logo
cuppacocoa
May 23, 2016

I’ve heard myself talking about this book so much in the last two months that it’s time I talked about it with you. It’s called You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity by Francis Chan:

There are plenty of great reviews of the book online, so I’ll let you peruse those here. A major theme in the reviews is that this is not a typical book full of advice to improve your marriage. It’s a book about getting your perspective on life and focus on God straight. A byproduct of that is an improved marriage. For example, if you really lived life with eternity in mind, you probably wouldn’t get as caught up in the petty, selfish details that can run rampant in a marriage.

Really, he says it A LOT better. Because he’s Francis. It’s in the intro. I recommend reading at least that much!

Instead of a general review, I want to talk about one point in particular that stuck with me: humility. As a Christian, I try to be like Jesus. I try to think and do and love like He does. I fail all the time. I mean, Jesus was everything good (and nothing bad). The expectation isn’t that I’ll ever be 100% like Jesus, but that I keep trying. Still, it’s overwhelming. Where do you even start in an effort to love perfectly? In chapter 3, Francis says:

Both Lisa and I believe that more than any other attribute of Jesus, His humility is the key to a healthy marriage. If two people make it their goal to imitate the humility of Christ, everything else will take care of itself. It really is that simple. Arguments escalate when we want to be right more than we want to be Christ. It is easy to get blinded in the heat of disagreements. Soon, all we want is to win, even if victory requires sin. The one who wins the argument is usually the one who acts less like Christ.

May 18, 2016

easy indoor exercise for toddlersBear-crawling along the blue line

There is a long line of blue tape that runs across our living room. It looks like a very, very long “I.” It’s only been there for a few days, and I’m already forgetting that it’s a weird look in a house. Blue tape? Across the floor? What’s so weird about that? Doesn’t everybody have a pretend balance beam running across their rug and wooden floor?

Well, as long as it makes sense to my toddler, it’s all good. It’s there because when I started taking her to gymnastics class a few weeks ago, I realized she had some room to improve when it came to things like… walking straight haha. So I set down a blue line and did exercises with her every day, and the following week, she showed tremendous improvement in class! Bonus, it got her as good and tired as a good romp around a playground would have done… without stepping foot outside of the house! This is always a win when you’re holing yourself up at home for the afternoon so the baby can get a good nap in!

Here are some of the exercises we’ve been practicing. If you’ve got a toddler in the house, try ’em out! You can use an existing straight line that goes across the kitchen or put some blue tape down to make it feel official. It’s amazing how many activities you can build around a straight line!

May 11, 2016

roasted broccoli with japanese dipping sauce recipe“More bwoccoli pweeaaasseee!!”

Did she just say what I thought she did?

I heaped more broccoli on her plate and she went for it.

A couple minutes later, again: “More bwooooccoli peeease!”

Husband and I exchanged a glance. Just earlier, she saw the dinner spread and had spontaneously made up a song about spaghetti and meatballs on the spot. Now, five minutes into dinner, she still hadn’t touched her spaghetti and meatballs. She was just eating more broccoli!

“Ben, I feel like I just earned a mom badge of some sort.”

The My-Kid-Asked-for-More-Vegetables one, I think. AKA the “More broccoli please!” badge:

my kid asked for more vegetables

I’ve served broccoli and cauliflower this style several times, and she always eats it up. But when she kept asking for more today, I knew I had to share the magic with you! The whole family loves enjoying broccoli and cauliflower this way. I’ve even made the sauce without the ginger and orange juice, and it was still quite good (but better with!). It’s perfect for a meal where you’re going to get your hands on your food anyway, and I’m pretty sure dipping sauces are one of the best kept secrets to getting toddlers to eat anything!

Try it out, and if your toddler asks for more broccoli at dinner, be sure to leave a comment here so I can send you a  personalized .png badge ;).

May 8, 2016

Change your marriage in ten minutes

“Can we talk about this tomorrow?” he’d say, not even lifting his head off his pillow to face me.

“…Sure,” I’d say, dejected as I flopped my face away from him.

“You really want to talk about this now?”

“No.”

“It’s fine. Let’s talk.”

I hear him turn his head slightly.

“No. I don’t want to. Night.”

“Are you sure?”

OF COURSE NOT! But I’m not going to be all needy now. Humph.

“Yes. Good night.”

He snores. I simmer and sigh and feel my “love tank” approaching empty.

Well, it’s not like he cares. He’s sleeping.

It’s a lie, I know, but when it’s late at night, those are easy for me to dwell on. This is probably because late at night is not really the best time for anything except sleeping, even for night owls like me.

May 5, 2016

A while ago, I shared my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and dropped in a fun link about the chemistry of cookies. I really like the video and think about it each time I put my baked goods in the oven, anticipating the delightful Maillard reaction!

Well, Julissa noticed that little linky, and she thought I’d like this neat infographic she helped make on The Science of Baking. It feels like stuff I remember learning from the geeky chef Alton Brown at some point, but all summed up in one infographic with cute little burping yeasts to boot (see “Leavening” below). I did like it, and since I want to read it again and again, I figured you might enjoy a look-see. If you love baking and appreciate knowing what a teaspoon of baking soda actually does, or why you shouldn’t sub in bread flour when you’re baking a cake, this is the infographic for you!

I’ve also decided that if I ever make Ben another sappy Valentine’s day card, it’s going to feature something cheesy like “You Can Be the Sugar to My Amino Acids” in it somewhere. That, and maybe You can be the 0 to my 1 (does that even make sense? I hope that is even a compliment… #nerdfail).

I hope you like it, and please feel free to comment with more cheesy analogies :].

May 2, 2016

Date night

A couple months after our youngest was born, my mom offered to watch the kids so we could have a date night.

…COOL! DATE NIGHT!

It seemed like a nice idea, so we decided to do it.

Wednesday night found us in the car: baby in the backseat, baggy-eyed parents in the front.

“So I thought we could go on a dessert tour,” Ben began, as he took off his glasses to rub his tired eyes.

That was nice of him. Because I like desserts. He thought of me. Sweet. But I could read his body language loud and clear.

“We don’t have to do this. You should sleep,” I said.

“No, no, it’s okay… it’s DATE NIGHT!” he said, forcing a smile. He had caught a cold and was still recovering, yet was determined to make this happen.

“Really, it’s okay,” I yawned.

“No, let’s go!” he said, squeezing excitement into his voice. So we went.

I have a semi-candid picture of it.

April 26, 2016

Teaching Magnatiles (8)

Magnatiles are magnetic tiles. They are one of the hottest STEM toys out there!

Last week, I sat my daughter down with her box of Magnatiles. Then I went to go clean up in the kitchen. A few minutes later, she called out, “See, Mama, see! Don’t destroy it!”

I came to see. It. Was. Spectacular.

Suped up crib

I mean, she’s not even 2.5 yet. I’m over 30, and I’m not sure I could make something that cool. Half serious.

To be fair, I don’t think she sat down and thought, Hm, I think I’m going to create an awesome mansion castle building thing. Let me create a solid foundation using a combination of squares and right triangles. Now I will build a spire with these isosceles triangles, and mini decorative towers here with four equilateral triangles… ah. Yes. My vision is complete. Mother, come hither.

I’m pretty sure her thought process was more like, I’m going to build a crib. And when she ran out of squares to build up the sides of the crib, she made some out of right triangles. And when she ran out of those, she started sticking other triangles here and there and then she ran out of tiles and lo and behold… her creation looked cool, and her mouth said, “See, Mama, see! Don’t destroy it!”

If you asked me five months ago if I thought she’d be able to make that, the answer would be a clear, flat, no. Because five months ago, she had just opened this box and could only figure out how to play with it in 2D. I was a little disappointed, because this thing is not cheap and I had been hanging onto it for months in anticipation of the time when she’d be ready for it, and it seemed like she still wasn’t old enough to really make something of it.

But then the teacher in me kicked in, and I decided to give her the tools to do more with it. Of course these are open-ended toys and part of the beauty of it is to not make it too structured and instead allow for open-ended play. There’s a lot to be said for letting her just explore and learn things on her own, too. But I felt like if I didn’t intervene and start giving her some “building blocks” for new ways to use these, she’d lose interest and we’d miss an optimal window of learning and she’d put them aside and forget about them.

Teaching philosophies aside, I figure some of you might have some Magnatiles at home and be thinking, “Okay, my kid’s kind of played out with these. Now what?” So I thought I’d share the steps we took in teaching her ways to play with Magnatiles that led, five months later, to her building this all on her own!

April 20, 2016

tips for really bad morning sickness

Morning sickness is a unique kind of nausea that goes on well past the morning, and is supposed to go away after the first trimester of pregnancy. Unless you’re like me, and you have it for all nine months of pregnancy. Through my last three pregnancies, I have spent about two cumulative years of my life in miserable, gut-wrenching nausea. That’s ~700 days of throwing up and feeling awful all the time.

Morning sickness sucks. I could go into endless detail on just how sucky it is, but if you’re still reading this, I’m guessing you’re here because you already know how awful it is and you just want to know how to make. it. stop. I’ve been there. I’ve read all the websites and tried all the tips, and now I’m here to offer some of my own! Because even though I had a stash of bland crackers at my bedside and tried ginger everything, the nausea prevailed. So here are some tried and true tips (and my weird guesses at why it worked) for you to try!

  1. Get a ton of sleep. For me, that meant 8-10 hours at night, and a 1-1.5 hour nap in the afternoon. I only learned of this during my third pregnancy, when I was a SAHM and could actually nap in the afternoons when my toddler napped. Tiredness = nauseated.
  2. Don’t get hungry. All the websites say to snack frequently, but I needed to give myself a concrete number so I wouldn’t get lost in an activity and forget to snack. That meant no more than 2 hours without food.
  3. Don’t eat too much at one time. Eating up to 60% fullness was just about right for me. More and I’d lose it all.
  4. Proteins as part of breakfast! It will keep you fuller longer.
  5. After eating food, don’t follow with liquids (including water). I think it got all sloshy in there and made me throw up.
  6. If you must have liquids (to take pills, for example), then remember to do it before eating. This goes along with point #5.
  7. Wait 45-60 minutes after your last bite of food before driving anywhere. This is probably why I threw up as soon as I parked the car at work every morning when I was still teaching. I’d eat breakfast, hit the road, and get super queasy all the way to work and then lose it as soon as I parked. I also couldn’t not eat breakfast before driving (see point #2), so the best solution was to get up exxxxtra early, eat first, and then do the rest of my morning routine and make sure it was at least 45 minutes post-breakfast before getting on the road.
  8. Limit smartphone screen time. Looking at my smartphone for too long made me queasy.
  9. Don’t get out of breath. It made me gag and then vomit. Sadly, that meant no walks after meals. #outofshape
  10. Have fizzy drinks (ginger ale, coke) to help you burp (instead of vomit).
  11. The common wisdom about eating bland stuff was not true for me. I liked to eat crunchy and salty things. Think potato chips and a panini with a nice crispy crust. And cheesy bread (like pizza) also worked well for me.

Other things that likely helped:

  1. Taking 25mg vitamin B6 3x/day (talk to your doctor about this).
  2. Taking prenatal vitamins that didn’t have iron in them (talk to your doctor about this).
  3. Avoiding sugar (milk tea, cookies, etc.(SADFACE)).

Of course, talk to your doctor about any big changes you might try. Hopefully you will never need to do the things on this list… but if you do, I hope it brings you comfort to know that it does end, eventually. The day that baby comes out, you don’t have to worry about this discomfort anymore! Yes, you will be sleep-deprived and tired and feel beat up, but man, I’d take that exhaustion over the nausea any day.

Let me know if you have more tips for beating the nausea in the comments below (or if any of my weird tips helped you!).

 

 

April 11, 2016

How NOT to teach your kids

This is a basic instructional tip that teachers and parents need to master. NEED. It’s very simple: When instructing your child, frame directions positively. That means tell them what they SHOULD do, not what they shouldn’t do (unlike my image title…). For example, it will be more effective to say, “Keep your food in your mouth!” instead of “Don’t spit out your food!”

Framing things positively helps your child focus on the words and actions they should do. Not only does it keep the image of unwanted actions out of their heads, it replaces them with positive desirable actions. One of my teaching instructors once put it like this: “Okay, I want you guys to do exactly what I tell you. Don’t think of the color blue. NOT blue. NOT BLUE. NOT BLUE. DON’T THINK ABOUT THE COLOR BLUE. ANYTHING BUT BLUE– you’re totally thinking about the color blue, right?”

We laughed. It was true. He kept SAYING blue, so even though we were trying to follow his instructions, the color blue kept cropping up in the visuals of our minds. Even when we had pink or red or yellow passing through our minds, blue kept flashing through as he kept saying it.

That’s what comes to mind when I hear myself say to my child, “Don’t spit! Don’t spit! DON’T SPIT OUT YOUR WATER.” I watch in horror as water, seemingly involuntarily, comes dribbling out her mouth, down her chin, and all over her shirt. Perhaps she’s being disobedient, or perhaps I’m just making it hard for her by using the very verb I’m trying to have her avoid. Instead, I try to remind myself to say, “SWALLOW IT! SWALLOW your water! KEEP IT IN YOUR MOUTH!” I often find that this results in her making a concentrated effort to swallow and keep it in her mouth.

April 6, 2016

granola

Granola: Great on yogurt, with ice cream, or on its own as a snack.

Last week, I made some. Then I put some in a bag for my friend. A couple days later, she texted me:

“Really this is the best granola I have ever had… Makes me want to become a hippie and try my hand at it”

…Need I say more?

So here is the recipe in case you turn up the Beatles and make some groovy granola :].