Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Make (Healthier!) Sweet Tea

I'm originally from the South.  Florida is south of most places in the United States, but is not in the South.  In the South, the beverage of choice is iced sweet tea.  Much to my strictly nursing mother's dismay, I think my grandmother started me on it at the ripe old age of 3 months. I think sweet tea runs in my veins.

However, due to growing waistlines and concern for a family history of diabetes, a few years ago I started trying to drink UNsweet.  I know...sad.  And I still do, sometimes.  Or at least half and half (which Chick-Fil-A does the best job of doing by the way). 

Today I discovered a new trick.  Instead of using sugar or honey to sweeten my tea, I tried using a bag of a flavored tea.  Voila!  Sweet (but less sugary!) iced tea.

I used 3 regular bags of tea, and one bag of Celestial Seasonings Honey Vanilla Chamomile.  It is delish!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Martha Mom or Mary Mom?

When I first became a mom two years ago, it was wonderful, beautiful and scary. I had no idea what I was doing. So I did what I always do when I am faced with a new challenge...head to the library! (Of course, now sometimes this is replaced with a trip to the very knowledgable Dr. Google.) I read almost every book in our library about babies, particularly the issue of baby sleep.

One book in particular promised that if I kept Ariella on a schedule, she would sleep through the night (which happens to be the holy grail of parenting in case you didn't know) at a very young age. So, naively I put my 6 week old baby on a pretty strict schedule and hopefully waited for the sleeping magic to occur.

Not only was I really worried about Ariella's schedule, but the state of affairs in our house was getting to me as well. I could not for the life of me figure out why adding one tiny person to our family equaled mountains of dirty laundry! I was used to being able to get the house clean in a few hours on Sunday and only having to do dishes and a few spot cleaning things throughout the week. Babies aren't born with the idea that mommies have to clean and cook as well as cater to their every need.

Well, as you can probably tell from my tone, the baby schedule never really magically turned into more sleep. We had to work on that with other methods. And the housework, well, somehow gets done most of the time.

Now that Ilana is here, I have both girls on a very flexible routine and try to focus more on the truly important aspects of parenting children. I have found that if I get the dishes done immediately after a meal and make sure to do one load of laundry from start to finish six days a week, the rest of the cleaning is pretty manageable, even with two little ones.

As I was reading the Scriptures recently, I was struck with how this same struggle was part of women's lives even in Yeshua's time. When Martha saw that her sister Mary wasn't helping out with the "things that need to be done", but rather was sitting listening to Yeshua, she complained to Him. She probably thought He would agree with her and maybe even commend her on her servant's heart. However, He replied, "Mary has chosen the right thing, and it can't be taken away from her."

Those words hit me hard. Now I know that Yeshua was referring to the spirituality of what Mary was doing, but I think there's also an application in parenting.

When our children are grown, what will they (and we) remember and cherish? Not how clean our house was or how orderly our days were or even how early they slept through the night. No, it will be the memories of the precious time we spent with them - playing with them, reading to them, just delighting to be in their presence.

I've been convicted of this more and more the past few months. How much time do I actually give my undivided attention to my husband and both of our precious girls? Last week I decided to take a fast from Facebook and Babycenter (an online parenting discussion board) and uninstalled both apps from my phone to decrease the temptation. It has been an amazing week. My husband and I had great talks we've been needing to have, Ariella and I got to make challah bread together twice and I've spent hours just cooing and giggling back and forth with Ilana. Priceless. These are the things that cannot be taken away from me.

In the end, as mothers and wives we have to have a good balance of Martha and Mary. I had been too much of a Martha for a very long time. We do have a lot to do, but we also need to stop and just focus on the precious people God has placed in our lives. As one person I know says, "You are raising a human being, not managing an inconvenience."

My own mother was a great example of both Mary and Martha. Our house was hardly ever spotless, but never truly dirty either. My sister and I always were the "lucky ones" with the fun mom. If we were at a birthday party, my mom would be the one playing with the kids. When we went to the beach, the other moms would work on their tans while their children played a few feet away. Not my mom. She was building "drip castles" with us. Mom, if you read this, I want you to know that means much MUCH more than any housekeeping job or executive position ever could. Lord, help me to focus on the eternal...nourishing the souls of my children and husband.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Welcome (old and new) Readers!

Yes, I'm back.  A lot has happened in my 2 year blogging sabbatical.  I had one darling little girl in 2009, who you met back on Tavita's Purse.  Ariella is now 2 and as cute as can be!  She's very sweet-natured and loves to laugh. 

We were also very recently blessed with another little girl, Ilana!  She's 3 months old and completely the opposite of her sister.  We've had quite the last couple months experiencing what colic is really about.  But, thank God, the "colic cloud" (as I like to call it) is lifting and she's starting to laugh and smile her head off, while forgetting to scream for 3 hours straight as she was used to doing. 

So yes, I'm very busy as a stay at home wife and mommy these days.  However, I've been yearning to start blogging again for a few months but kept putting it off.  "Maybe when Ilana starts napping better..."  I would say.  Yeah, right.  I should have learned my lesson with Ariella.  If you start saying stuff like that, there's ALWAYS going to be an excuse. 

Well, yesterday as we were preparing for the celebration of the last night of Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), I really wanted some whole wheat challah bread for the evening meal.  However, I had no idea how to get it.  You see, for the last five years of our marriage, I have not once made a challah from scratch.  As I look back now, I cannot believe this.  When I was a home-schooling high school girl, I would get all my school work done Monday-Thursday so that I could have Fridays off to prepare for Shabbat.  Every Friday I would make challah, clean the house, etc.  I would dream of the day I was married, so that I could make challah bread for my husband and our family.  However, once we got married, I kept putting it off.  "Maybe when I'm a stay at home mom..." I would say since I was working a full-time job outside the home. 

What had we been doing for the past 5 years for our Shabbat dinners? Cheating.  Yes, Publix bakery will sell you their frozen challah dough, already beautifully braided, which you can bake at home yourself.  It's delicious, seriously.  But not homemade.

So back to yesterday.  I suddenly decided to bite the bullet and make it.  Who cares if it's not the best in the world?  Just do it!

You should have seen Ariella's face light up with glee as I allowed her to make her own little challah as well.  And guess what?  It ended up being pretty good!  I used this recipe from Allrecipes.

This morning I thought, "Why am I procrastinating on the new blog?"  So here I am.  Just doing it.  It's not perfect, but I think I'll get back in the groove once I do it more often.  Welcome back Tavita's Purse readers!