Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Granola Mom's Favorite Granola

I love coconut oil and attempt to put it into anything and everything. I decided that it was silly to continue to buy granola at the store for a ridiculous price. Thus, I have been making my own about once a week. This is by far my favorite recipe because it is simple and it tastes good. It is easy to modify, my kiddos LOVE it, and my husband devours it (often with a handful of carob chips)!

8 cups quick-cooking oats (I use regular rolled oats)
1 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped almonds (or any other type of nut you desire)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup olive or peanut oil
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup dried cranberries, raisins, or dates

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a large bowl, stir together the oats, coconut and almonds. Divide between two large baking sheets, and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 7 or 8 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly toasted. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then return to the large bowl.

While the oats are toasting, combine the coconut milk, coconut oil, peanut oil, and honey in a saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring until it comes to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla. Pour the syrup over the granola in the bowl, and stir until the dry ingredients are fully coated. Divide between the two baking sheets, and spread evenly.
Bake for 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until fragrant and toasted. Cool in the pans, then mix in the dried cranberries or other dried fruit. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Please note: For every extra cup of ingredients add 2 tablespoons of oil and 2 Tablespoons of honey.

I encourage you to become a fan of coconut oil!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What Toy Construstion Vehicles Can Teach an Adult

I had the opportunity to play with Buddy E last night by himself. Like any two year old, he went from one thing to the next depending on what I was doing and where I was working. After a few minutes of work, I would stop and play with him for about 10 minutes frequently throughout the night. I don't often have the gift of having him to myself and wanted to devote quality nuggets of time with him, yet get the kitchen cleaned up from the day's activities.

I learned or was reminded of a huge biblical truth last night through this play time. Buddy E was playing with our toy crane, that includes orange wood barriers, construction men, a wheel barrow, and several other vehicles that move imaginary dirt and spread asphalt. Buddy E consistently would grab the construction man and road barrier and have them hop over to the field on the opposite side of the table.

Well, I wanted the construction man to sit in the crane and tried to take it from Buddy E (guess I didn't learn the gift of asking). Buddy E screamed "NO!" You see, he needed the construction man to lift the road barrier.

Do you see the spiritual lesson?

Buddy E was paying attention to the small details going on in this imaginary scene of life. In life, road barriers don't move by some imaginary unseen force on the construction site of life, they are picked up by men or a crane. Someone has to have some forethought as to where the barrier needs to be moved to. Buddy E was showing me, unbeknownst to him, a very important thing. God cares about the little details in my life, my movement throughout my day and yours. He cares about the barriers and wants to move them for me. But I have to remember that He is there. I have to take the time and ask Him for help, read His Word, worship. When you take God out of the fieldwork, moving heavy objects becomes a lot harder.

"Jesus therefore said, 'When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.'" (John 8:28-29)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Before the Double Stroller

This post is new reading material for my sweet friend, Christina. For those of you who know me, it is a bit dated, but will be fresh and new to your eyes.

Before recently attaining a double stroller, I attempted to take a walk with my two-year old (Buddy A) and my seven-week old (Buddy E), using only a single stroller. Being a “good mom,” I placed the baby in the stroller (for a cat-nap) and let my eldest walk—thinking this would give him good exercise and allow him the freedom that this independent two-year old yearns for and I often restrict. The walk began beautifully, almost gracefully, as we sauntered along at a two-year old pace. We had ample time to look at every crack in the sidewalk, touch every lamp post and lava rock, pull every weed, and pet every lawn ornament. He was delighted at every tall blade of grass and energetically informed me of every one--during what was supposed to be a short walk. Yet, I began to grow impatient. I found myself not caring about stepping on a weed, catching a bug, or patiently explaining how we must hold hands to cross the street. Meanwhile, the newborn was remaining mostly content to sunbathe as long as I kept him in motion.

I, however, became impatient. I found myself saying, “Come on, Buddy A. Let’s go. Hurry up. We need to get home.” This only seemed to make Buddy A relish God’s creation even more, to my surprise.

In hindsight, I now ask myself, “Where did I have to be that made me rush Buddy A along?” Nowhere. So why was I telling him to hurry? Unbeknownst to my two-year old, he was doing something that I fail to do during my days as a professional chef, maid, teacher, wife, seamstress, and laundry mat. He was taking the time to admire God’s creation. Buddy A's excitement and lollygagging were praise to God’s ears. But they interrupted my agenda.

What I failed to remember was twofold:

1. Being a mom is my job (among many others), even though I don’t punch a time clock and get paid for it. I need to see that my children aren’t an interruption, they are God’s creation and gifts to me. Yes, there may be things that I want to get done, BUT I need to work on having a servant’s attitude toward my children. They won’t always be this age, wanting and needing my attention. One day the house will be quiet--no diapers to change or onesies to be washed, and no toys to be picked up. Then I will miss the days of hearing Buddy A tell me every time he takes a drink of water and Buddy E’s little cough alerting me to the fact that it is time to feed him.

And . . . .

2. In order to enjoy God, I need to spend time with God. Yes, even with two kids (now 3), there can be time to spend with God. In fact, there must be time made to spend with God. If something is important to you, you will make time for it. When I don’t spend time with God, I find myself becoming impatient and short tempered with my little flock. And I find my voice doing and saying things that I mentally criticized other moms for doing before I had children, namely yelling (but you probably haven’t ever done that). Yet, now I understand how this happens. When I don’t spend time with God I can’t walk in His Spirit or display His fruit. In short, I must spend time with God to walk in His Spirit and display His fruit.

The following two verses give me hope and encouragement. I pray that as you meditate on them they will do the same for you.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)

Friday, January 2, 2009

Cloth Diapering 101--How I Cloth Diaper

My mom cloth diapered and my mother-in-law cloth diapered. My husband wanted to cloth diaper. Cloth diapering represented a mothering choice to be studied, conquered, and employed. Nobody I knew was cloth diapering at the time, which made it all the more appealing to me.

Logically, it made sense to cloth diaper--it was and is cheaper. But more importantly, we felt it was a call from the Lord. Why? Simply, cloth diapering allows us to be a good steward of our money that God gave us and of the earth He has provided for us to live on and use. Additionally, we are protecting our children from dangerous chemicals leaching into their skin. These are a few of the reasons it made sense to cloth diaper.
Writing this much requested post has proven difficult. There are numerous websites containing great information regarding the cost, variety, and reasons to cloth diaper. Why should I reinvent the wheel? Thus, I have decided to explain "how" we cloth diaper, in the hopes that you will see that it is easy to cloth diaper, and perhaps even addicting. I know that may sound odd--but there is great satisfaction in using cloth.

Hands down, using cloth diapers is cheaper than disposable diapers. It also gets cheaper with each child. My favorite type of cloth diaper is called the Chinese Prefold. It is the true work horse of cloth diapering. There are many fancy cloth diapers out on the market (All-In-Ones or AIOs, fitted diapers that use covers, and pocket diapers), but only the prefold remains the cheapest, most durable, extremely forgiving, absorbant, and virtually leak-proof diaper. I have tried the diapers that include all of the bells and whistles, but with each child I always go back to prefolds. (The stack of diapers on the right have been used for three children, and could be used for another child. (No I am not dropping any hints that Baby #4 is on the way.). By the way, if I am using a fancy diaper, I like Fuzzi Bunz. I have heard the BumGenius are good, too.

Don't think that you can go buy these durable diapers at Babies-R-Us or Walmart. No, you typically need to order them online. (Check out my friends at Toasty Baby. They even offer a cloth diapering service where they will wash your child's diapers for you!) Prefolds are typically $1.50-$2.00/diaper. They come in three sizes: infant, premium and toddler (as shown on the left). Most people only have to buy infant and premium diapers. However, if you have mammoth children like us, you will eventually need to buy toddler prefolds, leading up to potty training. Many people are worried about the Safety Pin to fasten the diaper. Worry no longer! Instead of using Bobby Pins, I use a thing called The Snappi. It works much like an Ace Bandage clip.
To contain the wetness or poop inside the cloth diaper, I typically use a wool cover. There are many to chose from, but I really like the Babyology wool covers found on Ebay. I also have been known to use Bummis Super Whisper Wrap, Kushie Diaper Wrap, or a Prorap Classic. All of them work well and have withstood three children and many washings. The great thing about all of these covers is that you only wash them when they become soiled. You use the cover, let it air out, and use it again. The manufacture states that you can use it up to five times before washing, but I must admit that my covers get used until they either have poop on them or are starting to smell of urine.
Let's talk about wipes. If you use cloth diapers, why on earth would you continue to buy packs of wipes? Thankfully, I am handy at sewing, so I just bought a yard of flannel and made about 30 wipes (per child in diapers). I love having colorful wipes. I have heard that you can save about $300/year by using cloth wipes. I wet my wipes with water and put them in a normal wipe case for outings or in the wipe warmer when we are at home. You can just add water to them or make your own wipe solution .

Perhaps you are wondering, what happens once I take the diaper off. Easy! If you comply with the instructions on the disposable diaper package, why not just go ahead and do cloth diapers? The directions state that you have to dump solid poop out. No big deal! By the way, when your baby is just on mother's milk (and even formula) you don't have to rinse the diaper off before you stick it in the wash,; it comes out in the wash. For example, let's say Babe E has a poopy diaper. I use my cloth wipe to clean his bottom and stick the wipe into the diaper pail. The diaper pail is lined with a water proof bag. I place the poopy diaper in the bucket that you currently see on top of the white pail.
You don't have to buy a fancy diaper pail. I recommend that you get a pail that is actually a trash can with a pedal to lift the lid, when you are in a sticky situation! When you have a chance, grab your bucket, dump the poop into the toilet and flush. Some people actually get diaper showers, but I just get as much poop of off the diaper as I can with either a wipe or toilet paper. I stick the formerly poopy diaper into a medium waterproof bag that I have in the bathroom.
When your diaper pail gets full, wash your diapers! Your washing machine doesn't get dirty either. Mine still looks and smells clean! When your child starts eating solid food and has firm poop, you can line the diaper with a rice paper liner that is biodegradable and can be flushed.
Helpful websites to assist you in cloth diapering:
  • Real Diaper Association diapering facts including the health, environmental, and cost benefits to cloth diapering
  • The Diaper Pin offers answers to frequently asked question such as getting started, washing instructions, diaper pail options, folding of the diaper, securing the diaper, and a cloth diapering dictionary
  • You do the math, calculate the cost difference between cloth and disposable
  • Diaper Kit provides pre-cut diaper fabric and you do the sewing