For the Love of Candy

My children got a lot of candy this past Easter.

A. lot.

They got candy at the church Easter egg hunt. They got candy from the Easter Bunny. They got candy from their uncle and from loved ones we consider family. They got candy from their grandparents. To be honest, it’s way too much candy.

After the Easter festivities, I caught a glimpse into the secret world of grandmothers. My mother was recalling a telephone conversation she had with a fellow grandmother and friend. The friend asked my mom, “Does Kathy allow you to give your granddaughters candy?” While I inwardly cringed every time my kids came home with more candy, I realized there’s a bigger picture to be seen.

When it is not Easter, Christmas, or their birthdays, I monitor how much candy my children eat. Before they get dessert, they know they have to finish the vegetables and protein on their plate. They get plenty of exercise and drink water or milk. I’m trying to teach and model for the kids about balance, moderation, and being strong and healthy.

But in those special moments when my girls get boat loads of candy from family and friends, I remember that this is how they show my kids that they are loved. It’s not that candy = love. It’s in the giving of the candy that my girls are being shown that they are loved.

In fact, eating is the first way a baby learns to be loved, nurtured, and cared for. Feeding a child is the first way the parents show their love. The baby learns to trust from the simple act of being fed. Gayle Felton writes, “For [a baby], the connection between being loved and being given food and drink is real.”[1]

We, too, experience that connection between being loved and being given food and drink when we take communion. We participate in a sacred tradition in which we remember Jesus’ sacrificial love for us. We experience God’s grace and forgiveness. We are nourished by the bread and wine and sent out into the world to share God’s transforming love with our neighbors. In the United Methodist tradition we celebrate an open communion table. ALL are invited and that includes children! They might not understand what communion is all about, and to be honest, I don’t exactly either; it is a holy mystery! But what children can understand is the connection between the breaking of the bread, the drinking of the wine, and the experience of love.

So back to my mom’s friend’s question: “Does Kathy allow you to give your granddaughters candy?” My answer is a big, loud YES because I know that is how our extended family and loved ones show their love to my two biggest blessings. And I wouldn’t want to deprive anyone of that.

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato SoupThis year I have committed to changing the way I eat.  No more (or at least not much) processed food, cutting way back on the grains, and trying to slow down on dairy.  I feel like a million bucks and I’m staring 40 right in the eye and smiling.  I have to say that it can be hard to always make food from scratch, especially with two young children.  So my new favorite website is  PaleoPot!  Delicious recipes that I can make in the morning and have ready and waiting whenever dinnertime needs to be.  Here is my favorite…

Roasted Red Pepper and Sweet Potato Soup

The simple ingredients…

  • 6 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed – this is usually about 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 14 oz. jar of roasted red peppers in water, drained
  • 14 oz. can coconut milk
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tstp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Put all the ingredients in your slow cooker and 4-6 hours later you have soup!  Puree it with a stick blender or food processor and enjoy!

Monday Morning Meditation ~ A Look Back

As we enter a new season, a new month, and a new week, this Monday morning, we’ll look back at our first quarter year of Monday Morning Meditations.  We hope you can use this morning to catch up on any you may have missed, or re-read one that spoke to you.Monday Morning Meditation ~ A Look Back

Will the expert in the room please raise her hand?

Internet ~ Friend or Foe?

 Extremes of Motherhood

Teachable Moments in the Everyday

Slow Down and Smell the Roses

Lord Give Me Strength

Becoming Soccer Mom

Go Ahead, Be Grumpy

We Are Never Alone

Perfection is My Enemy

Sing like {Your Kids} are Listening

Do you like Surprises?

Already read them all?  Leave a comment on one that has been particularly meaningful to you this year.

Sing like {Your Kids} are Listening

We all know the expression, “Dance like nobody’s watching…”  I image if singing were included in that call to confidence, we’d all sing like we were in the shower, right?

Well, here is the problem.  I can’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Now, I’m not saying I’d make the highlights of American Idol (you know, as one who is reeeaaally, really bad), but I have a range of about 3 notes.  And that’s pushing it.

Even Twinkle Twinkle Little Star spans 5 notes, (6 if you want to hit the “high” note) so you see what we’re dealing with here.

Thankfully, each week, the boys and I load up and head off to toddler music class.  While I’m not sure that I can be helped, the wonder and amazement on their faces each week tells me that they are soaking those melodies right up…and loving it.  I’m just grateful that they can hear the songs the way the are supposed to sound.

Don’t get me wrong, I sing too.  Usually loud and proud.

You see, one of the greatest things that I have learned from music class is that, to my kids, my voice is golden.  Maybe that’s just what our beloved music teacher tells all the parents to help boost our confidence, but I believe it.  I believe my 3 notes are music to their ears, at least.

So, when my boys sweetly beg for me to “Sing? Sing?” while reading our favorite Somewhere Over the Rainbow book, I do.  It’s not pretty.  (Is it just me, or is that song a little more challenging than my range can handle?)  But, I do it.  I do it because I love the way they look at me when I do.  And, I do it because I really love the sound of their voices when they chime in with me.

In my dreams, I sound like Katharine McPhee when I sing Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Ms. Becky when I sing This Little Light of Mine, or Pastor Sherry when I sing Jesus Loves Me or Oh, Happy Day!.

And, maybe…just maybe…to my kids’ ears, I do.

Dear God, thank you for the reminder that our children’s gifts may not be our own.  Help us to let them soar regardless of our own inhibitions in life.  Amen.

Ten Games to Play when Mom is Sick

Ten Games to Play when Mom is SickMoms don’t typically get to “call in sick.”

Even when Mom is ill, meals need to be prepared, kids need to be on time for school, basic household chores cannot be ignored, and boo-boos still need to be kissed.  But sick Moms need the chance to rest too.  That’s why it’s a good idea to have a few trusty activities that you can do with your kids while you rest on the couch or in the recliner.

With all the illness going around right now, I thought I would share 10 simple games and activities that I have used in the past with my girls when I was feeling under the weather (due to sickness or pregnancy!)….your mileage, of course, may vary depending on the age, interest, and temperament of your child(ren).

Ten Games to Play when Mom is Sick

1)  Play doctor.  My 5-year-old loves Doc McStuffins and will happily sing the theme song while she gives me check-up after check-up on the “doctor’s bed,” aka the couch.

2)  Play Simon Says.  Mommy, of course, gets to be Simon from the comfort of couch.  Just remember to give lots of silly instructions to keep the kids interested and giggling.

3)  Send the kids on a scavenger hunt.  The fun activity may start with, “find me something yellow,” but can quickly turn into “find me a new box of tissue” when you run out!

4)  Reverse roles.  Kids love to play house, so let them be the mommy for a while and take care of you.  They’ll especially get a kick out of ordering you to take a nap and then tucking you under the covers.  Pretend to put up of fight, just like they do, but not too much…you really do want that nap!

5)  Play beauty parlor/nail salon.  Both of my daughters love to brush my hair, add accessories, and pretend to put make-up on me, and, as long as they’re being gentle, it feels sooo good for me too.  Win-win!

6)  Play I Spy.  This low-energy game can also be a great review of early learning concepts like shapes, colors, size, letters, directional words, etc.  (I see something that is blue.  I see something that starts with the letter p.  I see something on top of the book shelf.)

7)  Listen to book recordings.  Snuggling on the couch to read books is a great option when you’re low on energy, but if you have a headache or a sore throat, it can be less than ideal.  We keep a bin of books on tape along with an old tape player (and headphones) close at hand.  I highly recommend the Leap Frog Tag products as well, which are excellent and a favorite toy of both my 5-year-old and 18-month-old.

8)  Have a dance party.  This is a great option to help kids release some energy, but if listening to the pounding bass of the newest Kidz Bop CD isn’t going to help you recuperate, try turning on some slow, quiet classical music and giving the kids scarves to do some “interpretive dance.”

9)  Build a fort.  At first glance, this doesn’t sound very restful, but throw a couple blankets over a card table and you quickly and easily have a dimly lit hide-away where you are forced to lay down because of space!  My girls and I pretend to be camping out, and they bring me food that they have “hunted and gathered.”  A fort like this is also a great place to read books or do puzzles.

10)  Be the audience.  Most kids love to perform so let them show you their new dance moves, listen to their silly songs, or watch their dramatic retelling of their favorite story from your comfy perch on the sofa.  Just be ready with a hearty “Bravo!” when they are done.

How do you entertain your kids when you need a bit of a rest?

Family Prayer

Family PrayerLately, my 5 year old has gotten quite creative with our dinner prayer time.  She has led us in rousing renditions of Vacation Bible School songs complete with hand motions (and don’t even think about skipping a verse, missy!) and has even relayed a very long list of blessings that her favorite stuffed animal apparently whispered in her ear.  We, of course, encourage her to give thanks for all that we have in whatever way appeals to her in the moment, since I think it’s *pretty* safe to say God doesn’t care what form our prayers take.  But saying grace before meals hasn’t always been so…um, eclectic.

We started saying a prayer before dinner with our older daughter when she was about 3 years old.  We decided to use the kid-friendly prayer that my husband’s family said when he was young:

I thank the Lord for this bright day,

Parents, food, sleep and play.

Thanks for blessings large and small.

We could never count them all.  Amen.

I like this prayer because it encompasses all the important things in a young child’s life:  wake up, eat, play, spend time with family, repeat!  I also like that it introduces the idea that blessings come in all shapes and sizes and that we truly have so much for which to be thankful.  Another plus:  it was very easy for her to learn since it has a nice, bouncy beat and rhyming words.

Flash forward a couple years, and we now have our one year old participating in prayer time as well.  Right now, she only clasps her hands together and doesn’t always make it to the end of her older sister’s sometimes lengthy blessings without starting in on her food, but I look forward to the day not far down the road when she’ll join her sweet voice in the above prayer…and let us know what her stuffed animals are thankful for as well!

Note:  The prayer above was handed down orally in my husband’s family.  After a quick Google search, I was unable to find a source to site.  If anyone knows where this prayer originated, please let us know and we’ll include that information here!