The Wrestlings of a Mama’s Heart

I love Jesus and my boys play  first person shooter games.

There, I said it.

I’m pretty sure some of you have  instant thoughts about that and I’d like you to keep reading.  Please?  Because when I had littles with the blondest little ragamuffin hair and tiny chiclet teeth and the biggest blue eyes I was quite certain they would never play first person shooter games.  But here we are and I’m trying to be brave in saying it so, hear me out? (And insert how you felt about that formula commercial regarding mommy wars, m’kay?)

Was this my dream for my boys?  That they’d grow up wanting to play war games?  No.  But also, sort of?

When I was a kid we played cops and robbers for hours.  We had sheriff badges and cowboy boots and pretend guns.  Which we aimed directly at each other.  We had bandanas tied around our necks or covering our faces, depending which role we were playing.  We had some sort of rope to tie each other up when we were caught and if we got shot and didn’t fake die the most dramatic fake death possible then it was almost certain you didn’t get to play the next time.

So did I dream of them shooting people?  Not exactly.  But did I imagine they’d have a childhood similar to mine?  Yeah, kind of.  And this involved fake weaponry.

For the record, they DO NOT look like this anymore!

For the record, they DO NOT look like this anymore!

I get that might be a bit of a stretch for some of you.  Sure.  But we dress our kids up like pirates too, right?  Maybe have it as a birthday party theme.  (I’ve seen the plates and napkins at the dollar store so SOME of you must be doing it!)  We do know what pirates represent, right?

Now, do I think for any reason that your child who is donning a hook and an eyepatch is somehow going to make raping and pillaging their mission in life?  No.  I don’t.

But for some reason saying we own Call of Duty or Ghost Recon or Halo or Ghostbusters or whatever else game they have which involves war or blowing up aliens or ghosts means that my kid might be the next gun wielding high school shooter and I have to argue that it’s just not the case, as your child with the hook isn’t about to set sail on the high seas.

I’ve read the stats. I’ve done the research.  I’ve scoured through every university study multiple times and this is where I land.

Is this where I think you should land?  Not for a second.

I land here only because I know my boys.  They are happy, silly goofballs who like to have kitchen dance parties with me.  They are kind and well mannered (mostly) and are high functioning members of society.  They contribute to their schools, are part of teams and clubs, volunteer for local charities and have never owned a trench coat.

Would I reassess if they were drawn to dark and moody?  If they would lock themselves away for hours at a time?  If they wouldn’t talk to me about life or what’s happening at school or if I saw that their friends were starting to paint their fingernails black and listen only to musicians who have killed themselves?

I would.  Of course.

In fact, I reassess every Saturday morning when they ask if they can play.  I reassess the kind of week they’ve had and if they can handle this.  I reassess if aggression has come out amongst each other.  I reassess the websites they’ve looked at.

But when all I find in their history is funny hamster memes, I tend to cut them some slack.  When their instagram profile reads, “I love my family and my friends but most of all Jesus Christ, my Saviour and Redeemer”  I tend to think that this isn’t going to turn them into the next news story.

To those of you not grasping this at all, I get it.  I was there.  Some days I still am, I’ll admit it.  This isn’t an easy decision nor one I take lightly and I wrestle back and forth with it constantly.

I also wrestle with the fact that God sent Israel to wipe out the Caananites.  Not that I’m comparing the two events but the wrestle is similar.  It doesn’t sit easy in my gut, nor should it.  It causes reassessment and prayer and a deeper look into God’s character, all good things.  Same with my boys.  The not sitting easy brings reassessment and  prayer and a deeper look into their character.

I’m not going to say it’s my favourite when I walk in the room and I see them all intense and directing each other which way to go and I look at the screen and all I see is the barrel of a gun.  It’s not.  So, I get it.

But I think we can tend to overcomplicate things.

Just because your 3 year old is donning a bikini does not make her sexually provocative and likewise, because a boy wants to shoot things on a screen does not make him a killer.

I definitely played my fair share of Duck Hunt back in the day and I can honestly say I’ve never felt the urge to take that to the ponds.

No more little teeth and cute bellies either.

No more little teeth and cute bellies either.

Remember, my kids are big.  Like teenage boys with facial hair and man voices kind of big.  This did not start when they were little and didn’t understand that Dora and Diego were not real people.  It didn’t.  Because remember all the stats I’ve read?

I won’t for a second admit that I understand the male mind.  I don’t understand war movies or find robots with huge canons for arms enticing.  I don’t grasp the appeal of the light sabre,  (for the record, my boys had to be 9 before watching Star Wars.  9, people!!) and I will never ever ever understand why they want to hold that controller in their hands for multiple hours a day on a useless game called Minecraft. I don’t get it.  I just don’t.  It’s madness!  (For the record, my husband thinks my ideals of them wanting nothing more than to drink tea and bake with me is as crazy as I think them playing these games is!)

This is when they would drink tea and bake with me like it was the greatest thing in the world!

This is when they would drink tea and bake with me like it was the greatest thing in the world!

Which is why I also don’t understand why boys like to go to the gun range and shoot targets over having a bubble bath with essential oils.  I don’t grasp the hunting of animals, even if you are going to have it for dinner.  I can’t figure out why one would choose to have welts all over their body after a non-obligatory game of paintball.  I don’t understand wanting to be a police officer.   I just don’t.

So of course I won’t understand why every single boy in the flipping universe wants to sit in front of the screen and be a part of a war scene and blow the enemy to bits.  I just won’t.

But I’ve come to see that it’s not all bad.  There was a day both in bible times and in the last century when boys were prepared for war, not by choice.  They understood battle.  They knew that it was a duty and an obligation and it was them working for the protection of others.  For the protection of their homes and their loved ones.

Our boys (thank the Lord) don’t have that.  But I have no doubt they have those same feelings inside.  Feelings of wanting to do right for the good side by obliterating the bad.  Feelings of wanting to protect what you hold dear.  Feelings of rising to the occasion and being seriously scared but taking it on anyways because this is what you do.

But our boys don’t have that in North America in 2015.  They don’t.

They have video games.

My boys, anyways.  They do.

 

** before I get all the angry messages, my boys time is moderated, they also play mario kart and wii sports, they are not at all violent in any way, shape or form outside of this video game and since letting them start to play their attitudes and actions have not changed one bit.  They don’t drink, do drugs or smoke.  They don’t paint their fingernails black and though they sometimes listen to Nirvana they also sing all the worship songs at church so I’m pretty sure it balances out.  Yes, we are concerned about violence  in movies and games when it comes to our children but we’re also concerned about lust (which is why none of them have seen any of the Transformers movies), pride, anger, greed, defamation of the Lord God, and most of all their hearts.  It’s always their hearts.  If this one video game changed their hearts then it would be gone in a snap.  It hasn’t.  And that’s all I have to say about that.

Oh, except that if you have children younger than the teenager years, I know.  You’ll never, ever let your kids play it.  I know.  I get it.  Me too.

 

(Remember there’s a giveaway going on! Want a copy of my favourite book? Go comment to be entered!)

A Make and Give {plant version} plus a GIVEAWAY!!

The gift to make and the giveaway all in one photo!

The gift to make and the giveaway all in one photo!

The morning is shining bright around here and revealing all of the dirty smeared across the windows.  The music is playing and I’m scrubbing that spot behind the kitchen sink that gets all kinds of gross caked up and sort of only gets a half hearted wipe each day.

And while I’m scouring like my life depended on it and I’m singing the tunes in my running gear (because if you put your running gear on in the morning, the likelihood of you ACTUALLY going for a run is greater) I thought to myself, it seems like a day to give stuff away!

So I’ve got two things for you today.  First, a simple little hostess gift idea or a birthday gift for that friend who likes a little quirk or just something to give your mom because you like her.  And second, a book giveaway! (which, I admit I used as a prop in shooting pictures of the gift because this book is THE perfect colour, but that’s not why I want to give it to you!)

First things first, you know when you’re at a thrift store and you see the most beautiful china and you think things like, I love this but I don’t need one tea cup, well, I’m telling you, buy that beauty for the $1.99 that it is and tuck it away until you need it.

‘Cause that’s what I do.

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Then, when I suddenly had the urge to make some gifts this week, I pulled them out and got to work.  Actually, I should backtrack and say that earlier in the morning I had wandered through our local garden store looking for Hyssop.

Did you know that Hyssop branches are what they used to smear the blood around the door posts during passover?  And what they threw into the fire when they were sacrificing the perfectly spotless red heifer in Deuteronomy?  And what they used to offer up a sponge for Jesus to drink from when He was on the cross?

Hyssop branches have enamoured me in my readings this week and I wanted to feel and smell the real deal.  But alas, I couldn’t find any.  What I did find were some gorgeous succulents on the clearance table.  So I scooped them up with my pocket change and headed on home.

This is a gift so easy anyone can do it.  It goes like this.

Plunk succulent into tea cup.  The end.

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Now go!  Make one for someone you think is pretty awesome!

Oh wait, not yet.  First – giveaway!

I was scouring for a certain no-longer-in-print book at all the charity shops in town and while I had no luck in finding it, I did come across the book that gave me my biggest YES!! moment when it came to parenting.  No other book I’d read had ever quite put into words what I was feeling I wanted to give my littles and how I wanted our little family to be.  How to cultivate what I wanted.  What my heart longed for.

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I think I nodded my head through the entire reading of this book.  Passages like,

“A mobile is a moving, changing collection of objects constantly in motion, yet within the framework of a form.  The framework of a family gives form, but as one starts with a man and a woman, a mother and a father, there is never any one day following another when these two, plus the children that came through adoption or birth into the home, are either the same age or at the same point of growth.  Every individual is growing, changing, developing or declining – intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically and psychologically.  A family is a group of individuals affecting each other  intellectually, emotionally, spiritually, physically, psychologically.”

…made my heart and head scream yes!  This is it!  Each day we’re moving in and around and amongst each other and we’re affecting every part of each other in this family.  So how are we going to affect them?  We can do it positively or horribly negatively.

And then she goes and says things like,

“What is a family?  A family is a mobile.  A family is an art form.  A family is an exciting art career, because an art form needs work.”

*sigh*  Beautifully true, right?

And if you don't want to read the book its great to use as a decorating prop underneath jugs of flowering branches!  But read it.  Really.  Do.

And if you don’t want to read the book its great to use as a decorating prop underneath jugs of flowering branches! But read it. Really. Do.

And if you ever felt like being a parent is a tiresome thankless job she encourages immensely with statements like,

“A thankless job?  And undignified slave?  No, a most exciting possibility of turning the tide, of saving the species [of family], of affecting history, of doing something that will be felt and heard in ever-widening circles.”

She speaks of our role as being perpetual relayers of truth, of creating an ecologically balanced environment, of being the formation centre of human relationships, of being the curator of the museum of family memories!  She talks of opening up the world of art and culture to our children, of creativity and music, of showing the beauty in the world around them and the work it takes to cultivate a garden.

I could go on and on.  Obviously.  I love this book.  I love the emphasis she puts on family.  I love the creativity she explains in creating one and cultivating hearts and making a museum of memories.  This book is where I got the name for this very blog.  Never static.  She says, “Family.  A human art form.  An ever-changing mobile that takes years, even generations, to produce.  But which is never finished.  Never Static.”

So when I saw this book on the shelf I knew I had to snatch it up to give to you.  As the day panned out, I found TWO copies!  Two!  What are the odds?  It made me positively giddy.

So I have two copies to give to two of you lovelies!

Just leave a comment below telling me what you love to do on a sunny day!  Apparently, judging by today,  I clean.  Hopefully you have something better!

Winners will be chosen (by random number selector) on Saturday March 7, 2015 so leave your comment before that!  And tell your friends, because if they win they might just let you borrow it!

**The fine print.  Winners must be in Canada or U.S.A simply because I can’t afford shipping costs any further than that.  Sorry international friends!  Also, as noted above this book is currently out of print which means these are used books.  They are in great condition but, as it is with used books, there may be some tattered corners and a few underlined sentences.  Which personally, I love.  But just so  you know.

Marriage and Mountaintops

We reach the precipice of the mountain, the spot where we can see for miles. The gorgeous mountains frame the picturesque valley below, the squares of farmland and the river running right through the middle.

We proclaim the beauty. We marvel at the grandeur.  We stare off in silence, taking it all in announcing, “Isn’t it amazing?!”

It is – truly amazing. The incredible surroundings make us pause.

But the truth is that if we look closely, past all the beauty, there’s some ick too.

To be honest, the river is a weird shade of brown. The grassy fields are brown this season. There’s a highway dissecting our view. Right at our feet there’s a rotting apple core and discarded coffee cups.

Continue Reading…

I’m over at the Family Life website today talking marriage!  Click the link above to keep reading.

 

Incorporating Healthy Touch in the Lives of your Teenagers

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There was a day I decided I should probably be a hugger.  It seemed to be what all the ladies do when they greet each other and maybe I was weird for standing just far enough away that we didn’t have to enter the embrace.  I’m pretty sure it happened upon entering my 30’s, about the same time when I couldn’t decide what stores were appropriate for me to buy clothing from.

Upon trying the hug thing and feeling insane doing so, I realized I’m better to just be who God made me to be and greet people without a hug, no apologies!

Of course, as happens, I’ve grown over the years and I’ve learned to appreciate that in the same way I don’t need to be hugged to feel loved, huggers do.  And so, when they start to go for it, I lean in and give it right back.  For them.  And it’s fine.  Because huggers aren’t all awkward and weird when they hug they just go for it and hold on tight and it’s a good thing.  It’s us non-huggers who make it all weird and which side do I go on and do I pat or just hold on and i’m backing away now….

Anyways, it turns out that I have one child who is just like me (we call him the touch-a-phobe), one child who is happy to share the love but wouldn’t need it especially and one who needs all the possible touching that could happen in any given day.  Back rubs and scalp massages and snuggled up way too close and still climbs right atop my lap even though he’s nearly as tall as I am.

I was thinking about it last night because for some of my bigs, touch has become an increasingly small part of their life.  There are some days between school and friends and sports, that I only see them for an hour or two in a day.  They no longer get tucked into bed where we would naturally stroke their hair and kiss their forehead.  They no longer snuggle up while we’re watching a movie and they certainly don’t lean in for a hug on their way out of the car and into the land of high school.

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But, I’ve surmised,  there has to be ways to incorporate good, natural and healthy touch into a teenagers day anyway.  Because I’m their mom and they might not need it but maybe I do.  (Because I miss them crawling up on my lap when they’re hurt and my touch having the power to make it all better!) And I’m kinda betting they do to, they just won’t admit it!  But it doesn’t come natural to me and so I work to incorporate it.  Here are a few ways I’ve come up with!

The quick back rub or arm touch

When my almost a man size boy comes into the kitchen on any given morning I try to reach out and give him a quick rub across the back and say good morning.  He doesn’t even notice that I’m doing it but it’s there.

When I have something funny or exciting to stay I’ll stop my kids and grab hold of their shoulders and have them look me straight in the eye.  The touch is there, but without feeling forced or weird.

If I have something sad or serious to say I’ll just reach out and touch their arm for a second so they know they need to listen.

Hugs as thanks

Many moons ago when my kids were horrible at saying thank you for dinner I made it a strict rule that no one leaves the kitchen without doing a few things.  First, you clean up your own dishes.  Second, you come right up to me and you hug me and say thank you for the dinner.

I don’t care if it’s a side hug or a quick draped arm around my shoulders or a full on embrace but you will not walk away without taking the time to acknowledge the person who just fed you.  Having to hug took away the ability they had at yelling to me on their way out of the room.  It took away the possibility of being able to bellow it from the next room if they forgot.  It forced them to have to show their appreciation up close and personal.  Now, it’s second nature.  They clean up and they hug and thank me.  I hope they always do.

Scalp Massages (aka Lice checks)

So, we had our fair share of lice in this house through my kids elementary school years.  It’s quite possibly the grossest thing in the entire world but the part of it my kids LOVE is when I have to pick through their hair for days on end making sure every last egg is gone.

We haven’t dealt with this for years now but every now and then they’ll still ask for what we’ve grossly and lovingly called Lice checks!  It means they lay on the couch with their head in my lap, or they sit down on the floor in front of me and I go through the process of checking their head.  Behind their ears and to the nape of their neck, all the way across their scalp and up to their forehead.

Of course, they no longer need me to be checking for lice as the days of close heads and shared ball caps are over, but they do appreciate the feeling of someone running fingers through their hair.  And let’s all agree we’d rather it be me than another girl!

The Tackle

This is my favourite and we only pull it out when it’s a perfect moment.  It’s when we full on embrace the touch-a-phobe when he’s least expecting it.  When he’s just standing there and we have every opportunity to wrap our arms around him tight enough so that he can’t get away.  To us it’s hilarious.  To him, it’s parents being weirdos.  But we’re cool with that.

We always end up laughing together.  The way he instantly freezes is remarkable and his thought process of, just don’t move and it will end sooner, don’t say anything or she’ll just keep going, kills me and it’s become a joke amongst us.  I wouldn’t do it if he didn’t laugh about it or hasn’t come to expect it every now and then.

These are things we’ve simply come up with and are trying.  Do you have any other ones?  How do you make sure your kids are getting enough good and healthy touch in the teenage years?  I’d love some more ways!

 

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Where I Propose that we be World Changers

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I was sitting in a local coffee shop and I accidentally overheard a girl at the table next to me talking to a friend about how another friend had tried to compare their hurts and put them on a level playing field.   Coffee shop girl was mad because how dare friend X say her hurt was just as bad.  They weren’t even close.  *insert eye roll and judgement*

I’m not going to lie, I had a moment of wanting to be that crazy old(er) lady who marched over to the table and gave a little speech on hurt and how everyone’s is a big deal to them and how dare we dismiss what may seem like a major to our friend just because it seems like a minor to us.

I didn’t.  Because I’m not THAT crazy.  (hush) But I haven’t been able to shake the thought ever since.

Actually, it’s been even more than that.  It’s been tumbling around in my brain multiple times a day.  I’ve started writing blog posts about it in my head a million times.  I wake up in the night thinking about it.

I wasn’t sure why it bothered me so much.  It was a strangers conversation that I wasn’t even supposed to be privy to.  Why was I letting it get to me?

Well, the truth of it is, I’ve had a bit of a rough couple weeks myself.  I haven’t shared it on here because some things that are going on aren’t my story to share but rather things I’m just walking alongside.  Some probably feeling overwhelming in this moment but next will be gone.  Some have no conclusive answers just yet and so I don’t want to jump the gun on what might be nothing.

But when I awoke last night I was hit with, what I think, is the real answer.

The reason I’m not sharing is because what if people think my hurt isn’t as bad as their hurt?  What if I speak the words and then they say something like, “Oh, that’s all?”  Or what if they start comparing it to their hurt or someone they know’s hurt and what if they try and diminish it with a pithy, “It could be so much worse.”

I’m willing to accept that all of those could happen.  I’m willing to agree that there is a lot more going on in the world just now that is more tragic than my hurt.  I’m willing to admit the phrase, “At least noone’s dying!”  But the thing is, none of those ease the pain.  My pain.  Because it’s mine.  And you don’t know what it feels like as I can’t know exactly what yours feels like but I do know that whatever it is you’re feeling, it’s real, man.  Because mine is real.  Even though no one is dying.

There’s so much talk these days about stopping the mommy wars and I’d like to up the anti to the stopping of all the wars.  Let’s stop the my-hurt-is-greater-than-your-hurt wars and the my-calling-is-greater-than-your calling wars and the honest to goodness real life WARS!

Of course, as long as human are humans and we’re operating in this world with hearts that are prone to selfishness, none of the above will happen.  As long as we have minds that feel like our ways are right and our opinions THE way, there can’t ever be peace in any of it.

But I want to propose just one little facet that I want us to change.

Can we let people’s hurt be their hurt?

That’s all.  Just let them feel it.  Let them know that we get that it’s hard.  Allow them to hear us say that we can only imagine what it must feel like.  That we don’t understand but we can see that it hurts and we’re so sorry.

Can we let them know that the pain that they’re experiencing just now is real and true and hard.  Really, really hard.  Can we skip comparing it to something that we think is harder?  Or explaining alongside of their hurt all of the other things in the world that are causing hurt?

Because if there’s one thing I know, it’s that my hurt doesn’t feel less just cause someone tells me that someone else is hurting more.

Can we agree that there is no hurt-o-meter we can hook up to that will show us exactly where our hurt ranks on the charts?  There is no tear counter that can tell us just how many drops have fallen down our face and considering that person over there had more, just ease up a little bit, would ya?

There are a million things that people are going through right now.  There are diseases that are deadly and some that are debilitating and some that will go away but we just don’t know when.  There are little eyes watching their parents fight and hearts that are wondering if it is all their fault.  There are jobs lost and homes foreclosed upon and family members who haven’t spoken to each other in a very long time.  There are people harming people, not just across the globe but in our neighbours houses.  Harming with their words and their hands and with the choices they’re making in their life.  There are children who don’t know love and seniors who’s families are too busy to stop by for a visit.  There is bullying and gossip and someone made to feel like they don’t fit in or they aren’t enough and they’ll never be just the right size.  There are spouses who break vows and find pleasure in another, there are cars slamming into one another exactly right now and there are people sitting next to hospital beds talking softly to their loved one not knowing if they can even hear.

R.E.M. hit the nail on the head when they sang the lyrics that everybody hurts…..sometimes.

Don’t tell me that each person in these situations isn’t hurting their greatest hurt and doesn’t feel the maximum amount of pain.  Don’t tell me that one isn’t as big of a deal than another, that one shouldn’t be making such a big deal of it, that maybe they should look at what’s going on over THERE and then they’d see they really don’t have it that bad.

Hurt is not quantifiable.  It can’t be measured and how dare we.  How dare we.

We’re never told in scripture to make someone feel better by diminishing their hurt.  We’re never told to show them something worse so they can chin up.  It’s never said that one persons circumstantial pain is greater than anothers.

No, we’re told to love and to do it well and to give it all our hearts.  (Mark 12:31) We’re told to weep alongside the weeping. (Romans 12:15)  We’re told that we are not to measure ourselves by one another.  (2 Corinthians 10:12)

Whatever hurt people are walking in just now is quite possibly their biggest hurt and yours is quite possibly your biggest hurt.  The situations do not determine the level!  Rather, the hurt each one is feeling is the only indicator of how we are to behave towards one another.

Let it be for them as bad as it is without comments or comparison.  Simply wrap your arms of love around them and make sure they know that from you there is nothing but compassion, nothing but understanding, nothing but acceptance of all the feelings.

To each one it is that bad.  And yours may come one day too.  I guarantee that, “Oh that’s all?!  Well, so and so is going through so much more…” are not the words you’ll want to hear.

 

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Happy {almost} Love Day!

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I admit there was a time when I needed to be showered with gifts.  They were the language of love to my very heart and soul and though I might state, most emphatically, that I don’t need anything – in the back of my heart and soul that just meant I really really REALLY needed something.

It’s funny how love grows and changes and we grow and change.  I use to sabotage these days by expecting the above and beyond.  Sometimes it happened and sometimes it didn’t.  I’d find a way to ruin it either way.

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But with Valentine’s Day knocking on our doorstep I got to thinking about what I really want.  I sent my hubs a quick text this morning that said something along the lines of, please don’t stress.  Flowers are triple the price and I’m not eating sugar just now and I don’t need any gifts that stress me out because, budget!

And I meant it.  From the bottom and top and every single side of my heart.

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I told him what I needed this year was to have coffee together in the morning as we sit by the fire and simply talk.  I want to cook a big and delicious breakfast for our growing boys and enjoy it together.  I want to spend the day just being.  Nothing different then any other Saturday except maybe peppered with a few more random kisses and the thoughts of doing the dishes or sweeping the floor or wiping the table so that the other person doesn’t have to.

As we’ve grown in our lives and in our love I’ve realized that what completely melts my heart these days are acts of service.  Make me coffee and I’ll melt.  Fill my truck up with gas so that I don’t have to get out in the rain and do it – well, that one just makes me swoon.  Strip the bed of all linens and throw them in the wash?  That one confused me last weekend and I thought maybe I’d neglected to do it recently and he noticed something about it that I hadn’t.  But no, he said he was being proactive.  Hello, if that isn’t love then I just don’t know what is!

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Don’t get me wrong, I still get just a touch sappy about the day and adorn the house with minimalist inspired hearts and cinnamon candies and red and white striped straws.

But what speaks to my heart has changed and I’m glad I was able to think that through and share it.  Does your love know what speaks to your heart?  If not, do them the favour of telling them so we don’t have to sabotage anymore!

And because I love YOU, here’s a recipe we’ll be making for breakfast tomorrow.  The most mouth watering, make your kitchen smell wonderful, even your kids with dietary restrictions can eat them waffles.  That take 5 minutes to mix.  THAT’s how much I love you.

Best waffle recipe ever!

Happy Love Day, Friends!

**Don’t forget to join the party over on Facebook!

Changing your Cupbords {Gluten and Dairy free}

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Invest in some cookbooks with great pictures to help you!

 

 

It’s been a solid 3 years since our boy has been eating gluten and dairy free but the truth of the matter is, we knew long before that it was a problem for him.

When he was an infant I visited a naturopath for his chronically drippy nose and irritable nature.  As I was nursing him at the time it was advised that I eat completely wheat/soy/dairy free to see the effect it had on him.  This is 13 years ago people and the selection of products to choose from was nothing less than disgusting.

I lasted an entire week and found myself starving and grumpy.

The doctor advised a certain formula that I could put him on that was gluten/soy/dairy free and so, though it cost a fortune, it’s the route we chose.

Within days he was better.  As he grew we put him onto goat’s milk and as he continued to grow we kinda just forgot about it.  He seemed fine enough.  Sure, he had lots of tummy aches and chronic sniffles but as a busy mom with very little info and options I just didn’t know what to do.

Round up as many jars as you can from a local thrift store to house all of your new flours!

Round up as many jars as you can from a local thrift store to house all of your new flours!

 

It was 3 years ago now, when he was 10, that he and I made the choice that we would make the switch together.  When a child is of logical age I think it’s important that they be a part of the decision.  If I simply told him he was going to eat this way, he would likely resent me and every food he was eating.  But he made the decision to try eating differently and I made a vow to try and cook yummy things that he could eat.

I was so happy that it worked so well for him that I started to alter all of the ingredients in our cupboards, fridge and freezer!  It’s a difficult process as it’s extremely costly to purchase everything all at once but we started to shift gradually and over the years, research, trial and error, and new products mean we just keep trying!

I thought I’d share a few of the major changes we made straight off the bat in case any of you find yourself where we are.

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Stock your cupboards with only pure herbs and spices. No more blends or mixes as they contain soy and wheat filler.

 

Meat:

Buy nothing that is preseasoned.  There are GF options but they often still contain soy (which we avoid). We simply started buying plain meat and seasoning it ourselves so we know what’s on it!  The benefit of this is that it’s usually a cheaper option to buy plain chicken breasts, or pork tenderloins or whatever it is you like.  It also means reducing fillers in your food which is always a win!

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Epicure has blends that are GF! Also great for making your own salad dressings and dips for special occasions.

 

Fresh Ingredients:

I think it’s important to remember that food from the earth is mostly gluten free!  So stock your fridge with tons of fresh veggies and fruits!  Fill growing boys up with eggs, potatos, apples and bananas!  It’s important to focus on what you CAN eat instead of always feeling upset with what you can’t.

Dairy:

We simply minused a few things from our diet, yogurt being the biggest.   Upon really thinking about it, yogurt didn’t hold a place of nutrition in our diet anyways.  It’s pretty sugary and yummy, but that’s about it.  So it was an easy nix.  We tried ALL of the coconut and almond milk replacements as a substitution but the boy didn’t like any of them.  I can’t blame him.  When you want milk, you want milk.  We found that lactose-free milk suits his stomach just fine and so he uses this option for drinking and I use a variety of coconut and almond milks for cooking.  Again, we avoid soy as it’s a highly modified product and I don’t like what I’ve read about its effect on children who consume too much of it.  (And considering it’s in EVERYTHING, we’re consuming a lot of it even when we don’t know it!)

Breads:

When you’re starting out, just nix it!  If you go straight from a fresh baguette to a frozen loaf of rice bread you will think it’s gross.  However, after two weeks without and adjusting your palette to this new way of eating, the frozen option will seem like a treat!  My boy likes Udi’s brand of bread/buns the best.  I’ve found it to be one of the better options health wise as well.  Watch certain brands – I’ve read sugar as a first ingredient in many options!

Coconut nectar is a delicious low-glycemic sweetener, coconut sauce is a soy sauce replacement and basically just coconut everything fills our cupboards!

Coconut nectar is a delicious low-glycemic sweetener, coconut sauce is a soy sauce replacement and basically just coconut everything fills our cupboards!

Cereals:

While we’re (and by we, I mean me!) working at minusing cereal from our cupboards, it’s been a slow process.  The problem is, it’s a great snack.  The other problem is, there’s nothing good about it!  Most cereals contain so much sugar it’s ridiculous as well as chemical upon chemical.  We will opt for the Nature’s Path varieties when we need a treat.  Gorilla Munch seems to be the cereal of choice around here and it only has 3 ingredients.  Score!

Flours:

I’ve tried every single (I think!) pre-packaged gluten free flour out there and I must say I don’t like any of them.  Most are quite chalky and have an undesirable texture as well as taste.  I found that for regular baking, mixing my own all purpose gluten free flour is the best way to go.  I simply keep a large jar of it at the ready for things like cookies and muffins.

My favourite recipe for treats is this one.

It may not be the most healthy but sometimes a cookie just needs to be a cookie, amiright?!

I realize this is just a start but if you’re just beginning the journey, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and you needn’t be.  I assure you we are not doing this because its trendy.  I would happily fill my cupboards will all things flour based if I could but I know, for our family, it’s a foolish choice.  

Ironically, our cupboards will be changing again very shortly as it seems the more you steer away from wheat, the more corn and grains you ingest.  These may be a problem for my boy so we’re starting a new way, yet again.  Once I’ve learned to navigate the art of a more grain free/Paleo diet, I’ll share that too!

If you have any questions feel free to leave it in the comments.  I realize I’ve done this for a long time so I’m probably forgetting many things!

I’ll finish off with a few of my favourite websites for you to go and peruse.  These have changed my life.

Gluten Free Gobsmacked – I use her all purpose flour recipe to bake with

Mennonite Girls Can Cook Gluten Free – everything I’ve made from here is amazing!

My make at home granola

Danielle Walker -  is my new obsession.  Try it.  You’ll love it!

 

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