Monday, February 11, 2008

Ethiopian Merkato: Authentic food, Authentic Friend! :)

Two years ago on February 10, 2006, I met and had lunch with my dear friend Scott Fifer who had just come back from a volunteer vacation in Tanzania. He had brought me back this adorable Tanzanian angel made of a banana peel, and had wonderful stories and photos to share with me. Well that day, that looked just like any other day, was a day that God plucked me off the path that my life was on, and plunked me down onto a path that would lead KC and I to our 5th and 6th children; adopted and home from Ethiopia just 10 mos after that lunch with Scott! :) When God touches your heart with the things that touch his heart - your life will NEVER be the same. Over and over throughout the bible, he talks about his love for the poor and orphaned and forgotten. If that doesnt describe Africa, I dont know what does.
Last night was our 2 year anniversary of that lunch, and we celebrated with a dinner in an authentic Ethiopian restaurant in Los Angeles where Scott met our boys for the first time, and our other kids as well. :) We had a great time eating the food, chattering and laughing, and enjoying one anothers company! (oh, and trying on cool Ethiopian hats!) Its incredible to me how our hearts are entwined with each others as we share the love and concern for people on the other side of this much smaller than I had previously thought, world.

Scott is in the process of raising money to build a home, school, water system for an orphanage entitled "TunaHAKI" which means "We have a right". Link: He already raised money to purchase the land, so now its a matter of getting the remaining funds donated, and the project built. Over 20-something kids live in this orphanage of kids with varying Christian denominations. Which got my wheels turning - wouldnt it be cool to get a group to head over there to give them a week of Vacation Bible School, complete with their own bibles and games, and skits, all teaching about the love of their creator?!?! :) Yes, meals with Scott seem to be the catalyst for Gods "dawnings" for me! Think twice before you accept a meal invitation from him! hee KIDDING, of course! :)

God just keeps flinging open doors for my heart to be drawn to the orphans of the African continent - I encourage you to listen if you are feeling that same tugging at YOUR heart! It doesnt mean life will be easier, but FAR RICHER!! :) What better way to live, than to have the creator of life directing your next steps?! Words cant describe the exhileration and joy! And to do it side by side with friends....all the better! :)

Easy, Healthy Kids Lunches

One of the questions I'm asked regularly by parents is "Any ideas for a healthy lunch?" :) Why, I'm glad you asked! Because its far easier than you may be thinking! Kids whose parents start eating healthier find less Ho-Ho's, Twinkies, Lunchables, and juice boxes in their lunches, and trust me, that is not a fun occurance for ANYONE involved! (can you tell I'm speaking from experience?!)

The one thing I've learned from both having BEEN a kid, but also by having my own, is that even though kids like to have something thats on the cutting edge of new and cool, they dont want it to be so far outside the normal realm that we're actually called...gulp....different. :) Cuz when you're THAT different, then you're called 'weird' by other kids, and that is the next thing to torture for someone who's just trying to blend in and carve out their niche in their crowd of peers. So, what does that mean? Do we as parents give in and make a decision that is contrary to what we believe to keep the peace in our home? Thankfully, I dont think the answer has to be THAT dramatic of a solution!

Giving our kids healthy options but made to look appetizing and dare I say it, "CUTE", is our goal! At our Tony Horton Fitness Camps, I've spoken about making their lunches with a bit more effort with the hopes of finding the happy medium of what they want, and what I'm willing to give. I'm a fan cute plates, stickers on the younger kids napkins with a little love note from me, cute little baggies with decorations, or a sticker from me, sandwiches cut into cute shapes with a cookie cutter, cute little containers for their fruit or whatever, so they dont miss the heavy corn syrup laden fruit cups they used to get before I knew better, cute spoons with characters on them, a decorated lunch bag with various colored markers and stickers, etc. You're getting the idea.

Do I EVER give my kid a Ho-Ho? The answer is yes. Every once in a blue moon, in teaching them moderation, otherwise they'll hit that age where they can buy their own food and have learned no sense of self discipline and balance with food. Being too extreme, and putting that onto our kids can actually bring a contrapositive result, and attaching a sense of power to food that has no business there! And 9 times out of 10 they complain that the Ho-Ho didnt set well in their stomachs because their bodies repel the unhealthy ingredients they dont normally get. What is the lesson learned there? One that I couldnt teach nearly as well with words! They get a stomach ache eating the thing I have said is not good for them, and they learn: EW. It hurts to eat that food. :)

Do I make cookies and baked goods? Yes, rather than store bought - thought I occasionally buy those too - because I can substitute the butter in the cookies for coconut oil, and add in some whole grain flour instead of pure white flour, where cane sugar is replaced with fructose (I have a child who cannot have any cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup so that drives me to find newer, healthier versions of foods), and where I can put in one less egg yolk and one more egg white into the recipe! :) Little adjustments to make it better for them.

So get creative parents! A "sandwich"doesnt have to be on bread - some meat and a low fat mozzerella cheese stick with some organic pretzels is a homemade, healthier version of a "lunchable", without all the processed meat and cheese! Or make an OPEN FACE sandwich with only one piece of bread, meat, and make a face with the tomato for a mouth and a couple raisins (or nuts, or craisins) for the eyes! Or roll up that meat and some mustard and lettuce and pine nuts into a whole grain wrap, cut it in half and hold it together with a colorful toothpick! :) Lets use these quick and easy tools; recipes, baggies, markers, containers, stickers, packed with a lot of love to help our kids "blend in" but in a healthy way! :)

I've posted a couple different versions of my kids' lunches over the past couple days. One a sack lunch, one an at home lunch for my toddlers. HAVE FUN with it - and get CREATIVE! :)