Sunday, February 09, 2014

Fight Time, I mean, Dinner Time

I want to go on strike.
To quit making dinner. Can we just go to Chick-fil-A?
This is not the dietitian talking.
This is the mom, who is tired to fighting to feed every single bite of healthy food into my children's mouths.

Maybe it's because I'm tired or pregnant, but our dinner time has become a major fight time with my two children. I attribute this all to the prolonged winter weather and record cold temperatures, and the lack of the ability to lock send my children outdoors before dinner.

There are stages where it is explainable, commonly known in the nutrition world as "food jags", when kids get stuck on certain preferred food items-- but what about all the other times?

A RDN (registered dietitian nutritionist) named Jill Castle, wrote a great series on feeding toddlers, as well as wonderful resource for raising healthy eaters through childhood. In her article, "Your Toddler's Development: What to Expect and How It Affects Nutrition" she says,
Toddler eating can worry parents. Understanding how the toddler develops, both physically and cognitively (fancy word for brain development), can help you get a grip on why your toddler behaves the way he does, especially around food and eating.
Instead of giving up, I try to remember that children use food as the first power play-- they are learning to exert their independence as well as using it as a power play with parents and the limits we set. My role is simple: make and offer healthy food choices and model good eating behaviors.

In agreement with Castle's guidelines, we have never had many "rules" for eating at the table, but we have structure and standards for manners like: sitting still and not getting up from the table until you are finished with your meals, saying "please" and "thank you for dinner", not complaining about the meal, and trying at least one bite of a food that is "not your favorite".

I think it has worked for the most part, but with our long winter, I've been relying on a lot of warm foods, like soups and stews, which seem to be particularly difficult for them to try, because they can't separate the ingredients.

My husband was so kind as to offer to help me make some freeze-ahead meals for the next month or two, so I started by writing a list of our children favorite meals.

Here's a snapshot of what I came up with:
For the full list, you can find it on my Pinterest page here.
I am going to get a shopping list and few of the recipes together and start posting them as I go and fill up my freezer again with some of the freeze-ahead versions and shopping lists.

Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014


Through a difficult week for many friends over the loss of a dear mother, friend and Warrior. She's blazed a trail for many mothers many years ago, having a career as a nurse, then getting married later, only to really enjoy having seven kids and raising them well. Her daughter blogs about her in a tribute

In the same week, there was a terrible accident at the high school I attended, where a teen girl was killed and another girl seriously injured.

The loss of those two beautiful women is striking and severe. We all must face loss in our life. We might not lose our mother or our friend or our daughter, but every day we must confront our own mortality and limitations.  

Grief isn't just over great loss, it can be experienced every single day.  We might see them as frustrations or disappointments. But they are losses. The kids break the radio. The meat you took out for dinner is bad. School is delayed two hours again. Our friend let us down. The struggles we face might seem simple in light of a greater loss, but we still have to ask   How do we move through grief?

Every person has their own way through; and if you are currently experiences, I pray you will find your way through the comforts of Christ. But you will have your own time, methods, pace, momentum and stalling. That is why I love poetry; because it is always a reflection of someone else's process. It reassures me that I am not alone in my experience, nor am I supposed to make it look a certain way.

Speak low to me, my Saviour, low and sweet
From out the hallelujahs, sweet and low
Lest I should fear and fall, and miss Thee so
Who art not missed by any that entreat.
Speak to me as to Mary at thy feet!
And if no precious gems my hands bestow,
Let my tears drop like amber while I go
In reach of thy divinest voice complete
In humanest affection -- thus, in sooth,
To lose the sense of losing. As a child,
Whose song-bird seeks the wood for evermore
Is sung to in its stead by mother's mouth
Till, sinking on her breast, love-reconciled,
He sleeps the faster that he wept before. 
There is a way through, one where you reach a place of rest from your sorrows and disappointments. There will be a time when we will "lose our sense of losing." A small psalm understands the smallness we feel when we grieve: Psalm 131 gives us a simple image: that of a resting child.

Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore.

As Browning writes, there will be a time when we will have sweet rest faster than the tears come down so quickly.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My little ham bone

I haven't written about my son, Grant, in quite a while. After receiving this picture, I couldn't help but pause and reflect.

Isn't he a ham? We didn't prompt this pose at all. During the photo sessions after my brother-in-law's recent wedding, we were trying to get him to smile, and my husband gave him a "thumbs-up" from the sidelines. 
At three and a half, he has returned to his normal, cheerful, but mischievous self. In contrast to my daughter, he is much more sneaky. We often find him hiding with various electronics under our large ottoman, our bed or his bed. The same goes with food-- he says "surprise" with his little eyebrows raised, as if the candy or chocolate in his mouth was a great idea. He also has very specific preferences and explains those in great detail at great volume. This morning: "Mom, I need milk in. a. sippa. cup." Every word is emphasized. As if I didn't know or hadn't heard that one before.
Most of his winter days involve couch acrobatics, breakdancing spins on the wood floors, or going over "to check if Ben's home." Ben is his neighbor friend next door; Grant explains it like this, "You know, Ben's my bruder, you know, Mom?" Here they are roasting marshmallows in front of your favorite winter activity: making a fire. I think you get this love of woods, outdoors and fires from your Opa, who loves to take you outside to chop wood every time you visit him.

In other ways, you are still a little guy. Every morning, if you don't find me in bed, you ask me, "Why you not in bed, Mom? You supposed to 'nuggle me!" You bury your cold feet against my warm legs and you nuzzle down under the covers or blanket next to me. I love these little moments because I know they won't last forever. I always knew I wanted little boys for their rambunctious and spirited energy-- and I got a special one in you.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Two babes.

The first is my third child, due in July. Here's a picture of "Salami Shank" so dubbed by my three year old son.


At least my older child calls it "Rosie".

Obviously, both my children have strong preferences on gender. Good thing it's not a decision I chose and have to live with the problem of being a major celebration for one and a epic disappointment for the other.

The second is my fourth. Yes, I am having two babies in one year! That's what Carolyn and I call our joint book project, The Measure of Success, due out February 1, 2014. Here's what it look like if you haven't seen it already on my Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and every where else :)

Here's a quote from the back of the book:
Discover God's view of the successful woman

Should a woman work? Can a woman be feminine, godly, and ambitious? Is work only for women who need the income? Is there any sanctified ground between the stay-at-home mom and the aspiring executive?

Whether you are married or single, young or old, and whether you work inside the home or in the marketplace, Carolyn and Nora create a rich vision for fulfillment through an understanding of the compelling foundation for the biblical call of productivity.

Far from the stone-throwing arguments that often occupy the discussion around women, work, and the home, Carolyn and Nora show how the redemptive message of the gospel allows the Bible's teaching on the role of women to coexist with ambition. It creates a fresh vision for the profit we all gain from encouraging female contribution in the home, society, and church.

If you've ever wondered whether you're living the life that most glorifies God,The Measure of Success will help you answer that question.
My bio on the back says that I ran several entrepreneurial candy and lemonade stands, so I thought would share a picture of my first with my childhood friend. Aren't we cute?? Can you read the sign on the right? It says, "Keep your cups if you wint more." That was the Dutch in me trying to be cheap and resourceful.

I can't wait to hear what you think about our latest venture! In the coming weeks, you'll hear more about how we would love to hear from our readers on their work and how they define success, as well as a few fun giveaways!

If you want to read more specifically about work for women and see less of me and my pictures, then you can check out my other site here.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Above the clouds

I'm siting here on the airplane, 30,000 feet up on the air, getting farther away from my city, and it's got me thinking. 

Why do I spend so much time wanting a break, when the minute I arrived in the security line, I feel lonely?

What?! Are you crazy, Nora? You finally get away from the kids-- and to be alone with girlfriends for the first time in probably ten years, and you're missing them already? 

I guess so. Call me crazy, but when your life starts embedding in your children's lives more deeply with each passing year, I finally get what all those weepy-eyed college mothers are crying about.

When my kids were super little, I loved getting away. There was the time Travis and I ran away for three days to the Mexican beaches and I was so fed up with a one and a half and three year old, all I did for the whole car ride down there was eat almost an ENTIRE bag of Sunchips. Not fed up obviously, just delirious and hungry-- a bad combination when standing in a gas station. 

Now that they are (almost) out of toddlerhood, and with the advent of school years upon me, I am more tied in than I ever thought.

This is when it is time to detox. I'm not saying to run away from your children maliciously. Or to neglect your duties or ignore your children's physical or emotional needs. I just agree with many other smarter old school mothers: I have to take care of myself.

This is a concept discussed with much more eloquence by Anne Morrow Lindbergh in her book Gift from the Sea. She writes how important it is to create creative and emotional space for ourselves as women, because we get tied up in being caregivers.

I think we all need time, extended time, away from those we love as caregivers. It will honestly take me several days to detox from mom and wife mode and the distracting thoughts about dishwashers needing to be unloaded or to find that missing pacifier. I have to choose to distance myself, not by disconnecting or stop caring, but by getting away from the essential, well known belief women all have that it's all up to me.

When we get away, we know that no vegetables will be eaten, the floors won't be clean, the laundry bins will overflow and something WILL get lost or broken.

But in our love to be central to our households, we can sometime forget the freedom found in letting go. 

It would have happened anyways: the laundry and cleaning will never cease. Food will spoil in the dark recesses of the fridge to the best of us. Tears will be shed anyways.

We're important but also important as an individual. Caring about yourself, specifically, your own soul, mind and body isn't wrong. It's a good thing for both you and the ones you are entrusting to others.

I feel this way every morning I put a little sweet kindergartner on the bus. I have to 'entrust their souls to God while doing good'.

A great speaker at our church said it well:  faith is believing in character as much as capabilities. On a deeper level, I have to trust other caretakers that they are reliable in character as well as capabilities.

We would like to think that the kids will really miss us (most likely our spouses will after they spend a weekend or afternoon fending for it on their own), but we will probably miss them more. It is good for children to learn that the universe does not revolve around Mom either. Dads can really use the time alone, without us disturbing their mojo with interjections and 'that's not the way we usually do it' commentary. 

So, here's from the flight deck: fasten your safety belts and take off-- take off for an hour: don't worry about your kids or think about how if you're not there present with them, that you are disappointing them. For full-time moms as well as full-time working moms this helps us survive as well as spend our emotional energy wisely. Taking time off also helps us to recharge our capacity for helping them through life and crazy heart emotions. Getting away helps us use other parts of our brains, including strategic and creative centers.

Friends, when was the last time you got away?? I'm just going to try not to text my husband reminders of a million details this weekend for starters :)