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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

How NOT to train a child

The ear-splitting shrieks caught my attention as I glanced over at the table where a young family was eating dinner in the restaurant.  I watched the interaction between the father and the toddler (surreptitiously, of course) and wondered if the dad realized what he was doing.  The little guy was drinking from a sippy cup and the dad grabbed the cup and took it away from him.  The result was instant (and loud!) prolonged shrieking.  After a minute or so, the dad gave the cup back to his son.  The son quieted down until dear old dad did the same thing, over and over again.  The little boy wasn't laughing - he was mad!  He wanted his cup!

The dad thought it was great fun making his little boy scream and shriek but what he was really doing was teaching his son that if you want something, all you have to do is scream and you'll get it.  Is this what he REALLY wants to teach?

Usually as parents we want to reinforce GOOD behavior and not bad.  All I can say is good luck to this clueless dad!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

What's Cooking? Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew Squares

Today I found the most amazing, delicious recipe!  It is a copy-cat recipe for KIND bars - chewy, slightly sweet, nutty and packed with protein!  You can find the original on the blog  The directions are super clear and the blogger (Monica) has recipes for eight different varieties.

I need to bring a "healthy" treat to an activity tonight so I thought I'd try these bars.  I had most of the ingredients and played around with substituting those I didn't have.  The results were better than I hoped for!  I cut them into squares for the activity...smaller, bite-sized pieces are better than large, substantial bars.

Here's my adapted recipe for Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew bars/squares -

  • 2 cups whole unsalted almonds, coursely chopped (I used my VitaMix)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted cashew pieces
  • Combine nuts and spread onto cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour into large bowl.

  • 1/2 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup craisins, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
  • 1 tablespoon flaxseed 
  • Add these to bowl with nuts.
  • In 2 quart sauce pan mix the following-
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • Cook over medium high heat until a candy thermometer reaches 260 degrees.  
  • Remove from heat and  pour over nut and fruit mixture.  Stir quickly and thoroughly.
  • Scrape mixture into greased 9x13 pan and press down firmly so the mixture is tightly packed.
  • Wait about 15 minutes.  Turn upside down onto cutting board and cut into bars or squares.
  • Drizzle with chocolate (The recipe says optional but I say necessary!)
    Needs chocolate!

  • FOR CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (optional) -
  • 1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Combine chocolate chips and oil in Ziploc quart freezer bag.  Microwave in 20 second increments (for a total of about 1 minute), kneading and mixing chips after each 20 seconds until thoroughly melted.
  • Snip off tiny corner of bag and drizzle chocolate over bars/squares.  
  • When chocolate has set, eat! 

Melting chocolate in a baggie is so much easier than in a bowl!  Less clean-up afterwards too!
For variations as well as very helpful tips and photographs, I hope you check out Monica's wonderful  blog!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Sometime between the Easter egg hunt and the traditional ham dinner with the family, I hope we all take a moment and remember what today's holiday commemorates...the resurrection of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for each one of us.  For this I am truly grateful.  Happy Easter!

Friday, April 18, 2014

To enrich their lives

We all want to provide opportunities that enrich our children's lives.  For most people, that brings to mind trips to Europe and other exotic places, expensive lessons and organized experiences, and the best schools that money can buy.  What if your economic situation doesn't allow for such expenses? Are your children doomed to mediocrity?  Of course not!

To enrich means to make something better or to improve or enhance the quality of something.  With that definition in mind, every family is capable of providing enriching activities for their children.  You don't even need to leave your community to find quality activities and experiences to enrich and improve your family. 

With that mindset, you can see the value of everyday experiences.  Learning new skills will definitely enrich your child's life.  Even things like cooking, sewing, housework, home and yard maintenance, car maintenance, money management, and other mundane skills are vital for your children to know in order to be productive, self-sufficient adults.  Does that fit the definition of enrich?  I think so.

Gardening is a wonderful activity for children
How about researching free or inexpensive locations to visit and explore that are within 2 hours of your home?  Enriching?  Absolutely!  I've lived an hour from Seattle, WA for 15 years and had never explored some of the famous sites of Seattle.  What adventures I've missed!  It's so ingrained in us that to have fun we have to travel a great distance or spend great amounts of money.  It just isn't true.

A ferry trip in Seattle
Hiking and exploring
And what about using the resources available to you to provide good music in your home and develop new hobbies?  The computer is useful for more than just games and social media  :)  Try using it instead to teach your children how to learn a new skill or hobby.  Fill your home with different types of music.  Introduce your children to the great composers.

Watching an artist at work
Exploring new hobbies
The warm summer months are approaching and with that comes summer vacation for your children.  Maybe you could start now, brainstorming with your kids to plan experiences near home (and AT home) that will enrich their lives.  There is so much literally in your own backyard to discover.  You don't need a vacation to an exotic place to enrich and expand your life and the lives of your children.  What adventures will YOUR family have?

Let's go fly a kite!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Do you know how hard it is to get a "perfect" family picture?  Impossible!
Repeat after me..."There are no perfect families!"   Doesn't that feel better?   Really though, no family is perfect, just as there are no perfect parents and no perfect children.  We might aim to be perfect in certain areas and might come pretty close but, because we are imperfect people, the most we can do is our best.

It's so easy to compare ourselves and our children with our friends, neighbors and even families on the television.  (Now, THERE'S an unrealistic comparison!).  What we are doing is comparing their best with our worst.  We see well-behaved children at a restaurant or some other public place and wonder why our children are so out-of-control, not knowing that family at all.  We see families who seem to have it all and feel a twinge of jealousy as we compare our circumstances with theirs.

This does us no good at all!  If we're going to compare ourselves with anyone, let it be with ourselves!  We can only change ourselves.  Let's make goals and work on being BETTER parents, better than we have been in the past.  Target problem areas and work on those.  Then we can legitimately compare our "old" self with our new, improved self!  Improvement is the key word.

Comparing ourselves with others only causes discouragement and envy. But...recognizing the need to improve and grow in our own lives and working with our children to learn appropriate skills and behavior is a positive response to the dissatisfaction we feel in our families.  We won't be perfect but we'll be making steps in the right direction!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Making meal planning easier
Menu planning and grocery shopping are not my favorite activities.  I often wish Purina (who makes cat chow, dog chow and other animal feed) would come up with People Chow so I didn't have to worry about planning what to cook.  :)   Not only do we have to plan and make meals, we have to be mindful of nutrition, budget and health.  Purina, where are you?!

Having studied nutrition and worked with families who needed education on planning healthy, inexpensive meals,  I found that the best resource for teaching these things is found on the USDA's website,  This is the latest guideline for health and wellness from the federal government, replacing the My Pyramid program.  Its name come from the visual representation of how the proportion of various types of food should look on your plate.

This website has information, recipes, and tips for planning and preparing healthy meals that are based on different families needs and lifestyles.  They focus on whole grains, fruits and veggies, lean meats and foods that are naturally inexpensive.  Included are charts and calculators for tracking your food input, weight, goals and exercise.  There is even a section for teaching children about food and nutrition which is quite entertaining and fun (well, however fun learning about nutrition is, anyway).   It is quite inclusive! 

I highly recommend this website and hope you take a look at it!  Anything to make the process easier is my type of program!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Stay-at-home moms in the news!

Pure joy!
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal ran an article that made headlines..."More Moms Staying Home, Reversing Decadeslong Decline."  How far our world has come from the time when staying at home with children was the norm, not worthy of a headline in a major newspaper.  According to the article, in 1967, nearly 50% of moms with children under the age of 18 were stay-at-home moms.  Every year since then saw a steady decline until it hit a low in 1999 where only 23% of moms took care of their kids full time.  And now the trend is inching upward a whopping 29% in 2012. 

Why do moms stay home with their children?  Although the article stated that economic factors were the reason for some mothers (loss of job, unable to find employment etc.), the majority of mothers interviewed (85%) said it was a choice they made.  They WANTED to be home and raise their children! 

Personally, I'm glad to hear that most mothers feel that the importance of raising their own children far outweighs the supposed benefits of career and/or financial gain.  You can't put a dollar figure on the contribution you make in the lives of your precious children.  They need you far more than they need "stuff".  They need your time.  They need the stability and security of their home.  They need to know that you are there when they need you. 

There are some mothers who don't have the choice whether to stay home or work outside the home.  Even then, the attitude they convey to their children lets them know where Mommy would rather be if she had the chance. When your first priorities are to your family, you will find that the rewards are worth the time and effort invested in them.

The time you have at home with your children is relatively short.  It might not seem like it, but they do grow up and leave the home and your job raising them will go from full-time to part-time status. At that point, it's a little too late to wish you'd spent more time with them when they were younger. 

Enjoy this time in your life.  Make the most of it!  Be thankful for the blessing of being able to be home with your children.  There is no one else who can provide the love and nurturing that you can.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Chuck and Lilly at it again :)

Story too funny not to share  :)

"Daniel (who is a nurse), brought home some toy viruses and bacteria for his skills week at work. Someone (Daniel, of course!) thought it would be funny to teach the kids the names of said items and let them play with the toys. This morning while dressing Yelly, Lilly runs up to me and yells, "Mom, Chuck won't give me herpes!" The rest of the morning was spent listening to my children saying "I have herpes!" "Look, I'm sitting on herpes!" And so on. For the record no one in my home actually has herpes and I won't be taking my children out in public any time soon...."

Oh, the long-suffering of moms!   :)

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Generation gap?

Ever learning from each other, regardless of age!
Every generation thinks they're unique.  Their problems have never been experienced by previous generations.  They must forge ahead into unknown territory all by themselves.  No one from another generation could possibly understand their trials.

Let's take apart this myth.
First, whatever generation you were born into, is the place in time that you are going to relate to, whatever your age.  Although THE world doesn't revolve around you, YOUR world revolves around you and your current challenges. That doesn't mean that someone a few years older than you didn't experience similar difficulties (and ultimately, get through them!).

Certain stages of life produce fairly predictable trials, difficulties and growth.  These universal stages apply to everyone.  Example - Puberty, establishing family and career, parenthood, old age.  Not many people can get through life without muddling through these (and other) experiences. 

Although external factors might change and produce their own challenges, basic parenting principles  remain constant.  Even during times of war or disaster, mothers still protect their children and try to keep their lives as "normal" as possible.  The basics of life still need to be met.  

When you dismiss the input of your aging parents, grandparents or older moms as "out of touch" or not relevant to today's challenges, you are missing out on a wealth of knowledge and wisdom.  Your parents and other older adults have experienced trials and have lived to tell about it.  They have something you don't have - hindsight.  They have already raised teenagers.  They know what sleepless nights are like.  They dealt with behavior problems, health problems and relationship problems.  You can learn from their successes and mistakes.

Each generation doesn't have to start over from scratch.  Implementing time-tested methods of child raising and making friends with a few slightly older mothers, will help tremendously in raising your children in today's world.  And as moms, we can use all the help we can get!