Tag Archives: family

What’s For Dinner: Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

My kids love pancakes, and they do make a cheap meal. However, when I make pancakes from a mix I feel like I’m feeding us empty calories, and I often feel sick after eating them. My husband feels sick enough that he usually won’t eat them.

Twitter friend Stephanie Stricklen recommends Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix, and I have every intention of trying it at some point. But in the meantime, and in the interest of the family budget, I decided to try from-scratch whole-wheat pancakes.

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light; I doubled it and added cinnamon and vanilla. The pancakes were delicious. They were light, fluffy and flavorful. The kids devoured them, although the eldest (13) suddenly developed an aversion to the flavor after I mentioned the whole wheat. This was after she’d taken a second helping, though.

The leftover pancakes will go into lunches tomorrow, with toppings. I got this idea from 100 Days of Real Food, where Lisa Leake often packs leftover pancakes and waffles for her kids.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
makes about 32 4-inch pancakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/12 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups low-fat buttermilk (or use 2 3/4 cup milk w/ 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar)

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla, stirring with a whisk.  Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moist (batter will be lumpy).

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat (I use an electric griddle at 350 degrees). Grease it with butter or cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter. Or applesauce and jam. Peanut butter and bananas!


Dear Family

Dear Family: Today I asked everyone to help pick up the house a bit. It’s not unusual. We ask for this most weekends. And many times, everyone works together and gets things done beautifully.

But today, there was arguing and complaining, and I think I’m still a little short on emotional resources from a stressful day yesterday, so I ended up wanting to cry myself.

And I’m not trying to guilt you into doing more. I just want to express how I feel.

When you argue with each other, and complain that you don’t want to do it, and that weekends are supposed to be a break, I feel like you don’t care about me. And I know you do care about me, and that it’s really not about me. But that’s how it feels. I want to get things done and then…well, I’m probably going to be getting a few MORE things done before I get to relax, but you get the idea. And when you’re not willing to help out, it feels like you don’t care.

I know all the parenting literature says I should just not take it personally. I should just tell you what I expect, and apply natural or logical consequences if it doesn’t happen. And sometimes I’m OK with that. But, like I said, emotional resources are low today, so it’s a little harder.

Thank you for getting things done in the end. I just wish it could have been a little easier.

A Week’s Biking In Pictures

I’m currently coordinating Walk and Bike to School Challenge Month at my school. Our bike rack is small, but mighty. We also have a lot of walkers!

Meanwhile, in interesting loads for the Xtracycle, I biked a fully loaded crockpot to work for a potluck.

And on Friday I biked both of my younger girls to their school, where we had an early meeting with a teacher. I really wanted to get an action shot of our shadow, but I didn’t quite dare try.

Tomorrow, we’re going to give Sunday Parkways a whirl — this is an event in Portland where they close off a number of streets to auto traffic and let the rest of us play! That’s my Mother’s Day treat.

How to Balance Weight Loss, Family Time, Work and More? Just Dance!

“I signed up for a 1,000 points per day challenge on Just Dance,” I announced at the Weight Watchers meeting today. That’s about 4-5 songs per day, although you don’t actually have to dance every day.

“Does that fit into your lifestyle?” the leader asked.

Happily, I was able to say “Yes!”

If you’re working, raising a family and volunteering in a few different organizations, it’s not easy to fit in trips to the gym, or even walking and running outside (especially during these dark winter days). And of course, the comfy chair is always a temptation at home.

I do, of course, ride my bike to work (usually 5 days a week), which helps. But my weight loss has been stalled for a while, so I needed to bump up my activity levels.

When we received a Wii game console for Christmas, I knew I wanted to get some kind of active game for it. I ended up with Just Dance 3. The program includes Sweat Challenges. There are three options for a seven-day challenge: 500 points daily (equivalent to walking for 30 minutes a day), 1000 points daily (equivalent to running 30 minutes a day), or 3000 points daily (which they SAY is the equivalent of swimming 30 minutes a day). You don’t have to dance every day; just get the full amount by the end of the week.

So the game works well for physical activity. But what about the time and motivation to do it?

Well, I have three kids. They like to dance. They like to dance WITH me! So they make sure I dance.

For instance, tonight I got home around 5:00, and we were planning to go out to dinner (a fundraiser for Outdoor School) as soon as my husband got home. I could very easily have sat down with the computer to check Twitter and Facebook until then, but my daughter was already dancing and she handed me the other Wii remote before I had a chance to sit down. And we did 1300 points, easy-peasy, before dinner.

Oh, and the daughter? She’s doing the 3,000 points per day challenge this week!

FYI, the Just Dance games are also available for Xbox 360/Kinect and PlayStation/Move. And if you don’t have a game system (or if you just want to see what it’s like), you can play the Just Dance videos on YouTube and follow along (you just don’t earn points or compete with anyone).

My current goal is to lose 5 pounds by Valentine’s Day, and to have fun doing it!


Disclosure: Yes, those are Amazon affiliate links up there. If you buy something through those links, I do get a tiny percentage. Thank you!


Getting Off-Line

My husband often accuses me of being addicted to the internet. And he admits that he sometimes has a problem too.

Lately, I’ve found myself feeling too tired to get things done — but not too tired to play around on the internet! Sometimes I fool myself that I’m getting things done on the internet. It’s true that I do a lot of things on the internet — pay bills, blog, write articles, communicate with other people — but not everything on my to-do list requires a computer.

So tonight, I decided to print out my to-do list (because I keep THAT online too, and it becomes one of my excuses for being online) and then shut the laptop. And what happened?

  • I made dinner, and we all ate dinner together.
  • My middle daughter completed her chores without having a meltdown so that we could play catch together.
  • We played catch, and I got some exercise (which was on my list).
  • I got some Girl Scout paperwork finished. I did have to open the computer to download and print one form, but that was OK.
  • I did my toning/strength training exercises.

That’s not the most productive evening I’ve ever had, but I’m happy with it. And I’m happy to be back blogging, too.

I’m Not Car-Free. Yet.

We’re not a car-free family. I do commute by bicycle, and use my bicycle almost every day, but we also have a minivan. My husband takes it to work, and we frequently use it for family outings, grocery shopping, and transportation to evening meetings and events.

I tried going car-free for 10 days last year; it was difficult, and I’m not sure I’d want to be totally car free. I could deal with being a non-car-owner if we had access to a car-sharing program.

There are car-free families out there, though. Here’s a piece from one of them on How to Be a Car-Free Family.

Car-Free Challenge, Day 3: Kid Biking!

We finally have all three kids biking on their own! Oldest daughter has moved up to an adult bike. Middle daughter just tonight moved up to the middle bike and started riding without training wheels. Youngest daughter is now on the smallest bike, with the training wheels on. Yay! But I forgot to take any pictures. Boo!

Day 3 was pretty uneventful as far as transportation went. I didn’t need to go anywhere; the only problem was when I needed to mail something and couldn’t find any stamps.  If I’d had access to the car, I might have jumped in and gone to the post office to buy stamps and put the envelope in the mail. As it was, I found a way to print the postage I needed online, and got the envelope into the mailbox before the mail carrier arrived.

Why didn’t I just bike to the post office? It’s at the bottom of a big hill. I suppose I could have biked to a different (but further away) post office, or I could have bought stamps at Fred Meyer, but that didn’t occur to me at the time. And the hill? I’m not just being lazy. I’ve never been able to get up that hill without walking my bike and half-dying.

Right now, however, I’m pondering a ride down that very hill. You see, I’m adding people to the challenge! Yes, Aaron Walker chimed in and went car-free yesterday, so that brings me to six car-free days (through this Friday). And Shetha, although she didn’t actually say “I’m joining in, match me!” is in the middle of five car-free days of her own. And I’m thinking about matching her just for the heck of it. But that means I have to take my daughter to the summer camp bus by bike on Monday. The bus stop isn’t far, but it’s at the bottom of that hill, and we’d have to take her gear (not really a big deal).

Really, I don’t see why I can’t do it. Do you?

Technology and Focus

Have you read Your Brain On Computers, from the New York Times? The article details the lives of a family that’s having trouble with heavy technology use, perhaps an Internet addiction. My husband often accuses me of being addicted to the Internet, and sometimes, when I stay up too late doing pretty much nothing, I agree with him.  I’m obviously not about to kick the internet out of my life, though.

The Times article tells us why we’re addicted to the Internet and technology use:

The stimulation provokes excitement — a dopamine squirt — that researchers say can be addictive. In its absence, people feel bored.

So, for instance, getting notification of a new email or a new tweet gives your brain a little ZING! So does surfing the web, discovering new and exciting things.

The article also discusses focus and multitasking, citing a study in which people were asked questions to determine whether they were heavy multitaskers, and then tested on their focus level and ability to switch between tasks. The results are not particularly encouraging.

Heavy multitaskers actually have more trouble focusing and shutting out irrelevant information, scientists say, and they experience more stress.

Scientists also found that heavy multitaskers had more difficulty switching between tasks.

Sample tests were included with the article, so of course I took them myself. I don’t know whether I qualify as a heavy multitasker, because they didn’t include that questionnaire. I did very well on the focus test, getting only one item wrong, but apparently I’m very slow at switching between tasks.

I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad result — or whether there really is a good or bad result. Perhaps we’re just all different in the way we process information?  It might be more informative to test a group of people who haven’t been exposed to technology, then have them use computers or other technology for some period of time, and then re-test them.

Here are the tests, if you want to take them yourself. Come back and report on how you did!

Test Your Focus

Test How Fast You Juggle Tasks