Updating our diet: Step 1 - Breakfast

Posted by  | Monday, April 8, 2013  at 11:12 AM  
As you may know, most of the ladies from this blog know a LOT about nutrition and healthy living. I've always been inspired by their dedication to what they put in their bodies. I can remember 7 years ago, when Krista, Margaret, Christina and I were all pregnant with our first babies and teaching school together...Krista and Margaret were eating eggs like they were going out of style and telling me about the Blue Ribbon diet. I saw how beautifully they grew those babies in their bellies and how healthy those little girls have turned out to be.

I feel like my family keeps a diet similar to a lot of my peers...I suppose I consider it "fairly healthy". I cook the majority of our meals, we only eat at restaurants about once or twice a month, and we eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. But I'd say we are "fairly American" in our diet as well. We eat cereal for breakfast 6 out of 7 days, processed cheese, crackers, snack foods, and bread. My kids probably eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich 5 lunches a week and we have more added sugar in our diet than I'm probably even aware of.

Anyhow, I've been inspired to take baby, BABY steps to overhaul our diet. I've heard/read of different ways to go about this, but I finally landed on changing it meal by meal. My first step: change what we eat for breakfast.

Breakfast for my family would be a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios with whole milk. We can go through a lot of cereal and milk this way, especially if I pour the boys a glass of milk to drink along with it. I think this breakfast has a few problems: cost, milk consumption, added sugar, and not enough energy to get us through to lunch. So I sat down with the kids and came up with a list of breakfast alternatives we could try. Here's our list:

Yogurt with Fresh Fruit added
Quick Cook Oats with Brown Sugar
Scrambled Egg Sandwich (on a biscuit with cheese)
Bagel with Cream Cheese

In order not to overwhelm myself and burn out, I started with store bought versions of most of this. The yogurt is Aldi brand nonfat vanilla yogurt, the biscuits are Grands biscuits from a tube, and the bagels and cream cheese are from Aldi. I already made pancakes and waffles from scratch, so that wasn't a change. But I use white flour for them.

Now that we are into week 2 of our new breakfasts, I'm ready to start making a few more changes to them. My first step will be to make my own yogurt. My plan is to follow Money Saving Mom's Homemade Crockpot Yogurt Recipe. I'm going to buy a half gallon of organic whole milk (not ultra-pastuerized) and a container of plain yogurt with live active cultures. My goal is to change the nonfat vanilla yogurt we're eating now to one that has good fat, no sugar, and is organic.

I can already see some results from our changes. We have cut way back on our milk consumption, and everyone has more energy to make it through the morning. Plus I love looking over the table and seeing the boys eat something besides yet another bowl of cereal!

Great music for .25!

Posted by  | Saturday, December 8, 2012  at 1:56 PM  
Songs for Saplings is one of our very favorite places to buy music for the girls.  We absolutely LOVE their Questions and Answers CD's.  They contain great theological truths that kids can remember at a young age and the music is very mellow and not annoying like many children's music.  The songs have raised some great questions for my girls and started some very good discussions.  At this link you can find a coupon code that will allow you to download the first CD for only a quarter!  I just had to share.  The coupon code is good until December 14th.  Enjoy!

Photo Card

Posted by  | Monday, November 26, 2012  at 1:14 PM  
Picture Joy Christmas
Turn your favorite family photos into Christmas cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

A great blog for nursing mothers

Posted by  | Wednesday, September 12, 2012  at 8:04 PM  
I just wanted to let you know that one of our former writers, Krista, now has her own website and blog called Nursing Nurture: Breastfeeding Advice and Support.  It is a fabulous resource and I've learned a lot from both her blog and the articles that she posts on facebook.   Please check it out and you will be encouraged!

Do you make an idol of the perfect birth experience?

Posted by  | Monday, July 30, 2012  at 8:52 PM  
It is SO easy to allow our 'needs/wants' during a birthing experience to steal our joy, take our focus off of Christ, and become our idol. In the article Bowing Down to Your Birthing Ball, Gloria Furman addresses this  issue in a thoughtful, gospel-centered manner. Highly recommended for ladies expecting their first child--or their eighth!

One school year down and ready for another!

Posted by  | Tuesday, July 24, 2012  at 7:46 PM  
As we approach the beginning of a new school year, I decided to evaluate last year and see what I learned... here are my thoughts:

The bottom line? I absolutely LOVE homeschooling!  I am passionate about education and get ever so excited about not only what my girls are learning, but also what I am learning in the process!  I love having my girls home all day with me and although we've had our share of unproductive or down-right bad days, I wouldn't change it for anything!

My absolute favorite part about homeschooling?  Without a doubt it is spending hours of our week snuggling on the couch reading my all time favorite childhood books to my girls.   That is definitely my favorite part of our day!

My downfall?  Curriculum.  I'm a nerd.  I love books.  I love it all.  I want to do it all.  I want to buy each book I see.  I always plan waaaaay to much.  You remember my "great plan" for the beginning of the year?  Yeah, I pretty much only followed for a few days.  It was too structured for a baby with a changing schedule (who didn't want to follow "my" schedule :).  And it didn't leave enough time to take advantage of those "teachable moments" or to really dig in deep to our favorite read-alouds.  I was also going to do a "Letter of the Week" theme for Karlie but soon found out that she had learned all of her letters and sounds already from Karis and was pointless.  So I just did phonograms with both of them instead.

The best advice given to me?  A sweet friend named Jessica who has 3 precious stair-step children (even closer in age than mine!) told me not to try to start it all at once.  To start one thing, build it into a routine, and do it well for a week or two or even a month before adding something else.  Then work on doing those two things til we were set in the habit and ready to add something else.  Very simple, but priceless advice.  It worked.  My girls thrived on doing the one bit of schoolwork I had them do every morning and then got ever so excited each time I finally added another piece to our routine.  We ended up with only 3 real schoolwork periods: a short 10 minute breakfast memory board, a longer reading time on the couch, and a half hour table work time in the afternoon.  "Preschool" really doesn't take long. (If you want to see how our schedule ended up, you can click HERE to see a longer version of this post on my family blog.)

Favorite Curriculum/ Books we used:
For Teaching Karis to Read:
The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading -- the girls loved the initial alphabet rhymes but the reading part was not super exciting.  Still, it has a great simple phonics and grammatical progression and is exactly what Karis needs.  I am more than happy with it.
Alphaphonics -- I take turns with this and the above to give Karis some variety and to help with fluency.  She likes that the letters are larger.
Bob books: She reads me one story each school day and they get progressively more difficult.  It has been great to use them as we go through our phonogram cards because she sees how the phonograms help her figure out words.  I just get these from the library.
The Writing Road to Reading and phonogram cards  --  The book is great and I am certain I will utilize its techniques next year since Karis is actually writing more now.  The phonogram cards are key -- there are only about 70 key phonograms in the English language and once a child can recognize them, she can figure out how to read almost any word.  They have REALLY helped Karis take off with her reading.  We memorize several a week and say them each morning as we do our "breakfast memory board."
Explode the Code Workbooks -- she absolutely LOVES her workbook and I am thrilled with the effortless way it teaches her to read and practice her handwriting as well.  This is probably her favorite "reading resource"

Chapter "Read-Alouds":  Our favorite part of the day is curling up on the couch with a good book!  I absolutely LOVE Sonlight's reading list for preschool and kindergarten.  We did not buy the curriculum, but instead I just got most of the books from the library.  There are a few great collections that I purchased from Amazon, but most of them are at our library.  I also requested books from the library from THIS classical book list.  

For this year:  We plan to do Classical Conversations for our science and history foundation and I will add read-a-louds and activites to supplement as I have time.  (Probably not too many the 1st year as I get used to the program.)  I plan to continue with our current phonics materials and Sonlight read-a-louds and add Saxon math to our schedule as well.  And I think that should do it!  I am very excited about the upcoming school year!

Audio and Video from The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference

Posted by  | Tuesday, July 10, 2012  at 9:07 PM  
Three weeks ago, I had the wonderful opportunity to attend The Gospel Coalition Women's Conference in Orlando Florida. This conference gave almost 4000 women the opportunity to dig deep into God's word and be encouraged in the gospel and their various roles in life. I came away greatly encouraged, knowing more about God and His gospel, and have a deeper fellowship with the ladies with whom I traveled. God is great, and God is good, and I am grateful for the chance to grow closer to Him during that weekend.

Now, The Gospel Coalition has posted audio and video of all of the plenary sessions and workshops. This is a wealth of information and encouragement that I encourage everyone to use! You can find the links here. It is hard to choose a favorite (or several favorites), but I recommend Paige Benton Brown and Carrie Sandom's plenary sessions. They are probably unknown names to you, but their biblical teaching was deep, sound and thoroughly edifying and encouraging. I could not attend all of the workshops, unfortunately, but Kathy Chapell's parenting session and Jani Ortlund's marriage session were both incredibly helpful. Listen to them, and let me know which ones you enjoy!!

Happy Independence Day

Posted by  | Wednesday, July 4, 2012  at 10:23 PM  

I found this yesterday, and I had to share it. I love diagramming sentences, but I must confess I would be completely at a loss for how to diagram this:

Graphic courtesy of http://www.german-latin-english.com/diagramdecind1.htm.
For more detail, see http://leighbortins.com/declare-and-diagram/


Some Random Favorite Links...

Posted by  | Saturday, June 23, 2012  at 7:32 PM  
You have probably noticed that the POH authors are taking a little break from writing this summer...  we are all quite busy with our families and summer plans.  We might post every once in a while if we find something that we think might be encouraging to you, but we are not going to try to schedule posts every week.  We hope you are having a wonderful summer and are making lots of special memories with loved ones!

Here are some articles/ links/ recipes I have enjoyed lately:

The "littleness" of motherhood -- another convicting and encouraging article by one of my favorite writers

Chicken Lazone is our absolute favorite recipe right now.  We probably have it at least once every other week.  It is so quick and easy and delicious over a bed of quinoa.  I leave off the seasonings for my girls' chicken so it won't be too spicy for them and their pieces absorb just enough of the spices from ours that it is delicious to them.

A great website for downloading free audio books that I have used greatly in finding stories for my girls for rest time.

This article was very helpful to me in understanding the developmental grasp of a child and helping me to chill out about the way Karlie holds her pencil.

These questions are really fun to ask the kids about any family member.  I printed out the answers on a pretty piece of paper to give to the grandparents for Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Here is an inspiring note to moms of littles.

Natural tick prevention and treatment

My new favorite granola recipe!  She gives a gluten-free option which I now need because my 3-year old needs to eat GF.  I absolutely love the texture and crunch of the toasted buckwheat added to the normal deliciousness of granola!

A great reminder about the "bulk effect" in parenting

We went to The Twisted Fork Restaurant and I fell in love with their Tia Maria Cake -- a friend gave me this recipe that I would really like to try out!

The Long-Term View

The Comparison Game

Posted by  | Wednesday, May 23, 2012  at 8:54 AM  
It is so easy to get into the comparison game, especially as a mom. Our sinful nature compares our lives with those of others who seem to have it 'more together', and we start to live in worry, fear, and doubt. We question everything we do, we try to do more, and we begin to put our worth in what we do instead of finding our worth and value in what Christ has done. Tim Challies has a great blog post about Competitive Mothering that is 'spot on' regarding this subject.

Please know that the authors of POH write their posts to encourage and uplift our readers, and we never intend to hold up our lives as "the only way." May you be encouraged by what we and other moms in the blogsphere write, and may you rest in Christ's conquering of sin on your behalf. Christ is all that matters--not your schooling choices, number of children, or monthly menus. Trust in Him! (If you do not know what it means to trust in Christ, please ask us! I also recommend you read The Story, which explains who made us and why we were made.)

Prayer Journaling for Your Husband and Children

Posted by  | Wednesday, May 9, 2012  at 4:34 PM  

Hi friends, it's Leah F! One of my dearest friends recently wrote about journaling and praying for your children, and I thought it would be a blessing to our Prayer of Hannah readers. Thanks for reading.

"So train the young women to love their husbands and children." - (Titus 2:4 ESV)

I learned this very well from my mentor, Phyllis, through the years as I've watched her diligently and passionately pray for her husband and children, and their spouses, and now her grandchildren.  As I've started my own for my husband, and now my Baby Boy Campbell coming in September, I wanted to share some thoughts and how-tos that I've learned from her over the almost 20 years of knowing her.

1.  Get paper.  I remember after my second date with my husband, I went to B&N later that night and got a moleskin notebook and started journaling and praying for him, knowing one day I would give it to him at our wedding.  And I did.  He is reading through it now.  But, really, ladies...you don't need a moleskin or fancy notebook.  You can use a journaling Bible (like this one from Crossway) and journal through your reading in there or just grab some loose-leaf paper and stick it in a folder (like we did back in high school, before everything needed to be turned through a computer).  The paper doesn't matter, the action does.

2.  Get a pen/pencil/crayon.  I have tried to steer away from pens that will bleed through the pages of my moleskin (almost done with a #2 right now) but sometimes a bleed pen is the only one around.  I would also challenge you to get a real pen and paper (not a computer) because you'll be able to cherish these notebooks for years to come and your children and husband can read them as well!  I know we are a techno world now, but I truly believe that some things are better hand-written.

3.  Get a Bible.  One of the MUSTS for this type of praying is that you pray Scripture over your spouse/children.  What Phyllis taught me is that I don't need books or even to be really creative, I just need God's Word.  She trusts in its sufficiency, and so do I.  You don't have to start a new reading  plan - just read.  If you want to, start with the Psalms or one of Paul's epistles or (gasp!) even the book of Deuteronomy.  Pray these Scriptures for your husband/children.  Here is an example from Psalm 112:
   Praise the LORD!
 Blessed is the man who fears the LORD,
  who greatly delights in his commandments!
 His offspring will be mighty in the land;
  the generation of the upright will be blessed.
 Wealth and riches are in his house,
  and his righteousness endures forever.
 Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
  he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
 It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
  who conducts his affairs with justice.
 For the righteous will never be moved;
  he will be remembered forever.
 He is not afraid of bad news;
  his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid,
  until he looks in triumph on his adversaries.
(Psalm 112:1-8 ESV)
"Father, I praise you and thank you that you have given me a Psalm 112 husband.  Thank you for answering that prayer.  I thank you that E fears you more than he fears man and that he takes great delight in your word each morning, even as we are going through James this year as a couple.  I pray that our children, even this little one in my tummy right now, will be blessed to follow and know you and dwell richly and mightily in the land as they seek you wholeheartedly because of your grace and the display of faithfulness of their earthly Father (all because of grace).  Thank you for allowing my E to show me grace and mercy when I fail, and fail miserably at times.  Thank you also that he pursues you and righteousness.  Continue to weigh in his heart and his actions so that they might please you.  I praise YOU that E is a generous man who does not hoard the money that you have blessed us with but wants our giving and our home to be a place of blessing for others.  May we continue to live in that way.  I pray Lord, that even in difficult times, that you would make his heart strong and firm in you - knowing that you never change and that you will lead him in righteousness (Psalm 23).  Do not let him coward and be afraid, but be bold and know that you are God until the day that you make him triumph over his enemies for the glory of God in the world."
And you can take the same chapter and pray it for your children, as I will for baby Campbell.

4.  Pray.  I know this may seem like the easiest one to do, and I do pray for E all the time and pray for baby Campbell as well (honestly mostly in the shower), but do this.  I remember living for a time with my mentor and her family.  I remember waking up early in the morning and walking downstairs, and Phyllis had already been there for hours praying and reading for her soul and the soul of her family.  This was such a testimony to me.  I fail in this so much.  I need more grace to make it happen and to make it a glorious habit.

5.  Save.  Save your journals.  I will save mine.  Got an email from Phyllis this morning even that she has bookshelves and a chest full of these journals.  What a legacy for your children and spouse as they see a wife/mother who first loved Jesus then prayed and loved them as well all the days of her life. 

6.  Side note: I sometimes read these journals to E as a way to encourage him.  I let him read the first one (I gave it to him before our wedding).  I use it as part journal of our marriage too.  So for part of the journal I'm talking to God and part of it I'm talking to E, or baby Campbell in his.  I've already seen how encouraging this can be and how much fruit can be harvested from this daily duty of delight (see John Piper). 

7.  Baby Boy Praying: When I found out we were going to be blessed with a little boy, I immediately wanted to know how I could pray, as a mother, for him to grow into a young man who loved Jesus.  A former boss of mine suggested Boyhood and Beyond by Bob Schulz.  I purchased it and have been reading the short chapters and prayer journaling my thoughts on the gospel and manhood for baby Campbell.  I hope it will be a blessing to him one day. 

PS...You can definitely read through books and pray those for your husband or children.  I remember reading through A Guide to Biblical Manhood written by SBTS Profs Dan Dumas and Randy Stinson and praying through those traits for E before we got married.  By all means, use other things, but let Scripture be your guiding principle!

May I encourage you to begin today to be a wife and mother who lives, has daily dependence on God and His Word and by communing with Him in prayer.  We fail miserably when we try to survive on our own!   Thankful the Holy Spirit works His Word in us and shapes and fashions us according to His Plan and for His glory!

Phyllis - thank you for praying for Billy, Jeremy/Katie, Jill/Matt and all your beautiful grandchildren - and for me.  You have truly been a Scriptural blessing in my life and continue to be so!  Proverbs 31 by grace, you are!   And if you have anything you would like to add Phyllis, please add it in the comments: I still have much to learn!

Kimberly Campbell is a wife, freelance writer and soon to be mom of a sweet baby boy due in September. She blogs at www.kd316.com

You Don't Have to be Perfect--Jaime's story

Posted by  | Tuesday, May 8, 2012  at 10:20 PM  

Tell us a little about yourself.
My name is Jaime. I’m a Florida girl, married to my college sweetheart for 15 years. Mom to John Peter (10), Christopher (8), Jane-Grace (4) at home in Louisiana.  Waiting to bring home Joshua (4) and Georgia (1) from Ethiopia.

Why adoption?
I felt drawn to adoption while in high school, since my best friend was Chinese, and I learned from her  how unwanted girls were discarded there. In college, while dating my future husband, we made it part of our family’s dream plan. He had been to Russia on a mission trip as a freshman, and they had visited orphanages there. We were *so* sure we were headed to China or Russia one day. We certainly did not set out to have a big family, we just set out to be obedient. God showed us the beauty of his adoption of us as his children and heirs, and we embraced him making our family beautiful through adoption.  

Tell us about your adoption process?
We started an application for a Chinese adoption in 2005, and due to some health problems of our oldest child we decided to wait. In 2007, we applied to adopt from our agency’s new program in El Salvador (we no longer qualified for China). In 2008, the El Salvador program was moving very slowly and our agency recommended a change. That’s when we were led to Ethiopia. We brought our daughter, Jane-Grace, home in 2009 at 22 months old. When she had been home about seven months we applied to adopt again from Ethiopia. After waiting 17 months, we received our referral for siblings in February. I just returned from a joyful & successful meeting and court trip in April, and we hope to have them home this summer!

What have been the biggest struggles/joys?
Our struggles have been waiting & being joyful for others while they celebrate their baby’s birth while we endure the pregnancy wait of a pachyderm;  waiting, working , and trusting for our child to attach to us.  God is constantly working in us the heart of a farmer, patiently working the soil he has given us, and waiting for fruit in it’s time.
Our joys have been experiencing the joys of having a daughter, everything girly, and experiencing her vibrant personality that is distinctly her.  We celebrate her adoption and don’t hide it, but there is joy in forgetting too…like when I ask the doctor to check some medical issue because it “runs in the family,” or I joke that my husband does all the yard work because “I birthed 3 babies.” Russell Moore talks about how you start to find ways that your children “take after you” in Adopted for Life, and it’s true! The grandparents do it now also! We can’t wait to experience these joys with our 2 new children!

What is one thing you think our readers need to know about adoption?
You don’t need to be the perfect parent to adopt. You just need to know the One who is perfect. You are not the child’s savior; you are pointing him/her to the Savior. 

**Feel free to follow the Delfosse's story (and see pics of their ADORABLE kids) at their blog: http://notquitebrangelina.blogspot.com.**
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