Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Simple way to Grind

Sometimes I like to get a little creative in the kitchen.  One thing I like to do is use different kinds of flours for different nutritional benefits.  I have used almond flour to pack in a little more protein or coconut flour to add tons of fiber.  I have made food from these flours that we enjoy as a family, but they can be a little pricey.  There are two that I grind myself that are not expensive at all.  I don't have fancy equipment; I just use our little coffee grinder!

  • Oatmeal -Grind regular rolled oats into flour for baking.  Oatmeal will absorb a lot of moisture, but it is a great flour to play with!  Try substituting oat flour for the oatmeal in Breakfast Cookies for a different texture.  I am hoping to try this chocolate muffin recipe soon! 
  • Flax-Flaxseed contains a little fiber, but it is most beneficial when it is freshly ground.  The little seeds need to be opened to release the oils; the oils contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.  The oils from the seeds may have dried up if flax is purchased already ground and would not contain the same health benefits so I grind it myself.  A few tablespoons of ground flaxseed can be added to baked goods or casseroles.
This post is linked up at http://wearethatfamily.com/, http://frugallysustainable.com/, http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com/, http://www.tammysrecipes.com/node

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rethinking Food: It's Snack Time!

What to feed the kids for snacks….it is a real food dilemma for sure.  Fruit snacks, Little Debbie snack cakes, and most chips, crackers and pretzels do not make the cut if you read the ingredients.   I love a good Wheat Thin, sweet and salty at the same time.  I used to eat A LOT of Wheat Thins.  I was a little sad when I decided that they finally had to go.  Snacks were the “Last Frontier” of real food for our family.  The great thing is that once we did switched from packaged food to real food our snacks went from empty foods that robbed our health to full foods that added nutrients to our bodies.  Here is a peak at what we munch on now. 
·       Fruit-There almost doesn’t even need to be a comment here.  I think that our favorite would have to be apples and peanut butter.

·       Veggies-My kids are absolute bears before supper.  If things get really out of hand I let them snack on veggies and dip or plan old frozen peas (still cold, straight from the freezer.)

·       Popcorn-I make popcorn either on the stove top or with our air popper.  We love popcorn!

·        Smoothies-Smoothies are a little pricier of a snack.  We put greens in our fruit smoothies so we get fruit and veggies all at once. If you have never added greens to your smoothies start with a few spinach leaves and gradually increase them.  Yogurt is another great food to add.  We love frozen bananas in our smoothies so that they are really thick, almost like a shake!  I freeze the leftover smoothies into freezer pops.  Banana pops are good too.

·       PBJ Tortilla-This is also lunch for us sometimes.  Whatever works!

·       Bread and Butter-Bread is the best when it is fresh from the oven.  It is hard for our family not to eat a whole loaf!

·       Nuts and raisins-Our family loves almonds, cashews, pistachios, macadamia nuts and peanuts.  I know that walnuts are supposed to be a super food, but our tastes are just not there yet!  We buy nuts in bulk at Costco.

·       Granola Bars or Protein Bars- I am currently out of honey this week, and my son keeps asking for granola bars.  I agree with him.  We need to get honey and make a double batch this week!

·       Quick Bread or Muffins-I usually make enough muffins or bread for breakfast and freeze some for another breakfast.  If I know that we don’t have snacks for the day/week I will serve them as a snack too.

·       Hard Boiled Eggs-Slightly off topic, but hard boiled eggs remind me of the Ramona books.  Have you seen the movie Ramona and Beezus that came out a couple years ago?  It is a great movie for family movie night.  Back to eggs...I have to limit my kids on the number of hard boiled eggs that they can eat in a sitting because they love them so much!

·       Cheese Sticks or Yogurt

·       Crackers and cheese-Wait, didn’t I just bash crackers in the first paragraph of this post?  We do still buy Triscuits.  The ingredients are very simple so I feel fine purchasing them for my family.

·       Herbal tea-OK so not a great 10 am snack for the kids, but a great “snack” at 9:30 p.m. when I really am really not hungry physically but just need a little something.  I go ahead and add a little honey, because I figure what are a few calories from honey in comparison to a bowl of ice cream? 

What great snacks did I forget?  I am sure that there are plenty that I didn’t mention.  What does your family eat?

Monday, July 23, 2012


Ever know that something should be really simple, but you still can’t figure it out?  That is my story with dried beans.  Beans are healthy, full of protein and fiber.  They are a great addition to a meal without adding a lot of costs.  I knew that dried beans were healthier and cheaper than canned, but I tried boiling them a couple of times, and I didn’t like the texture.  They were still kind of hard, and as the inside of the bean cooked it kind of popped out of the shell.  (Is the outside called a shell…skin?)  I was frustrated.  How difficult can it be to cook a bean?  I have made much more difficult things than a bean.  Sigh…

I borrowed the book Large Family Logistics from a friend, and the author casually explained how she made beans.BLOG-POST SUBJECT HIATUS: I picked up the book because I read that smaller families can learn a few things from the organization and plans of larger families.  We are a family of 4 which by “definition” is a large-small family.  5 kids tips a family over into the small-large family category.  And now you know…back to beans.  I should not have been that excited about the author’s bean making process, but I will shamelessly admit that I was.  I tried black beans last week, and they were perfect!  Hooray!

1.       Soak the beans in water over night.  I used a whole bag of beans and added enough water to cover the beans plus a little extra.  Tip: Add a couple of teaspoons of acid (apple cider vinegar or lemon juice) and your beans should cause less flatulence.  J

2.       The next morning strain the beans and rinse.  Wipe out the crock pot and spay lightly with cooking spray. Return the beans to the pot.

3.       Cover with water and cook on low for 5-7 hours. 

4.       After the beans have reached the desired texture, rinse and use or store.  Tip: Season beans with salt after they have cooked or they will not get soft enough!

If you are not going to use your beans right away they can be frozen for future meals.  I froze some and made protein bars out some.  (See recipe below)  The crock pot was stained from the black beans but scrubbing cleanser easily took care of that!  Happy bean making! 

Protein Bars

*Some call these “Black Bean Brownies”.  I was raised that my great-Aunt Verda’s buttermilk brownies were the definition of the ultimate brownie.  These are very tasty protein bars!

·         1 ¾ cups black beans

·         3 eggs

·         ¼ cocoa

·         1 tsp vanilla

·         3 Tsp oil

·         ¼ tsp salt

·         1/3 honey

·         ¼ sugar or sucanat

·         ½ tsp baking powder

Mix together all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  Pour into greased pan and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until the top just starts to crack.

This post is linked up at Tammy's Recipes, Quick Easy Cheap Healthy, Food Renegade, Nourishing Gourmet, Frugally Sustainable

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rethinking Food: Supper Substitutes

For me real food for supper has been the easiest change to make.  When I was first adjusting our meals I simply cooked a meat and veggie and added fruit and called it supper.  Unlike breakfast I was already accustomed to cooking at this time of day and meal planning so I just had to adjust my planning goals and recipes.  Families and tastes are different.  Some families resist any change to their favorite foods; they need all new meals.  Others have success making slight alterations to a family recipes and keeping food familiar.  If you are looking for all new recipes 100 Days of Real FoodOnce a Month Mom or Heavenly Homemakers meal plans are great places to start.  If you are looking to alter your own recipes I have a few ideas.

1.       Pasta-What mother doesn’t love the easy of boiling noodles at 5:30 when life has fallen apart?  We all have heard that we should be eating whole wheat pasta, but admittedly the texture is a little different.  Experiment with different noodles. My family loves angel hair pasta.  (I use a kitchen scissors to cut it up into almost rice size pieces so my littles can scoop it with a spoon instead of twisting with a fork!) Find a good red sauce without MSG or high fructose corn syrup.  It really isn’t hard; I have even found low sugar ones that do not use artificial sweeteners. Win!   I am looking forward to attempting to make my own once the tomatoes in my garden ripen!

2.       Rice-Another mantra we have all heard is “Switch out the white rice.”   My husband is not a big fan of brown rice.  I have gotten creative.  We like Basmati rice, and to my surprise quinoa is a family favorite.  I make both rice and quinoa with homemade broth to increase the nutrition of our meal.  I use rice to turn leftovers into a second meal.  Add veggies and rice to leftover grilled chicken, roast or taco meat and you’ve got a very inexpensive, quick and healthy meal.
3.       The grill-Marinades are easy to make and both healthier and cheaper than the ones you can buy in a bottle.  I try to double and freeze marinades that our family likes and freeze them.  I am not a “grill master” so I have found it handy to think “low and slow” on the heat and keep a meat thermometer with me.  Grilled veggies are so tasty.  We toss ours in olive oil and add salt, pepper and garlic.  (Grilling is seasonal for us, but in the cooler months the crock pot is my friend.)

4.       Cream of Soup and Broth-If these are a staple to your cooking (i.e. if most of your meals come from a church cook book, or Campbells.com) take the time to make the soup or broth yourself.  Yes, I admit it will take time, but if you want a healthy trade to the meals that you already make this is the way to go.  Save your glass jars (salsa or pizza sauce jars are a great size) take an evening or a Saturday and make up enough to use in several meals and freeze.  You will have to remember to take the soup or broth out of the freezer when you get your meat out of the freezer.  Write it on the meat package if you need a reminder!  Here are some of the things that you will not be eating: Monosodium glutamate, modified food starch, soy protein isolate, partially hydrogenated oil.  Bone broth is one of the healthiest things to feed a family when it is homemade.  It is a process, but my husband can taste the difference.

5.       Boxed Food: Hamburger Helper, chicken nuggets, frozen pizza, Hot Pockets…they are not a temptation to make for supper if they never make it in the door.  They will not make it through the door if they never get put into the cart.  A mealplan and self restraint goes a long way!  I have found that I am more resourceful than I thought.  The meals may not be gourmet and it may not look traditional, but we have never gone hungry.  Find the real food equivalent, double and freeze it.  Here are a few of our favorites…

§  Pop Corn Chicken  (Freezes so well for a quick meal!)

§  Corn Muffins (I have done these d-free too, and they work!)

§  French Fries (I have not tried to freeze these, but when I make these my husband says “Oh good!”  He has never said this about Ore Ida!)

§  Ranch dip (Make up a batch or two and keep in a sealed container. Add it to sour cream for veggie dip.  Sprinkle on cubed potatoes and oven roast!)

§  Cheese Beef Pasta Skillet (I just freeze the beef not the whole meal.)

Start slow; when you are making a meal read the ingredients.  If they are real…smile, if they are full of preservatives and artificial products look for a replacement at the store or make one yourself.  Relax, experiment, have fun.

Any real food recipes to link up today?  It is time to link up any changes you are making at your home.  I love reading the comments so be sure to leave one!

This post is linked up at Raising Arrows, Tammy’s Recipes, HomesteadRevival and Food Renegade. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Baked Oatmeal

In light of rethinking breakfast this week I thought that I would post our family's bake oatmeal recipe.  This recipe is easily thrown together the night before and the kitchen stays clean in the morning!
1 1/2 cups of rolled oats

1 cup milk (cow, almond or rice...any will work)

1/4 cup of butter or coconut oil

1 egg

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp. brown sugar or sucanat

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt oil/butter and add baking powder, salt, brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir in milk and egg. Add oats. Put in greased baking dish and bake or cover and let set in fridge over night.

Bake at 350 for about 30 minutes. Serve with maple syrup. (Can be doubled and put into a 9x13)

Monday, July 16, 2012

Make a move Monday: Rethinking Breakfast

Last week’s Rethinking Food laid out “why” and “what” of real food. Now it is time to look more at “how,” specifically breakfast. Changing breakfast is hard because breakfast from a box is so easy, and this is coming from someone who admittedly has an advantage to a real food breakfast. I like to cook. I like mornings. I love breakfast food, and I don’t have to have everyone out the door by 7:30. But when the opposite is true, then what?

There we were, back at the doctor with my son after adding fiber to his diet was not doing enough for his stomach.  The doctor was very frank in his discussion with me.  He made me stop and look at each meal, and I remember feeling completely overwhelmed.  He asked “What do you eat for breakfast?”  With great pride in my simple answer I said “Honey Nut Cheerios or Frosted Mini Wheats.”  He replied with an annoying buzzing sound and a “Wrong answer!”  I was deflated. 

We can all envision the breakfast table full of fluffy pancakes, bacon and eggs or crispy hash browns and omelets, but that isn’t the reality for most of us each morning.  (It also does NOT need to be the goal, I might add.)  There are two real food options that can serve the business of our days: Grab and Go and Make Ahead.

Grab and Go

My goal here was real food that takes the same time and effort as a pop tart.  I have heard of some who do not particularly like breakfast foods and grab last night’s supper out of the fridge and that works too!

Cheese and fruit-Cheese sticks give a portable protein (choose full fat for better digestion and white to avoid artificial coloring.  Did you know that cheese is never naturally orange?  It is added!)  Fruit is always a winner…berries, oranges, apples, bananas, pears, grapes.

Nuts and dried fruit-This has the same idea as above, starting the day off with protein and fiber it always a good choice.

Larabars-These are not the most budget friendly option out there, but once in a while health and convenience trumps the extra cost. J

Yogurt-If you read the label and find a low sugar, full fat yogurt without artificial coloring and flavoring, that’s great.  This maybe harder than it sounds!  You will also pay a lot more for this kind of yogurt.  Often it can be found plain and you ccan add honey or a little jam and sweeten it on your own, but then if feels less “grab and go.”

Granola-Grandola is another healthy food that takes a careful, label reading eye.  Often times there is a lot of extra surgar. 

Make Ahead

This takes a little work one morning of the week (or on a Saturday if the weekday mornings are too crazy!) but makes the difference between real food and compromise the rest of the week.  These meals are often more cost effective than boxed cereals too.

Frozen waffles or pancakes-I lived off frozen Eggo waffles during my third pregnancy!  I make them myself now; it’s cheaper and healthier.

Muffins and quick breads-I normally make pumpkin or zucchini so that we are getting moreveggies.

Hard boiled eggs-My kids love these.  It takes very little prep time to make enough to last a week.

Homemade granola bars-Best chewy granola bar recipe ever, I always double this recipe but only use a total of 8 Tbs of honey.

Breakfast cookies-This makes a huge batch!  Try them as bars if cookie making is too tedious!

Breakfast Burritos-This is my oldest son’s favorite.  He likes egg, sausage and cheese, maybe someday I can squeeze in pepper, onion and/or mushrooms!  (Confession: I haven’t gotten the hang of making my own whole wheat tortillas.  I compromise with the Costco pre-rolled ones that I cook myself.  They are made out of while flour, but the ingredients are very simple.)  Soft tortilla shells and the fillings of your choice can be easily wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen.

Homemade Granola-This is the best answer for replacing boxed cereal.  I have no one recipe that we like.  The other day I choose a crunchy granola bar recipe that I found on Pinterest and broke it up as cereal.  That was probably everyone’s favorite.  I am curious to try this crock pot recipe.

Homemade Yogurt-Admittedly I have tried making crock pot yogurt, but have ended up with runny yogurt that I turn into smoothies and freezer pops.  My friend says that this recipe is the way to go.  I have tasted hers , and it is good!

While they doesn’t fall into either category there are a couple of breakfast foods that should be mentioned. 

Oatmeal: The most cost effective breakfast for sure is oatmeal.  (Sorry, instant and quick oats are processed; use rolled oats.  The texture is better anyway!)  I have found that I can make a double batch of oatmeal and once the leftovers have cooled I add an egg, mix well and spread out into a container to put in the fridge.  The next day I cut out a “bar” of oatmeal and fry it as oatmeal pancakes. 

Eggs: Scrambled or fried these are a great start to the morning.  My mom used to always feed me scrambled eggs on ITBS mornings as brain food-smart mom!

Toast-Bread is tricky for the real food diet.  Have you read the ingredients of even “healthy” whole wheat bread?  It is disappointing.  Homemade bread is amazing, but I don’t have time to do that as regularly as I would like.  Ezekiel bread is a great option, but not budget friendly and my kids don’t particularly like it.  They will eat it as toast so we have had it in the freezer for some of “those” mornings.

It is your turn in the conversation.  What real foods do you eat for breakfast?  What standard breakfast foods are hard to give up?  Link up real food ideas and healthy recipes!  I love seeing what healthy moves you are making in your home! 

This post is linked up at http://www.raisingarrows.net/  http://homesteadrevival.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I cut two zucchini out of my garden last night so today was a day for chocolate zucchini bread.  I think that the excessive heat we had the past couple of weeks is paying a price on the amount of produce I am going to get from my garden.  I was anticipating shredding and freezing enough zucchini to last through the winter, but I no longer think that I am going to have the bumper crop I was hoping for. 

I like zucchini because preserving it doesn't take much on my part.  I shred it and freeze it in two cup increments (because that seems to the amounts that my recipes call for.)  I leave the peel on because it bakes right into breads and muffins.  (It is a color thing more than a texture thing.  Peeling it just seems like an extra step that only serves to take away nutrients.  I say leave it on; it looks like confetti!) When I shredded the extra zucchini today I put a sheet of waxed paper under my mandolin.  I slipped it right into a plastic storage bag and laid it flat in the freezer.  It thaws more quickly and can be tucked away in the freezer more neatly when frozen flat.  When we want zucchini bread in November I let it thaw in the fridge for a couple of hours, drain away the extra water and get cooking! 

The kids are never sad to have chocolate zucchini bread for breakfast.  I love feeding them chocolate zucchini bread for breakfast because it is one more veggie in their day.  This recipe can be done in two loaf pans or 4 mini loaves.  I have a hard time getting any quick bread to get done in the middle so I always opt for the 4 mini loaves.  They are easy to freeze or share with a neighbor.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
3 eggs
1 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbs vanilla
2 cup zucchini, finely shredded
2 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350. In bowl, beat together eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla. Stir in zucchini. In a separate bowl combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and baking powder. Add zucchini mixture to flour mixture and stir until just moistened. Spoon into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 1 hour. Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto cooling rack.

This post is linked up at http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/  http://www.foodrenegade.com/  http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/   http://quickeasycheaphealthy.com/  http://www.tammysrecipes.com/ http://www.spain-in-iowa.com/

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Make a Move Monday: Rethinking Food

Three out of our four kids have special dietary needs.  My oldest son is very sensitive to refined sugar and processed food.  (As hard as I tried, our recent vacation to the Ozarks did not go without incident.)  My younger son and daughter both have dairy intolerances.  We eat differently than most of our friends.  I do hope that someday our home is rid of the diary issues.  It would be nice to mix up one bowl of pancake batter in the morning or put cheese back into our family meals.  Surprising to some however, I do not wish to return to the mornings of brown sugar Pop Tarts or Diet Pepsi and Nacho Cheese Doritos at lunch. 

Why do I wish away one diet but not the other?  It is certainly not because dairy free eating takes more work than eliminating processed foods from our diets.  I do not want to return to our old eating habits because my whole thought process about food has been changed.  The more that I learn about food and our bodies, the more that I am convinced that real food must be the foundation for any diet.  (Allergies and intolerances will alter the diet from there.) 

Answering the question “Why eat real food?” in a paragraph is quite a daunting task, but here I go:  I believe that if we want our bodies to perform properly for as long as possible we need to fuel it correctly.  It makes sense to me that God has created food to naturally have the nutrients we need.  We cannot (and should not) try to outdo His genius.  Egg Beaters should not replace eggs.  “Made with fruit juice” fruit snacks are not equal to a serving of fruit (even if it says so on the package), and margarine cannot replace good, old butter.   At their core high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, hydrogenated oils, and many of the additives and artificial preservatives we manufacture are trying to outdo nature.  They are a contortion of real food made to fit our current food trends (low-fat, low-carb, low-cal, low cost, etc) rather than our nutritional need. 

The human body has responded to all of this relatively new food (in the history of the human race Red 40, MSG and high fructose corn syrup are "new") in some major ways.  We are very addicted to an unnaturally sugared diet.  As our country’s sugar consumption has increased so has our weight.  Many diseases are linked to the obesity epidemic in the US.  Good, healthy foods are in competition with their deceptively colored and flavored counterparts that are void of health benefits.  People become nutritionally starved choosing the brightly colored fake stuff over the good food, and immune systems suffer.  Processed foods do not contain the benefits once put there by the Creator.

Ironically, we are more obsessed with food than ever.  Diets and super foods grace the cover of magazines and are the topic of countless news stories.  We are obsessed with food not in a “give us this day our daily bread” kind of way but in a strange “I can tell you the fat grams, carbs and calories in my hot pocket but otherwise have no idea what ingredients I am actually eating” kind of way.  If you step back and look at it, it is very odd.

 “Rethinking Food” will be a series of discussions reconsidering the food we eat at each meal asking is this “Real Food?”.  What exactly is “Real Food?”  Google gave me this definition: “Those that nature gives us, plants, roots, fruits, nuts, seeds, meats, eggs, milk and those made from it. Fake foods are those that human beings create trying to imitate the natural food.”  http://www.thepalettefund.org/nutrition_resources/more/glossary

I really do want this to be a discussion.   What do you think about real verses processed foods?  What hang ups does your family have with a real food diet?  What does your family eat?  What are the ingredients in those foods?   A dialog is so much more fun than a monolog so I hope that you comment here or on Facebook!  Next week we will be specifically looking at breakfast foods. Please join us!

NOTE:  I hope that as a reader you never hear a judgmental tone at Simply Made Home.  We are not perfect, nor (in light of this post) do we eat perfectly.   My goal is to relay information and in this series in particular encourage others to evaluate food choices and maybe look at nutrition in a different light.  I truly believe that food is an area of stewardship that balances health, money and time in a way that may look different for each family.  I never intend to leave others with a feeling of discouragement because they don't do it "right," but to encourage changes that might need to be made. 

OK, it is time for a link up!  Please let us know what simple move you are making toward healthy living in your home. Link up your blog post, or just leave a comment. Then take time to be inspired from other's link ups and comments.
Please read through the rules for those participating, and thanks for your participation.

1) No linking to giveaways or promotions for affiliates or sponsors. Give aways and promos are great, but they expire. I will delete giveaway links or promotional links.
2) Keep things simple and healthy. Avoid recipes with "cream of x soup," processed cheese or corn syrup. Crafts are cool, but unless they help organize or simplify please don't link them.
3) Link back to SimplyMadeHome.This is common blog party courtesy. It also helps build the community of encouragement. Check out other’s posts and leave a comment! It is fun to hear from others.
How to link up to your post? Read below.
Using the Mr. Linky, link back to your specific post, not just your blog.
Example of Format
Your Name: Tara @ SimplyMadeHome (Simple Vinegar Switches)
Your Link:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Husband approved Meatballs!

Meatballs are very all-American, but my  husband was not a meat ball fan until this recipe.  These meatballs are full of flavor and not mushy (a common meatball complaint for him!)  When I make them I freeze half.  (Sadly my boys are now eating so many that freezing half means no leftovers for lunch, but this is a great freezer meal!)  Making croutons is easy!  I save my bread heals and dry buns for our homemade croutons.  It makes me feel less wasteful!  (For a while I had so many bun flops that we had a steady supply!)

2 pounds lean ground meat
1 pound sausage
1 1/2 cups croutons (small)
3 eggs

Mix above ingredients and shape into balls. Place on baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. (Your favorite marinara sauce works great as a dip!)

This post is linked at http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/ http://www.thenourishinggourmet.com/ http://www.foodrenegade.com/

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Good-Mannered Obedience

“The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.”
Charlotte Mason, English educator in the late 19th century

Last month we worked on the habit of manners and obedience. Monday morning when my kiddos came downstairs they found me cutting little charts to tape to the wall.  We had done this a couple of years ago so the kids were familiar with the charts.  We call them “O.K. Dad O.K. Mom” carts.  (Terribly exciting I know.)  The idea is simple: Each time they say “O.K Mom” or “O.K. Dad” They got to color in a square.  “Please put your shoes away.” “O.K. Mom!” “Can you hand me the baby wipes?”  “O.K. Mom!”   We do not require this response from them.  We were encouraging the extra steps they were taking when they acknowledged that they were being spoken to and used self-control in those difficult moments.

When we played this game two years ago I had a prize box and used stickers to fill in the spaces.  Each time they completed a row they got to pick something out of the box.   This time we were much less fancy.  We just used crayons instead of stickers, and we didn’t have a prize box.  (Although my competitive daughter thought it prize enough to beat her brothers to the end of the row!)

We do not expect that our kids always obey without question, as long as they ask questions respectfully and accept the response.  “Hey kids!  It is time to clean up.” “Can I have 5 more minutes, Mom?” Then- whatever my answer-they should respond with self control.   We described this kind of good-mannered obedience as cheerful (Looking back I would have used the word “joyful” not “cheerful”.  “Cheerful” is not always possible-nor is it how we are called to obey.)  quick and complete. If they said “O.K. Dad” but stomped off in anger or never got around to the task, they didn’t get to fill in the square.

The experience was positive for us.  The spirit of obedience and good manners seems to be contagious.  The kids encouraged each other.  I felt like I repeated myself less because I knew that they heard me the first time.  They got into it and made up situations and question in order to get a chance to say “O.K. Mom,” but I was fine with that.  They thought that they were pulling one over on me, but we were working on the attitudes and habit.  The more often they got did it the better!  (The only thing I put a halt on was the competition.)

I have read the articles against obedience.  (Wouldn’t our grandparents have been shocked?)  The argument is that they want their children to learn to think not to obey.  I am not interested in getting too deep into that argument, but only to say that I do not find these two to be mutually exclusive.  Watch my daughter (yes, the competitive one!) receive an instruction and anyone can see her thinking and processing.  Obedience takes thought too, but obedience also takes trust either in the authority or the God who put the authority there. 

I learned a lot from this little exercise.  I must be worthy of the trust I am asking them to have when they don’t understand.  I also realized how many instructions I give my kids.  There are A LOT of things that I ask of them in a day.  It made me appreciate why they might grow tired of hearing my voice.  I experienced the twinge of guilt when they would ask for something and my attitude was not joyful.  I set the example of good manners in my response.  Even more than a silly game, they are watching my response to this as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Make A Move Monday-Simply 10 Wrap Up

Well, it is Make a Move Monday again-as well as July already!  Welcome!

I did not move on to a new room for Simply 10, but ended up back in the kids’ rooms.   We decided to switch bedrooms at our house which was a complete fruit basket upset.  The mess is still alive upstairs, but the positive is all the sorting and simplifying we are getting done along the way.  With the boys moving to a smaller room and our girls moving in together there isn’t room for as much stuff.  
My goal for my family is that we have what we need, use or enjoy, and can manage.  I want to develop good habits of stewardship in myself and kids.  I have learned that simplifying is more than just sorting through stuff.  It is a mindset that I have each time I bring something into my home and every time I go to put something in its place.  If you are thinking of simplifying there are two resources I would recommend.  Tsh Oxenreider’s Book Simply Organized or this Facebook page started by Keeper of the Home.

This is my last Simply 10 post.  Next week I will start a new series called “Rethinking Food.”  I hope that you will join me! 

Did you read the links from last week?  There were some really great ones!  (If you missed any you can go back, but these two were my favorites!  http://www.lifelesshurried.com/2012/06/unplug.html  and http://theredeemedgardener.blogspot.com/2012/06/amazinghydropnics.html.) Thank you so much for those who took the time to link up posts and share with us.  Please let us know what simple move you are making toward healthy living in your home. Link up your blog post, or just leave a comment. Then take time to be inspired from other's link ups and comments.
Please read through the rules for those participating, and thanks for your participation.

1) No linking to giveaways or promotions for affiliates or sponsors. Give aways and promos are great, but they expire. I will delete giveaway links or promotional links.
2) Keep things simple and healthy. Avoid recipes with "cream of x soup," processed cheese or corn syrup. Crafts are cool, but unless they help organize or simplify please don't link them.
3) Link back to SimplyMadeHome.This is common blog party courtesy. It also helps build the community of encouragement. Check out other’s posts and leave a comment! It is fun to hear from others.
How to link up to your post? Read below.
Using the Mr. Linky, link back to your specific post, not just your blog.
Example of Format
Your Name: Tara @ SimplyMadeHome (Simple Vinegar Switches)
Your Link: