Thursday, February 27, 2014

~Easy Banana Pancakes! Option for Paleo Diet~

Our kids adore pancakes of any sort...but unfortunately those fluffy circles usually wreck havoc with my digestion, so I had to find some sort of compromise...these ones seemed to work! Enjoy :)

Oaty-Banana Cakes

1 banana
3 eggs
1/4 cup oats (quick)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (for frying)

Topping: raw honey to taste or maple syrup
Extra Fun: roasted pecans on side!

Paleo Friendly Adjustment--> interchange the oats for ground almonds 

Mash up banana in glass bowl. Whisk in eggs. Once fairly consistent with few chunks, then add cinnamon and oats. Heat skillet to high heat. Melt 1 tablespoon of extra virgin coconut oil on it.
Divide mix in half and drop on skillet to make pancake. Flip once bubbles are coming through (or tan brown on cooked side). Add honey to taste. 

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Parenting Principle — Reward, don’t ‘bribe’!!!

Guest Blogger Today!

I have the lovely Joanne Leach guest blogging here today. Here's a little bit about her:

"I'm the mother of two married children, and grandmother of five.  My husband Bob and I have been pastoring a non-denominational church for 28 years now.  My passion in life is helping women achieve their full potential, especially in this day when women are pulled in so many directions.  I'm excited about seeing the next generation grow up with character and integrity and I believe good parenting is the key!"

& please take a moment to check out her amazing blog!

OR her church's website for some inspiring stories

Parenting Principle

          Reward your children for good behaviour — don’t bribe them to get good behaviour!!!
Some parents have a hard time discerning the difference between bribes and rewards, yet there is a difference.  Whether we like it or not, we live in a society where certain behaviour reaps certain benefits.  (Some parents disagree with this, but how many would continue to go to work if there was no pay check at the end of the week?)   

Here are some examples of rewards:
–an allowance earned on the weekend for doing chores all week long
–a special treat for doing well at school
–a hot chocolate and cookies after shoveling snow

And here are some examples of bribes:
–’if you go and clean your room I will give you $5.00′
–’go and take the dog for a walk and you can watch that TV show’
–’please take the garbage out, and I will give you a treat’.

I hope you can see the difference, because there is one! In a family, all of us have responsibilities.  Some things we like, other things not so much.  We are not paid to do these things (I wish I got paid everytime I made a meal!!!!) we do them simply because we are part of a family, and we all share the load and contribute.

A child should not be raised with the idea that they are doing you a special favour by helping out, and therefore deserve a reward or payment.  Kids should accept the fact that everyone pitches in, with a good attitude.  That’s what family members do.  Doing age appropriate chores is normal.
If a parent chooses to give a special treat or reward for an extra special job done well, that is their prerogative.  It should be appreciated, but certainly not expected.

Allowance falls into a separate category, because it’s a great way to instill responsibility in children.  (However, if chores are not done, the allowance is not given, but then the chores still must be done — they are not optional!).   The other benefit of an allowance is that young children can earn money, and then the fun begins of teaching them how to save, spend, and give.  And that’s another blog for another time.

The goal is to raise children who are diligent, hard workers, helpful, clean, tidy, selfless, and on it goes.  It takes work, but it’s so worth it.

Oh and, start young — even a two year old can pick up toys! And a five year old can cook!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

~How Easily Do You Embrace Change?~

This year I've committed that things are going to be different!

As the end of 2013 crept up on me, I was plagued with thoughts of "I can not let another year go by with all of my attitudes, circumstances and relationships simply remaining the same."

So, my first hair cut of the year was a drastic one...not sure if you can tell in the pic above, but I cut off most of my locks & went for the uneven bob. And I dyed it purple, yes, a nice purple-y red. That was only the beginning of my adventures.

I started working out. The time invested into my consulting business has increased. Our homeschool routine received a few slight tweaks. Change even came to this blog (in case this is your first visit). New recipes & meal plans were created for my family as well.

To be honest, it felt refreshing. Invigorating! Especially when I saw all my long blonde locks as they fell to the hairdresser's floor...

How many years go by where we don't embrace change? 

Years where we continue in stagnation, in frustration, often blaming others due to our own lack of initiative or imagination. It can limit our potential in so many arenas of life.

I want to throw out a challenge out there: make a change this week!

It could be something as simple as a new haircut, or perhaps you want to challenge yourself to try a brand new activity (sky diving?!).

 Whatever you choose, don't put it off. Let's not allow another year to pass you by where you remain the same, where you don't grow, where you don't become more fully the person God created & intended you to be...

An original. A masterpiece. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

~5 Nutritious Snack Ideas with 5 or less Ingredients~

~Snack Recipes~

Each one of these snack recipes only require a few ingredients & thus are EASY to make!
And that's important in this busy Mama's household. The easier, the better :)
& as a bonus, my kids are learning that snacks CAN be healthy AND delicious as well!!


Note: ALL snacks are GLUTEN free & focus on REAL FOOD ingredients

Peanut-Yum Fudge

1/2 cup of extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup butter (unsalted preferred)
4 heaping tablespoons of pure cocoa
1/2 cup of raw honey
1/4 cup of organic smooth peanut butter (or almond butter)

Melt the coconut oil, butter & honey on stove top on low heat. Mix in cocoa & peanut butter. Keep stirring until you reach desired consistency.
Place in square/circle dish of choice. Store in fridge once cooled. Eat when you feel it's hard enough :)
Optional additions: chopped pecans, almond slivers, unsweetened shredded coconut
***Warning--> This will definitely NOT last long around the house!

Fun-Fantastic Popcorn

Bag of popcorn kernels
2 tablespoons of extra virgin coconut oil (or extra virgin olive oil if you prefer)
sea salt
Flavor shot of choice--> dried dill, ground garlic, chili powder, popcorn spice mix with no additives

Melt the coconut oil. Pop the kernels using an air popper. Choose flavor of choice & voila :)

Chocolate Creamy Avocado Pudding

Ripe avocado (or 2,3)
Extra virgin coconut oil (about 1/4 cup)
Cocoa Powder (2-3 heaping tablespoons)
Raw Honey
1 ripe mashed banana

Mash ripe avocado in one bowl. On stove top melt coconut oil & mix in cocoa powder until a fairly consistent liquid. Add in honey until desired sweetness & stir. Once reached desired consistency add in avocado & ripe banana. Could use food processor or simply use hand mixer (if don't mind some lumps!)

Homemade Trail Mix

1/2 cup of raw or lightly roasted peanuts
1/2 of raisins
1/2 cup of raw or lightly roasted pecans, cashews or almonds
1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (or could use carob)
Optional--> dried cranberries, unsweetened coconut, raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds, etc.

Mix ingredients in glass or other container. Keep on counter, or even in fridge for longer freshness.

Homemade 'Pop' Substitute

1/2 glass filled with club soda
1/2 glass filled with water
1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar
5-6 drops of stevia sweetener
add lime/lemon or other fruit wedges for zest!
I actually tried frozen mango cubes & enjoyed it :)

Mix all ingredients together in a tall cold glass. Experiment with flavors.
*note: this recipe & other variations of it was found circulating around on Pinterest. Find the original I posted on my board here--> Rachael's "Natural Health" Pinterest Board

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

~The Teetering Balance for the Homeschool Mama~

Homeschooling Allows For More Family Time!
Hannah, JJ & Gracie pose for a pic

I feel broken in's been a touch less than 2 years of homeschooling  for me ...and although I'm not a novice anymore, I am constantly learning more as I trudge along.

One thing I have had to learn the hard way, is that for the homeschooling Mama, there is a great need for B-A-L-A-N-C-E....balance is the key to sanity and to maintaining some semblance of order in our often overflowing lives!

Waking up, feeding the kids, cleaning the house, learning & teaching, feed the kids...repeat...extra-curricular activities, church, visit family, organize bills, phone calls... the list seems endless at times...

We know homeschooling has SO many benefits, and here are some of them:

-extra family time
-opportunity to see character issues up front & deal with them
-individualized learning 
-ability to get extra help for children with learning issues
-a freedom of schedule so your children can pick up important 'real life' skills 
-a chance to model co-operation between loving family members
-work & co-op opportunities as children approach high school & college age
See a post I wrote about this in detail: "The JOYS of Homeschooling

& there's so much more I don' t have the space for...

However, any HONEST homeschooling Mama will tell you that there are also unique challenges that other parents may or may not face, or at least not as often. Here are some I've personally experienced:

-lack of personal time & space
-having to be more diligent to keep up friendships/relationships
-extra pressure on our marriage 
-extra pressure on our finances
-house may not get as cleaned, and I guarantee you if it does it won't last that long!
-some of your personal goals may have to be put on hold, or take longer to achieve
-discouragement when your children continually struggle in a particular area, whether it be in the academic or character realm

In the last 2 weeks I've had many, many tear-filled moments....a sick baby incessantly crying, explosive diapers, another child repeatedly puking, sibling conflict, feeling so tired that I want to sleep for the entire day (but I settle for a 15 minute catnap on the couch instead!), a child struggles with a particular subject so much so that we are sitting at the table at 5pm STILL trying to complete an assignment, spills, splatters, attitudes & the normal buzz of life as the icing on top.

I must remind you at this point about the more positive list above :) Yes, there's a reason we're still homeschooling...

Today, I wanted to share a few tips that I've found helpful to get through the rough patches, the discouraging seasons, and to try and maintain the 'balance' in the home...although any HONEST Mama will tell you that this is an never-ending battle!

It's time to re-prioritize and make some changes, myself included! Balance isn't a one-time's much better to re-evaluate from season to season. Here we go-->

  • Take Time to Refresh! 
If you've ever been on a plane you may recall the instructions "in case of emergency, put the air masks on yourself first...BEFORE your children or anyone else." Why is this? Quite simply, we cannot help someone else when we are struggling for breath! I feel it's very similar for a homeschooling Mama. Being short-tempered, impatient & overall sluggish with our kids from day to day isn't really helpful to our goals as parents. Of course, we will ALL have those trying days, but the less the better! Taking time to get up, get ready, have a quiet time in the morning with the Lord, shower, change...basically whatever makes you feel ready for YOUR crucial to being one step ahead of the game. Aim to get up half hour (at least) before the kids do.

  • Make Sure to Exercise & Keep Yourself Physically Active
Goes with number 1; it's important to keep ourselves in the best condition we can. Five minutes of the treadmill (or walking) is enough to get your circulation system pumping. More would be optimal. Weight bearing exercise is a bonus & a great MUST if you're 40 or over. Walking. Running. Swimming. Just get active & start with small increments as low as 5 minutes, even 2 if that's all the time you have right now! Here I share my own journey after my fifth pregnancy--> No More Excuses

  • Make as Healthy Choices as You Can
Matches with number 2; if our body's are not properly fueled we will not be functioning at our BEST. Fruit, fresh veggies, legumes, nuts & seeds. Soups, stews, lean-cut meats & a variety of herbal teas & herb/spices to season things up. I'm a holistic nutritionist and realize how important this is...but it still is a personal battle for me given the lack of extra time & money. My goal is to do the best with what we have...and that little bit of change can make all the difference in the world in how you feel. 
Here's a post I wrote on this: Top Ten Easy Steps to a More Nutritious You!

  • Guard Your Marriage
I never knew how little time I would have for my marriage as a homeschooling Mama...I think EVERY homeschooling manual & support group should touch on this sensitive topic. Your marriage needs to be guarded and made a priority. Date nights. Evenings alone without children. Time to pray together, dream, set goals...hang around other couples that are encouraging to you both. I wrote a post about this recently called Messy Marriage

  • Take Time for Field Trips
After a few back-to-back looooong days a field trip can be a great RESPITE from the fatigue of regular schooling. The list of possibilities is endless for the homeschooler. The only limits are your budget and imagination! I personally recommend you join a local homeschooling support group & find some like-minded friends that you can go on the trips with. Discounts are abundant, usually for groups of 20 or more. We've enjoyed places like the local farm, museums, large play areas, businesses, and many more! Here's a fun post one of our close friends did on her field trip to an aquarium: Homeschool Unit Studies & Field Trips

  • Talk/Pray with Other Mamas
Sometimes a simple five minute phone conversation is refreshing enough to help me sigh a big breathe of relief...sharing our days and memorable moments...sharing dreams & future goals concerning our children...even to simply shoot the breeze is often enough to achieve that 'balance' we are all looking for. Don't forget to BE that kind of friend that others might need in a season of discouragement or difficulty! 

  • Get the Kids Outside
This point is DOUBLY important if you have one or more boys in your homeschool! I repeat...get them OUTSIDE! (smile) Outside activity is helpful to ensure that WHEN the children are inside they are able to concentrate better, and that they continue to stay in good physical shape. 
*Note: if you do have some wiggly boys feel free to be encouraged here--> Raising Boys

  • Take Time to Get Out with Friends
Maybe this point may sound selfish to some of you, but I believe too many of us can easily swing the other way..."I don't need anyone"..."I don't need any help/encouragement/accountability." I am so thankful for our local support groups. Even online support groups have a place for those days/weeks when you can't get outdoors much. Adult talk is a must, and with some struggles it may be prudent to talk about with other Mamas who are in the same boat as you. If they've been homeschooling for any length of time, they should be able to relate :)

  • Find Some Recommended Books/Blogs to Refresh Your Vision
I recently got a nice little package in the mail with some new favs: "Educating the WholeHearted Child" by the Clay & Sally Clarkson, and "More Hours in My Day" by Emilie Barnes & Sherri Torelli. These are helpful treasures to add in any library! But there are soo many others...I personally enjoy parenting/homeschooling books by "Dr. James Dobson", "Duggar Family", "Mary Pride", & "The Idiot's Guide to Homeschooling" to name a few off the top of my head...and one of my fav homeschooling bloggers is Amy at Raising Arrows--> Check Amy's Blog Out Here

  • Maybe Your Perspective Needs to Change
It could be that you no longer have time for your elaborate garden. Or the nagging feeling that you are somehow 'missing' out on something after you just get off of Facebook (don't you love social media for that?!)...your kids are still having their struggles & you are trying your hardest to keep your head afloat. Sometimes all that's really needed is a perspective change. A new lens. A new way to look at your struggles. Keep the long-term vision in mind. Eternity is forever, but today goes by so quickly....Read "The Lens That May Need Some Dusting Off"

Let's be real: homeschooling is NOT always easy! Homeschooling is a sacrifice that you & your family have chosen for the blessing of your children. Your laundry may be piled up...your house may be stained with lil finger prints...your backyard would not impress the likes of Martha Stewart...but your heart is full & you are taking it day-by-day.

At our home we have decided that we'll reassess year by year for each one of our children. So far we have seen a lot of benefits from homeschooling, but we don't frown on our friends & loved ones who choose a different path. We are currently praying & assessing already for the next school year...

Homeschooling is a great way to add in fun extra-curriculars!
JJ at a homeschool race

~Please feel free to share any tips that have worked for you to maintain your balance! I love to learn from other seasoned, or not so seasoned, Mamas out there. ~

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