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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Positive Discipline

When we had our first baby there was a LOT of pressure to do things the way that everyone in our circle was doing things, as I'm sure many of you know what that's like.  And it doesn't stop, either.

Around every corner there's pressure to conform - pressure to just go with what everyone else is doing instead of doing what we truly believe is right for us and our children.
co-sleeping, "positive discipline"
Co-sleeping (on purpose) was definitely not a popular choice among those I was hanging with at the time.
So when my little Cuters was born, my natural instinct was to raise him more aligned with the attachment parenting philosophy.  We were pretty by-the-book (The Baby Book, that is) with him.

Then as he got older and we had to start disciplining him, it got a lot hazier.  I had read The Successful Child, Dr. Sears' answer to that dilemma, but I was still struggling....a lot.

I was listening to the myriad of other parental voices (many of which I respected a lot) that had oh so much advice for me (of which I'm shamelessly guilty of doling out my fair share), and I couldn't tell if my instincts were just wrong and I needed a different approach.

Or maybe attachment parenting was good for the first year, but after that it needing revising.  I didn't know.  (Nor am I out to change your opinion if you're adamantly opposed.)
"positive discipline"
Well, I think the real problem was just that I hadn't understood exactly how all this positivity got my kid to stop climbing on top of the table.  It seemed way too permissive for me, and I ended up letting my children have the run of the house.

As Dr. Jane Nelson says,
"I was so permissive until I couldn't stand my kids anymore, so I became so strict that I couldn't stand myself anymore."  
Have you so been there?  Oh my freaking goodness, that describes the last 7 years of my life, quite well.  I was a bit of a flip flopper.

So we were talking with a new friend, Tracy, about this topic, and she mentioned the philosophy of parenting called Positive Discipline (I HIGHLY recommend following this link to learn more about it).  It's not exactly connected to Attachment Parenting, but it's approach to discipline is very similar.

The basic premises are:
1.  Be kind but firm
2.  Help children feel a sense of belonging and significance
3.  The tools work longterm (short term is not the immediate goal)
4.  Gives valuable social and life skills for good character
5.  Children develop a sense that they are capable
I don't always remember the exact formulas that she gives to solve problems, but what has stuck with me is to always treat my children with respect because they are, afterall, people, too, who all deserve and desire it.

I don't let them have total free reign, either.  I give them a framework, and they are free to make choices that I give them within that framework. For example:
Tiger:  What's for dinner?
Me: Grilled chicken legs, grilled broccoli, and grilled avocado
Tiger:  I don't want any of that.
Me:  That's fine.  You don't have to eat it.  You can probably make it until breakfast and be just fine.
Tiger:  Well, I want the avocado.
Do you see both the kindness and the firmness?  I wasn't nagging him to try anything or forcing him to eat anything that he didn't want to eat, but I also wasn't going to go cook a second dinner just for him.

I'm so incredibly excited about this, and it just totally fits in with the foundation that Michael and I had already set for our family.  It just feels right, and that gives me so much peace and hope for our future.

I hope to be writing more about it in the near future.  I hope it helps someone!

P.S. If you go to her website, she's got a resource for everyone - books, podcasts, audiobooks, videos, online classes, phone app, CDs/DVDs, you name it.  Plus, she has resources for TEACHERS!!!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Grinding Wheat

So...grinding wheat...yay!!!!  Right?!  You've GOT to be excited about this.  Hehe.

In all seriousness, when I started grinding wheat, I felt LIBERATED from processed foods!  Do you know how many things that say WHOLE WHEAT aren't really!?  It drives me crazy how the food companies try to be so sneaky to hide the fact that their food is not as whole as they claim.  There is "enriched" or "refined" flour in almost everything (not a true stat - just me blabbing).

So when I started grinding my own wheat, I knew that I was getting the most nutrition possible out of my flour since I freeze it right after I grind it.  All of the beneficial oils weren't drying out on the shelves or worse yet, spoiling.

Anytime I have a recipe that calls for flour, I use my whole wheat flour.  My kids are used to the taste, and I feel great about it.  (Hint: if your kids aren't used to it, then you can start with half whole wheat and half white flour.)

I told you yesterday how I buy my wheat berries, and now I'll show you how I grind it.

I started out with a used grinder like this one:
I bought it used and used it for a while until I got a Vitamix.  Then I sold it since it was redundant to have that and a Vitamix.

Now I have a Vitamix with a Dry Container (very important - it's different than a regular container).

The grinding of said wheat is so incredibly simple that it's almost silly for me to show you how, but hey, you may not know, right?

1)  Set up my Vitamix with the DRY CONTAINER.
2)  Pour about 2 cups of wheat berries into the dry container and put the lid on it.
3)  Start the Vitamix on Variable speed - 1.  Then slowly move it all the way to 10 and then to HIGH.
4)  Leave on High for about 30 seconds to a minute or until all of the flour peaks in all four corners of the container (as shown in bottom center pic).
5)  Store in an airtight container in the freezer.

See!  SO easy!

If you're interested in this and don't have a grinder or a Vitamix, then I'd suggest trying to buy a grinder like the first one I showed you secondhand.  First see if anyone you know has one that they never use (oh so common).  Then see if you can find one elsewhere like Craig's List or eBay.  They retail for about $200, but people practically give them away.  I wouldn't pay more than $50 for a used one.

And if that doesn't work for you, then fret not.  There are a lot of other ways to get it done.  Kitchen Aid sells an attachment for wheat grinding.  Some high powered food processors can grind wheat, too. Where there's a will there's a way!

BTW, I've updated my whole wheat breadmaker recipe if anyone is in need.  I use this DAILY - SO easy.

Do you grind your own wheat?  What's your preferred method?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Buying Wheat

Hey y'all! I hope your summer is going great, savoring the moments but getting enough alone time, too. ;)  Mamas gotta stay healthy, y'all!

Anyway, I get asked a lot about grinding my wheat, so I wanted to demystify it a bit because it's super easy, for real.  But before I get started, let me just tell you that I updated my breadmaker bread recipe if you're interested.  ;)

So today I thought I'd tell you where and how I've bought my wheat.  I've gone a few different routes on this:

1) I've ordered it from Amazon.  When I order it by Subscribe and Save, the shipping is FREE!  It's about $30 for 25lbs of organic hard red wheat berries.  The spelt, however, is ridiculous right now, at about $50 for 25lbs.  Amazon is the most expensive route that I've taken but also the most convenient.  They send me a package like this as often as I request, then I pour it into airtight containers (important step - don't wait on this or little critters could find their way into it).
"how to buy wheat" "buying whole wheat" "hard red wheat berries" "buying spelt"
2) Remember when I told you about my organic produce co-op, Your Health Source?  Well, when I'm a member of the co-op, then I'm able to order from their extensive dry goods list, which contains...of course, whole grains.  They have Prairie Gold Wheat Berries, which are a little lighter, so they make a little bit lighter of a bread, which is nice.  They also have spelt, but it's still about the same price as Amazon.  I prefer spelt, but I just can't spend that much on it.  :-/

So this route is a little inconvenient simply because I have to 1) email my order, 2) send a check, and 3) pick up my order on a co-op pickup date.  Not to mention, I have to be a member of the co-op which is a bi-weekly commitment of both my time and grocery budget.  But this is the route I've chosen for right now because I wanted to try out the produce again.

3)  My in-laws are Mormon, so I've gotten them to take me to the LDS Cannery and get wheat there.  It's about $30 for 33lbs, and the nice thing about it is that you can buy it already canned (sometimes you have to can it yourself) because wheat is a common item.  You can also get a ton of other stuff for pretty cheap.
The problem with this route is that you have to have a member of the LDS church to take you, and that's not very convenient all the time with schedules and being a nuisance and taking advantage of familial relationships and whatnot.  So we've only done this a couple of times.  The other thing I don't like about it is that it's so wasteful with packing material.  I go through the wheat so quickly that the cans go to waste, so it's not very earth-friendly.  They're meant to save, but that's not my purpose for it.

So anyway, I hope that helps a little.  It's really a lot easier than you think.  I'll tell you next time how I grind it - way easy!

Enjoy your day!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Freedom of Simplicity

Michael and I have decided that it's time to care for each of our mental and spiritual health(s?) as much as it is our physical (one of those things that gets pushed aside with the business of parenting). So my absolutely dear husband actually made me schedule an hour of alone time yesterday for today. My heart was still racing for about the first 10 minutes, something I don't normally notice because I don't normally slow down ever (as indicated by the stress cold sore that I'm sporting currently).

Anyway, it's amazing the insight I can find like right away because I'm so hungry for it. I picked up Richard Foster's book Freedom of Simplicity off of the bookshelf and noticed that I had started it and never finished it. I read what I had underlined, and right off the bat I knew I should pick this book up again.
We also struggle with the problem of competing responsibilities that all demand our attention. Like Jack's beanstalk, our obligations seem to grow overnight.  We are trapped in a rat race, not just of acquiring money, but also of meeting family and business obligations. We pant through an endless series of appointments and duties. The problem is especially acute for those who sincerely want to do what is right. With frantic fidelity we respond to all calls to service, distressingly unable to distinguish the voice of Christ from that of human manipulators. We feel bowed low with the burden of integrity.
I have struggled with overcommitment my entire adult life. I'm fully aware of it, and I still do it. All. The. Time.

And the wisdom of getting alone time as it relates to simplicity:
Solitude refers principally to the inward unity that frees us from the panicked need for acclaim and approval. Through it we are enabled to be genuinely alone, for the fear of obscurity is gone; and we are enabled to be genuinely with others, for they no longer control us.
How did he read my mail? For real. I do for sure end up in a frenzy when I don't get enough solitude to be with God and my thoughts. I start caring way too much about what people think of me instead of what my Creator thinks. But when I'm centered in my Center, I can be more present for people, especially my family.
Enslavement to the opinions of others is the source of a great deal of duplicity in modern society. How often we discover our action to be prompted, not by the divine Center, but by what others may say or think.
Ugh, it's so hard to tell sometimes, isn't it? I mean, it's not as black and white as it seems sometimes. Sometimes a lot of things I do are "approved" by others and God, but what was my motivation? That's what really matters to God.

Okay, that's all I got for now. I hope those little nuggets blessed someone out there. They sure refreshed me.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Mama's Summer

It's no secret that I have historically not done summers very well.  In my old age, however, I think I've gotten a little better at it.  The name of the game this summer is STRUCTURE!  I have routines in place, daily plans, and rules to keep order.  I haven't worked out all of the kinks yet, but we're moving in the right direction.  I wouldn't be surviving if I didn't have some order.

Here are just a few of the things keeping us busy right now...

Of course a tiny little plastic piece broke on the dishwasher (attached to the latch), and to replace that one piece would have been $150 (if I did it myself).  So we figured we'd buy a new one since it was 9 years old.  But I feel like we have appliance shopping down to an art (starting with an emergency fund).  We usually go to Best Buy, see what's out there, and then go to Texas Appliance Outlet into the back, un-airconditioned warehouse and buy a scratch-n-dent for a fraction of the cost.  Why?  Because, as my mother-of-6 sister says, "The kids are gonna scratch-n-dent it anyway!"  

Levi first banged his toe and then cut it between the cuticle and nail, so we've been nursing that back to health.  It looks disgusting right now, but it's a lot better than that picture.  The nail finally fell off.  But keeping that thing clean and dry and bandaged was not as easy as one might think - he's 5 afterall.

And then there's grocery shopping after preschool is out for summer.  Fun?  Uh, no, I wouldn't say so. This was one of the more fortunate shopping trips.  As you mamas know, it can be a little trickier when they're awake.  The other thing I'm doing is trying to figure out how much I'm spending on conventional produce at Aldi and spelt/wheat through Amazon so that I can determine if I should go back to my organic produce co-op.  I'll let you know.  ;)

And this, of course, is my next big project.  We're about to have a teenager in the house!  We're hosting a Czech foreign exchange student this coming school year (which I am SO excited about), and she'll be here in August, so I have to get the room finished by then.  This room is proving to be a little trickier than I thought.  I have to a) subdue it a little since she's more into muted tones, b) furnish it with things I can use for the boys later, c) stay within a small budget, and d) do it all while the kids are home 24/7.  

Oh, did I mention what's it's like shopping with three little boys?  Things to note in this picture: 
1) It was posed.  They actually stood still so that I could snap it just like this.  
2) The older and younger are both picking on the middle child.  No surprise.  
3) The baby is not wearing shoes (they're in the stroller that he climbed out of).
4) I'm shopping clearance, because that's the best way to shop.  ;)

As if all of that wasn't enough, my stinking pool robot broke (thankfully it's under warranty) and Leslie's Pool Store is taking FOREVER to get the replacement part.  So I've been fighting an algae bloom all by hand (brushing and vacuuming and shocking).  My shoulders are killing me.  All in a days' work, y'all.

A fun thing that we've been doing is a weekly family meeting.  This has been working marvelously.  The kids are way into it, and we've implemented a lot of structure as a result.  One thing we've implemented is....

....if you get in a fight, you have to talk it out on the fireplace.  The boys busted Michael and I one night, so we had to duke it out on the fireplace.  They thought that was so awesome.  

That's about it. I'm sure you can relate.  Just like some women do pregnancy well, some women do summers really well, too.  I don't naturally do pregnancy or summers very well, BUT this summer I'm TRYING!  We'll see how it goes.  

Got any tricks for keeping mama and kids sane during summer?


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