Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Vanilla Honey Tea Time Macaroons

I found a recipe in one of those free for kindle cook books. The weird thing was, when I mixed them up? They were terrible. The consistency was impossible, dry and crumbly and we were obviously heading for a huge baking fail. It was one of those moments when you have to ask if the authors of those books even attempt the recipes before publishing. So I got creative and I think *my* end results were amazing.

2 Cups unsweetened shredded coconut*
2 eggs
1/4-1/3c honey*
1tsp vanilla
1T coconut flour
A pinch of baking soda

* if you use sweetened coconut reduce honey to 1T
*I like them less sweet but if you prefer a pronounced sweetness go for more honey.


1. In mixing bowl combine eggs, honey, vanilla, flour and soda- mix well... mix  in the coconut.

2. **on parchment paper** covered cookie sheet press cookies into firm mounds and pat down into a flat cookie. This is probably the most labor intensive part of these cookies, they are quite loose and messy. But they bake into a nice non-crumbly cookie. They don't spread while baking, so what you put in is what comes out. The firmer you press them the more macaroony they'll be.

Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes (until bottom edges are golden brown and tops don't look liquid or squish when you gently tap them.

Enjoy with some Tea and some Read Aloud Time.
 (slurping spilled tea off the table optional)
4yar olds...sigh.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Grain-Free Savory Mini Burgers

One thing about this grain free adventure has been trying to balance our clean eating (we try to only consume organic meat and dairy products) with the budget. This gets tricky in a family of 5...The kids eat more individually at each meal than my husband and I do!

Thankfully, we are blessed to have easy access to abundant options when it comes to free range and grass fed meats-especially important with our youngest who has corn allergies. But how to prepare it? These Savory Mini burgers stretch to about 24 burgers from 1pound of ground beef! I used to make meat loaf with gf oatmeal... it always used an egg in the recipe and it kind of lead to some experiments in how to stretch a pound of hamburger to feed several people.

  • 1 pound hamburger 
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 T shredded onion
  • 2 cloves garlic minced or pressed
  • 1/3 C shredded *unsweetened* coconut*
  • 3 dashes of chili powder (1/2-1tsp)
  •  1T of ketchup
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1/8tsp black pepper
* another option would be to use 3/4 cup of cauliflower that's been put through the food processor so it's finely ground and sauté in butter or refined )coconut oil for 5minutes.

Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and knead together thoroughly. Add 1-2T oil to skillet and add meat to hot pan in small meatball sized portions. Press down into burgers when you flip them.

Serves 6-8 approx. 24burgers
Prep Time 5minutes
Cook time: 20?

They're delicious on their own or dipped in sweet and sour cranberry dipping sauce (recipe coming soon!), spicy mustard, or (my kids preference) organic (HFCS free) ketchup.

Sides: oven baked French fries!
Or pan fried Sweet potatoes with drizzled maple syrup and cinnamon.
I often add some roasted kale chips or broccoli for some greens.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sweet Chilli Hash Stew

It was one of those, "what do I Maaake???" Sunday afternoons. I threw stuff in the chefs pot and Sweet Chilli Hash was the result.

This was a delicious sweet and gently spicy stew. It got 2 giant thumbs up from my normally picky 4 year old. She and the 2 year old had 2 big bowls each!!! I really think some of the secret to it's success was the sweet and spicy pasta sauce from Wegman's...checkout their ingredients to find some thing similar! 


Sweet Chilli Hash Stew
By H. Burgett
1 pound ground beef
1 LARGE Sweet Potato (diced)
4-5 medium russet potatoes (diced)
1 medium/large onion (chopped)
2-4 cloves garlic (minced) 
1 23oz jar of Spicy-ish Pasta Sauce (I use THIS from Wegman's)
3-4 dashes of chilli powder
2tsp sea salt

We use coconut oil for our cooking oil. In large skillet or wok brown beef until nearly cooked, add  oil (if beef is lean) and  potatoes (both kinds), onions, garlic, salt.

Toss potatoes occasionally for about 10minutes if potatoes stick (we don't use non-stick pans) pan add 1/4c of water and loosen with stirring.

Put lid on and cook for 15minutes stirring often.

Add jar of sauce and dashes of chilli powder  stir well... allow to simmer (stirring often) until potatoes seem soft (5-10minutes).

8-10 servings (depending on the crowd)

Option 2: I also browned the beef, sauted all the ingredients but the tomato sauce a bit and then threw it in the croc pot, mixed in the sauce, and left it to cook on low for 5-8 hours.


Grain Free Adventure...

I have so many things I've wanted to process... but finding the time? Meh.

I have been spending a lot of time in the kitchen. We've recently gone grain free in an attempt to deal with some increasing gut and behavioral issues with our middle child. It has been crazy town.

But going grain free? So fun! Really, I enjoy cooking and coming up with some new recipes has been tons of fun. And with that starts a series of paleo and grain free recipes...

First Up? Sweet Chilli Hash Stew...

Coming soon!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Raising Girls Part Three...There *are* Differences

I recently got in an interesting discussion  (I actually didn't start) about the differences between boys and girls.

The gist of the conversation was that the Moms of boys mention all the things their boys do, but Mom of girls see their kids do this too. Then there were some who had both genders in their home, and said their daughters did some "boyish"  things their boys never considered and visa versa.

We circled this round and round. Mom's of boys said "well what's wrong with saying "you can NEVER understand?'
 Mom's of girls said, "We feel invalidated, we're not trying to compete- for goodness sake it's not a competition! But if we deal with __________ to day after day, week after week too- it can't just be a 'boy' thing. Yes they are girls...but they are all different kids... why are our struggles discounted because our kids are girls??"

So if girls do it to is it gender specific? If boys are into it as well, what does it mean? Is it nature? Is it nurture?

Both "sides", if you will, had one thing in common: The Mom's all felt strongly that their children never be shamed for being who they are. It wasn't their personal "nurturing" or encouragement- it was an organic interest or trait of their child. There were a lot of things I hadn't experienced (that both genders dealt with)- I mean I only have three children myself. There are things I don't understand. But I can respect that I don't have a child with those interests and I don't know what I would do if I did. What stood out was that my kids are not their kids: I can make no judgement.

We circled around and around, there were some big feelings on both sides.  No one wants their baby put in a box or to feel "put down" (though this is an awesome group of women, and everyone tried to word their comments compassionately and carefully.)

One interesting thing that came out of the conversation, and it's some thing I want to explore, is that there is a different energy type that can be generally differentiated between genders. Boys have a different energy from girls. They have a different *feel* from girls. I can whole heartedly agree with this. There are still exceptions, I have met a few, but this is a general rule I can get behind.

Boys do bring a different energy to the table. It isn't louder/bigger/better from the female energy... it's just different! And it explains beautifully some thing I couldn't express.

It's not that boys are automatically rougher, louder, tougher than girls. Or that girls are automatically more dramatic, quieter, softer than boys... it's a feeling when you hold them in your arms, different in each boy - but a sameness too. That touch of testosterone mixed in with the uniqueness that makes each precious person.

Apart from that though? So much does come down to the unique personality. There is not a single thing that you can point at a child and say "girls/boys don't/can't do ________" because for every rule there are exceptions.

I think what I feel most strongly about in raising my daughters is that they not ever be put in a box. This digging through gender differences is not "sour grapes" because I don't and may never have a son. It's not because I feel I am missing some thing (believe me, so in over my head with the three I have the last thing I want is to add any one else right now!). It is that that my beautiful amazing daughter. My strong alpha-type Friendly Girl never be shamed for the leadership skills, power, noise and push God put in her. There is a stigma about rough girls, especially in Christian circles. She's dynamite and if I survive parenting her through the next 15ish years I am going to see her shake the freaking WORLD.

It's not about the fact that my girls love dirt, or hate to feel it under their nails... it's not the wrestling or the abhorrence of it. It's not the loudness or the sweet quiet tea parties. It's not the colors they like or the activities they enjoy. How they play, interact with others, or their math/reading/social skills (or lack there of).

It's that when we look at children I would like the presuppositions of who they are, or what they do or can to have nothing to do with their gender.

Let's look at THEM. Let's see people for their unique qualities and gifts!

It's articles LIKE THIS (!!!!!! I could write a blog post ranting there- my point exactly!!) that are such a huge part of the problem.

It isn't fair to say each gender is the same from birth to adulthood. Or that they will face the same challenges all the way up. Because culture and society alone say it isn't.  Add in the different feel and qualities and challenges each gender faces: we known that is far from true. There are going to be different challenges- some standing out more starkly than others, depending on the individual.

 But I feel strongly that we sully the beauty of the image of God that He wrote into each of us, that we feed the curse itself ("and your desire will be for your husband...but he shall rule over you" Genesis 3:16 that's the CURSE. Which is the old, and not the New I will add more links on this later).
That we degrade  the beauty He wrote into His creation when we make a list and say "_________ is what each gender is and does. _______  are their struggles."

That we hurt people with in the church who don't fit into the boxes. We deeply wound young men who are have soft and quiet spirts, who called to nurture and serve with grace and who aren't "wild at heart". We hurt and smother women who are are called to be mighty and powerful leaders...Bringing THEIR amazing and unique energy to the body of Christ.  Women who have a God given boldness and strength and a voice that could shake the world for His kingdom.

Because each person is a PERSON, and their calling, skills, and gifts are as unique as the line on their finger tips.

We also waste precious energy when we compare genders against each other, when we say "you can never understand". Yes, I cannot understand what it might like to have boys... I don't have twins either, I can't understand that. But I have had two...three children close together. Is it the same? No. But until last month I had not slept through the night more than 3 or 4 times in SIX years. Most of those years I have had multiple children night waking many nights of the week. I can empathize.

Why does it matter if I "can never understand"? Honestly? I feel that that's a rude and inflammatory statement. It does not speak of grace and "reasoning together" in love (which especially when it is followers of Jesus talking, it should).  It doesn't bring any thing edifying to the table.

 Do you want a gold star? (sorry, not being snaky, just wondering).

I'd give you one if that would make you feel better. But believe me, I see you struggling.  I've struggled to. I struggle a lot these days. Is it the exact same? No! We have different kids, different families, and different struggles. And it sucks to struggle. It sucks to be in over your head. Parenting is HARD work. And it sucks to feel like a failure, or to even (in those dark ugly hours) hate your children-even if it's ever so briefly. To hate yourself or how you're dealing with your situation.

 I don't know what it's like to have twins, or boys, or your special needs child. I am not you, walking in your shoes. But I can understand in my own way- and I'm here to listen.  Honestly, let's be there for each other.

 I'm sorry you're having a hard time. If you feel lonely, out numbered, or scared for the future, know you are certainly not alone. And if it helps you to talk to others, do it. But let's not exclude or use "nevers" or language that doesn't help. Because no one is the exact same, and mother's of amazing and mighty girls have some thing to offer  you too.

We're all facing our challenges as best we can.

Let's hug it out.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Mothering Girls Part 2: Nature or Nurture...Social Expectations

I still have a lot swirling around in my head on this "girl mom/boy Mom" train of thought. I truly don't think I am in any way qualified to make some profound statement on this age old question, "is it nature or nurture?" . But I do have some thoughts and I need to flesh them out..Here's as good a place as any...

Here we go!

Men and women obviously have different parts. From the moment the egg and sperm meet we have different hormones at play within our bodies. But both men and women have testosterone and estrogen at play in balancing their body. Science knows a lot about these hormones. I don't really care to delve into all that. But the general consensus is that testosterone means "more physical...louder... better special awareness...stronger" and estrogen means "more relational, sensitive, better fine motor skills, better verbally...weaker"

I mean, that's the gist from few websites that Google spit out when I dug around a bit.

My bone to pick isn't really with any of this. It is that we label behaviors as "girl behaviors" and "boy behaviors".

In our society we're more likely to tell girls to cut it out when they're wrestling or being noisy and redirect them to more "suitable activities". And if we don't redirect them or allow the horse play? They get labeled rudely or they are shamed for their unruly behavior,

But boys? Oh, they're just being boys! We're victims of their boyness, they can't be stopped! They really shouldn't be stopped, it's in their nature to be like that. To invade some ones body boundaries "for fun" (even when being asked or told to stop). To act aggressively towards others "it's in their hormones-it's the testosterone!"
That poor mother with all those boys, it must be awful to out up with all that all the time. Because they're boys and boys are so physical and rough.
On the flip side "oh girls the whining and the Drama! And the accessorized everything, and tantrums over clothing. They are *so* emotional and blah bla blah... estrogen, I tell you it makes you an emotional mess!". (<--what in thought before having girls).

Now don't get me wrong, happy isn't the only acceptable emotion. And I think horse play is normal.  When you have a kid that is insatiably driven to wrestle and get in peoples business? You can redirect till you're blue in the face, it doesn't change that they are who they are and need that sensory input (and entertainment). If you have a handful of these kids (who happen to be boys) I imagine that eventually you go deaf/blind to it or you'll go insane (I am half crazy just with my one wrestler).
I also get it that no one wants to feel judged based on how rowdy their kids are or how they behave. And it is common for boys to be very physical. But what is society's mindset and what is reality? What is nature... what is nurture?

I guess my big question is this, Why are we labeling *children* in this way? Are these stereotypes true? And regardless why are we basing expectations for behaviors that are gender stereotypes? And allowing behaviors that are wrong (not listening to body boundaries, it takes maturity and guidance but the boundary should always exist!), or even seeing a behavior and saying "aww it's a girl thing!" (when boys can do it as well) or "Haha boy thing, aren't they weird?" (when really nothing is 100% gender specific). Why are we so focused on gender?

Why can't kids be *kids*?

In the next post I'd like to share some personal stories about why some of these mindsets are so hurtful to the children who don't fit in the gender box. And why these messages can be harmful.
I have also been trying to personally be more mindful of how I address my daughters. In the past I have always addressed them as "The girls". They are female, girls... And there are God given aspects that are beautiful about each gender and there is nothing wrong with embracing that. But my daughters are people first, always. I have been intentionally referring to them as "the kids", because that's what I want them to be free to be... whatever kind of person and kid they feel like being. There are gifts and privileges that come with being a woman. There are also some yokes and battles that we will always have to carry and rise above. I hope they can grow gracefully in all these areas. but they are still people first, unique individuals in the Creators image. And I have so many hopes for their futures. But before anything else, I want them to be people. People who know that they are inherently valued and powerful. Not because they have one genitalia  over another...but because they are precious in His sight, with a unique calling and work that is unique as they are.

So there is my slightly disjointed post. We're potty training this week for the Pip....

yeah has nothing to do with the post... but my baby is growing up. Except when she's sleeping. When she is sleeping she is all baby.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mothering Girls...Part 1 What Should We do?

I think I've been meaning to write this blog post for quite some time. We are a family of girls here in the Joy home. Well, except for my husband.

I grew up with 3 brothers (and a sister) and my husband and his two brothers lived down the street. I loved it. I always thought I'd grow up and have a house full of boys! They are so fun! They are always ready for an adventure. And they just have a different way of listening. At least my husband always did. He knew how to get to the point: I appreciated that.

So I grew up, married my childhood best friend, and we got pregnant with our first baby and we found out she was a girl. I went "Whoa, me?? Raise a girl!?!?" I was kind of scared. I always related better to boys. I loved house as a kid, and talking- loved to talk, but when it came down to it I always preferred active play, roller blading, swimming, riding my bike and playing in the mud (well not literal mud, but getting dirty didn't sound right), adventures in the creek... Both my best girl friends when I was small were really into climbing trees and playing outside too.  "Tom boys" is what they're called, I think we need to get rid of that term, big time. Girls who like to PLAY: GIRLS. But whatever.

I had some serious preconceived ideas of "raising a girl" would mean... girls are "sugar and spice and everything nice" and boys are "wiggles and snails and puppy dog tails". So I had a girl. And then another...And another. Here I am with all girls and I've been pondering a lot lately what it means to raise them.

Especially when I come across things like this, a reality for many and a common attitude! Or things like this- how much has changed since I was a kid. Some big steps backwards in my opinion!
Especially when I read things about how some believe A Biblical Woman should behave (read the first half to get the idea of the attitudes- the rest is AWESOME why it's so wrong!)
Especially when I hear or all the rape shaming/rape culture that flys around the interwebs "she asked for it" discussions. I peek around message boards and comments on articles...It is messy!

And the messages that they are being given from a young age! Now I've gotta be honest, I'm not a gender neutral parent. And from the outside, my family looks very traditional. I stay home, my husband works, yada yada yada...But I love the idea of making all kinds of toys available to all children and I've tried to be organic with all of that. We are a non-violent family and my kids haven't really even ever seen ANY shooting on TV- so I am curious how the "gun play" would work out if we had a boy- because it is literally never around. Anyway, where we're at now is if they see some thing that interests them I am not going to out right refuse unless it is blatantly hurtful towards woman (which is rare).
  My oldest is extremely sensitive and despises violence. Roo loves relational stories and all things beautiful and bright. She is artistic and practical. Sweet and spunky. She sites pink as her favorite color and has insisted for some time it's one of her favorite things to wear (not my cup of tea). I've tried to shield her from the Disney Princess things (honestly, those movies are too scary for her). I don't want her to ever think she "needs a man" to come and rescue her. I want her to know she is bold. She is strong. She is beautiful just the way she is.
 I've tried to be careful about what she see's and messages about body image. I am careful to tell her that I like my body, I like myself and I like her always.
I say and then notice that she is wearing a disney princes shirt- ha!
I wish I could be more gender nuetral as far as colors go, but my girls are generally very into "girly" things...dancing and twirly skirts and all that stuff... Heaven help me, I've tried to weed out the pink a bit...But they love it! Whatever.

Where am I going with this post?

The nitty gritty of this "gotta write" mood is that I came across a thread on a message board recently, it was a bunch of Mom's talking about raising their boys (most of these mom's have only boys). That's great, I think having all one gender is really convenient and a lot of fun! It certainly has it's challenges, and I can understand that there might be a feeling that if the same gender were in your home things would be easier, you wouldn't feel as alone. I can't speak to that, but I can say- motherhood can be a lonely job: you're generally the only one!

Also, I should know better than to peek in those kinds of threads because
 1) I don't have any boys in my family right now.
 2) these kinds of things usually stir up some big feelings in me...Because,
3) Some times in their brutal honesty my feelings get hurt.

My problem, I shake it off...Vent to hubby and move along.

But tonight some thing really bugged me. Many of these Mom's of multiple boys sounded hen pecked. I understand they were venting, they had a rough day: I get it. One Mama said some thing about how Mother of girls can NEVER understand the noise. Girls are never as rough, or loud, or bla bla and the FIGHTING bla bla. She has way more kids (all boys) than I do...I am certainly not going to judge her or her experience, or the day she might have had when she wrote that.  Her feelings are valid too (even if they hurt my feelings).

And it did hurt my feelings. It made me feel invalidated because I have a VERY physical and VERY VERY loud and intense 4 year old daughter. And in general my kids are not the "awww they're sitting so quietly and playing so nicely" kind of kids. They are LOUD. They are very active and it may be different from a house full of boys, but it is just as valid an experience. Most days my ears hurt, I am breaking up lots of fights, and wondering how I am going to wear out my 4 year old.

Yup, that middle girl! She is joyful, exuberant, and blood thirsty. If I had a dollar for every time some one erase graphic description here, I mean every time I had to pull her off a sibling with out hair flying and blood curdling screams...Well let me tell you most days she makes me feel like an utter failure of a parent: she can't be stopped. I mean unless I physically hold her down or distract her all.day.long. I've tried every thing, even things I know are WRONG to get her to freaking CUT IT OUT. Nothing works...except GOYB.

Ahem. She has an incredibly intense energy and per the dollar comment: I should be RICH. I bring up my Tackle Monster for the simple fact that, I have girls: and I am sick to death and struggle with this too. Some of it is personality. It *is* exhausting to deal with. And I do get it.(swear word!)
The screaming by both victims here isn’t' as cute as it looks.

So I was feeling invalidated...And shaking my head at even peeking in that thread. And it got me thinking. Why?

I have three incredible girls. ...
 And I guess it comes back to that hen pecked attitude. I do it too. It's hard being a Mom! BUT it is some thing I want to explore. .  I come across it a lot. And some how it sounds different coming from a mom if boys than of girls... Kind a long the lines that people pity my husband (I have yet to come up with a good reply for the "oh your POOR husband" comments) - why are we feeling sorry for ourselves? Children are a blessing and my husband gets to experience everything he otherwise would with his daughters. I mean everything he'd care to share- and he gets a free pass on some of the more stretching experiences that puberty will bring (figuring out tampons and all that fun stuff).

But back to Gender Comparisons. Oh it niggles me! It really bugs me when a mother of  boys says (and I have heard this a handful of times) "Aww, you  have girls!" (jealous sigh) "You're so lucky! Girls are so much easier, aren't they?"

I smile and say, "All kids take work to raise" or "I love having girls" and walk away. It's not worth the energy or wasted breath. But that attitude is there. And it is so invalidating and frustrating. "Aw your life must be so quiet and easy, braiding hair all day under rainbows and sparkles."

Yes, there are quite a few rainbows... Friendly named her new rabbit (stuffy) " Princess Rainbow Sparkles" on Sunday. They love sparkles. And rainbows. And dancing. And it's cute and it's all good. But they also love jumping and diving off and onto furniture, the sound like a herd of elephants when they are playing upstairs, they love the garden and digging in dirt. Friendly loves destroying all the things (and building them too). They are people with likes and dislikes. People.

And some times it feels like there is a cultural bias against girls...Or at least girls who aren't feminine and quiet- or fit into that box. But bottom line, Why are we comparing? ALL children take work to raise. Some personalities test your sanity. Some sibling combinations go through some wretched seasons of rivalry.  

There are challenges, but I don't think gender is the problem. And I want to explore that train of thought in this "Raising Girls" series. I do not want go on or in depth comparing raising one gender over the other- because that is exactly what inwould like us to get away from and also I only have one gender of children at this point in time. But I want to ponder some why's...I want to dig at what really bugs me and worries me about these conversations. And what raising my daughters in this culture means. How can I be more proactive? What resources can I draw from? What does the color pink mean? (ha) I want to dig through some of the cultural observations I have made and figure out how I can be proactive in raising these future women, leaders, and mothers in my midst.

My precious daughters ...

What do I need to do? How can I model better? Do I subconsciously put them in a box?  How can I open more doors for them? What glass ceilings can we smash to smithereens?

Me, laying laminate flooring -on my own- - or was I painting the ceiling?-with a baby on my back! That there is some good modelling- you don't need a man to renovate a room. booyah! :0D

And just because my husband is like the most amazing person on the earth...
Nothing hotter..
I'll post a link to part 2 when I get around to it...This could be simmering for a few days (weeks)...