Welcome It seems that when kids reach about age 3, there’s a whole new level of independence that takes over. They have acquired confident mobility by this point, as well as a rapidly increasing language bank. In their little minds, they have it all and they can conquer all. In my work with young children and my own, I have heard many toddlers stubbornly voice the words, “I can do it myself!” But I realized recently that growing toddlers aren’t the only ones that use these words with stubborn determination. Can you identify?
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Food For Thought I’m just going to come right out and say it. The latter half of my thirties was a miserable time for me, even with a mountain of blessings. This was mostly due to frustrations with my job, but I didn’t help myself any with constant negativity or falling into worldly behaviors that left me feeling shallow and guilty. And the worst part was my fading faith. I still believed in God and basically followed the “rules,” but I wasn’t depending on God and my faith was weak. I wasn’t trusting God to handle my biggest frustrations and anxieties. I was walking around like the strong-willed toddlers I had worked with so long ago, saying, “I can do it myself!”
Those who know me best would say I’m a bit of a control freak. Most of my life I’ve had the philosophy of “If you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself.” That, my friends, is a very prideful attitude to have. So guilty. I’ve also learned over the years, sadly, that it’s hard to depend on people. I’ve experienced a lot of disappointment and let down from people saying they would do something, but never followed through. I don’t want to be that person, so it’s easier to just take charge of the situation and be in control. Then when things go wrong, I have no one to blame but myself. And boy do I like to blame myself, but that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, I spent time politely praying in group or church settings. I would pray for others, but half-heartedly. And I stopped praying much for myself. As a “mature” Christian of 30+ years, I stopped turning to God during the difficult times in my life. During my thirties that meant career, health, marriage, parenting, and depression. I was trying to depend on my self and my need for control to take care of these things. Here’s what I learned: I can’t do it myself! There’s no way I can manage the ups and downs of all those challenging areas of life without help. I also know I can’t depend on just anyone for help, although there are people out there who will support me if I just ask. But you know who I can depend on for help? God! I can always ask God for help! Like so many other people, it took hitting rock-bottom for me to understand that God is always there to help me. I really just need to ask.
As parents or teachers we look at these increasingly independent toddlers knowing they can do some things by themselves. We give them some choices here and there to let them feel in control of the moment. We slowly release the reigns on more and more activities because we know they need some space to learn and grow. Yet we also know that these little ones still need our guidance and protection. Our little toddler friends haven’t mastered everything yet, and neither have we. Thankfully, we have a Heavenly Father who can still guide and protect us. We just can’t be so headstrong that we ignore His comfort and direction. And these days, I don’t even want to try to do it by myself!
Today’s Scripture Psalm 54:4 God
Today’s Recipes We want to give strength and nourishment to our little toddler friends as they grow and pursue their independence. It takes a lot of energy to gain that kind of confidence! I have a couple toddler-friendly recipes for you today. Perfect bite-size portions for their little hands and on-the-go bodies. But even if you’re not a toddler, you will still love these Homemade Mashed Potato Puffs and Fresh Orange Mini Muffins.
Have a toddler that loves mashed potatoes, but also loves using their fingers to eat? This is the perfect recipe! We take mashed potatoes and turn them into finger-holdin’ fun with these mashed potato puffs. I adapted this recipe from Kidgredients. Here are Homemade Mashed Potato Puffs.
- 6 small potatoes, cooked and mashed (no need to add butter or salt), about 4 cups worth
- 2 green onions, finely diced (if the green stuff freaks out your toddler, just omit them)
- 4 heaping tablespoons of light sour cream
- 1 heaping cup of shredded cheddar cheese
- olive oil for drizzling
Set oven to 400 degrees. Drizzle a little olive oil over a large rimmed baking sheet. In large bowl combine the mashed potatoes, onions, sour cream, and cheese. Using a medium size scoop, like my favorite OXO Good Grips Medium Size Cookie Scoop available on Amazon, shape potato mixture into approximately 15 balls. Place on baking sheet and drizzle tops with a little more olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Let stand 4-6 minutes before serving. * Note, the puffs spread out slightly during baking.
Once again, we are looking for those snacks or foods that are easy to fit into the hands of busy toddlers. These muffins are just the right size and have a subtle sweetness from the fresh orange juice. Here are Fresh Orange Mini Muffins.
- 1 large orange, for zest and juice
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 cup self-rising flour (important that it’s self-rising!)
- 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
- 1/3 cup sugar (or sugar substitute of choice)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 6 TBS coconut oil, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan, like this Wilton Perfect Results Non Stick 24-cup Mini Muffin Pan (the one I use) available on Amazon, with nonstick cooking spray.
Over a large bowl, zest a large orange. I like this Microplane Premium Zester and Grater because of its user-friendly handle grip. In separate bowl, juice the orange and add the milk. You will retain the sweet and subtle flavor of the orange but will also get a buttermilk-like tang for the muffins. Set this bowl aside.
In the large bowl with the orange zest, add the two flours, sugar, and salt. Whisk to combine.
In bowl with milk, add the coconut oil, eggs, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Fold this liquid mixture in with the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.
Using a scoop (I like this 1/8 Cup Stainless Steel Measure to portion my muffins perfectly), divide the batter between the 24 cups. Bake at 350 for 13 minutes. Remove to cooling rack.
Recipe makes 24 mini-muffins. Store cooled muffins in a large zip-top bag. These mini-muffins are great for snack time, breakfast on the go, or lunch box treats for the whole family!