Close Yer Eyes Kids, We are Trick or Treating...

Today, the weather was beautiful. The sun was warming our tiny part of the earth to just the right temperature, the breeze was barely noticeable, but welcome, and clear skies made everything just look right.  Our city held it's whateverth annual downtown trick or treating event.  After much consideration, and a peptalk courtesy of myself, I decided to take the kids and my mentally handicapped adult brother. 

Let me just say here, that if you called to tell me I won a million dollars, I don't think that my screams of joy and delight would equal that of my kids when I passed on the good news.  I am pretty sure it took me a full 20 minutes to regain my hearing.

I applied make up - no on myself - but on my 3 year old daughter, my 6 year old daughter, my 11 year old daughter, and tried to figure out what I could do to my 6 year old son with my handy dandy dark brown eyeliner pencil.  I could not think of a single thing, so I just combed his hair and helped transform him into Samson, pre the Delilah, blindness, and suicide part.  My girls were made over into Tiana (my single white child), a bride (my 11 yo) and a little girl in a white dress (my 6 yo's words, not mine).  While it was really fun to put mascara on my 3 year old, it wasn't so much on my 11 year old.  I had visions of poking my own eye out with the mascara wand.  She would. NOT. stop. freaking. blinking.  Before any of you decide I am violent or now blind and eyeless, just know that I refrained. So, keep the braille books to yourself - for now. 

I loaded up Samson, Tiana, Bride, Little Girl in a White dress, and Mario (my brother) and headed down town.  On the way, I was giving myself yet another pep talk about how I was going to react should anyone say anything indecorous towards me or my brother when he attempted to procure the free candy by saying the magic words, "trick or treat".  So what he has facial hair, is 5'9" tall, and looks like he is 37 (he is).  He mentally handicapped and I think has probably trick or treated every year for the past 37. It is like, a habit now.  I decided I would just uhm, give them back their candy in a way that left no doubt as to what I thought about them acting like the candy police. 

We arrived downtown and saw throngs of people, and I use that word lightly, people not throngs..... There were witches and dead things, princesses and Jedi knights, and there was an abundance of skin.  Who in the world is the parent that lets their daughters dress up in costumes that I would consider lingerie, or at the very least a fun night at home while the kids are with a sitter.  "Yes honey, I will be red riding hood and you be the big bad wolf." Rawrrr....  Who are the companies that market such costumes to preteen girls?  Is it the same company that decided push up bras and thongs for 8 year olds and preteens were a good idea?  Why are we doing this to our girls?  It is all very disheartening to see that our daughters are being encouraged to find sexiness at such an early age.  How is this going to teach our daughters that they have value and worth because of what is inside their hearts and minds instead of what they have on their bodies?  So stinking frustrating it is....

Besides the initial concern that someone would be rude about my brother trick or treating, the abundance of preteen and teen age skin on display, and losing my 3 year old for a 30 second eternity, it was a fun time!  It was like a test run of the halloween costumes... 

What are your plans?!

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Chocolate Cupcakes - Soy, Dairy, and Dye Free

Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

Mix together and set aside:

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of  baking powder
pinch of finely ground sea salt

In a mixing bowl, cream together:

1/2 cup cocoa
2 tablespoons of coconut oil
3/4 cup of rapadura

Add in:

1 egg

Take a scant 3/4 cups of almond milk and the flour mixture and alternately add t the bowl.  Mix on medium speed for 2 minutes until creamy.

Pour into greased or lined muffin tins. Should make around 6 to 8.  Bake in a preheated over, 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.  Cupcakes are done when toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.

*Notes:  These cupcakes are not overly sweet. If you want them sweeter, add less cocoa.  If you do not like the somewhat grainy texture of whole wheat flour, use white (at your own risk of course!).

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Where We are Today is Not Living in the Past

As a stay at home mom, I have looked around and thought, "What the heck am I doing here. I am not good enough for this. I will never be what I need to be. I will never be able to do what needs to be done."  These types of thoughts are unproductive and only serve to make things worse,  but they are there and often sends me looking for that magical book, list, website, home notebook, box of index cards, or just sends me to the sofa with a bag of chips, a bowl of ice cream and a diet soda.  Does that make me lazy?  Does that bring to light the possiblity that I lack self discipline?  Does this make me a failure at my job?


The Magical Be A Success at Life Mommy Book
I think it makes me human, real, and driven.  I am driven to find better ways to run my household. I am driven to try harder to be a great mom, awesome wife, and good home manager.  I am also driven to find some kind of affirmation that I am a worthwhile human being when I get into one of those "mommy funks."  I just recently read a blog post about not idolizing the pioneer.  It was a great, eye opening article and can be found here.  We do expect a lot our of ourselves and frequently use our idea of what the pioneer woman was or the Proverb's 31 woman as our model. 

"After I get these back to cozy log cabin I built, I will slaughter the deer, smoke the meat and whip a new bonnet."
The idea that those standards would work in our modern world is just silly.  The pioneer typically lived in a one room house, had few clothes, and had a much simpler way of life.  When it was dark, there was no light and everyone quit working, because they could not see. Their days were shorter in that regard.  They also generally did not work on much of anything on Sundays, using that day as a full day of rest.  While Proverbs 31 woman certainly has really good character traits and we should desire to emulate the Biblical qualities she has, she also lived in a very different world.  She sold at shops, bought land, and planted things.  She also had servants, a different set of real estate laws, and did not have to worry much about sales tax, merchant accounts, and Quickbooks.

If evolution were true, this is what I would look like....

Todays modern conveniences, like running water and electricity, have enabled us to have longer and more productive days.  We have to know that people in the way back when, got to turn it off at 6 pm in the winter, and everyone went to bed early because candles and oil were expensive.  They got more rest.  So, if I as a mom, have a longer day of schooling my kids, taking care of them, making meals, have a bigger home with more clothes, dishes, and indoor toilets to clean; I am going to be tired.  Our bodies and our minds will give out on us on occasion.  My most tired times come when my body is preparing for that uhm "special" time of the month that most women get the uhmmm pleasure of experiencing.  I believe this is hormonal for me and other than getting more rest and making sure I am at least trying to get some nutritious food in my body, there is not going to be much else that can fix it.  Call me lazy if you want to, but please avoid the hours of 1 pm and 2 pm.... I will be napping.

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Home Schooling a Chronically Ill Child - And the Rest of the Kids, Too!

Homeschooling is difficult all by itself, but when you throw in a chronic illness, it feels impossible.  On one hand, you want your child to be "normal" and to learn at a normal pace.  When a child is ill, they fall behind and it can be overwhelming.  Then, you have your children who are not ill.  What do you do with them when you are busy with the sickly child or worse, stuck in a hospital. 

I don't have the answers.  But, I do have a child that suffers from an undiagnosed chronic illness, that has landed him in the hospital more than I would like to see.  I hope I can encourage you, as a parent and a teacher, to persevere and offer some helpful suggestions.

1. Pare down your curriculum.  This is not the time to have a very teacher intensive curriculum.  We are Weaver lovers.  But it is very teacher oriented.  I simply can not keep up with it.  I have my older child doing a workbook curriculum and my younger kids are doing computer based phonics. We use Click n Kid Phonics and Starfall.  We also use Math U See.  The video teaches the lesson, and my 6 year old only needs minimal assistance after that.

2. Lower your expectations of yourself as a homeschooling parent.  It is a great goal to want to read the entire set of Little House on the Prairie books, but if your child's illness will not permit him to be up for extended periods of time, or if you are too busy holding his hand while he is vomiting, you may not be able to accomplish this.  It is ok.  Sometimes I spend the majority of my day cleaning up after my sick child and nothing else really gets done. 

3. Lower your expectations of your children. The entire family will feel the stress of having an ill child in the home.  They need time to come to terms with this and with the fact that your attention will seem unfairly divided sometimes.  This is likely to cause some acting out.  When this happens, it is not a good time to ask about their math lesson.  This is the time to hand out extra hugs and love.

4. Read a lot of unschooling blogs and/or books.  This really helped me.  I was able to see how parents managed to raise children who still all learned to read, all learned to do basic math, and all still enjoyed learning.  I also got lots of ideas about how to promote an attitude and spirit of learning in my home. 

5. Involve education in your child's daily life.  Leave down the scissors, colors, paper, and glue.  Play eduational videos from netflix and your library. Listen to audio books. I have been surprised at how much my kids have picked up simply by watching Sid the Science kid.  Thanks to him, even my 3 year old knows what a hypothesis is......

6. Let your children play together without everything turning into "school".  Your kids need each other.  They need to be able to play with your ill child and your ill child needs to be able to play with them.  My son has had several good weeks.  He is currently having some issues.  The good weeks, I let him play.  We did a little school, but mostly he got to run and jump and play. He learned to roller skate with his sister. They wrestled and colored together.  Should I have been "doing school" or should I have just let him feel good for a little while?  I opted for the latter.  Should my child die from his illness, I will rest easy knowing that he got to be a kid.

7.  Ignore the naysayers. No one knows what your life and day is like except you. Follow your instinct.

Above all, be patient as your family learns how to navigate these waters. 

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Chili in a Biscuit Bowl

I get recipes in my email from various websites.  I stole the idea but not the recipe.  There recipe had a lot of things we are trying to avoid as well as, what I viewed, unnecessary ingredients.

Biscuit Bowl
4 cups of whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons of baking powder
11/2 teaspoons of sea salt
1/3 cup lard
3/4 cup of unsweetened, unflavored almond milk

Mix dry ingredients first.  Add lard. Mix in until coarse and crumbly.  Add milk.  Stir to make a dough.  If it is too dry then add more milk, a little at a time.  Divide in to 12 equal pieces.  Press each into a muffin cup, pressing up along the sides until if comes up just above the muffin pan, and forms a bowl.  Bake at 400 until done and lightly browned.  Set aside.


2 pounds of ground beef
1 can of black beans
1/4 cup homemade taco mix plus more to taste (link will take you off site to the recipe I love, I do omit the red pepper)
1 can of crushed tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes

Cook ground beef, drain. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir and heat through. 

Get your biscuit bowls. You may need to scoop out a bit of biscuit from the middle.  Add a couple tablespoons of chili. Serve hot!

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