Healthy No-Bake Scotchies

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We are big fans of the good ol’ fashioned chocolate peanut butter no-bake cookie over here… maybe a little too big of fans! My husband could easily demolish a whole batch in .2 seconds if given the chance. And I’ve been known to be that way with really any sweet if you leave me alone long enough. #dirtylittlesecrets

That being said, I usually do what I can to “healthy up” any desserts I make on those days that I just get the hankerin’. Today was one of those days. And plus, I had some butterscotch chips that I needed to use up. Now presenting: Healthy No-Bake Scotchies!

Healthy No-Bake Scotchies

1/2 c. Butterscotch chips

1/2 c. White chocolate chips(optional)

3/4 c. Peanut butter

1/4 c. Honey

1 c. Oats(Old-fashioned or quick oats work just fine)

1/2 c. Pumpkin seeds

1/4 c. Flax seeds

 

Heat medium/large pot over medium heat. Toss in chips, peanut butter, and honey. Stir until melted. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Stir until combined. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper or parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Place in fridge for a few minutes to set, and voila! Easy Peasy. Makes about 16 cookies.

These make such an awesome mid-morning or afternoon snack. Packed with fiber and healthy fats! Enjoy!

Why Pro-Life Parents Should Focus on the Positives

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Remember what it’s like being pregnant for the first time? There’s the excitement, the nervousness, and all the newness! There is a lot to be joyful about, and there’s a whole lot more to look forward to. But then you come across some Debbie Downers along the way who just want to tell you about all the terrible things their children do and to make sure you stay pregnant as long as possible because once that baby pops out, your life will be a disaster.

Now was that necessary, Deb? Did ya have to go and rain on that sweet new mommy’s parade? She most likely already had to watch the “purple crying” video in her prenatal course along with the real life labor videos… and then was probably also shown forceps (those things ain’t for the faint of heart) and now you’re gonna go and terrify her with the thought of having imperfect children?! No no no no no! Just stop. Please, just stop while you’re ahead.

If you’re a pro-life mother, I’m not saying you have to be happy-go-lucky all the dang time (I admit it is difficult to do with children), but have you thought of the impression you are giving people when you speak badly about your children to anyone that has ears, most especially a woman who is expecting her first? Pro life means you promote life. That means you should be encouraging pregnant mothers. It means you should be thankful that they are willing to embrace the sacrifices ahead by giving life to another. You should be rejoicing with that mother and praising God. You should not be telling her, however,  that you wish you could go back to the days before you had kids because you had no idea then how incredibly difficult it would be and how much hair you would lose and how your body will never be the same and blah blah blah. This woman is already a mother. And guess what? With the laws in most states, she could still decide to end that precious baby’s life. Do you want to be a reason for that? Christians are called to share the Good News.

So I beg you fellow mamas to focus on the positives. That new mom you met at Walmart has already seen a few to get her to where she’s at now: the positive pregnancy test, the positive decision to continue carrying her child, the positive belief that she can handle what is in her future. Keep her going strong. Tell her how amazing it is to hold your baby in your arms for the first time and how calming it is to watch her sleep. Tell her how proud it made you to hear the word “mama” chiming so sweetly from her lips. Let her know how great the laughter and love in your life has grown since you became a mother, how you truly can’t explain the way that your heart continues to burst with every day that passes, how you understand God’s paternal love in a more profound way that would be utterly impossible without the blessing of your own children. Congratulate her on the life ahead. Congratulate yourself. You could have just saved a life.

Decisions, Decisions

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The parenting gig is overflowing with choices. Should one of us stay home with the tiny humans or should we send them to daycare? Should we use positive parenting techniques or should we smack their booties like the so-called “tried and true” method our parents’ used? Should we feed them all organic or… is that a wood chip in her mouth?!

See what I mean?? I could literally drown myself in all the articles I’ve read on this crap! But after 3 entire years of parenting as of yesterday (*tears welling up as I try to recall what she was like as a baby), I’ve come to learn, and don’t laugh at me veteran moms, that each decision we make as parents has to come primarily from our own hearts with a good heap of Wisdom.

Tonight my decision was to work out or to resume sitting in our big comfy chair and allow my 9 month old (*pause while I reminisce on her newborn picture for a moment too) to sleep soundly against my chest. Work out or listen to the sweet sound of baby breaths? Put myself through physical pain or soak up pure joy and peace from the warmth of that precious dreaming face? I mean really, dude, have you ever held a sleeping little one? There is absolutely no better feeling than letting your child sleep in your lap. It’s my heaven. It’s relaxing. It’s stress-relieving. It’s bliss. But alas, most days I have to lay the child down and spend some time with Daniel and Kelli. Yes, daily workouts are a great habit to keep but sometimes you just gotta push things aside and listen to that call of motherhood. And I was so grateful that I did! I cherished every bit of that time with my girl, knowing that it’s a tremendous privilege to hold a baby in my arms as she sleeps. And this brings me to my point…

Parenting is a privilege just as the choices we make each day are privileges. These are gifts from God, our Father. They are opportunities to love and to grow in virtue. God lays every.single.decision before us each day and affords us the option to follow His direction or to see what we come up with on our own. Haven’t you noticed how much better things turn out when we open up the door and let God in? The best days are always the days that I thought about God the most, that I depended on the Holy Spirit for guidance, that I stopped and thanked the Lord for the sweet moments. Our challenge as mamas and dadas is to constantly offer thanksgiving for these everyday choices we make whether they be difficult, life-changing ones or easy yes’s and no’s. Be thankful that God gave us freedom. Be thankful that God offers His help. Be thankful that God is willing to let us take care of His children.

Peace, love, and a big, warm hug,

Olivia

11 Patron Saints for the Stay-at-Home Parent

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Unless you’re some beyond belief future patron saint of patience, at some point or several points during your stay-at-home parent career, you probably find yourself wanting to pull out your hair, hide in your bathroom, or just plain run away. These eleven patron Saints can really aid you in your every day expeditions of conquering eternal laundry, perpetual messes, and cyclical toddler battles.

 

  1. Saint Hunna of Alsace, AKA “The Holy Washerwoman”: This chick can help you plunder through that pile of laundry. Laundry will always be my most dreaded chore, specifically the folding part. For some reason, I cannot stand the feel of warm, staticky fabric under my nails. It’s my own personal nails scraping on the chalkboard. However, when I actually pull myself away from my misery for a moment to say a prayer for St. Hunna’s intercession, I find the task is less daunting.
  2. Saint Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus: Surely you remember little miss Martha in your Bible readings? She’s the one who was annoyed with her sister for just sitting and visiting with Jesus while she did all the work. And remember, Jesus chastised her for just that. (Luke 10:38-42) I like to pray for her intercession while I’m in the kitchen cooking or baking. She also helps me remember that it’s important to take breaks. If my daily chores are keeping me from God, then I need to take a moment to stop, pray, and spend time with Jesus and my kids. Then I can get back to work when the time is right, offering up my duties for the glory of God.
  3. Saint Philip Neri, the humorous Saint: With kids, you have to have a good sense of humor. Whether you just found your baby with a bunch of gum wrappers and minty fresh breath or your toddler strung the toilet paper through the house like a maze, it’s important to find the humor in the situation. These moments could either result in a stressed out maniac or a really good laugh with your spouse. Pause and ask for the intercession of St. Philip. He will help you find joy in the midst of calamity.
  4. Saint Gerard Majella, Saint of expectant mothers: This guy is legit. Are you trying to conceive? Are you in risk of miscarriage? Are you super prego and exhausted? This is your saint. I like to ask for his intercession for myself and also for those I know to be in the child-bearing years. When I was pregnant with my second child, I needed his intercession for energy to keep up with my toddler. I also wanted to be able to deliver my daughter via VBAC(vaginal birth after cesarean). Our baby was breech and we were losing hope that she would flip to head down position, and I would have to again deliver via cesarean section. We asked for the intercession of Saint Gerard, as well as Saint Gianna Molla(see 5), and guess what?! Our daughter flipped at 39 weeks, almost unheard of! This was followed by a healthy and successful VBAC delivery. Praise the Lord!
  5. Saint Gianna Molla, Patron of mothers, unborn children, and physicians: Pray for her intercession while pregnant, during labor and delivery, and every day motherhood help. This woman is honored for her bravery and self-sacrifice. She was diagnosed with a uterine fibroma in her second month of pregnancy. She was urged to abort the baby and continue on with her life. She instead chose to give the baby life, costing her own. What a woman!
  6. Saint Zelie Martin, mother of Saint Therese of Lisieux: She is so cool because she was just your regular housewife and mother yet called to become a Saint by living out every minuscule task for God. You can read actual letters and correspondences from her in this book. Also, this article brings some of her writing to light.
  7. Saint Therese of Lisieux, The Little Flower: While we’re on the subject of her family, let’s talk about this little gem. She was a young Saint. She lived her life for Jesus at a very young age. You want help subsiding a nasty temper tantrum? You want your kids to be well-behaved and walk the narrow path? Ask for this saint’s intercession.
  8. Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, the Divine Mercy Saint: Did you have a bad day in parenting? Do you feel like you failed your kids and God on this day? It’s time to ask for forgiveness and accept God’s bountiful mercy. Saint Faustina can help you with this one. Pray a Chaplet of Divine Mercy, ask for this Saint’s intercession, apologize to God and your kids, and whoever else you’ve hurt. Make plans to go to confession. Start fresh and do better the next day.
  9. Saint Anthony of Padua, Patron of Lost Articles: I cannot tell you how many things this Saint has helped me find. Did you lose your wedding ring, your phone, heck, your child? You better believe you’re gonna find it if you ask for his intercession. My husband asked for his intercession to find my cell phone after it had been lost for 3 days on a spring break trip. The day we were leaving he called it and some random guy answered it saying he found it buried in the sand. You kidding me??
  10. Saint Joseph, the husband of the Virgin Mother: Man, this man is awesome. So brave, so strong. He helped raise Jesus. He submitted to God’s great plan for his life. He was a carpenter. He was the head of his household. There are so many opportunities to ask for his intercession. I often ask for his intercession for my husband, for him to be the father, husband, and leader that God wants him to be each day. I also ask for his intercession when my husband or myself is taking on a house project. He’s helped my hubby with some pretty big tiling projects, and he’s helped keep me safe with power tools. Lord, knows I needed those prayers!
  11. Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Ohhhhhhh boy! The ultimate Patron Saint of like ANYTHING you need. Period. She is the MVP of parents, homemakers, children, you name it. I mean, come on! She is the MOTHER OF GOD! Do I need to say more? I ask for her intercession day in and day out, and the Lord does not disappoint. He appointed this woman to give us graces and to ask for our mercy. DO IT. Just do it. Ask her to pray for you. Pray the Rosary. Ask her to protect you and your family from evil. She is ready to be your weapon! Consecrate yourself and your family to her help.

 

Of course, of course(!!!!!!!!) you can never cease in your prayers to God, Lord Jesus, Our Savior, and the Holy Spirit!! You know that! But these Holy Saints are in Heaven right now. They are SO much closer to God than we are, and He hears their prayers and grants them the opportunity to create miracles with His help. Just like you’d ask a friend here on earth to pray for you, you can ask the Saints. And YOU SHOULD! If you’ve never done it before, just give it a try and watch how God works through those who love Him.

My Child, The World’s Next Jesus

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Let’s be real here, we all have expectations for our children to live up to before we’ve even seen their tiny, little(or 100th percentile, if you’re in my family) noggins. For instance, I just KNEW that my first child would be the freaking smartest baby einstein this world has ever seen. Oh, you mean you don’t expect your child to know the alphabet, count to 100, do a backflip, run for president, walk on water, and find the cure to cancer before age 1? Well, I do… or did. Then God slapped me in the face and said “Woman, love your children.”

I don’t know if it was just my competitive personality or the shame I sometimes feel from deciding to be a stay-at-home parent rather than a workforce mother, but I wanted my kid to be the best from the start. I wanted people to notice how hard I worked with my baby. I decided I would teach her baby sign language, read to her every day, help her memorize her prayers, and go through flashcards daily. Now, there’s nothing wrong with doing these things with your kids or having the desire to educate them, but I’ve realized that I needed to be doing these things out of love rather than to gain pride for myself. It’s impossible not to be proud of your kids’ accomplishments, but to want the attention and praise that these accomplishments can bring is the opposite of the humility that our Lord needs from us.

Ever since my second daughter was born and I grew lazy with those initial “genius lessons” I had in mind, I started feeling guilty for not working as hard, for not putting so much effort into creating child prodigies. At the end of the day I’d think, what did I do with my girls all day? I was so unproductive, I often thought, and I would get really down on myself, feeling like such a failure. I’d let myself get overwhelmed and stressed, telling myself I was a terrible mother. In my heart though, I knew I was letting the devil get to me. I wasn’t listening to what God was trying to tell me. Love your children.

Some nights I’d share these feelings with my husband and being the wonderful man that he is, he’d do his best to lift me up. He’d pray with me. He’d think of solutions. He’d remind me of how much our daughters adore me. That would always make me feel worse. I’d tell myself that I don’t deserve their love, I’m selfish and lazy and not good enough. They deserve better. How can they love a loser like me and look up to me like I’m some kind of hero? That just made me feel all the more pressure. These girls are learning by MY example, and here I am showing them what it is to be a no good, lazy, crappy mommy. Deep down I’d hear God asking me, are you loving your children?

It took me some time, but I’ve come to realize what God wants most for my kids. Does He want them to become an inventor, a world-renown doctor, an olympian, a prophet, a famous Saint? I’ve got no clue. He’s got all that covered. What He wants me to do is love…  really, truly, love… my children. He wants me to pray with them and for them. He wants me to hug and kiss on them several times a day. He wants me to read them books and thank Him for those precious moments that they are small enough to sit on my lap. He wants me to smile and laugh with them and teach them to share. He wants me to show them pictures of Him and tell them how much He loves them. He wants me to chase after them in the backyard and point out the silly-shaped clouds in the sky. He wants me to teach them forgiveness by apologizing when I’ve done wrong and offering solutions to make up for it. He wants me to show them what holy matrimony means by choosing to love their father day in and day out, allowing them to see how excited I get when he comes home from work. He wants them to see me working hard in our home, accomplishing daily tasks without complaining, offering them up as acts of love. He wants me to teach them to rejoice in their own accomplishments, but more importantly to rejoice in those of others. He wants me to be an example of generosity by praying for the man begging on the side of the road and letting them drop money in the offering at church. He wants me to get up from the chair and dance along to my daughters’ favorite princess songs. He wants me to care for them when they catch whatever sickness is going around. He wants me to accept their hugs and concern for me when I am sad and assure them that though some days are hard, others will be better. He wants me to take them to visit their grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. He wants me to ask them for help and encourage them to do tasks they don’t think they can handle. He wants me to believe in them but not allow pride to swallow me whole. He wants me to love and nourish my own body and tell them how beautiful they are each day so they won’t believe the world’s lies. He wants me to take them to mass and adoration throughout the week and bring them along when we go to confession, teaching them that I am a sinner and that God has mercy on me.

Love your children, He says, love your children as I have loved you.

And so, that is what I must spend these days doing. Though in moments of weakness, I may give in to those sinful ways of thinking, I will remind myself of what’s most important to Christ himself. My kids could grow up and not be the valedictorians of their classes, and that will be okay, so long as they have been taught how to love.

 

Why Prayers to the Queen Are the Will of God

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Why is it that it takes me so many hours to finally come to rest my burdens on Jesus after a long day?

If you’re a stay-at-home parent, you know how much can happen from the time you and the kids wake up, until the time (Praise the Lord) your kids go down for a nap, if you’re still being graced with one of those glorious break times. By the time I come around to relaxing and praying a rosary, I find myself completely exhausted on all aspects, especially spiritually. Today, instead of focusing on my prayers and glorifying the Lord, I’m distracted by my regrets of the day so far. Why did I once again turn to food to “help” with my stress? Why did I have to spend so much time disciplining my toddler while my 5 month old cried her sweet little self to sleep? Why didn’t I pry my eyes off my stupid phone so I could instead be truly present with my kids? Why did I waste precious moments on dreaming of a newer home or going shopping for new things to burn off some steam? And now why, God, why didn’t I come to you in those very first moments of weakness???

God is here. God was there. He’s been waiting for me. HE’S been waiting for ME! Little, helpless, feeling like a failure, me. He was there with His hand on my shoulder, while I explained to my daughter why we must share with our friends, and He was there comforting my youngest as she fell asleep. He was the little reminder in my head that pizza and chocolate won’t actually make me feel any better about myself, but rather will do just the opposite. He was bringing beautiful smiles to my girls’ faces as I stared away blankly at that God-forsaken mobile device. He was ripping my mind away from criticizing our home and veering my eyes toward the pictures of our happy daughters on the wall. And when I finally got that peace and quiet and gave myself up to a moment in genuine prayer, He revealed His love for me once again. Though I will never deserve it, He took away these burdens and He offered me His mercy, just as He does every single day.

We are urged to “pray without ceasing, to give thanks to God in all circumstances” (1 Thes 5:17-18). This is what God is calling us to do. This is the way to love your day. It’s truly the only way to to feel that you’ve done God’s will throughout your day. He is there in our everyday moments, no matter how pitiful we feel they may be. He is calling us to find peace. He wants us to do the right thing, resulting in a greater love toward Him. He wants to pour out His graces upon us. That can only happen if we let God in. He was there waiting for me to let Him in, but I kept running away. It was His own mother, the Queen of Peace, who stopped me in my tracks and sent my thoughts to her Divine Son. This is how I know any prayers to Mary will only bring you closer to God.

As a mother, I’ve always had a special devotion to Mary. I feel it’s easier for me to relate to her, as she was also human, though an incredible one. She is the perfect example for motherhood. She is the perfect example of trust in the Lord. She has the closest relationship of anyone with Jesus Christ. She is also our Mother. And what does our Mother want more than anything? For her children to join her and her Son in heaven. She loves us and she wants nothing more than to bring us closer to God. She wants no glory for herself, but only for God. And God loves her. He loves her so much that He provided her the grace to always say “yes” to Him. He loves her so much that He entrusted His only begotten Son to her care. He loves her so much that He brought her, body and soul, to Heaven. And He loves her so much that He affords her opportunity to dish out her grace upon us, the rest of His children. That’s why I pray the rosary. That’s why I ask for her intercession. And that’s why you should too.

Blessed Mother, Queen of Peace, Pray for us!

Lord God, Our Father, Have Mercy on us!

Advent and Kids: 10 Inexpensive Ways to Instill the True Meaning

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We are already about 1 week into Advent, and here I am finally trying to find fun and spiritual things to do with my kids to help them grow up knowing that Christmas is truly about the birth of Dear Lord Baby Jesus instead of Elsa the Ice Queen, candy, movies, mischievous elves, or whatever the hay it is they want Santa to bring them. It can’t be an easy task to achieve in our world today, and since my girls are so young (2.5 and 4 months), I figure the earlier, the merrier. Is that a saying? It just felt festive.

SO here ya go:

10 Cheap Ways to Instill Truth During Advent

1. Pray! Now I know I used the words “cheap” and “inexpensive” but this one is a real winner. I mean, come on, prayer is free! Unless you count the expense of time and energy and trying to get your children to actually pay attention… but we won’t count it because Jesus happens to be worth it. Besides, it’s important to at least set the example of daily prayer, even if our kids aren’t fully participating.

  • I like to start every day with a quick prayer before breakfast, whatever is on my heart. It’s a good opportunity to teach your kids not only to start out the day with prayer, but also how to pray.
  • The Angelus at noon is also a great one to do with kids. It’s fast and easy, and it’s the perfect reminder of The Annunciation and the good news that Jesus is coming! (Got this idea from a great article by Jenny Uebbing over at CNA).
  • I also like the  Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 every day.
  • And of course there is the beautiful, comfort of the Rosary(tends to just put my girls to sleep, which is not always a bad thing).
  • I don’t know about your parish, but ours was given complementary Advent prayer and reflection booklets that are AMAZING! Here is a link of several others that you could order if your church isn’t offering them: https://www.avemariapress.com/category/PM60/Advent-Resources/ We’ve been reading the reflections after the daily readings at our dinner table every evening, which leads me to the next activity

2. Dinner by Candlelight Advent wreath candlelight that is. Advent wreaths are a given when it comes to celebrating the season, but do you take the time to sit down for a family meal most nights and actually light the candles? Try it! Kids love to help light the candles, with caution of course, and there is something so special about enjoying time with your family by the candlelight. My husband always says “the dinner table is a sacred place.” Plus, if you don’t already have an Advent wreath, you don’t have to go out and buy a fancy one. Make your own or buy some cheap candles at the store with some cheap candle holders, or even use whatever you have at home.

3. Advent Calendar This is another that you can easily make yourself or find printable online. Hit up Pinterest if you want to get real crafty. It’s another that children get really excited about. I remember my own anticipation to get to move the little marker on the countdown when it was my turn( I have 5 siblings). Some parents get super creative and make calendars with an activity or craft to do for each day. See this idea here.

4. Baby Jesus Ornament This is something we are going to start this year instead of the popular Elf on the Shelf. We are going to use a small baby Jesus ornament to hide on the tree for our 2 year old to find in the morning. We also thought we could make it a tradition that whoever finds the ornament first on Christmas morning gets to open a present first.

5. Dec. 6th: St. Nicholas’ Feast Day Celebrate the day by teaching your kids about this glorious Saint. We do the Santa Clause thing, but this is a perfect time to establish who this Santa Clause figure is and how he set a tremendous example of generosity for us to live by. Veggie Tales has a fun little movie over St. Nick for the kids to watch. You can also start the old tradition of leaving a shoe out the night before and leave a little surprise for the kids in the morning.

6. Christmas Lights Adventure Many cities have outstanding Christmas light shows to go see, and what’s more is they’re free to attend. Our favorites in Oklahoma are in Yukon an Chickasha. Do some research and find one near you. If it’s not possible, just drive around neighborhoods to look at them and come home to enjoy hot cocoa as a family. Who doesn’t love Christmas lights?

7. Go See/Participate in a Live Nativity Another free and enriching activity that many cities and churches host. It really brings to life the story that we tell our children over and over. It’s just another learning platform to utilize to be sure your kids remember the birth of Jesus. Look for one near you!

8. Volunteer at a Charity Event Every year our diocese does a Christmas shopping event where those who cannot afford gifts can come and pick out gifts and wrap them for their loved ones. It even offers free babysitting while you shop! They always need volunteers and donations. You could volunteer at a soup kitchen, you could donate canned goods to the local food pantry, you could ring the bell for Salvation Army. Every parish has multiple opportunities for giving during the Advent season. Make the effort to find something for your family to do together each year.

9. Go to Adoration There is no better way to spend your time than to spend it with Christ’s living body, and what an amazing example for your children! It makes God so incredibly happy that you are willing to take time to be with him both spiritually and physically and that you are introducing your kids to Him. Even if it’s just 10 minutes on your way to get groceries. Take the time to do it. It really makes a difference, and your kids will really come to enjoy it. Trust me! Trust Our Lord! We need this.

10. Go to Reconciliation Another big need! And what a perfect time to be absolved of your sins! We like to go at least once a month, and we aren’t afraid to bring our girls either. Why? One, we are sinners. Two, it’s healing. And three, we want our kids to understand that!  This sacrament is such an amazing one that really ought to be used more. The more you go confess your sins, the more aware you are of what you need to do in order to become closer to God, and the more graces our Father bestows us. Also, I’ve never had a priest get onto me for bringing my little ones in with me. When my husband comes with me, then of course I leave them at the pew with him, but if anything, I think it sets a good example and will hopefully alleviate their nerves for Reconciliation when they get older.

 

Well, there they are! Please leave comments if you and your family have some cheap but meaningful Advent traditions. We’d love to hear!

To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. Show me your paths and teach me to follow;
guide me by your truth and instruct me.
 (Psalm 25)

Much love and God bless,

Olivia Swyden