Monday, April 23, 2012

Homemade Maple Graham Crackers

Lately I've been somewhat annoyed with the amount of crackers we go through in this house.  I feel like almost every time I go to the grocery store I'm picking up a box of crackers.  So, I've decided to try making my own crackers.  They are actually relatively easy to make! And, I know exactly what all the ingredients are.  Store bought graham crackers are very dry, which means if Ada is eating on in the living room then little crumbs follow her everywhere she goes.  These crackers are really soft, almost cookie -like.  Which means they are less messy, and little babies without teefers can easily gnaw on these without hurting their gums.

Besides being super easy to make, even your toddler can help you!  Here's Ada helping me.  She really liked to pulse the mixture in the food processor, eat the measuring spoons, and play with the flour.  Also, it's safe to eat the dough because there are no eggs.  Making these reminded me a lot of playing with play-doh as a kid.  Enjoy!

Maple Graham Crackers
(adapted recipe from Weelicious)

1.5 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose white flour
1/4 to 1/2 brown sugar (I thought the 1/2 cup was just too sweet for me)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or 1teaspoon cinnamon)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or agave nectar or honey)
1/4 cup water

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a food processor, mix the flours, brown sugar, salt, spices, and baking soda.
3. Add the butter, slowly in small amounts, and pulse to combine. The mixture should look coarse and crumbly.
4. Mix together the water and maple syrup, then slowly add to the dry mixture and pulse until well incorporated.  You may need to get a spatula to stir it around. Add more or less water or flour as seems needed.  (the consistency should resemble pie crust dough)
5. Remove the dough and place on either a lightly floured surface, or on parchment or wax paper.  Roll into a flat disc about 1/4inch thick.
6. Cut into fun shapes!  I just use circles with the rim of a cup, but this is where you can get creative and use other cutout shapes.  Don't throw away any irregular scraps, you can use them to make cute animals or just bake them with everything else and your toddler will devour them!

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes on an ungreased cookie sheet (or stoneware pan is the best).  When done baking, let cool on a cooling rack.

After eating these, I will never go back to store bought again!  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Everything but Look For Eggs

So, Easter was last weekend.  Easter makes me feel joyful, victorious, empowered, hopeful, and happy! Happy Easter!  One of my favorite things about being our own little family is starting new traditions that will get passed down to the following generations.

Here's an overview of the Easter traditions we did this year:

Upper Room Night:
On Friday night, we ate a meal of homemade French bread and red wine.  During dinner, we read about Jesus' last night with his disciples. We read the usual "communion" story, but also read Jesus' last words to his friends from John 14 to John 17.  I found so applicable for us as a family, because He taught and showed what kind of relationship we should have with each other, and what kind of relationship He wants with us.

Resurrection basket:
On Friday night, we put in the basket things that are old, worn out, out grown.  For Ada, we put in her church shoes that she outgrew, and a dress she outgrew, then covered the basket with a dark tablecloth.  On Easter morning, a white tablecloth covered the basket, and inside the "old" things are gone, instead there are gifts that are "new" and have "life."  When Ada woke up Easter morning, she uncovered the basket to find her Easter outfit, a flower balloon, and fresh yellow flowers.  The Resurrection Basket is meant to symbolize both what Jesus completed on Easter, and 2 Corinthians 5:17 ("Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  The old has passed away; the new has come").

Easter meal:
If we are hosting the Easter meal, then we always make something that Jews would eat.  This is partly because Jesus and the disciples were Jews so it is kind of symbolic, and the other reason is that I really hate ham.Two years ago, when we lived in a tiny one bedroom house, I roasted a leg of lamb.  Last year I cooked fish.  And this year.....Chicago dogs made with the 100% beef Hebrew National hot dogs.

What are Chicago dogs??
It is an all beef hot dog, topped with:
pickle slice
sliced tomatoes
chopped white onion
sweet relish
sport peppers (could not find these anywhere so we used banana peppers)
celery salt

 We thought about going to an Easter egg hunt, but then realized that Ada wouldn't be able to eat any of the candy in the eggs, so decided to pass this year.

Chris and I have two goals in creating new traditions for Easter: it must teach our children and grandchildren about what Jesus has done for us, and it must be as or more exciting and fun as Christmas.    Last year, Chris and I read this great book:

 which challenged and changed some of our worldview, and got us super excited about Jesus rising from the dead.  I hope to reread this book again this year so I can better grasp all that it threw at me.  I'm already excited for NEXT Easter and have some more new traditions to start with my family. Yay!

What unique Easter traditions do you do or hope to start with your family?

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Princess Buttcheeks

Well, March has gone and past me.  And, not a single blog post.  At first I felt disappointed in myself, but blogging is hard work and it doesn't come naturally to me yet.  Also, thanks to those of you who encourage me to keep blogging.  It's delightful to me that all kinds of people are interested at peeking into the life of this new modern mom.

This is what March looked like for me:
Ada starts calling me "mommy."
Ada takes more and more steps.
Ada makes a few poops her potty.
My mom teaches us the skill of home-brewing.
I turned 24! BUT, I only feel 22.

Today I wanted to talk about a goal that Ada and I have been working on the last few months. Our goal is for her to be potty trained by June 18 of this year.   Around here, we call it "diaper free."

Two experiences have really shaped the way I want to help Ada become diaper free.  The first is a vivid memory of my mom potty training my little brother (who is now 18) John Lloyd.   She potty trained him in 2 or 3 days, by sticking him outside to play all day long NAKED (except for a tshirt).  When he peed, his pee would get all over his legs and feet and he would throw a fit.  So then my mom would tell him that next time he should pee on the flowers, or the trees, or the rocks, and then eventually the toilet.

My second experience is what I saw while I lived in China for six months.  In China, babies wear what we would call "split-pants."

I would see babies as young as probably 3 months wearing these.  I saw babies squatting to pee on sidewalks.  I saw a mom RUN out of a grocery store with her baby to make it just in time to hold the baby over the sidewalk for him to pee.  Can you imagine how nice it would be if your 10 month old was already diaper free?  I think split pants are a great idea!

Why does bare naked butt work?  I think it's because babes can see and feel the cause and effect of relieving themselves.  Also, parents can easily see what cues their babes make right before they pee or poo, and specifically when they peed or pooped.  

So, that's where I'm at right now.  About once a week, I let Ada be naked for several hours.  Diaper free is really about training myself to learn how Ada communicates that she's about to relieve herself.  While she's diaper free I watch her as best as I can to see what she does.  Some days are more successful than others, and we've made progress since we started 5 months ago.  And you know what's surprising?  It's actually  kind of fun and exciting!  Ada loves being naked, too.  I call her Princess Buttcheeks when she's diaper free. Neighbors be warned, you probably will see our children squatting in the backyard and front yard for the next several summers!

If you want to learn more about diaper free methods, you should visit

Have you experienced or witnessed any odd potty training methods?