Tuesday, February 23, 2016

My Kid In the Kitchen: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese and a Bonus!

What a nice treat to have Matt make our lunch for us.

Homemade Macaroni and Cheese
2 out of 4 critics (under the age of ten) loved it.  The others two want the chemical filled boxed kind instead.

Adding the spices...

It's challenging to hold the pot and scrape all the contents out.  Matt usually starts this process, and I help him finish it.

Putting bread crumbs on half.  Gotta please the crowd, right?

The finished product.

Plus, a bonus for Matt.  A Pampered Chef Cooking Show that was very hands on.  

After the party, Matt said "Mom!  We need to go to more of these parties!"

I swear, he's going to break my budget.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Running Around in Circles

It's an abnormally warm winter day.  I step outside of my hibernated state and just breathe.  No jacket, no shoes.

I have three new ideas for my business swirling around in my head.  Yes, my head seems to be always thinking.  Always analyzing.  Always questioning.

Through the screen window, I hear my five year old ask for help.  He wants to come outside but is afraid that he'll let the dog out, too.  I help him, and watch as he wanders around our front porch.

Testing what bare feet feel like after months of being bundled up.

He asks if he can go out to the front yard.  Sure, I reply.  Then, I see him start to run in circles around the raised bed that surrounds our flag pole.

Around, around, and around.

I wonder why he's running around in circles.  I'm curious to know if he has some game mapped out in his mind, or if he is just running some energy out.

I stop just short of asking.

He doesn't always need to take the time to think about the why.  He doesn't have to stop the fun, and explain to me the reason behind his choice.  He doesn't even have to have a reason. 

He feels his body moving through time and space, stomping his feet hard on the ground, challenging himself, breathing the fresh air.  Experiencing joy.

As a mom, an educator by profession, and a newbie entrepreneur, I want to know the why, but I also know the value of just watching your child run around in circles.

Monday, February 15, 2016

An Uncommon Reason to do Freezer Meals

I've been freezer cooking for only six weeks. (I'm no expert)  

I've been freezer cooking for six weeks!! (It's working enough that I didn't disregard the plan at the first mistake.)

Hello!  My name is Wendelyn Daly.  I am a recovering control freak.  I am taking one teeny tiny step at a time to give up said control and free my mind, my time, and my creativity.

As a mama who homeschools her two children, manages a home, passionately loves her husband, volunteers at our church, helps out with the neighbor girl, recently started a business, and wants to make a positive impact on our community (and the world), my brain wants to go in twenty directions at the same time.  Sometimes, my brain can go in three directions, but I do my best work when it has one direction.  That's right.  ONE.  Not always gonna happen, but it's good to be aware of what I need to do to be the most effective.

For years I have wanted to try freezer cooking.  The idea has literally been taking up space in my brain for years.  One winter day, I decided to try it.  I mean, what else is there to do on a winter day when you've exhausted all other options?

I did a little research. Thank you, Pinterest!  I put together seven freezer friendly recipes, and made a shopping list that would cover meals for weeks.  First two overwhelming things completed.  
Then, I went shopping.  I won't bore you with the details, multiple stores, best deals I can manage, blah, blah, blah.

Did I mention I despise grocery shopping?  Like, avoid it until the only option is to eat out.  Eat out?  Why, yes!  I would love to spend (at least) four times as much money to have someone cook and clean up for me.  

I spent an afternoon preparing 14 dump and freeze meals.  Two weeks later, I threw out all but three of the recipes, gathered three more, and started again.

(9 freezer meals, three mini meals for my husband for when the kids and I go out of town, and twenty breakfast burritos to make mornings a little easier.)

That brings us to week six and here's what I've discovered this far:

1) I still have evenings when I would like to prepare a meal.  Spend an hour in my kitchen, puttering around, and making one of those yummy meals that would not freeze well.  Plan accordingly.

2) There are crockpot freezer friendly meals, and there are casserole friendly meals.  Do what fits your day, your week, your life.

3) The hardest part is remembering to take the meal out to thaw the day or the night before.  If I can do it, you can do it. Give yourself time to work on the new habit, and cut yourself some slack.  You're only human.

4) We are not as tempted to our meals out.  When my kids complain they're hungry?  It's a fifteen or thirty minute drive home, and dinner is waiting.  It would take us just as long to swing through the drive through, and the meal at home is way more tasty and a whole lot healthier.  Save money and be more healthy?  Yes, please!!!

5) I have more time.  Originally I looked at how much time it would take to plan for, shop for, and prepare freezer meals, I thought, "Who has that kind of time? and "Would this be the final straw that broke the camels back?"  Seriously, taking a chunk of my time to do the work frees up multiple slots of time.  This has freed my brain of the constant planning, thinking, and doing.

I recently read the book "An Organized Mind" by Daniel J. Levitin.  I am in no way as articulate as the author, but he talks about how our brains are limited in capacity.  If we take information, tasks, ideas, goals, etc., out of our brains, put it on an external memory drive, (like, a piece of paper, a calendar, an app on your phone, etc), you will free up space in your brain.

Guess what I've been doing with my additional brain space?  Playing the piano-- for enjoyment. Journaling.  Reading my Bible. Reading more books.  Enjoying the everyday, and sometimes mundane tasks, more than I had before.  Slowing down, basking in the conversations, the questions and the noticing.  Organizing other areas of our days.  This spills over to leave more time and brain space for the things we enjoy.

Try it!  If not with freezer cooking, then with something else.  Do something that relieves that stressed out brain of yours. 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

My Kids In the Kitchen: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Liam was four when looked at his older brother, Matthew, and said "Will you please stop talking?  I want a turn to talk."

At five, Liam's still finding his voice.  The place where he fits.  His unique passions.  He gets exposure to various activities because his older brother is doing them.  

As his mom, I am constantly reminding myself to slow down, pay attention, and be open to what Liam is communicating. Most of the time, it's not through words.

As I tucked Liam into bed, he asked "Can we make chocolate chip cookies?"  "Well, not right now.  It's bedtime."  "No, not tonight.  Tomorrow." (He made it sound like THAT was obvious, but I'm pretty sure if I had said yes, he would have been out of that bed in two seconds.)  "Yes.  Tomorrow we can make cookies."

Yes.  It's a pretty simple word.  Kinda hard to say when you're mind is running through all the important things you have to get done.  Can I squeeze one more thing into my day?  One more activity that  doesn't feel like it's the highest priority?  I don't even want dozens of yummy cookies around, tempting me.  Mocking my will-power.

I have spent years choosing to make life less cluttered.  Our home, our schedule.
It's not perfect, but it helps me say YES.  To enjoy the yes.

Brotherly love. ❤️

Ready for the oven!

This was the batch that Liam scooped.

The yummy cookies.  This recipe has whole wheat flour and oatmeal in them.  They helped me feel a little less guilty.  A little.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Unconditional Love; How My Perspective Has Changed

"I'm such an idiot." he said.

He looked at my face, and sheepishly corrected himself.

"I feel like such an idiot."

It was one of those parenting moments that I struggle with.  My oldest, who was 9 (1/2) at the time, had chosen to do something that he had been told not to do.  As a consequence, he had to miss watching a television show with the family, going to bed instead.

He apologized, asked for forgiveness, and begged to be able to do something to make it better.  I wasn't sure if it was to correct the situation because he felt bad about his choice, or if it was to change the consequence.  Or both?

Which brings me to the part of the story where I am sitting on the edge of his bed, tucking him in, and he calls himself an idiot.  My mind races back to my own childhood when I had made mistakes and punished myself with negative talk.  It didn't matter if my parents knew what I had done, I felt despair about the horrible person I was.  At 11, or 9.  14, or even 5.

My son talked to me about how "his brain just couldn't remember" and "how there was something wrong with him."

I understood his heart.  I had been there once.  It still lurks over in the darkest corners, waiting for me to forget the truth about my value, God's love for me, His Son's sacrifice, and the people in my life who see me but still they love me and choose to spend time with me.

Gently, I remind my son that he does remember things that are important to him.  How just that day, I had "caught" him doing something I had once instructed him to do.  Without being reminded. 

 How we all make mistakes.  Only God is perfect.

That tomorrow was a new day.  A chance to do it all again.  A chance to remember.

Most of all, how much we loved him.  How much I loved him.  Every bit of him, and nothing he could ever do would change my love.

((I'm very thankful that my oldest feels the need to talk about things, and that he does.  My younger son, who is five, is still learning how to listen to his heart, to talk about issues that may be bothering him.  I have to seek him out and prompt him.))

Parenting gives me a different perspective on God.  It's changed from "The Creator of the Universe finding ways to teach me a lesson, to make me become the person He wants me to be.  I must earn His love by doing better."  to "The same Creator of the Universe, holds me tight while I learn from my mistakes.  His love helps me become the person He knows I am meant to be.  His love for me is unconditional."

Thursday, February 4, 2016

My Kid in the Kitchen: Dinner and a Cooking Lesson

My nine year old chef, Matthew, has totally taken off with his cooking skills.  As a homeschooling mom who leans more towards organic, interest led learning, I get super excited every time I piece together all his accomplishments.

Note-  as much as I love and believe in the "organic, interest lead learning process", I still struggle with traditional schooling habits.  I guess you could say that this journey is not only about my children's education, but my continued education, too.

Matt independently made a spaghetti dinner.  He even browned the hamburger.  (Gulp!  Not sure why, but that was hard for me to let him do.)

Matthew, his brother, and two of their friends made chocolate chip oatmeal bars while I washed dishes.  One of their friend's, who is a natural leader, read the recipe and gave instructions.  The other three took turns measuring, pouring, and mixing.

Our neighbor invited Matt over to her house for a cooking lesson.  He made cheesecake and pizza dough.  I looked at the recipes he brought home and was thrilled to see that he had written part of it out.

It was a wonderful weekend full of delicious cheesecake!

The pizzas that Matt made with his pizza dough.  He needed help rolling it out because it was still cold from being in the fridge.