With winter looming, so is sickness. This is how I’m keeping the viral and bacterial bugs at bay. Even with two kids being sick back to back for two weeks (coughing, sneezing, and throwing up,) so far I’m going strong and feeling groovy (please, karma, don’t strike me down tomorrow.)
Exercise. Even when I’m not feeling well, a short run, walk, or workout makes me feel better and I don’t seem to catch as many bugs.
Morning Smoothies. Packed with greens, fruits, chia seeds, fat, and protein, breakfast can’t get much better. May food be thy medicine.
Usually, if I’m not feeling well, one of the above is out of whack. We can’t skip the base! Now, since we’re not superhuman or perfect all the time, let’s turn to our friendly medicine cabinet for a little extra help.
1. Multi-vitamin. No, I’m not pregnant. I just read that multi-prenatal vitamins were good for #hairandnails 🙂
2. Vitamin D. So many benefits, especially during the winter months when we aren’t soaking it up by the sun! Especially good for kids with growing bones, and females.
3. Oregano Oil. May I suggest the pills, NOT THE LIQUID. Trust me. You’ll burp a few times and taste oregano, but this stuff works!
4. Emergen-C. This flavor is delicious and it kicks coming colds to the curb!
5. Alka-Seltzer. When the cold is definitely on the way, I take this. It’s especially good for headaches and general malaise.
I don’t take all of these every day, maybe a couple times a week or when I’m feeling a little off.
Did you get the flu shot? I did because it was convenient and free with my insurance. Does it do much good? I’m not so sure but I’m crossing fingers and toes.
Okay friends, don’t forget your base (those first three listed!) And may you go forth and be well this winter. Sleep! Run! Eat Plants! Stay home if you’re sick so you don’t infect your friends, and that extra rest will get you better, faster.
Posting again because it’s Halloween and this is my favorite treat: pumpkin cookies with cream cheese frosting. BOO!
This recipe comes from a friend who got it from a Pillsbury cookbook. And it’s a beautiful thing.
A warning: This cookie is only allowed in October and November. Otherwise, I’d eat so many I’d turn into a pumpkin and roll away.
They are really that good.
I have resisted posting this recipe here because I like to blog only healthy treats.
The story goes like this – I made this decadent treat for my son’s eighth-grade field trip bake sale. He brought them to school and came home saying, “Mom, the teachers didn’t even put them out – they ATE them! They ate ALL of them!”
Of course this delighted me.
And I couldn’t blame them. I don’t like to share them either.
The next day, several teachers pounced on me, begging me for the recipe. Okay, I might be exaggerating the pouncing part. But they really really wanted it, so I relented.
I’m just giving you what you want 🙂
First, you’ll cream the butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, and pumpkin. Then you’ll add the dry mix of flour, baking powder and soda, a dash of cinnamon and salt.
I could tell you that I grew the pumpkin myself, cut, cooked, and pureed them, too. But that would be a lie. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Canned Libby’s pumpkin does quite nicely!
Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes and you’ve got this glorious yum-yum. Sometimes we just eat them plain and they’re still a treat.
While the cookie cools, you can make some frosting!
The original frosting does not call for cream cheese, but unless you add a boatload more powdered sugar, the frosting is too runny. Cream cheese is a nice binder and the taste? Mmm.
Halloween party, anyone?
So hear you go, my favorite fall cookie (aka, the cookie the teachers won’t share):
Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 cup butter
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin (plain, not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups + 1 heaping tablespoon flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
Cream Cheese Frosting:
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
4 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
Heat over to 350. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Add vanilla, pumpkin, and egg. Mix. Add flour, baking powder and soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix just until incorporated. Spoon onto baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Let cool.
Melt 3 tablespoons butter over low heat. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar. Stir constantly until small boil, slightly thickened. Cool 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup milk, 4 ounces cream cheese, and 1 cup powdered sugar or until desired thickness. Frosting should be thick enough to frost cookie without running off.
Now for the best part: Eat (after your run, of course!)
In the cookie recipe: substitute all of the butter or 1/2 of the butter for 1/2 avocado (it works well!)
Use whole wheat white flour and you won’t be able to tell the difference
Because, my friends, this is a “clean” drink that is far better for your brain, heart, muscles, GI tract, and bloodstream. And I bet you have the ingredients in your pantry right now…and if not, they are easy to procure!
No more this…Instead, let’s start measuring some apple cider vinegar. Say what? Yes, it’s true. This original recipe comes from No Meat Athlete, with two tablespoons apple cider vinegar. But after a children’s taste testing, I trimmed it down to one. Next, some maple syrup. Ah…now I’ve got you, right? And some salt. When you lick your arm after a run, do you taste the sweat? (you do lick your arm, right? 🙂 ) Your body needs to replace that salt (electrolytes!) Next: water and juice and that’s it! A little posing for the camera… Now put in fridge and watch the kids fill up their water bottles and play like champs!
Homemade Grape Gatorade
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 cups water
2 cups 100% grape juice
Directions: stir it all together and gulp!
Do we really need Gatorade? No, not unless we’ve been exercising about two hours and sweating like fiends. Water is best before and during a sporting event, but after a hard workout, it’s nice to refuel quickly with something a little more flavorful. I’m not actually a huge grape juice fan, but with this recipe, I like it. I liked it better than the first time I made it with cranberry-pomegranate. Use whatever juice you like, but make sure it’s 100%; we don’t need to be adding any more sugary drinks to our diet.
Refrigerate overnight and the flavors will meld and mellow a bit.
Put in ice cube tray and pop them into water bottles the next day for some next-day fuel.
Do you have magic underwear? (um, I don’t think so?)
Do you celebrate Christmas and birthday? (YES!)
Are you Christian? (YES!)
Can anyone attend your church? (Heck yes!)
I really don’t get asked these questions that often anymore. But my children do! And believe me, many of those questions I cannot type out in this forum…:)
But hey, at least they are asking and we are discussing.
Here’s another question we get all the time: Your kids are taking what?
“What’s seminary? Are they monks or something?”
Seminary is a religion class for high school age students.
Does everyone have to do it?
No. Only about half of my children’s Mormon friends are enrolled.
Not everyone thinks it’s important. Or, they think it’s important, but it’s not worth the time and effort. But for our kids growing up in this world, I think it’s essential.
So I say: LET’S DO SEMINARY!
If you live in Utah, Idaho, some parts of Arizona, and other regions of the United States with large concentrations of Mormon high schoolers, you actually get to take a religion class during the day, in a separate building close to your school. You lucky ducks.
But for the majority of LDS teens, class starts before school. I’m sure your teens would shout for joy at the prospect; teenagers love to get up early!
Typically this religion class begins at the beautiful hour of 6 a.m. That’s right, 6 a.m. five days a week. I participated in seminary when I was in high school and luckily, the church was five minutes away. Even as an early bird, it was about the hardest thing I did for four years, especially on the cold Nebraska winter days when it was black as night and I was a frozen, really skinny ice cube.
And there was always the issue of my hair. No matter my grand intentions to look stellar at 6, (uh, there were BOYS in the class!) typically I would roll out of bed mere minutes before rolling out of the driveway looking…like I just rolled out of bed.
It was a happy day for my mother when we had our license. My siblings and I may have broken a few speeding laws and rolled through a few stop signs…and popped a few tires…oh, those were the early morning days that we used to call “cemetery.”
The seminary program has continued. Since we live far away from civilization, I do not have to drive my children to seminary (oh, happy day) but they still get to participate! The internet is one amazing thing. My two teens are enrolled in on-line seminary. They have a real teacher and a real class they connect with every Thursday evening. The other days of the school week they complete a lesson that typically takes between 30-40 minutes.
What exactly are they studying?
For Mormon youth, they rotate every four years between: The Old Testament, The New Testament, The Book of Mormon, and The Doctrine and Covenants.
This year they are studying The Old Testament.
They can complete the lesson at any time during the day; they don’t have to get up really early, but they sometimes do, to get it done. And yes, they are often very tired.
I especially like when they sit and complete a lesson together. Enough with the pictures, Mom. I’m trying to concentrate.Seminary is best done with cozy blankets. And if you’re really lucky, Mom or Dad might bring you a snack or make you breakfast (but admittedly, #slackermom.)
Why would you do such a thing?
Well, here’s my thing.
I want my children to know and love the Lord. I want to raise my children to not only be good, but spiritual. I want them to know that God speaks to us through the scriptures. I want them to know for themselves, that they are not alone on this earth, but that there is a higher power who will get them through their darkest days.
The New Testament tells about the greatest man who ever walked the earth. It tells of the birth, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It gives us lessons from the past and hope of things to come.
Last night I considered the wisdom of these scriptures as I peeked over my children’s shoulders:
Matthew 6:19-21 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal; But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Matthes 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The language is not only beautiful but inspiring. Sometimes I start to lose hope and faith in this world that we live in. The political climate is toxic. But I hold on to the words I read in my youth from Isaiah: Do not fear, for I am with you.
A few weeks ago one of my children had a really hard day at school. As I worried, this child said: “But I remembered a scripture I had read from seminary. It just came to my mind.” And my heart was filled. This strong, good child was going to be okay.
Honestly, with the things our kids have to deal with, sometimes I wonder how I would get through high school now. Today’s youth are part of a strong and good generation, but they need us to help them be good and strong. Reading the scriptures helps our family and our children. There is a great spirit that fills our home when we read individually and together. We are kinder, closer, better.
As for seminary? What could be better than starting the day with prayer, personal scripture study, and meditation?
Seminary had other consequences I didn’t appreciate until much later: I learned that I could do hard things like get up every morning at 5:30. It helped me go to bed earlier. It challenged my willpower. I became much more disciplined. It raised my confidence in myself. It helped me be obedient to the other things I knew were right. It helped me not be so vain about my hair 🙂
It helped me learn and know this principle: God Honors Those Who Honor Him.
Seminary is early and it’s hard and hardly convenient – and it’s worth it.
So that’s a little insight into our world. I’d love to hear from yours!
Because good cinnamon rolls and a little bit of faith are game changers, right?
Oh my darlin’, these were a little too tasty. Meaning you can’t eat just one. This King Arthur recipe was a first for me…and it won’t be the last! (No, I did not add any avocados…not even to the frosting.)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’ve enjoyed the last of the summer tomatoes. Our poor neglected garden gave us the most beautiful harvest. We love you, garden. Running along country roads I often encounter wildlife. Here is Yurtle. The turning of the leaves. How I love the color and the crunch. The “Ugly” tomato variety is our favorite. First apple pie of the year, courtesy of King Arthur Flour. I love running/training in the Fall, but don’t love the shorter hours of daylight. Thankfully I have running buddies who keep me going. Our routine: 5 a.m. Monday hills and 5 a.m. Wednesday speed work. It’s so dark we start with headlamps and we end with headlamps. Groovy! Early morning runs keep the crazy away and give the most beautiful views of the day. Fog, peace, and sunrises. My middle school soccer team – I LOVE THEM! My girl is #5. Coaching my children has been of the most valuable and bonding experiences I have had with them. I highly recommend! Icing with your siblings is also bonding! Paige is following in her family’s footsteps! Changing topics…my A&P class has begun. We autopsied Dill Pickle, practiced our suture skills, and determined cause of death (the creativity was hilarious.) Ah yes, the organization of running a home and the innumerable activities does not happen without much planning. Hence my messy desk and beet smoothies for endurance. YUM. Fall has once again brought clogged drains. I’m sorry for the disgustingness but hopefully my real life makes your real life feel better. And anyway, this orange thingy drain snake ordered from Amazon is AWESOME! Instead of pouring really horrible and toxic chemicals down the drain we stick this snake thingy down and bring up all the hair. After wretching I’m quite satisfied with once-again clean drains. Let’s get back to baking some King Arthur Flour hot buttered soft pretzels! Piano charts! I’ve always wanted corn stalks on the porch. Yahoo!An attempt at a festive fall welcome, with bonus points of REALLY smelly soccer cleats perched at nose level, atop a cardboard box holding an American Standard toilet. ‘Cause we’re classy like that. Also: I need a wreath.
Looking for a rice substitute? As an ardent rice lover, I don’t look for substitutes. Until I tried this. It’s fantastic!
Cauliflower, you say? Yes, it’s true.
It’s so tasty I predict you’ll be seeing a lot more of it. Why not be a trendsetter and start serving it now? My sister-in-law, Kim, introduced us to this recipe this summer and we are now converts – THANK YOU! All of the darlings loved it – it even looks like white rice.
It’s fine to chop or food process a head of cauliflower yourself, but finding it bagged is even more convenient; you’ll have a side in 15 minutes. I’ve seen chopped cauliflower in the freezer section and at Trader Joe’s. Snatch it and hold on tight! Otherwise, start here: Cut it up into florets: Pause and admire the pure whiteness: Now start choppin’! I was a little lazy and just wanted to eat; chop as fine as you can – like rice! Now chop some onion and put it in a pan with olive oil until onion is soft. Add the cauliflower, some garlic powder, salt, and pepper (and anything else you fancy!) When cooked, added some chopped cilantro. I would have gotten a better photo but we ate it so fast it was almost gone!
I especially love this “faux” rice paired with this Mexican dish: I’ll post that recipe next if you like!
Ready to eat? YES.
Tasty Cauliflower Rice:
Cauliflower florets, chopped fine (pre chopped if possible for time saver!)
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped fine
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper (to your preferred taste)
Heat olive oil on medium heat, add chopped onions, and cook until soft. Add chopped cauliflower, onion, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Cook about 15-20 minutes until soft. Finish for one minute with chopped cilantro.
Variations include cauliflower fried rice – add an egg, soy sauce, and green onion. Add to soups instead of rice or potato. Add a little bacon and you’re golden 🙂
And…a new school year begins. As always, we are off and running. Are you running, too? Let’s take slow breaths and think calm thoughts. This helps stave off the frazzled, panicky, snapping mama that is so fun to be around. Or is that just me?
Last year I remember thinking, “There is nothing more I can add to my plate. This pace is insane.” Well, there is more this year, including more emotion as my darling Cope is a senior. Oh dear, I need to change the subject now…
So anyway, a new school year always reminds me to sloooow down. Which is the definition of irony, isn’t it?
I have two mantras at the moment:
Remember: If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.
Remember: Once your direction is clear, you can give attention to pace.
Priorities became very obvious after this summer. In a crisis, family comes to the forefront every time. Perhaps we needn’t wait for the crisis’ to prioritize.
I’m going to tell you about a very special mother who has taught me a lot about priorities: Ginny B.
Ginny B. has a very wonderful son named Benny B.
If you don’t know Benny B, I’m very sorry. For he’s a good boy to know.
He is one of those boys we point to and say, “Try to be like Benny B.” He is kind and honest and funny and always has a big smile that lights up all the space around him. After high school Benny B. went on to study and play basketball at Brandeis University – and he is still a good boy!
Well, good boys don’t get grown by accident now, do they? Just by knowing Benny B., you have to admire the family behind the scenes.
The Professor and I attended Benny B.’s college graduation a few years ago. I had met his mother, Ginny B. before, but I was very struck of how obviously Benny B. loved her.
I felt – Envy? Longing? Wishing? When my children flew the nest, would we have that kind of relationship?
“Benny B., you and your mom seem really close.”
“Oh,” Benny B. said. “She’s my best friend. I tell her everything.”
I pounced. “How did you do that?” I asked Ginny B. “Tell me all of your secrets!”
“You know, Amy,” she said. “I just always made sure I was waiting at the kitchen table. No matter how old they were or how late it was, I just always tried to be there when they came home.”
I have a pang of guilt every time I think of Ginny B. because there are few things I like more than climbing into my bed…at like, 8. As my children grow older they are not tucked in at 7:30 every night. Darn it. Hmmm. Could the kitchen table be substituted for say…my bed?
I have decided this is a doable substitute.
I’m waiting, baby! (zzzz….)
Benny B. and the great Ginny:
I don’t know a lot about Ginny B. but I know motherhood hasn’t been all honey dew and butterflies. The family has made a lot of sacrifices for Ginny B. to be able to stay home. They make due on one income. Their home is modest and well cared for. There are touches of Ginny everywhere, from the plethora of hostas lining the front walkway, to the homemade quilts hung over furniture. There’s nothing showy about their lifestyle; only comfortable and welcoming (including a lot of delicious homemade food.)
I’m a mom who needs reminders like this. The pull of the world is strong, my young padawans. There are opportunities to be snatched, and of course we need jobs and money to live. But there’s a point where we don’t actually need to accumulate more stuff or more status or more.
Ginny B. made the decision to be waiting when her children came home. Let the chips fall where they may. This is how the chips fell: Her children love their mother. They are best friends. They tell her everything. And I just love that.
Ginny B. even loves my children, too.
Now, I’m sure Ginny B. and Benny B. have had many “moments.” Ginny isn’t, shall we say, a timid or docile flower. For goodness sake, her hair is red. She’s opinionated and fiery! But gosh darn it, she waits and she listens and the children talk.
Here is Benny B. and The Professor. They both have great hair. If you need hair product tips, just sit quietly and listen to their conversations. It’s both hilarious and enlightening.
Now listen: this is not a post to cause you motherhood guilt! For goodness sake, if you can’t always be home when the kids walk through the door, they’re not ruined. This story was just good for me to witness. It is good to see a boy with good hair turn out so well. It is really good to see Benny B. love his mother so much and to be reminded that mothers can’t be outsourced. Feel special, gosh darn it. You’re NEEDED.
Carole, a friend of mine, lost her mother many many years ago, and I haphazardly scribbled this down when she spoke – “I couldn’t wait to get off the bus and run to her, even in high school. Even when she was gone I found myself wanting to tell her things – and I can’t wait for the day when I can tell her all the things I want to tell her.”
The thing is, if we’re not around, they can’t tell us all the things.
My mother was a mom who waited for us (and she likes sleep even more than I do.) Growing up, she placed above the entrance to the kitchen: The Gathering Place. (Take heart: my mother hates to cook!)
But even when we are all grown, and my parents moved across the country, she insisted on a home that was big enough for us all to come and gather. And she still drives a minivan! (She says it’s for comfort, but I secretly think she likes to pick up stray grandchildren…:) ) Even now that I’m a pretend grown-up I know she’s waiting. #lucky.
Benny B. and my boy:Wait for them. And they’ll keep coming home.
What I love about summer? More reading time. One day I told Paige we were having a reading hour right in the middle of the morning. We laid on my bed for a whole hour and read. It was quite blissful and I vowed to make a daily habit. It wasn’t, but I encourage you to lay aside tasks and chores and television for more words and books.
Paige finished the 7th Harry Potter book – a huge feat for a 9-year-old, but especially gratifying as this was my child who did not care much for reading; it was too hard! But then she discovered Harry. She was in mourning for days with a beloved Harry book to read, but I pushed Laura Ingalls and she’s enamored with a whole other world once again.
I just love good books. Here are my summer reads: what I loved and what I didn’t.
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah: Covers WWII in France and serves as a warning of how insidious Hitler’s type of evil can spread. Hard to read at times as it deals with the choices mothers and fathers are forced to make during wartime. Really well written and definitely worth the read! And it will make you cry and pray for peace.
2. The Book of Mormon: I read this often, almost everyday, and always learn new life insights. It’s changed my life. And it’s free 🙂
5. The Self-Care Solution by Julie Burton: Julie reached out to me and asked if I would read and review her new book. It was terrific, a read mothers should read, study, and heed. I’ve got a copy to give away to the first person who asks! I’d love to send it your way. Congrats, Julie!
6. Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee: I resisted for months – who dares to complicate or cast a shadow on my favorite of books, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD? Alas, I opened the book and was quite delighted with Scout, all grown up. There’s so much controversy over the discovery of this manuscript (Google it – fascinating!), but I’m most intrigued by the fact it was the first draft of what would become her great classic. It shows the great power of an editor!
8. The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman: I loved this. The movie is coming out in September and Cope and I will be first in line! A great love story. How far would you go for the one you loved? Would you let your wife keep a baby that wasn’t really hers – even under serendipitous circumstances? What would you do if someone tried to take away your only child? The writing is tremendous – and you will cry! My favorite type of book 🙂
9. Truly, Madly, Guilty by Liane Moriarty: My BFF librarian, Gail, ordered Moriarty’s new book and personally handed it over as soon as it came in. What a gal, right!? As always, Moriarty nails character. She always makes me laugh and think. I didn’t love the plot as much as her other books, but I still enjoyed the read.
10. Hamilton, The Revolution by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter: This book is the score, with footnotes on how each original Broadway cast member was cast, and the long road of writing such a brilliant work of art. Hamilton, the Musical is now an 11-times Tony-award winning hip-hop musical on broadway. Don’t like musicals? Put that aside. This is unlike anything you’ve ever heard or listened to.
Have you ever wondered how a tiny band of scholars and mercenaries defeated the greatest superpower in the world? And then went on to write a Bill of Rights and Constitution, something never before seen or heard in the world?
Do you know anything about Alexander Hamilton? “Every other founding father’s story gets told. Every other founding father gets to grow old.” Lin-Manuel has put Hamilton’s extraordinary life to music in the form of a rap: “How does a rag tag volunteer army in need of a shower, somehow defeat a global superpower?”
I’m OBSESSED with the genius of it all. Back story: Lin-Manuel Miranda was on vacation reading ALEXANDER HAMILTON by Rob Chernow. He was struck by the brilliant, young, ambitious founding father and told his wife, “I think this could be a hip-hop musical.” She didn’t laugh. Instead: “That would be cool.” And so it began. Chernow’s book is on my list. The girls and I don’t drive anywhere without blasting and rapping Hamilton lyrics (to Nelson’s great embarrassment). There are a few expletives…beware. It will make you grateful for America, it will make you want to “rise up!”, and it will make you cry. It’s SO GOOD!