The Best Muffins

Okay, I know everyone claims to have the recipe for the best muffins, but these are really SOOO yummy and pretty healthy for you. All but one of our kids love them. That one doesn’t like chocolate. If you don’t like chocolate you will not like these either. Whether you are vegan, or just love chocolate, these are great for you.

Double Chocolate Avocado Muffins…Yeap!! Doubly rich, thick and fudgy dark chocolate.IMG_1759

Ingredients

1 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 medium-sized ripe avocado, pitted and peeled
2/3 c. pure maple syrup
3/4 c. unsweetened plain soymilk
1/3 c. coconut oil, melted
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 c. vegan chocolate chips

Tips

Start checking for doneness at around 17 min – ovens vary. An ice cream scoop is great for filling your muffin cups. The protein content of pastry flour falls somewhere in between that of cake flour (lowest) and all-purpose flour (mid-range among flours). Whole wheat pastry flour is a relatively low protein flour, high in starch because it’s made with whole grains. It’s a great compromise between increasing nutritional content while still getting a delicate final product. If you can’t find whole wheat pastry flour, a mixture of equal parts cake flour and whole wheat flour could be used. This way you get the best of both worlds.
Directions

Preheat oven to 350F. Line muffin pan with paper liners if desired.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a food processor or powerful blender puree the avocado, maple syrup, soymilk, oil and vanilla extract until smooth.

Add the avocado puree to the dry ingredients until all the flour is combined. If the mixture is too dry, stir in additional milk. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Fill muffin cups and bake for about 22 minutes or until a cake tester comes out with just a few crumbs. Cool.

Serving Size: 1 muffin

I have made these a number of times, varying the recipe a few times. I have used honey instead of syrup and both together, pecans instead of walnuts and no nuts at all, real milk instead of soy. I have made it Keto worthy. (It did fall in the middle though.) This time I did a mix of almond flour and whole wheat flour and I mixed coconut oil and coconut butter. I even added chia seeds. I made some in mini muffin tins which are perfect for toddlers but dangerous for self-control. They are so addictive you will want to eat and eat but they are filling at the same time.

If you make them, let me know.

 

 

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Mama Broke

So, a couple of weeks ago, I snapped. I blew up. Let me set the stage.

I woke from a fitful afternoon nap to find Hubby, Nana, and Mr. Bubblewrap at the kitchen counter. Hubby casually said something to Mr. Bubblewrap about putting away the camera. That is when I half woke up. Woke up in a fit of such frustration that I lost it. I didn’t throw things or hit anyone. But my words…ouch! I really wish I could take them back. But like toothpaste, once it is out you can’t put it back in.

You see, our eldest daughter just gave me the camera (this is not a point and shoot camera either) the night before. I had set it on the far end of the counter to check it out myself and then put away when I got a minute. BUT my trigger got tripped. Ever since our ninos came they have been learning personal space. They knew no boundaries. Everything was fair game. I have even had feminine needs pulled out of my purse by one of the children. Mr. Bubblewrap is also nine and is not the most gentle of persons when handling items.

My tolerance levels had been building and building, or should I say filling and filling. I do NOT like to micromanage at all. It stresses me out more than most things. For me, trying to find a way to raise kids with as little micromanaging as possible has been a task ever since I became a mom. Getting kids from foster care amplifies that need to micromanage, to teach, to get them caught up. It seems at times it is teaching, redirecting, disciplining, more redirecting, etc. non-stop. This was one of those seasons. And something had to give. Unfortunately, it was me that broke. Broke in a wrong way.

One of the main sources of micromanaging had become the chores. For our ninos, chores were something they were not raised with. (That could be a whole other post.) I was constantly reminding them to do their chores, asking them if they did this or that. Each time met with an eye roll at best. Then there’s checking to make sure the job was done right. Times that by at least three kids and it gets taxing.

After cooling off and asking for forgiveness, especially with Hubby, Hubby and I had a private meeting in our bathroom. I tell you our bathroom has been a sanctuary for me, a place for meetings, etc. It is really a great place. LOL! Anyway, we came up with a new chore system. It goes along with our “tic mark” system. More on these systems in a later post.

So far the new system has helped. We also had a family meeting to lay out some more guidelines and remind the kids of some we already had in place. I also, besides praying, opened up to a sister in church about my outbursts. We briefly talked and it helped just to be open with someone, another mom, who knew me and could understand.

As always, when I replay the situations in my head I react better. In this case, I could’ve/probably should’ve done this: Upon hearing and seeing son with the camera kindly taken it from him and told him in a calm voice, “You know I feel really disrespected, violated (whatever adjective fit) right now. But for the sack of our relationship, I am going to choose to let this one go.” Then walk away with my camera in hand. Then in private talk to Hubby about how the whole thing affected me.

Whether or not that would’ve worked I don’t know, but I would’ve felt better about myself.

 

What Do You Write?

What do you write when you are ending three months of so many appointments? Seriously, thank God I am a “stay-at-home” mom. No job would keep me with as many appointments as I have had these last three months!! Feb.-19, Mar.-17, and this month 22!! Just got one added literally as I type. Thankfully some of these I can drop off the General for. But what can one do in a 30 min span of time?!

Sitting at doctor’s offices, physical therapy, the lab, etc…all for the kids, was not in my plans, but…

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And that is what I am on. A very long detour. One in which I have met some very helpful, kind, and caring people.

Please, tell me what has kept you busy the last three months?

Podcast Love

*I am getting over a bit of a cold, so I am keeping it light for you.*

Once I loved talk radio. Now I LOVE podcasts. I tell you they are my new addiction. They are my escape. They help keep my mind fresh. They cover the sometimes too loud kid noises.

On my podcast list right now are: Stuff You Should Know-funny guys who talk about tornadoes, gender pay gap, naming continents, bonsai trees, and everything in between. This American Life-True stories about people and events you don’t often think about. To be honest I do skip over some of the topics covered. Stuff You Missed in History Class-You will see history a bit differently after listening to these ladies. For my christain readers, history is not covered from a biblical viewpoint at all. Some of these I skip as well due to the nature of the topic. Family Talk-From Focus on the Family and James Dobson. Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast-If you are familiar with their radio show then you know what this is all about. Back Story-I much less biased view on history. The older ones are great. I have a number of writing podcast Grammar Girl being one of my faves. The Way I heard it with Mike Rowe-Another sort of history one. If you’ve ever heard Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story then Mike Rowe’s podcast will sound familiar. Good Job, Brain-This is one of my favorites of all!! I would so love to have a group of friends to do this with. So nerdy, so fun! Brain Stuff-How’s and Why’s of things in life most under 10 minutes. The Offical Adventures in Odyssey Podcast-If you love AIO you will like this behind the scenes podcast. God Centered Mom Podcast, Marriage More Podcast, The Jep and Jess Show-Yes Jep and Jess from Duck Dynasty. How I built This-Very interesting podcast, that tells you from the owner how companies like AOL, Power Rangers, Airbnb, etc. got started. It is motivating to listen to. And finally, two of my newest ones…Both parenting podcasts, This Glorious Mess-Yes, everything sounds better with a British accent, even parenting. Funny as well. Parent Savers-You have got to listen to the Misbehaving Toddlers if you have toddlers anywhere around you. ***I totally have to come and edit this post. My little blog has been mentioned here on the New Mommy Media site. How cool is that?!? Thank you, Sunny for the thoughtful shout out. You made my day, heck my week!***

Yes, I do have that many podcasts on my phone…actually there’s more. I haven’t listened to them yet so I can’t tell you if they are even worth a shout out or not.

Making my own podcast, maybe even with Hubby, is one of those things on my mental bucket list.

 

 

 

The Road Ahead pt.2

Just last night, the sermon at church was about God’s purpose versus our preference. While the topic can refer to a number of examples in my life, this story came flashing in quicker than a preteen girl can change moods. (Part one of this journey can be read here.)

The decision on whether or not to go forward with adopting the four kiddos we met in the northern part of our state was really already decided for us. It was up to us to answer. We knew once we met them that they were “the ones”. We knew in a way that can’t really be explained. Hubby, our eldest son and I just knew. Hubby a bit less, but he still knew.

I NEVER imagined God wanting us to adopt four.at.one.time. NEVER. I even spoke to God in my heart, “but God, four?!” We were not set up for four, we had not planned on four. Our plans were a bit (very) different, but yet there was this underlying peace, that God was with us. God’s purpose versus our preference.

September 2015 we met our kids, we didn’t bring them home until February 2016. We missed all of the ‘big” holidays with them. When we met them in September, we decided to take the next step rather quickly. We met with our caseworker, his manager in the CYFD office and video conferenced with those involved in the kids’ case. There we were presented a Reader’s Digest version of the kids’ life, personalities,  behaviors, etc. We asked questions, lots of questions. Then it was go home, talk about it, think it over, pray. Then onto the next step. The is where the hold up was. This step required LOTS of paperwork. With four kids, there is a tree’s worth of paper involved just for this one meeting. The copy machine in our kids’ CYFD office was broken. Let me remind you that when you are dealing with foster care you are dealing with the government. We were hoping to bring the kids home by Thanksgiving. No fixed copier. I called everyone I could think of. Thought of EVERY possibility to get those papers copied. No fixed copier. Let me tell you that was one sad Christmas. We missed Thanksgiving, we missed one of the boy’s birthdays, and now we missed Christmas.

At this point in the game, the kids were still not told that we wanted them. To me, this was the hardest. We knew how we felt. We knew how hard we were trying to bring them home. They had no idea what had happened to the family they met way back in September. Did that family even want them?

I don’t remember when, but I ended up getting ahold of our governor’s liaison. He helped us before, and he came through big time for us again. Not only did the kids’ CYFD office get one brand new copier, they got two! From then on it was pretty smooth going.

So, with the biggest black binder, I have ever seen, Ms. L (the kids’ caseworker) came here to have the next meeting.  Again, more reading, more questions, more notes were taken. Go home read, think, talk, and pray. Onto the next step: calling the foster parents, teachers, etc. of our kids. I had my list of questions, my spot on our bedroom floor where each call was made. For one call, despite using a translator we really didn’t learn much about our little one. One foster mom was headed to the ER at the time I finally reached her!! Yes, the ER. She wasn’t sure if she was having a heart attack or what!?! Okay, so here’s the part where I am like let’s go get our son NOW! Can we break some rules? (If you know me, breaking rules is NOT my thing at all.) I had to leave it, leave him in God’s hands.

Needless to say, there was a LOT of waiting and a LOT of praying and too much fretting on my part. Once we did all we were supposed to do here on our end, it was time to give the final answer. Nothing we had read, nothing we were told changed our minds. We said yes.

Top 5, Okay 6

This post was inspired by a dear friend in my church. So, to Angie, here’s a Top 5 blog post for ya!

I have been a mom for 21 years. I am a mom to 6 kids. Two adult children, one teen, one pre-teen, an elementary age child and a toddler…all at the same time! Here are the top five things (in no particular order) I have learned in these past 21 years.

  1. Don’t parent out of pride. This one is a doozy. When our first child was born we were young, inexperienced and she was a strong-willed baby and child. During this time our family mainly consisted (still does) of our church. As churches go, trends happen. Being on the strict side was the parenting trend at this time. Our precious, much prayed for, long awaited daughter pushed all of the limits and created new ones to push. Being a compliant person myself she threw me, challenged me and made me question my ability to effectively parent. Needless to say, I took people’s judgemental comments to heart and allowed them to mold the way I parented. Hence, I was tougher on her, myself and my husband more than I needed to be. I wish I would’ve had more of a confident to-each-his-own attitude for the times I knew what was right yet was persuaded by the opinions of others sway my parenting. Comments like “My child will never do that!” and the like really don’t have a place in conversations especially when the speaker has no children. Before we brought our ninos home Hubby and I had many conversations. I don’t remember much of what all was spoken in those dimmly lit late nights. However, I do remember telling him, “When I start parenting out of pride, please let me know.” I knew our ninos would come with a whole set of new challenges. I knew that there would be a whole set of new people to judge and comment on our parenting skills. Most of whom haven’t had children from foster care. My, our, parenting mirror needs to be God not others.
  2. Balance. For me, this is an everchanging act on the thinnest of balancing beams with me falling off much of the time, landing too hard on my bruised bum. I need order, much of it. Kids need order too. However, finding that balance between order and fun, just letting kids and life be what they/it is, is hard. Too much time spent on the domestic duties and relationships suffer. Too much time spent playing, talking with the kids, running them to every extracurricualr event and the domestic parts of life suffer. Too much time working, in your hobby, spending time with friends, etc. you get the picture. We are ALL busy. Your busy looks differnt than my busy. BUT there has to be a blance. Your balance will be different than my balance as well. There are times when it feels like all you do is wipe bums and spit up like your baby (or child for that matter) is ever attached to you for food or to your hip. You are hungry for who you were before kids. Hungry for adult conversation. See number 4. There are times when you are drowning in homework, science projects, award ceremonies, sporting events, see number 4. There are times when the house is too quiet and your schedule seems to empty…really, this does happen. Cease those times to pursue those things you have put aside or to be honest, catch up on the domestic side of life if the quiet season is a short one. Because, yup, see number 4.
  3. Pray, read your bible. As a christian woman this is numero uno to keeping it all together, to get a stretched out mom back in shape, to refresh, bring hope to a broken momma’s heart, to conquer those demons (um, I mean unfavorable behaviors) regular parenting can’t. The devil doesn’t want you to maintain your relationship with God and he’ll use life to keep you from daily communing with your savior. Over the years my devotion time has changed, adapted to what was going on in our life at that time. Since bringing our ninos home this has been one of the most needed most important aspects of my motherhood. Yet it has been the most attacked, the most lacking, such a struggle. I have been a christian long enough to see the enemy’s strategy in this. Take this morning…I have established a 5:30 am morning devo time (be encouraged, I am NOT a morning person), last night we were up very late with a church event. Hubby was off and let me sleep in this morning. So nice. Everyone was either at school, work or running errands, except for the general, who was peacefully sleeping. We made all sorts of noises this morning, but when I sat down on the other side of the house to pray here comes the general scooting down the hall and into my lap. Needless to say, otherthan letting the enemy win, I had a prayer partner. Dear mommas, no matter how many dishes you have, how many loads of laundry are hollering your name, how many appointments or errands you need to go run to, preserve and fight for your devotion time with God.
  4. This too shall pass. My mother-in-law would quote this to me many times when life with our oldest threatened to undo me. At first, I dismissed it as a cute phrase some moms tell other moms when they don’t know what else to say. However, I learned how to take this to heart. I made myself a print and placed it in a prominent area as a constant reminder. The diaper phase, the sleepless nights, do pass. The “no” and “why” phase do pass. The talking back, the child knows better phases do pass. The endless exhaustion, endless needs to be met do pass. Even the teenage phase passes as well. Motherhood is full of sweet triumphs, tender kisses and belly jiggling laughs seasoned with too much salt, too much pepper and not enough coffee. Don’t get caught up or stuck down for too long in the harder phases. They do pass, sometimes (to quote a T-shirt I read) like a kidney stone, but they do pass.
  5. Laugh. Never underestimate the power of a good laugh. Take this one dinner when I had had it with our two kids. For whatever reason I was ready to delve out the strongest of punishments, to silence the kids at least for one meal time. However, Hubby who had been at work all day came home fresh and had not dealt with the kids’ craziness that day. He was not burnt out. Instead of acting as judge and jury that meal he so rightly acted as a comedian. He made some kind of joke and changed the whole atmosphere. Talk about an eye opener. God truly spoke to my heart that dinner on the power of a merry heart, of lightening up.
  6. Okay, there is one more. Expectation. Thankfully Pinterest did not exist when I first became a mom. Golly, there are enough expectations on how to act, how to look, how to entertain, how to…the moment your little one comes into this world that we do not need the help of unlimited photos at the tap of our fingers to raise the bar to almost an unreachable level. I am thankful that I have the experience to bolster my confidence and know that our children will be just fine with an old school type party, etc. Also, to be completely honest, my mom expectation took a hit from foster to adopt. I was the PTA mom who was ALWAYS at the school endlessly volunteering, making Martha Stewart worthy, heck Pinterest worthy cupcakes. I was a domestic diva on the verge of a wonderful and adventurous food blog. I entertained. I was very active in our church. For the most part doing it all while staying in line with number 2. Then BAM! Welcome to reality. I really tried to have no expectations going into life with our ninos, but they were still there. No longer were my kids top readers at the summer reading program (they barely picked up books or sat still long enough to do so). I no longer was a familiar face at their school…okay I was but for all different reasons, IEPs, kids getting into trouble, etc. Dinner, ha!! Can we call for pizza again? Yep, I burnt dinner again. The children’s’ needs were so great that healthy homecooked meals were out the door. While some of who I was before our ninos is making a comeback, it is slow going and I still have to let go of what I want to do and face where we are right now. Because you got it, see number 4.

I hope this helped you. I hope that my gray hairs are not for nothing, that my experiences can help you, dear readers. And while I have learned some things, I know that I am always learning, I would love to know what you have learned from motherhood.