Friday, December 18, 2009

A Little Christmas Fun

I hope you enjoy the music and video as much as I do.

You can also watch an animated version and listen to their music (the entire song, not just clips) on their website:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

For My Man of Steel

Happy 11th Anniversary!

I "steel" love you very much :-)


(note: 11th anniversary is the steel anniversary. Also, this post is going up late because with a newborn, our schedules are super erratic)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Gratitude and Guilt

I've always been perplexed by the idea of appreciating what we have because there are people "less fortunate" than us. It's not that we shouldn't appreciate the things we have, but often times this "appreciation" is driven by guilt.

Surely, contentment and gratitude has to be more than that.

After all, at some point, there must be the possibility that someone will be totally destitute and not have any worse examples so that they can feel better about themselves or their situation. However, that seems so far fetched and surreal. We most likely have not or never will meet someone like that. But what if that someone were us? How could we respond?

Last week I was reading to my kids the bible story about a widow who had only enough flour and oil to make bread for her son (1 Kings 17:9-16). The drought was so great that the poor widow expected to eat that and then wait to die, as there was nothing left for her and her son. Then the prophet Elijah comes along asking for something to drink and then asks for bread. Here is a woman who didn't have enough for her household and now this man asks her for some food. She was honest and told him of her situation, and then Elijah assures her not to fear, and that God would not let the flour and oil run out until it rained again. And the flour and oil did not run out.

So, here is one example in the Bible of someone less fortunate than any of us. No husband, only flour and oil to make bread with. Can you imagine eating the same thing every day for several years? Can you imagine it being just bread and water? My dietitian brain just screams with the lack of variety and balance in their diet. But it was sufficient. However, upon reflecting on this, I realized that it's not that we ought to be thankful that we are more fortunate, but rather that we can be grateful to have a God who is with us even in dire situations like that widow's.
I still have much to learn, but the following words from the apostle Paul are starting to sink in:

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13
We all have hopes and dreams for our lives, and often times our identity (even God's identity) gets wrapped up in it, rather than in the truth of His word. However, I am learning that even when we hurt and go through disappointments, God is still there with us, just as He said (Hebrews 13:5 is one example). It may seem cliché (especially when we are in the thick of things), but I can testify to the statement that "When God is all you have left, then you will see that He is all you need." And the truth in that statement will never be taken away from me (Romans 8:38-39).

And for that -- in addition to many other things -- I am grateful!
Have a blessed and guilt-free Thanksgiving!

Related Posts:
Tributo a Iehovah (Jeová)
His life in my life

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Three things I never thought I'd do as a parent

1.Tiptoe around the sleeping baby. There comes a point when you just want your baby to sleep and stay asleep.
2. Establish a routine/structure during infancy. Well, for the first couple of months, I don't really do this. Especially because I can breastfeed on demand. But I soon realized the need for structure in my home. Otherwise my son would be sleep deprived and hungry (and in the preschool years -- bored).
3. Bribe my kids with candy and sweets. I hope I won't get my registered dietitian status revoked, but sometimes a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

I'm sure there's more, but that's all I can think of right now. How about you?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Potato Rosemary Rolls

Here is the recipe I used for my turkey rolls from a few years back. It comes from Tone's Easy Entertaining cookbook.

2 3/4 - 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 package (2 1/4 tsp) rapid rise yeast
1 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp minced onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp rosemary, crushed (if dried)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup instant potato flakes or buds
1/2 cup water
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 egg, slightly beaten
Rosemary leaves, crushed

In a large bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups flour, undissolved yeast, sugar, onions, salt and 1 tsp rosemary. Heat milk, potato flakes, water and oil until very warm (120-130 oF) Stir into dry ingredients. Stir in enough remaining flour to make soft dough. Knead on lightly floured surface until smooth and elastic, about 4 to 6 minutes. Cover; let the dough rest 10 minutes.

Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Shape each piece into rolls. Plcace rolls, 2 inches apart, on greasted large baking sheet. Cover; let rise in warm, draft-free place until rolls are doubled in size, about 20-40 minutes.

Brush tops with egg. Sprinkle with rosemary as desired. Bake at 375oF for 15 to 20 minutes or until done. Remove from baking sheet; cool on wire rack.

My Notes:

  • I have used leftover mashed potatoes instead of the potato flakes and water (it's been a while, I think 3/4 cups?), but check the dough to make sure it is not too dry
  • I have used fresh and dried onions and rosemary (red onions are really good)
  • I have made this in the dough cycle in my bread machine. In that case, 3 cups flour is usually enough.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Some insights on 1 Peter 5 and the importance of building relationships

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:6-11

Recently, I was reading through the above passage where we are encouraged to cast our cares upon the Lord because he cares for us (v. 7). As I continued reading the next verse, I noted that casting our cares on the Lord also helps us be watchful against the enemy, who wants to devour us. But it was verse 9 that really struck me: The key to resisting the devil and to be firm in our faith is to KNOW that our brothers and sisters all around the world experience the same sufferings.

But how will we know if we don't share with one another? I am convinced that our enemy has deceived us into thinking we are suffering alone. The devil likes it that way, because it provides an opportunity for him to attack. But the truth is that God is with us and that others also suffer or have suffered similar trials. When I miscarried, I was so grateful for the people who opened up to me about their losses. I didn't have much to say to them for comfort. But I listened to them and shed some tears with them. Little did I know that healing would come to both of us from that.

But going back to verse 6, for us to share with others, we need to humble ourselves before God. It is easy to vent about our frustrations and feel sorry for ourselves, but it takes humility to really share with others so that God will truly transform us and give us victory over our trials.

How many times have you answered, "I'm fine", when a friend asks you how you are doing? I know I have done it many times myself. And I'm not really lying. I am typically happy to see people and naturally don't dwell on the hard things in life. So, it doesn't really cross my mind. And some people have shared with me that sometimes they don't share how they are feeling because they are tired of thinking about their suffering. That they don't want to feel like they are complaining.

On the other hand, how often do you go deeper than asking, "How are you?" to your friends? Or when they mention what is going on, you just keep it at that? What if you asked, "and how does that impact your walk with Christ?" Either you will know what to specifically pray for that person, or you will be encouraged by what God is doing in their lives. How many times have you gone to encourage someone only to be encouraged by them? But the blessing also is that that friend has the chance to proclaim God's goodness, which is mutually strengthening. One way or another, you will be building one another up. Just as God designed it to be.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works. Hebrews 10:24

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2 weeks and counting

Well... I never thought I'd take this long to announce this, but within the next 2 weeks or so, I'll be giving birth to another child.

This picture was taken by my talented brother about two months ago, so that basketball looks more like a watermelon now, lol!

Boy or girl? Well... it's either one or the other! (but it IS just one).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Bill Cosby and smart choices

I haven't been as fluent in blogging these days, but the recent attention on the cereal companies' "smart" choices reminded me of this Bill Cosby clip.
Maybe there is a great calorie discrepancy, but the rationale is the same (except the obvious that Cosby was not being serious). Besides, I have wanted to post this video for a LONG time. Enjoy!

Monday, November 2, 2009

A great article about food sensitivities

What happens when you like a food, but that food doesn't like you?

Check out this article about food sensitivities from Austin Fit Magazine.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Words are not enough... express the gratitude and honor I have had teaching six 6th-8th graders at my homeschool co-op. It has been a joy to be with them.

Here is a poem that one of my students, Hannah, wrote. They presented it to me with all their names signed on it. Thanks guys, I had a blast!

We learned a lot in cooking class
But now we must move on - alas!
It was fun but now it's done
Thanks a lot for teaching us

The five second rule does not exist
And "Wash your hands!" is on the list
All these health rules are helpful tools
Thanks a lot for teaching us

We made brownies and oatmeal
Granola bars and wraps. We feel
They all were best, you passed the test
Thanks a lot for teaching us

You told us just what healthy means
It's not about how you are seen
But about your lifestyle and a happy smile
Thanks a lot for teaching us

We appreciate all your time
And that is why we wrote this rhyme
It was fun, but now it's done
Thanks a lot for teaching us

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Endurance training

I've always been one to be more spontaneous and impulsive to a certain extent. Improvising has often been a welcomed challenge. However, I'm at a point in my life that I don't have the energy to improvise, but my organizational skills are still not where they need to be to make up for it.
A lot of good things are going on, but there is just so much to be done and it's been more challenging than I had anticipated. I feel I'm running a marathon without the athletic advantage.
So in a way, I feel very out of sorts, and out of balance.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Limitations Are Gifts

For several years now, I have subscribed to daily devotionals that contain excerpts of writings from Elisabeth Elliot. Because I've been on it for a few years, some are more familiar than others. And today's is one of the ones that has greatly encouraged me over the years and came back just in time to refresh and remind my soul. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
- Renata

Limitations Are Gifts

Yesterday as I was reading my brother Tom's book, The Achievement of C.S. Lewis, I was admiring again the scope of his knowledge, his ability to comprehend another's genius, and his wonderful command of English. By contrast my own limitations seemed severe indeed. They are of many kinds--analytical, critical, articulatory, not to mention educational. But my limitations, placing me in a different category from Tom Howard's or anyone else's, become, in the sovereignty of God, gifts. For it is with the equipment that I have been given that I am to glorify God. It is this job, not that one, that He gave me.

For some, the limitations are not intellectual but physical. The same truth applies. Within the context of their suffering, with whatever strength they have, be it ever so small, they are to glorify God. The apostle Paul actually claimed that he "gloried" in infirmities, because it was there that the power of Christ was made known to him.

If we regard each limitation which we are conscious of today as a gift--that is, as one of the terms of our particular service to the Master--we won't complain or pity or excuse ourselves. We will rather offer up those gifts as a sacrifice, with thanksgiving.

Excerpt from A Lamp For My Feet by Elisabeth Elliot

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

In the Age of the Dinosaurs and other funny things the kids have said this week

Scene 1 - J, 6 years old, and I are looking at the dinosaur exhibit page of our local zoo's website.

J: They have dinosaurs at the zoo?

Me: They're not real dinosaurs. They are just what they think dinosaurs looked like. People don't really know exactly how dinosaurs look because they have never actually seen one.

J: Has Grandma seen a dinosaur?

Me (trying to keep a straight face): No, she hasn't.

J: Well, wasn't she born back then?

Me (still with a straight face): No, she was born long after

J: But she's old isn't she?

(I did good and didn't burst into laughter!)

Scene 2 - At the dinner table. A, 4 years old, is quizzing me about meal times.
(on a side note, A often reminds me of Merry and Pippin - the hobbits from the Lord of the Rings - when talking about second breakfast. I think we have had a similar conversation before)

A: Mom, is it breakfast, then a morning snack, then lunch, then an afternoon snack, then dinner?

Me: Yes.

A: What comes after dinner?

Me: Dessert.

A: You mean it's Thanksgiving?

(come to think of it, the funniest things this boy talks about revolves around food)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The busy busy woman...

Today, Monika and I are hosting another blogfest. This time, the theme is on Women's Health and the posts are written by Registered Dietitians and Lactation Professionals. There is a wonderful variety of posts written. Take some time over then next few days and read through them. Men can (and should) read them too :-)

Steering away from nutrition a bit (but staying within the nurturing part), I'd like to talk about busyness.

Fill in the blanks here for me:
"Once ____(A)______, I'll have more time to___(B)_____"
"A" could be: finishing a degree, the kids going to school, finishing the school year (for homeschoolers), and so on.
"B" could be: exercise more, spend more time with my husband/kids/friends, study the Bible more. I'm not talking about guitar lessons, or something that is for personal enrichment. I'm talking about nurturing activities, such as nurturing your body and spirit as well as your relationships.

My observation is that, the so called milestone "A" comes along and "B" does not follow that easily, if at all. Because our society often overschedules themselves, we come to think that all we need to do is cut back on our commitments. Yes, that's the first step, but it doesn't stop there. There are so many things in our lives that can easily distract us. So we need to be mindful of what is most important, and find a way to do it. Otherwise, our lives may end up like the man in the folk song, Cat's In the Cradle.

Although my observations do not apply just to women, they apply especially to women. Many of my friends who read this blog are very devoted to their families and rightfully so, put their families above themselves. However, it is also important to retreat in order to be refreshed. Even Jesus "snuck out" away from his followers so that he could spend much needed time with his Father. This was an example of how we all need to set apart some time so that we can go back and nurture the ones we love and care about. Otherwise, we start to feel deprived and resentful of all the responsibilities that come about as being a woman or mother. And you know what? That's because we have been neglecting some basic areas in our own lives.

So I hope this blogfest will encourage you to seek to nurture yourself. That your loved ones will support you in this and realize how we all benefit from the process. Self-neglect is not selflessness and self-nurturing is not selfishness.

Have a blessed day!

Other blogfest posts:

Angela White at Blisstree's Breastfeeding 1-2-3 - Helpful Skills of Breastfeeding Counselors
Angie Tillman, RD, LDN, CDE - You Are Beautiful Today
Anthony J. Sepe - Women's Health and Migraines
Ashley Colpaart - Women's health through women
Charisse McElwaine - Spending too much time on the "throne?"
Danielle Omar - Yoga, Mindful Eating and Food Confidence
Diane Preves M.S.,R.D - Balance for Health
Joan Sather - A Woman's Healthy Choices Affect More Than Herself
Julie Langford - 3 Cancer Prevention Tips for Women
Laura Wittke - Fibro Study Recruits Participants
Liz Marr, MS, RD - Reflecting on Family Food Ways and Women's Work
Marjorie Geiser, MBA, RD, NSCA-CPT - Healthy Women, Healthy Business: How Your Health Impacts a Powerful Business
Marsha Hudnall - Breakfast Protein Helps Light Eaters Feel Full
Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RD - A Nutritionista's Super Foods for Super Skin
Monika Woolsey, MS, RD - To effectively work with PCOS is to understand a woman's health issues throughout her life
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog - How breastfeeding helps you, too
Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RD, LD - Four Keys to Wellness, Just for Women
Robin Plotkin, RD, LD - Feeding the Appetites of the Culinary, Epicurious and Nutrition Worlds-One Bite at a Time
Sharon Salomon, MS, RD - Calories, longevity and do I care
Terri L Mozingo, RD, CDN & D. Milton Stokes, MPH, RD, CDN of One Source Nutrition, LLC - Crossing the Line: From Health to Hurt
Wendy Jo Peterson, RD - Watch Your Garden Grow

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Cool Beans!

We like beans, and thankfully the beans like us too. And because beans like us, we are able to enjoy all the nutritious goodness from it.

But beans don't need to be just eaten with rice in a bowl, or wrapped in a tortilla. It won't be too hot early this week, or at least the nightime temperatures are going to be low, so I may turn on that oven and give these a try:

1. chickpea crackers from Cheryl at Gluten Free Goodness ,
2. black bean brownies from Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen.

And they're gluten free too! So my GF friends can enjoy them with me.

Friday, June 26, 2009

CSA Challenge?

I will be back into posting soon, and on the top of my list is what to do with the mystery items that come in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share.

In the meantime, I came across a great recipe site from Tufts. They have several recipes on ethnic crops, including Bok Choy and Anise Hyssop, which have shown up in my shares over the last couple of weeks. Nothing on Kohlrabi, though :-(

But at least Kohlrabi is in The Visual Food Encyclopedia, which I bought about 12 years ago. It only provides one recipe for each food, but gives enough information about the food so that you can try to figure out how to use it. I am so glad I came across it when I did. I found it at Costco and probably didn't spend more than $15. Just looking it up now has it as high as $59 new!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I'm still around...

I just have been regrouping after a busy month. I also have some strategic planning to do. So although there is much to blog about, I just haven't been interested in sitting in front of my computer to compose something intelligible or at least coherent :-) Blogging can easily take up a lot of my time.
But it is also warmer weather and I'm in summer break mode. So I'm stopping to smell the roses (which just bloomed this week, by the way).
And when I remember to wear my pedometer, I'll also try to add my steps to the tracker.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Is it easy or hard for you to say “I love my body” and mean it?

That is what Marsha at A Weight Lifted asks.

And I ask: Is it wrong or even unspiritual to love our bodies?

If we look at loving our bodies as Marsha puts it, by "being moved to nurture our bodies", then I think there is no conflict there. I think most agree that taking good care of our homes, cars, children, intellect, finances, spirit and soul, community, etc, are godly things. Some call it good stewardship. Should it be any different with our bodies?

Make sure you read the rest of her post. And let me know what you think.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Week in Review 5/29

Here are some noteworthy blog posts and websites:

Sugar Stacks is a great website that illustrates how much sugar is in certain foods (thanks to Ashley at Epicurean Ideal for telling us about it)

Fresh Produce Recipes, Storage, Canning and Freezing Tips from The University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Friday, May 22, 2009

Good Reads (kind of a comeback of week in review)

Why is it that when I am on hiatus, I come across a bunch of great blog posts?

Here are some I have really liked over the last week or so:

Does Weight Matter? on You'd be So Pretty If...

Beyond the Table A series from Debra at Beyond Prenatals about involving kids in the kitchen

Also check out Debra's post about her quest for the "perfect" prenatal pill.

Ten tips to keep your kids active on Web-RD blog

BPA, chemical used to make plastics, found to leach from polycarbonate drinking bottles into humans (Thanks to Monika for posting this release)

Anyone want to make an urban hammock?

Have a relaxing weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sweet Semantics

OK, well I am still on hiatus, but this comment from my 4 1/2 year old "veggie lover" just had to be shared (and doesn't take long to write up either).

Setting: Grandma is taking care of the kids one evening while mommy and daddy are out. Daddy instructs grandma that they can have a treat (a.k.a. watermelon) after dinner. We often use the term treat instead of dessert. Grandma uses the term dessert and brings out the watermelon...

A: Watermelon for dessert?
G: Yes, watermelon. That's the dessert daddy said you could get.
A: Cookies, chocolate cake... now that's what I call dessert!

And of course he eats the watermelon.

On the other hand, he considers watermelon a treat. But obviously treats and desserts are not the same thing. :-)

Blog Hiatus

Blogging has been few and far between this month. This usually happens when there is a lot of other things to do. So I'm officially declaring a blog hiatus and will be back to blogging in June.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Locks of Love

Summer is just around the corner and I really didnt' want to go through another summer with long hair. After putting off a hair cut since I moved to Ohio 1.5 years ago, I realized my hair was long enough to donate it to Locks of Love. This is the second time I have donated hair. The first time was after a major hair growth spurt after my first child was born. Then the shedding stage kicked in and almost ruined our vacuum cleaner. I cut off 16 inches that time.

Anyway, someone had mentioned to me that there are some salons that provide a free haircut if you donate to Locks of Love. They no longer list the salons on their website, so I did a google search to see if there was one in my area. The only place that came up was Martel Salon, about 15 minutes from where I live.

So I have to brag on Sue (my stylist) and the Martel Salon for a bit. On the Locks of Love website, they say that participating salons will provide a free blunt haircut. Well upon arriving at Martel, I was promptly asked how I would like my hair cut. So yes, my haircut was free, but I was treated just like any paying customer. That says a lot, especially nowdays. It is also one of my favorite cuts of all time. Sue took the time to work out a cut that works well for my hair type, and I was very pleased with the results. I didn't even have to do anything to it this morning, except run my fingers through my hair (I love low-maintenance cuts!). I even felt guilty having had so much detail put on my hair for nothing but a tip (and I bet I didn't tip her enough).

Martel Salon also does other fund raising events to benefit breast cancer awareness. They have given free manicures at a local night club in exchange for donations, and this Saturday they will be providing free haircuts at Shaker Square.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

I read this a few years ago in a book titled "Keep a Quiet Heart" by Elisabeth Elliot. Early this morning, it came back to mind and I thought I'd share it with you (as well as remind myself)

Several Ways to Make Yourself Miserable

By Elisabeth Elliot

1. Count your troubles, name them one by one--at the breakfast table, if anybody will listen, or as soon as possible thereafter.

2. Worry every day about something. Don't let yourself get out of practice. It won't add a cubit to your stature but it might burn a few calories.

3. Pity yourself. If you do enough of this, nobody else will have to do it for you.

4. Devise clever but decent ways to serve God and mammon. After all, a man's gotta live.

5. Make it your business to find out what the Joneses are buying this year and where they're going. Try to do them at least one better even if you have to take out another loan to do it.

6. Stay away from absolutes. It's what's right for you that matters. Be your own person and don't allow yourself to get hung up on what others expect of you.

7. Make sure you get your rights. Never mind other people's. You have your life to live, they have theirs.

8. Don't fall into any compassion traps--the sort of situation where people can walk all over you. If you get too involved in other people's troubles, you may neglect your own.

9. Don't let Bible reading and prayer get in the way of what's really relevant--things like TV and newspapers. Invisible things are eternal. You want to stick with the visible ones--they're where it's at now.

Friday, April 17, 2009

I reached my first steps goal today!

... and I finally put up the widget to track my progress.
My current goal is to average 7500 steps a day. I hope that I will be consistently at that level within the next 2 or 3 weeks. Then I'll increase it to eventually get to 10,000 steps.
The last two days, I have been at about 58% of that goal, but today was beautiful and we took the kids to a park to ride their bikes. When I thought I'd be done for the day, I only had about 150 steps to reach my goal! It really encouraged me to get up and do those little things I would have otherwise done tomorrow or had my kids do for me. And then I ended up moving about more because while I was getting those steps in, I decided to sort through a box of books a generous friend gave us.

It will be another beautiful day tomorrow. I have been looking forward to the warmer weather, but I have some studying to do. But with that in mind, I think a walk will be a good way to take a break. We also will be having a simple Easter meal with our family. We opted for this weekend because we had just recovered from the flu last weekend. (Well, I didn't get the flu, but I still needed to recover, lol!). But it appears that my friend Alan suggested something similar :-)

Have a great weekend. Now off to sleep.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

25 Ingredients, 15 meals

Judy at Food and Health Communications has done it again! She has come up with a list of 25 ingredients and listed 15 meals that can be made with them.

One thing on her list I really need to try is lentils. I remember eating them as a kid and they are really packed with nutrients -- AND they're cheap. I recall the flavor being strong and not being a huge fan of it, but I think I'd like it now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Update on my pedometer initiative...

Well, the whole family (except I) caught the flu right after I had posted about using a pedometer, so I didn't really keep track those days. Later on, I started keeping track, so I have an idea of my baseline activity level. I still haven't looked to see what my first goal should be, so I'm really slacking here. Worst of all, for the last two days, I have forgotten to put it on. So, what I think I'm going to do is lay out my clothes the night before and attach the pedometer to it.

It's a sorry start, I know, but I am not giving up.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Sunday Reflections 2009

He was there the whole time...

Two very confused disciples were walking along the road to go to another city, about 7 miles from Jerusalem. As they talked to one another, trying to make sense of all the recent events, a stranger came and walked alongside them. This stranger appeared to be out of the loop when it came to recent events: Hope that the Redeemer had come, His crucifixion, and now His missing body... none of it made sense. This stranger, however, didn't have to know what had happened. But he knew what the scriptures had said about it, and as they walked along the road, he explained why this should be of no surprise. The two men listened and when they got to their destination, they invited the stranger to stay with them that night. It was getting dark and the stranger wouldn't be able to go much further along his way. So he stayed with them, sat down to eat with them, and when he blessed and broke the bread, the two men suddenly recognized him. He was Jesus! He was there the whole time. (Luke 24:13-35)

I don't know how many times I have felt confused and puzzled about what has been going on --especially over the last year or so. There are still so many unanswered questions, and what will happen next is a complete mystery (to me, at least). It is hard to deal with the unknown. But one thing I know, God has always been there. Even though at times I have been unable to see Him, just as those two disciples didn't, He has walked with -- even carried -- me. He has patiently and lovingly reminded me of the truth in God's word, providing hope and comfort. He has been there the whole time, just as He promised.

"And life is worth the living just because He lives"
- Because He lives, by Bill Gaither

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Saturday Reflections 2009

"And on the Sabbath they rested according to the commandment." Luke 23:56

I wonder how they rested? Surely, they rested physically, but what about their soul? How could it not be restless? After all, the One they hoped would redeem them had been brutally beaten and left to hang on a cross, even though He had done no wrong. What happened? What a terrible and confusing turn of events. What disappointment. What sorrow. And to top it off, they had to wait an entire day and rest before they could properly embalm His body. I wonder what was going on in their hearts at that point. It seemed that all had come to an abrupt end. Now what were they going to do? Well, it was the Sabbath, so they rested.

I don't think my family is alone in feeling a sort of bewilderment regarding our circumstances during this Easter season. (I'm not one of those people who spill out all my struggles in public, especially when it doesn't just involve me, so sorry if you don't know what I'm talking about.) Honestly, my mind has been so occupied with these things that there is the temptation to overlook this most important holiday. So I chose to go back to God's word and read those Easter passages again. I have the advantage of knowing what Jesus did the next day. His disciples were caught by surprise, although Jesus had told them beforehand what would happen. They just didn't get it. So although I don't "get" what God is doing right now, I am reminded of the many times I didn't know what would happen next, but in the end everything worked out (often times much better than if I could have arranged it myself).

It's more than just believing. It's because of Easter that I have a living faith and hope. Without Easter, my faith would be worthless. (1 Corinthians 15:17)

So for today, my soul will rest.

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me." John 14:1

Monday, April 6, 2009

When your child doesn't like a certain food...

... maybe you need to consider the way that food is prepared.

For example, one of my kids does not like cheese much, especially if it is melted (with the exception of pizza. lol!). He will have cheddar cheese cubes every now and then, but overall, he's not a cheese lover (I don't know what happened...)

At one point, my kids would eat frozen mixed veggies, but not cooked (thanks to the Meal Makeover Moms for that tip).

When we met, my husband said he didn't like green beans. But every time we served it, he would eat it, and like it. It was probably the way it had been prepared that made a difference. (Although, sadly, I can't convince him otherwise about beets)

I recall hating milk as a child. Now that I'm older, I realize that I didn't like it warm (unless it was flavored). Although I am not an avid milk drinker now, I don't have trouble drinking cold milk (actually there is a study that specified how cold milk should be to be more palatable). And I have always preferred cheese and yogurt, so I didn't really need to be drinking milk anyway.

So if you have young children who aren't fond of a food, make sure you give them a variety of other foods and even change the way they are prepared or bought (fresh vs. frozen vs canned). Don't assume that they know how to ask you to prepare things differently if they haven't been exposed to different preparations. And don't get caught up micromanaging their food intake. That may work well for nutrition research, but it is quite unnecessary for normal living.

Friday, April 3, 2009

HFCS: What is the bottom line?

Recently, I gave my professional statement about High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS). Now I'd like to elaborate on that some more.

Although I could cite the concerns of HFCS on health, the bottom line is that the majority of the products containing HFCS are also foods that contribute very little to one's health. Even if these products contain sucrose (table sugar) or even an artificial sweetener, I still would not promote their use. In other words, if a soft drink now is HFCS-free, that isn't a license to consume more of it. Consuming a food in moderation means that on the occasion you do consume it, you don't have to think twice about it.

For example, I can enjoy a soft drink every now and then without hesitation because I haven't had some in a while. I don't have to stop myself and say, "no, I better drink water." But for foods that my family consumes more frequently (like jelly or barbecue sauce) I do think twice about purchasing products containing HFCS.

"Moderation" is such an arbritrary term, which makes it so popular among food marketers. The term can easily imply that we can continue to consume as much as we already do (if not more), when it most likely means we are having too much and we need to cut back.

The same applies to greasy foods, sugary foods, high sodium foods, actually, ANY food lacking in nutritional content.

When we focus more on eating foods that do us some good, major issues like HFCS become minor issues. And that's what it should be.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hiding fruits and vegetables in our kids' foods

It's April Fools Day (well, actually the night before) and I thought I'd finally address the Deceptively Delicious/Sneaky Chef discussion.
But first, what do YOU think about the idea of hiding fruits and veggies in your kids' foods?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

What about physical activity?

So, you hear me talk about food and nutrition all the time. Well, what about physical activity? Well, I can be the first to tell you that I really fail in that area of my life. But I'm working on it. I have to. I have become increasingly lazy. I can tell in my attitude toward things.

I know that studies show that doing exercise in three 10 minute spurts throughout the day can be as beneficial as 3o minutes at once, but I don't know anything interesting enough to do for that long. Besides, it is rare to have 10 minutes of uninterrupted time around here. Except, of course, after the kids go to bed and I already feel done for the day.

I have considered taking a fitness class, but I'm simply not making time (or money) for something like that right now. But about a month ago I read this post about using a pedometer and it clicked: I can do this! So I finally remembered to buy one and I will start tracking my daily steps and showing it for all of you to see.

People exercise for many different reasons. Many people do it so they can get to particular weight or body shape. For me, being fit and healthy has little to do with weight. It has to do with endurance, a sense of well-being, and being able to sleep well. I confess, however, that I wouldn't mind losing that belly pudge that makes me look like I'm pregnant and just starting to show. I don't think about it that much, but once I noticed another mom had the same belly pudge and I didn't think she looked bad. Actually, I thought she looked great, and that maybe I was being too hard on myself. A few weeks later, she was wearing a maternity shirt --I wasn't! LOL!

So, how are you doing with regard to getting some physical activity? What are some of the things you do, or want to do? Why? What makes it harder or easier for you to be active?

Friday, March 27, 2009

No More Hunger on the Horizon

This is the view from my grandmother's house in Belo Horizonte (which literally means Beautiful Horizon) in Brazil.

Yesterday, my husband showed me an article called The City that Ended Hunger featuring this very city's initiatives to improve access to food by partnering with local farms.

This news article speaks close to my heart because it directly benefits some of my extended family.
“We’re showing that the state doesn’t have to provide everything, it can facilitate. It can create channels for people to find solutions themselves.”
May it happen here too.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Recommended Reading for the Case Against Breastfeeding.

If you are interested in following responses regarding an article called the Case Against Breastfeeding, I recommend the following:
Motherwear Breastfeeding Blog [update 4/12/09, Tanya wrote a second post summarizing several responses]
US Food Policy
Beyond Prenatals [added on 4/9/09]

Among the comments, there was talk about media bias, as one media venue did not call on a qualified professional for a proper rebuttal. A related post about media bias can be found on The Lactivist.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

More on Kids in the Kitchen

After I had written my previous post, I heard a segment on the radio that addressed this very topic! I wasn't able to find a copy of the segment, but I found a summary that had some of the elements in this particular conversation. Here are some highlights:

  • Cooking with your children can improve family dynamics.
  • A child who assists with meal preparation feels useful and appreciated when she sees other household members enjoying what she produced.
  • Spending quality time with your children is a key element of good parenting. In this case, it's time in the kitchen.
  • The goal of this activity is to spend time working together. Not only will this help your child feel needed and useful, but you will have the opportunity to give him or her age-appropriate responsibility.
A very good point was made in the broadcast: Sometimes we ask for 15 minutes to finish cooking so that we can then spend time with our children. However, if those 15 minutes of meal preparation are prolonged to 30 because of your child's involvement, then that's 30 minutes you have already spent with your child. That's probably more time together than if you separated the two activities.

Keep the comments coming.

Do you let your kids help you in the kitchen?

As much as I believe in including kids in the cooking process, I think I end up limiting their involvement more than encouraging it. While doing research for my cooking classes, I got inspired to change that. How much you let your kids do. And how old are they?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not me!

Dear Readers,

It has been brought to my attention that the Corn Refiners Association has launched an advertising campaign promoting high-fructose corn syrup. On their home page, there is a statement that reads, in part:

High fructose corn syrup provides many important characteristics, such as texture, flavor and freshness, to your favorite foods and beverages. It is nutritionally the same as table sugar and has the same number of calories, too. As many dietitians agree, sweeteners should be enjoyed in moderation.

In response to the advertising campaign and this statement, I would like to clarify:

1. I am a registered dietitian.
2. I do promote foods in moderation.
3. I do not promote the use of high fructose corn syrup.
4. I am not one of the dietitians this campaign or this web page is attempting to connect their product with.
5. Just as I am exercising my freedom of expression by posting this statement to this blog, I respect the right of the Corn Refiners Association to promote their product. I simply wish to clarify that I have no professional association with their statement or their association.
6. If anyone reading this blog chooses to consume high-fructose corn syrup, it is their personal choice and freedom of expression. It is not a choice based on any perceived endorsement related to the fact that I am a registered dietitian that may have been insinuated based on the wording of these advertisements and the Corn Refiners Association web page.


Renata Mangrum, MPH, RD.

Thanks to Monika Woolsey for writing this statement and allowing me to use it in its entirety.

Also see: HCFS: What's the Bottom Line?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Interesting poll: Which is more stressful: your weight or the economy?

Marsha at the blog, A Weight Lifted is conducting a poll:

What creates the most stress for you: Your weight or the economy? Please take our survey. We'd like to get as many people to participate as possible, so as to get a representative sample. So pass it on! We'll share the results with you in one month, and we hope that they will provoke a fruitful discussion of health in the 21st century.

Click Here to take the survey.

I'd also like to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

What I'm doing as I grow up...

March 11, 2009 is National Registered Dietitian Day. To commemorate, Monika at InCyst Network and I are hosting the first Registered Dietitian Blogfest. We have over thirty bloggers participating in this event, sharing about how we're living out our passion for nutrition in many different ways. Check out the links to other participants at the end of this post.

"Being a dietitian to me isn’t just a profession. It is very much a part of who I am (and so is being a wife and mother)."
That is what I wrote over two years ago, when I started this blog. I am part of the ~7% of dietitians who are staying home to raise a family. And when my children were born, I didn't stop thinking about nutrition, I didn't stop caring about the challenges that face people with limited incomes, and I didn't stop coming up with ideas to encourage people to live out healthier lives. But as any mother knows, I didn't have as much time and energy to devote much more than thought to it.

But that extra time has been my ally. I love being home to spend more time with the people I love and care about the most. Not diving in and doing all that I was thinking gave me time to think deeply about what mattered to me the most. This time has been a gift to observe and identify areas of need in the dietetic field that I probably wouldn't have paid attention to if I hadn't enough time to notice it.

I like to describe myself as a lifestyle dietitian. My interest isn't helping someone lose weight or prescribing a specific diet for someone to follow. As I wrote sometime ago, "a lifestyle change is the realization that our old habits and lifestyle is what is depriving us. Our quality of life has changed so that we see what we were really missing before."

And when I really think about it, relationships are at the core of everything I do. It is through several friendships that I was able to see dietetics from a different perspective. Their challenges helped me see what my role could be in meeting that need. Although I may take part in helping one make better lifestyle choices, I don't seek to give all the answers. Preferably, I seek to connect people to the proper resources so that they can find the answers that fit and improve their own and their community's lifestyle.

Here is some dietetics work I am doing as I (and my children) grow up:
  • I blog. Well, duh, you may say, but at one point, blogging was all I could do.
  • I am caring for my family by feeding them and encouraging them to eat healthy foods.
  • I am studying food allergies and intolerances so that I can assist people to adjust to the new lifestyle that has been imposed upon them.
  • I am a member of a local lactation alliance and the local food policy coalition. Currently, I haven't been as active in the lactation alliance as I would like, but as time permits, I will be increasing that involvement. I am more involved with the food policy coaltion right now.
  • I am developing cooking classes for middle-school aged children and hope to expand that to other age groups too.
  • I am developing classes on how to make more efficient time in the kitchen (actually, that is personal development that I hope to pass on to others)
  • I am organizing a community garden (I am preparing a blog about that too)
  • I am identifying resources for community members to increase the amount of fresh food in their schools. (This conversation started when I was picking one of my kids up at a summer program)
  • I am connecting with other RDs for support and encouragement, and especially so I can refer people to skilled professionals.
  • I am still dreaming, thinking, pondering about some other ideas...

Here's what other dietitians are doing:

Beyond Prenatals - Food vs. Supplements and Real Advice vs. Fake Advice
Annette Colby - No More Diets! A Registered Dietitian Shares 9 Secrets to Real and Lasting Weight Loss
Ashley Colpaart - Dietitians working in food policy, a new frontier
Diana Dyer - There and Back Again: Celebration of National Dietitian Day 2009
Marjorie Geiser - RD Showcase for National Registered Dietitian Day - What we do
Cheryl Harris - Me, a Gluten Free RD!
Marilyn Jess - National Registered Dietitian Day--RD Blogfest
Julie Lanford - Antioxidants for Cancer Prevention
Liz Marr - Fruits and Veggies for Registered Dietian Day: Two Poems
Meal Makeover Moms' Kitchen - Family Nutrition ... It's our "Beat"
Jill Nussinow - The Registered Dietitian Lens I Look Through
Wendy Jo Petersen - March 11 is our day to shine!
Diane Preves - Registered Dietitians and the White House Forum on Health Reform
Andy Sarjahani - Dr. Seuss Tribute continued: Green Eggs and Ham and a Sustainable Food System
Rebecca Scritchfield - Big Tips from a "Big Loser"
Anthony Sepe - RD Showcase: Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009
Kathy Shattler - RD Showcase for Nutri-Care Consultation
Sharon Solomon - Happy Registered Dietitian Day
UNL-Extension, Douglas/Sarpy County - Nutrition Know How - Making Your Life Easier
Monika Woolsey - Dietitians--Can't Do PCOS Without Them!
Monika Woolsey - In Honor of National Registered Dietitian Day
Jen Zingaro - My life as a Registered Dietitian

Monday, March 9, 2009

How not to overspend on groceries

Over the years, I've tried many of the suggestions put out there to save money on groceries. I cook mostly from scratch, shop around sales, plan for leftovers, stock up on bargains, and use coupons. But these three things have been most effective so I don't overspend:

1) Learn the prices for the main items you buy. Some people make price books. I don't. I just get used to the prices. Which leads to the next point...
2) Set an upper cost limit for pricier items. I don't go past a certain dollar amount on some items. I had to readjust when I moved to a different part of the country (right when food prices were soaring), but it doesn't take long to do that. Either adjust or go hungry :-) One of my adjustments last year was joining a warehouse club. The prices were consistent and helped me establish my budget in a new area. Now there are better supermarket sales and our budget has stabilized, so we didn't renew.
3) Pay all in cash. I always take out less money than my budgeted amount. It helps me stick to what I really need and if I forget anything (and I usually do), I still have some money left to get those things later on.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Day The Earth Stood Still...Again

This past December, Twentieth Century Fox released a remake of the sci-fi classic The Day The Earth Stood Still. While the original movie is one of my all time favorite films, the first news I received of the remake caught my attention for other reasons: it was to be released on December 12th, a rather significant date in my own life. It would be ten years ago on December 12, 2008 that Renata became my bride. In the months leading up to the movie's release, Renata and I would joke amongst ourselves each time we saw the movie's poster (which featured the release date quite prominently) that maybe, just maybe, someone in Hollywood had made a movie about our wonderful wedding day.

While the earth certainly stood still for us on that day back in 1998, the love on which our relationship was founded did not. It has continued to propel our marriage forward through the highs and lows of life while yielding an enduring union that has steadily grown in depth of intimacy and in mutual appreciation for what we have been given in each other. For this reason, we've always looked forward in anticipation to our wedding anniversaries, seeing them as times for genuine celebration and thanksgiving. And given our shared, human affinity for round numbers, anniversary number ten was going to be quite the celebration.

Now love can do so much more than just move a marriage along. If cultivated, it will eat away at selfishness, fill the marital relationship with substance and seek an outlet to overflow into the lives of others. Thus, as our relationship has grown, so too has the size of our family. It should surprise no one then that Renata and I, with joyful expectancy, learned last September that our fourth child was on the way, due to make landfall in May. Even though number four would be joining us for our planned tenth anniversary festivities, Renata and I remained dead set on making the date an occasion to remember.

Despite our plans and intentions, the days approaching our anniversary unfolded unlike anything we would have envisioned. After a debilitating first trimester (a first for my wife), December 4th brought some startling and unwelcome news of potential trouble in the sixteenth week of the pregnancy. After several days of prayer and waiting with family and friends, December 8th brought for us the worst news of all: the child that my wife was carrying had no heartbeat. Never before had we experienced a miscarriage. Our disappointment was only amplified in having to relay the news to those around us, especially our children. Though deeply saddened by it all, we were thankful for the peace that we shared together. In the lead up to what was to have been a festive occasion in our relatively young lives, circumstances beyond our control now dictated that we would need to spend our tenth anniversary in the hospital.

I will remember a number of details about December 12, 2008.

  • I'll remember how my wife lay beside me in bed after midnight and shared that she was afraid, having never been induced or medicated in labor. I'll also remember how she exuded nothing but serenity when she arose from her sleep.
  • I'll remember the mixed emotions of being in a delivery room again, sitting in a place that my memories associated with the happiness and joy of greeting new lives, profoundly aware that the pending outcome would be different.
  • I'll remember how Renata encouraged me to eat when she herself was not permitted and smiled affectionately with gratitude in her eyes when I conceded to do so.
  • I'll remember a staff of nurses so genial and attentive that it was almost beyond belief and a medical doctor with purple highlights who in our minds was heaven sent.
  • I'll remember wondering if the designers of the maternity room fold-out sleeping chairs have any tall friends. Any.
  • I'll remember how natural my wife's hand felt in my own, the numerous times we just gazed into each others eyes and smiled in silence.
  • I'll remember holding the lifeless, fragile body of my daughter Caressa in my right hand as the life that I wished for her filled with all the hopes and dreams of a father's heart for his child flashed before my eyes repeatedly. I'll also remember the realization that Caressa and I were the picture of how our Heavenly Father carries us, desires life for us and dreams dreams for us even as He did for Renata and I then.
  • I'll remember leaving the hospital in deep thought, admiring the silent beauty of a steady snowfall in the cold, wee hours of the night as my heart refused to say goodbye to the child we were leaving behind, hoping that she somehow knew just how much we loved her.

All these details in vivid clarity I will remember and more. But what really stands out in my mind from our tenth anniversary is this: I was granted the opportunity to see that my wife's God-given attributes that have so enchanted me in all the years I have known her still shown brightly on one of the darkest days of our lives. Neither obscured nor enhanced by the trappings of our wedding day, her beauty continued to radiate from within, her godliness continued to be manifest in her actions, and her gentleness and caring remained evident even amidst the tears from her loss. The dark, dismal circumstances of our anniversary day served as a backdrop against which the woman whom I took as my wife ten years prior was more resplendent in her person than on any occasion I could remember. I cannot thank God enough for the years that he has placed her in my life and look forward to spending many, many more anniversaries with her.

Stan M. Mangrum is the happily married husband of the author of this blog.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Been busy...

A lot has been going on in my life. In addition to dealing with some unspoken (on this blog at least) life matters, I've been studying for recertification, I've been organizing a blogfest (so far there are about 25 blogs interested. Amazing!), and I'm in the very early process of starting a community garden.

I've tried writing some posts, only to not quite know where I am really going with them. But I'll definitely have one up in a week for the blogfest.

Even with the business and trials, God has been faithful and present in our lives. There are many moments of discouragement, but He keeps proving Himself to us. And for that I will praise Him.

Until sometime later...

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Healthy entrees under $3 per serving has a collection of healthy budget-friendly recipes. All of the recipes are below $3 per serving, much less than eating out.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Food allergies in the breastfed child

Angela at Breastfeeding 123 is conducting a poll on food allergies in the breastfed child. She also has some additional questions that you can answer in the comment section.

I am interested in learning more about the challenges breastfeeding mothers face in this situation. So if you have anything to contribute, please stop by and vote. I don't know when the poll will be closed.

Are you a Registered Dietitian? Do you have a Blog?

Calling all dietitian bloggers for the first RD Blogfest!

In celebration of National Registered Dietitian Day, March 11, 2009, Monika and I are organizing an RD Blogfest. A Blogfest, also called a blog carnival or synchroblog, is an event when a group of bloggers write a post on their own blogs about a particular theme or subject. The bloggers also link to the posts from the other blogfest participants. It is a unique way to share a common interest and connect other bloggers, while increasing traffic to your blog.

If you have been considering starting a blog, then now is a good time to do it.

Email RDbloggers AT gmail DOT com for further details.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Some memorable valentines day moments

I am pretty random at celebrating Valentines Day. But when I do, it is usually something pretty silly. There have been some other memorable moments on this day, so why not write them here?

1996: A friend of mine felt sorry for me when he heard no one sent me a valentine. When I got home, I was met by a dozen ascii roses like this: @>-->--
... we've been married for 10 years now.
1998: Strung hearts off of the ceiling and wrote fun things on them. Played John Paul Young's "Love is In the Air" upon entering the room.
2002: One of the most fun valentines day was when I made heart-shaped cheeseburgers and played the cheeseburger song from veggie tales as my husband walked through the door.
2003: We ate Gyros at a small Greek "restaurant" (there are maybe thee tables), while watching the line to get in the Italian Restaurant next door.
2004: My 14 month old son started walking across the room, and even mumbled "I Love You".
2006: I was 4 months pregnant with my third child, and I hadn't felt her give me a real kick yet. On this day, while talking to my friend Margaret. I said, "I'm wondering if I should be concerned". Right then the baby kicked! Many times, and didn't ever stop!
2008: My sister-in-law presented Stan and me with a reservation at a local Brazilian restaurant.
2009: Yesterday, my 6 year old made a valentine after storytime and gave it to Ms. Anne, the children's librarian. Today my two year old presented us with a stomach virus!

Friday, February 13, 2009

I really should be sleeping...

On the topic of sleep, I haven't slept well the past few days and tonight I was simply too tired to study. Then I decide to check my blog reader and read one post. That one post got my juices flowing about something that I decided to write it down. It's an idea I have been developing over a period of time, not one I can see to fruition, but one that I felt compelled to finally put into writing. It will eventually be posted here on this blog.

Anyway, I just wanted to confess my inability to motivate myself to go to sleep early :-)


Monday, February 9, 2009

If you have the luxury to sleep in...

I am hoping my long-standing profile picture will be soon changed. I started this blog sleep deprived and am ready for that to be a thing of the past. I used to be part of the mommy club whose kids would wake up bright and early (like 5:30-6am), but since we moved to Ohio, my kids have started sleeping in as late as 8:30. But the problem I was faced with was that when we started the day that late, I wouldn't be productive. Once we get through the morning routine of getting dressed, making beds, eating breakfast, and starting household chores (not to mention homeschooling), I have to stop for lunch.
I have been trying to get up earlier. This has worked well for me in the past, but lately my body has been out of sorts so I have had a much harder time making myself get out of bed earlier (I may go into detail about that sometime later). So as I was accepting the fact that I had to accept that my body was telling me it needed more rest, I had to adjust to how I would be able to get it all done. After lunch I would get really tired and I just felt unable to do much, let alone think. Naps (when I got those) weren't working for me either.
So this week I decided I will try to get to bed early, and take advantage of the kids sleeping in to sleep in too. So far it has been working well. I have been functional in the afternoons and have been able to catch up with some studying in the evening.
So, if you are fatigued and have the luxury to sleep in, then do your body a favor and get the much needed sleep.
But first, get to bed early.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Peanut Butter Mess!

By now, you probably have heard of one product after another being recalled because of the salmonella outbreak in peanut butter. Here's a list that is updated frequently:

Pretty much, if you are eating a product that contains peanut butter, no matter from where you got it, you better check the list first. This goes for candy, granola bars, cookies, etc.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Learning a Second Language

I have spent more time speaking English in my lifetime than my native language, Portuguese. Although I speak Portuguese fluently, I don't get to use it much, and I really have trouble expressing myself with more in depth conversations (especially written). When I was growing up in Australia, we had a lot of Brazilian friends, so I was familiar with the language, but didn't speak it. At one point, my father decided we would speak to him only in Portuguese, but we would quickly get stuck on a word and he'd let us say it in English. It was quite entertaining hearing us talk to my mum because we (the kids) would speak English, while she would answer in Portuguese. We all understood one another. That consistent exposure was sufficient to help me learn for good once we moved back to Brazil (I was 13 by then).

Some of my friends in Brazil just told me about this website: I haven't joined yet because I already feel I'm spending too much time online, but it may be a good way for me to brush up on my Brazilian Portuguese. (So this isn't an endorsement, it's just an FYI.) If you have ever learned a language with a speaking partner, this website seems to expand that concept. You can even help others learn your language. Several languages are available.

On a related note, I also have two books checked out from the library about bilingualism. I would love for my kids to speak Portuguese, or at least have the same exposure as I did. I initially spoke only Portuguese with my son while I was alone with him, but that idea fell by the wayside by the time he was 2 months old. There are plenty of resources available for Spanish, but hardly anything for Portuguese. So there's no Dora/Diego stuff in this house, but it occurred to me that there is a Portuguese version of Dora in Brazil, where she speaks primarily Portuguese and then says some words in English. So I may get around to looking into that.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Orange-Scented Roast Chicken

I have never been satisfied roasting a chicken until last week. It always seemed to come out bland or only some parts had flavor. That's when I came up with this recipe. The juices from the orange keep the bird very moist and infuses flavor throughout. I'm notorious for making something up only to forget how I made it. I didn't think I'd forget this one, but then after a few days I started wondering about quantities (not like I really paid attention the first time). So I made it again tonight to make sure it could be reproduced. I am pleased to announce that I was able to make it again and share it with you. This time, I actually doubled the recipe and roasted two chickens at a time. It takes the same amount of heat so I figured I'd make the most of it. You can either serve to a large group, give away one of the birds, or pull off and freeze leftover chicken for other uses.

Orange-Scented Roast Chicken

1 4-5 lb Chicken
1 Orange
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Red Onion, minced
2 tsp dried sage, plus extra sprigs to put in the cavity (I used dried sage from my garden. You can use other types, but adjust accordingly: fresh=more, powder=less)
1/4 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
1/4 tsp orange zest (can use peel from orange above)
1/2 tsp kosher salt (use 1/4 tsp if using regular salt)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
After removing the giblets in the body cavity, rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel. Cut orange into quarters. Grate enough orange peel to make 1/4 tsp orange zest. In the body cavity, place two orange quarters, 1 tsp minced onion and extra sage sprigs. Slice the other two quarters and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients, (from sage to olive oil). Carefully loosen the skin underneath the chicken breast and drumsticks, and apply the sage rub. Insert orange slices under the breast skin.

Place chicken in a roasting pan breast side up. (If you want to dress the chicken i.e. tie the drumsticks and tuck the wings, this would be the time to do it. I skip that step)

Bake at 400 degrees for about 1hr, or until a thermometer in the meaty part of the thigh registers 180 degrees. Remove from oven, cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes.

Note: Discard the orange and sage sprigs. You can use the oranges as a garnish, but they have an unpleasant bitter flavor if you try to eat it.

If you also want to make gravy...
I'm not very good at giving directions on how to make gravy. For gravy basics, you might want to read this description from

But this is what I did (kind of):

I simmered the giblets in chicken broth. Then I skimmed some of the oil from the drippings in the roasting pan (after removing the bird), then made a roux by adding 1-2 Tbsp flour to the drippings. I put my roasting pan directly over two stove burners on med/low heat (Be sure you can do this with your pan. I don't think this would work for glass or aluminum pans). I cooked the roux for a minute or so, scraping the pan to get the flavorful bits (and it makes for easier cleanup too), until thickened. I then added the giblet broth to the roux and let it thicken some more. Then I put it in a serving container.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Chores for kids

I've been thinking about what are reasonable chores for my kids. The lovely thing about the internet is that other bloggers have asked this same question. So, here's a link to SimpleMom's post about chores for preschoolers.

I think I'm going to do a chart so they (and I) can keep track of their morning routine as well as (hopefully) reduce the whining at cleanup time. This is what they do to their room every single day:

You would think they would have gotten used to cleaning it up by now. Actually, it used to be easier, but now I am meeting more resistance.

If you have any wisdom to share, please do!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Making peace with motherhood

In the early days of this blog, I wrote some posts trying to the address some of the baggage that we bring with being a mom, specifically the concepts of being a good mom, as well as the higher calling myth (especially among Christian circles). I really didn't know how to address the issue to do it justice. But this week I heard a radio interview with two moms who also have been addressing some of these issues. For a few weeks now, I've been wanting to write about my own experiences, so what started out as a simple blog post about the broadcast I heard, has turned into a piece of my story.

My first child changed my world. From the moment my son was born, not only was I in love with my son, I was in love with being a mom. Even up to the day he was born, we had no idea how we would be able to make it without me going back to work. I was so enthusiastic about being able to stay home with him that someone told me I was an advertisement for motherhood (it took me a few seconds to realize she didn't mean I was a model for Motherhood Maternity store. lol!). Being a mother was a blessing and privilege. Sure enough, the trying toddler years came along, and I was faced with my own issues with anger and frustration. Honestly, if my second child weren't already born at that time, I would probably have bought into the idea that someone else could take care of him better than me and looked for a job where I could make a bigger difference. I wondered if our relationship would probably be better that way, you know... if we had some space from one another. One day, I was talking to a friend, telling her of my struggle and saying how I wished I could be more loving toward my child, how I wanted to have joy in raising him, how I wanted us to live peaceably, and how I wish I were more patient with him...
And then it occurred to me that I was listing off the fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

At that moment, I realized that all that I desired was available to me through God's Holy Spirit. God Himself was the solution to my struggles. The next challenge was to learn to live and walk in the Spirit. As time progressed, I started to understand what it was like to rely on my flesh vs. God's Spirit. I still don't think I could articulate it well enough, but any good thing can easily lead to frustration when you are doing it all in the flesh. This doesn't just apply to the parenting dynamic either, like when we are frustrated with people because they don't understand an important spiritual truth, or when we get the overwhelming sense of there being so many great causes to support, but not knowing which one to choose. This very frustration and sense of being overwhelmed is living in the flesh, masked in our best intentions. It is at those times that we need to pause and ask for the Spirit's guidance, and let Him do the work. Not us. Not others. Remember, against such things (i.e. the fruit of the Spirit) there is no law. And where there is no law, there is no condemnation. A good book on this issue is Having a Mary Spirit by Joanna Weaver. Her book helped me further tease out these differences. So now family life is pure bliss! No more yelling and losing patience!

Yes, I am kidding.

But life is much better now. We're not perfect, but it is bliss to see and know that God is working in our lives. That He is ever faithful, and that I, who fail my own standards, have been made responsible for raising three children. And He has made it possible!

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:7

As I have mentioned before, this is my first year of homeschooling. My husband and I had always considered homeschooling as our first option. Honestly, I didn't know how I could do it. Had I not faced the issue that my son and I clashed a lot, and questioned many, many times how this was going to work, I would not have learned so much about my son and how to get along with him. We still clash in several ways, but homeschooling (which is a part of parenting) isn't half as challenging as I thought it would be. It took some time for us to get used to one another, and that time also allowed us to mature in many ways. I also must say that having another son within 2 years helped me see where I was taking things too personally. My second child's personality is so different, and much easier for me to get along with, but I noticed he was just as crafty as the first (if you know what I mean). The more I was able to identify the problem was caused more by my personality, I was able to let God make the necessary changes in me. I'm not all done with the changes, but it is happening. This is not to say one needs to have more kids to get to this point, but it is one example that having more kids doesn't necessarily make life more difficult. I'm really glad I did not delegate the responsibility of caring for my child simply because I felt incapable of it.

We go into life carrying the baggage of "shoulds" and "oughts". I often have to remind myself that Christ was very patient with his disciples, and often would shake his head and say "how little faith you have". He continued to patiently teach and guide them. Even poor Thomas gets a bad rep for not believing the accounts of Christ's ressurection. Yet, that didn't keep Christ from going up to Thomas to show him the scars in His his hands. Christ met Thomas as he was, not as he "should" be.

If you are struggling with being a mom, hang in there. We all go through stages in life where we face struggles of all kinds. Being honest about it can be a good thing, but be watchful to make sure that honest statement doesn't turn into an occasion for whining. But even if it does turn into whining and even depression, take it to the Lord in prayer. Ask for strength, wisdom (James 1:5), not to mention forgiveness. God will not despise a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17). Stay in His word. Although you may feel lonely, you are not alone.

And for moms who have overcome struggles, share it with a newer mom. Don't make anyone your "project", but be there for the newer moms.

Well, that's all I have the energy to write about now. Below are some reads that have encouraged me along the way.

Psalm 51:17
Psalm 139 (especially before they start sleeping through the night, which took forever with my kids)
Psalm 139:23-24
I John 3:18-24
Romans 8
2 Corinthians 5:7
Matthew 11:28-30
John 15
Galatians 5:22-25
Galatians 6:9
Ephesians 5:15-21
2 Corinthians 4:7
James 1:5

Relevant posts I didn't realize I had written so much about:
O, for grace to trust Him more. I didn't write this specifically to parenting, but definitely applies.
His life in my life. Again not just for parenting.
Settling in.
Unconditional love.
This Day.
Is motherhood a higher calling?
How do you define a good mother?
Some Life
What does God want from us anyway?

Other reads, podcasts, etc:
Keep a Quiet Heart - Elizabeth Elliott
Feminine Appeal - Carolyn Mahaney
Having a Mary Spirit. Joanna Weaver/Midday Connection
The Mommy Revolution. Midday Connection
This I believe - The things worth doing in life is hard. The Lactivist
Sucking it up and admitting you are not wonder woman. The Lactivist
Proof that I am not a supermom The Lactivist (the gem of this article is in Jennifer's comments)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Caution: Snow White is a Health Hazard!

Image Source: US Apple Association

I think the saying, "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is not going to stick with my 2 year old daughter.

While watching Snow White, my husband brings some apples to us for a snack. My daughter holds on to her piece while she continues to watch the movie. When Snow White takes a bite from the apple, I happen to glance at my daughter. She glances down at her apple, back at the screen, then back down at her apple.

She then says, "I don't want this!"

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

If you subscribe to me in a reader...

I am about to put my feed on feedburner. Because I don't know if it means that it will mess up the current feed, be on alert :-) So if you don't hear from me in a few days, check back here to see if I have updated.

Monday, January 12, 2009

What I ate today...

[updated to include recipes]

Monika (a.k.a hormonewoman) at the InCyst On The Best blog started a feature today about what she eats. InCyst is one of my favorite nutrition blogs, even though its focus is on PCOS, there is much for all to benefit from. Back to the feature, Monika writes:

"I'd like to bridge the gap between dietitians and people who are not, by using this feature to show what realistic eating consists of. [...]

I want you to see that my life isn't perfect, and therefore my eating is not either. I do my best, always try to do better, and hopefully, 80% of the time, I make good choices, which include foods I enjoy eating."

Incidentally, last night I came across another blog called Eat Like Me by another dietitian, Cristin Dillon-Jones. Cristin blogs about what she eats, so that people can see a real-life account of what a real person eats, and when you blog about something like that every day, you're not going to be able to put up a front and pretend life is perfect. (Well, I guess you could, but that's not what Cristin does).
Then I reflected upon what I ate today and realized how I fell short of my "ideal". And I have more of these days than I'd like to admit. My first thought was to wait for a "better" day, but then I thought you should know that even I am a work in progress.
First, I think it would help you to know what some of my lifestyle health ideals are:

  • To cook primarily from scratch
  • To avoid highly processed and refined foods
  • To eat more whole grains, fresh fruit and vegetables
  • To purchase locally grown food, within reason. There's no way I'm gonna find bananas grown in NE Ohio ;-)
  • To eat more meatless meals
  • To enjoy physical activity as a lifestyle, not a task (I have the farthest to go on that one)
  • To get a full night's sleep -- if you haven't already noticed from my profile picture :-)

So this was how my day went:

I made myself get up at 7:15 am. My alarm went off at 6. I've been trying to get back into the habit of waking up earlier, especially now that my kids are sleeping through the night. It doesn't help when I go to sleep after 1 am.

Grits with cheese
A mix of goldfish pretzels and cheese crackers
Baked Beans (from a can) and rice
Chocolate animal crackers and some pretzels
Black bean and sweet potato quesadillas. The beans, sweet potatoes, and flour tortillas were cooked from scratch. The tortillas contained unbleached all-purpose flour and oil (not whole grain). I also made the salsa from canned diced tomatoes.

  • I drank either spring water or seltzer water throughout the day and with meals. I'd drink filtered water, but we can't get one installed and filling up pitchers is not as practical. We used to mix 100% juice with seltzer, but I opted to start buying fruit with our juice money.
  • I really have a hankering for some cookies, but I don't have any around (other than the animal crackers. They don't quite hit the spot for me). Christina's chocolate chip cookies would really hit the spot!
  • I think I took a multivitamin with half of the recommended amount (as opposed to 100% DV). I really can't remember if I took it. I tried taking Ginko for my memory once, but then I couldn't remember if I had taken it (lol!)
  • I didn't count calories or measure portions. I know when I overeat something :-)
  • What I ate was also served to my husband and children.

I wish I had...
  • Eaten some sliced fruit
  • Snacked on vegetables in addition to (or instead of) the refined-grain, highly processed snack foods
  • Added a salad at lunch or dinner
  • Baked some cookies :-)
  • Drank a glass of milk, or eaten some yogurt with berries
  • Gone to bed earlier
  • Been more physically active

...but I did cook dinner from scratch and all meals were meatless. I didn't fill up on juice, but drank water. So in the end I realized that I made some good choices. It just seems easier to focus on the things I didn't do.

Well, it's past my bedtime. Here's for a good night's sleep.