My Favorite Things for this Family of 7

7 Dec

I thought long and hard whether or not to write about our 2017 family motto:

This is a family, and family means that no one gets to do what they want to do.  

It would be therapeutic for me to unpack all that statement has meant.  But it would be a downer.  Instead, I am going to try to come from a positive place, and share a few of our best go-to items of the year.  These are not #ads.  I have no idea if I am even legally allowed to publish any of this…nevertheless these are the gift ideas I feel like sharing.  

 

Georgia Approved

Georgia will kick off the list with Sky Organics Shea butter.  This poor baby suffers from significant eczema all over her body…such a bummer that she did not inherit her dad’s Asian skin, which feels identical to the surface of a dolphin.  Since she isn’t endowed with the Flipper-skin that he has, I have to use this cream which really does help her flare-ups.  It’s all-natural and isn’t greasy the like many of the physician prescribed ointments.  I have recently discovered that it’s hand cream, under eye cream, and also happens to make great furniture polish.  I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume it’s edible too, so stay tuned for a recipe entitled “Georgia’s Shea Butter Veggie Dip.”

 

 

 

 

 

just a box of reminders of days long past

Next, Olivia presents Kinetic Sand.  Coming from Hawaii, I had a very hard time making the transition to purchasing sand… but I had to face the facts.  Our endless summer days are over now, and this tactile messy-play little lady can sit with this stuff for hours.  To be sure, four out of my five kids play with this really well.  Yes it gets everywhere, but it is kinda like playdoh in that it adheres to itself, you can dab clumps of it together so most of it gets back in the box.  I vacuum every day anyway.  I recommend the natural colored sand, as the dyed sand does leave color residue on things.  I purchased a shallow container and a few sand tools to keep her occupied.  

 

 

 

 

Color with your children

Okay.  I hope what I am about to say is not offensive to anyone reading.  A huge trend has been developing in the US over the past years: adult coloring.  I have seen invitations for wine and coloring, and most recently my local library offered adult coloring time in the evenings. 

So, *uh* there was a need to establish a gathering place for adults wanting to color?  Oh my word, I go to Target, and just stare at the adult coloring book collection completely incredulous.  What adult has the ability to enjoy themselves by coloring? Is it just me?  If you are an adult who has time to color, then I am living my life all wrong.  And you could make money teaching classes on time management skills.  Oh.  Then you would not have time to color.

Was that a digression? 

Anyway, an adult coloring with a child is a super way to chill out with them, and so Adair is going to represent our family for the best colored pencils ever (Prismacolor).  They are pricier, but Amazon offers great deals on them from time to time.  They color so smoothly and most importantly, the “leads” do not shatter inside of the pencil.  When you sharpen these pencils, you get perfection every time.  Crayolas are dead to me.

 

 

be thankful if your 12 year old is easy to please!

Best gift of the year for Margaret was a last-minute decision on my part, which turned out to be a huge hit: a pair of white chucks and a package of colored sharpies.  Yes, I let her write on her shoes.  That’s me trying to let go in some areas.  Also it’s a silent tactic/attempt to divert from all the incessant teenage angst pre-tattoos on her hands/wrists/forearms.  She’s gone crazy tatting up the shoes, having her friends sign them, and she wears them constantly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

he still throws up a shaka in every picture.

Everyday, Liam rocks my favorite thing for him this year, which are his classic Adidas Sambas.  These shoes have been a god-send to me as a mom of five living a house with no closets.  Basically, I think I am going to get away with only having to buy him one pair of shoes (besides his robo-oafs for school.  Google “boys school shoes England“.  Ugh.  Yes, they all wear these).  One single pair of sambas take him to every event of his life from the skate park, to PE, to cross-country club, and straight into the pew at church.  Don’t need multiple pairs of shoes for a simple guy, and these puppies hold up.  Worth the money.

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know whether I get compliments on these, or if it’s that I am repeatedly complimenting myself when I wear them.

 

 

Nickel and Suede Leather Earrings.  I am completely obsessed with these.  GAGA.  I was hesitant to buy for years because of the cost, but when she came out with camo, I could not hold back any longer.  These featherweight earrings are genius, so stylish, and makes wearing this size jewelry actually practical.  They are so worth the money and make me feel amazing.  Plus it’s a nice way to support small business–I won’t tell her whole story but let’s just say Kilee is my ICON for style and entrepreneurship while mothering five kiddos.  It’s been so fun watching her progress over the past 5 years or so!  Beware of knock-offs.  This product is perfection.  She also told me to buy these chokers,  so I did.  I just wish I had managed to meet her in person when we were living in the KC area.  

 

 

 

 

 

This is a rolling metal box with a stick shift and a steering wheel

If I am being honest, my husband’s favorite thing of 2017 is hands-down the 1987 Land Rover (Defender) 90 that he purchased three seconds after we got off the airplane in the UK.  One of these puppies can not be easily acquired in the USA and so I am going to have to link to you the runner-up: Lululemon ABC Pants.  

Hubs wouldn’t model the ABCs for my momblog… but I already had a picture

Eric has been rocking what I call “ball pants” for years… what he calls a “gusseted crotch.”  (Prana and Outdoor Research also happen to make awesome products with the family jewels in mind. )The ABC pants go from trail to city to any nighttime social event without missing a beat.  He has even used them as running pants.  He owns several pairs–they are an investment but he wears them constantly. 

While we are on the subject of Lulu, let me mention their pants in the British sense of the word: the Namastay Put undies.   Yes these are also pricey– but they hold their shape and do the job of killing the VPL.  I can barely walk past a Lulu without grabbing yet another pair.  Get these, now. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Beauty faves I love putting on every day:  When it comes to living primal/paleo, beauty products are truly where I go off the rails.  I just love finding stuff that works amazingly.  I’m showing my true colors here, because if a product makes me *feel* more beautiful, I will not be able to stop spraying it, applying it, dabbing it or rubbing it in.  I will call it prioritizing looks over my health. 

In fact, you should know that my favorite song of 2015 happened to be Amy Schumer’s Girl You Don’t Need Makeup.  It’s disturbing how much I love that song.  

L’oreal Infallible Pro-Last Lip

 

LIPS:  L’oreal Infallible Pro-Last Lip This is my ten-dollar answer to the LipSense products that were everywhere in the US before I left.  I put this on in the morning, drink coffee, go to the gym, eat a burger, make out with my husband, wash my face, brush my teeth, and it’s still on the NEXT morning.  I am pretty sure it’s nail polish.  But this stuff is awesome.  My first-love product in this same category is Chanel Rouge Double Ultra Wear.  I have been wearing the Chanel since about 2008 but it’s starting to get hard to justify spending the money, so I converted to L’oreal.

LASHES:  L’oreal has another big winner for me with their new Lash Paradise mascara.  Now, a loved one once told me that my eyes look like venus fly-traps…so I may not be the right candidate to push mascara products.  However, this is another drugstore conversion for me.  I am a former Lancome cils booster+definicils user, and I no longer need those products.  Thanks, L’oreal.  My venus traps can live on. 

EYEBAGS:  Garnier Clearly Brighter Anti-Dark Circle Eye roller.  This is the concealer I have been wanting since I was 19 but I had to wait until I was 37 for it to be invented.  Two words: not cakey.  Hides reality with amazing precision.  Find it in the skin care section, not the cosmetics.

HAIR: Style Sexy Hair H2NO dry shampoo.  I use it every day, and on my pre-teen whose hair looks, well, like it needs to be washed.  No white residue and you really can go a third day without washing if you need to.  Smells great, and actually makes your hair feel clean.  It is at a price point slightly lower than salon professional brands, but slightly higher than what you would expect to pay.  The extra cost is worth it, I have tried all the dry shampoos and this is the best I’ve used.

 

That’s all folks.  Top seven gift ideas for the family, plus some no-fail cosmetic suggestions that have made me feel human all over again every morning.   Thanks for stopping by!

Leigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

2 Easy Cauli-Grits Casseroles + How to Make Up Your Own

30 Nov

Aldi (UK) now stocks lifetime supplies of cauli-rice

Riced cauliflower is everywhere now, safe inside neat packaging.  Gone are the days of whole cauliflower exploding into that adhesive cauli-confetti all over your kitchen.  I once thought I had lice nits in my hair just behind my ear, began panicking because we have five girls in this house…went to a neighbor who confirmed it was just benign bits of cauli.  Thank goodness.  And GROSS!  Just one of the risks of trying to eat healthy, my friends.

I’ve seen it in the produce section as well as the freezer section of grocery stores in both the US and UK.  Of all the ways to prepare it, I prefer it baked in a casserole…maybe it is my southern roots constantly calling out to me “eat more grits!”  I have done so many versions of the recipe below, but never blogged it.  Huge hit with my hubbs and the kids–It is amazing what a few cans of enchilada sauce can do for a dish!

 


 

 

First of all, you can make up any “casserole” with this skeleton of a recipe:

4 cups cooked cauli grits, drained  of excess water +
1 lb cooked meat, chopped +
3-4 eggs beaten +
1-2 cups liquid (coconut milk, tomato sauce, bone broth, etc) +
1-2 cups other veg or mix-ins +
seasonings of choice.

Stir this all together and bake in a 9X13 at 350 for 40 minutes.

Below I will give you two ideas, but be creative.  Branch out.  This can be a delicious side or a filling main dish depending on how much protein you decide to add.  Also, If you don’t need to eliminate dairy, throw in 2-3 handfuls of cheese!  I recommend white cheddar :):)


Chicken “Enchilada” Casserole

4 cups cooked, diced chicken.
cumin and chili powder to season the meat.

4 cups cooked (boiled or sauteed) cauliflower grits
2 cups mild enchilada sauce
4 eggs, beaten
8 oz diced green chilies, drained
3/4 c chopped green onions
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp pepper
juice of 1 lime

Season the chicken generously with cumin and chili powder (1-2 tbsps each).  Saute or boil ground cauliflower until done.  (Use the same method described in my original breakfast casserole.)  Drain and set aside.  In a large bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then add in the green onion, chilies, salt, garlic powder, pepper and lime juice.  To that mixture add in the cooled chicken, cauliflower, and enchilada sauce.

Pour the mixture into a prepared 9×13 baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center is set.

cauliflower chicken enchilada casserole, with avocado cilantro cream


Beef “Enchilada” Casserole

1 onion, diced
4 cups diced mushrooms*
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tsp each: chili powder, garlic powder, dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt

Two 10-oz cans of mild red enchilada sauce.
juice of one lemon or lime

3 eggs lightly beaten
4 cups cooked cauliflower rice

* Mushrooms a downer?  Sub 1 can drained black beans.

Saute the onion and mushrooms until they are wilted and soft.  Add the beef and saute until browned.  Season the meat mixture with the cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, oregano, and salt.  Stir in the enchilada sauce and lemon juice.  In a large bowl, add the beaten eggs to the (cooled) cauliflower rice, then stir in the meat mixture.  Mix well, and pour into a prepared 9×13 pan.  Bake at 350 degrees 40 minutes or until the center is set.

Serve hot.  Makes fantastic breakfast leftovers topped with a couple of fried eggs.

beef and mushroom cauliflower enchilada casserole

 


 

Enjoy!!

Leigh

 

last night’s dinner->this morning’s breakfast

this is the face I want to see when the kiddos are eating their veg!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

For other cauliflower rice ideas, check out

Cauli “grits” Breakfast Casserole

Unwrapped Gyoza

Cauliflower Bread

The 3-Line Script that Overcomes Every “BUT MOM!”

13 Nov

I came into parenting fully thinking that I don’t owe a child any explanations when it comes to their obedience.  They better execute mission without asking questions.  Actually, I want to see them pop into the position of attention, sound off with a “Yes Ma’am,” and move out smartly to take care of business.

Errr–that’s not really how it usually plays out.  Let me write a skit to illustrate.  The child in the scene will be played by my 7-year-old daughter, Adair.

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair: (shrill.  screeching.) MOM!!! I don’t want to!  I am watching this show, and it is not over!!!  (Throws remote onto couch pillows, kicks blanket off her legs.)
Me(Huge sigh, blood pressure rises. Voice intensifies.) Don’t talk back to me I don’t care I told you to turn it off so turn it off now before I lose it.
Adair: (sulks. clicks the TV off, makes some weird growling sound, clenches teeth and moans)
Me: Stop whining, now you’re not watching TV the rest of the day!!  (Instantly forget that I said that.)

My little theater of life can produce this embarrassing scene multiple times a day…day after day.  PER KID.  We needed an intervention.  They needed to stop their whining habit; and actually, I needed to be a lot more flexible with my yeses.  I am quick to pop-off a “no” without thinking.  And when they whine, I just trump them with the parent’s wildcard of “because I said so.”  So then I win.  But no one is happy.

Enter the amazing three-sentence “script” for child-to-parent negotiation that has changed everything.  This momhack came from my amazing should-have-a-blog friend Wendy.  She got it from Growing Kids God’s Way…But before giving it public validation, I had to run it through the lab of life a few times.  It’s working. 


When a child would like to appeal for a change of my mind, they may peacefully articulate three sentences:

1. Speak words of total compliance.
This is the first thing every parent wants to hear.

2. Repeat the specifics of the request
Ensure the child heard you/understands what you asked them.

3. Request permission for reconsideration, once.
They may respectfully present to you information for your reconsideration.


 

This formula dispels any hysteria instantly: my heart softens when I hear sentence 1 and sentence 2; sentence 3 ensures the child feels heard, validated.  I get a better picture of the situation, and another go at whether my “no” was too rash.  This is a deposit in the trust bank on both our parts.  After that, my answer is final. 

Read this brilliance in action:

Me: Adair, it is time for you to turn off the TV.
Adair:  
Yes ma’am.  I’ll turn off the TV.  But, I was wondering if I may finish the rest of this show first?
Me: Yes, okay.  You may finish watching the show. -OR- Well, I am sorry but you must turn it off straight away.

 

Obedient words.
Acknowledgment of instructions.
Politely request reconsideration
.  

 

That’s it.  They don’t get to be on step 3 more than one time.  

The key here is that the child must be willing to obey to make an appeal.  For my older ones’ more complicated issues, they might say, “I’m willing to obey, but may I add information you may not have?”  Then they must wait for a yes or no.  If we say yes, they can only add NEW information that may help the parent who gave the instruction.

It can be janky.  At first it feels canned.  I’ll say, “If you are asking me to reconsider, what are the only three sentences you can speak back to me?”  And then they go through the sentences.  Some kids get it down faster than others…but life skills take practice, and repetition is a way to make it a second-nature habit.  

Over time, it’s become more of an organic process–and we can take care of business around here as peacefully as possible.  If this helps even one reader, it is worth posting.  

thanks for reading.
Leigh 


I’ll close with a post-script written by my friend Jewel–mother to 6–just this week:

Perhaps the most difficult Empowered to Connect tool for me to embrace early on was the **art of compromise** with my children. Coming to the understanding that my authority as a parent is NOT undermined if I allow my children to ask for a compromise when they feel they need one. Instead I have learned that encouraging my children to ask for a compromise allows them to respectfully negotiate their needs. What an incredible life skill to have.  


 

Read more:

Getting Enough Me-Time (picture courtesy lineloff.com)

Thriving in Motherhood and other demanding seasons of life

On Waiting

Why I No longer pray for Patience in Parenting

%d bloggers like this: