Sunday, December 27, 2009

You Never Let Go

Our loving and faithful God will never let go of us or abandon us no matter what we are going through... I love the lyrics from Matt Redman's song - You Never Let Go...

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Chorus:
Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
We’ll live to know You here on the earth

Chorus:

Yes, I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on
And there will be an end to these troubles
But until that day comes
Still I will praise You, still I will praise You


You can listen to the song here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Let Your Hair Down

Definition of phrase: "Let your hair down"
Relax; Behave in a free or uninhibited manner.

Ever since my daughter was about 1 1/2 years old.. she would insist that I leave my hair down (instead of putting it up in a pony tail). Every time she saw me putting my hair up.. or whenever I would get her up in the morning or from her naps (and I had my hair up) she would say, "put your hair down!" My daughter is 3 years old now and she still says, "Mommy, keep your hair down"... and asks me for permission to take my hair rubber band out (or whatever is holding my hair up).

At first, it was frustrating.. and like before, there are times when I just tell her "NO, I need to keep my hair up." But then, I realized what a good reminder (especially for a busy mom) to remember to relax and enjoy... enjoy whatever I am doing and not be inhibited by or uptight about the small things in life. God has a sense of humor... He uses many things (including my daughter) to constantly teach me this lesson... and for this, I am grateful that my daughter nags me about "letting my hair down".

Monday, December 14, 2009

Praise

"One of the greatest ministries a wife can have in her husband's life is the ministry of encouragement through admiration.
Not flattery, but
sincere praise."

-Carole Mayhall

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Amazed

Recently, my daughter heard the song "Amazed" by Lincoln Brewster and loved it! (You can listen to the whole song here). We started singing it together with hand motions during the bridge section... and now my one year old even joins in. Kids love to sing and dance to music... why not dance to a song that speaks of God's amazing love for us!

(chorus)
Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
Lord I'm amazed by You
And how You love me

(bridge)
How deep (arms up and down)
How wide (arms wide open)
How great is Your love for me
(arms reaching up)



Friday, December 4, 2009

Great Invention

One day, as I was mumbling to my mother-in-law how time consuming it was to clean my stainless steel pans and pots and she gave me this plastic "multi-scraper".
If you are like me and spend (what seems like) most of the day standing next to the kitchen sink washing dishes.. you will want this. And for 99 cents each.. you need to order several and share the joy with some of your mommy friends. Not only has this scraper made cleaning pots and pans less of a headache, I've used it to scrape food off of tables and counters, (my husband has even used it to scrape wax off of his surfboard), I even use it to clean the mouth pieces of sippy cups with the tip of the scraper.

Such a simple product..with a brilliant design that makes life so much easier. Thank you plastic scraper!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Giving Thanks

Traditions are a great way to remember and celebrate family and togetherness. Also, going back to this post.. children love familiarity. Family traditions are not only easy to do, but bring comfort and security to our little ones!

This year, we are going to start a new tradition for Thanksgiving (the only thing you need is a plain table cloth and a permanent marker). Every Thanksgiving each member of the family is going to write down what we are most thankful for and the date on the tablecloth. Even if your children can not write yet, you can write it down for them! (i.e. Maybe your 1 year old is thankful for bananas... Or your 3 year old is thankful for her teddy bear!) This tradition not only cultivates a heart of thankfulness in our children (and us!)... but will be a keepsake for years to come!


Whether it's the tablecloth or some other tradition, what a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving... to give thanks to our Father in heaven who has poured out His blessings upon us!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Humidifiers 101

Humidifiers are mom's best friend.

I never thought I would own a humidifier.... never even knew how valuable this little appliance would be in my life until I had a baby...

-Humidifiers add moisture to the air which helps with keeping your baby's (and your) skin, nose, and throat from getting dry. This is especially helpful during the winter time when the heater is on and the air gets extremely dry.

-Humidifiers are crucial (doctors recommend this) when your child has a cold. Increasing the air moisture is a common way to help your child feel better when he is congested and for other cold symptoms (such as cough and sore throat).

-Some humidifiers are loud enough that they work as "white noise" and help your baby to sleep better and longer.

The down side to using a humidifier is that they need to be cleaned out regularly because of white dust and mold build up. Also, most humidifiers often need their filers replaced which add to the cost. All in all, they are a great investment (or must have) especially if you have little ones.

I have had to purchase several humidifiers before finding one that doesn't leak, get the floor wet from too much vapor, and/or produce get moldy easily.... Here's one by Crane that has been the best machine so far (and they have such cute designs!)... but if you have any recommendations, please do let me know! I'm always on a search for a great humidifier!


Another one that was recommended by a friend is this one by Kaz.



Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Five Herbs For Winter

Herbal medicine works on colds and flu in two ways: 1) by building the immune system, and 2) fighting the virus. Below are five herbs that can help boost your immune system's cold-fighting power this winter season according to Dr. Iman Bar. Dr. Bar recommends using organic herbs and boil the water (to make tea) in stainless steel pots and not aluminum. These are all great herbs to help you and your little one stay healthy naturally!

ELDERBERRY

The elderberry flower is prescribed in some countries to treat fevers and increase bronchial secretions associated with colds.





JUNIPER

Juniper contains a potent antiviral compound that seems to inhibit many different viruses. Many herbalists recommend it as a cure for flu.





LEMON BALM


Lemon balm is one of the most traditional herbal cures for flu and has been used for centuries. It relieves many of symptoms of flu, bringing relaxing sleep, relieving cramps and gas, stopping spasms, and relieving pain.




LICORICE


Licorice is a powerful antiviral. It is used for treating symptoms of flu, including sore throat, bronchitis, cough, and arthritis. Licorice is widely available but limit your intake. And do not take licorice if you are pregnant- it has been associated with premature births.






GINGER

Ginger contains ten antiviral compounds. It reduces pain and fever, acts as a cough suppressant and is "warming"- it can help heat the body up, helping you to "sweat it out".








To read more on this topic go here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Passing on the Faith

Three things that will help pass on your faith to your children... and to your grandchildren...

1) Have dinner as a family minimum 3-4 days/week.
2) Father should be involved spiritually outside the home (i.e. Get involved at church, serve in a ministry, etc. Not just pray for your children at home).
3) Attend church as a family.

-Kenton Beshore




Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Non-violent Kids

I was reading this article by a Christian author, professor, and clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, Dr. Linda Mintle. The article is titled Raising Nonviolent Teens, and I thought it had very interesting principles that parents of young children, as early as preschoolers, can apply now.

Raising Nonviolent Kids

By Dr. Linda Mintle

If you watch the news each night, you understand what a violent society we live in today. There are things you can do, however, to raise children who are peaceful, loving, and kind.

Take a moment and evaluate how well your family is doing in several significant areas:

  • Be Stress-free

Is our family life full of stress? We all have stress. But too much stress over long periods of time depletes our abilities to cope. People reach a breaking point and sometimes act out in violent and aggressive ways. Are our stress levels manageable?
  • Family Support

Do family members support one another? People do better at coping with stress when they have support. Everyone needs love, caring, affirmation and regular support. Do we provide support for each other?

  • Mind Your Kids

Are we vigilant when it comes to monitoring our kids? There are simply too many dangerous influences in the culture. We have to keep on top of what kids are exposed to and what they bring into our homes. Privacy, in my opinion, is overrated in most households. There has to be supervision and screening of media. Kids and teens are not mini adults. They need guidance. You can’t guide when you don’t know what is going on or are too busy.

  • Talk About It

How well do we communicate? Without communication, you won’t know what is going on in the minds and hearts of your kids. You need to ask because they won’t always volunteer information.

  • Resolve Conflicts Well

Do we have healthy ways to resolve conflicts? Are we modeling and teaching anger control and nonviolent ways to handle life problems? Are we teaching problem-solving skills, conflict resolution and patience?

  • Discipline Your Kids

Do we have appropriate and effective discipline in our home? Do we provide consequences for problems behaviors? Are we consistent and predictable? Not too rigid or not too lenient?

  • Right vs. Wrong

Do our children know what is right and wrong? It is our job to train up our children. Have we provided a strong spiritual and moral framework for living? Does our family understand how to employ nonviolence?

  • Show Them Love

Do we show family members unconditional love? We need to discipline and correct children but our love is unconditional. Does everyone feel loved no matter what? This is God’s way.

  • Develop Your Relationship

Do we have strong and meaningful relationships with our children? This is the number one protection for any teen risk behavior.

  • Model Nonviolence

Are we prepared to model nonviolence? Jesus was nonviolent. He showed great compassion for people. He stood His ground but did not become aggressive, violent, foul-mouthed, disrespectful and hurtful to others. His Gospel is radical in that it teaches us to love our enemies, pray for those who use us, bless those who curse us and turn the other cheek.

Concerns

"We need to be more concerned about others needs and our character,
than others character and our needs."

Annonymous

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What Does Poison Ivy Look Like?

Here are a few helpful sites that talk about Poison Ivy, Poison Oak and Poison Sumac. Thes sites give a description of what they look like, possible skin reactions after touching these plants, and medicinal & home remedies: Information Center and WebMD. I have heard the phrase, "Leaves of three, let it be." However, I didn't know there were so many variations. Here are just a few pictures.

POISON IVY


POISON OAK



Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Power of Touch

I got some great advice from my mother growing up, in all stages of my life. Being a Christian Psychiatrist, she goes to conferences and is always doing research to keep up with the latest in medicine and the human psyche, so she knows a thing or two about people. When I got married, she told me that a key element in marriage is touch. “Make sure to touch your husband at least ten times each day.” As a newlywed, I used to think one hundred touches a day was hardly enough!

Well, 5 years and 2 children later . . . I am beginning to see what my mother was talking about. I give a brief hug and kiss to welcome my husband home, quickly give updates about the kids’ day, make sure dinner’s ready and everyone eats, have my husband fix the broken lamp, remind him that garbage day is tomorrow, get the kids bathed and teeth brushed, finish house clean-up and then bed.

So, in my experience, in the hurriedness of each day, it’s easy to overlook the simple gestures of showing love and support through affection. I think I would even add to the ten-touch rule that eye contact is very important too. And on top of that, I would also add that our children would benefit from this rule if we gave them more hugs and nurturing pats on the back each day.

Make a conscious effort to show love and support to your family members with a soft squeeze on the arm, nurturing pats on the back and LOTS of hugs! It will help you slow down and appreciate a little more the people you love each day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Maximize & Minimize

I heard a speaker recently talk about how we moms tend to maximize our FAILURES and minimize our ACCOMPLISHMENTS. There are so many things during the day that we feel we could have done, should have done, or should have done differently. This will naturally make us discouraged about our role as a parent... and our life in general.

Instead of maximizing our failures and minimizing our accomplishments, the speaker challenged us to:

MAXIMIZE our ACCOMPLISHMENTS and MINIMIZE our FAILURES

We can do this by focusing on the things that we did right, excellent, or things that simply made our kids and our family smile.... like preparing food for them, singing a song, reading a book.... the little things in life are often times the biggest accomplishments! :)

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Parenting Styles

It is easy to judge how others parent, discipline and raise their children. Somehow I find myself believing that the way I parent is better or healthier or more effective. The truth is... parenting is HARD. And the more experience I gain as a parent, the more I realize that every parent does what she or he can with the knowledge, wisdom, resource, and finance that are given to them.

When you first have a child, you have a plan. Some will plan to birth naturally, others will schedule a c-section. Some will plan to breastfeed for a year, others choose to give formula. Some will plan to sleep with their baby, others will choose not to. Some will plan to spank their child, others will choose to discipline a different way.... Well, soon you find out that these are just plans... Sometimes you do the best you can, and it doesn't go as planned.. Other times you realize that what you thought would work, simply doesn't.. so you try something else. This is what happens in the course of parenting.. trial and error.

Having grace and understanding towards the way others parent is crucial... You don't want to be judgmental of others because you never know what their situation is like. It is also important to have a teachable heart.. You can learn A LOT from other moms...and let's face it, we're not even sure if we're doing the right thing half the time!!

"All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another,
because, 'God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."
1 Peter 5:5

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October Fun


Fall is a great time to introduce new experiences to your child. Going to a pumpkin patch is tons of fun because there's so much color. Your child can see different kinds of pumpkin shapes and sizes -tall, wide, extremely heavy, cute & lite! Sometimes pumpkin patches offer other activities like face painting, pony rides and even air bouncers where kids can slide and jump with their shoes off.

Another fun activity to do during this fall season is to make an autumn collage. This is a good sensory experience for the kids. Start by going outside to find different leaves (varying in color, shapes and sizes), or even pine cones, small sticks, or nuts. Bring a box with you to hold the items. Then go inside and talk about what your child found. Use glue to paste the interesting items onto colorful construction paper.

And, as a Halloween alternative, check with your local churches. There are usually fun events going on where you can take your child in costume to enjoy food, fellowship and games in a warm, safe environment.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Great Authors!



















Karen Katz & Sandra Boynton are two of our favorite authors! The colorful pictures and playful writing really make babies and toddlers intrigued (and even make them giggle!) Both authors have written and illustrated many books on various topics... including good manners, potty training, sleep, alphabet, etc. You can typically find their books in any stores that carry children's books.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Perspective

God has given my friend a gift of perspective... along with a great attitude and sense of humor.

She was telling me one evening that she can't believe how "some people will spend hours and hours (maybe days) researching and finding the BEST and SAFEST sippy cup for their children... but they will yell and argue with their husband in front of them."

So true right?

I felt convicted when she said this.. not because I spend hours researching on a sippy cup, nor do my husband and I yell at each other in front of our kids... but how often have I invested my time and energy into something that matters so little... and put little investment in something a whole lot more valuable.. Too often.

I pray that God would give me better perspective on life. I pray that I would not waste my time, my emotions, my temper, my money, my anger and fears on things that are of little importance. Rather, I hope that I see the big picture and appreciate, enjoy and most of all, care about things that God wants me to care about.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Expecting the Unexpected

Today, I heard a speaker (a mother of two boys) talk about "expecting the unexpected". She was saying that our life as a mom is like an airplane ride.... there are times when the ride is smooth, times when it's rocky... and some times you may feel like you're going to crash!

Life is already full of unexpected things without kids... but as soon as you conceive, that number seems to multiply by a hundred times. It is good and healthy for us to expect there to be some turbulence throughout our pregnancy, delivery, and post-delivery. So when things occur the way you didn't plan them to... well, let's just pray that we would have the ability, strength and wisdom to seek our omniscient God who sees all and knows all!! Whatever situation we are in, He is there to hold our hand (and your little one's hand too!) and guide the way.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Bibles



Children love stories! Parents cannot go wrong buying childrens Bibles because they are so fun, colorful and full of truth. If you already have one, please don't stop there. Try a Bible by a different publisher. Kids love reading a variety of books on the same subject. My children love their collection of Bibles. They love the different illustrations and colors and familiar stories -like Noah's ark bringing in the animals two by two!

One that was recommended to me is called, "The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name" by Sally Lloyd-Jones.


To find Bibles for your child, visit your nearest Christian book store, a Barnes & Noble or Borders. You can also order online on Amazon or on Christian Websites like, ChristianBook.com.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Neo To Go!


For all you moms on the go, this is a cute, no-mess topical antibiotic for all your child's cuts and scrapes. You don't have to look for the lid, or wipe off excess ointment. Just spray and go! I've loved this cute and compact product, and won't go anywhere without it!

A Child to Love

You can have your wealth and riches,
All the things so many seek,
Position, power, and success,
The fame you long to keep.

You can earn as much as you wish,
Reach a status high above,
But none of these can equal
Having one sweet child to love.

'Tis the greatest gift from heaven,
Little arms that hold you tight,
And a kiss so soft and gentle
When you tuck them in at night.

A million precious questions
And each story often read,
Two eyes so bright and smiling,
And a darling tousled head.

God has never matched the goodness
Of a trusting little face,
Or a heart so full of laughter
Spreading sunshine every place.

A child to hold and cuddle,
'Tis a gift from God above,
And the world is so much brighter
When you have a child to love.


-Author Unknown-

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Pressing On!

I was listening to a Joyce Meyer CD from one of her recent conferences... and she was talking about how we often times pity ourselves and/or make excuses for not being able to do, complete or succeed in the tasks that are given to us. Joyce Meyer says that "self-pity is the most debilitating thing there is" because it robs us of our strength and life. She says that we simply need to "PRESS IN, PRESS ON, and PRESS THROUGH!!"

As a mom, this is just what I needed to hear.. especially because when things are tough, when money is tight, when the kids are misbehaving, when the house is a wreck, when the dishes aren't done, when dinner has to be prepared.... it is easy to get stressed, complain, or just want to cry...

How neat it is to know that the Lord gives us the strength to PRESS IN, PRESS ON, and PRESS THROUGH any situation and any circumstance!!! God is good!! I pray that you will lean on the solid ROCK today... who gives you supernatural strength to be the best woman, mom and wife He has created you to be!

"I can do ALL things through Christ, who strengthens me."
Philippians 4:13


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Smoothies!

My boys are always trying to get up from their seat as soon as they sit down for their meal. If you have hyper boys who don't like to sit still to eat, smoothies can be a great alternative to getting nutrition fast. There are plenty of simple recipes for getting fruit and calcium intake. Below is an example of one of my favs. The measurements are up to your tasting, but here's a rough guideline.

Add the following ingredients to your blender:
1 banana
(I prefer frozen slices of bananas that I previously cut and froze)
3/4 cup of berries (fresh or frozen)
1/4 cup vanilla yogurt or fl
avored
3/4 cup milk
OR orange juice
1/2 cup crushed ice (optional, in case you want it slushy)
Mix for 30 seconds or until smooth

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Relief from Mosquito Bites





On my recent trip to the midwest, summer nights were the most fun. However, campfires, hiking trails, and swimming in the lakes gave me and my children many mosquito bites. It was already hard for me to stop scratching, but to get my kids to stop scratching seemed impossible. My wise aunt suggested dipping a cotton ball in vinegar and applying it topically. It worked instantly! The itching went away and so did the swelling. I researched online home remedies for insect bites, and sure enough, vinegar was one of the top suggested!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Home

"A woman who understands what is TRUE, RIGHT, and LASTING
creates and establishes a home for her husband and family
where SECURITY, ENCOURAGEMENT, and PEACE dwell."


-Cynthia Heald

Monday, September 14, 2009

Community

If you are a mom seeking community and/or support group with other moms.. check out MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers).

MOPS is a Christian faith-based organization that hold events and meetings at local churches for mothers with little ones. MOPS typically meets once a week where you can build relationships with other moms as well as listen to speakers discuss a variety of topics such as nutrition, marriage, illness, etc. They also have a great childcare/"muppets" program where children from newborn to kindergarten can attend and enjoy a morning of songs, games, etc. MOPS is most of all a great place for us moms to share and listen to what others are experiencing and learning about life and motherhood along with you...

You can find a MOPS group near your area here.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Probiotics

With flu season just around the corner, none of us are looking forward to our kids catching some kind of bug/illness from the park, store, daycare, church, etc. We can only do so much to wash and wipe their hands when they are out and about... but what we can do is to help boost their immune system to fight the bacteria.

Most of us know that sleep and diet are major factors in strengthening our immune system... but probiotics is another way to ensure good health. Probiotics are ”good” bacteria that are ingested in some fermented foods (like yogurt) or via pill, powder or liquid supplement. These health-promoting, live bacteria take up residence in the stomach to keep bad bacteria in check.

According to Dr. Sears, probiotics:
-Boost intestinal immunity
-Promote a healthy gut environment
-Reduce intestinal allergies
-Produce healthful nutrients

Breastfeeding automatically promotes the development of healthy bacteria. But you are giving your baby formula, or would like to give probiotics to you baby in addition to the breastmilk, there are brands out there that are for children ages 0+ (such as this one below).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Because I Love You...

The other day my daughter took a nap at 1pm and didn't wake up until 5pm! Her bedtime is usually around 7/7:30pm but I knew she was going to have a hard time falling asleep that evening. So... instead of dreading the evening, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and told her that "we are going out to see the moon!".

Little did she know, I was planning to take her to the nearby mall to see the moon from a ferris wheel! She was already ecstatic about leaving the house when she was supposed to be getting in her pajamas and brushing her teeth... but when she saw that we were going to get on the ferris wheel she was squealing (and squeeking) with excitement. It was her first time going on the ferris wheel at night. It was dark. There were bright colorful lights. And when we were at the top, the moon was RIGHT in front of us... as if it was waiting to see my daughter all day.

Our spontaneous night out was A LOT of fun. I really just wanted to bless her because I love her so much. As we were spending time together that night, the Lord reminded me of how He takes us on these fun and spontaneous dates and adventures when we least expect it. Just as a parent loves surprising his child, the Lord enjoys blessing His children ... simply because He loves us.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Happier Children

My husband told me about a sermon he heard on the radio during his drive home from work. The message shared a lot of wisdom and insight about raising children.
Parents do not provoke your children because it easily leads to discouragement. And when children are discouraged, they easily sway from the light of the Word of God.

Here are three common ways parents can easily provoke children.

1). Overprotection
2). Nagging
3). Comparisons (to siblings, cousins, friends, etc. )

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fulfillment

"We ought to be comfortable to live with, because we are not demanding, but understanding. Controlled by Jesus Christ, we are free from obsession with self, and can listen, love and pray.

Our basic fulfillment does not come from marriage, from prestige, from position, or from possessions. It comes as we are so indwelt by God that his fellowship meets our inner need and we experience the outworking of his love through us."

-Gladys M. Hunt-

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Melissa & Doug

I am a BIG fan of Melissa & Doug toys. During the past two decades, this company has produced a variety of SAFE, EDUCATIONAL and FUN toys for babies and toddlers! These toys are known to promote hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, plus early shape matching, color recognition and sequencing skills.. not to mention VOCABULARY!

They are well known for their colorful wooden puzzles such as:

this FARM CHUNKY PUZZLE

and

the CONSTRUCTION CHUNKY PUZZLE
They also have a TON of wooden toys like this STACKING TRAIN:

and

PLAY FOOD


Other fun and creative toys:

BUG CATCHING MAGNETIC PUZZLE GAME




LACE AND TRACE SHAPES

ABBY & EMMA MAGNETIC DRESS-UP

As you can see, they have a HUGE selection.. you are sure to find something that your little one will enjoy! You can find their products at most toy and department stores such as Target, Toys R Us & Nordstrom.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Feel Better Fast

For mothers who catch a cold or flu-like symptoms and need a homeopathic remedy - Oscillococcinum by Boiron is a must! You can get it at Whole Foods and other organic grocery stores.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Psalm 127:3

"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one's youth."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ode To Edamame


I'm greatly surprised at the enthusiasm both my boys have towards edamames. They are more than content to eat them as a snack or as a vegetable side dish. I simply open one side of the pod to make it less challenging to open for my little one years old's fingers. It's easy to find in the Trader Joe's frozen food section. Thaw in the fridge or microwave and serve. According to an article in MedicineNet.com titled, The Secret of Edamame, I was happy to read that the nutritional value is very encouraging and also a favored snack by celebs.

Here's what you'll find in a half-cup serving of shelled edamame (or 1 1/8 cup edamame in the pods):

  • 120 calories
  • 9 grams fiber
  • 2.5 grams fat
  • 1.5 grams polyunsaturated fat (0.3 grams plant omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 0.5 gram monounsaturated fat
  • 11 grams protein
  • 13 grams carbohydrate
  • 15 mg sodium
  • 10% of the Daily Value for vitamin C
  • 10% Daily Value for iron
  • 8% Daily Value for vitamin A
  • 4% Daily Value for calcium

As you can see, that little serving of edamame gives you a bunch of fiber: 9 grams, about the same amount you'll find in 4 slices of whole-wheat bread or 4 cups of steamed zucchini. It has almost as much protein as it does carbohydrate. It contains around 10% of the Daily Value for two key antioxidants; vitamins C and A. And for a plant food, it's quite high in iron; it has about as much as a 4-ounce roasted chicken breast.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Building Memories

I remember the time an older man asked me when I was young, "Do you know what you are doing now?"
I thought it was a trick question.

"Tell me," I said.

"You are building memories," he replied, "so make them good ones."

("Walking From East to West" -Ravi Zacharias)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Simple Meals

SIMPLE, FAST, EASY and HEALTHY meals are every mom's heart's desire right?!

Well, I recently purchased a Real Simple magazine and tried some of their recipes which were very easy to prepare and delicious!! So.. I went on their website and found a plethora of wonderful recipes!! The best part is, you can look up recipes by: main ingredient, course, occasion, cuisine, and/or convenience. There is also a "kid-friendly" option which is super helpful.

I typically check my refrigerator, see what kind of meat I have and search via "main ingredient" and viola! I've also done this with other recipe sites such as allrecipes.com, but what I like most about Real Simple is... well, it's just quite SIMPLE and tasty!

Below are some recipes that I've prepared and really enjoyed:



STEAK WITH SPINACH COUSCOUS - 20mins

Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds flank steak
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 10-ounce box couscous
  • 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta (1 ounce)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Directions
  • 1Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the steak with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook to the desired doneness, 4 to 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Let rest before slicing.
  • 2Cook the couscous according to the package directions; transfer to a large bowl.
  • 3Wipe out the skillet. Cook the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, the garlic, and pine nuts over medium heat, stirring, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Fold into the couscous with the spinach, Feta, lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Serve with the steak.


CHICKEN WITH GRILLED PEACHES AND ARUGULA- 20mins


Ingredients
  • 4 6-ounce boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium red onions, sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
  • 3 peaches, cut into wedges
  • 1 bunch arugula, thick stems removed (about 4 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 ounces blue cheese, broken into pieces
Directions
  • 1Heat grill to medium-high. Brush the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. In a bowl, toss the onions, peaches, 1 tablespoon of the oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  • 2Grill the chicken and onions until the chicken is cooked through and the onions are tender, 5 to 6 minutes per side. Grill the peaches until charred, 2 minutes per side.
  • 3Toss the arugula with the onions, peaches, vinegar, and remaining oil. Top with the cheese; serve with the chicken.



CHICKEN WITH TARRAGON AND LEEKS- 4h30min (slow cooker meal!)


Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 pounds baby new potatoes (about 16)
  • 8 small skinless chicken thighs (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 leeks (white and light green parts), halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 10-ounce package frozen peas
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
Directions
  • 1Place the potatoes on the bottom of a 4- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add the chicken, leeks, wine, and 1 teaspoon salt.
  • 2Cook, covered, until the chicken and potatoes are tender, on high for 3 to 4 hours, or on low for 6 to 7 hours.
  • 3Transfer the chicken and all but 4 of the potatoes to plates. Using a fork, smash the remaining potatoes into the cooking liquid to thicken.
  • 4Add the peas and cream and cook just until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes. Spoon over the chicken and sprinkle with the tarragon.

Monday, August 3, 2009

What's Your Child's Play Style?

As I was perusing the Focus on the Family website, I stumbled across a great description of different toddler's play styles. I didn't even know there was such a thing, but it totally makes sense. Here are a few examples mentioned:

Bob the Builder

These toddlers love to build. But before investing in Thomas or Brio train sets start small. Begin with Duplo blocks or cardboard bricks for stacking. Help your toddler set up a fort with chairs and a blanket. Be sure and join in the fun by crawling inside with a flashlight and a picture book to share. You may want to drive by a nearby house under construction each day and watch its progress. Have dad help your little builder set up a tent in the backyard and then camp together under the stars… or streetlights.

Dora the Explorer

This toddler wants out! Be sure and take your little explorer to the park, on a hike, or down a bike trail. It's also fun to create maps leading to hidden treasures in the house or backyard. You may want to purchase a bug terrarium or butterfly net for backyard exploration. Try visiting the local pet store, zoo, aquarium, or space observatory. A family camping trip is a must.

Lionel (Between the Lions)

Make sure you have your library card ready, ‘cuz books are candy for this little one. Check out story time opportunities in your town at the public library or bookstores. Start a toddler book swap, by asking moms to bring over any used picture books to trade. Take in a theatrical performance of your child's favorite book. Host a literature party where children dress up as their favorite storybook character. Then invite a parent in costume to read some of the books aloud.

To read more about toddler play styles go to It's all Fun and Games for the complete descriptions.

Proof of Love

"The very best proof of your love for your Lord is obedience....
nothing more, nothing less, nothing else."

CHARLES R. SWINDOLL

Thursday, July 30, 2009

We have a lot to live for...

I will never forget this one beautiful morning, when my good friend and I went for a walk to the beach with my 8 week old and her 4 month old.... We were still in our "new mama fog"... trying to recover from sleep deprivation and figuring out breastfeeding, naps, colic, and other newborn-related issues... This peaceful stroll was much needed for our exhausted minds and bodies.

As we were relaxing by the ocean and sipping our warm chai tea lattes... an elderly woman walked by us and took a peek at our sleeping babies. She then looked at us with a kind smile and said, "You have a lot to live for".

To be honest, at first her statement was a bit shocking and intimidating... I felt like saying, "My baby is only 8 weeks and I'm already tired...I can't go on living like this.." But as soon as I got over my whining and complaining, I understood what this sweet lady meant. She knew exactly what we were going through and was trying to encourage us by helping us to see a different perspective. In her one short remark, she intended to say... your children are precious, what you're going through is temporary, you have so much to look forward to, your life will be filled with many fun and joyful memories...

My daughter will be 3 years old this year and I feel like I already know exactly what this lady meant. The first few months of adjusting to being a mom and taking care of a newborn was rough to say the least... but it's such a short period of time and it just gets better and better and better... And I'm sure I have a whole lot more to live for.

I am thankful for this kind woman and for her words of encouragement (and thank God for sending her our way!). And now, I pass it on to you new moms out there... who may be struggling, confused, frazzled or just plain worn-out! "You have a lot to live for" too!!!



Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Saving on Groceries



In this economy, and during this time of financial instability, most of us are having to cut costs however we can. You may be buying less clothing and toys for your children, dining out less often, finding free entertainment for your family by going to the beach or the pool.... I believe a lot of us are on the same boat.

Recently, I have been trying to cut costs by spending less on groceries. This is a HUGE challenge for me because I love eating and cooking for my family. Here are some great ideas/ways to save on groceries (suggested by friends and people I know that have already mastered this!):



1) Use coupons!...Grocery Saving Tips says "Try to think of them as cash and you might be a little more motivated to use them on a regular basis".

2) Stick to "the list"... this takes a lot of self-discipline.. I always find other "goodies" in the store that end up in my cart.

3) Plan meals around sale items... a brilliant idea!

4) Cook in larger portions... it's cheaper and you can save leftovers for nights you don't feel like cooking!

5) Buy store brands.. typically less $$

6) Buy organic items from "The Dirty Dozen" list (below)


The Dirty Dozen- Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic:
1. Meat
2. Dairy
3. Coffee
4. Peaches
5. Apples
6. Bell Peppers
7. Celery
8. Nectarines
9. Strawberries
10. Cherries
11. Kale
12. Leafy Greens

The Clean 15- Foods You Don't Have to Buy Organic:
1. Onions
2. Avocado
3. Corn
4. Pineapple
5. Mango
6. Asparagus
7. Sweet Pea
8. Kiwi
9. Cabbage
10. Eggplant
11. Papaya
12. Watermelon
13. Broccoli
14. Tomato
15. Sweet Potato

Decreasing our grocery budget and disciplining myself to do the above seem like a monumental task... but I am praying that once I get in the habit, it will become easy.... and hopefully fun!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jana Alayra


Have you heard of Jana Alayra?

My neighbors brought over a "Jana Alayra: Live in Concert" VHS when my 2 year old was sick last month... and ever since then, my daughter has not stopped singing her songs!

Jana Alayra is a wife, a mom, an artist... She is an amazing singer that adores children and has been using her gifts to minister to them and to glorify God. In this particular video (right) she sings to a huge audience of children.. and you can tell just how much she cares for them... and the chidlren LOVE her too!




It's a blessing for a mama when you hear your child singing:

"The greatest thing I could ever do,
Is spend my life loving you,
With all of my heart,
With all of my mind,
With all of my strength Lord,
I give you all my life!"
(All My Life)

Or.. she asks me to sing this song when she is not feeling well:

"Whether it rains,
Whether it pours,
Wherever I go,
I will trust you Lord!
In the light of day,
Or in the of dark of night,
I will trust you Lord with all my life! "
(Rain or Pour)

I wanted to tell you about her, if you don't know about her already... because she has been a blessing to my little one and to me too! It's amazing how God can use children's songs to draw us (parents) closer to Him!

Here's a clip of her on YouTube singing at a church in Pasadena.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Hubba Hubba Hubby

This has been a very challenging week. My car broke down in the desert. I was admitted to the ER for heart trouble. My son is very allergic to walnuts, apparently. And there's actually more to the list, but through it all, my husband has been my comfort and strength, encouraging me with prayer and loving support. The dynamic of husband and wife as a pair, as teammates, in taking care of each other and their children is powerful. Take time to appreciate and bless your God-given companion.

For if they fall, one will lift up his companion.
But woe to him who is alone when he falls,
For he has no one to help him up.
Ecclesiastes 4:10

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Baby Shoes

Shoes are one of those things I dread buying for my kids (others are diapers and wipes)... They wear them for a few months and then their little feet grow out of theml! This is why kids end up owning a TON pg shoes! One thing I suggest is, don't even bother investing in shoes until your kiddos learn how to walk (unless you want them wear shoes just to look cute). There are some brands such as Robeez and Pedipeds that are both darling and crawl-friendly.

The tricky part about buying shoes for kids is that they can't be too cheap and/or uncomfortable, or they won't wear them at all. But you also don't want to invest too much $$ on them since they won't be wearing them for too long.

Try to look for bargains at department stores and/or at the outlet. Stores such as Target, often times have inexpensive, cute and comfortable shoes and sandals. Garage sales and hand-me-downs are also a way to go!! Below are a few brands/shoes that may be worth your investment: