Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Full Tummies Tuesday - Easter Bird's Nest Treats

Welcome to Full Tummies Tuesday, Easter edition!

It's almost that time of year again when we celebrate our Lord's resurrection! And of course, the time of year for chocolate bunnies, chocolate eggs... pretty much chocolate anything. So all in all it's a pretty awesome holiday!

Today we're sharing with you an easy and fun Easter snack to make with kids! We hope you can get the chance to try them at home and tell us how it went!


  • 1 pkg chocolate chips
  • 6 C of cereal flakes (corn flakes, bran flakes, etc)
  • Mini Egg candies (candy coated chocolates, jelly beans, chocolate malts, etc)

  1. Pour the chocolate chips into the bowl and heat in increments of 30 seconds. I did the 30 seconds three times and it was perfectly melted and easy to stir.
  2. Pour in half of the cereal and stir until well coated. Pour in the rest and continue to stir until well coated.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the muffin tins. You can make them as big or small as you'd like.
  4. Put the candy eggs on top of the nest, but beware! Some of those candy eggs are sneaky and end up in your mouth!
  5. Put the muffin tin in the fridge for at least an hour to chill. No need to cover. They are ready when the chocolate has hardened and the best holds its shape.
  6. Now you can lick the bowl and spoon! Or if you're really nice, you can let your kiddos handle that part!


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Full Tummies Tuesday - Easy Beef Lo Mein: Takeout From Home!

We really love ordering Chinese food. However, Chinese takeout can end up being super expensive. Especially if you are like us and you like to have a little bit of everything to choose from!

We don't eat out a lot, but we are realizing that when we do it ends up being really expensive. So because Trader Joe's has a pretty awesome selection of reasonably priced frozen options, we decided it's time to start having "take-out" night become "make-at-home" night. The only thing is, Beef Lo Mein is probably our favorite take-out dish, and it very simply MUST be fresh. SO I've combined a few of my favorite recipes and created what we think is the perfect (and easy!) Beef Lo Mein! 

We prefer the lo mein noodles because it makes the dish taste more "authentic" but spaghetti noodles do work just fine. Just be sure not to over cook them! Otherwise your whole dish will be kind of, smooshy. 

Add the sesame oil to the cooked and drained noodles, toss to cover all the noodles in oil and set them aside. Bring the water to a boil and dissolve in the beef bullion, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Stir well, and set aside. For my recipe, I use a combination of two 12 oz bags of frozen vegetables. I thaw them out in the microwave a bit and set them aside. If you are using fresh vegetables for this recipe, you will need to fry or cook them ahead of time. Then, brown the beef in a skillet, and cut into small slices if you haven't done so already. I throw in my onions and garlic about half way through cooking the beef. This adds flavor to the beef and also makes sure that your onions are nice and cooked up. When the beef and onions are done cooking, add the soy sauce mixture and cook together for a few minutes. Combine the noodles, vegetables, beef and onion mixture into one pan.

Cover and cook together on low heat until the vegetables are cooked through. About 5 minutes or so! Voila! Take-out at home! :)

Full recipe below!

Takeout From Home!

  • 8 ounces lo mein noodles or spaghetti
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons beef bouillon
  • 3-4 tablespoons of soy sauce depending on your taste
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 lb beef or steak cut into thin slices
  • 2 12 oz bags of frozen mixed vegetables of your choice (asian blend, carrots, broccoli, peppers, sugar snap peas, etc.)
  • 1 onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic

  1. Cook the noodles as instructed. We prefer the lo mein noodles because it makes the dish taste more "authentic" but spaghetti noodles do work just fine. Just be sure not to over-cook them!
  2. Add the sesame oil to the spaghetti, stir, and set aside.
  3. Add the beef bullion, brown sugar, and soy sauce to ½ C boiling water, stir to dissolve, and set aside.
  4. Brown the beef in a skillet, and cut into small slices if you haven't done so already. I throw in my onions and garlic about half way through here and start cooking the onions with the beef. Once cooked, add the soy sauce mixture and cook together for a few minutes.
  5. Combine the noodles, vegetables, beef and onion mixture into one pan. Cover and cook together on low heat until the vegetables are cooked through.


Monday, 7 March 2016

Why I Don't Ask My Children to Obey

We all have different goals for our children. A different vision for who we hope they will become. I believe,  however,  we can all agree on one thing: we all want our kids to listen to us. Sometimes we absolutely need them to listen to us. Quickly and without question. Usually this is for their safety or well-being. However, instant obedience is not the goal of positive parenting. In fact, many positive  parenting advocates will tell you that they don't even WANT their children to instantly obey them without question.

The reason for this idea is the fact that peaceful parenting takes a long-term view of parenting, versus an immediate response based view. Instant obedience sounds great, for children. However, do we really want to raise instantly obedient adults? Some would say no, absolutely not. In fact, if you think about it, once you give up on this idea of "obedience", disobedience is no longer an issue because obedience is never the goal. Connection, teaching, coaching, encouraging - those are the goals.

At the end of the day, obedience is simply about control. Requiring your child to instantly obey your commands is akin to controlling them. As a society, we are obsessed with being in control. As parents we need to step back and ask ourselves: do we really want to control our children, or do we want them to learn how to control themselves?

The answer should obviously be the latter.

L.R. Knost says in her book Jesus the Gentle Parent:

"Consider, though, that Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit.” (Matthew 7:16) referring to how we will recognize his children. And what is the fruit of the Spirit? Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control. What’s missing? Nothing. God’s Word is perfect. And yet obedience is not included as a fruit of the Spirit. It is not mentioned as a measure of love for God or evidence of a relationship with God. That certainly doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want us to listen to his wise counsel and remain within the safe boundaries he’s shared with us. What it does mean is that it’s a heart issue, not an obedience issue, and he wants our trust and thoughtful, considered cooperation, not our fear-driven, mindless obedience."

This means, we follow (or "obey") God because we love Him with our whole hearts, not because we have to, because we fear the consequences if we don't, or because "He said so". God wants us to seek Him with our whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). In fact, outward obedience that lacks heart is not enough  (Matthew 23:23–28). In this same sense, teaching our children to be obedient doesn't help them learn the true fruit of the spirit. 

Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Gentleness. Faithfulness. Self-control.

How do we teach these attributes to our children? The answer is by first learning to be these things ourselves. Parenting is so much more about growing ourselves than it is about growing our kids. Children are going to learn far more easily by our example than they ever would being told what is right, wrong, or otherwise. Jesus said, "you will know them by their fruit" (Matthew 7:16–20). As parents, we must SHOW our children who to be, we can't just TELL them. We must live the fruit of the spirit if we wish to teach it.

The truth is, we are all working towards these attributes. Some come more easily than others. We are all learning, growing, maturing, changing. Adults and children alike. Change takes time, and true change happens in the heart. True change requires admitting that old "tools" are not working. True change means taking the time to learn new "tools". True change means admitting we need help. So lean on God, fellow "gentle parents", and don't be afraid to add a new "tool" to your parenting "toolbox".

Friday, 4 March 2016

Finding the Good in Being Stuck

Being "stuck" isn't always a good feeling. It means we don't know what to do, what step to take next, what direction to go. It's frustrating. But there is something good in being stuck. It causes us to pause, think, ask for help, and redirect.

As I was praying the other day I was telling God that I was stuck in a particular issue with my 5 year old daughter. "God, we just keep going in circles! We've been over this a thousand times and yet it continues to happen! I'm so frustrated and I really don't know what to do anymore. Why won't she just listen!"

It was in that very moment that I heard God say to me "Honey, I ask myself that every day!" Ok, ok, He didn't use that lingo exactly, but He did remind me how often I "just won't listen". How often I do my own thing and go my own way even though I know better. Mmmmmmm, good old humble pie. I chewed on that for a few minutes and quickly came back with, "yes, God, I get it. I really do. I seriously need to work on that....But that still doesn't solve my problem." (Wow. I clearly didn't have enough of that humble pie.) 

I wanted the solution NOW. I mean, don't we want everything NOW? When we're stuck it's uncomfortable and we want a quick fix. Everything is a level 10 emergency. When our cars break down we want them fixed right away. When the dishwasher won't work we need a plumber STAT! When the hair dryer blows up we need a new one ASAP! If our phones... Oh man, I can't even go there. We can live a few days without a car but there is no possible way to live without our phones for one second! Am I right? My point is, naturally, when our children aren't cooperating we think there's something wrong with them and we feel like we need to fix them NOW.

The truth is they don't need us to fix them they need us to help them. They need us to stop looking at the external and look deeper. Sometimes we get so focused on WHAT our children are doing we forget to look at the WHY.

Upon further consumption of that delicious humble pie, I realized that this is the reason I was stuck. I was looking at her behavior instead of her heart. I was missing the most important piece of the puzzle. I was trying so hard to fix instead of help. Correct instead of connect. And that simply doesn't work. Have you noticed that God doesn't try to fix us? He is forever molding and shaping us, gently, with compassion and understanding. He's there for us and ready to help us, walk with us, and guide us when we need Him. This was my "Aha!" moment.

While being stuck was frustrating, I'm thankful for what it taught me. What I desire most of all is a relationship with my child that goes deeper than trying to control what she does or doesn't do on the surface. I want to guide her and help her overcome obstacles, walk with her through difficulties, be there for her when she's struggling, and offer grace to her a million times over, like Jesus has done for us, because none of us are perfect. We all make mistakes and our children are no exception.

If you find yourself stuck in a parenting rut, as frustrating as it may seem, remember it's not such a bad place to be. Reach out, reflect, and redirect. Look beneath the WHAT and search out the WHY.

Oh!  And if it's been a while since you've had a piece of humble pie, I've got plenty in the freezer to share! :)


Michelle Clevenger

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Full Tummies Tuesday - Westman Favourite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Welcome to our first edition of Full Tummies Tuesday! Each Tuesday we will be sharing some of our favourite family recipes, so be sure to check back next week for another great recipe! First up is a recipe from Rebecca. Her family's absolute favourite cookie recipe. What a great way to kick off Full Tummies Tuesday! Let us know if you make them and what you think! Enjoy!

Hi everyone! Rebecca here for Full Tummies Tuesday! This recipe is hands down our family's favourite cookie recipe of all time. We have tried several oatmeal cookie recipes, and none even come close to matching this one. In fact, I've honestly not had any cookie that can beat these! They are the thickest and chewiest golden cookies, not too sweet, and loaded with chocolate chips (of course, you can leave them out or substitute them with raisins if you like that sort of thing...). 

Our recipe has been formed by combining a few good recipes (originally based off of the standard Quaker oats recipe), tweaked and perfected into what we are calling our Westman Favourite Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Let me know how they turn out for you! Hope they help kick of a great start to a new week!


  • ½ C butter, softened
  • ⅔ C brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¾ C all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ½ C rolled oats
  • 1 bag chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and prepare a cookie sheet by lining with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg & vanilla until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon & salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Add the oats and chocolate chips.
  4. Allow the dough to chill in the fridge for a short while. Make some small balls of dough and place on a lined cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. Do NOT press the dough flat!
  5. Bake 10-12 minutes (I only do 10 minutes in my oven), taking them out when golden at the edges and still a little undercooked-looking on top.

♥ Most cookie recipes advise you to let the cookies cool for a few minutes on the hot cookie sheet before transferring, but I recommend carefully transferring the cookies while still hot onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper or a rack to cool. This keeps the bottoms perfectly golden!
♥ Call me a perfectionist, but I always place some chocolate chips on the tops of each ball of dough. They look magazine-worthy every time!
♥ The key to getting the most thickness and chewiness out of your cookies is the chilling time. If I'm in a rush, I'll make my first batch straight away and throw the remaining dough that is sitting in my mixing bowl into the freezer while the first batch is baking.
♥ One of my favourite tips when making cookies is to make up a bunch of dough balls and freeze them in a large Ziploc bag. Then when you have company over, you can bake them right from frozen in a jiffy! Just add a little extra baking time, or let them defrost a bit on the cookie sheet first.
♥ These taste great with either semi-sweet chocolate chips (as seen in the pictures above), semi-sweet chocolate chunks (best for amazing gooey chocolatey heaven cookies), and milk chocolate chips. All delicious... I'm really not sure what my favourite choice would be!


What is the Gentle Parenting "toolkit"?

The "toolkit" approach to a peaceful, non-punitive parenting style is very important to our community. Peaceful or gentle parenting is just a name, a label, a word that encompasses the strategy as a whole. It is not something you ARE or something you can BE. I want to be a more "gentle parent", I choose non-punitive discipline, I do not hit my child, I choose to give respect before I expect it. These are tools in my personal parenting toolbox. I'm not always 100% peaceful and gentle, though I always strive to be. 

This blog and community is a place to support each other by sharing gentle, peaceful, non-punitive "tools" to replace less "gentle" tools. The goal is to replace punitive tools with more effective and respectful ones that work for our own individual families. Using one tool and not another does not mean YOU as a parent are "not gentle" or "more gentle" than another. It's not a club you get to be in only if you follow all the rules and do everything the books say. We are here to provide strategies for each other and give support to help utilize tools that are a part of the "gentle parenting" toolbox. 

Maybe you believe that your "job" requires a hammer to complete - no one expects you to use a screwdriver. However, let's say someone else here had the same "job" and found that the screwdriver was far more effective long-term, and didn't result in a giant hole in the wall that needed fixing. It's expected that this person will speak up and tell you about their experience with the screwdriver. You're not expected to agree with them, and maybe ultimately you still choose the hammer for your toolkit. It doesn't mean you're banned forever from using said toolbox ever again. Or maybe next time you decide to try the screwdriver instead. 

My crazy metaphorical point here is that no one is either a "gentle parent" or not a "gentle parent". You don't have to be 100% anything. You are simply a parent here looking for tools to put in your own personal toolbox. Here, you will find support for "gentle" tools. Less gentle tools can be found elsewhere. That's not to say that just because you choose less gentle tools for your own toolbox means you don't get to be a part of this community and continue to discuss gentle and non-punitive tools. To think that you are either a "gentle parent" or you are not is completely backwards. We are all on a journey towards better parenting. 

Look at it from a new perspective: there are gentle parenting tools here for you to utilize and build your OWN toolbox with. Take what works for you, leave the rest, and just strive to be the best parent YOU can be. When you know better, you do better.

Read more about the "gentle parenting toolbox:

Dulce de leche: Our Toolbox

Little Hearts/Gentle Parenting Resources: Practical, Gentle, Effective Discipline

Nurshable: Gentle Parenting Toolkits