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Friday, October 26, 2018

Crockpot Chicken Tacos Freezer Meal

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast, fat trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder 
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken broth

1. Label bag with name and instructions 
2. Add chicken, spices, and broth to bag. Get as much air out as possible, seal bag.

To Prepare:
1. Thaw in fridge overnight, in a bowl prevent leakage.
2.  Crockpot on low 6 to 8 hours. Make sure chicken is completely covered in broth. Add more broth if you need to. It will seem like a lot of liquid, but it's the key to the moist taco meat. 
3. Chicken is ready when you can shred with a fork. Chicken will absorb the remaining liquid once shredded.
4. Serve in burritos, over rice, on salad, or in quesadillas.

Lessons Learned Living with Food Restrictions

This is not a post that I was really excited about sharing, but it just kept writing itself. I would write lessons here and there, but have delayed publishing for months. It's not fun being a poster girl for any type of medical issue, and I really don't want to be spokesperson for food restrictions, but this journey has chosen me.

Lets first establish what food restrictions are, they are not food sensitivities.

A food sensitivity is frustrating and inconvenient when you eat that food because you have mild adverse reaction, such as a stomach ache or a headache that lasts maybe an hour or two. Too much dairy gives you somewhat uncomfortable gas? You have a food sensitivity, not a restriction.

Food restrictions are real and consequences of eating restricted foods are serious and long lasting.

Some of the many legitimate reasons people have food restrictions:
  • Thyroid and other Autoimmune diseases 
  • Diabetes 
  • Celiac Diseases 
  •  Crohn's disease 
  •  Chronic inflammation 
  •  Chronic migraines
  •  Chronic gastrointestinal pain 
  •  Many, many more. All valid.

It's tough, and it's been a long process, but I've learned several lessons. My hope is if you've been diagnosed with a food allergy or food restrictions, or someone you love has, that these lessons will help you also.

1.  Acknowledge the Grief Process
Be prepared for a grieving process, and allow yourself to feel the emotions of grief, to move on in a healthy way. No one warned me about this, and it was essential to surviving this process in an emotionally healthy way.

Feeling and naming grief is part of a healthy process, and brings us healing when we are brave enough to face it.

Having food restrictions isn't just about not being able to eat a certain food, you lose a lot of experiences with other people. You lose an emotional outlet, because let's face it, a lot of us are emotional eaters. 

We actually suffered a terrible family loss a few months after I began this food allergy journey.  People brought so much food, and I couldn't eat any of it. I couldn't numb my emotions with food, and at times I felt jealous of my loved ones who could.

Just as in any healing process, allow yourself to feel the loss that accompanies food allergies.  There are many things you lose. I lost not being able to eat at restaurants with my family.  I lost being able to accept the kindness of others who brought food. I lost the ability to eat food I didn't make. 

Denying these emotional toll of food restrictions will keep you from dealing with those feelings in a healthy way.

2. Focus on what you CAN eat
Just like any grief process, focusing on what you still have is part of the healing process.

There will fun new foods you get to discover. Before my food allergies, I had never eaten guacamole, because green food looked weird. After being restricted from cheese, I wanted something creamy for my tacos, and I discovered the absolute beauty of guac. 

When I couldn't find a suitable ranch dip for my veggies, I tried hummus for the first time, and the creaminess was delicious and so much healthier for me. I now eat more middle eastern food, which I never ate before. 

There are SO MANY foods in this world, restrictions can open your eyes to ones you hadn't considered before.

3. Finding Alternatives help fill the gap
There is an alternative for almost any food. 

Finding alternatives sometimes does mean more cooking  from scratch. I think our overhaul health has improved, and my budget is much healthier because I can't buy processed food.

I have also learned to bake during this time because it is impossible to find food I can eat in bakeries, which my waistline doesn't thank me for, but my kids and husband LOVE how much baking I do now.

Sometimes finding all the alternatives you can eat means more shopping around. I used to 100% shop at Aldi, but now I get my granola bars and brownies from Kroger, my dairy free cream cheese from Meijer, and my Egg Free Mayo from Fresh Thyme or Whole Foods. 

It sounds like a little extra work, but we are living in the golden age of food alternatives. 

Find a friend with your allergy and ask them where they get their alternatives.  

4. Always be prepared 
Every purse and bag that I own has a granola bar or a snack in it at all times. Once I use that snack I replace it as soon as I get home.

When I'm going somewhere over mealtimes I pack a lunch.

When I attend a potluck, I always make an entree and a dessert so that I know I'll get both.

This avoids me getting hangry (hangry=hungry+angry) and disappointed when I go somewhere and there isn't food available for me. Sometimes you're pleasantly surprised, but it's better to be over  prepared than to have nothing to eat.

5.  Sometimes people will be awkward.
Again, I really do not want to be the food allergy poster girl. It can be very embarrassing.  It is not a club that I wanted to join. I don't want to be the person that everyone tiptoes around and apologizes for because they're eating foods I cannot eat.  

I've  had to walk an interesting line of REALLY not wanting to not have to tell every person I meet about my food allergies, but also being honest about why I have to bring my own food everywhere, or why I can't go to a restaurant. 

 My sons are very empathetic and concerned for me, and for a while anywhere we went they would tell people about all the foods that I could not eat. I had to tell them that it's embarrassing for them to point out every food on the table that I can't eat. 

A person with food allergies does not need you to point out to them the food that they cannot eat, they already know. If you know someone with food allergies, let them be in charge of their food.  You think you're being helpful, but pointing out and asking about all the things that can not eat at a meal is quite embarrassing. 

I was in a situation where everyone got free ice cream  for helping a mutual friend move. I tried to discreetly just say no thank you, and they asked multiple times and teased me saying that I was on a diet. I then had to divulge that I couldn't eat dairy. It was embarrassing for both of us. 

Hosts are going to feel bad when they make food that you can not eat. I'm part of a weekly small group at our church where we have a potluck each time we meet, and I can't eat 99% of the food brought by other people. At first that was a really emotionally hard for me, but I can also tell that it was all very hard for all the people who wanted to love on me by sharing food together. Again, this is part of the grieving process.

6.  Sometimes people will be great.
My allergies are not straightforward, I wish that it was something as simple as avoiding gluten or dairy, but I'm allergic to half a dozen foods that are in a lot of everyday common foods, like potatoes and yeast.  

I have a few friends who have walked on this hard journey with me who have made it easier. They go to the restaurants they know that I can eat at.  They text me recipes they are making, and keep ALL the cans and boxes so that I can read the ingredients before I eat anything, because that's my life.  I NEVER expect anyone to do this, EVER, but it is a pleasant surprise when it happens. 

7. Sometimes people will be ignorant. 
Some people will treat you as if you're on a diet, that you somehow are choosing your own restrictions.

This mentality seems to stem from the fad of those who very loudly, and sometimes obnoxiously, abstain from food sensitivities as if it was a critical food restriction. Sadly this approach has unintentionally taught the public that there is some type of  choice in food restrictions. 

I have had more than half a dozen people respond to my reluctant admission of food allergies with:

"I would rather die than not being eat __insert food here__!"

In case you didn't know already, this is an inappropriate response.  If I told someone I lost my foot, no one would dream of saying to my face that they'd rather kill themselves than live without a foot.

My life is very full, and food restrictions are not a fate worse than death. These comments are completely based out of ignorance. There will be times when you can gently educate, and there will be times you need to ignore the ignorant.

6. You are so much stronger than you think.
I have struggled with self control in regards to food my whole life. My emotional eating was a deep stronghold, and even experiencing disordered eating of bulimia in High School. 

Though food restrictions I found I had self control I never thought possible. It wasn't easy, but I'm able to not only say no, but not feel completely empty when I have to say no. 

 I credit this with allowing myself to really work through the grief process. I literally wept over losing macaroni and cheese from life, and have for the most part moved on (grief is still grief and sometimes it still hurts).

If you had told me 2 years ago I could take my kids into Krispy Kreme and get them a donut, and be at peace not getting one for myself, I would never have believed you. But there is amazing growth and self-control that can come out of this process if you allow it.

7.  It will eventually be worth it
It will be worth it. You can eventually get to a point where you will not feel sad all the time about not eating the food that everybody else is eating, because you just feel so much better.

You'll get to the point where that food is just not worth it. It's not worth the pain, it's not worth of discomfort, it's just not worth it. There's so many more important wonderful things in life other than food. 

I hope this has been helpful. Please share with my about your journey with food restrictions.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Free Homeschooling Resources

All you need to homeschool is a library card...and maybe an Internet connection. Homeschooling can be as expensive as your want it to be, but also can be as cheap as you need it to be.  We are one income household, and free homeschool resources have saved us thousands of dollars each year.  They make the cost of our Internet connection well worth it.

There are so many amazing free resources online for the homeschoolers of today!


  • Passwords on EVERYTHING. Our computer, along with all Internet-capable devices, is password protected, and can only be used while me or my husband is in the house AND have given permission. Use a strong password your kids would never guess. 
  • Safe Search  Filters. Make sure all your search engines are changed to safe search filter, especially your phone.This is good protection for your own heart, as well as your children. You can find these by going into Google Settings. 
  • Use Parental Controls!!!  Pretty much all computers are enabled with some type of FREE parental control. We have the cheapest $50 Kindle Fires for our kids, which have WONDERFUL parent controls in Kindle Free Time. Side note: DO NOT buy the Kid's Kindle!!!  Buy a regular Kindle Fire and use the FREE parental controls in Kindle Free Time (no need to subscribe to anything even thought Kindle wants you too)
  • The only 100% reliable Parental Control is Parental Presence.  You are not more tech savvy than your children.  There is pure evil in this world.  No one is above temptation, even your good kids. 


  • Story Online- Free Stories read to your child. Reading aloud to children has been shown to improve reading, writing and communication skills, logical thinking and concentration, and general academic aptitude, as well as inspire a lifelong love of reading. 
  • Squiggle Park- Very Fun Learning Games designed to help children gain reading comprehension and skills.

  • History for Kids- Very Fun Learning Games designed to help children gain reading comprehension and skills.

  • Khan AcademyMath, Science, Computer Programming, Arts & Humanities, Economics, and TEST PREP
  • Xtra Math-  Free Web Programs for students, parents, and teachers

  • Club SciKidz Every day on their blog, Club SciKidz will post a different simple science experiment for kids and parents to do at home. The first, for example, uses the scientific method to determine what household ingredient works the best to clean a dirty penny.
  • Mark Rober- Science YouTube Channel. Geared towards middle school and high school

  • Scholastic Learn at Home-With the new Scholastic Learn at Home, every day Scholastic's website will offer a new mini-lesson that includes a story, a video, and an activity. The lessons are grouped into four age groups: pre-k and kindergarten, Grades 1 and 2, Grades 3 to 5, and Grades 6+.
  • Khan Academy- Math, Science, Computer Programming, Arts & Humanities, Economics, and TEST PREP


  • Typing skills, drills, and games.  This a GREAT site for any age or grade who wants to learn to type, or improve their skills.
  • Free Online Coding with Scratch- With a little research, we found Scratch is perfect and easy way to begin coding with elementary aged children.
  • Free Online Coding with Hour of Code-  Hour of Code works for all ages, pre-readers to Grades 9+!  It has a plethora of teacher resources, plenty of tutorials, and activities for every interest.
  • CODE ACADEMY- This site is free, but will also require a separate email for each child. This is for older children, late junior high or senior high.

  • Hoffman Academy Free piano lessons.  even if you don't plan on your child becoming a great pianist, the music lessons in this are wonderful!  We did end up buying the least expensive keyboard we could find, and it has been well worth the investment!
  • BBC Music online resources- Great videos and online courses for a variety of musical skills, include a step by step guide in learning to sing.
  • Art for Kids on You Tube- This is great channel made by a family of artists. Please always use parental discretion when allowing your children on YOU TUBE.  Always always watch the video before showing your child!

  • PreK to 5th grade.  Note that my kids play all different grades and ages, because we use a mastery approach for Math, so some of the grade assignment don't always match up to their skills level.  Don't let this get in your way.  Have your kids start in the youngest grades to gain confidence, them move onto other grades as they master.  

  • Teachers Pay Teachers- Not ALL free, but a great resource nonetheless.  You can buy entire book studies and plethora of other of materials, all while supporting really great teachers. 

  • MFW Facebook Groups-   I can not say enough about how helpful these groups are! There is a main group, then other offshoots for each specific year. Join and use the  FILES SECTIONS, and save hours of time in prep!!!!
  • Mamma Jenn-  This MFW Homeschooling mom of twins is a kindred spirit!  She has a ton of FREE printable  for every year in MFW.
  • Leading Them To The Rock- I share how I organize my day with workboxes, and several free curriculum lists, which can be found on my My Father's Tab of this site.