936 Pennies: Discovering the Joy of Intentional Parenting
Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!
We have certainly gotten our use out of our espresso machine this week!
Grayson’s little brother, Caleb (13) and sister, Erika (11) came to stay with us for the week. Grayson is the oldest of five children, I am the youngest of three. Needless to say, I have not a clue what to do with two adolescents… When mom first asked if we were interested in taking them in for a few days, I was struck with equal amounts of excitement and fear. Zeke and I enjoy our peaceful mornings, and routine days. I would have to be flexible, which, I’m not always too good at.
One of my first questions: what would I feed them? What would they eat? How could we adapt and balance our healthful eating around two additional mouths?
The morning before they arrived, I set out to the grocery store with an exceptionally detailed grocery list. Extra lunch meat. Cheese. During the week I had baked and froze a couple bags of wheat rolls we could use for sandwiches at lunch. String cheese, kids like those, right? Juice boxes–lots of juice boxes. Plenty of fruit for snacks. And my ultimate mission: healthful dinners.
Monday evening Erika helped me broil some sea salt broccoli for our Fontinella and Nutmeg Whole Wheat Mac’ n Cheese, which we served with some straight-out-of-the-oven wheat and herb demi loaves.
My prayer this week was that I would take advantage of this time to get to know my brother and sister. It would take surrender of my schedule, and the embrace of an exhausting week (which we are now recovering from…) It was strange to think that C and E were only 7 and 9 when I met them. This family, my family, I have known only 4 years, and they have become my own. This week, I was able to spend precious time simply taking in who Caleb and Erika are becoming, by the grace of God and His work in their lives. God is teaching me how truly important and priceless family is, and I am learning to cherish every visit we have with our families, and use those times to make memories, and have meaningful conversations.
Now, don’t get me wrong, although I took a break from my normal weekly tasks and schedule, we did get a lot done this week. For goodness sake, I had 4 extra hands around the house! Hands for sweeping, hands for washing, hands for scrubbing, along with extra sets of arms for holding Ezekiel, and extra eyes to watch him. And with his discovery this week of the kitchen cabinets (amongst other things) I needed those extra eyes for watching!
Tuesday evening was simple. Pizza. I mixed, kneaded, and rolled the wheat dough that afternoon (as well as stuffed the crust with some mozzarella!) E helped me top it with sauce, green and red peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, mozzarella, herbes de provence, and some pulled rosemary chicken which we slow cooked all day.
This week caused me to consider some healthy habits we need to set early in our family. Right now, dinner is relatively easy to enjoy together, as Gray and I eat once he returns home from work, and Zeke is either napping, playing, or sitting with us at the table, in his high chair. Having an additional two kids this week, even with the lax schedule we followed, made me think about how things may become a little more complicated as we (eventually) add more children to this mix. It has been proven that children who eat at least five meals a week with their family are more than 50% less likely to have substance abuse problems. (Dr. Elena Poveda, Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health). It is a crisis and shame today of our society that families do not dine together. Dinner is an opportune time to share prayer, life, conversation, fellowship, stories, experiences, culture, and dreams together. Our family will share dinner together. It is too important to pass up.
Wednesday was Pulled BBQ Pork and Sweet Potato Wedges.
In the morning, after our long walk through the park, we came home and placed 2 pounds of pork loin in the slow cooker, covered it with half a jar of picante sauce, half a jar of zesty BBQ sauce, and topped it with a chopped green pepper. Eight hours later, pulled and soaking in some more BBQ sauce, it was ready to adorn our fresh wheat Sally Lunn rolls (adapted with wheat flour and local honey). I had found some organic sweet potatoes at the market, which I peeled, wedged, tossed in chicken stock, and dipped in a mix of bread crumbs, steak seasoning, salt and pepper, then baked at 425 degrees for about a half hour.
Ezekiel also tried some new foods this week as we introduced him to various spices. He thoroughly enjoyed our leftover sweet potato wedges for lunch the following day, as well as some whole wheat pasta with sweet corn, white pepper, and dried basil.
Thursday Morning I broke out the blender and whipped up my first ever batch of Norweigan pancakes (a perfect balance between a pancake and crepe). The kids and I wrapped them around some organic apricot, strawberry, and blackberry jams, and topped them with a shake of powdered sugar, and some fresh strawberries. Now, my husband, who is very fond of anything resembling a pancake, especially when it comes from his Norwegian heritage, was a little upset when he found out I decided to try this recipe on a morning he had to work. And so, my first ever batch was quickly followed up by my second ever batch, and driven over to my hard-working roofer. A warm batch of Norweigan pancakes with a side of Dayquil was just the thing my sick hubby needed to brighten his day.
Thursday Evening we were excited to have mom and dad return, not just because they were picking up the kids….but also because we wanted some time to visit with them! Thursday evening I found myself greatly exhausted and exceedingly enriched by a week spent getting to know my brother and sister. Although we were excited to embrace our “normal”, and re-enter into our consistency (little man had hardly napped all week in anticipation of play time with his aunt and uncle…) we were definitely sad to see them head home. As well as a bit tired, I was also done cooking. We opted for a deep-dish, Chicago-style pizza from downtown, which, when it arrived, we realized it could probably actually feed our entire downtown…
The dinner table is a place in which children come for consistency. They are reassured by it, met by parents who anticipate their arrival, and meet them where they are at. The dinner table is a safeguard against a private life apart from parents, against loneliness, against unhealthy eating habits, against busyness, and against eating disorders. The dinner table creates an oasis, a place where a child comes and embarks on culture; a meal made by hands that love them, prayer which protects them, and conversation which inspires them. Family is an incredible thing, one we often don’t realize. It is unique. It is consecrated, a gift from God, with which in turn we glorify God. It is an avenue by which we grow. It is a refuge in which we restore. God gave it. Let us preserve it, nourish it, and cherish it– our family.
Raising kids stirs something deep in our souls — an innate knowing that our time is finite. Taking my kids outside in creation, I’m discovering how to stretch our time and pack it to the brim with meaning. God’s creativity provides the riches of resources for teaching the next generation who He is and how He loves us. Join our adventure and discover inspiration and resources for refusing rush, creating habits of rest, living intentionally, and making the most of this beautiful life!