Wordless Wednesday #14 - Gratuitous Cuteness

Mom Blog Monday Blog Hop ~ I'm the Featured Guest

Jun 26, 2011

Welcome to Raising Knights! 

I was fortunate to be randomly picked to be the featured blogger for the Mom Blog Monday Blog Hop. Make yourself at home and poke around my blog, check out some posts, copy some recipes, leave a comment or two. Be sure to follow via GFC or email because I'll be having some giveaways in the near future to promote my new business, To Love and Protect. Thanks for stopping by!

If you are a regular reader or found me by accident, then read on to find out more about the blog hop and then link up your mom blog. 

Are you a Mommy blogger? Do you blog about your kids? Do you blog about great things for Mommies?
 Do you wanna meet other Mom Bloggers?

The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom

This blog hop is hosted by The Not-So-Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom , Luxury Living Frugal Style, and So Easy Being Green!


All we ask is that you follow So Easy Being GreenThe Not- So- Secret Confessions of a First Time Mom, and Luxury Living Frugal Style.We are the first three on the linky!Then follow spot #4 which is the featured blog! Be sure to leave us a comment so we can follow you back!

We would LOVE it if you'd grab our button and put it somewhere on your blog or in a blog post! This would help us spread the word. However, you aren't required to.

Blueberry Almond Buckle

We absolutely love blueberries here! They get eaten by the handful and star in muffins, smoothies, pancakes, and waffles regularly. I took LJ, IB, and M2 blueberry picking yesterday. Well, M2 slept on my back in the Patapum carrier. The boys didn't last very long in the sweltering heat, but we did manage to pick about 2 1/2 quarts of sweet purple berries.

My plan was to make muffins, as usual, until the boys let me know that they were tired of muffins. So, when we got back home, I went for my King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. I quickly decided on Blueberry Buckle. While I was gathering my ingredients from the pantry, I noticed a bag of sliced almonds and thought I would alter the recipe a bit. I also doubled the recipe but the following recipe is for the original 9X9 pan size. Just in case, you don't want a LOT of this super yummy, moist, flavorful, whole-grain coffee cake bursting with sweet blueberries and topped with buttery, crunchy, cinnamon-y streusel topping, use the recipe as is. If you double, you can use two 9X9 baking dishes or a 9X13 for a tall cake. That's what I did and it needed to bake for a few minutes longer, ending up with the bottom corners a tad bit overdone. Barely noticeable, though. If you would like a better presentation, use a round springform pan and slice into wedges. We're more into quantity and quality around here.

Blueberry Almond Buckle

3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cups rolled oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cups sliced almonds (opt)

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cups milk (I used almond milk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract (opt., if not using, double vanilla)
2 cups blueberries, rinsed (fresh, or, if using frozen, do not rinse or thaw)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 9" square pan.

Make the streusel: Whisk together sugar, flours, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter to make medium-size crumbs. Toss in almonds, if using.

Make the buckle: Whisk together flours, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Cream together the butter and sugar in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy, then add the eggs, one at a time, stopping to scrape the sides between additions. Stir in half the dry ingredients, then the milk and extracts, scraping down the sides. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients, then gently fold in the blueberries. Spread the batter in the prepared pan, and sprinkle the streusel evenly over the top.

Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool, in the pan, on a rack.

Linked to Tuesdays at the Table and What's Cooking Wednesday.

My New Business - A Sneak Peek

Jun 22, 2011

For a few months, I've been busy researching, planning, and working on a new business venture. As I get closer to being ready for the grand opening, I'd like to give you a sneak peek at what I've been doing and get some feedback. 

Would you please go to To Love and Protect, take a look around, and let me know what you think so far? Do you see anything that needs to be fixed (broken links, grammar, spelling, etc.)? What do you think of the homepage collage? Is it too busy? Keep in mind that it is still under construction. I have been ordering and adding inventory this week and there is plenty of content to be added. But after you have looked at something for so long, it's difficult to see it objectively. Your comments are greatly appreciated. 

Make sure you are following or a subscriber because once my store opens, you may see a giveaway or two here at Raising Knights. Oh, and at the blog for To Love and Protect. Thank you for your support!

Wordless Wednesday #13 - Berry Pickin'

{Subject: LJ, Photographer: M1}

A Watery Grave

Jun 19, 2011

I look at my vase of hydrangeas and see beauty and color, but to little boys...

Now, look closely.

it may be a swimming pool...or a watery grave.

Father's Day 2011

To all of the Men who are loving, protecting, and providing for their families:

Happy Father's Day!

Papa Bear gets special treatment on Father's Day. He started off with breakfast in bed (Cocoa Pebbles & Cinnamon Toast Crunch served on a tray), then went back to sleep. Later, when we go to my mom's, he'll get a rare treat of shrimp cocktail and banana split pie. Not together, of course. And the fun doesn't stop there. He also received Reese's Cups, beef jerky, new socks, and homemade cards. Sophisticated, don't you think? Considering that most of these "goodies" are things I don't normally buy, Papa Bear is feeling pretty special right now. Although, I don't know how he'll be feeling by the end of the day after all of the junk food.

What do you and the kids do for your husband on his special day?

Finding Answers to My Teen's Ear Problem

Jun 16, 2011

Back in March, I told you about the problems M1 has had with ear infections and ruptures. Our family doctor referred us to an ENT and after two rescheduled appointments, we finally went yesterday. As we walked in the fairly new, beautifully decorated building, I couldn't help thinking that it takes a LOT of surgeries to pay for that kind of fancy. Once we were inside, I wondered if any of the parents who watched their children play in the big, colorful play room knew about the likelihood of food allergies being involved in their child's infection cycle. M1 and I talked and laughed with each other while we waited. It was a rare occasion to be alone with my oldest son, without even M2, so I soaked it up.

We had a nice conversation with the audiologist and she even had a couple of insights to share when I mentioned Papa Bear's hearing loss and ringing ears due to his time in Afghanistan. M1's hearing is perfect, according to her tests, and she gave him some good advice about keeping it that way and listening to his iPod. Then we went to a different room and waited some more for The Doctor. When he came in with one of those reflector headbands, I thought M1 would laugh out loud, but he contained it...until after we were out of the office. I shared my theory that perhaps all of M1's orthodontic work had rearranged the structure of his jaw and palate and created the problem. The doctor examined all of M1's head cavities while asking me questions. He had me look over his shoulder at the white streaks at the back of M1's throat and explained what adenoids are. He said that my theory was plausible but it wasn't the case this time. Adenoids can become swollen because of bacteria and there isn't anything to remedy it. Altogether, it took him about five minutes to determine and declare that Mason needed surgery to remove his adenoids. SURPRISE! M1 watched me because he knew what was coming next...

To sum it up, I told the doctor that that is what I expected we would hear, that we preferred to avoid surgery if possible, and that I would check into other alternatives first. I also told him about our experiences with dairy and ear infections when the older boys were little. He said that there may be 1000 different holistic or homeopathic remedies that might work on a small number of people but don't work for everyone. He also admitted that he is not knowledgeable about other treatments since he was trained specifically in medicine. And then he said that the ball is in my court. Yes, it is. While I appreciate the need for medical professionals, I do think that people rely on them way too much and accept what they say without questioning or researching on their own. If we cannot resolve the issue on our own, after exploring the alternatives, then we'll reconsider the doctor's advice.

As soon as I got home, I went online to see if anyone else had discovered a connection between swollen adenoids and dairy consumption. I already knew about the connection to ear infections but wanted to find out if eliminating dairy resolved the adenoid issue. Of course, I found many testimonies to support my theory. Doctors want scientific studies, I want to hear personal experiences. Due to our experiences with dairy so far, I didn't have to say much to convince M1 to eliminate dairy from his diet. To make it easier for him and to resolve any underlying issues for the rest of us, we are all going dairy-free again. Except for Papa Bear. You couldn't convince him to give up his glass of cold milk with dinner, his occasional bowl of cereal, or his weekly chocolate malts.

I'll keep you updated on our discoveries as they unfold. I would love to hear about your experiences, so please leave a comment.

Being Transformed By the Grace of God

Jun 8, 2011

Grace is hard for me. Intellectually, I get it. But emotionally and personally, I can't quite grasp it. Perhaps, it is because I know that I am so unworthy. Imperfect. Broken. As a result, I find it difficult to consistently show grace to the people I love most, my husband and sons.

While I've been struggling with my feelings and motivation* this past year, my relationships with my sons have been eroding. To be honest, my tank was close to empty and I hit cruise control. The problem with that is that I stopped being an intentional parent and I began reacting to most of the things my sons did, instead of discipling them. Before too long, the only things I could see were the things they did wrong. It became a disheartening cycle of bad behavior and bad attitudes...for ALL of us. Instead of responding to misbehavior with love and grace, I became stricter and angrier. And I lost my joy.

The other side of the problem is the part of me that is hung up on rules and doing things the right way. The part of me that fears that my sons will fall into the trap of sin. That they will repeat my mistakes. That they will become like me. Ironically, I'm discovering that the fruit of my parenting is the opposite of what I desire. While I know what I should do, I have a difficult time doing it. 

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 
Romans 7:15

But recently, God has been loosening my grip on my control issues {which is really fear} and leading me to an attitude of grace. Through prayer and quiet time, the grace of God, and a few different books by enlightened authors, including The Ministry of Motherhood and Grace-Based Parenting, I am having my momma spirit renewed. I'm learning to think differently and I'm changing my vocabulary. Because there are words that can build up or crush a child's spirit. 

My Turning Point

LJ, being at such an impressionable age and still in love with his momma, has been most affected by my wrong attitude and his behavior has plummeted over the past couple of months. Granted, four-year-old boys can be a handful anyway, but when their momma is being a "meanie" it can get a lot worse. He has been escaping the house and going down the block to a friend's house by himself or crossing the street...numerous times each day. He has been spouting off several inappropriate words and has been becoming increasingly defiant. Papa Bear and I have both been at a loss as to how to deal with him and have ended up being too harsh.

Inside, I knew that his behavior was linked to mine. I saw firsthand that a mother truly does set the thermostat for the family. I saw the pain that I was causing my precious little boy. I knew that he didn't want to behave badly, he just didn't know what else to do to get my attention. 

Through words printed on a page, the Lord reminded me of my value as a mother. He showed me that fear only begets more fear and that grace releases people. So, this week, I held LJ in my lap, told him how very much I loved him, apologized for being a "meanie", and asked for his forgiveness. The relief was written on his face as he melted into me. Later in the day, he went outside again and when I found him, he was sitting at the edge of the yard beside his bike watching his brother play with friends across the street. I sat beside him and asked what he was doing. He told me that he wanted to go see his brother, but he didn't. I told him that he made the right choice and I was proud of him. That was the beginning of a momentous change in our home. The tension is starting to loosen and attitudes are already showing improvement. I am beginning to feel right again and, with each step, it is getting easier to respond with love and grace toward my children, even when they push all of my buttons. 

*My choice of phrasing seems to minimize what I've been going through since M2's birth. I suspect that I was experiencing minor postpartum depression at first, which then evolved into a period of major burnout that I have only recently begun to recover from. Hormones can wreak havoc on a woman's emotions.

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