Friday, December 16, 2011

Dec. 16 - Hot Cocoa and Christmas Stories

Day 9 - You can do this one with your whole family or just your spouse depending on the story you choose.  Make a big batch of Hot cocoa, curl up under blanket by the Christmas tree and read Christmas stories for as long as you want.

Here are some ideas from our favorites.

A Christmas Carol
The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Polar Express
Olive the Other Reindeer
What Child is This?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dec. 12 - Make a Christmas Ornament

Day 8 - For Family Night have everyone make a Christmas Ornament to hang on the tree.  A few easy ideas and instructions are listed below but there are plenty more to choose from on the internet.  BONUS POINTS if you invite your special friend.

Cinnamon Ornaments
Felted Wreath
Salt Dough Snowman
Craft Stick Santa Claus

Dec. 11 - Christmas Caroling

Day 7 - Go Christmas Caroling, and make sure you stop by your special friend's house.  Invite them to join you.  They may or may not accept.  It doesn't matter.  They will still appreciate the thought!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Dec. 10 - Serving the Sick



There are many ways to fulfill this challenge.  Here are some ideas, choose the one that best fits your budget and schedule.

-Donate needed supplies or a meal to your local Ronald McDonald house or equivalent. 
-Drop a donation to Ronald McDonald house at McDonald's (even if it is just change)
-Make a meal for someone who is sick
-Go help someone who is sick or taking care of a sick family member with chores, laundry, Christmas, etc.
-Take some Christmas cookies to your hospital, not necessarily for the patients, but for the nurses!  You can save this one for Christmas Eve if you wish and add a little cheer to the lives of people who have to work the holiday.
-Take a sick mom's kids so she can get some rest.

Just a thought, if you want to help someone, sometimes the best thing to do is just do it, not ask permission first.  A lot of people will turn down help when you ask if it is ok, even when they could use it!

Dec. 9 - Serve Your Spouse

Day 5- Today is an easy one.  Do a job normally reserved for your spouse!  That means I will be taking out the trash and ironing!

Dec. 5 - Good Deeds for Baby Jesus

Day 4 - It's Monday Night, that means it's Family Home Evening!  For this Family Night you will be talking about doing good deeds for Baby Jesus.  Explain how when you do something good for someone else it is like doing it for Christ.  For the whole month you will keep track of your family's good deeds.  Everytime someone does a good deed they get to add a piece of "hay" to Jesus' manger.

All you need is a small baby doll to be baby Jesus, a tin or box for the manger, and "hay".  We always use tinsel, ourselves.

Keep your little manger out where everyone can see the family's progress.  If you catch someone doing a good deed be sure to announce it and ask if they would like to add some hay to the manger.

On Christmas Eve, put Baby Jesus in his warm, and comfy manger underneath your Christmas tree.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

December 4 - Cookies for a Special Friend

Day 3 - Make Christmas Cookies and take a plate to someone who is lonely

Did you find someone who is lonely and could use a friend?  If not, today is the day.  You will be visiting with this person for the next three weeks so make a good decision.  A lonely person can be an elderly person, widow/widower, someone who is sick, someone homebound, a single mother, a new family in town, someone at school with no friends.  You decide.

There are so many lonely people out there.  It's time to step out of our comfort zone and love them.  Today is easy, just drop by some cookies with a little note.  They may want to chat for a few minutes...do it!!

December 3 Challenge: The "orphaned"

Day 2 - Donate needed items to children "aging out" of the foster system

Every year children "age out" of the foster care system.  They no longer have a foster family or anyone really watching out for them.  These kids need supplies to go out on their own without support.  These items can include furniture, cleaning supplies, school supplies, and clothing.  Kids in the system learn to keep all their belongings in a suitcase, so they don't have much.  I'm sure they would love to know that someone is thinking about them. 

You can call a local foster care agency to find out if there are any specific items needed at this time.  Or if you don't want to make the phone call, think of what you would get a 17 or 18 year old going out on their own.  If you don't have money look around your house.  Maybe you have an extra set of sheets, coat, or a cookbook you don't use.  If none of those ideas suit you, call and see if there is some way you can volunteer.  Perhaps you can help with homework, college applications, or give a cooking lesson.

When you have a donation either send or take it to one of the foster care agencies in your area.  They will be able to get it to someone about to age out/recently aged out. 
If you can't get this challenge done today, just try before next Saturday's challenge.

December 2 Challenge - Gratitude



Day 1  -  Write your spouse a Thank You note.**

Let's start off easy!

Fridays we are focusing on our family, specifically your spouse (if you have one).  They always seem to get the short stick when it comes to patience and kind words.  Yet they are the most important people in our lives.

 Begin Christmas with an attitude of gratitude. Write your spouse a sincere and thoughtul "Thank You" note and leave it somewere they are sure to find it.

**You can substitute a different family member if you are single

The Twelve Days of Christmas Challenge

Have you ever made it to Christmas Day and felt like you missed out on the joy of the whole season?  I know I feel a lot of times like I get into the spirit of Christmas right at the end, and then it is over!  This year I have devised a plan and I invite you to join me. 

To do it, you only have to be willing to sacrifice a little bit of time on your weekends. I will also provide you with Family Home Evening Lessons throughout the month.  I will leave the last weekend of Christmas for you to spend as you wish, although there will be a bonus challenge on Christmas day.  Altogether, it is 12 days or Christmas Spirit.
I am breaking each challenge day into a different category.
Monday - Family Home Evening
Friday - Spouse/significant other/mom, sister, etc. if you are single
Saturday - Serving the Forgotten
Sunday - Visiting the Lonely

I really wanted to focus on the people around us.  Sometimes we do a great job of giving to charities for third world countries (which are great, don't get me wrong) but we fail to see the need in our own communities and neighborhood.  Now I have purposely left out soup kitchens and homeless shelters because we always think of those places to serve.  I wanted to highlight other opportunities to do good.

To prepare, begin gathering the following items
small doll (baby Jesus)
small box or tin to hold doll
tinsel
2 pieces of fleece about 1-1.5 yds long for a blanket
Christmas Ornament Craft supplies
hot chocolate



This will not be very hard and I think it will really add to our holiday season.  Will you join me?


Tuesday, November 15, 2011

5x7 Folded Card

Snowflake Doodles Holiday Card
Create personalized holiday cards online at Shutterfly.com.
View the entire collection of cards.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Mommy Math

Mommy buys 10 apples.
8 are severely bruised after being mistaken for edible balls.
4 have one bite taken out of them.
2 are half eaten.
What are we having for dessert tonight?

Hint

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

1 fryer chicken or 3-4 chicken breasts
8 cups water
3 chicken buillion cubes
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 onion, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced
1 package frozen, home made noodles***
8 oz. sour cream

Boil chicken in water until cooked through.  Remove chicken and shred.  Add enough water to the original boiling water to make 8 cups.  Add buillion, soup, onion, celery, and carrots, and chicken.  Boil until tender/tender-crisp.  Add noodles and cook according to package directions.  Stir in sour cream just before serving.  Salt to taste.

***The noodles are key to this recipe.  I get either Reame's or Grandma's noodles out of the freezer section

Tasty Corn Bread

2 onion (saute with margerine and set aside)
6 tbls margerine (use to saute with )
2 eggs (blend eggs and milk together)
2 tblsp milk
2 can cream of corn (add corn and conrmeal mix to eggs)
2 pkg. Jiffy cornmeal mix
1 cup sour cream (put this on top of the onion and top with cheese
2 cups shredded cheese

Saute onion and margerine  (set aside)
blend eggs and milk
add and mix together the corn and cornmeal mix
Sppon onion mix on top
Spread sour cream and cheese on top
Bake at 425 for 35 minutes and let stand 10 min.

Aunt Cindy's Chili

This chili is a recipe from my husband's side of the family.  It uses a special, secret ingredient...cocoa!  Just try it, it is so good!


4 tblsp oil
2 chopped onions
4 garlic minced
4 lbs stew meat
3 lbs sausage
2 cans whole tomato
2 cans tomato paste
4 tblsp chile powder
3 tsp cumin
1tblsp oregano
2 can's baked beans
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tblsp cocoa powder
2 can's kidney beans (drained)
1 can pinto beans (drained)

heat oil  Saute onion and garlic. Add beef and sausage.  Cook.  Pour off fat. Add tomato liquid and tomato paste, powder, cumin, oregano, baked beans, salt , sugar, and cocoa powder.  Simmer 2 hours.  Add water if dry. Stir in kidney and pinto beans, cook 30 min longer.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this recipe on allrecipes.com, it is definitely my favorite pumpkin cookie recipe (and I have tried several!)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine pumpkin, sugar, vegetable oil, and egg. In a separate bowl, stir together flour, baking powder, ground cinnamon, and salt. Dissolve the baking soda with the milk and stir in. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and mix well.
  2. Add vanilla, chocolate chips and nuts.
  3. Drop by spoonful on greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for approximately 10 minutes or until lightly brown and firm.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My first portrait

This is the picture Miss J drew of me during her speech therapy today.  Is it weird that I almost started crying?  Maybe.  But she did so well today and has really been speaking so much more lately.  It is a relief to know that she will be ok after finding out that she was delayed.  In fact her therapist said if Miss J were tested today she might not qualify anymore.  So now I can worry about Little Man.  He has me worried lately.  Fifteen months and now new words in months and he has stopped using the words he used to have. 

Looking for an explanation as to why both my children are having speech issues I have of course stumbled on scary words.  Autism, Lead poisoning, etc.  However, the good news of today is that there is help!  Miss J's speech therapist bemoaned the fact that most people wait far too long to get their kids tested for possible developmental delays.  Many times we wait for a Dr. to notice and refer us, or for relatives to say something. 

With Miss J, I worried for months that she wasn't up to speed.  But every time I filled out a development questionaire she fell within the normal range, and the pediatrician only asked how many words she had.  However Jane still wasn't communicating and didn't seem to understand me.  So I finally just called and got her tested.  What do you know? She had a significant delay in cognitive development and receptive language!  Her therapist said it is subtle, and hard to put your finger on and could have easily gone undiagnosed and Miss J would just have been "behind" or "slow".  Now she is up to speed and can talk to me!

Little Man is going to be tested next. I'm not going to wait for someone else to agree with my worries.  I'm the Mom, and I am in tune with what my kids need.  And this way, he can get help, because there is lots of good help out there!

So here is the point of this post.  Follow your instincts.  There is no shame in getting your kids tested for developmental delays, and there is no shame in having a child with a delay.  Don't waste anymore time worrying about something that can be addressed now!

Monday, September 12, 2011

C is for Chugga Chugga Choo Choo and Caboose

Song:  Little Red Caboose

Little Red Caboose (chug chug chug)
Little Red Caboose (chug chug chug)
Little Red Caboose behind the train
Smokestack on its back (back back back)
Coming down the track (track track track)
Little Red Caboose behind the train (chug chug)

Story: The Little Engine that Could  and Chugga Chugga Choo Choo

Art: Fingerprint Trains

Stamp fingerprints in a row to make a train.

Snack:  Club Cracker trains
Use club crackers as box cars, cheerios for wheels, and load with cargo!

Activity:  Make trains out of blocks (with smokestack)
Use this to rinforce being able to build over AND up at the same time

Play the Train Game  (Follow The Leader)

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Making a Good Impression with the Neighbors

Well, yesterday was exciting and scary all at the same time. The kids were playin upstairs. Unbeknownst to me, Rob had opened a window in our room from the bottom, which is a no-no because the windows are so low to the ground. Luckily, this window was right above our addition and just led out to the flat roof. Miss J reached and lifted up the screen, and apparently Harry (our dog) jumped out, onto the roof. This sent Miss J into hysterics (thankfully, can you imagine if she had thought to join him?). I went to investigate and found Harry prancing around on our roof, happy as a lark and Jane crying "Harry, come inside, Harry!"

I also started trying to get Harry to come back inside, but he was having way too much fun. I was about to climb onto the roof myself when Little Man toddled in to see what all the commotion was about. Not wanting him to follow me I put him up on my bed. Right then, Harry decided to walk by the window. I grabbed his collar and dragged him in.

Little Man at that moment was, of course, trying to get off the bed. His socked feet slipped on the hardwood floor and his chin smashed into the wood frame of our bed. I turned around and Little Man was bleeding...a lot. I ran him into the bathroom to clean him off and get a look at the damage, but there was too much blood, I could tell it was coming from his tongue but that was all.

I made the decision right then to take him to Rob's office to get a better look. As we were rushing out the door, I saw that there was a huge gash in his tongue, which of course made me hysterical. Five minutes after the dog is on the roof, I am rushing Miss J out the door, holding a bleeding Little Man. Everyone is screaming and crying and of course, both children are pantless! I can only imagine what the neighbors are thinking.

By the time we got to Rob's office Little Man had calmed down. Rob took a look, and it was a big gash, but it hadn't gone through the tongue. The nurse at the pediatrician's office said there isn't much to do for a tongue wound except wait for it to heal and apply popsicles. So that is what we are doing. Little Man is ok, but not sleeping great (on top of a sore tongue he is getting his canines in). I feel like this could have been so much worse that we are counting our blessings!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Taking Down the Gate




Recently I've heard some pretty dumb rules on the playground.



"Don't climb up the slide."


"Don't jump off the swings."


"Don't go in the tube when someone else is in there."


"Do not get your outfit dirty!"



Really? What happened to going to playground and just playing like crazy? My kids must seem like the rebellious ring leaders because when we go to the playground I let them do whatever their little hearts desire (as long as it is not obviously dangerous). And Miss J has a habit of asking the other kids "Are you coming?" as she is climbing up the slide. I stand close by and monitor the situation, but unless someone is trying to go down the slide I figure that climbing up the slide is building more muscles and motor skills then just sliding down.



All I can think sometimes is 'No wonder our children have an obesity problem'. We have overprotected them into being little indoor pets that sit nicely on the couch or play quietly in their room. When Miss J was getting her development test, one of the ladies asked if she could go up and down stairs by herself. Of course, I thought, she is 2 and a half for goodness sake. Then the two women told me that it is quite common for them to have 2 year olds that can't go up or down stairs because no one ever took the gate down.



We don't let our kids learn to go up and down the stairs because they might fall, when if we just help them the first few times, they get it and master stairs easily. Do they still sometimes fall? Yes, but that's ok!



Maybe my parenting approach is outdated, but I figure childhood is about getting your hands dirty, and having a few bumps and bruises. I think if we just let our kids live a little we will find that things aren't as dangerous or as risky as we think, and our children are a lot more able than we give them credit for.



You may think that what I am suggesting is lazy parenting. It is not. It takes more time, energy, and vigilance to monitor your child's stair mobility than to simply put up a gate until they are five years old. It takes staying right close to your 14 month old when he gets it into his head to climb up the slide like his older sister instead of holding him while you talk to someone on the phone.



Giving your child a little more freedom doesn't mean letting them do whatever they want without supervision. I think it requires more time and supervision to give your children a little lee-way. I'm not suggesting we let our kids play in the street or go swimming in an unsupervised pool, I'm just saying let's take a step back from our attitude that the world is waiting with baited breath to kill our children.




So to all mothers out there, here is a challenge. Let your kids live a little! Encourage them to get dirty!



Take down the gate!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Benny Bakes a Cake




I always find it hard to find really good books for Miss J (2.5 y). She is beyond the extreme simplicity of baby books, but not quite ready for the involved narrative of most story books. This book by Eve Rice is perfect. The story is simple. The wording is perfect, short, sweet, and child-centered. It is easy to involve her in and ask questions about what will happen next, etc. My little man loves it too!

Refrigerator Love Letters

About a year ago I purchased "love" word magnets. Since then, Rob and I have had fun putting together short little love sentences on the fridge. It is just a fun little game between us, and an easy way to get a few butterflies going (which can be a challenge after children). Because the words are on the fridge they are on display all the time and easy to remember. It was $7.00 well spent!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Turkey Penne With Lemon Cream Sauce


Made this the other night for dinner and it was delicious. I think it would also taste great with chicken or seafood instead of turkey. The kids loved it too!
Click the picture for this great recipe!


Sunday, August 28, 2011

B Is For Bugs and Butterflies

Art: Folded Butterflies
Cut out butterfly shapes. Have kids fingerpaint, fold in half and press to make a butterfly.

Rock Bugs
Have kids paint rocks and attach googly eyes.

Butterfly Collage
Cut out butterfly from contact paper. Have kids help tear construction and then stick on butterfly to make collage.

Songs and Fingerplays:

I'm Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee
Won't my mommy be so proud of me?
I bringing home a baby bumblebee.
Ouch! It stung me.

Here is the beehive (put hands together)
but where are the bees?
Hidden inside where nobody sees.
Watch and you'll see them come out of the hive.
One, two, three, four, five (lift up fingers)
Buzz! (tickle)

Games
Play the "Cooties" game

Science
Go bug hunting. Find bugs outside and talk about them.

Snacks
Bug cookies - decorate cookies as bugs

Ants on a log - cleryk peanut butter and raisins


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A is for Apple




Song: Johnny AppleSeed Song

Oh The Lord's been good to me,
and so I thank the Lord.
For giving me the things I need.
The sun and the rain and the apple seed,
oh the Lord's been good to me.

Fingerplay
Way up High in the Apple Tree (make a tree with arms)
Two little apples smiling at me (Make fists and put next to your smile)
I shook that tree as hard as I could (Go back to being a tree and wobble back and forth)
Down came the Apples and mmmmm they were good! (Have hands fall down and then rub stomach)

Art

Cut a few apples in half. Dip in red, yellow and green paints and the use like stamps on paper.

Science

Observe an apple and record your findings. Use all five senses.
What does it look like? red, round, has a stem, shiny, etc

What does it smell like?

How does it feel? smooth, hard

What does it sound like?

How does it taste? sweet, sour


Sensory bags/boxes

Put parts of an apple in a paper bag or covered box and have each child feel what is inside and guess what it is.

For example: core, stem, leaves, seeds, peels, apple sauce

Snack

Apple Pizza

Toast english muffin halves and top with cream cheese, cinnamon, and apple sauce. Toast for 20 seconds.

Make an apple pie for family night!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

MMMMMMMM....Chocolate Cake

Some days you just want a good piece of chocolate cake. Look no further!

Ingredients

1 package devil's food cake
1 (5.9 oz) pack instant chocolate pudding
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Vegetable Oil
4 eggs
1/2 Cup warm water
2 Cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl mix together cake mix, pudding, sour cream, oil, eggs and water. Stir in Chocolate chips. Pour into well greased bundt pan.
3. Bake for 50-55 minutes or until top is springy. Let cool in pan for 60-90 minutes before removing cake.

Friday, July 29, 2011

27 Ways to Get Your Child Hooked on Books

I got this list from PaulBorgese.com

1. Develop reading readiness by reading to your baby.
2. Introduce your baby to the world through books. (ex. if you are reading a simple book that mentions a banana, show your baby a real banana)
3. Give your child a book box (like a toy box, but for books!)
4. Allow your child to take part in choosing books
5. Show interest in reading.
6. Set aside part of your child's allowance to be spent only on books.
7. Ask relatives and friends who normally give gifts to your children to give them books or magazing subscriptions.
8. Reserve a shelf in your bookcase for your child.
9. Help your children to make their own books.
10. Help your child make colorful bookmarks out of construction paper.
11. Introduce your child to the public library during his or her preschool years.
12. Check with your local libraries and bookstores for dates when children's book authors will be reading or signing their books.
13. Help your child write to a favorite author.
14. Buy a good set of encyclopedias for your child.
15. Also, make sure to have a dictionary in your child's reference library.
16. Make sure your child reads some activity books such as cookbooks or gardening books.
17. Create a reading area for your child.
18. Read and dicuss stories with your children.
19. Get your child involved inthe stories they read. (ask what they would do if they found themselves in a similar situation, etc.)
20. Play reading games. (You know the kind where each person adds a sentence to the story)
21. Limit how much TV your child watches.
22. Evcourage your children to exercise their imaginations by having them draw characters or places they read about in their favorite books.
23. Collect old books your children have outgrown and donate them to book drived held by children's hospitals, churches or other organizations which help the needy.
24. Encourage your child to write often.
25. Help your child keep track of the books he or she has read by keeping a journal with the title, author, and date completed of each book read.
26. Play a game I call "Give-the Story-An-End." Just before the end of a story, ask your children to make up theor own endings.
27. For more information on books for children, visit www.paulborgese.com

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Lessons from the ER

Wednesday night we were in the ER with Miss J. She got a spider bite on her face and it was swelling her eyes shut. The ER here is terribly managed we found out. We waited for 4 hours!! Thankfully I had the diaper bag that I take to church still in the car. It was still loaded with books, toys and quiet activities, as well as snacks and drinks (which was good because the water fountain was broken). We were able to keep the kids somewhat under control as well as entertain another little girl who found herself in the unfortunate circumstance of being in this ER for HOURS.

It was such a blessing that I hadn't unpacked it from the car like I usually do. It got me thinking though. We are always told to prepare for an emergency. Get your 72 hour kits together, Prepare an emergency pack for your car in case you break down in the middle of winter, etc. But for this particular emergency, a well-packed diaper bag was exactly what was needed.

When we got in the car and left the house, we weren't headed to the ER. However, after calling the doctor on our way home from Wal-Mart we had a change of plans. We have probably all had instances when a few well-placed supplies for our children would have been heaven sent. I think I am going to keep a bag with some toys and snacks, as well as fresh undies, diapers, and wipes in the car at all times. You just never know when it will come in handy.

What about you? What do you think are some essentials for a Kid emergency pack.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Birthday Cake Ideas - Birthday Cakes Recipes for Kids | FamilyFun

 

Birthday Cake Ideas - Birthday Cakes Recipes for Kids | FamilyFun

I love this website!  This is where I found the instructions for Jane’s birthday cake that looked like a lamb.  Everything turns out looking awesome, but it isn’t super hard, and doesn’t take a cake decorating whiz.  They have all sorts of styles of cake to choose from, it doesn’t have to be birthday cake either!

Merenges



I made these this last Christmas and they were delectable. They are super light and fluffy with just a hint of lemon. I think they would make a great summertime dessert.




Ingredients


4 egg whites

1 pinch salt

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 1/3 cups sugar

1/2 tsp grated lemon zest





Directions


1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large glass or metal bowl whip egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar until mixture can hold a soft peak. Gradually add in sugar while continuing to whip mixture to stiff peaks. **This can take a little while, don't give up. Make sure it holds a nice stiff peak, to ensure fluffiness**

3. Fold in lemon zest. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto baking sheet.

4. Bake for 35 minutes in preheated oven or until cookies peel off without resistance. Cool on wire racks and then store in an air-tight container at room temp.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Potty Training Poetry



There was a red trike at the store
Miss J wanted to ride out the door.
So we said it was hers,
if she only would first,
Wear underwear forevermore.


Eight hours in no problems yet,
Minnie mouse underwear was a pretty good bet.



One day, no poop yet.
Are those pebbles on the floor?
Poop. Poop. Poop. Darn-it.


To be or not to be potty trained, that is the question.
For whether tis nobler in a day
to suffer the stinks and harrow-ing smells of outrageous diapers,
Or take a stand against late night drinks
And by opposing end them? To cry, to sleep.
No more. and by a sleep to say we end
the cleaning, and the thousand "nature calls"
that toddlers are heir to. 'tis a fantasy
devoutly to be wished. She cries, no sleep.


Today no misses,
My heart flutters with the thought.
Now, just don't jinx it.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Chicken Thyme Penne

I got this out of my Betty Crocker cookbook. Make this tasty, cook summer dinner in the morning when it is cool. Leave it in the fridge all day and then just pull it out and serve it up!

Ingredients:
3 cups uncooked penne pasta (10 oz)
4 cups cubed cooked chicken (cook it however you want)
2 cups red grapes, halved
2 medium stalks celery, sliced
1/3 cup chopped onion
3 TBS olive or vegetable oil
2 TBS chopped fresh or 2 tsp. dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1 1/4 cups mayo
1 TBS milk
1 TBS honey
1 TBS ground mustard
1 tsp. salt
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (to toast walnuts put them in the oven at 350 F on an ungreased cookie sheet for 6-10 min, until lightly brown)

Directions
1. Cook and drain pasta. Rinse with cold water; drain.

2. In a very large bowl, mix pasta, chicken, grapes, celery and onion. In a small bowl, mix oil and 1 TBS/1 tsp. thyme. Pour oil mixture over chicken mixture; toss to coat.

3. In small bowl, mix mayo, milk, honey, mustard, salt, and remaining thyme. Cover chicken mixture and mayo mixture separately and refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

4. Up to 2 hours before serving, toss chicken mixture and mayo mixture. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Just before serving, stir in 3/4 cup of the walmuts. Sprinkle salad with remaining nuts.

Milk Jug Sprinkler

This is a fun water toy that you can make from an old milk carton (which means you can brag about it being free and green, right?) Fill a clean milk carton up with water. Put the cap on. Turn the milk carton over and punch holes into the bottom. The more holes, the better. I used a teeny, tiny screw driver, a nail or any other sharp object would also work. Empty out enough water so that your child can hold the jug and hald it over. It is a nice sprinkle toy.

Leave the cap off to allow kids to refill the jug themselves, and have twice the pouring action.

Beat the Heat...and Clean!

It's hot outside!! Too hot to be outside for little ones. And inside isn't much better! Get some cleaning done and keep the kids cool at the same time. Sweep up your kitchen and dining room floors nice and spiffy. Then fill up several bowls of nice cool water. Place them around the kitchen and dining room. PUll out your spoons, measuring cups, sponges, water toys etc. Let your kids have at it for as long as they want.

Then simply take a towel and wipe up the water being sure to focus on any sticky parts. You can add soap to the water if you want and if you know your kids won't eat it). It won't be the deepest clean your house has ever seen, but it works! Who doesn't want to kill two birds with one stone?

The Cream Rises

I once heard an experienced mother describe looking back on the memories of her life as a mother. She summed it up with "The cream rises".

As mothers, sometimes we work so hard to make good memories with our children. But, more often than not, things don't always go as planned. Tired toddlers cry through the entire dinner, a whiny child wants you to hold them instead of walk the hike themselves. I've come to realize that while these experiences may not be what we envisioned for a fun family night, when we look back on that night it will be with sweet feelings and memories. Sometimes we don't even remember the annoying parts at all, merely the fact that we were together, doing something as a family. Which leads me to this story.

The heat wave that's sweeping the nation hit us yesterday. It was hot and humid, and our house only has one small window AC unit, only meant to cool about 200 sq. ft. Our family was sitting in front of the tv just melting. Miss J, usually a ball of energy, just slumped in a chair and whined. More out of a worry about overheating than quality family time, I acted. We all went upstairs and turned our large jetted tub into a nice cool pool! I even put on my swimsuit and got in. Suddenly my kids were happy, and laughing. We had a splish-splashy water fight and felt much better.
Later that night when it was bedtime, we moved the AC unit upstairs to our bedroom and laid the kids in our bed. I laid down with them and tried to get them to sleep. But the heat of the day, the change of routine, and the light from outside kept little eyes from closing. At 9, after about a half hour of everyone laying bed staring out the window, I got bored. We all got out of bed, loaded up the car, turned on the AC full blast and went and got ice cream. I was secretly hoping the kiddos would fall asleep in the car...but they didn't. That was ok though, after we ate our ice cream, both kids were ready for bed and fell asleep quickly.
Already my memory of yesterday is sweetening by the minute. I can readily admit that I had been eyeing the clock since 7 just waiting to be able to put those litte babies down. It was hot. Really, really hot! Sticky, sweaty, hot! The kids were so whiny, and crying at the drop of a hat. And yet, when I think about yesterday, I think about splashing in the tub, a late night ice cream trip, and applying a cool wash cloth to Miss J's neck throughout the night.
And that is what I always want to remember. That is why I am writing it down here. I always want to remember my sweet kids yesterday. I want to remember getting creative to beat the heat. I will always look back on this memory and smile. I will always remember that is was hot; but I won't really be thinking about that part.

The cream rises.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Back on the World Wide Web!

Well, I am finally back on the internet...with dial-up! Yuck! It is just a short term measure until we can get something a little more up to date. I can't believe how slow it is. How did we ever work with this? haha You other authors on this blog can feel free to write something anytime too!

So what did I learn from the big move? A LOT!

1. Moving is much easier when the grandparents help! Thank you so much.
2. The last little bit of packing and loading up the truck is a pain in the rear. Find a babysitter for the kids for this part if possible.
3. Paper plates, cups and plastic cutlery. Need I say more?
4. For the car trip, invest in some new toys. The really cheap $5 and under Wal-Mart toys work great, and then throw in one or two larger toys. Let each child play with one at a time and rotate them. The newness of the toys interspersed with a portable DVD player really saved our bacon.
5. Learn as many fun songs as you can. Turn around in your seat and sing them over and over and over and over! haha

That's about it. Moving is hard work! I am trying to adjust to "real life", and it hasn't been easy. There are many days where I feel lonely and isolated. Not having internet didn't help any either.

So here is my question. What do you do to fight the isolation and loneliness that can sometimes happen as a stay-at-home mom?

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Let's Play Four-Square!

For Four-Square you will need:

chalk
4 people
a nice size patch of concrete
a bouncy ball like a basketball or volleyball


1. Draw a large square about 6-feet wide and divide into four squares. Number the squares in clockwise order 1-4.
2. Each player stands in a square. The player in square 1 is the server. They start out the game by bouncing th ball once in their own square and then toward another person.
3. After that each player must bounce the ball towards another player. The ball must touch in the receiving players square and be returned to another player before it bounces a second time.
4. Continue play until the ball bounces a second time before being returned, or bounces out of bounds. The last person to touch a dead ball is "out". They move down to the number 4 square and everyone fills in behind them, moving up to the next available spot.
5. The point of the game is to make it up to the number 1 spot and stay there as long as possible. You can play as long as you want!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bits of Blossoms

Just putting a plug in for my friend's etsy shop! She sells cute headbands for mom and baby. You can even go matchy-matchy if you want! The shop is called Bits of Blossoms you can also do custom orders on her website she has some really cute stuff. Check it out!

By the way, I am willing to put your Etsy shop on this website if you want! Let me know if youw ant some free advertising!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Magnet/Flannel Board Images

Looking for good pictures for Family Home Evening lessons, church lessons, or quiet books? Here is a link for all sorts of pictures for lessons and stories.

Flannel Board Stories

I think flannel boards are hard, but I am going to print off these pictures, laminate them and attach magnets on the back. That way I can just use a cookie sheet as the board to put pictures on. I want to get a small cookie sheet to take to church so the kids can play with these pictures during Sacrament Meeting.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kids That Sing

I really want kids that sing. Whether or not they can carry a tune in a bucket is besides the point. I just want them to feel comfortable opening their mouths and belting out their heart and soul. Singing is a form of expression and it always makes me a little sad to see kids who don't feel comfortable singing, just barely opening their lips and mouthing the words. So here are some ideas to turn your kids into singers.

Play lots of music in your home. Add variety, some classical, some kids music, some popular music.

Sing out loud! Your kids will sing more if you are comfortable with singing. Don't be afraid to really get into your favorite song.

Sing children's songs together. My kids love it when I sing "John-Jacob-Jingle-Heimer-Shmitt" to them in the bath. There are plenty of fun kids songs to sing whenever. Itsy-Bitsy-Spider, Mary Had a Little Lamb, You are My Sunshine, etc.

Be silly! Have fun singing in silly voices. Try an opera singer, a robot, a cowboy, whatever.

Enjoy a good musical together. What kid doesn't want to sing after watching "Annie"?

There's a starting point. Have fun singing!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Pandora Station for Kids

I love Pandora.com, and they have some great stations for children's music. The kids love the music and I don't get sick of the same songs over and over again. It has also introduced our family to some kids' music that we never would have known about.

Go to pandora.com and click on genre stations. Select "Family". There you will find Toddler radio, Lullabye Radio, and Children's Folk Songs. All great stations.

I haven't checked out the "tween" station, but it is probably pretty good as well.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Bubble Art

I heard this idea from another mother a few days ago, and I thought is was so good that I wanted to post it here.

Hang a big piece of butcher paper or poster board somewhere outside, on a fence or a clothesline. Blow colored bubbles onto the paper so that they pop and leave a little bit of "paint". Have fun making a piece of abstract art!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Body-Image, Beauty and our Daughters: A few thoughts

I had an interesting and sad conversation yesterday with a few other mothers. We were discussing how their daughters only in preschool and first grade were already coming home with disturbing ideas about being beautiful and living up to their peers expectations of beauty, as well as a disturbing trend in the kindergarteners to discuss calories and diets. One mother then asked "How do I raise a confident daughter?"

That is the question I would like to address today. I am not going to pretend to have all the answers, because I think every one needs to work with their own personal situation and find what is right for them, but I do have a few ideas and some resources for you to go to and get more ideas.

First things first. If you want your daughter to be confident in herself then give her a good role model! You daughter will adopt your attitudes about your own body image faster than you know. Those kindergarteners were only parroting ideas heard from their mothers. They don't actually understand calories and dieting! Take an inventory of how you feel about yourself and what you say about yourself. Then start with the easy step; stop saying demeaning things about your body. After that you can tackle the hard part and stop thinking negative things about your body.

Second. Get rid of the scale!! Or at least hide it away and only weight yourself every now and then. Reinforce the idea that weight is only a number and what is more important is overall health and how you feel.

Third, Dump the fashion magazines! Studies show that after only 15-30 minutes of flipping though one, women show significantly decreased body-image and self esteem. I would also advise keeping an eye on your teenage daughters television viewing as some of the shows today can be as bad as a fashion magazine.

Fourth, talk, talk, talk! If you see something that bothers you about the way our society views women and their bodies, talk to your daughter about these skewed images ideas and why they are wrong.

Need ideas, or don't quite understand where we get our ridiculous ideas about body and beauty from? Check out these resources.

about-face.org This website is dedicated to tackling the subject of body image and especially how it relates to the media. There you will gain the knowledge to identify destructive advertising and how to put into your words when speaking with your daughter what is so wrong about it. They will also teach you how to write a good complaint letter to offending companies. The site also has tons of information and statistics about all sorts of body image issues, including eating disorders, women's health, cosmetic surgery, etc. You will also find an extensive list of reading material if you want even more information.

Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters by Joann Deak
I prefer this book to Reviving Ophelia as it covers the same important topics but is a little less doom and gloom and gives more real-world solutions that you can apply in your own family. I also prefer this book because it doesn't portray the idea that women should feel ashamed of their desires to be a wife or mother. It also is up-front about the differences between boys and girls, with scientific evidence to back it up, and then discusses how to compensate for those differences (like as in spatial relationship skills with girls and reading, writing skills with boys).

Packaging Girlhood by Sharon Lamb and Lyn Mikel Brown
This book makes you take a long, hard look at the messages being sent to your daughter through everything around her. From the music she listens to, the shows she watches, to the toys being sold to her. You dn't have to agree with everything they say, but they do give good advice about discussing with your daughter the contradictory messages being sent her way.

Check out this presentation on the subject matter for a quick 30 minute intro!

Killing Us Softly Part 1
Killing Us Softly Part 2


Killing Us Softly Part 3

Monday, May 23, 2011

Loving Service

Thought for the day from The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman, Ph.D and Ross Campbell, M.D.


"Because service to a child is constant for so many years, and takes place in and around so many other obligations, parents can forget that the daily and mundane acts they perform are expressions of love with long-term effects. At times they can even feel more like slaves than loving servants, put upon by spouse, children, and others. However, if they assume this attitude, it will communicate itself emotionally to the child, who will feel that he is receiving little love from the acts of service.
Loving service is not slavery, as some fear. Slavery is imposed from the outside and is done with reluctance. Loving service is an internally motivated desire to give one's energy to others. Loving service is a gift, not a necessity, and is done freely, not under coercion. When parents serve their children with a spirit of resentment and bitterness, a child's physical needs may be met, but his emotional development will be greatly hampered.
Because service is so daily, even the best parents need to stop for an attitude check now and then, to be sure that their acts of service are communicating love."


For more, check out this fantastic book. The Five Love Languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Soft Chicken Tacos

This is an easy, affordable, and delicious meal that is good for any night (even the busy ones)!

Ingredients

2-3 Chicken Breasts, cubed
1 TBS oil
1 can Black Beans, drained and rinsed
2 TBS taco seasoning
1 can salsa
tortillas
Tomato, chopped
Avocado, chopped
Shredded Cheese

Heat oil in pan and add chicken. Cook until chicken is no longer pink inside. Add beans, taco seasoning, and salsa. Heat through. Serve on warmed tortillas and add tomato, avocado, and cheese as desired. Roll up like a burrito and eat!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

A Box of Kleenex

Never underestimate the power of a Box of Kleenex on a baby or young toddler! I like to buy several of the $1.00 boxes at Walmart and hand them off the the kiddos when I need some extra time. I guess it is a wasteful activity, but pulling out Kleenex after Kleenex can keep Big M happily entertained for 15 minutes at a time. If I use that time wisely I can get a lot done in that 15 minutes!

Friday, May 20, 2011

How to Make a Tutu

Every little girl loves a tutu and whether you want one for a photo shoot, Halloween, or just the dress up box they are very easy and affordable to whip up.

You will need:

measuring tapeelastic I use anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" wide elastic. Use thinner elastic for younger babies.
scissors
tulle I like to buy my tulle at tullesource.com you can get it on a roll there which makes cutting a lot easier. I don't recommend doing this kind of tutu with tulle straight off the bolt, the cutting is a pain in the neck! When I buy the tulle on a roll I either get 6" width, and cut it in half as I go, or 3" width and leave it that way.
sewing machine or safety pin

1. Measure around your child's waist and then measure from waist to wherever you want the tutu to hit (knees, shins, etc.)
2. Subtract 1.5-2 inches from the waist measurement and cut you elastic to this length.
3. Sew the ends of your elastic together, being sure to reinforce the seam with by going backward and forward on the machine a few times, or pin the ends together with the safety pin if you don't want to sew.
4. Double your length measurement and cut your tulle into strips of this length
5. Now tie your tulle onto the elastic waistband. I usually tie on two or three pieces at a time for a fuller tutu.
Note: there are two kind of knots you can use, one is a square knot which I prefer as I feel it allows for a fuller tutu. The other knot is kind of a slip knot where you fold the tulle in half, bring the tulle behind the elastic and bend over the top of the elastic. Draw the two ends of the tulle up through the loop created by the fold and then pull the ends to tighten around the elastic. This kind of knot lays a little flatter than the square knot, but it is bulkier so you can't get as much tulle on the elastic.
6. Continue to add tulle until your tutu achieves desired fullness

**If you want a multicolored tutu, experiment with the color ratios. You may need to use a 2:1 ratio for some color mixes in order to achieve the right balance.
**For a Layered Tutu, cut one color of tulle shorter than the other and tie onto the tutu, always being sure that the shorter tulle is lined up on top of the longer tulle
**Decorate your tulle by hot gluing on flowers or tying satin ribbon into the tutu

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Let's Play Marbles!



Do you know how to play marbles? I bet your kids will love this forgotten game.

You will need:

chalk or string

marbles (make sure to have at least one "shooter" which is larger than the other marbles)

1. Draw a circle 2-3 feet wide using chalk or a string.

2. Set all marbles except shooters inside the circle.

3. Try to knock the marbles out of the circle using the larger "shooter" marble.

4. Try and hit the marbles inside the ring by kneeling outside the circle and flicking your marble out of your fist with your thumb.

5. If you hit a marble out of the circle, shoot again. If not, it is the next person's turn.

6. Continue play until all of the marble's have been knocked out of the circle.

7. Keep the marbles you knock out, the person with the most at the end is the winner!

You can play for "keepsies", which means you get to keep the marbles you win, but younger children might not enjoy that very much.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Hat Game

This game is a lot of fun for young babies and toddlers. If you have a young baby put them in the center of the circle. Once they get a little older they can have fun putting on and taking off the hats as well.

Collect all the hats in your house (or at least a good number of them if you happen to collect hats)
Have everyone sit in a circle and put on a hat. Yell "Switch!", you can either pass the hats around the circle or all throw your hats in to the pile and grab another one.

That's it! I know it sounds simple, but young toddlers and babies love seeing their family members in different hats, especially silly ones!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Interesting Thing Box

I am putting together a travel box for my Big M. He will be 11 months when we move, and he is very curious. He loves to check out all sorts of new things. New textures are especially stimulating, as well as bright colors, and things that make neat sounds when banged together.

I want to make an "interesting things" box, so that I can just pull out one item, let him check it out and then trade him out when he gets bored and rotate through. However, I need lots of ideas of easy, relatively clean, and cheap things to put in the box.

So far I have the following

empty soup cans
beaded necklaces
blocks
magazine
box of Kleenex
elastic
pipe cleaners
something with velcro (dont know what yet)
mirror

What else would you put in?

Tocqueville And The Tube

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/267390/tocqueville-and-tube-Ben-Berger?page=1

This is a great article to help us rethink our television viewing habits. Please don't read it and feel guilty, just read it for the information and to decide what your TV rules will be.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Plate Dancing

Miss J learned this at her GG's house and has loved doing it ever since. It is a great way to get your kids moving when they can't go outside. I give each child two paper plates and then turn on some fun dancing music and we dance while doing fun patterns with the plates. It is a good way to do some structured exercise and teach movement and control. I dont know why the plates make a difference, but they definitely do!

Staying Close to Family

My husband and I have never really lived close to family and now we are moving even farther away. I have been trying to think of good ways for the kids to stay close to grandparents and cousins. Of course regular visits are essential, but there are also some fun things that you can do inbetween the visits.

Some of my ideas were to set up Skype Dates with grandparents and/or cousins. Why not start a penpal relationship between cousins. Kids love to get mail and sending letters to cousins will help forge a closeness and common ground for those visits. What about care packages? I haven't decided what exactly I would put in a cousin care package, but this could be fun too.

What are some of your ideas to keep family close despite the miles?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Talking With Toddlers


Alright folks, it is another gem of knowledge I found in Malcolm Gladwell's "The Tipping Point". In one chapter he is speaking of the success of Sesame Street and Blue's Clues. Gladwell writes about how literal toddlers are, which I think we all realize. A toddler does not understand puns, sarcasm, or word play.

Gladwell then goes on to talk about the way toddlers understand language. He calls it "exclusivity". This means that while toddlers are still learning to speak and learning a lot of the basics, they don't understand how something can have two names. Gladwell uses the example of trees. Your toddler can identify a tree, but if you then tell your toddler that this tree is an oak, they will be lost.

This exclusivity actually works really well when trying to learn language. If your toddler knows what an apple is, and then hears you also refer to it as red, the child will realize that this must be in reference to some other quality of the apple. You may later refer to the apple as round, and your child will realize that this word means something other than the item, or the color.

I have been trying to keep these thoughts in mind when I speak to my children, who are still in the exclusivity phase. When we go to the aquarium, instead of trying to name all the different types of fish, I just point to the fish and call them by their colors. "Red fish, orange fish" etc. I do the same with the bears, "white bear", "black bear". Once we get the hang of colors, we will move on to other adjectives and learn those. Perhaps you can use this idea to teach opposites, sizes, shapes, whatever you want!

Soon, your toddlers will be able to understand that sometimes there can be two different names for things (like understanding that mom has a name, or that there are certain species of bears). I don't know when this change usually happens, but as mothers we are pretty in tune with our children, and they will probably let us know when they are ready to talk about the different species of penguin!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Cheap Easter Egg fun

This morning, we had eggs for breakfast. But, they were no ordinary eggs. They were plastic Easter eggs (for 5 cents at wal-mart on clearance, the bigger ones). I filled the Easter eggs full of different kinds of cereal. Then I let my boys choose a couple of different eggs and 'crack' them open into their bowl. They had fun seeing what kind of cereal they got. And they didn't even mind that it was mixed together. We had so much fun doing that, we decided to pack James a lunch in eggs. We put chicken casserole, some cheetos, apple crisp, and even some Sprite (in a plastic bag) into eggs and gave him a note that said something about being an 'egg'septional dad. It was a blast, although James thought it was a little gross. Oh well. I think next year, we'll have our family Easter egg hunt in the morning and I'll do cereal in most of the eggs. That way the children can eat all the food they get, but they don't have to be loaded down with sugar or keep candy stashed away for weeks.

Fruit Freeze

The other day, I gave each of my boys a cook book to help choose out something for dinner. Andrew chose "Fruit Freeze." We ended up having it for dessert, and it was delicious! Here it is:

Throw into a blender the following:
1 grapefruit, peeled and skinned (this made for a fun 'disecting' exercise)
2 oranges, peeled
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/4 c. sugar
1 can pineapple

Blend in the blender for 10 seconds, then put into a bowl and freeze. Then a few minutes before wanting to eat, take out and pour Sprite over it, and chop up the slush. YUM!

(this recipe is modified from the Betty Crocker cook book)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tasty Easy Meal!!!

I just made the best Breakfast sandwich. We ate it for dinner. It was so easy all you need is:

2 leftover pancakes
1 egg
2 TBLS maple syrup
1 slice ham
1 slice cheese

Put pancakes in toaster, Fry the egg to desired firmness, Warm ham while egg is frying.
Place egg on one pancake, pour one TBLS of the syrup onto egg, place ham and cheese on top of that, put the last of the syrup on that, top with the other pancake....we put ours in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt the cheese.
This was so good, so filling, and satisfying.
If you don't have leftover pancakes, it doesn't take much time to cook up pancakes for this meal...I made extra pancakes tonight so we can have this for breakfast tomorrow!!!

Chicken Breast Paillard With Grilled Romaine

I got this recipe out the Better Homes and Garden's Grilling Magazine. I love grilling. It is so easy to make something tasty for you and your husband and throw on a burger or hot dog for the kids if they don't like what you made.

I would say this recipe is a little more "grown-up" in taste. I would suggest serving your kids unmarinated or bar-b-q chicken breasts. The grilled romaine was actually really tasty! Who would've thought?

You will need:
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 TBS minced shallots (I used 1 tsp of minced garlic)
1 TBS Dijon-style mustard
1/4 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 TBS snipped fresh tarragon (I used 1 tsp. dried)
4 chicken breasts
2 heads romaine lettuce, halved lengthwise
nonstick cooking spray
Salt
Pepper
Parmesan Cheese

1. Make the vinaigrette by whisking together lemon juice, shallots/garlic, mustard, sugar, and salt. Slowly add olive oil, whisking until combined. Stir in pepper and tarragon.
2. Flatten each chicken breast to 1/4 inch thick. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag. Add half of the vinaigrette. Seal bag, turn to coat chicken. Marinate in fridge for 1 hour.
3. Drain Chicken and discard marinade. For a charcoal grill, grill on a greased rack of an uncovered grill directly over medium coals for 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink, turning once. Coat the cut side of each romaine piece with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Grill romaine, cut side down, about 2 minutes or until edges char. If you are using a gas grill, preheat and reduce heat to medium, and then grill as above.
4. Place chicken and romaine cut side up, on a plate. Drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and top with parmesan cheese.

Help!! I'm Moving With Children

Ladies, I need all the advice you can give me on moving with children. How do I pack, when they want to "help"? How do I ease the transition? Ideas for fun car games would be appreciated too. Please leave your advice in the comments.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

The Five Love Languages




Studies show that one of the greatest indicators in the happiness of a child is whether or not their parents have a healthy marriage. This means that we are more likely to reap the fruit of our mothering labors if we are sure to focus on our marriage. So with this in mind I would like to introduce you to "The Five Love Languages" by Dr. Gary Chapman.

The Five Love Languages is a fantastic book that I would recommend to everyone. The basic premise is that everyone receives love in one of five basid "languages". These basic languages are:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Receiving Gifts

Acts of Service

Physical Touch

Communicating your love to your spouse in his or her love language and helping them communicate in your love language can have an amazing effect on your marriage. This book can help rescue marriages on the brink with this concept as well as just deepen an already healthy bond between husband and wife. Rob and I use the terms in this book to keep tabs on how we are doing with eachother and it really helps out a lot!

I think reading the book is your best bet, however, you can go to 5lovelanguages.com and get a healthy dose of the advice there too. At the website you will find a discussion guide anda profile to help you discover your love language and your spouses. I have also put their widget on the sidebar of this blog.

Read the book, check out the website, just start today! Let's be good mothers by making sure our marriage is in good shape!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Consignment Shopping

I suppose the fancy term for consignment shopping is "boutiquing".

If you are like me, you agree that kids clothes are way too expensive. You know they are going to be stained within minutes of being worn for the first time, and they will probably not fit in a few months. Thus, my love for kids consignment shops. I have a favorite here where we live now. Most of my kids' clothes were bought there for super cheap! But now we are moving far away. Will there be another great consignment store where we are going? Will I have to start buying kids clothes at regular price? *shudder* I hope not.

I found this great website that lists consignment stores all over the country. Not just kids consignment stores either, but also jewelry, furniture, decor, etc. They also list seasonal consignment sales, give tips on selling your stuff to consignment stores and even help you start your own consignment sale.

The website is consignmentmommies.com and if you are anything like me you will go for the sales and get hooked by all the articles about thrifty shopping! Happy 'Boutiquing'!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Turkey Wraps



These are great for lunch or dinner, I've also made them for football games.



8 oz cream cheese with chives
2 TBS dijon mustard
6 whole wheat tortillas (8 in)
shredded lettuce
12 slices deli turkey
3/4 cup shredded swiss cheese
1 tomato diced
1 avocado diced
6 slices cooked bacon, crumbled

Mix cream cheese and mustard. Spread about 2 TBS cream cheese mixture onto tortillas to within 1/4 inch of the edge.

Add about 1/4 cup lettuce on top of tortilla and press into cream cheese. Place two turkey slices over lettuce. Sprinkle with 2 TBS of swiss cheese. Then add some tomato, avocado, and bacon. I find it is easiest to roll up if you put all the tomato, avocado, and bacon on one end of the tortilla. Roll up, and enjoy!

To Be: Nice

So I know this is late. We had Family Home Evening on Monday, but here was our basic layout, and it was very short to keep with attention spans.

The subject was being nice.

Song: I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus
Prayer
Scripture Story: Jesus heals the blind man by the pool
Game: We practiced doing things nicely. First we would do them meanly, and then nicely. We practiced walking, touching, dancing, etc.
Treats: We all pitched in (because that is nice) and helped make chocolate chip cookies.

There you go! Instant FHE!

Malcolm Gladwell Books

These books are for mom! Many of you have probably already read Malcolm Gladwell, but he is too goo not to recommend on this blog. I have already spoken about one thing I learned in his book "Tipping Point" and I have learned even more since that post. Some of it I can apply to family, but most of it is just plain interesting and brain boosting!

Malcolm Gladwell has written "Outliers", "Tipping Point", and "Blink". He also wrote for the New Yorker and you can find a compilation of his articles in the book, "What the Dog Saw".

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Paper Cup Phones

Paper cup phones are a classic kids activity.
You will need

2 paper cups
two paperclips
inelastic string, thread, or fishing line
a pencil or sewing needle

Punch a hole into the bottom of each paper cup using the pencil or needle, thread your inelstic string through the hole in each cup (one cup on each end of the string) and secure to a paperclip inside the cup. This keeps the string from falling out of the cup. To use draw the string taut. One person speaks into the cup the other person put their ear to the cup and listens. Instant fun!

Do you have older kids who want to understand the science behind this?

Sound travels as a wave. Though technically not the same kind of waves, you can illustrate the idea of waves travelling through a medium with water ripples or by taking a jump rope and having one person hold still at the end while you make a wave travel from one end to the other by jiggling the handle. ***Technically, a sound wave is a compression wave (water ripples are circular waves, and jump rope waves are longitudinal waves). A compression wave can be illustrated using a slinky stretched out across the floor, shove one end back and forth and watch the compression move from one end to the other.***

A sound wave has to travel through something because sound is a vibration and has to pass from particle to particle. This is why there is no sound in space (contrary to sci-fi shows) Sound can not travel in outer space because there is no air, there is nothing but empty space, so the sound doesn't go anywhere.

Sound can travel well enough through air, but it travels even better along a solid. This is why you can whisper into a cup phone and the sound will be heard at a greater distance away than possible without the phones. When you speak into the cup, the bottom of the cup vibrates with the sound, these vibrations (or sound waves if you like) are then passed on to the string which vibrates (if held taut) all the way to the other cup. The string passes the vibration off to the bottom of the cup which then vibrates the same way the first cup did, thus transmitting the sound from one person to another.

Once again, in order for this to work the string must be pulled tight and really shouldn't be touching anything other than the cups.

See, science can be fun!

Want to turn it into an experiment? Try different kinds of thread or string, some elastic, some inelastic. Which transmit the sound the best? Hold the string limp and then tight, which works best? Try tying another cup phone onto the string, does it work?

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Broken Windows Theory

I have been reading "Tipping Point" by Malcolm Gladwell. He just discussed Broken Windows Theory.

Broken Windows Theory suggests that people's actions are directly affected by the messages we receive from our environment. Broken windown and graffiti send the message that law enforcement is lax, and nobody cares about a neighborhood. These messages tend to reinforce attitudes that lead to vandalism and continue through the spectrum to more and more violent crime. New York City used this theory to clean up their subway system in seemingly small ways, like never allowing a graffitied train on the tracks, and in turn dramatically lowered their crime rate, even during an economic downturn.

The idea that our environment dramatically affects our attitudes and actions had me thinking about my own home. What messages are being communicated in my home environment, and what affect is it having on my family's actions? In addition, I have also been pondering what small changes in my home environment to produce a desired effect in my children's behaviors and growth?

First, I think we need to decide what we want our home to be like and what we want for our children. One thing I want is for my children to love to learn and use their imaginations. To foster an environment that promotes learning and creating I decided to make a small change. We bought an entertainment center with doors that close over the TV so you can't see it. When closed, it looks like an armoire. We have only had it up for a day, I am hoping that when the TV is out of sight we will be more likely to do other things with our time. I'll let you know how it goes.

Do you want your house to be more ordered and less chaotic? Maybe installing a key and mail holder or a place for the shoes to always be kept can be the beginning of other small changes that will gradually lead to more order and less chaos. Perhaps you want children who are aware of the world around them, why not put a globe or large world map prominently displayed in the family room or play room?

Now I want your ideas. Think of what outcomes you want in your home and family. Then think of one or two small changes in your home environment that will lend to that change of attitudes or actions.

I really want to hear your ideas!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

FOSTERING CREATIVITY

The definition of "Creativity": the ability to improve. I like that. So many times I judge creativity as the ability to sew, toll paint, or do other crafty things. While all of these are parts of creativity, it encompasses so much more.

First I think all people want to improve...improve themselves, their surroundings, relationships, community and many other things. I think that is why we are drawn to the creative process. Our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ are the ultimate creators. We are children of God, so we have inherited this ability and desire to create or make things better.
So have our children...I often wonder what makes the natural creativity that children are born with sometimes wither and die. I wonder if we as Mothers nurtured this ability and process more and expanded our definition of creativity, if our children would be happier children and adults.

We need to remember that we can be creative in art, music, writing, problem solving, but also in movement, cooking, learning styles, imagination, science, play, and many other ways. We need to encourage our children in all areas they are being creative. Whether they are drawing or trying a science experiment. We should never pass judgement, let the child be free to explore his creative styles and processes. Often times we want to step in and show children how to do things correctly.

Now don't get me wrong, all children need direction and need to taught the correct way to do
things..but I have found that I save their self-esteem if I teach them in a controlled, scheduled way.
For example I know children love to draw, and they love to be able to draw pictures that others can identify what was drawn, so I give my little ones "drawing lessons". During the summer months or before the kids go to school, I will lead them through a lesson on how to draw simple things. This acti
vity fosters their creativity and esteem...they love being taught, and the finished product. They are then free to use this knowledge the next time they are independently drawing. I would never step in while they are in the middle of a picture and show them how to draw whatever they are creating. I have seen this happen and every time the child quickly gives the picture and experience up.
Being truly creative in music requires lessons, cooking requires a basic recipe, ballet requires the knowledge of the steps... the process is the same for all areas. You must gain knowledge either by trial and error or a controlled lesson.

There are so many ways we can encourage creativity. We need to give our children time to be creative. We should not over schedule our children with lessons, or sports. Non-structured play is a key component to creativity in children. We need to provide plenty of materials for creativity. Each day I try to put out play dough, or paper and markers, paint, construction paper, tape and scissors...no direction just let the children create. Having good music in the air helps with creativity.
Plenty of outside play also stimulates creativity. Showing and explaining the world around our children fosters creativity. Take your little ones to museums, national monuments, libraries, concerts, plays, etc. and explain what is going on....I have found that a small amount of time on the Internet showing things and places I don't have access to is a great way to stimulate creativity and vocabulary. Read to your children!!! Have your kids with you while you go about your daily activities, it will expand their world and ultimately their creativity.

I also feel their are certain things we do that are a disservice to our children's creativity. Too much TV, video games, and computer time should be avoided.

According to several studies, Children who have been allowed to develop creativity are generally good students, better problem solvers, have more self confidence and are happy.

I hope all of us will try to always foster creativity in our children and ourselves!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Caramel Pound Cake



We had this cake at book club last night and it was wonderful. So by popular demand, here is the recipe!


Caramel Pound Cake

2 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans

Caramel Frosting


1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour a 10 in. tube pan
2. To make cake, Cream butter, shortening, brown sugar, and white sugar. Add eggs one at a time and mix well after each addition. Stir in vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl mix flour and baking powder. Add flour mixture and milk alternatingly, mixing between each addition. Leave about 1/2 cup of flour in the bowl and stir in pecans. Fold pecan and flour mixture into batter. Pour into prepared pan.

4. Bake for 60-90 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let stand in pan 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.

5. To make frosting: In a small saucepan, beat sugars, butter, and evaporated milk. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Stir at a rolling boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Add vanilla. Let cool. Beat until thickened, add more milk if too thick. Spread on cake.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mother Education

I had the immense pleasure of watching my 2nd Daughter and her new husband graduate from college this last weekend! I was so proud and so full of emotion. I couldn't help thinking about the little girl Darci had been. I thought about how hard of a 2 year old she was, I thought about how hard she worked on her studies all her life. I thought about all the tennis matches, young women's camps, piano recitals, band concerts, and other events that Darci was in. I remembered how shy she was, and how she has always been so soft spoken. It is wonderful to see your child grow-up...I always love seeing the progress and learning....And that got me thinking about how much learning I have attained since becoming a Mother.
I do not have a college degree, but feel I am very educated. I am an expert in the kitchen. I have not always been, but since becoming a Mother I have learned. Like so many of the things I have learned to do since becoming a Mother....most has come from necessity. I have had to learn how to manage money, shop smart, garage sale, mend clothes, and make cute birthday cakes all because we did not have a lot of money. I have learned to sew, crochet, cross stitch, toll paint and other crafty things so I could decorate my home. (I am terrible but I do know how to do them).
But even more than all the home management and homemaking things I have learned over the years, my children have given me the opportunity to learn so many other things.
Through a multitude of school projects, I know more than the average person about polar bears, raccoons, med-evil midwifery, black smithing, Egypt and many other things. Having my sons in Scouting has taught me A LOT about camping, cooking outdoors, and survival skills, not to mention all the merit badges that I have helped with.
The most enjoyable parts of my "education" has been what I have learned because I wanted to. I have had time to learn since I am home. I have been able to learn photography skills, I know so much about history and politics just from reading. I have learned how to garden, and from that how to properly preserve and store food. I know a multitude of finger plays, nursery rhymes and wonderful children's literature and music.
Due to the challenges all mothers face with their children I have had to learn many skills..from dog-traing,and simple home doctoring, to advocating for and knowing the law to help my learning disabled son.
From all the books, classes, and trial and error, I am an expert in Child Development and Child Rearing.
Being a Mother has stretched me much farther than any other "career" I could have chosen.
I hear too often that many Mothers who stay at home feel like their brains are turning into peanut butter. That they are bored and can't remember who they are. All I have to say to that type of thinking is, GO LEARN SOMETHING NEW!!! Don't be afraid of failure. Too many women won't try something for fear of failing, wasting materials, or lack of the skill. My advice is to just jump in with both feet!! I can't tell you how many times I have messed up before getting it right. I still mess up a recipe, picture or part of my garden every once in a while...but I always learn something from my mistakes. Don't give up.
We are on this earth to learn...and being a Mother is a fantastic way to go about it!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Garlic Deviled Eggs




Looking for something tasty to do with all those Easter eggs? This deviled egg recipe is delicious!


6 Hardboiled eggs

1/3 cup mayo

1/2 tsp. mustard

2 green onions with tops, chopped

1 garlic clove minced

1/8 tsp. salt


Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out yolk. Lay whites aside on a tray. In a bowl, combine yolks and all other ingredients. Mix. Spoon mixture into plastic baggie or a cake decorating bag. cut an opening in the corner. Squeeze the mixture into the empty egg whites. Sprinkle with paprika.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Artsy Pizza



A child's experience with food can be just as important as the actual eating of the food. Make a child's first experience with a certain food a good one and they are more likely to eat it. I think it is especially important to get your kids involved in the kitchen. When kids know where food comes from, what goes into preparing it, etc, they are more likely to take pride in their food and hopefully eat a little healthier!


Now Pizza isn't something that most kids turn their nose up at...but vegetables can be another story! However, Pizza can be the perfect vehicle for getting some fruits and vegetables into your picky eaters tummy!


Now you can make this as simple as you want, or really play it up and turn your kitchen into a pizzeria complete with dough tossing, red checker tablecloth, menus, use your imagination!


Think of as many toppings as you can (healthy ones preferably), try and get as many different colors on your table as possible. Here are some ideas.


White sauce (Alfredo) Really make it artsy and put paintbrushes in the sauce

Red Sauce (tomato)

tomato chunks

pineapple

mushroom

pepperoni/bacon/sausage/chicken/or make it a meatless meal!

cheese (white and yellow)

peppers, get one in every color!

red onions

olives

Spinach*

Broccoli*

cauliflower*

peas*

corn*

carrots*
* You may want to steam these before putting them on a pizza


For the crust I like to use premade Pillsbury stuff or Rhode's rolls, but if you want to make your own more power to ya! I also like to bake my dough for about half the suggested time before putting toppings on them, it keeps them crunchier.


Now give each kid their "canvas". Tell them to use the ingredients on the table to make a work of art (word it however you want). Sit around the table and talk about what each of you are making. Family dinners are about more than just shoveling food into our mouths. Have a conversation!


Stick the pizzas on a cookie sheet, put it in the oven and bake!


Will this be messy? Yes! Will it be fun? Yes!


Bon Appetit!