SNAPSHOTS OF A ROADTRIP

 


 

 

 

 

A summer road trip was all we thought about this spring; we planned and mapped and looked forward to it for weeks. It eventually got shortened from three weeks to one week and ended up being less than a week away from home for a number of reasons that we couldn’t control. How often do we plan things with results in mind and the results we get are so different from what we planned? The hours in the car with the kids made getting home the ultimate goal by day 4. We landed in a hotel one night because a tire popped miles from a town, and we pulled into town too late to get it fixed.  Our last night ended in another hotel as the bright blue Kansas sky turned dark and tornado alerts started popping up on our phones. None of the trip went as we expected, but the vastness of uninhabited land is enticing and beautiful; seeing the variety of God’s creation was worth hours in the car with kids. We saw so much sky. The camping memories we made were golden: reading aloud in the tent, playing cards as a family, bathing with jugs of water from a lake. Still, home was the most beautiful word by the time we pulled in the drive. Sometimes all we need is a few days away to feel refreshed and remind us home is a pretty great place to be.

HYMNS


 

“Speak to one another with Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the LORD, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Ephesians 5:19-20

I love traditions, and the older I get, the more I appreciate them. I started writing out some of my favorite old hymns to sing to my babies and kids as they were falling asleep a few years ago, and I often grab my list of songs, including these hymns, to remember the lyrics when I’m singing kids to sleep. I feel like the hymns double as peaceful songs to help them fall asleep and deep truths for them to think about. Do you appreciate hymns or introducing traditions to your kids? I’m linking some here; let me know if you have any favorites I’ve missed!

And Can it be That I Should Gain

As the Deer

Be Thou My Vision

Come Thou Almighty King

Come Thou Fount

Fairest Lord Jesus

For The Beauty of the Earth

How Great Thou Art

Just as I am

My Faith Has Found a Resting Place

O God Our Help in Ages Past

Praise the Savior, Ye Who Know Him!

This is My Father’s World

Thy Mercy My God

Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus

SPRING CLEANING

 

I’ve been looking around our house the past few months, wondering how in the world we ever called ourselves minimalists.  It’s funny how quickly stuff just piles up.  The past two weeks I have been spring cleaning, though! It was a spring cleaning that turned into a spring purge and ended in a fresh coat of paint through the main room, and now everything is MUCH easier to tidy and fresher to look at! 

I really wish I could be a minimalist, but I know I have a tendency to save things.  When we were on our honeymoon, we watched Hoarders for the first time, and I was so convicted and motivated, it began our little journey of living more simply.  Pete was an unintentional minimalist in college: he didn’t call himself one, but I was shocked the first time I saw his dorm room.  It looked like he could pack up and leave in the night with just a bag on his back, and I was intrigued. 

Eventually, 3 years into our marriage, somebody walked into our apartment and asked if we were just moving in because it looked so empty– we had lived there almost a year.  It was thrilling being on the minimal side of that question! 

And then life happened; birthdays and holidays felt too close together, we bought a house, and eventually it seemed as if clothes and books and toys were pouring out of every drawer, corner, and empty shelf.  It was past time to reevaluate.  I viciously purged out 3 van loads full of stuff to the thrift store and an entire van full of trash/recycling.  I was even finally able to pitch some things that have made it through all the other purges over the years: some textbooks and sentimental items.

It all felt so refreshing and echo-ey that I decided to give our living room a fresh white coat of paint.  It was the perfect way to end a crazy week of spring cleaning, and I’m satisfied with how it looks.  Most of all, I’m pleased with how empty all the little spaces feel again.

Although I wish I could just pitch stuff once and be done, there’s a constant, sneaky flow of stuff coming into our home that piles up so quickly!  Gifts and hand-me-downs, things we purchase, and things the kids pick up here and there are somehow steadily streaming through our doors.  I’m realizing this is another repetitive life processes that never ends.  It’s nice to have a springtime to remind us to open our windows and the doors of every nook and cranny hiding all the unnecessary things taking up space in our homes.

The biggest bonus after my massive spring clean this year: I can tidy so quickly!  I know some people enjoy tidying constantly, but I don’t.  I don’t naturally want to walk around picking up and rearranging little things all day long.  However, because I enjoy cleanliness so much, the only solution I see is having less stuff to tidy.  With fewer clothes comes less laundry; fewer toys make less pickup time; less furniture means less dusting. 

And now it’s Friday, and I’m about to go do a quick house cleanup to prep for the weekend, and I’m so excited to tackle what I know will maybe take an hour instead of three! 

BARBECUE TOFU


I’m blocking out the sounds of the television as I write because we managed to have such a productive day, the kids are getting to enjoy a show while I take a few moments at my desk. The toddler is napping, my tofu is pressing for dinner, and I’m sipping some afternoon tea in this nice, quiet moment after a full day of learning, reading, playing, and an outing to the library. I made it to my scheduled writing time without even scribbling a tiny note on a scrap of paper today; the productivity of today feels noteworthy!

And, just like that, after 10 minutes of writing, I was distracted for 3 hours playing Stratego with Jude (his 4 year old version), finishing dinner, and cleaning up dinner.  However, that’s okay because now I can talk about the tofu that I nonchalantly mentioned above.  In reality, this is the first time I’ve tried cooking it.  And truthfully, I’ve been scared to attempt it.  I decided, however, I needed to try something new for protein after eating an on-again off-again vegetarian diet for about 7 years and never once using tofu.  I’ve eaten a lot of tofu prepared by restaurants that has left me more than unsatisfied, and I think I’ve assumed if they can’t cook it in a way that I like, why would I ever be able to do any better?  I found a few recipes I want to try eventually, but I finally settled on this recipe from ohmyveggies.com entitled Baked Barbecue Tofu (Tofu for Tofu Haters).  This seemed like a good place to start, when barbecue is loved in our home and tofu is new.

To begin, I research research RESEARCH everything to the extreme, and cooking tofu was no exception. I learned from a vegan cookbook from the library that firm tofu cooks best, and all tofu has to be pressed to remove the excess water from it so the blandness of the tofu can be replaced with whatever flavored sauce you choose to cook it in. I followed the tofu prep directions from the cookbook and the recipe closely, and I think I can say it was a hit! Kids weren’t clamoring for more, but we all ate what was on our plates and only the two year old wouldn’t eat his. For dinner tonight I paired it with roasted potatoes and a simple oven-roasted asparagus recipe (one of our favorite’s) from the pioneer woman.  I’m still unsure of the texture; I think that’s the number one reason I’ve been disappointed with tofu before.  However, as far as a meat replacement, it took the place of chicken in a way black beans never can.  I’ll be trying this recipe again but not before I try crumbling tofu in vegetarian tacos first.  I’m hoping crumbling it will hide the texture…?  I’ll let you know when I try it!

What about you? Are you a tofu lover or tofu hater? Do you have a favorite tofu recipe? I would love to hear your favorite way to eat it!

WHAT OUR KIDS EAT ON A PLANT-BASED DIET

I have a secret that I never tell people in person: one of the reasons we homeschool is so that we can feed our children healthy food.  The amount of processed food going into kids these days by the hand of caregivers is ridiculous, and there’s no way to justify it.  When the ingredients aren’t even real food, it shouldn’t take the place of food no matter how cheap or easy it is to prepare.  We can’t give up and grow unhealthy kids for the sake of convenience!

Children are just like adults, and they won’t learn lasting healthy habits if we focus on what we shouldn’t be feeding them.  If our kids think foods high in sugar and fat are good–even in moderation–they will think we are depriving them of good food when we ask them to eat healthy foods.  Because they don’t know any different, they will eat unhealthy foods until they are sick.  It’s our job to regulate what goes into their bodies and teach them about how our bodies work!  They WANT to eat healthy food when they understand that the food they eat grows the cells in their bodies and each cell creates more cells until that group of cells becomes them. 

Kids don’t want to be tricked; they know we have more power than them and that we could manipulate or deceive them.  They’re naturally cautious of our motives and will rebel if they don’t think our reasons are for their benefit.  If we aren’t letting them in on the great secrets of how cells divide and grow our bodies, they won’t ever see the importance of eating healthy foods.  Because processed foods taste good and are often easy and fun, they’ll only eat veggies if they understand the importance of real food. 

Kids are also brutal bullies, and food is a seemingly innocent thing that kids bully each other over.  As adults, we often miss kids bullying each other over food, or we miss its power.  If we place our kids in a setting where it’s cool to have the newest processed food and uncool to bring their healthy lunch, they’ll ignore our pleas that they eat healthy, and we’ll lose the food battle (a battle that is actually for their health.)    

After all that, I feel like I should have a great master menu of what the meals and foods are that I give our kids, but really I just try to shove as much fruit and vegetables into them as possible!  Nothing is packaged or processed.  Breakfast gets loaded down with fruit, lunch is fruits and vegetables, and we have at least 2-3 different vegetables at dinner.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about eating a plant-based diet is to eat some form of protein at every meal.  This is especially important with kids.  Whether it’s just a handful of nuts, nut butter, seeds, beans, or eggs, protein keeps them full and satisfied.   

It’s a glimmer of hope when one of the kids voluntarily asks if a food is healthy or not.  I hope they internalize the why behind healthy eating and continue to make healthy choices for themselves as they get older.  For now I think it’s our responsibility to teach our kids that food from the earth is good and anything else should be avoided or eaten cautiously in moderation.  

Do you struggle with getting your kids to eat healthy foods?  Do you have any tips that I didn’t talk about that help get kids to choose healthy foods on their own?  Let me know!  I’d love to hear how you teach your kids about eating healthy!