Category Archives: Children

Canning: Baby Food

(Note: This is an old post I am dusting off and pulling out to share, since we are back to moving ourselves again. Today has been a day full of bad news in our house, one piece of which is I have lost the help of professionals and now must start packing again. So I hope you enjoy this old piece and find the information helpful, while I get busy packing.

I would also like to note that while I really did enjoy canning pureed fruits for Chloe and having a whole months worth made in an afternoon, it is not currently practical for me with 3 kids under 4. It may be a challenge someone else is up to, so I thought it worth sharing.)

Canning Baby Food

Last night was what promises to be the first of many adventures in making and canning my own food for Chloe. Now in talking to people I have heard some objections to this that I would like to address before I tell of last night’s work.

*Objection 1*
“This is way to much work, why not just buy baby food.”

Well I suspect that a few hours a couple of times a month is well worth the savings. For example two apples produce 16 oz of applesauce. I made my apple sauce in what was one of the more time-consuming methods and I had 48 oz in 30-45 minutes. There are methods that will save more time and energy in making the food, but they require more initial money for the output.

*Objection 2*
“I am worried about the safety of the food. I don’t want to make my baby sick.”

The USDA has tested different foods and has laid out safe practices in processing food for home canning. If you follow their advice you will significantly reduce the likelihood of botulism, and other illness you or your child could face from tainted food.

*Objection 3*
“I went to the USDA website and saw that they do not have any safe ways they recommend to can pureed vegetables. Why even bother with canning baby food if the only baby food you can safely recommend is pureed fruit.”

Well you can finely dice your veggies and follow their recommendations for the appropriate vegetables and mash them up before serving them to your child. Or if your child has teeth let them try the vegetables that are cut up to just their size. As far as vegetables go it has been my experience that many doctors recommend serving them to a child after you have started with fruits anyway. So you can get started with the fruit you made up first and worry about veggies when you cross that path.

“Objection 4*
“Honestly how long will you really be using the baby food? Do you really need it to be good for a year? If you freeze it is good for a month, isn’t that good enough?”

Pureed fruit can be added to cereal it, put atop of many foods, or enjoyed as a snack for even adults. So having plenty of fruit around even past the first year will be a nice thing to have. Finely diced veggies can easily be mashed and served to a baby without teeth, and as they grow you can give them the diced veggies as a finger food at meal time.

If you have further questions or concerns please feel free to post them here. I will answer all questions that I am able. If I do not know the answer I will look it up and provide you with the source of my information.

Recipe

This recipe for applesauce was simple and the results were very tasty. Now you can modify it if you have a food processor, a hand cranked Foley food mill, or a KitchenAid grinder that you would prefer to use.

Please note I also made my applesauce two apples at a time.

You will need:
2 apples (for approximately 16 oz of applesauce) *note* I used one sweet apple and one tart.
1 teaspoon cinnamon and sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon sugar (optional)
1 tablespoon water
1 Ziplock Zip and Steam(c) bag
canning jars (keep these warm while you make your applesauce)
lids (You will need new lids, as old lids will not create an airtight seal the second time around.)
jar rings
a water bath canner
a jar funnel
tongs designed to remove jars from boiling water
1. Wash your apples.

2. Slice the apples and remove the core. (You may also remove the skins at this step if you like I choose to leave them on.)

3. Fill the Ziplock bag to the fill line. Then add the cinnamon and sugar, plus additional sugar if desired.

4. Add the tablespoon of water.

5. Microwave on high for 3 minutes. (cooking times may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave.)

6. Be careful opening the steam bag so as not to burn yourself, and pour the cooked apples in your blender. I used the puree setting to get my apples to the desired consistency.

7. Pour your applesauce in your jars. Be sure to leave a half inch of head room at the top of the jar and remove any air bubbles that may have formed.

8. Fill hot jars with hot applesauce. (Keep jars of applesauce warm till you have enough to fill your water bath canner, typically seven jars.)

9. Wipe rim of jars with damped paper towel to clean an spillage. Finger tighten lid and ring onto jar.

Once you have repeated this process enough times to fill enough jars to fill your canner, or until you have as many as you would like to make, then you may begin processing the jars.

Set the jars in the basket that comes with your water bath canner. Submerge the jars in the already boiling water. Bring water to boil again if need be. Let the jars boil for 15 minutes for pint size and 20 minutes for quart size.**

Remove from boiling water and set the jars on a cooling rack. Let the jars cool overnight. The popping and hissing noises you will hear as the jars cool are perfectly normal, in fact the popping noise indicates the jars are getting the proper seal.

The next morning check on the jars. If the buttons on the lids of any of the jars are not indented then the seal did not take. At this point you can put the jar in fridge to be consumed in the next couple days or the recommended advice would be to re-can the appropriate jars. That would entail re-cleaning the rims, putting on a new lid and boiling the jar again. If the seal does not take this time the USDA does recommend, for safety’s sake, a third attempt.

**Note: If your local elevation is more than 1000 ft above sea level please refer to USDA fruit canning guide for the appropriate amount of time to add to the canning guidelines that I laid out.

canning

So that is the process I used. The applesauce turned out well and now we have plenty for days. (I would say longer than days, but more people in this home like applesauce than just Chloe.)

Sweet Words and Even Sweeter Hearts During Bedtime Prayers

Each night before bed my husband or myself says bedtime prayers with our girls. It is a sweet time, especially now as their vocabularies are starting to expand. It gives me such insight into what is going on in their hearts and what they found important from their day.

Bedtime Prayers

My oldest likes to pray for daddy every chance she gets. She prays, “Daddy home, please.” (Translated as: Bring Daddy home, please.) “Daddy home now, thank you.” She will also go through and list every family member and friend she can think of and ask for blessings for them and thank God for them. Sometimes she prays for her owies to go bu-bye or perhaps just for sleep. I think one of my favorite requests she has put before God was tonight. She prayed for our friends’ chickens and their garden.

My middle daughter still mostly lets us pray and she repeats what we say. That is until we start asking for blessing for the family. Then she has to name her favorite people off. It usually goes something like this “Mannie, Daddy, Mannie, Nama, Papa, Ama, Mannie, Papa, Nama, Papa, Nama, Mommy, Mannie, Ama, Papa, Nama, Daddy, oh…. ya… Cloa!”

Bedtime prayers are a great way for children, not only my own, to remember their blessings and remember to thank the one from whom all blessings flow. In my experience it is also a great vehicle to enforce the idea that God has them in his arms and he plans on keeping all the monsters away. I mention this because I have used this time to explain that they don’t have to be afraid, because as The Veggie Tales say, “God is bigger than the boogie man.”

 

***What are some of the sweetest things you have heard your little ones say during prayers?***

 
TheBetterMom.com

“I no like you, Mommy!”

In the interest of full disclosure I want to say that I have recently taken to writing these blog entries the night before they are published. That being said tonight has been a rough night in my house. I want to talk about it because as I share thoughts and wisdom I have collected about children I don’t want you to think I have it all together. I am still learning and growing too. I also have nights where things have gone so poorly that my three year old yells, “I no like you, Mommy!” Those words may not sound like much but they still hold a powerful punch, especially considering she uses like and love interchangeably, when dealing with family. They are even more powerful when I am struggling with liking myself, because I had a temper tantrum at the same time as my preschooler. I no like you Mommy I decided the best thing I could do for her tonight was apologize for my behavior, and just be there for her while she was angry and trying to fall asleep. As I sat there and listened to her spew, about wanting me to stay behind when we move, how she doesn’t like/ love me, and how I should just go away. It wasn’t easy to listen to. It occurred to me though, as I was listening to her, how much this is often how we treat God. His love is patient and kind, though. He is slow to anger. (1 Corinthians 13: 4&5) When we are upset and spewing at him, about what we feel he has or hasn’t done in our lives, you will not find him having a temper tantrum of his own. We show him blatant disrespect each day and still, he is there for us, ready and willing to accept everyone who is ready to turn to him. I thought on this a little more and all I can pray is I can show my daughter’s even a fraction of that sort of love. If I can show them how I am working through my own unhealthy habits then maybe I won’t pass them down. Maybe then my children will never have a temper tantrum of their own when their children yell, “I no like you, Mommy!”
TheBetterMom.com

Life With Three Small Children is…

Life With Three Small Children is Life with three small children is …

~early mornings and long nights.

~dirty diapers and potty training accidents.

~full of discipline and being lost for words.

~helpers making more of a mess than they are actually cleaning.

~full of tears (all too often those tears are my own) and arguing.

~hours spent walking and rocking babies.

~never ending dishes and laundry.

~repeating the same question 10 different ways in 2 minutes, and not once getting an answer that makes sense.

~saying no 1,001 times a day.

~searching for the lost shoe, book, blankie, baby doll, monkey, or puzzle piece.

~hours/ days/ months/ years worrying about developmental milestones.

~learning how to be creative when new food aversions arise.

~being there for the first bite of birthday cake and the ensuing mess.

~watching your children light up in the moment they achieve the impossible milestone.

~getting to say that one special yes that makes the entire day worth it. ~

~finally being able to communicate with your child.

~getting to buy special outfits and making favorite meals.

~enjoying the fleeting time loving on precious babies.

~afternoons full of bubbles, bikes, chalk, and laughter.

~watching babies grow into smart wonderful young people.

~stifling laughter at the all too cute but completely serious things 2 year old’s utter.

~cheering your child on as they master potty training.

~full of bedtime prayers and early morning snuggles.

Life with three small children is work, yes, but it is a greater joy.   Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of my Fun Things to do Under the Sun series.  If you have not seen the previous two you can check them out here: Fun Things To Do Under the Sun For Free and 10 Things To Do Under the Sun That Are Practically Free.   ***What could you add to this list?***

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10 Things To Do Under The Sun (That Are Practically Free)

Ten things

Last Tuesday, I spoke of fun things that my girls and I were doing this summer that were free. Today I want to address things that we enjoy doing that are practically free, that cost us little more than gas or nothing more than gas money. Many of these items could be considered free because the activity itself is free, but I am including the cost of gasoline here. I know there are other families out there like mine who may not be able to do every activity because of the rising cost of gasoline.

1. Splash Pads

In the greater Detroit area, where we live, almost every community I have come across has at least one park with these. There is often no charge for admittance and it is a fun way to let the kids splash around and play without breaking the bank.

Fun things to do that are practically free

2. Vacation Bible School

If you are lucky enough to go to a church or live in a community where there is a church who understands that this is a significant outreach this can be a truly amazing time. We are lucky to have such a church here, Friendship Church. They welcome Chloe each day with open arms. She is always excited to show up and can’t wait to come back the next day. In fact this morning she was trying to convince me her two-year old sister needed to attend.

3. Local Farms

Go online and search for farms.  I know from living in both the Detroit area and the Hampton Roads area even when you live in and near larger cities farms can be found that you can tour that are only a short drive away. One such farm here, Maybury Farm, costs just a small fee for a family of four to be admitted. Last year when we went two adults and two children could have spent the afternoon visiting for only $5. This is cheaper than the zoo and you still get to see the animals. In fact we were able to get up close and personal with many of them.

Fun things to do that are Practically Free

4. Make your own Popsicles

The girls and I enjoy making these and having them to snack on. Stay tuned on Thursday for my recipe for homemade smoothie bars. 🙂

5. Hiking

Get out and discover new hiking trails. If you are not blessed to lived on a piece of property large enough for hiking, get online and search for places to go hiking with your kids. I find it a refreshing way to connect to God and nature. My children love the discovery of it all.

6. The Beach/ Pool

Take your family to the nearest beach or pool and teach your kids to swim. Splash in the water with them. I know in some communities you have to pay to use the pool or the lake but it is worth looking into seeing if there is a free option or a practically free option. I know many of my memories of childhood summers involve swimming.

Fun things to do that are practically free

7. See if your community has a children’s museum or art museum that offers free admission.

In our current community, I have yet to find one that does. I know there are towns and cities out there that have museums that do offer free admission to all but their special collections exhibits. These can be wonderful educational opportunities and even get fun on a hot day.

8. Story Time

Most local libraries offer story time for the young kids. This is another thing that is fun to do with little kids. We have attended story time at local libraries, The Virginia Zoo, and The Chrysler Museum of Art (just to name a few.)

9. Free Concerts

See what is near you. In some communities you can find big name artists that are putting on concerts that are of no charge to attend. In other communities that is harder to find but you and your family can throw a blanket down in the park and listen to a local band perform. Either way you are sure to have an enjoyable time. In fact I know plenty of people who would prefer the atmosphere of a quiet concert in the park over the other.

10. Picnic in the Park

Pack the kids up. Bring lunch with you and go eat at the park. You can sit back enjoy a shade tree. Watch the kids run around. Read together or toss a ball around with them. It is just another way to get out of the house and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation.

Fun things to do this summer that are practically free

 

So there you have it ten things you can do with your family Under the Sun this summer that are practically free or have the potential to be practically free.

***Do you have something you could add to this list? Please share. I would love to hear your ideas as well.***

 

 

 

 

Fun Things To Do Under the Sun (for free)

When summer began, we made a bucket list of things we wanted to do this summer, as a family. As the summer has gone on, we haven’t even done half the things on that list. I don’t think that is a bad thing, neither do I find it real sad. The list was made under a slightly different set of circumstances. Things have changed, so we have adjusted what we are going to try to do. This doesn’t mean I plan on letting my kids miss out on all the joys of summer.

Instead of visiting many museums, zoos, and vacationing, we are finding frugal fun this summer. Join me as I begin my new series Fun Things To Do Under the Sun: Free, Practically Free, and Worth Saving up for Fun.  (Granted, I know that is a little wordy, but I think it will be alright.)

2013-07-09 12.24.36

Today, I am covering things that we enjoy doing for free, and some things I plan on doing that I hope the girls enjoy.

1. Going for walks around the neighborhood.

walk

My two oldest girls love to stop and pick up stray leaves, smell flowers , pick ‘flowers’ (otherwise known as weeds,) talk to neighbors, and anything else that strikes their fancy. The mommy in me loves these long walks because by the time we get home it is time for lunch and a nap. That is for everyone except the baby, who believes a walk equals nap time. So that means Momma doesn’t get a nap usually but at least the house is quiet for a bit.

2. Riding bikes

bike

3. Blowing Bubbles

bubbles

4. Going on a scavenger hunt.

This is one we have yet to do but I think they will enjoy. I plan making my own list and next to item names including a picture. My girls can not yet read so this will help them to understand and remember what it is they are looking for

5. Dancing in the rain.

This summer has seen lots more rainy days than last summer so to combat cabin fever, we have had to get out of the house even on the rainy days.

6. Running through the sprinkler

sprinkler

7. Planting and working in our garden

2013-06-29 16.16.56

8. Chalk

chalk

9. Playing in the Sandbox

sandbox

10. Rolling/ Kicking/ Throwing a ball

ball

 

Don’t forget to join me next week when I cover almost free things my family is enjoying this summer.

***What are somethings that you could add to this list?***

 

How I am Teaching My Children to Rise Above

The bible is an excellent tool in teaching children to rise above temptation

Scrolling through my Facebook feed, this morning I noticed a friend was contemplating acting vindictively. I am actually not here to discuss that, while I don’t feel we should act in a vindictive manner, I think we all would agree we have  felt those urges. Some of us have acted upon them, and others  of us know how to rise above those feelings. What struck me really was in the comment section.

Hiding among the encouragement, for my friend, to walk away from the negativity and for her to set healthy boundaries, was the suggestion to simply give into that side of human nature. I don’t disagree it is human nature. What I disagree with is the idea that we should simply give into it if it is natural. There is a whole generation that believes if it is natural then it must be alright to do.

I would argue that emotions are just temporary, no matter how natural that it is that we have them, and our responses should not be based on the temporary. I understand the appeal; there is short-term gratification, some times it is just easier, and other times we know no other way. Instead I believe as a Christian I need to be seeking to live a life that brings me closer to my God. That life does not include room for the negativity.

I also believe that as a parent that it is my responsibility to be teaching my children how to rise above temptation, and that is one of the benefits for me in homeschooling. I can show them how I am living this out in my life everyday.

It is in the little things we build relationships.

It is in the little things we build relationships.

How I am teaching my children to rise above:

1. Drop to their knees

Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. We pray at every meal. We pray at bed time and nap time. They see me pray when I lose my temper, when I am hurting, and any time I am called to.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6

2. Open the Good Book

We read bible stories together. We read from Psalms together. (I found at my children’s young age they handle the poetry better, than the long stories found in many of the other books.) We talk about what we read. They see me reading it on my own.  They know this is a book that is a part of our days, and not just decoration for our homes.

“I have not departed from the commands of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.” Job 23:12

3. Live transparently

In other words, I let them see me succeed and mess up. When I succeed I seek to show them how to do so humbly and graciously. When I have messed up and fallen short, which is often, I model apologizing, repenting, and simply trying again.

John 13:1-17 Is a beautiful example of Jesus modeling behavior.

4. Praise

When I see them displaying the character traits that I am hoping to instill upon them I praise them for their effort and hard work at it.

In Titus you will see where the Bible talks of encouraging one another in Godly behavior.

2013-06-26 10.59.56

Homeschooling allows my family the opportunity to do this each and everyday throughout the days. I know homeschooling is not the answer for every family, but it is for mine. I can best model this behavior when they see me consistently doing this.

Now if homeschooling is not the answer for you, great. Just don’t forget you can model the behavior you want to see when you spend time together as well. As I have read in multiple posts and heard in multiple venues recently, “More is caught, than taught.”

***What do you think? Is this something you can do? Is this something you are doing? Do you want to do this? Is there something more that you include in teaching your children to rise above?***

TheBetterMom.com

Journey to Enjoying the Wee Morning Hours

My Sunshine Wind Chimes. It would be lovely to drink coffee and sit on the porch and listen to these early in the mornings.

My Sunshine Wind Chimes. It would be lovely to drink coffee and sit on the porch and listen to these early in the mornings.

Recently, I have read a great deal about the benefits and blessing to rising early in the morning. By early I mean starting the day before my kids wake up. I have read that there would be great merit to starting my morning as little as fifteen minutes earlier. In fifteen minutes I could stretch, pray, read a devotional, start coffee, listen to the bible as I start breakfast, or I could just relish an uninterrupted shower.

The fact of the matter is the Bible has a great deal to say on this subject. In Psalm 5:3 the psalmist writes, “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.”  Later on in Psalms you read, “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90:14)” In Mark 1:35 you see even Jesus waking early to spend the time in prayer. My only conclusion from these verses is that this must be a sweet time to spend with the Lord.

I imagine, I would have a better chance at starting my days off on the right foot, if I have enjoyed some quiet moments with my maker. I could share my hopes for the day with him and lay my concerns down at his feet. I could find encouragement in his word. I could enjoy the silence of my home, coupled with the hope of a new day. I might even be able to find an extra dose of patience for the kid’s antics.

Instead, now I am dragging my tush out of bed after the big girls have woke me. Most days this leaves me feeling stuck behind the eight ball, constantly trying to catch up. You could argue well, “Sara, you have a good excuse, at the moment. You have a breastfeeding infant in the house.” While it is true I do, I don’t want to use Madelyn as an excuse. The truth is I am not particularly a morning person. This is going to be a discipline I have to develop.

The only major road block I have, aside from my distaste for early mornings, is the kids. I know I can train myself to wake up 20-30 minutes before them. In fact, I have done this several times in the past. Every time I have accomplished this in the past, though, they turn around and start waking up even earlier then they had been.

So that is where I am at in my journey to enjoying the wee morning hours and starting the day with my family off right. (I think part of that must start with going to bed sooner.)

***Are you an early bird or a night owl? If you are a night owl do you ever feel the pull to join the early birds? If you are a converted night owl, how did you overcome your desire to be up late? And finally, any suggestions on dealing with little girls who like to push their wake up time earlier and earlier?***

 

 

 

 

The Mother Your Children Need

 

I have a confession. As much as I enjoy reading, everything from books to blogs, sometimes if I over saturate myself with what everyone else is thinking and/ or doing, I feel inadequate as a mother. I get to thinking how nice it must be to be able to watch the sun rise each morning and blog with a cup of coffee in hand. Or how I should get up before dawn and pray for my little ones.

If my reading material of choice at the moment is parenting related I start to second guess my own instincts. I worry that I am not doing enough to teach them about God or his love. I worry that we don’t have enough play time or perhaps that we have too much free play time. I worry that their skills are not as far all as a friend’s child.

Chloe's family portrait.

Chloe’s family portrait.

I can weigh my days down with worry, yet that worry will not get me anywhere. Worry will not give me more hours in my day to accomplish more. You can see in Luke 12:25 where Jesus says, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” I can try all the latest tips and tricks for stream lining my day according to all the so called experts, but they may still fail and I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, nor should you.

We need to remember as we look around the world, that God did not create us all the same. We were each created with different abilities, desires, and tolerance levels. So just because ‘Mary’ can make homemade meals every night, homeschool her children, and keep a perfectly tidy house doesn’t mean you can or should have to. Maybe you work outside the home, spend 95% of your time at home playing with your kids, and have quick meals, that is alright too.

There are a multitude of ways to be a good mother. You don’t need to conform to any one else’s idea of what makes a good mother. Just remember to trust your gut instincts and to love them. It also wouldn’t hurt to look to the creator as to what he would have you do, and then you will be the mother your children need.

 

At Maybury Farms with my two oldest girls last summer.

At Maybury Farm with my two oldest girls last summer.

 

Books and Summer Breaks

Today begins summer break for many school age children. In an effort to celebrate summer, many of the libraries around here kicking off their summer reading programs. One library has a carnival type atmosphere to celebrate today. Our local library is actually hosting musicians on their front lawn, for you to come out and listen to.

When nap time in this house is over, I plan on taking the kids out to sign them up for their first summer reading program. Granted this does mean Mommy will do most the reading. It is very important to me though to expose them to the world of books, and not just rely on the television and the computer for entertainment.

I suspect that my efforts to expose them to books is paying off. Chloe and Paige both will bring me stacks of books to read together.206465_10150228112135605_5566159_n

Chloe as a toddler with a book from our home library.

As an avid reader myself, I can only hope that filling our home with books, and filling their childhood with memories of summer reading programs, will impart to them a lifelong love of reading.

***What sort of things do you do to share books with your children and perhaps even pass on a love of reading? (Do you read to them? Do you enroll them in summer reading programs? Do they see you reading? Etc…) ***