Thursday, March 29, 2012

Creating Easter Traditions

It is hard to believe that Easter is quickly approaching! I love this holiday and want it to be special to my girls and I am trying to start traditions that will keep the focus on Christ. I thought I'd share a few that I have recently found and am considering:

I absolutely LOVE this idea for celebrating Lent with the kids, although for my little ones I might shorten it to just the week before Easter. Here is the blogger's description: "We placed a styrofoam wreath on the table, to be kept during the 40 days of Lent, with a cup of toothpicks nearby. Each night at dinner, those at the table had the chance to confess sin from the day. When they did so, they placed a toothpick in the wreath, symbolizing the thorns in the crown of Jesus on the cross....on Easter morning, before the children awoke, I removed all of the thorns and replaced them with spring flowers!" She also has a delicious looking recipe for sweet potato biscuits you might want to check out!

-- Resurrection garden -- On Good Friday, take a baking dish and fill it with dirt, rocks, sticks, etc and a hollowed out potato (as a tomb). It makes a great decoration to remind us of Christ's sacrifice. On Easter morning, remove the potato and fill the garden with flowers to demonstrate the life that Christ brought through his death. HERE is a good picture and description of what one family did.

-- Resurrection eggs -- you can easily make your own or buy them at a Christian bookstore or Amazon -- the children crack open an egg each day and a small token corresponds with a Bible passage that explains the resurrection story.

-- Here is a great download for a 12 days of Easter unit to do with little ones. It corresponds to the resurrection eggs.

Benjamin's Box: The Story of the Resurrection Eggs is a great resource to go along with the eggs. My girls have really enjoyed following the story of Benjamin as he learns about Jesus. He gathers the same objects that are contained in the resurrection eggs.

Rocks in the basket -- Fill Easter baskets with rocks to represent your sins... you can write specific sins on the rocks or just say them as you place the rocks in the basket. Then cover the rocks with a red cloth to represent the blood of Christ, talking about Christ's death on the cross and what it meant for us. On Sunday morning you can replace the rocks with flowers representing life or whatever gifts you might wish to give your children on Easter morning and/or place the rocks in a different basket with the name of Jesus written on it to show how Jesus took away their sins.

Color a red dot on your children's palms and write their name on it to remind them that Christ died specifically for them!

This Focus on the Family article gives a special activity for each day of the week leading up to Easter.

Easter In The Garden -- a touching retelling of Easter as seen through a child's eyes

The Legend of the Easter Egg -- teaches the deeper meaning behind the Easter eggs -- a boy learns that just as a chick breaks out of an egg, so had Jesus broken free of the tomb of death. Easter eggs remind us that Jesus conquered death and gives us eternal life.

And just for fun, here are some twists to the traditional egg hunt:
Cascarones -- I love this fun idea of filling real, empty eggs with confetti and allowing the children to race around, smashing them on each other. I suppose it could get out of hand, but I love the avoidance of ridiculous amounts of candy and I think it would make for some fun pictures!

or you could just play this fun Easter Egg Bashing Game :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

High Mineral Sports Drink and Coconut Milk Tonic

I promised that I would post the recipes that my holistic doctor gave me for Karlie. I am still collecting the ingredients for them, so I don't know yet if she likes them but I will update eventually. Also, she was just spouting off ingredients from memory and I was frantically writing them down as I tried to keep the pen away from Abbi, who was bored and strapped to my chest in the Beco. So I am hoping that she didn't forget anything and that I wrote down everything correctly and I will update as I refine the recipes :)

High Mineral Sports Drink: My doctor told me that as long as you get the best quality mineral salt (she actually recommends Redmond Real Salt over sea salt ), this drink is more effective than most mineral supplements that are super expensive. Thankfully, this drink does not cost much to make. She said that it would be good for all of us and Mark would especially like it after playing sports. It is also very healing to the gut because it contains aloe vera juice, apple cider vinegar, and a pinch of baking soda.

The first thing you have to do is make a "sole" (a super-saturated saline solution). She said that you boil water, pour it in a pint jar, and then add heaping spoonfuls of high-mineral salt, stirring and adding more and more until the water is so saturated that the salt will no longer dissolve and it starts sinking to the bottom of the jar. Even if you don't make the "high mineral sports drink," it would still be very good for anyone to make the sole and put 5 to 8 drops in a water bottle each day.

Ingredients for the HMSD:
Fill a 16 ounce jar with:
1 Tbs Apple Cider Vinegar
a pinch of baking soda
a serving of Aloe Vera Juice
a capful of Sole (super saturated saline solution)
3 oz. strong Concord grape juice (not plain, not from concentrate, not Juicy Juicy! This is the real deal and will be considerably more expensive than regular grape juice but you only need a tiny bit so it will last a while)
fill the rest of the jar with good quality filtered water (no fluoride or other chemicals!)

Coconut milk Tonic -- Here is the basic recipe for the coconut milk tonic. My doctor recommended making a simple chocolate syrup (from cacao powder, a natural sweetener, salt, and vanilla) to get Karlie to like it more. She also wants me to add in an egg yolk from a farmer I trust to increase the protein count. I would also like to add in probiotics to help heal her gut and eventually cut down on the water to give her more fat.

1 can whole coconut milk
2 1/4 cups water or coconut water
2 Tbs maple syrup, a pinch of stevia, or other natural sweetener
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. dolomite powder (for calcium)

Directions: Heat on stovetop on warm and powder is dissolved. Cool before serving

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Some Current Favorites

Today I am going to share some of the things that are our favorites this week at our house. This is a completely random list of what we have been enjoying this particular week and I hope you will share some of your favorites in the comments!

Music most often requestedQuestions With Answers -- we have recently started doing Doorpost's children's catechism again with the girls before bed and they love the Songs for Saplings Cd's that answer most of the same questions. I actually prefer the wording of the CD's (although I really like the catechism as well) because it is simpler and often contains the scripture that goes along with the question. We recently got the 2nd volume on itunes and the girls ask to hear it all day long. The songs are quite mellow with just a guitar and the girls love that children sing the answers to the questions. It has also opened up some really good conversation with Karis as she asks questions about the theology described in the song.
(We also absolutely love Seeds Family Worship and Sovereign Grace Children's Cd's)

Favorite read-a-louds -- Betsy-Tacy, A Bear Called Paddington, and One Morning in Maine

Favorite Kid's Series -- Ladybug Girl Books -- While these are not the classic books I usually request at the library, my girls absolutely love them and I love the fact that they spark their little imaginations and they run around the house all day pretending to be Lulu or Marley :)

Favorite Book on CD (for naptime): Little Women (Karis) and Blueberries for Sal (Karlie)

Chicken Lazone -- my current favorite, super easy, fast, and absolutely delicious recipe. We eat it over quinoa.

Farmer's breakfast Hash -- My husband's current favorite breakfast... super filling and delicious!

Homemade cereal -- what my 3 year old wants to eat at every meal :)

Like-Lara Bars: My favorite snack!

My favorite book -- Loving the Little Years: Motherhood in the Trenches -- I know we've mentioned it on here before, but I just got around to reading it this month and I keep reading it over and over again because it is that good and easy to read. It is such as easy read that I read it all in one evening and then decided that I wanted to actually remember all her ideas and continue to be encouraged and convicted so I then read one chapter a night before I went to bed each evening. I love the fact that she is still in the middle of mothering little ones and experiencing the exhaustion and sometimes overwhelmingness of our task. I feel like she is reading my thoughts and encouraging me and convicting me at the same time. This will be my "go-to gift" for mothers of multiple children!

Watching old home video clips with the girls -- my husband recently found some old cd's we made from when we got our dog and our first beach trip with our two littles and when Karlie was born. We showed several of them to the girls and they just had the best time watching them! I think we are going to have to start having an old family movie night once a month because it just makes them smile so much to see what they looked like so little and how much we loved them and enjoyed playing with them :)

This Melissa and Doug Play House Reusable Sticker Pad -- Nina brought this the last time she came and the girls ask to play it all day long!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Super Easy 2-Ingredient Shampoo

I've been searching for the perfect natural shampoo for quite a while now. I started out dong the simple baking soda technique and it worked fine for a while. But during the winter, my scalp got a little too dry and I decided I needed something that would do a better job of moisturizing. So I reverted back to buying a more natural shampoo and really liked Hugo Naturals Smoothing Shampoo (only $8 at vitacost). But I still wanted to be able to make my own. I saw this super easy recipe on Pinterest and knew I'd like it. Just coconut milk and castile soap, two things I use regularly anyways. I used an old dish soap bottle and poured in 1 part coconut milk (I use Native Forest brand because it is the only one I know that is BPA free) to 2 parts liquid castile soap (I use Dr. Bronner's). It took barely a minute and about 4 dollars and I have enough shampoo to last me at least 3 months and probably more.

I've been using this shampoo for about 3 weeks now and I've been really pleased with it. It is very moisturizing and I haven't even taken the time to make the recommended ACV rinse to go with it. The only downer is that I have had to wash my hair every 2 days instead of every 3 like I used to, but I think that is just my scalp getting used to the lack of chemicals and eventually I will go back to every 3 days. I've had the same issue each time I have transitioned to a natural version of a product and it usually resolves itself after my body gets used to the lack of chemicals. The fun thing about using the castile soap is that there are several scents you can choose from. I started out with peppermint because I had bought a bunch to clean with back in the summer when we had an ant problem (supposedly ants don't like peppermint smell), but I am looking forward to trying lavender the next time. I just thought I would share!