Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Low Calorie Sweet Treat or Snack!



Yes, apples.

Well...I baked up a little ditty that gives the flavor of apple pie without the crust, butter, calorie overload.  I know it's not new, as Solomon said there's nothing new under the sun, but it sure tastes good.

First, grab some apples.  I used about 8 to 10 decently sized red delicious ones.  I bought 30 pounds of them today, on top of the full bin I already had--can't turn down a sale of about 5.5 to 6 pounds for $2, so I snatched up a rather large amount at our local owned grocery store.  I quartered, seeded, and peeled them, sliced them into probably half inch slices, and layered them in a baking dish sprayed with non stick spray.  After layering lots of them in there, rather deep, I sprinkled on cinnamon, then baked at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  You can easily add apple pie spice, vanilla, or other flavors and spices to suit your taste.  Pull them out, sweeten to taste.  If you use some Granny Smiths or other varieties they are pretty sweet and may not need anything.

You can also leave the skin on, and instead of quartering, core out the middle, add your spices and a dash of vanilla, maybe a little brown sugar or brown sugar blend, and bake that way.

The first pan of these went in under 10 minutes.  So, I have 2 more full pans (a lot more apples) in the oven baking away.  I've been encouraging the family to eat more fruits, and this is a good way to get them do to so.

Also, we've been encouraging apples with a spoon of peanut butter for the 2 kids who don't have a peanut allergy.  It's got the apple's fiber and the protein from the peanut butter, and it seems to help tame the tapeworms.

I guess you could call this gluten free as well. :)

This is really simple, but it seems satisfying, and it's *almost* like having apple pie, but without the excess calories.


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Mom, You're Skinny!

I've gotten off track with the Weight Loss Challenge updates.  I know, I'm bad.

Thank you all who have continued to comment and encourage, I really do appreciate each and every one of you!!

This has been another challenging week.  As with the last 2 weeks, this one has had more challenges that only God could see us through and keep us part way sane.  We get tugged and pulled in many directions with special needs children on one side and aging parents with their own significant needs on the other.  I got little done at home this week so far within our own house, but housework will always be there I suppose.  While hubby has worked his part time job I've tended to his parents' home, ran seemingly unending errands, tended children's needs, tried to keep the tribe fed, harvested lots of salad from the garden, squashed a few rebellions in our teenager boys, and have made several attempts to get out into the yard and work on much needed trimming.  The Kansas prairie is trying to reclaim a little piece of its past in our yard.  Oh there's much more, and I even slept somewhere in there (yay!).

This past week has probably been the worst on eating and exercise I've had in the past nearly 9 months of the weight loss challenge.  There's no excuse, I should have planned ahead, but I neglected to.  I should have dragged myself out of bed earlier to do exercise, but I let the blanket keep a hold on me instead.  I let the vending machine/grab what you can on the run/keep on the move and run yourself ragged days take over instead of keeping them under control.

But there's always a chance to restart and get under control.

This week, middle child told me "Mom you're skinny".  I'm by far not, I haven't dropped any more sizes lately, but it sure made me feel better.  Maybe I should look at myself as he sees me--not just a clothing size, but as someone who loves him no matter what.  He doesn't care if I'm a 14/16 or a 40, he just cares that I'm here to still be mom.

As the outdoors activities start picking up, so is my desire to continue on the journey to a healthy body.  While I would love to get down to a size 8, I'd prefer to be healthy.  The kids have high energy and I have to have enough energy of 3 moms to keep up.  Right now I'm chugging along at about 3/4 of one mom.  I'm saying "sleep sleep sleep" and they say "run run run".

Here and there I've still been working a little on the book I started back in the winter.  It's very slow going, as seems at the end of the day once the kids are in bed I am ready to crash right after them.  I've tweaked recipes that are staples here and still need to write them down for adding in, I use a lot of Betty Crocker recipes and a handful from our Cuban cookbooks and some specialty ones.

I hope you all are having a great week!  I continue to pray for you all (especially regular readers here whom I've gotten to know and love)!

Lots of hugs from Kansas......





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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Enjoying the Early Morning Sun

It's about 8:30am on Saturday.  The sun is shining, the windows are open and allowing a gentle 60+ degree breeze to ruffle the curtains.  The birds are chirping and our younger cat is stalking one that isn't watching well.  The espresso is made and breakfast is done, laundry is going, litter box duty done, and dishes await my attention.  The radio is tuned to the VCY America network and children's programming glorifying God plays.

It is peaceful.  Calm.  Quiet.

For those of you who are familiar with our family, it isn't usually so peaceful and quiet.  Normally it's quite the opposite.  That is to be expected with two 13 year old boys and an 11 year old girl, especially on the autism spectrum.  Normally the younger cat is playing extreme "chase the rubber frog or pencil grip" down the hallway or up and down the stairs with the middle child, or chasing after a long piece of bias that we call the "Little catcher", as it has a 100% catch rate for Little (the nearly 4 year old Korat) although it has nothing to hold her.  Just walk down the hallway and magically Little attaches to it. Middle child whoops and hollers and has a blast doing this all with her.  She is an awesome cat to have with this family, she's as wild as they are!

Today I've even gotten in a 3 mile dvd walk.  Here in a little bit it's time to go out and put a sedum in the ground and then do weeding at hubby's parents' house.

The past week or two has been busy.  It seems like each week has been beyond busy!  This week we had staff that work with middle child quit with no notice, which devastated him.  So since Monday we've heard heart breaking wailing throughout the house, and even a minor meltdown, as he hurts.  People who work with special needs children sometimes forget that they do get attached, and when you quit without notice they hurt.  They lose someone they've come to know and love, and never see them again with no explanation or anything.  So the search continues for a new staff person to help work with him.  Tuesday was yard work day, and Wednesday was Special Olympics day for our area.  Middle child won a bronze in the 50 meter run, and 2 ribbons in the softball throw and standing long jump.  I was there for most of it, but had to leave in order to be back for the oldest and youngest getting out of school early in their district.  Oldest has his Special Olympics run in a couple of weeks in another region that's fairly close by.  There were appointments Thursday and Friday as well.  Hubby worked his part time job, I tried to keep up in housekeeping among running all over to do appointments and take kids here and there.

The previous week middle child had a meltdown on Monday, and oldest was suspended from school Tuesday and Wednesday.  Then there were appointments around those too, and a casemanager visit that happens monthly anyway.  It was a rather stressful week, where last week was more exhausting in just all the running and tending emotional needs and physical needs.  It seems as the kids get older, the needs increase and get more intense when meltdowns flare up.

Middle child came to me this week and showed me something he was really concerned about.  He had hair on his fingers.  He is 13, but functions about 10 or 11, maybe a little younger depending on the issue.  He didn't realize he was starting to get peach fuzz on his chin too.  He freaked for a minute, until I told him that is what happens when boys become teenagers, and it's totally normal.  When he heard it's normal for teenagers, he took a minute, thought about it, and said "cool".  He really seems to like being reminded he's a teenager now.  A big kid.

Throughout the hectic weeks, I've been trying to keep up with some kind of exercise.  It hasn't been easy with all the demands, but some exercise beats none.  I've mostly behaved with eating, trying to keep on track, lots of fruits, veggies, cottage cheese, oatmeal, tea, coffee, and last night even a Little Ceasar's pizza.  I've decided to let bananas go, they flare up the sugar monster too much.  The sugar content in them is high, and evidently it's enough to trigger that "gotta have it" button.  That's a bear to get shut off, let me tell you!

How have you been this week?  I hope you're having a good week, staying safe if it's been storming where you are, and being faithful to your local church!



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Monday, April 20, 2015

Foxe's Book of Martyrs

This weekend I started through the newer version of Foxe's Book of Martyrs. I've read the older versions in "Middle English" in the past, and thinking it's time to go back to it. I'm fine with using a dictionary if needed, the older/harder words are not a hinderance but a chance to grow in vocabulary.
That's something I have found in "new/updated" versions of old books--the language is dumbed down for our society that wants things easy. Our bibles are dumbed down into revisions that are in every day conversational English, our classic books are rewritten into conversational English, and that takes the original words and meanings out of them. It doesn't make us expand our understandings and our vocabulary, but instead drags the work down to our level. Why not bring ourselves UP to the mark?
Anyway, if you haven't read Foxe's Book of Martyrs, regardless of version, you really should. You'll see what the early church fathers, faithful women, and even children had to endure for their faith, for teaching the Gospel, for standing on the fundamentals of the Word, for simply having a copy of just one book of the Bible, or just admitting they were a Christian. What we call persecution here in the US is nothing compared to what the early Christians went through--only satan himself could think up such tortures. Sadly, with the people persecuted in the Middle East and communist countries, their stories are mirroring what happened to the early Christians. But our world is too much enthralled with the latest tv show or what is trending on facebook or twitter to pay attention.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs can be found free online to read, or you can purchase various updated versions usually inexpensively. Some libraries carry it--here ours does, but the library in the next city doesn't as it watered down its Christian section.

Foxe's Book of Martyrs on Gutenberg Project (Free)

Foxe's Book of Martyrs (Free)

Foxe's Book of Martyrs (Sacred Texts page--Free)

It is good to know what our forefathers went through, so that we may be aware and hold fast to our own faith should it be called out like theirs.

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Thursday, April 16, 2015

Following the Crowd

The crowd mentality is prevalent in just about any type of circle known in the world.  If a few do a certain thing, it becomes a "trend", and then the crowd follows the "trend" in order to fit in, regardless of how silly or even unhealthy the trend is.

It isn't any different in conservative circles.  We just have a conservative crowd on the bandwagon.

I got on my soapbox on my personal Facebook page yesterday about something as silly as the ingredients of "all natural" sweeteners.  It seems everywhere from commercials to hard copy ads we have people yelling at us or putting in our faces "all natural" this or that.  It's pushed in certain diet fads as well, "all natural" items that are processed in the factory for a long shelf life, "all natural" ingredients that are anything but.

The way people chase after these processed "all natural" products, it's almost treated as a god.

Something to remember, regardless of what way you choose to eat, what diet plan you follow if any:  if it's coming from the middle aisles of the grocery store, or would be found there (if you purchase online) otherwise, it's processed, has preservatives, and is *not* all natural.  If it can sit on a shelf for a year or so, it's not natural.  Natural goes bad in a short amount of time.  Natural will turn odd colors if left on the shelf a while.  Natural had a mama.

Case in point:  stevia.  It's a nice natural sweet plant.  It is green, you eat its leaves, and it grows like a bush if you keep pruning the leaves to eat.  I've grown this.  When you dry it for powder, it is not white.  It is green and brown, or totally brown depending on the depth of dehydration you go for.  If it's white, don't eat it--white is not good on a natural item.  In the stores, regardless of whether it's in a bulk bag or in little packets, it's not the natural leaf.  It's white.  It has maltodexterin, which is a starch that produces bulk and texture.  It also has "natural flavors", which when the product comes from a factory, those "natural flavors" are produced in a lab and plugged in to the product.  It's found with the baking supplies in the middle of the store, right next to cane sugar, Splenda, Equal, and so on.  A *real* stevia leaf would be found in the garden department or nursery, or in the herbs in the produce section with other perishable items.  Swerve, another sweetener, claims to be all natural, but is produced through the lab and in the factory--using extracts and "natural flavors", and a preservative to keep everything from turning funky while waiting on the middle shelves for someone to buy.

Why do these items trip my trigger?  False advertising.  Don't put "all natural" on something obviously produced in the lab and has a shelf life longer than my 18 year old cat.

If folks truly want all natural items, shop the outter aisles of your store.  The produce department, meat department, some of the dairy department.  Shop your farmer's market.  Grow your own.  But don't shop the middle aisles of the store and expect "all natural" to be natural, and then defend it to the death--you'll die in vain.

Ok, I feel better now.



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Monday, April 13, 2015

His Grace is Sufficient

Today has been one of those days.  

I'm sure we've all had them at some point, where the hurried morning routine goes...well...in a rush...  
All looks like it'll be great...

Then disaster strikes.

For us that disaster usually ends up being our middle child (13) freaking out when the bus pulls up to the driveway for him.  He cries "I don't want to go", screams a high pitch scream, and runs for the porch, and anyone in his path he attacks head on.  It's usually me.  Today it was his stepsister.  

This is almost on schedule, revolving around visits to his dad's 3 hours away and in the next state.  It's been happening a lot lately, and it leads to more interactions with outside agencies in which we don't really want a lot of contact with in that manner.  Thankfully, almost everyone in contact with him understands his limitations.  They get that he has autism, that he has mild mental retardation, and bi polar disorder, and treat him accordingly.  When he has these meltdown sessions, it's like a different child emerges, one full of rage, fear, anxiety, that can't handle the day to day activities of life, and definitely couldn't handle the real consequences of actions if he were treated as an average 13 year old doing the same actions.  

Most days he is the sweetest boy, with lots of hugs and "I love you's", likes to tickle and play around, is goofy and silly.  He talks a few miles a minute and makes all kinds of interesting noises, and laughs a lot.  Then on some days, the "other" side of him emerges and we have to rely on God's grace to get through.

Today is one of those days.

Today, I decided to let him hear one of my prayers from his room, as I prayed for healing to his heart for whatever is hurting him.  I prayed for him to have peace, healing, rest, and protection.  I cried the entire time.  

He did too, and then fell into a deep sleep for an hour or so.

God's grace helped him find some rest and peace, and he awoke calm, able to handle a 15 mile drive to school, and continue through his day.  

God's grace has helped us with the stress of the day, as other pressures have mounted since just this morning that had to be addressed.  

Today, we had another glimpse into the power of prayer, and the sufficiency of His grace.

Isaiah 26:3 - Thou wilt keep [him] in perfect peace, [whose] mind [is] stayed [on thee]: because he trusteth in thee.

Philippians 4:6 - Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

John 16:33 - These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

I am so thankful that the Lord puts His Word about peace, about mercy, about grace, where I can find them.  As parents with special needs children, we need them daily.  

I know I am not alone, there are many many special needs parents out there who need that daily dose of peace.  

For you, special needs parent (and non-special needs parent), a great big hug....





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