taped two envelopes to it.  One says “planning to use” and the other says “going to use”.  Before my shopping trip, and sometimes as I am shopping, I come across a coupon that I want to make sure and use–maybe the expiration date is coming up, or maybe the item is on sale.  Once I actually place an item into the cart, I put the coupon into the “going to use” envelope.

5. How to coupon – This section deserves it’s own post, really.  I will try and simplify, but if you really want to learn check out the resources below.  I will say this, it takes practice to get good at couponing.  It might be frustrating at first, and you might not see as much savings as you would like.  Stick with it for a while before giving up on it.  Once you start paying attention to details and practice pairing coupons and sales it will get easier.  I am always so excited that I can now look at most prices in our commissary and know if it is a good price or not.  I had never paid attention before.

OK, so generally what I do is find out what items are on sale.  I still only shop every 2 weeks or so (and I don’t run around to other stores).  I then see if I have coupons for any of those items, or if I can find coupons online.  I also try to get store coupons.  In my case, the commissary has military coupons that I can pair up with my manufacturers coupons.  I then buy a “reasonable” amount of the item on sale with my coupons so that I will have the item on hand until it goes on sale again.

6. Think outside the box savings – One way I have used this system to save is to use sale items for hospitality events.  For instance, I have been able to buy Rice Crispies and marshmallows are really cheap prices.  When we attend events where we need to bring a snack or dessert, we can whip up Rice Crispy treats and it doesn’t cost us much (not to mention they are super quick and easy!)

Resources

I have found the following websites very useful as I have tried to learn how to coupon.  I know that there are lots of sites out there, but I wanted to learn from women who loved the Lord and saw this as an opportunity to become better stewards — not merely hoarding up all the freebies they could find!

Southern Savers

Money Saving Moms

The Happy Housewife