Prickly Pear Lemonade

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Yes, you read the title right. Prickly Pear Lemonade…as in the cactus. We live in the desert and have an abundance of prickly pear cacti very near us. We have been getting a bunch of needed rain as well. Our oldest son and Miss D went out and picked some pears off of the cactus. He intended to make jelly but didn’t want to go to the store for the needed supplies. After a quick internet search, they settled on prickly pear lemonade.

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The prep was much less intense than one would think. They also used powdered lemonade. The results? Mixed. Most of our household liked it but didn’t go back for seconds. The two that would’ve gotten seconds had a bit of an allergic reaction on their tongues. Me, I thought it was okay. It is pretty though and teaches our kids to be resourceful and use what nature has provided for us.

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Move Over Coffee

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That’s right I have a new favorite caffeinated drink. I have found a second 2:00 pick-me-up. I had been seeing this frog green drink popping up here and there. Heard the word matcha tossed around but it wasn’t until Hubby and I went to Starbucks and ordered one with my new Starbucks app (only works out of town) did I actually experience this green goodness for myself. While it looks more like a science experiment it tastes so refreshing.

If you are accustomed to the sugary coffee drinks topped with a mountain of whipped cream drizzled or sprinkled with more sugary decor than this may taste a bit more like grass to you at first. For me, I drink green tea every morning and steer clear from those sugary drinks so the lemonade makes this is actually like a dessert treat to me.

So what is matcha you may ask? It basically is concentrated green tea powder. It is a powerhouse of antioxidants. The caffeine lasts longer and doesn’t hit you like coffee. It is described as an alert calmness. Pinterest and other places on the web have great benefit infographics to show you just how great this drink is.

Being the spendthrift that I am I found a copycat recipe on Pinterest from beautyandthebeets. It really does tastes like Starbucks. I lessened the sugar by 1/2c and could still lessen it more. I ordered my matcha from epicmatcha. This site is great. It has a bunch of info and great customer service.

If you haven’t tried matcha lemonade you just have to! So good.

 

 

Good Parenting ISN’T Easy

The other day at my 60 something appointment since February I got two comments, in regards to our big family, ones that I get too often.

“It must be hard.” and “You seem so calm.”

First of all, parenting brings the best out in a person but it can bring out the worst as well. My husband and I are no more “special” than the next parent. And trust me we have been pushed to our limits more than our fair share on this parenting journey. So if you think I am calm…thank you. But really you are looking at the work God has done in me or you just caught me at the right moment.

Second, of course, it is not easy. Good parenting is never easy. Raising a child into a functioning, civilized, caring human being, one who knows they are capable of reaching their potential takes work. That is raising them from day one, with your DNA. Throw in someone else’s’ DNA and all that goes into raising kids from foster care and no it is not easy.

Today I see things in a different light. I used to take so much for granted when I only parented our bio kids. Sometimes it takes a broken mirror to show you just how important the little things you did really are. So many of the little moments, just talking about the everyday things like “Oh, look at that bird,” all of the small touches, the little everyday connections, if missing can really affect a child. Not to mention when bad stuff happens.

My husband and I truly feel no different than the next good parent trying their hardest. We have no special super powers (though I wish we did, they’d sure come in handy). We haven’t taken any over the top intense training to prepare us for this. A lot of it has been off the cuff parenting, a LOT of praying and yes, a lot of failing.

Moms and dads, don’t let the media or those around you pressure you into feeling like you are not a good parent. None of us are great…well okay there are those among us. None of our lives are Pinterest perfect. (At least no one I know.) We all make mistakes, we all yell at times, we all lose it and you know what…that’s okay. We are showing our kids that it’s okay to be human, to be less than perfect. It’s okay it mess up. They get to see how we handle failure, how we handle a stressful situation, a major plot twist in life. To me, that is what real parents do. If you don’t have laminated ABC’s on your walls…it’s okay. Your kids don’t care. They want your time and attention. They want to be bored and discover things on their own. They need to fall and figure out how to get up on their own.

Parenting isn’t for sissies for sure, but I really haven’t met too many of those, so you are more than likely going to be just fine as a parent. So pull up your big girl/boy panties and stand your ground, spend time with your kids, make the hard decisions (I have said this more than once, “I want you to be safe more than I want you to be happy.) Make your kids do chores, teach them to forgive, show them how to notice and accept others around them. Give them new experiences in and out of their comfort zones. Let them cry, let them feel pain, let them know the depths of messing up and being forgiven. Show them grace, give them order, hold them accountable.

Parenting is hard. Parenting sometimes sucks. But parenting is also very worth it.

 

 

 

My Little Helper

Love the toddler age, when chores are more fun than work. The General is in that stage. Loving his help and him getting independent. Whether it’s helping me with the laundry or attempting to make his own microwave oatmeal, cooling it off in the freezer or emptying the sweeper/vacuum he really loves to help. He amazes me all of the time.

An Epiphany

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I have been working on a post about how we do chores. It is written and finished, BUT it is so very long. So while I am figuring out how to shorten it I want to share this something with you all.

We have pulled a Donald Trump and fired our 9-year-old. For the sake of the emotional well-being of our home, we fired him from the dishes. You see while he is very capable of doing them he gets so deregulated that he really isn’t capable of doing them. While he did just great last year, this year is a completely different story.

99% of the time when it is his turn to do the dishes he gets so emotional that it isn’t worth it. He gets upset, mom gets upset, dad gets upset, etc. The older kids had no problem taking over his slot.

No regulating tricks have work, no strategies have worked, no “just suck it up and do the dishes” have worked. So for now, maybe for awhile, he isn’t doing the dishes.

The epiphany…physical or even cognitive capability isn’t what we need to measure. The ability to be emotionally capable is.

Puppets, Scared Dog and Good Times

On a much lighter note, this week thus far has been appointment free other than taking The General to his speech and OT!!

I have also had the privilege to work alongside our eldest son as he has taken on the project of fixing up the Children’s Church puppets.

YEARS ago I was involved in the puppet ministry and actually hand made four puppets along with another fellow puppeteer.

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These poor puppets have seen better days. We fixed up the tears, broken arms, and holes.

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Gave them all a good shave. Took years off of them.

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Removed old, missing eyes. Replaced them with new, bright ones.

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He fixed their hair, gave them new clothes, tongues (not shown here) and a few got accessories. A lot of work, but so well worth it. I love working alongside my son and seeing our new kids see behind the scenes and all the work that goes into these. The General LOVES the Granny.

The funniest thing was we had them all set up like this in the dining room, where the dogs go in and out. Our big dog would not come in with them in there. Hubby had to put them all in the playroom before she’d come in the house. They can give you the impression that someone is there at first glance.

Living on a Prayer…and Budget pt. 2

To quickly recap from part one; when starting a budget you need your essentials budgeted first.

*Food- we should be spending 9-14% depending on what source you read.

*Shelter-Depending on your income and outflow you may have to reassess where you live and/or your living arrangement.  Financial advisors will that no more than 25-28% (the opinion varies from site to site) of your income should go toward housing.  I am no financial advisor, but you may have to downsize or move if you are over your budget here.

*Clothing-While we need clothes…thank God for clothes…this one can be easy or hard to figure our just how much you need, especially if you have growing children.  However, after looking it up, conscience says about 4% of your income should be spent on clothing.

Let’s go back to food…my favorite: set a budget for your food allowance and plan accordingly.  I am a meal planner, have been for over 20 years now.  At first, t can be hard, but it quickly becomes second nature.  You can gather up old cookbooks, Grandma’s recipe box or look online at the endless recipe sites and start planning.  When meal planning, make sure when picking out recipes that they include regular products you either have already or will use again.  Sauces and spices for example can add up really quick especially if you will rarely use them.  Ask a friend if he/she has that sauce or spice and see if you can use it just for that recipe.  If so, make sure to give them some of the yummy dish you make.  That way they will more than likely let you use there pantry items in the future.

My grocery lists would/do include items we need all of time like toiletries, milk, bread, eggs, did I mention milk.  We have usually ate pretty much the same things for breakfast so that was easy.  For lunch Hubby took leftovers to works.  The kids either brought lunch or ate at school, it varied.  I also ate leftovers or made something at home.

Again, our grocery list didn’t vary much other than for dinner items. For that is where the planning helps a ton.  Here’s what I looked for: I had a few easy, quick meals for those busier than normal nights, meals that would stretch and I would try to vary the meats.  I tried to keep the favorites in there (I give my recipes a star rating to quickly identify the favorites) and add new recipes to try out.  Like I said living on a budget doesn’t have to be boring.

Now for the clothing.  Luckily, I don’t get bothered if I don’t wear name brand clothes.  My family has been pretty good about it too.  When the kids got jobs they tended to buy more name brands, but they too quickly learned how to find a good deal.  So, I am going to be completely honest…I love to shop at thrift stores.  I shop at stores ending in Mart as well, and some name brand stores (clearance racks and sales $$$) as well.  But there’s not much like thrifting and walking out with three grocery bags full of shirts that only costs $35.  Yes, that just happened last week!  It’s like treasure hunting.  Hubby mainly buys brand new clothes.  In his line of work he needs very sturdy, heavy duty clothes that are VERY hard to come by used.  However, the kids and I have gotten a good amount at the thrift stores.  Now I don’t buy undergarments or swim wear used.  EVER.  No matter how tight our budget is.  I also shop online for clothes.  Where we live we have a For Sale-(our city’s name) on Facebook.  It’s like an online yard sale.  I have gotten our toddler grocery bags full of clothes for under $40.  These types of sites/pages are great for reselling your kiddos used clothing too. There’s also this site I LOVE, LOVE: Thredup.  I have to not go there too often or I WILL go over my clothing budget.  They have name brands, if that matters to you, quality clothing for women and children.  With a family of seven, this is a game changer.  Their return policy is terrific too.  Okay, enough of the infomercial here.  I have also shopped yard sales, but not too often.  I prefer the organization of stores.  Hand-me-downs have been a blessing to us.

To briefly sum it up, there are many ways to save money and stick to your budget.  It takes a bit of time and effort, but it will be worth it and it will pay off.