Monday, June 29, 2009


Mom guilt has plagued me since the beginning of my motherhood journey. Truly. I even feel guilty about feeling guilty.

One thing I’ve stopped feeling guilty about, however, is napping or going to bed early. I’ve learned that in order to do this job day in and day out, I need to take care of myself. Getting enough rest is a big part of that.

With a two-year old in the house, naptime is still a part of our daily routine. At seven-years old, the noisy boys don’t need naps anymore, but taking a break in the afternoon from hard play is still a good thing. So when the toddler goes down for his nap, the rest of us have an hour of “downtime.” Downtime is any quiet activity that you can do by yourself, including napping, reading, working a puzzle, painting a picture…you get the idea.

Instituting “downtime” for all of us this summer has been a win-win. The house is quiet for our napping toddler, and we all feel refreshed after at least an hour of rest.

And, yes, sometimes I’m tempted to plow through the afternoon to get more work done, but I’m learning that for me, in this season of life, this just isn’t wise. Honestly, the days I do that I get less done, not more. I’m learning to pace myself as a mom. It’s not enough to get the floors mopped and the laundry done in the afternoon…I need to be able to make it through the evening—fix supper, get the kids to bed, and—ideally—have some energy left at the end of the day to hang out with my husband.

This week, I’m privileged to participate in a blog tour for Keri Wyatt Kent’s new book, Rest. I’ll be sharing more thoughts later this week, and you can also check out the other bloggers participating in the tour by clicking here.

I don't do many blog tours because, well, this isn't a book review site. But every once in awhile a book comes along that I feel passionately about. Rest is one of them. Plus, I've been following Keri's blog for quite awhile now, and I'm excited to partner with her on her new book!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

and the winner is...

The winner of the book, My Body Belongs to Me, is Much Afraid. I'm glad this book is going to one of my faithful, long-time readers! I hope this book speaks to you, Much Afraid, and to your son...and any other child who is able to read it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

summer survival cooking

I love spending hot, summer afternoons at our neighborhood swimming pool. Love it. What I don’t love is figuring out what to make for dinner when we walk through the door and everyone is starving!

Summer cooking is all about survival at my house. Here’s what works for me:

Keep raw veggies and dip in the fridge to pull out as soon as you walk in the door. The kids will chow down, and if they spoil their appetite for dinner, who cares? They’re eating vegetables.

Ditto on the fruit. A bowl of washed grapes or sliced apples is easy to pull out for a quick and nutritious snack. (Just toss the apples with a little orange juice to keep them from browning.)

We like to grill. Did you know you can freeze your meat right in the marinade? So, when you find chicken on sale, buy a bunch, whip up a double batch of your favorite marinade, divide it into ziplock bags and freeze the meat right in the marinade. Here’s one of my favorite recipes for chicken and pork:

(Cooking Light, July 1997)

1 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed

Combine all ingredients, and stir marinade well. Yield: 1 1/2 cups.

Head over to We are That Family for more great tips!

Monday, June 22, 2009

childhood sexual abuse

Not a fun topic, I know, but one we as parents need to talk about. We need to talk about it with eachother and we need to talk about it with our children.

In the year 2000, there were 879,000 substantiated reports of child abuse in the United States alone. 10% of those were cases of sexual abuse. (You can see the statistics here:

And those are just the kids who told. There are many who never do.

When Jill Starishevsky contacted me about her new book, My Body Belongs to Me, I was intrigued. As a mom, it’s not easy to bring up these tough topics with my kids. And I have to say, after reading the book with my kids, I’m impressed.

My Body Belongs to Me is short, simple, and easy enough for a preschooler to understand. Written for children ages 3-10, it explains in a straightforward and appropriate way what sexual abuse is, and how children can protect themselves. (In the story, a girl is touched inappropriately by a family friend, and she yells and tells her parents right away.)

Incidentally, one of my boys commented, “Well, you can’t always yell.” I asked why not, and he said, “You’re not allowed to yell at school.” We’ve had this conversation before, but we needed to have it again. The you-can-break-all-the-rules-to-protect-yourself conversation. You can yell, scream, kick, hit—whatever you need to do to get away from someone who is trying to hurt you, even if that person is a grown up that you’ve been told to obey.

The author of the book, Jill Starishevsky, is a prosecutor of child abuse and sex crimes in New York City. The case of a 9-year old girl who had been raped by her stepfather over a three-year period of time compelled her to write this book. Jill writes:
“One day, the girl saw an episode of ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ about children who were physically abused. The episode, ‘Tortured Children,’ empowered the girl with this simple message: If you are being abused, tell your parents. If you can’t tell your parents, go to school and tell your teacher. The girl got the message and the very next day went to school and told her teacher. I prosecuted the case for the District Attorney’s office. The defendant was convicted and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence.”

I don’t know about you, but thinking about a child enduring this kind of nightmare rips me up. I want to be the kind of adult that children can trust—my own kids and the other kids who are in our lives.

So parents? Talk to your kids about the tough stuff. Open the lines of communication and keep them open. Listen well. Our children need us.

And now I’d like to give away this book that Jill so graciously sent me. So leave me a comment and on June 29, I’ll pick a winner at random!

And if you’d like to order a copy of Jill’s book, click here.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

writing retreat

Four years ago, I attended a writer’s retreat that was so much more than a writer’s retreat. It was a vibrant community of writers who had been encouraging and supporting eachother for years.

The Writing Academy offers online writing classes, critique groups and an annual weekend retreat. If you’re a writer in need of community, I can’t recommend this group enough. Whether you’re a seasoned author with numerous publications or a newbie just starting out, you will find encouragement in this group.

I’m excited to have the opportunity to attend the writer’s weekend again this summer, and want to encourage you to sign up if you can. It’s affordable, it’s beautiful, and it will breathe life into your writing journey. (And if you’re a local, we can carpool!)

So, who wants to join me?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


How do you deal with disappointment? I have to confess, my first reaction is usually to pull the covers over my head and just hide. Or eat chocolate. Or both.

As many of you know, my husband, Llama Papa, has been looking for a job since last fall. He’s had some great leads and some great interviews, but no offers. Yesterday, he found out he didn’t get a job he really wanted.

Which sucks.

Financially, we’re in good shape. God has been abundantly gracious to us, which we’re beyond grateful for. But still. It’s disappointing to not be able to find a job.

Beyond disappointing.

So if you think of us, say a prayer that the right job would come along for one of us. And if you’re looking for a great IT guy or a snarky writer, drop me a line.

Monday, June 8, 2009

dry roasted edamame

Leaving 7-year olds in charge of the toddler while I take a shower can work out pretty well. Or not.

Technically, they didn't break any rules.


Some days, all you can do is laugh, take a picture, and move on.

Today is turning into one of those days.

When I asked the toddler what he was doing, he told me he was making a pie for his aunt. Such a thoughtful boy.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I scream, you scream...

Today was our last day of school, and we’re living it up over here at the Llama household. Each of the boys invited a friend over to play, and they had a blast playing kickball, having relay races, and making ice cream in ziplock bags.

That’s right.

Ice cream in ziplock bags.

Curious? Here’s the recipe:


1/2 cup milk or half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
6 tablespoons rock salt


Put cream, vanilla and sugar into a pint or quart-sized freezer bag. Seal well.

Fill a large, gallon-sized freezer bag with ice. Add the salt.

Put the smaller bag into the larger bag and seal.

Shake and mix until the ice cream thickens, about 10 minutes. You can also let the kids gently throw the bag back and forth to help mix the ice cream. The bag gets very cold, so you might want to use towels to hold it.

Makes 1 serving.

We are that Family is hosting a carnival of ideas, so click here to read more fun summer boredom busters!