Monday, January 27, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: January 27th, 2014

You might have noticed that I have only been listing 6 dinners some weeks. I've realized that I often make more than enough (while still keeping a very respectable budget, if I may say so!) for lunches and a leftover night. I hope you are enjoying the bounty that is leftovers as as close to a night off as we get most weeks! Speaking of taking time off, sorry for no new recipes this week. Maybe next time!

Vegetarian Sweet and Sour Meatballs

Butternut Squash Mac n' Cheese

Stir Fry

Italian Sausage and White Bean Soup

Chicken Fajitas

Quinoa O's and Grilled Cheese

Meal Plan Monday

Monday, January 20, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: January 20, 2014

I wasn't feeling very food inspired this week, so luckily my husband has a new recipe to share.

Swedish Meatballs


Thai Pumpkin Soup

Roast Chicken

Tortilla Soup

White Chili

4 cups cooked white beans
2qts veggie broth
1/2 cup butter
1 cup gluten free flour
1 onion, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro
2 cups tomato sauce
2 tbsp red wine vinegar

Combine the broth and tomato sauce and bring to a boil. Add the herbs and spices.  While waiting for the broth to come to a boil make a roux with the butter and flour, cook for a few minutes to get ride of starchy taste.  While still hot,  add roux carefully to the broth (be sure to stir to avoid lumps).  Add onions, peppers and cilantro to soup and let simmer for about 10 minutes to thicken.  Once thickened add the cooked beans and red wine vinegar to the pot. Serve hot with a little cilantro for garnish.

Meal Plan Monday

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Love You Can Depend On

Welcome to the January 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: The More Things Stay the Same

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have talked about the continuity and constancy in their lives. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


"You can't love someone for what they look like, something they do, or who they are. Because all of those things can change, at any time. If you love someone, love them. That's it. Just them, for them, and nothing else."

One of the best pieces of life wisdom I was ever told, and I can't even remember who it was that said it. When I started to write this post, I was going to write about the constant that is the love I have and receive from my husband. As the words came flowing out, I realized that that idea of unconditional love was also everything I have for my children. can't love them for their sweet breath,
eventually they will forget to brush their teeth.
But, it can make our hearts glow to see their happiness and smiles.
We can't love them for their tiny toes,
for eventually we will quietly (or not so quietly) lament how fast they outgrow their shoes.
The love you show them helps them grow.
Their sweet "Mommy/Daddy" won't always be a gleeful exclamation,
But, we can always be ready to show them we are glad for their attention.
One day the world's troubles won't be solved with some nursies and snuggles,
That doesn't mean we won't offer a warm drink and a hug.
We can't forget our love for them when they refuse to bring a coat.
Or even when they say they don't love us.
We can love and love and love, because it is not their actions, faces, or who they are that we love.
We just love them.

And, because "in my van, it is all Rush, all the time!" I can't finish this post without sharing that this is what was stuck in my head every time someone mentioned this carnival topic. (And if you know the origin of that quote, we should really be friends.)


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Always an Artist — Some kids take longer than others to come into themselves, so you have to stick with them, as a parent, long after everyone else has given up, writes Douglas at Friendly Encounters.
  • Not Losing Yourself as a First Time Mom — Katie at All Natural Katie continues to stay true to herself after becoming a new mom.
  • Using Continuity to Help Change {Carnival of Natural Parenting} — Meegs from A New Day talks about how she is using continuity in certain areas of her life to help promote change and growth in others.
  • Staying the Same : Security — Life changes all the time with growing children but Mother Goutte realised that there are other ways to 'stay the same' and feel secure, maybe a bit too much so!
  • Harmony is What I'm AfterTribal Mama gushes about how constant change is really staying the same and staying the same brings powerful change.
  • A Primal Need For Order and Predictability – And How I Let That Go — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how she overcame her primal need for order and predictability once her awareness shifted, opening her eyes to the impact this had on her young daughter. Take a short journey with Jennifer and she bares her soul, exposes her weaknesses and celebrates her new outlook and approach to living life, even in the face of total chaos.
  • Breastfeeding Before and After — Breastfeeding has come and gone, but Issa Waters at LoveLiveGrow finds that her relationship with her son is still just the same and just as good.
  • A Real Job — Back in high school That Mama Gretchen had a simple, but worthwhile career aspiration and today she is living her dream … is it what you think?
  • Comfortingsustainablemum never thought she would want things always being the same, but she explains why it is exactly what her family wants and needs.
  • 'The Other Mums' and The Great IllusionMarija Smits reflects on the 'great big magic show of life' and wonders if it will continue to remain a constant in our lives.
  • Unschooling: Learning doesn't change when a child turns four — Charlotte at Winegums & Watermelons talks about the pressure of home education when everyone else's children are starting school.
  • Finding Priorities in Changing Environments — Moving from Maine to a rural Alaskan island for her husband's military service, Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work found that keeping consistent with her priorities in changing environments can take some work, but is vital to continuous health and happiness.
  • Keeping it "Normal" — Kellie at Our Mindful Life has moved several times in the last two years, while doing her best to keep things stable for her kids.
  • The Evolution Of Our Homeschool Journey — Angela at Earth Mama's World reflects on her homeschooling journey. Homeschooling is a constant in the life of her family but the way in which they learn has been an evolution.
  • Sneaking in Snuggles: Using Nurturing Touch with Older Children — When Dionna at Code Name: Mama's son was a toddler and preschooler, he was the most loving, affectionate kiddo ever. But during the course of his 5th year, he drastically reduced how often he showed affection. Dionna shares how she is mindfully nurturing moments of affection with her son.
  • Steady State — Zoie at TouchstoneZ writes a letter to her partner about his constancy through the rough sailing of parenting.
  • A Love You Can Depend On — Over at True Confessions of a Real Mommy, Jennifer has a sweet little poem reminding us where unconditional love really lies, so it can remain a constant for us and our children.
  • Same S#!*, Different Day — Struggling against the medical current can certainly get exhausting, especially as the hunt for answers drags on like it has for Jorje of Momma Jorje.
  • New Year, Still Me — Mommy Bee at Little Green Giraffe writes about how a year of change helped her rediscover something inside herself that had been the same all along.
  • One Little Word for 2014 — Christy at Eco Journey In The Burbs has decided to focus on making things this year, which is what she is loves, as long as she doesn't kill herself in the process.
  • The Beauty of Using Montessori Principles of Freedom and Consistency — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now shares the continuity of her teaching, parenting, and grandparenting philosophy using a combination of freedom and consistency.
  • My Husband's MiniCrunchy Con Mom shares which of her sons looks more like her husband's baby pictures — and the answer might surprise you!
  • Growth Happens When You Aren't Looking — Lori at TEACH through Love is treasuring these fleeting moments of her daughter's early adolescence by embracing the NOW.
  • A New Reality Now - Poem — As Luschka from Diary of a First Child struggles to come to terms with the loss of her mother, she shares a simple poem, at a loss for more words to say.
  • Making a family bedroom — Lauren at Hobo Mama has decided to be intentional about her family's default cosleeping arrangements and find a way to keep everyone comfortable.
  • New Year, Same Constants — Ana at Panda & Ananaso takes a look at some of the things that will stay the same this year as a myriad of other changes come.
  • I Support You: Breastfeeding and Society — Despite how many strides we've taken to promote "breast is best," Amy at Natural Parents Network talks about how far we still have to go to normalize breastfeeding in our society.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: January 13th, 2014

French Toast (Especially tasty with GF cinnamon raisin bread!)

Pot Roast

Minestrone Soup (I made a big batch from this post for freezing vegan crockpot meals!)

Lentil Helper

Black Bean Quesadillas

Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Sloppy Lennys

Meal Plan Monday

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Keeping Your Cool, When You Aren't


Anger Management The Geek Parent Way

Of course, we will start out with wise words from Yoda:

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” 
(Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999))

Now, it is not likely that the anger that flares up while dealing with your children is THAT strong, and we love our children. But, there is an important idea there. WHY are we angry about our children's behavior? There is a good case to be made that it is fear that triggers that anger. Fear you are not a good parent. Of your child never learning important lessons about acceptable behavior. Maybe even a fear your child is controlling you. Whatever it is, trying to find the base of the emotion, the trigger, will give you a jumping off point for changing your fate.

What do we do in the mean time? We have rolled the dice, our children are here, our destiny is now, and once again you are being ignored and you.are.pissed at your child. It may not always work to stop and consider our darker demons when the red dragon is rising to the surface and we can feel the fire of our voice rising in our throats.

How does Bruce Banner keep the Other Guy under wraps? Yoga? Meditation? No. 

"That's my secret, Cap: I'm always angry." 
(The Avengers (2012))

I'm not suggesting your keep a running thread of anger just under the surface. What I do say is: accept your anger. You are ANGRY! You have every right to feel the way you do. Your feelings are valid. Feel them. Feel, but don't let them control you. Don't let the monster take over.

Often, we get stuck in this rut of just feeling angry and put out by our children's needs and demands all the time. It does become that running thread of emotion just under the surface, looking for a chink in our armor.

Harry Potter: "I just feel so angry, all the time. What if after everything that I've been through, something's gone wrong inside me? What if I'm becoming bad?
Sirius Black: "I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You're not a bad person. You're a very good person, who bad things have happened to. Besides, the world isn't split into good people and Death Eaters. We've all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That's who we really are." 
(Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004))

We are human, and therefor aren't perfect. Most of us will fail to uphold our values of gentle parenting at some point. When that happens, we have a decision to make. Allow the darkness to take over, or strive on for the light. Apologize to your child. Make it clear they do not deserve that kind of treatment, no matter their behavior, because you love them and want to be the kind of parent they deserve (that Harry never even had a chance to have.) You are your choice to be a respectful parent.

How do we break these habits? For all our research, reading, support groups, and maybe even a desperate drive to be better than we are at being gentle parents, we still struggle in the moment. What to do when it just seems impossible to make it through the day without scolding or yelling? 

"What if you were really old, and really kind and lonely, your whole race dead. What couldn't you do then? If you were that old, and that kind, and the very last of your kind, you couldn't just stand there and watch children cry." 
(Amy Pond; Doctor Who; The Beast Below)

And in case you need any more ideas on how to keep your cool, here is a great "education film" I came across.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Five Essentials for Homeschooling

Legal bit, covering my butt. Affiliate links: they don't actually pay out much for me, but they are here, don't cost you extra, and hey, I get a piece instead of the company getting it all.

Homeschooling is not an easy gig. Ok, it may be easier to not be on someone else's clock to get kids up, dressed, fed, and to school. But, to keep things interesting, functioning, and care for the needs of everyone in the family at the same time all day every day is no cake walk. There are a few things that I just could not do without at this point in our journey.

The Library

I don't even mean story times (because we don't do those, but I know plenty of families that enjoy it) but just the mass of information right there for us to gobble up. For the free printing we get every week. Librarians who work hard to fill our request lists so books are ready on the hold shelf when we don't have a lot of time, and ones who listen intently to my child ask about their current interests and lead them to more resources for expanding their knowledge. And I have hardly delved in to their website, media centers, and other programs they have available!

Homeschool Community

It can be in real life or online. Or both. Having other people to bounce ideas off of, gather new ideas, meet up for group activities, and generally share the praises and pitfalls of the homeschool life. By creating social circles beyond my geographic limitations, I have come across SO MANY new ideas that NEVER would have even crossed my mind. Just don't forget that even thought we might all homeschool, that can look VERY different for each family, and we don't need to compete with each other over styles.


Seems silly. I almost didn't admit to it here. But, it has been great to see what other families have found, organize links for later use (that I can access on any computer!), and sort by which child or topic. This is mostly because I (as previously mentioned) frequently use the library computers to print activity sheets and such. Find me!


Duh, right? Hear me out. I could plan everything out, schedule lesson plans, organize each day from sun up to dinner and keep track of all of the in between. That may work for other families (no judgement). But what we have found in our house: our children learn in leaps and bounds when we just leave them alone. Support their interests, create space for their projects. Because they create them all on their own when given supplies, time, and our belief that what they do is important work, even it it looks like a giant mess. Being that the main we reason we choose to homeschool is to offer them individualized education, it would be a little silly to just follow an arbitrary curriculum at home.


Of course you need books. What I mean are a few particular books that really helped me take a look at what our goals were/are and as general guides on our path. This isn't to say that we follow these books to a T or even vaguely. They did have an impact on the directions we take and I am just sharing to give you the chance to see as well.

What kind of things do you depend on to make your child's education the best it can be? Even if that isn't homeschool, I would love to hear!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Meal Plan Monday: January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year! I have not made any new resolutions, but if you have decided to take on Meal Planning, especially looking for gluten free ideas, I am here for you! I am going to start posting my plans again, and feel free to click the link to visit the archives! I would especially suggest watching the dates, as we try to eat seasonally. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Meal Plan Monday

Beef Stew

Chili Tots

Cauliflower Mac n' Cheese w/ Kielbasa

Orange Basil Tofu w/ Fennel

Palek Paneer (Our homemade paneer cheese recipe)