Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey

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Dark Chocolate Clusters-Dairy Free, No Refined Sugar

1 box Baker’s unsweetened baking chocolate

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/2 c. honey

4 cups any combination of dried fruits, nuts, and seeds.  (Our current fave is coconut and craisins–I know, craisins have some sugar…boo!)

Place chocolate in microwaveable bowl.  Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes.  Add coconut oil and honey.  Microwave for another minute.  Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Stir in dried fruit/nuts/seeds.  Drop onto wax paper and freeze.  When they are hard, you can put them in a container.  They hold their shape at room temperature but get a little soft.  I like to keep mine in the fridge or freezer.  Makes about 16.

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Dairy Free Chocolate Ice Cream Recipe

6 cans coconut milk

2 c. sugar

1 c. cocoa powder

Whisk together.  Chill thoroughly.  (I put mine in the freezer–it’s good if it even gets kind of freezy around the edges.  I scrape the icy parts off, stir them in, and let it continue to chill for a few hours.)  Freeze according to directions on ice cream freezer.  How easy is that???!!!  Delicious too!  Makes 1 gallon.


Frugal Fitness, or The Goat Barn Plan

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Now that baby has gotten past the tiniest phase of the newborn stage, this mama is ready to rejoin the ranks of the skinny people.  It’s been way too long.

 I was thinking about how I’ve successfully done this in the past, my most dramatic success without a diet or a gym, and I thought I’d scratch it down for myself and for anyone else who might find it helpful.  I know I was 20 then and I have a post-baby, post-30  metabolism to deal with now, so I may have to be a bit more intentional, but I think the principles still hold true.  This may not work for everyone, but it worked for me so it might work for others.

 Don’t Diet

 I’ve never had a successful diet.  Not one single time.  I tried dieting many times during my fat teen years, but it never worked.  I remember crying because I was eating a bowl of iceberg lettuce with a few shreds of cheese and one chip every day for lunch, and I wasn’t losing anything.  I remember drinking nothing but a sprite for lunch and having my diet partner laugh that she had blown the first day of our diet, and feeling so discouraged that I just gave up.  (I know, you can tell me already why I failed.)  Even more reasonable plans didn’t work, so I finally decided that I was going to be happy with myself the way I was and if I lost weight, great, and if not, I’d be happy anyway.

 That’s when I started losing weight!  It was very slow (like a pound a month) but it was happening, and it was long-term.

 I don’t know about anyone else, but the key for me was to take my focus off of food.  Diets made me obsess about my fatness and about how much I wanted to eat.  When food became less important (I wasn’t obsessing and I learned to ignore food and substitute my desire to eat with other activities) and being skinny became unimportant, I had success.  Go figure.


 My parents rented while we remodeled our new farm house, which was about 2 miles away.  I had no transportation, so I walked to the farm house and back every day, at least once.  I went from being out of shape to feeling good and having stamina.  I still wasn’t losing weight quickly, but again, I wasn’t focusing on it and I was getting fit.

 I didn’t have a workout wardrobe.  I did this wearing a baggy jean jumper and cheap shoes that hurt.  Not that I recommend that.  But I’m just saying, you don’t have to have special clothes to get fit.

 Eat When You’re Hungry, And Only Till You Are Full

 A few years and a few lost pounds later I adopted the radical concept of eating only when I was hungry and only until I was full.  I ate whatever I wanted as long as I was hungry.  I had fallen into the habit of eating healthy foods when I wasn’t hungry because “It’s just fruit.”  It added up enough to make a difference.  I snacked, I sometimes had dessert, but I wasn’t eating when I was full.  It was nice to come to the table hungry.  That choice, coupled with meeting my future husband (happiness, excitement, and something else to think about) was the clincher and I got down to a very healthy weight quite quickly, without trying.

 The Goat Barn Workout

 Before the wedding I wanted to tone up more, but a gym membership wasn’t an option (long story).  So I did the goat barn workout.  No joke.  I was still walking several miles a day.  I walked really, really fast when I was mad, which was fairly often at that point (not at my fiancé, thankfully), so I was getting good cardio.

 We had dairy goats and I milked them, a job I enjoyed.  It was pretty much the only privacy and alone time I had at that point in my life, so I loved those quiet times with just me and the goats!  When I finished milking, they always had to finish their feed and I took advantage of that time to do squats and press-ups against the barn wall.  I don’t remember how many sets I did, but after a few months of that, I was pretty toned.  Not perfect, not like I would have been if I had been lifting or doing something really strenuous, but not bad.

 The bottom line is this.  You may not have the time or money for the gym, but if you’re reasonably able-bodied, you can still be fit if you are determined enough.

 Now I need to go take my own advice!


Preschool Guilt

Let me begin by saying that this isn’t an anti-preschool post.  Our church has an amazing preschool with beautiful, gentle, dedicated teachers.  If I had a need for a preschool, there would be no place I’d rather put my little ones.  It is a wonderful place.  So I’m not against preschool.

However, I do believe that our culture has an over-emphasis on the need for structured learning at a very early age, and this can create some guilt and anxiety among moms (and I suppose, dads) whose babies just aren’t ready to be away from mom, or who aren’t interested in even the most basic of early education.  But we’ve been conditioned to think that preschool is essential for our childrens’ development.

Maybe I’m just simple, but when I think about it I realize that preschools have only been around for a very short amount of time.  Even most parents my age did not attend preschool.  Did you?  Did your parents?

Very early education is not resulting in better educated people.  Just talk to most elderly people you know.  They are better educated than many people of my generation, and they did not have preschool—or kindergarten, for that matter.  They learned to read and write and do basic math in first grade.  I imagine they learned things like shapes and colors at home.  Many of them had parents who read to them, and they had a lot of time for imaginative play.  And they turned out OK—in fact, many of them make up “The Greatest Generation.”

We just think about education differently these days.  I hear moms saying, “Johnny is turning 2, so she will be in preschool this year,” just as parents of previous generations said, “Johnny is turning 6 so he will be in first grade this year.”  It’s expected.  Other parents say, “Suzy is 2 [or 3] and she should not be around her younger sibling all day, she should be with kids her own age!”  Really?  An excellent public school teacher told me one time that the main purpose of preschool is socialization.  Yet, while I agree that socialization is very important, I don’t believe it’s that important in preschool.  Again, our grandparents did not attend preschool yet are very socially well-adjusted as a whole.

Some preschools do introduce academics early and there is nothing wrong with that.  If a child is ready and has an interest in learning to read at age 4, then go for it!  But I think this is another area where parents can fall prey to guilt.  If their child is not reading and writing in preschool, their child is now “behind.”  If I can be a broken record and hark back to previous generations again, well-educated people who came before us started formal learning at age 6 or 7 and were none the worse off for it.  Another one of my teacher friends, a very well-respected educator with a Master’s in education told me that regardless of when children start or when they are developmentally ready to begin formal learning, they all even out by middle school anyway.  A child who reads at 4 is unlikely to have an edge over one who learns to read at 7 in the long run, unless he’s a genius.

Some kids are just not ready for school at an early age.  One of mine was not interested in learning even the simplest letters and numbers when he was 4.  I was so worried that he’d be behind.  One of my wise preschool teacher friends told me, “Don’t stress so much.  Remember, he has only been alive for 4 years!”  Now he excels at math.  When he was ready to learn, everything clicked into place and he got it instantly.  All the early education in the world wouldn’t have forced learning.

Kids are all different, with different needs.  So are their families.  Many families have legitimate reasons for choosing preschool, but guilt should not  be one of them.

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