Thursday, March 27, 2014

Friendships and Motherhood

There comes a time in motherhood where your world becomes pretty small. It revolves around these things:
Naps
Mealtimes
School
Sports/lessons/activities
Bedtimes
 
And somewhere in there you need to make sure there is food in the house, clean clothes in the drawers/closets and that the home is fit for humans to live in.
 
And then at the end of the day you fall asleep on the couch out of exhaustion, you never get to watch your favorite shows to the end, so your always left wondering what's REALLY going on.
After weeks and weeks of this I start missing my friendships, I start craving long UNINTERRUPTED conversations with kindred spirits that will lift me up and encourage me,
Other moms who will tell me that my teens are normal and that theirs are acting the same way.
 
Other Moms that 'Get' Foster Care and the things I am struggling with in that area.
Other Moms that will smile and let me go on and on about our foster son and how smart he is and all the new words he has learned!
 
Other moms that will giggle in sympathy with me over the things that happen when your 6 yr old son has been cooped up in the house for months and months of winter.
 
Other moms that will listen to me talk about the pros and cons of sending my 4 year old to preschool and how undecided I am about this..
 
Those are the things I crave, understanding, acceptance and encouragement!!
 
Those are the things that one just doesn't get through socializing in social media.
 
I get these things in bits and pieces before and after church services, in between chasing babies and minding rambunctious children.
 
And Every once in a while we reach out to each other across this wilderness of motherhood and we say. I am here. I care. I am praying for you.
And then we say, 'I have to run',.... or, 'I can't stay, the kids are in the car'... or 'I have to go get groceries'... or 'headed to piano lessons.'
 
And we remind each other that this is just for a season.......
 
And we all understand that friendship is stronger than busy seasons and time spent apart!!!
 
 
So be encouraged mothers,  Isaiah 40:11:
He tends his flock like a shepherd:
    He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
    he gently leads those that have young.
  
 
I believe that One of the ways Jesus has blessed me while I am raising my young is with friendships that are eternal, that will stand the test of time and the test of busy seasons!!
 
 
Much Love,
RuthAnn
 

 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Secret to Perfect Monster Cookies

The Monster Cookie,
 
The Favored of all cookies,
and it's not just because of the miniature m&m's that these cookies are so loved by all.
Their flavor is superior. End of story.
Now these cookies aren't exactly fool proof.
Maybe you have tried these cookies and they just haven't turned out right.
The secret is in the Peanut butter.... Jiff Peanut butter, some other brands are too dry and your cookies will be dry lumps.
 
 
 
So here we go:
1.5 cups Jiff peanut butter
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
3 eggs
Whip until light and creamy, add:
1tsp. vanilla extract
2tsp.baking soda
3.5 cups quick cooking oats (not rolled oats)
1 cup chocolate chips (milk or semi sweet)
1 cup mini m&m's
 
Dip 2 cookies and bake them, if they are too flat add 1/2 cup more oats and try again.
You can never take oats out of a recipe that's why I always error on the side of 'not enough oats'

When I would make these at home with my mom I asked her why the cookies are called Monster cookies.. She told me that because she always had to make a monster size batch of these cookies, therefore they were called Monster cookies.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Screen Free Spring Break

 

 

 

Am I brave enough to decide to a screen free spring break week?? (this week is half days of school, next week is actual spring break for us)
 
That would mean no movies, no Netflix, no Ipad, no Ipod.
 
To be honest, I feel like my kiddos are getting way to much screen time lately.. the winter has been cruel, no friendly play outside snow days, it's been nasty blizzards with more snow than even I can walk in. That's my excuse for why my family has been getting so much screen time..
 
 
Last summer we enforced a no screen time rule and we loved it so much that when school started we modified it only a tad to no screen time on school nights... well that lasted until recently... recently even some school nights have been movie nights.
 
Here are the pros and cons for a screen free spring break:
Pros:
More 'together' time.
More constructive play.
More reading.
They will sleep better.
 
Cons:
Messier house (from constructive play),
Less peace and quiet,
2-3 days of agony as they go through withdrawals,
More of my energy needed for creative entertainment during withdrawal stage.
 
 
And I am thinking that if we are brave enough to go screen free it sure will help us glide right into our screen free summer of 2014..
 
So what do you think??? go for it??? or No???

Monday, March 10, 2014

Easy Seasoned Pretzles

 
 
I don't know if there is a bigger ongoing Challenge that I have found in motherhood than the one of helping my family have healthy eating habits. It wasn't not so bad when the kiddos where all little and didn't know much about junk food.
Enter School and classmate lunch envy (and they discover Dads junk food stash sooner or later any way) What I wasn't prepared for was their begging for Ramen Noodles, and Lunchables.
I would've been able to understand their begging for delicious junk food like Doritos and Cheetos. I would've been able to relate to that!! 
However as tempted as I am to buy those salty snacks that I crave and they beg for, when you consider the fact that one bag can cost close to 5$ and it takes my family of 6 less than 30 minutes to eat that 5$ bag of Doritos, That just isn't going to fit into our grocery budget at all...
That's when I remembered the delicious seasoned pretzel snack my mom used to make for us....
Cheaper than Doritos and healthier too!!
 
 
 
 
All you need is 3 ingredients :
 
18-20 oz. of little pretzels
1 cup olive oil
1 package (3 tbsp.) of ranch seasoning
 
 
 
Mix the oil and seasoning and toss with the pretzels until they are completely covered.
next, microwave the pretzels for 1 minute at a time for 4-5 minutes stirring thoroughly after each minute until pretzels seem to be dry..
 
Yes it's that simple...
and here are some variation seasonings to try:
 
3 tbs. Honey Mustard seasoning,
 
or:
1tsp. garlic salt
1tsp. onion powder
1tsp. dill weed

 
 
 
 
 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Balancing Motherhood and Business

What does it mean to be a work at home mom??
Where is that fine balance between family and customers??
 
It means being able to carry on with Lego play while working online.
 
It means accidentally taking a sip of room temperature juice instead of a sip of twice warmed, lukewarm coffee.
It means Majoring on the Majors, and minoring on the minors.
Sometimes my fridge doesn't get cleaned for weeks (months).
 
It means knowing when to delegate.
No one loves your children as much as you do. so no one is going to make the choices that you do in their lives. Your children will know when you 'aren't there'. your customers won't care if you didn't do it, as long as it gets done like they expect it.
 
 
 
It means knowing when to tell a customer "not now" (or "no").
Knowing that sometimes the timing for your family just isn't right for you to take that giant step forward for your business.
 
It means that some days you bite off more than you can chew and your kids end up getting way more screen time than you intended.
 
It means saying 'no' to most mommy groups and play dates because although you don't 'GO' to work you still 'work'.
 
It means asking Daddy to help with the dishes and laundry and house work and not feeling guilty about it.
 
It means that some nights you don't get to bed until wee hours of the morning, and then you still get up 2-3 times before morning to tend to a sick child.
 
It means dreaming big, and even bigger, but then being ok with saying, "when my children are older I will pursue that."
 
It means forgiving yourself for all the times you didn't quite meet every one's needs.
 
It means not caring that your house isn't quite kept like mama taught you to keep house. (hire a house keeper if an unkept house is hindering your creativity and ability to get your work done)
 
It means knowing that laying it all down and being 100% present for your family is still worth more than all the money you could ever make.
After all, our children want our presence more than they want our presents...  
 
Rarely do I find that perfect balance between motherhood and business, I don't know if I have ever felt that I have found the perfect balance. Its a constant juggle..
Treat your self with grace,,, plenty of grace for those days when walking the tightrope of business while carrying the pole of motherhood is overwhelming.
 
 

 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Home Made Cliff Bars

Life gets pretty crazy around here at times..
I am sure you can relate.. And sometimes, sad to say, food is the last thing on Mom's mind. When you're trying your best just to get everyone where they are supposed to be at the right time, and hurry home in time for naps and switch the loads of laundry! Who has the time to plan and cook nutritious meals and mix up tasty, healthy snacks..
After a while a mom gets appalled at the amount of fast food garbage that has accumulated in the vehicle. I am ashamed to admit that my van even had a distinct smell of fast food..
That icky smell is what motivated me to make these nutritious cliff bars for my family again.. These bars are the bars that you give the children when you are running out the door and THEN when the 'I AM HUNGRY' whine comes just as you are driving past McDonalds... (trust me, if your children are too young to do this yet, it'll start as soon as they are old enough to look out the window and recognize the golden arches) You can say, 'No you are not hungry', and you'll know that the cliff bar snack you fed them was way more nutritious than a 'small fry' snack.
 
Originally found this recipe on pinterest and then tweeked it to our liking..

 
Cliff Bars:
1.5 cups rice crispy cereal
1 cup uncooked, quick cooking oats
3 tablespoons ground flax seed (fresh ground is always best as the pre-ground flax has a distinct flavor that is caused by the oil in the flax becoming rancid, a small electric coffee grinder works perfect to grind flax seed)
1/4 cup finely chopped dried fruit ( I use dried cranberries) And I chop them in the blender)
1/4 cup finely chopped nuts (I use walnuts)and use my blender again)
 
Mix this all together in a large bowl.
 
In a medium saucepan heat:
1/2 cup honey
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
heat until sugar is melted add:
1/2 cup nut butter (I use peanut butter)
continue to heat until mixture is smooth, remove from heat, add:
1 tsp vanilla extract
 
 
Pour peanut butter mixture over dry ingredients, stir well and press into 9X13 pan.
 
Enjoy!!!  And relax Mama, a weeks worth of fast food never hurt any child I am sure!! 
 
 
We are still stuck in the icy grasp of winter here in the upper Midwest.. trying hard to make the most out of it.....



 

Friday, February 28, 2014

Why did we choose Foster care??

What a surprised it was for us to learn that folks are VERY open with their opinion about foster care. In the 2 months that we have been foster parents I have heard so many excuses about why folks couldn't do it.
It' like when they understand who our addition to the family is and what means they do one of 2 things. either completely ignore the child and pretend they didn't see an extra child. or they come up with an excuse why THEY could never do it.
 
 
Yes we can't save the world but the bible clearly teaches in James 1 26&27    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
 
Yes, it's probably out of your comfort zone.. I know it was out of my comfort zone for a long time! I didn't feel qualified, I make lots of mistakes with my biological children, We don't make enough money to support more children. We even used the excuse that God doesn't call everyone to help the orphans and widows. That some of us are just called to be prayer warriors for the families that ARE caring for the orphans.. However if this were so wouldn't James 1:26&27 state that Pure and faultless religion is this: that SOME of you in the church look after the orphans and widows...
But that's not what it says at all!!! God sees caring for the orphans and widows as Pure and faultless...  And when God sees something as pure and faultless how can you go wrong by doing it?????
 
which brings up the next question of why would anyone try to discourage us from opening our home to foster care... They say, your hearts will be broken when children go back to their parents,
 
they say: but those children come with lots of problems and needs, are you sure that you can handle the special needs of these children???
 
Yes, our hearts will be broken: one Bible verse comes to mind specifically : James 1:1-9 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. ...
Why would we run from something that will draw our hearts closer to Jesus.
And in our first 2 months of Foster Care our hearts have been broken many times... Many days I wished for my life back, when the only baby in our home was a well adjusted 4 yr old. And then I would fall to my knees with guilt and give it all to Jesus!  When I think of how many times I cried out to Jesus not only on my behalf but on the behalf of a poor hurting child, I wouldn't trade those moments of sweet, sweet presence of the Lord for anything in the world! the refining of our souls happens best when we have no more strength left to draw on.
 
 
Yes Children that have been dealt a hard blow, beyond their control, in life, will have issues...  But Jesus teaches:
He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ Matthew 25:45
'The least of these'  who are they???
But we do know this... If Jesus came to town and needed a place to stay for a few days.. needed food and a bed, wouldn't we all be rushing to offer our home?? our best bed and we would cook the best food!! we would probably even spend more money on that week's groceries...
But Jesus clearly tells his disciples in Matthew 25:45 that if they didn't look after the least of these they didn't look after him...
 
And no we can NOT handle any of those special needs that these children might have..  But Jesus can!!!
 
The book of James shows that even back then the human race was all about self gain and materialism; James 2:1-4 My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?
 
Jesus loves 'the least of these' every bit as much as he loves our own children, our nieces, our nephews, US...  Why is our 'comfort', our well being and our money more important to us than the life of someone that Jesus loves??
 
One of My biggest fears was how our decision to open our homes to foster children would affect our biological children... How would they react if a child that we had grown to love would be reunified with their biological parents?? to this day this hasn't happened yet so I don't have any experience on how it will affect our family but I can tell you this.. God is Bigger than my fears!! we have never pretended to our biological children that the foster child is ours, We pray for healing for foster child's family, We pray that Jesus would come to that family and revival would come to their house. Because ultimately, Foster Care isn't something that we do because we solely want to adopt a child, It isn't something that we do because we want to be someone important or for any form of human glory. Foster Care is about Jesus, it's about saying "here am I Lord, Use me".
 
So yes, Prayer warriors are needed, very needed, And I am ever so thankful for all my friends that pray for us and lift our family up to Jesus.... But I challenge everyone of you to add this to the end of every prayer you pray for families that are adopting and fostering,
"Here am I Lord use me"
And then listen for God's voice, and believe that he will be there with  every step of the way!
 
RuthAnn