Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How to Pick a Family Movie with Teens and a Younger Child

So, we have had this problem:  How to pick a family movie when you have teens and a 6 year old with widely different tastes!  There are some movies Michael can't watch and the older two definitely don't want to watch Veggie Tales for movie night.  Tera and Daniel have been getting so frustrated, because Michael never wants to watch what they pick and vice versa.  They try to pick things they know he will enjoy, but he feels like he has no choice.  Then, the battle happens! 

We've tried having everyone rotate picking what to watch for movie night.  We've tried having a little kid movie and an older kid movie going on simultaneously in two different locations.  I think we've found our new solution that makes everyone happy while all watching together!

Here's what we did:

1.  First, have each child pick 10-12 movies they would like to watch.  I had to steer Michael away from Veggie Tales and other shorter movies.  I told him those were "episodes" and he could pick those a different time during the week.  

2.  Bring everyone's piles together on the table and have each child pick 2 movies from each stack including their own.  

3.  Put those movies into a list. We use The Hat program.  The first six movies we picked from The Hat are our next 6 weeks of movie nights. 

4.  I divided the other movie choices in half-highlighting some pink and the rest blue.  For extra movie choices, each person picks one from a list.  We put those three choices in The Hat and pick one.   We'll alternate between the pink and blue list. 

When we've exhausted this list, we'll start over again with a new list.  

What's awesome about this?
  • Everyone gets a voice and a choice.
  • Teaches the kids to appreciate another person's choice
  • Picking a movie is no longer a battle of wills.
  • Teaches everyone to compromise
  • By the time the list is made, your choices have all melded together into one.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Raw Apple Crisp

This is my new favorite snack/dessert!

Raw Apple Crisp

1 medium apple
old fashioned oats
sunflower seeds or nuts of your choice
cranberries or raisins

Dice or slice your apple.

Sprinkle on cinnamon.

Top with old fashioned oats, sunflower seeds and cranberries (or raisins)

Drizzle with honey!


Monday, June 8, 2015

8 Kitchen Skills to Teach Your Kids

Confession: When I got married my cooking skills were very limited. How limited? I had a handle on macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, scrambled eggs, ramen noodles and making a grilled cheese with an iron. Once, I even ruined a BOX of brownies! 

Throughout the years, my skills have drastically improved. I'm pretty good in the kitchen now, if I do say so myself. Since I waited until I became an adult to acquire any kitchen skills, I wanted to make sure that didn't happen with my own children. My 14 year old daughter is very accomplished in the kitchen. She cooks all the time! My two boys are not as interested, but it's still important for them to learn the basics.

There are 8 basic kitchen skills that your kids should know:  

1. Safety 

In my opinion, these are the most important rules for safety in the kitchen:  

Washing hands Wash hands before you start! Your kids should also know after touching things that are not food (hair, eyes, face, surfaces), they need to wash their hands again during the food preparation process.  

"Hot glass looks like cold glass!" Always teach your children to touch glass pans with a pot holder when they are cooking.  

Cross-contamination Great lesson plan on teaching this subject. 

Pot handles on a stove are always pointed in! 

Say "Behind you!" or "Coming through-Hot!" when moving around other people in the kitchen.  

2. Measuring  

One of the first skills you should teach is measuring. How to use a measuring cup and spoon are great ways to incorporate younger children into food preparation. 
3. Following a recipe 

Following a recipe is often overlooked. It's a great skill where the benefits extend to other areas of learning. I ruined that box of brownies because I didn't follow the directions. Always start with simple recipes and move to more complicated ones as your child's skills improve. There is nothing you cannot accomplish in the kitchen, if you can read and follow a recipe!  

4. Cracking Eggs 

Oh my! This can be a really messy skill to teach! 

This is what I tell my kids: 
1. When you are first learning, always crack your eggs one at a time into a different bowl. (That way if things go crazy, you can start from scratch.) 
2. Tap the center of the egg on the counter. 
3. Put your thumbs on either side of the cracked part. 
4. Without pushing your thumbs in, grip the egg and pull apart....over a bowl! 

I love this pictorial tutorial of: How to crack an egg 

5. Cutting/Knife Skills 

When to teach cutting skills depends upon the child. I've seen it suggested that the child be at LEAST 5 years old. I personally would never give my 5 year old a chef's knife. At that age, we practice with a butter knife and when ready move onto a steak knife. My 14 year old is very capable with a chef's knife. (Her dad taught her!) 

I love this infographic! 
Teaching various cutting terminology is also important. Kitchen 101: Cutting 

6. Using Kitchen Tools 

Start off gradually and build up to the point where your child can use all your kitchen tools and appliances without injury. Each child is different, so I won't add ages to these groupings. Start with : measuring cups, roller pin, potato masher, garlic press. Move to: whisk, microwave, graters, can openers, stove top Finally: oven, special appliances, food processor, griddle, chef knives  

7. Simple Food Preparation 

My goal by the time my children leave our home is that they will be able to prepare simple meals for themselves and others. They should be able to prepare easy and nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Let your child pick their own recipes!  

8. Cleaning up 

Last, but certainly not least! Never let your children think they can come in the kitchen, make a big mess cooking and leave it for someone else to clean up. One day you won't be around to clean up after their food preparation and they need to learn that skill. This includes: putting back ingredients after use, wiping down counters, washing pots and pans and/or loading the dish washer, and cleaning up any other messes.   

If you are looking for age-appropriate skills, Thirty Handmade Days has a great resource with skills listed by age level.    

If you want your kids to have great kitchen skills, I'll leave you with two pieces of advice:  

Start young! Give age-appropriate skills to your kids when they are very young. 

Practice often! Give lots of opportunities for practice. Forget about the messes and perfect products.

Oh, and don't forget to HAVE FUN!!!!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

VBS 2015

This is our third year to attend the VBS at the First Baptist Church!  To say that it is the highlight of our kids' summer would be an understatement!  

I decided not to follow them around this year snapping pictures.  So, I only got pictures during the sanctuary times.  They had a blast doing crafts, learning about God's love, eating a whole lot of good food, singing/dancing and playing fun games!  Their really good friends came this year, which made the week even more enjoyable!  

Friday, June 5, 2015

Lessons from Mowing

Getting really hot, stinky and dirty gives you a greater appreciation for being able to be clean!

If your mower won't crank no matter how hard you pull, check to make sure the spark plug is connected. 

Drink lots of water!

If your mower dies, you didn't mess it up! It's probably just out of gas. 

Variety is the spice of mowing! Sometimes I mow side to side, other times up and down. Other times I combine the two. It really doesn't change how your lawn looks. (Unless you are one of those people who put checkerboard designs in your lawn. Then, I guess it does matter!) 

Air conditioning is wonderful! 

Don't mow on an empty stomach or a full one!

Mowing first thing in the morning is the best. 

Wet grass is harder to cut. 

Sometimes you have to mow even when your lawn doesn't need it, because it's going to rain for a week. 

Mow the lawn every week--give or take a few days. If you don't, it's BAD! 

The less lawn the better! Edible landscape is the way to go, folks! 

Doing something you hate because it helps someone you love is more important than your dislike of the job.

Cloudy, breezy days are a true blessing! 

There's a huge sense of satisfaction when it's all DONE!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Summer Bucket List

I used to really stress out during the summer.  You see, we don't take big vacations, go to summer camps or join a local pool.  Our summers have always been pretty low-key.  In the past, that would bother me immensely.  I'd spend my time trying to creating DIY fun for our kids and wearing myself out. 

I've gotten wiser over the years and realized that we are low-key people.  We need our down time at home.  I also started asking my kids what they REALLY wanted to do during the summer.  I'm always surprised at the things (or lack of things) they ask to do.

The library's summer reading challenge is on everyone's list.  They have been reading away!  Tera won the first drawing for a $20 Amazon gift card and Daniel is really hoping to win a drawing this year, as well. Michael already earned 2 prizes!   Play dates and friends are a given!


Michael's list:

  • catch fireflies
  • water gun fight
  • water balloon fight

Tera's list:

  • 2 Chess tournaments
  • VBS
  • a couple of summer movies during Carmike's kids series
  • self defense program at the library

Daniel's list:  
His list is shorter, because the other two listed things he wanted to do, too! 
  • visit to the AMSE museum  

My list:

  • participate in the adult summer reading program
  • get my planning for the next school year started
  • chill out and stay up late 

So far, we are checking things off and having a wonderful time!  


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Tips for a Relaxing Beach Vacation

The beach before kids: toes in the sand, listening to the waves crashing, laid back in a beach chair and quietly watching sunsets.

Equipment needed: towel/chair, sunscreen, sunglasses  

The beach with kids: constantly watching the water and counting heads, sand crusted children needing your help to build a sand castle/hunt for shells/get sand out of their suit/look at their boo-boos/carry them across the hot sand/carry all their "stuff"/make them a snack/get them something to drink/go back to the condo to get what they forgot.  
Equipment needed: towels/chairs times ??, sunscreen, sunglasses, life jackets, kick boards, boogie boards, swim/scuba masks, snacks, drinks, and the list goes on. 

Let's face it, as moms, we have a tendency to over-think things. Personally, over-thinking a situation is my comfort zone. But...it leads to excess baggage. "Let's bring...just in case" or "What if we get there and we need...." Before we know it, we're making a zillion trips from the condo carrying toys/canopies/accessories that take up enough beach real estate to build a high rise condo. Collapsing on the beach from exhaustion does not count as relaxed. A beach vacation with kids is a blast, but "relaxing"? I'm not so sure at times. I've found these tips to make your beach vacation fun and relaxing.  

Limit excess baggage

Bring only what you know you NEED! We limit each child to: 1 duffel bag and 1 backpack with things to do. On our recent trip, we packed life jackets, a boogie board, a kick board and that's it for the beach. We happened to buy a pail and shovel when we got there. The kids played in the water, looked for shells, and built a sand castle with minimal tools. 

I'm learning almost every condo has a place for extra beach stuff other people didn't want to carry home. Borrow it! That's why they keep it there! (It's probably a good idea to ask the management first, if the items are not specifically in your condo unit. Just to be safe.) We borrowed chairs, pool noodles, and extra sand castle toys. Convenient and easy!

Bring a crockpot! 

I've heard this tip for years and never thought about actually doing it. DO IT!!!! Bringing a crockpot made me feel like I was on a real vacation. As a parent, vacations with kids are still work. Easy dinner recipes can be a lifesaver! Eating "in" is a great way to eat healthy and stick to your budget vacation. Doubling recipes enabled me to cook once and eat twice. On our most recent trip, we had Easy Crockpot Chicken Fajitas and Pork Roast with carrots, potatoes and onions. After cooking, I divided the portions in half to save for the next night's dinner.

Crockpot Chicken Fajitas (Beach/big family recipe) 

Two 3-lb. bags of chicken tenders 
2 packets taco seasoning 
Bell peppers and onions

1. Dump the bags of chicken and veggies (see note below) into your crockpot. 
2. Sprinkle the taco seasoning on top. 

Cook on Low 6-8 hours or on High 3-4 hours. 
Shred chicken and mix with veggies. 
Serve with tortillas, cheese and your favorite fajita toppings.
Note: With the veggies you can add them in the crockpot with your chicken, but my family doesn't like the mushy texture. Instead I take bell peppers and onions and saute them in a pan right before eating. So much better!

Tag team it!  

My husband is great about giving me opportunities to head out to the beach ALONE with only my chair, sunscreen and sunglasses. He watches the kids while I unwind. I do the same for him at a different time. Grandparents and extended family can be great tag team members. Maybe you like to travel with friends? Swap babysitting duties for the afternoon or evening. Everyone wins (eventually) when you tag team it!  

Lower your expectations

Expectations are the greatest stress inducer. If we expect a beach vacation to be as relaxing as spring break in college, we will be sadly disappointed. I've found that accepting seasons in our lives for what they are is the best way to relax and enjoy ourselves. Love the season of being with your kids because it passes all too quickly!

 What are your favorite tips for a relaxing beach vacation experience? 
 Share in the comments below! 

hip homeschool hop 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Egg Drop 2015

Our local science bowl coach hosted an egg drop.  I remember doing one of these in high school with two of my best friends.  Tera and Daniel had done one earlier in elementary school, as well.  They were so excited when they heard we were going to participate!

There were all kinds of different designs!

 The control egg

All ready to launch

Some eggs didn't fare too well!

But most did...even Michelangelo!

More experiments...

A mock science tournament...

and a scavenger hunt!

It was such a fun day of learning and being with friends! 


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