Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Why I Hate Carseats

Car seats save children's lives.  I know this.  But let me, for a moment, vent about how I hate them.  I mean, really hate them.

Now, I might not be objective.  I might just have a large protruding mass at my midsection, making the whole carseat production more difficult.  But the whole routine of getting children in and out of carseats is going to make me mental.  I mean I might soon begin gnashing my teeth, throwing myself on the ground, and having a full-on toddler-tantrum FIT over the stupid blasted things.

Case in point:  this morning looked like this:

Get children ready to go so I could take Silas to preschool.  [This fun production could last upwards of 20 minutes if you include potty, socks, shoes, coats, getting them to the vehicle etc].  Both boys in carseats to get to preschool.  Take them both out at preschool.  Wait for 20 minutes because we are going on a 'fun' field trip today.  Put them back in the car.  Drive to library (which we live 2 minutes away from, by the way).Take them both out of the car.  Toby pees his pants.  Into the library for storytime, change Toby's pants, back into their carseats to go back to preschool.  Take Silas out of his carseat to bring him to his class.  Drive to a meeting I have, take Toby out of carseat.  Toby poops and pees his pants.  Excellent.  Change him, back in car seat.  Back to preschool where I have to put Silas back into the car.  Drive to grocery story to pick up some veggies (part 1 of today's grocery shopping, oh joy).  Take both boys out.  Shop.  Put both boys back in.  Get home, take both boys out AGAIN and see that Toby has yet again peed in his carseat.  

20 times.  Yes, that's right, I counted.  I had to take a child IN or OUT of the car 20 times and it is only 12:30 pm.  

Okay, now looking at the above....is it any wonder that we are stressed, frustrated and harried in our culture?  Every single stinkin' time we go somewhere the whole process of getting kids in and out of their carseats makes me want to spit.  I can be heard saying any number of the following each time:

"off the road Toby, we're getting in the car.  Silas, climb in please.  Silas, sit on your bum please- stop climbing around.  No, it's not too tight.  Stop wiggling.  Toby, put the toy down because Mommy needs to buckle you in.  No, it's not too tight."

I'm physically spent simply by putting my kids in the car.  But, you know, it's practically criminal to not have a carseat, or to leave your child unattended in the car while you bring the other one into a building.  Heaven forbid.  I'm seriously considering hiring a 'child car-seat attendant' who I can page for just this one purpose.  Or maybe Jason will build me a ramp.  Or could there not just be an 'eject' button where the straps get disconnected and the child can simply climb out?  There has GOT to be a solution here people.

More reasons to hate carseats:
1. They are insanely challenging to adjust.  It's winter- we layer our children and sometimes we don't.  Adjusting the straps is a freakin Jillian Michaels workout.  
2. They expire.  Huh?
3. They're heavy.  Sweet Mother Russia they're heavy.  Our Peg Perego infant seat with Silas was a beast.  I'm surprised there aren't more lawsuits against car seat companies for the strain they put on our shoulders- couldn't there be a better situation for carrying them?  Couldn't they be on wheels with a little extend-able handle (like, all of them) or have a built in robot for transportation purposes?
4. You have to take them on planes.  What a gong show.  You should see our luggage carts at the airport.
5. They cannot be cleaned easily.  No wonder we need vaccinations- look at our carseats?  Who knows what lives in those suckers- what with the crumbs and spills and incontinence remains.  But it's like building something from ikea (without the instructions) to get those covers off.  That's why we never clean them, by the way.
6. Children have to be in them, FOREVER.  And by this, I mean my children.  My children are tiny.  Toby is just 22 lbs.  (Seriously?)  At this rate they will probably have to bring their carseats on their honeymoons.

I could go on.  

Oh yes.  But we love them because they keep our children 'safe.' 

I have seen you expats in foreign countries with your kids attached in their wraps around your back, on MOTORBIKES.  I envy you. I really, really do.  If only, 'simplifying' was possible in our culture of rules and regulations.  I wish the boys could just bounce around the backseat with helmets on and hope for the best. Or maybe we should just never go anywhere?

Heavy sigh.
In 2 months I will have another carseat. Lord help me.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Silas Turns 4!

Silas turned 4 and I decided to throw him a baking party.  Now, that might seem strange, but Silas TRULY loves baking.  He bakes cakes (with his lego), he serves me cake (at playgrounds) he pretends to make cake (with his tool bench) and he is always at my elbow helping me bake in the kitchen.  It just had to be THIS theme.

It was a lot of work, but a ton of fun.  I love having a chance to get crafty and creative. This marks the end of our birthdays for awhile (phew) and I might have to give the 'themed birthday party' a break next year but for now, here are some pictures:

I large box of cupcake liners + string + tape = three kinds of decorations.  It was so bright and fun in here!  

My inspiration was found here and here and here

On some crazy inspiration, we decided to have a 'kids only' birthday.  But, it was quickly apparent that it was SUPER helpful to have had the help of a few adults that stayed.

1. We started with 'treat box decorating' and snacks.  Each child got their own 'treat box' to cover in stickers and that we would fill with the treats we were going to make (so that they could take their sugar HOME with them instead of eating it all here)

(Silas waiting for his guests!) 
Completed treat boxes waiting for treats!

3. 'Play-doh' cookies. Next we started baking!  I found these and immediately fell in love with the idea.  I made the dough ahead of time with Silas, we coloured it and then rolled it into balls to store in the fridge so they'd be ready to go.  The kids each chose three colours, mashed them into a ball and then rolled them out like a snake.  They then wound them around in a 'lollipop' shape and we threw them in the oven.  SO fun.

Rolling them out with their hands 
on the baking tray
Final product

4. I tried to mix things up and do something at the table (baking) and then get the kids to run around doing an activity while I set the table for the next baking project.  SO they set out on a kitchen scavenger hunt.  We had hid some of my kitchen items upstairs and each child got a sheet with pictures of the items on it, and a pkg of stickers.  They had to find the item and put a sticker on it when they found it (without removing it from its hiding spot).  They actually had a lot of fun with it!

5.  Back at the table, the kids got to decorate pizzas for their lunches. 

6. While those were baking, they had some free play time and we tried to play "pin the candle on the cake" (a game which Silas and I coloured and decorated before the party) but it didn't go over super well.  Note to self: games where EVERY child is busy ALL AT ONCE are better than ones where they have to stand in line and wait their turn.
7. And then after eating pizzas and taking this group shot...

8. We started decorating cupcakes!  I made the cupcakes ahead of time and had numerous colours of icing, some icings in icing bags for the kids to try, and some gel icing (that you usually use to write with) for the kids to decorate.  They each got 3 cupcakes- one to eat, and two to take home in their treat boxes.  There was also a MASSIVE selection of sprinkles.  Each child picked 4-5 little containers of sprinkles and candies so they wouldn't be all fighting over one bowl and they went nuts....was so fun!
Lots of icing!

The sprinkles and gel pens: 
Toby getting in there too.... (he had his own selection of dairy-free icing and all the cupcakes were made dairy free)

 When everyone was done decorating their cupcakes, we stopped to sing happy birthday and then each got to eat one!

9. Last 'activity' was present opening and free play.  

 Toby was having a hard time at this point...."my present" he was saying....
Reading his friend Molly a story!

Goody Bags:
Each child got to take away their treat boxes and they also got to take some of the 'table decorations' - a small plastic measuring cup, a coloured spatula, and a small rolling pin for their home baking endeavours.  My dad supplied the awesome, authentic chef's hats and they each took one home as well.    

Silas and I had made these 'cupcakes on a stick' earlier in the week as a party favor as well.  They each got to take 2.  Essentially they consist of marshmallows dipped in chocolate, and then covered in candy melt coloured chocolate with sprinkles and smarties on top.  These were my inspiration.
And Silas' big gift, courtesy of Nana and Papa was a fabulous new kitchen!!! They've never had one and everywhere we go, Silas is playing in one.  We bought him some kitchen items over Christmas- as well as his Grandma and he was SO excited about it.  He has been organizing and re-organizing it over and over again.  
I didn't want anything intrusive and it fits this empty spot perfectly!  Now that we're having a girl next this thing will get TONS of us (I suspect).  Thanks Nana and Papa!

Happy Birthday Silas!  
It was so fun to celebrate you, with the people you love and doing the things you love!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When Nature Calls

I was having an enjoyable, rather ordinary day with the kids.  Actually, it felt a bit extraordinary because it was a very good morning.  The sky was clear, the kids were playing pretty well together, and I had decided to turn off all technology for the day.  I wanted to be present.  I wanted to be fully in the moments with my kids.

We eventually wandered outside.  Those of you with boys know that a fully indoor day is just simply not an option.  I mean, for everyone's sanity.  So Toby hopped on his scooter and Silas was on his bike and we meandered to the mail box.  I tried, with every ounce of my being, to not rush the children and just enjoy the journey.

All of a sudden, Toby wanted to catch my attention.  "Mommy, mommy, MOMMY, MOMMY" with the urgency that only a toddler can employ.  When I finally looked we literally watched as the most spectacular rainbow started to unfold in the sky.  At first it was just a little tiny rainbow reaching upwards from the horizon.  Then it grew, and grew and became brighter.  Soon it filled the WHOLE entire sky.  It was a full arch. It was literally astonishing.

And the boys, they were completely enraptured.  Toby was funny to watch "A rainbow!!!! I have it!!" He said, reaching for it.  "I eat it..." he said.  (Interesting).  I said to him "God put that in the sky, isn't it beautiful?"  Then rather matter of factly, he stated "Thank you God."

Precious.  Totally, and completely precious.

As it started to disappear, we carried on and I was still in la-la land of perfect mommyhood.  I had marvelously deep thoughts about how great it was being a mom, seeing things through the eyes of a child, how poetic and spiritual that moment was etc etc.

We ventured into the woods, as my boys love to do.  "Let's go exploring!"  Silas loves to say- even though what he means is walking 15 steps into the treed area lining our complex.  "Sure!" I was in a wonderful mood now.  As far as we could go, we bush-whacked and at our furthest distance...it happened.

Toby said "Poop Mommy."

Huh?  I mean, I took him to the potty before we left, he shouldn't need to go.  But all you moms out there who are in the trenches of potty training know that, well, there isn't much time warning with these things.  I breathed a sigh of relief thinking "Oh, I put him in a pull-up before we left."  Double check...nope.  Underwear.  At this point we were too far away from home, and I had no other option.

"Want to poop in the forest Toby"

Down go the pants and there, in the visible distance from the housing units in our complex, my son poops.  But you see, there were many mistakes I made in this process.  His shoes were still on.  His coat was hanging too low, and I had no means of wiping.  My 7 months pregnant self is huffing and puffing, bending and lifting, trying to scour the forest for leaves to wipe my child's coat and now shoes and socks, legs and butt.  I become crazy mom "Don't move!  Don't touch!  STAY AWAY SILAS."  Toby's moaning "Owwww leaves pokey" when I hurriedly wipe him. Silas is all up our grill wanting to see the action and asking rapid-fire questions.  By this point, I'm literally out of breath- my pregnant belly allows for very little in the way of bending motion and the sheer effort of trying to pull pants down, stabilize, wipe, and re-apply pants OVER shoes was literally too much.

Pretty-rainbow-moment has now become stinky-poopy-son moment.  By this point it is cold and getting dark, Silas is insistent that we bury the poop, since that is obviously my priority at this time.  Toby's coat is disgusting.  Toby wants to see the territory he has marked, "see it Mommy, see it SEE IT", again- insistent toddler.  I realize we've left the dinner too long, and the child-sized vehicles un-manned.  I have to pee.  Silas doesn't want to ride his bike, he wants the scooter, but Toby's bum is too saturated from ineffective wiping to ride any sort of bike.  I'm trying to carry/cattle prod the two boys back home while trying to avoid the massive traffic jam that becomes our complex at 5 pm.

Slight disaster.   

And this my friends, is exactly how motherhood goes.  Moments of sheer beauty, poetry and precious memories.  Followed close in hand with sweat-inducing, mess-making, bodily function encounters...mini disaster.  

Rainbows and poop.  Just another day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 10

I'm using the month of January to fight against 7 food excesses in my life.  Depriving myself, in order to reflect more deeply on why I have these food excesses to begin with.

So it continues.  No sugar.  No coffee.  The war rages on.  

I reached, unconsciously, for some chocolate bread last night.  Dang.  And all week I've been baking for my son's birthday party.  Let me tell you that watching him 'test' a marshmallow dipped in chocolate and sprinkles...is surprisingly horrifying. [End whine here]

But what is it about this that is so challenging, really?  What is at the heart of my [our] need to consume when we want, what we want, how ever much we want?  There is something insidious that is heart-deep at the centre of our cultural norm to buy, eat, and own, isn't there?  We are caught up in it.  We could blame social media, we could blame advertising, we could blame wealth and prosperity but all of these things capitalize on what is already at the centre of our own hearts:  

Greed.  Control.  Comfort.  Entitlement.  We want instant gratification and quick fixes. When I feel lonely, I want to grab a handful of chocolate chips.  When I feel disappointed, I want the comfort of a hot cup of Starbucks.  When I feel rushed and harried, I want the convenience of snack foods.  I want want want.  And not only do I want, I thanklessly decide that I am entitled to it.  "Well, I worked hard today, so I deserve a _____[insert snack food here].  

But what do I actually need?  What is enough?

Food excess is complicated.  It is multi-layered.  It is a societal issue, it is a community issue, it is an emotional issue, it is complicated.  Over-eating, indulging, feasting, these are all things we expect.  We socialize around food, we have food at every event, it is always at our fingertips.  If we want it, with one simple swipe of the credit card or one quick reach into our pantry, we can have it.  Open fridge door, insert hand, out comes food.  Simple transaction.


I cannot even fathom that for many, I repeat, for MOST people in this world, this is a dream and not a reality.  A distant hope.  Food available at one's fingertips for comfort and not just necessity?  Even the fact that we have issues with over-indulgence in the west must seem absolutely atrocious, to those who cannot feed themselves or their families.  If anyone's seen the hunger games movie or read the books, the juxtaposition of extreme poverty next to incredible wealth seems sickening, doesn't it?  But we don't see it with food as often.  Yet if our system and others' were placed side by side we would see the outrageous excess in our world, wouldn't we?  Scarcity, hunger, and need define many food cycles, not over-abundance, over-eating and 'want' which define ours.  

Empty mouths and empty hands next to one whole aisle full of lucky charms, fruit loops and captain crunch?  Something is not right.

I read this account the other day "One afternoon while I was living in Bangladesh, my best friend took me to visit Ramona...I saw the daughter Ramona was carrying on her hip. The girl's hair was almost white.  Her eyes peered lifelessly at me from sunken sockets. The child appeared to be desperately ill.  Nearly two years old, she was not strong enough to walk.  When Ramona stepped into the kitchen to make some tea, I whispered to my friend, 'what's wrong with Ramona's daughter?'  She replied "Ramona and her husband can no longer feed all the children they have, so they have chosen this daughter to die."  -Extending the Table 

[Insert heart-pang and tears]

This isn't as 'skin deep' of an issue as I thought.  When I undertook the challenge of just 'cutting out 7 foods' I was thinking 'this will be easy, no problem it's just a month...'  but what if I need to actually make changes? Real changes.  Beyond this month?

Maybe we all do.  Maybe we need to stop saying "more please" and choose to take less.  Or be more thankful.  Or indulge less.  I don't know.  Guilt isn't a great motivator, is it? Knowing that so many suffer with so little, does it actually change what I do with much?

Applying this is much much harder than talking about it.  We want, because we want, because we want.  And to choose not to satisfy cravings, is a war within ourselves and against cultural norms.

[Will write more as this month continues...]

Monday, January 13, 2014

New Years' Resolution: Hurry-Less. Wait More.

There are a lot of New Years' Resolutions I could have.  Exercise, eating, learning, etc...all very valuable things.  But more than anything, anything on my to do list, I want to actually change.  Be different.  

It hit me the other day.

I often can be found complaining about the person that my children are making me into.  "They're so frustrating!  So demanding!  Whining all the time, fighting all the time, yelling all the time...  They are so dependant!  They are making me crazy.  They are making me so mad."  

Truth is, I have been outright miserable, for awhile.  I am easily angered and frustrated.  In fact, I am not sure Silas believes he can do anything right in my eyes.  He said to me the other day, "but you don't even like me Mom."  And the truth of his words hit me like a punch to the face.  He's right, you know.  It certainly would not appear that I like him at all, by the way I have been treating him.  I'm tired.  I'm easily worn out.  And I simply have no joy.  I blame the mundane routine of being at home, I blame the children, but you know who doesn't get the blame?


Maybe it's not just their behaviours, maybe it's not just any list of environmental circumstances.  Maybe it's me.  I'm the reason for my own joy-less-ness.  People may admire my ability to 'get so much done' but what is it at cost to?  My standard of perfection, my endless to-do lists, my need to go and do and accomplish and conquer and achieve...who suffers?  My children, my husband, and myself.

Thing is, somewhere along the line I stopped even seeing my children.  I mean, really seeing my children.  I see their behaviour and I see them as obstacles in my way to get the things done I want to get done.  I stopped marvelling at the uniqueness of their own personalities, I stopped smiling at their innocence, and I forgot that God has put them as gifts in my life.  Maybe the fact that Silas takes 100 years to go to the bathroom and get out the door is a gift for me- to open up my eyes, to remain in the moments, to stop hurrying and nagging.  

And so I've become joy-less.  Angry.  Frustrated.  Harried.  And hurried.  And for what?  For who?  Why? Why am I perpetually rushing through life?  I am caught up into the raging river that is our culture's expectations and therefore my own expectations.  I have believed the lie that 'perfect' motherhood is something to be attained or even worth seeking after.  I honestly don't know which ties to sever.  Where to simplify, or how to get off this wheel that keeps turning.  

But I need to start figuring out how to because I am miserable, and so often, so are my kids.  Our relationship is at stake here.  My joy is at stake.  My life.  I started reading this blog and practically was moved to tears- she is exactly where I want to be.  She talked about how often she was rushing and hurrying her kids.  That's me. It's not my children who need to change, or my children who are making me anything.  It's my own attitudes, my own actions, my own plans, and my own habits.

God help me, this year I want to begin the change.  The real change.  To let go.  To breathe.  To live in the moments of my life and stop rushing past them.  To forget about perfection or the appearance of perfection. To aim lower and deeper- not higher and wider.  To stop being distracted by things that don't matter and plunge into things that do.

On my chalkboard right now are the words: "hurry less, wait more, what's the rush?."

I am thinking that this book or this book and definitely this book need to be on my 'must reads' this year.

Anyone else feel like they're lives are being run by expectations that will never be met?  Anyone else feel like they want to get off this crazy spin cycle and start enjoying REAL life?

Thursday, January 9, 2014

For Those I Love, Who are Suffering

I feel like I am on the battlefield.  The wounded, the dying, are all around me.  I have too many friends wading through grief so heavy, it breaks bones and dreams. Too many friends who are carrying loads that should never need to be carried.  I am the nurse on the field, witnessing tragedies all around me, and I am in shock.

I am mostly standing frantic, pleading for relief on their behalf, tearing hair from my own head.  I can only cry out to God and shake my fist at the dust and yell at death "you've taken too many, already."  I hold pressure on one wound when another explodes beside me.  I am not enough.  My friendship, my words, my experiences are not enough to stop the bleeding.

I'm at work and I see patients suffering, dying.  They are all too young.  They all had things they still wanted to do.  And then in my own community the losses, the blows to health and homes, to marriages and children...this life is so hard.

I am grieved and broken over others' sorrows because I recognize the thin line that separates 'me' from 'them.'  Gone is the illusion that suffering is 'over there' and not 'right here,' waiting to pound on my own door. I can imagine just how horrific these realities must feel and for these friends who I am walking with, I carry their sorrow and anguish with me.  How long?  How come?  Why now?  Why me?  Their questions might as well be the beat of my own heart I know them so well.

I am shaken.  I am angered.  The truth of this life is unsettling: we will all die.  We will watch those we love die.  We will experiences losses and hurts, tragedies, and heartaches.  None of us are immune.   None of us expect them.  

And I run.  Straight into His arms.  He who is the only safe haven in the midst of the storm.  I don't understand.  I don't even pretend to have any answers.  The only things I do know, I have learned from being in my own deep and dark places: I know He is good in ways that we cannot even fathom and His plans are far better than the momentary evils we endure.  I know that He is a redeemer, and all that is being done will be un-done in our forever reality to come.  I know that He is near to those who suffer and His presence is richer and realer in the middle of suffering than any other place.  And I know that His grace is sufficient for those who seek it.  Sufficient in all things, through all things.  He will not let the dark overcome us.  There will be day.  Glorious day.  Even if the night is long, there will be day.

Sometimes I wish there was another way to live- without tragedy.  But then other times I am revelling in the glory that is God's ability to take even the worst circumstances, even our greatest sufferings and scars and make them into something beautiful.  How can that even be possible?  But then, that has always been the way of this world: Jesus' own scars ransomed my soul.  

For now, the hope of a future without suffering, pain and death is enough.  And the knowledge that His presence will never leave me, nor those I love, in the midst of personal tragedy is better than any other truth or practical help I could offer.  

So God- be near, and nearer and nearer still to those who are suffering.  They need more of you.  Keep their heads above the water, do not let them drown in the weight of their crises.  Be their enough.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It Is Finished.

Finally.  I did it.  I actually completed my quilt.  Now, before you give me any applause, let me just remind you that it took me 3.5 years.  YES, you read that right, YEARS.  In other words, it took me 2.5 kids to get this quilt done.  It was meant to be a project to remind us of our precious time spent in Africa.  We spent days roaming the streets of Ghana searching for materials that we could take home.  I had no idea how much to buy, we bartered and guessed and lugged this cloth through the streets of Europe and from rental suite to our new home.  Then we stored it, I got a sewing machine, I borrowed books from the library and I planned it out.   I even incorporated "Fulani stars" which are symbols from a people group we were living in community with.   I watched you-tube videos and had many nasty conversations with my sewing machine. 

Then I had this brilliant (read: not-brilliant) idea of hand quilting it together.  By this point, I had already missed my "finish it by the end of maternity leave" goal that I had originally set out to complete it by.  But my lovely step-mom bought me a quilting frame in support of this endeavour and we proceeded to move this large frame from room to room for the next 2 years.  It got put up and I was determined to work on it the summer after Toby was born, and then our kitchen leak happened.  It got put back away again. 

Once the ridiculous catastrophe of 10 weeks without a kitchen passed, it finally got put back up in time for some new years' resolutions. I determined, this time last year, that I was going to quilt 2 squares a day and by golly I was going to get this thing done.  It got moved from downstairs to upstairs, to downstairs to upstairs.  The kids believe it to be a fort or sometimes broke off the hollow legs of the frame to hit each other or pretend to blow trumpets.  The frame was often in my way and when I would walk past it, still unfinished, I would just feel guilty that I was neglecting it.  But sometimes, I'd sit down at it and feel a small sense of accomplishment and hope when I would complete my two squares.

Now I have a King-sized, Ghanian quilt that is hand-designed and hand-stitched.  Finally. Meanwhile, I probably could have accomplished more than 10 quilts by now had I actually sent the quilt out to get the final quilting stitches done or if I'd done it by machine (smaller quilts) or even followed a pattern or bought the quilt pre-cut.

At the end of all this, you might suspect I would have some great concise and poetic lessons I learned like "patience makes the heart grow stronger" or "stitch by stitch, a quilt get's sewed" etc., but I think what I learned is "I don't like long-term projects." 

Okay, okay.  I won't be so negative.  I did  learn that some tasks and accomplishments can only be completed a little at a time.  I did learn that maybe, just maybe, my personal growth is actually a lot like this quilt.  A little bit at a time, a long way to go, but a beautiful creation emerging when the project of my life is 'complete.'

Anyways, here's the quilt!  Draped on our futon.  And if any child barfs on it, pees on it, or wipes their sticky peanut butter fingers on it I might just cry.  

Thursday, January 2, 2014

My Chocolate-less Existence

I'm not gonna lie.  I am very much disliking these new 'cut backs.'  All I can think about are those cinnamon buns in the fridge.  And the beautiful boxes of chocolate from Christmas. And my lovely friend who just gave me a starbucks card, which I am desperate to use. I literally almost threw a fit trying to pack my snacks for my night shift last night. "WHAT CAN I EVEN EAT?!" I even sneakily packed some crackers and granola bars in my lunch bag when Jason wasn't looking (?) as I complained and whined to him about my current lack of food choices.  I pulled the pregnancy card too.  But he just looked at me like "well, you are the one setting these rules, so, shouldn't you abide by them?"  He totally called me out on my excuse tactics.


SO that's how day 1 and 2 are going.  I have not yet 'cheated' but I've sure tried to come up with ways around my own rules (isn't legalism fun?)  But of course, as soon as I think "OH, I could have that" I am reminded that, oh yes, it does have chocolate in it (ex: hot chocolate), or yes, it does have sugar in it. Because, let's face it, those are the two things I want, usually.

I was craving sweet things so bad yesterday that I ate 1/4 of a pineapple and am currently suffering from canker sores.  

But then I read this today in my "Extending the Table" cookbook that Jason bought me from Ten Thousand Villages this Christmas.

It talks about feasting and fasting and how many cultures still only eat meat or other choice foods when there is truly something to celebrate:

"When affluence allows people to feast too frequently and independently of others, feasting loses much of its joy and integrity.  It results in ill health and dulls our sensitiviy to the needs of others.  Reclaiming the feast may require learning to fast.  Regularly abstaining from meat and other rich foods can be a spiritual act of solidarity.  Reserving for special events foods we might easily afford, but that are luxury items in the world economy, unites us with those who have less.  As we learn to fast with the poor, let us also learn their patterns of feasting and celebration.  Let us be content with ordinary food on ordinary days." p.203

I will pull up my bootstraps, close the door to my pantry rich with snacks and chocolates, and eat my orange (the sweetest thing I can find in my house at this time).  AND I will appreciate appreciating that I have more than enough food for myself and my family for another day; unlike so many others in the world.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Seven Food Excesses

Having awakened from the reverie of turkey, cookies, cheesecake, chocolates, and all the food involved in Christmas cheer, it's apparently time to 'cut back.'  Not for dieting purposes, (pregnancy is not a good time for that), and not for our budget's sake (although that is most certainly important).  I've been asked to participate in an 'experiment.'  Back in the summer I read a book called Seven.  It challenges us to consider areas of excess in our life.  Jen Hatmaker, the author, embarked on 7 months of trimming back, slimming down, and reducing the excesses in her family's life.  She did a month on clothing, where she only wore 7 items of clothing.  She did a month on possessions- where she gave away 7 things every day for a month.  She did a month on food where she lived off of 7 foods (and that's it).  You get the point.

It was challenging.  Inspiring.  Exciting.  I attempted to spend no money for a month in my own kind of application of the book back in August, and it was eye-opening.

Now I've been asked to think about food.  Oh dear.  I'm barely awake from my food coma (otherwise known as the month of December) and this has been an area of challenge over the last months as we've been trying out gluten-free foods for Silas' sake and are still banned from dairy for Toby's sake.  Can we really afford to cut out anything else?  Good grief! I'm 6 months pregnant and a working Mama with Silas' birthday to plan and shifts to cram in before I go on maternity leave.  There is no time to mess with my diet.

But yet...

What if I could cut away some of the excess in my diet?  What foods are eaten out of sheer comfort, as a reckless sort of entitlement?  Oh, I know I could identify those, and maybe it's time to cut them out for a month.

So here's what I'm thinking...I want to try eliminating those foods that, let's face it, I don't really need.  They are not for nutrition, per say.  They are for comfort and convenience. What are those top 7 foods of mine?

1. Buying coffee.  Okay, let's be honest here.  I don't actually think I could cut coffee out entirely. So I will suffer with coffee at home.  Maybe that's not really a 'suffering' to most people, but let me tell you...this is a luxury for me.  I LOVE getting coffee from starbucks.  There is one that is 10 steps from my work, I get up at 5 am and work 12 hours a day, coffee is kinda like air.  But I don't need to buy it out, do I?  (Even though I have this wonderful coffee gift card that I got from Christmas...)

2. Sugar.  Yikes.  I am a sugar girl.  I mean, I really don't know how I'm going to function without it.  I put it in my coffee, I bake it in my cookies, I don't crave salt, I crave sugar.  So it's gotta go.  Although, I'm still not sure if things like jam should count.  Will have to think on that.  

3. Any other liquid besides water.  (See above....I like my juices, my milks, my liquid happiness).

4. Pre-packaged snacks.  Oh dear.  This is getting hard.  Unless it's a veggie, a fruit, or I've made it myself, I'm going to stay away from snacks that are packaged.

5. Cereal.  This has become my evening snack-go-to.  It's crammed with sugar and probably very few nutrients, despite what the boxes say.  In fact, I want to try and get the kids to cut back on it too.  They have like 3 bowls for breakfast and are hungry within 20 min.

6. Eating out.  We don't do this a lot, but the point is that we could.  Take that convenience away, and, well...it's gonna be a bit hard.

7. Chocolate.  I might. Not. Make. It.  I love me some dark chocolate.  But for now, it's out.

p.s. I went out with a bang last night:  [Why, oh why did I finally make cinnamon buns on the EVE of this big change.  They are calling to me from the fridge right now...]

What are some things you think you are wanting to cut back on?  New Years' Resolutions?
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