Bacon & Chicken Brussel Sprouts (gluten free)

Food preparation is one of my passions. I love working with individual ingredients and turning out a dish that nourish people in body, mind and spirit. Friends and family gathered around the table chatting while they eat is magic to my soul.

This is a skill that I am continually working on improving. It is also one that I understand many people have difficulty with or find intimidating. Cooking doesn’t have to be this way. Start small and simple. In an effort to encourage love of cooking and exploration I am going to be sharing recipes and reinvention of leftovers that happen amidst the chaos of a family of five.

Today, was filled with appointments that took most of the morning. By the time I was able to come home and settle down my family had eaten and settled into their own activities. I was starving and needed to put something together that was quick. Fighting the urge to dive into a bag of chips I looked into the fridge and explored … oldest vegetable: Brussel sprouts, open meats: bacon, prepared meats: chicken add in the fact I keep onions and garlic on hand a quick and easy dish came to mind: Brussel sprouts with Onion, Garlic, bacon, chicken and seasonings.

I have stainless steel pans and a glass top electric stove; with the heat on medium (approx mark 4) I warmed some olive oil as I diced one small onion.

After that, I took two slices of bacon and chopped that into bite sized pieces that were then separated and placed in the pan with the onion. Cook thoroughly stirring often.

The Brussel sprouts need the ends chopped off then cut in half. After that they may be cut into coin sized slices. When the bacon is mostly cooked through add the Brussel sprouts and garlic to taste.

Dice 1-2 ounces of pre-cooked chicken and add to the pan. Stir and continue to cook bacon until desired crispness. The Brussel sprouts should be a lovely green.

Season everything with salt and pepper. Serve Hot.

Ingredients:

One small onion

bacon, two slices chopped

Brussel Sprouts approx 12

garlic, minced 1-2 tsp

chicken 1-2 ounces pre-cooked

salt and pepper

Happy Cooking!

WaterLily Nature and Nurture Homeschool and Sassy Viking Mama

Nurture with Nature

Nature is wonderful and amazing. Aside from providing us with the resources that we need to live being in nature is wonderful for our mind, body and spirit. Being in nature is one of the best ways to soothe anxiety and depression.

My children and I have had a lot of conversation about what is going on in the world and the anxiety that is causing each of us. Open communication is what we are promoting in our household during this time of mental and emotional stress. We are also devising ways to bring our stress and anxiety under control during this time.

Children are immensely curious about the world around them. If my children were able to we would travel the world just to look at animals, oceans and mountains. However, I do not have the budget to do so.

Thankfully, there are many resources available to us via technology. One of the resources is: Explore.org has live cameras of nature, animals, puppies and kittens. My children and I made a list of animal questions to explore They also have another section of films that I have not yet explored. From their website: “explore features a wide range of topics—from animal rights, health and human services, and poverty to the environment, education, and spirituality. Delivered in short, digestible bites, explore films appeal to view”

My three year old spent almost an hour exploring animals and various locations. We chatted about these animals and places. Also, take notes of what interests the kids and yourself. It is a basis of conversation and further exploration.

Seeing the beauty and majesty of the animals, listening to the sounds of nature was a decompression that we needed. It reminded us that there is still a wide world out there beyond our immediate concerns. A world that will be there after we pass through the trials we currently face.

Breathe. Focus on the moment. Be mindful that life is more than this moment. We will take the moments that create our life one at a time. Breathe in the hear and now.

Water Lily Nurture and Nature Homeschool by Sassy Viking Mama

Homeschool Survival

Step one: Don’t Panic

Step two: Do you know where your towel is? If not, may I recommend reading Douglas Adam’s HitchHiker’s Guide to the Universe?

Step three: The only answer that matters is 42

For those individuals hit by the homeschool panic, I thought I would share some resources, ideas and sanity savers. Homeschooling sounds very intimidating and many people cannot picture what it realistically looks like due to going to a brick and mortar school.

The biggest obstacle is socialization. Thankfully, we live in a world of technology. FaceTime, Kids Messenger and Google Hangouts are just some of the resources available to enable kids to chat with friends and family that they normally hang out with. Things to do while they video chat with a friend: Stream the same movie or TV show, make the same art project, perform a science experiment, play dress up or put on shows for each other.

Screen Time. My kids love their tablets and the balancing act between technology and life can be a real struggle. Pro Tip: use screen time to explore their interests TOGETHER. Love Science? Google YouTube videos on science experiments. Space is Cool? Explore NASA or the ESA. ART? look into a museum, watch Artie’s Creative Galaxy on Amazon Prime and do the art project, pull out art supplies and have them use their imagination. Language Arts. Education.com, NanoMano kids, WordWorld on Netflix.

Family Time! This is critical at any stage of life but now is the perfect time to go for some good old fashioned bonding. Play games together, do art, take a walk, sit in the backyard, play with the pets. TALK. Get to know each other again. LISTEN without judgement. Really HEAR each other.

Education. This goes so much further than the textbooks and worksheets. Take the time to teach them real life skills: Laundry, Dishes, Cooking, Baking, Cleaning, Gardening. You don’t know how to do something? You want to learn something? Show your kids you are human and research it together! Library (electronic), YouTube, Web search … all are valid ways to find resources and explore interests. I recommend being with your kids as they search online and explore online, especially if they are small.

ABCs and 123s. There are many resources available for traditional subjects. Look to your school district for online learning links. I will also list some at the end of this article.

Homeschool doesn’t have to be narrow or ridge. It is about nurture and nature. We began our homeschooling adventure as a way to reduce our children’s anxiety and allow them to explore their personal interests. Our kids are not concerned whether they learn at home or at school as long as they still get to have friends which is normally easily managed. If you want your kids to have fun with education allow it to be real. Learning is fluid and all around us if we simply know to seize the opportunities before us.

Khan Kids … great for Preschool and kindergarten

Khan Academy … Perfect for elementary and older

Education.com … Preschool through Fifth. Videos, games, worksheets and lesson plans

Night Zookeeper … Interactive Language Arts

4H … A list of resources to keep your kids engaged

PBS Kids … Activities

Sesame Street … Games, Videos, Art

Duck Duck Moose … Learning Apps

Met Museum … Art Museum

Project Gutenberg … Free Books

NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers … Writing Exercises

Science Friday … PodCasts, Stories, Education

Scholastic …Books and Games

How Stuff Works … Curiosity Explored!

PBS Media …. Resources on many subjects

NASA Kids Club Who doesn’t want to be an astronaut?

These are just some of the resources available to us. Have Fun, Bond with your Family and make the best of the situation before us.

WaterLily Nature & Nurture Homeschool by Sassy Viking Mama

Life Lived Between Light & Dark

The years ebb and flow as the tides dance to the moon. Our personal phases cycle as does the moon. We have moments in our life that are so bright we forget we ever knew the darkness. Other phases are the darkest night. These are the phases that lay us bare; open and vulnerable in ways we are never comfortable experiencing. These are the moments where we have our greatest growth and potential laid before us. Opportunities to grow and heal. However, most of our life is lived between the light and darkness. The light and dark illuminating each other for our fullest growth.

I have had many roles throughout my life. There are periods of time that I feel more like a role than the individual behind that role. I feel as though to keep with the forward momentum that I must succumb to certain tasks and behaviors. Is this a bad thing, no. Am I tired of certain routines and duties, yes. After two years of dealing with illness and injury, the legal system, the school system, constant restructuring of a household I feel as if I have been caught in a tidal storm, constantly buffeted on rough waters.

Slowly the storm has been receding and I begin to evaluate what is life, what needs to change and where to proceed forward. This evaluation began before the Winter holiday season. As I came to conclusions I had deep conversations with my partner, myself and family. Together we have been revamping certain things in our life and communicating better on our needs.

The communication has led to several changes in our life. Homeschooling our oldest child has happened. She couldn’t be happier! The adjustment has been a challenge for all of us but we are moving along, learning and growing. A combination of online school quality, homeschool flexibility and local homeschool resources are beginning to blend together into a world that is fostering natural exploration and love of learning.

After a length of illness, surgery and recovery our family is coming into its new normal. Two individuals with chronic pain conditions that manage a home and family with three kids, dogs and assorted pets are learning how to support each other in this new normal. We haven’t given up hope of improving our conditions but we do know that we must live in this current reality while we explore alternatives to improving our health.

For myself, that means committing to the gym for a combination of weight training, flexibility training (I love yoga) and cardio health to stave off the progression of arthritis and fibromyalgia. Routines and training are so very difficult for me to establish let alone maintain with the ever evolving needs of three children under eight.

Plus, I am spending time working on taking some of my passions from hobbies to a freelance career. Adding me time in to focus on that is important to me but a challenge. Due to the age of my children and the schedule my partner has worked for most of their small years I have had to put my needs on the back burner to have enough spoons to be there for my kids. Now, I can begin to shift my focus from solely their needs to a more balanced approach between their needs and mine.

Putting myself first has never been easy for me. Neither has drawing boundaries. Now, I am in a place where I need to do so for a multitude of reasons. Fortunately, my children and partner give me strength; as do members of my tribe.

Everything in life has cycles and patterns. People are no different. Embrace who you are, go with or define your flow but no matter what KNOW THYSELF.

Sassy Viking Mama

Ebb and Flow of Rainbows

Our family may not have gender-nonconforming children but ALL children should feel safe, loved and honored for who they are not the gender of their body or their emotional and physical likes or dislikes. We encourage our children to be individuals and not worry about boy things vs. girl things.

This should never have been a big deal or a reason for conversation with anyone regardless of relationship with our family and children. However, the amount of times our children have been teased and bullied due to their choice of clothing, accessories, nail polish, etc is unacceptable. No individual belongs in a box. Everyone is free to explore their own personality and interests without tying it to gender. ~ Sassy Viking Mama

Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron – Discover

We chat with Lori Duron, author and blogger of Raising My Rainbow, about her blog-to-book experience, parenting her gender-creative son, and being a positive resource in the community.

Raising a Rainbow: An Interview with Author Lori Duron — Discover

Communication Achievement

Communication is an on-going life skill. I have been told that it takes a lifetime to develop. As someone in their fourth decade of life, I have come to the conclusion that communication is the most necessary life skill that we can ever have or develop. Furthermore, I further believe that communication is never a fully developed skill, but one we work on from the moment we understand communication until we no longer have the mental, physical and emotional triad of abilities available to us for communication.

It would be fantastic if we studied and practiced communication for a particular length of time and then achieved a trophy with our ranking …. however, life is not a video game and that does not happen. An individual may be an expert in one area and able to communicate clearly and effectively there. This does not mean that in all additional areas of their life they are equally developed and eloquent in their communication abilities. Every situation presents a unique opportunity for learning and developing communication.

It has become apparent to me that communication skills are something that I desire in relationships. The degree, depth, frequency and capability fluctuate based on the situation and capability of the individual with which I am attempting to communication. Obviously, I would not expect the same level of interaction from my 8 year old child that I would expect from her father. He is a grown adult in his 30’s with experience in communication, a career and post-secondary education. She is a child just beginning to comprehend the nuances of communication, as well as the English language and is still early in her formal education.

What I do expect in communication from every individual that I interact with is honesty. Your education, language and personal skills do not make a difference in honesty in communication. That honesty must begin with yourself. If you cannot be honest in your inner dialogue and realizations then you can never be honest with external dialogue and relationships. Lack of honesty kills healthy relationships.

Having manners and being polite is important in relationships. However, if we feel encumbered by rules and unable to speak freely then we have gone too far. It is okay to disagree with someone you care about. Disagreeing with another individual can happen in a respectful manner. Expecting that there will never be a disagreement in a relationship is unrealistic. Acting badly, bullying and manipulation because someone disagrees with you is childish and there is no place for that in a healthy relationship.

Treating individuals you communicate to with openness, honesty and respect will never go badly for you. Even if the other individual acts badly you do not need to respond in kind. Having integrity is vital to establishing a community that can sustain and support you in your life.

Viking Mama

Homeschool Adventures – Month One

Third Grade … focus and sitting still are difficult for any child; add in ADHD and focus is like a puck on the ice during a Penguins Stanley Cup Playoff Game. Where we live the average classroom size is 21 children. Children who are children … moving, fiddling, joking, talking, passing notes, etc. All of that leading to an environment of distractions.

Then there is inevitable teasing, potential mean kid, bullying and the teachers reactions. Does the teacher make you feel safe? Does the teacher yell? Does the teacher ignore you? Phrases such as “why can’t you learn this?”; “keep up with the rest of the class”; or screaming at another group of kids when you are concentrating are all very disconcerting and overwhelming for children. If you mix in a dash of ADHD it is the recipe for cocktails such as school sucks, why bother, or I QUIT.

Nothing is more heartbreaking than seeing the child who loves learning begin to hate it. She gave up on herself and stopped believing she could do anything. I began to hear phrases such as I’m stupid, followed by I can’t learn this and topped off with Everything I do is wrong. Honey, where is this internal monologue coming from because I know you have never been told this by me or your dad.

After much digging and probing we found out a whole lot was happening with peers and the teacher. Switch teachers … too late. She loved the teacher but had just checked out of the traditional school system. Each day was begging to stay home and be homeschooled.

I am a person who is a firm believer in loving to learn. I do not want anyone to hate education. Learning should be a passion. Something that we carry with us each day of our lives. As such, her father and I decide to make changes. Enter the second semester of third grade and we begin a new adventure … online schooling.

Why did we choose online schooling? I am the stay at home mom for three children (8, 6, and 3). Preschool at home has always been a choice for us. My partner gave me valuable feedback on trying to mange our household, three kids, two dogs, miscellaneous other pets, a social life, relationship and all the curveballs that having a family of five entails plus trying to find, write, maintain a curriculum that not only fulfills the state of Ohio but their personal interests and what we feel is valuable to include.

Hence, online schooling. The curriculum is set by the state and flexible to allow for other homeschool opportunities including socialization. I am finding that the curriculum is more difficult than her traditional schools and I like that. It does add into the first few months being hard dipping into difficult bordering on insane. Now that we are finding a rhythm and balance to our life it is getting easier. Everyday is a new challenge especially as we are still academically catching up from the time that she had lost all interest in education.

Does homeschool work? Yes, but I firmly believe that homeschooling is NOT for everybody. Homeschooling is hard on everyone, it impacts the entire family, it also is a lot of work. The younger the children are the more you need to be hands on. If you are going to homeschool you need to make sure that you wish to take on a full time job as teacher, principal and educational advocate.

I have also learned that I need a personal morning routine that begins without the children. To accomplish this I get up a half hour before the rest of my family, make a pot of coffee and either journal or read. This is what I need for my sanity and to be the best form of myself for my children. I need to fill my internal well. Also, know when to take a break and how to give them without ruining your whole day. As you go along you will also learn when to chuck the plan and improvise.

Meanwhile our adventures continue. Balance is something we learn each day but the biggest things we are learning is to be a team and love life and all that it teaches us.

Blessings,

Sassy Viking Mama

Respect: Just Give It To Me!

“What was most alarming to me, as someone who was always raised as an independent woman, was just how ingrained this behavior was,” said Casey Crowe Taylor, a former public relations employee at Victoria’s Secret who said she had witnessed Mr. Razek’s conduct. “This abuse was just laughed off and accepted as normal. It was almost like brainwashing.”

The above quote defines why abuse happens. It defines how strong people are still abused. It is the mentality I try to keep in mind while attempting to raise strong, independent children who will not be afraid to stand up for themselves and others.

As a young woman trying to have a career in the world of Investment Finance I experienced a myriad of abusive and frightening situations. The constant scrutiny and judgement on my wardrobe, scent choices, makeup and hair overshadowed the quality of my work and intelligence.

At one point in my career I had a corporate one on one review session with my female boss. I looked at this individual as a mentor until we had a conversation that included forward-thinking career advice from her to me at one of the top investment firms in the county. She told me that if I wanted to continue to work with men and raise up the corporate ladder I needed to raise my hem line and lower my neck line, perfect my make-up, dye my hair to the current fashion for professionals and smile and laugh at the men to make them feel good. Then and only then would I be able to climb the corporate ladder.

I was disillusioned and sick. She was not a mentor. This was not help. Instead of being a woman in my mid-twenties I felt like a 16 year old kid being pressed up against the deli case of the convenience store I worked in and groped by the thirty-something year old man I worked for. Every moment of being touched by someone without my consent ran through my mind, along with every person I ever tried to get to help me saying “That is just the way things are” or “men will be men”.

It isn’t that women of my generation never tried to get help or change things. We were powerless. Society had accepted the mindset that it was okay for men to treat women as object; adults were allowed to treat children as possessions; that you are always property. The only factors that changed how you had were treated was based on the gender and race you were born as well as age. Treatment was dictated by these and we just had to accept it because that was how things were. This was Normal!

Just because something is perceived as normal does not make it right any more than the phrase “this is how it has always been” legitimizes behavior of any group. Decency and Integrity are fundamental to a healthy social group. Society isn’t going to change overnight. However, we can begin to change the world by changing our immediate environment.

So many of us feel powerless in our current social and economic situations. However, we are not powerless. Simple things can be changed in our lives that over time do have a greater impact on the quality of our lives and immediate environment.

Respect. Do we respect ourselves? Do we respect our family members? Do we respect our friends? If the answer is no, that is the first place that you can make changes as an individual. Be honest with yourself and why you do or do not feel respected. If you do not feel respected in your immediate life circle then it is impossible for you to have confidence in yourself and that affects your relationships, career, parenting, etc.

We each have a choice in how we want to be treated and how we treat others. Starting with this one small change can be the beginning we need to change what is normal in our society. No one needs to be a doormat to be respected. Conversely, no one needs to be a bully either. There is a reasonable middle ground in respecting yourself and others where everyones needs and expectations can be communicated and responded to. Also, we do not need to be everything to any individual. That is unrealistic and unhealthy.

However, let’s begin with respect. Respect yourself. Respect Others. Teach Respect.

With Sassy Respect,

Sassy Viking Mama

Sources: ‘Angels’ in Hell: The Culture of Misogyny Inside Victoria’s Secret as printed in the NewYork Times. and YouTube/Aretha Franklin’s Respect.

Coffee Talk Thoughts

A few days ago a friend sent a blurb about the new game Coffee Talk. While I love to game, getting time to game is difficult for me and when I do have the time I often do not have the brain power left due to exhaustion. I adore coffee, novels and writing so this seemed the perfect combination for me.

I began the main story line yesterday and wrapped it up today. It reminded me of why I love coffee shops, coffee and writing. The joy in the fact that there are always stories around us, if we only are observant. Plus a surprise in the end about the barista character that you play.

As a stay at home mom of three kids the fact that I can pause and put the switch down is a huge plus for me. Music is enjoyable and fun to play with, but all of it is low key and relaxing. With the noise of kids and dogs, relaxing is a huge plus.

Coffee Talk takes place in Seattle during the year 2020 when other races have joined humans in daily life. The characters feature multiple races and genders while their careers span free-lance, writer, IT, game developer, cop, shop owner, etc. Yet they all find comfort in coffee and story sharing. The coffee shop becoming a safe place for the characters. A Cheers! of the coffee world.

I highly recommend this for anyone who loves visual novels, coffee, or people watching.

Frankenfinger and 3 A.M. Coffee

This has been a week. Without some laughter from the sassy sisterhood, support from my best friend and love, plus kid and puppy cuddles I would have permanently lost some of my sanity. Ok, I may have done that anyway.

Sunday, ER visit 1. I slip cleaning a butcher knife and slice my pinky open. It loots like someone wrapped ma garrote around it. An hour and a half later, I cannot get this to stay clotted and off I go. Eventually I am cleaned and glued after a humorous conversation about scarring. Sweet Physicians Assistant was worried about scarring if we did glue vs. stitches. That ship has long sailed with me. After a hysterical conversation with Sassy Leo Mama where I concluded if my scars were removed my skin would probably fall off we dubbed my finger “frankenfinger” and moved on. Also, I have lost count on how many times the people in my life have hit this particular finger since I have inured it. I swear I have a homing beacon there!

Monday, ER visit 2. One of my children has been having awful headaches off and on for months. They appear to be sinus or migraine however going to regular doctor when symptoms aren’t presenting hasn’t given us much information. Since this has ben recurring we took him to the ER when it began again. My brave little man did well on the blood panel and waiting; which is amazing given his terror of needles. Our RN was absolutely phenomenal. Thankfully, no immediate symptoms of concern but now process of elimination begins to decide this is just bad sinus/migraine.

Tuesday, date night with hubby. Halfway thru the night enters food poisoning. Are you fucking serious? thankfully, the case was mild but for the love of god can we please catch a break?!

Wednesday, kid birthday. Dog gate breaks. Four and half month old pit bull puppies are loose in my house while I drop kids off and go find a replacement gate. That is almost as terrifying as the sound of silence is to parents when their kids are home. Thankfully, I still have a house and furniture. New folding gate was acquired and I managed to get back to the kid party for cake and impromptu decision to bring the kids back here for sleepover.

Thursday, One year anniversary of my mom’s death. All I can say right now without crying more.

Friday, this has started at 3 a.m. with a toddler who doesn’t feel good and goes from happy giggling to crying. I am almost afraid to wake the other two. Mama needs a nap.

This has been a weird, emotional week. I think I need to crawl into a video game and a cup of coffee for a while and forget the world.

Much love, Viking Mama