Saturday, June 28, 2014

Highway 2, Once Again

Our journey to Lake Chelan on Highway 2 inspires me every year, entrancing me under a spell of nostalgia.  A trip I have made every summer for about 25 years, I now spend the drive reflecting on how my life has changed each year, reminiscing a magical childhood and overcome with astounding gratitude for all of my blessings. Last year I was pregnant; now there is a new person here with us! I also have a new sister-in-law and a new nephew! And my sister is engaged! So many blessings. 

Four years ago, I wrote a poem on the way to Chelan and shared it in this post. This year, I did the same . . .

Highway 2, Once Again

Once again,  You Old Familiar Road,
You give needed rest to this old soul.
On the comfort of your path you lay before me,
You promise the same delights of summers I've seen.

Leaving behind the rain,
Oh Blue Sky,
You come peaking out between the peaks.  
Growing, spreading, reaching;
Your edges like fingertips above me,
Pushing back the clouds behind me.

Oh Giant Trees,
Your magical, sparkling, silver leaves
Reflect the sunlight of my youth.
I grew up beneath your boughs.
The pain and the thrill of adolescence
Still lurks in your shadows,
Yet is so far from me now.

Oh Steadfast River,
You take me up
In your relentless current,
Carrying me past each breaking boulder,
Each tranquil pool, so tame.
Never stagnant, ever changing,
Yet always the same.
You know my name.
You toss me and turn me,
Molding and forming my shape,
Softening my edges with your waves.

Oh Steadfast River,  lead me.
Oh Giant Trees, shelter me.
Oh Blue Sky, brighten my way.
Old Familiar Road, take me away.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Trim Healthy Mama!

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post.

Teresa turned nine months old last Friday. I can't believe it! Even Joshua said, "Wow! Only three more months until her birthday." Craziness!

Over the past few months, I have been thinking a lot about my weight and what I was going to do about it. I had hit a plateau in losing the baby weight. Unsure of how I wanted to handle that, I began writing a series of blog posts titled, "The Weight of Motherhood."

I wanted to find a resource with ideas that would help me to live and eat in a more healthful way. I did not want to count anything - calories, carbs, fat grams, etc. I wanted to find a more sustainable, long-term approach to health and weight loss.

I also wanted to connect my health to my faith. My faith has become such an integral part of how I live my life. It effects everything. I want to relate it to what I eat each day and how I take care of myself.  I know that God is calling me to include Him in my health, in how I take care of myself and in ALL aspects of my life - even including things that may seem too small or petty, such as losing baby weight.

While doing a lot of research on Amazon, I came across the book Trim Healthy Mama

It's number of good reviews (545 reviews with 4.5 stars) made me immediately interested in finding out more about it. Upon some more research, I discovered that it was written by two Christian sisters, Pearl P. Barrett and Serene C. Allison.

Their web site describes the book:
Authors Serene Allison and Pearl Barrett provide a comprehensive, Biblically-sound, effective and delicious way to eat for health and weight loss. Written with humor and thorough research, this book will entertain, enlighten and encourage women (and men!) to feed their bodies and souls the way God created us to thrive. Separating scientific realities from the fads, this book addresses the diverse needs of adults and growing children. You’ll never look at food and health the same way again.
Biblically-sound health and weight loss? What does that even mean? It immediately peaked my curiosity.

I began searching for more information from around the web. After a while, I found that two bloggers who I really enjoy have written posts about Trim Healthy Mama, have had success with it and recommend it. Erika Shupe at Large Families on Purpose  wrote a post about Trim Healthy Mama last year. Amy Roberts at Raising Arrows  also has several posts that mention Trim Healthy Mama.

So I bought it!

The Basic Idea Is . . .

The book is pretty large at 642 pages. However, it does include about 250 recipes. So far, I have read about the first 100 pages. So I've got a long way to go.

However, I have read the chapter that explains their basic premise. In ten words, it is: Be more carb conscious and don't eat carbs with fat.

Now, that is REALLY simplifying it. Pearl and Serene are very educated in the science of nutrition. While they aren't nutritionists, they quote many nutritionists, doctors and refer to many different studies. In my opinion, they seem to know their stuff.

Being more carb conscious means choosing great carbohydrates. They do not have you completely take out any food group, which I really appreciate.

For the most part, you don't eat carbs with fat. This does not mean you are on a low fat diet. Rather, you either have a meal with carbs or you have a meal with fat. You only feed your body one fuel source at a time, allowing it to burn more fat. Again, I am really simplifying. I just explained in six sentences what they explained in a few chapters.

They definitely do not advocate a low-fat diet. Quite the contrary! They explain the necessity of fat and encourage you to enjoy full-fat dairy, coconut oil, olive oil, red meat, etc. You just don't enjoy those things with carbohydrates.

There is a whole chapter about how this way of eating is Bibically-sound, which I found very interesting and enjoyed. It helps me to connect my eating habits and my faith.

So, I'm trying it out. Pearl and Serene really advocate long-term health. They say that this is not a race to lose weight. They encourage you to really give it a try for three months before gauging whether or not it's working. Since I began writing about weight loss and motherhood a month ago, I have lost four pounds. I received Trim Healthy Mama two weeks ago. During the first week I began implementing it, I lost two pounds. I have kept them off but so far have not lost anymore.

I really need to be patient. While I say that I want to focus on long-term health, I would also just like a quick fix. Weight loss feels more gratifying when it happens quickly! But I've been down that road before and as it hasn't really worked the way I would like, I am going to give this a try.

I will keep you posted!

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!


Monday, June 23, 2014

Beauty and Motherhood

Continuing the Journey

When I ended my series on weight and motherhood, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I felt as though I had to make a plan to move forward, as I had put it all out there for everyone to read. When I saw people I knew, I wondered if they had read my series. Were they staring at me? Were they assessing how much junk I had in my trunk?

Okay, it wasn't really that bad. But it surely made me feel more self conscious. And I didn't just want to leave it at that. I wanted my journey with weight and motherhood to have a happy ending, and sooner rather than later.

Finding Answers: Researching Nutrition, Health and Motherhood

I began searching for a book. THE book. This is what I do. With any ongoing problem I have in my life, I eventually get to a place where I am at the end of my rope, frustrated and fed up. At this point, I get on Amazon.com. I hunt, browsing dozens of nonfiction books in the selected category: Parenting, homeschooling, health, gardening, parenting, homeschooling.

I realized while I wrote my series that for the past several years, I have read more nonfiction, self-help books about parenting and homeschooling than anything else. In fact, they are the ONLY nonfiction categories I've read about.

When I was about 19, I gained a lot of weight. As I got that under control, I really educated myself about nutrition. Well, that was 12-13 years ago! While writing the series, I realized I hadn't read a book in the category of health in a very, very long time.

I had looked at books about health. I even bought a couple. However, the ones I found in the past several years just weren't what I was looking for. I'm just not that interested in getting ready for bikini season. I won't ever be wearing a bikini again! No matter what weight I'm at, the stretch marks on my tummy from four pregnancies are not cute. And I live in Seattle, not Miami. I wear a bathing suit only a few times a year!


Yes, motherhood is beautiful. And I mean that. But
also notice that I am wearing a sweatshirt at the beach.
It's Seattle! That's what we do! You can understand why
having a "bikini body" isn't all that motivating :)

Being a "Hot" Mom vs. Looking "Like a Mom"

Also, I am SO tired of fitness and diet books for moms with taglines like, "Look Sexy the Way You Did Before You Had Babies Which Completely Ruined Your Body!" Yeah, I'm pretty sure I read that somewhere. You know the kind of books I'm talking about. They always have some hot mom with stilettos walking with a stroller. Does anyone actually do that?

And it just makes me want to yell, WHAT THE HECK IS WRONG WITH LOOKING LIKE A MOM?!

I AM A MOM!

They make it sound like it's some disgusting, mutant, alien species.

Why do we have it so ingrained in us that we only have two choices? To struggle our whole lives so that we look like we did at 22, before we had any children. Or to let it all go and look totally frumpy wearing sweats all the time, with frizzy hair, wrinkles and an ever-growing backside.


The Beauty of Motherhood

WHO SAYS MOMS CAN'T BE BEAUTIFUL?

And not just the, "Wow! You look great for having four kids."

What does this mean? Am I supposed to look awful?

And who says we can't be mostly concerned about our health and well-being, but also care about the way we look?

I really wanted to find a book that mostly spoke about health, but also acknowledged that we all want to look beautiful.

Furthermore, I wanted this book to somehow be connected to my faith. I wanted to have a connection between my faith and what I put in my mouth and how I take care of myself. I knew that if I could find this connection, I would have a lot more success with managing my weight.

I researched. And I prayed about it.

And then, I found two books!

Soon I will share with you the two books that are really helping me in my journey with health, beauty, weight loss and motherhood.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Experiencing Silence at Lunchtime: Listening to the Lord

Pausing in silence and stillness, I take a moment to gaze out my window. I am eating lunch and all of my children are quiet. Teresa, Veronica and Noah are all napping. Joshua is reading quietly in another room. Let's just say this doesn't happen everyday. And if it does, I usually take advantage of it by "getting stuff done."

Today,  I don't. Not that there isn't an eternal to-do list. There always is. But rather than eat my lunch while reading a book, catching up on the news, watching TV, writing a Vacation Bible School letter to parents or writing emails, I decide to close my computer and eat my lunch in silence.

I take a few bites and then set down my fork. I look out the window. The sky and clouds are layered on top of each other in an eternal vastness, reminding me of my Creator. At the moment, I remember that He is with me. I feel His presence. I immediately begin to talk to Him in prayer, "Thank you for this moment of silence."

Upon saying the word "silence," I realize that I am disturbing the silence with my own thoughts and prayers. Instead, I choose to listen. I close my eyes and breathe deeply in and out, only whispering in my mind a couple of time, "I praise you."

My heart beats harder in my chest, reminding me that God is not only around me but within me. I am filled with the Holy Spirit.

I open my eyes. Looking out the window renewed, the world is actually, literally brighter. The sun has peaked from behind a cloud and streams of sunlight pour down. A flying bug lands on our deck. I continue to observe God's creation. A small bird lands just outside my window. It flutters around and lands over and over and finally flies away. The branches sway gently. God is all around me. Tears fill my eyes.

The moment comes and the moment goes, ebbing and flowing from me like the tide. Eventually it passes. I wait to see if there is any more, not wanting it to slip away. But of course it does. Ironically, when the moment has gone, I immediately pop open my laptop to write it down. It was so wonderful, I wanted to remember it and share it.

All of this occurred on a random Monday afternoon.

I recently shared a five-part series on weight and motherhood. After that, I thought a lot about it and wondered what my next step would be. I prayed a lot about it, did a lot of research and have been reading a lot.

But one lesson that I've learned so far is to turn off the computer, the Kindle, the TV and just eat. Experience my meal. Savor it. Enjoy it. And thus, be more satisfied. Not just with the actual food, but with the experience of enjoying a meal.

If I hadn't done that last Monday afternoon, the silence and the stillness would have slipped by and I would not have even noticed the way the Lord was trying to speak to me in that moment.

Monday, June 16, 2014

You Can Draw Bible Stories for Kids - My First Giveaway!

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post.

You Can Draw Bible Stories for Kids is a wonderful book for children which I recently had the honor to write a review for. You can read the review here. We have really enjoyed this book and my boys ask to use it all the time!



Well, now it's your turn to get a chance to own a copy of this book during my first free giveaway. This book will be a new, simple and fun way to help your children learn and experience Bible stories.

This giveaway will run until 8 pm on Friday, June 20th. There are three different ways to enter. You can like Mamma Vintage on Facebook, subscribe to the Mamma Vintage mailing list or leave a comment here.

Enter Below and Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

In the Eyes of a Child = In the Eyes of God

On any given day, I could be sweaty and stinky; have messy, greasy hair; not have showered or consequently shaved in far too long; be wearing a spit-up encrusted bathrobe with damp ends to my sleeves from doing the dishes; have large bags under my eyes due to too many nights with little sleep; be wearing no makeup to cover those bags; not have brushed my teeth; and lastly, have quite a grumpy look on my my face due to tiredness and the disgusting state that I'm in.

On that very same day, Veronica will gaze at me adoringly and say very sweetly and sincerely, "Aaaaaaw - Your eyelashes are SO beautiful."

Overlooking all of my faults when I am at my absolute worst, she is able to see through all of that and love me in an all encompassing way. In the midst of B.O., bad breath and stubbly legs, she still adores me. She still believes me to be amazing and wonderful just the way I am. And I don't even have great eyelashes! In fact, I think they're getting a little sparse!

Jesus is the same way. He doesn't see the selfishness. He doesn't see the laziness. He doesn't see the pride. He is able to look through all of our faults and love us for the one good thing we did that day. Or perhaps more accurately, He sees all of those faults but loves us anyway.

At three years old, Veronica is sometimes able to look at me with the eyes of God. It's very humbling! Of course, I am not worthy of her adoration, but there it is all the same.

Likewise, we are not worthy of Jesus' love and sacrifice for us, but there it is all the same.

If only, as adults, we could see ourselves and see each other the way Veronica sees me. The way God sees ALL of us.

Let that sink in.

Can you look past all of your faults, past all of the things you are ashamed and embarrassed of, past all of the things you don't like about yourself? Can you look past those things and truly love who you are the way a three-year-old loves their parents? The way the Lord loves you?

Can you look past the faults of others? The wreckless driver who cuts you off on the highway? The stranger at the grocery store who rudely insults you? The friend who is always making the same mistakes? The family member who rubs you wrong? Your child who is driving you crazy and refuses to listen? Your spouse who cannot understand where you are coming from?

Furthermore, can you not only look past these faults, but truly love these people, truly see them as your brothers and sisters in Christ?

OF COURSE, NEITHER CAN I.

Today is Pentecost. It is the day that Jesus sent the Holy Spirit onto His disciples so that they might do God's work and spread the good news. It is the day that the Holy Spirit filled the disciples up, giving them powers and strengths that they would not have otherwise had.

Supernatural powers. 

The Holy Spirit is available to all of us. All we have to do is ask. Father Brad said today, "The Holy Spirit tends to go where It is wanted."

May we WANT to receive the Holy Spirit.

May we crave the grace that we can receive only through the Holy Spirit.

And by the power we receive from the Holy Spirit, may we begin to love ourselves and each other the way Jesus does.

And when that seems absolutely impossible, may we be filled with hope. Filled with joy. Filled with the knowledge that we don't have to do it alone, for rather, it is only when we rely on the power of God that we may begin to love the way God does.

It is my prayer that I may begin to see myself and others the way Veronica looks at me; with acceptance, honor, wonder, admiration and love.

It is my prayer that, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I may begin to love the way God loves. It is my prayer for me and it my prayer for all humanity. With all of the bleakness, sadness, torment, hate and desperation in the world, we ALL must pray for this.

Come, Holy Spirit, Come. 







Friday, June 6, 2014

Encouraging "Good Eaters"

"Good eaters." It's kind of a funny phrase, isn't it? I mean, what makes a good eater? Do they chew better? Do they swallow with finesse? It's just funny to think of children as "good" at something that everyone does.

Our children have often been described as "good eaters." If you've read my recent series on weight gain and motherhood, you might be thinking that perhaps our family is a little too good at eating! Perhaps you're right. Still working on that.

So what do we mean when we say "good eaters?" I think it usually means two things. First, a child who is a good eater is not very picky. They may have a small list of foods they don't like, as most of us do. But for the most part, they will eat most foods. Second, a child who is a good eater will eat healthy food for the most part. They will eat their fruits and vegetables and do not demand to survive on fruit loops, mac & cheese and hot dogs.

Now, I am not going to suggest that there is a way to make your child be a good eater. When it comes down to it, you cannot force your child to eat. You will not win that battle. A child who does not want to eat something has complete control over that situation. They can clamp their mouth shut, spit the food out or simply keep it in their mouth and choose not to swallow. While I do believe that we have good eaters, we have had occasional off nights and I have seen all three of these power moves in play.

Those are off nights when something else is affecting the situation - tiredness, most likely. On a normal night, our kids will gobble up peas, green beans, broccoli, avocado, cauliflower, cabbage, cooked onions and garlic, asparagus, curry, salad and many other not kid-friendly foods.

So, is it just luck? Perhaps. But after four kiddos, I think there may be a few things you can do to encourage your child to be a "good eater."

First time trying peas
1. Start early.
If you can, I highly recommend making your own baby food. Have you tasted jarred baby food? I have, just to try it. It was gross! I'm not a big fan of canned peas, and jarred baby food peas are pretty much the same thing, except blended up into green goop. Now, take some frozen peas, lightly steam them, puree them with a little sea salt and -- voila! Yummy baby food!


I think she liked them!
Yes, I taste it. If it tastes good to me, it usually tastes good to the baby.

And yes, I season it. This is huge! Season your baby's food! If you want them to enjoy a lot of different flavors and not demand bland, boring kid food, then get them used to different flavors early.

If you breastfeed, try not to change your diet too much if you can help it. Meaning, if you can, don't take garlic, onions, curry and other strong flavors out of your diet simply because you're nursing. This is your baby's first exposure to flavor. I realize some of these foods may give some babies gas, and if that's the case then of course, take them out of your diet. But if you can, keep them in so that your baby begins to explore flavor.

Our babies love seasoned oat cereal! Try mixing it with small amounts of cinnamon, curry or garlic powder and oregano.

2. Accept that they will not like certain foods.

Your children will have certain foods that they don't like. That's okay. You probably do too. Attempting to force them to eat something will only cause a long, drawn-out battle and I'm sorry, but your child will win. Not only that, but it will be a terrible experience, only reinforcing that they do not like that particular food. Let it go.

3. Make them continue to try those foods.

Do not stop serving the foods your child doesn't like. If a recipe calls for something, add it. If a certain fruit or vegetable is in season, buy it. Serve it to your child. They will most likely respond with, "I don't like (specific, disgusting, unforgivable food)!" Tell them that's okay. Tell them they don't have to eat it all. Then tell them that when this food is served, they will need to try it each time. People's taste changes. If they keep trying it, they might learn to like it. So they need to just have one bite of that certain food. They can pick out the rest and put them to the side.

We have occasionally had a child who still refuses. At that point, the child is being disobedient. They are not allowed to be excused until they take the bite or bedtime, whichever comes first. Very rarely, they have sat there until bedtime.

Joshua used to hate potatoes. He didn't even like french fries! Now that a strong commitment to a dislike of potatoes. But using this method, he has learned to like them and will now eat a baked potato (with the yummy fixings) for dinner.

This method will not produce results in a week, a month or perhaps even a year. That's not the point. The point is to slowly, consistently expose children to these flavors so that they can gradually get used to them and learn to like them. Your goal is to encourage a lifetime of healthy eating. This does not happen overnight.

4. Make them try new foods.

Use the above technique with new foods. Make them try one bite.

5. Take baby steps.

Try roasted garlic before raw garlic. Try caramelized onions before raw. These will both have much milder flavors. Add a dash of curry to a vegetable you know they like. Let them add a dash of salt and pepper to their meals - kids think it's fun. When they see you eat hot sauce or wasabi, let them try a tiny amount if they want to. Noah loves Sriracha and salsa.

6. Eat a variety of foods.

Your children will not be adventurous eaters if you aren't. Try to eat new ethnic foods and new flavors together as a family.

6. Eat most of your meals at home.

For the most part, most restaurant food tastes pretty similar, especially if your children normally eat off a typical American children's menu. To get a variety of flavors, cook at home.

7. Do not offer dessert unless your children have eaten their dinner.

Pink Floyd said it all: "How can you have any pudding if you don't eat your meat?"

Veronica loves to help bake.
8. Involve your children in the cooking process.

Children love to help cook. Let them! Sure it's messy. Sure it takes longer. But it's a great way to spend quality time together and to teach about fractions, other relevant math lessons and nutrition. Furthermore, they are more likely to eat a meal that they have helped prepare.

9. Snack sparingly.

My children have one snack a day in the afternoon. If something interrupts our regular schedule and it gets too close to dinner, they skip it. This ensures they have hungry tummies come dinner time.

10. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT make them a separate meal.

Your children will not starve themselves. Spare yourself a lot of extra work and hassle. Make one meal for your family. Make a side of vegetables or salad that you know they will eat. That's it. This ensures they have something healthy to eat in case they won't eat the dinner. Do not make anything else. You will only start a precedent that you will not want to continue.

Bon appetit!
My most recent helper



Sunday, June 1, 2014

My First Review! You Can Draw Bible Stories for Kids

This post contains affiliate links. More information is available at the end of the post.

Folks, this is exciting. This is my first review!

A couple of months ago, I received an email from Sandy Silverthorne who has published a book with Harvest House Publishers. He gave me a description of his book, You Can Draw Bible Stories for Kids and the web site. He wanted to send me a free advance copy for possible review!

This is the first time someone has sent me a free product to review because of my blog. This is exciting for me! I have received a lot of positive feedback about my blog in the past year and have recently decided to give it more time and energy and to try and do more with it.

I have been doing a lot of reading about blogs. When it comes to reviews, professional advice always says the same: only review products that you really believe in and that you would naturally use.

It was meant to be that Sandy Silverthorne sent me this particular product as my first to review. It's perfect because it meets a need in homeschooling that we already had!

As part of our faith lessons, several times I have read a Bible story to the boys and asked them to illustrate it. This hasn't been very successful. For the most part, they couldn't think of their own ideas of what to draw and would just copy the illustration in the book. They both really like drawing, but are not confident in their stills yet. They get impatient with themselves and want to be better at drawing than they are. This doesn't make for a very fun lesson. For that reason, I hadn't done this in a while.

Silverthorne's book uses this same idea, but helps the children form new cartooning skills. It gives simple instructions, taking the fear and frustration out of drawing for my boys. They enjoyed the Bible story as well as the characters they learned how to draw. They had fun!
Enjoying our lesson

Joshua proud of his work

Even Teresa was interested :)

Overall, the lesson was a great success and we will definitely continue to use the book as we read Bible stories. If you are looking for a new way to make teaching your children Bible stories fun, I would definitely recommend this book. The book was released in February and so far, has five stars for reviews on Amazon.

We enjoyed the product so much that I WILL BE HAVING MY FIRST FREE GIVEAWAY SOON, giving away a free copy of this book. Stay tuned!

Thank you, Sandy Silverthorne!

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the links in this post are 'affiliate links.' This means that if you click on the link and purchase the item, I receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products that I believe in and personally use. Your purchases through these links help support Mamma Vintage. Thank you for your support!