Happy Spring with Kinder

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Kinder Easter Treats

Happy Spring!

That’s what we celebrate in April with chocolate eggs, egg hunts, bubbles, skipping ropes and pastel colors and mud pies and splashy puddles. I’ve partnered with  Kinder as a #KinderMom to celebrate this fun time once again. Did you catch the Kinder Hunt Eggstraveganza I posted about last week? I hope so!

Our Easter weekend starts in church on Friday celebrating Christ’s death and ends in church on Sunday as we sing ‘up from the grave He arose” triumphantly, celebrating His victory. That my friends is Easter. This year a friend gave us a book called The Sparrow’s Easter Song and we read it today, what a sweet book. The illustrations are well done and the book reads in a lyrical, rhyming verse.

But Saturday? Saturday we celebrate Happy Spring! Happy Spring is about chocolate and almost always includes Kinder. My children each have a basket and follow the little trail from their rooms into the main room where our official hunt begins. My children are starting to get a little older so next year we might be doing a little modification…maybe using the color-coded method that some families use and maybe moving our hunt outdoors to add a little extra challenge. Can I also add that mama enjoys the Kinder Mini Eggs immensely – oh, that delightful hazelnut filling! Might I suggest allowing yourself to indulge a little along with the children?

Kinder is about chocolate…and also about giving back.

“Once again, Kinder® has partnered with Children’s Miracle Network and will be providing 12 baskets to  CMN hospitals.  As well, Kinder® will be donating another $25,000 to help support this non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of children by raising funds for children’s hospitals across North America.” 

I love that they do this each spring, in great part because of our own miracle story. I love Kinder chocolate and I love that they support the hospital that made all the difference to our family!

Do you have a favorite Kinder product? Or do you have an egg hunting tip to share? I’d love to hear!

  • “Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own”
  • #KinderMom
  • Related: Hoppy Spring with Kinder

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Kinder® Hunt Eggstravaganza Facebook Contest

Posted by Jennifer under Reviews/Giveaways (No Comments)
I’m a #KinderMom. You’ve heard it before and I’ll share it again, Kinder supports the The Children’s Miracle Network which supports the hospital that was directly involved in our sweet miracle. This week I’ll be posting my annual Easter post in partnership with Kinder® Canada and Mom Central but I just couldn’t wait to tell you about this contest!

“Kinder® is giving their Facebook fans a chance to win their own Easter basket kit.” They will be giving away one basket each day to a lucky winner on April 8, 10 and 12th so be sure to visit the Kinder® Canada on Facebook. I’d love for a reader of mine to win!

I just love Kinder chocolate and I was a Kinder-loving mom long before I became a #KINDERMom. Now go, go, go and enter the Eggstravaganza contest now!!

Disclosure: I’m part of the Kinder® Mom program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group.  The opinions on this blog are my own.

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#MomHeart Conference 2014

Posted by Jennifer under Homeschooling, Parenting (No Comments)

MomHeartConference

These are my friends, new and old, from the MomHeart Conference in Texas last week; one friend I met online 5 years ago, three I met last year at the conference in NC and two were brand new this year {or four if you count the adorable little girl and boy that tagged along with their mamas}! There are 6 different province/states represented. Isn’t that neat?

Sally Clarkson is a favorite author and speaker of mine, I enjoy her passion for motherhood and her strong, noble ideals! She is also a veteran homeschooler and has an e-conference coming up that talks of homeschooling with excellence. I signed up right away. I don’t know that I will be available to listen in live however Sally assures us we can tune into the recording at a later date too.

If you’re homeschooling, I bet the e-conference will be an encouragement to you, I hope you can make it.  If you aren’t homeschooling, I’d still encourage you to check out her blog and also her books. She is an advocate for motherhood and the family, homeschooling or not. Her ideals, her encouragement and her vision of what God intended motherhood to be will inspire you!

I’m currently reading The Mission of Motherhood and this far, it is wonderful! Have you read any of her books?

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Watering Depression

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Health (No Comments)

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“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

I don’t know when it started exactly. There wasn’t a specific moment or event that I can recall. The third week in January I remember having a bad cold and feeling like I couldn’t make it through Master Kids Club at church on Wednesday evening, but knowing there wasn’t an alternative. Was that where it started? I’m not sure. Since I don’t know exactly when I started down the slope,  I can’t say exactly how long it took for me to realize that I had been here before three years ago.

I’m tired. So tired. Physically and emotionally. If I could do anything I wanted, I would sleep, or stare at a wall. Something that requires nothing of me. Everything is so hard. Getting out of bed is something that requires me to summon  every ounce of energy I have. I get dressed, make breakfast and function because I must. Where is my joy? Somewhere, I know I have it somewhere…but it’s down, so far down that it is easier to just function without it. I don’t want to see people. Talking requires a lot of energy, which again, I pull out of…somewhere…because I have to. Making it through the day is the goal. I wake up and try and figure out how I will make it to lunch, then dinner, then bedtime. Survival. Just make it until I can go to sleep again. Life’s point? Right now I’m not sure.  But tired, really tired, is what I am.

And while I recognized that I was in this dark place, and perhaps my husband noticed, I couldn’t bring myself to say the words aloud to anyone. Three years ago I wrote that depression isn’t a bad word and yet, I live like it is. Why? Fear, I guess, of judgment, of assumptions that I’m not fit for ministry, for parenting…

“She mustn’t be trusting God, she isn’t a good Christian, she’s not fit to be taking care of her children, she doesn’t belong in the ministry, she has a problem, she’s not capable, she’s got too much on her plate, she can’t manage, she shouldn’t be homeschooling…”

Of course that isn’t true, and while some may make assumptions, I’m sure most wouldn’t. But fear is a powerful thing.

And I don’t like to ask for help. I’m not good at it. And I don’t even know what to ask for. And it seems like too much work. Even when I am not battling depression, I struggle with not doing things in and of myself.

I’m not a fan of doctors or of medicine, unless it’s truly needed. Very seldom do I take medications for colds, headaches etc. I prefer to ride it out. I don’t like to put things into my body that don’t belong there {chocolate excepted}. We vaccinate for the big things, like polio, which are life-threatening and very well could make a reappearance without the proper vaccinations, but my family doesn’t get flu shots. I say all of this to say that I haven’t been to a doctor because in my case {based on past experience} I don’t believe it is a chemical imbalance or anything like that so I wouldn’t take any medication so what could a doctor do? I suppose they would test for thyroid issues or something related to energy?

Then I went to a MomHeart Conference. I had already bought my conference and plane tickets so I had to go. I felt awfully tired and was tempted to pack pajamas for each day of the conference, but I packed happy, dressy clothing instead. It was an incredible conference. Women Living Well did a great summary but something that Sally said offhandedly really struck me.

If you water depression, it will grow. ~ Sally Clarkson #MomHeart

Now she was quick to qualify that she isn’t a doctor, she doesn’t know everything about depression and that she  is not making light of it. I don’t remember what all else she said at that time because I was so stuck on that statement.

I wasn’t crazy about it to begin with. It made it sound like I was choosing to be in the state that I found myself in, which is so not true, who wants to be at the bottom of a pit? But the more I thought about it, the more I liked the statement.

It reminds me that I have a choice. I have here, in this place right now. I can choose to embrace this dark place or I can choose the hard work to head towards the light.

What does it look like to water depression? For me, it means choosing what is easy, like staying where I am because requires the littlest amount of energy. Doing what I feel like doing – which is nothing!!

If I am choosing not to water my depression, what does that look like for me? Choosing to continue on, despite how I feel. It’s work, and requires effort which means it’s hard. Choosing to physically get up, get dressed, feed myself good food, get outside for fresh air. I’m choosing to water my soul rather than the depression. It won’t magically fix me overnight, it takes time, but it puts me on the climb back up. I guess in my head I kind of imagine myself walking along life’s path and then it isn’t a sudden fall but a slow slide until you find yourself down there. You’re not sure exactly what happened, and it’s not like you like it at the bottom, but it’s much easier to stay put at the bottom than it is to step by step come back up. It’s hard to climb, to choose to keep on, to do things to nourish yourself when you are exhausted on every level there is to be exhausted on.

imagine walking along and then…—v

I found myself facing depression three years ago, at a time when I was really, really thrilled to be expecting my third child. So of course, being so happy, I couldn’t figure out why I was battling depression. Before that, I had the occasional down day but had never considered myself depressed. This time round, I was equally surprised to find myself in this place. I have a wonderful husband and three children, whom I love so much. I have a beautiful home, a great church, I’m thankful to be a stay-at-home mom who can homeschool, we have a great support team of therapists for littlest one – my special needs son – who is making progress at an incredible rate…my life is not full of hard things, or stressful things…what is wrong with me? The other morning while reading my bible, I read this verse.

Psalm 27:13

I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I love seeing the goodness of the Lord in my life. And I can see His goodness when I fall expertly {this was supposed to say unexpectedly but then spell-check changed it expertly, and I thought I would leave it because I am definitely an expert fall-er} and it is by His goodness and His faithfulness that He brings me out of the pit, one step at a time.The truth is, I don’t know why I am battling this or why I need to go through this but I do know that in time He will bring me out of it and that during that time, I need to water my soul and pour life into it. I wrote about a few things that helped me come out of my depression last time, I find they still hold true this time around.

Pray. Read His Word. Eat Well. Drink Water – Lots. Sleep. Fresh Air. Beauty – candles, bubble baths, flowers. Friends – when when you don’t want to see them. Get Dressed. Go Outside.

I think one of the biggest things for me in this season is sleep. My little guy will be three in June and he still doesn’t sleep through the night. Sometimes he’s up once, sometimes twice or three times for a bottle. As we work through trying to wean him off the bottle, this also requires a lack of sleep as I listen to see if he will fall back asleep. Because he has no words, it’s important that I listen to the tone of his “aaaaaaa” to know when he needs me. Being away this past weekend at the conference, I slept through the night soundly for 3 nights in a row and was able to sleep in a bit for two mornings! Ahhhh, it was lovely.

Anyway, I wouldn’t say this is a helpful, tip-filled post and but rather a this-is-where-I–am-in-real-life post. Maybe you out there who stumble onto this might be encouraged you aren’t alone; that His light is there, just look for it.

Have you, or a close one, battled depression? It’s more common than you think! What do you need to water your soul today?

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The Wild Bird Flew Into The Window

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

Little Birdie

A little birdie had the misfortune of flying into our window a few weeks ago. Chloe dumped out the Kleenex from her Kleenex box to make a nice little home. With Gigi’s help, little birdie was put in the box with a little piece of cloth and tucked into a corner on the deck, away from the wind…and cats. I guess the poor little bird must have been stunned and just needed to regroup. He eventually hopped out of the box and flew away.

Isn’t that a happy ending?

Growing up we often found hurt animals, mostly birds who had flown into our window but we did have other wounded animals to nurse too. We would care for them, love them, feed and water them…they usually died.

It didn’t traumatize me, nor did it make me immune to death. It was sad, but it was life; I had the satisfaction of knowing that I had done what I could.

Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. ~ Matthew 10:29

“Let nature take it’s course” vs. “””doing what you can” – isn’t that the question? I think the biggest concern for DH was avian bird flu. It looks to me, from what I see online, that the biggest risk is infected poultry. Wild birds don’t seem to be of great concern and being careful to wear gloves and wash thoroughly, the risk is pretty minimal. I also found an authorized wildlife rehabilitator in our area for next time Chloe comes home with a wounded bird, which happened frequently this past fall. She seems so drawn to them, she loves animals and has such a tender heart. Actually this past weekend my mother commented on her love of animals and wondered if I am raising a future veterinarian.

We feed birds at our house and even built them a nice little pop bottle birdhouse last year. We enjoy learning about birds and how God made each unique. In our quest to learn more about birds, we learned that a lot of what we ‘know’ is false – there are many bird myths out there!

In any case, feeding or caring for birds, we are nurturing compassion and giving in our hearts. We are making a difference where we are doing what we can.

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How I Get Myself Outside for Winter Play with the Children

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life, Parenting (No Comments)

Snow Fun

Winter’s Snow Fun!

OK, so bad pun but the pictures completely make up for that, don’t they?

I have a confession; I don’t like winter and that is mostly because I do not like cold.  And sometimes, I’m just a little bit lazy. My intended pun isn’t actually "’winter’s so fun” but rather “winter’s no fun”.

I detest cold; I like snow mostly on Christmas cards or if I am inside, looking outside as it flutters down gently. I don’t like winter driving, or how other people drive in the snow. I don’t like scraping my windows. But my most detested job? Dressing little people to go outside!

Hats, scarves, coats, snow pants…but the worst are mittens and boots. I will say that I am very thankful that this year Chloe and John can mostly dress themselves. That makes life much easier. On the other hand, Isaac is still challenging, improving but challenging. Low tone definitely takes putting on snow gear to a whole new level of difficulty!

Anyway I have to literally force myself to take my children outside. No part of me wants to move from a warm, comfortable spot in the house to the windy, chilly, snow-covered outdoors.

But…

Once we get outside? I sure do enjoy myself. We haven’t had any “snowman snow”  this year however we’ve build many snow forts and tunnels, slid down many hills and went for many snow-covered walks.

The children sure do  love when mama’s out there playing with them! There is memories being made, and bonds being formed. I know it’s integral for me to be a part of their outdoor adventures and I find that once I get out there I really do enjoy it. And it’s worth it, so worth it!

Here’s a few of my thoughts on How I Get Myself Outside with my Children:

Dress for it! You make sure your children are bundled up appropriately so do it for yourself too. This Mama got a beautiful down-filled North Face coat for Christmas that has really helped me to enjoy outside more now that I’m toasty warm! I also wear snow pants, boots and warm mittens. I will not enjoy myself and I’ll be counting the minutes to come back inside if I am not dressed properly.

Accountability. I tell the children at breakfast that about our plans; that we are going for a walk, or sliding or whatever. They’ll hold me accountable and remind me (over and over until we go!) to get out there. I tell them first we have to finish our chores/cleaning/ whatever first and I often have children scrambling to get their rooms tidy – just an added bonus.

Don’t just be a spectator. If I’ve passive, I’ll find myself counting the moments until we can go back inside. If I have a plan or destination, then I actually get involved. I get involved: I go sliding, I build forts, shovel tunnels, plan a destination for our walk, go on a scavenger hunt for animals, tracks etc.…maybe a post of ‘things to do outside’ is an order?

Set a small goal. I aim to get out once a week…two or three times on more ambitious weeks, depending on our schedule. Yes, the children are out almost daily but I’ve taken baby steps to increase my outdoor winter activity. {If you exercise on a regular basis, substitute outdoor play with your children for one of your days.}

So are you a winter person? What’s your favorite outside activity?

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You’re a Good Mama

Posted by Jennifer under Faith, Parenting (No Comments)

Butterfly on flowerCredit @Doug88888

“You’re a good mama”. I hear that every so often from seniors at our church. I love them, value their encouragement and it warms my heart, probably because one of my love languages is words of affirmation.

“If you have children, love them, but, don’t try to be a perfect mother.” ~ 60 Things

I am a good mama. And you are too! I think most of us are good mothers. We want what’s best for our children. We want them to love Jesus, to love others, to use their manners, to turn out right…we want to teach them everything they need and more.

We give up of ourselves, our time, our energy, pouring it into them. We have really, really good days. And then the ones that aren’t. We have those  fleeting moments where we could be nominated for a parenting award and then there are those days that we fall and fail in epic proportions.

“Be grateful for every day, even bad days — there’s always a lesson to learn” ~ 60 Things

One of the most important qualities of a good mama? She tries again and again. She is faithful, she doesn’t give up. And you know what? Good days, bad days – either way we’re still good mamas, giving it the best we’ve got and trusting Jesus that it’s enough; that He’ll be enough when we aren’t.

He’ll be enough for me ( & you) and He’ll be enough for them too. Praise God!

Today is Family Day. Celebrate with your family; what a blessing they are!

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Homemade Mini Cheesecakes

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (No Comments)

Mini Cheesecakes

Several years ago I bought a mini cheesecake from Williams Sonoma and I’ve used it a number of times over the years. It came with a recipe on the back which has never failed me. Making a basic cheesecake, I switch up the crusts between Oreo and traditional graham crusts. Then I top it with chocolate, butterscotch, fresh fruit, or whatever I have. We did have some cherry pie filling in the freezer from this summer, which I used on a few of the cakes. I love having a cherry tree in the yard.

Anyway, without further adieu, here is the recipe!

Mini Cheesecake Recipe

For the crusts:

  • 1 cup of chocolate or graham wafer crumbs
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter {if salted, just don’t add the additional salt above}

For the filling:

  • 16 oz (500g) cream cheese
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • Pinch of salt

Start with ingredients at room temperature and set oven to 350 deg F.

For the crusts – stir together dry ingredients and add melted butter. Stir until combined and divide evenly among 12 cheesecakes. Press gently into the bottom. Bake until set – maybe about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool. Reduce oven to 300 deg F.

To make the cheesecakes, in the mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the cream, then sugar and salt until completely incorporated.

Pour batter into the crusts and bake until set, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely before unmolding. The recipe recommends refrigerating for 2 hours before doing it but I’ve done it 10 or 15 minutes after they’ve come out of the oven, just being very careful!

Top with your choice of sauce or topping. {I’ve melted chocolate or butterscotch and thinned it out with cream or used berries }

What if I DON’T have a cheesecake pan? A friend of mine also made these in a muffin pan with muffin liners. I haven’t tried it that way but she said it turned out well, just that they were larger.

These would make a perfect, indulgent treat for Valentine’s Day too!

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Tiny Tidbits 01.14

Posted by Jennifer under Just Life (No Comments)

IMG_1469

Chloe: 7 years, John: 5 years, Isaac: 2 1/2 years

My birthday is January 8th and Chloe’s is the 9th. On January 7th, someone asked Chloe what the next day was and I believe that they were expecting her to say mom’s birthday but rather she replied, “It’s the day that it’s one more day ‘til my birthday.” Made me giggle.

After building the sides of an igloo together, Chloe and I sat on the snowbank to admire our work. Then she said, “Mommy, all we have to do now is build the roof. I wonder how penguins do that.” {and like a bad mother, I didn’t tell her it’s not penguins that live in igloos! lol}

One day I was having a chat with Chloe about some heart issues and Chloe sobbed into my lap, “I’ll never be like Jesus! I always choose the wrong thing.”  And I held her. Sometimes mama feels the same way. Sanctification’s a process, sweet girl!

Chloe: John, tell me a secret that no one knows.

John: Sometimes I keep snacks in my socks for later. {pause} Just kidding.

Me: Really? Well if you were going to keep snacks in your socks, what kind would they be?

John: Well, definitely not mashed potatoes. Maybe steak or corn…yep, I like corn.

{Note to self: check John’s socks after mealtimes.}

“I tried the salt on the road today, mama, and it is yucky. I think without steak, salt isn’t good to eat.” ~ Chloe

Chloe was at our neighbors and called home. She got voice mail and said to her friend, “oh, it says leave a message…” and hung up. She called back again and this time she left a message – her first ever: “What time do I need to come home for dinner? From Chloe To Mommy and Daddy…”. Said in her sweet little voice, it truly was adorable!

IMG_1466and Isaac just does things roll around in the wrapping paper he managed to pull out from under the bed!

Two from end of summer that I don’t think made it into a previous Tiny Tidbits so I will include them:

“Today I am not going to be anything but tired!” ~ said John, as he stumbled up the stairs one morning.

“Mama, don’t forget when we are at the store that I need a button that says, ‘I dressed myself’.” ~ John {Mama is guilty here. I think he overheard a conversation between myself and his aunty regarding one of the outfits he had put together himself!}

IMG_0431This was probably the day {smile}.

All Tiny Tidbits can be found here!

Flashback

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Oatmeal Maple Scones Revisited

Posted by Jennifer under Recipe Box (No Comments)

Oatmeal Maple Scones

I first made these delicious Oatmeal Maple Scones a few years ago. They are wonderful  as a snack, a brunch addition or a breakfast treat! Be sure that you do not over bake these! Enjoy!

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