Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Love: Heart-Shaped Crayons

 It is 1 AM and I am still awake. Why? Oh, because I want my two year-old, who barely understands Valentine's Day, to have something really cool and handmade to give to her friends at church. Chances are that, while these are non-edible, the kids will eat them; no worries, I spent the extra 20 cents and picked up the non-toxic crayons for this DIY heart-shaped crayon project.

Here's a quick tutorial for heart-shaped crayons...

Unwrap lots of crayons. I used five crayons for each heart.

Preheat your oven to 275.
Break your crayons into 3-4 pieces and fill silicone heart-shaped baking cups.
Bake in the oven at 275 for 10-12 minutes.
Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. 
Once crayons have cooled completely, pop them out of the baking cups, admire your work and go to bed. 

And the summary....

Eat, Love: Homemade Baby Food

It all started with mommy guilt. When Lily got ready for solid foods I had just gone back to work part time. Somehow, in my working mom insanity I decided that my child would feel more loved if her baby food was made from fresh foods rather than mass produced and served in a jar. Believe me, nearly two years later I fully realize just how ridiculous that sounds. Honestly, I knew it sounded ridiculous at the time. Instead of saying, "I am making my daughter's baby food because I feel guilty for working" I would say, "I've been doing some reading and I have decided to make Lily's baby food so I can avoid all the preservatives, ensure the food she is eating is fresh and save money." 


In the end, making Lily's baby food did save money. One dollar buys a pound of green beans, which then becomes 16-1oz. servings of baby food. Two dollars worth of sweet potatoes made pounds of baby food! We also bypassed the preservatives and, at this point in her life she loves fresh fruits and veggies. Also, after reading labels I found that many of the baby foods at the store were not as nutritious as the high fiber, vitamin-rich foods I was making at home. The homemade food also made us more more comfortable with giving Lily the (nutritious) foods we were eating and helped her enjoy herbs and spices we would not find in the big name baby foods. Oh, and it worked wonders on the mommy guilt. 


The surprising part? It was not as time consuming as I had anticipated. I would cook 4-5 pounds of sweet potatoes in the crock pot while I was at work during the day, then puree them and have them in the freezer. The actual time I spent preparing the sweet potatoes amounted to about 15 minutes. Halved peaches and a pyrex dish with a little water perfectly prepared peaches for baby food prep. Purees freeze very well in ice trays, and each cube in the tray is about 1 oz. When the purees have frozen,  you can pop them out and store them in freezer bags labeled with each type of food. They thaw easily in the microwave and can be stored in the freezer for several months. 


There are lots of cool baby food gadgets on the market, but you can prepare homemade baby food with just a few items that can be found in most any household. Once the food is cooked in a way that is appropriate for that food, you only need a blender to puree the food, ice trays to freeze the food and freezer bags to store the food. If you are like me and preparing food for the people you love is equivalent to actually telling them you love them, then preparing homemade foods for your baby will be totally fulfilling. Feel free to post any questions in the comments section. Also, check out for great health guidelines, food recommendations by age, recipes and more!


Friday, February 3, 2012

Pray: Teaching our Children

Overwhelming. Huge responsibility. Must not fail. I remember the day Doug and I began discussing bringing a child into this world. We felt excitement, enthusiasm, anticipation and joy as we imagined what our child would be like. The awesome responsibility of parenting began weighing heavily on us from that very moment. How will we teach our child to let her light shine?

Every parent has grand and wonderful plans for their child. We all want the best for them and no matter how blessed our lives have been, we want even more for our children. I know for us, we want Lily to find things she is passionate about and to pursue them with everything she has. For the most part, we will not choose her passions. She may love music or sports or art. She may be an attorney or a teacher or a chef. Only time will tell. Some things, however, are so much more important than her choice to be a pitcher or a pianist or even president.  No matter what she chooses for her hobbies or her profession, we want her to be Godly. 

I often wonder how we are doing in instilling our spiritual and moral values in our child. My heart sings when I hear her singing "I Like to go to Church" or imitating her Bible class teacher as she lines up her cars and counts to see how many cars came to church. I am encouraged when she tells the checker at Target "tank you." Then I remember that she is 2, and that we have so much work to do to help shape the person she will become. 

I was recently reading an article on Dr. Sears' site about raising a moral child. More than once in the article, he referenced a window of opportunity in the first six years of a child's life. In this window of opportunity, children unquestionably accept the virtues displayed in the lives of their parents. We have six years to shape the hearts, minds and souls of our children and then our influence begins to wane. Six years. The awesome responsibility of parenting becomes heavier and heavier. 

The Bible (as usual) provides great insight. In Deuteronomy 6:4-9 we read the following:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
"And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

We must immerse our families in the love of God. We must immerse our families in loving God. We must do whatever it takes. In order to have children who love God with all their hearts, souls and strength, we must invite God into every part of our lives. Nothing can be more important. 

It is perfectly acceptable to want your children to succeed in other aspects of their lives, but our kids have to see what comes first in our lives. Children listen to our words, but they learn from our actions. If we want their love for God to be number one, they must see God being number one in our lives. It is so much more than having them at church every time the doors are open. They must see us being kind, loving our enemies, helping those who need our help. 

We want their lights to shine; let them learn that from us.