Saturday, June 30, 2012

Nutrition, take 2

I so enjoyed the comments you left regarding eating healthy, and wanted to follow up with some responses to what you had to say.

*We frequently eat muffins or breads that have banana/pumpkin puree and/or shredded zucchini, and I honestly haven't considered that contributing to our daily intake of fruits and veggies. I think it's because if it's in a baked good it doesn't seem "pure" enough to count. In a similar vein, the booklet I was given at the workshop listed dry fruit and canned fruits and veggies under serving sizes, and said that all forms (fresh/frozen/canned/dried/100% juice) count. But I guess I'm troubled by the fact that if you read the nutrition stats on the back of those packages, much of what you see are zeros. Another example is commercial applesauce. While it is obviously fruit-based, it lacks the nutrition of whole apples, and I find it hard to count it as a serving of fruit. Hmmm . . . thoughts from anyone else on this?

* I just came across a post about getting kids to eat more veggies, so thought I would share the link here since it was so well-timed. One thing it reminded me of is that sometimes we need to try something more than once to see if we actually like it. I didn't think my kids liked sweet potatoes, and they may not in certain forms. But when I made homemade sweet potato fries recently, they gobbled them up.

*Several people sent spinach smoothie ideas. Thanks. I look forward to trying some of them!

*I noticed a slogan ("more matters") on a bag of carrots and decided to look it up for more info. What a great resource for recipes, tips and just general information about fruits and veggies. I encourage you to check it out! There is a program that teaches kids about eating more fruits and vegetables, and you can print out lots of games and handouts here. There's even an interactive site for kids with some great activities.

Thanks for your comments on this topic. It's interesting and inspiring!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I recently attended a workshop on healthful eating, and I have been more motivated to apply a couple things I took away from it. Though the information was basic, I think it's good to be reminded of certain principles. I know I don't always make the best choices, but I do really like learning about nutrition.

The facilitator suggested incorporating at least two fruits/veggies into each meal, and though that may sound painfully obvious, I have found it a helpful goal, and more easily attainable during this summer season. Since the discussion, I've been trying to be more creative in consuming more fruits and veggies throughout the day. I'm curious, though, how others of you incorporate fruit into breakfast (other than juice). 

I think I may have stumbled onto a spinach smoothie I'm willing to drink, and it's super simple! The other day I wanted a smoothie, but I didn't have much to work with. I remembered I had some orange juice concentrate in the freezer, so I put a couple spoonfuls of that, a little water, and a banana and blended it up. It was delicious and so easy that I did it again the next day. I saw some spinach in the fridge that was on it's way out and threw a handful of that in the second time, and it was delish! I may keep experimenting, but I am happy to have found a combination I like.

Going back to the workshop I went to. . . If you're a label reader, I'm curious what you check for. The facilitator asked that question, and it was fascinating to hear the differences. For instance, I usually check for fiber and sugar; she said she always checks the serving size and ingredient list. So please share--I'm interested to hear!

As a funny sidenote, I think it's neat to see all the colorful fruit and veggie peelings in the compost bucket--it's a good visual reminder to keep eating lots of (natural!) colors. We tend to stick to the same produce most of the time, but I've been branching out a bit lately.

Your turn--how do you incorporate fruit into breakfast? And what do you check for on food labels?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Recipe round-up

I seem to go in spells when I am interested in trying new recipes. I am currently on one of those kicks, and wanted to share some we've recently enjoyed.

Not the healthiest recipe in the world, but I was intrigued by Dorito Chicken Casserole from my new friend Lisa (I omitted the tomatoes.) I had just bought a bag of Doritos for just $2, so it was a good time to try this. It won't make our top-20 list, but everyone liked it.

This isn't really a recipe, but the "watermelon" PB&J from the latest issue of Family Fun magazine is a creative twist on the old classic. Easy to make and the kids thought it was fun. (I couldn't find a link, but you put strawberry jam on top of a triangle-shaped peanut butter sandwich and add raisins for seeds. Green grapes create the rind.)

Our community garden has an abundance of rhubarb and mint that members can help themselves to. My favorite way to use rhubarb is rhubarb strawberry crunch. But a woman from our church also shared a unique rhubarb syrup recipe:

Simmer one cup of diced rhubarb in a little bit of water until soft. Add one small box of strawberry Jello powder and stir. Makes a tasty syrup for pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

As for the mint, I thought it would be neat to make some tea. I stuck about 2 dozen mint leaves in 4 cups of boiling water and let it steep for 15 minutes. Then I added a tablespoon of sugar. It was delicious! I plan to dry some additional mint and freeze it so I can make mint tea this winter.

My other experiMINT (Ha!) was a fruit salad that contained grapes, strawberries and mango (Only the 2nd time I've ever bought a mango--wow, are they hard to cut! I had to watch a YouTube video to figure it out.) The dressing is made of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), a splash of almond extract, and a bit of diced fresh mint. Very unusual flavor, and something we all liked for something different, but we didn't love it.

Another entree we just tried was pasta with white bean sauce.Mine didn't thicken up as expected, so we ate it in bowls. The flavor was delicious, and I liked finding another meatless meal to add to our repertoire, especially since it's a pasta dish Eric and I can both eat. (I usually make two sauces: marinara for me and alfredo with beef for him.)

I also recently tried a "green" smoothie for the second time. I know a lot of people like them, but I haven't found a version I like. This one contained vanilla yogurt, milk, ice, spinach, lime juice and a banana. If you have a green smoothie you think is delicious, I'd be interested to keep trying. Thanks.

Have you tried any new recipes lately?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rear view mirror

When I drove to pick up Monica from the airport a couple months ago, it was a pretty emotional experience for me. She was flying into the city where I was initially hospitalized back in February, and I realized a few miles into the trip that the last time I'd driven to that place was the start of our tumultuous 5 1/2 weeks away from home. I started to cry in the car, overcome with reminders of all the scary things I've just gone through, but also how faithful God has been to all of us.

At one point on the drive to the airport, I looked in the rear view mirror. That simple act reminded that sometimes on a long journey, we need to look behind us and acknowledge where we've been, and where we've come from. I decided on the drive that it was important to me to show Monica the hospital--and for me to see it in a non-urgent situation. The airport was also an emotional trigger for me, because I was taken there by ambulance before being put on a medical plane.

After picking Monica up, we drove to the parking lot of the hospital where Naomi and I spent a week. (The rest of the time we were at Mayo.) I sobbed as we sat together in the car, looking up at the buildings where significant things happened--and so recently. It's common knowledge that I am a "closure person," and that brief and impromptu visit to the outside of the hospital did provide some closure for me.

I don't think I will ever "get over" what happened. It's a part of me now, with even physical evidence to prove it. I told someone shortly after I returned home that I hoped I would never forget certain pieces of the story, but I also don't want to dwell on things too much. That can be a tough balance to strike. Going back to my driving analogy--sometimes we need to check the rear view mirror, but of course we mostly need to keep our eyes focused on what's right in front of us.

photo credit

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hello, cuteness!

A Naomi update:

15 weeks old today
11 pounds!
Just starting to give us precious smiles--this is a little one. I had many failed attempts at capturing a bigger one.
Very healthy--praise the Lord!

Monday, June 11, 2012

In a minute

Sigh. The above phrase ("in a minute") escapes my lips way too often. It's true that there are many instances in which my kids really do need to wait a minute. But there are other times I use it as a (lame) excuse.

I was listening to an oldie but goodie CD not long ago, and some of the lyrics stopped me in my tracks. I needed to be reminded that sometimes I need to put down that "one more thing." I hope these words will also challenge and encourage you!

"There's always just one more thing • There's always another task • There's always I just have one more small favor to ask • And everything is urgent and everything is now • I wonder what would really happen if I stopped somehow • • I'll be there in a minute • Just a few places to go • You wake up a few years later and your kids are grown • And everything is important • But everything is not • At the end of your life your relationships are all you're got • • And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say • I've got something better to do • And love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing and say • Nothing will come between me and you • Not even one more thing • • There will never be an end to • The request upon your time • It's your place to stand up and tell the world • You've got to rest awhile • And everything is important • But everything is not • At the end of your life your relationships are all you've got • • And love to me is when you put down that one more thing and say • I've got something better to do • And love to me is when you walk out on that one more thing and say • Nothing will come between me and you • Not even one more thing" 

"Just One More Thing" by Sara Groves

Friday, June 8, 2012

The ABC's of summer

UPDATE: Too funny--a very similar post went up today on MSM! 

Inspired by a comment on this post, I decided to come up with a list of activities for us to do this summer--one for each letter of the alphabet. We've already completed several of these, and it's nice to have inspiration handy when needed! Some of these require little or no preparation, whereas others are more involved outings.

A--- park (park in a nearby town just to mix things up a bit)
Bowling (via the Kids Bowl Free program)
Charles F. Cheddar Night take two
Dot-to-dot book
Excavating in ice
Flour "I Spy" (hiding toys in a bin of flour and letting kids hunt for them)
Game marathon
Hide and seek
Ice cream shop
Jump on trampoline
Kite flying
Lunch at park
Movie theater (Our local theater usually shows some free summer movies.)
Naomi gifts (Before we went to the hospital, we purchased a gift for each of the older kids "from" Naomi. We still have them wrapped and waiting!
Olympics (I'm thinking we'll have a mini-Olympics sometime during the actual games.)
Quizno's (We have a gift card there, so it would be a fun lunch out sometime.)
Sugar cookies
Umbrella walk on a rainy day
Van movie (watching a movie in the van)
Water balloons
Xplorers baseball game (nearby minor league team)
Yogurt popsicles

I also found some fun ideas in a book my friend Carrie reviewed called Play These Games. The game ideas in the book use common household items. Three simple games we've already played several times:
*Hiding a button (Exactly what it sounds like, but the kids enjoyed it!)
*Popsicle stick toss (Sticks have different designs on them, and you get points based on which sides face up after you toss them. More fun than it probably sounds!)
*Cup towers (Stack 10 or more cups in a tower and kids throw ball at it to knock cups down, sort of like bowling.)

I am looking forward to these fun activities. At the end of the summer, I'll share some highlights from our list!

Photo credit

Monday, June 4, 2012


Thank you to those who commented on Friday's post about responding when others are going through difficult circumstances. A couple of you even wrote to ask for specific ideas for friends who are experiencing trials right now. Though I am certainly not an expert, I definitely appreciate the thoughtfulness being put into reaching out to those around you!

I wanted to follow up with a few additional thoughts to the post. Milissa's comment included a comprehensive list of ideas, based on her experience as she walks alongside her brother who is fighting cancer. Some of the things Milissa shared were pieces I wanted to include in this follow-up post:

Eric and I used CaringBridge during our hospital stay to update friends and family on what was going on. It is a wonderful and free tool that streamlines communication. We also included a post on that site detailing things that we needed so that interested parties didn't have to ask how to help.After returning home, we learned that we could make our CaringBridge entries and guestbook comments into a book. We received the book about a month ago, and it was a humbling and emotional experience to read back through everything.

Milissa also mentioned a site called Take Them a Meal, which (as the name suggests) coordinates the details of bringing meals to a family. Though we did not use a database like this, lots of people blessed us by bringing food over. What a wonderful resource!

I also wanted to mention that I think the words "thinking of you" cover so many situations where it is challenging to find the right words. If you don't know what else to say, letting the person know you're thinking of them really does mean a lot. It acknowledges the person/situation rather than avoiding them, and it is not offensive in any way (as Milissa pointed out, sometimes well-meaning people say things that are insensitive or even preachy).

Thanks for having this conversation with me. I think it's an important topic and one I hope all of us will continue taking to heart. "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Galatians 6:10

Friday, June 1, 2012

3 responses

Last month at MOPS I shared some things I learned during our recent hospital journey, and I wanted to process some of those same thoughts here on my blog.

Before I begin, I want to reiterate what I said to those ladies: that what I challenge in this post is as much for me as it is for anyone else.

I am learning that there are 3 main ways we can respond with someone is going through a difficult situation:

1. We can say nothing/do nothing. Reasons might be that we don't know what to say, we don't think we have time, or we think other people will reach out. I have found this to be very hurtful, and after talking with a few other people about this, I know I'm not alone.

2. We can say, "Let me know if you need anything." While this may very well be genuine, it puts the person receiving that message in a tricky spot. It's hard to know if the person offering really means it, or how/when they might be willing to help. I have heard that statement dozens of times over the past months, and I can think of only a couple times that I actually contacted someone who'd said to let them know if I needed help.

3. But the third response, and the one I challenge us all to aspire to, is to DO SOMETHING INTENTIONAL AND SPECIFIC. Friends and family reached out in so many amazing ways before, during and after our hospital stay. Here are some examples:
*Childcare--Caring for Nathan and Natalie while we were away is definitely the most sacrificial gift we received, and we again express gratitude to my parents and Eric's mom. We also had several friends here who gave my parents a break now and then by inviting our kids over to play.
*Food--several people brought meals here to the house, either for our family to enjoy in our absence, or for us to have once we got home. We were also blessed with several people who brought us homemade food during our hospital stay. As a patient, my meals were covered, but food expenses for Eric would have been much higher if his sister, Kendra, and others hadn't identified this practical need.
*Communication--Every email and piece of mail we received was a treasured reminder that though we were far from home, we were being thought of and lifted in prayer!
*Outside the box--A dear friend ordered Eric's and my favorite candy bars and magazines and had the hospital gift shop deliver them to our room. Another blessed me with a haircut certificate at the local beauty school. (This was such a lovely idea to be pampered, and it made me cry, because I was supposed to get my hair cut the VERY day that I wound up in the hospital.) Monica made a really neat mobile with prayer requests on it that is still hanging in our dining room window.

If you would like some additional inspiration of ways you can reach out to others, this list is awesome. Though it's intended for moms with new babies, I think many of the suggestions have a much wider appeal.

Going through this trial has made me want to be more intentional in reaching out to others, so as I said initially, this is a challenged I need to be reminded of. I'm curious to read your responses to this post.