100 Days; 100 Lunches

Today was our elementary school’s 100th day of classes.  The kids had a great day celebrating the number 100, but all I could think is, “Man!  I’ve packed 100 lunches!”  Well, maybe not 100 (half days and such) but pretty darn close!  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.  Ha!  🙂

I snapped a few pics of some of the lunches I’ve put together so far this year.  This is a good thing on a personal level because while I might feel like I pack pb&j every.single.day, these photos are a great reminder that, in fact, I don’t!  Phew!

And speaking of pb&j, let’s start things off with the the sandwich category.  Honestly, there were a lot of them!


Pb&J on whole grain, cottage cheese, nectarines, a banana, and a small piece of a Wonka Bar as a special surprise.

IMG_2951Pb&J on whole grain, peppers & hummus, fruit salad, cottage cheese, & an applesauce packet

Some kind of sandwich on whole grain (don’t recall), string cheese, broccoli, nectarines, and a mini energy bite as a special treat

IMG_3137Pb&J on whole grain, pomegranate seeds, berry mix, broccoli, and an applesauce packet

IMG_3326Some kind of sandwich on whole grain, string cheese, blueberries, tomatoes & carrots with hummus for dipping
IMG_3543Pb&j, applesauce packet, string cheese, carrots & hummus, and white peach (I think) photo-100Some kind of sandwich on whole grain, green beans, string cheese, and strawberries

IMG_3462Pb&J, banana, chunk of mozzarella cheese, a mixture of shredded carrots & hummus, and a small leftover bite of pumpkin bread as a special treat  (The interesting thing about this particular lunch is that my son, who loves to dip carrots into hummus, was horrified at this little shredded carrot/hummus mixture I made for him.  He told me he was embarrassed because it looked weird to his friends.  I’m not sure if someone said something to him about it, maybe even innocently like, “Hey.  What is that?  It looks weird!” kind of a thing or what, but needless to say I haven’t chosen to repeat that side.  I’m trying to keep things healthy, but certainly don’t want to make him feel embarrassed about his lunch.  We’re learning that the lunch room is an interesting place.)


Turkey roll ups, applesauce packet, string cheese, nectarines, carrots & hummus dip


“Pizza dunkers” (mozzarella & sometimes pepperoni rolled into a tortilla – cooked but served cold), pizza sauce for dipping, pineapple, and pears


“Pizza dunkers” (different shape this time, think cheese quesadilla served cold), pizza sauce for dipping, berry mix, and a hard-boiled egg


Pizza dunkers, pizza sauce for dipping, berry mix, and carrots


On this day I had no fresh bread products in the house so I put together some ham rollups, a rice cake, a hard-boiled egg, some kind of white peach/nectarine, carrots, and a hunk of mozzarella cheese


This was another day I didn’t have any decent bread so I went with some Ak-mak crackers (whole grain!), with hummus to spread on top, strawberries, a hunk of cheese, and some carrots


My son’s favorite homemade muffins (whole grain, pumpkin-banana, no sugars – recipe coming soon), an apple, cottage cheese, and a berry/pomegranate mix

IMG_4956This was another day of me trying to get creative without having any fresh bread products around.  I ended up with a berry mix, some cucumbers/carrots & hummus dip, a hard-boiled egg, and some leftover turkey.

photo-101About a month into the school year I got comfortable using my son’s thermos and I have used it almost weekly ever since.  It works well for things like this:  leftover homemade meatballs with whole grain pasta & sauce, a string cheese, and some clementine wedges.


Leftover homemade chicken noodle soup, a banana, some pears, and a little slice of leftover banana bread as a special treat (thanks to my aunt who gave us some!)


Leftover roasted red peppers soup with mascarpone and some Ak-Mak crackers for dipping, blueberries, and clementines


Leftover homemade meatballs with whole grain noodles & sauce, pomegranate seeds, cottage cheese, and either an apple or a nectarine or whatever that is!  😉


Leftover homemade chicken noodle soup, an apple, a chunk of cheese, and some raspberries

That is a pretty good representation of what my son has been eating so far this year!  On the one hand, packing his lunch is boring and I feel like I pack the same thing all the time.  But on the other hand, looking back at these snapshots it helps me to realize that I do give a decent variety so I shouldn’t worry about it so much.

As much as a buzz kill as it is to pack a lunch every day, I will say that it truly makes me feel great knowing he’s eating nutritious lunch and his little brain and body are being refueled healthfully!  I guess it’s one of the many things we moms do for the benefit of our kiddos no matter how tedious and dreadful the chore is!

That said… how many more days left until summer?!?!  😉   HA!

Now it’s your turn:  What is something you use for school lunches that I can incorporate?




Oh, December

December is so magical and yet so stressful, is it not?!

This year we took a family vacation the week of Thanksgiving.  When we arrived home, I immediately felt “behind”.  Normally, we decorate our tree the day after Thanksgiving and that kind of springboards us right into the Christmas season.  So coming home well after Thanksgiving had me feeling off.  Stressed.  Anxious.  Yuck.

So this year I decided to do something to help those anxious feelings.  I sat down and made a list of the things I felt were truly important to me to accomplish during the month of December.  I really thought about which aspects of this season bring me/my husband/my children joy, which traditions are “musts”, and which I can let go of.  I wish I could adequately express here just how much BETTER this exercise made me feel.  The simple act of writing down those priorities for the month (and posting them on my kitchen cabinet!) lifted all of the stress of the season off my shoulders.  It was serious therapy!

Here was my list of “musts” for our family to do TOGETHER this month:

  • Decorate our tree (more about that in another post coming soon!)
  • Attend our town’s Great Tree Lighting
  • Visit with Santa
  • Annual trip to see a spectacular Christmas light show
  • Decorate gingerbread houses (a great tip about that coming AFTER Christmas!)
  • Bake cookies (in some form)

Now obviously there are other things that need to get done this month aside from normal life (mailing Christmas cards, shopping, wrapping gifts, cooking, etc.) but in terms of FAMILY activities, these were the six most important to me.

Will we do other things?  Maybe.  A big, fat MAYBE.  But because I made this list, I don’t feel forced or pressured to say, “yes” to everything.  Will we go see a performance of the Nutcracker?  Maybe.  But probably not because we did that last year and, for me, it’s not something I feel is a yearly kind of tradition.  Will we attend the preschool fundraiser?  Maybe.  But probably not.  We see those folks enough year-round.  Will we go Christmas caroling?  Maybe.  If it fits into our schedule, great.  If not, I refuse to let it stress me out this year if we “miss” it.  Will we donate to this or that or the other thing?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  If it’s in a meaningful way, yes.  If it’s for the bell ringers, no.  Will we help out at church or at the school or here or there?  Maybe.  Or not.  Will we attend that party?  Maybe.  The “no” button is right there next to the “yes” button!  If it works, sure, but I’m not going to force it to work.  Will we…???  Either way, I won’t stress to fit it all in.  Looking at that list of six prioritized things makes me realize it’s ENOUGH.  And I feel SO good now.

So I have two questions for you:

1.  What are your priorities for the Christmas season?

2.  Have you ever made a list like this?  Did it work for you?  If not, how to you keep the stress out of the season?


Wonka Bars

This week I whipped up a batch of something my kids named “Wonka Bars” and I’d like to share the recipe with you!


I began experimenting with making my own “granola bars” last winter.  Some recipes worked.  Some didn’t.  Some we just didn’t like.  Finally I started finding ways to change them around a bit and make them better suited for our family.  During this process I made a batch and added a little topping of chocolate and sea salt, my kids instantly named them “Wonka Bars” (because we’d recently finished reading ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’).  The name stuck.

Before I explain the recipe, let me just give a little justification for the fact that I use chocolate in this recipe.  As you know from reading this blog, Bring Mae Flowers is supposed to be a chronicle of my journey toward making my family healthier.  So why chocolate??  Well… here’s the thing…  Going from unhealthy to healthy is tricky sometimes.  And when it comes to granola bars, THIS is what my kids were used to:


So I felt like I needed them to enjoy the new version of granola bars and in order to do that I wanted to make them look as “friendly” to a child’s eye as the old packaged bars.  Thus the chocolate topping.  As you’ll see in the recipe, it’s not a lot of chocolate so I’m not super worried about it (plus I’ve made them for myself without any chocolate on top and I love them just as much “plain”), but thought it needed a little explanation.

Here’s my version of a granola bar.  First, the ingredients.  (It looks like a lot but now that I’ve made these so many times it doesn’t even phase me because the process is easy.)



  • 2&3/4 cups steal cut oats
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashew pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut shreds
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1.5 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 tablespoons UNsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1&1/3 cups chocolate chips (dark chocolate bits are great too)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sea salt (reserve for topping and sprinkle on as desired)


In large mixing bowl, add all oats, nuts, seeds, and spices.  Mix.  It’ll look a lot like bird seed at first.  Don’t fret!  The end product does not taste like bird food!  Ha!


In pot on stovetop melt butter.  Add honey, vanilla, & salt.  It’ll look almost like a caramel-y sauce.


Pour warm mixture over dry ingredients and mix until well coated.


Cover large pan with a layer of parchment paper and pour mixture on top.  Use a spatula to spread mixture evenly over pan.

Note:  It’s important to have the right size pan for the recipe you use.  These Wonka Bars are a crunchy recipe.  It’s not a “cereal bar”.  It’s a “granola bar”.  (Similar to the Oats-n-Honey granola bars by Nature Valley.)  So my experiments with these recipes made me realize that if my bars were too thin, they fell apart.  If they were too thick, they were hard for the kids to crunch into and therefore the kids were less interested in eating them.  So based on the recipe ingredient amounts listed above, you’ll want a large pan about 18×12.  The exact pan I use is about a half inch smaller than those dimensions.  If you don’t have a pan that large, you’ll need to adjust the recipe accordingly or you will end up with granola bars that are too think and less enjoyable to eat.


Bake at 200 degrees for just over an hour.  (I find an hour 5 or an hour 10 seems about right with my oven and the size of pan I use.)

Remove pan from oven and set out to cool.  Immediately sprinkle on chocolate chips.  Allow a few minutes for them to melt and then spread them around similar to frosting.


Let pan cool at room temperature or, even better, put pan into refrigerator to cool.  Sometimes I even set it in the basement for an hour because it’s the coolest place in my house.  When chocolate is cool but not yet hardened, sprinkle with a coarse sea salt to add to the topping.


The sea salt is key so don’t forget it.  Trust me!

Once completely cooled and the topping is completely hardened, I use two large knives to cut into servings.


Then I make up some easy “to go” baggies and toss them in the fridge.


Sometimes my husband takes them for breakfast.  Sometimes the kids and I grab one as a snack during the day.  Sometimes I even treat myself to one at night after the kids have gone to bed as a “dessert”.


If your family likes granola bars, try this recipe out on them and let me know what they think!


Shaklee Free Membership

For those of you who have contacted me about my Shaklee business or about making an order as a new customer, this post is for you!  (And it’s also for those of you who have thought about making an order even if you haven’t contacted me!)

free membership

For the next week Shaklee is offering FREE memberships.  So if you are new to Shaklee and you’ve been considering placing an order (and becoming a Shaklee member to get the 15% off discount for LIFE) please remember to do so by midnight on July 31st!

You can place your orders by clicking on this link to my Shaklee site.

Shop for whichever items you want to try, when your shopping cart is ready to check out, it will ask you whether you’d like to check out as a guest (and pay full price) or if you’d like to join as a member (which is free until midnight on July 31st and gets you 15% off Shaklee on today’s purchases and all purchases for the rest of your life!).  Pretty easy decision.  😉

Check out the illustration below.  See how the person has a few items in her shopping cart and is ready to check out?  She should NOT check out as a guest… she should instead click where the RED arrows are pointing to “join free”.  It will prompt her to become a Shaklee member and she will start saving money on this very first order!  Yay!


And as always, every product is backed by Shaklee’s money back guarantee so there’s no reason not to try something you’re curious about.

Oh, and someone asked me recently if by becoming a member it meant having to purchase a minimum each month… the answer is NO WAY!!!  Becoming a Shaklee member just means you order whatever you want whenever you feel like it and you get to save money each time you order for the rest of your life.  That’s all!  It’s a good thing… no tricks.

If you want to make positive, healthy changes for your family by using nontoxic household cleaners, the highest quality vitamins, nontoxic beauty products, etc. today is the day to give it a shot!

Click here to start shopping!

With love,




Like a Starburst. Only better.

Just a quick post today to share with you one of my favorite on-the-go snacks.

You may recall my previous post about how my kids seemed drawn to snacks that came in wrappers.  We have been doing SO much better with making better snack choices both at home and on-the-go.  I’m happy to say that once I made these changes part of our routine, it doesn’t seem like such a big inconvenience all the time anymore to opt for something fresh.  (Of course there are still those times when we grab a granola bar or fruit leather as we run out the door, but it’s all about progress for me.  There will never be perfection.)  I try to allow a few minutes in the kitchen before we go somewhere to wash some fruit or put some dip, nuts, or cheese into a little container, etc.  I’ve also recently started an informal “rule” of no more than one wrapper food per day.  So if they choose to eat a cereal bar or something, that’s it for the day.  They don’t get to have a cereal bar AND a fruit leather AND pretzels AND a granola bar AND blah, blah, blah.  Seems to be a good move so far.  We’ll see how well it works during pool season.  😉

Well, today I’m actually going to share with you one of my favorite quick take-along snacks that actually DOES come in a wrapper, but not because it’s a big ol’ bar full of junk, just simply because it needs to wrapped up so it doesn’t stick to everything:


pineapple 3

I’m telling you, of all the dehydrated fruits you can buy, pineapple is by far my favorite.  Pineapple is naturally one of the sweetest fruits at the market, and that sweetness is not lost during the dehydrating process, trust me!

Why do I love dried pineapple so much?  Well, not just for the fact that it is super sweet, but because of its great chewy texture.  I like foods that are super crunchy and/or super chewy.  (For example, I’d choose a dessert that had chocolate bits in it over some super smooth ice cream any day!)

Dried pineapple, to me, is like the healthy equivalent of a yellow Starburst.  It’s sweet, it’s tart, and it’s satisfyingly chewy.

And as if I needed any more reasons to love it besides its flavor, it’s also a great source of fiber, which is very important to me because of my family history.

You can find dried pineapple at just about every grocery store.  Just make SURE that you look at the ingredients label!  All it should say is something like “dried pineapple” and nothing else!

Here’s an example of the back of one package I had and what the label should look like (This one says “organic dried pineapple pieces” as the ingredient.):

pineapple 2

Here’s a photo of my favorite brand:

pineapple 1

I also like one from Trader Joe’s but it isn’t organic.  I still buy it a lot though because my favorite brand is only sold at a store that I just don’t go to that often.  (Note:  Be careful at Trader Joe’s!  They sell plain dried pineapple (yellow bag) and they also sell something called “pineapple chips” – the pineapple chips have LOTS of other junk in there.  Stick with the pure ingredients list… it tastes great and dried pineapple doesn’t need any additives!)

I also always take a look at the label to see how many servings are in the bag.  It’s usually two or three.  I separate out the servings and put them into little ziploc baggies and keep them in our pantry’s “snack bin”.  That way they’re all ready to go when we need something quick to grab and head out the door.  The other reason why I divide up the servings is because the dried pineapple is SO GOOD that if I don’t make them into serving sized portions I will just eat the entire bag.  Trust me – I’ve done it.  Quite a few times!  So portioning it out saves me from “accidentally” eating the entire bag and not leaving any for anyone else in the family!

Here are some already prepped baggies I had in my pantry (This happens to be the Trader Joe’s brand in this particular photo):

pineapple 4

Do you have a favorite dried fruit?  Have you tried dried pineapple?

How To Clean A Dishwasher Without Chemicals

Really this post should be called “How to NOT clean or maintain your dishwasher for six years but then scour off the problem in a matter of minutes”, but that sounds weird and long and complicated so I went with the boring title.

**Warning:  Do not read this post if you are eating.  It will ruin your appetite.**

What do you do with owner’s manuals?  Do you read them?  I don’t.  I mean, I guess I read them if something breaks or isn’t functioning properly, but other than that I don’t even think about them.

I noticed my dishwasher wasn’t getting my dishes as clean as it used to – lots of water spots and I was just generally unhappy with the dishwasher’s performance.  At first I secretly hoped the machine was dying to I would have an excuse to get a quieter machine (mine is SO loud!) but then I thought better of that because I don’t like spending money needlessly.  I hadn’t changed anything else (still using the same detergent, same dishes, etc.) so I figured it had to be the machine.  I did what any reasonable person would do.  I ignored it and hoped it would magically fix itself.  For about three solid weeks.  And finally one morning I was really annoyed by it and decided to try to solve the problem.

I thought, “I’ll bet there is an entire section in the dishwasher manual about maintenance.  But since I never bother to read that stuff I wouldn’t know.”

In looking carefully at the inside of my machine I decided it was kind of “stained” looking.  (From pasta sauce maybe?)

IMG_3253 Other than that I didn’t notice much else until I started taking things apart.  And then the nastiness began…




Double eeeew.  (See all those reddish colored areas?  STAINS!)

I decided this was a job for my favorite all-purpose scrub – Scour Off Heavy Duty Paste.  (It smells so good!  It’s made from ground cherry pits.  Love that I don’t have to inhale nasty chemicals while I clean!)


I wet my washcloth, put a little of the product on there, and started scrubbing.  It worked immediately of course.  I wasn’t surprised by that.  I WAS surprised by just how GROSS my machine was now that I was REALLY getting up close and personal with it.  There was just sort of a thin “film” all over it. Again, I’m guessing that if you do follow the machine’s manual and do some sort of annual maintenance on it, this type of thing doesn’t happen.  But seeing as how this machine is 6 years old and I have never once taken the time to give it any attention, I shouldn’t have been so surprised that it needed some love.

I scrubbed away on it touching as many surfaces as I could reach (and getting into some really interesting body positions while doing so) and within about 5 minutes I had the whole thing scrubbed down.  It didn’t take long at all because Scour Off is so effective, which was good because I was needing to leave the house soon to get my kids off to a lesson!

I finished up, ran a cycle with no dishes in the machine.  When I opened it up I swear it smiled at me.  No really – it DID!!

I found it looking a zillion times better!  Check it out:


(The only spots that were left were true STAINS in the plastic of the machine that are just not ever going to come out.  I was fine with that as long as my dishes were going to get clean.)

IMG_3262 I ran a load of dirty dishes and they came out GREAT!

I was so happy.  As much as I dislike the volume at which my dishwasher operates, I was glad to have it working effectively once again!

So there you have it.  If you are like me and are not good about maintaining your appliances the way the manuals tell you to, don’t despair.  I would just like to encourage you that your dishwasher can be taken care of in about ten minutes (even if it hasn’t been touched it 6 years!) so don’t fret that it will be some sort of all day project.  (Oh, and get yourself some Scour Off.  You’ll be addicted to it the first time you use it!)

For those who already love Scour Off, what is your favorite thing to do with it?

Are you on Pinterest?  Are you on Facebook?  Join me there!

Breakfast Topping

Everyone has heard by now that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  We never skip breakfast at my house… mostly because I pretty much wake up feeling starving so I can’t even imagine not eating shortly after hopping out of bed.  I think my kids must have inherited that gene from me because they ask about breakfast almost immediately as well.  What can I say – I guess we’re a hungry bunch!

I’ve shared about some of our favorite breakfast options before.  Today I want to share a new way I’ve been doing the toppings for our pancakes and waffles.


First of all, let me start by saying that I’m a firm believer in REAL maple syrup.  There is nothing more irritating to me than going out to a restaurant, thinking that I’m going to enjoy taking a break from cooking and having someone else make me some kind of wonderful, warm, breakfast-y creation to eat … only to find when I go to pour the syrup that it’s all thick and gooey – a sure sign that it’s some kind of fake Mrs. Butterworth’s-type of product that isn’t actually maple syrup at all.  I feel so jipped when that happens!  I always think, “Hey!  We are paying for this meal and they can’t even give us REAL syrup!”  It’s so annoying!

So obviously at home I like to have the real thing.  I always buy REAL maple syrup where the ONLY ingredient on the back is “maple syrup”.  I try to buy organic when I can, but depending on what grocery store I’m at that particular day, sometimes I can find it and sometimes not.  But my main focus is that it just be the real deal.  Notice the list of ingredients in the photo below of the back of the bottle:


The big problem with real maple syrup (why I suspect restaurants sometimes offer the imitation) is that is is crazy expensive!  I’m talking like $8 or $9 dollars for this little bottle:


Yikes!  I mean, when you use the real stuff you quickly realize that is SO naturally sweet that you really only need a tablespoon or so to put on top of your breakfast, but still… that all adds up if you multiply it by a family of four and multiple uses per week!  Those little bottles of syrup can disappear pretty quickly around here.  (Plus, I cook a lot with maple syrup, too, so it really goes fast!)

So I started experimenting with other toppings for our pancakes and waffles.  I tried just using berries, and while it tastes just fine, I found that it just doesn’t taste or feel the same to me to have a warm breakfast without that maple flavor.  Must be a weird connection from my childhood or something.  So after some trial and error in the kitchen (okay, okay, LOTS of error – as always with me!) I have a great breakfast topping recipe I’d like to share with you. It’s healthy, simple, and tastes like heaven!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3ish cups of frozen berries (sometimes I use a mixed bag, sometimes just strawberries – it really doesn’t much matter)
  • 3 tbsp of real maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds

Here’s what do do – it’s easy!

Heat up your water in a little pot.

Toss in the frozen berries.  (You certainly could use fresh, but frozen are cheaper and easier because you don’t have to worry about them going bad in a day or two.)


Add the syrup.

Let it heat up and almost boil.  Smash it up and smooth it out with that great Mix ‘n Chop tool I told you about a while back.


When it gets smoothed out (Note: it will never be completely smooth.  If you’d prefer it that way just blend it up!) toss in the chia seeds and mix them around a bit.  Turn off the burner and let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes.


Here’s the thing about chia seeds.  They will not taste like seeds.  You just have to trust me on this one!  They LOOK like poppy seeds.  But when chia seeds are introduced to liquid, they expand and kind of get a gel-like consistency to them.  There is no crunch.  I repeat – there is no crunch!  So don’t worry, your breakfast topping is going to taste all wonderful and warm and sweet and smooth just the way you want it.  It’ll just have the added nutritional benefits of the chia.  Win-win!

I like to add the chia seeds because they are an easy, tasteless way of adding fiber into our meals, and fiber is very important to me.  Plus, they almost turn what would have been kind of a watery textured breakfast topping into one that is a mix of syrup and jelly.  It’s great!

Here’s what it looks like as it cooks down:


And here’s what it looked like one morning last week when I used it to top some pumpkin-banana pancakes I made:


And here’s what one of the kids looks like while being civilized and eating it using table manners.  (This photo was taken about 1 minute before they scarfed down their first pancake, and loved it so much they began licking the remnants of the breakfast topping off their plates as they waited for pancake number two.  I swear I do TRY to teach them to be civilized!  Sigh…)


The breakfast topping stores really well in the fridge.  In fact I actually prefer its texture the next day over when it’s fresh out of the pot.  The chia seeds get even more gel-like overnight and the topping is even more like a jam.


I can’t say how long it’ll last in your fridge because we eat it so fast I’ve never stored it for longer than 48 hours.  I’m guessing after your family eats it you’ll find the same to be the case in your house.

Four simple ingredients, super easy prep, and it is WAY CHEAPER than pouring pure maple syrup on every waffle you make!  Bonus points that the kids love it, it’s pretty and colorful to look at, and it adds a little extra fruit and fiber into the meal.

I’m so happy I experimented with this.  We are saving money, eating something that is healthy, and savoring every bite!

Give it a try!  I’m confident you’ll be glad you did!  And let me know what you and your family thought of it!

If you haven’t already, don’t forget to “like” the Bring Mae Flowers Facebook page so you can be informed of new upcoming blog posts!




The Five Love Languages of Children

Time for another book review!

A couple of years ago I attended a mommy event where the speaker discussed The Five Love Languages of Children – based on the popular book(s) by Chapman & Campbell.  At the time my kids were pretty small, but I was intrigued enough that I asked for a copy of the book for Christmas.  I spent some time thinking about which of the “love languages” I suspected most spoke to each of my children, but it was hard to pinpoint because of their young ages.

book cover

Now that some time has gone by (okay, okay, a LOT of time!  You other mommies out there understand that stack of books on the bed stand, right?  And how you get a few pages in and instantly conk out?  So sue me…)  I revisited the book.  I’m so glad I did – especially now that my kiddos are a little older.  I’ve been thinking about it again.  A LOT.  The book made some points hidden in the details of each love language that really have me doing some thinking about my children and my parenting.  I mean, I always wonder, “Am I doing it right?!?!”, but this book really has me wanting to make sure I do what’s right for each of my kids individually.

The premise is that every personality, young and old, has a primary “love language” (and a secondary one) that is the most powerful to them and making them feel, truly feel, loved.  I would highly recommend this book to any parent, mostly because it’s one of those books that’s an easy read, but VERY hard to explain the short version to someone else.  Know what I mean?  It’s like one of those “you had to be there” inside jokes.

In a very brief doesn’t-do-it-justice nutshell, the five love languages described in this book are:

  • Physical touch (hugs, high fives, snuggles, tickles, sitting in laps reading books, wrestling, holding hands, etc.)
  • Words of affirmation (likes to hear others say that they did a good job, likes compliments, etc.)
  • Quality time (loves to do things together like playing games, watching a movie, working on a project, cooking dinner, going out to eat, etc.)
  • Gifts (truly treasures gifts given to them, loves to earn “prizes”, etc.)
  • Acts of service (like when people do nice things for them such as helping with schoolwork, making their favorite meals, etc.)

I have been analyzing everything about my kids and the interactions we have over the past weeks and I’m really trying to pinpoint what is the most meaningful way of receiving love for each of my children to make sure I’m loving them the way that’s best for them.  I mean, certainly I am loving them up… that’s my favorite thing to do is to love on them, but what if all the loving I *think* I’m doing is actually the “wrong” kind for them?!

Man, parenting is hard stuff!

For my Bubba, so far I’m thinking he’s mostly words of affirmation, with a little physical touch and quality time mixed in there as well.  I think he’s like me with the acts of service… he could take it or leave it.  And while all children like gifts, the book gives some great detailed examples of children who CHERISH their gifts and I don’t see that in my son at all.  He likes what he likes, and the rest gets a big ol’ shoulder shrug.  A child like Bubba would not respond well to a parent who likes to give lots of fun “surprises”, but doesn’t often say words like, “You are so kind and caring to your sister.  I love watching you teach her new games.”.  I need to make sure I’m loving him the way he can best receive it and feel it in his little heart, which is pretty easy for me because I tend toward those first three love languages in the way I naturally “give love” anyway.

For my Birdie girl, it’s a little trickier because she’s only four.  At this point I feel she seems like a mix of quality time, physical touch, and a just little bit of words of affirmation.  I also think she leans more toward acts of service than her brother and me.  Gifts are even less important to her than to her big brother – she just couldn’t care less about a lot of that stuff even if it’s presented to her as a “surprise”.  It’s important that I say, “Yes” when she asks to help me in the kitchen, etc., because that’s just her way of asking for quality time with her momma.

I also think, as the book described, that children ebb and flow through phases with their love languages that are most meaningful to them.  As my kids grow, I plan to reread this book again because I can see how much my perspective has changed from when I first learned about “love languages” to now.  I imagine that in another 2-3 years both Bubba and Birdie will be needing different kinds of love in different ways.

One of the biggest lessons I learned in this book was that whatever a child’s primary love language, punishment in that same love language can be very damaging.  Like – giving the cold shoulder as punishment to a child who craves quality time is not just punishment, but genuinely bad for their little soul.  Or how spanking a child who craves physical touch can really mess them up for the long haul.  While reading one of the specific examples in the book, I felt like someone was knocking me upside the head.  Why?  Well… because… I’m sarcastic.

I’ve always known that sarcasm and kids don’t mix, but I never really thought about what kind of damage I could be doing when I make a sarcastic comment to a child whose primary love language is words of affirmation.  There have been times, in a moment of frustration with something one of my kiddos has done (or not done), when I have said something like, “Way to go” in a VERY sarcastic, rude tone of voice – probably accompanied by a loud sigh.  (The child knows that what a rude comment like that really means is, “You screwed up!”.)  Makes me feel awful.  So awful I could cry.  I hope my child didn’t take that terrible comment to heart.  But what if he did?  Then what have I done?

So this is my pretty public admission that, while I’m sure my sarcastic personality isn’t going away, this book has made me WAY more cognizant about the verbal reactions I have with my kids.  We are pretty lucky in this house that our kids are (so far!  fingers crossed!) well behaved, so we don’t find ourselves constantly having to figure out punishments and consequences and such.  But even beyond actual punishments, it’s the little sarcastic, flippant comment here or there that can be silenced, making sure no little hearts are damaged.  It’s embarrassing, but that was a major lesson for me.  And I got it.  Loud and clear.

I’m going to tuck this book away and read it again in a couple of years when my children are each in a different stage of childhood.  I think each time I read it I’ll learn something new about my children AND myself as a parent.

Have you ever read “The Five Love Languages of Children“?  If so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  What did you like about it?  Did reading the book encourage any changes in your parenting?  I’m curious!  Please tell me I’m not the only one!

How To Mix Natural Nut Butters

A few days ago I wrote about my struggle with the spectrum of peanut butters and how my taste buds just don’t enjoy a one-ingredient peanut butter, no matter how I try.

Today I want to share with you a little trick that makes mixing all those natural butters much easier.  (You know how all the natural nut butters have the layer of oil on top that has to be mixed in?  It’s always so tricky to do!  So messy.  So frustrating.  Anyone else think so?)

This little trick is very simple.  Get out your handheld mixer, put in ONLY ONE of the mixing attachments, and very, very slowly insert it into the jar of peanut butter.  Give it a gentle stir with just your hand for a few moments.


Then turn the power on the lowest setting.  Let the mixer do all the work for you!


It’s so easy!


There you have it!  A quick way to stir your natural nut butters into perfectly smooth yumminess!

Don’t forget to “like” the Bring Mae Flowers Facebook page so you’ll be sure to see notices of future posts!

Also, if you enjoy clever little tricks like this one, check out my board on Pinterest that I so un-cleverly titled, “Clever”.  I love knowing handy little tricks for everyday things and my “Clever” Pinterest board has some really good ones!  (My favorite little tip on my clever board is the tin foil one… go check it out!  I probably use that trick at least once a week in my kitchen now!)

See you next time!

I love peanut butter

I mentioned a while back about how last year I made the switch to whole grain breads, whole grain flours, etc. and in that post I talked about how I still struggle with making the “right” choice when it comes to my beloved peanut butter.  It’s hard, but here’s how I straddle the line:

First of all, let me just say that I love peanut butter.  Love.  My favorite is warm peanut butter.  Mmmmm…  It may as well be dessert!  Lately I have been on a kick of using peanut butter in my afternoon snack:  a slice of toasted whole grain bread with a tablespoon of warm peanut butter and half of a banana sliced up on top.  It’s the best!

I struggle with peanut butter though.  I grew up with versions of peanut butter that had various questionable ingredients – forms of high fructose corn syrup, etc.  These days I know better than that, BUT, I have not yet been able to go with what the purists think peanut butter should be, which is ONLY peanuts.  I struggle with it because, frankly, I just don’t like the flavor of plain peanuts, therefore it makes perfect sense that I wouldn’t like the flavor of plain peanuts that have been smushed up either.  Currently, I’m a JIF Natural girl.  That brand is certainly not perfect.  Though it’s mostly peanuts and salt, it does have, for example, a little molasses in it, which the purists would say is a big time no-no.  I’ve tried the middle ground options that are peanuts and salt.  Still not a big fan.  I’ve tried other alternatives like almond butter, etc. and it just cannot replace my beloved peanut butter.  Below is a sampling of all the nut butters I had in my pantry today:

(Almond butter with sea salt, Jif Natural, an organic version that’s just peanuts and salt, and a version that’s peanuts-only.)


Why so many?  Well, let me tell you.  I have come up with a solution to my own personal peanut butter dilemma… the one where I know what I shouldn’t be eating, I know what I should be eating, and I am stuck (pun intended) in the middle with Mr. Jif.

Here’s what I do.  If I’m going to be eating peanut butter in such a way where there aren’t many other ingredients to the snack/meal (for example, if I’m going to warm it up and eat it with some sliced apples or something) I choose the one that my taste buds prefer – in my case it’s Jif Natural because it tastes like “old school” peanut butter but doesn’t have quite as many “bad” ingredients.  If I’m going to be using the peanut butter in some other kind of way like putting a dollop into the blender to make a smoothie, using it to make my husband’s energy bites for his quick breakfasts on the train, or if (in a dream world) I was going to make something like peanut butter cookies, I would use “real” peanut butter – the stuff where the ingredients are pure peanuts.  You see?

So that’s my middle ground.  Use the imperfect stuff when flavor matters most.  Use the purest options when the plain peanut flavor will be masked by other flavor combinations.

It’s not a perfect solution, but for now, it’s me moving my family in the right direction.

What do you think?  Do you use different brands for different purposes?  I’d love to hear your ideas on this!

Be sure to “like” the Bring Mae Flowers page on Facebook so you’ll see updates on future posts.  If you use natural peanut butters, you’ll definitely not want to miss my next post about a cool way I mix my natural peanut butter.  (Hint:  It does not involve a traditional spoon.)