Monthly Archives: March 2013

Why We Won’t be Giving Our Kids an Easter Basket

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I originally began this post as a compilation of ideas for candy-alternative Easter baskets. We really try to avoid consuming too much sugar (especially the processed kind), so I had assembled a list of basket-filling options that included things like bubbles, flower seeds, gardening tools, JellyCat stuffed bunnies, stickers and more. I even ran into a few stores yesterday seeking some ideas. But as I began to think a little bit more about the trinkets with which I could fill my kiddos’ baskets, I balked. Not because they weren’t suitable ideas, but because I suddenly realized that my kids don’t need an Easter basket filled with stuff.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure and before you start thinking that I’ve deprived my little ones of some magical childhood experience that surrounds this particular holiday, let me just say that there is an Easter basket en route to each of them from my parents. And I’m pretty sure my husband’s parents have procured an assortment of Easter-related items for each kid. I have no doubt that those items will be met with much excitement. However, I’ve decided that my husband and I will not be giving our kids a filled-to-the-brim basket this year, and here’s why:

Easter celebrates the most important event in human history. It’s about the cross and the nail-scarred hands, the empty tomb and the words, “He is not here, He has risen.” I don’t want the commercialization of the holiday to overshadow its eternal significance.

With that being said, however, I know the focus can remain on Christ even in the midst of candy-filled eggs and stuffed bunnies. I’d like to think we’ve done it in the past, and I’m sure some of you manage it in quite admirable ways. But the second reason we’re not giving our kids an Easter basket this year is because my kids already have so much stuff. I don’t want a holiday to be the catalyst for bringing more unnecessary things into our lives and into our home … things that will be played with for a few minutes and then discarded later only to end up being shuffled from toy bin to toy bin before eventually landing in the garage sale pile.

We live in an overly commercialized society that heralds the accumulation of things. But with this accumulation comes the need to manage and maintain it all. And frankly, I’m tired of managing it all. I want to spend my time loving my children, enjoying companionship with my husband and sharing adventures with them all. I want to be attached to people, not things. And I want the same for my children. So while my decision to not give my kids an Easter basket this year may seem silly to some, I think it’s a small step in the right direction.

So this Sunday, we’ll head off to church to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. And when we return home, we’ll feast in the dining room with cloth napkins and talk through the message of the cross and the empty tomb once again with our little ones. Then we’ll head outside and do a small egg hunt, where the kids will find hard-boiled eggs that we dyed using natural dyes and plastic eggs filled with coins for their banks or small notes tucked inside. We’ll focus on Christ, His sacrifice for us, and on one another. And after the kids go to bed and my husband and I are starting to wind down, I’ll be thankful that I won’t have to find a place to store all those stuffed bunnies and Easter-themed trinkets.

Now it’s your turn. How do you keep the focus on the message at Easter? And how do you manage the accumulation of things that seem to accompany each American holiday?

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For When You Feel You’ve Failed as a Mother …

For When You Feel You've Failed as a Mother | Faith & Composition by Shalene RobertsAs I laid down with the baby a few nights ago, I wept. Wept because I was suddenly overcome with the reality of how little I had loved on my three children throughout the day. In the pursuit of my own tasks, I spoke harshly to them, I was impatient with their demands, I denied their requests to kick the ball, to push them on the swing. Yes the floor needed to be mopped, fruits and veggies needed to be picked up from the co-op, dinner needed to be made, the baby needed to be nursed, diapers needed to be changed … and the list goes on. These were all necessary and pressing tasks that had to be completed.

But there were also matters with less urgency but with infinitely more importance that also needed attending. Those deep brown eyes that belong to my five-year-old needed to be smiled into as he prepared Easter eggs for his class; the infectious laugh of my two-year-old needed to be reflected in my own voice as she spun in circles around the living room; the baby’s soft cooing needed to be echoed with the tenderness that only a mother can give.

I missed many of those opportunities today. I missed the chance to press into those moments with my kids, to show them that they matter exponentially more than anything else on my to-do list. And as I realized that, I came to a point where I felt undone, felt as though I’d failed at this high calling of motherhood … Again.

And so I wept. I wept for the missed opportunities, for the chances where I could have loved on my children and spoken value and worth into their spirit with my words and my actions.

When You Feel You've Failed as a Mother | Faith & Composition by Shalene Roberts

And yet through the tears, I began to feel God’s grace abound: grace to cover my shortcomings, grace to forgive my failings. I was reminded that His mercies are new every morning and His compassion never fails. There is forgiveness and rebirth, a chance to start again because His son paid the ultimate price for my sins.

Mothering isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s a gritty, up-to-your-elbows, deep-in-the-trenches, never-get-a-break kind of work. It’s constant, it’s exhausting, its radically difficult. But it’s also sacred: this act of raising little people He created to have a heart that reflects Him. And the reality is that in the midst of this mothering process, I will undoubtedly fail. Some days will be better than others, but each and every day His grace will continue to abound to me. And as His grace abounds to me, I can lavish that grace onto my children. I can wake each morning with a renewed opportunity to love them immeasurably because His mercies cover me.

So today, tomorrow, I will take my chances to love on my children. I will smile deeply into my son’s endless brown eyes, I will laugh with joy as my daughter twirls, I will tenderly echo the quiet coos of the baby. And when I get frustrated as the older two bicker, disgruntled after changing the 20th diaper or exhausted after meeting their endless requests, I will realize that I can do it all again because His grace abounds in me.

I wonder about you. I wonder if you’ve ever had days as a mom that overwhelm you with feelings of failure. If so, how have His mercies covered? How has has His grace abounded?

A Kitchen Staple – Homemade Granola

Granola2I make granola nearly once a week, sometimes twice. The aroma of cinnamon, vanilla and orange zest emanate from the kitchen and linger in the air. The scent alone is intoxicating. The kids smell it and come running. The oldest little one periodically turns on the oven light to peer in, waiting anxiously until we pull the browned oat and nut mixture out to cool. Then we scoop it into bowls and top with yogurt (which I sometimes make myself). It’s comfort in a bowl.

I’ve tried several recipes, but the creation I always come back to is one that I’ve lightly adapted from Heidi Swanson‘s, Supernatural Everyday. I’ve adjusted her proportions to create a granola that’s heavy on good-for-you nuts and seeds. I then sweeten it with a date paste, inspired by Deliciously Organic. The date paste provides just a subtle hint of sweetness that nicely complements the tang of the yogurt. Thus, this isn’t a sugary-sweet granola. We usually eat this stirred into unsweetened yogurt topped with raw honey, so I prefer to let the honey provide the sweet undertones. (If you’d prefer a sweeter granola (or don’t want the hassle of the date paste), just use 1/3 cup butter and a 1/2 cup of 100% pure maple syrup instead of the date paste. Melt the butter and syrup over low heat, then pour it over the granola before baking.) Also feel free to mix up the nuts and seeds, as well as the dried fruit. I’ve used dried cranberries, raisins and dried apricots with success.

Granola5Orange-Infused Nut & Seed Granola
Inspired by Heidi Swanson and Deliciously Organic

1 cup date paste, recipe here
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup walnuts
1 cup cashews or almonds
1 cup seeds
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Grated zest of 1 orange
1/2 cup currants, raisins or other dried fruit

Heat the oven to 280.

Combine the date paste, maple syrup and butter over low heat. Once the butter has melted, pour in the vanilla. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, salt, cinnamon, orange zest and dried fruit in a large bowl. Add the date/butter mixture to the oats and nuts, and stir well to combine, taking care to make sure everything is coated. Pour the mixture onto a foil-lined baking sheet, and evenly spread with a spatula. Bake for approximately 1 hour, stirring occasionally. You want a nice toasted brown, so watch it near the end. Since oven temps vary, you may have to remove it a bit early or cook your batch a bit longer. Remove to cool, then eat by the handful, with milk or stirred into yogurt.