Thursday, April 28, 2011

Breakfast with the Bertmans, making it work, part 1

Hey friends. I'm blogging from the couch with a twin on each side. I usually don't/can't blog while the kiddos are awake, but I'm also using this as a training session regarding not touching the computer. I'm multitasking as usual and it's awesome. Or not. And, the babies just ran off to play with bubber. Whew.

Anyhow, I wanted to share a change that has really helped me as a mom. For the past couple years, our breakfast routine goes like this:

I wake up. Starving. Daily. Kids wake up starving daily, esp. Gramm. If Gramm does not eat early enough, he will turn green, lay down and sometimes vomit. Strange, I know. It's often a race to feed the kids while I ignore my hunger and get crankier by the minute as the hungry horns emerge and mommy becomes evil-hungry-get-out-of-my-way-and-give-me-my-food-mommy. The kids sit at the bar while I fix breakfast, plate their food and then start to fix my breakfast and eventually Justin's breakfast. By the time my food is ready, the kids are usually asking for more things: milk, napkins, "more eggs! milk! milk!" while I am trying to fill my bottoming out self and saying, "ask me nicely. I will not give you anything until you USE YOUR MANNERS!!!!!!!!!!!" And, I usually take Justin his breakfast in his office during all this chaos with resentment in my heart and frustration that he needs food, too. (I know that is totally ridiculous.) I have never been a fan of eating while standing, which is what I do nearly every morning.

It has taken me a long time to realize that this routine stinks. I have been getting frustrated every morning. I am, by nature, a morning person and want to enjoy our mornings and start out days out in a non-hurried, easing in kind of way.

On Monday, I got the bright idea that the kids and I would all eat breakfast together. After having breakfast together at the table with Justin over Easter weekend, I saw how much more pleasant it was. I've been fixing all of our plates at the same time. The kids and I all sit at the table together and I take Justin his breakfast before we sit down to eat. I fix the kid's drinks before we sit down and try to bring everything to the table that we may need (napkins, seconds, etc.). Now I get to eat sitting down with the kids. I have even had time to drink hot tea! No more demands to overwhelm me, no more bottoming out and wanting to yell at little people first thing in the morning.

Eating breakfast with the kids has also given me a very natural opportunity to have a quick morning devotional with my kiddos. I have been wanting to read the bible and pray with them in the morning for quite some time and I love that this is working out. I can see how God is blessing my efforts to make the most of my time with these precious ones.

The book we are using for our devotional time was recommended to me by a friend a year or two ago and I LOVE it. It's a little old-school and so far, is packed with great explanations about God, who He is, how we can look for Him in creation, etc. Each devotional has a bible verse and a passage of scripture to read with my kids. The book is Leading Little Ones to God by Marian Schoolland. Reading the devotions to the kids has been a much needed reminder that Justin and I have a wonderful responsibility and privilege of sharing the Gospel with our kids. As parents, it is primarily our responsibility to teach our kids the Word. This task overwhelms me at times, but I am reminded that God has equipped me for this good work and His grace is sufficient for me in everything, even teaching my kids about God and the b-i-b-l-e.

I hope this helps other moms as we journey through raising little ones. Lately I have struggled to find joy in this blessed task. After months of finding great fulfillment and happiness in caring for this brood, I've found myself resentful, tired, and just plain wore out. I told my husband one night last week that I feel completely poured out on many days. It took the Spirit's work in my heart to show me that I was creating chaos in our days by not having a good routine in place for many things, in this case, it was breakfast. I can honestly say that this one change has positively affected much of the rest of our day. Granted, we won't always have a devo at breakfast, although that would be nice. There will be days that it won't happen. I don't expect perfection, I just want to do this well and I want my kids to know that my time with them is precious, important and worth planning for.

Gotta run now. The twins have dressed themselves while I wrote this. Here's to high-water jeans, pink t-shirts tight across chubby tummies, and black patent leather dress shoes on the wrong feet!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Corn and Sausage Chowder

A sweet friend of mine recently gave birth to twin boys. While she was pregnant with her little guys, she was very busy caring for her three older children. I made this soup for her toward the end of her pregnancy and she said it was a huge hit and asked for the recipe. I thought you all might enjoy it too. It freezes well and is very easy to prepare.

Corn and Sausage Chowder
1 pound breakfast sausage (I believe I used hot sausage)
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 stick butter
1/3 cup flour
1 quart whole milk
3 cups corn
1-2 cups potato, cut in small (about 1/2 inch) cubes
1 teaspoon cajun seasoning (optional)

Brown, crumble and drain sausage. Set aside. Melt butter, add chopped onion, bell pepper and potato, saute for about 3 minutes and then sprinkle with flour, stir and continue to saute until the onion is soft. Slowly add the milk until it is heated and thickening. After the milk is thickened, add the corn and season to taste. Heat long enough to ensure that the potatoes are no longer crunchy and the flavors are well combined. This is great with hot rolls or cornbread. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies

I've had requests for several recipes lately. I hope to share them with you over the next couple weeks. My gal pal, Julie, requested the following cookies for her birthday this year. I made these for my girls last year on their second birthday and everyone loved them, including Julie. Some people never forget a face, some foodies never forget a cookie. Here's the recipe.

Chocolate Chip Whoopie Pies
for the cookie:
2 sticks butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (I usually substitute muscavado or sucanat in place of the sugars)
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
16 ounces chocolate chips

Cream butter, sugars and cocoa, add eggs one at a time. Leave mixer running while adding remaining ingredients, add chocolate chips last and mix them just till they are incorporated into the dough. Chill the dough if you have time, no big deal if you don't. Bake at 350 for 8-9 minutes. A tip about the size, I would make these on the small side because they are extremely filling when sandwiched with the filling listed below. Do not overbake these bad boys, you will regret it.

For the wonderful filling recipe, go here. This is a frosting recipe that the Pioneer Woman discovered via her recipe site and I've been in love with it ever since. Here's the deal people, you can make this frosting WITHOUT white sugar. That's right, y'all. You can substitute muscavado or sucanat, which are sugars that are processed very little, unbleached and they actually contain a little nutrition, and you can still have a great frosting. My little fam loves this frosting and I've not once heard, "Gee, Mom, I really miss powdered-sugar laden frosting that makes my teeth rot out of my head. Could you please make some more?" (Please note that I still occasionally make powdered-sugar frosting especially when I'm in a hurry or need to make chocolate frosting. I've not yet found a good white-sugar-less chocolate frosting.)

To assemble the whoopie pies, let your baked cookies cool on a cooling rack for about 30 minutes or so, then put a generous dollop of frosting on the underside of one cookie and top it with another cookie. See, cookie sandwiches! This cookie is what I call the good girl's oreo. Enjoy it and be sure to share! The pic below is the only one I have of these delicious treats. Feel free to color the filling bright blue or pink. :)