Monthly Archives: May 2013

Family Hike

hiking with kids

As soon as the weather turns warm, we like to strap on our babies and hit the trails. I love almost everything about hiking: being outside and together as a family, taking in God’s glorious creation, fresh air, light exercise, and learning and seeing new things. [Things I don’t love: swallowing bugs, post-hike tick checks, being chased by elk, children around overlooks, snakes.]

We’ve learned a few things about hiking with kids. Honestly, it was easier when they were little [and light] and enjoyed being strapped to mama or daddy, wherever we were. Now that Landon is 22 months [and heavy] and Lucy is three and a half [and independent], we’re learning new stuff.

hiking with kids

hiking with kids

She wants to walk because she’s a big kid [she says] and we like to provide her any opportunity to burn some energy [she needs it]. We do tell her before we get out of the car that she won’t be able to walk the whole way and will have to spend some time on Daddy’s back in the Ergo [or his shoulders if Mama accidentally leaves one of the carriers at home]. We make the best time when we’re carrying them both, but then we miss out on her snail impressions.

hiking with kids

Or when she had to walk by a turtle just as afraid of her as she was of it.

hiking with kids

But if I had to offer one bit of advice to make a family hiking outing successful, it would definitely be “pack lots of snacks”. [Which is kind of true for most of parenting.]

hiking snacks

[Did you notice that my “helper” took a bite out of that apple. Just couldn’t wait.]
Our snack list includes:
-fruit
-fruit pouches [Our U-Fill Snack Packs work great, but these almost expired Plum’s were scored from the clearance bin.]
-Trail mix [granola, chocolate chips, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, etc]
-packaged snacks or bars

We do try to limit how many food products we buy that come in a box [i.e. processed foods]. We’re pretty picky about the ones we do allow and make sure they’re minimally-processed. To that end, we’ve started making our own hiking bars. We make them ahead of time and stick them in the freezer. That way by the time we’ve worked up an appetite on our hike they’ve dethawed enough to be just the right amount of refreshing.

hiking bars | hey, beth baker!

Hiking Bars
makes 8
based on these

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup puffed cereal
1/4 cup oat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut or almond butter
1/2 cup chocolate chips, set aside to melt

hiking bars | hey, beth baker!

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add in all the liquid ingredients. Mix together. Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and press the bar mix in, pushing it down as tight as you can. Melt the chocolate and spread a line layer on top of the bars. Put it in the freezer to set for 20 minutes or so. After that you can pull the parchment out and chop it into bars. I like to use a bench scraper for this, but you could probably use a butter knife or pizza cutter, too. You want to cut them after the chocolate has set but before it’s so firm that it cracks when you cut it. After I’ve cut them into 8 bars I wrap them in parchment and twine and put them in a freezer safe bag with the date and allergy warnings [a must in our house].

*If they’re drier than you’d like when you mix them up, add a bit more coconut oil.

hiking bars | hey, beth baker!

Here’s what we usually keep on hand in the puffed cereal department. The Kashi is considerably tastier than the puffed rice but it does contain wheat.
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hiking bars | hey, beth baker!

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Tap Tap Tap

Is this thing on? Because we have a very important announcement to make.

hey, beth baker!

We’ve been given quite the gift.

hey, beth baker!

And everybody over here is super excited about it.

hey, beth baker!

Baby Baker #3 will be arriving in early December!

This girl is especially excited. She’s been begging for a baby sister for about six months and talks about about the things she can’t wait to do with her little sister; even though we haven’t told her the big news yet!

This baby feels like such a gift because we prayed a lot about when we should add to our family. Very soon after I became pregnant Landon began having his seizures, so needless to say, had we waited a few weeks we would have been too overwhelmed to consider adding to our family [or our medical bills :)]! God is good and his timing is perfect.

sometimes

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sometimes days feel like weeks. they’re heavy and exhausting. they leave me feeling like i didn’t accomplish anything and i have nothing to give. i am stripped.

sometimes at the end of those days i pack the kids in the double stroller and walk about the neighborhood. asking God questions aloud. “am i doing this right?”

sometimes it rains on us and the kids are elated.

sometimes the idea of cooking dinner for my family feels monumental. like: please construct mount rushmore by yourself, without any tools, in three days monumental.

sometimes it’s enough to go to a friend’s house where you feel so at home and so welcome you don’t really mind that you’ve been white knuckling your parental duties.

sometimes all it takes is a successful trip to the mall to swing your day.

sometimes the idea of a shopping mall makes you feel nauseous.

sometimes you start each day by telling your mother you’ll call her back after you give your daughter a time out.

sometimes you have to be the mean mom who makes her daughter stay home from dance class because she’s making poor choices.

sometimes you have to be the mean mom who makes everyone leave the playground because one cannot follow the rules.

sometimes you want to disregard all the rules.

sometimes your daughter says, “you’re awesome, mom!” and it fuels you for a week.

sometimes you sneak into your kid’s room and hold their hand while they’re sleeping because life has showed you its fragility and it humbled you.

sometimes you are overwhelmed by the abundance of blessings and mercies you have.

sometimes you’re embarrassed that you would ask for more.

sometimes life presents itself as something you’ve valued as unfair and you have to figure out the justification of that which leaves you hopeful rather than envious.

sometimes you have to be real and admit the thoughts you’re not proud of to find freedom from them.

sometimes you can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the perfection granted by life’s everyday moments.

sometimes you take a morning to do a dance class via dvd with your daughter. and sometimes you like it.

sometimes all it takes to turn the day around is a hazelnut macchiato.

sometimes you make pancakes for breakfast and your toddler son pats you on the back in approval.

sometimes you buy frozen waffles because the idea of starting the day out with kitchen mess is too much.

sometimes you wish you could communicate better in person than in writing.

sometimes you look at your husband and honestly can’t believe you’re married to someone so incredibly good-looking.

sometimes the kids’ bath comes by way of the sprayground.

sometimes your daily entertainment is watching the “shows” put on by your daughter and her never-ceasing imagination. and usually you like it.

sometimes you have to remind yourself of your own words.

sometimes reflection will draw your spirit towards contentment.

sometimes you ask for help. for encouragement. and it comes. [But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9, 10 ESV)]

mama confessions | hey, beth baker!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

I wanna talk about chocolate chip cookies, please.

If ever there was a treat that brought back so many amazingly glorious childhood memories, it’s a good chocolate chip cookie.

My mom was that mom. The one that was known for her cookies. I remember a friend telling me once, “Oh my gosh, you’re so lucky – you can have these whenever you want.” Too true.

When the kids were first diagnosed with allergies, I tried to just kind replace the regular flour with gluten-free and use egg-replacer. It was a disaster. Honestly. I considered just throwing the cookie sheet away instead of scrubbing it kind of disaster. Oh man.

So a few weeks ago I was eating some Lucy brand cookies when I thought, “I want cookies that taste like these.” It was a bit of an ironic thought because we already have a gluten-free, vegan chocolate chip cookie recipe that we enjoy. But who ever complains about experiments involving cookies? Nobody.

crispy, chewy chocolate-chip cookies | hey, beth baker

[Can I be honest and tell you the first time I made this graphic I spelled Crispy with an ‘h’. Close call.]

These are crisp around the edges and chewy in the middle. But I do have a disclaimer. If you’re not going to eat them right out of the oven you might want to freeze them. They seem to kind of soften up and get a little sticky if you leave them out. Or, if you do like I did, you might put them in Tupperware and then be forced to separate them with a knife.

Um, disclaimer #2, these cookies are unashamedly gluten-free. Normally I try to make gluten-free baking attainable to all [i.e. buy this one flour or this particular mix]. But this recipe is saying, “These kids are gluten-free and proud of it.” Or maybe, “You know you’re a gluten-free mom when you have more types of flour than you do fingers.” And, you guys, I’m okay with it. Some times the little guy needs a win. But don’t get too sad because I’m going to share two more recipes below that are guaranteed to fill all your chocolate-chip cookie needs. Bake on.

crispy, chewy chocolate-chip cookies | hey, beth baker

Crispy, Chewy Chocolate-Chip Cookies [that just happen to be vegan & gluten-free]
Makes about 2 dozen

1/2 cup vegetable shortening [you can use coconut oil if you wish]
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup oat flour
1/2 cup garbanzo & fava bean flour
1/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup sweet white sorghum flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup chocolate-chips

Preheat oven to 375F. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together all of the flours, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda.

In a separate medium-sized bowl, cream together the shortening and sugars. Add the maple syrup and vanilla and stir. Add the dry to the wet. It will be a dry batter. Mix in the milk. Add the chocolate chips.

crispy, chewy chocolate-chip cookies | hey, beth baker

The cookies will spread quite a bit so make sure you give them lots of room. Bake for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden around the edges.

crispy, chewy chocolate-chip cookies | hey, beth baker

Here’s my mom’s bake sale winning recipe, based on a 1970s version of the Toll House Cookie Recipe.

Kathy’s Chocolate-Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

2 1/4 cups self-rising flour*
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup palm oil or vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix the flour and baking soda, set aside.

Cream together the sugars and shortening. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix well. Stir in the flour and then mix in the chocolate chips. Bake 375F for 9-11 minutes.

*If self-rising flour isn’t something you keep on hand you can use 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour with 3 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of salt.

And, if the idea of shortening makes you squirm [read: if you weren’t raised in the South] here’s an old faithful Kitchen-Aid chocolate-chip recipe that uses butter.

Kitchen-Aid Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 ounces chocolate-chips

Preheat the oven to 375F. Mix together the dry ingredients and set aside.

Cream together the butter and sugars. Mix in the egg and vanilla. Add the dry in and mix well. Add the chocolate chips. Drop onto a cookie sheet about 2 inches apart and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Whew, well what are you waiting for!? There are cookies to be baked.

Lucky Number Seven

A long time ago I met a reallllly cute boy and we went shopping for calculators together. True story. We fell in love under the stately columns of the University of Missouri. We got hitched, like real quick. The boy got under my skin and it is incredible to me that with each passing year he can woo me even more. When I think of all of the blessings in my life they all have him in it. He is my one true love. The companion I prayed for. He is the one I am blessed by and choose to share this life with. He took away my disbelief in love at first sight. He has shown me a love so deep it has brought me closer to my Heavenly Father. Chuck Baker, I love you to pieces. Happy Anniversary, my love.

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Lucy Lately

A few Lucy moments to brighten your mood.

[Looking out the window.] “Thank you, Jesus, for making it stop raining.”

Lu: “I am Ballerina Jesus!”
Me: “Um, do you mean a ballerina for Jesus?”
Lu: “Yes! I am Ballerina For Jesus.”

Me: “Take that costume off, we’ve got to take Landon to the doctor.”
Lu: “Okay!!!!!!!! Buddy you have to go to the doctor so that we can get lollipops!”

[To Landon, while watching a slideshow of pictures] “Buddy, that’s me kissing you when you were a baby. I liked to kiss you ’cause you’re my brudder.”

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[Chuck is outside mowing, Lucy is sitting with her legs criss-cross by the door, whispering.] “Daddy I want to go outside with you. Daddy I want to swing high up in the sky while you work. Daddy I want to go outside with you…”

Newest phrases: “Oh, my!”, “That’s awesome!”, and “It’s okay, Sweetheart.”.

“Bear Bear is my baby sister and she likes to eat cake with me. But then she got something in her eye and I had to take her to the doctor. But he fixed her up.”

[Lucy hiding under some pillows, watching Netflix on the Kindle. I can’t see her but I can hear the Kindle.]
Me: “Uh, Lucy, where are you?
[Pops head up, completely scaring me.]
Lu: “Ummmm, noffing?”

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Me: “Lucy, we need to clean your room today – it’s super messy.”
Lu: “Oh, it’s okay Mom. I’ll just mess it up again.”

[We’re painting and Landon paints a streak down Lucy’s face.]
Lu: “Landon, I am not paper! That is not the right way to share paint!”

Me: “Lucy, why do you watch Barney? What do you like most about him?
Lu: “Angelina Ballerina!”
Me: “No, what do you like most about Barney?
Lu: “Oh Mom, I already told you. Angelina!”

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Fish Tacos

Chuck and I have been married for nearly seven years! And during those seven years there’s one food I’ve never made. One food that had me convinced it was not within my repertoire: fish! I was afraid, my friends.

But when I was visiting my mom early this spring she made some fish tacos that had us all begging for more and I knew I had to give it a go. Anybody else scared to make fish at home [let’s be honest: it only takes one fishy fish experience to make you weary]?

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

So here’s our fish story: We started with some frozen tilipia from Trader Joe’s. I can also highly recommend the frozen mahi from Publix, but any white fish will probably work. De-thaw, either by bringing it to the fridge a day early or letting it hang out in some cold water.

Heat your grill to high. While it’s warming up, get a piece of aluminum foil a little bit bigger than twice the width of your fish. Put the fish on top of the foil, to one side, so that you can fold the foil over on top of the fish later.

Top the fish with olive oil and your choice of seasonings. Since we were going for fish tacos I added salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chipotle chili powder, and basil. Once I’d sprinkled everything on I massaged the olive oil in a bit to make sure everything was covered.

Then you’ll want to fold your foil on top and roll up the edges. When the grill is ready, add your fish packet and grill for 10 minutes. That’s it! I used two forks to shred ours and make it taco friendly.

Do not fear the fish!

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

To top our tacos we had some gaucamole, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black beans, plain greek yogurt [in lieu of sour cream], and salsa. I always overstuff my tacos and make a huge mess. Always.

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

We gave Landon his toppings in a bowl to avoid toddler taco frustration and he had fourths of the fish. Considering he’s the boy who wouldn’t eat any meat a month ago, I was beyond thrilled!

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

Lucy really wants to be like the adults so she did her best to eat her smaller corn tortillas like a champ.

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

Enjoy!

fish tacos | hey, beth baker!

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Still

Landon

We’re still here. I thought we were done, though looking back on it a voicemail from a doctor saying our kid was a-okay is a little bit like your boyfriend breaking up with you via text.

We still have peace. And we’re still dancing [maybe it’s more of a sway].

About a week after Landon got the all clear that his EEG and Brain MRI came back “normal”, he had another seizure. We were riding home from Lucy’s dance class and he seemed more tired than he should have been. He was dozing a bit when sat straight up, his lips turned blue, he slumped forward, and his eyes begin to flutter.

This time it wasn’t as scary as the other times. I just kept saying over and over, “I can’t believe this is happening again.” The episodes only last thirty seconds or so and the doctors have assured me that even though his lips are blue he’s still breathing. They also tell me that because he’s not having the kind of seizure where he shakes and because they’re short, they’re unlikely to cause any developmental delays. Those seem like good things.

I went to church Sunday with a heavy heart. I just really didn’t know what to do. By the time Chuck had the presence of mind to get his phone out to video Landon, the seizure was over. And we felt like the doctors had told us there wasn’t really anything they could do without a video.

So I prayed. And I had other people pray for me. And I let people in on my struggle. And I cried, wept, and realized the shame I was feeling. Yeah, shame. Shame that I couldn’t get a video of it. Shame that I wasn’t taking care of him. And I accepted healing. And I rejected the shame.

The next morning I tried to pray for Landon. I love those blissful moments before the kids are awake. The air is quiet and draws out your thoughts. Coffee seems to warm your soul and words seem clearer, thoughts less crowded.

There was one verse that came almost immediately and stuck with me that day.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”

[Psalm 46:10]

Hold on. So you’re saying all of this stuff is happening with my sweet boy and I should do nothing? Huh. And you’re saying You can be exalted in a situation like this? Wow. [A friend actually prayed that over me a few weeks ago. It’s crazy to me when prayers are later affirmed through God’s Word.] So… I didn’t do anything. And the craziest thing happened. One of those friend tells a friend about her friend’s friend kind of thing and before we knew it we were in contact with the Neurology Department from the other children’s hospital in St. Louis. They asked me a serious of questions about Landon’s episodes and asked me to transfer over the other doctor’s notes. The told us there was a three month waiting list for appointments and gave us the next available on July 10th. I felt thankful that the last words the nurse said to me were, “We’re going to help you find answers.”

And then, mercifully, the next day we got a phone call that there was a cancellation and an opening the following day. YES, we’ll take it.

The morning of the appointment came and I felt God once again speaking to me in the quiet.

“I rejoice, because I have perfect confidence in you.”
[2 Corinthians 7:16]

Confidence that God will direct us to the right doctors. Confidence that His hand is at work. Confident that if I put my trust in Him and try to trust and follow Him, He will direct our paths. He loves us and longs to care for us. And so, rejoice I will. Dance I must. Life is full and infinitely blessed.

So we saw our new doctor and I really liked him. Better still, Landon really liked him [kids are great character judges]. He asked me super specific questions about the “spells”, but unlike last time it didn’t feel like the doctor was trying to catch me in a lie. He told us the episodes Landon’s having are definitely seizures. They’re not ready to diagnosis him with epilepsy yet, but they gave us two options. We could either start him on anti-seizure medications now or wait until after the next seizure. We chose to wait. We’re also having another EEG done, which should give the doctors more information about which anti-seizure medicine would be most helpful.

They gave us a lot of statistics and a lot of information [also different from our last experience]. Six out of every ten EEGs of epileptic children come back normal, so the test is not a great indicator. But on the bright side, the kind of seizures Landon is having are the ones children most often grow out of. Only 0.5% of adults over the age of 25 still have them.

I left the appointment feeling hopeful. Feeling taken care of. That this, these seizures, aren’t something that can control us. They don’t mean we aren’t taken care of. I cannot let them make me feel like less than a loving mother following after Christ. Seizures will not hold us captive. We will not let fear steal our confidence.

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