Foodie Friday: January 2017 Menu

Can you believe it is already December 30? I feel like 2016 went by even faster than 2015 did! So much changed and so much stayed the same for us in 2016. We had our annual emergency room visit, luckily this time it wasn’t for one of the kids! We coordinated Financial Peace University and Legacy Journey. We have just almost paid off all of our non-mortgage debt and we have just almost gotten Sophie potty trained. Zach and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. 2016 was a great year! I cannot wait to see what 2017 has in store for our family.

I also updated my Adobe products and learned how to type my menu on the PDF I love so much! I hope you enjoy it for 2017 menus. My January menu is ready to eat! You can find recipes on the Pinterest Board for January 2017 Menu. I hope you can use some of these ideas to simplify your month of meals!

january-2017-menu-copy

And here is the printable PDF: january-2017-menu

Happy New Year!!

Red Cross Fire Prevention Tips

With Christmas upon us, and cold weather taunting us, I have seen a lot of house fires on the news. Firemen say that house fire events increase every year when the weather turns cold. Here are some great tips from American Red Cross to prevent a house fire.

  1. checkmarkInstall smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas.
  2. checkmarkTest smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries.
  3. checkmarkTalk with all family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year.
  4. checkmarkIf a fire occurs in your home, GET OUT, STAY OUT and CALL FOR HELP. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.

Stay safe and Merry Christmas!

“Perfect” Holidays = Stressful Holidays

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My daughter, Amelia at 2 years old sharing a cookie with her teddy bear.

If you’re anything like me, you have an idea in your head of what the holidays are supposed to look like. In my head, the holidays look like a Pottery Barn Catalog and a Hallmark Channel movie rolled into one. Everything smells like cinnamon and orange peel. And everything sparkles without getting glitter all over the floor… and in my food. My kids are perfect angels, who never fight and don’t ask me a million times who each present is for when I perfectly wrap them early place them under the tree.

The fact is, this is not realistic. I know this. Expecting my holidays to be a Pottery Barn catalog could lead me down a path to a stressful holiday season that is devoid of any fun or joy.

I think it’s normal to see this perfect little picture in my head, but I try really hard to keep myself grounded. When we don’t keep ourselves grounded, and remind ourselves that the Hallmark Channel movies are not real, we could miss out on a lot of happiness!

This holiday season, I encourage you to embrace your messes, mishaps, and if you have a toddler, tantrums. I hope you will keep things simple and easy for yourself. I hope you will encourage an attitude of generosity and fun and lightheartedness this season.

I read a blog post earlier today from Florida Extension about starting a holiday tradition to remember the bloopers of holidays past. The author suggested taking photos of holiday disasters to look at for years to come. Not to wallow in the despair of failure, but to laugh at the different things we messed up, or that simply happened to us. You can read her blog post here.

My family has one story in particular that we have remembered and told now and again over the last 17 years. When I was young, we always had a 3 or 4 ft Christmas tree that my mom set up on our hearth. Because it was sitting 2 feet off the ground, it seemed much taller. I knew that we had a 6 foot tree in the attic, and one year begged my mom to rearrange our living room furniture so that we could set up the taller tree. She obliged and we got out that older tree. After years of being stored in the attic with extreme temperatures, the plastic connectors on the artificial tree got brittle. After the tree was fully decorated and we were sitting around admiring how pretty it looked, the plastic in the middle of the tree cracked and gave up on life. In slow motion the top half of our six foot tree fell off the bottom half, and hung there from the twinkle light strand. Ever resourceful, my parents made a splint using a ruler and some duct tape and we got it upright again. My adolescent self cried when this happened, but my mother laughed like I had never heard her laugh before. She still thinks this is the funniest story ever, and I can also laugh about it now.

While I probably won’t be searching out bloopers to etch into my permanent memory, I will try to keep my expectations for the holiday season realistic.

QuickTip Tuesday: Stocking Stuffers

 

My best tips about stocking stuffers are these:

  1. Keep it simple. My kids get a piece of candy, a piece of fruit, a toothbrush, socks and a small toy. I took inspiration from the past, and reading the Little House series with my daughter. Stockings definitely do not need to be the most expensive part of your Christmas shopping, and they are nothing to stress about either.
  2. Go ahead and buy your stuffers now. Trust me. If you haven’t already done it, do it today…. are at the latest this weekend. You do not want to be scurrying around Wal-Mart at 9:00 pm on December 23rd or 24th trying to figure out what’s going in those socks!

Foodie Friday:Ginger Snaps

I make this ginger snap recipe every December. I love these cookies and so do my kids. They are easy and fun to make, and even more fun to eat!

Grandma's Gingersnaps

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and 1 cup white sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg and molasses until well blended. Combine the flour, ginger, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; stir into the molasses mixture to form a dough. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and roll the balls in the colored sugar. Place cookies 2 inches apart onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
  3. Bake for 10 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Parenting with Natural Consequences

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Parents often get tired of telling their children what to do and how to live their lives. Not only does this become overwhelming, but it is also less effective than allowing your child to learn from their experiences and mistakes. Overprotective parents often prevent their children from learning how to bounce back from failure or how to learn to make better choices down the road.  Allowing children to instead experience the natural consequences of their actions teaches how to make choices and be responsible. In essence, they are choosing the consequences of their own decisions.

Natural consequences are the inevitable result of a child’s own actions. It is important that the child is responsible for their own choices and that the consequences not be administered by the parent. You as a parent are simply stepping back and letting their experience the consequence of their actions.  The following are some examples of how these may be implemented:

  • Despite dad’s urging, Susan did not bring her clothes to the laundry room to be washed. As a result, Susan does not have clean clothes to wear to school.
  • Against mom’s warnings, Tim left his favorite toy out where his 2-year-old brother would be able to play with it. Tim’s brother broke the toy while he was trying to play with it. As a result, Tim’s favorite toy is now broken.
  • Mom has repeatedly suggested, John practice the piano each day before his next piano lesson. John refused to practice and instead played video games with his friends. As a result, John was not prepared for his piano lesson, got in trouble by his piano teacher, and was not able to play in an upcoming piano recital.
  • Allow your child to spend his money as soon as he earns it, consequence is that he’ll run out of money and won’t have the money to participate in another activity that comes along later.
  • Allow a 7-year-old to cheat at a board game with his sister, consequence is that his sister won’t play board games with him anymore.

When using natural consequences, it is important to keep the following in mind.

  1. Is the consequence safe? If the consequence is not safe for the child to experience, then it is clearly the parent’s responsibility to intervene and protect their child.  Also, parents need to determine if they are willing to allow the consequence to occur (you may not be willing to let your children ruin their expensive dress shoes out in the mud to teach them a lesson).
  2. Is the consequence age appropriate?  Children under 3 will have a much harder time understanding the consequences of their actions than an older child and will likely need more parental protection from their actions.
  3. Be firm in the consequence.  As long as the consequence is safe and you are willing to let it occur, don’t save your child from experiencing the consequence.  Remember, you are not punishing them.  This is done in a calm environment where you let them experience the consequence of their own choices.
  4. Use Empathy. For parents, empathy is the ability to put themselves in their child’s shoes and then respond accordingly. Using empathy includes: being aware of your child’s emotion, recognizing the emotion as teaching opportunity, listening to and validating your child’s feelings, and helping your child label their emotion.
  5. Help your child problem solve and set limits. Take the time to explain the consequences of your child’s choice and help them think of options on how they can best solve the current situation and chose different positive consequences in the future.
  6. Praise your child when they make good choices.  As soon as a child corrects a behavior and makes a better choice, make sure you reinforce it by praising them for their good choices.

Using natural consequences can be very effective in helping children learn how to make healthy choices and ultimately become more responsible adults.  Likewise, research has shown natural consequences are related with healthier child development and decreased parent child power struggles. The price your child pays today to learn about commitment, decision making, responsibility, and relationships is the cheapest it will ever be.  Today is the time to help your child learn through their experiences before the consequences of their decisions cost too much!